How to Eat to Gain Muscle
If you are wanting to gain muscle, and go from skinny to buff, you have to be eating right. Food is often the number one thing that is overlooked with any fitness goal. Typically you think “I need to start lifting weights.” Well yes, you do, but that’s only one small piece of the puzzle.
You have to be eating enough for your body to actually produce muscle mass. You can lift weights in the gym all day, but if your body doesn’t have an excess of calories to build those muscles, not much will ever change. I touch on this in my free course, the starters guide to getting buff.
And it’s not just about eating enough, it’s about eating the right types of foods. You can eat enough calories by just eating donuts and pizza, but that’s not going to pack on lean muscle mass. It’s only going to put on the wrong kind of weight.
You’ve got to focus on eating the right amount of the right type of food.
And what is the right type of food in order to gain muscle and go from skinny to buff?
Lean meats, complex and whole grain carbohydrates, fresh veggies and fruit and lots of water. So if you are struggling with packing on the muscle take a closer look at what you are eating and how much.
If you’ve got a fast metabolism it can be difficult to get enough calories to gain muscle. Typically it has to hover in the 3,200–4,000 range (depending on your size).
Getting that amount of calories in clean calories is extremely hard, and often you have to eat so much you feel like throwing up.
That’s where protein powder comes in. It’s not just for building and repairing muscle that have been broken down, it’s also to aid in hitting your calorie intake. Adding in a couple scoops of protein in some milk twice a day can be the difference between gaining muscle and staying the same size. I talk about that a lot in my free course and how it’s important to keep track of your calories.
Think about it, 500 calories a day is all it takes to gain one pound a week. That’s about 3 scoops of protein and 2 cups of milk. That’s it! You can have that before (or after) your breakfast, and before bed. For more on supplements, including whey protein and a few others you should be taking, check out this episode: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yf1_PsdxvyU&t=77s
Why Diets Don’t Work
When it comes to gaining muscle and getting in shape, there’s probably not much that turns you off like hearing the word “diet”. And it should. Diets suck. Plain and simple. If you are a part of the Bones to Bulk Facebook group, you know that I can’t stand diets. And I’m going to give you 3 reasons why if you are trying to gain muscle, and get in the best shape of your life, why you should ditch the diet.
1. They set you up for failure. Diets by design are a temporary fix to a long term problem. They are set up to be temporary thing. Think about it. If you only temporarily put gas in your car and then stop, what’s eventually going to happen? You are going to run out of gas. Your diets can’t be these 30 day or 60 day fixes and then you just go back to how you ate before.
2.They teach you how to eliminate foods so that you accomplish your goals. Rather than teaching you how to eat and set up a firm foundation with eating, they only teach you what not to eat, so that once you are done, you go back to square one. Eating for true health, muscle gain, and overall fitness has way more to do with the healthy options that you add in to your diet, rather than what you take away.
3. Diets have an all or nothing approach. In other words, for x amount of time completely cut out x, y, and z. Our eating habits are built over a lifetime, and we can’t expect to all of a sudden completely change everything over night. Changing the way we eat takes a long time to fully conquer. It should be approached as a gradual climb, slowly replacing unhealthy foods with healthy foods.
Remember the key to gaining muscle, getting fit, and feeling amazing starts with what you put in your body. You can find out more at Bones to Bulk.
Supplements for Gaining Muscle
Walk in to any vitamin or supplement store and it can be overwhelming at the amount of products available. Do you need them? What even are half of them?
While there are a lot of hyped up products that you don’t need, there are a few tried and true ones you do.
For starters whey protein is a must if you are trying to gain muscle. Aim for a clean protein powder with no fillers. Typically protein powders that you find in grocery stores or superstores have a lot of fillers, get a clean protein from a reputable company that specializes in supplements.
Second you should be taking creatine. Creatine is something that is naturally occurring in our bodies. Our body creates creatine to release ATP. ATP is what gives us energy to function. So the more ATP we have the better we can perform in the gym.
Should You Have Cheat Meals?
