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7 Foods To Build Lean Muscle

Published January 27, 2019 (Revised: July 09, 2019)
<article> <section> <p>All of us have a different reason for working out. We want to feel good, <a target="_blank" href="" rel="noreferrer">lose weight</a>, and improve our health. The truth is though, nearly all of us have one additional goal: to look better. This might not be your primary motivation for exercising, but it doesn’t hurt when you think about it either. After all, no one ever says they <i>don’t</i> wish they could see their abs.</p> <p>One way to improve the way we look (and feel) is to add lean muscle. Understand that you don’t have to be a <a target="_blank" href="" rel="noreferrer">bodybuilder</a> to benefit from adding lean muscle. If your goal is to lose weight or start feeling better, adding lean muscle will help. </p> <p>For starters, the more lean muscle you have, the more calories you’ll burn when exercising. Sounds good, right?</p> <p>The rewards of adding lean muscle are great, but it’s no easy task. If it was, you’d see a lot more guys at the gym with big shoulders and arms and ladies with toned legs. </p> <p>One <i>essential</i> component of adding lean muscle is what you consume right after a workout: your post-workout nutrition.</p> <p>In this article, we’ll look at how to add lean muscle through optimizing the post-workout window, how to eat after you exercise, and the top seven foods for those on the <a target="_blank" href="" rel="noreferrer">keto diet</a>.</p> </section> <hr class="divider-50 divider-medium mx-auto"> <section> <header>Adding Lean Muscle: What You Need to Know</header> <p>Calling it <i>lean muscle</i> is a bit misleading. After all, there’s no such thing as <i>fat</i> muscle. Still, calling it lean muscle points us in the direction we want to go, which is adding muscle to our frame without gaining fat. As you’ll learn, this isn’t easy.</p> <p>To understand lean muscle and post-workout nutrition, you first should understand body composition.</p> <picture class="lazy-load"> <source data-srcset="" type="image/webp"> <source data-srcset="" type="image/jpf"> <source data-srcset=""> <img src="" class="img-fluid" alt="barbell-in-gym"> </picture> <div class="sub-head">Body Composition</div> <p>Have you ever had a friend (or doctor) tell you to stop worrying about the number on the scale? If so, you know someone that understands body composition.</p> <p>Basically, the weight on the scale doesn’t always tell the whole story. As the term implies, that number represents everything you are <i>composed</i> of, not just the amount of fat you have.</p> <div class="sub-head">Measuring Body Composition: Four Components</div> <p>Here’s a simple body composition model to remember:</p> <p>Your total body weight factors in four kinds of tissue: <i>body fat, lean muscle, bone,</i> and <i>organs</i>. Obviously, your organs and bones aren’t going to change much in weight, assuming you’re a full-grown adult. But depending on the amount of lean muscle and fat in your body, your body composition could change.</p> <p>Say you weigh 200 pounds when you start exercising and sixty pounds of that is body fat. This means 30 percent of your body composition is fat. Now, pretend you start working out and losing weight. You follow a workout program for six weeks, pushing your body to the limit on each workout. You follow the <a target="_blank" href="" rel="noreferrer">keto diet</a>. You’re pumped about your progress.</p> <p>At the end of six weeks, you weigh in. You’ve dropped a whole pants size, so you’re fairly certain you’ve lost at least ten or fifteen pounds. But the scale says you weigh 196 pounds, only four pounds less than when you started.</p> <p>Discouraging, right? Think again.. This is exactly why your friend that understands body composition suggested you stop worrying about the number on the scale―because it doesn’t tell the whole story. </p> <p>If you were to measure your body composition (learn how in the next section), you might come to find that all that exercise you did during those six weeks paid off. Maybe you lost more than four pounds of body fat, but you might have also <i>gained</i> three or four pounds back in muscle. In the long run, that will help you look much better than shedding body fat rapidly.</p> <div class="sub-head">How Do I Measure Body Composition?</div> <p>There are several ways to measure your body composition and it can be a great tool to use when you are thinking about your overall weigh loss goals. </p> <p>Two popular ways are <i>bioelectric impedance</i> and <i>DEXA</i>. The first is a handheld device that measures how quickly electricity moves through your body and gives you readings based on that. DEXA is a form of X-ray that gives a similar reading.</p> <p>The easiest and cheapest way is to use skin calipers. You’ll need someone you trust to do it for you, which can be a bit uncomfortable. The measurement won’t be 100 percent accurate, but it will be close.</p> </section> <hr class="divider-50 divider-medium mx-auto"> <section> <header>So Then, What is Lean Muscle?</header> <p>We started the conversation on lean muscle by discussing body composition, but this was for a reason. Body composition helps us learn about adding lean muscle.</p> <p>Basically, the goal of adding <i>lean</i> muscle is that you don’t add body fat in the process―that you improve your overall body composition by either adding or maintaining your body fat percentage.</p> <p>Understand: you can only add lean muscle by eating enough calories. With the keto diet, that shouldn’t be hard, since about ninety percent of your calories come from healthy fats and quality proteins.