When people hear the name Vince Gironda, the words Iron Guru and Larry Scott come to mind, as well as Vince’s Gym and Sissy Squats. When it comes to Vince’s Diets, people instantly think of the Steak and Eggs Diet, or the 36 eggs a day diet and Desiccated Liver and to most people, that is their perception of the nutritional advice that would come from Vince Gironda. …..how wrong they are ! After creating several videos on my YouTube Channel, I came to the realisation that people did not truly understand the scope of nutritional advice that Vince truly had. I had people asking me if they had to follow the Steak and Eggs diet or the 36 eggs a day INDEFINITELY !!!! This could not be further from the truth !! It is my observation that Vince’s diets and nutritional principles for bodybuilding are very misunderstood.
Most people do not understand that Vince Gironda’s diets served a purpose and were supposed to be used for short periods of time only until the goal was reached, at which point, the diet needed to be changed.
This is the true brilliance of Vince’s diets, and this extensive blog will be dedicated firstly clearing up the many misconceptions regarding Vince Gironda’s diets and in explaining the many diets and nutritional principles that Vince Gironda advocated to help you achieve your ultimate physique.
Vince on Bodybuilding Diets
In order to understand Vince Gironda’s diets, one first needs to understand the bodybuilding principles that Vince Gironda advocated and held fast too. Understanding Vince’s mentality can help us unravel the way he prescribed his diets. First and foremost, Vince Gironda had the firm belief that «Bodybuilding is 85% Nutrition». If there were Ten Commandments to Vince’s Bodybuilding Principles, then this has to be on top of the list, Number One!! Vince believed in this one principle so much because between the 1940s and 1960s while he was still competing, he realised the importance of nutrition by experimenting novel ideas on bodybuilding nutrition on himself. For example, Vince Gironda was able to achieve the most ripped and muscular physiques during the 1962 Mr Universe due to the diets he had experimented and used to get into shape for the competition. In fact he was able to get so ripped that he lost the competition to a much smoother Brittish competitor named Len Sell, pictured below. Therefore through these experiences, Vince Gironda realised the importance of nutrition to the bodybuilder and the effect diet could have on ones physique.
Why Vince Gironda had many Diets
Vince Gironda created many diets, more so than just the Steak and Eggs Diet and the 36 Eggs a Day Diet. Vince Gironda created many diets based on his own experimentation, and would only recommend the diets he had already experimented and tried on himself and on his bodybuilding clients. The diets that Vince published in his many books and magazine articles were therefore aimed at the Natural hardcore bodybuilder with the goal of achieving Positive Nitrogen Balance without the use or need for anabolic steroids. Vince Gironda’s diets were subsequently and successfully used by countless golden era bodybuilding champions such as Mr Olympia champions Larry Scott and Arnold Schwarzenegger, as well as Mr America Champion Don Howorth.
As mentioned before, Vince Gironda’s diets were goal-oriented. Just as we are all individuals with our own unique metabolic make up, one should experiment with different diets, and will therefore also require different diets to serve different purposes. For example, in the case of a new client, Vince would recommend a diet to the novice bodybuilder, and the student would initially adhere to the diet, and later the diet would be tweaked or changed all together, as needed, depending on the persons individual metabolism, lifestyle etc. This of course makes perfect sense, because just like a training program, if one was to adhere to the same diet forever, progress would eventually stall. Although this might be obvious to a few, for some reason many people still believe that Vince’s diets were meant to be adhered to or followed as maintenance diets indefinitely, however…
Most of Vince’s diets were not Maintenance Diets !!!
I reiterate again, Vince’s diets were goal-oriented and served a specific purpose and therefore act as tools to achieve weight loss or to bulk up, or to lose fat and add quality muscle.
Different Diets serve Different Needs !
Having addressed the individuality of the trainee, we now come to a very important point, and that is that Vince Gironda developed and created many different diets to accommodate the different needs of his clients. For example, Vince Gironda developed High Protein diets based on animal proteins such as meat for rapid muscular gains and at times Vince would also recommend his Lacto-Ovo vegetarian diets to help clients overcome nervous fatigue. Vince Gironda even at times, recommended going VEGAN to detoxify the body ! That’s right ! Believe it or not ! Reflecting on this short but varied list of diets that i have explained, it is important to now explain another important concept that Vince would advise his clients with, and that is to develop Innate Animal Wisdom.
