Category Archives: Healthy diet

How to Eat Healthy and Lose Weight: The Simplest Guide Ever

Portion Control
Every day we are bombarded with fad diets and conflicting information on how to eat healthy and lose weight. No wonder people fail to reach their weight-loss or health goals. (Read The 6 Most Promising Weight-Loss Supplements.)
Popular nutrition information and diet strategies are simply too complicated or unrealistic to maintain over the long term. And many nutrition books contain hundreds of pages of difficult-to-understand “sciencey” stuff that only dieticians bother to read or need to understand.
So, I’ve come up with a simple nutrition formula that we use at Performance University. It helps everyone, from average Joes to professional athletes, more effectively burn fat by ensuring that each meal is healthy and well balanced. This isn’t a restrictive diet plan. It’s a healthy and realistic eating strategy for putting together balanced and nutritious meals—a strategy you can use for a lifetime.

The Thermic Effect of Food

The term “thermic effect of food,” or TEF, describes the energy we expend to consume (bite, chew and swallow) and process (digest, transport, metabolize and store) our food. Certain foods require us to burn more calories than others simply by eating them.
Here’s the breakdown:
  • Fat (9 calories/gram) is simple to digest because the body keeps breaking down fat into smaller and smaller molecules. For every 100 calories of fat ingested, you burn approximately 5 calories.
  • Complex carbohydrates (4 calories/gram) take more effort to digest because of the complexity of glucose molecules. For every 100 calories you ingest from complex carbs, you burn approximately 10 calories.
  • Protein (4 calories/gram) requires the most work to digest because it is made up of amino acids, which are the building blocks of your muscles. For every 100 calories of protein you ingest, you burn approximately 25 calories.
Based on this information, you can form an eating plan that minimizes the amount of calories consumed and naturally increases the amount of calories you burn. No calorie counting required!

Foods to Eat

Do your best to include each of following food categories in your three or four daily meals. It’s unrealistic to expect that every meal will include all four categories, so don’t stress if you occasionally miss a category.
Choose your favorite food from each category to form your meal. Ensure that it’s a whole food and not processed. The food recommendations below are great examples, but they are not comprehensive. If you enjoy a specific food, do the research to see if it falls into one of the categories. (Learn how tobalance your protein intake.)
  • Lean Protein: eggs, chicken, fish, bison, beef, low-fat dairy
  • Fibrous Carbohydrate: fruits and vegetables
  • Starchy Carbohydrate: sweet potatoes, brown rice, oatmeal
  • Healthy Fat (monounsaturated, polyunsaturated, Omega-3 fatty acids): avocado, nuts, olive oil

Foods to Avoid

It’s no secret that you should limit your consumption of processed foods, simple sugars, saturated fats and hydrogenated oils. However, limiting consumption doesn’t mean you can never eat it. (See The Unhealthiest “Healthy” Foods.)
I recommend using the 80/20 rule, meaning 80 percent of your meals consist of healthy and whole foods, while the other 20 percent consists of not-so-healthy items. This will keep you on track with your diet by preventing binging and cravings without adverse effects on your health and weight.

Portion Sizes

The amount of food you eat largely depends on how much energy you need. You can get technical and calculate your daily energy demands and count calories to ensure you are meeting your goals, but this is time consuming and difficult to stick to in the long term.
As a general guideline, if you are left feeling hungry within an hour or so after finishing a meal, you probably didn’t eat enough. On the flip side, if you feel full for hours, you likely ate too much. It really comes down to common sense, intuition and simply listening to your body.
As for specific portions of each food category suggested above, I recommend using this formula to fill your plate.
  • Protein & Fibrous Carbs – largest serving on your plate.
  • Starchy Carbs – smaller than the protein and vegetable serving.
  • Healthy Fats – smallest serving on your plate.

Final Thoughts

There are certainly other issues—like thyroid function—that can impact weight loss. And there are instances where counting calories and restricting a diet are necessary. However, these require an individualized approach and are not long-term solutions. The information I provided above is not a diet. It’s a lifestyle change to help you achieve your health and fitness goals.

Healing Properties of Bananas


Bananas are filled with mood-boosting serotonin that improves your mood and helps you stave off depression.

They’re also great for weight loss because they are high in fiber, filled with nutrients, and they are low calorie.

Bananas provide lasting energy and are a wonderful source of carbs (sugar). And will keep you going in a workout for many hours!

Bananas are RICH in potassium. What does potassium do? It helps the body’s circulatory system efficiently deliver oxygen to the brain (important!!) – this helps to boost brain power, and help you function much better

Bananas promote BOWEL health – They help with reducing constipation and diarrhea

Bananas contain TRYPTOPHAN – a mood regulating substance that contains a level of protein that helps relax the mind so you feel happier (people suffering from depression feel better after eating bananas)

Bananas help ease menstrual pain! (for the ladies)

Bananas contain B6 which helps to regulate blood glucose levels!

Bananas can help people stop smoking!! B vitamins and other minerals they contain reduce the physical and psychological effects of nicotine withdrawal.

Bananas help to combat morning sickness – calms the nerves.

Banana peels (on the inside) help to relieve bug bites – like mosquito bites (just rub it on your bite).

Bananas help soothe ulcers – they reduce the acidity in the stomach that some foods can leave in the stomach. Since they help to neutralize acidity, they are also a great way to get rid of heartburn. They act as a natural antacid and they quickly soothe the burn.

Bananas help reduce the irritation of the digestive system by leaving a protective coating around the inner walls, making it a natural way to promote intestinal health too!

Bananas are RICH in IRON – If you are anemic, eat lots of bananas! They also help promote hemoglobin production so your blood can clot faster in case of a cut or serious injury.

Bananas can also benefit your garden. Instead of throwing the peels away, banana peels are ideal fertilizer for gardens and soils.

If you have a wart on your foot, wrapping a banana peel around your foot so that the exterior of the peel rubs against the wart will help it go away in a matter of time.

A New Way to Eat

A New Way to Eat

When you cook meat, it turns brown. It’s a process called the Maillard Reaction, which is simply the binding of sugars to protein.
It’s also virtually identical to what happens to your body when you habitually keep blood sugar levels above approximately 85 dl/mg. If blood sugar levels are kept high enough, long enough, you’re effectively slow-cooking yourself, leading to kidney disease, joint deterioration, stiffening of connective tissues, cataracts, and atherosclerosis.
I say, I say, can you pass the Heinz Barbecue Sauce?
Not only does having perpetual high blood sugar cause you to slow-cook yourself, it also leads to a host of metabolic problems, including, but not limited to, insulin resistance and its hefty partner-in arms, fat-assedness.
The logical question that follows is, what causes one to have perpetual high blood sugar? Well, aside from someone who just eats the typical American diet, the individual most prone to high blood sugar would be someone who ate large amounts several times a day and who never allowed himself to go hungry– who, perhaps deliberately, on the advice of hundreds of diet experts, kept his blood sugar levels “steady” – over a period of several years.
Sound like anybody you know? Geez, if I’m not mistaken, that sounds like how every bodybuilder or “physique athlete” on the planet has been eating.
I’m thinking that just maybe it’s time to adopt a new way of eating. It’s one that I wrote about briefly in a Live Training Spill, but I think it’s so important that it deserves a more-detailed look.

The Problem

A New Way to Eat
In normal, healthy individuals, glucose is taken up by the blood stream and moved into the interior of cells where it’s burned as fuel. The whole thing is mediated by insulin, which is produced and released by the pancreas after you eat a meal.
However, in diabetics, glucose builds up in the blood as cells are unable to utilize it properly, which leads to a condition known as insulin resistance. Over time, the pancreas peters out and can no longer produce sufficient amounts of insulin to successfully transport glucose into insulin-resistant cells. As the disease progresses, the pancreas produces inadequate or zero quantities of insulin, which leads to all those horrific health problems and physique problems I alluded to earlier.
Mind-blowingly, it’s estimated that between one in three and one in five Americans will reach the aforementioned disease state by mid-century.
A good number of those Americans, maybe you among them, are only in the insulin resistant state now, years away from approaching a state that’s virtually indistinguishable from Type I diabetes. Regardless, you’re probably already experiencing some of the negative side effects, and it could well be because of the presumed “healthy” way you’re eating, the cornerstone of which is your rigidly scheduled 6 meals a day.
The damnable thing is that all the steady eating has kept your insulin levels perpetually elevated for years.
While your cells were once as sensitive to insulin as a fat man in vinyl pants is sensitive to heat rash, they’ve gradually grown resistant because there’s an onslaught of sugar in your blood stream almost all the time. It’s quite possible your blood sugar levels are averaging well above 85 mg/dl, if not much higher, and you’re already insulin resistant, perhaps on the way to full-blown diabetes.

