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Saturday, April 14, 2012

My 6-week Overeating Experiment — Did I Gain Weight, Lose Weight, or Stay the Same

Ok, I decided to do something crazy recently… For the last six weeks, I used myself as a guinea pig and completed an overeating experiment.

The purpose of the experiment was to see how much weight I would gain if I purposely tried to over-eat on a daily basis for six weeks straight.

What do you think the results were?  Did I get fat (after all, I gained 9 lbs on a 7-day cruise last year when my normal diet at home was replace with my cruise diet…although I subsequently lost that 9 lbs in only a week and a half after that cruise).  Or maybe during this overeating experiment I stayed the same weight or even got leaner?

My theory was that if you eat the right types of highly nutrient-dense foods and do not stray from those foods at all, that your body will automatically re-balance itself (your hormones, appetite levels, etc, etc)… and even though you are attempting to over-eat, as long as the nutrient-density of all of your meals is maximized, total calorie balance will inevitably end up at a level where I would not gain weight.

This goes along with my theory that calorie counting is basically pointless as long as your nutrient density of your foods is so high that the body obtains all of the nutrition it needs and re-balances your appetite and hormones to account for this.

Think of it this way… if you eat 1000 calories worth of soda, donuts, and cookies, your body needs to readjust hormone levels, increase your appetite and try to force you ingest more food to attempt to get more nutrients, since those 1000 calories were almost devoid of the nutrition your body needs.

However, if you eat 1000 calories worth of healthy foods with high nutrient density such as avocados, whole eggs, nuts, vegetables, fruits, grass fed meats, and other healthy options, your body obtains most of the nutrition it needs and accounts for this by leveling your appetite and hormones in the time period following that meal (the remainder of the day perhaps).  In this scenerio, your body is not forcing you to eat more food (via cravings) to obtain the nutrition it needs since it already received a boatload of nutrition.

So, here were the details I had to adhere to in my little experiment:

1. I could NOT just eat any and all types of foods… I could overeat on as much food as I wanted, but ONLY the foods that are "approved" according to my rules… this means all foods had to be un-processed natural foods.  No pasta, white rice, refined flour breads, or refined grain cereals were allowed.  No trans fats, deep fried foods, or any other processed foods such as candies, cookies, cakes, etc were allowed in the overeating experiment… I was only allowed to overeat on healthy food.

Some staples during my overeating phase were tons of whole eggs (yep, including the extremely healthy full-fat egg yolks), full-fat grass-fed raw cheese and yogurt, avocados, almonds, pecans, walnuts, lots of virgin coconut oil and olive oil, grass-fed butter, berries, lots of fruit and veggies, sprouted grain bread, raw almond butter, sweet potatoes, and lots of venison and grass-fed beef.

2. I was still training very intensely 3-4 days/week at the gym but nothing extremely different from my normal workouts (this means that my caloric expenditure from exercise was not drastically different than normal).

So what was the end result after six weeks of trying to stuff my face with as much healthy food as possible?

>> My body weight stayed EXACTLY the same!  I didn't gain a single pound.

I know the first reaction of many people is that I just must have a "fast metabolism" or something along those lines and that is why I did not gain weight.

But that is false!

The truth is that I have no problem at all gaining weight when I overeat on junk foods, or eat large amounts of processed foods in general.  I can guarantee you that if I was overeating on pasta, white rice, cookies, white bread, donuts, and other processed foods during these last 6 weeks, I would have gained a massive amount of weight.

In fact, as I have mentioned before, in the past I have easily gained as much as 10 pounds in only 1 week when I have been on some sort of vacation and simply eat the normal types of processed food that everyone else is eating.

This proves that I am just as prone to gaining weight as anybody else.

However, notice the stark contrast in my experiment with attempting to overeat on all healthy unprocessed foods… I simply could not gain weight because my body would be constantly re-adjusting the hormone levels and appetite levels to account for the super-high nutrient density of food I was eating.

In the end, this meant that my body automatically maintained calorie balance without the need for calorie counting.

This is the type of eating lifestyle that pretty much totally eliminates your cravings… Remember that I have said before that I do not think I have had any real cravings in at least five years (that is the time since I have been more strict on the type of foods I eat).

I also think it is actually fun and more enjoyable to eat in such a healthy manner (for the skeptics that think this involves some sort of deprivation).

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Make Better Choices When Forced to Eat Fast-Food

I was out recently with some friends and we stopped at a fast food joint. I hate fast food joints, but sometimes everybody else wants to go there, so you just have to make the best of it and find something at least somewhat healthy.

If you're forced to eat fast-food, here's a tip to make sure that you're not doing much damage to your body…

ALWAYS AVOID the soda and anything deep fried including french fries, hash browns, and anything breaded like chicken nuggets, chicken patties, or breaded fish sandwiches. These are all absolutely soaked in deadly trans fats from the industrial hydrogenated vegetable oils they use to fry all of these items. 

Note: Even though some fast food restaurants have vowed to not use hydrogenated oils loaded with trans fats any more, they are still using highly refined processed oils, which are still inflammatory and negatively affect your health (and waistline).

Remember, as I've said before, I've seen studies indicating that as little as 1 gram of artificial trans fat per day can have serious degenerative internal effects in your body such as inflammation, clogging and hardening of the arteries, heart disease, various forms of cancer…not to mention packing on the ab flab. That's as little as 1 gram!

Consider that a typical fast-food meal of a breaded chicken sandwich (or fish sandwich), along with an order of fries can contain as much as 10 grams of trans fat! Add on a cookie or small piece of pie for dessert (which are usually made with deadly margarine or shortening), and now you're up to about 13 grams of trans fat with that entire meal.

If 1 gram a day is slowly killing you, imagine what 13 grams is doing! And that was only one meal that you ate. Some people are consuming 20-30 grams of artificial trans fat per day, and not even realizing what they're doing to themselves internally. Please realize that nobody, I mean NOBODY, is looking out for your health, except for YOU.

Anyway, back to the topic of how to avoid this stuff and eat a reasonably healthy meal on the rare occasion that you're forced to eat fast-food. As for drinks, avoid the sodas…they're nothing but heavily processed high fructose corn syrup which will surely end up as extra belly fat. And yes, that mean NO DIET SODA either!  This stuff is pure evil to your body.  Here's an article I did about why diet soda makes you fat.

Your best bets for drinks are always water or unsweetened iced tea.  You get the added benefit of the antioxidants in the unsweetened iced tea (but stay away from any sweeteners).

At breakfast, the best choice is an egg, ham, and cheese on an english muffin (not on a croissant, which is full of nasty trans fats!), or a fruit & nut salad.

At lunch or dinner, the best choices are a grilled chicken sandwich, the chili, a grilled chicken salad without croutons (again…croutons = more trans), or even just a plain cheeseburger.   This doesn't mean these fast-food items are truly healthy and organic, but they're the best options you have at most fast food places.

The main take-away point from this little fast-food article is that the nastiest stuff at these fast food joints are the sodas and fries, and any other deep fried items. If you stay completely away from those items, you're at least making better choices than 95% of most people.

For any of you that have seen the movie "Super-Size Me", you saw how eating fast food every day absolutely destroyed that guy's health, but did you happen to notice the one guy that was the king of eating big macs (or some kind of burger)? I don't remember what kind of burger it was, but basically this guy has eaten these fast food burgers almost every day of his life for the past 30 years or something like that.

Did you notice that he stated that he almost never eats the fries or soda, even though he eats the burgers every day? And he's not necessarily overweight. Now I'm not saying that fast-food burgers made with their refined white bread and low quality beef and cheese are the healthiest thing, but the point is… it's the fries and sodas that are the real health disaster.

Alright, so next time you're out at one of these places, remember these tips and choose smart!

Personally, I can't remember the last time I ate at a fast food joint like mickey D's or BK.  If at all possible, I'll try to find some corner deli with fresh salads or sandwiches instead of fast food.

By the way, if you haven't heard yet, McD's has added a nutrition label to all of their food wrappers now. Remember that as little as one gram of trans may cause some internal harm and now you can actually see how many grams of trans fat you're eating right on the food wrapper. That might change your mind about finishing it.

