Strategic Intuitive Eating for Lean Muscle Mass

By on January 26, 2018

Starting a diet may not be the best choice for a lot of people. Read below to find out why ‘Intuitive Eating’ is a good option. Scroll right on down to find my complete meal plan for bulking and cutting.

There are plenty of diets and eating strategies out there for those looking to build muscle and lose fat. You could count your calories, you could measure your macros, you could fast intermittently, you could go ketogenic, or you could go paleo.

I’m not here to discuss which of these methods is best or worst. I’ve seen people enjoy great results on all these diets and you’ll find plenty of positives and negatives in each case.

But for me, they all share one problem in common: they are too rigid. I’m someone who trains for the love of training. I workout because I love challenging myself. And I constantly research new training methods because I love the idea of pushing the body to its limited and unlocking hidden strength or smarts. Life can be a little dull at times, so this site is all about living like a superhero.

But that doesn’t mean I want to count every single calorie I consume, or starve myself for the first few hours of every day. To me it’s just unsustainable. And to me, there is little point in starting any new diet unless it’s something I think I can stick to indefinitely. I’m interested in the long term.

Many professional athletes and cover models have no choice but to be incredibly strict with their diets while they’re in training. They count every last calorie, or avoid any trace of simple carbs. This is gruelling but it’s worth it to get paid the big bucks. The problem is when an average Joe tries to stick to something similar and ends up bored, hungry and depressed.

Strategic Intuitive Eating

Even professional athletes do not stick to this kind of regime indefinitely. They will typically switch in between cycles to what is sometimes referred to as ‘intuitive eating’. That’s what you or I might just call ‘eating’.

At this point, an athlete is no longer counting every single calorie. Instead, they are guestimating and getting a ‘feel’ for how much they’ve eaten and whether they’re still in a deficit. The same goes for protein intake – rather than trying to religiously eat 1gram of protein for every 1lb of muscle, they instead aim to just eat ‘a lot’.

And let’s not forget: our bodies don’t care about splitting calories into days. If you eat more one day, it’s not the end of the world as long as you maintain a deficit the rest of the week.

So intuitive eating makes more sense for the average Joe who wants to be in better shape. The problem with that I that most of us like to have a little more structure than that. Otherwise it is much too easy to cheat.

I know I do, and that’s why I came up with ‘Strategic Intuitive Eating’.

Low Calories, Half the Day

To me, the biggest challenge when eating healthily is ‘social eating’. When my wife gets home, I want to enjoy a nice meal with her and indulge us both a little. Often, I will go out in the evenings to spend time with friends, which invariably involves chips and beer.

Meanwhile, breakfast and lunch are generally much more ‘functional’. Hannah and I eat breakfast quickly and quietly while half asleep and lunch tends to be whatever I can squeeze in around work.

So, my eating strategy is this: for breakfast and lunch I eat low calorie, low(ish) carb and high protein. I keep It pretty strict and stick to just the same few meals. That means I don’t have to precisely calculate my calorie intake. I counted everything once and that way, as long as I eat pretty much the same thing, I can accurately guess my calories-in within a hundred. No need to track, no need to do math.

Being consistent with your diet and picking the same foods is one of the easiest ways to simplify weight loss or muscle gain. As long as that diet is naturally varied and isn’t something you’ll get bored of, there’s really no downside.

What I eat during this time is designed to be low calorie (while cutting) and high protein (all the time). Ideally, you should be aiming for 1g of protein per 1lb of bodyweight if you want to maximize muscle gains – but I find that tough going and so I instead just aim to ‘eat lots of protein’. I find that as long as I’m getting around 100g, I’ll build plenty of muscle quickly enough. I also make sure I’m getting lots of nutrients and that I’ve removed anything that is too drastically unhealthy (very processed, very sugary etc.).

It’s strict and I know nearly the precise calories I’m eating. But there’s no counting involved and no starving myself.

Then, in the evenings, I can cut loose and eat pretty much whatever I want. As long as it’s under 1,300 calories, I know I won’t be piling on the pounds. And like I say – the occasional mishap doesn’t hurt either.

