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Men’s Health Month Series— Healthy Ways to Build Muscles | MyLifeStages
June is Men's Health Month and we at Sutter Health and MyLife Stages are highlighting some of the most common health concerns for men ages 45 and younger.
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Pinterest Pin ItMen’s Health Month Series— Healthy Ways to Build Muscles

Men’s Health Month Series— Healthy Ways to Build Muscles

Posted on 06/30/2015  by  Healthy Living Blog 

June is Men's Health Month and we at Sutter Health and MyLife Stages are highlighting some of the most common health concerns for men ages 45 and younger. This blog post begins our monthlong series on male health issues related to nutrition, fitness, sexual health and healthy habits.

Follow this blog series to learn about:
• Ways to safely build muscle mass
• Methods for combating the dreaded “beer belly”
• The importance of having a primary care physician
• Managing stress and boosting energy
• Staying sexually healthy
• Issues with low testosterone levels

For this first post, we focus on proper nutrition and the safest, most effective ways men can build muscle and stay healthy. With movies like “Avengers: Age of Ultron” in theaters, many men (some of us included) may aspire to a build a body more like Thor’s than the lithe Steve Rogers before his Captain America transformation. But not all of us won that genetic lottery, making muscle mass a bit harder to achieve. We asked nutrition enthusiast Dr. Akilesh Palanisamy, an integrative medicine specialist with Sutter Pacific Medical Foundation in San Francisco, to give us a few tips.

How can I build more muscle mass?

Before tackling a more intense workout routine or loading up on protein-rich foods, Dr. Palanisamy says young men need a strong foundation. A balanced diet with lots of fruits and vegetables is essential, he says: “There’s no magic supplement that can take the place of that.”

Once a healthy diet is established, begin to intensify workouts. Activities with short bursts, such as weight lifting or football, are good for building muscle. Intense workouts such as CrossFit are also beneficial, but Dr. Palanisamy cautions against throwing ourselves into the demanding athletic arena without proper preparation.

“There is some risk of injury if they are not used to that sort of activity,” Dr. Palanisamy says. “I tell people to always ease into any workout regime, and be cautious if they haven’t done that kind of training before.”

For young men training to build muscle mass, Dr. Palanisamy says getting enough protein is important. One way to do this is by adding whey protein, one of the proteins found in milk, to our diet. Whey protein can be purchased in powder form and added to post-workout shakes or smoothies. Dr. Palanisamy says it’s a good supplement for men who are not lactose-intolerant and can easily digest dairy products.

In addition to proper nutrition, we need to make sure we are getting enough sleep and managing our stress levels. Dr. Palanisamy says men who are sleep-deprived can go into a catabolic state in which muscles begin to break down. As we all know, sleep is rejuvenating and gets us energized for the next day’s tasks. Without sleep, the body breaks down muscle tissue and uses the subsequent protein to create energy. Chronic stress is also a major issue, as stress hormones promote weight gain, particularly around the midsection.

Learn how to sleep better by visiting our page with the Top 10 Tips for Healthy Sleep.

How can I stave off the dreaded “beer belly?”

Besides eating a balanced diet and exercising, stress reduction is crucial for a healthy weight.

Stress disrupts the endocrine system and throws off the delicate balance of hormones in our bodies. Chronic stress can increase the levels of insulin in the body, promoting weight gain around the belly. High levels of the stress hormone cortisol can also lead to abdominal fat.

“Reducing stress can really shift the body’s hormones so there’s no excess weight gain,” Dr. Palanisamy says, adding that adequate sleep is equally important.

Learn how to cope with stress by visiting our page with the Top 10 Ways to Reduce Stress. Also learn about our Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction program.

What nutrients should I incorporate into my diet?

It’s time to stock up on salmon filets because Dr. Palanisamy says most of his young male patients aren’t eating enough Omega-3 fatty acids. Our bodies are unable to make these necessary acids, which can only be acquired through food consumption.

We can take a fish oil supplement to get our daily dose of Omega-3 acids, but Dr. Palanisamy encourages us to simply eat more foods containing the essential nutrient. Fish such as salmon and tuna, flax seed oil and walnuts are all prime sources to include in a daily diet.

“Omega-3 fatty acids are important for quieting inflammation and helping with hormone balance,” Dr. Palanisamy says.

Foods with omega-3 fatty acids have been deemed “superfoods” by many doctors, and the healthy fat has been linked to reductions in cardiovascular disease. The American Heart Association recommends eating a 3.5-ounce piece of cooked fatty fish at least twice a week.

For more information about superfoods, check out our popular superfoods article.

Check out our other Men's Health Month Series blog posts:

#2 Read Why Do I Need a Doctor?
#3 Read Boosting Energy, Managing Stress
#4 Read Maintaining a Healthy Sex Life 


Akilesh Palanisamy, M.D., is an integrative medical specialist with Sutter Pacific Medical Foundation.