New to weight gain and really overwhelmed...

  • Kohaku

    Posts: 87

    Nov 26, 2015 8:28 AM GMT
    I've always been one to step on the scale to make sure I wasn't gaining weight. If the numbers were higher than before, it was easy enough to do some cardio and reduce calories. I wished I could have a more muscular body, but insecurities and lack of knowledge kept me from straying from the treadmills and bikes. As long as I wasn't getting chubby, I was content enough.

    However, I recently decided to strive for that muscular body. Some things have changed, but the lack of knowledge hasn't. "Something about protein and lift heavy stuff" pretty well sums it up.

    Anyway, I've started lifting weights and exercising at home because the nearest "gym" is a 20-30 minute drive if the traffic is great, 40+ if it's bad, and has an exceptionally sparse assortment of gym equipment for it's exorbitant price tag. I'm in the process of working out a set workout schedule, so if anyone has tips for home workouts and/or equipment, I'm all ears there.

    My big burning question is about calories and macronutrients. How much of what should I be taking in? Protein seems to be a hot button topic, and after reading up on it all afternoon I'm more unsure than before. The feeling I'm getting is that there isn't a simple answer, but can I get a ballpark answer? Or some opinions? How much protein per kg or lb should I be shooting for? What about carbs and fat? Daily calorie intake? Should I think about other supplements, too?

    Some info about me:

    26 years old, 173cm (5'8"), 69kg (152 lbs), 17-18% body fat (my best estimate)
    New to weight training and gaining
    I feel like I'm a light eater usually, but rarely I really shovel it in ; ;
    I teach so I spend about equal time on my feet as behind a desk
    I live in VERY rural Japan, so that comes with a host of issues
    My diet is tricky. With my job, I eat the school provided lunch with my students five days a week. It's generally high calorie and high carb at about 750-900 kcal (looking at you white rice), but pretty healthy with a lot of fresh and locally sourced vegetables and fish. Protein content seems to range from 30-40g. Not so sure on fat content. I try to avoid rice outside of lunch. I rarely eat breakfast, but I've been doing better with that lately. Dinners I can make or buy, but my grocery stores look a bit different than most...

    Sorry for the wordy post, but I try to be thorough. If I left out important info, let me know. I really appreciate any information.

    I want to gain muscle, don't know what I'm doing. Send help.
  • badbug

    Posts: 800

    Nov 26, 2015 12:22 PM GMT
    First, figure out what your goals are.

    You want muscle? How much? How fast? Are you willing to get a little soft while you add mass or are you looking to lose weight and add muscle at the same time?

    If it's the latter, i suggest steroids unless you have great genetics and/or are planning on gaining a tiny amount of mass each year. (i am not suggesting steroids, i am suggesting realism)

    A lot of people fail to make progress because they don't want to put up with the hard work progress demands. Some hard work is physical, doing the exercise, other hard work is mental and emotional....willing to do a proper bulking phase, willing to commit to a plan and not just give up and blame your woes on bad genes.

    I am only taking this tact because there is a ton of information out there and you're going to get a ton of people telling you to eat this or that and lift this or that and most of them will look good enough in their pics, which tells you absolutely nothing about their methods.

    Most bodybuilders, probably 95 percent of them natural or not employ the same methods of diet and exercise. You aren't juicing, so your diet and training will vary to a degree but the general principles are the same.

    Google lifting for size, lifting for mass, eating for mass....the first article that came up for me when i did just now, was "flex online eating for mass"

    read that, then read a few more articles on bodybuilding websites and you will find they're all pretty much the same.

    These guys are juicing, no one is denying that, but the principles are the same.
    What you don't want to do, is follow some cross-fit, men's health type diet for dudes that just want nicer abs....if any article you are reading is talking about how you don't need protein, you might aswell just toss it away as rubbish, because it is. Football players, professional wrestlers, bodybuilders, bro dudes at the gym with big arms, all eat a lot of protein because it fucking works. If you are looking for muscles that are bigger and look bigger, you want to follow a bodybuilding style diet and routine. If you want to improve performance in a specific sport or be able to do flips with a backpack on while climbing up a mountain, prepare to stay small and make shitty gains that will have you looking pretty much exactly like you do 2 years from now...but you'll feel better.

    So we're back to goals....

