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Wednesday, 8 July 2015

Understanding the Macros

With the emergence of nutritional approaches such as the ketogenic and paleo plans (both high in Low Carbproteins and fats, and lower in carbs), carbohydrates; macromolecules often beneficial for good health and performance and at one time an integral part of any good bodybuilder’s eating plan, are not as readily consumed as they once were. With much confusion concerning the role carbohydrates play in producing energy and keeping us supplied with a full complement of valuable vitamins, minerals and fiber, many are uncertain as to how and when to include carbs in a diet conducive to sustaining health and wellbeing and building muscle mass. 
Increasingly maligned and neglected, carbohydrates are being used more strategically than ever: fearing they will lead to unwanted weight gain, many lifters are replacing a percentage of their carbs with additional proteins and fats, only eating them at certain times, and often dropping them completely. 
Over-consuming certain carbs at the wrong times can result in more adipose than additional muscle weight, but this problem can be rectified by knowing which carbs do what and when they may be eaten for maximum results. But we must first try to determine how many carbohydrate grams are needed per day to produce more beef than a Texas cattle ranch. 
A bodybuilder’s carbohydrate RDA 
RDAThough not essential for survival, as the body may draw from both proteins and fats for energy purposes, carbs do provide the most efficient energy source for hard training athletes and, importantly for bodybuilders, may ensure that protein is spared (low carb diets can (not necessarily will) cause the body to leach protein from muscle to produce energy via gluconeogenesis).
However, achieving the correct carb consumption is complicated. When eating for performance and lean muscle gains, our activity level, the types of carbs we eat, our hydration status (it is crucial to be well hydrated when consuming a high carb diet), and many other mediating factors including rest, recovery, fat and protein consumption and our genetic makeup will affect how we respond to the carbs we consume. So closely monitor how your body adjusts to a particular carb regime and scale their intake up or down accordingly. Furthermore, even the best of carb ratios may result in poorly balanced blood sugar levels if not properly balanced with an adequate complement of protein and fat (see the previous articles in the series for recommendations on those).
So which carbs are best, how they might these affect performance and body composition?
Which carbs are best?
CarbsWhile all carbohydrates are classed as sugars and are ultimately converted into glucose before immediately being utilized for fuel or stored, primarily in the muscles or the liver, as glycogen, different carb sources, though possessing the same caloric composition per gram, can have vastly different effects. 
The two main types of carbohydrate are starches (polysaccharides, or complex carbs, which also include fibrous carbs such as leafy green vegetables) and sugars (monosaccharides and disaccharides). For athletic performance and general health and wellbeing (which is fundamental to ensuring optimal athletic performance), both carbohydrates types have their place, but it is the complex, starchy carbs that are most desirable. Some vegetables, grains, certain breads and pasta can be classified as starchy carbs, while sweets, cake, soda and many convenience snack foods comprise the sugars (there are also sugars – lactose and fructose respectively – in dairy products such as milk and, though often considered a healthy food option, fruits, and especially fruit juices). 
The aim for health conscious people, including bodybuilders, is to select only those carb sources that will provide the highest spectrum of nutrients and to avoid those ‘empty’, concentrated carbohydrates which include table sugar, soda and other nutritionally deleterious fare.
Not all carbs are created equal. Complex carbs release energy slowly and are more sustaining, whereas simple sugars are rapidly assimilated, which may cause an overabundance of insulin to be released which in turn may result in fat storage and hypoglycemia (low energy due to diminished blood glucose resulting from excessive insulin release). 
Aside from selecting carbs based on the rate at which they are processed as energy (which can be determined in part via the glycemic food index – see below), we must also choose them for their Vegnutritional benefits and fiber composition. For the most part, vegetables (all varieties, in particular fibrous types such as broccoli, spinach, and Brussels sprouts), whole grains, and certain fruits (for example, bananas, apples and blueberries) are superior, micronutrient dense carb choices which also contain phytochemicals (naturally occurring chemical compound which have specific health-boosting nutritional properties) and fiber (the indigestible part of plant foods which boosts digestive health, can offset diseases such as cancer and diabetes, lower cholesterol levels, and produce feelings of satiety). 
(Note from Ben: I would personallly recommend you consume the majority of your carbohydrates during your workout, immediately post, and in the hours following, when attempting to maximize body composition).
Simple sugars are not inherently evil from a nutritional perspective. Though nutritionally inert (relatively speaking) junk foods should be avoided, high sugar fruits and some high grade simple sugar based supplements such as Vitargo can be consumed directly after intensive weight training sessions to promote faster recovery and to rapidly top up our depleted energy reserves.
Sweet PotatoFinally, a good rule of thumb when choosing quality carb sources is to opt for brown: rice, potatoes with skins intact and so on; excellent energy-sustaining carb options, which also provide a generous serving of fiber. Refined carbs, which are heavily processed and stripped of their beneficial fiber like white bread, are largely to be avoided. 
How glycemic are your carbs?
The glycemic index (GI) numbers food items according to how fast blood sugar levels rise after consumption. Ranging from 50 (indicating a marginal effect on blood sugar levels) to 100 (indicative of a rapid rise in blood sugar, as would occur when ingesting pure glucose), the glycemic index ranks a wide range of foods but does not take into consideration additional factors which may influence how fast blood sugar may rise after carb consumption (such as any dietary fat consumed with this carb source, which may help to stabilize blood sugar levels). Low GI foods include: most sweet fruits, vegetables, beans and small seeds. High GI foods include: white bread and rice, potatoes, pretzels, bagels, and glucose. 
Carb up wisely
Don’t ditch the carbs completely; just try to ensure they are comprised of low glycemic, healthful items, and that we supply our muscles with sufficient glycogen with which to power through the toughest workouts (note from Ben: this doesn’t specifically mean that you need to eat them pre-workout, I’ve discussed this before in other articles). We also ensure that enough health-giving nutrients, including fiber (of which most adults get nowhere near enough), are available to support the building of stronger and larger muscles. Forgo the extreme low / non-carb diets in most cases, unless specifically carb cycling (another article) pre-contest or otherwise.

