T Nation

Eating Whatever You Want

I know this isn’t the place for nutrition questions, but I wanted some powerlifters’ perspectives on this.

A lot of huge guys (Dave Tate, Jim Wendler, etc.) have advocated eating whatever you want if your goal is to be big and strong. I’ve tried that method many times, and each time I do I end up absolutely hating the way I look within a month or two. Believe me, I don’t give a shit about abs or anything, but when I let my appetite dictate how much I eat I end up looking a lot more like a pear-shaped dude with bitch tits who barely lifts than like Wendler, Tate, or Doug Young. Is this a genetic thing, a psychological thing, or just par for the course? How many of you guys can actually get away with eating as much as you want, whenever you want?

[quote]TrevorLPT wrote:
I know this isn’t the place for nutrition questions, but I wanted some powerlifters’ perspectives on this.

A lot of huge guys (Dave Tate, Jim Wendler, etc.) have advocated eating whatever you want if your goal is to be big and strong. I’ve tried that method many times, and each time I do I end up absolutely hating the way I look within a month or two. Believe me, I don’t give a shit about abs or anything, but when I let my appetite dictate how much I eat I end up looking a lot more like a pear-shaped dude with bitch tits who barely lifts than like Wendler, Tate, or Doug Young. Is this a genetic thing, a psychological thing, or just par for the course? How many of you guys can actually get away with eating as much as you want, whenever you want? [/quote]

I believe Wendler does advocate a eating whatever you want in a GOOD way. I pretty sure I’ve seen him say somewhere that if you put crap into your body, expect to look like crap.

[quote]nkklllll wrote:
I believe Wendler does advocate a eating whatever you want in a GOOD way. I pretty sure I’ve seen him say somewhere that if you put crap into your body, expect to look like crap.[/quote]

Even if I make mostly smart food choices, letting my appetite dictate how much and when I eat still leads me to look awful. I’m pretty sure I could eat my way to obesity in a matter of a few months if I was left to my own devices.

[quote]TrevorLPT wrote:

[quote]nkklllll wrote:
I believe Wendler does advocate a eating whatever you want in a GOOD way. I pretty sure I’ve seen him say somewhere that if you put crap into your body, expect to look like crap.[/quote]

Even if I make mostly smart food choices, letting my appetite dictate how much and when I eat still leads me to look awful. I’m pretty sure I could eat my way to obesity in a matter of a few months if I was left to my own devices.
[/quote]

So don’t do that then.

Everything in moderation. Just make sure to eat enough on training days to fuel workouts and recover. I follow the 90/10 rule of eat right 90% of the time and crap 10% of the time. There are specifics within those for each individual. Up to you to experiment and figure out what works best for you.

The trick is being consistent so you know how and when to adjust calories.

  1. Drugs will affect this. The guys listed have surely at some point supplemented with more than creatine. If you weren’t, that’s a huge difference.

  2. Personal appetite varies as well as meal choices. Some people say they hate bulking because they can’t deal with the amount of food, while others like yourself say you still eat too much. Just like there are teens out there who claim it’s IMPOSSIBLE to gain weight cause of their hyper fast metabolism and for sure “they are eating a lot”. Everyone’s “a lot” is different and the caloric density of your food choices (which differs) will affect your total calories as well.

Anyways, not sure of the point of this thread. Looking for advice? I’m exactly like you…could eat pretty much 24/7 non stop if there were no drawbacks. I find calorie tracking and weighing food to help me. But you gotta look at it as part of the process and not get super obsessive or fret too much about it. It will also help you develop a sense of portions. Also take note of your habits…I find I can’t cheat small. One small cheat gives me too many cravings. So, I only let myself eat dense cheat type foods when I feel run down and can use the boost from a large cheat, or when I’m out with people and I know I won’t gorge (tend to when alone).

Macros and timing aren’t worth shit if you can’t follow a good plan. Understanding your habits and psychology will help a ton.

