Yesterday was the first full cheat day that I had in quite some time. If you have been following along, I have been on a mission to get my body fat down to 10% or less and I have a firm deadline in place. I am finally starting to train hard again, a year after my knee injury. So, what does my current diet look like? Its very simple and there are no secrets. I have as much passion for fat loss, hypertrophy and diet/nutrition as I do for training, which is one of the reason’s I have been striving to make Newell Strength known for both. They go hand in hand, like 2 wheels on a bike. ‘The bike don’t work properly when both wheels aren’t working together’.
For the majority of the week, I have been doing a protein and fiber rich diet and low to moderate fat. I consume very little carbohydrate, coming in the forms of veggies. This is very similar to what I used to do when I was competing. Am I doing this for the long term? Probably not, rather I am using it to jump-start the fat loss process. On Friday nights I have been doing a small reefed, this past Friday nights meal consisting of five rolls of Sushi. This is just to get my through Saturdays workouts, yes that is plural. I’ll address the workouts in a minute. On Sunday nights, I have been doing a 3-hour window of ‘re-feeding’ to offset some of the downturns in metabolism that we will see when in caloric deficit. These include drop in thyroid levels, testosterone levels, IGF-1, leptin to name a few. So you see, these windows do serve a purpose. Here is the problem: most people focus too much on the re-feed or cheat, making it the sole purpose of the diet. I made this mistake too at one point in my more immature dieting days and it is surely a road to nowhere. And if you are too fat, say above 15% for a male and 25% for a female, you don’t really need a cheat meal window physiologically. You may need it psychologically and I don’t believe one meal per week will do any harm in your efforts, but for sure its not needed physically.
Back to my diet. Remember, this is for fat loss and body recomposition, which means trying to maintain a relative weight or in the neighborhood of 225 but shift the balance of muscle and fat. So far, its been working. My cheat day yesterday, which was a success, looked like this:
1. I started with a 40 gram Metabolic Drive protein shake with one cup of raw milk. I did this because I was starving and I wanted to at least control myself at my in-law’s Mother’s Day breakfast. I grabbed a coffee with a shot of espresso on the way to the breakfast (normal Sunday morning routine).
2. At breakfast, I had half a loaf of chocolate chip crumb cake, 8 mini chocolate and cream cheese strudels, 3 sausage links, 4 cage free whole eggs, 4 small pancakes, 1 cup of potatoes and some rasberries.
3. When we got home, I had 2 large cinnabon rolls with 1 large bowl of fruity pebbles. I took a nap, woke up and hour later and repeated the exact same meal along with some meatballs Devon had cooked up. I used vanilla almond milk with the cereal.
4. I sipped on two glasses of Jersey Devil wine while making my family burgers and such for my side of the family. I had an 8oz grass fed beef cheeseburger on a bun, one large baked potato, 1 cup of potato salad and a few French fries.
5. For dessert, I had 1 3×3 inch piece of ‘slutty brownie’ that Devon made, along with 3 scoops of ice cream.
6. To top it off, I had one more bowl of fruity pebbles before going to bed.
How do I feel today? Absolutely great, actually very hungry. This is one of the signs I look for after a full cheat day. I also woke up sweating last night, meaning I had to ‘disrobe’ down to my boxers in the middle of the night because my clothes were soaked. Notice that my cheat day had a purpose though, I was trying to get in as many carbs as possible to refill glycogen levels for the week ahead. Based on my hunger levels after breakfast, I’d say I fell a bit short.
Notice that some of what I do is based on my intuitive knowledge and some of it is based on science. All good coaches do this. I have been reading up a bit on Metabolic Typing and it reiterates the point that every single body is different. I know what works for me and I can replicate it time and time again. I do get a kick out of prospective clients that want me to ‘fix’ them in a month so they can be jacked and ripped. A good coaching relationship takes time to cultivate and for me to learn the athletes body.
And I am in the process of hiring my own personal coach for the next year, as I do believe in the value of having your own Coach, wouldn’t I be a hypocrite if I thought otherwise? Is it a necessity? No, but it is a time saver and a learning experience. As far as training is concerned, I am very concerned with a trend I am seeing and that is: people think they can just follow a nutrition plan and train half ass and get results. NO! You must train intensely along with your diet plan. Otherwise, you may lose weight, but we can do that by chopping off an arm too. If you are trying to re-composition your body, it is going to take some serious effort, not three 40 minute workouts per week. And cutting out on things like leg day or lower body day is not the right mentality. And if you tell me that you don’t have time, then that’s fine, but you won’t get the results you are after.
