I changed up my calories and increased them to around 3,000 calories a day. My only concern is about whey protein. I want to pack on a lot of muscle and get bigger while keeping my body fat percentage under 10%. I stopped doing drop sets and I changed my workouts to 3 sets per exercise and 6-8 reps to overload my muscles and gain size. Will drinking 2 whey protein shakes a day bulk me up even more or will it just sustain my current physique? Should I be drinking more shakes than this to pack on size? Also, are there any specific foods I should eat to replace the protein shakes? I’m just a little confused on whether I should drink protein shakes or focus more on eating whole foods instead of using supplements.
There is a common dilemma in the minds of people who want to gain muscle and get bigger. Are supplements, like whey protein shakes, actually better than eating real food for building muscle. This is a dilemma that is not only in the minds of beginners, but also on the minds of people who have been weight training for years and who have a substantial amount of knowledge about nutrition.
One of the main problems is that some people think that whey protein shakes are magic powders that instantly build muscle mass. They see the massive muscular guys in the magazines who are promoting these protein supplements and they think that if they just chug down a few shakes a day they will get huge and ripped also. It’s just not as easy as that!
Let’s start with the basics. The most fundamental part of building muscle is your diet. Yes, you read that right. The food you eat is what makes you build muscle whether you believe it or not. The thing is that your body can build muscle by just eating lots of nutrient dense whole foods and lots of intense resistance training. You really don’t need any nutritional supplements to make great gains.
You can train super hard but the first thing you need to get right is your diet because if you’re not providing your body with the calories and macronutrients it needs to repair and grow, you will only see minimal results. To put it plain and simple, if you don’t have a good diet and eat a lot of clean food, it will be very hard for you to build quality muscle even if you train like a monster. And by “diet” I don’t mean the kind of diet that people use to lose weight. When people read or hear the word “diet” they think it’s about weight loss and calorie restriction. The word “diet” I’m talking about is your overall eating habits and nutritional program which needs to be optimized in order to provide the best fuel to your muscles.
In order for you to create a solid diet plan to gain muscle and pack on size to your existing physique, you need to know your body’s specific needs. You need to know how many calories you have to consume each day and you also need to know the amount of protein you should consume. For the average guy who wants to make gains, the calculation to figure out your calorie needs is:
- Body weight in pounds x 18 = the amount of calories per day
For protein, you should eat anywhere from 1 to 2 grams of protein per pound of body weight each day. Take this daily total and divide it up between 5-6 meals throughout the day, so you have a constant flow of protein to your muscles.
Although real whole foods are the main source of nutrients you should be focusing on, protein supplements do have their benefits and whey protein shakes can be really helpful in certain situations. They can help you accelerate your muscle gains by offering a super quick and convenient way to get your total requirement of protein each day. Sometimes its just very difficult to cook up a bodybuilding meal and time is always limited with a busy schedule. This is when mixing a few scoops of whey protein powder in a blender along with some fresh fruit can provide a protein packed shake that you can make in a matter of minutes!
Whey protein shakes are also super important at certain times during the day, like right after your weight training workouts. Whole foods take time to digest and when you’re finished training, you want a super fast acting source of protein to get quickly to your muscles to make sure they get what they need to fully recover and repair for optimum growth. Whey protein is one of the fastest sources of protein available and is a great supplement to include in your diet for post-workout nutrition.
To answer your initial question, drinking 2 protein shakes a day is not going to bulk you up like you might think. Adding mass is more related to your overall calorie level being consumed, the intensity of your workouts and your recovery methods. Two whey protein shakes a day should be just fine for you but make sure you take them at the best times during the day which include immediately after your workouts and also in the morning for a fast acting protein packed breakfast shake to get your body out of a catabolic state (breaking down) which occurs while you’re sleeping (fasting for hours). If you don’t want to drink a shake for breakfast, a great tip is to mix 1-2 scoops of your favorite whey protein powder with 1 cup of oatmeal and 1-2 tablespoons of flaxseed oil. This is a nutrient blast breakfast with muscle building protein, energy loaded clean carbs and healthy omega-3 fatty acids to power you through the day!