Muscle Nutrition: Power Up With Protein

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You may want what we all want, to be nothing more than lean sculpted muscle mass. Plus, you know that getting there is going to involve much more than a committed exercise routine you must have the solid nutritional base to support the workout. But this might not mean eating more, just eating smarter.

The Anatomy of a Muscle

Just about 45% of the body’s weight is made up of protein. (Note: this figure is a textbook estimate from the ‘Sports and Nutrition Guide to Working With active People’, there are many variations depending on gender, body composition and many other factors.) Depending on the ;level of physical activity an individual engages in, they should be getting around 0.25 to 0.5 grams of protein for every pound of body weight.

That is merely to maintain the muscle mass they currently have, if the goal is to gain muscle mass this small figure is insufficient. According to Kristine Clark, PhD, RD, from the Penn State Center for Sports Medicine, “The Protein requirements of a man or a woman engaging in strength training exercises should be the same, 1.5 to 2 grams of protein for each kg. of body weight,  based on studies researched here at Penn State.”

But just because, the amounts for strengthening are greater, any more than that would be counter productive. The body will only use what protein  it can to build the muscle it needs in the time it takes, this process can’t be facilitated with the consumption of more protein. For women this is about a pound in a week; with a pound of muscle containing anywhere from 70 to 105 grams of pure proteins, you will need about 10 to 14 grams of extra protein each day.

Eating more than this is pointless; the body does not store fats so everything that is not used is converted into solid waste at the expense of the extra effort, and then systematically excreted.    

5 Tips For Increasing Protein Intake

  1. Building muscles from proteins can take a lot of water to process and this can leave you dehydrated, especially if engaged in strength training routines. So, be sure to drink extra water; if two litres is recommended for regular daily activities, you will need three to four if strength training.
  2. You will need fuel to power your workouts and proteins to build muscles. If you are not getting enough healthy carbs to fuel your workout, that fuel will have to come from somewhere and this can mess up your progress. Be sure to keep your glycogen levels high for this and future workouts.
  3. To get the most out of your protein mileage, divide the meal closest to your workout into a mini-meal before and after.
  4. Avoid ‘Protein-Myopia’, a condition that causes strength builders to focus so much on proteins, they neglect the other essential food groups like veggies, fruits and whole grains. 
  5. Supplement protein consumption with some extra calories. Yes, you read that right, muscle building is an energy consuming activity, 200 calories in a day — that is after all the calories burned during regular exercise. 

Calculating Your Nutrient Requirements:

This is what active women need for lean sculpted bodies:

  • Calories: Desired Body Weight X 16 = Daily Calorie Intake
  • Proteins: Body Weight X 0.75 = Optimal Protein Intake (in Grams) — then multiply by four for total protein calorie.
  • Carbs:  Body Weight X 2.4 = Recommended Carbs (in Grams) — then multiply by four for total carb calories.
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