Fitness isn't just about losing fat. It's also about building muscle. And if your goal is to increase your lean body mass, here are some things you need to do.
Focus on Micronutrients
The right vitamins and minerals are absolutely vital to building muscle. Without them, you won't recover properly and, over time, your lifts will start to decline as you fatigue.
For meat-eaters, we recommend eating a lot of veggies, fruits, and especially nuts, seeds, and beans. These foods are loaded with vitamins and minerals and help fill nutritional gaps.
For vegans and vegetarians, we recommend supplementing with B12 and possibly with other nutrients as well.
We should note that most vegetarians can get enough B12 from B12-fortified foods, but in some cases, it's not enough. If you're a vegetarian and you don't feel like you're recovering very well, consider supplementing with B12.
As for vegetables, we recommend getting about ten servings per day, depending on your activity level. The more active you are, the more you should be eating.
The easiest way to get a lot of vegetables is to make green smoothies, which we're big fans of. You can make a lot of vegetables go a long way in smoothies, and a single, giant smoothie is a great way to get a lot of nutrients in one sitting.
Go for Plant-Based Protein
When it comes to protein, you have two basic options: animal protein and plant protein.
Animal protein is great for your body because it's complete, meaning that it contains all of the essential amino acids your body needs. However, it's also very high in fat, which isn't necessarily bad, but if you want to build muscle, it's not optimal.
Plant protein, on the other hand, is incomplete. It doesn't contain all of the essential amino acids your body needs. However, it's also very low in fat, which makes it ideal for building muscle.
If you're a meat-eater, make sure you eat some animal protein every day, but also make sure you get a lot of your protein from plants. The best vegan protein powders will give you a lot of quality protein while being almost fat-free.
Note: In terms of plant-based protein, we recommend plant-based organic protein powders made from organic, whole-food ingredients. Most vegans can get a lot of protein from whole foods, but it's always a good idea to get some protein from powders as well, especially if you're working out a lot.
Don't Neglect Strength Training
You are going to need to get stronger to build muscle. If you aren't lifting heavy enough, you aren't going to stimulate the nervous system and muscle tissue to produce enough energy for muscle growth.
You'll have to go beyond just doing high reps of isolation exercises and build your strength. Here's why.
When you do isolation exercises, you're only recruiting a few muscle fibres (the smaller muscle fibres). You can do a ton of reps with these, but you're not lifting very heavy or recruiting the larger fibres (, the larger muscle fibres).
This is a problem for two reasons. First, you're not stimulating the neurological system sufficiently. Second, even if you were, you're not stimulating muscle growth because your body isn't producing enough energy to build new muscle tissue.
The moral of the story is that if your goal is to build muscle, you need to focus on the big picture. You need to get enough protein from a variety of sources (plant sources are great for building muscle), and you need to get enough micronutrients. You also need to implement strength training, and you need to lift heavyweights. If you do that, you'll do just fine building muscle.
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