(C)lean Bulking

Fitness, Lifestyle, Mindset

If you already seem to struggle to put weight on, it’s clear that both your metabolism and expenditure favour the same outcome. Being leaner than most people and having the capacity to lose weight quickly is both a blessing and a burden for those with weight gain in mind, granted what we know about consuming too many bad calories or ‘dirty bulking’

This is one ‘method’, great in the sense of committing to significant weight gain, as this is often the factor which puts most people off, however, attempts to gain real weight is no real excuse to simply get fatter.

It was nice to learn the hard way I suppose.

So fat gain. It’s a necessary precursor to muscle gain considering that you’re eating more than you burn, but not just an excuse to eat whatever for the sake of getting stronger. Strength gain and progressive overload is essential, but matters which still don’t warrant this need to over-consume. It’s very easy for this to happen when performance is spot on, and weights seem to be flying up alongside strength increases, it’s still being able to retain all of this when you can’t get the food in.

If you can put your weight on the scale aside from the numbers in the gym and be mindful of the extra weight you’ll have to work back off at some point or another, it’s pretty straight forward in theory. It just depends how much weight you want to accumulate, in what time frame, and for what reason. I chased down 17 stone by whatever means possible, in retrospect if I could have sat comfortably at even a stone less, I would’ve had more time to get lean. Could have probably retained more muscle and reserved the need to implement drastic measures for fat loss later down the line to a  greater effect.

The same goes for dieting, you can’t just decide one day you’re on plan and the next be an exemption, this way you’ll never truly know the extent of your best effort, only your breaking point. It’s an irony which praises the capacity of doing what most people aren’t prepared to, which makes it ok when you fail. We are all too quick to celebrate endeavours concerning our bodies, because it divulges the connection between the gripes of our younger selves ‘I want this’, ‘I want that’ and the adult which says ‘no you’ve had enough already’

Weight gain is an equally precarious matter to those celebrating a lighter weigh in or successful transformation, as an over-celebration to weight increases only result in getting fat too quickly. When I see that someone is doing a ‘minicut’ this can either be adherence to a base recovery diet off the back of over-indulgence or simply an attempt to regain body composition.

Clean bulking is much more effective when body composition is improved, in that anyone can load creatine, carb cycle big meals and look as though they’ve gained lbs of pure muscle, it’s usually not the case. Find a target weight or aim for regaining a body composition that doesn’t just look good first thing in a morning with no food or water. Everyone can say they look lean or their best at this point but it isn’t a true reflection of your physique. The aim is to allow the body to assimilate nutrients from regular meals throughout the course of the day without bloating, affecting performance or having a reverse effect on appetite.

This is bound to happen if you’re just piling in healthy food and expecting to add muscle whilst staying lean, especially meals which taste much nicer when you’re dieting and actually hungry as opposed to eating whilst still relatively full most of the time.

Between water, fat, and everything else in between, it’s not so hard to regain a decent enough physique following a few weeks of overconsumption, but months at a time do no one any favours. To laugh in the face of seemingly minute increase in calories may be reckless if you already have a decent appetite, but bumping up calories too soon only increases the risk of spilling over and interrupting gradual progression. This would only be necessary for the hardgainer who cannot consistently eat enough calories to gain weight everyday and has to compensate for their expenditure, even so, there’s only so much you can consume at once.

If you wish to start your own gaining phase, work out your own TDEE aside what you currently eat and go from there.

Look out for my next blog,

Jake

Fasting or Starving?

Fitness, Lifestyle, Mindset

Throughout the day, insufficient nutrition can often lead to periods of hunger, onset fatigue and influence changes to our mood.

Whether you’re fasting because you don’t like the idea of breakfast as your first meal or simply favour time elsewhere as you wake, this contrast of starving and filling only sets you up for more confusion later on in the day.

