How Many Calories Should I Eat?

WELL I AM STUFFED

If eating were a sport, which it is, I would be the King. Not to brag, but I can put it away when it comes to food. Where does it all go? Nobody knows.

My workouts were giving me a perfectly good excuse to eat tons of food. That’s what you’re supposed to do right? You workout hard, you eat lots of food to make up for it. So that’s what I was doing!

How Many Calories Should I Eat?
Although I am a man, this is an accurate representation of my eating.

Pounds of chicken, cups of rice, and don’t get me started on the protein shakes. My stomach was definitely happy and content; there was just one problem…

The Scale Is a Jack Wagon!

This scale is obviously defective (that’s what I get for getting a scale from the bargain bin!). There is no way that I way this much after altering my diet for my fitness goals. How in the holy-Chuck-Norris did I gain 10 pounds in one week?

I’ve always read about how body builders will eat between 5,000-8,000 calories in one day. I’m barely eating about 4,000 and I’m about to have panic attack staring at this off-brand scale of mine. Someone’s playing a joke on me. It’s always been said that when you workout hard, you eat hard, right?

So Then How Did I Put on So Much Weight?

It’s hard for me to move upstairs, I get winded bringing in the groceries, and I’m looking a little rounder around the edges. That’s not supposed to happen! I’ve been pushing myself in the gym relentlessly. I mean honestly, I don’t spend a day without feeling sore. My lifts are getting heavier, my form is getting  better, but my body is getting thicker.

As stated above: it’s always been a known consensus that when you work out hard, you’re supposed to eat more. That’s what I did! Where did I go wrong?

How Many Calories Should I Eat?
This is a bunch of b-o-l-o-g-n-a!

THE SCALE ISN’T WRONG

My biggest mistake was blaming the scale instead of accepting that I had made a mistake on my own free will. The scale doesn’t lie, people. That’s just a cold hard fact. The scale can either be your best friend or a cruel mistress, but she doesn’t lie.

My mistake, and maybe yours since you’re reading this, is that I didn’t research anything in regards to how much I should actually be eating. I had always assumed from body building magazines that I was supposed to eat as much food as I could get my hands on, but that simple wasn’t the case.

You Can’t Just Eat What You Want

Read that title again, “You can’t just eat what you want.” Eating what you want can land you into some serious trouble when it comes to your health.

If you’re eating too much protein, you would be seriously damaging your heart or your liver. If you’ve eating too many fats, you could be causing problems to your heart while also adding on a few extra pounds in the process. Add these two issues together, and you could cause serious issues like heart disease and diabetes to your body with constant abuse.

Sounds scary, doesn’t it? It could be easily avoidable.

How Many Calories Should I Eat?

Well, that’s sort of hard to answer when I don’t know you personally, dear reader. That question can only be answered through research, trial and error.

Everybody is different, and everybody reacts differently to their training session. With that being said, research should definitely be completed before anybody takes on a diet plan. When researching, check out how much the average person with your gender, height, and age requires in calorie consumption to function. From there you should be able to calculate in respect to both your workout and daily activities to accurately create an appropriate calorie count.

IN CONCLUSION

Eating the appropriate amount of food and calories is essential in reaching your workout goals. A body that is not used to working out or doesn’t have a lot of muscle does not require an extreme amount of calories in the beginning phases of a workout program. In retrospect, someone who already has a decent amount of muscle on their body and trains regularly could eat a high concentration of calories more consistently.

How Many Calories Should I Eat?
Eating smarter means eating happier!

You know what you should do to avoid all of this nonsense, and start your workout and diet training the right way?

Do your research, get prepared, and get lifting!

Are Carbs Bad for Leaning Out?

One of the most frequently asked questions when someone is looking to lean is, “Are carbs bad for my lean out diet?”. The answer varies, but a simple answer is no.

To blatantly declare one of the essential macro nutrients as “bad” for a diet plan is just wrong.

Yes, if you consume too many calorie dense carbs in a lean out program, you’re going to gain fat. Yes, by going on a low-carb diet, you will lose weight faster. However, before you make any rash decisions, let’s see why carbohydrates are so important for both a diet and workout for any stage of lifting.

THE DIET

Carbs are an essential fuel source for your muscles. Eating a sufficient amount of carbohydrates on any diet allows the body to store enough glycogen to fuel muscle repair. If your carbohydrate intake gets too low, your glycogen level also gets too low. When your glycogen level gets too low, your body looks for other sources to fuel the repairs (like vital protein and muscle mass).

See the vicious circle here?

If you’re looking for great foods to stick to when looking for clean carbs, check out these great options!