When a Diet stops becoming effective
Another very important concept from Vince Gironda’s nutritional principles for the bodybuilder was that the trainee develop a sixth sense and recognise when a diet has stopped working. Vince Gironda called it Innate Animal Wisdom. In essence, what Vince was trying to install in the client was that once the client recognised that a diet was no longer working for them and it was no longer effective, this was a signal that the diet had served it’s purpose and it was time to change the diet ! Again, this makes perfect sense coming from the Iron Guru himself !
These circumstances were entirely dependent on the individuality of the trainee. For example, if the trainee was on a High-Protein animal protein diet for 3 months and was no longer seeing results, for example, muscular hypertrophy, then this was a signal that the trainee needed to change their diet, and therefore Vince may have recommended a detoxification with a Vegan diet. This would sensitize the body to protein again, and after a week or two of detoxification, the person would return to the same diet, or use a different but similar diet to stimulate hypertrophy again.
Vince’s choice of Food
In regards to the kind of food that Vince chose to include and incorporate into his diets, to quote Vince
Think Nutrition First !Vince Gironda
This meant firstly removing any junk food and processed food from one’s diets, and to instead chose fresh fruit and vegetables, while also replacing whole wheat and whole grain products over refined carbohydrates such as pasta and white bread. Vince recommended high quality sourced animal products for protein, and even incorporating raw milk, raw meat and raw eggs into one’s diet.
Vince Gironda’s Diets
To give you a better understanding of the different diets he developed for the different needs of his cleints, here is a list that I have put together based on Vince Gironda’s many publications over the years. It is by no means exhaustive, as Vince would essentially assess his clients goals and formulate diets accordingly.
- Maintenance Diet
- Hormone Precursor Diet (36 Eggs a Day Diet)
- All Protein Muscle Building Diet
- Weight Gaining Diet
- Lacto-Ovo Vegetarian Diet
- Maximum Definition Diet
- 5 Day Fasting Diet
- Complete Vegan Diet
Vince’s Maintenance Diet
Out of all diets that Vince Gironda recommended, this is the one diet that Vince would actually recommend to stay on year round. It was ideally suited for bodybuilders who were looking at gaining muscle without having to worry too much about getting defined or obtaining a muscular look for any upcoming competitions, and therefore, was used by bodybuilders during the off season to maintain their bodyweight and still allow for gradual muscular hypertrophy.
Being a fairly balanced diet high in proteins, with moderate fats and carbs, this diet also allowed much more variety and flexibility, and also meant that trainees on this diet would satisfy most of their bodies needs without worrying too much about supplementation.
The inherent variety and flexibility also meant that one could stay on this diet for prolonged periods of time, as boredom from being on this diet was pretty much non-existent.
The Infamous 36 Eggs a Day Diet/Hormone Precursor Diet
Also called the Hormone Precursor Diet, this diet along with the Steak and Eggs Diet is what made Vince famous. There actually used to an ongoing joke in the 70s, with bodybuilders jokingly smuttering «Vince and Eggs»….not that Vince really cared! This diet, which I have talked about extensively on my YouTube channel, was recommended by Vince Gironda for rapid increases in muscular hypertrophy.
The diet is essentially an early form of ketogenic diet that was recommended by doctors back in the 1970s for severe burn patients who concluded that through the ingestion of 3 dozen eggs a day, the patient could sustain a positive nitrogen balance in the body, allowing for rapid repair of damaged tissue.
Vince of course theorized that therefore, if a bodybuilder was to use this diet, they could also sustain a positive nitrogen balance within their own bodies, and therefore under the stress of exercising, could stimulate rapid hypertrophy. Medical doctors approved of Vince’s theory, and the 36 Eggs a Day Diet was born !
