This marks my 5th week at my current split. Last week started horribly in terms of lifting. Everything felt heavy as h@ll and I didn’t even want to go to the gym. I tried to go lower carb last week with higher fats and let’s just say that didn’t work out too well. Towards the end of the week, my strength was much better, but that is mainly because I started to slam carbs again. Also, the pork rinds experiment was kind of a fail, because they taste horrible. 😦
So, I decided to start eating carbs every meal and increased my calories. My weight has been a rock at 181lbs. I’ve eaten around 2400 calories every day this week with well over 200 grams of carbs a day. Fat has also been higher at about 70 grams and protein has been between 120-145 grams. I really want to start throwing up some heavier weight though. I’m tired of getting stuck on the same weights and the only way I see this is going to happen it to keeping bumping up my calories and carbs til I find every day in the gym see’s some type of progressive overload. I honestly think it is possible to see this if you are eating enough.
I have noticed some interesting benefits recently though. I can put down a serious amount of food and wake up looking pretty good. I used to diet super “clean” all the time and every time I had a cheat meal with too much “carbs, fats and sodium” I would look like bloated mess for maybe up to 2-3 days. And then I would then go back to the low-calorie diet and the cycle would repeat. I can only attribute this to higher testosterone. Carbs and fats increase testosterone and protein decreases it in a dose-dependent fashion. I like protein, but there really is no benefits to overeating it, when all you likely need is more carbs.
If those aren’t interesting reads, then I don’t know what is. 😉 My goal in the not too distant future is to bench 225x 8 reps for 3 sets. I really want to hit this as soon as possible. Also, ran into an old friend yesterday who is probably 200lbs and under 10% bodyfat. He was one arm shoulder pressing 80lb dumbbells and benching 380lbs. Yeah holy sh!t. Made me feel like a weakling. I need to step my game up. 🙂
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.
Panera 2 weeks ago – Cobb salad with Grilled Cheese
Sarah and I
Cocoa Almond milk with berries (my dessert recently)
I remember back the first time I lost weight, I didnt ask anyone what they thought or what was the right way or the wrong way to do it. I simply stopping drinking sugary drinks and switched to diet and I watched my fat intake, so that it remained low in my diet. It definitely wasn’t high protein and considering dietary fat was kept low it was definitely high carb. I also didnt count calories either. In eighth grade, I dropped down to 130lbs at 5ft 8in tall. I looked good for the height I was as well. Dont get me wrong I had no muscle and wasn’t even remotely interested in lifting weights or exercise then. The only thing I did was play basketball after school and sports during gym time. I remember at one point I would literally eat a bag of sour patch kids at night and the next day my teeth hurt so bad I couldnt eat for like 10 hours haha. Point being carbs and fat loss have gotten a bad wrap. There is plenty of anecdotal evidence showing that once calories come down, fat loss occurs no matter what. Now there are plenty of things that can throw this equation off. Thyroid can slow down, testosterone can drop, cortisol and growth hormone can become abnormally high and the result is your body becomes resistant to these hormones and to fat loss. The body suffers a so called “adrenaline diabetes” and your body is basically constantly fueled by stress and adrenaline and needs copious amounts of coffee to keep going. Not a great state to be in. Usually in this state you usually have zero appetite, but when you do get an appetite you crave salt and sugar like no other. Most people think this is a bad thing, but if your body is begging for it, then trust me its not a bad thing.
