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Round 2

I am getting ready for my next bodybuilding show happening on July 30, 2011 in Seattle, WA. I am making a strong stand for Vegan Muscle. 


Early Morning Cardio

When is the best time of day to do your cardio? The answer is any time! The most important thing is that you just do it. Continuous cardiovascular exercise, such as walking, jogging, stairclimbing, or cycling, sustained for at least 30 minutes, will burn body fat no matter when you do it. However, if you want to get the maximum benefits possible from every minute you invest in your workouts, then you should consider getting up early and doing cardio before you eat your first meal – even if you’re not a “morning person.”

Early morning cardio on an empty stomach has three major advantages over exercising later in the day: Early morning before you eat, your levels of muscle and liver glycogen (stored carbohydrate) are low. If you eat dinner at 7 p.m and you eat breakfast at 7 a.m., that’s 12 hours without food. During this 12-hour overnight fast, your levels of glycogen slowly decline to provide glucose for various bodily functions that go on even while you sleep. As a result, you wake up in the morning with depleted glycogen and lower blood sugar – the optimum environment for burning fat instead of carbohydrate. How much more fat you’ll burn is uncertain, but some studies have suggested that up to 300% more fat is burned when cardio is done in a fasted, glycogen-depleted state.

Morning Cardio Benefit #1

So how exactly does this work? It’s quite simple, really. Carbohydrate (glycogen) is your body’s primary and preferred energy source. When your primary fuel source is in short supply, this forces your body to tap into its secondary or reserve energy source; body fat. If you do cardio immediately after eating a meal, you’ll still burn fat, but you’ll burn less of it because you’ll be burning off the carbohydrates you ate first. You always burn a combination of fat and carbohydrate for fuel, but depending on when you exercise, you can burn a greater proportion of fat relative to carbohydrate. If doing cardio first thing in the morning is not an option for you, then the second best time to do it would be immediately after weight training. Lifting weights is anaerobic (carbohydrate-burning) by nature, and therefore depletes muscle glycogen. That’s why a post lifting cardio session has a similar effect as morning cardio on an empty stomach. Morning Cardio Benefit

Benefit #2

The second benefit you’ll get from early morning cardio sessions is what I call the “afterburn” effect. When you do a cardio session in the morning, you not only burn fat during the session, but you also continue to burn fat at an accelerated rate after the workout. Why? Because an intense session of cardiovascular exercise can keep your metabolism elevated for hours after the session is over. If you do cardio at night, you will still burn fat during the session, so you definitely benefit from it. However, nighttime cardio fails to take advantage of the “afterburn” effect because your metabolism drops like a ton of bricks as soon as you go to sleep. While you sleep, your metabolic rate is slower than any other time of the day. Morning Cardio Benefit

Benefit #3

Burning more fat isn’t the only reason you should do morning cardio. The third benefit of morning cardio is the “rush” and feeling of accomplishment that stays with you all day long after an invigorating workout. Exercise can become a pleasant and enjoyable experience, but the more difficult or challenging it is for you, the more important it is to get it out of the way early. When you put off any task you consider unpleasant, it hangs over you all day long, leaving you with a feeling of guilt, stress and incompleteness (not to mention that you are more likely to “blow off” an evening workout if you are tired from a long day at work or if your pals try to persuade you to join them at the pub for happy hour.) You might find it hard to wake up early in the morning and get motivated to workout. But think back for a moment to a time in your life when you tackled a difficult task and you finished it. Didn’t you feel great afterwards? Completing any task, especially a physically challenging one, gives you a “buzz.” When the task is exercise, the buzz is physiological and psychological. Physiologically, exercise releases endorphins in your body. Endorphins are opiate-like hormones hundreds of times more powerful than the strongest morphine. Endorphins create a natural “high” that makes you feel positively euphoric! Endorphins reduce stress, improve your mood, increase circulation and relieve pain. The “high” is partly psychological too. Getting up early and successfully achieving a small goal kick starts your day and gives you feelings of completion, satisfaction and accomplishment. For the rest of the day you feel happy and you feel less stress knowing that the most difficult part of the day is behind you.