</p> </section> <hr class="divider-50 divider-medium mx-auto"> <section> <header>Timing: Why Should You Eat Post-Workout?</header> <picture class="lazy-load"> <source data-srcset="" type="image/webp"> <source data-srcset="" type="image/jpf"> <source data-srcset=""> <img src="" class="img-fluid" alt="clock"> </picture> <p>During a workout, muscle tissue breaks down and glycogen is depleted <sup>1</sup>. Right after a workout is a good time to replenish what you’ve lost through physical activity. Eating the right stuff after a hard training session can help expedite recovery, grow muscle tissue, and allow you to train at a high level again sooner.</p> <p>Conversely, not eating can make it difficult for your muscles to recover. You might start feeling <a target="_blank" href="" rel="noreferrer">sluggish or weak</a>, especially after a hard training session.</p> <p>That’s where <i>post-workout nutrition</i> comes in. The science suggests that your body opens up a small ‘window’ of opportunity after you workout. During this window, your body’s ability to repair and refuel is actually enhanced <sup>2</sup>.</p> <p>Long story short: the science says you have about forty-five minutes after you workout to get food into your body if you wish to capitalize on this post-workout window <sup>2</sup>. After that, your body starts to function like it did before you exercised.</p> </section> <hr class="divider-50 divider-medium mx-auto"> <section> <header>Protein and Lean Muscle Growth</header> <p>Protein is the building block and raw material of all the tissues in our body. It is also the king macronutrient when it comes to post-workout nutrition and recovery.</p> <p>As you now know, muscle tissue is broken down during exercise. Eating protein after a workout gives your body the amino acids it needs to rebuild (or add) muscle<sup>3</sup>.</p> <picture class="lazy-load"> <source data-srcset="" type="image/webp"> <source data-srcset="" type="image/jpf"> <source data-srcset=""> <img src="" class="img-fluid" alt="gym-workout-weights"> </picture> <p>Of the <a target="_blank" href="" rel="noreferrer">three macronutrients</a>, protein is the most essential for post-workout nutrition. It is recommended that you consume about .14 to .23 grams of protein per pound of bodyweight soon after you exercise <sup>1</sup>. For a 200-pound person, that’s between 28 and 45 grams of protein.</p> <p>If your goal is to add lean muscle to your body, you won’t get far without eating an adequate amount of protein―not only after a workout, but throughout the day, too.</p> </section> <hr class="divider-50 divider-medium mx-auto"> <section> <header>Carbs vs Protein: Why Carbs Aren’t the Best Choice Post-Workout</header> <p>Plenty of science out there says that proper post-workout nutrition should also include a liberal dose of carbohydrates. Some conventional wisdom in the bodybuilding world (what some call ‘bro-science’) says you should actually eat <i>three times</i> more carbs than protein after you train.</p> <p>For those counting at home, that’s nearly eighty grams of carbs. Obviously, if you follow the ketogenic diet, that’s a problem. </p> <p>Here’s why they say carbs are important. Eating carbohydrates raises insulin in the blood, and insulin is an <i>anabolic</i> or ‘building’ hormone. It would make sense, then, that adding carbs to your meal would help you build or maintain muscle.</p> <p>But keto dieters can rejoice, because carbohydrates are not an essential part of post-workout nutrition or adding lean muscle. In fact, one study found that eating all protein and no carbs after a workout increased muscle growth <sup>4</sup>. </p> </section> <hr class="divider-50 divider-medium mx-auto"> <section> <header>The Keto Diet: How It Promotes Lean Muscle</header> <p>There are two reasons the ketogenic diet is an ideal nutritional approach for adding lean muscle.</p> <div class="sub-head">1. You’re Eating Lots of Protein</div> <p>About twenty-five percent of your daily calories will come from protein on the ketogenic diet. That’s over one-hundred grams of protein, which your body will break down into amino acids that can be used to grow muscle and other tissues.</p> <div class="sub-head">2. Calories Matter and Fats Have Plenty</div> <p>We haven’t talked about fats at all yet, and you might be wondering where they fit in, or if they’ll help you add lean muscle.</p> <p>When it comes to lean muscle, there’s something you need to accept: adding muscle requires you to eat a lot of calories. Although it’s not impossible, this is why it’s difficult to both lose weight and add muscle simultaneously. Your body is unable to add lean muscle if it doesn’t have enough calories to keep essential organs like your brain functioning.</p> <p>So, just know that you’ll need to make sure you are eating enough if you want to add lean muscle. That’s where fats come into play. Fat is a caloric king when compared to the other two <a target="_blank" href="" rel="noreferrer">macronutrients</a>. After all, every gram of fat is nine calories compared to only four in protein and carbs.</p> <p>This is how fat helps you add muscle: by supplying your body with a liberal amount of healthy, calorically-dense fats.</p> </section> <hr class="divider-50 divider-medium mx-auto"> <section> <header>Top 7 Post-Workout Foods for Lean Muscle</header> <p>Alright, we’ve made it. Now that you’ve learned about body composition, post-workout nutrition, proteins, fats, and carbs, we can dive into the best keto-approved foods for you to eat after exercise.