How to effectively gain muscle—the healthy way

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Hit the weight room and make your fitness goals a reality (Berners Schober/Flickr Creative Commons)

Over winter break, I decided to take my fitness obsession to a whole new level and try cutting out/introducing different foods to my diet. The reason for doing this was to see if and how the foods I eat on a daily basis affect my body. Throughout this journey, I found that some foods I always thought were “good” for me actually negatively affected my body. Bloating and fatigue are not always due to junk food, but can also be caused by healthy foods that your body might not be meant to consume as often as it does.

My main goals during this break were to build muscle in my legs and glutes and to lose fat in my stomach. This was just because I wanted to enhance my curves and not look so… lanky? Since I was trying to build muscle in my glutes (and still am), I knew I had to increase my protein intake. I started using protein powder at least every other day when I was lifting, eating Gomacro protein bars, which are gluten free and vegan, and eating a lot more meat than I usually would. After two leg day sessions, I noticed a difference in my physique. This may seem quick and it wasn’t a huge difference, but it was a start. Simply doing the exercises I incorporated into my routines immediately provided me with some muscle gain.

Now that I had my protein intake under control, I knew I needed to do something to eliminate bloating and burn fat. I decided to cut out carbs, just to see what would happen. This was a huge sacrifice for me, since rice is probably 90 percent of my diet. After about four days of going without carbs, such as rice, gluten free products, bread and essentially anything that isn’t meat, vegetables, fruit and nuts, I noticed a difference. My stomach was flatter and I felt way less bloated. In terms of my mood, I felt a lot more energetic at the gym and my stomach didn’t hurt after big meals. Even if you don’t want to cut it out long term, I would definitely recommend trying to cut out carbs for a bit and seeing if you experience the same positive results. We get to know our bodies on a deeper level through eliminating and reintroducing different foods.

The last major part of this winter break journey was my ab workout routines. I’ve been doing ab workouts since freshman year of high school, but since I never ate the right foods to burn fat and build muscle, I never saw serious results. Now that I started consuming more protein and eating less carbs, my abs are more defined and toned. Now it actually looks like I work on my abs! If you’re thinking about taking some of this advice, just know that the most important thing to understand is that your diet is what will change your overall physique. Yes, the workouts you do and weights you lift will tone you and help shape you, but the foods you eat will fuel your muscles to perform and look the way you want them to. From personal experience, doing ab workouts for eight years won’t do much if you don’t eat enough protein. Muscle gains and “body goals” are made in the kitchen.


Tessa Pawlik is a campus correspondent for The Daily Campus. She can be reached via email at tessa.pawlik@uconn.edu.

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