Meal Prep.

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Diet is the foundation of all of the progress I have made, spiritually and otherwise, over the past 4 months.

Gone is the madness that was my life before, and due to discipline around diet, and also diligent work on my perception on the 4 hour net commute per day, I have made progress on progress.

Diet is an ubiquitous interest, concern and source of confusion for much of the western world. Always we are balancing what we believe we should be doing with our lack of desire to take the necessary action to see out what we want. More often that not this results in the complacent tossing of the entire topic into the ‘too hard’ basket. The cornucopia of opinions out there on “the-one-right-way” further adds to the confusion.

In reality, what there is to do is very simple and has nothing to do with what others tell you. The only person you must provide for and nourish is yourself. If you try to attend to others before having done so yourself then you are just building a castle without a foundation and the entire thing will crumble at unnecessary expensive to yourself.

We must cut away all that is not necessary, include all junk food, sugars (naturally occurring or otherwise), grains (including wheat, and wheat replacements), alcohol, drugs, cigarettes and just about anything that you find in a supermarket. This might be a daunting task, initially, and for those prepared enough to honour themselves and take up this joyous challenge, you are next faced with the task of discipline in the hundreds of opportunities in your day that it would just be easier to eat something else.

I have found a phenomenally effective solution to this problem. The answer is still discipline, but in a way that’s much easier to apply. The answer is meal preparation. The fact is I don’t trust anyone to source, prepare and cook my food except for me. I don’t know what’s gone into it, the quality of the food, the environment it is cooked in or the energy that went into cooking it. In short – eating out is more trouble than it’s worth.

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Despite how difficult this may sound, I eat like a king, every time I eat I have people commenting on my food and I feel amazing. I also don’t have to worry about being stuck starving in front of a doughnut shop.

Pick one day per week. Sleep in, when you get up make a tea, have a shower and go to the markets. Buy all your food (I eat at least a kilo of food per serving and for the week it costs me around $200), take it home and cook it all. Put it in bags and freeze them if you must, otherwise in the fridge they go. The whole process takes me between getting to the markets at 9:00am and finishing cooking at 5pm and I usually have lunch and a nap in between. And that is the last I have to think about my food for a whole week. Bliss.

It boils down to doing what must be done. Whichever way you look at it, you have a choice: feed your strength and starve your weakness, or starve your strength and feed your weakness. Make a choice, and then take the actions necessary to see it through.

I choose to honour myself. No cheat days, no slips ups, no exceptions.

And my vitality and health costs me 6 joyous peaceful hours per week.

What do you choose?

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M

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Vegan Nutrition & Bodybuilding pt. 2 – Supplements, Training Plan & Form

Hello again πŸ™‚

Firstly, thank you to everyone who liked and shared the last post – we had around 3200 views out of nowhere in like 2 days. I’m just overwhelmed that people found it so useful and Mikey Minuzzo (gym buddy) and I are really committed to delivering an even more useful pt.2 – so strap yoselves in, we’re going 0-100 reall quick.

To lay a context for the post, our contention (and personal results) have indicated to us that a meat eating vs carnivorous diet plays no impact on one’s ability to be as big as they please, as evidenced by a litany of vegan athletes, UFC fighters and, indeed, Germany’s strongest man – who is a vegan. Additionally; cows, rhinos, gorillas, elephants, hippos, bison, wildebeest, horses, manatees, deer, many whales and yaks are all vegan and count among some of the strongest mammals that ever did stride this fair Earth of ours. Further, Mikey Minuzzo lost no size when converting to veganism even though he was at competition size when he changed over, and I built my body from skinny as anything to bigger and leaner than 99% of people on a completely vegan diet. Point being – you can too!! Great, huh? πŸ™‚

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(May 2015, Photographer: Srdjan Photography, at around 8% body fat)

If you remember from last post, the 6 key elements Mikey and I isolated as being the most significant to building the body of your dreams (in terms of your figure, lean muscle, vitality, and aesthetics) are as follows:

  1. Vitamins and Minerals
  2. Sleep
  3. Macro-nutrients
  4. Supplementation
  5. Training Plan
  6. Form

Having covered the first three elements in last week’s post (which you can view here), we will now set to work on the last three: Supplementation, Training Plan, and Form.

