Category Archives: Diet and Nutrition

Posts about diet and nutrition

Does the Anabolic Window Really Exist?

Back when I first started lifting, I was convinced that if I didn’t have some kind of potent protein shake and enough chicken to feed a small village within 30 minutes after my training, I was going to be in a catabolic death spiral and all of my training would be for naught.

I would risk road rage confrontations, running over slow pedestrians, and anything else that got in my way of me meeting the much hyped “anabolic window”.

I was a slave to immediate post training nutrition.

Continue reading Does the Anabolic Window Really Exist?

Primal Nutrition: The Carbs at Night Myth

When I explain to people how I eat, and how I would recommend them to eat, I always get the same response.

“But Tank, doesn’t eating a lot of carbs at night make you fat?”

This cements the fact that fitness and diet myths are deep rooted and it makes my job as a strength coach even more important to help spread some truth.

Calories at night are not bad. Carbs at night are not bad. Eating this way will not make you fat.

But you will get fat by over-eating your carb and caloric needs throughout the course of the entire day.

Stuffing your face all day and then piling a huge dinner on top of that ups your chances of overshooting your caloric needs and packing on the pounds.

This is where it’s important to look at your diet as a whole (24 hour cycle) as opposed to meal by meal.

Primal Man vs Modern Man

Not eating a lot of carbs at night goes completely against Primal instincts and history, and is the complete opposite of our psyche and social patterns.

primal diet

Primal man under-ate throughout the course of the day because he was too busy grazing, hunting, fetching water, running from saber tooth tigers, and hustling his ass off to survive. After he returned home at night, he’d lounge around and feast on his daily conquests replenishing his glycogen stores from a hard day’s work, and sleep deeply with a full stomach. That nightly feast fueled him for the following day’s activity.

Fast forward to modern society. Our DNA has barely changed from Primal man. Our lives are somewhat different as far as our activity and exertion levels, but our routines and instincts are not. Most of us work during the day (albeit it sitting on our asses much more, which is another reason to not eat big during the day). At some point, we lift heavy weights and train. After work, current norms call for happy hours, social dinners, and family feasts where eating big is a natural occurrence. Our natural psychology makes kicking back and eating big at night appealing.

How I Recommend Eating

So why go against the grain of what our minds, bodies, and social patterns tell us? Is there a better way to approach our daily eating routines?

Of course there is.

First off, I’m a huge fan of intermittent fasting and under-eating during the day. And despite the potential backlash I get from the community, I’m not a big breakfast fan either. That’s a whole other story, but if you want the low-down on that, check it out here: Is Breakfast Really That Important?

Fasting allows you to burn body fat at a much higher rate naturally, and minimizes the amount of time you need to spend doing cardio. Under-eating during the day keeps your energy levels up and makes you much more productive.

(Besides, as I alluded to earlier, unless you work a manual labor job, you simply don’t need a lot of caloric intake during the day. An no, you will not go catabolic if you don’t eat every few hours. That’s another myth perpetuated by the fitness/supplement industry).

Then after a day of work and intense training, your body will be in a glycogen depleted state in the evening.

Enter the nightly feast.

Because you under-eat during the day, your body will be primed for calories and carbs, causing carbs to be much more likely stored as glycogen rather than fat. Eating big following the day’s activity will also promote recovery, muscle repair, and help put you in an enhanced anabolic state for growth.

Coinciding with our natural instincts, eating big at night will also promote deeper sleep, critical for protecting your nervous and hormonal systems. And by refueling your glycogen stores in the evening, you will be fueled for upwards of 12 hours, which will carry you well into the next day.

** Because you under-eat during the day, it is critical that you make up your caloric deficit at night and eat enough to put yourself in a caloric surplus if you are trying to gain weight **

Plus, you’ll probably be far happier eating this way and I can almost guarantee that this will be more conducive to your lifestyle and social schedule.

This is precisely how I eat, and how a lot of my clients eat as well. I’ve never strayed above 15% body fat eating this way, and if I need to gain weight, I just up my caloric intake for the day (I gained 20 pounds in 2 months this past summer maintaining this lifestyle to prep for a Strongman competition).

The Bottom Line

Look at your diet as a whole.

