Monthly Archives: January 2013
A wise friend once told me, “If you study your craft and create good content, eventually it will get out there.” Myself being kind of a hippie, it sounded like overly optimistic hippie talk to me. But I’m starting to see how it may just be da truth. The fitness industry is catching on my friends, and it seems as if they are digging the Intermittent Feast approach. I’m excited to say I have two articles in both Men’s Fitness and Muscle & Fitness this month. Here’s da preview
I. MUSCLE & FITNESS (FEBRUARY 2013)
In terms of mainstream exposure, I know Men’s Fitness is probably the bigger deal, but M&F is a huge personal accomplishment for me. Me and my brother Shawn used to collect Muscle & Fitness magazines as kids. We had drawers and milk crates full of them. I remember saying to myself that I was going to be in that mag one day. So to get to write for them now is a huge honor, and a dream come true.
#1 - How to Eat For Abs…And Say Hasta La Vista to Your Fat Stores (pg 38)
This is a quick break down of calorie and macronutrient calculations for cutting up. Its a 3-phase approach that includes establishing a baseline, the targeted fat loss phase, and a final cyclical diet plan to burn off the last layer of flab, carve in the 6-er, and take it home.
#2 – The Ultimate Clean Bulk: Forget the Cutting Phase and Get Ripped While you Bulk with Intermittent Feasting. (pg 120)
This is a full-on feature story that I’m proud of. I’m not a fan of the get huge and fat approach or sh*tloading, junk-loading, or whatever else you crazy kids are calling it these days. So I break down a bulking plan with optimized food choices, macro calculations, and the Intermittent Feast structure.
Arnold on the cover. Miyaki articles inside. How could you go wrong?
II. MEN’S FITNESS (FEB 2013)
It was a huge opportunity to get to write for Men’s Fitness. That’s some pretty big exposure for such a Little Shiitake. I’m stoked they gave Intermittent Feast some space, because it is a non-traditional approach that goes completely against what you normally hear about in fitness magazines regarding what you must do to lose weight — eat 5 small meals and snacks, cut calories/carbs and starve at night, find your favorite piece of cardio equipment, etc.
A. The Real Resolution Workout: Get Ripped and Strong This Year, Starting With this Six-Week Plan. Bonus: No Cardio Required! (pg. 94)
B. Your Guaranteed Muscle Meal Plan: It Seems Crazy, But Trust Us — You Won’t Believe the Results. (pg. 102)
This was a double feature with a 3-4 days-a-week strength training program and an accompanying diet plan based on Intermittent Feast. I couldn’t be happier. They really let me share my philosophy. Use diet as your primary weapon for fat loss and strength train to gain/maintain lean muscle mass and shape the body. Cardio is unnecessary at best.
A bonus for Kalai is that Jason Statham is on the cover. He’s in her Top 5. To be honest, I think she could care less about my article inside, hahaha.
In most social situations, I’m kind of a shy wallflower. Just ask my wife how “smooth” I was when trying to ask her out on our first date. It seriously was kindergarten sh*t.
But as it turns out, if you get me talking about nutrition, you can’t shut me the hell up. I did 3 interviews last week. I didn’t have time to post them individually, so they are all going up now in this massive, amazing, content-rich, educational, comprehensive, post. Actually, its just a couple of dudes sitting around, hanging out, and talking about nutrition. But what could be better (now that I think of it = a couple of hot babes and me sitting around, hanging out, and NOT talking about nutrition)?
I. BRANDMEIER SHOW ON WGN RADIO IN CHICAGO
My segment was in the first hour (5 am California time dammit), from 37-54 minutes.
It was cool to get to do a radio interview, but the coolest thing was that my dad seemed really excited about it. He grew up in Chicago, and was telling me it was a big deal to get a spot on WGN. So pops, I know I’m this slightly weird dude with a slightly unconventional career, but I hope I’m making you proud.
