Building an awe-inspiring physique requires a purposeful nutrition protocol.
If you’re following the standard fitness or bodybuilding diets, however, you’ll not only end up spending a fortune on food every week, you’ll also be relegated to spending your days in the kitchen and putting your digestive system through hell. And as if that weren’t enough, you’ll also end up getting fat.
Conventional bodybuilding wisdom is for conventional bodybuilders. I never wanted to look like a bodybuilder and I know most people embarking on a fitness journey don’t either.
Strangely, we’ve been led to believe that this represents the apex of human fitness. Well, I disagree. Strongly. Bodybuilders are a poor example of athletic prowess and human performance.
A 145 lbs Spartan soldier would have outperformed and outlasted a modern physique athlete any day of the week. And no, they weren’t eating 5-6 small high-protein meals a day.
Spartans lived a frugal life, devoid of unnecessary luxury (legend has it they used iron bars as currency instead of coins to discourage hoarding). Their diet was noted for its simplicity and austerity. They ate for performance, not for taste and indulgence.
Spartan Nutrition Rules
If you want a lean, strong and muscular body I suggest you disregard mainstream advice doled out by biased experts and protein-pushing companies. Follow the Spartan Nutrition Rules and use your fitness magazines to fire up your grill. That’s all they’re really good for.
Rule number I: Learn to cook
I pity the man who depends on his girlfriend, mommy or neighborhood McDonald’s to feed him.
Get your shit together.
Your diet is the single biggest contributor to reaching your aesthetic and performance goals. You can’t eat a random assortment of meals and snacks (“whatever’s available“) and expect to see noteworthy results.
Learn to cook your meals and have the right foods available to you at the right time. You’ll save a ton of cash by preparing your own meals instead of eating out every day. Take charge of your nutrition and give your body what it needs.
I’m not talking high-class cuisine here. I’m talking simple, fast and tasty meals that get the job done. No extensive meal preparation, no plastic dishes, no overpriced industry junk. Good food that will satisfy a hungry warrior and fuel ungodly performance in and out of the gym.
Where to start? Every man should be able to fry up some eggs and cook a steak to perfection.
Rule number II: Eat when you’re hungry
We’ve become so dependent on hand-holding advice. We rely on trainers, experts and technology to tell us what our bodies need. We’re told what, when and how much to eat.
Again, we’re looking for ways to pass on the responsibilities, our responsibilities.
I don’t recommend an instinctual eating pattern for most, as that would only lead to overeating/ overindulging. You need to know how much your body requires to perform optimally.
Start following a daily routine and eat at regular meal times. Condition your system to break down and assimilate nutrients at regular intervals while learning to distinguish between true hunger and mere cravings.
Eat a predominantly whole foods diet and consume adequate amounts of energy (calories) for your goals. Balanced, nutrient-rich meals should constitute the foundation of your diet.
Rule number III: Shop smart
In order to get the biggest bang for your hard-earned buck, I recommend you implement the following strategies next time you frequent your local supermarket.
- Buy seasonal, locally grown food
- Buy your nutrition staples in bulk
- Always bring a shopping list
Whenever possible opt for seasonal, locally grown foods. Better for the environment, better for your wallet. Buying your staples in bulk can also save you a good chunk of money, so make sure to buy select items such as eggs, fruits and vegetables in large quantities.
Below you’ll find a comprehensive shopping list to give you an idea of Spartan nutrition in practice. This list isn’t based on the actual food items consumed in ancient Sparta, but on nutrient dense, cost-effective options that should be part of any performance diet.
Spartan shopping list:
Canned tuna, ground beef, organ meats (i.e liver), eggs, cottage cheese, milk, potatoes, whole-grain bread, oats, beans, lentils, almonds, peanuts, carrots, beets, spinach, broccoli, apples, bananas, dried figs, dark chocolate (>70%), butter, olive oil, spices (i.e. parsley, cilantro, turmeric, cumin, black pepper).
- Full-fat dairy (milk, cheese, yogurt)
- Meat and fish
- Legumes (beans/ lentils)
- Potatoes, oats, rice, whole-grain bread
- Fruits (all varieties)
- Dark chocolate
- Butter, olive oil
Bonus Round: Get ready for war
I’ve talked about it extensively in the past, but it bears repeating. Proper workout nutrition is essential to an athlete’s performance and recovery.
Eat a solid meal 1-3 hours pre-workout and consume a simple carbohydrate source (i.e. honey, fruit or my favorite: Coca-Cola) immediately before strength training. Should your session exceed the 1-hour mark, consider having another serving of carbs and essential amino acids (optional) during training.
If you train right after waking, have some fruit and a small serving of protein (optional) beforehand. Never enter the gym completely fasted.
Eating right isn’t rocket science and it definitely isn’t reserved for the affluent. Follow the Spartan Nutrition Rules and build a body worthy of the Gods.
Thank you for reading