Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Part 1: Why Fad Diets Are Ruining The Fitness Industry


It’s no secret that weight loss is a popular goal among many people today. Even though obesity rates do continue to climb, it seems as though we’re turning a corner; as more people than ever are starting to get interested in health, fitness, and flexible dieting.

Along with this increased interest, we’ve also seen a rise in the number of products, services, and other items aimed at helping people reach their weight loss goals. A great tool, for instance, is the IIFYM macro calculator.

And while there are a lot of great things that have come from this fitness boom, one of the most detrimental, confusing, and outright harmful things to come out of has been the rise of fad diets.

Diets, Dieters, and Fad Dieting

According to the dictionary, the main definition of the word “diet” is, “the kind of food that a person, animal, or community habitually eats”. So, to get all technical on you, we all have a diet; it’s the food we eat.

But somewhere along the line, the meaning changed from “having” a diet, to “being on” a diet; where you’re intentionally restricting your food for the purpose of weight loss.

And it’s this shift in perspective that I believe has caused us to stop looking at “a diet” as something that should be better understood in order to improve our overall health, and instead, has caused people to start looking at it as something to fear.

The Fad Diet Evolution


fad diets


With the rise of bodybuilding in the 70s and 80s, so too came a rise in the popularity of strength training, working out, and getting in shape.

However, where a bodybuilder was concerned with “having” a diet that supported not only muscle growth but also increased energy and overall health, the general population – most of whom were more concerned with losing weight and looking skinnier – adopted diets as something you needed to “be on” in order to reach their goals.

Much of this coincided with the “low-fat” craze of the 80s and 90s. As waistlines began to expand, and cardiovascular disease increased, the health industry needed a plan of attack.

And since fat is what’s found in blocked arteries, while also containing high amounts of cholesterol, this became the natural scapegoat.

When diets are this restrictive it drains your willpower and your energy. It forces you to think of food in terms of “good” and “bad” – a dangerous mindset to fall into.

Since then, fad diets have evolved to include such things as very low-carb, paleo, clean eating, the HCG diet, cleanses, detoxes, and much more.

In this article, we’re going to take an in-depth look at fad diets, why they are so harmful to our health and our fitness goals, and how to structure a “diet” that is right for you.

But before we do that, we first need to define what fad diets actually are, and why they are complete garbage.

What Is A “Fad” Diet?

While there’s no official definition of a “Fad Diet”, they do share a number of characteristics, including promoting weight loss, promising dramatic results, and being unsustainable.

The nature of fad diets can lead to a number of problems:

They’re Unsustainable


fad diets


One of the biggest problems with fad diets is that, by their very nature, they aren’t sustainable. Fads are movements that come and go, and the same is true of fad diets.

Think about it; if a fad was popular, it would stick around. And then it wouldn’t be a fad. Well, the same is true of diets. If a diet worked; if it was sustainable, enjoyable, and helped people lose fat, then it wouldn’t be a fad. It would stick around, unlike these fad diets.

If you can’t stick with a diet long enough to reach your goals – or you can’t transition into a lifestyle that allows you to maintain after you reach your goals – then the diet doesn’t work.

They’re Too Restrictive

The biggest reason why a diet may be unsustainable is that it’s too restrictive (a popular theme among fad diets). Fad diets often severely limit your food choices; with these foods often being the ones you enjoy most. When diets are this restrictive it drains your willpower and your energy. It forces you to think of food in terms of “good” and “bad” – a dangerous mindset to fall into.

IIFYM blueprint

For a majority of people, they can only restrict themselves so long before they fall off the wagon, crash, binge, and undo most of their progress.

This leads into the next reason why fad diets don’t work; they don’t teach you how to eat.

Short-Term Results

Fad diets have a common theme in that, they ban certain foods, while only allowing you to eat certain others. In essence, they tell you what to eat and what not to eat; instead of teaching you how to eat.

The problem with this is, what happens when the diet ends? What do you do?

Say you’re following a low-carb diet. Your goal was to lose 20 pounds and congrats, you reached it! Now what? Are you just suppose to go without pizza, ice cream, donuts, and all the other delicious carby-foods the rest of your life, just to maintain your progress?


fad diets


No. That’s stupid.

Unfortunately, fad diets don’t teach you what to do when you reach this point; so what most people do – through no fault of their own – is immediately stop following the diet, thinking, “Okay, I hit my goals, so the diets over.” and reintroduce the foods that were banned.

And as a lot of you reading this probably know, that’s a recipe for disaster; as most often end up undoing all of their progress; sometimes even ending up worse off than when they started.

Potentially Harmful

Last, but not least, fad diets can be dangerous.

Unfortunately, when it comes to nutrition, there is no blanket solution that works for everyone. That’s why we evaluate each client separately when creating a Custom Macro Blueprint.

Sure, someone may have success on a very low-carb diet plan, but for others, just jumping into a fad diet without knowing the specifics of how it could affect you, could be harmful to your health.

Breaking Down Popular Fad Diets

Now we’re going to breakdown some of the more popular fad diets that you’ll come across.

The HCG Diet

I don’t like to admit this, but this is a fad diet I fell victim to early in my fat loss journey.

HCG – or human chorionic gandotropin – is a hormone found in the early stages of pregnancy. Actually, it’s the hormone that results in a positive pregnancy test.

HCG is also used to boost fertility in both women and men.

Somewhere along the way, however, it became the belief that HCG also contains metabolism-boosting, and hunger-curbing properties as well.


fad diets


The HCG diet requires the participant to take HCG drops daily, while maintaining a 500 calorie per day diet, for 3-6 weeks.

Now, considering the average person burns about 2,000 per day, where do you think the weight loss is coming from? The HCG, or the massive daily calorie deficit?

In fact, multiple studies comparing HCG injections to placebos have shown that it’s the ultra-low calorie diet responsible for the weight loss; not the HCG.(1)(2)(3)(4)

Another huge problem with a calorie deficit that large is that you’re likely to see drastic reductions in muscle mass, in addition to fat. This is going to cause your metabolism to slow down even quicker.

Lastly, not only does HCG do nothing for weight loss, the plan could potentially be dangerous. Not only are the ingredients unregulated and unknown, but the massive calorie deficit can lead to feelings of fatigue, headaches, severe hunger, and possible depression.

Juice Cleanses/Detoxes

These aren’t so much as diets as they are all-out assaults on your body, but I include them here anyway because they are ridiculously popular.

Basically, these “diets” require you to not eat anything for anywhere from a few days to upwards of a week.

Our bodies are way ahead of us when it comes to this. Think about it, if our bodies weren’t able to “detox” themselves, we wouldn’t be able to function, or even survive.

The only foodstuffs you can consume during this time is some liquefied combination of fruits and vegetables or some sort of powder (which you usually have to buy from whoever is promoting the program…shocker).

The food we eat plays a role in how our body functions. When you stop eating food and replace it with low-calorie shakes and drinks, your body is going to react accordingly.

You’re going to be miserable, tired, cranky, hungry and just not pleasant to be around.

We’re Always Detoxing


fad diets



Detoxing is also unnecessary.

Our bodies are way ahead of us when it comes to this. Think about it, if our bodies weren’t able to “detox” themselves, we wouldn’t be able to function, or even survive. Our digestive tract, colon, kidneys, liver and even skin all play a role in expelling unwanted waste from our body.

If you really want to “detox” naturally, without having to purchase expensive drinks and put yourself through hell, try increasing your consumption of lean protein and colorful fruits and vegetables, while decreasing your consumption of highly processed foods.

Whole foods such as animal protein, fruits, and vegetables help rid the body of toxins, so cutting these out of your diet makes absolutely zero sense.

Which is why we suggest balance with our clients and set up their Macro Blueprints geared towards sustainability.

These types of diets can appear to provide promising results; sometimes upwards of ten pounds lost in just a few days. But what do you think’s going to happen when you remove solid food from your diet?

Often this “weight loss” is nothing more than just water, and as soon as you add solid food back to your diet plan, you’ll gain it back.

Very Low-Fat Diets

While very low-fat diets aren’t as popular as they used to be. Unfortunately, there still are a large number of health professionals that recommend them to their patients, even though no long-term studies have shown any benefits of a very low-fat diet.

First, by its nature, a very low-fat diet discourages the consumption of some perfectly healthy foods, namely animal proteins. Because many animal proteins are naturally high in saturated fat and cholesterol, the low-fat crowd demonized them because cholesterol and saturated fat were supposedly bad for our health.

But in reality, there’s nothing to fear from these. In fact, the cholesterol in eggs and other animal proteins has been shown to have a positive effect on HDL or “good” cholesterol levels.(5)

Low-Fat, But Not Healthy


fad diets


The second problem with a low-fat diet is that it encourages the consumption of unhealthy foods. When the low-fat craze started, food companies jumped at the chance to market low-fat foods to consumers.

