Dietary Flexibility: Adjusting the Numbers Based on the Physique Goals
Summary: I’m going to show you how simple it is to adjust the details of the Intermittent Feast diet to match your current physique goals. For better or worse, New Year’s is a time of transition, and regardless of what new (or old) goals you’ve decided to pursue, this diet can be modified to help you accomplish them. The overall structure of the diet stays the same (hunt & feast), but the numbers change.
First off, I want to start off by saying I know you don’t really give a sh*t about me or my pursuits, you just want to know how my experience as an athlete and coach can help you reach your goals. I get it.
But I’m going to use myself as an example in this one, because I think recent changes I had to make in my own plans are a good example of how flexible this dietary approach can be. I truly believe it is a year-round lifestyle plan that can be used regardless of the goal — gaining muscle, slashing fat, or maintenance/recompositioning.
And of course, it can help you seamlessly transition amongst those goals at a moment’s notice.
I also think it will help answer a lot of common questions I’ve been getting through various channels. And on a side note, I’m NOT ignoring any of you, its just been hard to keep up with Da Inbox while having an offline life.
How do you specifically adjust Da Feast for this or that? Well I was in maintenance mode, mapped out and was about to go into bulking mode, and for an upcoming opportunity, had to completely switch gears and go into full on shredding mode.
WHERE I WAS AT
So for the past few months I’ve been in maintenance mode. Basically, I wasn’t training or dieting for anything specific, just maintaining good condition. I don’t yo-yo up or down drastically because I want to look decent all year round for my personal (mirror) reflection time, not just for photo shoots.
At 165lbs, the diet basically looked like this. Since I engage in consistent, anaerobic activity, it is a carb-based diet (if you are sedentary, you should follow a lower-carb version of a Paleo Diet):
15 calories/lb: 2500 calories
1.5-2.0g pro/kg or slightly less than 1g/lb: 150g
15-25% calories from dietary fats, mostly by-product of a mix of lean and not-so-lean animal proteins: I was around 45g
Remaining calories from carbs: roughly 375g
How was I achieving this? Although sources varied, basically the summary is:
20 oz of animal protein
unlimited non-starchy vegetables
1-2 pieces of fruit around da workouts
all starch at dinner from rice or potatoes (which means on most nights I was eating around 300g of carbs or roughly 6 cups of rice).
Low-carbers, I do have a defibrillator near by.
WHERE I WAS GOING TO GO
My initial plan was to shift into a muscle gaining/bulking mode for the first part of the year. I hoped to compete in some natural bodybuilding contests at the end of the year, and planned to gain some size and move up a weight class. The adjustments were to be simple:
Calories go up through carbs
Protein is already at optimal levels = stays the same. Fat comes primarily as by-product of protein = stays the same. Carbs are increased to get into that surplus necessary for gaining muscle. New totals:
18 calories/lb = 3000 cals
Remaining calories from carbs = 500g
Food choices stay the same, just the starch portions go up, so that’s like 9 cups of rice at dinner. One question I get is, “what if I just can’t eat the recommended food amounts in one meal at dinner?” Well first, doesn’t that just sound like a funner challenge than, “how do I stop myself from gnawing off my significant others’ arm as a result of dietary-induced starvation?”
But yeah, when food amounts start to get this high, I basically suggest breaking up that feast into 2 dinners: one early (4-5pm), one later (7-8pm). So more along the lines of a traditional fitness spread, but not so extreme that you are back to an impractical plan of 18 meals a day every hour.
Basically, a protein and veggies lunch, and then two starch-loaded meals toward the end of the day. 1-2 pieces of whole fruit around the workout.
*Note: I personally increase carbs in bulking phases until I reach about 5-7g/kg of bodyweight, which is right about what Sports Nutrition research recommends for strength training athletes. After this, liver and muscle glycogen stores are probably nearing saturation. At this point, that’s when I would start including “added” fats as a means to increase calories.
And if you have some degree of insulin resistance and shouldn’t be eating high amounts of carbs, then personally I don’t think you should be bulking either. You should be losing weight, improving insulin sensitivity, and taking care of your overall health first. Then you can worry about bulking. That may not be considered “hardcore” bodybuilding, but I save my “hardcoreness” for the bedroom, not with regards to my overall health.
WHERE I’M GOING
Over the Holidays, a potential big new opportunity was pitched to me. Legally, I’ve been told I can’t talk about the details, but basically it is a video-based fitness project with a major international distribution partner (vague enough legal team?). Not only has my training had to change a little bit (from pure bodybuilding back to a hybrid plan that incorporates more of my martial arts background), but my diet as well.
Basically, they want the ripped Miyaki. I’m shooting for John Rambo 3-style shredded.
So the next day, I shifted the diet towards fat-slashing mode. And again the transition was simple — calories go down through carbs
Again, protein is already at optimal levels = stays the same, fat is primarily by-product of protein so it stays the same, carbs are decreased to get into the deficit necessary for fat loss (although note, they are not cut out completely. If you are in a calorie deficit, you can keep some carbs in the diet to support anaerobic training, lean muscle mass, and natural hormone production). New totals:
12 calories/lb = 2000 cals
Remaining calories from carbs = 250g
Food choices stay the same, just the portions are adjusted. And I’ll tell you a few days after eating 9 cups of rice at dinner, 4 cups of rice seems like a disturbingly unsatisfying snack. But its much better than the old diet days of trying to pretend a piece of protein and a few lettuce leaves was a real dinner.
THE TRANSITION SUMMARY
1. Diet structure stays the same regardless of goal (but maybe splitting up the feast into two dinners during high calorie bulking phases).
2. Protein and dietary fat (as by-product of protein) stays the same = optimum levels to support lean muscle and natural hormone production.
3. Calories go up or down based on physique goals, primarily via carbohydrate changes.
In studying philosophy, I’ve come to the realization that the messenger is irrelevant, its the message that matters. The same thing is true in fitness. So don’t just copy my plan because this might not be exactly what you need to do with the exact numbers, given your unique situation and goals. But I think it does give you a good idea of how to transition between different dietary phases.
You can start by plugging in your numbers based on your bodyweight and goals to get a good ballpark starting point. But from there, you’ll need to take some personal accountability and then test, assess, and refine in the real world to find what works best for you.
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