The single biggest and most important factor in building lean muscle mass is the amount of good quality healthy calories that you consume per day.
So how does this work?
It’s a simple formula… you have to eat to gain muscle. The weight room and conditioning is only about 25% of the muscle gaining equation, you must eat the other 75% to get the results you are look for.
Let’s sat your goal is to gain 1 pound of body weight. 1 pound of body weight is equal to 3500 calories.
If you are trying to gain weight (muscle mass) then you must consume more calories than you are burning off every single day.
So if you are trying to gain 1 pound of bodyweight per week then you must consume an additional 3500 calories than you are burning off each week. This means you need to consume 500 more calories per day. 500 x 7 days is 3500 calories = one pound of weight gain.
It is smart to weigh in once per week under the same conditions each and every time, such as Saturday morning before breakfast and after going to the bathroom. This way you can be sure if you are making gains or not. Again, do not weigh in everyday… just one day per week and ideally the same day each week.
Simply put, just start adding 500 calories per day to your meal consumption and you should gain 1 pound per week… it’s that simple. Now, some may not gain the one pound per week. That is because they were not consuming enough to begin with (your body had severe calorie deficit). Simply put, just add another 500 calories each day starting the next week, and repeat this until you start gaining the 1 pound per week. As you continue to gain weight, you will hit a plateau and will not gain more weight This happens because you gained the weight for the calories you are eating, and now you need to add an additional 500 calories per day in order to gain the one pound per week.
Maybe your goal is to gain 1/2 pound per week… just add 250 calories per day in the same manner as above.
If you are trying to lose weight (fat), simply subtract the 500 per day so that you’ll lose 1 pound per week. You can also eat 250 less and burn off another 250 by exercising (hint hint) for a total of 500 less per day.
What do I actually eat though to gain muscle?
Of course we do not want to eat just anything… we want to eat healthy non-processed foods, and the majority of which should be healthy proteins and carbohydrates.
There are many opinions as to the exact formula on how many proteins, carbohydrates, and fats you should be consuming. However, if you are trying to gain lean body mass (muscle) and you don’t want to get fat, then you should consider eating 1 gram of protein per day per pound of your body weight. So if you weigh 150 lbs, then you need to consume at 150 grams of protein per day.
The real problem is that the body can only use about 25 grams of protein every 2-3 hours… the rest goes through your body and into the toilet.
So how do I eat that much protein in a day in order to gain the muscle I am trying to gain?
You have to consume 5-7 smaller meals per day. It’s simple, if you need 150 grams of protein, and you will eat 6 times per day, then you need to eat 25 grams per meal (25 x 6 = 150).
It’s very possible to eat the calories needed in 3 meals, but then your body is putting the good stuff in the toilet and keeping the bad stuff which turns to fat… so eat 6 meals per day or more if possible. It’s not an easy lifestyle but neither is being a football player.
What about Carbohydrates?
With every Protein try to eat at least the same amount of calories or more in Carbohydrates. If you are a skinny person, you can gain weight much quicker by consuming a lot of carbohydrates.
How can I possibly eat 6 meals per day especially while I’m in school?
You have to pack your food and bring it with you. You can also get creative by having things such as a meal replacement drink instead of a meal. You can easily carry these drinks with you. Another option is a peanut butter and jelly sandwhich… and put on a lot of peanut butter.
Meal 1: 6:30 am = eat breakfast at home
Meal 2: 9:00 am = Drink a shake (in class if allowed)
Meal 3: Noon = Eat lunch at school
Meal 4: 2:30 pm = Eat 2 peanut butter and jelly sandwiches (in class if allowed)
Meal 5: 6:00 pm = Eat dinner at home
Meal 6: 9:00 pm = Eat meal at home or shake
Meal 7: Bedtime = Eat a peanut butter and jelly sandwich
*Of course if you can replace peanut butter and jelly with a better choice such as a chicken sandwich then please do so. Make sure you mix up what you eat (don’t just eat the same thing everyday. ex: exchange chicken with Tuna).
**Getting yourself a healthy weigh gaining protein shake is a good way to get in the calories.
What are good sources of Proteins?
Meats and Fish – Steak, Chicken, Shrimp, Salmon, Tuna, Turkey, Deer… etc.
What are good sources of Carbohydrates?
Sweet Potato, Brown Rice, Oats, Fruits and Berry’s, Pasta, whole grain bread.
How do I know how many grams are in something I eat?
You have to read the labels on the food. The label will tell you what amount a serving is, and the grams for each protein, carbs, and fat for 1 serving.
Now… you have to be careful. You can be eating something like a can of tuna, and the servings can be tricky. Ex: The tuna can says 2 servings per can. That same tuna can says 20 grams of protein per serving. That means this one can will have 40 grams if you eat the whole can. 20 grams x 2 servings = 40 grams.
Is there an easy way to track all this so that I know how much I consumer each day and week and will track my gains?
Yes… If you have a cell phone you can download a free app called “My plate” by Livestrong (there are plenty of others out there). It’s very easy to use. If you don’t have a phone then you have to do it the old fashioned way… write it down in a spiral bound journal notebook and keep that book with you. Regardless of how you track it, make sure you put everything in the app/notebook and keep track of it. If you track it, then a person who is in the know can help you with your gains if you are not gaining.
If you are consuming a lot of food then you need to consume a lot of water to help process the food. For highly active people (i.e. football players doing conditioning year around), then it has been said that you should consume more than a 1/2 gallon per day.
The easiest way to do this is to have a container of 1 quart of water near your bed. Drink 1 quart in the morning as soon as you get up, and 1 quart in the evening before you go to bed. If you do that then guess what… you just drank 1/2 gallon that day. Of course you will drink more water throughout the day so you will end up drinking more than 1/2 gallon per day. During the season and especially during the beginning when it’s hot, this is exactly how you can avoid being dehydrated during games.
Please keep in mind the hydration starts several days out from an event, so start drinking Tuesday for the game on Friday. If you wait until Friday morning then it’s too late. Proper hydration also includes making sure you get enough calories and sleep.
By the way, drinking that 1 quart of water before and after bed (and throughout the day), eating plenty of food, and getting good sleep (8 hours) is exactly the formula the US Marines use to keep Marines from being heat casualties such as heat stroke or heat exhaustion. This formula works and will help keep you from getting cramps during games/practices… So keep eating, drinking water, and get good sleep in order to truly maximize your athletic performance and ability.
If you learn anything from this page remember this… WEIGHTS BEFORE DATES