Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Memorial Weekend drinking & cheating

Memorial weekend drinking leads to cheating :(

If you've been following along with my blog, you know that I have scheduled cheat days every 14 days and I'm usually very good about eating very strict until those scheduled cheat days.

Unfortunately, this past Saturday a little too much drinking lead to me cheating the next day trying to recover from the hangover. 

I know I really shouldn't be drinking too much if at all while dieting but there are ways to still enjoy alcohol while losing fat as written by Martin Berkhan of Leangains, in his article The truth about alcohol, fat loss, and muscle growth

That morning, me and my girlfriend has just finished at the gym and were laying on the beach tanning and getting some Vitamin D :) My girlfriend gets a text saying her friends were getting together to hang out. 

She gets a text later that they were also planning on going out to Myth nightclub that night as well. I knew my girlfriend wanted to hang out and be social since its been a while so I told her we could go if she wanted to.

So that night, we were pregaming and I started out having a couple shots maybe about 4 or 5. When we get to the club, me and my girlfriend get long island iced teas that were made extra strong (This was my mistake right here...there was too much gin in there and my body doesn't handle gin well). I think I probably had another 1 to 2 shots after that but I definitely should not have as that long island iced tea had me feeling pretty bad already.

I am normally pretty good at not drinking too much and I thought I was fine until we got into the car on the ride home. This was when I felt like throwing up and held it in until we got home. We get home and I go straight to the bathroom and throw up the dinner I had. After I throw up, I go straight to the couch and pass out.

Me and my girlfriend wake up around 8:30 AM and drive home while I am still feeling very hungover. When we get home I go straight to bed and sleep until 12:30 PM. I feel a little better but still terrible. 

This terrible feeling leads to me agreeing with my girlfriend about getting Pho to cure my hangover. If you don't know what Pho, its a delicious Vietnamese beef noodle soup that is great for those morning after club nights. Being at the restaurant and hungover leads to me eating not only the pho, but some summer rolls and fried chicken wings too. 

Then after we eat pho, we go to a Vietnamese deli to get Vietnamese hoagies! This was the hungover me taking over! 

We get home and eat our hoagies and finish a whole container of Mint Cow Tracks ice cream...horrible.

I know this is going to sound like I'm making excuses but I know this wouldn't have happened had I not drunk to the point of throwing up. If I didn't feel so terrible I wouldn't have felt like needing more nutrients to help my body recover. I've learned my lesson...Don't drink too much when dieting!

Have you had any similar drinking and cheating experiences?

Saturday, May 28, 2011

12 Week Body Transformation continued - Training

How I worked out during my 12 week body transformation

I decided that heavy weight training was going to be a priority for me during this transformation as I wanted to maintain as much muscle as possible. I've dieted before where I didn't lift as heavy and ended up losing too much muscle mass and strength. I was going to do my best to not let that happen this time around.

Weight Training
During the 12 weeks of my body transformation, I alternated full body heavy days with full body medium days. 

It wasn't quite an every other day alternation as I wanted more heavy days so I used a MWF (Monday, Wednesday, Friday) split where Mondays and Fridays were heavy days and Wednesdays were reserved for medium days. I would sometimes switch this to Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday as well depending on my what else was going on during the week.
Weighted Pullups are awesome

My heavy days were where I worked with a weight that I could do anywhere from 3-6 reps. Medium days consisted of weights where I could get between 8-12 reps. 

My days off from weight training were reserved for either cardio or rest depending on how I felt. Although, I normally felt great during my body transformation so most of those days ended up being cardio days :)

I made sure to keep my cardio very low intensity so that I my body would not break down any muscle for fuel. By low intensity, I mean doing some easy incline treadmill walking or the elliptical where my heart rate was kept anywhere between 110 - 130 beats per minute. 
Cardio gets hot

An easy way for me to make sure the intensity wasn't too high was if I could breathe through my nose and not my mouth. My cardio session would range from 30 minutes, gradually working up to an hour over the course of my transformation.

Intra-Workout Drink
To further insure that I avoided any muscle catabolism, I also sipped on a BCAA/Creatine drink mixed in 24 oz of water during my cardio. 

I also sipped on this drink mixture during my weight workouts as well to avoid too much muscle breakdown. The BCAA drink I used was Scivation Xtend, arguably the most popular BCAA product on the market. I felt drinking the BCAA's and creatine really did help in maintaining muscle and even increasing my strength during a caloric deficit.

