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Mass Gain Attack: Nutrition You Need To Know
by Chris Aceto

To pig out or not to pig out. Really. That seems to be the off season diet of choice, to eat everything you can get your hands on in search of endless mass. These days, the 300 pound off-season bodybuilder is so common, he no longer turns heads! Yet the physiques – true quality physiques - understand off season mass building isn’t about getting sloppy and gorging the body. Witness 220 pound Dexter Jackson who never gets sloppy. Neither does Big Jay and it appears Ronnie – who blew minds this year – stayed in darn good off- season shape according top all reports and nay-sayers. Eating for sloppy-free mass is more than eating lots of crappy calories.
That brings us to the ideal approach to building mass It’s about consistency and variation. Consistency in eating 6 times a day. Variation in calorie intake. It appears when the body is temporarily loaded with calories, the muscles enter into a temporary heightened state of anabolism. This month, I plan to outline how you can create such a anabolic state by rotating around medium, lower and high carbohydrate intakes while varying protein and dietary fat consumption.

1) Start With the 2:1 Rule
The 2:1 Rule simply requires you eat 2 grams of carbohydrates per pound of bodyweight with one gram of protein per pound of bodyweight on a daily basis. For the 200 pound male that’s 400 grams of carbohydrates daily with 200 grams of protein. With regard to dietary fat, you don’t really need to count it. You’ll get what you need from your protein foods. Beef, chicken – legs, thighs and breast – whole eggs and low fat dairy products will give you plenty along with added calories to grow.

2) Follow the Above for 5 days
In the past I have recommended 3 grams of carbohydrates per pound of bodyweight to grow. That level keeps your calories higher and also keeps the muscles saturated with glycogen. Glycogen – nothing more than excess carbohydrates stored in the muscles – is an indicator of growth. The greater the glycogen stores the better. Glycogen also fuels your training so the idea is saturated glycogen stores are a must for maximal energy output. That’s somewhat true. In reality, you can train like an animal with sub-saturated glycogen stores. No, you don’t want to be running on empty as far as glycogen goes, but as long as stores are fairly or mostly full, you can get the job done in the gym.

3) Double Your Protein and Lower Your Carbs For 2 Days
When you drop your carbohydrate intake, glycogen stores fall which one you’d think would be detrimental to growth. However, the pathways responsible for retaining and storing carbohydrates as muscle glycogen over react. This overreaction is actually beneficial. When you go back to eating a higher carbohydrate intake, not only can you store more than previous, but will experience an up-tick in anabolic hormones and metabolism which allows the body to accumulate more size. The 200 pounder would up his protein to 400 grams daily for this 2 day period. A high protein intake while following a lower carbohydrate intake improves insulin sensitivity on muscle tissue, priming your muscles to uptake not only greater amount of carbohydrates but amino acids when progressing to step #4. Carbohydrate wise, drop your them to just 1 gram per pound of body weight or 200 a day for the 200 pound male. The final dietary manipulation here is to switch your protein intake to include fattier sources. That doesn’t mean lots of grease and oil. It does mean eating more beef – cuts with moderate amounts of fat like T-Bone and ground beef. Include more whole eggs and regular cheese and yogurt to make up – calorie wise – for the drop in carbohydrates. The benefit; hormonal maintenance. Hard core off season training can cause an increase in cortisol levels and elevated cortisol can crush testosterone levels. A temporary increase in dietary fat could keep testosterone levels from falling as higher fat diets (for athletes not for the lay person) can help maintain a drop off in testosterone levels. Lastly, when carbohydrates go down, an increase in dietary fat positively effects insulin sensitivity further priming muscles for a greater anabolic response.

4) Over Eat For 2 Days
When you over eat, you generally get fat. However, when you overeat coming out of a dietary approach as outlined – moving to lower carbohydrates with more protein and fat – the response is super compensation and a burst in anabolic hormones. First, you’ve set the body up to store more carbohydrates than ever before. Second, temporarily overeating causes thyroid levels, growth hormone and IGF levels to rise. All are important anabolic hormones, messengers that stimulate growth. While calories are certainly vital for growth, hormones play a huge role. This approach harnesses both. Carbohydrate wise, go to 3 or even 4 grams per pound of bodyweight and fix the protein intake around 1.5 grams per pound. Therefore the 200 pounder would go to 600 to 800 grams with 300 grams of protein. Fat wise, stick with low fat sources of protein. A mix of eggs with egg whites, protein powders, chicken, turkey and only leaner cuts of red meat. After the two days, go back to step 1. There you have it, the ideal approach to getting big – without turning into a slob. You might not hit 300 pounds, but you’ll turn heads. Dexter Jackson, Johnnie Jackson and Vic Martinez. No there’s three head turners who’ll never see 300 pounds!

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