Teriyaki-Glazed Salmon with Stir-Fried Vegetables

Teriyaki-Glazed Salmon with Stir-Fried Vegetables

Ingredients:

For Salmon:

2 Tbsp. light teriyaki sauce
¼ C Mirin (or sweet rice wine)
2 Tbsp. rice vinegar
2 Tbsp. scallions (green onions), rinsed and minced
1½ Tbsp. ginger, minced (or 1 tsp. ground)
12 oz. salmon fillets, cut into 4 portions (3 oz. each)

For vegetables:

1 bag (12 oz.) frozen vegetable stir-fry
½ Tbsp. peanut oil or vegetable oil
½ Tbsp. garlic, minced (about 1 clove)
1 Tbsp. ginger, minced (or 1 teaspoon ground)
1 Tbsp. scallions (green onions), rinsed and minced
1 Tbsp. lite soy sauce

Directions

1. Thaw frozen vegetables in the microwave (or place entire bag in a bowl of hot water for about 10 minutes). Set aside until step 7.
2. Preheat oven to 350 ºF.
3. Combine teriyaki sauce, mirin, rice vinegar, scallions, and ginger. Mix well. Pour over salmon, and marinate for 10–15 minutes.
4. Remove salmon from the marinade, and discard unused portion.
5. Place salmon on a baking sheet, and bake for 10–15 minutes or until fish flakes easily with a fork in the thickest part (minimum internal temperature of 145 °F).
6. Meanwhile, heat oil in a large wok or sauté pan. Add garlic, ginger, and scallions, and cook gently but do not brown, about 30 seconds to 1 minute.
7. Add vegetables, and continue to stir fry for 2–3 minutes or until heated through. Add soy sauce.
8. Serve one piece of salmon with 1 cup of vegetables.

The cost of getting lean: Is it really worth the trade-off?

The cost of getting lean:
Is it really worth the trade-off?

By Ryan Andrews & Brian St. Pierre

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Six-pack abs. Tight butts. Lean, vibrant, flawless health. That’s the image the fitness industry is selling. But have you ever wondered what it costs to achieve that “look”? What you have to do more of? And what you really have to give up?

Make no mistake, there are real trade-offs as you attempt to lose fat and improve your health. Let’s talk about what they are. So you can consider how to get the body you really want while living the life you really enjoy.

A tale of two clients

Not long ago, one of our successful clients — we’ll call him Bill — came to us with a question.

Now that he’d lost thirty pounds (going from 22% body fat to 15%), he could run up stairs and haul heavy bags of garden soil without getting winded.

He could genuinely enjoy weekend bike rides with friends. He could wear clothes he used to be able to fit into but had long given up as hopeless.

But what next?

“Don’t get me wrong,” Bill said. “I’m happy with the way I look and feel.”

It’s just that he also wanted six-pack abs.

“Oh, I don’t have to look like a cover model,” he mused. “It’s just that I’m really close to looking… awesome.”

Bill figured that with just a little extra work, and a little more time, the abs would start popping and his physique would be “finished”.

Meanwhile, another client, Anika, had the opposite concern.

She just wanted to lose a little weight, and get a little more fit.

But she worried that in order to do so, she’d have to give up everything, become a “health nut”, and make massive changes.

Changes that probably included 6 AM bootcamps, kale shakes, lemon juice cleanses, and 1000 situps a day… forever.

“No way,” thought Anika. “That’s too much work.”

Two common misperceptions

Our two client stories reflect two common misperceptions:

Myth #1:
With just a few small, easy, hopefully imperceptible changes to one’s diet and exercise routine, you too can have shredded abs, big biceps, and tight glutes, just like a magazine cover model.

Myth #2:
“Getting into shape” or “losing weight” involves painful, intolerable sacrifice, restriction, and deprivation.

Of course, neither of these are true.

Reality #1:
The process that helps you lose “the first 10 pounds” isn’t the same one that’ll help you lose “the last 10 pounds”. Indeed, it usually takes a lot more work as you get leaner.

Reality #2:
If you do aspire to “fitness model” or “elite athlete” lean, you might be surprised. Images are photoshopped for effect. Bodybuilders only look like that for competition. And achieving that look comes at a high cost; one most people aren’t willing to pay.

Reality #3:
However, if you’re okay not being on the next magazine cover and aspire to be “lean and healthy” even small adjustments can — over time — add up to noticeable improvements. Sometimes these improvements can change, perhaps even save, lives.

Do more of this (and less of that)

With that said, we’re about to share something a lot of people in fitness and health don’t want you to see.

It’s a chart outlining what it really takes to lose body fat, improve your health, move from one fitness category to the next.

Some fitness people think you’re too afraid. Or too weak. Or that you won’t buy their products and services if they’re honest with you.

We think otherwise.

We think it’s necessary to weigh the pros and cons so that you can make informed decisions about your body and your life.

Let’s start with the benefits and tradeoffs with each fitness level.

precision nutrtion cost getting lean benefits table The cost of getting lean: Is it really worth the trade off?

Now let’s talk about what you might consider doing more of (and less of).

precision nutrition cost getting lean do table The cost of getting lean: Is it really worth the trade off?

Bonus: We even created a cool infographic that summarizes this article. Click here for: The cost of getting lean illustrated. Is it really worth the trade-off?]

Your body, your choice

At some point, many of our coaching clients decide that being severely out of shape costs them too much energy, health, quality of life, and longevity. So they choose to change their behaviors and choices. With our help.

Other coaching clients decide that they want six-pack abs. Then, they discover that this option costs them something too. Some folks are willing to pay that cost. But most aren’t.

Even if you think you’d like that six-pack, it might turn out that you actually want something else a little bit more. And we wouldn’t blame you.