So, you say you’re not a morning person? Take heart; neither am I. I can sleep in like you wouldn’t believe! But I get up anyway because I know the effort is worth the results. When I have a bodybuilding goal that I am clearly focused on, such as reaching 4% or 5% body fat for a competition, I’m running up and down stairs for 30-40 minutes every morning at the crack of dawn without fail. Sure it’s a challenge at first, but you know what? After a few short weeks, It’s no longer a chore and I’m “in the groove” – and you will be too. Just try it. Make a commitment to yourself to do it for just 21 days. Once those 21 days have gone by, you’ll already be leaner and you’ll be on your way to making morning workouts a habit that’s as natural as brushing your teeth or taking a shower. Once you start getting used to feeling that buzz, you’ll become “positively addicted” to it. The more you do it, the more you’ll want to do it. Before you know it, early morning cardio will be your new habit; you’ll be leaner, your metabolism will be faster and you’ll feel fantastic all day long!

‘Cheat Meal’ Rules that Increase Metabolism + Help You Lose Body Fat

by Charles Poliquin

One thing that I learned over the years, is that people in the industry which I call ‘Diet Nazis’ fail miserably in their nutrition counseling by asking people to follow a “zero tolerance” policy. Inevitably clients never last more than 12 weeks on such extreme regimens and fatten up like pigs within weeks of leaving the Diet Nazi. I think people lose fat faster if they are allowed a cheat meal once every four to six days. The cheat meal increases the metabolism so it makes you lose body fat faster. Remember it is a cheat meal, not a cheat evening.

Here are the rules for successful cheat meals:

  1. Eat your protein first. Remember, in Greek, protein means of first importance.
  2. Must be at a table (at home or a restaurant), not in front of the TV. Decide with what you will cheat before hand and set it on the table in readiness.
  3. When your butt leaves the chair, no more eating.
  4. Resolve to make better cheat choices: oatmeal and gluten-free products are better than wheat cookies, organic chocolate almonds are better than jelly beans. If eating wheat means your joints don’t bend the next day, try rice pudding as a cheat meal.
  5. To determine if you’ve eaten an optimal amount of carbs on your cheat meal day, do the following: take the body fat on a Monday, get four days of low carb eating.  On Friday night, eat the cheat meal, recording the quantity of carbs you’ve eaten.  On Saturday morning, measure the body fat again.  If the body fat has decreased and lean mass increased, you chose the correct quantity of carbs.  If however you got fatter on that Saturday morning, decrease the carbs by 20% the next time you eat a cheat meal and see if the body handles it correctly by dropping body fat the next morning.  If, however, you lose weight the morning following a cheat meal, try increasing carbs by 20% and see how the body handles it; if you don’t lose weight the next cycle, drop back again.
  6. As you get leaner, the more carbs you can eat; when you get to a low body fat, do cheat days rather than just meals, and always on a non-training day.
  7. The relationship between low carb meals and cheat meals is always 20:1 or 30:1 (never less or more).  If you can get someone lean on 4:1, they are a carb person and should be eating them every day.
  8. The 20:1 or 30:1 ratio should apply for people whose goal is maintenance as well as weight loss because 75% of the population perform better (work, etc) on low carbs.

Favorite Vegan Proteins… add yours.

Surata Tempeh

Tofurky Sweet Italian Sausage

Raw Almond Butter

Natural Orange 50% Rice/50% Pea Protein Powder

Organic Pumpkin Seeds

Trader Joe’s Extra Firm Tofu

Field Roast Apple Sage Vegan Sausage

PlantFusion Chocolate Protein Powder

Organic Flax Seeds

Nutritional Yeast

Tempeh Bacon

Tofurky Hickory Smoked Deli Slices

Top 10 Carb Intake Rules for Optimal Body Composition

by Charles Poliquin

1.  Eliminate grains, particularly wheat. This is the most important principle regarding carb intake. Wheat influences blood sugar levels the same way as plain table sugar.

