The summer is over, the tourists are gone from Venice Beach, and my contest season is over, too. My last contest was September 23, in San Diego, "Border States". It was the biggest contest so far. Normally, the prejudging that starts at 11 AM is done at about 2 PM, in Border States it was still going on at 4:30 PM. Lots of high quality competitors. I placed 3rd in heavy weight, and I was satisfied with the result. I looked better than in my two previous contests, I was leaner, but 5 lbs heavier. I was 176 lbs on stage. So this time I did my carb depleting and carb loading just right.
I must tell that after my last contest in August, and the video shoot in the beginning of September, I was feeling highly unmotivated to do any more contest. I've been dieting 170 days by then, doing cardio twice a day. It felt like it was enough! I started to cheat on my diet, and just didn't feel like dieting another 3 weeks. But then I realized that it is easy to diet when everything goes smoothly, but when it gets tough and I stick with it and go through my tough moments, that will make me strong. So I refocused and went on for another 2 weeks. I was reading all possible books and magazines about training, and dieting and psychology... just to collect all focus that I have and stick with my diet. It helped, I did it! I put myself on an interesting "7 days quick fix" diet. I read about it somewhere, and the little note that they wrote, telling that it is very tough program and only extremely disciplined people can make it. That was enough said for me! Hey, I have to see if I can make it. And that little challenge helped me, and actually the "7 day quick fix" helped a lot with my physique. Just to let you know, I've been eating A LOT of grapefruits and whey protein. With a lot I mean TONS of grapefruit.
Did I mention that I love to drive my little quick Honda??? When I was driving to San Diego, a drive that normally takes about 2 hours form Venice, and if you go fast, with a flow of the traffic (75-85 mph), you make it in about 1 hour 45 minutes. I started at 6:30 AM Saturday morning, and thanks goodness that police boys are sleepy that early on weekends. I made it to San Diego in 1 hour 35 minutes. My little Honda was just flying on the freeway. In the evening, when I got my trophy at 9 PM, I decided to give up and not to watch the rest of the show (which went on until midnight). And because it was a long tiring day, and I had to drive back to Venice, I had to buy lots of food, so I don't fall asleep behind the wheel (good excuse, huh? LOL). The whole passenger seat was full with muffins, a jar of cashew nuts, bagel chips, marshmallows crispy treats, 4 lbs grapes, bagels and some other "small" stuff. I ate it ALL before I came to LA! I stopped by the market and bought two 1/2 gallons my favorite Peanut Butter Fantasy Ice Cream and I ate one box at 1 AM... Talk about being full. I had some early clients the next day, and when I got back home, I continued eating (I had one more half gallon...) and napping. I realized how exhausted, both physically and mentally I was. The tiredness came when I decided that the contest season is over... The coming 3 days, I was napping and eating all the time. I skipped the gym and cardio. I realized that this is my first week off the gym in about 2 years. Last year after my contests, I took off my diet and ate bad, but I still went to the gym the very next day.
4 days of my overeating on bad foods, I was getting my regular two
super deep massage, (a combination of rolphing and energy and shiatsu
muscle separating massage... believe me, it HURTS). I came to an
conclusion. My body was hurting like I was 97 years old, everything was
tight, the joints were hurting. It is often like that after the
the quick weight gain and water retention makes the body hurt. But the
interesting thing was to hear from my massage therapist, who was
all my organs, and meridians... everything, kidneys, liver,
intestines... everything was overloaded and the energy was not flowing.
It was an interesting observation to see how all the bad foods mirrors
itself in the body, creating all the imbalances. And imagine, I am in
good touch with my body and I feel every little difference, but how
these "normal" people eating hamburgers, donuts, fries and similar
every day. Imagine how their inner organs suffer and how bad these
must feel, even though they maybe don't know really about it, because
don't know the better feeling. But all the disease that people suffer -
fatigue, insomnia, depression, skin problems, colds, indigestion,
(not talking about more serious problems, like cancer) - they are the
of their bodies to all the imbalances created by bad food. Enough about
my contests... I am done, I look forward to having more time for my
on the beach!
Video is coming
The video shoot that I was doing in the beginning of September was fun, Fun, FUN!!! A long work day, we were shooting almost 17 hours. The locations were very beautiful, a swimming pool in the sun rise, then the beach during the sunny day, the gym later in the afternoon, and the most beautiful location was Topanga Canyon and mountains. I climbed whole way up on a rock/mountain and was posing on the top, against the blue sky, at the sunset. The sun light made my skin golden and everything was really beautiful. More shooting in the studio in some very creative lighting. It's going to be a very tasteful and artistic video. These guys know what they are doing. My labrador/pitbull Peanut is in the shot too! We sleep together in my bed (hey, that's kinky...), go for a walk and do other activities that I normally do during my regular day. Now, it takes about 40-50 hours to edit the whole thing, the video should be released sometime in December. Maybe sooner?
Eat for the Balance of the Body
by Suzanna McGee
Bad Habit of Overeating
It is obvious that our menus and meals are very complex, containing a lot of ingredients from different food groups, and it is also obvious that we often eat too much. At least many of us. Very often the overeating is just a bad habit, that could be easily broken. Eating raw vegetables and fruit regularly helps cool the stomach and overeating. Also celery is a great food, especially if you have problems to stop eating. To end the meal, eat some celery! In general, more liquid is required for overeaters. Include soups and stews in your diet. Reduce consumption of foods which may inflame the stomach: meats, fried or oily foods, nuts, seeds, and very salty and hot flavors. Never eat yourself full, the golden rule is to stop eating when two-thirds full. Breath deeply and chew thoroughly. Both of these practises help to reduce the desire.
