Meal Frequency: Is Eating Six Times a Day Necessary?

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Eating Six Times a Day

Is All That Eating Necessary ... Really?

One question that is popping up all over the bodybuilding space is the question is meal frequency.  Not just meal timing, just the basic question of how many times do I need to eat per day?

Just the other day I received this note …. (for you who can’t read, I’m not saying this, I said I received this)

No study has ever confirmed that it is more efficient to eat 6 small meals as opposed to 3 big meals (or even 2!) in terms of body composition results.

ZERO!

Are those six meals a day I’ve heard about really necessary?  People have been told for some time that in order to build muscle and gain weight, they need to be eating.   In the past, you’ve probably heard that eating more frequent meals is has a thermodynamic effect and you will burn more fat by eating more often. ( A study done in 2010 disproves this assumption)

But is this dogma true?  First, let’s examine the short list of frequent meals.  This list is by no means definitive.

Benefits of More Meals Per Day:

  • appetite control
  • frequent eating and tight control of within day energy balance help to control insulin
  • personal observation (not scientific but not irrelevant either)
  • energy balance
  • higher meal frequency is important from a cortisol control standpoint

Drawbacks to More Meals Per Day:

  • too much eating
  • burden to carry so much food around
  • preparation for the amount of food
  • not necessary to achieve the proper amount of total daily calories
  • not necessary for the current level of athletic training

” If eating 5-6 times a day helps control your appetite and easily hit your calorie goals, if it gives you more energy, keeps you satisfied all day long and you enjoy it – then that’s the way to go. If eating bodybuilder-style with 5 or 6 whole food meals a day is a burden to you with the food prep and time spent eating, or it makes it harder to stick with your plan, not easier, then you’re better off with 3 or 4 meals a day or 3 meals with snacks.”Tom Venuto, author of Burn the Fat Feed the Muscle

To take Tom Venuto’s statement a bit further here’s what Dr. Dan Benardot, PhD., RD, LD, FACSM, and author of Advanced Sports Nutrition says on the meal frequency subject…

“There is a limit to how much energy (i.e., calories) the body can handle properly at one time. By satisfying our total energy requirements through infrequent eating opportunities, this limit is passed and problems occur. In addition, infrequent eating does nothing to address normal blood sugar fluctuation. Blood sugar peaks about one hour after eating, and is back to pre-meal levels about two hours after that. That means that we can expect a normal range of blood sugar for about three hours. Unless something is consumed to satisfy the need for blood sugar every three hours, gluconeogenesis can result with a loss of lean mass.”

“A dedicated bodybuilder should eat at least five times a day and space those meals no further than three hours apart.  I have found eating smaller, more frequent meals, or in other words “grazing” throughout the day, is the most efficient way for my body to process food.”SkipLaCour; six-time national drug-free champion bodybuilder; author of Bodybuilding Nutrition

Will Brink, author, columnist and consultant, to the supplement, fitness, bodybuilding, and weight loss industry and author of Bodybuilding Revealed & Fat Loss Revealed weights in with an excellent video on the subject.

Do You Need to Eat Six Times a Day or More?

At this point, I hope you are not confused!  What I’ve found is that first and foremost you must get your required number of calories per day to reach your goals.  After that, meal timing becomes important given your activities in the next hours.  You do not need to eat more frequent meals IF your blood sugar is in control and your appetite is fine.

Signs of Hunger:

  • hunger pangs
  • loss of focus and inability to concentrate

If you are NOT engaging in high intensity training or activities that require some type of re-fueling OR if you are taking a training break OR sedentary, then 3 meals a day would probably be just fine.

However, if you want to optimize performance, be your best at your intense workouts, perform longer duration activities, then don’t get caught in the trap of controversy that says multiple meals (maybe 5 maybe more) is not necessary.  Or that there’s no evidence via studies to show that multiple meals has an affect on body composition.

In fact it IS and there are SEVERAL studies (listed below) that prove this.

Going by personal experience, as should you in this case, if you find yourself getting light-headed and you feel like you want to grab the closest candy bar, you are probably experiencing some significant swings in insulin.  Having more frequent meals helps control this issue and it’s why I like having 5-6 meals per day.  I’m able to eat at a 15% calorie deficit when cutting without going crazy with hunger or insulin making me make horrible choices out of desperation.

However, if you eat 3 times a day maybe a snack or two and get your calories in per day, have energy for your activity and you experience NONE of the hunger swings or cravings, you simply don’t need more meals per day.

I am a fan of frequent eating but is it absolutely 100% necessary?

The answer is you should customize your meal frequency!

Meal Frequency can be affected by:

  • environmental
  • your history
  • accessibility
  • culture
  • time
  • finances
So YOUR meal frequency really needs to be customized to your situation based on the benefits and drawbacks listed above in addition to your personal situation.

In the meantime, based on the research and several experts in the field of nutrition and bodybuilding listed here on subject, I’ll continue to eat my six bodybuilding style meals per day.

I’d love to know what you think on this subject.

Marc David – CPT
“The NoBull Muscle Guy”
Author of NoBull Bodybuilding

Additional Resources and Studies on Meal Frequency

  • Meal Frequency: International Society of Sports Nutrition
  • Meal Frequency and Energy Balance by Lyle McDonald
  • Researchers Look at How Frequency of Meals May Affect Health
  • Beneficial metabolic effects of regular meal frequency on dietary thermogenesis, insulin sensitivity
  • Meal frequency and energy balance
  • Meal Frequency and Weight Loss by Dr. Christopher Mohr
  • Optimal Protein Intake And Meal Frequency To Support Maximal Protein Synthesis and Muscle Mass by Dr. Layne Norton
  • Effects of meal frequency on body composition during weight control in boxers

More Studies:

  • Nibbling versus gorging: metabolic advantages of increased meal frequency
  • The relationship between frequency of eating and adiposity in adult men and women in the Tecumseh Community Health Study
  • Effect of meal frequency and timing on physical performance

Four “No Fail” Principles For Quick and Easy Weight Gain

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I got into weight training to gain mass and put on weight so believe me when I tell you…when it comes to wanting mass I know EXACTLY where you’re coming from. Because when I started training, I weighed 145 lbs soaking wet. Today, I’m a lean 210 lbs (at a height of 5’10″)!

