Whether you’re trying to be a bodybuilding champ, or you simply want to get in shape and have a lean and toned physique, muscle building is often the goal of any fitness program. Strength training has taken the world by storm lately, and has been made easily accessible through the numerous tutorials and exercise classes often offered for free online.
Muscles contribute to an aesthetic physique, but they also do much more than that! Let’s take a look at why building an appreciable amount of muscle mass is good for your health.
How You Exercise Matters
A quick note:
There is no “best” way to exercise. However, many people overdo the amount of cardiovascular exercise they perform every day while neglecting to properly fuel themselves with adequate calories. While cardiovascular exercise is great for your heart and lungs, too much—especially in a calorie restricted state—can lead to wasting muscle mass which can result in an unfavorable body composition. Fitness is more than just weight loss, it’s about eating healthy, nourishing foods and developing functional and sustainable strength that will keep you able-bodied as you age.
Why Muscle Weight is Healthy
How is muscle important for health? A widely cited study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition in 2006 found that muscle plays a key role in protein metabolism by serving as the main reservoir for amino acids to ensure steady protein synthesis for vital tissues and organ function in the absence of them through dietary means.
In other words, when you are not receiving the adequate amount of complete protein (featuring all 9 essential amino acids), your body will turn to muscle catabolism (breaking down muscle) to acquire the energy it needs to maintain tissue and organ functions. That’s why severely limiting calories and putting excess strain on the muscular system results in breakdown of muscle tissue.
What are the benefits to keeping a reasonable amount of muscle mass on your frame? Muscle plays a crucial role in boosting our resting metabolic rate. Have you ever heard someone say they have a slow metabolism? A slow metabolism means that the body is burning a low amount of calories at rest. Muscle requires energy to sustain itself and calories are the form of energy that it needs. The more muscle you have, the more calories you burn at rest which results in a faster metabolism!
Weight management and a faster metabolism are not the only benefits of increased muscle mass. As of 2018, 34.2 million Americans had diabetes. Type 2 diabetes is critically linked with insulin resistance, the inability of your body to properly utilize glucose for energy thus resulting in high levels of glucose on the bloodstream. This is known as high blood sugar which can lead to complications such as stroke, chronic kidney disease, vision problems and more.
Muscle mass is an important factor of increasing insulin sensitivity because skeletal muscle can store large amounts of glucose, not only increasing insulin sensitivity but allowing for a higher threshold of carbohydrate metabolism in the individual. Those who suffer from type 2 diabetes see significant improvement in blood glucose control when increasing protein intake in their diet, especially plant-based proteins. Adding in more plant-based proteins can be as easy as snacking on nuts and seeds or assuring that you have protein for breakfast instead of a carbohydrate like cereals or bagels.
Building Muscle with Dr. Praeger’s Food Products – Foods for Muscle Building
So, once you’ve found a good workout that’s compatible with your lifestyle and interests, the hard part for many is achieving adequate daily nutrition without having to eat bland, tasteless foods.
Dr. Praeger’s can help with our variety of nutritionally dense and tasty products where sound nutrition goes hand-in-hand with convenience. Our frozen foods provide both the ease of frozen products readily at hand with the veggie-forward ingredients. They are also excellent foods for muscle building. Here’s our top 3 picks for supplying your body with what it needs for building quality muscle.
1 – Egg Whites & Kale Breakfast Bowl
Breakfast is the meal that most Americans seem to lack protein in or skip entirely due to being in a rush. Most of the popular breakfasts are heavy on the carbohydrates and lack protein such as cereal, bagels, muffins and granola bars. This breakfast bowl boasts 12 grams of protein, 3 grams of fiber, and only 22 grams of carbohydrates in a dense package of only 200 calories. For those of you who like to start your mornings light, this is a powerhouse package of nutrition without overloading your digestive system.
2 – Classic Chick’n Tenders
You don’t have to give up the experience of eating tenders even if you’ve embraced a plant-based or a vegan lifestyle. These tenders are crispy, breaded, protein-rich, and highly dippable in your favorite sauces. There is a reason why tenders continue to be a go-to favorite for children and adults alike. Add these tenders to a salad, a rice bowl or any meal that is lacking protein!
Dr. Praeger’s Classic Chick’n Tenders are all of that and more. Building muscle requires getting an appreciable amount of protein in your diet, and these tenders boast 14 grams of pea protein per serving. Pea protein is a plant-based staple as it is a complete protein (all 9 essential amino acids) that is vegetarian/vegan friendly.
3 – Dr. Praeger’s Oaties
Whether you choose Original, Chocolate Chip, or Blueberry, Dr. Praeger’s Oaties Oatmeal Dipping Sticks are a satisfying, slightly sweet treat that is great for replenishing your energy after workouts. This well received study by Aragon and Schoenfeld states the importance of replenishing muscle glycogen stores post-workout. Not only does muscle glycogen aid your muscles in performing activities over a longer period of time, but “glycogen availability also has been shown to mediate muscle protein breakdown.”
Additionally, studies also indicate that consuming carbs immediately after exercise results in a supercompensation of glycogen stores. Delaying this by a mere 2 hours will reduce the synthesis of muscle glycogen by as much as 50%.
In other words, despite how carbs are viewed as “evil” or a major source of gaining body fat, that is only true of overeating simple carbs in conjunction with a sedentary lifestyle. The type of carbs you eat matters a great deal as well. There are simple and complex carbohydrates. Simple carbohydrates include those that are more processed such as white bread, white pasta, cookies and ice cream. Complex carbohydrates have more nutritional benefits and include whole grains, brown rice, oats, quinoa, sweet potatoes and more. While some individuals thrive on a high fat, low carb diet, the majority of people do best on some relative balance of the three major macronutrients.
Dr. Praeger’s Oaties make for a delicious and healthy post workout snack (or any time) because they are a healthy source of carbohydrates and fiber. Oatmeal is a carbohydrate source with high nutritional value and flavor.
Overall, the best strategy for staying in shape and adhering to a proper diet is to eat nourishing meals that never compromise on flavor.