The Art of Chewing
Eating begins with chewing, which helps to prepare the food for smoother digestion. If you feel under pressure when you eat your meals, simply chew, and let the chewing relax you. Without adequate chewing you will feel heavy and dull, develop gas, and be undernourished. When you chew your food well, the digestion becomes so efficient, that the body begins to feel wonderfully light. To get started in the good habit of correct chewing, try counting the chewing of each bite thirty to fifty times in the beginning of each meal. You soon realize, that meats, fats, sweets and processed foods, the more they are chewed, the worse they taste. On other side, the whole carbohydrate foods, the longer chewed the sweeter they taste.
The Good Habits of Eating
Set aside a special time for your meals, in a pleasant environment. Avoid conversations about emotionally charged subjects and confused talk or thoughts. Avoid eating when you are too tired, too hot or cold, worried, angry, standing, watching TV or reading. These activities make the food hard to digest. Relax after eating, but don't fall asleep. Relaxation helps you to digest your food and sleep well at night. Liquid food shouldn't bee too hot or too cold. Also drinking with meals dilutes the digestive juices. In general, drink herbal teas or water ten to twenty minutes before the meal. A small amount of water, four onces or less, is acceptable to drink during the meal. After the meal, wait at least 30 minutes, or more after the meal hard to digest (meats, eggs, dairy).
Internal Organs Clock
For the greatest health benefits, one might want to take into account the physiological schedule of your organs. The night and early morning hours before about 5 AM are passive times of the day when the digestive organs need to rest. The liver in particular, needs to complete numerous metabolic functions, like blood purification, which is interrupted when late meals are eaten. The ancient observation that the body's internal organs have a peak activity during two-hour intervals, is called Chinese clock. For example, liver's peak activity is between 1 AM and 3 AM. The further away from the peak activity the meal is taken, the better and more completely the liver can perform its functions. The peak hours of internal organs are as follows
1 AM - 3 AM
Lungs 3 AM - 5 AM
Large Intestine 5 AM - 7 AM
Stomach 7 AM - 9 AM
Spleen/pancreas 9 AM - 11 AM
Heart/Mind 11 AM - 1 PM
Small Intestine 1 PM - 3 PM
Bladder 3 PM - 5 PM
Kidney 5 PM - 7 PM
Heart Governor 7 PM - 9 PM
Triple Heater 9 PM - 11 PM
Gallbladder 11 PM - 1 AM
The lowest activity is twelve hours away from its peak activity. For example, most optimal time to eat breakfast (first meal) is when the stomach is most active, i.e. between 7 AM and 9 AM. Actually, the other good time is between 9 AM and 11 AM when the pancreatic activity is the highest. The first meal should be moist enough to help with morning dehydration, and also should be simple and moderate size.
The second meal should be eaten at noon or shortly thereafter, and the meal should be largest in size and variety, because it must support the energy for the afternoon, when blood sugar levels dip to their lowest point.
The last meal should be the smallest, not eaten later then 7 PM, because from 7 PM to 9 PM, the stomach has its lowest activity. The meal should contain some cooked protein and vegetables.
Now, we know that we bodybuilders need to supply our bodies with some protein approximately every 3 hours, to stay in a positive nitrogen balance. Here we have to compromise the Chinese view on optimal health, and the growing muscle of a bodybuilder. We need to eat a protein snack between the main meals. Also non-bodybuilding people, who have blood sugar imbalances, need to eat the snacks.
The Morning Elixir
Upon awakening, we often feel thirsty but not hungry (even though I think I am always hungry!). Because of dehydration we will desire a high amount of liquids to satisfy dryness and to bring the energy up. When the body is stiff and the mind is not clear after rising, it means that the liver hasn't completed its necessary blood purification. This could be a sign of an overeating or late eating, consumption of too many animal products, poor-quality food or intoxicants. If you feel groggy upon rising, you can drink more cleansing fluids instead of pure water. The morning elixirs (the fluids that help you to detoxify and refresh yourself) are best slightly warmed. Here is the list of elixirs, the less cleansing to the most cleansing:
1) warming teas (ginger, cinnamon, anise, fennel, spearmint)
2) vegetable broth (cabbage, parsley)
3) micro-alga drink (spirulina, chlorella)
4) water (with lemon)
5) vegetable juice (carrot, celery)
6) fruit juice (apple, prune, grape, orange)
7) barley juice
8) root teas (burdock,dandelion, chicory)
9) flower teas (chamomile, red clover blossoms, orange blossoms)
One Pot Meal
Easy to prepare, healthy and lots of healing properties and lots of variations. Typical examples are soups and stews. You cook all ingredients in a single pot with ample water. Ingredients include grains, vegetables, legumes, seeds, herbs, and/or meat. The way this plan works to minimize digestive problems is that various foods have settled their differences in the pot, fought out whatever need to be fought out... in a sense, the food are being pre-digested in the pot. Try it and you will love it. Throw everything into a pot, start cooking, go and take a shower, and when you are done, the dinner is served!
Overeating is thought to be the major cause of premature aging. Overeating is one of the most wasteful things. Diabetes is primarily caused by overeating, not only sugar, but too much food in general. It is unheard of in countries where people cannot afford to overeat. Habitual overeating, especially of meat and strong flavors, inflames the lining of the stomach, which creates and imbalance in the stomach that causes overeating... bad cycle, huh? Even when the cycle is broken, one must change the underlying habits which may be imbedded in the body's cells and organs over many years. So strive for a balanced appetite, follow the inner clock, chew and stay young and full of energy!
Bodybuilders and Protein
Kind of long, but very informative. An excellent article by Tom
at www.fitren.com .
Read on and learn.
