Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Bulletin #3- -Nutrition Basics-

-Strategies to improve body composition-

Table of Contents
Hey, Balance This!
By Lonnie Lowery

Dietary Displacement
By John Berardi

The 7 Habits of Highly Effective Nutritional Programs
By John Berardi

Lean Eatin’
By John Berardi

Massive Eating
By John Berardi

Massive Eating Reloaded
By John Berardi

A New View of Energy Balance
By John Berardi

Foods that make you look good nekid’
By The Editors of T-Nation.com

Bad Protein
A Testosterone consumer report

Evils of soy
By Cy Willson

The Missing Ingredient
By Chris Shugart

It’s not about the food
By John Berardi

Hardbody Manifesto
By John Berardi

Hey, Balance This!
By Lonnie Lowery

Okay, today was the last straw. As I was finishing-up chest at the gym, I overheard an ad nauseum conversation that needed serious debunking. A seriously overweight (over-fat) dude was standing at the front desk getting "advice" from the gym owner's girlfriend. It went something like this:

"Just eat a balanced diet like I do. You'll lose weight. It's just a matter of getting that balanced diet."

Huh? Her redundant focus on the "balanced" part is what disturbs me. Rather than struggle with this any longer, I put it to YOU: What the heck is a balanced diet?! Seriously. If we take the classical definition of "balanced," it means "being of equal weight" or "all sides being equal." Is this what she meant? A 33.3% protein, 33.3% carbohydrate, 33.3% fat diet? Or did she mean the usual sports nutrition recommendation of 10, 70 and 20%? Isn't that balanced for athletes? Or perhaps she was referring to her own diet that's equal parts celery, iceberg lettuce and, (after her daily breakdown) corn chips?

I'll take a wild stab at this and guess that little Miss Advice knows about as much about nutrition as I do about color-coordinating nail polish with spandex tights.

And this ignorance isn't just limited to gym rats. I've heard this obtuse "balanced diet" nonsense from a wide spectrum of people ranging from family members to physicians to Ph.D.s. It's invaded and confused our most fundamental thinking about food.

The truth is, nutritional balance appears to be different for each of us — at least to some extent. Energy and carbohydrate needs, for example, vary in parallel with activity level. Power athletes just don't need them in the same amount (or at least for the same purpose) as endurance athletes. Similar statements can hold true for protein and fat. So what's a conscientious T-man to do? Well, we do have some choices. Let's review a few different approaches to what constitutes a balanced diet…

The USDA Food Guide Pyramid

Although many of you may disagree, the Food Guide Pyramid isn't a bad place to start. It certainly isn't balanced, though. The whole concept stems from the idea that we need more carbohydrates (6-11 servings of breads and cereals) than anything else; hence the large base of the pyramid.

After that, we need moderate amounts of fruits and veggies (2-4 and 3-5 servings, respectively), some meat and milk (2-3 of each), and just a bit of sweets and oils, as indicated by their lofty but lonely position at the tiny summit.

I have to guess that the Food Guide was conceived in a fit of self-impressed creativity back in 1992. "Hey, let's take these descending amounts of foods and arrange them in a nifty triangular shape!" Woo hoo! (Sorry for the sarcasm, but imagine how many times I've had to, as a nutrition professor, hear about the Pyramid — almost as many times as I've heard the term "balanced diet"!) If the USDA had been truly focused upon balance, they'd have created a Food Guide Pentagon or Food Guide Hexagon with all sides being equal.

Of course, the Canadians have expressed their distinctiveness, which takes the form of a "Food Guide Rainbow." Other countries have their own versions, too. So much for self-congratulatory American nutritional geometry.

Actually, the Canadians' version is a bit better. Their emphasis on whole grains as the base of their… I mean as the outer band of their Food Guide, is a big deal. Although the U.S. version has enjoyed a recent emphasis on this, historically, breads and cereals weren't adequately differentiated. To the casual observer, the substantial 6-11 servings of breads meant a trip to Pastry Palace and a big ol' refined pasta dinner with garlic bread. Okay, I'm exaggerating a tad but just look around. People like white bread and white pasta. Biscuits, pancakes, "wheat toast" — they're all refined wheat flour. (Here's a tip: If you want actual whole-grain wheat bread, look at the ingredient list; otherwise you're buying refined, processed, and probably dyed "wheat bread." Hey, those manufacturers aren't really lying, it is, after all, made of wheat).

But I digress. The Food Guide Pyramid may not be balanced but isn't evil either. It reminds us that carbs are a big portion of our needs because they provide energy and crucial glycogen. Bodybuilders need to be reminded of this sometimes. One shouldn't ditch the carbs completely.

On the opposite side of the spectrum, rainbow, or pyramid, average Americans meet their breads and cereals recommendation with great vigor — even as they eschew the fruits and veggies part.(1,2) This leads not only to imbalance, but to an imbalance favoring processed, zero-fiber, lipogenic "stuff." I guess we could say that selective implementation of the Pyramid makes the average Joe as bottom heavy as the nutrition guide he grew up with.

Okay, so much for the official federal approach to nutrition. I'll leave this topic with a final thought: the Food Guide Pyramid doesn't work — at least not in practice. It's not so much the Pyramid itself, but its incorporation into daily lifestyles. Despite hearing about it from the time we're kids, only a staggering one percent of us meet all its recommendations on a daily basis (2).

The 40-30-30 Approach

Hmm, nearly equal parts protein, carbs, and fat. Now here's balance. I have to say, this approach may be best for a number of physique-conscious athletes. Particularly the dieting ones. Its larger protein content certainly doesn't sit well with many nutrition professionals, however. I won't address "protein paranoia" here; it's yet another ad nauseum issue. Suffice it to say that bodybuilders need more and 40-30-30 supplies it.

But what about those low-moderate carbs? That could be a problem, even if current bodybuilding dogma agrees with lower-carb intakes. The 40-30-30 approach results in a relative decrement of carbohydrates that may be too low to replenish glycogen stores in higher-volume weight lifters. For example, after nine sets of bodybuilding exercise (leg extensions at 70% one-rep max), glycogen falls a whopping 41-44 mmol/kg wet weight (3) — and with it, so would anabolism.

If you start to get flat and stay that way for a few weeks (low energy-level, no pumps), you'll have to correct it. Minimally, consume 50 grams immediately post-exercise during each day of your regime (however you split-up your individual body part training). Another 50 grams an hour later is also a good idea. After you cycle through training your whole body once (say, one week of workouts), you'll have partially replenished your muscle glycogen reserves and be ready for more "Zone" action.

Alternatively — or additionally — go carb-crazy (oatmeal with fruit, whole-grain toast, flax pancakes, orange juice, etc.) on some weekend morning. Not only are glycogen-replete muscles more anabolic, they're better at burning fat. This is where the old exercise physiologist phrase "fat burns in a carbohydrate flame" comes from. (For those who care, it has to do with anaplerosis and Krebs Cycle intermediates.)

And without careful attention, lower-carb diets become lower-calorie diets. Poor energy intake is a bodybuilder's worst enemy. If one is going to become a disciple and follow recommendations on the Doctor Sears Web site, I'd be particularly cognizant of the fact that they are largely meant to address obesity and fat loss issues. Total caloric intake can be quite low for Zone addicts, so consider both the gross amounts of protein, carbs, and fat (grams) as well as their relative proportions (percent of each relative to the whole). As a bodybuilder, you are different than almost everyone else — you'll need more of everything.

Even though energy balance can be corrected via larger fat intake, muscle (and liver) glycogen depletion occur pretty quickly, as we've discussed. So don't think fat and carbs are perfectly interchangeable. We need to maintain glycogen levels and relying on gluconeogenesis (bodily creation of new glucose/ glycogen) to do it is doubtful. This is not to say that an adaptation period toward better fat metabolism doesn't occur over time.

A few weeks spent on a higher-fat/ lower-carb diet certainly helps. Despite a mountain of available data, most health professionals choose to ignore this fact. People do get better at burning fat based upon dietary influences alone. And athletes stand to benefit even more.

Improved fat usage (fatty acid mobilization and oxidation) could positively affect the glycogen depletion scenario. Overall, if you're a Zone devotee, I think you're on the right track regarding macronutrient proportions and a true "balanced' diet.

The Atkins-style Diet

This diet needs a full article, if not a dissertation, in itself. Let's just say that extremely low-carb diets carry even greater risk of glycogen depletion and muscle catabolism than the 40-30-30 approach. In purposeful disagreement with the Food Guide Pyramid, Atkins folks swing the pendulum far in the opposite direction, encouraging intake of dietary fat. America's obsession with carbs is berated and these necessary nutrients are demonized.

Although I personally (and professionally) have a great interest in manipulating various types of dietary lipids, I recognize the imbalance that's evident here. The Atkins style of near-ketotic dieting is as disproportionate as the entrenched pro-carb doctrine that it's trying to replace. The truth is, neither carbs nor fats should be demonized. That seems to be our problem — we're all seeking a "perfect enemy" when none exists.


For the vast majority of our time on earth, we humans were hunter-gatherers. Meat — with all its protein, nutrients and yes, saturated fat — was a staple. Eating it played a major role in the development of our larger brains. (How else can we ponder macronutrient balance?) Whole grains and seasonal fruits and veggies were also common. Variety wasn't a choice but an imperative. Balance was built-in to the system, even if adequacy was not. We ate what was available or we starved. Starving, emaciated cavemen don't score with hottie cavewomen.

And so natural selection goes. It may be just such an inborn survival "instinct" that drives your mom to insist that you finish your plate. Although this topic is unbelievably cool in explaining much of our modern problems with body fat, it's yet another story. Stay tuned.

How do I personally approach dietary balance? I take it rather literally. Both the 40-30-30 approach and the Paleo-Nutrition approach are similar to my way of thinking. After 14 years of considering this stuff and getting pumped-up about one diet, then another, I've kind of come full circle. The essential difference is that now I better understand the "whys" behind macronutrient balance, including the complexities regarding subtypes of each.

This takes time and involves both reading and self-experimentation. Many T-mag readers know that even published research can be used to "prove" almost anything... just put Sears and Atkins in a room and see! Degrees aside, it really helps to actually interpret this stuff as an actual, "practicing" bodybuilder.

I'm not a high-volume-training type of guy; I don't do a ton of total work (force x distance). As such, I don't need tons of carbs. I go for variety in eating, getting different types of protein (a fixed 25% of my intake), different whole grain carb sources (about 40-50% of my intake), and plenty of under-emphasized fats (monounsaturates, omega-3s, etc., about 25-35% of intake). The real focus, however, is on nutrient timing relative to training and even time-of-day. Macronutrient proportions are just the beginning.

So that's my take on the issue. A tip-of-the-iceberg survey of the "balanced diet" and why the term should never cross your Aunt Nelly's lips… nor anyone else's unless they're familiar with nutrition science. Whether you're an extremist who prefers focusing upon one energy source or you're an Aristotelian-type who believes "moderation in all things," hopefully you'll be more cognizant of the complexities involved. The ignorant, obtuse over-recommendation to "eat a balanced diet" must no longer corrupt us!

Or maybe this whole article is moot and my gym owner's girlfriend has already considered all this. Yeah, right.

Defeating Dietary Displacement - Part I
By John M. Berardi

Coffee Anyone?
I’ve got this buddy who seems to love going out for coffee with members of the opposite sex. Wait, let me clarify. He loves going out for coffee with exceptionally good-looking members of the opposite sex. Almost every time I call this guy during afternoon hours, he’s on one of these coffee dates with one of his little hottie "coffee friends."

Now, I know what you’re thinking. "Going out for coffee" must be some clever euphemism we use for sex. After all, what kind of high Testosterone weight lifter sits around all day drinking coffee when he could be doing the "wild thing" with said hotties? But alas, rather than slowing his testicular production of the male hormone, my buddy assures me these "coffee dates" are components critical to his style of dating—and his success. Intrigued, I decided to give the coffee date a try.

The Origin of Obesity?
So there I am, sitting in my favorite coffee shop across from my "coffee friend." Things are off to a good start. We’re laughing, she’s playing with her hair, and she’s reaching across the table touching my arm when I make a particularly witty comment. Note to self: "I’m in there!"

I order a green tea, a pitcher of water, and two chicken breast sandwiches (no bread, no mayonnaise, double the vegetables, please). Because it’s my "free" or "cheat" day, I pre-order dessert— a slice of warm apple pie. With mouth agape and that "where do you put it all?" look on her face, my coffee friend orders a chocolate brownie and a double latté. Then it happens: she starts asking the nutrition questions.

Internally, I groan. Only fifteen minutes into the meeting and we’re talking about the subject I usually like to steer clear of when I’m off the clock, especially with new people. It’s better to slowly wean them onto my diet ideas than to launch right into it during the first meeting. Damn my buddy and his "coffee dates"!

But then, during the ensuing conversation, which wasn’t as bad as I'd initially predicted, something else happened. In talking nutrition with my coffee friend, I realized that during this meal I was getting a very clear insight into the very "obesification" of North America.

Now, this girl is definitely not obese. She’s young, thin, and a real hottie. But in ten or twenty years, she will be obese if she continues to regularly dine on rich chocolate brownies and frappaccinos for lunch, bagels and coffee for breakfast (her admitted breakfast of choice), soda throughout the day, and leftover casserole for dinner.

Of course, obesity isn’t imminent in her case. She’s a young, intelligent, and reasonably disciplined woman, and she’ll probably be able to restrain her eating habits (i.e., curtail her total daily energy intake) enough to stave off full-blown obesity. But the fact is, simply moderating ones portions isn't enough to achieve optimal body composition and health.

Dietary Displacing: The "All-Treat" Diet

At this point some of you might be thinking, "Hold on just a minute, JB, didn’t you order the apple pie? Why are you railing against her when you’re just as guilty of ordering junk as she is?" Sorry, that sort of thinking is flawed.

There's a big difference between a healthy diet to which treats are occasionally added and an all-treat diet. In the former, less healthy foods are consumed rarely and in addition to healthy foods. In the latter, less healthy or unhealthy foods are consumed often and instead of healthy foods. This is called food displacement and must be avoided if optimal body composition and health are your goals.

Sure, I did indulge in a slice of sugar-laden junk food, this being one of the two "treats" I ate that week. But looking only at the junk food that we ate presents a woefully incomplete part of the picture. The presence of bad food in both of our diets is much less important than the absence of good food in hers.

To elaborate: I ate a small amount of junk food in addition to my antioxidant rich, protein filled, nutrient dense meal, which was just one of seven such meals I ate that day—and that was one of seven such days that week! She ate some junk. Period.

She started her day with junk, ate a lunch of junk, and filled the rest of the day with junk as well. I got all the antioxidants, micronutrients, and protein I needed, while she spent the entire day eating the nutritional equivalent of a cardboard box.

Based on our activity levels and basal metabolic needs, we both probably met our energy needs for the day (in terms of total energy ingested vs. total energy expended), but I actually got some nutrition that day. She just got calories, and her calories came from what we call "displacing foods."

You see, the bagel, the brownie and latte, the soda, etc. were consumed instead of good healthy choices. So, in essence, their empty calories displaced the good, nutrient dense food she could've otherwise eaten. She consumed nothing but empty calories, calories more likely to be stored as fat than burned, calories that actually degrade health or do nothing to improve it, calories that'll make her hungry and food-obsessed all day, and calories that'll make her tired just an hour or two after consumption.
I ate 49 healthy meals plus two treats that week. She had all treats. Big difference, huh?

Convenience and Calories: Overfed, Undernourished
Know anyone else like this girl? Chances are you know lots of other individuals like her! In the US alone, there are about 129.6 million overweight individuals and probably many more well on their way, just like my coffee friend. These stats beg the question—how did otherwise intelligent people get to be so bad, exchanging good nutrition for empty calories? While an explanation is probably multifactorial, there are a few simple answers that pop into my mind.

First, I think that North Americans strive daily for nutritional convenience. Sure, when the typical person goes out for a nice dinner at a restaurant, he or she usually gets a decent meal. But, unlike many Europeans (the French and the Italians come to mind), North Americans select everyday meals for speed and convenience.

A nice egg and spinach omelet with oats and pineapple on the side takes some time to prepare and eat. On the contrary, a bagel and coffee can be carried into the car and eaten on the way to work. So in our quest for speed and convenience, we get very little in the way of good nutrition. That’s why we’re overfed and undernourished, and that's how people can eat so much yet still have nutrient deficiencies.

Secondly, I think we’ve gotten too calorie conscious. Most people who make poor food selections aren’t stupid. They know if they want to be thin, they can only eat a certain amount of calories per day. If they eat more, they either feel monumentally guilty or, much less often, they head to the gym for marathon cardio sessions designed to exercise those extra calories off.

In trying to walk that thin tight rope of energy balance, they realize if they eat good, healthy food (i.e. marinated chicken breast with a spinach salad and a piece of fruit), they’ll be eating a bunch of calories which simply don’t taste as good as the brownies they’re craving. In this sense, the healthy food will displace the tasty junk they often crave.

So in an attempt to get the tasty brownie calories, they choose instead to displace the good chicken and spinach calories, kicking them out of the diet. In their minds, "a calorie is a calorie" and therefore if they simply eat a brownie instead of the chicken, they’ll stay just as thin. Thin, in our society, is synonymous with healthy. Little do they realize they’re setting themselves up for losses in lean body mass, an ever slowing metabolic rate, micronutrient deficiencies, and all sorts of nutrition related health problems including diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and syndrome-x (basically insulin resistance).

It’s hard to stay lean when the metabolism is dwindling as a result of insufficient protein intake and a low thermic effect of feeding. The metabolic rate takes another plunge because of deficiencies in essential fatty acids, not to mention decreasing muscle mass.

It’s also pretty difficult to stay lean if you’ve got diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and/or syndrome-x. To support this notion, all we need to realize is that in the last twenty years the incidence of obesity has doubled, yet our average daily energy intake hasn’t increased much at all!

North Americans aren’t getting so darned fat and/or unhealthy simply because of overeating. Often they replace good foods with the super-sized sugars, the trans fats, and the other nasty fast food ingredients. The good foods have the power to negate the effects of these nasty, health-degrading junk foods, but because people become too concerned with energy balance, they simply displace the good stuff.

In fact, if people simply ate a high protein, antioxidant and micronutrient rich diet supplemented with junk food, they’d end up leaner and healthier than those who got the same amount of calories (and often even fewer calories) from empty, displacing foods.

Cheat Meals
People often ask me what I think about cheat meals. Generally, what they want to know is, "Do I really have to eat clean all the time?" The answer is a qualified "yes." You should plan out your diet in advance, choosing only clean foods, and then eat everything on your plan. One or two days a week, if you so desire, you can eat foods that wouldn’t normally be found on your plan in addition to and not instead of the healthy foods.

Usually I add such foods at the end of the day, when I’m already stuffed with lean meat, EFAs, fruits and veggies. That tends to limit my ability to indulge. Of course, in strict fat loss phases, these calories should be the first to go.

Bottom line: As long as it doesn’t displace the good calories, you can have your cake and eat it too. Chew on that a while and then check back next week for Part II of this article: "Displacing Debates"!

Defeating Dietary Displacement - Part II
By John M. Berardi

Paralysis by Analysis

In Part I of this article, I presented a few ideas as to why the obesity rate is rapidly increasing in spite of the fact that, on average, our calorie consumption as a society hasn’t increased all that much.

In that article, I discussed the idea of a "displacing" food, a food that provides very little nutrition while simultaneously taking the place of the nutritious foods you might have consumed instead. In my opinion, displacing foods are covering our breakfast, lunch, and dinner tables and it’s this shift toward empty calories that's making us unhealthy and obese.

In this article, I’d like to discuss another displacement idea. While displacement foods are probably at the root of many of our health and body composition crises, what I call "displacement debates" have also become a real problem. According to my definition, a displacement debate is a debate that, rather than helping people move closer toward healthy nutritional choices, simply acts to confuse and paralyze them.

For example, the average North American barely knows what a carbohydrate, protein, or fat is, yet when they hear well-respected experts at the ADA recommend high carb diets and the highly (though not universally) respected Atkins group recommend low carb diets, they get so confused and frustrated they ultimately do little or nothing proactive to improve their health.

This argument is an example of a displacing debate: an academic argument that pushes the more important problems out of the public discourse. For the average North American, following either the ADA recommendations or the Atkins recommendations would go a long way toward improving their health. But instead of suggesting that people just do something, these groups continue to bicker about who’s right at the expense of an ever-growing obesity rate.

Below I’ve presented six of the interesting displacing debates I’ve heard argued lately. Hopefully by discussing them I can put to rest the idea that these issues are of critical importance to your overall health and body composition.

I’d like you to understand that these represent small, fine tuning details which are only relevant to a small percentage of the population, if that. On the whole, these debates do more to confuse and paralyze people than to encourage them to take their health into their own hands.

The Top 6 Displacing Debates

1. Fruit is Bad Now?

We all know fruit provides fiber, vitamins, minerals, and low glycemic index carbohydrates, so it should be no surprise that many experts recommend eating a few servings of fruit each day. Heck, this notion has even been turned into a clichéd rhyme: "An apple a day keeps the doctor away!"
Yet some experts out there (short-sighted experts with a real lack of perspective, I might add) actually suggest that fruit might be bad for us! That’s utter nonsense.

So, imagine you’re someone with a lifetime of eating habits that are less than optimal (for some of you, it might not be so hard to do) and you’re exposed to this debate. What do you do? Well, nine times out of ten, you figure that if there’s a chance fruit is bad for you, you might as well stay away from it — probably better to reach for a Big Mac instead. After all, it does taste better.

Verdict: Eat the damn fruit.

2. Raw? Organic?

Speaking again of fruits (and vegetables), it’s recommended that the average person consume two pieces of fruit and three servings of vegetables per day as a bare minimum. Athletes probably need even more, yet most North Americans (athletes included) consume far less than the standard recommendation of five servings of fruits and vegetables.

However, rather than simply recommend more fruit and veggies (no matter how you can get them, for any fruits and vegetables are better than none), experts spend their time fighting about canned fruits and veggies vs. raw fruits and veggies. And then they fight about raw fruits and veggies vs. organic fruits and veggies! Sure, I agree that raw, organic fruits and vegetables are best since they probably have a higher micronutrient count, but let’s face the facts: any fruits and veggies are better than none!

So again, imagine you’re someone with a lifetime of bad eating habits and you’re exposed to all this bickering. What do you do? Well, you'll probably avoid the fruits and veggies, wait for the experts to finish dueling it out, and reach for a Snickers bar instead.

Verdict: Get sufficient fruits and vegetables in your diet before worrying about whether they’re organic or not. Once you’ve done that, worry on.

3. Raw Milk vs. Regular Milk

What about milk? Most T-Nation readers know my stance on moo juice. In my opinion, it’s not necessary, doesn’t always "do the body good," and should be minimized in the diet (although I see no need for total elimination unless you’re lactose intolerant).

However, if we could simply get more people to drink milk instead of sugary soda, we’d have less obesity and disease. But instead of focusing on healthy behaviors, experts will bicker on and on about regular milk vs. raw milk. Of course, all this does is serve to draw negative attention to milk and away from the other healthy decisions people could be making.

Sure, if it were possible to get raw milk that was guaranteed aseptic, it would be better than processed, pasteurized milk. But faced with the confusion, what do you, the hypothetical sub-optimal eater, do? Well, nine times out of ten, you avoid both kinds of milk and drink another Coca-Cola instead.

Verdict: Limit milk, and drink calorie-free beverages like water and green tea instead.

4. Tap Water vs. Bottled Water

Speaking of beverage consumption, people are dehydrated because they drink too little water while drinking too many caffeinated, diuretic drinks (coffee, soda, and alcohol). Dehydration leads to all sorts of health problems for the inactive, not to mention the decrements in athletic performance seen in dehydrated athletes.

But rather than simply promoting the heck out of water consumption, experts will bicker on and on about tap water vs. bottled water. Sure, good quality bottled water is usually a better choice, but don’t be one of these people who stay away from tap water, forget to pick up their bottled water, and simply remain dehydrated.

Verdict: Drink sufficient water first; worry about the source later. (Of course, you may want to avoid drinking out of puddles next to pig farms in Uganda.) Put a water filter on your tap or buy one of those filter jugs you store in your fridge and be done with it.

5. Glass vs. Plastic

And how about the bottles the water comes in? That’s right, the glass vs. plastic debate. Just the other day, I was recommending that a group of my athletes pick up some Tupperware so they could whip up all of their meals and shakes in the morning. It’s easy to make a good food choice during the day when you’ve got all your good food with you, pre-cooked, pre-wrapped, and ready to be eaten.

After the talk, one of the athletes came up to me and told me he avoids Tupperware altogether because of the potential leeching of xenoestrogens into his food. When I asked what he uses to store his food in, he told me he doesn’t even preplan his meals. He also told me he needed to lose fifteen pounds and that he was overweight because his nutrition sucked!

Buddy, I agree that glass containers may be marginally better than plastic, but for the love of God, pick up some plastic if it'll help you plan your meals! And this was a world-class athlete! You can imagine how the average guy fares!

Verdict: Plan your meals in advance, storing them in woven baskets if necessary. Buy the best containers you can afford. If you can get the glass versions, great; if not, the generic plastic ones will do just fine.

6. Free Range vs. Extremely Limited Range Meat

Most weightlifters eat lots of protein and that’s no mistake. I’ve outlined the myriad of benefits associated with a high protein diet in my article, The Protein Prejudice. One of the best ways to get all that protein is by eating a lot of protein and micronutrient-rich lean meat. Protein supplements are okay to supplement your diet, but real food should be your nutritional mainstay and there’s nothing better than good ol’ fashioned meat.

Since eating more protein can increase metabolic rate, improve your weight loss profile, increase protein turnover, accelerate exercise adaptation, and (when replacing dietary carbohydrate) decrease the chance of cardiovascular disease, it should be clear that most people would do well to increase their consumption of lean meat.

So imagine the dismay someone might experience when hearing that the experts are now bickering about the type of meat we consume. Many experts muddy the waters when discussing free range vs. grain fed meat, telling people that grain fed meat (the only kind you can find in many grocery stores in North America) is full of toxins, bad fats, and hormones.

Sure, free-range meat is probably a better choice, although there’s little proof the supposed toxins and hormones actually get passed on to us. But again, imagine you’re someone with a lifetime of eating habits that are less than optimal and you’re exposed to all this bickering about lean protein. What do you do? Well, when you’re afraid of the meat you have access to, you shy away from all types of lean meat and reach for another bagel. Bad choice!

Verdict: Find the best meat you can by going around to various grocery shops and butchers. Owners of health food stores may also be able to help you locate the best stuff. But don’t be afraid to eat the meat you find in your grocery store — the reports of your impending death are greatly exaggerated.


These are just a few of the displacing debates gaining momentum in the nutrition world. Throughout your lifetime, you’ll be inundated with new experts, new nutritional plans, and new "revolutionary systems." Rather than letting these new ideas be a source of frustration and confusion, do your best to get past the marginalia, to get past the differences between all the new programs, and try to discover for yourself the basic principles all the successful programs seem to be built upon.

Most importantly, when faced with a choice between two good options, one of which may be marginally better than the other, but both of which would be an improvement over what you're currently doing, just pick one and go with it. You can optimize later, as long as you make an improvement now. There's no debating that.

The 7 Habits of Highly Effective Nutritional Programs
By John M. Berardi

Take a look around the nutrition world. Confusing, isn’t it?

Conflicting advice is everywhere, and you’re stuck in the middle. You wonder whether anyone out there even knows what they’re talking about, or whether the experts will ever reach a consensus on anything. You start to wonder whether you’ll need a degree in nutritional biochemistry before you can lose that stubborn abdominal fat.

So what’s the deal? Why so much confusion? Why does one expert suggest that high protein is best for everyone, while another expert suggests high carb and yet another expert suggests high fat? Besides, what exactly do high protein, high carb, and high fat really mean? And why are other experts telling us that food choices should be based on our "metabolic type," our "blood type," or our "ancestry"?

One expert says to eat like a Neanderthal and another says eat like a Visigoth, or perhaps a Viking. But while searching for nutritional Valhalla, most people just get lost and eat like a Modern American—and end up looking more Sumo than Samurai.

These days, we have a cacophony of expertise: lots of confusing noise from the experts drowning out the signal of truth.

On the surface, it appears as if today’s nutrition technology is quite advanced. After all, we have at our disposal more nutrition information than ever before. More money is being spent on nutrition research than in any time in history. Every day, impressive strides are being made in the field. Dozens of nutrition experts are rising to prominence. Yet simultaneously we’re witnessing a steadily increasing rate of obesity, an increase in nutrition-related illness (Diabetes, CVD, and Syndrome X), and an increase in nutrition-related mortality.

Part of the problem is that much of the information hasn’t reached the people who need it. Part of the problem is that even when it does reach those people, they often don’t use it. And certainly, the problem is multifactorial—there are probably many more reasons than I can list here.

How much more information do we need?

But the curious thing is that many people try to solve the problem by seeking out more information. They know it all and still want more. If there’s one thing of which I am absolutely convinced, it’s that a lack of good nutrition information isn’t what prevents us from reaching our goals. We already know everything we need to know. Sometimes the real problem isn’t too little information but too much.

