YMCA Healthy Living Magazine YMCA summer 2020-21 | Page 19

Bulking up can be an important performance goal for athletes and everyday gym goers alike . Commonly , athletes will desire muscle mass and strength gains – with few wanting an increase in body fat . Working with an Accredited Sports Dietitian will help you find the diet plan that fits your goals , but here are a few general tips for increasing muscle mass .
Set realistic goals
It ’ s important to be realistic with your goals and time frames to achieve your muscle mass gains . Muscle mass is influenced by genetics , training and of course nutrition . With the best nutrition , gains of 0.25-0.5 kg per week may be possible initially , but this will depend on your training . Gaining weight more quickly than this can lead to a simultaneous increase in fat mass . Many people express a desire to increase muscle mass at the same time as reducing body fat , ( e . g . during a competitive season ), but this can be difficult , as gaining muscle and losing fat have different nutritional goals .
Follow the right training program
To gain muscle mass , an appropriate and specific resistance training program needs to be followed . This program should be specific to your individual goals as well as your lifestyle and training schedule . The off-season is an ideal time to work on muscle mass gains . A strength and conditioning coach can help you develop an effective training program to achieve the right balance between resistance and other training .
Eat sufficient energy and carbohydrates
Increasing energy intake ( kilojoules / calories ) is essential if you want to achieve significant gains in muscle mass . If you ’ re concerned about gaining extra body fat , small increases in energy intake should be introduced until desired results are achieved .
For some athletes undertaking intense training , increasing their energy and carbohydrate intake can be a challenge ( due to time constraints and the fact that intense training can dampen your appetite ). While there is no one single best approach , some useful strategies to increase your energy intake include :
} increasing the frequency of your meals and snacks } eating ( or drinking ) more energy-dense snacks } eating quality carbohydrates before and after training sessions to fuel your body for the session and prevent muscle breakdown
} planning ahead to avoid missing meals or snacks or resorting to less nutritious options from the corner store or café .
Protein rich snack ideas :
} Hard boiled eggs } Home made mini quiche or frittata } Banana smoothie with Greek yoghurt and linseed , sunflower seeds and almonds } Greek yoghurt with fruit and nuts } Homemade oat and nut slice or energy balls } Tuna or chicken sandwich } Veggie sticks with hommus and / or peanut butter } Roasted chickpeas or edamame } Nuts or trail mix } A small container of lentil , quinoa and feta salad } Wholegrain crackers with cheese or nut butter } A glass of plain or flavoured cows milk
Time your protein
There is more to protein than just how much of it you eat . While the total amount of protein you eat is important , the body can only use a relatively small amount of protein at any one time . This means that the timing and spread of this protein can be more important to muscle growth . Spreading your protein over the day and including appropriate recovery options after training can achieve a positive protein balance , promoting muscle growth .
Get your supplements right
With so many supplements on the market it can be hard to know which one option is the best for you . Popular muscle building supplements include protein powders , creatine , HMB , nitric oxide , colostrum and individual amino acid supplements . These may come as bars , drinks , gels , pills and powder . However , most of these products fail to live up to expectations and the scrutiny of scientific research . Support from a sports dietitian will not only help you identify fact from fiction in the supplement industry but also provide guidance on appropriate protocols for their use .