I’m sure that you’re all familiar with this concept: the fact that you have to eat big to get big. But, I would like to tell you that it isn’t necessarily true. I think that it can be true- to a degree- but for the vast majority it is not relevant, not just yet. And here is why:
The whole craze is about being big. So let me ask you, what is ‘big’? For me, big is pro-bodybuilder big, the type of big that warrants a second look as you walk past people in the street. If your goal was to attain a physique of this degree, the first thing you would have to do is eat like a pro, right? Eat big to get big, right? Wrong. Think about it logically, if you take someone who is 135lbs soaking wet and have them consume the amount of calories that the pro is eating do you really think they’re going to blow up by 100lbs and turn into an astounding, head-turning mass monster? No, they aren’t, that type of metamorphic transition is not at all feasible. On that amount of calories they’re most likely going to get fat and there’s no two ways around it. A person of that size certainly wouldn’t have enough mass on their frame to allow them to eat such a high amount of calories. They wouldn’t have the same massive muscles to feed as the pro-bodybuilder would.
I would suggest changing the phrase slightly, how about: eat RIGHT to get big. Eat right for you, if you’re starting as a beginner who isn’t carrying a lot of size, get in the gym, stimulate growth and then feed your body adequately. This doesn’t translate to eat 1000 grams of carbs a day- you aren’t Jay Cutler- it simply means: feed it enough to recover. Then, as you start to see the results and you start to add lean tissue, then you can increase your caloric intake because now it makes sense. You have larger muscles, so they now require a larger amount of glycogen to fill their stores and a greater amount of protein to repair the now bigger muscle, which ultimately leads to the growth of the muscle.
After you follow this process and reach a size similar to a pro (if your genetics allow you to) you’ll be eating way more calories than when you first started out. But now, the difference is that you actually need them to maintain that size and need even more to grow. Perhaps another slight change in the expression: eat big to STAY big.
The only instance I can think of in which a person with very little muscle mass would need a lot of calories to grow would be those with a fast metabolism. Juan Morel is a prime example of this (not the very little muscle mass part-the guy is huge, I’m talking about the fast metabolism). Juan eats a ridiculous amount of calories day in day out and manages to stay peeled to the bone. I can imagine that with a metabolism of that stature, he’s had it since birth, so in order for him to grow he’ll have needed more calories than your average Joe would. But it all boils down to genetics, Juan falls under the category of genetic elite and as aforementioned, I’m referring to the vast majority of those who train, not those who are genetically gifted.
So, I would suggest learning your body. If you are eating a considerable amount of calories from the right sort of foods, if you are training intensely and ensuring that you have enough recovery time to allow your muscles to grow, and you still aren’t seeing the results, then make changes. Change up your training at first. Incorporate new exercises, try more volume, less volume, added intensity. For me, training to positive failure is essential so make sure to hit that failure but how you go about achieving it is entirely up to you. If you are reaching positive failure, recovering and eating right and you still aren’t growing. Then I would lean towards upping your calories slightly. Then monitor things both in and out of the gym: watch your strength, is it the same? Is it increasing or decreasing? Do you feel energetic? Or lethargic? There are numerous things to consider and it takes a long time to learn your body but it is well worth taking the time to do so.
To conclude, do what works for you. Everyone’s body is different and you have to learn how yours works. There’s so much more that goes into building muscle than just eating big. It’s like I said, focus on eating right not just on eating big. Monitor your progress and make adjustments accordingly. Consistency is the most pivotal aspect of this sport, so make sure to remain consistent.
Most importantly: don’t fall into the mainstream traps of the fitness industry, don’t settle for, or succumb to mediocrity. The road to greatness is a lengthy one and very few reach the end of it. You aren’t going reach the end of the road walking the same paths as everyone else out there- you have to walk the unexplored paths in order to reach undiscovered lands of greatness.
Train hard, eat smart. Achieve your goals and remember: don’t be intimidated by uniqueness.