Gaining muscle should be fun. But the way some nutritionists write mass-building meal plans, it’s anything but. They have you rigidly counting calories and planning your meals well in advance, making you choose from a short menu of bland foods. Fortunately, none of that is necessary. In fact, it’s not as effective as the plan we offer here.
All you need to gain mass is a steady supply of calories, and the know-how to time your carbs properly. Here’s how it works: eat protein foods, fats, and vegetables up until your workout each day. After training, add carbs to the mix. The amount and type of carbs you eat will vary depending on what kind of training you did that day and when you did it (we have three options for morning, midday, and night trainees). You don’t need to count calories or measure exact portions. On your heaviest workout days and accessory sessions, you’ll be able to eat so-called “bad” carbs liberally— we’re talking all the sugary and starchy foods most experts say to steer clear of—without gaining appreciable fat.
You can do this because resistance training changes the way your body responds to blood sugar spikes. For a few hours after lifting, carbs (especially the fast-digesting, high-glycemic kind) send a huge hormonal growth signal that only the muscle cells respond to. However, the effectiveness is contingent on your keeping carbs as low as possible in your pre-workout meals. If you get a blood sugar rush at any other time of the day, you’re going to shut down your body’s fat-burning process and store calories in your gut.
Keep reading for a list of acceptable foods to eat post-workout, and pay attention to the eating prescriptions for each training day. Your diet on Days 1 and 4 will be different from Days 3 and 6, and so on. On the sample meal plans for morning, midday, and nighttime training, you’ll see directions to consume “protein and carb meals” after your workouts. The guidelines for what to eat and how much pertain to which workout you’re doing, and it’s laid out for you in the respective “Heavy,” “Accessory,“ and “Cardio” categories on the following pages. Where it says to modify your serving of your pre- and post-workout shake, we’re referring to any whey isolate powder (pre) and whey isolate with waxy maize or maltodextrin (or any similar carb powder, for post) that you choose.