Eating carbs at night and increasing the caloric content of your nightly meals is just a way of shifting your eating patterns (which will align much more closely with your psyche, Primal instincts, social schedule, and your goals of fat loss and muscle growth).

This way of eating has been documented by countless studies, and I’ve been eating this way for years. Everyone I’ve ever converted to this style of eating is amazed at how quickly they see results, not only in their body, but in their mindset as well.

Don’t let the “carbs at night” myth mess with your lifestyle. In fact, eat big at night and start reaping the rewards.

— Tank

How to Optimize Training Recovery

Training recovery is an often overlooked process in the strength game.

It’s tough for people to pry themselves away from the gym. Trust me, I get it. Back when I first started lifting, I was in the gym every single day, even if it was just to train my abs and stretch. But in hindsight there were far better things I could have been doing with my time to boost my training recovery and make bigger gains.

Truth be told, a lack of training recovery can lead to a laundry list of problems:

  • Injury
  • Poor sleep
  • Hormonal imbalances
  • Decreases in training performance
  • Lack of progress

I could go on, but you get the point. Nobody wants to get injured or halt their progress. So your best course of action is to learn how to recover from training.

#1: Post Training Nutrition

Immediately after training, you need to be focused on getting protein, and more importantly, carbohydrates into your system. My go-to nutrition bomb here is a protein shake. It’s an easy way to get quick digesting nutrition into your body. Depending on your bodyweight, your shake would have about 30 grams of protein and between 60-100 grams of carbs. If you can’t get that many carbs into your shake, have some fruit on hand in addition to your shake.

If you are eating Primal style, you will feast at night, so after your post-training shake you will have a huge dinner with even more carbs and protein. This meal carries you over into your next day, where you will graze until your workout, and then the cycle begins.

#2: Contrast Showers

This idea seems to be gaining popularity in the fitness industry lately, but it was originally made “popular” decades ago by the Soviets in Eastern Europe. Elite athletes would immerse themselves in a bath of ice water, then follow it up with an immersion into warm water. This process was repeated multiple times, and the process helps stimulate the recovery process. More specifically, the hot/cold alternation improves blood flow, aids in the inflammation process, and reduces lactate in the muscles.

ice bath for recovery

Since most of us don’t have access to two baths in the same room, I’m calling these contrast showers for practicality. Turn the water on as cold as you can stand it, immerse yourself for up to one minute, then reverse the process with hot water for a minute. Alternate hot/cold 4-5 times.

#3: Sleep For at Least 8 Hours

This one doesn’t require much explaining. Your body is in repair mode while you sleep, so if you don’t sleep, you won’t grow. Most of us need at least 8 hours a sleep at night. Turn off the t.v. at least 30 minutes prior to bed, no computer, or electronics of any kind. Read a book. Make your sleep preparation a nightly ritual and get on a schedule. 8 hours. No excuses.

#4: Stretch and Foam Roll

Both of these are great ways to relieve muscle soreness and increase blood flow. Old-school static stretching will also help with your mobility and lifting technique.

Foam rolling should be done every day, but for only limited periods of time. Foam rolling in particular is extremely effective at removing inflammation and knots in your muscles. Overdoing it however, can irritate your muscles just as easily as it can help. Use the roller during your warm-ups, but for tender and trouble spots, limit your rolling to only a few minutes and do not focus on the same area multiple days in a row.

lacrosse ball foam rolling
If you don’t have access to a foam roller, hit up your local sporting goods store and spend the $2.50 on a lacross ball.

#5: Active Recovery

Recovery doesn’t necessarily have to mean sitting on your ass. On your “off-days”, go for a walk, stretch, play recreational sports (within reason), or even do light workouts. Light workouts on off-days are perfect opportunities to work on your bodyweight training. A short duration session of 100 pushups after a big bench press day can actually help shuttle blood flow and nutrients into your upper body and speed up the recovery process.

#6: Take Time Off

This is by far the hardest thing for hardcore athletes to fathom, but it can be one of the best things you could ever do for yourself. If you are training every day and not taking care of yourself, inertia will inevitably catch up to you and you will suffer. Maybe you will get lucky and not get injured, but your performance will dip, or you will get burnt out. This is not a scare tactic. It’s a fact.

