Teriyaki-Glazed Salmon with Stir-Fried Vegetables

Teriyaki-Glazed Salmon with Stir-Fried Vegetables


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


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.

Supplements for women

Today let’s focus on women, shall we? There is a lot that goes on in the female body. The food that we put in our body and the nutrients we receive are vital for a long and healthy life. It should be no surprise that the female and male bodies sometimes require different vitamins and minerals to function at their best. Here are some of the best supplements specifically for women.


Iron carries oxygen in the blood, supports brain development, immune function and helps in the production of red blood cells. Anemia is a very serious condition where the body is not getting enough iron. The most common symptom of this is extreme fatigue but it can also cause a weakened immune system and problems regulating body temperature. For women, when you have your period each month you lose more iron which makes it even more important that women are getting enough iron through their diet or by supplementation.

Vitamin D

Vitamin D’s most commonly known role is its aid in calcium absorption in the body and bone growth. It also plays an important role in immune function and reduction of inflammation in the body. Without proper vitamin D intake, your bones can become weak. When this occurs it can lead to much more serious conditions such as osteoporosis, which is much more common in women. Deficiency can also lead to the development of type 1 and type 2 diabetes.

Omega 3 Fatty Acids

Omega 3’s are important for the brain, help to reduce blood pressure and can help calm down inflammation. This is very important for the female athlete. While we all know that getting enough fat in your diet is important, supplementing with Omega 3’s is always a great idea especially for women. You can also find this in foods such as fish and nuts.


Magnesium helps to maintain normal muscle function, keep a healthy heart, support your immune system, strengthen bones, regulate blood sugar, and helps to improve the metabolism of energy. If you don’t realize it by now, it does a lot for the body! Due to the fact that it does play such an important role in so many processes in the body, being deficient in magnesium can have many consequences.

As we know, getting the appropriate vitamins and minerals can be tricky. If you can’t always count on yourself to eat the right foods to get these nutrients through food, supplementation is very important! It’s a good thing in fact!

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


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.


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.]

The cost of getting lean

Here’s the cost of getting lean. [Infographic]
Is it really worth the trade-off?

By John Berardi and Brian St. Pierre


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. In this infographic, we outline them. So you can consider how to get the body you really want while living the life you really enjoy.

precision nutrition cost of getting lean infographic Heres the cost of getting lean. [Infographic] Is it really worth the trade off?

The Ten Rules of Progressive Overload

Reblogged from http://bretcontreras.com/progressive-overload/

The Ten Rules of Progressive Overload

In this article, I’m going to teach you how to go about progressive overload – the most important law in strength training. Perhaps you’re new to lifting and you’re wondering exactly what progressive overload is. Well, progressive overload simply means that you’re doing more over time. For example, you could be adding some weight to the bar, doing more reps, and/or having more productive training sessions. You won’t find many comprehensive articles on this topic as it’s pretty difficult to write an all-encompassing article pertaining to progressive overload. Due to the large variance in the fitness abilities of people when they first embark on a training regimen, it’s a little more complicated than simply telling someone to “add 10 more pounds to the bar each week,” or “do 2 more reps with the same weight each week.”

Unfortunately, I can’t give you a precise prescription. In order for me to know exactly how you should progress, I have to be with you, watching you train. Since I can’t be there with you, I’ll give you some advice to adhere to, which should make your life easier. Here are the ten rules of progressive overload:

1.       Progressive Overload starts with whatever you can do with perfect technical form

Let’s say you’re brand new to a particular exercise. You’ve seen all sorts of Youtube videos of strong lifters hoisting hundreds of pounds. You think you’re a strong cat, so you load up the plates and find that the exercise just doesn’t feel right. It feels awkward, unnatural, you don’t feel the right muscles working, and it even seems jarring on the joints and potentially injurious. This exercise is definitely not right for you, right? Wrong! The exercise is probably right for you, but your approach was all wrong.

Do not concern yourself with what others use for loading. When you begin an exercise, start out as light as possible and gradually work your way up. Let me provide you with two examples – the starting point for the weakest non-elderly and non-injured beginner I’ve trained as well as the starting point for the strongest beginner I’ve trained. Chances are you’ll fall somewhere in between these two individuals.

The weakest beginner I ever trained (a middle-age woman who had been completely sedentary for around 15-years) had to start out with bodyweight high box squats on the adjustable step-up platform so that she was only descending around 8 inches before sitting on the box. This same client also performed glute bridges, step-ups from a 4” step, and hip-hinge drills – all done with just bodyweight.

But guess what? She was squatting, hip thrusting, step-upping, and deadlifting. Granted, she was performing the most remedial variations of those exercises, but this is what was right for her at the time. Within six months she was doing goblet full squats, barbell hip thrusts, Bulgarian split squats, and deadlifts from the floor with 95 lbs.

Box Squat

Conversely, the strongest beginner (a high-school wrestler) I ever trained was able to use 185 lbs for full squats, 225 lbs for deadlifts, 225 lbs for hip thrusts, 155 lbs for bench press, and could do Bulgarian split squats, single leg hip thrusts, and chin ups with great form. Though he was an athlete, surprisingly he had never lifted weights before. Sports had strengthened his legs and upper body so that he was able to start out at a much more advanced level than most beginners. Even my (at the time) 13-year old niece, a very good volleyball player, full squatted 95 lbs, trap bar deadlifted 135 lbs, and single leg hip thrusted (all with excellent form) in her very first weight training session.

But these people are not you. You’ll find that due to your unique body type, you’ll have an advantage with some exercises and a huge disadvantage with others. Long femurs? You probably won’t set any squat records, but your weighted back extension strength is going to kick some serious butt. Long arms? Kiss your bench press records goodbye, but you’re gonna be a deadlifting rockstar.

Figure out where you belong on the regression-progression continuum (this is basically a list of each variation of an exercise from the easiest possible version to the most challenging version) and start getting stronger.

2.       Progressive Overload for beginners involves a few tenets

Progressive overload methodology is different for beginners compared to more advanced lifters. It’s also different for men compared to women and for those carrying a lot of muscle versus those not carrying much muscle. For example, I can’t just tell a woman who is brand new to strength training to just add ten pounds to the bar for squats and deadlifts each week. First of all, chances are some work has to be done just to get her to squat and deadlift properly, before ever focusing on load. Some clients should start out with partial range lifts such as bodyweight box squats and rack pulls and simply work on “progressive distance training,” whereby the range of motion is slightly increased each week. If you keep squatting your own bodyweight (or rack pulling 65lbs) for 3 sets of 10, but each week you descend an inch deeper, that’s progressive overload. Eventually you’ll be using a full range of motion and can then concern yourself with adding load.

