Is Cardio Better Before or After Lifting Weights?

​Whether it’s better to perform your cardio before or after lifting weights really depends on your current conditioning, stamina — and to a certain extent — your mindset. There are also some physiological and scientific reasons you might preference weight lifting over cardio earlier in your workout — but even here you’ll find some disagreement among trainers, exercise physiologists and even odybuilders.

​Does the Order of Cardio and Weight Lifting Matter?

​The order that you perform your cardio and weight lifting exercises does matter: To you.

In terms of whether cardio is best performed before or after lifting weights, you need to consider a few of factors:

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    ​The relative intensity of both your cardio (HIIT versus solid state cardio, for instance) and the weight training routines
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    ​The duration of the cardio and the volume of weight training you will be performing
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    ​Your level of muscular endurance
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    ​Your overall stamina and conditioning for both forms of exercise — in other words, which of the two activities causes you to fatigue the most?
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    ​Your motivation — Do you enjoy one form of exercise more than the other, which might cause you to want to get either cardio or weight training “out of the way?”
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    ​Your personal fitness goals: Which area do you want to improve and focus on the most? Cardiovascular endurance? Fat loss? Muscular strength or endurance? Muscle size?

​How you answer these questions will help determine the best order for performing cardio and weight training.

Conventional Wisdom: Weight Training First, Cardio Second

Weight Training

​In general, the conventional wisdom seems to be that performing cardio after your weight lifting or resistance training routine is better. However, even here, there is a fair amount of disagreement.

Depending on the intensity and volume of the weight lifting routine, many people find that if they perform either duration/distance cardio or high-intensity interval training before they lift weights, it can negatively impact their performance during weight training.

Weight lifting or resistance training, properly done, is very intense activity. It requires concentration, motor-neural recruitment, balance, coordination, strength and most of all, lots of quick-burst energy. If you are performing high-intensity, circuit-like training with very little rest between exercises or sets, it can be even more taxing on the body.

Although activities like running, biking or using and elliptical or stair-stepping machine primarily train for cardiovascular endurance, they also place a certain amount of resistance on the muscles — especially if you are doing your cardio training on an incline or increasing the tension on an elliptical machine or recumbent bike.

So depending on the exercise and intensity, cardio can pre-fatigue certain muscle prior to weight training, reducing your ability to lift weights at a level that will challenge your previous level of performance.

This is especially true for the legs, which are the primary group of muscles recruited during most cardio activities.

Performing cardio before weight training your legs can often leave your quads, hamstrings and even calves fatigued, reducing the amount of work these muscles can perform during weight lifting. It may also increase the risk for injury due to fatigue or deviations in form. Of course, if you just performed a grueling set of squats, your ability to successfully run afterwards can be limited as well.

Depending on your level of conditioning, bouts of higher intensity or long-duration cardio can also leave your body in a state of overall fatigue, which can also negatively impact your ability to lift weights later in your workout. Depending on the intensity, cardio can also deplete the body’s carbohydrate stores, leaving you short on critical fuel for when you lift weights.

What Does Science Say about Cardio Before Weight Lifting?

​Interestingly enough, there is very little peer-reviewed research on the effects of performing cardio before strength training.

The most commonly cited research is a (thus far) elusive study conducted by Southern Cross University in Australia, which apparently found a reduction in muscular strength and performance when people performed cardio before weight lifting. However, I have been unable to locate this specific study for review.

Most advice around the order of cardio and weight training refers to “the latest research” but it typically doesn’t source that research. So for now, unfortunately, science has little to add in terms of guidance on this issue.

Cardio After Weight Training: Burn More Fat?

​Another popular theory that you’ll frequently hear thrown around on bodybuilding and fitness bulletin boards is that performing cardio after weight lifting will burn more body fat.

This hypothesis is based on how the body preferences and utilizes certain short-term energy stores like muscle and liver glycogen versus fats. While I won’t get into the details of why this theory has some serious flaws, it’s enough to say that the hypothesis tends to under-estimate the amount of stored glycogen available to the body and over-estimates the amount of glycogen depleted during weight training and cardio.

Cardio After Weight Training

So if you are determining the order of your cardio and weight training solely on the idea that performing cardio after weight lifting will burn more body fat, you may want to reconsider.

In fact, a small-scale study from the Human Performance Research Center at Brigham Young University found that cardio before weight training produced a greater increase in excess post-exercise oxygen consumption (EPOC) — or the amount of energy you burn after completion of exercise — versus cardio after weight lifting, weight-lifting-only and cardio-only.

However, the researchers point out that the main driver of this increase in EPOC is the inclusion of the resistance training into the exercise routine. The resistance-only group also experienced a significant increase in EPOC, so the real take away here is that you should be including resistance and weight training in your workouts to maximize fat-burning. Period.

Also, it’s important to point out that the intensity and volume of resistance training in this study was fairly low — 7 lifts. So it’s difficult to know if the impact of the sequence of exercise on EPOC would be changed under higher-volume or more intense resistance training conditions — either pre-cardio or post-cardio.

As often is the case with studies like this, there are often as many new questions raised, as old ones answered.

The Order of Cardio and Weight Training: Do What Works for You

​It’s easy to get caught up in all of the scientific debates, exercise physiology and advice from “gurus” when it comes to weight lifting and cardiovascular training.

While basing your decisions on facts, and not just theories and opinions, is generally a good practice in life, at some point, you also have to ask yourself: “What works for me?”

This applies to the whole “is cardio better before or after weight lifting” debate, as well.

Some people who don’t particularly enjoy cardio prefer to do it first in their workout and just “get it out of the way” so they can really focus on their weight training. Other people find that lifting weights first ensures that they are fresher and stronger, and do better performing cardio last.

Some people avoid the entire problem altogether and doing their weight lifting on one day, and their cardio training on another (although the Brigham Young study suggests a benefit to combining them on the same day.)

Each person’s body responds differently to training protocols. The best approach is to try several different ordering schemes and see what works best for you.

In other-words, make the “science” your own and conduct your own experiments.

If you are keeping a detailed exercise log with good mind-body notes (something recommended for any person, regardless of their level of fitness or training experience), you should be able to review your logs and see exactly how the ordering of your exercises — including when you perform cardio versus weight lifting — impacts your energy, strength, endurance, state-of-mind and even fat-loss or lean body mass gains.

At the end of the day, research and advice from fitness experts is best used directionally. Your real gains will come from trial and error and finding what works for you.

The Ultimate Bodybuilding Proteins

The Ultimate Bodybuilding Proteins

Proteins are the basic building blocks of your muscles. The bodybuilding protein calculator will give you complete details about the day today protein requirement for muscle building and strengthening. You can find many such calculators online which consider the various parameters like age, height, weight, activity level and the goal for giving you the value of protein intake in grams.  

Here you have to consider the formula used by the system for determining the quantity of proteins per day.  The standard and simple formula states body weight X 0.8-1.8gm/kg = protein requirement in grams. The formula also says you can replace the 0.8 factor with 1.8 if you are going through fat burning program. 

However it doesn’t consider the activity levels and the height factors. Hence you need to be very specific about your protein requirement which can be answered effectively by your bodybuilding trainer alone. Here the aim is to introduce you to the various forms of protein foods and their benefits for muscle mass and strength building.

Bodybuilding Protein Calculator - Going Beyond Numbers

  • Whey Protein: - Whey protein is stated to be the most preferred version for the bodybuilding process. This is also considered to be high on calories (205) .The per gram content of the protein varies between different brands of whey concentrate from 17gms per scoop to 50gms per scoop. The basic ingredients of whey protein consist of peptides, lactalbumin, immunoglobulin, lactoferrin and bovine serum albumin etc. if you observe the structure of every element carefully you will be able to realize their contributions to muscle mass and size growth. For example we can consider the peptides. The main peptides present in the whey protein are lactoperoxidase and lactoferrin. Lactoperoxidase is the basic element of the muscle plasma protein matrix in your body. The Adipocytes present in the muscles is the main growth factor binding protein in the skeletal muscles. But the default activation state of this membrane is stated to be dormant. It is only when the whey protein gets absorbed by the muscles and the calorie utilization happens through bodybuilding workouts that these growth proteins get activated. This process leads to the multiplication of muscle cells and formation of new tissues within a span of few weeks. Similarly the lactoferrin. According to the bodybuilding experts, the bovine lactoferrin is stated to be responsible for the activation of myoblasts within the muscles. They in turn activate the process of cell division and ripping of the existing muscle fibers and tissues. The bovine serum albumin is responsible for the releasing of Epidermal Growth Factors (EGF) within the muscles. The combination can be effective in enhancing the muscle growth within a short span of time.
  • Casein Protein: - The Casein protein is made of 48% genuine protein ingredients, 4% fiber and only 1% of carbohydrate. Casein is very slow in digestion compared to whey and other types. The complete synthesis of this protein might take about 7 to 8 hours after the consumption. But once the synthesis is complete, it can release highest volume of energy in the form of calories into the muscles. When you start working on the core exercises and the drop sets, these proteins play important role in staining the strength and endurance of the muscles. The casein protein is capable of muscle retention, fat burning and conversion of vitamins and other nutrients into pure form of energy. This process will result in the massive growth of muscle mass within a few months of time provided the ratio of energy conversion is consistently maintained above 85% during the bodybuilding workout. Hence you need to work on heavier weights in order to get the maximum benefits of the Casein protein. The lifespan of the protein is also stated to be longest within your muscles. Since the concentration levels of the Casein protein is very high, the synthesis generates more energy within the muscles. The ripping of the muscles is also stated to be the highest when the muscles store Casein protein in them. Moreover the rate of metabolism also increases with the help of Casein protein. The strength formula of the Casein protein is determined by the anti catabolic property.

  • Bodybuilding Protein Consumption – Muscle Mass and Strength

  • Supplements: - You may choose to go for bodybuilding protein consumption in the form of supplements or through foods. The quantity and duration for the digestion and absorption of the proteins from the foods is obviously more. Hence you can opt for the supplements to fill the gap and energize your muscles faster.
  • Legal Steroids: - The role of legal steroids is to increase the volume of nitrogen within each muscle. This results in the faster and qualitative synthesis of proteins. This gives instant strength to the muscles and enhances their endurance. Since the percentage of energy released is in huge, your muscles can withstand maximum load during the workout and rip faster. The speed of ripping is sometimes stated to be more than 200% of the standard ripping with proteins and other related supplements. Similarly the steroids can release huge volumes of testosterones into the muscles and the bloodstream. The utilization of protein synthesis enhances the volume of energy released within the muscles. The volume of protein storage within the muscle fibers and tissues also increases tremendously due to the legal steroids. The elimination of bloating within the muscles ensures the elimination of unhealthy fluids and water from them periodically. At the same time the antioxidant ingredients within the steroids scavenge the free radicals in the muscles and the bloodstream. They neutralize these radicals and prevent the oxidation of muscles during fat burning process. Hence the muscles are protected internally. The steroids release a vast volume of healing agents within the muscles which help in recovery rate enhancement. The tensile strength and the flexibility of the muscles also ensure prevention of muscle tearing and other injuries during workout. This is one of the biggest benefits which allow your muscles to reach the ripping points several times during the workouts. Hence the muscle growth and expansion speed also increase.
  • Myth and Truth of Bodybuilding Supplements

    Myth and Truth of Bodybuilding Supplements

    Safety is the most important factor of the bodybuilding supplement essentials. You need to ensure complete protection from the negative side effects which can affect the internal organs and the muscles. For example you can consider the Creatine supplement, which is stated to increase the phosphocreatine within the muscles by more than 20%. 

    The ingredient can provide instant energy to the skeletal muscles by the processing of proteins and lipids within every muscle cell. This is a chain reaction which leads to the generation of a phosphate compound called the adenosine triphosphate.

    The time required for the energy conversion is stated to be less than 10 seconds. Moreover Creatine can increase the concentration of the nutrients within the muscle tissues and fibers. During exercises the ripping of muscle fibers needs large quantity of energy which is supplied by the supplement.


    Bodybuilding Supplement Education – What You Need to Know

  • Creatine Myth: - Considering the huge benefits of Creatine, you might be surprised to know about the probable (claimed) side effects of the supplement. According to some of the medical analysis the Creatine reportedly causes kidney failure among bodybuilders. To check whether this is truth or myth you need to look at the ingredients of Creatine and their interaction with the kidney. Creatine contains amino acids glycine and arginine. In fact the human body produces Creatine from the combination of these two elements. The synthesis of Creatine in the human body happens in the liver and the kidneys! The blood stream carries the Creatine to the muscles. Since the quantity of Creatine is stated to be insufficient for the bodybuilding process, it is consumed in the form of supplements. Hence the myth of kidney damage from Creatine is exposed. The effects might be observed only among those asthma patients and those who may have allergic syndrome to Creatine. Pure Creatine by itself is highly beneficial to the muscles as it generates membranes and cells in large volumes. Some of the other common ingredients added to the pure Creatine while making the supplements are listed here. Maize starch, Glycocyamine, Alpha Lipoic acid, GPA, cinnamon, dextrose and liquid serums are some of the added ingredients. They are used for enhancing the functionality of the core element and speed up the process of muscle mass growth. If at all you wish to adopt safety measures, you need to look at these additional ingredients and their probable side effects on the internal organs and the muscles. Hence by choosing the best ingredients that suit your body, you will be able to stay safe from the negative side effects.
  • Whey Protein Myth: - Whey protein nutritional ingredients are calories, fat, carbohydrates, amino acids such as Leucine, Valine and Isoleucine.  According to the medical analysis conducted by many researchers, the protein might have side effects when it is consumed in excess. Kidney stones are reportedly formed when whey protein is consumed by individuals who are under the risk group. However, advanced researches proved this statement to be exaggerated. Tests have revealed that balancing the whey protein with sufficient fiber diet and plenty of fluids intake (water and antioxidant fruit juices) can avert the problem of kidney stone formation. The other stated side effects are on the liver. Whey protein reportedly interferes with the medication for liver disorders and makes the conditions worse. The detailed research papers state that the CYP-450 enzyme produced in the liver due to medications might convert the proteins into toxic metabolites. But the papers list out only the damage resistance proteins, CP reductase, cytochrome-B5 progesterone receptor protein, HAS and other forms of CYP base proteins specifically. The general statement talks only about the probability of other proteins interaction with eh CYP-450. The specific side effects of Whey protein is nowhere mentioned. Hence it might be assumed that people with existing liver problems have to consult their doctors before consuming the whey protein. This is only a precautionary measure. Hence the stated side effects could be debatable.
  •  Meat Protein Myth: - A closer look at the meat protein chart shows multiple sources from beef, chicken, fish, turkey and many others. For example the beef protein shows high levels of potassium and phosphorous apart from calcium, magnesium, amino acids, Creatine and many forms of minerals. The protein supplement helps in burning fat, muscle bulking, generation of power packed muscle fibers and tissues etc. The stated negative effects are possible when the quantity of meat protein is more than the prescription. The other myth is related to the link between amino acids, IGF and the probable growth of cancer cells. If you take a closer look at the association between IGF and cancer, the probability exists only among people with zero or no physical activity and obesity due to overeating of meat protein. The excess accumulation of IGF-1 might lead to the formation of tumor among the risk prone people. However the statements may not be generalized as applicable to anyone who consumes meat protein supplements.

  • Bodybuilding Supplement Facts- Benefits and Limitations

    The simple bodybuilding supplement facts state the probable benefits and limitations for the bodybuilders in general. Since the muscle and body anatomy of individuals differ, the quantity, type and duration of protein supplements might vary.

    • Protein supplements build muscle size and mass.
    • Fat burning gets enhanced.
    • Vast improvement in immunity.
    • Enhanced cardiovascular function.
    • Faster healing of muscle injuries, muscle tears and inflammations.
    • Faster digestion and absorption by muscles.
    • Formation of new muscle tissues due to muscle cell generation.
    • Protection from fatigue and breakdown.
    • Consistent supply of energy to the muscles.


    Probable Limitations

    • Excess of protein consumption makes no difference.
    • People with allergic syndrome to specific ingredients added with pure protein in the supplement have to take advice from doctor.
    • Proteins are only part of the wholesome nutrition.
    • Impact of proteins on muscle growth may diminish with age.
    • People with existing medical conditions may not benefit fully from the protein supplements. They might need medical advice before starting with proteins.

    Legal Steroids for Fast and Massive Muscles

    The process of muscle mass building and size enhancement can be made more efficient and effective when the need and dosage of bodybuilding steroids for beginners is clearly understood. The basic goal of using the legal steroids is to increase metabolism, density, strength, endurance and fat burning within each muscle in the body. 

    Most of the steroids available in the market today are connected to testosterone production and synthesis in one or more ways. The basic ingredient of the steroids is stated to be a hormone initiator which is directly responsible for the production of muscle cells, tissues and fibers. 

    The rich amino acids content within the steroids makes it possible to synthesize higher volume of protein within each muscle cell. When you exercise your body, the protein gets converted into energy and boosts muscle growth and expansion.

