Category Archives: carbs

Fat Loss and T-Man Bullets

Fat Loss and T-Man Bullets

This information overload era we live in can be tricky for strength athletes, coaches, and even writers.
In trying to distinguish ourselves from the nonsense and scams that dominate the fitness industry and get good information out to good people, one’s content can start to err on the side of being overly scientific, flashy, or complicated.
You’ve all seen it. Writing becomes less about actual ideas and more about trying to sound smart, discredit others, stand out, impress clients or colleagues, and battle for coach/diet supremacy – basically, self-flagellation supersetted with furious dick swinging.
And it moves too far from what it’s supposed to be – a way to give people practical tools that they can apply to get real results in the real world.

Think In Bullet Points

A successful NFL defensive coordinator once said that most players forget the majority of what you say. Thus, one of the keys to being an effective coach, and getting people to absorb and apply the techniques you’re trying to teach, is to get them to think in bullet points.
I think this is one of the most profound statements I’ve ever heard, and a highly effective coaching strategy. And based on some of the emails I get, I need to implement it more often.
So for this article, let’s dispense with the nonsense. Lets take the ornaments off the tree, and get down to the fat loss roots. Bullet point sounds too formal for my tastes, so let’s call them bullets.
I’ve loaded up my guns, and am randomly firing off some rounds about fat loss, and life in general. Hopefully, a few hit their target. Let the bodies, or more appropriately body fat, hit the floor

Dropping fat is more about what you don’t eat than about what you do.

Fat Loss and T-Man Bullets

  • There’s a definite fat loss hierarchy, and food choices stand on top of the list. The commonality amongst the most effective diet plans is usually what’s not in them.

Why? It’s virtually impossible to stay in the calorie deficit necessary for sustainable fat loss while eating a highly refined food diet.
Until this is recognized, all the complicated calorie counting, macro-distribution patterns, and macro-cycling formulas in the world will only be mildly effective for long-term functionality and sustainability.

  • Yo-yo’ing continues to plague the average person and athlete alike, because discipline is finite. You may be able to suffer for a competition or for some photos, but you can’t suffer forever, thus the inevitable rebound.

It takes incredible discipline to stay in a targeted calorie deficit with poor food choices, but it’s not all that hard to do it when eating real, whole, natural, unprocessed foods. I’d rather take the easiest path to shredded success, but in all fairness, I’m a lazy bastard.
It’s like trying to stay faithful to someone like Adriana Lima versus a chick that maybe isn’t so hot. They both require a baseline level of discipline – because it’s our natural biological desire to spread our seed and indulge in life’s pleasures – but one commitment requires way more work than the other.

If 90% of the foods available aren’t that good for us, then what the hell are we supposed to eat?

Fat Loss and T-Man Bullets

  • For essential nutrients and micronutrients, emphasize lean animal proteins, vegetables, and whole fruit.
  • Energy nutrients: for low carb, healthy fat-based diets, eat whole food fats like fattier protein cuts, nuts, avocado, coconut, etc. For lower fat, carb-based diets, eat low fructose, low anti-nutrient, no gluten, natural starch foods like yams, sweet potatoes, potatoes, and rice.
  • A lower carbohydrate, 100% Paleo-style diet is a good template for sedentary, obese, insulin resistant/type II diabetic populations.
  • A carb-based, traditional Japanese-style diet (fish and rice, chicken and sweet potato, etc.) is a good template for active strength trainers/anaerobic athletes.

Calories are still the most important number to get right. While some macronutrient ratios can improve your chances of succeeding, no macronutrient ratio can make up for caloric excess.
Here are the numbers:
Fat Loss = Take in 10 kcal/lb (or lean body mass if you’re fat).
Maintenance = Take in 15kcal/lb.
Bulk = Take in 20kcal/lbs.
Protein = Take in 1-1.5g/lb
Essential Fats (as byproduct of your animal protein sources, along with Flameout™ if you don’t eat a lot fish) = Take in 0.25g/lb or 15-20% of calories.
The remaining calories can be distributed among added carbohydrates, or added fats, or both, depending on the circumstance.

  • Body types (fat loss types or bulkers) withstanding (which requires more individual assessment), carb intake should be directly tied to your high-intensity, glycogen burning activity levels. Fats should then be adjusted up or down accordingly to stay within your allotted calories.
  • If you’re sedentary, then you get the Starch Nazi: “No starch for you.”
  • If you do a lower volume of work (pure strength training), then starch intake should be more moderate = Protein:Carb ratio of 1:1.
  • If you do a higher volume of work (traditional hypertrophy/bodybuilding training), then starch intake may need to be higher = Protein:Carb ratio of 1:1 to 1:3.
  • If your training volume cycles, you should carb-cycle accordingly.

Still confused? What, are you stupid? Nah, just kidding. Think of it like the gas tank in your car. If your car sits in the garage every day, you don’t need gas. If you only cruise short distances around your hood to gawk at the high school girls, you only need a moderate amount of gas. If you commute long distances to work every day, you may need a lot of gas, and have to fill it up regularly. And if all you do is ride a bike, you probably look more like Pee Wee Herman than a T-man.

