Written by University of Houston Dietetic Intern, Andres Ayesta.
Weight gain or “bulking up” is often a hot topic among athletes, especially football players. The reason behind this is simple, to be bigger and stronger which will hopefully lead to better performance if done correctly.
Making this important change is not easy. It is accomplished with effort and dedication. There are a few things all weight gainers should know before they start eating everything they see. The most important part of this weight gaining process is to make sure you gain muscle mass, let’s call it the “good weight”, versus fat mass or the “bad weight” The role of nutrition is fundamental. What you put in your body will determine the type of weight you put on.
Many believe that to bulk up and build muscle mass, a high protein diet is required. Protein intake is important but even more important is to consume more calories that you expend. The preseason has started and the amount of calories you burn being out there the field under the heat is tremendous. For this reason it is important to monitor your daily intake to make sure what you are putting in your body is enough and even more to accomplish your goals.
Below are some useful tips that could help you put on those extra pounds:
1. Eat 4 – 5 meals a day with snacks in-between.
2. Choose high-calorie, nutrient dense food and snacks (Nuts, peanut butter, bagels, avocado, dried fruit, milk, fruit juices, cheese, high calorie protein and energy bars, yogurt)
3. Add extra calories. Boosting regular meals is always a great way to increase your daily intake.
· Spread peanut butter on pretzels, bagels, pancakes, muffins.
· Add nutrient dense foods to your salads such as nuts, dried fruits, cottage cheese, boiled eggs, and cheese.
· Add protein powders to milkshakes, smoothies, and fruit juices.
· Boost your soups, casseroles, and mashed potatoes with 1-2 tbsp of milk powder.
4. Drink plenty of fluids that supply calories (milk, low-fat milkshakes, smoothies, fruit juices, and sport drinks)
5. Increase your portion sizes at every meal.
6. Get at least 7 – 8 hours of sleep every night. The growth hormone (responsible for muscle growth) peaks at night while you sleep, so that’s the perfect time your body uses to recover and increase muscle size.
7. DO NOT skip meals.
8. Include protein at every meal (meats, beans, nuts, eggs, milk)
9. Avoid fried foods. Look for grilled, baked, or broiled items.
10. Be aware of all the foods and drinks you swallow. Everything counts towards you daily intake, even alcoholic beverages.
Gaining weight is not just eating extra but balancing the diet with a variety of performance foods. Choosing foods wisely is a key to success in this process. Don’t focus only increasing fat and protein intake, but focus more in including wholesome foods. Following these tips with help maximize lean weight gains and minimize fat gains.