sleep

Journal Entry 289 – Return of Cardio / The End of McAdoo

I decided to take on a December Dedication challenge. This idea was from listening to one of Joe Rogan’s podcasts after he overdid it on his vacation with too much food and drinking. His rules were different than mine, but the idea was great nevertheless. My rules are as follows:

  • Do cardio 5 days a week for at least 30 minutes
  • Eat out only twice a week (max)
  • Cut about 5lbs of fat and decrease waist size
  • Eat at least 5 servings of produce a day (easy for me)

So far it has been great. My diet is as 1500 calories max for 4 to maybe 5 days a week and 2500 calories 2-3 days a week. Based on my maintenance of anywhere from 2500-2700 calories, this is anywhere from 1 lb to 1.5lbs a week of fat loss. I’m trying to take off most of this fat before the Holidays.

I have actually missed cardio. Some days it wasn’t great during the cardio, but after I feel so good and energized. I also sleep very well. My anxiety always decreases as well. The only two days I don’t do cardio is Friday and Saturday due to my schedule. 9AM – 8PM doesn’t allow much time for cardio, so I simply take some rest on those days and just lift on my lunch break instead.

My lifting routine is back to 4 days a week with a Push / Pull setup. Three exercises each day with very little isolation moves. Back to do doing 6-8 reps range and loving it. Don’t need a lot of carbs to power through these.

As for the composition of my diet, its back to a much higher protein diet very similar to the way I ate in the past. It’s the best way to control calories and to be sure you’re not losing muscle on a cut. Carbs are lower, but still there and fat is low. I’m technically only dieting 4-5 days a week and taking a break on two of those. I have seen some nice visual progress already this week.

The eating out part is to break some bad habits. Not that I’m eating out at very bad places, their pretty healthy, but you have no idea how many calories these meals actually have. Your at best just estimating what’s there. Also, it saves a lot of money to reduce eating out a couple times a week.

The Giants finally fired Ben “fat a**” McAdoo and Jerry Reese their GM. I couldn’t agree more since they ruined Eli Manning’s 210 consecutive start streak for a meaningless game that meant nothing to our team. What a fn joke. I don’t want to rant here because it would be a very long post, but seeing these guys fired was like Christmas morning. Reese needed to go as well. He doesn’t know how to build a team and has drafted very poorly for the last few years, save for a few.

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Journal Entry 276 – Shift Change

Life:

The first week on the new shift. Hasn’t been too bad except for being wired at 12 am when I get off. I drive home and then it takes me a good hour to go to sleep, so not really falling asleep til 1:30 am. I try to get up at around 7:30-8, so been getting around 6 hours of sleep per day. I’ve been a little sluggish in the morning since I’m used to 8 hours, but nothing too bad. Coffee usually wakes me up pretty good. It was also strange going to work on Saturday, but honestly wasn’t bad at all. Our team gets along really well, so it makes the time go by pretty quick.

I traded in my laptop at Costco, for one that looks a lot better in my opinion. Its very similar in stats to the other one but is lighter, better battery and is 2 in 1 touch screen.

I also went through my closet last weekend and cleaned out everything I don’t wear anymore. I’m a minimalist, so this was a very satisfying thing to do. I ended up with 3 bags of Goodwill clothes and I honestly think I came away with more clothes. I rediscovered old clothes that I can still wear but just have forgotten about because they were hidden behind clothes I didn’t wear. I really didn’t think I had 3 bags of clothes to throw away, but I did.

On a random note, Denis Shapovalov an 18-year-old Canadian tennis player, beat my boy Nadal in a match pretty handily.  After seeing the highlights, he looks like he could make a lot of noise soon. He has very impressive power for someone that skinny. He seems to be very likeable though, so interested to see what he does in the future.

Food:

I tried a burrito bowl from Kroger and it was average at best. 6 out of 10. The rice was good, but the beans tasted like they were straight out of the can. Chicken was super dry and the rest of the toppings were decent, but there wasn’t enough flavor. Their guacamole was very good, but it couldn’t save it.

Went back to Mellow Mushroom for the first time in awhile and it did not disappoint. Half bbq chicken, half chicken and veggies. I literally think I could go there and order nothing, but crust though and it would an amazing meal. 😉

I’ve been loosely tracking macros and have averaged around 2100 calories. Been eating twice the amount of carbs as protein and fat is always in the moderate range.

Workouts:

Slowly gaining strength, but lifts are still about the same as they have been. Only did cardio twice this week and played tennis once.

