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Nutrition For Lean Muscle Gain

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Nutrition plays a vital role in the development of lean muscle tissue from resistance training. In combination with training and recovery it provides the difference between measurable results and a clear lack of achievement in the gym.

The majority of serious weight trainers are more likely to be deficient in protein than carbohydrate. Today's dietary choices are high in carbohydrates and fat. It can be difficult to find low fat sources of quality protein. Therefore it is often easiest to plan a strength trainer's diet around their protein intake.

It has been demonstrated that athletes participating in serious strength training require significantly greater amounts of protein than the RDA (1). Weight training athletes are recommended to consume upwards of 2 grams of protein per kilogram of lean body mass, per day (2). For example if an athlete weighs 100kg, with 10% body fat they have a lean body mass of 90kg. When in hard training an athlete of this body weight will require between 180 and 200grams of protein per day.

The body can only digest approximately 30gm of protein per meal. This limit is because most food protein sources consist of very long chain proteins. It takes your body time and vast amounts of digestive enzymes to break them down. Your body does not have a limitless supply of these digestive juices, so when they run out so does your protein absorption. (ref)

Therefore strength-training athletes require regular protein meals throughout the day (between 5-7 meals). This can be difficult to achieve when today's lifestyle demands continually leave us short of time and in need of quality nutrition. The most convenient way to achieve this amount of protein is to use protein supplements at specific times throughout the day.

Traditionally we eat a healthy and satisfying lunch and dinner however the in between meals can be difficult to consume or prepare. This is where a meal replacement or protein supplement is of most benefit in providing a convenient, low fat, great tasting snack or post workout meal.

If a serious strength trainer is attempting to increase lean muscle tissue most meals will consist of a high quality protein source and a complex carbohydrate. CNM recommends consuming the majority of carbohydrates earlier in the day, keeping refined carbohydrates to a minimum (for further information on carbohydrate metabolism refer to weight loss reference article). Sources of quality protein include:
" Poultry
" Fish
" Eggs
" Beef
" Game
" Lamb
" Cottage cheese

These types of protein should form the basis of any healthy athlete's protein intake. However it is often necessary to add protein supplements such as meal replacement drinks, whey protein powders or high protein food bars to the diet in an effort to meet the bodies protein requirements (5-7 meals at 25 - 35 grams protein per meal).

The benefits of such products are the convenience, digestibility and cost. An example of a diet containing approximately 200 grams of protein would be as follows:


1whole egg ,4 egg whites on 2 slices wholemeal bread 50gm rolled oats
50grams turkey or blend-scoop of whey protein with 50gm rolled oats ,fruit, 1 Tbs natural yoghurt,honey, cinnamon, 200 ml water

Morning tea:

1 meal replacement or sardines on wholemeal toast


1 chicken breast,1 cup wholemeal pasta ,tomato based pasta source and 1 cup chopped vegetable or 150 grams beef, 1 cup mixed vegetable, 2 sweet potatoes

Afternoon tea:

1 food bar
1 cup of coffee or 1 meal replacement

Post Training:

Rapid recovery sachet or 1 scoop of whey protein with 50 grams maltidextrin

Evening Meal:

1 fillet of fish with mixed salad or 1 chicken breast with mixed salad as fajitas

Many athletes now recognize the benefits of protein supplementation, which include rapid absorption, low fat, high essential amino acid content and great taste.

Sport supplementation has often been seen as a cowboy industry with false scientific claims and little return for the money spent. Therefore as a weight training athlete you would be best advised improving the macromolecule quality of your diet ensuring the protein quality and content 7 days a week, 52 weeks a year. We recommend the following guidelines for strength athletes in order to increase lean muscle tissue:

" Regular ingestion of quality protein (derive approx. 30 gram per serve)
" Low fat meals (avoid deep fried and fast foods)
" Maximise unrefined carbohydrate sources (e.g. oats, wholemeal , vegetables)
" Increase essential fat intake (specifically omega 3 fatty acids found in fish)
" Take in whey protein source combined with mix of fructose and glucose immediately post training

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Neither nor the authors of this publication assume any liability for the information contained herein. The Information contained herein reflects only the opinion of the author and is in no way to be considered medical advice. Specific medical advice should be obtained from a licensed health care practitioner. Consult your physician before you begin any nutrition, exercise, or dietary supplement program.

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