For a fully comprehensive program on losing as much body fat as you want by following a smart, scientifically designed training and nutrition program, check out The Truth about Six Pack Abs.

Induction Destruction: The Perils Of Diving Into Strict Diets Headfirst

Every so often you read a sad story in the newspaper about someone who dove headfirst into a river or lake, without checking to see how deep the water was beforehand. Unfortunately, it turned out to be a shallow 18 inches and the consequence of this miscalculated plunge was a broken neck and a wheelchair.

This reminds me of the way most people impatiently dive into strict, extreme, or unbalanced crash diets, without thinking about the long term consequences, invariably crippling any chance they had for keeping the fat off in the long run.

One thing that almost all mainstream popular diets have in common is an "induction phase" (or the equivalent). This is often done under the scientific-sounding auspices of "making the metabolic switch" from "carb burner" to "fat burner."

Another common way that popular diets begin is with a "liquid fast" or "internal cleansing" phase. This is often suggested as necessary for clearing out all the gunk that has accumulated on your insides which (says them), is the reason you feel like "blah" and can't lose any weight.

Larrian Gillespie, the About.com guide to low carb diets, made a keen observation in a recent article. Writing about the Induction plan on programs such as the Atkins diet, she noted:

"Frankly, the only thing I object to is the induction plan concept…for ANY diet. It's a cheap trick approach to weight management, since we as Americans are fixated on quick fixes or we toss a plan and go onto the next marketing promise."

Not only do I agree – I would take it a step further. I believe that this radical beginning phase actually increases the chances of failure in the long term.

Gillespie continues with advice about what to do if you choose a low carb approach such as Atkins…

"This (induction) approach will trigger a rebound weight gain. Don't overdo the induction phase. Better yet, go directly to stage 2 of the plan and begin there. There is nothing more irritating to a physician than having a patient come in with health problems as a direct result of following some crazy diet, like eating ONLY cabbage, or only grapefruit."

"Induction" is simply a politically correct way to say you have to crash diet and starve yourself in the beginning. Look at the forums and message boards: They're filled with posts from people about to start these programs, dreading the "initial" phase and wondering if they'll be able to hack it (and with people telling war stories about how they "survived" it …or tried it and failed).

"Induction" has nothing to do with science, health or permanent fat loss. It has everything to do with marketing and instant gratification. Dieters flock to the gurus that promise 12 to 15 pounds of weight loss in the first two weeks, while sneering at the idea of losing a paltry 2 pounds of fat per week. "Give me results now" is the mindset, with no thought given to body composition, health or long-term consequences. What sells more books: "Quickly Lose 8-10 pounds in the first week" or "lose 8-10 pounds of fat per month and never gain it back?" Unfortunately, it is usually the former.

Over the past decade and a half I have almost always used the opposite approach with my clients – and that is, never dive into diets – instead, ease into a new way of life, one habit at a time, if necessary.

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My clients are introduced to words such as habits, balance, lifestyle and patience. I sit them down, look them in the eye and ask, "Do you want to lose weight quickly and gain it back or do you want to lose fat slowly and keep it off forever and never have to "diet" again?"

When confronted face to face, the answer is always the latter (but often begrudgingly so). The patience pays off, and those who are wise enough to listen enjoy the fruits of lifelong health, leanness and fitness, never having to endure the repeated yo-yo losses and gains so many people suffer for an entire lifetime.

Consider these concepts: Do NOT crash diet only to relapse to your old, unhealthy ways. Do not even put yourself in "emergency" situations where you feel pressured to lose weight quickly. Build a foundation and master the fundamentals first, then nit pick, sweat the small stuff and try "advanced" techniques later.

Once you've mastered the basics, then you can slowly make your plan stricter – if necessary – based on your results. You can reduce or eliminate cheat days, and tighten up your food choices.

Yes, carbs can be s-l-o-w-l-y reduced to find that optimal level for your body type where fat loss really kicks in. Calorie levels can dropped, more cardio added, rest between sets decreased, and training intensity increased.

On and on your regimen can be gradually "tightened up" and compliance increased until the desired results are achieved. Then, it's a gradual, comfortable transition to maintenance phase, which is never far away from the fat loss phase.

Contrast this sensible, healthy, lifestyle approach, (which most people view not only as slow, but flat out "backwards"), with the crash diet or "induction" approach:

The new dieter STARTS from day one with the strictest, most extreme version of the diet. It's often very unbalanced with entire food groups removed, or it emphasizes only one food or food type. Sometimes, the restrictions are so tight, you even have to limit the amount of vegetables you eat! Is that CRAZY or WHAT????

The weight comes flying off… SUCCESS! Or so it appears…until all the weight has returned 6-12 months later along with the rest of the 95% of dieters who fail because they insisted on following the herd and hopping on the latest quick fix bandwagon.

No two people are exactly alike and no single nutrition program is right for everyone. For example, some people really do thrive on reduced carbohydrate diets. But one thing that's true for 100% of people 100% of the time is that starvation and crash dieting are a one-way ticket to eventual weight regain and metabolic destruction.

What should you do instead? Ease into it. Stick your toes in the water first. Isolate bad habits and replace them with good ones – one or two at a time – for life. Psychologists say it only takes 21 days to form a new good habit, and habits, not diets, are the key to long-term fat loss success. Any nutrition program not built squarely on a strong foundation of nutritional fundamentals and good long-term habits is an accident waiting to happen.

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How Much of A “Man” Are You?

On your top 10 list of things that you find attractive in a woman, I'll bet facial beauty and a nice body account for 9 of the top 10 spots…and in many cases all 10.
In fact, the vast majority of men… me included… will probably give a bit on the face if the woman has a rockin' body. Yet, in this same regard, how much will you compromise if the woman has the prettiest face you've ever seen… but she's carrying 10, maybe 15lbs over your ideal?


I don't care how pretty a woman's face is, if it's attached to a body more suited for a walrus, that woman is not on your radar, or any other guy that you or I know. This is the girl with the "great personality" that just so happens to be the proverbial "grenade" every night she goes out.

"Personality" never gets a woman too far if she doesn't have the looks and the body and quite frankly, the research proves it.

So, why do you think that would be any different for guys?

Well, truth be known… there ARE some differences… but they are more subtle than most guys realize.

Attracting women, and especially a hot woman with a great body requires you to know what to say, when to say it, how to move and how to act, but studies also show that being in shape helps much more than most people are giving credit for.

You can believe it or not… but the fact is… if you're in the throws of passion with a beautiful woman and your body is built like a Greek god… she won't be able to keep her hands off of you… period.

Taking care of the way you look, and more specifically the shape of your body will not only go a long way in boosting your overall attractiveness to women… it will also boost your confidence in yourself, help you carry better posture, and command respect from other men.

AND… all of this happens the very second you step foot in any room… before you utter a single word.

Can you IMAGINE a more powerful tool to have on your side?

Look, I've been in the fitness and nutrition game for over 10 years studying it internationally and consulting professionally. I've done every style of training and diet you've ever read about, and probably a couple dozen you couldn't even imagine and I gotta tell you… deep down… everyone understands this… but they never talk about it.

And, quite frankly… research clearly shows that over 91% of the people that DO exercise do so in the hopes that they'll be able to improve their sexuality and attractiveness. So with that said I decided to find out if there WAS a measureable perfect look… and whether a new workout and nutrition program that was designed to actually shape your body into its most attractive and appealing form to women would actually be feasible.

Listen, if you go to the gym on a regular basis then you're already ahead of the game and probably understand where I am going with this.

If you don't then your next order of business should be getting a gym membership.

But once you're at the gym… do you really know what look you're trying to build while you're there working out?

You might think you want bigger arms, or tighter abs, maybe a more muscular chest, but do you really know how much bigger your arms should be or even if tight abs are necessary to spark subconscious physical attraction in women everywhere?

Do you need to work on your shoulders and back too?

Fact is… most guys just wing it, and figure that working out is going to make them look better… and that bigger is most certainly always better.

Quite frankly, most guys have it all wrong and I can accurately tell you there is a specific body shape and size for every guy that women will find most attractive. And, this same shape will command respect and evoke jealous responses in other men, and exert a higher level of social dominance over everyone in the room.

