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What should you eat for muscle building?

16 December 2019|Nutrition

Muscles are important for a healthy body, and building and maintaining them greatly impact our body and health. Proteins play a significant role in this. In this article, we provide all the information you need about the importance of proteins and what to eat for optimal muscle building.

Why do you need proteins for muscle building?

A large portion of your muscles consists of proteins, and like all other cells in our body, they are continuously broken down and rebuilt. This difference between protein synthesis (formation) and protein degradation (breakdown) is what we call the protein balance.

When you have a protein-rich meal, it stimulates the creation of new proteins, leading to a positive protein balance. However, if there are no proteins available, your body will start breaking down proteins, resulting in a negative protein balance.

This process continues throughout the day and generally sustains your body when you move enough and eat a healthy and varied diet.

What promotes muscle building?

With proper resistance training or strength training, you can increase muscle mass in your body. When building muscle mass, new proteins are added to existing muscle fibers, making them larger.

This is also known as (muscle) hypertrophy or muscle growth, and it's essential to create a positive net protein balance, where your body creates more proteins than it breaks down.

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How much protein do you need for muscle building?

The daily protein intake for most people ranges between 1.0 grams to 1.8 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight per day.

If you're intensely into weightlifting and/or training for hypertrophy, you can increase this intake to 1.6-2.0 grams of protein per kilogram.

The leucine threshold

Proteins are composed of amino acids and form the building blocks of all proteins in the body. To build muscle mass, it's necessary for your body to get all these amino acids, with the amino acid leucine being particularly important.

Leucine is one of the well-known branched-chain amino acids (BCAAs) and is responsible for stimulating muscle protein synthesis.

It's crucial to consider the so-called leucine threshold. This means your body needs 2-3 grams of leucine per meal to maximize muscle protein synthesis.

A meal containing approximately 0.3 grams per kilogram of body weight of high-quality proteins is generally enough to meet the leucine threshold. This translates to about 20 to 40 grams of protein per meal for most people. You can also use our plant-based protein shake, Orangefit Protein.

What are good sources of protein?

Not only the quantity but also the quality of proteins plays a significant role in building muscle mass.

Animal proteins (eggs, meat, fish, and dairy) generally contain more essential amino acids and leucine than plant-based foods. Still, it's not a problem to get your proteins from plant-based sources.

Orangefit Protein, soybeans, quinoa, hemp seeds, chia seeds, and spirulina are complete sources of protein, and legumes, whole grains, mushrooms, and nuts also contain a lot of plant-based proteins.

Moreover, you can significantly improve the overall protein quality of a meal by combining various plant-based protein sources (e.g., whole-grain bread with hummus or nut butter, or rice with corn and beans).

It's essential to remember that when you primarily get your proteins from plant-based products, you might need a slightly higher protein intake to achieve the optimal amount of leucine per meal.

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Do you need to eat proteins with every meal?

It's not necessarily crucial to eat proteins with every meal.

However, studies do show that spreading your protein intake evenly across three equal meals per day has a more significant effect on muscle protein synthesis than having a protein-rich meal at the end of the day, for instance.

So, it largely depends on your personal goal.

Are you into strength training and/or aiming for optimal muscle growth? Then it's best to evenly distribute your proteins across several meals throughout the day.

If you work out a few times a week for your health and don't have any specific goal, having a protein-rich meal around your (strength) training sessions is good. Still, the total amount of protein per day matters more than its distribution.

In general, it's better to have fewer small snacks and opt for more complete meals that provide better satiety and also contain enough carbohydrates, fats, and fibers.

More than just proteins

Many people believe that you should only eat more proteins or have a protein shake to build muscle mass.

Proteins are indeed important, but there are several other nutrients your body needs.

For instance, you also need enough carbohydrates to perform well, and healthy omega-3 fats are essential for building and repairing your muscles after a workout or training session.

A good intake of micronutrients such as B vitamins, vitamin C, and minerals like zinc, iron, calcium, and magnesium is crucial too.

A varied diet with plenty of vegetables, fruits, enough proteins, healthy fats, and carbohydrates promotes optimal muscle building.

This not only enhances your body but also boosts your health and performance!

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