Keep in mind, however, that they are in this order quite deliberately. If your diet and nutrition isn’t in order, your results will be severely impinged on. This is especially true for females (it’s a hard knock life, ladies – positive news, though, is that when you commit to gym like the big boys do – that is, with enthusiasm and intensity – your body will go from normal human to ‘cant even process’ very quickly).

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Before we continue, just as we put a disclaimer in last week that we are not health professionals, this week we go to similar effort to point out that we are not qualified PTs. We simply asked as we went, came up in the body building gyms of Melbourne, spoke to every body builder we knew and introduced ourselves to every person with a fantastic body that we ever saw at a gym and asked how they did it, read elephant sized amounts and cross referenced what we learned with the results we each saw on our own bodies and progressions we went. We always had the view that you should never ask someone who’s earning $50k/year how to earn $100k because if they knew they’d be doing it. Similarly, our view is simply formed by asking people that have done it and copying. In other words, we didn’t do a 4 week online course and then started running our mouths – we are living breathing examples of what we are postulating and so were the people that we took advice from. Our only hope is that you may find something useful in what we have spent years learning that might shortcut or supplement your own results.

Let’s get to it!

Supplementation:

There is a whole world of supplements out there claiming to do this and do that and branding themselves as the whole new next thing. Don’t be fooled. In reality, you don’t need anything but a proper diet, discipline, consistency, good form and maybe some creatine monohydrate. In any case, that’s not the way we got our bodies (although it is our current stance – neither Mike or I use any supplements really.. except for vitamins, HMB on days we want it, and usually some creatine – which is a far cry from the days of each of us doing a monthly gym supplement budget and allocating a whole shelve in the pantry to the supps). Finally, we should note before continuing that many much more experienced natural body builders we know don’t take anything (simply because they can’t afford it) and they seem to be doing fine. Nonetheless, you don’t want our life story – you want the short ‘n sweet. So here’s the breakdown.

All the supplements you take are collectively referred to as your “gym stack”. Ours has changed and evolved over time as we played around with what worked for us and what didn’t, we will include everything here we think you might find useful:

Creatine Monohydrate: This is supplementation 101. Everyone uses it – it’s cheap as (like $20 a kilo on ebay and the serving size is 5g). It’s the most researched gym supplement out there and phenomenally effective. No bad side effects, all you gotta do is make sure you’re drinking your 8 glasses of water per day when you’re on it. Basically, when you eat food it’s stored as sugar until you need it at which point it is converted to ATP (Adeninetriphosphate) which is basically muscle fuel. At the end of your set when you’re on your last rep and you’re all out of ATP (fuel) it takes about 20 seconds for your body to convert more stores into ATP however creatine, which is found naturally in the muscles, can be converted in a fraction of a second, allowing you to bust out another few reps, and thusly tear the muscle a bit more. Muscle tear = muscle growth (via protein while you rest or sleep). Win. So get this in.

Pre-workout: Okay, this stuff is poisonous, I’m sure of it, but there is no doubt that it works.

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Basically it’s a drink that you mix with water that gives you intense focus, increased lifts, clarity, drive, and desire to lift. It’s great. It’s like what redbull aspires to be but would get sued if that much of the population was on it. I’ve since stopped taking pre-workout (and all caffeine and stimulants, including my ADHD medication) because I don’t want to see my life through the filter of a drug or stimulant, however, in honesty, pre-workout was what originally made me fall in love with the gym. The music, the rush, the lifting, the gains were all underpinned by these supplements. Honestly, I ended up like I am because of my love gym. I have trained consistently, 6 days a week for 2 years now, maybe longer, and no amount of discipline would have carried me through that if I didn’t love it. This is why I would recommend trying it out to begin with while you get yourself into the rhythm of gym and start to see enough gains that motivate you to keep going. Some hints: they all say “DO NOT EXCEED ONE SCOOP”, when you first take it start with one until you get used to it and then take two.. everyone takes two. But for god’s sake don’t take three. Shit will get real, reall quick.

