If you’re trying to gain weight, shoving calories down your throat all day isn’t the way. Sure, it sounds easy to ‘gain weight’, but consider the type of weight you are aiming for - you’re trying to gain muscle, not fat.
Surely, you must’ve been inspired at some point by a pro’s diet who eats high-carbohydrate, high-protein, and high-fat meals according to the popular method of muscle gaining. Because of the apparently huge and high-calorie meals, many confuse it with the See Food Diet.
In this regard, the See Food Diet (‘see’ food and eat it) doesn’t work out to your advantage – you’ll end up packing on fat, instead of muscle. You still need to eat the proper ratios of protein, carbs, and fat to build muscle. If you’re going to gorge on carbs and not enough protein, you will not build muscle.
In order to properly gain muscle, there are a few basic principles to follow and this should be your first goal: mastering these basic steps over the anxiety of being skinny; mind over matter – always!
1. Go Nuts!
Nuts are one of nature’s greatest nutritionally balanced food and they are a great protein source – which is exactly what you need to build muscle. And they are generally high in calories because they contain lots of healthy fats.
Almonds are among the highest-protein nuts, high in manganese and vitamin E. A good tip is to carry a bag of almonds with you all day and snack on it at every given opportunity.
Walnuts and their richness in essential fatty acids are famous worldwide and the reason why they’re so versatile. This superfood is great to season your salads with and to sprinkle it over your meals, for an extra touch of protein.
Cashews are some of the most nutrient-rich nuts, with plenty of iron, zinc, and trace minerals. Another superfood you can snack on or add to your meals.
If you happen to be allergic to nuts, try sesame seeds. They provide you with calcium, which is essential for proper muscle functioning, and they’re also rich in copper.
2. Power Shake
Liquid Calories! This one speaks for itself: shakes and smoothies. All you need to do is throw a bunch of stuff in a blender and drink a shake. It doesn’t get easier than that. Adding a couple of scoops of protein powder to your shakes and smoothies is the best way to ensure that you’re on top of your game with your protein intake.
A great advantage of incorporating shakes and smoothies into your daily diet is that not only you get proper nutrition, but you get proper hydration! Just try these 4 Healthy Smoothie Recipes and see for yourself.
3. A Feast of Carbs
Your body’s favorite fuel are carbohydrates. Every gram of carbohydrates you consume must be utilized as an immediate fuel source or to restore glycogen levels, because you don't want it to be stored as fat. So feasting on complex carbohydrates like stone-rolled oats or sweet potatoes right before your workout is the best way to ensure that you have enough energy to work out and that this controversial fuel is burnt out right away.
4. Less is More
Eat all the time – don’t wait for ‘launch o’clock’ to gorge on a massive meal. If you stuff on massive meals, your body becomes busy dealing with that and that makes you lethargic. And what you want is to be the opposite of lethargic. If you don’t go too much without eating, then you don’t have to resort to a massive meal. The trick is to always snack on proper portions and avoid massive meals. This also boosts up your metabolism and keeps it going.
So during the day make sure you snack on those almonds, smoothies, and try adding Greek yogurt, avocado, and whole grain bread into your snacks.
5. Empty Junk
Avoid empty-calorie foods. Sodas and what we usually consider junk-food only give you the illusion of being properly fed. They make you feel full and keep you from consuming the right foods you need to build muscle. And stay away from low-fat diet foods – most of them, while pretending to be healthy, they actually contain a lot of artificial ingredients that do nothing for your muscle gain.
So take advantage of wholesome foods with good fats and carbs in them.
6. Stomach Stretches
First of all, do not drink water before meals – contrary to weight loss strategies of drinking water before meals, here you want to do the opposite. You want that stomach capacity to be at its biggest, so fill it with food, not water. Don’t get it wrong – you still need to drink plenty of water but at the right time.
Secondly, drink tons of waters at once. Progressively increase the amount of water you drink in one sitting to stretch your stomach. See? Stomach stretches! So, if you have a hard time eating a lot of food in general, this will help your stomach to increase its capacity to intake food. But once again: don’t practice this right before you eat a meal.
7. Fiber Out
Eating a lot of fiber is essential to any diet because it helps you maintain a healthy intestinal tract - it keeps things moving. In order to gain more muscle, a high fiber intake is what you need because fiber removes waste that can stress the body on a biochemical level and we know that stress decreases levels of growth hormones that you need in order to drive muscle growth. So, in order to take more fiber out, you need to take more of it in.
8. Wholesome Carbs
Oatmeal and sweet potatoes again. They are packed with calories and high in fiber as well. And just imagine: make a bowl of oatmeal and add almonds to it – you got points 1 and 8 already mastered. Consider that with every meal, you can add ingredients from the food groups you need, in order to enjoy the nutrition that drives muscle building and even make it taste better.
9. Protein First
When you start eating food, your stomach releases hydrochloric acid to help you digest protein. Eating anything other than protein first will waste that acid on carbs and when it’s protein’s turn, your stomach might not have the ability to break it down, causing you to feel bloated and uncomfortable, which in turn, will affect your upcoming meals.
10. Eat & Sleep
When you go to sleep, your body enters fasting mode, which means you either plateau or lose weight during your sleeping hours. Making sure you have a high-calorie snack right before going to bed - this will help you with your gains. An easy snack you could try is some Greek yogurt with a scoop of the right Muscle Building Supplements and you’re ready to go… to bed.
Good luck getting big & fit!