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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.


The post 10 Chicken & Rice Recipes That Will Amaze Your Tastebuds appeared first on Legion Athletics.

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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…

Click here to download



5:58 – How many hours of sleep do you need per night? How does sleep affect your body’s ability to recover?

14:48 – How do you know if you’re sleep deprived?

15:58 – Can you make up for lost sleep with taking a nap?

17:42 – What are some strategies for getting good sleep?

22:18 – What is cortisol and melatonin, and how does it affect our sleep?

26:53 – How does light from our cell phones and tv’s change our sleep patterns?

31:17 – Does caffeine and pre-workout affect your sleep?

35:30 – How can we change our bedroom environment to allow better sleep?

43:34 – What’s the best room temperature to sleep in?

49:35 – What are the benefits of getting proper sleep?

55:41 – Does eating a meal near your bed time affect your sleep?

58:00 – How can people connect with you and find your work?

MP3 Audio:

8:50 – How many hours of sleep do you need per night? How does sleep affect your body’s ability to recover?

17:40 – How do you know if you’re sleep deprived?

18:50 – Can you make up for lost sleep with taking a nap?

20:34 – What are some strategies for getting good sleep?

25:10 – What is cortisol and melatonin, and how does it affect our sleep?

29:45 – How does light from our cell phones and tv’s change our sleep patterns?

34:09 – Does caffeine and pre-workout affect your sleep?

38:22 – How can we change our bedroom environment to allow better sleep?

46:26 – What’s the best room temperature to sleep in?

52:27 – What are the benefits of getting proper sleep?

58:33 – Does eating a meal near your bed time affect your sleep?

1:00:52 – How can people connect with you and find your work?

You can also find this podcast in iTunes and the Windows Phone Podcasts Store:

Did you enjoy this podcast? If so, please leave me a review. It keeps me going… What did you think of this episode? Have any requests or suggestions? Let me know in the comments below!

The post Podcast #109: Shawn Stevenson on how to get the best sleep of your life appeared first on Legion Athletics.

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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.


The post 10 Homemade Spaghetti Sauce Recipes That Will Blow Your Mind appeared first on Legion Athletics.

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If you’ve heard that weightlifting is dangerous and you want to know what science has to say, then you want to read this article.

Many people think weightlifting is inherently dangerous, and I understand why.

When you compare deadlifting, squatting, and bench pressing gargantuan amounts of weight to other forms of exercise, like jogging, cycling, or calisthenics, weightlifting looks more like a death wish than a discipline.

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.

Here’s a short list of what a well-designed weightlifting routine can do for you:

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.

How to Avoid Weightlifting Injuries

Many weightlifting injuries aren’t caused by training too intensely, but by failing to fully recover from previous workouts.

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.

Progress Gradually

One of the easiest ways to get hurt in your weightlifting is getting greedy.

Maybe you’re feeling particularly strong one day, or you want to impress or one-up someone in the gym or just move the progressive overload needle faster, so you load the bar with a weight that makes your spidey senses tingle.

This is almost always a bad idea.

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!

The post How Dangerous Is Weightlifting? What 20 Studies Have to Say appeared first on Legion Athletics.

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If you’re looking for new ways to eat more veggies, without compromising on flavor, then you need to check out these delicious carrot recipes.

What happens when you try to “sneak” veggies into your meals?

Sure, they become more nutritious, but they also become blander. And downgrading the enjoyment you get from your diet in the name of “clean eating” isn’t exactly a win.

It doesn’t have to be like that, though.

If you know what you’re doing, you can add vegetables to your meal plans and actually make everything taste better.

And carrots are perfect for just this.

Thanks to their unique flavor, natural sweetness, and chewy, starchy texture, they can upgrade all kinds of meals ranging from soup to pie and bacon.

The trick is preparing them correctly and choosing the right ingredients to pair them with, which is why you need to try these recipes.


The post 10 Sweet and Savory Carrot Recipes You Need to Try appeared first on Legion Athletics.

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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.

Who’s right?

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.

Why the “L” in “L-carnitine,” you’re wondering?

Well, it simply differentiates it from another form of carnitine, D-carnitine, which not only has no known benefits but actually hinders your body’s ability to absorb L-carnitine.

That’s why you’ll never see D-carnitine in supplements. Only L-carnitine, which you’ll find in one of four common forms:

  • L-Carnitine

This is the same form of carnitine that’s produced by your body.

  • Acetyl-L-Carnitine (ALCAR)

This form of L-carnitine has gone through a chemical process known as “acetylation,” which allows it to pass the brain barrier.

