Nutrition FAQsby John Meadows on May 14, 2014
- Whey, Casein and EAAs
- John’s Favorite Foods
- Periworkout Nutrition
- Post Contest Nutrition
- Adjusting Diets
- Cheat Meals and Refeeds
- Combining Fats and Carbs
- Where to Start
- Nutrient Timing
- Nutrition Plan vs IFYM
- Carbs, Insulin etc.
- Healthy Fats
- Fixing Metabolic Shutdown
- Condiments and Extra’s
- Natural vs “Assisted”
Whey, Casein and EAAs
What is the difference between whey, casein, and EAAs when taken with an intra drink?
This is a great question and one I get asked a lot. First of all the difference between casein and whey. Just think of cow’s milk as having two components for the sake of simplicity. There is a chunky lumpy part (casein), and a liquidy part (whey). As you would think, casein takes longer to break down and absorb.
Now in order to speed up delivery of protein to muscles, and enhance recovery there is something we can do to the protein. We use enzymes that break it down into smaller parts called di and tri peptides. Just know that this makes them very easy to absorb. This process is not cheap and is why you see hydrolyzed casein and whey costing more. In fact, if you see a cheap price on this, you know they didn’t hydrolyze much of the protein and are simply trying to use the name “hydrolyzed” to take advantage of you.
Ok so how do hydro whey, hydro casein, and EAA’s compare when taken intra? Well my experience (100% anecdotal) is that hydro casein and EAAs work best. When I say best, I mean make the most noticeable improvements in recovery. I don’t really see a difference between the two honestly, except that EAAs are much more cost effective. This is why I chose to use EAAs in Intra-MD and it is absolutely outperforming every intra product on the market right now. Plus the EAAs need less water and so you don’t have to load your gut up with as much liquid while you train, another benefit.
John’s Favorite Foods
What are your top 10 foods?
My list would be these foods in no particular order (I could list 100 by the way)
- grass fed beef
- organic free range eggs
- wild caught salmon
- organic blueberries
- organic kale
- raw full fat milk
- rice (any kind)
- sweet potato
- Anything you love (for me it’s cereal and waffles). You should never have to completely give up something you enjoy eating.
What foods would be the base of on an offseason diet?
Protein: grass fed beef, wild salmon, whey Iso CFM or cold filtered, chicken, turkey breast, lean white fish (low mercury), organic free range eggs
Starchy carbs: oats, brown or white rice, sweet potatoes, Ezekiel bread (toast or muffins)
Fibrous carbs: asparagus, kale greens, other greens, broccoli, spinach
Fruit: blueberries, raspberries, organic strawberries, pineapple, papaya, grapefruit, lemon
Fat: Virgin unrefined coconut oil, red palm oil, grass fed butter, EVOO, mac nut oil
What is your philosophy around periworkout nutrition?
Here it is:
- Preworkout meal – finish 30-60 minutes before training
- I like a small to moderate amount of carbs to give you easily useable energy to make it through the training sessions.
- I add in a little fat to keep your blood sugar from spiking too fast, and then you going hypoglycemic right after. Fat will slow the entry of glucose into the bloodstream.
- Make sure the protein you consume is easily digestible such as whey protein or lean fish or chicken.
You want to break down muscle when you are training. You should TRY to kill muscle fiber. BUT, and this is a huge but, you should limit the amount of actual damage done. Training is very catabolic. Your skeletal muscle turnover rate is a combination of MPB (muscle protein breakdown) and MPS (muscle protein synthesis). We want to block muscle protein breakdown, and increase muscle protein synthesis.
- So how do we do this? By raising insulin and free amino acid levels.
- Insulin will slow down MPB, and is very anti catabolic during training. We will increase insulin from rapidly absorbed carb sources that also provide a steady release of insulin and not an insulin “spike”.
- Amino acid levels can be BEST raised by EAA’s or hydrolysates (especially casein hydrolysate). These are broken down proteins (di and tri peptides) that digest almost immediately raising your free amino acid levels. By doing this you have stimulated MPS!
- EAA’s do the job as long as it’s a great amino profile, and do it much more cost effectively.
- The protein also helps amplify the insulin response from the carbs
- BCAA’s are also a pretty good option for those on a little tighter budget.
- My current recommendation is Peri-MD by True Nutrition. I developed this myself, and it is available via True Nutrition at https://truenutrition.com/p-7441-peri-md-30-servings.aspx
- It contains EAA’s in a great ratio, Branch cyclic dextrin, electrolytes, and Citrulline Malate. In other words, only the stuff that you need and in the right amounts.
- I do have a discount code available also for 20% off – mountaindog1 (use all lower letters and no spaces).
Training hard does something really cool. It sends carrier proteins called Glut-4 to the muscle cell surface, and allows it to let glucose into your muscle cells. This also happens when insulin is raised when glucose is in your blood from carbs. Insulin actually attaches to insulin receptors on the cell surface, and this triggers those glut-4 carrier proteins to unlock the cell door.
- Just by training hard we can also get Glut-4 translocation to happen (without insulin), thus allowing cells to open up and let in glucose and other nutrients. You have to train hard and volumous to make this happen FYI. Not running a mile This is called non insulin mediated glut-4 translocation. So there is still tremendous opportunity here to drive nutrients into muscle cells.
- Start eating anywhere between 45 to 60 minutes after training. Remember you had alot of good nutrition DURING training, so you don’t rush.
- Eat a balanced whole food meal such as steak and rice.
How do you adjust periworkout nutrition if you train in the morning?
It’s really no different conceptually. You are eating to support training and muscle growth specifically. I do understand that it can be a bit more challenging if you are crunched for time to eat breakfast. Just go with a simple whey iso shake and blend in some nut butter and oats if that is the case! Post workout, give it an hour unless you are starving, then just eat a normal meal. A normal breakfast would be fine then. Of course drink your intra shake!
How do you spread out carbs when bulking versus cutting?
I would simply bump total carbs up. For off-season, I would scatter them a bit more. The end result of increasing the total amount would probably be something like 60-70% are peri now instead of 80% used for cutting, then we put the other 30-40% at other meals. Work from the inside out. The inside is peri-workout. So put in meals close to there, and then build out. Eventually you will find a sweet spot where you don’t need any more carbs. Hope this helps.
When does the “post workout carb shuttled to muscle not fat” window actually begin?
There is some serious debate on that. Here is my gut feeling. If I don’t eat carbs within 90 or so minutes, I notice more soreness the next day. In my simplistic way of thinking, this may equate to me missing the window. I never miss the protein part (Casein hydrolysates are huge with recovery), so that is the only variable that changes leading me to believe that. Since everybody has different metabolisms, trains differently, etc, I am sure there is some play in that (less or more). FYI, I wait 30 minutes after training (in which I drank a lot of casein hydrolysates), then have 40-50- grams of protein. 45-60 minutes after that I have carbs and more protein most of the time.
How do you adjust periworkout nutrition on lighter training days such as arms and “light/pump” days?
I reduce intra-workout drink by about 50%.
Will whey iso work just as good in the intra drink than whey hydrolysate?
No no no! Whey iso will require too much digestion during training. You want RAPID absorption. You are better off with EAA or BCAA if your funds are really tight.
Post Contest Nutrition
How do I train and eat after a show?
I have an exact plan/strategy I wrote on my express site. Click on the link.
What type of caloric surplus would you recommend starting at for someone natural looking to gain lean mass?
I like to work people up in 200 calorie increments generally speaking. Work people up slowly and surely, so that you are building muscle and not adipose tissue.
What do I do if I get bored with food selections?
You always have free reign to exchange clean foods, just match the macros. So for example if you are eating 30 grams of carbs via oats, but are craving a sweet potato, just eat 30 grams of carbs of sweet potato instead. If you normally eat 6 oz of chicken but want turkey, just eat 6 oz of turkey instead as long as macros are close. Don’t make this out to be harder than it needs to be.
Cheat Meals and Refeeds
Do you recommend cheat or refeed meals?
Yes, I like to do 2-3 times the amount of cals than the meal you are replacing. So if you do a 500 calorie meal, then the cheat would be 1000-1500 cals. The leaner you get and the harder you are, the closer you get toward the 1500. If you have a ways to go, you should be closer to the 1000 in this example. Basically the deeper you are in the diet, and the more likely your metabolism has stalled, the higher the number.
How do you determine when to have a cheat meal when on a weight loss diet?
Generally speaking it comes down to two things. Do you need it mentally or you’ll go bonkers, and also is your metabolism stuck and you can’t seem to lose any more body fat (assuming you have been dieting hard for a while and eating perfect). I would rather someone eat a cheat meal then go on a binge.
Also, the physiological effect of a cheat meal when metabolism is depressed is powerful. Put simply, your body will no longer think it’s in starvation mode and will allow metabolism to pick back up.
Just wondering what your take is on refeeds or carb up periods if following a lower carb pre-comp diet, much like one would if eating only grass-fed beef, whole eggs, coconut oil, salmon steaks, veggies, and 40-50 g fructose (from fruit per day to regulate thyroid output.)
How do you determine when you’ve went overboard on a cheat/reefed meal?
If you feel like crap afterwards, sick to stomach for example, even into the next day, you went too far. You should feel satiated, but not like you are going to vomit. Have a hamburger and fries, not a hamburger, fries, ice cream, cake, sorbet, and waffles. Use common sense, don’t be a glutton.
How do I determine whether to take time off dieting?
It depends on how strict you have been, how long, what your goal is etc. That is hard to answer. Generally speaking if you have been dieting hard for a contest or an event of some kind, it’s good to loosen up for a few days afterward. Also this is dependent on the type of diet too. If someone is doing something very low carb, I believe periodic breaks are necessary to keep your metabolism healthy in the long run.
What can you do to prevent binging and pigging out??
Here are two important tips…
Begin by taking 3 deep breaths from your belly before you begin to eat your meal you help turn on your relaxation system and calm your nervous system. This calmer state allows you to be more present with your food.
Chew thoroughly and slowly. Chew meat up to 30 “chews” per bite. TAKE YOUR TIME. This slow pace will help you register when you are full so you don’t overeat. You also have more time to enjoy your meal and taste all its flavors. Also, it is important to prevent low blood sugar or that “starved” feeling. You know how when you pig out, and still feel hungry, BUT if you wait 10 minutes then you are really full.
Combining Fats and Carbs
I have heard that due to the higher insulin activity when consuming carbs and therefore creating an environment for easy fat storing, it is wrong to combine fats with carbs. Is this true?
Number one, fat slows the entry of glucose into your blood. Why is this important? Well in the past I would do low fat high carb meals (with protein of course), and I would get reactive hypoglycemia. In other words the rapid rise in glucose would cause a massive insulin dump, which in turn made me go hypo.
Then, next thing I know I think I need to eat more to get out of it…it’s really a bad thing mentally. Do you wait it out, or do you eat more carbs to get your sugar back up? I noticed that I was getting these episodes more and more and it sucked to be honest. Once I started adding in some fat, PROBLEM SOLVED. No more reactive hypoglycemia, and I felt fuller between meals, and not like I was starving and my insides were wasting away. Now you make a great point in mentioning easy fat storing…here is the key…you can eat less carbs when you add fat. So you are not eating a ton of carbs this way. Your body generally speaking does not need a ton of carbs unless it is pre or post workout.
Where to Start
I was wondering if you could give me some insight on a meal plan for a 290 pound man. I am roughly 5” 10’ tall 14% body fat and what to get leaner and totally change my eating choices to get all processed and enriched foods out of my life forever. I work out 5 days a week and do cardio 6 days a week. Most people are very impressed with my build but, I would like to get extremely lean.
This is a very broad question, but here are some tips for you ok. I want you to try eating 363 (290 x 1.25) grams of protein spread out over 6 meals ok. For fat eat 145 grams (290 x .5). For carbs, I want you to keep them under 100 grams on days you do not train hard with weights and on days you do train hard with weights, try to consume 80% of carbs pre and post workout, and 20% with breakfast. Go 300 grams total so 120 before training, 120 after, and 80 in the morning on the training days. Do your cardio on empty stomach in the am, and drink a cup of coffee first ok. Just do this, and let me know what happens!
Can you explain a little bit more specifically how you set up diets for leaning out as well as lean bulking?
For leaning out, the first thing I have to do is figure out what your maintenance level of calories is with the right nutrient dense foods. From that point, we can adjust carb intake slowly downwards (with occasional high days to fuel metabolism).
The truth is that for lean bulking, we can basically do the same thing, except adjust carbs upward. With lean bulking I also can adjust fats or protein upwards too, but with the leaning out, I generally prefer to not remove too much fat or protein.
For foods, get into the habit of thinking beyond macros. Think about micronutrition. What I mean by that is think about the food you are eating and what you expect to get out of it in terms of vitamins, minerals, etc. You must also consider proper absorption. If you get into the habit of thinking that way, your diet will become more well rounded, more healthy, and just make you generally feel better and stronger.
Try 1 gram of protein per lb of bodyweight, and try .5 grams for fat. For carbs, make sure you get 50 grams pre-workout, and 80 grams post workout. Now, see how you feel, and begin to add carbs in until you think you have found the right level for maintenance. Once you have figured that out, now you can make adjustments depending on your goals!
I use the template you set up on t-nation and I love your concepts of keeping lean and packing on quality muscle with your diet. I just have trouble with the quantity of macros, do you have any rule of thumb you use for this? What about for peri-workout, especially my intra drink of hydrolysates and high quality carbs?
I don’t go too crazy with macro calculations, but a good general rule is 1.25 grams of protein per lb, .4 grams of fat, and carbs are going to vary based on metabolism and activity level. For peri workout just shoot for 30 grams of carbs, 30-40 of protein, and 10 of fat in pre-workout meal. For the intra drink start at 20 grams of hydrolysates and 50 grams of branched cyclic dextrin. If you continue to get really sore work your dose up. Do this until you see a big change in recovery. That is when you have hit the optimal point. Post workout have a bigger meal. I like 8 oz of beef with 2 cups of rice personally.
Do you count calories when dieting, or do you simply eat leaner cuts etc, and monitor your fat loss?
I monitor portions and calories VERY closely. I am very meticulous pre-contest. Off-season I do not.
Is it possible to lose body fat by only adjusting macronutrients and timing without actually lowering calories at all?
This is a tricky one. There is a lot of disagreement here. I personally think yes because of the hormonal effect of food, and also because of the state your body is in during and after training. For example, take someone who has 150 grams of carbs spread out all day, getting insulin surges and making it harder for body to tap into fat stores (not saying it can’t), and then you move them all to intra and post workout training. At that point the carbs are much more likely to be shuttled into muscle cells due to training, whereas say in the morning, your fat cells were insulin sensitive too. Now you have lowered carbs early, so body will tend to burn more fat during day.
So you know, you may be ridiculed for believing this, as many believe the only way to lose fat is by simply consuming less than you are actually burning. I don’t think the body is this simple. For weight loss I might agree, but for body composition, my best evidence is that I see hundreds of people every year gain muscle and lose weight at the same time. So were they in caloric excess? Below maintenance?
In regards to meal timing, I work from 6 am to 2:30 pm usually every Monday through Friday with a long commute, so I need to train after work. Now, I am trying to follow the diet plan that you created for Antoine Vaillant, but due to time restrictions, I’m not sure of the best time to eat certain meals. This usually means that once I finished working out, I need to eat, shower, and sleep. I know you stress eating carbs around your workout, but is it alright for me to do that when I workout only a couple of hours before bed?
Absolutely it is ok to have carbs at night around training! When you train, you set your muscle up to preferentially suck in glucose, and it doesn’t matter if it’s morning, noon, or night. Don’t be afraid of getting fat. That is more of a function of just overeating over the course of a day. If you are trying to get leaner, keep those early meals primarily protein and fat.
I have read you saying to take fats with carbs pre-workout to eliminate the risk of going hypo. Does “hypo” mean the down you feel after a big insulin peak? Can I just prevent this by using a lower GI carb?
Correct, but any carb can cause it potentially. Fat pretty much eliminates the risk because it slows down how fast glucose can get into your blood, and without the rush of glucose, you won’t have the same magnitude of an insulin dump.
Are there any upper limit for how much carbs I can eat for my last meal, and still get lean?
There is no set answer for this. Experiment starting at 25 grams and see how you do!
Nutrition Plan vs IFYM
I would like to get your thoughts on two dietary approaches:
Approach 1. “Make the macros fit” i.e. you have an absolute calorie target and p/c/f macro targets to meet. Making your food fit within your macros is the most important aspect of being compliant with the diet. Food/Nutrient choice and timing are de-emphasised.
Approach 2. “Make the food fit”, i.e. you have a relative calorie and p/c/f macro target. Food choice, nutrient profile and timing are emphasized as being the most critical factor. Absolute calorie and macro levels are not as important. However, establishing an accurate relative baseline of calories and macros at the beginning of the diet is important.
For most people just trying to get in shape this approach will work well. For those who are competing at a high level, not so much. I remember following this strategy in my 20’s and doing things like eating deli meat instead of real meat, and frozen yogurt instead of rice or sweet potatoes, etc. It never worked. I never had the same look with that kind of plan. I could tell you many stories about people I coached over the years showing up soft and then telling me they were making special pizzas, or what have you that fit into their macros. So for most people yes, those looking to get really lean and awesome, I do not like.
As far as the second approach, well I certainly like better food choices, but here you can’t overeat these good choices, or under eat for that matter. So there is a weakness here as well. Overall calories do matter.
Carbs, Insulin etc.
My question is: Do you think fats have more potential to be stored as fat? With protein and carbs you have more of a thermogenic effect (it takes more metabolic steps therefore more energy burned) vs fat. If you had two diets that were equal in calories and grams of protein with the only difference being one high in fat and the other high in carbs (same calories), would one be more prone to put on fat with higher carb or higher fat? If yes, could you explain?
Excellent, excellent question. First of all it is my belief that part of the answer to that question lies in the insulin sensitivity of your muscle and fat cells. People who are more prone to depositing glucose from their blood and into muscle cells, will be able to use fat as an energy source better and stay leaner. Those who are insulin resistant will have the opposite effect. Their bodies won’t be as efficient at getting glucose into muscle, heck it might not get into fat cells either…so it just continues to stay in the blood. So the guy who eats more carbs, if he is insulin resistant, might actually get fatter than the guy who is on the higher fat diet. One thing is for sure though, it’s hard to burn fat when your blood sugar is high! Now of course you have other factors like the type of fat (degree of saturation) and carbs (simple vs complex) etc. You also have to factor in when the high carb guy eats his carbs. Does he eat them in the morning when fat cells are more insulin sensitive, or concentrate them around workouts? So you see it’s a very complex question, with a very complex answer. I am just scratching the surface of this.
Do you and how do you count the carbs coming from veggies and will they raise insulin levels?
Eat as much fibrous veggies as you like, just don’t eat so much you upset your digestive tract. Fiber is a tricky little guy. Most fibrous veggies will raise insulin very little, I wouldn’t worry about that.
Do you cut carbs in the off-season on non-training days?
I eat less carbs on off days, but honestly with my new training regimen, I don’t have too many off days. I do subscribe to the theory that you eat less carbs on days less active. Some people believe that you should eat more on off days to facilitate recovery. I couldn’t disagree more. The best opportunity to do that is intra workout and post workout while you are actually training and creating the right environment for perfect nutrient absorption. In terms of spreading carbs out, work from the inside out. Start at your periworkout protocol, and place the majority of them there. If you don’t feel that’s enough simply add to the meals closest to those and so forth.
I have had low test levels for the last few years, and working out has been a struggle. I have incorporated your recommendations into my diet, and I have to say, this is the best I have felt in years. My strength is skyrocketing, I am setting new PRs every week, and I just feel so much better mood-wise. Just wanted to thank you. I now love beef liver, whole eggs, and grass fed beef, when I used to mainly eat tuna/chicken and rice. You live and you learn I guess.
I want to talk more about why I believe this gentleman’s personal bests are not placebo.
I am a huge believer in saturated fat (in the right quantity, and the right type) and fat soluble vitamins A,D,E, and K.
Think about this, we know that Vitamin A is essential for mineral and protein metabolism, production of sex hormones, and thyroid function. Now those sound pretty important to not only someone concerned about general health, but to a bodybuilder as well too right. Now if animals are not consuming green grass – they will be missing a great deal of Vitamin A (and K actually)…so egg yolks, liver, butterfat in milk, etc..will be much lower in fat soluble vitamins…
If an animal is raised in confinement without the sun also, now you have a double whammy – lack of vitamin D ( needed for healthy insulin production, nervous system, and protection against heart disease…hmmm..those sound pretty important too huh… Those are just a few of the reasons of why I am so anti-grain fed and pro-grass fed.
Please ease my wife’s concerns that I am not going to drop dead of a heart attack from it.
Don’t buy into the hype that butter clogs up your arteries due to the saturated fat content. Let me tell you what butter really does to your body.
- The Omega 3 to 6 ratio is perfect. That equals better health and better fat loss. It has palmitoleic acid in it, a monounsaturated fat, that is very antimicrobial, and is key for communication between cells.
- The saturated fats are generally short and medium chain like coconut oil which protects us against infection..
So you have good polys, good monos, and good saturates..
You get a very good dose of Vitamin A that absorbs easy..some would say the most absorbable form there is actually. You get lots of trace minerals – chromium, zinc copper, selenium (also great antioxidant). If its from a grass fed cow – you get CLA.
Actually if it’s raw/unpasteurized – you get this stuff called Wulzen Factor which prevents arthritis and relieves joint stiffness in many – that was a key discovery from Dr Weston Price.
I am scared to follow your diet because I have always heard cholesterol is bad, please relieve my concerns so that I can make the leap as the others on here have, and experienced great results.
I don’t blame you my friend! I was in the same boat as you at one time. I was totally sucked into the lipid hypothesis. I get asked a lot about managing cholesterol…
My very short story of what I believe:
First of all, cholesterol is the strongest anti-oxidant in your body. It heals.
Sugar and trans fat cause arterial inflammation, so cholesterol is sent to the arteries to repair them. If you lower refined sugars, and trans fats, your total cholesterol will come down. So when you try to eliminate cholesterol from your body, it’s kind of like blowing up the ambulance that is going to a car wreck, you’re killing the wrong thing.
I have people reduce carbs, and take Alpha Lipoic Acid, Chromium Picolinate or both with carb meals (which definitely helps get you leaner during dieting phases too btw), and it works every time. Also, low fat, low cholesterol diets are really unnatural because of cholesterol being a parent molecule to so many adrenal gland hormones. When I have people with low test levels, I bomb them with whole eggs (organic free range only). They always feel better, feel stronger, and usually their HDL goes up. Now I know that your liver increases or decreases cholesterol output based on your diet, but when you don’t eat any saturated fat or cholesterol, you really stress it.
Hope this helps! By the way – cholesterol readings above 200 have never been proven to cause a great incidence in heart disease EVER. Don’t even bring up the name Ancel Keys, or we will have a war on our hands. HAHA.
Where do you suggest getting the free range organic eggs?
The eggs I would try to get from a farmer in your area that you can see actually has them out running around (pastured). If not, what you should do is try to get cage free eggs, but here is the main thing. You can identify a good egg visually. The yolk is really yellowish orange. The more orange the better, and the yolk is really firm and doesn’t just fall apart when it comes out of the egg. You will see what I mean if you buy eggs from different sources. So organic and cage free, if you cannot get from a farmer is your second best choice. Also you can find tons of farmers listed by state on www.eatwild.com
What are the benefits to using MCT oil?
I don’t like MCT oil one bit. I do like medium chain triglycerides when they occur naturally in food, such as coconut oil. The plain oil though seems to cause gastric distress in many people who take it. This alone make me leery of it. MCT’s are great because they are a very useable source of energy. They are so easy for your body to use; your body doesn’t even need to really need to make bile salts to break it down. Your liver sucks it up, and boom, energy.
Which brand for alpha lipoic acid do you recommend, and how and when do you take it?
I like TrueNutrition.com brand for this. The way you take it depends on your goals. If you want to get more glucose disposal from it, take 900 mgs after training. If you want more of the antioxidant effect (I am nitpicking here), take 300 mg 3 x a day. No matter when you take it you will get the liver health benefits, and many, many other positive things. The r-ALA version is in the supplement (MD’s Ultimate Glucose Disposal Agent) I created along with other very useful ingredients.
Can you explain the significance of the casein hydrolysate in more detail? Why is it superior to hydrolyzed whey?
This is a great question. The key here is not to focus on whether it is casein or whey, it’s that it is hydrolyzed. This means that the protein is broken down into smaller units (di and tripeptides). This means they absorb rapidly with very low digestive stress. Rapid absorption means an increase in plasma amino acid levels. This in of itself doesn’t really mean much, BUT when you introduce this around training (Intra especially, or even post workout), protein synthesis is the result.
What is your opinion of using protein bars as part of a person’s diet? I know that most of the bars on the market are essentially glorified candy bars, but I only buy Parrillo brand or Biotest brand.
I am not big on 99% of the protein bars out there. They beat starving, but many of them are loaded with crap. I really like Finibars from Biotest (especially pre-workout), and funny you mentioned Parillo bars, I used to carb up on them back in the 90s. I am not sure what ingredients go in the bars these days.
What do you think about the ECA stack for fat burning? How about yohimbine?
Ephedrine, caffeine, and baby aspirin – the ole ECA stack. It works, and it is potent. I would only use it for short bursts at a time though. 4 weeks on, 20 weeks off. It can be hard on your body. I have never tried Yohimbine by itself or had anyone else do it by itself, so it is hard to honestly tell you the effect, when I am not sure. Dan Duchaine was the guy that brought this stuff into the mainstream saying it worked on Alpha receptors and in particular, trouble spots (hips and thighs for women – love handles for men). I don’t think I ever noticed anything significant along those lines.
Here is one nice simple suggestion I can give you to try that I give to all my athletes
Before your breakfast, drink a big cup of coffee and take 2 grams of Tyrosine then hit your cardio. Make sure it is on an empty stomach. This works awesome for fat loss! Try it and let me know what you think.
What is your liver health supplement protocol?
I take my liver health very seriously. Not only for general purposes, but also because the healthier your liver, the better you can burn fat and stay lean. Personally I take 2 LiverCare caps 2 x a day made by Himalaya. It is Liv52. Awesome stuff. Also I take Alpha Lipoic Acid at 600-900 mgs a day depending on how I am using it at the time, and lastly I take TrueProtein Mega Milk Thistle 2 x a day at 500mg each. All of my labs have come back looking perfect when I stick to this regimen. The cool thing is that liver supplements aren’t that expensive, so even those on a budget can generally afford it! Also, here is an article I wrote on Liver Health from t-nation.com
How much Vit D should I take and what kind?
I get mine from http://www.vitd3.com In terms of dosage, the best thing to do is get a 25 OHD test from your doctor and get your levels tested first. If they are low, you can try the protocol that Dr. Serrano had me try. Take 10,000 units a day for 7 days, then 10,000 three times a week thereafter. Get tested again, and see how this works for you. Even if you are not low, 10,000 a week is still a great supplement to your dietary sources.
Do you recommend any type of nitric oxide supplements?
I am not sold on these supplements. Studies can tell you they are great, but in the real world, results are varying greatly from person to person, and with most saying they get no long lasting gains. I think that post workout the vasodilation from Arginine can help with nutrient delivery, but I just don’t see lasting results with actual muscle gain. Believe me, I love a supplement that helps with transient muscle pump, but good food can do that.
What are the best products for heart health?
Without a doubt CoQ10. Also, if you want to do it with food, get some organic buffalo heart. Dr Serrano is high on that as well, as is another smart friend of mine whom we have interviewed on this site Chris Masterjohn. If you get the supplement, try 300mg daily. It is great for energy too.
Fixing Metabolic Shutdown
Well I have been stuck in a rut the last year trying to get lean, I’ve gone up to 1.5 hours a day doing cardio, lifting 6 days a week and eating anywhere from 1200-1400 calories trying to find the perfect the balance. I still have not got to where I want to be. I did a figure show in 2011 and pretty much blew up. I got back down to finally under 120 but not as lean as I’d like to be. I am doing so much cardio to stay this way and eating low cals, what is the best way to get my metabolism back up, do less cardio and be able to eat more while still being able to incorporate a cheat meal?
Boy this is a hot topic lately. I have been preaching for people to ease up on cardio and do more weight training for a long time. At first, I don’t think people really listened, but now people are listening because many out there have the same experience you do. I wish I could say that there is an easy solution. Often times there are not. What we would ideally do is just gradually work up your calories some, try to help adrenals get back to 100%, and just really manage your stress levels in general.
So here are five tips:
- Add 50 calories a week. Yes this might seem tedious, but you are in a pickle, and it’s that way it has to be.
- Do whatever it you need to do to ensure you get 8 hours of sleep a night.
- Remove all stimulant type supplements, and add in 1 grams of vitmain C with bioflavanoids daily. Stress depletes Vitamin C levels in your body.
- Add a pinch of sea salt to your meals. This can help worn down adrenals.
- Slowly cycle down cardio until you are only doing weight training.
Condiments and Extra’s
What are your views on condiments/seasonings during contest prep?
I love them! Do not be afraid to use spices!!! Some things I like include Gluten free Szechuan, Gluten Free soy sauce, all Mrs. Dash, natural ketchup in small quantity, garlic salt, onion powder, mustards, Buffalo Wing sauce, any hot sauce, garlic, oregano, etc. You NEVER have to eat bland food! As long as calories is under 5 calories a serving, I’m on it!
During a pre-contest phase, what is your opinion on Crystal Lite and sugar free gum? Do you limit these or not? Or do you eliminate them completely?
I think you are fine with these in moderation, but just be aware that most sugar alcohols don’t absorb correctly in your small intestine and can bloat you or cause stomach issues. Again, just use in moderation…don’t go overboard.
Can I use any sugar free, gluten free condiments and beverages? I typically stick with hot sauce and mustard. Lemon juice, should it be fresh, or can it be bottled? Kimchi, how much should I take? When should I take?
Gluten free Szechuan, stuff sweetened with Sucralose (I am not a Splenda hater yet). I mostly do hot sauce, low carb (no HFCS) ketchup, and mustard myself.
Lemon juice should be fresh, unless you can find 100 real lemon juice that is bottled. I have some, so I know it’s out there. But just be sure to get the REAL stuff…not the fake (from concentrate) stuff.
I like to take Kimchi before bed, but you can anytime really, or use this as a condiment, it is AWESOME on scrambled eggs, and rice…I eat probably about 1 cup a shot.
Natural vs “Assisted”
With adequate peri-workout nutrition do you see adding in weight sessions and reducing cardio sessions as a viable approach for an unassisted competitor?
It absolutely is. The insane thing I am seeing is that perfect peri-workout nutrition seems to work every bit as well (in terms of recovery) on people whether they are “enhanced” or not.
How can I avoid overtraining if I am natural?
I would first of all make sure that I was training no more than 5 days a week max. If you start to feel weak, sluggish, can’t recover well, I would take it down to 4 days a week. One other thing that works really well to get people sort of brought out of an over trained state pre contest, is to back way off on their cardio work too.
At first cardio seems to help facilitate recovery, but you get to a point where you just start to burn muscle, and that is when you get really flat and small and over trained. I would do these things first before making my actual workout easier.