For all those who want a muscle definition, they should know that the key factor is to lose body weight, but they also need a proper diet and and there is no getting around exercise for sure.
You have probably heard that in order to build muscle, you need to consume lots of carbohydrates and protein since carbs fuel your muscles while protein builds them up. Nevertheless, this is not that simple as it sounds.
It has been discovered that your body has a mechanism that allows it to build muscle even when deprived of food and it turns out that protein and amino acids don’t serve just as building blocks for tissues and muscle.
Leucine is one of the most notably branched chain amino acids that also signal muscle genes to grow and to build protein. If they are circulating properly throughout your blood stream, they will do their work even when the body is food deprived.
In this article we will discuss the amount of protein and carb you need since incorporating too much of protein can cause elevated blood sugar, kidney stress and weight gain, or may even stimulate cancer growth. On the other hand, high-carbohydrate diets promote insulin and leptin resistance which turns into muscle wasting.
Foods That Promote Muscle Definition
JJ Virgin, nutritionist, fitness trainer and author of “The Sugar Impact Diet,”, recently published an article listing seven foods that can help you get lean and toned.
Moreover, Carlo Filippone, Chef and three-time bodybuilding champ, founder and CEO of Elite Lifestyle Cuisine, has also compiled a list of 20 foods that help build and tone muscle. He also recommends people to include these foods in their daily diet as much as they can. In this article we will summarize a number of their suggestions along with some other types of food.
- Wild-Caught Alaskan Salmon
This types of Salmon is a rich source of anti-inflammatory omega-3 fats and high quality of protein which can help people combat the chronic inflammation.
“These [fats] go a long way in inhibiting muscle breakdown and supporting strong blood circulation,” says Fillippone.
The recommended dose of leucine that people should incorporate in their organism cannot be ingested just by consuming 100 grams of salmon because it only provides you with 1.6 grams of leucine, but still salmon is the type of food that contains higher amounts than most other foods.
Potassium is extremely important for water balance regulation and recuperation after physical exertion which is why it is necessary for people to consume avocados. Moreover, they are also abundant in healthy monosaturated fat that your body can easily burn for energy.
If you want to lose weight, make sure to consume avocados since just one half of a fresh avocado with lunch can help you boost satiation and curb snacking.
Avocados also provide nearly 20 essential nutrients, including vitamins B, E and folic acid.
This vegetable is a rich source of many vitamins and minerals such as: copper, potassium, magnesium, phosphorus, calcium, iron, thiamin, folate, zinc, niacin, protein, vitamins A, B6, C, E and K.
Moreover it is also abundant in flavonoids that help keep cholesterol from oxidizing and protect your body from free radical damage. On the other hand, the consumption of spinach will also protect you from cardiovascular diseases due to the folate contained in it. It can also help you maintain your brain function, memory and mental clarity.
- Coconut Oil
Coconut oil is extremely beneficial for our overall health since it provides a mix of medium-chain triglycerides (MCTs), including caproic acid (C6), caprylic acid (C8), capric acid (C10) and lauric acid (C12). MCTs are an ideal fuel for your body.
It should be also mentioned that 50% of coconut oil is lauric acid which has a longer carbon chain and as a result it is not an ideal source of MCTs. Better alternative is MCT oil. As you can see, coconut oil has numerous health benefits. For instance, your body converts lauric acid into monolaurin, a monoglyceride that can destroy viruses and gram-negative bacteria. In fact, this is the part that makes it so medicinally useful.
- MCT Oil
As you know, the fat in your body needs to be mixed with bile released from your gallbladder and acted on by pancreatic enzymes in order to break it down in your digestive system. On the other hand, MCTs don’t need either of them because once they reach your intestine, they diffuse through your intestinal membrane into your bloodstream and are transported directly to your liver, which naturally converts the oil into ketones. After that, the liver releases the ketones back into your bloodstream from where they are transported throughout your organism.
As you can see, MCTs are actually used by your body for energy rather than being stored as fat.
Kale contains lots of highly bioavailable calcium and high amounts of protein. Just like meat, kale contains all nine essential amino acids which are necessary to form the proteins your body needs. Moreover, it contains other non-essential ones for a total of 18.
Just one cup of kale will provide you with vitamins for the whole week. For instance, kale will provide you with 684 percent of the daily value of vitamin K, 206 percent of the suggested daily amount of vitamin A and 134 percent of vitamin C.
Broccoli can be used in the treatment of cancer since they contain organic sulfur which is well-known for its anti-cancer activity. According to Filippone, sulforaphane also increases testosterone levels and staves off the retention of body fat.
Broccoli is extremely beneficial vegetable and people should definitely incorporate it in their diet since it is also able to block certain enzymes that have been linked to joint destruction.
Sprouts are abundant in high quality protein and they are also up to 30 times more nutrient-dense than homegrown organic vegetables. Most commonly known sprouts are: lentils, broccoli, sunflower, watercress, peas, alfalfa, mung bean and peas, and they all make nutrients more bioavailable.
