Massive Eating Reloaded, Part I
Three years ago John Berardi unleashed Massive Eating Part I and Part II, a diet designed to help you put on buckets of muscle while minimizing fat gain. This controversial eating plan called for much higher calories than most of us were used to. It also asked us to do something that seemed strange at the time: not eat a lot of carbs and fats together in the same meal.
Does it work? After three years of being guinea-pigged by thousands of T-Nation readers, we can answer that question with an enthusiastic heck yeah it does! Berardi is definitely on to something here.
Now, JB says it's time for some "upgrades." Can he improve upon an already effective diet? Can he really take this eating plan to the next level? Or should he have taken a tip from the movie The Matrix and stopped with the first one? Decide for yourself as Massive Eating gets reloaded!
The Massive Eating plan was designed for one reason: to help mass-obsessed trainees tackle three muscle building challenges. These challenges include:
With these three goals outlined, its now time to make a choice. You can take the "blue pill" (stop reading here) and be content with the original Massive Eating plan. Or, Neo, you can take the "red pill" (keep reading) and Ill take you deep into the rabbit hole.
Thats right; choose the red pill and many of your old notions of how to use the Massive Eating plan may be destroyed. But rather than leaving you suspended, unaware, in a chamber of red protoplasm, Ill replace the old with new information, info that'll help you reinforce the Zion that is your physique. The choice is yours.
Good, in reading on you chose the red pill. Its time for re-education. Hang on because the first part is a small taste of scientific theory. In other words, Kansas is going bye-bye.
To begin, the shelf-life of any article based on scientific information, including Massive Eating, is short. Why? Well, the answer is based on how scientists view experimental data and theory.
Remember Newtons apple? If the story is true and Newton was sitting in an orchard one day when an apple bonked him on the head, that apple dropping is an example of one experimental data point. Therefore, in this accidental experiment, one experimental data point was presented and a theory (the theory of gravity) was inspired.
Now, if Newton had used only this one data point to justify his theory, people would've assumed the apple hitting him on the head had turned his brain to applesauce. Therefore, Newton followed up this one piece of experimental data with many more pieces. As the data accumulated, a comprehensive theory was put forth to explain all these data points and the force that governed them.
So whats this got to do with todays topic? Well, the point is that as experimental data are collected, theories are generated to explain these observations. But since the data keep coming even after the theories adequately explain prior data, the goal of the scientist is to reconcile the new experimental data and the theory.
In some cases, the new experimental data fit the theory quite well and the theory remains intact. Other times, the new experimental data are enough to cause a subtle shift in thinking and the theory changes a bit to accommodate the new ideas. Sometimes, the new data is so contradictory and compelling, it smashes the old theory to smithereens.
For those not interested in the ideas behind experimental data and theory, let me tie this all together by breaking it down real simple-like. Sometimes the new scientific data pulls out that high speed, Matrix-style Kung-Fu and beats down the old science, leaving it broken, battered, and obsolete. As a result, a new theory must emerge.
Although the original theory outlined in Massive Eating was fairly elegant and was very effective for thousands of athletes who tried it, Ive been looking at new data and have been trying to reconcile these data with the Massive Eating theory. With these new data available, the old theory hasnt exactly broken, however, it has adapted to accommodate these new observations.
As a result of this adaptation, this article was born. In it, Ill be presenting two key ways to make the Massive Eating plan even more effective. First, I'll present a systematic and highly individual outcome-based system of increasing energy intake. Secondly, I'll be discussing a nutrient timing strategy that emphasizes the importance of the time dimension in feeding.
As outlined in the original plan, many weight trainers fail at gaining muscle size for one simple reason: they underestimate how much food it actually takes to get massive. Wondering how much food that is again? If so, go back and do the calculations. Better yet, pay a visit to the Massive Eating Calorie Calculator. This little calculator will save your cerebral energy for more complex mental tasks like hacking into the Matrix.
Once youve done these calculations, gotten over the calorie shock, realized that I didnt just make those numbers up but actually derived them from scientific studies , and come to grips with your impending grocery bill, its time to assimilate a piece of information new to this article: gradually increasing energy intake to reach your new calorie goals.
Over the years, many have wondered just how quickly they should increase their energy intake to meet their newly calculated requirements. For example, if an athlete is eating 2500kcal per day and Massive Eating tells him to eat 5000kcal, he often wonders whether he should simply begin eating 5000kcal right away or whether he should gradually increase his energy intake.
To answer the question, Id like to refer you to an algorithm I call the Nutritional Individualization System. This algorithm is fundamental to your understanding of how to increase (or decrease) your energy intake. As youll see, when trying to gain muscle mass, the energy increases should be initiated very slowly.
Starting at the lower right hand corner, youll notice the box labeled "Follow Plan." At this point you can assume "Follow Plan" to mean following a baseline nutritional intake complete with good food choices, a moderate to high protein intake, good post-workout nutrition, and few meals that contain lots of carbohydrate and fat.
For a better idea of what this entails, "Follow Plan" means eating according to the seven rules laid out in my previous article, The Seven Habits of Highly Effective Nutritional Plans.
