Ask any big guy how he got to be 250 pounds or more and I guarantee his answer isn’t going to be, “I ate really clean and had non-starchy carbs, and I got hooge.” That has never been said ever. That said, there seems to be a trend right now of “eat clean and be lean” year around and a general discouragement of excessive bulking and dirty eating.
Eating clean year around is swell if your goal is to continue to look like a soccer player who does curls, but if you want to reach the hallowed “damn, you’re a big guy” status, you need to down some calories. A lot of calories. More calories than your damn chicken breast and organic brown rice will provide.
Certain rules must be adhered to when eating to get big. Eating an entire pound of seared dead animal flesh is a good way to start. While in the long run, these dietary guidelines will likely enlarge your heart and leave you sweating bacon grease walking up stairs, they are guaranteed to get you hooge in the short term. Lift heavy, pack in the meals, and watch your numbers climb. If you’re serious about gaining weight and need to put on size now, man up and get ready for some truly epic eating.
Disclaimer: This diet doesn’t constitute sound medical advice. It does, however, contain awesome advice, which is even better.
There are those people that want to be lean and ripped getting stronger or bigger at a snail’s pace and then there are others that just want to be huge and strong without taking it as slow. This article is for the latter.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO) more than 1.4 billion adults, 20 and older, are overweight. It is no wonder why people are becoming more and more obsessed with dieting when the numbers point to growing increases in weight and health risks. This is not to mention that the pressure to look leaner is constantly placed in front of us through advertisements in magazines, movies, and television. Many of these overweight individuals suffer with an inability to diet successfully due to a glaring misunderstanding of what you eat being more important than how much you eat. In order to remedy this people must thoughtfully consume fewer calories than their body requires to maintain its current weight and this should be done through the reduction of calories from food and getting regular exercise, not through the new fad diet.
The problem is that people who are attempting to diet are often following plans that cut out entire food groups or macronutrients which is leading them to an inability to stick to the given program due to their restrictive nature giving them a poor relationship with food. Instead of seeking education on the fundamentals of nutrition they blindly follow the shiny new advertising of the latest fad diet. Will some of these fad diets work? Yes, but they are not beneficial to the long term success of the dieter nor do these programs typically educate the person participating on how to be healthier and more active.
The 1980’s are widely regarded as the start of the fitness revolution where dietary fat was seen as the sole enemy to those looking to get into better shape. Whereas now we know dietary fat as one of the leading nutrients our body needs to stay hormonally balanced and to aide in recovery from exercise. Along came further scare of fats in the 1990’s and now eggs were public enemy number one. This brought upon an irrational fear of the cholesterol in egg yolks being bad for us, which from a study done by K. Mayurasakorn in the Journal of the Medical Association of Thailand it was shown that eating eggs every day actually raises the good cholesterol levels of our body and even provides us with necessary fats that we need for day to day living. Presently we are seeing many different things being touted as the new number one enemy of those that want to diet, but none bigger than that of the carbohydrate. Diets such as Atkins, South Beach, Paleo, and Keto are the biggest names featuring this growing fear of carbohydrates. It is honestly put best as an irrational fear as studies have shown that lower carbohydrate diets are not superior than diets balanced in macronutrients as long as a caloric deficit below a person’s caloric maintenance intake is sustained.
“A closing point I want to make has been demonstrated in Hu et al’s recent meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials comparing the effects of low-carb and low-fat diets on metabolic risk factors. Despite subtle differences, in a total of 23 trials (2788 subjects) a rather anticlimactic lack of significant therapeutic advantage was seen in any particular type of diet. Notably, the low-carb treatments ranged from 4 to 45% carbohydrate. This reinforces the principle that we humans are extremely versatile when it comes to diet. We can achieve excellent health on a very wide range of macronutrient compositions. The supremacy of a single type of diet (e.g., low-carb or low-fat) simply lacks evidence.” -Alan Aragon, M.S.
