Blind Perseverance – by Jamie Bolton

We are all blind. Though not in the form that this suggests. What I’m talking about is being blind to the effects of positive changes, so much so that people often take a step back before the effects become ‘visible’.
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You add work for weaknesses, say extra work for those lagging lats. Nothing seems to happen after a few weeks, so you stop and admit defeat. But you can’t bring up a weakness that quickly. And chances are, if you attacked it correctly, there probably are some positive changes. Did you take before and after pictures for comparison? It’s pretty hard to be critical of yourself when you see yourself on a daily basis. But you must perservere.

You up your fruit and veggie intake. Nothing seems to ‘happen’. Well, your mood might be a bit better, but thats subjective so you can’t count that right? And you haven’t caught a cold, since well, for ages. But that’s nothing to do with it either I bet? Changes like this are clearly positive, yet its all too easy to not notice the benefits. Perservere, you should be thankful for your lack of illness!

Dieting down from being a ‘big lad’. After a month or so, you don’t look or feel ‘as big’ and you can’t really see any definition yet either? Can’t be working can it? Diet abandoned. Yet again, there are minor changes happening, but you’re just stuck in the inbetween stage of being fat and being lean, where it doesn’t really look like much is changing. Perservere.

You do your prehab work every session. But you never get injured, so what’s the point? Wait what??? That’s exactly the point. Preventative work to minimise future problems is clearly inherently hard to assess the benefit of – you don’t get injured, but whose to say you wouldn’t have otherwise? True. Yet for such a small time investment, the benefits of not getting injured clearly outweigh the costs. Perservere and keep doing it.

Many things take time to reveal their true benefit. Some never ‘reveal’ it, you just don’t succumb to problems. And you should be equally thankful for this – theres no point flying forward in terms of progress for 6months if you then are injured or ill for the next 3. I’ll take slightly ‘slower’ progress for the investment of more time on protecting myself, if a tradeoff had to be made.

With other things like muscle gain or fat loss, you just have to hammer on sometimes. It may not look or feel like it’s working, but if you are pursuing your goals in the intelligent way you should be, following well-thought out, proven prescriptions for success, time will yield results.

It often feels like we’re spinning our wheels when we shouldn’t be. But ‘secretly’ we are driving forward yet blind to the positive changes. Don’t be too critical of yourself over a short time frame. Keep at it and keep plugging away and eventually you will ‘see’. Persevere.
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Keep at it and the changes become visible

Until next time. Train hard. Train smart. Be strong.

Simplicity – by Jamie Bolton

Everyday we are confronted by choice. A lot of choice. When training. When eating. When supplementing.In training, we are confronted by an array of machines, pulleys, cables and god-knows what else. Our friend the barbell and his pal the power rack are left neglected.In eating, our supermarkets our clogged full of synthetic, processed-attempts of food. Our friends, organic meats and fish, delightful fruits, veggies and other natural wholesome goodness, are left underappreciated.

In supplementation, a raft of superhuman-claiming products fight for our attention. Our friends, the staple protein powders, vitamins and omega 3s are left forgotten.

In short, we have too many choices. We chronically suffer from paralysis by analysis. There is too much information. We attempt to use everything at our disposal and hence achieve nothing.

We ignore the most adaptable piece of equipment we have – the barbell. I use maybe 10% of the equipment available in the gym. I can’t remember the last time I used a machine. I wouldn’t hazard to state that most of those using a fraction of the equipment are the ones seeing multiples of the average progress. 90% of the time, all I use is a barbell, power rack and some dumbbells. Even with that, there are still a myriad of choices – load, set, reps, tempo, rest. The truth is though it’s easier for a facility to cram itself full of machines than barbells. Why – it’s easier to sign people up and let them roam the machines with little risk of injury, than to have to teach everyone how to squat. The people who want the power racks are just lower margin business.

You only have to walk around a supermarket to see that 80% of the store is crap you don’t want to be putting in your body. A good rule of thumb – the more heavily advertised the less you should probably want to eat it, nutritious food doesn’t tend to advertise as well! Stick to the outside perimeter of the supermarket for most of your needs – all the goodness is there. Fruit and veggies, potatoes, meat, fish, eggs, milk are there. With the occassional excursion inward to pick up goodies like oats, brown rice, spices, nut butters, oils and so on. Again even when you limit your choices here there are still a tonne of options, take meat, will it be chicken, turkey, beef, lamb, pork or something else?