Johnny B is a cool dude. We talked fitness myths, evolution nutrition theory, and why if you eat a pterodactyl for dinner, you won’t lose muscle if you skip breakfast the next day.
II. SEAN HYSON’S FITNESS DISTILLED
Professionally, Sean is the Group Training Director for Muscle & Fitness and Men’s Fitness magazines. Personally, he’s become a friend that shares my seemingly endless enthusiasm for Seinfeld quotes.
In this interview we talk about simple strategies for tracking calories/macros and why that’s important for higher-level physique goals (don’t worry, you won’t be carrying around a portable scale, protractor, or calculator), adjustments for bulking diets and performance athletes, and how poor food choices and ignoring the health impacts of your diet can lead to a non-functioning wiener.
III. GOLD MEDAL BODIES
My buddy Ryan is a cool dude, interesting character, and passionate as hell about fitness, and fitness education. So we get along real well, except for the fact that I’m jealous he lives in Japan. In this interview we talk about why I didn’t start getting results with clients UNTIL I focused on their nutrition plans, the basic principles of the Intermittent Feast protocol, his experience with the plan, and why my superior genetics are the only reason I am in shape year-round (that’s a joke, and he even posted this embarrassing picture of me as Da Baby Sumo for proof).
The Dojo is Now Open! What do you think? Ah, we all can dream right?
Most of us KNOW exactly what we need to do to reach our goals, but few of us actually DO IT.
Real-world results are not about plans. They are about EXECUTION. I can talk about nutrition principles forever, but until you have a true purpose for taking action, all educational efforts are meaningless.
Here’s the deal my friends. We all need some extra help and motivational guidance from time to time in order to maximize our potential. But most modern self-help “gurus” dress that up with way too much mysticism and cult-like co-dependency. They’ve become too wrapped up in their own bullsh*t, falsely believing the messenger is more important than the actual message.
They’ll tell you it’s all about drinking magic tea and floating through space in a lotus pose (I can do both by the way, but I’m not one to brag). Or you need a 47-Level Coaching Program where at the end, if you’re one of the lucky few disciples, you might get to touch the tip of the leader’s penis (or vagina), which of course, is the true key to curing all that ails you.
Although it sounds like a fun show man, none of that is really necessary, because believe it or not, the answer is a lot more simple.
The most valuable lesson I’ve learned in 2012, and really over the last 15 years as a coach — I’m older than I look and normally act — has nothing to do with the nuts and bolts of training or diet, or mystical practices. The true key, the secret to your success in physique transformation, strength sports, or any other sport, and maybe even in life, is this:
You just gotta know what you are fighting for.
If you want to start getting things done, you don’t need tricks and rituals. You need straightforward principles and simple strategies, and then you need to take some personal accountability for your own life, and get out there and fight.
For this reason, I’ve opened up The Dojo. I’ve compiled some lessons learned primarily from the works of Bruce Lee and Miyamoto Musashi (but have sprinkled in other philosophers and even fictional characters). Their “Ronin-style” advice of self-education, authenticity, personal accountability, daily action vs. paralysis by analysis, being your true self vs. projecting an image, passion and sincerity in all things, making choices that are right for you instead of trying to fit into social conventions, and simply putting one foot in front of the other in the face of adversity, has helped me out tremendously — in fitness, in business, in relationships, and in life in general.
Now, before I get a bunch of hate mail, I’m not saying that I’m right. I’m just saying what I believe, and sharing what has helped me in both my personal life, and in my career as a coach. You can’t ask for anything more than that. If you are able to find success and peace of mind via a completely different route, I’m cool with that. And actually, I’ll be really happy for you. That sh*t is too important to try and make you fit into some meaningless system or creed.
But for those interested in learning a little bit more about this random, Ronin Philosophy, The Dojo doors are now open. I invite you to, as the pirates say, “Take what you can. Give nothing back (or give everything back, or share it with your friends, or do whatever feels right by you). I will update the lessons regularly.
The foundational lesson?
