Virtual visit appointments available 7 days a week from 9:00am to 11:00pm. Learn More
Gaining Weight – Building Muscle
Athlete ScenarioI’m a defensive lineman on my high school football team. My coach said I need to bulk up and gain weight to get more playing time. I workout harder than my teammates yet I still can’t put on weight. I have tried muscle building supplements and eating a high protein diet but nothing seems to work. What am I missing?
Nutrition Goals for Building Muscle Mass
- Eat balanced meals rich in carbohydrate and moderate in lean protein and fat to supply your body with the energy and nutrients needed to build lean tissue.
- Include and extra 300-500 calories a day above current calorie needs by adding snacks or increasing your portion sizes.
- Fuel strength training sessions with foods containing carbohydrate and protein to provide energy for muscle contraction, spare protein from use for energy, and supply amino acids for building and repair.
- Eat every 3 to 4 hours to ensure optimal nutrient availability.
- Have your body composition assessed by a professional before weight gain to ensure that the added weight is muscle mass, not body fat.
Snack Ideas to Fuel Muscle Growth
- Flavored milk
- Nut butter (almond, peanut, cashew) and crackers
- Granola or muesli with 2% or whole milk
- Cottage cheese and salsa with tortilla chips
- Trail-mix with dried fruit and nuts
- Meal replacement shakes
- Fruit yogurt or kefir
- Cheese and crackers
- Low-fat granola or sports bars
Tips to Take With You
- Excess protein will not build new muscle tissue. An appropriate training stimulus plus extra calories are key to muscle growth.
- Proper timing of meals and snacks fuel recovery from training sessions and promote muscle growth.
- Consume a snack rich in carbohydrate with 10-20 grams of protein before and immediately after strength training sessions.
- Set realistic weight gain goals along with a timeline to achieve those goals.
References & Sources
Written by SCAN registered dietitians (RDs). The key to optimal meal planning for athletes is individualization. For personalized nutrition plans contact a SCAN sports dietitian or Board Certified Specialist in Sports Dietetics (CSSD) by accessing “Find a SCAN Dietitian” at www.scandpg.org | 800.249.2875.