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This meme is so true lol.
It’s not illegal, it’s not a “drug”, and they’re readily commercially available. One disclaimer to that, however, is that in Australia, anything that professional athletes can’t take, the general public isn’t allowed to, either. That is not the case in America. For this reason, there are pre-workouts in America with an ingredient called DMAE in them, that used to be in Australia (in the old Jack3d pre-workout, for example) that are now banned in Australia. That said, it never stopped Mike and I from importing them. Zero fucks given. Gotta get those gains – get big or die admiring. So here’s a list of the best pre-workouts we’ve tried in order (and we’ve just about tried them all over the years) – if it has a star next to it, that means it’s imported from America and has DMAE in it:
Neurocore*, Craze*, The Curse, IMR-Vortex, Juggernaut, Jack3d.
Everyone will have a preference, these are simply ours.

Vitamins: Most gym-goers will have a mutli-V. We like Gaspari’s Anavite multi-V. We recommend getting a blood test to see what you’re low in and supplementing accordingly. Most people are deficient in vitamin-D. Mike is the world’s biggest advocate of vitamin-C, his meal plan has 7 times the daily recommended vitamin-c just from food and he also supplements with it (yes, we know you just piss it out) and he never gets sick. He reckons every time he stops taking it he gets sick so whatevs, do with that what you will. I get cold sores (which by the way can be aggravated by certain gym supplements and pre-workouts with amino acid L-Argenine in it, in addition to foods that are high in L-Argenine such as nuts, chocolate, turkey etc.. do a Google search, it basically blocks the pathways for another amino acid, L-Lysine, to heal and prevent the cold sore virus) so I supplement with Zinc, Vit-C (helps the absorption of zinc) and L-Lysine.

Omega 3,6,9: Healthy fatty acids. These are important for joint health, recovery, and brain functioning. On a vegan diet they can be found in high quantities in nuts, flax seeds (we often chuck some LSA – linseed, sunflower seed and almond meal – in our post-workout shakes to get more omegas in) and some oils. There are caps and oils you can get to supplement this like flaxseed and roship oil. Have a look on the bodybuilding.com store for reference.

Waxy-maize: (For bulking). Basically a simple carb powder that is high calorie – you put it with your post-workout shake and the calories are shipped post-haste to your muscles to help put on size. Plus 4800 calories in a day isn’t so easy to get in, we’ll have you know, and both of us have nearly thrown up (and actually thrown up) after twice-daily 1L soy milk skulls. Gotta do what you gotta do. If it were easy, everyone would do it. Again, to note, I’m not advocating this type of bulking as the healthiest way to get things done – I don’t even drink soy milk anymore as it has sugar in it and I am sugar-free, but this is what we did to get results and it worked.

Protein Powders: People go real nuts on these, and I barely take them anymore if at all. That said, it’s fairly universal. I can’t comment on non-vegan ones as I never tried them but there are a plethora of vegan protein powders (soy, pea, rice etc) that are great. A couple of scoops after workout (within 40 mins – we had it right away) and you’re good to go. Reduced muscle soreness, better support for a growing body, and more good calories in. Also, while we bulked, we would have a protein shake after every meal as liquids are easier to get in than more solids. The best vegan one we found is called BioFlex – it’s a chocolate flavoured mix ofΒ  pea protein, soy protein and rice protein and is quite cheap.

HMB: The commentary on this one is very polarised between people saying it’s a complete waste of money and people thinking it’s the best thing ever. I am on the best thing ever side. I notice whenever I’m taking it consistently I am bigger. It’s particularly good for hard-gainers (ecto-morphs – skinny people that find it hard to put on muscle).

Okay, that’s most of them – a basic gym stack will have creatine, pre-workout and protein – that’s all most people will use.

