Macronutrient Composition For Optimal Muscle Growth

Build Muscle, Nutrition,

Macronutrient Composition For Optimal Muscle Growth

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Rosie Chee talks muscle growth and why the right macronutrient profile is essential for building optimal mass.

To gain muscle mass one must be in a POSITIVE energy balance, with a recommendation of ~15% energy increase from maintenance, to ensure that the weight gain acquired from the resistance training undertaken results in muscle accretion [1].


Glycogen is the primary fuel utilized during anaerobic, high intensity training [2]; therefore adequate carbohydrate intake is necessary to provide energy for resistance training [1].

Muscle damage occurring as a result of resistance training increases the daily carbohydrate intake for optimal muscle glycogen synthesis [3].

According to studies done, 5-6g/kg/day of carbohydrate are required for optimal muscle glycogen levels in those looking to gain muscle [1,4].

It is recommended that carbohydrates make up 55-60% of daily total energy intake [1].


The body’s nitrogen balance is improved as a result of resistance training; therefore resistance training increases the daily protein intake requirement [5] through the additional need for amino acids to support muscle accretion [6]. Adequate protein must be available for amino acids to provide protein synthesis (i.e. muscle growth), since muscle is primarily protein and water [1]. There is a level of g/day at which dietary protein becomes optimal for muscle growth; however, above this there are no further anabolic effects, with excess protein ingested being oxidized through other metabolic pathways [1,6,7].

The use of anabolic compounds protein requirements has been shown to DECREASE the protein required for positive nitrogen balance [8], most likely due to an increase in the reutilization of amino acids from the protein degradation for protein synthesis as a consequence of anabolic administration [9].

According to studies done [5] the general population require only 0.8g/kg/day of protein. Bodybuilders and those trying to gain muscle mass require higher amounts, ranging from 1.0-1.2g/kg/day for those who do their resistance training in a steady-state, and as much as 1.5-1.7 g/kg/day for those who train in the early morning or in a fasted state [5,6,7,10,11,12].

It is recommended that protein make up 25-30% of daily total energy intake [1].


There is little known on how fat intake affects muscle accretion [1]. There is however evidence to suggest that a high daily fat intake impairs high intensity exercise performance [13]. Yet low dietary intakes of fat are not optimal for muscle growth, as they have been shown to decrease total testosterone [14].

It is recommended that fat make up 15-20% of daily total energy intake [1].


To achieve muscle accretion one must have a positive energy balance (~15% above maintenance), a moderate to high carbohydrate intake (55-50% total daily energy) to fuel resistance sessions, optimal protein intake (25-30% total daily energy) to ensure protein synthesis, and an adequate fat intake (15-20% total daily energy) to prevent testosterone levels falling.


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Costill, D. L., Pascoe, D. D., Fink, W. J, Robergs, R. A. et al. (1990). Impaired muscle glycogen synthesis after eccentric exercise. J Apply Physiol, 69(1). (p. 45-60).

Burke, L. (2006). Nutrition for recovery after training and competition. In L. Burke & V. Deakin. (Eds.). Clinical sports nutrition (3rd ed.). (p. 415-453). NSW, Australia: McGraw Hill.

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Tarnopolsky, M. (2006). Protein and amino needs for training and bulking up. In L. Burke & V. Deakin. (Eds.). Clinical sports nutrition (3rd ed.). (p. 73-111). NSW, Australia: McGraw Hill.

Tarnopolsky, M. A., Atkinson, S. A., MacDougall, J. D.,� Chelsey, A., Phillips, S. & Scharcz, H. P. (1992). Evaluation of protein requirements for trained strength athletes. Journal of Applied Physiology, 73. (p. 1986-1995).

Phillips, S. M., Tipton, K. D., Ferrando, A. A. & Wolfe, R. R. (1999). Resistance training reduces the acute exercise-induced increase in muscle protein turnover. Am J Physiol Endocrinol Metab, 276(1). (p. E118-E124).

Ferrando, A. A., Tipton, K. D., Dolye, D., Phillips, S. M., Cortiella, J. & Wolfe, R. R. (1998). Testosterone injection stimulates net protein synthesis but not tissue amino acid transport. Am J Physiol Endocrinol Metab, 275(5). (p. E864-E871).

Consolazio, C. F., Johnson, H. L., Nelson, R. A., Dramise, J. G. & Skala, J. H. (1975). Protein metabolism during intensive physical training in the young adult. Am J Clin Nutr, 28. (p. 29-35).

Tarnopolsky, M. A., MacDougall, J. D. & Atkinson, S. A. (1988). Influence of protein intake and training status on nitrogen balance and lean body mass. Journal of Applied Physiology, 64. (p. 187-193).

Torun, B., Scrimshaw, N. S., & Young, V. R. (1977). Effect of isometric exercises on body potassium and dietary protein requirements of young men. Am J Clin Nutr, 30 (p. 1983-1993).

Greenhaff, P. L., Gleeson, M. & Maughan, R. J. (1987). The effects of dietary manipulation on blood base-acid status and performance of high intensity exercise. Eur J Appl Physiol Occup Physiol, 56(3). (p. 331-337).

Berrino, F., Bellati, C., Secreto, G. Camerini, E., Pala, V., Panico, S., Allegro, G. & Kaaks, R. (2001). Reducing bioavailable sex hormones through a comprehensive change in diet: The diet and androgens (DIANA) randomized trial. Cancer Epidemiol Markers Prev, 10(1). (p. 25-33).


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