5 Nutrition Tips to Enhance Your Muscle Growth Gains

by on July 11, 2018

As you Mountain Dog readers begin to get into muscle growth mode, there are major perks to look forward to, such as:

  • More food…hence carbs and fats
  • You get to eat out more and enjoy more social events
  • Have some brewskis with the fellas or happy hour cocktails with the girls
  • Cut down cardio or cut it out completely
  • Lift heavy weights
  • Basically, enjoy life a bit more

And enhance your physiques depending on your own personal goals.

Though a lot of people will think when it comes time to pack on some muscle mass, it’s as simple as just eating a boatload of food and lifting heavy weights, but then again, it’s just not that simple folks.

In this article, we will give you 5 Nutrition Tips to Enhance your Muscle Growth Gains.

We promise you will try one of these tips and then thank us later.

Alright, back straight, shoulders square, neck neutral, notepad out, protein shake by your side…

Here we go!

1. Shakes May Be Beneficial Over Solid Meals to Increase Overall Calories?

One great and practical tip to help sneak in some more easy calories is through having shakes over solid meals.

It’s not necessarily a black and white thing, where one is better than the other, but if you were dieting, then solid meals would most likely keep you satiated more, and in this context, building muscle wise, shakes may be an easier way to get in more calories.

We know from anecdotal evidence from ourselves and working with clients, that having shakes over solid meals does not leave you as satiated as having solid meals over shakes, it’s more of a personal preference thing and lifestyle suit in our opinions.

We will tell you one thing, we know that when you are consuming a ton of calories and macros are up, it is a pain in the butt getting in solid foods.

For example, its not the easiest thing in the world to consume 4-6 meals that consist of high-quality protein sources, starchy carbohydrate sources, and healthy fat sources. Not everyone has the time to cook these solid food sources, put meals together, or the digestive tract to consume all this solid food.

This is where shakes will make your life that much easier.

Take Home: Try incorporating shakes into your nutrition program, especially when your calories and macros are high. At the end of the day, do what works best for you, whether that’s eating solid foods or having shakes.

2. Eating Whole Foods Over Liquid Foods May Aid in More Muscle Growth Over Time

We know you are saying “whoa whoa, Chris and Eric, didn’t you just say to try liquid foods over solid foods?”

We absolutely did, but always remember context is key, we emphasized trying liquid calories above in the context of your calories being high, not having time to cooked solid meals, or having digestive issues with whole foods.

Now, in this context, eating whole foods over liquid foods may lead to more muscle growth over time, and here’s why:

  • Whole foods provide significant amounts of beneficial, and often essential, nutrients as part of their natural food matrix (vitamins, minerals, omega-3 fatty acids, growth factors, peptides, etc.) 1
  • Various research groups have also demonstrated the effectiveness of whole food protein sources to stimulate post-exercise muscle protein remodelling and repair. 2
  • Beef ingestion may be more effective in stimulating post-exercise muscle protein synthesis rates than an isonitrogenous soybean-based meat replacement. 3
  • Elliot et al. Previously showed greater skeletal muscle amino acid uptake across the leg, and presumably greater net leg muscle protein synthesis, after consumption of whole (3.25% fat) vs skim (0.5% fat) milk during recovery from resistance exercise. 4
  • Similarly, research by Van Vliet showed a greater post-exercise muscle protein synthetic response with consumption of whole eggs vs egg whites, despite being matching in protein in healthy young resistance trained men. 5

Take Home: The above examples of whole foods (milk, eggs, beef) contain a host of potentially anabolic compounds within their food matrices that may exert functional and biological activity in the human body. 6 The ingestion of whole foods, which contain a food matrix rich in vitamins, minerals, and other macronutrients, to stimulate post-exercise muscle protein synthesis remodelling may also provide additional benefits, such as improvements in overall diet quality.

3. Having a High-Quality Protein Meal or Snack Before Bed

Now a lot of you are probably thinking how do I keep my body in a muscle growth state throughout the night? I’m knocked out, getting my 8 hours. Well, new research has proven that overnight protein administration stimulates muscle protein synthesis (a key mechanism in muscle growth). 7

There were two studies done, the first being in elderly men and the second being done in recreationally active young males and they both showed that protein ingestion prior to sleep stimulated muscle protein synthesis overnight.

Protein ingested immediately prior to sleep or during sleep is effectively digested and absorbed, therefore stimulating muscle protein synthesis overnight.

It’s very fascinating and promising research so we highly recommend some sort of high-quality protein source before bed or during the middle of the night.

Just think about it, your body will be entering a 6-9 hour fast and why not have a steady stream of amino acids flowing in the bloodstream overnight and keeping MPS elevated.

Another suggestion we recommend is for those that have their calories at very high levels during a muscle building phase or having trouble consuming all of their macros through their meals during the day, you can simply have a shake in the middle of the night that contains protein, carbs, and fats and this will be an easy way to ingest some of your total daily calories.

