The Skinny Bastard Diet
An eating program for those who "can't gain weight"
by Cy Willson
Skinny Guys Piss Me Off
I've met a wide variety of people through my bodybuilding endeavors. However, I'd have to say my least favorite type of person has been the "skinny guy." You know exactly who I'm referring to. Yeah, that's right, the same bag 'o bones that comes up to you in the gym and says, "Hey, dude, how'd ya get so big? I eat and eat and I can never gain weight!"
I don't have anything against them personally, but I do hate the fact that they can't put on muscle mass. Why do these individuals fail to add lean body mass even after several years of training? They must have a really fast metabolism, beyond that of human comprehension. (Not likely.) Or maybe they're simply lying their asses off when they tell you that they "eat all the time but still can't gain weight."
Over the years, I've formed my own hypothesis as to why these guys can't gain weight. I've also been able to correct these individuals' problems by applying this hypothesis and correcting what's wrong. The end result is that the skinny bastard I'm helping is able to gain an appreciable amount of lean body mass. This, to me at least, indicates that my hypothesis has proven to be correct in the vast majority of the cases.
So what are the reasons why these people can't gain mass? Well, yes, they do typically have a higher metabolic rate than the average person. However, it's not to the degree where they can't gain weight on a 4,000 calorie diet. The other part of the equation is that they simply can't eat enough food. Sure, they try, but their appetites can only extend so far. Now this is frustrating to me, as I can easily eat a large amount of calories. However, I realize there are less fortunate individuals out there.
So what about these guys who claim they eat and eat but still can't gain weight? In most cases, if you follow these guys around and log their caloric intake, it's usually not more than 2,000 calories at best, sometimes being only 1,500 or even less! So are they intentionally lying to us? No, in fact most believe they're truly eating a large amount of calories. The problem is that not everyone is as educated as we T-men. They don't know how many calories are in that cheeseburger, chicken breast, or can of tuna. So instead, they rely on their degree of satiety or feeling of fullness to judge how much they're eating. Not a good idea.
For example, one guy may not eat anything until noon because he "just doesn't feel hungry in the morning." Sure, he eats a high-calorie food at lunch like a cheeseburger and some fries along with some type of candy; however, that may only equate to around 1200 calories or so. Now he's "full" until 6 o'clock that night when he discovers he's "starving", so he decides to eat some cookies and ice cream or something of that nature. Let's say he ingests 800 calories worth before he's full. Well, that's still only 2000 calories for the day.
If you're like me, you want to slap the shit out of these guys who eat like this and then complain that they "can't gain weight!" You want to grab them and say, "Look, Slim, I want you to eat 600 calories per meal, six to eight times per day, with an appropriate amount of protein, carbohydrate, and fat in each meal and I don't care if you're full or not; you're doing it or I'm going to shove it down your throat!" However, you have to remember that these people truly don't understand that they may need to eat, even when they're not hungry!
They don't realize that bodybuilding requires that you do many things that involve discipline. We don't always "feel" like lifting or doing cardio or eating nothing but bland food for weeks upon weeks in order to reduce adipose tissue. But you know what? We do it! Well, I apply the same principle to eating food. You may not always "feel" like eating, but you do it because in the end, it produces the results you desire.
So is that it? Is my secret to getting these skinny guys to put on mass as simple as a ten minute speech? Boy, do I wish. No, this never works. I do give them "the speech," but the next step is the main part of the equation. This next step is a diet or a way of eating designed just for genetically cursed skinny bastards.
I'm going to fill you guys in on the best ways to eat while minimizing the feeling of being full. In the end, this allows you to ingest a large amount of calories without feeling so full you want to puke. As a side benefit, these foods aren't the typical foods that we bodybuilders eat and most are quite enjoyable!
Hunger and Satiety
Before we delve into the eating plan, I should share with you a little background on the topics of hunger and satiety. While there are many mechanisms behind these two "feelings," we can use some evidence to solidify at least a few key ideas. The first thing involved is the peptide cholecystokinin, or CCK. This peptide is able to induce a state of satiety. (1,2,3) When you ingest food, this peptide is typically released and causes a feeling of fullness.
The hormone insulin can also affect your level of hunger by causing hypoglycemia. While in this hypoglycemic state, your blood glucose is low and you become rather hungry. In this sense it accomplishes this effect (making you hungry) indirectly. (4,5) I should also note that in a hyperinsulinemic state, insulin has been shown to increase hunger irrespective of glucose levels. (6,7)
Serotonin, the neurotransmitter, also plays a rather significant role in appetite. When you ingest a food that's high in carbohydrates, your body naturally releases insulin. Insulin reduces levels of certain amino acids that compete with L-tryptophan (the precursor to serotonin) for transport across the blood-brain barrier. This increase in serotonin in your brain allows for a state of satiety. (8,9)
It's for this very reason that certain bodybuilders use the drug Periactin (cyproheptadine), which acts as a serotonin antagonist, therefore increasing hunger. The bad thing is that it also acts as an antihistamine, which can make you very sleepy. You could also try THC, the active ingredient in marijuana, but I think we all know that isn't the greatest idea, especially if you plan on using it every day!
