The diet to increase muscle mass is a diet that, if associated with a specific training, should favor the increase of body mass and above all of the compartment concerning the fat-free mass or Free-Fat-Mass (FFM), better known as "lean mass".
Warning! The following article does NOT presume to dictate any principles or discredit other methods, therefore it represents only MY professional (and personal) view of the subject in question.
Genetics, training, rest and diet
The increase in muscle mass is a goal of training which is still the subject of discussions and controversies, since the mechanisms that regulate it (hypertrophy) are not objectively quantifiable and discriminable.
According to some technicians (generally sportsmen and not Body-Builders) the element that allows the increase of muscle tissue is mainly of a genetic type, which includes very specific physiological limits; for others, specific training and the variability of the stimulus are the first discriminants to consider and are independent (within certain limits) of the individual predisposition and partly of the diet, while a last category puts the "right diet for the mass ".
In my opinion, muscle mass could be represented graphically by an equilateral triangle having for the 3 sides:
- TRAINING + RECOVERY
NB. If the program to increase the mass of an "X" subject is lacking in one of the three elements, the intervention of the sports technician must focus more on it, even when this would mean relying on another professional figure.
Taking for granted the carrying out of a specific training (and an age that excludes puberty as a phase of greatest development), the increase in muscle mass in the athlete (and especially in the BBs) could be analyzed in three historical moments of training: at the 6th month - after one year - after 3 years, at the end of which most of the subjects almost completely reach the apex of muscle genetic expression. Many readers might consider this statement extremely reductive and / or limiting, and I myself admit that accepting it can be demotivating; on the other hand, a realistic approach and an empirical vision of training are absolutely fundamental requirements to avoid future disillusionment or misinterpretation of the progress achieved by the subject.
In a period of about 3 years, in which the training must be intense, continuous and worthily supported with a good diet for the mass, the organism comes to express most of its potential; in short, growing from the point of view of mass and strength is hard work and requires a lot of dedication and perseverance, but the progression of the results depends exclusively on the methodological correctness in the organization of training and diet for the mass.
It is quite well known that training for the mass must mainly consist of High Volume Training (HVT) and respective high TUTs (Time Under Tension), taking care to also include periods of strength through High Intensity Training (HIT) so as not to slow down the progressive increase of the load (intended as "kg of cast iron lifted"). On the other hand, on the other hand, from the food point of view they feel (let me play on words) "cooked and raw"!
Ultimately, how is the diet for bulking structured?
Importance of diet
In general, the diet for the mass is an aspect that mainly affects athletes or Body-Builders (BBs) already trained, or those subjects who (due to training seniority) have already enjoyed the first physiological adaptations thanks to training; this means that, INITIALLY, nutrition is often considered a negligible "detail" or even an aspect relevant only to the achievement of high objectives such as sports competitions. WRONG! It is logical that muscle tissue undergoes an evident initial hypertrophy process regardless of diet ... but it is also true that with or without a correct diet for mass the body responds differently to anabolic-hypertrophic stimuli.
The diet for the mass must have some essential requirements that I will report below.
- Health and nutritional balance: the diet for the mass CANNOT and MUST NOT subject the body to any type of stress
- Energy and nutritional intake equal to or greater than the normal calorie diet
- Multi-fractional energy distribution
NB. The diet for mass must promote the increase of muscle mass, ensure body hydration and maintain intact glycogen and creatine-phosphate reserves, leaving the adipose tissue unchanged.
Health and nutritional balance
the diet for the mass must NOT harm those who follow it, this means that its composition, in addition to ALWAYS being harmless, should aim both at sustaining energy expenditure and at covering the nutritional and plastic needs of an athlete or a BB.
Suitability of energy and nutritional intake
the energy intake of the diet for the mass should be AT LEAST of the normocaloric type, ie provide sufficient energy and nutrients to ensure the maintenance of the desired physiological weight and body composition; if this is not enough, it is possible to increase the overall contributions according to the needs of the subject.
With regard to energy macronutrients, we could decide to increase the amount of carbohydrates (with anti-catabolic function before training or pro anabolic at the end of training) and possibly the lipid one, both evenly distributed throughout the day; the same is true for the protein one (to favor the reconstruction of myofibrils and predispose them to hypertrophy) which is also uniformly distributed and estimated on the basis of weight and real body composition.
In the diet for the mass, the TOTAL amount of energy must also take into account the training / workouts and, if the subject does not respond adequately to the treatment, it is possible to increase it up to 110% of the normocaloric (high calorie diet).
In general, the supply of essential nutrients, vitamins and minerals is easily reachable both with a normal-calorie diet for mass and with a high-calorie diet.
Multi-fractional energy distribution
the energy and nutritional distribution of the diet by the mass must be multi-fractioned, in order to guarantee a TOTAL coverage of nutrients avoiding opening windows of catabolism during the day (at least 6 meals). This principle is applied in a different way if it is: a normocaloric diet or a high calorie diet; the quantitative prevalence of an energetic nutrient (carbohydrates, lipids and proteins) over the other two must respect the TIME and the type of activity carried out, therefore it acquires considerable importance on the success of the diet for the mass. In the first case (normocaloric) the distribution of nutrients throughout the day can be fairly even between carbohydrates, lipids and proteins, since the energy introduced is well calibrated based on the overall energy expenditure and nullifying the possibility that the anabolic stimulus of insulin on the adipose deposit is excessive. On the contrary, if it is a high-calorie diet for mass, the distribution of energy nutrients must respect the hormonal balance to the maximum by concentrating the carbohydrates especially in the antecedent, intra- and post-workout meals, avoiding large glycemic loads especially in the evening hours or in any case in moments of sedentary lifestyle.
Details on carbohydrates in the diet for bulking
The sugars in the diet for mass must ensure a sufficient energy supply to avoid catabolism, to stimulate insulin for muscle anabolism and to support the reconstruction of energy reserves (BETTER if in association with proteins and less with lipids). They should be predominantly low-glycemic index (GI) in meals away from training and high-GI immediately after the session.
Details on dietary lipids for bulking
The fats in the diet for bulking have the function of covering the need for essential lipids (AGE) and fat-soluble vitamins (A, D, E, K); they should not increase proportionally to the energy and if they remained around 25% they would limit the increase in adipose tissue even if associated with good carbohydrate weights.
Details on protein in the diet for bulking
Dietary protein for mass should be calculated on the subject's muscle mass; personally I use a coefficient in relation to the desirable physiological weight (therefore overall but which includes a maximum of 15% of adipose tissue) of the athlete, adapting it to his real body composition. The proteins must be equally distributed over the day but not exceed 30-40g per meal, in order to guarantee their absorption and plastic / energy use by the body.
NB. For a practical example, read a Diet for Bulking Example.