    Bodybuilding Steroids for Beginners – Clinical Approach

  • Muscle Hypertrophy: - Muscular hypertrophy is the process by which the sarcosplamic fluids within the muscle cells increase with the addition of proteins and strengthening of the fibers. The fluid is a rich source of water, Creatine and glycogen along with the ATP (Adenosine Triphosphate) which gets stored within the muscles. When you start working on muscle building exercises, these ingredients start getting converted into pure form of energy. Ripping of fibers leads to addition of new fiber layers and thickening of existing fibers, leading to the muscle growth. Hypertrophy also results in the generation of new muscular cells to form tissues. The ingredients of the legal steroid enhance the production of testosterones which act directly on the muscles. They induce the generation of mesenchymal cells, which in turn get converted myocytes and Adipocytes through differentiation. The effect of steroid on the muscle cells converts this process into a fast paced chain reaction. That means your muscle mass and strength multiplies within the shortest span of time.
  • Protein Synthesis: - L-Leucine is the amino acid responsible for the synthesis of proteins within the muscles. When you start exercising, the net volume of protein decreases due to its consumption. Hence the volume has to be restored fast enough for the muscles to absorb and generate more energy. This is one more set of cyclic chain reactions initiated by the legal steroids. The ingredients can increase the rate of metabolism by multiple times. Hence it is necessary for you to consume proteins and minerals on a large scale in your foods and supplements. They compensate for the excess of protein oxidation which happens during the muscle fiber ripping and bodybuilding. The muscle cells are able to store more volume of proteins, minerals and nutrients due to their increasing size. The result is an increase in tensile strength, mass and endurance. The increased impact of insulin and testosterone rapidly multiplies the process of cell differentiation and fiber ripping. The myofibril thickness increases with enhancement in the fiber ripping process. The consistent usage of legal steroids converts the whole process into a chain reaction, resulting in large volume of muscles and muscle mass.
  • Muscle Endurance: - The legal steroids enhance muscular endurance through nitrogen retention. Fat free mass increases significantly due to interaction between the nitrogen and proteins. This is a process which increases the consumption of nitrogen within the muscles and balances its excretion. Hence the volume of proteins within the muscles increases by more than 75%. The anabolic state of the muscles makes it possible to increase the endurance of muscles to heavy weight training. Hence the recruitment rate of the muscular fibers from the main and auxiliary muscles also increases rapidly. All these processes are happening in parallel due to the increased influence of testosterones on the muscular cells and tissues. By increasing the conversion of fat into unsaturated fatty acids and utilization of amino acids for energy generation, the ripping point of the muscles is taken to the peak with every workout. During this process the growth of muscular fibers and the tissues makes it possible to have better hypertrophy. Hence the muscle mass and volume also increase significantly. The link between endurance increase and muscle mass development is made possible by the ingredients of legal steroids consumed in controlled quantities.
  • Muscular Healing: - During ripping of muscles the fibers might experience tearing at the micro levels. This is made possible by the process called twitching which refers to the speed at which the muscular fibers contract during workouts. The speed of the twitching is directly proportional to the volume of muscles being recruited. The direct impact of legal steroids on muscle tendons, muscular organ, fascicle and the endomysium makes it possible to generate more number of muscular fibers. There are two types of muscle fibers namely the slow twitch and the fast twitch. The slow twitch type is known for endurance while the fast twitch type is known for strength and power. The testosterones help in healing of the micro tears in the muscles by increasing the generation of amino acids. The damaged cells, tissues and fibers are rebuilt with the help of proteins. When the twitch volume increases, the muscle rebuilding mass and volume also increases correspondingly. This is a process which leads to muscle building. Using heavy weights for the workout is the only way in which the muscle rebuilding process can be enhanced and speeded up. More numbers of reps also contribute to increase in the micro tears and muscle rebuilding. Drop set with more number of reps also increases the recruitment volume of the muscular fibers, tissues and cells.

  • Bodybuilding Steroids for Mass – Practical Parameters

    The bodybuilding steroids for mass can be administered through capsules, pills and other oral forms as well as through IV injections. The effectiveness of each method depends on the rate and intensity of workout and the diet + supplement consumption pattern.

    When all the parameters are balanced you can expect the fastest rate of muscle mass growth within the shortest span of time with no side effects. The bodybuilding steroids guide will be able to provide you with the most important information regarding the dosage, duration and other related parameters.

    Top Benefits of Bodybuilding Testosterone Steroid

    Top Benefits of Bodybuilding Testosterone Steroid

    The testosterone steroid chart shows the composition and functionality of the ingredients at various levels of the bodybuilding process. There are innumerable versions of the steroid from as many brands in the online market today. The most common form of the steroid intake is injections. The effectiveness of the injections depends on the dosage and the intensity of workout performed during the bodybuilding sessions.   


    Testosterone Steroid Chart

    Testosterone is stated to be the key hormone for enhancing fat burning and muscle growth within the shortest span of time. However, the quantity of testosterone may not be high among all the people all the times. The inefficient functioning of the gonads and the pituitary glands can cause the deficiency of testosterone. In such instances the testosterone needs to be injected in the form of steroids. The other way to increase the production of testosterone is to consume supplements which stimulate production and reduce hypogonadism.


    Hypogonadism Definition

    Hypogonadism is a physiological state where the gonad glands don’t produce enough testosterones required by the body for performing its functions. The symptoms could be anything from impotency to muscle weakness, osteoporosis (skeletal bone denegation), stress and other physiological and psychological disorders.  Assuming that the individual doesn’t suffer from any serious infections (of the gonads) and genetic disorders (both could be the cause of Hypogonadism), the other probable causes could be obesity, protein deficiency; underweight and gonad deficiency.  


    Hypogonadism Supplements

    The supplements for hypogonadism should preferably consist of vitamin D and minerals like zinc and magnesium. The supplement can activate the LH releasing hormone in the hypothalamus, which in turn stimulates the pituitary glands. The final point in this line is the tests (gonads) which start producing more testosterone. 


    Limitations of Hypogonadism Supplements

    The hypogonadism supplements cannot solve testosterone deficiency caused by genetic disorders, damages to the gonads, radiation exposure and autoimmune problems. In such cases the body will need an external source of testosterone.

     
    What are testosterone steroid advantages?

  • Testosterone as Steroid: - Testosterone hormone replacement can be done in the form of injections at regular intervals as prescribed by the doctor. It is possible to inject the steroid into any muscle from biceps, triceps, glutes, pectorals and others. There are specific points in each muscle at which the steroid can be injected by a specialist doctor. Hence it is better to avoid do it yourself approach for taking the injections unless the individual is sure of the precise spots in the muscles.
  • Testosterone Steroid Function: -   The testosterone steroid influences the other hormones in the body apart from the testosterone itself. The most important among them are stated to be the Insulin and the growth hormone (GH). The GH is responsible for the generation of collagen within the muscle tendons along with the IGF-1 hormone.    The combination of these two hormones helps in the synthesis of proteins within the muscles. Further, testosterone steroid is responsible for the highest level of muscle activation while working with the barbell and dumbbell concentration curls for the upper body muscles. The same effects can be observed on the lower body muscles while working on the inclined bench press, calf raise, leg press, thigh abductor and stationary rower. The exposure of muscles to the workout makes the fibers within them rip open. The effects could be differentiated fibers which get strengthened by the steroid ingredients. The steroid has one more function of managing the T3 and T4 synthesis. The other important function of testosterone steroid is to reduce the effects of estrogen and cortisol on the muscles. This will eliminate the negative forces responsible for diabetes, muscle weakness and muscle degeneration. The testosterone effect on the muscle fibers was that it increased the cross sectional area density by enhancing the number of fibers. In addition the muscle fiber ripping intensity also increased the density of fibers by the increasing the production of the myofibrils. Tension building through heavy weights can lead to the recruitment of motor units within the muscles. This process can be accelerated through the testosterone steroids. The rate at which the muscle growth happens depends entirely on the existing physical condition of the muscles and the testosterone steroid injection dosage which is administered. 

  • Testosterone Steroid Injection Dosage

    Pure form of synthetic testosterone steroid is normally suspended in water or propylene glycol. The generic dosage of the steroid for the individuals with normal health conditions from 50mg to 200mg after the interval of 3 or 4 weeks. However the specific dosage for the individuals might vary depending the physiological conditions, medications and treatments being taken. Some of the manufactures state that the beginners might start with 500+mg per week. This dosage can be evenly split into 2 or more smaller dosages depending on the doctor’s advice.


    Workout after Testosterone Steroid Dosage

    Drop sets are the recommended weight training programs for the bodybuilders after the administering of steroids. The synthetic form of steroids might take few days to have its initial impact. By that time the bodybuilder will have to start preparing the muscles for growth.

    There are many forms of the exercises which the bodybuilder can perform. The exercises related to pectorals, triceps, biceps, quadriceps, claves, traps, lats, glutes and deltoids can be helpful.  As the bodybuilder gains experience in weight training and muscles grow consistently, the dosage of steroids could be reduced according to the advice from the trainer and the doctor. 

  • What is best testosterone steroid for cutting? : - You need to check with your bodybuilding trainer and the physio before opting for any of the testosterone steroids. It is better not to take the risk of DIY procedures for the injections and take them from your physio who knows about your health and body conditions.
  • Which are best testosterone steroids for bulking? : - Some of the versions of bodybuilding steroid injections are Cypionate, Enanthate,  Dianabol, Trenbolone etc. The composition and strength of each form could be different and their effects may vary depending on the individual. Hence the proper injections recommendations will be best from your physio and the trainer.
  • Top Foods While on Bodybuilding Steroid

    Top Foods While on Bodybuilding Steroid

    The top foods to boost androgen receptors in your body can result in higher level of muscle mass growth and strength. There seems to be a belief that bodybuilders need to work only for mass development and they can ignore strength. However if you look at the bodybuilders with high muscle volume with lower strength, they are not able to lift heavy weights due to lack of strength. Hence it is important to increase both the parameters with equally efficient foods and workouts. One method of workout is to increase the weights and decrease the reps.

    These types of exercise will consist of weights that cause muscle failure at 8 to 10 reps. if you wish to build mass, endurance and strength, you have to opt for drop sets and increase the reps to more than 15 as you go ahead.  The nature of foods you consume determines how fast you will be able to develop all the three characteristics in your muscles.


    Foods to Boost Androgen Receptors - Positive Approach

    • Androgen Receptor Juice Recipe: - Anabolic glycerine with Carnitine and fructose can be a food for the production of androgen receptors in the body. You need to take one cup of orange juice, with three spoons of glycerine and 2 spoons of Carnitine powder in a bowl and mix well. You can consume this juice early in the morning in empty stomach before breakfast. The absorption rate of the ingredients by the muscles will be the highest at this time. Hence you can expect the androgen receptors to get generated and activated within a short span of time.
    • Beef and beans Recipe: - Take adequate quantity of meat, process the outer skin and take only the inner flesh. Add two cups of lime juice to two cups of water (or more depending on the beef quantity). Marinate the beef for 10 to 15 minutes. Then you can prepare a paste from onion, salt, garlic, pepper powder and vinegar. Rub the paste on the beef and marinate for the next 30 minutes.  Fry the beef in olive oil until it turns brown. Boil one small cup of beans and mix with the same paste which you prepared before. Top the beef with the beans sausage and serve. Similarly you can replace the beef with salmon, turkey and red meat. The combinations of all these ingredients can increase the production of androgen receptors in your body.

    Once the level of androgen receptors increases the activity levels of the steroids within your muscles is also expected to rise significantly.


    Best Micronutrients for Testosterone

    When the natural testosterone production gets suppressed by the testosterone steroid injections, there could be ways in which you can restore the balance to certain extent. According to the researchers it might not be possible to avoid this problems altogether. But it is possible to reduce the syndrome with the help of best micronutrients for testosterone.

    • Vitamin D3: - Vitamin D3 is one of the strongest supplements you can find to restore the level of natural testosterone within your body. A dosage between 4KIU and 5KIU is stated to be sufficient for the boosting of natural testosterone. According to researches this volume can increase the level of total testosterone up to 13.4+/-5 NMOL/L. When this is combined with the synthetic testosterone, you can expect faster and higher volume of muscle growth.
    • Iodine Supplements: - Iodine supplements are basically meant for the thyroid glands T3 and T4. An increase in T4 level will naturally increase the production of testosterone. At the same time you have to opt for regular weight training exercises which can increase the concentration of T4 hormones. The heavy weights with lower reps can help in the ripping of muscle fibers and expansion. This process will also activate the fiber rebuilding process which can provide extra mass and volume to the fibers. Highest muscle definition can be obtained by the combination of T4 and testosterone.
    • Zinc Supplements: - Zinc supplements can directly influence the active levels of the testosterones by exposing the interiors of the muscles (major and minor) for the penetration of the testosterones. Then the steroid can help build the tissues and fibers within this minor muscle. Similarly you can opt for micronutrients like the magnesium supplements for the enhanced production of testosterones. When you are on testosterone steroids, these supplements can help in better interaction between the steroid and the proteins in the muscles. They can help breaking down the proteins and enhance their metabolism with the help of the steroids. The energy produced from this process is absorbed by the muscles and the steroids once again help in the growth of muscular tissues.

    The energy stored in the muscles also acts as the endurance booster for the muscles during weight and resistance training. Remember you need to opt for the exercises which increase the muscle mass as well as the strength.


    Carbohydrates and Bodybuilding Steroids

    The consumption of carbohydrates can be in moderate to high quantities when you are engaged in high intensity weight training. The steroids help breaking down the carbohydrates into its basic elements and pure form of energy. This energy is also useful in increasing the muscle mass and strength.


    Bodybuilding FAQ

  • Q: - What is BV index for bodybuilding?
  • A: - BV Index is the Biological Value Index which is the ratio between the protein absorption from the foods and supplements and the volume utilized by the body.
  • Q: - What are healthy fats for bodybuilding?
  • A: - Some of the healthy fats for bodybuilding come from olive oil, almond oil, fish oil, cashew butter etc.
  • Q: - How hydration helps bodybuilding?
  • A: - By hydrating the muscles you are enabling the process of temperature control, nutrient circulation within the muscles, avoid muscle cramps, prevent fatigue and enhance the levels of energy flow. You need to drink at least 2.5 quarts of water to replace the lost water content, which helps you build the muscles in a better manner.
  • How Many Calories Should You Eat To Lose Weight?

    How many calories you should eat to maintain, gain or lose weight is one of those fitness and nutrition fundamentals that is pretty easy to figure out, once you know how to go at it.

    The simple answer is that most females can lose weight by reducing their calories to around 1500 a day and males, to around 2000 calories a day.

    But this isn’t a very scientific, nor particularly effective, method of determining how many calories you should eat each day to lose weight. Taking a “one-size-fits-all” approach doesn’t take into account a person’s weight, height, age and activity levels which can all impact how many calories you should eat each day. And taking this approach can also cost you muscle, which you always want to try to spare.

    How Many Calories Should You Eat To Lose Weight?

    A much better approach is to calculate your own specific calorie requirements, and use that to determine how many calories you should consume to lose weight.

    Calorie In, Calorie Out: The Key To Weight Loss

    ​While there are all kind of theories out there about tactics to lose weight that don’t necessarily involve calorie-counting (for example, changing your carbohydrate, protein and fat intake ratios like on the South Beach or Ketogenic diets), at the end of the day, the best place to always start is with calorie-in, calorie-out.

    The Key To Weight Loss

    Yes, changing your macro-nutrient mix can help for some people, but this violates the 80-20 rule: Focus 80% of your effort on the 20% of tactics that get you the best results.

    Once you’ve done that, you can try other approaches to shave off those last few pounds. For most people, controlling how many calories they eat will produce 80% of their weight loss results.

    The good news is that figuring out how many calories you should eat to lose weight isn’t terribly hard — all you’ll need is bathroom scale, a pen, piece of paper and a connection to the Internet. By the time you are done, you’ll have a pretty good idea of exactly how many calories you should be eating each day to hit your weight loss and fat loss goals.

    However, before we get started, it’s important to understand a couple of terms, including what a calorie is, something called your Basal Metabolic Rate (or BMR or “resting metabolic rate”) and your Total Daily Energy Expenditure (TDEE.) This will help you make more sense of the discussion going forward.

    What Is a Calorie?

    ​A calorie is simply a unit of energy.

    If you think back to Middle School science class, you’ll remember that a calorie is the amount of heat released when a food is burned. Scientifically, it’s measured as the amount of heat needed to raise the temperature of 1 gram of water 1 °C. Since adopting the metrics system, the calorie has been replaced with the “joule” in many countries (and in science) – but for most nutritional labeling in the U.S., the “Calorie” is still the standard metric for energy in food.

    In terms of the body and food energy, a calorie is just a measure of the amount of energy released from food during digestion. Only carbohydrates, fiber, fats, protein, organic acids, polyols and ethanol (alcohol) contain calories. All foods are made up of these macro-nutrients.

    All other foods not containing these macro-nutrients are considered “non-caloric” — things like teas and coffees (provided you aren’t adding sugar or cream), water, most spices, vitamins and minerals, zero calorie artificial sweeteners like Sucralose or natural sweeteners like Stevia — as well as other substances present in food like enzymes and antioxidants.

    Functionally, when you eat foods that contain calories, energy is released to the body to assist in powering your basic bodily functions like breathing, keeping your heart beating, digestion, reproduction and cellular repair.

    Energy from food is also used to repair tissue, assist in basic cellular functions, power the brain and to help you move around during the day — whether that is exercising, walking to your car or typing at the computer.

    If you don’t get enough calories, you will lose weight — but if your calories are too low for an extended period of time, these basic functions will also suffer. If you eat just enough calories, you’ll be able to meet your daily energy needs and maintain your current weight. If you drop calories slightly, you’ll lose weight — but not enough to interfere with the work of the body.

    What Is Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR) and Why Does It Matter

    ​Your Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR) represents the minimum amount of calories — or energy from food — that your body requires each day to fuel your basic bodily functions. It does not include extra calories you need to perform daily activities.

    You should view your Basal Metabolic Rate as the minimum amount of “gas” you need to put in your tank each day to stay healthy. Your BMR does not take into account the amount of activity you perform on top of breathing, thinking, pumping blood and digesting food. It’s really just representative of the amount of food you need to eat just to stay alive, at rest.

    CALCULATE YOUR BASAL METABOLIC RATE (BMR) HERE

    When you think about how many calories you should eat to lose weight, you want to also consider how many calories you should eat just to stay alive and healthy. Typically, that will no less than 1,000 calories — which is why you hear the idea that you shouldn’t eat less than 1000 calories a day bandied about.

    Measuring BMR usually involves the use of tests in a very controlled environment — where you are awake, but completely at rest. However, it is possible to estimate BMR (also known as Resting Metabolic Rate or RMR) based on gender, age, height and your current weight. Your Basal Metabolic Rate will typically account for 60-75 percent of your daily calorie expenditure. The remaining calorie-expenditure will come from activities and exercise.

