When you look for muscle gain and start bulking up on muscles, not many are bothered about what it is which is helping you is put on more weight. While in this phase, many end up gaining weight which does include muscles but it also include gaining fat. Most people typically aim for this bulk and cut technique to have bigger and chiseled forms.
However, what gets overlooked is, during the phase when you are putting on weight, you end up piling more of fat which can at times be so stubborn that it will take quite some time to go away. This may even act as a hindrance when you want to get to the ‘cutting’ part.
The question is, can you gain muscle without really putting on fat mass? The answer is: Yes. It can definitely be done, however this comes with an important prerequisite:
Focus on eating quality food, improvise your protein portioning and train better.
So when you plan your meals, ensure that you have a balanced diet which includes quality protein. Include nutrient-dense, complex carb sources for carbs and get in good quality, healthy fat (yes, not all fat is bad and you don’t have to completely avoid it!)
Here is the breakdown of how your approach to putting on lean muscles without the fat should be:
While protein is the most important ingredient for any fitness goal, carbohydrates and fat are the two other essentials that form the macronutrient pact. While it does say that you need to control your carbs, it is not to say that you need to go on a low-carb diet. You can plan your carbs as per your training. On the days that you train harder, you could use healthy (complex carbs) liberally than you would on other days. Focus on getting to the phase where you can maximize energy and initiate better refuel. This happens when you provide your body with high quality carbs coming in from high-fiber, high nutrient foods like sweet potatoes, brown rice, whole grains and fruits and vegetables.
Protein all the way:
The amino acids, which make up protein, are the building blocks of muscle that the body needs, especially around the workout sessions for repair and recovery purposes. When you train hard, you end up going through substantial amount of tissue tear and that is why, balancing it out with the right amount of protein is essential.
For those who workout dynamically, the recommended protein intake per day is for 1.2-1.5 gm of protein/ kg body weight per day. This mean that you need to spread your per day’s protein intake throughout the day’s meals and snacks evenly. Another important thing to lookout for is to pay attention to where your protein is coming from before you decide on how much of it you need.
When you make smart protein choices your chance of increasing your lean muscle mass without fat also increases. Go for high quality class-1 protein like lean meats (chicken, fish), eggs, milk and milk products, Whey protein. Other protein sources include beans, pulses, legumes and nuts.
Coming to the fat:
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When you want to gain weight, it is no news that you need to ensure you are getting enough calories first off. And fat is a great source of calories (giving 9 kcals per gram of fat, while carb and protein give 4 kcal per gram, each).
Don’t cringe at the mention of more calories and that too from fat! Recall the part about choosing good quality calories? The quality of calories you source into your body is the base that you need to set up when putting on quality muscle. This is not to say that you deep fry your food or slather on mayo, layer after layer because fat is healthy. No. Be smart about using fat in your meals as you would do with carbs. Include healthy fat options like olive oil, avocado, fish (omega 3!!), nuts and oilseeds in your diet. Include them as your salad dressings, smoothie contents, soup toppings and fillings. These healthy sources of fat are also home to certain nutrients that actually help you deal with post-workout muscle soreness, improve mental function and improve hair and skin quality too!
Combine a well- balanced diet along with consistent, correct training sessions and you will gain just the right way.
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