Nutrition Plays A Small Role in Building Muscle Mass – Controversial Video

July 20, 2009

What if half of what you have been told about building muscle mass is completely wrong? You see, building muscle is almost 100% about training and has very little to do with nutrition.

The main thing that nutrition affects is gaining or losing body fat. The mainstream fitness publications would have you believe that you can eat your way to quick muscle gains. This simply is not the case. John Barban has created an exclusive video for the readers of this site, that you guys have to see!

building muscle mass

[I like to look at ancient Greek and Roman statues as ideal proportions to shoot for. Although centuries have gone by, the proportions of these statues are still considered optimum by most of the population.]

A Favor From a Supplement Developer and Industry Expert

I recently asked my friend John Barban to record a 5 minute video about building muscle mass. His stance on building muscle and losing fat is the same as mine…You use nutrition to lose fat and you use your workout to build muscle.

To quote John…”Nutrition plays a negligible role in muscle building”. Click on this video to see him explain why this is the case. I have had several conversations with John and I’m convinced that he knows more about building muscle than any other industry expert.

Pretty Heavy Stuff for a 6 Minute Video!

[John is very well-respected in the health and fitness industry. He has formulated supplements for some of the largest supplement companies in the world. I am glad someone of his stature is coming forward and saying what needs to be said about building muscle. I support his message 100%.]

You Can’t Accelerate the Muscle Growth Rate by Eating More

Back in 1990 after lifting hard for 3 years, I tried to “bulk up” and put on 10 more pounds of muscle. I remember eating my way up from 210 pounds all the way to 230 pounds. I trained hard during that time for 9 months and then I spent the following 4 months “leaning out”.

After dieting hard and getting lean again, I wound up at 212..a whopping 2 pound muscle gain in a little over a year!

You Can Quickly Build Muscle Just Once in Your Life Time

The only time in your life that you can build a lot of muscle quickly is when you first begin training. It isn’t unusual for an untrained person to put on a decent amount of muscle his first 1-2 years of training, but that will be the last of the quick muscle gains (unless he uses steroids).

The window for even faster gains is when a male is in his late teens and early 20’s…because when a teen enters into his 20’s he typically adds a bit of weight naturally and “fills out”.

If a person adds in training along with this time of naturally filling out, then ultra-fast muscle gains can happen…but that will never happen again in that man’s lifetime.

Trained Guys of Same Height Have Similar Amounts of Muscle

This is where the HUGE paradigm shift happened for me. John explains that an experienced lifters of the same height almost always carry the same amount of muscle (5-7 pounds give-or-take)….the only difference in size comes down to how much body fat each person is carrying.

He also explains that frame size (somatotypes) play a role, but only 5-7 pounds in either direction.

Note: I am going to reference John Barban’s Blog in the future and probably do a few podcasts with him, etc.

I like the message he is sending out in regards to gaining muscle and achieving a pleasing physique. When you head over to his blog, make sure and subscribe to his newsletter…”The Truth Hurts”. The first message that gets sent is one called “Get Ready to UNLEARN”…love it!

----> (New) Facebook Comments..."Cause all the cool kids are doin' it!"

{ 95 comments… read them below or add one }

David - Fat Loss Tips July 20, 2009 at 10:40 pm

Wild concept Rusty. This goes against everything those bloodsuckers over at Muscle and Fitness promote.. love it.

It never seemed natural to me to eat at all hours of the day or sucking down 3 or more protein shakes as *snacks*. Looking forward to the discussion this post will generate!

Jon E. July 20, 2009 at 11:09 pm

Hey Rusty, it’s me (I haven’t commented here in a very long time, I doubt you’ll remember my name or my story or anything, but..)

I just wanted to let you know I still appreciate all of the hard work you put into this blog/site.

I even just kind of plugged it over at (A site for addicted blackberry phone users), haha.

check the post I made out here:

I hope it brings even more uneducated/ignorant viewers to your site like I was before coming here. Thanks as always, Rusty.

– Jon E.

The Fit News July 20, 2009 at 11:26 pm

I have been lifting weights for 9 years and I can’t even call myself a bodybuilder. The only time I make significant strength and size gains is when I focus on eating. If it was all about training, I’d be Arnold by now.

gunner July 20, 2009 at 11:31 pm

this is great stuff man. I was thinking of bulking myself. I am 6 ft 171. But after reading this I guess I am not. I didnt realize that bulking doesnt do much for you. I thought bulking was the only way to get muscle onto the frame

Rafi Bar-Lev July 21, 2009 at 1:10 am


The complete and utter lack of any nutrients is also known as starvation. The reason starvation leads to death is because your body, from your ligaments, muscles, and tendons down to your very cells, needs nutrients in order to survive and to thrive.

For the same reason, if your body does not have proper nutrition to allow your body to rebuild, and some extra calories or fat that can be converted into muscle, you won’t be able to put on muscle no matter how much you work out.

Aside from being basic biology, I happen to know this from personal experience. There was a point in my life where I was training without eating properly, and not only did I not gain weight and muscle like I intended but I actually got skinnier and felt weaker. It’s very possible that I completely misunderstood the video, but if I did understand it right, then it’s misleading. Your body can’t heal a small injury without nutrition, let alone build muscle.


Aditya July 21, 2009 at 1:18 am

Hey Rusty,
Great Post again and a really informative video by Barban.

I went through the Part 1 of ADONIS EFFECT and came through this part :

“Eating all of your daily calories in one meal per day, rather than in
three meals spread out throughout the day, makes NO difference in your ability to lose weight or gain muscle [Stote, 2007].”

John says thats true! Doesnt that mean Warrior Diet/Eat Stop Eat is a Fail? I follow The Warrior Diet and it really has helped me detoxify myself and helped me lose weight in the form of fat! I really am confused now cos I have read a lot of your, Ori’s and Brad’s stuff which says that to get lean we just have to lower our calories in a global manner, rather than on a daily meal basis. John Barban also has a great book coming up, I was mindblown with the part 1. But some concepts like that one which Barban quoted, lands people like me in confusion.

I am a hardcore follower of your blog and live by Ori’s Warrior Diet. While your blog is a bible to getting lean, Ori’s aim, I believe is to detoxify your body while following the concept of checking the calories you consume. Correct me, if I am wrong!

I just want to keep following your ways and Ori’s and Brad’s concepts so I really would like you to help people like me clear silly confusion like which I portrayed in the paragraph above 🙂
I like John’s book and he infact has brought to a light serious secrets and stuff.

Great stuff by You in posting this article and a really awesome Book by John! Keep it Up!


Aditya July 21, 2009 at 1:20 am

Oops, I didnt really mean to use the word Fail in the post above but what I wanted to point out is where does Ori’s and Brad’s concept hold in that line which John supported in quote to Stote’s concept!

Yash July 21, 2009 at 2:14 am

The idea of a muscle limit is one I’ve come across recently thats one of the most intelligent things I’ve finally heard people in the fitness industry say, as well as the idea that the amount of muscle you can put on is highly correlated to how much [or how little in this case] exprience you have.

It’s very funny that Brad’s coming out with this now and you posted this today, because just this morning, T-Nation ran an article hyping on of their programs that promised double digit muscle gains in the 20s in just 6 weeks, for ADVANCED [not even intermediate] bodybuilders no less. They have some good articles but it’s almost like they’re actively trying to lose readers when they put out some program that’s obviously just a way to sell overpriced products [coincidence that the program they’re pushing involves MANDATORY use of an $80 a tub “secret”supplement? I think not]. I like Brad’s view because it directly opposes all these bigwigs trying to convince people that you can buy/eat your way to huge muscle gains with supplements.

Yash July 21, 2009 at 2:18 am

@ GUNNER: If you want to put on mass, it still technically falls under the category of “bulking”, but some people think you should just stuff yourself and get sloppy, leading to fat gains with muscle. Extra food will not speed up muscle synthesis, because the rate of muscle gain is dependent on training stimulus, which is what the article is saying [training builds mass not food]. The truth is that there is a ceiling to the extra calories your body needs, so anything beyond that will be fat. The key is finding that sweet spot where you’re accommodating full growth without fat gain.

Greg at Live Fit July 21, 2009 at 5:24 am

This is interesting, as I’ve recently been asking myself some questions regarding what the best way to build muscle without adding fat. Particularly with respect to the subject of nutrition. Right now I’m setting a baseline on my eating so I can test some of these perceptions.

sandruzzo July 21, 2009 at 5:30 am

hi all

just wondering,if muscle burn roughly 6-12 kcal per day and actually
only 22% of a pound muscle mass is made of contractile protein,and we can built a small muscle per day(beside steroids,don’t you think that we need only a few more calories per days in order to build them??

Sandro :Sabene

Jason G July 21, 2009 at 5:34 am

Muscle building takes place when:

Muscle is first challenged(exercise) and then rebuilt(nutrition)*fact*

The rest of my comments will address why people don’t see drastic improvements after years of weight lifting since the above comment concludes my opinion on everything else mentioned:

Muscle building probably becomes limited over time for most people because the body adapts to most exercise routines over a period of years. 99 percent of the people at the gym do not change there routines enough when they reach advanced stages to see new improvements. When people get to a certain size and start to begin lifting heavy weights challenging muscles involves a psychological discipline that many people do not have. Professionals are built differently mentally as well as physically and both are related.

