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5 Annoying and Dangerous Myths About Protein


by Jose Antonio PhD FNSCA FISSN CSCS. After reading this blog (5 Annoying and Dangerous Things that Happen When You Eat Way Too Much Protein) on EatClean.com (http://www.eatclean.com/scoops/eat-too-much-protein), it reminded me of my undergraduate education as a biology major at The American University (AU) in Washington D.C.  Did you know that AU is the only university that was chartered by an act of Congress in the late 1800s? Enough of the useless trivia.  Anyhow. I took a nutrition course at AU whereby my nutrition professor proclaimed that ‘eating too much protein is bad for your kidneys.’ I thought that’s odd. I looked in the book for references and alas, none were to be found. And if you look in other books, you’ll see the same statement yet again with no randomized controlled trials (RCTs) to support it. Let’s fast-forward to this journalist piece of silliness published on eatCLEAN.com. Perhaps the only thing that is annoying is how devoid this article is of scientific evidence. And as far as danger, well your nutritional IQ might drop 25 points if you actually believe the cow poop in this piece.  The author lists these five things as the terrible 5:  1) Your breath smells funky. 2) Your mood takes a dive. 3) You might wreck your kidneys (egads this again!). 4) You’re plagued with GI issues. 5) You gain weight.

As far aWoman brushing her teeths #1, I’d suggest brushing your teeth and using Scope. If you prefer ‘medicine-like’ breath, Listerine works quite fine. I guess the author would probably tell you to stay away from garlic and onions too. And the author makes the cardinal error of associating high protein diets with low carb consumption. There is absolutely no reason why the two even have to go


Pauline eats more protein than a family of four in the Philippines.

As far as #2, you know what puts you in a bad mood? Reading that article. Again, this author commits the cardinal sin of equating a high protein diet with one that is low in carbs. In fact, to quote from her stellar piece of writing: “Your brain needs carbs in all their sugary, starchy glory to stimulate the production of the mood-regulating hormone serotonin. Strip them from your diet, and you’re more likely to feel grouchy, irritable, or just blah.” Did she use the word ‘carbs’ in that sentence?  Ok, that’s what I thought. Either way, a study published in PLoS One found that “Consumption of the high-protein vs. high-carbohydrate meal did not affect feelings of depression, tension, anger, anxiety.”[1] Issues related to mood are so complex that to assign ‘bad mood’ to eating insufficient carbs or too much protein is nonsensical. Heck, one of my teenage daughters changes her mood faster than the speed of an action potential.

#3. Oh boy. Where do we start with this piece of journalistic absurdity? After scouring the literature for over 40 years, there is no evidence that eating a high protein diet has any detrimental effects on renal function in otherwise healthy individuals. To wit:

  • “In healthy obese individuals, a low-carbohydrate high-protein weight-loss diet over 2 years was not associated with noticeably harmful effects on GFR, albuminuria, or fluid and electrolyte balance compared with a low-fat diet.”[2]
  • “To conclude, it appears that protein intake under 2. 8 g.kg does not impair renal function in well-trained athletes as indicated by the measures of renal function used in this study.”[3]

In fact, I just finished collecting preliminary data on high protein diets in which subjects consumed on average 3 g/kg/d of protein for a period of 4 months. This data is hot of the press, so if you’re reading this now, you’re privy to some super-cool science. You’ll notice (see the Table below) that not a g-damn thing changes. One of my subjects exceeds 6 grams per kg Dymatize-Iso-100daily. I think he eats a chicken a day. Ok, not really. But that’s a bucket of protein. And his renal function is normal. This harkens back to half a century ago when doctors believed that exercise was bad for the heart. Why? Because it ‘overworked’ the heart. Now that’s some funny shit. I keep hearing this refrain about renal function and protein. “What’s your body gonna do with all that urea (from protein degradation)?” The answer: your kidneys eliminate it.  That’s their frickin’ job for chrissakes. Urea is also eliminated via the sweat glands. So using the sterling logic of so many who are uniformed, does that mean that your sweat glands are harmed because they have to ‘work’ so hard in eliminating urea? Puuullllleeeeassssse.  (Note: the final data for the study mentioned in my lab will likely be published in the 1Q2016).

High Protein Intakes in Resistance-Trained Men – Comprehensive Metabolic Panel







Glucose mg/dL




BUN mg/dL




Creatinine mg/dL




GFR ml/min/1.73m2




BUN/Creatinine ratio




Sodium mmol/L




Potassium mmol/L




Chloride mmol/L




Carbon Dioxide mmol/L




Calcium mg/dl




Total Protein g/dL




Albumin g/dL




Globulin g/dL




Albumin/Globulin ratio




Total Bilirubin mg/dL




Alkaline Phosphatase U/L












Data are mean±SD.  n=11 Legend:  ALT – alanine transaminase; AST – aspartate transaminase; BUN – blood urea nitrogen; GFR – glomerular filtration rate (§ normal values: ≥60 ml/min/1.73m2).  There were no differences between any of the groups.

#4 This article has enough straw(men) to fill a barn in Iowa. Again, the author makes the egregious error of equating high protein diets with those low in fiber.  WTF. Here’s a piece of advice. For every piece of that juicy steak you consume, take a bite of broccoli. There is nothing difficult about eating a high protein diet and one that also has plenty of fiber. I have plenty of friends who can accomplish this seemingly impossible task. Try riding to the top floor of Sears Tower (now known as the Willis Tower) in Chicago with these fiber-loving, protein-eating peeps!Straw-Man-Fallacy-e1347740267364-600x350

#5 You gain weight. No shit. If you lift weights and eat a bucketful of protein, you will likely gain lean body mass. But here’s the kicker. If all you did was overeat on protein (i.e., in our study subjects overfed on whey protein), you would likely lose weight. And not muscle mass my friend. You’d lose fat. In a study we presented at the 2015 ISSN Conference in Austin TX, we found that individuals who had the highest protein intakes (>3 grams per kg b.w. daily), also experienced a significant drop in % body fat. The NP (normal protein) group consumed a little over 2 grams per kg b.w. daily. And even that group lost a little bit of fat.

We even have data that if you just ate a LOT of protein (> 4 grams per kg b.w. daily) for 2 months (with no change in training), your body weight or body fat levels don’t even change.[4] Translation: it is extremely difficult to put on body fat by the mere overconsumption of dietary protein alone.

So what’s the moral of the story?  Eat protein. Eat plenty of it. It’ll help you recover; it’ll improve body composition; and besides, sometimes you just need to eat a thick juicy steak.


BIO – Dr. Jose Antonio is the CEO of the ISSN (www.issn.net) and an Assistant Professor at Nova Southeastern University. His current research focus is on the effects of high protein diets on recreational bodybuilders and SUP (stand up paddlers). He probably eats more white rice than protein.


1.         Lemmens SG, Born JM, Martens EA, Martens MJ, Westerterp-Plantenga MS: Influence of consumption of a high-protein vs. high-carbohydrate meal on the physiological cortisol and psychological mood response in men and women. PLoS One 2011, 6:e16826.

2.         Friedman AN, Ogden LG, Foster GD, Klein S, Stein R, Miller B, Hill JO, Brill C, Bailer B, Rosenbaum DR, Wyatt HR: Comparative effects of low-carbohydrate high-protein versus low-fat diets on the kidney. Clin J Am Soc Nephrol 2012, 7:1103-1111.

3.         Poortmans JR, Dellalieux O: Do regular high protein diets have potential health risks on kidney function in athletes? Int J Sport Nutr Exerc Metab 2000, 10:28-38.

4.         Antonio J, Peacock CA, Ellerbroek A, Fromhoff B, Silver T: The effects of consuming a high protein diet (4.4 g/kg/d) on body composition in resistance-trained individuals. J Int Soc Sports Nutr 2014, 11:19.


Out-Supplement a Bad Diet


By Jose Antonio PhD FISSN FNSCA

Key points if you are too lazy to spend 7 minutes reading this:shutterstock-couch-potato

  1.  Virtually every study on effective ergogenic aids have not controlled for diet.
  2. You can improve exercise performance with no change in diet.
  3. Diet is however key to looking pretty.
  4. Goals determine strategies – endurance athletes can get away with eating the kitchen sink.
  5. It is always best to implement strategies of eating well, effective supplementation, and proper exercise to achieve your goal(s).
  6. I really don’t give a shit what you eat.
  7. Read the references at the end.

You’re familiar with the saying that “if you tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it, people will eventually come to believe it.”  Was it Joseph Goebbels who said that?  Nevertheless, how out train a bad dietmany times have you seen the internet meme, popularized by Facebook fitness aficionados, that states the following: “You Can’t Out Train a Bad Diet.”  Or it might go something like these:  “If you take supplements on a crappy diet, you still have a crappy diet.”  Or “you must clean up your diet first before you take supplement(s).”  Certainly, the fortune cookie sayings sound good.  But are they in fact true?

I remember when President Bill Clinton said “I did not have sexual relations with that woman…”  Perhaps he even believed it.repeat3

Getting back to the bad diet and training stuff.  If your goal is to look purrrty, then your diet is probably the single most important factor.  So for all of you physique athletes who were ready to tar and feather me for this dietary blasphemy, rest assured you can get back on Instagram and post your 132nd selfie of the year.  On the other hand, if your goal is performance, particularly in the endurance realm, then it’s certainly possible to out train a ‘bad diet.’ Endurance athletes expend an ungodly amount of energy just with training alone.  For instance, the average energy intake of male cyclists riding 15-18 hours a day for 10 days was over 7,000 calories![1]  In fact, 44% of the carbohydrate calories came from simple sugars, cookies, sweetened drinks, and candy. Try getting those calories by eating broccoli and chicken.  The total energy expenditure of female swimmers during a eating hot dogparticular training period averaged ~5,600 calories.[2]   What’s the commonality with these athletes?  Their paramount dietary concern is getting enough calories.  That means eating anything and everything:  ice cream, peanut butter, steak, eggs, rice, apple pie, sushi, fish oil, Krispy Kreme donuts, bread with butter, hot dogs, blah blah blah.  Of course, if you have no plans to cycle all day, swim from Cuba to Florida, or train for the Ironman triathlon (i.e. swim 2.4 miles, bike 112 miles and then run 26.2 miles) then perhaps you can’t out train a ‘bad’ diet.

Moreover, let’s look a corollary of this.  I do think that you can out-supplement a bad diet. Or put another way, do you have to clean up your diet before you take a supplement(s)?  That depends on whether you use science to answer your question or your grandma’s voodoo logic from the old country.  In fact, for all of you ‘do you even science’ enthusiasts, I’d suggest you check out the science. And oh by the way, science is a noun, not a verb.

trivia crackLet’s play a little bit of Trivia Crack.  So turn on that cortex and answer the following question:  Which of the following strategies can produce the quickest and measurable increases in exercise performance and/or body composition?  A) Changes in Training.  B) Changes in Diet.  C) Changes in Supplementation.  D) All of the above are equally effective.

