Archive for March, 2015

When you first started working out, you probably hated it. Soreness hurts! But as you progressed, you no doubt embraced it—most of us consider it a signal that we’ve done our diligence and stimulated plenty of muscle growth. But is that true?

The fact is, there are no studies connecting muscle soreness to hypertrophy. Okay, don’t stop reading yet; you will get some good stuff from being a bit sore–and you’ll probably even want to strive for it. But first you need to know what causes muscle soreness.

It’s believed that the pain is caused by microtrauma in muscle fibers—and it’s primarily triggered by the negative, or eccentric, stroke of an exercise—like when you lower a bench press, squat or curl rep.

Once your body repairs those microtears, it follows that the muscle should grow larger; however, that trauma is in the myofibrils, the force-generating actin and myosin strands in the fiber. Those strands grab onto and pull across one another to cause muscular contraction. When you control the negative stroke of a rep, there is friction as those strands drag across each other in an attempt to slow movement speed to prevent injury—and that dragging, it’s believed, is what inflicts the microtrauma.

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That’s a simplification, but you get the idea. So it appears that some growth can occur after muscle soreness is repaired, but it’s in the myofibrils. More and more research is beginning to show that those force-generating strands do not contribute the majority of muscle size; serious mass comes via sarcoplasmic expansion. That’s the “energy fluid” in the fibers that’s filled with glycogen (from carbs), ATP, calcium, noncontractile proteins, etc.

So if soreness is an indication of only small amounts of muscle growth, why strive for it? Well, even small amounts of growth contribute to overall mass. Most of us want every fraction we can scrape up. But the real reason to seek some soreness is to burn more fat.

When the myofibrils are damaged by emphasizing the eccentric, the body attempts to repair them as quickly as possible. That repair process takes energy, a lot of which comes from bodyfat. The process usually takes many days, so your metabolism is stoked to a higher level for 48 hours or more, helping you get leaner faster. (Note: High-intensity interval training, like sprints alternated with slow jogs, damages muscle fibers during the intense intervals, the sprints, which is why HIIT burns more fat in the long run than steady-state cardio where no muscle damage occurs.)

Do you need heavy negative-only sets to get that extra bit of size and metabolic momentum? That’s one way, but negative-accentuated, or X-centric, sets may be a better, safer way.

For an X-centric set you take a somewhat lighter poundage than your 10RM and raise the weight in one second and lower it in six. That one-second-positive/six-second-negative cadence does some great things, starting with myofibrillar trauma for some soreness. While you’re coping with that extra post workout muscle pain, remember that it can build the myofibrils and that it’s stoking your metabolism during the repair process for more fat burning.

The second BIG advantage is sarcoplasmic expansion. At seven seconds per rep and eight reps per set, you get almost an entire minute of tension time (seven times eight is 56 seconds). A TUT of 50 to 60 seconds is something most bodybuilders never get—which is a shame because that’s optimal stress for an anabolic cascade and this is the perfect way to train as you age. I call it Old School New Body!

You can do an X-centric set after your heavy pyramid—if you’re into heavy training. In other words, use it as a backoff set.

If you’re more into moderate-poundage, high-fatigue mass building, as I am with the F4X method featured in the Old School New Body method, you can use X-centric as the last set of the sequence. Reduce the weight and do a one-up-six-down cadence. You’ll get sore, build some extra size and—bonus—burn for fat. How great is that?

Till next time, stay tuned, train smart and be Built for Life.

Steve Holman

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The TRUTH about Potatoes, Glycemic Index, and “White Foods” – Friend or Foe for Fat Loss?
potatoes and glycemic indexby Mike Geary, Certified Nutrition Specialist, Certified Personal Trainer
Author of best-sellers: The Fat Burning Kitchen & The Top 101 Foods that FIGHT Aging.

I’d like to start a little discussion today about carbohydrates… and in particular, “white foods” as well as potatoes. One reason I wanted to mention this is because so many health and fitness professionals trash talk potatoes about being a bad carbohydrate choice because of the high glycemic index. Some even say such ridiculous things as “avoid any and all white carbohydrates”.

Ok, now while I certainly agree that white bread and refined white sugar are two of the worst things we can be feeding our bodies, I definately don’t agree with avoiding any and all “white carbohydrates”. Now I know all of the buzz lately has been about colorful foods and the protective antioxidants that they contain. They tell you to focus on colors and stay away from white.

“White Foods” aren’t necessarily always the enemy

It’s true that colorful foods are great, but it is a big mistake to specifically avoid white foods! There are plenty of white foods that have specific nutrients that are hard to find elsewhere. Let’s look at a few examples…

Onions & Garlic

What about onions and garlic? They are both white and they are chock full of protective phytonutrients, vitamins, and trace minerals that aren’t easy to find elsewhere in a normal diet… such nutrients as allicin, quercetin (an important flavonoid), chromium, and other unique anti-inflammatory nutrients.

In fact, onions are so powerful for our health, that one study of centenarians (people that live to over 100 years old) identified that a common thread of these amazingly healthy individuals was that they ate a lot of onions throughout their lives. And we also know that garlic is one of the most powerful substances for a strong immune system, among other qualities.

