Food over Form
3 minutes read
on 03 Feb, 2023•3 minutes read
For the first time since I started my fitness journey, I am actually trying to eat much more than I should...
Now, saying "more than I should" is quite vague, but what I really mean is 'more than my maintenance calories'.
I've been regularly going to the gym for about 8 months now and I recently felt like I wasn't seeing anywhere near the amount of progress I thought I would. I wondered whether it could be my workout split, so I changed my weekly split from 'Back, Chest, Arms, Shoulders, Legs' to 'Push, Pull, Legs'. This helped up the volume for each muscle group, but it has meant longer sessions and even earlier mornings. I set a new routine and started waking up at 6am sharp to make sure I get my 90 minute sessions in before work.
The new split was definitely helping, but I still wasn't seeing the progress I expected. So, I turned to the last thing I thought could solve this plateau - my diet.
And I realised that I was still holding onto the practices I had put in place when trying to lose fat - such as 16-8 intermittent fasting and a strict 3 square meals a day. So, I took a look at my maintenance calories and for an 88kg, 6 foot, 24 year old male, who works out 4-5 times per week, I should be consuming just under 2,800 calories per day.
I had no idea...
I was probably eating about 2,000 calories per day for the last 6 months while I was trying to grow muscle and achieving absolutely nothing. As frustrating as it is to realise that I pretty much wasted all that time in terms of achieving muscular hypertrophy, at least I know now.
So, I set out to eat at least 2,800 calories every day, more if possible, and really cram in the protein anywhere I could.
Speaking of protein... The daily reference intake of protein is 50g (or about 0.7g per kg of body weight) according to the NHS, but for hypertrophy that shoots up to between 1.5g-2g of protein per kg of body weight. That puts my desired daily protein intake between 132 grams and 176 grams when I want to grow muscle. I had probably been consuming about 100g per day for the past 6 months....
So along with upping the calories, I decided to eat lean, high protein meals, anytime I can, while also eating foods high in fibre - trying to reach a goal of about 150g of protein per day.
And I'm finally seeing a difference!!
I'm getting stronger, leaner, more muscular and much heavier too. I'm finally setting some new PBs and not caring about the number on the scales has proved to be so helpful when it comes to progress in the gym. After all, muscle weighs more than fat.
Now, I will be doing more research into the whole 'Bulk and Cut' trend, which does seem to have some merit, and perhaps I'll be giving that a go so I can trim the fat in time for summer.
Either way, these past few weeks have come to teach me that food may just be more important that form, and diet may be more valuable than determination. I had been as consistent as possible for half a year, but I was getting no results because I wasn't fueling my body right.
More to come on the bulk-cut cycle next time.
Until then, let's hope for more PBs and even more kilos on the scale.