Yet, the problem is when you take all the fat out of something it winds up tasting terrible. So companies replace the fat with lots of refined and highly processed sugars which can jack up the calories. Not exactly a great trade.

Lastly, very low-fat diets are closely associated with low testosterone levels. Fat is needed to produce testosterone.(6) Low testosterone levels are associated with decreased muscle mass, depression, decreased libido, and an increase in body fat.

According to the American Heart Association, fat should make up no less than 15% of your total daily caloric intake. However, recent research suggests that optimal fat intake falls between 20-35% per day.(6)(7)

As you can see, there are many negatives to a very low-fat diet, while very few, if any positives. And while the low-fat craze isn’t as popular as it once was, the amount of “low-fat” products you still see on store shelves shows that not everyone gets it; proving the low-fat fad isn’t over quite yet.

That’s it for Part 1 of our article on Fad Diets. Stay tuned for Part 2; where we’ll talk about some more popular fad diets that, while they offer promising results, may not be right for you.

The post Part 1: Why Fad Diets Are Ruining The Fitness Industry appeared first on IIFYM.

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Thursday, August 17, 2017

6 Ways You Can Optimize Muscle Soreness Recovery


Muscle soreness recovery after a workout is often overlooked by many fitness professionals, athletes, and bodybuilders.

For many, they place large amounts of focus and preparation on getting to the gym, optimizing supplement timings, pinpointing every meal and macro but then forget to optimize a key pillar in sports performance and muscle growth, their muscle soreness recovery or capabilities.

As a result, many experience intense muscle soreness, also known as Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness (DOMS), which can be painful and affect your workouts for several days. Along with the general discomfort and impact on your workout, it can also lead to increased injury risk, a decrease in your anabolic hormones and lowered immune system.

Along with the general discomfort and impact on your workout, it can also lead to increased injury risk, a decrease in your anabolic hormones and lowered immune system.

It’s clear your muscle soreness recovery is key. At the end of the day, your ability to recover is probably a key factor limiting your progression and ability to train harder, more often and obtain better results.

Another massive factor that can limit your physical progress is your diet, start with our macro calculator to dial in your nutrition.


Here are 6 scientifically proven methods you can apply today to maximize recovery:

1. Cool Down to Improve Muscle Soreness Recovery


muscle soreness recovery


To make these tips even more actionable we’re going to take them in order, starting from the last set of your next workout.

Cool down is skipped by most – ultimately, you’ve worked hard and are fatigued, ready to go home for some much-earned nutrition.

Your nutrition is the cornerstone of muscle soreness recovery, our clients rebound well from their workouts with a Custom Macro Blueprint.

However, a cool down can still be important, especially when optimizing muscle soreness recovery and reducing DOMS the next day.

The intensity of your workout will tend to gauge how much time you need to dedicate to a cool down. However, as a general rule of thumb 5 – 10 minutes should suffice.

One reason muscle soreness recovery is important is that it helps remove by-products that accumulate within the body while training; these include hydrogen ions and other markers such as lactate, also referred to as lactic acid.

Lactate production is associated with increases in hydrogen ion, which causes fatigue and gives us that burning feeling when we’re running or lifting weights.

While these processes are completely normal during a workout, it is important to remove these by-products from the blood as quickly as possible after a workout to improve muscle soreness recovery and keep DOMS at bay (1).

How does this affect performance?

As mentioned, this isn’t just the key to reducing DOMS, it can actually help you become a better athlete or improve performance.

Two researchers compared the effects of an active cool down versus no cool down on University soccer players after a soccer match. They showed that the cool down group had better scores on both the vertical and broad jump performance.

Also, in the 30-meter sprint test the non-cool down group demonstrated sprint time reductions 50% greater compared to the cool down group!

Muscle soreness ratings 48hours after were also significantly lower in the cool down group compared to the non-cool down (2).

Applying a cool down is a lot easier than you may think. In the study listed above their cool down consisted of:

  • 5 min of light jogging
  • 5 min of light stretching
  • 2 minutes lying with their legs raised while another player “shakes them down”

Other ways our clients have applied a cool down include, 5 minutes of light activity on a treadmill, elliptical or another cardio machine.

Lastly, you can even perform similar movements during your workout just at a lower intensity, promoting fresh blood flow without the accumulation of waste products.

If you’re using an IIFYM exercise routine, then adding 20 minutes of low-intensity cardio will fit seamlessly into your cool down. Check out this example here on IIFYM, best cardio for fat loss.

2. Foam Roll To Improve Muscle Soreness Recovery


muscle soreness recovery


After you perform your active cool down, another muscle soreness recovery tip you can apply while still in the gym is foam rolling.

Foam rolling has been previously shown to correct muscular imbalances, alleviate muscle soreness, relieve joint stress, improve neuro muscular efficiency and even improve range of motion (3,4).

While it is a very common practice, its effectiveness on improving muscle soreness recovery had not been researched extensively until recently.

In one study, the researchers took 20 highly resistance-trained males and split them into two groups. Both groups performed an intense workout bout consisting of 10 sets of 10 reps of squats! The only difference was that one group foam rolled after the 10 sets whereas the other did not.

Alterations in tissue temperature may also reduce muscle spasms, inflammation and even improve range of motion (10,11).

Performance measurements and perceived pain scales were taken for the following three days, showing significantly reduced muscle soreness for those who foam rolled.

They also witnessed improved muscle activation, jump height and greater range of movement compared to the group that did not foam roll (5).

It appears that foam rolling works as a method to improve muscle soreness recovery by decreasing pain and inflammation through increasing blood flow to the muscle-tendon surface. Just perform 5 minutes after the cool down, focusing on the working muscle groups (6).

3. Post Workout Protein Increases Muscle Soreness Recovery


muscle soreness recovery


After you’ve cooled down and foam rolled it’s time to improve muscle soreness recovery with some post workout nutrition.

Whey protein is a staple workout supplement and for good reason, it contains key essential amino acids which are vital for muscle growth and recovery.

It also increases your daily protein intake and takes you out of a negative catabolic state that may have occurred during the workout. In short, when trying to build muscle you must be in a positive protein balance, which is essentially having greater rates of protein synthesis compared to protein breakdown.

When taking your shake after the workout dozens of studies have shown it spikes the key biological driver of growth and recovery, known as muscle protein synthesis and therefore decreases muscle protein breakdown (7,8)!

breastfeeding calories

Recently, a systematic review was conducted where 22 studies were pooled together in an attempt to examine the effects of protein consumption post workout and the subsequent effects on muscle soreness recovery.

The results demonstrated that protein supplementation has a positive effect on recovery, showing an increase in both lean mass (0.69kg) and strength (13.5kg) compared to placebo groups (9).

Try taking 1 – 2 scoops of whey protein around 30-60 minutes after you work out.

Deciding how much protein you need to consume through supplementation and diet is often a misunderstood concept, that could potentially be holding your recovery back. To make it easier for you, we’ve broken it down in a separate article on IIFYM. Check it out here, how much protein is enough while dieting.

4. Contrast Water Therapy to Reduce Muscle Soreness


muscle soreness recovery


Contrast water therapy is a relatively new phenomenon that encompasses all of the benefits from similar recovery methods including cryotherapy and cold water immersion.

While methods such as cryotherapy can work well, they are less practical on a daily basis. However, contrast therapy is simple to perform; all you need to do is alternate between cold and warm water immersion, which can even be done at home if you have two baths.

Contrast water therapy may reduce muscle soreness and damage by increasing blood flow and alternating peripheral vasoconstriction and dilation. Alterations in tissue temperature may also reduce muscle spasms, inflammation and even improve range of motion (10,11).

In addition, sleep also affects 2 more positive hormones, Testosterone and Growth hormone, which basically do the opposite, helping your cells repair and helping them re-grow (16,17).

Recently, a meta-analysis was conducted that looked at the effects of contrast water therapy on muscle soreness recovery. These researchers grouped 18 studies together and found that cold water therapy resulted in significantly greater improvements in muscle soreness compared to passive recovery without it.

These researchers also found that contrast water therapy significantly reduced muscle strength loss after intense exercise to a greater degree compared to other methods of recovery (12).

How to Apply?

  • Cold Water Immersion (8°-15°C) 1 Minute
  • Hot Water Immersion (35.5°-45°C) – 1-3 Minutes
  • Alternate for 3-5 times per session

5. Take These Supplements to Improve Muscle Soreness Recovery


muscle soreness recovery


Along with the basic whey protein, a few other supplements have been shown to aid in muscle soreness recovery.

These supplements include anti-inflammatory and antioxidants that boost cellular repair, remove waste products and drastically reduce DOMS.