Training Plan:

β€œA well built physique is a status symbol. It reflects you worked hard for it. No money can buy it. You cannot inherit it. You cannot steal it. You cannot borrow it. You cannot hold on to it without constant work. It shows dedication. It shows discipline. It shows self-respect. It shows dignity. It shows patience, work ethic, passion. That is why it’s attractive to me” – Unknown

I’m going to make it super duper easy for you and privy you to some quick gym tips, to save you learning the hard way. Here’s our quick guide for how not to be a gym wanker. Please, for f*cks sake, don’t talk at the gym. When you walk in, nod to those that you know and respect, shake their hand and ask how they’re doing. If you see someone with a mad body, let them know, maybe ask a quick question, but the gym is not for you and your homies to catch up on the weekend. Lift or get tf out. And ffs don’t use your phone. Seriously. Don’t do it. You’re annoying everyone around you and everyone thinks your an idiot for coming to the one place designed for concentrated hard work, and shitting all on the gym culture. Learn proper form. Be humble. Put your hood over your eyes. It’s completely acceptable to be anti-social. No, people aren’t being angry or wankers, they’re focused on achieving a goal. And you’re in their way – move. Don’t like it? Get a home gym. Head down, ass up. This isn’t a place for shortcuts. Grind, brah.

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Okay, now that we’ve got the housekeeping out of the way – let’s discuss how to design a training plan that works for you. That is, “what do I actually do in the gym?” Got ya back, don’t sweat it. We took our basic routine from ex-Mr Lebanon, and the biggest, gnarliest guy we ever did see in Bell St Fitness (one of the 3 bodybuilding gyms in Melbourne – along with Derrimut and Doherty’s – that has since shut down). His basic thesis was that there are 5 compound (whole body) movements you need to do: Squats, Bench Press, Military Press, Deadlift and Pull-Ups. Do these and you’re all set. All the other variety in equipment is to make it funner and easier to isolate a muscle group. So in his opinion all these fancy body movements that PTs have you do is questionable. If I had a dollar for every time I saw a PT that in no way looked big or athletic had a client do something that was ridiculous or even downright dangerous, it would pay for my membership. I’m not saying he’s right or wrong, only that there was a stage in his life where he was the best bodybuilder in his country. You do with that what you will. Machines can be good for forcing the right form (the machine will only move in a way that is indicative of proper form) which can help you develop your muscles in the early stages. Ultimately the goal is to do free-weight (no machine) compound movements with perfect form. We will discuss this more in the form section.

You should train 6 days per week, with one rest day. If you do this you will get 6/6 results. If you train 5 days you will get 5/6 results, and so on. Don’t train 3 days and wonder why you’re not getting results. If you plant tomato seeds, you’re going to get tomatoes. It’s really simple. Plant commitment seeds, you’re going to get a mad body.

Your days should be split into body parts.
Day 1: Chest (21 sets), biceps (10 sets), triceps (10 sets)
Day 2: Back (21 sets), shoulders (18 sets)
Day 3: Legs (21 sets), abs (6 sets)

For whatever reason, Monday is the generic chest day.
Monday - International Chest Day
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Let the rest days fall wherever they may. Legs day is the most brutal day. NEVER SKIP LEGS DAY. As they say: If you aren’t shaking like Bambi then you aren’t doing it right. You quite literally shouldn’t be able to walk out of the gym or sit on the toilet the next day if you’ve done it right. Almost nobody does though because it’s the hardest day – ergo the ‘gym wanker’ looking types with huge chest and arms and chicken legs. Friends don’t let friends skip legs day – remember that.
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Bodybuilding.com is an awesome reference for videos and training plans and the actual exercises you choose to do – and they’re rated by effectiveness. To actually learn the movements to do, perhaps consult a personal trainer for a few sessions to get a plan written up – or I personally recommend choosing one from bodybuilding.com and doing some research and then employing a PT for a couple of sessions to show you how to do those exercises that you chose. In the early days it can be easy to let the plethora of opinions sway you, my recommendation is that you only listen to someone who has the body that you want. Again, your choice, it’s what worked for me. And you better believe I’ve had everyone and their dog comment on my diet and routine saying it will never work and giving me their opinions. That’s okay, welcome the feedback, ignore the opinion and get on with it. Interestingly, I found as I got bigger than the opinions stopped coming. It’s been a long time since someone told me “you can’t get any protein on a vegan diet” – although it’s the number one complaint of non-gym-going-vegans. My thinking is that if you are a vegan it is your specific responsibility to be the picture of health and vitality. I set out very deliberately to have a great body, not because I’m into myself, but because I knew that the vegan lifestyle is a viable and healthy lifestyle and I wasn’t going to get stuck into arguments about it – I let my actions speak for me – I wanted to SHOW people. And I’m not going to stop, either. Because of what I’ve learned, how my body looks, and the way I’ve learned to cook – most of my friends and family have turned vegan. And it all happened when I stopped talking about it and just started showing.

