Have you ever wondered what it was like to add a lot of mass to your body at once, but not just any mass but pure, lean muscle? You’ve probably thought about there being some type of secret diet or workout schedule that only pros share amongst themselves, one that you need to figure out if you want to be big like them.
Well, I hate to break it to you, there isn’t any such secret, but there are some ways to guarantee improvement when it comes to your mass gains without using magic potions or secret routines. All you need to do is eat right and workout right, but you will need to do both a lot, and hard!
Know that even if there aren’t any “secrets” to making yourself bigger, there are some techniques that you can utilize to boost your mass gains as far as they’ll go. Today we’re going to look at 10 of them, and if you want to put on mass, you should really consider living by them as much as you can. Bodybuilding is something you do for life, not as a side activity, so don’t expect to put on mass after only a short time of dedication and hard work.
Instead, you’re going to have to eat a lot of the right stuff at the right time and work out a lot as well! Can’t do one without the other, and if you stop doing them both, you’ve given up on your quest for more mass. This means that once you start, you do not quit under any circumstances – 24/7, 365 is your motto from the first day onwards. All you have to do is be disciplined and keep the thought that eating is bodybuilding in your mind.
Even though we can’t judge for everyone with a general statement, you will be able to gain somewhere around five pounds per month with these 10 tips. If you only want to put on five pounds, follow the plan for a month, if you want to build 10 pounds of lean muscle, follow it for two months etc. It grows linearly until you get to extreme numbers. So, without further ado, here is how you should be eating for muscle mass.
The 10 Rules Of Eating For Mass
1. Calories Matter – Count Them
If you want to put on a lot of weight, you will need to count your calories with vigor never before seen in your dieting plan. It doesn’t matter what sort of macronutrient you’re ingesting – protein, fat or carbs all have calories and you need to count them. These calories provide a way for your body to function – they are the fuel that lets you perform all kinds of physical and psychological function.
They are the way your body repairs itself, digests food, regulates your temperature and even keeps your brain running! If you want to be a bodybuilder you need to eat more – professional bodybuilders that train at least once a day for an hour, need 19-20 calories for every pound of bodyweight to simply maintain their muscles! When they want to grow, they eat two or three extra calories per pound of bodyweight, rounding up to 21-23 calories. This is all on training days – on rest days, they eat 16-18 calories for every pound of bodyweight just to maintain. If you do this, you’ll be able to make sure that you only build muscle, not fat.
2. Carbohydrates Matter – Eat Them!
Carbs are the epitome of putting on weight, so you will need to eat them in varying quantities. They will boost your insulin production, and insulin is an anabolic hormone so that goes in your favor! Also, they will stockpile glycogen in your muscles, which is basically the stored form of carbohydrates. Glycogen will keep your muscles nice and big, but it will also pull water towards the muscle cells which will make them become even fuller because, well, they’ll be full of water.
Also, glycogen is an indicator to your body – it tells it when it’s ready to make more muscles. When your muscles are packed full of glycogen, your body will grow because it will have the energy to do so without breaking down any muscle tissue, which it does when you’re not having a carb day and your glycogen levels are low. On training days, you will need to eat about 2.5 grams of carbohydrates for every pound of bodyweight. On rest days, don’t eat so many carbs. Instead, cut your intake in half to 1-1.25 grams of carbs for every pound of bodyweight. Remember, you want to pick the slow-digesting carbs such as whole-wheat bread, yams, oatmeal etc.
Here is a complete guide on how to use carbs for muscle building : The Carbs Guide for Building Muscle and Losing Fat
3. Fat Matters – Get Some!
I’m not saying you should get fat. I’m saying you should improve your fat intake while you’re on your mass quest. People who eat diets with more fat in them have higher testosterone levels, and testosterone is one of the most important anabolic hormones that effectively boosts muscle growth. Get the healthy fats instead of the unhealthy ones. These are found in walnuts, olive oil, salmon and peanut butter and they’ll help your joints recover.
If you’re training with increased intensity and heavier weights, your joints will suffer but you need more fat in your system to make them recuperate. On training days, eat as much as 25% of all of your calories in fat, but when you’re recovering, up that number to 35 to 40 percent.