 

 

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)

 

Journal Entry 241 – Reevaluating

This week as pretty mediocre in terms of lifting and I actually realized why my strength has been somewhat stagnant here recently. One huge reason is a lack of creatine. I stopped taking it and I realized it was negatively impacting my lifts and volume. I noticed the biggest effect on the bench press. I also have been kind of slacking on cardio and trying to lift too often. In addition to my bro split setup, I have been going in to doing a lot of pump work and bodyweight work in addition to light running. I think this fluff is just extra noise that I really don’t need to be doing. It seems to be taking away from what really matters. Days of cardio only I feel are actually really effective to keep in for a variety of reasons, but mainly because they help shuttle recovery, prevent CNS burnout from lifting too often and also keep motivation high. Lifting everyday sounds good, but after awhile you start to extremely bored of the same repetitive workouts over and over. I plan on keeping the same split I have been doing for almost a month now and just do cardio only on my off days. I was also considering doing a split where I hit the same muscles every 4th day. For example, Workout A / Cardio / Workout B / Cardio/ Workout A. This would allow me to hit chest far more frequently which is ideal and also keep it somewhat minimalist in terms of exercises so I can really see what is affecting my strength and size progression.

Another interesting point I noticed is that by trying to lift everyday, I can seem to sleep for days. I force myself to get up at 9am after going to be around 12-1am, but if I allowed myself to just sleep, I would probably sleep another 2-3 hours easy. During the work week this really isn’t an option. On the other hand when I just keep it to straight cardio and stay the hell out of the gym in terms of weights on “off” days, I sleep well and then wake up rather spryly.

Diet has been around 2400 calories this week. I was hoping since I was eating more that I could get away with some of this extra “workout volume”, but I guess not. Also my gym is starting to get insanely packed. No matter what time of the day it just feels overcrowded. This really bums me out to be honest. Working out for me is a solo activity where I zone out and get into my “zone.” I can’t do this at all inside of a crowded gym. It really bugs me and if I start back on 9-6 soon then it may only get worse. Unless I workout earlier in the day. This is one reason I really look forward to cardio days though. When I do cardio I can be by myself and just zone out for a good 30 minute to an hour, feel awesome afterward and move on with my day. Sometimes the crowded gym prevents me from getting done what I want to get done in terms of workout and can actually really affect my mood. This makes me think a 3 day split may be better for me now, so I don’t have to deal with it as often. Still playing around with it. 😉

My diet is still far from structured and I did lower my protein this week by a decent margin. I ran 5 miles and accumulated 8 total miles yesterday and noticed my craving for dietary fat increased dramatically. I also sweat like crazy and showered after my workout and the next time I ate something it tasted extremely good. Another benefit of running for long miles. 🙂 My mom actually brought me some cookies from some place she went to for work and I actually had like 7 of them. They were on the smaller side, but I honestly didn’t care. I also woke up this morning with a ravenous appetite and I estimated taking in around 3000 calories yesterday. I think my metabolism may be speeding up a bit. I will say to before I forget that running does have some very distinct benefits over lifting (for me anyway). If you ever felt like you had way too much food just sitting in your stomach, then running is the solution. It literally clears you out and also allows you to pack in much more dirty food then lifting does. I also realized it kind of helps clear your sinuses as well. Although I think running only has benefits if you are eating enough. I think its beyond miserable when calories are too low, but then again so is just about everything else in life.

 

 

 

The Massive Benefits of Daily Cardio

The Massive Benefits of Daily Cardio

Doing cardio 4-7 times a week for at least 30 minutes can have the following benefits. It is recommended to get the heart rate up to 60-85% of your maximum heart rate (ideally 70-85% when you’re in good shape). Your max heart rate is 220 – your age. You then count your pulse for 10 seconds and multiply by 6 to find how many times your heart is beating per minute. If you heart rate is too low you mass miss out on some of the benefits.

An easy way to tell is after 10-15 minutes of so, your breathing should be greatly accelerated and you should be sweating as this is the body’s way of cooling you down due to an increased heart rate.

Cardio can be overdone as well, but anything under an a hour a day has been shown to be positive, where going over an hour a day may not be so wise and can lead to decreased well-being.