A Little Blood Sugar History

Between 1979 and 1997, the medical establishment said that one of the criteria of diabetes was a fasting glucose rate of 140 mg/dl.
In 1997, they reevaluated their numbers and moved the diabetic ceiling to 126 mg/dl, but added that anyone who had a level over 110 showed “impaired fasting.”
Scootch ahead to 2003 and they then asserted that no one should have a level over 100 mg/dl, which is where the bar rests today. Clearly, they’re freaked out by elevated blood sugar and its potential problems and they don’t know exactly where to erect the milligram-per-deciliter bulwark.
A hundred seems like a logical number, but there are a couple of problems with this number. For one thing, it seems that the glycation, or “cooking” that I mentioned in the opening paragraph, seems to rear up its charbroiled head at blood sugar levels over 85 mg/dl.
Furthermore, the whole “fasting glucose” number might be skewed, anyhow. For those of you unfamiliar with the term, fasting glucose refers to your blood sugar level derived from a sample of blood taken after a night of not eating.
The trouble with that is that not eating, especially for us meathead weightlifters, is kind of a rare situation. Most of us eat virtually all the time. Besides, even normal people eat during the day, and they experience chaotic blood sugar peaks and valleys, and to really get a decent idea of how your body handles food, you’d have to take several blood samples during the day and analyze the results.

It just doesn’t happen.

So we really don’t know our blood sugar levels. True, you could buy a glucometer and test it several times a day, but few of us are that dedicated or that anal. Instead, I prefer to use this rubric:
If you’re a “big” guy; if you eat several meals a day; if you eat carbohydrates indiscriminately; if the only veins showing on your body are on your pecker; if the existence of your abs is as dubious and apocryphal as the existence of the Loch Ness Monster, you’re probably at least a little glucose intolerant and insulin resistant and potentially on the way to full-blown diabetes.
And, perhaps more important to you, you vain, vain, bastard, you, is that getting lean is becoming more and more improbable with each carb-loaded, elevated blood-sugar day.

Do You Have Any Proof?

A New Way to Eat
Do I have any proof? Admittedly, not a whole heck of a lot. I do have logic, experiential evidence, and at least a study or two on my side, though.
Logic tells me that challenging your system with a perpetual flood of blood sugar, over time, desensitizes the cells to insulin. That’s just the way the body works.
I’ve also experienced it personally. I’d been doing the six-meals-a-day thing since the late 80’s, only to watch my fasting blood sugar readings inch up year-by-year until they reached a zenith of 117 mg/dl late in 2010. And no, I wasn’t eating crappy. I haven’t had a McDonald’s burger in over 20 years and I don’t even remember what doughnuts taste like.
Nor do I have an apparent genetic predisposition towards high blood sugar.
No, it seems my 6-meals-a-day thing was the culprit.
Lastly, there seems to be some experimental evidence to back me up. One study in particular seemed to corroborate my thoughts: “Effect of meal frequency on glucose and insulin excursions over the course of a day” (Holmstrup, et al, 2010).
Rather than puke up all the particulars of the study, suffice it to say that a group of normal-weight test subjects who ate 6 meals a day exhibited significantly higher blood sugar values than those who ate 3. Despite eating the same amount of calories, the fewer meals group had 30% lower blood sugar values than those who ate 6 meals.
Furthermore, while the insulin response was no different between the two groups, the higher meal frequency group had higher blood glucose levels over the course of the day. That means that insulin was able to lower blood sugar more efficiently when eating fewer meals.
Additionally, there are several studies out there that suggest that fasting, which is, after all, a term that translates to eating fewer meals, increased insulin sensitivity markedly.

What To Do, Oh, What To Do?

A New Way to Eat
The simplest way to remedy the insulin resistance problem is to change your eating habits. Do a dietary downshift from 6 meals to 4 or even 3. You don’t need to necessarily eat less, just less often.
In my mind (and in my experience), an ideal dietary regimen on non-workout days would include a large, conventional bodybuilding breakfast with the emphasis – of course – on protein, smart fats, and functional carbs.
I’d follow this up a few hours later with a lunch that had a similar macronutrient profile, followed a few hours later, by a protein “pulse” consisting of a dose of Biotest’s Mag-10® Anabolic Pulse or 5 grams or so of branched chain amino acids (BCAA Structured Peptides).
(And yes, yes, I know protein and/or amino acids are insulinogenic, but not nearly as much as carbs are, especially when we’re only talking a few grams.)
I’d then follow that up with a sizeable late dinner of protein, fats, and as a few carbs as possible.

Non-Workout Day Diet

On workout days, I do virtually the same thing, except that I either replace my lunch with my para-workout nutrition protocol, or I’d simply add my para-workout nutrition protocol on top of my normally scheduled meals.
On Saturdays, I do what I call a “fasting cheat day,” which seems unorthodox because it is unorthodox.
I have a large protein-based breakfast and then don’t eat anything (save my “pulse” in the afternoon), until a late dinner, when I eat pretty much anything and everything I want. Despite whatever dietary excesses I may indulge in during the evening, I’ve fasted throughout the day, which increases insulin sensitivity and theoretically, at least, allows my physique to weather the evening calorie storm.
I know that this eating plan is somewhat similar to Christian Thibaudeau’s Pulse Feast, only my plan is designed to be an eating plan for your entire lifetime. Also, my plan is specifically designed to bring your blood sugar down to healthful, non-cooking-your-meat levels and keep them that way. Fat loss and improved body comp is a side effect of my plan, while it’s the primary goal of CT’s plan.
Neither is my plan a “fasting” plan. I don’t preach jamming in multiple meals during an 8-hour period and the fasting the rest of the day. That type of thing might work for improving insulin sensitivity, but it’s my hypothesis that it invariably leads to loss of muscle – going 16 hours without eating forces your body to rob muscle of protein. Besides, this type of plan isn’t practical in real life. In other words, fasting for 12 hours is okay, 16 not so much.
That’s not to say there isn’t a problem with my plan. There’s a price to pay for eating three times a day: it’s harder to get a surplus of calories – enough to gain muscle – if you’re not eating as often.
The benefit of course is that you’ll get leaner and more efficient in handling carbs and you’ll likely feelelectric as opposed to lethargic.
This is exactly why Indigo-3G™ has become so hugely popular. It allows you to have your cake and eat it, too, literally and figuratively.
One of the things Indigo-3G™ does is improve how your body handles sugar, dramatically. One study of the active component of Indigo-3G™ showed a 22.2 percent increase in insulin sensitivity, plus or minus 5.8 percent (Stull, et al, 2010).
Furthermore, it also blocks elevation of leptin (along with improving leptin sensitivity), lowers LDL cholesterol and triglycerides, facilitates glucose absorption into muscle tissue, blocks body fat accumulation, and inhibits intestinal enzymes that break down starch for absorption (meaning that carbs can’t be absorbed and remain in the intestinal tract).
That’s why people using Indigo-3G™ can eat more, often lots more, and keep their insulin sensitivity extremely high while simultaneously getting leaner and more muscular.
It seemingly cures insulin sensitivity in affected people, while turning up sensitivity several notches in people with supposedly normal insulin sensitivity.
I was able, by first using this eating plan, and then taking Indigo-3G™ before it was released to the general public, to bring my fasting glucose level down to 77 mg/dl (from a pre-diet, pre-Indigo 3G reading of 117), where it remains, give or take a few random fluctuations, to this day.
Furthermore, when I test my blood sugar throughout the day (as I’ll occasionally do to make sure I’m on target), my blood sugar will rise modestly soon after a meal but then return to baseline within about an hour, which is exactly what one would hope for.
However, not everyone can afford Indigo-3G™. That’s why I feel it’s especially important that our little subculture start reevaluating our time-honored but horribly flawed 6-meals-a-day eating pattern.
You can absolutely improve insulin sensitivity by diet alone, but it won’t be as easy as it would be with Indigo-3G™, nor will you be able to divert extra carb-calories to lean tissue without it. Still, improved insulin sensitivity through diet alone is a worthy and necessary goal.
The multiple-meals eating plan may have originally been devised with the best health intentions, but that’s of little comfort to the legions of insulin-resistant, thick skinned, definition-challenged beefy bastards out there who can’t, for the life of them, figure out why food is often their greatest obstacle to creating a lean, muscular, energetic, fuel-burning machine.
Let the multiple meals thing go, man, let it go.


