Real Research. Credible Sources. Mike wanted to create a site where he could help readers live a healthy and nutritious life. He believe's we control our destiny, and we can choose to live a long and healthy life by eating right and treating our bodies with respect.
Who says chicken and rice has to be boring? Here are 10 delicious recipes that will never get old.
Chicken and rice are without a doubt two of the most popular foods among fitness folk.
They’re cheap, versatile, easy to prepare, and extremely “macro friendly” (especially when you’re cutting).
What they aren’t, though, is exciting, and hot sauce will only take you so far before your meals become just a boring plate of meat and grains.
That’s why you need a list of simple recipes like these that give you the high-protein and low-fat goodness of chicken and rice with the deliciousness of more indulgent meals.
As you’ll see, it doesn’t take much in the way of ingredients, time, or cooking skill to turn this bland bodybuilding fare into something delicious.
For example, the Hong Kong-Style Baked Chicken & Broccoli Rice gives you a taste of the exotic, the Baked Chicken & Pea Risotto makes for a classic high-protein fix, and the Lavender Chicken & Rice is a unique twist that you probably haven’t tried before.
Podcast #109: Shawn Stevenson on how to get the best sleep of your life - YouTube
In this podcast I interview Shawn Stevenson, author of the book Sleep Smarter and host of the The Model Health podcast.
I wanted to interview Shawn on the subject of sleep because while I’ve written a bit about it, I haven’t really dived into it here on the podcast.
“Everyone knows” that getting enough sleep is important, but not everyone knows just how important it really is, and especially for us fitness folk.
Sleep insufficiency has been linked to auto crashes, industrial disasters, and medical and other occupational errors.
It increases the mortality and the risk of chronic diseases like hypertension, diabetes, depression, obesity, and cancer, and it reduces quality of life and productivity.
Research shows that inadequate sleep can even slow weight loss, lead to weight gain and muscle loss, and reduce testosterone levels.
The bottom line is that your sleep hygiene is like your diet—it’s either working for you or against you, regardless of whether you realize it.
And in this interview, you’re going to learn all about what “good sleep hygiene” really is, and what you can do starting tonight to get some of the best sleep of your life.
And, just as a final little teaser, that doesn’t necessarily mean sleeping more than you already are. In fact, you may even be able to sleep less but feel more rested every day by improving the quality or “efficiency” of your sleep.
The reality is if your sleep efficiency is really dialed in, you shouldn’t need to spend more than 6 to 6.5 hours in bed every night, and in this interview, Shawn explains why and how to get there.
So, if any of that sounds interesting to you, then I think you’re going to enjoy the interview. Here it is…
If you want easy, healthy homemade spaghetti sauce recipes that everyone will love, this list is for you.
Spaghetti is one of those classic childhood comfort foods that never seems to get old.
It requires basically no cooking skills, it’s a guaranteed crowd pleaser, and it can be modified in a million different ways to suit your tastes and dietary preferences.
And as you’ll see with these 10 spaghetti recipes, it can even be “macro friendly.”
For example, check out the 5-Ingredient Tomato Sauce from Scratch for a delicious, lower-calorie take on classic marinara sauce; if you want something I guarantee you haven’t tried before, then give the Baked Goat Cheese Marinara Dip a whirl; and if you’re looking to meal prep with almost no “prep,” try the Simple Slow Cooker Marinara.
Poke around on Internet forums and you’ll find plenty to feed your anxiety.
Personal stories range from the tame–mild joint and muscle aches and the like–to the downright horrific and debilitating, with some long-time bodybuilders so incapacitated that they can’t even tie their shoes until the ibuprofen kicks in.
If that isn’t enough, there’s plenty of video evidence, too.
I’ll save your eyes (and appetite), but trust me–serious weightlifting injuries can be particularly gruesome.
And so weightlifting, and strength training in particular, has been saddled with a bum rap for decades now.
