Only the insane and pathological liars will say that the average person in the Western World is better off this year than his parents were at the same age- economies are stagnant and there just doesn't ever seem to be enough cash to go around. Unless you're a one percenter, you're likely poor, thinking about being poor, or being effectively poor scraping by on a good salary with a non-crap standard of living. Whatever your situation, there will likely come a time when you need to tighten your belt a bit, slash your expenses, and live on a pauper's budget for a while. Though some would insist that this could only result in a complete and total loss of strength and muscle mass, history once again rears up to slap us in our collective face with its massive throbbing phallus and delivers a message quite to the contrary.
Though it might seem counter to my opening statement, we live in a time of unparalleled prosperity and material abundance. Nowhere is this more apparent than in the foodstuffs industry, where output greatly exceeds demand in an effort to entice us to purchase more at lower cost. Thus, even at a comparatively tragic standard of living as compared to the wealthiest among us, we're still sitting prettier than Cherry Torn's vagina after a 12 hour gangbang than the developing world and the majority of the people who preceded us. That, then, should mean we are in the perfect position to thrive even on a very meager budget, as our level of access to relatively inexpensive food is unparalleled.
Consider the following- a study conducted at the University of Leeds showed fairly definitively that "we would struggle to find enough people at that level of fitness today to power [Greek triremes] at [the speeds estimated they traveled]” (Leeds). That's incredible, given the fact that Greek oarsmen were hardly elite athletes- instead, they were poor people who thought that the best way to elevate their game would be to endure one of the most brutal work environments in history. Screw Morgan Spurlock and his stupid tv show, because that guy knows nothing whatsoever about how much working life can suck.
A typical workday for a Greek oarsman began at between 2 and 5AM and ended in the early afternoon, during which time the oarsmen rowed essentially constantly in a two stroke on, one stroke off fashion, until they reached their destination. That, then, is an eight to twelve hour workday involved with at least 2 to four hours of pulling on a 26 foot, 132 lb oar. Given how much I eat, I'd think those guys must have been slamming back protein shakes and ribeyes the entire rest of the day to stave off death, but that's absolutely not the fact. According to one source:
"The abysmal living conditions of oarsmen could be made much worse by their diet, the quality of which depended on the extent to which extra provisioning could be provided at ports of call. Without such supplements, a typical breakfast consisted of hard-bread ship's biscuit and beans. The second meal of the day consisted of more biscuit, this time boiled in oil to make bread soup, and perhaps a little cheese. On rare occasions the men might be allowed a little wine. Seldom did they get any meat. The oarsmen's diet supplied 3,000 to 3,500 calories a day. Unfortunately, since the tin can had not yet been invented, biscuit was stored in canvas bags, where it quickly became rotten or infested with weevils. Similarly, there was no way to keep water fresh or sealed against insects. It quickly became foul-tasting and brackish" (Michael's Life).
Tragically, the only people who seem to be concerned with the physical appearance or description of a Greek oarsman or their medieval galley slave descendants are people with what can only be described as an intense BDSM-inspired galley slave fetish, which frankly shocked me more than it otherwise should. As such, it's difficult to know how these men were built, but given the fact that they could outrow the best elite modern rowers, in spite of massive advances in food, training, and supplementation, it wouldn't take much of a leap of faith to determine that they were built like tanks.
Medieval rowers fared even worse than the Greeks, as they were slaves. Not only did they work much longer hours, but their diet was even worse, and they lived chained to a single bench (on which they slept, ate, crapped, and worked) until they either died in battle or were freed after a victory. To fuel their 20 hour workdays, the galley slaves received as their single meal "a piece of baked and stale bread called bizcocho, a stew of broad beans and a ration of water" (Galeotti, Constanla). Stale barely even covers how bad the bread was, because one account stated that the bread was used to test the teeth of prospective slaves, and that it resembled "wood soaked in vinegar" that only after biting on for some time softened enough that it was recognizable as edible (Galeotti).
Rowing might be better for upper body development than a benchbro routine.
The fact they lived through those conditions is a miracle no less incredible than impressive than magnets, if the Insane Clown Posse could be considered a credible source on magnets. Not only did they live, but there are reports of freed slaves thriving post-slavery, probably on riding a wave of badassery and with the knowledge they likely could have supported themselves on nothing more than impromptu armwrestling matches in bars after forging their pipes in the fire of twenty hour rowing stretches in the windowless hull of some godawful Spanish galleon. Thus, we have a couple of examples of people subsisting on inadequate nutrition and violently overtraining in such a way as to give them what according to the University of Leeds as superhuman strength and endurance. It gets better, though- much better.