The specific body shape I am talking about is actually measurable right down to the inch for each male body. And… the kicker is that most guys are way off when they guess at what this should be, yet it's not as hard to achieve as you might be thinking.

If you're going to workout (and I suggest you do) you should do it with a purpose. Building a socially dominant body that women are attracted to is a pretty good purpose in my books. That's why I've spent the past year researching this.

I've researched the attraction response women have to different male figures and have come up with a specific number called the Adonis Index for you to use to help determine the exact shape you should be in.

Couple that with a research based male transformation program and you've got your hands on some SERIOUS dating dynamite.

This program is called the Adonis Effect.

After all sexual attraction stems from an age old animalistic instinct, and there is nothing more animalistic than how attracted a woman is to your body.

FACTS: If you haven't had a girl say she gets off on the look of your shoulders when you're having sex, then you've got more military presses to do at the gym. If you haven't experienced a girl who can't keep her hands off of your arms, or chest, or any other part of your body, and even the slightest movement from you gets her hot, then you better get a new workout program.Perfect Body Measurements

At the core of it all we're just animals and sexual attraction is a primal animal instinct. Society and language make it a bit of a trick but in general, confidence, body language and the way the male body looks to a woman is what gets her juices flowing.

Just think of how sexy a woman can be just by moving her body the right way.

No words need to be spoken for attraction to take place.

This same thing can happen in the opposite direction. If you don't think girls can view guys like a piece of meat, think again!

Think of how convenient it would be for you to be able to attract a girl just based on how your body looks.

Remember, your outward appearance says a lot about your inner view of yourself… and don't think that women aren't aware of this. The look of your body and the way you carry yourself is a sure sign that women pick up on before you even have a chance to say a word to them.

YOUR GOAL: Combine a socially dominant body with the best techniques you can learn from the other leaders in the dating and seduction community and you will be an unstoppable, instant attraction generating machine!

John Barban is the author of the Adonis Index Workout, a workout program designed to get your body into its perfect proportions fast.

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Goal Setting For The New Decade: Beyond The New Year’s Resolution

When you pause and reflect on the past decade as you look ahead to a new one, it makes you appreciate how short life is, how valuable time is and how quickly the time can pass you by – with nothing to show for it, if you don't plan otherwise.

That's why the passing of another decade can feel like a wakeup call as much as a fresh start: Looking at the technological wonders that surround us in 2010, I can't help thinking it feels like science fiction.

In fact, modern technology is one of the reasons why some people have succeeded at body transformation while others have failed.

I'm still in awe of the web. The satellite navigation system in my car amazes me every time I drive. I can store a library of books in a device that fits in my pocket. It blows my mind that we can speak to each other face to face through the internet live on video. That's straight from Star Trek! And those are just the everyday little things.

It's the greatest time to be alive in all of human history! Unfortunately, today's modern conveniences have brought a dark side upon us.

Rising obesity has paralleled the march of technology. The chair-bound, desk-job, computer, car, elevator, television based society of today is helping to make millions of people fat and lazy.

Our current way of life is less than a century old, yet our biology hasn't changed in tens of thousands of years. Our bodies were designed to move and work, not sit and click.

We've become spoiled. Complacent. Dependent. And we are paying a price for it. We are fatter than ever before in all of human history. More than two thirds of Americans are now overweight. One third are obese.

People are dying because they're too fat.

Ironically, none of our new technology can solve our body fat problems.  There's no easy way. No pill. No machine. No drug. More knowledge isn't going to help. We already have most of the answers. We know more about the human body than ever before. But it's all academic.

The problem lies in the doing. You have to do the work – in the gym and in the kitchen. Hard work.

We are a quick fix society. It's partly human nature, but technology is making us more impatient. We can have products delivered to us with one click and even do it from our cell phones. We have instant downloads, movies on demand, and drive through coffee shops. We get  our food made and delivered in just minutes while we are sitting in our cars, and it's still not quick enough. The internet is blazingly fast, but most people will abandon a web page in seconds if it hasn't loaded. It's no different with fat loss. We want six pack abs yesterday.

Simultaneously fighting the pull of human nature and the convenience of new technology is no easy task. But there is a solution: Future Orientation.

The most successful people in the world today are those who have a long term perspective. They plan 5-10 years in advance and beyond. They know how to enjoy and live in the present moment, but they take action and make decisions based on their future vision.

The passing of another decade makes you take stock of yourself and your achievements, or lack thereof. "What did I accomplish in the last 10 years? Am I a better person today than I was in 2000?"

If you don't like the answers, then it's time to finally get serious about your future because the next 10 years are going to fly by even faster than the last 10 as the pace of life and society gets even faster.

To succeed in the new decade, think beyond new year's resolutions. Think beyond the 12 week fitness goal. As you write your goals this year, don't stop with 3 month or even 1 year goals.

Project yourself into the future: 3, 5 and 10 years from now. For each point, dream, fantasize, visualize: if your body, your health your physical performance were perfect in every way, what would that look like? Describe it in vivid detail.

With our ingrained penchant for quick fixes, we often overestimate what we can achieve in the short term and set unrealistic deadlines on our short term goals. But the flipside is that we often underestimate what we can achieve in the long term, so we set our long term goals too low.  Do you realize that people have gone from broke to billionaire in 10 years? In this internet age, some have done it even faster.

My challenge for you this year is to start thinking about your body and your life with the same type of creativity that has led to our greatest technological advances:

Not the same thoughts as yesterday. Not just positive thoughts. just bigger thoughts. NEW THOUGHTS! Creative thoughts! Inventive thoughts! From new thoughts will spring new goals, new actions and new achievements.

Fitness goals should not take over your life, they should enhance every other part of it. So take this opportunity to achieve balance by setting long term goals for every area of your life – health, fitness, finances, career, relationships, experiences, travel, possessions and spiritual growth.

Most people didn't set any goals 10 years ago. They're among the masses who are in the same place today as they were a decade ago.

Some people only set short term goals, so they accomplished a few little things, but then stopped, as if a goal were a final destination rather than a stepping stone along a path. Other people set goals but didn't follow through on them. They forgot that goal setting and goal achieving are two different things.

Don't fall into these traps.

If you need coaching in the goal setting process – from the daily and weekly baby steps to the long term goals and dreams that span a decade – read chapter one of Burn The Fat, Feed the Muscle.  If you already have it. Now is the time to revisit it.

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Depression is a debilitating condition with symptoms that may include feelings of hopelessness and despair, extreme fatigue and lack of interest in doing anything. People with depression feel drained and often lack the motivation to do anything about their condition. However, no matter what the cause or symptoms, most cases of depression can be treated. The trick is to find the right depression treatment for your particular symptoms.

 If you have been depressed for a while, a doctor may have suggested that you try antidepressants. Prescription medications can be part of an overall treatment plan for moderate to severe depression, but it is not the only solution. Especially in cases of mild depression, there are many other things that can alleviate the symptoms, and you might want to try these before using prescription drugs. Here are some suggestions.

 Don't go it alone

 Positive energy is contagious, so if you are depressed, find positive people to support you. You may find that you naturally attract or are attracted to people who feel more negative, which will only cause your own depressed feelings to grow stronger. When you are depressed, you need to find positive people to challenge the negative mindset that keeps depression going strong. This does not mean you should completely reject friends or family members who may also have feelings of depression. After all, you wouldn't want them to reject you. Just be sure to seek out others who can help lift your mood and challenge you to fight your depression.

 Take care of your health

 There is no doubt that the body and mind are one. If you are not well physically, you will not feel well emotionally either. On the other hand, it's much harder to feel depressed when your body is in top condition and your energy is strong. One of the best antidotes to depression is regular exercise. Exercise works because it releases chemicals that make you feel good. These chemicals are called endorphins. Exercise also helps to improve the flow of oxygen through your bloodstream, which increases energy.

 Another way to stay healthy is to eat well. A diet that is based on fruits, vegetables and whole grains will keep your energy stable, while eating processed foods and foods that are loaded with sugar will send you on a roller coaster of ups and downs that can end up being exhausting. Also be sure to get some exposure to natural sunlight every day. It will probably not surprise you that people who spend more time outdoors are often less depressed. Light therapy in the form of a commercial light box can also be used effectively in the treatment of depression.

