Making the Cut

“When I was a lad I ate four dozen eggs every morning to help me get large.”

You’ve done it! You have completed linear progression. Along the way, you gained twenty-five pounds, put 100 pounds on your squat and deadlift, and busted through a few pairs of jeans. You have also acquired a bit of belly fat you don’t care to keep around anymore. So what to do?

For starters, you need to clearly identify your next set of goals and how you are going to get there. Performance goals take priority. So you might decide that you’re going to add 30 pounds to your squat over the next four months. Or that you want to win your class at the next strongman competition. Or that you want to go 5 for 6 and total 245kg at your next weightlifting meet. Then, of course, you plot out how you’re going to get there.

Next comes the body composition goals. As much as I like to eat and talk about eating, you are going to feel better and be healthier at a reasonable body fat level. Being healthy and not having moobs is a good goal. Looking like The Situation after doing Fran is not.

There are now a googol diets out there. Zone. Paleo. Warrior. Velocity Diet. Ketogenic diet. Lean Gains. Lyle Macdonald’s various iterations. The No S Diet. And there are a host of fitness/nutrition gurus and TV shows to go with it. The Biggest Loser. Honey I’m Killing the Kids (or whatever), Andro Friday Hall of Famer Jillian Michaels, Sears, Cordain, Eades, Dr. Phil, the sweet clean Sarah Dussault from DietHealth (every one has their guilty pleasure youtube subscriptions), and that villainous pseudo-scientist, the evil Robb Wolf.

So where do we go? Who do we believe? The answer is Grandma.

Grandma didn’t prepare healthy meals as a goal. She prepared healthy meals because all she had was real food and real ingredients. That’s your first directive: EAT REAL FOOD. If you’re over 215 pounds and actively training for a strength sport (or otherwise large volume) you might have to supplement whey. Otherwise, keep it real.
Lesson: eat real food.

Grandma also made you mind your portions. It wasn’t because she was worried about you getting fat. It was because food was expensive and resources were scarce. Most of you guys are younger than I am, but my grandparents lived through the Great Depression. And Depression Era folk don’t waste a damn thing. That went for food, too. Sometimes we got seconds, but it was usually just to finish off what was left.
LESSON: Control your portions.
LESSON: real food doesn’t keep for long in the refrigerator!

Grandma made meals, not a la carte items. She never just made a roast and left it at that. There were always greens, a salad, fruit, and assorted veggies. You didn’t eat meat without equivalent portions of veggies. This takes care of all that macronutrient ratio and hormone balancing crap you read about now. It just makes good sense.
LESSON: eat meats, veggies, fruits, and fats together.

Finally, after supper, the kitchen was closed. You didn’t eat again until morning. Why? Because Grandma was an early riser, which meant she got to bed early, too (are you getting this?). Once supper is done, unless you’re doing a forced bulk (purposely consuming calories to keep insulin high into the night), shut it down after six or seven.
LESSON: No eating or snacking after supper.
BONUS LESSON: Going to bed and getting extra rest helps improve body composition.

Grandma did other things too, like clean whole turkeys and fowl. She didn’t buy fish sticks; she filleted catfish. She made three meals a day and didn’t mess around with snacks. She served water or tea—mostly water—and she’d occasionally squeeze some fresh fruit. She didn’t worry about the cholesterol in eggs or the fat content in butter.

For those who are upset at the lack of strict guidelines here, I’ll put it like this: eat 1g of protein per pound of bodyweight, more if you’re training heavy at least three times a week. Do this with lean meat as much as possible. Eat enough carbs to fuel activity (weightlifters don’t need as much as cyclists). Colored veggies are particularly good for this. If you need dense carbs, look to tubers. Don’t go nuts on your starch and do NOT avoid fruit like some would have you do. Eat enough good fats to fuel recovery. If you can, get your fats from nuts, avocados, and healthy oils, not so much from milkfat and animal fat.

If you’re over 20% bodyfat, don’t worry about macronutrient ratios. Just quit eating so much crap. Once you creep down to the mid-teens, you can start removing the bloaters like refined sugars, starches, artificial sweeteners, grains, and dairy. If you want to get down in the 11-12% range (you can’t go too far under this without a dip in performance), you’ll have to remove almost all of the things I just listed, as it becomes a hormone control issue at this point. If you want to get under 10%, do some meth, buy yourself some skinny jeans, and get your emo self off of this site.

