Intermittent Fasting for Weight Loss

Lifestyle, Uncategorized

While there are a number of benefits and drawbacks of intermittent fasting, one may consider it a somewhat extreme approach. Due to the duration of a typical ‘fasted’ period, a lot of people may implement I.F into their daily routine without realising, yet it is a term which some namedrop as a means of asserting their knowledge and overwhelming those as though it has been the best kept secret of the last few decades. Ultimately, fasting diets aren’t new to the fitness community, nor should they be packaged and sold to an unsuspecting ‘client’, amongst every other fad and scam, they are just another option for weight loss. For Muslims during this month of Ramadan, fasting will commence at dawn until sunset, making the time in-between a critical period of replenishing the first days energy stores whilst substantially covering the second. The more generic application of intermittent fasting which many athletes and the like endorse with the goal of ‘fasting to utilise fat as energy’ has certainly awarded I.F both intrigue and scrutiny even more so.

The fasted period requires the individual to refrain from consuming anything containing calories. For muslims, water and even chewing-gum must not be touched during said time, yet it is common for the majority of the non-religious to drink water, with an exception of zero calorie drinks –likely containing caffeine– to surpass the initial hunger upon waking or further cravings post-workout. Ultimately, the total calories consumed during the ‘eating’ period total a day like any other, which is often the scepticism of intermittent fasting in toto. Yes, only so much of the nutrients consumed during such a period may be sufficiently absorbed and utilised at once, yet it is often the restriction of intermittent fasting which makes it a valuable tool against the downfall of us all, snacking.

For people that may fast for around nineteen hours and eat for five, the aforementioned restriction will almost certainly delight a smart eater to choose the next foods wisely, one with energy and performance at the mercy of one unfulfilling snack. Consuming foods that are calorically dense will ensure a consistency of energy, as opposed to an incidence of irregular peaks and troughs –see Summer Blues & The ‘Juicing’ Craze— a spike in blood sugar, a crumble to cravings. So what can you expect from a typical day of intermittent fasting? Well it can be said that a lot of people struggle to eat first thing in a morning. Whether this is due to the fact that they can’t stomach food so soon upon waking or preparing breakfast gives them even less time in bed, there must be some relief to missing the ‘most important meal of the day’?

The problem lies with the fact that missing breakfast makes the rest of the day a mere game of catch up. One that may not go down so well for someone that only gets an hour lunch –or even less– whether it’s all day at a desk or one of ‘hard graft’ Blood sugar and cravings aside, the short term reward aspect of food either during a break or at the end of such a day would entice anyone without an ever-looming date requiring them to look their ‘best’ So how could Intermittent fasting solve this problem? Well I myself am not one to eat pre-cooked meals out of tupperware at various inconvenient points in the day, despite the incline to others. I don’t believe this is necessary to satisfy the more generic goal of overall health and weight loss, but alike I.F, it is a systematic approach which reiterates the importance of food choices. The freedom of choice is a concept that most people looking into the lifestyles of those eating to fuel rather than enjoy, burden themselves into the abyss of snack-filled binges. Although it is these times in which we can reassess the value of foods, now that only the initial enjoyment has any bearing, to a diminishing course of habit.

Fasting reinforces the value of foods that may not be deemed necessity, and highlights the inconvenience of foods containing redundant or ‘sabotaging’ macros, yielding only a short term relief in a 24 hour period. Said macros may total one’s overall caloric intake, yet may still be a fraction of the nutrients required to support a demanding workout routine or busy lifestyle in general. All in all, intermittent fasting is a useful tool for those who tend to eat later on in the day, and can appreciate the fact that snacking as opposed to consuming substantial meals is often a familiar occurrence.

For anyone that’s interest here’s an illustration of the typical fast/feed splits of Intermittent fasting, use at your pleasure or at your peril.

Screen Shot 2016-06-13 at 23.55.05.png

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What is Carb-Cycling?