Here are the two basic principles:

1. If you want to make further changes to your body, you’ll need to make further changes to your behaviors.

2. The leaner you want to get, the more of your behaviors you’ll have to change. 

What you decide to change, and how much you decide to change it, is up to you. What’s most important here is that you understand what it actually takes to do what you want (or think you want).

What’s a healthy level of body fat, anyway?

First, for the sake of context, let’s take a look at some numbers.

Data tell us that most men can be healthy somewhere between 11 to 22% body fat. For women, its between 22-33%.

Right now in the U.S.,  the average man is about 28% fat, and the average woman is 40% fat.

In other words, the average adult in the U.S. (and throughout most of the West) is carrying a lot of excess body fat. Unhealthy levels of body fat.

Getting the process started

The good news is that it’s not that hard to go from over-fat to the higher end of “normal”.

You can do it with a few relatively small, easy-to-implement changes.

For instance:

  • drinking less soda or alcohol each day
  • not overeating desserts and fast foods (instead, just eating them in reasonable amounts)
  • taking a daily walk or adding a yoga class

Assuming there are no other factors involved (such as a chronic health problem), if you make a few small changes like these, and do them consistently, in six months to a year, your body fat percentage will drop and fall into a much healthier range.

Cool!

Now of course, not every change will feel simple, small, or easy. Especially when you start out.

You’ll need to put a little extra effort and energy into making those changes happen every day. And having a trainer or a coach support you — and hold you accountable — will probably help you feel more confident and on-track.

Nevertheless, if the changes are small enough, and you practice them consistently, you’ll probably find that eventually they’re just part of your regular routine.

In fact, one day in the future, you might even say, “I just don’t feel like myself without my daily walk!”

“Overweight” to “no-longer-overweight” to “lean”

Suppose you’ve made a few changes like this.

Maybe you pack an apple in your lunch instead of apple juice. Or you include a salad with dinner, or you stick to one or two drinks with friends.

And you’re feeling good! Your knees have stopped hurting, plus your pants now button comfortably.

Now you’re somewhere in the zone of “a little extra padding, but not too bad”. You’re more mobile, healthier, and high-fiving yourself.

What’s the next step?

Well, if you’re a man who wants to reduce body fat from 20% to 14% (or 14% to 8%), or a woman who wants to go from 30% to 24% (or 24% to 18%), you’ll need to make some bigger changes.

You’ll need to invest more time, energy, and effort. You’ll need to plan more.

And you’ll also have to make some trade-offs.

From “lean” to “leaner”

If you’re a man and you want to go from 20% to 14% body fat, or you’re a woman and you want to go from 30% body fat to 24%, it’s all a question of doing more…and less.

You’ll probably need to do more stuff, such as:

  • get more exercise and daily-life movement, and perhaps make that exercise more intense
  • eating more vegetables and lean protein
  • choosing more whole foods
  • doing more meal planning
  • getting serious about rest and recovery
  • learning your physical hunger and fullness cues

You’ll probably need to do less stuff, such as:

  • drinking less alcohol and other high-calorie beverages
  • eating less processed foods
  • not eating when you’re not physically hungry

And you’ll need to make these small changes consistently, over a period of time.

Many folks will decide that these changes are worth making. They want to look and feel better, get a good night’s sleep, get off medications, and so forth. So they’re ready to compromise.

Other folks will decide that they’re not yet ready to make more adjustments. And that’s fine too.

The most important thing is that you realize: In order to change…you have to change.

What it takes to get “super-lean”

At next stage — going from athletically lean to bodybuilder lean — the tradeoffs get even more serious.

Here’s something that you may not realize:

Elite bodybuilders getting ready for a contest and models getting ready for a shoot are basically in a slow starvation process.

Adhering to an extremely strict and precise regimen of eating and training (and perhaps adding some drugs into the mix) is the only way way they can drop their body fat to extremely low levels.

Males can get to body fat levels under 6% with this process, and females can get to under 16%.

But this process is not for the faint of heart.

It goes against biological cues. It requires exercising when exhausted. It demands ignoring their desire for food in the face of powerful hunger cues. It involves intense focus and dedication.

And it often distracts from other areas of life that these athletes might enjoy and value.

Imagine all the practical things that are involved in very strict dieting and training.

  • You have to make your own food and measure every meal down to the last gram.
  • That food is generally very plain — lean protein, steamed vegetables, plain potatoes or rice, etc.
  • You have to carry that food with you so you can eat at a precise time.
  • You cannot eat in restaurants.
  • You have to do a specific workout on a given day, exactly as specified.
  • No sick days, no slacking.
  • You’ll probably be training 2 or 3 times per day.
  • You have to sleep and recover precisely.
  • No parties or staying up late.
  • You can’t think straight because you’re always hungry and tired.
  • Your whole life revolves around making food, dieting, training, and recovery protocols.
  • Did we mention you’re slowly starving?

So forget having a sex life, social life, parenthood, school, and probably a regular job.

Is that level of leanness worth it?

Having a six-pack doesn’t automatically make you healthy. In fact, getting toolean can be actively unhealthy.

You might end up with amenorrhea, low libido, disordered eating, bones like Swiss cheese, social isolation, and a host of other problems.

Some elite bodybuilders rely on drugs like stimulants, diuretics, and other drugs just to keep themselves going.

Many folks even rely on cosmetic surgery. Which creates its own health risks… and certainly doesn’t add health on its own.

In short, being really lean has almost nothing to do with being really healthy.

Indeed, being too focused on getting lean may lead you away from good health.

precision nutrition getting lean abs The cost of getting lean: Is it really worth the trade off?

Meanwhile, on the subject of six-packs, it might surprise you to learn that even among the super lean, not all abs are created equal.

That’s right. Strip away all the excess fat, and some people will never reveal a magazine cover set of abs.

Why? Because — quite apart from that airbrushing we referred to earlier — we’re all built differently.

Some folks have staggered abdominals. Some have angled abdominals. Some people might really only have four abdominals that are visible no matter how lean they get.