By confusion I’m referring to the difference between being full and malnourished. If you think this involves under eating, you’re right, but it’s more of an under eating of the things you NEED rather than what you do not. The title of this blog was initially ‘NEED > GREED’ in that the better we get at differentiating between the two, we have more energy, less moods and no repercussions further down the line. The reasoning for keeping overindulgence and greed from the title is that we are all aware of this happening one way or another. Demonising hunger and cravings doesn’t help anyone. What is important isn’t the WHAT, but the WHY, and the WHY is usually because of under eating.

Prolonged periods of starving and filling, fasting and binging, has a hoarding effect on calories you could have been burning throughout the day. You don’t want to be training with lethargy, neither on your only meal of the day, it’s about having sufficient energy to fuel a decent workout. Merely starving yourself for the sake of a larger meal later on, only denies your body of the bare minimum required to function, make it even more difficult when you can’t help but fill to the absolute brim later on.

I don’t want to get into the black hole of protein synthesis or how much you can absorb in one sitting. How macros are respective to the numerical target and not the quality of food. But just think how long it takes your body to process all those nutrients in one go. It’s like trying to merge twelve cars into one lane, hoping that none of them crash or break down. Or downing a bottle of spirits then eating a high fat meal, your liver will probably be too preoccupied to effectively breakdown the food before the task at hand.

Firstly. Ascertain various points of the day where you can add in more meal(s). Granted that you have enough time to properly digest and assimilate nutrients before breaking your muscles down during training. Rushed meals and hoarded calories only make for disjointed hunger and cravings later on in the day. A time to which isn’t always convenient for cooking or anticipating the best options.

Unless you’re hitting a session fasted or doing cardio before your first meal gone midday, you’re not going to burn that much more fat to soundly justify, if any more at all. Eating is what increases metabolism, enough to suffice till the next and often enough to reach a level of satiety that doesn’t leave room for too many options.

It is options which give the fasting protocol more appeal, a window to eat, another to fast, useful for people that usually eat the most after 8pm. As everything which has a place within YOUR routine, find out the best approach for you. Acknowledge when you get hungry, respectively to the time of day, and what you’ve consumed so far. It’s usually self explanatory as I mentioned in Why We Get Cravings, we are missing something. If it’s FAT, have more of that within your first meal of the day. If it’s sugar, have a small amount of fruit throughout the day.

AND FINALLY.

CARBS. They are NOT the enemy. If you keep skipping carbs irresponsibly, you’re only going to want them more. This is where we get the majority of our energy from. Energy is performance. Bad performance is mood. Mood is stress. Stress leads to hunger. The cycle continues.

Look out for my next blog

‘GET ON A ROLL’

Jake.

All (f)or Nothing

Lifestyle, Special

Most of our decisions take shape on the basis of extremes. Yes. No. All. Nothing. Either we want it all, or essentially not at all. Between the two bears the potential for losing out or seeming to acquire ALL for nothing, DEPENDING ON YOUR OUTLOOK. The first demanding little to no effort or sacrifice, meaning that although you failed to gain anything you can safely breakeven. The opposing side of NOTHING, All, conjuring up every ounce of effort DESPITE THE RISK of seeing nothing in return, so was it all for NOTHING? This is enough to discourage most, encourage some and pose to define a small few. The difference between TRYING and not at all is bound ultimately, by a justifying cost with benefit. This isn’t to say merely trying is enough, but it’s definitely an improvement.

TRYING isn’t filling your fridge and cupboards with foods you know you’re going to eat and just delaying time before the inevitable. Or packing your running clothes for work with the INTENTION to run, and inevitably doing more running away from the prospect. We are pretty predictable beings at best, if we see a better option than the one to hand, it won’t take much persuasion to bolt in the other direction. If you’re someone that is predictable, acknowledge the inevitability of your typical route in real time, get ahead of yourself in the queue and make for some better alternatives than those besides bottomless snacking.

