If you happen to be (un)lucky enough to find yourself on a first date with me, it’d be wise to refrain from mentioning anything to do with healthy eating, macronutrients, deadlifting, or brown rice. If you mention any of these trigger words, I’ll undoubtedly dive into some rendition of the stream of consciousness-style informational dump that you are about to experience. Enjoy, my newfound lover!
Since this piece is all about me, I’m going to take the liberty of diving into the first person while describing my (somewhat insane) eating habits. Before you jump to any conclusions though, no, I’m not eating human flesh, road kill, or anything else that you may imagine a psychopath would eat. What many people (including myself at times) find so psychotic about the way I eat is the sheer quantity of food I’m forcing myself to put down meal after meal.
There’s a method to my nutritional madness that probably isn’t for everyone. I sit at a comfortable 230 pounds (give or take five pounds of fluctuating water weight). Over the next few years, though, I’d like to build a big, bulky 245-pound frame. There’s only one way for me to achieve this goal: I must eat like a clinically diagnosed food addict each and every day. As it stands, I’m attempting to take in 3,408 calories of clean, healthy calories daily. I’m not sure if you’re aware or not, but by eating cleaner foods (and very little fat), it takes a bit of effort to amass more than 3,000 calories.
It starts with carbs. I don’t know what I consider myself, but I really like to squat and deadlift. People tell me I should do pull-ups, bench, and other presses too, so I dabble in those as well. Maybe I’m an extremely amateur powerlifter. Maybe I’m just a dude who likes to lift weights. Regardless, carbs are the driving force behind my body’s growth and my ongoing ability to move more weight in the gym.
Every body is different, but after lots of trial and error, I’m positive that the only way my body grows is by consuming heaping piles of rice and oats each day. In the summer of 2011, I decided that I wanted to be lean (replace “lean” with “shredded,” “ripped,” or “emaciated” as you please). I cut all carbs out of my diet, did fasted cardio every morning, and continued lifting weights. While I did get down to and maintained a bodyweight of 180 pounds, I was severely displeased by my inability to make my muscles grow. Now, to reiterate what I just said, the current, 50-pounds-heavier me knows that he needs carbs to grow.
First, how many carbs does a dietary psycho eat? Right now, I’m attempting to shovel in around 485 grams of carbs per day (quick math shows you that 485 grams of carbs equals 1,940 carbohydrate-based calories). The way that it works for me is to eat about 70 grams of carbs (always oats or brown rice) at each of my daily five meals. That still leaves me with 135 grams of carbohydrates to make up for, though, and I don’t always manage to get my five meals with 70 grams of carbs in either.
In the morning, I have either one cup or three-quarters of a cup of oats blended into a smoothie with two cups of berries, a handful of spinach, and 50 grams of protein from two scoops of protein powder. One cup of oats has 56 grams of carbs, two cups of berries will account for somewhere around 40 grams of carbs, and the brand of protein I always use (BSN’s Syntha-6 — you can’t find a better tasting protein powder out there) has 15 grams of carbs per scoop. The variations of this smoothie that I make each morning have at least 120 grams of carbohydrates in them.
Carbs aside, the rest of my diet should come from protein. While I do splurge on the weekends and get a lot of fats in (try to keep me away from anything with avocado in it on a Saturday, I dare you), I’m trying to have all of the fat I consume come during the week be a byproduct of my proteins and carbs. (You’ll see the nonsense that happens to me every night when faced with pistachios in just a minute.) My guiding principle, something that I read years ago, is to consume about one and one half times of my goal bodyweight in grams of protein every day. Ideally, I’d be consuming about 367 grams (1,468 calories) of protein each day.
I get a solid 100 grams from Syntha-6 (two scoops in my morning smoothie and two scoops during or after training). The rest, I’m not ashamed to admit, I eyeball. When I was 50 pounds lighter, the food scale was my bible, but that’s no longer the case (partially because it’s broken). Two of my three lunches have a full chicken breast. These boneless, skinless chicken breasts vary in size, but I’m pretty sure that I’m not going to experience any negative nutritional or muscular side effects from eating a chicken breast that’s a little larger than normal for second lunch one day. Trying to calculate the macros in a chicken breast is unnecessarily difficult (figuring out if the website you’re basing your calculations on is a raw or cooked weight can be so unrewarding and frustrating), but let’s just say that most of my chicken breasts are about six ounces in weight and packed with 50 grams(ish) of protein. Third lunch is always one scooped cup of lean ground beef (I buy the 90 to 10 lean to fat ratio kind when my bank account permits), and I read somewhere that a cup of ground beef is roughly (roughly, people, I’m no scientist and I know nothing about the metric system so don’t even ask) equivalent to eight ounces. Eight ounces of 90/10 beef has about 45 grams of protein. Ipso facto, by the time I’ve finished third lunch I’ve consumed somewhere near 245 grams of protein.
With 122 grams of protein and 140 grams of carbs left to consume after third lunch (please don't check my math), I tend to listen to my body for the rest of my food intake. Instead of eating two smaller meals like I strive to (and probably should), I find that there’s quite literally not enough time in the day to do so. I’ll drink a Gatorade or two during my workout and, sometimes, I’ll even split a banana with my golden retriever (his name is Goose and he’s my best friend) before heading to the gym. I normally have another cup of ground beef, a cup of brown rice, and an entire microwavable bag of sweet peas after my workout. I also habitually cave on the “no fats” thing and have a handful of pistachios nearly every night. I know they're in the pantry, and once they pop into my thoughts it's game over. I’m never quite sure if I’m hitting my daily macro goals, but I do know that, by eating this way for the past few months, I’ve been growing more than I ever have before.
While I’m employing a bunch of bro science here, I’d like to talk about cheat days. These cheat days are avocado-seeking Saturdays and Sundays on which I stray from my quarter-ton of food workweek meal plan. My weekends honestly start with good intentions: I plan on just eating the way I do during the week, but a little more loosely in order to make sure I’m getting enough healthy fat in. What normally happens, though, is that I’ll see pizza, eat pizza, and undergo an unhealthy eating relapse. Other than eating eight slices of pizza (by the way, these must come from Nicolosi’s in Phillipsburg, New Jersey), my weekend cheating usually involves processed meats and ungodly quantities of nut butter.
Enough about me, though. What did you say your name was, again?