Take Home: Try having 20-40g of a high-quality protein source before bed or during the middle of the night via a protein shake where you can blend up food sources such as whey protein, oats, and peanut/almond butters.

4. Eat More of Your Carbs Pre and Post Workout

We feel that by eating the majority of your total daily carbohydrates around pre and post workout is a game changer. There are several reasons why we think this, let us bust out our dynamic list for you:

  • You get an increase in insulin sensitivity by working out so you can more effectively tolerate and utilize carbohydrates post workout so it also makes sense to put more carbs post workout as compared to other times of the day 8

  • Since insulin sensitivity is also elevated pre-workout, it makes sense to get in more carbs to fully top off glycogen stores and have more energy for your workout 9

  • Since your overall calories are getting high and your carbohydrate intake is increased, you might as well make it a bit easier and shave off some of those carbs and have more of them pre and post workout to get the best bang for your buck

Take home: Try eating the majority of your carbs around your pre and post-workout meal. It doesn’t hurt to try something new.

5. Try Incorporating Some Refined and Processed Foods

We conclude that processed foods are nutritionally important to American diets. They contribute to both food security (ensuring that sufficient food is available) and nutrition security (ensuring that food quality meets human nutrient needs).”10

Finally, we recommend not being afraid to eat refined and processed foods or should we use the words clean and dirty foods? The clean and dirty words that have no scientific meaning or definition to them, we can’t stand these words because labelling foods as clean or dirty ignores context, and ignoring context is just plain stupid and close minded.

We are huge proponents on the diet consisting mostly of whole and minimally refined foods. But still, it’s not all that simple, since certain foods are significantly changed from their original state (i.e., whey protein powder), but still have positive impacts on health.

The point we’re trying to make here is when your caloric intake is going to be high, is going to be very hard to get traditional and whole foods in all the time because simply their caloric value isn’t high and sometimes eating too much low GI and high fiber foods can be counterintuitive when calories are high.

So, it’s safe to say that it is okay to have some refined and processed foods if your calories are high, so as long as you aren’t abusing this, as long as you’re hitting your macros, micros, and fiber numbers for the day, and not gaining too much excess fat in the process.

Take Home: When your calories are high, you are allowed to have some refined and processed foods to meet your daily caloric intake. Trust us this makes life that much easier. Think 80% nutrient-dense foods and 20% non-traditional.

Wrapping All This Up

Just to recap the 5 tips:

  1. Try having shakes along with solid meals, especially when calories get high

  2. Try having more of your diet come from whole foods

  3. Have a high-quality protein meal or snack 30-60 min before bed to stay full and keep your body in a muscle growth environment

  4. Try having more of your daily carb allotment pre and post workout for better nutrient partitioning

  5. Incorporate refined and processed foods in your diet, especially when calories get high

Now that you have these 5 tips, just remember that to keep an open mind to trying new things. Just because something doesn’t have research behind it, doesn’t mean it’s useless, because anecdotal evidence can come into play and just because there’s research behind something, it doesn’t mean it’s the end all be all. Everything is open to interpretation and should be questioned. Try experimenting with things and see what happens.

Enjoy the muscle growth gains!

1 Heaton et al. Selected in season nutritional strategies to enhance recovery for team sports athletes. 2017; Philips et al. Commonly consumed protein foods contribute to nutrient intake, diet quality, and nutrient adequacy. 2015; Zanovec et al. Lean beef contributes significant amounts of key nutrients to diets of US adults. 2010

2 Van Vliet et al. Achieving optimal post-exercise muscle protein remodelling in physically active adults through whole food consumption. 2018

3 Philips SM. Nutrient-rich meat proteins in offsetting age-related muscle loss. 2012

4 Eliot et al. Milk ingestion stimulates net muscle protein synthesis following resistance exercise. 2006

5 Van Vliet et al. Consumption of whole eggs promotes greater stimulation of post-exercise muscle protein synthesis than consumption of isonitrogenous amounts of egg whites in young men. 2017

6 Liu et al. Bioactive peptides derived from egg proteins. 2017; Park et al. Bioactive peptides in milk and dairy products. 2015

7 Van Loon et al. “Protein ingestion prior to sleep improves post-exercise overnight recovery.” J ACSM. 2012 Jan & Van Loon et al. “Intragastric protein administration stimulates overnight muscle protein synthesis in elderly men.” Am J Physiol Endocrinol Metab. 2011 Sept.

8 Antonio, Jose et al. “Essentials of sports nutrition and supplements.” 2008 & Schliess F, Haussinger D. “Cell volume and insulin signalling.” Int Rev Cytol 2003;225:187-228

9 Haff GG, Lehmkuhl MJ, McCoy LB, Stone MH. “Carbohydrate supplementation and resistance training.” J Strength Cond Res 2003 Feb;17(1):187-96

10 Weaver CM, et al. Processed foods: contributions to nutrition. Am J Clin Nutr. 2014 Apr 23;99(6):1525-1542. [Epub ahead of print] [PubMed]

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