If you answered A, B or D, you need to go back to school.  If you answered C, then you’re the teacher’s pet.  In general, changes in diet or training take roughly 4 weeks to produce measurable changes in performance or body composition.  Taking the right supplements can take minutes to a few days to produce a robust ergogenic effect.  In fact, let’s look at the current science and see what strategies (diet vs supplements) increase muscular power, strength and lean body mass better and quicker.

But before we do that, let me kill another stinkin’ cliché that I see more often than I hear that annoying “Shake it off” song by Taylor ‘twiggy’ Swift.  It goes like this: Foods are always better than supplements.  Clinical types just loooooove saying this.  Actually, pretty much everyone clings to this with the same enthusiasm that a fat boy in Texas clings to his cotton candy at the State Fair.

The “foods are always better than supplements” and the “you can’t out-supplement a bad diet” really go hand in hand.  To wit:

  • Branched-chain amino acids consumed immediately before a killer workout can reduce muscle damage and accelerate recovery [3].  Is there a food that can do that?  Heck, would you want to eat food prior to such a hard workout?
  • Creatine supplementation can increase muscle mass and sprint performance in as little as three days.[4]  Is there a food that can do that?  Don’t think so.
  • Betaine supplementation can increase power output in as little as seven days.[5]  Is there a food that can do that?  Yeah.  Can’t find one can you?
  • Beta-alanine supplementation for 1 month can increase training volume and lower the sensation of fatigue.[6]  Are there any scientific studies to show that a whole food can do that same?  Uh.  Guess not.
  • There is a dearth of foods that show promise as ergogenic aids.  One that is equal to a supplement in terms of a rapid ergogenic effect is coffee (vs caffeine).[7] Also, low fat chocolate milk is as good as your typical sports drink for promoting recovery.[8]  But other than that, there ain’t much science out there (in terms of foods and an ergogenic effect).

dont give a fuck“The beauty of science is that it doesn’t care what you believe.”

Indeed.  There are few foods that have the profound effect that certain dietary supplements have.  If you read the 1000 plus peer-reviewed studies on sports supplements (e.g. creatine, caffeine, beta-alanine, BCAAs, protein, etc), virtually NONE of them have controlled for diet.

Meaning, it doesn’t matter if you eat as clean as a cloistered nun or as cruddy as a beer-drinkin’ New England Deflatetriots fan.  You don’t have to clean up your diet to take supplements.


This photo, courtesy of Pauline Nordin (Fighter Diet) has nothing to do with this article. I just like the pic. Booyah!

HOWEVER, that doesn’t mean you SHOULDN’T clean up your diet.  Certainly it is best that you eat well, take supplements, and train harder than a hamster on a wheel.  But the notion that foods trump supplements all the time has no basis in fact.  In fact, the supportive data shows that certain supplements can indeed produce a robust ergogenic effect even with no change in diet.

So enough of the fortune cookie sayings.

Yes.  You do not have to clean up your diet before you take a supplement(s).  You can out-supplement a bad diet. 

And depending on your athletic endeavor, yes you can out-train a bad diet.

And yes.  It is better if you take supplements and are on a good diet.

I’d suggest you also work out hard.  And sweat a lot.

BIO – Dr. Jose Antonio earned his PhD at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center.  If you want to buy him beer and sushi, please meet him at the ISSN Conference. Thank you.


1.            Gabel KA, Aldous A, Edgington C: Dietary intake of two elite male cyclists during 10-day, 2,050-mile ride. Int J Sport Nutr 1995, 5:56-61.

2.            Trappe TA, Gastaldelli A, Jozsi AC, Troup JP, Wolfe RR: Energy expenditure of swimmers during high volume training. Med Sci Sports Exerc 1997, 29:950-954.

3.            Howatson G, Hoad M, Goodall S, Tallent J, Bell PG, French DN: Exercise-induced muscle damage is reduced in resistance-trained males by branched chain amino acids: a randomized, double-blind, placebo controlled study. J Int Soc Sports Nutr 2012, 9:20.

4.            Ziegenfuss TN, Rogers M, Lowery L, Mullins N, Mendel R, Antonio J, Lemon P: Effect of creatine loading on anaerobic performance and skeletal muscle volume in NCAA Division I athletes. Nutrition 2002, 18:397-402.

5.            Pryor JL, Craig SA, Swensen T: Effect of betaine supplementation on cycling sprint performance. J Int Soc Sports Nutr 2012, 9:12.

6.            Hoffman JR, Ratamess NA, Faigenbaum AD, Ross R, Kang J, Stout JR, Wise JA: Short-duration beta-alanine supplementation increases training volume and reduces subjective feelings of fatigue in college football players. Nutr Res 2008, 28:31-35.

7.            Wiles JD, Bird SR, Hopkins J, Riley M: Effect of caffeinated coffee on running speed, respiratory factors, blood lactate and perceived exertion during 1500-m treadmill running. Br J Sports Med 1992, 26:116-120.

8.            Spaccarotella KJ, Andzel WD: The effects of low fat chocolate milk on postexercise recovery in collegiate athletes. J Strength Cond Res 2011, 25:3456-3460.


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


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Is Dieting and Being Bikini Ready Year Around Safe?

By Chris and Eric Martinez, CISSN.  We’ve always thought it was funny when women would tell us that they can stay in bikini shape year-around and still make gains in their physiques. We would sit there and ask them, “So how exactly do you plan on doing this?” They would always how-to-get-a-better-and-perfect-beach-body-188reply with, “Oh just be strict on my diet and ‘eat clean,’ low calories, low carb it, lots of cardio, and stick to my high rep training to stay toned.”

We kid you not, every answer was something along those lines and we wouldn’t critique their responses because we knew that these were A) The type that got their info from Gwyneth Paltrow out of a magazine and B) The type of women that would not listen to a word that came out of our mouths and would just nod their pretty little faces and go on about their business in their Lululemon yoga pants.

We decided to do some research on this, ask some fellow experts in the field, use our real world practice, experience, and results from our female clients, and write this article. We want to inform you if being in bikini shape year-round is safe, smart, realistic, healthy, and then some. You ready to find out if you can stay in bikini shape year-around and still make progress in your body?

Crashing Your Metabolism

Let’s start this off with crashing your metabolism or a more appropriate word would be ‘Metabolic Adaptation’ through excessive calorie restriction and excessive aerobic training volumes. What’s metabolic adaptation you ask? The way we define this is your metabolism is permitted from losing body fat unless you starve yourself. It’s a lack of weight loss disproportionate to your calorie intake.

A common example of this would be a bikini or figure competitor. They would be on an 15370_83_1extremely low calorie diet, anywhere form 600-1,000 calories and doing a high volume of low intensity aerobic exercise, anywhere from 2-3 hours a day and up to 5-6 times a week, and eventually they would end up not being able to drop body fat.

“The reason they can’t drop body fat is because their body adapts to the low calorie intake and the high calorie output so much to where they don’t get any caloric burn from exercise. They also have very little thermogenic effect from foods and low basal metabolic rates. Their metabolism is blunted, so they don’t have any type of metabolic cushion to work with and thus they can’t lose adipose tissue.” says Layne Norton.

(Note: For more info on Metabolic Adaptation click here)

When you’re in a severe caloric restriction and doing high volumes of aerobic training, which 99% of the time means trying to attain low body fat levels so you can fit in that poke a dot bikini, you have to understand that maintaining this shape is very difficult, unhealthy, and most of the times unrealistic.

Is it Possible to be in Bikini Shape Year-Round?

In our opinions, there are four ways that you can realistically stay in bikini shape and still improve your physique, more on that in a moment. We went ahead and asked expert Alan Aragon what ways he thought someone could stay bikini ready year-around:

Whether or not it’s realistic to stay in bikini shape all year-round depends on just how ‘in-shape’ we’re talking about. beach-body1_45While hard work and dedication is obviously involved, the look of women on fitness magazine covers is largely based on genetics. In many cases, it’s a matter of having won the genetic lottery, plus getting some extra help from drugs.”

We agree with some of Alan’s points; however we feel there are some other ways that you can realistically stay in bikini shape and still improve your physique:

  1. You are genetically gifted and have all the right things going for you
  2. Having an ectomorphic body type with a greyhound type (very fast) metabolism
  3. Extra help from drugs
  4. Implement Reverse dieting

Since we all aren’t genetic freaks, don’t have sky rocketing metabolisms, and last time we checked drugs were illegal, let’s focus on the last one, implementing reverse dieting.

Enter Reverse Dieting

When you implement reverse dieting you want to focus on improving your metabolic capacity so that you can handle a higher level of calories for gaining muscle mass, without putting on excessive body fat. When you can fully maximize your metabolic capacity, this will play a key role in dropping body fat when you’re in a caloric restriction aka dieting for that bikini.

For example, who’s going to have an easier time losing fat?

Subject A) Person who maintains their body weight on 3000 calories or

Subject B) Person who maintains their body weight on 1500 calories

It’s subject ‘A’ because they have a higher metabolic capacity. Subject ‘A’ has more caloric cushion to work with when it comes to dropping calories over the course of time.

Reverse dieting will also help with re-storing your metabolism to a more suitable rate to your body. In order to do this you must slowly, deliberately, and in a controlled fashion add in calories to your diet.

Reverse dieting could also possibly help lose body fat because your metabolism becomes stimulated. If you want to drop fat, you have to have the metabolic capacity to do so and if you’re constantly maintaining your weight in bikini shape around 1,000 calories then you aren’t going to have the metabolic cushion to lose fat nor will you have the caloric intake to gain muscle mass and make improvements in your physique.

Is It Safe To Be In Bikini Shape Year-Round?

Prolonged dieting and severe calorie restriction isn’t a very smart thing to do and if you want us to be frank, it’s pretty damn stupid just to sit there and attempt this just to say you can fit into a sexy leopard bikini all year around or hop on a red eye to Vegas any time of the year.

We know this is a big deal for some of you ladies, some others it’s not, but there are serious psychological and physiological health implications from doing this. Allow us:

  • The high volume of training, low energy intake (calories), and stress hormones produced by psychological stress, may lead to a physiological alteration in the endocrinological control of the menstrual cycle (loss of periods).
  • Low energy levels over a period of time can cause higher concentrations of growth hormone, cortisol, and lower concentrations of leptin, insulin, and triiodothyronine. These are all hormones related to metabolism, and thus to nutritional and metabolic status.
  • Some female athletes have a classic eating disorder, potentially driven by a need to maintain a low body mass for performance (i.e., bikini body).
  • You could potentially develop osteoporosis (thin and weak bones) from malnutrition and low energy intake.
  • Your mental health state can become a real issue when it comes to relationships, social events, work, etc.

That sexy leopard bikini and Vegas trip with the girls can wait until summer.