All the fundamental principles you need to achieve good health and optimal body composition are out there already, and have been for years. Unfortunately, with 500 experts for every fundamental principle, and very little money to be made from repeating other people’s ideas, experts must continually emphasize the small (and often relatively unimportant) differences between their diet/eating plans and the diet/eating plans of all the other experts out there.

In the world of advertising and marketing, this is called "differentiation." By highlighting the small distinctions and dimming out the large similarities between their program and all the others, they’re jostling for your next nutritional dollar.

Now, and let me be clear on this, I’m not accusing nutrition experts of quackery.

Yes, some programs are utter crap. Those are generally quite easy to pick out and don’t merit discussion here. But most experts do know what they are talking about, can get results, and wholeheartedly believe in what they’re doing. Many of the differences between them are theoretical and not practical, and on the fundamentals they generally agree completely.

It’s all good — sorta

In fact, many of the mainstream programs out there, if not most of them, will work. To what extent they work, and for how long, varies. As long as a program is internally consistent, follows a few basic nutritional tenets, and as long as you adhere to it consistently, without hesitation, and without mixing principles haphazardly taken from other programs, you’ll get some results. It’s that simple, and that hard (as you can see, results depend as much on psychology as on biochemistry).

But if you’re like most people, you’ll first survey all the most often discussed programs before deciding which to follow. And in this appraisal, you’ll get confused, lost, and then do the inevitable. That’s right, you’ll revert back to your old, ineffectual nutrition habits.

Instead of parsing out the similarities between all the successful plans out there, the common principles that affect positive, long-term change, you get thrown off the trail by the stench of the steaming piles of detail.

The Atkins program works for all patients under the direct care of the Atkins team—as long as patients follow it. The Zone program works for all patients under the direct care of the Sears team —as long as they follow it. The Pritkin Diet works for all patients under the care of the Pritkin team— as long as they follow it.

Yet, not all three plans are identical. How, then, can they all get impressive improvements in health and body composition? Well, either each team somehow magically draws the specific patient subpopulations most in need of their plan (doubtful) or each system possesses some basic fundamental principles that are more important than the ratios of protein to carbs to fats.

The 7 Habits of Highly Effective Nutritional Programs

Here’s my take on it. I call these principles, "The 7 Habits of Highly Effective Nutritional Programs," a shameless and possibly illegal play on Steven Covey’s book, "The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People." (Great book, by the way—you should read it sometime.)

These aren’t the newest techniques from the latest cutting-edge plan. Rather, they are simple, time-tested, no nonsense habits that you need to get into when designing a good eating program.

1. Eat every 2-3 hours, no matter what. You should eat between 5-8 meals per day.

2. Eat complete (containing all the essential amino acids), lean protein with each meal.

3. Eat fruits and/or vegetables with each food meal.

4. Ensure that your carbohydrate intake comes from fruits and vegetables. Exception: workout and post-workout drinks and meals.

5. Ensure that 25-35% of your energy intake comes from fat, with your fat intake split equally between saturates (e.g. animal fat), monounsaturates (e.g., olive oil), and polyunsaturates (e.g. flax oil, salmon oil).

6. Drink only non-calorie containing beverages, the best choices being water and green tea.

7. Eat mostly whole foods (except workout and post-workout drinks).

So what about calories, or macronutrient ratios, or any number of other things that I’ve covered in other articles? The short answer is that if you aren’t already practicing the above-mentioned habits, and by practicing them I mean putting them to use over 90% of the time (i.e., no more than 4 meals out of an average 42 meals per week violate any of those rules), everything else is pretty pointless.

Moreover, many people can achieve the health and the body composition they desire using the 7 habits alone. No kidding! In fact, with some of my clients I spend the first few months just supervising their adherence to these 7 rules—an effective but costly way to learn them.

Of course, if you have specific needs, or if you’ve reached the 90% threshold, you may need a bit more individualization beyond the 7 habits. If so, give me a shout at jb@johnberardi.com, or search around on this site.

Many of these little tricks can be found in my many articles published right here. But before looking for them, before assuming you’re ready for individualization; make sure you’ve truly mastered the 7 habits. Then, while keeping the 7 habits as the consistent foundation, tweak away.

Lean Eatin' - Part I
By John M Berardi

With summer fast approaching, "beach-think" has set in and the current most-popular question is, "Oh wise and mighty JB who knoweth and loveth the alimentary arts while abhorring all that is adipose, how might I battle my corpulence?" Okay, okay, it's more like, "Hey jackass, how do I get rid of my gut?" but a guy can dream of eloquent questions from glib readers, can't he?

Fed up with answering the gut question for the bazillionth time, this article was born. In fact, this article is the transcript from one of the lectures I recently gave at Ian King's excellent Bigger, Stronger, Leaner! seminar in Toronto. If you think it's time to bring out those abs for summer, then this is the article for you!

Gadgets and Gimmickry

The science and art of eating for fat loss and muscle gain have become big business. Unfortunately, this big business, in the eternal quest to get paid, has taken the focus off excellent eating and excellent exercise regimens. Instead, with infomercials, marketing and advertising, and strategic alliances with the media (magazines, TV, etc), the diet and exercise industry has confused most people to the point that all they can do now is call up 1-800 numbers or jump on a secure server with their credit card ready. Some of these infomercials not only ignore the role of diet and exercise, they try to convince you those things aren't necessary when you buy their fat melting vibrating belts and magic pills.

Why has this transpired? Well, the answer is simple. And for three easy payments of $19.95, I'll tell you. No, no, just kidding. How about a quote instead?

"Throughout history, the difference between scientists and physicians on the one hand, and quacks and promoters on the other, has been that the scientists and physicians have attempted to show both what they knew and what they didn't know while the promoters saw the questions as simple and obvious, and always had all the answers."

Therefore, it doesn't seem such a mystery why people buy into the gimmickry. Telling the people what they want to hear wins them over. The problem is that while radical diets, gadgets, and pills may work in the short run, they often compromise an individual's health and well-being more than the extra fat does if they're overweight. This makes the cost to benefit ratio ridiculously low. The other problem is that these strategies don't typically work in the long run. So if you're trying radical new methods, it's a safe bet to assume that after the "treatment" is over, you'll likely go back to normal.

Now personally, I love being lean, but I also enjoy my good health. And my focus remains on using the basics of good, natural food selection and an active lifestyle that includes regular, preplanned physical activity. Anyone who's read my work knows that I'm not a big fan of prepackaged meals, gadgets or magic potions. As revolutionary as it sounds, I believe you can get lean by manipulating your diet and exercise alone.

So the purpose of this article is to provide a scientific basis for making good food selections, the real "secret" behind getting and staying lean. More specifically, I'll discuss the following:

Why a calorie is not a calorie

Why a protein is not a protein

Why a carbohydrate is not a carbohydrate

Why a fat is not a fat

How to choose your food wisely

Okay, let's dive in and prepare to "get your beach on."

A Calorie Is Not A Calorie

While the gurus and pundits of the past believed that all calories were created equal, and while much of the current dietetics herd still believes it, I'm here to tell you why it just ain't true. To do so, I'll focus on three main arguments: the Thermic Effect of Feeding (TEF), cross-cultural studies, and the effects of isoenergetic diets using different foods.

The TEF, as I've said many times before, represents the additional caloric expenditure (above resting metabolism) that it takes to digest, absorb, and process the food you eat. Studies on the thermic effect of different foods have been important in describing the different effects of the macronutrients on metabolism.

The TEF lasts from between one to four hours after eating a meal. When adding up the thermic effects from each of your meals, this extra metabolism represents between 5% and 15% of your total daily energy expenditure. Therefore, if your daily energy expenditure is 3,000kcal, about 150 to 450kcal of that comes from the TEF. Interestingly, different macronutrients tend to have different effects on metabolism.

Welle et al. (1981) and Robinson et al (1990) demonstrated that during a normal six hour period of rest and fasting (basal metabolism), subjects burn about 270kcal. When eating a single 400kcal meal of carbs alone (100g) or fat alone (44g), the energy burned during this six hour period reached 290kcal (an additional 20kcal). Interestingly, when eating 400kcal of protein alone (100g) the subjects burned 310kcal during this six hour period (an additional 40kcal). Therefore, protein alone had double the thermogenic power vs. fat or carbs alone!

Swaminathan et al (1985) demonstrated that during a normal fasted 90-minute period, both lean and obese subjects burned about 110 calories. When consuming a 400kcal, fat only meal (44g), the lean subjects burned 125kcal (+15kcal) while the obese subjects only burned 110kcal (+0Kcal).
This indicates that while the lean can up-regulate metabolism when eating fat, the obese may, in fact, have a defect in their thermogenic response mechanisms for fat. When fed a 400kcal mixed meal (P+C+F), the lean subjects burned 130kcal (+20kcal) during the 90-minutes while the obese burned 125kcal (+25kcal) during the 90-minutes. These data demonstrate that mixed meals are more thermogenic than fat only meals and that lean people have a better TEF response than the obese.

So now that you understand that different macronutrients (at the same energy intake) can alter calorie balance within a single meal, here's another interesting argument for the fact that all calories were not created equal. In a study by Campbell et al (1991), 6,500 rural and urban Chinese were compared to the US population norms for energy intake, macronutrient breakdown, and health. This is an important comparison due to the fact that obesity and cardiovascular diseases have reached epidemic proportions in North America while the prevalence is much lower in China. Check out this data on average nutrient intake:


Energy - 30.6kcal/kg

Carbohydrate - 42% (224g)

Fat Intake - 36% (85.86g)

Alcohol - 7%

Fiber - 11g/day

Protein - 15% (80g)

% Protein from Animal - 70% (56g)

BMI (wt/ht*ht) - 25.8


Energy - 40.6kcal/kg

Carbohydrate - 71% (504g)

Fat Intake - 14% (44g)

Alcohol - 5%

Fiber - 33g/day

Protein - 10% (71g)

% Protein from Animal - 11% (7g)

BMI (wt/ht*ht) - 20.5

It's interesting to note that while the Chinese have a much lower body mass index (as represented by weight in kg/height squared in meters) and a much lower prevalence of obesity and cardiovascular disease, they eat about 25 to 35% more food than we do! Now, the Chinese tend to be more active than we are, but when the numbers were corrected for activity levels, the differences remain!

Looking at the macronutrient breakdowns, the Chinese are on a high-carb diet, no doubt. But they're not fat. And while their protein intake, by percentage, is lower, they do get nearly as much total protein, by gram amount, as we do. Perhaps we could take a lesson from the Chinese. Clearly not all calories are created equal because if they were, the Chinese would be fatter than we are! But instead, the average 100kg Chinese person gets to enjoy a 4060kcal diet while keeping his lean physique.

I know, I know, that study is only epidemiological and therefore lacks some explanatory power, but stay tuned as I present two final studies to demonstrate that all calories were not created equal.

In a study by Demling et al (2000), the researchers demonstrated that food choice and timing could be more important than total calorie intake. Before the study began, overweight police officers, eating about 2100 to 2300kcal per day, tipped the scales at 216lbs with 56lbs of fat mass (25% fat) and 158lbs of lean mass. They were eating about 74g protein, 380g carbs, and 56g fat. Since this is clearly a hypocaloric diet, they should've been losing weight. But they weren't.

Unfortunately for these poor guys, they were eating only 10% of their calories at breakfast and a whopping 50% of their calories right before bed. In addition, 50% of their carb intake was sugar! After diet counseling, these guys still ate the same diet in terms of macronutrients, but they ate 70% of their calories during the active parts of their day and 80% of their carb intake was complex and low on the GI scale. At the end of twelve weeks these guys lost 3lbs of weight and 5lbs of fat while gaining 2lbs of lean mass. And this was without changing exercise habits! While these changes weren't huge, it's clear that food choices and timing make a difference.

In another study by T-mag's own Doug Kalman et al (2001), Doug showed that a 1200kcal, high-protein (47%P, 36.5%C, 16.5%F) diet was more effective than a 1200kcal, moderate-protein (24.5%P, 48.3%C, 27.2%F) diet for fat loss. Subjects in the high-protein group lost 6.3lbs of body weight, 5.3lbs of fat weight, and only 1lb of lean weight. The moderate protein group lost 3.1lbs of body weight, no fat weight, and 4.5 whopping pounds of lean weight. Try telling these subjects that a calorie is a calorie!

In the end, there clearly are ways to burn more calories and lose more weight while eating diets differing in macronutrient content but similar in energy intake. In addition, if you can believe it, there may even be ways to eat more food while staying leaner. Just ask the Chinese.

A Protein Is Not A Protein

In this section, I'd like to demonstrate that not all proteins were created equal. Specifically, I'll briefly discuss whey and casein protein, fast and slow protein, animal and vegetable protein, cod/fish protein and soy protein.

The topic of whey vs. casein has been discussed ad nauseum lately so rather than belabor this issue, I'll quickly summarize a few studies.

Demling et al (2000) compared two groups on a 2100 to 2300kcal diet containing 143gP (26%), 286gC (52%), and 49gF (20%). Both groups weight trained for twelve weeks but received 75g of their daily protein intake from either a whey-based drink or a milk-protein isolate drink (80% casein, 20% whey). At the end of the study, the milk-protein isolate group lost more fat (15.4lbs vs. 9.2lbs), gained more lean mass (9lbs vs. 4.4lbs), and gained more upper and lower body strength than the whey group. It appears that milk protein isolate ingestion, when on a training program, may be a better way to enhance fat loss and muscle gain.

Lands et al (1999) showed that when supplementing with 20g of whey or casein for three months, the whey group had up-regulated their antioxidant defense systems and had increased performance in an anaerobic exercise task. The casein group didn't improve on any of the above parameters. Therefore whey may be better for antioxidant protection.

Since the fast vs. slow debate focuses on whey (fast) vs. casein (slow), let's address that research here. In studies by Boirie et al (1997) and Dangin et al (2001), it was shown that whey protein is better for up-regulating protein synthesis while casein protein is better for down-regulating protein breakdown. Not much more has to be said about this since it's been discussed about a thousand other times on this site alone. The take-home message from these studies is that a milk protein blend or a supplement containing whey + casein may be your best bet for body composition improvements.

Next up, what about those kooky vegetarians? Well, in comparing an omnivorous diet (meat containing) with a vegetarian diet, Campbell et al (1995, 1999) demonstrated that strength gains and body composition improvements are impaired when meat is removed from the diet.

In their studies, subjects weight trained for twelve weeks while consuming a 2300kcal diet consisting of 70-90gP (12-15%), 267-317gC (49%), and 82-87gF (7-11%). The only difference between groups was the fact that one group ate a meat-free diet while the other group ate meat. At the end of the twelve weeks, the meat eaters lost 2.8lbs of fat while gaining 3.74lbs of lean tissue. The vegetarians, on the other hand, lost no fat weight and lost 1.76lbs of lean tissue. Bottom line, meat seems to be an essential part of the diet.

Regarding fish in the diet, Lavigne et al (2001) demonstrated that cod protein was better than soy or casein for increasing muscle glucose sensitivity and for preventing insulin resistance in high-fat fed rats. Since codfish has a favorable omega-3 profile, the researchers duplicated their work using only the protein component of cod and the benefits remained the same. This indicates that eating fish may improve your carbohydrate sensitivity and ultimately your body composition and these effects may be independent of the fatty acid profile.

Finally, Lohrke et al (2001) showed that growing pigs fed a diet consisting of soy as the only source of protein had lower body weights, amino acid imbalances, increased cortisol levels, and increased muscle breakdown. The casein-fed pigs grew normally. This study indicates that a diet containing exclusively a low quality protein (soy in this case) may interfere with normal growth and development.

So, how do we use this information to our advantage? Well, since different protein sources confer different benefits, your best bet is to eat some fish protein (cod, salmon, and tuna), some lean meat protein, and some milk protein isolates or whey/casein blends each day. Eating from a limited list of protein sources is a big mistake.

Depending on their individual needs, my clients typically eat a different protein source with every meal so that by the end of the day they've gotten complete protein from egg whites, fat free cheese, milk protein isolate shakes, cottage cheese, salmon or tuna and lean beef, not to mention the incomplete sources like mixed beans and mixed nuts.

Summary of Part I

With all the media hype out there, the key to staying lean and mean is still diet, specifically, good food choices.

A calorie is not a calorie because the macronutrient content of each meal affects the body's response to the feeding. That basically means you could change your body composition by eating the same amount of calories each day, but making different food choices. Meal timing also plays an important role.

A high protein diet may be better than a moderate protein diet for fat loss.

A protein is not a protein because different kinds of proteins affect the body in different ways. Milk protein isolate (80% casein, 20% whey) may be better than whey alone if your goal is fat loss. Whey looks like it's better for antioxidant protection, however.

A supplement containing whey + casein may be your best bet for body composition improvements.

Meat eaters can lose fat faster and gain more muscle than vegetarians, even if the vegetarians eat the same amount of calories and get the same amount of protein.

Eating fish may improve your carbohydrate sensitivity and ultimately your body composition.

Soy still sucks as a primary protein source.

Next week, I'll discuss why a carb is not a carb and why a fat is not a fat, plus provide a list of food choices.

Lean Eatin' - Part II
By John M Berardi

With summer fast approaching, "beach-think" has set in and the current most popular question is, "Oh wise and mighty JB who knoweth and loveth the alimentary arts while abhorring all that is adipose, how might I battle my corpulence?" Okay, okay, it's more like, "Hey jackass, how do I get rid of my gut?" but a guy can dream of eloquent questions from glib readers, can't he?

Fed up with answering the gut question for the bazillionth time, this article was born. In fact, this article is the transcript from one of the lectures I recently gave at Ian King's excellent Bigger, Stronger, Leaner! seminar in Toronto. If you think it's time to bring out those abs for summer, then this is the article for you!

Last week, in Part I, I wrote about how all calories and all proteins aren't all equal, despite rights guaranteed to them by the Constitution. Carrying the argument further…

A Carbohydrate Is Not A Carbohydrate

In this section, I'd like to demonstrate that not all carbohydrates were created equal. Specifically, I'll briefly discuss:

1. The insulin index vs. the glycemic index
2. The superiority of low-GI and II diets
3. The difference between liquid carbohydrates

While older carbohydrate classification schemes were centered on the notion of simple vs. complex carbohydrates (a structural classification), newer schemes focus more appropriately on the absorption profiles (glycemic index) and physiological effects (insulin index) of these carbohydrates (a functional classification).

The Glycemic Index (GI) is a classification scheme based on the blood glucose rise after consuming a carbohydrate food. This measure is based on the absorption profile of the food and was originally considered an indirect, but adequate measure of the insulin response to food. The assumption was that the insulin rise would be proportional to the glucose rise. However, recent research has demonstrated a dissociation of the glycemic response and the insulin response to the food. Therefore the insulin index was created.

The Insulin Index (II) is an index of the magnitude of insulin secretion as a result of food ingestion. Of course, this is the direct measure that the glycemic index could only approximate. Since insulin is a tricky hormone to manage, it's best to know exactly what's happening with this guy, especially if you have poor insulin sensitivity or poor carbohydrate tolerance.

Studies by Holt et al (1996) and Ostman et al (2001) highlighted some of these differences between glycemia and insulinemia. Interestingly, while the glycemic and insulin indices of many foods were similar, some foods caused unpredicted responses. As shown in the following graph, foods like yogurt and milk had relatively low-glycemic indices, but very high insulin indices. White and brown rice, on the other hand, had high-glycemic indices, but low insulin indices. The point here is that if you want to effectively manage body composition, you should choose your carbohydrates based on both the glycemic and insulin indices.

Unfortunately, there are only limited insulin data out there, leading us to continue to rely in some cases only on the glycemic index.

More complete glycemic and insulin indices can be easily located by doing an Internet search on these two terms.

So the next appropriate question would be, "What does the literature say about low GI and II diets vs. higher GI diets?" Well, here's a summary:
Ludwig et al (2000) described the following list of benefits for eating a low GI diet:

Better nutrition (better micronutrient profile and more fiber)

Increased satiety

Decreased hunger

Lower subsequent energy intake (second meal effect)

Fat loss
Better fasted insulin and glucose

In a study by Agus et al (2000), it was demonstrated that during a short, 6 day, low-calorie diet, a low-GI carb intake preserved metabolism and enhanced fat loss vs. a high-GI diet. The low GI group saw a 5% decline in metabolic rate and a 7.7lb weight loss while the high-GI group saw an 11% decline in metabolic rate and a 6.6lb weight loss. In these subjects, fasted glucose and insulin values were lower in the low-GI group, indicating better glucose and insulin sensitivity.

Spieth et al (2000) and Ludwig et al (2000) showed that 4 months of low-GI eating was superior to 4 months of high-GI eating in overweight teens. The low-GI group lost 1.5 points on the BMI scale and 2.2 lbs while the high-GI group gained 2.88lbs and increased their BMI. In addition, these studies showed that a low GI meal reduced food intake during subsequent meals while the high GI meal lead to overeating.

Finally, Pawlak et al (2001) showed that in rats, a low-GI diet led to decreased fasting insulin and glucose values, decreased fat mass, and decreased insulin and glucose values during a glucose tolerance test. Therefore, body comp as well as glucose and insulin sensitivity improved.
The bottom line here is that when all else is equal, a diet containing mostly low-GI carbohydrates is superior to a high-GI diet for losing fat, preserving metabolic rate, and maintaining healthy insulin sensitivity and glucose tolerance.

Next, I'd like to illustrate the differences between popular liquid carbohydrates including maltodextrin, dextrose, fructose, and sucrose.
Maltodextrin is a glucose polymer (a string of glucose units put together, similar to the protein peptide). It is therefore, by definition, a complex carbohydrate. However it's more complex nature does NOT slow digestion. Therefore, the GI and II remain high. Maltodextrin is the absolute best carbohydrate to consume during exercise for rapidly delivering blood glucose and for muscle glycogen recovery. It's also best for fluid uptake.

Dextrose (glucose) is a simple carbohydrate unit (similar to the amino acid). While it's good for exercise situations (malto is better), you're probably better off adding some dextrose to your maltodextrin formula. A little bit of dextrose may enhance the already excellent fluid uptake that occurs with maltodextrin during exercise.

Fructose is a simple carbohydrate unit, but it's structurally different from glucose. Due to its structure, it can possibly cause GI problems and/or decrease fluid uptake with exercise. Fructose, unlike other simple carbs, has to be "treated" in the liver and it reaches the muscle slowly.

Finally, sucrose consists of glucose and fructose units bonded together. Therefore, upon digestion, you get glucose and fructose in the GI (and the benefits and consequences of each).

Based on the three studies I reviewed (Blom et al 1987, ven Den Burgh et al 1996, Piehl et al 2000), it appears that dextrose is 72% faster than fructose for muscle glycogen resynthesis . As a result, at the end of 8 hours, muscle glycogen was 30% higher with dextrose ingestion. However, in another study, at the end of 4 hours, muscle glycogen was 15% higher with maltodextrin ingestion vs. dextrose. So dextrose kicks fructose's butt although malto beats up on dextrose.

A Fat Is Not A Fat

In this section, I'd like to demonstrate that not all fats were created equal. Specifically, I'll briefly discuss:

1. Fat Structure - Fatty Acid Chains and TGs
2. MCTs - Medium Chain Triglycerides
3. Olive Oil - Monounsaturated Fatty Acids
4. CLA - Polyunsaturated Fatty Acids
5. Fish Oil - Omega 3 Polyunsaturated Fatty Acids

As discussed in The Fat Roundtable, there are three different types of fatty acids; saturated (coming from animal fats), monounsaturated (coming from olive oil and avocados), and polyunsaturated (coming from flax oil, hemp oil, fish oil, canola oil, safflower oil, etc). Dietary fat, rather than simply floating around as free fatty acids, typically is packaged up in the form of a triglyceride. Basically, a triglyceride consists of 3 fatty acids (usually all of the same type) bound together by a glycerol backbone. Essentially, the glycerol backbone has 3 carbons and a fatty acid is attached (via a dehydration/synthesis reaction) to each of the 3 carbons.

Based on this structural phenomenon, scientists have recently begun exploring an interesting development in fat science. They've begun making "structured lipids." In essence what they're doing is making diacylglyerols (2 of the carbons have fatty acids attached while 1 does not) and special triacylglycerols (where there are fats of different lengths and properties attached to each carbon).

In clinical studies, these structured lipids have been shown to increase protein synthesis in patients suffering from wasting. In addition, these fats are easily oxidized (like the long chain fatty acids in fish oil) which leads to a thermogenic response rather than a storage response. As a result these structured lipids are now being heavily studied. While they're not on shelves yet, I wouldn't be surprised if these structured lipids become food additives in the near future.

MCT's and CLA, probably due to their early introduction to the weightlifting scene and the huge media hype associated with this introduction, have gotten a bad reputation. These fats may, in fact, assist in weight loss.

MCT's, due to their medium chain length, are easily oxidized by skeletal muscle. This is due to the fact that MCT's are quickly and easily transported to the fat furnace, the mitochondrion. As a result, research (Hill et al 1989) has demonstrated that TEF (thermogenic effect) with MCTs is double that of other fats, making it comparable to protein in this regard.

CLA has remained a relative mystery to the research community. This is probably due to the various forms (isomers) of CLA. Regardless, some research (Blankson et al 2000) has shown that 12 weeks of CLA supplementation (at doses above 3.4g/day) can increase LBM and decrease fat mass vs. olive oil. While the olive oil group gained 1.5 lbs of fat and no lean body mass, the CLA group lost 4.5 lbs of fat and gained 3 lbs of LBM.

Speaking of olive oil, even this "good fat" is better than saturated fat for body composition. In a study comparing safflower oil, beef fat, palm fat, and olive oil, it was shown that olive oil leads to a 14% higher oxygen consumption rate than the other fats.

Finally, if you've been around the T-mag community for a while you'll know that my favorite fats are those in fish oil. Delarue et al (1996) showed that fish oil supplementation (6g/day added to the diet) dramatically changed the metabolism of fats and carbohydrates.

During an OGTT (oral glucose tolerance test - drinking a big 75g whack of liquid sugar and measuring the subjects for 2 hours afterward), the fish oil group burned 27g of fat vs. 20g in the placebo group. The fish oil group also burned 28g or carbs while storing 36g and the placebo group burned 51g of carbs while storing only 14g.

In addition, baseline insulin was 30% lower in fish oil group and insulin responses to OGTT were 50% lower in the fish oil group. What this tells us is that fish oil allows the body to burn more fat and store more muscle glycogen, repartitioning fuel away from fat cells toward muscle cells.

Since fish oils are polyunsaturated fats, it's important to not only increase fish-oil intake, it's important to shift the ratio of polyunsaturated fat to saturated fat (P/S). Van Marken, Lichtenbelt et al (1997) showed that the polyunsaturated fat to saturated fat ratio is important to metabolic rate. A higher ratio of P/S leads to metabolic increases (22% increase in TEF and 3% increase in daily RMR).

So, if there's one thing you need to take from this discussion, I think it should be that, all else being equal, the fat composition (not just total intake) of your diet is very important to your body composition. Saturated fats, while necessary to a small extent, should only make up a small part of your diet while other fats like olive oil, fish oil, flax oil, MCTs, and CLA all have a place on your plate. This way you can get the same amount of daily energy from fats while gaining lean mass and without gaining body fat.

Choosing Your Food Wisely

So, with all the research out of the way, I hope that I've made a good argument for the fact that while total energy intake is important to energy balance, smart macronutrient choices go a very long way in shifting the energy balance equation in your favor. But to drive the point home, I'd like to give a living example of this fact.

One of my clients told me that he was a big fan of my work and my nutritional advice. However, he was convinced that his body simply couldn't get lean. The problem was that this gentleman got fat by using the calorie counting method. In fact, he used my very own Don't Diet method (the nerve of him!). He exercised regularly, training with weights 4x per week and doing daily cardio (mixing up interval exercise with endurance type exercise). In addition, he always ate about 500 calories below what his maintenance should have been. Yet he got fat anyway and was walking around at 25% body fat. He thought he was destined to be chubby forever.

So, was it true? Was he really fat loss resistant? Had my Don't Diet plan failed? I was perplexed so I had him write down everything he ate for a week. When sitting down with him a week later, the answer to his dieting woes was obvious. He was eating all the wrong foods. His diet was full of the media promoted fat free/super sugared/over processed/synthetic/bleached supermarket foods.

He believed that the foods he was choosing were good for him, but in fact, he was eating a diet designed for fat storage. When calculating the numbers, it worked out to be about 2,300 kcal at 30% protein, 50% carbs, and 20% fat. But the foods he used to make up these numbers were atrocious. He was eating way too much saturated fat, was drinking way too many whey protein shakes with milk, and was consuming too much sugar and processed, high-GI carbohydrate. There was very little natural fiber in his diet and he rarely ate vegetables or fruit. No wonder he couldn't lose weight!

Now, how on earth could he have believed that his diet was good? Well, although this data is a little old, I wanted to share it with you anyway because it's very telling about the power of marketing. In 1992 the National Cancer Institute spent $400,000 on an ad campaign to encourage the consumption of fruits and vegetables. That same year Kelloggs spent 32 million advertising Frosted Flakes alone! No wonder people don't know what foods are good for them!