Carbs may be the solution to end this stress fueled metabolism. Carbs are the only macronutrient to basically signal to your body that it is well fed. Cortisol and stress are very beneficial, but only when counterbalanced with a period of feeding and relaxation and adequate calories and carbs. Research shows even when calories are adequate, but carbs are not then thyroid will get suppressed big time. Thyroid is needed to turn cholesterol into sexual hormones, so guess what happens when your thyroid is down. Low sex drive. Not to say you won’t have any sex drive, but it will be greatly reduced. When it comes to protein and fat, you need what you need to build muscle and absorb vitamins and minerals, but this really isnt a massive amount. .7 grams multiplied by your lean body mass in grams is likely to be sufficient. I would honestly go slightly higher to .8-1 grams per pound of lean body mass, but again more isn’t really better. The amount of dietary fat you need is roughly .2-.33 grams per pound of lean body mass. If you weight 170lbs and have 155lbs of lean body mass, then 31-51 grams of fat is likely sufficient. For protein it would be 109-155 grams. Lets cut down the middle and go 41 grams of fat and 132 grams of protein, this equals roughly 900 calories a day. I wouldn’t go much lower than 11x lean body weight in calories when trying to successfully lose fat and maintain muscle and this an aggressive approach. For the example, it would be 1700 calories total – 900 from protein and fat = 800 calories. The rest of these calories go to carbs or roughly 200 grams. That’s a decent amount of carbs that will keep your muscles, liver, brain and central nervous system properly fueled while you burn fat. If your lightly active and burn lets say 2300 calories a day, then 2300 – 1700 calories consumed = 600 calories worth of body fat. By eating sufficient calories and carbs and also enough protein and fat, your prevent the above situation where you constantly fueled by stress hormones and adrenaline. You also dramatically decrease muscle loss by eating more carbs and your muscles look and feel stronger when working out. This leads to more calories burned during exercise and more fat loss overall. A diet setup this way, especially if your active, which in my opinion everyone should be, then your energy, health and metabolism will be much better. I also highly recommend overfeeding once a week. Carbs can help prevent dramatic decreases in metabolism, but I still think a calorie deficit all the time is not a good idea. If your trying to lose fat then you want to overfeed or at least eat a maintenance level of calories at least once a week. Two- three days if your leaner and are trying to drop into the single digits of bodyfat. 4-5 days if your trying to maintain and build muscle. I think underfeeding is still good to because calorie restriction does have benefits if used properly. But again you can still underfeed with plenty of carbs in the diet.
A diet like this is also much more flexible and diverse then one that has you eat 300 grams of protein and 100 grams of fat to ensure your “getting enough protein.” Or a keto diet that has 150 grams of fat and >30 grams of carbs. Good luck sticking to that one. Lets say your with family or friends and they want you to try a recipe out that has more than 30 grams of carbs. “Sorry, but I can only eat 30 grams of carbs a day for the rest of my life, no can do.” Makes you look and feel kind of bad. And since your body basically forgets how to digest carbs, especially after going very low for long periods of time, you usually get pretty fat soon after reintroducing carbs. You better off avoiding situations like this. Also once your leaner and not diabetic, then all carbs are essentially the same, so you can basically eat any source you want. This includes fruit, sugar or starches. I personally would recommend more starches, 1-3 pieces of fruit and a little sugar, but I wouldnt worry too much about it, as long as the amount is controlled. So in my opinion, carbs are essential and should be consumed regularly. If you are on a keto or very low carb diet, then my advice would be to pick a calories range between 11-12x lean body weight and start eating more carbs and less fat like my example above. This will allow your body to get used to eating carbs again, but since your in a deficit you wont gain any fat. Once you feel good and less bloated after meals then start bumping up the carbs and calories closer to maintenance or just start cycling calories, while leaving protein and fat constant.
On a random note, most cultures run on carbs for the majority of their fuel intakes.
My workouts got a little thrown off this week due to my trip to Virginia Tech for the football game. I was gone from Saturday – Monday and got back Tuesday, so I just started my split Tuesday this week. Hit full body and after a weekend of bad nutrition, didn’t perform too bad. Currently in my training, I really dont care about the weight lifted, but more the feel. Been aiming for roughly 10-12 reps for 3-4 sets depending on the move. I really like this pump training though and its a nice change up from going heavy. I also try to hit roughly 5 miles a day through walking and daily activity. Still lifting 3 days a week every other day and go for a run two days a week. My diet was pretty erratic this week, but doing 3 days of a deficit on rest days, 3 days of surplus on workout days and 1 days of maintenance on Friday. Macros are similar to example above, but roughly 150 grams of protein, 45 grams of fat and the rest carbs. I also have some drinks on some nights. 😉 My weight is also roughly 172lbs this week.
Been eating a lot of the Trader Joe’s ready made rice and pasta mixes. Pretty healthy overall and very easy to make. They also make tracking much easier because its already portioned out. Highly recommend gnocchi alla sorrentina. Its a pasta with a red tomato sauce and some cheese. Macros are very good on it. The vegetable fried rice, asian style, is very good as well.
Average Weight 174.4lbs – Average Calorie Intake 1970 calories
My weigh-ins were very inconsistent this week, because my scale is broken. It still gives readings, but the reading are all over the place. On 1/22 it gave me 3 different readings, so I just took the average. I also weighed myself on 3 different scales and they all gave different readings, so the average is off this week. I haven’t decided what scale I’m going to get next.
Pretty good week of training though. No PRs were busted and my chest workout was pretty weak because my triceps were very sore. I’ll post pics below of each workout, to show the weight lifted for each exercise.
