THE TOP 10 THINGS TO PUT IN YOUR MOUTH TO GAIN MUSCLE (and why now is the best time to swallow)
By Branden Hayward, CPT
Ooh, gurl. If you’re in the Northern Hemisphere, things are getting sunny. It’s getting warm, and you are watching the days get longer than the line for the men’s room at a circuit party. We all know what goes on in there.
We are taking off more clothes, thus giving ourselves carte Blanche Dubois to start the annual summer tradition of sucking in our nonexistent gut.
And like Trump to Clinton at that debate, the season of vacations, beach parties, and travel looms menacingly close to us. They beckon us to fall out of our workout routines and good eating habits.
These conditions could set the stage for us to fall into a workout slump and self image pit. Or, we could use these realities as the ingredients from which we concoct our very own Alyssa-Edwardian tongue pop gogo juice, fueling an oft-desired and oft-elusive outcome: added muscle mass.
What the frack am I talking about? Keep reading.
First things first. Lifting weights – consistently, and like you mean it – is essential to increasing muscle mass. Lifting weights in this manner releases feel-good endorphins for positivity, dopamine for pleasure, and testosterone for a healthy sex drive.
Second, consuming a LOT of calories is a must for anyone looking to become bigger. For many people, being able to enjoy unlimited quantities of favorite foods increases their feeling of comfort, satisfaction, and happiness.
Thirdly, yes, gurl, you will need to temporarily sacrifice those abs by getting a little softer around the midsection while you pack on appreciable muscle mass. You can still look sexy and fit in that speedo.
Still nervous about the above concept? Consider this: Michelangelo didn’t start with the David. He started with a massive slab of marble, and from it chiseled David. You can be David, kween. But first you gotta become a slab of muscular marble. Get into it. Feel the fantasy.
And finally, in order to maximize your gains, you will need to optimize your sleep patterns. Getting a bare minimum of 7-8 hours each day is a crucial and sometimes overlooked component to the successful consummation of this worthy goal.
For the remainder of this article, I have selected the second item above, muscle foods, to focus on.
Here we go:
1. MILK. Milk is, hands down, my favorite food for muscle gain. Why? Milk contains all three macronutrients – protein, carbohydrates, and fat. It’s a liquid, making it easier to consume than solid foods. It takes zero preparation time. It’s readily available and can be swiftly purchased during a break at work from a convenience or grocery store, cutting down on food prep time at home. Most importantly, its’ benefits for mass gain are well known and irrefutable.
One approach to integrating milk into a bulking diet is to add in one liter of 2% organic whole milk between meals, up to four liters per day. “This is the simple and rightly venerated GOMAD (Gallon of Milk a Day) approach to mass gain,” writes Timothy Ferris in his New York Times-Bestselling opus on physique transformation, “The Four Hour Body.” He adds: “[This approach], along with squats, has produced monsters for more than 75 years.” Lactose intolerant? Ferris advises trying just one liter of organic milk, spread out over the course of the day. Your body may very well adjust to this, and eventually be able to handle several liters a day.
2. NUT BUTTER. (Cue an Ariana giggle.) Fat holds more than twice as many calories per gram than carbohydrates or protein. Thus, foods high in “healthy” fats – like nut butter – pack an exceptionally calorie-dense punch. “When you’re trying to gain weight, fat can help,” explains (hunka hunka) Gregg Avedon, Men’s Health cover model and author of “Muscle Chow.” “Without enough fat, your body can’t effectively produce testosterone, one of the key hormones for muscle growth,” he adds.
Now, a warning. (Cue Isabella Rosselini to Meryl Streep in Death Becomes Her.) Diets *too* high in fat are not a good idea. Too much fat elongates digestion time, keeping your feeling of fullness lasting much longer than we want (more on that further down). Aim for 3-4 thumb-sized servings of fat per meal/snack.
3. BANANAS. They are a quick and easy addition to any meal, and work well as a stand-alone snack. I am no stranger to downing two or three bananas in a short period of time (oh-krrrrr) – they are softer and easier than downing two or three apples during a break at work, or in between appointments. Bananas are loaded with nutrients, too.
You may be wondering – what about vegetables? Vegetables have key nutrients that fruits like bananas don’t offer, but vegetables offer very little in the way of carbohydrates for glycogen replenishment. Instead, they will just take up valuable room in your stomach, making it harder to reach your daily calorie goals. Certain professionals probably feel differently about this than I do, but I opt for a multivitamin when I know I’m not getting enough veggies (if I’m really on my A game, which is 40% of the time). Save the room in your belly for calorie rich foods, you sexy muscle God.
4. PASTA. It packs a carb – wallop and it’s low in fiber, meaning it involves less chewing. If you don’t care for pasta, opt for one of her starchy but slightly lower-calorie cousins: breads, cereals, and potatoes.
5. RECIPE #1. A mass-building dish that Ferris recommends – and I have come to swear by – is a home made pasta-based party-for-your-mouth. It can be created in large batches from ingredients so simple I have purchased them all from my local bodega. Ideally, one starts with a mac and cheese packet, for the cheesy powder goodness, but it’s not mandatory. Boil five parts pasta, drain, and toss with a few pats of butter and a half cup of milk. Stir in two parts turkey or beef chili. Add part of the cheesy packet for taste. Divvy up portions to enjoy over the coming days (an abundant Tupperware collection is a must for anyone looking to change their body, unless you have your own private chef).