A few of the best include Tart cherry juice dosed at 12 oz & Vitamin C & E dosed at 500mg.

In one study, tart cherry juice and its effects in preventing the symptoms of muscle damage were investigated. 14 male college students drank either a 12oz tart cherry juice or placebo 2x a day for 8 days.

On the fourth day of supplementation, both groups underwent a damaging exercise protocol. Strength, pain, and muscle tenderness were recorded for the following four days.

At the conclusion of testing, the control group demonstrated strength losses of up to 22%, whereas the tart cherry juice condition only lost 4%. Pain levels were also significantly lower following tart cherry juice supplementation (13).

Of course, the sample size is small, but this study is promising!

To Support Supplementation For Muscle Soreness Recovery

In another investigation looking at the effects of dietary supplementation with Vitamin C & E similar improvements were noted.

Those who supplemented with vitamin E & C prior to a damaging exercise bout were able to better maintain strength and maximal isometric contractions in the following sessions compared to control (14).

These results indicate that both tart cherry juice and Vitamin C&E may be beneficial supplements to improve muscle soreness recovery.

Try adding these in the evening, a few hours after the workout. It’s best to not take them straight after you train as they may block the positive adaptations we want from our training.

By taking it closer to the night-time you can maximize both positive adaptations and boost recovery. Just as your diet does, optimize it with a Custom Macro Blueprint.

While these supplements have been backed by research, a lot of common supplements on the market today aren’t and may give you side effects. For this reason, we’ve identified 6 side effects a common supplement and how to avoid them. Check it out in this IIFYM article, pre-workout side effects.

6. Sleep More To Improve Muscle Soreness Recovery


muscle soreness recovery


Lastly, after you cool down, foam roll, drink your protein and take a couple baths we have exactly what you were hoping for, a good night’s sleep!

Not only is sleep vital for cognitive function and your overall health, but it is also essential to optimize muscle soreness recovery, hormone production and performance.

Sleep is basically when your body hits the reset button and goes into recovery mode to prepare you for the next day, repairing damaged cells while you sleep.

If you deprive yourself of sleep not only are you impairing cognitive and immune function but also hormonal function (15).

Sleep alters some key hormones such as cortisol, which is often viewed as a catabolic hormone that can impact our muscle soreness recovery, reduce performance, energy and causes chronic fatigue and constant DOMS. We’ve seen clients deal with this issue on multiple occasions due to stress and lack of sleep.

In addition, sleep also affects 2 more positive hormones, Testosterone and Growth hormone, which basically do the opposite, helping your cells repair and helping them re-grow (16,17).

Ultimately, a good night’s sleep helps keep cortisol in a healthy range which ensures your Testosterone and Growth hormone levels are optimized.

As a result of insufficient sleep, your physique and muscle soreness recovery become negatively impacted. Thus, to make sure you’re recovering optimally aim for 7-8 hours of quality sleep each night.

5 quick tips for improved sleep habits

  • No caffeine, pre-workouts or stimulants after 3 pm.
  • Reduce the use of your TV/laptop/phone screens at least 2-hours before bed to block out blue light, which tricks our brain to think it’s daytime.
  • Use blackout shades to make your bedroom pitch black.
  • Drink Bed Time Tea or take sleep aid supplements such as ZMA or Melatonin.
  • Read a non-fiction book for 5-15 minutes before bed.

Optimize Your Muscle Soreness Recovery Today

As you can see from all the research, your workout recovery habits can result in reduced DOMS and increased performance and progress towards your goals.

To see significant and immediate improvements in muscle soreness recovery try adding these six key tips into your routine today:

  1.  Cool down for 5-15 minutes after each workout, this can be light cardio or 1-2 light sets of that muscle group.
  2. Use a foam roller and roll the working muscle group for 3-4 minutes after your cooldown.
  3. Drink around 1-2 scoops of whey protein after the gym, ideally within the first 60 minutes post workout.
  4. Try applying contrast water therapy or other cold therapy techniques if you have access to them.
  5. Take certain supplements, including antioxidants such as Tart Cherry Juice and Vitamin C & E.
  6. Make sure you optimize sleep, aiming for at least 7-8 hours of sleep or more if needed.

Lastly, an aspect that seems obvious for muscle soreness recovery, your DIET plan. It plays a massive role in recuperating and restoring energy. We’ve witnessed countless clients recover better once they’ve dialed in their nutrition.

If you are struggling in this realm, have one of our coaches build your Custom Macro Blueprint.


The post 6 Ways You Can Optimize Muscle Soreness Recovery appeared first on IIFYM.

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Tuesday, August 15, 2017

The Best Bicep Workout Strategy for Hypertrophy


While I’m here to bring you the best bicep workout for hypertrophy, we need to get one thing straight. Nothing in fitness is a guarantee. We at IIFYM want to keep it real. What works for me, might not work for you—and vice versa.

There is no one size fits all approach when it comes to fitness. Yet, one thing is for certain, and that is you need to put in the time and effort in order to see any change with your body.

Without exerting yourself, making your health and fitness a priority, and being consistent, you’ll never achieve the results you desire.

*It should be noted that we at IIFYM.com, as well as the author, would advise you to consult with your doctor before engaging in any new diet plan or exercise program, including the best bicep workout, found here on IIFYM.com

As always, I like to drop some knowledge for my IIFYM friends and give you a better understanding of the muscles involved so you can visualize each muscle working while completing the best bicep workout for hypertrophy provided in this article.

Anatomy of the Biceps

build muscle and lose fat


Biceps Brachii

The biceps brachii is given the name biceps because it has two heads, and brachii comes from the Latin word for arm.

The short head of the biceps attaches to the coracoid process of the scapula. The tendon of the long head passes into the joint capsule at the head of the humerus and attaches on the scapula at the supraglenoid tubercle.

Distally, the biceps attaches to the radial tuberosity. The biceps also connect with the fascia of the medial side of the arm, at the bicipital aponeurosis.


It arises from the distal, anterior half of the humerus and the intermuscular septa. It inserts into the coronoid process and tuberosity of the ulna over the elbow joint.

Pronator Teres

It arises from the distal end of the medial humerus and the medial part of the ulna. From there it inserts into the lateral side of the radius.

The secret to insane biceps growth

In all honesty, this section is like click bait on a YouTube video. There really isn’t any secret that I can tell you which will make your arms grow. However, there is one method that many have been using for years and found it to have given them the best results—and it’s called progressive overload.

One thing that you need to understand is that your body will not change unless you force it to. Even then, there could be some resistance before you start to see progress. The body is very finicky in that it likes to maintain in the same state.

Progressive overload is where you recruit a greater demand from the muscles with each workout.

It doesn’t want you to lose weight and on the flip side, it doesn’t want to add muscle mass either. It’s a well-oiled machine that seems to run in the background like your computer as you go on with your daily life.

When you want to experience growth, you need to force your muscles to adapt to the changes you need to take place by staying consistent and constantly pushing your muscles. When you do any type of resistance training, you are ultimately tearing down your muscle fibers.


best bicep workout


Then, what you do is feed those muscles and give them proper rest in order for them to rebuild bigger and stronger.

When you do any type of resistance training, you are ultimately tearing down your muscle fibers. Then, what you do is feed those muscles and give them proper rest in order for them to rebuild bigger and stronger.

breastfeeding calories

If you are unsure how to properly feed your muscles, the coaches at IIFYM.com can help you find a diet plan to match your goals. Another great tool found on IIFYM.com is the IIFYM macro calculator.

This quick and easy IIFYM macro calculator will lay out how many calories you need per day to achieve your goal—whether it be weight loss, increase muscle mass, or performance driven. From there you can even get a breakdown of your macros if you wish.

Demanding More Out of Your Muscles

As you challenge yourself through resistance training and the constant breaking down and rebuilding of muscle fibers, you’re going to need to apply more stimulus to the muscle in order for it to continually make a change. This is where progressive overload comes into play.

If you use the same weight, same reps, the same amount of sets each week, you are eventually going to hit a plateau where you won’t see any changes in muscle size or strength at all. With progressive overload, this can be achieved.

Progressive overload is where you recruit a greater demand from the muscles with each workout. Over time, this method will allow you to become stronger, build more lean mass, and improve your overall muscular endurance.

Utilizing progressive overload strategies


best bicep workout

1. Increase the weight

It seems like such a simple concept, but you wouldn’t believe the number of people who go to the gym every day and do the same weights thinking that their body will change. It’s not.

When you do the same routine day in and day out your body will adapt and get used to the stimulus and no longer be forced to change.

Adding in an extra day of training for a body part can overload the muscle enough to aid in increasing size and strength.

You could have the best bicep workout in the world and see no results if you don’t switch up the stimulus.

