Meal Frequency: Is Eating Six Times a Day Necessary?

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Eating Six Times a Day

Is All That Eating Necessary ... Really?

One question that is popping up all over the bodybuilding space is the question is meal frequency.  Not just meal timing, just the basic question of how many times do I need to eat per day?

Just the other day I received this note …. (for you who can’t read, I’m not saying this, I said I received this)

No study has ever confirmed that it is more efficient to eat 6 small meals as opposed to 3 big meals (or even 2!) in terms of body composition results.

ZERO!

Are those six meals a day I’ve heard about really necessary?  People have been told for some time that in order to build muscle and gain weight, they need to be eating.   In the past, you’ve probably heard that eating more frequent meals is has a thermodynamic effect and you will burn more fat by eating more often. ( A study done in 2010 disproves this assumption)

But is this dogma true?  First, let’s examine the short list of frequent meals.  This list is by no means definitive.

Benefits of More Meals Per Day:

  • appetite control
  • frequent eating and tight control of within day energy balance help to control insulin
  • personal observation (not scientific but not irrelevant either)
  • energy balance
  • higher meal frequency is important from a cortisol control standpoint

Drawbacks to More Meals Per Day:

  • too much eating
  • burden to carry so much food around
  • preparation for the amount of food
  • not necessary to achieve the proper amount of total daily calories
  • not necessary for the current level of athletic training

” If eating 5-6 times a day helps control your appetite and easily hit your calorie goals, if it gives you more energy, keeps you satisfied all day long and you enjoy it – then that’s the way to go. If eating bodybuilder-style with 5 or 6 whole food meals a day is a burden to you with the food prep and time spent eating, or it makes it harder to stick with your plan, not easier, then you’re better off with 3 or 4 meals a day or 3 meals with snacks.”Tom Venuto, author of Burn the Fat Feed the Muscle

To take Tom Venuto’s statement a bit further here’s what Dr. Dan Benardot, PhD., RD, LD, FACSM, and author of Advanced Sports Nutrition says on the meal frequency subject…

“There is a limit to how much energy (i.e., calories) the body can handle properly at one time. By satisfying our total energy requirements through infrequent eating opportunities, this limit is passed and problems occur. In addition, infrequent eating does nothing to address normal blood sugar fluctuation. Blood sugar peaks about one hour after eating, and is back to pre-meal levels about two hours after that. That means that we can expect a normal range of blood sugar for about three hours. Unless something is consumed to satisfy the need for blood sugar every three hours, gluconeogenesis can result with a loss of lean mass.”

“A dedicated bodybuilder should eat at least five times a day and space those meals no further than three hours apart.  I have found eating smaller, more frequent meals, or in other words “grazing” throughout the day, is the most efficient way for my body to process food.”SkipLaCour; six-time national drug-free champion bodybuilder; author of Bodybuilding Nutrition

Will Brink, author, columnist and consultant, to the supplement, fitness, bodybuilding, and weight loss industry and author of Bodybuilding Revealed & Fat Loss Revealed weights in with an excellent video on the subject.

Do You Need to Eat Six Times a Day or More?

At this point, I hope you are not confused!  What I’ve found is that first and foremost you must get your required number of calories per day to reach your goals.  After that, meal timing becomes important given your activities in the next hours.  You do not need to eat more frequent meals IF your blood sugar is in control and your appetite is fine.

Signs of Hunger:

  • hunger pangs
  • loss of focus and inability to concentrate

If you are NOT engaging in high intensity training or activities that require some type of re-fueling OR if you are taking a training break OR sedentary, then 3 meals a day would probably be just fine.

However, if you want to optimize performance, be your best at your intense workouts, perform longer duration activities, then don’t get caught in the trap of controversy that says multiple meals (maybe 5 maybe more) is not necessary.  Or that there’s no evidence via studies to show that multiple meals has an affect on body composition.

In fact it IS and there are SEVERAL studies (listed below) that prove this.

Going by personal experience, as should you in this case, if you find yourself getting light-headed and you feel like you want to grab the closest candy bar, you are probably experiencing some significant swings in insulin.  Having more frequent meals helps control this issue and it’s why I like having 5-6 meals per day.  I’m able to eat at a 15% calorie deficit when cutting without going crazy with hunger or insulin making me make horrible choices out of desperation.

However, if you eat 3 times a day maybe a snack or two and get your calories in per day, have energy for your activity and you experience NONE of the hunger swings or cravings, you simply don’t need more meals per day.

I am a fan of frequent eating but is it absolutely 100% necessary?

The answer is you should customize your meal frequency!

Meal Frequency can be affected by:

  • environmental
  • your history
  • accessibility
  • culture
  • time
  • finances
So YOUR meal frequency really needs to be customized to your situation based on the benefits and drawbacks listed above in addition to your personal situation.

In the meantime, based on the research and several experts in the field of nutrition and bodybuilding listed here on subject, I’ll continue to eat my six bodybuilding style meals per day.

I’d love to know what you think on this subject.

