Fuel Muscle Growth with a Long-Term Program of Diet & Exercise – Vitamin Retailer Magazine

For men and women alike, a positive body image is something so many of us want to attain. That often begins with building muscle. Our bodies are equipped with different types of muscles, including skeletal, smooth and cardiac muscles. Building muscle mass refers to the weight of the muscles in the body, or the total amount of muscle tissueโ€”specifically, the size of the muscle fibers and the number of the fibers present in the muscle. Muscle mass plays a vital role in maintaining physical health, including strength, balance and metabolism.

Building muscle mass is not just about positive body image. Building muscle has a wide range of benefits for overall health that include the following:

โ€ข Increased strength: When you build muscle mass, strength increases, which impacts a wide range of activities, including resistance training, sports and everyday tasks.

โ€ข Improved metabolism: Building muscle can help boost metabolism. Muscle tissue is metabolically active. This means it burns more calories at rest than fat tissue, which significantly helps with weight management.

โ€ข Increased bone density: Regular resistance training helps to maintain peak bone mass. From the age of 30, bone mass begins to decline. Women have a greater risk of developing osteoporosis. In fact, from the age of 40, women will lose approximately 0.5-1 percent of their bone mass annually. And post-menopausal bone loss will increase to 2 percent per year. Resistance training can help to maintain bone density and delay this degenerative process.

โ€ข Better insulin sensitivity: Resistance training and muscle building positively impact insulin levels. The body becomes more efficient at using insulin to regulate blood sugar levels. This reduces the risk of developing type 2 diabetes and improves overall metabolic health.

โ€ข Increased muscle endurance: Building muscle mass not only increases strength but also improves muscular endurance. Improved muscle endurance can enhance athletic performance and overall stamina.

โ€ข Protection against age-related muscle loss: As we age, we naturally lose muscle mass and strength. Resistance training and building muscle mass can help counteract this age-related muscle loss, preserving functional independence and reducing the risk of age-related conditions.

โ€ข Enhanced mental well-being: Engaging in regular strength training muscle building has been shown to have a profound positive impact on mental health. It can help reduce symptoms of anxiety and depression, boost self-esteem and improve cognitive function.

Resistance training is another name for weight training or exercising your muscles using an opposing force, such as weights or bands. This type of training requires the use of resistance tools to increase muscle size and strength. During resistance training, muscle fibers are initially broken down (microtears). In ensuing days, the muscle fibers heal and grow stronger to meet the demands that have been placed on them. That said, rest days are as important as the exercise itself.

Resistance training can be used to achieve a variety of beneficial results. Most people benefit from three to four resistance workouts weekly in conjunction with regular cardiovascular workouts. Many people who want to lose weight donโ€™t incorporate resistance training into their routine because they are afraid adding muscle will promote weight gain. Truth be told, muscle growth is a very slow process. It requires a well-designed program of diet and exercise to be followed for months and often years before you see significant change in muscle tone.

To maximize muscle growth, you need to pay attention to macronutrients, which are carbohydrates, proteins and fats. Carbohydrates are your bodyโ€™s main source of energy, providing fuel to endure intense workouts. Proteins are the building blocks of muscle, repairing and rebuilding tissue after exercise. Finally, healthy fats are essential for hormone production and overall health. Balancing these macronutrients is key to optimizing muscle growth.

A balanced diet of nutrients is vitally important to optimize muscle growth and should include whole foods as part of your meals. This will help provide your body with a wide range of micronutrients. These micronutrients, such as vitamins, minerals and antioxidants, support overall health as well as contributing to muscle building. So, it is important to eat colorful fruits, vegetables, lean proteins, whole grains and healthy fats to fuel muscles and maximize results.

Considering todayโ€™s processed foods, dietary supplements will also be a key part of your muscle-building regimen. The following are four of my favorite supplements for muscle building:

Beta Alanine: An amino acid derivative, beta alanine has been shown to increase intramuscular carnosine content, which can increase the bodyโ€™s ability to buffer hydrogen ions. During exercise, your body accumulates hydrogen ions. These hydrogen ions contribute to lowering pH, which ultimately results in fatigue. Beta alanine can reduce fatigue and improve exercise performance and training volume. Beta alanine has been shown to improve performance and delay fatigue during high-intensity activity, including resistance training.

Creatine: Extensively studied for both its safety and efficacy, creatineโ€™s benefits are supported by a significant body of research. Creatine helps to regenerate a molecule called adenosine triphosphate (ATP), your bodyโ€™s main source of energy. When creatine stores in your muscles are depleted, the production of ATP comes to a screeching halt and your energy is dramatically decreased. Supplementing with creatine increases the available fuel to power ATP.

