Muscle Gain Mistake #4 To Avoid: Underfeeding

Aside from poorly designed workouts, not consuming enough calories (i.e underfeeding) is the number one dietary mistake I see skinny guys make who desire to gain muscle. I think it’s common knowledge that the only way to add a dramatic amount of muscle mass to your body is to consume sufficient calories and nutrients to support muscle growth. If you’re consuming enough calories and nutrients, your body will not be in an optimal muscle-building environment. In fact, if you fail to consume enough calories, you might get skinnier and smaller by losing muscle, despite your heroic weight training workouts.

Hang on now, I know what you’re thinking:

“But I eat so much — at least 5,000 calories a day — and I still don’t grow!”

Sure you do!

Why am I being sarcastic? Because if it was enough then the tale of the scale would prove otherwise! Your false perception of eating so much is inaccurate.  Just like overweight individuals tend to underestimate how much they consume, skinny guys tend to overestimate how much they are actually consuming over the course of a given day and week. In short, your problem is underfeeding. 

The Reality of an Underfeeder… 

Take a moment and think about how good your nutrition was this past month, I don’t care how good it was this past 7 days.  Lets examine your nutrition intake with a satellite lenses for a moment, not a zoom lenses. Did you follow your meal plan 30% of the time? 60% of the time? 90% of the time? It’s amazing how skinny guys will fool themselves into thinking they are “eating so much food” because of that crazy high-calorie buffet last Sunday but easily forget they ate nothing else for the rest of the day because they were so full.   Sure, you’re great at putting back a few huge-ass meals through the course of the week but what is happening the rest of the time?  

Gaining Muscle Is An Outcome-Based Pursuit 

This is a key lesson you must grasp. It means that you must alter your current setting (i.e increase your calories), measure the outcome of the alternation, and use the outcome to determine if changes are necessary. Just following a “5,000 calorie meal plan” is what dummies do. Following a program beyond it’s effectiveness is also dumb too. I suggest a different approach.

Are you eating more than you ever have in your entire life and still not growing? Eat more! Think you’re eating more than you need but still not growing? Eat even more, again!

Let’s say you want to learn a new language and the language course you bought said you only need to practice one hour a day. However, you are not grasping the language. Would you continue to only practice one hour a day because the course said so? Heck no, you would practice 2 hours a day or maybe even 3 hours a day. You wouldn’t stop practising until you learn that darn language!

Use this same practice in your nutrition. Becoming self aware of the reality of the situation is half the battle. If you’re in fact consuming 3,500 calories a day and not growing then it’s time to go to 3,750 and if that doesn’t work 4,000 calories. Your success is directly related to knowing exactly how much you need to grow.

In my book, No Nonsense Muscle Building, I provide a calorie calculator that dictates exactly how many calories you should be consuming based on your level of leanness and activity level. It’s a great starting point and then you can make alternations based on what happens.

Use the K.I.S.S. Principle 

Keep It Simple Skinny!  

It boggles my mind at how complicated skinny guys make gaining weight. If you’re less than 10% bodyfat than you have zero business inquiring about these dietary strategies to build muscle:

  • Lower calorie days on non-training days
  • Higher calorie days on training days
  • Carb cycling
  • Intermittent fasting
  • One large meal after the workouts

What’s The Problem With These Methods?

These are nutritional strategies more appropriate for fat loss – not muscle building! Sure, they’ll help you experience a cleaner bulk — by the year 2030!

I teach my skinny guys to bulk up without losing their four pack. That’s the benchmark you strive for. For most guys this works out to overshooting their goal ripped look by anywhere from 10-25 pounds. Lets say you’re 150 pounds and want to be a shredded 175 pounds, you could bulk up to 185 pounds and then you would focus on cutting the 10 lbs of excess fat to reveal a shredded 175 lbs with 25 more pounds of muscle!

The Simplest Muscle Gain Diet Ever...

