Author Archives: SNI

Intermittent Eating

by Jose Antonio, PhD.  Eat frequently and spread it throughout the day.  Perhaps 6 per day.  Get 20 grams of protein minimally per meal.  Don’t skip any meals.  Whoa Nellie.  Hit the rewind button.  Ooops.  Generation “Z” has never seen a rewind button.  Uh. Instead hit ‘ctrl alt delete.’

Is the general advice given at the top of the page passé, wrong, or misguided?  Absolutely not.  It works and works well.  Increasing meal frequency can preserve lean body mass (during times of caloric restriction oddly enough) and have a positive effect on markers of health as well as appetite control.[1]  And there’s new evidence just published in the Journal of Nutrition (authors: Memerow MM et al) that spreading your calories evenly versus skewing them towards dinner results in a better anabolic response.

When it comes to gaining lean body mass, the two most important dietary factors are total calories and protein.  I imagine most members of the ISSN can single-handedly eat more than a family of four in the Philippines.  But as they say in Texas, “there’s more than one way to skin a cat.”  But if you’re from Florida, I guess it would be “there’s more than one way to peel an orange.”

So what exactly do you mean Professor Antonio?  Well here’s my pop quiz of the day for you.

What do worms, mice, rats, and perhaps us humans have in common? 

If you guessed that caloric restriction seems to lead to a longer life, then go to the head of the class.[2-6] In fact, both fasting as well as intermittent fasting seem to trigger a cascade of physiological events similar to caloric restriction.[7]  Now most of you view eating as a means to an end.  That end being recovering from exercise, increasing body weight and if you play your cards right, an improvement in body composition. But can you achieve similar ends (i.e. better body composition) via a route other than for instance macronutrient manipulation?  Can NOT eating sometimes be a good thing?  Well, put on your reading glasses and take your ADD meds.  See if you can follow the data.

Perhaps the most widely known (and widespread) period of fasting is during the month of Ramadan (the ninth month of the Islamic calendar).  The daily period of fasting starts at sunrise and ends at sunset.  No food, drink, smoking, or sex.  Yikes.  Count me out.  That’s cruel and unusual punishment.  Thomas Jefferson would not be pleased.

So what happens (or doesn’t happen) during Ramadan?  I found some interesting scientific observations.

1)      Hypertrophic training in a fasted or fed state during Ramadan has no effect on body composition in bodybuilders.[8]

2)      Fasting during Ramadan did not worsen glycemic control in type 2 diabetics.[9]

3)      Ramadan fasting results in a loss of body weight, body fat and fat free mass.[10]

4)      Ramadan fasting may lead to a drop in anaerobic power.[11]

5)      Increase in fatigability during training.[12]

6)      Significant improvement in cardiovascular disease risk factors.[13]

The summary above is by no means a comprehensive one.  For that I’d suggest you go to PubMed and read the umpteen studies done on the effects of Ramadan.  Fascinating stuff for sure.  I think the biggest obstacle in dealing with fasting, and more specifically, intermittent fasting (or IF) is that there isn’t a clear definition of what makes something ‘intermittent.’

One study defined IF as severe caloric restriction one day per week.  For me, that’s awesome! So I can smoke and drink the other 6 days a week.  JK.  This recent study looked at overweight women to see what impact IF with caloric restriction (IFCR) had on various measures.  The kicker was that some women ate a liquid diet.  We’ll call that IF-liquid.  The other group consumed a food based diet or IF-food.  After 8 weeks, they discovered that both groups lost similar amounts of fat; however, the IF-liquid group tended to lose more (6.2 pounds) compared to the IF-food group (4.2 pounds).  Reductions in total and LDL cholesterol levels were greater in the IF-liquid group as well.  So here’s a study showing that liquid delivery of calories works better than solid food to help fat women become not so fat.[14]

Another clinical trial used a different approach to IF.  The FCR (or Fasting and Calorie Restriction) approach used by these investigators was as follows:  There was a reduction in caloric intake of 300-500 calories per day compared to baseline.  In addition, this was combined with two days of ‘Muslim Sunnah fasting per week.’  This lasted 3 months.  A total of 32 healthy 60-year old men were randomized to either the FCR group (and were instructed to follow a calorie restricted dietary regime with intermittent fasting) or to the control group (in which individuals were asked to maintain their current lifestyle).  They found some intriguing results indeed.

Significant decreases in tension, anger, confusion and total mood disturbance and improvements in vigor were observed in participants in the FCR group compared to the control group. Body weight, BMI and percent body fat were reduced by 3.8%, 3.7% and 5.7% respectively in the FCR group.  So my USA Today headline would state that “FCR makes you happier and you lose weight and fat to boot!”[15]  Of course, are these subjects happier because of the method of fasting?  Or are they happier because their bellies no longer flop over their belt buckle?

Bottom line:

  • If this is confusing to you then join the club.
  • Fasting and more specifically intermittent fasting or IF suffers from the same fate as beauty.  It’s hard to define beauty, but we know it when we see it.  So what exactly is IF?
  • Is it the sunrise to sunset fast seen during the month of Ramadan?
  • Is it severe caloric restriction one day a week?
  • Is it skipping dinner five days a week and eating most of your calories early in the day?
  • Is intermittent fasting really the same thing as intermittent feeding which is really the same thing as skipping meals on occasion?  Didn’t your momma tell you not to skip meals?

What’s your goal?

  • If your goal is losing body fat so that you look pretty in a selfie, giving IF a try may indeed be worth it.
  • If your goal is overall general health and you’d like to live longer than a Galapagos tortoise, then fast away.
  • If your goal is gaining lean body mass, then avoid IF the way a gazelle avoids a cheetah.  Run away…fast!
  • If your goal is performing optimally in a sport, you’d be a fool to try it.

So sports nutrition smarty-pants, what’s your goal?



1.           La Bounty PM, Campbell BI, Wilson J, Galvan E, Berardi J, Kleiner SM, Kreider RB, Stout JR, Ziegenfuss T, Spano M, et al: International Society of Sports Nutrition position stand: meal frequency. J Int Soc Sports Nutr 2011, 8:4.

2.           Uno M, Honjoh S, Matsuda M, Hoshikawa H, Kishimoto S, Yamamoto T, Ebisuya M, Yamamoto T, Matsumoto K, Nishida E: A fasting-responsive signaling pathway that extends life span in C. elegans. Cell Rep 2013, 3:79-91.

3.           De Petrocellis L, Di Marzo V: Cell signalling: why fasting worms age slowly. Nature 2011, 473:161-163.

4.           Martin B, Mattson MP, Maudsley S: Caloric restriction and intermittent fasting: two potential diets for successful brain aging. Ageing Res Rev 2006, 5:332-353.

5.           Mahoney LB, Denny CA, Seyfried TN: Caloric restriction in C57BL/6J mice mimics therapeutic fasting in humans. Lipids Health Dis 2006, 5:13.

6.           Kokaze A, Ishikawa M, Matsunaga N, Yoshida M, Makita R, Satoh M, Teruya K, Sekiguchi K, Masuda Y, Harada M, et al: Longevity-associated mitochondrial DNA 5178 C/A polymorphism is associated with fasting plasma glucose levels and glucose tolerance in Japanese men. Mitochondrion 2005, 5:418-425.

7.           Anton S, Leeuwenburgh C: Fasting or caloric restriction for healthy aging. Exp Gerontol 2013, 48:1003-1005.

8.           Trabelsi K, Stannard SR, Ghlissi Z, Maughan RJ, Kallel C, Jamoussi K, Zeghal KM, Hakim A: Effect of fed- versus fasted state resistance training during Ramadan on body composition and selected metabolic parameters in bodybuilders. J Int Soc Sports Nutr 2013, 10:23.

9.           Sahin SB, Ayaz T, Ozyurt N, Ilkkilic K, Kirvar A, Sezgin H: The Impact of Fasting during Ramadan on the Glycemic Control of Patients with Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus. Exp Clin Endocrinol Diabetes 2013, 121:531-534.

10.         Norouzy A, Salehi M, Philippou E, Arabi H, Shiva F, Mehrnoosh S, Mohajeri SM, Mohajeri SA, Motaghedi Larijani A, Nematy M: Effect of fasting in Ramadan on body composition and nutritional intake: a prospective study. J Hum Nutr Diet 2013, 26 Suppl 1:97-104.

11.         Bouhlel H, Shephard RJ, Gmada N, Aouichaoui C, Peres G, Tabka Z, Bouhlel E: Effect of Ramadan observance on maximal muscular performance of trained men. Clin J Sport Med 2013, 23:222-227.

12.         Aloui A, Chaouachi A, Chtourou H, Wong del P, Haddad M, Chamari K, Souissi N: Effects of Ramadan on the diurnal variations of repeated-sprint performances. Int J Sports Physiol Perform 2013, 8:254-262.

13.         Nematy M, Alinezhad-Namaghi M, Rashed MM, Mozhdehifard M, Sajjadi SS, Akhlaghi S, Sabery M, Mohajeri SA, Shalaey N, Moohebati M, Norouzy A: Effects of Ramadan fasting on cardiovascular risk factors: a prospective observational study. Nutr J 2012, 11:69.

14.         Klempel MC, Kroeger CM, Bhutani S, Trepanowski JF, Varady KA: Intermittent fasting combined with calorie restriction is effective for weight loss and cardio-protection in obese women. Nutr J 2012, 11:98.

15.         Hussin NM, Shahar S, Teng NI, Ngah WZ, Das SK: Efficacy of Fasting and Calorie Restriction (FCR) on Mood and Depression among Ageing Men. J Nutr Health Aging 2013, 17:674-680.


Come hang out with all the sports nutrition smarty-pants at the ISSN Conference and Expo, June 20-21 in beautiful Clearwater Beach FL,


Energy Drinks and McDonalds

By Jose Antonio PhD FISSN.  Let’s face it.  Energy drinks are as much a part of our culture as tailgating, barbequing on the weekends, cheering for the underdog, and overeating during the Thanksgiving holiday.  With folks in a mad dash to accomplish umpteen things during the day, it’s no wonder that energy drinks are as ubiquitous as chopsticks in a Chinese restaurant. In fact, the US energy drink category is expected to hit an amazing 19.7 billion dollars in 2013.  Now that my friends is a bunch of money.  So it should come as no surprise when Monster Energy Drink gets sued vis a vis the death of a 14-year old girl.  It’s like going to a buffet and realizing that all the food is gone.  Who do you blame?  Oh yeah, the fat man in the corner with plates stacked from floor to ceiling. 

If that flew over your head, my point is folks want to blame somebody or something.  And who better to blame (and make money) than a large company with a big fat wallet.  That’s the easy way.  And apparently what they teach in law school (this of course doesn’t apply to my legal friends). :-)

So the story goes like this: “A complaint filed by Wendy Crossland and Richard Fournier, of Maryland, states that their daughter, Anais Fournier, went into cardiac arrest after consuming the drinks.  Monster Beverage Corp. is based in Riverside County, Calif., which is where the case was filed. Fournier was “unconscious when emergency personnel arrived at her home,” according to the complaint. Doctors at Johns Hopkins Hospital induced a coma in an attempt to reduce brain swelling, but after several days, “the decision was made to terminate life support,” the complaint said.  The opinion of the Maryland medical examiner’s office is that Fournier died of cardiac arrhythmia due to caffeine toxicity that impeded her heart’s ability to pump blood.  The autopsy report also concluded that Fournier suffered from Ehlers-Danlos syndrome — an inherited disorder that can make connective tissues, like skin and blood vessel walls, flexible and weak.”  (Original source:

Now certainly, the loss of a child is perhaps the most devastating event that could happen in anyone’s life.  There is no recovering from it.  Ever.   However, what is just blatantly incorrect is to blame an energy drink (and in particular caffeine) when it is clear that there are warning labels plastered on these drinks that are as obvious as those ugly billboards up and down Interstate 95. 

