I see it far too often; someone wants to add some muscle to their frame and they go to the gym and start working out. Some will follow a good routine and make strength gains.
After a year though, they are still coming to the gym and working out but they look exactly the same. They do not have any more size and are still soft-looking.
What could they be doing wrong? Far too often people want to gain muscle but neglect their nutrition.
Quite simply if you want to get bigger you need to eat a lot. You can not create more size if you do not provide the body with the fuel to do it.
Successful bodybuilders are meticulous about their nutrition and eat a lot and do it often.
Let's take a look at what the largest icon of bodybuilding, Arnold Schwarzenegger recommended as far as foods.
Arnold would primarily focus on eating whole, natural foods and avoiding foods that were too heavily processed. This goes in line with what I often tell people, “eat more foods and less products.”
Some of the tips that Arnold recommends in his book Total Recall: My Unbelievably True Life Story include:
Eat 5-6 smaller meals a day
Eat carbs half an hour after exercising
Eat 30 to 50 grams of protein with each meal every 3 hours
Not avoid saturated fats because they raise hormone levels
Eat no more than 3 eggs a day
Substitute beef and pork with chicken and fish
Avoid sugar – it contains empty calories; eat fruits and vegetables for carbs instead
Use supplements and protein shakes to get the required daily amount of protein
Let's take a look at why these tips can provide results:
Eating 5-6 meals a day allows you to provide constant fuel to your muscles and a steady stream of protein to stimulate muscle growth.
Consuming carbs after exercising is great because it releases insulin. Too much insulin can be detrimental if you are trying to lose weight but can really help you to pack on the pounds.
30-50 grams of protein for 6 meals will net you between 180-300 grams of protein per day. This falls within the 0.6-1 gram of protein per day recommended threshold.
Saturated fats have been demonized in the media and by many health organizations, but there is no link between increased saturated fat consumption and an increased risk of heart disease. Saturated fats are necessary for the production of testosterone, which promotes muscle growth.
The fat content of eggs may cause some bodybuilders to shy away from them, they are really good and I highly recommend trying to fit them into your diet. Eggs are a great source of high-quality protein and have a high biological value, but who can argue with his success. Arnold ate a lot of good muscle building foods all the time.
Chicken and fish are generally leaner than beef and pork so this can help with keeping your fat content down.
Sugar is not good for the body and should be avoided or limited by all people regardless of fitness goal.
Shakes are good for providing protein especially if you are full and have a hard time eating more food. If you can get all your protein from real food, that is preferred though.
Just because this worked for Arnold does not mean it will work for you. Everyone's body is different and as you track your foods and results you will figure out the slight difference that give you better results.
A good nutrition plan will also be evolving over time because you should be building muscle and getting bigger so your caloric and protein needs will change over time.