Weight Gain Tips

4 Principles For Quick and Easy Weight Gain

I’ve got four “no fail” principles that I recommend to people who are trying to build muscle mass and gain some weight.

And I’ll tell you right up front – these principles are NOT rocket science…these are the basic things you SHOULD be doing if you want to gain mass, yet I see plenty of people only doing one or two of them and wondering why they can’t put on any mass!

Combining these four principles consistently will definitely get the job done!

1. Train heavy and to muscular failure

In order to gain muscle mass, you need to give your muscles a REASON to grow. Training with heavy weights (relatively speaking, of course – what’s heavy for one person may be light for another) to muscular failure is the stimulus that starts the process.

And by muscular failure, I mean the point where you physically can’t perform another rep WITH GOOD FORM – reps done with terrible form don’t count!

The best rep range to train for muscle growth, in my experience, is between 6 to 10 repetitions per set. Training in the range below that (1 to 5 reps) will primarily lead to strength gains rather than muscle gains.

Training in the higher rep ranges (for the most part, unless you’re using specialized high-rep techniques) will primarily work on muscular endurance with minimal effects on muscle mass.

Training to muscular failure is VERY important for muscle gain.

Muscles will not grow unless they are pushed beyond what they’re used to. Doing your sets only up to a certain number of reps and stopping on that number regardless of whether the muscle has been worked or not is a very common mistake made by both men and women alike. Counting reps and stopping on an arbitrary number will NOT work the muscles fully and will hamper weight gain.

So to train for optimum muscle gain, select a weight that will cause you to reach muscular failure in the 6 to 10 rep range.

2. Utilize basic exercises for most of your training

Dumbell tricep kick-backs will NOT help you gain weight. The Pec Deck will NOT help you gain weight. Leg extensions will NOT help you gain weight.

These exercises are not bad exercises; they’re just NOT the exercises that are going to give you the results you want. In fact, doing exercises like these at the expense of the basic exercises can actually detract from weight gain, especially if you have a hard time gaining weight. They will use up your valuable time and energy!

Basic exercises are the exercises that use the most muscle mass. They are the HARDEST exercises…the ones you either love or hate. This “make or break” challenge is what makes them the most productive for building muscle.

Basic exercises include:

  • squats
  • deadlifts
  • bench press
  • shoulder press
  • barbell curls
  • barbell bent-over rows
  • dips
  • chin-ups
  • lunges
  • calf raises.

This is not a comprehensive list but it will give you an idea of what a basic exercise is. Essentially, a basic exercise is an exercise that you can use a lot of weight on and that requires the most effort.

Use these basic exercises consistently for the majority of your sets and you WILL gain muscle.

3. Eat good quality nutrition in sufficient quantities.

Now that you’ve stimulated your muscles with hard, heavy training, it’s time to feed them. Gaining weight, a.k.a. building muscle, requires a caloric intake in excess of what it takes to maintain your current bodyweight.

Basically, you need to eat more.

The amount of calories you require to gain weight will vary greatly depending on several factors, primarily your current amount of muscle mass, your daily activity level and your metabolic rate.

The more muscle you already have and the more active you are, the more calories you’re going to need to eat in order to gain weight. If you are already thin, you probably have a fast metabolism (i.e. you lose weight quickly and gain it slowly), and you’re going to need to eat even MORE.

In order to keep your muscles supplied with nutrients, you’re going to need to eat frequently throughout the day. It’s best if you can manage to eat 5 or 6 meals over the course of the day. Naturally, these meals will be smaller than your regular meals if you currently eat 3 per day.

The idea is to keep feeding your muscles so that they always have nutrients available to grow. If you go without food for long periods of time, your body will turn on its own resources (e.g. your muscles) to provide needed nutrients for repair and recovery.

And whatever you do, if you want to gain weight, DO NOT skip breakfast! If you do, it will kill your metabolism for the rest of the day.

Besides sufficient caloric intake, protein is also critical for muscle gain. Protein is the structural nutrient that your muscles are made of. You must feed your body protein in order to help your muscles rebuild.

Good protein sources include fish, poultry, dairy, meats, soy, legumes (beans), eggs, and whey. A typical recommended protein intake for a person looking to gain muscle would be around 0.8 to 1.0 grams of protein per pound of bodyweight. For example, as a 136-pound person, this would have you eating 109 to 136 grams of protein per day.

Supplements can also be extremely useful for weight gain. Whey protein, creatine monohydrate, and the amino acid glutamine are among the most effective supplements.

And I’ll tell you right now, there’s no need to get crazy with your supplement purchases… manufacturers will often prey upon your strong desire to gain mass and try and sell you a TON of supplements you really don’t need.

Keep it simple and get your training and eating in order. THAT is what builds an impressive body – not a boatload of bizarre supplements.

So to sum it up: eat a lot, eat frequently and eat plenty of protein.

4. Get enough rest

Your muscles don’t grow while you’re training. Your muscles actually grow AFTER your training session is done. One of the best things you can do to help you reach your goal of gaining weight is to learn to relax. This is especially important both after a workout and at night.

Immediately following a workout, your body is in an emergency situation. You’ve just put a lot of stress on your body and your body needs time to recover from it.

If you immediately have to rush off to do errands or some other stressful chore, you’re not going to get optimal recovery and that means you’re not going to get optimal muscle growth. If you can manage it, try to schedule your workouts for when you have a little time to relax after. Heck, take a nap about an hour or so later if you can!

Getting some good, solid sleep at night is also very important. A large part of your growth process occurs at night. If you don’t get enough sleep or your sleep is restless, your body will not be able to take full advantage of the growth you’ve stimulated with your training.
Conclusion:

If you want to gain mass, you HAVE to do the basic things right…train hard with heavy, basic exercises, eat well and get plenty of rest. As I mentioned above, this ain’t rocket science, yet you’d be surprised at how many people miss more than one of these items!

Don’t stop yourself before you even get started – make sure you’re got these four “no fail” principles down pat!

——————

About the Author: Nick Nilsson has a degree in Physical Education and Psychology and has been innovating new training techniques for more than 18 years. Nick is the author of a number of bodybuilding books including “Muscle Explosion! 28 Days To Maximum Mass”, “Metabolic Surge – Rapid Fat Loss,” “The Best Exercises You’ve Never Heard Of,” “Gluteus to the Maximus – Build a Bigger Butt NOW!” and “The Best Abdominal Exercises You’ve Never Heard Of”, all designed to maximize the results you get for the hard work you put into your training.

