The 'CAN'T MISS' - Mass Gaining Plan!
Gaining lean muscle mass is the passion and goal of nearly everyone who picks up a weight, joins a gym or reads MUSCLE & FITNESS. Beefing up through bodybuilding can speed up your metabolism and radically change the shape of your body. Yet while many people make progress, most fail to achieve significant increases in muscle mass because they lack a concrete and detailed nutritional plan to support muscle growth. Undefined goals are another reason many fumble and fail to achieve lasting results. If your goal is to build mass, your diet and training program must reflect that. My aim is to provide you with a fail-proof, systematic nutrition strategy to fuel high-intensity weight training and help you gain more quality mass than you ever thought possible.
The common thread in all mass-gaining plans is the demand for excess calories. Building muscle requires energy, and you must consume more energy, in the form of calories, than your body is accustomed to receiving. The quality and timing of those calories are just as crucial.
To determine the amount of calories you presently consume, add up all the calories you eat in seven days and divide by 7 to get your average daily caloric intake. This procedure takes into consideration two important variables. First, many people's caloric intake is inconsistent from day to day-you may eat 3,000 calories one day and 2,500 calories the next. If you've been maintaining your bodyweight, the average number of calories you eat daily could be considered your calorie maintenance level, and you must increase your intake to create a surplus and stimulate growth. The second variable is the concept of individuality: Many people who have similar physiques eat widely different caloric amounts.
According to '97 Arnold Classic Champion Flex Wheeler, "You just can't radically change your body by eating three or even four times a day." He's right. Breaking your energy consumption into 5-6 smaller meals is a proven method to increase nutrient absorption, enhance muscle-glycogen synthesis (carbs that are stored for energy), and aid muscle growth and recovery. Colin Graham, a competitive amateur bodybuilder from Maine, agrees: "I always had a hard time adding muscle until I increased my calorie consumption and started eating six meals every day instead of four. As a result, I gained 25 pounds in three years."
Since your goal is to gain mass, make sure your final meal of the day has enough carbohydrates and protein. It seems that the body can slip into a negative energy balance as you sleep, which could decrease muscle-glycogen stores. Then your body might use more protein as fuel, some of which may come at the expense of your hard-earned muscle. Don't be afraid to eat that last meal within an hour of going to bed. Types of Calories Are Important Besides total caloric intake, you must consider the types of calories you consume. You can't simply eat more food and expect to get bigger; taking in too much refined sugar and fat and not enough protein could add more bodyfat than muscle. I recommend a low-fat diet that should supply approximately 15% of calories from dietary fat. Most of this fat will come as a fraction of your protein foods like chicken, lean cuts of red meat and turkey. (Even well-trimmed meat will contain some fat.) The rest is found in smaller amounts in complex carbs like rice, pasta, potatoes and whole-grain breads and cereals.
Fat - Essential fatty acids - which must be obtained from your diet since the body can't produce them - may help you add lean mass. Omega-6 fatty acids found in vegetable oils and omega-3 fatty acids found in cold-water fish, canola oil and flaxseed oil contribute to a complex web of biochemical reactions that produce hormonelike substances called prostaglandins. They influence most biochemical processes in the body and preserve muscle glutamine, an amino acid that supports the immune system and muscle growth.' Besides making the fat-burning and protein-building hormone called growth hormone,2 prostaglandins make muscle more sensitive to the anabolic effects of insulin, the body's primary nutrient-transport hormone. Bottom line: Avoid extra (but not all) fat. Eat fish three times a week and scramble your morning egg whites in 2 teaspoons of canola oil.
A recent upsurge in the popularity of high-fat diets seems to dismiss the evidence that most contain large amounts of saturated fat. As you shun extra fat in your diet, make sure you avoid saturated fat - it's solid at room temperature and is found in butter and fatty cuts of red meat and pork. Saturated fats promote the formation of a group of prostaglandins known as E2, which may depress the immune system and offset the beneficial effects of omega-3s.
Protein - Although essential fatty acids can influence muscle growth, amino acids from protein serve as your muscles' actual building blocks. Amino acids derived from protein foods may increase protein synthesis and prevent muscle breakdown. Research confirms that building muscle requires plenty of protein! Nearly four decades of research and anecdotal reports paint a clear picture: If you don't eat the right amount of protein, you won't add significant mass. Consume about 1 1/4grams of protein per pound of bodyweight each day, and include milk products, egg whites or protein drinks in three of your six daily meals. Besides total protein, the type of protein you consume may also affect your weight-gain success. In general, easy-to-absorb proteins are best. These include nonfat dairy products, egg whites and protein powders. Tissue proteins, like poultry, fish and meat, are good, too, but it's a bit more difficult for the body to break them down and absorb their amino acids.
Carbohydrates - The main fuel source for bodybuilding workouts. Protein often gets more attention than carbs, but don't let that fool you - carbohydrates form the platform upon which the rest of your diet relies. Carbs are basically chains of sugar molecules of various lengths; the shorter ones are called simple and the longer ones are called complex. Your body can store carbs in muscle or the liver in the form of glycogen.
In causing the secretion of insulin, carbohydrates can also increase the uptake of amino acids into muscle and enhance protein synthesis.3 This insulin release is correlated with the quantity of carbohydrates you ingest, so consuming 400 grams of carbohydrate a day will produce a greater insulin release than half that amount. Most top bodybuilders eat large quantities of carbohydrate, mostly in the form of complex carbs. Besides stimulating insulin, a moderately highcarb diet is better at replenishing muscle and liver glycogen stores after exhaustive exercise than a low-carb diet.'
- Postworkout Meal Is Crucial
The time of day when you eat carbohydrate and protein is a factor to consider if you want to maximize muscle growth. The sugar that powers your training, in the form of muscle glycogen, must be "paid back," and protein must be available to supply your body with the building blocks it needs to repair muscle damage. A proper postworkout meal can replenish those energy stores and enhance amino-acid absorption.
As muscle-glycogen stores fall during exercise, the body calls upon protein, in the form of branched-chain amino acids (from dietary protein or muscle tissue), as a backup fuel source. The breakdown of protein to scavenge its amino acids is facilitated by a stress hormone called cortisol. High insulin levels resulting from a proper postworkout carb meal can suppress cortisol levels and may mitigate some of its effects.
Consume about 25% of your daily carbohydrate intake after training. A 160-pound person who eats 500 grams of carbs a day should eat 125 grams in his postworkout meal within 1-2 hours after training. A person who eats 180 grams of protein a day should eat six nearly equal 30-gram servings per meal and throw in another 10 grams after training for good measure Whey protein powders, which are higher in branched-chain amino acids, are an ideal postworkout protein source.
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