Bodybuilders are infamous for their love affair
with protein. The way iron-pumpers see it, muscle is protein, so they
associate eating more dietary protein with gaining more muscle. Devouring
egg whites by the dozen, meat by the pound and protein powder by the
bucketful is the norm for hard training physique athletes. But is all this
carnivorism really necessary? Why the infatuation with eating huge amounts
of protein? Are bodybuilders correct in their habitual practice of pounding
down the protein or is this immoderation unfounded? To answer these
questions, it is first necessary obtain a solid understanding of what protein
is and how it is used in the body. Only then can we objectively look at the
protein consumption practices of bodybuilders and compare them to what
the scientific evidence says in order to make some sensible and productive
Protein Turnover; the dynamic human body
Although your body appears quite solid, it is always in a constant
flux. The Greek philosopher Heraclitus said, "You cannot step in the same
river twice." What he meant was that a river may look the same every day,
but it never is the same because of the constant flow of new water running
through it. This is also true of the human body. Body protein is constantly
being turned over as old cells die and new cells replace them. Best-selling
author and mind-body expert Dr. Deepak Chopra describes this ongoing
cellular renewal process like this:
It is as if you lived in a building whose bricks were systematically
out and replaced every year. If you keep the same blueprint then it will
still look like the same building. But it won't be the same in actuality. The
human body also stands there, looking much the same from day to day,
but through the process of respiration, digestion, elimination and so
forth, it is constantly and ever in exchange with the rest of the world.
Quantum physicists have proven that 98% of the atoms in your body are
replaced within one year. In three months your body produces an entirely
new skeleton. Every six weeks, all the cells have been replaced in your liver.
You have a new stomach lining every five days. You are continually replacing
old blood cells with new ones. Every month you produce an entirely new
skin as dead cells are shed and new cells grow underneath. The proteins in
your muscles are continually turned over as muscle is broken down and
new tissue is synthesized. Every cell in your body is constantly being
Where do all these new cells come from? The answer of course, is from
protein foods you consume every day. That's why the saying, "You are what
you eat" is literally true from a molecular standpoint. Once you've accepted
this maxim, you'll start being awfully careful about what you put in your body
Protein 101: What is protein anyway?
Its not surprising that bodybuilders put so much emphasis on protein.
all, protein is construction material for the human body like bricks are for a
building. Body structures made from protein include skin, hair, nails, bones,
connective tissue and of course, skeletal muscle. Other proteins in your
body include antibodies, enzymes, hormones such as insulin, and
transporters such as hemoglobin. Next to water, protein is the most
abundant substance in the body, making up approximately 15-20% of your
weight. Of most interest to the bodybuilder is the fact that 60-70% of all
protein in the body is located in the skeletal muscles. In order for muscle
growth to occur, every day you must consume more protein than your body
Like fats and carbohydrates, proteins are also composed of carbon,
hydrogen and oxygen. The difference is nitrogen. Only protein can bring
nitrogen into the body. Because muscle tissue contains most of the body's
protein and protein contains nitrogen, scientists can study the effect of
dietary protein on muscle growth by comparing the amount of nitrogen
consumed with the amount excreted (in feces, urine and sweat). If the intake
of nitrogen is greater than the amount excreted, then we know that protein is
being retained and new muscle is being synthesized. This is known as
positive nitrogen balance. If more nitrogen is excreted than consumed, you
are in negative nitrogen balance, indicating that protein is being broken
down and muscle is being lost.
Amino acids: The building blocks of protein
The smallest units of a protein are called amino acids. Like bricks in
amino acids are the building blocks of protein. Just as glycogen is formed
from the linkage of numerous glucose molecules, proteins are formed from
the joining of numerous amino acids. There are 20 amino acids that are
required for growth by the human body. From these 20 amino acids, there
are tens of thousands of different protein molecules that can be formed.
Each protein is assembled from the bonding of different amino acids into
various configurations. Growth hormone, for example, is a protein chain of
156 amino acids.
"Amino acids are somewhat like letters in the alphabet. If you had only
the letter G, all you could write would be a string of Gs:
G-G-G-G-G-G-G-G. But with 20 different letters available, you could
create poems, songs, or novels. The 20 amino acids can be linked
together in an even greater variety of sequences than are possible for
letters in a word or words in a sentence. The variety of possible
sequences for polypeptide chains is tremendous."
-Eleanor Whitney and Sharon Rolfes, "Understanding Nutrition,"
Essential vs Non-essential amino acids
Out of the twenty amino acids, the human body can make eleven of them.
These are called the non-essential amino acids (also known as
"dispensable amino acids). The other nine amino acids are called
"essential amino acids" or (indispensable amino acids). Essential amino
acids are those which cannot be manufactured by your body and must be
supplied from your food.
Essential (indispensable) amino acids
Non essential (dispensable) amino acids
Why bodybuilders must eat "complete" proteins every three hours
Foods which contain a balanced combination of all the essential and
nonessential amino acids in the exact amounts required by the body for
growth are called "complete proteins." In order for the body to synthesize
muscle, all the essential amino acids must be available simultaneously.
Any non-essential amino acids that are in short supply can be produced by
the liver, but if an essential amino acid is missing, the body must break
down its own proteins to obtain it. To prevent muscle cell breakdown, dietary
protein must supply all the essential amino acids. If your diet is missing any
essential amino acids, protein synthesis will be inhibited.
Carbohydrates have a storage depot in the body called glycogen.
can be stored in the muscles and liver and then drawn upon hours or even
days later when it is needed. Proteins cannot be stored in the body. There is
only a very small and transient amino acid pool in the bloodstream. To
maintain the optimal environment for muscle growth (positive nitrogen
balance), complete proteins must be eaten with every meal. This explains
the rationale behind the common bodybuilding practice of eating six
protein-containing meals per day (one about every three hours.)