With exercises that have you moving a significant portion of your body, such as squats, hip thrusts, back extensions, and lunges, you must master your own bodyweight before adding load. I like my clients to be able to perform 3 sets of 20 full-ROM reps with bodyweight exercises before adding load.

Reverse Lunge

Furthermore, many lifts require very small jumps in load over time, and attempts in these particular exercises should usually involve jumps in repetitions instead of load. This applies to lifts that utilize smaller loads, for example curls and lateral raises, in addition to challenging bodyweight movements such as skater squats, single leg RDLs, single leg hip thrusts, and prisoner single leg back extensions.

This is especially important for women or smaller men when access to smaller plates (1.25lb or 2.5lb plates) or smaller jumps in dumbbell (ex: 17.5lbs) or kettlebell loads aren’t possible. Think about it – going from 50 to 55 lb dumbbells is a 10% jump in weight. However, going from 10 to 15 lb dumbbells is a 50% jump in weight. You cannot expect someone to make a 50% jump in load and execute the same number of repetitions as the week before, but you can expect them to get another rep or two with the same load. So let’s say that one week you perform dumbbell rear delt raises with 10lbs for 10 reps. The next week, rather than up the load to 15lbs, try performing 12 reps with the 10lb weights. When you get to a point where you can do a couple of sets of 20 reps, then jump the weight up to 15 lbs.

Hammer Curl

3.       Progressive Overload can be achieved in a variety of ways (12 primary ways I can think of)

Remember, progressive overload is simply “doing more over time.” There are many ways to go about this. In this article, I’ve already mentioned progressing in range of motion, repetitions, and load. In the beginning, you want to progress in range of motion and form. Yes, if you do the same workout you did the week before, but with better form, that’s progression. You “did more” for the neuromuscular system in terms of motor patterning and even muscle force since using better form involves relying more on the targeted muscles.

After proper form and full range of motion are established and ingrained, now it’s time to worry about progressing in repetitions and load. But these aren’t the only ways to progress. Here are all the practical ways I can think of:

  • Lifting the same load for increased distance (range of motion)
  • Lifting the same load and volume with better form, more control, and less effort (efficiency)
  • Lifting the same load for more reps (volume)
  • Lifting heavier loads (intensity of load)
  • Lifting the same load and volume with less rest time in between sets (density)
  • Lifting a load with more speed and acceleration (intensity of effort)
  • Doing more work in the same amount of time (density)
  • Doing the same work in less amount of time (density)
  • Doing more sets with the same load and reps (volume)
  • Lifting the same load and volume more often throughout the week (frequency)
  • Doing the same work while losing body mass (increased relative volume)
  • Lifting the same load and volume and then extending the set past technical failure with forced reps, negatives, drop sets, static holds, rest pause, partial reps, or post-exhaustion (intensity of effort)

Just remember, improvements in form and ROM come first, and increases in reps and load come second.

4.       Progressive Overload will never be linear

Many strength coaches love to tell the story about Milo of Croton to illuminate the merits of progressive overload. Legend has it that Milo used to pick up a baby calf every day and carry it around on his shoulders. As the calf grew, Milo got stronger. Eventually Milo was hoisting a full-size bull and busting out sets of yoke walks like it ain’t no thang. Pretty sweet story, right?


Unfortunately this story is a crock of bull (pun intended). First of all, a half-ton bull would be way too awkward to carry due to the lopsided nature and sheer size of the animal. But this is irrelevant.

No gains from weight training, be it mobility, hypertrophy, strength, power, endurance, or fat loss, will ever occur in a linear nature. The body doesn’t work that way. Adaptations happen in waves. Sometimes you’ll make big jumps in a single week in a particular quality, while other times you’ll stall for three months in another quality. Over the long haul, everything goes up, but it’s a windy road. There are physiological reasons for this phenomenon, which is beyond the scope of this article.

However, let’s pretend for a minute that you could make linear progress for an entire year on a particular lift. A 10lb jump per week equates to 520lbs in a year. Even a 5lb jump per week equates to 260lbs in a year. Moreover, a 1 rep jump per week equates to 52 reps in a year, while a 1 rep jump per month equates to 12 reps in a year. You won’t gain 260-520lbs in a year on any single lift. And you won’t gain 12-52 reps on most lifts either.  It just ain’t happening. Some sessions you’ll be surprisingly strong and make big gains, some sessions you’ll simply tie your previous efforts, and some sessions you’ll actually be weaker and go backwards. But every six months you’ll likely be stronger and fitter.


These charts depict a woman’s progress over a one-year period in bodyfat percentage and lean body mass in kilograms. She made the most dramatic transformation I’ve ever seen to date, but notice the non-linear adaptations. Also notice the drop in muscle, despite doing everything right. This woman gained a ton of strength on squats, deadlifts, hip thrusts, bench press, military press, rows, and chins, she never missed a training session, and she ate perfectly for an entire year, yet she lost around 11 lbs of muscle during her year-long pursuit of getting into contest shape of below 10% bodyfat. Nevertheless, she won her first figure competition and is now a popular figure competitor.

5.       Progressive Overload will never be as fun as it is during your first 3 months of lifting

If you’re a beginner, sit back and enjoy the ride! Your rate of strength gain during your first three months of proper weight training will be higher than at any other time in your life. Each week you will slaughter personal records. Getting fifteen reps with something that you got for only ten reps the previous week is not an uncommon occurrence. This is mostly due to rapid gains in intermuscular coordination. Just don’t get spoiled, your rate of gain will slow dramatically and pretty soon you’ll be just like the rest of us – fighting like hell for those PR’s.

6.       Progressive Overload for veteran lifters requires serious strategy and specialization

As a beginner, you can pretty much do anything and gain strength as long as you’re consistent. After a couple of years of solid training, however, you have to be clever about your programming in order to continue to reach new levels of strength. You’ll need to rotate your lifts, plan your program designs intelligently, fluctuate your training stress, and tinker around with methodologies. Eventually it becomes very difficult to pack more pounds onto a particular lift or even gain another rep.

7.       Progressive Overload is much harder when you’re losing weight

Unless you’re a beginner, it’s highly challenging to increase your strength while simultaneously dropping significant weight. In fact, simply maintaining your strength while losing weight is a form of progressive overload as you’d be increasing your relative strength (strength divided by bodyweight) and therefore “doing more over time.”

