Daily Archives: Dec 2, 2011
If you have 2 bananas, and they are identical in size and shape with one costing 20p and one costing 30p which one do you choose? The cheapest? How many people would change their mind if the most expensive one was organic – probably not very many of us I suspect – but should we? Is organic produce worth the extra cost?
The sad reality of everything you see in the supermarket today is that it is produced more for how it looks on the shelf than how it tastes in your mouth. Consumers, in general, have a preconception of what a product should look like and therefore want things to be a certain size, a certain shape and a certain colour. Even with famine in the world produce is regularly disregarded as being good enough to make the supermarket shelves because it’s too small, the wrong shape or the wrong colour.
Crops are continually being cross-bred and genetically modified to bring an end product that lasts longer and looks better on our supermarket shelves. Sadly the nutrient values of produce and livestock are being disregarded. A US study found that the overall nutrition of GM food and cross-breeding is that an apple purchased today contains half the vitamins and goodness of just 15-20 years ago! The list of foods went on, and in almost every single case vitamin levels in fruit and veg were significantly decreased.
The biggest head screw for choosing organic food is to accept that the way the food looks is not important. Obviously you don’t want to pick something that is bruised or going mouldy, but don’t deviate away from going organic because the sweet potatoes are darker skinned, or a much darker orange. If you grow your own veg or fruit (I urge you to do this, even if its just tomatoes or strawberries during the summer) you will realise that it looks a lot more like the organic veg you buy in the supermarket than the non-organic equivalents, yet tastes amazing.
A lot of people think they know what organic means, but when asked can’t really provide a definitive answer – so lets cover that off. The word “organic” refers to the way farmers grow and process agricultural products, such as fruits, vegetables, grains, dairy products and meat.
Organic farming does away with modern conventional measures for weed and pest controls such as pesticides, herbicides, chemical fertilisers, GH (growth hormone) being injected into animals to make them grow bigger, and antibiotics (even when animals aren’t sick) added to the feed of animals to prevent disease and illness. I actually find it very ironic that “natural” competitors and athletes are consuming meat that has been pumped full of substances deemed illegal for human consumption and by most sporting bodies! Cattle are a prime example of this, with trenbelone (perhaps the strongest steroid of all) and growth hormone regularly administered to increase feed efficiency and to grow more meat (more meat = more profit for the farmer).
Instead of the above conventional measures organic farming looks towards organic measures such as natural fertilisers (manure, compost etc), crop rotation, hand weeding, mulch, the purposeful addition of beneficial insects or birds to eat pests and stop disease that may ruin crops (the same train of thought for getting a cat to catch a mouse), balanced diets for animals and access to their natural feed or organic feed (such as cows being fed grass instead of grain), clean animal housing to prevent disease.
Its easy to bring organic food into your diet, without having to ask your bank manager for a loan – its just a case of assessing how much you want to invest into buying organic produce. Personally I can’t afford to purchase free range, organic and grass fed everything and you probably wont be able to either – it’s just not feasible for the majority of us – especially those interested in increasing lean mass or strength where a surplus of calories is often required. I therefore pick and choose what organic food I do buy, and this is probably the best option for the majority of you too. I’ve provided some details below to try and spark your imagination on how you can cheaply add in a bit of organic produce to your diet and eliminate some of the chemicals you may be inadvertently consuming.
Organic Milk – it is only a few pence more than regular milk. My recommendation is to go for organic semi-skimmed milk as opposed to full skimmed milk as the full skimmed milk has some of the goodies (such as vitamins) that make milk worth drinking removed. Most supermarkets stock their own branded organic milk, and if they don’t they usually stock a branded organic milk product. Its interesting to note how much shorter the use by dates on organic milk is in comparison to non organic milk –which makes you wonder just what gets added to normal milk to make it last those extra few days?!
Organic Oats – You’ll probably have to pay about 50p extra for a box of these, but for something that is almost guaranteed to be a staple in the diet of any bodybuilder, athlete or fitness fanatic, and often consumed in vast quantities, going organic here is a good option.
Vegetables – Organic veg is actually decently priced with the only negative being that you get less product or a smaller product for your money. However, how many people can honestly claim not to waste some of the veg they buy because they simply don’t need the world’s biggest bag of carrots or a mutant sized cauliflower? Carrot’s are a prime example – a big bag costs about £1, but half of these go soft and mouldy before we can ever consume them all in my household. We have opted to buy organic carrots which cost the same amount, but for a smaller bag, and although we get less we waste none.
Organic Yoghurt – Like milk, opting for organic yoghurt won’t hit you in the pocket as the price difference is almost negligible. Most leading brand natural yoghurts are now organic anyway, with Yeo Valley and Rachel’s providing a range of flavours and tub sizes to choose from.
