With winter quickly on its way, many people are going to be thinking about moving their workouts towards muscle building in effort to pack on the lean muscle mass for the spring-time cut.
This is the best time of the year to try and add muscle mass since if you do gain a small amount of fat in the process, you can easily cover it with the clothing you wear in the colder winter months.
In order to see the best results from your workout program, it will be essential that you have a solid muscle-building diet to follow, which will provide the nutrients your body needs in order to generate this new body mass.
Below you'll find a quick muscle-building diet checklist that you should go through. If you have all elements in place, you'll know you're right on track to seeing the results you're looking for.
Muscle-Building Diet Checklist
Total Calorie Intake
The first element of your muscle-building diet that absolutely must be in place is your calorie intake. If you aren't taking in sufficient calories, it won't matter what type of workout program you're following, you aren't going to be able to support more muscle mass.
How many calories you will require will vary depending on individual characteristics, but typically you will need somewhere between sixteen and twenty calories per pound of body weight.
Calorie Needs Calculator
Select a starting point within this range, eat that intake for a period of two to three weeks, and then assess your progress. If you aren't gaining weight fast enough on that calorie intake, then you should increase it up by another 10-15%.
While total calorie intake is the absolute most important thing to see results from your program, getting sufficient protein intake will be next up on the list.
Protein is what will provide your body with the amino acids that are critical for repairing broken down muscle tissues as well as for supporting new muscle tissue growth.
Bob Cicherillo's Protein Tip!
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When these amino acids are not being supplied, it will become very difficult to generate more muscle tissue. Further, protein is also involved in a number of other functions in the body including supporting a healthy metabolism and promoting a healthy metabolic rate.
You may even want to look into one of the amino acid products available for extra assurance you're not missing any in particular. This will be a really important idea for those who are on vegetarian diets or who limit the protein sources that they use.
Most individuals who are trying to gain lean muscle mass and require a higher calorie intake find it quite helpful to increase their meal frequency.
If they are attempting to squeeze their required number of calories into three or four meals, the individual calorie intake of these meals will be incredibly high.
Instead, it's slightly easier to place your meals more frequently throughout the day so you're eating six to eight, but consume fewer calories per meal.
At the end of the day the calorie intake will be similar, the only difference is that you won't feel quite so stuffed at each of your meals.
'Go-To' Calorie Dense Snacks
Potentially the biggest factor of whether you succeed with your diet or not is whether you are able to get in the calories needed. If you're relying on very high-volume foods to fill these calories such as cooked oatmeal, vegetables, fruits, and egg whites for example, you're going to struggle.
Instead, you want to focus on eating as many high density foods as possible since these will supply more calories per gram. Good examples of such foods include nuts, dried fruit, vegetable juice, bagels, pasta, red meat, and salmon.
It's a smart move to come up with three or four very high-calorie snacks that you can turn to when you need them to really boost your calorie intake up. Trail mix, mixed nuts, a bagel with peanut butter, or a pasta-salmon salad all work great.
When you have these snacks formulated in your mind, it will take away the questioning of what you should eat.
Properly Formulated Mass Gain Shakes
In other cases, using mass gain shakes will provide another way to overcome the difficulty of getting in enough calories. If you're finding that you just feel overstuffed the entire day, you should strongly think about adding one or two high-calorie shakes to your day.
These can replace what would otherwise be a solid food meal and won't be nearly as filling. It's important when using these mass gain shakes though that you formulate them properly.
Avoid using a very high sugar intake because this will be much more likely to lead to sugar spikes followed by crashes shortly after. Ideally you should balance the carbohydrates in the shake with healthy fats (and protein obviously) to slow down the release into the blood stream.
If you are going to use a commercial form of weight gainer, be sure you do look at the ingredient listing and consider adding one or two of your own ingredients if necessary to round out the nutrients that are found in the product.
A Good Multivitamin
Finally, the last thing you should be making sure you're using is a good multivitamin. Since you likely will be limiting the intake of fresh fruits and vegetables in your quest to get your calorie intake up higher, providing a multivitamin will give you the assurance that you aren't missing out on any of the vitamins or minerals that are essential for good health.
This will be especially important for those who tend to gravitate to the same foods on a regular basis as they are much more at risk for suffering from this nutrient deficiency.
It's well worth the additional effort upfront to figure out a proper muscle-building diet. Failing to do so could mean wasted effort in the gym and months of time passed with little results to show for your sessions.