Saturday, 18 April 2015

Everything You Need To Know About Carbs

Carbohydrates are our bodies’ most important energy providers. We need carbs for our brains, for sports and weight loss. As they say, fat burns in the flame of carbohydrates.
In Frank Personal Training, you’ll learn everything you need to know about carbohydrates. Read on!
Runtastic Carbs

Carbohydrates are contained in…

Rice, wheat, corn, millet, rye, oat, barley, potatos, legumes, fruit (fruit sugar), as well as processed foods like bread, pasta, cakes, cookies, dough, sweets, etc.

Does sugar count as carbohydrates?

Yes. Glucose is the smallest and most frequent form of carbohydrates. It’s also often called dextrose, corn sugar or simply sugar. Our brain and nerve cells depend on the intake of glucose – only with glucose are we able to concentrate.
Runtastic Carbs

Empty carbohydrates or sugar

Carbs from foods made of white flour, from lemonades or pure sweets are called “empty carbs” as they don’t provide any benefits except for the sweet taste. Unlike complex carbohydrates, empty carbs go directly into our blood. As a consequence, blood sugar levels skyrocket, then drop quickly again, which makes us either feel tired or experience cravings.

Complex carbs or fiber

Whole grain products, lentils, beans, peas, quinoa, amaranth, buckwheat,… they all not only contain B Vitamins, folic acid, magnesium, calcium, iron and protein, but also fiber. The fiber contained causes blood sugar levels to rise slower, optimizes digestion, keeps us full longer and, therefore, helps prevent cravings.

A rule of thumb for your carb consumption

Carbohydrates should account for approx. 50% of your food intake.
Rule of thumb? Rule of “hand”: Depending on how active you are, you can include 1-2 handfuls of carbs in the form of pasta, rice, bread, etc. in every meal. Best choice: whole grain products.

Runtastic Carbs

Can carbs be stored?

Yes. Glucose is deposited in our blood, liver and muscles in the form of glycogen. “Carboloading” is based on this effect, too.

Carbs & sports

An experiment conducted by Dill, Edwards and Talbott demonstrated that carbs play a vital role as energy providers in sports: Dogs had to run without carbohydrate intake; after 4 – 6 hours they were tired and hypoglycemic. In the second round, the dogs were fed carbs while running and were able to keep going for 17 – 23 hours.
Therefore, it’s important to plan on ingesting carbohydrates before, during and after your training. Plus, if we just fill up on protein WITHOUT any carbs, the body might be able to use only 10% of the protein because of a lack of insulin (which is procuded by the body as soon as we eat carbohydrates).
So, carbs are just as important as protein when it comes to a balanced diet for athletes.

Thursday, 5 March 2015

Sleep Mistakes That Cause Weight Gain

It seems too good to be true that sometimes the best thing for your waistline is your bed and not the gym, but it works. Proper sleep is an essential component of any weight-loss program — especially when you need to have enough energy to fit in all those workouts! Stop the self sabotage and set yourself up for weight-loss success tonight by avoiding these mistakes.
  1. You don't make sleep a priority: Research has shown that those who are sleep-deprived tend to eat hundreds of calories more, not just because they are awake longer, but because sleep affects levels of hunger-regulating hormones. If you're constantly saving sleep for the weekends or always surviving on too little sleep, you could be causing your body to crave more food than it needs.
  2. You never get quality sleep: Even if you hit the hay at a reasonable time, if you're constantly waking up at night, it could cause your body to hold onto more belly fat, since you're more likely to feel stressed and anxious when you don't have quality sleep. Help ensure you fall asleep and stay asleep by creating a comfortable bedroom environment, turning off electronics at least 20 minutes before you go to sleep, and avoiding alcohol.
  3. You can't go to sleep without a snack: An ice cream nightcap may help lull you to bed, but even a little indulgence can add on thousands of calories by week's end. However, remember that it's not the best idea to go to sleep starving — you'll be more apt to give into cravings in the middle of the night or the next day — so be smart about your nighttime snack. These tips for preventing unhealthy late-night snacking will help you get on the right track.
  4. Instead of working out, you hit the snooze button: If mornings are the only time you have to fit in your workout, you won't make going to the gym a habit if you constantly choose the snooze instead. If you find yourself swept up in mindless TV and Facebook time before bed, cut out the distractions so you can be sure you go to bed early enough to feel ready for a 6 a.m. sweat session.

Tuesday, 13 January 2015

Training While Pregnant

Being pregnant can be an amazing time for mothers to be and there's no reason why you should stop exercising or training during the pregnancy. Here's our top tips for staying in shape if you're expecting.
Olympic gold medallist Jessica Ennis-Hill taking a group of lucky competition winners though some exercises and answering a few burning questions.
Jess is currently heavily pregnant but continuing to stay in great shape so that when she gives birth she can hit the ground running – literally – with her training plans.
With that in mind, I thought it would be great to share some top tips for you to bear in mind if you’re currently pregnant and looking to stay in shape – or if you’re lucky enough to be expecting in the future.
Before you begin exercising, remember that it is important to talk to your doctor. Exercise and pregnancy usually work well together, so they should be able to give you some excellent and specific advice to you.
If you exercised regularly up until your pregnancy, the chances are you can continue what you're doing, unless your activity is classified as high intensity. However, if you don't usually exercise, this is still a great time to start and your baby will definitely thank you for it. But, be aware of the changes your body is undergoing.
Being pregnant doesn't mean you have to stop exercising, and it doesn't have to mean being tired all the time.

Research shows that training while pregnant has numerous benefits, including: -
• Greater ability to handle the discomforts of pregnancy and labour.
• Easier to get back into shape and regain your normal weight after pregnancy.
• Faster labour, with less likelihood of induction.
• More positive, healthier feelings about pregnancy.
Training while pregnant helps you to be more prepared for the physical stresses of carrying a baby and labour. However, inappropriate exercise can be harmful for the mother or baby, so be sure to get your doctor or midwife's approval before beginning an exercise programme.

Top Tips to Exercising While Pregnant 

• Drink plenty of fluids, before, during and after any exercise, and avoid overheating. Be sure to always warm-up and cool down
• Wear loose fitting clothing, and comfortable non slip supportive shoes.
• Keep your heart rate under 140 beats per minute
• Past the first trimester, avoid exercising flat on your back – the weight of your uterus reduces the blood and oxygen flow to your baby.
• During aerobic exercise, you will find that you have less oxygen available, so lower the intensity of your normal routine.
• Your metabolism speeds up during pregnancy, so remember to eat a well-balanced diet.
• Your body produces a hormone called relaxin during pregnancy. This hormone softens joints and ligaments to make the birth process easier, so be careful not to overextend joints that may result in injury
• Do pelvic floor exercises every day and you'll help keep your back and spine strong, flatten your tummy post birth, and alleviate the problems with bladder and bowel control that are common after childbirth ( How to do Pelvic floor exercises below).

Pelvic Floor Exercises

The pelvic floor muscles form a sling-like band that surrounds and forms the base of your vagina, anus and urethra. These muscles also support all your abdominal contents, and your baby will pass through them as he or she is born. Strengthening these muscles is an extremely worthwhile and important activity.

How to do Pelvic floor exercises: -

1. Gradually tighten the muscles that you use if you want to stop the flow of urine when going to the toilet.
2. Try to do it without holding your breath, squeezing your buttocks together,
3. Hold the squeeze for several seconds and then relax slowly.
4. Now pull the muscles up tight and fast. Then relax. Then tighten them quickly again. Use clenching and opening your fist as a visual tool to help you imagine the movement.
While pregnant you must make sure you listen to your body and if at any time during exercise you feel extremely fatigued, faint, dizzy, light-headed or clammy, stop exercising and cool down.
The key tip here is that you need to listen to your body and based on what your body’s telling you, figure out a level of activity that works for you.
Most importantly this is a magical time in any woman’s life, so enjoy it!

Thursday, 4 December 2014


Looking to shred up while preserving muscle? Then you need to try sprinting. Use this easy-to-follow progression to start losing fat faster.

Sprints are hard. But they’re only hard for a little while, unlike the 30-45-minute steady state runs that are still the hallmark of so many routines. But those who are willing to push their stride to the max for a few brutal minutes are often rewarded with more burned bodyfat, a higher resting metabolism and more muscle preserved. The science is legion (and growing) but here’s a condensed helping of some of the awesomeness that interval-style sprinting has to offer.
>> Increases Power: Research suggests that high-intensity interval sprints can help to increase your body’s mitochondria count. More mitochondria, referred to lovingly as the “powerhouse” of your body’s cells, means more fuel burned and more energy produced by working muscles. This has enormous carryover to pretty much anything involving movement while also making you leaner and more powerful.
>> Increases Fat-Burning: Sprint workouts are, by nature, shorter so they may not burn as many calories as a typical steady-state workout. But a single session of high-intensity training can boost post-workout fat oxidation by 75 percent. Think that can help you on your way to Leanville?
>> Preserves, Builds Muscle: Oh, and did we mention that sprints are actually anabolic, meaning that they have the potential to build muscle? This is likely due to their emphasis on growth-prone fast-twitch fibers. This is a stark contrast to the muscle-wasting potential of extended steady-state sessions.
You might know all of this already. But, reluctant to subject yourself to the rigors of serious sprinting, perhaps you’ve not yet tested the validity of the science. And with so many studies out there, you may be wondering which protocol is right for a test drive?
Without burdening you with the many interval set-ups that have been tested, it is sufficient to say that there have been many. Test subjects have run sprints anywhere from 8 to 30 seconds long with rest as long as four full minutes. And, in general, the longer the sprint, the fewer of them are needed to elicit the touchdown responses you’re after.
For HIIT newbies, one great way to test the waters is to work on minute-long work/recovery bouts. That means you devote a certain portion of each minute to sprinting and the rest to recovery (walking or light jogging). This will allow you to work up to peak intensities repeatedly, without laying yourself out for the medics.
But as with any training methodology, progression is the key. Sprinting farther, faster or more often is ultimately what’s going to have you looking like an Olympian. This starter’s guide is a simple, effective way to introduce yourself to the benefits of sprinting over the next six weeks.
man sprinting
Week              Sprint Time            Recovery Time             Total Sprints
1                      10 sec.                        50 sec.                                   10
2                      11 sec.                        49 sec.                                    11
3                      12 sec.                        48 sec.                                    12
4                      13 sec.                        47 sec.                                    13
5                      14 sec.                        46 sec.                                    14
6                      15 sec.                        47 sec.                                    15
For each workout listed, you should first perform a dynamic warm-up that includes several minutes of progressively tougher activity. One example would be 20 seconds each of jumping jacks, jogging in place, leg swings, lunges, side lunges and jump squats. Ease into your workout with 1-2 minutes of light jogging before launching into your first sprint. For perfect interval timing, pick up a GymBoss ( to keep with you, download a free interval timer, or just watch the clock. 
>> Perform each week’s workout two – and no more than three – times per week.
>> You can perform these sprint workouts outdoors or on a treadmill. With the treadmill, you want to get the belt up to speed and simply step off, using the handles, for each recovery interval.
>> Don’t focus on percentages, VO2 maxes or heart rate. Simply run as fast as you can during each sprint and the rest will take care of itself.
>> Running form directly affects speed, which affects fat-burning. Keep your arms bent at 90 degrees and pumping aggressively alongside your body during each sprint. Crossing your arms toward your midline, even slightly, will alter your gait and bleed speed. Also, aim for a midfoot strike, as heel contact with the ground will add unneeded stress to your joints while also slowing you down.
>> For best results, perform your sprints on dedicated cardio days.

