Want to Get Buff? (Are You Doing This)

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One thing that I am constantly talking about on the Bones to Bulk podcast is how you have to be eating right if you want to gain lean muscle. Food is often the number one thing that is over-looked with any fitness goal.

Typically people think “I need to start lifting weights.” Well yes, you do, but that’s only a piece of the puzzle.

You have to be eating enough for your body to actually produce muscle mass. You can lift weights in the gym all day, but if your body doesn’t have an excess of calories to build those muscles, not much will ever change. I touch on this in the starters guide to getting buff.

And it’s not just about eating enough, it’s about eating the right types of foods. You can eat enough calories by just eating donuts and pizza, but that’s not going to pack on lean muscle mass. It’s only going to put on the wrong kind of weight.

You’ve got to focus on eating the right amount of the right type of food.

And what is the right type of food in order to gain muscle and go from skinny to buff?

Lean meats, complex and whole grain carbohydrates, fresh veggies and fruit and lots of water. So if you are struggling with packing on the muscle take a closer look at what you are eating and how much.


Why You Should Track Your Calories

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Do you track calories? Should you? Is it important or not important. There are people on both sides of the fence on this one. I firmly believe that if you’ve never tracked calories your eyes are about to be opened to just how crucial nutrition is to gaining muscle and going from skinny to buff.

There are so many things in our food and different things we eat that we are completely unaware of. As a result it’s very easy to miscalculate how much we are eating and what the breakdown of our calories is.

You may have heard that you have to count your macro-nutrients. Now basically all that means is figuring out what portion of your calories comes from protein, what portion comes from carbs, and what portion comes from fat.

While it can be an aid, there is really no reason that you have to meticulously figure out your macro-nutrient breakdown. If you are eating clean and not eating junk food then don’t stress too much over the macros.

What you should be focusing on in order to gain muscle which we talk about in our free starters guide to get buff, is counting your calories. This is easier than ever now.

Just download a “calorie tracker” app, or if you have a fitness watch use the app that comes with it. Then just type in what you eat and the app takes care of the rest, adding up everything you’ve eaten and telling you what you have left.

If you don’t know how much you should be eating and how much you do eat, then it is going to be hard to pack on the muscle, so save yourself some trouble and start off with tracking your calories.

Why Diets Keep Failing You

“Tomato, orange, and vegetable in a bowl next to a fork and knife” by Kawin Harasai on Unsplash

Diets, they are all the rage right? Walk into any bookstore, browse Google, and spend anytime on social media and you will find no shortage of diet options. Some allow you to eat just about everything, some eliminate whole food groups, some only let you eat carrots and organic unicorn horns.

Diets are by nature set up to let you down. They will have some short term success, but they are extremely limited in their capability because they are rarely ever able to sustain you. It’s not very realistic to never eat another carb again, (if you can then by all means go for keto).

Diets tend to promise one of two things, either they are extremely strict in what you can and cannot eat, or they are the opposite and promise amazing results while eating whatever you want.

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The last thing we need are more diets. The thing that will continue to give you life long success is changing the way you think about food, discovering what types of foods to eat from every food group. Nutrition is so much more than a diet, it’s re-wiring the way you think about food, the way you view food. So much of what marketers portray as healthy simply isn’t. Low or zero calorie, fat free, sugar free, they don’t mean healthy.

So before you get on another diet, rethink it. If you are looking for something more sustainable that will carry you to your goals, check out our nutrition plans. You can also learn more in this week’s podcast.

How Empty Calories Kill Your Gains

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If you are not familiar with “empty” calories, it’s basically food that doesn’t do anything nutritionally for us. Sure it may taste good, but the way it makes us feel afterwards is usually anything but . I thought the donuts picture was appropriate since I love me some donuts. Not much tempts me when it comes to junk food, I can completely ignore candy or cake, but sit a box of donuts in front of me and I will probably start pacing while I have an argument in my head over having one.

Food cravings are real, and realizing that is the first part of the battle. The second part is telling yourself and making yourself believe that you don’t need it. Because you truly don’t . Eating empty calories like donuts, or sugary cereals, or sodas (diet or not), white bread, etc. All this may satisfy those taste buds for a few minutes, but they are destroying your gains as they give your body no nutrition to build with.

