Journal Entry 318 – Just Keep Getting Stronger / Diet Philosophy Update / This is a Long One

Recently, I have been getting stronger on one of the most minimalist lifting routines known to mankind. After looking at my workout logs today, I have increased my bench press from 185lbs for around 6-8 reps to 225lbs for 6-8 reps. This increase of 40lbs has been done over the course of around 2 months. When people ask me how I am getting so much stronger, I tell them my routine and they act very surprised when they hear it. “Wait, you’re benching 3 times a week?” “You’re lifting every day?” “That’s all the volume, you’re doing?” “Where is legs?” Name a comment and I have heard it. At this point in my life, I do not care about looking like a bodybuilder and honestly except for a few points in my life never really wanted to. I like to look muscular don’t get me wrong, but looking muscular and strong and looking like a bodybuilder are two different things.

Bodybuilding is incredibly boring and monotonous. I just have no interest in it anymore, but I still love lifting and increasing my strength. It’s very rewarding to go into the gym and continually get stronger. Also, if you don’t go to the gym at all, please don’t ask me why I don’t train legs. I have my reasons. But if you don’t exercise or lift at all, then you don’t have a leg day either. So you really have no room to talk or criticise what I am doing.

Anyway, I love the results I have been getting recently. Simplifying the complex is always something I take great joy in. The only thing I have not been getting stronger on is chin-ups. So, just like the bench press, I’m going to start doing them every day. Here is my routine at the moment:

  • Day 1
    • Barbell Bench press 3 sets of 6-8 reps (Current 225lbs)
    • Chinups 3 sets of max reps
    • Cable Crunches (Heavy) 3 sets of 6-8 reps
  • Day 2
    • Dumbbell Incline Bench 30 deg 3 sets of 6-8 reps (Current 90lbs DBs each)
    • Chinups 3 sets of max reps
    • Cable Crunches 3 sets of 6-8 reps
  • Day 3  (Or off if I feel like I need a break – usually don’t take an off day)
    • Dips or Pushups 3 sets of max reps
    • Chins 3 sets of max reps
    • Cable Crunches 3 sets of 6-8 reps
  • Repeat
  • Weekend Routine
    • Pushups 5 sets of max reps
    • Chinups 5 sets of max reps
    • Prisoner Squats 5 sets of 25 reps (See I do train legs)
  • Weekend Alternative (If I feel like I need to take the day off)
    • Cardio for 30 minutes (usually once a week)
    • OR
    • Yardwork

Pretty simple. The daily volume is low for sure. But the weekly volume actually adds up. Day 3 acts almost as a rest day for me from heavy lifting. I think the biggest reason why this works though is the increased frequency and lower volume per day. I’m never overly sore with this routine and soreness is highly overrated. If you want to get good at something, would you do it every day or only once or twice a week? I think we all know the answer to that one.

Diet Update

Just like lifting, I have tried a lot of different diet schemes over the years. This blog is proof of that. I have found certain things that seem to work for me no matter what. My diet is probably more organized than most, but far from perfect. I had a consult with Menno Henselmans not too long ago and he subtly insulted my diet at the time. It kind of p*ssed me off, because I thought it was pretty good, but apparently not up to his standards. At this point in time, I could care less what an expert thinks of my diet. If you study nutrition long enough, you will notice that there are plenty of nutrition experts that are saying polar opposite things in terms of what they think is healthy and optimal. I’m smart enough in this area to form my own opinions, just like I did with my lifting routine. Once I finally stopped listening to other people or “experts” and designed my own routine based on my goals, I actually started to get results.

My current diet is as follows most of the time:

  • Go to work
  • 2-3 12oz Coffee’s with Cream and Splenda
  • Protein Shake – 25 grams of protein
  • Gym – 2 Hardboiled Eggs with pink salt before lifting
  • Protein Shake – 25 grams of protein
  • Get off work
  • Dinner – 3/4 pound of meat (usually 93/7) and 2 servings of vegetables with cheese and some kind of sauce
  • Dessert – Protein Pudding or Protein Shake with Berries

There are a few points I want to bring up here.