When most people start to reach serious weights they send subconscious messages to the brain not to improve. Why? Because most people do not feel comfortable lifting more than two hundred pounds over there head. Other people consider these weights heavy due to sociological reasons and never get past that subconscious obstacle. More often than not people reach these heavy weights and figure that they are challenging themselves enough to improve because the weights are heavy. Are they doing something that they never did before? For example the average person who starts to bench 250 will probably not try to seek further improvement due to the impressive accomplishment. When he is forty he will look the same as he did when he was twenty or when ever he first reached that weight.

Also when people reach the heavy weights improvements become more subtle. People who reach such heavy weights will add only five pounds every few weeks or so(If they are lucky). This two percent increase in weight would not result in impressive muscle increases and these anabolic increases can easily be lost due to catabolic causes. People like myself will try to lower their body fat with catabolic diets that will result in muscle loss. Over a period of years we will gain many pounds of muscle and we will also LOSE many pounds of muscle due to diets that do not maintain anabolic enviorments.

For the above reasons the average person who worked out for ten years stopped challenging himself, took frequent short breaks, and most likely went through catabolic stages in his life (under eating /thinking nutrition is not important) will probably not see major muscle increases over the years.*theory*

In the defense of Rusty, Brad, and John nutrition is overplayed by the mainstream body building community. I would just urge caution when underplaying its role in muscle building.

mike July 21, 2009 at 7:43 am

I started lifting and focusing on nutrition, had some good gains.

then I stopped it with all the nutrition “nonsense” and focused on training…I went from 175 to 145lbs and my squat went from 200lbs to about 125lbs…

I do not agree with this idea that nutrition is just for fat loss

LG July 21, 2009 at 9:29 am

Great read! It confirms your basic idea in the pursuit of an overall lean/healthy body and lifestyle. I’ve gone from 185 lbs to 155 lbs in about 4 months. I’ve received numerous comments like “wow, you sure are skinny!”. At 5′ 9″, I actually have greater muscle definition than I ever have and I’m 39 yrs old. I consider myself lean not “skinny”. The concept that amazes my friends the most is that my “transformation” has come from a fundamental change in my eating (great nutrition) not from some radical new workout. Thanks Rusty!

great! July 21, 2009 at 9:47 am


it is refreshing to hear this news since i was thinking of gaining a bit of noticeable muscle. my diet is already super awesome and i am quite lean…i am glad i do not need to drastically alter my eating habits to gain a bit more mass.

chica July 21, 2009 at 9:57 am

I think this is a case of extraordiary claims requiring extraordinary evidence. If john wants us to believe something that flies in the face of all the advice given by the mainstream fitness industry, as well as common sense (admittedly, common sense may be corrupted somewhat by how long we’ve been bombarded with this message, but “if you want to get bigger, you should eat more” seems, on the surface, like a fairly noncontroversial claim) as well as a ton of anecdotal evidence (including my own experience), I don’t think he can expect us to just take his word for it

Magnus July 21, 2009 at 10:03 am

Great article!
I went through the book The Adonis effect and it was really interesting. The quote on massive amount of protein not helping loosing weight is an idea which I had a few years back. I used to weight 360lbs, I am now at 175lbs, at 6’2″ but when I first went to a nutritionist that was the biggest myth she had to break in my mind, that some how high amounts of protein help the body break down fat. I am now at a 50-70grams of protein a day diet. But at 23 I am a whole lot smarter about nutrition and working out thanks you sites like this, with information not trying to give you a cure all.


Helder July 21, 2009 at 11:26 am

Just Loved the video, specially these last words: it’s more about the proportion and how you shape your body

Right on spot, i think not much has to be said, it’s been said here so many times: don’t bulk it ruins your Health and looks. Supplements are not needed, and train to look good, healthy and fit.

If we look at bodybuilders from the past, before drugs, they didn’t bulk, they didn’t run home to eat after the workout, that kind of behaviour only gets you fat.

I’m glad to see that more and more people speak the truth about nutrition, supplements and muscle building

CR July 21, 2009 at 1:16 pm

I just read part I of Adonis Effect.

Being a very disciplined eater and training 5 days a week at a moderate level, I can tell you for a fact that nutrition plays as important a role as your work out in muscle gain.

The body is a self repairing machine that replicates itself every 2 years. You cannot build something from nothing. I personally know what it is to go from 200 lbs to 162 and then through nutrition and changing the quality of protein, go from 162 to 172 with the exact same body fat % which is 14. This is done on 60 to 80 grams a day. To build ripped mass you must consume more then your body requires, there is no science that synthesizes muscle from nothing based on your workout. The whole game is quality protein and the nutrient density of water rich foods which = Nutrition

Eric July 21, 2009 at 1:59 pm

Caloric restriction (below a certain threshold) does suppress anabolic hormone secretion and utilization in the body. Conversely, caloric surplus does increase anabolic hormone secretion (up to a certain point).

Intermittent Fasting tries to optimize both fat loss (temporary caloric restriction-resulting in +glucagon and cortisol etc. and -insulin) and anabolism (normal to supranomal caloric intake- resulting in +insulin and IGF-1 and -glucagon and cortisol).

As everyone probably already knows, the best way to lose fat without muscle loss is to create a caloric deficit that is not too severe.
The best way to gain muscle without fat is to eat a small caloric surplus without over indulging.
These are simple to explain but often quite difficult to implement.

On the psychological side-
If you are hungry and unhappy that is not good. It could result in missed workouts, lowered intensity, possible binging, increased temper etc.
If you are fat and unhappy that is not good. The results really don’t need to be explained.

The trick or challenge seems to be how to achieve your objectives without going to extremes. Extremes are not sustainable, but we are seeking sustainable results. Therefore, each of us must find diet and exercise lifestyles that are maintainable.

Personally, I train mainly for strength and athletic performance (tempered with a view of longevity). I achieve caloric restriction by occassional IF and sometimes just skipping a meal. Sometimes I have ice cream or beer, but I balance it out with a low calorie nutritious meal (high veggie content) at my next meal time.

I believe people need to follow their own way, once they understand the physiology, psychology, diet, and training necessary to achieve their objectives.

Thank you Rusty for providing good information and a supportive forum for discussion.

Adrian July 21, 2009 at 2:19 pm

I agree that you don’t have to Bulk up constantly. But nutrition is 70 percent of muscle. Training is not enough. It actually damages your muscles and causes microtrauma which you can “fix” with rest and food. I don’t mean to say you need to eat everything in sight, nope, just Clean Bulk and you will gain muscle. It is possible to gain 2 lbs of muscle a month not more and bulking wont change that. But if you don’t eat just train hard the you will screw up and wont even gain those 2 lbs..

Donkey Lips July 21, 2009 at 2:46 pm


Great article and topic. This brings up a question I have though. You have been a fairly consistent low carb diet advocate for getting lean. You recommend cycling some carb days in though and going low fat when doing so. As I stay lean should I worry about micro nutrients or overall calories. I always try to make sure I get at least 100 grams of protein a day in and eat fairly low carb but don’t stress too much about it. What do you think carbs after speaking with John Barban and Brad Pilon who don’t advocate low carb lifestyles for getting/staying lean. I know to eat mostly whole unprocessed organic foods (They make you feel much better than the cancerous processed fake plastic stuff… go figure) Thanks again.

Jarl July 21, 2009 at 3:40 pm

Hey Rusty,

I have 2 questions:

1) For the purpose of best cardio for fat loss, would you recommend stationary bike with resistance as Craig B suggests, or would you recommend the spriting on the treadmill. Both of these being done in fasted state, also do you recommend doing weight/cardio HIIT on the days you are fasting with ESE?

2) As per what John Barban and Brad P advocate, since they say to train for muscle and diet for fat loss,. If one is doing ESE, wouldn’t it not matter if they are working out in fasted state since they are in caloric restriction doing fasts 1-2 times a week?

It would seem to me that if they are restricting calories and lifting weights as they say that this would take of fat loss of 2-3 lbs a week and one would not have to worry about working out in am /pm in a fasted state.

BrandonB July 21, 2009 at 4:49 pm

Hey rusty, you should post this video on

hahah…im sure they would LOVE it!

You can eat your way to a better body, you just have to eat less!

keith July 21, 2009 at 7:29 pm

so are you saying you can build muscle on a low calorie diet, cause i tried that and it didnt workk at all

tylersg3 July 21, 2009 at 7:47 pm


Great video. That really makes a lot of sense. It’s kinda weird not think that when you consume “good” calories, like good carbs or proteins, your muscles wouldn’t get bigger. Wouldn’t nutrition help your muscles repair & grow? The other idea of gaining muscle at a certain time makes a lot of sense too. Basically, after that “muscle-gaining period,” we’re all just maintaining or losing body fat, right?

I’m 21, 172 lbs with 6% body fat, I’d like to gain a little more muscle while keeping the low body fat. Should I just continue what I’ve been doing & see if I can gain more muscle doing that? Or should I try something new to see if I can gain some added size & muscle?


p.s. the isometric rows were great.

