I have always been really lean with a very high metabolism. As a result, I have had an extremely hard time gaining weight and packing on muscle. I am trying to get to 175 pounds and I currently weigh only 150 pounds. I have looked into adding weight gainer supplements to help me build muscle and gain weight but I’m not really sure which supplements are the best, if any. I’m also wondering if its better to mainly focus on eating real whole foods versus taking supplements. Is this possible and which plan of action would you suggest for my situation?
As someone who has a very lean “hardgainers” physique, a frustrating issue you have to deal with is how to get bigger and pack on size. Weight training goes a long way in helping you get bigger but no amount of lifting will help you attain substantial results in overall muscle mass if your nutrition is not 100% spot-on. You simply need to eat big, to get big! Being aware of the important role nutrition plays, there is a common debate regarding eating real food versus taking weight gainer supplements as the best course of action for adding size. Both have their advantages and disadvantages, so let’s dig in and check out both options.
Real food has a lot of benefits. For the health conscious individual that has the time to cook different foods and prepare custom meals, the best choice is to stick with real whole foods as your primary source of nutrients. For starters, real food is more wholesome. Eating nutrient dense whole food provides benefits that you just don’t get from drinking an artificial weight gainer supplement.
When you eat real food, your body receives a 100% natural source of vitamins, minerals and other important nutrients which are critical for recovery and muscle growth. Your body is able to digest real food more efficiently and digestion is important for optimally assimilating the proper nutrients to support growth. Whole foods which are obtained directly from nature, have no additives that might compromise the process of digestion.
When shopping at local farmers markets and bulk grocery stores, buying real food can actually be less expensive compared to some expensive weight gainer supplements which are heavily promoted in bodybuilding magazines and vitamin stores. The cost factor is important when you are on a high calorie diet and need a steady flow of nutrients throughout the day. Eating a high protein and carbohydrate meal every 2.5 to 3 hours is critical for building muscle mass.
Many weight gainer supplements on the market will help you gain weight faster since they are loaded with cheap sugars and fat. However, you need to make sure that the weight you’re gaining is actually lean muscle tissue and not useless body fat. Anyone can eat a ton of junk food and get fat, but your main concern is to pack on quality muscle mass. Since you have a very fast metabolism, it’s extremely important to choose the highest octane foods to fuel your body and provide the energy you need for intense workouts.
The biggest advantage about weight gainer supplements is that they offer a super convenient way to flood your muscles with lots of calories and very little effort. Just mix a couple scoops of powder into a shaker bottle, add some milk or juice and you’re all set with a major supply of calories. You can choose to take a weight gainer shake that provides as much as 5,000 calories per serving or you can eat multiple meals to meet this calorie threshold. If you don’t have the time to cook food and prepare several meals everyday, then a quality weight gainer supplement might be your best bet. Just makes sure to read the labels and choose the product with the best ingredients that provides quality nutrients versus just choosing a cheap, high calorie product jam-packed with tons of inexpensive sugar and fat. Make sure to feed your body the best source of nutrition, whether it comes from whole foods or nutritional supplements. If you get confused with all of the products on the market, ask the salesperson at your local vitamin store and ask them for additional information and recommendations.
Real food and weight gainer supplements have their own pros and cons. If you react negatively to the preservatives found in supplements, you might want to stick to real food. Nevertheless, if you have the appetite of a bird, you might want to include some weight gainer supplements to your diet regimen and drink them between meals to give you an extra boost of calories.
Eating to gain weight takes time and effort, so be patient. You may not have the appetite to eat 6-7 meals a day and this is where supplements will come in handy. Use supplements to do exactly that, “supplement” your diet. Use supplements as insurance to help you meet your high caloric requirements each day.
Overall, I highly recommend focusing on real food as your primary source of calories. Its takes time to condition your body and appetite to handle eating every 2.5 to 3 hours during the day. A great way to easily increase your calories is to focus on eating healthy fats like nuts, olive oil, avocados and natural peanut butter. Since fat contains over 2 times the calories per gram than protein and carbs, it’s very easy to increase your calories by including these high fat snacks during the day. For nuts, stick with almonds and walnuts since these are the healthiest. Pick up a big 2-3 pound bag of nuts and put it in your car or at your work desk and snack on several handfuls during the day. Peanut butter is another super tasty snack to increase your calorie consumption quickly. Make sure to get the all natural kind with no added sugars. Eat it right out of the can or put it on some whole wheat bread or apples for a great snack. You can easily add another 1,000-2,000 calories a day by increasing your healthy fat consumption and the more nutrient dense calories you consume, the better chance you will have to ignite muscle growth and get huge!