Secrets to Performance Enhancement

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Do you want to lose body fat, gain muscle, and feel more alert and energetic every day? Would you like to feel more productive at work and at play? Would you like to improve your concentration and memory? Well I can tell you the secret that may help you accomplish all of the above and more.

What is the secret you may ask? Is it some new wonder drug, or the latest super supplement from the eastern bloc? Is it a weekend with Tony Robbins or some other self-help Guru? No. All you need to help you get the most out of your fitness is SLEEP.

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That is right sleep. Could it be that easy? Well for many of us it is not. Many of us find it difficult to get enough sleep these days. This lack of one of our simplest and most precious commodities may be what is keeping us from achieving our fitness goals.

There are many types of stress in our daily lives. There is work stress, relationship stress, financial etc. Stress is caused by both emotional and physical stimulus. We have a finite amount of recovery ability in our body and although we view exercise as a positive thing in our lives, it still adds to the pool of stress that we deal with on a daily basis.

Most of us know that to get the most out of our exercise plan we need to expose our bodies to new challenges and then allow the body to adapt to these challenges. This adaptation takes time and resources. If we overload our bodies with too much, too fast, too soon, we break down and become sick and or inured. If how ever, we give our bodies the time needed to adapt,

We slowly but surely get stronger and more fit over time.

Sleep is our bodies’ natural repair and replenish cycle. When we get enough we are able to recover fully from the strain of not only exercise but also all the other stimuli we face daily. Too little and we start to break down.

Let’s look at a few ideas on how we may improve our ability to sleep, naturally.

  • Stick to a bedtime. While this may seem obvious to most adults, going to bed and getting up at the same time, even on days off from work, is an essential key to obtaining a quality nights sleep.

  • Have a comfortable mattress and pillow. You mattress and pillow are essential tools in helping you get a good nights sleep. Preferences vary from person to person, but there are many options including air mattresses, which adjust for firmness as well as new memory foams and other high tech and low-tech options.

  • Avoid caffeine and nicotine. Both of these are stimulants and can keep your brain wired. Keep in mind that chocolate has small amounts of caffeine, so if you like chocolate desserts eat them at lunch instead of later in the day.

  • Avoid large amounts of food or liquid within three hours of bedtime. Large amounts of food or liquid in your stomach before bedtime may result in heartburn, acid reflux and multiple trips to the bathroom.

  • Make your bedroom cool and dark.  Turn down your thermostat so your bedroom is a few degrees cooler then the rest of the house. Also, reduce the amount of light in the room to create a dark, comfortable environment.

  • Exercise regularly. Regular exercise 30 – 60 minutes a day can help you fall asleep faster and make your sleep more restful.

  • Avoid long naps. Daytime naps may take away from your ability to sleep. Limit your day time sleep to less then one hour and eliminate naps after3 PM. This will help ensure a good nights sleep.

  • Avoid Alcohol. Alcohol may be relaxing but it will deprive you of REM* sleep. Constant deprivation of this type of sleep can result in depression a mood disorders.

  • Develop a relaxing bedtime routine. Turn on relaxing music, take a hot bath within 80 minutes of bedtime, or pull out a fun book. Such activities aid in relaxation.

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So, there you have it. Some simple tips on how to get a more restful nights sleep. Try incorporating some or all of these ideas into your sleep routine and you should reap the benefits of a well-rested and fully recovered body, mind and spirit.

TAKU

Secrets to Performance Enhancement (Part Two)

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In our first installment we talked about the importance of rest and recovery and how just getting a little more sleep can go a long way to improving our success in achieving both our athletic and aesthetic goals. In Part Two we continue our series and bring to you information on one of natures key nutrients, WATER.

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For athletes and regular exercisers maintaining a constant state of hydration is essential to performance as dehydration leads to muscle fatigue and loss of coordination. Being dehydrated by as little as 2% can cause endurance to drop by up to 7% and can decrease power output as well as cognitive ability. According to a recent study dehydrated exercisers worked out almost 25% less than those who drank water before and during workouts.

Health care professionals such as Nancy Clark, MS, RD recommend that physically active people should drink more than the standard eight glasses per day. Water is the most important nutrient in the body and makes up 70 percent of muscles and 75 percent of the brain. Oxygen is the only thing the body craves more than water.

Water plays an essential role in eliminating toxins and waste products, regulates body temperature, and helps to maintain proper muscle tone–all extremely important functions to Athletes / fitness enthusiasts. For proper hydration, Clark suggests about 3-4 quarts of water per day, which will assist you in reaching your Athletic / fitness goals.

HOW MUCH WATER IS REQUIRED:

There isn’t a “recommended daily allowance (RDA)” for daily water intake. Part of the reason is the difference in physical activity, age, present physical condition, living in a hot or dry climate, and diuretic medications all contribute to fluid loss and a greater need for water. In addition, a diet rich in fiber, high in protein, or taking a supplement such as creatine** requires an increase in water consumption. It’s estimated that healthy adults require at least eight to ten cups of water each day. The following formula will provide you with a more precise amount of water necessary for your daily needs.

