Being a hardgainer is no fun, let's admit it. From the very first time you stepped foot into a gym, things have just been harder for you. Without natural thickness and strength, you were always on the narrow side. Weight gains came slowly. You didn't get feat, but staying lean meant it was near-impossible to pack on new muscle. If only there was a way you could control things and give yourself an advantage over the "easy" gainers.
It used to be a running joke in the 1990s that Paul Dillet would grow his muscles just by driving past the gym. Some people have a natural propensity for adding muscle size to their body. Their muscle bellies are large, and their joint insertions are small. They look bigger than you, their grow faster than you. And they'll always be out there. But there is good news. You can match their gains. It'll just take longer. And part of that "taking longer" can be greatly reduced by limiting the amount of mistakes you make in the kitchen.
You cannot control the muscle bellies with which you were born. But you can control the foods that you put into your body each day. And making the right choices in the kitchen can guarantee you an edge over your peers who are more blessed genetically. Eating the right foods at the right times ensures you have the most energy to train, and best resources available for recovery and growth. However, any mistakes you make can be very costly for your muscle-building efforts. Let's check out five mistakes that hardgainers too often make in the kitchen!
Skipping the junk food
Eating TOO clean is one of the most commonly made mistakes by hardgainer bodybuilders. They read the books and map out diets, and leave nothing to chance. They meticulously measure grams and ounces, and follow that diet to a tee. However, they leave little room for the simple fact they need MORE CALORIES. Eating fish and broccoli is a great way to get ripped for a show. However, in the off-season, when making serious body weight gains has been a problem for years, there is nothing wrong with adding a little bit of junk food to the plate to facilitate some new muscle growth. Some athletes train for years without making gains - until they add a little junk to their menus!
Eating too much protein
In the old days, it was all about eating meat - and lots of it! Bodybuilders would pile up the steak, eggs, bacon, and sausage and just throw hundreds of grams of protein down the hatch with each meal. Today, we know that the human body can only assimilate so many grams of protein at each individual sitting. Beyond that, these added grams are just urinated away. The natural bodybuilder can make use of about 35 grams of protein per meal. The 'assisted' athlete can use up to 50 or 60 grams of protein per meal. Beyond that, you're just wasting your money, and disrupting your digestive process.
Only eating 3 meals a day
Eating too FEW meals isn't a problem for most lifters, but it is a common one among hard gaining athletes. If you're trying to hit 4000 calories each day, then you want to spread those 4000 calories between as many meals as possible. Eating 4 meals each day means you are suffering thru four giant 1000 calorie meals. However, eight meals of 500 calories would be a breeze in comparison, wouldn't it? Aside from the intestinal discomfort, your body will also benefit from greater nutrient absorption rates from more frequent meals, which will help to feed your muscles more and keep your metabolism healthy. And no more belly aches!
Forgetting about liquid calories
There is only so much food we can put away at the dinner table each day. Our digestive tracks contain a finite amount of space, and placing more food in them they can contain results in a belly ache pretty quickly. Drinking your calories is a great way to add a few hundred calories to your daily diet, thus defeating the #1 problem faced by hardgainers, which is not consuming enough calories. Protein shakes with peanut butter, chocolate milk, and even juice can give you plenty of calories for energy and muscle repair & recovery, without leaving you too full and bloated.
More than 75% of Americans are living in a chronic state of dehydration. They wake up thirsty and have a sip of water, but never fully hydrate their bodies. Because of this, their muscles are never full and round, and they are never able to maximize their potential growth. Hardgainers in particular, often loaded up on caffeine pre-workout products which allow them to train with more intensity, tend to skip drinking enough water, thus leaving them under-achieving in the gym. Drink a gallon of water each day, and another half-gallon if you're training outdoors. Maximize your muscle building potential by keeping your muscles full and founded.
Love it or hate it, the cards were already on the table when you first started your weight lifting journey. You're a hardgainer. New muscle gains are always going to take you longer. But that's okay, because the gains you make will be of the long-term variety. Achieving them will require smarter nutritional choices. You cannot make the same mistakes as the "easy" gainers if you wish to stay on pace with them in terms of making gains. Train hard, eat smarter!