Take the standard supplement company website. ‘SuperMass Gainer v2 – gain 20lbs of muscle in a week’. Maybe not as extreme as this but you get the picture. The standard basics are typically all you need most of the time. Why are products like this pushed then? Advertising and margins. The basics don’t advertise well – whey protein powder is well, just whey protein powder. It’s not as fashionable as other stuff, it doesn’t latch onto what people want to be true – that this game is easy. More than that, whey isn’t nearly half maltodextrin (sugar) like half the crap on the market – hence its lower margin. It’s not hard to see why what is advertised, is so heavily advertised.

When you look at it like this, its not hard to see why and how people continually manage to get this wrong. We all get sucked into advertising hype now and again. We get sidetracked from the basics in our training.

I guess the take-home point is that everything out there, for the other guy – the supplier, is a business. What matters is the margin. The profit. The places that aren’t like this are fewer and increasinly further between. The hardcore training facility. The healthy foods markets. The no-bullshit supplement company. But they exist.

When in doubt, strip it back to the basics. Walk into a facility and confronted by too many machines? Head to the barbell. Supermarket full of boxed processed crap? Stick to the outside. Supplement website pushing too much advertising in your face? Get your whey and get out!

When in doubt, take the KISS approach - Keep It Simple, Stupid

Despite what they want you to believe, this stuff really isn’t complicated. It’s straightforward. It’s simple. It’s also hardwork.

Remember Occam’s Razor –

“It is futile to do more with what could be done with less”

How to Approach Dieting Successfully – by Ben Coker

Summer time is here and I’m guessing a lot of you out there are embarking on a diet of some form. Regardless of your goals; ‘loose a bit of excess’ to ‘get shredded’, dieting is often misguided and executed poorly.  What better time therefore  to lay out the framework for a successful diet to help you avoid pitfalls and confusion in your quest for lean!

 

Weight Training

  • Weight training builds muscle and muscle is hungry therefore more muscle raises resting metabolic rate making you burn more calories throughout the day.
  • Resistance training ramps up your metabolism not just during training but for the whole day due to the metabolic and physiological adaptations that it stimulates in the hours after.
  • Nothing changes in how you lift. You don’t want to loose your muscle when dieting – granted, so just as you built muscle mass by lifting heavy weights you must carry on doing the same to maintain that mass when dieting. Nothing changes apart from maybe cutting down the volume of each session a little. This is because you are in a calorie deficit and you don’t want to damage the muscle to such an extent as to not allow recovery that the amount of calories you are consuming allows.
  • Don’t go light on the weights to ‘cut up’ that myth is horse sh*t. Keep your strength up to maintain fullness and thickness in the muscle plus why would you want to just give up and piss away your hard earned strength gains? Keep them up there. If you do then suddenly you get the benefits of a increase in bodyweight to strength ratio too if that’s your thing. Remember heavy weights built your muscle so continuing to lift them will help maintain them! Don’t believe me? Maybe Ronnie can convince you…

 

