Did you know that more than 600 muscles work together as a team, every day, to keep your body moving and its internal systems functioning? The rhythm of your breathing, pumping the blood through your body, and keeping your organs functioning properly are all the responsibility of your muscles.
It’s easy to see, then, how keeping the right percentage of lean muscle mass can create a direct effect on the length and quality of your life.
And did you know that lean muscle also burns 12 times more calories than fat? That means that if you build more lean muscle, you can lose fat without changing your diet one bit. Cool!
Muscle weighs more than fat, so while the scale may remain unchanged, as you build lean muscle, your clothes will fit differently and your friends will wonder what you’re doing to look so great. 😊 The numbers on the scale are not necessarily a good measure of how fit your body is. Hide your scale in the closet for a couple of months and let’s try building more lean muscle for a while; and then see how your clothes fit and how much better you feel!
Today, let’s talk about foods that support lean muscle.
There are many foods that help us build lean muscle. Many of these are protein-packed and allow our muscles to recover and grow after exercise.
Here are a few high protein foods that you can work on integrating into your diet, starting today:
Eggs contain large amounts of the amino acid leucine, which is particularly important for muscle gain. And, bonus, B vitamins, which are critically important for a variety of processes in your body, including energy production. Eggs will give you those, for sure. And a couple of eggs at breakfast will assure that you start your day with enough protein to keep your energy up!
Salmon is another great choice for muscle building. A three-ounce serving of salmon contains about 17 grams of protein, several important B vitamins, and about 2 grams of omega-3 fatty acids. Omega-3s play an important role in muscular health and can even increase muscle gain during your exercise program.
Many different varieties of beans can be consumed for lean muscle gain. Black, pinto, and kidney beans contain about 15 grams of protein per cup of cooked beans, and are also excellent sources of fiber, B vitamins, magnesium, phosphorus and iron. Don’t forget to rinse your beans thoroughly before consuming them; that gooey liquid inside the can is mostly starch and salt, which you don’t really want to consume…
Shrimp is one of my favorite foods to add to healthy recipes, and shrimp are almost pure protein. Each 3-ounce serving contains 18 grams of protein, 1 gram of fat, and zero carbs.
While healthy fats and carbs are important in your overall diet, adding some shrimp is an easy way to get muscle-building protein without too many additional calories.
Like most animal protein, shrimp contains a high amount of the amino acid, leucine, which is necessary for optimal muscle growth.
Current science points to the post-exercise period as a time when rapid hyperaminoacidemia (having an excess of amino acids in the bloodstream) promotes a marked rise in the rate of muscle protein synthesis (MPS). MPS is the process of building muscle mass. Dietary proteins with a full complement of essential amino acids and high leucine contents, like eggs, salmon, and shrimp are more efficient in providing this rise in MPS. Evidence points to a higher protein intake, in combination with resistance exercise, as a highly effective way to both preserve the lean muscle that we have, and increase the skeletal muscle mass we want. Now, THAT’S something all of us over 50 can be happy about!
Incidentally, other compounds have been added to protein supplements, including carbohydrate, arginine, and glutamine, in an attempt to augment the effectiveness of the protein in stimulating MPS, but none has been proven to be effective, so you don’t need to buy that fancy stuff advertised with all the additives…
While protein-rich foods are a certainly a priority for building lean muscle, it’s also important to have the energy fuel to get out there and exercise to make it happen!
Carbohydrates provide this energy for us. Cooked quinoa contains about 40 grams of carbs per cup, along with 8 grams of protein, 5 grams of fiber and hearty amounts of magnesium and phosphorus. Magnesium is important for the function of your muscles and nerves, both of which are necessary for movement of any kind.
Other healthy carbohydrates like beans, carrots, and broccoli, and healthy fats like avocados and almonds, provide fuel for your physical activity. Remember: carbs are not just “white” foods like pasta, potatoes, rice, and bread. Veggies are also carbohydrates that provide energy for your body. But colorful veggies provide many more essential nutrients to your body that the “white stuff”!
So if you exercise regularly, which can mean as little as a little bit several times a day – like the leg exercises and toothbrush squats that I have shared before, as well as other, simple and easy to fit into your schedule exercises (like the 4-minute major muscle group video below) and then eat a meal with some of the above foods, you are much more likely to build the lean muscle that supports your bones and to lose excess fat.
So, you bought some of the food I recommended but now, what to do with it? I’m including a delicious recipe that you can try, as an example, which contains both beans and shrimp. Let me know what you think!
If you’d like to learn more about which foods to eat and when, as well as simple ways to have more energy, sleep better, and lose a few pounds, you’re in luck! I’ll be running my, free, 5 Day Weight Loss For Women 50+ Facebook Challenge again in a couple of weeks.
This free challenge is chock full of information that I have researched and will share with you about how WOMEN really lose weight.
Check it out here, and grab your spot now.
Best of Health,