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 263 – Push/Pull & Gym Weigh In

On Monday of this week, I went to the gym and did a weigh in and body fat test for an upcoming company gym challenge. My stats were 187lbs (Midday, fully clothed including shoes) and 14% body fat. My weigh in that morning on my scale was 185lbs. I wanted to weigh in on Monday because my weight always peaks on Monday’s after always eating big on the weekends. I dropped down to 179lbs within 3 days of weighing in and I definitely will go low carb and high protein right before the final weigh in just to get some extra points from losing weight. You get 1 point for every pound you lose and 1 point for every time you go to the gym. You also get points for better body composition, but since changes like that take way longer than 21 days, chasing after that would be a bad idea. The winner gets 1-year free gym membership. The body fat they tested was not the most accurate instrument. I asked the trainer how accurate it was and he said 3% error and usually measures high. I agreed with this as I feel I’m around 12-13% at the moment.

The last time I did one of these tests I was 166lbs at 10% body fat. Although this was a bod pod test. Meaning I had roughly 150lbs of lean body mass at the time. This time I was around 185lbs and let’s say 13% body fat. This means I know have 161 lbs of lean body mass. Which means I gained roughly 10-12lbs of lean body mass and 6-8lbs of fat. Not terrible, but not great either. Looking at photos of these times, though I can see a tremendous difference. A much bigger difference than these stats represent:

My diet was a bit lower in carbs this week and damn did I feel it in the gym. My last pull workout this Friday was really bad. I dropped reps on every exercise and I only did 4 exercises. I carbed up with some pizza to make up for it. Other than that last workout I really enjoyed the 4 day split this week and found myself over eager to hit the gym on my rest days, which is a good thing. I’m still playing around with the exercises, but think I have really figured out the ones I want to do. Now it’s just a matter of grinding.

For this 21 day challenge, I plan to bump up my carbs pretty high during the beginning 2 weeks and keep protein high as well. Fat will be more or less normal 50-70 grams. The final week I will cut down on carbs just to drop water for the weigh in.

Journal Entry 205 – Getting Stronger

Missed my normal blog post time this week due to a trip to Virginia Tech. Nutrition wasn’t on point this weekend, but luckily I didn’t really miss a workout. Haven’t had a chance to weigh myself in awhile, but I estimate right around 173-174lbs.

My workouts have been very good and I’ve been looking forward to every single one of them. My strength, especially on bench has increased by a good 5lbs each week at least. Today I repped 185lbs for 4 sets of 8 reps. The bar felt light to me. I know in the past 185lbs felt heavy while on a low carb diet. Talk about stagnation with a diet like that. Again my goal with nutrition at the moment is simply to hit maintenance and its an approximation. I dont obsess about hitting every single calorie correctly. I weight most of my foods, but do not track everything I eat. I’d say I’m within a 2-300 calorie window of my maintenance each day. I also make sure to get a good amount of walking in everyday. I usually go for a morning walk of 1-2 miles, then do a mile jog before lifting or if its a rest day I’ll go for another walk around midday and then one additional walk in the late afternoon/ early evening. Since I’m unemployed at the moment, I have time to do this. I’m also studying at the moment and walking can help refresh the mind from too much cramming.

Macro averages for the past 7 days were 151 protein / 250 carbs / 59 fat and Calories at 2470. Based on my bodyweight and activity this is just about right. I’m in a mode where I feel good, not changing overall weight that much, but my strength is going up very quickly, so I’m not going to change a thing. The only thing is if I’m very inactive due to just being busy, I simply drop my calories by a few hundred to make up for it. Also I’m trying to emphasize more carbs while keeping fat and protein adequate but not excessive.

Below is my last 3 workouts:

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I replaced goblet squats with 45 degree leg presses. Feel these really well and very easy to progress without a ton of back stress.

Some pics from the week:

BBQ chicken Fries 1 roll
BBQ chicken
Fries
1 roll
Rice Stirfry
Rice Stirfry
Pumpkin Quest Bar Very good, but tastes more like cotton candy than pumpkin
Pumpkin Quest Bar
Very good, but tastes more like cotton candy than pumpkin
Same
Same
Mix of stuff
Mix of stuff
Guiness Stout
Guiness Stout
Cabo Fish Taco
Cabo Fish Taco
Rice Stirfry with meat, veggies and imitation crab meat Crab rangoon
Rice Stirfry with meat, veggies and imitation crab meat
Crab rangoon
Pasta with chicken meatballs
Pasta with chicken meatballs
Rum and fat free redi whip
Rum and fat free redi whip
Breaded Chicken Tenders Special K Chips Imitation Crab Meat
Breaded Chicken Tenders
Special K Chips
Imitation Crab Meat

Journal Entry 198 – Strained Hip Flexor, Bro Splits, Different Diets

IMG_2731

On Monday morning, I woke up with a really nasty hip flexor strain. At first I had no idea why, because its not like I was playing a sport and felt it immediately after it happened, but anyway I woke up with some really bad pain. It limited my mobility so much that I could barely lift my left leg or knee up without some pretty bad pain. Considering the split I was doing had two leg days, I knew it wouldn’t be the smartest idea to resume that for the current week.

