college bodybuilder cooking tips

Dear K***,

Based on your last letter, I think we should start ramping up your calories faster than we originally planned. We still have to do this gradually, and intelligently. But with you being 22 years old, 6’2″ and 158 with not an ounce of bodyfat on you, we can’t afford for you to have any extended periods where you “feel hungry.” Not with the amount of muscle we’re planning on adding to you.

We’ve already gotten you from 3 meals a day to 7, which is the first good step. We have to make sure that you don’t rely too heavily on powders and supplements, though. Supplements are great, and you have to use them to get enough protein in your diet for the gains you are looking for.  But, I’ve also told you to vary it up: a meal consisting of a dozen egg whites,  meal consisting of 16 oz. of chicken breast, and so on. If you start getting lazy and “substituting” these “real food” meals with powder, you won’t be getting the balance of different kinds of protein you need and it just won’t be as good for you over all.

There is also the issue with carbs. Your age and metabolism mean you can burn through the cereal in the morning and the bread in the sandwich that you were telling me about, but in order to get you to build serious muscle mass we will need to be seriously increasing your carbs intake… and it needs to be complex carbs. Not cereal, not bread, not bagels.

The thing is, I know how lazy you are. Luckily, I can relate. I was exactly that lazy when I was 22. Any meal that took longer to make than to eat was out of the picture. Anyone who tried to describe food that was “easy to make” would get tuned out the moment I heard the word “ingredients.” At 22, I didn’t want meals that had “ingredients.”  I wanted something that came in a container, that I could put in a microwave or a pan, and then put in my mouth. End of story.

So, assuming you’re pretty much on that same page, here are my suggestions.

Baked Chicken Breast:  I know you see the word “baked” and you think “cooking” and you freak out. But, trust me, there is nothing to this.  You take the boneless, skinless chicken breast from the store; you wash it; you put it in a pan; you rub spices on it if you want (“Chicken Fajita Spice” is good); you put it in an oven heated to 325 for 23 minutes; you take it out and eat it.   End of story.  You can even bake 2 at a time, so that you have one for lunch and pre-make one for dinner later that night.

Turkey Burgers:  Buy one of those containers of 1 pound of almost fat free ground turkey breast (not “ground turkey”); open the container and cut it into quarters; mash each quarter into a “burger” shape; put them in a pan; cook them until they are the right color, flipping occasionally, and poking with a fork to make sure they are done all the way through.  Eat 2 for one of your meals, and 2 for another. (Do not eat all 4 at once.)

And for carbs…

Plain Oatmeal: There is literally nothing easier than this, and it’s a good complex carb that is much better than bread or cereal. Once you have ramped up to the levels for making major gains, you may be eating as much as a cup of plain oatmeal three times a day.  You take a scoop of oatmeal, add the right amount of water, and put it in the microwave for the right amount of time. The “right amount” will depend on where you are in your gaining progress: right now, half a cup is one serving. Like I said, we will be gradually increasing this over time. (Make sure it is plain oatmeal: all of the flavored oatmeals have too much sugar.)

Brown Rice: It will be worth your time and money to buy a good rice cooker. Get one that that has markings that show you how much rice and water to put in, that you can set to “brown rice” as a setting, and then just walk away for however long you want and come back and it won’t over-cook it. These things exist: the right kind of rice cooker will cook it perfectly and then keep it warm until you show up.  That way, when you finish (for example) your after-workout meal of oatmeal and protein shakes, you can start up the rice cooker and when it is time to make your chicken breast for dinner the rice will be ready.

So that’s what I’ve got for you, man: dietary suggestions for putting on muscle for the extremely lazy. And it works: what you see above was my diet plan for over a decade. 😉

When you get this, write back with your new weights and let me know what exercises you’ve increased on recently, and what you haven’t.  We’re about ready for another step up with the lifting!




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