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Bodybuilding Weight Gain Nutrition

Quality Weight Gain

It seems that on a daily basis, people express their concern to me over not being able to gain weight. This really shouldn't be a major problem. As a matter of fact, once you learn a few basic things, gaining good quality weight is something you can expect to accomplish on a weekly basis.

The first thing you need to understand is that bodybuilding is 75% nutrition and that all you accomplish in the gym is tearing the muscle down. It's what you do the other 23 hours of the day that dictate what's going to happen to that torn down muscle. So in order to facilitate recuperation, and expedite the growth process, it is essential that we focus as much energy and perseverance toward our diets as we do our training. Once you do that, get ready to buy some new clothes.

In order to chart your path toward new muscle growth, I think it is best if we first learn a little about food. For our purposes here, we are going to divide food into three groups; protein, carbohydrates, and fats.


Protein has numerous functions in the body and is in fact probably our most important nutrient because it is found in every cell in the body. Protein is specifically involved in the growth, repair, and maintenance of cells. (This means M-U-S-C-L-E!)

Our preferred sources of proteins are egg whites, skinless white meat chicken, skinless white meat turkey, and fish. For good muscle building purposes, we should be getting 1.25 to 1.5 grams of protein per pound of bodyweight daily. Remember, as your bodyweight increases, so does your need for protein.


Carbohydrates are what provide our body with fuel. They are our main source of energy. During the digestive process, carbohydrates are converted to glucose (blood sugar). Glucose circulates in the blood and is the chief source of energy used by the muscles during the first several minutes of exercise. When glucose is not used immediately, it is stored in the liver and muscles as glycogen.

For muscle building purposes, we should sub-divide carbohydrates into three different categories; simple sugars, starchy carbohydrates, and fibrous carbohydrates.

Simple sugars are constructed of either a single (monosaccharide) or double (disaccharide) molecule of sugar. Starchy carbohydrates conversely are made up of polysaccharides (chains of dozens of glucose molecules). Simple sugars and starchy carbohydrates yield the same amount of food energy, but that is where the similarity ends.

Simple sugars cause a sharp rise in blood sugar which almost always results in your body being signaled to store fat. Polysaccharides on the other hand, provide a slow steady release of blood sugar. Therefore glucose from starchy carbohydrates facilitates a minimum insulin secretion and provides more sustained energy levels.

Fibrous carbohydrates, as their name implies, are high in fiber. Fiber slows down digestion and allows for an even more steady release of glucose.

Preferred sources of starchy carbohydrates include oatmeal, grits, brown rice, potatoes, yams, sweet potatoes, corn, lima beans, kidney beans, peas, lentils, and all legumes.

Fibrous carbohydrates are things like asparagus, broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, carrots, celery, green beans, zucchini, and other salad vegetables.


Some dietary fats are essential in our quest for optimum health and physique development because they furnish our bodies with nutrients known as essential fatty acids or "EFAs". EFAs are involved in numerous important biological functions. For example, EFAs are involved in the production of prostoglandins which regulate nearly every system in our body. These include our cardiovascular, immune, endocrine, digestive, and reproductive systems. EFAs are also essential to keep connective tissues and cell walls strong and healthy.

When following a good "clean" (low-fat) diet, it is usually advisable to supplement in order to insure an adequate supply of EFAs. Preferred sources would be a teaspoon or so of sunflower, safflower, linseed, or flaxseed oil. Evening primrose oil capsules are also recommended and are probably the most convenient way to add EFAs.

Now let's take the above information and formulate a muscle-maximizing meal plan that will work for you. As you are already aware, you just can't gain good quality weight on three meals a day. Plan on having 5 - 7 depending on your schedule. Also be sure and not fall into the "mini-meal" trap. So many people say "Oh, I eat 4 or 5 small meals a day". Mini-meals are only going to lead to a "mini-physique"! Each meal should be of enough portion to leave you at least comfortably full, but weekly you're going to have to add a few calories here and there to keep things moving upward. When involved in a plan to gain good quality weight, we eat when the clock says it's time to eat, not just when we're hungry.

One of the most important things you can do at this point is to begin counting the number of calories, grams of protein, grams of carbs, and grams of fat that you take in on a daily basis. This information will provide you with all you will need to know about gaining good quality weight. As I mentioned earlier, be sure that you're getting at least 1.25 to 1.5 grams of protein per pound of bodyweight. Then fill in the other necessary calories to keep you gaining from starchy and fibrous carbohydrates.

I have used a formula from time to time with individuals to help them arrive at a daily caloric goal and it seems to usually work pretty well. Take your body weight and multiply it X 1.25. This will give you a good starting point for protein. Now take this figure and multiply it X 16 and it will give you a total daily calorie goal. For example, with a 150 lb. individual, the equation would look like this:

150 X 1.25 = 187.5 g of protein X 16 = 3000 total calories

Interestingly enough, if you really break this equation out through all the final stages by using 4 calories per gram of protein and carbohydrates and rounding fats out to 9 calories per gram, you'll notice that the protein intake accounts for 25% of the total calories. Then you should make up about 65 to 70% of the remaining calories from good carbohydrates, and even without adding fats you'll find that they will make up from 5 to 10% of the total calories. I have found the 25-65-10 ratio (protein-carbohydrates-fats) to be most productive in gaining good quality weight.

If you have not been consuming mass quantities of food, then the figure you arrive at with this formula may seem almost unreachable at first. But just remember, Rome wasn't built in a day, and the body you want won't be either.

You should always eat a variety of foods. Contrary to popular belief, a chicken breast with a baked potato and broccoli 5 times a day does not lead to a very well balanced diet. You will always be better off from a standpoint of nutrients, and you won't get bored with your nutritional program if you choose different foods regularly.

One other point that we need to cover to aid you in your meal plan is how to prepare your food so that you're not spending all your waking hours in the kitchen. It's just all too frequent that people use the "I don't have time to cook" routine as an excuse for either stopping for fast food, or not eating at all. This is very easy to overcome. Simply cook in quantity. What I mean by this is that when you're preparing chicken breasts, don't just prepare 2 or 3 that you're going to consume immediately, go ahead and "overcook". I mean prepare 5-7 pounds of chicken. It keeps fine for a few days in the refrigerator and it's there when you need it. Don't just bake 1 or 2 sweet potatoes, bake a whole oven full of them and they are there for you when it's time to eat. Now I hope this last part could go without mentioning but just in case... In order to cook in quantity, you must also shop in quantity.

To illustrate this point, let me close by telling you this little story that actually happened to me a couple of years ago. I was in a local supermarket one evening buying my food for the week (as I always do) and as I loaded my basket full of groceries on to the conveyer at the check out stand, I couldn't help but notice the girl at the register was "giving me the eye" so to speak. She continued to glance at me frequently as she was taking the boxes of rice, bags of chicken, potatoes, and vegetables and running them across the scanner. Then just out of the blue, she stopped, looked up at me and said, "So do you have your own place?". I thought to myself, O.K., I'll nip this in the bud (because I was and still am very happy in my relationship) so I replied, "no, I live with my fiance'". She looked puzzled for a moment, then said, "no, I mean do you own your own restaurant?". "No," I said, "why do you ask that?" "Well," she replied, "it just seemed obvious that you would considering the amount of food you buy here!"

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