The formula is .5 times your weight in pounds to get the number of ounces divided by 8 to get the number of glasses. Example: 115 lbs x .5 = 57.5 ounces. 57.5 divided by 8 equals 7.2 glasses. Often, we replace fluids by consuming beverages such as milk, fruit juices, coffee, tea, and sodas. Our bodies will extract the water from these sources through digestion and metabolism.

DEHYDRATION

Dehydration can be defined as the loss of water and essential body salts (electrolytes) that are needed for normal body functioning. Water makes up about 60 percent of a man’s weight and 50 percent of a woman’s weight. This proportion has to be kept within a narrow limit to attain a proper balance in the cells and body tissue. In a dehydrated state the body is unable to cool itself, leading to heat exhaustion and possibly heat stroke. Without an adequate supply of water the body will lack energy and muscles may develop cramps.

Usually, by the time action is taken, dehydration has already set in and damage may have occurred. Physical signs can range from fatigue, loss of appetite, heat intolerance, and low quantities of dark yellow urine. Severe dehydration can cause muscle spasms, high body-core temperatures, and complete exhaustion. According to Dr. James A. Peterson the easiest way to determine if you are hydrated is to check the color and quantity of your urine. “If your urine is very dark in color and limited in quantity, you need to consume more fluids.” The best way to counter the possibility for dehydration is to frequently drink plenty of water. It is also of great importance to make sure that you drink the highest quality of water available to you.

For healthy people under normal circumstances, thirst is a reliable mechanism to indicate the body’s need for more fluid. “However, your thirst doesn’t tell you exactly what to drink. It just tells you that you’re thirsty,” says Kenneth G. Berge, M.D., associate medical editor of Mayo Health Oasis. “Of course, billions of dollars are made by persuading you to reach for a soft drink or something like that, when really the best choice usually is water.”

You may have heard that you need at least eight glasses of water per day. This quantity won’t hurt a healthy adult. But Dr. Berge says such one-size-fits-all answer fails to tell the whole story about the body’s necessary balance of fluid intake and loss. Humans normally lose about 10 cups (2.4 liters) of fluid a day in sweat, urine, exhaled air and bowel movements. What is lost must be replaced to maintain a fluid balance. Dehydration poses a particular health risk for the very young and the very old.

Caffeinated and alcoholic beverages are actually dehydrating because they increase urine output, so don’t count these as fluid replacements.

 

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Ten Tips for Proper Hydration

  • Drink at least eight to ten 8-ounce servings of water each day. The more active you are, the more water you need to replenish lost fluids.

  • Don’t wait until you’re thirsty to drink water. By the time you feel thirsty, you have probably already lost two or more cups of your total body water composition.

  • Drink plenty of water throughout the day. Convenience is a must, so carry a bottle of water with you as you commute to work, run errands or enjoy a day at the beach. While at work, keep a bottle of water on your desk, or visit the office water cooler and take a water break rather than a coffee break.

  • Don’t substitute beverages with alcohol or caffeine for water. Caffeine and alcohol act as diuretic beverages and can cause you to lose water through increased urination.

  • Once you start exercising, drink water throughout your workout. Keep a bottle of water with you and take frequent water breaks.

  • Don’t underestimate the amount of fluids lost from perspiration. Following a workout, you need to drink two cups of water for each pound lost.

  • Start and end your day with water. Your body loses water while you sleep, so drink a serving before bed and again when you wake up.

  • Common colds and the flu frequently lead to dehydration. Keep a large bottle of water next to your bed so you can sip it throughout the day without having to get up.

  • Cool water – not carbonated beverages or sports drinks – is the best fluid for keeping hydrated when it’s warm outside. Cool water is absorbed much more quickly than warm fluids and may help to cool off your overheated body. If you’re going to be away from home or outdoors, make sure you keep a bottle of water close by.

  • Make sure your children drink enough water. Children need water to balance their intake of other beverages – especially during activities. Packing bottled water in a child’s lunch instead of juice or regular soda can also help prevent childhood obesity.

TAKU

TAKU’s NOTE: The above information was compiled from the following sources:

Proper Hydration: The Key Ingredient To Your Athletic Success
By Rob Wilkins

International Bottled Water Association (IBWA) is the authoritative source of information about all types of bottled waters distributed in the United States.

It’s Everywhere…

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SUGAR…It’s Everywhere. Lately I’ve been focusing my attention more and more on nutrition. Being a health and fitness guy I already had a keen interest in the importance of developing a healthy Personal Eating Plan. In fact I’ve designed, implemented and updated comprehensive P.E.P.’s for countless athletes and clients in the past. Only recently however have I truly started to more closely research sugar and it’s impact on total health and wellness.

Rather than rewrite ton’s of information that already exists, I am going to highlight some resources for you so that you may do some digging, and come to your own conclusions.

