Gaining weight and building muscle can be the toughest and most concerning task for many young athletes on a quest to achieve athletic success. Building muscle is important in any sport you are involved in. It benefits you physically and it can provide a psychological advantage to you on the field, court, or ice. But for some reason, no matter how much weight you lift, how much effort you put in the gym and practice, you still end up looking like a skinny twig on game day. This can be due to a variety of factors, including genetics and metabolism. However, it isn’t impossible for the young athlete to build muscle. There are few simple things young athletes can do.
1. Add 500 calories per day to your diet
If you are a young high school athlete that lifts weights and trains hard but still struggles to gain weight, chances are, you are not eating enough. While it is unsafe and impractical to suddenly eat 12,000 calories like Michael Phelps (that’s a myth by the way), you can easily add 500 calories. If you find that you have gained more than 2 pounds after a week, cut back to just 250 calories and adjust accordingly. The key here is to be consistent and diligent. Weigh yourself at least once a week around the same time of day so you can properly gauge your progress. Keep in mind that as you continue to with this plan, your weight gain will slow as time progresses. Depending on what your specific goals are with overall athletic performance, you will either have to cut back in calories, maintain, or even add. So make sure you keep constant eye on your progress.
2. Carb up and fat up
Protein has pretty much stolen the show in terms of muscle building nutrition.
You need approximately 0.6 – 1 gram per pound of bodyweight per day to build muscle. As a high school athlete, you probably have heard of consuming a lot of protein from fitness magazines, your coaches, and fellow teammates who find it rather easy to bulk up. And chances are, you probably already consume quite a bit of meat, fish, eggs, protein shakes, and other dairy products. If you find yourself not consuming these foods, you better jump on the bandwagon. But since your schedule is likely bombarded with classes, homework, practice, games, and other club sports, adding carbohydrates and fats might be your missing links. Carbs are your main source of energy for most high intensity sports and are needed to drive muscle growth. Fats are your source of energy for endurance type sports such as cross country. But fats are also essential in high intensity sports in that they help your body access stored carbs. Carbs should constitute about 40 percent of your diet while fat should make up 10 to 20 percent.
To get some good carbs and healthy fats, get used to eating cereals, rice, pastas, almonds, oatmeal, crackers, bagels, and even popcorn. Drinking whole milk will add a good amount of healthy calories to your diet too.
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