Silverback Nutrition: Eating to Win
- Often it's not what you eat, but how much you eat
- There are no windows for nutrition, but there is timing
- Increased meal frequency can lead to better gains
- Supplements aren’t that important
Gaining Lean Muscle
For me, my goal is to increase strength, more specifically increase my bench, deadlift and squat total all while maintaining a low body fat percentage (10-15%). A few of my idols are Mike O’hearn, Stan Efferding, Chris Duffin and even Mark Bell, who has gotten much more Jacked & Tan over the last couple of years. They are all 250 lbs - 260 lbs-ish and 6’0-6’4. I am currently 5’11 - 6’0 226 lbs and hoping to put on at least another 10lbs of lean mass. Before I get into what I have been doing, I have an analogy I like to use when people ask me about nutrition and eating habits.
A Quick Analogy
The best way to sum up how to think about food and eating habits is to think of your metabolism as a campfire. If you have a decent fire going but then you throw one massive log on top that covers the whole fire, you'll smother it and significantly reduce the intensity of the flame. However, if you were to keep feeding the fire smaller, more manageable pieces of wood, the fire would increase in intensity or at the very least continue to burn at its current rate. I like to think of my stomach the same way, which is why I eat 6-8 times per day and I have been able to put on 15+ pounds on over the past 30 weeks all while maintaining a noticeable six pack/staying relatively lean. I have friends who eat 2-3 times per day (if that) and each of those meals are enough to feed a small family, yet they complain about excess belly fat and have a hard time gaining lean muscle mass. If my body is not sure when it is going to receive its next meal it will start retaining fat as a reserve so that I can survive, which would be a super handy feature hundreds of years ago when we hunted for our food and meals could be few and far between. However, it is my opinion that these few large meals that are spread by 6+ hours at a time are what is causing some people that I talk to to retain unwanted fat. Jon Anderson has touched on this subject, and if you do not know he is, google him and see that this guy is the real deal when it comes to having lean muscle mass. He eats 6-8 times a day because the smaller meals do not stretch out his stomach as much and helps him maintain a smaller waist line since he says the bigger meals end up stretching out his stomach and making his midsection look wider.
The frequency and size of your meals is not the only thing that should be considered. I've been learning about the Thermic Value of food, which is “the amount of energy expenditure above the resting metabolic rate due to the cost of processing food for use and storage". What I have interpreted this to mean from hearing Stan Efferding talk about it, is that when you consume a lean protein like turkey or chicken, your body will burn 20-35% of the consumed calories just processing the protein. Where as for Carbs your body only burns 5-15% and fats are even lower at 0-5%, as you can see by these percentages, depending on what types of macros and how how many grams of each you are consuming, it can really affect your diet and calorie goals. If you are someone who is having a hard time gaining weight then Stan Efferding who talked a lot about this concept when he was on Mark Bell's Powercast recommends you add “proteins that have a higher fat content like bacon, eggs, cheese and butter.” I don’t know about you, but I love bacon, eggs and cheese, so I was ecstatic when I heard Stan encouraging people to start eating these foods if they are looking to gain weight. However, if you're trying to lose weight then you will want to do the opposite essentially, that doesn’t mean cut out all fats and carbs, but reducing them and increasing lean protein consumption will have you well on your way to shedding fat.
Supplements: Not a Holy Grail
With the massive growth of the fitness industry over the last few decades, there have been an increasingly large number of supplements hitting the market. There seems to be something for everyone and everything - preworkout, intraworkout, postworkout, pre-sleep, post-sleep, intra-sleep! While there are certainly useful supplements that can improve your performance, in some way or another, there is an even larger portion of supplements that are effectively useless or severely under-researched. At Silverback Power, we keep our supplement regimen pretty simple. In fact, we use food as our biggest supplement. Powerlifters, and athletes in general, can often be deficient in many vitamins and minerals, and while a multi-vitamin from the local pharmacy might seem the easiest route, it's almost always better to fill your needs with food. If you can include red meat and plenty of vegetables (all colors of the rainbow), you'll generally be more than healthy. If your diet consists of fast food and frozen dinners, you might be able to hit your macros, but there's a large chance you'll be deficient in your micronutrients. As for the more gym-related supplements like preworkouts, the biggest thing you should be doing is research. Examine.com is a fantastic resource for information about all kinds of supplements - and whether or not they're useful. What Examine.com has going for it is that it's run by independent academics who analyse and critique existing studies in order to determine their usefulness and credibility. Examine.com would be able to tell you that in the case of a preworkout like C4, a) many of the ingredients have not been found to have any significant impact on performance and b) for the ingredients which are useful, they are often not in the correct dosages. If you're really interested in preworkouts, we highly recommend doing your research if you're looking at buying a particular product, or even making your own. This is just a small part of what we could talk about in terms of nutrition and supplements, but it's a start. Good luck on eating to win!
- The Silverback Power Team