Chin Up

Some lifts are more affected by weight loss than others. Squats and bench press tend to take a big dive, whereas deadlits can sometimes stay put. Your strength endurance on bodyweight exercises for the upper body will see a huge jump when you lose weight, however, so enjoy the boosts in reps on push-ups, chins, dips, and inverted rows.

8.       Progressive Overload sometimes has a mind of its own

Quite often you’ll do everything right, but you won’t get stronger. The plan just won’t work. You’ll be lifting hard, adhering to an intelligent plan, eating well, and sleeping right, and yet you still you won’t set any PR’s. Other times, you’ll do everything wrong, and you’ll somehow gain strength. Your training can be derailed, your diet and sleep can go down the gutter, but you’ll go to the gym and set a PR. This makes absolutely no sense and flies in the face of sports science. Nevertheless, this is just how the body works sometimes. Physiology is tricky and multifactorial. Don’t get cocky when this happens and think that you’ve stumbled upon the secret system (excessive partying, eating junk food, and training sporadically). Whenever you engage in these behaviors for too long, it will backfire on you, so stay on track to the best of your abilities.

9.       Progressive Overload should never be prioritized over proper form

At any point in time, if you really want to set a PR, you can just be lax on your form and likely set a record. For example, you could round your back excessively during deadlifts, bounce the bar off your chest with bench press, or use a little more body English with curls. However, this is a slippery slope that’s best avoided. Progressive overload only works when you challenge the muscles to do more over time, and your muscles will not be forced to do more if your form gets sloppy. Moreover, you won’t be setting any personal records if you’re injured or constantly in pain.

10.   Progressive Overload requires standardized technique

The only way you will ever know whether you gained strength or not is to perform the lifts exactly the same way each time. In other words, true strength gains require proper depth, tempo, and execution. Many lifters lie to themselves and pretend that they’ve gotten stronger, but their ranges of motions diminish or their form goes out the window. These lifters didn’t get stronger, they got sloppier. Federations in the sports of powerlifting, Olympic weightlifting, and strongman have created rules for their various exercises. It may be worth your while to learn these rules so that you always perform them properly in training and when testing your max. Assuming you can perform the lifts properly, always squat to parallel or deeper, always lock out your hip thrusts and barbell glute bridges, and in general always control the weight through a full range of motion.

Kellie Glute Bridge

Hopefully these 10 rules will keep you on track. I have one more piece of advice to share with you. Even the most seasoned lifters often have to take a step back in order to take two steps forward. Sometimes we get caught up in chasing continuous PR’s to the point of altering form, relying on the wrong muscles, skimping on ROM, or training through pain. Once per year, I recommend “resetting” your strength levels in your pursuit of progressive overload. Throw everything you’ve done in the past out the window and start over using the best possible form through a full range of motion. This is your new baseline. Now work on adhering to that same form while doing more over time. Your body will thank you in the long run for engaging in this simple yet effective practice.

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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Lose fat for this summer

Read this and take notes if you want to lose fat for summer.

2015 is steamrolling forward and not letting up. February is here and it’s time to get down to business when it comes to being beach ready. The summer months are closing in and right now is the time to lose fat and get in the best shape of your life.

Here is the lowdown on dropping the fat you don’t want on your body. Whether it’s your stomach, thighs, hips, or arms, follow this plan and start now and you will have an awesome chance of losing serious weight by the time the fourth of July swings around.

Being mindful of your nutrition and exercise is the most important key to your success and here’s why. When you are stuck in a rut and not losing weight and not training hard, it’s probable that you’re mindset is not in line with the desire for losing weight. When we go grocery shopping, the steps of success are being built. Often, we listen to marketing campaigns that drive us away from our end result. We believe greek yogurt is better than eggs or we grab 100 calorie snack packs because the packages say it’s good for you. Next time you go shopping, pick up a 100 calorie cookie snack pack that promises it’s good for you and ask yourself “Is this going to help me burn fat?”

The obvious answer will come to you right away.

Step one in the journey to healthy and fit in 2015 is to be mindful of the process and not let yourself get into a unconscious blur. You don’t want to get caught up in that blur because it can crush your results. Being mindful of your schedule, the proper foods to buy, cook, and eat, the workout program you’re on, and hydration and sleep will bring you the best results.

So now, here are some immediate things you can do that will help you drop bodyfat, help you feel better, and get you out of the rut you might be stuck in:

– Drink more water.

If you drink one glass of water today, drink two tomorrow and then add another the next day. Work your way up to around seven or eight bottles of water a day and you will be fully hydrated, which helps your body burn more fat. A lack of hydration can mess with your energy levels, performance in the gym, and functions of the body’s hormones and digestive system.

– Eat these foods:

Lean Meats. Chicken, Turkey, Beef, Buffalo, Pork, Venison, and Fish

Vegetables: Romaine Lettuce, Spinach, Cauliflower, Peppers, Carrots, Onions, Squash, Zucchini, Cucumbers and more. Make the produce section the place where you spend most of your time at the grocery store. Most stores have prepackaged salads that are great to grab a few handfuls from and take with you to work.

Nuts and Seeds. Almonds, Cashews, Walnuts, Pumpkin Seeds, Sunflower Seeds, Hemp Seeds, more.

Fruit. Apples, Bananas, Lemons, Limes, Berries of all kinds, and more.

Also eggs should be in your diet.

Cook with coconut oil, olive oil, or real butter.

Eating rices and potatoes are fine. Keep them to one meal a day and it’s best if it’s after a workout. Carbs don’t make you fat. Eating too much food and not moving enough does.

A lunch or dinner plate should look like this:

One Serving of a lean meat

Two Servings of Vegetables

One Serving of Nuts or Seeds or Nut/Seed Butter

One Servings of a carb source like Rice or Potato (preferably once a day after a workout)

For breakfast, I usually eat 4 to 6 eggs or I just grab a Whey or Hemp Protein shake and a banana or apple if I’m in a rush.

The key to success with nutrition is to eat healthy and whole foods. You should absolutely avoid foods that have a lot of processed material in them. Foods like microwave popcorn won’t help you see fat loss. Foods that you find in the snack and cereal aisle like weight watcher cookies or 100 calorie pretzels won’t help you see fat loss. The more real, quality, foods that you eat, the better your results will be.

Once your nutrition and hydration are in order, it’s time to talk about exercise.

– Exercise at the level of your current fitness.

Many people are afraid of exercise. It burns the muscles, the lungs, gets the heart pumping and uses our energy. Sometimes we just don’t have any energy left after dealing with the kids, the jobs, the dog, and more, but exercise doesn’t need to scare you.