I think what it was though, was two leg days, walking everyday and 2-3 long steady state runs that did it in. I guess it was just more than my legs and hip flexors were used to doing. I decided to do a pretty basic bro split this week of chest day, back day, rest, shoulders/traps day, arms day and possibly do legs if my hip flexor felt better. As of this morning it feels a lot better than it did, but not good enough for full leg workout. I also can’t do abs because that hurts it pretty bad as well. I did manage to get some walking in this week, even though earlier in the week I had to limp most of the way haha. I noticed if I go for more than 15-20 minutes at a time without a break then the hip flexor starts to get inflamed and hurt pretty bad. Icing it and taking frequent breaks had helped tremendously though.

I was a little concerned by Wednesday if it was something more serious, because it didnt feel better at all. I mean stepping up into my car felt like overkill for it. But luckily by Thursday and Friday morning the pain was way less. Advil liquid gels also helped reduced the inflammation. Not going to lie, when it comes to headaches and pain, Advil liquid gels give relief and it gives it fast. These things go to work in under 20 minutes for me.

So basically stuck to a very basic and balanced upper body bro split and I have to admit I really enjoyed it. Workouts were done in 30-40 minutes, 3 sets of 8-12 reps on everything and made sure form was really good on each exercise. I had felt pumps in the target muscle that I havent felt in awhile. Maybe I wasn’t doing enough volume or reps to achieve the effect with the upper/lower split. I also made sure to hit at least 8 reps on each exercise. I did not go super heavy on anything this week.

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Summer Feta Cheese Salad with roll
Summer Feta Cheese Salad with roll

Nutrition

I really love nutrition. I can listen to podcasts and read articles about it all day. A hidden gem happened to come my way this week with Jacob Wilson talking about Ketogenic VS high fat diets. He basically compared TRUE keto diets (75% fat 25% protein and 5% carbs (under 30grams)  VS very high fat, but low carb diets with either 104g of carbs or 60 grams of carbs. The protein was sufficient and the same in all of the diets. The results were that the Keto diet lost more fat and held onto all muscle, but the other groups that were not quite ketogenic actually lost muscle mass. Their exercise performance was also much weaker.

Basically this study shows that unless your truly ketogenic (which is very restrictive for a lot of people), than you would do better by eating more carbs to spare protein. Its either you go under 30 grams or you go much higher and try to hit at least 1 gram per pound of carbs.

This was also in a deficit, so it probably doesn’t matter as much in a surplus of calories, but still the moral of the story was that your either ketogenic or your not. Meaning for most people carbs need to be higher than 100 grams and some starches should be eaten at some point in the day as they provide benefits that dietary fat does not.

My goal is to hit somewhat of a zone based diet. I know from the past the lower fat and high carb diets don’t do well with me. For me it led to some blood sugar issues and cravings, because dietary fat was too low per meal and carbs were too high. I ended up becoming hungry and not satisfied after meals, even if the meal was 6-700 calories. Just because 200 grams of carbs are good, doesn’t mean that 400 grams will provide magical benefits. The only thing that will provide is some extra body fat.

My goal is to hit roughly 40/30/30 for carbs, protein, fat. Considering my calories need to stay moderate without adding body fat, having protein at 30% shouldn’t be an issue. If I had to consume 4000 calories a day, than that would be way too much protein.

No matter what macros you use, this is a very good site to track with: Calorie Calculator.

Also watched a bodybuilder I follow on Youtube, has gone Vegan. I must admit his reasons for doing so, were very interesting and got me thinking a bit about most peoples over consumption of meat. I will by no means be going Vegan and never plan to because I think some of the videos that people use are extreme to persuade you, but not all farms and slaughterhouses are that cruel. Also giving up meat isnt a long term solution and reintroducing it into your diet can be a nightmare after a diet like that. Vegans complain that meat makes them sick after they started the diet. But before the diet they could tolerate it just fine. Too me this is unhealthy. A human can digest meat just fine and losing the ability to digest certain foods isnt healthy. A perfectly healthy human should be able to eat whatever they want without issue. Giving up foods will not solve this problem.