Plumping Up That Booty

Now, we know you don’t want to have a flat booty in your sexy bikini year after year right? So how do you expect to get your booty to improve if you’re constantly low calorie dieting with tons of cardio? The answer is you can’t. You will have a flat behind in your sexy bikini year-around, year after year, unless you do some of the things we discussed in the earlier part of this article. You also have to target your glutes directly when you train and use movements such as: Barbell hip thrusts, barbell glute bridges, single leg hip thrusts, etc.

(For more info on direct glute training click here). 

You just can’t make improvements to your physique if you’re low calorie dieting all year around. You simply won’t have the calories or energy to build muscle or even train hard. On the contrary, if you have more calories in your diet, then you’ll have more energy, more strength, increased glycogen in the muscle, you’ll train harder, you’ll recover better, and thus you’ll make more gains in your physique, especially the booty.

Wrap Up

As you can see, it was very hard to sit there and critique these pretty ladies responses to staying bikini ready all year-around in a quick conversation. Hopefully we’ve informed you on why it’s just not safe and smart to try and stay bikini ready all-year around. Some take home points are:

  • Don’t eat extreme low calorie diets and do excessive amounts of low intensity aerobic exercise, this is a recipe for Metabolic Adaptation.
  • Metabolic Adaptation does occur, although there’s not much data on this yet, the anecdotal evidence is very clear and should not be taken lightly.
  • Implement reverse dieting to build your caloric and metabolic capacity.
  • Understand that maintaining this type of shape is very difficult, unhealthy, and most of the times unrealistic.
  • If you want to improve your physique, you should reverse diet and slowly add in calories over time along with a proper training protocol.

It may look cute and feel good to stay bikini ready year-around, but the cons out weigh the pros and we personally would never want to be complacent and look the same year after year. So, unless you’re one of the rare and gifted ones out there, don’t think you can just stay in bikini shape year-around and still make improvements in your physique. Put in the work senoritas.  :-)

Special Thanks To:

Layne Norton and Alan Aragon for their thoughts and comments on this subject.


  1. Johannsen et al. Metabolic Slowing with Massive Weight Loss Despite Preservation of Fat-Free Mass. J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 2012
  2. Wong et al. Caloric Restriction Induces Changes in Insulin and Body Weight Measurements That Are Inversely Associated with Subsequent Weight regain. PLoS one. 2012
  3. Sports and Women Athletes: The Female Triad Athlete. Am Fam Physician. 2004. http://www.aafp.org/afp/2004/0401/p1734.html
  4. Karen Birch. Female Triad Athlete. BMJ. 2005. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC546077/
  5. Layne Norton. Metabolic Damage. 2012 Dec. http://youtu.be/QHHzie6XRGk

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


Gain Weight the Right Way

by Jenna Stranzl RD CISSN.  This article was originally posted at http://jennastranzl.com

Pizza.  Burgers.  Candy bars.  Cheesesteaks.  Whole milk.  Have you ever tried any of these strategies to gain weight?  Some of you may want to throw darts at this post because you would do anything to have this problem – gaining weight.  For many athletes or even those with simply a furnace metabolism, this can truly be an aggravating experience.

Thing is, gaining weight can be done two ways – by either eating every thing in sight, or by training smart and eating higher calorie *smart* foods that have better nutrient profiles than a, let’s say, pork roll sandwich.  When people just eat to gain weight, they often whattoeat_lunch_pizzaburgerselect fatty foods and those that lack any nutritional value.  This makes an individual more likely to have increased risk for things such as heart disease, hypertension, disturbed sleep, lack of concentration, and especially with athletics – a decrease in performance.

Just like losing weight, the same applies to weight gain – patience and a healthy way of life.  Eating lean proteins, healthy fats, complex carbohydrates, and limiting added fats, sugar, and sodium.  Remember, to gain one pound per week, one must eat an additional 500 calories per day.  This could be as simple as 2 tablespoons of peanut butter, banana, and honey on your AM breakfast toast, an extra drizzle of olive oil on your salad, and a large glass of low-fat or skim milk before bed.

Easy calorie boost to toast — PB, banana, & drizzle honey

Need some additional ideas?  Look no further.  Here are 25 suggestions to help put on the pounds.

  1. Add calcium-rich cheese when making mashed potatoes (keep the skin in the mash to add a boost of fiber)
  2. Opt for light dressings – fat free dressings add minimal calories, but non-creamy dressings like balsamic, Italian, or oil and vinegar add healthy fats.  The healthy fats in the dressing actually help absorb the fat-soluable vitamins in the salad’s nutrients
  3. Use hearty complex carbohydrates like bulgar and wheatberry when making a pasta salad – great amount of calories in a small portion and packed with good for you nutrients
  4. Opt for quinoa over white rice.  Quinoa is a complete protein – who knew?  Use it with some tomatoes, garlic, and toss in some lean chicken or shrimp for a nice balanced dish
  5. Simply use thicker 100% whole-wheat bread slices versus thin sliced.  Many bakeries can cut the bread to a thicker slice, so speak up when at the counter.

Just a handful of almonds can add 100+ calories and heart-healthy fatsomega_6_fatty_acids

  1. Don’t go too long without eating!  Solution?  Carry around 100-calorie packs of foods.  Stock them in your car, duffle bag, locker, desk drawer, purse – wherever you can sneak a bag.  Even almonds come in 100-calorie packs (thank you Emeralds!!)
  2. High calorie snack?  Munch on trail mix!  Heart healthy nuts, fiber-rich dried fruits, and even toss in some pumpkin or sunflower seeds.  Limit the dried banana chips though, as they tend to be fried before packaging.
  3. Opt for a hefty bagel with cream cheese versus a bagel.  When you pick a whole-wheat bagel, you’re getting a better dose of the right type of carbohydrate, minimal fats.  They pretty much have the same amount of calories, but the bagel offers a better nutrient profile.  Or, add an egg to the bagel for a dose of protein.
  4. Pesto sauce!  Pesto sauce is heavy on the olive oil and heart healthy pine nuts so you can eat small amounts and gain calories quickly.  Toss into your pasta with a side of hearty bread and a salad drizzled with some olive oil and your calories are adding up!
  5. Pizza?  Opt for thick crust or Sicilian versus thin crust pizza.  Thick crust has more carbohydrate (our bodies prime source of fuel as athletes!) and calories.  You can also opt to add some lean proteins like shrimp and crabmeat or roasted turkey or chicken breast.
  6. Only use mustard on your sandwich?  Spread on some hummus!  Hummus boosts healthy fats, protein, and some fiber (chickpeas, lemon, and olive oil) and can create a fun alternative.  Just 2 tablespoons can boost the sandwich with an additional 50-100 calories.
  7. Avoid diet foods that might be in the house.  Steer away from mom’s Special K bars and Crystal Light.  Stick to heartier granola bars like Nature Valley and Cliff Bars.
  8. Toss the sodas as a means of added calories.  The sub?  Make your own!  Use 2 liters of seltzer water or club soda PLUS one tub of 100% fruit juice concentrate.  Mix and drink!

Why go skim? Skim milk lacks the artery clogging saturated fats whole milk provides but contains the same protein content.milk-500_0

  1. Drink 2% milk versus whole milk.  Whole milk just has additional saturated fats (a thumbs down for the heart).  Get your calories elsewhere from healthy calorie boosters like peanut butter, olive oils, dried fruits, etc.  The protein content of all milks (skim, low-fat, whole) are the exact same.
  2. Protein shakes are fine – just stick to those that are NSF approved.  Meaning, they are approved for sport.  If you take a drug test, you are knowing you are taking a protein supplement that has been tested and safe for use.  A lot of products out there may create a positive drug test, simply because there are components that fall into it during production or you do not know about.  EAS Myoplex and Muscle Milk Collegiate are GREAT options.
  3. Snack on dried fruits!  Dried fruits come in many types: peach rinds, apple slices, raisins, prunes (LOVE THEM!), cranberries, etc.  While there is sugar added during the drying process, they still contain a fiber boost and added calories.  Toss in your cereal, oatmeal, yogurt, ice cream, trail mix, and salads.  Prunes for example are high in antioxidants, which reduce free radical damage.  This can ultimately reduce muscle soreness after a workout.
  4. Skip creamy alfredo.  Why?  High in saturated fats and low in nutrients.  A simple substitution with a matching calorie content?  Penne pasta with grilled chicken, sautéed vegetables (in olive oil), and marinara sauce.  See, it is about the meal composition – selecting healthier options, with similar caloric content.
  5. Chocolate?  Dark chocolate!  It packs a punch in terms of antioxidants.  Make sure to select dark chocolates that offer over 65% cacao – meaning, the higher the percentage, the better the antioxidant level in the chocolate.
  6. Chomp on olives.  Heart healthy and can add calories without feeling like you ate a ton.

Fatty fish like salmon, mackarel, or trout provide anti-inflammatory properties that are helpful for an athletes training regime and recovery.

  1. Opt for lean meats or healthy fatty meats.  What is a healthy fatty meat?  Salmon, for example.  Salmon boosts more calories per ounce than tuna, but why?  Simply because of its oils and we know that fish oil does wonders for athletes.  Tuna is also a great choice though – because it boosts quality protein.  Select white meats versus dark to lower fat content (turkey and chicken).  Pork tenderloin is another great low-fat, hearty protein option.
  1. Making eggs?  Boost calories by wrapping those eggs into a whole-wheat tortilla!  Then add some cheese, peppers, onions, and mushrooms for an added veggie and calcium boost!
  2. Soups on!  Avoid creamy soups and select hearty bean soups like turkey chili, vegetarian chili, or lentil soups.  These soups have a high fiber, high protein profile with a similar amount of calories.
  3. Re-create your bland salad.  A salad can add healthy calories quickly.  How?  Add some of the following: sunflower seeds, dried cranberries, pecans or walnuts, feta cheese, soybeans, and lean proteins like turkey, fish, or chicken.
  4. Munch on nuts!  A small dose packs a heavy calorie punch (20 almonds or 12-13 walnuts is a serving).  Snack on these throughout the day to add up your numbers.
  5. Save room for your appetite.  Don’t always fill up on liquids – instead, focus on foods with a hearty nutrient profile.  Beef up your oatmeal or cereals by adding nuts, honey, fruits (dried or fresh), and a dash of granola

Most importantly, learn that weight gain is not an easy process and takes time.  Keep positive and understand that in order to gain, you must acknowledge that you may need to try foods you may not have thought to.  Step outside of the box and eventually, you will see these foods can make you become better, stronger, and healthier.


