Here we go with part 2 of our intro to eating for increasing size and strength. We have a real treat for you. We tracked down our in house strongman pro, Scott Cummine to talk to us about how he built his massive 310lb lean frame. Why should you listen to this guy? Well he’s competed at World’s Strongest Man and Giant’s Live twice. He is the current and 7x Western Canada’s Strongest Man. Scott is sponsored by Precision and Mettle and has been competing in Strongman for over 12 years. Get comfortable, there’s a lot of info here.
Mettle PTC (M): Scott, just how important has nutrition been to your success?
Scott Cummine (SC): In the last 2 years for me I realized nutrition is more important than training. Look at it this way, if I don’t eat properly, it doesn’t matter what I do in the gym. Obviously the 2 are intertwined, but diet is more important. If I have 2 cheese burgers before I come to the gym I’m going to feel like garbage and my training will suffer. I can feel the difference that better food/fuel makes in my day-to-day performance. For me the most important parts are the amount of calories and the types of foods I’m eating.
M: How do the types of foods you eat affect your performance?
SC: My diet can affect my ph levels with all the protein that I have to eat. If I don’t have enough greens to balance out that ph and I get acidic I become tired and lethargic. I end up not wanting to train, or I can’t train and generally don’t feel like doing anything. I think this is often overlooked. For me I need specific amounts of greens throughout the day with all of my protein
M: Do you measure the amounts you have?
SC: Ya, I use VegeGreens in the morning in my breakfast shake. I also try and have greens with every meal. I measure by handfuls and keep a bag of spinach with me at work. A tight handful, so around a cup. I have about 6-8 handfuls/cups of spinach a day with all of my meals plus VegeGreens and a multi vitamin in the morning. I used to go days where I didn’t eat any greens and would feel tired. I’ve learned to recognize this. Once I add greens back in, I immediately feel better. You can get acidic very fast when eating alot of protein and I think many athletes fail to realize this.
M: How much protein/calories are you consuming per day?
SC: I try and get around 1g of protein per pound of bodyweight. But for me anything beyond 300g of protein is too much. I mean there’s lots of stuff you can read that says the body can handle more, but lets be realistic. You can only cook, eat and spend so much. I’ve gone above 300g before, but never noticed any significant difference in muscle mass. 1g/lb has always worked for me, but the only way I can get there is to use whey protein. I’ll do 100g in the morning in a big shake, plus either yogurt or porridge. I have about 2000 calories when I wake up. I try and get it out of the way (laughs).
M: If we took your 100g shake out of it where are you getting the other 200g of protein and the rest of your calories?
SC: Usually a pound and a half of grass fed, ground beef with 6-8 cups of brown rice. Lots of trail mix. Somewhere in there I have 6-8 eggs with bacon, maybe half a pound. I will usually get in another shake or 1L of milk and peanut butter.
M: If you go below a certain level of food do you notice a drop in performance/recovery?
SC: I don’t notice it right away, but after a week or so I start to lose weight. Then getting back up to 300lbs where I like to stay is incredibly hard. I will have to basically force feed myself for 2-3 weeks to stabilize. I have to keep my food up all the time. If I miss a day its not that bad, but its not good either. I try and stay really consistent to keep my bodyweight up.
M: You have mentioned to me in the past that you have switched protein sources to grass fed beef?
SC: Yes, I think digestion is a huge part of the equation. If you can’t digest your protein you can’t build muscle. Grocery store meat really upsets my stomach, but the grass fed beef I get from a farmer; I can eat as much as I want of it and don’t have a problem. Some people can eat Walmart or Costco beef and it doesn’t bug them and that’s great, but I certainly can’t.
M: What about chicken or any other sources of protein?
SC: Honestly, I don’t even eat chicken. I don’t know where to buy it (laughs). I have one farmer I get chicken from sometimes, but if I can’t get it from the farmer I don’t eat it. Lots of beef though. In my opinion it matters that you have protein post-workout. I always have a protein shake after training, but other than that I just make sure and get it in when I can.
M: You don’t necessarily eat by the clock?