For beginners, there is no reason why you won’t lose a lot of fat by simply walking for a few minutes everyday. Walking is the most underrated exercise there is for people it benefits most. Walking doesn’t burn as many calories as running or burpees, but for people who have a hard time breathing during heavy exercise or have a lot of weight to lose, walking is simply the best thing you can do. But, you also have to make it more challenging every time. That might mean walk faster, go further, or walk longer.

There is a large number of people I’ve encountered who have no time to exercise. They’re schedules are packed with work, kids, sports, school, and many other important life events. But that doesn’t have to stop you from working out. Sure, it’s hard to just get started at home, especially when you don’t have the accountability of a coach like those at Activate Fitness, but you can always find ten minutes for an at-home workout.

Here is a sample at home workout you can perform right now that will shed fat in 10 or 15 minutes.

10 Bodyweight Squats
10 Push Ups
10 Sit Ups
20 Jumping Jacks

Repeat that circuit for 10,15,20 minutes or more.

For those of you who have time to make it to the gym and are able to perform workouts effectively, you want to make sure you train three to four times a week. Progression in strength, endurance, and mobility is important. As you train you should be working on getting stronger and feeling like you can get through an intense workout better. Simply showing up for a workout and going through the motions will not help you produce the change you’re after.

This brings me to my secret weapon when it comes to losing fat fast.

A notebook.

Several years ago I was 60 pounds overweight and struggling to drop fat. I was working out four times a week and trying to eat the healthiest I could at the time. The problem was, I was not losing weight. I was stuck and it pissed me off. Then one day, I heard someone talking about how record keeping, writing your daily foods and exercise, in a notebook is one of the most powerful things we can when trying to lose weight.

Within 30 days of writing down everything I ate and what I did during my workouts, I lost over 20 pounds. Within 60 days, well over 30 pounds. Over half of the entire weight I lost from when I was my fattest came within two months of writing things down. Sounds like something you should do huh?

Here’s an example of an entry in a notebook.

5 am workout
Trap Bar Deadlifts with 225 pounds 5 sets of 5
Push Ups 5 sets of 20
1 Arm DB Rows 4 sets of 20 with 60 pound dumbbell
Bodyweight Walking Lunges 4 sets of 100 feet
Plank 4 sets for 1 minute

Finished workout with 5 minutes of Jump Rope

6:30am- Breakfast
4 eggs
1 Banana

9:30am- Snack
1 Scoop of Whey Protein
2 ounces of Almonds

1pm- Lunch

6 Ounces of Chicken Breast
2 Handfuls of Spinach/Mixed Green Salad
2 TBSP Olive Oil
2 Ounces of Mixed Pumpkin and Sunflower Seeds

4pm- Snack

1 Red Apple
2 carrots sliced
1 TBSP of natural peanut butter

6pm- Dinner

6 Ounces of Pork Chops
2 Handfuls of Spinach/Mixed Green Salad
2 TBSP Olive Oil
1 Cup of White Rice
2 Ounces of Mixed Nuts on Salad

8pm- Dessert

1 Cup of Mixed, Sliced Strawberries and Blueberries
1 TBSP of Heavy Whipped Cream

That is a perfect notebook entry for when you’re trying to lose weight. It shows you exactly what you did, when you did it, and it keeps it recorded so you can always go back and look or show your coach if you have one. Doing this takes roughly a few minutes each day and if it seems like a hassle to you, most likely you don’t want to lose fat, you’re just pretending.

Now that we have your hydration, your nutrition, your exercise and movement, and the secret weapon (a notebook), the last thing to do is talk about:

– Sleep

How long do you sleep each day? 4, 5, 8 hours?

“The best I can do” is usually the answer and for awhile, it’s okay. You can’t change it right away but it should be worked on. If you sleep less than 7 or 8 hours a night, working on getting more will help you lose more fat in 2015. If possible, like on weekends, find time to nap. Even if it’s 30 minutes. Napping is a great way to relax the body and help yourself catch up on needed rest. Sleep has a big effect on performance and mindfulness, work on it.

I am confident that if you follow these simple guidelines you will burn more fat than ever before. I don’t want you to get overwhelmed though. If one thing is harder than the others, don’t make it as big of a deal until you have the ability to focus and make it happen.

Some people have no time to cook. While eating out isn’t the best thing to do, you can find alternatives to menu items that are somewhat in-line with the foods I listed. Don’t just give up and blow your diet.

Workouts are hard to do and finish. Start where you are. If a 10 minute walk fatigues you, that is progress and not something that should get you down. It’s a small success that will lead to big results. If you can’t make it to the gym, do the circuit above for a few minutes and be happy that you had the ability to do it in the first place. Sometimes you have to find the inner strength to make the workouts happen as well. If the baby naps and that time is the only peaceful quiet time you have all day, it’s probably a good bet that you should train during that time. It will make you feel better.

The key to your success in 2015 when it comes to losing fat is your mindset. Say it’s hard or not worth it and you’ll be stuck exactly where you stand. Accept the resistance of exercise, the difficulty of scheduling, shopping and cooking, and you will find that you have the time and ability to get in the best shape of your life. Drop the excuses. There are none. The only reason you have for not getting results is the fact that you don’t want to try. All it takes is a little effort and you will change your life.

Huge list of shakes if you like variety!

Huge list of shakes if you like variety!

Almond Peach Delight
1 scoop vanilla powder, 1 ½ cups skim milk, ½ -1 cup frozen peaches, ½ tsp almond extract, ½ tsp cinnamon

Apple Cinnamon
1 scoop vanilla powder, 1 ½ cups skim milk, ½-1 cup of chopped frozen apple, 1 tsp cinnamon

Apple Pie Delight — YUMMY
1 scoop of vanilla powder, 1 peeled and cored apple, cut into pieces, 1 ½ cups of milk,
½ tsp cinnamon, ½ tsp nutmeg, 5 Ice Cubes, Microwave the apple pieces for 2 minutes on high. Add all ingredients to blender, puree for 30 seconds.

Apple Smoothie
½ cup milk, skim, ¼ cup yogurt, plain, fat free, no added sugar,(greek yogurt will add additional protein!) ¼ cup applesauce, no added sugar, 1 scoop Vanilla powder, pinch cinnamon, pinch nutmeg, ¼ tsp. vanilla extract, 4 ice cubes, Put all ingredients into blender. Blend on high for 45 seconds.