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When you chew up and swallow food your body immediately goes to work using healthy carbs, proteins, and healthy fats for a variety of functions in your body, from energy stores, to muscle development, to hormone levels. Anything the body can’t use for any of these purposes it stores as fat.

Not only do these empty calories go into our fat stores, but the energy our body spends trying to digest it without any benefit slows us down, giving us even less energy.

So before you grab that donut in the break room remind yourself how you don’t need it, your body doesn’t need, and your muscle gains don’t need it. Find more at our website and get access to our video that takes the guessing out of what to eat.

Muscle Gains Through Nutrition

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So maybe you’ve been at your workouts for a decent amount of time now. You are to the point where you enjoy the pump and are now just waiting for those muscle gains. Only one problem. Where are they? Maybe they didn’t get the message to come out. Sure you think you can see a couple more veins in your arm and you’re pretty sure there’s more definition in that arm, but it’s not quite what you are expecting or wanting.

Where are those biceps? Where’s those hamstrings popping?

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The reason those muscles are not growing and you aren’t getting the results you want isn’t for lack of effort in the gym. But rather because your muscles aren’t being fed sufficiently. You’ve probably heard a lot about being in a calorie deficiency in order to lose weight, well the opposite is true if you want to build muscle, you have to be in a calorie surplus. By eating more than your body needs to maintain you are going to put on weight and if you are lifting then that is going to be translated into muscle growth.

skinny to buff
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Now the other element to this is that it won’t be effective if you just eat whatever you want. It’s easy to get in a surplus of calories if you are downing cheese dip, chocolate, and pizza, but that is going to add weight in the wrong areas, so make sure you are eating clean. Lean meats, whole grain/whole wheat, and complex carbs, healthy dairy products, and fresh veggies and fruit. It takes work and determination and grit, but if you’ve been at it don’t get frustrated and quit. Keep going and start seeing the gains you’ve been wanting. If you really want to dig into the program even more check out my guide on Amazon.

How Many Calories Do you Need?

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So what is that magical calorie intake number that will allow you to shed pounds?  It may feel elusive but it’s truly not.  For starters when you are trying to figure out how much to eat you have to establish your baseline.  Your baseline can be found by clicking here.  After you plug in your information the calculator will generate how many calories you should be consuming for losing one pound a week, or two pounds a week.

You will want to follow the calorie recommendation for losing two pounds a week.  Now you have your starting point.  You will also need an app like myfitnesspal, or loseit, both allow you to plug in foods you eat and it automatically calculates how much you’ve eaten and how much you have left.

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Now here is where a big misconception come in.  In many of these apps it also allows you to plug in your workouts, and tracks not only your workout but how many calories you’ve burned in that workout, then it will add these calories you’ve “earned” in your workout to your total daily allowance.  This is where you don’t listen to your app.

For example.  Let’s say your baseline says to eat 1500 calories day.  By lunch you’ve eaten 750, and then you do an hour long cardio workout where you burn 400 calories.  The app will tell you that instead of 750 calories remaining in your budget, you now have 1150.  But this is incorrect.

The baseline number is what you want to stick to, and ignore the “extra” calories it adds on from your workout.  Those aren’t bonus calories you get to eat, if so what would be the point of all your hard exercise if you just ate it right back.

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Hope this simplifies some of the confusion in this area.

If you have any questions feel free to comment below.  If Facebook is your thing, we have a great community where I post a lot of videos on different subjects and there are people in all stages of their fitness journey.  Would love to have you a part of it.

In addition, if you want to know more you might want to check out my book on Amazon.

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Can Building Muscle Help Lose Weight?


Can building muscle help you lose weight? Absolutely.  For every 10 pounds of fat you burn 500 more calories each day.  Added up over a week you have burned 3500 extra calories.  This puts your body in a deficit.  Which leads to you losing one pound per week.

Now as you begin to gain muscle right off the bat you won’t see much change in your weight.  Sure you are going to be losing fat, but gaining muscle will result in not many changes to your scale right off the bat. But stick with it.  This is a process.  It doesn’t happen overnight.

So keep lifting, this is going to change you.  You will get those muscles you want and lose the fat.  And as you do lose the fat, those muscles will start popping.