Don’t think of this as a diet or even the hackneyed “lifestyle change.” It’s just the way you’re going to eat. People complain that “when I come off this plan, I’ll just gain the weight back.” Well yeah, dumbass, that’s why you were fat in the first place. You have to get it under control by removing the emotional and social connections you have with food.

Don’t trick this up, folks. This is more birthday party than physics class. When you’re bogged down in the diet minutiae, remember Grandma. She just made real meals—damn good meals—with real ingredients, for real people, who did real work. And that, my friends, is the key to achieving good body composition and good health.

This post is dedicated to my maternal grandmother, a saint of a woman who lived to the ripe age of 94. She prepared many a fine meal of biscuits and gravy, chicken and dumplins’, turkey and green beans, and butter-fried T-bones. Heaven’s kitchen smells a little better now that she’s cooking in it.

37 thoughts on “Making the Cut

  1. Sorry to read about your grandmother Gant. I’m very close to my “grammie” and dread the day.

    Another thing to point out about losing weight is that its 90-10. Eat right 90% of the time and the other 10% really does not matter as long as your not out of control. A burger Friday night isn’t undoing the past 6 days of eating clean.

  2. “Andro Friday Hall of Famer Jillian Michaels”

    This made me laugh really hard.

    One Question, Gant: When you say to avoid getting the majority of your fat from milk and animal sources, do you mean from cornfed, industrially raised animals, rather grassfed or pastured? I only ask because just about everything else I’ve read suggests that meat, milk, and eggs from grassfed or pastured animals is as healthful as it gets.

    Maybe he meant the caloric content. We’ll see.


  3. “.. But now that I’m grown I eat FIVE dozen eggs and I’m roughly the size of a barge!!!”

    Great post Grant. Thanks for keeping it Disney. :)

  4. Good post. Go Gaston.

    Totally unrelated question: for flying in to the WFAC SSS next month, should I just go to DFW and then drive?

    If you can get a plane into WF then get it. It will save you a two hour drive. Don’t be surprised if your flight into WF is canceled 957 times though. I got to DFW at Noon and had to wait for the next flight at like 9. Just a heads up if you are planning ahead.


    Rip will tell you to drive up from DFW because of the cancellations at WF. I would rather fly. AC flew a few times. I can’t remember how many times it was canceled. Maybe once or twice out of four trips?

  5. Amen, brother. Keep it simple.

    I would have loved to have tried your granny’s home cookin’. Those meals you listed that she cooked made my mouth water just thinking about them. I miss my grandma’s cinnamon apple pork chops and green beans right now.

  6. Hell yeah – and Gant flips the birthday-party to physics knowledge on things at the end. Good new take on old grandma wisdom.

    That picture makes me hungry as hell, looks like a farmhouse paradise. Surround that with some st-pauli girl-lookin females who squat, few steins of beer, feats of strength going on in the background, and you’ve got a 70s big party.

  7. Regarding the milk fat comment; would you suggest getting off the whole milk and cutting down to 1 or 2%.

    You could do that if you want to keep the milk. But whole milk is roughly 3.25% milkfat, so it’s not that much different than 2% content-wise.

    Milk is great for growing because it’s a convenient source of calories. There are better sources of protein, carbohydrates, and fat than are contained in milk. And that’s what some start thinking about as they transition from a bulking stage.


  8. first of all i think that most people should gain more than 25 pounds and get more than 100 pounds on their squat on starting strength.

    second, you’re saying that you should worry about what you’re eating yet you’re saying to not get as much fat from milk and meat. it doesn’t make any sense, if anything most of your fat intake should come from meat.

    and i don’t even wanna hear about the don’t eat after 6 or 7.

    maybe i’m kinda biased towards eating lots because i’m still on starting strength, but c’mon…

    Maybe you are biased because you are 17 years old with less than two years of training under your belt. I deadlifted 495 before you were born and have competed in weight class sports for even longer. It’s possible that I have some perspective on this.