The 36 Eggs a Day Diet is poorly misunderstood, and I have written a blog about this diet before, as well as explained it’s purpose and execution in several videos to clarify Vince’s recommendations. However, people still get it wrong. I have seen several videos of people simply swallowing 36 eggs from day 1, only to later report that they either regurgitated the 3 dozen eggs or had a rather runny session in the toilet…..no surprise. As they say….the devil is in the details !
Eggs, being high in protein and fat, would therefore contain the precursors to androgenic hormones necessary for stimulating muscle hypertrophy, hence it’s alternate name, the Hormone Precursor Diet. However, Vince did not recommend swallowing 36 eggs from day 1!! That is a recipe for disaster! Instead, Vince recommended that the trainee firstly begin to incorporate raw eggs in his diet through the consumption of a protein shake which contained raw eggs, and gradually increase the ingestion of eggs through this method.
The recipe for Vince’s Hormone Precursor Shake is given in his book The Wild Physique, available on this website. To be honest, it’s no secret, as I have also demonstrated the recipe and preparation in several videos on my YouTube channel. This shake was to be made with a dozen eggs at a time, and sipped throughout the day, and the consumption of this shake was to be increased slowly over time. Vince recommended staying on this diet for now longer than 6-8 weeks maximum. This diet was NOT to be continued indefinitely !!! This is another (horrible) misconception!! Again, this specific diet had a specific purpose, maximum rate of hypertrophy in a short period of time, as long periods of maximum muscular hypertrophy cannot be sustained naturally. From my several interviews and research and as a testament to this diet, I am now aware that golden era legends such as Don Howorth and Don Peters, both who trained at Vince’s Gym used the 36 eggs a Day Diet successfully. As an added benefit, the 36 Eggs a Day Diet was also supposed to stimulate lipogenesis, or fat loss, as are most ketogenic diets.
Vince’s All Protein Muscle Building Diet
Another high protein high fat diet that was recommended by Vince Gironda was his All Protein Muscle Building Diet, with the star of the show being animal proteins, namely red meat, and lots of it! Up to 1 kilogram or 2 pounds a day !! As Vince put it, the strongman choice of food has always being red meat. This diet also incorporated lots of cream or half and half in a different form of protein shake consisting of 2 eggs, Vince’s Milk and Egg Protein powder (available from NSP), and this protein shake was meant to be consumed for breakfast upon waking, and prior to retiring at night. Vince Gironda recommended this diet be used along with his 6 week bulk diet, which is also available through this website. Because of the high amounts of protein and fats, Vince recommended this diet be supplemented with Hydrochloric acid tablets and digestives such as enzyme tablets to improve the digestion of the high amounts of protein and fats, so that the nutrients may be assimilated for muscle building, hence the name of the diet, All Protein Muscle Building Diet. One again to reiterate, this diet, being a specific diet, was only to be followed for 6 weeks!! Not indefinitely!
Vince’s Weight Gaining Diet
Not to be confused with the All Protein Muscle Building Diet, Vince’s Weight Gaining Diet was a high protein and high carb diet…Yes! Vince recommended carbohydrate intake too!! What?? Carbohydrates? Yes, Carbohydrates. Reading the Wild Physique, as well as Vince’s other publications, Vince clearly recommends generous carbohydrate intake for novices who are thin and need to put on muscle and weight. Vince stated that carbohydrates are necessary for those trainees that are bulking up and need to gain wweight, so this statement alone should trash any misconception about Vince Gironda only recommending low carbohydrate diets !
The Lacto-Ovo Vegetarian Diet
Now here is a relatively unknown diet from the late and great Vince Gironda. It also reflects the vast nutritional knowledge he had, and the variety of diets he would recommend to his many different clients. The Lacto-Ovo Vegetarian Diet was a diet in which one would consume copious amounts of fresh fruit and vegetables, whole grains, sprouted seeds and grains and legumes, as well raw milk and eggs. Although this diet was likely prescribed to those clients with vegetarian tendencies and preferences, this diet was also both a cleansing diet and one that Vince recommended for obese and overweight people.