I’m not going to write out my entire routine as I don’t think it’s 100% relevant however I will put in the key things for each day that I’d want to be very intentional that you don’t miss or skip. It’s totally okay not to know what these exercise are or how to do them – baby steps. Ask someone who is huge (not someone who “knows a lot about gym”.. if they aren’t big don’t listen to them. I promise you, anyone doing the right form will be big – I am 2 years in and still ongoingly developing a better relationship with each muscle group such that I can improve form)
Chest: Incline bench, flat bench, cable flies, chest pushups
Bis: Hammer curls and some kind of bicep cable curl
Tris: Skull-crush, dips
Back: Deadlifts, pull ups, cable row, traps
Shoulders: Military press (lifting a barbell above your head), shoulder dumbbell raise (front and side), plate raise (lifting a plate above your head), REAR DELTOIDS (whichever exercise you like but don’t neglect them!)
Legs: Squats (legit, if you aren’t squatting you aren’t going to the gym.. you’re just playing around at a place with weights and having a laugh), hack squats, leg press, hamstring curls.
Abs: Honestly, we skipped abs for the first year and a half of training because abs are more a question of body fat that training. Males will have shredded abs at around the 10% body fat mark and women at 15% (women generally hold more fat and also have breasts, that’s why it’s higher) so our logic was just cut hard with diet before comp and you look shredded as anything – which we did and worked fine. I have since taken on a more holistic notion of training every single body part because I enjoy seeing definition in new places. Point is – I’m not in the best position to comment on abs, not having done them myself for long, however I would strongly recommend doing weighted ab training. You don’t train any other part of your body with body weight and expect to get anything but toned, so why with abs? Some weighted exercises include preacher curls, and side kettle bell crunches for obliques.

After you develop a good training schedule stick to it, however if you’ve been doing it for 6 months, try mixing it up – tricking the muscles can be a good way to force growth. You want to be constantly out of your comfort zone. Even if that means lifting for strength gains (low reps, high weight) one week and then lifting for form and endurance the next (low weight, high reps and going until muscle failure).

A repetition is one movement of the muscle. A set is a set of repetitions. When you get on to an exercise you want to do a warm up set – super duper light, just to get the muscle moving and focus on form. For each exercise you want to do 4 sets (not including the warm up set) increasing in heaviness each time.
1st set: 12-15 reps
*up the weight*
2nd set: 10-12 reps
*up the weight*
3rd set: 8-10 reps
*up the weight*
Final set: 4-8 reps

Also, there are different types of sets you can do to force muscle growth:
Drop set: This is where you will do the required weight for a set and then after you have done the last rep you can manage you put the weight down and keep going, and then when you can do any more of that, you put the weight down and so on until you are on a ridiculously light weight barely able to get one more rep out. This only counts as one set.
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Super set: This is where you have 2 or 3 exercises focusing on the one muscle and after you do your set on one exercise you jump straight to the next exercise and do a set on there and then maybe a 3rd.

Form:

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Having got everything else in order the rest of your gym going endeavors will ongoingly focus on improving your form and developing a relationship with your muscles – that is, learning how to squeeze that muscle rather than move the bar. Looking at the mechanics of the body really helped me to do this. As an example, if you look down at your palm (with the lower half of your arm held at 90 degrees to your body) and then raise your hand towards the front of your shoulder you could think that you raised your hand, but isn’t it true that you contracted your bicep (the muscle at the front of your arm) while relaxing your triceps (the muscle groups at the back of your arm)? Understanding how the parts of your body move helped me think of technique correctly. You will, will practice, be perfectly able, on a bench press, to squeeze your pecs together and watch the bar go up – which isolates the chest muscles correctly – rather than just lifting the bar (which will often recruit auxiliary muscles such as the shoulders, restricting focused muscle tear where you actually want it – in the chest).

