Muscle Talk - By International Protein

Meal-plan to Gain Muscle

May 12, 2021 International Protein Season 4 Episode 2
Muscle Talk - By International Protein
Meal-plan to Gain Muscle
Chapters
Muscle Talk - By International Protein
Meal-plan to Gain Muscle
May 12, 2021 Season 4 Episode 2
International Protein

In this episode, we answer the question of what's the best meal plan to gain muscle. 
We cover how much should I eat? What should I eat, and when?

And we even get into age and the role it plays in gaining muscle.

  • Protein is essential to growing muscle
  • What type of protein
  • The right time
  • MCT oils


If you want your own questions answered on our podcast, then join our private Facebook group and share your ideas,  https://www.facebook.com/groups/muscletalk

If you'd like to learn more about International Protein, visit https://www.international-protein.com/






------------------------------------------------------
A Thinkroom production - www.thinkroom.com

Show Notes Transcript

In this episode, we answer the question of what's the best meal plan to gain muscle. 
We cover how much should I eat? What should I eat, and when?

And we even get into age and the role it plays in gaining muscle.

  • Protein is essential to growing muscle
  • What type of protein
  • The right time
  • MCT oils


If you want your own questions answered on our podcast, then join our private Facebook group and share your ideas,  https://www.facebook.com/groups/muscletalk

If you'd like to learn more about International Protein, visit https://www.international-protein.com/






------------------------------------------------------
A Thinkroom production - www.thinkroom.com

Ash Horton:
Welcome to Muscle Talk, where you'll get world champion advice about nutrition and sticking on muscle. Our host, Christine Envall, she's at three time world champion bodybuilder, an IFBB professional, a food scientist, and a founding co-owner of our podcast sponsor, International Protein.

Ash Horton:
In this episode, we answer the question, what's the best meal plan to gain muscle? We cover how much should I eat, what should I eat, and when? We even get into age and the role it plays in gaining muscle.

Ash Horton:
Hey Christine. Today, I'd like to talk about what a lot of people are searching on Google. One of the main terms that people are searching is meal plan to gain muscle. And basically, there's a bunch of questions under that, that people are... Sub categories of questions. So I thought I'd fire them at you through this episode, and we'll just get your take on them. So let's just start with a little bit of a summary on the best meal plan to gain muscle. Yeah?

Christine Envall:
Okay. The best meal plan to gain muscle is obviously one which has enough protein and calories to support that muscle growth. Going into a meal plan, though, they obviously want to look at the structure of what else is at the meals and how many times a day you're eating and all of those things. So I'll start off by talking about protein because we associate protein with muscle, of course, and it is a key thing, that if you're not having enough protein, you're not going to grow muscle. So that's why I'll focus on that first.

Christine Envall:
So protein, there's a bit of a rule of thumb when you're trying to gain muscle, that people will look at somewhere between one and 1.2 grams of protein per pound of body weight. So converting that into kilograms, you're looking at somewhere between, say 2.2 to 2.6 grams per kilo of body weight. So I think in a lot of cases, that's a lot more than what people expect.

Ash Horton:
It is, yeah.

Christine Envall:
Because yeah, a lot of it is because, in Australia in particular, on all of the nutritional panels on food products, a lot of the main companies or the major companies have adopted this system where they'll give things a health star rating, and they'll talk about protein as a percentage of your daily intake, but that's based on 12% of your calories coming from protein, which is, for a sedentary person who's not trying to grow muscle, who's just trying to maintain, that's the current thinking. And now it is changing of, course, because diets like the CSIRO and just a lot of diets are saying, okay, more protein, even if you're not physically active is a lot better for you and 12% is maintenance. That's not going to stop you from dying and stop you from getting sick.

Christine Envall:
So when you look on a product and it says, oh, it's got 10 grams of protein in it, and that's a quarter of your daily needs or something, when we start talking in these numbers of 2.2 grams per kilo body weight, 2.5 grams per kilo body weight, that's far, far, far above what these numbers are. So I think that's where there's a big discrepancy, is what mainstream suit education is and what you need to grow muscle, and even what just more up-to-date health is talking about.

Christine Envall:
So what does that actually look like, though? So let's take a 100 kilo person because that's a nice, easy number to work with. So that person potentially needs to have 220 grams of protein per day.

