A balanced diet usually covers this need without problems, which almost always makes additional protein in the form of shakes or bars superfluous.
If you only drink a few protein shakes a day and don’t train, you’re not doing yourself a favor: the body doesn’t convert too much protein into muscle mass, but into carbohydrates and fat.
Too much protein can even be harmful over time by putting pressure on the kidneys and leading to constipation.
How carbohydrates promote muscle growth
Carbohydrates are the main source of energy during intense exercise. If there are no carbohydrates, the body has to get energy from protein, which inhibits muscle growth instead of promoting it. Carbohydrates also cause more insulin to be released in the body. With the help of this hormone, the cells of the body absorb sugar. However, insulin also stimulates muscle growth.
The amount of carbohydrates the body needs depends on body weight and the intensity of physical activity. With an hour of strength training per day, between 5 and 7 grams of carbohydrates per kilogram of body weight should be on the daily menu.
However, this only applies to moderate training, i.e. training below maximum effort. With up to three hours of training, it is 6 to 10 grams.
Ideally, strength athletes should pay attention not only to protein and carbohydrates in their diet, but also to a mixed diet with plenty of fluids and variety. The food pyramid of the German Nutrition Society can help here, for example.
Advice: It may make sense to coordinate your nutrition plan with a nutritionist to take individual needs into account as best as possible.
What food is good for building muscle?
The ideal muscle-building diet contains all the important nutrients, especially enough carbohydrates and protein. But when it comes to protein, it’s not just the amount that matters. It also depends on the type of protein supplier.
Because not all proteins are created equal: Proteins consist of smaller units, so-called amino acids. There are many different amino acids. The body needs 20 different types to build new protein (even for new muscle).
He can do most of them himself. You get the eight so-called essential amino acids through food. Examples of dietary protein sources include:
- lean meats like poultry
- Low-fat milk and dairy products, such as low-fat quark or cottage cheese
- Legumes (beans, peas, lentils, soybeans)
- Grain products such as bread, pasta, and cereals, preferably the whole grain variety
Eggs contain all the amino acids your body needs, but they are only healthy if eaten in moderation. In most other foods, on the other hand, there are only certain amino acids.
Therefore, it is advisable to combine protein sources that complement each other in their amino acid composition. A skillfully composed dish can provide all the necessary amino acids.
Good combinations are for example:
- Potatoes with eggs or dairy (such as mashed potatoes or potatoes au gratin)
- Dairy products with cereals (for example, rice pudding, semolina pudding)
- Cereals with legumes (eg lentil stew or couscous with chickpeas)
- Cereals with eggs (such as pancakes or waffles)
- Low-fat fish or meat with pasta
Shortly after training (ideally within an hour), athletes should consume carbohydrates and protein. The following snacks, drinks and foods are suitable for this:
- banana milk
- Egg dishes with bread
- sugar free corn flakes
- Porridge (with oatmeal) with milk (butter)
- Cottage cheese with fruits
How much food to build muscle?
People who exercise have a higher daily energy requirement than people who are not athletes. The amount of energy (ie kilocalories) that a strength athlete should consume depends, among other things, on the degree of exertion and body weight.