3. You Don’t Eat Enough
You can’t build muscle out of nothing: Muscle requires a surplus of nutrients and calories to grow. No matter how hard you work in the gym, you will not see the physique changes you want if you don’t supply your body with the fuel it needs to repair and rebuild muscle tissue.
“Many tend to think that building more muscle means only increasing more protein or getting the majority of your dietary intake from protein-rich foods,” says Maria Sylvester Terry, a registered dietitian at Eat Fit NOLA. “This is not the case. In order to gain muscle mass, one needs to ensure they are first eating adequate calories for their activity level. While some body composition changes can occur without a major shift on the scale by adjusting nutrition choices and training, for significant muscle gains, one needs to increase overall intake to create a calorie surplus.”
Protein is a major building block of muscle, of course, but one’s diet does not need to be mainly or solely protein for muscle gain, Terry says. You will see websites, social media pages, and YouTubers with specific macro amounts for muscle gain, like a special formula or secret to be unlocked. Truly, this depends on the individual person.
Carbohydrates play an important role in this process as well. Your muscles store glucose as glycogen, which is accessed for energy during exercise. Keeping glycogen stores replenished should be a post-workout routine: With enough carbohydrates in the diet, your body can utilize your protein intake for muscle recovery and growth, among other diverse roles protein plays in the body.
“Athletes who take in adequate carbohydrates can complete their workouts with energy and intensity,” Terry points out. “After all, what good is a sweaty lift session if you don’t have the energy to complete it with good form or the energy to replenish those hardworking muscles?”