 Help others

 If you are depressed, you probably don't feel very good about yourself. One way to turn this around is to help others. Whether you do volunteer work or just spend time with a friend who is alone, helping others can be an important part of treatment for depression. When you spend time with other people, especially people in need, you see that everyone struggles with problems. Focusing on the problems of others can be a welcomed distraction from your own problems and depression.

 Do things you enjoy

 Obviously it's hard to be depressed when you're having fun! However, if you suffer from chronic depression, you may avoid doing enjoyable things because one of the symptoms of depression is lack of motivation. Overcoming depression can also become so much the focus of your attention that you approach life with a sense of intensity and the idea that you must work harder to meet your daily responsibilities. This leaves little time for joy. Making time for fun is crucial if you want to overcome depression. Even if you don't "feel like" doing anything, do something anyway. Take a bike ride around the park, play a game or join a friend for a movie. In short, make fun part of your routine. Before you know it, you'll look forward to these enjoyable activities and you will begin to notice that you are having more fun with life than you thought!

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Diet Compliance vs. Cheating – How Strict Should You Be

QUESTION: Hello Tom, I've been doing BFL for the past year, and did well at first, losing 3 dress sizes and 5% body fat, but then I totally hit a plateau and have had no more results since December. I'm wondering if I've been strict enough with my eating

I bought your ebook, Burn The Fat, and I'm very excited about the information I've read so far, but I need some clarification about the eating part.

I've been eating according to the BFL philosophy with one "cheat" day per week. What I'm reading in your Burn The Fat program is instead, to allow myself a couple of "cheat" meals any time during the week or on the weekend, but not to take an entire day off the program.

However, in your list of foods that turn to fat, you mention that certain foods should only be eaten very rarely. Does that mean that they shouldn't even be eaten at a weekly cheat meal? I can live with that, but then, what constitutes a "cheat" meal, (for example, if my favorite hash browns aren't allowed? :)

I know you get a billion emails, but I would really appreciate it if you have time to answer.

Kind regards,

ANSWER: It's not productive in the long term to totally deprive yourself of foods you enjoy. What you have to do is find a sensible way to work even your most "sinful" favorite foods into your diet, but do it in an amount and frequency that doesn't set you back or sabotage your progress. This can be done by allowing yourself some "cheat meals" (some people call them "free meals" or "reward meals.")

One really good way to look at the "cheat meals" concept is in terms of "compliance," which means, what percentage of your meals are following the guidelines of the program and what percentage are off the program.

Too many meals or days off the program and your results are compromised. Too many days in a row eating nothing but "rabbit food" and you go crazy with cravings, right?

How much you need to comply (stick with) your program varies from person to person. It depends a lot on how ambitious your goals are and on how responsive your body is to nutrition and exercise.

When making your decision, keep in mind we all have different genetics and body types, which is something I discuss in great detail in chapter 5 of Burn The Fat, Feed The Muscle ().

Are you a carb-tolerant mesomorph who gains muscle easily and loses fat easily or are you a carb-sensitive endomorph who gains fat easily? Depending on the answer, your diet program may need to be more or less strict than others.

Don't compare yourself to others – you have to get to know your own body type. Some people can "Get away with" more cheat meals and still make progress (Yeah, I hate them too!)

Unless you're a competitor in physique sports like bodybuilding, fitness or figure, or you're getting ready for some type of transformation challenge or photo shoot, I suggest at least 90% compliance.

Whether you adjust your level of compliance above 90% (get more "strict") or below 90% (get more lenient), depends how far away or close you are from achieving your goals, and most importantly, on what kind of results you're getting each week.

If you're complying 90% of the time, and you are getting awesome results, you don't have to change a thing, and you may be able to loosen up your diet a little. I know some people who are definitely only "on the program" 80% or 85% of the time and they look great.

90% compliance means you are following healthy nutritious, fat burning eating guidelines 9 meals out of 10. If you're eating small frequent meals like the burn the fat program suggests, that's 5 small meals a day X 7 days a week = 35 meals. 90% compliance means about 31-32 of those meals are spot-on! The other 3 or 4 are for you to enjoy special occasions, reward yourself, and live a little.

If you're like most people, and you simply want to drop a few pounds, trim a few inches off your waistline and look better in shorts or in a swimsuit for summer, then 100% compliance is unrealistic AND unnecessary. 90% compliance is more realistic as a lifesytle, while being strict enough for most people to get results.

On the other hand, if you had a very ambitious goal like preparing for a figure or fitness competition and you thought you had to reach at least 12 or 13% body fat (which is very low for women), and you knew you would be onstage with judges looking at every inch of your body in a teeny bikini (paying very close attention to whether anything on your butt and thighs was "jiggling"), then you would want to be as strict as possible during the pre contest diet period (100% compliance or very close to it).

Keep in mind also, that this is a competitive situation and every time you "cheat" and your competitors don't cheat, you decrease your probability of placing high in the contests.

Unless you have a competitive physique goal like this, however, then total deprivation of pleasure foods or cheat meals (100% compliance), is not necessary because you always tend to crave what you cannot have. That's a binge waiting to happen.

I prefer this 90 or 95% compliance approach over the "entire day of cheating" approach, because I have seen people use the term "cheat day" pretty darn loosely (basically making it the equivalent of BINGE DAY), and they do a lot of damage in terms of setting their progress back.

They end up frantically playing "catch up" for the better half of the following week with punishing extra exercise and dietary deprivation. Slow and steady is better than binge and punish don't you agree?

Allow yourself some leeway. Enjoy food. Enjoy life. Have your pizza, or chocoloate or your hash browns or whatever makes your stomach happy. It will help, not hurt in the long run. Just be sure to be mindful of your calorie limits, and when you say you are going to comply 90% of the time, then keep your promise to yourself and comply! <<< Watch This Amazing Video For More Information >>>

Cartoon Weight Gain – Is It Contributing To Bigarexia

For years, women have been saying that they are objectified by the media but these days it looks as though guys are getting the same treatment. Everywhere you look the "ideal" male physique is portrayed as being super-buff, with giant pecs, bulging biceps, perfect six-pack abs and a super-trim waist. And it's not just models and movie stars-it's happening in cartoons and with action figures. If it seems that the Batman, Superman, GI Joe or even Star Wars action figure that you bought your kid has a bigger, way more muscular physique than you remember it having when you were a kid, it's not your imagination, they're getting bigger-a lot bigger.

Several studies on the subject done over the last ten years all came to the conclusion that portrayals of the ideal male figure-even cartoon characters and kid's action figures-have become larger-than-life. In her study, Male body image obsession: the number of men with eating disorders and "bigarexia" is rising, researcher Susie Langley says that measurements of children's action figures today have "measurements approaching steroid-enhanced biceps, rippled abs and nipped waist compared to the early G.I. Joe."

Storm Shadow Put On Some Weight Since The 80s

The 1998 study Evolving ideals of male body image as seen through action toys, demonstrated that a "human-sized" GI Joe action-figure in 1964 would have had a waist size of 31.7″, a chest measuring 44.4″, and biceps of 12.2." But the 1998 version-Extreme GI Joe-would have the human equivalent of a 36.5″ waist, a 54.8″ chest and 26.8″ biceps. That's a big difference and he's not alone.

Other action figures with long-term popularity, like Batman, Luke Skywalker and Hans Solo, have also apparently been hitting the gym over the years, because they're all bulking up too. Some action figures like X-Men's Wolverine have physiques that far exceed the muscularity of even the largest competitive bodybuilders. A life-size Wolverine would have 62″ chest and 32′ biceps!

Like the boys' action figures, the ones for girls have been evolving too. Barbie has gotten a lot bustier over the years. There has been a lot of backlash about this from different advocacy groups too. Psychologists and sociologists say that the tiny waisted, super boobed dolls put unrealistic expectations on girls. The result they say is a dramatic increase in the number of girls and young women who suffer from bulimia, anorexia, depression and more.

 But what about boys? How do the super-bulging ripped action figures impact boys and not only when they're young but also when they grow into manhood? Not surprisingly, the number of boys and young men with eating disorders such as anorexia and bulimia on the rise among both male high school and college students. For these guys, even though to the rest of the world they might be in really great shape, to them they fall short of their imagined "ideal."