Foods that are good–and bad–for your heart

By Robert Davis, Published: February 6

If you’re trying to eat a heart-healthy diet, figuring out what to believe can be overwhelming. The advice we get on everything from eggs to olive oil is often confusing and maddeningly contradictory.
Ironically, this growing confusion comes at a time when scientists who study nutrition know more than ever. Too often, though, we hear about only the latest study (which may be poorly designed) or research that’s cherry-picked to support an agenda. That’s like seeing one or two pieces of a jigsaw puzzle and trying to determine what the entire picture is.
To know what the science really shows, it pays to look at all the evidence, assigning greater weight to studies that are more rigorous. In many cases, this can give us a reliable indication of what’s really good or bad. Based on a thorough review of research, here’s what’s believable — and what’s not — regarding some familiar claims about heart health.
Nuts are good for your heart
True. Once regarded as high-fat nutritional villains to be avoided at all costs, nuts are now touted as a health food that can ward off heart disease. And perhaps rightly so. Several large cohort studies (the type in which people are asked about their dietary habits and then followed for years or decades) have consistently found lower odds of heart disease and heart-related deaths among nut eaters, regardless of sex, age, location or occupation.
These findings are bolstered by results from clinical trials demonstrating that nuts lower LDL cholesterol levels, the kind associated with an increased risk of heart disease. Nuts also appear to decrease inflammation in arteries, which may contribute to heart attacks.
So which nuts are best for you? If you listen to producers of walnuts, almonds or peanuts (which, technically, aren’t nuts but legumes), each will tell you that its nut is superior because of some ingredient it contains. The truth is that it’s impossible to say which is best because no one has done a head-to-head comparison.
All nuts are relatively high in unsaturated fats, which are thought to be good for the heart. And all nuts are relatively high in calories, so it’s important to pay attention to portion sizes. About a handful a day is enough to reap health benefits. It may even promote weight loss by helping you feel full. But going nuts and overindulging can lead to extra pounds.
Oats lower cholesterol
TRUE. Oats contain a type of soluble fiber known as beta-glucan, which is also found in barley. It’s thought to lower cholesterol by binding to bile acids and removing them from the body. Bile acids are made from cholesterol, so when the body has to deploy more of its cholesterol to help replace the eliminated bile acids, there’s less of it in the blood.
The Cochrane Collaboration, an independent group that assesses the evidence for various treatments, conducted an analysis in which it pooled results from eight randomized studies involving people with elevated cholesterol and other risk factors for heart disease. Subjects assigned to eat oat cereal every day lowered their total and LDL cholesterol levels seven or eight points more than those on a diet of refined grains. The studies lasted only four to eight weeks, so we don’t know about long-term effects.
To see a benefit, you need three grams of beta-glucan a day, which you can get from 1.5 cups of cooked oatmeal, three cups of instant oatmeal or three cups of Cheerios. Unfortunately, oatmeal cookies don’t count.
Fish oil protects your heart
True. Decades ago, scientists discovered that Greenland Eskimos rarely died from heart disease despite a diet high in fat from fish. Researchers theorized that the fish fat was somehow protective, an idea that subsequent research has largely supported.
Several cohort studies show that people who regularly eat fish are less likely to die of heart disease than those who don’t eat fish. Randomized trials involving heart attack survivors have found that subjects given fish oil supplements were less likely to die of heart disease than those who didn’t take the capsules. And in a randomized study of people with high cholesterol, participants who took fish oil had fewer heart attacks and deaths from heart disease.
The key ingredients appear to be the omega-3 fatty acids EPA and DHA, which are found in most fish but especially in oily ones such as salmon, mackerel, trout, sardines and tuna. Studies suggest that these fats may help relax blood vessels, reduce blood pressure, prevent abnormal rhythms and lower blood fats known as triglycerides.
While the evidence of benefits is strong for people who have heart disease or are at high risk for it, it’s less clear whether fish oil wards off heart attacks in those at low risk. Still, it seems reasonable to follow the American Heart Association’s recommendation and eat oily fish at least twice a week. People with heart disease are advised to get twice as much, or 1,000 milligrams per day of EPA and DHA combined.
Eggs cause heart disease
False. Researchers have conducted a number of long-term cohort studies on eggs and heart disease, which have collectively followed several hundred thousand people. In general, the research has exonerated eggs: Eating up to six a week was not associated with a higher risk of cardiovascular disease (i.e. heart attacks and strokes).
So how can this be if egg yolks are high in cholesterol? Most of our cholesterol is made by the liver, which ramps up production when we eat saturated and trans fats. But cholesterol from food appears to have little impact on most people’s cholesterol levels. And in people it does affect — so- called hyper-responders — studies show there can be an increase in good (HDL) cholesterol along with the bad kind, which helps offset any increased risk. Further, dietary cholestrerol may also result in larger LDL particles, which are thought to pose less of a threat than smaller ones.
Eggs are relatively low in saturated fat, and they contain unsaturated fats, which may be beneficial. Plus, they’re a good source of protein and several vitamins and minerals. They can be a healthful and more filling alternative to high-calorie muffins, bagels and sugary cereals.
Olive oil is the most healthful oil
False. Olive oil is often singled out as an especially heart-healthy vegetable oil because it’s high in monounsaturated fat. But it’s also lower in polyunsaturated fat than other oils. Both monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats are considered good fats that may reduce the risk of heart disease.
Which of these fats is better for us is unclear. Some research suggests that polyunsaturated fats may have an edge when it comes to lowering LDL cholesterol, while monounsaturated fats may result in higher HDL cholesterol. One analysis called it a draw, concluding that replacing saturated fat with either monounsaturated or polyunsaturated fat has an equally beneficial effect on cholesterol levels. Another found that substituting monounsaturated for saturated fat was associated with an increased risk of heart attacks, while polyunsaturated fat was linked to lower odds.
While these results aren’t necessarily an indictment of olive oil, they poke holes in the notion that its high levels of monounsaturated fat make olive oil more healthful.
Another theory is that olive oil antioxidants known as polyphenols make it more healthful than its rivals. Research suggests that virgin and extra-virgin oils, which are high in polyphenols, may be more heart-healthy than refined olive oil. But the evidence is preliminary and doesn’t shed much light on how virgin olive oils stack up against non-olive oils. The upshot is that other oils, such as canola, may be just as healthful as olive oil, possibly more so.
Coffee is bad
False. Cohort studies, which followed tens of thousands of people for many years, have found that coffee drinkers have no greater risk of heart attacks or strokes than those who abstain; indeed, they appear to have a slightly lower risk. Though coffee can temporarily increase blood pressure, there’s little evidence that it causes hypertension. Coffee drinkers appear to live just as long as abstainers, maybe even slightly longer.
One possible reason for the apparent benefits is that coffee is rich in antioxidants. Though some studies have found that as many as six cups a day are associated with benefits, that’s more than health authorities recommend because of the potential side effects of caffeine, which include insomnia, jitters and stomach upset. For many people, the biggest health risk from coffee is weight gain. Though a cup of black coffee has only two calories, that number can rise dramatically if you add cream and sugar or drink blended beverages, which can have several hundred calories.
Margarine is better than butter
Half-true. Margarine, which is made from vegetable oils, is lower in saturated fat than butter. But the process of converting those oils into solids can result in trans fats, which may be even more hazardous to the heart than the saturated kind.
Cohort studies have found that people who eat the most margarine have a higher risk of heart disease than those who use it only rarely. In other studies, researchers had subjects eat various types of spreads and then measured the effects on cholesterol levels. Compared with butter, margarine lowered LDL cholesterol, but it also reduced HDL, the good kind. The big loser in this face-off was stick margarine, which fared worse than butter. Semiliquid margarine, on the other hand, proved to have a more beneficial effect on cholesterol levels than butter.
Manufacturers have introduced some margarines that are low in saturated fat and virtually free of trans fat. That makes them a better option than butter. Still, margarine isn’t exactly a health food. Nor is butter. Your best bet is to minimize your use of both margarine and butter, going instead with healthful vegetable oils whenever possible.
Chocolate is good for your heart
Half-true. Cocoa, a main ingredient in chocolate, is high in antioxidants known as flavanols, which are also found in red wine, tea and certain fruits. Though the evidence overall is mixed, some cohort studies have linked high flavanol intake with lower rates of heart-related deaths. Generally, dark chocolate is higher than milk chocolate in flavanols.
Small, short-term experiments — many of them funded by the chocolate industry — show that chocolate (especially the dark variety) can lower blood pressure, improve blood vessel function, reduce inflammation in arteries and make blood less likely to clot. Even though it’s relatively high in saturated fat, studies show that chocolate doesn’t raise LDL cholesterol and may even lower it. One reason may be that some of the fat is a type known as stearic acid, which doesn’t adversely affect cholesterol levels.
Several European cohort studies of elderly men, middle-aged adults and heart attack survivors have linked greater chocolate and cocoa intake to lower rates of heart attacks, strokes and premature death. But since the chocolate consumed in Europe tends to contain higher levels of cocoa than the chocolate typically eaten in the United States, it’s unclear whether the findings apply to American chocolate eaters.
Many chocolate trials have fed subjects 31 / ounces a day. To get that amount, you’d need to eat two or more standard-size candy bars, which add as many as 500 calories and lots of extra pounds. That’s hardly a formula for better health. Nor is consuming the large amounts of sugar that are typically added to chocolate. Look for products that list cocoa or chocolate liquor — and not sugar — as the first ingredient.