Ash Horton:
Which is a lot of scoops of protein powder, but of course, you're going to put actual food protein in the mix as well.

Christine Envall:
Of course. You're going to have a mixture of both. And I think that's one of the key things as well, is that you're not getting your protein all from one particular source. So variety. And I know we've talked about that a lot in the past, but variety is a big key thing.

Christine Envall:
But just coming back to the protein, if you're thinking about 220 grams of protein, how do you actually consume that? Because it's one hell of a big meal if you're trying to have it all at one meal. So ideally what most people do when they're trying to gain weight or gain muscle in particular, is that they break that up into smaller portions, and they have anywhere between five and six or even seven meals a day is, is the most common way to do that.

Christine Envall:
And now I know that that's some of those sub questions that are going to come up, so we'll probably go over this a few times, but a meal plan would look at having your protein that you need for a day split across a higher number of meals. So minimum being about five. So even then, you're looking at 40 to 45 grams of protein in a meal, which is still a pretty decent amount to have to get in. And that's where six and seven can become more practical because then you're working with, say, 30 to 35 grams of protein at a meal.

Christine Envall:
And one of the key things when it comes to gaining muscle is it has to be practical, and you have to be able to do it. And some people are better off eating bigger meals because that suits them, and other people don't have, I guess, the stomach volume or don't have the tolerance and find it quite difficult to eat bigger meals. So it has to be what suits you. You might have to experiment a little bit and figure out what works best for you. Some people like to eat more in the morning, less at night. Some people, it's the opposite. Some people, it doesn't matter, it's a meal is a meal. So find what works for you, but make sure that you get that adequate amount of protein. So that's one of the fundamental things of a meal plan to help you gain muscle, is making sure that you have enough protein.

Christine Envall:
Now the right type of protein is another thing [crosstalk 00:05:17].

Ash Horton:
The right time.

Christine Envall:
The right time and the right type.

Ash Horton:
Yeah.

Christine Envall:
So the right time is... The exact time isn't so critical. Obviously, pre and post workout gets talked about a lot, having the right amount of protein after you've done your weight training session, to have proper synthesis of muscle. But in the big scheme of things, when you're trying to gain muscle, it is an overall what you consume throughout the day still is very important.

Christine Envall:
And as I say, the day is a cyclic, it's a circular thing. You start at midnight, and it always comes back to midnight, and it just continues around and around. And it's not a linear timeline. So a day doesn't... The end of one day is the start of the next day is essentially what I'm saying. So in that 24-hour period, what you're doing in that is impacting what's to come and can also be helping with the recovery of what's gone. So always remember that, that if you, I guess, mess up, miss a meal, can't get it exactly the right time, while it's ideal to have it at similar times every day, it's not the end of the world if you do have to double up one meal, skip a meal, do that type of thing. It's secondary to just making sure that in that 24-hour period, you have the right amount of protein.

Christine Envall:
That's the priority in terms of whether you've got to get stuck on having it at the right time, versus just making sure that you do have the right amount. So, that's if I had to choose between those two.

Christine Envall:
And then obviously, you have the type. So if you are training, you do want to have something which is more rapidly absorbed after you've trained, because you are taking advantage of that situation where your body needs it very, very quickly. So [crosstalk 00:06:52].

Ash Horton:
WPIs, yeah. Isolates.

Christine Envall:
Exactly. Yeah. And again, that's where amino charged WPI was designed for that post-workout meal. At nighttime, however, you don't want to have that. You want to have something which does digest more slowly, so that you're not basically putting yourself into that catabolic situation where you've stored all the amino acids that were in your blood, your body's gone, "Okay, great. We'll pack these away. These are to be stored," because it's gone and hit the system quite quickly. When it's [crosstalk 00:07:18].

Ash Horton:
More like a blend, like a synergy or a plant protein or...

Christine Envall:
Yeah.

Ash Horton:
Yeah.

Christine Envall:
Yeah. So plant's more of a medium, so it'll be doing some of the job. Your blends, where you have your casein included in those blends is definitely your nighttime type protein. And that's going to carry you through for around about that eight-hour period. So that's why those are really, really good for nighttime. They can also be used through the day because they have shorter acting proteins as well.