There is a big psychological and behavioral component to this as well but that is a different article for a different day. I will also be writing about metabolic destruction this week and why I follow the plan I am following after years of competing and chronic dieting. Stay tuned!
My First Night as a Professor at RVCC
I was recently asked to speak to an exercise science class at Raritan Valley Community College in central New Jersey. It was an honor as I am a teacher at heart and I can talk for hours about any topics related to this field or anything mind, body, spirit.
I went in with an agenda which quickly went out the window as I knew these students would want to know the ‘truth’ behind the curtains about much of what I know. So with that, I thought it’d be a good idea to share with you some of the things we talked about. If you have additional questions, please just post them below and I will answer them in an upcoming post.
- What do I certifications do I look for in prospective Newell Strength Coaches? –This was an easy one, NONE! I don’t like people that are stuck in their ways and I can teach anyone all the strength stuff I need to teach them. I look for personality. If you want to enter this field, the only correct reason to do so would be to help others. Just because you like to squat or workout hard is NOT a good reason to enter this field. Most personal trainers are bozos, if you want to be successful, go against the flow of what most personal trainers are doing.
- What supplements do I think are good? – You can keep most of them, because most are garbage. Supplements will comprise .1 of 1% of the results you will get. I have gotten ready for bodybuilding shows without even consuming a protein shake, I just trained, ate real food and drank plenty of water. People need to start looking within for results. With that, definitely get a nice dose of fish oil (~12g per day), creatine is great for ATP production and brain function, caffeine (i.e-coffee) and a lot of sea salt. My supplement list is really pretty simple, but very effective. BTW, I am posting some information at the end of this to show that creatine has been used up to 3 years on children with no adverse effects reported, so yes, it is perfectly safe for kids. (1)
- What do I tell someone that says they don’t have time to get healthy? –There is no such thing as not enough time. We all have the same amount of time each day, some of us just choose to maximize time and I am firm believer that you cannot reach your full potential of physical health is not part of that equation. What people should say is “I don’t place a high enough value on my health to make it a priority to work on it every day.” No B.S. here, I call it like I see it.
- What are my thoughts on testosterone boosters? –I had to chuckle when I heard this question. I gave the straight up truth on it and told the guy, if you are going to use testosterone boosters, get your ass to a doctor and get on the real stuff. I made it clear that I don’t recommend this for anyone younger than 25 but I did emphatically state that it was very safe and went on to tell the class that from people in the know, 95% of all pro athletes are using testosterone and the like. The class was captivated by this topic and I only had one guy come up at the end and say he loved everything I had to say except for the part about steroids. As usual, this young man had his mind infiltrated by media morons. He tried to refute the fact that alcohol as more dangerous by a long shot than anabolic steroids saying the numbers said that only because more people used alcohol. I said you want a case study? “If 95% of professional athletes are using, where are all the dead bodies?” To which he replied “ya, but they don’t live that long.” He should have just said, you got me, I give up. Point made.
- Food and nutrition came up a lot and I spoke bluntly about it. You name it, raw milk, grass fed beef, whey protein, etc. and I had the facts to back it up. I explained the importance of micronutrition and the ‘spirit of the food source’, which is a new term I made up to describe how the food was grown, what it ate, etc. In fact, the professor was asking me after class if we could look into offering my theories as a nutritional course at the school.
- Finally, we talked about injuries. In particular, one kid wanted to know if there were any foods that strengthened ligaments- Not really. When I was in full recovery mode, I made sure to get plenty of water, fish oil and calories as I wanted to body to have extra energy to heal itself. I also explained the link to pro athletes and the fact that their very livelihood depends on recovery from injuries and thus the reason they use performance enhancing drugs. In fact, I told them to use their heads….do you really think Kobe, Urlacher, A-Rod and more are going to Germany to get platelet therapy? You can get that done at any doctor in town. No, they are going there to get a cycle of deca, EQ, or primabolan, all three anabolics known to enhance tendon and ligament strength up to 300% more than normal. Remember, their morals are your morals, just as your morals aren’t their morals either, so don’t judge.
Maybe next time I will video record it so I can post it for you to watch. As always, if you have any questions, fire away!
***First, the links on the right side of the page for the basketball prep camp and the Fall Seminar are now working***
When I design nutrition programs for my clients, about 50% of the time I get a response such as, “What?! That’s too many carbs and calories before bed!”. I then go on to explain my theories and what I have found to be true regarding nutrition.
The last time I competed in a bodybuilding show, I started placing my carbs, around 100-150 grams in my last meal before bed. I would sleep like a baby and feel fully charged in the morning. And I continually got lean, lean enough for a bodybuilding stage and to do pretty damn well.
