An Evidence based nutrition guide for gaining muscle
Bala Krishna Reddy
1. It is optimal to stay in a calorie surplus to gain muscle. I’m not saying that you cannot build muscle in a calorie deficit. But the body’s Muscle protein synthesis response decreases in a calorie deficit as compared to calorie surplus. (MPS is body’s ability to add new muscle) Ref: https://www.fasebj.org/doi/abs/10.1096/fj.13-230227?rfr_dat=cr_pub%3Dpubmed&url_ver=Z39.88-2003&rfr_id=ori%3Arid%3Acrossref.org&journalCode=fasebj So how much surplus is required? You can target 150-200 Kcal surplus above maintenance and that should be enough. If you create a larger surplus, there are high chances of gaining more fat than muscle. . 2. Total Protein per day If you are engaging in resistance training, you are causing a damage to your existing muscle fibres and your body needs protein to recover from this damage. How much protein? You can target in between 1.6 – 2.2 gms /kg of lean body weight / day for optimal muscle growth. Ref: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25056502 . 3. Protein Quality One of the most under spoken concept is the protein quality. There are good protein sources (all non-vegetarian foods) and there are protein sources with low quality (not all but some vegetarian sources). I’m not saying that all vegetarian protein sources are bad (I eat Soya chunks every day. It is a good protein source and I love it for its satiety benefits). If you are a non-vegetarian, you don’t have to worry, just get enough protein and you’ll be good. Ref: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26224750 If you are a vegetarian, then get slightly more protein than the recommended value. Ref: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/27440260 . 4. Protein Timing There is an Muscle protein synthesis (MPS) response every time you eat protein Ref: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/9252488 And there is a ceiling effect, that is beyond a certain point you don’t get a higher MPS response with more protein (you don’t build more muscle beyond a certain amount of protein consumption in a meal). For example, Whey being a quality protein source, you get almost the maximal Muscle protein synthesis response with 20gms protein (89% of maximal MPS) and doubling it to 40gms of protein only increased it to 100% of maximal MPS response. Ref: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19056590 Even absorption rates vary between protein sources and makes it even complex. So it is ideal to distribute your total protein per day into 4-5 meals and have it dosed almost equally. So that the MPS increase is seen multiple times in a day. Ref: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23459753 Apart from this, we also have evidence that having slightly higher amount of protein in dinner with majorly slow digesting proteins like Paneer, Tofu or Casein is beneficial for muscle growth Ref: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22330017 This is because our body will be in a fasting state (catabolic state) for a long period before we have breakfast. . 5. It is good to have at least 100gms of carbohydrates in your diet. In short term, the amount of muscle growth is not going to be too different with a diet having no carbs and more carbs as long as total calories and total protein are kept constant. However, carbohydrates can help you perform well in the gym and this higher performance overtime can help you gain additional muscle. . 6. Food choices in terms of Satiety Some individuals struggle to gain muscle/weight even after consuming too much food per day. If you are in this situation, you just need to consume even higher calories, which can be really challenging. Although, choosing high satiety foods is recommended for people who get to eat less calories for sustaining the diet longer. You need to eat low satiety foods to meet your caloric requirements, if your calories are too challenging to finish. Satiety index of some common foods can be found here: http://ernaehrungsdenkwerkstatt.de/fileadmin/user_upload/EDWText/TextElemente/Ernaehrungswissenschaft/Naehrstoffe/Saettigung_Lebensmittel_Satiety_Index.pdf . 7. Try not to workout in fasted state In rested and fasted states, that is early in the morning before breakfast, your muscle protein breakdown will be more than muscle protein synthesis rates. Ref: https://academic.oup.com/jn/article/132/10/3219S/4687074 And this is not an ideal condition to workout in. A small quantity of carbs or protein can reduce the muscle protein breakdown and this should be enough for your training. . There can be many other suggestions which can help individuals in their muscle growth. But the above mentioned are the major things you need to take care nutritionally. You can do everything right with your nutrition plan and still might not be able to add muscle because Exercise programming plays an equal role and they both together is going to help you put on muscle.