Incidents of Body Dysmorphic Disorder (BDD) are also on the rise among males. Susie Langley's research shows that incidents of BDD among young men are increasing at a steady pace. BDD is a condition that causes sufferers to become preoccupied with imaginary defects in their physical appearance. Among body builders, you're mostly likely to see muscle dysmorphia-a subclass of BDD which results in a pathological preoccupation with muscularity ("bigarexia"). It's kind of like a reverse anorexia but unlike never being "skinny enough," the bigarexia sufferer can never get "big enough." Though the rest of the world might see a ripped specimen of masculinity, these a guy with bigarexia looks in the mirror and sees himself as being skinny.

So far, men only make up about 10-15% of the cases-up from about 3-5% not that long ago. But even so, eating disorders in men can not only be debilitating, but downright dangerous.

What to eat to gain weight

So what's a guy to do to make sure he stays on the right track and avoids any of these problems? Or if you have children, what do you need to know about eating disorders and what can you do about it to help them? Aside from any psychological or pathological issues, self-esteem seems to be the big culprit. According to Dr. Howard Steiger, a clinical psychologist and director of the eating disorder program at Douglas Hospital in Montreal, most people with eating disorders have unstable self-esteem.

As far your children go, Brian Pronger at the University of Toronto says that we should teach children to look at body images in the same critical way they are told to consider art and literature — to be able to recognize what has merit. "If we were doing the same with physical education, people could learn to have a different reaction to these extreme body images," he says. "They would say, 'Hey, I don't want to be part of this pressure to fall in love with a highly commercialized image.' "

As men, the solution is to be self-confident enough to realize that self-image shouldn't depend on outside images and false perceptions. It's good to workout and workout hard. Guys who train religiously and adhere to strict dieting regimens should be proud. It shows discipline and commitment. But at the same time it's important to focus on what's happening on the inside-no amount of change on the outside will make up for how you feel on the inside. Self-assurance and self-confidence need to come from within, not from someone else's hyped-up unrealistic portrayal of what a guy should be.

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Are Calories Good or Bad


Diet Solution ProgramQ. Is calorie a bad word? A. No, it's not bad—just misunderstood! Most people who use the word calorie simply don't know what it means. Also, in my experience, most people to go pale at the mere mention of the word. Based on those facts alone, I would eliminate calorie from the English vocabulary if I could.

Q. Why is calorie such a misunderstood word?

A. The American public has been told, time and time again, that people who consume more calories than their bodies burn will gain weight. As I explain in The Diet Solution: Start Eating and Start Living, this statement is only partially true. All calories are not created equal; calories consumed from healthy foods and unhealthy foods are quite different.

Q. What exactly is a calorie, then?

A. According to Merriam-Webster's Collegiate Dictionary (11th edition), a calorie is "a unit equivalent to the large calorie expressing heat-producing or energy-producing value in food when oxidized in the body." In plain English, a calorie is a unit of energy released from the food you eat to power the body.

Q. How are calories "burned"?

A. The body needs energy from food—calories—to perform many functions, the most obvious of which are physical activity and exercise. However, the body also requires energy to function at the most basic level: to breathe, digest food, and maintain organs and systems.

Q. How many calories should I eat each day?

A. The short answer is "enough." The calories you consume must provide enough energy for your body to perform all necessary functions and activities—and bring about optimum health. The long answer is that the number of calories needed varies from person to person and depends on weight, foods consumed, sleep, stress and activity levels, age, and a long list of other factors that affect metabolism. In The Diet Solution: Start Eating and Start Living, I provide a calorie equation to help you estimate, according to these factors, how many calories you should consume to lose weight or maintain weight. It also includes charts to help you choose the right sources of those calories to support your efforts.

Watch This Amazing Video For More Information

Q. Is it possible to eat too few calories?

A. Believe it or not, yes! The most serious problem with low-calorie diets is that although they may bring about weight loss, they also can cause serious health problems. One common side effect of low-calorie diets is muscle breakdown, which can occur when the body doesn't consume enough calories from protein. Especially vulnerable is the heart, a muscular organ. If a person does not consume an adequate amount of calories each day, the heart muscle begins to break down, possibly leading to serious cardiac conditions (e.g., cardiac atrophy).

Q. What are the consequences of following low-calorie diets off and on over time?

A. Low-calorie diets typically do not supply enough energy to keep organs and systems healthy. In effect, they can lead to malnourishment. For clients who have repeatedly followed such diets, I recommend high-calorie meal plans that will provide their organs with adequate fuel to repair themselves and regain healthy function. Most of my clients are surprised, at first, to see how much food they can consume on a healthy weight-loss diet—not to mention the high level of health that they can achieve.

Q. Hey, wait—didn't you say that you don't like the word calorie? Then why does the Diet Solution Program suggest calculating calorie requirements?

A. In the Diet Solution Program, calorie calculation is simply a means to an end. You use the ideal number of calories that results from the equation to determine the correct number of servings of each food type for each meal. That's it—from that point on, you can forget about counting calories!

Q. If I don't count calories, then how will I control my eating habits?

A. Use the Allowable Servings Guide in The Diet Solution: Start Eating and Start Living to plan meals. However, over time, you will learn how to meet your body's nutritional needs without referring to the servings guide. Humans are born with the ability to "know" when the body has received enough nourishment and when it needs more. My professional experience indicates that, unfortunately, most yo-yo dieters and other people who have battled weight problems don't know how to "listen" to the body's cues in response to the foods and portions they consume. The good news is that this ability can be (re)learned.

Q. What do you mean by "listen" to my body?

A. The Diet Solution Program is a lifestyle shift that teaches you how to determine the best foods and portions for your metabolic type. Even after just days on the plan, you will learn to pay attention to how you feel after eating. For many people, this experience of "listening" to the body will be new. However, by letting your body be your guide, you will learn how to eat your way to optimum health.

Q. Can I really expect to maintain a healthy weight without counting calories or referring to servings guides or other charts?

A. Yes! It's how I live my life now, and you, too, can learn to recognize when your body is adequately nourished. After many years of dieting, I reawakened my body's innate ability to tell me when I've had enough food and when I need more by following the same plan I present in the Diet Solution Program. Every day is different; some days I require more food and others less, depending on my levels of exercise, stress, and even hormones. But I don't need to count calories to know whether I've had enough; my body tells me, and I know how to listen. Whatever you do, don't be lured into the trap of forever counting calories, because that approach is not sustainable—or healthy—in the long term.

Stop counting calories and download your own copy of these Fat Burning and Healthy Meal Plans right away.

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5 Reasons that I Think Treadmill and Elliptical Machine Workouts are a Waste of Time

Now that I pissed off all of the treadmill and elliptical machine worshipers… let me say that if you truly enjoy mindlessly pumping away on a treadmill or elliptical (or exercise bike for that matter too), then by all means, keep doing what you enjoy, because enjoying your exercise is one of the most important aspects to sticking with any exercise program…

However, don't say that I didn't warn you that you were wasting your time with all that mindless cardio machine boredom.

If I haven't mentioned it before, I don't believe in cardio machines, and to be quite honest, I don't think I've personally used a treadmill, elliptical, or exercise bike for at least the last 7-8 years or so.elliptical machine cardio workout

As a matter of fact, I don't even use cardio machines anymore for warmups before a workout (I did before occasionally)… Nowadays, I prefer to do dumbbell or kettlebell snatches and swings mixed with bodyweight exercises as the perfect full body warmup at the beginning of my workouts.

So why do I have such hatred for cardio machines?  Well, here are 5 reasons:

1) Treadmills, ellipticals, and exercise bikes are mind-blowingly BOOOORING!  Personally, I can think of a million things I'd rather be doing than pedaling my way to nowhere!

2) Mindless steady state cardio exercise while watching TV or reading creates a mind / body disconnect resulting in poor results from your exercise routine.  Instead of reading a gossip magazine or watching a cheesy reality TV show on the TV screen in front of the cardio machine, a REAL workout consists of actually having your mind engaged strongly in what your body is doing!

3) I've seen studies that indicated that treadmill running may be less effective than outdoor running for various reasons such as stride abnormalities on treadmills vs natural running, slightly less caloric burn compared to outdoor running, etc.