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One very helpful web-site I’ve discovered is SUGARSCIENCE.ORG

I suggest you start your exploration there. If you’re a NetFlix subscriber, I recommend the documentary titled “FED UP”.(which may also be rented on YouTube for $3.99)

The scientific team at SugarScience.org recommends keeping all added sugars below the recommended limits of 6 teaspoons/day (25g) for women, and 9 teaspoons (38g) for men. The W.H.O. sets recommendations for total daily sugar intake for both men and women. The numbers may surprise you. In general the recommendation is no more than 5-7% of daily caloric intake.

Start tracking your daily intake and see how close (or how far off) you are to these recommendations.

Do yourself a favor and cut down on your sugar intake.

You’ll be glad that you did.

TAKU

TAKU’s NOTE: This is a follow up on our podcast episode #19 “Should I go on a Diet?”. In it we talked a bit about processed sugar and why we think you should do your best to remove it from your P.E.P. I have been telling people for years that “BIG SUGAR” is a lot like “BIG TOBACCO”. The SUGAR pushers have been actively involved in a disinformation campaign for years. Newly discovered documents show that the sugar industry paid scientists in the 1960s to shape the debate around heart disease, sugar and fat. If our podcast didn’t help convince you to limit or remove processed sugar from your P.E.P., check out this article in the New York Times: How the Sugar Industry Shifted Blame to Fat

Functional Isometrics: Part Two

By TAKU

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In Part One of this article we learned about some different forms of strength training and discussed their similarities and differences including Isometrics and Functional Isometrics. In part two we will take a closer look at how to incorporate these concepts into a your workout program. I will also introduce the concept of Static Contraction training an ultra brief, intense and efficient workout system based on the Functional isometric concept.

Exercise Example:

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Lets take a look at the execution of the Bench Press using the Functional isometric training style discussed in part one.

Step One: First you will need a good Power Rack / Cage or Smith Machine with multiple height adjustments. Set the safety pins at a position about even with the bottom of your range of movement. Load a weight that is about 50% of your current max. If you rarely or never perform 1RMs then estimate from a 5-10 RM using an RM calculator. You will then position yourself under the bar and get yourself set in a good, solid, pressing position (do I need to explain how to properly bench press?). Lift the bar and hold it just a few inches off the bottom pins, for 6-10 seconds. If it felt super easy, add some weight, rest up a couple minutes and do it again. Once it feels really challenging at that height your done.

Step Two: Raise the pins to the mid-range or sticking point of the movement. At this point (if you are not already there) add enough weight so that you are at or near your current max. Lift the bar and hold it just few inches off the pins, for 6-10 seconds. If it felt super easy, add some weight, rest up a couple minutes and do it again. Once it feels really challenging at that height your done.

Step Three: Raise the pins so that they are just a few inches away from your lock-out position (4-6 inches). At this point (depending on how your other sets have gone) add enough weight so that you are at or slightly above your current max. Lift the bar and hold it just a few inches off the pins, for 6-10 seconds. If it felt super easy, add some weight, rest up a couple minutes and do it again. Once it feels really challenging at that height your done.

When performing these types of sets you want to strive for maximum efficiency. The more accurate your records the less weight adjustments you will be required to make. The goal is for you to know exactly how much weight will challenge you in each range, for each movement. This may take a week or two to figure out. Once you have your weight dialed in for each movement, you should perform no more then one, all-out contraction for 6-10 seconds in each of the three positions.

I often cycle Functional isometrics into my own strength training program for several months at a time. I find these types of workouts to be very challenging and extremely effective and efficient. I will load up for the exercise I am going to perform and start with the weakest part of the range first. I then do one, all-out contraction for 6-10 seconds in that position. I raise the weight to the next part of my ROM and after a brief rest, complete another 6-10 second contraction. One more adjustment, one more contraction, and I am done for that exercise. I find I can complete and entire full-body workout in as little as 20 minutes. This is possible because I know exactly how much weight to use for each movement which makes set up quite simple.

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For Ultimate Efficiency

There are thousands of athletes and general fitness enthusiasts around the world who use a type of Functional isometrics termed Static Contraction training as their only form of strength training. In this style you perform just one, all out contraction in the strongest range for each basic pushing and pulling movement. As I mentioned earlier in this article, this style of training is easiest to perform with a dedicated device such as those produced by ONE REP GYM however terrific results can be had using conventional equipment as well.

With just a little practice and dedication you can learn to fine tune the specific ROM of each exercise to produce amazing results in just a few minutes per workout. Static contractions performed in the strongest range, using one all-out contraction, for as little as 6-10 seconds, can produce rapid improvements in muscular strength and performance. Now those of you who are really paying attention may be saying “hey, what about the joint angle specificity problem you mentioned above? For many people The 15-20 degree carryover on either side of a specific joint angle is more then enough to supply usable functional strength for all activities. For some blessed with what is termed a type “G” strength curve, training in just about any part of ones ROM will produce results throughout the entire ROM (This is a genetic attribute and not subject to change).

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The bottom line is that when performing functional isometrics using the Static Contraction method, one may complete a brief, intense workout in just 3-5 minutes (not including set up, breakdown and rest). Individuals who regularly use this style of training will often rest and recover for 7-10 days (sometimes more) before the next session. For those who feel that they do not have time to strength train, Static Contraction training my be the tool you have been searching for.

Now get to it!

TAKU’s NOTE:. Functional isometrics are a great tool to have in your tool box. Whether you decide to buy and use a dedicated machine or to incorporate these into your regular weight workouts, I highly recommend you give Functional isometrics a try. Don’t be surprised to find your strength shooting up to new heights in a few short weeks.

References:

  1. Graves, J., Pollock, M., Jones, A., Colvin, A., & Leggett, S. (1989). Specificity of limited range of motion variable resistance training. Medicine And Science In Sports And Exercise, 21(1), 84-89.

  2. Knapik JA. Mawdsley RH. Ramos MU: Angular Specificity and Test Mode Specificity of Isometric and lsokinetic Strength Training. Journal Of Orthopaedic & Sports Physical Therapy 5:58-65.1983

  3. Kitai, T., & Sale, D. (1989). Specificity of joint angle in isometric training. European Journal Of Applied Physiology And Occupational Physiology, 58(7), 744-748. doi:10.1007/bf00637386

  4. Jackson, A. (1985). Strength Development: Using Functional Isometrics in an Isotonic Strength Training Program. Research Quarterly For Exercise And Sport, 56(3), 234-37.


Functional Isometrics: Par One

By TAKU

This weeks podcast features an interview with Shawn Bennett developer of the One Rep Gym and a form of Static Contraction Training called Measured Intensity Training.

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Static or isometric style strength training has probably been around in one form or another, since the dawn of man. Some see it as a tool only to be used to pass sticking points or as an adjunct to “real” strength training. While others use it as their only form of improving muscular performance. Still, for many the whole concept of training statically may seem strange or appear quite revolutionary. Which ever camp you belong to I assure you that Static / Isometric style training is highly effective and can be quite simple to implement with just a little practice. Lets investigate with a little Q&A:

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Q: What are isometrics?
A: Isometric training refers to exerting strength without movement. The most classic form of isometric training is pushing or pulling an immovable load.

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Q: Why include any form of isometrics?
A: You actually recruit more motor-units during an isometric action than during a concentric action.

Q: If isometric training is so good, why doesn’t everyone use it?
A: Actually many people use isometric or static training in a variety of applications. However, there are two main problems with pure isometric training:

1. It’s impossible to quantify progress. Since you’re not moving a load, you don’t know if you’re improving or if you’re exerting maximal effort or not. This creates problems with accurately determining progression which may lead to diminished motivation.

2. Isometric training may be angle specific, meaning that it’s possible you’ll gain strength only at the joint angles being worked. (Some theorize that there’s only a 15-20 degree carryover of strength gains on either side of the specific angle trained.)

Q: Then why bother including isometrics at all?
A: Isometric or Static training is one of if not the most efficient forms of strength training available. However due to the above mentioned limitations many people do not explore this form of training.

Luckily there are two solutions available which overcome all of the problems of classic isometrics, and make them not only worth including but easy to accurately measure and track for on-going progressive overload.

Functional isometrics

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Q: What are Functional isometrics?
A: Functional isometrics are a bit different. You still exert force without movement, but you’re actually lifting a load or tracking your force output with dedicated technology.

Q: How do I incorporate these into my training plan?
A: There are several ways in which you may include functional isometrics into your training. The first is to purchase a dedicated machine such as the ones available from:
ONE REP GYM

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Q: What if I can’t afford one of these machines or I don’t want to wait to try Functional isometrics?
A: Well, you are in luck. All you need is access to some basic gym equipment and you can start using this highly effective style of training right away.

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Q: What exercises can I perform using Functional isometrics?
A: This type of exercise can be used with many weight lifting exercises. Traditionally power lifters and Olympic style weightlifters have used static holds to over come sticking points in exercises such as the Bench Press, Deadlift / Clean, and Overhead Press.

I find Functional isometrics to be effective for most of your standard pushing and pulling movements. With access to basic gym equipment such as a leg press, rowing and pull-down machines and a good power cage or Smith Machine you can perform just about any exercise you can think of.

Q: How do I execute a Functional Isometric exercise using standard Weight training equipment?
A: You start the bar at a specific height and lift it two to three inches. Then you hold the position for six to ten seconds. You keep on adding weight until you can’t lift and hold it for at least six seconds while maintaining a good lifting posture. This way you’re actually lifting weights and can quantify your progress.

Q: How do I overcome the problem of joint angle specificity?
A: If you only perform single angle movements, the problem of joint angle specificity may still apply. That’s why some may want to use three positions working the whole range of motion of a selected movement. The three positions are:

1. A few inches after the start position

2. Sticking point

3. A few inches from the final position

For more on Static - Isometric training including examples of how to set up and perform basic exercises please read part two of this article.

NUTRITION: the ULTIMATE DISCIPLINE

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As far as I am concerned nutrition is the foundation of health. After years as a strength coach, and personal trainer, I have seen that people consistently struggle with dialing in their nutrition more than any other factor of health and fitness. With this weeks podcast episode in mind, I offer a few simple strategies that may help you get this often challenging aspect of your personal health and fitness routine, under control.


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FIRST: The hard facts!

