by Cade Thomas
Building significant amounts of muscle is a selfish endeavor no matter how you slice it, and there are certain sacrifices that must be made on a social and financial level if progress is something you value. Genetics are always a factor that can either afford you a certain leeway to live a little or shackle you to a micro managed existence, and most of us fall somewhere nearing the second one.
One trend that increases as the “Look at me” generation becomes more and more prevalent is the desire to showcase the undesirable aspects of the lifestyle as if to earn respect by “out-suffering” others. These people fail to realize 10lbs of muscle gained is 10lbs of muscle regardless if you salted your food or not, and 5% bodyfat is 5% bodyfat whether or not you paid 11$ per lb for organic protein sources or got them from the discount deli.
Fact is, most of the more successful bodybuilders you will meet spend more time organizing their lives than they do complaing or even bragging about the amount of organization it requires. Something can be said for just doing the damn thing, and once you actually commit to being 100% dedicated to a regime for an extended period of time, the “Badass” factor wears off. People who actually spend an hour or two a day cooking and weighing meals for the following week usually have no interest in telling everyone at the gym or on their instagram account how much time they spend in the kitchen.
So let’s assume you legitimately want to maximize your results and efforts with the least amount of social and financial damage, and you have no interest in earning insta-cred from a bunch of equally lost attention whores.
First off, food doesn’t have to be expensive. Eating a bodybuilders diet is dramatically cheaper than following the average persions food plan (aka no plan), as long as you are willing to cook. If you are not willing to cook, you are not a man/woman and you should remove your mothers teet from your mouth before reading further. I will never understand how people claim this is an expensive lifestyle food wise. If you live in North America, there is absolutely no possible way you should require more than $25.00 a day on food and that is if you live in the higher cost of living regions. Buy your chicken breast frozen (can be as cheap as $2.00 per lb and up to $5.00). Do the same with your fish. Egg whites are $2-3 per carton, and although Whey protein has skyrocketed in price over the years, it is still cheap per serving in comparison to other sources. So say you eat 2 chicken meals, a fish meal, an egg white meal and a protein shake. Top it off with some whole eggs or beef and that is less than $15.00 if you consume 50 grams of protein per meal. Carbs are dirt cheap in the form of rice and oats, and this allows for some fresh fruits and a fat source all for well under $20.00.
This is not the most extravagant diet, but we want results not luxury. Yes you could argue that grass fed beef and fresh salmon are excellent at building muscle but let’s get real, you can build a solid foundation on basic bargain stuff and still get a healthy variety.
Your food doesn’t have to taste like white dog shit, and you are not any more of a man for thinking it does. If you are lean enough and off season, use some lower calorie sauces. If you are avoiding any fat gain or trying to lose fat, put some damn salt on your food. Basic garlic, salt, pepper, etc can make every meal worth eating. If you for some reason can’t have sodium then Mrs.Dash is your new booty call.
Cook in bulk. It’s so obvious, but sometimes needs to be said. If you have a BBQ cook a few lbs of meat at a time, or throw em in the oven. If you don’t like the marathon food prep, at the very least you should cook an extra few meals worth of protein every time you cook one to eat. Have your carbs in the fridge ready to be re-heated. This shit is too simple to spend much time on, but I am surprised every day I meet lifters who are willing to stack 4 different drugs and plan out an elaborate PCT but won’t spend an hour in the kitchen so they are prepared at work and won’t miss a meal.
You can go to the movies. You can go to the beach. Sheltering yourself does not send any extra signals to your body to increase anabolism. Eat before you go, have a meal ready to re-heat when you arrive home. If it’s an extended outing bring a shake and keep it in your car, but for the love of god do not whip it out in front of anyone to make sure they notice you.
If you reach high levels of competition than a minor detail could mean the difference between first and second, but let’s be honest; the elite are not in need of any advice. If you are a recreational or even intermediate bodybuilder, you can progress and not lead a miserable life. In my opinion, if done correctly, no one should know you are a bodybuilder except for the obvious that you hopefully carry an inhuman amount of muscle and your dinner plate looks different than others.
If you are doing everything right, people should see your dedication busting out of your t shirt and assume your lifestyle is different than theirs, if you have to tell them that your lifestyle is hard than you are doing something wrong.