Mike Mentzer, Nutritional Illusion, Delusion and Confusion (1993)

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The following excerpt comes from Mike Mentzer’s 1993 nutritional work, Heavy Duty Nutrition. A keen follower of Arthur Jones’s Heavy Duty training system, Mike was the poster child of an alternative and oftentimes radical form of bodybuilding. It should come as no surprise then that his nutritional advice also tended against the norm. 

In the following weeks, more chapters from Mike’s book will be shared on bulking, cutting and general good health. Enjoy!

In looking back over my bodybuilding career, I am truly amazed that I’ve made it as far as I have considering the years I spent pursuing my goals in almost complete ignorance. From the very beginning when I was only 12 years old, until quite recently -– and I still have a lot to learn – I was deluded and confused. I became deluded from reading all the muscle magazines, especially their seductive advertisements which promised we all could be Mr. America’s almost overnight if we would only invest our money in a particular product.

A good example was one that promised a-pound-a-day muscle gains if we drank a certain drink every day. A very enthusiastic, but admittedly ignorant, young bodybuilder, I fell for that one hook, line and sinker, and went from 180 pounds to 250 pounds (most of the weight gain being body fat) in seven months! Oh, how clever I thought I was. The only reason I didn’t go up to 280 pounds, which was my goal, was because my mother couldn’t afford my milk bill anymore, as I was up to almost two gallons of the liquid every day. On top of that, I was becoming rather concerned about the hideous stretch marks that began appearing all over my body, along with the fact that I had outgrown two or three wardrobes. It was at this point that my dad refused to buy me any more clothes, and in doing so, put a halt to my “bulking.”

The next six months I spent trying to undo the damage. You see, it was in vogue in those days to “bulk up and cut down,” i.e. to gain as much weight as possible despite the content, then trim off the fat you gained and be left with just muscle. Well, by the time I was done cutting and trimming more than six months later, I ended up weighing a few pounds less than the 180 pounds I began with. The starvation and overtraining that led to such a weight loss caused me to lose muscle. I actually ended up with less muscle than I had when I started. So much for bulking up and cutting down!

Despite that and other mistakes, I never gave up hope of becoming an accomplished bodybuilder. All through the years I read the muscle magazines voraciously, never missing a trick. I knew every fad diet that came down the line and tried them all. Everybody trained different and followed different diets. This was as it should be, we were told, because we are all different. The bottom line, so they said, was because we are all unique and possess vastly different requirements in our training and nutrition, it is up to the individual to discover what is best from him. No wonder I and untold others were confused about training and dieting.

What a massive contradiction! These very people who were selling us “the science of bodybuilding” were now telling us that bodybuilding is anything but exact, that there are no universal principles or truths, that those who wanted big muscles had to become their own scientific agents and discover what built muscles for “them.” Since science is an exact discipline, can it be we have been wrong all these years about bodybuilding being a science? If you accept the premise that we all possess different training and nutritional requirements then, yes we have been wrong. Bodybuilding cannot operate as a science under those conditions.

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