Q: I have a problem with my diet. I weigh 265 pounds at 6’2′, and I find it very difficult to eat 530 grams of protein a day. I get 275 to 300 grams per day, and I know that’s not enough to grow. I’m hoping you can give me an outline to go by. I look in books, but they usually discuss needs of people only up to 220 pounds. I want to eat enough to grow but still stay pretty lean so my midsection doesn’t get out of control. I’m pretty tight now, but I want to get up to 320 pounds so I can cut back down to 280. I am 100 percent natural, and I only take ZMA and creatine. My chest is 51 1/2 inches, legs 29 inches, arms 19 inches and calves 18 inches. I realize that these dimensions aren’t good enough for my height.
A: First of all, I think it’s a fallacy that you need to eat more than 500 grams of protein a day in order to grow muscle; 530 grams of protein works out to two grams for each pound of bodyweight in your case. It would be very difficult to assimilate that much protein every day unless you’re using steroids. One of the benefits of steroids is that they aid in protein assimilation. Since you’re a natural bodybuilder, you don’t have that advantage.
I always recommend eating 1.25 to 1.5 grams of protein for each pound of bodyweight. If you weigh 265 pounds, you should be eating between 331 and 400 grams of protein. If you eat six meals a day’which you should be doing’you’d need approximately 55 grams of protein at each meal to hit 331 grams per day. If you’re having trouble getting that much protein, try adding a few protein drinks to your daily diet. Two scoops of Pro-Fusion protein powder supply 45 grams of high-quality micellar-casein, whey and egg protein that you could easily drink between meals.
Once you’ve met your protein requirements, make sure the rest of your diet is up to standard. If you’re trying to gain more size, you need to eat plenty of complex carbohydrates. Foods such as potatoes, rice, oatmeal, oat bran, pasta and bread will provide the calories you need to pack on some muscle.
I recommend eating between two and 2.5 grams of carbohydrates for each pound of bodyweight. In your case you should be eating 530 to 662 grams of carbohydrates each day. If you’re trying to stay lean while you gain bodyweight, you can adjust your carbohydrate intake according to your energy needs. Eat fewer carbs on your off days and more on your training days.
You contradicted yourself when you said you want to get up to 320 pounds (a gain of 55 pounds) but still want to stay lean as you get bigger. If you gain that much weight, you’ll definitely gain some fat in the process. If you want to stay lean as you gain muscle, it’ll be a much slower progression.
Adding 10 pounds of lean muscle tissue will make you look much bigger than adding 55 pounds of fat and muscle. You’ll definitely be bigger by gaining 55 pounds, but you’ll look bigger by staying lean and gaining 10 to 15 pounds of muscle. It all depends on what you want to do. I suggest you figure out how many calories you need to slowly gain muscle without adding too much bodyfat. I believe that a little bodyfat is acceptable when you’re gaining muscle; however, you don’t want to keep adding more and more bodyfat as you attempt to add muscle mass.
Let’s look at the numbers we’ve put together so far. If you eat 331 grams of protein, that will be 1,324 calories (four calories per gram of protein x 331). If you eat two grams of carbohydrates for each pound of bodyweight, that will be 2,120 calories (four calories per gram of carbohydrates x 530). Add another 60 grams of fat, both from essential fats such as flaxseed oil and from foods such as beef and fish, and you can add another 540 calories to the total (nine calories per gram of fat x 60). That adds up to approximately 4,000 calories per day.
If you ate 4,000 calories per day, with 1,324 grams of protein, 2,120 grams of carbohydrates and 60 grams of fat, that breaks down to 33 percent protein, 53 percent carbohydrates and 14 percent fat. Give that diet a try and see what happens. If you find that you’re putting on too much fat, you could decrease your calories while maintaining the same amount of protein. Just cut back slightly on your carbohydrate intake, especially on your low-activity days. ALL Q: I’m 24 years old, 5’10’ and weigh 200 pounds. I work out four days a week’two on/one off, two on/two off. I eat six well-balanced meals, including protein bars, and supplement with whey protein and creatine. I’ve made some impressive gains with these supplements. My workout partner, who’s the same age and height and was the same weight, is getting bigger than ever. We work out the same and eat exactly the same thing. I told him that I want to make bigger gains, the way he’s doing, and he said to get off the supplements and start taking Equabuterol or D-bol [Dianabol, or methandrostenolone]. Equabuterol is what he uses. He said that it’s a legal steroid used for horses that has no side effects in humans. Here are my questions: Is that true? What are these products? Are they safe, and should I try them? Will they produce the big body I’m looking for? Should I tell him that he’s full of crap or not? He is making huge gains.
A: Let me ask you something. If a steroid is designed to make a horse bigger and stronger, how in the world could you possibly think it’s safe for a human being to take the same drug and experience no side effects? What your workout partner is doing is taking a steroid (and no, it’s not legal) that is basically an artificial form of testosterone, the predominately male hormone that is responsible for muscle mass and strength gains. The reason he’s making such great progress is that he’s got more testosterone than you could possibly produce naturally, thanks to the drugs.
Your partner is definitely mistaken if he thinks that these powerful drugs won’t produce any side effects. As IRONMAN publisher John Balik is fond of saying, ‘There’s no free lunch.’ In other words, you can’t just take a ‘magic pill’ and expect to get bigger and stronger without any consequences.
The common side effects of anabolic steroids are kidney and liver damage, increased LDL cholesterol (the bad kind), decreased HDL cholesterol (the good kind), water retention, possible male-pattern baldness and gynecomastia. In general, taking an outside source of testosterone will disrupt your hormonal levels, and many of the short-term side effects take place when your body tries to keep everything in balance.
So, to answer your question: Yes, these drugs will work for you just as they do for your partner, but not without side effects. Most side effects from anabolic steroids are dose- and frequency-related. In other words, the more you take and the longer you take them, the more you increase your risk of health-related consequences.
In my opinion, as a natural bodybuilder you should keep doing what you’ve been doing. You said you’re making good progress. I say, stay with that game plan and continue to progress naturally. That way you can be assured that the muscle mass you add to your frame is yours and yours alone’not a result of artificial hormones that you’re pumping into your body.
I realize that it’s frustrating to watch your training partner pass you up in size and strength gains, but you have to understand where that progress is coming from. Once he stops taking the drugs (and he will have to stop eventually), he’ll lose the size and strength that he acquired while he was on them. In fact, he might actually go through a period of lower-than-normal testosterone output, depending on how long he continues to take the drugs.
I’ve said it before in this space, but I’ll say it again. The real purpose of bodybuilding is to create a new body through weight training, nutrition and supplementation. You’re not only developing your physique, but you’re building your health and longevity as well. Any drugs that accelerate the process take away from the whole idea of bodybuilding. You’re on the right track by building your body naturally. Keep up the great work and follow your own path. Years from now you’ll be glad you did.
Editor’s note: John Hansen has won the Natural Mr. Olympia and is a two-time Natural Mr. Universe winner. Visit his Web site at www .naturalolympia.com. You can write to him at P.O. Box 3003, Darien, IL 60561, or call toll-free 1-800-900-UNIV (8648). IM