1. Eat enough food
When you do eat, try to eat to fullness! Not to stuffed or to make yourself feel sick, but you should feel full at the end of each meal and snacks too if you can.
Tip – Add a scoop or small portion more to each part of your meal.
This may mean an extra couple bites at each meal, an extra scoop of mashed potatoes, or packing a sandwich and a half instead of just a sandwich.
2. Eat often enough
For many people, it is hard to simply eat more in each meal. Instead, we work on the frequency of eating to help increase the total amount of food consumed.
Tip – If you normally eat three times a day, try eating 4 or 5 times a day instead.
It may be really helpful to set a schedule at first because your hunger cues will not trigger you to eat often enough until this becomes a consistent pattern.
3. Balance the intake – more than just protein
When it comes to gaining muscle, most people remember the protein. However, don’t forget about the other nutrients! We need to have carbohydrates and fats coming in too in order to build the muscle mass that we want!
Tip – Look for a source of carbohydrate, protein, and fats in all meals.
So instead of just eating extra chicken or taking a protein shake, add more of the chicken, pasta, and sauce in your meals or make a smoothie with your protein, fruit, and peanut butter or ground flax or chia seeds.
4. Get colorful in creative ways (cooked, smoothie, juices)
Often when you are first trying to eat more, you may find fruits and vegetables to be super filling and can be a limiting factor in how much a person can eat because of their higher fibre content. However, there are some strategies we can try to help still get in those very important vitamins and minerals for muscle growth.
Tips – eat your fruits and veggies in a lower volume way
Try cooking vegetables instead of eating them raw as these are often tolerated better when we are working to eat more.
Blend vegetables and fruits into soups, smoothies, and sauces so that they take up less space.
Include fruit and vegetable juices into your meals and snacks.
5. Rest and Recover
Your muscles and strength will not grow if you do not recover adequately. This means taking rest days off of working out and ensuring you get enough sleep and downtime to allow for the repair from the work you put in.
Tip – Schedule in your rest days ahead of time And check in with how your body is feeling.
There will be times when taking an extra day away from the gym is more effective in achieving your goals than working out when your body is exhausted or rundown.