POST SUMMERTIME BULKING
Summer has come and gone and, for many, attention is turning to putting on a bit of weight and getting stronger. Weight gain can sometimes be over complicated with lots of broscience and claims to ‘get big quick’ being thrown at you. Indeed, for many, weight-gain can be as hard to achieve as weight-loss is for others. The good news when you look at the basics of gaining weight are that things are a lot easier than they first seemed.
NUTRITION IS PARAMOUNT
The absolute priority when attempting to gain weight is your nutrition. Without nutrition, the hours spent in the gym could be wasted. The food you put into your body when recovering, allows you to grow and develop more muscle mass. Below, we’ve outlined the main points you should consider when looking to gain muscle mass.
RAMP UP YOUR CALORIE INTAKE
Calories are the holy grail of weight gain. Ensuring you remain in a calorie surplus is vital and allows your body to promote muscle growth. The body requires energy to fuel muscle growth and having the added calories from sensible food choices provides the body with the required nutrients for muscle growth. When calculating how many calories you need to consume, you should calculate your basal metabolic rate (BMR) plus the amount of calories you expend each day. You should then ensure you consume approximately 500-1000 more calories each day (depending on how easy or hard you find it to gain weight).
CLEAN FOOD CHOICES IN ABUNDANCE
Food choices are an important factor when looking to gain weight. Ensuring you consume adequate macronutrients, protein, carbohydrates and fat will allow your body to have everything it needs for weight gain. You should look to obtain your macronutrients from ‘clean’ food choices and stay away from ‘junk food’, ‘fast food’ and processed food. The goal of weight gain or ‘bulking’ isn’t an excuse for poor food choices laden with saturated fat and non-existent micronutrient content.
MAKE SURE YOU’RE GETTING ENOUGH PROTEIN
Protein is perhaps one of the most important aspects of your diet. It is recommended to consume 2g of protein per kg of bodyweight each day in order to help promote protein synthesis. This provides a rich supply of amino acids which are responsible for stimulating protein synthesis and muscle growth. Ideal sources of protein include; beef, chicken, eggs, whey, casein and fish.
LOAD UP ON CARBOHYDRATES!
Carbohydrates are also an important macronutrient that should be part of your weight gain programme. Sources of both fast release and slow release carbohydrates can be utilised at different times of day to bring about muscle growth. Slow release carbohydrates should be consumed with meals throughout the day from sources such as rice, potato, oats and grains. However, around your workouts you should be consuming fast release carbohydrates. Both pre and post exercise are optimal times to consume fast release carbohydrates such as Maltodextrin, dextrose, waxy maize starch or Vitargo in order to promote an insulin spike. An insulin spike helps to shuttle nutrients such as protein, amino acids and carbohydrates to the muscle; promoting muscle growth and recovery.
DON’T BE AFRAID OF ‘GOOD FATS’
Fats are also important to keep as part of your diet. Fats are frequently ignored by those who are looking to add muscle mass as they are afraid of getting fat and adding fat mass rather than muscle mass. However keeping fats in your diet will actually help to promote lean muscle growth and help to keep body fat levels down. Fats are also a great way of ensuring you meet your daily calorie intake as fat provides the largest number of calories per gram. You should focus on getting fat from sources such as fish oils, nuts, nut butters, coconut oil and olive oil. Meal frequency is an important consideration. Eating every 2-3 hours will ensure that your body is not starved of calories and therefore will help to maintain consistent growth throughout the day. If you follow the advice above, but find that you’re not putting on weight the solution is simple: slowly increase calorie content. Following the structure outlined above, add 500 calories to your food intake each day and then re-weigh yourself in a couple of weeks. If you’ve still not gained weight, increase calorie intake again until your desired weight gain is achieved. Remain patient and consistent and you will reach your muscle mass goals.