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Sports Nutrition - Gaining muscle, Maintenance, Losing fat.

Sports nutrition is the science and practice of how to use food and supplements to support athletic performance and health. Whether you are a recreational or elite athlete, your nutrition can make a big difference in your results and recovery. In this blog post, we will discuss how to adjust your calorie intake according to your goals: gaining muscle mass, maintaining it, or losing fat.


How to gain muscle mass

Muscle mass is the amount of muscle tissue in your body, which includes skeletal, smooth, and cardiac muscles. However, when we talk about muscle mass, we usually refer to skeletal muscle, which is the type of muscle that you can voluntarily control and exercise. Skeletal muscle plays a key role in movement, balance, strength, and metabolism.


To gain muscle mass, you need to do two things: strength training and eating more calories than you burn. Strength training is a type of exercise that involves contracting your muscles against resistance, such as lifting weights, doing bodyweight exercises, or using gym equipment. Strength training stimulates muscle growth by creating micro-tears in the muscle fibers, which then repair and grow bigger and stronger.


However, strength training alone is not enough to build muscle. You also need to provide your body with enough energy and nutrients to support muscle growth. This means eating more calories than you burn, also known as a calorie surplus. A calorie surplus provides the raw materials for building new muscle tissue, as well as fueling your workouts and recovery.


How many calories do you need to gain muscle mass?

There is no definitive answer to this question, as it depends on many factors, such as your age, gender, weight, height, activity level, genetics, and training intensity. However, a general guideline is to aim for a moderate calorie surplus of around 10-20% above your maintenance level. This means eating 10-20% more calories than you need to maintain your current weight.


For example, if your maintenance level is 2000 calories per day, you would need to eat 2200-2400 calories per day to gain muscle mass. However, this is just an estimate and you may need to adjust it according to your progress and results. You can use online calculators or apps to estimate your maintenance level and track your calorie intake.


Another important factor for gaining muscle mass is protein intake. Protein is the main building block of muscle tissue and it provides the amino acids that are essential for muscle synthesis. A high protein diet may also help reduce appetite, increase metabolism, and preserve muscle mass during weight loss.


How much protein do you need to gain muscle mass?

Again, there is no definitive answer to this question, as it depends on many factors. However, a general guideline is to aim for 1.6-2.2 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight per day (0.7-1 grams per pound). For example, if you weigh 70 kg (154 lbs), you would need 112-154 grams of protein per day.

Some examples of high protein foods include meat, poultry, fish, eggs, dairy products, legumes, tofu, nuts, seeds, and protein supplements. You can also use online calculators or apps to estimate your protein intake and track it.


How to maintain muscle mass

If you are happy with your current muscle mass and you want to keep it that way, you need to do two things: strength training and eating at your maintenance level. Strength training will help you maintain your muscle strength and size by providing a stimulus for your muscles to adapt and grow. Eating at your maintenance level will help you balance your energy intake and expenditure so that you neither gain nor lose weight.


How many calories do you need to maintain muscle mass?

As mentioned before, this depends on many factors and it may vary from person to person. However, a general guideline is to multiply your fat-free mass (FFM) in kilograms by 45 calories. FFM is the weight of everything in your body except fat, such as muscles, bones, organs, and water.

You can estimate your FFM by subtracting your body fat percentage from 100% and multiplying it by your body weight. For example, if you weigh 70 kg (154 lbs) and have 15% body fat, your FFM would be:


FFM = (100% - 15%) x 70 kg

FFM = 85% x 70 kg

FFM = 59.5 kg


To maintain your muscle mass,

you would need:


Calories = FFM x 45

Calories = 59.5 x 45

Calories = 2677 calories per day


However, this is just an estimate and you may need to adjust it according to your progress and results. You can use online calculators or apps to estimate your maintenance level and track your calorie intake.


How much protein do you need to maintain muscle mass?

The same amount of protein that you need to gain muscle mass may also help you maintain it. Therefore, a general guideline is to aim for 1.6-2.2 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight per day (0.7-1 grams per pound).


How to lose fat while preserving performance

If you want to lose fat while keeping your muscle mass and performance, you need to do two things: strength training and eating less calories than you burn. Strength training will help you preserve your muscle mass and strength by providing a stimulus for your muscles to adapt and grow. Eating less calories than you burn, also known as a calorie deficit, will help you reduce your body fat by forcing your body to use its stored fat as an alternative source of energy.


How many calories do you need to lose fat while preserving performance?

As mentioned before, this depends on many factors and it may vary from person to person. However, a general guideline is to multiply your FFM in kilograms by 30-45 calories. This range represents a moderate calorie deficit of around 20-40% below your maintenance level.

For example, if your FFM is 59.5 kg and your maintenance level is 2677 calories per day, you would need:


Calories = FFM x 30

Calories = 59.5 x 30

Calories = 1785 calories per day


or


Calories = FFM x 45

Calories = 59.5 x 45

Calories = 2677 calories per day


However, this is just an estimate and you may need to adjust it according to your progress and results. You can use online calculators or apps to estimate your calorie deficit and track your calorie intake.


How much protein do you need to lose fat while preserving performance?

The same amount of protein that you need to gain or maintain muscle mass may also help you lose fat while preserving performance. Therefore, a general guideline is to aim for 1.6-2.2 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight per day (0.7-1 grams per pound).


Summary

Sports nutrition is the science and practice of how to use food and supplements to support athletic performance and health. Depending on your goals, you may need to adjust your calorie and protein intake accordingly. To gain muscle mass, you need to eat more calories than you burn and do strength training. To maintain muscle mass, you need to eat at your maintenance level and do strength training. To lose fat while preserving performance, you need to eat less calories than you burn and do strength training.

For more information on sports nutrition, you can check out these resources:


- [Nutrition for sports and exercise - British Nutrition Foundation]


- [Sport and exercise | British Dietetic Association (BDA)]


(1) Nutrition for sports and exercise - British Nutrition Foundation. https://www.nutrition.org.uk/putting-it-into-practice/keeping-active/nutrition-for-sports-and-exercise/.

(2) Sport and exercise | British Dietetic Association (BDA). https://www.bda.uk.com/resource/sport-exercise-nutrition.html.

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