Jenna is a registered dietitian (RD) and sports nutritionist (CISSN).  She currently serves as the consulting sports nutritionist for The PGA Tour 2012, the Philadelphia Flyers (NHL), Trenton Titans (ECHL)Velocity Sports Peformance – Cherry Hill and Allentown/Lehigh Valley. Jenna has experience with athletes of all ages including recreational, elite, and professional athletes. She has worked for IMG Academies as a sports nutritionist to high-school and professional athletes in Bradenton, FL – including the US Men’s Soccer U17 National Team, the Penn State Sports Nutrition Clinic, and development of dietary supplements and pediatric nutrition research for Wyeth Nutrition/Pharmaceuticals. Additional experience includes a professional development at Athletes’ Performance, contributions for MLB’s RBI Program (Reviving Baseball in Inner Cities), Major League Strength, the Taylor Hooton Foundation, STACK Media, and ShowcaseU.  Additional clients include athletes’ within professional and collegiate baseball, basketball, gymnastic, football, horse racing, and track & field.  Jenna is also currently the Program Coordinator of Nutrition at Drexel University, in conjuction with the Eat.Right.Now Program for the city of Philadelphia. As an avid runner, Jenna has participated in several marathons; therefore, ensuring sports nutrition is a part of her daily training and lifestyle.  If you really love this article, check out the rest at http://jennastranzl.com/about/

Unscrambling the Hard Boiled Truth

image003by Anamaria Cretu.  With about 70 calories, five grams of fat, six grams of protein, vitamins and minerals galore, and a whopping 185 milligrams of cholesterol inside its shell, the egg really packs a punch [1]!  So, what’s the “shell” with eggs?  With the ‘incredible egg’ is actually the best way to start the day providing high nutrient contents and overall bodily benefits [1].  However, the word out of every quack’s mouth encourages you to limit egg consumption in your diet to reduce the chances of cardiovascular disease [2, 25, 26, 27].  Let’s break open the shell and let the eggcellent truth spill out for all to realize that eggs are healthy and have little effect on cardiovascular risk [2].  Hear the truth, become a fan and follow Sam because I do like green eggs and ham, and you should like them like Sam I am [20].

Although it’s been deemed that an egg a day won’t keep the doctor away since many docs rave about eggs being the cause for cardiovascular disease (CVD) and even heart failure [6].  Yet, eggs are like the shield of armor for a knight, which can fight off the ‘bad’ cholesterol and actually prevent CVD [7].  Much of the claims that eggs in the diet actually increase LDL greater than the high-density lipoprotein (HDL) are really a misrepresentation of the ‘incredible egg’ [19].  When consuming the cracked contents of eggs, it has been shown to elevate this anti-inflammatory and anti-artherogenic agent that may be the reason for fighting off CVD [7].  No doubt, the egg is one mighty superhero for the body. 

Are my eyes really seeing the truth that eggs increase HDL and lower LDL cholesterol [7]?  Although, doc has told us that eggs are terribly bad for the body, the eye popping nutrients inside the eggs are truly the fountain of youth for the eyes in keeping them healthy [8].  So your mom may not have told you, but eggs are a good source of carotenoids, which are the same things in those vegetables that you avoid eating [8].  The blind side of eggs is within the yolk which contains these carotenoid factors known as lutein and zeaxanthin to basically enhance eye pigmentation for adequate vision [8].  Forget the vegetables and crack open a couple of eggs; they’ll surely do your eyes and body a favor. 

When you worry less about cholesterol causing CVD and losing your eye vision, then you’ll love your scale more than ever.  Eating eggs truly is the icing on the cake, but without the extra meaningless calories; the great news is that consuming higher cholesterol during a low energy diet promotes a constant weight management [9].  Up till now, docs have been preaching about a diet low in saturated fat and cholesterol by limiting egg consumption [11, 18], but you’re wrong doc because the egg is what it’s cracked up to be.  The ‘incredible egg’ can provide the essential amino acids which are those good’ole proteins that make your body big and strong and even make you fit in those skinny jeans[11].  There’s a reason to scramble ourselves some eggs in the morning rather than eating that cardboard cereal that we always indulge in.   hard-boiled-egg-1    

Aren’t we literally the bread consumers of the world?  Referring to the actual grains, we have become copy cats believing that having a higher fat diet will result in heart failure [10].  Eggs are loaded with fats [11], however, these aren’t the same fats you get from doughnuts.  Folks, there is such a thing as healthy fats. These are known as your omega 3 fatty acids.  They are anti-inflammatory agents and may even prevent certain types of cancer and coronary heart disease [12, 13, 23].  This may shock you but eating a couple of eggs a day doesn’t contribute to negative effects on blood lipid results [13, 26].  However, the goodness of fats is nothing like the muscle enhancer of protein inside the shell of the eggs.

Those docs love to drive you to eat all the whole grain carbohydrates because it seems to them to be the way to lower heart failure; however, fellow egg lovers know that those high carbohydrate diets may not be the best way to lose that stubborn fat since our bodies suck up carbohydrates like vacuums [10, 16].  Being satiated from protein seems to be the way to decrease the chances you’d pull up to the drive-thru window at McDonald’s [16].  You may want to join the latest fad of consuming more protein over carbohydrates since it will be the first class ticket for you to get your next Schwarzenegger looking like body and for your young one to grow and be brain smart  [14, 15, 16, 22].   

All the focus on egg sensitivity and allergies make eggs seem just as bad for your infants and children, right [14]?  Wrong, mothers-to- be you need to listen up here; breast milk has shown a failure in providing the adequate amount of iron needed for the infant, so the super egg is here to fix it all [14].  The yolk is really no joke because it contains the needed sources for iron to prevent early onset of deficiencies in infants [14].  Want to hear more?  The nutrient rich fats in eggs are considered to also be a sufficient source for infants’ brains for memory and sleep especially in the first months of life [14, 22].  In reality, the effects of eggs on infants and children is virtually irrelevant to adults even though the consumption has been shown to maintain the HDL and LDL levels of cholesterol [14, 15].  We know that eggs are so good for you, so what’s the buzz about eggs causing cancer?  

With all eyes on the cancers of the world, it isn’t surprising that eggs have captured the attention as an agent causing ovarian cancer in women [17].  If it was that simple for cells to become cancerous after eating the fats and protein of eggs, then we’d all be walking cancers [24].  The eggciting news about eggs is that they have the same association to cancer as does a piece of red meat [17].  What about the diet and the environment as a factor for the hormone distribution in the body to associate with cancer; everyone loves to blame eggs for everything even though they do more good than bad [17, 24].  Never fear though, super egg is here:-)          

The egg really is what it’s cracked up to be!  Eggs are truly an ideal source for improving not only overall health but potential risk factors for disease and cancer too [2, 3, 8, 9, 11, 13, 14, 16, 17 ].  Watch out for the super egg because it’s flying in for a landing on your morning plate to provide its goodness for both you and your young one’s body and mind. 

About the Author:  Anamaria Cretu is an undergraduate student at Nova Southeastern University.  Her field of study is Exercise Science.


1. Incredible Edible Egg. (2012). Retrieved Oct. 20, 2012. http://www.incredibleegg.org/health-and-nutrition/egg-nutrients/nutrient-label

2. Scrafford, C., Tran, N., Barraj, L., & Mink, P. (2011). Egg consumption and CHD and stroke mortality: a prospective study of US adults. Public Health Nutrition. 14, 261-270 doi:10.1017/S1368980010001874.

3. Nakamura, Y., Iso, H., Kita, Y., Ueshima, H., Okada, K., Konishi, M., . . . Tsugane, S. (2006). Egg consumption, serum total cholesterol concentrations and coronary heart disease incidence: Japan Public Health Center based  prospective study. British Journal of Nutrition. 96, 921-928 doi:10.1017/BJN20061937.

4. Djousse, L., Gaziano, M. (2008). Egg Consumption and Cardiovascular Disease and Mortality The Physicians’ Health Study. Am J Clin Nutr, 87(4): 964–969.

5. Houston, D., Ding, J., Lee, J., Garcia, M., Kanaya, A., Tylavsky, F., . . . Kritchevsky, K. (2011). Dietary Fat and Cholesterol and Risk of Cardiovascular Disease in Older Adults: the Health ABC Study. Nutr Metab Cardiovasc Dis. 21(6), 430–437. doi:10.1016/j.numecd.2009.11.007.

6. Djousse, L., Gaziano, M. (2008). Egg Consumption and Risk of Heart Failure in the Physicians’ Health Study. Circulation. 117(4): 512–516. doi:10.1161/CIRCULATIONAHA.107.734210.

7. Klangjareonchai, T., Putadechakum, S., Sritara, P., & Roongpisuthipong, C. (2012). The Effect of Egg Consumption in Hyperlipidemic Subjects during Treatment with Lipid-Lowering Drugs. Journal of Lipids. 1-4. doi:10.1155/2012/672720.

8. Moeller, S., Jacques, P., & Blumberg, J. (2000). The Potential Role of Dietary Xanthophylls in Cataract and Age-Related Macular Degeneration. Journal of the American College of Nutrition. 19(5), 522S–527S.

9. Lacombe, C., Corraze, G., Nibbelink, M., Boulze, D., Douste-Blazy, P., & Camare, R. (1986). Effects of a low energy diet associated with egg supplementation on plasma cholesterol and lipoprotein levels in normal subjects: results of a crossover study. British Journal of Nutrition. 56, 561-575. doi:10.1079/BJN19860137.

10. Nettleton, J., Steffen, L., Loehr, L., Rosamond, W., Folsom, A. (2008). Incident Heart Failure Is Associated with Lower Whole-Grain Intake and Greater High-Fat Dairy and Egg Intake in the Atherosclerosis Risk in Communities (ARIC) Study. J Am Diet Assoc. 108(11), 1881–1887. doi:10.1016/j.jada.2008.08.015.

11.  Kummerow, F., Kim, Y., Hull., Pollard, J., Ilinov, P., Dorossiev, D., Valek, J. (1977). The influence of egg consumption on the serum cholesterol level in human subjects. Am J Clin Nutr. 30, 664-673.

12. Endevelt, R., & Shahar, D. (2004). Omega 3: the Vanishing Nutrient beyond Cardiovascular Prevention and Treatment. IMAJ. 6, 235-239.

13. Lewis, N., Seburg, S., & Flanagan, N. (2000). Enriched Eggs as a Source of N-3 Polyunsaturated Fatty Acids for Humans. Poultry Science. 79, 971–974.

14. Makarides, M., Hawkes, J., Neumann, M., & Gibson, R. (2002). Nutritional effect of including egg yolk in the weaning diet of breast-fed and formula-fed infants: a randomized controlled trial.  Am J Clin Nutr. 75, 1084-1092.

15. Ballesteros, M., Cabrera, R., Saucedo, M., & Fernandez, M. (2004). Dietary cholesterol does not increase biomarkers for chronic disease in a pediatric population from northern Mexico.  Am J Clin Nutr. 80, 855-861.

16. Weigle, D., Breen, P., Matthys, C., Callahan, H., Meeuws, K., Burden, V., & Purnell, J. (2005). A high-protein diet induces sustained reductions in appetite, adlibitum caloric intake, and body weight despite compensatory changes in diurnal plasma leptin and ghrelin concentrations.  Am J Clin Nutr. 82, 41– 48.

