Nutritional based articles straight from cutandjacked.com's specialist writers
* 1/2 cup ground flax seed
* 1/4 tsp baking powder
* 1/3 cup dry oats
* 1/3 cup vanilla protein powder
* 1/2 tsp cinnamon
* 1/4 cup mixed nut meal (pistachio, almond, pecan, cashew ground up in a blender)
Mix dry ingredients together.
* 2 whole omega 3 eggs
* 4 oz egg whites
* 3 tbsp cottage cheese
* 2 tbsp olive oil
* 1/3 cup frozen mixed berries
Mix wet ingredients through.
Pour mixture into a personal sized pan and cook (covered) on medium for 4 minutes then flip, cook for another 4 and serve.
Water is the fluid of life. About 70% of the earth is covered in it. Water is needed for every metabolic process in the human body. While training for life and morphing into your ideal version of “YOU” keep everything lubricated with H2O. Here are 5 things to keep in mind as you drink.
Do not count coffee and soda when tallying up your daily water intake. In fact, they function as diuretics and strip the body of this much needed nutrient. When this occurs the body then fights to retain water levels causing bloating (see point#4). Conventional wisdom tells you 6-8 glasses of water is enough per day. If you're training for an unconventional physique, you need more. Aim for at least half your bodyweight in ounces a day. Adjust this amount dependant on your level of conditioning and intensity of training.
Water flushes out toxins and other metabolic waste products from the body. Water is especially important when following a "high protein" diet, as it helps remove excess nitrogen, urea (a toxic substance), and ketones (by products of protein synthesis). If weight training to increase definition (tone) you will need even more water to help your kidneys do their work.
Without enough water your kidneys will not function properly. When this happens, some of the filtering workload is transferred to the liver. The livers main function is to metabolize stored fat for energy. If the liver is doing both jobs, it will process less fat. Studies have shown that consuming 2 liters throughout the day leads to increased calorie burn on a daily basis. Water also mitigates feelings of hunger.
Contrary to popular belief, drinking water can actually help you shed excess water weight. When water is in short supply the body stores it in extra-cellular space. This storage can lead to bloating. If water retention is a chronic problem, it may be because there is too much salt in your diet. Read your food labels and try to consume less than 2400mg per day. The higher your sodium intake the harder the body will work to retain its’ precious resource (water).
Too little water, and your body pulls it from various organs including the colon. When this occurs it can lead to constipation and impeded digestion.
Keep water in mind as you work, live and play. Take small steps every day to reach the “Best” version of you!
Written By: Andre Farnell
Getting ripped six pack abs is the result of proper nutrition, effective training and living a lifestyle that places your fitness as a priority. I will focus on ab training for the purpose of this article.
Your abdominals or abs are stabilizing muscle that stretch over your midsection. Their main purpose is to work with your lower back to stabilize your upper body. Without you abs you would not be able to prevent yourself from falling backwards, or get up for that matter.
The Rectus Abdominis (extends from the top of the pelvis to the sternum and is composed of upper and lower abdominals)
To get ripped six pack abs focus on what will give you the most bang for your buck. Focus on your Rectus Abdominis with some oblique training. The Intercostal Muscles and Serratus Anterior will be worked during regular weight lifting sessions.
I am a very simple, straight to the point kind of guy. I hate it when someone bores me with details that I’m really not interested in and this mentality transfers to my training style. Do not over complicate your ab training. They are a muscle just like other muscle and do not need special treatment to pop out. You just have to diet consistently enough to see the fruits of your labor.
You do NOT have to train abs every day.
You do NOT have to do 100 of sit ups.
You do NOT have to train abs for hours at a time.
I train abs 2-3 times a week. I may take a day off just to train abs and do some cardio or I may train them after legs. I generally try to hit my upper and lower abs, as well as the oblique’s with each ab workout. I will try to stimulate the muscle by focusing on fully contracting the muscle with every rep. I also add resistance and slow down the movement to increase abdominal stimulation. I do not swing or rapidly pump out reps.
A great exercise that targets the lower abs is the leg raises. You can do them using back support or hanging. If you keep you legs straight you will get more resistance with this exercise. To start let your legs hang down and then raise your legs up until your abs are fully contracted. Slowly lower your legs back down and repeat until you have done 4 sets of 20. If twenty reps feels too easy, slow down the movement and hold each rep when your abs a fully contracted for a second before letting your legs back down.
Another great exercise for upper abdominals is the crunch. You can do them on a ball or on the floor. You can have your feet on the floor or have them in the air. Arch your back when you start so your abs are fully relaxed and stretched. Then crunch your abs as tight at you can without using your hips to lift your upper body off the ground. When you lift your upper body off the ground you take the focus off the abs and place them on your hip flexors. Focus on your abs. Again do 4 sets of 20 and slow down the movements if this seems too easy.
For the oblique’s I love to do oblique crunches or side crunches. Lay on your side with your knees bent and your feet slightly elevated off the ground. You can twist you upper body so that you’re facing the ceiling or you may remain facing the wall. Contract the oblique’s which will raise your upper body. Again, remember to slow down the movement to put more emphasis on the oblique’s. Repeat for the other side until you have complete 4 sets of 20 on each side.
These three exercises will help build the foundation for your six pack abs but you can alter the workouts at times. I will often substitute one or more of the following exercises into my ab routine.