If youre not currently eating in accordance with these seven habits (outlined below), be sure to begin doing so immediately:
Here's the catch: you need to apply these habits without increasing total energy intake. Since your physiology can adapt to your current energy intake by increasing or decreasing your metabolism to match what you eat, your metabolism is probably slower than it should be. Therefore, you dont want to start overloading your metabolism with hundreds to thousands of surplus calories right away. If you do, the only thing getting massive will be your gut. So start off by changing your intake to reflect the seven habits without actually altering your energy intake just yet.
Now, once youve adjusted your diet to conform to these seven practical habits, start thinking about using the Nutritional Individualization System to change your energy intake. Heres how: After two weeks of following the new nutritional plan (same energy intake, different foods and nutrient timing), its time to assess your progress objectively (i.e. body weight and body fat measurements) and ask yourself whether youve accomplished your body composition goals the "Reach Goals?" section of the chart above.
If the answer is "Yes", simply keep repeating the plan until, of course, the answer becomes "No". If the answer is "No", then if your goal is to increase muscle mass, you need to adjust the original plan by eating more food.
To begin the adjustment process you have to alter energy intake calories. Start by adding 250kcal to your total energy intake each day. If you were eating 2500kcal per day, increase this number to 2750kcal per day. What kind of calories should you add in? Well get into that in Part II of the article; for now its important not to get ahead of ourselves so lets stick with the actual energy manipulations.
After adding 250kcal into your diet, follow this adjustment for two weeks. At the end of the two weeks, its time for another reassessment of your goals. After recording body weight and measuring body fat, again ask yourself the question, "Reach Goals?" If the answer is "Yes", then keep repeating the plan as it now stands until the answer becomes "No". If the answer is "No", simply revisit the original plan, alter it by adding another 250kcal to the total energy intake, and reassess after another two weeks.
Looking over the system above, it seems pretty simple, right? Well, the hard part isnt in the details, its in being patient enough to consistently follow the plan. If you can patiently follow this process systematically (i.e. make an adjustment, wait two weeks, reassess, adjust again) you'll find your patience is rewarded by steady progress and very few "unexpected" results. After all, by adjusting on a bi-weekly basis, there's very little risk of packing on too much fat when trying go gain mass or of losing too much muscle when trying to get lean.
And herein lies the beauty of the system: you can follow it right up until the time you reach your goal or until you decide to change it. Then you can follow it in your quest for a new goal!
Remember, I am offering you the truth, nothing more.
At this point you should notice that the Nutritional Individualization System is outcome-based. In other words, rather than telling you that one set of ideas is all youll ever need to make progress, or selecting some calorie number (even a well-validated scientific one) and sticking to it without deviation, an outcome-based system allows you to figure out the intake necessary for your body based on your own personal response. I cant tell you exactly how many calories you need to eat; no one can because there are no calorie clairvoyants out there. Only you can figure this out.
But remember, the Massive Eating calculations shouldnt be abandoned altogether. Several research studies have been done to generate the equations used in the Massive Eating Calculator, so these equations are well validated and provide a good starting point. However, individual responses will most likely vary.
Coaches know this phenomenon all too well. Once youve been exposed to a lot of athletes or trainees, what youll notice is that some individuals may actually begin to reach their goals of weight gain prior to hitting their calculated energy needs. Others may begin to gain when reaching the calories predicted by the calculator, and yet others will only begin to gain at energy intakes in excess of the predicted numbers. So dont be surprised if your results do vary. This is to be expected!
In fact, this variance explains why I've included the box labeled "Details/Coaching" in the System of Nutritional Individualization. While about 90% or more of the people out there will benefit from using this straightforward system, there are individuals who need an even more highly individualized approach to reach their full potential. This is where highly detail-oriented coaching is required, as a good coach can provide two key benefits:
Using the system presented in this article, you should now have some of the tools necessary to step up and become your own Massive Eating architect, to design your own system.
To begin, simply calculate your approximate energy needs and then adjust your meal plan to follow the seven habits without changing your energy intake. Next, at your current energy intake, assess your body weight and body composition changes after two weeks. Finally, begin to increase or decrease your daily energy intake by 250kcal based on how your body is changing over the two-week time intervals.
At this point a number of critical questions most likely remain. Sit tight. Next week I'll be back with details on what type of macronutrients you should be ingesting as you make your 250kcal bi-weekly increases and Ill present some new information on nutrient timing.
I didn't come here to tell you how this is going to end. I came here to tell you how it's going to begin Where we go from there, is a choice I leave to you.
John Berardi is a PhD candidate in Exercise and Nutritional Biochemistry at the University of Western Ontario, Ontario Canada. John is also president of Science Link, a human performance and nutrition consultation group dedicated to translating research into results. The Science Link team works with clients from around the world and from all walks of life including elite athletes to cardiovascular patients. To find out more about his products and services, visit him at www.johnberardi.com or email him directly at email@example.com. You can check out his new "No Nonsense Nutrition" DVD here.
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