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All too often, the instructions on these meal plans will contain advice like ‘take your chopped carrots’. Hang on a second… what chopped carrots? It’s a five-minute meal if you’ve already chopped your carrots – which will take most normal people a good 3 minutes at least.
And even the things that are included often take much longer in reality than the writers care to admit.
Then there are all the other things that take tons of time. You have to buy all that food remember? You need to get out your chopping board and the pots and pans. You need to wipe down the hob. Then you need to make the food, dish it up, eat it, wash up and put it all back.
Suddenly, that five minute meal just ended up taking you a good 35 minutes minimum. When you’re in a hurry, or you’re feeling stressed, 35 minutes is simply too long and most people won’t manage to stick with it.
And that’s to say nothing of the meals that don’t claim to be five minutes!
Are you really going to do all of that every single day? And what about the fact that you have to buy all those expensive ingredients and that they’re not really being fully utilized? There is a ton wrong with programs like this.
So what’s the answer?
The Right Approach
My advice is that you’re going to eat something sensible for your breakfast and your lunch and you’re going to snack smart.
But you can eat whatever you want for dinner.
Why is that?
Well, what many diet plans miss is the fact that eating is very social and it should be enjoyable. One of the hardest parts of dieting is saying to your friends that you can’t go out for dinner, can’t have that extra drink and can’t join them for cake. Most people can’t do it.
But even when you’re at home, unless your partner is on the same diet as you, you’re going to struggle. You now have to make two versions of dinner (5 minutes, huh?) and you’re going to miss out on the bonding of eating the same meal while you discuss your days. Again, there’s so much wrong here!
But breakfast and lunch don’t normally have this problem. Most of us grab breakfast on the way out the door and we grab lunch while at work, from a lunchbox. We eat alone and in a rush, it’s not romantic, not social and not fun. It’s functional – it’s fuel.
That makes this the perfect time to make sure you’re getting the right amount of calories, the right amount of protein etc. If you were dieting, then you’d eat low calorie meals packed with
nutrients. But you’re bulking, so you’re going to eat very high protein meals instead with lots of carbs and lots of saturated fat. This is when you can chow down on your eggs, on your chicken and steamed rice, on your protein cereal… this is when you can eat all the boring stuff your wife wouldn’t want to eat with you!
THEN when you get back, you can eat whatever you want for dinner (within reason) and be fairly safe that you’re meeting all your macronutrient goals (i.e. getting enough protein and carbohydrates).
At the same time, you’re going to track what you’re eating using MyFitness Pal or something similar and then you’re going to know whether you hit your targets or not after dinner. If not, one more protein shake you’re probably sorted!
Easy, Straight Forward Meals
Seeing as your breakfast and lunch don’t need to be exciting, there’s no reason you can’t create a few simple meals and just stick with those same things, time after time. Maybe you eat an avocado with tuna for breakfast, followed by two eggs. Maybe you eat the same salad with chicken every day for lunch. Because you’re eating this every day, it should be no problem to enter it into a tracker like MyFitness Pal, or to track your calories yourself!
And it also means you can choose things that fit easily into your routine.
And this is what’s really important. Imagine yourself doing this same thing every single day for the next ten years. Is it honestly sustainable? Will you still follow it even on the days when you’re tired and lazy and can’t be bothered? This might mean spending a little more money, or it might mean not eating quite as healthily as you could. But the number one requirement is that you do follow it and stick with it.
For example, in my old town, I used to go by a coffee shop every morning and stop by Morisons for lunch every afternoon. When I got my morning coffee, I would always pick up the ‘protein pot’ of eggs. It was a bit expensive but it was incredibly convenient and I liked it.
For lunch, I always got the Morrison’s salad or meal deal. The salad let me pile on the eggs and tuna for extra calories, while the meal deal let me have a sandwich that was packed with 40 grams of protein, as well as two eggs for my snack and a smoothie with loads of micronutrients. It only cost $4 and it was incredibly convenient to stop by and get the food.
And it was this convenience and taste that meant I stuck with it!
My plan to cook myself scrambled eggs every morning fell by the wayside meanwhile because it was just too much effort and involved washing pans before I left the house.
So think about your own routine. Are you passing by anywhere where you can get some protein? What food do you already enjoy that you could eat more of?
And of course if you’re struggling to pack on the calories, then you should look into the various different strategies you can use to get more. Adding more oil to your cooking for instance is an easy way to pack in more calories. Drinking glasses of whole milk will provide calories, saturated fat and protein. And avocados are a brilliant source of slow release energy.
Now you’re eating logically, it’s time to apply some of that logical approach to your training.
But first, let’s once again look at the technical side of things. Just how do you train to build muscle?
The first thing to understand is that you mustn’t be exerting yourself in terms of cardio. In other words, going on long runs won’t build muscle – in fact it will break down your muscle and use it for fuel.
Muscle – and especially the bigger, stronger muscle that is made from ‘fast twitch fiber’ – is not very energy efficient. This is to say, that big muscle requires energy simply to sustain and even more energy to use. If you are very hungry then or if you are placing big energy demands on your body, then your system will release ‘myostatin’ which signals the breakdown of muscle.
If you train too hard, you’ll trigger this response and break your muscle down!
So instead, the aim is to train just hard enough to encourage the body to build more muscle and to direct some of those calories and some of that protein here. This means you need to create a small amount of mechanical stress and muscle damage and you need to flood your muscles with chemicals known as ‘metabolites’. These include testosterone, growth hormone and IGF.Other Details
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