By now we’ve covered the main dietary practises which contribute to changes in body composition; ‘lean bulking’, which consists of strict caloric control in a surplus –the point that proceeds maintenance– and ‘cutting’, a gradual reduction of carbohydrates, when completely necessary. So just like the need to reinforce a reduction of carbohydrates with healthy fats to ensure sound energy levels, it is equally essential to refuel the now depleted glycogen stores as a result. Carb cycling is one of the many methods used by bodybuilders and professional athletes that need to ‘make weight’ without sacrificing energy and thus performance. It supports meticulous manipulation of macronutrients to such a degree that it acts in similar ways to that of sodium and water manipulation, a progression that may seem extreme to the everyday dieter, yet it is highly effective nonetheless.
Now depending on how much one may aim to lose and whether or not carb cycling is absolutely necessary, it is a process that requires consistency. Most people tend to split a week into days of eating either ‘low’, ‘medium’ or ‘high’ carb. This is an attempt to utilise potential fat stores as energy during ‘low’ days, to then maintain the foundation and preserve as much muscle as possible during the remainder. The extent to how much muscle –as opposed to fat–  is used as fuel is a fear know as going ‘catabolic’ the antithesis of ‘anabolic’ a notion bearing yet another marketing upheaval for ‘post workout’ supplements and the like. Ultimately, and this is assuming that you have a somewhat solid foundation of muscle to begin with, you probably won’t be going ‘catabolic’ you just won’t be looking as full on less carbs and therefore less water. Recognising that this process will do exactly that whilst being able to sustain on less fuel without re-carbing at every opportunity, will provide a visual bearing on potential weight loss in the days that follow. If you can imagine someone that is preparing for a photoshoot or stepping on stage for a competition, one that requires the individual to be in ‘peak’ condition, it would have required a long process of looking nothing like what you see in pictures to obtain the eventual desired outcome. In this regard, if you’re considering carb-cycling in conjunction with physically demanding sports or training programmes, be aware to prioritise the bulk of your macronutrients around days that require optimal effort.
There’s no magic number when it comes to ‘low’ days, and almost every initial carb-cycle is complete trial and error. Depending on the goal and the time frame in which this is to be ascertained, one may implement three, four or even five consecutive low days followed by a ‘re-feed’ –high day– For the most part, ‘re-feed’ days assists specific points in a diet which may have progressed to lower numbers, granting both a physio’ and psychological break from quite simply, systematic malnourishment. This is not the same as a ‘cheat day’ and while the mental implications of purging certain food cravings are beneficial, overindulging could potentially set you back a few days of hard dieting. In terms of energy stores and using carb cycling to the most effective degree, most people tend to put high days or ‘re-feed’ days either the day of or a day before a heavy/demanding split i.e legs or back. This ensures that performance isn’t compromised, though it is equally essential to conserve energy in the form of doing more reps with less weight as opposed to burning out from chasing 1RM’s or PR’s.
‘So do I need to carb cycle to lose weight?’
No. Carb Cycling is certainly a useful tool that one can implement to assist further weight loss, but it is not the only one by any means. As we have previously referred to a gradual reduction of carbs in ‘Should I start ‘Cutting’? it would be just as effective to maintain such a process if it is providing results and ultimately showing on the scale. Carb cycling is more of a system which allows for a prioritisation of energy levels during periods where overall caloric intake is scarce, as carbohydrates are a fundamental source of energy. In situations where there has been a sudden drop in carbohydrates, or a significant increase in overall output, it is vital that said stores are substantially replenished, for them to continue to assist performance.
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Should I start ‘Cutting’?


So like my last post concerning ‘The Lean Bulk Myth’, it is worth noting a few common misconceptions surrounding ‘cutting’ and the further implications improper practise of such a process can have on the body. While ‘bulking’ and ‘cutting’ are terms that are commonplace within the fitness community, a wider application of these norms on behalf of the everyday person has meant that the true function of each ‘extreme’ has now became somewhat misconstrued. Now I can respect the fact that there are plenty of guys and girls out there whose interests aren’t centred around fitness or competitive sports, but quite frankly, it is the malpractice on behalf of these types of people that is the source of the problem.

First of all you can’t just go and ‘cut’ carbs. Carbs are a fundamental component of any diet, the main source of fuel in fact, and like insisting on driving your car when the petrol light comes on, it’s risky business. Both misconceptions come from the literal ambiguity of ‘cut’ in context; this can either suppose a substantial reduction of carbs or even a complete removal of them from one’s diet entirely. If you’ve ever had personal training or any assistance concerning a particular diet, you’ll know that your trainer/dietician will more than likely incorporate gradual as opposed to abrupt alterations. In this respect, and here we’re focusing on carbs as opposed to overall calories, failing to be aware of the timing of such a reduction is the first mistake. Whether it’s a looming date for a holiday or one particular event where the clothes you’re planning to wear are a fair few inches too small, you want to avoid ‘peaking’ too early.