As Vince Gironda put it, if one was to eat eggs and drink raw milk in moderation, and instead, eat lots of «roughage», a term Vince would use to describe the fibrous indigestible material in vegetables, this would give a feeling of satisfaction and prevent food cravings and lead to rapid weight loss. This kind of diet was actually prescribed and followed by many overweight movie stars wishing to shed pounds of fat prior to filming for a movie, and Vince would have to perform a near miracle and transform these clients in the space of two weeks!
Vince’s Maximum Definition Diet
Otherwise known as the Steak and Eggs Diet, this diet is probably Vince Gironda’s most recognised diet of all. It’s also the same diet that Vince Gironda used to get shredded for the 1962 NABBA Mr Universe, where he actually lost points and lost the competition, because he was TOO SHREDDED! That’s right, Vince Gironda was so shredded that it cost him the competition and he ended up second place. The judges later told him that they did not really know how to place him because he looked completely out of place. They had never seen that level of definition on a competitive bodybuilder before. To be honest, Vince would have placed well 10 or 20 years later, because that was the level of definition that bodybuilders eventually became accustomed to attain during the 1970s and 1980s. Having said that, it is no understatement to say that Vince was WAY AHEAD OF HIS TIME in both the development of this infamous diet and in his execution of it. In fact, Vince followed the Steak and Eggs Diet for 9 months in order to achieve the level of definition that would later become the standard.
The Steak and Eggs Diet as the name suggests is simple to follow. Vince has written several times about this diet in his several publications. Initially he recommended that Steak and Eggs be eaten up to 3 times daily, ie for breakfast, lunch and dinner (Vince only ate twice a day for the 1962 NABBA Mr Universe contest). Most may simply think that this was another one of Vince’s early ketogenic diets, but it get’s even more interesting. Vince recommended that along with eating Steak and Eggs 3 times a day, one was allowed a carbohydrate rich meal onece very 4-5 days. Therefore what Vince actually came up with was the more recent trend of a Cyclic Ketogenic Diet! Genius! I have said it before, and I will say it again, Vince was a genius, and well ahead of his time!
Vince’s 5 Day Fasting Diet
Think fasting is only a recent fad? WRONG!! Vince of course recommended it, but by no means claims to have invented it. He was a student of bodybuilding and like most of us that are willing to learn, was always trying to improve on his nutritional knowledge for the benefits of his clients.
Vinces 5 Day Fasting Diet was used as an intestinal cleanse, especially after having followed a high protein diet for a prolonged period of time. Vince recommended such extreme cleansing diets for clients that had developed what he termed was a distaste for protein. A distaste for protein? Yes, because after being for example, on the 36 Eggs a Day Diet, many people cant see eggs anymore…this is when you know you have completely saturated your organic system with protein, and you have therefore developed a distaste, where the sight of an egg would make you gag! For clients such as these Vince would recommend the 5 Day Fasting Diet.
This diet consisted of taking water, fruit extracts and clear broth over the period of 5 days, which would sustain the body with important vitamins and minerals, and allow for toxins and accumulated metabolic waste products to be efficiently removed, detoxifying the system in preparation for a new phase of growth. Brilliant!
Vince’s Complete Vegan Diet
Similar to the 5 Day Fasting Diet, Vince’s Complete Vegan Diet was also a cleansing diet with a similar effect. The copious ingestion of roughage would allows the bowels to be cleansed, allowing for removal of waste products and thorough intestinal cleansing, allowing for maximum absorption of nutrients of subsequent high protein diets.
What was allowed on Vince’s Complete Vegan Diet? Lot’s of raw and steamed vegetables, fruits, legumes and whole grains. This diet was also to be followed for approximately 5 days. As Vince would say, after 5 days on this diet, you would develop a tast for protein again.
Vince was truly a master trainer and nutritionist as reflected by the various forementioned diets. It is clear that he developed these various diets for different needs, and this entirely depended on the client, their goals and circumstances.
The diets here only represent a few of the diets that Vince would recommend, as he would tweak these and other diets to suit the individuality of each trainee. Such was the brilliance of the Iron Guru!