At some point in the year (wintertime for most, or off season, between contests, for competitors), bodybuilders are focused on training to gain size; we concentrate on bringing up the weights we use and increasing the intensity during our workouts.
But I’ve found that many of the guys who ask me questions are solely focused on the training aspect, and are not really thinking at all about their diets. That’s a mistake.
Whether you’re preparing for the biggest bodybuilding contest on the planet or you’re just a guy who’s after some size, structuring meals and timing them for mass gaining are important topics.
How Jay Cutler structures his mass-gaining diet for maximum growth
I find that the best way to structure a mass diet is to first figure your ideal protein:carbs:fat ratio. I’ve always followed the guideline of 1.25 to 1.5 grams of protein per pound of body weight per day. Some experts say you should use your lean body mass as your guide (a figure you can obtain via underwater weighing), but Mr. O says to go by your true body weight as long as you’re under 15% body fat. Carbs should be anywhere from 2-4 g per pound of bodyweight. Use the chart to figure the number of carbs per pound of body weight you should be eating.
How much of what should I eat?
I’ve always believed that carbs in these ranges, along with 1.25-1.5 g of protein per pound of body weight, is the best balance for mass. Fats, on the other hand, should be kept to a minimum–about 20% of total calories a day or less. This is fairly easy to maintain if you’re eating clean, which you should be doing year-round.
Obviously, my diet is higher in calories during this time of year because my body weight is in excess of 300 pounds. Although I have to balance meals with my busy work schedule, I try to make sure I eat (or drink) protein every two to three hours throughout the day. Carb intake is a little trickier, though, as it’s best to reserve your higher-calorie meals for the proper times each day.
If I were following a six-meals-a-day diet, I would take in my highest concentration of carbs in my first three meals, including pre- and post workout. For breakfast, I shoot for 200 g. Pre workout, I have 125 g, possibly as a six-ounce (measured dry) portion of pasta. Post workout, I drink a high-carb/protein shake and have a baked potato or rice, for a total of 250-275 g of carbs. This puts me close to 600 g of carbohydrates after only three meals, so I focus on keeping my carbs at 100 g or less for each of my remaining meals. Yes, that means almost 1,000 g of carbohydrates a day: 300 pounds x 3 g equals 900 g of carbs.
On non-training days, I back down a bit, but I keep the first three meals the same–although my third meal might drop down to about 150 g of carbs. Still, I believe it’s important to keep the calories high regardless of whether you’re training or not. By eating a lot of good, clean food, you support a faster metabolism, so you’re burning those calories more efficiently and your body becomes–and remains–a lean, mean muscle-growing machine.
Written by: Jay Cutler. jaycutler.com