As your goals are met, it will be the weight gain diets that you follow that deserve the majority of the credit. Bodybuilders and athletes who have gained significant muscle mass typically place the importance of their diets at 75 percent or more responsible for their success.
The True Secret of Mass Building?
It’s All About The Diet
Any weight training you do, any supplements you buy, will be a waste until you are able to effectively feed the body. You simply can’t put on weight until you consistently supply the body with calories in excess of what it uses for energy concerns.
Weight Gain Diet – A diet in which total calorie intake exceeds the body’s energy demands.
When you take in more calories than you expend, the caloric surplus is used to build tissue. This can be fat tissue or muscle tissue. In the absence of medical conditions, this happens every time.
It just doesn’t get
any more complicated than that.
The goal, however, should not be to gain just “any weight.” The goal should be healthy weight gain – lean muscle weight gain.
Whether you want to call it a weight gain diet, muscle building diet, bodybuilding diet, mass building diet, weight training diet, weightlifting diet or just your “get bigger diet,” if your goals include adding muscle mass you absolutely must supply the body with the materials it needs to get the job done.
How Much Should You Eat?
There are a couple of ways to go about determining how much you need to eat to start gaining weight.
The first way is to track your calories for a couple of weeks. Write down everything you put into your mouth for that time period and then average out the total calories you’ve consumed to get a daily amount.
From there, add 300-500 calories to your daily caloric intake. If after a couple more weeks you see no improvement, add another 300-500 calories. Continue this until you start to gain.
You can also use a basic bodyweight formula to determine the likely point where you will begin to gain…
(18-20)(Bodyweight in pounds) = Daily Caloric Intake
You can learn more about finding a starting point for your weight gain diets on this page – Diet To Gain Weight: How Much and What To Eat.
Remember… There is no absolute formula to determine the exact amount of calories you’ll need to take in to experience weight and muscle gain. This number will differ for everyone based on factors including metabolism and activity level.
If you aren’t gaining weight, you aren’t eating enough. Keep upping your caloric intake until you see results.
The Best Food To Gain Weight
While the amount of calories you take in will be responsible for deciding whether or not you gain weight, it will be the types of calories you take in, as well as when you take in these calories, that decide whether this weight materializes as the muscle you desire or the body fat that you don’t.
Working towards getting the ideal representation of each of the major macronutrients – protein, carbohydrates and fat – into your diet will go a long way to insuring you successfully build muscle.
The suggested ratios are as follows…
|Macronutrients||% of Weight Gain Diet|
(1-2 grams per lb. of bodyweight)
|Water||8 oz. for every 10-12.5 lbs.
To understand more about these macronutrients and the respective roles they will play in helping you bulk up, visit their linked pages.
To learn how to find an appropriate ratio for you and how to incorporate it into your weight gain diet, revisit the aforementioned Diet to Gain Weight page.
How And When To Eat
Another technique that can be used to effectively help the body build more muscle is to alter how and when you eat.
Eating five or six meals a day instead of the traditional “big three” can help the body stay in an anabolic state (building tissue). It can also discourage excessive body fat gains. To learn more about how and why eating frequent meals can be advantageous, check out this article… Building Muscle With Six Meals A Day.
It is also important to remember that there are specific times when the body is most in need of quality nutrition. When you wake up in the morning, the body has gone 8+ hours without being fueled. At this point it has likely entered a catabolic state (breaking down tissue to use for energy). It is important to immediately eat a quality meal upon waking to re-enter an anabolic state as soon as possible.
Paying strict attention to your Pre and Post-Workout Nutrition can provide big benefits as well. Making sure the body has the nutrition it needs in these times is, again, important to keeping your body in an anabolic state.
Breaking Down The Foods You Eat
Two foods that are typically associated with muscle building and bodybuilding are chicken and tuna. The reason bodybuilders have such a fondness for these foods is because they have very desirable macronutrient breakdowns – Both are high in protein and low in carbs and saturated fat.
Diets designed for muscle growth call for more protein than the normal diet (a minimum of 1 gram per pound of bodyweight is the typical recommendation). It can be a challenge to find foods that allow you to successfully attain these levels while not forcing too much of the unwanted stuff on you (excessive carbs, saturated fat).
How do you know the nutrition breakdown of the foods you eat? There are free food databases you can access on the internet. You can access one directly from this site and find links to others on the Bodybuilding Diet Nutrition Resources page.
Important Note on the “Big Picture”
While it is certainly advantageous to set your dietary goals at hitting your prescribed macronutrient ratio, it is important not to lose sight of the big picture.
The “big picture” is that you absolutely must consistently hit your daily caloric goal if you expect to gain mass. Concentrate first and foremost on hitting this goal.
Dietary Supplements in the Weight Gain Diet
Dietary supplements can greatly help you meet both your daily caloric and macro-nutrient ratio goals. Meal Replacements, Weight Gainers, Flaxseed Oils and Protein Powders can all assist you by providing quality nutrition with macro-nutrient breakdowns favorable to successful weight gain diets.
Dietary supplements, however, should be used sparingly.
Whole food nutrition is always best. Despite what their marketers may print on their labels, these supplements don’t provide an advantage beyond their caloric abilities to help you maintain a desirable muscle building diet.
Use dietary supplements only to supplement your diet, only when and where you need them. They are not the successful diet’s base; their value is only in their ability to help you with its weak spots.
For suggestions on quality supplements, check the Bodybuilding Supplement Guide.
If building muscle mass is your goal, you must place great emphasis on your diet. It isn’t enough to think you eat a lot or to try and eat as much as you can whenever you can. You must not guess about it. To gain weight you must consistently follow a solid weight gain diet.
Trainers frustrated by a lack of gains will constantly tinker with their weight training routines and with their supplement regimens. All the while they do this tinkering, the real reason they are unable to gain muscle is simply due to the fact that they are failing to provide the body with adequate nutrition.
No bodybuilding supplement, not creatine or even anabolic steroids, and no weight training program, not any “super mass” routine or any specific exercise, has the ability to build muscle without you providing it the raw materials to do so through your weight gain diet.
Understanding this will save you from a great deal of frustration as you attempt to change your physique.
Easier Said Than Done?
Eating to gain muscle mass isn’t easy. It can be a radical change for those who may be operating under some poor dietary habits. You shouldn’t expect the transition to happen without a few bumps in the road.
But if you persevere, the benefits of adopting a healthy weight gain diet can be “weighty.”
For some tips on how to make eating for muscle and weight gain work for you, check out the page, Making the Healthy Weight Gain Plan Stick.