It’s getting to be that time of the year when the weather is turning and the layers of Gasp and Better Bodies clothing are beginning to pile up. Typically speaking, this is when most of us decide to hang up the shreds for the year and go into more of a mass phase with the hopes that when we cut back down again, we’ll be a little bit bigger and look a whole lot better. Much of what we must do during this phase revolves around our nutrition. We already love training hard so that’s not a problem but figuring out how to eat to grow all while maintaining a respectable level of conditioning, so we still look like bodybuilders, becomes the more difficult of the two tasks.
So, to help you out with this venture, here are 5 great dieting strategies you can implement this offseason to get the gains and keep the veins.
Strategy #1: Keep Your Diet for the Mass Phase
This may sound counterintuitive to the whole process, but probably the best place to start with your nutrition in this next phase is to simply keep with the same foods and diet that you’ve been using. The last thing you want to do is introduce a bunch of new foods into your plan that you haven’t been eating which will just cause a bunch of stress, inflammation and discomfort to your day. Instead, just start eating more of the same foods and that will suffice initially for the calorie bump you’re looking for.
Strategy #2: Slowly and Gradually Introduce new Foods
You all know that the diet we sometimes have to maintain can become boring and the offseason to us is a chance to eat different and new foods that are rich in calories and offer us different tastes on the menu. That said, and in keeping with strategy #1 of the mass phase, if you want to start incorporating more variety into your diet, do so gradually. Either work towards one food choice at a time (think replacing your chicken meals with beef meals) or go one meal at a time (think changing up your pre or post-workout meal) and then just keep that as a constant in your plan moving forward.
Strategy #3: Experiment with High and Low Days
The calorie restricted diet you have had yourself on to keep your fat levels low has also had an impact on your metabolism and the way your body uses energy. It probably isn’t a great idea to just start hammering in the food in the hopes that your body will just know what to do with it in an efficient manner. So instead of doing that and hoping for the best, experiment with high and low carb/calorie days.
You could start by keeping with your current nutrition plan for a few days and then bump everything up on the fourth day and then go back down. Or you could keep things high for a couple of days before bringing it back down. You really just have to experiment with this and pay attention to how your body responds to a mass phase. Once you find the right formula, you’ll see the number on the scale going up while keeping your conditioning.
Strategy #4: Use a Scheduled Cheat Meal
A lot of times, the offseason is used as an excuse to just eat whatever you want whenever you want; that’s not bodybuilding nutrition or even healthy eating for that matter. Cheat meals should always be calculated for the purposes of new growth or energy storage reasons. During the mass phase, think of using a cheat meal(s) the day before you’re going to train a lagging body part. This will ensure you have enough gas in the tank to go all out during your training session to put all those calories to good use.
Maybe one cheat meal that day is enough or maybe you need two. The nice thing here is that you’re not super focused on your conditioning, like you’d be during a contest prep, so if those extra calories aren’t all used up in the training session to come then it’s no big deal.
Strategy #5: Look the Part
Simply put, don’t get sloppy with your mass phase. If you’re a bodybuilder then you should always look like a bodybuilder no matter what phase of your year you’re in. Too many of us have let this slip at one point in time or another and this causes a whole host of issues for us. When we allow our nutrition to be all over the place and in massive amounts, we end up slowing down our metabolism, our energy levels dwindle, our performance in the gym suffers and it becomes an awful task later on when we’re trying to get shredded again. So keep the food high but clean and always look the part.
One of the most important things for you to remember during the mass phase of your plan is that this is when the real gains are made. If you’re shoveling in trash and just eating whatever you want without really thinking about it, you’re leaving too much up to chance by way of new muscle gains. You wouldn’t put regular test gas in a supercar so why would you put inferior foods in your body? Take this time of your year as seriously as you would a contest prep and the new you that you’re hoping to see in the next phase of your training will be a reality in no time.
Author: Dana Bushell
Gym Star Team Member