With the winter fast approaching we wanted to give a 3 part ‘myth busting’ series on adding muscle in the colder part of the year! Today we will start with nutrition!
For many avid gym goers who make the pilgrimage to the ‘house of pain’ several days a week the winter symbolises a time to grow! With the temperature falling a few notches on the thermostat the weather entices us less, forcing us to wear more layers. Therefore less people tend to care if their abs are on display or hiding and if they have love handles sitting above their hips. For me, this was also my approach but then I changed my outlook. Today I am going to share with you some top tips and 3 of the most common mistakes to avoid with ‘winter bulking.’
Eating to ‘grow’
When people say they are ‘bulking’ they will usually grant themselves a license to eat, eat and eat then eat some more. This is GREAT if the food is right, but often it isn’t! Complex carbohydrates play a vital role in supporting muscle growth; however there is only so much you can eat before it becomes counter productive. By counter productive I mean causing you to gain body fat! In no way shape or form does this help with building muscle; therefore I do not see the point in eating excess calories which will only make you grow fat, not muscle!
Top Tip – even though you are eating to grow, switch your complex carbohydrates such as pasta, rice and potatoes for fibrous carbohydrates in the evening. This way you are you limiting the amount of calories which can be converted into body fat.
Personally I advocate cheat meals simply because without them the majority of people wouldn’t stick to a diet for more than a week. What is more, I am a big believer in having the right balance in your life. However, people tend to abuse this rule in a big way! Although they are a treat, the meal still needs to offer you enough nutrition to stay on track. That means giving you enough protein. Carbohydrates are also important but I would imagine for 99% of you the cheat of your choice will be a ‘carbfest’ anyway! So cheat foods like pizza for example are no good on their own, therefore you need to add some protein whether it means having chicken with it or just a protein shake. Remember, to really get results you have to be making every meal count, and that includes your cheat meals!
Top Tip – schedule yourself one a cheat meal a week on a night where you want to relax, maybe watch a film and spend some time with your loved ones. This way you do not isolate your family and friends which should help keep any conflict at bay in regards to your diet. If possible, make your cheat meal your post-workout meal. Why? Well, because the high sugar and carbohydrate content will be utilised more effectively when your muscles are like a pack of wounded and starving hyenas!
There is a big misconception that to grow you need to eat about 20,000 calories a day in about four meals! OK, maybe that is a bit of a gross exaggeration but you get the point. When you diet to shed body fat you will eat regularly to keep the metabolism firing, your muscle cells full, your blood sugar levels balanced and your insulin levels steady. Why wouldn’t you do this when you are aiming to add muscle? By keeping your muscles full, your blood sugar levels steady and your insulin levels in check you are going to be more anabolic, and you wont get as fat! Your body can only digest and assimilate X amount of food at once, whatever the goal. Therefore, stick to a regular meal frequency plan even when you are striving for mass!
Top Tip – to gain muscle mass eat at least 5 small solid meals a day, and aim for 2 protein shakes. By maintaining your meal frequency you will promote anabolism whilst simultaneously avoiding fat gain.
Remember stick to what works, don’t be tempted to do things which are going to make you gain more fat than you need to! By implementing these 3 common sense tips you should stay well on track this winter!