The media has been saying no carbs before bed for years, but they were wrong. If we wake up and train or wake up and start our day, then hold off on breakfast until we are hungry, then we will be in a constant fat burning state. I am even examining how to make some superior coffee with raw butter and coconut oil to keep me going and satisfied for the first few hours of the day.
Carbs before bed will allow an influx of seratonin and satiety which will enable you to sleep better and more restfully. Also, think about it, by the end of the day, after training and expending energy, your muscles are like vacuums, wanting to refill on glycogen (carb energy). I am a big advocate of intra workout nutrition and I do feel that carbs can be placed in and around the workout, particularly if the workout is at night. If you workout in the morning, then I would normally forgo the carbs. I have always been able to workout on an empty stomach with no ill side effects. And that ‘anabolic window’ you’ve heard so much about is more of a myth. That windown doesn’t close until you ingest the proper nutrients. Again, if you workout, then go all day on lower carbs, the muscles will be primed to for the intake before bed.
I am half way through the carb loading book by Kiefer and I will report back more on what he says. But the carb before bed myth is more of a calorie equation, doctors figuring that most people eat the most at night and most people eat predominantly carbs…so cut them out, cut cals out…
But there is more to the story guys, especially if you are hard training. I will be talking more about peri-workout nutrition later this week. In the mean-time, check out the 5 minute video about salt below..told ya so.
The more and more research I do into nutrition, the more I realize how little I knew 10, 5 and even 1 year ago. Now that is not to say that I knew nothing, I believe I know far more about nutrition than the average person would ever want to know. But I do know that new research is coming out daily and we have to adapt.
If you look at what we have been taught as a whole and then look around at the physiques, something isn’t quite working. I could shoot a gun blindfolded and hit one of the many mis-truths we have been told, but I will start with breakfast.
If you eat breakfast, eat either cage free whole eggs or grass fed beef. You can cook them in a little raw butter, but you shouldn’t need much more. Your brain will get the fats it needs and you will stay full far longer than if you had a traditional breakfast of juice, toast and so on. Insulin is a powerful drug and we would rather use it later on the in the day around our workouts.
Secondly, if you arent’ hungry, don’t eat. If you wake up and aren’t hungry to eat, then wait until you are hungry. You will burn far more body fat this way as the body’s reserves should be lower and don’t worry, you won’t burn muscle. That’s a bunch of BS.
Make these two simple changes to your nutrition plan and see what happens. Give it a week or two and you will be pleasantly suprised. Oh ya, as far as breakfast being the most important meal of the day, that’s marketing driven just like low sodium, low fat, etc and so on. Tomorrow I will be talking about another BS nutrition mis-truth that goes against everything you have ever heard…
The above pic is from one of my favorite scenes of The Office in which Dwight and Michael follow the gps directions right into a lake. It was hilarious but it also reminded me of how reliant people have become on these tools. They do make things easier but what happens when it fails or you don’t have one? I kind of felt this way 10 years ago while I was searching for someone, anyone to help me with structured cheat meals. At the time, in college, there were zero professors that could even fathom what the hell I was talking about and there were very few guys in the world that knew the science behind injecting calorie spikes into a diet.
I knew intuitively that they worked and they worked better the leaner I got. I experimented with how much I could get away with and for how long of a time period without actually putting fat on. I had my own body and data to go despite there being very little research on the topic. I then came across the ABCD diet which had some of the research and I experimented with my cheat days while getting ready for a bodybuilding show. That took guts because it was unheard of in the bodybuilding world and there was nothing else to go on or to compare what I should expect from it. I did know that if I was ripped that it would be impossible to get fat in a day. Physiology doesn’t work that way. I then found Scott Abel who was my coach for some time and he had some science to back up the phenomenon.
I always make sure to put a cheat meal in the clients plans. Most have guilt or fear and I explain that it actually helps hormonally and mentally. I won’t go crazy with the science here as I have written probably 10 articles on the topic elsewhere, but I will explain what should happen after a good cheat meal. If you are missing this cues, you did it wrong or didn’t need it.
