Pillar #4 – Eat to Match Your Goals
One of the biggest mistakes inexperienced lifters make is the neglecting of nutrition. The human body is like any other high performance machine. It requires a quality fuel source to perform at its peak.
To maximize the muscle building process, you must maximize your nutrition. If you neglect your diet you will limit your results.
Eating “healthy” is not good enough. Guessing how many calories or grams of protein you eat per day is not good enough. You will need to have some reasonable grasp of calorie and protein intake.
Over the years I’ve heard the following comment hundreds of times: “I am eating healthy but not making any muscle or strength gains.” The problem with eating healthy is twofold:
- First, the concept of “eating healthy” means different things to different people. To some folks it means eating low fat, and for some folks it means eating reduced calories. “Eating healthy” is a worthless phrase because it is vague, and means different things to different people.
- Eating healthy is not the same as eating optimally to maximize the muscle building process.
Eating has become so complicated. The average skinny guy has become so afraid of gaining fat that they tend to eat far less than they should. No wonder why progress comes slowly.
On the other side of the fence, you have the average overweight 20-something. These guys are convinced that they need a radical or extreme dieting approach when all they really need is to stop eating junk and processed foods.
Eating is not rocket surgery. If you weigh 130 pounds and have the goal of being a muscular 200 pounds, you need to eat more food. If you weigh 240 pounds and have the goal of being a muscular 200 pounds, you need to start by making better food choices.
If you are thin, stop worrying that eating more clean food will turn you into a sumo wrestler. It won’t. Individuals who gain a substantial amount of extra fat have to work hard at it. They overeat crap and processed foods (and drinks) day in and day out for many, many years.
A little extra healthy food will allow you to build and get stronger. Will you gain some fat? Possibly, but if so, not much. During my prime gaining years I added 35 pounds to my frame. About 30 of that was muscle.
I went from a skinny-fat 150 to an impressively muscular 185. Despite adding this trivial amount of fat, I actually looked 10 times better.
The average skinny guy will only focus on the 5 extra pounds of fat I gained. He can’t picture what the addition of muscle will do to his body. This “hardgainer” fears a fat gain so much that he undereats and wastes time in the gym, never reaching his goals.
If you are overweight, your first goal should be to eat better. Drop the cookies, chips and sugary drinks. You didn’t gain fat because you were overeating steak and apples.
Don’t rush out to starve yourself. Eat better, start to lift, do a little cardio and see what happens. Reduce calories slightly (SLIGHTLY), or clean up your diet even more if the scale isn’t moving.
Regardless of your goals, focus on good nutrition and be patient. Remember you are enterting into a new lifestyle. Change will take time. Eat in a manner that is aligned with your new goals.