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Intuitive Eating: The Annoyance of Being a Hardgainer

Okay, this is my first topic on this site. I have to say, I’m loving my time here.

Here’s the deal, I need 4,500 calories per day to gain weight. And that’s with a sedentary lifestyle.

All my life I was thin and skinny. I gain muscle well/easily if I have fuel but let me say eating that much everyday kind of sucks when you’re truing to lean bulk and keep track of everything.

And that’s why I think counting calories is no good for hardgainers.

I got to a point where I was eating 2.5lbs of chicken breast and 650g of carbs from 4 cups (dry) of jasmine rice. And that’s it. With some fruits and vegetables mixed in the day whenever. Can you imagine that? Chicken and rice everyday for nearly 5,000 calories. No seasoning, nothing. Just plain chicken and rice.

I mean damn it’s basically prison food. And that’s true.

I loved the diet at first because I was making gains and feeling good. But soon after a month or so I plateaued and my body lost all appetite for rice. I couldn’t eat the shit anymore. I would cook up my 2 cups and it would just sit there.

I would load up a huge ass pile of rice on the plate, look at it for a few seconds and procede to drearily eat the damn stuff. image

Okay so what’s the solution!

Well I’m convinced that intuitive eating and a more lenient middle ground approach to food is the answer. Just look at this cinnamon oatmeal I just made.

Goddamn it looks so good after eating white rice for weeks. Going to put some blueberries in there and cry tears of joy.

Anyway, point is rather than buy calculated amounts of bland cheap foods and eating the same thing day in and day out, you need to eat foods you like. And ultimately I’m going to start shopping with a ‘buffet mindset.’

My body will want different foods depending on the circumstances, and honestly, I want to be able to give it what it wants – what I want, when my body wants it. Rather than scoop out 2 cups of rice in a pot and fry 1.25lbs of chicken I’m going to cook appetizing foods.

Foods I love: Large bowls of Chicken Pho with beef broth. If you’ve never tried this, you should. Grocery stores are now selling Pho broth by the soups and chicken broths. So damn I’m going to buy some and cooly own bowls of Pho. Got rice noodles and egf noodles, bean sprouts, onions, cilantro and parsley, green onions, cinnamon, black pepper and chicken with beef bone broth. Delicious.

Super Nachos – Also delicious. Low sodium tortilla chips. Just load up a baking pan with chips. Take two or three cans of black beans and pour them out all over the chips. Add some whole milk mozzarella cheese sprinkles on there and some cut up chicken breasts and bake that shit for 10-30 min. When it comes out of the oven, chop up some sweet peppers, onions, tomatoes and cilantro and sprinkle that all over the dish. It’s delicious. I just eat the whole damn thing until I’m full. Probably well over 1,000 calories. It’s fantastic.

Amyway, point is instead of buying 20lbs of chicken and a 25lb bag of rice every week I’m going to buy all the crap I need for the foods I like, and then I’m going to pick whatever I feel like eating and cook that specific meal when I want to eat it. Then I’m going to pig out until I’m full. That’s it. I’m not going to count calories anymore beyond rough estimates if I’m honest. I’m over it. I love food, I’m not going to let lifting ruin food for me.

I am always skeptical of the claim of “hardgainer” and immediately start searching for my tiny violin, but I was nevertheless entertained by your post.

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Sounds like your back on track (I personally would have to pass on the chicken poo)

How long did you eat the chicken and rice

Hope so. I had to be eating the chicken and rice for at least one month. Maybe longer.

I admit that I love chicken and rice, but should also admit that I put a bunch of soy sauce, siracha and green olives into it. Not sure why people keep it so plain. I could probably eat that for a month.

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I mean I love it too, but I can’t do 4 cups of rice all day everyday. It’s too much. I was using balsamic vinegar for a while. It’s good. But ultimately I need more variety in my diet.

I think there’s a logic to buffet style eating where you can choose what you want to eat. Buying a wide selection and then making a choice from available stock based on cravings and intuition is definitely the way to go. Keep it all healthy and the macros generally close to right and I think it could work.

