Traditionally, when a bodybuilder wanted to increase muscle size, they maximized food intake.
This approach to nutrition increased the risk of the bodybuilder losing shape and definition, as a ‘smoothing’ effect occurs due to increased body fat and water retention.
This led Vince Gironda to develop the ‘All Protein Muscle Building Diet’, which enabled bodybuilders to increase their muscle mass, with little to no increases in bodyweight.
In Vince’s own words: –
“When I am approached in my gym by anyone who asks about gaining weight, I usually ask this question: “Do you want increased body weight—-or is it size that you are after?”
Invariably, the answer is “SIZE!”
So, let’s not confuse body weight with muscle growth. (How much do you think an extra inch on your arm will affect the scale?)
This diet is designed to step up muscle tissue growth—not put on body weight.
Remember, muscle size is desirable—not body weight—which will only smooth out your definition and increase the size of your hips and waist, and cause a loss of symmetry.”
In order to build more size with no changes on the scales, the bodybuilder must eat a diet primarily consisting of foods rich in protein and fat.
Vince also recommended a number of supplements to help supply the body with more amino acids for muscle growth, aid digestion, and plug any nutritional gaps left from avoiding carbohydrate-dense food groups.
Vince’s Bulking Diet – When To Use
The All Protein Muscle Building Diet was designed to accompany Vince Gironda’s Six Week Bulking Course, in order to amplify the gains created from the program.
The program was designed to immediately precede a ‘maximum definition’ phase, which would typically run immediately before a bodybuilding contest.
Therefore, assuming the bodybuilder requires 12 weeks to achieve ‘contest condition’, the All Protein Muscle Building Diet may form the initial 50% of the competition prep.
For many bodybuilders, the All Protein Muscle Building Diet may be the first nutrition plan they follow immediately after the maintenance diet, during which time they have been building muscle, but at a slower rate.
A change to a more focused and intense muscle hypertrophy plan should result in maximal growth in minimal time.
All Protein Diet Breakdown
The name ‘All Protein’ is actually a misnomer, since the diet also includes a relatively high fat content.
As Vince pointed out, if you wish to have maximum protein absorption, you must include fat with each protein feeding.
Whilst he never mentioned it at the time, another danger of consuming a diet consisting of 100% protein is that it can lead to protein toxicity, which arises as a result of protein waste products from protein metabolism building up in the body.
Therefore, whilst protein forms the foundation of the nutrition plan, the primary foods eaten should ideally contain both protein and fat.
Carbohydrates are kept low on this nutrition plan, since their contribution to muscle growth is minimal.
The bodybuilder will consume 3 meals a day (breakfast, lunch, and dinner), and supplement with amino acids and beef liver tablets in between meals.
Vince ranked proteins as follows:
- Milk proteins
- Meat, fish, and poultry
You’ll notice these are all animal sources, which are considered the best sources of protein for bodybuilders since they include all 9 essential amino acids i.e. proteins that cannot be synthesized in the body and can only be obtained from food.
The amino acids from these sources are more easily converted into muscle, since they resemble the structure for human muscle tissue.
It’s crucial that bodybuilders following the All Protein Muscle Building Diet maintain a high protein intake in order to maintain positive nitrogen balance, so their body remains in an anabolic state.
Insufficient protein intake will not ‘trigger’ the anabolic switch, and thus will result in minimal gains in muscle size.
If possible, it’s best to avoid ‘lean’ protein sources due to their low fat content, which can hinder protein absorption, and potentially increase the risk of life-threatening protein toxicity.
If a bodybuilder must consume lean proteins, it would be wise to ensure that fat is included elsewhere in the meal.
The main role of fat within the All Protein Muscle Building Diet is to act as a hormone precursor.
Animal fat (saturated fat), from beef, eggs, and milk, forms the building block of testosterone.
With no animal fat in the diet, the bodybuilder will struggle to produce testosterone, and will fail on their quest to induce maximal muscular hypertrophy.
Whilst a number of people will be quick to point out the dangers of eating a high-fat diet, Vince dismissed them all, stating that cutting out animal fat for the sake of health is not necessary.
Firstly, there is an inverse relationship between cholesterol consumption i.e. the more cholesterol you eat, the less the body produces.
Secondly, cholesterol is a poor marker of cardiovascular health.
A much better sign of poor cardiovascular health is elevated triglyceride levels, which predominantly occurs as a result of a high sugar consumption.
It’s true that saturated fats can be damaging to the body, but this tends to only be the case when they are found in processed foods and combined with high quantities of sugar.