Form is the practice of lifting weights in such a way as to maximise muscle growth and minimise risk of injury, which is particularly important on compound movements such as squats and deadlifts. Doing these wrong can be deadly and a very quick way to end your gym life. This, however, is not an excuse not to do them. You need to learn to do them properly.

Two great articles on squat form by Jim Smith and Eric Bach, from schwarzenegger.com can be found here and here.

Many people, particularly guys, make the mistake of lifting too heavy and sacrificing form – thinking they are looking real cool throwing around heavy weights. Really they’re just asking for injury, aren’t going to get any gains, and everyone who has been going to the gym long enough to know is just silently shaking their head like ‘bro wtf’. Always remember to practice safe sets (yeah, I went there.. we’re like 3700 words in, got to have a breather every so often πŸ˜› ).

Here you can find a YouTube video of Kai Greene (2nd best bodybuilder in the world right now) explaining to a gym-bro that he’s not a weightlifter, he’s a bodybuilder and he is concerned with the perfect stretching and contracting of the muscle, while lifting 20kg dumbbells (ridiculously light for him). The trick is to isolate that muscle and feel the burn and go deeper into the burn with perfect form. Yes, eventually you need to lift heavier to get bigger, but only if you’re doing it with correct form, which needs to be done at lighter weights. My thinking is that if you can make it hurt more with a lighter weight then you should. You’ll know when to go up in weight. No one is judging how much you’re lifting and if they are they’re a dickhead that knows nothing about gym. You will get more respect for being skinny as and lifting the smallest weight in the gym properly than being okay looking and throwing around weights like an idiot.

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Do your best to relentlessly devote all your consciousness, energy and attention into the muscle group you are training. If you are a visual person, imagining light filling that muscle and none leaking out is another good way to approach it.

——–.

Okay, lovelies! We got there!! *yayy*

I didn’t cover calorie counting, anabolic windows and bulking and cutting in the detail I could have in part one, however Mike and I thought we’d just do a separate post at a later date on calories maintenance, deficit, and surplus and how to count it. Putting on/losing weight or size is all a science – it’s mathematics and comes down to a number. We shall discuss that more at another time.

Thank you for reading, I’m glad to get that all down on paper (so to speak) and I’m sure it will help at least some of you achieve your fitness dreams. If even one of you are inspired to take power of your fitness and health then that’s a job well done for me and I’m so delighted and humbled to have been a part of that πŸ™‚

Let me know how you go!

Always, always big love,
Mikey,

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(May 2015, Photographer: Srdjan Photography)

If you’d like to follow my progress feel free to add my on the social media platform of your choice:
Instagram: @mikeysunderland
Facebook: facebook.com/mikey.sunderland.modelling
YouTube: youtube.com/c/mikeysunderland
Pinterest: pinterest.com/mikeysunderland
Modelmayhem: modelmayhem.com/mikeysunderland

And if there is any way you can think of that I can add further value to your lives, I would feel privileged for the pointers and delighted to serve in any way that I can. Feel free to email me at mikey.sunderland.modelling@gmail.com

Vegan Diet, Nutrition & Bodybuilding + Meal Plan and Nutritional Breakdown

Most people who ask about my dietary choices stare at me blankly and just ask how I manage. The rest can’t compute and ignore. Interspersed in there are a sub-section of people that I am keen to reach out to – those that approach me, or whom I haven’t yet reached, about how to convert to veganism, and how to put on muscle and proportion while doing so.