Now I can accept that everyone is at different levels in this regard, nevertheless, the first few lbs are always the easiest to lose, regardless of whether your approach is somewhat systematic or a straight up panic. People go on last minute holidays, may not have to time to exercise regularly or simply have not been informed on the correct ways to diet, but there’s a fine line between ‘cutting’ and straight up starving. What many won’t be aware of, and something that I have previously failed to apply to a reduction of carbs was the requirement of replacing them with healthy fats; olive oil, avocado, nuts etc. If anything is removed or reduced from your diet, most of the time, a levelling alternative is required. This does not condone spooning out a full jar of peanut butter by any means, but forms a somewhat caloric safety net at the base of summit you just jumped off by suddenly cutting carbs. If such a substantial reduction is absolutely necessary, attempt to work comfortably between the point of being full from clean sources and being able to function on less.

In addition, –and this tends to apply to girls more so than lads– while cutting carbs may seem like an opportunity that provides a somewhat immediate improvement, it only prolongs their effect and ultimate sensitivity, thus making bloating much more likely. Think about how the effects of alcohol are tenfold when you’ve had a significant break from drinking and how only a few may suffice an entire night. The body’s reaction to anything becomes much more averse in absence, and it’s the same with food. Not to mention a complete removal of something you clearly can’t live without isn’t exactly logical, alienating the restrictive nature of dieting by its connotations, the thing that prevented you from eating ‘X’ or ‘Y’. If ‘X’ or ‘Y’ for you was in fact ‘P’ for pizza, realistically there has to be some sacrifice somewhere, unfortunately.

So where does this leave us? Well regardless of whether you count macros, follow a rigorous diet, aim to gradually reduce carbohydrates or simply want to put an end to bad habits, energy is key. For a healthy guy that wants to gradually cut away at the subcutaneous fat covering a solid build of muscle, there may be a very fine line between burning fat or the hard work of winter. This makes a sudden reduction of carbs not only problematic in the preservation of muscular tissue but in the sacrifice of energy levels even more so. What I would suggest, and coming from someone eight months into a ‘bulk’ despite plans to go on holiday in June, don’t necessarily eat less, just do even more. Unless you’re competing for a show and being as lean as possible is a fundamental requirement, a week of looking half decent is definitely not worth the burden of having no energy for six, twelve or eighteen, believe me.

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The ‘Lean Bulk’ Myth

Now as some of you may have realised by now, when it comes to the fitness industry, you’re only as good as the words you use. This lovely range of clichés and buzzwords has awarded the average Joe a degree in nutrition, got him on the judging panel at the Olympia and way up in your girlfriend’s DM. This being said, there’s one term that ironically takes the cake as it were. A combination of two buzzwords to form the ultimate one…
‘lean-bulking’ Now as much as ‘lean-bulking’ gets thrown around, you can’t help but notice its ability to define just as well as contradict. In the same way that that people quote from great literature out of context, or celebrities who claim it as their own, words are like faces, employed purely on their marketing value.
In a nutshell ‘lean-bulking’ is a term creating a misconception amongst the ‘I wanna be big but like ripped aswell’ community. The misconception, that one can add — here’s another one — ‘lean mass’ simultaneously without gaining fat. Okay, being in a healthy caloric surplus i.e consuming just over your maintenance calories, will at the very least provide you with enough fuel to complete your weekly routine. Often along with the facility of having extra calories left over. However, unless you can consistently manipulate these extra calories to such a specific point just over maintenance but enough to ‘bulk’, its more of a hopeless stab in the dark that’s gonna leave you with energy one day and none another. For someone that’s ‘lean bulking’ it is equally important to control the length of time such a period takes, Whether it’s either gain of 0.2 or 0.5KG a week.
 For someone with an active lifestyle, the weight goal difference between 0.2 and 0.5KG may not differ so much –depending on the individual– making a gradual 3KG weight gain at least somewhat realistic. Although it is worth noting such a difference in calories between the two. Those 270cals might not seem significant, but in hindsight this is more than half a full days worth of calories in a week, a day in two, two in a month. It is this similarity in calories which relates the previous window between ‘lean-bulking’ and just ‘bulking’ If for example  3,510 was maintenance and 3,780 surplus, the 270 would be the window in which enough calories are consumed to build muscle, without going overboard.
Considering the above, the time frame in which this takes place can usually determine whether it is in fact ‘lean mass’ or just fat. I’d like to think that this is now common knowledge but there are plenty of people that insist on abusing a somewhat caloric freedom, sweetened up by additional strength and of course the additional sweet(s)
So where does this leave ‘lean-bulking’? Well unless you weigh your food, already have a solid foundation or are prepping for a competition, ‘lean-bulking’ is a mere safety net term for those sceptical about gaining weight or people that wanna make pigging out to excess sound edgy. The truth is, unless you can be firm enough about what it is that you want — weight loss or weight gain — sitting on the fence will only prolong such a process. As previously mentioned in More on Macros and ‘The Bulking Fear’ the necessary parameters for muscle gain all revolve around how much fuel your body has, input vs output. Recognising another generic application of ‘lean bulking’ little to no fat gain whilst gaining as much muscle as possible, its far fetched to say the least. This is where having the ability to sieve through onslaught of false pretences on behalf of professional athletes comes in handy. Regardless of whether someone’s drug-free, drug-using, natty, half-natty and all the other BS terms concerning their physiological capacity, as far as ‘lean-bulking’ goes, again, it depends entirely on the individual:
Individuaectl A.
  • Less cardio
  • Eat consistently in a surplus of calories
  • Train heavier
  • Less reps
Individual B.
  • More cardio
  • Gradual surplus of calories whilst assessing its effect on weight
  • Train lighter
  • More reps
I can appreciate that this is a rather general depiction of body types, nonetheless, when it comes to ‘lean-bulking’ it is not merely a matter of eating MORE of the right foods, it is one that relies fundamentally on calorie CONTROL. Regardless of whether the calories are from ‘clean’ or ‘dirty’ sources, it ultimately means nothing at either end of the spectrum, considering that input and output are not substantially adhered to.
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Should I take Test-boosters?