The consumption of berries can help you boost your immunity and protect your heart since they contain concentrated amounts of the disease-fighting phytochemicals. For a sweet treat, berries are a good choice as they’re high in fiber and lower in sugar than many fruits, making them less likely to destabilize your insulin levels. Moreover, they can reduce your risk of type 2 diabetes and protect you from premature aging due to high levels of antioxidants contained in them.
Thanks to their potassium content, bananas are a great pre or post-workout food choice. Potassium-rich foods are highly recommended to people who workout since potassium is a mineral that tends to be exhausted by intense workout. One banana contains 467 milligrams (mg) of potassium, which is also important for controlling your heart rate and blood pressure.
According to Filippone: “Eating watermelon has been shown to improve lipid profiles and lowers fat accumulation, because of its concentration of anthocyanin, a compound that mollifies fat-storage genes. It’s refreshing, aides in hydration and can also help reduce muscle soreness after a strenuous workout. I usually melon ball them into a small container and use them as a pick-me up between reps.”
Make sure to avoid eating any other kind of food 30 minutes after you have consumed melon or watermelon since they do not digest well with other foods and they cause digestive problems.
According to Filippone, people should eat grapefruit before a workout since it aids rehydration because grapefruit is 90% water. Pink grapefruit is an excellent choice since it is a rich source of potassium fiber, and A and C vitamins. On the other hand, red grapefruit contains a bit more flavonoids and anthocyanins than white or pink grapefruit. It also contains lycopene, which helps lower triglycerides, help fight free radical damage and protect your skin from UV damage from the sun.
You should definitely consume papaya or other vitamin C rich foods after an intense workout because it will help you lower your cortisol levels. According to one study, men who consumed 1,000 mg of vitamin C per day for two weeks had significantly lower cortisol following a 2.5-hour run compared to the placebo group.
Make sure to consume unripened papaya since it contains higher amounts of digestive-resistant starch which is extremely important for optimal gut health.
- Raw Nuts
Raw nuts are an excellent source of magnesium which is extremely important for muscle growth and strength. Pecans and macadamias are great choices since they are high in healthy fats while being lower in net carbs. Macadamia nuts are one of my favorites since they have the highest fat and lowest protein and carb content of any nut.
Only one serving of macadamia nuts provide 58 percent of what you need in manganese and 23 percent of the recommended daily value of thiamin. Moreover, about 60 percent of the fatty acid in macadamia is the monounsaturated fat oleic acid.
Pecans also contain anti-inflammatory magnesium, immune-boosting manganese, phenolic antioxidants and heart healthy oleic acid.
- Grass-Fed Beef
As noted by Virgin: “Beef that’s been raised conscientiously is a perfect source of protein, healthy fats and nutrients. Grass-fed beef also comes loaded with the multi-tasking amino acid L-glutamine to help build muscle while preventing muscle breakdown.”
Moreover, it is also a rich source of conjugated linoleic acid (CLA), which has potent anti-inflammatory activity. However, you should take care of how much protein you incorporate in your body. For instance, most of the people in U.S. consume three to five times more protein than they need. The required dose is 40 to 70 grams per day, depending on the body weight.
The consumption of more protein than your body requires may cause your body to convert those proteins into sugar and then in fat. Moreover, you should also minimize your protein intake in order to minimize your chances of cancer growth. At last but not least, when you consume large amounts of protein, your body must remove more nitrogen waste products from your blood, which stresses your kidneys.
Vitamin D is essential for muscle function which is why people should consume mushrooms on a daily basis. Moreover, mushrooms have the ability to improve immune function. Just make sure to consume organic mushrooms because they absorb and concentrate whatever they grow in — good or bad.
- Olive Oil
Coconut oil, raw grass-fed butter and even lard are better option than olive oil for cooking since at high temperatures will cause to oxidize and go rancid. However, you can use olive oil cold in salads, because it is a healthy fat with many health benefits.
“Olive oil contains … monounsaturated fat, which has been shown to raise serotonin, a hormone associated with satiety, in your blood levels. You’ll feel fuller after a meal prepared with olive oil, which will help keep you from indulging in extra calories at mealtime,” says Filippone.
- Whey Protein
Whey protein contains extremely high amounts of leucine and high-quality of protein which makes it the perfect “fitness food”. It is extremely important to incorporate leucine in your body since it serves multiple functions, one of which is signaling the mTOR mechanism to increase protein synthesis and build muscle. In order to incorporate leucine in your organism, you should consume more dairy products, especially quality cheese and whey protein.
People need 8 to 16 grams of leucine per day in order to optimize its anabolic pathway, so instead of eating an enormous amount of leucine-containing foods to reach this amount, you need to consume 3 ounces of high-quality whey to reach 8 grams of leucine.
The main reason why whey works so well is that it is a protein that assimilates very quickly, and will get to your muscles within 10 to 15 minutes of swallowing it. This makes it easier to supply your muscles with the right food at the right time. This is a reason enough to consume it after an intense workout.
The journal Medicine and Science in Sports & Exercise published a study which showed that the amino acids found in high-quality whey protein activate certain cellular mechanisms, including mTOR, which as a result promotes muscle protein synthesis, protects against declining testosterone levels after exercise and boosts thyroid function. Nevertheless, you should be very careful no to stimulate TOR chronically on a daily basis because according to many studies it will decrease your lifespan.