Since I started bodybuilding I have been asked the same questions “How did you gain so much muscle”. The answer, not supplementation (this comes later) or long unnecessary hours in the gym. But DIET!
Ectomorphs have a naturally fast metabolism which breaks down foods very fast, which allow them to eat moderate amounts without increasing their weight or size. This compared to a normal person makes it difficult for them to gain little, if any size at all! So the question is… How does an ectomorph gain size?
Well shockingly the answer is through diet. There are lots of misconceptions about calories. Calories in vs calories out are all good when it comes to losing weight and excess fat, but not so good when it comes to gaining muscle. Yes we need more calories to build muscle, but a calorie from a protein is going to be 100% more efficient for building muscle than a calorie from fat. You need to be eating a lot more calories than your TDEE (total daily energy expenditure). For example, the average person (male and female) would need about 2000 calories a day to maintain their weight, but if you increase that by 250 calories, you’re going to have more energy to build more muscle. But these calories have to be the right calories.
Look at this way. If you ate a chocolate bar that contained 200 calories, most of those calories would come from the sugars and fats in the cocoa. But, if you look at 150g of chicken breast, it has about the same amount of calories as the chocolate bar, but if we dwell deeper into the chicken breast, we can see that most of the calories come from protein. And as we all know, protein is what helps repair broken muscle tissue which helps us gain muscle size. The different nutrients hold different values of calories per gram (carbohydrates-4calories, proteins-4calories, fats-9calories) so make sure that your consuming the right calories from the right places!
Another thing to look at if you’re an ectomorph looking for size is the calorie density of foods. If we looked at 100g of pasta, and 100g of broccoli, which has the more calories? The pasta of course! And if we compared the serving size of 100g of each, there is obviously more broccoli than pasta, meaning that we can eat more pasta than we can the broccoli before our stomachs start to fill, meaning you can consume more calories that are needed to help build muscle
Also, the amount of protein you consume can really affect how much muscle you build (as protein repairs muscle tissue). As bodybuilders, we tend to need a lot more than the average person (about 1.5g of protein per pound of bodyweight). And at first, this may seem rather a lot, but if you try to consume a fistful of protein at every meal then it’s doable which leads me on to meals and meal timings.
When you’re trying to consume so many calories in a day, it’s not easy. The best way to do this is to split those 3 meals you have a day, into 6 smaller meals. With each smaller meal try and consume a fist size portion of protein, a fist size portion of carbohydrates and a third of your plate with some sort of green vegetable for fibre. Also, a small tablespoon of healthy fats (from nut butter or olive oil). This will help you not only help you increase the amount of calories you consume throughout the day, but will also satisfy your taste buds so that you don’t snack on unwanted calories like chocolate bars or crisps.