A low carbohydrate diet, high in animal fat has never been shown to increase the risk of cardiovascular disease.
In fact, various tribes around the world eat massive quantities of animal fat, and not only do they not suffer from heart disease, but they also sport fit and athletic physiques.
Another advantage of eating fat as an energy source is that it’s ‘slow-burning’, meaning it can sustain the body’s energy levels for long periods of time (up to 6 hours), thus making it perfect fuel choice at breakfast.
Vince Gironda was of the belief that carbohydrates played no role in building muscle, only fat.
Furthermore, he didn’t believe that protein and carbs were compatible nutrients, since they both digested in different mediums (protein = acid, carbs = alkaline) and consuming them together would result in the incomplete digestion of both since the body can’t simultaneously produce both an acid and alkaline environment.
Outside of a small quantity of vegetables and fruit at dinner, there are no other carbs included as part of the daily meal plan.
However, it’s recommended that the bodybuilder consumes a high-carb meal once every 72 hours in order to retain strength and ‘pump’ in training.
Muscle Building Foods
It’s worth noting that Vince recommended several specific foods within the All Protein Muscle Building Diet that were packed with hypertrophy-inducing nutrients and would help to maximize a bodybuilder’s results.
Red meat has always been the strongman’s favorite meal.
In addition to the high protein content, it contains large quantities of phosphorus, which can energize the bodybuilder and fuel their training by helping them to feel strong.
Finally, Vince advocated red meat as the most superior food choice for building red blood cells, which plays a vital role in building muscle due to nutrient transportation and waste product elimination.
The most biologically available protein of all natural foods, containing all the amino acids necessary for the synthesis of new muscle tissue.
In addition, the fat found in egg yolks act as a ‘hormone precursor’, which can act as a building block for testosterone.
Second only to eggs in terms of usable protein, milk proteins provide a complete range of amino acids.
Cow’s milk is a rich source of lysine, an amino acid that plays an integral role in growth and muscle development.
Finally, cow’s milk also contains anterior pituitary hormone, which can help ensure the bodybuilder produces optimal levels of growth hormone.
What about chicken and fish?
Despite being bodybuilding staples, Vince was not a huge fan of chicken and fish for reaching a high protein intake.
Vince recommended that, if the bodybuilder was to eat chicken, they must ensure that it was organic.
Unfortunately, non-organic chicken meant it was likely the chicken had been raised in very poor conditions, which would result in low-quality protein that could weaken the bodybuilder.
Regarding fish, Vince recommended bodybuilders consume freshwater fish only.
Due to the sea being heavily polluted, wild fish would be loaded in toxins and contaminants, including mercury, which could compromise the bodybuilder’s strength and health.
Here’s an example of a typical day on the All Protein Muscle Building Diet:
- Steak, chops, ground meat and eggs
- Raw fertile eggs in three ounces of “Half & Half cream
- Feel free to alternate between a meat and egg-based breakfast
- You can use up to a dozen eggs a day
- Beat eggs with a fork – do NOT use a blender (blenders emulsify the fat in milk to a suspension too small for digestion)
- One can of water-packed tuna and cottage cheese
- Use full-fat cottage cheese
- Raw vegetable salad and steak
- Plain gelatin with fruit for dessert
- This will be the only time carbs are permitted during the day
High-Carb Meal (once every 72 hours)
- Spaghetti dinner with tomato sauce only
High-carb meal notes
- This must be a zero-protein meal to allow for optimal carbohydrate digestion
The serving sizes at each meal will depend on the individual.
As a general rule of thumb, bigger and heavier bodybuilders carrying more muscle will have a greater protein requirement, and therefore require larger serving sizes.
However, Vince didn’t believe that it was necessary for bodybuilders to force feed themselves guaratuan quantities of protein, and that doing so could potentially lead to a negative nitrogen balance i.e. muscle loss.
According to Vince, most bodybuilders would benefit from approximately 200g of protein a day (which equates to approximately 1kg/2.2lbs of meat a day), with bigger and heavier bodybuilders possibly requiring more.
It’s important that the bodybuilder takes a regular assessment of their nutrition and physique in order to ascertain whether or not they are achieving the desired result.
If they are not building muscle, or doing so but slowly, then they should increase their food serving sizes at each meal time until their muscle growth tops out.
However, if they are eating large serving sizes but losing muscle size, then they should consider reducing protein intake.
Why the lack of fruits and vegetables?
One thing you will notice immediately with the All Protein Muscle diet is the distinct lack of fruits and vegetables, other than at dinner time.
