By Team FLEX
Eight sure bets for packing in mass while staying lean
#1 LOAD UP ON LOW-FAT CARBS We all know we need to increase protein and carb intake for muscle growth and recovery to occur. The daily parameters are 1-1.25 grams (g) of complete protein per pound of bodyweight and 2.5-3.5 g of carbs per pound of bodyweight. When pushing the carb envelope into the 3.5 g neighborhood, switch to fat-free sources of protein, such as fish, egg whites, protein powders, skinless chicken breasts, nonfat cheese and nonfat cottage cheese.
#2 DUMP CARBS AS FAT INCREASES To build trainloads of muscle, add red meat to your diet. Muscle-building red meat is high in B vitamins and iron. The need for omega-3 fatty acids -- responsible for enhancing glycogen formation, retarding muscle breakdown and promoting hormone production -- mandates eating salmon, steak or flaxseed oil four days per week. During those steak and salmon days, lower carb intake to 2.5 g per pound of bodyweight to prevent an increase in bodyfat.
#3 OPT FOR SLOW-BURNING CARBS IF YOU'RE A HEAVYWEIGHT If you tend to be on the heavy side of the bodyweight equation, stick with natural slow-burning carbs. Yams, oats, rye bread, Cream of Rye cereal, peaches and apples all yield smaller insulin bursts, thereby helping to discourage the accumulation of bodyfat.
#4 CHOOSE ANY CARB IF YOU'RE LEAN If your percentage of bodyfat tends to be low, you can chow down any type of carb. Leaner athletes release less net insulin than their heavier brothers and sisters. Less insulin means lower bodyfat. Bagels, rice, pasta, fruit and low-fat cookies are all legit.
#5 INCREASE FAT ONCE EVERY 10-14 DAYS Did you ever eat an entire pizza or a greasy hamburger and surprise yourself with an awesome workout a day or two later? The fat may have helped you reap the rewards of your heavy labor. Occasionally bumping up fat intake actually upgrades the body's ability to store muscle glycogen. Take a break from the typical clean bodybuilding diet every 10-14 days and include higher fat foods, such as burgers, cheese, pan-fried steaks, T-bone steaks, whole eggs and bacon. Stick to 1-1.25 g of protein per pound of bodyweight. Keep carbs at 3 g per pound of bodyweight.
#6 SUPPLEMENT WITH CREATINE AND RIBOSE Most mass-seeking bodybuilders take 5-7 g of creatine with their posttraining meal to increase strength and size. Adding 5 g of ribose may enhance those effects slightly in some people. Ribose is a naturally occurring sugar that may help increase adenosine triphosphate (ATP) levels. ATP is the energy source that's derived from both carbs and fat and, at the cellular level, ATP provides energy for training and recovery. Ribose theoretically retains byproducts of ATP breakdown during strenuous training, providing muscles with more raw material to make new ATP.
#7 PS... I LOVE YOU Phosphatidylserine (PS) is a phospholipid -- a cousin of dietary fat -- that can moderate cortisol levels. Cortisol is the double-edged hormone released with hard training. In small amounts, cortisol actually inhibits muscle irritation. Released at high levels during severe training, it can strip the body of lean muscle tissue by chewing up precious amino acids. To keep cortisol levels within a favorable range, use 800 mg of PS 30 to 60 minutes before your most demanding workouts.
#8 VARIETY EQUALS SUCCESS Alternating high-calorie and low-calorie days offers better results than eating the same quantity of food day in and day out. The same change-it-up-to-keep-things-fresh principle applies to training volume. After five weeks of dieting and training to get big and lean, bump up the number of sets you perform per bodypart by 50% for one week. Cut back your normal volume by 50% the following week.