Restriction of entire food groups and macronutrients often leads to an over obsessive mentality that food is working against us and not for us. Many times people will take an extremist mentality, going all or nothing with their new eating habits once dieting, labeling foods as good and bad or as clean and dirty, instead of seeing food as fuel for the body and seeing the impactful benefits it provides. Steven Bratman, MD coined this extremist mentality orthorexia nervosa by detailing that it “indicates an unhealthy obsession with eating healthy food.” More often than not this unhealthy restriction of certain foods and nutrients from obsessive behavior leads to only short term success for dieters and does not bring them closer to an understanding of the fundamentals of nutrition and being able to carry over long term success of a healthy body weight and a healthy mind for the rest of their lives.
The most important element in creating a successful diet while maintaining a positive relationship with food is to simplify the education. However, a problem with gaining a more solid foundation featuring the principles of nutrition is that there is so much misinformation already out there and readily available. You can easily get lost in too much detail or pointed in the wrong direction by a bad source and spend too much time focusing on something inaccurate. You should always take a science based approach when it comes to the fundamentals of nutrition. Taking this approach will provide you with proven research and results as opposed to just what sounds right or what someone with a nice physique has told you about. The basics that are necessary to understand is that the calories (energy that we take into our body from foods) versus the energy expenditure (calories that are burned through resting metabolic rate and daily activity) is what creates the basic caloric deficit or surplus in the overall energy balance making us either lose or gain weight. More important than what we eat it is how much we eat, as this was shown in a study by Richard Surwit in the American Journal of Clinical Nutritionwhere “results showed that a high sucrose content in a hypoenergetic … diet did not adversely affect weight loss.”
Eating smaller portions is a guaranteed method to reduce the calories being consumed on a daily basis in order to jump start a mindset for weight loss. Unfortunately, some bring themselves to an extremist mentality eating much too little which can be detrimental to the metabolism and lead to even more harmful situations such as developing an eating disorder like anorexia. In order to combat this it is best only to slightly reduce the portions by opting for smaller sizes of overall meals or sticking to one serving instead of two. A person should plan to consciously decrease their portions in minimal amounts through focusing on eating a portion that is only slightly less than what it has been previously as to avoid any negative repercussions of major calorie restriction. Perhaps you find that you eat bigger portions due to an increased appetite. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommend that “if you feel hungry between meals, eat a healthy snack, like a piece of fruit or small salad, to avoid overeating during your next meal.”
It is quickly learned for anyone that has made the decision to lose weight and lead a healthy lifestyle that there needs to be a relationship built between nutrition and exercise. Whereas you can lose weight through dieting alone with a caloric deficit it will increase the rate of weight loss plus improve your overall health to implement an exercise routine. Exercise alone, however, is often not going to be enough to fix a poor diet. This has been shown time and time again through individuals that lead an active lifestyle that still are unable to achieve a loss in weight from not following a proper diet with the purpose of weight reduction. However, in a study by Christina J. Paez done at the University of New Mexico it was shown that subjects who performed exercise along with a diet consisting of an energy deficit achieved greater amounts of weight loss and were able to maintain the results well after the study concluded.
The ever growing problem of the inability to diet in order to lose weight is not only based on the misconception that what you eat matters more than how much you eat, but it is that we already know enough. If we already know enough then why isn’t the tide shifting? According to studies done and published in the Los Angeles Times 42% of the world’s population will be obese by 2030. There is no greater gift that we have received than that of life and to ensure that we are able to live these lives in whichever way we desire we must fight to maintain healthy body weights. “Public health experts have concluded that the best way to attack the obesity crisis is to prevent people from becoming obese in the first place” (Los Angeles Times). That sounds fairly obvious, but it’s not being placed into practice. There are too many people attempting to educate themselves once already overweight or in an unhealthy state instead of arming themselves to keep the problem from occurring. In order to combat this growing epidemic of unhealthy body weights with a proper ability to lose weight and diet successfully an understanding must be reached that the scientific fundamentals of weight loss through an energy deficit combined with regular exercise are needed by overweight individuals. The choice is simply to learn more about the subject and put the subject into practice or to shorten our life spans through our own blatant ignorance.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. “Healthy Eating for Healthy Weight: Portion Size.” 2012.
