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Muscle training - what should you be eating?

Sticking to a regimented diet during a muscle building cycle is just as important as lifting weights in the gym. Lifting weights on a poor diet won't turn you into the next Schwarzenegger because the added fat will just mask muscle. However, by combining healthy eating with a weight lifting regime, you'll soon see results. So what sort of things should the average 9-to-5 office worker be eating when trying to build muscle?

When trying to pack on muscle, hitting the gym early in the morning is vital. Lifting weights will give you the boost you need to crack on with work over the course of the day. Get up early, grab some fresh fruit like an apple, mixed berries or some grapes and hit the gym. Don't be afraid to knock back an espresso, too - even muscle titans wake up cranky.

According to nutritionists, it's the most important meal of the day. Skipping breakfast is a massive no-no, so make sure you leave enough time between leaving the gym and heading to work in order to rustle up some food. There's no magic food that will instantly pack on muscle for you - but if there was, it would probably be eggs. So for breakfast, whip up some scrambled eggs on wholegrain bread.

You're going to get peckish during the day, no question. That's a good thing because eating lots of small meals rather than three massive ones will help repair muscles constantly over the course of the day. Grab a bag of mixed nuts or seeds to munch on - a high source of fibre, magnesium and good fats - as an alternative to cakes.

Lunch has finally arrived and it couldn't come any sooner. Your body needs protein to reduce pain and repair muscles, so grill a chicken breast and slide it between some wholegrain bread for that all-important protein replenishment. Don't be afraid to mix it up with some steak or other protein-rich meats - after all, this is a guide, not a rulebook. Experiment and see what's best for you. If you're a vegetarian, treat yourself to a three-bean salad full of important foods like hard-boiled egg, green/red/broad beans and yoghurt.

Afternoon nibbles
Believe it or not, peanut butter is a great supplement to your muscle building diet. Despite being high in calories, a bit of peanut butter spread onto a wholemeal bagel (all washed back with a protein shake) is high in protein and fibre.

After your post-office workout, treat yourself to some lean fish, brown rice and broccoli for dinner to maximize protein intake along with other important nutrients like omega 3. As well as being low in fat, this dinner should fill you up for the rest of the evening.

Bedtime Treat
Before getting into bed and curling up for the night, grab some yoghurt and a protein shake. It'll help build metabolism and repair muscles overnight from your post-work gym session. Now get some sleep so you're raring to go tomorrow.

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