Dear Dr. Dave and Dr. Dee,
I've been too thin all my life. I am almost 18, but weigh only 133 pounds (9 stone). I've started becoming much more self-conscious of my thin body - almost nobody else I know is as thin as me.
I've researched some websites (www.teenbodybuilding.com, www.bodybuilding.com, www.musclegaintips.com), and they encourage eating 6 meals a day, take nutritional supplements (which I'm skeptical about), weight train, and 8 hours of sleep per night. Whey Protein was also suggested as s supplement. I'm thinking of buying a rowing machine. I really need to become bigger soon.
Please advise about muscle mass
Dear Please advise about muscle mass,
You have the basic structure for gaining weight and sound like you have the motivation to be committed to a muscle building program. Just be sure that the six meals you eat are healthy, full of protein, and drink water often. Vitamin supplements are also important. A rowing machine alone is not adequate for building muscle mass; you will need to weight train.
One of your websites referenced (www.musclegaintips.com) is by Anthony Ellis, and Iron Muscle Magazine at www.IronMagazine.com provides Anthony Ellis's 10 essential tips for gaining muscle. According to Mr. Ellis, muscle mass results can be seen in about 3 weeks, but it takes about 12 weeks for full results.
In addition, Mr. Ellis advocates increase in eating fats, but moderation and the appropriate type of fats are key. Excellent sources of polyunsaturated fats are flaxseed oil, canola oil, soybean oil, and fish oil; good examples of monounsaturated fats are extra-virgin olive oil and mixed nuts. In brief below are some muscle gaining tips by Anthony Ellis.
10 ESSENTIAL MUSCLE MASS GAINING TIPS (by Anthony Ellis in IronMagazine.com, 2005)
1. Weight Train
Weight training involves the use of equipment that enables variable resistance. This resistance can come in the form of "free weights" like barbells and dumbbells, machines that use cables or pulleys to help you lift the weight and bodyweight exercises like pull-ups or dips.
For anyone trying to gain muscle, several things must be done. One is to train with heavy weights. Using an appropriate weight, you should only be able to do 4-8 reps. Using heavy weights and low reps puts your muscles and nervous system under much more stress, stimulating more muscle fibers, which will cause rapid muscle growth.
For maximum muscle gain, the focus of your workouts should consist of free weight exercises. Not machines or bodyweight exercises. This is not to say that you should not use machines or bodyweight exercises, but they should not be the focus of your training.
2. Eat More Calories
The most important thing that I cannot emphasize is that you need to eat to gain weight. You need to eat like you've never eaten before. If you are not eating enough calories, you will NEVER gain weight, no matter what you do. In order to build new muscle, you must eat more calories than your body burns off, creating what is called a caloric surplus. To gain mass, you should strive to eat around 18-20 times your bodyweight in calories. The extra calories will be used by your body to repair muscle tissue that is damaged during the heavy workouts, and to build new muscle.
Now, when I say eat, I do not mean just anything. All calories are not created equal. In other words, some types of calories are not equal to others for gaining muscle. For example, if I said that you need to eat 2,000 calories per day to gain weight, and you eat 4 bags of potato chips each day, do you think you would gain muscle? Not likely. The majority of your weight would be fat. Why? Because potato chips, like most processed junk food, contains empty, totally nutritionless calories. These foods do not provide you with the correct nutrient breakdown essential for gaining muscle.
3. Eat More Protein
Without protein, your body will not be able to build new muscle. Years ago, a higher carbohydrate and lower fat diet was the rage, recommended by professional bodybuilders and trainers. They claimed that this was the only way to eat for muscle gain. Unfortunately, the only people gaining muscle on that type of diet were a genetically gifted few. The rest just got fat.
Carbs serve mainly as energy for the body, while protein provides the necessary amino acids to build and repair muscle. For muscle growth, carbohydrates are not as essential as protein and fats. High quality protein, which the body breaks down into amino acids, should be the center point of all your meals. There are many studies that show intense exercise increases demand for amino acids, which support muscle repair and growth. To build muscle, you should try to get at least 1g of protein per pound of bodyweight.
Whether you believe it or not, the fact is: High protein diets build more muscle when incorporated with intense training. Low protein diets do not. Period. Only protein can build muscle. Carbohydrates and fat cannot.
4. Eat More Often
To gain weight, you will be eating a large amount of calories. Unfortunately, your body can only assimilate a certain number of calories at each meal. For our purposes, eating three meals per day is not beneficial. If you had to eat 3,000 calories per day, then you would end up eating 1,000 calories at each meal. The average person can only use a portion of those calories. The excess will be stored as fat or removed from the body.