Nutrition

  • Eat low GI food sources- Low GI carbs – (fruits, vegetables, sweet potatoes, brown rice, oatmeal), healthy fats and lean protein sources. Read here for more info on building a basic diet.
  • Don’t starve yourself – you must eat often.This is the one people can’t grasp and if by the end of this you still don’t grasp it don’t worry, just do what is instructed. You’ll thank me later. As in bulking you eat every 2-3hours so too is true in dieting you just reduce the number of calories per portion. The process of eating, digesting and assimilating nutrients from food requires energy. This is referred to as dietary induced thermogenesis. By eating little amounts often you keep your metabolism ticking over nicely and burning calories.
  • Aim for around a 500kcal deficit at a time. Once progress has stalled then very gradually reduce your calories again. As mentioned in our previous article, ‘Leave Something in the Tool Box’, it is crucial for continued long term fat loss to not crack that nut with a sledgehammer. Use as little is needed at a time and leave the big guns for later.
  • You want to be consuming the majority of your calories especially carbohydrates around your workout (just before and just after). This will help to shuttle most of those nutrients into your muscles and not get stored as fat. The peri workout window is the time when your muscles most need nutrients to fuel your weight training allowing your to maintain high quality workouts and importantly to allow you to recover form them leading to sustained muscle mass!
  • In dieting protein is even more essential. The calorie deficit can lead to increased protein degradation in the body and so I recommend that you have  between 2-3g per kg bodyweight, moving towards the 3g/kg end when calories are really restricted to ensure there is a flood of amino acids for your muscles to use.
  • Re-feeds are needed. Don’t be a diet Nazi and never allow for a re-feed. If you do then I declare you an official diet retard! Cheat meals become of more importance the further into a diet/the lower % bodyfat you are. Re-feeding allows for whatever nutrients your muscles have been missing to be stockpiled up and your muscles can restore themselves. The sudden injection of increased nutrients also ramps up your metabolism. Reduced calorie intakes over time have the effect of down regulating your metabolism making it harder to burn calories and thus fat despite the fact you are in a calorie deficit! It is important not to abuse this tool. I purposefully refer to them as re-feeds and not cheat meals for that very reason. Charles Poliquin notes on the rules of successful re-feeding here.
  • Drink water and lots of it. Water has no calories and is an appetite suppressant, but it also helps the body to metabolize stored fat. When the kidneys do not have enough water, they cannot function properly. The liver steps in as a backup, but doing so hinders its ability to metabolize fat effectively. People who are trying to lose weight but fail to maintain euhydration can’t metabolize the fat adequately! As an extra point try to drink very cold water as the body has to heat it up to body temperature before it can be useful and this burns a few more calories. Every little helps.

 

Cardio

  • Low intensity morning fasted cardio is great for fat oxidation. After fasting whilst being asleep free fatty acids are floating around in the blood as your body’s main fuel source.  If you eat breakfast then you will stimulate a rise in the body’s insulin production and insulin inhibits lipolysis (the breakdown of fat). Performing low/moderate intensity cardio upon waking before breakfast allows you to continue the oxidation of those plasma free fatty acids. Fat oxidation increases up to and peaks at around 60-65% VO2 max (1) so that’s your target point to be exercising at.
  • High intensity isn’t bad for fat loss though. The nature of the energy systems used means that carbohydrate becomes the predominant fuel source. Romijn et al (1995) conclude that at higher intensities (85% VO2 max) the oxidation of fat is lower but there is still substantial contribution. Therefore he argues that high intensity exercise is just as substantial for fat loss as medium intensities (but not low intensity) (2). High intensity exercise will most definitely ramp up your metabolism for the rest of the day too. On a air of caution thought: Due to the fuel systems used in high intensity exercise it will deplete glycogen stores leading to reduced performance in your weights session if done overboard. The combination of too much high intensity exercise and resistance training will leave the muscle depleted of glycogen whilst dieting. These factors are detrimental to muscular strength, size and fullness.

I personally, as do many, feel that if keeping large to extreme  amounts of muscle mass (e.g. bodybuilding) is the goal then avoid high intensity exercise. If your not concerned about the keeping the ‘nth’ degree of mutant muscle mass then high intensity cardio is definitely an option and conveys great conditioning carry overs.

  • Don’t go gun ho on the cardio form day one. Again referencing our previous article, ‘Leave Something in the Tool Box’, start with just tweaking your diet then the next progression would be 20 minutes each morning of cardio, for example. This leaves you room to progress up to say 30 minutes then 40 minutes (amongst dropping calories in and around). You can also add in more cardio after a weights session if needed. Doing cardio after weights and not before (if you opt for two cardio sessions a day) is very important. Just like after sleeping, the effects of heavy resistance training has lead to a temporary depletion of muscle glycogen so when you exercise your body will utilises free fatty acids as an energy source quicker meaning more bang for your buck with the fat loss. It also mean that glycogen is prioritised for the weight training allowing for heavier weights to be lifted essential in keeping up muscle size and fullness.