Christine Envall:
In terms of the timing, but in terms of food, steak obviously is... Or red meat in general is quite long to digest, quite slow to digest. And then you have your chicken and your fish at the... None of those are as quick as a WPI, but they're all sitting in around about that, same as the plant protein, in terms of being a more of a medium digestion type protein.

Christine Envall:
And obviously, that being the third part of it, when it comes to the best meal plan to gain muscle, some people will do fine with one protein shake. That's all they need to do. But majority of people who need to eat that amount of protein will find that they might need to supplement say two or even three meals a day with protein, to be able to get that amount of protein. Because it's really, it's hard going. Because remember, if you're trying to get 30 grams of protein from chicken, that's not 30 grams of chicken. 100 grams of chicken has 20 grams of protein. So that's, say, 150 grams of raw weight. That's where you're looking at.

Christine Envall:
And for some females, that can be quite challenging to get that amount of protein in, particularly... once, that's fine. But then when you try to do it two, three, four times a day, that does become quite challenging. Other people, they'll inhale and they won't even notice that amount of food. So it is all relative to each person. The harder that you're training, you'll find that it does pull the food through, and it does become easier to get that in.

Christine Envall:
But a lot of the time, I know we've talked about hard gainers in the past, and a lot of the time why they may struggle is because they don't have big appetites, and they don't have a big capacity to eat a high volume of food. So it is different for every single person, but the key basics obviously is to have enough protein, have the right type of protein and mixture of different proteins, because obviously your protein sources bring other things, not just protein. They do bring in different minerals and vitamins, even things like creatine in your red meats. So having a good mixture of those things provides all of the things that you need, and then breaking them up into the smaller meals over the day.

Christine Envall:
When you're trying to gain muscle, you also need to have excess calories. So aiming for around about somewhere between 300 and 500 calories extra per day, over what you have been having. So one of the key things, when you're trying to make a meal plan to gain muscle, you need to be a little bit realistic about what you were doing. Say you haven't been trying to gain muscle. You're coming to the gym, maybe being following a contest diet, or maybe you've just been eating a little bit randomly. You need to maybe map out what you're eating or what you have been eating, so you know where to go from there.

Christine Envall:
If you've had an unstructured diet and it's been a little bit random, it's going to be very hard to go and get a good meal plan to gain muscle because you don't know what your baseline is. So you may need to spend a week just eating consistently, not worrying too much about what it is you're actually eating, but just getting into that pattern of eating at set particular times, or set number of meals per day, like going from three meals to five meals. Again, that's a new routine, that's a new habit. So you need to get some baseline happening, to then know, have I actually gone up 500 calories. Because if you're eating 1800 one day, 2500 the next, back to 2200 and you're all over the place, and you need to work out what your average is. Otherwise, it's very hard to get what an extra 500 calories looks like in your day.

Christine Envall:
So that's my other thing, is you need to have a baseline before you can go and create a meal plan, but in splitting, obviously, your calories up into those five, six, or seven meals, then same thing again. Some people like to have roughly the same amount of calories at every single meal. Myself, I like to have weight my meals so that the calories in my earlier meals are higher. And then as I get longer into the day or later into the day, they get lighter, less calories in the meals. As long as I'm getting the same amount of protein that I need, I try to keep that fairly consistent, the calories altered by how much carbohydrate and fats is with the rest of the meal.

Christine Envall:
So that's one of the other key things is, again, you've got to decide what works for you, because everybody is different. Everyone trains at different times. Some people like to have a really big meal after they train or have a shake straight after, but then follow that up with a big meal because they feel totally empty and totally drained. Other people say they lose their appetite after they train. So you need to work with yourself and figure out when you are most hungry. And if you are trying to gain muscle, take advantage of those times when you are more hungry and actually put more calories into those meals so that you're not forcing yourself to eat food when you're not really wanting to eat food, because that means it's really, really hard to stick on that type of plan. And obviously, the idea is you want to gain muscle.

Ash Horton:
Okay, well, let's rip into some of these questions. You've probably covered them all, but these are the questions [crosstalk 00:12:17] These are the questions or the sub questions that people are asking under what the best meal plan is. How much should I eat to build muscle?