Be sure to grab your FREE copy of Nick’s 30-day “Dirty Little Secret Program for Building Muscle and Burning Fat FAST,”

Check out more articles related to these mass-building principles:

My Practical “Lazy Cook” Recipes For Building Muscle! So Easy Even a Caveman Can Make Them…

Training on the Edge – Learn How Overtraining on Purpose Can Get You Maximum Results FAST!

Rest-Pause Training

Eight Mistakes I’ve Made In My Training and How You Can Avoid Them

The Most Critical Lessons I Learned In My Very First Year of Training That Can Help YOU Maximize Muscle and Fat Loss

Ask the readers: Best Weight Gain Tip?

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Today I will ask you, the readers, to create the content for this site.  Many of you are experts yourself having been through this before.  I’ve never tried this concept on this blog and if it works, it will be something I’ll do often.  If not, can’t blame me for not giving it a shot.

Many of us would like to gain weight — some of us just 10 pounds, and others more than 50.  But it’s not easy. We put ourselves through nutrition nightmares, we fail in our daily eating, we continue to stay the same weight, and we feel frustrated and confused about it.  Worse yet, if you are desperate to gain weight you are told by many how lucky you are to be so skinny without even trying.  For an ectomorph who’s trying to pack on muscle, this is just a backhanded compliment.

But you can gain weight. It can be done. Some of you have even done it.  I’ve done it myself after 20 years of natural bodybuilding.

So here’s your question for today:

What’s your best weight gain tip?

Put your two cents in! Let us know in the comments.

5 Big Reasons Why Everyone Should Train Like Athletes

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Elliott Husle: Pro Strongman

By Elliott Hulse Co-Creator of Lean Hybrid Muscle

If you’re like me, you probably want nothing more than to feel like a ‘super-stud’ every time you take your shirt off in public. You want to have the confidence to say, ‘Boy, this sweaty shirt is chaffin’ me’, then reach over your shoulder and tear your shirt off like Brad Pitt in Fight Club. When you know that your pecs look like two soup bowls inserted beneath your skin, and your abs are as hard the asphalt you stand on, it’s tough to keep your shirt on!

Today you are gonna learn the top 5 training principles that you MUST implement in order to make your physique and performance goals… a reality. But, before I open the info-floodgates, there is something you’ve got to understand. Men… all men, should recognize that we are athletes and our training programs must reflect this.

Even if you’re a ‘pencil pusher’ or a ‘white collar crook’, the essence of your being is athletic. In order to see any type of fitness results it is essential to recognize that Squats, Power Cleans, 40 Yard Dashes and Vertical Jumps are not only for NFL Combine participants… they are for you!

1. You’re An Athlete By Design

The foundation principle of everything that I teach all begins with one extremely powerful phrase: “We are primal beings living in a modern world”

Our physical bodies have been unchanged for thousands of years. In fact, today, our bodies are an exact expression of what our ancestors were over 100,000 years ago. It is believed that it takes about 100,000 years for 0.001percent of a genome to change… so yourself and Primal Man are for all intents and purposes… the same.

What has changed is how WE have chosen to live, if you can even call it that. As we have ‘advanced’ in technology we have regressed in physical strength and stature.

We function at a much lower capacity than were inherently capable of. This is analogous to those people who buy off-road vehicles that will never see anything but concrete! You’ve been given the ultimate athletic tool… use it.

2. Short, Hard and Intense Workouts Yield Lean, Hard and Muscular Bodies

When you spend over an hour in the gym sitting on useless ‘fitness machines’ while you’re waiting to do your ‘next set’…your nervous system’s primal response is to release Cortisol and Glucocorticoids – which are stress hormones, (these make you sick, sad, fat and, stupid) in response to your body thinking… “Holy Cow, we’ve been training for over an hour… perhaps we’re being chased by a tiger and need to preserve body fat”, then it begins sacrificing muscle tissue for energy! This is called The Catabolic Effect. Also, workouts exceeding 1 hour have been shown to be associated with a rapid decrease in androgen levels.

This is why marathon runners look so emaciated… id much rather look like one of those Lock, Stock & Ready Sprinters with muscles rippling across their backs and abs.

3. Aerobics and Cardio Training Is Boring & Ineffective

Strength coach Charles Poliquin has coined the phrase “Chunky Aerobic Instructor Syndrome” (CAIS). You’ve seen them, they do cardio all day long… don’t you think that they would be a bit leaner? Well, there is a scientific reason as to why they are cubby even though they bounce up and down on those colorful blocks all day long. In fact research has shown that aerobic instructors who taught an average of 3 hours a day maintained a body fat of 22-24% – mind you, that Olympic athletes hover around 9%.

Especially with repetitive exercises like aerobics the body adapts quickly to the stimulus and ceases to respond to the stimulus. Also, you begin to become very fuel-efficient… Listen, think of a metabolism that has adapted to long treks of cardio as being a Honda… it burns very little fuel (i.e. fat) but can go miles and miles. Think of a metabolism that is roaring with increased mitochondria activity (as is present in someone who weight trains with circuits) as a Hummer, large fuel combusting metabolism!

Here’s Why this is so important! You want a stronger heart, without the fat saving response of long boring cardio treks. That is why I teach my clients how to do work capacity sets. We take 4-6 exercises and complete them back to back with no rest and aim to complete them all with in about 2 minutes… if your heart is not ready to pound out of your chest after that, then maybe you should visit your veterinarian!

Here’s a simple circuit that you can do at home – first 20 squats, then 20 lunges, then ‘step ups’ on a bench 10 each leg, finally do 10 squat jumps and get it all done in less than 90 seconds! Kick-ass workout!

We begin every session with Plyometrics and then get right into 3-5 “work capacity” sets for upper and lower body.

4. Get High on Oxygen & Sunshine

Besides the fact that training on treadmills and ‘sit down’ exercise equipment is less effective than getting your feet on the ground and learning how to use your own bodyweight, training indoors can be detrimental to your performance and fitness results.

As ‘primal beings’ we are in need of several vital elements and forms of energy. The suns rays are nourishing to your mind as well as body. It is well documented that those who live in the cooler northern climates that enjoy less sunshine through out the year are several times more likely to suffer from depression.

