How to Grow Intelligently in 2012

by on January 1, 2012

January 2012: How to Grow Intelligently

So what are people going to start doing January 1st to grow some muscle in the hopes of competing and doing well next year? Well I can’t tell you what everybody is doing, but I can tell you what I am doing and what many of my people are doing!

My first rule in offseason training, with growth as the objective, is to not get sloppy fat. There is no reason why you should ever lose sight of your abs. I expect to at least see the outline of the abs on the people I work with. For most guys it’s somewhere between 8-12% bodyfat, for women 12-18%, it does vary based on the person’s genetic tendency to store fat in certain areas. In terms of the food we will be eating, here are rules that we follow.

1. Do not eat calories for the sake of eating calories. Yes, you have to be above maintenance with your overall calorie level, but don’t do it by eating crap.

2. Make sure you are eating real whole foods. This is not the time to get lazy and start eating a bunch of refined carbs, soy protein bars, corn oil, etc. When you eat something, there better be a vitamin or mineral etc. that benefits you, not just 50 grams of carbs.

3. Make sure that fat and protein levels are adequate. You know that there are essential proteins and essential fats. You can’t take out either for a long period of time. Keep them in.

4. Carbs are going to be our tool to raise bodyweight up and down. If we aren’t gaining, we will eat more, if we are gaining but it’s fat, we will lower them.

5. More on carbs – How do we add when stuck? We start adding in carbs around training time first (pre and post), if that doesn’t work we add them into the earliest meal not around training. That usually does the trick.

Have a plan!

So how much of each should you eat? Obviously this will vary from person to person, but generally I like to keep fat around 28-32% ish, and protein at about 35-45%. The rest comes from carbs.

Shoot for your bodyweight x 15 as your starting overall calories. For example, 220 x 15 = 3300. Adjust from there! For contest time I like to focus on putting 80% of carbs in and around the time you train to facilitate recovery, and to give you energy to get through the training! In the offseason we will spread carbs out a bit more. Here is what I mean.


  • Meal 1 – eggs, veggies
  • Meal 2 – low carb shake, nuts, fruit
  • Meal 3 – fish, veggies
  • Meal 4 – meat, oats, nut butter
  • Meal 5 – shake, Ezekiel bread
  • Meal 6 – meat, brown rice


  • Meal 1 – eggs, veggies, oats
  • Meal 2 – low carb shake, nuts, fruit
  • Meal 3 – fish, veggies, brown rice
  • Meal 4 – meat, oats, nut butter
  • Meal 5 – shake, Ezekiel bread
  • Meal 6 – meat, white rice

So simple concept here. Spread carbs out.

This is not the time to start hammering simple carbs. Keep the carbs clean. I know a lot of guys like to eat tons of simple sugar to get their insulin levels up (very anabolic hormone), but you will also get fat this way, and create inflammation in your body due to the constant insulin elevation.

Fast metabolism people

Sometimes for people in this boat, it is impossible to eat enough clean food to even gain weight. This is reality for many. In this case, I don’t add crappy carbs every single day, I add in high calorie cheat meals. I start with two a week. If that is not enough I do 3, then 4. That usually does it. I can’t think of anybody who I had take more than 4 large cheat meals a week. So what constitutes a cheat meal? I like burgers and fries personally. I also like pizza and milkshakes. Are they good for you, no, but if you are eating the way I am talking about, your body will laugh at a few bad meals. Don’t’ sweat it. I time these meals around the person’s life. If they want to go out with their spouse, and have a nice meal, then do it then. Enjoy life and this will not seem like work.

Slow metabolism people

These people get cheat meals too, just not as many! I also use a lot of glucose disposal agents and insulin sensitizers with carb meals for this body type. This is to ensure blood sugar is getting back to normal levels after meals. It facilitates the process. Lower blood sugar means burning more fat, so less chance on getting doughy. Most guys with slow metabolism have varying degrees of insulin resistance or leptin resistance. I may even have these people do low carb days as needed to help repair insulin resistance.

I am weird about certain things. I actually want people to measure and weigh food IF they are not progressing well. It’s short term and tells me more specifically what they are doing. It’s easy for me to have someone increase food by having them eat 1 cup of something if I they knew they were eating ½ cup before. I don’t like to get obsessive with this too much until contest time.

I also like for people to weigh themselves. Sometimes I think I am the only person who still advocates this. The reason why is because I don’t want to see drastic changes. If someone gains 5 lbs in a week, it probably wasn’t all muscle! I would rather see nice and steady gains of 1-3 lbs a week, depending on the person and the time they have.

That’s it for this short and sweet article. As always, feel free to send me questions via the website!!

John Meadows