With respect to nutrition for muscle growth, if I could go back, there are a few super simple keys I’d make sure my thick-skulled self knew really well. Simple steps to allow me to massively accelerate my muscle building, minimize fat gain, and maximize my focus and recovery so I could crush every workout like a pro bodybuilder and not take so long to get back in there and do it again.
1) Junk food doesn’t help muscle growth.
No matter how much you want to convince yourself that is does, it slows it. It’s cool to be able to eat what you want, but don’t rationalize that it’s actually helping you.
I know recreational drug users that tell themselves it’s good for them because its expanding their minds. (why not be honest and say “I like being high as fk”)
Good for you if you want to smash a dozen donuts, but don’t tell yourself they’re good for you, or somehow the same as eating the same macros from whole foods. That’s just not the truth. The biggest ways it kills your progress? Gut health, inflammation, mitochondrial efficiency, brain function.
2) Protect your gut like your first born child from the enemy.
- Trans fats
- Contaminated water
- Artificial colours
- Excessive sugar
- (and for some people) gluten.
All of these can destroy the intestinal lining and increase permeability of the stomach to toxins and increased inflammation in the body and BRAIN.
This is NOT bro science.
3) Eat more fiber and vegetables.
Fiber is known to improve the healthy bacteria in the gut. It shifts the balance of your microbiome toward having more of the bacteria known as bacteroidetes. People having a higher ration of this type of bacteria are shown to be much leaner.
The best foods to drive this number up is short chain fatty acids, beans, fibrous vegetables.
Sugars will drive up Firmicute bacteria, correlated with increased fat gain. A healthy gut will make losing fat and absorbing the food we eat SO much more effective.
4) Don’t be afraid of saturated fat.
We now know that Butter, and fatty grass fed meats are some of the best things for our gut and brain.
5) Eat most of your carbs after training.
Carbs in general are not bad. Just make sure your body is in a state to use them for muscle growth rather than just arbitrarily shoving them in because someone told you you needed them.
Think about it. If your muscles have a limited glycogen storage, jamming more crab into an already full closet is just going to cause it to spill out onto the floor.
6) Use a cyclical nutrition approach for maximal muscle growth
Cellular signalling controls everything in our bodies and we’re programmed to maintain a certain level of homeostasis. Once your body has been subjected to a stimulus for a period of time, that stimulus loses its effect. That is the issue with traditional “bulking” and why I recommend a more strategic approach to growth.
Think about walking into a nightclub, at first the music seems extremely loud but after just a few minutes your body downregulates and the music seems less noticeable to your brain. You still hear it, but it’s not as dramatic. In order to still get the same level of volume to your brain, you’ve got to keep increasing the volume of the music. But if you walk outside for a minute, then back in, you again notice that music is obnoxiously loud to your brain.
Similar situation with most things in the body, they have a very noticeable effect in the short term but soon lose their novelty and in order to keep “hearing” the stimulus you’ve got to keep removing it, and then reintroducing it.
Carbs and protein work exactly in this way. Taking in a high amount of carbs will feel amazing for a short period, sometimes as long as a few weeks for some people, but inevitably it’s going to subside.
At this point, due to constantly elevated blood glucose levels, inflammation starts to rise, cortisol stays elevated and your body will start to store fat very quickly. Cortisol gets a bad reputation as being associated with fat gain, but it’s only when it remains constantly elevated that this is true. Cortisol has a natural rhythm that should allow for peaks and troughs throughout the day.
7) Don’t allow yourself to become acidic
Not supporting your body’s ability to metabolize acids is a massive long-term problem. People that exercise have a much higher need for minerals and other essential nutrients to assist the body in neutralizing acids.
Magnesium, zinc, the phytonutrients found in super greens, and electrolytes seem to be the ones that get depleted fastest.
8) Over stimulating and under recovering. (READ this one).
In my over 20 years of training with 100% focus on achieving as much muscle growth as possible, I’ve only been overtrained once. And I’ve only ever seen a handful of people who were overtrained yet it seems to be a catch phrase in the fitness industry.
Most people are simply under recovered.
Current society places a huge amount of emphasis on a “how much can you get done in a day” thought process. And no one goes deep on anything.
I get asked how many exercises for growth and often want to answer with “how about you start with ONE and actually do some f’n work.”
We all over stimulate ourselves with coffee, TV, radio, phones, stimulants, workouts, stress, and do nothing to combat the other side of all this stimulus.
Meaning, the calming and relaxation process of our bodily systems. (NOT the same as lying on the couch).
Over stimulated adrenals, under stimulated thyroid, low testosterone, poor sleep and the self perpetuating necessity to double the dose of the pre workout just to get through the day.
I suggest you take a whole week each month for a technology and stimulant detox.
NO TV, read a book.
Get outside, and get to bed shortly after the sun goes down.
No caffeine or stimulants, try a some water with lemon to energize you. Most people have no idea that the reason for their lack of energy is terrible food, artificial lighting, polluted environments, contaminated water, disrupted circadian rhythm, and it’s all coming from a few simple and controllable factors.
9) Do NOT overeat.
Bodybuilders hear they need to eat big to get big, which is somewhat true.
But its never about what you eat, its what you absorb if your goal is muscle growth.
Focus on strategies to improve gut health and digestion. Use foods void of pesticides, color and preservatives. These bad foods destroy gut health and will lead to increased permeability of the gut lining and increased inflammation of the entire body.
10) Don’t follow the dogmatic bodybuilding diet with limited food choices.
Vary your food, or you’re asking for intolerance.
Your body requires a variety of nutrients and eating the same foods repetitively seems to correlate extremely highly with digestive issues, intolerances, and chronic health issues. Rotate proteins and fats most importantly.