We all have a pretty firm understanding as to how important of a roll nutrition plays in our strength and physique goals.
We know that if we don’t eat enough, we can’t grow. We know that if we eat too little, our performance in the gym sucks.
We also know that we need enough protein in our diets. We understand that fats are critical for our hormone balance. And we know that carbs help us train better.
I am sure we can all agree, right?
But here is where the problem lies.
We see all of this information from different experts whom all contradict each other. One preaches low carbs, while the other preaches low fat. One tells you that we don’t need carbs and that their bad, while the other says we should cycle them. One guy says we need extremely high protein, the other says low protein is enough.
What makes matters worse is that they each have a fairly good argument for their approach.
If we want weight loss, any of these approaches will work just fine. Whether you choose to put your body into a caloric deficit by limiting carbs, fats, or calories as a whole, you’ll lose weight.
If we want to gain weight, any of these approaches will work just fine as well. Whether you choose to put your body into a positive energy balance by increasing your carbs, fats, or calories as a whole, you’ll gain weight.
But weight loss isn’t the goal…
And weight gain isn’t the goal…
The goal is to build muscle and/or burn fat.
So when it comes to body composition – Muscle:Fat Lost or Gained – We have to become a bit more strategic.
This is when macronutrient distribution comes into play.
But this article is not about how many fats, proteins, and carbs you should consume. If you’re looking for that, read this: How to Calculate Macros for Mass Building
This article is about WHY…
Why do we need protein?
Why do we need fats?
And why do we need carbs?
The Importance of Protein
75% of your muscle is water and about 24% is protein. The other 1% is glycogen, fat, and salt.
Protein makes up about 20% of your body’s mass.
Despite that, the average person (people who are not active), they can “survive” with very little protein due to a survival mechanism we inherited from our ancestors. This mechanism allows us to recycle broken down protein. So although you will die if you don’t consume protein, you can easily survive with very little amounts.
But this doesn’t matter to you…
The reason is because you’re kicking ass in the gym pretty frequently. Therefor you’re breaking down a shitload of protein (in comparison to the person whom is sedentary).
And if the goal is to create new muscle tissue at an even higher rate than you are breaking it down, then that requires more protein.
The Best Protein Sources
Different foods have different combinations of 20 different amino acids. Fact is, some combinations are more potent than others. 9 of the 20 are considered essential because our body does not create them (thus we must consume them). Out of those 9, 3 are considered branched chain amino acids (BCAA). Out of those 3, 1 is the most powerful and most important nutrient for building muscle. Leucine.
Protein Sources High in Leucine
Now although there are a number of other valuable protein sources, these should be a staple in your diet.
The Importance of Carbs
The only thing carbohydrates are responsible for is energy.
This energy comes from a sugar called glucose. So whether you are consuming carbs from candy or carbs from brown rice, it converts to glucose during digestion and then becomes the preferred energy source for both the mind and muscles.
Our body could also convert amino acids into glucose (gluconeogenesis) and thus we could easily survive without carbohydrates.
However, we are not simply trying to survive. We are trying to become strong, jacked, alpha males who can lift heavy shit on demand.
Thus we need to consume enough carbs to ensure we are performing at our peak. Now this doesn’t mean that we should simply load up on candy and bread to ensure we are consuming enough carbs. It just means that getting a small portion of your carbs from these sources isn’t going to harm you.
The reason we want the majority of our carbs from starchy (complex) sources is simple. They contain more nutrients, more fiber, and help stabilize blood sugar levels better.
Starchy Carb Sources
The Importance of Fats
Unsaturated Fats: Monounsaturated and Polyunsaturated. These are considered “Healthy Fats”.
Monounsaturated fats are considered to be a great source of energy. This may lead you to believe that, again, carbohydrates are not necessary. However, like any dietary fat, they’re more easily converted to bodyfat than any other macronutrient.
Polyunsaturated fats are essential fatty acids known as omega 6 and omega 3. Both have been linked to increased prevention of cardiovascular disease and brain development.
Saturated Fats: These are the fats that most people consider to be “unhealthy”. Perhaps because they do raise cholesterol levels. However, unless you already suffer from high cholesterol, there is no evidence that these types of fats cause harm.
Anabolic Hormone Production
Not only does a diet with a healthy fat intake increase energy, brain function, and help prevent disease, but it also allows us to maintain a healthy hormone balance. Namely the mother of all muscle building hormones, testosterone.
Want to make sure you’re waking up with a boner every morning?
Make sure you get those Monousatured Fats in!
Muscle Building and Fat Loss Diet Principles
Now that you understand (I hope) why and how each macronutrient is critical when achieving peak performance, building muscle, and losing fat, I want to give you a few basic guidelines.
- 80% of you calories should come from proteins with high leucine content, starchy carbs, and unsaturated fats.
- 10% can come from your typical protein sources and whole food form carbohydrates that aren’t necessarily starchy.
- 10% whatever your heart desires (as long as it fits into your total caloric intake).
Not interested in calculating nutrition or guessing what foods to consume each day? Grab my Lean Mass Meal Plans and eliminate the guess work.
Have questions regarding this article? Leave them in the comment section below!
Don’t forget the share this article to spread the word.