The Get-Big Diet for Bodybuilders | T Nation
Not too long ago, an article in one of the local bodybuilding newspapers you know, those cheap magazines put out by lowlifes who sell overpriced, crappy supplements and then write about how well they work discussed the dietary strategies of a local bodybuilder. Normally, I glance right over this stuff and turn to the pictures of the fitness models. As I was about to flip the page, the number 1, — smack dab in the middle of the article — caught my eye and made me linger a bit longer.
Now get this, 1, was the number of grams of protein that our local "hero" was eating per day! Realizing that only a true genius could come up with this, I had to read the rest of the article. I laughed so hard as I discovered that the guy weighed only about pounds and wasn't even that lean. My dream is to meet this guy so that we can run some tests and assess his kidney function.
Then we'd know at least, in his case if high-protein diets can harm the kidneys. If you think that our genius hero speaks the gospel, hold off before you raise any golden idols, because I'm about to take you to the Promised Land.
You don't need that much protein to build muscle, my son. Become a believer of the true, Get-Big Bible and you'll be on your way to getting Samson-sized in a hurry. If you want to get bigger and that means lean muscle, not just weight , then you have to eat more calories than you expend. Gee, what a revelation, right? You'd think that was common knowledge, but one of the most common mistakes people make when trying to gain weight is consuming an inconsistent number of calories.
They claim to eat "all of the time," but their fast metabolism somehow keeps them from gaining any weight. Checking through many of their food intake records, one can see that they eat 4, calories one day and 1, the next.
When you average it out over a week, it's obvious that they're just consuming enough calories to maintain their current weight. There are many ways to calculate how many calories you need each day.
A simple method is to multiply your weight in pounds by So a pound guy would need:. Adding 3, and tells you how many calories 3, this guy should eat per day to gain weight. Of course, your activity level determines whether these numbers need to be adjusted up or down.
You should strive to gain half a pound to one pound each week — more than that, and you're putting on too much fat weight. Notice that this section specifies "guys not on drugs. Famous Bodybuilder uses under the false assumption that it'll work for them, as well.
A guy who isn't taking steroids, growth hormone, or whatever other growth-promoting agent that's hot this week has very different protein needs than the same guy taking all of these agents. They are totally different situations and must be addressed separately. Research studies on male subjects who lifted weights and didn't take any drugs clearly showed that men need more than the RDA of 0.
Still, using our pound guy for an example, strict use of the research means that he should take in grams of protein per day. Some guys may decide that they want to take more protein because they don't want to bother with the math and will use one gram of protein per pound.
I don't see a problem with this, other than the fact that it's not necessary. Some people will assert that an excess of this magnitude will damage the kidneys of healthy humans, but there isn't much evidence to support this. In fact, research on obese people indicates that protein intake can alter kidney size but doesn't adversely affect kidney function. It would be nice to see research done on renal function at protein intakes closer to what people are actually eating.
After calculating protein needs, your next step toward the perfect Get-Big plan is to figure out your fat and carbohydrate needs. The pound bodybuilder is expected to eat 3, calories per day. Each gram of protein has four calories per gram, so:. If this hypothetical bodybuilder decided to take in grams of protein, that would equal calories per day. The total calories per day 3, minus the protein calories gives us the amount of calories left for fat and carbohydrates 3, Because one gram of fat has nine calories, the pound bodybuilder will eat grams of fat each day.
Now, determine carbohydrate intake by subtracting the protein calories and the fat calories from the total amount 3, , and you have 2, calories left over for carbohydrates. Since carbohydrates have four calories per gram, divide 2, by 4 to get grams of carbohydrates each day.
Reviewing these numbers, we have 3, calories per day — grams of which are protein, grams of which are fat, and grams of which are carbohydrates. The next issues to cover are how often and when to eat. In general, bodybuilders know that more frequent, smaller meals are superior to less frequent, larger meals.
One study using boxers found that while on a "1, calories per day" weight loss diet, six meals worked much better than two meals for preserving muscle mass. While the effects of meal frequency on total weight loss can be debated, one thing is clear — small, frequent meals preserve muscle better. It's a safe bet that smaller, more frequent meals are a better option than fewer, larger meals for putting on muscle while minimizing fat gain. Based on this wisdom, our pound bodybuilder will eat six meals per day.
As far as when to eat in relation to working out, research on rats shows that eating a meal immediately after exercise is better than waiting several hours, if you want to create muscle-bound rodents. We also know that protein and carbohydrates taken together stimulate more of the anabolic hormone insulin when taken before and after weight training.
Putting all of this together, we have a lot of support for an insulin-stimulating drink immediately after exercise. A recent review indicates that this post-exercise drink should be taken immediately after exercise and again one-and-a-half to two hours later.
Other investigators have recommended even higher ratios, up to 4: Since our model bodybuilder is trying to gain weight while training his ass off, he'll need some extra carbs, so 4: Let's put everything together now in a sample Get-Big meal plan. Samson wannabes should take in 3, calories a day, of which grams are protein, grams are fat, and grams are carbohydrates — ever y day.
On days that he works out, he'll have 27 grams of protein for each meal. His two post-workout shakes will consist of 27 grams of protein, grams of carbohydrates, and nothing else. Whey protein and any of these carbohydrates is the first choice: Otherwise, grape juice will work.
If he takes creatine, then he adds it to these shakes. The remaining four meals on this workout day will each have 27 grams of protein, 86 grams of carbohydrates, and 26 grams of fat. Emphasize consuming fruits, vegetables, nuts, fish, and lean meats. Sources for healthy fats include olive oil, flaxseed oil, and flaxseed meal.
Here's an example of a single day's meal plan:. On days that you don't work out, divide your daily numbers by six and try to take in the same amounts of protein, carbohydrates, and fat for each meal. So the pound bodybuilder eating 3, calories grams of protein, grams of fat, and grams of carbohydrates each day would divide these numbers by six to yield 27 grams of protein, 18 grams of fat, and 93 grams of carbs for each meal.
Feel free to experiment and incorporate some variety in this Get-Big meal plan. Notice that an emphasis is placed on foods that are high in antioxidants, omega-3 fatty acids, and monounsaturated fatty acids.
This program works well for putting on size and will keep you healthy in the future. Most guys plan their workouts with incredible details.
When you ask them about their meal plan, you get a blank stare. Why waste all of that hard work in the gym with a half-assed diet? Take some time and plan out what you need to eat and when you'll eat it. This way, you'll be sure to have what you want at the right time. Have faith, the Get-Big strategy is easy to follow. You'll be a believer once you incorporate science into your eating plan. You probably noticed that supplements were only mentioned in passing with this plan. Future articles will help you individualize this approach and how to supplement for maximum benefit.
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