Taking a week off is not only crucial for your body to recuperate from the demands you are placing on it, but it is also an opportunity to rest your mind and self-reflect. Reflect on your training, discover what you are doing right and what you are doing wrong, make adjustments, and come back stronger than before. A fully recuperated body both physically and mentally is key to making sure you make continual progress in the strength game, and that you set yourself up for sustainability over the long-term.

— Tank

How Intermittent Fasting Gets You Shredded

If you follow my diet advice, you know I’m a big advocate of intermittent fasting.  I sort of stumbled into this lifestyle because I have never been a big breakfast eater.

Despite all of the rah-rah cheerleading and publications you read telling you that breakfast is the most important meal ofShredded Girl 3 the day, it just simply isn’t true.  Does breakfast have its benefits?  Sure.  But it’s not going to make the difference between you making gains or going catabolic.  For the low-down, check this out:

Is Breakfast Really the Most Important Meal of the Day?

Traditional fasting can be anywhere between 12-72 hours.  With my diet, I don’t consume much of anything from 9pm until noon the following day.

My intermittent fasting lasts about 12-15 hours.  They are geared towards using my natural metabolic functioning to maximize fat loss, allowing me to still eat big and gain muscle mass, but eliminate the need for a lot of high-intensity cardio.

So how does intermittent fasting kick your fat burning ability into overdrive?

#1: Increases Fat Burning Hormones

One of the main reasons that intermittent fasting is effective is that it uses your natural hormonal cycles to help burn fat.

Growth hormone is the most important fat burning hormone in your body and fasting actually promotes growth hormone production.  Fasting also decreases your insulin levels, which ensures that you burn body fat instead of storing it.

This is part of the reason that skipping breakfast is beneficial.  Your insulin levels are at one of their lowest levels upon waking, meaning your body is in prime fat burning mode.  By eating, you are killing this advantage.  But if you don’t “break-fast”, you ensure that you keep your insulin levels low and prolong your natural fat burning state.

#2: Increases Fat Burning Enzymes

Your hormones need the help of fat burning enzymes to get their job done.  Intermittent fasting will boost the activity of two of the most important fat burning enzymes in your body. Adipose tissue Hormone Sensitive Lipase (HSL) is responsible for allowing your fat cells to release fat so it can be burned as energy.  Muscle tissue Lipoprotein Lipase (LPL) is responsible for allowing your muscle cells to take up fat so it can be burnt as a fuel.  By having elevated levels of both of these during intermittent fasting, you are naturally optimizing your ability to burn fat.

#3: Burn More Calories

Intermittent fasting increases your metabolism and adrenaline levels causing you to burn more calories during your fast.  The more calories you burn, obviously the more fat you will burn. Plus, you will see a boost in your energy levels that will fuel your productivity throughout the day.  Most people are surprised at this, but just think for a second about how you feel after a big meal.  I bet you feel like sh*t and need a nap…

#4. Burn Fat Instead of Sugar

Your body naturally burns carbs first and then fat.  Any extra food that your body can’t burn in the few hours after you eat gets stored as body fat.  But when you fast your body has no choice but to burn stored body fat because your blood sugar levels are depleted.  By the end of an intermittent fasting period your body is burning way more fat than it would eating every couple of hours.

Serge Nubret Intermittent Fasting
Serge Nubret is one of the best examples of how intermittent fasting can help you burn fat and still allow you to build muscle. He often ate only 1-2 meals a day.

Alright Primal Nation.  Go “starve” yourself for a few hours.  I promise you won’t go catabolic, and you may just burn some fat in the process.  I’d take that over slaving away on a damn stair climber any day…

Evolve!!

— Tank

Is Breakfast Really The Most Important Meal of the Day?

By now, you’ve heard it a million times.

Breakfast is the most important meal of the day.

But is it really?

This may come as a shocker, but breakfast may be doing you more harm than good.  Plenty of people (Dan John being one) would like to slap me silly for saying that, but stick with me…

Insulin levels are at their lowest point of the day when you first wake.  Couple this with high cortisol levels (cortisol peaks between 7 and 9am), and your body is in prime fat burning mode.  By eating a big meal when you first wake up, you are spiking your insulin levels and robbing yourself of the opportunity to burn more fat at rest.  Insulin sensitivity in your fat cells is also highest in the morning, so waking up with a big bowl of oatmeal for instance actually promotes fat storage.