Protein Quality: Complete vs. Incomplete proteins
Protein isn’t just found in meat, eggs and milk. There is also protein
vegetables, beans, legumes, and grains. However, the protein in these
foods is not considered "complete" because it lacks one or more of the
essential amino acids. Generally speaking, proteins from vegetable
sources are lower in quality and that's the reason they are eschewed by
bodybuilders. The complete proteins are those that come from animal
sources such as eggs, milk and meat.
Many grains and legumes contain substantial amounts of protein, but
provide the full array of essential amino acids. Beans, for example, are very
high in protein with about 15 grams per cup, however, they are missing the
essential amino acid Methionine. Similarly, grains are lacking the essential
amino acid Lysine. It has been frequently pointed out that combining two
incomplete sources of vegetable protein such as rice and beans provides
you with the full complement of essential amino acids. This may be true, but
there's a decided difference between simply meeting your minimum amino
acid requirements for health and consuming the optimal quality of protein
for building muscle. Combining complementary vegetable sources of
protein just doesn't cut it for the serious bodybuilder.
Is "Vegetarian bodybuilder" an oxymoron?
A pure vegetarian (vegan) diet is not conducive to building muscle. One
thing you will never see is a rock-hard, massive and muscular vegan.
Lacto-vegetarians (those who use dairy products) and ovo-lacto-vegetarians
(those who use eggs and dairy products) can build excellent physiques.
Bodybuilding champion Bill Pearl is just one example. Pearl is well known
for his lifelong aversion to eating meat, but he does use complete proteins
from eggs or dairy products. With this semi-vegetarian approach, Pearl won
the Mr. America and Mr. Universe tittles and became a legend in the
bodybuilding and fitness world.
The bottom line is that you can get fit and healthy without consuming
proteins, but unless you include eggs or dairy products, you will never
develop a physique worthy of the bodybuilding stage. If a hard and muscular
physique is what you’re after, then heed the advice of Robert Kennedy,
publisher of Muscle Mag International and author of "Rock Hard,
Supernutrition for Bodybuilders:"
"The bodybuilder would be ill-advised to adopt a true vegetarian diet.
You can be one of the millions who are eating less meat and more
vegetables. You may even want to drop all flesh entirely. But is would be
a mistake to try for pure vegetarianism. Only 3.7% of Americans
consider themselves to be vegetarians, and of those only a fraction of
1% are purists. In the bodybuilding world of champions, that percentage
Lean sources of complete proteins
Complete proteins come from animal sources including meat, eggs and
dairy products. The obvious problem with animal proteins is that they also
contain large amounts of saturated fat. To stay lean, bodybuilders must
always keep fats in the diet low. Fortunately, fat from animal proteins can
easily be avoided simply by making the correct choices. For example, use
egg whites instead of egg yolks, lean meats such as turkey breast and
chicken breast instead of fatty cuts of meat, and 1% low fat or non fat dairy
products instead of whole milk dairy products. These are some of the best
sources of lean protein for bodybuilding purposes:
Shellfish (shrimp, lobster, crab, clams, etc)
Lean red meats (top round, lean sirloin, and flank)
Nonfat or low fat dairy products
Protein powders (Whey protein, for example).
The great debate; The RDA vs. the "protein pushers"
For years a heated controversy has raged over whether or not extra
will boost muscle development. On one side of the debate you have the
conservative dietitians and medical community who stubbornly insist that
the recommended Daily Allowance (RDA) is all you need to develop muscle.
The RDA's are the official government guidelines set by the national
research council. Currently the RDA for protein is based on body weight and
is set at .8 grams per kilogram of body weight (that's .36 grams per lb. of
body weight). For a 172 lb. man that equates to a paltry 62 grams per day. It
is important to note that the RDA's were developed for the "average"
sedentary person to avoid deficiency, not for athletes in hard training to gain
muscle and strength. In fact, the RDA handbook even says, "no added
allowance is made for stresses encountered in daily living which can give
rise to increases in urinary nitrogen output."
On the other side of the debate, you have the "protein pushers" who
that megadoses of protein are the key to muscular growth. These high
protein fanatics often suggest intakes of 300-500 grams a day or more.
More often than not, the protein pushers are in some way affiliated with a
supplement company and have a vested interest in selling you protein
powder. In other cases, these high protein advocates may be professional
bodybuilders who are taking large amounts of anabolic steroids, which can
allow the body to utilize more protein than normal.
So who is right, the conservative medical and scientific community or
protein pushers? The answer is neither; the optimal intake is clearly
somewhere in between the two extremes. An "optimal" protein intake for
bodybuilders is still unknown at this time and will require further research,
but one thing is for certain: The RDA is not enough to support the added
requirements for intense bodybuilding training. Even the RDA handbook
itself says, "No added allowance is made here for stresses encountered in
daily living which can give rise to transient increases in urinary nitrogen
output. It is assumed that the subjects of experiments forming the basis for
the requirement estimates are usually exposed to the same stresses as the
population generally." If bodybuilding isn't an "unusual stress" beyond what
is normally encountered in daily living then I don't know what is.
What the current research says about protein and bodybuilding
Research has conclusively proven that exercise increases protein needs.
Dr. Peter Lemon is the world's leading researcher on protein requirements
and athletes. In the journal "Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise"
(19:5, S179-S190,1986) Dr. Lemon writes;
"Several types of evidence indicate that exercise causes substantial
changes in protein metabolism. In fact, recent data suggests that the
protein recommended dietary allowance might actually be 100% higher
for individuals who exercise on a regular basis. Optimal intakes,
although unknown, may be even higher, especially for individuals
attempting to increase muscle mass and strength."