Hu, T et al. “Effects of Low-Carbohydrate Diets Versus Low-Fat Diets on Metabolic Risk Factors: A Meta-Analysis of Randomized Controlled Clinical Trials.” 2012.
Mayurasakorn, K et al. “High-Density Lipoprotein Cholesterol Changes After Continuous Egg Consumption in Healthy Adults.”Journal of the Medical Association of Thailand.91.3 (2008): 400-407.
Los Angeles Times. “42% of American Adults Will Be Obese.“ Melissa Healy. 2012.
Steven Bratman. “Orthorexia Nervosa.” Steven Bratman, M.D., 2010.
Surwit, Richard S. et al. “Metabolic and Behavioral Effects of a High-Sucrose Diet During Weight Loss.”The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition65.4 (2012): 908-915. Print.
University of New Mexico. “Exercise vs. Diet in Weight Loss.” Exercise and Sport Science Reviews. Christina J. Paez et al. 2000.
World Health Organization. “WHO | Obesity and Overweight.”
Summer is always closer than you think and so this means that the idea of being out in public wearing nothing but a bathing suit in front of everyone crosses many of our minds on a regular basis. For some it is an opportunity to show off what hard work and discipline will get you while others are panicking to find a perfect diet that will let them shed the last few pounds. According to data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey put out by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention up to 68% of all adults are overweight. Saying that the majority of people will be disappointed in their dieting efforts isn’t a hunch, it’s a fact. We are a society that loves to diet to lose weight, but can’t do it successfully.
Dieting hasn’t always been a concern for people. In fact, before the first recorded diet comprised of consuming only liquid calories from alcohol in 1087 by King William I overweight people were seen to be of greater wealth and of more importance. A bigger belt size meant a bigger wallet in those times, but my how things have changed. Now it seems that the thinner the individual the more successful they are perceived.
In the beginning of the 20th century dieting began to take shape featuring ideas such as, the Inuit diet where participators would eat only meat or fat, and George Harrop’s diet in which a person only consumed bananas and fat free milk. Later into the 1960s a popular dieting system was developed by Jean Nidetch that was pillared by ideas of group support, encouragement and following a style of smarter eating and healthier living. With this program members would meet weekly to share experiences and gain information from one another on how to achieve better results in their efforts. The program proved to be so successful that it is still widely used today under the same name as it started with, Weight Watchers.
Unfortunately for society there isn’t just one diet though. There are literally hundreds of fad diets and styles of eating that are available. How are you supposed to know which one is right? How are you supposed to tell one that is focused on getting you to better health instead of just taking your hard earned money? The weight loss industry was worth a staggering $60.9 billion in 2010 alone according to a report done by Marketdata Enterprises, so to think that all diets are in it for the good of your health would be quite naïve. Every time you open a magazine there is a new perfect diet to follow. Watch an interview for the new blockbuster movie out this weekend and you’ll hear about how the lead actor got in shape for their role following some new diet gimmick. Dieting is everywhere in our society and it’s not going away anytime soon.
Temptation can wreck a diet in a matter of minutes. You have been successful in losing a substantial amount of weight to the point where friends and family are taking notice. You’ve stuck to your guns on this diet fad and it’s paid off. You feel better, but you’re not happy. You want to lose more weight and you are constantly being reminded of the fact that you can’t eat anything that you want. As you grocery shop the candy aisle taunts you with bright colors and tasty choices. The ice cream cartons call out to you as you’re trying to find frozen vegetables to complete your healthy dinners for the week. Then you get a phone call from your best friend asking you to come out to a restaurant for some company. You know the place well. It has delicious food, cheap drinks and a great atmosphere. You go and you’ll break your diet and be miserable. You don’t go and you’ll stick to your diet, but you’re still miserable because you missed out on a good time and your social life has become non-existent. You just can’t win in that scenario unless you change your outlook. Temptation is hard to beat, but if you give in every now and again then temptation subsides. In a study put out by The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition where participants ate a diet abnormally high in sugar content author Richard Surwit said, “We therefore conclude that the use of sucrose in a weight-loss regimen is unlikely to cause problems for the average patient, as long as total energy intake is restricted.”