Eating a big breakfast may leave you feeling tired and groggy too.  How many of you have felt like you need a nap by 10am?  I don’t know about you, but I hate that feeling.  I want my energy levels to remain high throughout the day when I need to be the most productive.

For me, the far more important meal of the day is your post training meal, and following that up with more nutrition even beyond that.  Ingesting protein and carbs after a training session is huge.  You need to replenish glycogen stores and get yourself in an anabolic state.  From there, you can add more food to meet your caloric and macronutrient (carbs and protein) needs.

strength training breakfast

So am I telling you to skip breakfast?

Not necessarily.  It depends on who you are and what your goals are.

For me, and guys like me (which I’d venture to guess are a lot of you), it wouldn’t be the worst thing in the world.

I want to be big and lean, train 4 days a week and minimize the amount of time I spend doing high-intensity cardio for fat loss.  I train in the afternoon then eat big at night, allowing myself to replenish my body after intense training.  So when I go to bed, I’m in a highly anabolic state.  This is how our ancestors ate for the most part, where they fasted during the day to hunt and gather and then they ate big at night.

I may have a protein shake upon waking here and there, but for the most part, won’t eat anything until lunch.  This means I’ve technically fasted for 12-14 hours, which means for half the day I’ve been in a natural fat burning state.  (I’m a big fan of intermittent fasting, I’ll tackle that with another post.)

Eating this way, lifting 4 days, and only doing 2 conditioning sessions a week that may last 20 minutes apiece, I maintain single digit body fat and still can put on muscle.

So knowing all of this, do you still breakfast is that important?

For more guidance on meal planning, check out this post below.

How Many Meals Per Day Should I Eat to Build Muscle

Evolve!!

— Tank
NASM Certified Personal Trainer
Underground Strength Coach

How Many Meals A Day Should I Eat To Build Muscle?

To a lot of you, this may be the million dollar question.

Depending on the diet fad of the day, you might come across a hundred different answers.

Eat 6 small meals spaced 2 hours apart.  Skip breakfast.  Just eat one big dinner.  Fast for 18 hours.  I’ve heard em’ all.

Most of the answers you find may in fact offer some benefits, but they will also come with some negatives.  And sometimes we can get so strength training dietinundated with information and competing theories that we get overwhelmed and forget the basics.

So let me ground your thought process for a minute and help us get back to reality by myth busting a well known, and frighteningly accepted, extreme.

The 2 Hour Rule

Despite what you may have heard, you don’t need to constantly be feeding yourself throughout the day.  If you don’t eat for a couple hours, you will not go into “starvation mode” like some people will try and scare you to believe.

I mean, really think about that one.  Our bodies were made to go a few weeks without food, so you are trying to tell me that you will go catabolic after a few hours?  Give me a freakin’ break.  Save the drama…

First off, if you ate like this, you’d be keeping your insulin levels spiked all day, taking your body out of its natural prime fat burning mode.  You’d probably be feeling a little tired too…

Plus eating constantly like that could be straining your digestive system, never giving it a chance to relax because you are always making it work.  Trust me, you will be spending less time on the toilet, prepping meals, and washing Tupperware if you aren’t obsessing over the famed “2 hour rule.”

Who the hell wants to live like that anyway?  Sounds like torture.

So then what is the better way?

When trying to plan your meals out for the day, you need to get back to the basics.  You should be counting calories and macros (protein, fat, carbs), not meals.

If you want to build muscle, you should eat as many meals as you need to fulfill a calorie surplus (taking in more calories than you need to function).  For most of us, this surplus should be a few hundred calories a day in order to pack on the pounds.  Couple this surplus with the correct amount of macros, and you will be well on your way to muscle gain.  If you aren’t sure where your macros should be, click here and here.

So for most of us, we could accomplish this with 3 meals per day and a few snacks along the way.  This will make your life a lot easier and is better for your body overall.  If you need more meals to fulfill your caloric needs, so be it, but don’t feel that it is absolutely necessary, especially if you are able to get what you need with less meals and hassles…

Evolve!!

— Tank
NASM Certified Personal Trainer
Underground Strength Coach

 

10 Reasons You Aren’t Building Muscle

Building muscle isn’t easy.  If it were, you’d be seeing a hell of a lot more impressive people out there and I wouldn’t be kicking my own ass 5 days a week to keep getting bigger and stronger.

The problem is, there could be a myriad of causes for you to not be making the progress you are looking for.  Good news is, a lot of these are fixable, and it doesn’t take rocket science to fix them in a hurry.

Now don’t get disillusioned…easy fixes don’t lead to easy muscle; there is no such thing.  It takes one thing and one thing only to pack on the pounds.

But using this list to identify shortcomings in your training will help you make progress, and by keeping all of these in check, I’d be willing to bet that you make more progress than you ever have before.

#1 You Aren’t Lifting Heavy Enough

building muscle

You will not get any training effect from lifting anything less than 70% of your 1 rep max (1RM).  Stay below this threshold for your warmup sets, but when it is time to work, you need to be working with weights in between 70-85% of your 1RM.  Stick with reps in the 6-20 range per set, depending on the exercise.

You can stray above this if you want to gain some strength, but keep your reps and frequency low.  With my current program, in a given week I’ll hit 90-95% of my 1RM only twice per big lift (squat, bench, overhead press, deadlift) and my reps are usually never more than 3 for those sets.

When it comes time to do assistance work, I’m always in the 70-85% range.  Anything less, and you are wasting your time.

#2 You Are Resting Too Long

This is a huge problem for a lot of people, especially in a commercial gym scene.  If you are really trying to pack on the size, your rest periods should not be any longer than 2 minutes.  Be honest with yourself and carry a stopwatch.  Time your rest intervals and make sure you aren’t slacking.  Generally, by the time I add more weight for my next set, my rest period is just about up and it is time for me to bang out another set.

If you are training for pure strength gains, you can rest 3-5 minutes in between sets, but if you are training for hypertrophy, you better be in the 90-120 second time range.

building muscle women

#3 You Aren’t Training Frequently Enough

The less you train, the less muscle you build.  Bottom line.  This especially goes for people doing body-part splits, which is why you should ditch that style immediately and do full body or upper/lower training sessions.

You need to train frequently to trigger muscle growth and induce your body to grow and adapt.  For most of you, that means 4 days of lifting, with 1-2 days of high intensity cardio like hill sprints, or sled work.

#4 You Are Training Too Much

There is a fine line between training enough and training too much.  I’m really not a believer in overtraining, but you need to get your rest.  Your rest days are the days you actually grow, and if you don’t give yourself time to recover, your body will never catch up.

A good rule is 48 hours in between body parts/sections.  If I train upper body on Monday, I won’t hit it again until Thursday.  If you have a light workout, 24 hours of rest may work.  Just remember to take days off (and in some cases weeks), eat like a beast, and let your body recuperate from the pounding it takes.

building muscle women

#5 You Are Doing the Wrong Exercises

If you want a list of the best muscle building exercises, check it out here.

Pick exercises that recruit the most muscle by focusing on compound lifts and avoiding isolation work.  The more muscle you can recruit during a training session, the more growth you will trigger.  Plain and simple.

That means squats, overhead presses, and deadlifts are king.  Bicep curls, rope tricep extensions, and leg curls suck.  Don’t sabotage yourself by spending time on a bunch of junk work and wasting valuable training time.

#6 You Are Program Hopping

Far too often, someone will try a new program for a few weeks, feel like they aren’t getting results, and switch to something else.

Give it a chance!  Programs could take months to yield results and all it takes is persistence on your part to stick with it.  This goes especially for intermediate lifters; guys will have tremendous early success from lifting a few weights and think that is the norm.  After they plateau they may switch it up and not see the same results, but the problem lies not in the program.  They have progressed in their bodies beyond the point where results come so quickly.

Pick a program and give it a good honest 2-3 months, and then re-assess where you are.  The key here is being honest.  A lot of the time, people don’t perform the program as prescribed, tweaking things here and there, and wonder why they aren’t getting jacked…

#7 You Are Doing the Same Program For Too Long

Quite the opposite of the previous problem, but still just as common.  It is easy for us to get trapped in stale gym routines, doing the same exercises to death, and not switching things up.  Your body adapts to everything you subject it to; time of your workouts, exercises, resistance, movements, everything!

If you have been doing the same program for years, I’m no genius but it may be time to switch things up a little.