Though not slaves, indentured servants, 20 year olds crushed under massive student loan debt, or any other similarly unfree situation, the Egyptian citizens who built the pyramids deserve a bit of examination. Though one might not think of ancient Egyptian citizens as necessarily titans of strength, but conscripted peasants formed the armies that allowed Egypt to enjoy three thousand years of screwing over the rest of the region, hyena god worship, killer mummy creation, The Rock in a leather loincloth, and what they did best, pyramid building. The citizens of Egypt, then, had to be badasses, but they were not simply bad- they were brutally strong and well conditioned.
They definitely appear to have had some broad-ass shoulders.
Doubt me? Well, consider this- in just 20 years, Egyptian citizens installed roughly 800 tons of stone block every day, fitting it with a level of precision that only the best modern stonemasons could match. For those two decades, the brutal little badasses (the average Egyptian man was 5'2") moved and set 2.3 million limestone and granite blocks weighing up to 80 tons (Great Pyramid). If that weren't impressive enough, they also built the Valley Temple, a feat modern engineers say we could not duplicate because the cranes that could lift the 200 ton blocks could not operate in the small space the temple occupies. The Egyptians apparently did it with block and tackle, brute strength, and if the lunatic on the History Channel is to be believed, aliens.
Given that roughly 800 men were involved just in the moving and fitting of the stone blocks (uphill, mind you) in the pyramid, each man moved roughly a ton of stone a considerable distance per day. That would require a pretty hefty caloric intake, one would think, but the Egyptians were used to making do on a diet that usually consisted of little more than ten loaves of bread a day and a lot of stout beer, which they often combined to make a sour porridge (Tyldesley, Acharya). The laborers on the pyramids, however, enjoyed a substantially more robust diet that consisted of a whopping 67 grams of protein, half of which came from a variety of meat sources specially provided for the pyramid laborers and the other half of which came from legumes (Vloet, Jarus, Bukker). If the protein provided 20% of their calories, those little brown nutjobs were only eating 1340 calories a day in the midst of dragging a ton of stone a day up a 120' slope, and if it only comprised 10% of their calories they were still only getting 2600 a day, a number so low for the effort expended that the idea that they ate considerably more and better than their fellow countrymen makes me think we ought to desecrate the remains of every mummy on the planet, because the pharaohs were dicks.
If the pharaohs were dicks, though, they can't hold a candle to the epically turgid phalluses that are modern private prison management corporations, who feed prison inmates crap that resembles actual food about as much as Paris Hilton resembles an intelligent human being. Though prison diets vary from state to state, "Typical meal items include three to four ounces of meat, a half cup serving of vegetables, three-quarters of a cup of starch, three-quarters of a cup of salad with dressing, a bread item, a beverage and a dessert. A typical evening's fare may consist of a portion of baked, breaded chicken breast, rice pilaf, carrots, a salad, a dinner roll with butter, Iced tea, and pudding or gelatin" (Waite). Going off of that, inmates are eating roughly 60 grams of protein a day if they're not in isolation (where they are fed a godawful lump of "food" called Nutraloaf), and interestingly enough, 90 grams of protein if they are in isolation. This diet, which costs only $2.50 a day, still enabled inmates to get jacked enough that Kali Muscle is a name everyone in every gym knows, Jim Williams, one the greatest benchers ever, used prison as a powerlifting training camp, and conservatives got so piss-scared by the size and strength of the felons coming out of prison that they removed weights from most of the gyms (Franklin).
Jim Williams- the only man in history who contest prep plan began with "commit felony".
Given that I've never actually seen the inside of a prison and have no first-hand experience with felons beyond my limited interactions with the people who work at Jiffy Lube when getting my oil changed, I thought I'd ask a guy who did. The following is Grimmtano's take on inmate dieting and exercise, knowledge he's obtained after working as a cop in a county correctional facility for a few years.
Compared to the dietary standards (lack thereof) of slaves, laborers and other downtrodden people of eras past, the modern diet of the average American inmate is a blessing from the gods themselves. But the gods do not give mankind anything without hiding a turd in it and if you are looking for a night of hot kielbasa and biscuits soaked in gravy during lockdown, get ready to jerk off Tyrone after he smuggles it in his ass because it’s not on the menu (Club fed excluded because suck a rich guy’s dick, peasants).