Food Tips

  • Quinoa
  • Fruit
  • Green Veggies
  • Oatmeal
  • Brown Rice

THE WORKOUT

Just in case I didn’t say it enough before, carbs = fuel for your body. Here is a simple summary of how carb function works:

Carbohydrates are broken down and enter then bloodstream. From there they increase the the level of sugar in the bloodstream, also known as your blood sugar level. The more carbs you intake, the more your blood sugar level rises. The increase in blood sugar launches the hormone insulin to strain the excess sugar out of the bloodstream and into your muscles.

If you eat more carbohydrates than your body is using as fuel, the excess is stored in your body as fat (yes, fat). Looking for a great way to use all those excess carbs?

Training Tips

  • Work on your strength training, this forces your body to utilize more carbohydrates.
  • Practice good lifting habits, again this will ensure you’re using the right amount of carbs.
  • And….nope that’s about all I got.

IN CONCLUSION

Are carbohydrates bad for your lean out diet? Just like eating a thousand candy bars can give you diabetes and a wicked case of sugar high, carbohydrates in excess can be bad for you.

However! Ensuring you’re putting in the proper training and lifting habits will utilize your carb source to the fullest, and prevent the excess fat gains.

Do your research, get prepared, and get lifting!

Carbohydrates
Mmmmmm, carbs….

Fast Food for Muscle Gains

That’s right, the above title is correct, this blog is about fast food that can be eaten to gain muscle!

(Ah, I can smell the fried chicken now!)

Bodybuilders and people looking to gain muscle generally never look towards fast food as a viable option to gain muscle. In fact, fast food is widely considered poison for gains (Oh no! Not the Fat Fairy!). Truth be told, fast food restaurants can actually be more than just a cheat meal if you’re looking to make extra gains.

Let me show you how you can still keep your Big Mac game strong while packing on that muscle.

McDONALD’S

Though McDonald’s is widely considered a sin in the health community, the fast food chain has made strides towards healthy food options that are stuffed with protein and fiber. These options can be an easy go-to for anyone who is short on time or is just too lazy to go make their meal. Skip over the chicken nuggets and french fries, instead go after these meals.

  • Chicken Caesar Salad

This salad has a lot of protein (about 30g) and only 220 calories. Skip out on the fatty ranch and too excessive cheese and this could actually be a great meal for any diet.

  • Premium McWrap with Chicken and Bacon

If you’re looking for a wrap on the McDonald’s menu, this is a good one. With 37g of protein, 420 calories and only 13g of fat, this could be a viable option if you skip on the cheese and sauce.

SUBWAY

If you’re looking for a great and affordable option for fast food on your training diet, look no further than Subway. With a menu full of healthy and beneficial options, it’s hard to find a sandwich NOT meant for gains.

  • 6” Turkey Breast & Black Forest Ham

This sandwich is awesome for a diet. Coming in at only 280 calories, 4g of fat and 18 grams of protein, this is easily a great option post workout to give your muscle vital nutrients.

  • 6” Oven Roasted Chicken

This is the mac-daddy of Subway sandwiches to eat while gaining (I didn’t mean to reference McDonalds there, but that’s a great use of slang). This sandwich has 320 calories, 5g of fat and 23g of protein. Throw in the fact that it has an ample amount of carbs and vitamins, then it’s easy to see why this is a great option.

KFC

Admit it, you knew I was going to throw fried chicken into the mix. Chicken is one of the best foods for gaining muscle, see why here. However, when you fry it, it gets better! And if you avoid sauces and other fat dense options, you can enjoy KFC even on a tough diet.

  • Original Recipe Chicken Breast

This fried food option comes at only 320 calories and 14g of fat. Shocking considering that it’s FRIED. Include the fact that it has 37g of protein, and it’s a winner-winner-chicken-dinner (literally).

  • Original Chicken Sandwich without Sauce

Notice, without the sauce! Excluding the sauce from this fast food delight, you can get a meal at around 430-450 calories, 18g of fat and 25g protein. Note the best option, but it’s possibly the best fried sandwich option available.

IN CONCLUSION

Do I condone eating fast food on a lifting diet? Yes and no.

I will be the first to admit that during my bulking season I have a cheat day rather than a cheat meal. I like this aspect of my diet because I feel like it gives my body more fuel to work with when building up my muscle, and I’m willing to risk slight fat gains because of this. Also, having a cheat meal greatly increases the opportunity of successfully staying on track with a diet.

So therefore, eat at your own caution. But if you’re going to cheat, or desperately need some quick food to get you proper gains, these are great options!

Do your research, get prepared, and get lifting!

Fried Chicken
                                              Fried chicken…need I say more?