Also, if you’re like most Americans you work and live indoors (maybe). In fact, the average person spends 90% of their time indoors. Several health experts have propounded that our homes and workplace are the most toxic environments in our lives. Many studies have stated that toxic particles and fumes found in your home and workplace include: air fresheners, spray starch, paints, mothballs and even ‘new car’ smell kills more people every year than automobile accidents!

So, what do you do? Train in the great outdoors! When I train my Strength Camp clients at Vinoy Park in St. Petersburg Florida, not only do we benefit from the sweet bay breeze but also the scenery is beautiful enough to give a nun spring fever!

5. It’s Gotta Be Fun!

Drop out rates for exercise programs are almost as high as the drop out rate in my old middle school! The bottom line is, if you don’t enjoy it – you wont do it. The most effective way to ensure that you stick with your training program is to change it often. This doesn’t mean hop from one modality to the next before you get any results. It means stick with your weight-training program for a minimum of 90 day but change the exercises you use for each body part at least every 3 weeks.

This not only keeps you interested but also, your nervous system will be challenged with the new exercises and be forced to adapt. This yields fast and long-lasting results!

Marc David
“The NoBull Muscle Guy”
www.nobullbodybuilding.com

Download Your Free Copy of The Warrior Physique

Bulking Dieters Beware: This is a Big Mistake

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Photo Credit: Jill

When it comes to packing on muscle quickly, the fastest way to do that involves being in a slight calorie surplus.  But many people take this to mean, “Just eat” and eat lots and don’t worry about it.

If You’ve Been Told:

* eat everything you can to gain weight

* eat, eat and eat some more

* eating anything is faster than eating clean

* just eat damn it!

* don’t worry about getting fat on a bulk, it’s normal

Then you NEED to read the rest of this article.  You’ve been told some bad advice by people who probably don’t realize that gaining all that extra fat just won’t go away.  What’s that?  You can’t just burn it off later?  Or take these common examples…

Sadly, the skinny guy or gal, is still skinny but has a nice layer of stomach fat.  Not exactly the bulking they were hoping for when they were told to eat everything under the sun.  Or the average guy, starts lifting heavy and couldn’t be bothered with nutrition.  He/She just knows to EAT and eat lots and notices their strength going up but they are a bit fatter.  But don’t care.  That’s what it’s about.  They think “I’ll cut later and burn all this fat off later.”

In previous attempts, I’ve talked about the concept of Dirty Bulking and the term Lazy Bodybuilding evolved.

Let me explain…

If you want to put on the most muscle possible, you would engage in what’s called a ‘bulking’ diet. That is where you eat 10-15% over your maintenance level calories. The rate of muscle growth can be quite rapid at this level of caloric intake, but the rate of fat gain can often be as high as the rate of muscle gain (a 1:1 ratio).

So why would you ever want to gain fat along with the muscle?   You don’t but it’s inevitable.  Your goal is to minimize any fat gains by eating over your maintenance but only by a small amount. Not pig out or have an excuse to eat everything.  You will gain the maximum amount of muscle possible only if you stay in a caloric surplus. People who want to gain muscle and lose fat at the same time have to alternate periods of caloric surplus with periods of caloric deficit and therefore will gain muscle much more slowly.  Or they live a low-carb, higher protein diet to build muscle and lose fat.  Which works but again, is difficult to maintain and not the method used for maximum muscle growth.

Fat is part of the game and you just bulk up.  Eventually you notice you are getting more fat.  But that’s just par for the course right?

Let me tell you right now, that is a very costly mistake.  I’ve made mention that putting on fat is unavoidable, but you’ll want t:

*  keep a lid on it

*  monitor it and

*  back if off if things get out of control

I’ve seen and watched too many people go from 10% body fat to nearly 21% and CONVINCED themselves it’s just normal for a bodybuilder to plump up during the off-season.  That being fatter is normal and they’ll just cut up and get rid of it later.

What they don’t realize is the following as pointed out by Lyle McDonald, author of The Stubborn Fat Solution.  Lyle has a degree in exercise physiology from the University of California in Los Angeles, graduating in 1993. He’s dedicated nearly 20 years of his life to studying human physiology and the art, science, and practice of human performance, muscle gain, fat loss, and body recomposition.  He’s qualified to offer up the #1 reason why gaining excessive fat as an athlete is something you want to avoid.

Consider what Lyle says about body fat on Pages 8-9 of The Stubborn Fat Solution.

“There’s an old (and incorrect) idea that adult humans don’t make new fat cells.  That is, and I’ll discuss this more in a bit, you get born wit a certain number of fat cells and you may develop more at puberty or during pregnancy but that’s it; your body doesn’t make new fat cells.  Everything in that sentence is true except the last statement; even non-pregnant adults can make new fat cells.

Usually this happens when the fat cells you have reach a certain size; that is, they are as full as they can physically be.  When this occurs, the actual stretching of the fat cell stimulates the release of factors, such as Angiotensin II, prostacylin and others, which ‘tell’ the body to make new fat cells.

Unfortunately, getting rid of fat cells is nearly (but not completely) impossible.

If there is a single reason for athletes not to get too fat in the first place, this is probably it: if your fat cells get too big, your body will make new ones.  And it’s nearly impossible to get rid of the new ones.  If you are a lean athlete looking to gain weight (and realizing you must gain some body fat to do it effectively), you should keep a lid on that fat gain.  You don’t want to stimulate your body to make new fat cells.”

Your Key Take Away Point:

Your body can and will make new fat cells at any age. It’s nearly impossible to get rid of them (short of liposuction: gives credence to that practice in some ways). You can shrink them but the goal is, not to make them in the first place.  So you bulkers and gainers, monitor your progress!  Adding 10% body fat is NOT the goal!

Marc David
“The NoBull Muscle Guy”
www.nobullbodybuilding.com

How Supermodels Keep Their Looks

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Ever wonder how some supermodels can keep their shape all year?  There’s lots of theories.  From hard work to plastic surgery to fad diets, not eating and crazy herbal supplements.  Maybe it’s a little bit of all of that and then some.  Who knows.  But what I do know is that supermodels don’t drink these shakes.

