Just as recovery is critical for positively adapting to a new training program, so is proper nutrition. Properly fueling your workouts before and after training will play an enormous role in how you progress over time.

When it comes to building lean muscle, your workout is just a piece of the puzzle.
You have to have the proper diet working for you as well.

Here are six ways for you to eat your way to lean, ripped muscles:

1. Eat a protein-rich breakfast.

Starting your day with a protein-rich breakfast has been shown to help improve body composition by optimizing hormonal production and providing a feeling of satiety (fullness), which leads to better portion control throughout the rest of the day.

2. Shoot for a total of 1.4 to 1.8 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight per day.

Protein is the key component for building and maintaining lean muscle tissue, especially in people who are engaging in resistance training programs. If the metric system isn’t your thing, this translates into .7 to .9 grams of protein per pound of body weight per day. You can always check on the foods labels to find out how much protein is in the food you eat.

3. Include protein and slow-digesting carbohydrate in your pre-workout meal.

A pre workout meal of protein and slow-acting carbohydrates will give you energy for the training session and prime your muscular system for protein synthesis. How long before a training session your should eat this meal is based on individual tolerance (some people can eat 15 minutes before a training session, while others find it difficult to train with 2 hours of eating.) A very broad recommendation is to have your pre-workout meal 90 minutes to 2 hours before training. Good slow-digesting carbohydrate sources include brown rice, sweet potatoes, and quinoa.

4. Consume a carbohydrate and protein drink immediately after finishing your workout.

Glycogen is, simply put, the most efficient energy source within a muscle. During a workout, glycogen is depleted by working muscles. You want to restore glycogen as soon as possible after weight training to begin the rebuilding and repair process, and the quickest way to do this is by integrating fast-digest if liquid carbohydrates. Glycogen also works as a facilitator, allowing cell-building protein to enter the muscles. A good general recommendation is to drink a post workout shake that has a ratio of 2:1 carbohydrates to protein.

5. Limit the amount of processed foods you consume each day.

Restricting the amount of highly processed foods you consume will improve the health of your entire digestive system as well as other systems in the body. A healthy digestive system is critical for getting the most out of the nutrients you do consume. So fewer processed foods means a healthier digestive system, which, in turn, means more nutrients getting to your muscles.

6. Be sure to keep vegetable intake high.

Vegetables contain high levels of micronutrients, which are the vitamins, minerals, and phytochemical responsible for making sure your cells are functioning properly. So get in more veggies. Your mom and your muscles will be happy you did. And, while we’re on the topic, one or two servings of fruit per day can also help deliver vitamins and additional energy during tough workouts.

These are simple nutritional building blocks that will help you gain and maintain stronger, leaner muscles. There’s no need for you to change your workouts or anything.

Just start to incorporate them into your daily routine and you’ll begin to see (and feel) a difference before you know it!

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