22 Feb Nutrition Q&A’s
NUTRITION QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS
How do I calculate how many calories I need to consume?
To gain weight you need to consume more calories in a day than you burn, naturally, though exercise and allow a bit extra for muscle growth. This number can be hard to calculate because everyone is different. However there are numbers that work as a starting point and you can adjust accordingly.
Our programmes contain tables to calculate how many calories you should be consuming a day based on your current weight. These are then broken down into potions for each meal. Using this as a starting point we recommend you assess your progression after two weeks, if you’re not noticing any gain in weight then increase the daily calories by an extra 200. After a further two weeks assess again and increase more if needed. Most people will find the recommended amounts are enough though.
How do I know how much to eat for each meal?
When you know how many calories you need to consume each day you need to split this into meals. We use a six meal plan (five main meals and one post-workout meal – typically a shake). If timing doesn’t allow this for you, then you can split the meals into less. Likewise if you find you are really struggling to consume the amount of meals needed, you could split them into smaller portions so you eat less, but more often.
The calories don’t have to be split evenly either. You could have three bigger meals with more calories, and two smaller meals in-between. It’s really up to you. Our programmes give a breakdown for each meal into how many calories you should be having, and the macro-nutrient contributions (proteins, carbs and fats). We wanted to create a system that’s simple to follow and understand, and that allows users to plan meals effectively.
How do I plan my meals?
When you know how much you need to eat for each meal, you can plan your week. Look at the macro-nutrient breakdown per meal, and what foods contribute highly to each. You can mix and match different foods to create different meals, or if you want to bulk prep a load of meals for the week, you can batch cook and allocate those to one of your daily meals in your plan.
You’ll likely find certain foods and meals that you like more so than others. As you become more experienced you’ll probably find yourself sticking to those particular meals more often. Our programmes give you a breakdown of different foods so you can plan your meals with more ease and less confusion.
What is bulk prepping?
Bulk prepping/cooking/batch cooking – whatever you want to call it, is the process of preparing a larger portion of a certain meal with the intention of splitting it over multiple meals. Doing this allows you to cook for multiple meals with the effort of one meal, saving you time later in the week. You peel and chop your ingredients and cook once (with perhaps three or four times the quantity of ingredients), rather than doing this daily. If you struggle with time during the week, preparing your meals at the weekend is a great way of staying ahead. Food can normally be kept in the fridge for a few days, but you may also be able to freeze some foods for another time.
What if I struggle eating the amount needed?
This is a big worry for people starting out with a weight gain diet. You will need to eat more and that’s something you’ll have to accept. If you try and stick to three main meals a day, it will be hard. Instead we recommend eating smaller meals, but more often. In our programmes we suggest six meals a day which makes it more manageable.
You can also look at increasing your calories gradually. If you’re currently averaging 2200 calories a day, and your target is 2700 calories per day, rather than upping it by 500 straight away, you could increase by 250 calories the first week and another 250 calories the second week. Breaking it down makes it’s more manageable for your body to adjust to.
Is it going to cost me a lot of money?
Not necessarily. Chances are you will need to eat more than you are currently, so your food shopping will be greater and probably more expensive. This doesn’t mean you have to spend a lot on food though. If you plan your meals for the week and prep in bulk it can actually work out more cost effective than if you buy food to make several different meals. Some foods can also be bought in bulk and frozen which can be a great way to save money (e.g. packs of meat), just defrost what you need, when you need it. If you’re smart about your meals you don’t need to spend a fortune. Our programmes include a weekly meal planner, and a portioning system so you know how much you need to eat and when.
How much time is it going to take me?
This is down to you and how you prepare for the week. Some people will bulk cook meals in advance and store each individually in air-tight containers in a fridge, ready for the day they’re needed. Others may prepare food the night before or even on the same morning. Bulk cooking will save you the most time as you can prepare enough food for three or four days in one go.
How often do I need to eat?
When you know how many calories you need to consume per day, you can split this any number of ways. Take into consideration your time restraints, but also how much you are able to physically consume in one sitting. When you first start adjusting your diet you may struggle to eat the amount needed, but you can start off slow and gradually build up to the amount you should be eating.
Our programmes split the calories into six meals, five main meals and one post-workout (which normally would be a protein shake). This is a good balance between the portion sizes and what can more easily be consumed in one sitting. But really you can eat as much as you need to between however many meals you can manage, providing you meet your daily quota.
What sort of foods should I eat?
Being a hard gainer has some benefits when it comes to what you can eat. Not being able to put on fat easily means you get to enjoy some fattier foods, where other gym goers may not. This doesn’t mean you should eat dirty all the time because your body still needs to be fuelled for progress, but it does mean you can have cheat days/meals or ‘naughtier’ foods more often and get away with it.
Eating clean means your body gets better nutrients and will be more responsive for your workouts. So you need to make sure most of your food has nutritional benefits. High proteins and high carbs will make up most of the diet.
Our programmes come with a list for each macro-nutrient source of foods that contribute highly to that macro, so you can plan your meals knowing you’re getting the right nutrients for your body.
I have food intolerance’s, can I still gain weight?
Absolutely. Living with an intolerance you will already be aware of what you can and can’t eat, and whatever substitutes there are for those relevant foods. Depending on the severity of the intolerance you may find it more challenging, but providing you are able to eat sources of protein, carbohydrates and fats there should be a way to overcome it.
I’m vegan/vegetarian, can I still gain weight?
Of course. Whilst meat is a high source of protein, there are plenty of non-meat alternatives such as soya, edamame, tofu, lentils, and Quorn. You can plan your meals with plant-based proteins instead. You can also buy vegan protein shakes to supplement your protein intake.
Should I take supplements, which ones?
Supplements can be beneficial. There are many out there that do different things, many of which may not be essential. If you’re eating a healthy, well balanced diet, you should be able to get by mostly with what you are consuming in your meals. Some supplements we recommend are protein shakes, creatine, and ZMA. How much you have, and how often will depend on the label for each product. Our programmes give a bit more insight into these.
Can I take cheat days?
We don’t expect you to be healthy all the time. Who doesn’t love a cheeky burger or pizza every now and then? It’s OK to have a cheat day where you indulge in the foods you’ve been avoiding. This is unlikely to have a negative long-term affect on your progress, so enjoy it.