Is gaining muscle without excess fat gain even possible Michael? Keep reading to find out..
Us sensible trainers call this lean bulking. Sounds like an oxymoron right? if you follow conventional wisdom, you've probably been told that to build a good physique you have to bulk up as much as possible (including gaining fat), and once you finish, you go on a diet to strip away the fat and reveal your new toned body.
To do this, they say you have to eat as much as possible, eat 200-300g of protein, and eat whatever food you can get your hands on to fulfil the required calories. Usually, this comes out to something like 4000-6000 calories a day. Usually, this is done for 9 months of the year, and then for 3 months, you go on a diet to burn off all the excess fat you gained.
I've done this before, and so have countless others. I can't really speak for others, but I can speak for myself. Yes, I did gain muscle! But this muscle was buried under mountains of fat I picked up from eating too much in those 9 months.
I looked pretty jacked in clothes. But when I took my clothes off, I hated my slightly more muscular fat body. My stamina was low. My resting heart rate was high. And my agility was nowhere to be seen. But it was okay I told myself, I would remove all this fat on my ‘cut’ and regain my former abilities.
I started my cut and did it for three months. I lost some weight, but I was still fat. I had gained so much fat, that three months of dieting just wasn't going to cut it. I was also losing muscle and getting weaker in my key exercises. I continued dieting and lost all the excess fat. But guess what? I looked about the same as when I first started. A year and a half to two years of hard work, and I had nothing to show for it. I was pissed. But I did this for another year or two without any success.
It wouldn't be until a few years later I would discover where I went wrong. I wasn't taking steroids! I wasn't taking growth hormone! I wasn't taking insulin! I wasn't taking the cutting drugs like clenbuterol, and tren which preserves muscle while dieting. What a fake fucking industry I told myself.
You see, professional bodybuilders use most of these drugs and more. And to be honest, that doesn't bother me. They have to, to get the amount of mass and leanness they do. And it's their body, they can do what they want to it. What bothered me was that they wasn't honest and they were giving advice to people like me and you who weren't on these drugs. Their advice is invalid as far as I'm concerned. SOMEBODY LiED.
In 2009, I started university to do an economics degree. And I was getting smarter. I learnt to study and research properly. In my spare time, I would learn the theory behind how to actually build a quality lean physique without any drug use. But what’s theory without action? it was time to put in the work. I firstly lost any fat I had. I now had a full six pack for the first time. But now it was time to bulk without all the fat gain. I was successful. And I was the happy, confident, energetic young man I always wanted to be.
And this is where I give you the practical advice.
This is the amount of calories to maintain your current weight. To find your maintenance calories, there's many way including complicated formulas. I have my own one, but that's my secret for me, and people who work with me. it's how I make my income and pay my bills after all. And I can't lose my competitive advantage to my rivals.
But I'm going to give you a simple way to work out your maintenance calories. Be warned it is just an ESTiMATiON and not as accurate as my own formula.
Take your body weight in pounds (lbs) and multiply it by 14-16. if you need to convert your weight from kilograms, simply multiply by 2.2. For example 80 kg in pounds is 80 x 2.2 = 176 lbs.
In general, women or those with slower metabolisms should use the lower value of 14. And men or those with a faster metabolism should use the higher value of 16. if you think you're somewhere in between, use 15.
I'll give two examples.
2. A skinny but active male who weighs 140 lbs. Multiply body weight in lbs by 16. This gives us 2240 calories.
Well done, you have now worked out your ESTiMATED maintenance calories.
But I don't want to maintain my weight, I want to build lean muscle?
Now, add 100-300 calories, over your maintenance calories. Personally, I would start with 300 and scale back if you're gaining too much fat. eat more if you're strength and muscle isn't going up fast enough.
1) The small female would be 1540 + 300 = 1840 calories.
2) The skinny but active male would be 2240 + 300 = 2540.
Well done, you've now got your lean bulking calories.
But make sure you track these calories in an app like MyFitnessPal and track your bodyweight and measurements each week. Scale back or forward by 50-100 calories if results aren't going your way.
What about my macros Michael?
