Stop being obsessive and neurotic about food. Part of your diet should be strict, but part of it really doesn’t matter. Here’s why.
I eat ice cream.
And not the fat-free, loaded with xylitol stuff that makes your bowels churn and pull like a saltwater taffy machine in Atlantic City. I'm talking the stuff with cream, eggs, and sugar. I'm talking the mother of all gourmet ice creams, the stuff that causes bodybuilders and figure models to start nervously fingering their rosary beads whenever they see it beckoning to them from behind the frosted glass freezer case at the Piggly Wiggly.
Yes, that's right, Haagen Dazs – it whose name must never be spoken.
And I've even been known to feast on syrup-drenched blueberry pancakes, browned to the exact hue of Sofia Vergara's butt cheeks after she just got back from frolicking on the beaches of the Columbian resort city of Cartagena.
My startling admission has probably made you feel uneasy. Maybe your balls have started to twitch and tingle a little like they want to run home to the warm and safe embrace of momma, sort of like they do when you stand too close to the edge of a really tall building.
Well you'd best cup your balls firmly before my next admission, before they recede completely up the inguinal canal and pull the covers over their heads.
The thing is, I eat this stuff often and not as part of some pre-planned, arbitrary cheat meal.
What are the repercussions? Nada. Zippo. I don't feel guilty and it doesn't negatively affect my body comp.
Oh, I still eat well – lots of vegetables, proteins, functional fats – but I don't measure them or my life out in coffee spoons or worry so much about proportions. If I eat eggs, I don't agonize over how many should be yolkless, nor do I worry that Marge, the big-breasted waitress with a heart of gold, gave me white bread toast instead of whole-wheat toast.
In fact, for the most part, I live like an average person; you know, one that enjoys life and can eat something truly tasty without feeling like I have the morals of the girl who just banged the entire football team. The only difference is that I'm not a fat bastard, nor in all probability will I ever be.
Let me tell you what I'm doing. It's what I advocate pretty much everybody do, provided they're willing to follow just a few rules.
You might have read my article a few months ago where I described my revelations about eating 6 meals a day:
"While your cells were once as sensitive to insulin as a fat man in vinyl pants is sensitive to heat rash, they've gradually grown resistant because there's an onslaught of sugar in your blood stream almost all the time. It's quite possible your blood sugar levels are averaging well above 85 mg/dl, if not much higher, and you're already insulin resistant, perhaps on the way to full-blown type-2 diabetes."
I explained how, by eating so often for so many years, I'd actually become relatively insulin resistant. I also explained that it wasn't because of a crappy diet. As evidence, I said that I couldn't even remember what a doughnut tasted like.
My solution to reducing my blood sugar and increasing insulin sensitivity had been to simply do a dietary downshift from 6 meals to 4 per day. I also gave huge props to Indigo-3G®, which, among other things, improves how your body handles sugar, dramatically increasing insulin sensitivity.
But I only revealed half of the picture. I'd focused on the health aspects of my eating plan while leaving out most of the physique-enhancing portion of the plan, which together constitutes the eating plan I espouse. I also left out some of what might be regarded as "extreme" dietary behavior lest you have the same response as a monster-fearing child when his cruel father jumps out from behind the closet door wearing a Freddy Krueger mask.
It has to do with what T Nation coined "The 3rd Law of Muscle." First, let me remind you of the first 2 Laws of Muscle, which are pretty much common sense. The 1st Law is to implement the best training program for your goals, while the 2nd Law requires that you rest the body to assure total recovery and super-compensation.
The 3rd Law, however, is the one that most people don't fully appreciate, or just plain ignore:
"To guarantee the greatest gains from training, consume the precise compounds required to fully fuel, protect, and reload muscle – which can only be done prior to, during, and within a 6-hour window after training."
What we mean is that you need to be strict – really strict – during the peri-workout nutrition "zone." If you consume the right amount of protein and carbs and supplemental compounds/nutrients, in their right forms, during the right times, you can't help but grow.
The effect is so profound that it pretty much doesn't matter what you do with the rest of the hours of the day, even if it includes eating some ice cream and a few Sophia Vergara butt pancakes. But if you neglect the 3rd Law, we believe you're pretty much wasting your time in the gym. Really.
Even if you're one of those non-believers – people who don't believe in the science of supplements – and turn your nose up at the numerous other compounds we've included in our peri-workout protocol to boost performance, endurance, growth, and recovery, you can't deny the basic physiology of the protocol we recommend:
If you prime your muscles prior to a workout with functional carbohydrates and nutrient partitioning compounds, combined with specific di and tri-peptide proteins, and continue to manipulate these factors through and directly after a workout, you'll provide the building blocks for muscle, and provided your training isn't half-assed, you'll put these building blocks to good use, i.e., building muscle.
Look, you'll be ingesting up to 100 grams or more of anabolic proteins along with a hefty dose of functional carbohydrates. At its most basic level, you'll be feeding your muscles roughly a third or more of their daily nutritional/caloric load during this brief period when they're most receptive to receiving this nutritional blessing.
If you followed this 3rd Law judiciously, you would make stupendous gains, regardless of what you do the rest of the day.
Hence the revelation about ice cream and pancakes.
But lest you think we've given up eating veggies and good stuff, I haven't. It's just that I don't agonize over every food choice. I, and several other members of the T Nation team, eat our veggies and avoid most crap food because, well, we're adults, but we live normally. We don't assume some sort of Catholic or Jewish guilt because we had a bowl of Cocoa Puffs with our Metabolic Drive® Low Carb milk (milk mixed with MD).
So, in a nutshell, here's how we eat on non-workout days:
Mid Morning: Mag-10® Protein Pulsing Protocol
Mid-Afternoon: MAG-10® Protein Pulsing Protocol
Late Dinner (preceded 30 minutes beforehand by Indigo-3G®)
Bedtime: MAG-10® Protein Pulsing Protocol
And here's how we eat on workout days:
Mid Morning: MAG-10® Protein Pulsing Protocol
Peri-Workout Nutrition Protocol:
Late Afternoon Pre-Workout Meal
4:45 – Indigo 3-G®
5:00 – Plazma®
5:15 – Workout
6:30 – MAG-10® Protein Pulsing Protocol
Bedtime: MAG-10® Protein Pulsing Protocol
Obviously, if you have some very specific nutritional needs, like you need to lose an appreciable amount of fat, we'd tweak this basic boilerplate diet considerably. But as laid out, the basic eating plan is effective in building muscle while maintaining a lean physical state.
It also allows for a tremendous amount of leeway, food-choice wise, the rest of the day. It's been enormously liberating. It's also eliminated the psychological "need" for a scheduled cheat day, because we "cheat" in strict bodybuilding terms, fairly often.
Make no mistake about it. Our nutrition is still rock solid. We pay attention to the quality of the foods we eat. Just because we no longer agonize about the carb/fat/protein content of foods as much doesn't mean we're deep-throating Twinkies or noshing on Lay's Potato Chips. It just means that we've pretty much left the neurotic and obsessive eating to the high-fashion models and jockeys.