Keep in mind, the primary ingredient in these drinks is caffeine.  And coffee is THE original energy drink.  What’s next, Starbucks getting sued because someone decides to down 10 Frappaccinos?  Fournier apparently consumed two 24-ounce Monster drinks within 24 hours.  With roughly 240 mg of caffeine in a 24 ounce can, that makes for a total of 480 mg of caffeine.  That interestingly enough is really not a high dose.   On the surface, there is just so much that seems out of kilter with this lawsuit.  Blaming an energy drink for this is like blaming McDonald’s for obesity. 

Science Says

Rather than giving you my personal opinion, here’s an edification on the science.  I will admit however that caffeine is one of my favorite supplements/drugs of all time.  The first thing I do in the morning is head straight to the coffee maker and brew up some super strong java.  This stuff is great; it works very well and it has a safety record longer than the Great Wall of China.

Besides an energy boost, endurance enhancer, and a brain stimulator, there’s evidence that caffeine can alter improve performance in tasks of strength and speed.  For instance, maximal anaerobic power increases significantly after ingesting 250 mg of caffeine.  According to a recent study published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine, “caffeine can favourably affect some strength parameters in highly resistance-trained males.1”  Furthemore, a “caffeine-containing supplement may be an effective supplement for increasing upper-body strength.” 2  So even the strongest of the strong can benefit from caffeine supplementation.

Also, caffeine ingestion resulted in a blood lactate level that was higher versus the placebo.  Meaning, caffeine allows you to work a lot harder (hence, the greater lactic acid build up!).  So you think those guys competing for the yellow jersey in the land of wine and the Eiffel tower are the only ones to use caffeine?3  (Okay, they use other stuff, but that’s for another article on another day).

A Pain No More

Ever wondered why many over the counter pain medications have caffeine added to them?  Adding caffeine to both aspirin or acetaminophen makes them relieve headache pain about 40% better than they do without caffeine. Caffeine also helps your body absorb these medications, allowing you to get back to your daily life faster.4 In a study of low caffeine consuming college-aged males, they took one of two doses of caffeine (5 or 10 mg of caffeine per kg body weight) or placebo and 1 hour later completed 30 minutes of moderate intensity cycling exercise (60% VO2peak).

Caffeine increased resting systolic pressure in a dose-dependent fashion but these blood pressure effects were not maintained during exercise. Caffeine had a significant linear effect on leg muscle pain ratings meaning the higher the dose, the better pain relief provided by caffeine. The average pain intensity scores during exercise after ingesting 10 mg caffeine per kg body weight, 5 mg per kg, and placebo were 2.1, 2.6, and 3.5, respectively (the lower the number, the more pain relief).  According to the authors, “the results support the conclusion that caffeine ingestion has a dose-response effect on reducing leg muscle pain during exercise and that these effects do not depend on caffeine-induced increases in systolic blood pressure during exercise.”5,6

Now you probably have noticed that a dose of 10 mg per kg body weight of caffeine is equal to 681 mg for a 150 lb individual. 

The International Society of Sports Nutrition published a Position Stand on caffeine which can be summarized by the following seven points:

1.)    Caffeine is effective for enhancing sport performance in trained athletes when consumed in low-to-moderate dosages (~3-6 mg/kg) and overall does not result in further enhancement in performance when consumed in higher dosages (≥ 9 mg/kg).

2.)     Caffeine exerts a greater ergogenic effect when consumed in an anhydrous state as compared to coffee.

3.)    It has been shown that caffeine can enhance vigilance during bouts of extended exhaustive exercise, as well as periods of sustained sleep deprivation.

4.)     Caffeine is ergogenic for sustained maximal endurance exercise, and has been shown to be highly effective for time-trial performance.

5.)      Caffeine supplementation is beneficial for high-intensity exercise, including team sports such as soccer and rugby, both of which are categorized by intermittent activity within a period of prolonged duration.

6.)    The literature is equivocal when considering the effects of caffeine supplementation on strength-power performance, and additional research in this area is warranted.

7.)     The scientific literature does not support caffeine-induced diuresis during exercise, or any harmful change in fluid balance that would negatively affect performance.7

Bottom line: when used properly, caffeine (and hence energy drinks) are clearly quite safe.

SIDE BAR – Special Sugar – Ribose

Caffeine is clearly the ‘king’ of energy.  However, other ingredients are worth looking at as well. For instance, the carbohydrate category is intriguing.  Remember, sugars do provide energy and are an important fuel for intense anaerobic exercise.  Do you think you’ve got a handle on carbohydrates?  You’ve got complex carbs, simple sugars, low, high, and medium glycemic sugars and carbs.  One of the lesser known sugars is something called ribose.

Ribose chemistry – First let’s start with a little biochemistry to help you understand what exactly ribose is.  At our most basic level, we need to synthesize adenosine triphospate (ATP) in order for us to generate energy for muscle contraction (as well as all energy-requiring processes).  The adenosine part of ATP is made up of adenine and ribose; attached to that are three phosphate molecules (hence, TRIphosphate).  See, this is as simple as 8th grade biology.  In order for your body to produce energy, one of those phosphate molecules is cut off from ATP thus forming ADP (adenosine DIphosphate).  Now we’re left with adenine, ribose, plus 2 phosphates. I’m going to skip a few steps (yawn…biochemistry can be boring) to get to the point. Ribose can help via a couple ways.  One way is called the “salvage pathway.”  Basically, your body tries to get the breakdown products from energy metabolism and recycle them such that you replenish your ATP supplies.  Ribose helps promote this salvage pathway such that your ATP stores are replenished.  But if you’re short on ribose, your body has to create ATP from scratch.  This happens if your body excretes too much of the metabolic byproducts of metabolism.  And for the creation of “new” ATP, ribose is also needed.  Interestingly, glucose can also do the job; but it’s a much slower process.  If you’re someone who exercises intensely, supplemental ribose may be helpful.  Here’s one study that shows an ergogenic effect of ribose.

In a study published in Current Therapeutic Research, scientists gave healthy, male recreational bodybuilders (18 to 35 years) either placebo (dextrose) or ribose (10 g/d in powder formulation). The ribose-supplemented group experienced a significant before and after increase in the total work performed, whereas the placebo group did not change significantly. Also, the ribose-supplemented group experienced a significant increase in 1-RM bench press strength, whereas the placebo group did not change significantly.  Furthermore, ribose has been shown to have the following effects as well.  Perhaps its antioxidant effects are the most intriguing.

  1. The combination of D-ribose with reducing antioxidants may provide a more optimal state of cellular protection during and following times of oxidative stress.1
  2. Ribose demonstrated a beneficial trend in lower MDA and reduced glutathione levels during hypoxic stress.2
  3. Ribose may both serve as an energy source and enhance the de novo synthesis of purine nucleotides.3
  4. Ribose, a naturally occurring pentose sugar, has been shown to enhance the recovery of myocardial or skeletal muscle ATP and TAN levels following ischemia or high-intensity exercise.4

Bottom line:  in addition to caffeine, ribose may be a ‘energy’ supplement that’s good for your cells.

References – Ribose

1.             Addis P, Shecterle LM, St Cyr JA. Cellular protection during oxidative stress: a potential role for D-ribose and antioxidants. Journal of dietary supplements 2012;9:178-82.

2.             Seifert JG, Subudhi AW, Fu MX, et al. The role of ribose on oxidative stress during hypoxic exercise: a pilot study. Journal of medicinal food 2009;12:690-3.

3.             Wagner DR, Gresser U, Zollner N. Effects of oral ribose on muscle metabolism during bicycle ergometer in AMPD-deficient patients. Annals of nutrition & metabolism 1991;35:297-302.

4.             Dodd SL, Johnson CA, Fernholz K, St Cyr JA. The role of ribose in human skeletal muscle metabolism. Medical hypotheses 2004;62:819-24.

References – Caffeine

1.            Jacobson BH, Weber MD, Claypool L, Hunt LE. Effect of caffeine on maximal strength and power in elite male athletes. British journal of sports medicine 1992;26:276-80.

2.            Beck TW, Housh TJ, Schmidt RJ, et al. The acute effects of a caffeine-containing supplement on strength, muscular endurance, and anaerobic capabilities. Journal of strength and conditioning research / National Strength & Conditioning Association 2006;20:506-10.

3.            Anselme F, Collomp K, Mercier B, Ahmaidi S, Prefaut C. Caffeine increases maximal anaerobic power and blood lactate concentration. Eur J Appl Physiol Occup Physiol 1992;65:188-91.

4.            Strong FC, 3rd. It may be the caffeine in Extra Strength Excedrin that is effective for migraine. The Journal of pharmacy and pharmacology 1997;49:1260.

5.            O’Connor PJ, Motl RW, Broglio SP, Ely MR. Dose-dependent effect of caffeine on reducing leg muscle pain during cycling exercise is unrelated to systolic blood pressure. Pain 2004;109:291-8.

6.            Motl RW, O’Connor PJ, Dishman RK. Effect of caffeine on perceptions of leg muscle pain during moderate intensity cycling exercise. J Pain 2003;4:316-21.

7.            Goldstein ER, Ziegenfuss T, Kalman D, et al. International society of sports nutrition position stand: caffeine and performance. Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition 2010;7:5.

Tips for Big Guns

by Ramsey Rodriguez CSCS CISSN. Building big arms has been a fascination and/or an obsession for those of us who lift weights.   My bodybuilding and personal training career spans over three decades and I can truly say I learned the most about building big arms while working with Professor Angel Spassov who is one of the best Strength Coaches in the World!  He told me, “I have conquered every sport in the world and Bodybuilding is no different.”  I don’t want to bore you with describing more of the same exercises you have done for your arms.  But, what I will do is offer you some insight that may be new to you and that will help you build your arms.  Before you can build the arms you want; you need to understand what stimulates your arms for growth. The secret is in knowing that the muscle fiber types in the arms, which are composed mostly of slow twitch muscles, are stimulated best with higher reps and lower weights. They do assist in strength exercises like the bench press or power exercises such as the Power Clean; however, when performing an isolation arm exercise such as tricep extensions or bicep curls they function as endurance muscles; therefore, higher reps should be used.

3  Tips to Build Big Arms

  • Use High Rep Sets ((20-25 reps)

(12-15 rep sets  if you are new to using higher rep sets)

  • 6-8total sets (per muscle group) in order to prevent over-training.

NOTE: Only 1-2 exercises should be used.

  • Use Heavy Bench Press work followed by Tricep work for a greater effect (not supersets). The combination of the two provides for greater stimulation and recovery.

3 Mistakes People Make

  • Going Too Heavy! We have all seen the picture of a bodybuilder performing a 225 lb curl – this is just for show and it is definitely not part of his workout-besides it’s not realistic because they are probably using lots of steroids.
  • Too Much Arm Work– Overload the muscles too much and you will not recover!
  • Not Including enough Strength Exercises like pull ups, chin ups, bench press, and dips into your workout.

***Quick Note:  How do you know if its time to change your exercise or sets/reps?  The arms are no longer getting the “pump sensation” while doing your workout.

Now that I have made my opinion based on the education and experience from working closely with one of the smartest Coaches in the World of strength- we need to address the Power of Program design.  People talk a lot about exercises however little seems to be discussed about how it is implemented in a workout program. To do this we need to create a specialized training program for the arms. In order to do this we need to carefully implement acute training variables necessary to create a program of at least 6 weeks (Meso-Cycle).

 Program Design- here is some guidelines in designing a workout program.

Beginner- (0-6 months of serious lifting)


Exercise- Barbell Curls – 3 sets of 12-15 reps

Incline Dumbbell Curls – 3 sets of 12-15 reps

(use only a slight incline-most people create too much angle).


Exercises   Lying Triceps Extensions – 3 sets of 12-15 reps

Seated Triceps Dumbbell Extensions – 3 sets of 12-15 reps

Rest Interval:  60-90 seconds between sets.