Thankfully, the tides are changing and strength training is gaining more and more mainstream popularity, but many people still think that the dangers of weightlifting far exceed the benefits.
Well, as you’ll soon see in this article, while weightlifting does have its “dangers,” they’re not nearly as bad as many people think.
Ironically, research shows that it’s actually one of the safest kinds of exercise you can do…when it’s done properly.
That, my friends, is the catch.
When done incorrectly–and there are many ways to mess it up–weightlifting can become very dangerous, very fast.
So, if you want to understand what science really says about the dangers of weightlifting, the benefits it has to offer most everyone, and how to do it as safely as possible, then let’s dive in.
How Likely Are You to Get Injured with Weightlifting?
There’s a saying in sports that “you’re always between injuries.”
That may sound a bit morbid and pessimistic, but there’s a kernel of truth there, too.
Anyone that has played sports competitively for any period of time knows that injuries eventually occur, even if they’re only mild, and weightlifting is no exception to this rule.
Do it seriously for long enough and you can count on at least having to occasionally deal with problems of the “nagging” variety, like tendonitis, joint pain, or excessive muscle tightness.
That said, research does show that bodybuilding is one of the safest sports you can “play.”
Case in point:
In one review of 20 studies, scientists found that, on average, bodybuilding produced just one injury for every 1,000 hours of training.
To put that in perspective, if you spend 5 hours per week weightlifting, you could go almost four years without experiencing any kind of injury whatsoever.
Researchers also noted that most of the injuries tended to be minor aches and pains that didn’t require any type of special treatment or recovery protocols. In most cases, rest with a bit of ice and heat wins the day.
Now, as we move into more intense and technical types of weightlifting, like CrossFit, Olympic weightlifting, and powerlifting, the injury rate rose, but not nearly as much as you might think. These activities produced just 2 to 4 injuries per 1,000 hours of training.
For comparison, sports like ice hockey, football, soccer, and rugby have injury rates ranging from 6 to 260 per 1,000 hours, and long-distance runners can expect about 10 injuries per 1,000 hours of pavement pounding.
In other words, you’re about 6 to 10 times more likely to get hurt playing everyday sports than hitting the gym for some heavy weightlifting.
The payoff for weightlifting is tremendous as well, delivering a number of health and fitness benefits that you simply can’t get from other types of sports and exercise.
When you compare all of that to the rather negligible risk of injury, and the generally mild nature of the injuries that most often occur, the choice is clear:
Choosing to lift weights is far better than choosing not to out of fear of getting hurt.
The reality is if your number one goal in life is to experience no physical injuries whatsoever, then your only surefire option is to never leave your bed.
Every time you step into your car, take the stairs instead of the elevator, or, hell, type on a computer, you’re flirting with injury to one degree or another.
Dealing with risk is just part of life. All we can do is weigh the probabilities and potential upsides and downsides, make choices that are most likely to play out in our favor, and do everything we can to create positive outcomes.
Now, I mentioned earlier that my enthusiasm isn’t for weightlifting per se, but weightlifting that’s done safely and intelligently.
If you’re going about your training properly, you can be squatting hundreds of pounds every week and have healthier joints and a lower risk of injury than a guy who just walks his dog around the block a few times per week.
If you’re going about it recklessly, though, then every time you step in the gym, you’re asking for trouble.
Let’s look at the major differences between these two approaches.
Sure, you can find people that have ripped a pec while benching, collapsed while squatting a bending barbell, or jackhammered their lower back with a heavy pull, but these worst-case scenarios rarely happen.
The reality is most weightlifting injuries are insidious and give you plenty of time to change course before the bottom falls out.
You know, your knee feels a little stiff the day after heavy squats. You shrug it off and keep going. A few weeks later, it’s starting to hurt while you squat. “No pain, no gain,” you say, and keep going. A few more weeks and, well, now it just hurts all of the time.
These are called “repetitive stress injuries,” or RSI’s, and they’re the bane of every athlete. They’re not painful enough to keep you on the sidelines, but cause just enough trouble to hinder progress.