Night time hunger following a substantial meal at tea time means you’ve either under-ate at some point or another that day, over-ate sugar or have overly-anticipated the eating ‘freedom’ you didn’t have at work since, no one needs to know what I actually eat. What I mean by this is again, the relationship you have with food. How often do you binge eat? Or go through these periods of starve and gorge? Look back at our eating habits thousands of years ago when we stockpiled and feasted outside of stress, fear, and prospects for Survival. Survival mode isn’t a state of hunger that you want to create when food is in such plentiful supply. Unless you had to chase a wild bore 10 miles through a ravine in order to burn off a box of crunchy nut, stick to a bowl. If serving suggestions appear more comical than informative, weigh it. Kellog’s don’t care how many 30g portions fit your breakfast bowl, they have to state this information regardless. On the flipside, by denying your body of food for a significant time you are starving it of essential nutrients and priming it for things now seen as hard to come by. We can understand how the more you eat something, the more you crave it, so why not make your body actually crave the things it needs?

Depending on your outlook, everything has a benefit. Sugar, caffeine, carbs and other energy sources benefit our system if it means we are operating well, though they often come with a limited time that eventually wears off and then, immediately sought after. Any lesser the immediacy of impending cost or consequence seems to bring only benefits in the forefront, which is why there’ll always be more gastric bands than there are gold medalists and why a lot of people give up once the novelty wears and the compliments stop. We want it all, and the extras. The sides to compliment the burger. Health, but with moderation, acknowledgement for strength and sympathy when we struggle, it sounds just like we want more of EVERYTHING for NOTHING and with no reminded consequence.

Our reluctance to lose or waste time is equally matched by our need to otherwise spend it, better yet when it concerns pleasure of gratification; earning money, spending it. The same goes for reinforcing such a system of something for nothing, there are some things in life you can hustle and acquire by means outside the rulebook, but the same cannot apply to the successful business of our bodies and mindset; Put some good stuff in, get some good stuff out. Invest in things and people that make you feel good, cut your losses with those that don’t. What’s the purpose of your business? To progress? Help others do the same? Ingest ALL of the good stuff and encourage those around you to do the same rather than shove it in their face, if you’re full this way often enough, you leave NOTHING to chance and the inevitability of gorging for the sake of it.

All or Nothing,

An approach that will serve a benefit for some, and setback others, it comes down to specificity. It’s ALL in the VERBS, EATING, WORKING, SLEEPING, DREAMING.

Being in it PROPERLY or NOT AT ALL. So what’s your trigger for such instances?What kind of relationship do you have with life’s pleasures; is it one that puts your state of WANT before the state of NEED, the WANT to feel better or the NEED to feel the BEST you possibly can at the time, aside the weight of consequence  and impending cost? 

Let’s keep this as loosely related to food as possible, despite being the simplest example to use. Picture anything you simply can’t get enough of, either you sought after it or you don’t. Think about the relationship you have with it, does it dictate most of your thoughts in its absence or is it merely a precursor for feeling better and that’s what you crave? 

We know that associations link our thoughts and influence matters from our conscious rationale to our unconscious dreams. If you think about something hard enough, or even better, try thinking about it less, you’ll be inadvertently demanding it from the universe to see more of. It’s the cruel coincidences of reality that truly test your willpower when you need it most. It only takes one time to abstain from temptation to overcome it. Every other instance after breaking a habit becomes the norm. Make your norm pride and fulfilment rather than FULL-FILLING an ever-hungry stomach with guilt.

follow my journey on Instagram

Jake 👊

 

 

Eating for Convenience or Performance

Lifestyle, Special

If you were planning for a big day ahead; a schedule of important meetings, a hike, or even just a long day of festivities, they all require the energy to do so.

If you went into a meeting without a coffee, a decent breakfast or whatever else your morning ritual consists of, would you find yourself unable to function capably?

If you only packed enough food or water to last you half the journey, would you enjoy it half as much?

And finally, if you didn’t line your stomach with something solid before a heavy drink, could you make it till the evening or barely scrape through the day?