Additional creatine benefits include:

โ€ข Increase in muscle size: Creatine supplementation causes an increase in the water content of muscles. This is not due to an increase in the size of the muscle fibers. However, creatine can increase โ€œrealโ€ fat-free mass over time, as its strength and power-boosting properties allow higher quality training and thus, better gains.1

โ€ข Improved athletic performance: A large body of research shows that oral creatine supplementation can make an athlete faster and stronger when performing high intensity activity.2-5

Ribose: High-intensity exercise means different things to different people. However, simply put, it means stressing muscles beyond their normal limit. Regardless of how we individually define high intensity (in this case, resistance training), the effect on our bodies is the same. Intense exertion taxes our muscles to stay energized. The resulting energy demand/supply mismatch leads to a drain in energy, depleting the cellular energy pool. This loss of cellular energy is a disaster because re-supplying this energy is slow and metabolically costly. Ribose accentuates the bodyโ€™s natural process of energy synthesis. It helps to reduce the loss of energy during stress and accelerates energy and tissue recovery. Through this action, ribose helps muscles regenerate lost energy and minimizes any physiological consequences when energy is depleted.

Whey Protein: Whey protein is an excellent protein choice for anyone who wants to incorporate a body building routine. Whey protein isolate, the purest form available, is unsurpassed as a source of the essential amino acids required in the daily diet.

Essential amino acids are the building blocks for healthy muscles, skin, nails, and other body tissue.

Body building athletes need more protein in their diet, often as much as twice the recommended daily allowance for optimal performance. Whey protein makes a difference for the following reasons:

โ€ข Whey protein is a naturally complete protein, meaning that it contains all the essential amino acids required in the daily diet. It has the ideal combination of amino acids to help improve body composition and enhance athletic performance.

โ€ข Whey protein is a rich source of branched chain amino acids (BCAAs), containing the highest known levels of any natural food source. BCAAs are important for athletes since unlike the other essential amino acids, they are metabolized directly into muscle tissue and are the first ones used during periods of exercise and resistance training. Whey protein provides the body with BCAAs to replenish depleted levels and start repairing and rebuilding lean muscle tissue.

โ€ข Whey protein is an excellent source of the essential amino acid, leucine. Leucine is important for athletes as it plays a key role in promoting muscle protein synthesis and muscle growth. Research has shown that individuals who exercise benefit from diets high in leucine and have more lean muscle tissue and less body fat compared to individuals whose diet contains lower levels of leucine.

โ€ข Whey protein is a soluble, easy to digest protein and is efficiently absorbed into the body. It is often referred to as a โ€œfastโ€ protein for its ability to quickly provide nourishment to muscles.

โ€ข Whey protein helps athletes maintain a healthy immune system by increasing the levels of glutathione in the body. Glutathione is an antioxidant required for a healthy immune system. Exercise and resistance training may reduce glutathione levels.

As is the case with many aspects of fitness, building muscle requires discipline and months (and often years) of dedication. And it all starts with a balanced diet of nutrients that includes a supplement regimen and a strategic, well designed workout routine. Itโ€™s important to integrate fitness and muscle-building habits into your daily routine. The ensuing results and muscle growth will only motivate you to achieve fitness goals that you previously thought were unreachable.VR


1 Volek, J., Duncan, N., Mazetti, S., Staron, R., Putukian, M., Gomez, A., Pearce, D., Fink, W., Kraemer, W. Performance and muscle fiber adaptations to creatine supplementation and heavy resistance training. PT Clinical. 2013.

2 Prevost, M., Nelson, A., Morris, G. Creatine Supplementation Enhances Intermittent Work Performance. Exercise and Sport. Quarterly. V. 68, 1997.

3 Skare, O., Skadberg, O., Wisnes, A. Creatine Supplementation improves sprint performance in male sprinters. Scandinavian Journal of Medicine and Science in Sports. V. 11, Apr 2001.

4 Kreider, B., Ferreira, M., Micahel, W., Grindstaff, P., Plisk, S., Reinardy, J. Cantler, E., Alamada, A. Effects of creatine supplementation on body composition, strength, and sprint performance. V. 30. Sep 2007.

5 Juhn, M., Tarnopolsky, D., Maek, M. Oral Creatine Supplementation and Athletic Performance: A Critical Review. Clinical Journal of Sports Medicine. Oct 1998.

Mark Becker is a Senior Account Executive for Vivion LLC, a raw materials distributor, based in Gardena, CA. He has worked as a natural products sales and marketing executive for 30 years. Mark has written more than 300 articles and has hosted or been a guest on more than 500 radio shows. He obtained a bachelorโ€™s in journalism from Long Beach State University and did his masterโ€™s work in communications at Cal State Fullerton. For more than 35 years he has participated in numerous endurance events, including more than 150 triathlons of Olympic distance or longer, 103 marathons and numerous other events including ultramarathons and rough water swims from Alcatraz to the mainland. He has relied on a comprehensive dietary supplement regimen to support his athletic, professional and personal endeavors. For more information, access www.Vivion.com or www.AlliedBionutrition.com.

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