Marc David – CPT
“The NoBull Muscle Guy”
Author of NoBull Bodybuilding

Additional Resources and Studies on Meal Frequency

  • Meal Frequency: International Society of Sports Nutrition
  • Meal Frequency and Energy Balance by Lyle McDonald
  • Researchers Look at How Frequency of Meals May Affect Health
  • Beneficial metabolic effects of regular meal frequency on dietary thermogenesis, insulin sensitivity
  • Meal frequency and energy balance
  • Meal Frequency and Weight Loss by Dr. Christopher Mohr
  • Optimal Protein Intake And Meal Frequency To Support Maximal Protein Synthesis and Muscle Mass by Dr. Layne Norton
  • Effects of meal frequency on body composition during weight control in boxers

More Studies:

  • Nibbling versus gorging: metabolic advantages of increased meal frequency
  • The relationship between frequency of eating and adiposity in adult men and women in the Tecumseh Community Health Study
  • Effect of meal frequency and timing on physical performance

How To Gain Muscle And Lose Fat At The Same Time

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Holy Grail Body Transformation
a candid interview with Tom Venuto
www.holygrailpromo.com

Note: Tom Venuto is the author of Burn the Fat Feed the Muscle.  The original program of how to lose weight while building muscle.  It’s been called the Bible of Nutrition by many including myself.  It’s a constant reference on the shelf.  Now he has created a new program which takes some of the fundamentals in Burn the Fat to the next level.  It is called The Holy Grail Body Transformation System.

Now onto the interview!…

“How can I gain muscle and lose fat at the same time?” That’s right up there with “How do I get six pack abs” as one of the most frequently asked fitness questions of all time. The problem is, when you ask it, you get all kinds of conflicting answers – even from experts who are supposed to know these things. So what’s the deal? Is it really possible to lose fat and build muscle simultaneously?

Short answer: Yes, you can gain muscle and lose fat at the “same time.”

Long answer: It’s difficult and it’s complicated. Allow me to explain….

First we have the issue of whether you really lose fat and gain muscle at the “same time.”

Well, yes, if your definition of the “same time” is say, a month or 12 weeks. But in that case, you’re probably not gaining muscle at the “same time” literally speaking, as in, right now this very moment you are reading this, or 7 days a week, 24 hours a day for months in a row.

The best explanation for what’s really happening is that you alternate between periods of caloric surplus (anabolism) and caloric deficit (catabolism) and the net result is a gain in muscle and a loss in body fat.

You see, if you stay in a calorie surplus, it’s the body’s natural tendency for body fat and lean body mass to go up together. And if you stay in a calorie deficit, it’s your body’s natural tendency for body fat and lean body mass to go down together.

There may be exceptions, but the general rule is that it is very difficult to gain muscle and lose fat at the same time – the mechanisms are mostly antagonistic to one another. When it does happen, it’s almost always the result of “unusual conditions” – I call them X factors.

The 4 X-Factors

The first X-factor is “training age”
.  Ever hear of “newbie gains?” The less trained your body is and the further you are from your genetic potential, the easier it is to gain muscle. The reverse is also true – an advanced bodybuilder with 20 years experience would be thrilled just to gain a few pounds of solid dry muscle in a year!

The second x factor is muscle memory. It’s easier to regain muscle you’ve lost than it is to gain new muscle in the first place (ergo, the fat out of shape semi retired bodybuilder who starts training again and blows up and gets ripped “overnight”).

The third X factor is genetics (or somatotype). Ever heard of the “genetic freak?” That’s the dude who sprouts muscle like weeds even when he’s on the “50-50 diet” (50% McDonald’s and 50% pizza)… and he never gets fat. (That dude chose the right parents!)

The fourth X factor is drugs. It would stun (or sadden) you if you knew how many people take performance and physique-enhancing drugs. I’m not just talking about pro bodybuilders, I’m talking about “Joe six pack” in the gym – not to mention those fitness models you idolize in the magazines. How did they get large muscle gains with concurrent fat loss? Chemicals.

I’m not a gambling man, but I’ll place a wager on this any day: I’ll bet that in 99% of the cases of large muscle gains with concurrent large fat losses, one or more of these x factors were present.

That’s not all! There are actually 5 more X factors related to your body composition and diet status (the X2 factors). But I’ll have to talk about those later.

So you’re not a beginner, you don’t take roids, you’re not a genetic freak and you have no muscle memory to take advantage of. Are you S.O.L? Well, I do want you to be realistic about your goals, but…

There IS a way for the average person to gain muscle and lose fat at the same time.

The Secret: You have to change your “temporal perspective!”

Traditionally nutritionists and fitness pros have only looked at calorie balance in terms of 24 hour periods. At midnight, you could tally up the calories like a shopkeeper closing out his register, and if the balance were positive, you’d say you were in a surplus for the day. If the balance were negative, you’d say you were in a deficit for the day.

But it’s entirely possible that you might pass through periods of “within-day” surplus where you were in a highly anabolic state (for example, you eat the biggest, highest carb meal of the day after your workout), and you were in a deficit the rest of the day.

If you did intense weight training, and you timed your nutrient intake appropriately, Isn’t it possible that you could gain a small amount of muscle during those anabolic hours, while losing fat the rest of the day? Granted it might only be grams or ounces – but what if you kept that up for a week? A month? Three months?

As you pan out and look at the bigger picture, what if most days of the week you were in a deficit for the entire day, and on some days you were in a surplus? If so, then isn’t it possible that over the course of the week, you’d have a small net gain of muscle and loss of body fat a a result of the caloric fluctuation?

