Mass Building Diet Tips for Teens & Twenty Somethings

Written by Jason Ferruggia Topics: Nutrition

mass building diet tipsThere’s never a time in your life when you’ll build more muscle faster than somewhere between the ages of about 16 and 22 (or up to 25 for some people). Your anabolic hormones are cranking, your recovery ability is through the roof and your digestive system is performing at peak capacity.

Even if you don’t eat above maintenance or do any strength training at all you’re still going to build muscle and gain a significant amount of weight. Everything is growing throughout your teenage years.

If you do the right things, training and nutrition wise, you can dramatically enhance that and pack on size in a two or three year time period that guys in their 30’s wouldn’t be able to gain in a decade.

So please stop wasting these precious years. You can never get them back. Stop jumping from diet plan to diet plan and workout to workout. You’ve gotta get focused.

Stop worrying that too much red meat is giving you cancer or that fish oil is giving you cancer or that a bowl of freaking white rice is giving you cancer! It’s silliness brought about by spending too much time on Facebook.

If you’re 21 years old and you’re eating with the primary goal of living to 110 I promise you you’re not going to gain any significant amounts of size and strength.

Fifteen years or so down the line your digestive system won’t be able to tolerate the same foods it can today and it will force you to start to clean up your act a bit. Take advantage of that while you can or you’ll just be sabotaging yourself and will never come close to reaching your goals.

There’s nothing worse than training for a decade and waking up one day realizing that you’re really not that much bigger or stronger than you were when you started. Sadly, that’s what happens to the majority of people. Then they want it all in their late thirties or early forties. But at that point they’ve already let their peak years for this stuff pass them by. Huge gains in size and strength will be harder to come by.

A forty plus pound muscle gain in a three year period isn’t unusual for a guy who does everything right starting at around 17-20 or so. But it’s highly unrealistic that a guy who’s 43 would be able to do that by his 46th birthday, even if he is a raw newbie. In 99% of cases it would be impossible.

So start eating like you mean it. If you stay ripped then that’s going to be about 3-4 large meals per day and some liquid protein and carbs around training. If your metabolism is humming along and you don’t have any problems staying lean then have carbs, protein and fat at every meal.

Some Awesome Mass Building Meals

When you have to eat 4,000-6,000 calories per day to gain size you want to make sure a lot of those meals are easy going down. You can’t be chewing through a big, lean, dry steak and broccoli all day. It’s too time consuming and daunting.

For gaining size there’s no better meal than a big bowl of grass fed ground beef or bison and organic Jasmine white rice. If I had to pick only one thing to feed a dude looking to get jacked that would be it. Throw in some greens and you’re good to go. That goes down easy and doesn’t leave you stuffed to the gills. Make that a staple.

Another one is 6-8 scrambled eggs and a big bowl of hot rice cereal with berries. If you need to throw some organic honey or maple syrup in there to make it easier to get down then so be it. You can also add some almond, hemp or raw milk to it and a tablespoon of nut butter.

Or you can make protein pancakes by cooking gluten free oats then mixing and egg or two and some protein powder in them then frying them up in a bit of coconut oil or grass fed butter. Throwing some blueberries in there works pretty well too. If you struggle for calories and always keep your abs then cover them in butter and organic maple syrup and wash them down with a glass or two of milk.

There’s nothing magical about having liquid carbs and protein right after training but it simply allows you to get more easy calories in. So drink some protein and carbs at that time then eat another big meal 60-120 minutes later.

For some more extra, easy calories, cook in lots of coconut oil and grass fed butter and add more of it or some olive oil to the top of whatever you’re eating.

What if You’re Skinny Fat?

In this case the game changes completely. Skinny dudes who always have abs can overeat themselves to twenty pounds of muscle in a year by doing what I recommended above. Skinny fat dudes who have the tube steak arms with zero definition, little pot belly and soft pecs while weighing 135 (like I did as a teen) have to follow a much stricter plan. As does pretty much everyone over 35.

In this case I’d recommend timing your carbs, meaning you should have them around workouts and at night. The rest of the day should be protein and fat meals with some greens.

For everyone who doesn’t stay naturally ripped with abs always showing and a vein running down your biceps, I recommend following The Renegade Diet. Unfortunately, if you were dealt this genetic hand you won’t be able to gain size at the same rate as your ripped, genetically blessed counterparts, but it is what it is and you’ve gotta make the best of it.

If you’re skinny at 18% bodyfat gaining size is always going to be a pound-your-head-against-the-wall struggle because most of the weight you gain will be fat. Your belly and tits will get bigger at a faster rate than your arms and traps.

That’s why you should always lean down first. So that when you try to gain size more of the calories are partitioned to muscle building rather than fat storage.

