You hear and see the term “lean muscle” everywhere you go in the health and fitness industry. If you’ve ever bought a home workout DVD of any kind, odds are you’ve heard the trainer say “lean muscle” or “lean muscle mass” about a dozen times.
But what is lean muscle? What is that trainer talking about and how do you get it?
In order to figure out how to build lean muscle, you first have to learn what lean muscle mass is. In order to do that, we have to start at the very beginning.
What is a muscle?
It may sound like a silly question. Of course you know what a muscle is. Muscles are what allow you to walk, get out of bed, run, talk, blink, and any other type of movement you can think of. But if we were to put your bicep under a microscope and see what it’s actually made of, you would gain a better understanding of how it works.
Muscles, essentially, are bands of fibrous tissue that have the ability to contract. Proteins are what make up that fibrous material. Muscles contract when they are stimulated by electrical impulses. Most of the time, it’s your brain that sends these electrical impulses. Sometimes, other electrical currents not originating in the brain contract our muscles.
Ever wonder why when someone gets electrocuted in the movies that they stiffen up? That’s because all their muscles are contracting at once due to the electrical stimuli they are getting.
What is lean muscle?
Simply put, lean muscle is muscle without fat. It’s not exactly a scientific term. It’s more of an unofficial term used by industry professionals when they don’t have time to explain the science.
When you gain lean muscle mass, essentially what is happening is you are building up your muscles while at the same time NOT increasing the level of fat in your body. Think of it like a game of ratios. You gain more lean muscle mass as your muscle to fat ratio increases. You lose lean muscle mass when your muscle to fat ratio decreases.
Building lean muscle mass doesn’t mean that you have to start lifting heavy weights every day. You can build lean muscle mass just by walking. Remember it’s all about ratios. As long as your fat levels are smaller than your muscle levels, that means you are building lean muscle mass.
That’s why the term is often so confusing to people. Gaining lean muscle mass doesn’t necessarily have to mean you “gain” anything. Again, the term is used to describe the muscle to fat ratio, not just muscle or fat alone.
How do you gain lean muscle mass?
That’s the million dollar question isn’t it? The truth of the matter is that there are thousands of ways to do it.
Pretty much every workout that you could think of is designed to build lean muscle mass. But the way to get better results is to combine healthy nutrition with your workout.
Most often, people focus on performing two different types of workouts: aerobic and anaerobic. Aerobic focused workouts are designed to burn fat, but not build muscle. Anaerobic workouts are focused on building muscle and less on burning fat. In both types of workouts, lean muscle mass can be gained because they drive your muscle and fat ratios closer to where they need to be.
Like we said before, lean muscle mass is all about the combination and ratio of muscle and fat. Exercise and good nutrition are the double-edged sword you need to maximize your body’s ability to gain lean muscle mass. Your workouts push your muscle ratio up and your diet pulls your fat ratio down.
So what kind of things can you change in your diet to help pull your fat ratio down while you’re working out and pushing your muscle ratio up? Obviously you want to avoid the burgers and tacos on a consistent basis, but there are three primary nutrition elements that most people overlook that could be just what your body needs to pull that fat ratio down.
- Lactose-Free Whey Protein
Lactose is the primary sugar that is found in milk and other forms of dairy. It’s also the key element that makes milk and dairy products so fatty. When someone is lactose intolerant, it doesn’t mean they are allergic to milk itself. It means their body can’t digest that lactose sugar molecule.
Remember when we said that the fibrous material that muscles are made of consisted of proteins? Well, when you workout, what essentially is happening is you are breaking your muscles down, and in response, your body sends additional protein to help build the muscle back up. By boosting your protein intake, all that you are doing is giving your body turbo boosted tools to help build your muscles back up when they are broken down.
Whey protein provides essential amino acids (the stuff that protein is made of) and has the highest biological value of any protein. Whey protein doesn’t come from any other outside sources like egg or soy so it’s allergy friendly. It releases quickly into the body and is best for fast, efficient muscle support. Lactose-free whey protein is put through an extra filtration process to ensure that all the lactose is removed so that the protein itself will have no barriers when getting to the muscles.