These within-day and within-week phases are called microcycles and mesocycles. If you also had a primary goal with a longer term focus of several months, say 12 weeks or 16 weeks, that would be a macrocycle.

What I’ve just described is nutritional periodization. Some people call it cyclical dieting. it’s where you manipulate your calories (primarily by fluctuating carbohydrate intake, hence “carb cycling”) in order to intentionally zig zag your way through periods of surplus and deficit and create specific hormonal responses.

The end result: muscle gain and fat loss during the same time period!

I know that someone out there is having a hissy fit because I’ve only talked about calories: deficits and surpluses. Rightfully so. Calories matter but there’s more to it than calories – most importantly, hormones and “nutrient partitioning.”

If you’re in a calorie deficit you are going to pull energy from your body.The question is: From WHERE? If your hormones are out of whack and you’re eating crap, you could lose more muscle than fat in a deficit and gain almost pure fat, not muscle, in a surplus!

But WHAT IF you could manipulate within day energy balance, use nutritional periodization AND control your hormones with food and lifestyle strategies?

AHA! NOW you can see how concurrent muscle gain and fat loss are starting to look possible!

Make no mistake – concurrent muscle gain and fat loss is a difficult goal to achieve. The good news: difficult does not mean impossible. Or as George Santayana said, “The difficult is that which can be done immediately, the impossible, that which takes a little longer.”

The Holy Grail Body Transformation Program: How to Gain Muscle and Lose Fat at The Same Time

You can learn more about gaining muscle and losing fat at the same time in Tom Venuto’s new e-book called, “The Holy Grail Body Transformation System.”

You’ll learn all about nutritional periodization, cyclical dieting, hormonal manipulation, within day energy balance, nutrient partitioning, AND the all the X factors, including the 5 “X2-Factors” – which are the keys to gaining muscle and losing fat at the same time.

You’ll also get Tom’s new “TNB” training system, as seen in Men’s Fitness magazine (the complete, expanded version that Men’s Fitness didn’t have room to print).

Download your Free “Holy Grail Body Transformation Revealed” reports at:

www.holygrailpromo.com

 

The Holy Grail of Body Transformation

 

- Marc David

P.S. - I’m currently doing the Holy Grail Body Transformation program myself.  If you have any questions about the blog post above, feel welcome to drop a comment below. If you have any questions after you download and read (or listen to) the Holy Grail Revealed interview, you can post those questions specifically on the new Holy Grail protocol here.

Ask the readers: Best Weight Gain Tip?

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Today I will ask you, the readers, to create the content for this site.  Many of you are experts yourself having been through this before.  I’ve never tried this concept on this blog and if it works, it will be something I’ll do often.  If not, can’t blame me for not giving it a shot.

Many of us would like to gain weight — some of us just 10 pounds, and others more than 50.  But it’s not easy. We put ourselves through nutrition nightmares, we fail in our daily eating, we continue to stay the same weight, and we feel frustrated and confused about it.  Worse yet, if you are desperate to gain weight you are told by many how lucky you are to be so skinny without even trying.  For an ectomorph who’s trying to pack on muscle, this is just a backhanded compliment.

But you can gain weight. It can be done. Some of you have even done it.  I’ve done it myself after 20 years of natural bodybuilding.

So here’s your question for today:

What’s your best weight gain tip?

Put your two cents in! Let us know in the comments.

Why is Nutrition Important?

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A few days ago a client came to me and thanked me for the meal plans provided. After following them, his results were showing.  But he still had the most common of questions and while he hated to ask … I’m glad he did.

“Why is Nutrition Important?” he said.

Frankly … this comes up a lot.  People blindly follow a routine or a meal plan without understanding even the basics of why nutrition is important.  If they do not grasp the concept, it is very easy to stop following it.  Once you understand the importance and characteristics of a good nutrition program, you will be more inclined to follow it.

“Nutrition is what gives us the raw materials for recuperation, energy, and growth. Without a good diet, your dreams of achieving your ideal body will never be reached.” – Hugo A. Rivera, CFT, SPN, BSCE

The following article was submitted by Hugo Rivera, author of The Body Re-Engineering System.  See The Body Re-Engineering System for more information on packing on quality muscle mass.

What Should A Good Nutrition Program Consist Of?

1) It should favor smaller and frequent feedings throughout the day instead of smaller ones.

Why? Because when you feed your body several times a day, your metabolism increases. Therefore, you burn more fat. Frequent feedings are of particular importance since after three to four hours of no food your body switches to a catabolic state (a state in which you lose muscle and gain fat!). The body believes that it is starving and it starts feeding itself on lean muscle tissue and it prepares to store calories as fat. Bad scenario!

Therefore, in order for your program to work, you will eat between four to six meals (depending gender and goals) a day spaced out at 2-1/2 to 3 hour intervals.

2) Every meal should have carbohydrates, protein and fat in the correct ratios.

Having a meal that is not balanced (for example is all carbohydrates) won’t yield the desired results. Every macro nutrient has to be present in order for the body to absorb them and use them properly. Without boring you with the effect of food on the body’s biochemistry, let’s just say that if you only eat carbohydrates in one meal without anything else, your energy levels will crash in about 30 minutes and your body will be storing any carbohydrates that were not used into fat.

Conversely, if you only eat protein, you will lack energy and your body will not be able to turn the protein into muscle because it is difficult for the body to absorb protein in the absence of carbohydrates. In addition, the ratios for each particular macro nutrient have to be correct in order to get the results that you want.

The ratio of our diet will look like the following:

40% Carbohydrates
40% Protein
20% Fats

(Note that for every serving of carbohydrates, you get a serving of Protein. You can use Bill Phillips Method of creating meals which is to count a portion of carbohydrates as the amount of food the size of your clenched fist and a portion of protein as the amount of food the size of your open palms.)

3) The calories should be cycled.

I strongly believe in caloric cycling as this will not allow the metabolism to get used to a certain caloric level; something that leads to stagnant results.

Therefore, bodybuilders in search of just muscle mass should follow 5 days of high calories (lean body mass x 15) with two days of lower caloric intake (lean body mass x12). Bodybuilders in search of losing fat while building muscle at the same time should follow 5 days of lower caloric intake (lean body mass x12) with 2 days of higher calories (lean body mass x 15).

Note: If you build muscle and lose fat at the same time you will not gain muscle as fast as you would if you just concentrated in muscle mass. However, you get to get both goals accomplished at the same time.

People interested in body sculpting should alternate between two weeks of lower calories (around 2000 for men and 1000 for women) and two weeks of higher calories (around 2700 for men and 1700 for women).

Nutrition Basics

There are 3 macro nutrients that the human body needs in order to function properly.

A) Carbohydrates:

Carbohydrates are your body’s main source of energy. When you ingest carbohydrates your pancreas releases a hormone called insulin.

Insulin is very important because:

  • It grabs the carbohydrates and either stores them in the muscle or stores them as fat.
  • It grabs the amino acids (protein) and shelters them inside the muscle cell for recovery and repair.

Most people that are overweight and are in low fat/high carbohydrate diets got into that condition because they are eating an overabundance of carbohydrates. Too many carbohydrates cause a huge release of insulin. When there is too much insulin in the body, your body turns into a fat storing machine. Therefore, it is important that we eat no more carbohydrates than necessary and that we eat the right amount of carbohydrates.

Now that we have talked about the importance of having just the right amount of carbohydrates, let’s talk about which are the best sources of carbohydrates.

Carbohydrates are divided into complex carbohydrates and simple carbohydrates. The complex carbohydrates give you sustained energy (“timed release”) while the simple carbohydrates gives you immediate energy. It is recommended that you eat mainly complex carbohydrates throughout the day except after the workout where your body needs simple carbohydrates in order to replenish its glycogen levels immediately, something that will aid faster recuperation and rebuild of the muscle. Below is a list of good sources of carbohydrates:

There are two types of carbohydrates:

Complex Carbohydrates:

Starchy:

Oatmeal (1 cup dry)
Sweet potatoes (8 oz baked)
Potatoes (8 oz baked)
Rice (1 cup cooked)
Pasta (8oz cooked)
Corn (1 cup canned)
Peas (2 cups cooked)

Each serving approximately equals 40-50 grams of carbohydrates.

Fibrous:

Broccoli (1/2 cup raw)
Carrots (1 cup raw)
Cauliflower (1/2 cup raw)
Green beans (1/2 cup raw)
Lettuce (5 cups raw)
Mushrooms (3/4 cups raw)
Pepper (1/2 cup raw)
Spinach (3-1/2 cups raw)
Zucchini (1 cup raw).

Each serving approximately equals 6 grams of carbohydrates.
Simple Carbohydrates:

Apples (1 apple)
Bananas (1 banana)
Grapefruit (1 grapefruit)
Grapes (22 grapes)
Oranges (1-1/2 orange)
Pears (1 pear)
Pineapple (3/4 of a cup)

Each serving approximately equals 20-25 grams of carbohydrates.

B) Protein

Every tissue in your body is made up from protein (i.e., muscle, hair, skin, and nails). Proteins are the building blocks of muscle tissue. Without it, building muscle and burning fat efficiently would be impossible. Its importance is paramount. Protein also helps increase your metabolism every time you eat it by 20%! It also makes the carbohydrates timed release, so you get sustained energy throughout the day.

Everybody that is involved in a weight training program should consume between 1 gram of protein to 1.5 grams of protein per pound of lean body mass (meaning that if you are 100 lbs. And have 10% body fat, you should consume at least 90 g of protein since your lean body mass = 90 lbs.). Nobody should consume more than 1.5 grams per pound of lean body mass as this is unnecessary and the extra protein may get turned into fat.

Good examples of protein are eggs (I use Egg Substitute: 1-1/2 cups liquid), chicken breast (cooked, skinless and boneless: 6 oz), turkey (cooked, skinless and boneless: 6 oz), lean (90% lean) red meats (6 oz), and tuna (6 oz). Each serving size equals approximately 35-40 grams of protein.

C) Fats

All the cells in the body have some fat in them. Hormones are manufactured from fats. Also fats lubricate your joints. So if you eliminate the fat from your diet, then your hormonal production will go down and a whole array of chemical reactions will be interrupted. Your body will then start accumulating more body fat than usual so that it has enough fat to keep on functioning. Since testosterone production is halted, so is muscle building. Therefore, in order to have an efficient metabolism we need fat.

There are three types of fats:

Saturated Fats: Saturated fats are associated with heart disease and high cholesterol levels. They are found to a large extent in products of animal origin. However, some vegetable fats are altered in a way that increases the amount of saturated fats in them by a chemical process known as hydrogenation. Hydrogenated vegetable oils are generally found in packaged foods. In addition, coconut oil, palm oil, and palm kernel oil, which are also frequently used in packaged foods and non-dairy creamers are also highly saturated.

Polyunsaturated Fats: Fats that do not have an effect in cholesterol levels. Most of the fats in vegetable oils, such as corn, cottonseed, safflower, soybean, and sunflower oil are polyunsaturated.

Monounsaturated Fats: Fats that have a positive effect on the good cholesterol levels. These fats are usually high on the essential fatty acids and may have antioxidant properties. Sources of these fats are Fish Oils, Virgin Olive Oil, Canola Oil, and Flaxseed Oil. We like to refer to these type of fats as good fats.

Twenty percent of your calories should come from good fats. Any less than 20% and your hormonal production goes down. Any more than 20% and you start accumulating plenty of fat. The way that I get my fats is by taking 1 teaspoon of Flaxseed Oil three times a day (I put them in my protein shakes).

Good sources of fat are canola oil (1 tablespoon), natural peanut butter (2 tablespoons), olive oil (1 tablespoon), flaxseed oil (1 tablespoon), and fish oils (1 tablespoon). Each serving size contains approximately 14 grams of fat.

D) Water

Water is by far the most abundant substance in our body. Without water, an organism would not survive very long. Most people that come to me for advice on how to get in shape, almost always underestimate the value of water.

  • Water is good for the following reasons: Over 65% of your body is composed of water (most of the muscle cell is water).
  • Water cleanses your body from toxins and pollutants that would get you sick.
  • Water is needed for all of the complex chemical reactions that your body needs to perform on a daily basis. Processes such as energy production, muscle building, and fat burning require water. A lack of water would interrupt all of these processes.
  • Water helps lubricate the joints.
  • When the outside temperature is up, water serves as a coolant to bring the body temperature down to where it is supposed to be.
  • Water helps control your appetite. Sometimes when you feel hungry after a good meal this sensation indicates a lack of water. Drinking water at that time would take the craving away.
  • Cold water increases your metabolism.

In order to know how much water your body needs a day, just multiply your lean body weight by .66. This would indicate how many ounces of water you need in a day.


Hugo A. Rivera, CFT, SPN, BSCE

Hugo A. Rivera, CFT, SPN, BSCE. is a lifetime natural bodybuilder, multi certified personal trainer, industry consultant and fitness expert who not only knows training and nutrition theory, but also applies it on a daily basis as evidenced by the fact that he’s always in shape and by his awards and high placings at numerous national level bodybuilding competitions.

He is also an internationally known best selling fitness author with a very successful franchise of books called “The Body Sculpting Bibles” which collectively have sold over a million copies. Hugo is also the author of the very popular “Body Re-Engineering” e-book, which teaches you how to gain lean muscle mass and get lean without drugs, or fancy expensive supplements, using the secrets he devised after many years of weight problems as a child.

See Hugo’s ebooks online here:

Body Re-Engineering
www.losefatandgainmuscle.com
A complete guide to bodybuilding supplements and eating to gain lean muscle

Shape Up Now
Click Here to Download Your FREE Copy of Shape Up Now
50 page compendium of quality information on getting in shape

5 Big Reasons Why Everyone Should Train Like Athletes

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Elliott Husle: Pro Strongman

By Elliott Hulse Co-Creator of Lean Hybrid Muscle

If you’re like me, you probably want nothing more than to feel like a ‘super-stud’ every time you take your shirt off in public. You want to have the confidence to say, ‘Boy, this sweaty shirt is chaffin’ me’, then reach over your shoulder and tear your shirt off like Brad Pitt in Fight Club. When you know that your pecs look like two soup bowls inserted beneath your skin, and your abs are as hard the asphalt you stand on, it’s tough to keep your shirt on!

Today you are gonna learn the top 5 training principles that you MUST implement in order to make your physique and performance goals… a reality. But, before I open the info-floodgates, there is something you’ve got to understand. Men… all men, should recognize that we are athletes and our training programs must reflect this.

Even if you’re a ‘pencil pusher’ or a ‘white collar crook’, the essence of your being is athletic. In order to see any type of fitness results it is essential to recognize that Squats, Power Cleans, 40 Yard Dashes and Vertical Jumps are not only for NFL Combine participants… they are for you!

1. You’re An Athlete By Design

The foundation principle of everything that I teach all begins with one extremely powerful phrase: “We are primal beings living in a modern world”

Our physical bodies have been unchanged for thousands of years. In fact, today, our bodies are an exact expression of what our ancestors were over 100,000 years ago. It is believed that it takes about 100,000 years for 0.001percent of a genome to change… so yourself and Primal Man are for all intents and purposes… the same.

What has changed is how WE have chosen to live, if you can even call it that. As we have ‘advanced’ in technology we have regressed in physical strength and stature.

We function at a much lower capacity than were inherently capable of. This is analogous to those people who buy off-road vehicles that will never see anything but concrete! You’ve been given the ultimate athletic tool… use it.

2. Short, Hard and Intense Workouts Yield Lean, Hard and Muscular Bodies

When you spend over an hour in the gym sitting on useless ‘fitness machines’ while you’re waiting to do your ‘next set’…your nervous system’s primal response is to release Cortisol and Glucocorticoids – which are stress hormones, (these make you sick, sad, fat and, stupid) in response to your body thinking… “Holy Cow, we’ve been training for over an hour… perhaps we’re being chased by a tiger and need to preserve body fat”, then it begins sacrificing muscle tissue for energy! This is called The Catabolic Effect. Also, workouts exceeding 1 hour have been shown to be associated with a rapid decrease in androgen levels.

This is why marathon runners look so emaciated… id much rather look like one of those Lock, Stock & Ready Sprinters with muscles rippling across their backs and abs.

3. Aerobics and Cardio Training Is Boring & Ineffective

Strength coach Charles Poliquin has coined the phrase “Chunky Aerobic Instructor Syndrome” (CAIS). You’ve seen them, they do cardio all day long… don’t you think that they would be a bit leaner? Well, there is a scientific reason as to why they are cubby even though they bounce up and down on those colorful blocks all day long. In fact research has shown that aerobic instructors who taught an average of 3 hours a day maintained a body fat of 22-24% – mind you, that Olympic athletes hover around 9%.

Especially with repetitive exercises like aerobics the body adapts quickly to the stimulus and ceases to respond to the stimulus. Also, you begin to become very fuel-efficient… Listen, think of a metabolism that has adapted to long treks of cardio as being a Honda… it burns very little fuel (i.e. fat) but can go miles and miles. Think of a metabolism that is roaring with increased mitochondria activity (as is present in someone who weight trains with circuits) as a Hummer, large fuel combusting metabolism!

Here’s Why this is so important! You want a stronger heart, without the fat saving response of long boring cardio treks. That is why I teach my clients how to do work capacity sets. We take 4-6 exercises and complete them back to back with no rest and aim to complete them all with in about 2 minutes… if your heart is not ready to pound out of your chest after that, then maybe you should visit your veterinarian!

Here’s a simple circuit that you can do at home – first 20 squats, then 20 lunges, then ‘step ups’ on a bench 10 each leg, finally do 10 squat jumps and get it all done in less than 90 seconds! Kick-ass workout!

We begin every session with Plyometrics and then get right into 3-5 “work capacity” sets for upper and lower body.

4. Get High on Oxygen & Sunshine

Besides the fact that training on treadmills and ‘sit down’ exercise equipment is less effective than getting your feet on the ground and learning how to use your own bodyweight, training indoors can be detrimental to your performance and fitness results.

As ‘primal beings’ we are in need of several vital elements and forms of energy. The suns rays are nourishing to your mind as well as body. It is well documented that those who live in the cooler northern climates that enjoy less sunshine through out the year are several times more likely to suffer from depression.

Also, if you’re like most Americans you work and live indoors (maybe). In fact, the average person spends 90% of their time indoors. Several health experts have propounded that our homes and workplace are the most toxic environments in our lives. Many studies have stated that toxic particles and fumes found in your home and workplace include: air fresheners, spray starch, paints, mothballs and even ‘new car’ smell kills more people every year than automobile accidents!

So, what do you do? Train in the great outdoors! When I train my Strength Camp clients at Vinoy Park in St. Petersburg Florida, not only do we benefit from the sweet bay breeze but also the scenery is beautiful enough to give a nun spring fever!

5. It’s Gotta Be Fun!

Drop out rates for exercise programs are almost as high as the drop out rate in my old middle school! The bottom line is, if you don’t enjoy it – you wont do it. The most effective way to ensure that you stick with your training program is to change it often. This doesn’t mean hop from one modality to the next before you get any results. It means stick with your weight-training program for a minimum of 90 day but change the exercises you use for each body part at least every 3 weeks.

This not only keeps you interested but also, your nervous system will be challenged with the new exercises and be forced to adapt. This yields fast and long-lasting results!

Marc David
“The NoBull Muscle Guy”
www.nobullbodybuilding.com

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Bulking Dieters Beware: This is a Big Mistake

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Photo Credit: Jill

When it comes to packing on muscle quickly, the fastest way to do that involves being in a slight calorie surplus.  But many people take this to mean, “Just eat” and eat lots and don’t worry about it.

If You’ve Been Told:

* eat everything you can to gain weight

* eat, eat and eat some more

* eating anything is faster than eating clean

* just eat damn it!

* don’t worry about getting fat on a bulk, it’s normal

Then you NEED to read the rest of this article.  You’ve been told some bad advice by people who probably don’t realize that gaining all that extra fat just won’t go away.  What’s that?  You can’t just burn it off later?  Or take these common examples…

Sadly, the skinny guy or gal, is still skinny but has a nice layer of stomach fat.  Not exactly the bulking they were hoping for when they were told to eat everything under the sun.  Or the average guy, starts lifting heavy and couldn’t be bothered with nutrition.  He/She just knows to EAT and eat lots and notices their strength going up but they are a bit fatter.  But don’t care.  That’s what it’s about.  They think “I’ll cut later and burn all this fat off later.”

In previous attempts, I’ve talked about the concept of Dirty Bulking and the term Lazy Bodybuilding evolved.

Let me explain…

If you want to put on the most muscle possible, you would engage in what’s called a ‘bulking’ diet. That is where you eat 10-15% over your maintenance level calories. The rate of muscle growth can be quite rapid at this level of caloric intake, but the rate of fat gain can often be as high as the rate of muscle gain (a 1:1 ratio).

So why would you ever want to gain fat along with the muscle?   You don’t but it’s inevitable.  Your goal is to minimize any fat gains by eating over your maintenance but only by a small amount. Not pig out or have an excuse to eat everything.  You will gain the maximum amount of muscle possible only if you stay in a caloric surplus. People who want to gain muscle and lose fat at the same time have to alternate periods of caloric surplus with periods of caloric deficit and therefore will gain muscle much more slowly.  Or they live a low-carb, higher protein diet to build muscle and lose fat.  Which works but again, is difficult to maintain and not the method used for maximum muscle growth.

Fat is part of the game and you just bulk up.  Eventually you notice you are getting more fat.  But that’s just par for the course right?

Let me tell you right now, that is a very costly mistake.  I’ve made mention that putting on fat is unavoidable, but you’ll want t:

*  keep a lid on it

*  monitor it and

*  back if off if things get out of control

I’ve seen and watched too many people go from 10% body fat to nearly 21% and CONVINCED themselves it’s just normal for a bodybuilder to plump up during the off-season.  That being fatter is normal and they’ll just cut up and get rid of it later.

What they don’t realize is the following as pointed out by Lyle McDonald, author of The Stubborn Fat Solution.  Lyle has a degree in exercise physiology from the University of California in Los Angeles, graduating in 1993. He’s dedicated nearly 20 years of his life to studying human physiology and the art, science, and practice of human performance, muscle gain, fat loss, and body recomposition.  He’s qualified to offer up the #1 reason why gaining excessive fat as an athlete is something you want to avoid.

Consider what Lyle says about body fat on Pages 8-9 of The Stubborn Fat Solution.

“There’s an old (and incorrect) idea that adult humans don’t make new fat cells.  That is, and I’ll discuss this more in a bit, you get born wit a certain number of fat cells and you may develop more at puberty or during pregnancy but that’s it; your body doesn’t make new fat cells.  Everything in that sentence is true except the last statement; even non-pregnant adults can make new fat cells.

Usually this happens when the fat cells you have reach a certain size; that is, they are as full as they can physically be.  When this occurs, the actual stretching of the fat cell stimulates the release of factors, such as Angiotensin II, prostacylin and others, which ‘tell’ the body to make new fat cells.

Unfortunately, getting rid of fat cells is nearly (but not completely) impossible.

If there is a single reason for athletes not to get too fat in the first place, this is probably it: if your fat cells get too big, your body will make new ones.  And it’s nearly impossible to get rid of the new ones.  If you are a lean athlete looking to gain weight (and realizing you must gain some body fat to do it effectively), you should keep a lid on that fat gain.  You don’t want to stimulate your body to make new fat cells.”

Your Key Take Away Point:

Your body can and will make new fat cells at any age. It’s nearly impossible to get rid of them (short of liposuction: gives credence to that practice in some ways). You can shrink them but the goal is, not to make them in the first place.  So you bulkers and gainers, monitor your progress!  Adding 10% body fat is NOT the goal!

Marc David
“The NoBull Muscle Guy”
www.nobullbodybuilding.com

What Supplements Should I Take?

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Photo Credit: John Jeddore

I’ll refrain from talking about brand names and such as I think we all have our opinions on those and many times price is a factor.

I’m also not posting this list to preach about the benefits of supplements.  The post title is “What Supplements Should I Take” and I’m merely answering.

This isn’t my schedule but rather a framework.  And please keep in mind.. these are supplements meant to supplement an outstanding nutritional program.  I do not use this list to fill in gaps or substitute or my lack of proper eating.  It’s in addition to … not in place of.

So let’s begin…

My Foundational Supplements:

These are supplements I take daily with meals (not all meals), regardless of training.

* Multi-vitamin
* Essential Fatty Acid complex (EPA/DHA)
* Joint Matrix
* Digestive Enzymes
* Udo’s Oil 3-6-9 Omegas (plant sourced)
* Beta-Glucan
* ZMA

My Picks for Performance/Muscle Building Supplements:

My selection at this time for pre-workout and post-workout recovery.  I’ve tried drinking various energy combinations during a workout (Waxy Maize, Vitargo, water beyond a sip at the drinking fountain, etc) and found it to be bothersome.  My workouts don’t last long enough that I need energy during the workout itself.  I’ve got reserves for 60 minutes of high intensity training.

This section is the most critical for me.  If I can have enough energy to do a very high intensity workout AND I can recovery quickly, my gains will be staggering.

When I do not have a session that involved weight training, this list shrinks a lot.

-Some things are bulk, raw materials that aren’t available for end line consumers. –

* Whey protein
* Creatine
* Vitargo S2
* L-Leucine
* Muscle Milk
* Monster Milk/Mass
* Monster Amino
* Monster Pump
* Beta-Alanine
* Provon 290 whey protein isolate

My Optional Supplements:

Things I’ve found beneficial and I take at irregular times.  I am a coffee drinker and I switch to green tea.  Not for the metabolic effects but for the pick me up of caffeine and the other associated benefits with green tea.

* Caffeine
* Green tea
* Cytomax

Cytomax is something I found useful in 2 specific categories:

a) when attempting to do a high volume, high intensity leg workouts.  It’s the only solution I will consider drinking during the actual workout besides sipping water.  Anything that is “endurance” related which can be some weight training workouts believe it or not.

b) taken long after workouts but before bed on high intensity days to eliminate cramps.  Leg cramps plague me.  This is the only solution I’ve found that eliminates it almost immediately.

And that concludes this lengthy list on what supplements I currently take.

I’d like to know what supplements you take if any.  Please post your comments below.

Disclaimer: I reserve the right to update this post when things change or I go home and swallow a pill and realize I didn’t post it here.

Marc David
“The NoBull Muscle Guy”
www.nobullbodybuilding.com

QUESTION:

You said you don’t need to take supplements to build muscle?  At least that is what your book claims along with everybody else in this industry.  Are you contradicting yourself?

ANSWER:

You do not. I was asked what I personally took, and I responded when most other professionals will not.  I’m not a supplement pusher but I’m not a supplement hater.   You only need handwork, consistency and adequate food intake coupled with recovery to build muscle and burn fat.  I said that, others say it and I stand by it.

QUESTION:

What supplements should I take?

ANSWER:

I’ve got no idea what you should take given your personal financial situation, your work ethic, your age, any medications or other complications and/or needs.  Recommending supplements to people isn’t something I do for a variety of reasons.  One being, I might be fine taking Product A when you have an allergic reaction.  I think sticking to the basics is the best idea.  Beyond that, if your diet is nearly perfect, that’s the time you can put forth some honest effort into making a plan for yourself.  Cookie cutter list of supplements to take is like giving cookie cutter financial advice.  Most people LOSE.  It may or may not pertain to them.  They end up frustrated and upset.  Hence, I make these recommendations for ME and me only.  Not you.  Re-read that this is for informational purposes only.

QUESTION:

How come other fitness guys don’t post this?

ANSWER:

I don’t know.  I’d guess the same reason they don’t post a lot of things.  They create images and often live different lives.  What you see in this blog, my personality, my preferences for a training style, my opinions.. is how I live.  All the time (except when I’m sleeping).  I take supplements personally and therefore, I don’t create some illusion I don’t.  But I don’t run around pushing them on people and I don’t give out recommendations as I don’t know your history among other things.  It’s a question I get all the time and it’s always the one I can’t answer perfectly.

QUESTION:

Where can I buy…   How come you don’t post links?

ANSWER:

Because I’m not making recommendations.  This is a list post.  For informational purposes.  Disclosure.  For curious minds.  Not me trying to encourage you or direct you anywhere.  People asked, I responded.  That’s it.

QUESTION:

Where can I learn more about the science behind supplements IF I choose to take this path?

ANSWER:

I wrote a very lengthy post about How to Evaluate a Supplement. I suggest you read it and do your research before just buying the latest and greatest or what Joe/Sally said on some forum.  You’ll end up with more money in your pocket and feeling smarter.

Dave DePew Interviews the NoBull Muscle Guy

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Dave DePew, MFT, LSN is an experienced San Diego-based Personal Trainer, Weight Loss Specialist, Licensed Sports Nutritionist, Strength Coach, and Natural Bodybuilder. His fitness boot camps and numerous radio shows and segments are all part of the, “The Dave DePew Network”, as he is well known for physique transformations and is highly sought after in the San Diego area. In this show, Dave interviews me about my NoBull Bodybuilding book, some of the things every natural bodybuilder needs to know, and how I use awareness to continually propell myself and everybody I teach towards their goals …
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Hugo Rivera Interview: Part 2

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Marc David’s interview with bodybuilding and muscle building expert Hugo Rivera continues (from part one). In part two you will learn the most important supplement of in a bodybuilding program, how often to change your routine, Hugo’s personal feeling on fat loss supplements, nutritional tracking and much much more.

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Hugo Rivera Interview: Part 1

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Hugo Rivera is the creator of the Body Re-Engineering system, one of the most documented and precise bodybuilding manuals available.  Hugo not only has over 18 years of personal experience in training himself but he is also a certified trainer and sports nutritionist. He also holds multiple natural bodybuilding competition titles, including a 4th placing at the NPC Team Universe, where only the elite champion natural bodybuilders from all over the country get to compete.  Hugo is also an internationally acclaimed author of the very success franchise of fitness books called “The Body Sculpting Bible.”   Hugo’s style of writing is very logical and extremely easy to follow; as Hugo’s background is in computer engineering.

In part one you will hear the latest scoop on full body workouts or split routines, or something in between?… Hugo’s reaction to being asked if he’s really all natural… the truth about your genetics and bodybuilding… Hugo’s training frequency… the biggest 5 nutritional blunders almost every bodybuilder is making or has made and more. This interview is packed with valuable info! Read this one in study mode for sure and then watch for part 2 coming soon!

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