The 14 ultimate tips to getting BIG

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You’re ready to get big, to tackle the weights four, five, even six days a week, but don't have the nutritional know-how to adequately fuel your body. To the rescue comes this mass-mustering nutrition bible that you will refer to again and again in your quest to pack on mass, providing the tools and techniques you need to move your body into an anabolic state, that magical place where the body lays down new muscle tissue, increasing your bodyweight, size and strength.

1. PROTEIN IS THE FOUNDATION
You can’t build a house without adequate raw materials, and it’s pretty much the same with building muscle. Amino acids, the small components of protein, are commonly referred to as ‘building blocks’ because they’re used to build and repair muscle tissue. Protein is also special because it contains nitrogen; researchers often use nitrogen balance studies to determine whether the body is in that magical ‘anabolic state.’ Simply put, if the body is holding more nitrogen than it’s excreting, you’re on track to adding muscle mass, ie: in an ‘anabolic state.’

Lower-fat sources of protein include chicken, fish, lean steak, whey protein powders and low-fat dairy products such as cheese, yogurt and milk. For people who don't tolerate the lactose or casein in dairy products, a high-quality whey protein (such as Promax) is virtually lactose-free. To get your fill, aim for 1-1.5 grams of protein per pound of bodyweight, evenly spread over 5 to 6 meals each day. This can maximise absorption while minimising bloating. If you weigh 190 pounds, for example, you would need at least 190 grams a day, 38 grams in each of five meals or 32 grams in each of six meals.

2. CARBS COMPLEMENT
Two words: glycogen and insulin. Glycogen is the body’s storage tank of carbohydrates, located in your muscles and liver. When you eat plenty of carbs, these energy tanks fill up and encourage the body to hold onto protein and build new muscle. When you skimp on carbs, the tanks empty quickly, causing protein (and muscle) to be burned for fuel and thus not available for the muscle-building process.

Carbohydrates also increase the natural release of a hormone called insulin, touted as one of the body’s most potent anabolic or tissue-building hormones. Insulin is quite versatile, driving amino acids and glucose into muscles to facilitate repair and Recovery. For building your physique, you’ll need to make carbohydrates the main ingredient in your nutrition plan.

3. CALORIES ARE ANABOLIC
“A big mistake bodybuilders make is eating enough protein but not enough calories,” warns Bonnie Modugno, a registered dietitian. Calories are directly related to how your body uses the protein you eat. That is, when calories remain consistently high (slightly surpassing your daily energy requirements), protein is used to build muscle. If calories remain consistently low, your body burns dietary protein - the protein you eat - as well as muscle tissue made of protein!

One way to keep your calorie level adequate is to follow a higher-carbohydrate diet. Start with 350 to 500 grams of carbohydrates a day depending on your size and activity level, then use the bathroom scales. If your weight isn’t moving up each week, you don’t have enough calories. To grow, so you can increase your carbohydrates another 100 grams each day to increase your calories.”

4. BE FAT-FRIENDLY
Where does dietary fat fit into the mass-building equation? Aside from contributing calories, the answer has to do with hormones. Udo Erasmus, author of Fats That Heal, Fats That Kill notes, “Men who are deficient in essential fatty acids can suffer lowered testosterone levels.”

Testosterone is the male hormone that helps men build stronger and bigger muscles. Pro bodybuilder Milos Sarcev clarifies: “Yes, dieting bodybuilders can control calories by limiting their fat intake, but for those trying to get big, fat is important. It provides extra calories, which spare glycogen stores. Some fat may actually aid glycogen formation.” You also need some dietary fat to utilise the fat-soluble vitamins.

Some research suggests that omega-3 fatty acids, found in salmon and flaxseed, for example, improve glucose tolerance. That is, the fat can enhance the body’s ability to remove glucose, the basic unit of carbohydrates, and store it as muscle glycogen. For big gains, consume salmon, mackerel or sardines 2 to 3 times a week (or a good omega-3 rich product, such as Maxi-EFA), and maintain a moderate-fat diet by including red meat and egg yolks, mixing one whole egg for every 3 to 4 egg whites, and sprinkling a small handful of nuts or seeds into a salad or your rice.