Don’t believe us? Go to any amateur physique competition for a first-hand view.

Who knows? The experience might prove enlightening. It might even contribute to greater body acceptance and self-compassion.

Because what you’re sure to notice is that in real life, nobody’s “perfect”.  Not even elite bodybuilders and fitness competitors.

Getting clear, getting real

Clarity is essential in change.

If you think you may want to change how much body fat you have, start by getting a clear idea of where you’re at.

  • Figure out your goals and priorities. If you don’t know what your priorities are, now’s a great time to explore that.
  • Decide what you’re willing to do right now in order to serve those goals and priorities. Why?
  • Decide how often, and how consistently, and how precisely, you’re willing to do those things.
  • Decide what you’re not willing to do right now. Why not?
  • In the above steps, be brutally honest and realistic yet compassionate with yourself.

Now you have your action plan.

And you know where you are on the cost-benefit continuum.

In the table above, we’ve provided rough estimates for what it might take to achieve specific levels of leanness or muscularity — or even simple health improvements, like getting off medications.

This is just a general guide. It’s a start. Something to get you thinking.

You may need more tailored guidance or coaching. Age, gender, genetics, medical conditions, and pharmaceuticals can all affect what you’ll need to do to get and stay lean.

If tracking your body fat is important to you, make sure you have a valid way to do it, such as a skinfold caliper measurement by a trained professional. If you don’t care, and use other indicators like your belt notches, that’s cool.

What to do next

1. Take the long view

Whatever change you want to make, remember: It will take time.

Eating one big, rich meal won’t make you wake up overweight. Fasting for 24 hours won’t give you six-pack abs.

A simple plan followed consistently is better than a complex plan followed intermittently.

2. Review what’s involved

To reduce your body fat from unhealthy to healthy levels

You only need to make a few changes, and follow them about 80% of the time.

To go from normal to reasonably lean

You need a few more changes, and a bit more consistency.

Now you might need to eat protein and veggies at every meal, and get 7+ hours of sleep 85% of the time.

To go from lean to very lean

You’ll have to put in more time and more effort. Plus, you’ll need to follow your plan even more consistently — with almost obsessive accuracy.

This means adding a few more habits, such as monitoring fat and carbohydrate intake, and exercising at least 5 hours per week 95% of the time.

For instance, if you eat 4 meals per day, in any given month you’ll need to ensure that 114 of your 120 precisely calibrated meals are perfectly executed, in order to achieve your desired level of leanness.

That’s a serious commitment right there.

3. Get clarity on what YOU want

Review the “getting clear, getting real” list.

What matters to YOU?

What are YOU willing to do… or not? Why?

There’s no right answer. What’s most important is that you understand what it takes to get a certain outcome.

And now YOU have the power to choose. Healthy, athletically lean, or super lean: It all depends on your priorities and goals.

Now you can make the decisions — and get the body you really need, while still living the life you want.

[Bonus: We created a cool infographic that summarizes this article. Click here for: The cost of getting lean illustrated. Is it really worth the trade-off? If there’s someone you think might benefit from seeing it, please pass it along.]

Foods that cause bloat

Foods That Cause Bloating

Unless you are suffering from some terrible stomach disease (in which case, you need the attention of a physician), your stomach bloating is probably just a result of some of your poor food habits. Often, replacing the bad foods (that cause bloating) with healthier substitutes can offer you permanent relief from bloating and flatulence. In this article, I will tell you about the foods that can make your stomach bloated and constipated! Don’t be surprised if some of these foods form the core of your daily diet!

Processed Foods: Processed foods such as carbonated drinks (energy drinks, soft drinks, diet soda, diet coke, etc), potato chips, coffee, tea, alcohol (especially beer and wine), etc., can be the cause of stomach bloating. They are at best – avoided!

Meat: Meat is pretty hard to digest; no wonder that meat eaters are some of the biggest sufferers of abdominal bloating! Then again, how you consume meat is also a determining factor in whether you would be able to digest or not. Raw meat is perhaps the easiest one to digest, but hey, a human being usually cannot eat raw meat, so let us not kid ourselves! The second best option is to boil meat, which is probably the closest form of ‘digestible’ cooked meat you could have. If you eat heavily fried meat then it is going to cause rumblings and gas in your stomach. Meat in smoked form is generally considered to be the one that is hardest to digest, and therefore, should be avoided at all costs!

Of course, it is not just meat that is to blame for stomach troubles; in fact, just about any kind of fatty foods can trigger abdominal bloating, gas and constipation!

Milk: Milk is one of the causes behind an unhealthy stomach, and so is any dairy product (such as cheese)! The fact remains that a lot of adults are in general lactose-intolerant, a condition where one cannot digest lactose (of milk). It is therefore, little surprise indeed that people who drink milk heavily are the ones who suffer from bloating pretty frequently. Undigested milk often results in stomach bloating and gas! Personally, I stay away from milk no matter what, but if you cannot live without milk at all, then stuff such as Lactaid (which is available over-the-counter) can help you digest lactose!

Natural Foods: Of course, even if you never drink milk, it does not mean that you won’t suffer from abdominal bloating at all! There are a lot of solid foods that have been scientifically proven to be the cause of bloating; examples of such foods are beans, bran, lentils, bagels, broccoli, legumes, cabbage, onions, Brussels sprouts, pulses, cauliflower, etc. It would be good if you don’t eat these foods at all, unless of course you enjoy farting and belching in public!

And you thought that any kind of natural food is good for your stomach? If so, you better think again!

Especially for beans, there is a way to keep them from forming gas in your stomach. Soak the beans in water and leave them like that for one whole night. Then, discard the water and cook them for at least thirty minutes. Once done, discard the water you used in boiling these beans and then cook them again for another thirty minutes – using NEW water!

