You probably know the stated regimen by now in terms of ‘meal plans for weight gain’: “Eat six meals per day and eat a lot.” This will purportedly give your body the “fuel” that allows you to add muscle to your frame fast. You’re constantly told that if you allow yourself to get the least bit hungry, your muscles will start cannibalizing themselves in order to supply you with daily energy needs. This is said to be the ultimate in counter-productivity when it comes to producing muscle gains from meal plans for weight gain.
And every bodybuilding expert (except me) will tell you that your diet is the most important factor for gaining muscular weight. But if this were really true, every guy adhering to a meal plan for weight gain would be packing on all the muscular weight he’d ever dreamed of and there wouldn’t be a world full of frustrated natural bodybuilders.
‘Meal Plans for Weight Gain’: The biggest beneficiaries?
Most bodybuilding and fitness trainees who start a meal plan for weight gain quickly realize that it’s very difficult to prepare six calorie-dense, nutritious meals each day while keeping up with the demands of contemporary life. Sellers of bodybuilding supplements are well aware of this. And it’s in their best interest to keep you thinking that if you miss even one of these closely timed feedings, your hard-earned muscle will start shriveling up like a half-eaten apple that’s been left on the counter-top. That way, using convenient meal replacements and protein powders will become the most feasible way to make it happen. In other words:
The idea of ‘meal plans for weight gain’ was created and is perpetuated by the bodybuilding supplement industry.
But are high calories and a constant influx of them as important as they’d have you believe for gaining muscle weight?
What’s REALLY Most Important for Gaining Solid Weight
Let’s say you go to the gym and work your upper back muscles today. You push your body through X number of sets of lat pull-downs and rows to build width and thickness. If you’ve adequately stimulated the muscle through sufficient tissue tear-down, your next task is to supply that muscle with the exact number of rest days needed for it to fully recuperate. You do need enough protein and overall caloric intake for this to occur. However, evidence suggests that no more than 300 to 400 daily calories above what’s needed for body-weight maintenance is required for optimal muscle repair. Anything above this amount will not provoke muscle tissue to recuperate any faster. If fact, an extreme excess of calories could actually slow recuperation down as the body utilizes valuable energy just to process all those unneeded calories.
The most important and overlooked factor at this point is pinning down the exact number of inter-workout rest days given a certain amount of muscle tissue tear-down. Without this being optimized, your back workout (and all others) will have been a waste of time and your ‘meal plans for weight gain’ will not only be a waste of time and money – they’ll likely only add fat pounds to your body.
"Gaining Weight" in the right places is more a matter of using a "good bodybuilding routine" than adopting 'meal plans for weight gain.'
‘Meal Plans for Weight Gain’: What I’ve observed:Am I claiming that you shouldn’t eat five or six protein-rich meals each day in order to gain muscle mass? Of course not; our bodies need to stay in positive nitrogen balance in order for steady anabolism to occur. More importantly, frequent meals of smaller quantities are the best way to go for losing body fat and keeping it off. Yet I will say this: I’ve had days in which I’ve eaten three or four meals (usually on weekends) and I’ve had days in which I’ve eaten seven meals (very rare).
What was my difference in bottom line muscle gains?
It was imperceptible, to say the least. What always remains the biggest factor for steady muscle gains is that I continue to adhere to a scheduled of using the optimal number of rest days between muscle building workouts. Moreover, “meal plans for weight gain” (i.e. high calorie meal plans) have never accelerated recuperation in either my clients or me so as to reduce the number of those required rest days.
The Bottom Line on Meal Plans for Weight Gain
Should you eat five or six meals spread as evenly throughout the day as possible? Yes… I’d recommend it.
Should you get 30 to 40 grams of protein in each of those meals? Yes… Your growing muscles need it.
Should you utilize meal replacements and protein powders? I use them and recommend their (moderate) use for speed and convenience. Eat “real”, fresh foods as well.
But!… Should you obsess over the fact that you might have gone four hours instead of three since you ate your last meal? Should you pound down a lot of extra calories in order to “gain weight?”
My answer for those is “no” and “NO!” The first obsession will likely wreak havoc on your busy schedule while possibly diverting your attention from what matters most to muscle gains. The second will possibly make you fat while providing the bodybuilding supplement industry the ability to say:
“Well… we did promise you’d gain wEIGHt”
Notice the fat around the middle in that last word.