Fortunately, the solution is simple: a bit of rest is all it usually takes.
Once an RSI has set in, the only way to get through it is to avoid the activity that caused it, and that means avoiding certain exercises or, in some cases, training the muscle group altogether.
Now, as I mentioned earlier, if you spend enough time in the gym, you’re probably going to experience an RSI of one type and severity or another, but let’s look at some preventative things that you can do to stave them off for as long as possible.
If It Hurts, Don’t Do It
This might seem like common sense, but we all know that “common” sense isn’t really all that common.
The rule here is simple:
If something hurts, stop immediately.
I’m not talking about muscle soreness or lactic acid buildup, but pain. If a rep hurts enough to make you wince, that means you need to stop.
Pain is a warning that something is wrong, and if you don’t listen to your body’s warning, you’re asking for it.
So, when you hit pain, stop, rest for a couple of minutes and try the exercise again. If it still hurts, do something else and come back to it next time you’re programmed for it and see how it goes.
If it’s still a problem, do a substitution instead. Don’t think that you “have” to do any exercise, even if it hurts.
Now, if you aren’t sure if something qualifies as pain or the normal discomfort of training, ask yourself these two questions:
Is the pain on both sides of my body, or just one?
When you perform exercises correctly, both sides of your body are fairly equally subjected to stress.
Thus, if one side starts to hurt more than the other, it’s more likely to be a sign to stop rather than muscle burn or fatigue.
Is the pain concentrated around a joint?
These are the types of pains that you’re most likely to encounter because muscle strains and tears are very uncommon.
Aches and stiffness generally go away if you warm up properly, but genuine joint pains won’t (in fact, they’ll generally get worse).
Thus, when they do happen, simply rest the affected joint(s) until the pain is completely gone.
One of the easiest ways to get hurt in your weightlifting is getting greedy.
It increases the likelihood that your form will break down, it can place more stress on your joints and ligaments than they can handle, and it can increase the likelihood that you’ll fall behind in recovery.
A much smarter, and ultimately more effective, approach to progression is one that’s slow and steady.
If you’re new to weightlifting and you can add 5 pounds to your big lifts every week or two for the first several months, you’re doing great.
If you’re an experience weightlifter on a proper bulk, then gaining just 1 rep per week (and thus adding weight every few weeks) is good progress. Fractional plates for “microloading” can also be helpful here.
Progressing this way also helps with the next point…
Be a Stickler for Good Form
Wanna know one weird trick for immediately increasing your whole-body strength by at least 10%?
Use shitty form!
“Cheat reps” are an easy way to add weight to the bar, but they also reduce the quality of the training and increase the risk of injury.
Remember that the goal when you perform a resistance training exercise isn’t to haphazardly lift as much weight as possible, but to carefully control it through a full range of motion.
This not only protects you from injury but also makes each and every rep, exercise, and workout that you do more conducive to muscle and strength gain.
This is especially important with compound exercises like the squat, deadlift, and bench press because while they’re not inherently dangerous, they generally involve the heaviest weights and most technical skill.
Thus, there’s a big difference between cheating on the last rep or two of isolation exercises like the dumbbell curl and lateral raise versus a barbell pull or press.
So, the takeaway here is simple:
Don’t sacrifice form for the sake of progression.
Instead, learn proper form for every exercise that you perform and stick to it.
The Bottom Line on How Dangerous Weightlifting Really Is
Weightlifting isn’t nearly as dangerous many people think.
In fact, it’s generally one of the safest sports that you can get into, less dangerous than hitting the soccer field or running trails.
That said, it also must be approached responsibly.
Respect your body and what you’re demanding of it, and realize that it’s almost always reckless weightlifting that leads to the haunting types of injuries that make many people afraid to touch a barbell.
So, while you can expect your fair share of mild muscle and joint aches and pains as you progress as a weightlifter, you also can, on the whole, remain health and injury-free so long as you…
Don’t try to push through pain.