  • L-Carnitine L-Tartrate (LCLT)

This form of L-carnitine is bound to tartaric acid to help improve absorption.

  • Glycine Propionyl L-Carnitine (GPLC)

This form of L-carnitine is bound to the amino acid glycine, and research shows it exerts antioxidant effects in the body and may be able to enhance blood flow while exercising.

Why Do People Supplement with L-Carnitine?

The simple answer to this question is the obvious:

People supplement with L-carnitine to increase their body’s carnitine stores, especially the carnitine levels in their muscles.

This, in turn, can produce a number of beneficial effects, including less muscle soreness, better post-workout recovery, and increased nitric oxide production.

No single form of carnitine can provide all these benefits, though…

What Are the Benefits of Supplementing with L-Carnitine?

Most people’s diets are “healthy” enough for their bodies to maintain adequate levels of carnitine, but research does show that carnitine deficiencies are fairly common among the elderly and people that don’t eat meat.

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.

Studies show 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).

L-Carnitine and Muscle Growth

Some supplement companies claim that L-carnitine can directly help you gain muscle and strength faster, like creatine.

Well, the only case I know of where supplementation with L-carnitine has directly improved muscle growth is in the elderly, and that was due to correcting a deficiency.

Thus, it’s safe to assume that we wouldn’t see the same effects in those of us with normal carnitine levels.

That said, L-carnitine supplementation can indirectly help us gain more muscle and strength due to its effects on soreness and recovery.

You see, the less soreness you experience after training and the faster you recover from it, the harder you can train in your workouts and push your body in general.

This, over time, can result in faster progress toward your body composition goals.

L-Carnitine and Exercise Performance

Most research suggests that L-carnitine doesn’t improve performance of low-intensity, long-duration exercise.

The same is true for short-duration, intense training as well.

A few studies have suggested that supplementing with L-carnitine may increase power output, but the data is pretty weak so far.

Last but not least, L-carnitine has been shown to reduce both mental and physical fatigue during exercise in the elderly, but not in young, healthy people.

So, the bulk of the current scientific evidence says that, unfortunately, L-carnitine probably isn’t going to improving your exercise performance.

L-Carnitine and Cognitive Enhancement

Studies have shown that ALCAR can reduce fatigue and improve concentration in people with chronic fatigue syndrome or a carnitine deficiency.

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 few studies 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

Several studies 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.

So, if you want less muscle soreness after workouts and better muscle recovery, then it’s worth adding L-carnitine to your supplement regimen.

What’s your take on supplementing with L-carnitine? Have anything else to share? Let me know in the comments below!

The post Everything You Need to Know About L-Carnitine appeared first on Legion Athletics.

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Nothing drives more people into gyms and GNCs than the pursuit of building muscle while losing fat.

Body recomposition, as people “in the know” like to call it, sounds so simple that it must be possible, right?

People always talk about “shifting fat” with the right exercises, diet, and supplements, don’t they? You can lose fat but not weight, right?

Well, I have good news and bad news.

The good: yes, it’s possible to build muscle and lose fat simultaneously.

The bad: it’s only possible under certain (unalterable) conditions.

The ugly: the majority of advice on how to actually do it is piss poor

Yes, those “gurus” that swear their overpriced bundles of PDFs contains the real secrets to making “lean gains” are almost always full of shit. And I can prove it.

In this infographic, we’re going to dive into how the body actually builds muscle and loses fat and then look at what it takes to do both at the same time.

Click the image below to see a larger view:

What’s your take on The Secret to Body Recomposition? Let me know in the comments below!

The post [Infographic] The Secret to Body Recomposition: Lose Fat & Gain Muscle appeared first on Legion Athletics.

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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.

In other words, exercise is a catabolic activity, and this is especially true with fasted training and longer workouts.

(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.

Therefore, if you want to gain muscle as quickly as possible, then you want to do everything you can to keep protein synthesis rates at or above breakdown rates.

The more time your body spends in this anabolic state, the faster you gain muscle.

That’s one of the reasons you need to eat enough calories and protein every day, why various strategies to accelerate muscle recovery can help, and why pre-workout nutrition is a staple in the world of bodybuilding.

The goal of the pre-workout meal is simple:

Dial down muscle breakdown and punch up muscle synthesis rates.

That’s the idea, anyway. How does it actually play out, though?

Should You Eat Protein Before You Work Out?

If you haven’t eaten protein in the 3 to 4 hours preceding your workout, then it’s a good idea to eat 30 to 40 grams or so before you train.

If you have eaten protein in the last few hours, though, then you don’t need to eat more. You can just eat after your workout.

