The Myth of the Perfect Male Body

george clooney photoshop man

I recently wrote an article about how the media has influenced our perception of what the ideal woman’s body should look like by using photo-shop to enhance normal faces and bodies to resemble their idea of “perfection.” As a result, women have put themselves through dangerous surgery, injections, lifts, starvation diets, implants, nips, tucks, liposuction, fake hair, fake nails, fake lashes….all in the hope of attaining the impossible.

Unfortunately, when all we see is “perfection” on magazine covers, TV commercials, movies, and TV shows, we come to believe that the perfect look is attainable and normal.  For 1% of the adult population, a 5’10” body with perfect hair, bone structure, a 24” waist, and 36D breasts, no wrinkles, no blemishes, blinding white teeth, and legs that “go on forever” is a reality; for the rest of us, it is an impossibility.  Women live their entire lives feeling inadequate and hating themselves and their bodies because they just can’t measure up..

Men are also suffering from the myth of the perfect body.  The image of a man’s body with ripped muscles, a tiny waist, a full head of hair, a tan, a six pack, and the perfect butt has become an obsession for boys as young as teens to men as old as seniors.  But the fact is, this body, like the ideal female body, is not attainable for the vast majority of men.

I decided it’s time to help the guys get a realistic perspective on what a healthy, natural, toned, athletic, in- shape body looks like.  Most men desire to build some muscle.  But let’s be serious….some of this muscle is obviously enhanced…

batman old batman new


arnold before steroids arnold after steroids

For those who wish to get toned, lean, athletic build….and look realistic:

How to determine the protein requirement for a male desiring to build muscle mass?

A common misconception is that consuming very large amounts of protein will help in developing very large muscles!  The truth is, the human body can handle a certain amount of protein on a daily basis.   Protein grams over and above that maximum amount will not build more muscle mass.

Extreme high protein diets do not help improve muscle strength or aid in training. In fact, high protein diets can have negative effects:

Proteins contain nitrogen. When nitrogen is broken down in the liver it creates ammonia. Ammonia is poisonous. The increased level of ammonia in the body is harmful to cells and may decrease an athlete’s performance.

Clearing excessive amounts of protein can put undo stress on the kidneys .

Calcium loss, which leads to osteoporosis, occurs with excessive levels of protein intake.

How much protein does an average adult require on a daily basis?

The Recommended Daily Allowance of protein for an adult is .8 grams per kg of ideal body weight. This is equivalent to .36 grams of protein per pound of ideal body weight.  The average adult male requires about 56 grams protein/day while the average female requires about 46 grams protein per day.  These amounts seem very low.  For some reason, we’ve come to think that very high allotments of protein will make us healthier and stronger.

The most recommended protein percentage from daily calories is about 15-20% per day.  A person who has an intake of 1800 calories per day would have 68-90 grams of protein daily. The maximum protein percentage should be 25% of daily calorie requirement and this would be considered a High Protein diet for someone pursuing muscle building with weight training.

Accurate Way to Calculate Calories for the day:

  1. Find your Basal energy expenditure:  BEE refers to the calories needed for your body to maintain life (no physical activity):
  2. When you get that answer, multiply your BEE by the physical activity calories that match your daily activity to find your total calorie requirement/day. Daily calorie needs including activity:

An example of figuring calorie requirement and protein recommendation for the Weight Lifting Man

A 28 year old male who is 5’11” and wants to weigh 175 pounds and is willing to work out 5 times/week would have a calorie requirement of about 3000 calories/day.  (I plugged his variables into the calculators listed above for his gender, height, desired weight, age, and physical activity).

The highest amount of protein I allot for weight lifters actively trying to amass muscle is 25% of calorie allotment per day.    For our client…his maximum protein /day would be approximately 180 grams. (This amounts to about 24% protein/day).

Protein Overkill

Many weight lifters consume well over 35% of their calories from protein (some even more!).  35% of 3000 calories would be 263 grams of protein/day!  This is a very excessive amount of protein, hard on the kidneys, and will not contribute to a greater amount of muscle gain.

natural vs steroids

So how do those guys build enough muscle to resemble The Hulk?

Anabolic Steroid Use. Anabolic steroids are synthetic versions of testosterone, the body’s natural sex hormone. Male hormones such as testosterone and its metabolite di-hydrotestosterone are responsible for the developmental changes that occur within the male body through adolescence. Steroids have anabolic (building) and androgenic (sex hormone) properties.  The can be taken by mouth or injected.

Some of the androgenic effects include changes in sexual characteristics such as shrinking of the testicles, increased hair growth on the body and face, hair loss on the head, increased aggressiveness.

Steroid users are not looking for those androgenic side effects, but they come with the package.  Athletes are primarily concerned with the anabolic characteristics of steroids including accelerated development of the muscles, connective tissues, bones, and red blood cells.


Steroidal Effects

The stimulus provided during weight training is necessary for maximum muscle development, but steroids possess the inherent ability to build muscle with or without such training.