Apricot Fantasy
1 scoop vanilla powder, 1 ½ cups skim milk, 1- 2 small apricots, ¼ cup raw almonds
½ tsp almond extract, Ice

Banana Almond Creme
1 Banana, ½ Cup Milk, 10 Almonds, 1 scoop powder, 5 Ice Cubes

Banapple Blast
1 scoop vanilla powder, 1 ½ cups skim milk, ½ small green apple, ½ frozen banana
½ tsp cinnamon

Banana Bread Shake
2 scoops protein, 1 Banana, ½ Cup Quaker Oatmeal (cook with boiling water), ¾ Cup Kellogg’s Bran Flakes, 1 Bottle of water, Sugar, Brown Sugar or Artificial Sweetener to taste.

Banana Cheerio Quickfast
1-2 scoops of chocolate powder, 6-8 ounces of water, 4-6 ice cubes, 1 banana, ¾ cup cheerios, Mix in a blender on medium for 1 minute.

Banana Delight
8 oz water, ½ banana (frozen), 2 oz protein of choice, 2 tsp flax seed oil

Banana Split
Mix one serving of vanilla or chocolate according to directions. Then, add 1 ripe banana, ¼ cup chopped pineapple, 4 frozen strawberries and 3 ice cubes. Blend at high speed for 45 seconds.

Berries & Cream Shake
1 Scoop Vanilla powder, 1 Scoop Ice, 1 Lil Can Of Pineapple Juice (cook with boiling water), 1 Handful Of Mixed Berries.

Berry Good Shake
Mix 2 scoops of Raspberry Yogurt and protein powder, 4 strawberries, 15 blueberries
16 ounces of nonfat milk, ½ cup of ice cubes.

Berry Madness
1-2 scoops of vanilla powder, 1 ½ cups water or skim milk, ¼ cup of frozen or fresh strawberries, ¼ cup of frozen or fresh blueberries, ¼ cup of frozen or fresh, raspberries, add ice for extra thickness

1 single tall espresso shot, 12 oz milk, 2 scoops vanilla powder, scoop ice

Blueberry Blaster
1-2 scoops of vanilla powder, 6-8 oz of water, 4 to 6 ice cubes, 20-30 blueberries, Mix in a blender on medium for 1 minute.

Blueberry Dream
10 oz water, ½ cup fresh or frozen blueberries, 1.5 oz protein of choice, 2 tsp flax seed oil, 15 drops liquid stevia (optional)

Blueberry Vanilla Pear
1 scoop vanilla powder, 1 ½ cups skim milk, ¼-½ cup frozen blueberries, ¼-½ cup chopped pear, Ice

Blue Mango Heaven
1 scoop vanilla powder, 1 ½ cups skim milk, ¼ -½ cup frozen mango, 1/3-½ cup blueberries

Breakfast Boost
Blend 8 oz of orange juice with a half-cup non-fat, plain yogurt, half a banana, one serving of protein, 1 tbsp flax seed oil, four frozen peach slices and 3 ice cubes. Blend at high speed for 45 seconds and serve.

Breezy-Freezy Shake
1-2 scoops of vanilla powder, 1-1 ½ cups of water or skim milk, 1 cup reduced fat mango yogurt, ¼ of frozen pineapple, ½ -1 banana, Add ice for extra thickness

Carnation Instant Breakfast Smoothie
¼ cup orange juice, 100%, ½ cup milk, skim, 1 package Carnation Instant Breakfast, vanilla, no added sugar, 1 scoop Any Protein, 4 ice cubes, Put all ingredients into blender. Blend on high for 45 seconds.

Cherry Ripe
1 scoop vanilla powder, 1 ½ cups skim milk, ¼-½ frozen banana, ¼-½ cup frozen black cherries

Chocolate Almond Delight
10-12 oz water, 15 raw almonds, ½ tsp coconut extract, 1.5 oz chocolate powder, Stevia to taste (optional), 3-5 ice cubes (optional), (first, blend the almonds until creamy smooth in ½ the water, then add the rest of the ingredients)

Chocolate Banana Crunch
Mix one serving of chocolate according to directions. Then, add one banana and three ice cubes. Blend at high speed for 45 seconds. Then, add four low-fat chocolate wafers, blend at low speed for ten seconds, and server.

Chocolate Banana Shake
1-2 scoops chocolate powder, 6-8 oz water, 4-6 ice cubes, 1 banana, Mix in a blender on medium for 1 minute.

Chocolate Coffee Shake
Mix 2 scoops of Milk Chocolate protein, 1 cup of skim milk, 5 ice cubes, 1 cup of water
1 spoonful of instant coffee,

Chocolate Dream
½ scoop Chocolate powder, ½ scoop Vanilla powder, 8 oz milk, skim, Stir ingredients together or use shaker cup.

Chocolate Fudge Shake
2 scoops chocolate powder, 2 tbsp chocolate fudge sugar free pudding mix, 8 oz water
5 large ice cubes, tiny silver spoon (optional), Blend powder, pudding and water, add ice cubes, blend till crushed, with ice slivers still un-melted, pour into insulated cup (makes
about 16 oz) and eat it with a tiny silver spoon.

Chocolate Lovers
12 oz water, 1 tsp cocoa powder, 2 tbsp low fat sour cream, 10-15 drops liquid stevia, 2 oz protein chocolate flavor, 2 tsp flax seed oil

Chocolate Strawberry Blast
1-2 scoops of chocolate powder, 6-8 ounces of water, 4-6 ice cubes, 8 strawberries, Mix in a blender on medium for 1 minute.

Chocolate Vanilla Swirl
½ scoop chocolate powder, ½ scoop vanilla powder, splash Vitamite, splash water, Ice,

Choco-Banana Nut
1 scoop vanilla powder, 1 ½ cups skim milk, ¼-½ frozen banana, 1 tbsp of raw cashew butter

Chocolate Mocha
½ cup milk, skim, 1 1/3 Tbsp General Foods International Swiss Mocha Instant Coffee, sugar free, 1 scoop Chocolate powder, 4 ice cubes, Put all ingredients into blender. Blend on high for 45 seconds.

Chocolate Peanut Butter Cup
Mix one serving of chocolate according to directions. Then, add 1 heaping tbsp of all-natural peanut butter and 3 ice cubes. Blend at high speed for 45 seconds and serve. (maybe use PB2?)

Chocolate Peanut Butter Supreme
12 oz. Water, 4 ice cubes, 1 tbsp heavy whipping cream, 1 tbsp natural peanut butter, 2 scoops chocolate powder

Cinnamon Roll Supreme
Mix one serving of vanilla according to directions. Then, add ½ tsp ground cinnamon, 1 tsp fat-free Butter Buds and 3 ice cubes. Blend at high speed for 45 seconds and serve.