  • Yes, there are more complicated formulas, but they aren’t necessary. Everything has to be adjusted based on personal biofeedback and results anyway, so why make the starting point more complicated then it needs to be?

Besides, many need to stop reading about what to do and start applying what they already know (after they get done reading my article, of course).

If you control for food choices, calories, macro-ratios, etc., meal frequency doesn’t matter as much as people once thought (myself included). There’s no real metabolic advantage or significant difference in body composition change.

  • Traditional bodybuilding nutrition (5-6 meals a day), three-square meals a day, and intermittent fasting protocols (1-3 meals a day) can all work, and are all viable methods if the other fat loss variables have been accounted for.
  • Conversely, no meal frequency pattern can make up for a shitty diet, i.e. thinking fasting will finally allow you to eat pizza and KFC and get ripped. Even advanced athletes grasp for miracle cures.
  • The optimal meal frequency pattern for you, then, is whatever pattern helps you consistently stick to your diet. More so than physiology, it’s the psychological and social factors that must be considered when determining a successful long-term approach. This is one reason why intermittent fasting protocols are gaining in popularity – they’re helping break are obsessive, compulsive behaviors with food.
  • If you’re a high-level performance athlete, have a racehorse metabolism and/or are bulking, or just have high calorie demands, you may need to spread food intake out over 5-6 meals a day. Only Miyaki and Kobayashi can eat 10,000 calories in 10 minutes.
  • For most people – meaning those who have real jobs and real commitments, and are within more normal calorie ranges to drop fat – basing the diet on 2-3 meals a day, with some extra peri-workout nutrition on training days, is the most convenient, realistic, and sustainable approach.
  • While physiologically I get that most of our carbs should be eaten post-workout, psychologicallythe most functional and sustainable plans are the ones in which the majority of calories and starchy carbs are eaten at night.

This is our natural, evolutionary tendency. We were hunters and gatherers, working all day with little-to-no food (fat burning, energy production mode), and then finishing the day relaxing and eating a big meal of whatever we caught (muscle building, energy replenishment mode). Yes I have read the Warrior Diet, and yes I do give credit where credit is due.
Psychologically, this takes advantage of the sacrifice/reward patterns in the brain. Most people can sacrifice, cut calories, and eat lighter during the day if they know they can eat a complete dinner at night and go to bed satiated.
Not only that, big meals during the day often lead to rebound hypoglycemia, sleepiness, and lack of productivity. Trying to cut calories at night leads to late night cravings, cheating/binges, or carb depleted, serotonin inhibited-based insomnia.
So flip the script. Stay active and alert during the day, eat a complete satiating meal at night that you look forward to, and sleep soundly.

To sum up:

Fat Loss and T-Man Bullets

  • Eat a protein-only breakfast, no carbs. This is my preferred approach, but for intermittent fasting practitioners, I’m cool with skipping breakfast. The overall theme is to keep insulin low, and not jack it up with muffins and mocha’s.
  • Eat a Paleo/Caveman-style lunch. Protein + vegetables and/or whole fruit, no starchy carbs.
  • Eat a Japanese-style dinner. Protein + vegetables + starchy carbs, with the majority of calories and carbs here.
  • The exception is post-workout nutrition, which is non-negotiable. Regardless of the time of day, eat a good protein/carb (1:1 to 1:2 ratio) combo following every intense workout to refill glycogen stores and initiate muscle growth. This can replace one of the meals or be added as an extra one (like a Surge® Recovery recovery drink followed by a “normal” meal 30-60 min. later).

Maybe you consider the above bro-science. I consider it something that works. Which brings me to a bigger topic – whether you follow bro-science (meathead approved), ho-science (from guys who can quote study after study but have never actually stepped foot inside a gym), or real science, they’re all still just hypotheses that need to be tested in the real world.
In the end none of it really matters; the only thing that matters is what works , personally, given your unique situation. Use science and systems to give yourself an informed starting point, but don’t dogmatically cling to anything, regardless of the source.

Does anyone else think our industry has gotten out of control? Whatever happened to a man stating his opinions and being done with it? Online strength training and nutrition forums have gone from a place where like-minded enthusiasts could compare ideas and disagree respectfully over minor points, to virtual schoolyards run by overgrown teenaged girls who name call, bully, and cat fight over dogma like it was Team Edward versus Team Jacob.
I’ve got a few more shots in this pistol I’m packing.

  • Don’t let some dick huddled up over his keyboard in his parents’ basement dictate what you pursue, what nutrition philosophies you follow, or even worse, how you live your life. Anyone who’s that interested in putting down what you do probably doesn’t have that much going on for themselves.
  • Be who you are, say what you believe, and do what you want to do without worrying too much about the consequences. Make the choices that are right for you, not anyone else. If you’re just trying to project an image, fit in with the crowd, and care too much about what others think of you then, a) you’re a pussy, and b) your life isn’t going to be much fun, because you’re going to end up with one that you don’t really want.

