How I Got My Bodybuilding Body Back
Strategy #1: Being Consistent with My Nutrition
If you are someone who wants to maximize your muscle, you have to look beyond just your training. For 99% of you reading this, that wasn’t exactly breaking news. But there is well over 50% of you that aren’t executing…and it’s that which is holding you back from your fullest potential. I don’t care HOW great your training is, if your feeding habits aren’t on par with your goals, you are detracting from the way that you want to look…and feel.
I've been up and down a lot of roads with my diet. And even though I look at my body as a science lab (constantly experimenting with different training, nutrition, and supplements), when I look back at it all, there is one criteria that separates my efforts and my success. That is...
Desire to change. Desire to be better. Desire to sacrifice. Desire to do more than you're doing right now. Fact is...
If you want to build quality muscle and look extraordinary, you’re going to have to eat quality foods and eat them in an extraordinary way.
Now your definition of "extraordinary" may be different than mine. What you are about to read is a piece of my journey back to achieving a physique that was once considered one of the best drug-free competitive physiques in the country.
My Moment of Reawakening
When I moved to Nashville, I was awarded an opportunity to re-calibrate my life. No longer did I have to live on 4 hours sleep each night, do 6-8 hours of straight clients without barely enough time for a bathroom break, never mind an eating break. I have walked through the trenches, know what it takes to succeed, learned from past mistakes, and was in a position to start a new business under better parameters…and still be a success. Part of this was making sure that I get enough rest as well as making the time to feed myself. That means being able to eat AT LEAST 5-6 times a day, once every 3-4 hours.
If you are someone who wants to build as much lean muscle tissue as possible, you are going to adhere to that, too. That is what it is going to take to be your absolute best.
The name of the game is maximizing Protein Synthesis.
And eating CONSISTENTLY is key!!!
My Journey Into Intermittent Fasting
I’ve done intermittent fasting (IF) and found it to be horrible for muscle building. I know there are plenty of people out there that love it and will site study after study. I've seen them. Save your breath.
Yes, you can build a fairly fit physique with intermittent fasting. But not an extraordinary one. I'm talking about a build that will turn heads even when in a snowsuit. Big arms, broad shoulders, V-tapered back, big barrel chest, and sweeping thighs. As I stated above, building muscle (especially doing so drug-free) takes doing everything you can to maximize your body's protein synthesis cycles. That means getting frequent feedings of protein. This isn't about the minimum needed to not go catabolic. That last statement is important...because that is what most studies of IF really show. This is about TAKING ADVANTAGE OF EVERY SECOND THE BODY HAS THE ABILITY TO BE ANABOLIC!
IF does not allow for that. To me, IF is good for those that can't be bothered with meal prep, don't have the time, don't have a desire to eat more, or think the food and supplement industry is a big scam trying to make us buy more of their products. I do believe that there are all sorts of different bodies and metabolisms out there. And some of them will benefit from IF. I also believe that they would make better progress if they paid attention to more of their protein synthesis cycles. It's my opinion that those IFers that supplement with Amino Acids/BCAAs throughout their fasting periods do much better.
NOTE: I do think a periodic intermittent fast can be beneficial (I am now experimenting with doing so after my cheat day to give my GI tract a break and better my insulin sensitivity). But doing so on a daily basis or too frequently is not a great way to maximize muscle.
I Did Low Carb and Keto Diets.
Then Why Stop?
One of the easiest ways to eat is Low-Carb and Keto-Diets. Don't confuse the two, though. Keto is a HIGH FAT diet. Low Carb tends to be high protein. For the record...Keto Diets are a lot more fun :)
The reason they are easy, as opposed to a low-fat diet, is that you can pretty much find anything to eat just about anywhere. Social gatherings are a lot more fun. Heck...I loved going out and getting a thick, juicy steak with a side of broccoli and a slab of butter on it. How great is it that you can eat that and still know that you are in your fat burning zone?!?!
So why did I stop?
To answer that, I first should mention why I started in the first place. During this time, I was having a hard time with my meal prep and getting meals in. And with that, my diet started to get a little sloppy. I started to gain weight (I got up to 236 lbs at one point), saw some man boobs developing, felt sluggish, and was generally unhappy. So I flipped to Keto eating and instantly...
- my energy was through the roof,
- I started to lean up again (dropped to 219 almost instantly and ultimately got back down to 196 lbs),
- my hunger and blood sugar were well under control,
- and to top that all off, my cholesterol dropped 40 points during this time and my blood pressure normalized.
I was back to great health and feeling good.
Sounds great...right? It was! And I would go back to that eating in a heartbeat.
But why did I stop? Well, I found my physique wasn't quite the same. Muscle never felt "full" like in my competitive bodybuilding days. I had zero hint of any vascularity. And, although my strength was decent, it paled in comparison to years previous and I rarely got the "pump" that I used to.
I wanted all of that back. And that called for inducing some glycogen back into my system. When I moved to Nashville, I got some rest during my transition, and my schedule changed for the better...I was now itching and ready to get by bodybuilding body back!
A Look Back So I Can Move Forward
The time was right and my desire was high to get back to where I used to be. That meant consistently creating an ideal environment for my body to build muscle and burn fat. Looking back to a time when I was on top of my game, I saw a nutrition plan that had:
- a heavy emphasis on quality protein (30-40 grams/feeding)
- a moderate ingestion of quality carbs (20-30 grams at carb meals)
- a moderate amount of essential fats (15-20 grams within fat meals)
- frequent feedings (averaging 6 per day)
- meal combinations (proteins + fat or protein + carbs)
- taking advantage of nutrient timing (pre, intra, and post-workout)
- and making the time to eat (not missing any meals)
Now before you read the above and think I’m able to do this because I'm not working as much…believe me when I say I’m still super busy! I’ve just structured it differently. Even in doing so, getting all of my feedings in would be next to impossible without using a quality meal replacement shake. I average 2-3 of these a day, usually between real food meals.
But this post is not about trying to sell you on using protein supplements. If you get anything from this, it should be this…IF YOU WANT TO BUILD QUALITY MUSCLE, YOU ABSOLUTELY HAVE TO PUT A HIGH PRIORITY ON ESTABLISHING CONSISTENT EATING HABITS. What do you think your body would feel like if you put in 6 days of perfect eating in a single week (plus a 7th day for a “reward” meal)? What do you think your body would LOOK like after 24+ days of perfect eating in a month? Now…how about a year? You have NO IDEA how amazing you could look!!!
Stay tuned for Strategy #2: My HEAVY Emphasis on Quality Protein.
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