David Henry’s Mass-Gain Diet

How to add muscle with minimal sacrifice
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David Henry has accomplished something very special: breaking into the top tier of pro bodybuilders after receiving a pro card in a class lighter than light heavyweight — he’s the 2002 NPC middleweight champ.

Henry has learned how to add muscle without wrecking his exquisite yet hardcore symmetry. When it comes to brawn versus brawn, proportion is in the eye of the beholder.  – George De Pirro

People are going to believe what they’re going to believe. This is the reason I decline so many articles on nutrition, because all some people frickin’ think is that the pros do this and that and the other because that’s what some jackass in their gym does. I’m not that guy.

Basically, my problem was my offseason eating. I thought I ate enough, but I never did. I was having a tough time putting on weight. Looking back, it was not really that hard. I just had to get my head in the game. I had to determine how far I wanted to go and how I could get there safely and smartly. I pooled my resources and I bugged a lot of people. I was reading everything about protein. I thought How can eating food to put on muscle be so complicated?

Once I had the proper diet, I blew up. I had switched to what I call a 90-10 diet. Five days out of the week — about 90% of the time — I follow a bodybuilder’s diet. The other two days are basically a free-for-all. Monday through Friday afternoon, I follow a “typical” bodybuilding diet. I eat clean — no added fat. I have chicken and rice, beef and sweet potato — things that are the staples. Come Friday afternoon, when I leave work, it’s on — it’s all-you-can-eat sushi or time to fire up the grill. I’ll have a few beers while I cook ribs.

It gives me a lot of freedom. Some people may smirk and shake their heads at the stuff I do, but I don’t preach what I don’t practice. I don’t tell everybody that this is what they should do. I’m not trying to put myself in the category of nutritional expert, because I’m not. I do this uniquely for me. If I’m a freak of nature because my body responds like a machine, then so be it. I’m going to keep it going.

What’s worked for me is a lot of red meat — I mean a lot. I love eating ground beef and steaks. I’m a big Costco freak. I’m an executive member, and I spend $250-300 at a time there, easy. The quality of meat is very good. If you’re going to spend the money, just get the good stuff. I can eat a 12- to 16-ounce steak if it’s very tender, because my jaws aren’t tired. With a subpar piece of meat, you’re going to be playing with that for a while. I get rib eye, filet mignon and strip steaks, and usually marinate them in lemon and lime juice. I love garlic; I eat garlic all the way up to a contest.

I use lots of garlic in many of my dishes. I sprinkle it on everything, even my dog’s food. It gives a nice flavor, especially when you’re sodium restricted. Grilling is the easiest way to add flavor to your food and not add a whole bunch of extra fat. Taste is definitely important, but you also have to determine your priorities. Are you trying to gain lean mass? Or are you trying to get huge for the sake of getting huge to scare people because you’re a doughboy?

I have certain favorite dishes that I can eat all the time. I love hamburgers, bratwurst and my own home-style ribs. There are days when I have used only red meat as a protein source, and I sometimes have to be reminded to add chicken, fish and ground turkey to my diet.

Recently, I’ve increased my fish intake, to break up my protein into different bioavailability sources. I actually like most fish. I eat grouper, halibut, orange roughy and salmon. Salmon is a great source of omega-3 fatty acids, especially since I don’t take in other fats. Visually, 12 oz of fish looks like 16 oz of cooked ground beef, and the protein content is pretty much equal.

I don’t eat a lot of whole eggs. Instead, I’ve been using liquid egg whites that come in big cartons. They are easy to mix with steak and other protein sources, and they’re already pasteurized, so there’s no worry about salmonella.

I love cheese in all forms. It’s probably my only source of dairy. I don’t remember the last time I had a glass of milk or a bowl of cereal. Milk smoothes me out, but I’m not lactose intolerant. As a kid, hell, we would drink gallons of milk at a time. But now, I’d rather put a slice of cheese on a burger patty and be done with it.

I rotate my carbohydrates in the offseason and I don’t consume the same amount every day. That is, if I have them at all; I sometimes forget. There are days I’ve had to be reminded that I need some carbs, because I haven’t had any in two or three days.

I’ve been eating a whole crapload more vegetables than I used to, and I feel better. I use hummus when I’m contest prepping. It’s made from chickpeas, so you really can’t go wrong with it. Even the stuff I eat for precontest I prepare so well that I eat it in the offseason, too, and enjoy it just as much, but in larger amounts.

Most days, I try to do whole food if I have the time, because I like to eat my food. Drinking it is quicker, but that’s only in a pinch, when I don’t want to slow down. The 90- to 120-gram shakes that I use are so light that they’re easily digested, with no gastric distress. Two 90-g shakes are pretty much a third of my protein intake.

You need to be slow and in control for weight gain; don’t be in a rush. Some people’s frames are not ready to handle a large increase in weight. I didn’t think mine was, but I managed to trick it through show after show to take on the weight. I’m naturally ectomorphic, but I’ve become an ectomeso. I changed my body’s shape through training and diet, and it will definitely be evident onstage. From the last contest till now, even two pounds is a significant difference — on my frame, at least. It’s time to stop bringing out the vertically challenged questions and change the comments to “Damn, he’s done a great job for what he’s got.” FLEX

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