Gaining weight at the gym typically refers to increasing the muscle mass on your body by performing resistance exercises. Some individuals find it easier than others to add additional weight to their bodies, and much depends upon genetics and metabolism. Adding mass is generally achieved by increasing the volume of the muscle cells in the body – a process known as hypertrophy. The right meal plan can provide the body with the optimal level of nutrients and energy to complete a workout and then repairs itself bigger and stronger. The importance of nutrition in the process of gaining weight at the gym cannot be underestimated – the right diet can accelerate progress at a rate of knots, whilst failing to consume the right foods can leave gains stagnant, and the individual frustrated..
Carbohydrates are seen as the nemesis for those who want to lose weight, but for gainers, they are essential. Carbohydrates provide the body with instant energy to perform tasks. When looking to add mass, a decent carbohydrate meal should be consumed around 90-120 minutes before working out. Brown rice and sweet potato provide a good steady release of energy and should be a staple of those looking to bulk up. The meal increase glucose levels (blood sugar), which acts as fuel and enables maximal output whilst training. Those not consuming adequate carbohydrates will not have the energy stores to push themselves to the limit, and as such will make more limited gains.
Post workout nutrition must be treated as seriously, and consuming the right foods in the window immediately after you have finished lifting those weights, is crucial to successful gains. Simple carbohydrates need to be consumed after a workout, with pasta being a good choice. The meal should be substantial so it prompts a rise in insulin levels in the body. Insulin is a hormone that transports carbohydrates and amino acids to the cells, replenishing energy levels and enabling the muscles to repair themselves. Glycogen levels (energy in the cell) will be depleted after a big workout and need to be refilled before muscle repair and synthesis can begin. An intake of around 1 gram of carbohydrates per kilogram of body weight will maximise results.
When looking to add weight at the gym, high levels of protein will also be required in the diet. Protein can be found in milk, eggs, meat etc. and serves to help maintain, build and repair body tissue. Protein based foods (including protein shakes) should be consumed every few hours throughout the day to leave the body in an anabolic state. Anabolism refers to the building up of the body and with a constant flow of this nutrient to the cell, protein synthesis is maximised. Eating regularly is essential, as leaving too long between meals can cause the body to go into a catabolic state, which involves the breaking down of molecules to provide energy. When looking to bulk, it is important to constantly be building up and growing, as opposed to breaking down.
Overall, consuming high levels of protein, and high levels of carbohydrates at the right time, can have an extremely beneficial impact when trying to add mass at the gym. Protein should be the staple of most meals and is especially important on rest days, when the body is in repair mode. Supplements such as Whey Protein and Creatine can assist the bulking process further and a high water intake is vital for effective regulation.