Tuesday, 14 October 2014

Protein Blends Are Best

WheyCaseinEggPercentPie copyResearch confirms that a protein blend outperforms whey protein alone
If you are still using a whey protein shake around workouts then you haven’t been listening to my advice over the last few years and you’re actually undermining your results. Just a few years ago we thought that whey was the absolute best protein source and only source to take before and after workouts. And it still is the best source of protein to take. It’s just not best to take it alone without other protein sources.
There is a growing body of research that now confirms that combining the fast-digesting whey protein with at least the slow-digesting casein protein is better for muscle growth than just going with whey protein alone. Some evidence suggests that an even better strategy may be to provide a medium-digesting protein, such as soy or egg protein to that mix of whey and casein.
Original Research
One of the first studies to suggest that adding casein to whey is best for muscle growth comes from Baylor University (Waco, TX). They discovered that trained men following a 10-week weight-training program and taking a whey/casein blend protein shake after workouts gained 4 pounds of lean muscle mass while experiencing a slight decrease in body fat. Another group following the same training program but taking whey without casein added to it did not gain any muscle mass over the ten weeks and had a slight increase in body fat.
Research from the Mayo Clinic (Rochester, MN) later found that the reason adding casein to whey protein demonstrates better muscle growth may be due to the different digestion and absorption rates of these two different proteins. Whey protein is digested and absorbed rapidly. This means that it delivers its amino acids to the muscles ASAP, which spikes muscle protein synthesis sky high. This is one property of whey protein that makes it superior to other protein sources, yet not perfect. Its speed of digestion and absorption is its benefit, but also its downfall. The problem with whey being absorbed so quickly is that it gets to the muscles and spikes muscle protein synthesis, but then it is used up and protein synthesis drops sharply.
Casein protein, particularly micellar, is digested and absorbed at a slow and steady rate. The research from the Mayo Clinic found that adding it to whey protein allowed the amino acids from casein to continue supplying the muscles long after the amino acids from whey were gone. Amino acid retention in the muscles studied was significantly higher 4 hours later when amino acid retention from whey was barely noticeable. This essentially prolongs the anabolic response initiated by the whey protein, which leads to greater muscle growth
New Research
The two latest research studies on protein blends versus whey alone come from the University of Texas Medical Branch (Galveston, TX). This lab, by the way, has been a leader in helping us better understand protein intake around workouts, muscle protein synthesis, and muscle growth.
The first study published in 2013 had men consume 20 grams of whey protein or 20 grams of a whey/soy/casein combo one hour after a leg workout. The combo was 25% whey (5 grams), 25% soy (5 grams) and 50% casein (10 grams). They reported in the Journal of Nutrition that both the whey protein and the mixed protein increased muscle protein synthesis to a similar degree. However, the mixed protein maintained that higher rate of protein synthesis for hours longer than the whey protein alone.
A 2014 follow-up study by the UTMB researchers also provided the same amount and kind of whey, casein, and soy blend protein shake or a solely whey protein shake one hour after a leg workout. They reported in the Journal of Applied Physiology that the whey, soy, and casein blend led to a prolonged and greater net amino acid balance. Taken with their previous study, these results basically mean that when you use a protein that contains a very fast-digesting protein (whey), a medium-digesting protein (soy or egg), and a very slow-digesting protein (casein) postworkout, more amino acids from the protein are taken up by the muscles for a longer period of time, they elevate muscle protein synthesis for a longer period, and they result in more muscle protein being built, which can result in greater muscle size and strength compared to if you took just whey protein alone postworkout.