Ordered by Calories:

5.  Baskin-Robbins Berry Pomegranate Banana Fruit Blast Smoothie (large)

  • 1,020 calories
  • 1.5 grams of fat
  • 232 grams of sugar

You gotta wonder if they put Pomegranate in there for a later marketing ploy to say it’s healthy because of the anti-oxidant properties.  Just my guess.

4.  Cosi Gigante Double OHI Arctic

  • 1,033 calories
  • 35 grams of fat
  • 177 grams of carbs (I’d guess mostly simple sugars)

3.  Jama Juice Peanut Butter Moo’d Power Smoothie

  • 1,170 calories
  • 30 grams of fat
  • 169 grams of sugar

2.  Baskin-Robbins York Peppermint Pattie Shake (large)

  • 2,210 calories
  • 103 grams of fat (57 saturated)
  • 281 grams of sugar

1.  Baskin-Robbins Heath Shake (large)

  • 2,310 calories
  • 108 grams of fat (64 saturated)
  • 266 grams of sugar

Source: Muscle & Fitness, March 2009; p.54

Should companies be allowed to produce such utter crap?  I understand the freedom of choice but ONLY if the person choosing has a clear understanding.

My point is… if you told somebody you were going to get one of these shakes, they might know it’s “bad” for you but what they may not know is just how bad or that 75% of your daily calories are being consumed in a liquid form.  You might know it’s not good for you but many people don’t know the degrees of bad.

It would be unfair to leave you without a good shake solution so here’s just one of my favorites that I think tastes really good, nice chocolate flavor and icy.

So here’s my alternative to any of the above options…

Chocolate Almond Mocha Blast

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup fat-free milk
  • 1 level tablespoon instant coffee
  • 10 unsalted almonds
  • 1 tablespoon lecithin granules
  • 2 packets (2 grams) stevia or other sugar alternative
  • 1 cup crushed ice or 6-8 ice cubes
  • 2 level scoops chocolate whey protein powder (or your favorite flavor)

How to Make It:

Step 1: Put everything except the ice and protein powder into a blender.  Blend on high until fully mixed.

Step 2: With the blender on medium, add the ice and protein powder.  Blend on high until fully mixed.

Makes 1 Serving….

Nutritional Facts for the Chocolate Almond Mocha Blast

Per serving: 393 calories, 47 g protein, 24 g carbohydrates, 10 g total fat, 1.5 g saturated fat, 2 g fiber, 55 mg sodium

If you want other alternatives to the above and some really good bodybuilding meals, weight gain shakes and healthy meals that are super easy to make… I would recommend you take a look at this book.

Men’s Health Total Fitness Guide 2008 Muscle Chow

Before I found Muscle Chow, I kinda went from website recipe to website recipe. Or to overly complicated cookbooks that were not for bodybuilders trying to get lean or build muscle. Greg Avedon nailed it with this and wrote to the married guy or single guy who can’t cook but wants to cook something in order to build muscle. It was so incredibly simple to follow. I am not a cook or chef by any means. My biggest accomplishment was grilled chicken and burgers. This is so stinking simple to use. It doesn’t have a ton of ingredients and you’ll find that many of the recipes use the same foundations. Meaning, less big trips to the store. Many of them are only 4 steps. They taste great and are low in fat and sodium. Perfect for that lean look. Nutrition is 80% bodybuilding as Vince Gironda once said. Armed with this, I cannot go wrong. Awesome book. Changed my life in the kitchen.  Check out Muscle Chow.

To Your Health,

Marc David
“The NoBull Muscle Guy”
www.nobullbodybuilding.com

Secrets to Award Winning Physiques Revealed

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No Shortcuts to Your Physique

Do you wish you could build muscle quickly without having to put in the hard work?  Are you short on time but want the results?  If so, lump yourself in with the majority

Today I received the following from somebody I’d consider very typical when it comes to fitness.

I don’t have time to read your book because I am very busy with my work. I ask you to give me medicine to increase my muscles. - Name Withheld

And that’s just the beginning.  But in order to make this short and sweet, I’ll divvy out the solution.  It’s worked for me, it’s worked for thousands before and and it will work for thousands after me.  This solution will work for any human being regardless of race, gender or political preference.

THE SOLUTION:

  1. Hard Work
  2. Consistency
  3. Time

Without going into the complex details of training variety, periodization, zig-zag nutrition manipulation, rest periods, number of sets, etc… these 3 fundamentals are common among anybody that I’ve ever know in my entire 17 years of natural bodybuilding.

These are also the same things that happen when somebody is overweight.  It’s not like you put on 100 lbs of extra weight overnight right?  It was work, consistenly, over a long period of time.  If you only gain 10 lbs a year, in 4 years of a desk job, you’ve now got 40 lbs of extra weight and that’s pretty damn significant!

These concepts go both ways.  It’s how you change your physique.

THE BREAKDOWN:

  • Every person who’s changed their physique put forth significant effort.
  • Every person did so with consistency (they kept at it).
  • Every person gave it more than 8 months.

I can’t tell you how many times somebody will write to me with a detailed nutritional plan and training program and the very last sentence goes like… “I’ve done this for 8 weeks, non-stop and to the letter and I’m not seeing significant results!”

If you’ve tried your routine for the average lifespan of a Coral Reef Golby and are about to throw in the towel becuase you aren’t seeing results, keep in mind it takes YEARS to see incredible results and months to see significant results.

For most people, 6 months is a good time frame if you are doing the above 3 things to see some fair results of your work.  Your body doesn’t change overnight.  Well it does but not things you can see.

Take a chill pill my friend.  If you cannot devote the time now, then at least make two promises to yourself until work settles down.

Promise #1:

I will eat the best healthy breakfast I can that’s sustaining for my day.

Promise #2:

I will make it a point to get up from my desk or take a break and move about during the day.

Promise #3:

I’ll drink more water.

You know, if you can just do those 3 things now, it’s better than looking for shortcuts to building muscle when none exist.  It will end your frustration, you’ll be better off for it now and when you get the time to put forth the effort, you’ll be in a mental mindset to do the right thing.

Until then, nothing is worse than dreaming of becoming somebody with a physique you could have and then never putting forth the effort required to do so.  You’ll never reach your goal and the mental anguish is excruciating.