But nevertheless is was though provoking and made me consider some of my habits. In my opinion though I really dont eat that much meat.  I mean I will eat 4-5oz of meat for lunch and dinner, but a lot of my protein comes from dairy, which can be obtained from a cow without mistreatment. I mean I could obtain all the protein I need from plant sources, but doing so would lead to some massive bloating due to all the beans I would have to ingest. And yes protein is overrated and you dont need that much, but it has a lot of other benefits that the minimum threshold doesnt seem to accomplish, especially in regards to hunger control.

In my opinion, it comes back to common sense. Vegan is too extreme for most people to follow and ketogenic diets are the same. Both diets are very interesting when you delve into them, but too follow for the rest of your life would involve getting rid of a lot food that I enjoy. Some people try to go middle ground and become some weird version of vegetarianism, but that basically just becomes “I don’t eat animal meat”, but will eat everything else. That is fine, if you don’t want to eat meat, but I don’t see the need for the label. Also pescatarian is basically veganism with the addition of fish, because fish are somewhat different than animals. But the main problem with this is there are a lot of toxins in fish. I mean a lot. Fish is not a safe choice in high amounts. If pollution didnt exist then it would be fine, but trust me pollution exists and its all over the ocean.

If I had to elect the king diet, it would probably be the Mediterranean diet. Very balanced and doesnt involve extremely high carbs or low fats or vice versa. It has a broad selection of foods and even allows alcohol of up to 2-3 glasses of wine a night. Fish, meat, grains, vegetables, fruits are allowed. The recommended macro split is roughly 40/30/30. The body likes balance, so this would have my vote if I had to pick a best diet and also a diet that I could for the rest of my life. A lot of peoples ethnicity also come from this area at some point, so it makes sense that they are well adapted to a diet such as this.

Some pics from the week:

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Lean meat, veggies and cheese
Lean meat, veggies and cheese
Low calorie coffee protein shake
Low calorie coffee protein shake
Lean meat, whole egg, veggies and crab rangoon
Lean meat, whole egg, veggies and crab rangoon
Lean meat, veggies, potatoes, cheese
Lean meat, veggies, potatoes, cheese
Lean meat, rice, tons of veggies, olive oil
Lean meat, rice, tons of veggies, olive oil
Gluten free pasta, cheese, veggies, meat, imitation crab meat
Gluten free pasta, cheese, veggies, meat, imitation crab meat

Journal Entry 178 – Minimalism

Log:

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Week 23

3/14 – 177.6lbs – 2500 calories – 8500 steps – 4.22 miles

3/15 – 176.2lbs – 2300 calories – 10000 steps – 5 miles

3/16 – 176.4lbs – 2000 calories – 12500 steps – 6 miles

3/17 – 176.2lbs – 2400 calories – 11000 steps – 5 miles

3/18 – 177lbs – 2300 calories – 12000 steps – 6 miles

3/19 – 176.2lbs – 2350 calories – 8500 steps – 4 miles

3/20 – 176.6 lbs – 2300 calories – 10400 steps – 5 miles

Average Weight – 176.6lbs Average Calorie Intake – 2300 calories

Training

This was my first full week on my new split. I really enjoyed it and even though each workout was only 5 moves, it took about an hour to complete. I lifted more than I have in a long time on my key exercises.

  • Bench Press – 1st workout – 195×5 reps – 2nd workout 200×5 reps
  • Standing Shoulder Press – 1st workout – 105×4 reps – 2nd workout 105×6 reps
  • Chinups – 1st workout – 35×5 reps – 2nd workout 40×5 reps
  • Hang Cleans – 1st workout 95×6 reps – 2nd workout 110×6 reps
  • BB Squats – 1st workout 235×4 reps
  • DB Lunges – 65s x 5 reps

So 3 different workouts, with each workout focusing on two main moves. I also added an hypertrophy move right after I do the first two main moves. I have this move structured so that you use the same weight each week for 3 sets of 6-10 reps. Once you can do 3 sets of 10 total reps, you can increase the weight. For example, if I’m doing DB rows for 3 sets of 6-10 and I get 3×10,9,8, I would use the same weight next week and aim for 3×10,10,10. If I dont achieve 10 reps on ALL 3 sets then I continue using the same weight until you do.

