You've just joined a gym, you've been a couple of times and gone round the machines working out what they're all for, you've even picked up the dumbbells to try and get an idea just how much you can handle.
The spotty 19 year old that's just gained his HNC in Health and Fitness (Including Gym Instructor) certificate, has written you a training program, you've completed it a few times now and the pain you first experienced is not quite so bad now. That "I want to build some muscle, but I don't want to get too big" attitude you first had is fading, you look at your arms in the mirror as often as possible wondering what the hell is going on. "why the hell are my arms not growing?" you ask yourself, I mean you've been going now for three weeks and you don't have arms like Shaun Davies, where are you going wrong?
You determinedly head for W.H. Smith, you know what you need to help you move further down the path to Olympia, you need to buy a bodybuilding magazine. When you get there you walk in knowing what you need, you walk to the rack and look past Fast Car and Max Power, you eyes linger slightly longer as you pass Penthouse, Men Only and Hustler, (I've blown my money at this point, so that's why I never grew!), you spot them in beside the martial arts magazines and the "lads mags", you look and ask yourself which one? You browse, looking at the pictures, unsure which is best you buy the one with the most big guys, after all they must have read it too to get a build like that, right?
You start to read the articles in the magazine, "Arnold's Arms in 30 Days" and "Eat Big to Grow Big", they sure seem to make your time in the toilet pass quickly, only when pins and needles, a pissed off flatmate or girlfriend shout angrily "are you still in there?!? Do you realise the time!?"
But seriously, you read and you do start to learn some worthwhile information which will educate you about your body and how many of your body systems work, the only problem is many of the articles will eventually contradict each other and can be confusing after a while.
This article whilst being light hearted is supposed to assist anyone looking to gain the most they can from their new exertion. Most people eat when hungry, and eat something they enjoy; athletes from all genres of sport do not have the same freedom, except darts and snooker players. Food is fuel and nothing more; if you want you muscles to perform you need to eat food that will allow your muscles to respond in the way you would like them to.
A good rule of thumb is to eat 5 or 6 times a day, a meal can be as simple as a protein drink or meal replacement. Personally I cannot face a traditional breakfast when I first get up, so I tend to blend a banana with some Extreme Whey for breakfast.
Each meal should consist of a good protein source, poultry, steak, eggs or quality protein powder, it should also contain GOOD carbohydrates, oats, potato, rice even pasta are all good starchy carbohydrates which the body will digest slowly without upsetting the body's insulin and blood sugar levels. Fibrous carbohydrates are also important and often very low in calories, if cooked properly they are also high in essential minerals and dietary fibre which keeps you regular, as your granny might say. Some fibrous carbohydrates like mushrooms only contain 6 calories per 100 grams, your body will burn off more calories digesting mushrooms than they contain, so they are a kind of negative calories.
Carbohydrates are simply described as an easily accessed energy source which the body will use during aerobic exercise; they are also stored in the body if not used up. Unfortunately they are stored as fat. I also mentioned carbohydrates as being starchy, this means they are complex rather than simple.
Refined carbohydrates are mostly found in man made sugary products, and they are the ones most easily stored as fat due to how quickly they are digested, they also cause a large insulin release which is definitely not good for many people. With simple and refined carbohydrates the body does not have enough time to burn them off so it saves them up for such times that it may not get enough food, how it stores them is as fat.
The third part of the equation is fat, not the stuff hanging over your belt, the stuff found in your food. There is good fat and bad fat, good fat is found in fish like salmon and trout. Every cell in your body has a protective coating around it called a membrane, this membrane holds the cell together and yes you've guessed it the membrane is made of fat.
It is also thought that people get fat because their bodies hold on to fat in an attempt to manufacture or because good fat is deficient in our diets. The fats we need are Omega 3, Omega 6 and Omega 9 fatty acids. There are more but those are the main ones and can be bought as supplements to add to our diet, leaving no excuse for not getting them. Another reason for gaining fat is insulin, if we eat a lot of simple carbohydrates our body produces insulin which is the hormone that promotes the storage of the nutrients we eat. Some people are more and others less sensitive to insulin, this is why some people can eat sweets all day long and nothing happens, others (like me) only have to whisper "trifle" and they've gained 4 kg.
So excess carbohydrates are stored as fat, and excess fat is also stored as fat, so what about protein? First the body must break protein down into carbohydrate and if it is not utilised as energy it would then be stored as fat like all other carbohydrates but as I have said every cell in the body contains protein, growing muscles get bigger due to storing increased protein, protein is also the hardest food for the body to digest and causes your metabolism to speed up, burning more calories.
So to summarise, eat 5 or 6 meals a day, each one should contain a good protein source, a few good carbohydrates and be low in fat. I believe you want 40 grams(ish) of protein per meal, and depending upon your body type you need to decide how many carbohydrates you will have along with it, if you are trying to shed fat and tighten your body up you'd be best to increase your protein and fibrous carbohydrate (vegetables) intake while keeping starchy carbohydrates lower and sugars next to nothing. On the other hand if naturally lean you will need to eat more starchy carbs to keep your body fuelled, you can even afford to eat more sugars. Eating regularly is most important to the owner of this physique, if your body starts to run low on carbs it will start to use protein for energy, and if using protein for energy it certainly will not build new muscle tissue.
Good solid meals have always been the cornerstone of building muscle and staying lean, but as science advances in every field supplements have become specifically engineered to suit the needs of the human body and are more comprehensive in goodness than many solid meals, especially convenience meals.
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