How much of should you be eating? Good question. In short: you should aim to eat until the brink of feeling sick, as much as possible. No, I’m not playing. No, this is not the only way to gain weight. It is, however, the method that has helped me overcome a stubbornly high metabolism in my 20s and early 30s to go from a natural weight of roughly 160 pounds, up to 210 pounds at one point. No one said this was going to be easy. But when your legs are so thick they don’t fit into your jeans and your back and shoulders are so muscular that they bulge out from underneath an ordinary T-shirt (not a muscle T-shirt), it will become blazingly clear why you put yourself through all of this.
6. RECIPE #2. The other treat I swear by, and put my clients and myself on when mass gain is the goal, is “the shake.” This is also inspired by Ferris. It will come as little surprise that it includes the first three ingredients on this list. It goes as such: one banana, three level tablespoons of nut butter, 20 ounces of organic 2% or whole milk, and 30 grams of whey protein. 4-6 ice cubes are optional. Blend and enjoy post workout, first thing in the morning if you’re not a big breakfast gal, or really any other time of the day you choose.
7. MASS GAINER. My favorite supplement for mass gain is Serious Mass. They aren’t paying me to say this. I have been a big fan of this product since 2011 — it was the first and only product that helped me surge past the 180-pound mark that had seemed so impossible for years. I think the secret to Serious Mass is in the number of carbohydrates: one serving packs a punch of 250 grams of carbohydrates and 50 grams of protein. I have enjoyed this shake up to three times daily while gaining, but that’s because I don’t mind risking stomach sickness. For someone not used to the product, I advocate starting with a singular, half serving each day for one week, to assess tolerance. If the stomach feels manageable, the dosage can be increased from there.
8. YOUR FAVORITE FOODS. Add them to this list. Foods you enjoy consuming are more likely to sustain a spot in your daily diet.
9. PSYLLIUM HUSK FIBER POWDER. The foods detailed above are low in fiber, but high in calories. You will probably need a fiber supplement to keep everything moving in a calm and orderly fashion. Psyllium husk fiber powder is my favorite for this purpose, and it’s cheap. It tastes horrendous – like sawdust – but the results are so noticeable and satisfying that some of my clients are hooked for life.
10. WATER. The male body is about 60% water. Muscles cannot be built on food alone. Big muscles need big hydration. Those bodybuilders traipsing around with the gallon of water are doing it for a good reason. At least three liters per day is necessary, not including the water you consume while sweating and exercising. It is OK to subtract your milk intake from the daily water requirement.
If you’re like many, you are probably wondering, “when is this chatty diva gonna talk about protein?” Well, in a way I have. Protein is in milk, turkey and beef chili, whey protein, and Serious Mass, all listed above. Without a doubt, though, protein has taken a back seat to carbohydrates in this article. That is no accident.
When it comes to bodybuilding, protein is a fraction as important as carbs, in my experience. Don’t believe me? Take it from Brent Brookbush, my body – savior (physical therapist). Dr. Brookbush has educated thousands of personal trainers, written and consulted for various fitness magazines, and penned the fantastic book “Fitness or Ficton? The Truth About Diet and Exercise.” “Studies show that no more than .9 grams per pound of protein [daily] will be useful for gaining muscle,” he explains. “So why do fitness magazines suggest 1-2 grams per pound of muscle mass? It’s simple. They’re biased. Most fitness magazines make a large percentage of their profit from the advertisement of supplementation. Protein powder manufacturers are going to make it seem like the only way to get enough protein is to use their product and a lot of it.” No fake news here. My results with my own body building journey support his words a T.
There you have it. A baseline explanation of the cast of characters that have been instrumental on my journey from twink to muscle daddy. I’ve supported my thoughts with help from science, highly regarded experts in the field, and the results of dozens of my clients, from undergraduates to retirees, whom I have stewarded on their journeys of adding ten, twenty, and twenty + pounds of muscle.
To maximize your results, you will need more than this general list of foods and meals. A nutrition coach who works to understand and meet you at your current habits, and gradually, incrementally helps you apply and sustain detailed lifestyle modifications specific to your body and goals, will help you go much further than you could go alone. I provide this service, and hope you will consider retaining my services so that you can develop the physique of your dreams.
If you’ve actually made it this far in the article, you’ve demonstrated the commitment and tenacity that building muscle will require. It’s a journey that will leave you misunderstood, in a diet culture that focuses mostly on weight – loss. Eating enough to gain and keep weight will challenge you mentally and physically. The food preparation and clock – watching will at times make you feel like you are going crazy.
But you are a gay man. This sh*t ain’t nothing compared to the adversities you have looked squarely in the eye, and either defeated or handled.
If you can accept and even embrace these challenges of mass building, my fellow, you will become stunned as you watch the body of your (cue Taylor Swift) Wiiiiiildest Dreams become the (cue Courtney Act) body-ody-ody you wake up in every morning.
Branden Hayward is a New York City – based personal trainer and nutrition coach. A highly sought, Tier 3+ trainer at Equinox for the first several years of his career, he started his own business in 2015: Sustain Your Change, Inc.
In the summer of 2017, Branden was ranked #1 on gay blog Unicorn Booty’s “Best Personal Trainers to Follow on Instagram,” a list which included trainers across the world.
His clients have included Drag Race alumni Miss Fame and Peppermint, as well as individuals of prominence in the industries of music, pornography, finance, fashion, modeling, art and design.
Branden offers remote training and coaching options for clients across the world. To learn more and contact him, visit www.brandenhayward.com.