Lifestyle, Review, Supplementation

So in a recent article I mentioned the use and dangers of pro-hormones, the synthetic compounds one would take to facilitate higher levels of testosterone. Our testosterone levels peak around the stages of puberty and throughout our twenties, to decline as we age. While some men may have low testosterone for a number of medical and psychological reasons, there are some with much higher base levels, a section of men that will most likely build and maintain muscle much easier than the average guy even without the use of anabolic steroids, growth hormone etc. To narrowly avoid the precarious genetics debate of such individuals, let’s just say that it’s no shock to see these guys on a bodybuilding stage or in sports that require such muscular size, strength and endurance. If you believe that anything is possible with consistent training and diet, continue to work against the odds and persevere through scepticism. For everyone else who may suspect that there are more than just an array of physiological factors in place to look like these guys, yes, testosterone is certainly the catalyst. Nonetheless, higher testosterone levels can be acquired naturally; through exercise, through diet and of course adequate supplementation.  The benefits of using testosterone-boosting supplements will differ from person to person, making their overall effectiveness questionable to those expecting to notice bigger arms or a bigger bench. 

Even though there isn’t is a resounding correlation between visual muscularity -that most guys want, and strength, we still think it’s just as important to be reasonably strong, maybe its an ego thing, I don’t know. But I would say that upon adhering to the numerous factors aforementioned in articles concerning: macros, the importance of sleep, hydration and the effects of alcohol, it is definitely possible to make substantial strength improvements when implementing testosterone boosters to a well-structured diet and training routine. This isn’t just from my own experience, plenty of guys I’ve trained with in the past, friends and fellow fitness enthusiasts have reassured me of the same. That being said, and although these supplements are considered ‘enhancers’ they still can’t possibly substantiate the improper practice of the fundamentals. In ‘Over supplementing your diet’ I mentioned how the likes of supplementation should support a somewhat already perfected diet, a mere cherry on top of the cake of basic principles everyone seems to neglect and question when their importance is stressed in conversation. In terms of tangible effects, I’ve noticed elevated energy levels, increased appetite and even a substantial libido boost, depending on the relevant product and its ingredients. I wouldn’t say they have such a shock-like capacity as pre-workout or fat burners but still enough to fill the once lethargic, demotivated void that one often faces at the end of a busy day or stressful week.

You will probably notice how much your appetite goes up whilst training regularly, imagine that your testosterone levels take the same route in this respect. Which is why taking test-boosters has been an essential part of my supplement regime over the last few weeks. I have had to take a short break from training due to a recent injury, and while assuming that I’d be eating a lot more with all the extra time on my hands, it’s been quite the opposite. I do feel that during this time my appetite would have been next to nothing without test-boosters. By now you can probably sense that I highly recommend these supplements, incorporating them as part of a cyclical regime, as opposed to taking them over consecutive months. This way the potential benefits can reciprocate upon each use, rather than being somewhat taken for granted.

While there are probably hundreds of different test-boosting products, you’re likely to find a handful of key ingredients that even define subcategories on supplement sites such as Dolphin FitnessMost of these are somewhat herbal, deriving form medicinal plants and compounds renowned for matters concerning sexual health and vitality, nonetheless, they are highly useful in boosting testosterone;

Sodium DAA
ZMA- Zinc, Magnesium, Vitamin B6
Tribulus Terrestris
Horny Goat Weed
Tongkat Ali
Bulbine Natalensis
Massularia Acuminate
Ginger root

In my opinion these are the most popular ingredients you will find on the market, also including a few that I have used and found highly effective. For products that feature these ingredients in higher amounts, I’d recommend using either T-Up Black by Nutrex or RELOAD by Extreme Nutrition.

