5 ways to Increase Lean Body Mass

5 ways to Increase Lean Body Mass

Many of you have heard me mention one statistic in particular that speaks volumes for strength training. One pound of muscle burns roughly 35-50 calories per day at REST while one pound of fat only burns 2-3 calories. Strength training is the best way to ensure you don’t gain ‘bad’ weight. Today’s article provides a list of five ways to both look and feel stronger.


1. Timing
Our bodies build lean body mass through protein, and this occurs at different times throughout the day. The human body is metabolically hardwired to use most of its energy during daylight hours. Make sure to consume a high protein meal in the evening. Not only will this allow a greater stimulation of protein synthesis, but it will also suppress the appetite so we’re less apt to consume bad calories prior to going to bed.


2. Recovery
We all release a stress hormone called Cortisol after exercise which increases the breakdown of muscle protein (a bad thing). How to prevent this: consume a recovery drink within 15-30 minutes post-workout. This is the time when enzymes that rebuild protein are most activated. Based on exercise intensity, you want anywhere from a 4:1 to a 2:1 carb-to-protein ratio.


3. Protein Shake Before Bed
For many of us, nighttime sleep is the body’s longest period of fasting within a 24-hour period. Similar to post-exercise, we also release Cortisol at this time to help break down muscle protein for use as energy. This is why our Cortisol levels are highest in the morning when we wake. Do yourself a favor and minimize this cortisol increase by having a protein shake before bed. As an added bonus, protein also helps you sleep better.


4. Include Protein During Workouts
As we’ve touched on before, the body uses carbohydrates (muscle glycogen) as its primary energy source during strength training. However, it can gain 20% more energy from protein breakdown for workouts lasting at least one hour. Therefore, it’s a good idea to include a sports drink such as Gatorade and add some protein powder.  This way your muscles will use the protein source here rather than cannibalize the body’s muscle protein.


5. Drop Fat, NOT Muscle, While Dieting
Dieting will help you lose fat, therefore increasing the body’s percentage of lean body mass. However, extreme diets also increase muscle protein breakdown. If your daily decrease is 300-400 calories, you’ll lose weight gradually and roughly only 9% of this will be from lean body mass. A significant drop such as 800-1,000 calories less per day may take up to 45% from lean body mass. What happens when the dieting stops (think back to the statistic in the first paragraph)? You’ll gain all that weight back and then some…bad news.




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