It is spiritless to think that you cannot attain to that which you have seen and heard the masters attain. The masters are men. You are also a man. If you think that you will be inferior in doing something, you will be on that road very soon…No matter what it is, there is nothing that cannot be done. If one manifests the determination, he can move heaven and earth as he pleases. — Hagakure.
“Tell me Michael, how could a billion Chinese people (and that half-Japanese, half-Irish Miyaki-dude) be wrong?” – David, The Lost Boys.
Some nutritional camps really do think white rice is no better than eating a box of maggots. “Maggots, Michael. You’re eating maggots. How do they taste?” (see da movie).
Yet in some cultures (both modern and historical) that exhibit immaculate biomarkers of health, with low obesity and diabetes rates, it has been a dietary staple for centuries. What gives? Seems as if I’ve been discussing both sides of this argument in a variety of different virtual locations. Figured I’d put that all together into one comprehensive post for ya.
Post Summary: This is a very controversial topic with no Universal answer. Rice can be a good food choice for some and not for others — a stance I’ve been trying to explain for years — but many athletes don’t understand nutritional biochemistry and disease states (including “sedentary-itis”), and many scientists don’t understand exercise physiology and Sports Nutrition (jogging is not a sport). As a result, I had to go multimedia on you to blast home my message. This article will includes 3 parts. (1) a clip from an upcoming nutritional video project. (2) An article that was published last week on my friend Adam Bornstein’s blog. (3) An article I wrote for T-Nation a while back discussing my unconventional carb selection strategies. By the end, you should understand:
- Why you should first assess whether or not you even need starch in your diet. Sedentary or insulin resistant, not so much, and the majority of your “carbs” should come from non-starchy vegetables and whole fruit (roughly 100-125g a day). No rice, white or other, necessary.
- Why the depletion of muscle glycogen reserves through intense training places extra carbohydrate demands on the athlete — ANAEROBIC metabolism and muscular contractions run on glucose/glycogen stores. This is a different physiological condition than from those who are inactive, or even from those who only perform low-intensity, aerobic activity.
- Why athletes should get the majority of their essential amino acids and essential fatty acids from animal proteins, and fiber and micros from plant foods. The primary reason to eat starch, then, is simply for the glucose chains that fuel anaerobic activity/exercise.
- Why it is important to obtain those glucose chains with as little toxic compounds or “anti-nutrients” as possible.
- Why that all sounds complicated, but its really not. In terms of practical application, its simple and straightforward — if Paleo/Caveman nutrition is the best baseline template for sedentary populations, WHITE RICE and ROOT VEGETABLES are the best starchy carb choices for anaerobic exercisers to add back in to support their training.
Some of this material overlaps, but its good to hear it more than once to break free from the dogmatic approaches to nutrition that dominate the industry (if you are going to sell to the masses there can only be One Way), and move closer towards the “you gotta fit the plan to the person” Truth. It took me over a decade to learn that. Maybe I can help shorten your learning curve.
PART I — DA VIDEO: CARB CONFUSION & WHITE RICE
PART II — DO CARBS MAKE YOU FAT (Published on Born Fitness)
Who would have thought my tiny little morsel of goodness could cause so much controversy.
I’m talking about my favorite food–rice, rice, baby.
Whether or not rice should be included in a health enhancing, fat slashing, muscle building diet is a highly debated topic in our industry. To some (such as certain followers of the Paleo movement), rice is a demon food that should be avoided like the plague.
Yet in some cultures that exhibit immaculate biomarkers of health and low obesity rates, it has been a dietary staple for centuries. What gives?
I ate 5 cups of rice last night for dinner. I’m also close to 5% body fat, so I can tell you what side of the fence I’m on. I think sugar, high fructose corn syrup, trans fats, and high omega-6 vegetable oils do more to cause insulin resistance, diabetes, and obesity than my pal white rice…
PART III – THE GOOD, THE BAD, AND THE A$$-FATTENING: THE NEW STARCHY CARB FOOD PYRAMID (Published on T-Nation)
If you’ve been in the game long enough, you’ve probably read or heard something like, “carbs are not essential nutrients” or “there is no such thing as an essential carbohydrate.” Those are both 100% accurate statements.