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Should I take ‘fat-burners?’

Lifestyle, Supplementation

As each year comes around it seems there’s even less time to get in shape for summer, still, don’t be in SUCH a rush to lose that extra baggage you’ve accumulated over the last few months. Thanks to YouTube, cos who reads books nowadays? We are becoming, ever so surely- smarter. No longer do we need to sieve through the mass of scientific jargon to pick out useful information or have to ask someone with a relevant degree for help. Nonetheless, this does not mean our judgement on what we put in our bodies has improved, by any means.

For a lot of people, ‘Fatburners’ sound like JUST the thing to assist weight loss, even if their activity level is ‘next to nothing’ and while the majority of ingredients in these types of supplements are legal, they are not entirely safe. Now if you’re a professional athlete, fitness enthusiast or just an average guy, your body’s threshold managing physical exertion will extend over time. Meaning that your body will adapt to pretty much anything you do often enough. If you look at professions that require higher amounts of physical exertion such as a scaffolder or labourer, the strength developed by strenuous activity will adapt in order to function the job at hand. That being said, top athletes apply additional elements to their training and diet in terms of optimising their performance. Imagine that Elevation training masks weren’t just for idiots that want to look like Bane and ARE designed for serious athletes. Well, fatburners are kind of like this too. The thermogenic capacity of these products is down to a few distinctive ingredients that you will find in most ‘fat burning’ or ‘metabolism boosting’ products.

Just to name a few…

  •  CAFFEINE: Now while Caffeine is an everyday component of an active lifestyle, it also has diuretic properties in higher amounts- like your bladder if you’ve ever tried the Volvic 14 day challenge- but all the time.
  • GREEN TEA EXTRACT: Green tea is no longer just for folks that have a yoga mat and a vegetable garden, it too has diuretic properties, boosts metabolism and looks great on Instagram with a slice of lemon.
  • CLA- Conjugated linoleic acid: Another common ingredient in most diet/ fatburning supplements but will most likely be sold individually. CLA is a fatty acid that affects the enzymes that burn fat from both fat cells and fat within the blood- apparently.
  • Citrus Aurantium or ‘bitter orange’ This is a compound yielding similar properties to all of the above, including the release of epinephrine for improved focus and energy. I do believe the nervous/hot/jittery energy comes from this component within a fair few fat burning supplements I have tried, so do be cautious.
There are plenty of other common ingredients within most popular supplements like ketones, various herbs and capsaicin. Capsaicin is an active component of the chilli pepper, you can see where this is going…
By raising the temperature of the body, we burn more fat. Well that’s the plan anyway. This is why you’ll find ingredients in products that derive or relate to capsaicin such as cayenne pepper in Grenade Thermo Detonator. So technically if I eat a tonne of spicy food I will lose weight? Well no probably not. Nevertheless the role of heat-inducing compounds are essential in fatburners. As I previously mentioned these would be beneficial to individuals that have all of the fundamental controls in place in order to ‘cut’ employing the use of such products to optimise their performance and capacity to burn fat, NOT having the work done FOR THEM. This brings me on to people reasonably new to these types of supplements, unaware of their effects when combined with intense exercise. Bearing in mind supplement brands promoting aforesaid products will sometimes encourage users to take ‘X’ amount of servings in the hope of increasing ‘performance’ but even just ONE of the two- even three capsules recommended in a ‘serving’ could still put someone new to fat burners -even pre-workout- in a bit of a panic. If you’ve not exercised for quite some time and are desperate to lose the weight you’ve accumulated, at least get back into the swing of things before even considering using fat burners. This will only prevent you from passing out at the gym, or worse. If you’re considering the use of fat burners everyday, be sure to think about whether this will impede on your working capability of day to day tasks, will there be the possibility of a fan? am I on edge? is there a puddle in my shoe?
Fatburners and fasted cardio? This is a no-brainer, don’t do it. If you’re familiar with fasted cardio you’ll know that that the big HB- heartburn is bad enough without throwing a ghost chilli and shot of adrenaline in the mix. Don’t forget having these on an empty stomach will drastically increase the effects, you might sweat just as much as you would when doing HIIT , it’s probably not a good idea to pair these together, I once learned.
 Ultimately, fat burners are helpful to implement on top of a good solid diet, they speed up the process of weight-loss to an extent and do provide a somewhat substantial amount of energy when its needed -especially on low-carb days- even if it is all from caffeine. I would however, like to point out that they are not for beginners and certainly not for people with a poor cardiovascular ability, low activity level or bad tolerance of stimulants.
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More on Macros & ‘The Bulking Fear’