  • Cardio Benefits
    • Less stress and anxiety. Cardio acts as an outlet for excess stress in the body. Without the cardio stress can become too internalized and lead to nasty consequences.
    • Deeper more restful sleep due to activation of the parasympathetic nervous system
    • Greater endurance during exercise
    • Improved recovery from exercise
    • Heart efficiency (120-150bpm)
      • Allow max blood flow through left ventricle of heart
    • Extends life span
    • Cardio increase core body temperature and accelerates your metabolism for hours after you do it.
    • Cardio increases insulin sensitivity. One session of 25-60 minutes at (60-95% of VO2 max) has been shown to increase insulin sensitivity for 3-5 days after.
    • Cardio increases digestion and reduces bloating
    • Cardio can prevent some of the side effects of overeating
    • Cardio helps control blood sugar and appetite
    • Reduces mental tension
    • Increases happiness by releasing endorphins and creating euphoria (no drugs necessary ;))
    • Increased sex drive due to better overall blood flow through the body. Testosterone was also shown to be 25% higher compared to people that were sedentary.
    • Increased nutrient absorption to muscles and organs
    • Decreased diseases risk. (Heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, high cholesterol)
    • Decreased Inflammation. Reduces free radical damage, increases blood flow and nutrients to skin, increases collagen production which decreases wrinkles.
    • Increased self confidence
    • Can increase Vitamin D levels if done outside, which has been shown to have a plethora of benefits
    • Increase brain capacity and function and prevent Alzheimer’s. It does this by increasing blood flow and neurogenesis (new brain cells) and brain derived neurotropic factor (BDNF)
    • Helps control addiction by stimulating dopamine and distracting drug users from their cravings
    • Exercise increases productivity
    • Increases creativity
    • Increased immunity and detox. It does this by creating more white blood cells, which decreases bacteria and viruses. Also helps fuel the lymph systems which decreases metabolic waste products. (you look less puffy and bloated)
    • Increased circulation, which can increase 4-5 times the amount of restful conditions. This again increases lymph drainage and decreases puffiness. The key here is to breathe hard.
    • Less visceral and subcutaneous body fat. Cardio allows you to eat more while losing fat.
    • Cardio increases the metabolism, when losing fat and can help establish a new body weight set point. As long as you don’t cut calories too hard while exercising. (Going below your BMR is too low)
    • Increased lung capacity
    • Increased fat metabolism
    • Increases total number of red blood cells
    • Decreases death rate by 25-33% compared to non exercises
    • Less chronic muscle pain, less stiffness and greater mobility and agility
  • Cardio Increases Looks
    • Cardio can lean out the face. After 15 minutes of an increased heart rate, muscles start to require more oxygen, so blood and oxygen is diverted away from your face and fat starts to burn off. It also reduces excess water weight.
    • Improves skin. Sweating helps pores dilated and release dirt and oil as long as you wash off after doing it.
  • Fasted Cardio
    • Fasted cardio promotes autophagy. Autophagy is a process of cellular cleansing that the body undergoes during fasting. Instead of fasting for long periods, doing a 30-45 minute cardio session in the morning with no food, is just as effective and can greatly increase insulin sensitivity when you do eat.
    • Fasted morning cardio was the only way to prevent the cancerous effects of a hyper caloric high fat diet. (AMPK regulated this)
    • Fasted cardio does not result in more fat burned vs fed cardio to any significant degree

Works Cited:

http://robertsontrainingsystems.com/blog/long-duration-low-intensity-cardio/

http://suppversity.blogspot.com/2013/08/want-to-clean-up-cellular-garbage-train.html

http://examine.com/faq/how-do-i-increase-insulin-sensitivity/

http://perfecthealthdiet.com/2012/09/exercise-is-less-better-than-more/

https://experiencelife.com/article/8-ways-exercise-makes-you-gorgeous/

http://greatist.com/fitness/13-awesome-mental-health-benefits-exercise

http://www.bodybuilding.com/fun/cardio_benefits.htm

How to Boost Your Testosterone

Testosterone is one of the most important hormones in the body in order to maximize results. Knowing how to maximize its production is essential if you want to change your body and maximize muscle building and fat loss. Men produce almost 50 times the amount that women produce and its the reason why men have a much easier time building muscle and maintain a naturally lower body fat percentage. Steroids also greatly increase the hormone receptors for Testosterone, which is why you can basically not even lift while taking steroids and gain muscle mass.

Adequate Testosterone can also help men lose more belly fat. Testosterone and cortisol oppose each other and excess cortisol stores belly fat. This is why on diets, especially starvation and restrictive diets, drop your testosterone levels to those of the level of an 8 year old girl. In other words, skinny-fat people have a low testosterone level and by increasing levels of this androgen, their skinny-fat bodies will soon become less fat and more muscular simply by increasing testosterone.

