Strength training aims to gradually increase the loads of the muscular and skeletal systems, which leads to improvement of their strength, strength, muscle development and bone density. To maximize the effects, also the diet of the training person should be properly balanced. What is the most important thing in the diet of a person who is building up muscle mass?


For the first time, the effect of taking amino acids after training on increasing muscle mass was demonstrated by Tipton KD et al. In 1999. Lack of adequate protein supply causes that strength exercises lead to a negative balance of muscle protein.

The demand for this macronutrient depends on several factors, which include age, sex, weight, type and duration of exercise. The general rule is to increase the supply of protein in people who want to develop their musculature. According to the position of the International Society of Sport Nutrition (ISSN), for people exercising, it is sufficient to take the protein in the range of 1.4-2.0 g / kg of body weight per day. Experts say that increasing the supply to 2.3-3.1 g / kg body weight may be beneficial only during the period of using a diet with limited supply of kilocalories (the body then uses protein not only as a building material, but also as a source of energy).

People exercising should take protein in several portions daily, approximately every 4 hours. The protein content in a single meal should be 0.25 g / kg body weight (about 20 g). It is worth to plan 3-4 rich-meal meals during the day, including a post-workout meal. The intensity of anabolic reactions (ie conducive to tissue building) occurs after the training is completed and lasts up to 24 hours, however it decreases over time. According to the ISSN, the adoption of high quality protein up to two hours after training significantly favors the synthesis of muscle proteins. They also emphasize that the most effective in the development of muscle is the regularity of protein intake (20-40 g per meal).

For those who want to increase muscle mass, it is advisable to consume an easily assimilable protein containing the appropriate amount of essential amino acids, in particular leucine. The source of such a protein can be, for example, dairy products, eggs, meat. Each of the above-mentioned products, apart from the protein content, is characterized by additional beneficial properties, e.g. milk alpha-lactoglobulin contains tryptophan, which can improve the functioning of the body under stress, improve the quality of sleep. In addition, milk also contains lactoferrin with antibacterial, antiviral and antioxidant properties. Eggs in addition to the protein of the standard composition also contain choline, which has a positive effect on cognitive functions, lutein and zeaxanthin.

What about vegetable protein? Increasing the muscle mass on a vegetarian diet is possible provided that it is properly balanced and possibly well-chosen supplementation. According to ISSN, soy containing the most optimal protein for the human body shows less stimulation of muscle building processes compared to animal proteins. The vegetable protein contains less exogenous amino acids, including leucine. Tang JE et al. In their study showed that soy isolates were more effective in stimulating muscle protein synthesis than casein, however, less than whey protein isolates.

It should be remembered that thanks to the diet it is possible to satisfy even the increased demand for amino acids, however, for practical reasons, protein supplements can also be used. As we read in the International Society of Sports Nutrition Position Stand for protein and exercise, studies whose duration did not exceed one year do not indicate that the supply of protein in the range of 2-3 g / kg body weight per day showed a negative effect on the lipid profile, function markers kidney or liver in healthy people training.

As demonstrated by Staples AW et al., Taking after training proteins in combination with carbohydrates does not intensify anabolic processes compared to taking the protein itself. This does not mean, however, that carbohydrates are unnecessary. Quite the contrary, they are important for rebuilding muscle glycogen reserves. There is no doubt that during strength exercises these reserves are running low. The extent to which these stocks are depleted depends on the intensity and duration of the exercise. Carbohydrate consumption ranges from a dozen to several dozen percent (14-40%). Supplementing carbohydrates is a prerequisite for rebuilding these reserves. A meal will help rebuild glycogen if it contains a sufficient amount of carbohydrates, otherwise proteins can also be used for this purpose.

People working on the development of muscle mass are recommended to consume 5-10 g of carbohydrates / kg of body weight per day. It is best to refill carbohydrates at the earliest after finishing your training, which will allow you to take advantage of the beneficial rebuilding of hormonal conditions. This is especially important if the workouts are extremely long (several hours) or when the interval between exercises is short. If the training lasts up to an hour, eating a meal shortly after its completion is not of the utmost importance and the glycogen stores will be rebuilt in the next several hours. According to the ISSN, if the interval between two training sessions is shorter than 4 hours, you should take carbohydrates in the amount of 1.2 g / kg body weight right after finishing the exercises. It is recommended that carbohydrates come from high GI products (> 70).

Recommendations on fat intake in people developing musculature do not differ from the recommendations for the general population. Fats should satisfy 20-35% of the daily energy requirement.

What should a post-workout meal contain?
As mentioned earlier, if the training lasts from 40 minutes to an hour, and the break before the next session is longer than 4 hours, it is not important to eat up to two hours after exercising. This is important for more intensive and longer-lasting exercises. Then it is equally important that digestion and absorption take place as soon as possible. Therefore, in such cases, it is best to use low-fiber, easily digestible products. The two most important elements of a post-workout meal are full-blown protein and high-carbohydrate carbohydrates.

We include the sources of wholesome protein
– dairy products: cheeses, yoghurts, kefirs, milk,
– eggs,
– meat,
– legume protein soy, chickpeas, beans, peas.

High and medium GI products
– banana fruit, pineapple, watermelon, peaches in syrup, dried fruit, mango, melon, apricots, papaya,
– honey,
– milk chocolate, white,
– fruit juices,
– white bread,
– millet, barley, semolina, white rice, brown rice,
– wheat pasta.

An example of a post-workout meal
The sample meal contains 20 g of protein, 67 g of carbohydrates, 8 g of fat.

Millet with honey and banana, cottage cheese
– milled millet 100 g
– honey 1 tbsp
– banana 1 medium art
– cottage cheese 150 g.

Proper hydration
Dehydration at the level of 2% may cause a decrease in efficiency and burden the cardiovascular system and temperature control system (especially if the exercises are performed in high temperature conditions). In addition, it may also result in a deterioration of cognitive skills.

Fluid supplementation is already required during exercise. After finishing it, you should replace lost liquids as soon as possible. The optimal amount is 1.5 l of water for each kilogram of lost body weight. Pure water is suitable if the duration of the training does not exceed 60-80 minutes. If the activity lasts longer, it is best to use liquids for athletes containing glucose (6-9% of the weight of the drink) and electrolytes in proportions allowing for effective replenishment of lost micronutrients (sodium, potassium, chloride) and water.

The presence of sodium additionally stimulates the feeling of thirst, thanks to which irrigation becomes even more effective. They are so-called isotonic beverages that are optimally absorbed in the gut and do not cause gastrointestinal load. Oral irrigation fluids used to supplement water in the course of diarrhea are not able to replace an isotonic drink because they have a higher sodium and potassium content, and lower carbohydrates. Low-fat milk works well in dehydration, as it contains electrolyte and sugar concentrations similar to those found in isotonic drinks.

A post-workout meal is valid regardless of the time at which the workout will be consumed. The key is, however, the composition of a full-day diet and it is essential to support the effectiveness of exercise. Intensive physical activity or workouts lasting up to 80 minutes a day require the supply of adequate amounts of proteins, carbohydrates and fats in a daily ration, and the key to the optimal absorption of these ingredients is the regularity of meals and high quality of products.

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