When I gained 41 pounds of muscle in a record-breaking 24 weeks I followed the simplest eating system in the world – I ate balanced!  You can follow the same style meal plans I used by picking up a copy of No Nonsense Muscle Building.  Every single meal utilized proteins, low-glycemic carbohydrates and essential fats. I consumed a big breakfast, a big lunch and a big dinner and I consumed two or three high-calorie nutrient dense shakes with an elite protein powder in between those meals.

In all honestly, it was the easiest 41 pounds of muscle I’ve ever gained.  I ate the same every single day whether I trained or didn’t train. I pre cooked my meals when I traveled. I trained hard and earned my calories. Ten years ago, I don’t even think the word “organic” existed so I just ate the same foods you can find in your local grocery store. If I was full or didn’t have an appetite, I forced my meals down. No excuses. No crying. No whining.  I was 100% committed to my goals.  My metabolism and genetics didn’t stand a chance. I smacked them both in the face.

If you haven’t had a dramatic skinny-to-muscular transformation like I did, I recommend you put to rest all the fancy nutrition strategies and stick to the basics - eat balanced every single meal and every single day.  Once you master this habit, I have plenty of advanced muscle building programs to introduce the concepts of food combining and nutrient timing, next.

50 Comments & I’ll Post Muscle Gain Mistake #5! 

What is the hardest part about consuming all your goal calories? Were you an underfeeder? How did you fix it?  Share your comments and questions below!

10 Responses to “Muscle Gain Mistake #4 To Avoid: Underfeeding”


  1. rado

    …apart from that I agree with everything else you had to say..

  2. rado

    Sorry but that is complete bulls*it..it’s not possible to gain 41 in 5 months unless you are dosing crazy on AAS and even then I can’t see it happening and yes I am taking into consideration that at the beginning of weight training you see rapid results.

  3. jbeta

    My only problem is I’m 5’5 at 146 and just have stubborn belly fat and I’m not an ectomorph nor quite endomorph either, I don’t know what I am. I just know 2700 calories make me loose weight. I got up to 151 in about 6 weeks and went back to 146.

  4. Esteban h.

    Yoo vince thanx once again for inspiring me to achieve my goals. Great advice, and greetings from Bolivia, south america!

  5. David

    Are the three shakes you mentioned just straight whey? Should we mix it up with full fat milk for the calories? Would an olive oil “chaser” add suitable good fats and calories?

    I’m just thinking on my feet whilst I’m working on my appetite!

  6. Kyla

    hey Steve,

    Why not try egg protein drinks or something else? There are many different types of powders out there that you can try. Some are even all raw ingredients and dairy, soy, and gluten free. They even taste good. Do some browsing and check out a few.

    It just might be tough eating so many calories all in food. Ive done it and its tough.

  7. Steve A

    Hey vince , i just wanted to ask can u get big without any protein shakes at all,, I am allergic to whey protein supplements and on 2 occasions have had very nasty reaction to them so i just wanted to know can it be done without taking any, thanks Steve

  8. Jon

    I like how you equate under eating perception to how overweight people underestimate calories consumed.

    It’s important to mention type of food to eat. I stick to whole foods as much as possible. I’m not a fanatic, but stick to it quite well. It takes a lot of eating, but at the end of the day, you’ll get a much bigger bang for your buck.

    Take cereal for instance. The stuff in boxes is a waste. It’s loaded with sugar and other garbage. Instead, make your own muesli with oats, a grain blend, dried fruit and nuts. Simple, inexpensive and loaded with fuel.

  9. Brandon A

    Already own No Nonsense Muscle Building. I love the ebook and the tools provided! If only I could keep up on my eating… but I have made substantial gains in a short amount of time (compared to the years I’ve worked out without calorie counting) when I do push myself to maintain the 4500 calories I need.

  10. mike

    wow this was truly amazing! This is exactly the problem i am having! i overcomplicate things!