I talked about this last week in an article covering the best diet for you. Over-complication and restriction sell well, but they don’t work, not in the long term at least. To get real, long-lasting results, you need to be following a diet that…
a. Is healthy.
b. Is tasty.
If it’s healthy and it tastes good while also allowing a degree of freedom you’re going to stick with it. It’s this stick-with-it-ness that separates momentary results from permanent improved muscle gains, fat loss, performance, and health.
In this article we’ll lay out an “option” for your diet. This will center around the Man Diet, a diet that’s specifically made for men, to help men fix the underlying issue keeping us from both our ideal bodies, energy levels, and health, a lack of optimal testosterone levels.
The following structure to your diet will help you do a few things which we’ll explain in further detail throughout the article:
1. Naturally increase your testosterone levels.
2. Have more energy.
3. Recover faster from your workouts, helping you burn more fat and build more muscle, and…
4. Help you burn more fat and build more muscle.
A few notes:
- Hardgainers, add even more carbs after your workout and have them before your workout as well, 2 hours before. That is, if they don’t negatively effect your energy levels, which can be a personal matter. Keep the fats lower with these carbs meals as to not effect the quality of protein synthesis.
- Heavier guys trying to lose weight, it’s up to you if you do this, but think about training in a fasted or semi-fasted state. Have a juice like I do before my workout or just the BCAA’s. You can then start your post workout shake half-way through the workout along with BCAA’s to prevent muscle loss and protein breakdown.
- If you don’t use Athletic Greens in your post workout shake (more on that in a bit), take vitamin C to stop your cortisol levels from rising and zinc to quell the rise of estrogen.
- Eat less on your non-training days. You’re not going to burn as many cals on your non-workout days, so why eat as much? You’re also not going to use as many calories, so why give your body things that it will just store?
- Take your off days as a chance to boost T levels with increased dietary fats while dropping your carbohydrate intake by 5-10% and also eating fewer overall calories.
We talk about macros and how many you should be allotting to the various forms of calories in the Man Diet, so make sure you look back to the book to check all that stuff out.
With that, let’s get down to an example of a training day schedule and an off-day schedule.
Training Day Meal Schedule
5am wake-up – 9am workout
Creatine upon rising.
“Meal” #1: Pre Workout Juice + BCAA’s
This isn’t actually a meal, I just don’t like to eat before training so I use the juicing recipes to get some vitamin C in me before a workout along with the myriad of benefits that come from some of the other vegetable-heavy juices. I’ll have this an hour before the workout, followed by the BCAA’s and pre-workout 15-minutes before I actually start training.
Here’s a good recipe:
Meal #2: Post Workout Shake
Protein Powder (3 scoops ISO SMOOTH) + Gatorade + Athletic Greens + Creatine + Vitamin D
(Athletic Greens has vitamin C and zinc, among other things. Zinc stops rise of estrogen and Vitamin C stops the rise of cortisol that happens during a workout, as do the BCAA’s taken during a workout).
BCAA’s: 10 grams pre workout (here’s the BCAA’s I recommend and use – they’re possibly the most important supplement you can have).
Creatine: Dosage depends on the form you’re using. Powerxd (grab it here) has no loading period and requires only 4 total grams a day (2 grams upon rising and two grams post workout) because of the quality and potency. Creatine has also been shown not to negatively effect the liver and kidneys. It’s not only safe but incredibly effective for improving lean muscle mass and strength.
No matter what creatine you’re taking, post workout is the best time to take it so think about lumping your daily intake with your post workout shake.
Protein: I like a tri-blend, that is, whey, whey isolate, and casein, because it has a 3-phase release so you know you’re going to get optimal absorption. ISO SMOOTH is such a blend, read more about it here: ISO SMOOTH High Quality Protein.
Athletic Greens: Not only are there 12 servings of vegetables and fruits per scoop, but they’re organic and high quality. If you take Athletic Greens you don’t need to supplement with zinc or vitamin C, they’re both in here. Read more: Athletic Greens Super Food.
The greatest benefit of Athletic Greens is the variety. You’re just not going to get the same variety of veggies in your diet if you’re trying to eat them whole, nor would you want to, some of these taste terrible and they’re very expensive. Variety helps with absorption. The more variety you have in your diet with your proteins, fats, and vegetables, the better you’re going to absorb the nutrients within them and see the benefits they possess.
Meal #3: Post Workout Meal
60-90 Minutes after the workout.
High in Protein and Carbs. Chicken and rice, vegetables, or any other forms of lean proteins and “good carbs”. With that said, if you’re going to cheat on the carbs and have a fast carbohydrate, do it in this meal. And for the hardgainers, you basically have this meal “free” for carbohydrates, have pasta, white rice, whatever.
Meal #4: Fats + Proteins
Next time I’m hungry I’ll have a fats/proteins meal, usually a breakfast-type meal with eggs and some form of meat.
