The ectomorph body type has a predisposition to burning through calories a little too efficiently: instead of adding to your bulk, most of your food intake ends up burned off as fuel. Hardgainers with small appetites have even more obstacles to overcome, as they get full before they meet their macros. This quick guide will offer five tips to help you pack on more calories without bursting at the seams or going overboard with junk food.
1. Mind the Density
Remain mindful of the calorie versus volume ratio of the foods on your diet sheet. A bodybuilder could get full on leafy vegetables before even coming close to meeting those caloric intake needs – fruits, popcorn, and so many other otherwise healthy foods fall into the same trap. Make sure that your recipes are helping you build weight instead of simply weighing down your appetite.
Save room for exceptions. Bagels and peanut butter are great examples. These foods are filling, but they provide so many calories and macronutrients that getting full faster does not make much of a difference. Stick to these low-density, high-nutrient foods so you can pack on more calories from day to day.
2. Seek Out Quality
“Dirty bulking” is a popular method for the hardest of hardgainers. The dirty bulk philosophy gives bodybuilders permission to eat everything in sight, without necessarily paying attention to meeting those secondary macronutrient needs. While a big greasy cheeseburger might help you hit your caloric needs, eating one for every meal is not the right way to bulk.
There is very little point in dirty bulking if your food choices leave you feeling too sluggish to push yourself during workouts. You not only need to eat foods that provide plenty of calories, but you need foods that make you feel good too.
3. Make Life Easier
Every amazing weight gain program requires effort and dedication, but willpower is a finite resource. Eating good food every day sounds great in theory but waking up every morning to chop those veggies and put together those meals is not as easy as it sounds. This is especially true for ectomorphs with busy schedules – the temptation is too great to munch out on whatever is convenient, instead of whatever fits your macros.
Invest in a slow cooker, some good portable dishes, and stock up on the ingredients you need for each week. Try to make as many meals in advance as you can. Keep those meals close by so you can cram in some calories whenever your stomach beckons. Stop sacrificing all your coin to those vending machines at the office.
4. Treat Yourself
Willpower is a finite resource. Save that effort for the gym. A treat every now and again will not ruin your macro goals, and the occasional indulgence is actually a great way to boost morale. What hurts morale is the guilt associated with splurging on sweets, but guilt does not have to play a role in your eating habits if you know that you earned your goodies.
Reward yourself for sticking to your goals. If you exceed your own expectations, give yourself a pat on the back and chow down on a meal that you’ve been craving. It is so much more beneficial to indulge in a controlled way rather than breaking down and letting impulse wreck your plans. Extra calories can only help an ectomorph, as long as you consume responsibly.
5. Never Stop Learning
Nutrition is a complicated subject. Nutritionists go to college for years to learn what bodybuilders have to figure out for themselves. Never stop learning about your body and the food you are putting into it. The world of bodybuilding changes all the time – the tactics in use a decade ago are not the same tactics the pros are using today. The evolution of the sport will never stop marching on as science comes to understand the delicate internal processes of the body.
Get excited! Get your weight gain goals back on track! Ectomorphs already have a difficult enough time getting enough calories into their diets, and any step you can take to make life easier is effort well spent. When you don’t have to worry about gorging yourself just to meet your macros, you can redirect that energy and enthusiasm toward the more enjoyable efforts of sculpting your physique.
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