Nutrition Basics

Foods and Nutrients Needed to Build Muscle



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High protein foods are often thought to be the best foods for building muscle.  However, this is almost completely incorrect.  While amino acids which come from protein are the basic building blocks of muscle fibers, there are many just as important nutrients that are necessary for muscle building.  To use an example, a house is made mostly of wood and you can have piles and piles of wood available, but without nails, hammers and most importantly workers, a house will never be built from all that wood laying around.  The average person who wants to build muscle probably consumes far more protein than is necessary to achieve their goals, what they are lacking is the other nutrients necessary for the muscle building process. 

Here is a list of the most common  nutrients that are missing and how they help in muscle building.

1.  Carbohydrates -  Carbohydrates are important to muscle building for two easy to understand reasons.  First, muscle building requires muscle damage.  When you exercise or lift weights, you damage the muscles that you are using.  In response to this, your body rebuilds those muscles and makes them stronger than they were before.  In order to 'damage'  your muscles, you need energy to exercise.  Not having enough carbohydrates will cause fatigue and weakness and prevent you from having a good workout.   The second reason carbohydrates are important to muscle building is because after you damage your muscles, your body requires energy to build the new and improved muscles.  Carbohydrates are easy to add to your diet.  Concentrate on eating complex carbohydrate foods such as potatoes and pasta.  Sugars are acceptable shortly before a workout to give you the quick energy burst you might need to get a good workout.  But really, the best thing is to include complex carbohydrates as part of every meal so that your body has a steady supply to use when it needs.

2  Vitamin A -  Vitamin A is absolutely necessary to building muscle.  In it's function, vitamin A actually holds together amino acids so they can form proteins.  With Vitamin A deficiency, amino acids are much slower at coming together to form proteins.  Most muscle building occurs in the hours after a workout, it is imperative at that time to have plenty of vitamin A available.  Almost all fruits and vegetables contain good amounts of vitamin A, and of course carrots are famous for contain huge amounts.

3.  Vitamin B6 - This vitamin is essential for muscle building because it is necessary for the body to absorb protein in the small intestines.  A vitamin B6 deficiency will cause a large amount of protein to pass right through your body undigested.

4.  Vitamin C - Necessary for ligament and tendon health.  While muscle damage is good during a workout, ligament and tendon damage is not.  It is important to have healthy tendons to support the excessive exertion involved in weight lifting.  Vitamin C is found in most fruits and vegetables, especially citrus fruit.

5.  Vitamin D -  Similar to tendons and ligaments, it is necessary to have strong bones when adding muscle mass.  Vitamin D controls the proper placement of calcium into bones.  Likewise, calcium is also vital for building muscle for the same reason.

As can be seen, protein is only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to nutrients and food needed to build muscle.  While the old school way of thinking was to drink a dozen raw eggs and have a 24 oz prime rib for dinner every night, not only will that cause an early death, but it isn't necessary to build muscle mass.  Just as important as amino acids are the vitamins, minerals and energy that are necessary in the process.  Eat well balanced meals that contain lots of fruits, vegetables carbohydrates and dairy products to make sure you have all the pieces to the puzzle when you begin your workout.


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