So what does all of this mean? Well, it looks as if we need to stimulate insulin release to a large degree. Not only will this lead to an eventual increase in appetite, but you should remember that insulin has superior anabolic action as well. So the next question is, how can we accomplish this large release of insulin and the resultant increase in appetite? Well, read on skinny T-bro because that's what I'm going to explain next.
Foods for Skinny Bastards
Since our main goal is to essentially consume as many calories as possible while also increasing insulin release and causing the least amount of satiety, you should consider the following: First, we should consider the GI or glycemic index of foods. Now, in most cases, a food with a low GI will produce a feeling of fullness. However, this isn't what you scrawny guys want. In fact, you want the very opposite, hence the idea of consuming foods with a high GI in order to induce hunger.
Now, this may work to a fairly good degree, however, what's even more important is the SI or Satiety Index of a food.(10,11,12) The higher the number, the more filling the food is. In most cases, the GI and SI correlate fairly well. Even so, there are exceptions, so instead of guessing I'm just going to list a few of the characteristics that each index shares in terms of inducing or reducing hunger. For the most part, the key determinants are protein, fiber, and water content, along with the sheer volume and texture of the food. (13-17) So the more protein, fat, fiber, and water, and the firmer the food is, the more likely it is to have both a low GI and high SI rating.
This is the opposite of what skinny guys want. Remember, we want to be as hungry as possible. So what foods should we eat? Simple. We want foods that don't contain much fiber, fat, or water (this means excluding vegetables and fruits), and those foods that are soft in texture. Now I'm sure you noticed the protein aspect and, no, I'm not telling you to reduce your intake of protein. I'll explain this in a little bit, but for now I'm going to list some food sources that fit our guidelines.
This list is your source for carbohydrates. This will, of course, be the main determinant of your hunger level via insulin release. What we're mainly trying to do here is duplicate the same pattern of eating that obese people follow! Basically, we want to cause a large release of insulin via carbohydrate ingestion, but one that will digest quickly.
This same process will cause a rise in serotonin and will cause you to feel full and a little sluggish. However, because the rise was so rapid and short-lived, your serotonin levels will once again come crashing down, along with blood glucose, causing you to become hungry once again.
Carb Choices: Fat Free or Near Fat-Free Foods
Fat free cookies
Glucose or Dextrose
(Essentially any fat free food with little or no fiber)
Now on to the issue of protein. According to what I told you earlier, protein may not be exactly what we want when trying to induce hunger, so we shouldn't eat it, right? Wrong!
In this case, you might want to cut back on proteins like casein and instead emphasize whey. Why? Well, there's a lag in gastric emptying with casein, whereas with whey this isn't so much of a factor. The best in this regard would be whey hydrolysate. (18) (Keep in mind that casein or a casein/whey blend is ideal for most bodybuilders, but we're talking about skinny bastards here, so it's a whole 'nother ballgame!) I still advocate the use of casein before bed and I'm not saying that you shouldn't consume it at all, but whey is preferable in this instance.
As for sources of protein, I'd like you to use powders as much as possible. Any whole-food protein will produce too much satiety. So a casein/whey blend like Advanced Protein or a plain whey protein product will work fine. However, I want you to change one thing for me. Instead of using the recommended amount of water to dilute the powder, use only three to four ounces. In other words, cut the label recommendations for liquid use by at least half. This will basically make a pudding type of mix that you'll eat with a spoon.
What's this for? Well, as I stated earlier, the volume of a food (which includes the volume of water in a protein drink) can have a significant effect on satiety. So, by using less water you won't become as full. If you must absolutely consume some solid protein source, then eat it as your last meal before bed.
Also, a great supplement to use both before (yes, I said before) and after your workouts would be Biotest Surge. No, I'm not pushing a supplement in order to be a corporate shill, but it happens to contain exactly what you need, that is, glucose and whey hydrolysate, along with some BCAA's and glutamine. It'll cause a large and rapid rise in endogenous insulin levels, which is exactly what we want, especially when timed around training.
Now, I know I told you that you need to consume as little fat as possibly, but you do need at least some fat in order to keep insulin sensitivity and Testosterone at decent levels. Even so, you won't be going over 10% in terms of your overall calorie intake.
Now, what type of fat should you be consuming? Well, for the most part, I'd prefer if you only took in monounsaturated (peanut oil, olive oil, etc.) and polyunsaturated (omega-3) fats (like those found in fatty fish). The reason for monounsaturated fat consumption is simple. Out of all the fats, it causes the least satiety. In other words, you can eat a good amount and not get very full. (19)
The reason for including omega-3 polyunsaturates is because of their ability to limit fat accumulation, increase insulin sensitivity in muscle tissue, and even decrease insulin sensitivity in adipose tissue. (20-29) I'd prefer that you consumed the majority of these fat calories at your last nightly meal or your first meal of the day, preferably the former. And as I'll explain in more detail below, about half of your fat intake should come from fish oil capsules.
Although I'm not going to actually recommend the use of these herbs for those just starting this program, you can try them if the diet doesn't work for you or you're still having problems with feeling too full. (I haven't seen anyone for whom this plan hasn't worked, but I'm sure there are bound to be some exceptions.)