#8 Your Diet is Out of Whack

building muscle women

Your diet may be the most important component to getting the body you want, far more important than your training itself.  Want six pack abs?  Hate to break it to you but that is all diet…

Want to gain muscle?  You gotta eat.  Not only making sure you are consuming calories above your daily maintenance levels, but also counting your macro-nutrients (protein, carbs, fats) to make sure they are sufficient to meeting your goals.

If you aren’t consuming enough protein and carbs, or consuming more calories than your body requires to fuel itself, you will not gain muscle or weight.  Period.

Record a daily food log if you have to.  Without a proper diet tailored to your needs and goals, you will not succeed.  Guaranteed.

#9 You Aren’t Getting Enough Sleep

Not really much to say about this.  You need to be getting 8 hours of sleep.  This is when most of your tissue is repaired from ripping it all up in the weight room.  Lack of sleep increases your stress and cortisol levels, and can really f**k with your psyche.  Turn off the t.v., get your ass in bed, and get some z’s.

#10 You Haven’t Found the Mind Body Connection

If you’ve ever seen Pumping Iron with Arnold, he talks about this some.  He recalls how he can actually feel his muscles growing in that very moment and how his mind – body connection helps him get better results.

As touchy feely as this sounds, the man is right.  If you’ve ever felt this, you know what I’m talking about.  It is more than feeling “the pump”.  It is really focusing on your muscles as you complete a movement or do an exercise in the gym.  Feeling how your muscles contract and expand, how they work harmoniously together to make your body perform.

Work to establish this.  Meditate and concentrate.  If you can focus on your muscle building goal, and truly immerse yourself in the steps to get there and “feel the process”, your mind and body will be connected in such a way that you can’t help but improve.  You will be “in the zone”.

Wrapping Up…

Think about these problems and reflect on your own training habits.  Give yourself an honest evaluation and identify where you are falling short.  Use the guidelines I have given you to help rectify the problems, and re-evaluate your progress after a few months.

I will guarantee you that you will have put on more muscle if you follow my advice.  You can thank me later…

Evolve!!

— Tank

How Many Carbs Should I Eat To Gain Muscle or Lose Fat?

build muscle lose fat womenDepending on your current body fat percentage, 1-2 grams per pound of bodyweight on training days is a good place to start. Some recommend big time athletes to consume upwards of 4 grams per pound of bodyweight, but this would be far too much for a typical gym rat and strength seeker.

The point here is that all carb intake should be tailored to your training volume.

Some athletes can afford those 4 grams because they train for a living (sometimes multiple times a day), whereas the working man and gym rat has no business going anywhere near those amounts.

These guidelines below are meant for gaining muscle mass while minimizing the fat gain you would get by eating carbs indiscriminately.  If you want to get massive at all costs, then eat whatever the hell you want.

  • If you are already lean (less than 11% bodyfat) and are trying to put on size, training 4 days a week with a moderately high volume and getting your hill sprint sessions in, you could build a good amount of muscle from consuming 2 grams of carbs per pound of bodyweight a day.
  • If you are between 11-15% bodyfat, 1.25 – 1.5 grams per pound of bodyweight would be your starting point.
  • For each of the above, if you aren’t gaining mass or can stay lean while eating more carbs, then have at it.
  • For each of the above, on non-training days, cut your carb intake by 50%.
  • Carrying more than 15% body fat and want to lean out?  Cut the carbs down to about .8 – 1 gram per pound of bodyweight and assess your progress.  If you aren’t cutting, scale back more, but this is a safe place to start. This will allow you to preserve muscle while losing fat.
  • If you are above 15% bodyfat and fat-loss is your main goal, you can significantly cut back your carbs to around 100 grams per day, consisting mostly of green veggies. Ideally, total carb consumption would come post-training.

There is a delicate balance to be had here.  Too few carbs and your body will not grow.  However, consuming too many carbs can make you fat, especially if you are not tailoring your carb intake to your workload.

build muscleTiming and cycling of your carbs is also very important.  The majority of your carbs should be consumed post workout and in the evening to replenish the glycogen stores you depleted during your workout.  Consume less carbs on your non-training days.  What carbs you do eat can be consumed later in the evening to prepare you for the next day.