Being burdened with an overwhelming amount of choices and kinds of diets, all which bring different information to the table claiming to be the right way to go, we are left with a society that flip-flops between diet programs and constantly yo-yos between overweight and attempting to diet. Due to this abundance of diet programs using contradictory information to achieve goals dieters are being guided down a very unsuccessful path. Typically these programs want to put focus on eating a certain way that consists of focusing on the intake of a particular nutrient and the exclusion of another nutrient in a person’s diet. These styles can range from not eating carbohydrates, lowering the amount of dietary fat eaten, the removal of all sugar or just not eating any food that has been processed. However, in a study done by The New England Journal of Medicine author Frank Sacks found that participants in four different dieting groups all featuring different nutrient intakes were able to successfully lose weight over three years as long as each person adhered to eating a lower total amount of calories each day. It would seem that the finer details of the diet programs are not necessarily the most important part as long as someone successfully follows a lower caloric intake on a day to day basis.
However, is our ability to successfully follow a diet necessarily our fault when something as common as stress is causing us to gain more weight? A study conducted at Yale University and published in Science Daily showed that non-overweight women who are vulnerable to the effects of stress are more likely to have excess abdominal fat, and have higher levels of the stress hormone cortisol. You can’t control all the situations you’re placed in and inevitably this is going to lead to stress, which in turn can lead to weight gain. Nonetheless, we absolutely can control the way that we react to a given situation which can lead to a decrease in stress and subsequently keep us from the unwanted gain in weight and give us the ability to follow a diet successfully.
The trend of dieting isn’t going to go away anytime soon. The desire to look better and feel better is always going to be important to our culture. We can, however, learn to lose weight successfully and to become healthier if we make an effort to change things. First, we need a do over with our education on the subject. Society needs to be grounded in factual scientific evidence of how weight loss is achieved successfully and not enamored with the next big diet craze or just what seems to be the popular route. Once we understand how it works fundamentally we can start to relax a bit and not sweat the small details. Restricting ourselves from foods we enjoy or avoiding events involving food like birthdays or weddings will lead to a self-destructive path featuring a feeling that weight loss is a burden on our social lives. Giving in a little when you’re putting in a lot of self-discipline to lose weight will only make the ends of dieting justify the means of eating less more understood.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. “National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey.”
Marketdata Enterprises. “U.S. Weight Loss Market Worth.” John LaRosa. [http://www.prweb.com/releases/2011/5/prweb8393658.htm].
Surwit, Richard S. et al. “Metabolic and behavioral effects of a high-sucrose diet during weight loss.”The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition65.4 (2012): 908-915.
The New England Journal of Medicine. “Comparison of Weight-Loss Diets with Different Compositions of Fat, Protein, and Carbohydrates.” Sacks, FM et al.
Yale University. “Stress May Cause Excess Abdominal.” ScienceDaily.
The key to fat loss is an energy deficit that can be created through a caloric deficit or increasing activity levels. However, too large of a deficit will be detrimental.
Aim for a loss of .5-1.5% of body weight weekly if the goal is fat loss.
Optimal fat loss is obtained through diet and weight training, not cardio. Weight training builds strength and muscle mass promoting a high rate of fat loss. Cardio can promote fat AND muscle loss when used improperly which is a very common problem. Cardio should be utilized more so to improve cardiovascular performance and endurance and not to achieve fat loss.
The majority of your intake should come from whole food sources for the purpose of getting micronutrients (vitamins/minerals) in your diet as well as your macronutrients (protein/fat/carbs).
Follow a general rule of 80/20 for your diet. 80% whole foods and 20% of whatever else you want.
There are no shortcuts. The road is paved through desire, dedication, and discipline.
The hierarchy of importance: Diet > Weightifting > Cardio
Without proper rest and recovery you will have diminishing returns.
Follow a weight training program with a focus on progressive overloading of the muscle. Whether that comes from increasing weight, reps, or both is up to you based on your goals. I, personally, would recommend focusing on a strength building based program for the majority of beginners that is 3-4 days a week ranging from 3-4 sets of 3-6 reps for each set with a primary focus on compound lifts (bench, squat, deadlift) each day. Barbell complexes are king. The heavier the weight that can be controlled for reps the better.