Frequency- once a week

Intermediate- 6 months/1 yr. of serious lifting


Exercises- Barbell Curls  3-4 sets of 15-20 reps

Dumbbell Incline Curls – 3-4 sets of 15-20 reps


Exercises- Lying Triceps Extension – 3-4 sets of 15-20 reps

Seated Dumbbell Extension – 3-4 sets of 15-20 reps

Rest Interval:: 1.5-2 minutes between sets.

Frequency:  2 times/week

Note- AA lot of people fall into the category of intermediate training.  Keep.  K in mind while performing these protocols you will need to use lighter weight and rest between sets (rest intervals) of 1.5 minutes (90 sec.)  up to 2 minutes for proper recovery.  These higher reps create an increase of “workload“”; therefore requiring more rest between sets! Only 85% of the ATP energy source is restored in this time, however intensity work of 65-75% is very possible w/ this rest interval.

Advanced- at this stage of training, the program can be more complex; therefore, more “Ingenuity” is required.  Two Important Required Factors:

  1.  If you want to increase arm size, you must be on a weight gain program, the body will NOT grow the arms, if you are not gaining any body weight.
  2. More development can be gained in building the arms by increasing the weight in upper body exercises such as the bench/incline press/s (get stronger) training intensity of 80-90% of a max and high rep Pull ups ( I perform up to 100 pull ups per workout).


(NOTE: if you have consistently been using a bicep exercise for more than 3-4 weeks then change the bicep exercise to another basic one for another cycle of 3-4 weeks w/ these protocols):):

Exercises- Standing Dumbbell Curls – 6-8 sets of 25 reps


(Note- if you are following a heavy bench press routine of 5-6 sets you will only need 1 tricep exercise of 4-6 sets).

Perform 6-8 sets with 15-20 Reps each set, if you are training your arms in a split routine.

Frequency 2-3 times a week

Exercises- Reverse Triceps Dips – 3-4 sets of 15-20 reps (One of my personal favorites)

(If you are unable to perform this exercise, then I would recommend you do bench dips)

Lying Dumbbell Tricep Extension – 3-4 sets of 15-20 reps

I know a lot of you will still question whether or not these ““higher rep routines” will develop the arms.  Keep this in mind:

3sets x 8rep each set (95lb) bicep curls= 24 reps x 95 lbs= 2,280 lbs “total work load” vs

A high rep set of 3 sets x 25 reps (65lb) = 75 reps x 65 lbs= 4,875 lbs “total work load”

This is almost 2,600 lbs of greater workload using the higher rep set, now do you get my point! You’re Growing Bigger Guns Faster!

I’ll give you a good testimony of strength using the high rep method, since I have been doing these ‘high rep’ exercises for arms most of my career. I have been challenged in the gym a couple of times.  Someone once bet me I could not curl the 65lb dumbbells- I accepted the challenge and curled the 65’s for 6 reps.  In another challenge, I curled the 75 lb dumbbells for 6 reps.  Honestly, I surprised myself of having this strength (I could not have performed this heavy weight consistently for 6 reps without having trained using this “High Rep” System.)  And, just in case you were wondering…in the off season, my arms measure out naturally at 18”.  Yours can to – so get to it!

In summary, when it comes to building the arms don’t limit your workouts with doing the same old reps.  Reach out of your comfort zone and go for the High Reps!  You will feel your arms BURN and get a major PUMP.  I am not the first person to offer this rep range, Jeff Everson former editor of Muscle & Fitness has written articles offering higher reps for the arms especially for bicep training.   Good Luck with your workouts.

About the Author:  Ramsey Rodriguez is a Sports Fitness Consultant with 25 years of professional experience in fitness training, sports nutrition and natural alternatives for health and wellness.  He has also created sport-specific training and nutrition programs for various professional and collegiate athletes in the areas of football, sprinting, swimming, weightlifting and powerlifting.  His

Mission Statement:  I am 100% committed to the passion and pursuit of improving human performance.

Ramsey Rodriguez was born and raised in Texas, earned his Bachelor of Science degree in Physical Education and a minor in Health from The University of Texas at San Antonio.  He is a nationally certified sports trainer credentialed as a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist (CSCS) through the National Strength and Conditioning Association (NSCA).  He also carries a CISSN certification from the International Society of Sports Nutrition.  Ramsey is a disciple of Dr. Angel Spassov ( a world-renowned Bulgarian strength and conditioning specialist and former 7 time Olympic Coach), who taught him Periodization Training methods based on Eastern Bloc theory and whose inspiration led to the creation and development of  “Tribustol” some years later.  In 1994, Ramsey, alongside several other notable names in the sports industry, conducted the first Creatine Monohydrate studies for weightlifters.  Over the past 15 years, Ramsey Rodriguez has made appearances on several televised sports/fitness programs, including, “The Larry North Fitness Show”.  He has also published articles for various health and fitness magazines and has collaborated with and been featured in several internet articles by Jon Benson, including the popular book, “Fit Over 40”.

In addition to his accomplishments, Ramsey founded two successful companies:  Pinnicle Fitness, Inc. and Nutritional Ergogenic Systems (NES).  NES is dedicated to developing safe and effective nutritional supplements designed as an alternative to anabolic steroids.  NES was formed around the creation and development of “Tribustol”- an all natural proprietary blend that is solely intended to enhance performance, build lean muscle mass, improve strength and quicken recovery time.

Currently, Ramsey resides in Dallas, Texas.  He is a competitive natural bodybuilder and former NPC Bodybuilding Judge.  He also takes an active interest in powerlifting via his affiliation with 100% RAW Powerlifting.

Ramsey Rodriguez  is the Founder of the Nutritional Ergogenic Systems Inc.;


Interview – Brad Schoenfeld PhD

Who wouldn’t want to look great naked?!

Brad: If you’re talking about the “average” exerciser, then the most important advice I could give is simply to focus on energy balance. Basic application of the first law of thermodynamics: take in fewer calories than you expend and you’ll lose weight. It gets a lot more complicated for those who are already lean and looking to optimize body comp.

SNI: What is the single biggest misconception when it comes to exercise training if your goal is to lose body fat?

Brad:  Without a doubt, the single biggest misconception about losing body fat is that this is best accomplished by performing cardio. In fact, resistance training is generally even more important. I’ve had excellent success using metabolic resistance training protocols that maximize training density as a primary component of a fat loss routine. Studies show these types of routines have substantial effects on excess post-exercise oxygen consumption (EPOC), and that the effects can last for several days! Moreover, as opposed to cardio, resistance training helps to preserve or even increase muscle mass while dieting, thus preserving/elevating metabolic rate. Based on my experience, combining high-intensity interval training with metabolic resistance training is best to optimize fat loss.

SNI: Regarding folks who just want to get big (i.e. just want skeletal muscle hypertrophy), can you summarize the nuts and bolts of the ‘best’ way (if it exists) to train to achieve this goal. High volume, lower loads, or is it high load, low volume, or is it both? Or is it a bit of everything?

Brad:  Volume is a big key to maximizing hypertrophy. Research is very clear on this—up to a given point, greater volume loads equate to greater muscle growth. As a general rule, moderate reps for multiple sets have proven best based on my experience, but it’s certainly beneficial to include a range of loading schemes. I’m a big fan of periodizing routines and have developed a program that varies volume over time to bring about maximum results. It’s really important to include “unloading” intervals into the mix to facilitate recuperation and prevent overtraining. I have a new book coming out called the “MAX Muscle Plan” that details this program. Look for it this fall!

SNI: Describe the importance of ‘marrying’ the scientific evidence of training/nutrition with ‘real world’ experience.

Brad: This is such an important point! Any evidence-based approach (which we all should take with respect to fitness) should look at the body of research and then apply the evidence to our practical experience and the needs of the individual. One of the biggest problems I see is that researchers and practitioners get entrenched in opposite camps: the researchers will only go by what has been shown in the literature and the practitioners disregard the research and take a purely intuitive approach. Invariably, evidence-based practice essentially “marries” these factors to produce a better outcome.

SNI: You are pursuing a PhD. What was your ‘aha’ moment in deciding this and what experimental question will you attempt to answer?

Brad:  My ‘aha’ moment was that I ultimately realized I wanted to teach full-time at the university level and this requires a PhD. The focus of my doctoral work is to help determine the optimal combination of variables for maximal muscle development in trained subjects. It’s hard to believe, but the research is virtually non-existent in this area. Hopefully my research will address our gaps in knowledge and further out ability to pack on more muscle!

SNI:  And last but not least, if you could be a superhero, who would it be and why?

Brad:  Definitely the Hulk. Except for the green skin, who wouldn’t want to look like Lou Ferrigno? :)

BIO – Brad Schoenfeld MSc CSCS is an internationally renowned fitness expert and widely regarded as one of the leading authorities on body composition training (muscle development and fat loss). He is a lifetime drug-free bodybuilder, and has won numerous natural bodybuilding titles including the ANPPC Tri-State Naturals and USA Mixed Pairs crowns.  Go here for more info:


Paddling and Corenography

coreby Jose Antonio PhD FISSN. Not to be confused with Pornography, Corenography instead refers to the proliferation of books, websites, and blogs dedicated to ‘Core Training.’ Nevertheless, do a search on and faster than you can download that goofya$$ video of the fake Kardashian wedding video, you’ll find scores of fitness books dedicated to training the ‘Core.’  Sort of like the ‘core’ of an apple, you can define ‘core training’ as training the muscles attached to your torso (i.e. the abdominal muscles and lower back).  This includes all the abdominal muscles (rectus abdominus, internal and external obliques, transverse abdominus and intercostals), the spine (the erector spinae group) and the hip flexors (iliacus and psoas, together known as the iliopsoas).  Basically these muscles stabilize and move the center or core of your body.  All this anatomy talk is making me sleepy.  Back to my point.  Apparently core training can do lots of things.  If you look at various book titles, you have “The Complete Book of Core Training: The Definitive Resource for Shaping and Strengthening the “Core” — the Muscles of the Abdomen, Butt, Hips, and Lower Back.”  That pretty much explains it.   But then you have a ‘revolutionary’ type of program (sort of like the American or French Revolution I guess) in “The Core Performance: The Revolutionary Workout Program to Transform Your Body & Your Life.”  And of course, if your IQ doesn’t exceed a banana, then “The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Core Conditioning Illustrated” is for you.You’d think with a plethora of books on core training that nobody figured out before that training your abs, back, and hip flexors/extensors was important.  But as with many things in exercise, it’s basically a ‘different way’ of looking at the same thing.  If you do a full squat, you are training the core.  If you do heavy curls using an EZ curl bar, believe me, you’re training the ‘core.’  Heck, doing a friggin’ push-up trains the ‘core.’  But if you’re tired of the gym and doing silly exercises on Swiss Balls, BOSU, and assorted plastic contraptions, why not do ‘core’ work that also serves to increase muscle strength and endurance.  And it’s a helluva lot more fun that balancing on a stinkin’ Swiss ball.  What is it? Outrigger paddling my friends.  What exactly is outrigger paddling?  Well way back when, ole Captain Cook arrived in Kealakekua Bay in the year 1779, he reported seeing at least 1500 canoes. Purportedly, Hawaii must have numbered between 6,000 and 12,000 canoes for a population of 175,000 to 225,000. ( Here was a culture that was dependent on the ocean and used ancient canoes to get from the beach to 7-11.  Okay, maybe not 7-11, but when you’re in need of coconut water, the island next door might be your best bet. Polynesians actually have used the outrigger canoe as a mode of travel dating back thousands of years.  Paddling, specifically outrigger canoe paddling, utilize all the core muscles, as well as the muscles surrounding the shoulder joint.  The rotation, flexion, and extension of the torso while paddling is a much better core workout than all the latest fad of the day exercises that you see at your local gym.  In fact, the paddling sports are unique as a strength-endurance sport in that you train your cardiovascular system intensely but in addition, you can gain quite a bit of muscle mass, especially in the back and shoulders.  Think of each paddling stroke as weight training using water as resistance.  For instance, an ‘easy’ workout would consist of a one hour paddle in which your stroke cadence is 60 per minute (15 strokes left then right, alternating); if you do a rep count, that’s 1,800 reps on the left and right side respectively.  That to me, is a helluva lot better than getting on some newfangled plastic ball and doing an exercise that you’ll never encounter in real life.  But that’s just me.