Then there are certain foods which are known to cause slight bloating; while a moderate intake of such foods should not cause a problem, their overconsumption may certainly result in irritable bowel syndrome! Such foods are apricots, bananas, raw apples, citrus fruits (rich in Vitamin C), lettuce, potatoes, wheat bread, celery, carrots, cucumbers, eggplants, pretzels, soybeans, raisins, etc.

Chocolate: If you love chocolate, I have got bad news for you. Since it cannot be easily digested by your stomach (one of the reasons being the presence of high concentration of sugar in it), it makes a mess of your digestive system. I know how you feel about reading this, but believe me, I love dark chocolates, but even I usually stay away from them; occasionally, whenever I break that rule and grab a bite of chocolate, I start suffering from irritable bowel syndrome! Bottom line, eating chocolate means inviting stomach trouble!

Other Culprits: These culprits are not foods but still, are indirectly related to foods, which is why I thought to elaborate on it on a separate paragraph. If you eat foods too fast, and don’t chew them well, you are forcing your stomach to work harder to digest that ‘unchewed’ food, which in turn would result in stomach gas.

Bloating is also sometimes caused by parasites; believe it or not, parasites inhabit the surfaces of most of the fruits and vegetables we consume daily; you can discard these parasites by washing the foods well before cooking them! If you are not washing your food well, those parasites would certainly entire your digestive tract and wreak havoc inside by giving you a bloated stomach!

Then of course, there is constipation to consider. Foods that trigger constipation are often also the ones that can trigger stomach bloating; for this reason, such foods should be avoided, or at best, their intake moderated. If you suffer from chronic constipation, you should visit a physician urgently, as chances are that this is the root cause behind your current digestion problems!

What the American Diet says about its Culture

The Secular Jurist

By Robert A. Vella

If we are what we eat, as the old adage proclaims, then what does the American diet say about its culture? Before delving into this, let’s state for the record that the U.S. is a large nation with many diverse regions and subcultures. What people eat in rural Georgia, for example, can be quite different from an affluent city such as San Francisco. However, there is a larger American culture which transcends these differences and its cuisine is unmistakably unique compared with the rest of the world.

Consider the burger, or its original moniker – the hamburger. The idea of a ground beef patty sandwiched in a bun is so ubiquitous that virtually all types of food establishments serve them. The manager of my local Chinese restaurant revealed once that he sold nearly as many burgers as he did specialty items. You can get…

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The Cutting Primer

The Cutting Primer

Let’s get a few things straight…
1. All of the insights I’m about to provide are not person-specific. What that means is that it is a general guideline, not a bible.
2. I truly do believe that bodybuilding is 80% diet. You can lift your ass off daily, and still look horrible if you aren’t eating right.
3. You are what you eat. It’s just that simple.

The BASICS-
1.Postworkout Nutrition-
I’m a firm believer that PWO nutrition is hands down the most important aspect of dieting. It is within the 15 minutes after a workout that your body is in dire need of nutrients. It is a completely anabolic state, and what you take in can be optimized to ensure maximum results. A general rule of thumb is 40-60 grams whey protein, and double the amount of whey in carbohydrates (50% dextrose/50% maltodextrin).

2. Carbs- You are damn right, carbs. In a strict cutting diet the majority of your carbs should come in the form of PWO nutrition, and the remainder in breakfast. Fibrous veggies are a staple, but keep in mind that they don’t count towards intake, as they have negligible impacts on blood sugar levels. (Exceptions: Carrots, Peas) All high glycemic carbs outside of PWO should be avoided. The best sources of low GI carbs can be found in oatmeal and brown rice, as well as yams.

3. Protein- You need tons. 1.5-2.0 grams per pound of lean bodyweight is a good general rule of thumb. You should take in a good portion of your protein in the source of real meals, avoid intaking too many shakes, as real food comes to a better benefit. The list foods with high protein bioavailability is extensive, and I will only cover a few, (Egg whites, Lean steak, Chicken breast, the list goes on forever….).

4. Fats- Guess what? You need fat to lose fat. We are talking about the granddaddy of fats, the EFA (Essential Fatty Acid). Good sources of fat are ( Flax Oil, Nuts, Salmon, Olive Oil).

5. The separation of Carbs and Fats- This is a hotly debated issue, but again, in my opinion, an important aspect nonetheless. Remember that it is often when you eat items and with what you eat them that is more important than what you are eating. A mouthful, I know, but stay with me. Remember that when you take in certain carbs, you can spike your insulin levels. If you are taking in fats when your insulin has been spiked, you are allowing the basic laws of physiology to act out, and you allow for a higher propensity for fat storage. Separation is key. The sample diet will give a good example of how to separate them.

6. Supplements-

Glutamine: Helps prevent catabolism when cutting. Best used in dosages of 10grams daily, 5 grams before cardio, 5 grams at another interval, but not after workout as it fights for absorption with the glutamine peptides in whey.
ALA/R-ALA: Gets my supplement of the day award. R-ALA is effective in lowering the spike of insulin when certain carbs are consumed. I could give you a dissertation on the stereoentisomeric properties of the R, but all you need to know is that it has been found to shuttle carbohydrates away from adipose and into myocytes. Translation: Away from fat cells, into muscle cells. It’s a supplement, however, not a miracle worker. It’s not a crutch, and won’t do anything about fat intake. ALA and R-ALA can also aid in the expedition of the ketogenic state. Remember that if you buy R-ALA that you supplement it with Biotin. Glucorell-R is prepackaged with it. If you can afford it, go for it. As far as dosage, with the R, you are looking at 1-2 pills of Glucorell R for each 30-40grams of carb intake.
Protein and Carb Shakes: I’m not going to cover protein, because even if you can’t afford it, you should sell a kidney to get some. Carb drinks are rather convenient, and companies offer pre mixed dosages, (CarboHit, Glycoload, UltraFuel). Dextrose and Maltodextrin can be bought from most supplement stores or online.

