Boy oh boy.
I’ve been putting away food lately like it’s my job. Eating whatever I want, whenever I want.
Unsurprisingly, the massive calorie flux fueled some serious strength and muscle gains. I haven’t felt this good, this strong, this superhuman in a long time and I realize that my recent nutrition habits have everything to do with it.
When you master your metabolism and give your body what it wants, beautiful things start to happen.
Want to supercharge your muscle gains without gaining bodyfat? Put away your Tupperware chicken and follow the 5 Rules of Eating for Muscle.
1. Base your diet on nutrient dense “real” foods
Step one: Eat real-fuckin-food.
“Bulking” in the traditional sense is one of the most harmful things you can do for your health. Eating an excess of calories day in day out will not only wreck your digestive system, it will also leave you tired, sluggish and bloated.
You have to eat more, yes, but you have to do it right. You have to condition your system to assimilate more food. You have to support your metabolism, not wear it down with low-quality foods and uncontrolled eating patterns.
Regardless of whether you’re trying to gain or lose weight, the majority of your diet (80-90%) should be comprised of earth-grown nutrients. If mother nature made it, eat it.
Yeah, I’ve been eating pizza, burgers, pancakes and other high-calorie foods on a regular basis, but the vast majority of it was made fresh from earth-grown whole-food ingredients. No glow in the dark food. No shit that has a shelf life of 5+ years. And this must be your standard.
For some reason, we like to focus on things we “cannot” or “shouldn’t” eat. We eliminate entire macronutrients or food groups from our diets thinking we can somehow trick our bodies into getting jacked.
I want you to shift your perspective.
Instead of focusing on the foods you cannot eat, focus on the foods you should be eating more of (i.e. fruits and vegetables). Eat more earth-grown whole-food nutrients to support muscle growth and optimal health and stop obsessing over macro ratios, nutrient timing and other minutiae.
2. Eat at regular intervals
Regular feeding patterns have seemingly become obsolete in times of intermittent fasting and other fashionable “non-eating” practices.
I mean who wants to eat sensibly every 3-4 hours if you can just stuff your face 1-2 times per day, right?
If you’re training like an animal (which you must), not-eating for large parts of the day is the opposite of what you want to do. In fact, for optimal results, you’ll want to eat every 3-4 hours, 4-5 times a day.
Think of your body as a machine. You want more power? You want higher performance capacity? Feed the machine. Eat at regular intervals, without overeating at any one time. Provide nutrients consistently throughout the day and avoid going long stretches without food.
“But won’t I get fat eating all the time?”
Here’s the key to making this work: Meal size.
Individual meals should be kept moderate in size, as overeating will overwork your digestion and slow down your metabolism. You should always feel like you could work out after a meal. Always. If you’re overly full and sleepy after eating you overstrained your digestive system. Fuel your body, don’t wear it down.
I know, I know. You’ve been reading up on the latest science and you heard that meal frequency was irrelevant as long as total calories are accounted for. As far as weight management goes, I agree. Total calories reign supreme. As far as performance and body composition goes, no way in hell.
I’ve been able to consume large amounts of food without gaining excess weight by eating regularly throughout the day and avoiding massive meals.
But this was a stretch for me. For many years, I didn’t believe in frequent feeding, thinking it was invented to sell meal replacement shakes and bars. And while that might still partly be the case, the results I got switching to a higher meal frequency are undeniable.
It took me over 15 years of dietary trial and error to understand what my body needed. I was blinded by the fad diets, the gurus, the advertisements. I was focusing on anything and everything but my own physiological needs. Don’t make the same mistake.
3. Don’t eat a high protein diet
You don’t need to eat half a cow every day to build muscle. You don’t need to drink shakes after your workouts. And you certainly don’t need to make protein the foundation of your diet.
In fact, you’d be surprised at how little protein you can get away with.
0.8- 1 gram of protein per pound of body weight (i.e. 120-150 grams for a 150 pound athlete) is all you need. More than that will actually work against you as it makes it unnecessarily difficult to eat enough to grow.
Protein is the most satiating macronutrient. That is precisely why you want to eat enough protein during a fat-loss diet. On a muscle-building protocol, however, you need to emphasize eating enough carbohydrates, fats and CALORIES to fuel growth. Protein alone won’t get the job done.
Remember rule no. 1: eat more earth-grown whole food nutrients before micromanaging your protein intake.
4. Don’t avoid fat and cholesterol
Cholesterol is a lipid found in the cell membrane of all body tissues and is the building block of your sex hormones, including the coveted male androgen – Testosterone. That’s right, your body needs cholesterol to synthesize testosterone.
There’s a reason bodybuilders inject themselves with synthetic testosterone and testosterone derivatives. It’s the big daddy of muscle-building hormones and you need enough of it coursing through your veins if you want more muscle and less bodyfat.
A low-fat diet will limit your growth potential, so don’t shy away from full-fat dairy, eggs, avocados, dark chocolate and nuts. These are nature’s original muscle-building foods. Nothing created in a lab or sold in shiny bottles will ever come close.
Now, I don’t advocate a high intake of meat and animal products. I don’t believe in the paleo or keto diet (in any diet for the matter). In fact, I believe your diet, regardless of goal, should be plant-based with animal products used sparingly and strategically.
If you’re worried about your cholesterol levels, limit your consumption of refined carbohydrates and vegetable oils (aka processed junk) as they are the real drivers of high cholesterol and heart disease.
The often vilified egg will actually improve your lipid profile and may even lower your risk for cardiovascular disease. Dark chocolate, high in saturated fat, has also shown to decrease cholesterol levels and improve the HDL to LDL ratio in healthy subjects.
The take-home message is: Eat more earth-grown whole foods and never exclude entire food groups or macronutrients.
I always eat some dark chocolate before my workouts (strength secret) and get anywhere between 30-40% of my total calories from fat.
5. Never force feed
Bottom line is if you want to put on size, you have to eat more. You have to consistently provide more energy than your body burns (= calorie surplus) in order to synthesize more muscle.
Doesn’t matter how clean your diet is, how much protein or how many meals you eat. If you don’t consume sufficient calories, you’ll be spinning your wheels.
But don’t get it twisted. This is not an invitation to eat yourself fat.
I don’t want you to pig out at every opportunity in the name of muscle. I don’t want you to force feed. I want you to respect your metabolic needs. I want you to be in-tune with your body. I want you to grow bigger, stronger, meaner without resorting to drugs, supplements or any other bullshit.
And I’ll be the first to tell you that it can be done.
You can build a herculean physique even with subpar genetics. Take it from me, I have the muscle building genetics of a 14-year-old girl. Yet, I’m still training (almost) every day, getting 8-9 hours of sleep every night and eating as much as I need to build the body I want.
It can be done. And now it’s on you to do it.
The 5 Rules of Eating for Muscle:
- Prioritize nutrient density: Eat real food
- Feed at regular intervals 3-5 meals/ day
- Don’t go overboard with your protein intake
- Eat some fat and cholesterol
- Eat more, but never force feed
Thank you for reading