T Nation

Whole Food and Cutting Up


Is there a program where the training is with just a barbell and weights - and only whole foods are used instead of supplements to be cut up? When I say whole food I mean instead of taking vitamins, the vitamins must be from food only. When I say whole food I mean eating the egg WITH the yolk, or meat that has not been altered to be fat free. The same goes for milk.

I see all of these articles and programs with supplements and altered foods, it makes me wonder, and challenge the notion of having a such "Real" program, where vitamins are from food, and the food sources are whole. No protein powders, no NO2, no creatine, glutamine, etc... and I am not saying these are not foods, because I do use supplements, and I do know all the tricks to cutting up. I am curious to know if one ever wanted to do it with just whole, real food, is it possible?

I do not mean any disrespect writing this, but I wonder what would happen if they didn't have this flame out or this anaconda? How can any of this be possible if food was the only source? How can the striations be seen? How can the veins come out and stay out? Has anyone tried the "real/whole" approach?

I think of the old time body builders that may not have had the supplements we have today, and I think of sculptures from the past all with muscles, but no supplement we now of. Of course they don't have the extra thin skin or striations we can have today, nor do they have tons of veins popping out either. This being said, as I respect and admire and use supplements, is there any experts here that would dare do without them and get the same results? This is an article I would be very interested in seeing.


Roughly 10,000 years ago our food sources had higher omega-3 values, lower omega-6 values, more than 4 times the nutrients, and no to low hormones,antibiotics, herbicides, fungicides, insecticides, chemicals and additives.

On top of that, the physical/emotional/mental/electromagnetic/chemical/dietary stressors were only present at NECESSARY times, whereas today many Americans are running around with adrenal fatigue to the max.

Im all for organic and whole foods, getting sunlight, getting sleep, getting exercise, meditating, ect...

But, we live in a different world today. And supplements help us cope.


I'm not aware of anyone (around here at least) that has claimed that you can't get big or lean without supplements.

In most cases, the main reason to use supplements is their convenience. Good supplements usually are concentrated, easy-to-prepare source of nutrients otherwise found in food.


Shelby Starnes bases his programs almost wholly off of whole foods from what i hear.

Although i don't know details i know he uses very few if any supplements in his cycling.


I do believe it is possible to get all the nutrients necessary to maintain a healthy body (besides omega-3s, just can't see it) but given the fact that most bodybuilders or health enthusiasts are on some type of restrictive diet, I think it would be hard to achieve all your nutrients without the use of at-least a whole foods multi vitamin/mineral or some type of food supplement. Before supps were around we were getting wayyy more nutrients through good foods.

That's just my opinion.


Mark Rippetoe's Starting Strength and his other books are great barbell lifting books. You'll learn how to squat really well!

On top of that, if you're skinny, he recommends drinking a gallon of Milk a day. If you're currently eating maintenance you could try only half a gallon since that will give you about an extra 500-600 calories.

I take Flameout, Surge, and Metabolic Drive but they are just supplements based around tons of veggies, yams, chicken, beef, eggs, oats, and steak.


There are so many things wrong with this question that it scares me. Seriously, who actually eats just the egg whites, and what the hell is fat free meat? Since when is there any other way to train aside from using barbells, dumbbells, and heavy weights?

But your entire first paragraph aside (and to answer your question), not only is it POSSIBLE, but I would actually argue that it is OPTIMAL in many instances to take a wholistic (or whatever term you would like to assign it) approach to dieting. Aside from the fact that pretty much all of the supplements you've mentioned are worthless (and ignoring the fact you could have spent that money on QUALITY food), the only legitimate one - protein powder - should play a limited role, if any, in a cutting cycle. If you think about it, because i's a liquid it will naturally be absorbed more quickly into the bloodstream and have less of a thermic effect than whole food protein sources would. One could also argue that it is less likely to be consumed with fibrous vegetables which would probably otherwise have accompanied a whole food protein meal. Obviously, the caveat here would be for peri-workout nutrition, but this is still optional (although highly recommended in my opinion) and can be offset by some intelligent nutrient timing strategies.

Supplements are designed, by nature, to SUPPLEMENT an already solid lifting and nutrition program, not the other way around. I'm sorry to say that there really are no tricks to getting cut up, especially ones that come in bottles, pills, or powders (maybe in vials of illegal substances, but that's outside the scope of this thread). My advice would be to stop looking for a specific "program" to accomplish your goals and just do some research and become your own expert. It will definitely work out better for you in the long run.

And just to add some validity to these claims, the last time I decided to cut (about a year ago) the only supplement I used was fish oil (because I consider it a food source) and it was by far the most successful cut I have ever done. By successful I mean dropping to single digit body fat while keeping every once of muscle and even gaining some.