So, back to the client. Well, it turns out that he had been down this road before. When he first started gaining weight, he decided to go on a diet program. He followed a ridiculous, muscle wasting, low calorie diet full of sweeteners and terrible tasting foods. And he lost some weight. But the minute he went back to eating what he thought was healthy and sensible (as described above); he gained all the fat back and then some!

So, now that I had him under my tutelage, what was the solution?

First I taught him where the produce aisle is. We gave him a list of the foods he could choose from. In addition, I taught him to combine his meals such that he was eating lean protein, good fats, and lots of fruits and veggies. We didn't count calories or pre-plan meals; we just made sure he had enough protein in the diet (200g). And guess what? Months later, he's still dropping fat while maintaining his lean mass. He's eating far more calories than he ever had before and enjoying meals more than he ever had before. In addition, he has a better health profile (blood chems) than before.

The bottom line is that diet isn't that hard. When you feed the body wholesome foods, the appetite regulates itself and you don't have to monitor very much. However, by harnessing the powers of good food selection and smart calorie counting, weight loss comes easy!
Here are some basic rules for how to improve your eating habits:

Get used to the taste of food without dressings, sweeteners, etc. Ultimately you'll grow to like the natural taste of foods you once though tasted bland.

Try to eat more like a true vegetarian (i.e. the bulk of the diet should come from fruits, veggies, unprocessed and unbleached food). But don't get me wrong; I don't want you swearing off meat.

"Supplement" your unprocessed vegetarian-like diet with the high-protein foods discussed above.

Add unheated healthy oils to your foods.
Drink only calorie-free beverages (green tea, water, etc.).
Unfortunately the worst foods usually are the most convenient and the most processed foods. Avoid eating for convenience alone.
Avoid any easy-to-prepare breakfast foods (waffles, french toast, etc) as they're loaded with fattening trans-fatty acids.
Avoid products containing the ingredients or words "partially hydrogenated," "high fructose corn syrup," etc.
Avoid fast/fried food.
Avoid foods or meals that are high in both fat and carbohydrate.
In addition to these rules, here's the list of food choices that I give to many of my clients. These foods should make up about 80% of your daily diet and, as indicated above, you should be eating many of these foods each day, not simply picking one or two selections to eat all the time.


Fish: Salmon, Tuna, Cod


Chicken breasts

Cottage cheese

Milk protien isolates

Whey-casein blends

Lean Red Meat



Mixed beans

Low-GI fruits

Oatmeal/Oat bran

Mixed-grain bread

Small amounts of protein-enriched pasta


Flax oil


Olive oil

Mixed nuts (no peanuts)

Fish oil

For active individuals, the other 20% of your daily calories should come from the following sources (in order to enhance your recovery from intense exercise). The liquid meal should come during and after exercise while the second high-carb meal should come about 1-2 hours later.

Liquid meal (during exercise and immediately post exercise):

Protein: Whey hydrosylates/Isolates

Carbohydrates: High-GI liquid, Glucose (dextrose), Maltodextrin

Solid meal (2 hours post exercise):

Protein: Plain yogurt

Carbohydrate: High GI, solid-fiber cereal

In addition, here's the other list that I give to my clients. These are foods to avoid at all costs:


Fatty meats

Fatty dairy

Most lunch meat

Large amounts of milk

Large amounts of soy


Regular bread

Added sugar

Most cereals


Fruit juice


Fruit bars




Vegetable oil

Corn oil

Heated/fried oil

In conclusion, food selection is one of the more important determinants of your body composition. Using the rules above, you can make your fat loss quest much easier than you ever imagined!

Massive Eating - Part I
By John M Berardi

Pop Quiz, Hotshot
Pretend you're back in high school and mean ol' Mr. Berardi has just passed out a pop quiz. Luckily, there's only one question:

Which of the following statements is true?

A) Most people succeed in training well enough to grow, but they fail in eating well enough to grow.
B) Most people eat well enough to grow, but they don't train well enough to grow.

Pencils down. Okay, which is it? If you said "A," give yourself a gold star. But don't feel too badly if you chose "B." To an extent, both answers are correct. Most people probably train and eat incorrectly! But if I had to pick one answer that was more true than the other, I'd say "A" would be the best choice. If you're not growing, it's probably your diet, not your training, that's holding you back.

With this article I'm throwing down the gauntlet. This is your wake up call if you've ever made any of the following statements:

"I eat a lot of food. In fact, it feels like I'm eating all day! But I just can't get any bigger."

"I can't gain a pound of muscle. My parents are both skinny, so it must be genetic."

"I've always had a fast metabolism. That's why I can stay lean but can't get any bigger."

"I'm scared to go on a bulking diet because I don't want to lose my abs."

"I've tried mass-building diets before and put on a little muscle, but most of the weight I gained was fat."

Sound familiar? Then this article is for you, toothpick legs.

What You're Doing Wrong
Now you may be asking, "If I'm not eating well enough to grow, Mr. Smartypants, what am I doing wrong?" In my opinion, there are three major things that most people do incorrectly when trying to gain muscle mass:

1) They don't understand energy balance (calories in vs. calories out).
2) They don't eat the right foods at the right times (poor meal combinations).
3) They don't learn their physiological responses to nutrients (insulin sensitivity, carb, and fat tolerance).

Below (and in Part II) I'll describe practical ways to fine tune all three. By the end of this series, you should know how much food you need to grow, what combinations of foods you should eat and when you should eat them, and how to figure out your own personal, individualized macronutrient needs.

Energy Balance: You might be surprised!
So what is energy balance? Here's the simple equation:

Energy Balance = Energy Intake - Energy Expenditure

Energy intake is made up of what you eat and drink. Energy expenditure is made up of several factors including resting metabolic rate (RMR), calorie cost of activity, thermic effect of food (TEF), and adaptive thermogenesis (the X factor). The balance of intake and expenditure is an important factor in weight gain or loss. If you have a positive energy balance (intake exceeds expenditure), you gain weight. A negative energy balance (intake is less than expenditure) dictates that you'll lose weight. Simple enough.

Remember, however, that energy balance is only one factor in getting massive (or getting lean for that matter). And although it's the most basic and simplest part of understanding your needs for growth, ironically, most people totally screw it up! So let me be your metabolic guide. Below I'll provide some practical ways to navigate through the harsh jungle of energy balance equations so that you'll emerge ready to tackle the challenge of muscle growth. Pick up your pencils again, class. Better yet, grab a calculator!

Step #1: Resting Metabolic Rate
Resting metabolic rate (RMR) is the energy it costs the body to basically keep alive. This doesn't include the costs of getting your butt out of bed and moving around; those numbers are calculated in later. Although you might not guess it, about 50 to 70 percent of your entire day's calorie expenditure is a result of the RMR. So, let's figure out your RMR right now.

Determining RMR:

To start off with, you need to take your body weight in pounds and convert it to kilograms. (International readers, please bear with us silly non-metric Americans for a moment.) This is a simple conversion. Just divide your body weight by 2.2.

Next you take your percent of fat and multiply it by your body weight (which is now in kilograms). This will give you your fat mass (FM) in kilograms. Next simply subtract this number from your total weight in kilograms and you'll have your fat free mass (FFM) in kilograms.

Before we go on, why don't we try this out on me. Since I'm an athlete with a body weight of 200lbs at 5% body fat, I'd take my total body mass and divide it by 2.2:

Total body mass in kilograms = 200lbs / 2.2 = 91 kg

Next I'd multiply this kilogram number (91 kg) by my percent of body fat. Remember, percents are really decimals so 5% equals 0.05, 12% bodyfat will be .12 etc.

Fat Mass = 91kg x 0.05 = 4.55kg FM

Next I subtract this fat mass number (4.55 kg) from my total body mass (91kg):

Fat Free Mass = 91kg - 4.55kg = 86.45kg

Therefore my fat free mass is 86.45 kilograms. From that I can determine my RMR. The formula for

RMR is as follows:

Resting Metabolic Rate for Athletes (in calories per day) = 500 + 22 x fat free mass (in kilograms).

Again, for me, I'd multiply 22 times my fat free mass and add 500 to that number as shown below:

RMR= 22 x 86.45 + 500 = 2402

Therefore my resting metabolic rate is about 2400 calories per day. Everyone have their RMR figured out? Good, let's move on.

Step #2: Cost of Activity
The Cost of Activity represents how many calories are required to move your butt around during the day. This includes the cost of walking out to your car, scraping the ice off the damn thing, driving to work, pinching the secretary's ass, going to lunch with the boys, and of course, training after work. These factors make up about 20 to 40% of your daily caloric intake based on your activity level. So let's figure out your costs of activity. I'll use myself as an example again.

Determining Activity Costs:

Cost of Daily Activity is equal to the RMR you calculated above multiplied by an activity factor that fits your daily routine. I've listed some common activity factors below.

Activity Factors:

1.2-1.3 for Very Light (bed rest)
1.5-1.6 for Light (office work/watching TV)
1.6-1.7 for Moderate (some activity during day)
1.9-2.1 for Heavy (labor type work)

Note: Don't consider your daily workout when choosing a number. We'll do that later.

With this information we can get back to determining my calorie needs. Since I work at a university, most of my day is pretty sedentary. Even though I run back and forth between the lab and classes, I've selected 1.6 as my activity factor. Therefore the amount of calories it takes to breathe and move around during the day is about 3800 calories as shown below:

RMR x Activity Factor = 2400 calories x 1.6 = 3800 calories

Costs of Exercise Activity:

Next, we need to determine how many calories your exercise activity burns so that we can factor this into the totals. Exercise activity can be calculated simply by multiplying your total body mass in kilograms (as calculated above) by the duration of your exercise (in hours). Then you'd multiply that number by the MET value of exercise as listed below. (MET or metabolic equivalent, is simply a way of expressing the rate of energy expenditure from a given physical activity.)

MET values for common activities:

high impact aerobics... 7
low impact aerobics... 5
high intensity cycling... 12
low intensity cycling... 3
high intensity walking - 6.5
low intensity walking - 2.5
high intensity running... 18
low intensity running... 7
circuit-type training... 8
intense free weight lifting... 6
moderate machine training... 3

So here's the formula:

Cost of Exercise Activity = Body Mass (in kg) x Duration (in hours) x MET value

And here's how I calculate it for myself:

Exercise Expenditure for weights = 6 METS X 91kg x 1.5 hours = 819 calories
Exercise Expenditure for cardio = 3 METS X 91 kg x .5 hours = 137 calories

Add these two together and I burn 956 total calories during one of my training sessions.

Since my training includes about 90 minutes of intense free weight training and 30 minutes of low intensity bicycling (four times per week), my exercise energy expenditure might be as high as 1000 calories per training day!

The next step is to add this exercise number to the number you generated when multiplying your RMR by your activity factor (3800 calories per day in my case).

So 3800 calories + about 1000 calories = a whopping 4800 calories per day! And we're not done yet! (Note: I rounded 956 up to 1000 for the sake of simplicity. If you're a thin guy trying to gain muscle, it's better to round up anyway than to round down.)

Step #3: Thermic Effect of Food
TEF is the amount of calories that it takes your body to digest, absorb, and metabolize your ingested food intake. This makes up about 5 to 15% of your total daily calorie expenditure. Since the metabolic rate is elevated via this mechanism 10 to 15% for one to four hours after a meal, the more meals you eat per day, the faster your metabolic rate will be. This is a good thing, though. It's far better to keep the metabolism high and eat above that level, than to allow the metabolism to slow down by eating infrequently. Protein tends to increase TEF to a rate double that of carbs and almost triple that of fats so that's one of the reasons why I'm a big fan of protein meals.

Determining the Thermic Effect of Food:

To determine the TEF, you need to multiply your original RMR value (2400 in my case) by 0.10 for a moderate protein diet or 0.15 for a high protein diet. So this is what the formula looks like:

TEF = RMR x 0.10 for moderate protein diet (1 gram per pound of bodyweight)
TEF = RMR x 0.15 for high protein diet (more than 1 gram per pound of bodyweight)

Since I eat a very high protein diet (about 350 to 400 grams per day), I use the 0.15 factor and my TEF is about 360 calories per day as displayed by the calculation below:

Thermic Effect of Food = 2400 calories x 0.15 = 360 calories per day

Now add that to your calorie total.

Step #4: Adaptive Thermogenesis
I like to call Adaptive Thermogenesis the "X factor" because we just aren't sure how much it can contribute to daily caloric needs. Some have predicted that it can either increase daily needs by 10% or even decrease daily needs by 10%. Because it's still a mystery, we typically don't factor it into the equation.

Just for interest's sake, one factor included in the "X factor" is unconscious or spontaneous activity. Some people, when overfed, get hyper and increase their spontaneous activity and even have been known to be "fidgety." Others just get sleepy when overfed - obviously the fidgeters will be burning more calories that the sleepy ones.

Other factors include hormone responses to feeding, training, and drugs, hormone sensitivity (insulin, thyroid, etc), stress (dramatically increases metabolic rate) or temperature induced metabolic changes (cold weather induces increased metabolic activity and heat production).

With all that said, you don't need to do any math on this part or fiddle with your calorie total. This is just something to keep in mind.

Step #5: Putting it all together

Okay, so how many damn calories do you need to consume each and every day? Well, adding up RMR plus activity factor (3800 calories in my case), cost of weight training (819 calories), cost of cardio (137 calories), and TEF (360 calories), we get a grand total of about 5116 calories! (Remember, that's just my total. You'll get a different number.)

Now that's a lot of food! And I must eat this each and every day when I want to gain weight. Are you surprised at how many calories I need? Most people are. So the next time you complain that you're "eating all day and can't gain a pound" you'd better realistically evaluate how much you're really eating. If you're not gaining a pound, then you're falling short on calories.

The Secret is in the Surplus!
So at this point, the keen T-mag readers that aren't afraid of massive eating might ask the question, "Since this is technically just your maintenance level, how can you get bigger by eating this amount? Wouldn't you need more?" The answer is simple. Since I train only four days per week this diet would meet my needs on those four days. But on my three off days per week I'd be in positive calorie balance by about 1,000 calories per day! (That extra thousand calories isn't being used when training, in other words.) This adds up to a surplus of 3,000 calories per week. And this is where the growth happens!

I especially like this "staggered model" because rather than trying to stagger your calorie intake on a daily basis by eating different amounts of food on different days, I let my training cycle my calories for me. This way I can eat the same thing every day while preventing my body from adapting to that habitual level of intake. Just like we vary our training to prevent adaptation, prevention of dietary adaptation is one of the secrets to changing your body composition.

At this point, I want to stop and give you a week to think about your energy needs. Go do the math if you haven't already, figure out how many calories you need, and take some time to compose yourself. After you've realized that you've been grossly under-eating, start thinking about ways to add calories to your diet. In the next installment we'll discuss how to design an eating program that's individualized for your own needs. We'll also get down to the nitty-gritty and talk about what kinds of foods you should and shouldn't be eating. I'll meet you back here next week!

Massive Eating - Part II
By John M Berardi

Now that I know how much to eat, what's next?
Eating to get massive is a juggling act between three important concepts. As I stated in Part I, energy balance is only one. In focusing only on energy balance, individuals are ignoring the acute effects of eating on hormones, metabolism, and energy storage. So someone who argues that calorie balance is the only determinant in changing body composition is making the situation too simplistic.

One of the goals of eating to grow should be to maximize the muscle gain to fat gain ratio. Basically you want to pack on the most muscle with the least amount of fat gain. To do this you need to understand which meal combos to pursue and which to avoid. The foundations of my recommendations in this area are based on the avoidance of a nasty scenario. The worst case scenario for someone trying to pack on muscle while minimizing fat gain is to have high blood levels of carbs, fat, and insulin at the same time.

This is nasty because chronic elevation of insulin can increase the rate of transport of fats and carbs into fat cells. Although initially insulin shuttles nutrients into muscle cells, chronic insulin elevation will cause the muscles to become insulin resistant and refuse to take up nutrients. The adipose tissues, however, are greedy little pieces of cellular machinery and continue to take up nutrients at a rapid rate. So if you always have high levels of blood fats and carbs in the presence of insulin (the kind your body makes, not the kind that comes in a syringe), your muscles will slow their uptake of nutrients and all that fat and carbs will feed the fat cells. Can you say Shamu?

Before you make a rash decision and try to eliminate insulin, I've got to let you know that insulin is very anabolic. It's responsible for carb and amino acid delivery to the muscles for recovery and growth. So you need insulin, but you need to control it. And when you eat to promote insulin surges, you've got to be sure that you have the ideal profile of macronutrients in your blood to ensure that this insulin surge leads to muscle gain and not fat gain. This is where meal combinations come into play.

Let's start with some meal combinations to avoid.

Avoid meals containing fats and carbs
Unfortunately, this is the typical meal of the Western diet. As a result, it's no wonder that obesity is an epidemic. Meals with a high carbohydrate content in combination with high-fat meals can actually promote a synergistic insulin release when compared to the two alone. High fat with high-carb meals represent the worst possible case scenario.

Now, some people have argued that fat lowers the glycemic index of foods and should therefore be included in carb meals. But remember, the glycemic index only gives a measure of glucose response to a meal, not insulin response. And sometimes the glucose responses to a meal and the insulin responses to a meal aren't well correlated. So although you might be slowing the rate of glucose absorption into the blood by adding fat to your meals, you'll promote high blood levels of fats, carbs, and insulin. And that's a no-no!

Avoid meals high in carbs alone
Ironically, since the liver converts excess carbohydrates into fats, a very high carbohydrate meal can actually lead to a blood profile that looks like you just ate a high carb and high-fat meal! That's why high-carb diets don't work any better than ones rich in fats and carbs. High carb meals easily promote high blood levels of fats, carbs, and insulin, too.

Okay, so now that we know which meal combinations are evil. Let's be proactive and talk about what meal combinations to concentrate on.

Eat meals containing protein and carbs (with minimal fat)

It's well known in the research world that eating carbs and protein together also creates a synergistic insulin release (much like the fat and carb meals above). But in this scenario, that insulin release is just what we want. By having a few meals per day that cause high blood levels of insulin, carbs, and amino acids (as long you don't have chronic high blood levels of insulin all day long), the body tends to become very anabolic, taking up all those carbs and amino acids into the muscle cells for protein and glycogen synthesis. And since there's no excess fat for the fat cells, fat gain is minimized.

Obviously this combination is beneficial during the post-workout period, but in addition you might want one or two additional insulin spikes per day to promote anabolism during a mass phase. Again, as long as you aren't elevating insulin all day long, you won't become insulin resistant.

At this point some may argue that although this scenario might not promote fat gain, those high insulin levels will prevent fat breakdown (lipolysis). And they're completely correct! But you have to understand that most meals (unless they contain only certain types of protein) will elevate insulin levels to the point that lipolysis is prevented. So you can't escape that unless you eat a ketogenic diet with only specific types of low insulin releasing proteins. But since ketogenic diets don't put on muscle mass and there are all sorts of problems associated with them, I think they should be avoided. Since muscle gain is the goal, two or three meals per day of anabolism are necessary to get bigger and that means protein plus carbs with minimal to no fat.

Eat meals containing protein and fat (with minimal carbs)

Although it's desirable to eat some meals each day that release lots of insulin, upregulate protein synthesis, and fill up carb stores, it's advisable to avoid too many such meals. I discussed the reasons for this above (reduced insulin sensitivity and prevention of fat burning), but also, since we all know that essential fatty acids are so important to health and favorable body composition, eating protein and carb meals all day will prevent the ingestion of healthy fats. And that's no good.

In an attempt to balance out your two or three carb plus protein (minimal fat) meals each day, you should be eating an additional two to three meals consisting of protein and fat with minimal carbs. Taking in 30% of each major class of fatty acids (polyunsaturates, monounsaturates, saturates) is a good mass building tip when thinking about which fats to consume.

Taking a step back, the purpose of protein plus fat meals is to provide energy and amino acids without causing large, lipolysis-preventing insulin spikes. In addition, after fatty meals that contain no carbs, the body oxidizes less carbs (more carbs are stored and retained in the muscle as glycogen) and burns more fat for energy. So basically you'll be burning fat for energy and storing carbs in the muscle after such meals.

I hope that it's clear now that by properly combining meals, you can use the acute effects of food to your advantage. Eat protein plus fat during some meals and you may be burning fat during certain portions of the day. Eat protein plus carbs for some meals and you may be growing during other portions of the day. Although I know some will think this is blasphemy, this type of eating may actually help you get bigger while reducing your body fat during the same training phase.

Real Meals
Don't you hate it when you read a diet article only to find yourself asking, "So what exactly do I eat anyway?" Well, here are some examples of typical meals to consume when following this program:

Protein plus carb meals (minimal fat - <5g)

2 scoops of protein powder mixed in with 1 serving of oatmeal
1 sliced banana
1 cup of regular or lactose free skim milk

1 serving Grow!

1 can tuna fish
1 cup of regular or lactose free skim milk
2 pieces of whole grain bread

8 egg whites
1 scoop of protein in 1 serving of oatmeal
1 slice of whole grain bread
1 piece of fat free cheese

2 cups of regular or lactose free skim milk
1 scoop protein
2 pieces of fruit

Here's a list of good carbs and protein for the protein plus carbohydrate meals:

Carbs: apples, oranges, oatmeal, all bran cereals, vegetables, mueslix, white pasta, flax bread, yams

Protein: chicken, whey, casein, turkey, egg whites, skim milk, tuna, cottage cheese

Protein plus fat meals (minimal carbs- <10g)

1 can salmon
1 scoop protein powder in water
1 tablespoon of concentrated fish oils

8-12 oz lean beef
Fat free cheese
1 tablespoon of olive oil

1 can tuna fish
1 scoop protein powder
1 tablespoon of concentrated fish oils

2 scoops protein powder in water
1 tablespoon flax oil

Here's a list of good fats and proteins for the protein plus fat meals:

Fats: Concentrated fish oils (PUFA-omega 3), flaxseed oil (PUFA-omega 3 and 6), olive oil (MUFA), canola oil (MUFA and PUFA), fat from nuts (MUFA and PUFA), fat from beef and eggs, animal fat (SFA)

Proteins: beef, salmon, whey, casein, turkey, whole eggs, pork

Individual Differences - Are You Sensitive?
In the last section I recommended splitting six daily meals up into about three protein and carb meals and about three protein and fat meals. This plan works well for most people in terms of maximizing muscle gain while minimizing fat gain when overfeeding. However, just like different training programs are necessary for different individuals, individual responses to nutrition are varied. So rather than telling you that there's one program for all, I hope to give you some tips so that you can determine which eating plan is best for you.

The factors governing your response to different nutritional intakes are pretty diverse, but one major factor I've been focusing on lately is insulin and glucose tolerance. In my mind, insulin sensitivity seems to be the most important factor dictating how the body will handle carbs. For those who have high insulin sensitivity, the body responds to carb intake with small insulin surges. Although the insulin surges are small, the cells are very responsive to that little amount of insulin and do a great job of becoming anabolic. Since lots of insulin can inhibit fat loss, the ideal scenario is to become very insulin sensitive so that only small amounts of insulin are required for anabolism and so that those small amounts of insulin don't prevent fat loss.

In my experience, individuals who have high insulin sensitivity maximize their muscle to fat ratio on diets that are high in carbs and lower in fat (50% carbs, 35% protein, 15% fat). Those with moderate insulin sensitivity tend to do best on diets that are more isocaloric (30% carbs, 40% protein, 30% fat). And those with poor insulin sensitivity do best on diets that are low in carbs (50% protein, 35% fat, 15% carbs).

So within the framework of this article, if you're highly insulin sensitive, more than three of your daily meals would be carb plus protein meals. If your insulin sensitivity isn't so great, more than three of your meals will be protein plus fat.

Insulin Sensitivity - I Want Your Blood
So the next question is how do you know if you're sensitive or not? Did you cry at the end of Titanic when Leonardo DiCaprio's character sank like a blue Freezer Pop into the North Atlantic? Well, there you go; you're sensitive. Me? I cried like a baby. Okay, okay, actually there are several methods.

The easiest thing to do is just think about what types of diets you respond to best. If low carb diets work great for you, then you're probably insulin insensitive. If you can eat a lot of carbs and not get fat then you're probably insulin sensitive. If you'd like something more concrete than that, read on.

Some experts use very simplistic recommendations for testing insulin sensitivity, methods I disagree with. For example, I've heard the statement that if you have an apple-shaped physique or if you get sleepy after a carb meal then you're insulin resistant (insensitive). In my opinion, these are way too non-specific and tell you very little about your nutrient needs or if you're making progress.

Instead, I prefer methods that, although more time consuming, are objective. The first is an oral glucose tolerance test. For this you need to go to your local pharmacy and purchase a glucometer, some glucose test strips, and a standard glucose beverage (ask your pharmacist about this because it has to be a specific kind. Pepsi won't work). Once you've got the goods, you'll plan your test.

After going at least 24 hours without exercise (do this test after a day off from training), you'll wake up in the morning (fasted at least 12 hours) and you'll take a blood sample from your finger tip. Write down this number. Then drink your glucose beverage and continue to take blood samples at 15, 30, 60, 90, and 120 minutes. Record all the numbers at each time point. Here's a little chart of what you should expect:

Normal Insulin Sensitivity and Glucose Tolerance Excellent Insulin Sensitivity and Glucose Tolerance
Fasted Blood Glucose <100mg/dl <70mg/dl
Peak Blood Glucose <180mg/dl at peak <130mg/dl
Time to Maximum Blood Glucose Level 30-60 minutes 15-30 minutes
Time Back to Fasted Glucose Level 30-60 minutes 60-90 minutes

The second test that I like to recommend for assessing insulin sensitivity is a fasted glucose and insulin test. For this you need to see your doctor. This test is simply a blood draw in the fasted state. It's easy to do. Just schedule an appointment, the nurse will do a single blood draw, and then the lab will measure the levels of insulin and glucose in your blood at this time. Using one of the following equations, you'll have both an insulin sensitivity score and a pancreatic responsiveness score:

Insulin Sensitivity =

Fasted Insulin (mU/L) / 22.5 x E to the X e-ln(Fasted Glucose (mmol/L))


Fasted Insulin (pmol/L) x (Fasted Glucose (mmol/L) / 135)

Pancreatic Beta Cell Function =

(20 x Fasted Insulin (mU/L)) / (Fasted Glucose (mmol/L)-3.5)


(3.33 x Fasted Insulin (pmol/L) / (Fasted Glucose (mmol/L)-3.5)

If you're not a math whiz or don't own a calculator, have your doctor do the math for you. Remember, you have to go to his office to get the test done in the first place. Once you have these values, compare your numbers to the following to see how sensitive you are:

Insulin Sensitivity
Lower score = more sensitive
Normal insulin sensitivity: score should be below 2
Excellent insulin sensitivity: score will be around 0.5

Pancreatic Beta Cell Function
Higher = better pancreatic function and insulin release
Normal pancreatic function: score should be about 100
Excellent pancreatic function: score will be above 200

Once you've collected these measures, you'll have a better indication of what type of diet you need to consume. I recommend doing these tests at least once every few months to see how your diet and training is impacting your insulin sensitivity.

Let's Get Sensitive!
So let's assume that you've done the tests mentioned above and you weren't happy with the results. You're insulin insensitive and, dammit, you don't like it! Well, instead of resigning yourself to a flabby midsection for the remainder of your days there are some things you can do to increase insulin sensitivity.

Both aerobic and resistance training greatly increase insulin sensitivity through a variety of mechanisms. So include both in your program. I've seen tremendous increases in insulin sensitivity with three to four intense weight training sessions per week lasting 1 to 1.5 hours per session. These sessions should be coupled with at least three or four aerobic sessions lasting 30 minutes per session. To really target insulin sensitivity, you'd want to perform weight training and cardio separately.

In addition, supplements like omega 3 fatty acids, fish oils, alpha-lipoic acid, and chromium can increase insulin sensitivity. I typically recommend starting out with 600 mg of alpha-lipoic acid (ALA) and concentrated fish oils containing a total of six to ten grams of DHA and EPA (the most active omega 3 fats in fish oils).

On the flip side, stimulants like ephedrine and caffeine can decrease insulin sensitivity due to their effects on metabolism. Furthermore, the low carb, high-fat diets that have become popular can also lead to decreased insulin sensitivity. That's why my trainees don't take stimulants or go on no-carb diets (unless they're dieting down for a show and then they'll do occasional no-carb diets every few months for a maximum of three weeks at a time).

So if your insulin sensitivity isn't ideal the first time you measure it, try the approaches I listed above. Then go back after a month or two and re-test. You'll see that the numbers look much better.

Individual Differences - Experimentation
Even though the last section will help you better define where you stand with the insulin issue, probably the most productive way of determining which eating program is best for you is to experiment on yourself. So for eight weeks, I encourage you to follow a 50% carb, 25% protein, and 15% fat diet that exceeds your energy needs (as determined in Part I of this article). During this time, record your gains in terms of muscle mass and fat mass. This will give you a muscle:fat ratio.

Then go back to your normal eating for eight weeks. After those eight weeks, try a new diet of 30% carbs, 40% protein, and 30% fat for eight more weeks. Again record the muscle:fat ratio.

After these 24 weeks you should know which type of diet is more effective for your body type. I know it seems like quite a bit of time to devote to figuring out your eating needs, but assuming that you've been training for years or plan to be training for years to come, 24 weeks is only a small period of time. In addition, the results of your efforts will be applicable for the rest of your life.

