Typically, I rip off my ears as soon as somebody starts talking about ‘calories’. Of all the misunderstood nutritional concepts that saturate the world of exercise, the concept of calorific intake is responsible for more idiotic conversations and warped diets than any other.
However, when it comes to providing a simple representation of how much energy I am putting into my body every day, I find they have a use. Having kept a somewhat sporadic food diary since Xmas, I have recently realised that my average energy intake is somewhere in the region of 1600-1800 calories per day.
As somebody with a resting metabolism of around 2500 calories, that could be seen as something of a problem for me (now is not the time to discuss the virtues of under-eating*). When you consider that I do at least 2 hours of hard exercise most days of the week, you get a fairly clear insight into why my body simply cannot keep up: it is using up about 1500 calories more than I put into it almost every day.
So I’ve started to eat more. As much as possible, really. I’ve also started supplementing my diet when I don’t have time to eat as much as I should do, using 50:50 (protein: carb) shakes to keep my energy levels up and help me recover. I’m not really a fan of protein shakes, but on a whim I tried out Sci MX Muscle Meal, which I have now upgraded to Omni MX.
I’m pleased to say it is working! I have a lot more energy already and can push myself harder in the gym, which is resulting in an increase in my overall strength:
Body Weight: 76kg
Bench: 120kg x 1 and 105kg x 5
Incline Press: 110kg and 100 x 3
Squat: 160kg x 1 and 140kg x 5
Deadlift: 200kg x 1 and 190kg x 5
I am, however, having to keep an eye on my weight. After all, I’m doing this to stay strong, healthy and full of energy. I’m certainly not trying to ‘bulk up’, especially in the traditional way. For one thing, I’m not really interesting in growing and, for another, bulking up rarely seems very effective.
The traditional method of bulking up involves putting on as much muscle as possible, then losing all the extra fat you’ve accumulated to leave nothing but toned, fat-free muscle. Most people, however, seem to put on a bit of muscle and a lot of fat, then struggle to lose that fat via a muscle-devouring combination of cardio exercise and dieting, resulting in a marginal increase in ineffective, fatty, inflated-looking muscle and a shit-load of pointless suffering and joint damage.
This couldn’t be further from what I am trying to achieve with my training, which is designed to make me as powerful and effective as possible. I currently weigh 76kg, which makes my bench about 1.6x my weight, my squat over 2x my weight and my deadlift over 2.6x my weight, which will hopefully increase to 3x at some point in the coming months.
Providing these ratios stay the same, I’m happy for my bodyweight to increase. If I get heavier, but my strength and agility suffer, I’m going to have to reconsider my nutritional tactics. 80kg of functional muscle would be fine, but any resultant drop in overall ability would seem utterly pointless.
So let’s see what happens! I’m sure you can’t wait to find out… I’m now actually starting to bore myself with this post, so I’m going to kill it off.
Farewell for now!
*Although you need to consume more energy than you expend in order for your muscles to grow, expending more energy than you consume can make your body to focus on repairing and strengthening your muscles, rather than making them expand.