To combat this, you can simply add 5-10 pounds to your exercises and push for the same amount of reps. You’ll feel a difference and will probably struggle, but eventually, the muscle fibers will get stronger and again you’ll be able to increase the weight to continually overload the muscle.

2. Increase the total number of sets completed

Another way to overload the muscle is by increasing the volume. Through adding an additional set to each exercise, you’ll increase the demand put on the working muscle and therefore will create an overload to force change.

If you didn’t want to add more sets to a particular exercise, you could always add an additional exercise to your workout routine and complete a few sets of the new movement.

3. Increase the total number repetitions completed

Similarly to the above, you can achieve overload without increasing the weight of an exercise. Sometimes the best bicep workout comes from utilizing a reasonable weight where you can get a great squeeze with each rep versus using a weight that you almost need to throw around and create momentum.

If you are completing sets of eight reps on all exercises, push for 10-12 reps instead. Maybe you’ll only be able to complete 10 reps this week.


pre-wrkout supplements tingle


Therefore, next week you can push for 11 or 12. The key is to keep pushing yourself to better a previous workout.

You can apply this principle before you ever have to increase the weight. Then when you hit 12 reps, you can bump up the weight and push for 8 reps of the new weight—eventually working your way up to 12 reps before again increasing the resistance.

4. Increase your training frequency

A technique often used for lagging body parts is to train a muscle group more often. Meaning, if you’re only training your arms once a week, twice a week might be just what is needed to force new growth.

breastfeeding calories

Adding in an extra day of training for a body part can overload the muscle enough to aid in increasing size and strength.

Could this be the best bicep workout for you, personally? It very well could be. It’s just another option that you can add to your bag of tricks to promote growth.

5. Decrease how much time you rest between sets and exercises

You don’t need to change your sets, reps, weights, or how often you train if you don’t want to. A simple overload principle is to cut your rest periods. If you are resting 45-60 seconds between sets, cut it down to 15-30.

If you’re currently at 15-30 seconds, try super-setting exercises where you do a movement such as a dumbbell curl followed immediately by a dumbbell hammer curl. Then rest.

Simply cutting your rest periods short will allow you to do the same amount of total work per session, only in less time. This principle is also great if you need to get in and out of the gym quickly and are pressed for time.

The best bicep workout for hypertrophy


best bicep workout


Below please find an IIFYM 4-week plan to put you in the best position for muscle growth. The best bicep workout for hypertrophy can be used by anyone. Simply use weights you can perform each exercise with using perfect form.

Each week utilizes the same exercises but has progressive overload techniques applied to constantly hit your muscles differently and force them to grow. Just because an overload technique is applied, that doesn’t mean you can’t add another.

For instance, if you can increase the weight, do so, regardless of if you’re cutting rest periods or increasing sets.

Week 1

Exercise Reps Sets Rest
Standing Barbell Curl
8 3 30-45 seconds
Dumbbell Hammer Curl
8 3 30-45 seconds
Incline Dumbbell Curl 8 3 30-45 seconds

Week 2

Exercise Reps Sets Rest
Standing Barbell Curl 10 3 30-45 seconds
Dumbbell Hammer Curl 10 3 30-45 seconds
Incline Dumbbell Curl
10 3 30-45 seconds

Week 3

Exercise Reps Sets Rest
Standing Barbell Curl 10 3 15-30 seconds
Dumbbell Hammer Curl 10 3 15-30 seconds
Incline Dumbbell Curl
10 3 15-30 seconds

Week 4

Exercise Reps Sets Rest
Standing Barbell Curl 10 4 30-45 seconds
Dumbbell Hammer Curl 10 4 30-45 seconds
Incline Dumbbell Curl 10 4 30-45 seconds


circadian eating


If you want to see these your biceps grow, you’ll need a good diet plan to help build lean muscle.

IIFYM.com has everything from IIFYM meal plans, to online coaching, to IIFYM Macro Blueprints and even recipes that you can utilize.

If you haven’t checked out the IIFYM.com programs, I highly recommend you take a few minutes to see how they can take your health and fitness to the next level. By utilizing the IIFYM plan (such as a Custom Macro Blueprint) and the best bicep workout, you’re setting yourself up for success.

The post The Best Bicep Workout Strategy for Hypertrophy appeared first on IIFYM.

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Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Tracking Macros for Bulk and Complex Meals


If you’re familiar and comfortable with flexible dieting, logging and tracking your meals then counting macronutrients is a breeze by now.

If you’re newer, and still unsure where to begin, check out our IIFYM macro calculator to get started, or talk to one of our coaches and they can get you on the right path.

Yet, what about those instances where the macronutrients aren’t so easy to track?

It’s not always reasonable to make each meal independently from our families or to cook each portion individually rather than saving time and cooking in bulk.

So, for those meal prep Sundays and family dinners, here’s how to partake without messing up your daily macronutrients.

Spaghetti and Meatballs




You don’t have to be Italian to love some good old fashioned spaghetti and meatballs. Plus, now that you follow IIFYM you don’t have to fear pasta anymore! This is a favorite among our clients, they love being able to lose fat while eating pasta once again!

Yet, what happens when you want to make a massive serving? Have no fear, your macronutrients can remain intact and tracked.

You’ll need:

  • 2lbs lean ground turkey (93/7)
  • ¼ tsp pepper
  • ¼ cup parsley
  • 1lb whole wheat spaghetti noodles
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 1 (30oz) jar spaghetti sauce


  1. Put sauce in a pan and simmer on medium heat
  2. In a large bowl mix turkey, pepper, salt, and parsley. Shape into 18 meatballs
  3. Place meatballs in sauce. Cover and cook 30-35 minutes or until cooked thoroughly
  4. Cook pasta according to instructions on box

Now that the IIFYM Gods have graced you with this impeccable meal, it’s time to track those macronutrients.

  • 1lb of pasta = 454 grams
  • 1 jar of sauce = 30 oz
  • 2lbs turkey = 908g/18 meatballs = 50 grams

So, if you want to portion it out into 6 servings, for example, you would simply divide:

  • 454/6= 76 grams
  • 30/6= 5 oz
  • 18 meatballs/6= 3 meatballs

Or, if there’s a specific amount you’re hoping for, simply weigh your pasta, sauce, and meatballs, and plug them in independently.

Macronutrients for 1 serving:

  • Protein: 40 grams
  • Carbs: 82 grams
  • Fiber: 14 grams
  • Fat: 15 grams

Beef and Vegetable Stew




You’ll need:

  • 2lbs 90/10 beef
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ½ tsp pepper
  • 1 clove minced garlic
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 1 onion (chopped)
  • 1 ½ cups beef broth
  • 200g diced potatoes
  • 4 medium carrots
  • 1 stalk celery (chopped)


  1. Place meat in a slow cooker
  2. Stir in beef broth, vegetables, and spices
  3. Cover and cook on low for 10-12 hours, or high for 4-6 hours

What’s difficult about soup is not getting exact portions every time. Yet, eyeballing portions is probably the best way to get as close to your macronutrients as possible. With that said, weighing out each ingredient will give you the most accurate calculation.

With that said, weighing out each ingredient will give you the most accurate calculation. We stress this with our clients so they understand where mistakes may be occurring.

Total the macronutrients for all ingredients. I came up with:

  • Protein: 192 grams
  • Carbs: 75 grams
  • Fiber: 14 grams
  • Fat: 92 grams

If you want to split the soup into equal portions, weigh the total batch (ex. 500g), and divide by the number of servings you’d like (ex. 500/4=125g).

So with our numbers, the macronutrients for each serving of soup if divided into 4 would total:

  • Protein: 48 grams
  • Carbs: 18 grams
  • Fiber: 3.5 grams
  • Fat: 23 grams

*For lower fat options, sub in chicken, or lean ground turkey.





This recipe is simple to track! Every ingredient will be individually weighed, so being spot on with your macronutrients will be a breeze.


  • 1 lb 93/7 lean ground turkey
  • Lettuce
  • Reduced fat Mexican cheese
  • Fat-free sour cream
  • Tortillas
  • Hot sauce

breastfeeding calories

Depending on how many people you’re serving will obviously affect how much of each ingredient you prepare. For our example, we’ll assume we’re making 2 tacos.

Our macronutrients for:

  • 2 tortillas (Carlita Whole Wheat Tortillas)
  • 5 oz lean ground turkey
  • Lettuce (as much as you’d like)
  • 28 grams cheese
  • 2 tbsp fat-free sour cream
  • 2 tbsp hot sauce


  • Protein: 42 grams
  • Carbs: 43 grams
  • Fiber: 6 grams
  • Fat: 19 grams

For a lower fat option, swap out 93/7 turkey for 99/1, or chicken. Or instead of reduced fat cheese, use fat-free.




pcos protein



  • 1 lb chicken
  • 1 container of whole mushrooms
  • 1 green pepper
  • 1 sweet onion
  • 2 tbsp Lawry’s marinade


  1. Chop green pepper, onion, and mushrooms into large chunks
  2. Cut chicken into large chunks and place in a baggie with marinade (for best results refrigerate for several hours)
  3. Alternate veggies and chicken on wooden kabob skewers
  4. Grill for about 10 minutes, turning every few minutes

For our example, let’s say with our portions we prepared, we were left with 6 kabobs.

