T Nation

Instinctive Eating and Calorie Counting

hi… what is the best way to eat to gain muscle. is it best to count calories and macros or just to eat when hungry and until full? the reason i ask is it would be nice to ease up on the calorie counting everyday to reduce the stress of messing around with myfitnespal to check ive eaten enough. thanks.

Here are the guidelines I like to give people:

-eat 1g of protein per lb of bodyweight a day. Get it from meat, eggs, or whey protein. Do this every day. No excuses.
-get all your carbs from rice and potatoes. Eat them with every meal.
-get all your fats from animals (think fatty meat), nuts, olives, avocados or eggs.
-an unlimited amount of fruit and veg can - and should - be consumed. Veggies with every meal.
-eat at least 4 meals a day. Big meals. They should be scary big.

And do 5/3/1


These are awesome guidelines, also fall in line with the recommendations of Tim Henriques in Simple-diet Article.

On a different note, @Yogi1 will you please share your thoughts or experience (if applicable) about the protein pulsing. It sounds interesting but looks worthless without certain supplements. Do you think that one should even consider it in a regular eating plan for muscle gain?

@dimebag87 Sorry for the hijack, but as you can see that Yogi is here to answer you I thought I may pick his brain as well.

Hi Jasper, well I’ve not got a lot of experience with protein pulsing aside from choking down amino acid drinks when I’ve been too ill to eat so I can’t really comment from experience.

It does look interesting though for certain purposes. Fasting in general appears to have a lot of very interesting health benefits (neuronal autophagy for example - Marks Daily Apple did a really good series of articles on it years ago you could find quite easily), and I’m a fan of things like the 5:2 diet (although I wouldn’t take in any calories on a fast day) for general health and weight loss.

Thing is, if you are taking in anything you aren’t really fasting. While you are still going to be in a calorie deficit - and so promoting weight loss - I’m not sure you are still getting all the health benefits of the fast. I’ve certainly not seen any evidence to suggest one way or the other, but I would think that it’s fairly intuitive to expect you’d not. I do believe you’d probably stave off fasting-induced muscle loss with protein pulses, however, considering how long it takes your body to start really breaking down muscle tissue (the study I saw showed 30 hours, I think) this might not be much of a concern. Might be different for dudes with a lot of muscle or burning a lot of calories though. I don’t think I’ve seen a study that controlled for that.

As for muscle gain - I’m not convinced it’s the best way. Amino acids are not calorific in the way more traditional protein sources are, and let’s face it - you’re not going to get bigger eating less. There was a thread here years ago when a VERY big dude got all his protein for an entire month from amino supplements and just ate tons of carbs and fats to fill up his calorie requirements. He did just fine on that, so it looks like it can be done, but I’m not certain it’d be the easiest way and you’ll need to be VERY disciplined with your diet. Considering all the calories and nutrients you’d get from a sirloin steak (mmm, sirloin steak), I think it’d be way easier to gain muscle with solid food.

So my opinion: for dieting - yeah. For trying to get significantly bigger - not so much.

These are just my musings, though. Someone who knows more about it than me will probably come in and disprove everything I just said! haha.

1 Like

Yogi I’m also interested in it and want to give it a go as the Paul Carter Diet is not working anymore. It is also similar to the Simple Diet, the problem is that the progress is painfully slow and I’m not liking it. I think I need to create a bigger caloric deficit to get going. What do you recommend, should I start with strictly as TC wrote or is it wise to progress towards it (or your completely fasted version) by eliminating first all carbs on the two off days and so on? Honestly I just tried it as per TC and found that I get ravenously hungry after the first short meal and it seems very difficult to last 12 hours without tons of coffee during the day.

I guess I know who you’re talking about here. Originally when I learned from his earlier logs about his nutritional regimen I got baffled, but after learning why he does it that way and that he also preferred solid meals to fuel his workouts, this thing subsided from my mind. So keeping that in mind I think Mag10 Pulse is worth trying.