SethP July 21, 2009 at 8:37 pm


I have been meaning to ask you for sometime when you were going to make a post about body proportions. I have known about some of basic proportions for optimal health and sexual attractiveness for a while. Such as the Shoulder-to-Waist ratio of 1.6 to 1 for men and the Waist- to-Hip ratio of 0.7 to 1 for women. These ratio’s indicate health and fertility which is why we humans find them so attractive. Many other ideal ratio’s I am sure exist for other dimensions of the body, that I have yet to discover. When are you going to discuss these here on Fitnessblackbook? They are extremely valuable for those seeking concrete obtainable goals. I hope you post more on this topic in the near future since it would be such a great help to your readers who may not have a quantifiable goal.

gunner July 21, 2009 at 11:59 pm

hey rusty just read brad pilons book about protein. the books amazing stuff. My question for you is now that I am not gonna be obsesing with protein how do you deal with free meals and such on your diet. Do you just eat below maitenance and have a couple free meals a week. Just curious how you deal with it

Josh July 22, 2009 at 2:29 am

Very interesting post. I picked up a copy of the Addonis Effect more or less to simply read the book! The workouts look pretty solid, but there are a few things I would change due to personal concerns and likes ect.. Example the routines are all 4x per week in the gym, I personally feel a little worn out at 4. 3 x per week works better but the exercises are right on. I agree 100% with the notion that nutrition has little to do with actual muscle growth using myself as an example, I was eating 5x per day high protein and doing a lot of squats, cleans, ect.. I stand 5’9 and weighed in at 215lbs. I also had a 38 inch waist and what I call “chipmunk cheek syndrome” the fat faced look. I am now eating 2-3 times per day with a fast day thrown in. The only supplement I use is creatine. I now weigh between 183- 185 with a waist size of 33. The funny thing is when I look at pics of myself from a year ago I really begin to ask what part of me EVER thought that “beefed up” thing was a good look or ideal to chase after??

Norbi July 22, 2009 at 2:34 am

Hey Rusty,

thanks for arranging for this guest video! Although I’ve pretty much read all the articles on your site (or at least the rest of them), this information was SOMEWHAT new.. maybe this fact just wasn’t spoken out as directly as here. It’s about the perfect time for me to get to know this. 🙂

Sorry, personal question (but real quick): I started weightlifting and exercising for mass + strength, and I came across with a rather annoying issue: I was supposed to work my chest, back and shoulders, but all of them were VERY limited by my week arm / shoulder… so, like I just had to stop doing push ups and lateral pulldowns because my arms / shoulders couldn’t take it anymore… do you have any suggestions for how to get around this issue, or I’ll just have to keep working out (well, as for those muscle groups, half working out) until my arms get stronger?

Thanks a lot!

Norbi July 22, 2009 at 2:53 am

I read most of the comments, it’s a kind of controversial. I would think there has to be a right understanding / interpretation of what was being said in the video: they certainly do not suggest ‘starving’, or not giving your body the nutritions it needs. In my understanding it’s rather against the excessive daily protein intake (just a number I heard, eat every 3 – 3,5 hours, and take in 300 grams!!! of protein / day). With this being said, in my opinion in a person’s case who works out so is supposed to gain strength, ‘proper nutrition intake’ includes the needed amount of protein and other stuff to support that… if you get weaker when training hard, that’s not proper nutrition intake for sure. If you gain fat while being active that’s not proper nutrition intake either (pretty obvious). And no, I’m not an expert, just trying to figure things out with logic, and with this interpretation everything makes perfect sense that was being said, both by the video’s author and the comments.

Norbi July 22, 2009 at 3:02 am


I loved your comment! That’s something that’s being forgotten so easily, and I have never seen being pointed out: what you like, how you feel, what makes you happy. I couldn’t agree more with everything you said, and really, when you think about, being happy and enjoying what you’re doing is not just a ‘step’ to better workouts etc, but pretty much the final goal as well. I was just thinking this the other day, as I got really lean and would need to ‘bulk up’ somewhat: right now I’m training in self defense (no bulking) and playing soccer (no bulking either), and next to these I just squeezed in some weightlifting sessions. I was just thinking, even if all that cardio-like activity makes the muscle gain process slower, it sucks, but I still wouldn’t drop things that I enjoy a lot. Those are what make life better. 🙂 Again, excellent point, thanks!

Muscle Man July 22, 2009 at 4:39 am

So, when you say that you only build a lot of muscle fast once in your life when you first start working out, does that mean that you will plateau even if you don’t develop to your max at first? It’s interesting cause I’ve seen it with some guys who start off like maniacs for 2 months and then they go off for 6 months before they get the next ‘inspiration’

Simon July 22, 2009 at 6:37 am

Whoa, certainly stirred things up a bit there, controversial post, looking forward to your replies Rusty.
Funnily enough I read part 1 of the Adonis complex the day before I read this.
I think the main point to take away is that yes, there is a ilmit to how much muscle you can quickly put on but so what? Why the hell would you want to put on an extra 100lbs + of muscle and look like a BB freak? What real advantage do you gain?
The only people you’re impressing are other BBs, don’t get caught up in that cycle, train to look lean and athletic with a natural amount of muscle (as championed on this site), vast majority of people find that much more impressive than masses of muscle, doesn’t require constantly downing protein shakes/stuffing your face.
Totally agree nutrition is over emphasided in muscle building, of course sufficient protein is required to build/maintain muscle, supplements can help (but they are just that, supplementary) it just doesn’t need to dominate your life and cost £1000s.
Eating everything in sight might help you gain muscle but you’ll also gain a s**t load of fat which you then have to lose.
I’ve done a bulking cutting cycle once, no regrets as I’ve massively improved my body composition but doing this continually just seems stupid, realise what looks good on you, achieve that, maintain.

Simon July 22, 2009 at 6:52 am

P.S. John recently posted a video somewhere of an online survey regarding what most people (mainly women) find attractive and whether they think you can have too much muscle.
Vast majority found excessive muscle unattractive.
Can’t find the link though, sorry.

Simon July 22, 2009 at 7:03 am

P.P.S. (Sorry) Check out by Brad Pilon about ‘protein guilt’ (something I’ve definately been ‘guilty’ of).

Marc Feel Good Eating July 22, 2009 at 9:52 am


Great post! In my opinion this is just the beginning.
Because guys like john, are going to force people to ask themselves what it is they really want. What do people want?
You want to be huge? Lift heavy EAT lots and you’ll get big. in reality you’re just swollen and fat and you can’t chase and catch your 10 year old in the yard. If you do things following the lean and strong protocol…(adonis, Craig B TT etc) you will be able to do many things very well, all the way into ripe old age.
I think most guys absolutely struggle with the fact that when they start eating right and exercising right, they become lean and that doesn’t correlate with their youthful image of a big chested, inflated bicep meathead…….which they admired when they were young.
Just my thoughts of course 😉


Frank Z July 22, 2009 at 10:31 am

Hey Rusty, i’m not sure of the exact message of the video. is he trying to say that it doesn’t matter how much protein you eat while training you’re only going to reach a certain size anyway? also i just don’t like his example of the guy in the gym 4 yrs vs 15 yrs. someone who’s been training hard consistenly for 15 years will deifnitely be bigger i think than a 4 yr trainee. i do agree that a good diet is the main thing for keeping the fat off, and that you can’t eat your way to big muscles, but it seems he belittles the importance of a nourishing diet to replenish. i did like the info that he says about the lack of practicality of gaining 5 lbs a muscle in a few weeks etc.

Jarl July 22, 2009 at 2:22 pm

hey Rusty,

Regarding the stubborn fat protocol, can resistance intervals on a bike be done with this? This would mean to do the hard intervals with resistance on stationary bike for 10-15min.. wait 5 minutes then do a low impact cardio… for 15-20min. thanks

admin July 22, 2009 at 9:37 pm


I expect this post will eventually have 100+ comments. I am going to spend the next 1-2 hours answering the first 38. I have already seen quite a bit of resistance…which makes sense, because this is a big claim that goes against what many people have believed for years.

Jon E,

Jonneh…right? I completely remember you and I owe you one. You were one of the first people to link to my blog when it was new and not getting many visitors. You were also commenting back in the days when I was only getting a 5-10 comments per post. I remember most of the people who comment on this site…especially people like yourself who helped me in the beginning. Thanks buddy!

The Fit News,

Since you have been training for 9 years, it is very unlikely that you will put on more than a pound or two of pure lean muscle tissue per year…regardless of what you eat. If you eat a bunch more protein and calories, you will simply have more water weight within the muscle which gives you a bit more leverage to lift heavier weights…if you do this higher calorie intake for more than a short period of time you will become bigger, but that gain will be mainly fat. At first it will appear that you are getting bigger and stronger, but it really is just “fool’s gold”.


Bulking just creates a false sense of strength and size. The extra fat will give you a bit of leverage, but when you drop that fat and lighten up you will lose a lot of that strength. When guys gain weight quickly they often over-emphasize how much muscle they have gained and underestimate how much of that weight is water and body fat.


The reason I titled the post Nutrition Plays a *small* Role…Is that obviously you need to eat enough so that you aren’t starving. I’m not suggesting anything that extreme. On the flip side, you need much less protein than what most experts would have you believe. Brad Pilon’s “How Much Protein” book has extremely good studies which drive this point home.


