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Why Am I Not Gaining Muscle?

Posted by Evan Perperis on January 4, 2015 at 11:45 AM

I get just as many questions about having trouble gaining weight as I do about losing weight. The problems are usually obvious when you look at someone's diet, eating schedule and post workout routine. These are the top 5 reasons that people fail to gain muscle.

#1: Not eating frequently enough


Typically guys (and sometimes girls) will ask me how do I gain muscle weight? The statement is often followed up by I am eating a ton but not putting on muscle. My first question is always how many times a day are you eating an actual meal. Junk food and snacks do not count as meals. Usually the answer is three or less. If you are not adding muscle, add more meals. Your body will be able to process the food better along with supplying a consistent stream of energy throughout the day. The spike in protein every 2.5 to 3 hours will help spur muscle growth.

If you are trying to put on muscle and are eating less than five meals a day that is the wrong answer. Five meals a day should be the minimum. If you cannot eat that often because you feel full, try eating healthier food and in smaller portions. This will allow you to eat more often because it is less filling. Once you are used to the constant feeding you can then add in more protein and more carbs.

#2: Eating Too Much Garbage


This one is often tied to not eating enough. Often the people who complain are eating Big Macs or some other unhealthy fast food for one or more of their meals. When you consume these super high calorie/fat meals, it fills you up for the rest of the day. This will result in missing the other meals you had planned for the day. Stay away from garbage food except as a final meal for the day (as long as you do not mind putting on some fat with that muscle). This will ensure you hit your goal number of meals and goal macronutrients for the day.

#3: Not eating before bed


While you sleep for eight hours a night, your body is still fueling itself but you are not eating anything. This is also the prime time for muscle recovery and growth. If you are going to bed without protein in your stomach, you are shortchanging your gains.

A slow digesting protein is preferable, specifically casein protein. Add in some healthy fats to slow down the digestion process while you sleep. Do not feel like spending money on supplements? Use cottage cheese, it is naturally high in casein. If you do not like cottage cheese then stick to a slow digesting protein that contains fat such as a lean steak or salmon. This should literally be the last thing you do before bed. Eat your steak or casein shake, and then get in bed.

#4: Not eating immediately upon waking


Similar to the last mistake, many people are shortchanging their gains around sleep time. After 8 hours of sleeping with no food, your body needs protein to start building again. It is important immediately upon waking to eat some fast digesting protein and some carbohydrates. Your body had burned off many of its carbohydrates (glycogen) while you slept and now it needs more so it can use the protein for building instead of for energy. Try eating egg whites immediately, you can cook hard-boiled eggs a week in advance or of you prefer, go with freshly cooked egg whites in the morning.

#5: Middle of the night snack


I occasionally do this while bulking for a bodybuilding competition or if I feel my training volume is very high. It is the middle of the night snack. Typically, I need to get up to pee at some point in the night due to my bedtime protein shake. Prior to going to bed, I preposition food in route to the bathroom. This allows me to squeeze in more protein in the middle of the night.

I have done this in the past with precooked and peeled egg whites, which requires a little bit of effort. I have also done this with chewable amino acids or amino acid pills. The amino option is easier and makes it easier to fall back asleep afterwards. I recommend Endurance Aminos. Despite the name, the amino acids these pills contain are good for both endurance exercise and muscle building.

If you do not normally get up in the middle of the night, I would recommend not doing this. I think a continuous sleep cycle is more important for your body to maximize muscle gains then forcing your body out of its natural cycle just to squeeze in more nutrients. After all, you growth hormone spikes when you sleep and sleep is where you build muscles.

 -Evan Perperis

Categories: Strength & Speed, Nutrition & Supplements , Strength