In fact some people are looking for ways in which to bulk up and put on a bit of muscle. The technical term for people with a skinny build is ‘ectomorphs’. They generally have long, lean muscles and struggle to put on weight.
If you are, or someone you know is an ectomorph, then the solution is not to simply pile in more calories. Excessive fat will, as in anyone, build up and cause you health problems, as well as hiding any muscle gain you have achieved.
Ectomorphs looking for a beefier build need to pay attention to both what they eat and how they eat.
Balance is the Key
Eating a balanced diet is the cornerstone of healthy weigh gain for ectomorphs. The body needs protein to build muscle (about 2.5 to 3.5g per kg of bodyweight, depending on training intensity), so protein should make up 40 per cent of total intake. Carbohydrates are needed to supply the energy for converting protein to muscle, and should also make up about 40 per cent of the diet. The hormone testosterone is important in muscle building, and a lack of fat in the diet will affect its synthesis. Therefore, fat needs to make up the other 20 per cent of a balanced diet. Eating five a day (or more) portions of fruit and veg will supply the body with fibre, which slows protein digestion and helps with the absorption of muscle-building amino acids.
Little and Often
Ectomorphs are advised to eat little and often since this will keep the body in fat-burning mode. This will help to define those steadily growing muscles. Some studies have shown that when you stop eating for long periods, your metabolism slows down, and you store more fat (as the body prepares for starvation). However, the amount of research in this area is too small to be conclusive at this stage.
Eating little and often is also advisable to keep blood sugar levels constant, reducing the risk of fatigue and keeping insulin levels steady. Fluctuations in insulin are linked to insulin resistance, which is associated with Type 2 diabetes.
Sleep it On
Finally, most of your muscle growth occurs during the recovery period when you are asleep. Human Growth Hormone (HGH) stars increasing when you are in deep sleep (usually 30-45 minutes after dozing off) so make sure you get enough kip. At least six hours of sleep is recommended, though individual differences apply. If your friends accuse you of being lazy, just tell them it’s all part of your weight-training regime.
Disclaimer: This blog post is for information only and does not constitute expert advice. For expert dietary advice, consult with your GP, dietician or trusted healthcare expert.