Brad, John, and myself all follow Eat Stop Eat. It is the best eating strategy to stay lean that I have ever followed and my digestive system feels better taking a small break from food 1-2 times per week. Eat Stop Eat is just a simple way to reduce your weekly calorie intake while increasing HGH…both these things aid in fat loss. John is saying in his book that you could eat the same amount of calories 6 times per day, or in 1 meal…and that it makes no difference. The thing that makes Eat Stop Eat so effective is that on the fasting days, your calories are quite a bit lower which really makes it easier to have an average calorie deficit over time…even if you throw in a few higher calorie days. This is simply much harder to do if you eat 6 times per day (1-2 high calorie meals per week and you will have a tough time maintaining a calorie deficit over time).


I sometimes go over to T-nation to see what is happening. There are obviously some great authors with a ton of experience, but the whole thing seems so “supplement” based. The thing with John Barban and Brad Pilon is that they were Heads of Research and Development for a few high-profile supplement companies…they know more about supplements and the effects of supplements than anyone over at T-Nation. The irony is that Brad and John downplay supplement’s role in regards to gaining muscle and losing body fat. I really respect these guys, because they could use their knowledge and credibility to sell supplements like crazy. They would be millionaires many times over, but they have decided to take a better path. I have a ton of respect for both guys.


My advice would be to eat at maintenance levels and then train for growth (more volume of sets and reps). Let me know how your test goes.


That is correct and why the amount of calories it takes to actually build extra muscle is so small, it is insignificant.

Jason G,

I used to think that nutrition played a bigger role in rebuilding the body to increase muscle mass. After getting to know Brad Pilon and studying his knowledge of protein and muscle growth…I have experienced a big paradigm shift. I don’t want to give away too much of his stuff in his “How Much Protein” book, but he reference 5-6 studies that show people gaining muscle by just consuming 60-100 grams of protein per day and just getting enough nutrition to meet their basic needs. The role of protein and nutrition in building muscle is MUCH more complex than I first suspected.

Here is a quote from Brad Pilon, that really made me rethink my outlook on this subject…

“Here is some more little known information about protein. If you were to eat 50 grams of protein on any given day, you would actually be digesting between 100 and 150 grams of protein! This is because your body also digests an additional 50 to 100 grams of endogenous protein every single day that is secreted into your gastrointestinal tract by your body (endogenous means that your body produced it without getting it from your diet).These proteins come from saliva, gastric juice, pancreatic enzymes and other secretions as well as intestinal cells and proteins that have leaked into the intestine from the blood.”

Your body actually provides protein for muscle growth, once the daily nutritional minimums are met…and these minimums are less than what you would expect.


About nutrition…you really just need to meet the minimums to gain muscle. It plays a *small* role in that you can’t starve yourself and gain muscle, but you certainly don’t need to bulk up to gain muscle…or eat anywhere near the neighborhood of protein that most experts recommend. You can gain muscle while just eating maintenance level calories…anything else will just lead to fat that you will have to burn off at some point in the future.


People often over exaggerate how much muscle a bulky guy has and underestimate how much of that is fat. I am never fooled by a guy who lifts and has a high body fat percentage. They can fool a lot of people with their shirts on, but shirt-off is a whole different deal. Typically someone at a lower body fat percentage like yourself, will look slim in clothes…but will surprise people when the shirt comes off. Good job so far…sounds like you are getting great results.


Don’t change up your diet if you want to gain muscle…just hit the weights a bit more with higher volume.


I don’t want to quote too much of Brad Pilon’s paid products without permission, but I will try to get him on here with a guest post. He does an incredible job of explaining protein synthesis, protein breakdown, and how our bodies actually produce protein. For now, read my response to Jason G about nutrition and building muscle. I will have more proof for you guys in the near future. This post was just meant to get the conversation started. This is a HUGE claim…but the good news is that both John and Brad have the studies to back this up. Also…John is the last guy to throw out a wild claim without having ample scientific research. Stay tuned.


Congrats…it also sounds like you have a great nutritionist…she doesn’t buy into the fact that you need 150-200 grams of protein per day. I completely agree with her assessment!


I don’t think people should ever add fat to their body on purpose (except for Sumo Wrestlers and NFL players). This is common practice amongst people trying to add muscle. It is unnecessary and unhealhty…we certainly agree when it comes to this.


Obviously you need to meet some minimum nutritional requirements for the body to operate properly. To go from 162 to 172 at the same body fat percentage largely comes down to sarcoplasmic hypertrophy (water within the muscle) and if you are carb loaded, etc. Higher calories can quickly accomplish this. John is talking more about actually lean body mass (actual muscle fiber growth).


Very solid comment. I think the biggest thing that both Brad and John have found digging through the scientific literature are studies where muscle gain happened without calorie surplus. This flew in the face of what I believed for years. Anyway…I will ask these guys to come on the site and do a followup video addressing this topic. Obviously the approach you are taking works very well…I do something very similar myself.


I like the idea of clean muscle gain…good point. I also used to think exactly what you thought about protein and muscle gain. in fact, It wasn’t that long ago that I changed my stance. The body is much more complex than I had first imagined. If you meet the nutritional minimums and everything is working properly it actually produces protein that you don’t get from your diet (read my comment to Jason G above). Obviously you need to get enough protein for the body to operate and enough calories, etc…it just works a bit differently than what many fitness publications would have you believe.

Donkey Lips,

These days, I follow the Eat Stop Eat as far as fasting 1-2 times per week. The meals I eat are close to what Mark Sisson recommends in The Primal Blueprint and over at Mark’s Daily Apple. I feel better when I eat less grains. To a certain extent a calorie is just a calorie. I have reached really low body fat levels eating a higher carb diet while maintaining a calorie deficit, but it was tougher to follow. The higher carb diets can play with insulin levels to where you are likely to binge. I never get the heavy food cravings when I eat Paleo. My advice is to follow what works for you as far as maintaining a calorie deficit if you are trying to lose body fat. That being said, I think you will really enjoy the way Paleo eating makes your body feel…give it a shot.


The exercise bike is very effective as well as the treadmill. I like the treadmill, but the upright exercise bike works well. Really it all comes down to preference. I get tight muscles from the exercise bike and don’t experience that with the treadmill, but I have been able to get really lean with either piece of equipment. As far as working out in a fasted state. This is just one of those cases of “stacking the deck in your favor”…this will contribute to greater fat loss. Diet makes or breaks you when it comes to fat loss…this little extra tweak will just help you get better results.


The guys over at T-nation aren’t exactly big fans of my site (big understatement). No disrespect to them, we just have a different demographic. I don’t want fitness to encompass my life and take over everything that I do…and I think most of the people who read this site regularly are the same way. I have no idea who won the last Mr Olympia…I couldn’t name a single women’s fitness competitor, etc. I just want to help people do effective workouts to be healthy and look incredible in a swimsuit. That site feels like a whole different world…I can’t relate to any of that anymore.


Yep…it can be done and there are studies to prove it. Stay tuned, because I will address this in a Part II type post.


Since you are 21, you will still fill-out a bit naturally. Many guys fill out well into their 20’s. If you want to keep muscle while maintaining body fat, then keep the diet the same…but increase your volume of lifting (sets and reps) a bit. I can’t tell you exactly what to change, because I don’t know your workout…but aim for more sets and reps with less resting in between sets. You are basically aiming to compress more volume into your workout without making the workout much longer…maybe 10 minutes longer, but with more total volume. Hope that makes sense.


Great suggestion…I have written it down for a future topic.


I aim for an average calorie deficit over a period of time…not day to day. Today I’m only going to eat 800-1,000 calories, but on Saturday I’ll be at the International Brew Fest in Portland (don’t even want to guess the calories). I have high calorie days and low calorie days, same with meals…but over a week or month it averages out to a slight calorie deficit. I try to aim for Paleo a lot of the time, but some days the Nachos are calling my name. Make sense?


There is always room for flexibility within reason for these types of routines. I’m glad you enjoyed the course. I really like the way it is setup and removes a ton of myths in regards to gaining muscle. The funny thing about your physique now is that you probably look like you have a lot more muscle at 185, then you did when you were 30 pounds heavier. I bet you are a lot more athletic as this lighter weight as well. Great progress! I am with you 100% on the beefed up look. Not a good look to go after.


When you say “weak” you mean weak…not injured. Right? If that is the case, this is very common. It will take a bit of time for your arms to get strong enough to really challenge your chest in things like bench press and chinups. Stick with them, because your arms and forearms and shoulders will get strong enough to where you will be able to use enough weight to gain mass on your bigger body parts. In time your body will work like a well-oiled machine and the individual body parts will work equally as hard. As far as the message on the video goes…no starvation, but meeting the nutritional minimums are enough to allow for muscle growth.

Muscle Man,

Sorry for the unclear statement on my part. I meant that you can only put on that 10-20 pound muscle quickly just once in your lifetime. After that you are close to your genetic potential so muscle gains will come at a much slower rate. Some guys won’t train long enough, so they may put on 5 pounds in two months and come back and then gain 10 more after taking a six month break. Some people never gain muscle at a fast rate because they don’t stick with it long enough. The idea is that fast gains of 15-20 pounds will never happen more than once in a person’s life time…if they ever do go workout long and hard enough to gain muscle quickly in the first place.


Great comment. What I like is that you understand that once you look good, why get stuck in the muscle gaining trap in the first place? Brad Howard, one of the guys who works with John, put that video out. I will see if I can find it.