17. Larsson, S. & Wolk, A. (2005). No Association of Meat, Fish, and Egg Consumption with Ovarian Cancer Risk. Cancer Epidemiol Biomarkers Prev. 14, 1024-1025.

18. Dawber, T., Nickerson, R., Brand, F., & Pool, J. (1982). Eggs, serum cholesterol, and coronary heart disease. Am J Clin Nutr. 36, 617-625.

19. Roberts, S., McMurray, M., & Connor, W. (1981). Does egg feeding (i.e., dietary cholesterol) affect plasma cholesterol levels in humans? The results of a double-blind study.  Am J Clin Nutr. 34, 2092-2099.

20. Geisel, T. (1960). Green Eggs and Ham. Retrieved from http://www.mfwi.edu/MFWI/Recordings/Green%20Eggs%20and%20Ham.pdf

21. Spence, J., Jenkins, D., & Davignon, J. (2010). Dietary cholesterol and egg yolks: Not for patients at risk of vascular disease. Can J Cardiol. 26(9), e336-e339.

22. Mitchell, E., Slettenaar, M., Quadt, F., Giesbrecht, T., Kloek, J., Gerhardt, C.,Wiseman, S. (2011). Effect of hydrolysed egg protein on brain tryptophan availability. British Journal of Nutrition. 105, 611-617. doi:10.1017/S0007114510004150.

23. Bautista, L., Herran, O., & Serrano, C. (2001). Effects of palm oil and dietary cholesterol on plasma lipoproteins:results from a dietary crossover trial in free-living subjects. European Journal of Clinical Nutrition. 55, 748-754.

24. Bertone, E., Rosner, B., Hunter, D., Stampfer, M., Speizer, F., Colditz, G.,Hankinson, S. (2002). Dietary Fat Intake and Ovarian Cancer in a Cohort of US Women. American Journal of Epidemiology.  156(1), 22-31. doi: 10.1093/aje/kwf008.

25. Nakamura, Y., Okamura, T., Tamaki, S., Kadowaki, T., Hayakawa, T., Kita, Y., . . . Ueshima, H. (2004). Egg consumption, serum cholesterol, and cause-specific and all-cause mortality: the National Integrated Project for Prospective Observation of Non-communicable Disease and Its Trends in the Aged, 1980. Am J Clin Nutr. 80, 58-63.

26. Njike, V., Faridi, Z., Dutta, S., Gonzalez-Simon, A., & Katz, D. (2010). Daily egg consumption in hyperlipidemic adults -Effects on endothelial function and cardiovascular risk. Nutrition Journal. 9(28), 1-9.

27. Weggemans, R., Zock, P., & Katan, M. (2001). Dietary cholesterol from eggs increases the ratio of total cholesterol to high-density lipoprotein cholesterol in humans: a meta-analysis.  Am J Clin Nutr. 73, 885-891.


Interview – Kurtis Frank and Sol Orwell of Examine.com

SNI:  Roughly a decade and a half ago, folks who espoused eating differently than what was advised and promoted by the AND (formerly ADA- American Dietetic Association) and AHA (American Heart Association) were often vilified. In fact, folks who espoused eating less carbs (gasp!) were targeted as charlatans, quacks, and folks who promoted early death. Why do you think many in the ‘food industry’ are so resistant to new ideas such as consuming a ‘lower carb’ diet? In fact, why are many of them resistant to the notion of taking supplements on a regular basis???

Kurtis: Both the food industry (in this sense, persons who recommend eating a certain way) and the supplement industry are industries characterized by two main things in my mind: They are industries that have set a poor precedent in how much the public can trust them, either due to an apparent inability to deliver on promises (eat X to achieve Y) or have otherwise been outright shown to repeatedly violate consumer trust and safety for profit (the supplement industry does not have a good track record in this regard).  Both industries are not one time purchases, but lifetime repeated purchases. Many people will take a leap of faith when it comes to a single purchase, but the fact that you repeatedly spend money on these can lead to a prolonged financial drain

Because it is well established that people will give you money and they have gotten used to giving away this money with little to no evidence or proof to back the claim we have gotten a lot of (for lack of a better term) scum working in these industries undermining how much faith consumers can put in us.

When a new concept comes to the table that actually is scientifically valid, consumers are mixed as to whether they will throw money at the concept or to be highly skeptical. The idea of ‘fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice, shame on me’ comes to mind.  Not many consumers can delineate what is based on good evidence and what is based on absolutely nothing, so regardless of the topic introduced it will be met with both resistance and forerunners.  Supplements are in a worse position here since there is a horrible turnover rate of a ‘new’ compound every other month giving incredibly promises that even the best reference drugs cannot do. The ‘latest and greatest’ supplement (such a misnomer, greatness takes decades to establish) is merely just something to keep the gears of consumerism continuing.  Which really sucks. There are some great compounds out there but the fact that this consumer cycle exists does nothing but degrade public faith in supplements and destabilizing any potential of the supplement industry (or put another way, the ‘preventative’ branch of western medicine that targets people not in a clinically ill state) to actually be something good to society.  I don’t blame consumers at all for their hesitation against new diets and especially against supplements, the state of the industries currently suck.

Sol: I’m going to go with psychology in this. We have confirmation bias, and its children:  persistence of discredited beliefs, asymmetric insight, backfire effect, and attitude polarization. Summed up, once someone’s made their mind up, it’s hard to change it. You could even argue that it’s a form of psychological sunk cost – once you’ve put so much energy into believing and defending a theory, it’s hard to let go of it. I think attitude polarization is a big one – a person is less likely to admit/agree that they were wrong when the other person is being a combination of condescending and hostile. Just because you’re right doesn’t mean you have to be a jerk.

As for supplements – naturalistic fallacy. That sums it up neatly.

SNI:  Your website, Examine.com, has a lot of cool information (and accurate too). What “aha moment” led to you (Sol) to get involved in a field of study that has about as much to do with web development as teaching a fish to climb trees?

Sol: I cannot really say there was a singular moment I can look back and identify. I was losing weight. I was learning. I was taking notes on a variety of subject matters – entire books, hormones, macronutrients, etc. I had originally wanted to do this myself, but realized it was a bit beyond me. So then I offered the idea to Kurtis. He didn’t really have the technical know-how, so a bit after that we agreed to come and work together. We work together. You can say he’s the brains and I’m the looks.

SNI: For both of you, what are the top 5 supplements you’d recommend for overall general health and fitness?

Kurtis: Hard to come up with a top 5, as even these following supplements can be overruled if there is a certain condition affecting an individual that requires attention.

Vitamin D and Magnesium both need a spot in the top five, due mostly just to the common deficiencies in society. Other nutrients can also be deficient for some persons, but Vitamin D and Magnesium tend to be the hardest to get via a mixed diet.

I’d also put a protein powder in the top 5, although I don’t care which one to be honest (I like casein for the sole reason it is versatile in cooking and food preparation, but a rice/pea combination intrigues me due to being very similar in AA composition to whey but has the potential to be much cheaper and free of allergens).

As for the last two? This gets tough as I can think of about a dozen or so molecules that would be this important assuming a pre-existing ‘state’ of sorts.

Creatine will be here, since although it isn’t a vital nutrient it appears to benefit most people with no apparent side effects of clinical significance; it branches into both the neural and physical realms, which is very nice.

Bacopa Monnieri is my final one. Odd, as it isn’t a common recommendation. It is probably the cognitive enhancer with the largest body of evidence in otherwise healthy humans right now, and chronic usage of Bacopa appears to reliably increase cognition. Although the specific parameters of cognition that Bacopa improves still need to be ironed out and the mechanisms need to be proven, a reliable increase in cognition is rare and especially for one that works in otherwise healthy people and I would recommend Bacopa to all people not currently on pharmaceuticals (solely as we don’t yet know drug-herb interactions with Bacopa).

Sol:  Vitamin D. I live up in Toronto, and the overcast winter kills me (and the spring rains too). If there is anything I find notable, it’s Vitamin D.


low-vitamin-DZMA. Going to cheat and put those together. On an anecdotal level, I find it helps me with sleep quality (I find falling asleep easy), and also keeps that libido of mine revved.

Fish oil. Kurtis and I may not agree 100% on this being up here, but as someone who is older (relatively) to Kurtis, I find that I feel a lot less weary when I take it. Anecdotally my friends and family tend to agree.

Creatine. The more research done on it, the more useful it appears. It’s an obvious deficiency, and it’s cheap.

Protein powder. Beyond the usefulness of more protein in the average person’s diet, I honestly love using it to taste things. ON cake better, Trutein Cinnabun, etc. They make for delicious popsicles, cheesecakes, milkshakes, etc.

If I can bonus a sixth one in, lifting weights. I guess really it should be #1 – except for injuring yourself (in which case usually you have yourself to blame); it’s the ultimate health booster.

SNI:  Kurtis, as a group, RDs are often taught hook, line and sinker the typical mantra of “eat lots of carbs, whole grains are the greatest thing on earth, and protein is bad for your kidneys” (I still hear this in academic circles of dietetics departments). Why is that?

Kurtis: There are a few possible reasons, none of which I can outright prove however, that I think may contribute to this. I’m going to intentionally ignore any possible influence of the USDA or ‘Big agriculture’ mainly because I don’t have a good reason to suspect them and do not want to open that can of worms.  Thankfully, I have seen in my recent training that the hate on protein has gone down a little bit (so perhaps this is a notion held by previous generations) and although the hate on dietary fats has been reduced a little bit it still seems present. Those two ‘hatreds’ may merely be a reason why carbs are so touted, since it seems like everything is going to kill you but carbs are apparently less implicated than the other two.

Additionally, there is a big reliance on epidemiological research in dietetics relative to how much importance (I believe) should be placed on interventions. Admittedly, interventions in diets are hard to do (requiring an overhaul of lifestyle in which lack of adherence is met by poor self-reporting of dietary intake, otherwise doing a clinically controlled study where all food is supplied to the subject is horrendously expensive and likely not feasible) but a lot of evidence and teaching in dietetics relies on this epidemiology. There is indeed evidence that saturated fats and protein are correlated with adverse health effects as they are both survey markers of a subpar diet (those eating more carbs without exceeding calories tend to be health conscious, those who eat more protein and fats tend to be consuming more fast food).

Getting false positives from epidemiology research may underlie the recompensatory recommendation of carbohydrates as the ‘best’ macronutrient, and since past recommendations are in line with this recommendation there isn’t a lot of cognitive dissonance to fight against.

