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Caloric Surplus Diet for Older Lifters - Over 40?

Dear Jim

Would you still suggest the same diet guidelines for an over 40 year old male lifter as someone in their mid later teens/early 20s?

This is something I have struggled with since starting my barbell training. I am worried that eating too much would be counterproductive (fats gain rather than muscle gains). I do eat well and I think I have found a good balance(I have made more than just “Novice” gains on the programs I’ve followed), but as i get older, I worry that my diet might need to be adjusted. Keep in mind, I do not just want to maintain, I do want to get stronger/bigger.

I’m 43 with a modestly active lifestyle. I go to the gym 3 days a week for about an hour an 45 minutes(quality time) and while my job is sedentary, I keep mildly active with my 3 kids and yard work.

I typically eat the following:
Breakfast - 3-4 eggs with cheese + a protein shake on a training day
Mid Morning snack - Quest Bar
Lunch - some type of meat + raw or cooked vegetables.
Mid afternoon snake - Quest Bar
Dinner - a solid meal of protein, quality carb, vegetables and grain + a brew or two.

My beer drinking does go up on the weekends.

What is your opinion opinion on this?

Can I still eat big on your program(following it to a “T”) and not worry about gaining fat as I approach my mid 40s?

Thanks in advance,

This guy seems happy, follow his advice.

I was a runner up until 40 and have been lifting for the past 5 years. I 'm 5’9" and was 150 pounds during my running career and have put on 40 pounds over the past 5 years, with the final 10 pounds coming during the BBB 3 month challenge.

The simplest way for me to add weight has been milk. Being older I would be hesistant to do a gallon of milk a day. So my recommendation would be to slowly add milk to your diet and watch the scale. I personally like to add milk to my casein shakes I drink between meals. Start small and watch the scale. I like to add 5-10 pounds and then stay at that weight for a few months. When I hit that weight I will replace milk with water and see if I can maintain that new weight.

I also like to do pulls/chins and dips to make sure it’s mostly good weight. It’s a no BS way to make sure you aren’t adding a bunch of bad weight.

If your goals are to get stronger and put on some muscle mass - then you have to eat to support these goals. My general advice is to follow a basic template (protein (meat/eggs), fruit/vegetables and then make up the difference with carbs) at EACH meal. The good thing is that once you develop this habit, everything becomes easy. You simply adjust the portions to fit your goals.

So each day I have a goal of how much meat to eat. I space that out during the day. When I was trying to get bigger, I would have a “meat and egg goal”. For example, 2 pounds of ground beef and a dozen eggs. I’d eat those goals throughout the day and then have an apple or whatever with each meal and then fill in the rest with whatever I wanted. If I was too heavy, it would be rice. If I wanted to bump up, it’d be something calorie dense (fruit pie).

What you end up doing is making a life-long habit that can be easily adjusted to fit your goals and your schedule.

Obviously an older person with a slower metabolism has to eat less (or someone without 25 years of consistent training every single day aka Sweat Equity) so you just take the same habits and adjust them.

That is why diets suck and habits rule - you can take them with you for your entire life and simply adjust them however you want. So find YOUR diet habits if they aren’t in-line with mine and pound them into your life.

I would also advise anyone to do SOMETHING structured with training every single day. For an older person, I would advise taking 10-20 minutes every day to do some mobility/flexibility work and perhaps 20 minutes of “easy” cardio. “Physical” is something that is part of my daily ritual and helps, again, to develop solid habits. Doesn’t have to be hard but it should be something.