I’d like to introduce a friend of mine, Rich Thaw. We previously met at a continuing education seminar over a year ago, and found that overtime our ideas on athleticism, movement patterns, and other ideologies have begun to overlap, so much so that I asked him to provide a bit on nutrition for all of the hard-gainers out there. As a hardgainer myself, I can associate with all of the things he mentions throughout, so if gaining weight is difficult for you, be sure to check out what Rich has to offer.
Eat more protein.
No carbs after lunch.
Eat less protein, but only after large meals of carbs.
Don’t eat fast food.
Eat fast food at least 1x/week…
There are literally thousands of recommendations, backed up by ‘research’, floating around the Internet that couldn’t be more confusing. It’s no wonder that you’re confused about what to eat to gain muscle, lose fat and take your performance to the next level. If you’re serious about changing the way you look, feel, and perform it’s in your best interests to follow these very simple set of guidelines.
What’s so important about THESE guidelines? – Truth be told, nothing!
NOTE: Do yourself a favor and go on an ‘information fast’. Don’t read, follow, or change the nutritional course throughout these 6 weeks and you’ll harvest the rewards.
I used to be skinny. My father used to be skinny, then somewhat hefty, and then a marathon-running, karate smashing machine.
As you can see, I was dealt the short end of the stick from the start. Being skinny was built into my genes. Somewhere along the way, I figured out how to become a muscular athletically built manly man.
Being a natural ectomorph like my dad, it was tough to gain weight.
I hesitated to buy any supplements, but eventually gave in to the peer pressure and bought a ‘weight gainer’ and then muscle milk type protein powders. I soon discovered the weight gainer (or the hundreds of additives, chemicals and preservatives) didn’t agree with my stomach.
Looking back, I can blame my distressed gastrointestinal system on the 1000+ calories of artificial processed garbage and the ‘proprietary protein blends’.
After ditching the weight gainer, I looked at people who were bigger than myself.
What are they doing that I’m not??
Training? – I’m doing that.
Putzing along on the treadmill? – Well, I see the ‘most fit’ people going for long walks on the treadmill. But, I wanted to be explosive and have carry over to real-life athletics. I wanted some SHOW and some GO.
“I’m going to sprint instead of jog” I said to myself.
Eating? – I’m eating. Could it be that they’re eating more?
And then it hit me.
I need to eat more. I’m going to eat more to fuel my body so I can get bigger, stronger, and as I later found out much leaner. I know that crappy food makes you fat, so I’m going to eat more good food.
As an Ectomorph, there are a few things happening in your body that limits muscle development:
- You’re thyroid dominant (meaning that you’re better at processing carbohydrates).
- You have a fast metabolic rate (AKA fast metabolism).
- You have high sympathetic nervous system activity.
- You have a high carbohydrate tolerance.
1) You should include a carb/protein drink (like BCAA) during each training session, and a protein shake afterwards. – If anyone should be drinking calories, it’s you.
2) There should be some starchy, whole-grain, unprocessed carbs eaten at every other meal, and especially post workout.Think: quinoa, brown rice, and sweet potatoes over white bread.
*Carbohydrate tolerance is improved drastically after exercise. Therefore, dietary carbs are better used during this period rather than any other time of the day.
3) Eating every 2-4 hours is a must. Since your metabolism is always racing, you need to fuel that fire. Just make sure there are a protein, carb and fat source in every meal to keep the fire burning brighter for longer.
Gains with Protein
You can think of protein as the stuff that helps replace all of the worn down cells, and replaces them for muscle & tissue repair/growth.
When you eat protein, a hormone deep inside of you called glucagon increases. This sucker can help decrease ‘spare-tire syndrome’.
Think of glucagon as the opposite to Insulin. When the blood sugar levels are low, glucagon is released and the liver is told to break down stored energy (glycogen=stored carbs) and turn them into readily available energy (glucose).
Glucagon also frees up fatty acids from their stored state in adipose tissue (read: spare tire, or fat) and uses them for energy.
Eating protein will cause glucagon to be released, which helps burn the spare tire from the inside out, and you’re ready for that bikini …if you’re into that sort of thing.
