When it comes to building more lean muscle mass, there are three important requirements:
- Intense overload through a heavy weight lifting workout program.
- Proper nutrition providing the raw materials your body needs to generate more lean muscle mass .
- Adequate rest in order for the process of muscle tissue assimilation to take place.
If you’ve been doing your research, you likely have a very good handle on all of these things. You’re hitting the gym regularly, you’re making sure to get in 5-6 meals a day at regular intervals, and you’ve started prioritizing your sleep, making sure that you’re obtaining at least 7, if not 8 or 9 high quality hours of rest.
All seems to be under control, right?
As you go about the process though, you may find yourself hitting a plateau. You might find that it seems like you just aren’t getting bigger and stronger despite doing everything right. It might even feel like your body is broken or something. It’s just not responding the way it should.
Frustrated, you consider tossing the towel. Maybe you just aren’t meant to be big and muscular.
For many men, especially those who have done their ‘research’, this is how the story plays out. Sadly, often one of the biggest reasons they’re struggling is because of that ‘research’ they conducted.
Let me explain.
THE TYPICAL ‘BODYBUILDING NUTRITION SCIENCE’
Go on any bodybuilding forum out there and you’ll find one thing: guys talking about how much protein they take in. Everyday people also back this up. Just ask anyone on the street what they think about when hear the term bodybuilder and at least a few will say something to the effect of ‘slamming back protein shakes’. It’s common knowledge that those who are hitting the weights hard need to be eating more protein. Almost any site you read online will tell you just that. But, this is precisely the information that has led you astray. Truth is, you don’t need more protein. You instead need to make sure that your body is using the protein you are eating more effectively. And this is where most bodybuilders and fitness enthusiasts alike fail miserably. Allow me to introduce myself. My name is Wade Lightheart. Like many of you reading this right now, I started my bodybuilding journey young. For me it was at the tender age of 15. I was excited about the body I could build and couldn’t wait to hit the gym each day and see what I could do. I was a naturally small guy and all I wanted was to build more muscle. I kept at it, working hard day in and day out. Over the next 15 years or so, all while being a vegetarian bodybuilder, I was able to capture 13 different bodybuilding titles, in five different weight classes. I was constantly hungry for more and after winning at one weight class, I would set my sights on advancement. My goal was to constantly be improving – constantly be getting bigger and stronger. I was able to win three national titles and competed at both the Mr. Universe and Natural Mr. Olympia contests. Throughout this time, I learned a few things. And some of those things, I learned the hard way.
One of the most important lessons I learned however was that there is more than one way to go about building muscle mass. I saw guys using all kinds of different strategies – and seeing results from those strategies. Sometimes to my utter amazement. What I really came to understand however was that the real champions were the ones that had really dialed into their own body and had figured out the ultimate diet that was best for them. They weren’t following some cookie-cutter approach some contest prep coach gave them. They had been fighting the battle for years and throughout, and had learned exactly what their body needed and when. Then I saw those who hadn’t yet learned this important lesson. Instead of tuning into their own body, they were simply chasing the latest information in the ‘bodybuilding industry’. And, by and large, this means eating more protein. These individuals get to a point in their career where they know they need to advance but aren’t entirely sure how go about it. So they start eating more protein. Everyone else seems to be doing it and they’re constantly bombarded with information about protein supplements and how it’s so important for recovery that they take their consumption to sky-high levels. P3om will be the best solution.
My body had become so acidic thanks to the dietary practices I was using that I had actually reduced my protein digestion efficiency. In addition to this, in my acidic state, my energy was depleted, and I was at risk for increased acid load on my kidneys, increased risk for kidney stone formation, as well as increased bone loss (Brinkley L, et al., 2002). Despite the fact I was doing everything that some of the top coaches in the industry told me to do, it wasn’t until I learned from a doctor who gave a presentation about enzymes that I learned what was really going on inside my body. This doctor helped me learn that thanks to my high protein intake, my body was so incapable of digesting protein efficiently that no matter how much protein I consumed, I was only actually obtaining just a fraction of it because all of my enzyme reserves had been exhausted. Let me back up a little and explain how this works. I was one of those individuals. In 2003, after coming off my first Mr. Universe, my intake was up to 250 grams of whey protein every single day. 250 grams of whey protein! This wasn’t even accounting for the whole food sources of protein I was eating each day from the fresh fruits, vegetables, beans, and grains I was eating. This was an astronomical level by anyone’s standards, but I felt it was going to get the job done and help me come in looking my best. And I did look good. I walked on stage and felt I had achieved success. It was only after the show that I realized the consequences of my decisions. Over the next 11 weeks, I proceeded to gain 42 pounds of fat and water in just 11 weeks, not to mention I felt absolutely terrible. I was riddled with fatigue and felt like all the energy I once had was now gone.