Try replacing the leg raises for V – Ups. The V-up is preformed my balancing your body on your butt while you crunch. Sit on the floor with your legs out and try to make your knees touch your chest. This should fully contract your abs. Then relax while keeping your legs and upper body elevated and contract again. Repeat for 4 sets of 20 and slow down the movement when necessary.
You may also do cable crunches instead of regular crunches. Simply kneel in front of a cable machine with the set above you, grab the handle or rope and pull your elbows into your knees. This should contract your abdominal muscles. Feel free to add weight and slow down the movement to increase the emphasis on your abs.
Instead of doing oblique or side crunches, try doing alternate heel touches. Lie on the floor with your knees bent and feet planted about shoulder width apart. Alternate between touching your right heel with your right hand and your left heel with you left hand by bending sideways. Repeat until you have done 4 sets of 20. Do 20 reps on each side to complete a set.
Working out your abs will not get you six pack abs if you do not eat properly.
The factors that will determine how ripped your six pack will be:
Remember to eat clean, lift weights regularly, incorporate up to two 45 minute high intensity interval training cardio sessions 3-5 days a week, take quality supplements, and live a lifestyle that promotes health and fitness (limit alcohol consumptions and get adequate rest). Follow the training tips I outlined and you will be well on your way to be sporting a mean set of abs.
Getting six pack abs does not happen overnight. When most people ask how long it takes to get six pack abs, I tell them most bodybuilders give themselves 6 months to get in peak conditioning. Be patient, stay motivated and get them!
Written by Erick Ruiz Salgaldo
The latest division added a few years ago to NPC/IFBB has taken like wildfire. Ladies love the fact that they can come in looking fit and toned without the need for bulk. A good healthy lifestyle and attention to diet will help you get this look which can be easily attainable naturally and held most of the year realistically!
This division opens the door to a more mainstream physique with a lesser budget. The bikinis are much more ‘beach style’ and less extravagant and because there is no need for a routine all you need to master is a nice smooth walk in some sexy high heels. This division is very budget friendly and perfect for the ladies who do not want to get at muscular as fitness or figure women. With this type of body you can fit the training and proper meal regimen into your day because it is what most healthy lifestyles should look like in general.
Posing is not standard so you get some flexibility in the poses you choose for front and back stance. Smooth transitions are crucial when walking, standing, posing and shifting into the next pose.
The key is fluid movement which comes with practice in front of the mirror in the heels and bikini. The one thing you want to work on is a signature stand facing the judges and then a back view stance which is slightly different. Learn to step and turn smoothly to eliminate extra stepping, practice the step turn.
You will want to work toward a long lean muscle type so the type of workouts you do will depend on what cycle of training you are in relative to contest day and your fitness level at that time. I have found that in general crossfit type circuit work is excellent to help with fat loss, tone and conditioning toward the longer lean muscle bellies. Keep flexible so that length shows and train through full range of motion.
I like to use combo exercises so that you get in multiple muscle groups and tweak out the fat burning because you use compound muscle combinations. Do not fear muscle gains, it is very difficult to build so you will not get huge!
These exercises (video examples below) help peak your frame so that your shoulders and legs accent a smaller waist.
Work for higher reps or timed reps, muscular endurance is typical of the bikini body.
I would look for a show that is 6-12 months away depending on your conditioning at the moment, then plan toward that show giving you time to look into it more, attend one maybe. You can get familiar with the division, the photos of contests showing the body types placing top 10. This also gives you time to fully budget things out, food, tan, entry, suits, you name it.
For bikini the beauty aspect is looked at so you want to have fabulous hair which you can do yourself back stage or come ready done, shows can start very early so unless you have a hair person who can come very early, be ready to be self sufficient. Nails, tan and details need attention.
Balance your meals keep carbs clean, proteins lean. Do not fear protein drinks they can add to your nutrients without making you feel too full. Greek no fat yogurt is also a great alternative for those who do not like protein drinks. Check out my tuna stuffed avocado for a great meal idea.
Water is a key factor for your lean appearance and amazing skin, 2 liters per day at minimum up to 2 gallons. Do not cut out fats; eat the right ones, nuts, avocado, fish, olives and olive oil as well as flax, hemp and blends of these.
For bikinis I like to refer my clients to posingwear.com, Amy can make up great bikini division suits for an affordable cost. If you like an edgy suit you can also check out some of the sinful brand suits from affliction which are stunning.
Written By Linda Cusmano
Everyone wants to lose fat, but most people mistakenly indicate “weight loss” as their goal. As I will explain, this is not necessarily the same thing. Reducing body fat and improving one’s body composition is a common goal for both serious athletes and the general fitness enthusiasts. With such a strong interest in “battling the bulge”, fat loss has become a huge industry, with new fad diets, weight loss plans, abdominal toning products, and fat burning supplements popping up on the market every day!
Unfortunately, despite all of the attention directed at this subject, obesity is still on the rise. The purpose of this article is to outline some basic and effective principles for attaining permanent “fat loss” and a transformation of your physical appearance.
We are inundated with so many different diet and exercise programs and there are so many weight loss myths floating around that it becomes difficult to know what to believe. Let me assure you that proper nutrition and exercise (along with certain lifestyle changes) are STILL the solution to losing fat permanently and getting that lean, cut-looking physique. The following 3 Fat Loss Tips will help you achieve your “Fat Loss” goals.