So in a previous post I mentioned the flexible approach to dieting known as IIFYM. This refers to inputting your daily meals and various other aspects of your lifestyle into MyFitnessPal, in order to track and manipulate certain elements when needed be. Now macro counting can seem tedious when the foods that you consume vary in size and frequency each day, ultimately though, having a solid structure to stick to may be just as critical in assisting weight loss or weight gain as the numerical nutritional values. For a lot of people, calorie counting is mainly for CUTTING weight, although adhering to or above a certain calorie goal everyday will benefit those with weight GAIN in mind all the same. Unless you’d consider yourself a food connoisseur and eat out almost everyday, you’ll find that the food you eat week to week won’t be worlds apart. Although, you still need to be conscious of the nutritional components in order to assist your efforts of physical CHANGE. This could be to lose 4kg or gain it, either way, failing to identity the amounts of macronutrients you consume daily will make it much more difficult to reap the benefits of physical EFFORT/EXERTION. Plainly put, and you’ve probably heard this plenty of times to know, ‘your body doesn’t WANT to change’ manipulating a number of different factors will FORCE it to do so, your calorie/carbs/fat/protein intake being just a few to name. 

When you see lads weighing themselves after every workout -as though the iron from a few dumbbells has somehow transcended into them- the reason why they could have hit a ‘plateau’ is probably gonna be to do with their input vs their output. This refers to the nutrients that we consume -input- as opposed to physical effort, what we do -output- If you put the wrong fuel in your car not only will you not get to work, you will most probably damage the engine. Our bodies are the same, in that we fuel -feed- ourselves in order to function. The way that we look is simply a byproduct of how much food is used as energy or stored as fat. Our body’s capacity to burn or store fat will undoubtedly be predetermined by our genetic makeup, but I believe it can be overruled to an extent just the same. 

Our primal predecessors would have had to hunt for food, conditioning their bodies by means of function and survival. Today we have the facility to have someone else find an animal, someone else to kill it, another to cook it and another to bring it to us. By doing so we impede evolution, and endanger the once predatory genetic makeup of our ancestors -cheers JustEat. For anyone thats heard of The paleolithic or ‘caveman’ diet, mainly consisting of meat, nuts and berries, by contrast it highlights the kind of foods that the modern world has grown accustomed to through agricultural and productive advancement. These include dairy, starchy carbohydrates and processed foods -so basically everything we eat. I have tried the Paleo diet for a short period in the past and it was beneficial to the extent of not being able to function on a human level due to such low carbs. Although in retrospect, adopting certain approaches of the caveman diet may be of some merit with regards to weight loss especially when its needed within a restricted time frame, i.e contest prep, summer holidays etc. When the instance of this is relevant I could attempt to cover more of it, but technically we’re still in the ‘off season’

Now for anyone that considers themselves a successful bodybuilder/fitness athlete/ sponsored bitch, the key to attaining a solid physique is all down to the work put in during the ‘off season’ If you look good all year round, give the swans a smooch you absolute hero. For most of us, the additional weight we acquire during the winter months SHOULD be seen as more of a blessing than a burden. If you get over the fact that you may be holding onto a little more water than usual and realise that those around you aren’t interested in the slightest, you may be a step closer to your ‘#goals#2016goals’ Now there’s two words that get thrown around often enough to me cringe -even worse when they’re in same sentence- but LEAN MASS for most people, will always be in vain. This refers to gaining as much muscle as possible, whilst minimising fat. This is possible by narrowly exceeding a caloric threshold but you’ll still need to get somewhat ‘fat’ in order for this to be of any benefit. I can’t imagine this appealing to anyone that already considers themselves reasonably lean without exercise but if they wanna look like someone a 14 year old girl would have on their wall thats up to them. So this is the part where I mention this new flexible approach to dieting called ‘If It Fits Your Macros’ … IIFYM

So THE BULKING FEAR. Does she think I’ve let myself go? Do I use the pool at the gym? Is there a chance that we could end up playing strip poker? shit, I have rolls? All these questions are indicative of consuming extra calories, but unlike make-up, its better to have MORE as opposed to LESS. Just look at most professional fitness athletes when they’re not competing, the extent to which they go to pretty much epitomises what an ‘off season’ SHOULD entail, look at someone like Sadik Hadzovic and tell me that he looks the same all year round. Lets face it, for someone that trains consistently and has an awareness on the importance of diet, putting on a few kg’s over the space of a few months isn’t something to be fearful of in the slightest. For anyone struggling to gain weight for any particular reason, ignoring this fear will not only put the knowledge you may have acquired into practise, it will provide you with an insight to how sensitive your body is to change. As previously mentioned, genetics may stipulate our ability to gain or lose weight but be realistic in the sense that it may take a while.