    How Many Calories Do I Need? Calculating Total Daily Energy Expenditure (TDEE)

    ​Everyone has different lifestyles and levels of activities. The amount of calories that an Olympic Swimmer needs each day is much higher than a couch potato or even weekend runner.

    Your Total Daily Energy Expenditure (TDEE) basically takes your BMR and then “adjusts” it based on your daily activity levels. If you have a desk job and don’t exercise much, your TDEE will be lower than a construction worker who does a lot of physical labor as part of his or her job, or your cube-mate who does the same thing as you at the office, but is training for a marathon each night.

    Calculate your TDEE HERE

    Determining your BMR lets you set a baseline for what you need to consume each day to stay alive. Once you have that, you then need to take into account how much activity you perform each day, and add those calories into the BMR to get your TDEE. This will then give you an idea of how many calories you need to eat each day just to maintain your current weight. Once you know that, you can then adjust your calories down (or activity up) to lose weight.

    How To Determine How Many Calories You Should Eat To Lose Weight: A Step-By-Step Guide

    ​The first step is to determine how many calories you need to eat each day just to maintain your current weight (based on your BMR and TDEE.) Once you’ve done that, you can then subtract calories to hit your weight and fat loss goals.

    There are two ways to calculate this:

    • asterisk
      ​Online using one of the many calorie calculators available, which typically use the Harris-Benedict formula, but do the calculations for you.
    • asterisk
      ​Manually using a formula developed by two researchers, also know as the Harris-Benedict BMR formula

    ​I’ll show you how to do both, although using an online calorie calculator is the easiest, and will generally give you similar results to calculating your BMR and TDEE manually.

    Method One: Using an Online Calorie Calculator

    ​Using an online calorie calculator is the easiest, fastest way to determine how many calories you should eat to lose weight.

    Step One: On a piece of paper, write down your gender, age, current scale weight and height.

    Step Two: Go to this calculator from the Mayo Clinic and plug in your numbers. Choose your activity level and write down your results on a piece of paper. This is your BMR adjusted for daily activities, or Total Daily Energy Expenditure.

    Method Two: Manually Calculating Your Calorie Requirements

    ​If you like numbers and are interested in exactly how BMR is calculated, you can try manually calculating your BMR and TDEE using the Harris-Benedict formula. A calculator comes in handy here.

    Step One: On a piece of paper, write down your gender, age, current scale weight and height.

    Step Two: Choose one of the following formulas based on your gender and plug in your specific numbers for each of the items in italics. On a piece of paper, perform the math in the brackets first and write down the results on a piece of paper :


    Harris-Benedict Method for Calculating Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR)

    Women:
    655 + (4.3 x weight in pounds) + (4.7 x height in inches) – (4.7 x age in years) = BMR (un-adjusted for activity)

    Men:
    66 + (6.3 x weight in pounds) + (12.9 x height in inches) – (6.8 x age in years) = BMR (un-adjusted for activity)

    Step Three: Once you’ve done the above math, you’ll have your BMR, not adjusted for activity. Now you need to adjust it for your activity level in order to get your TDEE. To do this, choose which of the following five activity categories best describes you and multiply your BMR by the appropriate factor below:

    Activity Factor for Calculating Total Daily Energy Expenditure (TDEE)

    • asterisk
      ​If you are sedentary: BMR x 1.2
    • asterisk
      ​If you are lightly active: BMR x 1.375
    • asterisk
      If you are moderately active (You exercise most days a week.): BMR x 1.55
    • asterisk
      If you are very active (You exercise intensely on a daily basis or for prolonged periods.): BMR x 1.725
    • asterisk
      If you are extra active (You do hard labor or are in athletic training.): BMR x 1.9

    An Example of Calculating BMR and TDEE with Harris-Benedict

    Just so you can understand how this works, let’s use the formula above to calculate the BMR and TDEE for:

    • plus
      ​a 38 year old male
    • plus
      ​who is 5′ 11″
    • plus
      ​weighs 180 lbs
    • plus
      ​Has activity level of moderate (works out daily.)

    ​Italics indicate the actual numbers we plug in:

    66 + (6.3 x 180) + (12.9 x 71) – (6.8 x 38) = BMR

    Here’s how it would look once you’ve performed the math in the brackets:

    66 + 1134 + 915.9258.4 = 1857.5 (BMR)

    Now, we just need to adjust the BMR for his activity level, which is “moderately active.” To do that, take the BMR number (1857.5) and multiply it by the activity factor, which is this case is 1.55.

    1857.5 x 1.55 = 2879 Calories

    This represents the estimated amount of calories he has to eat each day to maintain his current weight, based on his BMR and activity levels.

    Adjusting Your Daily Calories to Lose Weight

    ​Now that you know your BMR and TDEE, it’s time to figure out how many calories you should eat each day below your TDEE in order to lose body fat.

    To do this, you’ll need:

    • asterisk
      ​A weekly fat loss goal (lbs per week)
    • asterisk
      ​Your TDEE number

    ​A pound of fat contains about 3500 calories. So if you want to lose 1 lb of fat per week, you need to create an average calorie deficit of 3500 calories per week below your TDEE.

    So let’s say your TDEE is 2800 calories a day. You would want to come in at the end of the day at about 2300 calories. You can do this one of three ways:

    • asterisk
      ​Reduce your average food intake across the week by 3500 calories (about 500 calories a day)
    • asterisk
      ​Burn an extra 3500 calories a week via exercise (or 500 calories a day)
    • asterisk
      ​Do a combination of the two: Reducing your dietary calories by 1750 a week and burning an extra 1750 calories with exercise for a total deficit of 3500 a week (Reducing daily dietary calories by 250 and burning 250 additional calories a day.)

    ​Remember, we’re not talking about reducing your calories 3500 a day. Rather, for the scenario above, you would spread that out over seven days, which would equal a 500 calorie deficit each day. This is generally pretty attainable for most people.

    Which Approach To Weight Loss Should I Take?

    ​The method that you want to use to create your calorie deficit really depends on your schedule, goals and current diet.

    In general, the third option, where you reduce your calories slightly and increase your exercise levels is probably the most effective for most people. In scenario three, you would basically eat 250 less calories a day, and burn an additional 250 calories with exercise to arrive at a daily deficit of 500 calories below your TDEE. For most people, this would result in a loss of 1 lb of body fat a week.

    Option 3 is ideal, because it combines both exercise and diet modifications, which can improve overall fitness, increase metabolism and prevent you from feeling hungry.

    It’s also easier for people to swallow (no pun intended), because you aren’t making dramatic cutbacks in the amount of food you eat. And trying to burn an extra 500 calories exclusively through exercise each day can be hard for people who have schedules that limit the amount of time they can spend in the gym.

    Weight Loss Example: Meet Sarah

    ​Just so you can understand exactly how this would work, let’s take a look at another example.

    Sarah is 28, currently weighs 145 lbs and is 5 foot 5 inches. She is pretty inactive. She doesn’t work out regularly and spends most of her day behind a desk. To maintain her current weight, Sarah needs to eat about 1750 calories a day (this is her TDEE). To lose one pound of fat a week, she needs to end the day at 1250 calories (1750-500=1250 calories), which means creating a daily calorie deficit of 500 calories below her TDEE.

    Sarah has one of three ways she can lose a pound of fat a week:

    • asterisk
      ​She eats 500 less calories a day, but keeps her activity levels the same
    • asterisk
      ​She increases her activity levels each day (typically through exercise) to burn an additional 500 calories each day
    • asterisk
      ​She eats 250 less calories each day and increases her activity levels to burn an additional 250 calories above her normal activity levels

    ​Any of these options will work, it’s really just a matter of what Sarah feels she can effectively commit to.1.

    What If I Want To Lose More Than a Pound A Week?

    ​Generally, you should aim for no more than 1-2.5 lbs of fat or weight loss a week. The more weight you try to lose in a short period of time, the more restrictive your diet has to become and/or the more exercise you have to perform.

    Lose More Than a Pound A Week

    Also, the leaner you are, the more careful you want to be when it comes to creating dramatic calorie deficits — especially anything that creates a calorie deficit of more than 1000 calories a day. Typically, this will result in accelerated loss of lean muscle mass, which is never a good thing. Likewise, the more body fat you have, the deeper you can cut into your TDEE. However, as you lose fat, you’ll need to adjust this.

    Studies have shown that people who lose weight more slowly are more successful at keeping it off for the long-haul.

    Also, losing fat and weight slowly reduces the chances that you’ll lose precious muscle mass along with the fat. Also, losing more than 2 lbs of fat a week can be very challenging from a diet and exercise perspective. To lose that much weight, you would have to create a daily calorie deficit of 1000 calories, which is very difficult to safely do with diet alone.

    The caveat here is that if your diet is currently full of lots of calorie dense foods, like soda, sweets, fast food, snacks and simple carbs, you could be overshooting your TDEE by as much as 1000 calories. Simply reducing those foods could result in fairly dramatic fat and weight loss. Adding some exercise in as well can speed that up.

    Four Tips for Calorie Counting and Losing Weight

    ​Once you know your TDEE and the amount of calories you need to burn or reduce in your diet, there are some tips and tricks that you can do to help you hit your weight and fat loss goals:

    Consider tracking your food using one of the great, free online websites like SparkPeople, The Daily Plate or Fitday. All of these sites offer calculators for determining how many calories you need to eat to lose weight (or maintain and even gain weight.) These sites make it easy to keep track of your food and exercise and make sure you are hitting your goals.

    ​Learn how to substitute more-nutritionally dense, healthier foods for the junk food you might be used to eating. Again, getting soda, excess sugar and fast food out of your diet can trim off hundreds of empty calories a day with some basic adjustments to your diet. And because you’ll be replacing junk food with healthier alternatives, you’ll find you are less hungry than if you just try to cut calories across the board.

    ​Get moving.Burning an extra 200 calories a day isn’t as difficult as it sounds. If you are sedentary or not as active as you’d like to be, try finding little ways to burn a few extra calories here or there. This could include taking the stairs instead of elevators, getting up from your desk and walking around the office more, or even forcing yourself to walk more by parking your car farther from the building. An inexpensive digital pedometer is a great way to track all of those extra calories burned, which can add up quickly over the course of the day.

    ​Focus on reducing body fat levels, not just scale weight. You’ve probably heard it before, but scale weight alone is not a good indicator of body composition. It’s fine to use a scale to measure your progress, but use it in conjunction with inexpensive AccuMeasure body fat calipers, which will give you a much more accurate reading on whether you are losing body fat, versus muscle.

    ​By getting a real sense of how many calories you need to eat each day to hit your weight loss goals, keeping track of what you eat, cleaning up your diet and adding some exercise in, it’s actually fairly easy to make ongoing progress at reducing body fat and improving your overall fitness levels … without resorting to fad diets or extreme calorie-restriction.

    8 Ways to Break a Weight Training Plateau

    Break a Weight Training Plateau

    Why Training Plateaus Happen

    Training plateaus occur because the human body is constantly adapting to the stress we place on it.

    The body’s natural inclination is to keep things nice and balanced (known as homeostasis.) It doesn’t really like change, and when you try to create change, it responds by trying to make those unusual circumstances (like lifting more weight than you normally do) the norm. It does this by rebuilding the muscle so that there is nothing extra-ordinary about moving that amount of weight in the future.

    The way you increase muscular strength, endurance or muscle size is by continually and progressively overloading your muscles, so that in their effort to adapt, they grow and become stronger. However, the body is pretty smart, and at some point starts to put the brakes on things.

    Humans also have some inherent genetic limitations on how strong they can become or how much muscle mass they can put on — so the closer you get to “peak performance” the slower your progress becomes. This is why beginning weight lifters or exercisers often make a lot of rapid progress, while individuals who have been training for years find that their gains come much slower. In fact, the more conditioned you are, the more frequently you’ll hit training plateaus.

    Eight Ways To Break A Training Plateau

    Breaking a training plateau always involves change. Most plateaus happen because you’ve simply been doing the same thing in the gym over-and-over again for too long. You assume that what worked yesterday will work tomorrow.

    There are eight things you can try when you think you’ve hit a plateau. There are a number of other plateau-breakers out there as well, but I’m going to on these eight for now.

    It’s best to do them in order — advancing to the next tactic only if you’ve found that the previous one didn’t work. The final three tactics are more advanced, and will generally be most effective for more highly-conditioned or experienced lifters.

    Training Plateau Buster #1: Use an Exercise Log

    If you think you’ve hit a plateau, but aren’t tracking all of your performance in the gym (exercises, weight used, reps and sets) using an exercise log, then the first change you need to make is to start writing things down.

    Because you’ve been tracking everything in your head, you may have a distorted perception of your progress. It could be that you’ve plateau-ed because you simply haven’t been progressively challenging yourself each workout. And how could you know if you aren’t recording it?

    Start a log today and track your actual performance going forward. Each workout try to best your last lift in some way: either by using slightly more weight, another rep or an additional set. If you still can’t increase your strength or endurance after #2-#3 weeks, then go on to the next tactic (but keep tracking things going forward.)

    Training Plateau Buster 2: Check Your Diet and Mind-Body Factors

    Things like diet and sleep can have a huge impact on your overall health, fitness and training progress. Take a close look at your calories, the types of foods your are eating and sleep.

    For instance, if your goal is to add more lean mass, but you aren’t eating a slight surplus of calories each day, you are going to have problems. Additionally, low-energy levels could be negatively impacting your ability to perform up to your potential in the gym. So if you aren’t getting enough sleep, or not eating enough food (or the right combination of complex carbs, healthy fats and protein), this can stall your progress.

    Keep notes in your exercise log about how you feel during a workout and your relative energy levels and then compare the peaks and valleys against your food and sleep. Sometimes breaking a plateau is as easy as making some adjustments to your diet to give you more energy during your workout.

    Training Plateau Buster 3: Take A Break

    If you’ve truly hit a plateau and know it because you’ve after reviewing your exercise log and diet you can see that you’ve stalled in strength or endurance gains, then it’s time to give yourself a rest.

    Yes, I’m actually recommending that you workout less, instead of more, to break a training plateau.

    You can do this one of two ways:

    • Active Rest: Active rest is when you continue your exercise routine for a week, but lighten the resistance to between 30-50% of your One Rep Max (1RM). This will feel very light, and will probably allow you to do seemingly endless reps. That’s the point. The idea of active rest is to give your body a break, but to still remain active during that rest period. This high-rep, low-intensity workout keeps your usual workout patterns and habits intact, but allows a recovery period.
    • In-Active Rest: This means taking a break for seven days from any weight or resistance training, period. During this time you can continue to perform cardio if you like. Or you can just give yourself a break from all exercise for a week. Many people find that when they return to the gym the following week, they feel stronger and actually can lift more weight or perform more reps than before the rest.

    If you are concerned about muscle atrophy or loss of strength or endurance during either active or in-active rest periods, don’t be. It takes longer than a week for muscle to begin to break down. Continue to eat healthy during your week off and don’t be surprised if you’re plateau has disappeared when you return to your normal workout routine.

    Training Plateau Buster #4: Change Your Rep Ranges and Specificity

    If you’ve checked your sleep, diet and given yourself a rest – but still are hitting a wall — the next thing to do is change some aspects of your existing workout routine — typically weight used and rep ranges.

    Take a look at your workout log and see if you are consistently training within a given rep-band, and then change it.

    For example, if your workout logs shows that most of your sets are in the #8-10 rep range, it’s time to change it up. You can do that by either adjusting your resistance up to force you to train in a lower-rep band (4-6 reps) or decreasing your resistance and training in a higher-rep range (15-20 reps.)

    In other-words, do the opposite of what you’ve been doing in terms of weight and reps.

    If you lower your reps with more weight, you’ll be emphasizing muscular strength. If you increase reps and decrease load, you’ll be training for muscular endurance. Both of these tactics can help jump start your progress.

    Many people find it useful to take their current workout and adjust it to emphasize high-rep endurance work for one week, and then switch to low-rep strength work the next week. At week three, return to your mid-range rep workout.

    This is actually a tactic that you can employ on a regular basis to encourage better overall development, balance and conditioning, and head-off plateaus before they even happen.

    Training Plateau Buster #5: Switch Routines

    If you are still struggling with your progress, make a radical switch in your workout routine.

    For example, if you’ve been following a 5-day split routine, consider switching to a full-body workout performed three times a week for 4-6 weeks. Likewise, if your already doing a full body routine, switch to a split for a month or two.

    Switching routines will typically cause changes in the order of your exercise, reps/weight/sets and even your rest and recovery periods. All of these factors can have a dramatic impact on improving performance and breaking through a training wall.

    Training Plateau Buster # 6: Change the Order of Your Exercises

    Change up the order of your exercises within an existing routine and you may see an increase in strength, endurance and size.

    For example, if you are always performing chest exercises before shoulders, your triceps may be pre-fatigued before your shoulder work. This can cause you to push less weight during shoulder exercises as your triceps become the limiting factor.

    When you perform shoulder work first, your triceps are fresh and no longer your weakest-link. You’ll likely find that you can push more weight with your shoulders than in the past, which can help balance things out and jump-start growth.

    This is especially important if you are performing a full body routine, since you will always be working all of your major muscle groups in a single workout.

    Training Plateau Buster #7: Get Eccentric!

    If you’ve gotten to this point, you are probably a fairly well-conditioned, experienced trainee. That means you may need to try some more advanced techniques for breaking a strength or endurance plateau.

    One tactic that may be effective is to put more emphasis on eccentric contractions — in other-words, the portion of the exercise when you lower the weight.

    The muscle is able to handle more load on the eccentric contraction than it can on the concentric, which allows you to move more weight than you may be used to. You can use this to your advantage to “shock” the muscle into developing more strength.

    You may have heard this referred to as “negatives.” If you choose to try this technique, you’ll need to have a good spotter. Here’s how it works (we’ll use the bench press as an example):

    • Load a barbell with 10-15 percent more weight than you are accustomed to using.
    • With an attentive spotter covering you, lower the barbell slowly to your chest (this is the eccentric or negative portion of the contraction) and then have your spotter help you move the weight back up. This is a complete rep.
    • Continue to lower the weight yourself for additional resp, but use the spotter to help you push the weight back up each time.
    • Continue until feel like you are approaching failure on the negative rep and need the spotters assistance to even lower the bar.