Christine Envall:
Yeah. So that's where, as I said at the start, it becomes more about making sure you have the right amount of protein and the right amount of calories. How you mix up the [inaudible 00:12:34] so once you've got your protein sorted, and we talked about, say, one to 1.2 grams per pound, which relates about 2.2 up to say 2.6, 2.7 grams per kilo. Once you have your protein sorted out and you know what your daily protein needs to be, the second thing is you need to work out what is an increase of say 300 to 500 calories per day. Now that's a nice-

Ash Horton:
And that's part of the bulking process, isn't it?

Christine Envall:
Yeah.

Ash Horton:
Being above, and obviously if people want to strip it back, but obviously this question's all about gaining muscle.

Christine Envall:
Muscle, yeah. So you can gain muscle without bulking, going into a heavy bulk. And that's what I was... That's why that 300 to 500 is what I've picked because that's the extra calories that you need to actually synthesize muscle. In some instances, and it's a very, very fine line, you can build muscle, be on a, I guess, an isocaloric diet, so it's basically where your intake is matching your expenditure, and rely on the fact that you are going to draw those calories that you need to build the muscle, you'll be drawing that from body fat. And some people can do that. And I think that that's something where when you're very, very early on in the training piece, say you're a beginner, that actually happens quite successfully because my own story, when I first started training, didn't change my diet, didn't do anything particularly special, and my body weight stayed exactly the same, but my composition changed entirely. I lost body fat, gained muscle. And that was without... I wasn't mindful of too much other than the fact that I had started training.

Christine Envall:
So in that early, that first six months of training, your body's looking for the calories to fuel the workouts that you're doing. And then it draws that from the stored body fat, and the protein that you're just naturally eating in your diet is going to fuel the muscle growth. So that totally is possible. Some people experience it in the competition prep phase as well, where they'll come to start prepping for a show, be on a negative calorie diet, and still manage to increase their lean body mass and decrease their body fat. So it's totally possible, but it is a much more fine line between over-training and burning muscle and not actually growing muscle.

Christine Envall:
So a lot of people obviously do prefer to do it in the bulking cycle. And in that instance, 300 to 500 calories could be on the very conservative side. Some people go up to 1000 extra calories per day, to make sure that they are well and truly giving their body every opportunity to grow, recover, minimize injury. You get a lot stronger if you're carrying a little bit of extra fluid and getting a little bit of extra fat in your diet, carrying a little bit of extra body fat. So all of those things go along to better training sessions.

Ash Horton:
Well, I think that leads into the next question really, really well, is what should I eat to build muscle?

Christine Envall:
What should you eat to build muscle [crosstalk 00:15:18].

Ash Horton:
Carry more fluid, what foods carry more fluid? Is that your oats, your [crosstalk 00:15:24].

Christine Envall:
Yeah. So this is where you're probably getting to that, in terms of saying the rest of those calories obviously need to get made up of either carbohydrate or fat. And again, that's a personal thing, in terms of who wants to have more of a proportion of carbohydrate compared to fat, or who wants to eat higher fat. So essentially, have high fat, high protein, and lower carb.

Christine Envall:
Now, again, carbohydrate, for people who are heavily into their sport, younger, and I'm going to say definitely in that under 35 bracket, the carbohydrates are so essential for them to fuel the workouts, fuel the muscle growth, spare the muscle, made sure all the protein's going to muscle growth and not being used as an energy source. As you get older, it flips a little, and you can reduce your amount of carbohydrate and still get really good results.

Christine Envall:
And I'm not saying eliminate, but you don't need to be at the extreme end that say someone who's a lot younger. Your body just processes differently, and you can rely on a little more fats, but you want to be still mindful of your health. So you don't want to go nuts and have a lot of saturated, unhealthy fats or trans fats and things that are found in burgers and, I guess, fast food. Because that's what we call the dirty bulk. And that's when people are not really caring about where the food's coming from, they're just eating calories, and knowing that through eating those excess calories, they are going to get more protein.

Christine Envall:
If you went and ate extra calories, just eating chips, for example, no meat, and just ate carbohydrate, stacks and stacks of carbohydrate, you are going to struggle to build the muscle or build quality muscle. So there's a bit of a line. Obviously, don't eat a stack of pasta or something that has no meat with it. You are going to get the extra calories, but you're still going to have to make sure you have that protein.

