For Maximum Gains
Looking over some of the past articles I've written, I realize I haven't given enough credit to the one thing that will decide how big you get. Yeah, that's right, your diet. If this is something you've overlooked, no matter how hard you train, and how well you supplement, you're not going to grow. About 6 months ago, I found this out first hand. I was 190 lbs ripped going into the summer, I came out at about 180. That summer I started working construction (one of the most physically demanding and intense jobs-I love it) and had little time to eat. I'd often try to eat a protein bar mid morning, and rarely was able to. At lunch I'd have 3 tuna sandwiches, and by the time I got home I was too tired and dehydrated (even though I put down about a gallon of water in those 10 hours) to even think about food. It was a chore just working out. Talking to my friend Anthony about this, he put it in simple terms what I needed to do: "That's why at suppertime, you got to EAT LIKE A MAN", and that's what this article is about, eating to gain, eating like a man!
If you haven't been gaining, chances are you haven't been eating enough. Right now it's wintertime (well, for those of us in the Northern Hemisphere) and that means the sweatshirts and sweaters come out. So don't be a pansy and get paranoid when we talk about gaining a layer of fat. Since it's wintertime, you're not going to be showing your abs off to anyone, and that means its time to pack on the pounds. Hell, you'll be more impressive come summertime walking down the beach with 5 or 10 lbs of new muscle than you would to stay lean year round. Now I'm not saying to go all out on cup cakes and turn into Tom Arnold, but you're going to have to put on some fat to gain muscle. This is tough for me, cause I love seeing my abs (as well as the chicas), but I plan to put on at least 15 pounds over the next 5 months (10 of which should be muscle).
The goal here is to get as many quality calories into you as possible. Eat at least 1 gram of protein for every pound of body weight (yeah, you're probably sick of hearing that now), and depending on your metabolism, 2-4 grams of carbs for every pound you weigh. I happen to have a fast metabolism, so I will be shooting for about 200 grams of protein and 600 grams of carbs. This will bring me to about 4500 calories per day. If you're tall and skinny (much like me) than chances are you're a hard gainer and you will need around 3-4 grams of carbs per pound. For all you short, chubby guys (no offense) 2-3 is probably more in your range.
Spread all these calories out over 5-6 meals per day. Make sure your largest one is after you work out. For me (right now I'm working) I eat a huge bowl of oatmeal, milk and some egg whites for breakfast, an MRP and an apple mid morning, 3 tuna sandwiches and a banana for lunch, another MRP and an apple before I workout. After I work out I take my creatine in some Gatorade, and then its suppertime. And at suppertime, I've taken Anthony's advice, and I'm eating like a man. Hell, I put Homer Simpson to shame. Tonight when I got back from the gym for example, I cooked up a 3/4 lb steak, 3 cups of pasta, a huge salad and some mushrooms in olive oil. If I can stomach it, I'll probably have a protein shake before bed. So far I've put on about 3 pounds in the last two weeks. Perfect.
The key here is food. From reading the message boards lately, there is too much emphasis put on supplements, and not enough on diet. Sure, supplements will help you out, but not if you don't eat enough. Take my word for it, if you're not gaining weight, don't go out and buy the first thing you see in an ad that says "so and so gained yada yada pounds while reducing body fat by 12%!" No, cause as long as you're not eating right, its not going to help. Try adding 25 grams of carbs to each meal. Then, when you do start gaining weight, go buy those supplements, you'll be much more pleased with your results.
Remember to build muscle you need to take in more calories than you burn off, so let's recap:
1 gram of protein for every pound of body weight
3-4 grams of carbs for every pound of body weight
Embrace your new spare tire (and bigger arms)
At least a gallon of water per day
Eat, Eat, Eat
Now, all you skinny guys out there, stop complaining and go pick up a fork.
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Eat For Anabolism: Pre- And Post-Workout Nutrition For Muscle Growth
How To Build Muscle Without Adding Fat
Arnold Schwarzenegger Blueprint Trainer: Mass Nutrition Overview