    If you play around with negative reps, expect to have a serious case of the DOMS the next day, since eccentric exercises tend to produce the most severe cases of delayed onset muscle soreness.

    Because this is a shock technique, you also want to limit how often you use it. It’s not something you want to base your ongoing routine on, but performing them every now and then can be very effective at blasting through a strength plateau.

    Training Plateau Buster 8: Try Drop Sets

    Drop sets are another advanced technique you can use to try to jump-start your progress when you’ve hit a plateau.

    Drop sets involve performing a set of repetitions at your normal weight and rep range for a given exercise until fatigue sets in, reducing the weight and continuing to perform the exercise with reduced poundage until fatigued, dropping the weight again and continuing for additional back-to-back sets.

    Drop sets are a high intensity form of weight training that encourage increases in muscle size by more deeply fatiguing muscle fibers.

    Drop sets can also increase muscle endurance, which may eventually enable you to push out more reps at your normal training weight. Drop sets can be performed on machines or with free weights (you’ll typically want a spotter available to quickly strip off plates on things like squats or bench presses.)

    Change Things Up To Discourage Training Plateaus

    The one thing that almost all of the tactics above have in common is that they require change. Change in exercises, repetitions, or methods for challenging the muscle.

    Remember, training plateaus are your body’s way of adapting to the work you make it perform. One of the best ways to discourage tough training plateaus from developing in the first place is to change up your workout regularly — typically every 8-10 weeks. This can simply be minor tweaks to your existing workout like varying rep ranges, or it can be ditching your current workout altogether and trying something new.

    Plus, changing your approach to exercise will keep things exciting and can stave off boredom, which is one of the most serious challenges to continual progress.

    How Many Calories Are Burned Weight Lifting?

    The amount of calories you burn weight lifting depends on your weight, the intensity of your weight training, and the duration (and your age, to some extent, but this is less important.)

    A 180 lb male performing 60 minutes of weight training with vigorous effort (meaning little or no rest periods between sets) and at an intensity that causes your heart rate to remain somewhat elevated during exercise would burn approximately 400-475 calories weight lifting.

    If you tend to take long rests between sets and your intensity is lower, the same person can expect to burn around 250 calories weight lifting for one hour.

    This, of course, will very depending on your body weight.

    The key here really is how intense the weight lifting is.

    If you are performing circuit-type weight training, with extremely short rest periods or are performing supersets, it is possible to burn a fair amount of calories during a bout of weight training.

    If you’d like to calculate how many calories you would specifically burn weight lifting, you can try this calculator from Calorie King that takes into account your age, height, weight and gender and then returns a list of activities with their estimated calories expended.

    Weight Lifting versus Cardio For Calorie Burning

    However, regardless of your intensity during weight lifting, you will still burn less calories during that same time period than if you performed moderate-intensity duration cardio.

    To illustrate this, if you ran for 60 minutes at 8.6 mph (roughly a 7 minute mile), a 180 lb male would burn approximately 1,100 calories. If that’s a little too fast for your blood, running at 5.2 mph for an hour would still burn 734 calories, approximately 300 more calories than you’d burn performing the same duration of weight training.

    That said, while you burn more calories during aerobic cardio exercise like running, research has suggested that Excess Post Exercise Oxygen Consumption (EPOC) is greater after weight training than after aerobic exercise.

    The estimates of how long that post-workout metabolism lift might last are controversial.

    You’ll often hear fitness and bodybuilding magazines throw around the figure “up to 24 hours” (and I’ve actually heard people claim as long as 48 hours), but recent research says increases in EPOC may actually only last for 60 minutes or less.

    A warning: It’s important not to make too much of this increased EPOC after weight lifting.

    While EPOC is increased, we’re not talking about hundreds of extra calories being burned after weight training — it’s more like an extra dozen or so, which generally isn’t enough to make up for the gap between cardio and resistance training when it comes to calories burned during these respective exercises.

    Do I Have to Do Cardio?

    The whole “Cardio versus Weight Training” issue is hotly debated, especially among bodybuilders.

    There are some bodybuilders who perform very little, if any cardio, and still maintain low body-fat to lean tissue levels. It’s hard to say if this is because of their training routine, the use of anabolic steroids or performance enhancing drugs, or their individual genetics.

    Some people simply don’t put body fat on easily, and have few problems taking it off quickly, so cardio doesn’t play as large of a role in their training. Others have to perform some form of regular aerobic exercise to maintain a good lean muscle to body fat ratio. The trick is to find what works for you.

    Most natural bodybuilders will perform some amount of regular cardio along with their weight training. However, it’s unusual to find them performing extremely long duration, solid state cardio. Marathon running or long-duration cardio is generally too catabolic to encourage the muscle gains that bodybuilders are looking for.

    Even if you don’t have your eyes on the Mr. or Ms. Olympia, if your goal is to add lean mass and get “toned”, you’ll want to moderate your total cardio. No one, male or female, gets toned by endless rounds of cardio alone.

    Cardio and Weight Lifting: The Best of Both Worlds

    The best overall approach for most people is to perform a combination of weight and resistance training and some cardio.

    There are benefits to aerobic exercise outside of simply burning fat — it improves cardiovascular endurance and can have positive effects on your mood.

    Also, research has indicated that combining cardio with regular weight training burns more fat overall than if you just performed weight training alone, or only cardio.

    If you dread cardio (especially the monotony of running on a treadmill), try high intensity interval training (HIIT), which allows you to enjoy some of the benefits of aerobic exercise (including improved cardiovascular endurance and increased VO2Max), while avoiding the long, solid-state runs.

    The Myth of Sit ups For a Flat Stomach

    ​Despite what you might have heard, a flat stomach really has less to do with the amount of sit ups you perform and more to do with your overall body fat levels.

    ​While sit ups and other abdominal exercises like crunches, jack-knifes and hanging leg raises can all help develop more muscle in your torso (as well as contribute to overall core stability and strength), getting a flat stomach or having definition in your abs is really 80 percent diet.

    The Myth of Situps For a Great Stomach

    It’s a common myth that getting a flatter stomach and better abs is just a matter of performing more abdominal exercises.

    This has to do with some misconceptions around spot reducing body fat.

    Many people seem to think that performing situps will burn fat in your belly. While there actually is some evidence that the body will draw on localized fat stores to power muscles in the vicinity, belly fat is typically one of the last things to go on a person. This is why you can be fairly lean in other areas of your body, but still have a gut.

    If you don’t drop overall body fat levels, but still perform lots of ab work, you will add muscle to your abs, but you’ll still have a layer of subcutaneous fat obscuring them. This can actually make you look “thicker” in the mid-section than if you performed less abdominal exercises. This is especially true if you are doing a lot of oblique work under resistance, which can square-off your waist if your body fat levels remain high.

    Low Body Fat: The Key to a Flatter Stomach

    Flatter Stomach

    ​While sit ups and other abdominal exercises like crunches, jack-knifes and hanging leg raises can all help develop more muscle in your torso (as well as contribute to overall core stability and strength), getting a flat stomach or having definition in your abs is really 80 percent diet.

    The Myth of Situps For a Great Stomach

    It’s a common myth that getting a flatter stomach and better abs is just a matter of performing more abdominal exercises.

    This has to do with some misconceptions around spot reducing body fat.

    Many people seem to think that performing situps will burn fat in your belly. While there actually is some evidence that the body will draw on localized fat stores to power muscles in the vicinity, belly fat is typically one of the last things to go on a person. This is why you can be fairly lean in other areas of your body, but still have a gut.

    If you don’t drop overall body fat levels, but still perform lots of ab work, you will add muscle to your abs, but you’ll still have a layer of subcutaneous fat obscuring them. This can actually make you look “thicker” in the mid-section than if you performed less abdominal exercises. This is especially true if you are doing a lot of oblique work under resistance, which can square-off your waist if your body fat levels remain high.

    Low Body Fat: The Key to a Flatter Stomach

    While it is possible to flatten out your stomach through moderate loss of belly fat, if you want to get a really lean, defined torso with abdominal definition, you’re going to have to get your body fat levels down at a minimum into the “fitness” category and preferably at ”athletic” category. Body composition is everything when it comes to getting abs.

    In men, that muscle typically won’t start to show until you get into the 10-12 percent body fat range, and it doesn’t really start to pop until you hit the high single digits.

    Women will start to show good abdominal definition around 15 percent body fat, and can achieve a “ripped” look at between 12-13 percent. However, it’s difficult for most women to maintain body fat levels in the 12-13 percent range for long periods of time (and there are some health issues that can arise with sustaining levels below 15 percent for extended periods.)

    Now, there are men who have higher body fat levels and also have the appearance of “flatness” combined with muscle in their abs. They may also show some definition. This is usually because they have trained their abs under resistance, which increases the size of their abdominal muscles and fills out the space under the belly fat — giving the appearance of a more “solid” torso. The larger your frame is, the more you can get away this.

    So this is one way to improve the appearance of your abs without necessarily dropping down into very low body fat levels. However, this approach will create a more “blocky” midsection — and not necessarily a leaner, narrower one. However, it still tends to look more solid aesthetically.

    The V-Taper: The Secret to a Leaner Looking Mid-Section?

    From your question, I also think your are looking for overall improvements in your upper body and torso — not just a six pack.

    There are some visual tricks that you can do to give the appearance of a more lean midsection. One of these is to improve the broadness of your back, shoulders and chest — which will create more of a V-taper and make your waist look smaller in relation to your upper body.

    Exercises to Improve V-Taper and Give An Appearance of Leaner Waist

    To do this, I would focus on performing things like standing military presses for your shoulders, chest pressing exercises and especially plenty of back work. If anything, I would put more emphasis on back exercises (things like pull-ups and rows) and less on the chest, since most men have under-developed backs due to an over-emphasis on chest pressing movements.

    Improving your back development can help improve your v-taper from both the front and from the rear, which will make your waist look smaller. Having well-developed lower lats (those “batwings”), in particular, can also really help improve your V-taper.

    Wide-grip pullups as well as cable rows and bent-over barbell rows (with your body perpendicular to the barbell and the weight being pulled toward the center of your belly) can also build thickness in your lower lats.

    Form is really important with the bent over rows, because if you are drawing the weight up to your chest instead of stomach, you’ll be emphasizing your rear delts and middle-back (and to some extent your traps), instead of your lower lats.

    Many people find performing bent over rows in a Smith machine is beneficial, since you can use the machine to stabilize yourself when you are in a position that is perpendicular to the floor. This can be pretty challenging with a free-weight barbell in a squat rack, especially as you begin to increase the resistance as you become stronger. An added bonus of performing bent over rows is that you’ll also typically experience some improvements in lower back strength as well.

    What About Those Situps and Crunches?

    Sit-ups, crunches and other abdominal exercises can be part of building a better stomach and mid-section, but they aren’t going to get results on their own.

    In terms of how many crunches or sit-ups you should do for stomach flattening, more isn’t necessarily better.

    The abs are not particularly unique and more-or-less respond to the same training protocols as any other muscle group. The abs do have less potential for muscle hypertrophy (size) than say your thighs, but performing high-volume ab work isn’t going to overcome this. Performing 100 rep sets of crunches or sit-ups isn’t going to build more abdominal muscle — it’s just preferencing slow-twitch muscle fibers that contribute to endurance, not size.

    ab exercises

    If getting some ripples in your abs is your goal, consider performing your ab exercises with some resistance. For instance, place a plate or dumbbell over your chest during crunches. Or, if you have access to a cable machine, trying bent over cable crunches.

    Instead of going for volume with your ab work, concentrate instead on doing 15 good form crunches, with a strong contraction at the top of the motion. Do two to three sets and be done with it.

    Crunches have overall been found to be superior to sit ups when it comes to abdominal recruitment, so I would encourage you ditch the sit ups and opt instead for crunches. Sit ups tend to recruit the hip flexors rather than the abs, so you get much more bang-for-you-buck with crunches.

    I would also try to add in some form of leg raise, which will improve the development of your lower abs and increase overall core strength and stability. These can be performed as hanging leg raises or in a Roman Chair. Bicycle crunches have also been shown to result in high ab recruitment in a 2001 study conducted by the Biomechanics Lab at San Diego State University.

    Other Tactics for Flattening Your Stomach

    Jack, there are a couple other tactics that you can experiment around with to see if you can strip off some belly fat and get a leaner torso.

    You don’t mention what your current cardio routine is like, but you might consider trying some high intensity interval training (HIIT), which some research indicates may do a better job of burning abdominal fat than duration or solid-state cardio.

    Also, try playing around a bit with your daily calories and macro-nutrients. It could be that you are eating too much each day, which is causing you to either put on additional body fat, or at least keep you from taking any off. Also, some people find that increasing protein and healthy dietary fat while pulling back a bit on carbs (especially simple carbs and sugars) can help them lean out a bit.

    The Skinny on Protein, Carbohydrates and Fats – Nutrition 101

    The right combination of carbohydrates, protein and healthy fats is critical to reaching your diet and fitness goals. Learn how it all comes together on your plate.

    The Skinny on Protein, Carbohydrates and Fats

    You’ll often hear myself or fitness and nutrition experts discuss the importance of “balanced-meals” to people who are trying to stay fit and in-shape. But what is a balanced diet? And why is it so critical?

    A balanced diet simply means that you provide your body with all of the basic nutrients that it needs to provide you with energy each day, as well as to repair and build tissue.

    Even if you laid in bed all day, your body still requires around 1200 calories just to fuel basic functions like breathing, digestion, cellular repair and even thinking. The more active you, the more calories you need.

    But calories alone are only part of the picture.

    Your body also requires amino acids from protein and lipids from dietary fat to maintain, regenerate or repair tissue, whether that’s skeletal muscle, connective tissue, skin, or nervous tissue.

    Protein, carbohydrates and fats are often referred to as “macro-nutrients” because your body needs large amounts of them to perform basic cellular functions.

    Micro-nutrients”, on the other hand, are things like vitamins and minerals, which your body uses in smaller amounts to maintain healthy, functioning cells, tissues and organs.

    Let’s take a closer look at each macro-nutrient and the role it plays in remaining healthy and fit.

    Carbohydrates

    Carbohydrates are the body’s primary source for fuel. With the exception of some isolated populations (such as the Inuits, who traditionally subsisted primarily on fats and proteins), carbohydrates comprise the majority of calories in most modern human diets.

    Carbohydrates are found in a wide-range of foods including grains, breads, beans, nuts, milk, vegetables, fruits, cookies, sugar and soda. Because of their molecular structure, the body can break them down quickly and efficiently into glucose, which can be readily used by the body as energy.

    Carbohydrates come in a variety of forms including sugars, starches and fiber. Depending on their structure, they may also fall into one of two groups: simple carbohydrates and complex carbohydrates.

    • Simple carbohydrates include sugars like sucrose (table sugar), fructose (fruit sugar) and “grape sugars” which are glucose or dextrose. Of the three, glucose and dextrose are the simplest forms and the carbohydrates most easily utilized by the body for energy since they are the most easily digested.
    • Complex carbohydrates, on the other hand, contain three or more linked sugars, and thus require the body to work harder to break them down into glucose for energy. Some complex carbohydrates, like fruit or vegetable fibers, for example, cannot be broken down by the body and are passed through undigested.

    In recent years carbohydrates have gotten a bad rap. Part of this stems from the popularity of low-carb, high-fat diets like Atkins which encourage people to reduce carbs to extremely low levels, and part of it comes from emerging research around the health risks associated with the consumption of large amounts of simple, refined carbohydrates.

    Carbohydrates themselves are not bad. They play an important role in nutrition, because they are a quick and efficient way to deliver energy to your cells, which can power your workouts and every day activities.

    The key here is to preference complex carbs over simple carbs. Complex carbs are lower on the glycemic index, and thus don’t cause the quick spikes in blood sugar that simple, refined carbs do. These blood sugar spikes have been linked to increased risk for diabetes, metabolic syndrome, heart disease and obesity. There is also some evidence that high-glycemic diets may also encourage certain types of cancer.

    Good sources of complex carbohydrates include whole grains like oatmeal, brown rice, and whole wheat, as well as fresh vegetables and fruits.

    Protein

    Next up is protein.

    Protein is made up of amino acids, which are the building-blocks of all cells … and life.

    Protein is used by the body to build, maintain and replace tissue (including muscle, hair, skin ,organs and glands), as well as to produce hemoglobin, maintain proper immune function, and produce essential hormones and enzymes. Protein can also be broken down into glucose (although not as efficiently as carbohydrates) for energy. Without protein, your body would be unable to build muscle and carry out many of its essential functions.

    Foods that contain protein are broke into two groups: complete proteins and incomplete proteins.

    • Complete proteins contain all nine essential amino acids that the body cannot otherwise produce on its own. With the exception of soy beans, complete proteins are only found in animal foods like meat, poultry, fish, eggs, and milk and dairy products.
    • Incomplete proteins lack one or more of the nine essential amino acids. Incomplete sources of protein include most vegetables, as well as nuts, beans, seeds, peas and grains. Soybeans, however, are a complete protein.

    Although vegetable sources of protein are incomplete, you can combine them to arrive at a complete protein. For example, by combining brown rice and beans, you get all nine essential amino acids. This is why it’s even more critical for vegetarians or vegans to have carefully balanced meals when it comes to incorporating different sources of non-animal protein into their daily diet.

    Also, while it is not necessary to consume all nine amino acids at the same time to meet your basic protein needs (the body can actually “pool“ amino acids for later use), there may be benefits to consuming complete proteins at certain times of the day.

    For example, having all nine essential amino acids available to the body immediately following an intensive workout may help with recovery and blunt catabolism (muscle breakdown.)