Reprinted from “Coffee Is Good for You” by Robert J. Davis, PhD, by arrangement with Perigee, a member of Penguin Group (USA) Inc. Copyright 2012 by Robert J. Davis, PhD, MPH. Davis teaches health communications at Emory Unversity’s Rollins School of Public Health.


The Simple Diet

The Simple Diet to Get Lean
Science can make nutrition complicated. Measure the glycemic index of this, the glycemic load of that. How much omega-6’s in this? What about omega-3’s?
While a deeper level of nutrition knowledge can certainly be useful, what we often get through the media are little bits of information that’s never paired with an overall philosophy.
It becomes especially hard when faced with nutritional science that seems to contradict itself. Eggs are a great source of protein and healthy fats. No, eggs have too much cholesterol and “bad” saturated fat. What do we do?
Enough. Here’s my philosophy: 
This diet is particularly useful when you want to lean up a bit but still live a relatively normal lifestyle. If you hope to get unbelievably cut or prep for a bodybuilding show, this likely isn’t for you, but if you found that your holiday bingeing has extended into spring training, then this might be your answer.
This diet assumes you’re working out reasonably hard at least several days a week. If you’re not doing that, start. If you don’t plan on doing that, you’re on the wrong website.

Builders & Energy Providers

The Simple Diet to Get Lean
I think of food in terms of two categories: builders and energy providers. That’s how I teach the nutrition basics to my kids, who are all five and under. It’s simple, and it works. You can also add a third category: stuff that keeps you healthy.
This paradigm matches nicely with the primary functions of nutrients, which are to provide energy, build and repair tissue, and regulate metabolism.
Builders. The meathead’s favorite food group. The stuff that does this job is protein and fat. On this diet, you can eat as much natural, unprocessed protein and fat as you want.
Here are some examples:

  • Red meat
  • Eggs (whites or whole)
  • Chicken (with/without the skin)
  • Turkey (with/without the skin)
  • Fish (with/without the skin)
  • Butter
  • Coconut oil
  • Olive oil

You’ll notice that I’m pushing unprocessed foods. Slicing turkey meat from an actual turkey breast is better than opening a package of pressed mechanically separated turkey parts. You already know this, because that turkey sandwich the day after Thanksgiving tastes a hell of a lot better than that five-dollar foot long from Subway, it’s just less convenient. Get over it.
I’m a big fish fan. One of the rules of this diet is that you have to eat fish at least twice a week, and the more the merrier. However, fish from a can doesn’t count – it’s not off-limits, but it doesn’t count toward your twice-a-week total. Non-farmed fish is ideal, but work with what you have access to.
I’m not as excited about pork. Fish and lean red meat (and wild game if you have access to it) is number one. Pigs aren’t as good, in my opinion. Sneaking in some lean pork tenderloin is permitted, but no bacon or hot dogs. They’re processed junk.
Avoid things like mayonnaise, peanut butter, and sour cream. Mayo is too processed and peanut butter and sour cream, while natural, are better for weight gain, and this is a weight loss program. If you find yourself losing weight too fast and aren’t trying to get ultra lean, you can add those foods back in.
Energy providers. This is where carbs fall. This is not a low-carb diet – those diets can work but can be a pain to follow, not to mention they cause intense workouts to suck. This diet will have carbs, but they’ll be of the healthy sort.
Here’s what you can eat:

  • Potatoes (any version in its natural state)
  • Sweet potatoes (ideal)
  • Rice (any version)
  • Oatmeal (any version but steel cut preferred)
  • Any fruit
  • Any veggie

You may have unlimited amounts of any of the foods from either of the above categories. Yes, unlimited. Most people don’t crave natural foods, and there are far fewer reports of binging on chicken and rice than beer and wings. Natural foods are also enormously satisfying and contain more fiber, so they fill you up quicker.
Natural foods are also much harder to come by. You can get junk food at 2 AM just by hitting up the drive thru or vending machine. You’re much less likely to have a post-bar binge-fest if it requires grilling up chicken and digging out the rice cooker.
Finally, natural foods tend to spoil, so you usually don’t have unlimited quantities lying around, and they’re expensive – so even if your head or stomach doesn’t tell you to stop eating, your wallet will.
You still might find yourself a bit hungry or experiencing cravings while on this diet. That’s expected, but it won’t be cravings for these foods.


You will have veggies at every meal. Yes, every meal, including breakfast. You can have whatever veggies you want, but fresh or frozen is preferred over canned. Your veggies should be bright and colorful and actually have taste.
Peas, broccoli, shredded peppers, and mixed veggies are my personal favorites, but have whatever you want. This will help you feel full, give you some energy, and along with the good fats, help take care of the third category, keeping you healthy.
Avoid any processed carbs, junk food, desserts, sugar, soda, and fruit juice – all off limits. Pasta and bread are also on the avoid list.
Of course, you can eat that stuff if you must, just be aware that you’re cheating if you do. There are also no diet drinks allowed – no Diet Snapple, Pepsi One, Coke Zero, etc. They’re not natural things so they don’t qualify (hey, it’s my diet!).
Basic rule, if the food doesn’t look pretty close to what came out of the ground, you can’t have it.


