I want to touch on this topic as it greatly affected me in the past. I mentioned my history of becoming obsessed with fat loss in the past and this GREATLY affected my muscle gains, even though I knew exactly how to build muscle. I use to research the perfect muscle building routine and pair it with a diet that would be insufficient for a 10 year old boy. Thinking back as to why I did this, just makes me angry, because I wasted so much time.
What happens when you pair a really good workout with insufficient food? NOTHING. And depending on how far you take it may end up looking WORSE. You could work twice as hard as people that are “jacked” in the gym, but if your under-eating you literally waste all your hard time and effort in the gym. Muscles need food to grow, its that simple. As a matter of fact, if you don’t eat a certain amount of calories, carbs or protein on a diet, then your workouts literally break down existing muscle tissue in order to fuel your workout. So essentially your going to the gym to lose muscle and get smaller. (Trust me I did this unknowingly, all just to lose fat at all costs) A workout is an extremely catabolic activity (meaning it breaks down tissue) the real magic of building muscle comes afterward when you EAT ENOUGH FOOD to recover and build new, bigger and stronger muscles then before you went to the gym.
Now lets just say that during college I never got interested in losing fat and literally just worked hard to build muscle. I would have followed the simple yet effective advice consisting of going to the gym, working out hard, eating sufficiently, sleeping and repeating. Over the 4 years I was in college I would probably have at least 10-15 more pounds of muscle on my frame then I currently do. In other words, right now I would look much better by EATING SUFFICIENTLY (maybe even slight over-eating) vs DIETING (like way too many people do and 9 times out of 10 gain it all back).
I really wanted to get this post out, because of how important it is to eat enough. Take a look at most bodybuilders and you will see that they are extremely strong and most of the time they have awesome muscular definition all the time. Most of their diets are LOADED WITH CALORIES. Traditional knowledge would say that they run everyday and eat like a bird to maintain that body. Quite the opposite in fact. They eat a ton and lift weights for their exercise and as a result their metabolism and muscle mass continues to grow and creates a very aesthetic body that most people would kill for. So please don’t get too caught up in dieting to achieve your goal physique because it doesn’t work and in the long run will just make you look worse.
Muscle growth takes time though. So just feasting every day and going to the gym to make up for lost time is not going to result in more muscle gains. Well you will build muscle, but you’ll also blow up like a whale (fat gains) and no one wants to do that. The best approach is what I’m currently doing, which is to take it slow and find your nutritional sweet spot that allows you to continuously progress in the gym without adding fat. (strength gains are pretty synonymous with gaining muscle, even if you can’t see muscle growing in the mirror on a daily basis.) In my junior year, when I hit my lowest weight of 153 lbs, I was DB benching 45 lbs for 8 reps. (lost a lot of strength at this point and was also on a very low carb diet, which is terrible for lifting weights). I used to do this amount in high school. This week I broke two personal bests in a row, first with 85lb DB for 4 reps and then 85lb DB for 6 reps. I’m really enjoying breaking my records and putting the past behind me. It’s time to apply the knowledge I have and stop whining about the past. Better late then never in my case and I look forward to watching my body change for the better.