So do yourself a favor, take a break from the gym and workout on the water.  There are paddling clubs all over the world.  Check out (the pictures here are courtesy of them), and Believe me; It is more fun getting a hard workout on the open ocean doing strength-endurance work for the upper body and ‘core’ while working the lower extremity muscles as stabilizers.  And besides, how often can you workout and see dolphins all at the same time?



Interview – Tony Ricci MS FISSN CNS

Tony is a Fellow of the ISSN and ISSN Certified Sports Nutritionist.  He sat down with SNI to chat about training and the fight sports!

SNI:  The majority of your career is dedicated to sports nutrition. However your focus in S & C is exclusively to combat sports, why just this particular sports discipline? And besides, MMA is one of my favorite sports to watch! (Jose Antonio).

First, because I have a lifetime of practice dedicated to multiple disciplines within the combat sports. Secondly, I love the challenge of conditioning the biomotor abilities in combat sports. I enjoy balancing the delicate art and science of training protocols for these athletes. The fact that linear periodization models for strength, power and speed, can rarely be applied due to a host of variables, really makes S&C for elite level fighters as much of an art as a science. Your protocols can put a fighter in rehabilitation for 3 – 6 months, or potentially contribute to a world championship/title performance. And, then there is the psychological aspect of conditioning a fighter that I love most. You are not just training their biomotor abilities, you are training their mind. You are further instilling a belief within them that they are a champion, and no matter what happens on the mat, in the ring, or the octagon, they have been there many times over in their training, and then cannot be broken mentally as a result.

SNI: What is your first line of strategy in program design for fighters?

Oh boy, first the balancing acts. That is, balancing the egos and concerns of every coach, manager and promoter. You find most of the people you deal with in the combats sports are themselves well-balanced, as they have a chip on each shoulder. After that, I collaborate extensively with the coaches from all disciplines. I need to know what they want out of their fighter and how they want to dictate the fight. Once this is done I gather an extensive background on the fighters past training disciplines so immediately I will know how they have been conditioned previously and where they may lag as a result. I will review all the available data and film of my fighter as well that of their opponent. Once I have this information I know how each fighter wins or loses, submission, knockout, decision, and how long it takes them to do so. Have they won early and never gone 3 five minute rounds, or have they historically taken it to the bell? With this data I can now start formulating my program to my fighter’s strengths and weaknesses, conditioning them to ensure a  rough night for his/her opponent.

SNI: After consultation with trainers, coaches, and aggregating data, what is an example of how you may design protocols specifically for a fighter?

Once we establish peace and consistency amongst trainers, managers, etc, I will design the program with two things in mind first, their previous conditioning experience and the conditioning necessary to dictate the fight. For example, if I have a wrestler with supreme systemic cardio conditioning and the ability to fight endlessly on the ground, when transitioning to MMA, we will do extensive conditioning on strike specific exercises, both for punching and kicking, as they may have to further enhance their localized endurance and buffering capacity in the extremities to ensure high striking volume if needed. For the experienced Jiu Jitsu competitor moving to MMA we emphasize a lot of explosive level- changes. This sport occurs with the body horizontal to the ground most of the match, so standing them up to improve striking ability and endurance on their feet is vital as they already have an established conditioning base for ground fighting. And for the boxer or kickboxer going MMA, they will now need absolute power and strength not used as much in a stand-up game, so we’ll emphasize grip strength and endurance, full body isometric strengthening, and movements enhancing the biomotor abilities for take down defense and surviving on the ground.

SNI:  Is developing S & C programs for the combat athletes distinctly different than other sports?

Yes! Of course all elite level athletes have enormous training volume, but the pro fighter may supersede that of any athlete with the exception of some Olympic athletes. There are so many interdisciplinary training practices and coaches involved that you really have to carefully adjust your program based upon total training volume, or be sure to be scolded by everyone, including a pilates coach who once took it to me for my training protocols as she insisted her discipline took greater precedent over mine in fight specific preparation. Nevertheless, remember, you win these sports by knocking out or hurting your opponent more than they hurt you, so the fighter will go through a camp with multiple minor and major injuries, so your best calculated plans and periodization models are likely to be incessantly interrupted. And while true of all elite athletes, more often than not you will have to pull your fighter away from training and force them to rest as opposed to telling them to turn it up.

SNI: Is there a significant difference in training the stand-up fighter, for example, as opposed to wrestler or mma ground fighting specialist.

Definitely! I emphasize relative power, speed and strength more with the stand up fighter, power to bodyweight ratio. That is, the ability to relocate their body at high speeds. I have always said fighting is like real estate, in which they say all that matters is – location, location, location! Fighting too is location, location, location, particularly for the boxer and kickboxer if they wish to hit with maximum power or avoid being hit by maximum power. I do extensive footwork and lateral plyometric work with my stand up fighters. The MMA fighter will tie up, hold, grab and literally lift their opponents at times, so there is a much greater emphasis on absolute power, speed and strength. The MMA protocol will include a lot more loads in various exercises to assist in manipulating their opponent’s bodyweight. Additionally, the differences may be most evident in their cardio conditioning, as a stand up fighter may require some road/distance work, whereas the cardiovascular protocols of the MMA fighter generally emphasize sprinting/interval training. There is course interdisciplinary carry over in training, but these are some possible differences.

SNI: The art and science of S & C for combat sports seems to be progressing rapidly, nevertheless, where do you think improvement is needed.

In short, assessing the needs of each fighter is imperative. I understand the difficulty in individualizing programming when working with multiple fighters or a large camp, but conditioning is best when specific to the aforementioned variables for each fighter. A training program that may improve the performance and fighting style of one athlete can truly impede the performance of another. I have said the same about nutrition, while it is necessary and beneficial to scale dietary practices, is it also at times a travesty to attempt to do so.

SNI: Which training camp are you affiliated with now? Bellmore Kickboxing  and Long Island MMA

A shout out to my business partners @   Chris Algieri, fellow CISSN and Dr Michael Camp who always further my knowledge in fight science. Thanks to good friend Doug Balzarini from whom I have learned much and JC Santana for pioneering S&C for combat sports. 

Contact Tony @ 917-520-7819 or

5 Life Stressors That Are Affecting Your Training

by the Dynamic Duo.  “I’m tired. I feel overtrained. I have no energy. I ate like crap the other day. I had a long day at work. I feel fat. My genetics suck.”

We remember our last year of College taking 15 Units per semester, doing an internship, working 32 hours a week, homework, projects, and training. MY LAWD we were extremely busy and evidently this lead to mental stress. We started to continuously say things like the above statements and the mental stress started to affect our training and that was a huge, huge DEAL-E-O.

We’re writing this because we feel too many people overlook the component of life stressors when it comes to getting optimal results. These days, everyone wants to know the magical programming design to build muscle, hidden gems to fat loss, the gold standard macronutrients ratio for their nutrition program, perfect supplementation stack, and then some. What we tend to forget are life stressors that we all deal with on a day-to-day basis. These life stressors lead to mental stress, which have been proven in studies to lead to performance decrements in training.  

You can have the quote-on-quote perfect training and nutrition program but what if your sleep is always lacking? Your cortisol levels are chronically elevated through the roof? Your blood pressure is constantly sky rocketing? Or your energy levels are sinking like a ship? The quote-on-quote perfect program will suffer because of these life stressors and so will your results.

Now, before we get started with our 5 life stressors that may be affecting your training and how to fix them. We don’t want you to look at this in a superficial way or a black and white answer type of thing. We’re asking you to think critically here and come up with your own opinions. We want you to look at these life stressors more as they could become a big problem if they become chronic in your life and you don’t find a way to cope with them. Truth is we all have life stressors and some we can’t get rid of, but we sure can control them so our training doesn’t suffer. Allow us to elaborate…

Stressor #1- Occupational Stress

Corporate world, 9-5’s, commuting, being micro managed, meeting project deadlines, driving in revenue, working your ass off to get promoted, wanting to round house your boss because they’re always nagging at you…Does all this sound stressful? While stress can have detrimental effects, evidence suggests that stress plays an essential role in developing a healthy body that is able to cope with the various demands thrown our way on a daily basis. It is very likely that you’re getting off work, going straight to the gym, and have experienced some kind of occupational stress which could affect your performance when you’re training.

The Fix- While going through your warm up phase, put on your “GET FIRED UP” playlist, think positive about your upcoming workout, and imagine how you’re going to man handle that squat. If you shift your mindset away from work mode, you will be more immersed into your workout and thus you will have a more effective training session.

Stressor #2- Social Stress

Social stress can be as tough as occupational stress, if not tougher. The reason being, you can have the best job in the world, fanciest car, and an MTV like crib on the block, but if you don’t have a social life or aren’t socially accepted then everything else means Jack. Everyone wants to be socially accepted whether they admit it or not. Social stress can also be family issues or changes, relationship issues, and sexuality issues. Social stress can lead to mental stress, anxiety, depression, decrease cognitive function, among other decrements. So it’s imperative that you exercise at a high performance level so these stressors won’t affect your training.

The Fix- If you’re dealing with a lot of social stress try joining a team or taking a group class such as: Boot camp, TRX, Pilates, yoga, cross fit, etc. The environments in these group classes are very supportive and encouraging. There’s a lot of comradery built and this could be a sure way to help you cope with and improve your social stress.

Stressor #3- The Mind Body Connection

A quote that really sticks with us is by Dr. Layne Norton, he said “your mentality becomes your reality.” If you’re inherently negative and constantly think negative outcomes, then you’re most likely going to face negative results. Same thing goes for being inherently positive. (1) There are hundreds of studies showing again and again that decrements to health due to the mind body connection are real problems. (2) Mental stress is related to an increase in various potentially harmful chemicals substances such as: cortisol which degrades proteins, including white blood cells, antibodies, resulting in a decrease in immune function, and consequently, elevated rates of sickness. This also leads to cerebration (thoughts), which is one reason why people that are stressed often have sleeping disorders and it’s because they’re up worrying all night.

The Fix- The minute you step foot into the gym, make sure to get your mind right. Do this by playing some good-up beat music (so good that you want to show off your dance moves), get a good warm up in, and get pumped up for your workout. Who knows, you could have had a hell of a day at work, with the spouse, the kids, the babies mama or daddy. Play it safe and set the positive mood for a more productive workout. Don’t bring that energy draining negative vibe into the gym and definitely don’t be that person in the gym walking around giving everyone dirty looks…Because YOU AREN’T THAT TOUGH.

Stressor #4- Stress Disorders

Stress is not always a bad thing. In fact, stress is absolutely needed for growth. However, the real problems occur with abnormal and chronic stress responses. For instance, some people might typically operate in a persistently hectic environment. (3) These environments contribute to alarming numbers of mental ailments including 16 and 32 million cases of depression and anxiety. These same people will often make excuses to avoid physical activity. This is when stress can cause serious ailments and diseases.

If you don’t utilize the nutrients and energy being supplied by your bodies during the high stress responses, several diseases can occur such as: Diabetes, obesity, immune suppression, cancer, asthma, allergies, indigestion, and cardiovascular disease. Now of course these are extreme cased diseases, but we still want to inform you on them. Also, fat loss, performance, and hypertrophy could be hampered by high and chronic stress responses.