I’m not going to be shredded hut who cares. Would rather be happy. I train for strength and athleticism mostly anyhow. Powerbuilder is the closest thing to bodybuilder that I’d call myself. In reality I’m just a varsity athlete who didn’t go pro but wants to keep working out.

Over the years I’ve developed a bit of a repertoire with foods I like that work and I’m good at cooking. Some things fall off, others get added. It just takes a little while.

That oatmeal looks good, but unless it somehow interferes with your macros, I’d throw some crushed cashews in there. That makes it great!

Didn’t the whole chicken and rice thing start because it makes insulin dosing easier when you eat the same thing every meal?

Either way, I’m a fan of eating whatever you want. I don’t really see the need to measure out and carefully select food if you’re not competing, too many steps. I’d rather set a goal (gain/loss/maintenance) then check my weight and the mirror to gauge progress.

Although I know there’s some easy gainers on the forum who say this approach leads to a disaster.

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Not sure on insulin resistance. I’m looking for strength and size gains on compound lifts. That’s about it.

I’d like to be able to bang out high reps of bench at 225 like the NFL guys do.

Would like to be able to do as many pullups as a navy seal.

And that’s pretty much all I care for. I do squats and cleans for fun, and to make sure my legs are as developed as my upper body and chest. For pulling I do lat pulldowns. I could probably do better on getting my rhomboids to counter all the bench press I do. I sometimes do some pronated dumbbell rows. I’ve been trying to find a face-pull alternative that really gets those muscle groups. Pull-ups can do it if you disengage the lats but I hear you need a horizontal pull to counter the slouching from an overdeveloped chest. I’m not really sure though tbh. I heard I could do a move with resistance bands hold opposite ends and pull them apart maximally squeezing the rhomboids and shoulder-blades back. That might work. Rear delt flys seem ‘ok’ too.

I might want to improve my 100 meter sprint times, and be able to swim at a good pace. Maybe get my blood pressure down a little bit through cardiovascular work.

I started out tracking on myfitness pal because I wasn’t gaining much weight, if any. Mostly it was because I read online that chicken and rice is the way to get big… Once I got used to portion size, expanding my stomach a bit and food selection, things started getting a bit easier.

I don’t track anymore, and I’m by no means a diet expert, but I just slam calorie dense food pretty much all day. Almonds, advocados, fatty cuts of beef, chicken thighs as opposed to breast, whole milk just to name a few.

Its kind of liberating to not give a damn about calorie count, hitting macros or whatever. I just make sure I get a ton of protein, lots of fruit and vegetables and if I’m still hungry, carbs to fill me up the rest of the way.

I’m optimistic but man I just increases my weights on my routine and now I’m even hungrier than before. I’m always hungry now and I spend all day trying to prepare and chew enough food for the day.

Just a year ago I was going wild on my parents credit card as a college student. I ate takeout only. And I was probably spending $50-$75 per day on $10 takeout meals 5-7 times per day. Chinese, Vietnamese, Chipotle burritos and jamba juice, whole foods market smoothies and burritos. Whenever I got hungry I just went wherever I wanted and bought something with unlimited funds. Every damn day I’d waltz into a takeout place of my choosing, order whatever I wanted, eat it and make enormous gains.

I added 45lbs of muscle in 7 months doing that. Doubled my bench press, was drooled over by sorority girls. It was great. But god damn trying to cook myself 5,000 calories is killing me. It’s really crazy and it’s taking me literally 4-5 hours to do it.

I was spending about $2,500/month on takeout this time last year. It’s f*cking crazy.

Has anyone ever tried this ‘Russian Bear’ stuff?

I might just cave in and buy it.

Just do the vertical diet. It’s prep is very basic:

On Sunday evening, cut up 3 big sweet potatos and 3 peppers

Roll up 3lbs of ground beef into balls, cover in seasoning

Throw it all in the oven for 30 minutes.

Portion it up.

