Five must-have supplements for hardgainers
Are you a hardgainer (or an “easy loser”)?
If you are one of those ectomorph types who struggle to pack on mass and keep it, we’ve got your back. Read on to find out exactly how to tweak your supplement stack for maximum gains.
Whey protein concentrate
A quality whey should be central to any hardgainer’s stack. After all, it’s food (in supplement form), and hardgainers need more clean calories! A good whey protein concentrate (WPC) contains around 140kcals and 30g protein per scoop – and there’s nothing stopping you from double-scooping if you’re looking to bulk up! WPC is the ultimate user-friendly whey. You can use it any time of day, including first thing in the morning, before and after training, and before bed. You can even turn it into a meal replacement (add carbohydrates from oats, maltodextrin or dextrose, and fats from flaxseed oil or nut butter). Invent your own tasty blends and it might just tempt you to eat in a calorie surplus. From there, you’ll be in muscle-gain territory!
Oats are every hardgainers friend. Cheap, readily available and easy to use, they’re an amazing way to get quality carbohydrate calories into your day. Superfine oats are plain, raw oats which have been ground to a finer consistency so you can chuck them in a shaker with your whey and water (or milk), no need to cook or blend. You can also use superfine oats for porridge, or try soaking them in whey, milk, yoghurt, mashed banana, grated hard fruit, or berries overnight. You’ll wake up to a delicious muscle meal in a bowl.
Hardgainers definitely need to prevent catabolism. Stresses (including training), forgetting to eat, or leaving too long between meals all pose a real threat to your muscle-gain goals. You simply won’t be able to gain muscle if you let yourself enter into a catabolic state, where muscle tissue can be broken down. One of the very best ways to stay anabolic even between meals and during training is to take BCAAs. Branch chain amino acids are the foundation of protein and essential for building, retaining and maintaining muscle. BCAAs consist of the three most important amino acids – l-leucine, isoleucine and l-valine. Take BCAAs in capsule form, or mix BCAA powder with water to sip on during the day, during workouts, and after training. Hardgainers need BCAAs more than most!
We all need healthy fats in our diet, but hardgainers will benefit from them more than anyone else. Why? Good fats help you consume more, placing you in that all-important calorie surplus so you can start building muscle. Dietary fat is an easy way to bump up the calorie count of any meal without massively increasing the actual volume of the meal. If you struggle to eat large meals and genuinely don’t like the feeling of being full, fats will help you get more calories in almost without noticing. One of the best healthy fats for hardgainers is flaxseed oil. Packed with omega 3 fatty acids (the healthiest type of fat), flaxseed oil can be added to your protein shakes, mixed into dairy, oats, porridge or your night-time casein, or poured on top of veggies. Just don’t cook with it.
If you choose to add one solo amino acid to your stack, it should be l-glutamine. This amino acid is crucial for muscle gain and for recovery between workouts. Every cell in the body needs l-glutamine and it is important for a whole host of physical functions, but let’s just concentrate on building muscle right now. If you struggle to put on muscle, or find that you lose it easily (even without doing cardio), l-glutamine will definitely help. It will keep you in an anabolic state, protect the muscle you’ve got, and prevent your system from using muscle tissue for energy. If you’ve got an active job, or if you’re always stressed and struggle to eat enough, add l-glutamine to your daily supplement stack and start seeing the benefits.