Don’t rush progression.
Don’t sacrifice form.
Happy and healthy training!
What’s your take on the dangers of weightlifting? Have anything else you’d like to share? Let me know in the comments below!
If you’re wondering what L-carnitine is, why people supplement with it, and how it can benefit you, then you want to read this article.
L-carnitine is finding its way into more and more supplements these days.
If you listen to the hype, it’s a potent and versatile supplement that can confer a number of benefits, including more fat loss and muscle gain, better post-workout recovery, and increased cognitive performance.
On the other hand, many people claim that it’s a complete dud and can’t do any of these things.
Well, as you’ll see, the truth is somewhere in the middle.
The reality is L-carnitine isn’t a wonder supplement, but science does show that it can be effective for certain purposes.
And in this article, we’re going to break it all down.
You’re going to learn what L-carnitine is, how it works, how it can (and can’t) benefit you, how to take it, and more.
Let’s get started.
What Is L-Carnitine?
L-carnitine is a naturally occurring amino acid found mostly in meat and dairy products.
It’s “conditionally essential,” which means that your body can produce it as long as you’re also eating enough of two other amino acids that it can’t produce, lysine and methionine.
L-carnitine serves several vital functions in the body, mostly related to the production of cellular energy. Thus, it’s not surprising that most of the L-carnitine in your body is found in your muscles, which have to be able to quickly generate a tremendous amount of energy.
Thus, most of us fitness folk don’t need to supplement with carnitine for health reasons.
Instead, we do it to boost our bodies’ carnitine stores beyond what’s normally attainable through diet alone, which can provide a number of benefits.
L-Carnitine and Muscle Damage and Soreness
This is one of the most reliable benefits of L-carnitine supplementation, and that’s why you’ll find it in my post-workout supplement RECHARGE.
Studiesshow that it reduces muscle damage during and after intense exercise, thereby improving muscle repair and reducing muscle soreness.
Researchers are still figuring out exactly how this works, but the most likely hypothesis at this point is that these effects are mediated by an increase in blood flow to the muscles, which reduces oxidative stress and improves cellular signalling related to muscle recovery.
L-Carnitine and Fat Loss
L-carnitine is necessary for fat oxidation (burning), which is why supplement marketers often claim it helps speed up fat loss.
Unfortunately, it’s not that cut and dried.
While it’s true that a carnitine deficiency could make it harder to lose fat, most people aren’t deficient, and studies show that boosting carnitine levels beyond normal doesn’t increase fat burning.
So, supplementing with any form of L-carnitine isn’t likely to help you lose fat faster unless you’re elderly or don’t eat meat (and even then, it’s questionable if it’ll make a difference).
There’s also some evidence ALCAR may reduce the negative symptoms of ADHD.
Many healthy people also report cognitive benefits with acetyl-L-carnitine supplementation, but unfortunately, there isn’t enough research on it yet to confirm or deny such claims.
L-Carnitine and Insulin Sensitivity
A fewstudies have shown that L-carnitine may increase insulin sensitivity in people with diabetes, but it’s unknown if it produces the same effects in healthy people.
L-Carnitine and Fertility
Severalstudies have found that L-carnitine can improve male sperm quality, and particularly in men who already have low sperm quality or infertility issues.
What’s the Clinically Effective Dose of L-Carnitine?
The effective dose of L-carnitine depends on which type you use.
The recommended doses for each are as follows:
Acetyl-L-Carnitine: 630 to 2,500 mg per day
L-Carnitine L-Tartrate: 1,000 to 4,000 mg per day
Glycine Propionyl L-Carnitine: 1,000 to 4,000 mg per day
L-Carnitine: 500 to 2,000 mg per day
What Types of Results Should I Expect From L-Carnitine?
That really depends on who you are.
If you’re young, healthy, and eat a relatively nutritious diet, the main benefit you can expect from L-carnitine supplementation is less post-workout muscle soreness and faster recovery.