Totaling everything our macronutrients would work out to:

  • Protein: 103 grams
  • Carbs: 25 grams
  • Fiber: 5 grams
  • Fat: 9 grams

Macronutrients per 2 kabobs:

  • Protein: 35 grams
  • Carbs: 8 grams
  • Fiber: 1.5 grams
  • Fat: 3 grams





Similar to soup in portioning, chili can be divided into portions. Our recipe:

  • 2 lbs 93/7 lean ground turkey
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1 8oz can of tomato sauce
  • 2 tbsp chili powder
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp ground oregano
  • 1 tsp salt
  • ¼ tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1 15 oz can kidney beans
  • 1 15 oz can pinto beans


  1. Cook meat in a large pot along with the garlic
  2. Drain the excess fat and add tomato sauce, chili powder, cumin, oregano, salt and cayenne
  3. Stir ingredients well, cover, and reduce to low heat
  4. Simmer for 1 hour stirring occasionally
  5. Add water if necessary for desired consistency

Macronutrients for this total chili recipe:

  • Protein: 183 grams
  • Carbs: 47 grams
  • Fiber: 18 grams
  • Fat: 65 grams

If you want to split the chili into equal portions, weigh the total batch (ex. 500g), and divide by the number of servings you’d like (ex. 500/4=125g).

So with our numbers, the macronutrients for each serving of chili if divided into 4 would total:

  • Protein: 46 grams
  • Carbs: 12 grams
  • Fiber: 4.5 grams
  • Fat: 16 grams

As stated in previous recipes, for lower fat options, opt for chicken or extra lean turkey. This is especially suggested if you’re eating too much fat and aren’t hitting your protein intake.

This is a common occurrence with our clients starting out. Going over on fat intake means an adjustment is necessary.

Sloppy Joes




  • 1lb 90/10 ground beef
  • ¼ cup chopped onion
  • ¼ cup chopped green pepper
  • ½ tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp mustard
  • ¾ cup ketchup
  • Pinch of salt
  • Pinch of pepper
  • Brownberry Whole Wheat Buns


  1. In a medium skillet cook ground beef, onion, and pepper. Drain liquid after cooking
  2. Stir in the garlic powder, mustard, ketchup and mix thoroughly. Reduce heat and simmer for 30 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.

Macronutrients for an entire serving of sloppy joes (excluding buns):

  • Protein: 92 grams
  • Carbs: 64 grams
  • Fiber: 0
  • Fat: 44 grams

breastfeeding calories

If you want to split the sloppy joes into equal portions, weigh the total batch (ex. 500g), and divide by the number of servings you’d like (ex. 500/4=125g).

So with our numbers, macronutrients total for each serving of sloppy joes if divided into 4 would total:

  • Protein: 23 grams
  • Carbs: 16 grams
  • Fiber: 0 grams
  • Fat: 11 grams

Let’s say we wanted to split this portion into 2 buns. Then our total macronutrients would be:

  • Protein: 37 grams
  • Carbs: 62 grams
  • Fiber: 6 grams
  • Fat: 15 grams

**For lower fat option sub in lean ground turkey

Lo Mein




Asian dishes can be made pretty macro friendly considering for many, it involves chicken, rice, vegetables, and lots of spices and sauces! Let’s talk lo mein.



  • 3 tbsp soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp sesame oil
  • 1 tsp sweetener

Lo Mein:

  • 10 oz uncooked lo mein egg noodles (for our recipe I’m using Wel-Pac)
  • 1 lb chicken
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 3 green onion stalks
  • 3 cups mixed vegetables (for our recipe I’m using Westpac Stir Fry Vegetables)
  • 2 tbsp mirin


  1. In a small bowl, combine all ingredients for sauce and whisk
  2. In a large pot, boil water, and cook noodles according to directions on package. Drain well
  3. Cook frozen veggies as directed on package
  4. Bake or cook chicken until finished to your liking
  5. Spray large skillet well with non-stick cooking spray
  6. Combine veggies, chicken, mirin, olive oil and sauce mixture
  7. Add noodles and toss to combine

For this recipe, if you wanted to split it into equal portions, you would weigh the batch and divide. So let’s say our batch weighs 500g and we want 4 servings (500/4=125g).

Macronutrients for this entire batch:

  • Protein: 140 grams
  • Carbs: 223 grams
  • Fiber: 14 grams
  • Fat: 39 grams

Macronutrients per serving (125g)

  • Protein: 35 grams
  • Carbs: 56 grams
  • Fiber: 3.5 grams
  • Fat: 10 grams


As you can see, flexible dieting isn’t only reserved for those specific, precise instances. The whole point of using IIFYM is to be able to utilize it in your everyday life. Our clients enjoy a variety of foods and dishes but it can get complicated, which is why we have coaching and custom programs to help you.

That means participating in family events and enjoying meals with friends. So yes, you can still hit your macronutrients without missing out on life. Have your cake and eat it too!

The post Tracking Macros for Bulk and Complex Meals appeared first on IIFYM.

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Thursday, August 3, 2017

“Everyone is different”: The Lazy Person’s Excuse for Not Making Progress While Dieting


How many of you at one time or another gave an excuse as to why you weren’t making progress with your fat loss diet? I couldn’t tell you how many times I heard people say “everyone is different, Matt.” While I agree, that excuse doesn’t hold up when it comes to your health and fat loss diet.

For starters, it all begins with how many calories you take in each day. If you aren’t sure what that number should be, check out the IIFYM macro calculator and it will get you all squared away so you can check that initial piece off of your checklist.

*It should be noted that we at IIFYM.com, as well as the author, would advise you to consult with your doctor before engaging in any new nutrition or exercise program, including the ones found here on IIFYM.com.

You need to begin with A before you proceed to B

When it comes to a fat loss diet, you can exercise until you’re blue in the face, but if you are eating junk all the time, you’ll never reach your fat loss diet goals.

The nice aspect of an IIFYM diet plan, it allows you some flexibility so you aren’t consuming chicken and brown rice or tilapia with asparagus at every meal like some of these “gurus” out there are recommending.

That’s no way to live your life and you aren’t going to be able to maintain that lifestyle long-term.

For that reason, IIFYM has put together some amazing programs that you should definitely check out if you are interested in reaching your fat loss diet goals quickly and without losing your sanity.


fat loss diet


Another great resource you can find over on IIFYM.com is all the free content up for grabs. I might be biased since I write for them, but there’s a ton of great content over there ranging from a wide array of topics from IIFYM articles, to exercise, supplementation, and many other topics to help you reach your fat loss diet goals.

Utilize the free content on IIFYM and not only will you learn something new, but you’ll get a better understanding of some topics that can help you through your health and fitness journey.

Macro Tracking For a Fat Loss Diet

In my opinion, a great place to start is through tracking your calories and macronutrients. In order to do this, I highly recommend a tracking app or website such Macrotracker.com or MyFitnessPal. This app allows you to track all of your meals in a nice, easy to read format, right on your phone (which if you’re like me, never leaves your side).

It will give you the breakdown of how many calories you ate, where you are with your macros for the day and how many you have left, as well as a diary where you can record your weight to check your fat loss diet progress.

Macrotracker and MyFitnessPal put everything in a nice graph to show you a visual. You can also change your macros around to suit the nutrition plan you are following whether it’s an IIFYM plan, Paleo plan, Ketogenic plan, etc.

If you wished to get a little more information out of the app, there’s also an option to upgrade to a paid version as well—however, for most people, you can get away with using the free version for all of your fat loss needs and tracking purposes.

Excuses are for the complacent and unwilling

When we see that our fat loss diet has stalled, we seem to be quick to put the blame everyone else other than on ourselves. Many times, we become complacent either with our diet or our exercise program and this, in turn, starts pumping the breaks when it comes to a fat loss diet. The fact of the matter is, you can’t out-train a poor diet.

The “everyone is different” excuse is completely played out. That’s like saying “I’m just big boned.” No, you aren’t, you’re just lazy. Some people just need some tough love in order to stick to their fat loss diet plan.

You don’t need to deprive yourself of many of the items you enjoy in order to attain fat loss.

You might be able to convince other people with your excuses as to why your fat loss diet progress has come to a halt, but it’s extremely difficult to pull one over on a true professional in the industry.

