You may not have noticed this, but the bodybuilding culture tends to attract some… Intense personalities. Along with those personalities come some intense ideas. The good news is that the vast majority of the population doesn’t quite need to be so intense to get the gains they are after though. They want to be strong, look good, and then go about their life. They are fine with sacrificing the extra 10% of the gains that come with living a life devoted solely to the iron.
I’ve been lifting since right about the year 2000. The internet lifting culture was just getting started and only had a few sources of information. Certainly not the hundreds of blogs, youtubers, and websites that are out there now.
By and large the information coming from those sources was information that was coming from actual, real life bodybuilders. People that were after maximum muscularity, skin erasing conditioning levels, and complete development at the expense of all else… even their health if need be.
These weren’t the kind of people who wanted to be big, lean AND be able to come in first at a tough mudder on a whim. They only cared about the first two.
Needless to say the methods coming out of that culture were a bit extreme, and while they certainly work and optimize the pursuit of being big and lean, they are a bit suffocating to the average person looking to get bigger, leaner, stronger, and be ready for a day at the beach without a 3 month notice to “contest prep”
The practices from back then are what are now known as the standard body building advice. Everyone knows it… Stuff like:
- Eat every 3 hours or else
- Rice/broccoli/chicken all day, e’ry day
- pre breakfast, low intensity cardio
- One body part a day, train each body part once a week
Enter The Internet Explosion
Once the internet got it hands on the fitness culture all of these practices got put under a microscope and really tested out by a huge number of people. There is little doubt that these practices work, and work well… But do you need to get quite so specific, intense, and narrow to get the results most people are after? Probably not it turns out
So what can we glean from the last 15 years of internet fueled nutritional experimentation? Lets take a look
What to Eat
Chicken, rice, broccoli. The standard body building diet is so cliched that its almost an SNL joke at this point. Its just what you ate back then… and everyone was happy to do it because it worked very well for building a muscular, lean physique.
Naturally when you start to include millions of people in on the pursuit, the limiting food choices are going to be the first thing on the chopping block.
Suffice to say that now there are more books and websites devoted to tasty food that also helps you achieve your physique goals than ever before. It turns out you really dont need to live off of the same few foods to have a respectable physique.
Not only that, the success of diet strategies like Keto, Paleo, and a host of others have expanded the food choices for people so that no matter your unique biology you should be able to find something that you can eat on a regular basis and still get your gains on.
Bottom line is that while the old school diet works great, there are plenty of other options available to the lifter now a days that don’t require the severe limitations and monotony of the old timers diet. You can literally have your cake and eat it too… just not every day.
When and How Often To Eat
While the standard bodybuilding advice was to eat every 3 hours on-the-dot or else your muscle tissue will surely wither into naught but single strands of fibers, the real world evidence is a bit more forgiving.
The rise and popularity of things like Lean Gains intermittent fasting, the warrior diet, alternate day fasting show us that you can in fact go more than 3 hours without eating. Hell, you can go a whole day without eating and it won’t really have a noticeable effect on your gains.
I remember being obsessed with eating every 3 hours. I used to take protein shakes to Disneyland with my girlfriend at the time. Turns out I could have just eaten a nice, big breakfast and had lunch and dinner like a normal person and I would have been just fine.
That isn’t to say that eating frequently doesn’t have benefits or optimize the process, and I think all things being equal it probably is the best way to go about it, but the evidence is clearly in that you won’t be wasting your time in the gym if you occasionally go 6 hours instead of 3.
So if you find yourself on hour number 3 and it doesnt look like you can eat again for a few hours… Breath easy knowing you arent going to arrive to dinner looking like Christian Bale in The Machinist.
Where to Begin
The road to begin on has never been easier to walk than it is now. There is such a vast amount of information out there though that it can be hard to figure out where to start. If you wan to cut down on the you might waste figuring this stuff out on your own, look not further than this page for your resources.
Not only do we post articles every week, but we have books available that can shrink the learning curve down to a few weeks or months, instead of the years that we put into this.
If that sounds like something you would be interested in, here is a good place to start.