The Fix- If you typically operate in a persistently hectic-daily environment and are always under high stress. Consider hiring a trainer or a coach. A qualified trainer or coach can take a lot of the guess work out of your training and nutrition program and make your fitness life a lot easier.

Stressor #5- Nutritional Factors

Nutritional factors can be closely related to stress disorders and can become serious problems if you don’t monitor them correctly. If you feel lost with your nutrition program, then you could find yourself overwhelmed with information online or those non-qualified local gurus telling you to eat nothing but tilapia and broccoli because it’ll thin out your skin. This could lead to frustration and depression and could cause the following to occur: Malnutrition, poor eating habits, eating disorders, bulimia anorexia, or just flat out quitting overall. Again, these are extreme cases, but these are all serious matters which will lead to high mental stress and eventually performance decrements when you train.

The Fix-

Hire a sports nutritionist, a reputable coach, or a trainer that has a nutrition background. These professionals will take care of the nutrition side for you and hopefully educate you as well. You could even take a basic nutrition class or self-educate yourself with the right resources.

Wrapping All This Up

As you can see even if you have the most optimal training and nutrition programs, your bodies will say “Not so fast!” This is because stressors in life can affect how you feel with training. Lots of studies show mental stress can cause decrements in performance and even hinder adaptation than physiological stress. Sometimes you can’t remove these mental stressors in life. But you can cope with them, psychologically to where they don’t become stressors. Take life stressors serious as you would with your training and nutrition programs. If you totally ignore it, do you want to risk your performance and end results?

For more information on how to deal with life stressors, check this video out here.

About The Authors:

Chris and Eric Martinez, CISSN, CPT, BA, also known as the “Dynamic Duo” operate a world class personal training and online training business “Dynamic Duo Training,” They’re also fitness and nutrition writers, fitness models, and coaches that love helping people reach their goals. Their philosophy is “No excuses, only solutions.”

Visit them at:

Dynamic Duo Training


FaceBook Page


YouTube Channel






  1. 1.     Simmons, J (2006). Exercise and stress lecture. California State East Bay.


  1. 2.     Haddy, Richard I. Clover, Richard D. (2001). Biological processes in psychological stress. Families, systems & health.


  1. 3.     McCullagh, Penny. (2005) Sports and exercise psychology lecture. Cal State East Bay.


Wilson, Gabriel. Wilson, Jacob. Exercise and Stress-An in-depth Analysis.



Fish Oil For Fat Loss

Fish oil is most known for its beneficial cardiovascular and cardiac health effects, and continues to top the list of health promoting supplements. In 2004 FDA approved a prescription fish oil preparation for treatment of high blood triglycerides (hypertriglyceridemia) (1). Recently several studies have shown that fish oil also has other beneficial effects, which might appeal more to the younger crowd, and especially to fitness and bodybuilding enthusiasts. One of these effects is fat loss.

Fish Oil Induced Fat Loss

In the 80s early 90s, several animal studies showed that fish oil reduces body fat (2-5) and weight gain (6-9), and limits adipose tissue expansion (10-12). These effects have been seen during both a decreased (3, 7), constant (5) or even increased energy intakes (6). This indicates that the fatty acids in fish oil, notably EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid) and DHA (docosahexaenoic acid), have an effect on the partitioning of fat between oxidation (fat burning) and storage in the body.

Mechanism – how does it work?

In search for the mechanisms behind fish oil induced fat loss, it has been found that fish oil exerts favorable metabolic effects by modulating gene expression (which is the process by which the information encoded in a gene is converted into protein)(2, 13-26). While we inherit our genes (or blueprints) from our parents, what determines the way in which our blueprints are interpreted is largely dictated by a collection of environmental factors. The nutrients we consume are among the most influential of these environmental factors (27, 28). One dietary constituent that has a strong influence on our genetic makeup is dietary fat (2, 13, 14, 16-19, 21-23, 25, 29). Fatty acids from dietary fat not only influences hormonal signaling events, but also have a very strong direct influence on the molecular events that govern gene expression.

More specifically, it has been shown that the fatty acids EPA and DHA from fish oil (by affecting gene expression) inhibit the activities of fat synthesizing (lipogenic) enzymes (30-37), while at the same time stimulating the activities of key enzymes that govern fat oxidation (fat burning) (2, 38-46).

Fish oil also has been shown to increase levels of adiponectin and decrease levels of cortisol (47, 48). Adiponectin is a novel adipose tissue-specific protein that circulates in human plasma at high levels (49). It is one of the physiologically active polypeptides secreted by adipose tissue, whose multiple functions have started to be understood in the last few years. Some of its beneficial effects are enhanced insulin sensitivity, and lowered plasma glucose (blood sugar) and triglyceride levels (49, 50). A reduction in adiponectin expression is associated with insulin resistance (49), and adiponectin levels are inversely related to the degree of adiposity (50). The activity of adiponectin has also been associated with steroid and thyroid hormones, glucocorticoids, and nitric oxide, and has anti-atherogenic and anti-inflammatory properties (50). Thus, it is plausible that fish oil induces some of its effect by affecting adiponectin levels.

While the functions of adiponectin are just starting to emerge, it is likely to become a target for therapeutic applications in the future.

It is interesting that fish oil lowers cortisol. While the exact role of cortisol in obesity isn’t fully elucidated (51, 52), it is known that excessive cortisol levels result in substantial fat mass gain (53, 54). Thus, the reduction in cortisol levels after fish oil supplementation could contribute at least partly to the fat loss observed with fish oil supplementation. In another article I’m covering the anti-catabolic/muscle growth effects of fish oil in more detail.

Fish Oil for Muscle Growth

Does it work in humans – what’s in it for me?

At this point you might be thinking “ok, that all sounds nice, but I’m not a rat. Does it work in humans”?

Yes! Read on…


Recently several studies have shown that fish oil also can help people to get in shape. In a landmark study in healthy young non-obese males, 6 g of fat from butter, olive oil, sunflower oil and peanut oil was replaced with 6 g fish oil (corresponding to 1,100 mg EPA and 700 mg DHA) per day (55). After 3 weeks the researchers noted a significantly increased resting fat burning (fat oxidation) and a 1.94 lb (0.88 kg) decrease in body fat (measured by the golden standard method DEXA). There was no change in body weight. This fat loss was seen despite that subjects were told not to change their usual exercise and food habits.

Other studies have confirmed the fat loss effects of fish oil when added to people’s usual lifestyle habits.

One study gave healthy men and women (mean age 33 yrs), who were told to maintain their current food and exercise practices 4 g fish oil, providing 1,600 mg EPA and 800 mg DHA (48). After 6 weeks, the placebo group, which was given 4 g of safflower oil, showed a tendency towards fat gain. In contrast, the fish oil group experienced a significant reduction in fat mass of 1.1 lb (0.5 kg) and increase in fat-free mass of 1.1 lb (0.5 kg) (measured by air displacement plethysmography), with no change in body weight.

A 1.1 lb reduction in fat mass combined with a 1.1 lb increase in fat-free mass, without changes in subject’s typical food and exercise habits is pretty remarkable body composition improvement. It also underscores the importance of investigating fat mass and lean mass separately, since just measuring body weight will not tell anything about potential body composition changes, which after all is what is interesting from both a health, esthetic and physical performance viewpoint. For more into on the anti-catabolic and lean mass gaining effects of fish oil, see Fish Oil for Muscle Growth

Another study, also against a background of constant food and exercise routines, gave obese type 2 diabetic female subjects 1,080 mg EPA and 720 mg DHA for 2 months, or placebo paraffin oil (56). Even though there was no change in body weight, the fish oil group demonstrated a significant reduction in fat mass by 3.6 lb (1,614 kg). This fat mass reduction was mainly due to a decrease in trunk (belly) fat. In addition, fish oil group experienced a reduction in fat cell size by 6.3 % (56).

It has also been found that supplementing with fish oil for 3 weeks (1,100 g EPA and 700 g DHA daily) significantly decreases insulin levels and increases fat burning after consumption of carbohydrate rich meals (57). Supplementation with fish oil providing 2,400 mg EPA and 1,600 mg DHA for 3 weeks also boosts fat burning during jogging exercise (58).

Combined with exercise

Fish oil seems to be even more effective when combined with exercise. In obese men and women, the effects of the addition of 6 g of fish oil daily (providing 360 mg EPA and 1,560 mg DHA) in combination with regular aerobic activity (walking 45 min three times per week at an intensity of 75% of age-predicted maximal heart rate) for 12 weeks, was investigated (59). The results showed that the combination of fish oil and regular aerobic activity not only improved several risk factors for cardiovascular disease, but also significantly reduced body fat mass with 4.4 lb (2 kg) (59). The finding that

body weight and body fat percentage didn’t change in the placebo group (which was put on the same exercise program but received 6 g sunflower oil instead of the fish oil)  underscores the efficacy of fish oil for fat loss.

It is interesting that the fat loss seen in the fish oil – exercise group occurred even though the subjects did not change their usual food habits; they just added the fish oil supplement and exercise program to their regimen. This indicates the great potential benefits of fish oil combined with regular physical activity for improving body composition and cardiovascular health.

In this study, no fat loss was seen in fish oil only group (which didn’t exercise). This is probably due to the very low dose of EPA. Most studies showing that fish oil increases fat loss have use fish oil products that provide 1.5-2 times more EPA than DHA, like Lean Lipid Complex does.

Combined with a calorie restricted diet

Fish oil supplementation can boost calorie restricted diets as well. This was found in a study that investigated the effect of including fish oil as part of an energy-restricted diet, on weight loss (60). Young obese adults were put on a calorie restricted diet (30 % less calories than their usual intake, about 600 calorie deficit), supplemented with 6 g fish oil providing 1,500 mg EPA + DHA, or placebo (sunflower oil capsules). It was found that the fish oil enriched diet resulted in 2.2 lb (1 kg) more weight loss and greater reductions in waist circumference after only 4 weeks, than the same diet without fish oil (60).

Combined with a calorie restricted diet and exercise program

In a study that tested the effect of adding 2,800 mg/day fish oil (EPA:DHA ratio 2:1) to a low-calorie diet combined with an exercise program, severely obese women (61). After 3 weeks the fish oil group lost 3.3 lb (1.5 kg) more weight and slashed almost 1 inch (2.3 cm) more fat from their hips, than the non-supplemented group.

While body fat changes were not reported, the researchers did find a greater increase in blood beta-hydroxybutyrate (a ketone body) in the fish oil supplemented group compared with control group, and interpreted this as providing evidence of greater fat oxidation in the fish oil group (61). These findings indicate that the addition of fish oil to a relatively short (3 week) weight loss program comprising severe caloric restriction and exercise, may increase fat oxidation and lead to greater improvement in body composition.

Perspective on fish oil and fat loss

In contrast to the positive studies, there are a few that didn’t show any fat loss with fish oil supplementation (62-65). This could be due to differences in subject characteristics (age, initial body fat mass, baseline physical activity), methodological differences, and differences in fish oil preparations.

As outlined above, several high quality studies have shown that fish oil supplementation has a significant fat loss effect in addition to all its other health promoting effects. The majority of evidence thus supports fish oil’s ability to shift fat metabolism away from storage towards burning of body fat, even in humans.

It’s getting better – fat loss combined with lean mass (muscle) gain

In one of the most recent studies on fish oil’s fat loss effect, men and women (mean age 33 yrs) where given 4 g of fish oil corresponding to 1600 mg EPA and 800 mg DHA (48). After 6 weeks, the placebo group, which was given 4 g of safflower oil, showed a tendency towards fat gain. The fish oil group instead had lost 0.5 kg of fat mass and gained 0.5 kg of lean mass, with no change in body weight.

