There are two categories of people in the gym: those who come to lose weight and those who come to gain weight. For good muscle definition it is not enough to get rid of excess weight, you need to build muscle mass. And many athletes are faced with a problem: the weight is normal, training is on the agenda, but the desired topography does not appear. To achieve your goal, you need a balanced diet to gain muscle mass, for both women and men.
There are two categories of people in the gym: the first has come to lose weight, the second to gain it. For good muscle relief it is not enough to get rid of excess weight, you need to build muscle mass. And many athletes are faced with a problem: the weight is normal, training is on the agenda, but the desired topography does not appear. To achieve your goal, you need a balanced diet to gain muscle mass, for both women and men.
The weight gain process is long, so there are a few rules
- Break down your daily calorie intake into 5-6 meals. There should be an interval of 3-4 hours between meals. This will help the body not to experience the fear of hunger.
- Drink plenty of clean water. Gaining muscle mass requires at least 2.5 litres of water per day.
- The daily amount of calories for an adult athlete is 2 to 4 thousand. (Standards are different for men and women).
- High-calorie foods should not account for more than 70% of the daily amount, the rest being nutrient-rich, non-caloric foods such as fruit and vegetables.
- Maintain a balance of proteins, fats and carbohydrates in your diet. The daily ration of carbohydrates is 50-60 per cent of the diet, protein 30-35 per cent and fat 10-15 per cent.
Avoid fried and baked foods. Use gentle cooking: boiling, stewing and steaming. Vegetables should be eaten raw.
- Eat the main part of the daily menu before 5pm. Two hours before training, eat a portion of protein and carbohydrates to feed your muscles. Post-workout shakes with protein, vitamins and minerals.
- For 3-4 hours after training, eat healthy foods with a high glycaemic index to recover from exercise and replenish glycogen reserves in your muscles. The only rule is no sweets or sandwiches.
- Don’t expect quick results. Normal weight gain is 600-800 grams per week. If you gain weight faster, this is a cause for concern, not joy: not only are your muscles growing, but so is your fat tissue.
Some athletes find it easier to build muscle mass, others more difficult. Some may train for years, lifting weights at breakfast, lunch and dinner, but remain lean without a hint of relief, and some have been going to the gym for a couple of months – and already flaunt perfect abs.
The speed at which you build muscle varies depending on your body type. There are three types:
People of this constitution are great athletes and climbers: they are naturally slim, energetic and agile. They have a fast metabolism, so ectomorphs can only gain weight as a result of serious health problems. But it is not easy for such an athlete to build muscle, so they need to balance their diet to get lots of protein, and the result will not be fast.
The direct opposite of the ectomorph is the endomorph.
If you find it hard to lose weight but easy to put on, you have a naturally powerful physique and a strong, sluggish body, chances are you have this type of physique. You will need to work on your diet and exercise programme to build muscle without increasing body fat.
Mesomorphs are the quickest to achieve brilliant results in the gym. They are people of athletic build, with well-developed muscles, but without a tendency to be overweight. These people have all the prerequisites for becoming muscular. A balanced diet and a series of workouts will bring quick results.
Change your diet
To lose weight, you need to burn more calories than you consume. The opposite is true for muscle growth, but do it so that the extra calories go to muscle, not fat tissue. There are several ways to calculate your optimal calorie intake. Sometimes trainers recommend this method: write down the number and weight of all the foods you eat during the week, calculate your average daily calorie intake, and then simply add 500 calories to the resulting figure. In theory, this is enough to allow your body to build muscle.
But there is an easier way to get a correct calorie count: multiply your weight by 30, which is the approximate number of calories per day. This is the amount of energy you need to make your body work properly. Because you want to build muscle, you need a little more energy, so add another 500 calories to the total.
The complete formula for calculating your daily calorie intake is as follows:
Weight × 30 + 500 = number of calories
Foods for weight gain. Why is protein so important?
Not all calories are equally good for muscle: you cannot eat a pizza containing a daily portion of energy and think that it will promote muscle growth. In order to gain muscle mass, the diet must be balanced, and protein in one form or another should account for no more than 30% of the total food intake.
Most bodybuilders do not count vegetable proteins but only animal proteins because they are better digested. You can also get your protein quota from supplements, but it is optimal if you consume both supplements and animal protein.
An adult athlete has about 2 grams of protein per kilogram of weight. For example, at 85 kg you would need 500 grams of chicken breast (contains 100 grams of protein), 100 grams of cottage cheese (30 grams of pure protein), 5 eggs, 2 cups of milk per day. This is just an example, you can include more or less of any food you like in your eating plan.
Carbohydrates make up the bulk of your diet: 50-60%. If you have calculated the optimal amount of protein, calculating your daily quota of carbohydrates is easy: exactly double the amount of protein.
Keep in mind that carbohydrates can be simple or complex. Simple ones are digested quickly, causing a spike in blood glucose. Complex carbohydrates are broken down more slowly, maintaining glucose levels for a longer period of time. Complex carbohydrates, such as those found in cereals and legumes, should be preferred. However, if you need to replenish your energy reserves urgently, you can also eat fast carbohydrates: sweets. But these should not be used as staples.
Finally, don’t forget fruit and vegetables: they contain a lot of fibre, which slows down the digestion of food. So in reasonable quantities you can eat fresh vegetables without counting.
How much fat do I need?
The daily ration of fat is 10-20%. It is not necessary to exclude them completely, but it is important to give preference to fats of vegetable origin, reducing animal products. The only exception is seafood, which is rich in omega-3 fatty acids.
When it comes to gaining muscle mass, an important element is your diet. You should eat at about the same time every day. This will help you avoid the accumulation of body fat and help you gain weight smoothly.
Here are some daily menu options from BeFit’s Strong programme:
- More carbohydrates in the morning
Breakfast options: oatmeal with milk, two boiled eggs, toast with jam. Or corn porridge with milk, an omelette, a wholemeal sandwich with butter. Rice porridge with milk, scrambled eggs and dried fruit are also suitable.
- Lunch – main meal
For lunch you can eat rice, boiled chicken breast, cucumbers, tomatoes and wholemeal bread. Another day – porridge, beef goulash, vegetable salad and a slice of rye bread. Or pilaf, prawns, coleslaw.
- Afternoon snack – additional meal
At this time, you can have buckwheat, turkey fillet and vegetables. Or barley porridge, steamed beef cutlets, banana. Another day – lentil stew with vegetables and chicken fillet.
- A healthy snack in the afternoon.
For snacks, a glass of sour milk and a piece of hard cheese, cottage cheese with yoghurt, milkshake, low-fat cottage cheese are suitable. Don’t take snacks as allowed, e.g. Snickers.
- Dinner – light protein products
Mint, beans and a vegetable salad dressed with sour cream are a good option for a sports dinner. You could replace this set with rice, veal and Greek salad. Or low-fat pilaf, fish soufflé and courgette caviar.