Damn you're a demanding crowd, aren't you? Just kidding. I got you. For those who don't know, macros means macronutrients. There's four: Protein, fats, carbs and alcohol. We’re going to discuss the first three, while I sip on my cider as I write this (just a joke).
Protein is where I differ from conventional muscle dieting plans. They recommend 1lb per pound of bodyweight or more. I always thought that math was a little bit too convenient. And honestly, i think it's just a ploy to get you to buy expensive protein supplements.
So I did some digging, and came across fellow super smart physique transformation specialist Menno Henselmans. His article led me to some research papers which I analysed myself and showed a range of 0.6- 0.82 g /lb of body weight is enough.
You can see his original article by clicking here. There will be outliers of course, but you can take this as true as far as I'm concerned. It worked for me, and it's worked on all my clients (100s, closing in on a 1000). Plus there's the SCiENTiFiC RESEARCH.
Small female example - 110 lbs x 0.7 = 77g, 110lbs x 0.82 = 90g. Our small female should eat 77-90g of protein per day which is 308-360 calories per day.
Skinny male example - 110 lbs x 0.7 = 98g, 140 lbs x 0.82 = 115g. Our skinny male should eat 77-90g of protein per day which is 308-360 calories.
Quality sources of protein include meat like chicken, turkey, beef, pork etc; fish and protein powders such as whey and casein.
If you don’t eat meat like me, good protein sources will include lentils, chickpeas and most varieties of beans, hempseed, green peas, spirulina, quinoa, Ezekiel bread, soy milk, oats and oatmeal, wild rice, chia seeds, and nuts.
While these are all inferior sources of protein to lean meats because we now know we don't have to eat excessive protein, its quite easy to hit your protein targets with all of these foods.
There are roughly 4 calories per gram of protein.
Fats and Carbs
This is something I've experimented with and honestly, have found no difference in muscle building results eating high carb/low fat or low carb/high fat. Eat as many calories from carbs and fat as you like within your lean bulking calories minus your protein calories.
Our small lady would eat 1840 - (4 x 90) = 1480 calories from fat and carb food sources.
Our skinny dude would eat 2540 - (4 x 115) = 2080 calories from fat and carb food sources.
Here are some food sources you can fill those remaining calories in with.
Good sources of fat include butter, nuts, cheese, whole milk, avocados, fatty fish.
Good sources of carbs include fruits, vegetables, whole-grain bread, whole grain pasta, rice, noodles, wholegrain cereal and potatoes.
Did you know I’m a practioner of flexible dieting? This is where you eat roughly 80% of your calories from whole food sources such as those listed, and 20%, drumroll; from anything you like, minus foods fried in trans fats. Yes, that 20% includes cookies, chocolates, crisps/fries, cakes, brownies, you name it. Every day if you want to. And that includes alcohol too if it fits your calorie budget.
But don't abuse it. Those with trigger binge episodes should limit this and keep trigger foods out of the house. But if you're fine, don't feel guilty. Feel smug like me, while my rivals eat boring bland foods and secretly curse their way of eating.
Try Lean Bulking Yourself
I’ve given you the way to work out your lean bulking calories. Now you need a program. I'm sure you've seen people who eat a lot of food and don't train. What happens? They don't get lean and muscular, do they? No most of those excess calories go into fat gain. And they seek people like me to help them lose it.
You may have even seen this happen to people in the gym who do train. Because they don't train properly, the excess calories go into fat gain rather than building muscle because they haven't actually stressed their muscles.
1) Online Coaching
Want a more personal touch and direct access to me? Check out my online coaching page by going here.
2) A do it yourself training program
This comes with my own fitness app and videos of me demonstrating every exercise ensuring you're doing each exercise correctly and not injuring yourself. it also comes with nutrition plans. I don't leave anyone without all the information they need.
You can check out my men's program by clicking here.
And my ladies program Femme Fit'ale is here.
3) I don't even know you Michael, gimme some FREE stuff first! Okay, I've got you covered. Check out my FREE No Refunds Fat Loss Course by going here.
Have any questions, ask me in the comments section.
Think this advice can help your friends or family? Share on your favoured social media, or copy the web address and email it to just three friends. You'll be helping me, you'll be helping them, and you'll even look good for a solid recommendation! Win Win.