I really like the simplicity / minimalism of this type of workout. It eliminates the unnecessary exercises that may even be working against you. I also achieve a really good pump since I feel like the quality of my form has improved since I dont feel like I need to save strength for later movements.

Every day this week, except for days I train Push muscles, I have done at least 100 pushups a day. I started with sets of 15 reps, but not I’m knocking out 20 reps a set. As long as I get 100 it doesnt really matter how many sets it takes. I knocked out 40 in a row yesterday and my form has gotten much better overall on pushups then in the past. Its also a really good way to get a good pump.

By focusing on the essentials, I’m hoping to slowly walk my lifts up a good 2.5-5lbs up each workout. By reducing the unnecessary volume and decreasing the days I was lifting from 6 to 4 days, and also hitting each muscle group at least every 4-5 days (except legs), I expect my strength levels to respond favorably. I also noticed increased enjoyment during my lift days, by cutting back to 4 days. I feel refreshed and ready to go instead of the drag type feeling I experience on some days when I try to do 6 days.

Here are goals I hope to achieve by the end of the year:

  • Bench Press 225×5 reps
  • Standing BB Press 125×5 reps
  • Chinups 60×5 reps
  • Hang Cleans 135×5 reps
  • BB Squats 250×5 reps
  • DB Lunges 75×5 reps

Bench Press is the most important to me. I really want to get that going. Also standing BB press as well because usually when that goes up, it means your core is getting much stronger as well. I forgot to mention I do Abs on Leg Days and usually add one move for 3 sets of 6-10 reps at the end of at least one other workout during the week. Usually a heavy cable crunch.

Here are my workout notes starting from last Thursday.

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Nutrition

Nothing special in nutrition this week. Added an extra 200 calories (averaged out over the week) to my baseline to hit around 2300 calories. Average weight stayed about the same.

  • Protein usually around 180-210 grams
  • Fat usually 75-90 grams (usually mid 80’s)
  • Carbs usually 90-150 grams

I also usually carb up on Saturday. I dont really do a carb refeed, but mainly just eat more starches than usual starting at lunch time. Protein is a bit higher than necessary, but again I just like eating a lot of protein with each meal and prefer the taste over carbs. I’m sure some of the excess protein converts to carbs, but it doesnt bother me. I like eating this way and only plan to mess with it if my lifts start to stall. I do think adding an additional 50grams of carbs to workout days is a good idea though. This week I consumed it as oatmeal right before bed, but I may get some roasted potatoes from trader joes and eat it with dinner. I like buying premade potatoes though, because they are a huge pain to fix and cook raw haha. Oatmeal is much easier to prepare than potatoes, because I dont heat it. I use the low sugar instant oats mix it with a little protein powder and almond milk and eat it like that. Tastes incredible.

I also aim to consume at least 3 whole eggs a day. Usually 1 in the morning with my vitamins and 2 in my lunch. My vegetable intake is high as always with lots of broccoli and spinach. My fruit intake is always at least 1 cup of berries a day and sometimes I eat a banana. Been eating a lot of avocado recently too, but these things are a pain. You have to wait until they ripen and then eat them at least within 2 days. So you almost feel forced to eat it or else its going to go bad. I still like cheese and eggs as my main fat sources, because they dont go bad nearly as fast. Also tried some Trader Joe’s Bolognese sauce and it was incredible. Very thick texture and almost tasted like a cream based sauce. It has a higher fat content than most, but less sugar so its fine with me. Been eating Kim-Chi before my vitamins each morning too. Food Lion has a good brand for about $4, which is much less than most places sell it for.

Some Pics from the week:

Shrimp and Vegatbles 1 whole egg 1 crab rangoon
Shrimp and Vegatbles
1 whole egg
1 crab rangoon
Meat and Veggies
Meat and Veggies
Meat and Vegetables with Special K chips
Meat and Vegetables with Special K chips
Dessert Oatmeal 3 low sugar great value packets 3/4 scoop of protein powder - vanilla berries on top
Dessert Oatmeal
3 low sugar great value packets
3/4 scoop of protein powder – vanilla
berries on top
Meat and Veggies 1 whole egg Cheese
Meat and Veggies
1 whole egg
Cheese
2 whole eggs 5.5oz of lean meat 1oz of cheese Veggies
2 whole eggs
5.5oz of lean meat
1oz of cheese
Veggies
Lean meat Turkey Pepperoni 1/2 cup of bolognese sauce Cheese
Lean meat
Turkey Pepperoni
1/2 cup of bolognese sauce
Cheese