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7 Muscle Foods for Men

How Much? continued...

“Two cups of milk contain about 20 grams of protein, which is the amount recommended to stimulate muscle protein synthesis," Rosenbloom says.

But most people don’t eat by the numbers. Clark advises her athletes to divide their food into four equally sized meals and choose three out of these four options: fruit or vegetable, grains, healthy fats, and calcium-rich or lean protein at each meal.

“The foundation of each meal is based on healthy carbs, with additional protein like oatmeal with nuts and yogurt, turkey and cheese sandwich with veggies, or spaghetti with meat sauce and a salad. These are all great for body building,” says Clark, author of Nancy Clark’s Sports Nutrition Guidebook.

For a food plan designed just for you, consult a registered dietitian.

Get Muscle-Building Results by Fatiguing Muscles

The only way to build bigger, more defined muscles is with progressive resistance training -- gradually increasing weights and endurance. Use a weight heavy enough to cause muscle fatigue after 9-12 repetitions. If you can easily do 13 repetitions with good form, you need to increase the weight.

“It is the act of pushing the muscles past the comfort zone that promotes muscle growth and more definition," Clark says.

Strength training results show up quicker than aerobic exercise. “It’s encouraging to start seeing enhanced definition fairly soon after working out at least twice a week for 30-45 minutes," Rosenbloom says.

The exact length of time it takes to start seeing enhanced definition of your muscles also depends on your percentage of body fat. An extra fat layer around your muscles will not let the newly toned muscle show through without weight loss. Clark says gaining 2 pounds of muscle per month is a reasonable expectation.

Strength training is vital to building muscles, but it is also an important part of any fitness program and should be done 2 to 3 times per week for 20 to 30 minutes each time. “It is a great investment in your future well-being because you need to use your muscles or you will lose them," Clark says.

As we age, strength training helps maintain muscle strength, prevent osteoporosis, and decrease muscle and joint injuries.

Rosenbloom recommends going to a gym where you can work with a trainer to understand how to properly perform muscle building exercises to challenge but not injure your muscles.

Kathleen Zelman, MPH, RD, is director of nutrition for WebMD. Her opinions and conclusions are her own.

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Edited on June 01, 2011

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