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:

  1. Include milk in the protein drinks x2, for a total of 240 extra calories
  2. Add in a protein bar each day, for an extra 200-300 calories
  3. Add in protein shake with banana and almond butter
  4. Add extra meat with meals (unlikely to fit it in)
  5. 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?

You might be interested in reading these too:

  1. Want Results? Just 2 weeks on Occam's Protocol… results! I've done 3 'A' Workouts, and 2 'B' Workouts, across 2.5 weeks. The numbers really speak for themselves, I have seen gains on all lifts and exercises, and have seen a gain on...
  2. 4 Hour Body Cheat Sheet: Occam’s Protocol Workout Sheet Hey everyone, as it's time for me to start on the Occam's Protocol workout, I wanted to share with everyone the 'cheat sheet' that I've made up to take to the gym with...
  3. Starting Occam’s Protocol workouts Well, the time has come for the next phase of our Four Hour Body experiment. Having gone through a fat loss phase, using the slow carb meals and nothing more, we're moving on...

Like This!

Share this with friends:

13 Responses to Gaining muscle with Occam's Protocol – calories matter

  • Justin says:

    Great job Luke. Didn’t they film Wolverine somewhere up by you?
    As I was reading I was wondering why you didn’t mention milk in your diet. Have you experimented with LOMAD at all?

    I started going a different direction with my training that isn’t a 4HB method and have been doing pretty good. Working out at home makes it hard to do Occam’s but I am definitely getting stronger. Oh how I miss the gym, thats what happens when you have a kid I guess.

    • Luke says:

      Hey Justin thanks!

      It’s amazing how much this coast gets used for films actually.. watching something on TV, or a movie, can become a ‘spot the location’!
      Good question on the milk. I’m pretty intolerant to regular milk, and haven’t drunk it for about 5 years. Though I’ve had success drinking lactose free milk, it’s higher in sugar, and it’s much more expensive. I would consider the organic milk Tim mentions if it wasn’t $5 a bottle, but I’d prefer to find an alternative, though milk’s sugar and protein balance is fairly ideal.
      Your workouts sound interesting! Glad you’re making gains with them. I think part of the 4HB is to experiment, and have a 4HB mindset and approach to anything you do.. and that includes workouts and meals that might be different to what’s in the book!
      I’ll remember to cherish my next gym visit and appreciate it, just so I can think back when I’m a dad.

      All the best,

  • Glenn Dougherty Jr says:

    Hey Luke,

    Good to see you’re making adjustments. I’m starting my first week of Pre-hab today before I start Occam’s Protocol. I will test my strength imbalances after two weeks, and if all is fine, I will be on schedule for Occam’s by April 3. I have been preparing myself for Occam’s in learning about which supplements I want to take. I already have the CQ. I will purchase the Glutamine and I will also purchase a weight gainer. You may want to look into it for more calories and a more nutrient dense protein. I personally like BSN products. They’ve worked for me in the past, but I know everyone is different. I will take True Mass as a part of adding more calories with Occam’s. I’m starting with the Bod Pod on April 1st. I’ll share my progress as well and any other things that I come across when I start my journey.

    Keep up the good work

    • Luke says:

      Hey Glenn, thanks for your comment.

      Thanks for your suggestion on the weight gainer – it’s been an interesting couple of weeks, checking the scales to see if I’ve made any progress. I’m happy to report I have now cracked the 160lbs mark, and today it’s looking more like 161, which I’m really happy about. My modifications have been: 1/2 cup (before cooking) of brown rice with 2 meals, and 1/2 cup (before cooking) red lentils with breakfast – both up from 1/3 cup, plus I’ve gone to a full protein shake in the morning, made with milk (not water), and also another whole protein shake every day, during the day, plus a half shake at night. It’s a lot to get in!!
      Look forward to hearing your progress!


  • Hi Luke

    I am following your blog with great interest. I have followed the SCD and now I’m doing The Last Mile (which is a LOT harder than it looks). I am dying to go back to the variety offered by SCD+Occams (i.e. +rice +quinoa).

    Anecdotally your progress looks good, but in the spirit of motivation etc would you be willing to share your stats, supplements and photos with us? Besides PAGG are you taking Creatine, CG, Cassein etc?



