As every hard gainer will know, one of the hardest things to do in bodybuilding is adding quality mass. Now when I say quality mass I don’t mean piling on the pounds around your waist and claiming to be Arnie just because you weight what he did. To many people the concept of adding muscle without fat is the perfect goal. I would have to agree. However doing this is very hard and many people fail, through adding too much fat or not adding muscle. The fact of the matter is in order to add muscle you need calories! These calories come from protein, carbs and fats. It is the quality of these 3 ingredients that determine what type of mass you will add. So lets get down to it. What type of each nutrient is needed and when? Where can you find these nutrients in food? And most importantly for anyone on this site, what supplements can give you these key nutrients to allow for growth?
There are many hundreds of different products on the supplement market today claiming to drastically increase muscle mass and add 14lbs in a month. However without proper nutrition you will not add a single pound of muscle. All of these products like creatine, test boosters etc will indirectly affect muscle mass by allowing you to train harder, or increase the quality of sleep, or increase protein synthesis allowing for greater use of these key nutrients. But the only things that will directly increase mass are these nutrients.
Protein – Protein is made up of amino acids. Amino acids are the building blocks of our bodies. Muscle tissue relies on an intake of amino acids in order to grow. If this intake of amino acids is not sufficient then you will never be able to increase muscle mass substantially. This is why protein is the key nutrient where bodybuilders are concerned. There are many types of protein, of which vary in digestion rates, biological value and amino acid profile. The highest BV of any protein is from whey protein isolate so is the most effective protein and also is the fastest acting. This makes it extremely important post-workout. There are other forms such as casein that are much slower acting and therefore perfect before bed. There are 4 calories per gram of protein.
Carbohydrates – In many cases carbohydrates can be misunderstood and often feared. Thanks to the Atkins diet many people believe carbohydrates will simply make you fat. This is most definitely not the case. Carbohydrates are needed for mass gain just as much as protein is. Carbohydrates from the right source at the right time will fuel your body with the vital energy it needs whilst not adding fat. If not enough carbs are intaken to meet the demands needed by the body for energy then protein will undergo gluconeogenesis. This will mean that some amino acids used in muscle growth will be used instead for energy. Carbohydrates come in many forms and are rated on a glycemic index. This GI number rates how much a carbohydrate affects our blood glucose levels. High GI carbs like table sugar (100) will very quickly increase blood sugar levels and thus create an insulin spike. This response in insulin causes the blood sugar and other nutrients to be dragged into the muscle and fat stores. For this reason high GI carbs should be avoided if fat gain is to be avoided. The only times high GI carbs should be ingested is post workout when muscle glycogen needs to be replenished quickly and when an insulin spike is wanted (to shuttle aminos into the muscle). At all other times you should aim to intake low GI carbs like Oats, wholemeal foods, waxy barley starch and fructose. There are 4 calories per gram of carbohydrates.
Fats – Again fats are widely misconstrued as an enemy of a healthy diet. This again could not be further from the truth. There are many types of fat but basically there are good fats and bad fats. Fats to be avoided are fats like saturated fat and trans-fats. They will clog up arteries and increase bad cholesterol. However there are good fats like omegas 3, 6, 9, mono-unsaturated fats and products such as CLA. These fats can reduce bad cholesterol, increase cardiac health and even help drop bodyfat by aiding with the metabolising of bad fats. Products such as CLA have been shown to positively affect muscle mass. A good tip would be to add mild olive oil into your shakes. Mild olive oil is nearly tasteless but contains all of the fantastic quality fats and calories that normal olive oil does. It wont change the consistency of your shakes either. There are 9 calories per gram of fat.
So how should these nutrients be put together to help you add muscle mass without adding too much bodyfat? There are certain ratios you can base your diet on but as you are probably well aware by now, everyone is different so no diet will work for everyone. I generally work by the rule of 40/50/10 for protein, carbs and fats. A man of 200lbs should eat 300g protein per day (the general consensus of belief is that 1.5g of protein per pound of bodyweight will give best gains). This means that you will need 375g carbs and 75g fat. This gives a total of 3375 calories. This should give a fairly decent calorie surplus to allow for the extra energy needed to build quality muscle mass.
So there you have it. If you want to increase lean muscle mass you need to follow these figures but more importantly you will need to make sure you are intaking the correct type of nutrient at the correct time. NO bad fats!! No high GI carbs except post-training!! No carbs before bed! If you can eat small meals every 2 hours and fit in all of the nutrients you need in order to grow you will add lean mass. There is no quick fix and it will take a long time to achieve your goals but the mass you gain will be that of quality muscle, not water and not fat.
Now for the important bit. What supplements will give you all of these vital nutrients whilst following these rules. Weight gain supplements usually are full of cheap high GI carbs and not enough protein or good fats. However there are some products that have your best interests in mind.
With a great ratio of protein, carbs and fats, as well as quality ingredients like fructose and mono-unsaturated fats from olive oil this high protein weight gainer is designed to add quality mass. A product like pharma gain is best used in between meals to allow for correct nutrients to be ingested every 2-3 hours without having to prepare meals this regularly. The pharma gain is great tasting and is a great creamy shake.
Again the instant mass contains a great ratio of protein, carbs and fats. With a blend of fast and slow acting proteins, digestive enzymes and a carb source purely from low GI oats the instant mass is a great tool to help you achieve the lean mass you need. It is great to be taken pre-workout due to the slow release energy. The instant mass tastes fantastic in all flavours and is a great natural shake.