    Taking you at your'll want to work up to 2 grams of protein per lb of body weight. You'll start at 1 gram and slowly work up to 2 in a few months. Every animal, whether it's people or dogs or mice do better slowly adjusting to a new diet. You don't want to just start downing protein shakes or eating huge quantities of meat or else you'll get sick or bloated and it will suck.

    Carbs are trickier than protein, as they aren't as important but are. That really depends on your body's ability to burn them. Some people eat as few as 1 gram per lb of bodyweight and others eat 3 or 4 or even 5. It depends on your energy levels and again, your goals and the rate at which you want to achieve them.

    Fat is also important.......calories, come from these 3 sources. Calories is the main thing you want to watch, along with protein. People eating lower carbs, make it up with higher fat intake. This is probably not overly recommended.

    Spending time behind a desk is a good thing for gaining muscle, the more you rest the better.

    You'll want to lift heavy and get adequate rest between sets. You'll want lower reps to build strength and nice thick dense muscles. This is where a lot of bodybuilding routines won't work for you, because a) you're naturally smaller and b) you aren't on'll require heavier weights to build strength, activate more muscle fibres and cause your body to release more growth hormones and shit.

    Working out at home will work at first, cause you're just starting and you'll see good gains early. But eventually you will need heavy weights that only a gym can provide at a reasonable expense. If someone convinces you to do only bodyweight stuff....say hello to the backpack mountain climbing dude for me.

    I am going to stop writing now as the point of this post was to direct you to find more information on websites devoted to the actual sport of building muscle, which is what you seem to indicate you want to do. If you don't i don't really're in japan and it is unlikely i will get to fuck your new musclular body icon_smile.gif

    Another thing, DO NOT buy any shit any of those websites are selling. lol You need nothing but some form of protein supplement most don't want to be eating too much fish, regardless of whether or not it is fresh or from a nice part of the ocean. Heavy metals are a real issue in consuming too much seafood, among other things. But you don't need any secret new pill or potion or liquid. You need quality fruits and vegetables and protein.

    You don't need protein powder, chicken will do but it's likely that you'll just find it is easier.
    Lots of veggies and fruit will supply the vitamins and lots of healthy fats will supply the EFAs and saturated fat you need to build T and other hormones.

    Really though, it's all about figuring out what works for you and learning for yourself what is and isn't correct information and best practices.

    So if you take away should be:

    "google lifting for mass and then google eating for mass" icon_smile.gif
  • leanandclean

    Posts: 232

    Nov 26, 2015 1:54 PM GMT
    Do you need to gain weight quickly for some reason?

    If not, you could experiment with different approaches over time and see what works for you.

    I am skeptical that there is a magical ratio of protein / carbs / fats that works for everyone. Enough protein is certainly important, but too much of it is hard on your organs.

    Your bigger challenge might be gym access since one consistent piece of advice is that you should do lots of squats and deadlifts, sometimes heavy.
  • ardeerd

    Posts: 35

    Nov 26, 2015 2:13 PM GMT
    In my opinion, i think you should burn some of that body fat off before you worry too much about gaining weight.

    As for macros, there are calculators you can use to find out what your intake should be. I'm a flexible dieting guy, so i don't think what you're eating matters if you're hitting your macros.

    If getting enough food is an issue, try this.

    Drink milk, eat eggs, eat dirty when you need to (like a pint of ice cream), lift heavy. And yeah squat and deadlift.
  • Posted by a hidden member.
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    Nov 26, 2015 10:45 PM GMT
    People hire engineers, electricians, plumbers and whatnot to build their houses, but for some reason they think they can do sports nutrition themselves. Everyone is free to go DIY, but be ready to potentially lose years on trial and error.

    A good sports dietitian is specialized in sports nutrition and will keep track of your body fat, weight and adjust your diet accordingly. He or she will create a diet based on your budget, daily schedule, athletic goals, taste in food and appetite.

    It is indeed overwhelming for a beginner to learn sports nutrition on top of learning proper exercise form, how to establish a life routine that's conductive to muscle gain, etc... It's too much to learn at once. I've been there.

    Stop reading this forum and go hire a professional who really knows how to help you. It will save you a lot of time (and money)
  • Triggerman

    Posts: 519

    Nov 27, 2015 12:44 AM GMT
    I agree with Bachian. Info on forums is only as good as a magazine or your buffed cousin. What works for one is maybe good or maybe useless for another. If it is useless, you have wasted time, energy and enthusiasm.

