Nearly every bodybuilding mass-gain nutrition plan I've seen has one serious drawback: They require you to weigh and measure every single thing you eat, and then write it down or enter it into a calculator. Some apps make it easier, but weighing that turkey burger, then entering it—and the tomato, mayo, bun, and lettuce—is time-consuming and tedious.
Even food labels can be inaccurate and misleading. The food-labeling guide, from the FDA allows nutrition-fact labels to be off by as much as 10-20%, giving way to even more tracking inconsistencies and headaches.1
Arithmophobia aside, a lot of very successful competitive bodybuilders make just such calculations daily to completely control the calories they're eating. And while that may be necessary for the guy about to step onstage after 12 weeks of dieting, it may seem like too much effort for the recreational lifter.
Fortunately, you don't have to weigh out every single thing you eat in order to gain mass. Let's take a look at an alternate way that simplifies the process a whole lot and still maintains your goal of adding monster size. By following these simple tips, you can attain your goal of monster size without ever busting out a calculator!
The first six steps will help ensure your diet consists of clean, high-quality foods, and the last 10 will help you add the quality calories you need to gain muscle with a minimum of excess fat.
Clean Up Your Diet
Most of us follow fairly well-established routines when it comes to how, when, and even what we eat. The idea here is to take note of those foods, fine tune them a bit with the first six steps below, and watch the scale to see where it's heading.
Unless you're significantly overeating or undereating, the scale probably doesn't move much to the north or south, which is why you're here. You need to fill your diet with the right foods before you begin adding a caloric surplus.
Understand your diet can either maximize—or negate—your training efforts
You may choose a particular food based on how it tastes, but once it's down the hatch, all that matters is its macronutrient profile and the micronutrient content. Remember that food is fuel. It is essential to survival and vital to maximizing your performance and recovery. Eating clean, healthy foods will go further in building your physique than if you rely on processed meals, fast food, and other landmines that dot the typical American diet, which have contributed to building a different kind of physique.
Eating clean, healthy foods will go further in building your physique than if you rely on processed meals, fast food, and other landmines that dot the typical American diet.
Consuming a variety of unprocessed whole foods is a good start to building your nutrition plan. Additionally, making a conscious effort to reduce processed and fast foods as much as possible will go a long way. Be sure to pay attention to portion sizes, cooking methods, and sauce and dressing additions when eating out.
These flavor enhancers should be reduced; however, inclusion of zero-calorie or low-calorie seasonings, dressings, and marinades can be great tools to have in your belt.
Prioritize your protein
Protein is arguably the most important macro for muscle building. That's because protein foods are broken down into individual amino acids, which are then reassembled in your body. The aminos that enter muscle cells can help repair muscle tissue damaged from a hard workout, enabling it to grow larger and stronger.
How much protein do you need daily? The simplest method is to use your body weight in pounds. If you weigh 210 pounds, try to consume around 210 grams of protein per day.
Your main whole-food sources of protein should be animal-based, including beef, chicken and turkey, eggs, dairy, and fish. Choose leaner cuts of beef (opt for "loin" and "round" cuts of steak, which have the lowest amounts of saturated fat) and remove the skin from turkey and chicken.
Fattier cuts of beef like prime rib and rib-eye, as well as higher-fat dairy products, can really boost your daily calories and your fat intake.