There are thousands of angles people like to attack weight gain through muscle building. There are strategies, tips, cheats, hints, and all-around philosophies no matter where you look. But quite honestly, the best strategy is the one you make for yourself with this essential information. You can always use the help of a doctor, nutritionist, or personal trainer, but the key is to create a strategy that works best for you. Sure, there are rules you cannot break even if you are the one making the rules. But taking the basic information about the nature of muscles and protein ingestion, then making a strategy that fits your lifestyle is the best strategy.
Protein: An Essential Building Block Muscle Gain
When you are trying to gain muscle, you might as well eat muscle. After all, you are what you eat is not just an old-time saying. Your body is constantly burning off and replenishing your body with what you put in it. Every month you produce new skin as dead cells are shed away. Every five days your body creates a brand new stomach walling. No part of your body is the same as it was three years ago. So if you are someone that wants to build muscle, and muscle is made of protein, what should you naturally eat? Obviously the answer cannot be anything but protein.
Whether you are talking about protein, carbohydrates, or fat, you are essentially speaking about hydrogen, carbon and oxygen. Each can be found in the prior list. So what separates protein form carbohydrates and fats? Protein alone has the presence of nitrogen. There is a direct correlation of nitrogen to muscle growth and retention. Having enough nitrogen in the body means not having your muscles break down during or directly after physical exertion. The more oxygen you can keep in your body after exertion, the more you can develop and retain muscle. This is why protein is so important for those attempting to build muscle.
Often called the building blocks of protein, amino acids quite literally make up the proteins that enter your body and help build your muscle. The joining of amino acids create proteins. Depending on the connection created, different proteins can be created. There are 20 amino acids required to facilitate growth in a human body. And in these 20 amino acids are thousands upon thousands of molecules (protein molecules to be exact) that will be formed.
Essential vs. Non-Essential
Our bodies can make eleven of the amino acids. Those that the body can make are known as non-essential aminos. Since the body can already produce them, they are not “essential” to consume in order to promote proper human growth. The remaining nine amino acids are thus considered essential amino acids. “Essential aminos” clearly then means that they are necessary to consume to promote proper facilitation of growth. Think of the body as a country-state. There may be particular goods that are produced within the country-state, and so these goods are not necessary to consume from outside sources. However, if the country suddenly needs a good it cannot produce, then it must consume it from an outside source.
The Three-Hour Rule
Almost everyone has heard the term “balanced diet” but few actually know or care to follow what this entails. Likewise, few know how to consume “complete” proteins in order to facilitate healthy muscle growth. The general rule with protein is the three-hour rule. The rule is quite simple. One must consume “complete” proteins every three hours in order to keep the body working at optimal levels. After three hours, the body’s metabolism tends to drop off and storage of fat will often increase. By keeping the body continually fueled, one can avoid extra fat storage. If you think of the body as a car the idea may make more sense. Taking in complete protein every three hours is like getting your oil changed in your car every three months. If you keep up with maintaining your car, it will run better. So too will your body run better if you take care of it.
Complete vs. Incomplete
Hopefully by now you are asking, “What is complete protein?” Remember that there are 20 different amino acids. And not every protein contains all 20 of those amino acids. Thus, to have complete protein in any mean, one should seek out foods that contain a variety of said acids. By consuming all 20 amino acids, one can have complete protein.
Supplements vs. Natural
While protein supplements are convenient and helpful, remember that they are exactly what they say in their title. They are supplements and not substitutions. Protein supplements can very much help you gain the extra necessary amino acids, protein totals, and nitrogen you need. However, they should not be utilized as a substitute for eating well on all other levels. Consider the supplements as extracurricular. Just because you do extra credit does not mean you should not do homework, right.
Vegetarianism and Muscle
Some are sure that being a vegetarian or vegan, and thus staying away from animal products, means that one cannot have proper muscle growth. By now, if you have read the entire article, you can probably guess that is not true. As long as one consumes the complete proteins and nitrogen in their diet, they will have no problem being able to build muscle. However, if we speak of bodybuilding or elite athletes then it certainly become more difficult to maintain vegetarianism or veganism. Making sure your body has enough nitrogen, amino acids, and general protein can be very difficult the more restrictive you make your diet. Usually, eating eggs or some form of diary is required if one is going to be a physical specimen. There are certainly ways around this. For instances protein powders and supplements can be used, but for vegans, many of these cannot be used either (as they have animal product in them like egg or dairy). But do not despair vegetarians. Just because it may be more difficult to become Mr. Universe or the next Heavyweight Champion does not mean it is totally impossible. And it certainly does not mean you cannot be healthy and maintain muscle.