    Protein is especially important for individuals who are engaged in intense physical activity or training, because it plays such an important role in the creation and repair of muscle and connective tissue. For those individuals, daily protein requirements may be greater than among the general population.

    Fats

    Like carbohydrates, fats have acquired something of a bad reputation, especially among dieters.

    Part of this was fueled by research three decades ago that linked diets high in saturated fat with increased risk of heart disease and certain cancers, and part of it was the public’s tendency to lump all fats together as “bad.” When food marketers jumped on the bandwagon in the 80s and began introducing “fat-free” foods, it seemed that everyone became obsessed with eating less fat, even if that meant eating more sugar and refined carbs than ever before.

    However, fats are an essential macro-nutrient and some dietary fat is required for survival.

    Indeed, the body needs fat to carry out a number of important processes. For example, some dietary fat is required to absorb certain fat-soluble vitamins such as vitamins A, D, E, K and caratanoids. Fat also plays a role in maintaining cell membranes, and people need some body fat to cushion their organs. The body even needs some cholesterol to produce certain key hormones, such as testosterone. Fat also is a concentrated form of energy, and when consumed with carbohydrates can slow their digestion and keep blood sugar levels stabilized.

    More importantly, recent research has started to distinguish between the protective qualities of certain healthy fats, like the Omega 3 fatty acids contained in fish and flaxseed and monounsaturated fats from things like olive oil, from the “bad” fats like saturated and Trans fats. Indeed, some researchers are even questioning whether the original studies linking diets high in saturated fat with increased heart disease are as conclusive as originally thought.

    Bottom line is that healthy fats from sources like olive oil, fish, avocados and nuts and seeds have a place in any fit person’s diet. While it’s still a good idea to avoid excessive saturated fats and Trans Fats (which ironically, were once considered “healthy” substitutes for saturated animal fats like lard or butter), going the “no-fat” route is probably a sure-fire ticket to a fatter mid-section. And you miss out on all of the protective benefits of healthy fats in the process.

    Putting It All Together: What’s the Right Mix of Carbs, Protein and Fats?

    So now that you understand the role of each macro-nutrient, let’s get back to that “balanced-meal” thing.

    Balancing your carbohydrates, proteins and fats is really a matter of percentages. There are basic guidelines issued by the USDA around recommended daily intake for carbs, protein and fats, but each individual is different and the USDA recommendations are based on an average person consuming either 1500 or 2000 calories a day.

    If you consume more calories because of your training regimen, your percentages may still fall within these guidelines, but your total grams of carbs, protein and fats will be higher than the average person.The USDA recommendations also assumes average activity levels, which may not be appropriate for someone who is very active, is engaging in regular weight training, is an athlete or is training for a marathon or triathalon.

    Also, some people find that they are more sensitive to carbs in terms of weight gain, and have better results managing their weight by customizing there macro-nutrient profile to emphasize slightly more protein or even fats in their overall diet.

    The USDA recommends that 45%-65% of a person’s daily calories come from carbohydrates, 10%-35% from protein and 20%-35% from fats. While the fat percentages may seem high, it’s important to realize that fat has more calories per gram than carbohydrates or protein. So while the percentage is high, the actual amount of fat that you consume under these guidelines is fairly low — typically less than 60 grams from a 2000 calorie diet.

    Protein: How Much Is Enough for Fit People?

    In terms of protein, there is debate over how much protein active individuals need each day — especially those engaging in weight or resistance training or athletic activities.

    The USDA doesn’t make a distinction between athletes and average people with lower activity levels when it comes to protein. The recommended minimum amount for men ages 19-70 is 46 grams of protein a day, and for women in the same age group, 46 grams of protein.

    If you are performing intense weight training and are very active, your protein requirements may be significantly higher — anywhere from 0.8 grams per kg of bodyweight to 1-1.5 grams per kg of bodyweight.

    While the USDA has not issued revised protein guidelines for individuals performing weight training or endurance exercises, there is a fairly convincing body of peer-reviewed research that does suggest higher protein consumption for people engaged in these types of activities. Those studies tended to look at protein consumption in excess of 1 gram per kg of bodyweight.

    Again, it’s important to remember that the total grams of protein that you consume are a percentage of your overall calories. So if you are eating 1800 calories a day, and 34% percent of them come from protein, you’ll be consuming around 637 calories from protein, which is 159 grams of protein each day. While the absolute number may seem high, this is still within the US RDA guidelines. This is why absolute recommendations for how many grams of protein you should eat tend to under-estimate actual protein requirements.

    Meal Planning: How Can I Make Sure I’m Getting the Right Mix of Carbs, Protein and Fats?

    While you can certainly track all of this right down to the percentages and grams in your food log or with a calorie counting program, it’s not always very practical.

    A good rule of thumb is to always include a complex carb, a protein and a healthy fat in every meal or snack.

    This is actually not terribly hard to do.

    For example, if your lunch was a turkey sandwich on whole wheat bread with lettuce and tomato and a half serving of almonds, you’d be at a mix of 37% carbs, 33% protein, and 30% fats. This is actually very close to Dr. Barry Sears Zone Diet ratio of 40:30:30, which in my personal experience is a good target to aim for, especially for someone who is trying to gain muscle and shed some fat.

    Bottom line is that specific ratios can vary slightly, provided you are making good, solid choices about the kinds of carbohydrates and fats you are including along with your protein.

    The main objective should be to always have each of the three macro-nutrients in each of your 5-6 small meals each day. This will ensure that you always have the critical nutrients available to your body, will stabilize blood sugar and prevent hunger pangs later in the day, and will discourage you from overeating and storing the excess calories as fat.

    What is Whey Protein Powder and Do I Need It?

    Whey protein seems to be everywhere.

    One of the top selling (and most heavily-marketed) nutritional and sports supplements on the market today, whey protein turns up as an ingredient in everything from smoothies to nutrition bars to high-protein cereals. Personal trainers often include whey as part of their clients’ diet plan, smoothie bars offer it mixed with ice and fruit, and aspiring bodybuilders and soccer moms alike seem to have found a permanent place for a tub of whey protein powder in their pantries.

    But what exactly is whey protein powder? Where does this stuff come from? And do you really need it?

    A Brief History of Whey Protein

    Whey is a natural by-product of the cheese-making process. Milk contains two primary proteins: casein and whey. Whey composes about 20% of milk proteins, and casein comprises the remaining 80%. So when you drink a glass of milk, you are consuming both casein proteins and whey proteins.

    During the cheese-making process, an enzyme called rennet is added to milk to curdle it. The curds are used to make cheese, and the remaining liquid is whey.

    Historically, this liquid was considered more-or-less useless. Indeed, the dairy industry had so much excess whey that they struggled with disposing of the surplus. Some of it found its way into swine or cattle feed, where it appeared to produce larger, meatier cows or pigs, but a great deal of it also ended up in the landfill.

    Which was really a shame, because the cattle farmers were on to something. It turns out that whey is extremely rich is three milk proteins – specifically beta-lactoglobulin (~65%), alpha-lactalbumin (~25%), and serum albumin(~8%) — which are more easily digested by the body than any other protein, including the holy grail of protein, eggs.

    There was just one problem: Whey in its naturally occurring form is a sloppy, liquid mess. It also has very little flavor. Trying to sell the world on a great protein source that has to be refrigerated and doesn’t have much taste would challenge even the best marketer.

    Enter modern technology. Scientists figured out a way (no pun intended) to “dry” and powder-ize whey, while still maintaining it’s basic nutritional profile. The result was whey powder, which could be reconstituted in liquids while still preserving its protein values.

    The rest, as they say, is history.

    Understanding the Different Forms of Whey

    Depending on the processing method, there are three different forms of whey protein: whey concentrates, whey isolate, and whey peptides. Let’s take each one individually:

    Whey Protein Concentrates

    Whey concentrates are less refined than isolates. This means that gram-for-gram they contain more fat, carbohydrates and lactose than isolates, and less protein. But before you write them off, you need to ask yourself a few questions.

    white powder

    First, am I lactose intolerant? If you are, concentrates may not be the fit for you. Because they aren’t as refined, they have more naturally occurring lactose present.

    Second, do the marginally higher carbs and fat really matter to me?

    Frankly, the difference in fat and carbs between concentrates and isolate is fairly minimal. For example (I used Prolab Pure Whey Powder for benchmarking,) a 32 gram serving of whey concentrate typically contains 130 calories, 2 grams of fat, 6 grams of carbs and 22 grams of protein.

    Compare that against 32 grams of whey isolate (I used Iso-bolic Whey Isolate for the comparison). The whey isolate has 127 calories, 1.7 grams of fat, 2.2 grams of carbohydrates and 26.5 grams of protein.

    Not a huge difference between the two, especially considering that isolate can cost $10-$15 dollars more than concentrate.

    Provided you don’t have any lactose-intolerance issues, the concentrate should do just fine … and it’s cheaper to boot. Also, there is some evidence that the lighter processing involved in creating whey concentrate spares some of the immune-boosting protein subfractions like alpha lactoglobulins and lactoferrins, which are removed in the isolate filtering process.

    Whey Protein Isolate

    Whey isolate is produced by passing whey proteins through ceramic filters that strip out certain compounds, like fat (lipids) and lactose sugars. The result is whey which has a higher concentration of protein.

    Practically-speaking, this means you need fewer “scoops” of whey isolate than whey concentrate to consume the same level of protein. And because much of the lactose is filtered out, there are fewer digestive problems. The down-side is that isolate appears to contain fewer compounds like alpha lactoglobulins and lactoferrins, which may be immuno-boosters.

    Whey isolate also typically mixes slightly better than concentrates, although the flavor of concentrates is richer and “milkier.”

    Hydrolyzed Whey Peptides

    Hydrolyzed wheys are whey proteins that have been “pre-digested” for easier, quicker absorption. “Hydrolyzing” typically involves breaking some of the amino acid chains that hold proteins together so that they are absorbed even more quickly by the body than normal whey amino acids. The downside is that hydrolyzed whey peptides generally taste nasty. For this reason, you won’t find them as a primary whey source in whey powders, although they may be a secondary ingredient in certain whey protein powder blends.

    What’s So Great About Whey Protein Powder?

    The main benefits of whey protein powder over other sources of protein like eggs, milk and soy are cost, convenience and absorption by the body.

    Cost

    While $40 dollars for a 5 lb tub of whey protein may seem expensive, when you consider that whey powder is around 90% pure protein, gram-for-gram it is actually a very economical source of high-quality, easily-digested protein compared to other sources of protein.

    Let’s do the math to illustrate:

    A 5 lb tub of 100% whey protein powder contains around 77 servings (30.4 grams per serving) of protein. That comes out to 24 grams of protein per serving, or 1848 grams of protein in a 5 lb container. While costs vary depending on brand, we’ll use $45 dollars as a benchmark here.

    So a 24 gram serving of whey protein costs around 58 cents.

    Now let’s compare that to eggs. The average cost of a dozen eggs in 2007 was $3.47. To get the same amount of protein from eggs as you got from the whey powder, you would need to eat four whole eggs. That means a comparable 24 gram serving of protein from eggs would cost you $1.15 (3.47 divided by 4.)

    What about chicken breast? You would need to eat around 4 oz of chicken breast to get the same amount of protein as you got from a single serving of the whey. Depending on the brand, boneless, skinless chicken breast will cost approximately $5 dollars a pound (less if it’s on sale.) That comes out to around $1.25 per 24 gram serving of protein.

    Soy protein powder doesn’t fare much better. It would take about a serving and a half of Genisoy Soy Protein Isolate to get 24 grams of protein. At $12.99 for a 22 oz container of soy powder, that would be around $1.14 per 24 gram serving of protein.

    So clearly of all of the major sources of protein, whey protein is still the most economical ounce-for-ounce.

    Convenience

    Whey protein powder is also extremely convenient.

    It’s highly portable, since all it requires is the addition of water to reconstitute it. And because it’s made from milk, even with water alone, it takes on a milky flavor and consistency (especially with the concentrates) that you just can’t typically duplicate in a soy protein powder.

    Whey protein is also light (so it travels wells), doesn’t require refrigeration and can be added to all kinds of foods, including skim milk, instant oatmeal and even healthy cookies and pancakes. This makes it an ideal in-between meal snack that you can literally whip up at your desk at work, take in a shaker to the gym with you, or pack in your laptop bag when you are flying.

    Absorption

    Whey protein has the highest absorption-rate of any protein food source. This is known as the Biological Value or BV, which is an indication of how much protein in a given food is actually available to the body to utilize.

    Whole eggs have a BV of 93.7, and whey protein has a BV of 100 (the higher the BV, the better.) It’s important to remember that BV only measures the potential absorption of protein against other foods, not how much of the protein you will actually absorb, which is can be impacted by other foods that you consume with the protein, as well as how much protein is already pooled in your body from earlier meals (the body can only utilize a certain amount of protein at a time.)

    Not only does the body potentially absorb more protein from whey, it digests whey more quickly than eggs, meat, or dairy. This makes it an ideal post-workout food, when it’s important to provide extra protein to the body to aid in recovery, especially after weight or resistance training. For these same reasons, whey makes a good addition to breakfast, since protein levels will typically be low after eight hours of sleep.

    DID YOU KNOW? Recent studies by Dr. Donald Layman, a professor at the University of Illinois, have highlighted the role of the essential amino acid leucine in improving body composition. High quality whey protein is rich in leucine to help preserve lean muscle tissue while promoting fat loss. Whey protein contains more leucine than milk protein, egg protein and soy protein. (Source: The Whey Protein Institute)

    Do I Have To Include Whey Powder in My Diet to Be Successful at The Gym?

    Gym

    While there is an extensive body of research supporting the benefits of whey protein, especially for weight trainers and athletes (whose protein requirements may be higher than the average person), you do not need to supplement with whey to lose fat and build muscle. Most Western diets easily meet the minimum daily recommended allowance of protein, so protein deficiency is not typically an issue for most people — especially if they are eating whole, well-balanced meals.

    While there are certain times of the day when adding whey protein into your diet can help ensure that you have enough protein available to assist in workout recovery, there are plenty of people who have built lean, muscular physiques without ever touching whey protein. Vegetarian or vegan body builders rely heavily on soy products for their protein, but this is primarily because obtaining all of the necessary amino acids from vegetable-sources of protein can be difficult without the addition of products like soy.

    For omnivores (people who eat dairy, eggs, meat, poultry and fish), there are plenty of other foods that can help supply high-quality protein, including eggs, dairy and chicken breast. A single eight-ounce serving of skinless, boneless chicken breast supplies over 40 grams of protein, so if you are including these foods in your diet, it’s not difficult to meet your minimum protein requirements.

    If you are an athlete, weight trainer, or even a person who is working hard at the gym, your protein requirements can be higher than the minimum RDA. There is considerable debate over how much higher, but the current thinking is anywhere from 0.8 grams per kg of bodyweight to 1-1.5 grams per kg of bodyweight. Some diets for bodybuilders or competitive athletes can go as high as 1.5 – 2 grams of protein per pound of bodyweight.

    So a 175 lb person would be looking at between 63.2 grams and 118 grams of protein a day.

    Again, there is no agreement on a standard for people who are engaged in intense weight training or sports activities. It’s also important to view your absolute protein consumption as a percentage of your total calories consumed. That range can be anywhere from 10% -35% of your daily calories from protein, so if you are on a 3000 calorie diet, that would be approximately 100 grams of protein at 35 percent of your calories from protein.

    Other Benefits of Whey Protein Powder

    There may be other benefits of consuming whey protein.

    Gram-for-gram, protein is lower in calories than fat (4 grams versus 9 grams respectively) so in terms of volume, you get more food with less calories. By substituting protein for some fats in your diet, you can reduce your overall calorie intake for the day. Over time, this can add up to additional fat loss.

    Protein also has minimal impact on blood sugar levels, so it tends to stabilize blood glucose and can help prevent you from feeling hungry, especially if you are on a calorie-restricted diet. When consumed with complex or simple carbs, protein can lower the glycemic index of carbohydrates, slowing their digestion and further stabilizing blood glucose.

    Finally, whey protein powders — primarily because of their convenience and portability — can help you eat smaller, more frequent meals, which can increase metabolism, stave off hunger and discourage overeating. Whey powders provide an excellent 200-300 calorie snack in-between meals, and can be mixed up nearly anywhere. Trying to fit in 5-6 smaller meals each day can be challenging, so whey protein can fill the gaps.

    When Is Whey Powder Not A Good Idea?

    If you have a history of kidney disease, you’ll typically want to restrict your consumption of protein. So whey supplementation will probably not be right for you.

    In healthy adults, with no kidney disease, consumption of whey protein in excess of the recommended daily allowance appears to be safe, and there is no conclusive research to demonstrate that large amounts of protein in these populations have adverse health risks or leads to kidney damage.

    Also, avoid substituting whey protein for all of your meals or as a regular substitute for other protein sources or whole meals. If you are consuming more than 1-3 servings of whey a day, you are probably short-changing yourself nutritionally. You need to eat whole meals and other sources of protein which naturally contain critical vitamins and minerals that may not be present in whey alone. Remember, whey protein is a way to supplement your regular whole food meals, not a replacement for them.

    Finally, be aware that whey manufacturers may add other supplements such as creatine or arginine, or high amounts of sugar (in weight gain powders) to their products. You need to look carefully to make sure the product is labeled “100% Whey Protein” and check the ingredient list for things like creatine, lipids or sugar (it will often say dextrose or maltodextrin, which are simple sugars.) Also, most 100% whey protein powders that don’t contain these types of additives will have less than 5 grams of carbohydrates and sugar. If they exceed that, the manufacturer may be adding sugar into the product. So it pays to read nutritional labels.

    Fad Diets: Why They Are Bad & How To Spot Them

    Open up a magazine, turn on the television or browse the Internet and it’s hard to avoid stumbling across the next “miracle diet”. From the Master Cleanse to Atkins to South Beach to the Cabbage Soup Diet, there are literally hundreds of popular fad diets competing for your attention (and often dollars.)