Cutting too many calories, pushes the body to conserve calories rather than burn them. It also forces your body to break down muscle tissue to fuel its vital operations. But muscle tissue is the key to your metabolism (the speed at which you burn calories).
When you go on an extremely low calorie diet, your body goes into starvation mode. This leads to several negatives consequences, including fewer fat-burning enzymes in your body, lower levels of fat burning hormones, muscle wasting, greater appetite, and low energy. The bottom line is that it’s physiologically impossible to achieve permanent fat loss on a “starvation” type diet.
In the short term very low calorie programs may get you some results, but in the long run they can actually make you fatter. You will almost certainly regain additional body fat once your diet ends! Don’t trust a diet plan that recommends the same calories for everyone. If you are more active you will need more energy.
This ties in nicely with the first principle. The key to long term fat loss is to focus on burning the fat, not starving the fat. To metabolize more body fat while only cutting calories slightly below maintenance, you will need to burn more calories by increasing your activity level. I know it sounds obvious, but you would be surprised by how many people look for ways around this, and search for quick fixes in order to avoid putting the extra effort into getting results!
Your physical activity plan for fat loss should focus primarily on resistance training with weights. Whereas you will burn fat as a fuel source during cardiovascular, resistance training will not only metabolize body fat during your workout, but it will stimulate your body to continue eating up your fat stores after exercise as well. This is sometimes referred to as the double-reducing effect, or “after-burn”. This effect is caused by raising your basal metabolic rate: essentially, weight training boosts your metabolism!
Not only will strength training get you “Jacked”, but the more lean tissue you have on your body, and the more active your muscle tissue becomes, the higher your metabolism is. This is why I say it’s a mistake to focus on losing weight, rather than reducing body fat. Muscle weighs much more than fat, but because it is also much denser it takes up less space on your body. So think about “reshaping” your body, rather than shrinking it. This will leave you cut AND jacked, rather than just skinny and soft.
Circuit training involves a single set of each exercise one after another, with minimal rest between sets. An effective way to increase your metabolism in a circuit training workout is to perform a series of exercises alternating between lower body, upper body, and core movements. This can be accomplished using minimal equipment, or by performing bodyweight exercises such as squats, lunges, pushups, dips, and abdominal exercise variations.
Interval training involves alternating periods of low intensity cardiovascular activity with higher intensity sprint intervals. This not only burns more calories in a shorter amount of time, but it will help to stimulate and preserve your hard-earned lean muscle tissue. An example of an interval training workout could be alternating periods of jogging for 4 minutes and running hard for 1 minute, repeating these intervals for a 20 minute workout.
Exercise alone won't make you leaner. You can still gain fat due to poor eating habits. Here are some important nutritional habits you can adopt to help you lose body fat while maintaining your lean muscle tissue:
This may sound contrary to your objective, but by eating more frequently your metabolism is increased and your portion sizes will be smaller. Controlling portion size is absolutely essential to reducing your body fat. View it as throwing wood chips on the fire (your metabolism) all day long to keep the flames high, rather than smothering it with a log once a day. Try to eat 5 to 6 smaller healthy meals or snacks throughout the day. Eating every 3 hours will help regulate your blood sugar levels and keep your metabolism roaring.
Fat is a misunderstood nutrient. Many people still believe that all fats are “bad”, and think that eating fat makes you fat. However, not all fats are created equal and consuming the right type of fat is not only essential for good health, but it will aid in the metabolism of even more body fat. The good fats are called essential fatty acids (EFA’s) and include the Omega 3, 6, and 9 oils. Foods containing these healthy fats include fish, nuts, seeds, avocado, and olive oil, among others. Flaxseed oil and fish oil are common sources and are popular in supplement form as well.
Water is the most important nutrient, especially when you’re trying to lose weight. You need it to flush the waste products your body makes when it breaks down fat for energy, or when it processes protein. To stay well hydrated, let water and green tea be your main beverages. Fruit juices, sodas and other beverages contain calories and often have added sugar. Therefore, avoid juice, pop, and sports drinks and focus on drinking plain water and green tea instead. A good guideline for water intake is to drink one liter for every fifty pounds of your bodyweight per day.
Sugar is the enemy if your goal is to lose fat! Sugar contains empty calories (minimal nutrient value), which provide a quick release of energy without actually feeding your body, and then a rapid energy slump soon afterwards. Sugar also interferes with fat loss, because your body will prefer to metabolize the sugar before getting into using fat stores. By including foods high in protein, fiber, and healthy fats you can control this rapid fluctuation in blood sugar. Foods rich in fiber help control blood glucose and insulin levels. Reduce consumption of most processed, low-fiber breads, cereals, breakfast bars, potatoes, and pasta.
Following these basic suggestions will help you lose body fat, increase your metabolism, and improve your health! ....Stay CutAndJacked!!
Written by CutAndJacked Specialist contributing author Josh Hewett
Edited by CutAndJacked.com Owner "Rolsey"
In my years of training, I've learned that there are factors that are absolutely critical when it comes to fat loss. And I've also learned there are many factors that would SEEM to be critical but actually AREN'T!
The critical factors for fat loss are actually pretty simple - you probably know them already. It's the things that WON'T break your fat loss routine that can throw people off!
In this article, I’m going to give a quick rundown on BOTH.
Many of these things I talked about are pretty straightforward, especially what’ll make or break your fat loss. I hope it opened up your eyes about what WON’T make or break you, though! As long as you’re doing the big things right, the small things like training on an empty stomach first thing in the morning won’t be a big deal.