Now, prison/jail diets vary from state to state and this is not an all encompassing write up on all things handcuffs and sadness. As for myself, I only have direct experience with the Florida system. But apart from local colloquialisms and rules of conduct, it’s all the same crap at the end of the day. Three hots (sometimes two, based on budgets) and a cot are the standard and making both of those as cheap as possible without pissing off too many bleeding hearts gets the brownie points in elections. There are the occasional allegations of all kinds of unsavory things in food, such as: hair balls, rocks, cardboard, bread ties, worms, human feces(someone didn’t jerk off Tyrone). From experience, rocks, bugs, and a partial lizard frog thing (it’s Florida, bro) are rare but it happens from time to time.
Cornbread for protein? Shoot it, son!
An average setup for a meal would look like this:
- Roughly 4 ounces of meat...this meat is not some grass-fed cow rump glazed in $6 butter that CrossTitters go mad about either. Frankly, you’re lucky if it is actual meat and not meat flavored soy.
- ½ cup veggies
- ¾ of a starch
- Cookie, because bitches like cookies
From my personal experience, breakfast is a couple hard boiled eggs, milk, one fruit, switching from grits to oatmeal to cereal. Lunch and dinner with often follow a similar structure to the above bulleted menu with extra desserts on holidays (because suicide rates do go up in jail during the holiday. Razorblade insanity.) Oh, and lest you think that the already mundane entrees are beneath you and decide to pitch a spoiled child fit about it, you can always get a big block of Nutraloaf for a week. Imagine taking all the food off your tray, blending it all together, cooking it loaf style and serving it back to you with no salt, pepper, or even a toothpick. You get all the nutrition a human requires but goddamn, it’s not tasty and only the extremely demented actually enjoy eating it. But those guys wear their own feces on their heads as hats so I’d just buy canteen and move along.
So,. why bring this up? They all seem to eat pretty well on paper. What does this have to do with you? It has everything to do with your retarded ass! In modern society, the school system and the prison system are the closest thing, outside of being a stinking, impoverished, tranny hobo, that you are going to get to a restricted diet that is mostly controlled by someone other than yourself. Even the school system doesn’t stop your fat ass kid from eating food from home and then smashing two trays of pizza and chocolate milk like it is going out of business. Well, maybe in California….they get all health nazi sometimes. While there are some well to do inmates that have enough money and pull to get drugs and infinite canteen (think prison 7-11) funds, your average Joe isn’t going to roll like that unless he’s shanking dicks or sucking them. He is going to have to make due on the blandest, estrogen inducing chow in the smallest portions the kitchen can get away with three times a day and hope his baby momma remembers to stop screwing Tyrone long enough to put money in his account. Yes, Tyrone gets around a lot. He’s at your girls house while you read this. Hell, he screwed you a few times.
Once he gets this money, his canteen orders will be filled with naught but peanut butter, vienna sausages, honey buns and anything else he can eek some half decent macros off. This is where your average “strength trainee” pops back into this tirade. If you haven’t surmise where I’m going with this, I’ll lay it out for you. You spend hundreds of dollars on the best protein powder, BCAA, some asshole’s training PDF where half of it is spent talking about feelings, and at the end of it all, you still look like utter dogcrap and your kids are going to piss in your mouth while you sleep for not buying them shoes for school.
An inmate has very few options to train (mostly because they fight a lot so Daddy took the weights away in some places) so they make due with what they have. Bodyweight exercises, partner routines, making a water bag for lifting, dip/pull bars or bench pressing your bunk mate in his bunk (yea, it looks as gay as it sounds) make up the majority of the lifting that goes down in Florida facilities. However, it’s not what they do but how often they do it and the vigor at which they do. The day literally boils down to wake up, eat, go back to sleep, wake up, go to yard workout, sleep, eat, do 500 push ups at the bunk, eat, sleep, repeat. Pounding back 5 honeybuns a day is usually a recipe for fat over penis syndrome but I can attest to a 45 yr old cocaine addict putting guys 20 years younger to shame on the pull up bar on a diet of peanut butter and honeybuns. It’s amazing what dietary shenanigans you can get away with when you sleep 13 hours a day and kiss ass in the interim to the next wet dream.
