Gain Mass

6 Biggest Nutritional Problems, Solved

Whether you're trying to gain mass or get lean, you may be making one of these common dietary mistakes.

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Bodybuilding Diet Tips

Mass-Gaining Mistakes

The cautionary-tale types do several things to hinder their chances of gaining more muscle; these are three of the most common.

Mistake #4: Overestimating Calorie Needs

It doesn't take a master's degree in exercise science or physiology to know that if you expect to grow, you'll need more calories. But if you make that your highest priority, you may end up looking more like Jack Black than Johnnie Jackson. It's not just about how many calories you eat—there are other important factors to consider in the growth formula, including meal frequency, protein intake and anticatabolic supplements.

While a high-calorie diet certainly supports growth, nothing is as effective as splitting your calories into six smaller meals so you're eating every 2 1/2—3 hours. This maximizes nutrient absorption and can suppress hormones such as cortisol that interfere with muscle growth.

The next important step is to eat adequate protein. How do we define adequate? Say it with us: at least 1 gram per pound of bodyweight per day. Protein mends damaged muscle fibers when calories are inadequate. When calories are high enough, protein goes toward growth and extra repair work. Just don't go overboard with calories—a safe bet is to strive for 18…22 calories per pound of bodyweight per day, with 30%…45% of those calories coming from protein.

Since your goal is to hold on to more muscle than you burn, you'll want to consider some anticatabolic helpers such as leucine, vitamin C and vitamin E. Five grams of the amino acid leucine taken before and after training can shut off muscle breakdown; 500—1,000 mg of vitamin C and 400—800 mg of vitamin E act as a safety net, reducing free radical production that can cause muscular inflammation and slowed growth.

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