Guest Blog Post: Marc Halpern gives us Dietary Insights on MMS

Marc is not only a good friend, but one of the best minds in nutrition. What I love about him is that he is so easy to understand and he sets me up to succeed. Mass Made Simple ignores dietary issues besides eating everything in sight. I get asked questions daily about Paleo MMS, Vegan MMS and some other issue. Marc steps up here to explain it all and more!

Marc Halpern

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801 558 4286

Mass Made Simple


The program works.  In fact, it works really well.  However, to get maximum results, nutrition really has to play a big role.  Before I did the program, I was excited to get to eat however much I wanted.  Midway through the second week, I had a staring contest one night with the fourth PBJ of the day.  How could I possibly eat it, I can’t eat anymore!  I’d argue that putting on serious mass is harder than losing fat.  I’ve done both, and I can honestly say I struggled more with gaining weight on the program than I ever did losing weight.  I did make some changes after the second week that really helped me through the program, both mentally and physically.  I also understand that there are challenges for certain people in terms of the food recommended.  Those who are gluten sensitive, dairy sensitive, and vegans need to make some changes.  Let’s first look at overall habits to help you through the program, than I will provide some ideas for substituting foods.

General Habits to make part of the 6 weeks:

  1.  We must start with the “is it plugged in?” question that computer techs always ask the customer.  If you do not have the proper items in your kitchen, you can’t possibly do the program right.  The essentials:  crock pot, microwave, blender,  3-6 shaker bottles,  2 pots, 2 pans, 3-5 plates, 3-5 bowls, 3-5 forks/knives/spoons.  The reason I mention the numbers is because when you come home from a tough workout and your pan is dirty and there are no clean plates, it is easy to just not eat.     I would even suggest more than 1 crockpot, as they can get tricky to clean.
  2. For fat loss clients, I try to make the environment as easy as possible to avoid overeating and eating without thinking.  For this program, we want the opposite.  If the environment is right, we can eat all day without realizing how much we consumed.  This is important for gaining weight.  Keep things out at your desk to nibble on, eat directly out of a package or serving bowl, switch to bigger plates, and always keep shaker bottles with a few scoops of protein handy than all you have to do is add water.  Research tells us that our bodies can’t tell the difference between 20% over or under consuming.  We want to ride right under that 20% over consuming mark all day.
  3. Don’t get sick.  These workouts are draining, and if you don’t keep pace with the calories, you are bound to get sick.  If you know a certain type of food bothers you, eliminate it, as consuming it can compromise your immune system.  It may also be wise to take a multivitamin during the program.  A much underrated habit is hand washing and sanitation at the gym.  During a tough program, you are just more likely to get sick no matter what you do nutritionally. Wash your hands after your workout, wear warm clothes out the door if it is the winter, and carry clean wipes in your car and gym bag.
  4. Have a plan to lean out a bit after the program.  Gaining weight was not comfortable for me, as someone who used to be overweight.  I had a plan setup in advance of how to drop the small amount of added fat and enjoy the muscle I had worked for.  This was mentally easier on me.   I went from 160 to 180, and afterward leaned out to a slim 170.
  5. There are big differences between teenagers doing this program and adults (25>).  Food choices for teenagers are not that important, despite what people think.  I had an 18 year old hockey player go through this program and literally ate whole pizzas and rotisserie chickens like it was a snack.  Gained a ton of muscle, and actually seemed to get leaner.  For me, I put on some fat but also a good amount of muscle.  For those of you who are afraid of gaining a bit of fat, food choices are more important.

Special Dietary Considerations

High repetition back squats are hard!  They are especially hard when your digestive system isn’t happy.  If you suspect something is bothering you, eliminate that food and find out what it is before starting the program.  Many people are gluten sensitive, which does not always show up on tests.  Dairy is another common one.

Gluten Free


  1.    The peanut butter and jelly sandwiches are there for a reason.  They are convenient, pack a big calorie punch, and add some protein and carbs to fuel your body.  I would encourage you to stay away from gluten free breads.  Not only are they dry and crumbly, but they are not very healthy for you.  Instead, try this:  Whip plain full fat Greek Yogurt with a scoop of peanut butter (or almond butter) together until completely blended.  It is easier to eat because it is not dry at all, and tastes like peanut butter pie filling.  You can throw one big Tupperware of this together and use as needed.  Even better, take frozen raspberries or blueberries and heat them in the microwave for 30-60s, so they are slightly melted.  Whip those in for even more nutrients and taste!
  2.    Quinoa is a gluten free grain-like seed, with taste and texture a blend between rice and couscous.    It is a complete protein, meaning it has all of the amino acids your body needs to build muscle.  The nice thing about quinoa is that you can have it hot or cold.  Add this to your meals, throw it in the crockpot, or have it as a cold salad.  For on the go snacks, having Tupperware with cold quinoa mixed with some veggies would be a nice option.  Use a 2 to 1 ratio, water to quinoa, and heat to a boil, let simmer, and just keep an eye on it until it absorbs the water (20 min or so).  It also does fine in the crockpot.
  3.    I highly recommend  She has tons of recipes on things with protein powder.  Some are super easy and convenient, and I haven’t made a bad thing yet from that site.  Most of the recipes are gluten free, and many are dairy free.

Dairy Free

  1.    Depending on the level of dairy intolerance, yogurt and cheese may be tolerated.  However, if they are not, go ahead and use the Greek yogurt/peanut butter recipe but just ditch the yogurt and be sure to add the berries.  It is still delicious.
  2.   Wash it down with a glass of coconut milk (chocolate or vanilla is fine, for other programs watching calories it can be an issue).  Almond milk is also an option here.
  3.     For protein powder, it really depends on your tolerance to whey or casein (both milk proteins).  Just because you are milk intolerant doesn’t always mean you will not tolerate the protein.  However, if you want to be safe, other options include egg, hemp, or pea protein powders.


  1.     First, vegan means that you eat vegetables.  If you eat nothing but bread and potatoes, you aren’t a vegan you just have a poor diet. You will bulk up, but you will have a wakeup call trying to lean out.  This isn’t a post about how to be a vegan, just suggestions for getting through this program.
  2.      Not too much to add to the snacks, because the peanut/almond butter and berry combo will work great, as will the quinoa and hemp/pea protein powders.
  3.      The key to the whole program is increasing your carbohydrates and protein to support the workouts and overall calories must be in a surplus to put on mass.  Doing this as a vegan may be tougher and require more preparation, but it can be done.  If you don’t already, add in soy tempeh to your meal plans.  Also, emphasize things like avocado, nuts, rice, and beans.  The goal is to just eat more.  By increasing your meal size, adding more protein, and consuming the snacks between meals, you should be on the right track.  Use the suggestions in the beginning of the post to help you eat more.
  4.   I know you can get all of your nutrients from a vegan diet when planned properly.  However, during this program your nutrient needs are elevated.  Without getting too complicated, take a multivitamin to make sure your B vitamins and mineral needs are taken care of.

Hopefully these ideas can help you through the program.  These are merely suggestions based on personal experience and expertise.  It is in no way an exhaustive list.  If anything, I hope it at least encourages you that the program can be done regardless of dietary restrictions or choices.  Everybody has a unique situation, but there are no excuses, go squat!

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