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The Fit 5: Starting a Nutrition Plan

Our fitness expert answers your questions about the right diet to complement your fitness regimen.

For all of our fans who shoot us questions on our Facebook page, this one is for you. Each week, we will tap into our pool of editors and experts to help with any questions or challenges you are having with your fitness regimen. This week, Sean Hyson C.S.C.S., Group Training Director for Muscle & Fitness and Men's Fitness magazines, answers questions about the basics to better nutrition. Be sure to read up on all of Sean’s articles here on MensFitness.com or in Men’s Fitness and Muscle & Fitness magazines each month. You can also catch Sean on Twitter

1) Skinny Bulker — asked by Joshua Workman What's the best diet and workout plan for skinny people who have trouble gaining weight?
“Focus on carbs. Potatoes, sweet potatoes, brown rice and oats should be eaten at nearly every meal. Aim for about two grams of carbs per pound of body weight on training days. You can have less on days you don’t lift, but if you find you’re still not gaining weight, increase them. Of course, you also need plenty of protein—one gram per pound. In the gym, make sure you train the entire body with free weights and use exercises that work the most overall muscle mass—the squat, deadlift, overhead press, bench press, chin-up and row are all good choices. Your reps should be in the five to 12 range, so use heavy weights.”
2) Catabolic Foods — asked by James Irons Are vegetables and fruit really 'catabolic' foods or it that just another nutrition myth?
"I have never heard of any food being catabolic, which means breaking down muscle for energy. Eating is not associated with losing anything (except maybe your abs). Fruits and vegetables are light in calories and protein, which means they’re not associated with major muscle gains the way meat and starchy carbs are, but they’re absolutely essential to your health and, indirectly, help you gain muscle by providing the vitamins and minerals you need to recover from workouts. Don’t even think about reducing your intake of vegetables."
3) Caloric Intake — asked by Lorin Bosoc Do you need to eat the same amount of calories on rest days as you would on workout days when trying to bulk up?
"No, but I prefer to focus on carbs rather than overall calories, as the foods your calories come from are crucial. When trying to bulk, eat two grams of carbs per pound of body weight on training days and around one on non-lifting days. You’ll have to see how this works and adjust from there."
4) Pre-workout Meals — asked by Lee Sharanjit Tamber What is good to eat an hour before a workout that won't make you feel sluggish?
"Protein and fat. Eggs and bacon, ground turkey and avocado with a little salsa, or even a cheeseburger without the bun will all give you energy without any major jumps and crashes in blood sugar. I personally don’t recommend carbs before training anymore, as they can inhibit fat burning during the workout and zap your energy—starchy carbs tend to have a sedative effect, so I like to have them only post-workout and later in the day."
5) Fat Burning Diet — asked by Alex TzyKu What's the most effective fat burning diet?
“Anything low-carb. You can set up your diet a thousand different ways, but if you’re eating oats, potatoes, bread, or other starches regularly, you won’t get as lean as possible. The simplest way to do it is just to keep carbs to a minimum on days you don’t lift. Have some fruit and, of course, eat plenty of vegetables. On days you lift, drink a post-workout shake that contains carbs right after training and then eat more starches in the hours afterward. Monitor yourself and try to lose a pound per week. If you aren’t losing that much, reduce your carbs further."

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