[quote]Sutebun wrote:

  1. Drugs will affect this. The guys listed have surely at some point supplemented with more than creatine. If you weren’t, that’s a huge difference.
    [/quote]

Along with this fact, amount of weight being moved will also greatly affect results. There is the expression “When the engine is hot enough, it will burn anything”, and I have found in my own experience that, as I have gotten stronger and my total weight/volume being moved in a workout has increased, I have been able to have greater nutritional flexibility than when I started. The guys on this list were chemically assisted and were also moving some serious weight during their training, placing high demands on their body. Trying to replicate this while benching 225 just don’t have the same effect.

You know what healthy eating should look like. Everyone does. Doesn’t sound a little too good to be true you could eat copious amounts of whatever you want and not look like a fat oaf? Extraneous calories really only go so far in making one “big and strong.” Time is going to be the biggest factor there. You can’t eat your way to strength. If you could, everyone would do it.

[quote]Sutebun wrote:

Anyways, not sure of the point of this thread. [/quote]

I just wanted to see how common it was for guys out there to be able to “eat whatever/ as much as they want” and not look like shit. Your advice was all spot on, but for me personally the answer is to just not eat like a fat ass.

In my experience you can eat to get stronger…most people won’t do it because they are scared to add any extra body fat.

Some times I think it may just be a physiological factor, of corse you need food to grow and get stronger. Sometimes eat what you want is over extravagant, unnecessary of corse if your getting excessively fat you not using them extra calories.

For me, I’ve just pulled a PB on deadlift, when I’ve lost 10lbs over the last 5 weeks.

[quote]T3hPwnisher wrote:

[quote]Sutebun wrote:

  1. Drugs will affect this. The guys listed have surely at some point supplemented with more than creatine. If you weren’t, that’s a huge difference.
    [/quote]

Along with this fact, amount of weight being moved will also greatly affect results. There is the expression “When the engine is hot enough, it will burn anything”, and I have found in my own experience that, as I have gotten stronger and my total weight/volume being moved in a workout has increased, I have been able to have greater nutritional flexibility than when I started. The guys on this list were chemically assisted and were also moving some serious weight during their training, placing high demands on their body. Trying to replicate this while benching 225 just don’t have the same effect.[/quote]

Can’t find it now, but Dan John wrote about this once, noting that it seemed his strongest athletes could “get away” with a lot more nutritionally than weaker ones.

[quote]-AMG- wrote:
Some times I think it may just be a physiological factor, of corse you need food to grow and get stronger. Sometimes eat what you want is over extravagant, unnecessary of corse if your getting excessively fat you not using them extra calories.

For me, I’ve just pulled a PB on deadlift, when I’ve lost 10lbs over the last 5 weeks. [/quote]

That is not too unusual of an event with that lift in particular. Weight gain can negative impact the deadlift due to the fact that increased stomach size means changing your set-up. Your stomach smashes against your legs, forcing one to widen their stance which can in turn reduce leg drive, whereas a small stomach can give one a closer stance.

Louie Simmons’ philosophy on weight gain at one point was to keep gaining weight until your deadlift stalls, because at that point you are no longer gaining useful weight.

I think age would have something to do with this too, last winter when I was 17/18. I was eating large wendy’s 3/4 pound burger meals at least 4x per week and nothing that much better for the rest and didn’t go over 15% body fat. Idk why but I just thought I’d share my little bit of experience with this.

[quote]T3hPwnisher wrote:

[quote]Sutebun wrote:

  1. Drugs will affect this. The guys listed have surely at some point supplemented with more than creatine. If you weren’t, that’s a huge difference.
    [/quote]

Along with this fact, amount of weight being moved will also greatly affect results. There is the expression “When the engine is hot enough, it will burn anything”, and I have found in my own experience that, as I have gotten stronger and my total weight/volume being moved in a workout has increased, I have been able to have greater nutritional flexibility than when I started. The guys on this list were chemically assisted and were also moving some serious weight during their training, placing high demands on their body. Trying to replicate this while benching 225 just don’t have the same effect.[/quote]

This has been my experience as well.