Remember, however, that when constructing your eating plan you must realize that just because you're following a diet with 50% carbs, 25% protein, and 15% fat or a diet 30% carbs, 40% protein, and 30% fat, that doesn't mean that each meal is made up of these proportions. In fact, the meals should not all be of these proportions because this will mean undesirable blood levels of fat, carbs, and insulin. So using the techniques I taught you during the meal combination section, design a plan that has different proportions of macronutrients during different meal times but that achieves the optimal proportions of (40-30-30 or 50-25-15) by the end of the day.

Here's a quick and dirty summary of the Massive Eating plan:

1) Read Part I and determine your daily caloric needs.

2) Eat meals consisting of fat and protein together with very little carbs. Also eat protein and carbs together, but with very little fat in those meals. Don't eat carbs by themselves and don't eat carbs with fat.

3) Determine your macronutrient ratios based on your level of insulin sensitivity. You can do this with the tests I explained or you can just try different diets consisting of different rations of protein, carbs and fat. If you're insulin insensitive you can do something about it by following my suggestions above.

Remember, if you aren't putting on muscle while following a good weight training program, then it's probably your diet that's to blame. With Massive Eating, your problem is solved, so no more excuses! If you ever find yourself making statements about your genetic limitations or your unreasonably fast metabolism, revisit these articles for a wake up call. "Limitations" can become challenges to work through or just weak excuses that keep you down.

Now, shouldn't you go get something to eat?
Massive Eating Reloaded, Part I
By John M Berardi

Three years ago John Berardi unleashed Massive Eating Part I and Part II, a diet designed to help you put on buckets of muscle while minimizing fat gain. This controversial eating plan called for much higher calories than most of us were used to. It also asked us to do something that seemed strange at the time: not eat a lot of carbs and fats together in the same meal.

Does it work? After three years of being guinea-pigged by thousands of T-Nation readers, we can answer that question with an enthusiastic heck yeah it does! Berardi is definitely on to something here.

Now, JB says it's time for some "upgrades." Can he improve upon an already effective diet? Can he really take this eating plan to the next level? Or should he have taken a tip from the movie The Matrix and stopped with the first one? Decide for yourself as Massive Eating gets reloaded!

Time to Reboot, Neo

The Massive Eating plan was designed for one reason: to help mass-obsessed trainees tackle three muscle building challenges. These challenges include:

1) Determining your energy/calorie needs. In Part I of the original plan, I presented a scientifically validated and systematic way to calculate your total energy needs. In other words, Part I teaches you how many calories you should be eating to grow.

2) Using a meal-combining strategy designed to increase muscle mass while minimizing fat gain. In Part II, I followed up with a feeding strategy that centered on the idea of eating protein with every meal. Then, with protein as the staple of each feeding, each meal is rounded out with either carbohydrate or fat, but not large amounts of both.

In other words, I suggested eating a few meals that contain protein and carbohydrate (P+C) and a few meals that contain protein and fat (P+F). Now, while I never suggested entirely eliminating fat from P+C meals and carbs from P+F meals, I noted that this plan is designed to minimize the occasions you combine lots of C and lots of F in the same meal.

3) Testing your insulin and glucose tolerance. I also suggested several easy strategies for testing your insulin sensitivity (fasted glucose and insulin analysis) and glucose tolerance (an oral glucose tolerance test). While these two measures give a good rough estimate of insulin sensitivity and glucose tolerance respectively, I must emphasize that they're in no way designed to replace medical diagnosis. There are comprehensive tests your doc must perform to diagnose insulin or glucose problems and if you suspect one, make an appointment right away.

With these three goals outlined, it’s now time to make a choice. You can take the "blue pill" (stop reading here) and be content with the original Massive Eating plan. Or, Neo, you can take the "red pill" (keep reading) and I’ll take you deep into the rabbit hole.

That’s right; choose the red pill and many of your old notions of how to use the Massive Eating plan may be destroyed. But rather than leaving you suspended, unaware, in a chamber of red protoplasm, I’ll replace the old with new information, info that'll help you reinforce the Zion that is your physique. The choice is yours.

The Red Pill

Good, in reading on you chose the red pill. It’s time for re-education. Hang on because the first part is a small taste of scientific theory. In other words, Kansas is going bye-bye.

To begin, the shelf-life of any article based on scientific information, including Massive Eating, is short. Why? Well, the answer is based on how scientists view experimental data and theory.

Remember Newton’s apple? If the story is true and Newton was sitting in an orchard one day when an apple bonked him on the head, that apple dropping is an example of one experimental data point. Therefore, in this accidental experiment, one experimental data point was presented and a theory (the theory of gravity) was inspired.

Now, if Newton had used only this one data point to justify his theory, people would've assumed the apple hitting him on the head had turned his brain to applesauce. Therefore, Newton followed up this one piece of experimental data with many more pieces. As the data accumulated, a comprehensive theory was put forth to explain all these data points and the force that governed them.

So what’s this got to do with today’s topic? Well, the point is that as experimental data are collected, theories are generated to explain these observations. But since the data keep coming even after the theories adequately explain prior data, the goal of the scientist is to reconcile the new experimental data and the theory.

In some cases, the new experimental data fit the theory quite well and the theory remains intact. Other times, the new experimental data are enough to cause a subtle shift in thinking and the theory changes a bit to accommodate the new ideas. Sometimes, the new data is so contradictory and compelling, it smashes the old theory to smithereens.

For those not interested in the ideas behind experimental data and theory, let me tie this all together by breaking it down real simple-like. Sometimes the new scientific data pulls out that high speed, Matrix-style Kung-Fu and beats down the old science, leaving it broken, battered, and obsolete. As a result, a new theory must emerge.


Although the original theory outlined in Massive Eating was fairly elegant and was very effective for thousands of athletes who tried it, I’ve been looking at new data and have been trying to reconcile these data with the Massive Eating theory. With these new data available, the old theory hasn’t exactly broken, however, it has adapted to accommodate these new observations.

As a result of this adaptation, this article was born. In it, I’ll be presenting two key ways to make the Massive Eating plan even more effective. First, I'll present a systematic and highly individual outcome-based system of increasing energy intake. Secondly, I'll be discussing a nutrient timing strategy that emphasizes the importance of the time dimension in feeding.

Massive Eating — The Second Version

As outlined in the original plan, many weight trainers fail at gaining muscle size for one simple reason: they underestimate how much food it actually takes to get massive. Wondering how much food that is again? If so, go back and do the calculations. Better yet, pay a visit to the Massive Eating Calorie Calculator. This little calculator will save your cerebral energy for more complex mental tasks like hacking into the Matrix.

Once you’ve done these calculations, gotten over the calorie shock, realized that I didn’t just make those numbers up but actually derived them from scientific studies , and come to grips with your impending grocery bill, it’s time to assimilate a piece of information new to this article: gradually increasing energy intake to reach your new calorie goals.

Ramping Up To Warp Speed

Over the years, many have wondered just how quickly they should increase their energy intake to meet their newly calculated requirements. For example, if an athlete is eating 2500kcal per day and Massive Eating tells him to eat 5000kcal, he often wonders whether he should simply begin eating 5000kcal right away or whether he should gradually increase his energy intake.

To answer the question, I’d like to refer you to an algorithm I call the Nutritional Individualization System. This algorithm is fundamental to your understanding of how to increase (or decrease) your energy intake. As you’ll see, when trying to gain muscle mass, the energy increases should be initiated very slowly.

Starting at the lower right hand corner, you’ll notice the box labeled "Follow Plan." At this point you can assume "Follow Plan" to mean following a baseline nutritional intake complete with good food choices, a moderate to high protein intake, good post-workout nutrition, and few meals that contain lots of carbohydrate and fat.

For a better idea of what this entails, "Follow Plan" means eating according to the seven rules laid out in my previous article, The Seven Habits of Highly Effective Nutritional Plans.

Following The Seven Habits

If you’re not currently eating in accordance with these seven habits (outlined below), be sure to begin doing so immediately:

1) Eat every two to three hours, no matter what. You should eat between five and eight meals per day.

2) Eat complete (containing all the essential amino acids) lean protein with each meal.

3) Eat fruits and/or vegetables with each food meal.

4) Ensure that most of your carbohydrate intake comes from fruits and vegetables. Exception: workout and post-workout drinks and meals.

5) Ensure that 25 to 35% of your energy intake comes from fat, with your fat intake split equally between saturates (animal fat), monounsaturates (olive oil), and polyunsaturates (flax oil, salmon oil).

6) Drink only non-calorie containing beverages, the best choices being water and green tea.

7) Eat mostly whole foods (except workout and post-workout drinks).

Here's the catch: you need to apply these habits without increasing total energy intake. Since your physiology can adapt to your current energy intake by increasing or decreasing your metabolism to match what you eat, your metabolism is probably slower than it should be. Therefore, you don’t want to start overloading your metabolism with hundreds to thousands of surplus calories right away. If you do, the only thing getting massive will be your gut. So start off by changing your intake to reflect the seven habits without actually altering your energy intake just yet.

Bi-Weekly Appraisal

Now, once you’ve adjusted your diet to conform to these seven practical habits, start thinking about using the Nutritional Individualization System to change your energy intake. Here’s how: After two weeks of following the new nutritional plan (same energy intake, different foods and nutrient timing), it’s time to assess your progress objectively (i.e. body weight and body fat measurements) and ask yourself whether you’ve accomplished your body composition goals — the "Reach Goals?" section of the chart above.

If the answer is "Yes", simply keep repeating the plan until, of course, the answer becomes "No". If the answer is "No", then if your goal is to increase muscle mass, you need to adjust the original plan by eating more food.

To begin the adjustment process you have to alter energy intake — calories. Start by adding 250kcal to your total energy intake each day. If you were eating 2500kcal per day, increase this number to 2750kcal per day. What kind of calories should you add in? We’ll get into that in Part II of the article; for now it’s important not to get ahead of ourselves so let’s stick with the actual energy manipulations.

After adding 250kcal into your diet, follow this adjustment for two weeks. At the end of the two weeks, it’s time for another reassessment of your goals. After recording body weight and measuring body fat, again ask yourself the question, "Reach Goals?" If the answer is "Yes", then keep repeating the plan as it now stands until the answer becomes "No". If the answer is "No", simply revisit the original plan, alter it by adding another 250kcal to the total energy intake, and reassess after another two weeks.

Looking over the system above, it seems pretty simple, right? Well, the hard part isn’t in the details, it’s in being patient enough to consistently follow the plan. If you can patiently follow this process systematically (i.e. make an adjustment, wait two weeks, reassess, adjust again) you'll find your patience is rewarded by steady progress and very few "unexpected" results. After all, by adjusting on a bi-weekly basis, there's very little risk of packing on too much fat when trying go gain mass or of losing too much muscle when trying to get lean.

And herein lies the beauty of the system: you can follow it right up until the time you reach your goal or until you decide to change it. Then you can follow it in your quest for a new goal!

Individual Responses May Vary

Remember, I am offering you the truth, nothing more.

— Morpheus

At this point you should notice that the Nutritional Individualization System is outcome-based. In other words, rather than telling you that one set of ideas is all you’ll ever need to make progress, or selecting some calorie number (even a well-validated scientific one) and sticking to it without deviation, an outcome-based system allows you to figure out the intake necessary for your body based on your own personal response. I can’t tell you exactly how many calories you need to eat; no one can because there are no calorie clairvoyants out there. Only you can figure this out.

But remember, the Massive Eating calculations shouldn’t be abandoned altogether. Several research studies have been done to generate the equations used in the Massive Eating Calculator, so these equations are well validated and provide a good starting point. However, individual responses will most likely vary.

Coaches know this phenomenon all too well. Once you’ve been exposed to a lot of athletes or trainees, what you’ll notice is that some individuals may actually begin to reach their goals of weight gain prior to hitting their calculated energy needs. Others may begin to gain when reaching the calories predicted by the calculator, and yet others will only begin to gain at energy intakes in excess of the predicted numbers. So don’t be surprised if your results do vary. This is to be expected!

In fact, this variance explains why I've included the box labeled "Details/Coaching" in the System of Nutritional Individualization. While about 90% or more of the people out there will benefit from using this straightforward system, there are individuals who need an even more highly individualized approach to reach their full potential. This is where highly detail-oriented coaching is required, as a good coach can provide two key benefits:

1) A good coach fast tracks your progress by helping you avoid mistakes that others like you have made in the past.

2) A good coach has seen countless individual anomalies and has systems in place to quickly solve the puzzles that arise from individual differences.

Become Your Own Architect

Using the system presented in this article, you should now have some of the tools necessary to step up and become your own Massive Eating architect, to design your own system.

To begin, simply calculate your approximate energy needs and then adjust your meal plan to follow the seven habits without changing your energy intake. Next, at your current energy intake, assess your body weight and body composition changes after two weeks. Finally, begin to increase or decrease your daily energy intake by 250kcal based on how your body is changing over the two-week time intervals.

At this point a number of critical questions most likely remain. Sit tight. Next week I'll be back with details on what type of macronutrients you should be ingesting as you make your 250kcal bi-weekly increases and I’ll present some new information on nutrient timing.

I didn't come here to tell you how this is going to end. I came here to tell you how it's going to begin… Where we go from there, is a choice I leave to you.

— Neo

Massive Eating Reloaded, Part II
By John M Berardi

Massive Eating Revolutions
In Part I, Mr. Anderson, I presented a systematic way of gradually increasing your energy intake using the "Seven Habits of Highly Effective Nutritional Programs" and the Science Link System of Nutritional Individualization. This process involved simply calculating your approximate energy needs to give you a goal to shoot for. You figure out how much energy you’re currently eating and then adjust your meal plan to follow the Seven Habits without changing this energy intake.

Next, at your current energy intake, you should assess your body weight and body composition after two weeks. Finally, you should begin to increase or decrease your daily energy intake by 250kcal based on how your body is changing over the two week time intervals.

While this system should make complete sense, I realize I did leave out a few critical details. So, this week it’s time to pull out the studies and answer some remaining questions you might have.

Macronutrient Combinations
In Massive Eating Part II, I presented a feeding strategy that centered on the idea of eating protein with every meal. With protein as the staple of each feeding, meals would be rounded out with either carbohydrate or fat, but not large amounts of both.

In other words, I suggested eating a few meals per day that contain protein and carbohydrate (P+C) and a few meals that contain protein and fat (P+F). While I never suggested entirely eliminating F from P+C meals and C from P+F meals, I noted that this plan is designed to minimize the occasions you combine lots of C and lots of F in the same meal.

There are two premises behind this strategy. The first is fat burning. High protein meals increase the thermic effect of feeding, increase fat oxidation, and reduce carbohydrate oxidation when compared to high carb meals. This effect persists during chronic high protein diets.

Even when a considerable amount of carbohydrate energy is included in such a diet (or in a single meal), it appears that protein-induced increases in the hormone glucagon can increase lipolysis (fat mobilization from adipose tissue) and subsequent fat oxidation (fat burning) during rest and exercise. While the hormone insulin is known to decrease lipolysis and fat oxidation, glucagon may, in some situations, provide a more powerful stimulus, promoting increased lipolysis and fat oxidation even while insulin is kicking around. Interesting, huh?

Therefore, by eating a higher protein diet, even with an appreciable amount of carbohydrate, you’ll end up burning more total fat while sparing muscle glycogen and providing amino acids for recovery and growth. Sound like a good strategy for simultaneous muscle gain and fat loss? You bet it is!

The second premise behind the combinations discussed above is insulin management. Since insulin is both a storage hormone (pushing nutrients into tissues like muscle, adipose and liver) and an anti-breakdown hormone (preventing the release of macromolecules from liver, muscle and adipose tissue), a chronic elevation in blood insulin — especially in the presence of carbohydrate and fat — will probably sabotage your attempts to get big while still looking good sans sweatshirt.

So by eating protein with every meal and avoiding high concentrations of insulin, glucose, and fat in the blood, it appears that body composition can be managed more easily. This isn't to say you won’t gain any fat. Instead, it’s suggesting that fat gain may be reduced. Combine this body fat management strategy with a high-energy intake and what do you get? Well, simultaneous muscle growth and fat loss might not be an urban legend after all!

Breaking the "Rules"
At this point, it’s time to add a few caveats to the original plan; upgrades, if you will. In the original articles I suggested minimizing C intake during P+F meals and minimizing F intake with P+C meals as an easy way to avoid the dreaded high glucose, insulin, and fat cocktail. However, this isn’t the only way to avoid this combo. Here are a few "rule breakers" which allow you to eat some types of C with your P+F meals:

1) Veggies, despite being carbohydrate, won't destroy your well-planned P+F meals. Vegetables are very low on the glycemic scale and won't promote a large insulin response. In fact, rather than just being "okay" during P+F meals, I suggest that they're essential as they're rich in micronutrients and can balance out the net acidity inherent in a high protein meal. For this reason, veggies should be ingested just about every meal.

2) Very low glycemic carbohydrates also can be ingested during P+F meals. Of course, I’ve written before about some low GI foods that actually provoke a big insulin response, so not all low GI foods are acceptable when combined with P+F meals. As a result, I typically reserve veggies, fruits, and beans as "Massive Eating Approved" during P+F meals.

However, even with these foods, don’t go overboard. The insulin response to a meal is dependent on both the type and the amount of total carbohydrate. Therefore some veggies and one piece of fruit might be occasionally okay during a P+F meal, but lots of veggies and three apples? Not so okay.

Nutrient Timing
The next step toward improving the Massive Eating meal plan is increasing your awareness of the concept of nutrient timing. Up until this point, you’ve been made aware of the Seven Habits, gradually increasing energy intake, using an outcome-based strategy for further increases, and avoiding meals high in C+P+F.

However, none of this information tells you when to eat your P+C and P+F meals. By staggering these meals appropriately, you can take advantage of what we know about how the body metabolizes and stores nutrients during specific times of the day, especially the post-exercise period.

For starters, the immediate post-exercise period is marked by a dramatic increase in insulin sensitivity, glucose tolerance, and glycogenic activity; this means that muscle glycogen re-synthesis rates are dramatically elevated during the immediate post-exercise period. If nutrition is delayed however, glycogen re-synthesis rates are reduced. Therefore, carbs during the immediate post-exercise period are a must. This should come as no surprise.

The addition of protein during the post-workout period shouldn’t be a shocker either. Increases in post-exercise protein intake can provide amino acids for increased protein synthesis, muscle repair, and muscle recovery. Also, since protein ingestion increases metabolic rate (with most of this increase coming from fat oxidation), the addition of protein to the post-workout meals may lead to losses in fat mass while the body is simultaneously increasing muscle mass.

That’s right, even in the face of a high post-exercise carbohydrate intake, the combination of protein and carbohydrate may promote increases in glycogen and protein synthesis (muscle anabolism) while, at the same time, promoting fat loss (fat catabolism). Since carbs are most likely to be stored and fat most likely to be oxidized after exercise anyway, the ingestion of a few P+C meals during this time can even further accelerate the muscle building anabolic processes while also accelerating the fat burning process.

From this discussion it should be pretty clear that a couple of P+C meals should be ingested during the few hours after your training session (whenever that might be). Not only will you get a superior anabolic response, but you’ll probably continue losing fat as well. According to new data from my lab, it may even be possible to promote full muscle glycogen recovery during the six hours after exercise. Therefore I recommend eating most of your daily carbs when your body’s carbohydrate storage capacity is highest — during the few hours (4-6 hours) post-exercise.

That’s post-exercise. During the remainder of the day, when insulin and glucose tolerance are lower and more carbohydrates are likely to be converted to lipids in the liver, sent to adipose tissue, or promote a larger (lipolysis decreasing) insulin response, P+F meals would be ingested. This further assists in the management of insulin and body composition while continuing to spare carbohydrate.

With your daily P+F meals, a good balance of fats should be ingested, with each type of dietary fat making up about one-third of your total daily intake (33% saturated fats, 33% monounsaturated fats, 33% polyunsaturated fats with 50% omega 3's and 50% omega 6's).

Using nutrient timing in this way will provide you a unique and effective strategy for consuming an abundant amount of micronutrient dense, glycogen-replenishing carbohydrates; metabolism altering, hormone-stimulating fats; and muscle building, amino acid rich proteins, while simultaneously preventing excessive hyperinsulinemia and excessive fat gain. All while you pack on slabs of freaky muscle mass!

Gradual Energy Increases
At this point, one component of the plan remains unaddressed — what macronutrients to include when it’s time to schedule your bi-weekly energy increase. Revisiting the idea that you’ll slowly be increasing energy intake every two weeks or so, it’s important to clarify both which meals should contain the extra energy (calories) and which macronutrients should make up this energy.

While personal insulin sensitivity and personal preferences can be important in deciding this, the system I use is relatively straightforward in most cases.

Step 1: Continue with Seven Habits.

Step 2: Increase carb energy (+250kcal) in workout and post-workout drinks.

Step 3: Increase carb energy (+250kcal) in first post-workout food meal.

Step 4: Add carb energy (+250kcal) in breakfast on workout days.

Step 5: Add fat energy (+250kcal) spread out through the day.

Step 6: Repeat Step 5.

This system leads to a net increase of 1250kcal over ten weeks. Now, if you’re starting with a very low energy diet, you may need to double up these numbers. And, of course, this is just a rough sketch of how I approach most clients. Since my approach is outcome-based, bi-weekly feedback gives me a better opportunity to fine-tune these recommendations.

The Massive Eating Reloaded Food Plan
What have we learned so far?

Adopt the Seven Habits without changing total energy intake.

Meals shouldn't contain high amounts of C and F simultaneously.

P+C meals should come during exercise and the post-exercise period.

Most of your daily C intake should be focused in and around the workout.

The remainder of your meals should be comprised of P+F.

Veggies, beans, and low GI fruits can be added to P+F meals in moderation.

Energy intake should be increased gradually rather than suddenly.

Every two weeks, you should assess your progress and alter energy intake if necessary.

Individual differences mean subtle modifications must be made for some people.

Using guidelines one through eight, I generated a sample meal plan. This plan represents a 4,000kcal diet and should be adapted in an outcome-based manner.

Sample Meal Plan
Meal 1 (P+F)

2 chicken sausage links

organic spinach

1 cup organic carrots

2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar

1 tablespoon flax oil

Meal 2 (P+F)

12 egg whites

1 slice regular cheese

chopped fresh veggies

1 tablespoon flaxseed oil

2 fish oil capsules

quarter cup walnuts

Meal 3 (P+F)

1 scoop of protein powder like Grow!

4 fish oil capsules

1 cup full fat organic yogurt

Meal 4 (P+F)

1 cup of 8-12 bean mix

4oz lean beef

organic spinach

1 cup organic carrots

2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar

Meal 5: During Workout (P+C)

1 serving of a recovery drink like Surge

Meal 6: Immediately After Workout (P+C)

1 serving of recovery drink like Surge

Meal 7: One Hour Post Workout (P+C)

1 cup fat free organic yogurt

1 scoop protein powder like Grow!

2 cups frozen berries

2.5 cups cereal

Meal 8 (P+C)

4 oz extra lean beef

organic spinach

1 cup organic carrots

2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar

1 piece fruit

2 slices unprocessed grain bread

This plan assumes an evening training session. If you train in the mornings, simply ingest meal one first, meals five through eight immediately after training, and meals two through four at the end of the day.

Is This The Ultimate Nutritional Program?
Commander Lock: Not everyone believes in what you do, Morpheus.

Morpheus: My beliefs do not require them to.

A quick note about this system and then I’ll close. Over the last three years, the original Massive Eating plan has been published in its entirety on at least 30 websites and in several languages. This information, combined with the thousands of testimonials I’ve received from readers and clients, tends to make me think that the plan works.

Of course, over the last three years, several critics have also emerged and have attempted to debunk the logic behind the plan. For the critics, I say this… I understand that the original Massive Eating plan isn't perfect (no human attempt at manipulating physiology is). The body is complex terrain and until we have it completely figured out (ha, ha) there will be no perfect meal plan. In the meantime, people need an internally consistent system that helps them achieve their goals. Massive Eating Reloaded does this.

Critics, criticize all you want, but until you come up with a better system, save your pseudo-intellectual wanking for those more interested in online debates than pushing heavy weights.

And this line closes another chapter on the Massive Eating plan. Massive Eating Reloaded is a unique plan in that it puts all the power in your own hands. There are no mysteries or magic tricks, only patience, discipline, consistency and progress.
A New View of Energy Balance
By Dr John Berardi

A Violent Uprising?

Arthur Schopenhauer, a preeminent 19th century philosopher, once said that truth isn’t always as easily accepted as we’d like it to be. Specifically, he stated:

"Truth always goes in 3 stages. First it is ridiculed, then violently opposed, and finally accepted as self-evident."

Now, in this article, I intend to introduce the Testosterone Nation to a new "truth." Well, maybe that’s not the best way of saying it. But, since saying that I intend to introduce the T-Nation to my best guess at a theoretical model designed to explain and predict a natural phenomenon will leave a few of you scratching your heads, let’s stick with calling it a new truth.

The "new truth" that I want to introduce you to today is a new view of the concept of energy balance. Although the ideas in this article will suggest that the current view of the energy balance equation offers limited explanatory and predictive power and, as a result, needs revisions, I don’t necessarily think that these ideas will stir uprisings, violent or otherwise. First of all, the concepts in this article are logical, supported by research, and have appeared in bits and pieces, albeit fragmented, elsewhere on this site in the work of myself and the Warrior Nerd, Dr Lonnie Lowery.

Second of all, I’m just not sure the concept of energy balance has the power to rouse violence. It always makes me chuckle when "experts" (in any field) parrot this Schopenhauer quotation, suggesting that the ridicule of their ideas actually somehow makes the ideas true! Looking back through history, many more ridiculed ideas have been shown to be false than have shown to be true. So rather than testing the ideas in this article against the barometer of ridicule and violent upheaval, let’s just test them against a much more objective standard—the available body of scientific and clinical evidence.

The Current View of Energy Balance
Let’s start out with a few pictures illustrating the current view of energy balance, or, at least, how most people view the relationship between "calories in" and "calories out."

The first image below represents how most people perceive the energy balance equation during weight maintenance. As the diagram represents, when "calories in" are equivalent to "calories out," body mass should remain constant.

The next image below represents the conventional view of the energy balance equation during weight gain. As the diagram represents, when "calories in" exceed "calories out" body mass should be gained.

The next image below represents the conventional view of the energy balance equation during weight loss. As the diagram represents, when "calories out" exceed "calories in," body mass should be lost.

Now, in looking at these pictures it’s important to understand exactly what they represent. These pictures represent a scientific model, or in other words, a mental picture, or idealization, based on physical concepts and aesthetic notions that account for what scientists see regarding a particular phenomenon. And not only does a scientific model, as described above, explain a particular phenomenon, it allows scientists to predict a future course for the phenomenon in question.

Therefore, if the energy balance model above (or as we understand it, based on the pictures) can consistently explain body composition changes seen in those altering their exercise and nutritional habits, as well as predict how any specific change in either variable will impact body composition in the future, it’s a valid model. If not, it’s invalid (incomplete, misunderstood, or completely wrong).

From that perspective, let’s take a few case studies of mine and see if the model above holds up under the explanatory and predictive scrutiny necessary for a scientific model to be valid.

Three Strikes and You’re Out
In order to support my contention that the above-mentioned model of energy balance (or as we understand it, based on the pictures) is inadequate; here are 3 case studies for your examination.

*Case Study #1:
National Level Cross Country Skier; Female - 20y

Net result — 12 weeks:

25lbs lost
-23lb fat
-2lbs lean
September 2002:
5’6" ; 160lb ; 22% fat
(125lb lean, 35lbs fat)

Exercise Expenditure:


Energy Intake:

15% protein
65% carbohydrate
20% fat
December 2002:
5’6" ; 135lb ; 9% fat
(123lb lean, 12lbs fat)

Exercise Expenditure:


Energy Intake:

35% protein
40% carbohydrate
25% fat

*Note that in case study #1, we increased energy intake by a whopping 1500 per day while energy expenditure remained the same. Since the athlete was weight stable in September—prior to hiring me—you might have expected her to have gained weight during our 12 week program. However, as you can see, she lost 25lbs (while preserving most of her muscle mass). Since the energy balance model above, as it appears, can’t explain this very interesting result, that’s one strike.

*Case Study #2:
Beginner Weight Lifter; Male — 23y

Net result — 8 weeks:

7lb weight loss
-19.5lb fat
+12.5lb lean
August 2003:
5’6" ; 180lb ; 30% fat
(126lb lean, 54lbs fat)

Exercise Expenditure:


Energy Intake:

21% protein
57% carbohydrate
22% fat
October 2003:
5’6" ; 173lb ; 20% body fat
(138.5lb lean, 34.5lbs fat)

Exercise Expenditure:


Energy Intake:

~2200 - 2400kcal/day
35 - 40% protein
30 - 35% carbohydrate
30 - 35% fat

*Notice that in case study #2, we increased energy intake by between 500 and 700 per day while increasing energy expenditure by about 400 per day. Again, since the lifter was weight stable in June, prior to hiring me, you might have expected him to have gained weight or at least remained weight stable during this 8 week program. However, as you can see, he lost 7 lbs. But that’s not the most interesting story. During the 8 weeks, he lost almost 20lbs of fat while gaining almost 13 lbs of lean mass. Since the energy balance model above, as it appears, can’t explain this very interesting result, that’s two strikes.