Written by Nick Nilsson
The truth is you don’t need surgery to get the body of your dreams. You are the only one responsible for your success. If you want abs, 80% of your results will rely on your diet. YOU are the only person who controls what you put in your body. If your friends or family are not supporting you in your efforts to get lean, let them know you are serious about reaching this goal and that your eating habits are going to change. Sure you may get a few odd looks and some people may feel uncomfortable around you because you are making them feel guilty about what they eat, but just stay focused. The results will be amazing!
I am not going to lie to you and tell you that eating for six pack abs is easy. Getting proper nutrition is an ongoing effort. If you break your diet, DO NOT GIVE UP! If you give into temptation, admit you made a mistake, and try even harder to eat clean. Depending on your current eating habits you may find this step easier than others. Even if you have the worst eating habits, you can still get six pack abs, but it will require time to develop clean eating habits. You are capable of achieving great abs. Here is what you need to know to eat for better abdominals.
Is a calorie just a calorie, or does the quality of that calorie matter? Many people cautiously check the nutrition statements on their food, but do they know the difference between quality ingredients? You can count calories all you want, but if you are eating poor quality calories, your results will be limited at best.
Imagine you have a clone, and that clone eats the same amount of calories but from chocolate bars. Now imagine you get all your calories from whole food. Who will look (and feel) better? You would look and feel better than your clone of course! This is an extreme example, but it doesn’t have to be that extreme.
Let’s say you and your clone are both trying to “Get In Shape.” Your clone eats heavily processed, so called “Healthy Foods and Meals,” while you cook and eat fresh veggies and meats. Again, who is going to look and feel better? That’s right, you win again.
Many of these 'get fit quick' meal programs solely focus on restricting the quantity of calories in your diet, and completely ignore the quality of those calories. As a matter of fact, most of those 'get fit quick' meal programs use extremely low quality foods and ingredients in them. Why? Because, high quality food is not cheap and if they used high quality food they would not be able to make a profit. Remember, you get what you pay for. To get abs, feed your body with only high quality foods. That means eat whole
foods, not highly processed foods.
In general, processed foods digest quickly causing sharp changes in your body chemistry and can easily lead to fat storage. This happens for a few reasons:
“Fast foods and processed products are packed with trans fats, empty carbohydrates and calories,” stated Dr. Saman Bakhtiar in his article The Only Diet That Works.
Now, I want you to change the way you think about food. Most people see food as a pleasure. “They enjoy food.” Really? It takes you a few minutes to eat a tasty meal but are you willing to sabotage your body because you enjoyed that food? Well, I enjoy food also. I enjoy how I can control my body because of the food I choose to eat.
Think of your food a tool. Much like a good set of tools can make a home improvement project easier, quality whole foods make getting in shape easier as well. Whole foods are great tools that can help you get six pack abs. Most processed foods are convenient but will do little to help you reach your ultimate potential.
“But, I don’t have time to cook.”
Try cooking your food in bulk on the weekends. Stay away from the microwavable meals! Instead cook your meals and refrigerate or freeze them, so you can enjoy them throughout the week. This will ensure that you are actually getting meat, veggies and fruit in your meal and not some chemically enhanced
, salty, food substitute.
“Eating whole foods sound like a lot of work.”
Your diet is crucial to your success and, it will take some work. Sure it would be easier to buy a bunch of premade meals and just pop them in the microwave, but if it was that easy, don’t you think more people would have six pack abs? Getting in great shape is a lifestyle adjustment and it does take some hard work but it is well worth it. Your body will react best to foods that are less processed. So, do yourself a favor, go to Costco and load up on wholesome foods. On the weekend cook your meal for the rest of the week and feel confident about feeding your body quality calories.
You may be shocked to hear that many people gain weight due to under eating. That’s right! The body is great at surviving, and if we under eat or starve ourselves, the body reacts by slowing down our metabolic rate. This means your body will try to store as much fat as possible on your body when you put it in starvation mode.
I have seen the unfortunate consequences of under eating with many clients who come to me thinking they have to starve themselves. After reviewing their diet I come to find out that they are already starving their bodies and begin to have them eat more frequently. As they begin to eat more frequently and workout, their appetite increases as well but I have them eat frequent meals with no limitation on calories, they just have to eat whole foods. Every client is amazed at how well my simple diet programs work for them and tell me they never thought they would lose fat by eating more.
Losing fat while eating more, sounds
too good to be true, doesn’t it? But it is not and there is a logical explanation.
Let me elaborate on why our body reacts this way. Way back when humans hunted and gathered food, we would experience periods with little to no food. Animals would be scarce or a drought would kill off vegetation. In times like these, our bodies would have to adapt to survive. The body would eat away at our muscle mass (Muscle requires large amount of energy to maintain) thus slowing down its metabolism, and store as much fat as possible. This adaptation is great for survival but horrible for getting six pack abs.
To prevent your body from going into a starvation state, I recommend eating six small meals throughout the day. This will ensure that your body has the proper nutrients it needs, thus prevent the body from attempting to store fat. If the body knows that food is not far away, it will not store large amount of fat around your mid section.
Now, this does not mean you can over eat or eat whatever you want. You will still need to eat a diet that is clean and has the proper macro nutrition ratios to get six pack abs, but eating every 2-3 hour will help. If you eat lean protein and complex carbohydrates in your diet you will be well on your way to getting six pack abs.
