One of the most common goals of male trainees is to gain weight. Let’s be clear on one thing before I get into the nutrition basics of creating new muscle. Bulking up or gaining weight does not equal new muscle! Read that again! Too many people get into the bulking up phase, thinking that the weight they are gaining is new muscle. Unless you are a teenager, your body does not want to change! The body will strive to maintain homeostasis. Your body does not like things that cause it to have a high energy cost (i.e.-new muscle). When I was competing in bodybuilding, I knew that if I could come in with 1-3 pounds of new muscle, I would look like a completely different bodybuilder and yes, this did happen to me a few times. You need to stop playing the quantitative game when it comes to the weight scale, IT’S JUST A NUMBER!
If you are truly trying to bulk up, a simple method to do this is to take your body weight and multiply it by 18-20. This should be your daily intake of calories. So if you weigh 200 pounds, you should aim to get in 3,600 to 4,000 calories per day. These calories should come from nutritious sources such as lean meats, starchy carbs and fruits. Yes, it really is that simple. You don’t need to buy the latest version of SUPER MASS 6000 or whatever the latest craze is. And no, you don’t need 500 grams of protein per day. Try to match your body weight in pounds with one gram of protein per pound.
Again, using the above example (200 pound trainee would need about 200 grams of protein). If you are taking in an adequate amount of the protein sparing nutrients (carbs and fats), then protein will be left to do its job of building new tissue. I would recommend this same 200 pound trainee take in 600 grams of carbohydrate and the remainder (88g) would come from fat in the diet. Now, this seems like an awful lot and truthfully it is. Again, you need to coerce the body into change; you can’t rush it or force it.
The next logical question would be, “How do you do that?” Well you would need to make sure that you were training with a very high intensity (a whole book in itself could be written about this and myths surrounding what most people think is intense) and you would need to create a ‘needs state’ in your body. This could be done by dieting for say two weeks and then increasing the calories to the above mentioned for a period of two weeks. You would be able to keep your body fat levels in check while gaining quality weight. The two weeks of dieting would increase appetite (hormonal environment going on inside the body would change) and more enzymes would be primed to utilize all those nutrients in the two weeks of a higher phase of calories. This seems counterintuitive to most people out there, but you have to trust me on this.
Muscle Building Foods – Protein
- Chicken Breast (Boneless, Skinless)
- Extra Lean Ground Beef
- Top Round Steak
- Turkey Breast (Boneless, Skinless)
- Egg Whites
Muscle Building Foods – Carbs
- Brown Rice
- Oatmeal (Old Fashioned)
- Whole Grain Wheat Bread
- Whole Wheat Pasta
Muscle Building Foods – Fats
- Extra Virgin Olive Oil
- Nuts (Almonds & Walnuts)
- Natural Peanut Butter (no sugar added)
- Flaxseed and Flaxseed Oil
- Macadamia Nut Oil
Muscle gain can and should take years, not months. Yes, those monthly improvements will add up, but don’t come and tell me that you gained 10 pounds of muscle this past month. The last thing I would like to point out is don’t view your quest for muscle in such a short window. The pre and post-workout ‘windows’ are not nearly as important as you are lead to believe by clever marketing. I dieted for shows and continue to diet allowing my workouts to fall where they may in the day without worrying about spiking my insulin and taking X amount of this and 200 grams of dextrose and so on and so forth. Think long-term, lay one brick at a time and before you know it, you will have a sturdy house (body) to be proud of.