Personally, I believe gaining quality muscle is the hardest goal to achieve within the realms of resistance training. It is harder than getting ripped and harder than increasing your strength, in my opinion. Fortunately, I am not an ectomorph therefore I can gain muscle with the right level of effort relatively easily. Having said that, I have many friends and people who ask me how to gain muscle as an ectomorph. For those who are unsure, an ectomorph is a body type whereby you’re naturally skinny generally with low body fat. As a result, their metabolism runs at the speed of light making it hard to gain size! Here are my top 3 tips for all ectomorphs who cannot gain size; to me it is all in your eating habits! Try these for size!
For muscle mass and fat loss you will often hear about the importance of muscle frequency, and there is good reason for that – it works! However, when you are looking to add muscle mass and you have a naturally ultra fast metabolism eating solid meals every 2-3 hours can fuel the motor, making it harder to gain size! As an extreme ectomorph, this is the kind of sample diet I would recommend.
Based on a 200lbs male athlete
Wake up – 2 scoops of PhD Whey HT+
Breakfast (40 minutes later) – 10 egg whites, 2 whole eggs, 80g oats, handful of blueberries, 1 banana, 1 pro-biotic yogurt, 2 slices of white bread with jam.
Mid-morning – 2 chicken breasts, 1 large avocado, broccoli, cauliflower and a handful of almonds.
Lunch – 150g lean mince beef, 125g brown pasta, tomato & onion sauce, mixed greens.
Mid-afternoon – 2 scoops of Gaspari Real Mass, with 1 large tablespoon of crunchy peanut butter.
Post-workout – 2 scoops of CNP Pro-Recover
Supper – 150g lean steak, 2 whole eggs, 400g baked potato, mixed greens.
Later on – PhD Growth factor 50 Brownie
Before bed – 2 scoops of PhD 6Hr Blend, 150g cottage cheese and 1 large tablespoon of crunchy peanut butter.
As you can see, you get the bulk of your complex carbohydrates from breakfast, lunch and supper. In between you are still getting plenty of calories but not so many from complex carbohydrates. What this does is help prevent the speeding up of your metabolism, and when you do have a carb meal the quantity is so large your body is almost forced to grow! Remember, this is specifically for a hard gainer; the type of person who could eat a kilo of chocolate and have MacDonald’s between meals as a snack and still lose weight!
As we touched on in point one, your 3 pivotal meals of the day are significantly larger than normal. This is in place to overload the body with calories at certain points, so you are in fact getting a lot of complex carbohydrates it is just that you are not spacing them out so much. This means that your metabolism isn’t able to burn off all the calories so easily, leaving a surplus for growth!
There are a couple of times in the day where we really load up the calories. The first being breakfast, where you’re getting a load of fast and slow digesting carbohydrates from oats and white bread as well as fruit and yogurt. This will really help drive nutrients into the muscle cell and saturate the body with calories, creating a surplus. For the average guy, you wouldn’t require this level of nutrients but for an extremely hard gainer from experience I believe you do at breakfast! Later on at night you’re having a PhD Growth Factor 50 bar, a delicious way to get in muscle building calories. Usually, I wouldn’t advise you take in this level of carbohydrates this time of night but it is when your metabolism is at its slowest. This represents the perfect chance to load the body with muscle building calories.
As you can see, it is about manipulating certain nutrients at certain times of the day. Having used this very approach on many people who have really problems gaining muscle, I really believe in this kind of approach. I have found that many of them have actually maintained great condition because of their body type, so they literally build muscle whilst remaining pretty lean!
The timed carb diet is another option to anyone wanting to drop body fat. Like the ketosis diet, it is for the most part, low carb. The difference with the timed carb diet however is that you are allowed carbohydrates post-workout. There are a number of reasons for this and a number of reasons that I believe this diet to be the superior one for dropping body fat and maintaining muscle mass.
Firstly I will discuss how to go about actually doing a timed cab diet. The basics of it are as follows:
- Eat as few carbs as possible except post workout
- Post-workout you can have 60-100g fast acting carbs
- After this you can have a meal of 40/30/30 (protein, carbs, fats)
- Once that meal is over there are no more carbs until the next workout.
- Don’t eat carbs on non-training days
- 1 day per week you can have a carb up day.
- Do not eat more than 2000 calories over maintenance on the carb up day.
Some other important things to remember are these. As you are reducing carbohydrates, your body needs a preferred energy source. This means that you must increase your fat intake to avoid your body converting protein into glucose. Fats should make up about 50% of your calorie intake. You must also make sure that you are achieving a calorie deficit or else you will not lose fat.
So why is the timed carb diet superior to other types of diets? Well lets take a look at the problems with other diets.