4. Protein Matters – Pound It!
While this rule is fourth on this list, it isn’t fourth in importance, but you need to know how important both fat and carbohydrates are before we get to the protein. If you’re putting on mass, up your protein intake to 1.5 grams of the stuff for every pound of bodyweight, on training days.
When you’re resting, eat 1 grams of it on the same principle. Know that eating protein is key for packing on lean muscle, and you won’t be able to do it without protein for one simple reason – it builds muscle. Out of the three macronutrients which are fats, carbs and protein, only the latest makes your muscles grow.
You can find it in eggs, chicken, beef, dairy products and fish, but you can also find it in protein powder when you’re all full from eating. Don’t be shy to take whey and casein shakes when you don’t have enough time to cook or you’re in a hurry – they’re great protein sources!
5. Rest Matters – Manage It!
On rest days usually have a lower intake of food, which means that your body requires less to function like you want it to function. It requires about two to three fewer calories per pound of bodyweight, and you need to cut your carbohydrates in half as well. Even your protein intake will decrease since you’re not drinking those shakes before and after your training session.
However, you want to keep track of your calories and carb intake since your body needs less energy when it isn’t active. It’s really simple – if you eat the same amount of carbohydrates and calories on days when you don’t exercise, you will put on muscle, no doubt – but you’ll also put on some fat. You will need to boost your fat intake on days when you’re not training though, just so that your body won’t compensate for the reduced calories with calories of its own. If you eat some more healthy fats, you’ll prevent fattening up but your joints will also recuperate far better!
6. Sleeping Matters – Don’t Overdo It!
When you open your eyes after sleeping, you need to know that your body has left the anabolic state long ago and is now in full-on catabolism. This means that it is consuming you inside out, for energy by dissolving the protein in your muscles and making it into fuel for its functions. If you want to stop this, and you do, put some food in your belly as soon as possible. When you get up, go right to the kitchen – no time for anything else. When you get there, get the fastest-digesting carbohydrates and protein you can get your hands on. This means that you will need some whey protein isolate or hydrolysate, which digests even more quickly. You will put protein in your body, which will in turn start using it for fuel instead of breaking down your muscles.
Furthermore, the amino acids in the protein that aren’t used up will go straight to your muscles and rebuild what your body disintegrated the previous night, returning you to anabolism. As far as carbohydrates go, you will need some waxy maize starch. This thing digests with a speed that makes sugar look like a grandma at the Olympics, and it’s extremely important to eat it just to stop the catabolic process that your body is going through. Your liver glycogen will be depleted when you wake up, which means that the starch will immediately tell your system to stop eating itself. This is the reason we eat two breakfasts – one when you wake up in liquid form and one consisting of whole foods, half an hour to an hour later.
7. Before and After Workout Shakes Matter – Switch Them Up!
Half an hour before you start training, you need to insert some rapidly digesting protein in your system. Whey does this job perfectly. There is actual credible scientific research that suggests that when you take whey or other quickly-digesting protein before a workout, you maximize your protein synthesis process.
Also, whey has some peptides which are little pieces of protein, that increase the blood flow to your muscle tissue, which will in turn boost the nutrient and hormone delivery to your muscle tissue while you workout, and it will also increase your muscle pump! Think about adding soy to your pre-workout shake as well. It’s a fast digesting protein isolate, but the research says that the genistein in it, which is a soy phytoestrogen, will boost your nitric oxide levels. Also, it has a lot of arginine which is awesome for increasing blood flow to your muscles while working out.
After training, you need some whey protein. Research studies have suggested that when you take whey protein right after a workout, you get an incredible boost in protein synthesis in your muscles, which means they’re growing! It makes a nice spike in your insulin levels which helps you continue the improved protein synthesis rate, but it also keeps your cortisol levels low. Cortisol, a catabolic agent, goes head to head with testosterone, an anabolic agent, but it also makes your body break down more muscle tissue! If you keep cortisol low, you will be in the anabolic state for less of the time, and you’ll recuperate from training and improve your muscle growth as well.
Also, you might want to throw some casein protein in your after-training whey shake. Whey is fast and casein is incredibly slow, but it makes protein synthesis faster after workouts. There is a research study from Baylor University in Waco, Texas who revealed that trained lifters who took whey and casein for 10 weeks as a post-workout shake put on a lot more lean muscle than those who took the shake without the casein.