  • Notice the carbs are very low. You do NOT need carbs to grow muscle or strength. It is a huge myth. You want a workout secret weapon: SODIUM. Sodium and carbs have VERY similar functions in the body. The reason many people complain of lifting on low carb diets is because sodium gets flushed out with the lower insulin levels. The solution would be to eat a lot more salt. This way you can maintain and get stronger on your lifts and get cut at the same time.
  • The calories in this diet are not high. It provides me with enough protein and fat, but very little carbs. This is because during the week I want to use some of my body fat as fuel source. If you eat too much this is impossible. Excess carbs also obscure definition and make me feel and look bloated.
  • The above is what I consider a Control Day. This day is meant to be consistent and lower calorie in order to keep losing fat. I like to maintain lower body fat, so these days are essential. I have about 3-4 of these lower calorie days each week.
  • Here are some tips that I have always found incredibly useful through my years of dieting:
    • Drink caffeine throughout the day. It increases drive, focus, boosts your metabolic rate and accelerates fat burning. It is also one hell of a pre-workout. (Note – I’m referring to coffee. Not the BS supplements that GNC sells.)
    • Undereat during the day. Undereating shuttles more fuel to your brain and greatly assists you with a cognitively demanding job. Too much food can not only leave you feeling bloated, but mess up your mental focus.
    • Eat a big meal at night. You can’t have a fast without the feast. The feast will replenish you for the day to come and will help you sleep better. Try sleeping on an empty stomach and see how well that works out for you. (Not good.)
    • Eat a higher protein diet. Enough said.
    • Animal foods are  > (greater than)  plant foods. Due to the way humans digest food, animal based foods can result in much better assimilation of nutrients and relieve digestive issues fairly quickly versus if you eat too many plants/grains/carbs. Not that you should be a carnivore, but the diet can be a godsend for some people.
    • Save carbs for dinner. This plays into the factors I talked about above, but I feel like most people should eat under 150g of carbs a day. If you eat zero carbs during the day, you can still smash some Mellow Mushrooom Pizza at night and be under your 150g mark.
    • Have at least 3 Control days in your week. I explained these above, but the benefits of these are immense. By going low calorie during your week, especially 3 times a week, your diet will automatically include healthier foods and you really can start to make a dent into your fat stores on a weekly basis, without sacrificing too much else the rest of the week.
    • Too much fiber is bad. Besides from the obvious reason of being overly bloated and gassy, too much fiber can bind to important nutrients and render them useless. Some is good more is not better. Yes, this includes my beloved Quest Bars, which I have cut down to once a week.
    • Never take a food you love out of your diet. There is a time and a place for everything. Anytime a person goes on a diet, where they completely exclude something, 99% of the time, they are a ticking time bomb until they give into that craving. If I tell you that you can’t eat pizza ever again, you will dream about pizza until the day you finally eat it again. This again plays into the beauty of Control Days and also undereating during the day. You still have 4 days a week where you can pretty much eat whatever at dinner and since you underate during the day, you have a pretty large amount of food and calories you can play around with. That is winning in my book.
    • I personally think alcohol once or twice a week is great for a human when consumed responsibly. Alcohol directly influences GABA in the brain and can “take the edge off” and help you relax. After a hard week of working this can be a godsend for people. Alcohol is obviously a social drink, so best consumed with friends, which can relax you ever more.

This post was way longer than I was expecting, but I had a lot I wanted to say!

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Journal Entry 301 – The Carnivore Diet?

The Carnivore Diet

The Carnivore Diet seems to be the flavor of the week in the dieting industry.

This diet has actually been around a long time but recently resurfaced due to Dr. Shawn Baker. He is a doctor that started eating only meat for a lot of reasons, but mainly because he found he could stay lean and recover faster when eating only steak. He also noticed the disappearance of bloating, health issues, joint pain, cravings and a whole plethora of other benefits.

In terms of macros, the carnivore diet is a zero carb diet with more protein than a traditional ketogenic diet. It reminds me of old school bodybuilder diets that Vince Gironda and Arnold Schwarzenegger used to use to get really ripped.

This is a red meat diet though, which is where it truly differs from Keto. The reason is red meat is actually a very dense and nutritious food. It contains many of the fat-soluble vitamins, minerals and nutrients and delivers them in a streamlined dose. Meat is easy to digest and the fat from the meat also helps the nutrients to be absorbed. The low fiber also counteracts some of the binding that can occur with nutrients being absorbed. Another really good food to eat in addition would be Eggs as they fit the same bill as red meat. Some people have allergies to eggs though, which is why red meat usually works better. The dietary fat from the meat also has been shown to increase testosterone levels. Testosterone levels also have a lot to do with the overall nutrients you are getting, so the nutrient/ dietary fat combo makes it a great food to help with this.