    For nutrition, spend an hour with a good registered dietician or certified nutritionist. It will be money well spent.

    As far as gaining size, there is muscle hypertrophy and muscle power. If you want size, hypertrophy, stick to basics like bench press, squat, deadlift, bent over rows, bicep straight bar curls, shrugs in the 8-12 range adding weight when those reps are easily achieved.

    If you want power, and some size always comes with that, do the same in a 3-6 rep range. Take a minute or two between sets to completely recover. Push yourself. Work a program for 4-6 weeks and then change it. Maybe the same exercises but with a different grip or stance. On deadlifts, switch to sumo style instead of standard. Wide grip bench instead of standard. Underhand rows instead of overhand. Mix it up.

    But always work in multi planes. Most guys workout in only sagittal, forward or backward. Or to the side. Mix in loaded (with weights or some other external resistance such as band and medicine balls) with unloaded (bodyweight such as pushups, chin ups) with loaded twists of some sort such as wood chops with a weighted ball or kettle bells and unloaded multi plane movements such as yoga, bodyweight one-legged squats with an alternate toe touch. Anything that makes you move in more planes, or directions, than one. That will work all the small stabilizer muscles along with the main muscle, or agonist.

    Stay off the treadmill for a month, it is an unloaded linear movement, and instead work the muscles that will one grow stronger and bigger from resistance training and two eat up the same amount of calories all day. Muscle is energy expensive and the more you have the more energy, calories, you will burn anyway all day.

    Good luck and have fun.
  • badbug

    Posts: 800

    Nov 27, 2015 1:08 AM GMT
    Yeah totally spend money you don't have on someone who is going to tell you to eat vegetables.

    My internist said something funny to me: "you've got google too"..... the point being, you don't need a medical degree to read. Where do you think these dieticians got their information? from a professor who got his information from a book published in 1980. Then after reading their books published in 1980 they got some hard and fast theories that they will always be biased towards drilled in their heads....and they go out into the world seeing any new information as a threat to what their almighty professor taught them from his book published in 1980.

    It's human nature. It happens in all academic fields.

    The reason you hire a plumber or an electrician or an engineer is because they have practice on tools and a mechanical inclination. Also a house is a finite thing in the sense that if you screw up a foundation, you will need to repair it which will involve stripping down materials and rebuilding.

    If you don't eat the right amount of protein, you can just start eating the right amount of protein. You don't have to tear yourself apart and start over, nor will you start leaking in the case of plumbing! lol

    I mean , sure yeah, hire a dietician, hire a personal trainer, hire a chaffeur to drive you around, you aren't a professional driver after all? did you go to school to learn to drive? What internet school did you go to? should you even be on a computer without a degree in computer science, or atleast without having been taught how to surf the web by someone who has one?

    go to, join their forum and plenty of people will help you without encouraging you to waste money on shit that is pretty much common knowledge.

  • Posted by a hidden member.
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    Nov 27, 2015 2:59 AM GMT

    Long texts that go in every direction are not going to help someone who's overwhelmed with too much information. "Information is out there / Google is your friend" is a weak argument because the problem is not accessing the information, but selecting the right one. The internet is awash with diverging opinions on nutrition. How is OP going to know who's right? Unless someone who has an economic interest in his success gives him an answer and puts him on track, he will be left to his own devices and he's bound to waste his time and money on trial and error. Hiring a dietitian is actually cheaper.
  • ardeerd

    Posts: 35

    Nov 27, 2015 7:51 AM GMT
    I would caution against the bodybuilding. Com forums haha
  • Posted by a hidden member.
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    Nov 27, 2015 11:36 PM GMT
    Do this: (At least it will get you started.)

    Total Daily Caloric Intake

    40% protein
    40% Carbohydrates
    20% fat

    Protein Sources:
    Skinless chicken breasts
    lean beef
    Egg Whites
    Protein Supplements

    Carbohydrate Sources:
    Sweet Potatoes
    Other potatoes
    Rice (white, brown, kaleidoscope)

    Green Stuff
    sea weeds
    green beans
    (I put greens in a separate category because they are so nutrient dense you can eat as much as you like.)

