For hard-gainers, it’s important to increase the consumption of protein-rich foods to gain mass. But bulking up this way can come at a cost: it can increase your risk of cardiovascular disease. The good news is, you can increase your muscle mass without boosting your body fat percentage. Below are simple yet effective tips and tricks for clean gains:
Bring On the (Clean) Calories
If you’re a hard gainer but you’re afraid of going overboard on proteins, we suggest doubling up your caloric consumption instead. The best way to do this is by doubling up your usual portions of food. For example, if you usually eat a serving of chicken breast and vegetables for lunch, make that two servings of chicken breast and vegetables! By doubling your caloric consumption, you can increase muscle mass without the unwanted fat. The key here is to eat foods that are high in calorie but low in fat.
Schedule the Meal Times
To gain mass, you need to eat. And you need to eat frequently! Three square meals per day just won’t cut it if you’re struggling with gains. You need to eat every two to three hours to achieve the best results. 15 minutes after waking up, eat your breakfast. If you keep being distracted during the day and you miss mealtimes, get a timer and set it off every time you need to eat. Choose foods that offer quality nutrients to supply the body of muscle-building nutrients.
After-Work Out Diet
Make it a habit of planning your post-workout meals so they provide a balanced level of carbohydrates and protein. You need carbs and protein to recover from an intense workout. In addition, try to eat an hour and a half before working out. If you don’t like eating before working out, then take a protein shake instead. You need to prep the body so it has enough calories to burn as you exercise.
Choose Your Foods Wisely
To increase your caloric intake, you need foods that are packed with clean calories. These foods provide quick energy, but they are not heavy on the stomach. Foods that are high in volume will weigh you down, making exercising next to impossible. So be selective in terms of foods you eat daily. We suggest adding raw oats, lean red meat, dried fruits, peanuts, and peanut butter to your daily diet.
If you can, avoid foods like whole vegetables, low-calorie soups or cooked oatmeal. These foods are too heavy so they fill you up quickly.
Monitor Your Progress
Always track your progress and your caloric intake. You don’t want to end up bulking up to a point that you start getting fat. Pushing your caloric intake too far will lead to fatty buildup. If you think you’re going overboard with your caloric consumption, just take a step back. Minimize your caloric intake by about 200 calories or 10% of your overall calorie consumption to stop fat gain.
Contrary to popular belief, you won’t lose mass if you incorporate cardio to your fitness repertoire. A cardio workout can increase appetite and improve recovery rate. But it can also boost the metabolic rate, burning off more calories. The key is finding the right balance. You want to add enough cardio to burn off fat but not too intensely that it shrinks your muscles down.