How to Eat to Gain Muscle

Now that we’ve figured out in the last blog post that it will take me roughly 3000 calories a day to start gaining muscle mass efficiently, it was time to break down exactly what kinds of food I was going to need to consume.

In an effort to make this as simple as possible, I’m going to just tell you what I did and leave it up to you to figure out what would work best for you.

If you do a little research online you’ll find out that a standard ratio of macronutrients is 40/40/20, which means 40% of my diet will consist of protein, 40% carbohydrates and 20% fats. Now, there’s definitely room for adjustment in this ratio, but this was my jumping off point.

So, 40% of 3000 is 1200 calories. If 1 gram of protein is equivalent to 4 calories, that meant I needed to consume roughly 300 grams of protein each day and the same for carbohydrates. 20% of 3000 is 600 calorie. If 1 gram of fat is worth 9 calories, that meant I needed to consume 66 grams of fat per day.

Great! Now all I needed to do was eat 300 grams of protein, 300 grams of carbohydrates and 66 grams of fat! Easy breezy right?  Well, it’s not as easy as you think. Here’s sample menu of the amount of food I had to consume in order to reach my goal.

Food Menu For Weight Gain

This seems like a lot of food, because it is. I realized that on a normal day, before trying to attempt this diet, I would eat around 1800 calories a day, at the most! I had to start planning, way in advance, the foods that I was going to be eating during the week.

For example, all foods that I could cook in advance and just reheat, I would. Oatmeal, Yams and Turkey Burgers were ready to go at a moments notice. The sliced turkey meat was a life saver on many occasions for when I needed something in a pinch.

I know what a lot of you are thinking. “Rob, I would get sick of counting my calories all the time.  I could never do this!”  Here’s what happened with me. I kept a food journal for the first 2 weeks. I left a notebook in my kitchen and as I would eat something I would write it in the book. At first it was tough to eat often enough to make the desired ratio of macronutrients. After a little while I started hitting the numbers and pretty soon it became such a habit that I knew instinctually how often I needed to eat and how much food I needed to get down. After about 2 weeks I ditched the journal and just made it my day-to-day habit to eat around 3000 calories. I started this diet in Mid-September and by the end of December I had gained 25 pounds!

The picture below will show you the physical progression that I’ve made over the last year. In December 2011 I suffered from a herniated disc while training Crossfit. That injury laid me up for about 3 months where I wasn’t able to do any exercise. Since I’ve recovered, I’ve made some significant changes to my workout routine and as you can see, it’s paying off. I have 3 more weeks until I compete in the Men’s Physique competition, but I think I’ll be ready.

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