 

Your mind – Champion it!

  • Dieting can play havoc on your mind. I personally can’t help feel that I’m missing out on even more growth. ‘I could be growing, instead I’m just staying the same’ is a typical thought that can plague you. You have to say goodbye to growing for a little while and learn to appreciate that now you are going to showcase your master piece you’ve spent long hours of lifting and eating to create. After all, this is what its all about right? Being muscular and shredded!
  • Another psychological demon is the belief that your hard earned muscle is wasting away with every meal you have where you don’t pile in a 1000kcal plus! Be a champion of mind. Don’t let dieting plague your thoughts. If you do the aforementioned points in this article your not going to waste away. Your body is robust and will do what you want it to given that you do the right thinks.
  • A final note on being hungry. Deal with it. Learn to champion the emotion of hunger. Your body is fed, just not your fat cells!  Hunger is just in your mind. Every minute of hunger your experience you are getting leaner! This mindset actually helps me to enjoy being hungry! Drinking water is a great help and diet soda effectively curbs hunger BUT and I stress, the later is far from perfect and you should avoid ideally as they contain other ‘miscellaneous’ ingredients that are non conducive to results and health if abused. Having your re-feeds should be enough to get you through. If not you ain’t meant to be in this game.

...the Georgia Dogs way.

 

References

1) Achten J, Jeukendrup AE. Maximal fat oxidation in trained males. Int J Sports Med 2003; 24(8): 603-608

2) Romijn JA, Coyle EF, Sidossis LS, Zhang XJ, Wolfe RR. Relationship between fatty acid delivery and fatty acid oxidation during strenuous exercise. J Appl Physiol. 1995 Dec;79(6):1939-45.

5 reasons for the success of my hypertrophy phase – by Ben Coker

Well the beloved bulking phase has passed for me and I am now 2 weeks into a mild trim. Looking back on the months since Christmas in which I put on 11kg, I reflected on the things that contributed to my success. My previous articles on the mistakes of bulking 1 and 2 went a long way in keeping me on the road to success but this article explains 5 more personal reasons.

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1) I set quantifiable, challenging but realistic goals.

For me I had two post-its on my wall; one saying 150kg for 10reps = 170kg and the other 114.3 kg / 18stone, both surrounded by inspiring quotes I hold close.

The first refers to benching 150kg for 10 reps which should equate to a 1rm of 170kg + by the end of my bulk. The second refers to the body wight I wanted to achieve by the end of my bulk.

These notes were glaring at me every time I sat in my room, there was no escape. I had held myself accountable. Looking back those notes where instrumental in me smashing both targets.

I feel that simply entering a bulk phase with the notion of ‘I want to be bigger and or stronger’ will undoubtedly lead to poor or sub optimal results. Have a fixed finish point and make it visible to you everyday as a reminder to yourself; are you doing everything you can to reach your best?

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2) I built my calories up slowly but ultimately if I wasn’t eating when I felt I shouldn’t have then I was stunting my growth.

A recent article about leaving something in the toolbox applies here. When starting a bulk dont go over crazy on the food. Trust me simply by giving your body as little as 500kcal extra a day from its maintenance or dieted levels it has been on between bulking phases is enough to make the body  put on muscle at impressive rates.

BUT here’s the twist. This rate of growth slows as you put on weight so you have to keep increasing your calories over the hypertrophy period to get that surplus of calories above your RMR!

And boy did they the calories have to go up!  Two thirds of the way through my bulk I plateaued. I wasn’t eating enough, but surely 6000kcal a day was enough?

‘Obviously not you idiot’ I told myself.

I went and revised my list on the mistakes of bulking and all boxes were checked barring the fact I wasn’t eating when I felt I shouldn’t!

So up went the calories to 7000kcal and even 8000kcal on some days. What happened? From being stuck at around 110-112kg bodyweight I flew up to 114kg then continue up until 116kg.

So build up those calories conservatively but keep building them up! Don’t fear fat gain as long as your building muscle as fast as humanly possible. There will be another time for you to ‘unveil’ your sculpture later…

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3) I walked everywhere

This one is so important especially when you get REAL heavy but also if you put on a decent level of mass in a relatively short period of time. Last weeks article also touched on it.