How is the guy who lives in paradise doing. We are all jealous of the place you live, but since you go over such great recipes…I still visit your blog on a regular basis and try to avoid the pictures of your neighborhood. Shoot…I just went over to your site. Your vacation photos are outstanding! Anyway, I completely agree with your stance on how a guy’s view of fitness evolves a bit as he grows older. Some guys are fortunate to learn this at a young age…it takes other much longer. I just want to travel and look good swimming in tropical waters with my girlfriend while enjoying some cold local food and beer at the city I’m visiting. I also don’t want to look awkward in a suit or tux. I guess James Bond is my role model now!

Frank Z,

If you read the book, he does talk about how muscle gain slows down substantially once you reach your genetic potential. After 4 years of training someone is just musch closer to their genetic potential than a beginner. Someone who has trained properly for 4 years will probably only gain a couple of pounds of real muscle each year. The closer they get to their genetic potential the slower this gets. On another video, John points out that two guys of the same height and same body fat percentage look dramatically different with a 7-10 pounds different in lean muscle mass…especially if both of these guys are pretty lean. People tend to underestimate what 10 pounds of muscle really means. It is a lot of muscle.


Yep…the upright stationary bike works the best and it works very well. I’ve done this with great results.

WOW…lot’s of comments…but I have a feeling this is just the beginning of the discussion,


keith July 22, 2009 at 11:11 pm

Hey Rusty great post but this comment doesn’t really have anything to do with it. You say that you go and travel a lot around the world but how do you regulate how you eat while on vacation and still stay lean? I am going to Hawaii next month for a week and am wondering how to still stay lean while still being able to enjoy all the great food and still also being able to look good on the beach. What do u normally do without depriving yourself on vacation? Thanks. By the way i am already pretty lean ( 6ft / 160 pounds ) and just want to maintain during vacation. Sorry for the long comment

thekid July 22, 2009 at 11:23 pm

Really of topic but, does splenda have any negative effects on fat loss?

Aditya July 23, 2009 at 3:17 am

Rusty, Thanks for the info.

I would like to compare the Warrior Diet with the Eat Stop Eat Diet. After what I came to know reading about both the diets, is it right to say that Warrior Diet is an all day fasting(With One Big Meal at Night). Because in Eat Stop Eat you are fasting for 2 days and Warrior Diet is when you just eat one meal every day.

My point is, Can we say The Warrior Diet is an All Day Fasting Routine and ESE is a 2 days a week Fasting?

I myself follow the Warrior Diet and I have this major confusion if I should shift to ESE. The confusion creates a major paranoia about The Warrior Diet and when I read about you, Brad or John following ESE, it makes me think twice with an increased paranoia, if following the Warrior Diet is pushing me to the limit which is not really needed.

Can you please do a topic where you compare both the diets (the One Meal per day and the ESE)? Not like I am asking you to say which is better, but just that there are some major confusion when it comes to deciding which one of the two to follow!

PS: I have been trying to mail you personally but havent been able to find your email address anywhere.


Aditya July 23, 2009 at 6:29 am

Ok Rusty, pardon me but this is totally Off Topic and I really wanted to get this through in this site. If you are talking about Primal diets, limits of physical exertion, strength, endurance talk about Bear Grylls. I guess he is a living example of how exactly the primal human survived. If you have seen even one episode of Man vs Wild you would know the limits of physical exertion the guy puts himself through, surviving on natural foods solely. I am a huge fan and I hope you guys should check the Man vs Wild thing out! Simply awe inspiring and totally mind blowing! He survives the Moab Desert in Utah, a Tropical Rain Forest in South America, the snowy hills in Iceland and what not! Its tough to be Grylls! Really!

Daniel July 23, 2009 at 7:49 am

This whole thing just annoys the hell out of me

Theres no right or wrong way of doing things. Why dont people just do what works for them? You dont have to follow someones training / nutrtion / Lifestyle etc – just do what you want to do.

I used to be a bodybuilder and I decided that it wasnt a good look to persue. That was about a year ago and I have cut down from 200lbs to 140lbs without too much strength loss. I used to follow the 1 billion calories and 2 trillion grams of protein per day and base my entire existance around BBing and one day, I just woke up and thought – why? Id much rather have a life, and I look like s**t anyway!

The first chapter of the adonis effect really resonated with me – you cant physically dominate your way into being successful in life. Working out and having a lifestyle like Rusty advocates on this site has been much more enjoyable and sustainable, and I actually look good. IF works fine, skipping meals does you no harm what so ever, I have high calorie days, low calorie days and everything in between. I have more time for socialising, dont worry if I have a few beers etc. Quitting BB was like being let out of social prison!

The thing is you can really do what you want – If you want to eat a ton of calories and buckets of protein – fine. crack on. But from experience, and I did this for 10 years, It will be mostly water and fat that you put on. Brad Pillion and Rusty Moore have been down the BB route, like me, and have banged their heads against a brick wall for long enough to realise when you need to just ditch an idea and let go, no matter how much time you have invested in it or how much you believed it to be true.

Why not TRY to gain muscle and strength on a low calorie diet before people start rubbishing it? Obviously the author has managed to do this otherwise why would he bother writing an article about it?

Its like in the days of old, great and wise scientists told the masses that the earth was round when they believed it was flat and Im sure they were burned at the stake for it. The bodybuilding community just seem to be this lunatic sect that cant be told anything other that the anciet Bodybuilding Dogma. Its as if its written in some sort of bodybuilding bible and any non believer is guilty of blasphamy and must be destroyed.

Why dont people just TRY these new ideas? If you dont eat 6 meals a day, you wont get arrested, or die. Working out on an empty stomach wont cause you to instantly become an emaciated weakling. Fasting for a 24 hr period wont put you in the same catagory of a murderer or a rapist (well, it might if a bodybuilder hears about it)

It just goes to show how badly brainwashed these people have become by the influence of the fitness industry, supplement companies and BB forums.

Weirds me out

Ramon July 23, 2009 at 9:24 am

Really interesting food for thought (no pun intended), Rusty! This site is definitely the thinking man’s fitness site. I love how you recommend a mix of fasting and primal eating. I just finished reading Mark Sisson’s Primal Blueprint book and it is the best lifestyle changing diet/exercise book I have ever read. You should really do a review of it on your site some day.

Baz July 23, 2009 at 10:51 am

Hey rusty,

You seem to be able to guess the weight of actors seeing as though that is the body type you preach about. How much do you think Steven strait, the guy from 10000bc and the covenant weighs. This guy has ideal proportions and I think has the exact body you preach on you wonderful site.

Thanks as always

Sam July 23, 2009 at 1:54 pm


As I mentioned in a previous post I have been in Mexico doing volunteer work for the past month. Since I have been living with a host family I have had little control over what and when I can eat throughout the day. As you know, many of the meals have been highly carb oriented and although I have attempted to do some IF to keep the weight off, however in Mexican culture there is much emphasis placed around meal time and, as I found out the first week I was here, it is extremely rude to turn down someone´s request for yoiu to eat with them or the food they made for you. Unfortunately, I have gained some weight, around 6 pounds since I have been here and would like to get it off as soon as possible. I would like to use The Rapid Fat Loss Handbook from Lyle Mcdonald to really kick start the weight loss since I would like to lose around 15 pounds total in the next 5 weeks. I saw that you previously recommended it. Have you ever used it to lean down and does it work well?

Jason G July 23, 2009 at 2:08 pm


I think what is making this article so controversial is the vagueness of the information presented in the video and the controversial title. For example John states that “nutrition plays a negligible role in muscle building”. What is negligible?

Negligible: Able to be ignored or excluded from consideration; too small or unimportant to be of concern

John didn’t expand on that comment so many of your readers made responses thinking that he was saying it doesn’t matter what you eat or how much you eat when trying to build muscle(or reach your genetic potential). Your response to me was that you can actually get by with eating 60 to 100 grams of protein. Now Rusty I’m not trying to give you or John a hard time, but 60 to 100 grams of protein (two chicken breasts or three to five scoops of whey protein) would not be considered negligible by most people.

Furthermore people will have different protein needs based on their work outs. Would you argue that a person who only works out his chest and biceps needs the same amount of protein as a person who does a full body workout including multiple sets of squats and deadlifts? If the answer is yes then protein consumption is negligible in your opinion. I would disagree.

I will agree that the exercise routine is the main stimulus for how much muscle will be built and over consumption of calories will not result in extra muscle mass. Nevertheless for muscles to recover it needs energy and building material and that comes from food. If provided with the wrong food (close to zero protein or very little carbohydrate) the body will take longer to recover or in extreme cases waste away. I really just want to clear this up so that fitness black book readers don’t try to build muscle on a thousand calorie diet that consists of Froot Loops and Cheetos thinking that nutrition plays a small or negligible role in muscle gaining.

I also find Johns statements on genetic potential a little misleading for this particular audience. Ironically I think John is probably right that most people of the same height will have about the same amount of muscle as they reach their genetic potential. The problem is that most of your readers are going for the Brad Pitt look or the Daniel Craig look. Both of these people have not come close to their genetic potential as far as muscle building is concerned. Similarly most of your readers do not need to be concerned with reaching their genetic potential because it will make them look larger than they want to.

