Ask Matt Grace! Author of "A Way Out" and "Toned Arms in Ten Days", long term raw foodist Matthew Grace is a former Standout Amateur Boxer, Fitness Coach, and Wellness Expert. Matthew is the founder of the Coalition for Health Re-Education and regularly presents lectures and seminars on wellness, healing, and awareness of harmful and false information regarding health.
I frequently hear people in raw food circles talk about eating or wanting to eat specific foods to build muscle. Is eating specific foods with the expectation that the food will build muscle mass ever warranted? Why or why not?
First things first: It doesn’t matter what food you eat if you’re not training there is NO food on the planet that will increase your muscle density on its own. That may sound obvious but I realize that there are many people looking for shortcuts. Witness the television advertisements these days; “8 minute abs,” “exercise in a bottle,” the “fat burning pill,” “electronic exercise while you sleep,” and of course “7 minute abs.” It is not hard to imagine that there are people who believe that eating a certain food will make your muscles grow just by ingesting it……… New Flash: It ain’t happenin.’
For twenty years I have been studying nutrition and since I could walk, I have been an athlete. As a small and skinny teenager I was desperate to build my body up and once I found weight training there was no looking back. I had no knowledge of nutrition other than the mechanical repetition of a “high protein” diet that was (and still is) espoused in the gyms, and for the first 7 years of my strength training I ate what everybody else ate. I also bought plenty of “weight gain” and “high protein” powders to assist my efforts at “getting big.”
Looking back it is safe to say that the only efforts that really made a difference were those spent grinding it out in the gym, day after day come rain or come shine…for years. I was eating a horrible diet but my muscles responded to an intense training regimen. Entering high school I was a scrawny five feet seven inches tall and weighed one hundred and five pounds. After four years of serious weight training, and poor eating, I graduated at six foot four one hundred and seventy five pounds. Without the training I imagine I would have weighed about one sixty.
What’s the point? Simply stated if you make your muscles do more than they are used to doing, they will grow, no matter what food you eat. Now back to the question.
Are there certain fruits, vegetables seeds or nuts that will give you an added advantage over others? That is a VERY tough question to answer and would take an unbiased and endless amount of research to come up with any definitive answer, as there are SO many factors involved. The answer is I don’t know. That being the case, there is some knowledge, evidence and experience to help shed some light on the subject.
First of all the idea that high protein foods build muscle better and faster than “carbohydrates” or raw fruits and vegetables is unproven and ridiculous. Anybody that is telling you to go heavy on the protein is selling you something, period. If you want some irrefutable evidence that a high protein diet is unnecessary to build muscle all we have to do is look to nature where the strongest and mightiest creatures on the planet are found. Does anybody question the force of a rhinoceros? How about an elephant? A horse or a giraffe? Let’s consider the pound for pound strongest species on the planet, the silver back gorilla, two hundred times stronger than the average human. All of the above animals have two things in common. They are extremely powerful and they eat nothing but plant life. No protein bars, protein shakes or high protein diets…..nothing but plant life.
By definition a protein is a chain link of amino acids. The best source of amino acids are raw fruits, vegetables seeds and nuts. Our bodies require bio-available amino acids to make protein. We don’t need to ingest complete proteins as the pitch-men and the ignorant insist. Human mother’s milk is about 3 percent protein, that’s it. Do you think nature has made a mistake and forgotten how important protein is, or do you think the protein salesmen have overstated it’s importance?
There are certain foods I prefer such as mangos, bananas, avocadoes, coconuts and oranges. I also enjoy a handful of macadamia nuts as well as pecans once in a while. These are simply my preferences and I don’t eat specific foods to help put on muscle. I wouldn’t know what to eat to gain some sort of muscle gaining advantage. However I will say this: When I eat any food there is an immediate sense of the quality of that particular mango or orange. It has to do with the taste, the look the aroma and the immediate satiation gained from the food I am eating. There is an indescribable and ineffable sense that prime quality foods emit. There is nothing like a great piece of fruit. I have had mangos that I swear must have been grown in heaven and it seems that I can literally feel the nutrients coarsing through my bloodstream and feeding my body. I can say the same for peaches, pears, bananas, apples, grapes, pineapple, durian, tomatoes etc. Is there a certain food to eat to pack on a little more muscle or is it the quality of the food we eat that makes the difference? I say it has to do with quality.
If you want to put on some weight you could also consider eating more frequently throughout your day. Instead of two big meals a day, you might try four average sized meals. The body is able to digest small meals easier than big ones. This has been helpful to me and my clients when trying to gain a little more mass.
One last thing……If you are not training correctly and don’t understand the principles of weight training ( workout programs, split routines, proper rest and sound form) you are going to have a much more difficult time trying to build your body. I am often astounded at the droves of people that walk in off the street and assume they know how to exercise. These same people that take tennis lessons, music lessons and skiing lessons assume for some strange reason that there really isn’t much to know about weight training. There is a glaring disregard for the art of exercise, and this is at the heart of most people’s disappointment with their results. Unfortunately as is true in most professions even the trainers are hacks. Many of them are dangerous to their clients and instead of encouraging people to train unknowingly do the opposite.
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