Mix-and-Match Diet

Put together an individualized eating program

By: Steve Colescott
Magazine 13 #2

I don’t like green vegetables. she says, as though there is an endless array of other options that will have the same dietary effect.

Well you are going to get pretty sick of all the yellow, red, orange, and blue ones then, I reply, trying not to show my frustration.

Are there blue veggies?" she asks, missing my point.

Those of you who have helped someone put together an individualized eating program will recognize this common problem. The dieter may say some dietary staple does not meet their taste preference, is too hard to prepare on their schedule, or is restricted due to a food allergy. A level of flexibility and variety makes it easier to maintain consistency in your dieting program.

 Rachel getting veggie from crisper

For that reason, this article discusses how to include an almost endless number of food alternatives and will demonstrate how you can make some substitutions in the diet to meet your needs. First let’s determine the guidelines of your nutrition plan, then we will give some examples of foods and servings that may fit into your diet.

To begin we need to do the basic math involved in setting up your diet. The Beverly website has some articles on this, including EZ Dieting (bodybuildingworld.com/workshop/ez_diet.html). Or you can email bevnut@beverlyinternational.net with Nutrition Programs in the subject line and we will send you a listing of links to the best nutrition programs for examples of how those numbers might fit into a peak fat loss program.

Adapting some of the numbers from EZ Dieting to reflect an off-season muscle gain program (35% protein; 50% carbohydrate; 15% fat) for a 180-pound man, we start with 16 calories per pound of bodyweight for a daily caloric intake of 2,880 calories:

180 (pounds BWT) x 16 (estimated starting calorie range) = 2,880 kcal/day


We then plug in the macronutrient rations of 35/50/15 (or you can adapt these to match your current goals) to get the following daily breakdown:


Daily kCals

% of diet

Calories from



X .35




X .50




X .15


From here, we need to know how many calories of each macronutrient we need, so we must divide by four (for protein and carbs) and nine (for fats), because this is the caloric value of each gram of these macronutrients.

Rachel in Pantry Food

Again, the template above is an example. Adjust it as needed. If you train later in the day switch your post-workout shake (listed as Meal Two in the above example) with whatever meal would directly follow your workout. Make this your own so that it fits your lifestyle and goals. Below are some basic considerations for each of the specific meals.

Morning. We grill into the heads of young children about the importance of breakfast, but this meal is even more vital for bodybuilders. When we wake, our blood sugar levels are low and our amino acids levels are severely diminished. The goal here then is to provide both a quickly-absorbed source of aminos and a gradual sustained-release source of protein. A protein shake is a great way to cover these needs, with a mixture of Muscle Provider (a source of fast-absorbing whey protein) with Ultimate Muscle Protein or Ultra Size (slower releasing, mixed whey and casein proteins) being an excellent choice.

Because your blood sugar levels are at their lowest this is also a great time to take in some carbs, with a moderate-sized portion of oatmeal or breakfast grains being the common choice. Breakfast is a great time to get in essential nutrients so include your EFA Gold and Super-Pak multi-vitamins here. In addition to the numerous health and physique-promoting benefits of essential fatty acids, they will also slow the breakdown of your proteins and carbs.

Many lifters that are on a pre-contest or fat loss diet like to do their treadmill (or elliptical, bike or stepper) work first thing in the morning on an empty stomach under the theory that the low blood sugar/ high growth hormone environment will enhance fat-burning. While there is some evidence to support this strategy, we do not want to sacrifice muscle in order to lose a few ounces of fat. I suggest you take 3-5 Density tablets and 3-5 Energy Reserve tablets (depending on your bodyweight and the intensity and duration of your cardio work) before your cardio session. The essential amino acids will protect your lean muscle while the l-carnitine in Energy Reserve helps oxidize and transport fat. (Carnitine may also increase the amount of testosterone receptors in you muscle which can lead to added muscle gain.) If you intend to use this strategy, consider the aminos your pre-breakfast and eat breakfast as soon as you finish.

Pre-workout. For those who train in the morning, this meal and breakfast may be one and the same. Research shows that strength athletes have much better progress when including protein and carbs in their pre-training meal. While much has been written about taking advantage of the post-workout nutrient "window of opportunity," a small nutrient-rich pre-workout meal mitigates against excessive muscle damage and provides glycogen and aminos to give you a head start on the recuperative/rebuilding process. If you are using Creatine Select (excellent both for power training and dieting phases) this should be taken about a half-hour before your workout as it will provide you with the needed fuel for hard training. Pre workout is another time when you can take Density. The free form essential aminos acids will be immediately available to your muscles for repair and growth – as you are training!

During the workout.

If there is one area in which the greatest change has occurred in bodybuilding nutrition over the past decade it would be the concept of providing the body with nutrients during the workout. While I personally do not feel this is necessary for beginners, those that have a few years under their lifting belts are usually capable of generating enough intensity to their training that they notice a big benefit from sipping a large cold Glutamine Select drink during their workout. You should also begin by taking 5 Density tablets at the start of your workout and take 3-5 Muscle Mass BCAA every twenty minutes during your session to provide branch-chain amino acids for anti-catabolic benefits, as well as to kick-start recuperation and muscle growth. Again, this may not be necessary for beginner level lifters.

Post-workout. THIS is the most important time to get in nutrients, in particular a whopping dose of protein. Since your muscles should be severely depleted, we want to drink a Muscle Provider shake ASAP. To really maximize growth and recovery, add a scoop of Ultimate Muscle Protein to your Muscle Provider shake for a time released effect so that you continue building muscle and fighting catabolism.

Follow this shake with a whole food protein and carb meal thirty to sixty minutes after your shake (giving you time to shower and get dressed). For those watching their carbs, breakfast (pre-workout) and post-workout are the best times to take in the limited number of carbs you will be consuming.


That may seem like a huge amount of info to digest. Hopefully you sat down with a notepad and a calculator and worked out some of the numbers based on your personal game plan. The beauty of the Beverly publication is that each one contains multiple examples of people just like you that have used these principles to reach their physique goals. Subscribe to their newsletters and get online (Free Subscription) for tons of back issues that will both inspire you and give you the little tricks that can make the difference for you.

Now here’s a little self test to see if you paid attention as you read the article.

  1. Name 3 foods you can substitute in place of vegetables
  2. If unable to eat before training in the morning, what supplements should be used to enhance muscle repair, growth and fatloss?
  3. Using the principles outlined in EZ Dieting and the beginning of this article, how would you calculate a good caloric starting point for your diet?
  4. In an off season Muscle Gaining diet, athletes need about how many calories per pound of bodyweight?
  5. Which fruits contain more simple carbs and should be avoided in a fat loss diet? Bananas, pears, raisins, grapes, apricots
  6. Density contains free form essential amino acids making them immediately available to muscles for repair and growth.  Aside from first thing in the AM, when is another good time to take Density? 

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