THE POWERFUL MUSCLE and STRENGTH GAIN DIET PROGRAM
Gain in muscle size and strength is the dream of many thin, skinny, ectomorph or underweight persons. Contrary to popular belief, being thin is not being fit. An untrained ectomorph can be underweight yet have high body fat. Due to the general assumption that only overweight persons have health risks, alarm bells don’t ring for such a ‘thin but fat’ person and he/she often falls prey to ‘silent killers’ such as diabetes and heart disease.
Just like fat loss brings an overweight person to the ideal body, muscular development shapes an ectomorph/thin person into an athletic attractive personality. However, unlike fat loss, the aim in a muscle gain program is not an increase in BMR (basal metabolic rate). In fact, these individuals are ‘ectomorphs’ i.e. born with a genetically fast metabolism and pay the price by tending to lose precious muscle. While others envy them for their ability to eat and yet not put on weight, they constantly face an uphill struggle against muscle loss and weakness.
While a strict fat loss diet can yield immediate results, even the best muscle gain regimen may take weeks to reap its rewards. An ectomorph’s high BMR makes consistency and patience a compulsory pre-requisite of every successful muscle gain program.
THE MUSCLE and STRENGTH GAIN FORMULA
Train: Intense Weight training
Intense weight training is the powerful push that tilts the balance from breakdown to growth, i.e. from muscle loss to gain. For a body used to catabolizing muscle daily, the muscle breakdown caused by weight training is so powerful, that it forces the body into growth. Just like a wound forces the body to repair and heal, breakdown or catabolism forces the body into anabolism.
Eat: Adequate Carbohydrate and Protein
Adequate protein is a must for muscle growth since protein is the only nutrient that can repair muscle. The total requirement of protein must be scientifically calculated based on lean body mass and intensity of the weight training and must be met daily with first-class protein. Sufficient carbohydrate has to accompany the protein to feed and satiate the ectomorph’s burning metabolism. Only after the energy needs of the high BMR are met by adequate quantity of carbohydrate, the protein in the diet is totally spared for muscle repair and growth.
Rest and recovery, an integral part of any fitness program, is vital to an ectomorph trying hard to accelerate muscle growth for it to overtake muscle loss. If weight training is breakdown and nutrition is repairing raw material, rest and recovery is the third leg of the tripod of fitness, i.e. the time required for repair and growth.
AN IDEAL MUSCLE GAIN DIET
Muscle gain is achieved by maximizing muscle growth (anabolism) and minimizing muscle breakdown (catabolism):
- MAXIMUM ANABOLISM: Meals every 3 hours throughout the waking hours (total 6-8 meals a day) to ensure a constant supply of carbohydrate for energy or protein for muscle repair
Adequate first-class protein calculated as 1.5-2.5 gm/kg lean body mass (depending on intensity) and distributed equally in each meal, to keep the body in continuous anabolic state.
Keep carbs higher than protein and maintain Protein-Carb ratio in the diet and in each meal such as P:C =1:2 or 1:3 to ensure the carbohydrates are always acting to spare protein for muscle repair. The higher the BMR, the higher the protein-carb ratio needed.
- MINIMUM CATABOLISM: Include anti-catabolic Antioxidants such as 1gm vitamin C and 400IU vitamin E once immediately after workout to fight muscle breakdown due to free radical attack. These may even be taken twice a day to reduce the high catabolism and also to boost low immunity.
Increase intake of water and fluids to 5-6 litres distributed throughout the day. Water also acts as an indirect anti-catabolic. Water is the base that the body builds on, and hydration gives the body space and environment for growth. Dehydration is a state of catabolism and accelerated muscle loss.
Sample Diet Plan
Meal 1: Breakfast: 5-6 tbsp Oats in skim milk + 1 scoop whey protein or weight gainer in skim milk/ 100g cottage cheese/ 4 Egg Whites and 1 Whole Egg
Meal 2: Post-workout Shake
(2 Scoop of Weight Gainer)/ Whey protein Shake + 5 – 6 tbsp. of Glucose in a glass of water/ 3 egg whites and 1 whole egg with 2-4 bananas + 5 – 6 tbsp. of Glucose in a glass of water
Meal 3: Lunch: 3-4 wheat chapatti + 1 bowl green vegetables or salad + 6 egg whites or 1 scoop whey protein
Meal 4: Evening: 2 scoops Weight Gainer/ 100g Chicken Tikka and 2 Chapatis/2 Panner Roll
Meal 5: Dinner: 3-4 wheat chapatti + 1 bowl green vegetables or salad + 1 bowl Skimmed paneer or 1 breast pc Chicken or 100gm Fish or 1 scoop whey protein.
Meal 6: Bedtime: 2 scoops Weight Gainer/1 bowl of high protein curd/yogurt
Please note that supplements aren’t a necessity. I have added the alternatives to suit your personal preference. But personally I would highly recommend you to supplement your daily diet with Whey Protein or Weight Gainers. It helps you repair your muscles fast, provides you with the adequate amount of protein and carbs resulting in faster recovery. Hence faster results.
*Disclaimer: The recommended diet program is not a substitute for any advice given by a qualified nutritionist. It is a general guideline and can be followed only after a complete medical check-up and assessment of individual requirements in consultation with a sports nutritionist.