If your goal is to bulk up, protein is just ONE of the many nutrients you’ll need to eat to increase muscle tone. The truth is that a lot of different nutrients go into helping to pack on the pounds of muscle, and eating right is a critical for achieving muscular growth. Below are the most important nutrients you need to eat—along with protein—to increase muscle tone the natural way:
We all know that calcium is critical for your bones, but did you know that it will also play a role in helping you to increase muscle tone? Calcium gives your muscles the cue to contract when you lift weights, which makes it one of the most important minerals you can add to your diet. The fact that it helps to keep your bones healthy and provide the nutrients needed to make repairs is another vital part of your fitness life. Add more calcium to your diet, both in raw food form and in the form of calcium supplements.
This may sound like an odd choice, but it’s 100% true! Vitamin C plays a role in the health of your cardiovascular system, all the blood vessels that transport nutrients and proteins to your muscles, along with the oxygenated blood your muscles need to keep pumping. If your blood vessels can dilate (expand) properly, enough blood can flow to keep everything working well. The better your body can send nutrients to your muscles, the faster you will recover post-workout, and the more your muscles will grow. Plus, Vitamin C is needed for the production of collagen, which plays a role in not only muscle growth, but the health of your bones and joints.
Omega-3 fatty acids are as vital for your muscles as they are for your brain! Omega-3s increase blood flow, ensuring your muscles get the nutrients and oxygenated blood faster. They also help to reduce the breakdown of muscle proteins, and slow the inflammation that cause your muscles to swell up and feel sore after an intense workout. All in all, they’re definitely worth adding to your muscle-building diet!
Magnesium is a mineral we all get in our food, but one we rarely get enough of. This mineral plays a vital role in your heart health, ensuring a steady heart beat and proper blood flow to keep your muscles supplied with nutrients and blood. It can also help to prevent muscle cramps and alleviate soreness after an intense workout.
Vitamin D isn’t something you can get through your diet—all you need to do is add a bit more sunshine into your life! Vitamin D helps your bones to absorb more calcium, keeping them stronger through even the most intense workout. It also plays a role in muscle contractions, and will aid in muscle repair and growth after your workout is done. Spend at least 30 minutes in direct sunlight every day, and you’ll get all the Vitamin D your body needs!
There are a lot of B vitamins that are critical for your muscle health, specifically B1, B2, B3, B6, B7, and B12. All of these affect your metabolism and help your body to break down and utilize protein, ensure proper energy production, and even encourage the breakdown of fats and carbs for energy. The good news is that you can get lots of B vitamins through your daily diet. Adding more animal proteins and whole grains to your diet is the key to getting more of these critical nutrients that help to increase muscle tone.