Below is an example week of workouts.
Format is Set # - Weight used x # of reps

Monday - Heavy workout
Pendlay Rows (Bent over barbell rows from the floor)
Set 1 - 215 x 5
Set 2 - 225 x 5
Set 3 - 225 x 5
Set 4 - 230 x 4
Set 5 - 230 x 4

Front Barbell Squat
Set 1 - 205 x 5
Set 2 - 215 x 5
Set 3 - 220 x 5
Set 4 - 220 x 5
Set 5 - 220 x 5

Weighted Dips
Set 1 - 145 x 5
Set 2 - 145 x 5 
Set 3 - 145 x 5
Set 4 - 145 x 5
Set 5 - 145 x 5

Dumbbell Push Press
Set 1 - 85 x 5
Set 2 - 85 x 5
Set 3 - 85 x 5
Set 4 - 85 x 5
Set 5 - 85 x 5

Ab Roller (standing on feet)
Set 1 - 8 reps
Set 2 - 8 reps
Set 3 - 6 reps

Tuesday - Cardio or Rest
30 - 60 minutes incline treadmill walking

Wednesday - Medium Workout
V-Bar Pulldown
Set 1 - 230 x 10
Set 2 - 230 x 9
Set 3 - 235 x 8
Set 4 - 235 x 7
Set 5 - 220 x 10

Standing Cable Chest Press
Set 1 - 95 x 12
Set 2 - 95 x 12
Set 3 - 100 x 10
Set 4 - 105 x 8
Set 5 - 105 x 8

Two Arm Dumbbell Preacher Curl
Set 1 - 40 x 8
Set 2 - 35 x 11
Set 3 - 35 x 8
Set 4 - 30 x 13
Set 5 - 30 x 10

Single Leg Romanian Deadlift
Set 1 - 45 x 10
Set 2 - 45 x 10
Set 3 - 50 x 10
Set 4 - 50 x 10

Weighted Decline Crunch
Set 1 - 50 x 8
Set 2 - 50 x 8
Set 3 - 50 x 8

Thursday - Cardio or Rest
30 - 60 minutes incline treadmill walking

Friday - Heavy Workout
Repeat Monday Workout

Saturday - Cardio or Rest
Sunday - Cardio or Rest

I generally felt great throughout my transformation and never felt burnt out from lack of calories or working out too much. 

I also actually went on two vacations during the 12 week period, one to New Orleans and the other to Puerto Rico. I didn't workout or watch my diet at all during these vacations but still made great progress with the combination of my workouts and diet :)

More information on the diet I followed will be posted in a future blog entry.

12 Week Body Transformation - Intro

12 Week Body Transformation continued - Cheat Days

Important Key Points to My Body Transformation

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Important Key Points To My Body Transformation

Jan 31st 2011 -April 2th, 2011

Important Key Points To My Body Transformation

1. Calories matter

This is the number one most important thing when it comes to dieting: You have to reduce your calorie intake to less than what your body uses in order to lose weight! You can do cardio until you pass out but you still won't lose weight if you're eating 3,000 calories when your body is only burning 2,500 a day. 

I've heard people say that they hardly eat anything and exercise everyday yet they still can't lose weight or keep gaining weight. I say this is crap and the fat on your body is not being made out of thin air. At least in the beginning of a diet, you have to count calories in order to know exactly what you are taking in and how to adjust to make progress.

2. Lift heavy

A common misconception is that in order to get "cut up", you need to lift lighter weight for higher reps to "tone" the muscles. This misconception really needs to get trashed because the only thing it will lead to is a smaller, weaker version of your current self. 

Since it will be very difficult to build muscle while on a caloric deficit, the main objective of lifting weights during a diet is to maintain the muscle you currently have. 

This requires that you attempt to lift just as heavy as when you were trying to pack on muscle. Now being that you are in a caloric deficit, the volume of sets/reps/exercises you do will need to be lowered, but the intensity should be just as high.

During my transformation, I alternated heavy days of a 5x5 routine with medium days where the rep range would be between 8-12 reps per set. Doing this actually allowed me to get stronger during the 5x5 heavy days!

3. Take it easy with the cardio

Another mistake people generally make when they cut is that they do something like an hour of high intensity cardio after their hour long weight session. I'm referring to high intensity as any type of cardio where you need to open your mouth to breathe or pant. On a calorie restricted diet, this easily leads to muscle loss which also will turn you into a smaller, weaker version of your current self. 

I used to do the higher intensity cardio while dieting myself and found that it lead to muscle loss and loss of strength as well. This is not what we want when transforming our bodies. We want to hold on to as much of the hard earned muscle mass we built as possible.

During my transformation, I stuck to doing low intensity incline treadmill walking or the elliptical. By low intensity, I mean keeping my heart rate between 110 - 130 beats per minute. Or a simple way I monitored this was to just make sure I was able to breathe through my nose and not my mouth. It should be fairly easy, non panting cardio.