Individual needs and individual training styles (high rep verse low rep for example) are going to result in physiques that are very different even among people with similar heights. Example Brad Pitt is 5’11” and Danial Craig is 5’10”. Another example is Brad Pitt in Troy and Brad Pitt in Fight Club. Needless to say every person has a lot of choices on how they are going to look based on choices like diet, which muscles they choose to work out, and what rep range they choose to work in. This creativity is what makes working out fun.

Donkey Lips July 23, 2009 at 2:59 pm


Sorry but Bear Grylls is a fraud. He’s a tough guy no daoubt and knows a thing or two and has done some nutty stuff but that show got proven to be a fake. They take him to hotel rooms at night he eats/drinks whatever he wants outside of the filming and the show is simply a big fake act. He does really do some wild things in front of the camera (drink his own pee, eat live snakes, tons of other crazy crap) but he sleeps comfortably and gets to wash out the tastes of gross stuff with whatever he likes. A photographer followed the Man vs. Wild crew and secretly caught all this stuff on camera and exposed the show as being a lie. It’s pretty obvious though because he’s always got make up on and the camera shots are awesome. Entertaining show no doubt but don’t think Bear is a super hero.

John barban July 23, 2009 at 3:40 pm


The research study I quoted points out that you can lose weight both eating 3 meals or one meal per day. So this perfectly supports Ori’s or Brads book.

The study indicated there was no significant difference between the different meal frequencies. So if you choose to eat one meal per day you’ll be fine, and if you choose to eat three meals per day you’ll also be fine.

The choice is yours really. The point I was making is that it is not necessary to go out of your way to eat 5-6 times per day if you don’t want to in order to lose weight.


John barban July 23, 2009 at 3:43 pm


I couldn’t have said it better myself.


John barban July 23, 2009 at 3:48 pm


My intention is not to say that we can all eat a ‘junk food’ diet. Far from it in fact. I’m making the assumption that people understand the concept of a mixed diet with a high percentage of whole foods a limited processing and junk is th way to go (big assumption I know).

I was pointing out that going out of your way to eat excessive calories in an effort force faster muscle growth is not necessary or even possible.

I think I need to clarify this point with another video.


John barban July 23, 2009 at 3:51 pm


You said it with your ‘sweet spot’ line. That is exactly what we are all looking for.


John barban July 23, 2009 at 5:50 pm


Well said. You put it into perspective that did not have a chance to in a short video.

Totally agree with you. I am definitely not talking about eating 1000 calories per day in cheeto’s. And you are also correct that many of rusty’s readers here aren’t even interested in approaching their genetic potential.

I must admit my years in the bodybuilding and supplement industry still make me think everyone has bought into the 300 grams of protein per day hype and the 5000 calories per day to bulk up hype.

Thanks for helping to put it all back into perspective.


Irish July 23, 2009 at 6:14 pm

Rusty/John Barban,

In order to reach Genetic Potential would you recommend lifting as heavy as possible (while in control and good form as not to injure yourself) and include major muscle group lifts like Squat, Dead, Clean, Bench, Row? What I am specifically concerned with is maximizing HGH and Testosterone output natrually. I use ESE, fasted workouts, get plenty of rest, sex, etc. How much of a calorie deficit do you need to be at before it starts effecting testosterone. I’m trying to find the sweet spot and I don’t want to screw up my testosterone in the process by going too extreme. I know a balanced diet is important as well. Plenty of fat and carbs to go along with the protien for optimal testosterone output.

keith July 23, 2009 at 7:36 pm

how about for skinny guys who have a hard time gaining muscle, are we not suppose to eat alot like u say.

Jarl July 24, 2009 at 12:16 am

Hi Rusty,

I am curious about what your diet is now since you are following ESE. If I understood a previous passage from this post, you recommend eating the primal way so I would assume you mean the warrior diet, correct? From what John Barban said, can you follow ESE and also the Warrior diet or something similar to it where you eat light through the day and larger meal at night on the days including the nights you are fasting?

Norbi July 24, 2009 at 2:01 am

Jason G,

excellent comment, exactly what I wanted to point out (more or less). I think the message in the video wasn’t entirely clean, or let’s just say, let way too much space for different interpretations. Also I find you thoughts on the ‘audience and their interest’ very very true.


ps.: I’d really love to get in touch with you with a few muscle building questions, as you made some really good points in regards of my personal case earlier, do you think is there any way to make it happen?


thanks for your reply! Fortunately, my arms and shoulders are not injured, just literally weak. I’ll keep working out and hope to build them strong enough soon so I’ll be able to do everything right.

Jason G July 24, 2009 at 5:11 pm


Thanks for your comments. This is my old email address: I will check it in the next several days to see if you respond. I would be happy to answer any questions you have to the best of my ability.

Al July 24, 2009 at 9:25 pm

Hi Rusty,

Sorry no post for a long time, just got really busy in other areas of my life. Anyways, this is a very, very interesting post!

What John has to say is very thought provoking and if you think about it, it does ring true! Especially the whole 20 year old vs 40 year old in the gym thing. Sure the 40 year old is probally stronger but they aren’t that different in size.

pjnoir July 24, 2009 at 9:26 pm

Oddly perhaps but just the opposite is happening to me. Im deep into my (gulp) 50’s – the new thirty, right(?) and im having far better muscle gains now than when I was a jock in HS and college and lifted the York Barbell way, protein sups and all. My diet today is far better as is my workout but not my first time around the gym- so why the gains? Good hard work, Clean Food works at any time. Kettlebells, Squats and Deadlifts don’t lie.

Jim July 25, 2009 at 1:14 am

Hi Rusty,

Could you do the following diet with ESE:

eat low carb through the day… workout on empty stomach… and eat either low carb meal or maintenance meal at night after workout… basically just drink green tea and maybe one piece of fruit during the day then on the fasting days do a total fast? So this would basically be putting a warrior type of diet with ESE. What do others in the post think about this? i appreciate all of your comments.

Jarl July 25, 2009 at 2:10 am

Hi Rusty,

Do you doing any weights or cardio on the days that you do ESE? just curious… I find when I workout from an all day fast that I don’t seem to get as good workout and lose some muscle. When I eat something for lunch then wait 4-5 hours, I seem to have better workouts on non-fasting days. Interested in input from others…

John Lloyd July 25, 2009 at 10:54 am

I’m a fan of your site Rusty, but this article is crockery. Every man is capable of adding 20-30 pounds of muscle to their frame with the right nutrition and training. You can train to the cows come home, but wont gain an ounce without a caloric surplus of around 500-1000 a day. Now, Barban is right in that (without steroids)your gains will come VERY gradually after the initial gains, but you’ll still gain miniscule amount of muscle as you get stronger. Strength gain and Hypertrophy are highly correlated and one can continue to get stronger well into his 40s. Nutrition plays an important role in this. Any powerlifter will tell you, that strength comes easier with a caloric surplus. Barban is right on supplements, they’re practically useless. However, he’s profiteering on this ‘conspiracy’. Instead of buying protein powder, everyone who’s read this article is now going to buy his book. And frankly, I love how people with not so musucular physiques talk about what is and isn’t necessary to build muscle. Sorry Rusty, neither him nor you, are that muscular. Now, I know you believe everyone who is muscular uses steroids, but that simply ain’t true. They’re are PLENTLY of guys from the 1940s, 1950s(pre-steroid era) who built impressive physiques. Reg Park, Steeve Reeves,etc…Those guys set the bar for what can be accomplished without drugs. Now, you could argue these guys were genetically and maybe so. But I truly believe, that most average sized(say 5’10 170lbs) can reach a lean 190-200 lbs. With hard work in the gym AND NUTRITION that is an achievable goal. Repetable natural trainers like Lyle Mcdonald, Stuart McRobert would confirm that.

John Lloyd July 25, 2009 at 11:00 am

And I might add, comparing the sizes of the average guy in the gym is unscientific and idiotic. The average guy doesn’t know anything about how to construct a workout, proper nutrition,etc…Even WITH steroids, you would be hard pressed to gain muscle doing bicep curls, tricep extensions, sloppy bench presses 4 times a week and having a diet consisting of about 1800 calories of junk. That is the typical young american guy’s training/eating habit. I’m in college, so I see this first hand everyday…

Jason G July 26, 2009 at 3:20 pm

Lets not come to the conclusion that supplements are useless. Whey protein can be a good substitute for red meat protein and as a result add years to a persons life.

Warrior July 27, 2009 at 5:28 am


Hello! I feel I need to clear up some misconceptions about the Warrior Diet. It is NOT NOT NOT an all day fast. Ori _explicitly_ states this in his book (sorry I do not have the page number or exact sentence, I am work right now). The idea is to eat foods throughout the day that “cleanse” the system and thus minimally impact the digestive system. These foods are typically fruits and vegetables, grains like quinoa, eggs I think (poached), and nuts. for example some days, throughout the day at work I eat 5 apples one day, or 6 oranges the next, or 4 carrots, or lettuce and sprouts, etc. then a large meal at night. the list is somewhat restrictive since Ori feels some foods impact the body in different ways and do not produce the desired effect.

furthermore ori states that if you exercise during the day it is okay to have a recovery meal afterwards. IN FACT, the only “diet” portion of the “Warrior Diet” is where ori basically states “no processed sugar”. he advocates more a “way of life” where you basically undereat during the day, and overeat at night.