The standard low fat, low calorie diet is the most common diet to find people choosing. Its obvious and its basic. Just reduce calories and you will lose weight. This is true! However you will also lose muscle! When consuming carbs, your body produces insulin. Insulin will block the enzymes needed to break down bodyfat for energy. When the carbohydrate stores are used up your body will convert protein into glucose. This protein comes from the protein you ingest or worse yet the protein that makes up your muscles. This is obviously not what bodybuilders or anyone wanting to lose fat wants. The other option is a keto diet or low carb diet. This is another good option but the main problem is that it leaves you feeling tired, grumpy and certainly not able to train anywhere near as hard as you could if you had some carbs in your diet. You also go mad trying to achieve ketosis, then if you have one slight slip up and eat even 1 banana you are out of ketosis and your hard work is undone.
With the timed carb diet none of these issues occur. Your body uses fat as a preferred energy source so that protein is spared, you don’t suffer with lack of energy, you don’t need to worry about coming out of ketosis and you wont go too insane for carb cravings.
So lets look at an example timed carb diet where you would be training in the evening:
8:00am – 4 omega 3 eggs + 4 egg whites
10:00am – 150g salmon + green salad with olive oil dressing
12:00pm – 50g whey isolate + 1 Tblspoon peanut butter
2:30pm – 150g chicken + handful of almonds
4:15pm – 50g whey isolate
5:00pm – train
6:00pm – 50g whey isolate +60g maltodextrin
7:00pm – 8oz steak + 200g sweet potato
9:00pm – 4 omega 3 eggs + 4 egg whites
This would be a good starting point for a 200lb male who is doing regular exercise. The calories will need to be dropped evenly over the course of the diet in a progressive manner.
The whey isolates I would recommend would be:
Reflex micro whey
Optimum nutrition platinum hydro whey
You could also supplement with the following supplements to aid you in getting enough fat in your diet:
Reflex Omega 3
Producing an article preaching to you the importance of not over indulging and avoiding certain junk foods at this time of the year would probably be as effective as a blind guide dog! In other words, rather pointless and irrelevant to most of our readers! Instead, I wanted to share some top tips on maintaining your hard earned muscle mass over the festive period. Note I said ‘muscle mass’ and not ‘condition’ because lets be honest, how many of you are going to watch the waistline for these few cheerful days? Not many is the truth, but there is no excuse to throw your muscle down the drain! Whether you snack on junk is up to you, but stick to these fundamental rules and the next 10-14 days off won’t turn into the catabolic festival which it normally is for most!
Breakfast is key to promoting anabolism and avoiding catabolism, don’t skip it during the holidays!
When my adorable 4 year old nephew wakes me up a stupid o’clock on the 25th to see if Santa has come, and for those who care I think he will this year, I will still get my breakfast down straight away! All I do during times like this where there is a rush, I have something fast and easy and here it is for you to follow!
- Boil the kettle
- Throw some oats into a bowl and protein powder
- Add hot water and stir
There you go, a breakfast which takes no longer than a cup of coffee to make for Christmas morning, and the other mornings during the festive period. Note this also makes for a great meal/snack anytime of the day if cooking the usual rice and chicken is off the menu!
Of course, some meals may consist of 6 pieces of bacon, 2 sausages and fried onions. That is OK, but what you must remember is that meal frequency is key to fighting catabolism! Every 3 hours you need to feed your muscles with protein and carbohydrates, keeping the protein source as clean as possible! This is such a simple tip but it never fails to deliver! Even if it means munching on a PhD Growth Factor 50 bar for one meal, scoffing a Sport Kitchen QSM for another and having a protein shake as another meal! You can get all of these products at the best price delivered before Christmas off MonsterSupplements.com!
For me coffee is something I indulge in way too much, come Christmas time the matter gets worse! This can become problematic because coffee dehydrates you, and secondly it doesn’t make you feel like drinking water as well as drinking a hot drink! As an ‘’emergency’’ level I would insist you drink at least 2 litres of clear water every day. Come on, that is 50% of what you should normally drinking but it is still enough to help keep the muscle cell hydrated which will enable the effective transportation of nutrients!
Through the holidays I will as will every other serious athlete take certain essential supplements required to combat catabolism and keep me anabolic! I am talking L-Glutamine, BCAAs, Multi-Vitamins and essential fatty acids. Basically, these supplements all help in different ways to ensure your muscles are able to sustain a positive nitrogen balance! To grab these supplements before Christmas head over to MonsterSupplements.com!
There you go guys; I haven’t been a Scrooge and told you not to eat lots of junk. Instead what I have said is make sure you eat good food as well as the other junk every 3 hours to feed the muscles! If you are serious about making headway with your physique in 2012, you will follow these points!