Note: If I’m training later in the day, which I used to typically do, I’ll have a fats meal to start my day in the morning with some meat accompanying the eggs. Meat slows the rise of blood sugar and helps you experience elevated, not declining, energy levels as the day progresses. So it’s all about timing. This meal can be the first of your day or one of the last.
Meal time: usually 3-4 hours after the post workout meal (2-4 pm).
Meal #5: Fats + Proteins
The last two meals are where I get the majority of my fats – or all, for that matter – of my fats for the day. Breakfast for a late lunch or dinner (eggs and bacon), and a steak or some form of meat with a bit of fat on it, for a later meal. I’ll also have nuts and vegetables with that meal, and to be honest, I’m not that picky about carbs. I do keep my carb content low during the last two meals because it’s so high during the post workout shake and post workout meal.
There’s no real benefit for me to add any more carbs in there for the last two meals so with the steak and eggs and bacon I’ll just have various veggies or even another juice – or both.
This final meal will be my dinner, so it can be at 6pm, or as late as 8 pm, depending on work and what needs to get done and my schedule. Again, freedom is important.
Off Day Schedule
On my off days I typically use some kind of fasting protocol, usually with an 8 hour feeding window taking my last meal from the previous day into account for the 16 hour fasting period.
I like Intermittent Fasting, but as a hardgainer I’ve found that I need more calories on my training days to get the most from my workouts from a nutrient standpoint but also an overall caloric standpoint as well. If I use IF on my training days I don’t consume quite enough calories and end up not recovering from my workouts as I’d like to.
Here’s how my off days look like.
Meal #1: Fats + Proteins
10am meal (depending on the previous night’s final meal, I’ll take a 16 hour fast, so if I eat at 5pm I’ll eat at 9am the following day, or around there. I’m not incredibly strict with this, and with the appetite suppressant that is the all-powerful coffee bean ground, espresso’d, then consumed, I can push that first meal back to as late as noon, especially if I’m working on something important).
The meal is usually eggs (6) with bacon or grass-fed ground beef or bison.
Meal #2: Fats + Proteins
If you didn’t eat fish the day before, have some fish today. I love red meat, and it’s great for you, but fish is pretty hard to beat. So eat fish. Fresh, wild fishies are best. Make a ton of veggies to accompany it, some asparagus, yams, whatever.
I’ll have this meal a few hours after the last one. If the first was at 10am, this guy will be at 2pm.
Meal #3: Carbs + Proteins + Some Fats
To round out the day I’ll include some carbs in my diet, and I’m doing this for dinner for a number of reasons:
1. Carbs mess with my energy levels. You may be the same – try experimenting with a lower carb diet that’s high in dietary fats and proteins and absolutely packed with fruits and vegetables, and see how your energy levels are. So having carbs before bed for me is great, it helps me sleep.
But there’s more to it than that.
2. The evidence surrounding pre workout nutrition is foggy. As far as too early to eat before a workout the consensus seems to be no earlier than 2 hours. But when is the most beneficial time to eat before a workout? That’s not really known. Some studies go as far to say that if you’re training in the morning or early afternoon, it’s the meal you ate for dinner the night before that will do the most good, especially with carbohydrates.
So this meal will have some carbs. A few potatoes, a bit of pasta (again, while I eat the right things at the right time, I’m not insanely restrictive with my diet, I’ve found that I whither away when I do that and, well, that’s just no way to live. I’m Italian on my mother’s side, so pasta has been a staple of my diet since Moses wore short pants.)
For this meal I’ll have another meat, red or white or fish, a lot of vegetables, possibly another juice, and some yummy carbs. Simple.
Recovery and Timing
If you’re following the timing of the Man Diet as far as fats meals, you’re getting enough fat in your diet. This is going to have the greatest positive effect on your testosterone levels, which is the most important aspect of recovery for a man. But stopping the release of cortisol that occurs during a workout and for up to 3 hours after is just as important, so take your vitamin C.
Body fat also kills testosterone levels and ruins your recovery, so train hard and don’t go overboard with the calories. Most guys should fall somewhere within the 2,500 – 3,500 cals/day range. For the extreme hardgainers, you’re going to be more than that.
The nutrition around the workout is the most important in your day. This is where you’re going to either feed your muscle, aid your hormones, and start the recovery process immediately, or let your body eat away at itself, and this involves the supplements I use there as well. I don’t go nuts with supplements, but if you’re eating effectively they definitely have their place and ensure you’re seeing the benefits you want to see from your workouts.
So structure your meals around your workouts and be sure to follow the rest of the guidelines in the Man Diet to make sure you’re creating an environment where fat loss can occur, and lean, strong muscle can be developed. If you’re not boosting T levels, you’re up shit’s creek without a paddle, so start eating like a man!