A LESSON IN DIGESTIVE PHYSIOLOGY
Each and every time you consume food, your body is going to go through a number of different processes all aimed at breaking that food down. Digestion is a highly complex process and in order for you to reap the nutrients your food provides, it needs to be completed smoothly and effectively. When we look at all other species, they eat their food raw. If you’re a tiger living in the wild, you prey on zebra and when you catch one, you eat it raw. If you’re a cow, you’re feasting on grass all day long, another raw source of nutrition. It’s only humans that have come to cooking their food, which is where the problem begins. Now, I’m not telling you to go eat a raw chicken breast or start requesting your steak to be blue rare. Far from it. But what I am going to tell you is that you may not be actually delivering the protein to your muscle tissues like you think you are. Foods in the raw state, as we see in the wild, contain all the digestive enzymes that are necessary in order to break that food down in the stomach. These digestive enzymes are designed to help break down all the foods we eat into smaller molecules, which our body can then absorb and utilize as it is meant to be. When we heat our food however, many of these digestive enzymes are destroyed (Gatellier, P., & Sante-Lhoutellier,V., 2009). So now you have a whole load of protein delivered to your body without a way to break it down. In addition to this, heating certain proteins can also lead to them becoming denatured, which then renders them nearly useless to your body, if not dangerous in some cases. One study published in the British Journal of Cancer noted that barbequed meat was positively associated with renal parenchyma carcinoma, illustrating that it could potentially put you at a higher risk for kidney cancer development (Colt, J.S. et al. 2011). In addition to this, another study published in the Cancer Epidemiol Biomarkers noted that when ‘well done’ or ‘very well done’ meats were most often consumed in subjects, there was a 1.26 fold increase risk of incidence of prostate cancer (Cross, A.J. et al. 2008). When you cook your foods, you destroy the digestive enzymes present that help your body absorb the food.
Your body is smart however and will find a way to deal with this. You can’t have undigested food sitting in your gut for the rest of time, so it has worked out a solution.
This solution is to utilize its own resources to assimilate digestive enzymes so that food can be broken down. How does it do this? It breaks down bodily protein to do so. Since digestive enzymes are made from protein, if they aren’t present and your body has to create them, it needs those raw materials to do so. Do you know where protein is found in your body? In your muscle cells. So in essence, when you take in that large dose of cooked protein, your body realizes it needs some digestive enzymes in order to break this food down and as such, rapidly begins breaking down your lean muscle mass in order to create them. And it only gets worse. The more protein you eat, ‘supposedly to preserve lean muscle mass’, the more muscle breakdown you start to see. If you don’t do something about your enzyme supply, your muscles will eventually be broken down.
Without enough enzymes in your body, it’s easy for protein to remain undigested in your intestinal tract. As this process continues to go for months, if not years, eventually your body just becomes inefficient. Soon your body won’t be able to keep up and next thing you know, you’ll have undigested protein sitting around in your body, making you feel miserable.
GETTING THE HELP YOU NEED
In order to get yourself out of this situation and to a point where your body can actually start assimilating and digesting the protein that you’re eating properly again, you need to look at the root cause. The root cause is all that cooked protein you are eating that contains no digestive enzymes and as a result, is forcing your body to create these on its own. Reduce the need to create the digestive enzymes, and you’ll have reduced the muscle breakdown that is occurring – and helped that protein you just ate to be digested. If you constantly suffer from gas and bloating, and can barely stand your own smells when you go to the bathroom, chances are good you have undigested protein lurking in your body. Basically, this means that much of the protein you’re eating is simply going to waste. You might be spending hundreds of dollars each month on protein supplement products only for those supplements to be completely wasted, harming your body in the process.
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