Hard Gainer Hacks, How to Build Muscle when you are an Ectomorph.
Ever felt like you are force feeding yourself?
So, you're getting ready to start attacking the bulking phase. You've worked out your calories and know your Macro Split. Problem is, you are struggling with a lack of appetite and having a hard time getting the calories in. Typical of most ectomorphs, you have a slower digestive tract and a serious lack of appetite. This is where food choice is crucial. Pick a typical bodybuilder carb source such as sweet potato and what you'll find is you'll feel full after a meal..... too full.
I've been there myself and I know how soul destroying it is looking at a meal that you've only just started, knowing full well that in about two more mouthfuls you'll be struggling, sweating and worried that you're going to burst your stomach if you finish it (or attempt to finish it).
Walking the walk
Before you commit ritual seppuku over your inability to eat enough, I have a few quick suggestions to make life easier all round.
- Make it mushhhhhhh.........................break the food down before you eat it; a little trick I stole from a very unhealthy place. Basically, I was reading about super morbidly obese people who have gastric band surgery and, in order to circumvent it. they switch to so called "slider" foods. What this means is they will choose foods they can liquidise to allow for easier digestion and faster gastric transit. Now, I personally think this is a little too extreme of an approach for most foods. Instead, you could opt to take that carb source and mash it up: who doesn't like mashed potato/sweet potato? Or, maybe instead of regular oats, you could buy the instant variety which is usually very fine milled (never say never though, I have personally blended tinned tuna in the past, highly recommend avoiding that one).
- Choose a carb source that is lower in fibre. The fibre content of a food can also cause issues with satiety levels. It does this because of its properties of adding bulk and viscosity to the foodstuff. Also, having to chew and break down these foods sends signals to the body to let it know you are "full". On top of that, the fibre will force you to hold more water in your intestinal tract, potentially leaving you feeling very heavy and bloated. An option in this instance would be to switch from the higher fibre food stuff such as sweet potato, to a lower fibre food source such as white rice.
- Choose foods with a "vanishing caloric density". This is another one that stems from a rather unhealthy source. Essentially, food companies use vanishing caloric density (VDP) to make you eat more of their products. A sneaky and clever ploy this one and very effective. You see, if a foodstuff rapidly vanishes, or "melts in your mouth", your body will not recognise that it is full and you will be able to eat significantly more calories than you actually perceive. Think about it. We've all had that feeling upon eating something like this that we are hungry again within only a very short time (or in some instances immediately) That's the VDP effect. So, how do you make VDP work for you? Try eating foods that break down very easily, such as creamed rice and whey or cereals. Strength coach Charles Poliquin clued me in on adding cornflakes, blended into my post workout shake, a few years back; a bit more recently everyone took it a step further and started using a protein shake to pour over a giant bowl of Rice Krispies (because when you get down to it, it's just puffed rice). Using this method you are easily able to quickly eat and digest a lot of carbs post workout. Try doing 120g of carbs from sweet potato right after you've just trained a hard leg session and tell me how much fun it is!
- Choose foods that are more calorifically dense. A lot of these tips are the opposite of how you would potentially choose food sources in order to help yourself avoid hunger when trying to get lean. So, instead of choosing more nutrient dense foods that are lower in calories, you'll look to choose more calorically dense foods that are somewhat less nutritious....... now hold your horses before anyone starts panicking that I'm about to start smashing the deep-fried mars bars. Stop it right now! I'm prepared to eat things that may be a little unhealthy once in a while, but I'd prefer to use sources that are going to have at least a little health benefit 80-90% of the time. For instance I learned from Charles Poliquin (again) to use dried fruit and nuts, which are a very calorically dense food and which will also contain, in some amounts, vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients which could be beneficial. When the metal meets the meat though, at the end of the day you'll be eating them because of the fats, carbs and proteins contained within, a high calorie, easy to grab, intra-meal snack. When you know you're going to be held up from eating for a longer period than normal, dried fruit and nuts is an easy, grab on the go way of getting those calories in. Just be careful not to over eat, as they are very moreish
So, there you have it my hardgaining brethren, some easy ways to ensure you are getting enough calories in to grow, without feeling like you need to vomit.