…although I never recommend just "jogging" anyway (or as Ron Burgundy would say, "yogging") … Instead, variable intensity walks / runs or sprints are so much more effective, training your heart rate in a much wider range instead of just the same pace during the entire workout.  I choose to do a lot of hiking up mountains and also wind sprints, but never steady state jogging.

4) Treadmills and ellipticals are ridiculously expensive and a waste of money for people that workout at home… there's so many better options for home workouts you could have spent your money on rather than wasting it on a treadmill, bike, or elliptical.

The perfect home gym setup is MUCH cheaper… there's no reason you need anything other than a jump rope, bodyweight exercises, a few dumbbells, stability ball, maybe a few kettlebells (if you want to get fancy), and perhaps high tension bands for some more variety.  And of course… the great outdoors has some of the best workout options of all… hiking, mountain biking, kayaking, skiing, sports, and more! 

5) Treadmills and elliptical machines are just a very ineffective way to workout compared to other options.  The metabolic response is much lower compared to the types of workouts ideas that I describe below.  Why should you do treadmill or elliptical workouts when you can get better results by doing more interesting forms of training that actually stimulate a fat-burning hormonal response and stimulate your metabolism to a greater extent…

So what are the alternatives to treadmills, exercise bikes, and elliptical trainers? Here are TEN of my favorite types of alternative workouts:

    1. jumping rope – great mind-body connection – try speed jumping, crossovers, and double jumps once you get skilled at it.  An amazing metabolic exercise with one of the cheapest pieces of equipment available.  There's a reason that every world class boxer uses this exercise!
    2. kettlebell training – nothing will get your heart pounding like high repetition KB swings and snatches or clean & presses (can be done with dumbbells too, but I prefer KBs).  Personally, I think one of the most intense body changing exercises ever invented are double kettlebell snatches (snatching both kettlebells at the same time overhead from the floor). 

Well, I hope this article helps give you ideas on how you can get away from all of these mindless and ineffective treadmill and elliptical trainer machines (and exercise bike) workouts that are just wasting your time and energy that could be better spent on more effective workouts.

If you want maximum results, it's all about your intensity levels and also your mind-body connection… and that all important mind-body connection is usually missing when it comes to elliptical and treadmill workouts, that most people do while watching TV or reading.

Remember to try out these awesome 101 killer bodyweight exercises from world class trainer Craig Ballantyne!

2 Cardio Mistakes You’re Still Making

The controversies over cardio for fat loss are endless: steady state versus intervals, fed versus fasted, long and easy versus short and intense, and so on. Obviously there is a lot of interest in cardio training and how to do it right. Sadly, most people are still doing 2 things terribly wrong and it's killing their results…… As best as I can figure, there are two major reasons why people are still mucking up their cardio programs for fat loss.


Most people aren't burning enough darn calories.
Why? Well, I guess they are too busy worrying about the "proper" type of exercise (which machine or activity), the mode (steady state or intervals), the "optimal" ratio of intervals, or the "best" duration.
Some people coast along on the treadmill at 2.3 miles per hour or some similar sloth-like pace and they think that just by hitting a TIME goal, such as 45 or 60 minutes, that with "X" duration completed, they are assured to get the results they want.
On the other extreme, we have folks who have found or created some mega-intense, super-duper short training protocol like the "4-minute wonder workout from Japan." Just because the workout is high in intensity and it is performed in intervals, they too think they are assured to get the results they want.
What's missing in both cases is the realization that total fat loss over time is a function of total calories burned over time (assuming you don't blow your diet, of course). Success Story!
Total calories burned is a product of INTENSITY times DURATION, not intensity OR duration.
Too much focus on one variable at the exclusion of the other can lead to a less than optimal total calorie burn and disappointing results. And remember, intensity and duration are *variables* not absolutes! ("Variable" means you can change them… even if your "guru" says you can't!)
When you understand the relationship and interplay between INTENSITY X DURATION you will find a "SWEET SPOT" where the product of those variables produces the maximal calorie burn and maximum fat loss, based on your current health condition and your need for time efficiency.


As best as I can figure, there is one whopper of a mistake that is still KILLING most people's cardio programs and that is…
Way too much focus on WHAT you are burning during the workout – fats or carbohydrates – also known as "substrate utilization."
This idea comes from the notorious "fat burning zone" myth which actually tells people to exercise SLOWER and LESS intensely to burn more fat.
Hold on a minute. Pop quiz. Which workout burns more calories?
(A) A 30 minute leisurely stroll through the park
(B) A 30 minute, sweat-pouring, heart-pounding, lung-burning run?
Like, DUH!
And yet we have trainers, authors and infomercial gurus STILL telling us we have to slow down if we want to burn more fat??? Bizarre.

The reason people still buy it is because the "fat burning zone" myth sounds so plausible because of two little science facts:

And that's the problem. You should be focusing on total calories and total fat burned during the workout and all day long, not just what type or percentage of fuel you are burning during the workout.

It's not that fat oxidation doesn't matter, but what if you have a high percentage of fat oxidation but an extremely low number of calories burned?

If you really want to be in the "fat burn zone," you could sit on your couch all day long and that will keep you there quite nicely because "couch sitting" is a really low intensity ("fat-burning") activity.

(Of course, "couch sitting" only burns 37 calories per half hour…)<<< Watch This Amazing Video For More Information >>>


In both cases, the solution to burning more fat is drop dead simple: Focus your attention on how you can burn more TOTAL calories during your workout and all day long.
If you want to burn more fat, burn more calories and you can do that by manipulating ANY of the variables : intensity, duration and also frequency.
If you build your training program around this concept, you will be on the right track almost every time.


Naturally, we could argue that it's not quite this simple and that there are hundreds of other reasons why your cardio program might not be working… and I would agree, of course. But on the exercise side, the ideas above should be foremost in your mind.
On the nutrition side, you have to get your act together there too.
For example, many people increase their food intake at the same time as they start a cardio training program thereby putting back in every calorie they burned during the workout! Then some of them have the nerve to say, "SEE, cardio doesn't work!"

Incidentally, this is the exact reason that a few studies show that adding cardio or aerobic training to a diet "did not improve fat loss": It's not because the cardio didn't work, it was because the researchers didn't control for diet and the subjects ate more!!

It should go without saying that nutrition is the foundation on which every fat loss program is built.

Choose the combination of type, intensity, duration and frequency that suits your lifestyle and preferences the best, and WORK THE VARIABLES to get the fat loss results you want, but whichever cardio program you choose, remember that a solid fat burning nutrition program, such as Burn The Fat Feed The Muscle is necessary to help you make the most of it.

1 Day of My Fat Burning Meal Plans (and my hot dog bender confession)

Although I always try to do my best with nutrition (probably 95% compliance), I've admitted before that I'm not perfect. Heck, nobody's perfect.

And last week was an example…eating hot dogs

I went on vacation with about 10 of my buddies last week… a nice little tropical party vacation!  So obviously, there was a good deal of drinking and eating just about anything and everything going on during the entire vacation.

I gained 8 lbs in 1 week!  Yes, us fitness pros are not always "fitness robots"… we are human.

I honestly don't think I've eaten a single hot dog in about 5 or 6 years… but one night after a long night out with the guys, we came back and I threw down 3 hot dogs in one sitting.  In retrospect, that was nasty… but at 3am, with nothing else in our vacation house for food, I gave in, and found myself stuffing my face with something I usually view as disgusting food.

But I knew this all would happen… as a matter of fact, I don't stress about going on vacations like that and knowing that I'm going to gain weight, because I know that I have 100% control over my body and can lose it again in a snap.

And true to form, in just 7 days since returning from vacation, I've already lost the 8 lbs that I gained on vacation.  But I've done this for years now, and have learned how to fully be in control of my weight at any time.  I know that once I return home and return to my extremely healthy nutrition and hardcore training program, I'll be back in top shape within a week or two.

That's a great example of how if you eat 95% of the time like we teach in our Fat Burning Kitchen program – that you end up getting total control over your cravings, appetite, and ability to stay as lean as you want at any given time.

So now that I'm back to my normal healthy nutrition ways, I'm going to show you some of my typical meals below.