    Some fad diets, like the Grapefruit Diet, are attractive to dieters because of their simplicity: Drink grapefruit juice with your meals and watch the fat burn away. Others, like Atkins, The Zone Diet or South Beach, are more complicated — requiring you to buy a book and spend hours memorizing lists of what you can and can’t eat on the diet.

    But do fad diets work? And if they do, at what cost to your health (and taste buds?)

    Fad Diet Statistics: How Prevalent Is It?

    The statistics around fad dieting are revealing.

    The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimate that at any given time two-thirds of all American adults are on a diet to either lose weight or prevent weight gain. Of those, 29 percent are men and 44 percent women. Yet only 5 percent of these dieters will be successful at keeping the weight that they lost off.

    The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) estimates that each day Americans spend an average of $109 million on dieting or diet related products, including tapes, videos, supplements, books, foods, and medications – or over $34 billion a year.

    Yet, for all of the money spent on diets and diet products, another set of statistics shows Americans overall aren’t losing weight. According to the U.S. Surgeon General, overweight and obesity has reached epidemic levels, afflicting 6 out of every 10 adults, and is the second leading cause of preventable death, resulting in 300,000 deaths per year.

    So if Americans are dieting more, why do we keep getting fatter? With all of the claims that fad diets make around “losing weight and keeping it off” you’d think everyone would look like a fitness model.

    So what’s going on?

    The Definition of a Fad Diet

    First, it’s important to understand that “fad diet” is a subjective term. So any definition of a fad diet will be up for debate.

    The literal dictionary definition of a “fad diet” is “a diet that promises quick weight loss and is popular for a short time.” However, I’ve broadened the definition here to include any diet that has received extensive media attention or has generated underground or popular culture buzz. For example, Barry Sear’s Zone Diet wouldn’t qualify as a dangerous crash diet — but it certainly has generated enough on-and-off attention over the years to qualify as a “fad.”

    Many fad diets undergo a cycle of extreme interest, followed by a period of dormancy, and then a resurgance. In other words, fad diets don’t die, they just burn-out and then often return a decade later, promising weight-loss salvation to an entirely new generation of frustrated, serial dieters.

    The Difference Between Fad Diets and “Crash Diets

    A “crash diet” is a type of diet that aims to produce very rapid weight loss in an extremely short period of time — often in less than 3-7 days. Crash diets almost always operate on extreme calorie restriction. Not all fad diets are “crash diets”, but all crash diets qualify as fad diets.

    Spotting a Fad Diet

    It’s not difficult to spot a fad diet if you know what to look for. Nearly all fad diets have certain characteristics that allow you to spot one quickly. While a fad diet will not necessarily have all of these characteristics, it will typically share at least three or more of the following:

    • Claims of dramatic weight loss in short periods of time (typically in excess of 3 lbs a week)
    • Reductions in overall calorie intake, often at or below 1000 calories total for the day
    • Elimination of entire groups of foods or macro-nutrients (carbs, sugars, fats, fruit, bread, etc.) from the diet
    • Over-emphasis on consuming certain macro-nutrients (protein, for example) in the diet
    • Substitution a single food (grapefruit, lemon juice, cabbage soup, Special K Cereal) in place of normal whole meals
    • Lists of “good” and “bad” foods
    • Very little, if any, emphasis on exercise as part of the weight loss plan or diet
    • Emphasis on extremely short dieting intervals, for example, “24 hour diet,” “3-day diet” or “7 day diet.”
    • Claims that the diet will change body chemistry, overcome hormonal imbalances, or “fix” specific conditions that cause you to gain weight
    • Use of complex scientific studies with simplistic conclusions to support the “science” of the diet
    • Use of dramatic marketing language and too-good-to-be-true phrases like “quick-fix”, “melt off pounds instantly,” “lose fat fast”, “lose weight when you sleep,” “eat all you want and lose weight!” etc.
    • Recommendations to purchase products as part of the diet, for example: supplements, herbal blends, protein or nutrition bars, health drinks, etc.
    • Inclusion of laxatives as part of the diet
    • Claims about “detoxification” associated with the diet
    • Association with a popular celebrity or prominent company or organization
    • Excessive media attention, especially in tabloid newspapers
    • Circulated via e-mail, word-of-mouth or the web with no clear indication of its origin
    • A price tag: Many fad diets require you to fork over money to access the diet or buy the book

    This list is obviously very broad and inclusive, and not all diets that have these characteristics are necessarily unsafe or ineffective.

    For example, even legitimate diets can become associated with a celebrity and attract a lot of media and press attention. However, as a rule of thumb, the more of the above characteristics the diet has, the more likely it qualifies as a “fad diet.”

    The Anatomy of a Fad Diet

    Fad diets are attractive to people for a number of different reasons.

    Some of these reasons are fairly straight-forward and others are tied up in more complex phychological, personal and social phenomenon.

    At their core, fad diets are attractive to people because they promise fast, dramatic results with minimal effort. “Effort”, of course, is relative. Obsessing over lists of prohibited foods, denying yourself entire food groups, or subsisting on maple syrup and lemon juice would probably strike a lot of people as anything but “easy and effortless.” Yet every day, thousands of people choose to go on these diets, when some basic changes to their existing diet and a dose of daily exercise would probably get them better long term results.

    The emphasis on rapid results is also extremely alluring to people, especially in society trained to look for quick fixes in the form of pills or the instant gratification offered by fast food. Long-term weight and fat loss often require making fundamental changes to your overall lifestyle — including how you eat, and yes, how you exercise. Making these changes requires a longer-term vision of your health and fitness goals — something that requires commitment beyond “going on a diet” to get ready for your island vacation.

    The Effects of Fad Diets: An Endless Wheel of Frustration?

    Interest in fad diets is also fueled by the failure of previous fad diets to produce lasting results.

    It’s not uncommon to find people who are “serial fad dieters.” They will have jumped from one diet to the next, in search of that weight loss “silver bullet.” Because most fad diets are not sustainable over the long-term and often cause rebound fat gain once the diet has been ditched, people seek out the next diet in hopes that it will produce lasting results. This creates a kind of vicious circle of fad and crash dieting that leaves people frustrated and often, fatter than they were before they started their “diet.”

    The “newness” of trying a different diet is also a reason that people try fad diets. Each new diet — with it’s promises of amazing fat loss with little effort – gives the dieter a temporary jolt of hope and motivation. This can be almost addictive to some people, especially those who have tried other diets without the results they wanted.

    Celebrity Diets & The Cult of Personality

    Certain fad diets also play off from people’s obsession with celebrity.

    The interest in Beyonce Knowles use of the “Master Cleanse” diet to lose weight for her “Dreamgirls” role is a good example of that.

    People assume that if Beyonce — with her cadre of personal trainers and fitness “experts” — successfully used the diet, then it must be effective and “safe.” Of course, even Beyonce can get bad advice or fall prey to the allures of fad or crash diets. If Beyonce had been getting better ongoing fitness and nutrition advice from her trainers, she probably wouldn’t have needed to drink maple syrup and lemon juice for two weeks.

    “But My Friend Said This Diet Really Works!”

    Finally, like urban legends, fad diets typically spread on word-of-mouth.

    Some fad diets, like the GM Diet, actually are urban legends. The Internet and e-mail has made it possible for these kinds of diets to circulate like wildfire. Emails get passed along, people talk about their “new diet” in the break room at work, they blog about it, twitter it, and call into radio shows. Suddenly, the diet is everywhere and it seems like everyone is trying it.

    Because people trust what other people say — especially when they know that person — just the mention of a diet by someone you know or trust gives it credibility and legitimacy. If you hear more than one person talking about it, that only tends to strengthen that confidence. And because many of these diets do initially produce dramatic (but usually temporary and short-term) results, the fad diet will look like it’s effective. More often than not, if you go back to that person three months later, they’ll already be buzzing about the newest, next-best-diet that they are getting ready to “go on.”

    Fad Diet Types

    There are a number of different types of fad diets. Fad diets typically fall into one of 6 types or categories (and in some cases, will cross over into several):

    • Extreme Calorie Restriction Diets: All fat loss diets will utilize moderate calorie restriction, but this type of fad diet often radically restricts calories in order to produce quick weight loss
    • Food Restrictive Diets: These are diets that have you cut out entire macro-nutrients or certain types of foods, such as carbs or fruit
    • Celebrity Diets: Endorsed implicitly or explicitly, these diets use association with a celebrity to drive interest
    • Corporate/Organizational Diets: These are diets that claim to have originated from within companies or organizations. The GM Diet is a good example of this.
    • Detoxification Diets: Diets that claim to “detoxify” the body
    • Body Type/Blood Type/Psuedo-Scientific Diets: There are a whole groups of miscellaneous diets that are based on things like your body or blood type, Biblical principles (The Maker’s Diet), or evolutionary biology (The Paleo Diet.)

    Do Fad Diets Work?

    Fad Diet

    Nearly everyone knows a friend or acquaintance that swears their latest diet is working. And often, you’ll even notice that the person on the diet does appear to have lost weight.

    The dirty little secret of fad diets is that most of them do cause people to lose weight — and sometimes that weight loss will appear to be dramatic, depending on how extreme the diet actually is.

    For example, people who switch to low-carb diets like Atkins will often see a dramatic drop in scale weight within a few days, and may even find their clothing a little less snug than before they started the diet. Many people will mistake this drop in scale weight as a reduction in body fat. However, much of this weight loss comes from water.

    Put the carbs back in, and the water weight returns.

    This isn’t to say you can’t effectively lose body fat on a low-carb diet. It’s simply intended to show that diet results can be deceiving and that people really should consider gauging their progress by reductions in body fat levels, versus purely scale weight.

    The volume of food you are eating can also have a marked initial impact on scale weight.

    For instance, if you are on a diet that relies heavily on liquids (like the Master Cleanse/Detox Diet), you’ll see your scale weight drop very quickly because you simply are not eating foods with volume or much weight to them. If you cut out fibrous foods — which absorb water during digestion — you’ll see a temporary reduction in weight as well.

    Many fad diets will result in some loss of body fat, since you typically will be reducing calories. However, these diets can also wreck havoc on your metabolism and endocrine system and cause rapid fat gain once you go off the diet. This is the reason that only 5 percent of people who go on diets will actually keep off the weight or fat they lost.

    Are Fad Diets Safe?

    The safety of fad diets really depends on the diet itself.

    Some popular diets like South Beach or The Zone Diet are fairly balanced – they still include a lot of fresh vegetables, some healthy fats, certain complex carbs and protein. Fruit may or may not be on the list. The jury continues to be out on whether carbohydrate-reduction is an effective long-term strategy to maintaining your weight, and there are valid arguments on both sides around the safety and efficacy of sustained low-carb eating.

    Other diets clearly come with serious health and safety risks.

    For example, The Master Cleanse (also know as “The Detox Diet” or “Lemonade Diet”) is a liquid diet that not only completely cuts out macro nutrients like carbohydrates, protein and fats, but also provides only trace amounts of key vitamins, minerals and phyto-chemicals. The diet has been around since the 1930s, but recently gained renewed attention when a number of celebrities claimed to have successfully used it for weight loss.

    The diet comes with a long list of reported side-effects, including headaches, constipation, digestive problems, imbalances in gut flora and fauna, loss of energy, etc. Often, proponents of the diet will claim these are signs that your body is “detoxifing”, but it should be noted that these are also the clinical symptoms of acute starvation.

    Other diets like Kimkins, the Grapefruit Diet and the Cabbage Soup Diet radically restrict calories (to under 800 per day in some cases) or cut out essential macro-nutrients entirely.

    These diets can not only result in nutritional deficiencies, but can also cause fatigue, mental confusion and sometimes serious side effects like cardiac arrest. Kimkins, for example, is a high protein diet that restricts both fat and carbohydrates, which can cause severe side effects as well as possible cardiac problems.

    Finally, it’s important to note that serial fad dieting can often be a sign of a developing eating disorder, especially in adolescents, teenagers and young adults.

    Fad Diets and Teenagers

    Teenagers often find fad and crash diets particularly alluring.

    A national survey of 11,631 high school students conducted by the national Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found more than 43 percent of the girls reported that they were on a diet–yet a quarter of these dieters didn’t think they were overweight.

    Teenagers — especially teenaged girls — are especially susceptible to the promises of fad diets, particularly those that claim to allow the dieter to eat whatever they want, including junk or fast food and still lose pounds. Fad diets and teenagers are a potential dangerous mix because this focus on quick-fix diets at such an early age can discourage teens from developing good nutritional habits, and set them up for a pattern of serial dieting into adulthood.

    Moving from Fad Diets to a Better Diet

    The good news is that because people either grow tired of the monotony of fad diets or find them too complex to follow, most people never stick to them long enough to cause serious, long-term damage to their health.

    However, this also means that they’ll ultimately fail at long-term, sustainable fat loss and will be even more susceptible to the next fad diet that comes along. This can create a perpetual cycle of dieting that can de-motivate people and keep them from reaching their fat loss and fitness goals.

    There is another way that has been proven time and time again to allow people to often dramatically transform their body and improve their overall health and well-being: consistently eating healthy and exercising.

    The most healthy, in-shape people I know don’t “diet” — they eat a wide-range of foods; avoid eating more calories than they need (although they still tend to eat a lot of food volume wise and often eat up to six small meals a day); stay away from junk food, soda and fast food; and exercise at least 3-4 times a week — usually a combination of weight training and cardio activity. Many of them also allow themselves a “cheat meal” once a week, where they get to eat something a little less healthy (fried chicken, anyone.)

    Taking this approach can actually enable a person to safely lose between 2-3 lbs of fat a week, and research has shown that individuals who lose body fat slowly are much more likely to keep it off permanently.

    Minor adjustments to your diet can also have dramatic cumulative results.

    Ditching soda, for example, for tea or flavored waters can often result in a loss of several pounds within just a few weeks. Substituting in complex carbs like oatmeal and brown rice for simple carbs like white rice and white bread, can also allow people to shed fat. In fact, finding foods that you can substitute for junk food is one of the most effective ways of cleaning up your diet and losing body fat for good. And you won’t starve yourself in the process or put your health at risk.

    List of Popular Fad Diets

    Here are a list of popular fad diets to look out for, as well as some of the alternative names of the diets.

    Remember, not all of these diets are necessarily dangerous or ineffective. I’ve included some diets like South Beach and The Zone Diet because they are popular and have a few marks of fad diets. Other diets in here use extreme or “crash diet” techniques to trigger very rapid — but usually short-lived — weight loss:

    • Apple Cider Vinegar Diet
    • Atkins Diet
    • Beverly Hills Diet
    • Blood Type Diet
    • Cabbage Soup Diet (Also known as the “Mayo Clinic Diet” or “Sacred Heart Diet” — even though the diet has been denounced by these organizations.)
    • Caveman or Paleolithic Diet
    • Cookie Diet
    • Fast Food Diet
    • FatLoss4Idiots
    • Fat Smash Diet
    • Fit For Life Diet
    • Grape Diet
    • Grapefruit Diet (Also known as “The Hollywood Diet”)
    • Herbalife Slim and Trim Diet
    • Ice Cream Diet
    • Kimkins Diet
    • Low Fat Diet
    • Maker’s Diet
    • Macrobiotic Diet
    • Master Cleanse Diet (Also known as “The Lemonade Diet”, “Maple Syrup Diet” and “Detox Diet”)
    • Metabolism Diet
    • Mono Food Diet
    • Negative Calorie Diet
    • Popcorn Diet
    • Prime Quest Diet
    • Raw Food Diet
    • Raw Vegetable Diet
    • Scarsdale Diet
    • Special K Diet
    • South Beach Diete
    • Zone Diet
    • 3 Day Diet (Also known as the “Alabama 3 Day Diet”)
    • 3 Hour Diet

    What’s the Best Tasting Protein Bar?

    We Reviewed and Compared Four of the Leading High-Protein Energy Bars to See Which Ones Are Tops in Taste

    Protein bars have gone mainstream. No longer found solely in the bottom of bodybuilders’ gym bags, protein bars are now turning up in airplane snack carts, in gas stations, vending machines, party-stores, and even people’s desk drawer at the office. Sales of protein and energy bars have exploded over the past ten years, from $200 million in sales in 1997 to over $1 billion in 2003.

    But not all protein bars are created equal when it comes to nutrition and flavor. Despite having lots of protein, many protein and energy bars also come with a hefty serving of sugar, along with a list of arcane ingredients that only a PhD in food science could pronounce and decipher.

    The Protein Bar Tasters Challenge

    So I decided to assemble a 13 person team of intrepid taste-testers to discover which of the protein bars were tops when it came to flavor.

    For this round of taste testing, we focused on energy bars that had a minimum of 20 grams of protein. Each taster was given a sample of four top protein bar brands, along with a rating sheet for each. The testers were asked to rate the bar on 1-5 scale (with one being “inedible” and five being “yummy”) in two categories: flavor and texture. They were then asked to provide an overall rating, along with any tasting comments.

    And then I asked them the ultimate question: “Would ever eat it again?”

    Scores are based on an average rating for each category.

    The Protein Bars Tested

    The brands I chose to review for this round were:

    • Met-RX Big 100 Bar (Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough) Meal Replacement Bar
    • Clif Builders Cocoa Dipped Double Decker Crisp Bar (Peanut Butter)
    • Think Thin Creamy Peanut Butter High Protein Bar
    • Detour Carmel Nut Protein Energy Bar from Designer Whey

    Who Were the Tasters?

    I chose the tasters at random from across the Marketing Team at the office. The sample included a good mix of people who regularly ate energy bars and those who ate them infrequently or never. The sample also was balanced for gender and age.

    So without further ado, let’s take a look at what our tasters found.

    MET-Rx Big 100 Bar (Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough) Meal Replacement Bar

    MET-Rx Big 100 Bar

    The MET-Rx Big 100 Bar was the second highest in protein of all of the energy bars we reviewed, with 28 grams of protein per serving. It was also the highest in calories, sugar and carbohydrates and the lowest in fiber. Most of the sugars come from high-fructose corn syrup.

