I have been weight training trying to put on mass. I'm about 5'10" and 155. I'm pretty strict with eating paleo, and I eat when I feel like eating and don't when I am not hungry. Yet, my daily intake is about 2000 calories, which is about 500-600 below a calculated target. Could it be that my body doesn't need more than it is telling me? Or should I trust some equation that tells me to take in more?
Don't trust equations. But don't trust your body, either. Eat more than you think you need. If you want to gain weight, you will have to make some sacrifices.
Some people put on weight very easily. You (and I) are not one of them.
Eating = training. Training = eating. Don't do one without the other.
Start by forcing yourself to eat 2,500 kcals. If your weight stalls, increase again. You may have to go as high as 6,000 kcals, depending on your training.
You will probably not gain weight if you don't eat when you are not hungry. Eating is now your job.
Taking digestive enzymes really helped me, as well. Before taking enzymes, I failed to gain weight even on 4,000 kcals daily. I started taking 5 with every meal, and gained a steady 5 lbs. per month.
Robb Wolf also has a more advanced strategy that involves increasing kcals by around 200-400 every week, then doing a back-off week every few weeks to give your digestion a break, and to retain insulin sensitivity. Try that, if all else fails.
Personally, I gained 18 lbs. over six months by eating 3,500-4,500 kcals daily. It was not easy and it was not fun, but it was worth it. I gained more reliably when I ate enough to be very uncomfortable. When I ate less (say 3,000 kcals) I didn't lose weight, but I didn't gain, either. Maintaining my new weight is very easy, and I can do it on very few calories (as low as 2,000 if I need to).
I would say the answer above is quite accurate. You have to play around to find out what works best for you. But my question is, what is your weight training like? It's not uncommon for people to "lift weights" and wonder why they are not gaining muscle. But these people are not lifting REALLY HEAVY low reps. Pair that with taking in way more calories than usual and mass comes on. I trust you have done your homework with regards to your training routine. If not, that's not a bad place to turn as well. Good luck!
muscle gain requires calories. period.
My strategy, which worked for packing on a quick 20lbs.
2x week, Short, SUPER INTENSE full body workouts. every major muscle group, maximal weight, progressive weight increases. To FAILURE. cant lift it another time, and I try to.
Eat Tubers post workout only, otherwise standard paleo, the difference is, each day I ate 1 meal till i felt uncomfortably full. I then dont eat again until actually hungry, but still feasted once per day. most days that was one feast a day, the day following the heavy workouts, i would find myself hungry before the feast. on those days, i would prefeast, but do a light workout right before, usually jumping jacks or agility work, or pell/punching bag work(i do swordfighting for fun).
I Always trained fasted. Used BCAAs(purple wrathh based on Berkhams recommendation).
I added 5 lbs or so per lift per week. definite strength gains which equated to serious muscle gain.
I did add minimal fat, but retained visible abs, the fat has since left when the gorging stopped, but the muscle remains.
Im attempting a cyclic ketogenic version, when on non workout days i eat full carnivore and tuber up post workout to see if I can better partition the calories into muscle and away from even the minimal fat storage.
I'll chime in on this one as well...
Some parting platitudes - keep it simple, be wary of paralysis by analysis, and go get some!
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