Sneaky Foods that Prevent Leaning

Since your reading this, I’m assuming that you’re in the process of leaning out.

Congratulations! Leaning out is tough; I know I definitely miss eating 3500 calories worth of chicken, potatoes, and pb&j every day. Yet, leaning out is necessary for all of us to get ripped body we always dreamed of.

So in that case, let’s address some of the top 5 foods that you’re probably eating right now (I can see you!) that are causing you to screw up your lean out process.

  1. SALAD

I swear, I love that green stuff. Call me a ninny, but salad is absolutely delicious. Stuffed with antioxidants and lots of fiber, if you add some fish and chicken to it, this can become a protein bomb.

But wait! There are some problems.

Cons

If your salad is loaded with enough cheese and bacon to qualify as a baked potato, you’re doing it wrong. Salad’s with lots of croutons, creamy dressings and fried foods can cause lot’s of problems for leaning out.

Make it Lean

To keep it within your lean-out diet, always read the nutrition info, stick to low-fat dressings, and try to look for healthy toppings like fruits and nuts. Make sure you keep a good protein-fat ratio, and you should be okay.

  1. YOGURT

Yogurt is not just delicious, but is filled with lots of protein, healthy fats, vitamins, bacteria, and have tons of health benefits.

Cons

That generic brand of fruity yogurt that you’re so happily shoveling through most likely contains an insane amount of sugar. (Seriously? Didn’t we just have this conversation?)

Make it Lean

Go for the simple and plain yogurt and add your own fruit or nuts too it. This will make sure that you keep the sugar and fat content down while giving yourself plenty of protein and aminos.

  1. PEANUT BUTTER

Peanut butter is a staple for my bulking diet. Are you kidding? It’s quickly used as fuel, is packed full of mono-saturated fats, niacin, and other vital vitamins to any workout regimen.

Cons

Oh no! Not peanut butter too!

If you get the wrong type of peanut butter, AKA the peanut butter that is mass produced commercially or cheaply, you’re going to get peanut butter that has way too much sugar and trans fat. Both of those aspects are horrible for leaning out and can make it difficult to shed fat.

Make it Lean

Look for the peanut butter that is natural and isn’t loaded with preservatives. This will make sure you get all the appropriate nutrients while not consuming the problematic preservatives.

  1. Pasta

Macaroni, anyone? Pasta has tons of carbs, which means it’s great for energy. On top of that, it helps allow vital nutrients that excel at muscle growth to go to work.

Cons

Here we go again with mass-produced issue. A lot of pasta out there has become fiber less and calorie dense. This causes problems with digesting the carbohydrates and using it as fuel.

Make it Lean

Choose naturally-made pasta or pasta that is whole grain. Generally, these pastas are not as refined, so they still have all the qualities that make them perfect for leaning.

  1. Steak

Why!? Oh, why do I attack the steak!?

Silence.

Steak is full of protein, amino acids, vitamins, and other nutrients that are perfect for building muscle.

Cons

Fatty steaks, like the rib eye for example, are huge killers when it comes to gaining lean muscle. They simply have too much fat in them, even though they taste delicious.

Make it Lean

Fear not! You don’t have to give up your steak dinner! Go for the lean cuts of steak so that you can get the most out of the red meat consumption while limiting your fat consumption. Doing this will ensure you get the appropriate amounts of nutrients from the steak while keeping the fats down.

IN CONCLUSION

There you have it! I hope you enjoyed this blog as much as I enjoyed writing it. These foods are great for both leaning out and putting on muscle, depending on which type of diet program you are on. Just make sure to pay attention to the nutrition labels and you’ll have a great start!

Have fun, be prepared, get lifting!

Fatty Steak
                                  Fatty steaks can cause problems when trying to lean.

Top Foods for Protein Intake

A vital component to any diet or training program is protein.

PROTEIN. PROTEIN. PROTEIN.

Protein is made up of amino acids, lots and lots of amino acids. These amino acids are what builds up your muscles and what makes them bigger and stronger. Consuming enough protein to give your body the proper amount is essential to muscle growth.

So if everyone knew that protein is so vital to muscle growth, why do so many of us struggle to get the proper amounts? Well, I can tell you that it’s probably from the food you’re eating, you silly! In this blog, I’m going to go through my top 5 favorite foods for protein consumption. Eat these, and you’ll have a great start to getting the accurate amounts of protein for your training day!

  1. Chicken

Did you expect anything less? Seriously?

Chicken is awesome! It’s packed full of amino acids and proteins that are essential for muscle growth. This high quality protein gives your body great resources for muscle repair, bone strength, and helps control your weight. Also, on top of all these great qualities, there are almost endless ways to prepare it, which means it’s difficult to get burned out on it.