Eating frequently will prevent you from becoming hungry and craving fatty and/or sugary foods. We crave sugary or fatty food most when our blood sugars are low and our body is desperate for energy. Frequent meals will help stabilize blood sugars and prevent many of these strong cravings.
Frequent meals also help preserve muscles, thus increasing your metabolism. I mentioned this earlier but I want to stress how important this is. When the body needs protein and it is not readily available, your body will take protein from your muscles. This is a survival reaction in which the body eats itself in order to survive. Because muscle burns calories, this process also slows down your metabolism. Frequent meals help prevent this by ensuring your body always has some readily available protein.
Let review why eating frequent meals is so important:
It has been said that water is the essence of life. And it is true. If water did not exist on earth; life would not have been able to flourish. We are truly fortunate to have an abundance of this amazing elixir on our planet and yet people still do not utilize it properly.
Water is vital to every bodily process! While we may be able to survive for weeks without food, we would only survive a few days without water. Water is so important to our bodies that our bodies are composed of ~70% water. If water was not key to our survival 70% of our body would be composed of something other than water.
As a matter of fact, the aging process is due mostly to our body’s inability to effectively utilize water. We literally shrivel up as we age as out body’s water composition drops.
Water can do much more than just keep you healthy. It can keep your metabolism kicking and help you curb your cravings. Let’s start with the fat burning effects of water.
Without going into technical detail, all you need to know if that water is essential for bodily functions. Building lean muscle tone and burning fat is no exception. Water is needed for exercise because it helps rush oxygen and nutrition to your muscle by keeping your blood fluid. Drink too little water and your blood will become thick make it very difficult for your body to pump blood into your muscles. The same is true for fat metabolism. Water is needed to metabolize fat, but if you do not drink enough water, you can expect to have a hard time getting those abs to show.
Drinking water also helps you feel full. Water has zero calories and when ingested can help you feel fuller longer. This is the reason why vegetables are great fat loss foods. They tend to be high in fiber and water, both of which have zero calories!
I like to drink about a gallon of water a day throughout the day. I drink a majority of my water in the morning to help me hydrate for the rest of the day but I never drink large quantities of water at once. Drinking too much water at once can thin your blood and lead to medical complications. Spread out your water consumption throughout the day and remember, water will not only help you get six pack abs it will help you stay younger, healthier and feel better also.
I hope you found this information useful. If you are serious about getting six pack abs. These three nutrition tips are crucial. Eat frequent meals composed of whole foods accompanied with plenty of water. That’s all you have to do. It seems so simples and yet a majority of people in the world neglect their health by ignoring these tips. Follow them and you will soon look in the mirror to find your ripped pair of six pack abs looking back at you!
Written By Erick Ruiz Salgaldo
“Hey bro, what supplements you take?” If this is the first question someone asks me or one of my teammates, I’ll usually just let out a sigh and proceed to give a brief plug about the primary importance of quality nutrition. When I fail to disclose any “secrets” about some magic powder or pill, I can see their interest quickly fade. Disappointed, they might walk away before I can even finish answering their initial question! No one wants to hear that persistence in the gym is best complimented by quality calories, rather than some quick fix potion. This is the truth, but it isn’t the whole truth.
They should have stuck around, because I would tell them that dietary supplements are in fact a critical component in building muscle, losing fat, improving focus, performance, and eventually producing a physique worthy of competition. It’s no secret that whether you’re a bodybuilder, professionally football player, or “weekend” warrior… we’re all looking for that edge in our respective area of competition.
Since the 1970’s, bodybuilders and fitness enthusiast have always carried a lot of muscle. These guys would head over to Gold’s Gym in Venice, California or some other dungeon-like gym filled with barbells and heavy dumbbells. They would train with maximum intensity day in and day out while performing set after set of heavy squats, deadlifts, and bench presses. Today, most successful lifters would also recognize that these movements are superior. Invariably, they would place them as primary exercises in their routines since they obviously worked better than anything else.
Old school lifters also understood that nutrition was the prime catalyst for muscle growth and fat loss. They placed protein at the forefront of their diet plans, and ate adequate carbohydrates and fats to fill in the remaining calories they needed for building muscle. Just like today, bodybuilders and athletes are manipulating their diet regimens to lose fat at an optimal rate while simultaneously trying to minimize muscle wasting. All in all, it seems that not much has changed if we look at basic philosophies regarding training and nutrition. However it is quite obvious that modern athletes and bodybuilders of all ages and competition levels are progressing at a rate much faster than any other time in human history. Where are the discrepancies?
One of the major differences lies in the modern development of various dietary supplements. Back in the old days, there were few products on the market that were used as additions to an athlete’s diet. Natural bodybuilders would have to rely solely on incredibly precise nutrition and training designs to try and minimize the amount of muscle they would sacrifice while desperately working to get in contest condition. The same holds true today, but there’s no doubt that the standards have been raised on the stage, court, and field. Whether you want to cut body fat for health reasons, cosmetic purposes, increased performance, or all of the above… you have to :
There have been many companies that invent new products and instantly attach inflated claims and promises to them. There is usually minimal research to back up these statements, and it seems as though their agenda is only about making that sale… not helping you get into shape. We know now that supplements are just that… supplements to your diet and training program. However all that work to put on muscle in the gym and kitchen should not be drained the minute you decide to strip off the body fat. Make sure you make the smart move, and take advantage of some of the following products to help you keep the muscle you earned. Each one of these compounds has substantial and convincing scientific research behind it. Don’t waste your money on any kind of hype; go for what’s been proven to work for many serious athletes all around the world!