The above bullets are just my thoughts. You can follow none, one, some, or all of them as you see fit. It’s really no sweat off my ‘sac either way. I’m too lazy to be a guru, and arguing with someone set in his/her ways is wasted effort.
But on a more positive note, I’ll be happy if my advice helps you somehow, and I mean that, so shoot me a Spill or a message or a tweet. I get quite a few, so I know I’m helping some people. That’s all that matters to me.
My guns are empty my friends. Now I can go back to being the laid-back, beach dude that I am. Peace.


12 Reasons You’re Not Losing Fat | How to Build Muscle, Gain Strength & Become a Better Athlete

1) You’re Eating Too Many Carbs

carbohydrates 300x238 12 Reasons Youre Not Losing FatThis should be pretty obvious to most people by now, but there are still the old die-hards out there who swear that everyone should be consuming two grams of carbs per pound of bodyweight every day while maintaining a low fat intake. Load up on whole grains and fruit while cutting down on healthy, essential sources of fat like grass fed beef they’ll tell you.
Anyone experienced in physique transformation knows this is nonsense.Most people have a terrible tolerance for carbs, shitty insulin sensitivity and simply don’t do enough physically demanding work to warrant too many carbs. If you want to get lean cutting carbs is usually one of the first and most important steps you need to take. That doesn’t mean you can’t have any but you need to make smart choices and they need to be taken in at the right times and cycled properly.

2) You’re Eating Carbs at the Wrong Time

If you’re above 20% body-fat pretty much any time is the wrong time. In that case I would only recommend vegetables and possibly some post workout potatoes or a once per week refeed. When you get down to 15% you can increase the amount of carbs in the post workout meal or the weekly refeed. Everyone else should limit carb consumption to post workout and night time, as per The Renegade Diet rules. During the day you want to be alert and focused, which is one reason why you don’t want to load up on starchy carbs during this time. Save for them for the night time when you want to optimize serotonin production and rest, relax and repair.

3) You’re Eating Too Much Fat

Some people cut carbs and assume that they’re good to go and there’s nothing else to worry about. Unfortunately, the low/no carb diet isn’t as much fun as Dr. Atkins made it out to be. You can’t just eat pounds of bacon and mayonnaise with reckless abandon and think that you’ll magically end up ripped. Fat contains calories; nine per gram to be exact. At the end of the day total calories still matter, and if you’re eating more than you burn you’re never going to get ripped. Please don’t mistake this as my advocating a low fat diet. That’s just as bad, if not worse, than eating too much fat. A bare minimum of 20% of your calories should come from healthy fats like pastured egg yolks, wild caught salmon, grass fed beef and coconut oil to ensure optimal health. Just be careful about going overboard with it and thinking that low carbs automatically leads to single digit body-fat. You still need to keep a handle on things like total calories.

4)You’re Not Eating Enough Protein

protein food 300x203 12 Reasons Youre Not Losing FatIn my experience it’s usually only females who are guilty of this but guys can make this mistake on occasion as well. The average female who can’t lose body-fat usually eats a bowl of oatmeal for breakfast with an egg. One… single… egg.
Then she’ll have a sandwich for lunch with four ounces of lean turkey. For dinner it will be a salad with low fat dressing and four ounces of chicken or fish. Although, in all honesty they may skip the protein all together and just have a salad for either lunch or dinner. Let’s assume she weighs 135 pounds. Most experts would agree that she would need to consume at least 100 grams of protein per day, if not a gram per pound, which would equal 135 grams. Each ounce of protein is around 4.5 grams of protein. So in this example she had 36 grams combined with lunch and dinner plus the six grams from the egg. So that’s a total of 42 grams, which falls just a wee bit shy of where she needs to be.
Females often freak out when you tell them to eat more than six ounces of protein at a sitting but when you break down the numbers for them and reveal just how many calories they’re eating it should make more sense. If they had eight ounces of protein three times per day it would 108 grams of protein. That’s only 432 total calories. Add in the fat and it’s still not that much.
People who eat a sufficient amount of protein usually end up having an easier time getting ripped than those who don’t. Make sure you’re getting enough.

5) You’re Drinking Too Many Protein Shakes

There are two problems associated with drinking shakes when you’re trying to get ripped. First of all, whey protein can raise insulin levels, as I have been telling people since the mid 90’s. If you’re trying to get lean you don’t want insulin to be flowing like the Nile all day. You want a nice insulin surge post workout but the rest of the day you want it under control. That’s why The Renegade Diet limits the intake of whey protein to very small amounts during most of the day and only allows a larger amount post workout or at night.
The second problem with drinking too many shakes is that they are so easy to digest that you don’t really burn any calories when you eat them. When you chew down some salmon and broccoli your body works harder to digest that food and you burn more calories during the digestion process. When you drink something that is so easily digested, like a protein shake, your body does almost no work in the process.
So, when getting ripped is your main goal, limit your shake intake and chew as many calories as you can.

