Muscles play a huge role in our overall health. Indeed, muscle mass has become a popular buzzword on social media networks. Women have long demonised building muscles for fear of bulking up. In reality, increasing your muscle mass is crucial to managing your health.
Indeed, muscles and joints orchestrate movements in your body. Weak muscles can affect your mobility in many ways. The body is forced to compensate for a lack of strength or stability, leading to pain in other areas. Additionally, weaknesses can cause repetitive strain and injuries in the long term.
Additionally, muscle tissues considerably improve your metabolism. Muscles require more calories for maintenance, which means that your basal metabolic rate is higher based on your muscle mass. People who often struggle with low BMR — how many calories the body burns to maintain its functions in a day — have a low muscle to bodyweight ratio. Your muscle mass is crucial to healthy weight management.
Muscle mass makes repetitive and demanding activities more manageable. Carrying the groceries or climbing the stairs are typical activities of every life. But if your muscles can’t take the challenge, the strain accumulates over time until the tissues and organs suffer. Building muscles can help prevent health complications such as certain types of cancer, coronary artery disease and even type 2 diabetes. It also supports your immune system, helping the body better cope with viruses and infections.
In short, there are many reasons to build your muscle mass. But, it’s not always easy to focus on muscle improvements. If you’re working hard and fail to see any difference, these might be the challenges that prevent muscle build:
You’re stressed out
Stress is a known health saboteur. High stress levels can affect your immune system, your weight, and your mental health. Indeed, the stress response shuts down essential bodily functions as the survival flight or fight instinct kicks in. Tight deadlines at work, rush hour traffic or drinking too much coffee are the most common stress triggers nowadays. As a result, your body assumes you are constantly under attack. The stress response is always on. So training hard is unlikely to build muscle mass. The stress hormone, cortisol, inhibits the essential protein synthesis at the core of muscle growth. Cortisol even encourages muscle breakdown as an energy source. It becomes essential to focus on regulating your stress level before seeing the benefits of your training.
Meditation, yoga, and spending quality time with your loved ones can help. Yet, beware of unhealthy coping strategies such as tobacco, which affects muscle growth too. If you are already a moderate to heavy smoker, quitting cold turkey will stress you even more — and increase cortisol level, so the vicious cycle continues. Instead, you can find it more manageable to gradually reduce your tobacco consumption, switching to vaping kits such as the Aspire Zelos Nano kit to keep craving and cortisol under control.
You don’t consume enough protein
Your muscles consist of protein. So, the best tip to build muscle mass is to consume protein. However, it can be tricky to get your protein, depending on your diet. Vegan and vegetarian eaters often lack protein in their diets. But even omnivorous diets can struggle to maintain a balanced diet while increasing protein intake. That’s where protein shakes can make a huge difference to muscle growth. Protein powder can be consumed as a shake or as part of a recipe to help muscle recovery and growth. For muscle gain, nutritionists recommend consuming 2.2 grams of protein per kg of body weight.
I’m not losing any weight dilemma
Let’s be honest. Most people embark on a fitness journey to keep their weight under control. Understandably, when the scale doesn’t budge, it can be disappointing if you use muscle gain to lose weight. However, it doesn’t mean you are not achieving your goals. Indeed, muscle weighs more than fat for equal size. Therefore, you may be losing body fat and building muscle without noticing any difference in weight. To track your muscle journey, you need to focus on other factors, such as how clothes fit or whether your endurance is increasing. Additionally, investing in a scale that can provide your body composition can be a game-changing experience.
You’re on a low-calorie diet
Last but not least, carbs are essential to muscle gain. A low-calorie diet that reduces carb intake forces the body to burn tissues, including muscle tissues, as energy supply. Don’t ban carbs; they’re good for your muscle goals, taken in moderation.
Increasing your muscle mass is a long-term health and fitness project. Contrary to common belief, building lean muscle mass will not make you bulky. It will positively affect your health in many ways. Yet, you need to recognise the most common obstacles to muscle gain, including stress and diet issues, to see the fruit of your efforts.
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