The anthropological study often cited involves Eskimo tribes. Historically they’ve survived on protein and fat diets (whale, walrus, seal, etc.) with carbohydrates virtually nonexistent. There’s water, essential amino acids, essential fatty acids, and that’s basically it. The body can find a way to function and fuel itself on those compounds alone.
Which leads to the question – why eat starchy carbs at all? Many low-carb proponents would suggest you shouldn’t, and while that may be fine for sedentary folks, it’s not the most effective or efficient approach for athletes.
I don’t see many Eskimos trying to hoist inhuman amounts of weight, get their arms so big they can’t wipe their you know what, go five rounds in the octagon, or get so shredded that they can watch their pancreas release insulin. That’s where sports nutrition comes in. Functioning and surviving is different from excelling and thriving.
In a sports nutrition context, carbohydrates are thus considered conditionally essential, with activity level, body type, training/performance demands, and physique goals dictating intake…
Now don’t just skim over this post and start indiscriminately shoveling bowls of rice down your, well, rice hole (like I do). That may not be the right approach for you. In fact, if you’ve appropriately grasped the concept of this article, you’ll understand that a large percentage of our population should skip the rice in favor of an extra serving of vegetables.
But if you engage in consistent, high-intensity, anaerobic activity, don’t avoid starch like its a box of maggots. Its only rice man, that beautiful low toxic, low anti-nutrient, gluten-free, anaerobic fuel.
Summary: I’m going to show you how simple it is to adjust the details of the Intermittent Feast diet to match your current physique goals. For better or worse, New Year’s is a time of transition, and regardless of what new (or old) goals you’ve decided to pursue, this diet can be modified to help you accomplish them. The overall structure of the diet stays the same (hunt & feast), but the numbers change.
First off, I want to start off by saying I know you don’t really give a sh*t about me or my pursuits, you just want to know how my experience as an athlete and coach can help you reach your goals. I get it.
But I’m going to use myself as an example in this one, because I think recent changes I had to make in my own plans are a good example of how flexible this dietary approach can be. I truly believe it is a year-round lifestyle plan that can be used regardless of the goal — gaining muscle, slashing fat, or maintenance/recompositioning.
And of course, it can help you seamlessly transition amongst those goals at a moment’s notice.
I also think it will help answer a lot of common questions I’ve been getting through various channels. And on a side note, I’m NOT ignoring any of you, its just been hard to keep up with Da Inbox while having an offline life.
How do you specifically adjust Da Feast for this or that? Well I was in maintenance mode, mapped out and was about to go into bulking mode, and for an upcoming opportunity, had to completely switch gears and go into full on shredding mode.
WHERE I WAS AT
So for the past few months I’ve been in maintenance mode. Basically, I wasn’t training or dieting for anything specific, just maintaining good condition. I don’t yo-yo up or down drastically because I want to look decent all year round for my personal (mirror) reflection time, not just for photo shoots.
At 165lbs, the diet basically looked like this. Since I engage in consistent, anaerobic activity, it is a carb-based diet (if you are sedentary, you should follow a lower-carb version of a Paleo Diet):
15 calories/lb: 2500 calories
1.5-2.0g pro/kg or slightly less than 1g/lb: 150g
15-25% calories from dietary fats, mostly by-product of a mix of lean and not-so-lean animal proteins: I was around 45g
Remaining calories from carbs: roughly 375g
How was I achieving this? Although sources varied, basically the summary is:
20 oz of animal protein
unlimited non-starchy vegetables
1-2 pieces of fruit around da workouts
all starch at dinner from rice or potatoes (which means on most nights I was eating around 300g of carbs or roughly 6 cups of rice).
Low-carbers, I do have a defibrillator near by.
