Following a diet to gain weight and lose fat requires a different approach than the way most people eat. A lot of popular diets are concerned with losing overall body-weight, but many of them result in losing a substantial amount of muscle tissue as well as stored body fat. Even some bodybuilders fall prey to the temptation to half-starve themselves in an attempt to achieve maximum muscularity. In the process they lose out on some of their hard earned muscle.
How Not to Gain Weight
When young muscle trainers start out on a diet to gain weight, their main concern is usually to get big. But, as they become more experienced they realize that their goal should be to control their body composition, that is to change one kind of body into another kind of body, rather than blindly packing weight onto their frame. The sooner they realize the difference between building muscle mass and just putting on bulk, the better. Bulking up by getting fat, just makes it harder for you in the long run. You will have that much extra weight to work off later. Also, it promotes some very bad habits that you’ll eventually have to break.
To build a quality physique you’ve got to eat a lot smarter than the old bulking method. Protein cycling is one way that you can get big and lean in record time.
The ultimate foundation of all successful diets to gain weight is protein. If you are getting less than one gram of protein for every pound of bodyweight per day, then you need consume more protein. Once you have that foundation of quality, lean protein, you can start focusing on how and when to eat that protein in order to get the most out of your diet.
Protein cycling allows you to get the protein that you are putting into your body to work at full capacity for you. Although protein loading – simply eating more protein – will greatly help you to gain weight, there comes a point when you just can’t keep piling more protein into your body. For one thing, the more protein you eat, the more protein your body eliminates in waste. A lot of what you are paying for will simply come straight out when you go to the bathroom.
By scheduling your protein intake through protein cycling, however, you will be able to make sure that all of that vital protein that you are shoveling into your system will be used for muscle growth. Let’s find out how protein cycling can help you to fine tune your diets to gain weight to provide for maximum muscle growth.
Protein cycling can take any number of forms, but it essentially involves varying protein intake systematically to help counteract any loss of protein that would occur when protein intake is reduced. Following a six week diet to gain weight program utilizing protein cycling could see you put on as much as 10 pounds of quality muscle. This is how it works:
Phase One: Pump Phase
All diets to gain weight presuppose that you are training hard and consistently, and this one is no exception. Make sure that you are doing lots of heavy, basic movements done with perfect form.
Starting with your baseline of 1 gram of protein per pound of bodyweight, increase your daily consumption by 30-40 grams per day. The balance of your eating plan should be clean, consisting of starchy and fibrous carbs and healthy fats. Make sure that you also eat a good amount of fruit
Phase Two: Ramp Phase
Continue with Phase One for two weeks. Then bump up your protein intake by a further 30-40 grams. Continue for a further two weeks. At the end of this time period, add one more 3-40 gram increase for a further two weeks. That is a lot of protein (for a 200 pound guy, it will men eating about 305 grams of protein per day), but these slow increases over time will really help you to gain weight.
Remember that you can and should get some of that protein in the form of a shake.
Phase Three: Recovery Phase
During the recovery period you gradually reduce your protein intake back to your baseline level of one gram per pound of bodyweight. Gradually reduce this level over 14 days. Do not suddenly cut back – this will make you lose muscle tissue.
Make sure that you spread your meals out on this program. Focus on cutting back on the number of protein shakes you are having, as opposed to whole food to curtail your protein levels.
As you are cutting back on proteins during this two-week period, you should up your levels of carbohydrate and healthy fat intake. Add more fruit and veges. Try adding one serving of either of these for every 25 grams of protein you reduce.
During this two-week period you should cut back on your training volume. Cut your total number of sets by 25%, and your weight by between 10-515%. Use moderate weights but focus on the quality of your muscles contractions and the pump.
By following a protein cycling system on your diet to gain weight you’ll be able to maximize your body’s nitrogen/ protein retention during Phase One while minimizing the depletion of muscle during the recovery phase. You can repeat the cycle two or three times over the course of a year. Train hard and follow the guidelines above to make the most of the protein in your diet to gain weight and you’ll grow muscle fast.
Almost unhealthily obsessed with fitness, James is a Southern California native with a degree in Nutrition science. I am also an avid ‘body hacker’ and am constantly looking for ways to disrupt the standard ideas of how to get in shape. If you’d like to hear more about the work I do check out my blog where I write about fitness hacks, review my favorite products, and generally just publish whatever ‘body hack’ I am currently experimenting with!
6 Replies to "Diets To Gain Weight - Protein Cycling"
Sandra December 10, 2015 (9:17 am)
I do protein cycling year round. It’s a great way to build bulk and at the same time gain lean muscle!
Jack Blake June 1, 2016 (8:14 am)
Great article. I find that most people fail in their bulking cycle during the first phase. If you don’t put in the work during the phase, your body won’t be ready for the mass muscle building that is supposed to take place.
George Njogu July 18, 2016 (10:14 pm)
Thanks for the easy-to-follow guide, James.
Jonathan Hardy February 21, 2020 (11:19 am)
Thanks for the great tips. Very well descriptive writing. Keep up the great work.
Olivia Green July 13, 2020 (7:52 pm)
That;s an amazing perspective, James.
Gaining healthy weight isn’t all about eating anything and everything. It’s about maintaining a calorie surplus, but still prioritizing healthy foods over junk. When you prefer high quality whole foods over pizzas and sodas, the weight you gain comes most from muscle, eliminating any fat gains.
Jonah Smith August 16, 2020 (12:52 am)
I’ve been an ectomorph for almost all of my life, and never have I found a better article that this one. I’m going to start this diet plan from next week, and will update you with the results. Thanks!