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Primal Weight Gain – What to Eat to Gain Weight
Man cannot build muscle with food alone. Filling up on lean muscle requires two things: one, you have to lift weights, and two, you have to fuel your muscle growth with the right types of foods. Even if you weight train regularly, stuffing your face with anything and everything is not the way to build muscle and get that ripped, buffed look you crave. A healthy, balanced diet that includes plenty of lean protein, the right carbohydrates, and unsaturated fats is essential for gaining lean muscle mass.
So you might be asking, “What’s the best diet for me?” If you’re looking at any of the “fad” diets out there, the answer is simple: none of them. The most effective and healthy strategy is to develop lifelong healthy eating habits that focus on providing your body with the building blocks it needs. Think of it this way: For tens of thousands of years, our ancestors roamed the earth, lean and muscular as they can be, never worrying about being on a “diet.” How come? Because not only were they active all day, but their diets naturally included the right balance of lean protein, carbohydrates, and healthy fats. For the most part, their proteins came from the animals they hunted; carbohydrates from harvested fruits, vegetables and grains, and healthy, unsaturated fats from nuts.
Overall, humans didn’t have to worry about gaining weight until we started adopting a more sedentary lifestyle, starting at the dawn of the industrial age. As we became more civilized, we started eating more and more processed foods, high in sugar and fats, that’s when all hell broke loose and we started having to go on “diets”.
The best strategy is to look back on our past and keep it simple: a 4-6 day a week lifting routine combined with a diet of lean protein, healthy carbohydrates, and unsaturated fats. Skip processed foods loaded with sugar, saturated fat, and empty calories. Chicken breast, turkey, tuna (packed in water, not oil), salmon, and egg whites are all great sources of lean protein. Satisfy your craving for snacks and supplement your protein intake with a protein shake or meal replacement between meals. Carbohydrates should come from fruits, whole grains, beans, potatoes and vegetables. Unsaturated fats usually come from plants and nuts and are considered the “healthiest” of all fats. Avoid saturated fats.
The best way to start is to develop a plan and stick to it. When planning your meals, it’s best to eat smaller meals more often. Most fitness experts agree, and any serious bodybuilder will tell you that it’s better to eat five to six smaller meals spread out throughout the day than just breakfast, lunch, and dinner. The amount of protein, carbohydrates and fat your body needs will vary depending on your current fitness level and what you have in mind for your training goals. Sure you’ll find differing opinions, but a good rule of thumb is that 40-50% of your calories should come from lean protein, 40-50% from carbohydrates, and 10-15% from healthy fats.
It’s important to start with a good breakfast: what you eat (or don’t eat) for breakfast causes a chain reaction for the rest of the day. Studies have shown that people who eat a nutritious, balanced breakfast are not only healthier, but are much more likely to approach their ideal weight than other people. When you neglect your fuel tanks at the start of the day, you change little and are prone to bingeing later on. Eat chicken, fish and lean pork accompanied by vegetables for lunch and dinner. Lean meat may be an occasional treat, but for most guys, it shouldn’t be a part of your daily routine. Protein shakes and canned tuna (topped with a little mustard or even a dash of tabasco sauce) and a (small) handful of dried fruit are perfect between meals. Plan your meals for the week to make sure you have everything you need at your fingertips. If you screw up once in a while, don’t knock yourself out, it happens to everyone. Get back on track and add some extra cardio.
Obviously if you want to increase your muscle mass, you will need to train regularly with weights. You should exercise four to six days a week to really see gains. For most guys, use free weights rather than machines and you’ll get better results. The movements used during free weight training are more natural (similar to everyday movements), increase the use of your stabilizer muscles, helping to improve balance and coordination. Before deciding on an exercise routine, determine what your goals are. Then you can determine what types of exercise are right for you and start planning a regular routine.
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