The Simple Diet to Get Lean
Nuts. While healthy, nuts tend to slow down the weight loss process. If you’re losing weight too fast, or trying to gain a bit of muscle, then by all means include them. But for straight fat loss, go nut-free for a month and see what happens. You can then make a decision based on the results.
Coffee. I’m not a coffee drinker, but if you’re going to drink it in its relatively natural state (meaning your cup of joe doesn’t resemble a 30-ounce milkshake with caramel drizzle), then it’s likely okay. I also don’t think a person should be addicted to anything, so if you go into caffeine withdrawal without coffee, it’s time to get that under control.
Milk. I like milk and tend to include it in my diets. Start off with 16 ounces or less of whole milk (preferably organic) per day and see how you respond. If you’re losing weight too fast, start to add it back in, if not keep it out. The same holds true for most dairy products like yogurt and cottage cheese.
Alcohol. From a health and fitness point of view, wine is the best (although I don’t drink it, much to my wife’s chagrin). Try limiting wine to one or two times a week and see how you respond. I’d avoid beer or hard alcohol, although you can have them with your weekly cheat meal.
My rule of addiction holds true here, too, so if it’d be hard for you to go a month without booze, then now’s the time to stop and get it under control. One of my favorite quotes (from Epictetus) is, “No man is free who is not a master of himself.”
Supplements. While no diet “needs” supplements, a good peri-workout protocol would be one of the first things I’d put back into a diet, especially if you’re going for that “pretty lean but still big and powerful” look. Check out the Anaconda™ Protocol – the feedback is astounding.


What I like about this diet is that you can follow it long term. I should point out that to me, a diet doesn’t mean a plan you follow for a set time to accomplish a goal; it’s simply a word to describe one’s eating.
But denying yourself sucks, and we only have so much will power, so I want you to cheat on this plan. For one meal, once a week, every week, you can eat whatever you want, as much as you want. No limits.
Ideally, eat reasonably healthy for that meal; go out to a restaurant and order the fish and rice, but add that appetizer or dessert that you’ve been craving. In other words, it’s better to do “little cheats” instead of a big cheat.
So if you’re craving food not on the plan, eat a healthier choice like spaghetti with meat sauce instead of three Big Macs. Think of food as a continuum; just because you’re cheating doesn’t mean you have to go completely to the other side.
The leaner you are, the closer to where you want to be physique-wise, the more you can cheat. The heavier you are, the further away from your goals, the less you can cheat. You can rationalize this by saying heavier folks have already been cheating so now it’s time to pay up and be strict, while leaner people have earned a bit of freedom with their diet and can enjoy themselves accordingly.

Simple Summary

The Simple Diet to Get Lean

What to eat

  • Unlimited natural, unprocessed meat (chicken, turkey, red meat, wild game)
  • Unlimited animal skin
  • Unlimited natural fat
  • Fish (not from a can) twice per week minimum
  • Veggies with every meal, no exceptions
  • Unlimited fruit
  • Unlimited potatoes, sweet potatoes, rice, and oatmeal
  • If you follow the above rules, one meal per week eat whatever you want, as much as you want.


A typical 200-pound male following this plan should lose 1-2 pounds a week of mainly fat. Use the stomach/waistline as a progress guide – over time it should get smaller and noticeably leaner.
Once you’ve reached your goal you may modify the program a bit. You might include another cheat meal, or simply try to eat another meal on top of what you’re normally consuming to prevent further weight loss. Adding in additional pre or post workout nutrients would be the best place to start. By this point you should have learned how your body responds to different foods and can make changes appropriately.

Get Simplified

What’s great about this diet – apart from its efficacy – is that you can follow it for a long time, it works pretty well with “real life,” and it still supplies enough energy to get through your T Nation approved workouts.
But it isn’t complicated – when it comes to nutrition, simpler is often better.

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.


Nutrition and fitness resolutions for 2012 – The Washington Post

By ,

Jan. 1 is still a few days away, but it’s not too early to start thinking about ways to make 2012 your most healthful year yet. I touched base with some of the folks I interviewed for this column during 2011 to ask them about their plans for the coming year. Here are some of their resolutions for eating, drinking and being healthful through the holiday season and beyond.
Plant-based diet
“In 2012, I will be eating a mostly plant-based diet of root vegetables, lentils, garbanzo and black beans, unprocessed grains and my homegrown herbs and spices — and my own-grown papayas and pineapples — to target my entire detox system and for immune-strengthening benefits. My 2012 fitness goal: Bones willing, I am training to improve my marathon time, ride my bike more and maintain general fitness with yoga.”
Setting a good example
“God willing, I’ll go another year following my nutritionist’s plan for me, which proscribes not only refined sugar and refined grain but several other foods that I’ve proven I don’t eat moderately. I’ll continue to seek out whole foods grown sustainably, including in my two organic veggie gardens. My goal is not only to feed our family tasty, nutritious food but to show our 2-year-old, Joseph, that nutrition matters, and so does living our values. And I’ll keep spreading the science and experience of food addiction to all who will listen.”
Self-control strategy
“I find big resolutions are often broken. So I incorporate small steps along the way to long-term good health. For example, I’ve just begun an exercise in self-control that’s working. I start my lunch with an apple and a glass of water, and then I wait. Ten full minutes. Then I eat my actual lunch. The apple, the water and the food pause help me feel fuller, making my sandwich or salad more satisfying. In the new year, I’m going to try a similar exercise with dinner.”
— Duffy MacKay , vice president, Council for Responsible Nutrition
Treadmill trick
“Even though I’m a longtime vegan and eat healthfully, I’m a lazy exerciser. A few months ago, I set up a board on my treadmill so that I could place my laptop on it and walk slowly while working. Added to brisker outdoor walks, it’s amazing how easy it is to rack up 5 to 6 miles per day — sometimes more. In addition, I try to make each meal at least 50 percent raw. Between these two strategies, that stubborn weight creep around the middle has been melting away!”
— Nava Atlas , author of “Vegan Holiday Kitchen” and creator of the Web site VegKitchen
Greater grains
“The gluten-free diet can be high in empty carbohydrates, calories and fat. I write about and live the gluten-free lifestyle every day and even spent last year testing nearly 200 recipes for a gluten-free cookbook. You see where I’m going with this? I’ve got to lose five pounds. But I am not great about dieting to lose weight. After all, one diet is enough. So I am going to try to eat more legumes, vegetables and high-fiber gluten-free grains like quinoa, buckwheat groats, brown rice and amaranth. More grains and fewer cookies is my mantra for 2012.”
Nurturing others
“Staying healthy is not just for ourselves, nor even just for those we love, but for everyone our lives touch — even in the most indirect ways. Nurturing others often sets up a positive feedback loop, reducing our own stress, improving our health, giving us more to give. This holiday season, I’ll try to sing in harmony with my family, laugh with little kids and listen to my elders’ stories. As for food, health comes not just from what you eat, but how you eat (slowly enough to savor) and how you share — in peace. So that’s what I’ll try to pay attention to.”
How to incorporate veggie days
You may have noticed that a number of folks here mentioned making plant-based foods a bigger part of their diets. That’s a great idea. D.C.-based dietitian Jennifer K. Reilly advocates taking that effort a few steps further. Reilly, author of “Cooking With Trader Joe’s Cookbook: Skinny Dish!,” follows a mostly vegan diet and thinks many other people could benefit from eating less animal-based food.
Reilly knows that might be a daunting prospect for those who, like me, can’t imagine life without meat, cheese, milk or eggs. So she offers these ideas for easing into vegetable-oriented eating habits.
1 Workweek veggie days: “If you can’t move to a completely plant-powered diet, then a Monday-through-Friday or Monday-Wednesday-Friday plan is fantastic,” she says. “Enjoy beans and lentils for protein, and load half your plate with veggies to encourage satiety without breaking the bank on calories.”
2 Once-a-week vegan detox: Reilly says this is “a great way to keep your body running smoothly and keep your youthful looks and energy.” During the detox day, your diet should be free of gluten and refined sugars, and include 60 to 80 percent raw foods, lots of filtered water and herbal teas.
3 Sample vegan day: Green smoothie, raspberries, vegetables and hummus, brown rice and lentils, a large green salad with raw sunflower seeds and avocado, curried sweet potato soup, and raw vegetables dipped in tahini dressing. Says Reilly: “After 21 days of these new habits, they’ll be as solid as gold!”