While all these instances vary in their role and function, work, pleasure, limits, none, they all share this contrast of either performing well or not at all. It goes back to what I’ve been saying about this issue with performing the BARE MINIMUM, SOMEthing better than NOthing, but it’s neither any consolation or justification of not feeling or being your best.

Unless I delay my first meal of the day a little bit later, I will always eat breakfast, I used to have a love hate relationship with porridge, in that I loved feeling nicely full, but hated having to wait for it to cook, cool down and eat. This was a whole ten minutes of my day I wouldn’t get back, for the most part I would have took the extra time in bed if it didn’t mean going hungry, to now, being one of the highlights of my day. Of course this comes from being being on prep, appreciating both the food and energy a bowl of oats provides much more than the average person with even less time than I do.

Yes, protein bars, snack bars, ready made drinks and the like are better than completely nothing, but they are GARBAGE compared to real food. Look at the amount of sugar and refined components that contribute to the great long lists of ingredients on the back, your body still has to break down all the things that warrant them being able to sit on the shelf for often prolonged periods, so be mindful of a mere easy protein hit. In addition to this, Focusing solely on the protein content of foods throughout the day and rationalising them OVER carbs and fats is ridiculous, yes you do need protein especially if you are under eating or training often enough, but it shouldn’t be the determiner of all said food choices.

Taking the bare minimum approach aside from food is equally damaging, scraping away at things you’d rather not do, compromising energy away from the things you would. For what it’s worth neither are really getting the most out your potential. It is this lacklustre for anything besides that which we enjoy ultimately down to TIME? the very thing we are all desperate to have more of? If so then, how much more of it would we have if we performed well at EVERYTHING, not just things we enjoy?

It’s easier said than done I know, laughable and shivering with optimism I am at the thought of consummating just as much enthusiasm washing the pots as I do when I exercise, though there would’ve been times where even Matilda would’ve wished she had a dishwasher.

This again comes down to putting the right fuel in, forget food for the moment, simply combust the conviction to rationalises the mundanity of tasks, accepting them, as opposed to questioning why you’re wasting time at all.

Now that that’s out the way,

COOK YOUR OWN FOOD.

Hopefully I’ve not just lost half my readership.

If you’re still here it shows that you’re getting the point. The process before and after cooking is one that’s bittersweet, especially when dieting, the smell making you hungry, having to clean up when you’d rather be resting. Although, there’s definitely worse things you could be doing. It’s a pretty minor undertaking in the vastness of things certainly more difficult and painful, it all comes down to weighing things up solely on cost:benefit, the cost being an hour or your day vs the day being undernourished.

You decide which you’d rather have in the meantime,

Follow my journey on Instagram, jakedarcyfitness

Jake 💪

Lifestyle Changes and ‘Bulking’

Lifestyle

‘Calories are Calories’, ‘If it fits your Macros’, ‘Get a bulk on for the boys’ these are all probably things you’ve heard before when the topic refers to a caloric surplus. This surplus is something I have previously mentioned in ‘Should I eat more?’ being that if we aren’t losing or gaining we are just maintaining a weight that has taken almost a lifetime for our bodies to adapt to. So will it take a lifetime to undo if we allow it? For each of the lifestyle factors that contribute to our total daily energy expenditure (TDEE) what is the best approach to spark a positive response from our bodies, sustaining thereafter the initial month of results? Fad diets, cutting carbs out for prolonged periods and the U-Turn-like switch of habit may provide quick results but does this come without an impending need to replace one thing for another? Swapping whole foods for replacement shakes, stopping smoking and then eating twice as much or ‘fasting’ but not really putting the food back in?