Take-home points
Although both the UTMB studies, as well as the Baylor study provided the protein blends postworkout, I believe that you not only want a protein blend after workouts but also preworkout and/or during if you do a pre/during/post shake like, as well as any other time of day that you have may have a protein shake, such as in the morning when you wake, before bed, and between meals. The Mayo Clinic study supports this line of thinking as they supplied a whey/casein protein blend during rest and if further enhanced amino acid uptake in the muscle fibers. Plus, this recommendation has worked very well for thousands of people who have followed my advice over the years.
Although the UTMB researchers used soy as the medium-digesting protein in the blend with the fast-digesting whey and slow-digesting casein, egg also makes a great medium-digesting alternative. In fact, it can be argued that using egg is even better than soy since evidence suggests that soy is less anabolic than milk proteins (whey and casein) and egg protein. In fact, in my protein blend, I use egg white protein as the medium-digesting protein for a number of reasons. For one, it is more anabolic than soy. Another reason is that it is next to impossible to find soy protein that is non-GMO (genetically modified organism). Many people are fearful of the unknown health consequences of GMOs. And the third reason is that many still believe that soy will reduce testosterone levels and increase estrogen levels in males. Based on the real research, I feel that there really is no evidence or just very weak evidence that soy lowers testosterone. Yet, I still used egg for the other main reasons. Regardless of the source of the medium-digesting protein, the more critical elements of the blend appear to be the two milk proteins whey and casein.
What may be surprising about the UTMB studies to many people is that the protein blend used in the studies that proved to be superior to whey alone was only 25% whey protein and 50% casein. It appears that just a small amount of whey is needed to quickly get some amino acids to the muscle and spike muscle protein synthesis up to maximal levels. But then you need a bit more casein to keep amino acids going to the muscles for several hours later to keep muscle protein synthesis elevated for longer and promote greater muscle growth.
The UTMB researchers did not investigate different ratios of whey and casein. They used the same 25% whey, 50% casein, and 25% soy in both studies. This does not mean that this is the ideal blend, but it does show that just 25% whey protein should be adequate. The research that I have done in the actual gym with real hardcore lifters suggests that the best blend is actually 50% micellar casein (not caseinate), 40% whey protein, and 10% egg white protein. Although I don’t have data on protein synthesis or amino acid net balance in muscle fibers, I do have a lot of data showing superior gains in muscle size and strength from this precise blend compared to other ratios.  
Kerksick, C. M., et al. The effect of protein and amino acid supplementation in performance and training adaptations during ten weeks of resistance training. Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research 20(3), 643–653, 2006.
Soop, M., et al. Coingestion of whey protein and casein in a mixed meal: demonstration of a more sustained anabolic effect of casein. Am J Physiol Endocrinol Metab. 303(1):E152-62, 2012.
Reidy, P. T., et al. Protein Blend Ingestion Following Resistance Exercise Promotes Human Muscle Protein Synthesis. Journal of Nutrition 143(4):410-416, 2013 .
Reidy, P. T., et al. Soy-dairy protein blend and whey protein ingestion after resistance exercise increases amino acid transport and transporter expression in human skeletal muscle. Journal of Applied Physiology, In press, 2014 .