5. VARIETY IS VITAL
Though many bodybuilders fill up on carbohydrates and protein and eat the right kinds of dietary fat, many follow the same approach every day, using and re-using one or two menu plans. The danger here is failing to consume a variety of foods, especially fruits and vegetables. Fruits and veggies contain an assortment of phytochemicals that strengthen the immune system, ward off pathogens and, overall, keep the body fine-tuned and healthy. Tip: If you’re dieting, why not eat the odd apple during the day (the Braeburn variety are great), as the high fibre content offers a great way to reduce appetite, hunger and curb binges.

Include at least three servings a day of fruit and another three servings of vegetables. Mix blueberries, a banana, strawberries or sliced melon into your yogurt, oatmeal or protein shake. Add 50g to 75g of broccoli, cauliflower, mushrooms or chopped onions and peppers to your rice or pasta. Have at least one large salad each day, preferably topped with a salad dressing made with extra-virgin olive oil or a cold-processed vegetable oil.

6. DENSE FOODS PUT ON WEIGHT
To follow a higher-calorie diet plentiful in carbs, focus on carbohydrate foods that are dense in carbs. Dense mass-building carbohydrates include mashed potatoes, pasta, rice, raisins, honey, whole-grain pancakes, bagels, fig rolls, semolina and ripe bananas. These types of foods let you meet your daily carbohydrate quota without getting so full (as with high-fibre vegetables) that you fail to eat enough.

7. POST-WORKOUT MEALS ARE PARAMOUNT
Hardcore training is a paradox of sorts: while training stimulates new muscle growth, working too long and hard can cause an increase in the catabolic hormone cortisol, glucagon and catecholamines, three hormones that may trigger the burning of glycogen, amino acids and muscle tissue. That’s where fast-digesting carbohydrates, sometimes called high-glycemic carbs, fit in. High-glycemic carbohydrates consumed immediately after your workout help reverse the muscle unfriendly effects of the three hormones by causing a quick surge in insulin. Insulin kick-starts recovery by suppressing the hormones that may oppose growth and recovery.

8. MULTIPLE MEALS ARE A MUST!
Bodybuilders were the first athletes to incorporate the five, six and even seven meals a day as a nutrition strategy because they found it produced better results. Dividing your food into multiple meals helps avoid those awful crashes in energy during the day. You feel better and you don’t get bloated from eating large amounts in just a few meals.

Eating throughout the day provides a nearly non-stop influx of amino acids from protein, and glucose from carbohydrates. Amino acids help repair muscle tissue and glucose keeps insulin levels elevated, which prevents muscle breakdown while enhancing the formation of glycogen (which is the stored form of glucose). On the other hand, consuming the same amount of food in three or four bigger meals can cause an increase in bodyfat and promote rapid changes in blood sugar levels - which can leave you tired and weak. Think grazing theory – small and often to create a fast metabolic rate.

9. USE A VITAMIN C&E COCKTAIL
While a variety of fresh food choices, including plenty of fruits and vegetables, ought to supply a healthy amount of vitamin C, some research shows a larger amount might help. In one study, weightlifters taking 1000mg of vitamin C a day demonstrated lower levels of cortisol. Cortisol is generally thought of as a muscle-wasting hormone that can increase significantly with hardcore training.

Another study showed that bodybuilders using 1000 IU of vitamin E daily experienced a decrease in Creatine kinase activity, a marker of muscle-fibre injury. This leads many to surmise that a higher amount of E might combat muscle cell damage and free radical production, and thereby enhance recovery and boost the immune system.