  • There is no supplement to increase personal discipline!

  • You can’t out work a bad eating plan!

  • Quality Nutrition controls hormonal response (a calorie is not always calorie)

– Insulin – triggers fat storage (too much sugar)

– Glucagon – triggers fat burning (favoring protein dominant meals)

Don’t make excuses…

– “Everything in moderation”, is a set up for failure!

– Learn to eat High-Quality food year-round, (without gorging!)

– Take some responsibility for your actions!

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Nutritional Strategies for long term success!

  • Control Quality -1 week.

– First control Quality.

– This alone may help control frequency and quantity.

  • Control Frequency -1 week.

– With controlled quality, frequency is easier to control.

– It also controls energy levels and insulin response.

  • Control Quantity -1-week.

– By this time – the quantities of food are naturally smaller.

– More nutrient dense and thermic foods.

Controlling Quality!

Week 1

  • Start eating more High-Quality foods. If it is in a box, bag, or can, and has a label don’t eat it. Strive for Free-Range Organic Meats. Raw, Organic, full-fat dairy. Chicken and eggs from Free-Range chickens. Local fresh fruits and vegetables (try the Farmer’s Market).

  • You will burn calories breaking down whole foods – as much as 300 additional calories per day (i.e. the Thermic Effect of food).

  • Processed foods should be avoided.

Controlling Frequency!

Week 2

  • Eat 3 & 2 (3 meals and 2 snacks every day). DO NOT SKIP MEALS.*

  • *If ONLY CRAP is available – Use this as an unexpected time to fast.

  • Remember, sometimes it’s okay to be hungry.

  • You have to feed the person you want to be, not the person you are right now!

Controlling Quantity!

Week 3

  • By now – your stomach has shrunk a bit and you are eating less anyway!!

  • When you’re full – stop eating.

  • Eat slow to give your blood sugar time to go up a little and signal you that you are full; you’ll eat less.

  • Feed your ideal bodyweight and add a 0. If you want to weigh 130 lbs. eat 1300 calories over 5-6 meals!!

  • Don’t miss exercise sessions. You don’t miss emails, texts, phone calls, and FACEBOOK, don’t miss your exercise!

Strategic approach!

– Have healthy snacks ready everywhere!

  • Keep non-perishable foods around, and carry a small cooler!

– Nuts & seeds (walnuts. Almonds, Brazil nuts)

– Hard-boiled eggs, String Cheese

– Apples, Celery stalks

  • You’ll eat less!

– Have a healthy Protein Snack before you go food shopping!

– Have a healthy Protein Snack before you go to a party!

  • Don’t buy junk food.

– If it does not belong in your stomach it does not belong in your House / kitchen!

Well…there you have it. some simple strategies to aid you on your personal quest for lifelong health and fitness. Remember, nutrition is the foundation of health. Take the ideas I have outlined above and put them into practice today!

TAKU

 

Simple Steps to Good Nutrition

  By TAKU

By TAKU

Nutrition. Is there anything out there that is more confusing? High carbs, low carbs, good fats, bad fats, don’t eat at night, don’t eat anything but fruit until noon…It’s enough to make you scream. How can we possibly decipher all the nutritional mumbo-jumbo that is thrown around every day? Each time you turn around there is a new diet telling you what to eat and what to avoid.

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Well, take a deep breath and let’s see if we can make some sense out of all this confusion. By the time your done reading, you’ll have at least a basic set of ideas that should work for you. It still won’t be easy. I have been training people for 30 years and I call nutrition the ultimate discipline.

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Let’s get some basics out of the way. We can break our food into a few basic components. Macro-nutrients (meaning Big stuff) and along with the big stuff we get Micro-nutrients (little stuff). Add water and you have your bases covered.

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Foods contain calories in the form of the three Macro-nutrients, Fats, Proteins, and Carbohydrates. These calories provide energy for our bodies to move, grow, repair and maintain themselves. Both Protein and Carbohydrates have four calories per gram. Fat has more than twice as many calories with nine per gram. Foods also contain Micro-nutrients in the form of vitamins and minerals. Micro-nutrients are important because they contribute to the many chemical processes that our bodies undertake for daily living. They do not however provide energy.

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When we say energy as it relates to food it just means calories. All food has calories and all calories can be burned to provide energy for the body. When we see something in the store called an “Energy” bar or Energy drink, it really just means that the bar or drink has calories. There is nothing magic about them. Most energy drinks have not only calories in the form of simple sugars but are also loaded with stimulants such as caffeine, guarana (an herbal form of caffeine) or other similar substances. This is where the “energy” comes from in the zero calorie energy drinks. The above mentioned substances are central nervous system stimulants and are providing energy through a series of chemical interactions in the body. If you like to get the buzzed feeling of caffeinated drinks, but don’t like coffee then these types of drinks will do the trick for you. Just remember there are no magic substances in energy bars and drinks that will do anything for you that good, whole food cannot. For the most part these bars and drinks are just glorified candy bars and soda pops and their manufacturers are trying to get you to feel good about eating and drinking them.

