"Give me a 64-ounce steak, double-baked potato with extra sour cream and an apple pie for dessert. No, not a slice - give me the whole pie, please."
If you have ever had the opportunity to go out with a bodybuilder for dinner, you would be familiar with that kind of order delivered to the distressed waitress. These high-carbohydrate, high-protein, and high-fat diet meals were the popular method for packing on muscle and climbing the scale. "I'll pack on all the weight I can now, then melt off the fat later, " was the common motto.
Many bodybuilders put a lot of focus into the details of their nutritional strategy. A small food scale, calculator, note pad and pencil are common items found in their kitchen. Some competitive bodybuilders go to the extreme of weighing and measuring everything wherever they go and scribbling numbers into their notepad after every meal.
Obviously, not every skinny guy has the same aspirations, desire and determination to live the life of a bodybuilder. Skinny guys will be more successful today if they have a quick and convenient plan to follow that involves minimal measuring and minimal number crunching.
The See Food Diet Is NOT The Answer
The reality is that many skinny guys' nutritional level does not exceed the See Food Diet, that is, 'see food' and eat it. Not a bad option if you can avoid getting a potbelly in the process. If this is you, then consider yourself blessed with a Lamborghini-style metabolism. Go right ahead and eat whatever and whenever you want until you're ready to audition for Rambo IV.
For the most part, the See Food Diet is typically not the most healthy meal plan since it puts zero restrictions on any food categories and is more a concept to shift a skinny guy's mind-set than anything else.
These days, the majority of readers should know the fallacy of a See Food Diet. Sure, you can eat a super high calorie diet, like the See Food Diet, and add some muscle, but you'll add even more fat. And from personal experience, and I'm sure many of you can personally testify, putting the fat on is much easier than taking it off!
Conveniently, bodybuilders now have an "off-season shape" card to flash year-round to excuse themselves of looking like a pregnant powerlifter.
Muscle-Building Nutrition Principles
Mastering the principles of nutrition should be like mastering the principles of training - simple. Master the basics and execute them consistently. Think about the 80/20 rule. 80% of your results will come from 20% of your knowledge. Taking what you already know and putting it into action consistently is the magic formula. Let's go over the most important nutrition principles you'll need to practice to get your body growing.
1 Eat Often - Every 2.5 To 3 Hours
Don't expect to pack on quality mass - muscle without body fat - on three square meals a day. This would lead to massive quantities of both protein and carbs at each meal. Your body can only store so many calories per meal, so guess what this results in? Bloating, poor digestion and unwanted body fat.
Your first meal should be consumed within 15-30 minutes of waking up and consumed every 2.5 to 3 hours. Set your stopwatch to beep until you get something in your body. Don't view these meals as burdensome but as opportunities to fuel and grow your muscles. Look at them as growth surges. Think of the next meal as a fuller chest, broader shoulders, bigger arms and rock-hard abs!
And if you miss a meal, visualize a sea of piranhas eating up your muscle tissue like it's an all-you-can-eat buffet. And those deadly piranhas are eating up your CURRENT muscle that you are not even satisfied with. They are actually making your muscles smaller.
No, you will not lose an inch on your arms if you miss one meal, but once you start averaging 3-4 instead of 6-8 meals a day, don't be upset when people look surprised when you tell them you work out with weights regularly!
So how many meals should you be eating? That's easy - just divide the time you're awake by 2 or 3. I would suggest mastering eating every 3 hours before you consider every 2 hours. So if you're awake 18 hours a day, eat 6 meals.
What if one of those meals falls right before bedtime? Then eat up! Take the opportunity to eat. If we went to the extreme we would eat every 3 hours throughout the night as well. No matter what you have heard on this (never eat after 7 P.M.-garbage) ignore it. Trust me!
Also, don't view these feeding opportunities as 'snacks.' This is a wimpy word mentality that should not be in your vocabulary if you are trying to build muscle. Do you think Ronnie Coleman says, 'Hey, I think I'm going to go eat a snack?' Every 3 hours you should be eating decent size meals that will make your body better.
2 Eat A Variety Of Foods
It is easy to get into a robotic state of nutrition where we eat the exact same foods every day, ingesting the same breakfast, lunch and dinner and the only time we eat differently is when we go out for dinner or someone else cooks for us. It is easier to choose convenience over variety.
Just like our training that we rotate around to prevent boredom, you should rotate your food selection. Normally, you will eat whatever is in your house, so the best strategy to eating a healthy variety is to shop for different foods each week. This will help balance out your diet and help you measure the response a variety of foods. Don't go for the boring and easy route.
3 Eat Enough Calories
Building muscle is an eating game because your muscles grow on calories. Not eating enough calories is like an attempt to buy a $50, 000 car with only $25, 000 in the bank. It's not going to happen. If you are not gaining at least 1-2 pounds per week, then add some extra carbohydrates and proteins to your breakfast, pre-workout meal or post-workout meal.
THERE IS NO WAY AROUND THIS STEP. Even if you have the perfect training routine, you will never grow unless you provide your body with the proper amount of nutrients. It's like saying you want to build a house but you do not have enough bricks, cement and wood.
It will be impossible to build that house. It's like saying you want to race a car as fast as possible but you don't have any gasoline or oil. It's downright impossible.
If you wish to ensure that your muscles have enough fuel to support your workouts - lift heavy weights for high reps, recover from workout to workout and, let's not forget, GROW NEW MUSCLE - then you have to keep track of what you are eating every day.
There is no way around it. This is the number one reason why skinny guys never gain weight or why anybody for that matter will not make quality gains that they so desperately strive for.
Keeping track of what you eat is a lot easier than it sounds - it's probably why most people avoid it, because they perceive it to be difficult.
Sure, you're going to have to take some extra time to read containers and labels, but if this method will promise another 20 pounds in a few months from now, is it not worth it? And the good news is that your brain will create a new file to store all your new nutrient calculations, and since you are eating from the majority of the same foods, your 'memory food bank' will expand quickly.
4 Eat 40-60 Grams Of Protein Per Meal
Building muscle is not on your body's 'to do' list - simple survival is. Not getting enough protein for your internal organs results in your body robbing it from your muscle tissue. Your body cannibalizes itself for the amino acids it needs! This is the polar opposite of what skinny guys want.