By walking everywhere everyday you body doesn’t notice the effects of the extra mass gradually being put on. You feel lighter on your feet, and your cardio-respiratory systems are much better adapt to cope with the larger mass.

Honesty call, I love being big but even to me an out of breath mass monster don’t look (or feel) too good! Everyone should be able to walk briskly for at least an hour whilst still holding a conversation. And I’m glad to say that despite impressive gains in muscle mass I don’t feel ‘burdened’ with the extra weight.

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4) Adapt to setbacks: I got outside the bodybuilding world and fell in love with a sled

At one point my knee was playing up a bit and so I sought different ways to hit my legs. Pulling a sled caused no pain in my knee and so there was the answer.

If I’m stuck with this I thought then I may as well load the thing up to the max and put a lot of work through my legs. 4 weeks of puke inducing sled training and my legs grew by an inch.

A slap in the face reminder that different is good sometimes, even for a bodybuilder. Any bodybuilder would settle for an inch on their legs but for me the benefits went further. Since quitting rugby some time ago I had not run for years. Despite my strength I was now slower and struggled to sprint under my new weight.

The sled training got me right back on track; my legs were not only bigger now but their power had also been increased. I was now functional again despite being kilos heavier and I loved it! I also enjoyed the sensation of high intensity cardio believe it or not. It made me feel healthier and that’s priceless when piling on size.

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5) Deadlift, Deadlift, Deadlift.

I have had issues with my low back for a while and have spent a long time rehabbing and tentatively dabbling in deadlifting again in the process of recovery. But by this bulk phase I was ready to hit them in ernest. I knew deadlifts were the missing link to gorilla muscle, and gorilla muscle was what I wanted.

Gorilla muscle: built by deadlifts.

So I deadlifted and deadlifted a lot. Not always super heavy but I made a point to work hard on form and intensity. Some days I did heavy singles, some days sets of 5 and some days I even did super volume on them like 10×10 or sets of 30reps at 1.5 x bodyweight.

The results of fanatical deadlifting?. My low back and core is now a whole lot stronger and my discs far more protected. A movement that had crippled me even to think of, I now loved. My legs ballooned. My back got super thick. Oh and finally all my other lifts sored up and as a result all their relevant muscle groups grew in a crazy fashion.

The deadlift is the king at building the whole body as the whole body is used. This hypertrophy phases owes a lot of its success to the fact that in it I could for the first time deadlift pain free.  I took full advantage and the scales and measurements went through the roof as a result.

Mistakes of Bulking Part 1 – by Ben Coker

When the scales aren’t moving, the measurments aren’t getting bigger or the t-shirt tighter you are more than likely doing something wrong in your hypertrophy quest.

 These articles will outline common pitfalls that I have realised to be the key areas that have limited my hyhpertrophy at various points in my life. Now, whenever my growth stagnates, I got back to these points and ensure that i’m hitting all of them. When I am, I have noticed that  i’m always growing!  The first part focuses on food.

1) Not eating enough.

You think you do but you don’t. This is such a massive pitfall for many lifters. You think that meal had about 750 ish kcals so you round it to 800kcal. This mindset leads to massive calorie variances at the end of each day.

Here’s what you need to do: Key a food diary. Write out a meal plan including weights of foods, kcal content across your 7-6 meals. This means you know that at x time you need to eat y food which contains z kcal. And once you’ve eaten a meal you can tick it off. Theres no room for mistakes. Sounds strikingly obvious but most lifters don’t keep a log like this – writing down your meals in advance and marking them off as you go ensures you eat the right amount and the right stuff.

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You're plan doesn't have to extensive, just do it!

 

2) Not keeping your kitchen stocked

You should always have your kitchen stocked with the foods that you need so that when it comes to have the next meal you’ve planned out everything is there for you. Theres no excuses to miss or replace meals or skimp on calories. Buy for the week, or at least a couples of days ahead. When stocks start to reach empty go and top them up. Don’t wait till they are empty!

Allways have a stockpile for at least 2 days ahead...

 

3) Failing to ‘cram the window’.

