RULE #1: CALORIES COUNT
When it comes to packing on the pounds, it’s vital that you become a dedicated calorie counter. Regardless of whether the food you’re eating is in the form of protein, carbs or fat, your body first considers them for the fuel they provide to perform basic physiological functions, such as body temperature regulation, muscle repair and even the digestion of food.
If you’re a hardcore bodybuilder who trains at least an hour a day, your body will require 19-20 calories per pound of bodyweight on training days, and that’s just to maintain the muscle you have. You actually need to eat about two or three calories per pound of bodyweight more than this (21-23 calories) to gain mass. On rest days, you’ll need about 16-18 calories per pound of bodyweight to maintain your muscle mass. Sticking with that will ensure that you gain lean muscle without excess bodyfat on rest days.
RULE #2: CARB-UP
Carbs are very important for packing on mass. They not only help drive up levels of the anabolic hormone insulin, but they also load your muscles with glycogen (the stored form of carbs), which is important for two major reasons.
First, glycogen keeps muscles big and full. Glycogen pulls water into muscle cells, which fills them up like water balloons. Second, muscle levels of glycogen are an important indicator of whether you have enough energy to build muscle or whether you need energy (by breaking down muscle protein) to fuel your body’s functions. When your muscles are full of glycogen, as happens during a high carb diet, your body has the energy needed to grow; when glycogen levels are low, the body breaks down muscle for use as fuel.
On workout days, shoot for about 2.5 grams of carbs per pound of body-weight. On rest days, you won’t need as many carbs — slice your intake in half to 1-1.25 g of carbs per pound of bodyweight. For most meals, choose slow-digesting carbs such as oatmeal, whole-wheat bread and yams.
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