Do you need to deprive yourself of everything that is tasty, and enjoyable in order to build an awesome body and get in great shape?
That’s what most people struggle with, myself included early on in my training. We think that you have to deprive ourselves. That building lean muscle, and getting a six-pack is about deprivation, and saying no to the treats and the things we enjoy most.
But it doesn’t have to be like that. Much of the fitness industry will have you think that you have to stick to a strict meal plan, that you can’t consume any alcohol, or that you have to eat boring foods that aren’t all that tasty. Well that simply isn’t true.
Yes, if you spend that majority of your meals in MacDonald’s or KFC, then you have to do a lot of adjusting. But it’s more of a lifestyle change than a matter of deprivation.
As you probably know, I was a skinny guy growing up, and into my early twenties. I couldn’t gain a single pound of lean muscle. When I finally figured out what I was doing –> here’s what I did to gain 32 lbs in 32 weeks <– I didn’t want to be one of those guys who ate the same tasteless food every single meal, everyday. So I didn’t.
I ate clean. I ate things that I liked, and I enjoyed my treats. I didn’t turn my life upside down. I made some lifestyle changes, and made some DRAMATIC changes to my training. But I still lived. This article will give you some tips that’ll help you get in great shape but also have the lifestyle you like.
Eating Healthy Doesn’t Mean Eating Bland, Boring Meals
I follow a simple philosophy: if it’s natural, I’ll most likely eat it. If it’s processed, fake, fried, or packaged and could last on my shelf without going bad for a couple years, then it’s not going inside me belly.
I also don’t like eating bland foods, so I don’t. You’ll see a lot of bodybuilders eating brown rice and chicken. Not for me. I’d rather have chicken with some whole-wheat pasta, or a chicken stir-fry, or steak and veggies!
My post-workout meal is usually French toast. I use all-natural syrup, egg whites, and whole-wheat toast. It tastes AWESOME, and it helps me repair muscle without contributing to the ol’ waste line.
What you do have to do:
1. Cut down on the fast carbs, things like starches and sugars – unless they’re centered close to your workout.
2. Take control of the 3 most important hours of the day – more on that later.
3. Eat a lot of protein (a portion with each meal). Protein helps repair muscle tissue. It’s also the hardest of the fuel sources to break down and helps boost your metabolism in the process.
4. Don’t say no to fat. Saturated fats and monounsaturated fats are good in my books. Of course you can go overboard with the saturated fats, but don’t be scared of them. Do say no to trans fats – they’re man-made and terrible for your waste line and your heart.
Does fast food make you feel good?
Does that crap actually make you feel good? I’ll have a burger once in a while, but I always feel like crap after. I prefer to make my treats things that will leave me feeling satisfied, not bloated and gross.
Trans fats and ‘fake foods’, as I like to call them, are the enemy. If you’re trying to make lean gains, or even lose fat, start by working on one meal a day. Start with breakfast. Make it a homemade meal (I have 4 eggs + oatmeal and blueberries).
You have to start with baby steps, but you have to cut fast food out of your life.
The 3 most important hours of the day
You’ll see this a lot on my blog, but taking advantage of the hour before your workout, during, and the hour after your workout is extremely important. You need to give yourself the right fuels in your pre workout meal (usually 1-1.5 hours before).
Also, have a high carbohydrate and protein drink during your workout. This will spike insulin levels, combined with the blood flow to your muscles; this will send more nutrients to the right places.
Take this one step further with your post workout meal. Have a high-good carb, high lean protein and low fat meal. With your insulin levels spiked, your absorption levels are higher, so you want to give your body the things that it needs to absorb. Protein and carbs are high on that list after an intense workout.
Treats aren’t treats if you have them everyday
I like what I like. I like Scotch, beer, wine from time to time with a nice meal, cigars on occasion, and good food. I feel like crap if I eat foods that are too fatty, or too heavy, too often. So I eat clean for the most part, but that doesn’t mean I don’t treat myself.
I’ll have Scotch a few times a week, and a cold beer a few times a week as well. That’s what life’s all about. It’s about enjoying those things that make life enjoyable. But they lose their prestige if you’re constantly consuming them.
Ice cream once or twice a week is awesome. Going past that it becomes too much. It loses it’s luster. Alcohol is the same way. If you’re drinking 10 beers a day, for one, you’re an alcoholic. And two, it becomes like drinking water. It’s something that you just do, and it’s no longer a treat.
Treats a couple times a week become special. You enjoy them more, and they’re not going to kill your progress. If anything, they’ll help, and you’ll enjoy life a hell of a lot more than you would it you simply cut yourself off completely.
It’ll help you eat clean more often if you’re not craving those treats every second of everyday. You’re less likely to binge on 3 pizza’s if you grab a couple slices every week.
What’s your favorite treat?
Check out this video – how to eat to gain muscle: