Posts Tagged ‘fat’

Anyone familiar with Layne Norton may have read some of his contest prep articles, as I have – and in fact I used some of his advice when preparing for more than one photo shoot.

Recently he unleashed an ebook which is extremely long and in depth, all about the process of preparing to go on stage in a physique competition, and even though I have no interest in stepping on stage it intrigued me.

First of all, I must say I highly appreciate the fact that when you go to his page (which I refuse to link) it is not one of those 10-zillion page long advertisement pages, it is simply a picture of the ebook and you can choose either the men’s or women’s version — although I’m almost certain they are the exact same book… because throughout the thing it gives advice for both men and women.

So while it was a far better buying experiences than most of the online sales experiences I have to admit that my first read through of the books ok left me annoyed.

Why? Because it is being pitched as a comprehensive 260 page book, which suggests there is a ton of information packed in there. However it could have easily been shaved down by a hundred pages or so.

The first 80-some pages were filled with very basic information about calorie balance… in other words stuff that anyone who is about to enter a show already knows.

The last section is all about poses, which is probably helpful to some people but let’s do a quick reality check… anyone who is serious about getting on stage will almost certainly need a coach, not a $40 ebook to learn this stuff. Having a coach for doing a show is also vital because you tend to be so depleted that it’s almost impossible to do everything with meal planning and creating an effective training program on your own.

Buuut – the book does an excellent job of laying out much of the detailed information a coach would normally be handling so it can be good educationally if you choose to work with a coach and if you choose not to, you’ll have a better idea of why you probably should be.

I actually see the book as more of a narrative in the life of a professional bodybuilder than an actual how-to guide.

There are millions of books that will help you get from bad to good in terms of physique improvement and I believe the goal of this book was to help people go from good to great. Does it succeed in that? Yes in a sense. Layne discusses much of the same topics that can be found in his pre-contest articles but in more depth in the latter parts of the book. He also talks about what to do after a show, which may be excellent for anyone on a restricted diet of any kind.

That being said, I would simply suggest that if you get the book you set your expectations appropriately; it is not likely to be 260 pages of NEW information, but a large dose of old information, some “nice to know” information and a little bit of advice that will very likely be valuable at some point in your life if you want to get ridiculously lean.

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I’ve been working on this for quite a while, so hopefully there is some value here for you…

I can’t put my finger on exactly what sparked this line of thinking, but I recall having an “aha” moment when comparing muscle function to our conception of superheroes.

Muscles have many evolutionary functions, we can think of tribal cavemen who had to survive harsh elements including competing with their own kind in order to mate.

Specifically these functions are: power, speed and size

These three functions also happen to be what we attribute to modern-day heroes both in real life and to exaggerated extents in fiction.

Size may stand out a little bit because it doesn’t actually seem on the surface to be a true function, but the more we consider it the more we may value it’s purpose. Consider the muscularly huge people we see – they immediately earn respect. Their size also tells others they are not to be messed with. Furthermore their size seems to correlate to their own confidence which compounds their capability.

A case could be made that balance contributes to this as well… but to be perfectly honest I could not think of a way to attribute balance to superheroes. Still combining balance and strength training seems to have a harmonious effect – making such movements as split squats one of my personal favourites of late.

So if your goal is to create a training program that helps achieve that superhero persona, we ought to consider designing the program to develop these three functions.

Let’s look at what seems to develop them individually:

POWER

Here we look to the world of power and strength trainers. These people are known to lift tremendous amount of weight, but in small bursts. This is where progressing with heavier weights using small repetitions seems to be most beneficial.

SPEED

When I think of speed in mere mortals I usually visualize martial artists. Not only do those committed to martial arts tend to be fast, they also tend to have efficient physiques – meaning lean and toned.

But between working full-time, being a full-time single dad and everything else in my busy life, I simply haven’t had the time to commit to martial arts training, never mind the costs that seem to be skyrocketing in proportion to the rising popularity of MMA.

So it has had me looking for other ways to develop speed. Here is what I’ve found…

Explosive concentric (positive) movements appear to help this area, which can fortunately be trained to a certain extent while performing strength training.

Incorporating such things as box jumps and HIIT sprints/upright bike into your routine also seem to be effective. Just look at the massive quads on Olympic sprinters if you want more evidence.

SIZE

This is an interesting one, because it isn’t strictly about being huge, it’s about LOOKING huge. That is what I’ve heard described as the illusion of size. Basically it amounts to being both muscular and lean enough for the muscularity to look even larger. Basically what we’re looking at training like here is bodybuilding style volume, but we also want to add in a level of metabolic training to use stored fat as fuel. For that I find antagonistic supersets to be best.

So in an attempt to train all these areas within one program, this is what I came up with…

Note: whenever possible use explosive concentrics and controlled negatives

Day 1: Chest and back (rows)

Bench press superset with 1-arm dumbbell rows; 8 sets; reps = 20, 15, 12, 10, 8, 6, 6, 15

Cable crossover superset with seated cable row: 4 sets of 10-12 reps

Incline dumbbell press superset with barbell rows: 4 sets of 6-10 reps

Day 2: Legs

Leg extension superset with lying leg curls; 8 sets; reps = 20, 15, 12, 10, 8, 6, 6, 15

Squats superset with box jumps; 4 sets of 10-12 reps

Bulgarian split squats superset with 1-leg stiff-legged dumbbell deadlifts: 4 sets of 6-10 reps

Day 3: back (lats) and shoulders

Dumbbell shoulder press superset with wide-grip pulldowns; 8 sets; reps = 20, 15, 12, 10, 8, 6, 6, 15

Dumbbell laterals superset with reverse-grip close-grip pulldowns: 4 sets of 10-12 reps

Dumbbell upright rows superset with bent-over dumbbell laterals: 4 sets of 6-10 reps

Day 4: arms

Seated dumbbell curls superset with overhead dumbbell extensions; 8 sets; reps = 20, 15, 12, 10, 8, 6, 6, 15

Dumbbell hammer curls superset with cable press downs: 4 sets of 10-12 reps

Ez curls superset with skull crushers: 4 sets of 6-10 reps

To make this even more effective at least metabolically, try incorporating density something like this:

Week 1: 60 seconds rest between supersets

Week 2: 45 seconds rest between supersets

Week 3: 30 seconds rest between supersets

Week 4: 45 seconds rest between supersets

Week 5: 30 seconds rest between supersets

Week 6: 15seconds rest between supersets

Week 7: 45 seconds rest between supersets

DIET

Obviously what you eat will make a huge difference and what I’ve found to be most effective, practical and sustainable in terms of maximizing body composition is the idea of carb backloading.

In short you eat protein, fat and veggies in the early part of the day and save your carbs for the last meal or two.

If this sounds like a weird concept, you are probably used to the notion of eating your carbs early in the day and tapering then off. The mentality behind this was that you would give yourself energy in the early parts of the day and reduce them while your metabolism is slowing down.

While that does seem to make sense on the surface, if we try to think about it from another angle the picture will look a little different.

Reason number one to avoid early carbs: at the start of the day we don’t “need” extra energy. In fact if your body determines it needs extra energy, in the absence of carbs it will take the energy from stored fat – which is what we want!!

Reason number two: our brains send different kind of messages depending on the present food sources. Protein and fats send messages (neurotransmitters) that are energizing and motivating, while carbs tend to be more relaxing and feel-good. This makes it clear that we want the protein and fats early and carbs later on.

Give this puppy a 6-week run and let me know how it works for you!!!

I’ve seen a bunch of articles popping up today citing a study from Birzeit University that suggests fizzy/sparkly/carbonated water can lead to fat gain…

The reasoning is that they feel it leads to a release in ghrelin – the hunger hormone.

Now there are a few details that I think are important to note here…

According to the information provided They tested both diet sodas and carbonated water on rats and found they ate more than the taking non-carbonated drinks.

What this information seems to leave out is the minor detail of artificial sweeteners… sucralose and aspertame do a lot of nasty business to your body and are obviously in abundance in the diet sodas, but how about the fizzy “water”? Just look on the labels at a grocery store and you’ll notice that the vast majority have some form of artificial sweeteners.

I know this is purely anecdotal, but when I drink a carbonated drink I don’t feel hungry but rather I feel full. I also tend to get sparkling water sweetened only from natural sources.

So from what I can tell – and I stand to be corrected – this study was greatly flawed from the outset. That being said I would certainly avoid artificial sweeteners and sugary sodas.

Last week I had to make a weigh-in within 48 hours and had to drop about 7 pounds… here’s how I did it:

belly-fat

If you’ve done a google search on “belly fat” or “abdominal fat”, you are probably experiencing a problem with it and more than likely you are coming across the same old suggestions which you’ve no doubt tried without success. If this sounds familiar to you… I have been in the same boat, and I had to do a lot of digging around to find some actual useful suggestions so hopefully this will help you too.

Aside from being unsightly, belly fat can be a precursor to type 2 diabetes which is a fairly frightening though in and of itself.

It is often said to be due to one of two things: insulin resistance or elevated cortisol.

So the natural solution is to lower your carbohydrates right? Well if you’re like me and have lowered them to near non-existence yet made┬áno progress you’ll know there is something missing here. A lot actually.

The first problem is with cortisol… cortisol is a stress hormone, meaning that it is present when it detects a “stress” – well guess what happens when you depleted of carbohydrates? Your body goes into a state of “stress”. In addition, the hormone Leptin tells your body to stop burning fat as does your thyroid.

New studies seem to confirm this, as they have shown that if people deplete carbohydrates too much and their body has to synthesize the energy they provide, the body will stop burning fat.

So clearly carb depletion is not the answer – yet we need to lower them to resolve the insulin problem…

The solution? Carb cycling.

This is not a new concept by any stretch of the imagination, but here’s a way I have found to implement it practically…

5 days of the week limiting carbohydrate intake to 1-2 meals after training. This will provide carbs when your body really needs them and help prevent cortisol getting out of hand. Then 2-non consecutive days have carbs with EVERY meal (excluding pre-workout if you choose).

But that is not the end of the story.

Something else might be at play here. We have been conditioned recently to believe that dietary fat is not a bad thing and assists with the absorption of vitamins as well as healthy hormonal functions. Unfortunately being lenient on fats might be part of the problem. Dietary fat – specifically saturated fat has been shown to cause insulin resistance (source).

I don’t know about you, but when I am on low carb days I tend to fill out my diet with fat-dense foods. But now we know that doing so might aggravate the issue.

Now I know that a lot of people out there are standing up for saturated fats these days, especially when it means jumping on the coconut oil bandwaggon – but speaking from personal experience, I will be making a conscious effort from this point on to avoid saturated fats.


There are so many things that can lead to frustrated and failed attempts and complicating that is that fact that everyone is so different, this list has helped me navigate through my own fat loss challenges and hopefully will for you as well.

As someone who tends to be over-analytical but everything possible and yet notoriously “scatter-brained” I first made this list out of frustration when my bodyfat, specifically belly fat was not coming off.

It’s broken into two phases, and there is definitely some cross-over, but this is written in the order I think best to address. There’s no sense trying to boost testosterone if you’re eating too much.

Beside each point is ideas to accomplish/overcome these.

Before listing the reasons, a good first step if you are in the boat of feeling frustrated over lack of results is to ensure you are measuring accurately. I’ve had it happen where my weight went up while fat percent went down so the scale itself can be misleading.

PHASE 1:

1. caloric deficit – on the simplest level there has to be a caloric deficit to burn fat. If it is too drastic you will also burn muscle, so it should be a moderate daily deficit. Log everything you eat. The typical human typically misjudges their food intake by about 1,000 kcal when guessing.

2. training intensity – resistance training builds muscle – aka your biggest fat burning mechanism. It positively affects anabolic hormones, provides energy and burns fat.

Bonus 1: In addition, if you’re not doing this already add in 2-3 sessions of HIIT cardio, and increase the intensity of any other cardio you do.

3. protein intake – there are several reasons why this macronutrients is important, so with your daily food tracking ensure you get 1g of protein per – this is probably higher than needed but it’s better to have a little too much than too little.

4. water – being terrible at getting enough water myself I’ve begun logging my water intake as well. Water helps several body functions. One study suggested that drinking cold water burns more calories, while I’m not sure if it’s been validated it seems to make sense.

5. fiber – I think this may be one of the least appreciated foods, but it becomes highly important as it helps with digestion, insulin resistance and makes you feel full.

6. Healthy fat intake – this is also something I log. The ideal amount of fat is around 20-30% of your daily caloric intake.

Bonus 2: Consider Food allergies and intolerances.

7. sleep – quality sleep is where we recover and where our fat burning hormones really come into full flight.

Phase 2:

8. growth hormone – this intriguing little hormone is extremely potent when it comes to burning fat and preserving lean tissue. Good sleep will help with this as will exercise. To get the most out of it try to prime it prior to exercise by steering clear of carbohydrates for three hours prior to working out. Melatonin before sleep may help as well.

9. adrenal fatigue – one very common problem when struggling to lose fat is that our adrenal glands become fatigued. This often happens due to the use of stimulants. If burning fat is truly important to you try cycling off ALL stimulants. No coffee, nothing. It sucks. I’ve done it. The first day or two are tough but following that (if this is the issue) fat starts pouring off like never before. If feels great in the long-term. You can also help adrenal health by increasing vitamin C and magnesium.

10. Leptin – I’ve got leptin pretty high on the hormone list because it has an effect on virtually all of the hormones below including the thyroid. Low leptin levels cause the body to hold onto fat and catabolize muscle. It also causes hunger. Solving this one is multi-faceted… The main way is by incorporating refeed days. But sleep deprivation and poor diet can also negatively affect leptin. What makes this tricky is that the leaner you get the lower leptin levels are making your refeed days all the more important as you progress.

11. cortisol – this guy, the “stress” hormone is a tricky but important one to consider. While it does have benefits to our survival (like all hormones) when out of control can keep us from burning fat. To help with this ensure good sleep, make training sessions shorter but more intense, increase magnesium and vitamin C, and perhaps consider an adaptogen (such as rhodiola rosea) post workout to restore levels.

12. insulin resistance – insulin is a powerful hormone that helps build muscle and also “builds” fat. The ideal scenario is to have high insulin level while your body is in muscle-building mode but more normalized levels the rest of the time. The best way to do this is to eliminate sugary food from your diet, but if you’ve gotten this far in the list you’ve probably done that already. I’ve tried using such insulin mimicking supplements as R-Ala, taurine, cinnamon and garcinia combogia alone and in combination and I’m not convinced that the effect was measurable. What I have found to be useful is increasing omega 3 oils (I always use the capsules, preferably krill), and I also found that pushing off my first meal of the day seemed to help.

13. estrogen – the female sex hormone is another one that is correlated with fat gain. This bugger can get you a number of ways, so if you suspect it is an issue here’s what I’d do– first of all duck the urge to by a fancy (expensive) supplement. If you want to supplement for this look at DIM and calcium d-glucorate. Eat broccoli every day. Switch to using natural soap and shampoo, organic foods, and don’t use plastic dishware as well to reduce environmental estrogens.

14. testosterone – this one is also fascinating because it ties in closely with cortisol and estrogen. To help support the mighty test you want to ensure your body as a whole is operating optimally, so you must eat well and could do with a good multivitamin. In addition, omega-3 and vitamin D3 support it (due to vit D being fat soluble I take them together). Also to help with test make your weight training sessions hard, intense but not too long.

15. thyroid – the thyroid is always the last one I look to because it seems that beyond what’s listed above there’s not a lot of practical solutions. It also tends to be ineffective on low carb diets making carb re-feed days all the more important on a diet. Another thing that may help is adding nuts as a snack once a day – Brazil nuts specifically may be beneficial here.

Bonus 3…

16. A Need! – the more reasons you have to lose weight the more successful you will beat what I previously called the Enemies of Fat Burning. Personally I’ve had to dig really deep to find meaningful reasons. This is done by asking nested “why”s; ask yourself “Why do I need to burn fat?” and when you have an answer again ask “why?”, continue as much as five times.

There you have it folks, hope you enjoyed!

The enemies of fat burning

Posted: December 18, 2015 in Fat Burning, fitness
Tags: , ,

Quick post today, just a couple things I find to be universal problems I have to overcome when getting lean

1. Impatience

Impatience is a dangerous mind set that seeks the quick and easy path, the “I want it al now, for nothing” philosophy. This leads to one of two things, either dangerous shortcuts (like drugs) or this…

2. Discouragement

When we don’t see instant results it is natural to become discouraged. To progress we must first be a way to overcome it.

Two ways to overcome these:

1. Adopt the attitude “I must” for everything important in your life.

Instead of saying you “should” or “want to” do something, when you program it into your mind as a “must” you are creating an attitude that will be effective and long-lasting.

2. Follow the model: create a plan, stick with the plan and adapt as needed.

This model requires spending enough time with a plan to measure it and then with that information you can tweak and hone it.