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I know that nutritional planning is a bit confusing at times. How many meals a day should I eat? Do I need a certain percentage of my daily calories from one source or another? What should I drink and how much is enough? Well, that is what we are here to find out. Keep in mind that there is no one, perfect way that will work for everyone when it comes to nutrition. But we can set up a framework from which to begin your journey. So let’s set up some guidelines that may help us get more out our nutrition. Keep in mind that what most people lack when it comes to nutrition is discipline and consistency. The following guidelines are not new or magic, they are merely ideas to help you establish a framework from which you may create that disciplined consistency you currently lack.

1. Most days eat 3-5 feedings per day. This does not mean eat giant meals every time you feed; this includes your snacks as well. Think of it as eating on average about three meals and two snacks per day.

2. Eat some source of lean protein such as eggs, chicken, beef, lamb, turkey or fish, at every meal.

3. Eat low-sugar fruits, and a variety of non-starchy vegetables with each meal. The more different colors and textures the better.

4. Ensure that your carbohydrate intake comes primarily from vegetables. Think of fruit as a small treat.

5. Ensure that you get some fats every day. You want these to be primarily in the form of good or “friendly” fats such as those found from olive, flax seed and coconut oils, avocados, raw nuts and seeds, as well as fish like salmon, mackerel, sardines anchovies etc.

6. Drink primarily non-calorie containing beverages, the best choices being water and green tea. A good goal for water intake is about half your body weight in ounces a day. So, if you weigh 100 pounds, aim for 50 ounces a day and if you weigh 200, pounds aim for 100 ounces a day. (The rest of you can do your own math).

7. Eat mostly whole foods. This means foods found in their most natural state. There is no such thing as a donut tree, and contrary to popular belief; nothing made out of flour (like bread, pasta and bagels) is a source of complex carbohydrates.

8. When you get off track, regroup quickly. Having one bad meal or snack here and there will not have a large impact on your overall success. What does negatively impact you is the snow ball effect. That common feeling of “well I screwed up lunch so I guess the whole day is shot”. Forget that stuff. Your next feeding is your next opportunity for success.

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So what does this type of eating look like? Here is a simple way to think about it. To create a healthy plate meal, simply view your plate like a clock. Fill the position of 12 o’clock to 6 or 7 o’clock with a wide variety of colorful vegetables; fill the space from 6 or 7 o’clock to 9 o’clock with friendly fats including healthy oils, nuts, and seeds*, and fill the area from 9 to 12 o’clock with lean protein  in the form of beef, chicken fish and so on. A little fruit here and there will not hurt you, (for best results I recommend keeping it to small amount of low-sugar fruits.)

Most of the time if you stick with just two sections, the veggie (+ a little fruit) section and the protein section you’ll be doing just fine. If you do include starchy carbohydrates (sweet potatoes, steel-cut oatmeal, brown rice etc.) I recommend saving that for after your workout, and for best results don’t let that starchy section get any bigger then about ¼ of your plate. (*TAKU’s NOTE: There may be some overlap between friendly fats, and good protein etc)

So, don’t I need to know how many calories I am eating and how much fat etc? The answer is yes and no. For the greatest long term success I would recommend taking a few days and figuring this stuff out. Working with a good nutrition coach can really help. The most important thing however is that you just start making some good simple choices right away. I think you’ll find that when you do, the rest starts to take care of itself.

Here is what a day of this type of eating might look like:

(I’ve included a few examples for breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks)

Meal Examples

Breakfast:

1. Scrambled Eggs with veggies and Fruit. 2-3 whole eggs. Tomato, peppers onions etc (your choice). 1 large orange.

2. Cottage Cheese and Fruit. 1-cup cottage cheese (full fat minimally processed). 1/2 cup Fresh or water packed Pineapple or Peaches. I Tbsp Almonds (raw).

3. Protein Shake. 2 scoops Protein Powder. 1/2 cup Strawberries, fresh or frozen. 1/2 cup peaches, fresh or frozen. 1-2 cups water. 1 -1/2 Tbsp Almonds or flax-seed oil

Lunch:

1. Tuna salad. 4-6 oz of Albacore Tuna in water (drained). 1-2 Tbsp of sweet pickle relish (optional). 3-5 Tbsp of celery (diced). 10-15 seedless grapes. 1-1/2 Tbsp Mayo (homemade or coconut oil, avocado oil). 2-4 lettuce leaves. 1 large apple.

2. Chicken Caesar salad. Romaine lettuce (3-4 cups). Chicken precooked and cooled (4 oz). Parmesan cheese 1 Tbsp (grated). Caesar dressing (2 Tbsp).**

3. Cantaloupe Fruit Salad. 1/2 of a melon. I cup cottage cheese (full fat minimally processed). 5-10 seedless Grapes. 1/2 cup sliced Strawberries. 2 tsp Sunflower seeds.

Dinner:

1. Chicken salad. 4-6 oz chicken. 2 tbsp walnuts. 1 apple chopped. 1-cup grapes (cut in halves). 2 tbsp mayo ( coconut oil, avocado oil or home made). 1-cup green beans.

