We see them all the time. Workouts and diets of the pros featured in magazines that a lot of the time seem to defy logic or the capabilities of the average mortal who trains recreationally. Drugs and genetics allow the fortunate few to do that which is impossible for those without the gifts, time or inclination.
It was therefore interesting when I read an article of a journalist who gave Dwayne Johnson’s (The Rock) 12 Labors, Hercules Diet a test run to see if he could handle the same volume of food. I also wanted to see what the effects of an eating plan for a 285lb (P.E.D using) man would have on someone weighing 180lb.
I admit that the first day was brutal. Switching from 2 meals a day to seven was a shock to the system. I felt confined to the kitchen. Cooking, cleaning, eating, only to do it all two hours later. By the end of the first day, I thought I was going to fucking explode or pass out from the volume of food I had just eaten. I truly didn’t know how I was going to arise and do it all again the next day for another two weeks.
Surprisingly, the second day wasn’t as traumatic as the first. Sitting around cooking and eating all day long kept me pretty much house-bound and it was a huge pain in the ass to be eating to the clock.
I’ve always found eating on an empty stomach to be vitally important to having a good training session. Normally, I drink some carbs 10 minutes before training and suck down 2 bottles of Gatorade during the workout, but apart from that I keep food and even protein powder the hell away from my sessions.
By days Three and Four, with all the food in my system I felt tired, sluggish and weak during my afternoon workouts. My bench press especially hit the shitter by day Three, and I didn’t recover ground until I switched back to an I.F schedule after this two week experiment ended.
I did experience huge pumps during my morning high rep workouts as my muscles felt full to bursting point with all the carb fuelled glycogen and water stored in them.
After the first week, I was carrying a permanent “food baby” in my belly, so I jumped on the scale to see how much weight I had gained. I had LOST 2 kg (almost 5 pounds). Fuckin’ nice one Dwayne!
Being that every pound gained is a struggle for me, I was floored that I could be consuming this much food and carbs and still lose weight. One thing I did notice within the first few days of eating this way was that my sex drive went through the roof. I’ve NEVER felt such a noticeable and prominent surge in libido like this before in my life, which I can only attribute to the massive spike in round the clock carbs I was eating.
By the second week I was actually getting hungry between meals and occasionally experiencing bouts of low blood sugar. Running the macros and calories I found out that this diet only totalled around 4500 calories – a lot lower to what I’m normally used to eating calorically, but a lot more carbs and food overall.
I had to make some modifications to this malarky, or else I’d less resemble Hercules and more Smeagle if I maintained this for another week or so. I kept the meals exactly the same, but added in 3-4 protein shakes a day on top (pre and post workout), liberal amounts of coconut oil and butter to my eggs and meats, with prodigious amounts of sauce to sweeten the taste of the plain chicken and fish. I also threw a cheat meal in every night in the form of a block of cheese or a couple of triple cheeseburgers bringing my totals up to around the 5,500-6000 calorie mark.
4,500 calories is not a lot of food, but reaching that amount with clean calories every 2 hours makes it seem so. In light of what we know surrounding the myths of frequent eating now (no you won’t go catabolic after 3 hours of no food. And no, frequent eating doesn’t fuel the metabolic furnace) there seems to be no logical reason to employ this kind of eating schedule.
All in all there’s no sense in eating this way when it comes to convenience, performance, optimum insulin levels or digestive health. The macros and calories might be ok for someone with an average metabolism looking towards body recomp goals – but for someone like myself looking to add another 10 pounds to my frame, it can only be achieved by shovelling in some major calories in the form of calorically dense junk food.
One takeaway that I’ll continue from now on to maintain is high amounts of carbs. I was cycling 300-500 grams of carbs per day, focusing on getting the majority of calories from fat and protein, but bumping them up to 600 grams and over made some positive boosts to muscle fullness and libido – I just have to keep most of those carbs post workout or performance suffers greatly.
All in all it was a fun experiment to run – these little challenges here and there make training and dieting fun and interesting – and if I can learn one or two things from each experience, I’m all the better off for it.