Q: I’m from London, and I’ve done commercial modeling for three years. I haven’t gotten good results from my workouts and I need your advice. I’m planning to take steroids, so what do you recommend? I’ve seen your pictures, and your physique is amazing. I’ve been training for three years now. I work out five days a week, two or three muscle groups each day: back and biceps, chest and triceps, shoulders, legs and abs. I train 1 1/2 hours at each workout. My diet is not the greatest. I do eat two meals per day, and I know I’m supposed to eat six meals because I need to gain weight. Currently I’m at 132 pounds, and I want to be at 154. I’ve taken weight gainers, creatine and protein shakes, but they didn’t work for me. I’m a male model, and I want to be in good shape. Which steroid should I use? I tried Deca-Durabolin last time.
A: Trust me when I say this: Steroids are not the answer to your problem. You seem to be putting a lot of effort into your training but none into your diet. Although you’re taking a lot of supplements, you admit that your diet is not the greatest.
If you want to increase your bodyweight by 20 pounds, you need to follow a much better diet. When it comes to gaining or losing weight successfully, diet is the key.
You’re doing the work in the gym to add mass, but without the support of the proper number of calories and optimal distribution of protein, carbohydrates and fats, your body will never be able to recuperate from your hard workouts. The nutrients you put into it will give you much better workouts as well as add muscle tissue after the training sessions are over. Because you’re eating only two meals a day, it’s impossible for you to receive the nutrients you need to develop more mass and increase your bodyweight. Even if you were to resort to steroids, you wouldn’t get the full benefit from them because your nutrition program is lacking.
The first thing you should do is start eating six meals per day. Set it up so you’re eating a meal every three hours. By constantly feeding your body, you’re supplying the nutrients needed for growth.
You need protein to rebuild your muscle tissue. Protein is the only macronutrient that contains all the amino acids you need to grow new muscle tissue. Weight training tears down and damages muscle tissue; only by eating complete protein foods that contain all the essential amino acids can you rebuild the muscles bigger and stronger.
Each of the six meals you eat each day should contain some form of complete protein. Concentrate on foods like eggs, egg whites, chicken, turkey, steak, lean beef, fish and protein powders.
I would recommend eating 1.25 to 1.5 grams of protein for each pound of bodyweight. At 132 pounds you should be eating 165 to 200 grams of protein each day. That comes out to approximately 27 to 33 grams of protein—30 grams average—at each of your six daily meals.
Carbohydrates are also important. They supply the energy you need for your workouts and restore glycogen to the depleted muscle cells after a weight-training session. Even more important for you, carbohydrates are a great source for gaining weight.
Complex carbohydrates like oatmeal, brown rice, sweet potatoes, whole grain or Ezekiel bread and oat bran contain lots of fiber and are digested slowly by your body. That prevents a rapid rise in your blood sugar and therefore doesn’t lead to fat deposition. So the carbs are more likely to be stored in muscle cells as glycogen instead of in fat cells because of the slower digestion rate. The stored glycogen will provide you with more energy for your heavy weight-training workouts.
When I was trying to gain muscle, I increased the complex carbohydrates in my diet. Although I kept my protein intake at 1.25 to 1.5 grams per pound of bodyweight, I ate at least two to three grams of carbohydrates for each pound of bodyweight. A typical meal would contain one source of protein and two sources of complex carbohydrate.
At 132 pounds you should be eating anywhere from 260 to 400 grams of carbs per day. You need to force your body to gain weight, and the best way to do that is to drastically increase your carbohydrate intake. That will not only help you add weight from the extra calories but also give you more energy and strength for your workouts. The more weight you can use in your weight training, the more mass you’ll build. It all works together to help you create a whole new physique.
The last macronutrient is fat. Fats contain twice as many calories per gram as protein or carbs. One gram of fat equals nine calories while one gram of either protein or carbohydrate contains only four calories. By injecting enough fat in your diet, you can really increase your calorie intake.
Essential fatty acids found in flaxseed oil and salmon should be a part of your diet every day. I eat salmon at least three times a week and supplement with flaxseed oil by adding it to my protein drinks every day. These essential fatty acids—a.k.a. omega-3 fats—have to be obtained through the diet because your body cannot process them on its own. They also help build muscle by making your muscle cells more sensitive to insulin, which helps pull carbs and amino acids into the muscle cells.
Get to work on your nutrition plan, and you’ll be amazed at how much progress you can make. Remember to put all those extra calories to work by training even harder in the gym. Your calories and carbs will provide you with the energy to have much more intense workouts by lifting more resistance. Some bodybuilders use the bulking-up period as an excuse to just get fat and eat whatever they want. The right way to bulk up is to eat the right foods—complete proteins, complex carbs and essential fats—and then use those calories in the gym to build new muscle.
Editor’s note: John Hansen has won the Mr. Natural Olympia and is a two-time Natural Mr. Universe winner. Check out his Web site at www.NaturalOlympia.com, or send questions or comments to [email protected]. Look for John’s DVD, “Natural Bodybuilding Seminar and Competitions,” along with his book, Natural Bodybuilding, and his training DVD, “Real Muscle,” at his Web site or at Home Gym Warehouse, www.Home-Gym.com. For information on the new Natural Olympia Fitness Getaway visit NaturalOlympia.com. IM