Many body builders and weight lifters are overly concerned about what they eat and what food supplements they take. If you want to grow larger and stronger muscles, it helps to understand how food can help your training program. Just exercising does not grow large muscles. If volume of exercise made you strong, marathon runners would have the largest muscles. The only stimulus to make muscles larger and stronger is to stretch them while they contract against resistance. When you lift a heavy weight, your muscles start to stretch before they start to contract. This tears the muscle and causes soreness on the next day. If you rest and let the muscle heal, it will be stronger than before you stretched it. You improve by taking hard workouts so your muscles can grow and heal while you recover on your easy days.

Anything that helps you recover faster from a hard workout will allow you to do more work to make you stronger. Scientists have known for years that you recover faster by eating immediately after you finish your hard workout. Now we know that eating extra protein helps you recover even faster. Muscles are made primarily from protein building blocks called amino acids. Muscles heal from a hard workout when amino acids and other nutrients travel from your bloodstream into the muscles. Eating any food, particularly foods with plenty of protein, immediately after you finish your workout helps your muscles heal faster so you can do more work. The sooner you eat protein after you finish your hard workout, the quicker you will recover.

However, you don’t need to take expensive supplements; ordinary foods provide high-quality protein and taste better. Remember, your body cannot store extra protein. If you don’t need all of the protein you have eaten, it is broken down into ammonia and organic acids, which are used for energy. Any excess is stored as fat.

Checked 4/11/15