These herbs either have insulin-like properties or actually increase insulin release which can cause hypoglycemia and thus increase appetite:
1) Trigonella foenum-graecum or fenugreek This has been shown to increase hunger in some people. (30)
2) Momordica charantia (Bitter Melon)
3) Gymnema sylvestre
4) Mangifera indica.
Again, I'd prefer that you not use these until you've tried the diet by itself first. (31-35)
Uh, so what do I eat, like, exactly?
Here are some sample meal combinations:
Protein powder mixed with half the normal water content
Fat free cookies
Protein powder mixed with half the normal water content
Fat free pretzels or white bread
Protein powder mixed with half the normal water content
Some type of candy (licorice, gummy bears, whatever you want)
Note that you can also use skim milk in your protein drinks instead of water. This will add extra calories and it elicits a high release of insulin. It does break our casein restriction a bit, but it's not that big of a deal. Don't sweat it. Drink your skimmed moo juice and use half the regular amount when making protein shakes with it.
As far as when to consume your food, I won't give a specific time. Eating more often will generally lead to better satiety, but this isn't what we want. On the other hand, I don't want you to go any longer than three to four hours in between meals.
How much am I supposed to eat, big guy?
As far as caloric intake, we're going to go rather high. Let's say our guy weighs 150 pounds. I'll keep it simple; I'd like you to multiply your bodyweight by 25. In the case of our 150 pound friend, we get 3750 calories per day.
Now I also want you to consume four grams of carbs per pound of body weight. So, this skinny bastard will be consuming 600 grams of carbs per day. As for protein intake, he'll be consuming 1.5 grams of protein per pound of bodyweight, which will put him at 225 grams per day.
For fat calories, he'll be getting in around 40 grams per day (rounded). Now remember, these fat calories for the most part should be consumed at your last meal of the day. Twenty of these fat grams will be from fish oil. The other twenty should be primarily from monounsaturated fat. Pistachios are rather rich in monounsaturated fat and would make a decent choice.
So, our guy's overall calorie intake will be 3760 for the day. Our macronutrient ratios break down to 64% carbohydrates, 27% protein, and around 10% for fat calories. Essentially, all we're doing is multiplying our bodyweight by 25, then multiplying our bodyweight by four for carbohydrate intake, 1.5 for protein intake, and simply filling in the rest of the calories with fat, half of which will come from fish oil caps.
Now, I want you to eat around five to six times per day. By breaking these numbers up on a per meal basis, our 150 pound guy will get the following in each meal:
Protein 38-45 grams
Carbs 100-120 grams
Fat You have the option of splitting your fat intake in half, consuming half at your last meal and half at your first, but I'd prefer it be consumed mostly in your last meal.
Now, if there's a gram of fat or two in your regular meals, don't sweat it. Also, don't forget to include the protein and carbohydrate calories that you ingest from Biotest Surge, if you choose to use it. Two servings of Surge, one before and one after training, figure fairly well in your plan and basically count as one meal.
You'll probably be swallowing around sixteen fish oil capsules, provided you're using a good brand like Twinlab's Max EPA. You'll then consume the other twenty grams of fat from a source rich in monounsaturated fat.
Another thing I'd like you to remember is not to worry about going over your total calorie intake. Don't go extremely overboard, but don't worry if you go over by a few hundred calories. After all, we're trying to grow right?!
What do I do once I'm not a skinny bastard anymore?
Okay, so now you've gained an appreciable amount of weight and you're to the point where you're satisfied. You've probably gained just a tad bit of adipose tissue, but don't worry, it's no big deal. You have a few options. You can start using MD6, which contains 5-HTP (which will increase serotonin levels) and thus will reduce hunger or cravings for carbs.
You can also alter your eating pattern. You can substitute a few or all of your meals with foods that produce satiety, in other words, the opposite of what we were trying to accomplish earlier. Eat foods high in fiber, water content/volume, solid protein sources, lots of casein, and foods that are hard in texture. Also, you may want to eat more often as this has been shown to decrease appetite. (36,37)
A Final Note
If you're a skinny bastard I want you to give this diet a sincere try and see how you like it. I know you'll love the aspect of being able to essentially eat "junk food" or foods that bodybuilders don't normally eat, with the exception of some gifted and drug assisted pros. I promise you this will work; you just have to stick to it. Remember that you need to eat these meals in a consistent pattern. In terms of ease, this is probably the easiest diet ever.
This sort of goes without saying since you're reading T-mag, but make sure you're using a good weight training program while on this diet. This diet done without hard weight training will turn you into a fat bastard instead of a buff bastard, no matter how fast your metabolism.
I also want you to remember that this is essentially a "bulking" diet and is especially geared for those having trouble putting on weight and those that have a history of thinness. This doesn't mean that it excludes other people, but if you're at 15% bodyfat, I don't want you to start using this program! You should start this program at a relatively low bodyfat percentage, at least below 10%. Once you go above 15-18% then it's time to change things up a bit.
Give this a try and let us know how you do. I'm sure you'll love it. And if you succeed, we'll even stop calling you a skinny bastard.
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