T Nation

Keep Going or Change Something?

Hey everyone.

As I mentioned in another thread, I’ve been doing John Berardi’s “Scrawny to Brawny” plan for about 8 months now. I’ve also been following the accompanying massive eating plan as much as possible. Since starting I have gained muscle and fat at a ratio of about 3:2. I weighed 165 lbs then, and about 215 now. Currently, my lean mass is almost 180…at least up to my ability to measure this stuff accurately. This puts my body fat %somewhere in the neighborhood of 16-18% Pretty high, for what I’ve seen people post on this site.

Lately I’ve been thinking “I probably eat too much, but I am afraid to eat less. I’ll stick with the 3:2 ratio.” This may seem stupid; I could try eating less. But since this is the first thing that has ever worked for me, I’m a little afraid to “mess with success”.

Recently, I’ve found that I am hungry all the time. About 3 weeks ago I started falling asleep in classes. I wasn’t sure if it was a lack of carbs or if it was just how boring the classes were. So I ate pretty monsterously for about 2 weeks, and gained about 8 lbs, of which more than half was lean mass. I was extremely happy with the results, probably the best period since I started the program. I felt like my long overdue “newbie gains” were finally showing up. Obviously I can’t continue to gain like this, yet the hunger continues. I’m not sure if that is because my body needs it or because I am now just used to overeating.

I am starting to have doubts, namely that there is simply too much fat gain and that if I continue to bulk this way (for another year, probably) I will become dangerously overweight. I was under the impression that the only way to really put on mass was to accept that you’d become a fat, fat bastard. Yet I see a lot of people saying they have 10-12% on what I thought was an “elite” powerlifting site. Which leads me to believe I was mistaken, and that I might just be doing it wrong. I’m fine with how gross it looks (temporarily) as long as I have some assurance that its the only way to really pack on mass. If that’s not true however, man, what a waste.

Like I said, I am happy with the 30 lbs of lean mass I’ve gained so far. I was a really scrawny guy when I started: my chest was 36.5" at a height of 5’11". Seriously, I looked like a cancer patient and my older pictures are actually somewhat visually distrubing. Even at 215, my upper body is still extrodinarily weak; the vast majority of the gains have been in my lower body (it has been trained before while the rest never has). So I am anxious to not lose even a single week of training time to potential undereating.

So what do you guys think? Is this how its really supposed to work or I am way overdoing it? I’d like to stick with what works, so long as it’s not totally bogus.

if you want to keep gaining but your going to fast packing on to much fat. wel eat a little less you dont need to cut slow the hell down. plain and simple. I wouldnt cut per say as you are less than happy with where you are and want to be larger/stronger.


kfol, I’d have to look at your diet, but the type of carbs you are eating is most likely causing your hunger. As much as you possibly can, try switching over to carbohydrates in the form of:

  • Fibrous green veggies (all you can eat … and no, you can’t eat too many or too much!)
  • Beans
  • Fruit

Skip your starchier carbs except for post workout. Weigh yourself every week and try to maintain your current scale weight. In other words, if you start to lose weight because you’re not eating cereal and rice bread and whole wheat pasta, then eat MORE fibrous green veggies, beans and fruit! (grin)

Don’t neglect your PWO nutrition, though. Get a 2:1 ratio of starchy carbs to protein in your PWO meal.

Let your body stabilize. What you don’t want to do is go from bulking to cutting. You need a month of maintenance (or more!) in between bulking and cutting cycles.

Unfortunately the type of food I dislike so much that I removed it from Berardi’s plan after several grueling months were a lot of the vegetables and beans. I try to get other low glycemic index carbs whenever possible, but thats the one thing that really sucks about my diet. That, and its probably too large. Here it is, on a workout day:

Breakfast (8:30am): used to be P+F, but I threw a bunch of carbs in since its breakfast
-2 eggs
-1 cup egg white
-25 g low moisture, part skim mozz. cheese
-fish oil serving
-greens+ serving
-50g cashew nuts
-30g fiber one cereal
-90g baby carrots
-1 large banana
-1 low moisture, park skim mozz cheese stick
-1 piece of perperidge farm natural wheat bread
-30g of smart balance omega+ peanut butter

Lunch (noon): P+F
-2 low moisture, part skim mozz. cheese sticks
-30g fiber one cereal
-60g cashew nuts
-45g of protein (~60g of protein ON 100% Whey drink…replacing with Biotest stuff tomorrow)
-fish oil serving
-teaspoon of flax oil

Afternoon (3:00): P+F

-65g walnuts
-45g of protein (same as before)
-fish oil serving
-teaspoon of flax oil
-1 “Smart Start” breakfest bar. It took me about an hour to pick this one out…I have trouble finding low GI carbs, this one had the fewest amount of “sugars” compared to total carbs so I figured it was good.

Pre Workout (5:30) Surge
During Workout (5:40-6:50) More Surge
Post Workout (7:00) Even More Surge

Lots of Surge, but thats what Berardi is all about. It’s a ton of Surge, but weight-wise he looked a lot like I did in high school and now he’s huge so I’m hesistant to stop the massive Surge intake.