Stick to a diet plan for a minimum of 2-4 weeks. This will ensure that you get a good idea of how your body is reacting to the partitioning of nutrients and at the end of 4 weeks you can adjust the intake to reflect a change in body weight.
Do include cardio in your program but do not make it the primary focus. HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training) types of cardio are generally the best for fat loss goals. This has been proven through research to be the most beneficial for fat loss and lean body mass retention. A 30min session of cardio is sufficient 2-3 times a week maximum.
The most important thing to remember when following a dietary program for fat loss is that the caloric deficit is most important followed by your intake of protein. Next should be fats/carbs/fiber. Do not forget that too steep of a deficit will be very detrimental in the ability to maintain weight loss and your health in the long-term.
One perfect week will not make a great physique. One imperfect week will not make a bad physique.
Eat things that you love, but just do so in moderation. Follow the 80/20 rule and don’t stress over food.
When you eat does not matter in the broad scheme of things, but if you find yourself feeling a bit “weighed down” when eating carbohydrates then consume the majority of them in the evening before bed.
Weighing once a week to once every two weeks should be the absolute most often that you should step on a scale.
Dependant on how you feel and respond to a particular macronutrient intake (especially carbs) things can be adjusted to incorporate a lower daily intake, weekly or bi-weekly re-feeds, timing, or in rare cases and as my recommended last resort, low-carb dieting. This is a feeling out process which is why I recommend to follow a set dietary intake (macros) for 2-4 weeks before altering.
Fiber is likely the most important thing that you aren’t paying real attention to.
Drink more water.
The Final Word
Live your life passionately and be passionate about the people that surround you. Eating and exercise are a part of your existence and it does not make up all of who you are. Following a solid exercise plan and dietary intake will benefit your health and that’s an added bonus. Enjoy your time with the people around you — making it about them and not what foods are available — and find happiness in all of which you do. Obsessing over all the details of diets and exercise programs will lead you to stress and inconsistency. Being healthy comes not just from what you consume or your activities, but from your mental and emotional disposition.
The nutrition page has been completed and can be accessed in it’s entirety here. This section will continue to be updated with new articles and research as time goes on. Previous articles have been updated to reflect current research and information.
Below you will find the articles located on the nutrition page. Please feel free to look over these if you haven’t already and even if you have seen them before it is always a great idea to get a refresher on these topics.
Alan, what is your general philosophy on food sources regardless if the individuals is in a caloric surplus or deficit, the phrase “Clean Eating” is thrown around a lot. Could you shed some light on research or any information regarding utilizing different sources that may be considered bad and the impact it may/may not have on body composition?
You know that the cleanest food in the world is? Hydrogenated vegetable oil. It was originally developed for the purpose of making soap. Pretty damn clean, I’d say. On a more serious note, the “clean” label is very misleading when applied to individual foods. There’s no way a food can be judged in isolation from the rest of the diet. To give an example, most people would call celery a “clean” or healthy food, and ice cream a “dirty” or unhealthy food. In the far-fetched/hypothetical scenario of being forced to choose only one of those foods to survive on, guess which one would sustain your health (and ultimately your life) longer? Hopefully you chose ice cream over celery, unless you’re anxious to knock on Heaven’s door. The point is, labeling foods as clean or dirty ignores context, and ignoring context is just plain dumb. I think that’s it’s intuitively obvious that the diet should consist mostly of whole & minimally refined foods. But still, it’s not all that simple, since certain foods are significantly altered from their original state (i.e., whey protein powder), but still have positive impacts on health. I wrote an in-depth article on the “clean eating” topic here. It’s a long article but worth the read for anyone interested. I think it’s been very amusing to see the definition of “clean” vary widely according to highly subjective criteria.
The most perfect diet will not work if the person cannot adhere to the details that actually matter. A diet has to make sense physiologically and psychologically. Diets that leave both variables unaccounted for are usually setting up people for failure, rather than helping them reach their full potential.