Not sure what carbs to eat?  Here is a shopping list:

  1. Any kind of potatoe you can get your hands on (sweet, red, purple, russet)
  2. Lots of veggies and greens (broccoli, broccoli rabe, kale, spinach, arugala, cauliflower, squash, tomatoes, asparagus, green beans, colored peppers, swiss chard)
  3. Grains (brown rice, jasmine rice, sushi rice, basmati rice, quinoa)

Bottom line?

If you are trying to cut body fat, cut the carbs.  If you want to add mass, you may need to consume a few more potatoes.  Plain and simple.

Want to know the guidelines for protein intake?  Check them out here.

Evolve!!

— Tank

How Much Protein Should I Eat To Build Muscle?

Any muscle building diet must be built around protein. protein to build muscle

A general rule of thumb for building mass is about 1 gram of protein per pound of lean body mass (not bodyweight). 

How to calculate lean body mass:  Simply take your body fat percentage and determine how much body fat in pounds you are carrying, and subtract that from your total body weight.  This number will be your lean muscle mass and a starting point for your protein intake.

Now I know you’ve read elsewhere that you need several grams per pound of actual bodyweight, but that just isn’t true.  There are countless numbers of studies out there that show excessive amounts of protein do not translate to more muscle growth.

Trust me.  You will spend far less time on the toilet, less time eating and preparing meals, and spend much less money on supplements if you stick to the 1 gram per pound of lean body mass rule.  Let this be your starting point and you can add more protein if desired, but just know that it isn’t absolutely necessary.

Low fat meats like chicken, turkey, and some cuts of beef and seafood should be your go to source of protein.  Supplement your meat intake with high protein foods like eggs and dairy products, nuts, and beans.  Aim to consume some sort of high quality protein with each meal, and your snacks if you can.

Make sure to consume some protein immediately following a workout.  This is a perfect time to down a protein shake to get fast digesting protein in your system.  My go-to recipe is 16 ounces of milk with 2 scoops of protein powder, a tablespoon of peanut butter, and a scoop of waxy maize (simple carbs).

Just because you supplement doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be trying your best to get most of your protein from foods.  Food sources have higher concentrations of vitamins and minerals, and are much better for you overall.  Supplements are a slippery slope, and if you make the time and commitment to eat right, you don’t need them.  A shake will never be a substitute for a t-bone steak…

To build muscle you must also have a healthy dose of carbs. Want the run down on carbs?  Check it out here!

Evolve!!

— Tank

23 Ways to Kick Ass in Life and in the Gym

Guys, this post fires me up.  It’s a quick hitting list that will help you make immediate positive changes in your life, and will lead to unreal gains in the gym.  These are not hard to follow, so you have no excuses not to.  Besides, who doesn’t want to kick ass?

Take these and use at least half of them.  If you want to be a real ass kicker, live by them all.

#1 Wake Up Early — The earlier you wake up, the more you get done in the day.  The more you get done, the more successful you are.  Plain and simple.  From my experience, not many good things happen at night anyway.

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#2 Lift Heavy — Whether you just want to look good naked, or you want to compete in strongman competitions, you gotta lift heavy.  Building foundational strength is the key to gaining mass, burning fat, and shattering your previous limitations in the gym.

#3 Be Confident — Look around you and pick out the most successful people in your life.  I bet you 100% of them are confident.  Confidence will make you not only feel good about yourself, but it will shine to anyone who is watching you.  When you go out to a social setting, who attracts the most attention?  The confident “successful” people do, not the wallflowers.  Confidence breeds success.

#4 Embrace Failure — Failure is not a bad thing.  It is an opportunity.  Everyone fails.  If you haven’t failed at something, you aren’t challenging yourself enough.  Push your limits.  If you fail, learn from it.  You will come back stronger and ready to kick ass, and eventually you will succeed.

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#5 Take Risks
— Success doesn’t come to the timid.  Ask some of the most successful people in the world how they got there, I guarantee they took a few risks along the way.

#6 Turn Weaknesses Into Strengths — Weaknesses are limitations and you never want to limit yourself.  Identify where you are weak and attack it; don’t be afraid of it.  If you want to get better at something, you must improve your deficiencies.  I know where I’m weak and you better believe that is where I’m concentrating a lot of my time.