Dr. Lemon's most recent research published in "Nutrition Reviews,"
(54:S169-175, 1996) indicates that strength athletes need up to 1.8g of
protein per kg. of body weight to maintain positive nitrogen balance. That's .8
grams per lb. of body weight or almost 140 grams a day for someone who
weighs 172 lbs. This is very close to the long-held belief of bodybuilders that
1 gram per pound of body weight is optimal. Some studies have shown that
even higher protein intakes may be necessary in hard training strength
athletes. In one study of Polish weightlifters (Nutr. Metabolism 12:259-274),
5 of 10 athletes were still in negative nitrogen balance even while
consuming 250% of the RDA.
So much research has been done on protein and athletes that it's
that so many conservative registered dietitians and medical professionals
still cling to the outdated notion that the RDA for protein is sufficient for
muscle growth. The biggest irony is the fact that many of these "RDA
pushers" are overweight, flabby, out of shape professors, researchers or
white lab coat types. I don't know about you, but I have a very hard time
taking advice from "armchair experts" who don't walk the walk. After years of
being criticized by the academic and scientific communities for their
"excess" protein intakes, bodybuilders today have received their vindication;
It is no longer a theory that protein intakes higher than the RDA are more
effective for building muscle, it is now scientific fact.
Protein needs by body weight: The one gram per pound of body weight rule
For bodybuilders, one gram per pound of body weight has been a rule of
thumb for years - and it's very close to the .8 grams per pound of body
weight recommended in the most recent research. However, .8 grams per
pound of body weight should be considered a minimum for strength
athletes and bodybuilders. When you account for factors such as
biochemical individuality, varying metabolic rates and the added protein
needed to accommodate for intense training and gaining muscle, adding an
extra margin of .2g/lb makes sense. Under certain circumstances, one
gram per pound might not even be enough, but we'll talk more about that
The one gram per pound rule is the easiest and most commonly used
method of calculating your daily protein requirement, but it does have
drawbacks. For example, the more body fat you have, the more this method
will overestimate your protein needs. It also doesn't take into account
whether your goal is to gain or lose weight. Nevertheless, as long you are
training regularly and you are within the normal ranges for body
composition, then this simple formula is a solid recommendation and a
good place to start.
You are female
Your total body weight = 130 lbs.
Your protein requirement = 130 grams per day
If you eat 5 - 6 meals a day (like you should) that’s 22 - 26 grams of protein
You are male
Your total body weight = 190 lbs.
Your protein requirement = 190 grams per day
Spread over 5 - 6 meals per day, that’s 32 - 38 grams of protein per meal
Protein needs as a percentage of total calories
Another way to calculate your daily protein needs is to multiply your
calorie intake for the day by the desired percentage of calories from protein.
To do this, you’ll need to know how many calories you’re supposed to take
in. There is not enough space to discuss calorie calculations in this article,
but you can find all the formulas on my website in the article titled, "Calorie
Calculators." For now, let it suffice to say that exercise physiologists tell us
the average maintenance level is 2000-2100 calories per day for women
and 2700-2900 per day for men. After you’ve determined your caloric
maintenance level, you then adjust it up or down depending on whether you
want to gain or lose weight.
30% of total calories should come from protein
The next step is to select the optimal percentage of calories from
The percentage you choose must be in line with your goals, activity
requirements, body type and metabolic rate. The ideal ratios may vary widely
based on these factors, but as a "baseline" I recommend that 30% of your
calories come from protein. That leaves 15% from fat and 55% from natural,
unrefined complex carbohydrates.
The Baseline Diet:
Once you’ve selected the proper ratio of calories to come from protein,
simply multiply the percentage of calories from protein by the total calories
for the day. That will tell you how many calories should come from protein.
The final step is to divide the protein calories by four (there are
in each gram of protein) and that will give you how many grams of protein
you should eat per day.
You are a female, 130 lbs.
Your optimal calorie intake to lose fat is 1700 calories per day
To determine your protein intake, multiply your caloric intake by 30%
1700 calories per day X .30% = 510 calories from protein
There are 4 calories per gram of protein
510 protein calories divided by 4 calories per gram of protein = 127.5 grams
You are male, 190 lbs.
Your optimal calorie intake to lose fat is 2600 calories per day
To determine your protein intake, multiply your caloric intake by 30%
2600 calories per day X .30% = 780 calories from protein
There are 4 calories per gram of protein
780 protein calories divided by 4 calories per gram of protein = 195 grams
Three times when higher protein is called for
You probably noticed in the example above that using 30% of calories
protein comes out very close to one gram per pound of body weight.
However, the percentage of total calories method is more accurate because
it accounts for different goals. The examples above were for someone who
wanted to lose weight. Obviously your optimal caloric intake, and therefore
your protein intake, will vary depending on what you want to achieve. If you
want to gain weight, you’re going to need more calories, and a substantial
portion of those extra calories should come from protein.
Clearly, there are times when a higher protein intake is necessary.
1) When you are trying to gain muscular body weight
2) When you are using a low carbohydrate diet for fat loss
3) When you are "carbohydrate sensitive"
Protein Intake and Gaining Muscular Body Weight
Let's suppose you're male, you weigh 190 lbs. and you maintain your
on 3000 calories per day. To gain weight you’ll need to increase your
calories. Makes sense, right? Specifically, you’d need about 3500 per day.
Now let’s do the math: 30% of 3500 calories is 1050 calories per day. 1050
calories divided by four calories per gram is 262 grams of protein a day.
That’s nearly 1.4 grams of protein per pound of body weight!
