There are a few things in fitness and in life that seem to pop up all too often. One of the first things that come to mind is lower-back health. In everyday life, it can stop us in our tracks. From long days to sitting at a desk to hours upon hours of manual labor, the lumbar spine can start to feel not as resilient and at times, painful. In the gym and during various […]
With only 65 days until the Men’s Health Chicago Urbanathlon it is time the ramp up the focus on not only my training, but also my nutrition. I am not doing anything different from what I do each day, but as the race approaches I will get a little bit tighter and cut out some of the “cheat” meals that I have.
It has been a long time since I have had to prepare for an intense competition. The last one was the NPC Mr. Michigan bodybuilding show in May of 2006. Fast forward 6+ years and a lot has changed with my style of training and eating. During my bodybuilding days I would focus on eating 5-7 meals a days, eating every 2-3 hours. My selection of food was limited to chicken, fish, egg whites, lean red meat, broccoli, asparagus, salad, oatmeal and sweet potatoes. If I detoured whatsoever from these foods or missed a meal I felt I was doomed! This eating style did work for me, but it was very hard to maintain and was very expensive due to the volume of food I was eating.
When I first got into the fitness field everyone was pretty much eating like bodybuilders no matter what their goals were. If you wanted to build muscle, lose fat, or increase performance your were told to eat 5-7 times a day, every 2-3 hours. If you didn’t do this then you were told that your metabolism would shut down if you didn’t eat frequently, or you would lose muscle if you didn’t have protein every 2-3 hours. I now have a different feeling about this approach. Eating frequently DOES NOT increase your metabolism and it is all about the total amount of protein and the timing of amino acids that you get in a day, not the frequency.
Since the start of the New Year I have read many books, articles, studies and blogs on Intermittent Fasting (IF). I was skeptical at fist, but after trying IF myself I feel this is the best way to eat. What is Intermittent Fasting? The most accurate definition is the simplest one: IF is alternating intervals of not eating (fasting period) with times where you are allowed to eat (feeding period). How long each window lasts depends on the method that you choose to use, and there are several ways you can implement IF into your lifestyle. That is the beauty of it, and why it works so well. I am not going to get into all of the various methods in today’s blog, instead I am going to talk about which methods I have embraced and how to do it.
I have totally loved experimenting with Intermittent Fasting, and now practice it almost daily. I first became intrigued with it after I did a 5-day cleanse where I fasted for 5-days, and took a colon cleanse supplement to start the New Year. As I continued to learn more about IF from Dr. John Berardi, Mark Sisson, and Neghar Fonooni, I quickly became a believer. After a while I realized that almost every top guru in our industry was having some major success with his or her clients when implementing IF. So now I have been helping my clients understand and believe in the benefits of such a lifestyle.
I started by performing the Eat Stop Eat method developed by Brad Pilon. On this plan, you fast for a full 24 hours once or twice per week, eating sensibly (higher protein, minimizing processed foods, etc.) the rest of the week. It’s flexible: You can choose whichever 24 hours you want. Want to fast from breakfast to breakfast? That’s cool. Just eat breakfast on Monday, and don’t eat again until breakfast on Tuesday. Want to fast dinner to dinner? That’s cool too. Eat dinner on Wednesday, and don’t eat again until dinner on Thursday.
At first I thought this was the easiest way to go for me. I always did it on a busy day like Monday, and usually after I ate more food than I should have. This made it perfect to push the reset button, and start the week off right. I felt my digestion improve, and my hunger became under control. I was hooked! I would go the full 25 hours without food, and only consume by cod liver oil, branched chain amino acids, Juice Plus and plenty of water.
I now have begun to practice the Lean Gains method by Martin Berkhan. This brand of fasting is based on an 8-hour feeding period followed by a 16-hour fast. However, it also layers a few other food rules on top. The diet should be high in protein, should cycle carbohydrates, should include fasted training, and should use nutrient timing (eating the bulk of your calories during the post-exercise period). For example, on this plan you would fast from 9 PM on Monday night until 1 PM on Tuesday afternoon. If you’re going to exercise, you’d do so just before 1 PM on Tuesday, with 10 g BCAAs (branched chain amino acids) during training. After training, you eat 2-3 meals before 9 PM, with your biggest meal coming right after exercise. The fast begins again on Tuesday evening until Wednesday at 1 PM, and repeats every day. I modified this a little bit since I workout first thing in the morning, but otherwise I follow it daily to a T.
I have found that this method makes the most sense for me. I am someone that has not needed to eat before I workout. Quite honestly I feel that if someone is healthy and already active, they should have no problems working out on an empty stomach, or with just a scoop of BCAA powder. But I do understand there are certain cases where some people just need a little fuel in the take.
I will typically have my last meal anytime around 7pm and 8:30pm. I wake up and take my BCAA powder and Juice Plus with plenty of water, and another scoop of BCAA powder after I workout. My first meal of the day is a super shake around 12pm. I eat another high protein and fat meal a couple of hours later, and then dinner when I got home. This has made my everyday eating so simple. I am satisfied, have great energy, my digestion is great, and I don’t miss eating breakfast at all. It is super convenient, and there is way less food prep time. I basically just have to prepare a super shake, a small snack and dinner.
I don’t limit my food choices to only a few options, but rather stick to some guidelines. 90% of the time I eat lots of clean animal proteins, fair amount of veggies, fruits, some nuts and nut butters. Once in a while some beans and potatoes and a piece of Ezekiel bread here and there. I limit my grain and processed food intake quite a bit. I say 90% of the time because I do cheat once in a while. I feel that doing IF has actually allowed me to have some liberties since my overall caloric intake is pretty controlled.
Below is an example meal plan of the Lean Gains IF method that I do each day
Fast throughout the morning. Drink plenty of water.
Consume 1 scoop of Modern Branched Chain Amino Acid (BCAA) supplement before and after workout and drink creatine during my workout.
- 3 scoops whey protein powder
- 2 tablespoons Carlson’s Cod Liver Oil
- 1 heaping tablespoon of Vitamineral Greens
- 6-8oz. meat OR 1 cup Greek yogurt
- 1-2 cups vegetables
- 1-3 tablespoons of almond or peanut butter
- 6-12 oz. of meat or 6-8 WHOLE organic eggs
- 1-2 tablespoons of some kind of fat such as extra-virgin coconut oil or extra virgin olive oil, or maybe some cheese
- Small serving of carbohydrate such as quinoa, potato, or sprouted grains
- 1-2 cups of vegetables
Currently this is my daily supplement regimen:
- 2 tablespoons of Carlson’s Lemon Flavored Cod Liver Oil- 1 heaping tablespoon of Vitamineral Greens- 2 scoops (10 grams) of Modern Branched Chain Amino Acids
- 2,000 I.U. of Bluebonnet Vitamin D3 drops
- 2 capsules of both the Juice Plus Orchard and Garden Blend
- 1 capsule of Pro-biotics (Acidophilus/Bifidus) by KAL
- Zyflamend Whole Body Anti-inflamatory (herbal and Tumeric belend)
This may seem like a lot of supplements, but if you look closely they are all whole food supplements. So to me this is just part of the grocery list. No one gets enough veggies so that is why I do both the green powder and Juice Plus. I had a ton of anti-biotics as a kid, so I don’t produce as much probiotics. I live in Michigan so I need me some D, Cod liver oil- enough said, since I demand a lot from my body I need key amino acids to recover.
Thanks for reading everyone! Stay tuned for updates on my training and nutrition!