10. PUT Creatine AND GLUTAMINE TO WORK
Creatine is one of the best supplements - it can increase power, delay fatigue and increase protein synthesis. In short, it works. Next seems to be glutamine. This amino acid supports the immune system, the complex web of defence inextricably linked to recovery. Glutamine also supports the formation of muscle glycogen and controls muscle-wasting cortisol. One study showed that those deprived of glutamine will fail to grow regardless of calorie and carbohydrate intake. The best time to use these two supplements is immediately after training, with a high-carbohydrate meal. A high-carb intake spikes insulin levels, which facilitates the storage and use of Creatine and glutamine, trapping water within muscle cells to aid growth, recovery and repair. Try 3 to 6 grams of Creatine and 5 to 10 grams of glutamine.

11. USE THE SCALES
Your bathroom scales are directly tied to your carbohydrate intake. How? If the scales are moving up one-half to 1 pound a week, you’re eating sufficient carbs. If the numbers aren’t budging, you aren’t eating enough to support your training and growth. Depending on your activity and individual metabolism, set your sights on 2 to 3 grams of carbohydrate per pound of bodyweight daily. The 190-pounder would need 380 to 570 grams daily. If that doesn’t cause a weekly increase on the scales, move your carbs up by one-half gram. That is, if you were eating 2 grams per pound of bodyweight, go to 2.5, but…

12. MAKE SURE YOUR GAINS AREN'T JUST FAT
You can use more than one method of feedback to tweak and customise your mass-building plan. Skinfold callipers indicate your muscle-to-fat ratio, or how much of you is muscle and how much is fat. In gaining 10 pounds of bodyweight, expect some of that weight to be bodyfat; shoot for a 2:1 ratio, two parts muscle to one part fat. If you want to add 12 pounds, you can expect to gain 8 pounds of muscle and 4 pounds of fat.

Skinfold measurements done by someone skilled in using callipers will indicate whether you’re heading in the right direction. For example, if you gained 2 pounds over a 2 to 3-week period and realise 11/2 pounds are muscle with one-half pound fat, you’re making great progress. If you gained 1 pound of muscle and 1 pound of fat, you know your overall carbohydrate and calorific intake is too high, pushing up fat levels on par with true muscle gains. Sounds like too much hassle? Why not buy one of those bodyfat percentage scales that can electronically tell you what level of bodyfat you have. They work very well unless you're a competitive bodybuilder and have very low bodyfat. Stick to a good brand, like TANITA.

13. DRINK ENOUGH WATER
Failing to drink adequate liquid can affect your gains in mass. How so? Water comprises up to 75% of the body, and maintaining a hydrated body aids growth. When the body becomes dehydrated, water leaves muscle cells and can initiate a trigger that sends the body into a muscle-wasting state. In fact, one way that Creatine and glutamine work is by hyper-swelling the muscles with fluid. They pull water into muscles, which may provide an anabolic stimulus for growth.

14. EAT MEAT
Talk about coming full circle: bodybuilders in the ’60s and 70s lived on red meat, while the cholesterol awakening of the ’80s and early ’90s left bodybuilders scrambling for ultra-low-fat protein foods including egg whites, tuna and chicken breast.

Red meat is back and with good reason. Lean cuts yield nearly as little dietary fat and cholesterol as chicken breast. When it comes to energy-producing B vitamins, including B12, plus Creatine, iron and zinc, red meat has no parallel. Important catalysts for growth, B12, iron and zinc support cell growth and the development of red blood cells. Zinc is required to manufacture testosterone, the male hormone that impacts muscle strength and size. So if you want to get big, eat big, but eat smart to build lean, hard muscle.

SOURCE: Muscle & Fitness

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Dave Prevel.  - Mr   |.
Whilst I fully agree with these 14 top tips, in order to gain some serious size,
one needs to utilise the basic moves in the gym wih the intention of adding
weight to the bar each week. (If only a kilo or two).
In addition, adequate
sleep is vital along with sound nutrition in order to fully recover and grow.
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