I’m very glad to be writing this article with my best friend and business partner, Mikey Minuzzo (yes, we’re both called Mikey). We have eaten and trained and learned together for 2 years now, and while he was already massive (on a meat-eating diet) when I met him and I was skinnier than you would believe, we quickly both committed to getting big on a vegan diet. Two years later, I rest around 8% body fat and other Mikey has won a natural fitness modelling competition (at a DEXAscan reading of 4.2% body fat at 86kg of muscle) and travelled interstate with it. In the first instance, to dispel any myths that vegan’s are skinny or that the diet is unhealthy, below is a picture of myself from two weeks ago (Mike preferred not to have any pictures of himself online as he is a corporate-type and thought it better not to – but imagine me but about double the size and just as lean πŸ˜› )

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Now having established that it’s entirely possible, let’s get to work on the How.

To note, neither of us are health professionals – we’re just two guys that made it work and want to lend a helping hand to those that want to do the same.

Mike and I have identified 6 main elements that are key to building the body of your dream, in terms of your figure and lean muscle, vitality, and aesthetics. We wont be addressing a comparison of carnivorous diets and vegans diets here – if you want to learn more about why someone would go vegan and the ethicals and nutritional benefits of doing so you can see my video on this topic here: Youtube | Mikey Sunderland | “Why Vegan”. Here we are strictly addressing how to get the body of your dreams on a vegan diet. So, the 6 key elements are as follows:

  1. Vitamins and Minerals
  2. Sleep
  3. Macro-nutrients
  4. Supplementation
  5. Training Plan
  6. Form

A final consideration before we go on and get to the meat of it (lol) is that we all have different body types yo. There are 3 main body types: ectomorphs, mesomorphs and endomorphs. Here’s a picture so you know it’s legit and so I don’t have to type at you so much.

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Mike and I are ectomorphs, tall and skinny. We, traditionally, find it harder to put on muscle and easier to lose weight. We, therefore, rarely do any cardio and focus more on a bulking diet and heavier weight. Over time your body can change, too. Mike has become more mesomorphic as he has trained and now has begun to incorporate cardio into his regime. There is something important to that – listening to your body and responding in kind. Onwards.

Vitamins and Minerals

It’s important to get a wide range of nutrients in your diet in order to supplement a rigorous training routine and also to have your body feel and perform the best it can during daily activities, such as work. A really easy way to think of your nutrient intake it to eat a small amount of lots of different food groups, or try to get in lots of different colours. Nuts, grains, fruit, vegies, legumes etc all have their own attributes and nutritional profiles so eating from a broad range of these groups ensures that you are getting plenty of the good stuff in. In order to illustrate what an example vegan, (mostly gluten free) and almost entirely sugar-free diet looks like, Mikey Minuzzo kindly prepared a meal plan that he eats every day with a table illustrating it’s macro-nutrient break down in addition to it’s vitamin and mineral breakdown against the daily recommended intakes to show that he is hitting all his targets for the day. This meal plan and chart will be attached at the bottom of the page. To note, we cycle between cutting and bulking cycles for gym, and the attached table is a cutting (or leaning) diet. Most of the year we would be bulking, that is, eating lots more, and also a lot less restrictively in order to have our bodies in an anabolic (growth-conducive) environment, allowing us to grow muscle more productively.

Sleep

Sleep is one of the most important factors to a healthy life and a successful training regime. Now to be completely authentic about this – for the first year of training Mike and I didn’t sleep much at all. He was going to uni 5 days a week to complete his Masters, and 6 days a week at work (sometimes 7) while keeping a regimented gym schedule 6 days per week, and I was at uni and working too. Most nights, Mike wouldn’t sleep more than 4-5 hours. Between us, if we hadn’t been to the gym by 2am he would pick me up and we would go. No days off. We pushed through with hard work. That said, his general disposition at the time was introverted and tired, and I was depressed. So we don’t recommend it. The first 4 hours of sleep regenerate the body and muscle tissue. The next 4 hours go to work at restoring chemicals in the brain to normal levels, including Dopamine and Serotonin. Not enough sleep and too much stress leads to cortisol imbalance and impinges on muscle growth and training effectiveness. Basically, if you’re cutting out on sleep you’re cutting out normal functioning of brain chemistry while can lead to increased anxiety or depression. Not good. Everyone is different but we find it most effective when we rise around 5am or 6am to train and then sleep by 10pm. It can also help to have 5mg of melatonin 10hrs before sleep. If you don’t wake up feeling refreshed, up it to 10mg and so on until you wake up feeling refreshed.