I’m not a competitive powerlifter, but I incorporate the power lifts in every workout. My goal is fat loss, but lifting heavy (for me, and by casual gym-rat standards) 3x/week has more or less insulated me from any significant weight gain even when I have had lapses in dietary discipline.

I am presently able to eat like a horse and wash it all down with beer and barely gain any weight. I took my eye off of my goal and ate a LOT for about 2 months and only gained 3-4 pounds, but the food was nutritionally-dense unprocessed food. The beer, quite obviously, was not.

Prior to lifting heavy I just got fat when I did this. Really fat.

Food just affects everyone differently. There is always one thing that will work well for YOU, but not for everyone else. For me and weight loss, if I truly want to lose weight, then I need to eat about 1800 calories a day (I weight around 310 now I think). But, I can maintain from anywhere from 2000 to 4000 calories a day. If I eat over 4500, then I gain weight.

The problem isn’t just that though, it is how your body is affected by the variance, at least in my experience. For me, I can eat McDonalds for 3 days straight and not gain anything, maybe a pound. But, if I were to eat, say, 10 cookies a day for 3 days, I’d gain like 8 pounds. I have no idea why, but has to do something with insulin, water levels in the body, etc.

The hardest thing to figure out is what you an and can’t do / eat. Start off with all the calculators out there, start tracking your food with MyFitnessPal for a week, then you will have a good idea.

Also, the rule is cut 500 calories a day to lose a pound a week. Well, this is bull shit, it never works, at least not when you are over 300 lbs. You lose 7 pounds in 3 days, then gain 8 in 3 days, then lose 1 in one day, it’s so frustrating lol.

But, like T3hPwnisher said, the more you push, the more you burn, which basically means the more you can eat. I am getting stronger recently, and I now walk around with my shirt off. I’m not saying I should lol, but at least I don’t feel like a total lard, I just feel like a fat dude that is huge, instead of just a fat dude.

One thing that helps though is if you want to eat more, then cut out carbs and replace with protein.

“Eat anything you want” is a very subjective advice. For skinny guys who normally have a sandwich for dinner and a mars bar and redbull for lunch eating a proper diet will feel like pigging out. For former obese guys with 43+ inches waist like me, even a proper “bodybuilding bulking up diet” will feel like starvation. The “see food” diet is only suitable for those who have a hard time gaining weight/strength, the rest of us serve well to keep track of what we eat.

  1. As others have already said, if you’re weak as hell at your weight stuffing your face will just make things worse. 300lb guy benching 225 doesn’t need to bulk to get to a 400 bench, he needs to lose the massive amount of fat he is carrying.

  2. Drugs make a huge difference. Pete Rubish has a “tell all” video about this. I think he was doing something along the lines of 600-360-700 at either 220 or 242 (I’m pretty sure he has deadlifted 800 unofficially as well) and he came right out and said that if you’re using PEDs you can get sloppy with your diet and still stay lean and that you can train stupid and still make gains. Naturals have to train and diet differently then users.

I count my macros and shoot for specific numbers each day. Being a 205-210lb lifter that competes in the 198 class, I can’t afford to get sloppy.

I think most Powerlifters should have that mindset when it comes to nutrition.

You can have cheat meals/eat whatever you want, but that’s the exception, not the rule. A poster earlier mentioned the 90/10 rule, and I wholeheartedly agree with that.

If you are going to eat crap, do it within an hour after a hard workout. Try to keep it clean all other times. I realize this shades towards the “Warrior Diet,” but it is a sound philosophy based on science. You will be able to counteract at least some fat gain and be able to get stronger. General timing of meals adds a lot of forgiveness to a diet. It still surprises me people rarely mention this.