Just get your shit together training and nutrition wise (if you haven't already) and I guarantee this will get you 90% of the way to your physique goals, regardless of what they are. Supplements might be able to take you the other 10% of the way, but even then it's probably less than that. And this is coming from someone who absolutely LOVES supplements. Seriously, Anaconda is the shit... but we don't NEED it, especially not for cutting.



supplements are called SUPPLEMENTS for a reason... they are supposed to... wait for it... supplement real foods. They're to help you out if you dont get the nutrients your body needs from real food.

Like a protein shake if you cant eat some chicken or steak right then, or vitamins if you cant get enough foods with high vitamin content at that time. They arent nessecary but people think they're some magic pill cause they want instant results and gratification.



I am really happy to see these posts that are answering what I am looking for. I am not about to write a diet biography, because it would look fictional, especially since my first diet was when i was eight years old, but even before that, when I was six i swore off McDonalds because it was too average to me. I didn't know anything then, and I have come a long way from being both anorexic 110 pounds to a whopping 300 plus pounds that wasn't even from eating.

I have sustained almost every physique goal I wanted. i have done many diets all with the success they promised- from weight watchers to ud2 to carb cycling, and all to what lead me to this post. In fact, i have been wanting to post this for months now, and each time I tried typing it I knew how wrong it looked.

I stopped going to the gym tree years ago, and with just a barbell and weights is when I just started seeing the results that I could not obtain in the 12 years at a gym. I stopped going to that gym because they didn't like how my training routines became. They didn't allow barefoot training, which I swear by. Quitting my gym was the best thing.

I have been trying to keep my bodyfat as low as I can, I stopped measuring it years ago because it fed too much into eating disorders. i just go by what I can and can't see. The same goes for my weight. It's about what I can see. Most of the time, I am usually in the single digits. It is hard to stay there, but I manage. It does put a halt to the parts of my goals as far as putting more muscle on. I have had my bodyfat so low at the time I was going to my gym that their special contraption couldn't register it, and they had to find some "specialist" to take it, and they claimed at the time I didn't have any, but I know that's not possible.

My thing was, and is...how can I keep my levels so low and still put on muscle. I have tried the whole foods ideas, I have tried many different variables, and I won't stop. Last summer I had myself training over two hours - no supplements, except vitamins, and I did make some progress, but I couldn't take the extra body fat, because I know I can do better. The only thing different was I allowed whole eggs, and I used cottage cheese instead of caesin before bed. -this is an abbreviated version...I experimented with that, as well. I got rid of that extra body fat by eliminting the yolks and switching back to caesin.

I did not go the whole whole food route, because I know to get all the vitamins that would mean using fruit, and I consider fruit sugar, and I DO gain weight from even fruit. I do not use carbs or fat, regularly, because when I do, it's good bye cuts.

Right now, I am in the middle of it, and it's fine, but I like to take things to another level.

Big deal I can reach that cut goal with my own dietary/training program, but I know there is more to it.

I do not use whey after a work out, I usually use fat free chicken or fat free turkey and a bjs wholesale bag of romaine. I am too hungry for a whey drink. I am too hungry all the time anyway. Whoever says fill up on vegetables is full of it. Vegetables do not fill me. I eat a pound of broccoli before bed after my caesin, and I have had the whole 3 pound bag at times, but never full. It's after a gallon or two of water that fills me, but only until I go...and that's just it.

I suck it up and make myself deal with it. I have my free days, as I don't call them cheat days anymore, and while not getting into that, even those fill me for the moment, but after I wake up from my free meal slumber I want more, but I don't because I know the repercussions of that.

Right now, I am fine with where I am, but I do want to see what more I can do with more solutions and answers. I will keep experimenting, I will keep trying things. It doesn't matter. I work out just so I can eat. I eat clean just so I can have that free meal. I also do it so i don't get fat, and fat to me is when I can't see striations in my shoulders or chest.

I know that training hard is where the results are. I know there is no secret rep/set. I don't actually do programs, because I learned, from this site especially, that consistency is key, and switch things up when applicable. I train every day, even though it's not supposed to be, I believe that its best for me to train each day. Rest is for bed time.

I am interested in seeing more articles about whole foods on this site to better understand things I will gain knowledge from. I eat 25 g protein every three hours with spinach, romaine, cabbage, or broccoli, I stay away from fats and carbs, and that's where I stay single digit body fat. I train one hour a day for now. Supplements for now are noxplode, optimen multi, fountain of youth hgh, and eurycoma. That is just in case anyone asks what I am doing.

