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The Teen Guy's Guide to Gaining Muscle

What to do -- and not do -- to build up your muscles.

Do These 5 Things Now continued...

4. Get enough calories. Do your parents give you a hard time about eating so much? If you’re training hard, politely ask them to give it a rest, says Roberta Anding, RD, a dietitian who works with athletes ranging from high schoolers to the Houston Astros and the Houston Texans. You need calories for growth and performance!

As a growing, active guy, you may need about 3,000 calories or more each day. Anding's tips:

  • Eat breakfast every day.
  • Get plenty of carbohydrates (carbs) from foods such as whole-grain bread, fruits, and milk. This way, your body has carbs to burn for fuel so it can save the protein you eat for muscle-building.
  • If you’re hungry late in the evening, have a snack. But…
  • Set your sights higher than fast food and candy. “You don’t create a Lamborghini body and put regular gas in it," Anding says. "You’re going to go with the high-octane stuff. Your body is no different.” Choose real food, not junk food.

5. Feed your muscles when they’re hungry. Another muscle-building hormone your body makes is insulin, Anding says. It makes your muscles soak up sugar, proteins, and other things that make them bigger and stronger.

Insulin is extra-effective right after a workout. So within 30 minutes after a workout, eat a blend of carbs and protein. Some options:

  • Peanut butter and jelly sandwich
  • Turkey sandwich
  • Trail mix
  • Smoothie made with yogurt and fruit
  • A carbs-and-protein bar

But too much protein can harm the body and have serious effects on your kidneys. So don’t eat too much of it.

Skip These 5 Mistakes

Here are five things NOT to do when you're working on building strong muscles:

1. Don’t hurt yourself trying to look cool. You know those guys who always moan and strain in the gym until they’re red in the face? Don’t be one of them. “The kids who get into the ‘I can lift more than you’ [mindset] and try to do their one-rep max on the bench can tear something or injure themselves by being unnecessarily competitive,” Roberts says. An injury can make you lose valuable training time. So always stay within your limits, and work with your coach or trainer.

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