By increasing the user’s endurance, steroids enable athletes to train much harder, for longer periods of time, and accelerate muscle recovery. This allows the athlete to speed up muscle building at a rate far beyond normal capacity.

Because anabolic steroids are derivatives of the testosterone, their use decreases natural testosterone secretion. Once the body senses and registers the presence of steroids, it responds by ceasing natural testosterone production. This is when the testicles shrink. Similarly, discontinuation of steroid use causes the body to re-initiate its own production of testosterone.  However, there is a significant delay between these events during which time steroid users rapidly lose strength, endurance, and size

The negative effects of taking or injecting anabolic steroids can be devastating. They range from a minor case of oily skin, to major long-term health complications, and potentially death. (Below, Lyle Alzado…dead from brain cancer linked to steroid use).

lyle az

 Physical changes from anabolic steroid use:

  • Unusually greasy hair or oily skin (often with stretch marks on the inner joints)
  • Small red or purplish acne, especially on the shoulders and back
  • Gynecomastia, the abnormally excessive development of the breast tissue in males
  • Persistent bad breath
  • Thinning hair throughout the head or receding hairline (male pattern baldness)
  • Increased length and thickness in hair (on body parts other than the head)
  • Jaundice or yellowing of the skin; (may signal liver damage)
  • Skin eruptions and infections, such as abscesses, boils, and cysts
  • Drastic appetite shifts (extreme hunger)
  • Joint pain (greater chance of injuring muscles and tendons)
  • Disrupted sleep patterns (not sleeping well or sleeping too much)
  • Bloating of the face and body
  • Night sweats or heavy sweating
  • Rapid or progressive weight gain
  • Increased muscle size (sudden or progressive)
  • Hyperactivity
  • Trouble urinating; discoloration or blood in urine
  • Extreme mood swings
  • Increased aggression or irritability
  • Becomes disrespectful or abusive
  • Depression (usually when steroids are discontinued)
  • Hallucinations
  • Paranoia – extreme feelings of mistrust or fear

Anabolic steroids used for body building are typically taken in amounts 40% or more than the recommended amount of steroids used to tread medical conditions.  They are sometimes taken orally and injected.  They can cause liver tumors, increases in liver enzymes, liver damage.

Anabolic steroids can contribute to testes shrinkage and erectile dysfunction.  Although they increase sexual desire, they have been known to decrease sexual performance.

They have been linked to prostate cancer, type 2 diabetes, male infertility, and thyroid issues.

 Dangerous Withdrawal?

Anabolic steroid users may develop a dependency on the drug.  Withdrawal symptoms include aggressive and violent behavior, depression, suicide, mood swings, acute psychosis.

What to do?

My advice to men and women of all ages.  Always strive to attain your best possible health (well-being of mind, body, spirit).  A person who is as healthy as possible will look “their best.”  Your inside is reflected on your outside.  When you have a healthy mind, you radiate peace and a natural glow from within.  When you have health of body, you will reach and maintain YOUR desired weight, have normal labs with as little medication as possible, and have energy to do the things you need and want to do.  When you have health of spirit, you tend to share your good vibes with others and inspire others to be their best.

Eat well (lean protein, heart healthy fat, low glycemic carbohydrates foods in balanced proportions)

Exercise daily (at least 30 minutes activity over and above your normal activity on a daily basis.

Get some sun (15 minutes in the daylight/day helps your Vitamin D and immunity

Drink water and decaf fluid (at least 64 ounces/day)

Focus on Fiber (more than 25 grams/day) found in fresh vegetables, fruits, whole grains, legumes.

Limit processed foods; focus on eating clean with as little preservatives, added sugar, chemicals as possible

Take a multi-vitamin daily

Stay positive

Snack throughout the day to keep metabolic rate and energy high and blood sugar stable.  Plan on eating a meal or small snack every 3-4 hours.  Good snacks: Greek yogurt, fresh fruit, cheese stick, natural peanut butter on whole grain crackers, 3/4 cup cereal with unsweetened almond milk.

At each meal focus on some combination of lean protein, fresh or frozen vegetables, fresh fruit, whole grains/legumes, healthy fat (oil, olives, avocado, nuts, seeds).

Minimize your intake of sugar and added sugar.

Be positive and think good thoughts

Be happy with who you are, or do something to make yourself a better version of you.


Love Diane Kress’ work?  Here are links to her books and support site!

 The Metabolism Miracle:

The Metabolism Miracle Cookbook:

The Metabolism Miracle Update:  (Brand new!)

The Diabetes Miracle:

The Interactive Support Group for Followers of The Metabolism Miracle and The Diabetes Miracle:








About Diane Kress

Author of The New York Times Bestseller; The Metabolism Miracle, The Metabolism Miracle Cookbook, and The Diabetes Miracle. and The Metabolism Miracle, Revised Edition. Owner, developer, and administrator of The Metabolism Miracle's support site: Registered Dietitian, Certified Diabetes Educator, Email:
This entry was posted in Uncategorized and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s