2. Grilled Salmon and Vegetables. Salmon steak grilled (4-1/2 oz). Onions sweet large size (3 thick slices). ½ green pepper (sliced). 1 zucchini (sliced). Green salad (2 cups). I cup Peaches, fresh or frozen for desert.

3. Beef Tenderloin Dinner. 6 oz extra lean beef. Asparagus spears (10 – steamed). 3-4 cups green salad with tomato. Fresh blueberries for dessert.

Snacks:

1. Cottage cheese with Pineapple. 1-Cup cottage cheese w/ 1/2-cup pineapple.

2. Hard-boiled Egg and Fruit. 1-2 whole eggs. 1 egg 1 small tangerine or orange.

3. String Cheese and fruit. 1-2 string cheese. 1 apple.

If you are serious about your health, you should be serious about your nutrition. Our health comes from the inside out. Feed your body good food, drink water and get enough sleep every day, and you have gone a long way to insuring optimal health and high function for years to come. When we eat well it supports everything else we do. It makes it that much more likely, that you will achieve your athletic and aesthetic goals as well as perform at your best in the boardroom or on the wrestling mat. Remember, every time you go food shopping is a chance for you to make great choices. Now get out there and get to it.

Bonus Food Shopping List:

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Protein

Fish:

• Salmon

• Tuna

• Cod

• Trout

• Halibut

• Shrimp

• Scallops

Eggs

Chicken breasts

Cottage cheese (Full-fat minimally processed)

Lean Red Meat:

• Flank Steak

• Ground Beef

• Top Round Cuts

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Carbohydrates

Vegetables (not limited to):

• Broccoli

• Green Beans

• Spinach

• Lettuce

Mixed Beans

Carbohydrates

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Fruits (not limited to):

• Berries

• Apples

• Oranges

• Kiwi

• Grapefruits

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Fats

Flax oil/Flax meal

Fish oil (EPA / DHA)

Olive oil / Olives

Mixed nuts:

• Almonds

• Walnuts

• Brazil

• Pistachios

Avocados

Coconut Oil

Butter (occasionally)

Macro Nutrient Servings:

Fruit. 1 serving =

1 medium sized fruit, ½ banana, 1-cup berries, ¼-cup dried fruit. 1-cup melon.

Veggies. 1 serving =

½ cup cooked or raw, 1 cup leafy.

Protein. 1 serving =

4-5 oz fish, poultry, pork or lean beef. 1-cup tofu (Organic non-GMO), 1-cup cottage cheese (Full-fat minimally processed) .

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BONUS RECIPE:

*Caesar Dressing:

• 1 Tbsp Olive Oil

• 1 Tbsp Red Wine Vinegar

• 1/2 Tbsp Lemon juice

• 1-2 cloves garlic, pressed

• 1/2 tsp Worcestershire sauce

• 1/2 tsp anchovy paste

• 1/2 tsp dry mustard

• 1/2 tsp fresh ground pepper

Place all ingredients in a jar and shake until blended.

Cyclical Ketogenic Diet: Low-carb Dieting Made Easy

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This P.E.P. is based on the work of Dan Duchaine (Body Opus) and Lyle McDonald (the Ketogenic Diet). The version that I am presenting is a highly simplified version of the original Duchaine / McDonald works as laid out in their above named books. If you wish to attain copious amounts of detail into how to really tweak this approach I suggest you purchase one or both of the books written by these two gentlemen. Although their approach is reliable, I am confident that similarly consistent results will be attained without following some of the extreme guidelines set forth by these two authors.

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With my personal experimentation using this approach I have found it to consistently reduce BFP% while maintaining LBM. Below I have shown examples of weekday and weekend eating plans consistent with this style of P.E.P. The basic premise is to reduce Carb consumption to as low a level as possible during a five-day period Mon-Fri. Then take in high carbs on the weekend to facilitate glycogen super-compensation and the sparing of LBM. My weekday goal for carb consumption is 30 grams or less a day. On weekends the carb consumption is unlimited and should be as high as is comfortably possible. Once you feel you have fully re-loaded your carb stores (usually indicated by an increase in water retention), you may begin to de-carb once again.

WEEKDAY MACRONUTRIENT GOALS:

The goal for protein consumption is a minimum of 1 gram per pound of total body-weight, with a maximum of up to 1.5 grams per pound of total body-weight. The calorie level should be set at approximately 90% of daily maintenance levels*. Once protein levels have been established, the remainder of the calories should come from “friendly” fat sources and a minimum of low glycemic carbs (as indicated in the eating plans below). When trying to make up the proper calorie levels start with protein. Then add the “good” fat, + bad fat, then finish with the LGC.

WEEKEND MACRONUTRIENT GOALS:

Protein consumption should be set at a minimum of 1 gram per pound of LBM with a maximum of up to 1 gram per pound of total weight. Carbs should be set as high as 3-5 grams per pound of total body weight. Fat should be set at a maximum of 1 gram per every 2 pounds of total body weight.

SUGGESTED EATING AND TAPER PLANS

You may notice an energy slump in the first couple of weeks, this is normal and is the interim period between your body burning carbohydrate for energy and converting to burning fat. Stick with it and you will achieve your goals.