Each day, get your rice cooker out. Throw in rice, water, salt, a couple of handfuls of spinach, some of the meat, some of the sweet potato and some of the peppers then let the rice cooker do it’s thing

Have it with olive oil, avo and your favourite sauce on it. Orange juice on the side.

Repeat 3-4 times that day.

Repeat your prep on Wednesday

In the morning, you can have eggs instead of meat. Just whisk 6 up, after the rice is cooked, throw it in give it a 15 second stir then close it back up for a minute before dishing it up.

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I forgot to mention carrots.

It’s been a somewhat annoying and stressful thing to do, but I’m dialing in my nutrition well for the first time.

Essentially I grew up on a calorie deficit. My family is largely uneducated and working class, so to this day they really don’t know shit about food.

As such I didn’t get a chance to lift seriously until college. At college, I abused my campus dining halls and pigged out on the buffet style foods. I just ate until I couldn’t anymore. I bulked quite dramatically and kept fat at bay via cardio as needed.

Now, having to cook my own foods was very challenging. I knew nothing about nutrition at all, and was starting from scratch. Completely.

So, through this period of trial and error I lost weight when I was undershooting blindly, and would pack on fat from overshooting blindly. What I eventually discovered was that my body needed about 250g of protein a day to feel good. I’m about 185lbs.

Then I realized that unless I ate 4 cups of rice or another carb I would lose weight despite hitting the protein goal.

So in all that put me around a 4,000 calories per day ball park figure.

Well, two things happened.

  1. I didn’t have a food scale, so I was ball-parking the weight of my chicken breasts without actually having any clue how much I was eating. I now weigh out 2lbs every day.

  2. I wasn’t getting enough fats, which led to horrible headaches and a thin looking face. I looked unwell.

So I needed to dial in fats. I tried different sources: eggs, avocado, bread, quinoa, salmon and cheese. I cut all the dairy real quick. I’m lactose intolerant. What wound up working for me was the Quinoa and Salmon combo.

So I eat those two for my fat sources everyday. They double as sources of complete proteins, and the Quinoa gives me starchy carbs too.

So here’s the current ‘plan’:

Breakfast by 11am, 1/2cup dry of Quinoa (6g of fat, 68g of carbs, 10g protein)

Brunch: 1 cup dry of sushi rice, 1lb of chicken breast, mixed greens (12g of fat,144g of carbs, 96g protein) 1 centrum multivitamin for micros

Workout

Post-workout meal: 1/2cup dry of Quinoa (6g fat, 68g carbs, 10g protein)

Lunch/Dinner: 1lb chicken breast, 2 cups (dry) sushi rice, 7oz Wild Salmon, Carrots (27g of fat, 288g of carbs, 132g of protein).

Total: 51g of fat, 568g of carbs, 248g of protein

And that’s it for now. I suspect I might need to add in 200-400 more calories but I’ll see how it goes.

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Sounds pretty good. Plenty of protein

U a fan of steak/beef? Higher fat than chicken but more nutritious. Most important is tastiness because adherence and stuff.

What’s in the mixed greens? Even with the multi vitamin is it enough? It’s more than most people eat to be fair lol but we are aiming for more here.

Theoretically macro-nutrient timing can make a difference. I don’t notice it too much myself but if u are gonna be consistent may as well try to milk it.

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Thanks I will probably break my last meal into two and do 1lb of chicken for lunch and the salmon for dinner, spitting the rice into 1cup servings for each meal. The mixed greens is spinach and baby kale.

Can u shove down a couple mouthfuls of chicken for brekky to spread out protein more?

Yeah probably. I usually eat the ‘brunch’ meal right after my breakfast. I just like to get something down fast first thing in the morning to hold me over while I cook.

I also really like turkey breast for protein over chicken. But it’s too expensive, especially the free range stuff. I can only afford to lift because I get chicken breasts for $3/lb and a big 50lb bag of rice for $20.

I was also mistaken on the mixed greens, it actually has baby kale, spinach and baby chard.

No idea what chard is but can’t argue with kale + spinach