6) Your Liver is Over Stressed

This is usually the last thing people think of when embarking on a fat loss diet but it can sometimes be the most important. Everything that goes into or on your body has to be processed by the liver. That means all food, alcohol, suntan lotion, environmental pollutants, etc. If you are constantly exposing yourself to this kind of stuff and overstressing the liver fat loss will be much more difficult to come by. Cut out booze, stop eating grain-fed, chemical laden meat and incorporate some regular periods of intermittent fasting to give the liver a break and you will find your rate of fat loss is noticeably faster.

7) You’re Eating Nuts

I love nuts. I mean, who doesn’t? Give me a bag of pistachios or cashews and I won’t look up till the whole thing’s gone. The problem is nuts have a ton of calories. When you’re dieting for fat loss the rules are usually the opposite of those followed by skinny hardgainers trying to gain size. Those guys want the most calorically dense foods possible. Fat loss dieters do not. You’re better off filling up on nutritionally dense foods that don’t pack a lot of calories, like green vegetables. If you’re dieting you need to limit your nut consumption to about ten almonds per serving. No too many people can eat ten almonds. Most people eat ten handfuls. If you are strictly tracking and calculating everything all day and you want to load up on nuts at certain times I suppose you could but I wouldn’t recommend it. Nuts can be very problematic for a lot of people, especially those with digestive or auto immune issues. As Paleo Solution author Robb Wolf has noted, nuts should be used the same way you use condiments- sparingly.
I should also add, and this is strictly my opinion, meaning it has NOT been proven and posted on Pubmed… nut butters seem to be easier for most people to digest than actual whole nuts. Just something to consider.

8) You’re Eating Fruit

jolie berry 300x224 12 Reasons Youre Not Losing Fat“What?! You’re telling people not to eat fruit!? Everyone knows that it’s impossible to get fat from eating too much fruit!”
Yeah, yeah I know, that’s why physique competitors eat so much fruit and why all fat loss experts who specialize in getting people shredded recommend such high quantities of it. In our hunter gatherer days fruit was nothing like what you see in the supermarket today. Berries were small, dark and bitter; not the huge sugar sacks most people consume these days. Don’t get me wrong, fruit is healthy and can be eaten by lean individuals in limited amounts but any type of excessive fructose (a sugar found in fruit) consumption will lead to fat gain. Fructose can only be processed by the liver and once liver glycogen stores are full the excess gets converted to triglycerides and stored as body-fat. If you want to get ripped cut fruit completely for a while or limit it to one to two small servings per day. Just be sure to really up the vegetable consumption so you can keep your vital nutrient uptake where it needs to be.

9) You’re Not Training Heavy

When you want to lose body-fat the first inclination is often to crank up the reps and cut the rest periods. I actually have no problem with fairly low rest periods. But not if you’re used to resting three minutes between sets and all of the sudden cut them down to thirty seconds because you decided it was time to get shredded you’ll be in trouble. That never works. All that happens is your weights start plummeting on every exercise and you get weaker and smaller. High reps have the same effect.
When dieting, the primary role of strength training is to maintain muscle mass. That is the single most important thing. Don’t use it as your primary “fat burning” activity… UNLESS you are seriously overweight. If you need to lose more than fifty pounds or so that would probably be fine (although please don’t ever do any of the bullshit you see on those fat camp TV shows). Females can actually get something out of metcon workouts in the right situation as well. The caveat, however, is that that they need to be strong and actually have some muscle mass. If you take a weak female with no muscle and give her a silly metcon circuit she won’t usually get much out of it because she’s too weak to produce enough force. Females should get strong first before they attempt that type of training.
If you’re a guy and are trying to lose 10-20 pounds of body-fat without losing all your muscle mass in the process you should use strength training as a way to maintain size and strength; nothing more, nothing less. So the same principles that helped you get big and strong apply when dieting. Keep the reps low and the resistance high.

10) You’re Overdoing Cardio

Traditional forms of cardio are largely useless for fat loss. But useless is even okay, it’s when it starts to be counterproductive that we have a real problem. Excessive amounts of cardio lead to an overproduction of cortisol which leads to more abdominal fat and numerous health problems. If you want to do cardio that won’t actually hurt you and could do you some good, go for a long walk. No self respecting man should ever be spotted on an elliptical machine.
dog sled chan 12 Reasons Youre Not Losing Fat

Sled work builds muscle, burns fat and is irreplaceable

11) You’re Not Running Sprints or Doing Sled Work

Dieting is the most important thing for fat loss. After that you should be doing some form of strength training to maintain your muscle mass. When you have those to things dialed in you’ll want to add in some type of sprinting or sled work. There is nothing more effective for fat loss. See all wide receivers, defensive backs, sprinters, soccer players, etc. for proof. Two or three 20-40 minute sprint or sled sessions per week will be enough for most people.
Don’t have a sled? 