    Our tasters were decidedly mixed on the flavor of this bar. Most people didn’t think it tasted like cookie dough, but rather like a soft graham cracker. People also seemed to be put off by its texture, commenting that it was “gooey,” “very sticky” and somewhat grainy. One person compared it to cardboard and another observed that it had a strange “metallic” taste.

    Taster Ratings:

    Flavor:

    Texture:

    Overall Rating:

    Would You Eat It Again?

    No:

    Yes:

    N/A:

    9

    3

    1

    Comments:

    Bethany:Tastes more like a graham cracker. Too chewy. Typical nutrition bar”

    Kelly: “Tastes like a graham cracker, NOT cookie dough. Yuck.”

    Ryan: “Not so good …”

    Kriste: “Cardboard tasting, I’d eat as a last resort.”

    Art: “It does taste like cookie dough.”

    Courtney: “Does NOT taste like cookie dough … grainy texture … and STICKY!”

    MET-Rx Big 100 Protein Bar Nutritional Information

    Serving Size:

    Calories:

    Calories From Fat:

    Total Fat:

    Saturated Fat:

    Cholesterol:

    Sodium:

    Potassium:

    Total Carbohydrate:

    Dietary Fiber:

    Sugars:

    Protein:

    1 Protein Bar

    360

    45

    5 g

    1.5 g

    5mg

    200mg

    500mg

    51 g

    2 g

    25 g

    27 g


    Ingredients:

    Corn syrup, metamyosyn protein blend (milk protein concentrate, calcium sodium caseinate, whey protein isolate, whey protein concentrate, dried egg white, partially hydrolyzed soybean oil, l-glutamine), chocolate chips {chocolate drops (sugar, chocolate liquor, cocoa butter, dextrose, soy lechithin, salt, artificial flavor), confectioner’s glaze (shellac, beeswax), gum arabic, corn syrup}, vitamin and minerals (potassium chloride, magnesium oxide, tricalcium phosphate, beta-carotene, ascorbic acid, d-alpha-tocopheryl acetate, niacinamide, ferrous fumarate, dicalcium phosphate, retinyl palmitate, zinc oxide, calcium d-pantothenate, pyridoxine hydrochloride, riboflavin, manganese sulfate, thiamin mononitrate, copper gluconate, folic acid, biotin, sodium molybdate, potassium iodide, phytonadione, sodium selenite, cyanocobalamin), natural and artificial flavors, high fructose corn syrup, vanilla creme(fructose, maltodextrin, water, modified corn starch, salt, carrageenan, natural flavors), glycerin, brown sugar.

    Clif Builder’s Cocoa Dipped Double Decker Crisp Bar (Peanut Butter)

    Clif Builder’s Cocoa Dipped Double Decker Crisp Bar

    The Clif Builder’s high-protein bar was nutritionally the best protein bar in the group. Unlike many of the other bars, it contains no corn syrup or high fructose corn syrup and had a fair amount of fiber. Carbs and sugar were still a bit high, but its ingredient list wasn’t filled with hard to understand ingredients.

    The Clif Builder’s bar also did quite well in terms of taste with our reviewers.

    Most people described it as crunchy and crisp with good flavor, and one person actually compared it to a Watchamacallit candy bar. A few people thought it was a little dry and ”sandy” and didn’t have enough peanut butter in it. Overall, however, this bar was a winner with eight of our reviewers who indicated that they would eat the Clif Builder’s protein bar again.

    Taster Ratings:

    Flavor:

    Texture:

    Overall Rating:

    Would You Eat It Again?

    No:

    Yes:

    N/A:

    Maybe:

    2

    8

    2

    1

    Comments:

    Bethany:Tastes more like a real candy bar! I would eat as a dessert. Yum!”

    Kelly:Tastes like a Snickers.”

    Ryan: “Not enough peanut butter.”

    Nicole: “It had a nice combination of crunchy and chewy texture. Tasted like a candy bar.”

    Art: “Tasted ‘sandy’ and not very peanut buttery.”

    Courtney: “Like the soft/crunchy combination of taste and texture. Tastes more like a ‘sweet treat’ than a protein bar.”

    Lisa:Like the crunchy texture.”

    Chris: “Multitude of textures. It’s like a health nut’s Whatchamacallit candy bar”

    Josh: “Holds very true to a real candy bar …”

    Clif Builder’s High Protein Energy Bar Nutritional Information

    Serving Size:

    Calories:

    Calories From Fat:

    Total Fat:

    Saturated Fat:

    Cholesterol:

    Sodium:

    Potassium:

    Total Carbohydrate:

    Dietary Fiber:

    Sugars:

    Protein:

    (bar) 1

    270

    70

    8 g

    5 g

    0mg

    260mg

    500mg

    30 g

    4 g

    19 g

    20 g


    Ingredients:

    Soy Protein Isolate, Chicory Syrup, Organic Brown Rice Syrup, Organic Evaporated Cane Juice, Palm Kernel Oil, Dry Roasted Peanuts, Organic Rolled Oats, Organic Soy Protein Concentrate, Cocoa, Vegetable Glycerin, Natural Flavors, Peanut Flour, Rice Starch, Inulin (Chicory Extract), Cocoa Butter, Salt, Organic Milled Flaxseed, Organic Oat Fiber, Soy Lecithin, Organic Sunflower Oil.

    thinkTHIN Creamy Peanut Butter High Protein Bar

    thinkTHIN Creamy Peanut Butter High Protein Bar

    The thinkTHIN high protein bar, from Think Products, is billed on the company’s website as one of the “top rated bars in the natural industry.” I included this bar in the taste test because is was gluten and sugar free and because, frankly, I thought it had a cool label and package. Created by a Lizanne Falsetto, a former fashion model, I kind of had high hopes for this protein bar.

    Unfortunately, my tasters set me straight.

    This was clearly the least favorite protein bar of the bunch with our tasters. In the flavor category, it barely broke a “1″ — although it did slightly better in terms of texture.

    Several people commented that this energy bar had a strange ”aftertaste” and none of our reviewers thought it actually tasted like peanut butter. One person quipped that you’ll be “thin after eating this protein bar because you’ll never want to eat again.”

    Taster Ratings:

    Flavor:

    Texture:

    Overall Rating:

    Would You Eat It Again?

    No:

    Yes:

    13

    0

    Comments:

    Bethany: “Horrible aftertaste! Blaah!”

    Kelly: “Bad aftertaste.

    Nicole: “Tastes kind of like BEEF! But has the texture of extra thick peanut butter. Very weird.”

    Ryan: “You’ll be thin because you won’t want to eat again.”

    Art: “No flavor.”

    Courtney: “AWFUL! Tastes like dog food and dust!”

    Lisa: “Tastes like ass.”

    Chris: “Um …. I’m speechless.”

    Josh: “Horrible. Grade ‘F’”

    Jen: “Creamy texture was okay, but taste was not good.”

    Vickie: “Yucky. There is NO peanut butter taste!”

    Kriste: “Tastes like nothing. I could not force myself to eat this.”

    thinkTHIN Protein Bar Nutritional Information

    Serving Size:

    Calories:

    Calories From Fat:

    Total Fat:

    Saturated Fat:

    Cholesterol:

    Sodium:

    Potassium:

    Total Carbohydrate:

    Dietary Fiber:

    Sugars:

    Sugar Alcohol:

    Other Carbohydrates:

    Protein:

    1 bar (60g)

    240

    80

    8 g

    3.5 g

    5mg

    260mg

    80mg

    25 g

    1 g

    0 g

    13 g

    9 g

    20 g


    Ingredients:

    Protein Blend (Calcium Caseinate, Soy Protein Isolate, Whey Protein Isolate), Coating (Maltitol, Cocoa Butter, Chocolate Liquor, Sodium Caseinate, Dairy Oil, Soya Lecithin, Natural Flavors, Salt), Glycerin, Maltitol Syrup, Ground Peanuts, Cocoa Butter, Water, Peanut Flour, Natural Flavors, Soya Lecithin, Tricalcium Phosphate, Salt., Vitamins And Minerals: Ascorbic Acid, D-Alpha Tocopherol, Niacinamide, Zinc Oxide, Vitamin A Palmitate, Electrolytic Iron, Calcium Pantothenate, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride, Copper Gluconate, Riboflavin, Thiamin Mononitrate, Folic Acid, Biotin, Potassium Iodide, Vitamin B12.

    Detour Carmel Nut Protein Energy Bar from Designer Whey

    Detour Carmel Nut Protein Energy Bar from Designer Whey

    The Detour Carmel Nut protein bar was the clear winner in our taste test, nudging out Clif Builder’s for the title “Best Tasting Protein Bar.”

    Extremely high in protein (30 grams) this bar was a hit with nearly every person.

    Relatively low in carbohydrates and sugar, the bar’s only nutritional sins are its high sodium content (490 mg) and fat content, which was higher than any of the other bars (11 grams.) Like the MET-Rx bar, the Detour Carmel Nut protein bar was also a bit higher in calories than the other products reviewed. Also, it’s sweetened with sucrolose, so if you are trying to avoid artificial sweeteners, you might want to pass on this particular energy bar.

    Our tasters loved this bar, describing it as having great flavor, and tasting like a real candy bar, but less sugary. Several people noted that the bar had real peanuts in it, which gave it a great chunky, but chewy texture. One person commented that while it initially tasted great, it did have a slightly “bitter” aftertaste (this could be the artificial sweetener.)

    Taster Ratings:

    Flavor:

    Texture:

    Overall Rating:

    Would You Eat It Again?

    No:

    Yes:

    N/A:

    1

    11

    1

    Comments:

    Bethany: “Tasty!”

    Kelly: “Strong peanut flavor — light and fluffy.”

    Nicole: “Had a great flavor like real nuts and caramel. The texture was a little chewy (I don’t like chewy.)”

    Ryan: “Like a candybar.”

    Art: “Good!”

    Courtney: “Tastes great! My favorite by far!”

    Lisa: “This is a winner! Tastes like a candybar.”

    Chris: “Very good. Good nutty flavor.”

    Josh: “Very easy to chew and swallow. No funky aftertaste.”

    Jen: “Tastes like a candybar!”

    Vickie: “Good flavor at first, and then turned bitter.”

    Kriste: “Best of all of them, sort of like a Snickers bar, but less sugary.”

    Detour Deluxe Whey Protein Energy Bar Nutritional Information

    Serving Size:

    Calories:

    Calories From Fat:

    Total Fat:

    Saturated Fat:

    Cholesterol:

    Sodium:

    Potassium:

    Total Carbohydrate:

    Dietary Fiber:

    Sugars:

    Protein:

    1 bar (80g)

    310

    90

    10 g

    4 g

    40mg

    480mg

    150mg

    25 g

    3 g

    12 g

    30 g


    Ingredients:

    Designer Whey Protein Blend (whey protein concentrate, hydrolyzed whey protein, pduf whey protein isolate), water, Glycerlean™ (99.7% USP glycerine, L-leucine, L-taurine, CLA), chocolate coating (sugar, partially hydrogenated palm kernel oil, nonfat dry milk solids, cocoa processed with alkali, whole milk solids, soy lecithin, natural flavor, salt, artificial flavor), peanuts, caramel, soy protein isolate, gelatin, calcium caseinate, inulin, peanut flavor, rice flour, salt, sucralose (Splenda® brand), potassium sorbate.

    Can Whey Protein Help You Lose Weight?

    ​There are definitely a lot of “opinions” floating around out there around whey protein for weight loss. There’s some truth to them, but they are also tied up in a lot of myths, as well. So the trick is to understand exactly what whey protein is (and isn’t) so you can come to your own conclusions based on the facts.

    What Is Whey Protein?​

    ​​Whey is just a form of protein that is naturally-present in diary products like skim milk, cottage cheese, yogurt, etc. If you drink a glass of milk, you are already consuming some whey proteins.

    The whey protein that you are talking about is in a powdered form. Basically, the manufacturer takes liquid whey and “dries it”, making whey protein powder – a form of whey that is portable and easy to reconstitute.

    So What Does Whey Protein Do For A Person?

    ​The main benefit to whey protein is that it is easily and quickly digested by the body.

    The body is also able to quickly utilize most of the amino acids in whey protein to help with tissue repair and recovery after exercise. The protein in whey has a high biological value (BV), meaning it’s easily absorbed by the body.

    Unlike other proteins, like casein (another form of protein in milk), the speed at which whey protein is digested makes it an ideal source of protein immediately following workouts when your body needs amino acids quickly to aid with recovery.

    Whey protein, especially whey protein isolate (an even more concentrated form of whey protein vs. whey protein concentrate), is also very low in fat and carbohydrates.

    ​This is because the refinement process used to create whey protein powder removes nearly all of the fat and sugars in the liquid, leaving a final product that is almost 100% protein by volume.

    So this makes whey protein popular among dieters and people who are trying to limit carbohydrates or fat in their diet.

    Whey protein has other properties that may have health benefits, including the presence of certain biologically active compounds that may improve immunity and even stave off muscle wasting.

    However, the main reason people consume whey protein is to encourage lean muscle growth and sometimes as a meal replacement.

    Using Whey Protein For Weight Loss

    Weight Loss

    ​Okay, now that you know what whey protein is, let’s tackle your question about whey protein and weight loss.

    First, it’s important to understand that there is nothing particularly magical about whey protein that will directlycause you to melt off that last pound or two of belly fat and get abs like Jessica Biel.

    Whey protein is not an anabolic steroid — it’s a food.

    In fact, the goal of drinking whey protein is usually to add weight (in the form of additional muscle), not to lose it.

    That said, because your real goal here isn’t to lose scale weight, but to lose body fat and change your body fat percentage to favor lean tissue, including some additional whey protein in your diet could help you become leaner overall … and yes, that would probably include losing some belly fat.

    The important thing to understand though, is that the whey protein probably wouldn’t directly be responsible for the drop in body or belly fat. It would have to be combined with a solid resistance or weight training routine and maybe a mixture of solid state cardio and high intensity interval training (HIIT.)

    By doing this, you’d encourage the addition of lean muscle and burn some body fat which would likely pull your overall body fat levels down. The whey protein could nutritionally support the building of lean muscle, but it’s not going to act as a “fat burner” directly.

    Now, there is some research conducted by Dr. Donald Layman at the University of Illinois that has linked leucine consumption (an amino acid which whey protein is rich in) with changes in body composition — including more lean tissue and lower body fat levels.

    So there may be some indirect benefits to choosing whey protein over other, less-leucine rich forms of protein in terms of fat loss, but this connection is still pretty tenuous.

    The Whey Protein Diet: What That About?

    Diet

    ​There are a few diet plans out there that rely heavily on whey protein or other forms of liquid protein to encourage weight loss. I’ve even seen a few whey protein diet blogs start popping up lately online.

    While these whey protein diets make you believe that it’s the whey protein that makes them tick, when you look under the hood, almost all of them produce weight loss not because of the whey protein, but because the dieter is consuming less calories than their body needs to maintain their current weight.

    In other words, these whey protein diets typically operate on the conventional calorie-in-calorie-out model of weight loss.

    There may be some metabolic advantages to consuming a higher protein diet or switching your mix of macro-nutrients (carbs, fats and proteins) to preference proteins, but this is still hotly debated within nutrition circles.

    Clearly if you are eating a diet filled with empty calories and junk, and shift some of those calories to consuming lean sources of protein like whey (or even chicken breast, for example), it’s not unusual to see some weight or fat loss.

    But that comes primarily from cleaning up your diet, and not because of the magic of whey.

    It’s also important to note that some whey protein diets are simply unsafe.

    Again, not because of the whey protein itself, but because diets that are very high in protein, but very low in fats and carbohydrates have been linked to cases of sudden cardiac arrest and death.

    In the 70s there was a very popular liquid protein diet that had you pretty much substituting protein drinks for all of your meals, but it also was linked to a number of deaths.

    The protein itself didn’t cause the deaths, but rather the extreme restriction of other macro nutrients that the body needs to function.

    These liquid protein diets basically caused the body to consume its own tissue for energy, weakening key muscles like the heart. It also caused serious electrolyte imbalances that caused health issues.

    Just to be clear, there should be no health risks if you are simply substituting in a whey protein shake each day for one of your five to six smaller meals.

    The problems arise with whey protein diets or liquid protein diets that have you consuming all — or the majority – of your food in the form of protein.

    Some Ways Whey Protein May Help You Get Leaner

    ​Now, I know that I just told you that whey protein alone won’t necessarily help with weight loss, but I also don’t want to leave the impression that whey protein can’t play a role in speeding weight loss or change in body composition, provided you use it as part of an overall clean eating approach to diet and a good exercise plan.

    Just to recap, there are a number of ways that including some whey protein in your diet can help with weight loss or fat loss:

    • plus
      As a meal replacement when you are pressed for time. It’s always better to eat something, than to eat nothing. Because whey protein powder is so convenient, you can keep it around at the office and make a quick shake when you are tempted to eat a less healthy snack.
    • plus
      ​As a way to help you eat 5-6 smaller meals across the day. Eating smaller, more frequent meals has been linked to improved body composition and less tendency to overeat later in the day. If you are finding it hard to fit in five to six small meals or snacks each day, adding in a whey protein shake can help with this.
    • plus
      As a way to encourage more lean muscle. Remember, getting a “toned body” requires increasing muscle (or at least maintaining it) while decreasing body fat levels. Including some additional whey protein in your diet (especially around your workouts) can help you achieve this.
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      ​As a post workout recovery drink. Because whey protein is quickly digested, one of the best times to drink a protein shake is right after you workout. This can help encourage recovery and ensure that you have enough amino acids available to allow your body to build muscle.
    • plus
      As a way to preserve the muscle you already have. There is some research that indicates that people who consume whey protein are better able to maintain lean tissue, even during periods of inactivity. Including some whey in your diet each day may be able to help you better hold on to your muscle, even if your life keeps you away from the gym for a week or so.

    Watch Out For Hidden Ingredients in Whey Protein Powder

    ​If you do decide to try whey protein powder, it’s important to read the ingredients on the product closely.