Christine Envall:
A lot of people, as you get older, you don't necessarily want to carry the extra weight, the extra body fat. So you try to keep it a little bit tighter, in terms of what you're eating. And you're making sure that the fats that you are eating are healthier. You're getting your fats from things like nuts and avocado and olive oil and all of the good stuff, rather than just going out and going crazy and just saying, okay, it's ice cream and it's peanut butter and it's this and that, and just throwing it all together.

Christine Envall:
So very age dependent. The younger you are, the more your body can tolerate that and it will drop the fat quickly. It will burn, and it almost seems like sometimes the more you eat, the more you burn, whereas that doesn't tend to happen so much as you get older. We experience that the body's a little bit more finicky, and it can't tolerate just a whole lot of excess calories. So it is a personal preference, how you actually get those extra calories in. Some people do find it a lot easier to add extra fats because obviously, as we know, fat carries more than twice the amount of calories than what carbohydrate does. So it's easy to get those extra calories. MCT oil is really popular, as well, for something, for people who are trying to bulk, who struggle because it's a liquid or a powder that you can add into your food as well, add it into your coffee, add it into your shakes, add it into different meals, get an extra 100, 200 calories that's going to go for fuel.

Ash Horton:
What is MCT oil?

Christine Envall:
Medium chain triglyceride. So it's a fat, and without going too much into the chemistry of fats, basically fats exist in chains. And they have three chains on a backbone of glycerol. And there are short, medium, and long is pretty much how we categorize them, based on how many molecules is in the subsequent fats that are on those chains.

Christine Envall:
So in medium chain triglycerides, they all sit between that eight to 14, mostly in that 12 to 14 range, and that's a medium length. And essentially, the way that the body breaks it down, it doesn't need to go through the full process that it does usually to then free that up for energy. So basically, it has to split the triglyceride off the glycerol, so it has to split the glyceride off the... sorry, the glycerol is the backbone, and it has to take the fat chain off of that to be able to utilize it. The longer ones takes a long time to break down and then redistribute back out. The short ones, for the same reason, they're short, but they still have to get broken down in a different sequence, but the medium ones, it's that perfect size just to slot into our metabolic system.

Ash Horton:
I do like the way you create these little visuals with your hands. I wish everybody could see them. Yeah.

Christine Envall:
I know [crosstalk 00:19:42] creating the little glycerol backbone and the chains hanging off of it to [crosstalk 00:19:48].

Ash Horton:
When you get technical, it can be hard to follow, but the hand gestures help.

Christine Envall:
We'll need to have some little diagrams with it. But essentially, the thing of an MCT is that it burns quickly, give you the energy quickly, much like a carbohydrate, but it still has the energy content of a fat. So that's, I think, as technical as what people really need to know and understand.

Christine Envall:
Controversy around these, obviously, is that they sit in that saturated fat, and they sit in that area where people freak out because it can cause heart disease. But these fats have been researched and actually don't cause heart disease. They're mostly coming from palm and coconut oil, hence why coconut oil is so popular with keto dieters, and just the general paleo and keto type of diets. I think it is that you'll see coconut fat used, and that's because it is a great, fast-burning source, or you buy an actual MCT oil, which is available. A lot of brands have them in that.

Christine Envall:
So, yeah. And you'll see it in the keto coffees and what do they call that? What's that famous coffee that people use, which is basically a big shot of fat, or people might even put butter in it and stuff like that.

Ash Horton:
Sounds disgusting.

Christine Envall:
I know [crosstalk 00:20:55] I don't know if I could wake up to that, but people do it. People love it. Yeah. Traditional bodybuilders will mostly use rice. Pasta, rice, those types of foods, sweet potato, with their chicken, with their fish, with their beef. Very, very traditional, bring in some fats. And I do notice that bodybuilding diets do tend to be lower in the fat side of it. And then, if they're trying to bulk and stuff, they may use full fat dairy products and get their fats in that way, plus MCT oils.

Christine Envall:
I see in modern... I'm going to say modern times, it sounds like we're from the stone age, but I've been around for a long time in this industry. But in more recent years, definitely I see a trend towards people using more fats and less carbohydrates in that bulking phase.

Ash Horton:
And more so as people get older as well.

