3 Ways to Build Muscle using your diet

Protein Banana Smoothie

1. Spread your Protein Intake Out Over the day

When do you eat most of your protein? Probably in the evening meal. It seems that more even distribution of protein throughout the day is better for keeping muscle and gain. It stimulates muscle protein synthesis, otherwise known as building muscle. The most effective seems to be at least 20grams of protein at each of the three main meals with not more than 4-5 hours between meals.

It seems every meal is a unique opportunity to stimulate muscle protein synthesis, and that it is an additive effect of each meal throughout the day. Most people can reach the 20 grams or more of protein at lunch and the evening meal, but are less likely to at breakfast. That is where Rokeby Farms Probiotic Yoghurt can come in handy to add extra protein to your breakfast cereal or smoothie or as a drink on it’s own. The Rokeby Farms Protein smoothie is also a handy protein boost as and on the go breakfast option and pre or post training snack.

A good rule of thumb is to have around 1 gram of protein per kilogram body weight. Some of us need a little less, around 0.75g per kilogram and others who are exercising intensely, are older or have extra needs due to wounds, fractures or other medical issues might need up to 1.5grams per kilogram body weight.

Protein content of some foods

  • Lean beef (100g cooked) -28 g
  • Lean Chicken (100g cooked) -30 g
  • Duck breast (100g cooked) – 20g
  • Fish fillet (100g cooked)
  • Kangaroo fillet (100g cooked) -22g
  • Rokebys Probiotic Yoghurt- (250ml, 1 cup)- 8.7g
  • Rokebys Protein Smoothie- (250ml, 1 cup)- 17.3g
  • Milk (250ml, 1 cup)- 12g
  • Cheese (20g, 1 thin slice) -5g
  • Chickpeas (1 cup cooked) – 15g
  • Almonds (handful, 30g)

2. Bed time Protein

As the biggest fast period is overnight, studies have looked at whether having protein before sleep is effective to improve overnight muscle growth. Protein eaten prior to sleep is digested, providing amino acids (the building blocks of protein,) for the body to use in growth and repair.  To stimulate overnight muscle growth the research suggests 27-40g of protein is needed in a pre bedtime meal. This of course needs to be along with your resistance exercise during the day.

How about a banana smoothie, glass of milk and peanut butter toast, yoghurt, nuts and fruit, baked beans, hard boiled eggs, canned fish and rice.

If you are looking to gain muscle don’t go to bed hungry, grab something nourishing, with protein to eat!

3. Eat Enough  Energy (Kilojoules)

To gain muscle you firstly need enough total kilojoules for your body to fuel the exercise along with all of its basic metabolic needs. Then it needs extra energy spared for the muscle growth. If you are not eating enough then your body will need to use protein for fuel rather than sparing it for muscle growth. It may even need to break down the muscle to use as fuel.

For best results have a carbohydrate food along with your protein food. That leaves the carbohydrate for energy and spares muscle for growth and repair in the body. A pre and post training meal or snack can help with this. Wholefoods are still best, it doesn’t mean we want a lots of poor quality kilojoules (bags of lollies, biscuits are not the way to go).

What are the kind of good carbs I can eat before a workout?

  • Wholegrain cereals e.g. oats/muesli
  • Wholegrain bread, wrap
  • Rice, barley, wholemeal pasta, sweet potato, potato, chickpeas, kidney beans
  • Dairy foods like yoghurt, milk and cheese
  • Fruit, fresh, dried, canned, frozen

If you don’t want to gain body weight but do want to gain muscle, then moving meals and snacks around to fuel and recover from your sessions can work. You may split your breakfast in two and have half pre and half post a morning workout.  You may have an afternoon snack pre afternoon training and then an early dinner as your recovery followed by a pre bed time higher protein snack.

If you would like information on eating for performance, check out my book, Eat Like An Athlete


Trommelen J, van Loon LJ. Pre-Sleep Protein Ingestion to Improve the Skeletal Muscle Adaptive Response to Exercise Training. Nutrients. 2016;8(12):763. Published 2016 Nov 28. doi:10.3390/nu8120763
Traylor DA, Gorissen SHM, Phillips SM. Perspective: Protein Requirements and Optimal Intakes in Aging: Are We Ready to Recommend More Than the Recommended Daily Allowance?. Adv Nutr. 2018;9(3):171-182. doi:10.1093/advances/nmy003
Snijders T, Res PT, Smeets JS, van Vliet S, van Kranenburg J, Maase K, Kies AK, Verdijk LB, van Loon LJ. Protein Ingestion before Sleep Increases Muscle Mass and Strength Gains during Prolonged Resistance-Type Exercise Training in Healthy Young Men. J Nutr. 2015 Jun;145(6):1178-84. doi: 10.3945/jn.114.208371. Epub 2015 Apr 29. PMID: 25926415.
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