How to Eat #6: To Young Muscle Men and Women
It's completely normal for high school athletes to want to build up their muscle. And as long as it is approached safely, there's no reason why they shouldn't try to meet that goal. The obvious way to build muscle is regular targeted exercise, but it's extremely important to support that exercise with a nutritious, varied diet. The founder of SportFuel Inc., a company dedicated to the proper nutrition of athletes, has developed an eating plan for high school aged athletes looking to increase muscle mass and reduce body fat. She recommends the following tips: (This 10 week plan is intended for athletes that strength train four times a week, and condition four or five times a week for 45 to 60 minutes. To lose weight, these athletes should take in 3,100 calories each day. Ideally, the result will be 21 pounds of fat lost and five pounds of lean muscle gained.)
- Stop eating processed foods such as white flour products, refined sugars, and items containing artificial colors or flavors, trans fats, chemicals, and additives.
- Replace "empty" foods with whole foods (Example: trade sugary cereal for oatmeal). Incorporate lean meats, fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains, and healthy fats into your diet.
- Drink plenty of water. The suggested amount is half of your body weight in ounces. So if you weigh 175 pounds, you should drink 87.5 ounces of water each day.
- Eat throughout the day, rather than only having three big meals. Allow yourself a few snacks to keep the calories coming without putting strain on your digestion.
- Take a daily supplement that combines essential fatty acids, multivitamins, and chelated minerals.
- Consume "clean" protein through free-range and organic meat, eggs, and dairy. These, along with healthy fats (through nuts, avocados, and olive oil), and non-starchy vegetables will help you reduce body fat.
Other sources have endorsed the idea that increasing your protein intake will help build muscle. While it is true that protein is important for building and repairing muscle, athletes should remember to eat fruits, vegetables, and grains as well. One recommendation for protein consumption is one to one and one-half grams per kilogram of total body weight. While this plan was set up for athletes in high school, some people will have to work into the plan more gradually. It is best for the athletes to follow this plan only after they have completed puberty, as their bodies will be more developed, and thus prepared for the regimen. Remember - maintaining a healthy weight and toned muscles is more important than having the largest and strongest muscles. Every human body is different, and will vary from other bodies in its size and strength potential. Always put your health first, and work toward your strength goals both safely and effectively.