7. Cheating- Cheating is essential. Why? Remember, the body runs on homeostasis, it likes to keep balance. After eating so well after a week, your body begins to adjust, and fat loss over time will not be as rapid. The other extremely important aspect is mental sanity. So many diets crash and fail because people don’t give themselves a chance to breath. Remember, cheating is not an opportunity for you to pillage the entire mall food court. Shoot for a cheat meal, not an all out binge. A fast food value meal can be 2,000 calories. Eat that 3 times on one day, and you’ve consumed 6,000 calories. And that’s not good in any case.

8. Cardio- Cardio and cutting usually go hand in hand. I won’t go into specifics about length, other than cardio shouldn’t be excessive. 45 minutes to one hour daily should be sufficient, and should be performed on an empty stomach.

Sample Diet:
Note: This is a sample diet for a 200 pound gentleman who is wishing to cut. We can assume his BF to be around 15%. This diet will NOT work for you if those criteria don’t apply to you; however it is easy to customize the below diet to take in account your own statistics. It is the principles that are applicable.. I am not going to post the total amount of calories, only the carb, protein and fat macros for the whole day.

Meal 1:
Lean Protein, 1/2 cup oatmeal

Meal 2:
Protein shake/Lean Protein (2 tbsp flax

Meal 3:
Veggies, Lean Protein

Workout

Meal 4:
PWO Nutrition

Meal 5:
Veggies, Lean Protein, 1/2 cup rice or oatmeal.

Meal 6:
Shake with Flax

That turns into approximately 300 grams protein, 130 grams Carbs, and 50 grams of fat.

*Reminder: This is a PRIMER. It’s not mean to be comprehensive.

Here comes the fun part: Question and Answer….

Q: What about dairy?
A: If you don’t mind a soft look, fat free cottage cheese is an excellent caseinate source, but as for milks- way too much processed sugar. NO.

Q: Should I do a keto diet?
A: Unless you are morbidly obese, or would like to drag your wilted muscles behind you, stay away from keto. Again, that’s my opinion. You can see my previous posts for my anti-keto ranting.

Q: What about cycling carb intake?
A: Obviously on non workout days you will be without a shake, so you will be auto-cycling. It works well that way.

Q: Is sodium an issue?
A: Outside of the bloating issue, or if you have high cholesterol, no.

Q. How do I make my meals not taste like cardboard?
A. Be creative. Mix in some sugar free jam or splenda in your oats, some hot sauce or soy sauce on your meats, or pick up some sugar free ketchup.

Q. I don’t like old fashioned oats. Can I eat the pre mixed oats with fruit?
A. No. Be a man. Those mixes have ridiculous amounts of sugar.

Q. What about fruit?
A: Fruit replenishes glycogen stores in the liver, and in my opinion, is not to be a staple of a strict cutting diet, with a few exceptions.

Q: Can I eat steak while cutting?
A: Definitely. Make sure it’s a leaner cut.

“Obsessed is a the word that lazy people use for dedicated.”

How We Get Fat

 Energy Intake Exceeds Energy Output

At a fundamental level, fat storage occurs when caloric intake exceeds caloric output.  Now, I know that a lot of people claim that basic thermodynamics don’t hold for humans. Simply, they are wrong.  Invariably, the studies used to support this position are based on a faulty data set: to whit, they are drawing poor conclusions about what people SAY that they are eating.

For example, one popular book bases one of its many incorrect theses on a 1980 report suggesting that the obese ate the same number of calories as the lean.  Ergo, obesity was caused by something else.  The problem is this, the data set is wrong.  A fact we’ve known for nearly 30 years but that the author was somehow unable to become aware of in his ’5 years of dedicated research’.

Study after study after study over the past 30 years shows that the obese systematically under-report their food intake (by up to 30-50%) and over-report their activity (by about the same).  So when they say they are only eating 1800 calories per day, they may be eating 2400-3600 calories per day.  And their activity isn’t nearly what they think.

And when you put those same folks in controlled metabolic ward conditions and control their food intake and/or activity output…voila, the energy balance equation holds.  It’s only when you believe the (incorrect) self-reported data that it doesn’t.

And make no mistake I am NOT saying that the obese are lying about their intake, not consciously anyhow.  Most people simply suck at knowing how much they are actually eating.  Leave them to self-report it and they almost always screw it up.   If you’re mistaken enough to believe the self-reported values, you reach even more screwed up conclusions about things.

In that vein, I have found that the chronically underweight “I can’t gain weight no matter what I do” are invariably vastly over-estimating what they are eating.  That is, they are eating far less than they think.  Other studies show that ‘health conscious people’ tend to under-report their true ‘junk food’ and dietary fat intake; to appear more healthy they conveniently forget or leave out that trip to the burger joint.

Put differently, this isn’t something that only occurs in the obese (so spare me accusations of ‘hating the obese’ or some nonsense).  Am I clear or are people going to misinterpret me some more in the comments and claim I said that fat people lie about their food intake?  Because I’m not saying anything of the sort.  Make no mistake, I’m sure some do lie about it; most are just clueless about how much they are actually eating.

Now let me make it clear that there is obviously a lot more going on here, hormones and all manners of other stuff impact on the energy balance equation.  For example, chronically elevated cortisol does a lot of nasty things in terms of reducing metabolic rate (reducing the energy out side of the equation) as well as negatively impacting on calorie partitioning (where calories go when you eat them).  But for the most part, a lot of that is outside of our control.  It’s relevant but you can’t do much with most of it.  So I’ll focus on calories.

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 Nutrient Intake, Oxidation and Storage 

The primary storage of fat in the body is in fat cells, duh.  Most of that is found in what is called subcutaneous fat, which is found under the skin.  There is also fat stored around the gut area called visceral fat (this surrounds the organs).  Fat can also be stored in ‘bad’ places like the liver and pancreas under certain conditions; this is called ectopic fat storage.