This is the term I use to describe the 1hr post training window where a lot of growth can be stimulated. This time is like an open window  when your body is screaming for food to refuel and rearm! Take advantage of this and cram some serious calories through that window whilst it’s open. Just as an insight into my understanding of ‘cramming’ I take a 750kcal immediate post training shake then another 1500 to 2000kcal in food in the next 60-90min! (BW 110kg).
 

'Cram that window!'

 

4) Being scared of losing your six pack (or at least what you think is a six pack)

Don’t be the idiot that wastes his time trying to get bigger whilst staying lean. You will fail. Don’t be one of those people  that have been training at a gym for year after year but look exacly the same as the day they joined! If you love your six pack so much you’ll have more than enough commitment to strip the fat away when the new you is ready to be unveiled right? Or are you scared of the lazy person that’s inside of you? Commit to bulking 100% Get great results then commit to shredding up those results. Period.

Lee Priest certainly wasn't scared to commit!

 

5) Not laying your foundation

Keeping this short and sweet, you need to lay a good foundation to grow. Just like you can’t build a house on sand you can’t build muscle in the absence of the micro nutrients and water.

You must be taking good quality omega fish oil tablets (or eating adequate oily fish), a high quality multivitamin and drinking plenty of water each day for optimal growth. The importance and function of omegas and vitamins doesn’t need readdressing, theres plenty of information out there if you look to indicate you need to be taking them for optimal training and health results.

Water is a little less clearly stated in terms of its benefits but they are strikingly obvious. The body comprises approximately 60-70% water. Water flows through the human body, transporting, dissolving, replenishing nutrients and organic matter, while carrying away waste material. Further in the body, it regulates the activities of fluids, tissues, cells, lymph, blood and glandular secretions. Protein synthesis and the training required to induce it therefore are heavily reliant of water. Drink loads!

Be water smart...drink more!

Bulking On A £3 Budget – by Ben Coker

This is a very short article just to fire home how simple and cheap bulking can be. People either don’t know how to eat to grow or come up with an excuses for not eating, namely its too expensive.
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I strongly recommended reading ‘Building a Basic Diet’ to gain a good understanding of nutrition as a whole, but more specifically ‘Time to Belly Up Mr. Hardgainer’ on the matter of serious bulking the blended way.
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If you believe that eating to grow is too taxing on the wallet don’t fret – it doesn’t have to be. I do fully understand that eating lots of lean meats and lots of calories in general can leave you a bit strapped for cash but what would you say if i said you can easily pack on the muscle for as little as £3 a day? And in a healthy way? You’ll want to know how i bet! Well relax because the answer is at hand.
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Below is the breakdown of 8 basic food products in terms of cost per unit, per serving, as well as nutritional values…
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Now lets break this down specifically in terms of servings, their cost and the amount you should have of each.  The macro nutrient and calorie breakdown per serving is also given…
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Now finally just to fully complete the picture here is how you can combine the foods into 5 meals or ‘feeds’ as i prefer to call them to create a bulking on a budget diet when times are hard.
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There you have it. 8 food sources. 4,286kcal. £3.07 a day. By all means this is not a perfect diet (a more varied protein source would be better) but it definitely leaves no excuses  to be not growing when times are financially hard. If you have a slightly more flexible budget obviously add in more. 4,286kcal will not be enough for 100kg + individuals that are on their diet already, but the take home message for those individuals is simply that you can get a lot of calories in for only £3.

Nutrition: Building a Basic Diet – by Jamie Bolton

In the previous article in this short series, we established the fundamental ‘laws’ of nutrition which underpin all successful nutritional programmes. 
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Now before you read on, I need you to be honest with yourself. Is  implementing those laws in that article yielding newfound results? If so, then stop reading. Stop right there.  This isn’t for you. Seriously. Why add more detail? All it will serve to do is complicate matters. Keep it as simple as possible. Likewise, if you are struggling to follow the laws then do you really think adding more detail will make it easier? No. It will just cloud things further.

If the previous piece however, made perfect sense and you found yourself nodding along realising you follow all of the laws, and would appreciate a more thorough understanding, read on.

