“Eat big to get big”
That was always the advice to anyone looking to pack on some size.
It’s a pretty logical idea. If you want to build something you need the necessary raw materials.
But what if, as well as putting on the size you want, you’re also slapping on enough body fat to cover up any hard earned muscle simply making you a bigger version of what you were before?
What we need are foods and methods which cause the necessary hormonal changes to encourage muscle growth, whilst restricting any gains in body fat to the bare minimum or even better, reduce body fat.
The point of this report is to identify what foods should be the mainstay of your anabolic nutrition plan rather than looking into the application of these foods.
However, one without the other is just stupid so here are some quick principles to keep in mind when designing your anabolic nutrition plan.
At it’s very basic, the aim of any anabolic diet is to optimize insulin function which is the body’s main storage hormone. We want to store as much protein as possible in the muscles without storing fat in our cells.
However, chronically high insulin (as in the case of diets high in carbohydrates) leads to increased risk of heart complications and of course increased body fat over time.
So the key is to find ways to increase and utilize insulin at the right times.
To do this, I suggest high carb, high protein, low fat meals for the 2-3 meals after an intense training session and high fat, high protein, low carb meals the rest of the time.
This gives us the insulin surge from a high carbohydrate meal after training when our body is in recovery and rebuilding mode and a state of ‘anabolic maintenance’ until the next session when we begin the process all over again.
So the post-workout period might look something like this:
1) Post-workout carb-protein shake
2) Chicken and rice with vegetables
3) Whey protein and rice milk protein shake
4) Grilled fish or steak and sweet potato with vegetables
You would then return to high fat over high carbs such as Spinach omelette with avocado and a spoonful of almond butter for breakfast.
This is for pure muscle building.
If you have an urgent need to get body fat down as well, I would replace the carbohydrate source in the second post-workout meal with a source of fats.
However, this is likely to reduce muscle gain. It really depends on your goals and the time available to hit them!
So with these principles in mind, here are some top anabolic foods to ensure you are packing on muscle.
Overarching all recommendations of animal produce is a need to go organic wherever possible to avoid chemical and hormone intake.
Rich in protein and accompanied by the saturated fats that help increase testosterone, red meat will always be the ultimate way to increase muscle.
Red meat is also typically high in naturally occurring creatine.
However, in the interests of maintaining health, a high red meat diet is not recommended for more than 3-4 weeks and it shouldn’t be eaten more than 3 times per week for this period.
Dried meat and cured meat can be used on odd occasions for a change but should not contain preservatives or unwanted chemicals.
If you have access to lean, organic game meat, you’re at a significant advantage!
Vary your poultry sources rather than just having chicken all the time.
You can use turkey mince and turkey bacon to mix things up.
Chicken, turkey, duck, pheasant, fowl…all birds are good and enable you to get variety.
Fish and shellfish
Rich in protein with the added bonus of Essential Fatty Acids. Fatty fish will also help increase testosterone levels, so plenty of salmon and mackerel.
Go easy on shellfish and make sure you get your fish from as clean a source as possible to avoid problems of chemical pollution.
Great source of protein and the saturated fats to increase testosterone so don’t ignore the yolk!
Consume 2-3 yolks in your 5-6 egg omelette or scrambled egg.
Dairy is a subject always up for debate.
Many of the benefits touted for dairy can be got from other sources which don’t come with the potential for allergenic reactions.
It has been shown that most if not all people get some form of allergic reaction to dairy either due to full blown lactose intolerance or more minor mucous production.
You are advised to carefully monitor your own reactions to dairy.
Either way I only recommend goat products or real organic butter from grass-fed cows as these tend to have less problems associated with them whilst providing excellent sources of protein and the fats you need to grow.
The same principles apply to whey protein which is simply a dairy spin off.
If using whey, use a high quality grass fed source, organic if financially viable.
Fats also cause an insulin rise in the body but not as much or as dramatic as high sugar foods.
Fats bring many benefits to the anabolic table including increasing testosterone, cell function, reduced inflammation, more stable energy levels and s stronger immune system all of which will be needed on a tough muscle building program.
Increase your intake of fish oil, olive oil, flax seed oil, real butter, avocado, coconut oil, olive oil and nuts if you don’t have an allergy to them.
Whilst vegetables won’t directly have much affect on muscle building, they bring with them the vitamins and minerals to maintain a healthy digestive system, high energy levels and good recovery.
Because most veggies (especially green leafy ones) are very alkaline foods, they help counteract the higher acidity levels of a high protein diet ensuring you stay healthy as well.
Beans and lentils
An excellent source of different protein and complex carbohydrates, beans are good for your second meal after a training session to maintain the insulin response and to provide bulk and variety in meals.
Best eaten in the two post-workout meals, these food sources will give you a good insulin elevation without being too dramatic as with refined, processed sugars.
Choose sweet potatoes, yams, rice, and quinoa as priority carbs.
For a period of a few weeks, you can also add white potatoes and oats but these are not recommended so much long term because of the potential effects on the digestive system.
White potatoes also cause a significantly larger effect on blood sugar. Whilst this is good on a muscle building program, it is not recommended long term.
Specific, Underrated Foods
There are some foods which, whilst they come under the categories above, deserve special mention and often get overlooked in favour of more traditional ‘muscle foods’ like chicken and steak.
Another food naturally high in creatine and leucine which has been show to increase the usage of protein in food, herring is a good food source in the meal before training.
You want to control fruit intake if you are trying to minimize body fat because of the high fructose content, but grapefruit may actually help increase fat burning.
Broccoli and other leafy greens
Containing high amounts of phytochemicals which help inhibit estrogen absorption in the body, broccoli and it’s close relatives can help reduce fat storage associated with high estrogen levels allowing testosterone levels to dominate and improve your anabolic environment.
Spinach is high in glutamine which has been shown to help spare muscle and slow muscle tissue breakdown during periods of intense training.
Popeye was right after all.
Parsley can also play a big part in estrogen inhibition allowing testosterone to do its job.
The amino acid citrulline gets converted to arginine which in turn aids nitric oxide output. NO increases blood flow aiding all things muscle building due to improved nutrient delivery.
Citrulline is found in high amounts in watermelon.
If you want your girlfriend to leave you alone when you’re lifting in the gym, garlic may have more benefits than we first thought!
In terms of muscle building, garlic has the ability to stimulate testosterone production and inhibit cortisol which is man’s worst enemy when it comes to muscle growth and fat burning.
Sunflower seeds are full or arginine and glutamine which we have already mentioned are critical for muscle sparing and rebuilding. They also contain betaine which the body uses to rebuild your joints
Some studies show that supplementing with leucine WITH FOOD increases protein synthesis by 50-70%.
Try adding a sprinkling to high protein meals for an extra daily boost.
Found to increase insulin sensitivity, chromium picolinate supplementation may well give you another sneaky advantage when building muscle and burning fat.
So there you have lots of naturally occurring foods and substances to improve the results on your muscle building program.
The more variety the better so play around with yoru protein sources and make sure you get the carbohydrate-fat timings right for the best results.