I’m going to focus here on subcutaneous fat.  There, whether or not fat is stored or removed comes down to a concept called fat balance,    You can think of fat balance as the fat specific equivalent of energy balance.  That is

Net Change in Fat Stores = Fat Stored – Fat Burned

I’d note that the same nutrient balance holds for protein, carbohydrates and alcohol (which I’m not going to talk about today).  That is, the net effect on bodily stores, whether protein or carbohydrate stores in the body increases, decreases or stays the same comes down to the balance of protein/carb stored vs. protein or carbs/burned.

So at a fundamental level, fat gain occurs when fat storage exceeds fat burning (technically oxidation).  And fat loss occurs when fat oxidation exceeds fat storage.  I’d note that both processes take place in some amounts throughout the day, controlled by a host of processes I’m not going to talk about.  Just recognize that what happens over time in terms of your fat stores comes down to the relationship between those two processes: fat storage – fat oxidation.

So what determines fat oxidation and fat storage rates?

 Back to Nutrient Intake, Oxidation and Storage

  1. Carbs are rarely converted to fat and stored as such

  2. When you eat more carbs you burn more carbs and less fat; eat less carbs and you burn less carbs and more fat

  3. Protein is basically never going to be converted to fat and stored as such

  4. When you eat more protein, you burn more protein (and by extension, less carbs and less fat); eat less protein and you burn less protein (and by extension, more carbs and more fat)

  5. Ingested dietary fat is primarily stored, eating more of it doesn’t impact on fat oxidation to a significant degree

Let’s work through this backwards.  When you eat dietary fat, it’s primary fate is storage as its intake has very little impact on fat oxidation (and don’t ask me a bunch of questions about “But people say you have to eat fat to burn fat?” in the comments.  That idea is fundamentally wrong but would take an entire article to address).  It also doesn’t impact greatly on the oxidation of the protein or carbohydrates.

Carbohydrates are rarely converted to fat (a process called de novo lipogenesis) under normal dietary conditions. There are exceptions when this occurs.  One is with massive chronic overfeeding of carbs.  I’m talking 700-900 grams of carbs per day for multiple days.  Under those conditions, carbs max out glycogen stores, are in excess of total daily energy requirements and you see the conversion of carbohydrate to fat for storage.  But this is not a normal dietary situation for most people.

A few very stupid studies have shown that glucose INFUSION at levels of 1.5 total daily energy expenditure can cause DNL to occur but this is equally non-physiological.  There is also some evidence that DNL may be increased in individuals with hyperinsulinemia (often secondary to obesity).  There’s one final exception that I’ll use to finish this piece.

But when you eat more carbs, you burn more carbs and burn less fat.  And that’s why even if carbs aren’t directly converted to fat and stored as such, excess carbs can STILL MAKE YOU FAT.  Basically, by inhibiting fat oxidation, excess carbs cause you to store all the fat you’re eating without burning any of it off.  Did you get that?  Let me repeat it again.

Carbs don’t make you fat via direct conversion and storage to fat; but excess carbs can still make you fat by blunting out the normal daily fat oxidation so that all of the fat you’re eating is stored.  Which is why a 500 cal surplus of fat and a 500 cal surplus of carbs can both make you fat; they just do it for different reasons through different mechanisms.  The 500 calories of excess fat is simply stored; the excess 500 calories of carbs ensure that all the fat you’re eating is stored because carb oxidation goes up and fat oxidation goes down.  Got it?  If not, re-read this paragraph until it sinks in.

Oh yeah, the same holds for protein. Protein isn’t going to be converted to and stored as fat.  But eat excess protein and the body will burn more protein for energy (and less carbs and fat).  Which means that the other nutrients have to get stored.  Which means that excess protein can still make you fat, just not by direct conversion.  Rather, it does it by ensuring that the fat you’re eating gets stored.

Of course protein also has the highest thermic effect, more of the incoming calories are burned off.  So excess protein tends to have the least odds of making you fat under any conditions; but excess protein can make you fat.  Just not by direct conversion to fat; rather it’s indirectly by decreasing the oxidation of other nutrients.

Ok, is the above clear enough? Because I can’t really explain it any simpler but will try one last time using bullet points and an example.  Let’s assume someone is eating at exactly maintenance calories.  Neither gaining nor losing fat.  Here’s what happens with excess calories.  Assume that all three conditions represent identical increases in caloric intake, just from each of the different macros.  Here’s what happens mechanistically and why all three still make you fat:

  1. Excess dietary fat is directly stored as fat

  2. Excess dietary carbs increases carb oxidation, impairing fat oxidation; more of your daily fat intake is stored as fat

  3. Excess dietary protein increases protein oxidation, impairing fat oxidation; more of your daily fat intake is stored as fat

Got it?  All three situations make you fat, just through different mechanisms.  Fat is directly stored and carbs and protein cause you to store the fat you’re eating by decreasing fat oxidation.

And I’d note again, since someone will invariably misread this that that doesn’t mean that a low-carb and/or low-protein diet is therefore superior for fat loss.  I’m not saying that and don’t think that I am.  Because in such a situation, while you may be burning more fat, you’re also eating more dietary fat.  So net fat balance can be unchanged despite the dicking around with macronutrient content.  It still comes down to the deficit.

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The Obvious Question: Why Not Just Eat Zero Dietary Fat?

And now I’ll answer the question that I know every person who has read (and hopefully understood) the above is asking: so if carbs and protein are rarely converted to and stored as fat, and make you fat by decreasing fat oxidation and causing all ingested dietary fat to get stored as fat, can’t I eat as much as I want of protein and carbs so long as my dietary fat intake is zero?

And the answer is still no.  Remember how I teased you above with one other exception, when carbs are converted to fat for storage?    That exception is when dietary fat is below about 10% of total daily calories.  Under that condition, the body ramps up de novo lipogenesis.  So you still get fat.

