Eating for Muscle Gain
Muscles are greedy. If you want them to grow, you must feed them. In order to build your muscles means, you'll have to take in more calories than you're burning off during your high-weight, high-intensity workouts.
How much should you eat in order to gain muscle?A pound of weight is equal to about 3,500 calories. So, in theory, if you eat an extra 500 calories a day, times seven days a week, you will gain a pound a week.
If you're like most people, you probably have no clue how many calories you eat on an average day. So do this - over the next week, take the time to write down everything you eat and the number of calories contained in each item.
- For packaged food, it will be easy; just look at the nutrition label on the bag or box. If you're having multiple packaged items together, such a sandwich with bread, turkey, cheese and mayo, be sure to add up the calories for each item.
- For other foods, such as meals you make "from scratch", you'll need to Google the calories in each individual item and add them up. For example, if you're having chicken breast, green beans and potato, Google "chicken breast calories", "green beans calories", etc. You'll have to estimate portion sizes, but at least you'll have a good ballpark figure.
- If you use a condiment such as barbecue sauce, salad dressing or butter or mayo, be sure to include those calories, too.
For example, if you currently eat about 2,000 calories a day and you want to try to gain a pound every week, you'll need to increase your calorie consumption to 2,500 calories a day. Again, this will require you to become familiar with the calories that are in different food items. Or you can simply find a meal replacement shake or protein bar that delivers the extra calories you need.
Remember to account for calories you burn off during exerciseIf you are starting a workout regimen or kicking your current routine up a notch, your metabolic rate is going to increase and you will be burning more calories, so you will need to account for the lost calories by eating more.
What you eat is just as important as how much you eatIf your goal were simply to gain weight, you could eat more of anything. But if you want to gain muscle, you will have to take care to eat foods that aid your body's muscle-growth processes. Adding fries to your meals and snacking on chocolate bars all day will certainly help you gain weight . . . but not the kind of weight you want.
The number-one nutritional source for muscle gain is lean protein. A good rule of thumb is to eat one gram of lean protein per day for every pound of your body weight. There are about 7 grams of protein in an ounce of meat. So, one pound (16 ounces) of meat has about 112 grams. Therefore, if you weigh 170 pounds, you should eat about 1.5 pounds of meat (or other protein sources such as eggs, fish, etc.) a day, and if you weight 225, you'll need to eat about 2 pounds of protein a day.
A lot of people make the mistake of drastically cutting their carbs and fat when trying to gain muscle. Lots of protein is great, but continue to eat a balanced diet. Carbs are your body's main source of quick energy, and you'll need that in order to hit the weights hard. Similarly, fat plays an important role in testosterone production as well as long-term energy. So remember - all things in moderation.