The program is a 5-days on 2-days off schedule, the days off may be fitted in at your convenience but weekends are probably best.

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Suggested eating plan No1

Meal 1.

4 eggs any way, or 6-10 egg whites, 2 slices of ham, 2 Oz l/f. Mozzarella cheese. Make into omelet, if desired add chopped veggies

Meal 2.

Small tin of tuna (6 Oz) in oil (drain oil), ¼ avocado, salad or 2-3 scoops Whey Protein + 1 Tbsp Flax Oil in 10 Oz water

Meal 3.

Chicken breast w/- veggies &/or salad (stir-fry) & ¼ avocado

Meal 4.

Handful of nuts or 3-4 Oz meat (ham, turkey etc) & 2 piece string cheese Or protein drink as above

Meal 5.

Steak (8 Oz) with veggies, salad & ¼ avocado

Drink tea, coffee, or water. (If not using the ECA stack** then a load of brewed coffee is best)

Use artificial sweeteners to sweeten protein drinks & hot beverages only if you feel it is required. (I do not recommend artificial sweeteners)

Absolutely no fruit or sugar sources outside the weekend.

Suggested eating plan No. 2

Meal 1.

(6-10) Egg white omelet w/- mushrooms, tomato, l/f cheese, onions etc and tea, coffee or water.

Meal 2.

Chef salad w/- ham, cheese & egg. Or handful of raw nuts & cheese

Meal 3.

Chicken Caesar, Cobb, or Spinach and bacon salad etc w/- (no croutons)

Meal 4.

4 eggs, 4 strips bacon (or ham, Canadian bacon, sausage etc)

Meal 5.

Salmon (6-8 Oz) grilled, poached or baked with veggies, salad & ¼ avocado.

Meal 6.

(Optional, use only during transition phase if you are really craving sweets), nonfat yogurt, whey protein (1 scoop), flax oil 1 Tbsp (mix together as pudding)

Note: For the best results I recommend you stick as close as possible to the weekly examples I have provided. It is really not hard once you get into a groove.

The taper in.

In order for the transition to this P.E.P. to be smooth and relatively discomfort free, a lead in period of gradual carb reduction is suggested. This is a fairly simple process, as follows;

Week 1. P.E.P. only on Tuesday & Thursday.

Week 2. P.E.P. on Monday, Wednesday & Friday.

Week 3. P.E.P. every day except Wednesday.

Week 4. P.E.P. Monday to Friday.

This should see you make a smooth, pain free transition into the amazing world of fat burning.

During a 48 hr period on Saturday & Sunday basically eat what you feel like, try to keep it fairly healthy but succumb to your cravings because Monday you get strict again.

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EXAMPLE OF WEEKEND EATING PLAN:

Meal 1.

Non-fat milk (8 Oz), Oatmeal (8 Oz cooked), 3 egg whites (stirred into oatmeal), 5 dates (chopped & stirred into oatmeal)

Meal 2.

“Power Shake” 8 Oz Non-fat milk, 8 Oz Non-fat yogurt, 1 Banana (mix in blender)

Meal 3.

Roasted chicken (6 Oz), rice (1 cup), beans (6 Oz), Sherbet (3 scoops)

Meal 4.

Cottage cheese (1 cup), Pears (canned in own juice) 4 halves

Meal 5.

Peanut butter sandwich 1 Tbsp p-nut-butter + 1 Tbsp jelly on sprouted (flour-less) bread, Non-fat milk (1 cup) 1 Banana

Meal 6.

Tuna sandwich (tuna packed in water) on sprouted (flour-less) bread, 1 apple, handful of nuts (your favorite)

Meal 7.

“Power Shake” 8 Oz Non-fat milk, 8 Oz Non-fat yogurt, 1 Banana (mix in blender)

When trying to maximize strength, size and power, I load creatine on the weekends (5 grams with every meal). You may of course add whatever supplements you currently feel are beneficial to you reaching your health goals.

LBM = Lean Body Mass

BFP% = Body Fat Percentage

LGC = Low Glycemic Carb

P.E.P. = Personal Eating Plan

**ECA STACK = Ephedrine, Caffeine, Aspirin combined to elicit a Central nervous system stimulus which aids in fatty acid mobilization as well as increasing mental focus, suppressing appetite and may also aid in the increase of workout intensity.

If you have never experimented with this “stack” do so cautiously. I suggest using a mainstream brand such as “Ripped Fuel” by Twinlab etc. Start with less then the suggested dose and work up from there. I use one dose a day Mon-Thu when on this plan. If you do choose to use it, do not take it Friday-Sunday as it may interfere with the carb loading process. It is not required that you use the ECA stack to achieve success on this plan I mention it, only FYI.

*Lowering calories further during the weekdays can speed up weight loss but will increase the challenge and potential discomfort during this phase of the eating plan.

Supplement recommendations and all other aspects of this article are intended for informational purposes only. Consult with your primary care physician before experimenting with the CKD or any other P.E.P.

TAKU