How to Eat for Size, And Why it Really Matters!

How to Eat for Size, And Why it Really Matters!

Here comes the other really important piece of that puzzle – eating for size. Because all athletes, bodybuilders and gym rats know that your gains in the gym are as much to do with diet as they are your actual training... if not more so.

Remember, when you create microtears, it is then up to your body to grow the muscle by providing it with protein and amino acids which come from your diet. If you don’t have that protein, then your muscle doesn’t grow. In this case, all you’ve done is damage the muscle and caused it pain but you haven’t given it any opportunity to benefit from that stimulus. This is the epitome of ‘all pain, no gain’. And your diet will support you in many other ways too. If you’re looking to grow, then you need to make sure you are also fueling yourself with nutrients, fats and yes, carbs.

Let’s take a look at why.

Macros for Muscle Growth

If you are starting a new training regime with the goal of building muscle, then you need to also increase the amount of food you’re consuming. Most important here is the protein, for the reason we’ve just discussed: your muscle is made of protein. If you don’t have the protein your body needs available when it needs it, then it can’t grow.

So just how much protein do you need? While this is a hot topic for debate, the general consensus according to research is that you need to consume at least one gram of protein for every one pound of bodyweight. So if you weigh 170lbs, then you need to eat 170 grams of protein. That’s a lot! But it’s possible if you just learn to start eating lots of eggs and chicken and if you consider supplementing with protein shakes as well.

Next up is the energy. Another general consensus here is that in order to grow, you need to be maintaining a caloric surplus. That means you need to eat more calories than you burn, which makes sense when you consider that building muscle takes energy and that energy needs to come from somewhere.

Some of this energy is going to come from your protein. But the vast proportion of it will instead come from your fats and from your carbohydrates.

Fats are particularly important because they aid the absorption of other foods in your diet and because they help the body to produce testosterone, leading to better growth. Testosterone is a sex hormone that is made from cholesterol – so you really need fat to maintain maximum anabolism.

Fat also has the benefit of releasing energy slowly and thereby not spiking the blood sugar. This is in contrast to sugar (which is found in carbs), which immediately enters the blood causing a sudden spike. This in turn causes a rise in insulin and insulin encourages fat storage. What’s more, is that this then causes a blood sugar dip and that results in high cortisol which burns muscle and makes us want to snack on junk food.

So this has led some people to stop eating carbohydrates altogether. That is not the answer if you want to build muscle though. For starters, if you don’t eat any carbohydrates at all (called a ‘ketogenic diet’) then your blood will have very low sugar. This means you’ll constantly be producing cortisol, which in turn will stimulate the release of something called ‘myostatin’ – a compound that causes the breakdown of muscle tissue.

While it is possible to force your body to adapt to survive on ‘ketone bodies’ (energy produced by the liver), this won’t prevent catabolism or cortisol and it won’t give you as much energy for workouts and staying productive throughout the day.

So don’t avoid carbs altogether, just aim to eat complex carbs that are packed with fiber (to slow the release of sugar), combine them with fats and keep them slightly more minimal.

This is what is known as ‘calculating your macros’, which in turn is short for ‘macronutrients’. The idea is that you learn how many calories you need a day (slightly more than you burn to build muscle and slightly less to lose fat) and then spread that between the three ‘macros’:

• Protein
• Fat
• Carbs
(In that order!)


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