*Case Study #3:
Mixed Martial Arts Trainer; Male — 35y

Net results — 8 weeks:

8lb weight gain
-13.6 lb fat
+21.6 lb
June 2004:
5’10" ; 179lb ; 19% fat
(148.6lb lean, 30.4lbs fat)

Exercise Expenditure:


Energy Intake:

~1100 - 1500kcal/day
48% protein
25% carbohydrate
27% fat
August 2004:
5’10" ; 187lb ; 9% body fat
(170.2lb lean, 16.8lbs fat)

Exercise Expenditure:


Energy Intake:

~2400 - 2600kcal/day
26 - 38% protein
28 — 42% carbohydrate
22 — 34% fat

*Notice that in case study #3, we increased energy intake by between 1100 and 1300 per day while increasing energy expenditure by only about 300 per day. Again, since the lifter was weight stable in June, prior to hiring me, you might have expected him to have experienced a large gain in mass, both significant muscle and fat gains. However, as you can see, he gained 8 total lbs, having lost almost 14lbs of fat while gaining nearly 22lbs of lean mass.

While the energy balance equation might have predicted weight gain, it’s unlikely that it would have predicted the radical shift in body composition seen in this individual. Yet another strike against the current view of energy balance, as it appears.

Simplicity and Energy Balance
After looking at the case studies above, you might be wondering where the classic view went wrong. (You also might be wondering what these individuals were on in order to progress so quickly—well, actually, not one of them took steroids or any nutritional supplements more powerful than Low-Carb Grow! Surge, and fish oil).

Although scientists are still trying to work out what types of metabolic "uncoupling" are going on in order to produce results like those results above, it’s my belief that the current view of energy balance (depicted in the slides above) is just too simple to offer consistent explanatory and predictive power in the realm of body composition change. Below are the three main reasons I believe this to be true:

1. Calorie restriction or overfeeding (in the absence of other metabolic intervention like drugs, supplements, or intense exercise) is likely to produce equal losses is lean body mass and fat mass (w/restriction) or equal gains in lean body mass and fat mass (w/overfeeding). And even if these gains or losses aren’t necessarily equal, they still are in such a proportion that while body mass may be affected, individuals will only likely end up smaller or larger versions of the same shape. I call this the "body shape status quo".(1)

2. Most people assume too much simplicity by associating energy intake with calorie intake alone, and energy expenditure with exercise activity alone. This simplistic view can lead to false assumptions about what causes weight gain and weight loss.(2) Both sides of the equation are much more complex and it’s these interrelationships that are important to physique mastery.

3. Most people treat the energy intake and energy expenditure sides of the equation as independent. As a result, even if we could avoid reason #2 (the problem of simplicity) by matching energy intake against all the known forms of work that the body does in utilizing energy,

"…Obesity can arise in the absence of calorie over consumption. In addition, opposite models can show how obesity can be prevented by increasing expenditure to waste energy and stabilize body weight when challenged by hyperphagia (over consumption)". (3)

Factors Affecting Energy Balance
Now, when I say that most people assume too much simplicity by associating energy intake with calorie intake alone, and energy expenditure with exercise activity alone, I’m not shaking my finger at them. Obviously, of the factors playing into energy balance, these are the most readily modifiable. But, assuming they are the only factors playing into energy balance is what gets people into trouble.

In the diagram below, I’ve outlined all the factors that we currently know to impact both the energy intake and energy expenditure sides of the energy balance equation.

Notice one thing, though. I don’t mention hormones here. The reason: hormones don’t impact energy expenditure directly. Rather, they signal a change in one of the factors listed on the energy expenditure side of the equation (or they lead to an increased appetite, thus are two steps removed from affecting the energy intake side of the equation).

Obviously, this relationship is much more complex than most people make it out to be. Sure, on the energy intake side of the equation, things are fairly simple. The "calories in" are mostly affected by the efficiency of digestion (90-95% of energy in). And we can control this side by volitionally choosing how much we stuff in our mouths.

However, on the energy expenditure side, we’ve got three major "destinations" for our ingested energy; work, heat and storage. And all the energy coming in goes to one of those three destinations. From this perspective, although it seems a bit counterintuitive, we’re actually always in "energy balance" regardless of whether we’re gaining or losing weight. The energy taken in is always balanced by the energy going toward work, heat and storage.

The interesting part is that during periods of over- or under feeding, the amount of energy in can influence most of the factors on the energy out side.

Relationships Between Energy In and Energy Out
In order to add another touch of complexity to the discussion, as discussed above, most people treat the two sides of the energy balance equation as independent. They’re not. But don’t just take my word for it:

"The regulatory systems (of the body) control both energy input and output so that for a given steady state, compensatory changes on the input side are made if expenditure is challenged, or on the output side (expenditure or efficiency) if intake is challenged…Realizing human obesity is caused by the interaction of an obesigenic environment with a large number of susceptibility genes, successful treatment will require uncoupling of these compensatory mechanisms" (4).

"The critical issue in addressing the problem of alterations in body weight regulation is not intake or expenditure taken separately, but the adjustment of one to the other under ad libitum food intake conditions" (5).

In the end, as these scientists suggest, understanding the relationship between "energy in" and "energy out" requires a more complex energy balance model than the one most people currently picture in their minds.

And, as promised above, here’s my take on what this model should look like in order to more accurately reflect what’s going on with energy balance.

Dr. JB’s Energy Balance Model

Let’s walk through this model together.

First, energy is ingested, with 90-95% of it being digested and absorbed. Once this energy reaches the cells, the intake is "sensed" by the body and signals are sent to the brain (and other tissues) to manipulate energy expenditure. Here’s one way that energy intake is "sensed." (For a more detailed explanation, check out check out Part 1 of my "Hungry Hungry Hormone" article series.)

Based on the signals received, the brain either sends signals back to the body in order to increase hunger and metabolic efficiency while decreasing metabolism (if in a hypocaloric state), or in order to decrease hunger and metabolic efficiency while increasing metabolism (if in a hypercaloric state).

A complete understanding of this model leads us to realize that trying to manipulate total energy intake alone in order to alter body composition lets us down because the energy expenditure side of the equation quickly changes to accommodate intake conditions. And trying to manipulate the energy expenditure side of the equation in order to alter body composition lets us down because the energy intake side of the equation is signaled to change in order to match expenditure conditions. In the end, this entire system is in place to prevent significant deviations from a comfortable body composition homeostasis.

However, we all know that body mass and body composition can be altered reliably and homeostasis can be overcome to one degree or another. So, how do we manage to "outsmart" the body?

Well, various strategies can help to "uncouple" the relationships between energy intake and expenditure. I’ve detailed a few of them below.

Energy Uncoupling

Notice that there are two possible "uncoupling points" in this energy balance model. The first uncoupling point lies in the communication between energy sensing/brain signaling (the lower arrow) and the second lies in the communication between the brain and the body—particularly in the drive to eat and the drive to move (the upper arrow).

Think of what dieters face during those inevitable dieting stalemates that nearly all of us have experienced. Once energy is restricted, appetite is reduced and both exercise and non-exercise energy expenditure is reduced. In order to combat this inevitable metabolic slow-down, a few of the strategies illustrated above can be beneficial.

First, on the energy sensing/signaling end, periodic re-feeding, the use of carbohydrate or carbohydrate/protein drinks during exercise, and upregulation of thyroid function by nutritional supplements designed to provide raw materials for thyroid hormone manufacture or to stimulate the conversion of T4 to the more active T3 in the body can help keep the metabolic signal alive.

Secondly, on the brain to body end (the drives to eat and move), although signals are sent to increase food intake and decrease voluntary activity, these can be uncoupled by refusing to eat more in the face of increased hunger. Also, uncoupling can occur as a result of performing more exercise and non-exercise activity (including using strategies for increasing the cost of each activity — wearing an X-vest when walking, for example) in an attempt to maintain pre-diet energy expenditure.

If you’re looking for more tips for uncoupling the tight relationship between energy intake and energy expenditure, check out Dr Lonnie Lowery’s Losing Your Energy Balance series.

In addition, as most of you know, I believe that alterations in food type (what you eat) and food timing (when you eat) can also uncouple this relationship and improve both weight loss profile and muscle building profile.

For more on this, check out my" Lean Eatin’" articles — Part 1 and 2 — as well as this Appetite for Construction column. And if after reading these articles, you still don’t buy into the calore is not a calorie argument (which is closely related to the concepts presented in this article), check out this recent scientific paper by Buchholz and Schoeller (6). Finally, check out my review of my presentation at the 2004 SWIS Symposium for a more complete treatment of how to use the information presented in this article to impact fat loss.

In the end, I hope it’s evident that the traditional picture of energy balance is missing one key facet—the fact that energy intake and expenditure are tightly inter-related. Without understanding this relationship, some erroneous conclusions are regularly drawn by dieters and nutritionists, conclusions that prevent the types of success seen in the case studies discussed in this article. Now that you’re armed with this information, you’ll be better equipped to construct nutrition schedules designed to "outsmart" the body, uncoupling this relationship above, and losing fat (or gaining muscle) while others stagnate.

Foods That Make You Look Good Nekid

…and foods that make you look nasty even while wearin’ a parka!

by the editors of T-Nation.com

We’re about to tell you the real secret to building a lean, muscular physique. This dark secret has been guarded for over one hundred years by a secret society made up of magazine publishers and supplement manufacturers. We’re risking life and limb to share this secret with you. Are you ready? Okay, here goes:

The secret is, there is no secret.

Okay, so this isn’t really a secret; it’s more like a piece of wisdom you only develop after at least ten years of hard training and proper dieting. But the fact remains, there are no quick fixes and no miracle training programs.

If there is a real "secret" out there, it’s simply this: A great body results from the consistent application of smart training and proper eating. It’s a four step process: 1) train hard, 2) eat right, 3) use supplementation when necessary, and 4) repeat for many, many years.

Of these four factors, most people screw up when it comes to eating right. So, what the heck is "proper eating?" That depends on your goals. T-mag is full of different diets designed to fit whatever your physique goals may be. The basic differences in these diets are calorie requirements and macronutrient ratios. The funny thing is, bodybuilders tend to eat the same foods every day, regardless of what particular diet they’re using. They just switch around the amounts of protein, carbs and fat, and toy with their daily caloric intakes.

This seems strange to the "normal" Taco Bell eatin’ Oprah fans out there, but there’s a logical reason for this. Mainly, most of the food choices available at your local supermarket are crap! In fact, if there were such a thing as a bodybuilder’s grocery store, you wouldn’t need that much shelf space. Come on, do you really need 234 different kinds of breakfast cereal? No! In fact, I propose you don’t need any breakfast cereal!

The more you learn about what constitutes a good diet, the more you realize that 90% of what’s in the supermarket is garbage, a pure distraction from building the body you want.

With all this in mind, we called up a bunch of T-mag staffers like Cy Willson, Brock Strasser, Bill Roberts, John Berardi, John Koenig, and John Davies and asked them about their diets. With their help, we put together a list of the best and worst bodybuilding foods, plus a few that fall somewhere in the middle.

Pull up a chair and strap on a bib. Let’s dig in!

The Good Stuff

Old Fashioned Oatmeal — Make no mistake about it, oatmeal is the carb of choice for many bodybuilders. Even if you’re on a reduced carb diet, there’s nothing wrong with a serving of oatmeal (27g of carbs) to go along with your morning protein. Your body has been deprived of food all night, so some slow-acting carbs to replenish stores, plus some protein, make for a great bodybuilding breakfast.

Oatmeal has about three grams of natural unsaturated fats, five grams of protein, and two grams each of soluble and insoluble fiber. The fiber not only helps keep your pooper working properly, the soluble variety can help improve cholesterol levels, thus earning the American Heart Association’s "heart healthy" seal of approval.

Only buy oatmeal that lists "100% natural rolled oats" in the ingredients. That’s it! Oats should be the one and only ingredient. Do not purchase those individually packaged, flavored oatmeal products! (More on that in our "Bad Stuff" section.) Also, don’t screw up a good thing by adding milk and sugar. Eat your oatmeal like a man. And by the way, old fashioned oats cook up just fine in the microwave, no need to boil the water in a pot.

Oatmeal rocks. Make it a staple of your diet.

Fat Free Cottage Cheese — We hate the taste and texture of cottage cheese. Most of us also eat at least five pounds of those chunky curds a week. Our secret for making this stuff palatable? We blend it with protein powders and make puddings and thick shakes out of it. Why do we go through all that trouble? Easy, cottage cheese is a great source of casein, one of the best proteins for bodybuilders.

Casein gets props because of its slow digestion and absorption rates. A snack involving cottage cheese will provide a steady, slow paced release of amino acids into the bloodstream. Cottage cheese is also low in carbs. Combine that with its slow digesting protein and it makes an ideal bedtime snack to help prevent any possible nighttime catabolism (muscle wasting caused by an eight hour fast.)

You’ll want to stick to the fat free kind and avoid the creamed varieties because of their "bad" fat content. Sure, the fat free kind is a little bitter, but if you use it as a base for other foods like we do, then that doesn’t matter much. Besides, if you can bang out high rep squats or inject yourself with steroids, you can certainly eat cottage cheese, ya big wuss!

Tuna and Other Fish — You just can’t beat a high protein food that tastes like your girlfriend. (Okay, maybe we’ve just dated some skanky chicks.) If oatmeal is a staple carb source for bodybuilders, then tuna is a staple protein source. It’s cheap, low in fat, carb-free, and packs 13 grams of protein into just two ounces.

You can get it in cans or those new waterless "no-drain" packages, which are even more convenient (though a little more expensive.) You can also buy it packed in water or oil, the latter being very handy for those diets that require a lot of protein plus fat meals. Albacore tuna has 450 milligrams of omega-3 fatty acids per two ounce serving, even more if you’re lucky enough to get some of that yummy dolphin meat as a bonus!

We’ve heard rumors that there are other kinds of fish besides tuna, but they probably require cooking and only gay guys cook. (We’re kidding. Please stop typing those hate letters now.) Salmon is another good source and you can buy it in cans like tuna. Most of us think canned salmon is just plain nasty, but T-mag contributors John and Steve Berardi live off the stuff. That and breath mints.

However, there is a guy who runs a small company in California that makes one helluva’ canned fish. His name is Dave and his product is simply called Dave’s Albacore (or Dave’s Salmon, as the case may be). This guy sells unbleached albacore that’s hand caught, bled right at the boat, and never frozen. The stuff is packed in its own oils and damn if ain’t tasty! Trouble is, it’s pretty expensive. Six 6-ounce cans of albacore sell for about 18 bucks, and six 7 3/4 ounce cans of dee-licious salmon sell for almost 34 dollars. If fish is a staple of your healthy diet, though, it’s worth it.

You can check out his stuff at Davesalbacore.com.

Beef and Poultry — Let’s hear it for dead animal flesh, nature’s protein with feet! (Vegans love us, can’t ya tell?) This category includes beef, chicken, and turkey, although anything you can catch counts too. T-mag contributor Coach Davies even recommends large quantities of buffalo and ostrich to his athletes.

First, let’s hunker down on some juicy steak. Red meat got a bad rap back in the "ass-backwards 80’s" but things have started to swing in the other direction. The beef proponents were usually fat-free fanatics and animal rights activists who thought that eating bagels and soybeans all day was the enlightened path to health and thinness. They were wrong.

Beef is chocked full of protein and nutrients; it’s even been dubbed "nature’s multi-vitamin" by some. Sure, it has some fat, but fat ain’t bad in the right amounts. In fact, a very low fat diet can lead to low Testosterone levels. A proper amount of fat in your diet, even some saturated fat, is necessary and healthy.

Always go for steaks that have the words "round" or "loin" in the name. These are the leanest cuts. Avoid the fatty meats with the word "rib" in the name. For us, that simply means ordering sirloin instead of prime rib. At the grocery store, choose cuts that are over 90% lean and trim any excess fat. Beef jerky is good when you’re on the run, but avoid those processed and chemical-laden deli meats, along with bologna and franks.

White meat chicken and turkey are great too. Since they’re high in protein and carb-free, chicken breasts are one of bodybuilding’s most versatile foods. Eat ‘em up!

Eggs — Before the popularity of protein powders, bodybuilders relied largely on eggs to bump up their protein intake. A large egg has seven grams of protein, 80 calories, and a great BV (biological value).

Again, you may be wondering about the fat and cholesterol, and again I can tell you that the media has over-hyped the issues. Fact: cholesterol is the basic structure for all anabolic hormones. Without it, your body can't produce Testosterone. If you’re following a good diet and working out, a few whole eggs aren’t going to hurt you. Even the very conservative American Heart Association says it’s okay to have four whole eggs per week.

Still, most bodybuilders use egg whites in their meals with only one or two yolks thrown in. You can even buy pasteurized egg products with the yolks removed. Add a whole egg to a carton of egg substitute and you have a great bodybuilder omelet.

Just remember that despite how buff Rocky was, raw eggs suck, and we’re not talking about salmonella poisoning (although that risk does still exist to some extent despite improvements made by egg distributors over the last few years). According to a study found by John Berardi, the body can only utilize about half of the protein found in raw egg products. So not only are you risking getting sick, you’re wasting your money. Lesson: Cook your eggs!

Fruits and Veggies — There are about a hundred reasons that fruit can be a healthy part of a bodybuilder’s diet. Instead of going over them all again, we’ll just refer you to Cy Willson’s great article, The Forbidden Fruit. Bottom line: Fruit provides you with vitamins, minerals, phytochemicals, certain flavones, fiber and may even have some protein-sparing effects. Eat some fruit, but avoid most fruit juices. (More on that below.)

As for veggies, what can we say? Mom said to eat them and mom was right. There are some things out there that only nature can provide, and many of those goodies are packed into fruits and vegetables.

Protein Powders — We can hear some of the crybabies now, "Wait a minute, protein powder ain’t food! It’s a supplement!" We understand what you mean, but we consider quality protein powders and MRPs to be food. Look at the labels and you’ll see protein, fat, carbs, vitamins, and minerals. Sounds like food to us, just in a concentrated form.

Protein powders make the list because they’re nutrient rich, fast and convenient. They’ve truly revolutionized the bodybuilding industry and have allowed regular people with jobs and families to get the nutrition they need to add muscle. Try to work at least eight hours a day, train, spend time with friends and family and still fit in five or six nutritious, protein-packed meals a day. Hard to do, especially if you’re shooting for at least 1.5 grams of protein per pound of bodyweight. Protein powders fix that problem. Those low carb protein powders are especially good because you can use them in cutting and bulking diets.

The Okay Stuff

This category includes foods that are generally considered pretty good for the bodybuilder, but may not be perfect for everyone. Just play around with these foods and see how they work for you. We think most of these choices below lean toward the "good" side anyway.

Nuts and Natural Peanut Butter — Nuts make the "okay" list (instead of the "good" list) for one specific reason: they’re very calorically dense. For that reason, they’re often recommended to those supposed "hard gainers" out there. One ounce of peanuts (about 32 nuts to be precise) has 160 calories, eight grams of protein and five grams of carbs. Nuts are high in fat, but only a small part of that is saturated (two out of fourteen grams for peanuts.)

Now, since nuts are so calorically dense, you have to be careful. Just snacking on a can of party peanuts can quickly add a thousand calories to your daily intake. But overall, nuts make a good high fat, low carb food. (Cashews have the highest amount of carbs, about eight grams per serving, so be careful there.) They’re filling, portable and can be a healthy part of any diet.

We’re also a big fan of natural peanut butter, and yes, it has to be natural! Regular peanut butter is full of nasty stuff like corn syrup solids, hydrogenated oils, and sugar. The ingredients should read "peanuts and salt," period. And don’t be fooled by those reduced fat varieties. These are still full of unhealthy ingredients with the added benefit of soy protein! And if you’re still worried about the fat content, natural peanut butter allows you to pour off the excess oil before you stir and refrigerate it.

A piece of advice for those with fast metabolisms: drop two servings of natural PB into your protein shakes for a healthy and calorically dense "weight gainer." That’ll add 400 calories to your shake, with none of it coming from sugar.

Rice, Pasta, Potatoes, Yams, and Whole Grain Bread — We admit it. We put all these foods into the same category because of their carb content. These are good bodybuilding eats, but you carb sensitive types have to be careful with them.

Judging these foods strictly by their glycemic index, choose sweet potatoes (yams) over white Russet potatoes; whole wheat pasta over white pasta; and long grain brown rice over short grain or white rice (the stickier the rice, the higher the GI.) As for bread, avoid the highly processed white breads and go for multigrain dark bread. If it looks like it has wood chips baked into it, it’s good to go. Our personal favorite is called Heathnut, a grainy bread filled with nuts and seeds. Others prefer flax bread.

These foods are cool, just watch those carbs if you’re sensitive and be careful with toppings, especially with pasta and potatoes. Adding a fatty topping to a "carby" food is a recipe for rapid fat gain.

Milk and Yogurt — Milk is a two-faced monster. To some, it’s a cheap source of protein and the ultimate "weight gainer" for bony teenagers. Some old-timers even recommend drinking a gallon of whole milk per day! Suffice it to say, that would leave most of us quite fat. Much of the fat in whole milk falls in the "bad" category. Saturated fat mixed with a high sugar, high-carb food does not a healthy body make.

Also, somewhere around 10 to 20 percent of the population is lactose intolerant, meaning they can’t digest milk sugar. (There are even a few studies that show that non-whites, particularly Asians and blacks, have a much higher rate of lactose intolerance.) This can be helped some by using lactose-free milk and digestive aids. On the other hand, if you have no problems with lactose, skim milk can be a good source of protein. Still, unless you’re an extremely active teenager with the metabolism of a humming bird on ephedrine, we’d limit milk intake.

Yogurt is a better option in our opinion. It has many of the benefits of milk without most of the drawbacks. One of the really cool things about yogurt is the live active cultures it contains. Yep, we’re talking about bacteria, nice friendly bacteria that keep your digestion system running properly. (That’s why yogurt can help with both constipation and diarrhea.)

Some substances actually feed bacteria and as such, may even help you absorb all that protein you’re taking in. One in particular, called GDL, reduces bloating and gas and increases nitrogen retention. That means it’s a perfect addition to protein powders. The only American company that uses it, as far as we know, is Biotest in our Advanced Protein product.

Sauces and Spices — Sauces and spices make the "okay" list because some are good and some are bad. On the good side you have a plethora of calorie-free pepper sauces, Worcestershire sauce, and just about every herb and spice on the shelf. Many of those fancy mustards fall into this category too, but read the labels just in case. Our suggestions: Beer ‘N Brat horseradish mustard, Cajun Sunshine hot pepper sauce, Hell on the Red salsa, and McCormick herb chicken seasoning.

On the bad side is anything made with high fructose corn syrup (BBQ sauce, ketchup etc.), mayo, and most creamy salad dressings. Stick to something like fat free Miracle Whip if you must use mayo and if you just have to have some barbecue sauce on your chicken breasts, measure out one serving and spread thinly.

The Bad Stuff

We all visit the Dark Side on occasion, but if you want to be muscular and ripped, you’d better stay on the side of the Force 95% of the time. Here’s a list of foods that you’d better avoid if you want to take your shirt off in public again.

High Fat/High Carb Foods — The prototypical Western diet consists of foods that are both high in bad fats and high in carbs. In America, that diet has lead to a climbing rate of obesity and obesity-related diseases. It’s also lead to fat girls who insist on showing off their bellybutton rings by wearing cropped shirts, thus exposing blubbery parts of their bodies best left covered by ample amounts of clothing. The madness must be stopped!

Now, what were we talking about again? Oh yeah, fat and carb meals. John Berardi sums it up in his Massing Eating articles: "Meals with a high carbohydrate content in combination with high-fat meals can actually promote a synergistic insulin release when compared to the two alone. High fat with high-carb meals represent the worst possible case scenario. ….you’ll promote high blood levels of fats, carbs, and insulin."

What foods are the real bad boys here? Unfortunately, most of the really tasty ones! Except for a rare treat, it’s best to avoid fried foods, pizza, lasagna, pancakes, whole milk, ice cream, cookies, hamburgers, most Mexican food, most Chinese food, and a bunch of other delicious stuff. But you already knew that.

Our coveted "Most Evil Food Known to Man" award goes to the lowly glazed donut, who just barely beats out French fries and fettuccini alfredo.

Fruit Juice and Non-Diet Sodas — Repeat after us: fruit good, fruit juice bad. Cy "Mr. Big Britches" Willson sums it up best:

"Processed fruit juice is worthless in my opinion. Before I would’ve said to use it as a post-workout source of carbs, but with Biotest Surge, that isn't necessary and besides, it’s less efficient. Also, with whole fruit, you get so much more: more fiber, more phytochemicals (way more), more nutrients, etc. Plus, whole fruit is more filling.

"Fruit juice is an easy way to over-consume calories and increase body fat. Now remember, I'm talking about fruit juice concentrate. The processing is what reduces the amount of these special phytochemicals and other compounds. If you're going to consume juice, then you should make it yourself."

We also have a real problem with soft drinks, which Americans consume more of than water. Face it, Cokes are liquid candy and they’re designed especially to make you more thirsty. Add a little caffeine to get you addicted and help dehydrate you, and you have legal crack. Okay, we’re exaggerating just a bit, but we think excessive intake of soft drinks is in the same class as cigarettes when it comes to the destruction of your health and physique. Soda is the epitome of the empty calorie and void of anything your body needs. Okay, rant over.

What about diet sodas, you say? Well, we’d still rather see people drinking exactly what the body needs and wants — water — but diet sodas are okay if you don’t mind the artificial sweeteners and sodium. (And despite some of the internet rumors and media hype, both are fine if used in human quantities.)

Candy — Oh, come on! You know you’re not supposed to be eating candy, right?

Flavored Oatmeal — Go to your pantry right now and get out your oatmeal. If you took out a colorful box full of little kiddy packets of peaches ‘n cream oatmeal, do yourself a favor and kick that shit to the curb! As stated above, we think oatmeal is one the best carb sources for bodybuilders, but the flavored, prepackaged variety sucks.

Look at the ingredients, which are listed in order of quantity. Sugar is usually the second ingredient in these girly oatmeal packets. Then you have other crap like salt, hydrogenated vegetable oils, maltodextrin, and partially hydrogenated soybean oil.

To top it off, the oats used in flavored oatmeal are usually more finely ground than healthy, old fashioned oatmeal. This means the GI could be higher based on the extra processing. The list of ugly ingredients goes on and varies a little with flavoring, but the lesson is simple: don’t eat this stuff if you want to look good nekid.

White Bread, Bagels and Rice Cakes — It’s hard to believe, but back in the 80s and early 90s, diet "experts" told people to eat as much of this stuff as they wanted. Since rice cakes are fat free, you can’t get fat, right? Wrong! Now the country is full of overweight diabetics. Coincidence? I don’t think so!

One representative of the Glycemic Research Institute even stated that eating a plain rice cake stimulated fat storage like ten bowls of sugar. Bagels aren’t quite as bad but are best avoided. Don’t fool yourself into thinking you’re eating healthy by consuming these things.

Most Breakfast Cereals — To us, cold breakfast cereals, even many of the brands touted as "healthy," are pure physique killers. Cereal is breakfast candy, nothing more, nothing less. In fact, corn flakes have a GI rating even worse than white bread! And how about these cereals that give you "energy", like Grape Nuts? Yep, at 47 carbs per teeny tiny serving (and what bodybuilder would eat one serving anyway?), most people would be in an insulin-induced coma by lunch.

Here’s a piece of trivia for you. John Harvey Kellogg, the founder of Kellogg’s cereal, invented Corn Flakes to reduce sexual desire and curb the "epidemic" of masturbation. Besides "castrating" people with shitty, high-carb breakfast foods, Kellogg also recommended that small boys (not infants) be circumcised without anesthetic so they would forever associate the penis with pain. He also thought that women should have their clitorises treated with carbolic acid to prevent what he called "abnormal excitement." As a side note, Sylvester Graham invented the Graham Cracker believing it would also diminish male sexual desire.

Now tell me, do you really want to eat a food designed to make you a Testosterone-free eunuch?

All that said, there are a couple of good cereals out there, but not many. All Bran and Fiber One make decent oatmeal replacements, just eat some protein with them. All Bran Extra Fiber only has 50 calories a serving and 13 grams of fiber, almost four times as much as oatmeal!

Some "Fat Free" Snacks — Food manufacturers discovered a great trick back in the 80’s to fool people into buying their junk food. Since all fat was dubbed evil, food makers started abusing the "fat free" label. Basically, they took out the fat, added whopping amounts of sugar and called their products "healthy." Makers of snack foods are the worst culprits, with some even trying to sell fat free cookies, chocolate syrup, and solid sugar hard candies as health food simply because they have little or no fat. News flash: Sugar is the real enemy, not fat!

Alcohol — As connoisseurs of fine beers, we hate to see this one make the bad list. But let’s face the music, alcohol has a lot of empty calories, can inhibit fat loss, and in the fatal words of John "party pooper" Berardi, booze is one of the best Testosterone suppressors known to man!

Hey, have a beer or two once a week, but if you really care about what you look like and your overall progress in the gym, don’t drink to excess. For more info, read John’s "Big T" article here.