4. Progress slowly

Another key to retaining retaining muscle mass is to slowly progress on the diet and cardio. If you start a diet by immediately cutting your calories down to 1,000 a day and doing 1 hr of cardio everyday, you're going lose a lot of muscle fast and hit a plateau just as quickly. When you hit the plateau, you have no room for adjustments since you're already only eating 1,000 calories and doing a ton of cardio. 

By reducing calories by a reasonable number and adding in some cardio slowly over time, this allows the body to slowly burn the fat while retaining the maximum amount of muscle. You should start off on a calorie deficit of about 500 calories a day. Then maybe after two to four weeks depending on how you feel and the results you're getting, add in 30 minutes of low intensity cardio every other day. Then maybe after another two to four weeks reduce calories further or lengthen your cardio sessions. You get the point...It's all about slowly progressing so that you can make adjustments along the way if needed to get the desired results.

5. Supplements can help

There's some debate on whether supplements actually help or are even effective and do what they are supposed to do. In my experience throughout the years and during my transformation, I feel they definitely do improve results. I'm not going to go into the science of these supplements here but will list what they are intended for and what effects I felt from them. Here are some of the important ones I used during the transformation:

a. BCAA's (Branched Chain Amino Acids) - I take these during my weightlifting sessions and cardio sessions to help preserve muscle. BCAA's don't need to be broken down by the liver so are absorbed directly into the bloodstream. These activate the body's signals to increase protein synthesis and decrease muscle breakdown. The specific one I used was Scivation's Xtend which is arguably the most popular BCAA product on the market.

b. Fatburner/Thermogenic - These are used to sustain energy levels, decrease hunger, and increase metabolism. My favorite one is OxyElite Pro by USP LabsI've tried many others but this has been my favorite one and the one I stick to now. 

c. Creatine - This is also another supplement which is meant to help preserve muscle and strength during a diet. Creatine can also lead to more intense workouts which in turn can burn more calories and preserve muscle. Any standard Creatine Monohydrate product will do.

d. Testosterone Booster - The one I used during my transformation is called Free Test by Applied Nutriceuticals. This product is intended to increase testosterone, decrease estrogen, and control cortisol levels. All of this together will lead to more muscle preservation and strength and less fat. I felt I had great results with this product and would use it again. I normally don't gain strength on a diet, but with this product I did!

So to summarize: Eat less, lift like a man, take it easy on your heart, pace yourself, and take your supplements :)

12 Week Body Transformation - Intro

12 Week Body Transformation continued - Cheat Days

Monday, May 23, 2011

12 Week Body Transformation continued - Cheat Days

One of the strategies I used during my 12 week transformation was the use of cheat days. Cheat days are basically a day where you take a break from your diet and eat whatever you are craving or were craving while dieting. The primary function of cheat days was to allow for a psychological break from strict dieting and also as a reward for strict dieting. There are also supposedly physiological benefits as well such as boosting leptin and increasing metabolism. I'm not sure how true this is or how much the physiological benefits help fat loss, but I know the psychological benefits definitely made dieting easier.

I scheduled cheat days every 14 days, which I felt was a good time period between cheat days for me. Every 7 days would have been too short as I've done it this way before and progress was very slow, sometimes almost none at all as I might have a accumulated a 3,000 calorie deficit the previous 6 days of the week but then eat it all up in the one cheat day!

Early on in the diet, my cheat days consisted of me eating anything I wanted starting from 4 pm to 9 pm. I would eat Chinese buffets, noodles, pasta, breads, chips, cookies....basically whatever I was craving and wanted to eat on that day. There was no regard for calories, protein, carbs, or fats...and everything was fair game! Cheat days are always great at the beginning but I always felt terrible by the end. I would stuff myself so full and just eat random things because I could. Regardless, I still made great progress doing this but knew I had to do it better as the diet went on.

As my diet neared the end of the 12 weeks, my cheat days turned into "cleaner" cheat days and what are also considered "refeeds". The difference between refeeds and cheat days is that refeeds are high carb, moderate protein, and low fat. LOW FAT is the key here and really limits a lot of the foods that I was able to eat on cheat days so it definitely wasn't as "fun" as the cheat days were. No more ice cream, donuts, high fat pastries, or fattening meals like lasagna, mac & cheese, or even ribs.

Eating high carb and low fat allows your body the same benefits as cheat days except the fat gained from the refeeds will be much lower. I've seen recommend guidelines that say to keep the fat around 50-60 grams of fat on the refeed day. An example of some of the foods I would eat on a refeed: bagels, pasta, breads, pretzels, and noodles. I also didn't feel as bad after these refeeds as I did after the cheat days. Moving from cheat days to refeeds allowed me to make even better progress than before!