    Nut Butters (like peanut butter, almond butter, just make sure "sugar" is not in the first 2 ingredients on the ingredients list.)
    Olive Oil
    Peanut oil
    Flax Seeds
    Fish oils

    To consume fruit and dairy or not is controversial. If you are a newborn calf who needs to put on 200 pounds of fat, find a healthy milking cow and get it right from the tap.

    Treat candy, fruits, refined products, and so forth as a reward for completing a marathon or a holiday celebration. In other words, don't completely avoid them but enjoy on a limited basis.

    If you are hopelessly addicted to coffee, drink it black only. If you add sugar it, treat it as a candy; if you add a creamer, treat it as a fat. Just drink water.

    Add a good multivitamin, 1.5 gallons of water, and at least 8 hours of sleep to your daily practices.

    Since you're going to be doing mostly non-gym exercises, get creative. The basic movements are bending the hips as you would to sit in a chair; pushing movements like push ups; pulling movements like pull ups; nose to knee movements like crunches. The body doesn't know the difference between 100 of metal at a gym and 100 pounds of sand in your basement.

    Finally, write everything down. Write your goals, your currents and your progress.

    Good luck and don't give up.
  • badbug

    Posts: 800

    Nov 28, 2015 3:54 AM GMT

    "Long texts that go in every direction"


  • Kohaku

    Posts: 87

    Nov 28, 2015 7:51 AM GMT
    bachian saidPeople hire engineers, electricians, plumbers and whatnot to build their houses, but for some reason they think they can do sports nutrition themselves. Everyone is free to go DIY, but be ready to potentially lose years on trial and error.

    A good sports dietitian is specialized in sports nutrition and will keep track of your body fat, weight and adjust your diet accordingly. He or she will create a diet based on your budget, daily schedule, athletic goals, taste in food and appetite.

    It is indeed overwhelming for a beginner to learn sports nutrition on top of learning proper exercise form, how to establish a life routine that's conductive to muscle gain, etc... It's too much to learn at once. I've been there.

    Stop reading this forum and go hire a professional who really knows how to help you. It will save you a lot of time (and money)

    I wish that was an option. Living where I do, without a full command of the Japanese language, that's probably impossible. Even if there were such a person for hire in my area (unlikely), I lack the Japanese ability to be able to communicate. There's a chance he/she may speak some English, but it's small. I'm here on forums and reading around the net because I believe that trying to improve is better than accepting that I'm stuck until I live in an English speaking country again.
  • Kohaku

    Posts: 87

    Nov 28, 2015 8:21 AM GMT
    Thanks for the feedback guys. I really appreciate it.

    As for goals in response to leanandclean and badbug, I want to be all around more muscular and fit. Arms that fill out sleeves and biceps that peak. Having pecs at all haha. Abs with definition. Rounded shoulders, not my bony ones. And I realize that every part of the body needs attention so you don't look like a turkey, legs, back, etc., but if I have to write a want-list, those are the one's that immediately come to mind. I want to do that without using any kind of steroids. I'm a drug-free person and that won't change. In response to leanandclean specifically, it doesn't have to be done quickly. I'm in Japan for a few more years, but when I leave and move to someplace with a gym, I'd like to not be the scrawniest guy there. I've got the time now to build a good foundation.

    As for information on the net versus information from a professional, only one is really an option right now. I could maybe find a nutritionist at a hospital around here, but Japanese ideas on nutrition seem different than Western ones. There's a three group (red, yellow, and green) system that makes me "Huh?" a lot. Plus my Japanese isn't all that great. I'd be happy to put up the money for some professional input, but if I only understand 30%, I'm really not getting much out of it. So...for now, I'm at the mercy of the net and forums, but WITH a healthy amount of skepticism and caution. If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is, right? I doubt there's any kind of miracle diet and exercise that makes up for determined effort.

    And jimib, thanks for the detailed post! That's helpful and seems to be in line with other sources and articles I've been reading. 2,625 seems like a big number to me right now, but I'm trying. I am struggling getting enough protein, so I did buy some whey protein.

    Thanks again for the input guys. Sorry for the wordy reply!

  • Posted by a hidden member.
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    Nov 28, 2015 3:57 PM GMT
    With some sports dietician, you can consult long distance over e-mail. Try Dr. Susan Kleiner in Seattle, Washington. With weight lifting, you should consider beginning with power lifts to build strength before size.