No Products in the Cart
QUALITY NUTRITION FOR QUALITY SIZEWhen it comes to building more muscle, quality nutrition often takes a backseat to ‘anything goes’ nutrition, where the overriding objective appears to be caloric-overconsumption as a way to optimize muscle gains via the (often overblown) benefits of additional weight gain (the rationale being that when at our heaviest we are at our strongest and thus in a better position to grow). While we do have a little more ‘nutritional freedom’ in the offseason, it’s important to note that quality muscle gains are possible only when quality nutrition is emphasized. This is to say that while the offseason affords us the opportunity to consume more of what we enjoy most, we must treat this period the same way we would the pre-contest phase: regimented and focused toward the achievement of a singular goal (in this case, the building of more quality size).
THIS MEANS CONSUMING FOODS THAT ARE DESIGNED TO BOOST ENERGY,enhance strength and augment muscle anabolism. Pizza and ice cream, needless to say, do not fit this category. Such foods may in fact reduce strength and compromise gains (more on this soon) Quality Nutrition for Quality Size. Furthermore, we must not confuse the offseason and pre-contest periods: these are for the most part mutually exclusive and separate training and nutrition strategies must therefore be employed for each. Indeed, for most, shredding is likely to interfere with muscle gains while extreme size-building requires less emphasis on conditioning. If healthy eating is the key to mass building, what nutritional changes must we make to ensure we gain more muscle without the additional fat? And if we are to continue gaining in strength, but not at the expense of our waistlines, how might this be achieved without substantially compromising any hard-won muscularity?
REPAIR IS REPLACED WITH A ‘BULKING’ REGIMEN HEAVY ON NUTRITIONALLY-DUBIOUS, CALORIE-LADEN FARE.Is it any wonder that many lifters, when following such protocols, fail to add an appreciable degree of quality mass during the offseason? But there is a better way forward: a nutritional approach that is simple and easy to navigate and which does not require a radical departure from one’s pre-contest endeavors. To truly excel in the offseason does not mean eating everything not nailed down, nor does it necessitate an obvious increase in bodyfat (those ‘muffin tops’ are hardly appealing nor beneficial from a performance standpoint). So even though the offseason and pre-contest periods do, as mentioned, require different methods (the former focused on pure muscle gains and the latter geared toward extreme definition and muscle maintenance), there can, for those wanting to stay in shape year-round, be some overlap between the two. A such, this article seeks to provide more of a balanced perspective on
HOW BEST TO GAIN MUSCLE, WITHOUT THE ADDITIONAL FAT.While not diverging excessively from most solid offseason plans, the following framework does require a reasonable amount of restraint at the dinner table and ongoing monitoring of bodyfat to ensure muscle gains are of the highest quality. By following the principles and plan below, you’ll not only gain more muscle than ever before but will also be proud of your physique, whether it’s displayed in the offseason or pre-contest.
THE 1G OF PROTEIN PER POUND OF BODYWEIGHT DICTATE REMAINS NON-NEGOTIABLE.However, there is a big difference between sufficient protein and sufficient quality protein. Obviously, a higher quality protein source will result in more impressive gains in lean muscle. It’s also worth remembering that just because the desired ‘protein’ quota for the day has been achieved does not mean all of this protein will lend itself to repairing damaged muscle. In fact, besides inferior sources (like soy and low-grade protein powders) adding to one’s protein quota but not providing a sufficient return on investment, protein (whether high quality or low) remains our hardest-working macro and important to a wide range of biological processes and functions.6, 7
THIS MEANS MUCH OF THE PROTEIN WE CONSUME MAY BE USED TO BUILD ENZYMES, ENHANCE LIVER FUNCTION, TRANSPORT OXYGEN TO TISSUESand assist myriad other functions not directly associated with muscle growth (but nevertheless important for muscle gains). It makes sense, in this regard, to ingest a surplus of compete proteins from a variety of trusted food sources, to ensure muscle tissue is at all times well-nourished and primed for growth. The fact that quality proteins are as important in the offseason as they are pre-contest means we must be aware of deleterious foods which masquerade as high-protein items. Thus, it is imperative that our 1-1.5g (per pound of bodyweight) is secured from sources that have stood the test of time. These include eggs, various meats (chicken, lean beef, and fish), and high-grade supplemental protein formulations (the popular ISOFLEX is as good as it gets in protein supplementation).