Being in the position I'm in as a nutrition author and fitness professional, almost everywhere I go I get questions about nutrition, and most of the time, people want to hear ACTUAL examples of what I eat on a daily basis to stay super lean.

So instead of talking about more theory, here's an example of exactly what I ate yesterday (keep in mind this is not a prescription, because everyone has different food intolerances and allergies, but it's just my personal example of how I keep it healthy).

As you look at my typical daily meals, take notice that I do eat some carbs, but I don't eat any breads or pasta at all (except maybe on cheat days). Essentially, I get almost all of my carbs from fruits, lots of veggies, and the little bit of raw honey that I use in my daily teas.
Breakfast today – 9am:

3 whole eggs (yes, including the super-healthy egg yolks) scrambled with TONS of veggies (onions, mushrooms, peppers, diced squash, and chopped spinach)
1 large chicken sausage (organic free range chicken with NO nitrates, nitrites, or preservatives… only chicken and spices)
Half of a red grapefruit
1 large cup of yerba mate/green/mint tea (this is my new favorite tea I found at Whole Foods… it's a mix of yerba mate, green tea, and mint tea, and it's freakin amazing!)
Lunch – noon:

1 cup greek yogurt (the Fage brand is the highest protein yogurt I've ever seen) mixed with 1/2 cup cottage cheese combined with pecans, almonds, hemp seeds, frozen goji berries, and frozen blueberries. A little bit of stevia and cinnamon for sweetness and extra flavor.
Mid afternoon snack – 3pm:

1 large organic apple sliced up with almond butter on each slice.
Super high intensity weight training workout from 5-6pm
Post workout shake/meal – 6:15pm:

my typical blender mix of raw grass-fed milk, a chopped up frozen banana, some frozen pitted cherries, a tablespoon or so of real maple syrup, and 2 heaping tablespoons of organic cocoa powder. Plus I throw a scoop of raw grass-fed whey protein (the highest quality whey that I've found) into the blender too.
Dinner – 9pm:

My "Italian blend" recipe — This is basically a spaghetti and meatsauce meal but without the spaghetti, and tons of veggies instead.

I use grass-fed bison sausages (again, no nitrates, nitrites, or preservatives of any kind…just grass-fed bison and spices) — fyi – you can find good quality grass-fed meats and sausages at this site

…and then I use a huge cooking dish on the stove to mix in any and every type of vegetable I can find in my fridge (zucchini, onions, garlic, mushrooms, snow peas, peppers, asparagus…and whatever else I have laying around).

I mix the grass-fed bison sausage and sauteed veggies with a tomato sauce and some extra virgin olive oil.  Sometimes I also mix in a container of organic ricotta cheese (grass fed if possible) into the whole mix, which makes the whole dish taste more like lasagna…delicious!

Top the whole thing with some fresh grated parmesan cheese and you've got a super-nutritious dinner with high nutrient density and no pasta (which would just pack on the pounds).

I also had a delicious side-salad of arugula, diced yellow peppers, and half of a small avocado.
Late night snack – midnight:

A handful of pistachio nuts and a cup of chamomile tea
So that is just 1 example of how a typical day might look for me. I mix it up and eat a variety of other things as well, but these are some pretty frequent meals that I use to stay super lean, but maintain muscle.

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2 Pre-Meal Tricks to Control Your Blood Sugar Response and Stay in Fat-Burning Mode

In several other articles, I've told you about some of the really cool experiments that Tim Ferriss has done in his new book that I read recently, The 4-Hour Body, and I wanted to show you this one today, because it's pretty cool, and also a simple thing to do…

You may have heard different websites or anecdotes in the past about these 3 substances and their possible effects on reducing the blood sugar response of a meal (taken either before or during a meal), which can, essentially help to keep insulin levels lower post-meal and keep the body from depositing extra body fat.  Maintaining lower and more stable blood sugar levels also helps to prevent cravings.

These 3 substances that he tested pre-meal are:

But do they actually work in controlling blood sugar response from a meal?

Well, that's what Tim decided to test out on himself as one of his experiments that he did in The 4-Hour Body.  Tim actually used a blood sugar meter (normally for diabetics) that attached probes into his abdomen to get constant measurements and graphs of his blood sugar and response to different foods and meals.

In his tests, he tested ingesting all 3 of these "substances" before meals in separate tests.

The results?

The pre-meal vinegar

The vinegar failed!

Tim tested both white vinegar and balsamic vinegar and neither showed any lowering effect on his blood sugar in his tests.  He even drank 3 Tbsp+ of vinegar before meals as a last attempt to see if vinegar could have any blood sugar controlling effects.  But he found no effect.

Tim includes some theories in his book on why the vinegar didn't have any effect.

The pre-meal lemon juice

Better news with the lemon juice! 

In Tim's personal tests, he used 3 Tbsp of fresh-squeezed lemon juice (not store-bought stuff with preservatives and artificial additives) prior to his meals and this lowered his blood sugar response to meals (compared to his controls) by approximately 10%.

Remember that lowering the blood sugar response to a meal can help to control insulin levels and therefore keep your body in fat-burning mode for longer…and prevent cravings too!

cinnamonThe pre-meal cinnamon

Yet another score!

If you've read my articles in the past, it's no secret that cinnamon can be powerful in terms of helping to blunt blood sugar response to a meal.  In fact, I regularly take 2 cinnamon capsules (approx 1 gram) if I know I'm going to eat a meal that contains moderate or high levels of carbohydrates.  Some studies show that cinnamon can reduce the glycemic response of a meal up to 29%!

But there are different types of cinnamon…so which is best?

Tim actually tested 3 types of cinnamon in how they affected his blood sugar response to meals.

Saigon cinnamon (aka Vietnamese cinnamon) was found in Tim's tests to be the most effective at controlling blood sugar.

Cassia cinnamon came in 2nd place in effectiveness

Ceylon cinnamon came in 3rd place in Tim's tests in effectiveness in controlling blood sugar response to a meal.foods for a flat stomach

Tim did note however that all 3 types of cinnamon helped control blood sugar to some extent.  I personally like to use cinnamon in smoothies, in yogurt or oatmeal, with apples and almond butter, or in capsule form before any meals that are going to have more than 35 grams of carbohydrates.

Keep in mind that if you take medications, you need to consult with your doctor to make sure that cinnamon use does not interfere with the medications (especially with blood thinners).  Tim also warns that 4 grams per day (about 1.5 teaspoons) is probably the max amount of cinnamon that anyone should take.

So there you go!  Lemon juice and cinnamon are the 2 tricks that Tim revealed through his own blood sugar testing that helped to control blood sugar response, fight cravings, and therefore can help you to maintain lower insulin levels and stay in fat-burning mode longer!

This is just one of the dozens of really cool experiments that Tim did on himself and with athletes, etc in his new book, The 4-Hour Body.   

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9 Aspects you MUST Focus on to Add the Most Inches to Your Vertical Leap

I'm going to go over the nine things in a vertical training program; the nine things you need to focus on in order to obtain the maximum explosion that your body has.

The nine things work together in a synergistic effect so that when you train one of them, it might help you in another aspect, so that when you are improving all of the aspects of the jump training program you're going to notice that they're all going to work together. We call that synergy; it's kind of the buzzword when things work together; the one plus one equals three kind of thing. The parts of the jump training program working together will create a whole that is greater than each one working individually.

#1 Strength:

The first is strength, your ability to generate force. We're also talking about two different kinds of strength. We're working on fast twitch muscle strength; not just the ability to lift something up, but to do so quickly.

#2 Quickness:

The second aspect is quickness. How fast you are able to generate that force is going to create the explosion. Strength plus quickness equals explosion.

It's a pretty simple formula but it makes sense. If you're able to generate a thousand pounds of force but you can do it in a split second, it's going to create some propulsion. So strength and quickness are the top two facets of a vertical jump program.

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#3 Neurological Recruitment:

The third one you may never have heard of: it's called neurological recruitment. For example, when you do any type of exercise, your body is recruiting a certain amount of muscle fibers and is recruiting it in a certain way so you can generate your force and quickness. You can train your body to recruit more muscle fibers and you can train them to do it quicker.