  • Sven says:

    Hey Luke,

    been following your blog and I have done the SCD for I think 4 weeks now. I didn’t really loose weight, which I do not mind but it seems to be more of a transformation. Anyways I stick to the SCD as good as I can but I want to gain some more weight now . The problem is I lost about 19lbs twice through fasting and lite workout and have found the foundation that I wanted. Now it is about gaining lean muscle. My goal would be 20 lbs. by keeping the fat in check.

    I am 6.1 and about 185lbs. I calculated that I need to eat about 3100cal a day. Now for me it is not that easy as I just learned to eat less, loool through those fasts and cleanses. In addition I do not know how to get 3100 cals down and in the future more as it progresses. An additional problem is I have a hard time, and I am not joking, an incredible hard time eating beans and lentils etc. It kills me. I tried enzymes and all these goodies, will not work. So how do I get those cal in without junking in up with too much simple carbs. I have been trying but I just cannot eat that much.

    I thought about weight gainers but they all include Maltodextrin, which is basically PURE JUNK plus sugar or sweeteners. And I do not do sweeteners at all that stuff is highly toxic and pure poison. Anyways. Any ideas?

    Keep up this great blog.

    Make It A Great Day

    • Luke says:

      Hey Sven,

      Really appreciating your thoughtful comments on our blog lately. Thanks!

      I think the ‘transformation’ (vs weight loss) is common, as the high protein levels trend to help people build muscle their body has been wanting to build, but hasn’t had the protein available to do so.

      So, on to your goals now. I think at your size, your calculation sounds about right – it’s possible in fact that you might need more like 3400 calories, depending on which calculation you use, and what your currently body fat (and therefore lean muscle weight) is. I’ve been aiming for 3100 myself, and my lean body mass is most likely less than yours (as I am 165lbs total).

      I know what you mean about getting the calories down. I have to admit not feeling all that healthy when I’m doing so, and not from it being bad food, but just seems to be a general stress on the body. Of course, the fact that it’s the same time as these workouts and the repairing that goes on afterwards also has a lot to do with my feeling that way. I think it’s quite healthy to eat at this level to achieve these goals.

      In terms of gaining lean muscle, I think the keys are to include ample protein in your diet – probably around 200 – 215g per day, and to also make sure you’re getting close to your required calories. I say close, because anything over is still likely to get stored (as fat), and therefore I know some people are opting to aim to eat just a little less than their optimum amount, so that they don’t go over. This most likely means muscle gain will be a little slower, however I expect there’s less chance of gaining fat doing this. Personally, I am aiming to cover my base calorie level every day, and some days most likely I do go a little over. I’m very eager to see my body mass develop, as I do the workouts, and I believe my frame is deserving of an extra 15 or 20lbs (I am 6 foot).

      I know what you mean about many of the weight gainers, protein bars, etc having a lot of ingredients you’d rather not be putting into your system. I would recommend going for a clean protein powder, that’s unflavored. You can use this in water, or milk. Though milk is ruled out of the slow carb diet, some people use the LOMAD (liter of milk a day) principle to get their calories up. Of course, this is a personal choice, as with milk comes lactose and simple sugars.

      Brown rice and quinoa are recommended in the book, though I’m not big on either, as I find them unsatisfying, but it’s up to you – a serving is an easy 150 calories, and a few of these over a day really adds up.

      Another option is to look at nuts, like almonds especially, as a great source of good fats, protein and calories. Including almond butter in a protein shake or cooking is easy, and tasty, plus it tips in another 100-200 calories per serving, which is good. I haven’t heard of many people using a banana, as Tim suggests, in shakes, but it’s another option to include some more calories.

      Depending on your body type and how you gain/store fat, it may be that the workouts are enough to have your body developing mainly muscle.

      As well as diet, supplements like SloNiacin, ChromeMate and Alpha Lipoic Acid could be considered, as they all counteract blood sugar spikes, and therefore should limit fat gain.

      I have a hard time going all in on a 900 calorie shake, like I’ve seen some guys do (2 scoops protein, 2 cups milk almond butter, egg, etc).. but people do it and don’t gain any fat.