  9. what if you weighed 225 and looked like the situation, is that still considered bad?

    I’m embarrassed that I know who The Situation is but proud that I couldn’t identify him out of a lineup. If 225 is the number, I’d go the Marion Barber route first.


  10. This came at a really good time. I’ve made decent gains on my squat and DL by eating a bit more but it seems like the heavier I go, the more I need to eat. Problem is I got thicker in the process. For guys this is ok but girls, not so much. I do fasted workouts in the morning and the day before squat and DL days, I eat about 2300-2500 calories. I’m 5’6. I’ve tried lifting with 2000 calories and wasn’t successful. So any tips on how I can lose fat/inches w/o sacrificing my stregnth gains?

    It’s a delicate balancing act. You can play with carb or protein cycling. Don’t do strength workouts in a fasted state. Get some protein PRE and protein and carbs POST. Email me with specifics if you need a better answer.


    I don’t have experience with having people fast or fasting for myself (Gant has done it), but I don’t like it for a lifter. I’m gonna post another story about a girl who lifted and lost bodyfat, and got a nice body from it soon. Search “Glennis” on this site for an old post.


  11. @ SMC

    As long as you don’t wear bad graphic tees and aren’t brain dead.

    Love this post: eat clean, eat no-processed shit. Keep it simple. And I miss my Grandma’s pork tenderloin.

  12. Ok I get the eat clean stuff and do a fairly good job throughout the day, but breakfast is my worst meal. Does
    anyone have suggestions for a healthy yet fast breakfast?

  13. Stonewall, you don’t have to eat “breakfast foods” for breakfast. Today I had some leftover pulled pork with a salsa/BBQ sauce mix, some fresh strawberries, and some water.

  14. Oats, whey, and coffee blended together is my breakfast.

    I”ve been eating relatively healthy the past month or so and have seen good results. Though I still drink about half-gallon of milk a day, cause it makes an easy meal while at work.

  15. Jake, OKC is the same distance and a much better commute. They don’t have as many flights though. I haven’t flown into or out of WF in a year. It’s certainly closer, but it’s a PITA with cancelations and delays.

  16. I feel dumb. I can’t find Gant’s email address on this site.

    Don’t know if he wants it up. E-mail me and I’ll give to you.


  17. Stonewall,
    My super fast breakfast that I’ve been eating for a while: 6 raw eggs, 4 pieces of bacon cooked in the microwave, and if still doing milk, a large glass to go and some fruit. I guess youre taking a chance with the raw eggs but I haven’t had any problems yet. It’s fast too. I recommend breaking the yolks up a little before drinking it though. It’s a little rough swallowing that yoke whole.

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  19. This is spot on advice. I spent my summers from 12-18 on my Grandparent’s farm and resort in Minnesota from May-August. It was eggs, bacon, toast and whole milk for breakfast, leftover meat and sandwiches for lunch and meat and fresh vegetables from the huge garden for dinner and homemade fruit pies for desert with more whole milk. I was outside 12 hrs a day doing physical labor and played hard in the lake. I always returned taller and thicker for school and my pasty friends always wondered what in world I’d been doing to change that much.

    I was depressed for weeks when I’d have to return for school. My diet returned to more processed foods and I spent very little time outdoors.

    Yep, the Grandma diet can’t be beat. I’ve tried following zone, adkins and paleo diets but I can’t stand fussing that much over portions, mixes, etc. Just eat healthy and sensibly.

    I’m 14 weeks into my linear progression with a couple of weeks break in there and I’ve gained the 25 lbs body weight but my squat has only increased about 75 lbs 5×3 to date. Bench, press and dead lift are all progressing nicely.

  20. This is fuckin’ bullshit. I didn’t get a homecooked meal at my Grandma’s; I’d get fucking egg salad sandwiches – not that they weren’t good, but damn, I want a butterfried steak or biscuits and gravy

  21. “Grandma did other things too, like clean whole turkeys and fowl.”

    Word. Last night I bought a whole chicken for $4.32. Washed, dried and roasted with a couple veggies. It took one hour and produced a ton of good healthy food. This shit doesn’t have to be difficult or expensive.

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