</p> <div class="sub-head">1. Protein Powder</div> <picture class="lazy-load"> <source data-srcset="" type="image/webp"> <source data-srcset="" type="image/jpf"> <source data-srcset=""> <img src="" class="img-fluid" alt="eggs-in-carton"> </picture> <p>There are several types of keto-approved protein powders. You’re in luck, because we broke it down already in <a target="_blank" href="" rel="noreferrer">this guide</a>.</p> <p>Protein powder beats all other foods for one reason: it’s easily digestible in liquid form. If you want to beat that forty-five-minute window, it doesn’t get much easier than drinking a protein shake.</p> <p>Now there are a lot of different types of protein powder out there, but here at warrior made we believe that collagen protein is the absolute best choice. To learn more about the number one collagen protein on the market check out our <a target="_blank" href="" rel="noreferrer">Go2 Protein Powder</a>.</p> <div class="sub-head">2. Salmon</div> <p>It seems like every time we do a list of the top foods for keto dieters, salmon makes the cut. It’s a <a target="_blank" href="" rel="noreferrer">superfood</a>. It’s full of omega-3 fatty acids that helps <a target="_blank" href="" rel="noreferrer">reduce inflammation</a>. And, it’s great for keto dieters’ post-workout meals.</p> <p>A combination of quality proteins and good fats makes salmon perfect for you after exercise.</p> <div class="sub-head">3. Eggs</div> <p>One egg has about seven grams of protein and five grams of fat <sup>5</sup>. They are also low in carbs, which makes them a no brainer when on the keto diet.</p> <p>They are also great for building lean muscle. Plus, they’re super versatile <a target="_blank" href="" rel="noreferrer">and are perfect for simple and delicious recipes</a> with.</p> <div class="sub-head">4. Nuts</div> <p>You’re starting to see a trend now: good doses of protein plus high quality fats equal good keto post-workout nutrition. </p> <p>Nuts like almonds, walnuts, and macadamia nuts fit in perfectly after you train. They contain enough protein to get the amino acids in quickly and are packed with calories to help give you energy.</p> <p>And honestly, other than protein powder, they’re about the most convenient food on this list.</p> <div class="sub-head">5. Coconut Oil</div> <p>As you read earlier, the post-workout window is good for adding muscle. It’s also a time when your body is primed for burning up fat, fat just like <a target="_blank" href="" rel="noreferrer">MCT-oil containing</a> coconut oil.</p> <p>Cook with it or add a little to your meal to maximize your forty-five-minute window.</p> <div class="sub-head">6. Green Veggies</div> <p>While green vegetables aren’t going to offer amino acids or a ton of fats to help you feel energized, they will do something else nothing on this list can: provide you with the <a target="_blank" href="" rel="noreferrer">micronutrients</a> you need to stay healthy.</p> <p>Exercise, like eating well, is part of a lifestyle. This means you do it often. Adding in some green veggies might not pack on the muscles on its own but will keep your cells healthy and functioning so that the protein on the other side of the plate can.</p> <div class="sub-head">7. Avocado</div> <p>Avocados also sit on the list of <a target="_blank" href="" rel="noreferrer">superfoods</a>. They are packed with micronutrients, fiber, good fats, and even a little protein.</p> <p>Avocado is good to eat anytime, but after a workout your body will be primed to absorb as much as it can from this tasty fruit.</p> </section> <hr class="divider-50 divider-medium mx-auto"> <section> <header>Adding Lean Muscle with Warrior Made</header> <p>Wrapping this up, here are the important things you should remember about adding lean muscle:</p> <p>The weight on the scale doesn’t tell the whole story. Remember that body composition is more accurate than body weight, especially if you’re <a target="_blank" href="" rel="noreferrer">exercising regularly</a>.</p> <p>Adding lean muscle is a great goal for anyone to have, not just a bodybuilder. After all, more lean muscle means you’ll burn more calories just sitting around the house.</p> <p>There is a forty-five-minute window after you exercise where your body is primed to take in nutrients to rebuild and grow lean muscle. To reach your fitness goals faster, capitalize on that by eating quality keto-approved foods, especially the seven listed in this article.</p> <p>Ready for your own <a target="_blank" href="" rel="noreferrer">body transformation</a>? At Warrior Made, we’re helping people of all ages and experience levels lose weight, add muscle, and get healthy through simple, but powerful, lifestyle changes. Whether you need help with post-workout nutrition or finding an exercise routine you can <a target="_blank" href="" rel="noreferrer">do from home</a>, we’re here to help.</p> <div class="sub-head">Resources</div> <ol> <li><a target="_blank" href="" rel="noreferrer">International Society of Sports Nutrition position stand: nutrient timing</a></li> <li><a target="_blank" href="" rel="noreferrer">Nutrient timing revisited: is there a post-exercise anabolic window?</a> <li><a target="_blank" href="" rel="noreferrer">Changes in human muscle protein synthesis after resistance exercise</a> <li><a target="_blank" href="" rel="noreferrer">Effects of dietary carbohydrate restriction</a> <li><a target="_blank" href="" rel="noreferrer">Good Eggs: For Nutrition, They're Hard to Beat</a></li> </ol> </section> </article>

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