Hypertrophy is the increase in size of skeletal muscle resulting from the increased size of individual muscle fibres.
Increased muscle mass can be achieved by combining the right sort of training (strength / resistance) to provide the stimulus for muscle growth, with a balanced diet containing the essential nutrients to enable muscles to grow.
To gain lean weight, an individual would need to eat enough calories, carbs, fats, proteins and vitamins / minerals. If any of these were in short supply, gains would be slower.
It is estimated that to gain 1 pound (0.45kg) of muscle, an individual would need to eat an extra 2500 calories. This means to gain 1lb of muscle mass per week, you would need an extra 300 – 400 calories per day.
In practice, this figure varies depending on individual metabolism, and there is a fine balance between eating enough to gain lean muscle and eating too much and gaining fat.
muscle protein synthesis
Recent research (Macnaughton and Witard, 2014) suggests that one primary driver of muscle hypertrophy is the stimulation of muscle protein synthesis (MPS) during exercise recovery.
Several factors are important for MPS, including the type of protein eating and the pattern / timing of protein intake. recent guidelines regarding how much dietary protein individuals should consume are given on a meal by meal basis, rather than a total daily amount.
Ingesting 20g of high quality protein is sufficient for the maximal stimulation of MPS during exercise recovery. If the protein is plant based, increase levels to 25g-30g. After resistance exercise, 25g is sufficient for the maximal stimulation of MPS.
A recent study found that a dietary pattern that distributed 90g of protein evenly between breakfast (30g), lunch (30g) and dinner (30g) stimulated a greater response of MPS compared with a meal pattern that contained a larger proportion of daily protein intake (64g) in the evening meal , with a breakfast of 10g and a lunch at 16g.
Protein at bedtime has also been shown to increase the overnight stimulation of MPS.
the food bit….
Protein provides our bodies with amino acids that are used as the building blocks of muscle.
- Consume AT LEAST 1g of protein per pound of body weight on a daily basis. eg…a 180lb individual would want to consume 180 grams of protein daily.
- Ideally your protein choices should come from lean animal sources: chicken, turkey, beef, fish, eggs etc – these all provide your body with the full profile of essential amino acids (defined as those our bodies can’t manufacture on their own)
Carbs are vital for providing energy. But they are also very important for muscle growth, as carbs are stored in your muscles as glycogen for fuel and help your muscles to look full and large. Not enough carbs can make your muscles look flat and overall smaller.
- Consume 2g-3g of carbohydrates per pound of body weight on a daily basis.
- Ideally most of your carbohydrate choices should come from natural sources (not man made): oats, rice, sweet potatoes, potatoes, whole grains, starchy vegetables etc….keeping bread and pasta to smaller amounts.
DON’T AVOID FATS! Fats are essential to protect your body on a cellular level, support the nervous system and to help produce steroid hormones – essential for gaining muscle!
- When trying to gain muscle try to consume between 0.4g-0.7g of fat per pound of body weight
- Red meat is a great source of quality saturated fats – avocado, nuts / quality nut butters and olive oil for mono-unsaturated fats and oily fish, flaxseed oil and walnuts are great sources of omega-3 polyunsaturated fats.
Have fun chowing down on more calories and as long as you’re training right and putting your muscles under sufficient load – you will see improved muscle mass!
Learn how to apply performance nutrition on our Full Diploma In Personal Training.