Lactose-free protein is around 90 percent pure protein and is virtually fat free. This means that your muscles are getting the added benefits of a protein boost to help them grow and at the same time it’s NOT contributing to any sort of rise in your fat ratio
- Conjugated Linoleic Acid (CLA)
CLA is a naturally occurring fatty acid. Wait…aren’t we trying to decrease our fat ratios? Why would we want to take an additional fatty acid into our bodies? Doesn’t that defeat the purpose?
Those are the kinds of thoughts that have caused CLA to be overlooked as an important contributor to gaining lean muscle mass. In reality, many trainers recommend 1.4 to 3.0 grams of CLA per day to achieve body fat loss.
CLA is connected to Omega-6 fatty acids, which are a type of essential fatty acid found in most meat and dairy products. However, CLA isn’t as easy to get from a regular diet as other Omega-6 fatty acids are. That’s because it’s usually found in very low levels in regular food. This means that in order to get the CLA that you need to burn fat, you need to take a CLA supplement.
CLA is conjugated from a family of 28 different isomers of linoleic acid and helps the body burn fat by boosting metabolism. That means that it helps pull your body’s fat ratio down because it helps your body use your fat stores up for energy. Additionally, the added energy boost that CLA gives you can help you work out harder, thus increasing your muscle ratio.
- Green Tea
Green tea has been used in most eastern cultures as a medicinal herb for literally thousands of years. Not only does it support your immune system and your liver, but it’s also an effective herb for supporting healthy weight management.
The ingredients in green tea that help it support your immune system and liver are called catechins. Catechins are natural plant compounds that help to prevent the growth of free radicals (the stuff that makes plants and people age faster).
The antioxidant that is responsible for making green tea an effective weight-loss tool is called epigallocatechin gallate, or, EGCG. EGCG, like CLA, is a metabolism booster that helps the body use up fat stores as energy. Fat that is located in the lower belly is particularly susceptible to EGCG for burning.
Green tea’s natural caffeine levels offer an increase in energy that help the body work out harder. This combination of natural caffeine and EGCG make green tea another important element in building lean muscle mass because it pushes up the muscle ratio and pulls down the fat ratio at the same time.
Where you can get all three of them
Wouldn’t it be nice if you could get all three of those nutritional elements in one place? Well now you can. Nutri-Burn® by Nature’s Sunshine is one of the few places that you can get lactose-free whey protein, CLA, and green tea all in one convenient package.
Each 61g serving of Nutri-Burn® promotes lean muscle mass and fat burning by increasing your metabolic rate and boosting your energy levels, all while providing 60 percent of the daily value of 14 essential vitamins and minerals. Nutri-Burn® also helps increase lipolysis. Lipolysis is the body’s process of breaking down fats and other lipids.
Nutri-Burn’s® patented protein matrix contains an optimal blend of both whey protein and calcium caseinate protein and undergoes extreme filtration to remove all impurities.
Additionally, Nutri-Burn® contains plant enzymes that help break down protein molecules into smaller, better-absorbed amino acids. Nutri-Burn also contains one gram of prebiotic fiber (scFOS) per serving to help support gut health.
Of course, you can always find other protein shakes to take, but Nutri-Burn® is one of the few products that contains CLA and green tea along with whey protein. This makes it the ideal tool for building lean muscle mass and decreasing your fat to muscle ratio.
How you should take Nutri-Burn®
The bag comes with its own convenient rounded scoop so you can measure out your servings accurately. Mix two scoops (61g) of the Nutri-Burn® powder with approximately 12-16 ounces of cold water.
Ideally, you should take Nutri-Burn® within about 45 minutes of working out so that the whey protein can be delivered to your muscles during their rebuilding period. Even after that time period, the slow releasing calcium caseinate protein in Nutri-Burn® offers a sustained release of amino acids. That slow release process has been reported to curb appetite throughout the day.
You can’t think of lean muscle mass as a better looking butt or bigger biceps. You have to think of lean muscle mass as a balancing act between your muscle to fat ratios. The only way that you can get the lean muscle mass that you want is to incorporate proper nutrition practices along with a sensible exercise routine that works best for your body type.
Even the best diet in the world can still lack some of the nutrients you need to bring your muscle to fat ratio to where it needs to be. That’s where Nutri-Burn® comes in. It fills the holes in our nutrition that diet alone leaves behind.
So if you are looking to make a lifestyle change that can help you become a more fulfilled and better you, Nutri-Burn®, along with a sensible diet and exercise routine, can provide the foundation you need to start you on that process.