BCAA’s - Branched Chain amino acids are three essential amino acids (leucine, isoleucine and valine) which means they must be obtained through quality protein in the diet. These amino acids are instantly metabolized in the muscle and should be used as a dietary supplement before, during, and after training in order to maximize recovery while creating an anabolic environment in the muscle tissue.
It would be extremely difficult to initiate protein synthesis with whole food sources during training, which can be an effective strategy when trying to strip body fat. BCAA’s are extremely conducive to helping bodybuilders and athletes cut body fat while maintaining their muscle mass.
Additionally, the insulinogenic effects of Branched chain amino acids aren’t significant enough to halt fat-burning, yet they do provide the necessary materials for the muscle to use when glucose is low. Therefore, when your goal is to get as lean as possible while keeping training intensity at peak levels, branched chain amino acids will serve to be the perfect addition to your diet and training efforts.
I noticed a considerable change in my energy levels and muscle fullness in the gym. They also seem to function as a potent appetite suppressant for myself, which is perfect when I’m trying to cut down. My favorite pick is Xtend from Scivation. The refreshing flavors will help curb your cravings, and allow you to ultimately dip into more fat burning potential.
Whey protein - When trying to cut fat and improve body composition, a high quality protein supplement can become a key ingredient in your success. Whey protein specifically has a uniquely high amount of the amino acid L-leucine which has been shown to signal the transcription pathway to quickly trigger the initiation of protein synthesis. Protein is the paramount nutrient for any bodybuilder and competitive athlete.
During a cutting phase, it is even more crucial to take in enough protein to support the muscle you already have. Sure we’ve all heard that whey protein is digested rapidly and is best consumed right after training, but it also functions as a high-quality meal replacement when combined with other macronutrients (depending on your individual calorie allowance). Missing a meal can hurt your fat-burning goals more than you could imagine! When your body isn’t in a positive nitrogen balance, you run the risk of sacrificing muscle tissue and slowing down your metabolic rate.
Your body will compensate by becoming more apt to store nutrients as body fat just in case you don’t make it to the next meal! I usually take whey protein two times per day on average. Once in the morning with breakfast (I like to mix it with oatmeal and a banana) and once after training. If you’re serious about shedding body fat and sparing muscle tissue, then make sure you have some whey protein on-hand to guarantee you will have a high quality meal… and always skip the drive-thru! I’ve had great results with Optimum Nutrition, Scivation, and Jay Robb, to name a few.
Creatine monohydrate - Creatine is a substance naturally developed in the kidneys, liver, and pancreas. It is eventually displaced in the muscle tissue and converted into creatine phosphate (ATP is produced) which yields creatine as an energy supplier to the muscle. Although you could get plenty of creatine from beef, you would have to eat pounds of it in order to obtain the desired effects.
However this is NOT conducive to someone who wants to get shredded, so supplemental creatine is a useful alternative. You may notice a full, hard appearance to the muscle tissue upon consumption. Even though most of this will be “water weight” don’t let that phrase fool you. The water will stay intramuscularly, rather than under the skin, on top of the muscle. Creatine can yield incredible benefits when trying to cut body fat because it allows you to maintain strength, even when glucose levels are extremely low. There have been numerous types of creatine to hit the shelves in the recent years. You may have heard of kre-alkalyn creatine, creatine phosphate, creatine citrate, creatine esters, and more.
Each of these claims to help you build lean muscle and increase your strength in the gym. Everyone responds differently to these various forms, but in my experience… the most enduring type has been regular creatine monohydrate. I have personally used the micronized version from Biochem. This creatine comes in an ultra-fine consistency that will have minimal stress on the kidneys and cause the least amount of potential bloating. Don’t be afraid to take creatine monohydrate when dieting, it will not make you like your “holding water” but it will help you maintain your strength and keep you from looking flat and stringy while trying to lose body fat.
Joint Support - When it comes to choosing joint supplements there are numerous options available. Just like with any supplements, you must be wary of the initial claims being made about the specific products since there are so many choices at hand. There are a few types of joint support products that can be a big-time aid in your fat-loss and training regimen. When you are consistent with your nutrition and you start to reap the benefits of BCAA’s, whey protein, and creatine, you will see your body fat start to melt away.
There’s never a more applicable time than this to start taking those joint protectors! Glucosamine is an amino acid that is naturally produced in the body. It is also a precursor to a molecule used in the construction of cartilage. When you use this supplement, the substance will expand the rate of repair of the new cartilage by providing the raw materials for regeneration.
I’ve noticed that NOW glucosamine has provided the relief I need when the body fat drops and the weights stay heavy! Cissus is another reputable type of joint support. Cissus can help support optimal joint health, enhance recovery at the conclusion of intense training, support healthy weight management, and it’s also a powerful anti-oxidant. This added pillar that cissus provides can deliver powerful relief to joints and help you get leaner at the same time! Don’t lower your intensity just to be “safe”. Instead, up your doses of glucosamine and cissus and you should be ready to go. I’ve had outstanding workouts long into fat-burning mode with Scivation cissus, and USP Labs Super Cissus Rx.
