Eat To Grow

There is a very popular question I get asked, mainly by the men out there. "I work out regularly, form is good, getting my protein in, but I'm not getting bigger/stronger, why?". From my experience it tends to be because you're not eating enough.

There is a saying that bounces around bodybuilding forums and twitter accounts - "you gotta eat big to get big", and it is true. If you're still eating 2000-2500 calories per day, but training in the gym to build muscle mass, then you're not going to get big. I think the main reason people don't go straight to 'eating big' is that they're fearful of just packing on fat instead of lean muscle mass, and that's understandable, but not always true. If you have a diet of 3500+ calories per day and most of them come from awful food sources (junk food) then you will still build muscle, but not as much, and you will add on a fair amount of body fat. However, if your diet has the same amount of calories but they come from healthy, lean foods, then you'll build more muscle mass and put on a lot less fat.

I'm sure you have heard the term 'bulking', and that pretty much refers to 'adding mass', mostly muscle but will have some fat. Then the next step would be to 'cut', which is where you perform a lot of fat burning workouts to burn the excess fat you have accumulated. This is a very popular method, but it is possible to build muscle without gaining fat, but you have to be very strict. BUT you still have to eat a lot of food. You need to eat carbs, but my advice is to eat them more on your workout days, and less on your rest days. You need a fair amount of protein, anywhere from 2g per kg bodyweight and up. You want to have protein in every meal, so that you're regularly feeding your muscles so they can repair and grow stronger. Fats - eat them! but mainly healthy fats (avocados for example), and you do need a little amount of saturated fat, but only a little.

I always say that it's very hard to get fat when you eat healthy and lean. So don't fear eating a lot of food as long as it's healthy food. Lots of vegetables (dark green is best), moderate complex carbs, lots of protein from a variety of sources - fish, meat, poultry, beans etc. You should try upping your calories if you're struggling to put muscle mass on. If you're hovering around 2500, try going to 3500. Everyone is different so I can't give the 'perfect amount' of calories that you should consume, so you'll have to experiment a little bit. Being bigger requires more fuel to run, it's the same with a car. If you have a car with a small eco-friendly engine, it won't need that much fuel. However, hop in the driving seat of a Ferrari 458 and you'll be burning a lot more fuel! because it's a bigger, stronger engine. Being a big man requires a lot of food, and that's why guys such as Jay Cutler will be eating over 6000 calories per day.

Give it a try and see how things go. Diet is the one thing that you can always tweak and make adjustments too, so don't just carry on doing the same thing.

Lee Gregory Fitness

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