Training, lifting weights and just plain old going to the gym to work out probably tops your list of things you enjoy on a daily basis. Working on improving strength, getting that pump going, and seeing your body change from week to week is what motivates us to keep at it. When you start to see that your shirts are fitting tighter on you, the number on the scale is regularly going up and your overall look in the mirror is consistently a bigger, more muscular version of yourself, you know that you’re on the right track and gains couldn’t be better.
What if, however, you’re training like a demon, out-lifting everyone around you and doing all of the things you know you need to do to grow yet nothing is happening?
Well, the good news is that everything you’re doing is still going towards improving yourself, the bad news is that you’re most likely a hard gainer and what and how you eat is going to be a major determining factor in whether you put on size or not.
If what I just described is you, then read on to find out what you can do with your diet to start putting on the size you’ve always wanted.
Strategy #1: Calorie Count
This is going to be a very important step for you to take when trying to figure out how much you actually have to eat. Rather than just assuming you’re eating enough, take the time to figure out how much food you need to consume to put yourself in a caloric surplus. If you don’t know how to do this, find someone who does or use one of those fitness apps that are available and just plug in the numbers.
If you’re just taking a guess at your calories and macro-nutrients when you sit down to eat all of your meals and are hoping for the best, chances are you’re way off and more food is in order.
It never fails, people always over-estimate their protein intake and under-estimate their calorie intake.
Make an effort to know exactly how much protein, carbohydrates, fats, and total calories you take in each meal. You’ll become nutritionally smarter while you are at it.
Strategy #2: More Food Doesn’t Always Equal More Meals
A really great strategy I have found to work for many hard gainers who have wicked high metabolisms is to increase overall calories without adding in more meals to the plan. For example, most meal plans revolve around let’s say on average six meals per day. That’s a good number that can usually accommodate a higher caloric intake.
The problem with this is that if you eat six meals a day then you’re most likely eating every 2 1/2 to 3 hours which is exactly the type of protocol you want to support or induce a fast metabolism so that practice can become counterproductive.
Instead, I have found that for a hard gainer, eating 4 larger meals per day that gets all the calories in actually slows their metabolism down enough to let the food do its job in building new mass versus just getting burned upon entry.
Strategy #3: Support From Your Supplements
People who are hard gainers usually find it very difficult to eat the amount of food it requires for them to get into a surplus and start putting on weight. Many times meals go unfinished simply because as hard as they try to force-feed themselves, feeling full and even feeling sick tends to set in and no more food is able to go in.
In these situations, getting support from your supplements is key and will be a game-changer.
Eating something like 40-50 grams of protein per meal is no easy task when it’s all coming from a whole food source such as chicken or beef. Drinking that much, however, is much easier. So in these situations, you have two choices: drink the required amount of protein for the meal by using a high-quality whey isolate such as VP2 Whey Isolate or eat some of the required protein through whole food and wash it down with the remaining protein through your VP2 shake. Either way is totally acceptable and an easy way to get the most effective protein for muscle growth.
Putting on size and weight will always be a struggle for someone who is a hard gainer. It’s going to be a harder process but a process well worth it. You’ll learn about your body and how it responds to food and the dieting strategies you use. You will become a smarter athlete.
Keep training as hard as you possibly can, allow that focus and determination to transfer over to your nutrition so that you can smash those big meals and get in all the calories you need. Over time, you will start realizing steady and consistent gains in muscle and strength.