Essential Fatty Acids (EFA): Essential fatty acids found in fish oils have been recently called “the miracle supplements of the 21st century.” Studies show that eating fish high in essential fatty acids can potentially help to prevent many different kinds of ailments including heart disease, obesity, joint pain, headaches, depression, and help maintain blood pressure. There is also research that has been implicated Omega 3 in helping people improve memory functioning and increase brain development.
These are all added bonuses to the fact that fish oils can keep your skin, hair, nails, and mood in top form. I’ve noticed that I get leaner… and stay leaner when I am supplementing with EFA’s. There have been improvements shown in blood flow and nutrient transport in the presence of adequate essential fats, which can be especially beneficial when dieting. This allows your metabolic rate to run at optimal efficiency while providing an adequate environment for using stored fat as energy during exercise. The addition of essential fatty acids to any supplement stack is a functional way to amplify your body’s capacity to burn fat! I have found success with brands such as HFS total EFA.
Alpha Lipoic Acid - Alpha lipoic acid is a fatty acid found naturally inside every cell in the human body. Its main function in the system is to create the energy for all the things we do day in and day out. I use Alpha lipoic acid two or three times per day with my high carbohydrate meals since it is also responsible for converting glucose into energy during exercise. When you’re aiming to get as lean as possible, you will want to make sure your body is efficiently converting that limited glucose into fuel for your workouts. As an added benefit, alpha lipoic acid is also an anti-oxidant that can help rid the body of potentially harmful chemicals called free radicals.
In the presence of too many harmful wastes, the fat-burning process can become an even larger burden on the system. Alpha lipoic acid will help neutralize these waste products and help the body systems run more efficiently. Alpha lipoic acid can also do its job in both water and fat, therefore making it a water and fat soluble substance. Other anti-oxidants such as vitamin C and E are only water OR fat soluble, thus making them less resilient in the presence of destructive free radicals.
The addition of alpha lipoic acid as a means to use the food you eat efficiently and lose body fat is a no-brainer. Don’t shortchange yourself, you can start taking it once a day with your post-workout meal and reap the benefits! I have found PrimaForce Pure ALA to be a very reliable and well-made product I can trust.
Thermogenic - As with any type of supplement, be sure to carefully read the entire label before you consume it. I have found that this is especially critical for thermogenics. When your body is in a depleted, fat burning state… it will naturally become ultra sensitive to anything you put in your system. Check the ingredients and make sure there isn’t too much niacin for you to handle as this can produce an uncomfortable flushing sensation that can last a few minutes. Although this isn’t harmful, it may be fairly uncomfortable and alarming at first. One of the supreme ingredients in most thermogenic fat burners is the addition of caffeine. Most people underestimate the potent effects of the drug, which can leave them feeling overly anxious, irritable, and restless if they take too much right away. Just make sure to know your tolerance, and remember that more is not always better!
I have found thermogenic fat burners to be an instrumental addition to my supplement stack for getting lean, but only when I really need them. I would not advise you to start popping capsule after capsule if you still have a ton of weight to lose. In the beginning, spend the majority of your time mastering your nutrition and supplementation with the six types of products listed above. Then, when the time is right and you really want to get in contest condition cut, try out these excellent products like Dialene-4 by Scivation or Hydroxycut Hardcore by MuscleTech, both are reputable companies with a solid product behind them.
Once you start to master your training and learn about the importance of quality nutrition, the next step should be to try out some of these quality products to help you reach your fat loss goals a little bit faster. We live in a time with so much information and sophisticated technology to create a multitude of different types of compounds and formulas, but sometimes it’s best to stick to what has been proven to work. It’s also crucial to pay attention to how your body responds to anything you feed it. Make sure you’re feeling good and healthy along the way as this will increase your chances of remaining consistent and thus, successful with your weight-loss goals!
Written By Connor LaVallie
When it comes to making changes in your physique, you must get clear on what you want, and be honest with yourself from the beginning. Think about the small incremental improvements that could be made on a daily basis, and eventually visualizing those daily efforts stacked up…making your goal a reality. When weather is improving, many people are searching for ways to trim up. When it comes to obtaining what you want, there are a couple main issues that arise. I am talking about the balance between how much emphasis should be placed on work done in the kitchen, and how much focus you should place on the gym. You will find very strong opinions on both ends of the spectrum, and since most trainees want a set of chiseled abs… the argument comes up repeatedly.
One commonality I have witnessed among numerous people seeking the best path to obtaining a “six-pack” is an initial desire to do whatever it takes, but their plan is clouded and invariably I see the same people often discontinuing their pursuit only days later. The challenge they were facing may have seemed too difficult in the moment, and they give up… feeling like an overall failure. When people want to know how they can get ripped abs, one of the first questions they ask is what exercises they should do, or how many crunches does it take?! Well, asking those questions first is a futile approach, and will only lead to unnecessary frustration.
The truth of the matter is that it doesn’t require perfection, but a balanced, manageable approach to consistent efforts on a daily basis toward hard work in the kitchen and gym.
When it comes to the diet, there is no magic formula or potion for getting ripped. The fact of the matter is… it comes down to calories in vs. calories out, how many times have you heard this? Well that’s because it’s true! I would recommend being objective in your approach and keeping track of your diet in order to guarantee you create the proper calorie deficits. A rule of thumb for determining your calorie needs for losing fat is to multiply your bodyweight by 12 - 13 and that number will give you a place to start. You can tweak that number as you notice changes and make further progress. In addition, there are a couple strategies I like to implement when cutting up that initially seem small, but make huge differences.