12) You’re Not Getting Enough Sleep

When you’re short on sleep your insulin sensitivity decreases and your cortisol goes up. Both things lead to less than optimal fat loss. You also miss out on the critically important Growth Hormone boost that comes each night during deep sleep. If you want to lose more fat you have to get more sleep. Most people will ignore this and some of you are probably reading this at 2am. Unfortunately this just might be the most important thing on the whole list. More sleep improves EVERYTHING. Make it a priority.


12 Tasty Substitutions When Cutting Carbs

“The best way to cut carbs from your diet is to make creative substitutions,” says Arthur Agatston, M.D., author of The South Beach Diet. “That way you can still eat the foods you love, without busting your diet.”

Dr. Agatston told us how to make cauliflower taste like mashed potatoes. Other nutrition experts gave us tricks for cutting white flour, pasta, and potatoes and replacing them with lower-carb alternatives that taste nearly identical. We then had some loyal carbo-cravers taste-test these dishes. Turns out some of them are so good, you’ll wonder why you weren’t eating them in the first place.

And for more great ways to and lose weight and stay slim for good, pick up a copy of The Men’s Health Diet today! It combines the latest findings in exercise and nutrition with practical how-to-advice that will transform your body into a fat-burning machine.
Hash Browns
Substitute: Squash for potatoes

Summer squash (the football-shaped yellow kind) tastes similar to potatoes when cooked—but has just a fraction of the carbs. Grate the squash, mix in an egg as binder, make patties, and fry them in olive oil, says Mary Dan Eades, M.D., coauthor of The Low-Carb Comfort Food Cookbook.

Carbs Eliminated: About 15 grams (g) per hash-brown patty

The Taste: “Not as firm and crispy as regular hash browns, but the potato flavor is there.”

Mash Potatoes
Substitute: Cauliflower for potatoes

One of Dr. Agatston’s favorites: Steam some fresh or frozen cauliflower in the microwave. Then spray the cauliflower with butter substitute, add a little nonfat half-and-half substitute, and puree in a food processor or blender. “Salt and pepper to taste and you’ve got something that quite honestly can compete with the real thing any day,” says Dr. Agatston. To make it even better, try adding roasted garlic, cheese, or sour cream to the mixture.

Carbs Eliminated: 30 g per cup

The Taste: “After a couple of bites, you forget it’s not potatoes.”

Substitute: Zucchini slices for noodles

Slice four to five medium-size zukes lengthwise into three-quarter-inch-thick strips, instructs Lise Battaglia, a New Jersey chef whose past clients include Jon Bon Jovi. Sprinkle Italian seasoning on the strips, place them in a single layer on a nonstick cookie sheet, and bake at 425 degrees F for 20 minutes. You want them firm, not crisp. “Then simply make the lasagna as you normally would, replacing lasagna noodles with the baked zucchini,” she says.

Carbs Eliminated: 36 g per serving

The Taste: “Delicious. The zucchini provides texture that you don’t get from noodles alone.”
Substitute: Spaghetti squash for spaghetti

A cooked spaghetti squash is like Mother Nature’s automatic spaghetti maker—the flesh becomes noodlelike strands. “All you have to do is cut the squash in half and remove the seeds. Then place each half—cut side down—on a plate with a quarter cup of water,” says Elizabeth Perreault, a chef at Colorado’s Culinary School of the Rockies. Nuke the squash for 10 minutes or until it’s soft to the touch. Let it cool, then scrape out the “spaghetti” strands and top with pasta sauce and cheese.

Carbs Eliminated: 30 g per cup

The Taste: “Great. Spaghetti squash has exactly the same consistency as real pasta.”

Substitute: Oatmeal and cottage cheese for pancake mix

Here’s a can’t-fail recipe from The South Beach Diet. Mix together half a cup of old-fashioned oatmeal, a quarter cup of low-fat cottage cheese, two eggs, and a dash each of vanilla extract, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Process in a blender until smooth. Cook the mixture like a regular pancake.

Carbs Eliminated: 45 g per pancake

The Taste: “With syrup, you could never tell the difference.”

Scalloped Potatoes
Substitute: Tempeh for potatoes

You may think you don’t like soy-based foods, but that could be because you don’t cook them right, says Beckette Williams, R.D., a San Diego-based personal chef. “Tempeh can be really bland, but if you jazz it up with herbs and spices, it’s a great substitute for potatoes.” Her recommendation: Saute a couple of cups of thinly diced tempeh with garlic and onions. Then pour a cheese sauce (sharper is better) over the tempeh cubes and bake for half an hour.

Carbs Eliminated: 11 g per cup

The Taste: “Just like a slightly nutty baked potato.”

Macaroni and Cheese
Substitute: Diced vegetables for macaroni

Even instant mac and cheese can go lower-carb; use only half the pasta in the box and bulk it up with a couple of cups of frozen mixed vegetables, says Sandra Woodruff, R.D., coauthor of The Good Carb Cookbook.