I did write a lot more than I wanted to, but usually with posts like this come questions I rather get out of the way.

I am all ready seeing a lot o the answers, and I want to thank you all for the input. I did not realize so many people feel the way I feel at times about supplements. I was worried that I might offend someone by asking these things. I just fixed my giant paragraph to make everyone happy, as well.


Paragraphs needs paragraphs




My eyes! Ugh.


Try an elimination diet for 6 weeks. You will shred up nicely. If you read CTs forum, you'll have read that he also advocates an elimination diet as a way to get and stay lean, healthy and growing.

And don't you dare come back with "What is an elimination diet?" That's what google is for.



Trust me I rather get my vitamins from food rather a pill. I am always hungry, but the obstacle I keep running into is the restrictions I seem to have to follow to keep the body looking cut up.


Yes, there is a lot wrong with what I wrote, and it took me a few months to even think of how to word it, but these anaconda reports provoked me to just finally write something up. All these articles with flame out and whatot just kept making me wonder what happens if these didn't exist, or how can this be done with food only? I have a lot of mixed feelings pent up.


9 out of 10 times when a younger kid or a new trainer approaches me at the gym with questions, it's not about nutrition, or even proper training methods, it's about what supplements they should take. THIS IS WHAT IS WRONG WITH MOST TRAINERS. THIS IS WHY THEY MAKE NO PROGRESS.

Proper eating, and basic training aren't difficult concepts, but they have been fed a bill of goods that says that they absolutely need the latest supps to make gains. I used no supplements when I started out, and I did just fine.

DO I use supplements now? Of course, as an adult with real life commitments, the convenience factor is undeniable, and there are actually products out there that will make a difference (on top of a solid diet and training program), but you can take all the Anaconda in the world, not eat nearly enough, 'train' without even stimulating any muscle adaptations to occur, and you'll most likely end up on some online forum complaining how Biotest makes crummy products -lol.



No offense, but this question indicates that you obviously have a lot to still learn about nutrition.

I've been using a slightly modified version of the Anaconda protocol (w/SWF) with great results, but again no one has ever claimed that you can't build muscle or get lean without supplements.

Your diet must be pretty screwed up if you think this way.


...and that is why I am posting these...there is tons for me to learn here. The thing is I know what works for me, but I want to know what else can work for me. I will never stop learning.

As far as the way I eat, through experience, I know and do what I do through experience. For me to be extremely cut up, that means no fats, even the so-called healthy ones, and that means no carbs, even if it's fruit. Through experience, I gain body fat without certain supplements, as do the visible veins are no longer visible without other supps. I know there is more to learn from here. That is what I thought this forum would be for. I don't need to be told my diet must be messed up if I think like this. I am looking to learn things I do not know of.


wait... no carbs OR fats? WTF?

post your diet please...

EDIT: or you're saying to get really low BF levels you cut out all carbs/fats?


yes, to get really low body fat levels I do not use carbs/fats, but i like to try and keep my bf levels low all the time, but as for my diet, here ya go:

here is today:

11pm: 4oz fat free ground turkey with half a bag (12oz) of raw baby spinach with 5 bags of green tea sprinkled on top a gallon of water
1:45-2:45am work out
after work out:4oz fat free ground chicken, half bag club size romaine (says serving size 2 cups, servings per container 11, sometimes I eat the whole bag) and a gallon of water
5:45am: 4 egg whites and a head of cabbage & half galon to a gallon of water
8:45am; 4oz fat free turkey with the rest of the bag of romaine, water water water
11:55am-(coming up)- 1 scoop ON Micellar Protein in very little water, so it's like pudding or cake batter & 1 pound of brocoli or more and water to hopefully fill me enough to sleep through.

This is how I usually eat through the year. It does vary when I experiment, but I am careful of how I go about things.

I do have "free meals" or "free days"...these are not too often, but I do allow them when I am depleted enough. I just learned that the fat after a free meal is just bloat and goes away in a few days.

I know there are carbs in the vegetables I eat, but I refuse to omit them. Been there done that and promised myself never to do that. i will never eat a meal without a vegetable present. Even though they do not fill me, I know at least I am getting some nutritional content without worrying too much.

If i have gained weight from these vegetables then i say so be it. I wouldn't be surprised.

If anyone thinks I don't eat enough, keep in mind before I knew about the nutrition i came to know now I used to cut up by only drinking water and taking vitamins for 4 weeks and spending 2 hours on cardio...that was 10 years ago. Yes i fasted on water and vitamins. I have come a long way and i am sure i still have a long way, but I know I need to assure myself this. I promised myself I'd never do that again as well.

Now it's me, a barbell, and what I can learn from.