Finally, there is also a seeming lack of accountability that dietitians are held up to. If a client fails, it is very easy for the dietitian to find reasons to either blame the client (bad to do, although it happens with poor adherence) or otherwise can just claim that ‘it must have not worked for you’ before switching to a ‘lifestyle’ approach (merely make the client happy with their dietary intake and hopefully life in general). Some negative reinforcement or fear of giving the wrong information can propel finding the right information, and this seems to lack with dietary interventions in general since you can never really be faulted quantitatively for giving the wrong information.

I mean, if a doctor gives the wrong medication and it hurts a client that doctor is held accountable and they them self probably feel horrible for doing so. If a dietitian gives the wrong information, you cannot really prove that on a case by case basis due to the lack of controlling variables and as such cannot blame the dietitian. If you’re not apparently doing anything wrong, why change your ways?

SNI:  What are your long-term goals with Examine.com?

Kurtis:  Personally, I want the database to be as large as possible and as popular as possible so we can take the largest body of applicable evidence and then apply a hefty serving of harmonization and Occam’s Razor to it. Having a database is a magnitude better than having a blogroll or a news feed which disregards past evidence to cater to an ADHD mentality, but the only downside of a database is that we can get too complex pretty quickly.

My long term goal is to make Examine the largest database of supplemental information that is both accurate and digestible.

Then, from there, the large amount of data can be compared against itself to compare one supplement to another and find relative weaknesses with them (ie. do a search in Examine on phytoestrogens and rank their relative potencies, see which ones are found in serum after ingestion, see which ones are actually a concern and not relative to one another). When the database gets large enough, it can begin to be used by researchers to guide hypothesis’ and some trials and hopefully some better information gets discovered because of it.

If financial success ever occurs, I would love to give most of it right back to research; particularly on some topics where there is a single factor causing a hole in the data and its investigation could harmonize the data (ie. the molecule you eat in a supplement is not detected in serum or in urine but there are apparent bioactivities; what is the metabolite causing these effects?)

Sol: To replace Wikipedia as the standard when people link to supplements. Down the road I would love for us to also contribute to the scientific literature (and more than just via meta studies), but right now, I want us to be *the* juggernaut of supplements. I would also love if more people contributed. The system is setup so that anyone can participate in three ways:

-They can submit studies directly to us: http://examine.com/contribute/study/ – if you see something new and/or interesting, send it our way. The less time we have to spend looking for new papers, the better!

-Discussion. Every supplement has a “discussion” page – if something needs to be clarified, or if something is wrong, or if something is missing, let us know. All discussions are kept public so it can be enlightening for everyone

-Contribute directly. Every supplement can be directly contributed to. All edits will be approved via us before going live, but each supplement page keeps historical records for every version ever published (similar to Wikipedia). We’ve had updates, but we would love more.

If I go to the ISSN conference in CO and I hear someone tell someone else “Just Examine It” I will be as happy as a school girl around Bieber (and if that analogy is off, damn do I feel old now).

SNI:  Ginger or Mary Ann (if this reference escapes you, I forgive you;-)

Kurtis: Thanks for forgiving me in advance, I don’t get this reference.

Sol: Do we look old? Sheesh!

As an immigrant (I moved to Canada when I was 14), I had to do with TV that was usually 10-25 years behind the curve. So I get the Gilligan’s Island reference. On the other hand, I was too young to really understand the personalities.  Doesn’t really matter – I’m a redhead man myself, so Ginger wins by a mile.

SNI:  Clearly, you date Ginger but you marry Mary Ann :-)

SNI:  If you could be a superhero, who would it be and why? I’m partial to the Green Lantern myself :-)

Kurtis: Ironman. The general idea of being an otherwise normal human but elevating yourself to superhero status via your intellect and creations really hot902040-ironman-mar-17-heart-breakerappeals to me, and I like Ironman more than Batman in part due to the suit used (Iron shooting from its palms versus punching people in armored spandex) and the general disposition of the characters. I would rather simply have people aware of who I am and be self sufficient rather than hide in a mansion with a butler away from the eye of the public.  Robert Downey Junior may also have had an influence on this decision.

Wolverine-Yellow_and_Blue-iOSSol: I’ve always identified with Wolverine. Short, hairy, Canadian, believes he is the best at what he does. True story: when I was figuring out what to change my name to (I legally changed my full name), “Logan” was on the shortlist!



BIOs – Kurtis Frank graduated from the University of Guelph with a bachelor’s degree in Applied Human Nutrition. His research work on Examine.com began while still a student, and upon graduation in spring of 2012, gathering and analyzing research on supplementation and nutrition became his fulltime job.  A recreational bodybuilder and powerlifter, Kurtis has a passion for dietary supplements due to a desire to harmonize the discord between the preventative and rehabilitative potential of some dietary supplements and the seemingly lack of interest of the medical community in incorporating dietary supplements in to preventative medicine. As an addendum to this, a great many supplements with inefficacy or insufficient data need to be purged before the diamonds in the rough can be exposed.

Sol Orwell has a different story than most. Dabbling in web development while still in high school, he found he had a knack for building websites that were both useful and popular. He incorporated his first business while still studying computer engineering at the University of Toronto.  In his mid-20s, he opted to “retire”, freeing up time to do what he wanted, whenever he wanted. Transforming from fat to fit, he began to investigate the whys and hows behind nutrition, health, and fitness. It was this research that lead to Examine.com, the culmination of thousands of hours of research into anatomy and nutrition.


Tis the Season to Avoid Excuses

holiday-eatingAs the holidays approach us it is inevitable to believe that avoiding pumpkin pie and social gatherings is a likely option. Tis the season, as they say, to eat like crap and completely abandon our fitness goals. “I’m too busy,” “I spent too much on the holidays to invest in my health,” and “I’ll wait until the New Years to exercise” have become the go-to hackneyed gestures. Just as quickly as one pulls out the credit card for a Black Friday transaction these same people pull out similar excuses.

Excuses no more!

1) “Paradigm shifting:” Since the holidays are a time of social gluttonistic gatherings, shortened days and indoor recumbent “exercise” (sitting) I encounter my clients always telling me that they don’t have time to exercise. Plain and simple. To combat lethargy and excessive weight gain one should focus on a paradigm switch from “I need to exercise AT LEAST 2-3 times a week” to “I’ll exercise only two, maybe three times a week.” By simply changing the mindset from perceiving winter fitness as meeting a requirement to simply as a privilege the stress induced from missing workouts isn’t as damaging. Also, it gives the exerciser more autonomy in WHEN and HOW their workouts come about. This allows for more freedom of training without feeling so committed to exercising as a means of holiday damage control. I find that clients are more likely to exercise on their own when they don’t feel so obligated.

2) “Tis the season to maintain:” To those who don’t have time to exercise 4+ times a week — stop worrying about getting in so many workouts. The last thing we want from our clients is for them to feel so pyschologically blemished from missing a workout or two. Instead, focus on maintaining throughout the winter. This is the perfect time of year to be efficient with your workouts by breaking down your training into two, maybe three sessions a week for under 60 minutes. Allow the clients more freedom in how they spend their holidays; plus, it serves as a way to teach them time efficiency with exercise along with allowing them flexibility. This is when I often advise my clients to experiment with different styles of training or coach them to break their workouts into upper/lower splits composed of supersets with a mixture of HIT. Besides, when they only have to train 2-3 days tops, they don’t feel married to training.

3) “Just say no…..or nah, I’m good:” One of the problems many of us face during the holiday times is being pressured to eat those sugary, taste-so-darn good goodies. Yes, I absolutely love cookies and pie, but it’s perfectly fine to decline ingesting more than I should even when the host of a holiday shindig offers. Remember, when party hosts ask you to try their cookies it’s simply because they are being polite (or have an ulterior motive mwahahah!). Next time you’re at a holiday get-together and they implore you to gorge simply say, “man, those sure do look tasty, but I’m already stuffed on all of the other stuff you have! (optional: insert laughter) ” or “I’m definitely getting some of this to-go.” Both work and yet you don’t come off as a dietary elitist. It’s not necessary to elaborate beyond this as you have made it clear that you appreciate their kitchen endeavors. It also puts off the vibe that you have already liberated yourself to the snack tray (even though we all know you didn’t, but that’s our secret).


Justin Groce has been a personal trainer and strength & conditioning professional for over five years servicing middle Tennessee. He is a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist (with distinction) from the National Strength and Conditioning Association (CSCS*D – NSCA), a Certified Personal Trainer from the American College of Sports Medicine (CPT – ACSM), a Certified Sports Nutritionist from the International Society of Sports Nutrition (CISSN – ISSN), holds a master’s degree in education and a bachelor’s degree in health and human performance.

Justin is the current owner/operator of www.JustinGroce.comwhich educates on nutrition, recipes, supplementation and exercise training protocols.

He has a 2nd degree black belt in Tae Kwon Do, a 2nd degree black belt in Tang Soo Do and a 2nd degree black belt in Shorin-Ryu. Additionally, he enjoys coaching clients with their nutrition and strength training programs to maximize performance.

5 Game Changing Off-Season Nutrition Tips

“Tis the season to be Jolly”…You all have heard this Xmas song right? Well, we say “Tis the season to be BULKY,” except you won’t be eating all those damn cookies like Santa did and you’ll have a lot more muscle mass.  

As we begin to get into off season mode, it is a time of excitement, more food, more carbs, we don’t have to worry about having shredded abs at pool parties or at beaches, we get to eat like a lineman, have some brewskis with the fellas, cut down cardio or cut it out completely, lift heavy ass weights, wear warm clothes, and enhance our physiques basically anywhere from 4-24 months depending on your own personal goals.

Though a lot of people will think bulking season is as simple as just eating a shit load of food and lifting heavy weights, it’s just not that simple folks, and if you need more info on how to do it the right way then read this ultimate muscle mass gaining guide that we wrote.

In this article we will give you 5 game changing nutrition tips for your off season that’ll help you and especially deep into off season. We promise you will try one of these tips and then thank us later. Alright, back straight, shoulders square, neck neutral, note pad out, protein shake by your side…Let’s do it!

1.      Shakes Over Solid Meals

I know a lot of you have heard that solid meals are better than shakes and vice versa, we get it, we’ve heard this too. So we wanted to know the real answer ourselves and we came across an interesting study in the International Journal of Sports Nutrition and Exercise Metabolism that showed consuming a liquid meal in the form of shakes resulted in an increased thermic effect of food (thermogenisis) compared with a solid meal (bars).


Now, there are obviously some limitations in this study, there’s not much data on this subject, and we’re not going to go as far as saying that shakes are better than solid meals and vice versa. But, the results are very interesting here and the most likely explanation for an increased thermic effect of food from a liquid meal is the fact that liquids empty from the stomach faster than solids and therefore would be expected to be absorbed more quickly.

Keep in mind that if you decide to have shakes, your satiety levels (feeling full) will not be as high as opposed to solid meals. We know from anecdotal evidence from ourselves and working with clients, that having shakes over solid meals has the same outcomes as having solid meals over shakes, it’s more of a personal preference thing and lifestyle suit in our opinions.