So, where does this put us? It puts us squarely in the "shut up and stop whining, wuss" phase of the article. Given the examples I've provided, you can build massive stone structures, train heavily for multiple hours a day, set world records in powerlifting, and get into a Geico commercial on a diet most people would consider insufficient to power your average couch potato. Moreover, eating clean or eating to bulk doesn't have to cost an arm and a leg provided you find something you're willing to eat over and over and do just that- variety might be the spice of life, but it's hardly necessary to power greatness.
Over the years my go-to poverty food was whole roasted chicken. Whole roasted chickens cost less than a dollar a pound uncooked, and then I just rubbed them down with butter, salt, pepper, and garlic, then stuffed more of the same into the chicken's ass. I'd roast a couple of them a day in the oven and snack on them all day. Total cost was probably on the order of three dollars a day, and I was getting over 3000 calories and over 300 grams of protein a day. Add a couple of protein shakes to that and for $4-$5 a day you're getting 3500 calories and 400 grams of protein. Though I now despise it, I ate a hell of a lot of canned chicken back in the day, and canned tuna is practically free, provided you've got no sense of smell, taste buds, or respect for your fellow man. Chaos and Pain's resident graphic designer and top ranked powerlifter, Sin, bulked from about 90 lbs to 135 over two years by training like a maniac and eating the same, incredibly bland but effective diet of baked chicken and veggies- her secret was simply keeping an eye on what was on sale and only eating seasonal vegetables. Other guys I know have lived almost exclusively off milk and eggs and peanut butter sandwiches and bulked effectively.
I've written at very great length about the effectiveness of stews for bulking, and they've been the mainstay of every civilization's diet throughout the history of cooked food. John McCallum also wrote years ago about his uncle's "Souped-up Soup", which was his method for economically adding a ton of nutrition to his diet. The soup was made in the following way:
John McCallums's "Souped-up Soup"
- Don't throw out any parings from food prep. Get a plastic bag and save all of the vegetable parings, and when the bag gets full, make the soup.
- Save all of the bones and scraps from your meat food prep. Store in a plastic bag in the freezer for use in your soup. Since you're going to want to eat your soupe with every meal, however, McCallum suggests you buy soup bones from the butcher. At my local supermarket they sell for less than a buck a pound, and every dog I've ever met loves them as a snack, entertainment, and a way to supplement their diet.
- Use a cleaver or hatchet to chop up the bones finely.
- Put two quarts of water into a big soup pot.
- Add a couple of tablespoons of vinegar and a tablespoon of salt. This is essential to draw out the calcium from the bones and the nutrients from the veggies. The vingear will boil off, lest you worry.
- Boil for four hours.
- Strain out all of the bits and pieces with a fine strainer.
- The remaining stock is what you'll use to make the soup, and McCallum claims if you just drank that you'd triple your nutrient intake.
- Put the stock in a clean pot and chop up the veggies you want- he suggests carrots, celery, onions, potatoes, garlic, and turnips.
- Simmer the veggies until they start to soften, then add three lbs of chicken wings, short ribs, stewing beef, or any kind of meat you like. If you want to go cheap, buy what's onsale and use that.
- Continue simmering until the meat is tender.
- Take two cups of water and dissolve in as much skim milk powder as will go into solution. Stir that into the soup.
- Simmer 5 minutes, then add a pound of ground beef, which will cook almost instantly.
Though he doesn't provide the nutrition count from that, you're looking at a soup that likely contains between 350 and 450 grams of protein that you use simply to supplement your existing meals, not to mention the incredible nutrition coming from the stock- the bones alone add 6.5 grams of protein and 4 grams of fat apiece. Made with meat that's on sale, I cannot imagine it would cost more than $20 to make, and it would provide you with at least 8 meals or meal supplements.
Contemporary analysis shows the Vikings ate about as much as Hafthor Bjornsson did. You might want to get on that soup, bro. The Vikings definitely did.
So there you have it- you can do a hell of a lot with very little if need be, but it shouldn't be too hard to get a hell of a lot of nutrition with very little money. Either way, there's no excuse for failing to be awesome- your success relies entirely on how goddamned badly you want it. Our forebearers seriously wanted it, so they tore it up fueled by nothing but hate, liquor, and bean stew. We could, and should, be able to outdo them, so hike up your goddamned skirt and get after it.
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