Macro-nutrients

The 4 macro-nutrients that we look at when assessing our diet to maximize lean muscle mass are Carbs, Fat, Protein and Water. We will deal with these individually.

  1. Carbs: There are two types of carbohydrates – simple carbs and complex carbs. Simple carbs are sugars and whites, including white bread, pasta, fruit, or sweets and treats (which all digest quickly giving you an energy rush and essentially for the most part get stored as fat). Complex carbs are the healthy ones, which digest slowly, giving you prolonged energy, and include vegetables and legumes. Complex carbs are often high in dietry fibers which are shat out, so basically the good stuff is absorbed and the rest is gone not long after πŸ˜›
  2. Fats: Good fats are mono and poly-unsaturated fats. Bad fats are saturated fats and trans-fatty acids (found in large quantities in meat and animal products and which, alongside cholesterol and animal protein, contribute directly to heart disease, cancer and stroke – the 3 biggest killers in the western world). For every gram of carbs or protein there are 4 calories. For every gram of fat there are 9 calories. It is important to get healthy fats in as they contribute to good brain and joint health, however many people focus on carbs as the main go-to when trying to address weight issues whereas fat would be a more fruitful place to start. Some great vegan sources of mono and poly-unsaturated fats include nuts, olive oil and avocado. For every gram of fat we should try to get in 2 grams of protein and 3 grams of carbs. For this reason, it will be the smallest macro-nutrient that is taken in by unit weight.
  3. Protein: Protein doesn’t necessarily make you bigger, protein assists in the recovery of muscle tears which you make at gym (if you’re training well). It’s only necessary insofar as it’s ability to reduce muscle soreness. Yes, you definitely need enough protein, but people do go on a bit much about it – especially to vegans. To note: there is no medical term for protein-deficiency and it is impossible to build a well-balanced diet with enough calories that lacks protein – it’s in everything! In any case, the example meal plan we prepared includes 189g of protein per day which is roughly 2.5 times the recommended intake for an adult male, and all naturally. Good natural (and vegan) sources of protein that we rely on daily include beans (baked beans, kidney beans, black beans… any beans basically), tofu (though we’re not a fan – it’s highly processed and we find our libido and vitality is much higher when we abstain from processed foods), brocolli, lentils, hummus, mushrooms, nuts, grains, seeds, taro, sweet potato etc etc etc. It’s really not difficult, and I only really pay attention to it if I notice I’m more sore than usual. There is also plenty of protein (and vitamins and minerals) in soy milk. Some vegan protein powders include rice, soy, and pea (we recommend Bioflex – it has the best amino acid break down, and is cheap and doesn’t taste like plaster of paris, unlike many other brands).
  4. Water: Get this in yo. Nuff said.

By percentage of total intake you should aim for 20% fat, 30% protein and 50% carbs, just to give you an idea. Water should ideally sit around 3.5L (close to a gallon if you’re old school as bro). It should also be the only thing that you drink. Literally. Unless you’re bulking, soy milk or a milk of your choice works great. (That said I totally have unsweetened almond milk with my gluten-free weetbix and banana in the morning so whatevs, man, you do you.)

This is a pretty basic break down of nutrition. As discussed, we have attached an example clean cutting meal plan and vitamin and nutrient break down ’cause we’re nice and we love you. We also found our old clean bulking meal plan and our old cheap bulking meal plan. You’re very welcome. ❀

Example Meal Plan – Clean Cutting
Cheap Dirty Bulk Meal Plan
Clean Bulk Meal Plan

vitamins

As you can see above the plan we made up has nearly 400% the necessary daily intake of iron (just from food) and where we lacked in Vitamin D and B12 we made up for it with our vitamin supplements. Interestingly, most of my family and Mike’s family are vegan and we all get flying colours on our blood tests. Food for thought for the doubters amongst you.

I hope this has been of some benefit, and stay tuned for next week’s gym post – where we explain how to apply this knowledge in the gym and use it to see massive results, real quick πŸ˜‰

Big love,

Mikey

Part 2