Soy protein — We won’t even try to do a better job than TC or Cy Willson when it comes to this topic. Read these two articles: Bad Protein and The Evils of Soy. If you can read those articles and still take in large quantities of soy, then you deserve that dwindling sperm count of yours!


Weight training and proper dieting don’t have to be as complicated as we sometimes make them. Lift, eat, rest, use supps when necessary to get you there quicker, and repeat. It’s that simple. Hopeful this article helps with the eating part.

Now go get your grub on!

Bad Protein
A Testosterone consumer report
by TC

In 1949, the US government released clouds of bacteria over San Francisco to literally see what would happen. No one, other than the government, knew about it. Luckily, only one person died, but 11 others were admitted to hospitals.

In 1952, the government released clouds of zinc cadmium sulfide into an elementary school population to see what would happen. No one died, at least until years later, when these same children, then adults, succumbed to "higher than would be expected" rates of cancer.

These same types of bacterial/chemical experiments continued until 1969.

The government is fond of conducting other such experiments, too. Back in 1932, 400 black Americans were injected with syphilis to see what would happen. Despite the availability of a cure for the disease, they were left untreated. The experiment ended in 1972. Similarly, 18 patients were unknowingly injected with plutonium in the '40s to, again, see what would happen. The list of atrocities is a little too long to document completely, but suffice it to say, US citizens have been used as unwitting guinea pigs too many times.

You'd think, too, that after World War II and the medical horrors unearthed at places like Auschwitz such things would never again happen. In fact, the lessons learned from the German concentration camps prompted the free world to adopt something called "the Nuremberg code" which, in essence, decreed that you need the victim's written consent before you can conduct experiments on him or her.

So much for the Nuremberg code.

Of course, most of us would probably categorize all of those events as ancient history and reason that now that it's the year 2000, such things could never happen again. Well, in my mind, something akin to those barbaric experiments is taking shape right now, although, at least on the surface, it seems a whole lot more innocuous than exposing a population to a cloud of pathogens.

The following blurbs from a big-city newspaper (San Diego Union, December 8, 1999) raised my hackles:

Certain soy products can now sport a heart-healthy label from the US Food and Drug Administration. The new claim will say "25 grams of soy protein a day, as part of a diet low in saturated fat and cholesterol, may reduce the risk of heart disease."

Further down in the same article came this ominous note:

In a study by Roper Starch Worldwide, 50% of adults say the new claim will lead them to eat more soy foods or to try them for the first time. The Roper poll found that consumers are most inclined to try soy burgers, soy flour, and soy protein bars.

Then, a couple of weeks later (San Diego Union, December 24, 1999), I read the following news items:

The US Department of Agriculture is proposing dropping its restrictions on how much soy can be used in meals. Under current rules, soy can only be a food additive and only in amounts less than 30%.

Other facts jumped out at me:

School officials are more likely to use it to increase the amount of soy that they blend into their standard fare, like burgers, tacos, etc.

Market research sponsored by the United Soybean Board indicated that 26 million children who participate in school lunch programs would accept soy products.

Nutritionists in the San Diego Unified School District, which serves meals to more than 100,000 children daily, already use soy to make hamburger patties, says Jane Boehrer, food services director.

In essence, soy is about to become very hot, so much so that you might have trouble avoiding it. Soy has also experienced a resurgence in the bodybuilding market. More and more products are touting soy's benefits, which include a superior PDCAAS (protein digestibility corrected amino acid score), the above-mentioned beneficial effects on cholesterol, improved thyroid function, and enhanced immune function.

I won't argue any of that. And, I'll go as far as to say that supplementing your diet with soy is a good idea...if you're either a female or a eunuch.

So do I really think that the government is conducting a mass experiment with the entire US population as its cadre of lab rats? And, more importantly, what did I mean by that last crack about females and eunuchs?

The answer to the first question is no in that I don't think that they're intentionally out to sabotage the endocrine status of males. I do, however, think that they're either ignoring the underlying problems associated with soy in the assumption that improved cardiovascular profiles are more important than maintaining a healthy hormonal profile.

Let me explain.

As many of you know, soy contains "healthy" amounts of compounds known as phytoestrogens, which are simply plant chemicals that mimic the action of animal estrogen. (For the purposes of this article, the term "estrogen" is intended as a generic term for any substance that exerts biological effects characteristic of estrogenic hormones such as estradiol.)

Now, phytoestrogens can affect mammalian cells in two ways that I know of?they can either bind to high-affinity, highly specific receptors in the cell nucleus which, in turn, attach to DNA regions of genes that lead to protein transcription, in effect acting as a real estrogen, or they can simply bind to these receptor sites and sit there, preventing real estrogen from getting its parking space and initiating transcription.

The first possible effect is highly undesirable if you're a male because estrogen, in addition to being the primary "female" hormone and responsible for a host of "feminizing" effects, also, in greatly simplified terms, makes it harder to put on muscle.

Now, it could be argued that yes, these phytoestrogens act as estrogen, but very weak estrogen. So if they prevent a "strong" estrogen from setting up shop on the receptor, you're ahead of the game. That's a good point, unless you have a low level of estrogen in the first place, which would mean that the weak activity of the weak estrogen itself can exceed whatever estrogen activity is being blocked, leading to a net increase.

The second possible effect can be a good one. If an inert substance, like a "friendly" phytochemical, prevents estrogen from binding to a receptor site and initiating protein transcription, you miss out on all of the negative effects of estrogen (possible increases in bodyfat, gynecomastia, and maybe even benign prostatic hypertrophy, or BPH).

Unfortunately, soy protein contains two rather significant "unfriendly" phytoestrogens, both of which appear to have estrogenic activity. They are called genistein and diadzein.

I maintain that male physique athletes?or, for that matter, virtually all males?should avoid taking in large amounts of soy protein on a regular basis. This holds true for school-age kids, too.

Obviously, the government has made it a lot more likely that the US population, including prepubescent and adolescent males, is going to be eating fairly significant amounts of soy protein. What will be the results of this "soy mania?"

I can't be sure?any more than the Y2K experts were sure of what would happen on January 1?but it could be increased feminization of our school-age children, increased feminization of our male adults and all the baggage that carries, and possibly even increased rates of infertility and an even more universal increase in BPH.

Am I a Chicken Little, or is there genuine cause for concern? The studies seem to back me up. Some point to the hint of estrogenic activity, while others point to more serious problems.

One in particular, using mice, found genistein (2.5 mg/kg of bodyweight for nine days) to result in reduced testicular and serum testosterone concentrations, in addition to a reduced amount of luteinizing hormone in the pituitary.(1) They concluded that genistein, when given to adult males, "induced typical estrogenic effects in doses comparable to those present in soy-based diets."

Another found that a soy and alfalfa-free diet with a 0.1% concentration of genistein decreased the rate of bodyweight gain in Sprague-Dawley rats and a marginal decrease in prostate weight.(2) (Although avoiding prostate hypertrophy is a good thing in adults, a decrease in prostate weight is indicative of feminizing effects.)

The scientists concluded that scientists who do endocrine toxicology studies should use phytoestrogen-free diets, lest the phytoestrogens interact with manmade chemicals and screw up the results.

Others found more serious problems. One cited "significant testicular cell death" when genistein was administered.(3) They noted that while sodium azide, a highly toxic chemical that's a potent vasodilator, killed testicular cells by inducing necrotic death, genistein killed them by inducing apoptoic death (in essence, fragmentation of the cells)?a small distinction, in my book. This sperm death may be a result of their inability to repair themselves. (4)

Much of the research is geared toward reproductive disorders in wild animals, captive animals, and the animal known as man. One study suggests that developmental and reproductive disorders in wild animals have been associated with a high exposure to environmental chemicals that also have estrogenic activity.(5) He conducted experiments in which he exposed rat endometrial cells to various compounds, including genistein and diadzein, and found them to indeed affect a certain protein that affected fertility.

Although Hopert's study pegged females, part of the reproductive problems might very well stem from the affects of phytoestrogens on the male, as the above studies suggest.

Similarly, a study of cheetahs in captive breeding programs, most of which ingest a commercial diet that includes hefty amounts of soy, suffered from infertility and a high incidence of liver disease. (6) The incidence of liver disease is, perhaps, the topic of another article.

There's been documented decline in human male sperm count in the last 50 years, and various theories have been bandied about as to its cause. Many scientists believe that it coincides with an increase in exposure to estrogen-like compounds. Although soy hasn't typically been a major component of diets in the western world, that may be about to change.

It's true that the Japanese and Chinese have long ingested soy and soy products and, quite obviously, they don't appear to suffer from infertility. Of course, they're probably not exposed to the incredible variety of environmental estrogens prevalent in the western world. All of the chemicals that we face each day, combined with the added burden of phytoestrogens from soy, might be enough to push us over the edge.

However, if I can get "unscientific" for a moment, practically everyone would agree that it's rare to see a particularly muscular Asian. Could the blame be ascribed to genetic factors, a difference in training methodologies, a difference in cultural priorities or, at least partly, a diet based on soy protein? I certainly don't know.

I don't know what the repercussions of the government's newly found love of soy will be, either. Will it lead to increased infertility? A society of young men who are more female than male? A lack of vigor that's indicative of reduced levels of testosterone?

Furthermore, I don't know the repercussions of the fitness industry's newfound love of soy. Will using soy proteins make it harder to put on muscle?

Again, I don't know. I certainly think that more research needs to be done before soy, like another evil of Pandora's nutritional box, is set loose upon the world.

I do know that I won't use soy protein powders or eat any soy products other than an occasional bowl of Miso soup. Furthermore, I know that I won't give my dog any dog foods that contain soy and, if I had children, I'd pack their lunch.

The Evils of Soy
by Cy Willson

We intially broke the "soy conspiracy" story back in issue #87 in an article titled Bad Protein. However, since it's such a potentially important story, and since new evidence has since surfaced, we figured it was a topic worth revisiting. Hence this article.

A little over a year ago, soy protein was the talk of the town. It was invited to all the parties, and it was even rumored to be having a little romantic fling with Jennifer Aniston from Friends (before she married Brad Pitt).

Likewise, the general media was touting it to be the best thing since sliced bread, or was that 100% stone ground wheat bread? Oh well. Anyhow, since the government gave soy a "thumbs up" to the public, stating that, "25 grams of soy protein per day, as part of a diet low in saturated fat and cholesterol, may reduce the risk of heart disease," people began to think that it was indeed the best protein around. After all, it was relatively high in quality, cheap, and healthy! What else could you want?

And to boot, a few studies arose from the muck to indicate that this protein may enhance anabolic hormone levels and may increase thyroid hormone levels while dieting. Sounds soooo good. Right? Well, after a good amount of both scientific and "real world" evidence has surfaced, it turns out that soy may not be so good after all. Especially for the male bodybuilder.

Sounds all too familiar to me. Reminds me of the evil-painted women that I and other hapless men have encountered in the past. Sure, she's beautiful, classy, smart, loaded, and best of all, horny! Nothing could be better in life. That is, until you start to discover that your wallet's missing 200 bucks and it now burns when you take a pee.

Ouch! Sounds pretty harsh, eh? Well, even so, this still isn't even close to what soy has done to us. I'll let you in on all of the evil and destructive things that soy can do to you, should you decide to consume it. Sadly though, we must be careful, as many companies are still adding this vile crud into protein formulas, bars, and meal replacements. Hopefully, after you hear what I have to say, you realize that soy shouldn't be consumed by male bodybuilders. Not even your worst enemy deserves the horrid effects that soy is capable of producing. Okay, enough rambling, let's get to it.

First though, before we begin, I just want to go over some quick review material, just to make sure we're all on the same page. The reason why soy is so bad basically boils down to the isoflavones that it contains. Two of these isoflavones, genistein and daidzein, are what cause the majority of negative effects seen with soy protein use.

These two villains bind readily to Estrogen Receptors. One such receptor is the Alpha receptor and the other, of course, is the Beta receptor. The Alpha receptor is the one generally associated with breast tumors, increased body fat, water retention, etc. The Beta receptor really isn't something to worry about. Anyhow, genistein and daidzein can bind rather well to the Alpha receptor.

No big deal right? Well, it might actually be somewhat beneficial if they didn't activate transcription to any significant degree, as this would be what's considered an anti-estrogenic action. In other words, it would be good if the compound binded to the site and didn't cause any growth, while preventing any naturally-produced estrogen from binding (the estrogen "parking spots" would already be filled). However, genistein does activate transcription to a significant degree after binding to the Alpha receptor and therefore will cause growth of tissues.(1,2,3)

Two of America's Most Wanted

Unfortunately, the two soy isoflavones that I mentioned previously can have numerous adverse effects on everything ranging from Testosterone production, thyroid production, muscle growth, and even health.

Let's consider soy's affects on T production first. The ability of soy protein to decrease Testosterone levels has been well demonstrated. One study displayed a 76% reduction of Testosterone production in men, after ingestion of soy protein over a brief period of time.(4) In yet another study, an inverse association was found between soy protein intake and Testosterone levels in Japanese men.(5)

Finally, in yet another study, using healthy adult males, a diet containing soy was compared to a diet that consisted of meat protein in terms of sex hormone concentrations. Well, after evaluation, Testosterone levels were significantly lower in the soy diet. Not only this, but the estimated amount of free Testosterone was 7% lower after the soy diet as well.(6)

Hey, mice didn't fare much better. Testosterone and LH were also lowered in mice consuming only the isoflavone genistein.(7)

The evidence seems pretty conclusive. There may, of course, be other factors, but it's enough to give one pause when considering whether or not he should add some soy to his next protein drink.

IGF, Thyroid, and the Girly Hormones

It's fairly clear that soy protein lowers testosterone levels. How does it affect estrogen and progesterone levels? You'd figure that genistein would at least reduce the activity of estrogen to some extent, since it binds at the same receptor site, right? Well, apparently not. It turns out that genistein does not inhibit the effects of estradiol and in fact has been demonstrated to exert an additive effect when combined with estradiol.(2,8)

This means that they don't interfere with one another and can both exert the same negative effects at the same time, thus, packing a double punch. Furthermore, genistein may potentially increase estradiol levels as well. It's thought that this may occur because genistein may deconjugate estrone in the gut and allow for it to reabsorb into the bloostream and convert to estradiol.(9)

It's possible that it may also exert some progestational activity.(10) Even worse is that the estrogenic activity of these phytoestrogens may have been underestimated in the past, as there is evidence that they may be much more potent in vivo as opposed to in vitro [test tube] studies.(11) Oh, and while we're still on the topic or hormones, soy protein has also been shown to decrease IGF-1 concentrations in male rats.(12) Oh, and I'd feel bad if I forgot to mention that it can lower T4 levels, too.(13)

Protecting Our Future

While planting a seed definitely isn't an immediate goal of mine, I'm sure there are plenty of guys out there who wish to pass on their superior genes. So, for these men, I urge you to not let your child or pregnant wife consume any products that contain soy. While there isn't concrete evidence as of yet, there's still enough to warrant some caution.

For instance, when female rats were fed genistein while pregnant, their pups weighed significantly less than the groups that weren't fed genistein.(14) Also, when young rats were given genistein, spermatogenesis decreased, as did body weight, testicle size, and possibly the urge to mate. Another study found similar results.(15,16)

Oh, and before I forget, genistein has been shown to cause testicular cells to die, in vitro at least.(17)

Healthy? I Think Not

The main reason why the government decided to "sponsor" soy protein was because it can supposedly reduce the risk of heart disease. However, the funny, or scary, thing is that soy has actually been shown to decrease HDL cholesterol.(18,19) HDL cholesterol is the good kind.

Furthermore, it's possible that the isoflavones can induce growth and malignancy of the prostate. This is because the ER Alpha is thought to be at least partially responsible for the induction of growth. So, in theory, since genistein can agonize the ER Alpha in much the same way as estradiol, then it could cause growth of the prostate.(20)

Okay, So What About my Muscles?

Okay, now let's move on to the important stuff. How good is soy protein in terms of increasing muscle growth? Well, when compared to casein, it was beaten in terms of both protein synthesis and breakdown.(21) So, we know that it can't match proteins like casein or whey. What else? Well, even though this might make you cringe, I feel obligated to tell you. Get this, genistein was shown to inhibit myoblast proliferation and fusion in a dose-dependent manner!

It decreased protein synthesis and inhibited protein accretion as a result. These results occurred even at the lowest dose. The authors concluded that if animals consume enough soy, those concentrations of genistein could potentially affect normal muscle growth and development.(22)

Now that's some frightening stuff! Okay, so things couldn't get any worse for soy, right? Well not only may it interfere with muscle growth, but it may screw with your pro-hormone usage. Why is that? Well, genistein may interfere with the conversion of 4-androstenediol to Testosterone, thus, reducing the effectiveness of your favorite supplement to a good degree! This happens because it interferes with the enzyme 3 Beta-HSD.(23)

The End?

Boy, I wish it were the end, but the fact is that many companies, with the encouragement of the government, will continue to add soy protein to their products. However, like many of us fringe-element weight lifters have for so many years, we'll stand by and endure while the rest of the world makes a big mistake.

The next thing you know, there will be a big story about how truly harmful this stuff is to the male. Hopefully it won't be too late. But hey, maybe I'm being a bit hypercritical here. I mean, who knows, this may actually be a good supplement for the average woman. They seem to think they need more estrogen and less muscle, so more power to 'em.

For those T-Vixens, however, stay away from it! Especially while pregnant. Anyhow, my advice for you would be to read every food and supplement label that you have to make sure that there isn't any soy within the product. I mean, hey, you'll be checking the macronutrient profile anyhow, so just skim on down to the ingredients from now on. Be careful, you'd be surprised by how many items have been tainted. For now, good luck and keep your eyes peeled.

The Missing Ingredient
A simple tool that will allow you to pack on the pounds
by Chris Shugart

People are strange. We’re probably the only life form on Earth that can hear without listening, a trait most prevalent among teenagers, politicians, and I’m sad to say, bodybuilders. For example, I remember when I first got into weight training and asked one of my coaches for advice. "Boy," he said through a lip full of Skoal, "you gotta eat big to get big!" I’d heard that before, of course, so I just replied, "Yeah, yeah, coach, but what about those new Cybergenics kits I read about, and that secret Bulgarian training system"….

See, my old coach gave me a great piece of advice and I just blew it off and went back to reading Muscle & Fiction. For years after, I never paid much attention to what I was shoving down my cakehole. I’d try every new training program that came along and every new "miracle" supplement that hit the shelves. But did I know how much protein I was getting per day? Nope. Calories? Nope.

I’m embarrassed to say how long it took me to realize that diet is just as important as training when it comes to adding muscle or losing fat. Suffice to say, once I finally listened to what I’d been hearing for years, my muscular weight shot up and my waist size went down.

Today I find myself on the other end of the problem. For example, the T-mag forum is always getting questions like this:

I’m trying to lose about 15 pounds of fat and hopefully add some muscle too. I’m thinking about using GBC training along with morning cardio six days a week. I’ll be taking an ECA stack and I’m thinking about adding T2 as well. What do you guys think? Will this get me shredded?

— Waldo

Okay, class, what is Waldo missing here? Diet, of course! The dude is trying lose some fat and maybe gain some muscle and is focusing on every aspect of the process except the most important one! When I see a post or e-mail like this I always respond with the same thing. I simply ask them to provide me with the number of calories and grams of macronutrients they get per day. Then, I tell them I’ll be glad to help them out once they give me that info.

Well, guess what? To date, I’ve never gotten a response back. Not one. Why not? Because the person asking the question has never bothered to count calories or grams of protein, carbs and fat. He or she is essentially playing ping pong in the dark.

If you fall into this category, then I want you to pay very close attention. I’m about to tell you what the missing ingredient is and save you years of frustration, sub-optimal gains, and slow progress. Ready?

Start keeping a food log today!

Sorry to be so blunt, but if you’re not willing to do this, then you’re lazy and deserve a less-than-ideal physique.

Still think you can get away with not keeping a food log? Well, maybe if you’re a genetic freak or a heavy steroid user, then perhaps you can. But even then, I think you’ll make even better progress if your start logging your food intake. Here are a few more reasons why you need to be doing this:

Guessing about things like protein intake is a lot like guessing at your bodyfat percentage. Most people screw it up if left to their own devices. It’s like that fat guy you know that’s "pretty sure" his body fat is around 12%. Uh-huh. Yeah right. And I’m "pretty sure" that Anna Kournikova wants me to be her ball boy.

Whenever I agree to help someone out with their diet and training, the first thing I do is insist they use a food log. (This even takes precedence over a training log.) I simply have them eat what they always eat, but read labels and record everything. They always say the same thing, "I can’t believe I was only getting 98 grams of protein per day!"

They assume that since they had some tuna for lunch and some protein powder after training that this has taken care of their protein requirements. And we all know what "ASSume" means, right?

2) Take a lesson from TC about minutia. People tend to focus on the very small, near inconsequential aspects of bodybuilding and forget about the big picture. They’re monitoring their lifting tempo in the gym with a freakin’ metronome, and yet their obliviously eating 78 grams of protein a day! Their priorities are out of whack!

Others research all the fat burners on the market, collect studies, try various products, yet they have no idea of how many actual calories they take in every day! See, they’re missing the big picture, not seeing the forest for the trees, looking at nipples and missing the whole tittie… well, you get the idea.

3) Accept this fact now: keeping a food log is a pain in the butt at first. Weighing, measuring, and reading labels can sometimes take longer than eating! That’s okay; it’s like college. Sure, it takes four years, but what’s four years compared to the rest of your life? What you learn from keeping a food log will be invaluable from this point on.

But don’t worry, it gets easier and I’m going to show you how to make it as painless as possible and even make the transition to "instinctive eating" where you won’t even need a food log.

4) Food logs make you aware of what you’re eating. It’s easy to overeat when you’re not paying attention to calories. When recording your intake, you don’t eat out of the container; instead you measure out servings of your cottage cheese or Ben & Jerry’s or whatever. Subsequently, you eat less.

This is one of the main reasons why all diets work to an extent. When you go from stuffing your face at random to paying at least some degree of attention to what you eat, you lose weight. Happens every time.

5) A food log will keep your willpower in check. This relates to the point above, but it goes the other direction. Some people have such strong willpower that they can easily not eat enough when dieting, which can lead to muscle loss. I know because I’m this way. Every time I experiment with a new diet I fall drastically short on calories the first couple of days. That’s because my willpower is stronger than my appetite, which isn’t always a good thing.

When I was playing around with a fat loss version of John Berardi’s "Massive Eating" diet, I fell 500 to 750 calories short the first two days. If I hadn’t been logging calories, I may not have noticed that and could’ve lost muscle or put the brakes on my metabolism. By day three I was right on target. The winter layer came off and the muscle stayed on.

6) Recording your food intake will keep you from plateauing prematurely. Attention scrawny guys who "can’t gain weight": I’ve never seen a person that couldn’t add at least twenty pounds of solid muscle with the right diet and training. Yep, even those genetically cursed, long-limbed types with metabolisms like furnaces can add twenty pounds of beef if they half-ass pay attention to what they’re doing. The problem is that most of these "hard gainers" aren’t eating as much as they think they are. Only by recording their food intake will they see their mistake.

Here’s another thing. There are three categories of regulars in the gym. First, there’s the guy who’s big and strong but is also pretty fat. Second, there’s the little guy who’s pretty muscular but still barely cracks 150 pounds. Sure, he has abs, but he looks like a twelve year old girl with his street clothes on. Finally, there’s the guy who’s got it all going on — size and cuts. I’ll give you one guess what separates these three types of people. Yep, the person with the complete package is usually the one keeping a food log or some type of nutrition journal.

Okay, you know the "why," now let’s get to the "how." In the words of Ian King, enough talk. Let’s do it!

The Lazy (or Busy) Man’s Guide to Food Logs

Our goal is to make this relatively painless and easy, and then transition you into a lean, mean sumbitch who doesn’t even need a stinkin’ food log. There are many ways to do this, of course, but this is the easiest method in my opinion and the way that I do it. Here we go:

Step #1: Get your s*#t together!

Here’s what you need: two legal pads, a calculator, a food scale (a cheap plastic one can be as little as $10 in most grocery stores), and a measuring cup.

Step #2: Set your goals.

Now you need to decide what your goals are. Yeah, yeah, gain tons of muscle and lose tons of fat at the same time. Meanwhile, back in the real world…. Listen, that just isn’t realistic for most people. Pick a primary goal — fat loss or muscle gain — and go from there.

Next, choose a diet based on your goal. The previous issues section of T-mag has dozens of them to choose from. Read our Diet Manifesto article for summaries and links to most of them.

The main thing you need to decide on is how many calories per day you’ll be consuming. There’re many ways to do this, from easy (multiply your bodyweight by a certain number, like 12 for example) to in-depth (see Part I of the Massive Eating diet). It doesn’t matter what formula you use because, honestly, it’s all a crap shoot in the end and you’ll have to adjust and re-adjust caloric intake as you go along. So just pick a formula and go with it. Weigh and test bodyfat one day per week and adjust from there, based on your results or lack thereof. I usually do mine every Saturday morning.

It sounds old fashioned, but the old "pound a week" rule is pretty good. You’ll probably be able to lose about a pound a week of fat without losing muscle. Just keep in mind that low carb diets cause a lot of initial fluid loss, so if you drop four pounds the first week, don’t panic. (If you drop four pounds the second week, then you need to up your daily caloric intake.) Also, those that need to lose a lot of weight can safely break the "one pound per week" rule. The fatter you are, the faster the initial fat loss. Still, be careful. Don’t mess up your metabolism by losing muscle along with the fat.

Step #3: Add up the calories and macros you get from your current supplement regimen.

Gather up all the supplements you’ll be using during your diet. Some will have caloric value, others won’t. Here’s an example from my own diet. Although I play around with a lot of supplements, there are a few I use every day regardless of my goals: fish oil capsules, Power Drive, Biotest Surge, protein powders and MRPs, and usually a fiber supplement since I admittedly don’t eat enough fruits and vegetables.

Add up everything you use, calculating all the macros and write this at the top of one of your legal pads. Mine looks like this:

Calories / Carbs / Protein / Fat
Surge 350/49/25/1.5
Fish oil (12 caps) 120/0/0/12
Power Drive 15/0/0/0
MRP (Grow!) 300/23/40/4
Fiber (Metamucil) 20/5/0/0
Advanced Protein (2 scoops) 220/4/40/4
Total 1025/81/105/21.5

Protein powder and MRP usage varies greatly according to my diet goals, so the above just represents what I used during my last fat loss diet. I had a daily MRP for breakfast and at night I had two scoops of Advanced Protein before bed. On a mass phase, the supplemental protein usage would go way up.

Surge was used on training days only (four days a week), so I just subtracted those numbers from non-training days. If I’m really watching my carbs, I’ll ditch the Metamucil and replace it with a plain, unflavored psyllium husk product. Also, keep in mind I used other products during this diet (MD6 for example), but they didn’t have any calories or anything so they weren’t logged.

Once you get all this figured out, you’ll save yourself a lot of time for the rest of the week or even for the duration of the diet phase. Just put those numbers at the top of your daily food chart and you’re done.

Step #4: Start logging regular food intake.

Now comes the tedious part. Start reading labels, measuring out serving sizes and weighing food where appropriate. The calculator is there to make it easy.

For each meal, calculate the numbers for each type of food and get a total for the meal. A low carb breakfast consisting of a chicken omelet may look like this:

Calories / Carbs / Protein / Fat
3 eggs 240/2/21/15
Fat free cheese 30/2/5/0
Chicken breast 130/2/27/3
A higher carb, lower fat breakfast might be oatmeal with half an MRP mixed into it after cooking.
Oatmeal 150 27 5 3
1/2 Grow! 150 12 20 2

You’ll notice I’m using the Massive Eating meal combining ideas where, basically, I try not to mix much fat and carbs in the same meal and always include protein. The above meals both fit the guidelines rather nicely.

Log every meal and snack like this. This is a pain, but it’s about to get easier, trust me. You may want to total everything up a couple of times during the day to see if you’re meeting your goals.

Step #5: Transfer the good stuff.

After the first few days, you’ll get a good idea of what and how much to include in each meal. Once you get a good combination you like, transfer that meal to the second legal pad. For example, if you really like that chicken omelet recipe above, write the totals for the meal (400 cals, 6g carbs, 53g protein, 18g fat) on the second legal pad under the heading "Chicken Omelet."

Now, the next time you have one, there’ll be no label reading or adding up macros. It’s all laid out for you. Do this with every meal and shake recipe you like. At night, try some chocolate Advanced Protein blended with natural peanut butter and maybe a little cottage cheese. If you like that concoction (my favorite, by the way), name the shake "Bedtime Shake" and transfer the totals to the second pad.

Like your MRP with bananas and strawberries in it? Then weigh the fruit, figure the calories and macros of the whole shake and write it on pad number two. The next time you make that shake, it’ll take 30 seconds instead of four minutes.

Note: For fruits and some meats, you may need to consult a nutrition book which will have all the numbers you’ll need. You can find these in any bookstore and maybe online.

After a few weeks of this, you’ll have dozens of meal ideas with everything pre-calculated. After doing several different types of diet, you’ll have meals planned that fit a variety of goals. If you want, you can even type them up and label them "Low Carb/High Fat Meals," "High Carb/Low Fat Meals," "T-Dawg Diet Meals," etc. Some have gone as far as laminating them and keeping them handy in a binder. Not a bad idea (though I’ve never been that anal.)