In this article I will go into a bit more depth around the 3 macro-nutrients – what they are, good sources of them, and why we need them. I’ll also show you how to pull it all together and hopefully do all this without going too sciencey on you!

Protein

As far as the performance athlete should be concerned, protein is the building block of muscle. So we want plenty of it or we won’t recover or grow optimally. To touch on a popular analogy, if the body is a house, then protein is the bricks, if you don’t provide enough your house won’t ‘grow’ very quickly, if at all.

The best sources of protein are: meats, fish, milk, eggs & protein powders.

How much? Aim for 1g/lb of bodyweight as an absolute minimum. 1.25g/lb is a better ‘minimum’, and all the way up to 2g/lb can be beneficial. This might seem a lot, and it probably conflicts with what you’ve heard, but I’ll provide some simple anecdotal evidence – ask any big guy how much he eats – it will fall more within this realm then the textbook definitions.

Some meaty food porn. Get plenty of protein.

For those who want more evidence that that, here are some good pieces to read here and here.

Fats

Fats are the boo-boy of the media. The nutrient they love to hate. Low-fat this and low fat that. I’ll tell you now – they’re wrong. Fat doesn’t make you fat – excess calories do. Fat most definitely should not be avoided.

Fats are the low-activity energy source for the body. Any non-strenuous activity, from sleeping to even walking is mainly fuelled by fatty acids.

Getting the right kind of fat intake is crucial for optimal hormonal balance. Additionally, vitamins A, D, E and K are fat-soluble, so limiting your fat intake is also limiting your vitamin intake. Fats are sources of essential fatty acids, i.e. the body can’t do without them.

There are 3 kinds of fats, and we want to consume all of them.

  1. Saturated. Good sources: meats, eggs, whole milk and coconut oil.
  2. Monounsaturated. Good sources: red meat, whole milk, olive oil, nuts, avocados.
  3. Polyunsaturated. Good sources: salmon, grass-fed beef, sunflower seeds, walnuts.

Aim to get about ⅓ of your fat intake from each of the types of fat. Polyunsaturated tends to be one of the more awkward to get plenty of and so supplementing with a fish oil supplement can be useful – in particular omega 3.

How much? Aim for about 0.6g/lb when maintaining or cutting, and look to up intake to about 0.8g/lb when bulking.

Oils, Avocados, Nuts & Seeds - all great sources of fat

Carbohydrates

Carbohydrates, or carbs, are the instant-energy nutrient of the body, and are used to fuel intense activity as well as being the brains preferred energy source. Again carbs have been attacked in the media and low-carb crazes touted as the way to go. Again, the media is wrong.

A great analogy with carbs is to think of your body like a car and its gas tank. If your gas tank, your glycogen (carb) stores in your muscles, is full, and you continue to pour in more gas, what happens? Well, it spills over. The body is the same, but instead of gas going everywhere, fat does. But we do want to keep a full ‘tank’ so we need to tailor accordingly.

The main differentiation between carbs is the speed at which they are digested. Some will talk of this as being about simple vs complex carbs, but maltodextrin (a popular ingredient in ‘weight gainers’) is a ‘complex’ carb yet digests as fast as simple sugar. Instead, we use the glycemic index (GI) to look at how fast a portion raises blood glucose (sugar) levels. Also, we must bear in mind the total number of carbs in a portion, i.e. carrots have a ‘high GI’, but unless you want to eat a kilo of them, it doesn’t matter!

Some people will trash talk high-GI carbs as if they are the devil, but they have their place, as do the seemingly preferred lower-GI carbs. The rule of thumb with carbs as I have found, is to eat according for what you are about to do, or have recently done. And I mean this both in terms of quantity and type of carb.

What all the discussion boils down to is the interpretation of how to manipulate a hormone called insulin. The short story is that insulin is a storage hormone. When blood sugar levels rise, insulin is secreted to bring it back to baseline. This is useful around a training session as we can use it to pack our muscles full of fuel when they are craving it. But outside of these times, if we crank it up too much, we may end up driving carbs into fat stores instead (as the tank is ‘full’). So at these times, it is better to lower carb portions, and eat lower-GI carbs so as to ‘top off’ glycogen stores, rather than dumping excess carbs on the body and causing fat gain. For a more detailed discussion, see here.

