Legendary training guru Vince Gironda said that building muscle mass is 80% nutrition. While we don't buy into that idea completely, it's safe to say that nutrition is pretty damn important and could be responsible for at least 50% of your results. Without getting into overly complicated formulas, most people can determine how many calories they need to consume each day to gain weight by simply multiplying their body weight by eighteen. Therefore a 200-pound man would start with 3,600 calories per day. Give this number a two-week trial run and then assess your progress. If you are gaining more fat than muscle reduce your calories by 250 per day. You should be gaining one to two pounds per week. If you are gaining more than two pounds per week you can be pretty sure you are gaining fat. Usually you can only gain one to two pounds of lean tissue per week; any more than that will be fat. If you are not gaining enough weight, increase your calories by 250 per day. Within a few weeks of experimenting and listening to your body, you will be able to optimally determine what is right for you.
Below is the list of guidelines that must be followed to guarantee optimal results:
1. Eat Like a Horse
I'm talking about eating like it's your job, eating when you are not hungry, and eating when it is an inconvenience. This is what it takes to gain an inordinate amount of size and strength. Time after time when we hear people complain about not being able to gain weight, the reason is very simple; they are not eating anywhere near as much as they need to. Some people may even think they are eating a lot, but when they add it all up at the end of the day, they are usually only about halfway there. Packing on serious size requires an incredible amount of dedication and you are going to have to get used to eating more than you ever thought you could if you want to be successful in your mass-gaining efforts. Studies have shown that the simple act of overeating itself is actually an anabolic stimulus and causes muscle gain. Without any weight training whatsoever! Of course, if all you did was eat and not exercise you would end up being a fat slob. But the point is this: do not underestimate the importance of eating big!
2. Eat An Ample Amount of Carbohydrates
Although it's long been the hype among bodybuilders that you need to follow a high-protein diet to build muscle, you have to focus more on carbs and good fats to get big. Shoot for three to four grams of carbs per pound of body weight daily.
- Whole wheat bread
- White potatoes
- Sweet potatoes
- Brown rice
- Hot oat bran cereal
- String beans
3. Eat One Gram of Protein Per Pound of Body Weight Every Day
You may need more or less than this depending on your body fat levels and how many grams of carbohydrates you can tolerate. If you are incredibly lean, you should focus on maintaining a high carbohydrate intake and shoot for only one gram of protein per pound of body weight each day. If you are a bit higher on the body-fat scale and are trying to get leaner, you should limit your carbohydrate intake and increase your protein intake to ensure that you will not lose too much muscle while dieting. Somewhere between one and one-and-a-half grams of protein per pound of body weight may be called for in this situation.
Below is a list of the best protein sources:
- Whole Eggs
- Egg whites
- Skim milk
- Fat free or low fat cheese
- Fat free or low fat cottage cheese
- Canned tuna
- Lean ground beef
- Buffalo meat
- Ostrich meat
- All natural, sugar free protein powder
4. Eat a Big Breakfast Every Morning
If you are trying to become a jacked-up monster, one of the most important things you can do is eat an enormous breakfast. Like mom always said, breakfast is the most important meal of the day. If you are skipping breakfast, you may as well be skipping your workout; that's how important breakfast is. After an eight to 10-hour sleep when your body has been fasting and in a catabolic state for more than a few hours, you absolutely need protein and carbs first thing in the morning to reverse the catabolism and get your body growing again. Breakfast and your post-workout meal should be your biggest feedings of the day.
5. Never Go Longer Than Three Hours Without Eating
Divide up your daily total caloric intake into six or seven meals and eat that amount of calories every two to three hours. When you go longer than three hours without eating, your body will start to go into a catabolic state and eat away your lean muscle tissue. Eating frequently keeps your body in an anabolic state and ready to grow. Eating frequently also allows you to stay leaner than eating two or three big meals does. If you figure out that you need to consume 3000 calories a day. The best thing to do would be to divide that number by six and try to eat that number of calories at each meal. So therefore you would try to eat six meals consisting of 500 calories. The exceptions would be breakfast and post workout meals. During these times you can and should eat more than normal.