Exercise can be tiresome and demanding, but your diet shouldn’t be. Have one of our coaches build your easy to follow Custom Macro Blueprint.


fat loss diet


You must WANT to better yourself and your health

Complacency breeds failure. When it comes down to your health, no one should want it more than you do. If you are exercising and following a fat loss diet such as the IIFYM Custom Macro Blueprint, you are setting yourself up for success.

But, you need to WANT to be improving your health and overall wellness. No one wants to get ill and sick at a young age and potentially lose their battle when they could have taken some preventative measures to bypass all the pain and suffering.

These illnesses don’t just affect the individual either. Rather, they affect everyone around them as well from their friends to family.

Too many people say it’s difficult to adhere to a program, yet many of them haven’t tried a flexible dieting lifestyle. You don’t need to deprive yourself of many of the items you enjoy in order to attain fat loss. When it comes down to it, flexible dieting is about the numbers.

Even clients who have found this difficult at first, love how seamlessly it melds into their current diet plan.

Follow the Numbers and Find Success In Your Fat Loss Diet

Are you hitting your numbers? Do your macros for the day align with your plan or are you over/under? You won’t know unless you write down what you’re eating, the serving size, and macros (or simply use the MyFitnessPal app I mentioned earlier).

I can’t stress the importance of this enough. You can’t tell me that you don’t know why your fat loss stopped when I ask you how many calories you’re eating each day and the answer is “I don’t know.”

breastfeeding calories

When you get a common cold, you pay attention to the medicine dosage you need to take and when you can take your next dose, right? Why is that? Because you want to make sure you beat this cold by following the directions in order to do so.

It’s the same concept with a fat loss diet. There’s a plan in place for you to achieve success if you follow it, you win—if you don’t follow it, you lose. It’s pretty cut and dry.

How to progress to ensure success?


fat loss diet


Let’s assume you have your nutrition plan in place (like a Custom Macro Blueprint), and you are exercising regularly. All of a sudden you see the scale not move for a week. Then the next week you notice again no change. You simply hit a plateau.

This doesn’t mean you’re doing something wrong, or that you should throw in the towel, it simply means you need to make some adjustments. Don’t turn this into an excuse of why you decided to fall off the wagon and stop exercising while consuming everything in your pantry each night while parked in front of the television.

Break through your fat loss diet plateau

There’s a simple fix to breaking through that plateau—actually, two different fixes you can choose from. If you enjoy cardio, simply increase the amount of cardio you were doing. For instance, if you were doing 15 minutes of cardio, bump it up to 30. Or if you were doing 30, bump it up to 45 minutes.

On the flip side, if you hate every second of your cardio sessions during a fat loss diet, then adjust your caloric intake. A good place to start would be to eliminate 500 calories from your diet every day. At the end of the week (seven days), this would have saved you 3,500 calories—essentially, one pound of weight.

If you want something bad enough, you’ll make it happen. You simply need to make it a priority.

If cardio isn’t your thing, you could always increase the intensity in the weight room. Rather than taking a 45-60 second rest between all of your sets, cut it shorter to 30 or less. This will keep your heart rate elevated and in turn, allow you to burn more calories.

You could also do quick bouts of cardio between your sets if you wanted. To do so, you could use a battle rope for 30 seconds between your sets, or do some type of calisthenics to keep your heart rate elevated.

Understanding is Vital

These concepts truly aren’t hard, but for many, they just aren’t educated on these types of concepts, so while many of them come as common sense to many of us, learning biochemistry could be extremely hard for us, yet easy for chemists.

We need to have an understanding and not put people down for not understanding the different methods to use. That’s why I feel the content here on IIFYM is a great resource, especially when you are trying to achieve fat loss.

They also provide a ton of free resources for their clients that don’t require extra purchases.

The take-home box and message


fat loss diet


To tie all of this together so you can hit your fat loss diet goals, you need to stop making excuses and start having some accountability for yourself. On your IIFYM plan, you have the ability to eat meals away from home without dreading your next weigh in.

Your fat loss diet can continue even though you don’t eat at home and are enjoying yourself at a nice restaurant.

It should be noted, that just about every meal you eat at a restaurant is around double the normal portion size. So if fat loss is your goal, we at IIFYM recommend getting a take-home or to-go box immediately after getting your meal and then splitting everything in half so you basically have another meal to enjoy another day.

If you want something bad enough, you’ll make it happen. You simply need to make it a priority. If taking charge of your life and health is important to you, then you’ll find the time each day to be active and exercise as well as eating a sensible whole food diet. Fat loss does not happen overnight.

Be Patient With Your Fat Loss Diet

So, don’t expect to wake up looking like a fitness model after hitting the gym for a few days and cleaning up your nutrition. A fat loss diet takes time and your body will even want to fight you a little and resist any type of change. But, you need to stick with it and the results will soon follow.

I hope you found this IIFYM article on performing a fat loss diet plan helpful. If you have any further questions, feel free to reach out to the IIFYM staff and they would be glad to help you choose the perfect fat loss diet plan for you such as their Custom Macro Blueprint.

It doesn’t just end with nutrition, they also have a bunch of exercise programs you can follow as well. Turn your excuses into motivation and get after it. Before you know it, people will start asking what you’ve been doing because you’re looking fantastic. Keep pushing forward.


The post “Everyone is different”: The Lazy Person’s Excuse for Not Making Progress While Dieting appeared first on IIFYM.

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Tuesday, August 1, 2017

The Benefits and Drawbacks of the Keto Diet

What is the Keto Diet?

A keto diet (ketogenic) is a very high-fat diet, moderate to low protein and very low in carbohydrate, which causes a shift in primary metabolic fuel source from carbohydrates to fats. It also alters fat metabolism so the body produces compounds known as ketone bodies in the liver.

These compounds include acetone, aceto-acetate & beta-hydroxy-buterate. These ketones can be used as energy in tissue like skeletal muscle and more importantly, brain. If you’re looking for a more flexible approach then start with the macro calculator to begin losing fat.

Under normal conditions, the brain exclusively uses glucose for energy, but in a ketogenic state, the brain will shift to using ketones as a fuel source in order to spare blood glucose for essential tasks such as red blood cell metabolism (red blood cells can only use glucose as fuel since they lack mitochondria).

Keep in mind that even with zero carbohydrate intake, the liver can produce about 120g of glucose per day in a process called gluconeogenesis (GNG) for essential tasks from substrates like amino acids and other gluconeogenic metabolites.

Where did the Keto Diet Start?

The keto diet gained most of its attention for its role in the nutritional management of epilepsy and Alzheimers. More recently, science has shown positive clinical outcomes for a number of types of cancers through its ability to minimize tumor growth. In the case of all three of these diseases, ketones are therapeutic through providing an alternative substrate to glucose.

Ketogenic diets have also recently moved into the fitness & bodybuilding industry as a dietary method to improve body composition and reduce body fat.

Why are Carbohydrates Viewed as the Bad Guys?


keto diet


Carbohydrates are often viewed as bad for body composition due to the fact that they increase insulin secretion. Insulin is a hormone that is released when blood glucose rises and shuttles glucose into various tissues including muscle and fat.

Due to this, insulin is considered a storage hormone and thus many people have made recommendations to avoid carbohydrates at all costs.

Carbohydrates and Insulin: Primary Cause of Body Fat Gain?

Since carbohydrates do increase insulin and insulin is a storage hormone many people have made large leaps of logic to point the finger at carbohydrates as the primary cause of fat gain and obesity as opposed to overall caloric intake. They also point out that in a keto diet, carbohydrates are not being used as fuel hardly at all whereas fats become the primary fuel.

Their logic is, eat more fat, burn more fat. While that is true to a certain extent, it’s not quite that simple.

When calories and protein are equal, a keto diet does NOT seem to offer any additional fat loss benefit compared to an equal calorie, equal protein non-keto diet according to a study published in 2006 in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition from Arizona State University.

These individuals miss the fact that by limiting carbohydrate to very low levels in the diet, you are typically going to restrict calories as well.

In fact, many people have become so passionate about low-carb lifestyles that they become keto-zealots rather than caring about the science of what actually makes a fat loss diet successful.

This debate is a major factor why the keto diet is such a hot topic right now, but are they really inherently superior for fat loss?

Why the Keto Diet isn’t Superior for Fat Loss


keto diet


There are several studies that keto-zealots often point to in order to support claims of a keto diet being superior for loss. For example, a recent meta-analysis published in 2013, compared very low-calorie ketogenic diets (VLCKD) to low-fat diets with a minimum of 12 months of follow-up.

They found that individuals who were assigned to the VLCKD were able to achieve greater weight loss than participants in the low-fat groups.

What this study doesn’t consider is that the research studies selected for inclusion in this analysis did not equate for protein and in some cases even overall calorie intake.

