By Chad Zimmerman
"To put on a pound of muscle a week from weight training, you must eat an additional 2,500 calories a week-on top of your normal caloric intake", says Ruth Carey, nutritionist for the Portland Trailblazers. "That's an extra 300-400 calories a day."
Buy a Shake
Because most student-athletes can't find the time to eat the number of meals that will provide that many calories, Carey suggests using supplements.
"I recommend Ensure and Boost to the Trailblazers and high school athletes. They are balanced meals in a can", she says. "They're high in calories and carbs, and contain protein, vitamins and minerals. They're available at most grocery stores and are less expensive than lots of other supplements."
Ready-to-drink meal replacements are portable, and both brands have a Plus line that provides more than 300 calories a shake. Both supply a 4:1 carb to protein ratio, making them viable options for post-workout recovery. "If you don't get your 4:1 recovery drink in that one hour window after a hard workout, you won't replace your glycogen or repair your muscles as efficiently", Carey asserts. "Post workout recovery is a major part of effective weight gain, because it is during that time when the body repairs and rebuilds itself to add pounds of lean muscle."
Make a Shake
If the thought of drinking grandma's Ensure completely freaks you out, Carey suggests using mom's blender. "You can get your extra calories in a smoothie", she says. "Throw in a cup of yogurt for about 150 calories, two cups of juice for another 120 calories, a couple berries to add 40 more, and then, if you want, toss in a scoop of protein powder to hit about 350-400 calories."
Extra calories are the most important key to weight gain, and high-calorie, easy-to-make shakes are a great way to get them. The vitamins and minerals in the juice and berries also help you stay healthy.
Balance Your Meals
According to Carey, not missing a meal is really important for high school athletes looking to build muscle. She says, "Most high school athletes don't like waking up in the morning, so they skip breakfast. However, breakfast should be a really big meal. To put on weight, you have to get up in the morning and eat two eggs, two pieces of toast, a big glass of milk, and a piece of fruit or a glass of juice."
Making up a missed meal by eating larger meals with more calories has its drawbacks. "If you miss a meal and then backload your calories at the end of the day, you're more likely to put on fat than muscle", Carey says. She suggests making breakfast, lunch and dinner the same size, and then adding in at least two snacks-one before and one after workouts or practice.
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