After everything we’ve discussed so far, you’re probably wondering,
that entirely too much protein?" True, 1.4 grams per pound of bodyweight
seems like a heck of a lot of protein. However, there is a very logical reason
for this extra protein, so stay with me for a minute. Granted, there’s no
scientific "proof" that high protein intakes this high will grow more muscle,
but that’s not the reason for the extra protein. The reason is your protein
intake has to go up along with your calories in order to keep your nutrient
You need more calories to gain weight, but if you only add the extra
from fat or carbohydrate, you would probably find yourself getting fat - and
fast! As bodybuilders know all too well, excess carbohydrates, especially in
the presence of a calorie surplus, can easily cause fat storage. The same
goes for dietary fats. A high calorie diet with 70% of the calories from
carbohydrates might be ok for a long distance runner, but chances are, a
bodybuilder would get as smooth as a baby’s butt eating like that!
Protein intake and low carbohydrate dieting
The second time when more protein is justified is when you are using a
carbohydrate diet. The baseline diet of 55% carbohydrates, 30% protein and
15% fat is without a doubt the healthiest, most balanced way to eat, and
most people will lose weight on this diet, as long as calories are below
maintenance. However, take a look at the diets of the world's best
bodybuilders and fitness competitors and you'll discover that nearly all of
them use some variation of the low carbohydrate or moderate carbohydrate
diet to achieve the "ripped" look necessary to win competitions.
If you decide to choose the low carbohydrate approach to dieting, the
problem is that you can’t just drop out all those carbohydrates and leave the
amounts of protein and fat right where they were. If carbohydrates are
decreased substantially, the protein (and to some extent, the healthy "good"
fats) must be increased correspondingly so the calorie deficit doesn’t
become too large.
When your carbohydrates are too low and your calories are also low, the
result is almost always muscle loss. Not exactly what a bodybuilder wants,
is it? So, to offset the drop in carbohydrates and keep your calories above
"starvation level," your protein intake must be increased - sometimes to very
high levels. Exactly what ratio of protein to carbohydrate you take in depends
entirely on your type of metabolism and can only be determined through trial
Not only does a high protein level fend off muscle loss while on low
carbohydrates, but it can also speed up the fat burning process. Protein has
the highest "thermic effect" of any food. That means that protein foods speed
up your metabolism because your body has to work harder to digest,
process and utilize this nutrient compared to fat or carbohydrate. The
"thermic" effect of protein is one of the reasons that a higher protein diet is
more effective for fat loss than a high fat diet or a high carbohydrate diet. Too
much of any food type can be stored as body fat, but protein is less likely to
be converted to fat than any other nutrient.
Protein intake for the carbohydrate sensitive or insulin resistant
A high protein, low carbohydrate diet may not be appropriate (or
year round maintenance, but there is no question that a higher protein diet
makes it easier to lose body fat. One reason for this is because of the
thermic effect of proteins, but another reason is the effect of moderate or low
carbohydrates and high protein on insulin and blood sugar levels. Let me
Some people are very "sensitive" to carbohydrates. This means that when
they eat a lot of carbohydrates, they "overreact" and there is an unusually
large surge in their blood sugar and insulin levels. Insulin is an important
anabolic hormone and is responsible for moving glucose into body cells,
but too much is not a good thing. Large concentrations of insulin in the
bloodstream activate fat storage enzymes and promote the movement of
triglycerides in the bloodstream into fat cells for storage. Too much insulin
also inhibits enzymes that promote the breakdown of stored body fat. The
only solution to this problem is less carbohydrates and - you guessed it -
Conclusion - There are no "rules"
The one gram per pound of bodyweight guideline is good as a general
of thumb for bodybuilders, and the 30% of total calories guideline is even
better. However, it's impossible to set hard and fast rules about protein
intakes, because no single rule could possibly apply to everyone. The
amount of protein you need depends on how hard you are training and on
whether you want to gain, maintain, or lose bodyweight. It also depends on
whether you decide to take the high carbohydrate, low fat approach or the
high protein, low carbohydrate method. Neither way is right or wrong. What's
right is what works for you.
No single diet will work for everyone. Nutrition is a highly individual
and you must make adjustments to your diet to account for the differences in
your metabolism and your body type. If you've tried the conventional, high
carbohydrate, low fat diet and it hasn't produced satisfactory results, a diet
with moderate or even low carbohydrates might be the answer. If you decide
to take the low carbohydrate approach, you're going to have to increase your
protein to make up for the lower carbohydrates. If you don't, you'll end up
losing your hard-earned muscle. You're also going to have to eat more
protein if you want to gain lean body weight.
Even though it flies in the face of conventional wisdom and seems
excessive, it's entirely possible that you might need as much as 1.25 grams
to 1.5 grams of protein per day - or more - to get optimal results.
How competitive bodybuilders use extreme dieting strategies to get massive and ripped
In this third and final installment of the series, we will scrutinize
sometimes-extreme protein consumption habits of competitive
bodybuilders. This article is based on a combination of scientific research and
my personal observations from 17 years in the sport. I'm a firm believer in the
scientific method, but too often, scientists refuse to accept ideas that
haven't been "properly tested," even if evidence of their effectiveness is right in
front of them. Placebos, double blind studies, control groups and all that other
lab rat stuff is great, but being too scientific can hold back your gains.
Could it be that bodybuilders, with their high protein diets, are ahead of the
science? There's no doubt that eating more protein works - just ask any
successful bodybuilding champion (or just look at them for that matter!) The
million-dollar question is... "How much more?"