Dinner (8:00) P+C
-1 chicken breast. Usually 200g uncooked weight, 120g cooked weight (Foreman grill, lots of fats lost). So only about 22g of protein unforunately.
-1 slice of Kraft 2% milk cheese.
-1 large banana
-200g of oatmeal (cooked weight…uncooked = 50g instant oats)
-1 baked potato
-?g low moisture part skim mozz. cheese. “?” because i just sprinkle it on

Late night (10:00) : P+C…I eat “Dinner” slowly and these two kind of run together
-1 chicken breast.
-1 slice of Kraft 2% cheese
-1 large banana
-60g of fiber one cereal
-fish oil serving

End of the night (midnight): P+F This needs some work because it changes too much. Basically it usually ends up being whatever makes me stop being hungry because I’m afraid of sleeping without enough food to grow. Typically it will look like:
-Half pound uncooked of 97% lean uncooked (cooked weight is much smaller…I’d guess 130g-150g?)
-1 slice Kraft 2% cheese
-1 large banana
-50g almonds
-another cheese stick lm, ps mozz. cheese stick if I’m still hungry
-45g of ON Whey% (will replace with Metabolic Drive tomorrow, Biotest order coming)

before I added stuff, used to come to around 5000-5200 kcal, probably now 5400…I really should check.

On off days, the two P+Cs become P+Fs, but there is no Surge, so it’s about 1k less. Or least it should be; lately I’ve eaten more because I feel like I’m starving all the time. I should mention: that didn’t use to happen before, and my diet has been unchanged for past 8 months. Actually that isn’t true: it used to be 4k and 3.5k, and it’s steadily risen. So I’m eating more food now, and I’m a lot more hungry. This is either a clue that I really do need this much food, or that I overshot it when upping the cals one month, and now my body “thinks” I need this much food and tells me I’m hungry even I don’t really need it. Can that even happen? I’m not too familiar with nutrition but I assume thats how people get fat. I’ve been eating it because I’m paranoid as hell about not growing.

Sorry I missed your post, kfol. Thanks for all the information. That’s helpful.

A lot of really good food choices!!! Let’s see if we can’t tweak things a bit.

It starts by having goals and making sure that your diet and workout and cardio support those goals. I’m guessing, but I’d say your goals were to maintain your current scale weight, protect and add to LBM (to the extent possible), reduce fat mass (to the extent possible), reduce/manage hunger. If I’m incorrect or if you have different/additional goals, let me know. I’ll be making my recommendations based on the above.

First off, it’s harder to eat fibrous green veggies, fruit and beans when you’re bulking. To take in the number of calories you wanted to take in requires that you eat more nuts, peanut butter, starchy carbs, milk, etc. But it should be easier if you’re changing your goals to MAINTAINING your current weight.

As far as the Surge goes, I like how you’re breaking it up. Have one scoop in 1 liter of water at 5:30, one during your workout and one at the completion of your workout. Have a PWO meal with solid food at 8:00 just like you are now and have your last meal of the evening between 11:00 and 12:00. Meal times would look like this:

05:30 Surge (1 scoop in 1 liter of water)
Workout Surge (1 scoop in 1 liter of water)
07:00 Surge (1 scoop in 1 liter of water)
11:00 to 12:00

My first recommendation would be that you dial in your protein and fat numbers. Eat 1g of protein per pound of body weight each day. Since you’re getting 40g of protein with your 3 scoops of Surge that leaves 175g of protein you need to take in, in the other 5 whole-food meals. Your per-meal protein requirements are 35g of protein per meal.

Fat. To determine your fat requirements, multiply your body weight by 0.4g. Your daily GOOD fat requirements are 86g. Make sure that you’re getting 1.5 to 2 tablespoons of olive oil per day (use it for salads or for cooking) and 1.5 to 2 tablespoons of flaxseed oil (do not use for cooking; make sure you refrigerate it) as part of that 86g. The rest of your fat will come from the lean cuts of meat, eggs and dairy you eat. Don’t go over that 86g number. That means you’ll probably have to cut some of the nuts and peanut butter and cheese. But if you’re cutting some of the nuts, peanut butter and cheese, you need to INCREASE the number of carbs you’re taking in.

I hear you on the veggies and beans. That’s a whole 'nutha topic, (grin), cooking and flavoring veggies so that they’re tasty and palatable. On the one hand you don’t want to use calorie-laden sauces, but make liberal use of mustard, wasabi, soy sauce, ginger, garlic, vinegar, spices, lemon juice, etc. And fresh and frozen are definitely a lot tastier than canned! Finally, make sure you’re not over-cooking your veggies. Make up a big bowlful, eat what you want, and if you get hungry before your next meal, go back and get more veggies.

Make sure you’re getting 3 servings of fruit per day and 1/2 cup of beans. Above and beyond the health benefits, they will stabilize your blood sugar levels and give you more of a sustained release type of energy and mental clarity.

So based on your schedule, I’d recommend something like this:

08:30 P+C (w/ 1 serving of Fruit)
12:00 P+F
03:00 P+C (w/ 1 serving of Fruit)
05:30 Surge (1 scoop in 1 liter of water)
Workout Surge (1 scoop in 1 liter of water)
07:00 Surge (1 scoop in 1 liter of water)
08:00 P+C (PWO Whole-Food Meal w/ 1 serving of Fruit)
11:00 to 12:00 P+F

Have oatmeal in your first meal of the day. A cup would be about right.

For hunger, make liberal use of Sugar Free Orange Metamucil. You’ll go from famished to full in 30 seconds if you follow it with a tall glass of water as the instructions tell you to. But honestly, changing out some of the carbs you’re eating now and adding in sustained-release carbs will help a lot with hunger.

Make sure you weigh and measure each week, and let me know how it goes. Re measurements, all I want is:

right arm
right thigh
right calf

Questions? (grin)