So, for my cheat meal last night, I had 2 glasses of Jersey Devil wine, 2 Five Guys cheeseburgers with fries and half a tray’s worth of brownie sunday. The food went down easy and I went to bed shortly after. I woke up to urinate twice during the night and one of the times I had to stumble into my office to get a cup to fill up with water due to extreme thirst. This will happen when you have large amounts of sodium and a good cheat meal and the thirst will carry over to the first half of the next day. My eyes felt a little groggy waking up this morning due to a slight food hangover (these are worse with cheat days). Not to get too graphic, but you should have excellent bowel movement(s) the next day. A good cheat meal will help to get you going and flush you out. Energy in the gym should be excellent and sweat rate should be higher than normal. Appetite will not be too apparent for the first half of the next day, also depending on how lean you are and what type of nutrition plan you are on. These are the immediate things you should be looking for and if they are present, you hit the nail on the head.
I will write about this more if there is interest, but remember, you can browse through the site and find more detailed articles I have written on the topic, also for www.elitefts.com. The goal here was not to explain the science as that gets rather boring but to show you what should actually be happening in the real world. Again, good luck finding this from an RD or nutritionist….
Lets get to 10,000 strong people…
Right now, I am trying to gain some size in anticipation of my upcoming bodybuilding show this Spring. When I say size, I don’t mean getting fat, although I am developing a little double chin right now:). Quite a few people have been emailing me about what I eat on a daily basis. Here is a typical list from a day for me right now:
-8 oz grass fed beef, coffee, 1 cup raw milk, almonds
-8 oz ground cage free turkey or cage free chicken, 1 avocado
-6 cage free whole eggs
-1 piece of fruit
-1 shake or 2 cups raw milk
-dinner: usually chicken or salmon-8 oz, sweet potato and green
I have almond butter or natty peanut butter when I feel the need or when I am still hungry. I will be hitting my supplements up tomorrow, stay tuned, but in the meant time, check the video out below….
So I just got into my hotel room after driving 500 plus miles out to the Elite seminar. I stopped about 10 times to pee and I documented the trip out, so stay tuned for the video. And I feel damn smarter after driving out there, I got to listen to about 6 audio cd’s on various business and mindset topics as well as spoke to a few successful alpha males on the phone. A quick bed time story for you:
(whatever you do, don’t be this guy)
I went into GNC today to pick up some Syntha 6 protein from BSN. I was getting ready to leave for my trip and I knew exactly what I wanted. Keep in mind, that protein power is a very small part of my nutrition plan, usually I only have one shake per day, sometimes none. So the Syntha 6 has been on sale for like 27 bucks and it tastes good and its a reputable brand. I walk straight over to it and the GNC man-boy asks me what I am looking for. “Already found it,” I say.
He goes on to explain to me the difference between whey and casein protein and how syntha 6 is only good if I use it before bed right after a workout. I told him thats perfect because that is exactly when I workout, lol.
Keep in mind, I am just trying to get out of there as fast as possible. I dare not mention who I am or my qualifications to blow our GNC man-boy back to GNC school. So even after I agree with him about how this is the perfect protein for me, he tells me I would do much better on this other brand. Again, keep in mind I got 100 pounds on this guy of pure muscle. I tell him I’m good and he starts saying how for what I am doing, this other new brand is best. Didn’t I already concur with his timing theory? It was like he didn’t even here me. And then when I keep telling him I will go with the BSN, he keeps saying, “your call” and rolling his eyes. I was having trouble keeping a straight face at this point, haha. Bottom line is, don’t be a dweeb. Use some reality math and notice things like if the guy you are selling to at GNC is 2x your size, he might actually know what he is talking about. Don’t be a dweeb!
Lyle was kind enough to take a few minutes out his busy day to have an interview with me for Newell Strength. Please be sure to check out his stuff on his website as he is a master at diet and nutrition. Enjoy!
1. Can you please tell my audience a little bit about yourself?
A: My name is Lyle McDonald, depending on who you talk to I’m either one of the smartest guys or the biggest pains in the ass in the field. Not that those are mutually exclusive. I’ve been a mediocre athlete my entire life and graduated from UCLA with a degree in physiological sciences in 1993.
Since I became interested in sports (around the time I was 15) and human performance, I’ve dedicated basically my entire life to the science and physiology of performance, training, nutrition, supplements and everything else related to the topic.
Most of this was in an attempt to be a better athlete myself; I was just lucky to turn my personal passion into a career. Along with maybe a few sub-interests (monkeys, video games and porn), it’s all I care about and all I’ve cared about for nearly 25 years.
I take predominantly a scientific viewpoint to the topic. I’m not saying that empirical or anecdotal evidence isn’t useful or relevant but there are too many variables and it’s too easy to rationalize, cherry pick or justify after the fact. I like to see research on a topic.
2. I know that you are an expert in sports nutrition. With that being said, what are 2 of the most important nutrition principles for hypertrophy?