To give you an example of why we're not all using our muscle recruiting to our top capacity:
We all have something in our bodies called the Golgi tendon and that's something that keeps our bodies from using too much force. You've heard of people being able who have been able to save their children from underneath a car. They have a rush of adrenaline which bypasses the Golgi tendon which would usually stop the muscle contraction and lets them generate all the force that they're capable of. So it's kind of neat to know that we have the capacity to do a whole lot know than even our body will allow us to do unless we have enough adrenaline or energy or focus going on. So neurological recruitment will be important.

#4 Fuel:

The fourth one is fuel. You need fuel to contract your muscles properly. You need carbs and energy and denizen triphosphate in order to have that workout force. You also need the right proteins, amino acids, carbs and calories in order to build the muscles properly.

Now listen to this; it's very important: If you're not getting those things to build the muscles correctly, you're workouts are not nearly as effective as they could be. Not nearly. Probably 50 % effective. Your eating correctly, drinking a protein shake after your workout, making sure you get carbs, calories, proteins, and amino acids–that is going to make a huge difference. So that's fuel.

#5 Stability & Balance:

The fifth one is stability and balance. If your legs and calves are strong, you're generating a ton of force to propel yourself. But if your ankle structure is wobbly, when that force is created, some of that is going to be absorbed into that unstable structure, and you're going to lose some of your jumping capacity. So the more you can strengthen your joints and surrounding structures, the more efficient that's going to be as you drive through.

The balance issue is, maybe you've had the time when you've had a breakaway and you're going down the court and you go off one foot and you've lost your balance kind of and it's completely messed up, your legs wobbly, your off balance… your stability and explosion are just going to grease the wheels of your vertical explosion.

#6 & #7 Form & Flexibility:

The sixth and seventh ones are form and flexibility. The form and flexibility work together. The reason why is that flexibility allows your muscles to do a full range of motion. For example if you rear back to hit a punching bag, if you only rear back a little bit to hit the punching bag, you might hit it pretty hard, but imagine if you reared all the way back and you had plenty of flexibility and range of motion so that you could take full advantage of full momentum of hitting that punching bag. It's going to be a whole lot harder of a hit.

The same is true in jumping. Probably by making a few tweaks to your current form and being able to make a increasing your flexibility and range of motion, being able to bring your arms completely back and being able to swing them completely up, and transfer and forward momentum to upward momentum toward the rim or the net or whatever your sport is. I've seen a lot of people, they run up to the rim, stop on a dime, and then jump straight up. They're losing a lot of forward momentum that could be transferred to upward momentum instead of stopped in going straight up.

#8 Body Composition:

The eighth one is very simple, it's just body composition. If you have excess fat on your body, it's going to be affected by gravity and it's going to weigh you down a little more. SO if you can keep yourself between 8 and 14 percent body fat you're going to be in an optimal position to go against gravity.

#9 Hereditary Factors:

Finally there's something that we can't really affect but that we should be aware of: hereditary factors. We all have so much fast muscle fiber, we have so much muscle fiber period, and we all have so much slow twitch muscle fiber. So some people are going to be more natural jumpers than others. But that doesn't mean we can't strengthen the fibers we do have to their maximum capacity.

Unfortunately you cannot convert slow muscle fiber to fast muscle fiber yet; when we can, we're all going to be jumping out of the gym. So these are the nine aspects of a jump training program. Try and understand each one of them. They're pretty simple; and as you improve on each one of them. you're going to notice a vast improvement in how high you can jump and just the smoothness and overall feel… You're going to just start feeling light on your feet, anytime you just want to jump up, pop up, anytime to dunk, or slam a volleyball, or block someone's shot, whatever it is.

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Body Wraps and Waist Wraps – The difference between losing fat and losing inches

QUESTION: Dear Tom: What's the deal with "body wraps"? Do they really shrink fat cells or this just another weight loss scam?

ANSWER: Body wraps do not shrink fat cells or burn body fat – no matter what type of wrap: bandages soaked in herbs, minerals, enzymes, plastic, foil, vinyl, seaweed, clay, mud – it doesn't matter, body wraps don't burn fat.

And those "sauna wraps" or rubber "wraps" that go around your waist? They can't "burn" an ounce of fat either.

Fat can only be lost with a caloric deficit from a reduction in food intake, an increase in activity or ideally, a combination of both.

Whenever you see fat loss claims for wraps or any other product which doesn't involve nutrition or exercise, you could certainly call that a "scam" and you should always stay away, no matter how compelling the sales pitch.

Furthermore, the companies making fat loss claims would be in hot water with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) if they were investigated because claims for bodyfat reduction from wraps cannot be supported with scientific evidence.

The FTC as well as various state attourney general's offices have already taken action against body wrap companies in the past for false advertsing and unsupported claims. Some simply had to stop making false claims, others had to pay stiff fines as well.

Some of these products defintely CAN take off inches (for example reduce your waist measurement), but it's temporary and it's not fat, its water weight and fluid.

Remember, "inches" and "fat" are not the same thing.

Suppose this claim is made in an advertisement:

* Lose Up To 15 inches in 1 Hour! *

This is legal advertising because the claim "lose inches" might be supportable (if enough circumference measurements are taken with a tape measure at enough sites, that might add up to a total of 15 inches in circumference loss)

However I feel that these types of claims are misleading (and probably intentionally so), because "inches" is not the same as body fat but you might easily confuse "inches" with "fat."

Contrast that claim with this one:

* LoseBody Fat without diet or exercise in 1 Hour!*

That claim is totally false and usupportable.

Again, body wraps cannot burn fat or "shrink fat cells."

If fat loss could be achieved with body wraps it would be very easy to test and prove.

Body composition (bodyfat) testing (rather than measurements of inches) could be performed before and after the wrap, and the answer ("does it work") would become easily exposed.

Since it doesn't work, you won't find any wrap people accepting your challenge to allow you to do independent body composition testing, nor will you find a shred of scientific evidence showing reduction of bodyfat from wraps.

Unfortunately, bogus fat loss claims are still quite widespread, as a simple Internet search for "body wrap" will demonstrate. The most frequently used claims however, are for loss of "inches." <<< Watch This Amazing Video For More Information >>>

The inches lost simply come from loss of fluid. And guess what – those inches (and or water weight) will come right back in days if not hours, as soon as you completely re-hydrate yourself.

Other claims made for body wraps include detoxification, improved cirulation and tighter, smoother and clearer skin.

Most health and fitness researchers, as well as government agencies such as the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) will tell you that these claims fall somewhere between "debatable" and "a bunch of pseudoscientific garbage."

Some experts even warn that certain types of wraps can be dangerous, mainly due to the rapid and excessive fluid loss/dehydration.

If you want to get wrapped because you find it relaxing or you consider it a "pampering", "spa-like" treatment, that's one thing. Just remember, wraps have absolutely nothing to do with fat loss.

I'd suggest completely avoiding any companies that advertise fat loss when it's only water and inches you're losing, because a dishonest company is one you don't want to patronize at all.

One last thing — I felt this was a timely question because although "body wraps" have been around for ages and it's old news, I noticed that infomercials for those "waist belts" are back on TV and I see that they are replaying them over and over again, which means people are buying it.

Everything I just said about body wraps also applies to those rubber waist belts too.

On a web search I just did for those rubber belt waist wraps, I noticed some of the websites are STILL making claims like "Melt fat" (totally bogus, unsupported and illegal claim).

Other sites seem to be wary of the FTC paying them a visit, so they do a whole song and dance around the legal issues by saying stuff like, "sweat away inches," "therapeutic heat", "target your problem areas" and so on.

Even if these claims are not illegal, the promotions are still deceptive:

The professional fitness model is pictured taking off the rubber belt, revealing ripped six pack abs below (as if those abs are a result of wearing the belt… Wishful thinking!) These are professional models, folks. They got the abs the same way everyone else with abs got them – with a calorie deficit from a combination of strict diet and hard training!

Wraps and waist belt products that make fat loss claims are scams, plain and simple. Those claims are also illegal.

Programs like Burn The Fat, Feed The Muscle are focused on FAT LOSS, not water loss or loss of inches. When body fat decreases, circumferences in inches will also decrease, but "fat" lost and "inches" lost are not one in the same.