2.  Yes, eliminate grains, Part II: Gliadin family grains such as oats, wheat, spelt are the most common food allergen. People of the Celtic ancestry, like the Irish, are more likely to be gluten allergic. Besides raising insulin levels in the body and their rapid carb intake, grains also release cortisol in response to the stressor that a food allergen is.

3.  The main source of carbs should be fibrous. Fibrous carbs typically have very low carb content. Their inherent high fiber brings about a very moderate insulin response, thus making them an ideal fat loss food. The best sources of fibrous carbs include:

  • Broccoli
  • Asparagus
  • Mixed Salad Greens
  • Cabbage
  • Cauliflower
  • Mushrooms
  • Green beans
  • Onions
  • Cucumber
  • Spinach
  • All forms of peppers
  • Zucchini
  • Squash

4. The darker the fruit, the better it is for you. Dark fruits tend to have very thin skin, (hence they need to produce more anti-oxidants to protect themselves from the sun). That is why darker fruits are great anti-inflammatory foods. Bananas have thick skins therefore they have lower anti-oxidants contents.

5. The darker the fruit, the better it is for you, part II. The darker the fruit, the lower the glycemic load. Again, compare berries, and cherries to bananas and pineapple. Of course, this applies to fruits in their natural state; when grapes become raisins, their glycemic index goes up because of dehydration of the fruit.

6.  Replace grains with greens in sandwiches. This one is promoted by Jonny Bowden, author Living The Low Carb Life: Instead of using bread, use dark leafy greens to wrap the protein. It will slow down the glycemic response and help shift in your favor the acid/alkaline base.

7.  Limit fructose intake. Even though fruits are great foods loaded with nutrients, they also contain fructose. Fructose in too high quantities can slow down thyroid function and increase glycation. Glycation in layman’s term is browning, like the browning that makes crust in bread. Glycation is the cross linking of proteins (and DNA molecules) caused by sugar aldehydes reacting with the amino acids on the protein molecule and creating Advance Glycosylation End-products (AGE’s). If you want to see protein cross linking in action, cut an apple in half and watch it turn yellow! Very few people realize that glucose can go through oxidation. Why is the worst glycation agent fructose? Because it does not raise insulin. In other words, the insulin is not getting it into muscle cells. Therefore, it lingers around and wreaks metabolic havoc. As nutrition expert Robert Crayhon would say: fructose is like the guest that won’t go home once the party is over. Crayhon recommends that the average American should eat no more than 5-10 grams of fructose a day! For very active individuals, 20 grams of fructose should be the maximum intake.

8.  The best time to load up in carbs is the first 10 minutes following your workout. Since insulin sensitivity is at its highest after the workout, this is the time to take in your carbs to maximize muscle mass gains. As a general rule, I would recommend the following carbohydrate intake based on training volume for a given workout:

LBM / 2.2 = kg x (0.6 to 1.2) = grams of carbs postworkout
Example: (LBM)135 / 2.2 = 61.4kg x (0.6 to 1.2) = 37 to 74 grams of carbs postworkout

Regarding the source of carbohydrates post-workout, I have experimented with various sources, I like using fruit juices with a high glycemic index (i.e. pineapple, grape) to provide 30-40% of the carbs, the rest of the carbs coming from carb powders ranging from dextrose to various types of malto-dextrin. You can also any type of mushy fruit like bananas or peaches.

9.  Use insulin sensitivity supplements with high-carb post workout meals. Nutrients like taurine, arginine, and magnesium will help dispose of glucose to muscle cells instead of fat cells.

10.  Add protein to your post-workout carb intake. Using 15 g of protein for every 50 lbs of body weight, will increase glycogen storage by as much as 40%.