It's a common practice for bodybuilders to increase protein
contests. Typically, competitive bodybuilders consume 1.25 - 1.5 grams per
pound of bodyweight during the off season. Before competitions, it's not
uncommon for a bodybuilder to increase the protein to as much as 1.75 - 2.0
Previously, we concluded that bodybuilders need about 1 gram per
pound of bodyweight. So why is it that virtually 100% of the world's top
bodybuilders take in one and a half to two times that amount? Do they know
something the scientists don't?
There is very little scientific evidence that protein intakes higher
.8 - 1.0
g./lb. will increase muscle growth. But wait! Before you trade your chicken and
eggs whites for pasta and bagels, read on; bodybuilders don't just eat more
protein because it builds more muscle (which they believe it does), they also
eat a high protein diet because it helps them get ripped.
Mainstream dieticians and scientists condemn high protein diets. They
that it is wasteful and expensive to eat so much protein because the excess
will be converted into glucose and used for energy (or stored as fat if there's a
calorie surplus). This is true, but in the absence of large amounts of
carbohydrates, it's this conversion of protein to glucose, a process called
gluconeogenesis, that helps bodybuilders get leaner. The process is
"metabolically costly." In other words, you actually burn off calories and speed
up your metabolism by eating too much protein.
Critics question whether this practice is healthy. More will be said
later, but let me just get this off my chest right now before I explode: Yes, it's
true! I admit it! I confess! We bodybuilders are all guilty; we eat entirely too
much protein before competitions. And perhaps, if sustained for a long period
of time, it might not be the healthiest of all diets. I can't argue that a diet with
higher fiber content and more variety isn't healthier than one that is mostly
But guess what? We do it anyway - knowingly and on purpose! We do it
reason - because it works! This goes beyond a mere health and nutrition
lecture; this is about the competitive nature of an athlete. Bodybuilders are
highly competitive, and competitive athletes will do whatever it takes. They are
willing to put greater strains on their bodies in order to achieve the rock-hard,
dried-out look that is necessary to win.
This phenomenon is not isolated to bodybuilding. Take a look at the
regimens of any Olympic, professional or world-class athlete in any sport. You
will find that extreme training or nutritional practices are par for the course. Is it
"normal" to train or work out for 6 or 8 hours a day like some Olympic athletes
do? Is it "normal" to run 10, 12, 15 miles a day? Is it "normal" for a wrestler to
lose 20 pounds in one week to make a weight class? Is it "normal" to practice
your stroke or swing for hours and hours and hours every day? Who is to judge
what is healthy or what is normal anyway?
The fact is, competitive athletes are never "normal." You could easily
the training and preparation for any sport at a high level is "unhealthy."
Competitive athletics is an extreme arena and competitive bodybuilders are the
most extreme athletes of all. Putting your body under abnormal stresses and
strains is part of the business.
This is not to say that you should throw all caution to the wind and
unhealthy nutritional practices as part of your lifestyle just for the sake of a
trophy. A key distinction must be made: A pre-contest bodybuilding diet is
temporary. Diets should be cycled just like training programs. Bodybuilders
wouldn't train for power and strength all year round and neither should they diet
the same all year round either. After the contest is over, an intelligent
bodybuilder will cycle back to a much more balanced diet that contains a wide
variety of foods, with more carbs and less protein.
Let me give you an illustration:
Suppose you are a male bodybuilder and you weigh 195 lbs. Your minimum
protein requirement would be approximately 1 gram per pound of bodyweight
or 195 grams. But remember, that's the minimum - As a bodybuilder, I'd rather
err on the side of too much - I'm not waiting around for some new study to
confirm what I already know from experience.
In the off-season, your baseline diet for gaining muscle should be high
calories and high in carbs. It would look something like this:
Bodyweight 195 lbs.
Protein per pound of bodyweight = 1.4 grams
55% carbs = 2090 calories = 522 grams carbs
30% protein = 1140 calories = 285 grams of protein
15% fat = 570 calories = 63 grams of fat
Now, suppose you decide to compete; you'd begin phase 1 of your contest
simply by reducing your calories and adding in more cardio. No change is
made to your nutrient ratios. This kick starts the fat burning process. If you have
good genetics and you are not carb-sensitive, you might not need any other
changes; you could get very lean on this diet, just from the cardio and the
Bodyweight 195 lbs.
Protein per pound of bodyweight = 1.23 grams
55% carbs = 1760 calories = 440 grams carbs
30% protein = 960 calories = 240 grams of protein
15% fat = 480 = 53 grams of fat
As the show gets closer, you enter phase 2 of your contest diet; this
where you start to reduce your carbohydrate intake. You also
increase your calorie deficit, but to avoid letting your calories drop into the
dangerous starvation zone, you increase your protein intake. This is
the phase where you will do most of your dieting and where you will lose
body fat the most efficiently:
Bodyweight 190 lbs
Protein per pound of bodyweight = 1.6 grams
40% carbs = 1200 calories = 300 grams carbs
40% protein = 1200 calories = 300 grams of protein
20% fat = 600 calories = 66 grams of fat
Phase 3 is the last leg of your contest prep. At this point, you are
lean and you want to go from lean to "ripped," so you reduce your
carbohydrates even further (never eliminating them completely). To avoid
metabolic slowdown, you carb-up at regular intervals:
Bodyweight 181 lbs.
Protein per pound of bodyweight = 1.8 - 2.0 grams
25% carbs = 675 calories = 169 grams carbs
50-55% protein = 1350 - 1485 calories = 337 -371 grams of protein
20- 25% fat = 540 - 675 calories = 60 - 75 grams of fat
You're now ripped to shreds, you weigh 181 lbs. and all you have to do
make middleweights is lose some water a few days before the show. Your
protein intake is now up to a whopping 1.8 - 2.0 g./lb./bodyweight.