Another interesting benefit of this diet is actually pretty cheap. If you substitute out the steak for ground beef and eat some eggs to replace one of the steak meals, the diet is very cheap. You get more calories per dollar. With vegetables, you can eat way more volume, but this comes as the expense of bloating, gas, indigestion, a sluggish “heavy” feeling and it’s more expensive because the food is so low in calories that you have to buy more. Vegetables usually don’t help your appetite very long either. They are initially filling, but 1-2 hours later you are hungry again.

The zero carb aspect is also very important for the overall health gain you get. Low carbs have been shown to be very helpful in managing blood sugar-related diseases (think type 2 diabetes), helping to lower cravings (again likely due to blood sugar), restoring health (tend to be loaded with nutrients / higher quality foods) and sensitizing the body to insulin and carbs. This list could go much longer, but I came from a family history of type-2 diabetes, so I’m always conscious of this. These diseases are built over time, so it’s important to eat in a way that feels right.

I find this diet intriguing. I don’t think I could ever do just red meat, but I could adapt a diet pretty similar. I went to Costco and bought 5lbs of 88% lean ground beef for $15. Deals ;). I also bought some eggs from Aldi that I got for $0.40 a dozen. My grocery bill is going to get very cheap. I’ve done this diet the past 2 days and have already dropped 3lbs. Yes, its mostly water weight, but I actually look visibly leaner and my stomach is really flat with very littly bloating. I have also eaten 2500 calories a day these past two days, which for me is way too much to burn fat on. Nevertheless, the scale is down and I look leaner. Winning ;).

I’m going to run this diet for the next two weeks with maybe one cheat day thrown in. I love the simplicity of it and hope the results continue.

Image result for ron swanson meme

Workouts

I have been doing 200 pushups and 50 chinups 5 days a week and cardio 3-4 times a week for at least 30 minutes. I have only been lifting once a week in the gym. You read that correctly. For me, its the least “gym work” I have done in probably 10 years. I love to workout, but I hate gyms. Especially recently, because they have been packed beyond belief at all times of the day. That being said I have 3 major goals right now:

  • Get leaner
  • Get really good at pushups
  • Keep getting stronger on the bench press

I’m a simple man, what can I say. The bench press is my only gym workout and I’m still repping 215lbs for 6 or so reps. I think the pushups have been helping me a lot with this as well.

 

 

Journal Entry 293 – Goals for 2018

Another busy weekend that literally flew by. I have a lot of stuff that I have been dealing with recently. Mostly due to the new year, finishing off payments, wedding stuff, travel and so on. Next week I will fly to Chicago with Sarah to see my new niece! I’m really looking forward to it. Once this trip is over though, my schedule should get a lot more relaxing.

I have been more or less still eating kind of whatever recently. I really want to get some organization back into my routine this year though. I’m strongly considering some Keto-ish type of diet to continue shredding some fat and water weight before the wedding. I want my routine to be more consistent as well and to continue making some strength gains in the gym.

Another goal I have is to max out my savings. I literally just finished off my auto payment and besides rent and insurance have zero debt. Considering rent and insurance is something you will always have, I consider that zero debt. I have maxed out my 401k this year to take advantage of the employer match and have continued funding my Roth IRA and Taxable account. The market has been amazing recently, so I already have a lot of earnings on these accounts. Even if the market was horrible though, I will still continue making savings payments. The market always fluctuates, but as long as you don’t withdraw money then you don’t lose anything.

I want to keep my grocery bill more consistent this year as well. Shopping at Aldi has already saved me a ton of money, but I would like to do even better this year.

I plan on making my diet very minimalistic. At least 5-6 days out of 7. Meat, eggs, cheese, berries, protein powder, peanut butter and alcohol will make up the vast majority of my diet. I will skip a lot of the extra carbs, snacks and fruit.

My workouts I plan on keeping pretty similar. I want to keep lifting heavy and until I find something better to change it with I want to keep it about the same. I’m still doing a Push / Pull setup 4 days a week. I also plan to do cardio at least 2-3 times a week.

 

Journal Entry 265 – Challenge Update / Pork Rinds

I missed my post last week because Sarah and I went to Greensboro NC so that we could visit her family. We also had to pick out some wedding cake and get a few things straight. I missed my training signup at Gold’s last Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. That means I’m already 4 points down just from missing signing up. I’ve been monitoring the signup names and there is only one other person that has been as consistent as me in signing up. He did miss yesterday though. So I can still win as long as he drops zero weight and I can manipulate the scale by at least 5 pounds. Monday morning I will get up and clock 5 miles or so, just to sweat out a bunch of weight. I will then eat a super light breakfast and probably go the gym early so that I can weigh in before really eating much of anything.

