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How to Eat Your Way Jacked… Even with a Crappy Appetite

Written by Jason Ferruggia Topics: Nutrition

I remember when I was a skinny maggot and had a hard time getting a lot of calories down. It was one of the primary reasons I was a skinny maggot. You’ve gotta eat to grow.

Yesterday, while watching two Giants victories I whacked down a huge plate of eggs and potatoes, a few pears, a cup of berries, an entire gluten free pizza, a pile of Jen’s bison meatballs, six cookies, and 3/4 of a cherry pie with coconut milk ice cream.

But that was a far cry from the one day I ate 10,000 calories one Saturday in Long Beach Island, New Jersey back in the early 90’s. Or the time I hit 12,000 when snowed in in Killington, Vermont.

Those were my all time PR’s and I don’t think I’ll be topping them any time soon. We’ve got a great Epic Meals thread going on right now in The Renegade Inner Circle and I think some of the guys will be or already have topped my best performances.

But I’ve developed quite the capacity to pack away food over the years. Without restraint I could easily eat myself into obesity in a year.

A lot of skinny guys claim that they can’t eat enough, they have no appetite and they have serious digestive issues. This can all usually be fixed with a few simple tricks.

If you’re having trouble eating 3,000 calories per day realize that you’d also have trouble deadlifting 500 pounds the first time you attempted it. Like anything else it takes consistency and practice. Slowly add calories over time and you’ll get there.

But you’ve got to keep forcing the extra calories down and steadily increasing. Progressive overload is key here.

Next, be sure to take probiotics on an empty stomach every morning or take a good mixed greens supplement that contains them (although you may need more than what is in any greens supplement for a couple of months).

Not only do probiotics improve your digestive health but they help with your immune system and can prevent you from getting sick. Gut health and immune system strength really go hand in hand.

Before your big meals take a digestive enzyme and eat some raw sauerkraut with it. Kimchi and other cultured vegetables can have the same effect. Mix it up on a regular basis.

The pic below is what I keep in my fridge on a regular basis. You can get all of them at Whole Foods or other similar markets.

These improve your digestive health & ability to eat big. They’re staples in my fridge.

You can also try drinking hot water with lemon before meals as a way of naturally increasing stomach acid. This may or may not make a difference for you but it’s worth a shot.

Finally, you’ve just gotta plan your meals smarter.

Here’s a few tips from an incredibly knowledgeable Renegade Inner Circle member (and serious contender for Renegade of the Year), Jack Penner:

“Here are some tricks that I’ve picked up on that can help you on your way to eating like a horse and becoming a brick shit house.

Understand volume, viscosity, and palatability.

Vegetables take up a lot of volume and space in your stomach. Don’t eat a ton with the bigger meals. Especially post workout, you want macros, not vegetables. So, if broccoli is keeping you from getting the potatoes or rice down, ditch it.

Rice is easier to put down than potatoes. 200g of carbs from rice is a lot less volume than 200g of carbs from potatoes. Stick to denser sources for bigger meals.

Take some of the juice from whatever meat you are eating and mix it in with the carbs to make it wetter. Dry rice or dry baked potato is a
lot harder to put down than sticky rice or some nice, creamy mashed potatoes.

As Steve Miller says…

“Everything’s better when wet.”

I like to eat my steak, then take whatever juice is left over in the bowl or on the plate and pour it over my starches. It’s delicious and can make big servings of food tastier. The same applies for condiments like salsa, or sriracha. Those can be a better option
 if you’re not eating juicier meats and don’t want to add fat via butter.

Learning to eat big is an art, it takes time, but you will learn. It just gets easier.

 If you’re having problems with protein portions, just eat slower and try to use less tough meats. Chicken, for me, is less satiating than steak. Tuna or white fish even less satiating, so those could be good options.

Also, I feel like I could eat eggs ad libitum and never get full, so those are another good, easily digesting, less filling
protein option.

Finally, sometimes you just have to man up. Anyone who is brutally big and strong will tell you that they ate an exorbitant amount of food to get there.

Look at that plate of steak and bowl of potatoes, and say to yourself “This is standing between the current, skinny, weak me and the future, bigger, stronger, badass me.”

Now go feast.


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18 Responses to How to Eat Your Way Jacked… Even with a Crappy Appetite

  1. Jared Riddoch October 29, 2012 at 9:47 am #

    Great article Jay. That is definitely a hard one for me, my wife is always trying to jam more Jasmine Rice down my throat saying that I’m never going to be jacked without it lol.

    BTW – There’s a Renegader of the year award? 2013 is going to be the year of Jared!

    • Nate Palmer October 29, 2012 at 1:31 pm #

      @Jared – it sounds like your wife is going to snag that award.

  2. Lee Hazard October 29, 2012 at 9:57 am #

    Excellent article Jason.

    I languished in the 175lb zone for years until I took a big swig of manup juice and started devouring serious calories eg butter, coconut oil, red meat, nut butters etc.

    Great advice in there, particularly omitting veg if it fills you up easily.

  3. Dave October 29, 2012 at 10:15 am #

    Why take a probiotic on an empty stomach rather than with food? Not arguing, just would like to know the science why.