After you’ve leaned down you will still always have to fight the skinny-fat gene. That means you can’t go on an old school bulking plan. At that point you’ll continue to follow The Renegade Diet, but simply bump up the calories and possibly add another meal earlier in the day.

You’re only young once. Don’t waste those precious years.

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16 Responses to Mass Building Diet Tips for Teens & Twenty Somethings

  1. Seth August 2, 2013 at 12:11 pm #

    Great article Jason! Thanks!
    I like your point about adding coconut oil, butter and olive oil to plenty of things. I would say adding as much healthy fat as you can at that stage of the game would be ideal, especially if you’re eating plenty of protein.
    One thing I would add is to make sure you’re getting plenty of clean water. Muscles simply cannot grow as well if they are not getting proper hydration.
    That’s good advice for the skinny fat dudes. I would also recommend considering supplementing with probiotics and maybe digestive enzymes. This might help them absorb the food and nutrients they consume and allow them to be driven to the muscles rather than the belly fat.
    Thanks again Jason

    • Sarah August 10, 2013 at 7:51 am #

      You are right, Seth. Good hydration is important for building muscle. Over 65% of your body is composed of water. Most of the muscle cell is water.

  2. Dwayne August 2, 2013 at 1:53 pm #

    Alright..I just turned 31, and I’m now depressed after reading this…lol. I’m looking forward to some motivational reading for the 30+ yr old guys out there.

  3. Martín August 2, 2013 at 2:02 pm #

    It’s always nice to have nutritional posts here!!

    I’m going up slowly, i’m in a light surplus, 400-600 cal, and getting 300-500 gr a week, my workout template isn’t very enfocated to HYPERTROPHY+strength, but is more like STRENGTH+hypertrophy… so i’m not growing too fast.

    Hope always you post a lot of nutri-information my friend

    Greetings from Mexico Jason!!!

  4. Kaku August 2, 2013 at 6:48 pm #

    How much weight can I expect to gain as a skinny fat 20-year-old in a year if I lean down and then do strict Renegade Diet protocols to gradually add lean mass?


  5. Kaku August 2, 2013 at 6:49 pm #

    By lean down, I mean from around 18%-20% BF to between 12% and 15%

  6. Milet August 3, 2013 at 1:21 am #

    Hi Jason,

    Good Article. I’m 25, 160lb and 5’6″ and have been working out since the start of the year. I’m struggling to get rid of this beer belly (I don’t drink any alcohol but I use to have a shocking diet with lots of fat and sugar) I’ve got and all these protein shakes and carbs my PT suggested for me are making it worse. Would you recommend the Renegade Diet for me?

  7. Matt August 3, 2013 at 8:15 am #

    I love that picture of The Rock from his cheat days of pancakes, pizza, and cookies.

  8. Andre lima August 3, 2013 at 1:33 pm #

    Nice article Jay! Would you recomend the same to a female client?

  9. Marcus Fitness August 4, 2013 at 12:43 pm #

    Great info here.

  10. Jon August 5, 2013 at 7:53 am #

    Great article – I love your enthusiasm! Definitely agree on optimum muscle building potential being during those ages. Of course, the difficulty is that a lot of people in those age groups might not really know what they want, might not be able to focus on it – but someone in the 30s might be able to really focus. Combine the two and you’re onto a massive winner!


  11. Kellie C. August 6, 2013 at 9:15 am #

    Thanks for the tips! My brother has been wanting to grow plenty of muscles all these years but still hasn’t succeeded in doing so despite of all the gym workouts/weight lifting that he did! So that explains it. It’s his diet that isn’t right. I’ll tell him everything you posted here.

  12. Brandon Cook August 6, 2013 at 12:47 pm #

    Great points Jason and interesting topic! I wish I wouldn’t of screwed sh!! up when I was younger… but most of us do. haha… With your insight into this topic, I’m curious what do you think the potential of someone in their mid-thirties could be with proper eating, training and focus? Could a 35 year old still pack on 20-30 pounds in 5-10 years? Personally, I feel like it’s an achievable goal, but with the hormonal drop maybe this just wishful thinking…. it would be good to know for setting realistic expectations for oneself.

    • Brandon Cook August 6, 2013 at 12:50 pm #

      Also… I should say another 20-30 pounds as I was 130lbs at 18 and have gotten up to 155lbs. In 2010 I was up to 172lbs following Triple Threat Muscle… but lost it due to injuries. Hoping to get it back!!! :)

  13. Chris August 9, 2013 at 3:30 pm #

    I guess 26 is not too far off from the peak so I should be able to gain a significant amount of mass still right? :D

  14. Paul S. August 14, 2013 at 9:57 am #

    Great article! Although I am in my late twenties I wish I have started training at a younger age and taken advantage of the muscle building potential during those years. But I still think I am able to gain a significant amount of mass though :) Thanks for the nutritional advice.