Let’s take a minute to unpack this advice, because it not only helps you better understand “peri-workout” nutrition better, but nutrition and muscle building on the whole.

As far as building muscle goes, eating protein does two vital things:

  1. It bumps up muscle protein synthesis rates and suppresses breakdown rates.
  2. It provides your body with the raw materials needed to build muscle tissue (amino acids).

That’s why you need to make sure that you eat enough protein every day if you want to maximize muscle growth, 

Furthermore, there’s evidence that eating a moderate amount of protein every 3 to 4 hours is superior for muscle building than eating smaller amounts more frequently or larger amounts less frequently.

You can learn more about protein and muscle building in my articles on how much protein you should be eating and protein timing, but here’s what it boils down to:

If you want to gain muscle and strength as quickly as possible, then you want to eat around 1 gram of protein per pound of body weight per day, and break it up into 4 to 6 separate servings timed a few (3 to 4) hours apart.

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.

(And you’d also eat protein before going to bed to boost them while you sleep.)

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 some studies 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.

  1. The more glucose that’s available for your muscles to burn, the better you’re going to do in your workouts (and especially if they’re longer).
  2. 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.
  3. 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.

Research shows that for our purposes, ~30 to 40 grams of any type of carbohydrate eaten ~30 minutes before a workout will get the job done.

And by “any,” I mean any: fruit, starch, simple sugars, etc.

My favorite choices are nutritious whole foods like oatmeal, dates and figs, melons, white potatoes, white rice, raisins, and sweet potatoes.

(If you’re doing extreme endurance workouts, micromanaging the types of carbs that you eat together can help you improve performance, but the rest of us don’t need to get that granular.)

Should You Eat Fat Before You Workout?

You can, but you don’t need to.

There are several theories about how eating fat before a workout can improve performance, but the literature disagrees.

A good summary of the existing research on the matter can be found in a paper published by scientists from Deakin University.

Here’s their conclusion:

“Thus, it would appear that while such a strategy can have a marked effect on exercise metabolism (i.e. reduced carbohydrate utilization), there is no beneficial effect on exercise performance.”

Chalk up yet another strike against high-fat, low-carb dieting.

What About Pre-Workout Supplements?

Pre-workout supplements are incredibly popular, but what can they really do for you?

Well, most can’t do much.

They’re little more than proprietary blends of ineffective ingredients (L-arginine, for example) and ineffective doses of beneficial ingredients, like beta-alanine (“fairy dusting”).

Others rely on large amounts of cheap stimulants and carbs to give you a jolt of energy that may make for a better workout, but also wipes you out.

That’s why I created my own pre-workout supplement, PULSE.

It contains clinically effective doses of 6 of the most effective performance-enhancing ingredients available:

And what you won’t find in PULSE is equally important:

  • No artificial sweeteners or flavors
  • No artificial food dyes
  • No unnecessary fillers, carbohydrate powders, or junk ingredients

So, if you want to feel focused, tireless, and powerful in your workouts…and if you want to say goodbye to the pre-workout jitters, upset stomachs, and crashes for good…then you want to try PULSE.

The Bottom Line on Pre-Workout Nutrition

Nutrient timing is far less important than hitting your macros and sticking to a meal plan.

Once those things are taken care of, though, optimizing when you eat what can help you build muscle faster.

Fortunately, it’s not very complicated, either.

  1. Eat some protein and carbs every few hours.
  2. Eat before you train if you haven’t eaten in a bit.
  3. Eat after your workout, and sooner rather than later.
  4. Eat enough fat every day.
  5. And get most of your calories from nutritious foods.

And you’ve got it made.

What’s your take on pre-workout nutrition? Have anything else to share? Let me know in the comments below!

The post Everything You Need to Know About Pre-Workout Nutrition appeared first on Legion Athletics.

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If you want to satisfy your sweet tooth without blowing up your macros, these banana cake recipes are just what you’re looking for.

Ah yes, one of the many upsides to flexible dieting: having your (banana) cake and eating it too.

That’s right.

You can include cake in your meal plan and still lose fat and gain muscle with ease, and especially when you have banana cake recipes like these.

As you’ll see, they’re not only delicious, but they’re also “healthy” too, loaded with fiber and nutrients like potassium, manganese, and copper.

So, how does a Flourless Banana Breakfast Cake sound?

Want a delicious, nutritious dessert that will impress any guest? Try the Banana Upside-Down Cake.

Looking for something with a little more protein? Don’t miss the Banana, Almond & Whey Protein Cake.


The post 10 Healthy Banana Cake Recipes That’ll Make You Drool appeared first on Legion Athletics.

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