It may also slightly increase your workout performance, but the evidence is fairly weak.
If you’re middle-aged or older, supplementing with L-carnitine may also help you lose fat and gain muscle slightly faster and experience less fatigue in your workouts.
And if you don’t eat meat, increasing your carnitine levels through dietary changes or supplementation can benefit you in the same ways as it does older people.
(In case you’re wondering why carnitine deficiencies are so prevalent among vegans and vegetarians, most vegan and vegetarian diets contain far lower amounts of lysine and methionine–the essential amino acids needed to produce carnitine–than omnivorous diets.)
Does L-Carnitine Have Any Side Effects?
Studies show that L-carnitine supplementation is safe and without side effects.
This matter is controversial, however, due to a study published in 2013 that suggested that the carnitine in meat can increase the risk of heart disease.
There’s a good reason to not buy into the hysteria, though: this research didn’t actually demonstrate that eating red meat increased the risk of heart disease.
Instead, it showed that it caused a temporary increase of a substance known as TMAO, which has been associated with heart disease but hasn’t been proven to actually cause it.
In other words, the idea that eating meat increases the risk of heart disease in all people under all circumstances is an unlikely hypothesis.
This is further supported by the fact that studies have found no link between red meat consumption and heart disease, diabetes, stroke, or cancer.
That said, there’s evidence that eating processed red meats like bacon, salami, and hot dogs, may increase the risk of heart disease, but we don’t know if this observation is related to red meat consumption per se or generally unhealthy living.
What’s the Best Type of L-Carnitine?
L-carnitine is poorly absorbed, so you’ll want to use one of the other forms.
My go-to is L-carnitine L-tartrate because it’s the form most associated with muscle- and recovery-related benefits, and that’s why I included it in my post-workout supplement RECHARGE.
RECHARGE gives you the proven strength, size, and recovery benefits of creatine monohydrate plus the muscle repair and insulin sensitivity benefits of L-carnitine L-tartrate and corosolic acid.
Each serving of RECHARGE contains:
5 grams of creatine monohydrate.
2100 milligrams of L-carnitine L-tartrate.
10.8 milligrams of corosolic acid.
Furthermore, RECHARGE is naturally sweetened with stevia, naturally flavored, and it contains no junk fillers or artificial food dyes.
The Bottom Line on L-Carnitine
L-carnitine is a worthwhile supplement, but not for the reasons that many people claim.
It won’t help you lose fat or directly gain muscle or strength faster, but it can help you push yourself harder in your workouts and recover faster, which can mean better progress over time.
Is pre-workout nutrition as important as many people claim? Do you really need to eat before every workout? Read on to find out.
One of the first pieces of bodybuilding advice I was given was on pre-workout nutrition.
If I didn’t eat protein and carbs immediately before training, I was told, I’d miss an opportunity to accelerate muscle growth, if not directly hinder it.
And so I did, before every workout, without fail.
Chances are you’ve heard the same things. Bodybuilders and gymbros alike have been singing pre-workout nutrition’s praises for decades.
How important is it really, though? Does eating before workouts actually help us build muscle faster?
Well, the long story short is this:
Pre-workout nutrition isn’t as crucial as many would have us believe, but it’s not entirely without merit, either.
And in this article, you’re going to find out why.
By the end, you’re going to know why pre-workout nutrition is even a “thing,” the ideal type of pre-workout meal, the truth about the “anabolic window,” and more.
Let’s get started.
Why Pre-Workout Nutrition?
Every day, your body is constantly breaking down and rebuilding muscle proteins.
This process is known as “protein turnover,” and when viewed on the whole, breakdown and synthesis rates generally balance each other out.
When you exercise, however, things change.
Research shows that protein synthesis rates decline during resistance training and cardio, and that both protein synthesis and breakdown rates rise soon after you finish working out, with breakdown rates eventually overtaking synthesis rates.