  1. Lean Beef

Making it in at number two on this list is: lean beef. I know, a lot of people out there are upset that I chose chicken over beef, but trust me it’s not necessarily a competition between the two. Both are excellent sources of protein, packed with great nutrients essential for gaining muscle.

At just three ounces, beef contains around 150-160 calories, lots of vitamins and amino acids, and of course protein (lots and lots of protein). Why did I choose chicken over beef? Chicken has 27g of protein per three ounces, at 138 calories. So, if I were going to argue over which meat is better for the protein-to-calorie ratio, chicken wins in my book.

  1. Fish

Fish is great for any lifter who is looking to put on muscle. Take tuna for example. Tuna, at just four ounces, has 20 grams of protein at just 90 calories. Not only that, fish is stuffed with omega-3 fatty acids. Omega-3’s are great for metabolism, heart health and brain health.

  1. Grains (Rice and Quinoa)

Grains like rice and quinoa are a unique and healthy way to meet your protein goals. I included them on this list because they provide useful services for both digestion, and protein consumption, in just one cup. Boosting your energy, hormones, and metabolism are just some of the benefits. Another is 8 grams of protein per 280 calories with 0 cholesterol, which is a big issue with getting your protein from meats.

  1. Oatmeal

Oatmeal, oh how I love oatmeal.

Oatmeal is perfect for breakfast to start your day off with carbs at a low GI index. On top of that, it can be used as a snack in between meals, and help keep away hunger and fat gains. Also, for 320 calories worth of oatmeal, you get 8 grams of cholesterol free protein.

IN CONCLUSION

These five foods are great for adding protein and other essential nutrients to your diet. The meats are great for protein and amino acid consumption. However, grains like quinoa and oatmeal are great for adding in other nutrients to your diet while keeping your metabolism and energy high consistently and naturally.

My Advice: Pick and combine options that work best for you! Just keep an eye on your cholesterol and sodium intake, and you will be golden!

**Note:

  • This post was based off of top suggestions for foods to consume for protein intake. I did not consider whey protein powder, or any other supplement on this list, because I do not consider them Though supplements are great and awesome for any lifting program, they’re meant to supplement a diet, not be your diet.
  • Do you agree with my list? Feel free to comment and leave feedback, let’s have a discussion!

    Grilled Chicken
    Grilled chicken, delicious and packed with protein!

Should I Eat Big to Get Big?

One of the biggest issues for beginning weightlifters, or even intermediate weightlifters, is the diet. Many choose to jump on the bandwagon of a new supplement, new plan, or new super food to try and boost their gains. However, novices overlook one of the most vital factors of gaining muscle and maximizing their workout program. Do you know what that fact is?

EAT BIG TO GET BIG.

Boom! No getting around it, had to be said.

I’ll save the actual food discussion for another time; the most important factor I want to stress in this post is that you actually have to eat big to get big. So, should I eat more?…

WHY EATING MORE IS IMPORTANT

The body’s muscles need the energy from food in order to build up more muscle, that’s basic.

In order to build muscle, you have to work hard. In order to work hard, your body requires more energy. To have energy, you have to eat…a lot (or at least to arguably reach maximum potential).

To maximize muscle gains, an increased calorie intake is essential. To build more muscle the human body needs a surplus of calories for fuel. In order for the human body to have a surplus of calories, the total consumption of calories must be more than the amount of activity and work that the body goes through on a daily basis. Or in math terms: Intake > Output.

To put it simply, the more someone works out to gain muscle, the more they have to eat to maximize potential.

WHY THE EXTRA SHOULD NOT SCARE YOU

I get it, gaining too much excess is bad. It has been the same story for every lifter since lifting began (right?). Most people, not all, are worried about putting on too much fat during their workout program. But here’s the kicker: it’s almost impossible not to gain at least some extra fat in search of gains.

As stated before, the body and muscle groups need extra calories and nutrients (macro and micro) in order to supplement the muscle gains. The muscles that are consistently being broken down through training are also consistently being built up by the big eating that is being accomplished. The extra fat percentage being gained from all the extra eating is what is supplying your muscles with the energy it needs.

IN CONCLUSION

So, eat big to get big. Muscle groups require more calories and nutrients than usually consumed in order to grow. Eating more to grow you’re your muscles will improve in both size and strength, and also increase the overall benefits of your lifting. Depending on what body type you are, you may gain more or less fat from eating more during training. Don’t let the fact that you will gain more fat deter you from eating more to grow. A proper lean out program will be able to assist in shredding whatever fat gained if that is a concern.

To put it simply, eat big to get big. Please, don’t starve your muscles.

Oatmeal
Oatmeal, yum!