Ectomorphs are notorious hard gainers and many of the calories consumed are used pretty rapidly to fuel a high metabolism.
Fundamentally they will find it very difficult to pack on some serious muscle mass because of these basic physiological principles. Granted it is very difficult to gain muscle as an ectomorph but it is far from impossible.
You will need to match the right nutrition strategy with your training plan in the gym. Importantly if you want to gain some serious muscle then you need to approach your nutrition strategy with the same intensity as you tackle your training.
You really have to get into the mind-set that missing a single meal will set you back in terms of you building muscle. There is ‘no one size fits all’ approach to gaining muscle as an ectomorph but this article will give you five important tips that could help you along the way.
However there is no ‘magic bullet’ to gaining serious muscle and it does require commitment, patience and proper planning in the kitchen along with training smart!
You need to consume foods that have higher calorie content
Basically don’t cramp your digestive system with a large quantity of low density foods such as fruits and vegetables, with the main objective of trying to boost the number of calories in your body.
These foods will make you feel full and they can be rather uncomfortable when training hard at the gym. Yes consuming fruit and vegetables is healthy for you but as an ectomorph you need to focus on calorie rich foods such as fresh grass fed beef, whole eggs, rolled oats and almonds (or any nuts).
These foods do have a much higher calorie content than fruit and vegetables; as a hard gainer you need to be consuming at least 15-25 calories per kg of bodyweight.
Don’t overburden your body
As an ectomorph to gain muscle you need to be eating far more calories than you are expending. This will create a positive energy balance within the body and you will start to gain weight and muscle.
Realistically a ‘ballpark figure’ in terms of consuming calories is between 4000- 5000 per day. However you may need to rethink that ‘more is better’ in terms of getting lots of calories and gaining muscle very quickly.
There are no short cuts to gaining muscle! You need to build up to this increase in calories consumed gradually so that you don’t shock and overburden your body; especially your digestive system.
A good strategy is to begin with 15 calories per kg of bodyweight and increase the number of calories up to 25 over a 2-4 weeks duration.
This ensures that your body will adapt to the boost in calories and it will help you to get used to eating more calories throughout the course of the day.
Try to spread the calories load throughout the day and if possible you should be eating meals every 2 and half to 3 hours. This includes breakfast, lunch, dinner and supper along with snacks in between.
This strategy will ensure that your insulin levels remain high and this is a catalyst for gaining weight and muscle growth.
Drink some calories
As soon as you wake up consume a whey protein shake and just before you hit the sack drink a casein protein shake.
Whey is a faster acting protein than casein but both have an important role in muscle growth and repair, and the above mentioned timings are vital to stop the muscle from cannibalizing itself.
Aim to drink at least one more shake per day because liquids will fill you up far less than solids. Try to add peanut butter, flax seeds, coconut oil, oats and use whole fat milk as this will boost the calories content of the protein shakes.
Eat the right ratios
As an ectomorph you should be consuming 50% protein, 35 % carbs and 15% from health fats.
Another quick method is to use 2 g protein and 1.5 g carbs per pound of bodyweight.
Words of advice – don’t substitute your carb intake with fats! Although the right amount of healthy fats can help with testosterone production and they do facilitate a reduction in muscle inflammation caused by training.
Healthy fats from sources such as coconut oil and unsalted nuts are high in calories e.g. 100g of almonds = 550 calories!
Don’t forget your carbs
Pick one carb source and stick with it – this strategy is adopted by many bodybuilders.
An excellent source of carb is oatmeal because the body can process it with ease, it is a good source of fibre and 500 g per day is around 2000 calories.
It is easy to prepare and can make you feel less bloated than eating other carbs such as pasta, bread and rice. However, you need to see what works for you in terms of eating carbs; as you may like a variety of foods to stop your taste buds from going into boredom mode!