Cinnamon Roll Protein Shake
2 scoops vanilla, 1 tbsp sugar-free instant vanilla pudding, ¼ tsp cinnamon, ½ tsp vanilla, 1 packet artificial sweetener, a few dashes butter flavor sprinkles or butter-flavor extract, 8 oz. water (or low-fat milk), 3 ice cubes, Add all ingredients to blender, whip, and serve.

Coffee Lovers Delight
1 scoop vanilla powder, 1 ½ cups skim milk, ¼-½ cup raw almonds or cashews, 1-2 tsp instant decaffeinated coffee

¾ cup orange juice, 100%, 1 package, Carnation Instant Breakfast, vanilla, 1 scoop protein powder, 4 ice cubes

Creamy Coffee Ice Cream
1 scoop of vanilla powder, 13 oz ice cubes, 3 oz water, 2 tsp ground coffee, Blend the ice cubes until you get a snow. Add the protein, the ground coffee, the water and blend for 5-10 minutes to a smooth consistency. Freeze 30 – 60 minutes for thicker ice cream.

Creamy Peach Smoothie
1-2 scoops of vanilla powder, 1 ½ cups water or skim milk, ¼-½ cup of frozen peaches, ¼-½ frozen banana, ice for extra thickness

Double Deluxe Chocolate Fudge
Mix one serving of chocolate according to directions. Then, add one packet of Swiss Miss fat-free hot cocoa mix and three ice cubes. Blend at high speed for 45 seconds and serve.

1 scoop Vanilla powder, 1 cup skim milk, ¼ cup egg substitute, 1 Tbsp Instant, pudding, vanilla, sugar free, dry, ½ tsp. vanilla extract, Put all ingredients into blender. Blend on high for 45 seconds. Chill, and then stir prior to serving.

Eye opener
1 scoop protein powder, 1 tsp instant coffee, 12 oz ice cold water, 2 ice cubes and blend

Fat Burning Peaches and Cream
8 oz water, 1 ripe peach, 2 tbs. low fat sour cream, 8 drops liquid stevia (optional)
1.5 oz protein of choice

Frozen Chocolate Banana
12 oz. Water, 4-5 ice cubes, 1 banana, 1 tbsp heavy cream, 2 scoops chocolate powder

Fruit Freeze
½ cup skim milk, 1 scoop Vanilla powder, 5 strawberries, frozen, no added sugar, 2 peaches, frozen, no added sugar, ¼ cup pineapple, canned, packed in juice, Put all ingredients into blender. Blend on high for 45 seconds. Strain through a fine mesh strainer.

Fruit Smoothie
2 scoops strawberry, 4 large strawberries, blueberries ( a small handful), water (just a few drops), ½ cup ice, Splenda, Start off by crushing the ice in the blender and then gradually add the fruit and enough water to get it smooth. Finish off with the two scoops of whey and enough Splenda to make it sweet.

German Chocolate Cake
12 oz Water, 4 ice cubes, 1 tbsp heavy cream, 1 tbsp cream of coconut, 2 scoops chocolate powder

Ginger Bread Man
1 scoop vanilla powder, 1 graham cracker, ½ tsp cinnamon, 1 capful vanilla, 12oz water, 4 Ice Cubes ,Blend 45 seconds

High Energy Shake!
10 oz water, 10 strawberries (Fresh or Frozen), 1 tbsp flax seed oil, ½ tsp vanilla, 1 heaping scoop protein, Stevia to taste (optional), 2-3 ice cubes (optional)

Hot Cocoa
1 cup milk, skim, 1 scoop Chocolate powder, Heat milk in microwave on high power for 90 seconds or until desired temperature is reached. Stir in Matrix 5.0 until dissolved.

Hot Cocoa
1 cup milk, skim, 1 scoop Vanilla powder, 1 packet hot cocoa, sugar free, Heat milk in microwave on high power for 90 seconds or until desired temperature is reached. Stir in Matrix 5.0 and hot cocoa until dissolved.
Iced Café Vienna
1 cup milk, skim, 1 scoop Vanilla powder, 1 2/3 Tbsp General Foods International Coffees Café Vienna, sugar free, 4 ice cubes, Put all ingredients into blender. Blend on high for 45 seconds.

Iced Latte
1 cup decaffeinated coffee, chilled, 1 scoop Vanilla powder, 4 ice cubes, Place all ingredients in blender. Blend until smooth.

Juicy Lucy
10 oz apple juice (can use orange/blend), 1 scoop ice, ½ large banana, 4 frozen strawberries, 2 scoops vanilla powder

Key Lime Pie
Mix one serving of vanilla whey according to directions. Then, add 2 tbsp frozen lime juice, one graham cracker (four small squares) and 3 ice cubes. Blend at high speed for 45 seconds and serve.

Melon madness
1 scoop vanilla powder, 1 ½ cups skim milk, ¼-½ cup frozen watermelon

Mocha Shake
6 oz. Water, 4 ice cubes, 2 tbsp heavy whipping cream, 6 oz. coffee*, 2 scoops chocolate powder, *You may use 12 oz. coffee and no water for an extra pre-workout or morning kick!

Nada Colada Protein Shake
2 scoops vanilla, ½, cup pineapple-orange juice*, ¼ tsp rum extract, ¼ tsp coconut extract (or 2 tbsp shredded coconut), 1 packet artificial sweetener, 4 oz. water (or low-fat milk), 3-6 ice cubes, Low-carb version: Omit juice and use ½ tsp sugar-free pineapple-orange drink mix (dry). Increase water or milk to 8 oz, Add all ingredients to blender, whip, and serve.

Oatmeal Meal Replacement Shake
1 cup dry measure oatmeal, cooked in water and cooled, 2 scoops vanilla, 3 dashes cinnamon, 1/8 cup sugar free maple syrup or equivalent amount brown sugar replacement, 1 tbsp chopped almonds (or flaxseed oil or natural peanut butter), 12 oz water or low-fat milk, Add all ingredients to blender, blend, and pour into cup. If your short on time, just use dry oatmeal or oat flour.

Orange And Cream Delight
1 Bottle of Orange Gatorade, 1 scoop Vanilla, Simple, yet tasty!