FOR OFFSEASON LIFTERS WHO WANT MUSCLE WITHOUT EXCESS ADIPOSE(the subject of this article), the same advice given for protein intake can be given here: strive for quality. Equally important, include carbs and fats strategically, for best results (the plan below gives a good basic idea of how to structure each for optimal body composition and performance gains).
A BIG MISTAKE MANY LIFTERS MAKE IS TO EITHER UNDER OR OVER CONSUME CARBS AND FATS.Mostly this comes from either eating too many caloric dense foods (pizza, ice cream etc) or fearing such nutrients will promote weight gain and cutting them accordingly. Like most things worth pursuing, the solution lies somewhere in the middle. Carbs and fats, it could be argued, are as essential to muscle building as protein is. Both macros (particularly carbs) supply A-Grade energy for blisteringly intensive workouts. In addition, both are packed full of essential nutrients of importance to keeping the body healthy and functioning on all cylinders. For most hard training bodybuilders, a good daily ratio of carbs and fats
RESPECTIVELY, AROUND 50% AND 20% OF DAILY MACRONUTRIENT INTAKEkeeps energy high and the many unique systems of the body functioning correctly. Choose from high quality sources: for carbs, sweet potato, oats, brown rice, green vegetables and smaller amounts of fruit are ideal; for fats, cold water fish, flax seed oil, red meat (for testosterone-boosting saturated fats), nuts, avocados and egg yolks remain superior sources.
THE KEY WORD BEING SMALL; FOR PRACTICAL PURPOSES, NO MORE THAN 16% BODYFAT SO AS NOT TO COMPLETELY OBSCURE MUSCLE DEFINITION.For the majority of lifters, it’s as impossible to stay shredded in the offseason as it is to be on the top of one’s strength game pre-contest. Different rules apply. But, once again, having the green light to consume additional calories is no excuse to gorge to the detriment of performance and physique. To ensure caloric intake is sufficient, monitor bodyfat levels periodically and, again, do not exceed 16%. An increase in strength and lean body mass is also a sure sign that one’s offseason caloric intake is beneficial.
CALLING SUCH ITEMS TREATS, OR EVEN FOODS, MAY ALSO BE MISLEADING.A treat implies a reward that is given for a positive behavior. Here it could be said that the compromising of muscle gains and health and wellbeing do not constitute a reward. But it’s not all doom and gloom. While not directly contributing to muscle gains and increased performance, such calorie-laden fare can provide a welcome break from the “grind” of healthy eating 24/7. Also, such foods may provide a temporary metabolic boost, to kickstart further fat loss. Consume such foods sparingly though, and limit them to 2-3 “cheat” meals (not days) per week.
SUCH SOURCES ARE PRIMARILY LIMITED TO DAIRY PRODUCTS THAT CONTAIN THE UNIQUE PROTEIN, CASEIN.Here, cottage cheese is best as it is healthier than other dairy sources, congeals for longer in the stomach and takes many hours (typically 6-8) to digest. Of course, the best slow-release protein of all is pure casein itself.8, 11
OF THE DIFFERENT TYPES OF CASEIN, MICELLAR IS BESTas it is less rapidly absorbed than the others. The best form of micellar casein remains ALLMAX Nutrition’s CASEIN-FX. Its enzymatically activated absorption rate over a ten-hour period makes it the best ‘before bed’ protein source and the perfect companion for advanced-level recovery and muscle growth. It’s also much better tasting and easier to consume than the comparatively unpalatable cottage cheese.
Article Summary The Fall and Winter months are often associated with an increase in illness...
Article Summary Creatine and BCAAs have both been recommended to athletes as pre-workout supplements. What...
Article Summary There is no one-size-fits-all solution to muscle growth and size gains. Post-workout muscle...