How Often Should One Eat to Gain Muscle Mass?
How to gain muscle mass is not always the easiest code to crack. Along with exercising more and lifting weights, your diet usually must be modified to provide the proper ratio of nutrients to increase muscle. More calories are often necessary, and this means eating more times throughout the day. The number of meals you should eat per day depends on your current health and metabolism. Consult your doctor before making any dramatic changes to your diet.
Eating properly is almost as important to building muscle mass as exercising. Though the focus is often on getting enough protein in the diet to feed the muscles, John Hansen writes in his book "Natural Bodybuilding" that eating enough carbohydrates is also important to building muscle. If you have a fast metabolism, you should get 35 percent of your daily calories from protein, 50 percent from carbohydrates and 15 percent from fat. If your metabolism is slower, consume 50 percent protein, 30 percent carbohydrates and 20 percent fat each day.
In his book "Natural Muscle Mass," Mario Fanzolato recommends that to gain muscle mass, you should eat four to five times a day. He adds that it is common for most people who are in training to eat every two to three hours. At the same time, you shouldn't stuff yourself or feel like you should eat when you are not hungry. This will only make you feel sluggish, which can be counterproductive.
Types of Foods
Because it may be hard to consume solid food at short intervals during the day, Hansen recommends adding protein drinks to your diet. Not only are protein drinks easy to make, but they can feel less filling while adding calories via fruit, protein powder and flaxseed. A handful of nuts and dried fruit can also make for a quick, high-calorie snack, as can smoothies and apples with full-fat cheese slices.
Every person is different, so it might take some trial and error to figure out how often, and how much, you should eat to gain muscle mass. Working with a personal trainer or nutritionist can be helpful in determining the best way to build up your body. Make sure that when you begin to consume more food, you don't fill up on those packing empty calories, such as sodas and commercial baked goods.
- "Natural Bodybuilding"; John Hansen; 2005
- "Natural Muscle Mass"; Mario Fanzolato; 2009
Christine Garvin is a certified nutrition educator and holds a Master of Arts in holistic health education. She is co-editor of Brave New Traveler and founder/editor of Living Holistically... with a sense of humor. When she is not out traveling the world, she is busy writing, doing yoga and performing hip-hop and bhangra.