But, we will tell you one thing, we know that when you are deep into off season and your calories are high and macros are up, it is a pain in the ass getting in solid foods. This is where shakes will make your life that much easier.

Take Home: If someone says the body burns more calories breaking down solid foods or solid foods give you better results, it’s flat out false because research shows that shakes have a greater thermogenic response. But just because it has a higher thermogenic response does not make it the end all, be all. Try incorporating shakes into your nutrition program, especially deep into off season when your calories and macros are high. At the end of the day, do what works best for you, whether that’s eating solid foods or having shakes.

2.      Keeping anabolism elevated throughout the night

Now a lot of you are probably thinking how do I keep anabolism elevated throughout the night? I’m knocked out, getting my 8 hours. Well, new research by Van Loon et al. has proven that overnight protein administration stimulates muscle protein synthesis. There were two studies done, the first being in elderly men and the second being done in recreationally active young males and they both showed that protein ingestion prior to sleep stimulated muscle protein synthesis overnight.

Even though there are basically only two studies for this, it still proves that protein ingested immediately prior to sleep or during sleep is effectively digested and absorbed, therefore stimulating muscle protein synthesis overnight. It’s very fascinating and promising research so we highly recommend some sort of high quality protein source before bed or during the middle of the night when you have to let Niagara Falls pour out.

Just think about it, your body will be entering a 6-9 hour fast and why not have a steady stream of amino acids flowing in the bloodstream overnight and keeping anabolism elevated.

Another suggestion we recommend is for those that have their calories at very high levels during bulking or deep into offseason and are having trouble consuming all of their macros through their meals during the day, you can simply have a shake in the middle of the night that contains protein, carbs, and fats and this will be an easy way to ingest some of your total daily calories.

Take Home: Try having 20-40g of a high quality protein source before bed or during the middle of the night. If you’re deep into off season and simply can’t get all the calories in throughout the day and through solid food, then whip up a shake that has protein, carbs, and fats before bed and drink it when you wake up and have to go to the bathroom during the middle of the night.    

 3.      Pound an Intra drink during that hard workout

Man, we keep bringing up debatable tips here, but you know what, that’s the beauty of science, it’s open for interpretation and sometimes anecdotal evidence plays to your advantage.

During off season and especially deep into off season, depending on your metabolism and insulin sensitivity your carbs should be in a surplus. Now, we don’t know about you guys, but when you are at 600g of carbs throughout the day like us, that is a ton of food to gorge down. So why not chip away 30-50g of carbs and have it intra workout? 3593998

This comes in handy especially if your workouts run long or maybe you aren’t feeling it that day. What will a little bit of sugar hurt? It won’t hurt nada, it’ll actually help by getting in that extra glucose for energy because your glycogen stores will be replenished and it’ll help you grind through the rest of your workout. We’ve also found that by knowing that we’re going to get that extra 30-50g of glucose, it gives us a mental push as well to finish our workout strong.

Take Home: We recommend consuming 30-50g of a fast acting carbohydrate drink such as a Vitamin Water or Gatorade during your workouts. If all else fails, you still chipped away at your total daily carbs and got some extra energy to finish your workout.

 4.      Have more of your carbs pre and post workout

Yet another good debatable tip here. This is one of our favorites because we feel you get the best bang for your buck here. We feel that by partitioning the majority of your total daily carbohydrates around pre and post workout is a game changer. There are several reasons why we think this, let us bust out our dynamic list for you:

  • You get an increase in insulin sensitivity by working out so you can more effectively tolerate and utilize carbohydrates post workout so it also makes sense to put more carbs post workout as compared to other times of the day.
  • Since insulin sensitivity is also elevated pre workout, it makes sense to get in more carbs to fully top off glycogen stores and have more energy for your workout.
  • Helps with tissue leverage. When your stomach is full, it makes it easier to push your abdominal wall against your weight belt, giving you more stability. Great for squats and deadlifts.
  • Since you are deep into off season and your carbohydrate intake is very high, you might as well make it a bit easier and shave off some of those carbs and have more of them pre and post workout to get the best bang for your buck.

Given these 4 reasons, there’s also an excellent study by Devkota. et al out of Dr. Layman’s lab at the University of Illinois on partitioning carbs closer to your workouts. We know we’ve brought up a debatable tip, but we like the research behind it and we’ll take our chances on this one, especially deep into off season.

Take home: Try partitioning the majority of your carbs around your pre and post workout meal. It doesn’t hurt to try something new.

5.      Don’t  be afraid to eat non-traditional foods

Last but not least, we recommend not being afraid to eat non-traditional foods or should we use the words clean and dirty foods? The clean and dirty words that have no scientific meaning or definition to them, we can’t stand these words because labeling foods as clean or dirty ignores context, and ignoring context is just plain stupid.

We are huge proponents on the diet consisting mostly of whole and minimally refined foods. But still, it’s not all that simple, since certain foods are significantly changed from their original state (i.e., whey protein powder), but still have positive impacts on health.

The point we’re trying to make here is when you are in off season and deep into off season your caloric intake is going to be high and it is going to be very hard to get traditional and whole foods in all the time because simply their caloric value isn’t high and sometimes eating too much low GI and high fiber foods can be counterintuitive when calories are high. So it’s safe to say that it is okay to have some refined and non-traditional foods if your calories are high, so as long as you aren’t abusing this, as long as you’re hitting your macros and fiber numbers for the day, and not gaining too much excess fat in the process.

Take Home: When your calories are high, you are allowed to have some non-traditional foods to meet your daily caloric intake. Trust us this makes off season life that much easier.

Wrapping all this up

Now that we’ve have given you 5 game changing nutrition tips for your off season, just remember that to keep an open mind to trying new things. Just because something doesn’t have research behind it, doesn’t mean it’s useless, because anecdotal evidence can come into play and just because there’s research behind something, it doesn’t mean it’s the end all be all, everything is open to interpretation and should be questioned. These are just tips we have for you and none of these are black and white answers because everything in this game has grey areas. Biggest take home message is to think for yourselves, try it, see if it works for you, work hard at it, and don’t end up looking like Santa after off season! Peace


  • Ratcliff L, Gropper SS, White BD, Shannon DM, Huggins KW. The influence of habitual exercise training and meal form on diet induced thermogenisis in college age men. Int J of Sports Nutrition and Exercise Metabolism. 2011
  • Antonio, Jose et al. “Essentials of sports nutrition and supplements.” 2008
  •  Van Loon et al. “Protein ingestion prior to sleep improves post-exercise overnight recovery.” J ACSM. 2012 Jan.
  • Van Loon et al. “Intragastric protein administration stimulates overnight muscle protein synthesis in elderly men.” Am J Physiol Endocrinol Metab. 2011 Sept.
  •  S Devkota, D K Layman. Increased ratio of dietary carbohydrate to protein shifts the focus of metabolic signaling from skeletal muscle to adipose. J Nutri and Metab. 2011.
  • Joanne F. Dorgan; Joseph T. Judd; Christopher Longcope; Charles Brown; Arthur Schatzkin; Beverly A. Clevidence; William S. Campbell; Padmanabhan P. Nair; Charlene Franz; Lisa Kahle; Philip R. Taylor. “Effects of dietary fat and fiber on plasma and urine androgens and estrogens in men: a controlled feeding study.” American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, Dec 1996.
  • Haff GG, Lehmkuhl MJ, McCoy LB, Stone MH. “Carbohydrate supplementation and resistance training.” J Strength Cond Res 2003 Feb;17(1):187-96
  • Schliess F, Haussinger D. “Cell volume and insulin signaling.” Int Rev Cytol 2003;225:187-228
  • Wilson, Jacob. Pre-contest week- An in depth analysis- http://abcbodybuilding.com/precontestweek.pdf.

Chris Martinez, BA, CISSN, CPT



Interview with Nutrition Expert Darcy Johannsen PhD

SNI:  It is commonly heard among fitness professionals (i.e. personal trainers) that overweight or fat individuals complain of having a ‘slow metabolism.’ How often is a ‘slow metabolism’ (e.g. thyroid dysfunction, nervous system disorders) to blame for being overweight versus merely eating too much and moving too little?Girl-dieting

Darcy: Studies show that individuals who are overweight or obese have a higher resting metabolic rate than normal weight individuals, due to the increased energy costs of supporting the basal functions of a larger body mass.  Once normalized for body weight however, there are usually no differences in metabolic rate between lean and obese people.  That being said, a study done in a population of Pima Indians in the late 1980’s showed that a lower 24-hour expenditure (measured in a metabolic chamber) significantly predicted weight gain over the next 2 years, and furthermore 24-hr energy expenditure tended to be similar among siblings.  Whether this is true for a larger population is unknown, as metabolic rate is not usually measured prior to becoming obese.  The similarity in metabolism among siblings does suggest a genetic influence on resting metabolic rate.  There is also some evidence for subclinical hypothyroidism in obese individuals that may be contributing to weight gain and this is a current area of research interest.  However, restricting calories and moving more can overcome these pre-dispositions; i.e., the effects of a healthy lifestyle are stronger than the genetic influences.

SNI: In your paper published in JCEM, you discovered that despite the preservation of fat-free mass in severely obese people, exercise did NOT prevent the dramatic drop in metabolic rate after severe weight loss. Why is that? We’ve been told that if you preserve muscle or LBM, that metabolic rate should stay high.

Darcy: We were surprised by this finding as well.  We thought that since these individuals maintained a lot of their lean mass, their metabolic rate would stay higher.  But it fell dramatically, despite the lean mass maintenance.  This is probably due to the enormity of the weight loss and the rapid rate at which it occurred.  The body ‘adapted’ to try to conserve energy.  For example, we found that T3 (the active thyroid hormone) levels were significantly reduced, as was leptin.  These hormonal changes would cause the muscle to conserve energy.  Although we did not measure it, I suspect that mitochondrial activity within the muscle became much more efficient as well.  In other words, muscle metabolism probably slowed along with the weight loss.

SNI:  In a younger population (18-40 years of age), does a gain in muscle or LBM result in an increase in metabolic rate? If so, how much? For instance, does a 5 pound gain in LBM translate into a specific increase in metabolic rate?

Darcy: Yes, theoretically with all other things being the same, a gain in lean mass would cause an increase in metabolic rate.  The amount of increase would depend on the amount of muscle gained.  It is difficult to tease out just the contribution of skeletal muscle to metabolic rate, because the human body is so dynamic – other lean masses are changing too (internal organs, which have a MUCH higher metabolic rate than muscle).  Likewise, if fat mass is lost, metabolic rate will drop some, and if a lot of muscle is gained, there is probably some increase in fat too.  To answer your last question, you would have to ensure that ONLY skeletal muscle was changing – no fluid changes, no loss or gain of fat mass, and no change in organ function, and still an exact number would be impossible, as mitochondrial activity and muscle metabolism is highly variable among individuals. 