This is a very beneficial body composition effect and underscores the importance of investigating fat mass and lean mass separately, since just measuring body weight will not tell anything about changes in body composition. After all, it’s not weight loss per see, but fat loss and muscle gain that’s interesting from both a health, esthetic and physical performance viewpoint. I cover the muscle growth stimulating and anti-catabolic effect of fish oil in another article

Fish Oil for Muscle Growth

Bottom Line

Whether you are on a diet or not, adding a fish oil supplement to your regimen can effectively help you get in shape. The additional calories from the fish oil will not get stored (66); quite to the contrary, fish oil will help you get rid of calories you already have stored in your body fat. What’s interesting is that fish oil supplementation seems to reduce body fat and waist circumference despite unchanged exercise and/or other dietary practices.

Aim for a daily fish oil intake that provides you with at least 1600 mg EPA and 800 mg DHA, but a higher dose, 2400 mg EPA and 1600 mg DHA (a total of 4 g EPA and DHA total), might result in a larger fat loss. To achieve this high intake of EPA and DHA it is advisable to take a fish oil concentrate. In an upcoming article I will go into more detail about fish oil concentrates, different ratios of EPA to DHA in fish oil preparations, their relative effectiveness, safety aspects of high dose fish oil supplementation, and sort through the myriad of fish oil supplements currently available on the market, to help you find a good fish oil supplement that will give you the best bang and effectiveness for your buck.


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33.         Nakatani T, Kim HJ, Kaburagi Y, Yasuda K, Ezaki O 2003 A low fish oil inhibits SREBP-1 proteolytic cascade, while a high-fish-oil feeding decreases SREBP-1 mRNA in mice liver: relationship to anti-obesity. Journal of lipid research 44:369-379

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36.         Xu J, Nakamura MT, Cho HP, Clarke SD 1999 Sterol regulatory element binding protein-1 expression is suppressed by dietary polyunsaturated fatty acids. A mechanism for the coordinate suppression of lipogenic genes by polyunsaturated fats. The Journal of biological chemistry 274:23577-23583

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38.         Desvergne B, Wahli W 1999 Peroxisome proliferator-activated receptors: nuclear control of metabolism. Endocrine reviews 20:649-688

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41.         Minnich A, Tian N, Byan L, Bilder G 2001 A potent PPARalpha agonist stimulates mitochondrial fatty acid beta-oxidation in liver and skeletal muscle. American journal of physiology Endocrinology and metabolism 280:E270-279

42.         Nakatani T, Tsuboyama-Kasaoka N, Takahashi M, Miura S, Ezaki O 2002 Mechanism for peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor-alpha activator-induced up-regulation of UCP2 mRNA in rodent hepatocytes. The Journal of biological chemistry 277:9562-9569

43.         Power GW, Newsholme EA 1997 Dietary fatty acids influence the activity and metabolic control of mitochondrial carnitine palmitoyltransferase I in rat heart and skeletal muscle. The Journal of nutrition 127:2142-2150

44.         Schoonjans K, Staels B, Auwerx J 1996 The peroxisome proliferator activated receptors (PPARS) and their effects on lipid metabolism and adipocyte differentiation. Biochimica et biophysica acta 1302:93-109

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47.         Delarue J, Matzinger O, Binnert C, Schneiter P, Chiolero R, Tappy L 2003 Fish oil prevents the adrenal activation elicited by mental stress in healthy men. Diabetes & metabolism 29:289-295

48.         Noreen EE, Sass MJ, Crowe ML, Pabon VA, Brandauer J, Averill LK 2010 Effects of supplemental fish oil on resting metabolic rate, body composition, and salivary cortisol in healthy adults. Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition 7:31

49.         Diez JJ, Iglesias P 2003 The role of the novel adipocyte-derived hormone adiponectin in human disease. European journal of endocrinology / European Federation of Endocrine Societies 148:293-300

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51.         Walker BR 2001 Activation of the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis in obesity: cause or consequence? Growth hormone & IGF research : official journal of the Growth Hormone Research Society and the International IGF Research Society 11 Suppl A:S91-95

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55.         Couet C, Delarue J, Ritz P, Antoine JM, Lamisse F 1997 Effect of dietary fish oil on body fat mass and basal fat oxidation in healthy adults. International journal of obesity and related metabolic disorders : journal of the International Association for the Study of Obesity 21:637-643

56.         Kabir M, Skurnik G, Naour N, Pechtner V, Meugnier E, Rome S, Quignard-Boulange A, Vidal H, Slama G, Clement K, Guerre-Millo M, Rizkalla SW 2007 Treatment for 2 mo with n 3 polyunsaturated fatty acids reduces adiposity and some atherogenic factors but does not improve insulin sensitivity in women with type 2 diabetes: a randomized controlled study. The American journal of clinical nutrition 86:1670-1679

57.         Delarue J, Couet C, Cohen R, Brechot JF, Antoine JM, Lamisse F 1996 Effects of fish oil on metabolic responses to oral fructose and glucose loads in healthy humans. The American journal of physiology 270:E353-362

58.         Huffman DM, Michaelson JL, Thomas T, R. 2004 Chronic supplementation with fish oil increases fat oxidation during exercise in young men. . JEPonline 7:48-56

59.         Hill AM, Buckley JD, Murphy KJ, Howe PR 2007 Combining fish-oil supplements with regular aerobic exercise improves body composition and cardiovascular disease risk factors. The American journal of clinical nutrition 85:1267-1274

60.         Thorsdottir I, Tomasson H, Gunnarsdottir I, Gisladottir E, Kiely M, Parra MD, Bandarra NM, Schaafsma G, Martinez JA 2007 Randomized trial of weight-loss-diets for young adults varying in fish and fish oil content. Int J Obes (Lond) 31:1560-1566

61.         Kunesova M, Braunerova R, Hlavaty P, Tvrzicka E, Stankova B, Skrha J, Hilgertova J, Hill M, Kopecky J, Wagenknecht M, Hainer V, Matoulek M, Parizkova J, Zak A, Svacina S 2006 The influence of n-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids and very low calorie diet during a short-term weight reducing regimen on weight loss and serum fatty acid composition in severely obese women. Physiological research / Academia Scientiarum Bohemoslovaca 55:63-72

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About Monica Mollica >

Monica Mollica has a Bachelor and Master degree in Nutrition from the University of Stockholm / Karolinska Institue, Sweden. She has also done PhD level course work at renowned Baylor University, TX. Today Monica works as diet/health counselor, medical writer, health journalist, and website developer. She is also a fitness model.

As a young athlete, Monica realized the importance of nutrition for maximal performance, and went for a major in Nutrition at the University of Stockholm. During her years at the University she was a regular contributor to Swedish fitness and bodybuilding magazines. She has written a book (in Swedish) for health professionals, “Functional Foods for Health and Energy Control” with over 700 scientific research citations, and authored several book chapters in Swedish popular press publications.

After having earned her Bachelor and Master degree in Nutrition, she completed one semester at the PhD-program “Exercise, Nutrition and Preventive Health” at Baylor University Texas, Department of Health Human Performance and Recreation.

Having lost her father in a lifestyle induced heart attack at an age of 49, she is specializing in cardiovascular health, and primordial/primary prevention. She is a strong advocate of early intervention in adolescence and young adulthood, and the importance of lifestyle habits for health promotion at all ages.

Today, Monica is sharing her solid academic knowledge, real-life hands on experience and passion by offering diet/nutrition/exercise/health consultation services, and working as a health journalist and medical writer, specializing in fitness, health promotion and anti-aging.


Brown rice protein: for your digestive and athletic needs

By Scarlett Blandon, MS RDN.  Unless you were a vegan (or a yogi…or maybe a protein powder junky) the chances of you knowing about brown rice protein are slim to none.  Rice protein is a novel source of protein derived from the entire rice grain (including bran layer), and is available as brown-rice-jara concentrate or isolate just like other protein powders.  It offers several benefits that other protein powders do not, but chances are those merits have been drowned out by:  (1) the negative stereotypes surrounding rice protein’s  plant-based origin; (2) the popularity and media-hype of whey protein.  Sure, rice protein might not have all the looks and attractive qualities that whey does, but it’s those unique differences that make it an outstanding alternate protein source for athletes and sports enthusiasts alike.  Here are a few reasons why you might consider brown rice protein:

Easy on the stomach—and the immune system.

Dairy- and soy-derived protein supplements might be wonderful for X number of reasons, but unfortunately, not everyone can digest these proteins, and some might even be highly allergic to them.  The Food Allergy Research & Education organization states that about 15 million Americans have food allergies and this number appears to be on the rise1.  Milk and soy happen to be two of eight foods accounting for 90% of all food allergies1. Aside from dairy allergies, 30-50 million Americans are lactose intolerant2.  And despite lactose-free claims on dairy-derived protein supplements, many still anecdotally experience GI distress which can negatively interfere with training or performance (or number of friends :-) ).

Gluten is another, increasingly common immune-system offender. Some commercial protein supplements may contain ingredients derived from or made with gluten. This can be detrimental to the 3 lowcarb_riceoatsmillion Americans diagnosed with Celiac disease and many more who remain undiagnosed3.  What’s worse is that damage to the microvilli from gluten can actually cause a person to develop lactose-intolerance, rendering them doubly restricted from those food groups4.

On the other hand, brown rice protein is derived from rice, a well-known hypoallergenic food source.  As a staple food in many cultures (for thousands of years!), rice is highly unlikely to elicit an allergic reaction (or intolerance) and is not surprisingly recommended as a first food for babies.  As such, rice protein is expectedly gentle on the GI tract and may offer greater benefit to those athletes or exercise enthusiasts with food allergies, intolerances or sensitivities.

Aids in recovery and builds muscle, much like whey.

Up until recently, nothing was truly known about the ability of rice protein as a sports nutrition supplement.  Despite this, rice protein withheld much criticism from the athletic and scientific community given previous literature on the generally inferior quality of plant-based proteins and other data showing that low doses of plant-based proteins (mainly soy- and wheat-derived) do not increase muscle protein synthesis compared to animal-based proteins5,6.

Yes, rice and thus rice protein is limited in lysine and apparently less digestible than dairy proteins. But do these apparent “weaknesses” in rice protein make it unsuitable for sports nutrition? One study to date, says no.

The study, published in Nutrition Journal in June 2013, found that 24 collegiate athletes were able to obtain significant gains in muscle, power and strength whether they were taking a 48g rice protein or whey protein supplement following resistance training for 8 weeks7. They also experienced similar increases in acute recovery. Despite differences in amino acid profile, digestibility and digestion rate of the proteins, there were no statistical differences between groups.  The authors assert that protein type or composition is of less significance, when key nutrients are adequately provided. In this case, one key nutrient: leucine.  The leucine levels provided by the brown rice protein supplement appeared to be within or above the 2-3g threshold needed to maximize muscle protein synthesis8-11.

Although more research is needed in this arena for rice protein, these results indicate that at 48g, rice protein can serve as a substitute for whey protein for building muscle and strength.  This would be especially beneficial for those athletes who follow a vegan/vegetarian lifestyle, are unable to digest dairy-based proteins and/or are looking for an alternate protein source.

Suits vegan or other plant-based lifestyles.

Almost 16 million people consider themselves vegetarian and another 6 million consider themselves vegan in the US alone according to one 2012 survey12.  Motives behind these plant-based lifestyles might include views on animal welfare, religious and cultural beliefs and/or environmental concerns.  However, 47% of vegans indicate that their major reason for following this diet is actually health, followed by animal welfare (40%)13.  While exercise is a health-related activity, it is not unreasonable to consider the inclusion of some athletes or sports enthusiasts in this population.

Although vegans & vegetarians are able to consume all essential nutrients from plant-based foods alone, it can be a challenge for athletes when certain nutrients like protein are needed in higher quantities.  Supplements like rice protein offer a convenient and concentrated source of protein to help meet their needs. Unlike soy, rice protein does not contain phytoestrogens which can potentially interfere with hormones.