6. Make it easy - Don’t be afraid to eat out sometimes. Most restaurants have options that will keep you on track such as lean meats, or fish with steamed rice and veggies are a great choice. Also, a cheat every now and then can actually help you in the long run by further stimulating your metabolism and fat-burning hormones. Satisfy your craving, but always keep it within reason. Remember chicken breast can make you fat… if you eat too much of it!
7. While it is true… making sure your diet is in line should be your number one priority to getting lean…and staying lean. It is worth mentioning that having the right personal approach to abdominal training can be very effective. Having a strong core is so crucial to maintaining correct form in the gym, which can lead to fewer injuries in the future when doing other exercises. The abdominals are just like any other muscle group, so working them will produce growth and create a more impressive look when you diet down. I work them two times a week, and once a week I add in supersets for about fifteen minutes of continuous effort.
The abdominals are composed of four main muscles: The Rectus Abdominis, External Oblique, Internal Oblique, and Transversus Abdominis. Each muscle has a role in the stabilization of a strong core, and the appearance of an impressive midsection. I like to implement a routine that hits each one of these muscle groups to an equal degree for a time efficient, intense workout:
This is a fairly advanced routine, and beginners should use caution and start out using one set of each exercise, and slowly add in more work until you can complete the workout in a reasonable time for your current level of fitness. To keep track of your progress, use a stopwatch and see how long it takes you to complete the workout in week one and shoot for a better time the following week.
I would say that it’s easy… but then everyone would be walking around looking like extras from the movie 300 but of course we know that isn’t the case. It is however, a very manageable strategy to start getting ripped and as soon as you see the changes taking place, I guarantee you will make it a part of your lifestyle. If you’re honest with yourself, have a plan for what you want, and follow my suggested strategies in the kitchen and gym you will get what you want and much more!
Written by Connor LaVallie
Many of you are consistent with your muscle building practices. Your training is on point, your supplement program is sound and you eat all of the right foods including good amounts of protein, complex carbs and healthy fats. But what if you could be better? What if you could tweak your diet to make even more significant gains?
Enter meal timing. Meal timing is the practice of taking in specific macronutrients at specific times regarding training, goals and time of day. Many trainers and nutritionists recommend the standard practice of ingesting a certain amount of proteins, carbs and fats throughout the course of the day. Recent research has shown that manipulating certain nutrients and their amounts can significantly increase gains in strength and size and burn body fat.
Immediately upon waking the body has just undergone a six to eight hour fast void of muscle building blocks of protein. Protein should be the first thing on your mind after such a hiatus. Fast digesting whey protein is the perfect fix to set your body into a positive amino balance once again and will hold off catabolism until you can get those eggs cooked! Take around 20-30 grams of whey first thing in the morning.
Another wise move is to take in a good amount of complex carbs in the morning to help refuel your glycogen stores for the day ahead. This will not only give you energy for your training later in the day, but will also stoke your metabolism to switch into high gear helping you to turn on that fat-burning furnace. Anywhere between 40 - 60 grams of a complex carb source such as oatmeal or Ezekiel cereal are great choices.
Another time to keep a close eye on is the mid/late morning blood-sugar crash. Many of us at jobs tend to forget our important muscle-building meals during hectic times of day that we neglect our guidelines to keep us on track. A great (and quick) solution is to pop a protein shake and some healthy fats. This can easily be accomplished with a quick shake of whey and water and around one ounce of nuts such as almonds. Not only will this feed your muscles with the much needed protein boost (not to mention convenient), but will also provide healthy fats to keep blood-sugar levels steady until your next solid meal.
One of the most critical times to actually start the recovery process after a training session is before you even step into the gym. Saturating your muscles with protein prior to training can actually provide not only energy for the grueling session to come but can also provide key amino acids to muscles because they will be readily available for recovery. This will give you an advantage regarding performance and rebuilding for your next intense training bout. Try 30-40 grams of whey protein.
In addition to quality protein you must also consider complex carbs prior to training. Carbs are a must if you want to make any substantial gains at all. Not only will they provide a steady flow of energy, they will also spare protein to be used as energy. 40-60 grams of a quality carb source should be taken with whey protein 30 minutes to an hour prior to lifting. Good sources include oatmeal, 100% whole grain bread, rice or a medium sized apple.
We all know by now that post-workout nutrition is of utmost importance for muscle/strength gain. This crucial time has a limited window of opportunity, so it behooves the trainer to take full advantage of this important meal. After a brutal training session the body is starving for nutrients. This “window” which only lasts around an hour or less is the perfect time to down a whey protein shake to shuttle in amino acids as fast as possible to ramp up the recovery process. 40 grams of whey will do the trick.
Another key nutrient at this time is simple carbs. Simple carbs taken with your whey protein will raise insulin levels to help shuttle in more nutrients directly into the muscle. Even though higher insulin levels are related to fat gain, you won’t have to worry about that during your post-workout meal. The higher insulin levels are key in regulating hormone levels and nutrient absorption. Take in around 40 - 80 grams of simple carbs such as Gatorade depending on your goals.
Take advantage of these times to maximize gains and minimize muscle breakdown. These are just a few simple guidelines to try on your quest to a more muscular and leaner physique.
written by Brad Borland