SNI: What advice would you give to someone 50 years of age and older with regards to maintaining a lean physique? 9e6b966e44acb38dc78f1aee0350

Darcy: First, I would advise them to carefully watch their diet in order to maintain a healthy body weight.  Metabolism naturally slows with aging (although we are not sure why) and it is more difficult to lose weight once your metabolism slows.  Restrict calories if some weight loss is needed.  Then, adding an exercise regimen is important.  Not particularly for weight loss, but to maintain a healthy weight and also to maintain muscle mass, which we know declines with aging.

SNI: What effect does weight cycling (i.e. repeated weight gain/weight loss) on body composition, metabolic rate, and health?

Darcy: Weight cycling can be very detrimental to one’s health.  Many adaptations occur during weight loss.  Fat mass is reduced but so is lean muscle mass.  Metabolic rate drops.  Hormone concentrations change.  All of the changes occur in effort to conserve energy, a very important process during times when energy (food) was scarce.  There is recent evidence that suggests that these adaptations persist beyond the immediate weight loss phase, that is, you do not come back to ‘baseline’.  This increases the risk for weight re-gain, and unfortunately, the same adaptive responses are not as strong during weight gain.  In other words, your body does not defend against weight gain like it does for weight loss.  After the weight re-gain, it is probably more difficult to get the weight off because your metabolism did not completely return to normal after the initial weight loss, and you would likely have to restrict calories even more or add extra exercise in order to create the necessary energy deficit.

About Dr. Darcy Johannsen

I completed my Bachelor’s and Master’s of Science degrees in Human Nutrition from South Dakota State University. I completed a clinical dietetics internship at Hurley Medical Center in Flint, MI. I then worked as a clinical dietitian for several years before obtaining my PhD in Nutritional Sciences from Iowa State University. For my dissertation work I studied protein metabolism in elderly subjects and also investigated postural allocation and components of energy expenditure in lean and obese women. I then went on to do a postdoctoral fellowship under the guidance of Dr. Eric Ravussin, where I focused on energy metabolism in aging and obesity. Currently I am an Assistant Professor of Skeletal Muscle Physiology. My studies center on how mitochondrial function changes with weight gain or loss and during aging, and how these changes influence energy metabolism.

Cheating on a diet – good or bad?

By Monica Mollica. In discussions about dieting, a topic that often comes up is that of “cheating”; is it good or bad to cheat once in a while during a diet?

In order to answer this question appropriately, it is necessary to look at both the quantitative and qualitative aspects of dieting, and the physiological and psychological responses they each elicit.

Dieting – what are we really talking about?

The dictionary definition of “diet” and “dieting” is “to eat and drink sparingly or according to prescribed rules” or “a controlled intake of foods, as for medical reasons or cosmetic weight loss”.

However, these definitions do not tell us anything about the two different aspects of dieting; the quantitative and qualitative parts, and their respective consequences.  In everyday parlance, dieting usually implies both eating less calories (quantitative aspect) than usual and eating “specific” foods (qualitative aspect).

Nevertheless, when considering the consequences of “cheating” (more formally known as dieting consistency / inconsistency) and trying to answer the question whether it is a good or bad practice, it is important to distinguish these aspects of dieting. Let’s take a quick look at each:

Calorie restriction

Calorie restriction (also known as dietary restriction). When reducing calories our bodies respond by lowering basal metabolic rate, and there also is reduction is spontaneous physical activity. If the calorie restriction is severe enough, our bodies go into starvation mode, which will counteract any fat loss efforts 1,2.

Specific food restriction

A diet usually has an explicit (or implicit) list of foods that it recommends. Eating specific foods has a more psychological impact than calorie restriction per see, especially if you don’t like the foods that are part of your diet plan.

The different types of “cheating”cheating-diet2

Now back to the issue of cheating. Looking at calorie restriction and specific food restriction separately, you see that that you can cheat in three different ways:

– eating more calories from the same “dieting foods”  (quantitative cheating)

– eating non-dieting “forbidden” foods, but still within your daily calorie allotment

(quantitative cheating)

– eating non-dieting “forbidden” foods, and exceeding your daily calorie allotment

(double whammy cheating!)

Dieting consistency is not yo-yo dieting!

Before we continue I want to make clear that this discussion on diet cheating (dieting consistency) should not be confused with yo-yo dieting (also called weight cycling; when one is repeatedly losing and regaining weight). Yo-yo dieting definitely has detrimental effects, especially psychologically 3,4.

Dieting consistency in this context is about maintaining the same diet regimen on weekends as on weekdays. For many people, diet and activity patterns differ substantially on weekends as compared to weekdays, with potential consequences on long term body fat weight that could promote the development or maintenance of excess fat storage and obesity if the pattern is repeated throughout the year.

Possible benefits and risk with cheating on a diet?

Allowing some diet flexibility on weekends, holidays, and vacations might reduce boredom, which is a known contributor to dieting lapses 5, and be more realistic from a long-term perspective. However, flexibility might also increase exposure to high-risk situations, a the chance for loss of control. This is especially true among people with addictive personalities 6.

What does the research say?

While it is well documented that holidays are associated with fat gain 7-9 it wasn’t until recently that studies started to investigate the influence of weekend eating patterns on short- and long-term body fat weight. The first study on weekend eating patterns was done on National Weight Control Registry subjects, who had successfully maintained a weight loss of at least 13.6 kg for 8 years 10. The purpose of the study was to examine whether maintaining the same diet regimen across the week and year promotes weight control or if dieting more strictly on weekdays and/or non-holidays is more conducive to long-term maintenance. Participants who reported greater dieting consistency were more likely to maintain their weight within 2.3 kg during the subsequent year, whereas participants with lower dieting consistency scores were more likely to regain weight during the subsequent year 10. A more recent study, where subjects consumed on average 236 calories more on weekend days, confirmed that weekend dietary indulgences contribute to weight gain or cessation of weight loss 11.

It has also been documented that as the duration of a diet increases, a shift in the balance between the effort and pleasure of weight maintenance may occur, which makes it easier to stick to the diet and thereby increases the likelihood of continued maintenance 12. This is supported by findings showing that repeated exposure trains flavor preference 13. In other words, a strong correlation exists between a person’s customary intake of a flavor and his preference for that flavor.

Bottom Line

Whether cheating on a diet (that is, a low diet consistency) will cause you any harm or good depends on your personal inclinations, and the reasons for the cheating.

From a biological perspective, I believe quantitative cheating, when you eat more calories from the same “dieting foods”, can be a good thing, since it can prevent lowering your resting metabolic rate and drops in spontaneous physical activity.

When it comes to the other types of  cheating, the consequences are more of a psychological origin. If you have an addictive personality, do not even think about cheating. Remember, the best cure for any addiction is complete abstinence.

If you don’t have an addictive personality, but have a lot of fat to loose, it is ok for you to engage in quantitative or qualitative cheating on weekends, when you eat non-dieting “forbidden” foods, but still within your daily calorie allotment. But only do this if you feel that it helps you stay on track with your diet during the week days.

If you don’t have much fat to loose, and are just dieting to get in a little better shape, you can indulge  in double whammy cheating, when you eat non-dieting “forbidden” foods AND exceed your daily calorie allotment. Just don’t go too much overboard; your body and mind will still take note of what you’re doing.

In any case, the reason for you to cheat on a diet should be that it helps you to stick to in the long run. Not because other people coerce you into it or are trying to make you believe that you “have to” cheat on your diet to get results. That’s nonsense you often hear from folks who don’t have the willpower and discipline themselves. It has actually been shown that friends have an even larger impact on a person’s risk of obesity than genes do 14. So don’t fall for the peer-pressure and never engage in risky behaviors because your friends do!

My advice to you is to be your own scientist and lab rat; try and see how you feel. If you lose control you know cheating on a diet is not for you, and you better put your foot down and stick to your guns. However, a slip doesn’t have to mean failure; turn the experience you gain from it into good data to guide your for future dietary decisions and long-term success!


1.         Maclean PS, Bergouignan A, Cornier MA, Jackman MR. Biology’s response to dieting: the impetus for weight regain. American journal of physiology. Regulatory, integrative and comparative physiology. Sep 2011;301(3):R581-600.

2.         Goran MI, Calles-Escandon J, Poehlman ET, O’Connell M, Danforth E, Jr. Effects of increased energy intake and/or physical activity on energy expenditure in young healthy men. J Appl Physiol. Jul 1994;77(1):366-372.

3.         Osborn RL, Forys KL, Psota TL, Sbrocco T. Yo-yo dieting in African American women: weight cycling and health. Ethnicity & disease. Summer 2011;21(3):274-280.

4.         Amigo I, Fernandez C. Effects of diets and their role in weight control. Psychology, health & medicine. May 2007;12(3):321-327.

5.         Smith CF, Burke LE, Wing RR. Vegetarian and weight-loss diets among young adults. Obesity research. Mar 2000;8(2):123-129.

6.         Avena NM, Rada P, Hoebel BG. Sugar and fat bingeing have notable differences in addictive-like behavior. The Journal of nutrition. Mar 2009;139(3):623-628.

7.         Hull HR, Radley D, Dinger MK, Fields DA. The effect of the Thanksgiving holiday on weight gain. Nutrition journal. 2006;5:29.

8.         Klesges RC, Klem ML, Bene CR. Effects of dietary restraint, obesity, and gender on holiday eating behavior and weight gain. Journal of abnormal psychology. Nov 1989;98(4):499-503.

9.         Yanovski JA, Yanovski SZ, Sovik KN, Nguyen TT, O’Neil PM, Sebring NG. A prospective study of holiday weight gain. The New England journal of medicine. Mar 23 2000;342(12):861-867.

10.      Gorin AA, Phelan S, Wing RR, Hill JO. Promoting long-term weight control: does dieting consistency matter? International journal of obesity and related metabolic disorders : journal of the International Association for the Study of Obesity. Feb 2004;28(2):278-281.

11.      Racette SB, Weiss EP, Schechtman KB, et al. Influence of weekend lifestyle patterns on body weight. Obesity (Silver Spring). Aug 2008;16(8):1826-1830.

12.      Klem ML, Wing RR, Lang W, McGuire MT, Hill JO. Does weight loss maintenance become easier over time? Obesity research. Sep 2000;8(6):438-444.

13.      Liem DG, de Graaf C. Sweet and sour preferences in young children and adults: role of repeated exposure. Physiology & behavior. Dec 15 2004;83(3):421-429.

14.      Christakis NA, Fowler JH. The spread of obesity in a large social network over 32 years. The New England journal of medicine. Jul 26 2007;357(4):370-379.


About the Author

Monica Mollica

Health Journalist, Nutrition / Diet Consultant & Personal Trainer

BSc and MSc in Nutrition from the University of Stockholm

ISSA Certified Personal Trainer

Website:   www.trainergize.com

Email:   monica@trainergize.com