Saturday, 13 September 2014

Mistakes people make when trying to get in shape

1. Not creating great habits from day 1.
Getting lean is EASY… once you’ve created the necessary habits. 
Stay extremely diligent and focused for the first 4 weeks of any new nutrition protocol and create the habits necessary for success. It may be tough at first, but those first 4 weeks are the most important to your success. Saying “NO” to cheat meals, missing workouts, missing meals, not getting enough sleep, etc. As much as it may seem that your goal is far off at the start, this is the most important time for your long term success.
Make a few small sacrifices from the start, and the journey will be much less stressful, it will simply be a habit.
2. Not being concerned with your health as well as appearance.
If your body is healthy, it will function much better, feel better, recover better, and your mind will be more clear. Too many people are only focused on looks. 
3. Overdoing it.
More is not better. Better is better. Strategic progression is better. Work hard, work smart, and don’t beat your body into the ground. If you do, your mind will also find itself digging out from a trench. Stress and a feeling of being overwhelmed are inevitable.
4. Limiting food choices.
Variety when dieting is vital. So many foods have essential nutrients necessary for basic body function. It;s especially important to rotate proteins and fats. Variety will also prevent binging. Give yourself some choices and you will enjoy your food more.
5. Not eating a variety of proteins.
As above, eating ONLY egg whites and chicken breast is a recipe for disaster. Your body needs a variety of amino acids to function, detox, produce neurotransmitters, etc. Wild meats have the best nutrient profiles and, despite what most people will have you believe, you can get lean eating red meat. 
6. Eliminating fats.
Fats will not make you fat. Your body needs fats to survive and flourish. Use them wisely. Variety is a good idea here as well. A well balanced nutrition plan has plenty of omega 3, 6, 9, MCTs, and even saturated fat.
7. Not optimizing sleep.
If you train, you must recover. If you’re not sleeping 8 hrs on average, assume that your body isn’t recovering and your cortisol is constantly elevated. Bad news. 
8. Not varying cardio method.
Different cardio works different muscles. Doing the same thing over and over will get boring, and will also lose its effectiveness quickly. Variety will help tighten and tone additional muscles, as well as conditioning them for your weight training sessions. 
Not varying cardio method
9. Not varying cardio routine/intensity.
The goal of any cardio plan is to shock the body by subjecting it to something it’s never done before. This will get results the fastest. Too many newbies take this to mean you must do MORE, when it simply means you must do something different. Work hard, not necessarily longer.
10. Not strategically progressing your workouts.
On a 12 week prep, plan to make things harder each week. Just slightly. Add in volume, decrease rest periods, add in intensifiers little by little. Too many people show all their cards too soon and back themselves into a corner. Eventually your body will stop responding to what you’re doing and you’ll have nowhere to turn.
11. Not creating a MAP.
MASSIVE ACTION PLAN. A road map of exactly how you’ll progress each week. 
Personally I like to increase intensity/workload one week, then decrease calories a bit the next. Alternating this way until I get to my goal.
12. Listening to too many people.
There are thousands of ways to get someone into shape. All of which may work. This doesn’t mean they’re optimal. You may beat yourself into the ground, hate your life, and destroy your metabolism with many of these plans, so buyer beware. 
Ideally choose one SMART person, and follow their plan. If it doesn’t work, learn and move on. 
Thinking fat burners13. Thinking fat burners will do the trick.
Use “fat burners” for energy to work harder. Do not be under the assumption that they will have some miraculous fat burning benefits. The best fat burner is a set of gym shoes.
14. Taking too many stimulants.
As well as the reason mentioned above, stimulants will tax your adrenal glands and lead to adrenal overload. This can keep cortisol elevated over long periods. Bad news for fat loss. 
15. Not adjusting calories according to workload/output.
It’s a good idea to adjust calories according to the workouts you do that day. If you’re doing two hard weight sessions, you’re more likely to require additional carbs then if you’re doing one low intensity cardio session. Logic applies.