Step #6: Simplify.

After several weeks and couple of different diets you’re getting to be an expert when it comes to how your body reacts to calorie manipulation, fat, carbs, etc. You’ve probably learned how carb sensitive you are and how well you can oxidize fats. You now have a pretty good idea of your maintenance intake of calories and how much or how little you can eat to gain or lose weight. Now it’s time to simplify.

The first thing I want you to do is stop counting fat grams. Unless you’re stuck in 1980s, you know that fat doesn’t necessarily make you fat and it can even be good for you, especially if you’re trying to put on muscle. (Very low fat diets can lower your Testosterone levels.) So as long as you’re eating pretty much the same foods each week (and most of us do when on a diet), then forget about fat grams.

Personally, I try to get mostly "good" fats from flax oil, Udo’s Choice, fish oil, natural peanut butter etc., but a little saturated fat from beef and eggs is fine. You may notice that I’ll eat whole eggs but use fat free cheese. Seems odd, but this is just how I keep the "bad" fats under control. Basically, with dietary fat, I don’t sweat the details. Neither should you.

The next step in the simplification process is to stop counting grams of protein. Yep, you read that right. First, make sure you’re meeting or exceeding your protein goals. For dieting, you’ll want at least a gram of protein per pound of bodyweight (maybe a bit less if on a keto diet) and for a mass phase you’ll need anywhere from 1.5 to 2 grams per pound.

So let’s say you’re dieting and weight 210. You’ll want a minimum of 210g of protein per day. If, for the last several weeks, you’ve always reached that mark or exceeded it, then why bother logging it anymore? (Just don’t radically change what you eat every day.) As an example, during my last Androsol cycle my goal was to take in 350g of protein each day. The first day I fell short, but the rest of the week I exceeded my target number. So during the second week, I stopped logging protein intake.

Since I’m pretty sensitive to carbs, I always keep logging calories and carbohydrates. But you could also apply the above ideas and gradually stop logging them as well. Just use your menus from legal pad #2 and you’ll do fine.

Step #7: The modified free day.

Even though this method of food logging gets easy towards the end, it’s still a pain to do every single day. Break the monotony with one free day or a free meal per week.

There are two opposing theories on the free day concept. One side says to go all out and satisfy every craving you’ve had all week. If that means pizza and beer, then great, have pizza and beer and make sure it’s an all-you-can-eat buffet. There’s no way to count calories anyway, so why bother? A free day may be one step back, but the rest of the week will be six steps forward. Plus, you stay sane and will be more likely to stick with your plan the rest of the week.

The other side of the argument, with many of these ideas coming from Bill Roberts, says that you should also pay attention to your weekly caloric intake. Pigging out all day Saturday and getting 12,000 calories may negate all those 2300 calorie days you had during the week, thus royally screwing up your diet. Sure, eat a little more one or two days per week, but be in control and eat healthy.

Who’s right? I think it depends on the individual. Some can get away with a weekend Roman feast, while others are better off having a modified free meal. When I’m trying to lose fat as fast (and as safely) as possible, I choose the latter. Sure, I’ll go to a nice restaurant and eat a good meal, but I’ll pass on dessert and have salad instead of fried appetizers or bread. If I decide to reward myself with some Ben & Jerry’s "Phish Food," I’ll buy one of those little containers because I know if I buy a gallon, I’ll eat a gallon!

Just experiment with the weekly free day or free meal and see what works best for you.

Step #8: Transition to instinctive eating.

I don’t like the words "instinctive eating" all that much. After all, as I type this my instincts tell me that I could be missing a key nutrient in my diet, and the only way to get that very important nutrient is to consume large quantities of chimichangas, that wonderful Tex-Mex treat. (Hint: Tex-Mex means you take regular Mexican food and deep fry it. Yee haw!) Something tells me my instincts may be lying to me.

Instinctive eating still takes self-control, but once you’ve kept a food log for a long period of time, you start to develop that sense of control. These days, I still use a food log about half the time, especially when I’m trying a new diet. The rest of the time I eat what I feel I need at that stage of my plan. If the mirror and scale tell me I’m on the right track, then I don’t sweat the food log.

If my progress is waning or nothing is happening, I bust out the legal pads and go to work. Same goes if I catch myself slipping. I love a good bulking diet, but honestly I can go overboard if I don’t watch myself. Recording food intake for a couple of days keeps me on track.


It took me about five years to listen to what I’d been hearing since I started weight training. The first five years you train should be your most productive because of the fabled "newbie gains" and the fact that you’re starting out very far from any genetic limitation.

The funny thing is, I’ve made my best gains in the last five years of training, which just happen to coincide with how long I’ve been keeping a food log. Those gains came from informed training decisions, better supplements, and most importantly, accepting the fact that food is the ultimate anabolic tool. Keeping a nutrition log is your key to using it.

It’s Not About the Food — Part 1
Nutritional Back-Up Strategies For The Daily Grind
by Dr. John M Berardi

"I had learned what it means to ride the Tour de France. It's not about the bike. It's a metaphor for life...During our lives we're faced with so many different elements as well, we experience so many setbacks, and fight such a hand-to-hand battle with failure, head down in the rain, just trying to stay upright and to have a little hope...It is a test."

If you’re a fan of Lance Armstrong, you’ve probably seen this before. If not, you might need a little introduction.

You see, Lance Armstrong was a good cyclist, competing in the Tour de France and placing reasonably well yet never emerging as a dominant force in the sport; certainly never developing as a threat for an overall victory in the world’s biggest cycling event.

Then Lance got cancer.

And after battling back from almost certain death, Lance changed. Now, six Tour de France overall victories later, Lance has cemented his place among the greatest cyclists in history. And the sport of cycling has changed.

Ask Lance why he went from an above average professional cyclist to perhaps the greatest the sport has ever seen and he doesn’t hesitate to offer a response:

"If you ever get a second chance in life for something, you’ve got to go all the way."

By self admission, Lance realized that his sport is about something more than the carbohydrate drinks, the hours spent on the bike, and the tights. It’s about perseverance in the midst of unknowns. The Tour "poses every conceivable element to the rider, and more: cold, heat, mountains, plains, ruts, flat tires, high winds, unspeakably bad luck, unthinkable beauty, yawning senselessness, and above all a great, deep self-questioning."

And, in my humble opinion, amid the many unknowns faced and the many lessons learned, this one lesson emerges as one of the most important — Lance wins tours because he, better than anyone else, has learned how to display adaptability.

Lance now knows how to practice for adverse conditions and how adapt to these varied conditions rather than letting them become setbacks. It’s raining — no problem, he’s ridden this course before in the rain. Heck, he’s probably even ridden it in the snow. The other riders see the rain as a huge disadvantage; not Lance. Lance owns both the sunshine and the rain.

Perhaps cancer taught him how important this combination of preparation and adaptability is to success. Who knows? But, if we’re smart, we’ll stand on Lance’s shoulders so that we can reach even loftier heights. Whether we’re trying to win the Tour de France, whether we’re trying to advance in our careers, or whether we’re just trying to improve our health through better nutritional habits, preparation and adaptability are the keys.

In this two part article series, I’ll show you how to apply the lessons of preparation and adaptability in order to win your own nutritional Tour de France. From the lessons contained herein, you’ll learn that sometimes, good nutrition has very little to do with "the food." It has more to do with how you go about preparing for the nutritional struggles you’ll face and adapting in the face of them.

It’s Not About The Food

Ok, so let’s assume myself and the mad scientists down at the Science Link laboratory have come up with the ultimate DNA test to determine exactly how many calories, what food choices, and what supplements you’ll need to prevent disease, improve health, gain muscle, lose fat and become a better athlete. In other words, what if we could easily give every man, woman and child in the world the "perfect nutritional plan"?

They wouldn’t follow it.

Don’t believe me? Think about this — how often have you seen people diagnosed with heart disease and/or cancer yet fail to take the necessary steps to improve their lifestyles. They say they want to "eat better". They see doctors and nutritionists who tell them how to "eat better" (which foods to eat). Yet they end up feeling guilty for not "eating better".

Why is it so hard for them to make the change?

Well, unless they really don’t want to change, the two biggest impediments to their success are:

1.Their habits — or their ingrained set of day to day food and activity related actions — remain poor because they don’t have a conscious, logical plan for changing them.

2.They aren’t ready for the tough times. Things might be getting better; then the tough times hit. They "get busy". Eating well becomes inconvenient. No one else supports their decision to make a change. When these inevitable circumstances come up, they bail.

Habits are more powerful than momentary desire. Habits are more powerful than information. Habits are more powerful than guilt. And only a concerted, conscious effort to override habits will lead to success

So, in some respects, better nutrition is more about altering lifestyle habits and less about the food. Sure, you’ve gotta know which foods are good to eat and plan to eat them. If you’re not quite sure what those foods are, visit my Lean Eatin’ article series (Parts 1 and 2) as well as my 7 Habits article so we can clear that up. But, as GI Joe once said, knowing is half the battle. Even if you know what’s good and expect to eat good foods, if the good foods aren’t around when it’s time to eat, you’re doomed. In other words, preparation is the other half.

Food Preparation Strategies

The first step in making sure you’re prepared for your nutritional Tour de France is having a good meal plan tailored to your own personal goals and your own unique physiology.

If you’ve already got a plan and you’re confident it’s a good one, the ideas in this article will help you adhere to that plan.

If you’re looking for a bit more and would like to know either how I’d personally go about generating your plan or if you’d like to test your plan against the Science Link System, invest a few bucks and pick up a copy of my new book entitled Tailor Made Nutrition. This one-of-a-kind book will walk you through the process of starting with a "one size fits all" nutritional plan and cutting and shaping this initial plan to fit your own unique physiology, schedule and training/nutrition preferences. In doing so you’ll take a lesson from the pages of master suit tailors who turn ordinary, off the rack suits into the finest "bespoke" suits in the world.

Once you’ve got your plan, it’s important to understand that the plan itself will be about as life-changing as a blank sheet of paper — should you not follow it with honesty and consistency. It’s of absolutely no use if it sits, unused, stuck to your fridge with one of those magnetic poetry sets or a Simpson’s commemorative magnet collection. So, beyond program design, you’ve next gotta find ways to ensure that you can consistently eat all the meals on your plan.

Ever wake up late for work and have to rush off without even a shower, not to mention eating breakfast? Ever have to work through lunch and skip hitting the local restaurant at which you get your daily chicken salads? Ever get invited to lunch by your boss and consider it rude to skip the invitation in favor of microwaved lean ground beef and quinoa?

Each of these unexpected scenarios presents a unique nutritional challenge. How you respond to this challenge will determine how your body responds to your training. How you respond to the challenge will either support your quest for optimal health and body composition or throw up a big roadblock.

So my advice to you is this—plan for the unplanned. That’s a mind bender, eh? But it need not be. One way of planning for the unplanned is to always have meals with you that conform to your tailor made meal plan — just in case. This way, although you might have planned on eating the Atkins Approved Fire Roasted Salmon dish at TGI Fridays for lunch, if your jackass boss calls an emergency meeting during your lunch hour, you can produce a 7 Habits conforming meal while your office mates go hungry.

Alright, I admit that this may take a bit more planning that you’re accustomed to. But, as we’ve stated in our No Nonsense Nutrition DVD, most people overvalue the necessity for a plan and undervalue their adherence to the plan. So it’s time to buckle down, honestly appraise where you’re falling short (the plan or the adherence) and make the necessary improvements. Using the following 3 strategies, the adherence part will be easier than you think.

Strategy #1 — The Sunday Ritual

No, no, this ritual doesn’t include lamb’s blood or any special Kool Aid. The Science Link Sunday Ritual is performed by setting aside 3 hours or so every Sunday (any day of the week will do but Sunday is easiest for most) to write out your menu for the week, shop for the week, and prepare your meals for the week.

First, on your Ritual day, sit down and come up with your meal plan for the week. If you’ve heeded my advice above and used the resources laid out in my Tailor Made Nutrition book, it should only take a few minutes to lay out 7 different breakfast meals, 7 different lunch meals, 7 different dinner meals, and 2-3 additional snacks for each day.

Next, once the meal plan is laid out, add up exactly how much of each food you’ll need over the 7 days and go pick those foods up at the grocery store. This need not be a huge project. If you’re interested in the best way of doing this, check out my No Nonsense Nutrition DVD as professional fitness competitor (and former Science Link client) Stephanie Worsfold and I walk you through the grocery store in 30 minutes, gathering along the way all necessary groceries for that week and nothing more.

Finally, once you’ve got all those groceries home, it’s time to start cooking for the week. Some people choose to prepare all their meals for the week on Sundays (excluding shakes). Others prefer to figure out which meals will be easy to cook just prior to meal time and save them for later, preparing only the meals that will need to be eaten during work hours or during busy times of the day when food prep becomes difficult.

For example, some people can easily prepare breakfast meals and dinner meals on demand by setting aside a few minutes each day for meal preparation. Others have a significant other who can prepare these meals for them. Either way, these meals can probably wait until they are needed. However the lunches, 2-3 daytime snacks, and workout shakes usually present a problem for the unprepared so they should be made in advance. Sunday is a good time for most to do this preparation.

So, if it suits your lifestyle, use the Sunday ritual to get these meals ready for the week. Cook all the meat, chop all the vegetables, measure out all the yogurt and/or cottage cheese, and distribute all the powders. Have them ready and set aside so that you can grab them in the morning and bring them with you regardless of what your day or your boss holds in store for you.

Strategy #2 — The Breakfast Ritual

Rather than preparing all their food for the week on a single day, some people prefer to do a little food preparation each day. That’s what the Breakfast Ritual is for.

Using the Breakfast Ritual, simply perform all your cooking for the day each morning. Since you’ve gotta prepare breakfast anyway, make sure you’ve got a couple of meals going while breakfast is being prepared.

Again, this need not be a huge production. If you’re interested in the best way of doing this, check out my No Nonsense Nutrition DVD as former client Andria Bulfon and I demonstrate how to prepare a 4000kcal diet in a flash (max prep time is 30 minutes).

Of course, as with the Sunday ritual, think about what your day will hold under both the best conditions (i.e. home from work early and a relaxing evening ahead) and the worst (i.e. unexpected deadline, all nighter at work, long day at work and soccer practice for the kids) and act like a boy scout — be prepared.

One great strategy for being prepared is to bring both the meals you expect to eat as well as some "back-up" options, just in case. So, as discussed earlier, even if you expect to grab lunch at TGI Fridays and have dinner at home, bring with you both a lunch alternative and a dinner alternative, just in case something else comes up. If you don’t need the meals, that’s fine — just eat them another day. But if you do need them, you can chow down without skipping a meal or choosing a poor alternative.

Here’s another idea for you. If you don’t want to bring several full meals that you’re unlikely to eat, another great option is to bring some homemade snacks with you. My good friend Dr. John Williams came up with these great recipes and they are a fantastic alternative to the mostly crappy, store bought, sugar laden, artificial ingredient containin’, protein bars.

Granola Bars

2 cups raw oat bran
2 cups rolled oats
1 cup whole wheat flour
1 cup egg whites
1 cup nonfat milk
2 cups chocolate Low-Carb Grow! (or generic whey protein powder )
1/2 cup granulated Splenda
5-6 scoops maltodextrin (180 grams)
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 tablespoons oil (canola or olive)

Mix it all together in a big bowl, then spread it out on a large nonstick cooking tray. Add some cooking spray, or wipe a little olive oil on the pan with a paper towel. Bake for 25-30 minutes @ 350 degrees. Cut into 10 pieces. (If you use Low-Carb Grow!, your bars will have a more natural flavor but keep in mind that you’ll need to use a little more liquid as Grow! tends to thicken up the recipe.)

Macronutrient Profile (each bar):
K/cal: 344
Fat: 5 g (1s, 2.5m, 1.5p)
Carbs: 54 g (Fiber: 7 g)
Protein: 28 g

Blueberry Bran Muffins

1 cup oat bran
1/2 cup flax meal
4 scoops Low-Carb Grow!, flavor of your choice (I like chocolate with this recipe).
2/3 cup frozen blueberries
1 cup granulated Splenda
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
3 jumbo egg whites
1 teaspoon maple extract
2/3 cup water

Mix the dry ingredients together in a large bowl, then add the egg whites, extract and water. Stir until mixed well. Scoop into a muffin pan coated with cooking spray. Bake at 350 degrees for 25 minutes. Makes 6 large muffins.

Macronutrient Profile (each muffin):
K/cal: 176
Fat: 4 g (1s, 1m, 2p)
Carbs: 20g (fiber: 4g)
Protein: 21 g

Peanut Butter Fudge Bars

2 scoops Low-Carb Grow! chocolate protein powder
2 scoops flax meal (ground flax seeds)
4 tablespoons chunky natural peanut butter

Mix these together in a bowl, adding _ cup water (or less if you can manage) and Splenda, to taste. At first, it will seem like it’s not enough water, but keep stirring, and it will eventually become a moldable blob of dough that looks like what you would imagine it will look like on the way out of your body. Divide the mixture in half, and put it into separate pieces of plastic wrap, shaping into a bar within the wrap. It’s easier to shape them by laying plastic wrap in one side of a small casserole dish, pressing the dough into the natural shape of the dish. Put the bars into the fridge, or store them in the freezer. You can eat them chilled, or even frozen, or you can eat it right out of the bowl with a spoon if you’re feeling impatient.

Macronutrient Profile (each bar):
K/cal: 380
Fat: 23 g (5s, 11m, 7p)
Carbs: 15 g (fiber: 6g)
Protein: 33 g

Almond-Coconut Bars

1/2 cup flax seed meal
5 tablespoons lowfat cream cheese
1/2 cup sliced almonds (blanched and raw)
5 scoops Low-Carb Grow! (or chocolate whey protein powder)
1/2 cup granulated Splenda
1/4 cup water
1/2 tablespoon oil
1 teaspoon coconut extract
2 teaspoons almond extract

Nuke the cream cheese just until it’s soft enough to mix. Combine all dry ingredients in bowl, and then mix in the rest, until it becomes a big glob. Resist the temptation to add more water; just keep stirring and it will mix. Press into 8x8 brownie pan, sprayed with Pam. Chill and cut into 5 pieces. Put each piece in plastic wrap and store in fridge or freezer. Like the other bars, these melt very easily; so don’t keep them in your back pocket. Makes 5 bars.

Macronutrient Profile (each bar):
K/cal: 270
Fat: 14 g (4 s, 5m, 5p)
Carbs: 12 g (fiber: 3g)
Protein: 27 g

Banana Flax Loaf

4 scoops vanilla or chocolate Low-Carb Grow! (or generic protein powder)
1/2 cup flax meal
1/2 cup granulated Splenda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 oz chopped walnuts
1 jumbo whole egg + 1 egg white, beaten 2 tablespoons olive oil
1 _ teaspoons banana extract
1/2 cup water

Set the oven to 350 degrees. Stir all of the dry ingredients together in a large bowl, then add the oil, water, eggs and banana extract and mix well. Coat a 4X8-inch casserole dish with cooking spray, and pour-in the mixture. Sprinkle some whole flax seeds over the top and bake for 25 minutes at 350 degrees. (Don’t over bake or it will become dry.) Makes 4 servings.

Macronutrient Profile (each serving):
K/cal: 350
Fat: 21 g (3s, 8.5m, 8.5p)
Carbs: 13 g (fiber: 4g)
Protein: 30g

(If you like these recipes and are "hungry" for more, rumor has it that Dr. Williams is teaming up with a certain Dr. JB to release a butt kicking recipe book around January-time 2005. Be patient, though. If my sources are accurate, they’re taking their time to make sure it’s the best bodybuilding and health recipe book currently available on the market.)

Side Note - Food Support Systems
In order to make the Sunday Ritual and the Breakfast Ritual work, it’s important to pick up a few items — nutritional support systems, if you will. Here’s what we recommend picking up before you start using either of the two Rituals:

A good countertop grill. Since you’ll most likely need to cook relatively large batches of lean protein, it’s important to have a quick way of doing this. If you’ve got a great backyard grill that you can use year-round that’s great. If not, pick up a Foreman or Hamilton Beach grill and you’ll be all set.

A good cooler in which to store and carry your meals for the day. Coleman makes a few good ones. Before buying one, however, make sure there’s enough room to carry a few meals and a few shaker bottles (see below).

5 small Tupperware-type containers. These containers will be for storing and transporting your daily meals. Make sure they are small enough to fit into your cooler but large enough to accommodate a full meal. Your choice of glass or plastic is up to you.

5 large Tupperware-type containers. These containers are for storing larger quantities of food. For instance, if you chop your veggies for the week or cook all your chicken breasts for the week, store them in one of these. Again, your choice of glass or plastic is up to you.

3 Rubbermaid Chuggable drink containers — 1L size. These containers are for your liquid supplements. Be sure to choose the blue top variety as these are far and away the best drink containers out there. Most others leak.

When choosing to prep your own food and carry meals with you, it’s important to find the right food support systems to facilitate your success. This list will give you a good start. As you experiment with your own personal meal planning strategies, you’ll probably find others. Don’t hesitate to visit us at www.johnberardi.com and share with us some of tools you’re using.

Strategy #3 — Have Others Cook For You

If you love the idea of having 5-6 ready made meals always available yet can’t see yourself using the Sunday or the Breakfast Rituals above or buying all the Tupperware, there are a number of options at your disposal.

First, you can hire commercial food preparation services to do all the cooking for you. If you’re anywhere near a metropolitan area, you’ll be able to find dozens to choose from. The two biggies nowadays are Atkins At Home (Atkins Diet) and Zone Nation (The Zone Diet). The Atkins At Home company delivers 3 meals and 1 snack to your door by 6 AM each morning. The cost of this is between $35 and $40 per day. Alternatively, the Zone Nation company delivers 3 meals and 2 snacks to your door by 6 AM each morning for the cost of $35-40 per day, just like the Atkins company. I hear good things about both services.

Now, if you’re not interested in supporting the Atkins or Zone programs, there are many smaller companies who can assist you with your meal preparation needs. For example, when I lived in Miami Beach I found a local woman who provided this very service for $5 per meal. Every day for lunch she brought me an 8oz chicken or turkey breast, a baked potato or serving of rice, and a large serving of steamed veggies. Other days, I’d have her bring me 2-3 meals just like this.

Here’s another tip. Pick 4 restaurants in your immediate area (2 fast food places, 1 medium-priced restaurant, and 1 higher priced restaurant) that prepare meals in a way that conforms to your nutritional plan and have them prepare the food for you when necessary. Of course, you’ll have to do a little research on your potential eateries by collecting hard copies of their menus or visiting their web sites (if they’re online).

If you’re looking for a few examples, here ya go. Dave Thomas’ Wendy’s makes a couple of tasty chicken salads and a chili that you can eat when on the go. Even McDonalds is offering healthier meal selections — I’m lovin’ it.

Choose healthier fast food meals that conform to your meal plan when you don’t have much time or much money for a meal and choose a medium-priced restaurant like TGI Fridays (US) or Kelsey’s (Canada) for a better quality menu to provide you with a solid daily lunch. TGI Fridays, for example, has a great list of Atkins-friendly selections.

Finally, choose higher priced restaurants if it’s time for a power lunch to impress colleagues. Since most people don’t really know where they want to go eat anyway, if you get roped into a business lunch, you can be the one to make the definitive decision as to where the group is going to eat. Your decisiveness will win you big points with colleagues and you’ll also be able to control your eating habits.

Finally, if you don’t have the resources to entertain strategy #3 and pay others to cook for you, consider the fact that if you use the first two strategies to effectively build a lean, muscular body, you might just be able to convince attractive members of the opposite sex to take over for you. However, getting them to drop them off at your place by 6 AM every morning is a trick I’ll teach you in a later article.

In the end, whether you choose to regularly prepare your own meals by using the Rituals described above or you regularly choose to have others prepare your meals for you, circumstances will arise in which you’ll have to "cross over" and use a different strategy than you usually use. It never ceases to amaze me how much time those interested in health and fitness spend seeking out "the perfect plan" and how little time they spend figuring out what they’ll do when life’s circumstances prevent them from following it. Follow the guidelines in this article and you’ll be able to display the adaptability necessary to move from nutritional novice to "seasoned" nutritional veteran.

And don’t forget, while it’s not always about the food, all good nutritional habits start with a good, individualized meal plan. Invest a few bucks in a copy of my Tailor Made Nutrition book to learn exactly how I’d go about creating this for you.

It’s Not About the Food, Part 2
Top Ten Strategies For Road Warriors
by Dr. John M Berardi

In part one of this article series, I used the story of Lance Armstrong to illustrate the fact that sometimes, good nutrition is more about preparation and displaying adaptability than it is about the food.

In that article I gave a series of nutritional back-up strategies for the daily grind, strategies that included the Sunday Ritual, the Breakfast Ritual, and the "Have Others Cook For You."

In this article, we’ll talk about Lance again. This time, I’ll recount my brush with him during this past year’s Tour de France. I’ll use this example to discuss how you can learn how to prepare and display adaptability even when you’re on the road.

Olympic Caliber Road Warriors

A few years back, I began working with a number of Canadian and US Olympic sports teams, helping to integrate my nutrition and supplement ideas with their training and travel schedules. Eager and optimistic to help perfect their meal plans, I rushed in with calorie calculations and special meal suggestions.

Wow, was I in for a rude awakening!

When I found out about the nutritional challenges Olympic (and Professional) athletes face during their competitive seasons, I had to revise my plan. Get this—while half their year is spent training at home, the other half is spent traveling the world competing. Now, if all accommodations offered the same creature comforts of the Olympic village, there’d no problem. But the Olympic village is only available once every 4 years. For the remainder of the time (or most of it), these athletes are sleeping and eating in accommodations that can only be described as abysmal—considering their status as the athletic elite.

One day they’re in France sleeping on cots and waking up to strong European coffee and plain or chocolate filled croissants (no eggs, oats or fruit available at that hour in France). They spend the entire next day in a van driving to Germany, arriving to find pork dinner (and not lean pork either) with a side of kraut. And they repeat this over and over for 3-5 months at a time.

And how about living in a tent on a glacier? That’s right, one team is taken to a remote glacier in a helicopter, dropped off at a base camp of tents, and spends 2 weeks at a time sleeping, eating and training in this remote locale. It’s hard to hit a Subway for a low fat sandwich up there.

Think your nutritional challenges are too big to overcome? Think again.

Amateur Road Warriors

Compared to these Olympic caliber road warriors, most of us are just rank amateurs in the travel department; even myself. Sure, I’ve done my fair share of traveling and nowadays I’m away for at least a week of every month. But even I can’t begin to imagine all the personal challenges that would arise from being on the road, parading through foreign countries for months at a time.

However, this summer I did get a taste of the real road warrior lifestyle. For 2 weeks in June and 3 weeks in July/August, I took to the road for some combined business and personal travel. I spent the first 2 weeks on the back of a Harley Davidson Fat Boy rumbling through the American Southwest, looking much more like a bonified road warrior than usual.

In addition to demonstrating my rugged good looks, this picture below shows my Fat Boy loaded down with 2 weeks worth of clothing and rations. Tucked in those saddlebags and backpacks were pounds of protein and veggie powders, homemade protein bars, and other nutritional tricks that I’ll teach you today.

After my trip through the southwest, I spent a month back in Toronto before heading off for another adventure, this time a 3 week trip through France, Austria and Italy. During this second trip, my first to Europe, I got to spend about a week with the Tour de France. These two pictures below show just how close to the Tour I was.

Now, Europe presents a series of interesting challenges to the health conscious eater. Not only do you have the usual challenges associated with travel but you’re also contending with cultural differences, language barriers and other unique situations. And these are just the challenges that a Tour de France spectator must face. Imagine what the athletes are going through. In fact, here’s a list of the food that one of the top cycling teams brings to the Tour with them:

2200 bottles

1500 litres (3300 lbs) water

18 kg (40 lbs) sports drink A (400-450 L)

36 kg (80 lbs) sports drink B (500-600L)

6 kg (13 lbs) maltodextrins

450 concentrated carbohydrate drinks (450 x 100 ml)

630 gels

7.5 kg (16.5 lbs) recovery drink (80 L)

1200 energy bars

1600 cans of soft drinks

100 packets of biscuits

40 boxes breakfast cereals

9 kg (20 lbs) wine gums

440 bread rolls

900 cakes

100 kg (220 lbs) fruit

And remember, in addition to these foods, the things like milk and meat are bought while on the road. That’s a heck of a lot of energy. And a heck of a lot of planning.

In the end, as a result of my trip to Europe, I think I’m better equipped to understand exactly what my athletes are going through on the road. Sure, there’s no question that I’m still an amateur road warrior. But pile my own road experiences on top of those of my individual clients who travel at least 50% of each week for business and my Olympians who travel for months on end without a trip home, and you get a lot of interesting tips for coping on the road. As a result, I’ve compiled a list of my top 10 favorite strategies for maintaining your nutritional discipline when traveling.

