Be careful what you skimp on when you start a new diet or decide to reshape your current one. Cutting back on carbohydrates, protein and/or fats – whether purposely or unwittingly – can weaken your body’s performance and diminish your ability to burn unwanted fat. Cutting back on calories can also mean shortchanging the supply of vitamins and minerals needed by your muscles to function with efficiency.
As livestrong.com puts it, “When you go on a very limiting diet, you decrease not only your intake of calories, but you also decrease your intake of vitamins and minerals.” Properly feeding, or fueling, our muscles isn’t just a priority for bodybuilders, weight lifters and other elite athletes competing at a professional or Olympian level. It also is something that all people need to be aware of in terms of maintaining or achieving optimal muscle health.
Whether or not you are an athlete, you should want to be stronger; a strong, toned body can be beneficial to us in so many ways. Think of the many ordinary tasks we do daily or weekly that require us to use our muscles: things like carrying luggage to or from the car – even light luggage or small bags; cleaning house; getting up and out of a bed or chair; walking up a couple flights of stairs; carrying the groceries from the car to the kitchen; moving one or two pieces of furniture to rearrange the den or living room.
Importance of Protein
Taking care of or strengthening our muscles to at least make them fit to handle everyday chores and tasks means building muscle mass. This is where the inclusion of protein in your diet is so important. Consuming foods loaded with protein, supplemented by carbohydrates and proper hydration (taking in water), are important for increasing muscle mass, per herbalifenutritioninstitute.com.
A protein-focused diet can’t do it alone. Resistance exercises are needed as well. Muscle function care is more than just sitting and eating right; exercise, even a moderate amount, needs to be added to the regimen if not there already. As herbalifenutritioninstitute.com puts it, “Resistance exercises prepare your muscle to take greater advantage of the increase in amino acids resulting from eating protein.”
Supplements and Vitamins
If you’re not sure if your diet is properly calibrated for benefit to your muscles, there are plenty of vitamins and supplements available over the counter to help you feed your muscles properly. Here are some of them, in alphabetical order:
- L-Alanine. An amino acid that can fend off fatigue and might help enhance muscle mass, provided you are also on an exercise program.
- Biotin/Vitamin B6. These two compounds have a part on the formation of glycogen, which our muscles need as fuel to contract when starting exercise.
- Branched-chain amino acids. This consists of three individual amino acids – leucine, isoleucine, and valine – that are key to muscle growth, per healthline.com.
- Calcium. Known mostly as a mineral that contributes to bone health, calcium also is key to muscle contraction.
- Carnitine. It not only stimulates muscle growth, but is known to be effective for fat loss, per muscleandfitness.com.
- Creatine. It’s produced naturally by our bodies but increasing it via a supplement can promote muscle gain, per livestrong.com.
- Fish oil. Helps to increase blood flow to the muscles, while also assisting in reducing muscle protein breakdown and cutting back on inflammation, thus allowing for faster post-workout recovery, per shape.com.
- Glutamine. Another amino acid, glutamine can assist in muscle growth and function.
- Magnesium. Like calcium, a mineral that is required for proper muscular function.
- Protein. It’s simple, per healthline.com – to gain muscle, you must take in more protein than what is broken down by your body via natural processes. Whey protein powder is a rich source.