When it comes to optimizing your nutrition for muscle gains, there are a few simple, but extremely important factors you must consider.
You see, although many trainees have achieved great results by simply lifting and eating, they are the exception to the rule.
The majority of trainees who attempt an uncalculated nutrition approach will end up spinning their wheels, hitting plateaus, gaining too much fat, and even potentially damaging their hormone levels.
Despite what you’ve been told, read, or assume…
Hitting plateaus is not inevitable.
Getting fat past a point of being comfortable with your shirt off is not necessary.
And hindering the production of our most important muscle building hormones is not “part of the game”.
Today I am going to give you a very basic formula that you can use in order to start packing on lean mass. But first, I want to give you a better understanding as to why this formula works and why others may potentially do more harm than good despite giving you enough protein.
Factors To Consider Include…
Energy Balance: Whether we are consuming enough total calories to gain weight, lose weight, or maintain.
Nitrogen Balance: Whether we are synthesizing more protein than we are breaking down or vice versa.
Anabolic Hormones: Chemical substance produced in the body that controls and regulates the activity of certain cells or organs (i.e. Testosterone).
Energy: Glycogen stores and our ability to perform at our peak.
Macronutrient Breakdown: The ratio of your fats, carbs, and proteins. This is responsible for your overall body composition.
Pretty basic stuff right?
Despite the simplicity, there are typically 1 or more of these factors being completely ignored in most fad diets.
But I’m not here prey on the weak…
I am here to help pack some muscle on to your frame.
One last thing I want to touch on are macronutrients and the rolls they play. This should give you a better understanding as to why these numbers should be in order if you want to optimize muscle gain while minimizing fat storage.
We have once been lead to believe that we needed are more protein than we actually do. In fact, even I at one point recommended as high as 2 grams per pound of bodyweight (which won’t hurt). However, more recent research has shown that the average person only needs about 0.4 grams per pound of bodyweight in protein per day.
Now, obviously the average person is a couch potato and that’s not you.
For the active person, 0.7-0.9 grams of protein per pound of bodyweight (per day) has been shown to be enough to keep us in a positive nitrogen balance. That means that if you are 200 lbs, you could get away with consuming as little as 140 grams of protein per day.
Fats are essential nutrients that play an extremely important role in bodily functions.
Things like cushioning internal organs, helping with the absorption of vitamins, hormone production, and more.
Fat intake is directly related to testosterone production. Failing to consume enough fats (from the right sources) will lead to lower levels of this master male hormone.
Carbs are consumed and then stored into the muscle as glycogen.
Glycogen is the body’s primary fuel source used to power your muscles during your weight training sessions. As long as your glycogen stores are nice and full, your energy output capability will be at it’s highest. This simply means that you’ll be able to train at full intensity.
So what happens if you don’t consume enough carbs and your glycogen stores are depleted?
Simple…your workouts suck!
Time for the fun stuff
The formula I am going to share with you is simply a starting point. There may be some trial and error involved but for the most part it should get you pretty close to where you need to be.
Step 1: Protein Intake
To be safe (because there is no negative effect from too much protein), let’s start at 1 gram per pound of bodyweight.
1 X BW (lbs) = Daily Protein Intake
Example: 1 x 200 lbs = 200 Grams
Step 2: Fats
0.4 X BW (lbs) = Daily Fat Intake
Example: 0.4 x 200 = 80 Grams
Step 3: Carbohydrate Intake
Typically I recommend anywhere from 2-3 times bodyweight for your carb intake. This is completely up to the individual. However, for the sake of this example, I’ll meet right in the middle.
2.5 X BW (lbs) = Daily Carb Intake
Example: 2.5 X 200 = 500 Grams
Macronutrient Split Example
Tracking Your Gains
Here’s where the “work” comes in. If you want to ensure that you are building muscle with this formula, you must test it.
1. Weigh yourself every morning for an entire week while adhering to the prescribed macronutrient intake.
2. Get an average of your weigh-ins for that week.
3. Weigh yourself every morning for another week while adhering to the prescribed macronutrient intake.
4. Get an average of your weigh-ins for week 2.
5. Subtract the week 1 average from the week 2 average.
If the average weigh-in has increased, good, keep it there and continue with this intake until you’ve stalled. From there you can increase the calorie intake by about 100 and repeat.
If the average weigh-in has decreased, then this means you are in a caloric deficit and will need more calories to achieve a positive energy balance. Increase your calories by 100-200 and repeat the process.
If the average weigh-in remained the same, then you are at maintenance. Simply increase the calorie intake by about 100 and that should be enough to put you into a caloric surplus where you can start makin’ gains.
Alright…what are you waiting for? Go make some gains!
Too complicated? Don’t have time to track every single macronutrient you consume?
That’s why I created the Lean Mass Meal Plans, strategically thought out, done-for-you meal schedules for anyone looking to put on size without having to calculate everything.
If you’re short on time or would just rather have everything laid out for you, then a strategic meal plan is going to be your best bet.
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