 

I’ve been doing some more reading on the benefits of glycine. Which if taken regularly can have TREMENDOUS benefits: Dr. Axe – Glycine Benefits and Valtsus Blogspot. Turns out pork rinds are one of the best sources of this critical amino acid. For optimal benefits, you want to have 10-13 grams a day. Pork rinds have 12 grams per 3.5oz. They also have zero carbs, 5 grams of fat with a mix of mono and saturated fat and 7 grams of protein per serving of 1/2 an ounce. A perfect food for a higher fat and lower carb diet. It also has decent sodium, which is really important on lower carb diets to prevent flushing electrolytes out of your system and really feeling like crap. The only thing about the protein is it does not have essential amino acids in it. This isn’t a huge deal though, because this protein spares the essential protein and taking in more of this protein and less “essential amino acids” has been shown to have better anabolic potential anyway. Glycine is also extremely anti-inflammatory and if there are negatives to eating a bunch of muscle meat, glycine seems to balance this out. Something tells me switching to pork rinds over popchips for lunch may have some interesting benefits. 😉

My workout split is still exactly the same and the goal is just to keep increasing in strength.

Journal Entry 242 – New Shift

Starting on the 31st of this month, I have been told my hours are going back to 9-6 Monday – Friday. This has several advantages from a lifestyle standpoint with my girlfriend, because I will get to see her every night. It does prevent an interesting challenge for the gym though. I wrote last weeks post undecided on what I was going to do and I can honestly still tell you I don’t know haha. I will either have to go early in the morning waking up about 7 or after I get off work at 6 PM. I prefer the night approach as of right now because after making a list of pros and cons, the night shift has more positives. The only huge negative of the night shift is the amount of people that will be in the gym at that time. This makes certain exercises very hard to do. The main problem with the morning shift though is I hate the feeling of being rushed in the gym and the only way to avoid this is to wake up really early. Then I feel like I’m forcing myself to get up, when I don’t want to. I also feel the night before I have to go to bed super early, so that I don’t wake up extremely tired. With the night shift I can avoid this by simply getting up at 8 AM or so and just go to bed by 12 AM. This still gives 8 hours of sleep and I can just hit the gym later in the day when I’m more awake. I can also schedule my dinner to be the postworkout period, which I plan on having a huge feast at this time.

Since I will be doing this schedule 5 times a week, I actually have figured out an eating plan that I plan to do with this setup. Basically a modified intermittent fasting plan, that I think will work very well. It’s also very simple:

  • Wake up – 8AM – Coffee
  • Meal 1 –  10 AM – Protein Pudding with berries – 200 calories
  • Meal 2 – 12 AM – Coffee and Quest Bar – 200 calories
  • Meal 3 – 2 PM – 1 bag of Popchips Ridges and Diet Coke – 350 calories
  • Totals 750 calories
  • Workout 6:20 PM – 7:30 PM
  • Meal 4 – 8 PM – 12 AM – Dinner / Postworkout Feast (Mixed Carbs, Fats and Protein) 1000-2000 calories

So no matter what I’m doing in the gym (workout wise) this will likely be the way I eat during the day. As for the feast at night, it will vary probably every day. This is what I call having structure, but also a lot of flexibility. I tend to snack during the day, so that bag of Popchips can last me awhile and kind of fuels me while I work. I also really like having something salty around lunch and I’m trying to avoid meal prep and preparing food during the day, so this is a really good alternative. Also I’m getting about 50 grams of protein during the day, so if there is any advantage of “stoking protein synthesis” then it will be taken care of. The only days this layout wont be in place is on Saturday and Sunday, but that calories will be similar.

As for workout, I have some ideas running through my head, but I don’t want to update the blog until I know for sure that’s what I’m doing. It will include a lot of barbell benching though ;).

Also I want to do a supplement update that I haven’t done in awhile:

  • 5 grams of Creatine Monohydrate
  • 5000 IU of Vitamin D
  • 1 Digestive Enzyme
  • Food Staples daily:
    • 1 can of leaf spinach (for magnesium and many other micros)
    • 3 eggs a day (eaten at anytime during day – for micros)
    • 1 bag of broccoli (micros)