SC: I just try to never be hungry. After a while once you follow a diet for some time you get to know your body. I know when I need to eat now from doing this for so long. If I am busy at work and I know I’m going to go a long stretch without food, I will eat both of the meals I brought for the day. Real life can get in the way.
M: Do you pay any particular attention to carbs? Do you ever have any room for junk food?
SC: Usually I just try and hit a certain calorie value. If I have covered my protein, I make up the rest through carbs and fats. I’ve used that app called “My Fitness Pal” to track my food and it works pretty good. Its hard to get to 6, 7 or 8000 calories from clean food. Actually it sucks (laughs). So I do eat junk food now and then. I try and eat healthy choices whenever possible, but if I have a really busy day I will make up for it with something like Dairy Queen. I use rice for my main carb choice because its easy to eat and its very cheap. You can get a 10lb bag for $10. I try and stay away from refined sugars. I like pop, but try and stay away from it or pick something like that Zevia (Stevia flavored). If I need them I may have something like an energy drink. I would never add refined sugar to my plan, but sometimes I like the odd cheat meal. Carbs are fuel for training and competition.
M: What types of fats do you eat?
SC: I use Progressive liquid fish oil: 3g/day. I put coconut oil in my shakes and cook with it. If I fry eggs I use coconut oil. I get some healthy fats from my grass fed beef.
M: Do you take any supplements?
SC: Fish oil, always. Creatine 20g/day especially close to competition. I always take ZMA and a magnesium supplement. Training depletes magnesium quite a bit. A typical North American-style diet won’t get you near the amount of magnesium you need to perform well. With spinach, magnesium salt baths and magnesium supplements I feel I am covered. If I feel low on this or I am cramping or feeling lethargic I will usually take a magnesium/epsom salt bath and I feel better. Its great for sore muscles. I also take a pre-workout (laughs maniacally).
M: Can you walk us through what a typical day looks like from start to finish for meals?
SC: Upon Waking: 100g whey protein, 3g fish oil, 3 tbsp of coconut oil, handful of spinach and a banana, 2 cups of cranberry juice or organic milk. While making the shake I usually eat a container of 9% yogurt or dump it in the shake as well. 2000 calories.
Snack: Trail mix and a cup of spinach. 800-1000 calories.
Lunch: 3/4lb of grass fed, ground beef, 3-4 cups of rice, cup of spinach. 800 calories.
2nd Lunch: Same as the first. 800 calories.
Snack: Protein peanut butter (4-5 tbsp) on whole wheat bread or whole wheat bagels, a cup of spinach. 1000 calories.
Supper: Whatever my girlfriend is having, usually fish or something. A cup of spinach.
If supper was not enough I will have more peanut butter and milk to make up the difference in my calorie level, a cup of spinach.
On training days I add Mettle BCAAs. I drink 20-30g before training and drink 20-30g during training. I take more BCAAs when I get home from training in pill form while I drink a post workout shake (either a weight gainer like Big Time or more whey). I don’t really count these calories, but do add them post-training. During training I also drink Gatorade powder or Cytomax.
M: Any other advice?
SC: You can go to the gym, but you really need a consistent diet. It is the hardest part because its depressing (laughs). No one wants to eat all that food, I mean I don’t want to eat it, I don’t want to cook it and I don’t want to clean up all the time. It really sucked last week my dishwasher broke down and I was like what the hell am I going to do!?!?! When you’re done work or the gym you have to come home and cook all that food. But that is how I made so much progress. That is how I got my body to 310lbs. While getting there I remember that the only thing on my mind all day long was eating. I would leave the gym and go and find something to eat. Still, wherever I am, I’m always thinking about my next meal. Losing weight for me is easy. Building muscle tissue is incredibly hard for anyone, even me.
Honestly, many people try diets or meal plans, but if you can dedicate 4-6 weeks to eating a certain way it will become a habit. Eventually, for me, when I was doing all the extra eating it just became natural. I kind of go on auto-pilot.
There you have it folks! Stay consistent, get comfortable with being uncomfortable and keep kicking ass.