16. Doing too much too soon.
Going from zero to 100 when you first start a diet plan is a sure fire way to burn yourself out and guarantee failure. Make the smallest incremental changes you can while still seeing changes each day and each week. 
We all know someone that starts a diet with 12-16 weeks to go to their deadline and they’re already doing no carbs, and 2 hours of cardio a day. 
17. Alienating your support network.
You need people. We have all been guilty of closing ourselves off from certain people who may not understand our goals. Listen, I’m all for getting rid of toxic people in your life, but make sure you’re not making decisions you will regret. Sometimes a dieting/depleted brain isn’t rational. 
18. Relying on supplements.
You need FOOD. Whey protein and fat burners are tools. Not life sources. 
19. Trying to follow the latest fad diet instead of relying on work to get you there.
I could name a few recent diets that catch peoples attention because they seem to get you to your goal with less perceived effort and work.
Science is looking for the BEST possible scenario to get you there fastest. The people creating the fads though are marketers. Work hard and stick with the basics. 
20. Not getting uncomfortable.
Realize, ITS GOING TO HURT. You should become okay with this!
Find the joy in getting outside of your comfort zone and realize it will make you better in the long run. Trust me, each year after I compete, trivial tasks in life that people find difficult, no longer seem challenging. 
21. Not concerning yourself with detoxing, as well as limiting toxic load.
Toxic liver… sluggish metabolism, bottom line!
Detox, and avoid adding additional toxins. Toxins also massively affect brain function, and neurotransmitters which control mood energy, and motivation. 
22. Blindly following someone who has limited knowledge.
Just because someone has been in shape, or has gotten someone else in shape, doesn’t mean they know what they’re doing. EVER. You can get a chimpanzee shredded by feeding them cardboard and ice cubes. This doesn’t mean its optimal. If you’re PAYING for it, it should be optimal for you.
23. Not asking enough questions.
If you don’t know why, ask!
It’s important that you: A) learn, and B) know that there is a rationale behind your plan.
Not keeping track24. Not keeping track.
Keeping journals and records is one of the most under valued practices on the planet. I guarantee this will help you to stay motivated, and on the fast track to shredded. Sounds like a lot of work, but it’s just a matter of creating the habit. It takes 5-10 mins a day!
25. Not incorporating more full body work (HIIT, strongman, multiple body-parts).
The more muscles you can incorporate into a workout, the more you stimulate calorie burning. 
26. Getting stuck in the, “one body-part once a week” mindset.
For most people (99%) this is simply not enough to grow or make progress (unless you’re a newbie to training). Your muscles need to be stimulated regularly AND you will burn more calories the more often you stimulate muscles. An exception being pure mesomorphs like some top bodybuilders.
27. Not taking enough rest days.
Your nervous system and adrenals need off days. Take them weekly. 
28. Justifying bad habits/creating bad habits.
“I worked hard today”, “it’s only one time”, “it won’t hurt just this once”. The truth is, no it probably won’t hurt that one time. But that’s the bad part. Cause when you justify it once, you’ll justify it again. Guaranteed. Create good habits and stick with them!
29. Overdoing certain foods.
So many people get stuck in a routine of eating the same things over and over again. This can quickly lead to intolerance and inflammation. No bueno. 
30. Not spacing out workouts.
3 hour workouts are too long. Try doing cardio at a different time of the day instead of after weight sessions, or try splitting body-parts so that you train more frequently instead of longer.
Example: chest in the morning, biceps/abs at night – this is hard for some people due to their schedule, but it;s still ideal. 
31. Training too long.
Your energy will dip. Your intensity will suffer, and you won’t burn as many calories.
Training too slow32. Training too slow.
Chatty, chatty.
Keep the workout density high. Keep track of rest periods so you can use them as a tool for increasing the effort and workload of your workouts. 
33. Not taking advantage of nutrient timing benefits.
People are confused by a massive influx of contradictory information that runs rampant on the internet today. Make no mistake, nutrient timing absolutely matters.
It may not matter ALL the time, but there are certainly times of the day when eating certain foods will affect your performance, recovery, energy, and propensity to store body-fat. 
Now, for “average” people who don’t train, or are new to exercise, nutrient timing will matter much less. But those of us looking for an edge, learning some basic timing theory can go a long way. 
34. Undereating and so impeding performance.
To lose fat, you’ve got to rely on hard, intense workouts. Regularly undereating will leave you sluggish and unable to train at maximum effort.
This is a fine line that you need to toe on a day to day basis. Too many calories and you will get bigger or fatter, too few and your performance suffers. This is why recording what you do and eat is vital. Cycling nutrients has also been shown to be one of the best ways to make continuous progress.
35. Not taking naps.
Simple. The more often you can nap, the better. Within reason of course. Too much of a good thing can have negative effects as well. The best time to nap is immediately after a workout (eat first of course). This will have the effect of modulating your sympathetic nervous system and initiating the recovery process systemically.
36. Not “finding the joy” in what you’re doing.
Any able-bodied person better realize it’s a joy and a privilege to be training, and eating great food. Too many people spend their lives complaining about “having” to do something that they choose to do. 
Not many people “enjoy” cardio, but find a reason to appreciate it and find the joy. Example: a time to be alone, improve yourself, get shredded, improve your heart function, and you have the time and ability to DO IT! 
37. Gratitude.
Taking time to find the gratitude for the things you are, have, and do, will take you a long way toward a happy life. It seems simple, but focusing on gratitude will change your life. 
38. Sex.
Will NOT affect performance (unless its marathon sex).
Have sex. Often. It’s good for you. Makes you feel great, and creates a better relationship with your spouse.
39. Not setting big-enough goals!
“Set the type of goals that will make something of you to achieve them”~ Jim Rohn.
Goals that make you stretch, make you reach, force you to get uncomfortable and therefore create a better version of you.
40. Not believing in yourself!
Nothing in life is outside of YOUR control. Take your focus of control and put it right inside of you. YOU control your outcomes. Small victories will add up to large ones.
Not taking control of your situation. (“if I get in shape” etc., puts the control outside yourself).
The words you use can set the tone for success and failure. Take control of your words and take control of your situation. Failure is not an option. You do what it takes to get it done.