Strategy #1 — Location, Location, Location

If you’re planning to take to the road for sport or for business, your first item of business is this—ensure that everything you need is in close proximity to where you’ll be working or playing. Location is key. So let’s say you’re going to a week long conference at the Indiana Convention Centre and RCA Dome. Well first, get on the internet and find all the hotels nearest the Convention Centre. To do this, you might need to familiarize yourself with Google. This is the search engine of choice for many web surfers.

Next, give these hotels a call to find out where the nearest grocery stores, restaurants and gyms are located. Pick the hotel with the best combination of nearby resources. This way, even if you don’t get a rental car, you can easily walk or cab to your fitness and nutritional havens. Skip this strategy and you’re giving yourself big excuses to skip workouts, miss meals, and make poor food selections while on the road.

Now, I can already hear some of you griping about how you don’t plan your own business travel—you either use a travel agent or a corporate travel coordinator. So what? Either give your travel coordinator your preferred specifications, tell them you’ll do the leg work yourself and then they can book it, or just book it yourself and get reimbursed later.

Sure it might be a bigger hassle than you’re accustomed to, but what ever gave you the idea this process would be easy? To rise above the masses, you’ve gotta invest more of yourself than the masses do.

Strategy #2 — The Penthouse Suite?

While you don’t necessarily have to stay at a 5 star hotel or choose the penthouse suite, one great strategy for you road warriors is to choose a hotel chain that offers rooms/suites with kitchens or kitchenettes. If you know a nice kitchen set-up is waiting for you, you won’t have much difficulty sticking to your meal plan. Just have your cabbie drop you at the grocery store on your way from the airport. Once you get to your hotel room you can rest assured that you’ll be able to eat as well as when you’re at home.

If you’re looking for a good hotel chain, Marriott Residence Inns are a nice choice. You can find other hotels that meet your needs as well. I recommend Marriott because my clients have always had great experiences with them.

Now, what about price objections? Well, although it’s more expensive to stay in one of these hotels, if you consider the fact that you’ll be saving money by eating in your room instead of eating all your meals at restaurants, it often balances out in the end. Use this argument to sell the idea to your boss since he/she might not see the logic of it immediately.

Now, if you absolutely can’t find or afford a hotel that has a kitchen or kitchenette, make sure that your hotel room has, at the very least, a refrigerator (most do). As long as you’ve got a refrigerator, you can stock your hotel room with good snacks. My athletes and I pick up fresh fruits and vegetables, bottled water, cottage cheese, plain yogurt, regular cheese, natural peanut butter, whole grain breads and mixed nuts on our way into town and snack on these during our weeks on the road.

Strategy #3 — Can You Ship Egg Whites Next Day?

Here’s a great strategy I picked up former client and current good friend, Austin. This guy is a bona fide road warrior himself and has a ton of great strategies for eating on the road.

Instead of going shopping when he gets to town, Austin actually ships his food and supplements via UPS or Fed Ex. He gets a medium sized cold shipping box, loads it up with ice, protein powders, fruits and veggies, mixed nuts, legumes, meat, eggs, cottage cheese, yogurt, cooking pans, utensils, shaker bottles and non-stick cooking spray and ships it to his hotel before leaving home.

By doing this, Austin doesn’t need to worry about where grocery stores and restaurants are located. As soon as he arrives in town, he’s good to go—nutritionally, at least. All he needs to find is a gym and he’s set.

Again, although the shipping option may seem a bit pricey, you’ll end up saving money on restaurants and the price may work out in the end.

Strategy #4 — The Big Cooler

Here’s another strategy I picked up from my buddy Austin that helps ya’ transport both luggage and groceries simultaneously for shorter trips that might last only a day or two.

Pick up a big cooler with an extendible handle and wheels (much like the wheeled luggage so popular nowadays), put a little partition down the middle, and you’ve got a ready made combined cooler/suitcase that can act as a carry-on. Put your cottage cheese on one side and your drawers on the other!

Strategy #5 — What’s On The Menu?

If you decide to have others prepare your meals for you when on the road, make sure you use Strategy #1 above to find out where the restaurants nearest your hotel are located. Next, visit them on the web for downloadable menus. If they don’t have downloadable menus, call them and ask them to send a menu over to your hotel for when you arrive. By having the restaurant menus, you’ll know exactly what types of food you can have access to at all times. Also, when dining with a group, you’ll be able to suggest places that conform to your nutritional requirements.

Strategy #6 — You Don’t Have To Order From The Menu

Here’s a hot tip that most people fail to realize. Most restaurants can easily provide a meal custom to your specifications even if it’s not on the menu. So don’t become a slave to the menu offerings. Ordering a specific number from the menu is almost always a recipe for disaster unless the menu is designed for "healthy eating" or whatever the restaurant is calling it. Most normal dishes have too much fat and too many carbohydrates for most body-conscious individuals.

Instead of ordering an item directly from the menu, either ask for an item that you like prepared without the sauces or high carbohydrate portions or simply ask for a portion of protein and a few servings of vegetables and fruit on the side. Remember, you’re paying top dollar for your meal and you’re about to tip your waitress. So don’t feel bad asking them to meet your needs, uh, nutritionally, that is.

Strategy #7 —Protein and Energy Supplements

Using some combination of the strategies above, you should be able to ensure that good meal options are always around the corner. But sometimes when you’re on the road it’s impossible to slip back to your room or to get to a restaurant. For times like this, you’ll need to consider a few supplement options.

Typically, when at home I only use 1-2 scoops of protein powder (Low-Carb Grow!) per day, but when on the road, I may use up to 6 scoops if necessary. Protein choices are both hard to come by and more expensive than other options. So increasing your dietary energy with protein powders is a good fall-back option.

Strategy #8 — Powdered Veggies

Normally, at home, I get about 10 servings of fruits and veggies per day. But when I’m on the road that amount is usually reduced to somewhere around 2-4 servings unless I’m very conscious of my intake.

A great way to make up for this reduction in my micronutrient intake is to use a powdered vegetable supplement such as Vege Greens or a powdered fruit supplement such as Juice Plus+.

Now, I don’t use these products while at home since I prefer to get my micronutrients and fiber from fresh fruits. But if I’m on the road, these products help make up for the deficit I may be experiencing. An added bonus is that I seem to better digest my protein supplements when adding some Vege Greens to my protein shakes.

Strategy #9 — Homemade Bars

If you’re not into drinking numerous protein shakes per day, another great option is to bring some homemade snacks with you. As discussed in Part 1 of this article, my good friend Dr. John Williams came up with these great recipes and they’re a fantastic alternative to the mostly crappy, store bought, sugar laden, artificial ingredient containin’, protein bars.

(Refer to part 1 for actual recipies)

Strategy #10 — Sleep Pills

Jet lag, time zone changes, unfamiliar sleeping environments, poor nutrition, altered exercise habits, and the stress associated with big business meetings or competitions can all really impair your ability to get adequate rest when on the road.

Following the previous nine steps will help you take care of your nutritional intake. Making sure not to skip workouts will also help. So will the addition of Biotest’s ZMA supplement. While research hasn’t provided direct evidence to support a relationship between zinc and/or magnesium status and sleep quality, most ZMA users find dramatically improved sleep quality when taking this supplement. Three capsules before bed should do the trick.

As discussed in part 1 of this article series, if you’re going to be successful in maintaining a good nutritional plan, no matter what the circumstances, you’re going to have to plan for the unplanned and display adaptability to all circumstances. The guidelines included in this article should help get you thinking about how to become a successful road warrior. But I can’t forecast all of your unique challenges. Either you’ll have to adapt to them on your own or, if you need some guidance, you can enroll in my fully supported monthly coaching program.

And don’t forget, while it’s not always about the food, all good nutritional habits start with a good, individualized meal plan. Invest a few bucks in a copy of my Tailor Made Nutrition book to learn exactly how I’d go about creating this for you.

The Hard Body Manifesto Part 1
The Integration of Diet and Supplements For Fat Loss
by Dr. John M. Berardi

Fat loss is a hot topic. Every month there are thousands of articles and dozens of new books telling people how to eat, how to exercise, and how to supplement to lose their flab. Now’s my turn.

That’s right, Mr. Massive Eating is finally going to address fat loss in a comprehensive article. Be forewarned, though. This isn’t a diet article, nor is it a "how to" article. Rather, it’s a survey of all of the things I believe are integral to the fat loss process. Use it as a resource to dig deeper into the fat loss problem and, once and for all, lose fat and keep it off!

Four Important Fat Loss Concepts

Before delving into physiology, endocrinology, metabolism and nutrition, I think it’s important to discuss four major concepts you’ll need to understand and master if you hope to change your own body composition.

Important Fat Loss Concept #1: A three-tiered, integrated approach to fat loss is always warranted yet rarely found.

Magazine articles often cover only one piece of the fat loss puzzle. One article will discuss supplements for fat loss, another will discuss diets for fat loss, and yet another will discuss exercise for fat loss. Now, don’t get me wrong; I’m not dissin’ the mags. After all, the very nature of the article format is to be brief and cover one topic per article. Yet all this disjointed information can, at best, produce sub-optimal results.

For example, if you were to try to get lean by just popping a few pills, your results would be suboptimal, especially since many supplement approaches increase fat mobilization, but don’t improve fat oxidation. In other words, you can pop those fatty acids out of your adipose cells all day long, but if that fat isn’t oxidized (via an appropriate exercise plan coupled with a hypocaloric diet), those fatty acids will just be recycled — sent right back to those fat cells from whence they came.

Here’s another example of what I’m talking about. If you try to get lean by dieting only, you’re bound to see larger decreases in muscle mass than if you'd exercised appropriately during your diet phase. With losses in muscle mass come losses in basal metabolic rate (BMR), decreased exercise and non-exercise energy expenditure, and decreased exercise performance. Not exactly the recipe for long term leanness, eh?

Finally, since most exercise programs don’t have enough volume to produce fat loss, in the absence of some sort of energy manipulation (dietary changes) your body composition won’t budge much at all. If you don’t have time (or the recovery resources) to train for a few hours a day, good luck getting lean while still eating Krispy Kreme!

So in the end, it’s only in the integration of diet, training and supplements that the most effective fat loss can occur.

Important Fat Loss Concept #2: The body is an integrated unit, so a comprehensive approach is necessary.

The body is an integrated unit — no system acts independent of the others. As a result, attempting to get lean by micromanaging one body system almost always leads to overcompensation of other body systems and sometimes even metabolic crisis (like health problems and rebound fat gain).

For example, the use of adrenergic supplements (ephedrine, caffeine, clenbuterol) can increase cortisol, reduce glucose tolerance/insulin sensitivity, and decrease leptin. In the short term, you’ll still lose fat because adrenergic stimulation is pretty powerful. However, in the long term, there's rebound fat gain once energy restriction, increased energy expenditure, or adrenergic supplementation is removed.

Why doesn’t your body better cooperate? Well, your bod likes homeostasis more than it likes visible abs. When you try to manipulate one system to outsmart it, another system kicks in to negate the effects of your first manipulation, or at least it waits in the wings, silently, ready to later correct what you’ve done. Riding up and down on that fat loss roller coaster sure does make it hard to remain lean in the long term.

So let’s talk integration. Here’s a diagram showing just how integrated many of the systems of the body really are:

*This slide is adapted from a slide presented by Dr. Rob Rakowski in 2004.

As you can see, this slide shows us that almost all of the hormonal systems of the body are interrelated in some way. Check out how just one hormone (cortisol) can impact the sex hormone systems, thyroid hormone action, insulin and glucose tolerance, and several other endpoints related to physiological and psychological well-being. Since hormones are the messengers communicating with the cells of the body, orchestrating fat loss or fat gain, it’s no wonder they’ve become the target of many drug and supplement strategies.

But it’s important not to get too bogged down with hormonal manipulations. Like I said, the body doesn’t like when we mess around with a single system or two. Besides, in the end, when we’re talking fat loss, the hormones don’t matter as much as their net results do. After all, hormones themselves don’t make us fat or lean; it’s the effects of these hormones that make the difference. So let’s talk effects.

When on a hypocaloric (lower calorie) diet, the following three endpoints are likely.

Endpoint 1 — Reductions in energy expenditure (exercise and non-exercise)

Endpoint 2 — Reductions in muscle mass

Endpoint 3 — Increases in appetite

Since these three things are hormonally mediated, we can either try to mess with the hormones (not always a good idea, as addressed above) or we can try to improve the endpoints by attempting to maintain daily energy expenditure, maintain muscle mass, and avoid increases in energy intake.

Therefore, next time you enter into a diet phase, ask yourself — does my fat loss program…

1) Maintain pre-diet energy expenditure?

This is accomplished via increased exercise metabolic activity (more cardio, ugh), increased non-exercise metabolic activity (walk instead of drive, pace when talking on the phone rather than sit, chew gum, drink cold water, etc.), and increased cost of exercise and non-exercise activity (i.e. wearing a weighted vest while doing cardio, walking, or doing chores).

2) Incorporate exercise designed to preserve muscle?

This is accomplished via more intense, heavier training sessions with lots of muscle specific and CNS specific recovery in between sessions.

3) Manipulate energy intake, food timing and food type to retain a high-energy expenditure and preserve muscle mass?

This is accomplished via optimizing energy intake, periodic re-feeds, carbohydrates during and immediately after exercise, increased protein intake, healthy fat balance, etc.

4) Help organize my lifestyle such that I can easily support an energy restriction in the face of increasing hunger?

This is accomplished via smart shopping, eliminating tempting, tasty morsels from your home, planning for the unplanned so you’re not missing meals and getting ravenously hungry, eating frequently and drinking more water.

When dieting, be conscious of these questions. In doing so you’ll be better able to plan for the metabolic mayhem ahead.

Important Fat Loss Concept #3: Focus on optimal health, body composition and exercise performance, plus formation of lasting habits.

Good nutrition programs achieve the intersection of optimal health, optimal body composition, and optimal exercise performance. What do I mean by "the intersection?" Well, check out this diagram below:

Stick around long enough and you’ll see all sorts of nutrition programs. You’ll find programs that help you improve your health, yet these very same programs will do nothing to improve body composition and/or exercise performance (these plans would be located in the "A" domain above).

In addition, you’ll find programs that improve body composition yet don’t optimize health and/or exercise performance (the "B" domain above). Finally, you’ll find programs that help with exercise performance yet don’t optimize health and/or body composition (the "C" domain).

Regardless of which of the three programs you select, none of them are going to be optimal. When looking for the zone of optimization ("D"), you’ve gotta find a plan that intersects the three goals. A proper nutritional plan will get you there (more on that below.)

Important Fat Loss Concept #4: Ultimate success has little to do with the plan itself but rather its application. In most cases, it’s not about the food.

Recently, I published a two-part article here at T-Nation describing how the limiting factor in most trainees’ physique progress is their inability to plan for the unplanned — their inability to continue to follow their well-thought out plan in the face of unexpected daily challenges at home and on the road.

This article series is called It’s Not About The Food and in it I describe how you can take lessons from superhero Lance Armstrong in order to win your own nutritional Tour de France. The point is this: there’s more to physique progress beyond your original meal plan itself. You’ll find a few examples of this below.

Fat Metabolism

The next stop on our road to leanness is a brief explanation of fat storage, transport and metabolism. Since this article isn’t designed to present an in-depth analysis of fat metabolism, I’m not going to make your eyes go cross with detailed biochemical explanations. Instead, I’m simply going to give you a quick glimpse into this area with a few neat pictures.

In this first image, I’d like to draw your attention to the two major sites of fat storage we’re interested in today: adipocytes (fat cells) and skeletal muscle.

It’s important to note that these two sites represent two major sources of fat for oxidization or "burning." The other major source of fat for oxidation is dietary fat.

Dietary fat is "burnt" when dietary triacylglycerols are broken down into fatty acids and these fatty acids are transported (bound to a blood carrier protein called albumin) to the muscle cells. Once there, they enter into an organelle called the mitochondrion and undergo a process called beta oxidation. Beta oxidation is what we call "fat burning."

In addition to dietary fat, skeletal muscle triacylglycerols can also be broken down into fatty acids. These fatty acids simply work their way through the muscle to undergo that same process of beta oxidation described above.

Finally, adipocytes or fat cells, can release fatty acids which travel through the bloodstream (again, bound to albumin) and, similar to dietary fat, enter the muscle cells, enter the mitochondrion, and are incinerated via beta oxidation. Since it’s the fat in our adipocytes that we want to burn in order to get leaner, let’s quickly review how that process happens:

Notice above that certain hormonal signals affect different parts of the fat breakdown process, telling the fat cell to accelerate the breakdown of triacylglycerols into fatty acids or to slow down this process.

Regardless of these hormonal signals, once these fatty acids are broken down they can travel into the bloodstream. This process of removing fatty acids from adipocytes, pictured above, is what we call fat mobilization.

As discussed, the fatty acids released during fat mobilization enter the bloodstream, and their fate depends on a number of factors, including activity level and a number of other hormonal influences. Some fat is burned at the muscle level via beta oxidation while other fat can be recycled back into adipose cells.

Hopefully now you’ll understand what I mean when I say that some interventions can mobilize fat (like adrenergic supplements and drugs), but don’t necessarily improve fat oxidation. Maximal oxidation is contingent upon both maximal mobilization and maximal metabolic activity (to oxidize those mobilized fats).

Energy Balance

One major factor involved in improving fat mobilization from fat cells and the eventual oxidation of that fat, is achieving a negative energy balance. In other words, you need to decrease your energy intake, increase your exercise expenditure, or find some combination of energy intake and energy expenditure that'll allow your body to draw on your stored fat as an energy source.

While this process seems like a no-brainer — just eat less than you’re eating now or work out more than you are now and you’ll drop fat — I’ve seen case study after case study illustrating that if someone is at a body fat stalemate (especially when this stalemate is at a low energy intake), sa reduction in energy intake is sometimes the wrong approach!

Sometimes an increase in energy intake (coupled with a change in food choices and nutrient timing) can lead to rapid fat loss. Take for example, an elite female athlete I consulted with back in 2002. Check out her before and after stats:

*Case Study:
National Level Cross Country Skier; Female - 20y

Net result — 12 weeks:

25lbs lost

-23lb fat

-2lbs lean
September 2002:
5’6" ; 160lb ; 22% fat

(125lb lean, 35lbs fat)

Exercise Expenditure:


Energy Intake:


15% protein

65% carbohydrate

20% fat
December 2002:
5’6" ; 135lb ; 9% fat

(123lb lean, 12lbs fat)

Exercise Expenditure:


Energy Intake:


35% protein

40% carbohydrate

25% fat

That’s right, in the face of a 1500 kcal increase in energy intake (along with some big shifts in food type and timing), she dropped 23 pounds of fat in 12 weeks!

But be careful — it’s not always true that an increase in energy intake will lead to fat loss. This will only work when a client is undereating relative to their actual metabolic requirement (based on activity levels, muscle mass, genetic makeup, etc). Deciding if this is the case is based on dozens of factors.

In the end, while it’s easy to tell those trying to lose fat to simply eat less or exercise more, the story is much more complex than that. The traditional picture of energy balance is missing one key facet: the fact that energy intake and expenditure are tightly inter-related. Without understanding this relationship, some erroneous conclusions are regularly drawn by dieters and nutritionists, conclusions that prevent improved body composition.

Next week, in Part 2, I’ll cover how much, what, and when to eat.

The Hard Body Manifesto Part 2
The Integration of Diet and Supplements For Fat Loss
by Dr. John M. Berardi

Fat loss is a hot topic. Every month there are thousands of articles and dozens of new books telling people how to eat, how to exercise, and how to supplement to lose their flab. Now’s my turn.

Part 1 of this article featured a discussion of four important concepts of fat loss, along with a short primer on fat metabolism and energy balance. Now that we’ve discussed all the theory, let’s discuss how we apply that theory.

How Much, What and When To Eat

Understanding that energy restriction sometimes increases metabolic efficiency (this is bad for fat loss) and decreases both exercise and non-exercise energy expenditure (again, not good), it’s important to find ways to get the metabolic rate back up again.

Certainly, increasing your exercise expenditure is one way. Another is to properly choose your energy intake, your food selections, and the times you eat. In doing so, you’ll be better able to "uncouple" the energy intake and expenditure sides of the energy balance equation in order to improve your fat loss profile.

So how much do you need to eat? In order to determine this, you need to first figure out how much you’re currently eating. The best way to do this is to record everything you eat (types of foods and weights/volumes of the foods) for three representative days of the week. For example, if your Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays have a specific schedule, your Tuesdays and Thursdays have a specific schedule, and your Saturdays and Sundays have a specific schedule, pick a Monday, Tuesday, and Saturday to record. (If all days are the same, just record any three days.)

Once you’ve recorded your intake, download the USDA’s free calorie calculator program to figure out your total energy intake and macronutrient breakdown. You can download this program by clicking here. Once you know how much you’re eating, it’s important to calculate how far from your approximate energy needs you currently are. You can calculate those by clicking here.

Chances are there will be some discrepancy between the two. The calorie calculator suggested in the link above usually gives a number higher than most people are eating. In some cases, much higher. Whether this number is correct or not is impossible to determine. However, the number you’ll get is derived from a study published in 1999 by A. DeLorenzo and colleagues at the University of Rome. These scientists directly measured the RMR of a group of 51 male athletes and determined that this equation predicted the RMR to within 59 kcal.

In addition to the men in the DeLorenzo study, this equation has also been validated in female athletes. In 1996, J. Thompson and colleagues at the University of North Carolina measured the RMR of 24 athletic men and 13 athletic women and determined that the equation was accurate to within 158 kcal for men and 103 kcal for women. These studies clearly show that this equation is accurate for use in athletic populations that exercise regularly.

Yet, any calorie estimation measure is just that — an estimation. So here’s the best course of action: use my outcome-based decision model to try to get your calorie intake up to the level specified on the calculator, using of course, my food type and timing suggestions below. This should help you "reset" your metabolic rate, getting it to an all time maximum. Then you can start to slowly apply the old "eat less/exercise more" program.

Here’s how to do it. Basically, you need to follow your plan for two week blocks and assess where you’re at every 14 days. If the plan is producing a desired effect, keep it up. If the plan is producing a negative effect, you’ve gotta make a change.

If fat loss is your goal and you're significantly under-eating, simply increase your energy intake by 250kcal/day for two weeks at a time until you get to your suggested energy intake. Then, once you get to this point, begin to scale back your intake by 250kcal/day for two weeks at a time.

Again, you’ll be using the outcome based strategies above in order to measure whether your manipulation is taking you in the right direction or not. The beautiful part of this outcome based strategy is that you never have to abandon it. Simply adjust energy intake up or down based on the measurable changes you’re recording.

So what about food type and timing? Well, both things are well-addressed in my 7 Habits article. In this article I lay out seven feeding strategies that, if followed consistently, produce the intersection of optimal health, body composition and exercise performance. Here's a review:

Habit #1: Eat every 2-3 hours (6-8 meals per day).

Habit #2: Eat complete protein with each meal (30-60 grams per meal).

Habit #3: Eat veggies (2-3 servings) and/or fruits (0-2 servings) with every meal.

Habit #4: Eat a mix of fats each day (~1/3 from sat., ~1/3 from mono., ~1/3 from poly.)

Habit #5: Eat non-fruit and veggie carbohydrate (liquid carbs and/or starchy carbs like pastas, rice, whole grain breads, oats, etc.) only within the first few hours after exercise.

Habit #6: Drink calorie-free beverages with or between each meal. Green tea and water should make up the majority of your fluid intake (excluding protein/nutrition shakes).

Habit #7: Eat whole foods for most meals (except workout and immediate post-workout drinks) unless impossible, then use supplements (shakes and bars) when necessary.

If you follow these seven suggestions, most of your food selection and nutrient timing needs will be taken care of. If you need an even simpler version, here’s how I like to break down optimal nutrient timing:

• During and after the workout — Feed according to ADA (American Dietetics Association) guidelines with a little extra protein thrown in.

• For the first few hours after the workout — Feed according to the Zone principles (a balance intake of protein, fats and low GI carbs. I like fruit and veggie carbs at this time).

• For the rest of the day — Feed according to the Atkins principles (mostly protein and fat with some fibrous veggie carbs).

Now, just to clarify one thing: sometimes my approaches are criticized as too technical and complex. This assertion belies a fundamental misunderstanding of my system. Yes, I do demand some adherence to the scientific method. I won’t apologize for that. Yet, at the same time, once you progress beyond the beginner stages of understanding, you’ll see that a mastery of calorie calculations and macronutrient proportions and ratios takes no time at all.

Someone observing a beginner trying to follow my system — adding precisely 250kcal here, subtracting exactly 250kcal there — would think I’ve made the system too complex. However, someone observing an advanced participant in my system would think they’re not even following it.

The reason? Outcome based measurement and decision making, meal planning and nutrient timing, once internalized, are easy to adhere to and can be calculated almost at the subconscious level once you understand the system. Eventually you’ll easily be able to add a bit of food or subtract a bit based on how your body is changing. In some cases, all you’ll need to do is look in the mirror to note these changes.

Here’s another way to make it easy for you beginners: if you’re a relative nutritional novice, don’t even bother with the calorie calculations above. Seriously! Rather, simply begin following the seven habits. This shift alone will start you off in the right direction, kicking off your fat loss process in a big way.

However, if you’ve been dieting for a while now or have dieted several times in the past (successfully), you can start to break it down a bit more scientifically as above.

Essential Supplements For Fat Loss

Once the dietary guidelines above are met, I consider the next four supplements essential for fat loss.

1) Fish oil — Data from the University of Western Ontario shows that fish oil supplementation increases lean body mass (during non-dieting conditions), increases BMR (by up to 400kcal/day), decreases inflammation, and improves the ratio of fat/carb oxidized (sparing carbs, burning fat). Recommended dose: start with 6-10g per day of total fish oil (assuming 30% EPA and DHA).

2) Creatine — While creatine is usually considered a muscle building supplement, it does a good job of maintaining cellular energy status. This may help preserve/increase muscle mass. It also will preserve/increase exercise performance. Recommended dose: a few grams per day (3-5g) go a long way.

3) Recovery Nutrition — Supplements (or even whole food) containing carbohydrate and protein (such as Biotest Surge) and given during and/or after exercise can improve carbohydrate status (muscle glycogen storage), improve protein status (keep protein synthetic rates high), suppress cortisol concentrations, preserve immune function, and help preserve exercise performance.

Even if you don’t ingest as much as you would during a mass phase, every little bit helps. Recommended dose: This is based on total calorie intake, however, a reasonable minimum is 0.4g/kg carbohydrate and 0.2g/kg protein during and/or after exercise.

4) Protein powder and greens powders — While I don’t think these are necessary for every day nutrition, these two supplements are great in case of emergencies — especially when on the road. Normally my clients may only ingest one to two scoops per day of a protein supplement such as Low-Carb Grow along with one scoop of a greens powder.

However, when on the road, they may ingest up to six scoops of Low-Carb Grow! and two scoops of a greens powder. In addition to the convenience factor, micronutrient intake scales with total calorie intake. Therefore, if you decrease your intake during dieting conditions, greens supplements help maintain micronutrient status during energy restriction.

Some of you may notice the conspicuous absence of fat burners. The main reason for excluding them from this discussion is the fact that I believe that they're most useful at the lower extremes of body fat, when intelligent diet and exercise are failing to produce a consistent loss of fat. At this time, the conservative and short-term use of something like Maximum Strength HOT-ROX and a green tea extract can help.

It’s Not About The Food. Remember, it’s not necessarily the lack a good plan or the absence of some special physiological secret that keeps most people fat; it’s failing to plan for the unplanned. Do you have a plan for when you wake up late or have to work late? Do you have a plan for unexpected obligations and deadlines; for unplanned dinner parties or lunch dates; for emergencies of any type? If you don’t, that’s probably why you’re not as lean as you’d like to be!

Here are a few strategies that can help you ensure that good foods will be available when you need them:

1) The Sunday Ritual — The Sunday Ritual is performed by setting aside three hours or so every Sunday to write out your menu for the week, shop for the week, and prepare your meals for the week.

Cook all the meat, chop all the vegetables, measure out all the yogurt and/or cottage cheese, and distribute all the powders. Have them ready and set aside so that you can grab them in the morning and bring them with you regardless of what your day or your boss holds in store for you.

2) The Breakfast Ritual — Rather than preparing all their food for the week on a single day, some people prefer to do a little food preparation each day. That’s what the Breakfast Ritual is for.

Using the Breakfast Ritual, simply perform all your cooking for the day each morning. Since you’ve gotta make breakfast anyway, make sure you’ve got a couple of meals going while breakfast is being prepared.

3) Have Others Cook For You — If you love the idea of having five or six readymade meals always available yet can’t see yourself using the rituals above or buying all that Tupperware, there are a number of options at your disposal.

First, you can hire commercial food preparation services to do all the cooking for you. Or you could pick four restaurants in your immediate area (two fast food places, one medium-priced restaurant, and one higher priced restaurant) that prepare meals in a way that conforms to your nutritional plan and have them prepare the food for you when necessary.

Wrap Up

In the end, successful fat loss programs are based on having a good understanding of the body, making good physiological choices based on that understanding, and having the right systems in place to sustain those choices. Individual articles on specific supplements, specific diet plans, or specific workouts are interesting, no doubt, but integrate the three to truly optimize your body composition.

Note: A shout out to Dr. Lonnie Lowery for sharing the images in this article with me. He’s a web illustration master and his "eye candy" is always appreciated!


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