“I eat so much but I never gain any weight!” – we hear it all the time.
The problem with this statement is that it’s really common, and it’s also totally untrue (short of serious illness). The tough reality is that you’re not a “hard gainer”, you’re just not eating enough for your physique and lifestyle.
Today, we’re going to take the difficulty out of gaining muscle for all you guys who simply can’t get weight to stick.
#1 Get your Priorities Straight
This is key – if you’re going to worry about gaining weight, your priority list needs to look like this: Calories, Protein, then everything else. If you hit your goals for these two, you’re going to gain muscle and strength – it’s the easiest formula we can give you.
Calories are fuel for recovery, while proteins are the basic building block of muscle, so you need to get plenty of both. This turns your body into the perfect environment for growing new muscle and is especially important around your workouts.
You can worry about everything else after you’ve hit these goals – they’re absolutely necessary.
#2 Stop Worrying about Eating Clean
If you’re trying to gain weight, you need calories. You don’t need to eat clean – getting your calories from plain chicken breast and brown rice is going to be a real challenge.
Instead, get a good basis of healthy foods, all the vitamins and minerals you need, then pile the calorie-dense foods on top of it. Eating more isn’t unhealthy if you’re using it to recover from training and build muscle.
Let yourself eat that PB&J sandwich, pizza, or stack of nachos.
#3 Get your Calories in (a few Simply Hacks)
So, how do you eat more?
Shakes are a popular way to start because it’s easier to drink your calories than eat them. The speed of digestion and lack of chewing slow down your “fullness” signals. A good oat, banana, nut-butter, and protein shake is a great way to add 100s (if not 1000s) of calories to your diet.
Another easy way to get them in is to make sure you’re adding a lot of fats to your diet. Fat’s don’t make you fat, they’re just a dense fuel source. They provide 9 calories per gram, which is more than twice as much as carbs of proteins. A few spoonfuls of nut butter, a tablespoon of olive oil, or an extra handful of cheese can add easy calories.
Choosing fattier cuts for your favourite “clean” foods is also a great idea. Thinking of chicken breast for protein? Switch it up and go with thighs, or even switch to a fattier meat altogether. These small changes add up over a few weeks and you’ll definitely have an easier time hitting your goals and building muscle.
#4 Up the Frequency
The amount of food you’re going to have to eat to get stronger and more muscular can feel like a challenge. You’re going to feel stuffed if you force down super-sized meals.
It works, but it’s tough and awful and we don’t recommend it.
Instead, eat more meals. This is an easier way of dealing with fullness signals and having to push food down when you’re already hungry – it’s like not being able to eat when you’re hungry, but way worse!
Eating 4-6 meals a day might sound awful, but it’s not that hard. That’s 3 normal meals, 1 decent-sized snack, and one of the shakes we discussed above. You can keep everything else the same, add these medium-sized meals, and you’ll be well on your way to a muscle-gaining diet.
#5 Prepare to Win on the Go
Whether you’re trying to gain or lose weight, the way that you plan and execute is key.
One of the biggest problems for both these types of diets is a lack of forward planning. You need a rough idea of foods you can grab on the go. This is key if you have a stressful job, family, or other intense time commitments.
This doesn’t just mean fast food – you’ll be able to grab staple foods from a local store. If you’re not prepared, you’re going to default to your local junk food joint. This isn’t the end of the world, but it’s unpredictable and you’re not going to be able to keep up with your food-intake as reliably.
If you keep control over your diet, you’ll have reliable results. Be prepared, have a plan – make it easy for yourself.
#6 Supplement Your Results
Supplementation is the last real concern you should have. One option is using a mass gainer shake for extra calories, protein, and ultimately muscle gains. If you want the best, our friends at KickAssHomeGym put together a guide to the best mass gainers on the market.
One we’d recommend for everyone, however, is Creatine. This is a crucial supplement for health and wellbeing, but it also plays a key role in fuelling your workouts, keeping you stronger for longer, and it indirectly aids muscle growth.
It’s healthy, cheap, easy, and its borderline vitamin-status for the many health and performance benefits it brings. A key supplement for boosting physique and performance results.
Supplements are great when used properly, but they’re not much use if your diet isn’t locked in. Focus on the basics first, and these supplements will provide you with an edge, but they’re not a magic bullet.
You can’t out-supplement a bad diet!
The Bottom Line
The overall theme of this advice is simple: use strategies, planning, and simple facts of nutrition to make gaining muscle much easier.
You need to prioritise your intake, deal with the challenges presented by reality, and the types of specific foods you should be using to get ahead. It’s a really simple process, but not an easy one.
Stick with these tips, and let us know about your experiences!