“…I go to the gym regularly and I train hard, but I am not getting any bigger… Why…?”I get asked this question A LOT by both guys and gals who are desperately trying to put some solid muscle mass on their bones.Your diet is one of the most critical aspects of gaining muscular bodyweight. You can have your training routine down pat, but if your diet doesn’t meet your nutritional needs you will NOT get bigger, regardless of how hard you train in the gym.
Most people who call themselves “hard gainers” are usually just under eaters. A lot of folks will skip breakfast, have a small lunch or snack during the day, then pig out and stuff themselves at dinner and think that they are eating a lot.
But to gain size you need to eat every 2-3 hours in order to provide your body with a steady supply of nutrients from which to grow from. If you let yourself go 4 hours of more without eating then you are putting your body into a catabolic state and losing precious muscle tissue.
There are many different formulas you can use to determine how many calories you need to eat each day. But the quickest and easiest way to guesstimate how much you should be eating is to simply take your total current body weight and multiply it by the following:
* For Fat loss = eat 12 calories per pound of bodyweight
* For Maintenance = eat 15 calories per pound of bodyweight
* For Weight Gain = eat 19 calories per pound of bodyweight
This is a very easy way to estimate caloric needs. However, there are obvious drawbacks to this method because it doesn’t take into account your activity levels or body composition. But it will put you in the ballpark and you can adjust your caloric intake up or down as needed based on your progress.
A good nutrient break down for gaining muscular bodyweight is 35% protein, 45% carbohydrates, and 20% fat.
Note: each gram of protein has 4 calories, each gram of carbohydrate has 4 calories, and each gram of fat has 9 calories.
The whole idea of eating 6 well balanced meals per day is by no means a new concept. Most of the coaching students that I work with usually already have a good idea of how they should be eating. But their main excuse is they don’t have the time to eat properly. So below I’ve outlined a few time saving eating tips that you can use to help make eating a healthy muscle building diet simple and easy.
When you cook your food, cook up large quantities so you’ll have left overs. This saves time and makes it easier to have quick nutritious meals on hand. I’ll often grill several steaks at a time, cook several chicken breasts at a time, bake several potatoes at a time, cook up a large pot of rice, etc.A George Foreman grill (or similar type of grill) is awesome for fast cooking. Because you are cooking food from the top and the bottom the cooking time is literally cut in half!
A frozen chicken breast can be cooked and ready to eat in just 10 minutes. While you are eating your breakfast each morning you could have your chicken breasts cooked on the grill for meals later in the day.
Potatoes, yams, etc. can be cooked within 10 minutes in the microwave.
Bags of pre-made salad, spinach, bags of chopped frozen veggies, etc. are a quick way to add healthy veggies to your diet. Fresh fruit like bananas, apples, oranges, etc. are easy to pack with lunches.
An easy to make breakfast favorite of mine; is to cook up some instant oatmeal, stir in a couple scoops of vanilla protein powder, add some apple sauce, top with a dash of cinnamon and some low calorie sweetener. Presto, you’ll have yourself a tasty nutritious breakfast ready to eat in about 5 minutes.
A fast and healthy lunch would be to pack a grilled chicken breast and baked potatoe in a small Tupperware container. Toss in some pre-washed salad veggies, take a piece of fruit, and you’re all set.
Most people usually do not have much of a problem eating well for dinner as this is typically the biggest meal of the day for the average person. Just make sure to have generous portions of protein foods like beef, chicken, turkey, fish, etc. Wholesome complex carbohydrates such as potatoes, yams, brown rice, whole wheat pasta, etc. And also include some green veggies like a garden salad, steamed, or stir fried veggies.
For in between meal snacks and times when you can’t sit down to the table for a formal meal you can still keep a steady supply of protein and nutrients in your system with quick foods like; protein / meal replacement bars, protein / meal replacement drinks, beef jerky, mixed nuts, fresh fruit, cottage cheese, etc.
Now while these tips here can certainly help put you on the right track to building the big athletic muscular physique that you desire, there is still a lot more that goes into proper muscle building nutrition.
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About the Author:
I got started working out when I was 12 years old. In 1990 my dad gaveme a home gym for Christmas, it was a York 2001 machine and a York barbelland dumbbell set. From that point on I was hooked on working out. Duringhigh school I worked out consistently and I would read every bodybuildingand fitness magazine that I could get my hands on. I’d get bodybuildingand exercise books from the library. I would record every bodybuildingcontest that was on television and watch them over and over again.I was obsessed with learning as much about bodybuilding, exercise andnutrition as I could. While in my last year of high school I enteredmy first Bodybuilding contest, The 1995 Newfoundland Provincials,I was 17 years old at the time. Since then I have competed almostevery year in bodybuilding competitions.