Marc David
“The NoBull Muscle Guy”
www.nobullbodybuilding.com

Weight Gain Tips You Should Never Follow

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Stupid Weight Gain Tips

Do you find yourself wanting to gain weight but frustrated with how to do it?  If you’ve ever been a hardgainer, a skinny guy or gal and wanted to pack on the muscle, there’s things you can do that will get you to your goal.  But there’s plenty of awful advice being given.  It seems like a common sense thing but to those who are desperate to pack on the pounds, at the time it seems like okay advice.  Then you step back, get some perspective and some education and it’s like a Homer Simpson “doh!”  The light comes on and you realize how bad the advice was and that it just set you back even further.

Before I start off the Top 10 list, I want to make it clear that it’s not my intention to only point out the mistakes and then offer up no solutions.  Too many times when I’m in the gym, I hear somebody telling their buddy “Shame on you,” or “That’s why you aren’t able to gain weight,” or “Don’t do it like that!,” and then they offer up nothing as a solution.  I’m going to spend 1% on the mistake but I want to spend 99% of my time on the solution to this bad advice so you can learn as quickly as possible what to do without wasting any more time.  I’ll offer up the weight gain tip mistake and follow it up with a better solution to the problem.

When you are trying to gain weight it usually starts off with a question like this…

Anyone have any “home remedies” or suggestions that can help me put on a few pounds?

And then the bad advice flows like the water thru a huge crack in a dam.

I laughed so hard I nearly peed my pants when I read a Best Answer on Yahoo Answers to a common weight gain question.

“If you want to gain a lot of weight, you should eat a lot of junky foods. (Chips, cakes, candy, cookies, etc.) But if you don’t wanna get super duper fat then you should very rarely swim and jump rope when you are finished eating.”

Read that again folks, this is a common style of answer that gets the BEST VOTE on major network sites with millions of eyes.   Remember that hardgainers, don’t swim much and jump rope after you eat.   I bet that’s how Ronnie Coleman got so huge!  Damn him for not telling us sooner.

Here’s a short list of the Top 10 Stupidest Weight Gain Tips I’ve ever seen.

Weight Gain Tip Mistake #1: Eat Fast Food

By far the most popular piece of advice given to nearly all individuals struggling with weight gain.  The first piece of advice they get is to rush out and start slamming down cheap, low quality foods, including eating butter and drinking vegetable oil!  If a person is “underweight”, they should deny NOTHING and eat EVERYTHING.; McDonalds and KFC included. Does it work?  You bet it does but it’s not the kind of quality weight you want to gain (although some people don’t seem to care what the weight is as long as they gain it which is puzzling) If you are looking to pack on muscle, you can eat a lot but going the fast food route is typical of the lazy bodybuilder.   It’s a low class move that certainly has it’s place in some circles but if you are wondering how to gain weight, learn the right way.  There’s a good list of how to gain weight in six simple steps.  If you eat enough high quality calories, frequently enough, you will put on quality muscle mass in conjunction with weight training.  Eating unhealthy foods will not build muscle quicker.  Take a few minutes to learn the very basics of how to gain weight and avoid the shortcut of eating junk foods and fast foods thinking it somehow is the fast way to build muscle.  It’s not.

Weight Gain Tip Mistake #2: Candy, Candy Candy

In high school I asked the biggest guy in the gym who just stacked the Nautilus bench press how to gain weight.  He looked at me seriously and said, “Eat a Snickers bar.  Eat candy.  Lots of calories.  You’ll gain weight.” Now if he was joking, it didn’t look like it but being desperate and frustrated, I did what he told me.  Every day after gym, I’d eat candy.  Being skinny, I didn’t put on any serious weight but I did get a cavity and I didn’t learn a thing about eating healthy.   The solution for extra calories via snacking would have been healthy fat options like almonds or peanuts.  They can add some serious calories if you need them without the ill effects of just eating junk foods that have empty calories and barely any nutritional value.

Weight Gain Tip Mistake #3: Fruit Juices

Tons of liquid calories and completely processed to it’s lowest form.  Now 100% fruit juice can be healthy without a doubt but drinking liquid calories is going to do literally nothing for serious long term weight gain.  The truth is, it’s a lot of sugar with little value in packing on weight through proteins and starchy carbohydrates.  Drink juice if you want but it’s not a weight gain solution. What you can do as a solution is to make a fruit juice smoothie for extra calories and add in other weight gaining substances like peanut butter, protein powders that will add calories to your overall nutritional plan.  Use this with caution as it’s easy to overeat and anything not utilized, can be stored as fat.  In essence, you can make your own homemade weight gainer at a fraction of the cost.  If you want to know more about making your own supplements, see Homemade Supplement Secrets.

Weight Gain Tip Mistake #4: Accept It, It’s In Your Genes

If you are skinny, count your lucky starts but it’s not in the cards for you to be muscular.  I’ve seen it and heard it as weight gain advice being given.  Beyond genetics, your potential to gain weight can be changed! If you are a skinny guy, it will take some work but you can pack on serious muscle mass.  Starting off in high school, I didn’t weight over 135 lbs on any day.  Now I’m easily at 191 lbs without having to put forth the effort you’d think to maintain the mass.  It was hard work but through proper nutrition, tracking what I ate, knowing how many calories a day to eat, I did pack on lean body mass over a period of 6 month.  It was amazing and all I needed was to avoid the short term solutions in this list and start EATING, eating good foods and eating frequently.  You don’t have to accept it and it is not genetics to be skinny all your life. 99% of skinny, hardgainers truly haven’t tried putting forth the effort.  They quickly buy into the genetics statement and give up.  Start learning how many calories you need and then start eating, taking a cooler to work or whatever to pack in the food.  Forget weight gainers and shakes (they have a purpose) and start eating.

Take this DARE

Step 1: Go to FitDay

Step 2: Input everything you eat for 3 days

Step 3: Evaluate it

For example, you might be shocked to see that you need 3600 calories to gain weight and in reality, you are only eating a mere 1800 and playing 5 hours of basketball.  That’s why you are skinny.  Not genetics.  A little tracking to bring reality into the situation can go a long way to providing you critical insight as to why you aren’t gaining weight.

Weight Gain Tip Mistake #5: Weight Gainer 4000… BEEFCAKE!