      Let me know what you think – I’ll be interested to hear how you get on.

      All the best,

      • Sven says:

        Hey Luke,

        thank you very much for your reply.

        I am using Optimum Nutrition Pro Complex Double Rich Chocolate Protein Powder. This is to me the best protein powder and it tastes pretty good to me and the amount of junk is kept to a minimum.

        I usually do 2 scoops in the morning with 2% milk, 2 scoops of peanut butter (will switch to almond probably, less fat) and a Banana. I also drop my supplements into it. I crack open the caps and pour it in. Some ice on top and then blend it. That has been working very well.

        I think I might be doing 2 of these one in the morning and one at night to get some extra cal. This also would give me about 120grams of protein right there. Then I have 2 meals, Lunch and dinner and in the afternoon one of these protein bars (30-40g of protein) I had told you about in another post. I also keep taking the enzymes for protein digestion because what does it do you any good if you eat all this protein and the body cannot break it down and absorb it.

        I will be watching my calorie intake more closely to see if I can get to 3200-3400 cal /day. I will be adding brown rice to the meals. I was also thinking of brown rice pasta, ever tried it?? It tastes pretty good and you can use it in a lot of dishes.

        I drink almost a gal of water a day, always with lemon juice.

        I take my AGG/PAGG as well as Creatine and Glutamine and a B-Complex and Multivitamin.

        I also added CISSUS as I have a shoulder issue and it helps me lifting this heavy. I have only done a total of 5 workouts so far but have upped the weight on all exercises over40lbs. I mean I can see some changed already it is crazy.

        One thing that I am trying is the Master Amino Acid Pattern, a so called predigested protein. The problem is that protein takes to long to be absorbed so if you take it pre workout you probably miss the window of opportunity. The Master Amino Acid Pattern is absorbed fully in 25min and it provides 99% Net Nitrogen Utilization. I think it works. I cannot drink a shake before working out, especially when pushing so hard that I am reaching for the trash can when I am done. That shake wouldn’t last.

        Well I will keep experimenting and will keep you updated.

        Really enjoy your blog, you guys do a great job.

        Make It A Great Day


  • Shig says:


    I’ve been stuck in a little dilemma of my own (been doing the SCD since February along with an intense Crossfit program). Whilst seeing convincing results, I didn’t actually like the results, leaner little muscles on a little frame. It’s been bugging me for so long i’ve actually derailed a little. So seeing your post in regards to the finer points of the Occam’s feeding has given me some new found hope (and a lot less doubt) in giving it a go to build a better frame, and chisel the fat away later!

    As my BMR is 1430.6 calories (I’m female) and my maintenance calories are around 2025, by your calculations i should be consuming 2348.8 (my lean mass is 107.44). Which sounds about right (if not a little low)…but my god is it going to be hard to make sure I’m consuming that much! I’m a bit of a squirrel when it comes to eating (and I can forget to eat 2/3 meals a day without difficulty). LOMAD and home-made protein bars are GO!

    Thank you SO MUCH for posting this!

    • Luke says:

      Hey and thanks for your comment. I’m pumped to hear this article has helped you out! I know what you mean about muscle development with slow carb.. you will get results, but they’re not going to be big, thick muscles that represent the effort you’re putting in with CrossFit.
      I’m really excited for you – sounds like maybe it was a few too many weeks of the same thing. Think about switching things up every 6 to 8 weeks.. there will be somewhat different results from different approaches, but overall, you’ll develop a great physique and be really healthy.

      All the best,

  • Monserrate says:

    Does your website have a contact page? I’m having a tough time locating it but, I’d like to send you an e-mail.
    I’ve got some suggestions for your blog you might be interested in hearing. Either way, great website and I look forward to seeing it develop over time.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title="" rel=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>

Get free email updates

Get your Free eBook "Top 10 Most Effective Tips for Fast Fat Loss and Better Health" when you sign up!

5 Reasons to Subscribe:
1/ Never miss a new article.
2/ It's totally free.
3/ We're passionate about this.
4/ Your info will never be shared.
5/ We count our subscribers as friends, and we'd love to have you as both.