Carbs Eliminated: 13 g per cup

The Taste: “I hate broccoli, but I wouldn’t mind eating this.”

Pasta Salad
Substitute: Mixed vegetables or black beans for half the pasta

Same idea as the mac and cheese, but try black beans, diced tomatoes, and chunks of ham, tuna, chicken, or hard-boiled eggs, suggests Richard Ruben, an instructor at the Institute of Culinary Education in New York City. “These kinds of salads are a blank slate, so you can top them with anything from a creamy blue-cheese dressing to vinaigrette, or even lime juice and slices of avocado,” Ruben says.

Carbs Eliminated: 10 g per cup

The Taste: “Awesome. I don’t miss the extra pasta at all.”

Cheese-Flavored Chips
Substitute: Low-fat string cheese for chips

Just crazy enough to work: Cut sticks of string cheese into quarter-inch-thick slices and scatter the rounds on a cookie sheet coated with nonstick spray, leaving them an inch or two apart. Bake at 375 F for 4 to 5 minutes or until the cheese melts and turns golden brown. Let them cool, then peel the chips off the tray.

Carbs Eliminated: Up to 90 g per serving

The Taste: “Like the cheese you pull off the top of a pizza.”

Substitute: Portobello mushrooms for pizza crust

Cut the gills out of the inside of the mushroom, says Ruben, “then place the mushroom on an oiled cookie sheet and bake for 5 to 10 minutes so it dries out slightly.” Add tomato sauce, mozzarella, and pepperoni or other toppings and broil until the cheese begins to melt.

Carbs Eliminated: About 20 g per slice

The Taste: “Like pizza, but moister. Give me a fork!”

Substitute: Eggplant for pasta

Mixing diced eggplant with ground beef is healthier and more highbrow than this old skillet special—call it moussaka American style. You have to soften the eggplant first, says Williams. Cut it in half, brush it with olive oil, and then broil for 10 to 20 minutes. “Let it cool, dice it up, and mix with hamburger, tomato sauce, and spices,” she says.

Carbs Eliminated: 26 g per cup

The Taste: “Exactly like Hamburger Helper, in a good way.”

Substitute: Napa or Chinese cabbage for bread

Slap your turkey and Swiss onto a leaf of cabbage and roll it up. “I’ve made some great-tasting BLTs using cabbage instead of bread,” Battaglia says. Dip the roll in low-fat mayonnaise or mustard.

Carbs Eliminated: 29 g per sandwich

The Taste: “Better than eating plain cold cuts.”


Seven Things You Need to Know About Carbs

We all know it:

The right dietary fats are good.

Protein is very good.

Carbs are… well, tricky little bastards.

As a guy who wants to build muscle and avoid excess fat gain, I’ve been all over the board when it comes to carbohydrates. At one extreme, I’ve obsessed over the single carb you might find in an egg. On the other extreme, I’m stuffed myself with pancakes and syrup multiple times a day.

Carbs are the fiery redhead of the macronutrient world: so many possibilities, so many dangers.

So what’s new in carbohydrate research? What’s on the minds of today’s top nutrition scientists? There’s only one heavy-squattin’, big-benchin’ food expert to call: Dr. Lonnie Lowery.

1. Carbs, Freezing, and Toasting: A Funny Thing Happens…

Jacking up your insulin level at the wrong time is bad news for your physique. Yet jacking it up at the right time — around the time of your butt-whuppin’ bodybuilding workout — can do damn near magical things when it comes to packing on muscle. This phenomenon has even been given a name: The 3rd Law of Muscle.

You know the deal: The glycemic index, or GI, is a measure of the effects of carbohydrates on blood sugar levels. Carbs that break down quickly during digestion, releasing glucose rapidly into the bloodstream, have a high GI. Carbs that break down more slowly release glucose more gradually into the bloodstream, so they have a low GI.

White bread eaten alone has always been a standard food reference for GI. But leave it to Dr. Lowery to find an interesting twist here.

“If you freeze or you toast a piece of white bread, it’ll change its glycemic index,” says Lowery. “Most people don’t realize that.”

In 2008, researchers fed test subjects white bread and did the standard glucose curve test. On other days, they had subjects eat white bread that had been frozen then thawed. Next, they toasted the bread, and finally they tried a combination of freezing and toasting. The result?

If you freeze white bread (then thaw it of course) and eat it, it has a 31% lower glycemic index. In other words, the carbs are slower acting. Basically, freezing starches seems to change things.

“But it gets better,” adds Lowery. “If you toast white bread it has a 25% lower GI compared to plain white bread.”

Okay, so what happens when you freeze then toast white bread? You get bread with a 39% lower glycemic index.

Very interesting, yes? But most of us probably aren’t pounding back white bread anyway. So does this work with whole grain breads and, my personal favorite, Ezekiel bread? Well, the study was only performed on white bread, and Dr. Lowery would like to see this tested on other starches, but it might also be true for healthier bread products.