  4. Brandon Cook October 29, 2012 at 11:19 am #

    Nice! I just bought some sauerkraut at the store yesterday. Good tips on how to pack in the calories, I’ll be putting them to use over the winter season. We’re getting jacked ya’ll!!! ;)

  5. Scott October 29, 2012 at 11:23 am #

    Great article and great advice! Thank you for spreading the good word about probiotics and fermented vegetables.

    I wanted to add a few things as well:

    1. Herbal bitters help with digestion. If you feel like you’ve just swallowed a brick and it’s not moving from your stomach, or even if it begins to feel like it may come back up, a few droppersful of an herbal bitter tincture in some water will do the trick within a half hour. Get ‘em at the local health food store. Gentian in particular is my favorite bitter herb – alone, it is awesome.

    2. Incidentally, herbal bitters can also be used before meals to help increase appetite.

    3. Ginger should also be taken frequently. Ginger’s anti-inflammatory properties and ability to decrease post-workout soreness are well-known and well-studied by now. However, ginger in high doses is also a potent appetite stimulant. I once ate 15 cubes of candied ginger after a workout, hoping to see if it would help with any achiness. I don’t remember if it did. I do remember eating twice as much at dinner as I normally would, and in about half the time. I was ravenous!

    4. There are other encapsulated appetite stimulants out there. I haven’t tried them, but they may be worth looking into for anyone struggling to pack on pounds.

    • Ty Wall October 31, 2012 at 6:50 am #

      @Scott: Where abouts do I find ginger (cubes?) ??

      @Jay: How much kraut should I eat? I bought some and have it in the fridge for this purpose, but haven’t gotten into it yet. Should just a couple forkfuls suffice?

      • Scott October 31, 2012 at 10:25 am #

        Ty: I’ve found candied ginger cubes at any health food store. Reed’s is a great brand. Some places also have it in bulk.

  6. Mike October 29, 2012 at 1:11 pm #

    Great article jay. Quick question – I have macro greens ( cant get athletic greens is Australia) and I’m on the renegade diet. What’s the best time to take it whilst trying to lose fat?

  7. Ryan October 29, 2012 at 2:07 pm #


    Great post with lots of helpful tips for hardgainers. I disagree with one portion of your post, and that is when you said that probiotics should be taken on an empty stomach. The research is actually pretty clear that taking on an empty stomach creates the highest levels of organism die-off due to stomach acid levels. The best time to take probiotics is AFTER a meal. Taking them after a meal doesn’t guarantee that they’ll all survive, but the food provides enough “cushion” for the probiotics to make it through to the gut. Other than that, your blog is spot on, keep up the good work!

  8. peter bolsius October 29, 2012 at 3:08 pm #

    try eating a raw apple or raw carrot 10-15 mins before a meal to get the acids flowing, helps with digestion. also mash all your veggies (like broccoli) in with your potatoes add the meat juice or olive oil and it’s real easy to eat.

  9. Dave Cap October 29, 2012 at 3:16 pm #


    I can see the logic in eating clean and with increased volume. Increasing size with quality muscle has to be a key driver. Is there room in your suggestions for getting a steady growth while maintaining low levels of body fat.

    • Jack Penner November 2, 2012 at 3:17 pm #

      Carb cycling is effective for maintaing low body fat.

      Simply not going overboard on the calories all the time, and using feedback from how you’re looking as an indicator of what to tweak.

  10. Seth November 1, 2012 at 1:30 pm #

    Love this post man; I’m in the middle of a bit of a rut [even though I’m getting plenty of stimulus through German Volume Training] and it’s good to read fresh perspectives on how to ‘eat through’ a plateau.

  11. Rihan roger November 2, 2012 at 3:52 am #

    Nice and informative article. But I dont believe that I can control my appetite for long, if I see my favorite foods. Eating healthy is OK, but I love to eat more and whenever I wish to..

  12. drew November 4, 2012 at 8:59 pm #

    Great post, Jay. 12,000 calories in a day is just plain impressive.

    Something I’ve found that works for me and is almost too easy is just eating trail mix every day. When you need to put on some pounds, just eat 3,000 calories of whole food, and then eat a bag of trail mix and drink 2 cups of raw dairy on top of that. It’s the easiest way to go from 3,000 calories to 4,000 calories in my opinion. Just 1/2 cup peanuts, 1/2 cup raisins, and 1/4 cup of M&M’s and finish it with some raw dairy and you’re talking about gaining 2 pounds a week.

  13. Xavier November 5, 2012 at 3:50 pm #

    I’m new to your site and I’m one of those with digestive problems, not sure what it is so I have to see a doctor. Recently I started taking a probiotic supplement while I fast in the morning, it has been helping. I also implemented kimchi and sauerkraut, is their a need to take digestive enzymes with those?

  14. PDG November 9, 2012 at 11:23 pm #

    I used to overeat all the time to try to gain weight but I would always end up feeling bad. I figured that the first principle to apply when starting something new is sustainability. Start slow (even what feels too easy) and gradually build up from there. Going past your body’s ability to recover doesn’t make you stronger, but weaker, as I would keep getting injured.

    My motto for eating is “Eating more is fine, digesting more is what counts”.
    I found I can reduce eating but increase chewing and maintain weight. Most people don’t digest all the calories they consume.