Current macros -although I aim to exceed these daily-  for my current weight of 94kg are as follows;

Screen Shot 2016-01-13 at 00.36.17


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Mutant Mass vs USN’s Muscle Fuel Anabolic


With the current overhaul of ‘weight gainers’ on the supplement market, it’s hard to filter through such that may be of substantial benefit to diets requiring extra calories or stuff that’s basically packed with more sugar than a tub or two of Ben & Jerry’s. Now obviously to bump up the calorie content there’s gonna be some sacrifice to clean carb sources, so it’s fitting to compare what I deem to be the two hard-hitting weight-gain products on the current market; USN’s Muscle Fuel Anabolic and MUTANT Mass.
These brands are worlds apart in terms of their approach to training and diet philosophy. If you’re not familiar with Mutant, It’ll most likely feature a behemoth like Rich Piana and market itself in a way that would probably deter the ‘average’ person that maybe doesn’t pride themselves in looking like a Belgian Bleur that can’t tie their own shoelaces. USN takes a much more marketable approach, with an expense of endorsements from numerous top athletes and fitness models, presenting the potential of attainable physiques as a result of proper training and nutrition.
With regards to the cost, size and value of each product, Mutant’s 6.8KG bag will stretch your money much further than MFA’s 4KG tub with the average online price of both products ranging between £43-£50. Although depending on which serving suggestion you adhere to when using each product will determine how many servings you can expect. MFA suggests using 150g in every serving to which there are 26 in every tub, a smaller 100g would give 40 servings for individuals not wanting 90g of carbs sitting on their stomach. Mutant Mass also features the same amount in each 130g serving but does have almost three times the amount of sugar as the 7g in a serving of the USN All in One. This is definitely evident in the taste of Mutant Mass across the three flavours I have tried; Cookies & Cream, Triple Chocolate and Peanut Butter. They are quite sickly and don’t sit very well to say the least, making it difficult to have in conjunction with a diet requiring a surplus of calories. The strawberry, vanilla and chocolate cream flavours of Muscle Fuel Anabolic are definitely much more palatable, with a thinner consistency that mixes with minimum effort as opposed to Mutant Mass that should come with a free cement mixer. No it does EVENTUALLY mix together but can’t imagine why anyone would attempt to consume FOUR scoops indicated within the nutritional information, bearing in mind each 130g has the same amount of sugar as a typical serving of Ben & Jerry’s. Some of Mutants ‘athletes’ even condone putting a few ladles of ice cream into shakes which I personally think is ill-advised to those who don’t know the technicalities of diet and are wholly impressionable to what they see online. Although I do feel like as a “does what it says on the tin’ type product, it’d be narrow-minded of me to fail to recognise some people aspire to reach the largest form they can possibly attain, therefore by requiring extra calories by convenient means is just as practically justified as MFA to athletes in a surplus of calories.
As far as protein is concerned MFA’s 150g serving has double the 25g in Mutant Mass, and although there is probably some merit in comparing each of the various protein sources in both MFA and Mutant Mass I’d rather not to go down this precarious rabbit hole leaving me in no-mans land between vegans and everyone else with a degree in nutrition. With the ever-growing knowledge of supplementation within the bodybuilding community it’s great to see brands that can cover an array of different nutritional functions in a single product, and it’s clear that Muscle Fuel Anabolic covers near enough every point on the spectrum. With 3g of Creatine in every serving, ZMA and a huge amino acid profile including arginine, glutamine and aspartic acid, You’re looking at a good £25/30 saving from just the Creatine and amino acids alone. Mutant Mass does also hold a rather sufficient profile, each serving containing the afore mentioned AND MORE in abundance will support muscle breakdown, protein synthesis and the potential increase of growth hormone, making it a fundamental staple of recovery.
Ultimately, I can’t see the amino acid profile clawing it back for Mutant Mass, although it will definitely be of some benefit for the hard-gainer that counts KG on his bench and never the scales. I feel Muscle Fuel Anabolic is much more suited to my goals in terms of gaining lean muscle gradually in a surplus of reasonably clean calories rather than overloading on sugar and mistaking an overloaded carb pump for genuine progress. I will continue to use MFA during this stage in my training but would consider using Mutant Mass in the event that I take up powerlifting or a sport that requires a lot more calories in order to maintain or to grow.

