Nutrition is the single most important factor in building muscle. Period!
Believe it or not, this is the most important factor for muscle growth to occur. I will show you why this statement really isn’t even controversial when you objectively look at the research. Without proper nutrition, supplementation, rest and hydration, you will make little or no gains and find yourself very frustrated, and most likely quit. The importance of raw materials (Macro and Micronutrients) cannot be understated as this article will show.
Take a look at the graph to the right from PhD Stuart M. Phillips study to see what happens in your muscles during/after intense weight training.
The red box labelled ‘RE’ represents ‘Resistance Exercise’. This shows you what happens to your muscles from resistance exercise alone, without food.
The white bar shows the level of protein synthesis in response to weight training. It’s elevated, exactly what you want for muscle growth to occur. But look at the grey bar, this indicates muscle protein breakdown. As you can see, breakdown exceeds synthesis so there is a negative protein balance. In other words, more muscle is being lost than built.
Take a look at the graph again but this time at the last column. What you see here is the effects of RE (resistance exercise) combined with AA (amino acids). Remember that protein is made of amino acids, and it’s these amino acids from high protein foods that build muscle along with the protein sparing glucose from carbohydrates and healthy fats in your diet..
Now, check out the last column and see how combining resistance exercise with amino acid (protein) feeding impacts muscle growth. As you can see, the white bar representing protein synthesis has dramatically increased, and the grey bar, representing protein breakdown has dropped. This is called a positive protein balance (nitrogen), and puts you right in the muscle building zone.
You see, the only way to build substantial muscle is with both proper training AND nutrition. Training and nutrition work synergistically to increase lean muscle mass, to neglect one or the other will limit your potential gains. For optimal muscle hypertrophy, both should get equal attention.
We’ve looked at the difference between resistance weight training with, and without food. It’s perfectly clear that it’s not possible to build muscle without sufficient nutrients. Now, lets see why Nutrition is the most important factor. Nutrition is the only thing that research shows can improve muscle growth even without exercise.
Look at column two on the graph to the right. It shows us what happens when we eat protein rich foods while at rest. The column represents Rest + AA (Amino Acids/protein).
Look closely at the results.
Protein synthesis exceeds breakdown resulting in a positive protein balance, and shows that eating protein alone WITHOUT any exercise increases muscle protein synthesis and reduces muscle protein breakdown.
Just eating protein alone is enough to stimulate protein synthesis and increase muscle size. You can only gain so much muscle eating and sleeping, there is a limit to the stimulation of protein synthesis, but it’s proof that the power of food alone can build muscle, and that nutrition should never be neglected.
This foundation on the importance of Nutrition leads us into future articles on specifics of Proteins, Carbs and Fats like you never have before. Breaking down these foods into the basics of biochemistry will help you understand and apply nutrition to help you achieve greater gains than ever before.
Go get your gains!!