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Not everyone is required to bulk in order to get great gains in the gym. Some people are able to add good amounts of quality muscle mass to their body without having a large calorie surplus. However for the other 99% of the population bulking to some extent is essential if you ever want to reach your potential. Whilst bulking may be a fairly straight forward process for most people, there are many people out there that find it very difficult to add size no matter what they eat. If you are one of these people then this article is for you.
Junk foods may seem like an easy way to increase your calorie intake but remember there is a reason why they call it junk. Your body will have much lower rates of protein synthesis from a pizza than regular chicken breast. This means that whilst you may see that your junk food is very high in protein your body will not be able to absorb nearly as much as from a quality food. Junk food also contains low quality fats that contain almost none of the great benefits of healthy fats. All this is before we make mention of the food additives, preservatives and hidden sugars that will reduce overall body health and inhibit muscle gains in the longer run.
Eating protein every 2-3hrs will ensure that your body is constantly supplied with fuel to build muscle tissue. This ensures that your body remains anabolic (muscle building) and minimises catabolic time (muscle breakdown). If you are a hard gainer and you think that you can get gains by eating 3 times a day you now know better. Usually eating at least 5 times a day will be essential for hard gainers.
Use supplements to increase your calorie intake. Most people will find that a good 50/50 (half protein, half carbs) weight gainer will give the best results. Your 5+ meals every day does not have to be all whole foods. Hard gainers will usually see best results when alternating food and supplement meals. This means eat a food meal for breakfast then have a shake 2hrs later then food for lunch etc…
Don’t write off fruits and vegetables. The temptation for many people whilst bulking will be to eat only meat and complex carbs like rice, potatoes, pasta and oats. However keeping your body fuelled with vegetables and fruits ensures that you have ample supply of all the vitamins and minerals required to build muscle. Having a deficiency in a particular vitamin can be very detrimental to muscle gains.
Healthy fats are an absolute must in any diet with any goal. Healthy fats will optimise your hormone levels, improve body composition as well as a wide range of other health benefits that will indirectly help bodybuilding.
If you can find a good muesli it will be loaded with nuts, fibre, low GI carbs and dried fruits. Nuts are a great because they are high calorie and contain quality fats. Low GI carbohydrates will ensure that your body is getting the sustained energy required to build mass. Dried fruit contains many essential vitamins and minerals as well as fibre to ensure optimal metabolism and micronutrient supply. You will find that you can easily put away 1000 calories of muesli in the morning for breakfast.
When you are serious about gaining size you can forget separating egg yolks and using only the white. Tossing all your egg yolks is only for overweight people and uneducated bodybuilders. Eggs are loaded with healthy fats and quality protein which is needless to say a great addition to a hard gainers diet. Furthermore eating 6 eggs every day is one of the easiest and most effective ways to raise testosterone levels. Try adding raw eggs to your weight gains shakes or simply cooking and eating the 6 eggs in one meal.
Much like eggs, red meat is also a quality source of protein and fats. Red meat is also very calorie dense which makes it easy to get your body into a calorie surplus without having to force feed yourself large volumes of food. Red meat is high in iron which is important for getting oxygen into growing muscle cells. Red meat is going to be your protein source of choice for the most important meal of the day – your post workout meal.
The best nuts are almonds, cashews, walnuts, pistachios and hazelnuts. They are another dense calorie source that make it easy to raise your calorie intake. Not to mention they are loaded with vitamins and minerals. Best of all though, nuts are very convenient and are a perfect addition to any weight gain shake to increase fibre, healthy fats and calories. Try to eat at least 30g of nuts with every shake and graze on them in between meals.
The whole notion of eating 2 serves of fruit per day will not be useful to a hard gainer. Fruits are high in calories and are again a great source of vitamins and minerals. The best time to eat fruit will be in the morning with breakfast and before and after training. It is not unreasonable to eat close to 5-6 serves of fruit each day when hard bulking.