So it’s likely greater weight loss was achieved in VLCKD by default since we know a keto diet can be more satiating and often people consume lower calories than in low-fat high carbohydrate diets. These studies also did not control for protein intake which is often higher for a keto diet vs. a low fat, high carbohydrate diet.

breastfeeding calories

So what does the science say? When calories and protein are equal, a keto diet does NOT seem to offer any additional fat loss benefit compared to an equal calorie, equal protein non-keto diet according to a study published in 2006 in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition from Arizona State University.

In this highly controlled study, both groups lost an almost identical amount of weight and body fat. This says that for fat loss, you can do whatever your preference is.

What About the Health Benefits of a Keto Diet?

There is data to support a benefit of a keto diet in a number of medical conditions such as epilepsy, Alzheimer’s, cancer, and type 2 diabetes.

In these conditions, providing an alternative fuel source instead of carbohydrate seems to have a therapeutic effect. In the case of type 2 diabetes, using ketones as fuel instead of glucose can help lower blood glucose levels.

It is important to point out however, that type 2 diabetes also improves during any form of caloric restriction and it is likely that a keto diet is not unique in that aspect, rather it is causing a caloric deficit by severely restricting carbohydrate intake. We have helped numerous clients lose fat while on a moderate carb intake in a caloric deficit.

Keto diets are also found to possibly be helpful for a number of types of cancers, specifically glucose obligate cancer types. Meaning they can only grow with glucose present as the tumors use it as exclusive fuel.


keto diet benefits


Thus by limiting carbohydrate intake and forcing our bodies to use fats and ketone bodies instead of carbohydrate, can have a therapeutic effect by essentially ‘starving’ these tumors.

Please keep in mind this is not a ‘cure’ for cancer and some cancers are not glucose obligate users. If you have cancer you should ALWAYS follow your oncologist’s recommendations for your specific disease.

Some studies have reported less hunger when following a keto diet and this is believed to be linked to fats being more satiating resulting from slower digestion and extended feelings of fullness.

Currently, the most popular form of keto is a modified keto diet…

A number of studies reported decreased triglycerides, diastolic blood pressure and greater increases in HDL in the keto diet groups compared to a low-fat diet.

However, we need to consider that most of these studies failed to equate for both calories and protein, and it is likely that if similar weight loss was achieved, these health outcomes would look similar regardless of the diet used. This is supported by the Johnston study from Arizona state which saw similar outcomes when calories and protein were equated.

Common Mistakes of Ketogenic Diets

The major mistake I see for people on a keto diet is they do not adhere to the correct ratios of macronutrients necessary to ensure ketone production. For example, adherence to low carbohydrate is usually met by most. However, the ratio of protein to fat is often too high.

If you feel your macro split is offer kilter then have one of our coaches create your Custom Macro Blueprint.

On a traditional keto diet, carbohydrate intake is usually about 5-10% of total caloric intake, protein is 10-15%, and fats are around 80%.

Currently, the most popular form of keto is a modified keto diet which puts carbohydrate intake around 5-10% of total caloric intake, protein at no more than 20-25% of total energy intake and fats should make up the majority of total calories at approximately 70% of calories.

Often we see clients that aren’t following either of these splits while attempting to be on a keto diet. This, of course, hinders their results.

Why is Having Too Much Protein a Problem?


keto diet


In a carbohydrate restricted state, the body calls upon its secondary energy sources, namely fats and proteins in order to function. In a carbohydrate-restricted state, protein is converted to glucose through the process known as gluconeogenesis in the liver as described previously.

This is why it is important to ensure your protein is not providing greater than 20-25% of your total caloric intake while following a keto diet, as too much protein results in glucose production and remains the primary energy source, as opposed to fats or ketone bodies.


When it comes to overall body composition and fat loss, the keto diet isn’t better than carbohydrate containing dietary interventions when both calories and protein are equated.

Other Considerations

The idea of being able to eat plenty of high-fat foods at every meal may sound highly appealing to some but doesn’t come without nutritional consequences. Eliminating carbohydrates means like any diet plan that restricts whole food groups, makes it far more difficult to meet daily micronutrient requirements, in particular B- vitamins.

If you prefer high-fat foods in preference to carbohydrate containing food products, particularly during a phase of calorie deficit, and you find it easier to adhere to this way. Then, by all means, attempt a keto diet.

It’s important to make sure you consume a wide variety of fresh vegetables, as these are essential for their rich source of fiber, vitamins and minerals, antioxidants and other important micronutrients.

In any case, I strongly recommend taking a multivitamin as well as an iron supplement, specifically for women, or males on low caloric intakes, since it is difficult to consume a sufficient iron, and reasonable to ask without essentially all protein sources being provided by lean red meat.

My Recommendation

Any nutrition diet plan that sees you in a caloric deficit is going to result in fat loss. If you prefer high-fat foods in preference to carbohydrate containing food products, particularly during a phase of calorie deficit, and you find it easier to adhere to this way. Then, by all means, attempt a keto diet.

Yet, be sure that you can make it a lifestyle. There is little benefit to following a diet plan that is not maintainable long term. Many people lose weight on a keto diet, only to pile the pounds back on after carbohydrates are reintroduced.

If you feel as though you want to include carbohydrates within your diet, then have us build you a Custom Macro Blueprint. As outlined above, the most important factor while on a diet plan is restricting calories. This can be achieved with a proper split including carbs.

Need Help with Preparing a Keto Diet?


keto diet


Foods High in Fat


  • Regular Cream Cheese
  • Full Fat Tasty Cheese
  • Camembert / Brie
  • Cooking Cream
  • Thickened Cream

Meat & Protein Sources

  • Bacon (full fat)
  • Chorizo sausage
  • Salami
  • Meat products with visible fats
  • Lamb
  • Pork Belly
  • Salmon
  • Egg Yolks
  • Whole Eggs

Oils and Fats

  • All varieties
  • i.e. Coconut oil, canola, olive, peanut oil, sesame oil.
  • Butter

Coconut Products


keto diet


  • Coconut cream
  • Coconut milk
  • Coconut flakes
  • Desiccated coconut

Fruit & Nuts

  • Avocado spread
  • Guacamole
  • Cashews
  • Macadamia
  • Brazil nuts

Other Foods

  • Dark Chocolate Unsweetened
  • Cacao (unsweetened chocolate)
  • Natural Peanut Butter
  • Cashew/Macadamia Spreads

Low Calorie

The following vegetables can be eaten relatively freely due to their low carbohydrate content, high fiber, and nutritional value.




  • Cruciferous Vegetables such as Broccoli, Cauliflower, Cabbage, and Brussels Sprout
  • Leafy Greens such as Spinach, Chard, Lettuce
  • Asparagus
  • Eggplant
  • Zucchini
  • Cucumber
  • Lemons and Limes

The Following Fruit & Vegetables can be Eaten in Moderation

(i.e. makeup about 50-100g per day as these are slightly higher in carbohydrate than the above but are important to include due to their equally valuable fiber content and high nutritional value.)

  • Onion
  • Capsicum/bell peppers
  • Tomato
  • Carrot
  • Strawberries
  • Mushrooms

Foods to Avoid When Following a Keto Diet




  • Wheat and products of (i.e. bread, breakfast cereals, grains, crackers, biscuits)
  • Potato and products of (i.e. potato chips, hot chips)
  • Corn and products of (i.e. corn chips, corn cakes, corn tortillas, corn dips)
  • Rice and products of (i.e. rice pudding, rice crackers, rice cakes)
  • Oatmeal
  • All baked products such as muffins, bread, slices, biscuits, pancakes, croissants etc.
  • Fast Food such as Pizza, French Fries, and Ice Cream
  • Regular flavored yogurt (natural yogurt is suitable but pay attention to portion size)
  • Milk products (milk alternatives such as unsweetened soy, coconut milk, and almond milk are suitable)
  • Fruit, in general, should be consumed with care, pay attention to portion size if you wish to adhere to your daily carbohydrate targets. For example, banana & mango, both high carbohydrate could very easily take you over in just one serve.
  • Alcohol
  • Sugar, Honey, Maple Syrup, Corn Syrup (natural & artificial sweeteners such as stevia, aspartame, and sucralose are suitable for sugar substitute)

Ultimately, we understand that there’s no magical diet and that some prefer to eat more fat while dieting. We have dealt with over 15k clients, many of which have medical restrictions and require different parameters while in a caloric restricted state. No matter what your limitations, preferences or needs are while on a diet plan. We can build you a Custom Macro Blueprint that will help you lose unwanted fat.


The post The Benefits and Drawbacks of the Keto Diet appeared first on IIFYM.

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Thursday, July 27, 2017

5 Rules for a Powerful Upper Body Workout


Let’s face it, who doesn’t want a jacked upper body? There’s no shame in it, and by following the points in today’s IIFYM article you create both a powerful and sculpted upper body in no time!

