A healthy diet and regular exercise are essential if you want to build lean muscle and while it’s important to push your body through exercise, without the right nutritional support your development will stall. Foods high in protein are crucial for building muscle but energy must also come from carbohydrates and fats.
If gaining lean muscle is your aim, eating more calories from foods that promote muscle growth each day and engaging in regular exercise should be your main priorities. In an interview with HT Lifestyle, Functional Nutritionist Mugdha Pradhan, CEO and Founder of iThrive shared a list of nutrients to consume to build your muscle health –
1. B Vitamins: B Vitamins, especially B6, folate, and B12 are important for muscle growth and recovery. Both B6 and 12 help in protein metabolism. Also, because the B vitamins are soluble, our body tends to excrete them. Thus, regular intake of B vitamins is necessary.
2. Magnesium: Magnesium supports healthy muscle functions. It helps improve workout performance and also helps muscles relax after a tough workout session. One of its most notable functions is its impact on other nutrients. For e.g., Vitamin D gets activated in the presence of magnesium.
3. Omega 3: It helps minimize inflammation in the body, which helps in improving your strength and in post workout recovery. All in all, it helps in maintaining muscle health.
4. Creatinine: Creatine helps build lean muscle mass and muscle recovery. It assists in the production of energy which can help athletes get the boost of energy required for short bouts of exercise.
Aman Puri, Founder of Steadfast Nutrition, revealed, “Exercise is an intense activity that improves one’s overall health and well-being, leads to the release of feel-good hormones, and helps maintain an active lifestyle. However, exercising can lead to the production of more bodily stress which increases the demand for certain nutrients to support the healthy and normal functioning of the body.”
He listed the macronutrients that contribute to a major part of our daily diets:
1. Protein: Proteins are made up of amino acids which play an important role in muscle synthesis, repair, and recovery. One can get protein from foods such as fish, chicken, eggs, beans, lentils, legumes, soy products, yogurt, cottage cheese, nuts, nut butter, seeds, and certain vegetables.
2. Carbohydrate: Carbohydrate is another macronutrient that ensures the supply of much-needed calories as well as energy to the body while working out. Whole grain cereals, pulses, legumes, oatmeal, vegetables, and fruits are a few of the many sources of complex carbohydrates that can be included in the diet for enhancing muscle build-up.
3. Fats: Fats are equally important in the muscle-building game as they help in the movement of muscles, blood clotting, protecting the cell membranes, absorption of other important nutrients such as vitamin A, D, E, and K, and help maintain the hormonal levels which are much needed for muscle growth such as testosterone- a hormone that naturally declines with age, and supports muscle building. People on a low-fat diet can have low levels of testosterone which can make it difficult for them to gain muscles. Include healthy unsaturated forms of fat in the diet through foods such as avocados, almonds, walnuts, flax seeds, and their oil, pumpkin seeds, chia seeds, fatty fishes, olive oil, and others.
4. Micronutrients: Micronutrients such as iron, calcium, vitamin D, magnesium, and potassium also play a vital role in supporting muscle growth by optimising performance during workout sessions. These micronutrients are generally required in small amounts by the body, hence one can easily get these by maintaining a balanced diet or by including a multivitamin supplement in their daily routine. Ensure a proper intake of water throughout the workout as it helps avoid dehydration, improves digestion, and transports nutrients to all the muscles.
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