Orange Creamsicle
1-2 scoops of vanilla powder, 6-8 ounces of water, 4-6 ice cubes, 1-2 peeled oranges, Mix in a blender on medium for 1 minute.
Orange Vanilla Shake
Mix 2 scoops of Vanilla, 8 oz Orange Juice, 4-5 ice cubes, 1 tsp Vanilla, ½ banana, 2-3 frozen strawberries, 2 packets of sweetener,

Mix one serving of vanilla according to directions. Then, add one heaping tbsp of all-natural peanut butter and four frozen strawberries. Blend at high speed for 45 seconds and serve

Peanut Brittle Protein Shake
2 scoops vanilla, 1 tbsp sugar-free instant butterscotch pudding mix, dry 1 tbsp natural peanut butter, chunky, 8 oz. cold water or lowfat milk, 3-6 ice cubes This mimics peanut brittle only in taste. Add all ingredients to blender, blend, and serve. I like to add the peanut butter in last so it stays a little chunky, just like the peanut brittle it is replacing.

Peanut Butter And Banana Shake
2 scoops Vanilla, 100g almond flakes, 1 tbsp peanut butter, 500ml skim milk, half banana, 1 tbsp honey

Peanut Butter Chocolate Truffle
2 scoops chocolate powder, 1 tsp peanut butter, 16 ounces nonfat milk, ½ cup ice cubes

Peppermint Oatmeal Shake
Mix 2 scoops of Milk Chocolate Protein, 1 cup sugar free vanilla ice cream, 1 cup oatmeal, 2 cups non-fat milk, ½ cup water, a splash of peppermint extract!

Piña Colada
1 scoop vanilla powder, 1 ½ cups skim milk, ½ -1 cup frozen pineapple pieces, ½ tsp coconut extract

Pina Colada Passion
12 oz. Water, 4 ice cubes, 3 scoops vanilla powder, 1/3 cup Pineapple chunks
2 tsp Coconut extract

Pineapple Blast
4 ice cubes, 12 oz. Water, 2 scoops vanilla powder, ½ cup pineapple chunks

Pineapple Power
1 cup of pineapple juice, 3 strawberries, 1 banana, 1 tsp of yogurt, 1 scoop of your choice of protein

Plum Ice Shake
Mix 2 scoops of Vanilla, 1 ripe plum, juice of 1 lemon, 16 oz of ice water, ½ cup ice cubes.

Protein Power Carnation Instant Breakfast
1 cup milk, skim, 1 package Carnation Instant Breakfast, no added sugar, 1 scoop Any Whey Protein, 4 ice cubes , Put all ingredients into blender. Blend on high for 45 seconds.

Protein Power Crystal Light
½ cup Crystal Light, 1 scoop Any Whey Protein, 2 Tbsp Cool Whip Free, 4 ice cubes, Put all ingredients into blender. Blend on high for 45 seconds.

Protein Power Plus Carnation Instant Breakfast
1 cup milk, skim, 1 package Carnation Instant Breakfast, no added sugar, 2 scoops Any Whey Protein, 4 ice cubes, Put all ingredients into blender. Blend on high for 45 seconds.

Protein Power Orange Frostie
½ cup orange juice, 100%, 1 scoop Any Whey Protein, 2 Tbsp Cool Whip Light, 4 ice cubes, Put all ingredients into blender. Blend on high for 45 seconds.

Protein Power Pineapple Smoothie
2/3 cup pineapple juice, 100%, ½ cup cottage cheese, fat free, 1 scoop Any Whey Protein
Put all ingredients into blender. Blend on high for 45 seconds. Strain through a fine mesh strainer.

Protein Power Strawberry Carnation Instant Breakfast
1 cup milk, skim, 1 package Carnation Instant Breakfast, no added sugar, 1 scoop Any Whey Protein, ½ cup strawberries, frozen, no added sugar, Put all ingredients into blender. Blend on high for 45 seconds.

Protein Powered Vegetable Juice
1 cup tomato or V-8 juice, 1 scoop Any Whey Protein, Blend or use a shaker cup to mix well. Pour over ice or blend with ice.

Protein Shake
1 cup skim milk, 2 tsp safflower oil, Several pieces of ice, 1 banana, 1 package of Carnation Instant Breakfast, (any flavor–strawberry, chocolate, cappacino, French vanilla, chocolate malt), Mix together in blender until ice is completely crushed and mixed well.

Protein Tower of Power
Mix two servings of vanilla, chocolate or strawberry according to directions, and three ice cubes. Blend at high speed for 45 seconds and serve.

Pumpkin Spice Latte
1 scoop Vanilla powder, 1 tbsp Canned Pumpkin (not pumpkin pie filling), ¼ tsp Apple Pie Spice (cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice), ½ cup Skim Milk, 2 tsp Splenda or Equal (add more or less to adjust sweetness), ½ cup Water, 1 tsp Instant Coffee (regular or decaf), Hea****er in microwave (below 130 degrees) then, mix in instant coffee Add: -Coffee (as prepared above), milk, canned pumpkin, Vanilla powder, apple pie spice and sweetener in blender -Blend until combined (about 30 seconds) -Heat in microwave
until warm or serve over ice Fun Extras: -Serve with a cinnamon stick -Top with 1 tablespoon of cool-whip (sugar free or regular) and sprinkle with Apple Pie Spice

Quick Start
3 oranges (fresh juiced only, NOT canned or bottled, 6 drops liquid stevia (optional)
1 oz protein of choice

Raspberry Chocolate Thick
1-2 scoops of chocolate powder, 6-8 ounces of whole (or 2%) milk, 6 ice cubes
8 raspberries, Mix in a blender on medium for 1 minute. Pour into a tall glass. Drink or eat with a spoon!

Raspberry Rhubarb Magic
1 scoop vanilla powder, 1 ½ cups skim milk, ¼-½ cup frozen chopped rhubarb, ¼-½ cup frozen raspberries

Rise and Shine
½ cup orange juice, 100%, ¼ cup yogurt, vanilla, fat free, no added sugar, ¼ banana, ripe
3 peach slices, frozen, no added sugar, 2 scoops Any Whey Protein, Put all ingredients into blender. Blend on high for 45 seconds. Strain through a fine metal mesh strainer.

Rock N’ Roll Protein Shake
1 cup water, 1 big scoop vanilla powder, ¾ cup natural yogurt, 1 banana, 1 tsp of flax-seed oil, 2 tsp of honey,

Root Beer Float
1 can Diet A&W Root Beer, 1-2 tbsp Heavy Cream, 4 ice cubes, 1-3 scoops vanilla powder

Root Beer Float
Mix one cup of diet root beer, that has gone flat with one scoop vanilla powder, and it tastes like a root beer float!