Because the body is usually smarter than we are.  Under conditions where dietary fat intake is ‘adequate’ (meaning 10% of total calories or more), the primary fate of that fat is storage and protein and carbs are used for other things.  And when dietary fat is too low, the body will start converting ingested carbs (and probably protein, though it would still be rare) to fat for storage.

Oh yeah, the other question you’re going to ask in the comments “What about alcohol?”  That’s going to require a full article so be patient.  I know that’s another thing lacking on the Internet but so be it. But I can briefly tell you that alcohol is seen as a poison to you body because it is a poison and that means your liver will shut down normal functions to deal with this invader. Taking your liver “offline” will disrupt metabolic processes that help maintain weight. Also chronic alcohol use will damage your liver.

And I really hope that clears things up.  If it doesn’t, re-read this piece until it is.

More meal plans

Everyone is different. Some can just eat healthy and go by feel. They are lucky, they tend not to overeat or under eat, they are just right. Others can have a difficult time trying to stay on track. They are disorganized and can’t get into a good rhythm with their diet. So for those who are in this group you gotta get it together and have a plan.

The first step to all of this madness is to buy a food scale. You don’t need one for $100, a simple digital one up to 500grams will do just fine. The second thing I recommend is to get with the metric system. Start using grams and millilitres and ditch the ounces. Weighing out 3.66oz is a pain. Weighing out 100g? Easy.

After that, you need to keep a food log. You can do it the old fashion way of pen and paper, or use a online service such as www.fitday.com or www.dailyburn.com. This way you can remember what you have eaten over the course of the day. Believe me, after a few weeks of dieting all the food blends together! By recording all your meals, you will also be able to modify them easier once you hit a plateau. You will be able to see what you have been doing and what you need to change. In saying that, you are just here to get a meal plan, so you could just print this off and cross each meal out as you eat it!

All of these plans have 2-300g protein which is a great amount for all of your bodybuilding needs. If you are cutting, this amount will help you lose fat, and preserve muscle. It is also a sufficient amount of protein to gain muscle in a bulking phase! What one person may gain on, another may lose on…

All of these plans also have moderate carb/fat. This is for a number of reasons, but mainly because they are both delicious, and removing either one completely is a pain and may just lead to binging. If you want a VLC(VeryLowCarb) Diet, check out The Palumbo Diet. But for those that are not induced with carb-phobia(The last one hits 400Carbs!)…enjoy!

Note: All of the macros were taken from Calorieking.com. Brands will differ, just make sure you check the Nutrition Info before you start eating! Sometimes the same food product will have completely different macros!

 

2000 Calorie Diet (Calories/Fat/Carbohydrate/Protein):

 

Meal 1: 30g Oatmeal
1 scoop protein powder
Total: (~230/5/25/30)
Meal 2: 100g Banana
227g Fat Free Greek Yogurt
Total: (~230/0/30/20)
Meal 3: 141g Tuna(1 can)
2 slices Whole Wheat bread
10g Mayonnaise
Total: (~390/10/40/30)
Meal 4: 200g Chicken Breast
125g Sweet potato
Green Veggies
Total: (~360/5/20/45)
Meal 5: 200g Chicken Breast
125g Sweet potato
Green Veggies
Total: (~360/5/20/45)
Meal 6: 200g Apple
34g Peanut Butter
Total: (~300/20/35/10)
Meal 7: 2 String Cheese
Total: (~160/10/0/15)
Total: (~1950/55/170/195)

 

3000 Calorie Diet (Calories/Fat/Carbohydrate/Protein):

Meal 1: 60g Oatmeal
1 scoop protein powder
Total:  (~230/5/45/35)
Meal 2: 100g Banana
250g Pineapple
227g Fat Free Greek Yogurt
Total: (~355/0/60/20)
Meal 3: 141g Tuna(1 can)
2 slices Whole Wheat bread
10g Mayonnaise
Total: (~390/10/40/30)
Meal 4: 200g Chicken Breast
200g Sweet potato
Green Veggies
Total: (~420/5/35/45)
Meal 5: 200g Chicken Breast
200g Sweet potato
Green Veggies
Total: (~420/5/35/45)
Meal 6: 200g Apple
50g Peanut Butter
Total: (~400/25/40/15)
Meal 7: 2 String Cheese
250g Pineapple
Total: (~285/10/30/15)
Meal 8: 5 Whole Eggs
40g Shredded Cheese
Total: (~490/35/0/40)
Total: (~2990/95/285/245)

4000 Calorie Diet (Calories/Fat/Carbohydrate/Protein):

 

Meal 1: 60g Oatmeal
1 scoop protein powder
Total: (~230/5/45/35)
Meal 2: 100g Banana
250g Pineapple
227g Fat Free Greek Yogurt
Total: (~355/0/60/20)
Meal: 3 200g Whole Wheat Pasta
200g Premade Vodka Sauce
Total: (~455/5/80/5)
Meal 4: 141g Tuna(1 can)
2 slices Whole Wheat bread
10g Mayonnaise
Total: (~390/10/40/30)
Meal 5: 200g Chicken Breast
200g Sweet potato
Green Veggies
Total: (~420/5/35/45)
Meal 6: 250mL Whole milk
50g Peanut Butter
100g Banana
Total: (~550/35/45/20)
Meal 7: 200g Chicken Breast
200g Sweet potato
Green Veggies
Total: (~420/5/35/45)
Meal 8: 200g Apple
50g Peanut Butter
Total: (~400/25/40/15)
Meal 9: 2 String Cheese
250g Pineapple
Total: (~285/10/30/15)
Meal 10: 5 Whole Eggs
40g Shredded Cheese
Total: (~490/35/0/40)
Total: (~3995/135/410/270)

 

These plans are broken into meals, but that is simply to make the lists easier. You can eat these meal by meal, a couple meals combined together, or all at once. In the end of the day it will all be the same(but meal timing is another post….). Just make sure you eat everything on your meal plan. A missed meal is almost the same as a cheat meal! If it is in your diet, you need it!