Rice protein is also an excellent option for those trending on natural or other plant-based lifestyles.  Unlike many dairy- or soy-based protein supplements, rice proteins are predominantly processed using only water and natural enzymes rather than toxic solvents like hexane. Certain rice proteins may also offer value over other protein sources since it is not from a genetically modified source, does not come from an animal known to be treated with growth hormones (rbST/bGH), anabolic steroids (AAS), estrogens and other hormones, antibiotics or other chemicals known to, suspected of, to affect or have an impact upon human health.

Whether you are looking to rotate your protein source, give your stomach a break, trend on a novel and natural product all while building muscle and gaining strength, rice protein might be the choice for you.

About the Author: Scarlett Blandon is the in-house nutrition scientist for Axiom Foods, the worlds’ leading manufacturer of hexane-free rice protein among other plant proteins, and for Growing Naturals, a consumer brand specializing in hypoallergenic plant proteins and natural lifestyle products. At Axiom and GN she oversees all research-related ventures and nutrition communications. Having worked closely with renowned researchers in the past, she is dedicated to expanding the literature on rice- and other plant proteins while cultivating the knowledge of consumers and manufacturers alike.


  1. Facts and statistics. Food Allergy Research and Education. Available at:
  2. Lactose intolerance. Wexner Medical Center, Ohio State University. Available at:
  3. Case S. Celiac disease, gluten sensitivity and the gluten-free diet. July 2011. Available at:
  4. Lactose intolerance and celiac disease. Celiac Disease Foundation. Available at:
  5. Wilkinson SB, Tarnopolsky MA, Macdonald MJ, et al. Consumption of fluid skim milk promotes greater muscle protein accretion after resistance exercise than does consumption of an isonitrogenous and isoenergetic soy-protein beverage. Am J Clin Nutr. 2007; 85: 1031-1040.
  6. Norton LE, Layman DK, Bunpo P, et al. The leucine content of a complete meal directs peak activation but not duration of skeletal muscle protein synthesis and mammalian target of rapamycin signaling in rats. J Nutr. 2009; 139: 1103-1109.
  7. Joy J, Lowery RP, Wilson JM, et al. The effects of 8 weeks of whey or rice protein supplementation on body composition and exercise performance. Nutrition J. 2013; 12:86
  8. Norton LE, Layman DK. Leucine Regulates Translation Initiation of Protein Synthesis in Skeletal Muscle after Exercise. J Nutr. 2006; 136(2): 533S-537S.
  9. Norton L, Wilson GJ. Optimal protein intake to maximize muscle protein synthesis. Agro Food industry hi-tech. 2009; 20: 54-57.
  10. Paddon-Jones D, Sheffield-Moore M, Zhang XJ, et al. Amino acid ingestion improves muscle protein synthesis in the young and elderly. Am J Physiol Endocrinol Metab. 2004; 286: E321-E328.
  11. Tipton KD, Ferrando AA, Phillips SM, et al. Postexercise net protein synthesis in human muscle from orally administered amino acids. Am J Physiol. 1999; 276: E628-E634.
  12. Newport F. In the US, 5% consider themselves vegetarian. Gallup Wellbeing. 2012. Available at:


Do You Have to “Suffer” While Dieting?

Why is it that when it comes to dieting, everybody automatically thinks they have to suffer and deprive themselves from everything in life? Why is it that people think they can’t have the foods they love and crave in moderation? Why does the word “dieting” have to be portrayed as suffering?

We really don’t have a clear cut answer to this, but we feel a big part has to do with the Girl-dietingpersonality of people feeling like they need to suffer as much as possible on a diet to say they did everything in their power to try and accomplish their goal, even if they didn’t accomplish it entirely.

It’s almost like a sneaky excuse to why one didn’t accomplish their goal 100% of the way. Whether it’s losing a few pounds to look good on the beach, dropping some fat for a photo shoot, or dieting down to low body fat levels for a contest, it just seems that people need to endure some sort of agony when it comes to dieting.

We don’t believe in making people suffer when it comes to diets or we would never encourage people to suffer just for the sake of suffering. We believe in suffering for an outcome or for optimization. This is a huge problem, people being intimidated by dieting and they automatically get the assumption that dieting is going to be painful and that they are going to have to suffer so much to where it’s intolerable.

It’s funny how people think this way because there are kids and families in third world countries out there that are suffering from starvation and we want to be scared of going on a diet because we think we are going to have to suffer so mightily?

There are a lot of people at fault for this, such as:

  • The internet
  • Magazines
  • Cheesy infomercials
  • So called ‘nutrition experts’ aka guru’s and Broscientists,
  • Gym know it all’s

The list can go on for days.

We know this because we were victims once to all of this non-sense when it came to dieting. We tried the following:

  • A low carb cookie cutter diet out of a magazine 5 years ago and lost almost all the muscle we put on over the winter
  • We tried eating a so called “clean” diet where it consisted of all the traditional body building foods (lean proteins, sweet potatoes, brown rice, vegetables, etc) and that drove us crazy because we were kicking ourselves in the ass every time we ate something non-traditional aka dirty.
  • We then tried eating basically anything we wanted and that went south of the border because we put on excess fat and couldn’t get lean enough without sacrificing muscle loss when it came to dieting down for summer.

So we were intimidated and manipulated too by the word “dieting” because we thought it solely consisted of eating nothing but “clean” foods and we felt we had to suffer on these strict diets, tumblr_nj7nw2w8vI1snbrkko1_500but we found a middle ground after 5 years of self-experimentation and trial and error. That middle ground being you can still have the foods you like and enjoy, so long as you are hitting your macronutrient numbers and total fiber number. We talked about this in great detail in our blog “Why count your macronutrients.” 

We know everyone won’t agree with us on this, but we feel that it is so essential to count your macros because you can have all the foods you like and you don’t have to suffer by eating traditional dieting foods day in and day out. Some of the following reasons why we’re such huge proponents to counting macros are:

  • It teaches you discipline
  • Allows you to eat the foods you like while still dieting
  • It allows you to experiment with recipes that contain healthy ingredients
  • It gives you less of a tendency to go out and cheat
  • You will be amazed at how much you learn from tracking your food
  • You will learn a lot about nutrition and what your body responds well to

Basically, cookie cutter diets out of books, magazines, and websites will eventually be a recipe for disaster. Who the hell wants to eat the same thing every single day? For more info on why cookie cutters just don’t work, see our video here.

Now please don’t get us wrong here, we don’t recommend going out and eating pizza or cheese burgers and fries to hit your macros, we still believe in whole and minimally refined foods will build quality muscle and you can see that here on our video “Macronutrient recommendations.”

You can still include the foods you like into your diet, as long as you hit your macro and fiber numbers and the reason being that the muscle only sees amino acids, carbs, lipids, and some short chain fatty acid fermentation from fiber. The muscle doesn’t see specific types of foods. So, as long as you’re hitting your protein, carbs, fat and fiber numbers, everything else will become secondary.

We had a couple of our clients eating baked lays and low-fat popcorn for their carbohydrate source after their workouts along with a protein shake. This is perfectly fine to have as long as you are hitting your post workout macro numbers and your fiber number at the end of the day.

Obviously popcorn has like 4 times the amount of fiber content than baked lays, but it’s okay to have baked lays for your carb source as long as you are in range of your target fiber number at the end of the day.

Evidently, someone that eats baked lays for all their carb sources in their meals will not hit their fiber number, so they would be hurting themselves there, unless they got it through fiber supplementation.

Choosing a mix of lower glycemic carbs for your meals which are higher in fiber along with other non-traditional foods is perfectly fine in our opinions and it’s a happy medium. So, our point being, normally people would freak out if you told them they could eat popcorn, baked lays, or even low-fat ice cream in moderation on a diet and that’s because of all the BS out there and because it’s looked at as a non-traditional style of dieting and because people tend to over eat.

There’s times where we have our clients make healthy burritos (shredded chicken, low-fat cheese, black beans, and whole wheat tortillas) or breakfast sandwiches (eggs, low-fat cheese, turkey bacon, and ezekial bread) and it’s perfectly fine because they hit all their macronutrient numbers at each meal. Another thing people really have to understand and consider is that plenty of people get results in spite of what they do, not because what they do is optimal.

It’s important to recognize that everybody has different methods when it comes to dieting and it’s important to not look down on anyone, especially if they are trying to make a change in their health and life. We’re not saying our method is the only one out there and it’s certainly not for everybody. But we’ve seen, experienced, experimented, been mentored, and done a lot of trial and error to lead us to be huge advocates to counting our macros daily and it’s been a very efficient method for us and our clients to be able to diet without suffering and sustain a long term flexible diet.

Take home message is to find a dieting method that works for you and that you will be consistent with day in and day out, week after week, month after month, and year after year. Dietary programs need to be tailored to you based on your body type, activity levels, current metabolism, metabolic/hormonal variances, psychology factors, cultural influence, food preferences, and more. So don’t fall for BS mainstream fad diets or cookie cutter diets from your local Guru’s. You don’t have to fear dieting anymore or suffer with only traditional foods. Just make sure to do your homework before hand, be patient, and always keep in mind that if a diet sounds too good to be true and promises to deliver quick results, then it’s probably BS.

Do you still think you have to suffer while dieting?


Baechle, Thomas R and Earle, Roger W. Essentials of Strength Training and Conditioning/ National Strength and Conditioning Association. USA: 2008 by the National Strength and Conditioning Association

Antonio, Jose et al. “Essentials of Sports nutrition and Supplements.” 2008

About The Authors:

Chris and Eric Martinez, CISSN, CPT, BA, also known as the “Dynamic Duo” operate a world class personal training and online training business “Dynamic Duo Training,” They’re also fitness and nutrition writers, fitness models, and coaches that love helping people reach their goals. Their philosophy is “No excuses, only solutions.”

Visit them at:

Dynamic Duo Training


FaceBook Page


YouTube Channel




Choosing the right “Cardio Modality” for pre and post workouts?

By Chris and Eric Martinez, CISSN, CPT, BA.  The lovely world of cardio, we have to love it right? Cardio has countless benefits for the human body, so it must be good for us, right? How else do you think all the celebrities stay so skinny and “toned?”cardio-on-empty-stomach1

How many times have you seen people get to the gym and hop on a cardio machine and just gas themselves, and not to mention go do some resistance training right after. Or what about when someone gets done from an intense lifting session, then goes off and does an intense cardio session?

We know you’ve seen this before and we are not going to get into the psychology of why people do this because that could be a whole other article itself. We are more focused on is it optimal to perform cardio pre and post workout? With a specific focus on which cardio modality (type of cardio you do) is the best to perform to avoid the interference effect of strength, power, and hypertrophy gains? But before we give you the answer, it’s vital that we always have to take people’s goals, activity level, overall health, and training experience into consideration before anything. So please read this with an open mind and a non-black and white answer, all or nothing approach.

What’s This Interference Effect Thing?

When we refer to the interference effect, we are talking about the interference of strength, power, and hypertrophy gains (muscle growth) when doing cardio pre or post workout. This topic of discussion has been floating around for quite some time now, whether concurrent training is optimal or not.

We all have our biased opinions, but what is the correct cardio modality to do pre and post workout and should we even be doing cardio pre or post workouts? That is the million dollar question that many of us would like to know.

Why continue to keep robbing your hard earned gains and progress if you don’t need to. Instead, why not continue to maximize your overall potential the correct way instead of shooting yourself in the foot? As always, we bring scientific based evidence to the table to get to the bottom of these popular topics, because the research doesn’t lie folks.

Before we delve into the research, we want to quote what Brad Schoenfeld said:

“There is no one cookie-cutter recommendation I can provide that will be ideal for everyone. People have varying responses to exercise programs. Large inter-individual differences are seen in any research protocol. Thus, in giving advice on a topic such as this, I can only provide general recommendations that must be individualized based on a variety of genetic and environmental factors. This is the essence of evidence-based practice, which should form the basis of every fitness professional’s decision making process.” (1)

We can’t agree more with this statement and we truly feel this statement is a legitimate and valid way of viewing such a topic like this one.