Deep Meal-Frequency Thoughts

Meal Frequency Science

Like many T Nation readers, I grew up with bodybuilding nutrition. That’s right, I studied Championship Bodybuilding by Chris Aceto like it was the Bible, snuggled Arnold’s Encyclopedia every night, and waited anxiously every month to read my favorite bodybuilding magazines from cover to cover.
Bodybuilding-style nutrition (six small meals, specific macronutrient ratios and food distribution patterns, etc.) is one of the most effective ways to change a body, no doubt about it. Anyone who tells you it doesn’t has never done it, with any real consistency, dedication, or discipline.
But as I’ve worked with more people in the real world, and as my theories have evolved, I’ve begun to ask myself three major questions regarding this approach.

1. Is a traditional max fat loss/pre-contest plan sustainable?

The answer for the majority is no, even for the most hardcore of athletes. Many competitors can attest to this experience firsthand: post-contest bingeing, weight rebound, and the negative hormonal feedback loop associated with extreme training/nutrition approaches and/or drug protocols.
Anyone can eat a certain way when motivation is high, be it for a contest, a new photo on Facebook, or even just that summertime pool party where you know the hot bartender you’ve been eyeballing for months is going to be attending.
But what is the preparation for that one big day doing to your long term metabolic and hormonal health, and your ability to get lean the time around?
Is doing no carbs for weeks at a time, three hours of cardio a day, and having the personality of a snail and the libido of a corpse the only way to get in shape? No six-pack is worth that.
Some will justify bulking and cutting cycles as necessary, but for many it’s a simple yo-yo scenario, despite it being part of an athletic realm. That’s not sustainable, nor is it good for your long-term physique goals or overall health. I’ve seen former competitors yo-yo themselves right into obesity, type II diabetes, and a lifetime of health and body composition struggles.
If that route sounds appealing to you, then great, go for it man. To each their own. I’m more interested in finding a plan that’s sustainable for the rest of my life, and allows me to be in shape year-round.

2. Is it functional?

Meal Frequency Science

For years I had no problem getting to the grocery store every other day, cooking a crap-load of food twice a week, packing a man purse full of Tupperware every day, etc. Discipline and dedication are just part of my personality.
I falsely assumed the same was true for everyone when I started in this game. You want to get in shape? Then do what you f#!king gotta do to achieve that goal.
But as I’ve worked with more real people in the real world, I’ve come to realize that this isn’t as functional or realistic for most .
Have you ever consulted with a Silicon Valley entrepreneur whose industry moves at a thousand Tweets per second? Have you ever advised a doctor or a lawyer who can be in surgery or court for a half day at a time? Or a college kid who has a full load of classes, is working a part-time job to pay for tuition, and is trying to squeeze in just enough time to try to get laid?
No stopping off for tuna and broccoli every two hours for any of these demographics. Pro Tan and “pube trimming sessions” are the furthest things from their mind.
Is eating 6-8 small meals a day functional and sustainable for the next year, five years, or the rest of your life when priorities change and you’re chasing other career goals, yet still want to be in good shape?
If you are leaning towards “not really,” the next question is, is it absolutely necessary to achieve results, or is there another way?

3. Are there alternative meal frequency approaches for general fat loss and physique enhancement?

I’m not talking bodybuilding competition diets here, so I don’t need a bunch of angry bodybuilders throwing their soiled posing panties at me, unless you’re a woman, of course.
Getting stage-ready is something different. If that’s your pursuit, I hope you’re following an informed approach and not some outlandish protocol formulated from gym rats. If you’re in doubt, hook up with an expert coach. I’m a fan of the Mountain Dog myself – someone who combines education with practical “street” experience.
Furthermore, I’m not talking about bulking phases or guys eating strictly for improving athletic performance. If your calorie requirements are 5000+, you probably have no choice but the 5-6 meals a day route.
This article, however, and my writings in general, is geared towards the other 90% of the noncompetitive strength-training population that’s just looking for a sustainable approach to cutting up and being able to say, “I look good. I mean really good. Hey everyone, come and see how good I look.”

Anecdotal Evidence

Meal Frequency Science

Just as I ask that you not get caught up in ADA or Paleo dogma, I ask that you not get caught up in bodybuilding/fitness nutrition dogma. If you can maintain some objectivity, the reality is there are other methods and approaches to getting into great shape.
The late, great Serge Nubret used to eat two meals a day composed of pounds of horsemeat with rice and beans. I know what some of you are thinking – steroids – but that’s not just what worked for him. Many of his non-bodybuilding clients reported great body composition transformation results as well.
The three-square meals a day approach gets bashed in our industry and is often criticized as being counterproductive for fat loss and physique enhancement.
However, this is most likely because the typical Y2KAmerican Diet is used as the representative/control group of this approach – mocha and pastry for breakfast, sandwich and chips for lunch, pizza and cookies for dinner.
This is problematic for comparison because these are not the typical meals eaten by someone pursuing body composition transformation.
It’s more the suboptimal food choices that are the problem, not the meal frequency pattern itself. Three meals a day can work just fine for fat loss provided you’re making good food selections.
To contrast, the traditional Japanese diet (fish, lean meats, eggs, vegetables, rice, sweet potato, low refined foods, etc.) yields some of the lowest obesity and diabetes rates in the world. And don’t give me “genetics,” there are studies that show when native Japanese people switch to more westernized dietary patterns, biomarkers of health skydive and body fat skyrockets.
I’m not trying to get everyone to start feeling like they’re “turning Japanese,” but you can certainly learn a thing or two from their dietary approach, just like you can from any effective approach (Paleo, Mediterranean).
While I think a Paleo Diet is a good starting template for an overweight and sedentary office worker, I think the traditional Japanese diet is a good template for a strength-training athlete taking a healthy approach to physique enhancement by way of a carb-based approach.
Here’s a typical day. I’ve adjusted the totals to better fit a 180-pound dude as opposed to a 95-pound Geisha:
This supplies our 180-pound bodybuilder with a great base diet of roughly 180g of protein, 180g of carbs, and 40-50g of fat as byproduct of protein foods.
The next step is on training days to add the appropriate peri-workout nutrition protocol. For lean guys or those trying to gain as much mass as possible, the original Anaconda Protocol is the most effective (natural) method I’ve ever encountered.
However, heavier-set guys or those with weight class restrictions may be better suited with the Anaconda Protocol 2, which yields significant yet less dramatic gains in size and strength.