Cauliflower

Another example of something white that is great for you is cauliflower. Cauliflower is loaded with vitamin C, fiber, minerals, and special compounds such as glucosinolates and thiocyanates, which are specifically abundant in cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli, cauliflower, and cabbage. And a little-known fact is that some of the compounds in cruciferous vegetables help to combat other estrogenic compounds in our food supply and environment and can help prevent excess belly fat. So eat up on that cauliflower!

Mushrooms

Not many people realize this, but surprisingly, even white mushrooms have high levels of unique nutrients and antioxidants. White mushrooms are high in a couple types of antioxidants called polyphenols and ergothioneine. And some types of mushrooms, such as portobella mushrooms, are surprisingly good sources of Vitamin D.

Potatoes

Now that also leads us to another example – white potatoes (which by the way, can also be found in red, yellow, purple varieties, etc). Many health professionals claim that potatoes are a bad carbohydrate because they are thought to have a high glycemic index. First of all, if you’ve read my Fat Burning Kitchen ebook, then you understand that glycemic index is not necessarily the most important factor in choosing your carbohydrates.

While a generalization can be made that most low glycemic index carbohydrate choices will help you lose body fat easier than high glycemic index choices, it is not all that it’s cracked up to be. There are many other factors that determine how your body will react-to and process the carbohydrates you ingest, such as glycemic load and also how you combine the high GI food with other foods such as protein, fiber, and fats, which all slow down absorption of the ingested carbs.

For example, using glycemic load as an example… it is known that watermelon has a high glycemic index. However, the glycemic load of a normal serving of watermelon is just way too low for your body to start packing on body fat just because you ate a high glycemic index fruit. You would have to eat such an enormous quantity of watermelon just to get enough grams of carbohydrates to have any negative glycemic effect, that it is just non-sensical.

Not to mention that watermelon is also a great source of vitamins, minerals, and lycopene. There’s just no reason to avoid it simply because it has a high GI. My point is… candy bars, cupcakes, and donuts make you fat… NOT watermelons, carrots or potatoes… French fries excluded of course.

Also, as i mentioned, food combinations are important in how your body processes the carbohydrates and the associated blood sugar and insulin response you receive. For example, if you mix a high glycemic index carbohydrate with an extra source of fiber, healthy fats, or even certain proteins, many times the blood sugar and glycemic response will be slowed down considerably by the way you combined the food.

Alright, so back to my point that white potatoes are actually a healthy carbohydrate as long as you eat them in the right form… and please don’t ruin them by deep frying them into french fries either! French fries are one of the most evil things ever invented for your health, but only because we ruin them by soaking them in a scorching bath of trans fats in the deep fryer from the hydrogenated oils that are typically used.

Keep in mind that potatoes contain so many vitamins and minerals that the list is way too long to even try.

One Warning though about potatoes: Please note that potatoes do contain low level toxins called glycoalkaloids (it’s the plant’s protection mechanism) that are concentrated in the skin, so it is a good idea to always peel potatoes before making any dishes with them. This article explains about the toxins in potatoes and how to still enjoy potatoes while minimizing the toxins.

Will 7-9 potatoes per day make you fatter?

On the topic of potatoes not being so bad after all, I don’t remember where I saw this referenced, but I recently saw a particular study that had participants eat something like 7-9 whole potatoes per day for several weeks.

At the conclusion of the study, the potato eaters had actually consistently lost weight! I’d venture a guess that the reason the people lost weight is that they were probably so full from eating all of those damn potatoes, that they actually consumed less calories than normal! An average sized potato only has about 100-120 calories, and I can surely imagine you’d be full constantly from eating 7-9 potatoes each day.

Of course, this does NOT mean that french fries are okay to eat! Those will only make you fat, and the trans fat will lead to an early death. Seriously… fries are one of the most deadly foods in our food supply. Plus, deep fried potatoes build up dangerous acrylamides from the frying oil reacting with the starch, and these compounds are carcinogenic.

Anyway, back to the 7-9 whole potatoes per day… Now I would never recommend going to those extremes, but my point is that an occasional potato a couple times a week is not going to hurt your efforts to get lean, especially if you combine it with some other fibrous vegetables and maybe a healthy fat and some protein. On that note, I have one of my favorite recipes for you, using potatoes.

Geary’s Lean-Body Potato Side Dish

Desired quantity of baby potatoes (I like to use this mixture I found recently at a health food store… it is a mixture of white, red, yellow, and purple baby potatoes)
1 red pepper
1 green pepper
1 yellow pepper
1 or 2 onions
a couple cloves of garlic, finely chopped (or mashed garlic from a jar, organic preferably)
1 or 2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil, grass-fed butter, and/or virgin coconut oil (sometimes I mix a bit of all 3)
a little salt and pepper to taste (I like using a sea salt instead of normal commercial salt)
Cut the baby potatoes into slightly smaller pieces and place in a steamer until soft all the way through. Slice up the peppers and onions into strips and add with the chopped garlic into a pan with the olive oil and/or butter and/or coconut oil. Cook the peppers, onions, and garlic until tender, and then add the steamed baby potatoes. Stir it all together and serve. This is a delicious and healthy side dish that goes great with chicken or red meat.

I hope you’ve enjoyed this little topic today about potatoes, healthy carbohydrates, glycemic index, and my killer healthy potato recipe idea!

If you enjoyed this article today, feel free to share this page with your potato-loving friends and family.

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