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 affect 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!
In my last post, I shared a quick video on how to build lean muscle in your legs, quickly and easily – even lying on the couch watching TV! How did you like it? Let me know in the comments.
Today, let’s talk about foods that support lean muscle.
There are many foods that help us gain lean muscle. Many of these are protein-packed and allow our muscles to recover and grow after exercise.
However, it is also important to eat carbohydrates and healthy fats, like avocado and salmon, to provide fuel for your physical activity.
Here are a few that you can work on integrating into your diet this week:
Eggs contain large amounts of the amino acid leucine, which is particularly important for muscle gain. And, bonus – B vitamins are critically important for a variety of processes in your body, including energy production. Eggs will give you those, for sure.
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 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 complete proteins, 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 fuel to get out there and exercise!
Carbohydrates can 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.
So, the bottom line is that if you exercise regularly, which can mean a little bit several times a day – like the leg exercises, toothbrush squats, and other simple and easy to fit into your schedule exercises I’ve been giving you, 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 lose the excess fat.
Today, I’m including a delicious recipe that you can try containing both beans and shrimp. Try it out and let me know what you think in the comments!
Best of Health,