…unless you’re a teenage boy, or a hard-gainer.
The guy on the cover of Men’s Health Magazine is a professional model. His job is to look good, and he doesn’t look that good by cutting back on carbs and doing crunches.
That guy probably pays money to look that good. A lot of money.
I work in a body building gym in San Francisco. It also just so happens to be San Francisco’s “gay gym.” Sure, straight people are allowed in, but the member base is predominantly male. You’re either a body builder, gay, or both.
It seems to me that body image is as important to this particular member base as it is for women! Everywhere you look, there are tight, hard bodies pumping iron. There’s the core group: the members who arrive every day, without fail, and work out for 2-3 hours. Lift-pause-lift-pause-lift-pause.
…and then some “cardio:” slow, deliberate steps on the stair mill–forever.
I don’t know enough about body building to give an in-depth analysis, but what I can tell you is that these guys have the most expensive bodies of anyone I’ve ever known in a neighborhood gym.
- $200 a month for supplements: protein powder, meal replacement, BCAAS, and more.
- $100 a month for extra food: shakes, smoothies, and chicken. Lots of chicken. Insane amounts of chicken.
- $0-$400 a month for personal training and accountability.
- $80-$200 a month for body work, including stretching, massage, hair removal, and tanning.
- $$$ = Time. Tons of time exercising and eating. Time planning meals. Time commuting to and from the gym. Time waiting between sets. Having a solid body is one of the most time-intensive exercise goals of them all. It’s like playing a sport, only your “practice” is 2-3x longer every day, and you have to invest 2-3x more time fretting about your food, and 2-3x more time recovering (every workout aims to demolish muscles; every workout aims to leave them twitching, dying, and torn at a microscopic level, in order to repair and grow bigger and stronger). What is an hour of your time worth?
Don’t get me wrong. I have tremendous respect for body builders. It is a sport that requires insane precision and dedication.
But I’m weary on their behalf. I’m weary for the time they spend fretting about whether one shoulder looks bigger than the other, about whether their kidneys are okay, whether they are coping with their body dysmorphia constructively.
Hey! That’s just for body builders! I don’t want to be a big massive guy. I just want that 6-pack!
Take a ticket. You and everyone else who doesn’t want an ounce of fat on them. And there are two ways to get rid of every ounce of fat:
1) Just don’t eat. Ever. Give up food.
2) Don’t eat carbs. Hyper-dose yourself on protein. Stick with natural, unprocessed fats when needed, and lean protein the rest of the time. Oh, and when you’re ready for your photo shoot, dehydrate yourself.
The body is designed to have a healthy layer of fat on it. Your brain is wired to seek out fat and sugar. When it ingests fat, it thinks, “Awesome! Let’s eat more of that!” When it finds sugar, it says, “Whoa! Cheap, delicious energy!” When the two are combined, “Holy shit! The is the most amazing food stuff I’ve ever encountered!” It’s fat and carbs that the body wants.
Fat keeps the body feeling full longer than anything else, and it keeps the body running slowly. Carbs are the body’s preferred energy source, and they allow for fast, rapid movement; they also make you feel happy.
The body does not have the same hard-wiring for protein. Of course, protein is an essential macro-nutrient, but after you eat a sufficient amount, the brain says, “Boy, I don’t want another bite of chicken. I’ll throw up. I’m warning you… No more!”
Eating massive amounts of protein is hard work. And it’s hard work to digest as well. You’re net energy decreases, and your organs work over-time. It also requires a lot of water to digest. If you aren’t getting sufficient fiber and vegetable intake, you run the short-term risk of constipation (uncomfortable) and the long-term risk of colon cancer (life threatening) and other types of cancer (if your protein is predominantly animal-sourced).
On the plus side: you will have very healthy hair and nails, and big muscles.
If you have a good ethic of regular exercise, including a variety of exercise activities, and you are fretting about your abs, know that for most people, 6-pack abs take an extreme level of dedication that may not be lifestyle friendly.