    Some whey protein powders have added ingredients that can be counter-productive to your goals.

    For example, whey protein “gainer” powders have hundreds of extra calories added to them in the form of sugars in order to increase their calorie content for people who are trying to gain weight.

    They can also have supplements like creatine added to them.

    Look for a 100% whey protein powder with no additional listed ingredients.

    The Skinny on Whey Protein and Weight Loss

    ​At the end of the day, whey protein may be able to help you drop some body fat and maybe add some additional muscle, but it’s not as if you can simply start drinking more whey protein and watch the belly fat magically disappear.

    In fact, it’s conceivable that you might not lose a single pound of scale weight (or very little) as a result of drinking whey protein powder.

    Can it help you reach your fitness and fat-loss goals? Possibly, but not on it’s own. Whey protein is just one tool of many available to you.

    Focus on eating a clean diet, exercising regularly (including lifting weights or resistance training), throw in some cardio and you’ll typically get good results, with or without whey protein.

    Take It Easy! Weight Lifting tips For Beginners

    ​Theres a whole myriad of reasons to begin lifting weights and theres probably just as many reasons why folks fear weight lifting for the first time.

    ​Its understandable. Every gym is full of seasoned weight-lifters intimidating gents with muscles protruding in every direction. The stereotype doesnt help either. Ostensibly, body builders are overly-macho, testosterone-fueled ego-maniacs.

    But the reality of the situation is that your local gym is filled with people who would be glad to help you out. Health and fitness are important to them and they usually love passing along a little knowledge. You just have to ask.

    Fear of the unknown aside, there are more important considerations when hitting the weights for the first time.

    Start Slow

    Its so easy to get caught up in a new commitment to fitness that first-timers too often approach the weight room with too much zeal. Drive and determination are certainly important, but starting slow is one of the most important things you can do.

    Weight Lifting

    If youre working out with weights for the first time, you simply dont need to spend a great amount of time in the gym to feel the effects of muscle-overload the primary goal of weight lifting.

    Your muscles aren't likely used to the demand of extreme resistance. Even if you work in a tough manual labor environment, weights will stimulate your muscles in new and different ways than you're used to.

    The primary mistake of individuals hitting the gym for the first time is going too hard too soon. There's good pain and bad pain and stressing your muscles too fast usually leads to the latter.

    Rhabdomyolysis is the destruction of muscle cells. Its common in beginning weight lifting and CrossFit. Experienced weight-lifters purposely try to break muscle down but its a difficult thing for these individuals to destroy muscle cells because they're bodies have adapted to the sport of weight lifting, so they're able to push much harder.

    Your muscles will adapt over the weeks and months as well but they aren't conditioned to withstand an over-abundance of stress when starting out. Don't get caught up in the game of trying to keep up with other guys in the gym. Leave the ego at the door.

    How hard should you go? Not very.

    Weight Lifting hard

    There's really no reason to do more than a couple sets per muscle group when hitting the iron for the first time and if you've been living life as a couch potato, you might even consider one set for each group.

    The goal should be to create some mild soreness in the next couple days not so much pain that you can barely lift an arm to turn the steering wheel on your car.

    Primary muscle groups to workout include your chest, back, shoulders and legs. Skip the bicep curls, triceps and calf exercises when starting out and ease into them after a few weeks. You'll notice that these muscles are plenty sore after working your major muscle groups they get plenty of blood flow without the need to isolate them.

    Beware of the Training Partner

    Guys who workout a lot love to train other guys. Find a good partner and youve found gold. Some guys are great at understanding how to train another. Unfortunately, there's also a fair share of guys who believe that everyone should be taught to go hard right from the start.

    The bad training partner is an experienced lifter who has forgotten what it was like in those first few weeks of lifting way back when. Oh sure, hell warn you that youre going to be hurting tomorrow as he laughs and pushes you all the harder but therein lies the problem.

    You dont need to be pushed in that first week or two in the gym. You dont need to be trained to lift weights in the same way as an experienced lifter until you become an experienced lifter.

    Form is another factor. It requires time to become efficient at weight-lifting movements.

    Developing proper form can take a weeks and even months. If you're not lifting the weight correctly, you're getting minimal benefit.

    Make sure and talk to your training partner well ahead of time, ensuring him that you want to ease into lifting as slowly as possible. There's no benefit in completely destroying your muscles the first few times out.

    Additionally, dont encourage that big muscle-head in the gym to push you not just yet anyway.

    Lifting weights is an exceptional form of fitness. Everyone should partake and reap the benefits. Its the absolute best way to add muscle to your body and its the best way to retain muscle if youre simply trying to lose body fat.

    But be smart. Start slow and ease into your training.

    Do You Really Need Cardio To Burn Body Fat?

    ​Millions of people hit the gym every day and do cardio in hopes of losing belly fat. It might surprise the vast majority to know that cardio is not required for fat loss. Surprisingly, its completely unnecessary and can even hurt the overall shape of your body.

    ​How so?

    After fat accumulates on the body, theres only one way to make it go away. You have to create an energy deficit.

    You must be expending more energy than you are taking in (eating).

    Cardio machines are fine for burning more calories and allowing a person to eat more but sadly, most people dont realize that the deficit is what yields the results.

    An average one-hour cardio workout will burn between 500 1000 calories, depending on the intensity. If calories are controlled post-exercise, this can be a valuable fat loss tool. Unfortunately, many people feel that a hard workout earns them the right to eat more and this typically nullifies all the effects of burning fat.

    If your 45 minute cardio session has you heading to Subway for a foot-long immediately after, thats typically 800-1000 calories and youre now at a surplus. A McDonalds quarter-pounder? Over 600 calories.

    Its impossible to burn fat when youre eating more calories that your body is burning. Theres nothing magical about cardio workouts that allows a person to eat more and somehow burn fat. If your body requires 2000 calories a day and you eat 2100, you will not burn fat. Its the Law of Thermodynamics and it applies to everyone.

    What cardio does allow for is eating more and providing more oxygen and nutrients to your system, which can improve overall fitness. If you're doing it purely for fat loss though, there's no advantage over simply eating less than your body requires and spending your day in front of the television.

    Knowing how many calories your body requires on a daily basis is the true key to fat loss. This is known as your TDEE or Total Daily Energy Expenditure. You need to calculate your TDEE when starting out on your fat loss journey and adjust with the feedback you see on a weekly basis. If you're losing weight, keep going. If the weight isn't coming off, drop daily calories just slightly again for the next week and gauge it again.

    Do Certain Foods Matter?

    A caloric deficit is the most important part of losing weight. The kind of weight you lose is dependent on your food choices.

    You want to keep protein relatively high when you're in a caloric deficit. Eat 1 gram p/ 1 pound of body weight. Since a gram of protein is 4 calories, you can multiply your total grams times four to know how many calories you're consuming.

    Fats are essential and eating fat doesn't make you fat. Eating at a surplus day after day makes you fat. By giving your body plenty of healthy fats, you actually allow your body to become better at burning fat for fuel.

    Get about 40 grams of fat for every 100 pounds of body weight. Fat has nine calories per gram so multiply by nine to know how many calories you're getting.

    Carbohydrates are most important when exercising while at a caloric deficit. If you're eating less and lifting weights, a moderate supply of carbs is essential.

    muscle wasting

    However, the more body fat you have, the less you want to utilize a high-carb diet as more fat means there's a degree of insulin resistance and this needs to be corrected through a low-carb diet for a few months before slowly raising carbs high again. Carbs contain four calories per gram.

    Eat plenty of vegetables and get fruits too, but no more than one or two fruits a day. There's simply no vitamin or supplement on the market that comes close to providing the nutrients that fruits and vegetables provide.

    Can Too Much Cardio Hurt Results?

    Weight-lifting can be performed at three to six times a week. The more athletic and in-shape you are, the better your body will respond and repair itself, with heavy weight workouts.

    Cardio can be done too much. If you hit the cardio machine every day and do a light 45-minute jog, your body will get used to that daily caloric expenditure and it becomes dependent on those calories. If you decide to quit doing this after six months, you'll see a weight gain.

    The other problem with long cardio sessions is that they are muscle-wasting. Glycogen is what fills your muscles and provides energy for long cardio workouts. After glycogen is depleted, you can burn fat rather easily but since the muscles have no glycogen, you'll also burn some muscle. Your physique simply wont look as impressive.

    For the absolute best results in the gym, lift heavy weights, do occasional cardio and most importantly, eat at a deficit.

    Taking Protein Before Bed? When & What Kind of Protein?

    The issue here is less about the timing of when to take protein before bed, as it is what kind of protein to take before you go to sleep.

    ​You should try to consume your last serving of protein as close to your bedtime as is comfortable for you. Whether that’s a protein shake before bed, or a whole food souce of protein before sleep is up to you.

    Some people experience no problems eating and then immediately going to sleep, while other people find sleeping on a “full stomach” uncomfortable. If you find that taking a protein-heavy snack right before bed interferes with falling asleep, then give yourself at least 30-40 minutes between the snack and bedtime.

    The idea here is to simply get some slow-digesting amino acids into you before you go to bed, since you’ll essentially be in a fasted-state overnight. This can help blunt catabolism (muscle breakdown) during the nighttime hours. This is even more important if you are exercising in the evening.

    Your protein and energy requirements during sleep will be less than during the day, so even if you eat your snack 60 minutes before bed (consuming between 20-30 grams of slower digesting protein) you should have plenty of protein to get you through the night.

    So I wouldn’t sweat the timing of when to take protein before bed too much.

    What’s the Best Source of Protein To Take Before Bed?

    There are really four optimal times during the day to take in extra protein:

    • plus
      ​In the morning when you first wake up
    • plus
      ​60-90 minutes before your workout
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      ​Immediately after your workout
    • plus
      Before bed

    ​In the first three instances, whey protein is generally your best bet because it is rapidly digested by your body and makes amino acids quickly available at the time you most need them — in the morning when you are essentially waking up from a 7 hour fast, before you workout, and right after you exercise.

    But the protein before bed is different.

    before bed

    Since you’ll won’t be eating for 6-8 hours (depending on your sleep patterns, of course) you’ll want to actually slow down the absorption of protein while you sleep, ensuring you have enough to get your through the extended “fast.”

    You can do this a couple of ways.

    • plus
      You can switch the type of protein you are eating. While whey is digested fairly quickly (within 90 minutes of consumption, depending on the foods you eat with it) other sources of protein take longer for the body to break down and make available. These include things like protein from meat, fish and the king of long-digesting proteins: casein.
    • plus
      Eat other foods along with your protein that slow digestion.Whether you choose casein, whey protein or chicken breast as a pre-bedtime snack, you can slow the digestion of any protein by consuming other foods with it, like dietary fat and/or fiber. Eating some healthy fats that are high in MUFAs, such as nuts or nut butters, along with your protein before bed can extend the digestion period and cause the protein to be absorbed more slowly.

    ​Casein versus Whey or Meats Before Bed

    Casein protein is the what you’ll hear bodybuilders typically recommend as a good protein to take before bed.

    Casein is one of two primary proteins in milk (whey is the other.) While whey is admired because it is rapidly digested in the body — making it ideal for a post-workout recovery drink — casein is the exact opposite.

    When casein protein hits the stomach it curdles — slowing down the bio-availability of the amino acids. Eventually, your body will digest the majority of the proteins in casein, but it takes time — between 6-8 hours.

    While this wouldn’t be optimal immediately following a workout, it’s ideal before bed. Think of casein as an overnight “protein drip” when you are in bed.

    Casein Protein Powder or Whole Food Sources Before Bed?

    Casein protein can be bought in a powdered form like whey protein or soy protein isolate, but you can also just as easily get it by eating whole food sources of casein protein before you go to bed — things like skim milk, yogurt, quark, cottage cheese or kefir.

    In fact, both milk and cottage cheese are excellent sources of whey and casein protein. For example, a one cup serving of low-fat cottage cheese has 24 grams of protein — the majority of which is the slow-digesting casein variety. This is about equal to a single scoop of casein protein powder.

    My point here isn’t to discourage you from using casein powder or drinking a protein shake before sleep, but rather to let you know that there are other “whole” clean eating foods that you can eat before bedtime that may be just as effective — and probably less expensive, tastier and more enjoyable than a scoop of casein.

    What If I’m Lactose Intolerant?

    If you have a dairy allergy, casein may not work for you.

    In those cases, you’ll probably have to use other sources of slower-digesting proteins from things like meat, poultry or fish before bed. You could also experiment around with soy protein isolate or egg protein, and slow the digestion by consuming some healthy fats along with it. Eating fibrous vegetables alongside the protein and healthy fats can also help slow digestion.

    Under these circumstances, a good pre-bedtime protein snack might be bowl of tuna salad with some light mayo and a handful of almonds or nuts. In general, even when consuming sources of casein protein like cottage cheese before bed, eating some nuts or natural peanut butter along with it is a good practice.

    How to accurately measure body fat at home

    Want to get a better picture of your overall health and know how much weight you need to lose to achieve your perfect body?

    ​Its time to measure your body fat.

    Measuring the amount of fat you have can be a disillusioning experience, to some extent. Dont get down if the number is up. Its all part of the necessary evil that is required to lose fat and look your absolute best.

    Youre a scientist, in search of a cure and the best way to find a cure is to obsessively record and pour over analytical data. Knowing the exact amount of body fat you have will go a long way in helping you to achieve a lean, fit body, decorated with impressive cuts and striations.

    Should You Measure Body Fat?

    Before embarking down the road of body fat analysis, you should decide if youre fit enough to care. Dont get us wrong everyone should care about how much fat they carry, but measuring body fat is probably best reserved for those who are who are closing in on being lean or trying to get extremely lean.

    Its the difference in needing to lose several pounds vs. a few pounds.

    With a substantial amount of fat, you're going to be able to lose fat at a much greater rate than lean individuals. The scale is still the best tool for fat loss when individuals are obese. Its also a more difficult task to measure body fat when an individual is in the obese range.

    Once an individual gets under 20% body fat, skin folds become much easier to track and getting lean is near. Its time to start measuring. Forget the metabolic advantage of losing fat. This is straight-forward scientific observation.

    The Best Way to Measure Body Fat

    Theres two superb ways to measure your body fat and neither will cost more than a few dollars up-front investment.

    #1 Buy a cheap pair of fat calipers.

    Accu-Measure Body Fat Caliper

    You can get them at Amazon for less ​$$.

    Don't let the 4/5 stars dissuade you. These work great you just have to keep using them to learn to use them well.

    If you've never used fat calipers before, you'll likely be discouraged the first few days and maybe even the first few weeks. After a solid month of measuring body fat every day, you'll learn to apply the same amount of pressure and you'll learn to measure the exact same place every time.

    Your readings will be perfect from that point forward. Seeing concrete results when dropping from 12-11% body fat is a pretty exciting time in life.

    #2 Take pictures every day.

    There's no better way to judge the loss of body fat than taking daily photographs. Upload them to a private photo account (Flickr allows a ridiculous amount of free photos) and go check out the photos when you feel like you've been stuck for a while. You might just be surprised.

    Photos provide a journal of evidence that no numbers will ever be able to provide. Even when you feel that you haven't made progress, going back to view photos from two months prior will show you achievements you never knew you made.

    Compare your results to the following image and you'll have a very good idea of your exact body fat percentage.

    There are certainly other methods of measuring body fat, such as Bio electric Impedance Analysis, Hydro static weighing, and DEXA Scan to name a few. But there's rarely a need to deviate from calipers and photographs if you're doing them faithfully.

    Learning to measure your body fat accurately at home will certainly assist you in the quest for getting as lean as you want to be.

    How Daily Exercise Will Help You To Sleep Better

    Why can some people workout to the point of complete exhaustion but still have trouble drifting off at night?

    ​The study examined 11 women with insomnia. After being put on a controlled exercise program, sleep patterns were tested to determine the efficacy of a workout program in assisting with better sleep habits.

    The 16 week program ultimately determined that exercise is more greatly affected by sleep than sleep is affected by exercise, as the women did not experience significantly better sleep patterns. When the women did get a good nights sleep, the next days workout was improved.

    This might seem discouraging but lets evaluate a prrior study on sleep quality, conducted in 2010. This study also examined the effects of exercise on sleep and it found a positive correlation as well as a decline in depression, daytime sleepiness and an improvement in overall vitality.

    Participants in this study were composed primarily of 60-year old, sedentary women and also ran for 16 weeks. They performed basic cardio exercise on a treadmill or stationary bike for 30-minute intervals.

    So what was the difference?

    A deeper look into the data shows that the sleep patterns were nearly identical. Participants in the second group also had a difficult time sleeping after exercise and it was only near the very end of the study that sleep improved. The data actually shows that prolonged exercise reduces the bodys reaction of stress. As exercise becomes less of a stressor, the hormones cooperate to allow for better sleep.

    Perfect! This means that ongoing exercise programs provide the healthy benefits that individuals seek out and will ultimately translate into a more restful, deeper sleep.

    More Effective Sleep Habits

    Daily Exercise

    If you're one who struggles with sleeping well after beginning a new exercise program, consider doing your workouts in the morning. Exercise is a large stressor when its introduced after living a sedentary lifestyle. The body needs time to adapt.

    Calm your mind with meditative techniques. One commonality between those who suffer with insomnia is the inability to relax thought and let go of everything when laying down to rest. Meditation quiets the mind and this translates into a relaxed body.

    Circadian rhythms also play a large role in when you sleep and wake. Try getting to bed and waking at the same time every day. As your body is trained to complete these tasks at specific times, it will become more responsive to these times and sleep will become a more automatic process.

    Avoid caffeine in the evening. Even if you aren't affected by caffeine during the waking hours, it can play a major role in keeping your body from attaining the relaxed state required for sleep.

    Sleep is one of the most important fundamentals of a healthy mind and body. It affects all of the decisions we make in our everyday lives and its vital for healthy mitochondria.

    Exercise, eat right and sleep deep. Do it every day. Youll feel better for it when its a routine part of your everyday life.