Gaining muscle with Occam's Protocol – calories matter
For anyone who has wanted to have a bit, or a lot more muscle, you’ll know that the world is full of promises and photos of guys with abs.
I’m a little sick of the guys with abs.
Not because I don’t admire their commitment to their physique, but more because I’m pretty sure 90% of them got those abs spending the equivalent of a full time job at the gym, learning nutrition, organizing their food, etc.. and most likely not on the program they are being used to advertise.
But abs are helpful in goal setting – simple goals work the best, so ‘abs’ could work great, if that’s what you want.
For me, it’s about ‘muscle’. Which actually means ‘muscle size’. Which actually means ‘ looking more masculine’. Which really means ‘looking like a man, not a boy’. That’s the simple answer. The detailed version is that I want to look like Hugh Jackman as Wolverine. I think probably a lot of goals guys set for gym training and weight loss actually have this as their base goal. Men want to look like men. Likewise, women want to look like women, hence the notes Tim made in the book about maintaining a shapely figure while working out.
So, we’ve covered the ‘fat loss’ goal already – slow carb eating, some supplements and a little moderate exercise can do wonders for this, in record amounts of time. People are loving this fact, and I think it’s great.
Gaining muscle feels a little more complicated, because there’s a hidden detail – ‘gaining muscle’ whilst ‘not gaining fat’. So that’s 2 goals in 1. So the approach is going to naturally be a little more detailed.
The Occam’s Protocol workouts are delivering some pretty incredible results, when I compare what I’ve achieved at gyms in the past. Generally I expected 3 months to some decent strength gains, and thought that visible results were something that someone gained and achieved over years of dedicated effort and work on food and exercise.
Boy was I wrong!
In 3 weeks, on Occam’s Protocol, and thanks to Occam’s Feeding, I have gained visible amounts of muscle, and the scales back up that fact. To address the second goal, I’m not gaining fat, at least none that’s visible, and in fact I suspect I’m losing a little, with the shape changes that are occurring. I’ll be doing another detailed measurement this coming weekend – a week ago I was at 11.5%, using calipers, so I expect reality (a DEXA body scan or similar) might show 13%. That’s good for now.
So what’s the problem?
You might well ask. Well, I’m into details, and the book mentions gaining 2.5 pounds per week. I’m not. In fact, recently I have slowed down a lot. And this is the first time I’ve been concerned with the effectiveness of the book’s programs.
So, I went back to ‘school’ and re-read the relevant chapters.
As I read, it slowly dawned on me. Having gained almost 10 pounds of body weight, my caloric needs are now totally different. Especially to keep gaining muscle.
I have had a turbulent time figuring this out, because I already felt like I was eating much more than I was on slow carb, and it’s a difficult change to make.
However, having gone through some ideas, and loose action plans, I decided it was time to knuckle down and get back to hard data. So, what are the numbers, I wondered.
In the first 3 weeks of gaining muscle on Occam’s Protocol, my food intake looked like this:
- 1/3 cup lentils (before cooking), 4 eggs, spinach 1x daily
- 1 cup beans, 1 portion meat, veges – repeat 3x daily
- add 1/3 cup brown rice (before cooking) with 2x meals daily
- 1 protein drink daily
- 1 protein drink with workouts
Simple. I liked it. It got me some great gains. So what’s the problem? Simple, it’s now not enough.
So, I figured, well I can be smarter than this, I’ll go to the following:
- 1/2 cup lentils, 2 eggs, 2 egg whites, spinach 1x daily
- 1 cup beans, 1 portion meat, veges – repeat 3x daily
- add 1/2 cup brown rice (before cooking) to 2x meals daily
- 2 protein drinks daily
- 1 protein drink with workout
Surely, that’s plenty I thought. So I spent a couple of days doing this, and of course I am gaining some body mass along the way. However, I still wondered.
So, I decided to pull out the calculator.
The recommendation: 20 calories x (pounds of lean bodyweight +10 lbs)
This gets me approx: 20 x 154lbs = 3080 calories per day.
-Pause for a moment as I recount the days when I tried to calculate if I should eat 1600 or 1800 calories-
Now to the food diary:
- Breakfast: 220 (eggs) + 320 (lentils) + 40 (spinach)
- Average meal: 450 calories x3 per day
- Average rice addition: 150 calories x2 per day
- Protein drink (made with water): 110 calories x2
- Occasional teaspoon of almond butter
This leaves me with a total of:
Dismal! That’s 630 calories short, every day. I had no idea I was eating this amount!!
Sure it’s a good amount, but clearly this shows why I’m not gaining 2.5 pounds per week. In my attempts to keep things simple, and leaving the calories out of it, I’ve been cheating myself out of muscle! As we know, calories aren’t the only game in town, however they are a good indication of what’s coming in at least. So now, I’ve got to revise my approach, as my meal times are so full of food that I will have to add extras at other times.
My plan of attack options:
- Include milk in the protein drinks x2, for a total of 240 extra calories
- Add in a protein bar each day, for an extra 200-300 calories
- Add in protein shake with banana and almond butter
- Add extra meat with meals (unlikely to fit it in)
- Accept and continue
Now, to me, number 5 is a non-starter, as I might as well not be training if that’s my attitude.
So I am looking at 1, 2 and 3 as the most likely to succeed. I’m taking PAGG which is helping with body fat, and my other four hour body principles I’ll keep to, like hot lemon water with meals, and low caffeine during the week (green tea only).
A great lesson learned, and a new adventure to be enjoying.. 6 months ago I never imagined I’d be spending time figuring out how to possible eat more than 4 meals a day.
Do you have any tips? Have you been gaining muscle and had to adjust your eating?
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