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If you’re looking to put on muscle weight, you may be thinking a simple protein powder addition to your morning smoothie or breakfast bowl could do the trick. But that’s not exactly the best route.

Instead, a varied diet is essential, Angel Planells, a Seattle-based dietitian and spokeswoman for the Academy of Nutrition & Dietetics, told Fox News.

“The actual act of exercising breaks down our muscle fibers, and our body is trying to rebuild muscle to make it stronger. So if we don’t get a good amount of proteins, carbohydrates, fats, vitamins, and minerals, our body will not rebuild as efficiently as it could,” Planells explained. He advises clients to aim to get 300-500 more calories per day, combined with strength training exercises, to build muscle.

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Franca B. Alphin, a dietitian and Duke University’s director of nutrition services at Student Health, agreed, noting the importance of getting those extra calories from all three macronutrients — fats, carbohydrates, and proteins —to gain weight healthfully.

Here are just a few important foods that, as part of a balanced and healthy diet, can help you put on that muscle weight:

1. A 3-ounce serving of chicken breast (Protein)
High-quality proteins are essential to build muscle — but it’s important not to overdo it, Planells said. Aim for 15-30 grams of protein for meals and snacks. If you opt for chicken, for example, stick to 3 ounces for one meal. Other quality sources of protein include eggs, beef, pork, and milk, or plant-based options including soy, buckwheat and quinoa, he explained.

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2. Bran muffins (Complex Carbs)
Whole grains release energy gradually into the body, helping sustain you during workouts and keep you satisfied longer, Planells said. Try opting for a bran muffin, some cereal with nuts and granola, or fish tacos with rice and beans.

3. A glass of milk (Dairy)
To help you get in those extra calories, try having a glass of regular or chocolate milk before bed, Alphin told Fox News. She explained that while you don’t want to eat a whole, heavy meal before you go to bed, milk is a great choice because it has both carbs and protein.

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4. String cheese and a banana (Healthy Snacks)
Another way to get that carb and protein combination? Snacks like string cheese and a banana, or a handful of nuts and a piece of fruit, Alphin said. She recommended having a snack about one and a half to two hours before you workout to give you energy without slowing you down.



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