Good sources of both high and low GI carbs include:

High GI carbs – raisins, white rice, white potatoes.
Low GI carbs – fruits, vegetables, sweet potatoes, brown rice, oatmeal.

Fruit & Veggies - great low GI carb sources

Let me give you some examples. If you are about to have a heavy squat session, then you would take in some quick-acting carbs beforehand, like raisins. After, since your muscles are going to be craving fuel, you could follow up with some white rice, and in sizeable portions too. A bit later on, you might follow up with a smaller portion of sweet potatoes, which are slower digesting to ‘top off’ glycogen stores.

In contrast, if you were about to sit down at a desk all day, then its best to minimize the size of carb portions and stick to the lower GI variety, in particular fruits and vegetables, since you are not about to be very active at all.

How much? Carbs really are the macro-nutrient that follow your goals, in other words, step them up if you are in a mass phase and step them down when in a leaning phase. In a mass phase, aim for 1.5-2g/lb. If at maintenance, aim for 1g/lb. And in a lean phase, aim for 0.5g/lb.

Putting it all together

I realise some of you are probably groaning at the fact that this will involve some maths, but it is your body, surely its worth the investment of a few minutes with a calculator!?

To give you an idea of what it looks like for a 200lb male:

  • Mass phase – 250g Protein, 160g Fat, 300g carbs = 3640 calories
  • Maintenance – 250g Protein, 120g Fat, 200g carbs = 2880 calories
  • Lean phase – 250g Protein, 120g Fat, 100g carbs = 2440 calories.

For a 140lb female, it would look like this:

  • Mass phase – 175g Protein, 112g Fat, 210g carbs = 2548 calories
  • Maintenance – 175g Protein, 84g Fat, 140g carbs = 2016 calories
  • Lean phase – 175g Protein, 84g Fat, 70g carbs – 1738 calories

And don’t forget to apply the laws of nutrition. For instance, we want to focus carbs around a training session. I would aim to get somewhere pushing toward 1/3 to 1/2 of the days carbs in this period.

To outline what a typical day may look like, a mass phase for our 200lb male could look something like this:

Breakfast – 100g of oats, 6 eggs, 500ml whole milk.
Lunch – 200g Salmon, 100g brown rice, 2 avocados.
Pre-training – 2 scoops of protein & 100g of raisins
Post-training – 200g chicken & 2 baked potatoes
Dinner – 200g steak (cooked in olive oil), 50g walnuts, steamed veggies

That may sound like a lot of food, but that’s what it takes to grow!

Similarly, for our 140lb female, a typical day in a lean phase could look like this:

Breakfast – 4 egg omelette with 30g cheese, 1 orange/apple
Lunch – 150g Tuna, 2 eggs hardboiled, mixed in a spinach salad with olive oil dressing.
Post workout – 200g chicken & 75g brown rice
Dinner – 200g Lamb steak, pile of steamed veggies

The key with the lower calorie meal plans is to focus on volume of food. We don’t want foods that are dense in calories. Instead we want lots of vegetables and fruits, which fill you up but aren’t heavy on calories.

Finally, remember to regularly re-weigh yourself and adjust the diet accordingly. The amount of food you ate to take you from 200lb to 220lb won’t be the same amount you need to get to 240lb – you need more! Likewise, on a leaning phase, as you drop bodyfat, you will need less calories, as you aren’t lugging around as much weight as before, so every activity requires less energy.

Summary

Using what I’ve provided here and in the previous two articles, you should now be able to put together a solid nutritional program. I want to re-iterate what I said in the very first article – focus on simple, wholefoods that great-great-granny would recognise. You can make a lot of different approaches fit into the template I have outlined here, and there is absolutely no reason to make your food choices ‘boring’.

Finally, remember, nutrition is a VERY individual thing. You may find that you can’t gain weight with the mass phase numbers, in which case – add more calories until you do. Equally, you might find yourself going a bit overboard and gaining a bit too much fat for your liking, in which case, step things down a little, in particular on the carb / fat front. But as a guideline, these numbers should work well for most people.

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