WHERE I WAS GOING TO GO
My initial plan was to shift into a muscle gaining/bulking mode for the first part of the year. I hoped to compete in some natural bodybuilding contests at the end of the year, and planned to gain some size and move up a weight class. The adjustments were to be simple:
Calories go up through carbs
Protein is already at optimal levels = stays the same. Fat comes primarily as by-product of protein = stays the same. Carbs are increased to get into that surplus necessary for gaining muscle. New totals:
18 calories/lb = 3000 cals
Remaining calories from carbs = 500g
Food choices stay the same, just the starch portions go up, so that’s like 9 cups of rice at dinner. One question I get is, “what if I just can’t eat the recommended food amounts in one meal at dinner?” Well first, doesn’t that just sound like a funner challenge than, “how do I stop myself from gnawing off my significant others’ arm as a result of dietary-induced starvation?”
But yeah, when food amounts start to get this high, I basically suggest breaking up that feast into 2 dinners: one early (4-5pm), one later (7-8pm). So more along the lines of a traditional fitness spread, but not so extreme that you are back to an impractical plan of 18 meals a day every hour.
Basically, a protein and veggies lunch, and then two starch-loaded meals toward the end of the day. 1-2 pieces of whole fruit around the workout.
*Note: I personally increase carbs in bulking phases until I reach about 5-7g/kg of bodyweight, which is right about what Sports Nutrition research recommends for strength training athletes. After this, liver and muscle glycogen stores are probably nearing saturation. At this point, that’s when I would start including “added” fats as a means to increase calories.
And if you have some degree of insulin resistance and shouldn’t be eating high amounts of carbs, then personally I don’t think you should be bulking either. You should be losing weight, improving insulin sensitivity, and taking care of your overall health first. Then you can worry about bulking. That may not be considered “hardcore” bodybuilding, but I save my “hardcoreness” for the bedroom, not with regards to my overall health.
WHERE I’M GOING
Over the Holidays, a potential big new opportunity was pitched to me. Legally, I’ve been told I can’t talk about the details, but basically it is a video-based fitness project with a major international distribution partner (vague enough legal team?). Not only has my training had to change a little bit (from pure bodybuilding back to a hybrid plan that incorporates more of my martial arts background), but my diet as well.
Basically, they want the ripped Miyaki. I’m shooting for John Rambo 3-style shredded.
So the next day, I shifted the diet towards fat-slashing mode. And again the transition was simple — calories go down through carbs
Again, protein is already at optimal levels = stays the same, fat is primarily by-product of protein so it stays the same, carbs are decreased to get into the deficit necessary for fat loss (although note, they are not cut out completely. If you are in a calorie deficit, you can keep some carbs in the diet to support anaerobic training, lean muscle mass, and natural hormone production). New totals:
12 calories/lb = 2000 cals
Remaining calories from carbs = 250g
Food choices stay the same, just the portions are adjusted. And I’ll tell you a few days after eating 9 cups of rice at dinner, 4 cups of rice seems like a disturbingly unsatisfying snack. But its much better than the old diet days of trying to pretend a piece of protein and a few lettuce leaves was a real dinner.
THE TRANSITION SUMMARY
1. Diet structure stays the same regardless of goal (but maybe splitting up the feast into two dinners during high calorie bulking phases).
2. Protein and dietary fat (as by-product of protein) stays the same = optimum levels to support lean muscle and natural hormone production.
3. Calories go up or down based on physique goals, primarily via carbohydrate changes.
In studying philosophy, I’ve come to the realization that the messenger is irrelevant, its the message that matters. The same thing is true in fitness. So don’t just copy my plan because this might not be exactly what you need to do with the exact numbers, given your unique situation and goals. But I think it does give you a good idea of how to transition between different dietary phases.
You can start by plugging in your numbers based on your bodyweight and goals to get a good ballpark starting point. But from there, you’ll need to take some personal accountability and then test, assess, and refine in the real world to find what works best for you.