How to Build Massive Muscle: A Master Class (Part II)
In Part I of this piece, I discussed some “Training Tactics” you can use in order to keep your gains in muscle and strength moving forward in an efficient and consistent manner. However, what you do in the gym is only one piece of the puzzle! So now we will explore a few valuable tips on diet/nutrition that will work synergistically with your training, bringing the whole picture more clearly into place.
Nutrition Nuggets: Just as you cannot construct a house without the energy to use the tools, or without the bricks to build its structure, you cannot maximize your muscle mass without the right foods (and timing of nutrients) to fuel your workouts and create new lean tissue.
Protein is King
This is perhaps the most important advice I can offer. Protein is required to repair and build new muscle tissue. Not consuming enough can hinder your gains no matter how well thought out your training and supplementation programs are. But, how much is enough? For most trainees, at least 1 gram of protein per lb. of bodyweight should be consumed daily. In my experience, however, more rapid gains in size and strength are achieved when intake is closer to 1.5-2.0 grams per lb. It is also vital that you spread your protein over 6-8 daily meals rather than 2 or 3.
…more rapid gains in size and strength are achieved when intake is closer to 1.5-2.0 grams per lb.
This way your body will have amino acids readily available throughout the day for continuous growth and repair. In addition, you can more efficiently digest smaller, more frequent protein feedings than overly large portions. Some of the best protein sources include chicken, turkey, red meat, cottage cheese, eggs, fish, buffalo, venison and milk. I also highly recommend the use of top quality whey isolate 1-2 times per day, and micellar casein before bedtime.
Most gym rats assume that they need to carb-load in the meal immediately preceding their workout in order to have enough energy available for heavy lifting – but, this is not always the case. If your goal is to simply pack on mass and weight, with no concern for what your body fat percentage is, then by all means, go ahead and have some easily digested protein along with a large helping of quality carbs about 60-90 minutes before hitting the gym. However, if you are looking to build muscle while maintaining or burning body fat, then I encourage you to replace those carbs with some healthy fats (nuts or nut butters, olive or coconut oil, avocado) instead.
Simply stated – when you consume carbs before training you effectively shut down fat burning by increasing insulin, lowering growth hormone, and allowing the body to use circulating sugars as its primary energy source. But, when you go carb-free at the pre-workout meal, insulin levels will drop, GH (a very powerful fat-incinerating hormone) levels will rise, and your body will utilize stored glycogen and body fat to fuel all of those intense muscle contractions. Additionally, from personal experience I can tell you that once you get used to eating only protein and fats before training, you will have greater mental clarity, increased energy, and longer lasting muscular endurance, with no mid-workout, low blood sugar crashes.
The Post-Workout Feeding
In the 30-minute period immediately following an intense workout there is a profoundly important opportunity available to help maximize muscle growth. In fact, the post training meal (and its timing) is the most essential “feeding” of the day for any serious bodybuilder or athlete. Immediately after a workout, your muscles are not only starving for both protein and carbohydrates, but your entire metabolic machinery is “set-up” to drive the storage of nutrients (amino acids, sugars, creatine, etc) almost primarily toward muscle tissue (and not toward fat cells).
In order to take full advantage of this “anabolic window” it is advisable to consume both a fast-acting, easily digested, low fat source of both protein and carbohydrates within 30 minutes of completing your final set.
In order to take full advantage of this “anabolic window” it is advisable to consume both a fast-acting, easily digested, low fat source of both protein and carbohydrates within 30 minutes of completing your final set. Depending on your size/weight, goals and overall dietary regimen, you should aim for approximately 30-50 grams of protein and 60-100 grams of carbs at this meal. Optimal protein sources include egg whites, turkey breast and white fish, although nothing is superior to whey protein when it comes to quickly flooding the system with vital amino acids. As for carbs, white potatoes, white rice, bagels, and rice cakes are excellent, although there now exists scientifically engineered powdered carbohydrate sources designed specifically to maximize post workout glycogen/nutrient storage into muscle cells.
Middle of the Night Muscle Making
Most bodybuilders and athletes that I know drink large volumes of liquid throughout the day. Because of this, there is often a need in the middle of the night to use the restroom to get some relief! If this sounds like you, then I recommend that you take this opportunity to stave off catabolism (the breaking down of muscle tissue) by quickly chugging down a protein drink before returning to bed.
If, however, you are able to consume a protein drink consisting of 50% whey and 50% micellar casein at this point, you will effectively halt the flood of cortisol.
Since we are effectively “fasting” for 7-8 hours when we sleep at night, we can begin to enter a catabolic state about halfway through, which can have a negative affect on muscle growth. If, however, you are able to consume a protein drink consisting of 50% whey and 50% micellar casein at this point, you will effectively halt the flood of cortisol. Now, if you are someone that regularly sleeps through the night, I would not interrupt your rest by setting an alarm just to get in some protein. This little muscle-saving tip is reserved only for those of us whose bladders have little to no patience, even while we are dreaming!