Frankly it’s a quick, expensive way to be lazy for those who haven’t invested any time in attempting to consume enough calories.  Weight gainers (Slim Fast Shakes, Ensure) have value, there’s little doubt in my mind but more often than not, the people who use them are under eating to begin with and quickly latch on to what they have been told is a “healthy” way to quickly add the calories they need.  If you are eating enough calories, it’s useful in circumstances to add in thousands of calories that you cannot otherwise get through foods without seriously spending 8 hours a day eating.  For most, they barely eat 3 meals and add in 3 weight gainers and see some results.  But as quickly as the results come, they stop taking it and lose the weight.  Relying on a weight gainer when you are trying to gain weight is a serious mistake.  Once you are eating enough whole foods or if you seriously cannot get the calories you need per day but come close, that’s where a weight gainer makes sense.  But not as an excuse to pack on pounds because packing a lunch and a few snacks is to time consuming.

Weight Gain Tip Mistake #6: Protein Overload

Who hasn’t been told that the only way to gain weight is to increase your protein intake.  Unfortunately, excessive protein is not going to pack on the weight.   Getting enough protein per day as required to build muscle is easy… getting enough calories per day isn’t.  Once your body has enough, protein will be stored as fat (although less likely) or excreted.  Protein sources like chicken, fish and lean red meats don’t have enough calories for most of us skinny people to hit our numbers.  So the old adage to “get your protein” works to some degree but it’s not the ideal food for your calorie requirements.  The solution is to increase your carbohydrates and change your macronutrient ratios to reflect this.  All too often I see a nutrition plan that is 55% protein, 30% carbs and 15% fats.  Once the individual changes it to 55% carbs, 25% protein and 20% fats, it makes a world of difference.  By consuming higher quality carbs like sweet potatoes, oatmeal, yams, whole wheat pastas, whole grain breads and brown rice to name a few, you suddenly up your calorie intake by hundreds and start to gain weight.

Weight Gain Tip Mistake #7: Inadequate Water Consumption

Your body is around 70% water.  All too often, the skinny guy or gal isn’t drinking water.  Not nearly enough and any liquids being consumed are in the form of energy drinks, coffee, shakes or soda.  None of which are actually going to be a replacement for good old, plain water.  In order for your body’s functions to process the protein, foods and to hydrate the cells, you must consume enough water.  Simply by increasing your water intake, you can start to put on weight and not just water weight.  How much water should you drink can be complex or as quick as taking your current body weight, divide that in half and drink that much in ounces per day.

Weight Gain Tip Mistake #8: Spouting High Calorie Requirements

Oh you are skinny?  You need to eat 3600 calories per day.  Huh?  You know nothing about this person, their age, their current weight, their body composition and yet you toss down a number as if 3600 is the magic number of skinny people to gain weight?  If you go from 1800 calories a day to some number that’s too high, you’ll find it nearly impossible to eat that much food if you are not used to it and anything in excessive can be stored as fat.  The solution is simple.  Figure out roughly how many calories a day you need to eat now, to gain weight and when you start gaining weight, adjust that on a weekly or monthly basis given your new body composition.  Just eating a ton of food, randomly without any reference point will either lead to excessive fat gains and/or a total abandonment of the process when you start to hate eating that much food in one sitting without having the body mass or the activity levels to support it.

Just because Michael Phelps can eat an entire menu for breakfast doesn’t mean you can or should given that you don’t swim 5-6 hours a day and aren’t an Olympic level athlete.  Eat based on your needs and your goals, not some fake numbers or how somebody who clearly isn’t you, eats.  Make eating personal.

Weight Gain Tip Mistake #9: Train Like An Bull, Eat Like a Flea

The smallest guy at my gym that easily does 23 pull-ups and trains like an animal, couldn’t tell me what he ate for breakfast but when directly asked, he gave the typical skinny guy response.  “I eat a lot.” Like what I asked.  He looked puzzled.  I told him to take the Dare in Tip #4 above.  When I saw him again, 1 day later and asked, he said he’d get to it later that week.  That’s why he’s skinny and can’t gain weight.  He trains hard and trains consistently but the other 23 hours of the day, who knows.  He doesn’t even know.  His nutrition doesn’t support his weight training endeavors to pack on mass.  Vince Gironda once said that bodybuilding is 80% nutrition.  That means, you can have a pretty lousy weight training routine and if you eat properly and eat enough, you’ll look very good.  But in most cases, people train hard and then fail to support the training they just did through proper nutrition and with enough calories.  Are you one of those people?  You train hard but totally fail when it comes to nutrition?  You grow when you are out of the gym.  You spend 1 hour training and the other 23 hours recovering and supporting that growth thru nutrition.  It’s important!  If you train like an animal and eat like a flea, correct that ASAP and you’ll see some immediately gains in weight and muscle mass.

Weight Gain Tip Mistake #10: Not Eating Enough

By far the most common weight gain mistake and the best weight gain tips of them all.  Eat but don’t just eat anything and everything in site.  No drinking vegetable oil or eating butter.  Gaining weight is about eating just a little more calories than you currently need to maintain your current weight over a pro-longed period of time to put on mass slowly.  Rapid weight gain is not only hard on the heart and other organs but it usually leads to excessive body fat increases.  Taking the time to calculate your calories, eat frequently during the day and engaging in a proper weight training routine is all it takes to start seeing results.  Most skinny individuals truly believe they have tried everything to gain weight when in fact they have skipped the most important steps to weight gain.

#1: Calculating your daily calorie requirements

#2: Tracking what you eat

Just eating or guessing is a surefire way to stay skinny. It takes effort and some simple calculations but soon enough you will be putting on weight.  Short of a medical issue or some other rare, unforeseen problem, there’s no reason why you are any different from the rest of us skinny guys who learned how to gain weight by using some common sense weight gain tips.  Don’t follow the advice that preaches shortcuts.  I’ve tired them all (except the vegetable oil) and none of them worked for me in the long term.

If you want more weight gain tips and advice on how to build muscle, head over and grab your copy of the “19 Tips to Build 5 Pounds of Muscle in 30 Days.”

Until next time, I hope you are eating!

Marc David
“The NoBull Muscle Guy”
www.nobullbodybuilding.com

How to Build Muscle Size and Strength Fast Using “Death Sets”

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Photo Credit: Estherase

This article was submitted by Derek Manuel, owner of Hardgainers Weight Tips.  See Hardgainers Weight Tips for more information on packing on quality muscle mass without the fat.