ESE, from what i can discern, is an actual textbook fast, that is, NO food for a period of time (usually 24 hours) on certain days. I garner from his postings that rusty does this 2x a week since (I assume) he feels he can better control his diet this way, and HGH is released after a period of fasting. I say whatever works! But I will not try it until I buy the ESE book myself for the full story (i am considering it).

If you are currently following the Warrior Diet by not eating _anything_ throughout the day, then eating one giant meal, this is NOT the Warrior Diet. You should read the book in order to fully appreciate the Warrior Diet, and to fully understand the ramifications of changing your diet in this way. After all it is your own body, dont you want to know everything you can about following a specific diet??? The postings here (this post included) are simply not informational enough.

Denmark July 27, 2009 at 9:40 am

Hey Rusty,

I came accross this… I agree with your aproach, but am iteressted in what you have to say…

If I work out on an empty stomach, will I burn more fat?
James, New York, NY
Weight-Loss Coach answers

q: If I work out on an empty stomach, will I burn more fat?

A: It’s not the fat burned during exercise that matters, it’s the fat burned between your exercise sessions that really counts. Worrying about how much fat you burn during exercise makes as much sense as wondering how much muscle you’re building while lifting. (You don’t actually build muscle during training; you break it down to trigger growth.) Exercise is the catalyst for change, not the change itself. During a high-intensity workout, your body burns carbohydrates and creatine instead of fat. But—and this is a great “but”—it stimulates your metabolism, which in turn attacks your fat stores between workouts. So go ahead and eat beforehand. You’ll need the fuel to make it a worthwhile workout.

Irish July 27, 2009 at 1:53 pm


Here’s the problem with eating beforehand. You’re insulin will be high (or at least higher than it would be if in a fasted state) and that can make you tired. You’re body is trying to store fat for energy and you are trying to use fat as energy. So it’s counterproductive. I know from experience that working out in a fasted state causes my workouts to be of higher intensity and has helped me get very lean. Try to go at least an hour (but not more than two) after you workout without any calories as well in order to prolong the fat burning process. Then eat a balanced healthy meal. Implementing this will get you leaner and you’ll have higher energy better workouts as well. Once you get through the first few weeks it becomes normal it just takes some mental toughness.

Aditya July 27, 2009 at 3:47 pm


Thanks for the info. I did go through the book once again, seems like I had skipped some portion of the book by Ori. Yes you are right, its NOT a whole day fast and we are actually undereating during the day. When I am following the Warrior Diet, I basically am eating almonds, apples, watermelons, guava and papaya. I drink a cup of black coffee without sugar once during the day. At night I basically have sausages(with minimal oil fry) and 4 or 5 egg poaches. I really am not sure if this is the right method. Since I am busy most of the time I cannot afford time to cook up a proper meal hence the eggs and sausages. I do not eat sugar at all.

I have followed ESE in the past too and seems like ESE is much easier to follow. But if my method of following the Warrior Diet is right, I will stick to it. Since I believe I can handle the Warrior Diet pretty much easily. I really want to finally come up with one diet between the too. Rusty, Craig, John and Brad are ESE followers and I would always consider ESE if I am cleared with the idea that my diet above looks okay for an ESE too. I know it all comes down to creating a calorie deficit over a period of time, like a week or a month. And I also have read that starvation mode only sets in after atleast 24 hours of complete fasting. So basically going by that idea I think my method of eating should be good. Provided, eating fruits all day and eating eggs/chicken at night is a negative way of following any of the textbook calorie deficit rules.

Post workout I just eat a apple and some yogurt. No sugar again.

Correct me if I am wrong!

As for my workout, I do HIIT 4 times a week and I stick to low rep, high volume 3 times a week. For abs, I stick with planks and other body weight exercises as proposed by Craig Ballantyne. I want tone, not bulk.

PS: I started the above a month back and I DO NOT have visible abs yet. My body fat percentage is 15% at the moment. And I have a target of reaching 5-6%. And yes, I am taking a fat burner at the moment.

Aditya July 27, 2009 at 3:55 pm

Rusty, can you jot down your diet on a non fasting day? You follow ESE and I am curious what exactly do you eat during the day.

If it all comes down to creating a calorie deficit and also the fact that starvation mode doesnt set in atleast for 24 hours then why cant we devise our own diet. I have full respect for the Warrior Diet and ESE but I just was curious. Minus the processed foods and sugars ofcourse!

And since starvation mode doesnt set in atleast for 24 hours WHY cant we do all day fasts for say 5 days a week with a meal at night IF we CAN cope without eating all through the day.

Will all day fasts for 5 days a week with a meal at night be detrimental and make us lose muscle mass? Will it hamper metabolism? Some questions keep on coming to my mind!

Studio Element Personal Training July 27, 2009 at 4:13 pm

It is definitely very important to be consuming the proper meals with proper proportions to gain these type of specific goals. We, at Studio Element, employ at Registered Dietician specifically for this reason.

TonyKim July 27, 2009 at 4:47 pm

Ah, the placebo effect as its best. So pervasive that people have convinced themselves they can lift more in fasted state than when just coming off a solid, balanced meal 1 hour before lifting.

Irish July 27, 2009 at 6:29 pm

@ Warrior,

In your opinion given the information you have/know would it work out alright to combine both ESE and the Warrior diet. Personally I think a combination of the two work best for me. I like fasting twice per week because it empties out my system and makes burning fat easier because it allows me to be flexible on my weekends when I tend to eat in a large caloric surplus. I also enjoy eating my largest meal of the day at night. So on non fasting weekdays I tend to only eat fruit/veggies/hard boiled eggs during the day (not all of them in one day I usually pick which one of those I’ll eat that day and then eat 4 apples for example on a Tuesday). However, on the weekend/Holidays/Special Occasions I find it too difficult and wierd to follow either diet. I am going to live life and be a normal person and eat with family/friends when they are eating. I know the Warrior diat is supposed to be a way of life but I guess I’m not hardcore enough to follow it everyday of the year. I guess what I am getting at is do find any information in the Warrior diet that says it must be done always and at all times? The flexibilty of combing the two diets and taking what I like from each allows me to enjoy life but am I not getting the desired effect by not following either diet the way they are strictly designed? For example I am not following ESE by the book either because it says eat normally (3 meals per day on non fasting days) and I am not doing that I am eating more Warrior style on non fasting days. Hope I was clear enough and you can answer my question. Thanks…

Aditya July 28, 2009 at 12:25 am


I was about to say the same thing. Its actually a lot convenient to combine both ESE and Warrior Diet. And for me too its mostly Warrior Diet. And 2 times a week, I do complete fasts. I find this method easy to follow.

Rusty would agree it all comes down to creating a calorie deficit no matter what diet you follow!

Chris July 28, 2009 at 9:33 pm

Great video, and great topic. I’ve made comments about this in past blog topics on here, that eating the amount of food/calories that many of these bodybuilders are eating, in pointless, and results in more fat gain than it does in muscle gain, and how eating less calories would still result in that same addition of muscle mass, but without the extra fat. I’ve never understood the concept of eating 4,000 calories a day, for several months, to bulk, only to then lean right back out. And, I’ve never seen, in videos, or before and after photos, a difference in muscle mass on any bodybuilder, pre-bulk cycle, vs. after they leaned back out, following the bulking cycle. Nutrition is important. Healthy nutrition is important, and will definitely help fuel workouts, which will in turn lead to more energy, and thus, better gains, but I have never believed that good directly related to building muscle mass, only fat.

admin July 29, 2009 at 3:34 pm


I go into the vacation a bit carb depleted without losing muscle. I am going to throw together a free report on how to do this, but it won’t be in time for your vacation. Think along the lines of eating low carb and low fat for 6-7 days before your trip. You are aiming for the muscles to be a bit flat by the time you hit your flight. Within a couple of meals you will look quite a bit better. You will be able to eat pretty loose and not have to worry about working out and will look outstanding and leaner than normal for 7-14 days.


I have found no evidence that artificial sweetners affect fat loss at all. I have seen studies that try to prove otherwise, but they are almost always flawed. I have achieved extremely low body fat levels while drinking a couple cans of Diet Coke each day. These days I try to limit my Diet Coke consumption, mainly for health reasons.


I do think ESE works better. The Warrior Diet encourages one big meal at night every day. I simply wasn’t able to get as lean eating like this. Eat Stop Eat uses two fasts per week until dinner…the big difference is that the ESE method encourages a moderate size dinner. These 2 days wind up being pretty low-cal and really aid in fat loss. You wouldn’t be able to do this on the Warrior Diet, since going low cal every day would basically become an eating disorder. I find the ESE diet easier to follow and more effective than the Warrior Diet. Maybe at some point I will do an article on Bear Grylls.


I can totally relate to this sentence…”Quitting BB was like being let out of social prison!”. Although I never was a true bodybuilder, I was obsessed with gaining muscle for the first 6-7 years of training. Now I try to become more and more efficient while looking my best. The result is much less time in a gym and more time to enjoy life. I also agree with you that people should try some of this stuff. Between me, John Barban, and Brad Pilon…there is a lot of experience. I’m not saying our way is the only way to go, but it certainly wouldn’t hurt to give it a shot. The worst thing that will happen is that people will maintain muscle while giving their digestive system a break.


