Q: I increased my food intake to five meals a day a few months ago and thought I was making progress, but I’ve seen no increases in bodyweight or muscle girth. My strength in the gym has hardly increased either. I’m concerned that my nutrition requires further adjustment. Here’s a typical day at present:
Meal 1: Oatmeal, a banana and a protein shake with two whole eggs and two egg whites
Meal 2: A tin of tuna spread on two whole-meal baps [rolls]
Meal 3: 175 grams chicken, 75 grams white rice and a small salad
Meal 4: 175 grams chicken, 75 grams white rice and a small salad
Meal 5: A hearty meal with plenty of protein and carbs, with veg or salad
The meals are spaced about three hours apart. I take an additional protein shake on training days and snack occasionally between meals.
A: You’re consuming very little dietary fat. That hinders, if not prohibits, muscle building for most people. Get 25 to 30 percent of your calories as dietary fat—from healthful sources, of course.
That you’re not gaining weight means you’re not taking in enough calories. Increase your caloric intake a little, and adjust your meals so that you get more healthful fat—each day have some oily fish like sardines, mackerel or salmon; and a little cod liver oil, butter, flaxseed oil and extra virgin olive oil. Some cheese every day would be good and perhaps an avocado on some days as well.
Still, you don’t want to boost your calories so much that you start to gain noticeable bodyfat. Find the greatest number of calories you can eat without gaining noticeable bodyfat—and don’t try to stay very lean while you try to build muscle.
Good nutrition is essential, but no matter how well you eat, if your training isn’t adequate, you won’t make any bodybuilding progress. You also need to get enough sleep Even if your nutrition and training are excellent, if you’re not sleeping well almost every night, you’re unlikely to make good progress. You must get all the components of bodybuilding in excellent order, consistently, if you want to make good progress.
Editor’s note: Stuart McRobert’s first byline in IRON MAN appeared in 1981. He’s the author of the new BRAWN Series, Book 1: How to Build Up to 50 Pounds of Muscle the Natural Way, available from Home Gym Warehouse (800) 447-0008 or www.Home-Gym.com.