I’m still mindful nevertheless: I still make sure to eat plenty of nutrients (eating a nutrient dense diet is crucial to ensure you have the energy and health to stay disciplined, to keep your metabolism up and to build muscle), I avoid any serious processed foods that don’t offer anything beneficial (most of the time!) and I make sure I’m getting lots of protein. I also help my diet out with some extra supplementation. And unless I’m bulking, I’m careful not to load up my plate too much.

So, I’m ‘fairly strict’ from 5am-6pm. Then, when my wife gets home, I am ‘relaxed but mindful’. It’s an easy system to stick to, it’s pleasant and it has helped me to feel energetic, maintain visible abs and perform well in the gym: all without going completely mad counting every last calorie.

My Complete Eating Plan

The following then is precisely what I eat from 5am-6pm before cutting loose in the evenings (while still being a bit mindful). Of course, there’s more protein in the diet than this: the bread, the banana etc. all contain extra protein. Likewise, there are probably a few extra calories from things like milk in my tea. Like I say, this is a general guide – not a precise science.

At weekends, I continue to do something similar but will be a little bit (even more) relaxed about it. I’ll often move my ‘go nuts’ meal to lunchtime and eat less during the evenings instead.

My Eating Plan (Cutting)

Breakfast
Cereal + Milk: 250kcal
Blueberries: 85kcal

Snack
Whey Protein: 250kcal, 25g Protein

Lunch
3 x Eggs: 200kcal, 39g Protein
OR Tuna Sandwich (1 slice bread): 300kcal, 25g Protein
Apple Juice: 40kcal

Dinner
Whatever I like ~1,000kcal, ~30g Protein
Whey Protein: 250kcal, 25g Protein

Totals
Total kcal up to dinner: ~825-925kcal
Total protein up to dinner: ~50-65g
Total kcal all day (rough): ~2050kcal
Total protein all day (rough): ~115g

My Eating Plan (Bulking)
Breakfast
Cereal + Milk: 250kcal
Blueberries: 85kcal

Snack
Whey Protein: 250kcal, 25g Protein
Banana: 89kcal

Lunch
3 x Eggs: 200kcal, 39g Protein
Tuna Sandwich (1 slice bread): 300kcal, 25g Protein
Apple Juice: 40kcal
Dark Chocolate: 58kcal

Dinner
Whatever I like ~1,300kcal, ~40g Protein
Whey Protein: 250kcal, 25g Protein

Totals
Total kcal up to dinner: ~825-925kcal
Total protein up to dinner: ~90-105g
Total kcal all day (rough): ~2350kcal
Total protein all day (rough): ~155g

Supplements

Every day, I consume:

  • Omega 3 fatty acid
  • Lecithin
  • Choline Inositol
  • Creatine
  • BCAAs
  • Multivitamin + Minerals (Extra Vitamin D and C)

I’ve been doing the choline + lecithin option ever since trying Bruce Lee’s diet. I’m pretty sure it’s helped my abs develop a fair deal. Omega 3 fatty acid is a rare case of a health panacea that is the real deal.

Other times, I also supplement with lutein, magnesium threonate, amino acids and cordyceps sinensis.

Conclusion

So, there you have it: my complete diet, exactly as I eat it. You can try the same diet yourself, or you can try creating your own ‘strategic intuitive’ plan. Find the things you love to eat during the day, count the calories and the protein, tweak it a little and then commit to eating roughly that. The rest of the time, you can relax while being a little mindful.

Even if you go with a completely different diet, I hope this has illustrated that you don’t have to be completely obsessed with what you eat or completely relaxed. There is a happy middle-ground, and I often find that’s the best way.

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About Adam Sinicki

Hi there! My name is Adam Sinicki, I'm an entrepreneur, psychology graduate and amateur bodybuilder interested in fitness, self improvement, technology and transhumanism. I run an online business (NQR Productions) which allows me to live the lifestyle I want: getting time to hit the gym and to work on my projects and apps. Stick around and I'll be sharing my experiments and adventures in brain training, bodybuilding, productivity, business and technology.