While following the basic lifts and rules is important, if you truly want to optimize your upper body muscular adaptations you need the latest and great scientific techniques discussed in this article.

(Remember, your diet must also be optimal to get any noticeable muscle gains, you can use our IIFYM macro calculator right HERE to see exactly how much you should be eating!).

Here are 5 scientifically backed techniques we use at IIFYM to help you craft a powerful upper body workout along with practical examples to get you started!

1.) Focus on Mechanical Tension to Maximize Upper Body Power

While there is an ongoing debate within the fitness industry to decipher the exact mechanisms of muscle growth (hypertrophy), one factor that is not debated is mechanical tension.

Mechanical tension occurs when you move moderate-heavy loads with high levels of force output. Mechanical tension disrupts muscle integrity, this ‘shocks’ the body and causes several cellular mechanisms which activate MTOR, the key pathway that stimulates muscle protein synthesis and new muscle growth (1).

To optimize mechanical tension in your upper body workouts you’re going to want to perform heavy compound movements. These force your muscles to generate lots of force while also increasing training volume, another key factor in muscle growth!

Here are some great upper body exercises to maximize mechanical tension:


upper body



  • Barbell Bench Press
  • Bodyweight Dips
  • Incline DB Press
  • Weighted Push-ups


  • Overhead Barbell Shoulder Press
  • Seated DB Press


  • Bent over barbell row
  • Pull-ups
  • DB Single arm bent over Row
  • Lat pulldown


All of our personalized programs here at IIFYM utilize strategic compound movements to optimize mechanical tension and muscular growth, you can learn more on these here: IIFYM.com

2.) Use Metabolic Stress to Stimulate New Upper Body Growth

Metabolic stress is another key factor in muscle growth and is the perfect addition post focusing on the compound mechanical tension based lifts.

High levels of metabolic stress may increase cell swelling, anabolic hormone production, and alter motor unit recruitment patterns. Combined, these can increase upper body power and growth (2,3)!

The easiest way to picture metabolic stress is to an intense ‘burn’ and ‘pump’. If you’ve ever done high rep training or used drop sets/supersets then you can be sure you’ve stimulated some metabolic stress.

…it is important to strategically manipulate your volume loads and allow for appropriate recovery.

Often people also have days where they typically focus on either mechanical tension (heavier loads) or metabolic stress (lighter loads).

However, if you’re going to add both into your workout I recommend focusing on the mechanical tension in the beginning of your workout and metabolic stress in the end!

Some great upper body exercises to maximize metabolic stress are listed below:


upper body


Chest (Reps 15-30)

  • Pushups
  • Cable fly
  • DB Fly
  • Machine chest press

Back (Reps 15-30)

  • Reverse body weight rows
  • Low cable row
  • Straight arm pulldowns

3.) Volume

Another rule for a powerful upper body workout is ensuring proper amounts of Volume within a workout and within a week or month!

Training volume is essentially the amount of work your muscles perform. Training volume can be quantified by multiplying your Sets X Reps X Weight = Total Volume.

Recent research suggests that there is a dose response relationship between total volume load and muscle growth! In short, greater volume loads will result in increased upper body muscle growth and power.

breastfeeding calories

One group of researchers found that 10 sets per muscle group per week was optimal. However, these loads may vary person to person. For example, greater volume loads have not been researched as extensively in a trained population.

If you are currently doing more than 10 sets per week for each muscle, try adding 20% more sets/reps next month and see how you benefit (4).

One way to increase the volume of your workouts is to provide sufficient rest periods between sets. Longer rest periods will allow you to sufficiently recover between upper body exercises and allow you to train with greater loads which will increase your overall training volume!

Increased Training Frequency


upper body exercises


Another great way that we recommend here at IIFYM is an increased training frequency. For example, if you currently just train your chest once per week, adding in a second chest session (even if it’s short) will cause noticeable improvements in upper body muscle growth and power.

While volume is a key driver for muscular growth if not periodized properly chronic high volume loads may lead to cumulative fatigue and potentially even over reaching. Therefore, it is important to strategically manipulate your volume loads and allow for appropriate recovery.

In all of our plan here at IIFYM, we systematically vary volume to optimize both recovery and growth. Lastly, one final way to deal with the increased stress from training with high volume loads is to dial in on your nutrition.

One way to make sure you’re consuming and an efficient number of calories are by using one of our many personalized calculators that we offer on IIFYM.com. Yet, if you’re looking for a customized diet plan, one our coaches will build your Macro Blueprint!

4.) Vary Your Exercises

Another principle of training that we believe to be essential here at IIFYM is exercise selection, which basically promotes the use of multiple upper body exercises rather than the same 2-3 every week.

All our work out protocols from IIFYM provide sufficient exercise variation to maximize results, while also reducing overuse injuries, boredom and continually keep your body adapting to avoid plateaus or slow progress.

Several pieces of research have supported this method, showing that varying your upper body exercises may create different activation patterns and promote uniform muscle growth (1,5)!

…optimize your upper body training, make sure you vary your rep ranges within a workout or at least on a weekly or monthly basis (8).

In fact, one study examined the effects of different workout regimens with different levels of exercise variation. They compared the growth of the quad (front leg muscle) using just one exercise versus multiple exercises. Interestingly, they kept training volume (sets) the same to solely investigate the effects of exercise selection.

After the trial, these researchers discovered that increased exercised variation resulted in more overall muscle growth in all four heads of the quadriceps (6).

Based on this, switching up your upper body exercises may allow you to develop your upper, middle, and lower portions of your muscles, or, hit all the heads/muscle fibers within that muscle group. You can vary the exercises within a week along with total program re-designs every 4-8 weeks.

Below are some variations of upper body exercises that you can add into your routine:


upper body



  • Incline push-ups
  • Decline bench press
  • Incline machine press with resistance bands
  • DB fly’s
  • Cable fly’s (Varying your stance, closer to the machine and stepping further away)


  • DB seal row
  • Single arm cable row
  • Barbell Deadlift
  • Standing T-Bar Row
  • Pull-ups (Vary your grips- wide, narrow, supinated)

5.) Vary Your Rep Ranges

If you’ve ever had a workout designed here at IIFYM you will see we vary the rep ranges within a session. As discussed, there are greater benefits by using both heavier and light loads into your upper body workouts. By combining the two, we can focus on both upper body power and growth.

While the common ‘8-12’ rep range is effective, research suggests that higher and lower rep ranges can still be beneficial, it also reduces boredom and works multiple aspects of performance (such as strength, power and muscular endurance) (7)!

On top of that, one study showed that varying your rep ranges within a given workout or given week may provide you with some added benefit for muscle growth. Therefore, here at

Therefore, here at IIFYM we believe in order to optimize your upper body training, make sure you vary your rep ranges within a workout or at least on a weekly or monthly basis (8). Yet, remember that without a dialed in diet, muscle growth (hypertrophy) is tough!

One of our coaches can create your Custom Macro Blueprint to help you put on slabs of muscle with minimal fat gain!

Here are some example rep ranges to implement each week:

  • Day 1: 6-8RM
  • Day 2: 12-14RM
  • Day 3: 18-20RM

upper body


Example Workout Applying All 5 Power Rules!


Reps Rest
Barbell Bench Press* 1 1 4 8 2 min.
Barbell Bent Over Row *1 2 4 8 2 min.
Incline DB Press *2 3A 3 10 90 seconds
DB Seal Row*2 3B 3 10 90 seconds
DB Cable Fly’s *2 4 3 10 90 seconds
Single arm cable row *2 5 3 10 90 seconds
Pushups *3 6A 3 20-30 90 seconds
Bodyweight reverse rows *3 6B 3 20-30 60 seconds

*1 = Mechanical Tension
*2 = Exercise Variation/High Total Volume
*3 = Metabolic Stress / Varying Rep Ranges

Wrapping it all up

There you have 5 rules for a powerful upper body routine that can help you increase both upper body power and growth!

    • Start your upper body routine with compound lifts that use heavier loads and target mechanical tension!
    • Next, make sure you add in high rep metabolic days or burnout exercises/sets at the end of your workouts to maximize metabolic stress or the ‘pump’.
    • Volume is another primary driver of muscle hypertrophy. You can increase volume by taking longer rest and doing more reps per set, or, simply adding in more sets per workout or training days per week.
    • Exercise variation may alter muscle activation patterns and promote more overall muscle growth over the long-term. Try to alter your exercise selection within a workout or on a weekly/monthly basis.
    • Lastly, to optimize these adaptations it is essential you are consuming the right diet, specifically calorie intake and the correct amounts of protein. If you are unsure how much protein or total macros/calories you need in each day check out this article here: Protein RequirementMacro Split, and IIFYM under a Microscope.



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