Testosterone increases your sexual desire as well. Many people under chronic stress see there testosterone levels tank. This can be from incorrect dieting and also mental stress from life. There is even some research to show that women can smell testosterone on a man, which makes that man more attractive to females, especially compared to a male with high cortisol levels. High stress also negatively impacts mood and motivation. Many people that are depressed have T levels that match their moods.

I’ve seen a lot of conflicting research, but after wading through some of the “nonsense” it actually becomes quite simple to implement.

Quick Note: If you think low fat or low carb or high protein diets are the solution, then you may want to think again. That being said here are some very simple tips on how to increase the Big T:

  1. Adequate Calories – This is number one for a reason. Certain macro nutrients have been show to increase testosterone (going to call it T from now on), but if your calories are too low it really doesn’t matter. The biggest deficit you want to have when losing fat to keep your T levels on track would be about 15-20% from your total maintenance. Any lower than that and T concentrations will drop.
  2. Adequate Monounsaturated Fat, Saturated Fat and Cholesterol – T is synthesized from fat and cholesterol, so obviously consuming low amounts of either would cause a significant drop off in T levels. Many low fat diets exclude dietary fat because “Dietary fat is more likely to be stored as fat versus protein or carbs.” Somewhat of a true statement, but I guarantee the people giving this advice have a pretty low T level. The evidence is clear, getting adequate fat from MONOUNSATURATED AND SATURATED FATS increase T levels. Polyunsaturated fats from vegetable oil and processed chips and food actually DECREASE it. So its not just overall fat intake, the type also matters greatly in this instance. Cholesterol is also very underrated for brain health, concentration levels, liver health and retaining vitamins and nutrients. As for amounts, cholesterol intake should be around 1000 mg a day and dietary fat intake should be .35-5 grams per pound of body weight. Whole eggs are incredible sources as well as red meat, cheese, avocado, dairy fat, most nuts, butter and coconut oil.
  3. Adequate Carbohydrates – Underrated for health by many mainstream authorities, carbs are crucial for maintaining a positive Testosterone: Coritsol ratio. When the body and more importantly the liver gets depleted it senses starvation and puts a halt to reproductive hormones. Carbs are also crucial for lower cortisol levels, as cortisol is the main antagonist to T. Some experts say that sugar decreases T, but I disagree. Sugar in the short term decreases T because insulin clears it out of the blood and deposits T into the muscles and reproductive cells, where it belongs! In other words, its only a short term decrease in T, but has no real impact on long term T levels. Higher amounts of carbs have also been shown to increase free testosterone, due to insulin reducing the amount bound to SHBG. SHBG binds to your total testosterone and renders it useless. The more free testosterone you have the better, so you essentially need carbs to unleash your total testosterone levels. As for the amount I would say at least 120 grams to keep the liver healthy and more if you lift weights. I’ve seen a 2:1 ratio of carbs to protein being effective, but as long as carbs are equal to or greater than protein and calories are sufficient it probably doesn’t matter too much.
  4. Adequate Protein, but Not Excessive Protein– This one is hard for me to admit, because I really like high protein diets and the many advantages they bring. But I think just about everyone consumes too much and doing so negatively impacts T. The research is pretty clear and not many people get benefit from going over .8 grams per pound multiplied by body weight. This is also a MAXIMUM amount meaning you could get away with much less. 120 grams seems to be adequate for maximizing muscle gain and muscle retention on fat loss diets. Research also shows a very positive correlation with increased protein and increased cortisol. The higher the protein intake, the higher the cortisol, especially when protein is replacing T boosting carbs and fat. Although a diet of lean protein and vegetables is pretty potent for fat burning, it sucks big time for T levels and adequate hormone levels.
  5. Lift Weights and Minimize Cardio – My favorite tip to give to most people. Lifting weights 3-5 times a week maximizes T levels while minimizing cortisol. Going for long runs in excess of 30 minutes can do a lot of damage to natural hormones and mess up the endocrine system. All cardio isnt bad though. Walking on an incline avoids a lot of the negative hormonal responses that running brings. Endurance training also interferes with muscle growth by sending conflicting signals to the muscles. (Note this is more a problem when cardio is excessive, but when creating a diet to maximize T levels, endurance cardio just doesn’t belong any where near it. ;))
  6. Get Down to a Lean Body Fat, but Not Too Lean – Losing excess fat decreases estrogen and increases T. But this positive benefit occurs at lean body weights between 8%-15% body fat. Going too low in body fat can actually decrease T levels. I think this is more of a problem for people who have to restrict their diet to get down to these levels. If you are naturally lean and have a hard time putting on fat, then your T may be just fine even at 5% body fat. Do NOT crash diet though even if your obese. Follow my first step and set a small deficit to ensure your getting enough macros in to support the Big T while slowly losing fat and setting your hormones straight.
  7. Liver Health – Restrictive diets, especially ones that restrict certain macros stress the liver out to produce energy. The way to avoid this by always eating a balance diet. Also be sure to include zinc, magnesium, calcium and vitamin D which have all been shown to increase T levels.
  8. Get Some Sleep– Lack of sleep has some really negative side effects and lower T is one of them. When the body never gets in a restful state cortisol gets too high and the body is stressed out. Testosterone requires REM sleep, which only occurs under deep and restful sleep. Try to get around 6-8 hours. Getting too much sleep 10 hours or more can negatively impact T levels.

