#1 Have A Meal Every 3 Hours
Mass-building boils down to nutrient delivery, and nothing beats eating every 2-3 hours, which works out to 6-8 meals a day. Frequent feedings ensure a constant influx of protein, carbohydrates and essential fatty acids required to maintain an anabolic state. Following the three-hour rule, you should eat at least the same amount and up to twice as many carbohydrates as protein at most meals, along with a smaller amount of healthy fats at most meals (more on specific macronutrient intake in later rules). Because you’re eating every three hours, don’t overstuff yourself; keeping each meal relatively small enhances nutrient absorption while simultaneously allowing you to sidestep gains in bodyfat.
#2 Load Up On Protein
A meal should never go by without a sufficient amount of protein being consumed. To maximize muscle-building, you’ll need to consume at least 1 gram of protein per pound of bodyweight per day. (This means 200 grams of protein daily for a 200-pound person.) In order to provide your muscles with a continuous influx of amino acids the building blocks of protein throughout the day, you’ll divide your daily protein by the number of meals you consume. For example, if you eat six meals per day, 200 grams of protein divided by six meals would mean at least 30-40 grams of protein per meal.
#3 Hydrate Yourself
The importance of drinking plenty of liquids goes beyond the obvious benefits of staying hydrated; at a much deeper level, it’s all about pushing more water into muscle cells. The more water that’s inside muscles, the better they’ll function and the greater their strength and size capacity. “The consensus in the bodybuilding community is that high water storage within muscles helps act as an anabolic factor,” says Chris Aceto, nutrition consultant to Mr. Olympia Jay Cutler and author of Championship Bodybuilding and Everything You Need to Know About Fat Loss (available at nutramedia.com). “This allows the muscles to maintain a positive nitrogen balance, which directly impacts muscle growth.”
#4 Carb Up The Right Way
When it comes to carbs, too few can shortchange your gains in mass and too many can transform you into a bulked-up softie. A good rule of thumb is to consume 2-3 grams of carbohydrates per pound of body-weight per day when trying to add mass. And as with protein, you’ll want to divide this between however many meals you eat daily, with the exception of two times during the day: breakfast and your postworkout meal.
#5 Eat Red Meat
Steaks and beef patties often scare people off because of the high fat content found in many cuts. But when you’re looking to build muscle, shunning red meat is the last thing you want to do: It’s high in B vitamins, including [B.sub.12], which supports muscular endurance and growth, and yields, gram for gram, more iron, creatine and zinc than any other source of protein. These nutrients play important roles in muscle recovery and growth, so if you’re sticking with chicken, turkey and protein powder, you’ll likely fall short of your hypertrophy goals. “Red meat is a great slow-digesting source of protein that can aid in nitrogen retention and sustained elevation of amino acids in the blood,” says Alan Aragon, MS, CSCS, a private-practice nutrition counselor in Thousand Oaks, California (alanaragon.com). “Red meat can be used for all seasons, not just mass phases.”