To enable your body to actually assimilate and use the 3,000 calories you will ingest, you have to reduce your meal size and increase your meal frequency. Splitting your calories into smaller, more frequent portions will enable food absorption and utilization of nutrients . I always eat six meals each day, evenly spaced out at three-hour intervals.
My goal is to provide my body with constant nourishment throughout the day. So if it typically takes about 2.5 hours to digest most meals, want to be eating another meal just as my last meal is leaving my stomach. I do this because my body is constantly in need of nutrients to repair itself. I do a lot of damage during my workouts and completely stress my system. My body is trying to "adapt to the stress," but in order to do this, it needs consistent fuel.
If I ate only three meals per day, then my body would be without nutrients for about six hours between each of those meals! This is unacceptable for skinny guys. Without food, your body will quickly begin to breakdown muscle tissue for energy.
5. Eat More Fat
If you want to gain muscle mass, you must eat enough dietary fat. Dietary fats play an essential role in hormone production, which in turn is responsible for growth and strength increases. I have never gained muscle on a low fat diet, though many people still believe that eating fat makes you fat. This is absolutely false. In fact, there is a very popular muscle gain diet that been around for years, called the "Anabolic Diet" that requires you to eat only fat! Butter, bacon, and heavy cream are all on the menu. Though quite extreme, this diet does work.
Most people are overweight because of a diet high in simple carbohydrates, not from eating fats. If your diet is too low in fat, your body will actually make a point to store any fat it gets, because it doesn't know when it will get more. A low-fat diet will also lower testosterone levels, something we do not want when trying to gain weight. Studies have shown that dietary fat has a direct relationship with testosterone production. An increase in dietary fat intake seems to bring on an increase in testosterone levels. The inverse is also true. A decrease in dietary fat intake is usually accompanied by a decrease in free testosterone levels.
However, you don't want to increase your intake of saturated fats. Saturated fats are what cause disease and coronary problems. Though you will always have some saturated fats in your diet, your main focus should be to increase your intake of Essential Fatty Acids (EFAs).
EFAs are unsaturated fats that are necessary for thousands of biological functions throughout the body. Because they cannot be manufactured by the body, the must be provided by your diet. These fatty acids not only help increase testosterone production, but they also aid in the prevention of muscle breakdown, help to increase your HDL level (good cholesterol) and assist in hormone production. To get your recommended amount of EFA's, I recommend supplementing your diet with either Udo's Perfect Oil Blend (which combines omega- and omega-6), or Cold-Pressed Flaxseed oil (which is mostly omega-3).
6. Drink More Water
To make sure that your muscles stay hydrated, you must drink plenty of water. Dehydration can happen easily if you train hard. A dehydrated muscle, takes longer to repair itself than one sufficiently hydrated.
Drinking a sufficient amount of water not only increases your vascularity (more visible veins), but it will also help to quickly remove toxins from the body. Protein generates metabolic waste products that must be dissolved in water. Without enough water, the kidneys cannot efficiently remove these wastes.
7. Take a Multi-Vitamin
There are many supplements and specific muscle gain enhancing products that I recommend using in my book, but I have to remember that this is only the 10 most important elements of a successful mass program. So, I have to keep this brief and to the point. All of the other products will help, but they are not essential. So, I will only touch on two vitamins supplements: Multi-Vitamins and Antioxidants.
If you want to gain muscle, you must make sure that you are not deficient in any vitamin, mineral or trace element that your body needs. I know many people are going to disagree with me, but I believe that in this day, we absolutely need to supplement our diet with vitamins and minerals. I know that those who are against using vitamins are going to say that if we "just eat a balanced diet. . . ", You know the rest.
Well first, eating a balanced diet is easier said than done. America is the most overweight country in the world. Most people don't even know what a "balanced" diet is. Balanced with what Experts will continue to spout, "eat a balanced diet," while Americans feast on nutritionless fast food and sugar.
8. Take Antioxidants
An antioxidant like Vitamins A, C, E, Glutathione, Glutamine, and Selenium are essential in preventing free radical damage, which is accelerated after the heavy trauma of weight training. Antioxidants protect other substances by being oxidized themselves. Here's a good antioxidant blend that I also use.
9. Rest More Often
Rest is the most overlooked "skinny-guy secret." If you don't rest, you won't grow. Your body does not build muscle in the gym, it builds muscle while resting!
The key to successfully gaining weight is eating enough calories, training hard and then resting. No diet adjustments will make up for lack of rest. If you train hard in the gym, then you should be resting your muscles as much as possible. If you do not give them time to rest and repair, you will not grow. Period.
10. Be Consistent
The secret to gaining muscle mass fast - CONSISTENCY.
You can have the best diet, the best training schedule, join the best gym that has the best equipment, but without consistency it's all worthless (Ellis, 2005).
For more information, www.IronMagazine.com