Keep Points and Sample Diet:

  • Make sure to eat a balanced diet with adequate fat, carbs and proteins. Restricting any one macro-nutrient can hurt liver health and negatively impact T production.
  • Fat should be around .35-.5 grams per pound of bodyweight from Mono and Saturated Fats. (more than this doesn’t increase T further)
  • Cholesterol intake should be roughly 1000 mg a day, maybe even a bit more (whole eggs and meat help greatly with this)
  • Carbs should be at least 120 grams, but should optimally be around a 2:1 ratio to protein. (Example 240 carbs to 120 grams of protein)
  • Protein should be adequate and included in each meal, but not excessive. 120 grams -160 grams a day is plenty.
  • If your overweight get to a lean body fat, but don’t crash diet to get there. A calorie deficit of 15-25% is a sweet spot.
  • Optimize the Liver with essential nutrients and a balanced diet.
  • Get around 6-10 hours of sleep each night to ensure REM sleep. No more or less than this range.

Sample Balanced Diet:

(This is how I currently eat, feel free to change the foods or number of meals)

Coffee with Half and Half and Splenda (Half and Half and heavy cream is saturated fat from dairy, which can favorably impact T levels)

Meal 1 – 2 scoops of Elite XT protein powder; 1 cup of berries; 1/2 cup of almond milk (to mix protein powder); 1-2 Tbs of Peanut Butter; 1/2 Quest Bar

Meal 2 – 6oz of lean red meat; 2 Deviled Eggs; 2 cups of Broccoli (decreases estrogen); Parmesean cheese; 1 large sweet potato (10-12 oz) or 4-5 slices of white bread (postworkout)

Meal 3 –  1/2 Quest Bar and a large apple

Meal 4 (usually twice the size of a normal meal) – 1-2 cups of white rice, 6-8oz of red meat;  2 cups of Broccoli; 2 whole eggs  all mixed into a stirfry (This is a very big and filling meal)

This gets your right around where you want to be. Carb intake is greater than protein intake. Protein is definitely adequate and is included in each meal to initiate protein synthesis, but its not overkill. I also eat smaller meals during the day and a bigger meal at night. This is mainly personal preference, but I found it helps with sleep quality. I also have more time to cook and eat at night, so I eat when I can enjoy more food. Also, the only meal here that is low carb is breakfast. I’ll either have the above meal of two scoops of protein powder with nut butter and berries. Its low carb though, because my energy levels are way better than when I include a starch in the first meal. I literally fall asleep with oatmeal in the morning and after trial and error moving this back meal in the day right after lifting, sets me up way better. Feel free to play around with serving sizes depending on your size.

After researching testosterone, it seems as though the body produces it when your healthy. Many people that are depressed, eating restrictive diets (especially low in fat or carbs), constantly stressed out or doing drugs or alcohol usually have really low T levels. Once these people start returning to healthier habits and improve their mood T levels come back. Consider testosterone as something you earn for being healthy and eating and exercising properly. Once T levels get going, the results are incredible in more ways than one.

Sample Macro Setup:

Lets say your 175lbs and you want to drop fat. Your total maintenance is roughly 2500 calories a day. Ideally you would want to cut about 500 calories a day and hit about 2000 calories. Your macros would ideally be: 240 grams of carbs / 120 grams of protein / 62 grams of fat. Hitting roughly 30 grams of protein per meal is usually optimal and anything over that hasn’t been shown to increase muscle gain or fat loss when other macronutrients are present in the diet.

If your goal was not to lose fat then ideally you would keep the same ratio just eat maintenance at 2500 calories. So 313g of carbs / 156 grams of protein / 69 grams of fat.

Links:

http://www.washingtonsblog.com/2012/04/man-up-boost-your-testosterone-level-for-health-power-and-confidence.html

http://www.muscle-health-fitness.com/bodybuilding-diet-plan.html/