Christine Envall:
Definitely. Yeah. And it's something that even myself has found, that my body just doesn't need the carbohydrate. Now, two things that can be, that I'm not training as intensely hard as what I was when I was younger, and carbohydrates are definitely linked directly to that energy expenditure. But at the same time, it's whether it's years of getting efficient at how it utilizes its carbohydrates and fats. Even when I do a lot of cardio activity, which should technically burn a lot of carbohydrate, I don't feel that I need... I will recover myself with my largest amount of carbohydrate after a cardio workout, which I know burns a lot of carbs. It still doesn't seem to need as much as what it used to. That's such a very interesting thing. And I'm sure a lot of people are noticing that as they get older, they are having to switch that around.

Christine Envall:
But when you're young, you can take advantage of the fact that your body will pretty much deal with anything that you throw at it. And it will adapt to change very, very quickly. A small increase in calories or a small drop in calories can have a massive effect. As you get older, those drops have to become somewhat larger, and your body just says, "No, I'm not changing." So yeah, that's like everything, as you adapt in age, your body gets fitter and more efficient. That's the whole way the body's designed ,is to get more efficient.

Christine Envall:
You're trying to grow muscle. You're trying to force it to do something over and above what it's supposed to do. It will do it, of course, but the body likes to conserve, and it'll become more efficient at doing something and work out a better way or create a system within itself to bring it back to the status quo.

Christine Envall:
So you have to always keep on pushing and keep on bringing that in. And that's where people find it much more efficient just to bring those calories up and not try to sit on that knife edge of have I got just enough to build extra muscle and just enough not to be gaining extra body fat. And then as we said before, sometimes you get a better workout, better strength by bringing in extra fluid carrying that little bit of extra body fat, so that your strength seems to go up proportionately with that. And obviously, the stronger you are, the more you're going to stress that muscle and create new muscle growth.

Christine Envall:
So everything ties in together. Nothing can be done in isolation. And if you want to optimize absolutely everything, and then, you want to optimize your energy for training. You want to optimize your strength. You want to optimize your recovery. And calories, carbohydrates play a big role in that. And protein obviously plays a big role in the actual synthesis of the muscle.

Ash Horton:
Okay. So the next question is, can you gain muscle just by eating?

Christine Envall:
That's very interesting because I don't believe that you're going to grow a lot very successfully, unless you are doing something which is causing your muscle to be stressed and recover. If you're doing no weight training, but you do start to do some type of physical activity, then you will grow a little bit of muscle. But if you're just sitting on the couch and eating extra calories, no, I think that's a fairly sure [crosstalk 00:24:52] I think if it was, I think we'd all... Well, no, because I love weight training, but I think a lot of people have tried it and-

Ash Horton:
Doesn't work.

Christine Envall:
Doesn't work.

Ash Horton:
I can probably vouch for the fact that it doesn't work, yeah. All right.

Christine Envall:
Yeah. There needs to be some type of stress put onto the muscle to create a need to repair and recover. And obviously, the thickening of the muscle fibers and any increase in the muscle fiber size is obviously what's the result of that. So, yeah.

Ash Horton:
Okay. That's it. Thank you very much, Christine, for your wise words.

Christine Envall:
No worries, Ash. Hopefully we covered off everything there. I just have one little note down here, which I didn't get to say, which I meant to say, was when you are trying to eat to gain weight, and obviously we're talking about fitting the volume of food in, don't go nuts on vegetables and fruits. They're a healthy part of the diet and do need to play a role in there. But if you are eating five, six, seven meals a day, don't think that you need to be eating a large volume of vegetables at every single one of those meals, because that's where you'll struggle to fit things in.

Christine Envall:
Obviously, very low calorie, dense foods when you're trying to fit calories in, the opposite of what you want. So you want to have some for health because you always need to keep health at the top of your mind, from a longevity perspective and just for, again, all those things I talked about. Being able to function better, train better. You do train better when you're healthier, but you don't need to keep filling your stomach up with very low calorie foods, if you are one of those people that struggles to fit those things in. So I just wanted to add that to my note, when we were talking about what to eat, it's also what not to eat in terms of don't waste space, basically, in your stomach.

Ash Horton:
Awesome.

Christine Envall:
Cool.

Ash Horton:
Thank you very much.

Christine Envall:
No worries.

Ash Horton:
Words of wisdom. If you like what you've heard, leave us a review and recognize these bodybuilding tips from International Protein are free. So show you support by becoming a loyal International Protein customer, the best supplements money could buy. So jump online, hunt down our product, and hit that buy now button.