Truth be told, with 20 years of experience and a solid university background, even I lack the ability to peer into some sort of dietary crystal ball and devise an eating plan that promises nonstop results. Problem is, the body is always changing, and what works straight out of the gate for a few weeks may end up causing you to gain unwanted body fat thereafter. The only way to truly put together a mass-gaining plan that works is not to rigidly plan anything, but rather to continually re-evaluate yourself to ensure that what you're actually gaining is muscle, not bodyfat. Indeed, trial and error is your best bet.
That's the type of strategy Jay has always used. From the time he won the Teenage Nationals 15 years ago to his more recent victories, he has always been one to analyze, "Am I gaining muscle or fat?" It's the million-dollar question for many, and one I'll clear up for you right here and now.
Bottom line, as long as you're gaining more muscle than bodyfat, you're headed in the right direction. That's important, because many are under the impression that it's possible to gain 100% pure fat-free muscle. Good luck.
In the real world, you'll always add some bodyfat with muscle, and that's okay. Here's why: Think about body composition, your muscle:fat ratio. If you gain 1 pound of fat and 2 pounds of muscle, you've actually become leaner. Yet if you add 3 pounds of fat over six weeks without adding muscle along with it, you're going in the wrong direction. But if you gained 3 pounds of muscle with that 3 pounds of fat, you're even. Now, if you gain 4, 5 or even 6 pounds of muscle with that 3 pounds of fat, you'll likely appear both bigger, since you've added muscle, and leaner, since you added more muscle than bodyfat. In this case, your muscle:fat ratio has shifted to the positive, the ultimate goal in any mass-gain diet.
What to eat is important, but before mapping out a diet plan, you must know how to measure your progress so you can decide one of two things along the way: 1) whether to stay the course because you are, in fact, adding more muscle than bodyfat, or 2) switch gears because you're adding equal amounts of fat and muscle, or worse, more fat than muscle.
Here's where two tools come into play. The first is the bathroom scale. If you're lean, you should see the numbers increase. If they don't, you aren't eating enough protein and calories to push up your muscle weight. The second tool is a skin caliper to measure your bodyfat percentage. This will tell you how much of your weight is fat and how much is muscle mass. What you're looking for here is a decreasing bodyfat percentage, even if only slightly; any change in the negative direction is promising. Don't try to use the caliper by yourself or have just anyone take your measurements; you'll need to find a professional, either at your gym or in another health and wellness-type setting, who has experience administering such bodyfat tests.
Use both the scale and caliper before starting your mass-gaining diet to establish a starting point, then continue to use them on a weekly basis to chart your progress, or lack thereof, and make changes to your diet where necessary.
If your weight on the scale is increasing and your bodyfat percentage is decreasing, you're gaining muscle mass vs. fat. Stay the course and continue to do what you're doing diet-wise. If you're gaining considerably more muscle than fat, consider eating even more. If, on the other hand, you're gaining more fat than muscle, you'll have to make an adjustment immediately. Chances are you're eating too many carbs; more on that in a moment.