When it comes to food and getting in shape, one of the things that continually comes up are cheat meals. So what is the truth about them? Do they really affect your ability to gain muscle mass? Do they help you to lose body fat? Should you have regular cheat meals? There is tons of material out there that you need to eat crappy food in order to “shock” your body back into fat burning and lots of other nonsense (yes that’s nonsense).
But who wants to go forever without occasionally indulging or treating themselves to a night out or to a get cookout, right? But before you just go diving in and start shoveling down the hot-dogs and pizza like the zombie apocalypse is about to happen, hold off.
There’s two elements to this if you are striving to gain lean muscle mass. The first is, don’t even think about getting in a cheat meal if you are just starting out on this journey. It takes time to build healthy habits and you don’t need to derail yourself right off the bat with a cheat meal that may lead you down a dangerous path. So if you are less than 6 weeks in, try to avoid a cheat meal.
The second main element here is not getting too overboard with a cheat meal. For instance let’s say you want to go to your favorite restaurant and are scanning the menu. Rather than opting for the 8 oz rib-eye with fried onion rings on the side, maybe grab the grilled chicken with a baked potato. It’s still going to be good, but a better option. You can have an enjoyable meal and it still not be terrible for you. I talk about this more in this my podcast.
Think of it in terms of a must have meal rather than a cheat meal. In other words, only go for it if you absolutely must and can’t resist eating something from your old diet, but if you are feeling good, don’t just turn to a cheat meal, because it’s cheat night.
You are getting to eat healthy nutritious food that is packing on the lean muscle, so don’t view it that you need a “cheat” from that. Be smart about it, and be sparing with it, your muscle gains, and low body fat composition will thank you. I just wrapped up a 5 day nutrition video series over in our Bones to Bulk Facebook group, you can check out those here.
Protein For Gaining Muscles
Protein. We hear all about it. We consume it on a daily basis from one source or another. But what does it do, and do we really need it? If you follow my podcast you know how much I talk about nutrition being everything when it comes to hitting your fitness goals. But protein is often misunderstood.
I’ve known some people who wanted to gain muscle and so just started taking whey protein throughout the day. Whey is important, but that act alone is not going to just start making you jacked.
When you workout and exert a lot of muscle energy your muscles are literally starving and, because they’ve expended all their energy. They need amino acids (the building blocks of protein) in order to repair themselves. You see when muscles are worked out they literally tear. Then new muscle fibers come and grow over those tears like a scab on our skin. After these new muscle fibers patch up the tears that results in our muscle being stronger and denser.
Protein comes into play in patching up those tears, because our muscles need them to heal, otherwise if you are depleted of amino acids, the body will actually pull them from other muscles if it can (which is counter-productive to growing muscle).
So the cure? Try to down a scoop of protein within 30 minutes after working out, this gives your muscles their much needed boost of healing. In this video I talk about the importance of that.
In addition whey protein when mixed in low-fat milk can aid in pushing you up to your calorie range for the day. It’s a quick way to get some extra calories. But as with anything, you need a well balanced nutrition plan and don’t think that the whey protein will be enough to get you jacked. But it’s a very useful tool.
How Fat Can Help With Muscle Gain
When it comes to fats, you want to steer clear of most of them as they provide little value and assist in clogging up your arteries. But there are some great fats your body can put to good use. Fat while usually looked at as a negative thing, actually does provide some benefits.
After all we need a healthy layer of fat around our organs to protect them, and it plays an important role in our bodies. In addition to protecting our organs, it helps the body absorb vitamins. It also helps us to regulate our body temperature. I talk all the time about the importance of nutrition on my website and even have courses dealing specifically with that.
Now before you reach for that bag of potato chips, there are healthy fats you should be incorporating but they are not what we typically think of.
Almond, cashews, and most other tree nuts are a great source of healthy fat that also pack a punch of protein. Olive oil and fish also give us a dosage of healthy fats that our body puts to good use.
So don’t fear healthy fat, still keep it in moderation, but your body needs those healthy sources.