I’ve become friends with Mark Sisson over the past 2 years and really respect his knowledge and wisdom about health and fitness. It has been fun to get to know him. He is a great guy and I certainly plan on doing a review of the Primal Blueprint. It is an outstanding book.


Okay…let me Google the guy (Steven Strait)…Okay, so most sources say he is 6’2″ and some say 6′ even. I am going to assume 6’1″ to be safe. He looks like he has a bigger frame than Brad Pitt and he is 1-2 inches taller. Brad is somwehere around 5’11” and 6′ tall. Brad Pitt was 155-160 pounds for Fight Club at 6% body fat. For the movie Snatch he was 165-170 at 8% body fat. Steven Strait looks around 8% body fat in most of the photos that I saw. So at 6’1″, I would guess for him to be around 175-180. Just a guess, but I’m probably close.


I answered this for you in a more recent post (low carb or low fat post). Sorry it took so long for me to get back to you.

Jason G,

True that I think most of us (readers of this site) want to steer short of maxing out our genetic potential. At 6’3″ I have been 220 pounds while being kind of lean (15 years ago)…These days I stick around 185-190 and look and feel better (I can actually fit into normal pants). You are right about training differently to stay slim and lean versus getting close to your genetic potential. I wanted to introduce those who do want to gain a bit more muscle, a guy who tells the truth. Jihn Barban is that guy.

John B,

Thanks for responding to all the questions!


You don’t want to create a large chronic calorie deficit. You can go extreme for a day or two and create a calorie surplus for a day or two and as long as you average a moderate calorie deficit you will be fine.


I still wouldn’t force in too much food. Since you are naturally skinny you can get away with eating more without gaining fat. As long as you aren’t gaining fat, you will be good. Different people have different calorie requirements. You can probably eat more than some and be fine, just don’t go overboard.


I follow ESE with the Primal way of eating. Fruits veggies and meat, while fasting until dinner 2 times per week. On my non-fasting days I eat 3 primal meals. 1-2 times a week I am less strict, due to being social (parties, BBQ’s, etc.)


You could do that, but it does seem a little strict. It would be a good approach to losing body fat, but once you get to a point you are pleased with I would suggest that you loosen up the diet a bit.


Over time your body will adapt to fasting and you will have some of your best workouts in a fasted state. It is weird how it works. There is a perdios of adapting that can take a while.

John Lloyd,

I agree that every man is capable of gaining 20-30 pounds of muscle naturally. I did that when I was younger. As I got older I realized that this wasn’t a look I enjoyed and I slimmed down. As far as John goes. He is actually quite muscular, but he downplays it with the clothes he wears. He isn’t the type of guy to pose with his shirt off. Brad Pilon has mentioned that John is stronger and a little bigger than him (and Brad is a pretty big guy). Anyway…I used to have some of the same opinions as you, but those have changed over the years. I’m just simply going to have to disagree with your take on nutrition and building muscle. I still appreciate the comment and I hope you keep contributing even when we disagree.

Jason G,

I have never claimed that supplements were useless and neither has John. John still works in the supplement industry. I just want people to know that they can hit their goals just as well without supplements. Things like whey protein and meal replacement powders are a great time saver…and are healthier and cheaper than a lot of other meal choices.


When you workout on an empty stomach, you will burn some fat while working out…but will also have a larger HGH response to the workout. John is talking about EPOC and metabolism…which will be just as strong if you workout in a fasted state. The bonus of working out in a fasted state is the additional HGH response as well as burning (some) body fat while working out. Might as well stack the deck in your favor and get all of the benefits!


The reason ESE works so well is the overall calorie reduction cause by those 2 low calorie days. With ESE you are eating a normal sized healthy meal, not a big meal like the Warrior Diet recommends. You couldn’t do 5 ESE style fasts each week, because that would cause you to become anorexic. Two fasts per week ESE style increases HGH while helping you maintain a decent calorie deficit over time. It is a great way to get lean and stay lean.


Eating before lifting doesn’t have too much of an impact for me, but eating before HIIT or any type of interval work is brutal. I ocassionally make the mistake of eating before doing intervals and I fight burping up food. I’m not puking or anything, but I will burp and taste my last meal. I know it is gross, but I know I’m not alone when it comes to this. I absolutely beyond a shadow of a doubt get better workouts on an empty stomach. Again…the lifting part is about the same (as long as I’m not doing a circuit). Also the body composition benefits from working out on an empty stomach are outstanding. If it isn’t for you, that is cool.


Tom Parker - Free Fitness Tips August 8, 2009 at 1:24 pm

Hey Rusty. Good post. When I was in college I used to eat as much as physically possible to try and bulk up. However, for the last few years I have thankfully seen sense and eaten food in volumes that I am comfortable with.

Whilst I agree that the amount you eat does not dictate how much muscle mass you will gain I still think nutrition is important. Eating the right foods can make you much more alert when working out and also give you the fuel you need to rebuild after a workout. However, eating the wrong foods can make you feel sluggish whilst you workout – something I used to find quite a lot.

Rahim August 15, 2009 at 3:20 pm

This was a great post. I’m gonna pass this along to my friends who are what you would call “gym rats”. They’re always looking for ways to get bigger without going the steroid or drug route and I think that this information will put them at ease. The statement that John made about people trying to attain a celebrity like figure also needed to be said because I think a lot of people DO try to shoot for that look and they don’t know how or what way they achieved it. Again, great post.

alex September 9, 2009 at 8:21 am

without the nutrition, you have no building blocks to build new muscle.

if you cut your calories and workout more, you will not gain more muscle, in most cases you will enter a catabolic state and lose musce.

this idea is over simplied and i’d hate to see honest people get sucked in by this idea.

At the end of the day you don’t need all the supplements under the sun, and you don’t need to eat 6-8 meals a day. however if your trying make muscle to the maximum amont your body can, you need the nutritional requirments needed to make that muscle. if its not there, then what can you make the muscle with?

i agree that eating a stupid amount is not the best way to build muscle, as you will put on extra fat. however you need to consume atleast enough so that you body can create muscle mass as quickly as it possibly can, limiting caloires will only limit progress (in regards to muscle building)

Robert C. Morreale November 18, 2009 at 3:51 pm

the only thing that matters is a calorie deficit!

Brian November 20, 2009 at 2:21 pm


For all those who beleive that mucsle gains can not be made on a caloric resrticed diet- go to the knowledge tab and scroll down to the ‘300’ link) – these guys trained the actors/stuntmen fromn the ‘300’ and expicably state that all the trainees were put a severly restricted calorie diet – barely enough for recovery – check it out

Brian November 20, 2009 at 2:21 pm

sorry.. i meant to sya they trained the guys from the ‘300’ movie

jo KOcsis March 6, 2010 at 5:01 pm

tried this it didnt work

jo KOcsis March 6, 2010 at 5:02 pm

Sorry whayt i meant was I tried dieting but, my bidy stayed the same. 9 yearS and im still watery looking

Alain - How To Build Muscle July 27, 2010 at 12:55 pm

I must say I have never heard anything even remotely close to this. I want to be ignorant and just say this is BS but the fact is, the information has made me curious. I think if it is still available, i am going to sign up for the free copy of his report. Thansk for posting this rusty!

John August 7, 2011 at 4:22 pm

Rusty…..this topic needs to be covered more. Can you build the same amount of muscle on a calorie restricted diet??? This topic is really confusing…….

Leonid September 11, 2011 at 3:17 pm

This is great info – muscles grow mainly due to decrease in protein catabolism, not due to increase in protein anabolism.

I gained my 40 pounds in a year on a 1900 calories per day at 60-70 grams of protein per day at best.

Troy October 21, 2011 at 4:38 am

I feel the same as John above. It sounds like you can gain muscle mass by just eating at maintenance and don’t need a calorie surplus. I get that, but what about gaining muscle on a calorie deficit. Let’s say you have 14 – 16% body fat, could you gain muscle while reducing your body fat % at the same time. If so, will it be slower or take the same amount of time?

Eric B. January 2, 2012 at 10:30 am

Certainly sounds interesting, BUT will take alot of explaining. One thing that concerns me and seems to be in a constant “marketing” circle: I’ve seen time and time again with every miracle diet or workout plan where one link leads to another link and Boom!…the answer to all your fitness goals! “We’re not after your money like the other guys! We want to help you! As a matter of fact – here’s a FREE report on us!” You read, your interest peaked, but you don’t get a straight solution or answer. Finally you scroll down for more and you get a “Buy our book!” message. The money may go less toward excess food or supplements, but how much will we be spending to learn of this. I’M NOT CALLING IT FALSE. What would help is a researched study from an actual university or at least some client photos of individuals who “only” used this method. University researched results would make most “slightly” more easy on giving up there hard earned cash. Otherwise we better stick to what we’ve known. Hope to see more info!

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R. Stuart July 4, 2013 at 12:56 pm

Certainly sounds interesting and re-assuring, but at one time I was able to make huge gains in strength by consuming “Fat Gainer” by Weider. Only thing – I was gaining a lot of fat, so I stopped. But, had I continued, I’m not sure what the limit would have been as to what I could lift.

S.Gerard July 30, 2013 at 9:43 am

Seems like a lot of trash made for people who can’t get big so they don’t feel bad. What a load if crap.

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