Cardio Modalities

We are certain we can all agree that there are numerous different cardio modalities out there today. To name a few modalities that have more ground-reaction force with higher impact are:

Pretty much all the badass cardio workouts that we look forward to doing.

Cardio modalities that minimize ground-reaction forces are:

  • Cycling bikes
  • Treadmillscardio-gym2
  • Ellipticals
  • Various machine based equipment

The stuff we like to watch TV on or read magazines 😉

These are all great choices whether you use them in the form of HIIT or LISS, but which modality is more optimal to prevent the interference effect and when should you do these you ask? Let’s delve into some research shall we.

Should you do cardio pre or post workout?

Layne Norton and Jacob Wilson claim that when you choose a cardio modality such as running or sprinting after a resistance training bout, the ground-reaction force (think sprints) and distance causes more muscle damage as opposed to a modality with less impact such as cycling instead. Cycling seems to be more similar to hip and knee flexion as opposed to running because it’s biomechanically interfering with squat and leg press patterns. This muscle damage seems to be coming from the eccentric components when running and sprinting (2).

Norton and Wilson make a valid point in the essence that if you are going to do cardio post workout, make sure you do it in the form of an opposing muscle group. Let’s say you did a grueling lower body workout, you would then want to do cardio in the form of using your upper body, something like rope slams because otherwise if you go and run or do sprints you are going to get a complete interference effect and possibly get injured.

After resistance training you have mTOR (cell growth) being ramped up and protein synthesis (making of new proteins) being turned on and when you do cardio after resistance training you get such high drastic rises in AMP kinase (signaling cascade for ATP production) that it ends up shutting off protein synthesis. In easier terms, cardio after weights interferes with the muscle growth phase and a good analogy is after training you turn the faucet on for muscle growth and when too much cardio is being done or after training, it shuts the faucet off.

As for pre workout cardio, this tends to be a little trickier than post workout cardio and we say this because it really depends on a lot of factors such as: What muscle groups are you training that day? What form of cardio are you doing pre workout (low, moderate, or high intensity)? What modality will you use? Are you in a low calorie and glycogen depleted state?

A Study in the Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise shows 30 minutes of jogging pre workout decreases volume of spinal discs and leads to a reduction in the amount of weight you can load on your back (3). For example, if you did a moderate-high intensity cardio bout such as jogging before squats it’s probably not a good idea because it will lead to decrements in strength and negatively affect your squats. Jogging shows to have a lot of muscle damage in the quads, hams, and glutes, so this will definitely affect your squat game.

A 2012 study in the International Journal of Sports Nutrition showed extended periods of moderate volume concurrent strength, power, and endurance training interferes with explosive strength development (4). This is not something you want if you’re trying to increase your 1 rep max on squats and deadlifts.

The data is pretty clear that performing moderate-high intensity cardio pre workout will lead to decrements in strength and power with your resistance training. Perhaps doing cardio earlier in the day and performing resistance training later in the day will not have a negative impact on either the performance or the measured markers of the exercise induced growth stimulus the resistance training session will have. However, we highly encourage doing resistance training and cardio on separate days as this would be the most optimal route to go.

Is there really an interference effect?

            In a study by Wilson et al. a large body of research indicates that combining aerobic and resistance exercise (concurrent training) has a negative effect on gains in muscular strength and size (5). There is credence to the underlying concept that catabolic processes predominate to a greater extent in aerobic training, and concurrent exercise therefore has the potential to impair muscular gains. There is even evidence that cardio can blunt the satellite cell response (helps with muscle growth) to a bout of resistance exercise and therefore potentially impair the protein-producing capacity of muscle (6). With that said, why are people still considering doing cardio pre or post workout if clearly the evidence indicates that it can potentially inhibit muscular gains, strength, and power?

What if you could avoid the interference effect?

            Burn more calories, increase muscle, and acutely increase your metabolic rate, sounds good, right? This is where the famous HIIT cardio would come into play. When you think of HIIT, high intensity and high stress should be taken into consideration. What we have to keep in mind is that stress has to be recovered from, just like the stress from weight training. Last time we checked HIIT cardio is done during the week along with resistance training. If you are still recovering from a HIIT cardio session to the point that it affects your ability to lift weights, then it can be detrimental to your gains. If there is a significant eccentric component (sprinting and running), or high level of impact, HIIT can cause problems in your overall training and potentially lead to chronic overuse injuries. You have to be cautious and smart when incorporating HIIT into your training protocol because it seems that the work to rest ratios in HIIT intervals are very similar to resistance training sets and your number one focus should be on progressive resistance training.

Here are some ways to avoid the interference effect.

  • Schedule your cardio around your resistance training, especially HIIT cardio
  • If your number one priority is resistance training, then perform cardio modalities that minimize ground-reaction forces
  • Perform a cardio modality that is opposite of the muscle group your training. For example, if you do train legs then do an upper body dominate form of cardio and vice versa
  • If you absolutely have to do cardio the same day as your resistance training and you can’t find a cardio modality opposite of the body part you trained then make sure to keep the intensity to low-moderate

Wrapping this up

We believe that the research is pretty clear here when it comes to this particular topic. Clearly there is no black and white answer, sorry to disappoint, but at least we have a great indication of what to do and when not to do it. It’s tough to predict that anyone can avoid any interference effect when it comes to aerobic or anaerobic training. Just like anything else you have to compensate something. We are not all built like machines and able to handle the same workload as others. Genetics always play a vital role in how someone responds to training. Other factors such as nutrition, stress, sleep, occupational activity, ect. All must be taken into account. Refer back to Brad Schoenfeld’s quote if needed, it pretty much tells you there are only general recommendations that can be given here. The best thing to do is choose the correct cardio modality that suits your training and goals. Always train hard, think logically, and but most importantly train smart.


(1)  Schoenfeld, AARR Research Review. Cardio Roundtable Discussion. February and March 2013.

(2)  Norton, L & Wilson J. Muscle college radio with Dr. Layne Norton & Dr. Jake Wilson.

(3)   Kingsley, MI., et al., Moderate-Intensity Running Causes Intervertebral Disc Compression in young adults. Med Sci Sports Exerc, 2012.

(4)  Mikkola, et al., Neuromuscular and cardiovascular adaptations during concurrent strength and endurance training in untrained men. Int J Sports Med. 2012.

(5)  Babcock, L, Escano, M, D’Lugos, A, Todd, K, Murach, K, and Luden, N. Concurrent aerobic exercise interferes with the satellite cell response to acute resistance exercise. Am. J. Physiol. Regul. Integr. Comp. Physiol. 302: 2012.

(6)  Wilson, J.M., et al., Concurrent Training: A Meta Analysis Examining Interference if Aerobic and Resistance Exercise. J Strength Cond Res, 2011.

About The Authors:

Chris and Eric Martinez, CISSN, CPT, BA, also known as the “Dynamic Duo” operate a world class personal training and online training business “Dynamic Duo Training,” They’re also fitness and nutrition writers, fitness models, and coaches that love helping people reach their goals. Their philosophy is “No excuses, only solutions.”

Visit them at:

Dynamic Duo Training


FaceBook Page


YouTube Channel 

Phosphatidic Acid: The Next Anabolic Breakthrough?

By Richard Choueiri Over the past few decades, several non-hormonal compounds have gained popularity as a result of their anabolic effects on the human body. Among these compounds are creatine, arachidonic acid and, of course, the branched-chain amino acid leucine. Thanks to the ongoing research in the field of sports nutrition, scientists might have just discovered the next anabolic breakthrough: phosphatidic acid (PA).

imgf000004_0001PA, chemical structure 1,2-diacyl-sn-glycero-3-phosphate, is a type of phospholipid integral to the structure of cell membranes. In addition, it is a key metabolite in the biosynthesis of several phospholipids and triacylglycerols, which are more commonly referred to as triglycerides. Furthermore, PA acts as a signaler to proteins and this is where things get exciting.

One of the proteins PA signals is the mammalian target of rapamycin (mTOR), a serine- and threonine-specific kinase that regulates cell growth, such as muscle cell hypertrophy. It is well established in the field of sports nutrition that a roughly three-gram bolus dose of leucine is required for turning on the mTOR pathway, thus activating protein synthesis. This fact leads to an important question: can mTOR signaling be further enhanced to maximize protein synthesis?

Researchers at the Human Performance Laboratory in Orlando, Florida, conducted a study using PA to gain more insight on its effects mTOR. The researchers randomly assigned 16 resistance-trained young men to one of two groups. One group was given 750mg of PA and the other group was provided with a placebo, 750mg of rice flour. The subjects were assigned to a one-rep max attempt on the bench press and the squat, two fundamental compound lifts. The researchers obtained body composition data and ultrasonography of the subjects during the first testing session to establish baselines. An ultrasonography is a type of ultrasound imaging technique for muscles, tendons and joints.

resistance-training2After an eight week trial of PA-supplementation, in which the subjects were asked perform a four-day per week resistance training protocol comprised of exercises using 70% of their one-rep max, researchers conducted a second body composition and ultrasonography test. The subjects were also asked to perform a second one-rep max attempt on the bench press and the squat. Both groups increased their squatting strength, the PA-supplementing group more so than the placebo group at 12.7% and 9.3%, respectively. As for body composition changes, the PA group achieved a 2.6% increase in lean body mass, while placebo group only gained 0.1%. These findings suggest that PA has an anabolic effect on resistance trained men, in addition to increasing lower body strength, when combined with a resistance training protocol consisting of exercises performed at 70% of one-rep max.

It is possible that the anabolic effect of PA documented in the study may have been due to an enhancement of mTOR via PA’s signaling ability. Research by the Pennsylvania State University College of Medicine has suggested that PA binds to mTOR and enhances mTORC1 activity, so this could very well be the mechanism of action that leads to PA’s anabolic effect. mTORC1 is one of two multi-protein complexes that make-up mTOR, the other complex being mTORC2.

Although the research on phosphatidic acid and its potential non-hormonal anabolic effects is still in the preliminary stages, this compound looks very promising. Don’t be surprised if PA begins to pop up on supplement ingredients lists in the near future. The next anabolic breakthrough may have just arrived.


Fang, Y., et al. (2001). Phosphatidic acid-mediated mitogenic activation of mTOR signaling. Science. 294:1942-1945.

Hanahan, D.J., et al. (1984). Phospholipids as dynamic participants in biological processes. Journal of Lipid Research. 25:1528-1535.

Hoffman, J.R., et al. (2012). Efficacy of phosphatidic acid ingestion on lean body mass, muscle thickness and strength gains in resistance-trained men. Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition. 9:47.

Rasmussen B. (2009). Phosphatidic acid: a novel mechanical mechanism for how resistance exercise activates mTORC1 signaling. Journal of Physiology. 587:3415-4316.

Winter, J.N., et al. (2010). Phosphatidic acid mediates activation of mTORC1 through the ERK signaling pathway. American Journal of Physiology: Cell Physiology. 299:C335-C344.

Xiaochun B., et al. (2009). Key factors in mTOR regulation. Cell and Molecular Life Sciences. 67:239-253.

You, J.S., et al. (2012). Mechanical stimulation induces mTOR signaling via an ERK-independent mechanism: implications for a direct activation of mTOR by phosphatidic acid. The Public Library of Science ONE. 7(10): e47258. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0047258.

Bio – Richard Choueiri

Richard Choueiri is a professional writer specializing in fitness, nutrition and health. His work has been featured on over 10 major online and print publications. He is the author of The Human Statue Workout: Your 365 Day-a-Year Guide to Transforming Your Body Into a Masterpiece. Richard double majored in exercise science and nutritional science at Rutgers University. He holds a personal trainer certification through the American College of Sports Medicine.  Richard has over a decade of training experience.