#7 Read Daily — Ever heard the phrase “train smarter, not harder”?  Hardcore meatheads might scoff at this remark, but there is merit in it.  If you train or live like an idiot, chances are you won’t be going very far.  Read.  Educate yourself.  The smarter you are, the better prepared you will be for future challenges you may face.

#8 Lay Off the Junkfood — It’s called junkfood for a reason; it’s junk.  Don’t eat it.  Period.

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#9 Do Deadlifts — Deadlifts are the undisputed #1 strength training exercise you can do.  It works your entire body and will build mass on your posterior chain faster than anything else.  If you want to get big and strong, you must do these.  Get in there, grip it and rip it.

#10 Drop the Baggage — Negative people suck.  I don’t care who it is, friends, family, colleagues; you can’t be exposed to negative influences.  You can do your due diligence and try to make it work, but don’t be afraid to cut the cord.  I’ve done it with people really close to me so I know it can be done.

#11 Set Goals — You must have daily goals and long term goals.  By planning what you do each and every day, you can ensure that you are taking the right steps towards that long term goal.  Success doesn’t happen by luck; have a clear vision and attack it.  This goes for your gym time too; have a plan before you even set foot in the door and get it done!  No more walking around aimlessly.

#12 Be Consistent — Consistency is key.  Nobody ever got good at anything by half-assing it every once in a while.  Habits are formed by being consistent, and the more good habits you adopt, the more likely you are to succeed.  You must grind it out EVERY SINGLE DAY.

#13 Train Like A Kid — Remember back in the day when we were kids?  Running, jumping, throwing stuff.  We were all athletes in some capacity.  It is easy to lose that over time, but that’s exactly how we should train.  Move around in space, sprint, throw heavy balls.  “Kid like” workouts can be fun; it breaks up the monotony and gets us back to our Primal roots.

#14 Get Outside Daily — Goes hand in hand with training like a kid.  Being outside is good for the soul.  So many of us are stuck inside for insane amounts of time these days.  Our bodies were not made for that.  Spend some time outdoors, train outside if you can, and soak up some of that vitamin D.

strength training#15 Try New Things — Doing the same thing over and over again won’t get you anywhere in life or the gym.  If you want to grow as a person, you gotta expose yourself to new experiences.  Live a little!  In the gym, your body adapts to the stimulus you apply to it.  Once it adapts, no new growth or strength will be achieved, so you have to switch up your routines.

#16 Help Others — Doing good deeds for other people makes the world a better place.  I started Primal Strength Camp to help people get stronger.  It helps them and I get a kick out of it too.  Helping each other out is a win/win situation.

#17 Daydream — Take a few minutes a day and just dream.  Think about what you want, strategize how to get there, and visualize your final achievement.  Some of my best revelations and “ah-ha” moments came from daydreaming.

#18 Stretch — “Long muscles are strong muscles”.  One day when you are old and can’t bend over to tie your shoes, you will regret not maintaining adequate levels of flexibility.

#19 Get At Least 8 Hours of Sleep a Day — You grow while you sleep.  8-10 hours is the ideal, but most Americans these days only get about 6.  Its unhealthy!  Turn off the t.v., get off the computer, and get in bed.  Sleep deprivation leads to under-performance, depression and stress.  8 hours, no excuses.

#20 Find a Training Partner — Training partners bring a sense of accountability, motivation, competition, and a visual eye to your gym sessions.  Finding a good one can be hard, but if you can find one, it can make a huge difference.

#21 Crank Up the Intensity — Being intense is crucial.  Focus and channel all of your energy into your workouts.  I have failed at  personal record setting lifts, only to crush them a few minutes later just by cranking up the intensity.  Gym time = Beast mode.

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#22 Do What You Want to Do — Life is too short to be stuck doing a bunch of sh*t you don’t want to do.  Sound selfish?  So what!  Being unhappy all the time isn’t fair to you, and chances are you will be one miserable person to be around, so it really isn’t fair to those around you either.  Do at least one thing per day that makes you happy.

#23 Never, Ever Give Up — Fail, fail, and fail again.  Eventually you will succeed.  Quitting sucks; don’t do it!  You will regret it, guaranteed.  No matter what you are doing, no matter how beat down you feel, no matter how far down the road success seems, never, ever give up.

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Evolve!!

— Tank