Packing on quality lean-muscle can be a challenge, especially if you’re a hard gainer with speedy metabolism. Gaining muscle can be difficult if you’re not sure how to go about it – you can’t just eat anything! If you’re not careful, you could end up packing on too much fat and not enough lean muscle. If you’re not sure where to start, here are 20 diet tips to help you have a cleaner better, mass-gain.
1. Count Your Calories – if you want to be sure you’re going to gain muscle, you need to eat excess calories. Try eating at least 500 calories above your BMR + Activity Level. You can determine your BMR by using an online calculator.
2. Eat in Cycles– cycling between low and high calorie diets, and low and higher carb diets can help stimulate muscle-building hormones, and result in better body composition results.
3. Try IF – intermittent fasting has been shown to have positive results on boosting hormone levels and keeping the metabolism boosted. Fasting can be combined with any diet. This type of diet can be done daily, or a few times per week. Try to fast for minimum of 14 to 16 hours, allowing an 8 to 10 hour window for eating.
4. Eat A High Protein Diet – protein is the main component of a muscle building diet, protein builds muscle, helps maintain muscle and aids in the recovery process. Protein should account for at least 40% of your diet.
5. Eat Fats – fat is an important part of a muscle building diet, fats including cholesterol are essential for hormone production including testosterone. Fat should come from whole eggs, red beef, fatty fish, avocado and nuts. Higher fat diets have been shown to increase testosterone levels and decrease belly fat in men. Fat should make up a minimum of 30% of your calories in your diet.
6. Eat Cruciferous Green Foods – green cruciferous vegetables provide a source of fibre, but also provide a natural estrogen fighting compound called di-indole-methane or DIM. This compound binds to excess estrogen metabolites in body and package them for removal. DIM also blocks production of aromatase enzyme – DHT, which can reduce testosterone to estrogen.
7. Take Zinc – this mineral is necessary for many metabolic functions in the body including testosterone production. Supplementing with zinc has been shown to support testosterone levels, as well as help the body recover from high intensity exercise.
8. Eat Pumpkin Seeds – rich in saturated fat, as well as zinc, magnesium and the Leucine. A one-ounce serving of pumpkin seeds provides 6 grams of fat, 5 grams of fibre, 5 grams of protein, 19 percent of your daily value of zinc and 18 percent of your daily value of magnesium. Try toasting them in the oven, tossing them on a salad or eating them raw.
9. Eat Fast Carbs – eating simple carbs post workout can help stimulate the release of the growth hormone insulin, which helps pick up nutrients in the blood and deliver them to muscles to help aid in recovery and muscle building. Eating fast digesting carbs such as white rice and white potato, after your workout will also help with muscle glycogen replenishment.
10. Use Creatine – creatine is an amino compound that is essential for muscle energy. Creatine provides a phosphate group to ADP to generate ATP or energy. Supplementing with creatine for a minimum of 8 weeks, can result in increases in lean mass, increases in strength and power. Supplement with 5 g per day.
11. Eat Regularly – if you want to gain weight you can’t be missing meals, or missing calories. You need to eat at regular intervals throughout the day to keep feeding those muscles. Try to eat 5 to 7 meals, every 2 to 3 hours especially if you’re a hard gainer!
12. Eat Red Meat – red meat is packed with natural muscle building nutrients, its high quality because it contains all the essential amino acids, along with muscle building nutrient creatine, saturated fats and vitamins and minerals needed for growth and recovery.
13. Recover With BCAAs – Branched Chain Amino Acids, specifically Leucine is critical for muscle building it turns on the pathways of muscle protein synthesis. Take 10 g of BCAAs after your workout.
14. Have Protein Shakes – protein shakes will help you get your protein needs met, it will also an easy way to get extra muscle building calories in. Mix protein with banana or berries, nut butter, oats, chia seed, milk or nut milk. Make your very own natural weight gainer.
15. Snack on Nuts – nuts provide fibre and a source of healthy fats, plus they’re high in calories and taste good. Have them with your protein shakes, snack on them between meals or chop them up and put them on your meals.
16. Eat Fatty Fish – fatty fish provides a source of omega-3 and omega-6, two fats that are needed for hormonal balance and testosterone production. Try salmon, cod or mackerel.
17. Supplement with Vitamin D – increasing your vitamin D intake can increase testosterone levels, especially if you’re deficient. Take at least 3000 IU per day.
18. Slow Digesting Protein for Night – before sleep, consider having a slow digesting protein such as casein protein powder. Casein takes about 8 hours to digest. Taking it before sleep will keep those muscles with a steady surge of aminos to help aid recovery.
19. Eat High Fibre Carbs – high fibre carbs will help keep you sustained for tough workouts, eat them before your workouts or first thing in the morning. Try brown rice, quinoa or oats.
20. Try A Meal Plan – if you’re having a hard time cooking all the meals you need to feed your muscles, try using a meal plan. This will ensure you’re getting the right amount of calories and macros you need to meet your muscle building goals.