-Intro to my 12 week transformation

-Important Key Points to My Body Transformation

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Gaspari Nutrition Myofusion Protein Review

When it comes to my use of protein powders, I don't really have any strong opinions or bias for a particular brand. I've found that the two most important factors when it comes to choosing a protein powder is quality and taste. 

Most of the other features advertised for protein powders such as how fast or slowly it absorbs, how it was filtered or exchanged won't make any noticeable difference for most people. I'm not sure it means any difference for the 1% of the population who actually need to focus on the little details either. 

If I happen to try or sample a new protein powder that I like better than my current favorite, then the new protein powder would become my new favorite.

With this being said, Gaspari Nutrition Myofusion Protein is currently my protein powder of choice. Gaspari Nutrition is a trusted brand by a lot people so I trust that the protein powder is a quality protein and has what it says it has on the label. 

The best thing about the powder is of course the taste. I've tried many different protein powders and the combination of Myofusion's taste, texture, and quality are above all others.

Here's what's listed on Gaspari's website about what Myofusion does:

  • A Cost Effective Yet Great Tasting Protein Powder Designed to be Used Multiple Times per Day Without Breaking your Budget

    -I've found that Myofusion can be found anywhere from $35 - $40 dollars for a 5 lb jug which is a great deal considering today's protein prices. A 5 lb jug contains approximately 63 servings.
  • Optimal Ratios of Cross-Flow Cold Process/Microfiltered Whey Protein Concentrate & Isolate, Egg Albumen, and Milk Protein Isolate*

    -This doesn't mean too much to me and wouldn't mean too much to most people. However, I do believe that protein blends are better for you than straight whey protein alone. Myofusion has a good blend of whey, egg, and milk proteins as listed above.
  • Contains A Powerful Proteolytic GaspariZyme™ Complex For Extreme Bioavailability and Maximum Amino Acid Levels In The Bloodstream*

    -I don't know exactly what GaspariZyme is and I can't easily find it on the website but this probably makes little to no difference on the absorption of the protein.
  • No Sugar Added, Aspartame Free*

    -No sugar added is always a good thing. No aspartame means they use other artificial sweeteners which I've found do taste better that aspartame.
  • Incredible Long-Term Taste Satisfaction*

    -This is very true. I've been using Myofusion for about a year now and am very satisfied with the taste and look forward to drinking my favorite flavors every time.
Myofusion comes in 6 different flavors, of which I've tried all of them except the Cookies and Cream. The other flavors are Milk Chocolate, Delicious Vanilla, Strawberries & Cream, Chocolate Mint, and Banana Perfection. My favorite ones are Banana Perfection and Strawberries & Cream. 

Last night, I just made another protein powder purchase as I'm running low on Myofusion. If Myofusion was on sale for $30 for a 5 lb jug I would have bought Myofusion, but since it wasn't I decided I would try some new ones that were priced lower. I bought Muscle Pharm Combat Powder Banana Cream, VPX Sports Syngex Cookies & Cream, and 4 Ever Fit Fruit Blast the Whey Mango Magic from AllStarHealth.com
We'll see if one of the above take over Myofusion as my favorite protein.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Supplement Deals

One of things I love getting in on are supplement deals, especially ones where there's a price mistake! My two recent ones were buying Driven Sports Triazole for 15 dollars a bottle and Controlled Labs Purple Pysko for 22 dollars a jug. I got three bottles of the Triazole and two jugs of the Purple Pysko. Unfortunately the price mistakes are gone now.

Now I know a lot of people think most supplements are worthless, which I do agree a lot of them are. But aside from taking the basics: Protein powder, multivitamin, fish oil, creatine, bcaa's (there's a lot of disagreement on this one but it's a basic for me); I like to try out new supplements from time to time.

I've had periods before where I swore off all supplements besides the basics just to see how I feel and I know that I feel a lot more awesome when I do take supplements :) 

Whether that is due to a placebo affect or actual results from the supplement is debatable, but I'd like to think that I'm pretty in tune with my body to know when a supplement works or when it is garbage.

A few of the websites I check daily for supplement deals are:

Thursday, May 19, 2011

12 Week Transformation

12 Week Transformation

This past winter I participated in a 12 Week Body Transformation contest held by Bodyspace. The grand prize was something like $100,000 dollars. I didn't think I would win but I just wanted to do this as a way to keep track of my progress while dieting down for the warm summer months.

I started the contest weighing in at 189lbs  on January 30th, 2011. I'm not sure what my bodyfat percentage was but I would guess that it was definitely over 15%. At the end of the 12 weeks on April 24th, 2011, I weighed 168lbs and I'm guessing under 10% bodyfat. The drastic changes in my physique between the 12 weeks are show below :)



Stay tuned for more details on how I accomplished my transformation!
***Edited 9/12/12***
Click on the related links below for exact details on how I did it!
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