If you take away one message about protein, let it be this: A plate full of veggies isn’t nearly as manly as a pound of meat, but it’s just as necessary.
You Need More Carbs…
…And by carbs, I mean more fruits and veggies! I know you’re supposed to cut out all carbs to get wicked lean and infinitely more awesome but, truth be told, if you stopped eating carbs altogether and only ate proteins with some fats, you would look pretty flabby and gross.
I’ll save you the physical embarrassment and tell you how to go about it: Eat at least 2 palms full of veggies at every meal.
In addition to the vitamins and minerals that are in vegetables, they contain something called phytochemicals that are essential for a superhero-esque bodily function.
A serious downfall to eating a diet of mostly meat-derived proteins and grains is the increased acidity of the blood. Increased blood acidity = reduced bone strength and muscle mass.
– Eat at least 2 servings of vegetables per meal
– 1 serving of vegetables = 1 medium sized fruit, ½ cup of raw chopped fruit of vegetables, or 1 cup of raw leafy vegetables
– This should pan out to 10 servings of veggies/day (since they have 5 meals/day)
One of the keys to being uber-lean is to eat TONS of veggies and fruit for the majority of the week, and have 1 or 2 ‘cheat’ meals where you refuel your carbohydrate stores for the rest of the week.
Don’t be afraid of fat – It’ll help you get shredded. Yes. You read right. Eating fat will help you get skinny. [Note from Miguel: The thing to watch about fats are artificially produced trans fats. Saturated fats are a-okay in most cases. Source: Alan Aragon on Clean Eating.]
Also, dietary fats help with nervous system function.
- If you were to cut out the fat from your diet, your cells wouldn’t function nearly half as well as if you had some form of dietary supplementation of said fat.
- Fatty acids coat our nerve cells with something called myelin – making dietary fat essential for nervous system communication.
- Dietary fats help control hunger by keeping you full because of its slow emptying process from your stomach.
At then end of the day we eat food, not protein, fats or carbohydrates. When you decide to eat, don’t think about the ratio of carbs to fats to protein, or the rate of timed release of glucose.
Extra Credit Muscle Building Tip:
Enter the SUPER SHAKE
A super shake is quite simply an compilation of the best tasting fruits, nuts, nut butters, protein powder, veggies and whatever else you can think of, thrown into a blender. Intriguing isn’t it?!
The key here is to add foods with QUALITY to get an adequate QUANTITY of calories. It’s really easy to create smoothies with 1,000+ calories of quality nutrients. The quality of said nutrients will depict the efficiency of your bodily functions.
Reese’s Cup Smoothie:
- 8-16 oz of 1% or whole milk
- 2 scoops of chocolate protein powder
- 2-3 tbsp. of natural peanut butter
- 2-4 tbsp. of milled flax seed
- 1-2 tbsp. of chia seeds (I have both seeds pre-mixed in a bag)
- 1 handful of spinach
- 1-2 bananas
- 1 cup of frozen cherries (or mixed berries)
Keep these tips in mind as you prep your next meal, and make a promise to yourself to get swole in no time, especially during these holiday times.
Rich Thaw, CPT, FMS-1, PN1
When he is not working as a Strength & Conditioning coach at CoreXcellence, Rich does extensive work with online training and nutrition consultations through his website titled ‘InnerAthlete’.
Using his extensive knowledge and experience in athletic development, Rich has developed a training system which progressively challenges his clients. To ensure proper postural alignment and injury prevention methods learned from the Functional Movement Screening System, Postural Restoration Institute and Myofascial Techniques have become an integral part of his programming.
When Rich isn’t working you can find him playing hockey, watching the latest Marvel Comics movie, eating Reeces Peanut Butter Cup inspired smoothies and dreaming about front squats, Kettlebells and chin-ups.
He has been found eating cacao nibs and spirulina by the pound and firmly believes that “Everyone should have access to professional grade training, nutrition, & rehab strategies. Everyone can go from an average Joe (or Jill) to looking, feeling and moving like a Pro.”