8. Timing Is Important – Watch It!
For most meals, consider eating carbohydrates that won’t burn up immediately. This includes the ones you eat in your pre-workout meal. Research studies have demonstrated that when people eat carbs that digest more slowly, they aren’t tired out so quickly, have more energy and they burn a lot more fat while training, while feeling far less hungry throughout the day. Within half an hour before and after your training session, eat some slow-burning carbs like fruit, whole grain bread or oatmeal, and wash it down with your protein shake!
On the other hand, when you eat after training you need fast carbs like that waxy maize starch which will drive your insulin up the wall. In turn, the insulin will push the carbs you’ve been eating in your muscles and help store them as glycogen until your next workout. Insulin makes your amino acids get into your muscle tissue so that they can build more muscle protein and in turn, muscle mass, but it also has a role in pushing creatine towards the muscles as well. Finally, insulin boosts the muscle protein synthesis process which is muscle growth itself. Keep your insulin levels in check for health reasons, but after a heavy workout, you need an insulin spike.
9. Fasting Is Tricky – Control It!
Fasting is sleeping for the bodybuilder’s body. This is the time when you have no food going through your digestive system and because of that, your body takes the protein in your muscles and tries to supply itself with it for energy. If you take a slow-digesting shake with casein or cottage cheese and some healthy fats like walnuts, you can delay the catabolic effect for a few hours, which means the first few hours of sleep won’t be catabolic!
All you need to do is slow down your digestion enough to make it work harder and longer, which will make more amino acids available to your body for a longer time, meaning it will remain anabolic for longer. If you take a protein shake with jut some micellar casein, it might take up to seven hours to completely digest, which is great for you because your body will have a nice steady flow of amino acids for most of your sleeping period, which will help you keep your muscle!
You might be interested: 3 Big Reasons You Should Try a Fasting Diet
10. Supplements Are Useful – Use Them!
By now you’re probably using some whey protein, casein or soy protein, waxy maize starch and whatnot, but there is so much more you could be doing to fine-tune your body and make it even more prone to muscle growth! Your body is a machine which can be regulated even better with some extra chemicals and don’t worry – most of the stuff that’s being sold is very safe to consume even though it has been made in a factory. They test these things out and approve them before sale. Here are some of the supplements you might want to use.
- Branched Chain Amino Acids (BCAAs). These are leucine, isoleucine and valine, which are also the three most important amino acids when it comes to maintaining and building muscle tissue. Leucine is the most important because as research suggests, it can get the whole muscle building process started by itself! You should still take all three BCAA’s together since their combined effects are far better! These effects include increased energy, muscle growth, reduced cortisol levels which is great because cortisol inhibits your muscle growth and the effects of testosterone, as well as a lower risk of DOMS, or delayed onset muscle soreness. Eat five to ten grams of BCAAs with your first breakfast (just throw them in your protein shake!), same amount in your pre-workout and of course your post-workout shake.
- Creatine. By far one of the most useful supplements out there, creatine is really simple to use and will help you gain 10 pounds or more, consisting of pure lean muscle. Also, it’ll make you stronger by a minimum of 10% in the gym, so take three to five grams of it in your shakes before and after training.
- Beta-Alanine. Your body uses beta-alanine, which is an amino acid, to combine it with histidine to create carnosine. When your muscles have a lot of carnosine, research says that they are stronger and endure more stress. This means that people taking beta-alanine become much stronger, making them able to lift more and heavier weights, which will make them grow more muscle. When people who have trained before start taking beta-alanine along with creatine, they lose some bodyfat and gain a lot of muscle when compared to the people only taking creatine. Take a gram to two of beta-alanine or carnosine when you drink your shakes before and after training.
- Carnitine. This amazing stuff was widely considered a fat-loss supplement, but now we know the real truth – it’s an anabolic supplement! It helps your muscles grow in a number of ways, like boosting testosterone after working out and increasing the number of testosterone receptors in your muscle cells. This makes your body able to handle more muscle growth. Also, carnitine has been proven to boost the insulin-like growth factor-L which boosts muscle growth. Also, it can improve the flow of your blood which means it will give you the same benefits as a NO booster. I suggest you ingest one to three grams of carnitine with your first breakfast (throw it in your protein shake!), as well as the same amount in your shakes before and after working out.