Building Von Moger Nutrition Guidelines

To build like Calum, you need to eat like him. Here's the old-school bulking plan to help you turn those brutal workouts into sheer size!

Main | Program Overview | Nutrition Overview | Episodes | Get Started

Main | Program Overview | Nutrition Overview | Episodes | Get Started

Gaining quality mass requires more than throwing weights around in the gym. Without a diligent and consistent approach to nutrition and supplementation, you're setting yourself up to be like that guy we've all seen online who isn't succeeding and can't figure out why.

If you've watched the Building Von Moger episodes, you know that Calum says he doesn't count calories or keep airtight macros. But guess what? You're not Calum. He's a pro who has a sound nutritional perspective ingrained in every choice he makes—even when that choice is to eat Häagen-Dazs. This plan will help you build that perspective, too.

Think of it this way: You spend hours poring over your sets and reps scheme, and even more hours putting it into action in the gym. Give your nutrition and supplementation even half the same level of serious thought, and you'll be on the road to building monster size.

Pick your path

The number one mistake I see when individuals set their minds to "bulking" is severe undereating. They get too fixated on the workout itself and put too little attention on nutrition, instead following the "see food" diet.

One of two outcomes almost inevitably results:

  • They end up eating far below maintenance to support their new high-volume training regimen, and plateau shortly after beginning the program.
  • They eat nothing but junk and gain an unnecessary and unhealthy amount of body fat in a short time frame.
The junk food diet is a bulking no-no.

Both of these flawed approaches generally result from the same root problem: Not eating enough solid meals. The first failed bulker tries to fit all his calories into three squares a day. Good luck with that! You just can't eat enough calories to add serious mass that way.

The second tries to do the same with three meals of trash per day, or gulps a steady supply of calorically dense foods all day, overshooting his caloric needs by 1000 calories or more.

There are two ways to do this: The know-your-numbers way, and the Calum way. I'm going to break down both.

Option 1 The know-your-numbers way

If you're following this route, I'm going to assume that you already know and track your calories and macros. If that's the case, here's what you're going to do: As you begin the program, start by adding an additional 200-300 calories per day, mainly from carbs, to your current macros.

Then, start weighing yourself. Although not the only indicator of progress, tracking your weight is an important piece of the puzzle. Three times a week, weigh yourself first thing in the morning (after using the restroom) while wearing as little clothing as possible. Take the average to monitor progress over time.

  • If you gain more than 1.5 pounds, hold steady and reassess after the next week. If you once again gain more than 1.5 pounds, you are more than likely gaining significant fat in addition to muscle. This is not necessarily bad, but it depends on your end goal. Only you can decide how much body fat you're willing to put on. If you're OK with gaining both muscle and substantial fat, then continue at a rate of a maximum of 2-3 pounds per week; however, if you're looking to minimize fat gain, strive for 0.5-1.5 pounds per week.
  • If you gain less than 1.5 pounds, hold steady and reassess after the next week. If your rate of gain slows next week, increase your calories by 5-10 percent. If you continue at this pace, don't change your calories.
  • If you lose weight or maintain it, boost your caloric intake by 5-10 percent of total calories to ensure you don't fall off the gain train.

Option 2 The Calum way

In "Building Von Moger," Calum gives his four-word philosophy to mass-building: "Eat protein. Eat carbs." Truer words were never spoken. If you want to build mass like and old-school bodybuilder in the offseason, eat like one!

In "Building Von Moger," Calum gives his four-word philosophy to mass-building: "Eat protein. Eat carbs." Truer words were never spoken.

That means multiple moderately-sized, protein-rich meals a day. Start with five, each one about 3-4 hours apart. If that sounds like a lot, I think we've discovered why you haven't been gaining.

For the next six weeks, build your day around the classics:

  • Chicken/beef/pork and rice
  • Ground meat and rice
  • Fish and rice
  • Eggs and oatmeal
  • Yogurt and oatmeal
  • Meat and potatoes
  • Meat and vegetables
  • Protein shakes

These meals are your best friends for the next six weeks. Every now and then, eat something completely out of the norm so you don’t get bored with it—or even worse—fail to eat enough. If you want to sub out one of them for, say, an In-N-Out burger or some ice cream, that's your choice. But consider that your meal, and track your weight just as closely as in the "know your numbers" option.

If you're gaining more than 2-3 pounds a week consistently, consider getting off the Calum course and tracking your calories and macros more closely instead.

Prioritize Protein

This applies to both of the previous options. Protein is the building block of muscle, and without an appropriate amount, it's very challenging to gain muscle. Insufficient protein also leads to poor recovery, which translates to pitiful performance and possibly even muscle loss.

But how much? The old way of prioritizing protein was to focus on total daily intake. That number can still be useful, but we know now that the best approach to building muscle is to consume the optimal amount of protein every 3-4 hours. A solid starting point is 1 gram per pound of body weight daily, spread across at least five meals.

We know now that the best approach to building muscle is to consume the optimal amount of protein every 3-4 hours. A solid starting point is 1 gram per pound of body weight daily, spread across at least five meals.

Here's how that breaks down for various weights:

  • 160-pound man: 32 grams per meal, 5 times daily
  • 180-pound man: 36 grams per meal, 5 times daily
  • 200-pound man: 40 grams per meal, 5 times daily

If your protein intake isn't up to that standard, get it there ASAP. Otherwise, this program will most likely not do what you want it to.