My back workout was off to a bad start because I had to do regular barbell deadlifts in place of trap bar deadlifts. The reason being because some lady was using it doing 20lbs on each side. My weight lifted decreased on the amount I was able to do. DB Rows and chinups were very good though.
Shoulders and triceps were up next and it was a very good workout. Did 3 sets of 6 reps with 55lbs in each hand for DB shoulder press and then did heavy dips for triceps with about 50lbs.
Legs and biceps was the last workout I did and I changed up the rep scheme slightly to a reverse pyramid. Instead of doing 3 sets of 6 reps like I did for every other muscle group, I changed it to 3 sets of 4-6 reps, 6-8 reps, then 8-10 reps. The first set is your all out set where you aim to bust plateaus and set a PR, then you drop 10% of the weight each time and aim for 2-3 more reps. Repeat this for however many sets you do. The beauty of this is your first sets recruits all muscle fibers, so that when your drop the weight on the next set, the weight feels much lighter than it usually would. I must admit, I really liked this scheme. It also added in a lot of volume to the muscles, which brought an awesome pump and fatigue response. Overall the weights were still very heavy and strength gain is still the goal, but dropping the weight allows for better form and more volume for more size. I also added up the total weight lifted by doing this approach instead of just reps at 6 and I ended up lifting an additional 1000 total pounds each exercise.
I still may go back to the 5 day split though. This week I will rearrange it to allow for better recovery. It will be Chest day, Back Day, OFF, Shoulder Day, Arms Day, Legs Day, OFF. This will allow 2 days between arms and chest, so that my triceps are not sore on chest day. I may just keep it 4 though, because I was really eager to lift on each session this week. Either way it will still be the same overall volume, just spread out differently.
I may add in some calories this week to the low days. Been doing a lot of thinking and my strength is fine, but not really progressing. I still want to burn fat during the week, but I also want to increase my lifts way faster than they have been going up. I plan to add maybe 2-300 calories a day during the week mainly at dinner. The weekends will be at or slightly above maintenance.
Carbs will be kept the same around 100 grams or so maybe slightly more, maybe slightly less. I plan to increase mainly dietary fat. Dinner is usually 5-6 oz of lean meat, green vegetables (a lot) and some Firehook crackers. I plan to change that to 5-6 oz of lean meat cooked in 1 tbs of butter or just add some fatty cheese and 2-3 whole eggs on the side with a lot of veggies. Or I may do some steak and eggs each night. Mainly increasing dietary fat, while leaving protein and carbs the same. I eat most of my carbs on the weekend anyway.
Steak and eggs is an old school bodybuilder style diet aimed at increasing cholesterol and fat intake for better testosterone and hormones. My dinner is kind of boring and is too similar to lunch, so I feel like this will be a good change. Whole eggs also have a ton of benefits and I feel like I don’t eat enough of them. I also feel it will greatly help my taste buds. 😉
This will result in slower fat loss, but I feel like my leanness is right around where I want it and dont mind a slower pace of fat loss for the exchange of better performance in the gym and more food. The way I’m eating now is very similar to the Anabolic diet, which is a very popular diet that many still follow. Its similar, but not the same. The Anabolic diet is a very high fat intake and very low carb >30 grams. My carbs will be much higher around 100 grams during the week and fat and calories wont be over maintenance.
If my body responds well to the increased calories I may keep slowly bumping them up, by adding more fat on the low days. Again mainly increasing fat for the added Testosterone boost. Carbs will be replenished on the weekend. The more and more research I read, shows that carbs are pretty overrated for muscle gains and a lot of people are better served with a higher fat intake. Menno Henselmans has an awesome blog with current research proving this. Considering weight training doesnt deplete that much glycogen, it doesnt make sense to overeat carbs all the time. Although carbs should be high on at least 1-2 days to fill up glycogen stores for better gym performance and to upregulate certain fat burning hormones. I also feel dietary fat has more to add in the way of added nutrients and hormone support, then carbs. Most carbs have very little if any nutrition, besides fruits and veggies of course, mainly referring to starches.
Most high carb approaches come from people on steroids. They eat high carbs because the steroids provides all the necessary hormones and testosterone. Meaning they dont need any dietary fat to make hormones because the drugs provide all they need. So they eat a ton of carbs to make up their energy balance. Adding fat works for me though. It tastes way better than most starch sources.
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:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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. ;))
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.
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.
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.