CAN’T EAT ENOUGH CALORIES TO BULK UP AND GAIN MUSCLE? (4 TIPS)
Do you consider yourself a “hardgainer” who can’t eat enough calories to bulk up?
There are several smaller details that go into planning out a complete muscle building diet, but your total daily calorie intake is the ultimate bottom line.
Consume fewer calories than you burn, and you’ll lose weight. Consume the same number of calories that you burn, and you’ll maintain your weight. Consume more calories than you burn, and you’ll gain weight.
This is known as the “Law Of Energy Balance”, and if you aren’t creating a consistent calorie surplus each day to fuel new muscle growth, your gains will be virtually non-existent.
If you naturally have a big appetite, or your individual calorie needs to gain weight are not that high, accomplishing this on a daily basis is not going to be a huge issue.
For others, however, it can be more of a challenge.
If you’re looking to gain quality muscle size but are having trouble consuming enough calories because you simply feel full all the time, here are 4 quick tips to help you out…
“I Can’t Eat Enough Calories!” – 4 Tips
Tip #1 – Optimize Your Meal Frequency.
As long as you’re consistently hitting your overall calorie and macronutrient needs each day, the specific way in which you lay out your daily meals is really a matter of personal preference. From a pure muscle building and fat burning perspective, it’s really not going to make any measurable difference.
So, if managing hunger is a problem for you, play around with different meal frequencies and layouts to see what boosts your appetite to the highest level.
Is it 3 larger meals spaced farther apart throughout the day? Is it 4 meals and 2 snacks? 6 or 7 small meals?
Everyone is different, but for most people, eating smaller portions more frequently is usually the most effective option.
Test out a few different approaches and find out what works best for you.
Tip #2 – Include Some Calorie-Dense Food Items In Your Meal Plan.
If all you’re eating is boiled chicken breast, brown rice, and spinach all day, good luck trying to consume upwards of 3000-5000 calories daily if you have a small appetite.
Consuming lean/high quality proteins and high fiber carbs is certainly an important aspect of a well-rounded diet, but if you’re having trouble meeting your calorie needs without feeling sick to your stomach, you’ve got to mix in some more calorie-dense items as well.
There are a ton of possible options here…
Have a handful of dried fruit or nuts as a snack in between meals… drink a glass of fruit juice with one or two of your daily meals instead of water… have some dark chocolate as a small “dessert”… mix some flaxseed oil or extra virgin olive oil into your protein shakes (you won’t even taste it)… have some fatty fish (such as salmon) as a protein source a few times week…
You get the idea here.
Use traditional “clean” bodybuilding foods as the underlying foundation of your diet, but combine them with a few especially high calorie items here and there to bump up your daily calorie totals.
Tip #3 – Stop Trying to “Eat Clean” 24/7.
This ties in with the previous tip, but a small portion of those high calorie items don’t even necessarily have to come from “clean” sources.
Assuming that around 80-90% of your diet is comprised of nutrient-dense, “high quality” fitness foods, the other 10-20% can come from whatever sources you’d like (though I’d recommend minimizing the consumption of partially hydrogenated oils) as long as it fits into your daily macronutrient totals.
Including a small amount of high calorie “cheat food” here and there (though this is a relative term) is not going to negatively affect your muscle building or fat burning progress and is an extremely easy way to help you get more calories into your diet without your stomach exploding.
A bowl of ice cream… a chocolate bar… a slice of pizza… a few cookies… as long these items are included in your diet in a controlled, moderated way, this is a great strategy to ensure that you hit your daily calorie needs in a much more comfortable way.
(Check out this article if you want a complete explanation of this concept of “flexible” dieting.)
Tip #4 – Make Use Of Shakes/Smoothies.
What do you think sounds like an easier task…
Sitting down to eat 2 chicken breasts, a cup of brown rice, a bowl of fruit, a handful of nuts and washing it down with a glass of skim milk…
Blending together 2 scoops of whey protein powder, a cup of oatmeal, a banana and a scoop of natural peanut butter in skim milk.
Not only is the latter option far easier to stomach and just as nutritious, but it’s also far more convenient and doesn’t take any more than a few minutes to make and consume.
I personally have two high calorie homemade shakes like this per day (one for breakfast and one in the evening) and it allows me to easily consume about 1600 calories in liquid form, which is around half of my daily needs. (You can find the recipe I personally use here)
The calorie content of these shakes can be boosted even higher by simply throwing in additional items like healthy oils, yogurt, berries, or even some ice cream.
Combine 2 or 3 regular whole-food meals with a couple of high calorie shakes (and perhaps some smaller snacks here and there) and hitting your daily calorie totals shouldn’t be much of an issue.
Commercial weight gain powders and/or meal replacements can be used in small amounts if they’re needed as a matter of convenience, but a homemade smoothie like the one I just outlined is a far healthier and better-tasting option overall.
“I Can’t Eat Enough Calories!” – Quick Recap
So, if you’re trying to maintain a calorie surplus but you’re not able to do it without feeling excessively full throughout the day…
1) Experiment to find a specific meal frequency and daily food layout that maximizes your personal hunger levels.
2) Include some especially high calorie foods in your diet to boost your daily totals without adding significant extra food volume. (Nuts, dried fruit, chocolate, healthy oils, fruit juice etc.)
3) Allot 10-20% of your total calories to a small amount of higher calorie “cheat foods” to further increase the overall calorie density of your diet.
4) Include one or two high calorie homemade smoothies in your diet to get all the same benefits that regular whole food have to offer but in liquid form.
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