Eating sufficient calories and consuming sufficient protein
What are 2 of the most important nutrition principles for getting lean?
Creating a caloric deficit and consuming sufficient protein
3. Do these principles change with age?
A: Not in any meaningful way. The numbers may change in terms of the absolute surplus or deficit but the fundamental principles do not.
4. What are the top supplements as far as being effective for performance?
It depends on how you are defining performance since it’s not a single category. For strength/power athletes or those seeking hypertrophy, creatine is a must although it can affect making weight. It’s as proven as anything out there with hundreds and hundreds of studies. For glycolytic athletes, beta-alanine is accumulating research and is worth considering; dosing it is a pain in the ass. Bicarbonate works too so long as it doesn’t give you explosive diarrhea. For endurance types, there’s less out there that’s really proven. Caffeine improves just about everything and the only problem I have with caffeine is when there’s not enough of it.
5. I know you are quite an accomplished athlete yourself. Can you tell us 3 key principles of strength training that are pretty much universal for athletic performance?
I don’t know if I’d say I was particularly accomplished. What I am is driven and obsessive and there’s a big difference. I’ve done a lot of different things but I wasn’t ever particularly great at any of them.
And again, athletic performance is too vague an end point to give a useful answer to the question. That principles of strength training might apply to a given athlete depends on the nature of the sport (i.e. strength/power vs. mixed/team sport vs. endurance athlete), the athlete and what their strengths and weaknesses are. But I guess if I were pinned down I’d say this
1. Progressive overload trumps all: if you’re not getting stronger over time, your program isn’t working.
2. Don’t get injured. I don’t care what else you do in the weight room, if your athlete is hurt, he’s not progressing. For all but a couple of sports, weight training is at most general physical preparation. But people get hung up on hitting big numbers and start doing stupid stuff, getting hurt.
3. Weight training should never be emphasized over the sport itself. Again, with the exception of about two sports (Olympic lifting and powerlifting) where the weight room training is the sport, weight training for athletes is secondary to being able to do their sport. If you wreck your guys or yourself in the weight room to the point that they can’t practice their sport effectively, you have it backwards.
6. You have achieved a great deal of success thus far. Can you speak briefly about how you got to where you are? Do you use goal setting? Daily planning? Visualization? Hard work? How do you balance it all?
I have? As above, I’ve been at best a mediocre athlete my whole life although I’m arguably better suited to endurance sports than I was to strength/power sports (Tho I do miss the weight room). Mainly I combined obsessive compulsiveness, doing everything wrong at some point and learning from it (eventually), lots of planning and working my ass off.
7. Finally, where can my audience find out more about you and your ideas?
I regularly update and maintain my website at www.bodyrecomposition.com (www.lylemcdonald.com will also get you there), there are over 300 free articles there and my books can be purchased there. Putting my name into Google will also turn up endless hits since I’ve been on the Internet since about 1993. Who need SEO when you have a mild form of OCD and no life?
The reason I love training athletes so much is because I have been in their shoes, I have been in their mind. When I was a junior and senior in high school, I wanted to get bigger so badly that I often ate until I puked. I did not do this on purpose, but the drive was there and I knew that I had to drive the body out of its comfort zone to get the muscle that I wanted. When an athlete tells me he is eating good and a lot, I ask to see his nutrition journal. It is says 2 eggs and cheerios for breakfast, you can be sure as heck that they are going to get an earful from me. Does that even sound like it is a breakfast for a young athlete that wants and needs to get bigger? Cereal is garbage and you should be eating 6 to 8 whole eggs (cage free) for breakfast. The whole idea is to make the body step out of its comfort zone. Training as a young athlete is as much mental as it is physical. You have to put a 10 in to get a 10 out, nothing less.
I have been doing a lot of research as always into the best nutritional strategies for myself and my athletes. The main concern is to get bodyfat down (8% for males, 18% for females), health and performance. You don’t want one side of the triangle to suffer in place of the others. A fellow strength coach has been eating a paleolithic type of plan and has been liking his results. I also know that Poliquin favors this type of eating for all his clients. Basically if a caveman didn’t have access to it, you shouldn’t eat it. My bodyfat is down one percent in the week since starting. There are many different options to this plan, but I would definitely stick with the meat and nuts breakfast. I am also looking into the optimal amount of carbs for each person based on a few other books and it will take trial and error for each client. However, the option is, you don’t need to make it rocket science, try the paleo approach for a few weeks, if you like it, go a few more. I would recommend one cheat meal per week on this to help with metabolism and psychology. You will be pleased with the results. Do not worry about counting calories, your body will dictate that. Peace-K