I don’t know about others but what you just said made lots of sense to me. Thank you very much and I really appreciate your input.

well you might not need to completely overhaul anything quite yet. You could just tweak things a little. So if I assume (potentially wrongly) you’re not counting calories or anything, one way you could do that is by just replacing one of the meals where you eat carbs with a meal where you just eat protein and veg (don’t add fat otherwise you’ll not be lowering calories).

Or you could go the other way and start working out how many calories you’re eating daily and lower that. This is obviously way more hassle but it’s more scientific and potentially the superior way if you’re smart about it.

On top of that you could add a couple of LISS cardio sessions, or an interval session. The key is really to make the biggest difference from the smallest change, and there’s loads of ways you can do that.[quote=“jasper41, post:5, topic:218202”]
What do you recommend, should I start with strictly as TC wrote or is it wise to progress towards it (or your completely fasted version) by eliminating first all carbs on the two off days and so on?

Well I think systematically lowering carbs and calories in general before trying the fasting days is probably wise as it means you have yet more tools in your toolbox, as opposed to jumping in all guns blazing right from the start.

That said, you could just go for it with the 5:2 the way TC recommended. Certainly nothing wrong with that and I’m sure you’d get results.

Some people just plain can’t handle fasting. I always could, for some reason, but there’s loads of people who can’t for whatever reason. If it’s not for you, it’s not for you. Maybe a gentler fasting diet such as the leangains 16/8 would be better?

What does a typical day’s eating look like for you now?

thank again yogi… unfortunately i wont be able to try 531 though as i dont have access to a well equipped gym currently. im going to be trying some manner of prison style workout focused around pushups, dips if they dont hurt me and pull ups.

1 Like

Yogi, my daily eating plan is based as per suiting my work schedule. During the day, I consume about 12 eggs, 2 protein shakes, 1/2 cup oats (sometimes muesli if my wife insists), 2-3 bowls rice with some fruits. You can see that I sustain on portable foods during the day, at night I have a nice meal of meat (mostly chicken) with lots of veggies. Overall I consume in between 2800 to 3200 calories a day, I don’t like to get too anal about counting though. Also every other weekend I set out to visit my parents and eat whatever my mother wants me to eat, here I try to practice portion control but in vain.

join a gym, mate. You’re not going to get bigger doing just bodyweight stuff unless you are using VERY advanced variations.

ok, so 12 eggs is like 70g of protein(ish), 2 protein shakes is like 60g, and let’s say you’re eating 50g worth of protein with dinner? That’s like 180g which is great, but you could even try and increase that a little for the sake of weight loss.

You’re also eating quite a lot of carbs. It’s generally easier to cut on lower carbs, so you could try replacing some of the rice dishes with green stuff (I assume you are drinking the protein shakes with these meals?).

Seeing as you’re still eating 3000 calories, you’ve loads of room to cut out a significant amount of calories still.

This is what I want to do, I’m trying to accomplish it by cutting all carbs on the 2 off days and replace some carbs with greens on the two upper body days which looks like some sort of carb cycling based on portions. I’ll like to amalgamate this approach with 5/2 diet progressively.

How low should I strive to go while preserving my performance as best as I can? PC recommends B.WX10 to be the lowest level which puts me around 2000 calories which is certainly doable but will cost me a bit more of strength.

sounds about right. Keep on keeping on[quote=“jasper41, post:11, topic:218202”]
How low should I strive to go while preserving my performance as best as I can? PC recommends B.WX10 to be the lowest level which puts me around 2000 calories which is certainly doable but will cost me a bit more of strength.

Don’t worry about strength loss. It’ll come back once you go back to eating more again. Right now you’re carb and calorie depleted so that’s what’s making you weak. It’s not permanent.

2000 calories is still plenty, so don’t worry about it. Just keep the protein high and train as hard as you can. As for timescales, well, it’s impossible to say really. Just keep reevaluating and readjusting

Thanks a lot Yogi, you’re unquestionably one of the most helpful and encouraging vets around. Definitely an asset to the T nation forums.

oh don’t worry I can be a dick sometimes too! Haha

Thanks for the kind words, man. Really appreciate it

1 Like