So, if you enjoy occasional white bread as a treat, toss the loaf in the freezer when you get it home. Or, if you’re stuck at grandma’s house during the holidays and being forced to eat a leftover turkey sandwich on Wonder bread, you can freeze and then toast it to reduce the GI and possibly reduce any abs-wrecking effects.

2. Once And For All: Beans Are Good Carbs!

Beans are so low when it comes to glycemic index that Dr. Lowery suggests that people eat them even when on low-carb diets. In fact, it may be time that we just come out and say it: Beans are like green vegetables: eat pretty much all you want… keeping gas issues in mind, please!

“If the glycemic index is at roughly 100 scale, then things in their teens and twenties enter your bloodstream so slowly that your glucose rises very gradually — so slowly that they’re almost a non-issue,” says Lowery. Indeed, the officially accepted definition of “low GI” is a GI range of 55 or less.

Dr. Lowery noted that when he competed in bodybuilding and was “jonesing for carbs,” that beans became his out: a food he could get full on without wrecking his strict contest prep.

Now, you do have to be careful with beans’ associated fart-producing effects, plus they’re so high in fiber that you may want to “ease into” eating lots of beans. Still, there’s simply no reason to fear beans, even if you’re a low-carber.

By the way, Dr. Lowery also uses white bean flour in recipes to crank up the fiber and crank down the GI. You can replace around 25% of the regular flour called for in most recipes with bean flour without it tasting too “beany.”

3. Tales from the Lab: Monster Carb Loading vs. Monster Muscles

Dr. Lowery likes to do his own version of Tales from the Crypt. Only instead of a crypt it’s a lab, and instead of buckets of gore it’s buckets of carbs. In this case, pie filling.

“I was part of a carb-loading study back in grad school,” says Dr. Lowery. “Man, it was fun. We’re talking about eating pie filling all day! We took in 9 grams of carbs per kilogram of body weight. It was crazy.

“After we carbed up, instead of doing the usual exercise science stuff, like performance testing on a treadmill, we did visual assessments with a camera and we used tape measures to look at muscle girth. Surprisingly, even with monster carb loading, we couldn’t measure an increase in muscle girth.”

In other words, there’s no question they doubled or tripled their muscle glycogen stores during this three-day carb load, and Dr. Lowery did notice some increased “fullness,” but there was no physical girth change as you might expect. Sure, these guys probably had great pumps in the gym, but all those carbs didn’t make them walk around measurably larger and looking “jacked.”

“You may feel like you’re bigger at rest when you’re carbed up, and the hypothesis for this study was that we’d be able to measure an increase in muscle girth,” says Dr. Lowery. “But the reality is that there’s no grossly measurable difference in muscle girth at rest, no matter how many carbs you pack into it.”

Just a little reality check from the lab.

4. Carbs and During-Exercise Stress

“I’ve done a lot of digging on things that will reduce stress during training,” Lowery says. “And the answer is: simple carbohydrate intake during exercise. This is one of the few things that has hard science supporting it. Simple carbs during training consistently and reliably reduce stress markers like interleukin 6 during exercise.”

Now, interleukin 6 is a catabolic (muscle-wasting), inflammatory cytokine, something you certainly would want to reduce. For one thing, reducing it can help put the kibosh on overtraining symptoms for those of us who hit it hard six days a week.

In short, more evidence that pre- and during-lifting carbs are vitally important for people seeking maximum muscle.

5. Excess Carb Calories = Fatness

“There’s a lot of very solid biochemistry behind why excess carbohydrate calories are fattening,” says Lowery. “I debate with certain dieticians who say that excess protein calories ‘turn to fat,’ but with carbs it’s not even up for debate. The evidence is just that clear.”

To prove this, Dr. Lowery will often wheel in a metabolic cart when he’s teaching class. Students will come in fasted, get hooked up to the cart, and be able to see how they’re burning 60 to 90% of all their calories from body fat. He’ll then give them a sugary drink (no doubt with an accompanying maniacal laugh, perhaps punctuated with lightening crashes).

Within 20 minutes the students will have halted fat breakdown and started using carbs both for fuel and for lipogenesis or body fat creation. “It completely stops the fat-burning process and begins the fat creation process!” Lowery says.

Given this hard evidence, it’s really no wonder that sugary colas get slammed as one of the big causes of the obesity epidemic. But Lowery notes that this can happen withall excess carbs, not just with the full-sugar Mountain Dew he uses to demonstrate this to his students.

Take home lesson: If you want to jack up insulin for bodybuilding purposes, if you’re wanting to fill up your muscles with glycogen, then you simply can’t do that all day long on a daily basis. Instead, slam the button down during the peri-workout window.

“A lot of that bad biochemistry that happens during rest doesn’t happen during exercise. Your hormonal state changes. You’re contracting large muscle groups. You’re doing something with that blood sugar during training,” says Lowery.

So, time carb intake right with exercise and you can get a lot of those muscle-building and glycogen-storing benefits of insulin. Then, back off the carbs.