If you really want to know how to build muscle size and strength as fast as humanly possible, study the old-timers. Long before steroids and the BILLION dollar supplement industry, there was a time when men trained with nothing but heavy iron and a grueling will to build size and strength. One very distinguishing factor between strength trainers and bodybuilders of yesterday and today was the intensity of their training.

One training technique they used that is very rare to see today is something called “Death Sets.” By the name alone, you can tell they definitely aren’t a walk in the park. But what they give you is results. Real results, and faster then any supplement or home gym can promise. In fact, applied properly with the right food to eat to build muscles, they can very well be the fasted way to build muscle and gain weight.

I had first read about death sets in a one of the greatest books ever written on strength training, Dinosaur Training, by a man named Brooks D. Kubik. If you are a hardgainer, or someone really serious about training for strength and size, then death sets can and will slap more pounds of muscle and strength on your frame then practically any other way of training. They are perhaps the most intense type of training you may ever do, but like I said, the results you get will be like nothing else. So if you really, really want to learn how to build muscle size and strength faster then ever before, and aren’t afraid of some hard work, these are for you.

So what exactly are death sets and how do you do them? Death sets were properly named because they trigger what Kubik calls the “Grow or Die” mechanism. Unlike conventional training, they really work you closer to your absolute limit like nothing else. Basically, death sets are heavy, high rep training. Sounds like a paradox, doesn’t it? Normally, you either train with heavy weight and low reps, or with lighter weight and high reps. So how in the world do you train with heavy weight and still do a high amount of reps? Two factors: certain compound exercises and mental toughness. Death sets are not meant for your smaller muscle groups like arms or neck, but rather for the big muscle groups such as your legs and lower back.

Though you can apply death sets with most larger muscle groups, performing squats or deadlifts with them are by far the most grueling, but effective. Since our legs can withstand much more physical endurance then the rest of our body, (given that we walk and stand on them all day long) it is very hard to reach their limit. And your body will do everything it can to get your mind to quit before your body. But you have to train your mind to withstand pain and accomplish your goal. Even though squats and deadlifts are known as mainly leg exercises, you can no doubt expect your whole body to grow. The intensity will include your whole body to come into action, and as a result the rest of your muscles will benefit, especially doing stiff-legged deadlifts.

Some examples of death sets are 15, 20 and even up to 30 reps of squats or deadlifts, but with HEAVY weight. Heavy enough to where you feel finished at the tenth rep. But this is where your will power and focus come into play. This is a good test of your mental strength, because as soon as you even think about quitting or giving up, your body will do it. This is why it is so important to mentally prep yourself before the set, and to stay in that animal instinct throughout the whole set.

The good news is that you only have to do one of these sets per exercise, two at the maximum. But after you are finished you will feel completely wiped out. You may throw up or feel like passing out, but as long as you complete the set and make sure to nourish your body after with plenty of good food and rest, your body will grow. You certainly won’t grow overnight, this is at least a two month process; but if you work hard enough and build up to heavy enough weight, your body will literally transform. Your mental toughness will also develop and you will eventually become as tough as nails both physically and mentally. Now that’s a true strength trainer!

So if you got the guts, give these a try, but remember not to do too many other exercises in your program along with them. You can very easily overtrain with these, especially if you are a hardgainer. Just a couple other major compound exercises for your upper body should be plenty, and don’t neglect proper nutrition and plenty of rest or you will be completely wasting your time and effort. This is perhaps the best way on how to build muscle size and strength fast.

This article was submitted by Derek Manuel, owner of Hardgainers Weight Tips.  See Hardgainers Weight Tips for more information on packing on quality muscle mass without the fat.

How to Gain Weight in 6 Simple Steps

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Here’s 6 simple ways on how to gain weight without getting fat. When I started I was 150 lbs at best before I got serious about weight gain. In just under 5 months, I put on 30 lbs of lean body mass and am able to maintain 190 lbs . Here’s the overview in a nutshell of:

How to Gain WeightHow to gain weight in six simple steps

Tip 1: Eating Enough Quality Calories

Have you ever asked somebody who’s trying to gain weight what they eat?

I did. And the response I received was shocking.

“I just eat.”

That’s what he said. I just eat.

You MUST know how many calories a day you need for your weight gain goal.

This person desperately wanted to gain weight and every time I saw him the gym he had some excuse as to why it wasn’t going his way. And it was usually related to his metabolism.

Let me tell you…

If you want to gain quality weight, you have to eat high quality dense foods and ENOUGH of them. Furthermore… if you want to gain weight without getting fat, then you bulk with the same principles as if you were on a cutting diet. Choose higher-calorie foods when given a choice.

Photo by: Side Salad

In my years of experience, when I bulked up and gained weight and fat, the biggest mistake I made was not tracking what I ate. I always tracked my diet when I was on a calorie restricted phase (that was a given) but when I wanted to gain weight I just ate everything I could.

Have you ever felt that way?

In order to gain weight, you need to eat more than your usual maintenance calorie intake but not so much as to just store the excess calories and get fat. And you need to eat consistently.

That should have been your “ah -ha” moment.

Gaining weight isn’t your cue to eat everything under the sun. In order to gain weight, lean mass and not get fat, you need to eat just over what you body needs to maintain. In this manner, you’ll provide your body with all the calories it needs to build muscle but you won’t give it so much as it stores the excess as fat.

[ Remember that anything in excess, even protein, can be stored as fat. ]

The key is to gain healthy weight and minimize the fat gains.

Tip 2: Grocery Shopping 101

If you are looking to gain weight, then don’t have bare cupboards. Go to your kitchen right now after reading this section and take a look at what you’ve got in stock.

Make sure your kitchen is fully stocked with the foods you need to eat. Dense foods work wonders for putting on the weight.

Examples are whole-grain breads, vegetables such as avocados and potatoes, kidney beans, lean red meat, poultry and fish.

Bare cupboards = no weight gain!

Bodybuilding doesn’t have to break the bank. Many times you can get bulk items for much cheaper than you think. Packages of tuna, turkey, chicken legs, pasta all are great bulking items that don’t cost a ton of money.

Perishable items like fruits and sugary laden items and condiments are usually things that cost the most.

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