Live Large With Leucine

There's no way around this: Bulking is easier when it's powered by animal protein. So when selecting protein sources for this mass-building phase, prioritize lean animal proteins, as these sources are much richer in leucine compared to plant sources of protein such as tofu, nuts, seeds, beans, and legumes.

Currently, there is no per-body-weight recommendation for optimal leucine intake. A general consensus is to aim for 2.5-4.0 grams every 3-4 hours to maximally stimulate muscle building. Depending on your size in relation to the average 180-pound male, you may need to adjust intake accordingly. This chart can help you figure out the portion of protein you need to get the job done.1

Source Total Protein Amount to reach 3.2-4.4 g of Leucine Amount of Food Required
Whey 12% 27 grams *Depends on brand and type
Milk 9.8% 33 grams 33 oz. (4 cups)
Casein 9.3% 34 grams *Depends on brand and type
Egg 8.6% 37 grams 5 large eggs
Fish 8.1% 40 grams 6 oz.
Beef 8% 40 grams 4.7 oz.
Pork 8% 40 grams 4.9 oz.
Chicken 7.5% 43 grams 4.9 oz.

We also now know that the so-called post-workout anabolic window is not as important as once thought. However, it can still make a difference in your physique, if only by enforcing the ritual of the protein shake. If your choice is either sucking down a shake right after training or waiting a couple of hours to eat something else—and missing out on that protein in the meantime—the choice is clear!

Simply put, be sure you're consuming adequate protein within a reasonable amount of time following your training regimen. Within 60 minutes is a good rule of thumb. To further capitalize on this potential 1- to 2-percent boost, consider choosing a whey protein to reap the benefits of rapid delivery of protein to your muscles.

How to Eat a Lot

In case it hasn't been made clear by now, eating three times per day simply will not cut it if your goal is monster size. Spreading your caloric surplus across 5-6 meals per day will allow you to adequately fuel at each meal so you don't leave the table a bloated, uncomfortable mess.

An average 185-pound male may need close to 3500 calories per day to support his goals. If he were to eat only three times per day, he would need to aim for nearly 1200 calories per meal. Unless you're eating at Chipotle or IHOP for each meal, this will prove to be quite a task—and an expensive one at that. On the other hand, if this individual chooses five meals per day, he will only need to average just shy of 600 calories per meal, which is much more doable.

Spreading your caloric surplus across 5-6 meals per day will allow you to adequately fuel at each meal so you don't leave the table a bloated, uncomfortable mess.

The higher your caloric intake, the more you may benefit from spreading your intake evenly throughout the day. To optimally support growth and recovery, aim to eat every 3-4 hours, placing high importance on the pre- and post-workout meal. For those of you that have difficulty meeting your goal intake, use liquid calories such as shakes and smoothies to help you better digest your large meals. Also consider adding calorie-dense toppings and spreads to your nutrient-dense choices. Great options include peanut butter, ice cream, or avocado.

The other nice thing about all of those classic bodybuilder meals above? They all prep easily. So shop big, pack your Tupperware, and eat like it's your job. Because for the next couple of months, it is!

Supplement Smartly

Your supplement stack will not make or break your quest for monster size. However, paired with a smart training program and sound nutrition plan, specific supplements can help provide the boost in recovery and performance you need for big-time size. Below are five staple supplements that should be included in your stack.

Whey protein 25-30 g

This is the most convenient, versatile, and low-fat protein option. It turns on muscle-building efficiently, and contains plenty of leucine. Pre- and post-workout are no-brainers, but when adding mass, a shake is also a great addition to pretty much any meal or snack if the protein is otherwise lacking.

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Branched-chain amino acids 7 g (2:1:1 ratio)

The BCAAs, which include our good friend leucine most prominently, are muscle friendly during a bulk. Taken pre- or intra-workout, they preserve muscle mass during prolonged intense training and reduce fatigue, allowing you to do more work. You can also take them between meals (best a couple of hours after eating) to help maintain muscle-building between meals.

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A pre-workout can be a great ally when you're pushing through 15, 20, or more sets of chest or legs like you will be doing for the next few weeks. Keep an eye out for specific ingredients such as caffeine, creatine, and beta alanine, which will give you an additional edge to smash the workout. These ingredients, when dosed appropriately, have been shown to have a positive impact on your performance.

  • Creatine: 3-5 g a day
  • Caffeine: 200-500 mg 30-60 minutes pre-workout
  • Beta-alanine: 3-6 g a day

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Optional: Mass Gainer

You may feel as if you need a weight-gainer powder to aid your muscle building quest. You certainly can, but I would recommend trying to gain through the above whole foods and supplements first. If you're struggling to eat enough, remember that a homemade combination of whey protein, low-fat Greek yogurt, ground oatmeal, fruit, nuts, and seeds is a nutritious and affordable way to pile on the calories.

Start building now

Remember, gaining quality weight isn't easy. If it were, we would all be walking around looking like Calum. Sometimes, you simply won't be hungry, even when the clock says to eat. This will be a crossroads at which you need to decide how badly you want your goal. Tracking your weight and adjusting your approach accordingly will serve as instrumental tools to your success.

When you're struggling, keep it simple. Eat protein. Eat carbs. Eat enough. Eat often enough. Then train hard and repeat. You can do this!

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  1. Norton, L.E., Layman, D.K., Bunpo, P., Anthony, T.G., Brana, D.V. & Garlick, P.J. (2009). The leucine content of a complete meal directs peak activation but not duration of skeletal muscle protein synthesis and Mammalian target of rapamycin signaling in rats. Journal of Nutrition, 139(6), 1103-1109.