Bodybuilding Magazines: Deception, Misinformation, Lies Be careful where your information comes from!

I stumbled upon something interesting looking for information on some of the popular old time strongmen such as Eugen Sandow, Arthur Saxon, George Hackenschmidt and others. I was particularly interested in their diets. In an online article, I found the following text which sheds light on the nutritional plan of the Saxon Trio.

image via: bodybuilding.com;

image via: bodybuilding.com & strongfit.com ;

For breakfast they ate 24 eggs and 3 pounds of smoked bacon; porridge with cream, honey, marmalade and tea with plenty of sugar. At three o’clock they had dinner: ten pounds of meat was consumed with vegetables (but not much potatoes); sweet fruits, raw or cooked, sweet cakes, salads, sweet puddings, cocoa and whipped cream and very sweet tea. Supper, after the show, they had cold meat, smoked fish, much butter, cheese and beer. Following this they had a chat and at one o’clock went to bed.

What hit me was, of course, the enormous amount of food those guys were eating. Let’s calculate the approximate number of calories:

24 eggs = 2016 kcal
3 pounds of bacon = 5400 kcal
Honey, marmalade and sugar: The quantities are not specified by let’s say the total of the three is about 200 kcal (it could me much more)


Ten pounds of meat – the type of meat is not specified which makes it hard to calculate total calories. I will assume it was on the low side when it comes to calorie density – 200 kcal per 100 grams. In that case 10 pounds equal about 9000 kcal. Again, it could be much more depending on the type of meat, although I don’t think people were into low fat at the time.

Sweet fruits, raw or cooked, sweet cakes, salads, sweet puddings, cocoa and whipped cream and very sweet tea – due to the lack of portion size information I will assume the total amount was 500 kcal, although it could be much more.

Cold meat, smoked fish, much butter, cheese and beer – approximately 1000 kcal (could be more)

Total: 18 116 kcal.

Note: I understand that due to lack of information I cannot calculate the total amount of calories with great precision. Keep in mind that for all of the unknown portions I used low estimations.

As you can guess anybody will get fat on a 18 116 kcal diet. That’s why the second I read this text, I though something suspicious is going on and then I found the culprit:

The source of the information was Muscle Power Magazine, courtesy of Joe Weider.

Once you know this EXTREMELY important piece of information everything starts to make a lot more sense.

It doesn’t take a genius to understand that muscle magazines continue to push the idea that you need to eat a ton of food, rich in protein and calories, to grow bigger. Whenever somebody fails to get big, the usual answer is “you are not eating enough” and the person is advised to look at information like this. What’s up with everybody and their eat big to get big nonsense for naturals? Everybody talks about food and protein, but nobody says the truth.

Of course, this particular text is written in a way that leaves a few exit doors. For example, the quantity of certain foods is omitted. It is not specified whether this was the menu of a single man or all three of them. I guess that if you are following this diet and getting fat, the muscle councilors will say that you should be eating only 1/3 of the described food. But, wait…

If we divide it by three, we get about 6000 kcal, which seem way more comprehensible, but not me. 6000 kcal will still make you fat as hell. There is no question about it. Rippetoe used to recommend this amount of calories to noobs. The horde of skinny fat dudes who follow this diet and think 350 lbs low bar parallel squat at 250 lbs is strong reveals the effectiveness of this anabolic wonder.

According to online source Arthur Saxon was about 5’10” and 220 lbs {source}. This means that his maintenance calories would be about  about 220 lbs x 14-16 = 3080 – 3520 ( I used Lyle McDonald’s formula which you can find here.) This means a 6000 kcal diet would be about double the amount he needed to maintain his bodyweight. Of course, people will say he was a performer and needed extra calories and all that nonsense.

Look, running like a scared motherfucker from a lion for one hour will burn about 500-900 kcal. Now, you understand how much effort it actually takes to burn over 3000 kcal. That’s why so many people are getting fat as hell on 4 000 kcal diets and fatter than hell on 6 000 kcal ones.

That’s why it is always important to take into consideration the source of your information. There is always an agenda. Obviously, this holds true even for my little blog. I know a lot of people don’t agree with me, and that’s perfectly fine.

At the end of the day, always remember the golden rule: The apple never falls far from the three. This explains why even to this day mainstream information about almost everything, not just muscle, is largely propaganda.

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