What’s the correct depth for squatting? Is it full depth performed ass to grass (ATG) or is it parallel?
As with most things fitness related what you do depends completely upon your goals. You need to have a general idea for what direction you want to go in fitness wise before you figure out what kind of squat is best for you.
Let me get one thing out there straight off the bat though.. partial reps will not suffice. What I mean by partial rep is what you commonly hear as half or quarter squats. Sure, at first you may lack the mobility necessary to have a better range of motion for squatting and that is 100% okay when starting out. The big picture to take away is that you don’t make partial rep squatting a mainstay in your lifting arsenal.
Now, some of you that are a little more versed in fitness and weightlifting have heard a lot of talk about ATG (Ass to Grass) squats and parallel I’m sure. First, I want to come clean and say that I, unfortunately, have been someone that played a bit of an elitist role early in my lifting days of saying that if squats are not performed at full depth (ATG) then they don’t count. I couldn’t have been more wrong.
I’m getting a little ahead of myself here. Today we’re just going to set up the examples of the differences between the two depths, ATG and parallel, so that you may have a visual representation moving forward.
Notice the full depth hit at the bottom of the squat. This person couldn’t get any deeper without magically contorting their glutes completely under their pelvis. Typically an ATG depth squat is performed with an Olympic style high bar placement on the upper traps, more upright torso, narrower stance and closer grip.
Take note of the hip crease in relation to where the quad lies and knee is. Most often a powerlifting style parallel squat is performed with a low bar placement on the rear deltoids, angled torso, moderate to wide stance and a wider grip than that of the Olympic squat. Also, in relation to an ATG squat notice that the glutes are not in contact with the back of the legs.
How can you tell when you’ve hit parallel? Well, it can be very tricky at first. You’ll often think you have when you haven’t because there’s a mental barrier right around that parallel mark. The best advice I can give you is to squat to your optimal depth based on your range of motion and slowly progress in adding weight to adhere to that full range of motion for depth.
Another great tool is using an anal retentive spotter. Finding that parallel mark in squatting can be where a very fickle and experienced spotter can really come in handy. The key is to watch for the hip crease not for the hamstrings. Many people make the mistake of thinking a parallel squat is when the hamstrings are at a 90º angle to the rest of the leg, but that’s not the case. Here’s an example:
True parallel is a line connecting the top of the knee and the crease of the hip, parallel to the floor.
Also, just for your reference here is an example of a squat that is at the above parallel position.
Obviously we have some major differences in depth and style for squatting, but which squat depth is right? Is it parallel or full depth? Both of them are are right. It just completely depends on your goals.
You’ll definitely still be working your muscles even if the depth is above parallel, but just not to the extent that you will once you’ve hit and gone beyond the parallel plane. I’ll speak more on that in the second part to this series. The biggest reason to make sure to hit parallel, aside from getting a good amount of muscle activation, is going to be for purposes of competition of sport such as powerlifting.
Now hopefully you understand the differences between the depths of squat. Stay tuned for Part Two of this series where I will dive into detail of the scientific benefits to each depth of squat alongside the reasons both will be effective or ineffective based on your goals.
She lost a leg in a boating accident on a July 4th vacation trip with friends. Her leg was amputated below the knee. That’s bad enough, but before the accident she was a competitive powerlifter.
Most people will try to find any reason to stop pursuing their goals. They have the case of the “I don’t wannas” or “There’s not enough time” or even “It’s too hard”.
Do you think Alison ever gives those kind of excuses?
Don’t let obstacles stop you from doing what you love or achieving your goals. You have to break down those barriers and overcome the adversity placed before you. You are as tough as you allow yourself to be.
This is motivation. This is Alison McWeeny’s story.
Welcome to The Spartan Warrior, a blog dedicated to bringing the truth regarding nutrition and fitness to the public.
This website provides it's visitors with an ample amount of information backed by up to date science and research to arm them in the fight against 'broscience' and misinformation. Not only will you be provided with invaluable research, but you'll find easy recipes for healthy and delicious meals, sources of motivation, and a place where you don't have to leave feeling confused about your health.