How Nitrogen Balance Leads to Muscle Gains

Photo by: Bigstockphoto
Photo by: Bigstockphoto

We all know that the best way to boost muscle mass is to consume protein. But how do you know if you’re getting enough protein to regenerate more muscle tissues? You can check if you’re getting enough protein by calculating your nitrogen balance.

Nitrogen balance is the measurement of nitrogen output subtracted from the nitrogen input. With the right level of nitrogen in the body, you increase the chances of muscle gains.

The 3 States of Nitrogen Balance

Nitrogen is not static, it has three states and each one can affect your fitness efforts. Positive is a state that describes the greater intake of nitrogen compared to nitrogen output. This is the optimal nitrogen state for building muscles. The greater the nitrogen intake, the faster the recovery workout. Positive state puts the body in an anabolic state.

Equilibrium is the state in which the nitrogen input and output are equal. At this point, you are neither developing muscles nor regressing from your fitness state. Finally, there’s the negative state. This is the least ideal of all nitrogen balance because the nitrogen loss is greater than intake. At this point, the muscles start breaking down, leaving the body to a catabolic state.

Measuring Nitrogen Balance

You can measure your nitrogen balance by tracking the nitrogen content of the foods you eat. Then, you compare the amount of nitrogen excreted. You can also estimate your nitrogen balance by measuring urine urea nitrogen loss. 90% of nitrogen is lost through the urine through the kidneys.

How to Achieve Negative Nitrogen Balance

Eat Protein Rich Foods

This is a no-brainer, especially if you are a bodybuilder. You want to consume more lean protein in order to achieve the right balance of nitrogen in the body. Avoid poor sources of protein such as red, fatty meats and get it from fish, poultry and nuts.

Balanced Fat and Carbohydrates Consumption

Don’t abstain from fat and carbs completely. You need these nutrients to support protein synthesis. However, choose fats and carbs from healthy sources such as grains, oily fish, and nuts. You want foods that are high in complex carbs and fiber such as root crops and vegetables too.

Do not Over-Train

Overtraining won’t accelerate muscle growth. It does the total opposite. When you over-train, the muscle tissues start breaking down. Too much training coupled by insufficient consumption of protein causes negative nitrogen balance.

Get Enough Rest

Resting is just as important as training. You want to give your muscles a break from intense training to trigger protein synthesis. If you work out too often, the muscles will start using protein surplus as fuel. This generates negative nitrogen balance. You want to rest to let the body repair itself. And once it does, the muscles start growing.

Triggering Anabolic State

When training, you want to maximize positive nitrogen balance by stimulating the muscle fibers without causing muscle breakdown. And when you do, the body reaches an anabolic state. This will pave the way for positive nitrogen balance. The body becomes more efficient without fatiguing. To do this, keep your training short and intense. Keep the workout at 45 minutes maximum and complete two to three exercises per body part.

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