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A ‘Balanced lifestyle’, ‘IIFYM’ and ‘The usual tangent’


With the overhaul of information in the modern day we live in, it’s extremely difficult to sieve through the useful and practical from the BS. Let’s face it, we’d all take the shortcut to our destination, despite the risk of getting lost in the process. With every cover model that you’re not ever going to look like, comes the expanse of advertising opportunities by magazines and supplement companies. Even though ‘ABS IN 28 DAYS’ or ‘DROP 10% BODY FAT’ might sound promising, these are just marketing ploys to optimise potential sales regardless of how effective the information is.

You won’t have to look very hard to find some sort of interpretation to the ‘balanced diet’ from TV ads and social media to that tatty ‘Now’ magazine stuffed down the chair at your local dentist. Who wouldn’t be intrigued by such a somewhat flexible approach to nutrition? It may not be physically possible to adhere to rigorous meal prep due to your job or maybe you don’t find yourself partial to piri piri cardboard, rice and broccoli . Maybe you’d like to incorporate clean, whole foods into your diet but find it EXPENSIVE and INCONVENIENT compared to fast food? I myself am also guilty of succumbing to such stodgy means whilst on the go, although I’d much rather resist this temptation of convenience in order to stay on track metabolically and actually see a ‘cheat meal’ for what it should be, a TREAT.

Macro counting is essentially adhering to a daily calorie target generated by personal numerical values such as age, height, current weight and goal weight. The extent of this system will depend on how much information you input, but most people tend to work out the calorific value of fats, carbs and protein. When you’re new to macro counting it definitely does seem trivial, along with the fact that MyFitnessPal won’t reflect your potential weight just by logging your calories, as there’s no such parameter that can account for metabolic rate or training intensity- accurately.  It will however, make you more conscious of your eating habits, flagging up a surplus or deficit of maintenance calories- the basepoint inbetween weight loss or gain. If you’re like me and eat pretty much the same week in week out, you’ll quickly pick up the values or ‘macros’ in foods that you regularly eat, so if reading the nutritional values on the back of your rice is like understanding The Matrix, youl only have to endure this once or twice.

Now with every health/fitness trend comes criticism in the light of those abusing such information, especially when a concept based on flexibility is taken to the extreme-  the ‘M’ in IIFYM being ‘MOUTH’ much like the eating habits of people that see the word ‘DIET’ as ‘DO.I.EAT.TODAY?’ to then justify an evening meal rammed with the worst kind of calories imaginable, as a reward for not eating. Some girls like to call the first part of this process ‘BEING GOOD’ and will probably stunt potential weightloss even more so by the extreme of 0 carbs to plenty.

I don’t understand how some people won’t even take the time to educate themselves on the basic fundamentals of what is considered- not by myself, ‘a balanced lifestyle’ ultimately we are all aware of the importance of presenting ourselves to capacity, much like the judgement our personal qualities receive, our bodies reflect just as much about who we are, whether that be extreme to some or otherwise.

I by no means follow what is considered to be an ‘extreme’ regime, but to someone unaware of the process acquiring a well-rounded physique is, understandably whatever you say is going to seem barbaric to them. Eating seven of the same meal throughout the day may be just as extreme to someone that eats heroin rather than steamed tilapia, but each to their own I suppose.

I do think though this may be one of the reasons why the men’s-physique-category-look has grown to be just as popular as that of a classic bodybuilder. Simply because it seems to be more attainable than the somewhat extreme attitudes toward training and nutrition prevalent in professional bodybuilding. Hence why there is definitely some snobbery between the physique-bodybuilding community, of course guys that have trained for decades on every last inch of their body are gonna be pissed off when someone that’s barely scratching the surface in terms of the technicalities that deem ones stature a ‘physique’ rather than just a marketable body.

Going back to a previous point made about the modern information overhaul we live in, I’ve came to recognise how one can effectively utilise such an abundance of knowledge, everything from fitness related YouTube channels or physiological explanations to nutrition and exercise at the click of a button. I believe such access in recent years has catapulted the standard of amateur guys to that of professionals, those once a small minority of applying aspects of bodybuilding to a more attainable look. Yet now, you wouldn’t find any successful physique/fitness figure that hasn’t stepped up at least 15lbs into the next category, so that they aren’t lost in the current of upcoming guys with even MORE POTENTIAL and even MORE KNOWLEDGE.

If you feel the ‘IF IT FITS YOUR MACROS’ approach to weight loss or even weight gain- depending on your goal-  may be beneficial to you, be sure to input all of the relevant information into either the IIFYM calculator or download the latest version of MyFitnessPal on the App Store.

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