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Q. I'm a 17 year-old ectomorph and I have a really hard time gaining weight. I always eat clean food and avoid any kind of junk like fast food or pizza. I train hard and my diet is all on track, why can't I gain any weight?
A. What I'm about to tell you may be argued by others, but it is my firm belief that ectomorphs like yourself need to be much more flexible with their diets. Don't be afraid of fat! Eat anything and everything. Pizza, cheeseburgers, ice cream, pile it all in. I think the number one mistake made my ectomorph bodybuilders is that they don't eat enough. Now I'm not saying to go overboard and eat high fat foods at every meal, but if the food is there don't pass it by. Still stick to high quality protein sources like tuna, eggs, milk, beef, protein shakes etc, but you must realize that you will not gain any weight unless your total calories consumed is greater than those that are burned. I mean, let's look at the facts:
- You're an ectomorph. You have enough trouble gaining weight as it is and fat will be no exception. It is highly unlikely that you will wake up one morning and see that you have turned into a sumo wrestler.
- You're 17. At this age your metabolism is already through the roof.
- You are on a weight-training program. Having more muscle on your body enables you to burn fat at a faster rate, on top of your already rocket-fast metabolism and ectomorph structure.
The moral of the story? EAT! Eat, eat, eat, and eat some more. Diet plays such a crucial role in bodybuilding and cannot be overlooked. As an ectomorph you should never allow yourself to become hungry. I noticed that if my diet begins to slip, so does my weight. It doesn't matter how hard I'm training in the gym, if my body doesn't have a surplus of protein at its disposal, my body weight drops like nothing. This especially crucial for hardgainers! You will never realize your true muscular potential until you start eating! You train like a man, so eat like one! So stop worrying and start eating, damnit!
Q. Is alcohol really that harmful to bodybuilders?
A. Yes! Contrary to what some may tell you, alcohol consumption will have quite a negative impact on your bodybuilding goals. Why? Let's look and see…
- It is extremely high in empty calories, yielding 7 calories per gram.
- It disrupts the Kreb's cycle, which will in turn slow down the metabolism leading to increased fat storage
- It slows down protein synthesis by up to 20%
- It dehydrates the muscle cells
- It blocks the absorption of many critical nutrients such as calcium, phosphorus, magnesium, iron and potassium.
- It lowers testosterone levels and increases estrogen production
- It reduces insulin like growth hormone by up to 42%
Q. What is your opinion on aspartame? Some say the stuff is horrible for your health and others say it is perfectly fine. What do you think?
A. I think most people take it way too far when it comes to the negative side of this sweetener. It a food additive that has had much research and can be used as a tabletop sweetener or can be added to foods to increase the sweetness. If it were THAT dangerous then the FDA would certainly not have approved it. Aspartame's only major downside is that is contains a protein component called "phenylalanine". This substance can become problematic for those with a certain hereditary disease known as PKU. The condition is rare and all infants are tested for it at birth, so chances are if you don't already know about it, you don't have it.
Q. What approach is better for increasing lean mass: eating 3 larger meals a day, or 6 smaller meals a day. Contrary to what people have told me, it seems to make more sense that eating 3 larger meals would be better for gaining mass since one could eat more at each sitting and thus obtain more nutrients. Which is better and why?
A. Well, you're very wrong. Eating 5-6 smaller meals a day is a much better approach to gaining muscle and keeping the body fat off. Why? Basically by eating smaller meals spread throughout the day we allow our body to always remain in an anabolic state. You see, after going 2-4 hours without protein the body switches into "starvation mode" and the green light for muscle growth quickly turns red. Basically through thousands of years of evolution our body's learned to slow down the metabolism in order to conserve nutrients, thus preventing starvation. So by eating more frequently the body will always remain anabolic and the metabolism will stay raised. Also, smaller meals are more easily digested than larger ones. The number 1 mistake people make when trying to gain mass while staying lean is not eating frequently enough!
Q. Is milk a good choice for bodybuilders?
A. Absolutely! Milk is a convenient and high quality source of protein. 1 cup (250ml) contains 8.5 grams of protein. Milk is a roughly 75% casein and 25% whey. This combination is perfect for adding mass. Casein is a slow digesting protein that gels in the stomach and is absorbed after about 4 hours. Whey on the other hand is the most bioavailable source of protein around and is absorbed within 30 minutes.
By having this combination of whey and casein the body will receive an initial rush of aminos followed by a slow, steady release; the perfect combination to keep yourself anabolic. Milk is also high in calcium, vitamin D and lactoferrin. Learn more about the importance of milk, click here!