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Here's How To Gain Muscle When You Can't Have Nuts

Tired of being recommended almond butter? Want more variety than eggs and nuts? We have you covered.

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1. So you want to get hench, but you have some dietary restrictions.

As you may know, eating for your goals is an important part of gaining muscle mass.

However, if you're a gymgoer with dietary restrictions, such as a nut allergy or an issue with eggs, you can find that many good gaining foods are off-limits.

BuzzFeed Life consulted two experts to provide help for those in need: Douglas S. Kalman, PhD, RD, director of nutrition research at QPS-MRA, sports nutritionist for Florida International University, and co-founder of the International Society of Sports Nutrition, and Brian St Pierre, MS, RD, CSCS, director of performance nutrition at Precision Nutrition.

2. First of all, let's identify what makes a food a great gainer.

Kalman recommends people look for "each meal to provide somewhere in the 20 to 40 grams of protein per serving and be lower in free (added) sugars, but contain healthy types of carbohydrates".

What separates an OK food from a great gainer is its ability to meet as many of those criteria as possible. For example, these recipes tick all the boxes:

Overnight Oats With Blueberries and Chia Seeds

Bean, Kale, and Egg Stew

Grilled Breaded Tofu Steaks With Spinach Salad and Tomato Flaxseed Bread

So if you're wanting to go new Drake but are unable to eat the typical foods others go for, you need to find nutrient-dense, filling alternatives that contain lots of protein and have the right fats.

3. It's also important to understand how many calories you need to eat to help reach your goals.

"Sometimes it is wise to learn how many calories one burns in a day," says Kalman. "Once you know that, it is math and some ease to figure out how much you need to eat in order to support growth."

Kalman's general recommendation for most people looking to bulk up is "about 200 to 500 extra calories per day, no more than 1,000 extra calories in a day if possible", and it pays to get an exact figure if you're looking to achieve your goals with minimum fuss.

Calorie counters like this one can make for a useful starting point when sorting out what works for you, but be sure to read around and find things to help you to personalise your goals, such as our This Is How Many Calories You Actually Need story.

4. If you're unable to eat nuts, don't worry: There are number of good gainer replacements.

"Nuts are used by some athletes who want to gain weight," says Kalman, "because in general, nuts are high in calories with some fibre and some protein."

When looking for a nut replacement, it's important to know what your allergy is. As St Pierre tell us, "peanuts are not technically a nut, they are a legume. So a tree nut allergy does not react with peanuts. Unless you're in the rare case where you're allergic to both nuts and peanuts, you can use peanut butter as a replacement for your tree nut allergy, and vice versa.

If you ARE allergic to both kinds of nuts, it's important to work in foods like avocados, olives, dates, and raisins which can help provide extra carbohydrates and healthier fats to help you reach your goals.

• Try substituting coconut butter in place of a nut butter in a smoothie recipe.

• Or make one of our avocado recipes for a good snack on the go.


5. When it comes to packing in protein, you can skip the eggs and try Greek yogurt or cottage cheese.

The reason so many gainer diets seem to revolve around eggs is due to their nutrient-dense nature, St. Pierre says. "They [eggs] are rich not only in protein, but choline, lutein, zeaxanthin, B vitamins, vitamin D, and a whole lot more."

While that's a long list of nutrients to replace, foods such as cottage cheese and Greek yoghurt can serve as a worthwhile swaps if you have dietary restrictions.

6. Shakes and smoothies are also excellent ways to pack in extra calories and nutrients.

Shakes and smoothies allow you pack in calories in liquid form, making them a handy way to get in an extra meals worth of nutrients in a quick and easy manner.

St Pierre recommends Super Shakes, a recipe series his team of food nutritionists have created to help you get the gains in. Aim to create something that offers the correct mix of lean protein, veggies, fruits, and healthy fats.

A good primer shake recipe would be:

• 150-250ml water (just enough for it to mix)

• 2 scoops of your chosen protein

• 2 handfuls of spinach

• Half a frozen banana and 2 pitted dates

• 2 thumbs of flax or chia seeds

• Top with a few sprinkles of coconut and 5 ice cubes

You can also try out the recipes in our 17 Ways To Add Protein To Your Smoothies Without Using Chemical Powders guide for inspiration.

7. Most importantly, be dedicated.

"Overall, be results-oriented," says St Pierre. "If something is working for you, roll with it. If it's not, if you're not making the gains you want or you are gaining too much body fat, adjust it regardless of how solid your plan appears on paper. Always go by your actual results."

If you're happy trucking along your swole search with your current diet then keep going. Listen to your body and do what's comfortable.

And don't forget your resistance training.