1.8 to 2.0 grams of protein per pound of bodyweight? That's an awful
protein, and I know what you're thinking...
"Holy Chicken Breasts, Batman! Isn't eating all that protein bad for you?"
I knew this question would pop up. This "high protein is bad for you"
never seems to go away, so let me squash this ugly bug right now once and for all.
At one time or another, you've probably heard the myth that high
are bad for your kidneys, they dehydrate you and give you osteoporosis.
Well, here's the truth: It's a medical and scientific fact that except
in the case
of pre-existing kidney disease, there is no documented evidence that a high
protein intake will cause kidney damage in a healthy kidney. In fact, there is
not a single study that has been published in a peer-reviewed scientific
journal using adult human subjects with healthy kidneys that has shown any
kidney dysfunction whatsoever as a result of consuming a high protein diet.
In the textbook, "Total Nutrition: the Only Guide You'll Ever Need,"
Sinai School of Medicine, the authors, Victor Herbert and Genell
Shubak-Sharpe, had this to say about protein and kidney disease:
"High-protein diets have never proven to be a serious hazard for
healthy people, although processing excess protein can overburden a
liver or kidney's that are damaged by disease. That's why individuals
with kidney or liver disease are often put on protein-restricted diets.
Likewise, very high protein formulas can also be detrimental to very
young or premature infants whose kidney function is not fully
developed. Some nephrologists have also speculated the eating a
high-protein diet throughout life may be the reason for the 'slight'
decline in kidney function that usually occurs with age, but this
connection is still under investigation."
What about the claim that high protein diets cause osteoporosis? In
people, some studies have shown that increased protein intakes lead to
elevated calcium excretion. This is because high protein intakes increase
the acidity of the blood, and the body must "leach" calcium from the bones to
buffer the acidity. The researchers theorized that this calcium loss could
lead to accelerated osteoporosis, especially in women.
While this phenomenon has been observed in sedentary individuals, there
is no clearly established link between high protein intake and osteoporosis.
Women with risk factors for osteoporosis should be more cautious, but if
you are athletically inclined and participate in aerobic and resistance
exercise, you will probably have few risk factors. Here's what Herbert and
Shubak-Sharpe had to say on the subject:
"Our typical high-protein, high-meat diets have also been implicated as
factor in the development of osteoporosis, but these claims may be the
results of misinterpreting scientific research. Studies have shown that
adding purified protein supplements and amino-acid mixtures that have
had their phosphate removed do increase excretion of calcium by the
kidney in both animals and humans. However, several long-term
controlled human studies carried out by Herta Spencer, M.D., at the
Hines VA Medical Center in Illinois have shown that high intakes of
protein from natural protein sources such as meat, which have their
phosphate intact, do not significantly increase calcium loss."
A post-menopausal sedentary woman would not be well advised to go on a
high protein diet, but if you're a bodybuilder, or even if you just train with
weights recreationally, then you will have denser bones than someone who
doesn't work out. Therefore, extra protein should not be a cause for concern.
Probably the only legitimate problem created by a high protein intake
dehydration. Metabolizing protein requires more water than protein or
carbohydrates, so it is very important to consume extra water if you increase
your protein intake. The standard recommendation is 8-10 8 oz glasses per
day (64 - 80 oz). However, the higher your protein intake, the more water you
should drink beyond the standard guideline. For bodybuilders on high
protein diets, a gallon a day (124 oz) is more like it.
I sincerely hope that this series of articles has helped to clear up
the mystery, confusion and controversy surrounding bodybuilding and
protein. If there's a single take-home lesson in all this, then here it is: Never
do anything at the expense of your health, but understand this; in
bodybuilding, the bottom line is the results you produce. If a diet works for
you, then it works, period. So forget about what the critics, the conservatives
and the textbooks say; if bigger, harder, leaner muscles are what you're
after, then try increasing your protein intake using the guidelines this series
has suggested. If it works, stay with it. If it doesn't, then throw it out and try
something else; but you'll never know if a high protein diet will help you get
leaner or build more muscle unless you give it a try.
A Wise Man Said...
"I was riding to work yesterday when I observed a female driver cut right in front of a pickup truck causing him to have to drive on to the shoulder. This evidently pissed the driver off enough, that he hung out his window and flipped the woman off.
"Man, that guy is stupid" I thought to myself I ALWAYS smile nicely and wave in a sheepish manner whenever a female does anything to me in traffic and here's why.
I drive 38 miles each way every day to work, that's 76 miles. Of these, 16 each way, is bumper-to-bumper, most of the bumper-to-bumper is on 8 lane highway. So if you just look at the 7 lanes I am not in, that means I pass something like a new car every 40 feet per lane. That's 7 cars every 40 feet for 32 miles. That works out to be 982 cars every mile, or 31,424 cars. Even though the rest of the 34 miles is not bumper to bumper. I figure I pass at least another 4000 cars. That brings the number to something like 36,000 cars I pass every day. Statistically half of these are driven by females, that's 18,000. In any given group of females 1 in 28 are having the worst day of their period. That's 642.
According to Cosmopolitan, 70% describe their love life as dissatisfying or unrewarding, that's 449, according to the National Institutes of Health, 22% of all females have seriously considered suicide or homicide, that's 98, and 34% describe men as their biggest problem, that's 33.
According to the National Rifle Association 5% of all females carry weapons and this number is increasing. That means that EVERY SINGLE DAY, I drive past at least one female that, has a lousy love life, thinks men are her biggest problem, has seriously considered suicide or homicide, is having the worst day of her period and is armed.
No matter what she does in traffic, I wouldn't DREAM of flipping her
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