Written by PJ Braun
16 November 2022





Getting Enough Protein to Build Muscle

By PJ Braun


I am punishing my body daily, and feeding myself HARD. You got to eat big to get big.


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For those of you who missed my first article back since being incarcerated, I went over my trials and tribulations of transportation from prison to prison until I got to my current and final BOP [Federal Bureau of Prisons]destination in Montgomery, Alabama. As I said before, I went from 230 lean to 210 “skinny fat” and then gained over 20 pounds eating and training hard, even though I do not have access to real weights and equipment. I thought I would break down how I am eating, since many people won’t understand what the commissary is and how it works, but how it’s essential for bodybuilding in here. 


The prison provides you with three meals a day – breakfast, lunch and dinner. Breakfast is Bran Flakes, milk and a piece of fruit. Lunch and dinner vary and will have roughly 20-25 grams of protein per meal, depending on the day. So, if you are only eating the provided food and you are trying to be a bodybuilder, gains are going to be next to impossible. This is where the commissary comes in. The commissary is available for inmates to shop once per week. There is a catch. The monthly spending limit is $360. It does not matter if you are balling on the outside or if your family and loved ones want to dump money in your account over and over; you can’t spend more than $360 per month. This includes everything you need as far as cheese, meats, crackers, rice, beans, chips, sauces, spreads, juices, coffee, soups, oatmeal, cereal, nuts, cookies, candy as well as all your hygiene products from laundry detergent to deodorant, soap, hair and skin care, etc.

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I have broken my diet down into “bang for my buck” in protein requirements. Cost efficiency is key for success in here. Everyone in prison raves over mackerel, to the point it was even used as inmate currency at one point, lol. When reading the label, I found that mackerel only had 18 grams of protein per serving, as opposed to the chunk tuna that has 31 grams per serving. The tuna is only slightly more expensive, so I stock up, big time. The next best option is the health shake packet, which comes with 24 grams of whey concentrate per serving. Unfortunately, the health shakes also have 20 grams of carbs, mostly from sugar, so when I double up to get 48 grams of protein I am also spiking my blood sugar.


I decided to break my sentence down in to three phases so I could best approach my diet while I am in here. Phase one is my building phase, focused on signaling muscle memory. Because I was out of the gym for so long and abandoned testosterone replacement as well as growth hormone, I went through quite a shrinking phase. I believe that in order to get my muscle to not only stop atrophying but wake up from the hibernation it’s been in, I have to train as heavy as possible and consume as much protein as possible – and make up for the rest of the calories with a combo of carbs and fats to fuel my efforts. Since it is very difficult to get more than 180-200 grams of protein daily, I have kept the carbs and fats moderately high as well, and have just trained as hard as I can for 90 minutes every morning. Remember, I must make do with what I have so before I worry about how lean and appealing I can look in the mirror, I have to do the work to get the muscle back first. This is much different than just starting from scratch; I have 29 years of weight training that will make things much different. I would do things differently if I had never worked out before.


My prison diet is as follows:


Meal 1: Chow line; this meal varies but an example would be a chicken patty sandwich, a hamburger or a chicken thigh and leg with either the bun from the sandwich, or rice and beans on the “bird day,” which is Thursday and everyone’s favorite day in the BOP.


Meal 2: 2 health shakes


Meal 3: 1 packet of tuna, one package of ramen noodles mixed with a tablespoon of mayonnaise and a tablespoon of peanut butter.


Meal 4: Chow line dinner; this meal is usually some sort of chicken and rice meal or chicken and noodles. We always have beans and some sort of vegetable like green beans.


Meal 5: Usually I repeat the tuna meal


Meal 6: 2 health shakes


In between, I usually have a banana when they are available and if one of the inmates is cooking something fancy, I will indulge as well. It’s amazing how well these guys cook with basic things in the commissary. I have never had better Stromboli in my life; ha-ha.


On top of my aggressive eating, I have access to a multivitamin as well as vitamin C, E and a B complex. I double the dosage and do one in the morning as well as one in the evening. I was having some issues with digestion, which I have a strong feeling is from being off my probiotics and Glycolog. I trained my gut to be very intuitive over the years and I have always praised Glycolog as the most important supplement I have ever released, so the removal of those two important supplements has really affected me.


I am often bloated and tired. I am regular as far as bowel movements daily, but my stomach does not feel the way it used to, and I have some distention so I have decided to get into some intermittent fasting again like I did on the streets. I am hovering in the 250s feeling big and strong, but have more body fat than I need, but for this phase I am focused on eating big and training hard.

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The results are coming, but it’s much different than when I was on test and GH, and I want to share something that was said to me a very long time ago. Do not make the jump to injectable testosterone until you can accept that it is something you will do for life. You will never be the same, mentally or physically, and even if you stop and are a perfectly healthy 40-year-old, you’re still 40 and going to feel 40 – and when you are used to feeling like a superhuman 20-year-old, you will hate it. This was from a very intelligent man and original mentor named Rene Abreu. I have no choice but to suffer with the crash and low T that I will be dealing with my entire sentence, so I have accepted the gains are going to come slow and steady, which makes the training aspect that much more important.


I learned the last few years how to train not only smarter but not quite as hard, because I did not need to. I learned to squeeze and feel and get the pump and leave. That won’t work now and I am punishing my body daily, so I am feeding myself HARD. You got to eat big to get big.


I will explain my wild workout routine in the next issue! This will be one of the most bizarre and unorthodox routines you have ever read, but I have been loving it. Until next time, thank you, loyal readers. Peace out; bye.


Instagram @pjbraunfitness



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