6. Make Sure 20-30% of Your Calories Come From Good Sources of Unsaturated Fat
A diet that is too low in fat will automatically cause a drastic drop in performance because low levels of dietary fat cause a decrease in testosterone production. You can avoid this by being sure to consume an adequate amount of good fats such as flax oil, hemp oil, olive oil, fish oil, avocadoes, nuts, Omega-3 egg yolks, and wild salmon. An easy way to get extra calories is to simply take a tablespoon of oil with every meal. These fats will not only help you get extra calories and increase your testosterone production but they will help you get leaner. Higher testosterone and a ripped physique probably also leads to more and better sex. If that kind of thing interests you.
7. Take a Fast Acting Carb & Protein Drink 15-30 Minutes Before Training
Right before you head to the gym you should consume some fast acting carbs such as maltodextrin, dextrose or waxy maize with a scoop of whey isolate. This will give you the insulin spike needed to create an anabolic environment in the body. You will also promote an anti-catabolic environment because the fast acting carbs will be used for energy which will prevent your body from converting protein to glucose for energy. Although much of the hype is focused on post workout drinks, the pre workout drink might actually be more important when it comes to building size and strength.
8. Eat As Soon As Possible After Training
The muscle-building process begins immediately after you finish training. Your body is primed to grow and is in a highly anabolic state. During this two-hour time period, you can synthesize protein and store muscle glycogen at a higher rate than normal. As soon as you finish your training session, it would be a good idea to have a post-workout drink consisting of high-glycemic carbohydrates such as waxy maize, maltodextrin, dextrose or glucose, along with some whey protein.
Before we go any further we would like to address the misconception that you need to seek out the most rapidly absorbing post workout shake you can find. Many experts have argued that you need to race to replenish your glycogen stores as fast as possible after a workout. This is simply not true unless you are training three times per day. In fact the real benefit of drinking a post workout shake is that it allows you to get some quick and easy calories. By the time you finish training you probably haven't eaten in at least two hours and by the time you drive home and cook some food it could be another hour. Drinking the shake allows you to get in another meal. That is really the biggest benefit of a post workout shake. Besides many people don't feel like eating solid food for at least an hour after a brutal workout but chugging down a quick shake is usually pretty easy.
Whether you choose to eat a post workout protein and carb meal or just drink a shake you should know the benefits. Doing this will immediately reverse the testosterone: cortisol ratio which will be in a negative balance after training. Cortisol levels will often be higher than testosterone levels at the end of a training session. As previously mentioned, cortisol is the hormone which destroys and eats away muscle tissue. By eating immediately, you can blunt cortisol levels and get your body back into an anabolic state. The ratio of carbs to protein in this meal or shake should be roughly two to one, with the total amount of each being dependent on body weight. Below you will find the exact amount of carbs and protein for you based on your body weight. These are not written in stone but you should try to be in the ballpark.
|120-140 lbs / 54-64 kg||60||30|
|140-160 lbs / 64-73 kg||75||35|
|160-180 lbs / 73-82 kg||90||45|
|180-200 lbs / 82-91 kg||105||52,5|
|200-220 lbs / 91-100 kg||120||60|
|220-240 lbs / 100-109 kg||150||75|
9. Keep a Diet Journal
So many people tell us they are eating a lot. They tell us they eat all day long and can never get bigger. After we do some math and tell them how much they need to eat in a day, we sit down and add up the total calories that they consumed. Without fail they come up hundreds, if not thousands, of calories short. To get huge you are going to have to familiarize yourself with some basic nutrition info and get to know how many calories, carbs, fat, and protein are in the foods you eat on a regular basis. You don't have to know the exact nutritional profile of everything you eat, but you do need to have a pretty good idea and be able to venture a reasonable guess. Keeping a diet journal will help you make progress at a much faster rate because you will know immediately how many calories you are consuming and why that is or isn't working. If it's not working you will know why and will be able to rapidly remedy the situation.
10. Base Your Diet Around Natural, Organic, Whole-Food Sources
The majority of your calories should come from organic meats, eggs, nuts, legumes, fruits, and vegetables. To simplify this point, we always tell our clients that if a caveman couldn't eat it, then you shouldn't eat it. Avoid most packaged or boxed processed foods that most people eat and you will be on the right path. The exceptions to this rule are brown rice, quinoa, oatmeal, and whole-grain bread. All of those should be staples in your diet.