Meal Frequency Cliffs Notes

Meal Frequency Science

Back when I was in school, I always had to make up for spending too much time wet daydreaming about the handful of scintillatingly hot girls in my Organic Chemistry by cramming with Cliffs Notes. Here’s the Cliffs Notes version of just some of the science on meal frequency:
A study by Bellisle, et al. looked at the proposed benefit of frequent meals on the thermic effect of food (TEF). While the researchers found support that TEF was higher with frequent feedings, the results were neither unanimous nor significant, concluding that the intake side of the energy balance equation is still paramount.(1)
Another study by Burke et al. looked at equal 24-hour carbohydrate intakes divided into feedings every four-hours versus every hour. There was no significant difference in muscle glycogen storage between the two groups.(2)
Finally, a study by Norton found that while frequent “dosing” of amino acids is common practice, it’s unlikely that eating another meal 2-3 hours after the first would be sufficient to induce another rise in protein synthesis since amino acid/leucine levels are already elevated.
Norton concludes that it may, therefore, be more useful to consume larger amounts of protein at a meal and wait longer between protein doses than the 2-3 hours typically recommended in the bodybuilding community.(3)
Disregarding personal bias or tradition and looking at the objective science, clearly there’s no major difference between smaller, more frequent meals or larger meals spaced out further apart for fat loss, and metabolic factors related to fat loss (dietary induced thermogenesis, 24-hour energy expenditure, etc.).
Now, some will use this science to “hear what they want to hear” and bash bodybuilding nutrition. “I knew it. Three-meals a day is superior to the six-small-meals a day approach. Bodybuilders are obsessive, compulsive idiots.”
That’s what the research is saying. It’s saying they’re relatively . Translation? Both can be effective in a real-world protocol.
Remember the hierarchy of fat loss: Optimum food choices, total calories, and targeted macronutrient ratios based on individual factors are the most important steps in designing an effective fat loss diet. If these variables are controlled for, meal frequency doesn’t matter as much.
The optimum meal frequency pattern for you is whatever pattern helps you consistently stick to your diet the most. The most sustainable and functional approach in your world is the best approach for .
In other words, the physiology of meal frequency doesn’t matter so much. Both science and anecdotal evidence prove that. It’s the psychological and social factors that are the most crucial variables in your decision.
This, of course, requires some self-experimentation on your part. How does meal frequency fit into your daily schedule, career demands, lifestyle habits, and social patterns?
Some find that eating smaller, more frequent meals allows for better blood sugar control, makes them feel more energetic, and makes them less prone to bingeing and cheating. Although they’re eating smaller, calorie-controlled meals, psychologically they like the idea that another meal is always right around the corner. They like staying ahead of hunger, or that never hungry, never quite full feeling.
If they do go a long period without food and are hungry, they can’t make good food choices. They end up overeating junk. A traditional fitness/bodybuilding approach may work better for this group.
Many fitness athletes have a fear that if they ever go more than three hours without food, the body will start cannibalizing itself and they’ll lose all their hard-earned muscle tissue. These guys have a “feed the machine” mentality. Regardless of physiological truths, psychology is a key component of dietary success. Smaller, frequent meals may be the best approach for this demographic as well.
With busy career demands, and an unwillingness to pack foods and carry around Tupperware everyday, some find that eating 6-8 small meals a day is hyper-inconvenient and unrealistic for their lifestyle. They can’t consistently fit in six balanced and complete meals a day. What ends up happening is they have a few solid meals and then just eat snack foods – usually of the highly refined and processed “high carb plus high fat American” type.
Furthermore, when they eat, they like to eat full, complete, satiating meals. The small fitness-style meals don’t satisfy appetite and leave them constantly hungry and craving more. Psychologically, it makes them feel like they’re constantly depriving themselves or they’re always “on a diet.”
Finally, there are those whose career or lifestyle demands fit neatly around the traditional three-meals-a-day approach. After all, this is the pattern that society and civilization has set up as the normal structure in most cultures. We have our breakfast business meetings, our lunch breaks, and our social dinners.
Three-square meals may be the easiest approach to consistently follow for those working professionals who are not fitness professionals or athletes. Slaving away trying to fit into a fitness approach of eight small meals a day may be unrealistic and counterproductive.
Just remember, food choices are critical. Three square meals a day with good food choices will yield much different results than three square meals a day of junk foods, and average Y2K American food choices.

Food Distribution

So to bring closure to this piece and sum it all up in a short, sweet sound bite, three meals a day can work – if that works better for you.
Next up on the hierarchy is food distribution. In the Samurai Diet approach I talk about a modified bodybuilding-style approach to protein and fat intake, and an intermittent fasting-style approach to carbohydrate intake. Am I just confused or am I onto something? Noodle with that, and I’ll catch up with you soon.
You can check out Nate’s book The Samurai Diet: The Science & Strategy of Winning the Fat Loss War. You can find the ebook version here or, if you prefer a PDF version, here.


Bellisle et al. 1997. Meal frequency and energy balance. Br J Nutr Apr;77 Suppl 1:S57-70.
Burke, et al. 1996. Muscle glycogen storage after prolonged exercise: effect of the frequency of carbohydrate feedings. Am J Clin Nutr 64(1): 115-119.
Norton, L. 2008. Optimal protein intake and meal frequency to support maximal protein synthesis and muscle mass.

>The Low Fructose Diet


The Low Fructose Diet
Are you looking for that nutritional edge to get your body composition to the next level?
Have you been eating your “five-a-day” like a good girl should, but just can’t shake that last bit of icing off your former muffin-top?

eat fruit

Well, take close note: if you reduce the fructose in your diet, you will lose that stubborn body fat!

Fructose Metabolism 101, the Simplified Version

Fructose is a type of simple sugar (a carbohydrate in its simplest form) that is much different than its sister sugar, namely glucose. When you eat fructose, it’s absorbed more slowly in the intestine, and its absorption is slightly limited.
Some people—like those with diabetes, see fructose as a superior simple sugar because it doesn’t get used as quickly or as efficiently. What they don’t realize, is that fructose is normally consumed at the same time as glucose, which speeds up the absorptive process.
Once fructose passes through the intestine, it’s quickly taken to the liver for processing. Here, it has two fates: it’s either turned into glucose and then stored as liver glycogen; or it’s used for energy by liver cells.
Unlike glucose, fructose can only be metabolized in the liver, whereas glucose can be passed to other body tissues, like your muscles.

Why Fructose is a Problem for Dieters:

If you have a lot of fructose in your diet, it only has one place to go: your liver. If your liver glycogen levels are full, which is the case all times of the day except before you eat breakfast, then that fructose is turned into fat!
Since your liver doesn’t want to store this new fat, it ships it to other parts of your body; places you don’t want it, like your belly and butt.
Do you now see why too much fructose in your diet can be one of the biggest reasons you can’t shrink those last few fat cells?

waist measurement
How Do I Avoid Eating Fructose?

When people hear the word fructose, they usually think fruit. Ready for a shocker? Fruit is actually not the major source of fructose in your diet!
Yes, it does have fructose, but only certain fruits are high in it, while others are relatively low. Not all fruits are bad for your body composition; vegetables are the same way.

Avoid the top eight in this list at all costs!

apples and honey

Read labels carefully, because HFCS is hiding in almost every food you eat nowadays. And, just because honey is natural, doesn’t mean you should use it in abundance.

How Do We Really Know Fructose Makes You Fat?

You must have been living under a rock if you haven’t already heard about HFCS being related to every common human disease we face today, such as diabetes, heart disease, obesity and cancer.
This relationship was first discovered in lab experiments with rodents. (1) When a high fructose diet (about 50-60% of total energy intake) is given to rats, they present symptoms of the Metabolic Syndrome, which is the precursor to full-blown diabetes and heart disease.
These animals develop high blood pressure, endothelial dysfunction, weight gain, increased abdominal fat, hyper-triglyceridemia and insulin resistance. The weight and fat gain is thought to be due to leptin resistance; rats that eat a high fructose diet long-term have higher leptin levels than rats that don’t eat a lot of this simple sugar.

lab rat
Researchers then concluded that in humans, it’s the fructose and not glucose that begins the cascade of Metabolic Syndrome risk markers (2); and this seems to be initiated by insulin resistance. Men forced to eat experimental high fructose diets develop insulin resistance within a week (3), compared to no insulin abnormalities in people given a high starch diet.
Sucrose, also known as “table sugar” (glucose and fructose combination), is even worse: people given a 28% sucrose diet for 10 weeks not only develop insulin resistance, but also gain weight and have increased blood pressure!
In another study, when overweight women were put on a “no-restriction” diet high in either sucrose, fat, or starch, only the high starch diet group lost weight and body fat. (4)
Today, most Americans are eating about 70-100 grams of fructose per day, and we’re getting fatter by the minute. In bright contrast to today’s world, this nation consumed just 15 to 40 grams of fruit & veggie-derived fructose in the 19th century, when we weren’t even close to being this chubby. (5)

Why Does Fructose Cause Fat-Gain?

Fructose and fructose-containing foods will usually make your meals taste better, so you end up eating much more than necessary. They also fail to make you feel satisfied after you eat them, due to inadequate stimulation of leptin and ghrelin, the two satiety hormones. (6)
There is also evidence that fructose slows your metabolism: kids who drink sodas and fruit juices (both are rich in HFCS and fructose) are fatter than those who don’t drink them, but who eat the same amount of calories. (7)

So, What Kinds of Fruits and Vegetables Can I Eat and Not Get Fat?

Although fruit does contain some fructose, it’s not the only sugar that it contains. Fruit is beneficial for you because it’s the best natural source of antioxidants that help you fight free-radicals, a major cause of aging and muscle damage. It’s also an important source of fiber.
Your best bet is to choose fruits that are low in fructose, and only eat the higher fructose fruits in the morning, when your liver glycogen levels are low. At this time, your liver can use or store the fructose without converting it to fat.

fresh fruit

The following fruits are highest in fructose (per typical serving size)*. They contain more than 4 grams of fructose per serving.