The Grain Brain

The Grain Brain

Most new research talks about how carbohydrates like wheat, flour, and sugar are bad for you. Bad for your waistline, energy levels, and heart health.

However, in his new book, Grain Brain, Dr, David Perlmutter discusses the relationship between carbohydrates and the brain. Dr. Perlmutter uses detailed evidence to support his hypothesis that carbs are destroying your brain.

From the start of the book, Dr. Perlmutter gets to the point by stating, “Brain disease can be largely prevented through the choices you make in life.” Our modern society has moved from using food to maintain a healthy body to using medicine to fix a broken one. This thinking is flawed and ineffective, and we are encountering more illnesses that cannot be fixed or cured, like dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.

Also, the foods we consume today, including grains, are not the same foods we were consuming 70 years ago. Our bodies are ill-equipped to process things like flour, sugar, low-fat foods, and mostly anything processed. According to Dr. Perlmutter, most of what we are told to eat is grossly flawed. Our brains need good fats and cholesterol to survive. Take the fat out of our diets and the brain muscle starts losing its strength.

Dr. Perlmutter describes many patients he has seen who have come to him with various brain-related issues who, after cutting carbs out of their diets, have seen a dramatic change in their bodies.

This book is ideal for those who have an interest in maintaining a healthy body, fixing a “broken” one with diet and healthy habits, or those who are curious about what carbohydrates do to the brain.

C9 – T11 2.0 All aboard the hype train

Once again the hype train has come to town looking to take you away on another wasteful spending spree for the next miracle in a pill.

Be on the look out and stay off the tracks because it will run you down!

This time it is the “new” supplement called C9-T11 2.0 This supplement promises a 700% muscle gain.  ( When you see outrageous claims like this, beware)

C9 – T11 2.0 ????? Ok what the hell is this? And how does it promise 700% muscle gain? Based on what studies?

It turns out it is not “new”. Just new marketing hype, thats all.What this strange named supplement really is, is CLA Conjugated linoleic acids  which is a regular old supplement that has been around forever and has hardly proved itself in the real world. Studies do show that CLA can help put on some muscle but only in studies, like I said , in the real world , not so much.

Usually the vast majority of us need to fix our diets, workout routines and our recovery before even thinking any supplements will help. Adding in a supplement, even one that is proven to work will not do jack if your diet sucks and you are not following a proper routine. Also if you are working, going to school, raising kids and training hard and not sleeping enough there is no way to build muscle because you only grow when you get sleep. You have to sleep well too.

Don’t fall for the slick marketing.

Don’t buy it. It will do nothing.

Food Scams, the wild west in the supermarket.

Anytime something you are eating or drinking is labeled to mislead consumers that is considered a scam to me. This time I wanted to consolidate things into 1 article on various scams I see in the supermarkets and which people fall for, even those who care about their health. Some of these I have already touched on in various articles but I still wanted to get more in depth and explain more about them.

1. Olive oil. Wait a second olive oil is good for you! Yes it is, unfortunately the olive oil we are buying from the supermarket a lot of times isn’t real olive oil. Whether its extra virgin vs. regular olive oil, or they throw in other types of oils in there to dilute it. There really isn’t a sure fire way of knowing what you are buying is actually what they claim. I can assure you that if you buy a bottle for a few dollars its highly unlikely what you are buying is extra virgin from Italy. Try drinking your olive oil, if it burns your throat a bit then its more likely you are getting a quality product.. regular vegetable oil will not burn. This isn’t a scientific way to test it but its just my humble way of doing it.

2. Honey. According to the FSN 75% of honey found at the store doesn’t contain pollen, so although its still from bees the pollen has been screened out. Reason for this is to make it difficult to know where it came from so you could be buying Asian honey which could be contaminated with lead and anti-biotics!! You’re best bet is buying local honey from a flea market or co-op.

3. Fruit Juice. Besides being pasteurized I would hope people realize when they buy products like Sunny D or whatever that these aren’t really fruit juices, just a bunch of sugar mixed in with water with flavoring. Squeezing your own juice is the best way.

4. Baby formula. I could write 20 articles on this topic on both sides, but really what this is all about is the quality of the formula you are buying your babies. Expiration dates are tampered with to move the items. Never buy baby formula from flea markets or online auctions and if the expiration date looks tampered then stay away.

5. Spices. Similar to olive oil do you really know what you are buying? Saffron, vanilla extract, turmeric are the most common fraud spices.. Its much cheaper to dilute them or sell something else in their place. In the Asian communities within the USA spices are extremely important and people know this, keeping the prices low through cheating people is also a good way to make money for scammers.

6. Alcohol. Good quality wine is expensive. One scammer in NYC back in 2012 tried to sell counterfeit wines for 1.2M each, but was luckily caught and arrested. To the normal person though this problem will never manifest itself, however if you want to spend hundreds on wine you better make sure you are buying from a trusted source and not really buying a $15 bottle. Most faux wines are just ripoff versions and are not dangerous to consume, however adulterated spirits can become dangerous. Vodka’s have been found to be spiked with anti-freeze and other chemicals. Check logo’s and if something looks funny or tastes funny then don’t mess with it.

7. Fish. I have an article up on fish but to add to what I wrote in that one, lets take a look at the species swap. Even if you go to a fish market and buy fillets how do you know that snapper you are buying isn’t tilefish? The reality is you do not. Red Snapper is highly regulated which drives up the price, however other snappers like Black Snapper are less regulated and can easily be swapped in and sold. This is why selling fish on the side of the road is illegal. If you buy from that guy on the corner a red snapper fillet its highly likely you are really buying something else which might not even be the same family of fish.