If there’s a Holy Grail of bodybuilding nutrition, it involves the tactically timed intake of the right kind of carbs. No doubt about it.

6. The Anti-Grain/Allergen Trend: “Overstated!”

Okay, so those of us who prefer to have visible abs know that bread and pasta are our boogeymen, But recently there’s been a movement against all grains, even things like old-fashioned oatmeal and brown rice. The basic idea is that not only are these things allergenic to many people, they’re also foods that human being just aren’t made/evolved to eat.

So, are all grain-based carbs bad or are some people throwing the proverbial baby out with the bathwater?

“That’s overstated sometimes,” Lowery opines. “I think many of the anti-grain gurus in the industry get a little too excited about this whole allergen thing. It goes a little bit too far. Most prevalence data on food allergens suggests single-digit percentages in human populations.”

But Dr. Lowery agrees that a grain-based diet is part of America’s obesity problem. “What people have to understand is that grain-based diets are pushed on us because it’s the only sustainable way to feed millions and millions of human beings. You can’t do that with lean meats, fruits, and vegetables. But luckily we can seek out those things, especially in a country like America.”

Dr. Lowery goes on to say that a lot of nutrition education and the nutritional choices that we’re fed in this country aren’t based on metabolism, but on subsidies.

“It’s disturbing to think that the kinds of subsidies that corn growers get are vastly bigger than any subsidies that fruit and vegetable growers get,” says Lowery. “And remember, we consume three times as much corn in the form of corn syrup than as whole corn, which is a grain. If you eat corn, eat if off the cob.”

By the way, Dr. Lowery starts off every day with either oatmeal or oat bran made with berries and vanilla protein powder, or he has eggs and a low-glycemic carb like an apple. Always nice to know what these nutrition scientists do in their real lives based on all the info they have stored away in their big brains.

7. The Whole Grain Sham?

“Yes, there are some advantageous phytochemicals in 100% whole grains, plus some extra fiber. But again, this whole grain push is influenced by the lobbyists and the subsidy system to make grains seem really great,” says Dr. Lowery.

He also notes that while some research shows that people who eat more whole grains have less body fat, who is this compared to? People chugging down colas and eating white bread?

“Be careful with these label claims,” adds Lowery. “Think population specificity. We, bodybuilders and athletes, are a very specific population. Whole grains may indeed help someone who normally starts his day with greasy McDonald’s hash browns. But our population, the physique-conscious crowd, is light years ahead of the regular population. What may be a step forward for them would be a step backwardfor us.”

Preach on, LL. Preach on.

Final Words

Talking with Dr. Lowery is like reading a William Gibson novel: Every few sentences he drops a Big Idea on you that gets you to thinking. Here are three from our latest phone call:

“Do you want the secret? And I mean THE secret? Here it is: leans meats, fruits, and vegetables.”

“There’s a stigma against bodybuilders. People assume they’re just big dumb muscleheads. But we are so far ahead of athletes in any other sport when it comes to nutritional knowledge that it’s not even funny.”

“Nutrition isn’t that complex in theory, but it is in practice.”

And with those words, our food expert said a mouthful.

Next up: Things You Need to Know About Fats. Stay tuned!

7 Things You Need to Know About Carbs

Type II Diabetes: All the cool kids are doing it!

7 Things You Need to Know About Carbs

Beans: They’ll make you fart but they won’t make you fat.

7 Things You Need to Know About Carbs

Interleukin 6, a.k.a. nasty shit.

7 Things You Need to Know About Carbs

Whole grains: They’ll still make ya fat if you’re not careful!

About Dr. Lonnie Lowery

7 Things You Need to Know About Carbs

Dr. Lonnie Lowery is an exercise physiologist, nutritionist, and hardcore musclehead. For more info, checkout

© 1998 — 2009 Testosterone, LLC. All Rights Reserved.


Want Size? Love Your Carbs.

by Mike Roussell

It’s important not to be carbophobic during your mass-building phase. Yes, it’s possible to build muscle without a lot of carbohydrates. But most people do better with carbs included in their mass building programs. Carbohydrates are important because they’re the most potent stimulator of the hormone insulin.

Insulin is the anabolic hormone in the body. Stimulating insulin at key times during the day will boost your body’s muscle building potential. Don’t go carbohydrate crazy. Taking in starchy carbohydrates (rice, oatmeal, yams, dextrose, etc.) first thing in the morning and during and after your workout will provide the proper timing to insulin surges that will maximize muscle growth while minimizing fat gains.

Taking in the proper types of carbs during your workout will lead to better performance in the gym and more muscle built afterwards. During this time, you want to have a workout shake that contains fast acting sugars such as dextrose and maltodextrin. These sugars will get into your system fast, stimulate insulin, and fuel your workout.

You can further boost the power of this shake by adding fast acting proteins such as whey protein isolate or hydrolyzed whey and leucine or branched chain amino acids. These fast-acting proteins and important amino acids will further stimulate insulin and ensure that your body doesn’t chew up any muscle during your hard training sessions.


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