These fruits are lowest in fructose; they contain less than 4 grams of fructose per serving.

*Note, these values were calculated by adding all of the fructose plus have of the sucrose per typical serving size (i.e., a typical apple weighs 120 grams)
Vegetables are much lower in fructose than fruits. The highest fructose-containing vegetable are corn and sweet potatoes, and they only have roughly 1.2 grams of fructose per serving. If you’re really trying to keep this sugar low, also avoid white potatoes and green peas.

Bottom Line:

Fructose may be one of the reasons your body is not dropping the stubborn body fat you’ve been fighting for weeks, or even months. Before you start avoiding the produce section of the grocery store, start scanning the labels of some of your most frequently consumed foods.
Does your salad dressing contain HFCS? Do you douse your morning eggs with HFCS-laden ketchup? Or maybe you’re known to eat “all-natural” products made with honey?
Once you’ve eliminated these major fructose-suspects, turn to your fruit intake. Don’t eliminate it completely because some fruit will aid your overall health and beauty by fighting free-radical-induced aging and muscle damage. Just choose fruits lower in fructose.
Apples may keep the doctor away, but with their high fructose content, they’ll keep your sexiest bikini just as out of sight.

About the Author:
Cassandra Forsythe
1. Segal MS, Gollub E, Johnson RJ (2007) Is the fructose index more relevant with regards to cardiovascular disease than the glycemic index? Eur J Nutr 46:406-417
2. Elliott SS, Keim NL, Stern JS, Teff K, Havel PJ (2002) Fructose, weight gain, and the insulin resistance syndrome. Am J Clin Nutr 76:911–922
3. Beck-Nielsen H, Pedersen O, Lindskov HO (1980) Impaired cellular insulin binding and insulin sensitivity induced by high-fructose feeding in normal subjects. Am J Clin Nutr 33:273–278
4. Raben A, Vasilaras TH, Moller AC, Astrup A (2002) Sucrose compared with artificial sweeteners: different effects on ad libitum food intake and body weight after 10 wk of supplementation in overweight subjects. Am J Clin Nutr 76:721–729
5. Raben A, Macdonald I, Astrup A (1997) Replacement of dietary fat by sucrose or starch: effects on 14 d ad libitum energy intake, energy expenditure and body weight in formerly obese and never-obese subjects. Int J Obes Relat Metab Disord 21:846–859
6. Teff KL, Elliott SS, Tschop M, Kieffer TJ, Rader D, Heiman M, Townsend RR, Keim NL, D’Alessio D, Havel PJ (2004) Dietary fructose reduces circulating insulin and leptin, attenuates postprandial suppression of ghrelin, and increases triglycerides in women. J Clin Endocrinol Metab 89:2963–2972
7. Dennison BA, Rockwell HL, Baker SL (1997) Excess fruit juice consumption by preschool-aged children is associated with short stature and obesity. Pediatrics 99:15–22
© 1998 — 2008 Testosterone, LLC. All Rights Reserved.


>Washington Cooks: The nightly pleasures of French women – The Washington Post


By Bonnie S. Benwick, Tuesday, April 19, 1:41 PM

The French cheeses on the platter are at a perfect room temperature as wafts of garlic and melted Gruyere fill the air. Potomac cooks Michele Arnaud and her 23-year-old daughter, Catherine Arnaud Charbonneau, are almost finished with what would be a feast in anyone else’s home.
Confit duck legs are bathing in a skillet-size pool of their own luxurious fat, with thyme and softly tanned onions. Brown-edged potato slices peek through a blanket of gratin, and a mix of frilly salad leaves glistens with homemade Dijon vinaigrette. Hot from the oven, a thin, crisp apple tart has just been kissed with an apricot glaze. There are baguettes and an open bottle of Coteaux du Languedoc 2009 and the music of Jean Ferrat, booming from the next room.
“We cook every night,” says Arnaud, 56, in the cheerful singsong of a Montreal accent. “We take a lot of time at the table: two or three hours. We love music, food, art, wine. The good things.”
These women are beautiful, lithe and graceful as they move in the kitchen. Something about this is familiar and a little exasperating. Then the words of author Mireille Guiliano bubble up. As explained in her 2004 bestseller, French women eat for pleasure. French women don’t get fat.
Michele, her husband, Albert Charbonneau, and Catherine are all real estate agents. They work, live and cook together quite happily. Arnaud: “Every time my husband says, ‘Where do you want to go out to eat?’ I say, ‘At home!’ ”
Sounds like Guiliano again: French women think dining in is as sexy as dining out.
Arnaud’s friends admire her way with food. It comes from her upbringing in Mandelieu, in southern France. Her father and mother were masters in the kitchen, she says, but Arnaud had no time to enjoy their lamb rolled with herbs or Savoy cabbage stuffed with veal, pork and beef. “I just wanted to be outside playing,” she says.
In her teens, Arnaud began to understand. “It was relaxing for my father to cook,” she says. “He would stuff quail like farci; they were so good. Or fill a whole rockfish with onions, tomatoes and potatoes. Anytime he put stuff on the table, we were eating with our eyes.”
French women care enormously about the presentation of food. It matters to them how you look at it.
Arnaud eventually moved to Montreal, where she met her husband, and became a family doctor specializing in alternative medicine. They built a pharmaceutical business and sold it; she admits to a certain restlessness that prompts her to change careers every decade or so. The family moved to the Washington area in the mid-1990s so Catherine could attend the French International School.
Catherine describes growing up in a house where her parents were always cooking together. “So I wanted to be in the kitchen, too,” she says. Unlike her mother as a child, Catherine was attentive to the proceedings. Arnaud started her off with washing dishes, but by age 10, “she was surprising us” with things she made, the mother beams.
French women train their taste buds, and those of their young, at an early age.
After college, Charbonneau moved back home to work in the family business. She usually does the nightly salads and dressings. Baked salmon slathered with pesto is a specialty of hers. Arnaud keeps vinegars and oils by the stove, in a tray that Charbonneau made when she was 6. In pointing that out, they augment each other’s sentences with ease.
Food and wine fascinate the entire family. “We love to grab a group of vinegars or olive oils or cheeses or wines and sit around and taste them,” the mother says. They will search for words that express the nuances — always in French. It’s fun to tease themselves with the tastings, the daughter echoes.
Arnaud’s tight-knit group of friends sprang from the mothers who watched their high-school-age daughters play volleyball. They’ve gotten together just about every Wednesday for the past six years to spend the happy hour at various Bethesda hangouts.
Do the mother and daughter remind their friends of the women Guiliano wrote about?
“Of course!” says Christine Henck, a Bethesda massage therapist. “But you know, it’s okay. I think a lot of it’s good genes. Otherwise, it would be very unfair.”
More unfairness: Arnaud doesn’t read cookbooks or consult recipes. She’s a natural, inspired by seasonal ingredients and the pots of rosemary, tarragon, chives, oregano and sage on the backyard deck. But she does have some tried-and-true methods she’s glad to share. She preps bouquets garnis, large and small, and pops them in a freezer bag to use year-round. She chops by hand; it’s a workout, she says. She buys only olives that are cracked, because she says the pits add flavor. She keeps a jar of snowy white duck fat on hand and orders duck legs through the meat department at Giant.
Whatever she does is wonderful, Henck says. “But it can be dangerous. We’ll be standing in the kitchen, and then a fabulous Caesar salad will come out, and incredible cheeses. The wine is flowing . . . and the next thing you know, it’s 2 o’clock in the morning. On a weeknight!”
Dining late into the night. Having bread with every meal, and cheese at the end of every meal. Hmm.
When asked about the reasons she and her daughter can cook that way and eat that way and not get fat, Arnaud shrugs.
“We don’t eat between meals,” she says. “We’re very active. We don’t watch TV very much. We don’t eat processed food. We don’t fry. We eat very little sugar.”
It’s all in the book.
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