Simply Peachy-Keen
1-2 scoops vanilla powder, 1 ½ cups water or skim milk, ¼-½ cup of, frozen peaches, Add ice for extra thickness

Strawberry-Banana Frost
Mix one serving of strawberry according to directions. Then, add 1 ripe banana and 3 ice cubes. Blend at high speed for 45 seconds and serve.

Strawberry Berry Berry
1 scoop Strawberry powder, 4 strawberries (frozen or fresh), ¼ cup blueberries, 1 cup cranberry juice, 1 cup ice or crushed ice, Put all ingredients into blender and mix to desired consistency., Serve cold.

Strawberry Cheesecake
Mix one serving of vanilla according to directions. Then, add three tbsp of Jell-O’s no-bake, reduced-fat cheesecake mix, three low-fat vanilla wafers, and four frozen strawberries. Blend at high speed for 45 seconds and serve.

Strawberry Chocolate Milk
2 Scoops Strawberry powder, 1 Scoop Carnation Fat Free Hot Cocoa, 14 oz water
Mix in blender with ice for a “shake” or shake in shaker for a more, milky consistency

Strawberry Delight
1 scoop vanilla powder, 1 ½ cups skim milk, ¼-½ cup frozen strawberries, ¼ cup frozen mango slices

Strawberry Nut Shake
Mix 2 Scoops Vanilla, 1 cup fat-free strawberry yogurt, 6 shredded macadamia nuts.

Strawberry for Protein Dummies
10 frozen strawberries, ½ small banana, 1 scoop powder, 8 oz Water, 1/3 cup Carnation Nonfat Dry Milk, Splenda to taste

Strawberry Savior
4 scoops vanilla powder, 8 oz water, 1 strawberry yogurt, 3 frozen strawberries
1 tsp flax seed oil,

Super Slimmer
8 oz water, 1 tbsp flax seed oil, ½ ripe peach (peeled), 6 frozen strawberries
1 heaping scoop protein, Stevia to taste (optional)

Super Vanilla Shake
½ cup milk, skim, ¼ cup yogurt, plain, fat free, 1 scoop Vanilla powder, 1 scoop Any Whey Protein, 4 ice cubes, Put all ingredients into blender. Blend on high for 45 seconds.

Tangerine Cream
12 oz. Tangerine Diet Rite, 4 Ice Cubes, 1-2 tbsp heavy cream, 1-3 scoops vanilla powder

The Best Protein Shake Ever
2 scoops chocolate, 10 Ice Cubes, 12 oz fat free milk, 2 tbsp fat free vanilla yogurt
1 tbsp reduced fat peanut butter, 2 tbsp hazelnut coffee, 1/8 cup caramel ice cream topping, You can add more or less caramel topping, depending on how sweet you want your shake.

The Best Overall Tasting Homemade Protein Shake
16 oz skim milk, 2 cups no-fat cottage cheese, 3 scoops vanilla, ½ cup non-fat, reduced-sugar vanilla yogurt scoop of your favorite fruit, Splenda or Sweet-n-Low to taste (about 2 packets), Handful of Ice, Blend together and chill.

The Hulk
2 scoops vanilla, ½ tbsp sugar-free pistachio pudding mix, 1 mint leaf or a few drops peppermint extract (optional), 1 few drops green food coloring (optional), 8 oz cold water or low-fat milk , 3-5 ice cubes, Add all ingredients to blender, blend, and pour into cup. This tastes great without the mint so don’t worry if you don’t have it around. The shake is a light green even without the food coloring but if you want it green (like The Hulk!), you’ll need a few drops.

Tropical Fruit Freeze
Mix one serving of strawberry according to directions. Then, add ¼ cup frozen, unsweetened peaches, ¼ cup pineapple, and 3 ice cubes. Blend at high speed for 45 seconds and serve.

Thick Banana Protein Shake
1 cup skim milk, 2 tsp. safflower oil, Several pieces of ice, 1 banana, 1 package of Carnation Instant Breakfast, (any flavor–strawberry, chocolate, cappuccino, French vanilla, chocolate malt), Mix together in blender until ice is completely crushed and mixed well.

Tropical Pleasure
8 oz water, ½ tsp pineapple extract, ½ tsp coconut extract, 1 tbsp heavy cream
½ frozen banana, 1 heaping scoop (1 oz) of Egg Protein, Stevia or Agave to taste (optional), 2-3 ice cubes (optional)

Tropical Treat
8 oz water, ½ banana (frozen), 2 tbsp low fat sour cream, 1 tsp coconut extract
10-15 drops liquid stevia (optional), 1.5 oz. protein of choice (vanilla flavor)

Two Berry Delight
1 cup frozen or fresh strawberries, ½ cup raspberries, ½ cup water, 1 cup ice, 1 packet of sweetener, ½ cup milk, 1 cup orange juice vitamins or protein powder, Put all ingredients except ice in blender and blend until smooth. Add ice and blend to give it a frozen smoothie consistency

Vanilla Banana Creamy
1-2 scoops of vanilla powder, 6-8 oz of water or whole (or 2%) milk, 6 ice cubes, 1 banana, Mix in a blender on medium for 1 minute. Pour into a tall glass.

Vanilla Coffee Delight
10-12 oz. low-fat milk, 2 scoops vanilla protein powder, ½ cup low-fat coffee flavored ice cream, Add all ingredients in blender. Blend and enjoy.

Vanilla Nut
1 scoop vanilla powder, 1 ½ cups skim milk, ¼ cup raw organic oatmeal, 1 tbsp raw cashew butter, ½ tsp cinnamon

Vanilla Shake
½ cup milk, skim, ¼ cup yogurt, plain, fat free, 1 scoop Vanilla powder, 4 ice cubes
Put all ingredients into blender. Blend on high for 45 seconds.

Vanilla Yogurt Smoothie
1 cup plain, fat free yogurt, 1 scoop Vanilla powder, ¼ cup milk, skim, Place all ingredients in blender. Blend until smooth.

Whey Egg Nog
Mix one serving of vanilla according to directions. Then, add ½ tsp ground allspice, 1 graham cracker (4 small squares) and 3 ice cubes. Blend at high speed for 45 seconds and serve.

Wild Berry Boost
2 scoops vanilla, 8 raspberries, 4 strawberries, 15 blueberries, 16 ounces nonfat milk, ½ cup ice cubes

Yogurt Smoothie
Blend 1-2 scoops of Any Whey Protein into your favorite no added sugar smooth yogurt flavor and ½ cup milk.

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.

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


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.


 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.


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.

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