Depending on the person and the immediacy of a needed lifestyle change I would say a   ‘gradual’ over the ‘cold turkey’ approach when it comes to aforementioned diet changes. This should provide more control over decision making rather than creating an erratic ‘forbidden fruit-like’ relationship which can only really end one way. I recently watched an advert for Galaxy chocolate, a versatile premise being one of living each day and savouring life’s moments, a great marketing hook for a Chocolate ‘addict’ with whom each day would literally be sweeter. So what about when other food now seems flavourless and a normal meal is always missing something afterward, could the daily ‘sweetener’ approach be a habit which creeps further into the days to which seem somewhat tasteless without.

So how does this relate to Bulking? Well as the chocolate lover justifies an even sweeter time watching a film or adding a treat to their lunch-break, the ‘bulker’ justifies ‘calories’ More calories at every opportunity; more energy, building more muscle and thus burning more fat in the long run? Even sweeter right? Well where do we draw the line for bulking and just pure greed?

Ascertain your surplus, plan out the ‘bad calories’ and work them in around exercise so that they’re being used for fuel and not for fat stores. Be clever about ‘cheat meals’ as they can impede on the rest of your diet day to day. If you eat a large pizza at 6pm filling you up to the brim whilst still having the rest of the days food to consume, this will make going back to clean calories twice as hard and bitterly resentful. Asses changes to your body composition, does your skin look more ‘watery’ and flat as opposed to tight and vascular, note how said meals and even high sugars both spike and sap energy which you’ll have to sleep off. Sleep being the key to recovery, surpassing the justification merely throwing back more convenient protein and recovery supplementation. Finally, the additional calories that are essentially going to assist in building more muscle will need to hold on and sustain on your ‘new’ frame for a sufficient time in order for it to stay when you cut. Therefore only getting the additional calories from junk food –instead of calorically dense foods– will both hinder your energy levels cutting back down and jeopardise your body composition that has only initially been leaving you more ‘full’ from the extra carb-dense treats and not from solid muscle or what you think is ‘#gainzz’

Bulk smart folks,

Jake 💪

Should I be Eating More?

Lifestyle, Special

If you happen to tell someone they’re eating too much, chances are, they probably are. It’s only until they can identify the amounts; portion size, calorie and macro content can they then comprehend how much they are ‘Over-fuelling’ their bodies. For the ‘Hard Gainer’ –someone with a high Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR)– these same amounts are just as important, if not even more so than someone who is purely overindulging.

In order to ascertain why you are not gaining weight, first you must ask yourself ‘On a typical day, how often am I hungry?’ This is the first give away, the typical time between each ‘meal’, not a snack or a protein hit, one comprised of all three macronutrients; protein, carbs, fats. When you are hungry, your energy mostly comes from that which you have eaten previously, and so, if you’re looking to gain weight, each meal to succeed exercise MUST provide enough energy going through to the next. Feeling hungry is essentially using energy from time previous as well as NOW, if you make it so, what you currently have in your stomach is the determining factor of whether you can both recover and perform later on. Fuelling purely for performance aside, we’re not all swimming the channel, cycling the Tour de France or need 10,000 calories a day, but how often do you drive with your petrol light on? this is essentially being hungry. There’s only so far you will be able to get on less fuel, and when it comes to filling up do you only put in half a tank or the full thing? The answer will determine both how much stress you may inflict on your vehicle rationing gears, if you can comfortably make it to your destination and at what cost.

If petrol stations were not open for 24 hours and we had to ensure a full tank throughout the day who would benefit the most; the morning or evening filler? neither, and while one can simply park a car until its next use, the body continues to metabolise during sleep regardless of whether it has been filled up or not. My point being one with the intention of addressing the malpropre justification of impending excess, built up from the days of rationing nutrients to surmount an even bigger challenge of appetite, only then surmounted by an even greater height of satiety which later stands to sister the peak of nourishment that your body REQUIRES daily. If the goal is to gain, there has to be no other route than the one which sustains beyond what which could allude to be the peak, sustaining a contingency plan for another treacherous slump. The mood gauge swayed by the gravity plummeting momentum if you make it so or the catalyst to scale the next scramble.