Whilst fruits and vegetables are high in beneficial nutrients, it is entirely possible to thrive on a diet without them.
This has been demonstrated amongst the Inuits, Masai tribes, and Rocky Mountain Men, who ate a diet consisting purely of animal products, such as meat, organs, and milk, yet sport healthy and disease-free bodies.
Provided that animals themselves eat highly nutritious diets, their meat and organs will be a rich source of nutrients, which eliminates the need to depend on fruits and vegetables.
The other thing to consider is that the All Protein Muscle Building Diet is only meant to be followed for a maximum of 6 weeks i.e. it’s a short-term nutrition plan designed to maximize muscle mass and shape and NOT a long-term muscle building solution.
Therefore, if you are genuinely concerned about the low intake of fruits and vegetables, rest assured that it’s not forever.
You could also supplement your diet with ‘Ultra Greens’ powder to satisfy any nutrient requirements you fear you may be missing out on.
This diet should always follow a maintenance/vegetarian diet etc. which ensures you begin with optimal levels of all nutrients, and there’s zero risk of any deficiency in your body.
The supplements you take will help to fill any nutrient gaps omitted from the exclusion of fruits and vegetables.
As a minimum requirement, Vince recommended taking the following supplements every 3 hours to support muscle growth: –
Amino acids only stay in the bloodstream for a maximum of 3 hours, therefore this combination helps them maintain a positive nitrogen balance i.e. an anabolic state where the body is building muscle.
Make sure the liver tables have been ‘defatted’ for optimal digestion in the body.
In addition, the bodybuilder can support muscle growth further with the following formula to be taken one hour before and after a workout: –
- Arginine, ornithine, and Lysine
These 3 nutrients help benefit the bodybuilder as follows: –
L-Arginine is specifically used to build muscle mass and boost Nitric Oxide levels for a better muscle ‘pump’ and blood flow.
L-Ornithine may be used to help athletic performance and improve strength, speed, and power.
L-Lysine is an essential amino acid that plays an important role in building muscle and can also help stimulate growth hormone synthesis.
These 3 nutrients can be found in ‘Ultra Hormone Optimizer’ from NSP Nutrition
Other supplements to support health and muscle growth include: –
- Chelated mineral
- Digestive enzymes
The multivitamin and chelated mineral supplement ensure the bodybuilder doesn’t risk creating any nutritional deficiencies whilst on the diet.
Hydrochloric Acid and Digestive Enzymes provide digestive support to cope with the high quantity of protein and fat they will be consuming. They are especially important if you feel bloated after meal times.
Tryptophan is an amino acid that is used by the body to create serotonin and melatonin, which help to promote sleep.
Taking tryptophan before retiring was recommended to help improve sleep quality, which would have a beneficial effect on growth hormone and testosterone levels, recovery, and muscle growth.
Could a vegetarian follow the All Protein Muscle Building Diet?
It would not be impossible for a vegetarian to follow the All Protein Muscle Building Diet, yet it would never produce optimal results.
Whilst a vegetarian could still consume plenty of protein from milk and eggs, they would miss out on the plethora of nutrients from beef and liver.
Additionally, if they were to consume large quantities of protein from vegetarian sources, such as nuts and legumes, then they would increase their carbohydrate intake substantially, thus reducing the desired effect of maximum muscle, with minimum fat gain.
Although protein is the most important nutrient of this diet, the magic of this diet is more than simply maximizing protein intake – other nutrients also play crucial roles and should not be overlooked.
It should also go without saying that this diet would be impossible for a bodybuilder practising veganism due to the severe nutritional restrictions.
The All Protein Muscle Building Diet is the perfect diet for bodybuilders who wish to build maximum muscle size without adding bodyweight, in order to retain their shape.
In order to achieve this effect, there must be little to no increase in body fat.
Therefore, this diet excludes carbohydrates, which are readily converted into body fat, and focuses primarily on maximizing protein and fat intake at each meal time, primarily from beef and eggs.
One carbohydrate meal is permitted every 72 hours in order to maintain energy levels so the bodybuilding can continue training at a high intensity and maximize their pump.
A number of supplements are recommended with this diet, most important are amino acids and beef liver tablets in order to maintain anabolism.
Additionally, other supplements are included to prevent the risk of any nutrient deficiencies, and to assist digestion.
This diet should be followed for a maximum of 6 weeks, whilst following Vince Grionda’s ‘6-Week Bulking Course’, following which it’s recommended to transition to the ‘Maximum Definition’ diet.