(This is why the bodybuilding adage that you don’t build muscle in the gym is true. Workouts break muscle tissue down, and the repair, recovery, and growth occurs during the “downtime” in between workouts.)
Now, mechanically speaking, muscle growth is the result of protein synthesis rates exceeding breakdown rates over extended periods of time.
Now, how does pre-workout protein fit into this picture?
Well, while there’s evidence that combining protein with resistance training can magnify the workout’s effects on protein synthesis rates, I don’t think it’s strong enough to support the claim that pre-workout protein is absolutely vital under all circumstances.
Instead, pre-workout protein should be viewed in the context of your diet on the whole.
You see, if you haven’t eaten protein in the 3 to 4 hours preceding your workout, your body’s protein synthesis rates are going to be at a low baseline level.
This means that your muscle building machinery will be idle, waiting for the next feeding of protein to kickstart it into action.
Ideally, you’d eat another serving of protein more or less immediately after protein synthesis rates hit baseline, effectively keeping them maximally elevated through the entirety of your waking hours.
Think of any time where your muscle building machinery is dormant as lost production time. Your body could have been building muscle, but instead, it was waiting for fuel.
Now, if you go into a workout several hours after eating, you’re letting that machinery remain inactive even longer, and if you wait too long to eat after the workout, breakdown rates will exceed synthesis rates, which results in muscle loss.
That’s why you should eat protein before you train if it has been a few hours since you last ate some. It’ll get your body building muscle again, and may even prime it to receive a larger anabolic boost from the training.
This is why somestudies have found that when subjects are in a fasted state, eating protein before a workout results in more muscle growth.
If you have eaten protein in the hour or two before your workout, however, amino acids will be in your bloodstream, insulin levels will be elevated, and muscle protein synthesis rates will be humming.
In this case, eating protein again before you work out won’t accomplish much, and that’s why research also shows that, in this case, eating protein before a workout doesn’t affect muscle gain.
Should You Eat Carbs Before You Work Out?
The research on eating carbs before a workout is clear: it improves performance.
Specifically, eating carbs 15 to 60 minutes before working out will help you push harder in your training and may also aid in recovery and muscle growth.
There are a couple physiological mechanisms in play here.
First and foremost, eating carbs before training providing your body with an abundance of glucose (blood sugar) to burn for immediate energy, and this helps you in three major ways.
Elevating blood glucose levels helps preserve the glycogen stored in your muscles. Glycogen is a type of carbohydrate stored in the body, and it’s the primary source of fuel for resistance training workouts. Thus, the further you dip into your body’s glycogen stores, the more likely you are to experience a drop in workout performance.
Research also suggests that maintaining higher levels of muscle glycogen improves cellular signalling related to muscle building.
What eating carbs before a workout won’t do, however, is directly induce more muscle growth. Unfortunately, carbs don’t have the same anabolic properties of protein.
So, by eating carbs before you train, you’ll have more energy to push harder in your workouts, which will help you gain muscle and strength faster over time, and directly enhance your body’s ability to build muscle, which will also boost your gains over time.
It’s also worth noting that studies have shown that simply swishing your mouth with a carb drink before can improve workout performance.
Scientists aren’t exactly sure how this works, either.
The most likely explanation seems to be that there are receptors in your mouth that are used by the brain to estimate energy availability.
When these receptors detect carbohydrate, the brain interprets this as a signal that additional energy is available and that it can allow the body to engage in more strenuous physical activity.
These effects seem to last about an hour, after which the brain relies more on fatigue and muscle glycogen levels to regulate what levels of physical exertion are “acceptable.”
Interestingly, artificial sweeteners don’t seem to produce these benefits. You need actual carbs.
Now, let’s talk types of carbs. What’s best for pre-workout nutrition?
First, I have good news:
You don’t need to buy fancy, overpriced pre-workout carbohydrate supplements.
They’re usually little more than tubs of simple sugars like maltodextrin or dextrose, which aren’t bad sources of pre-workout carbs per se, but don’t offer any special benefits, either.