Category Archives for "Fitness Nutrition"
It’s never a great idea to eat what you want but it is possible – without gaining any weight.. or fat, just to call it what it is.
During my competitive bodybuilding years, I used to eat six times a day and I used to carefully measure everything I ate. It was cumbersome and boring.
Then one day I decided that I wanted to be able to – at least sometimes – enjoy foods that others enjoyed, too.
So, I searched the web and found something that looked promising. I tried it and it worked. It’s called Intermittent Fasting (I’ve written about it before).
In this video, I share exactly how and when I fast.
Althugh, I still eat healthy whenever I want I allow myself some indulgences. Not only is it not affecting my body fat level but I actually stay lean while maintaining the muscle mass I had before I started. My strength has gone up. And, I feel great.
I want more people to know about Intermittent Fasting. It allows freedom. It is liberating… and it’s healthy.
Have you tried Intermittent Fasting? Let me know in the comments below.
During my competitive bodybuilding years I, just like everyone else in this particular field, was mainly interested in increasing my muscle size. This is no longer the case. Still, the science of inducing Muscle Protein Synthesis (MPS) and counteracting the Muscle Protein Breakdown (MPB) fascinates me a lot. It still applies to what I do, if not for any other reason, at least for the fact that being careless in this matter might result in losing muscle mass – and from there diminishing athletic performance. And, I care a lot about optimal athletic performance.
While I was researching my post on the methods for calculating protein intake, I stumbled on a meta study. In this post I want to examine this meta study alone. It’s quite interesting and, even more importantly, it is written in a language that a layman like me can easily understand. I encourage you to read the paper if you have time.
The name of the paper is, “A Brief Review of Critical Processes in Exercise-Induced Muscular Hypertrophy” and it could be found here. Of course, the paper includes references to other papers, based on which it draws its conclusions (in case you’re interested in the sources).
My notes are below. I’ve capitalized a few words here and there for additional emphasis. I did this only in places where the conclusion drawn ran counter-intuitive to popular belief (and counter-intuitive to many industry publications and the advertisers in them), or I didn’t know about it at all.
In my last article I wrote about the different dietary protein needs in general. I also expressed that although it is clear who needs baseline protein levels (current RDA), who needs more than that and who needs less, it is still not very clear how to determine the exact needs for each individual.
In order to determine exactly how much dietary protein an individual needs, IDEALLY, we need to know and be able to use ALL of the following:
Unfortunately, after some serious time spent looking for official papers I was not able to find the type of research that could help me devise an exact daily protein intake for a particular individual, based precisely on the points of inquiry I described above. At the very least, this does not seem possible without using a very sophisticated lab (I can only guess).
Nonetheless, there is enough information that can at least provide us with a good starting point, which can represent a level of dietary protein intake that, with some perhaps minor adjustments and fine-tuning, could allow us to arrive to a relatively precise (for the particular time in one’s life) daily dietary protein intake levels.
These are the general numbers that can provide a starting point. Examples below.
(Tip: Use the instant kilograms to pounds converter at the bottom right if you don’t know your body weight in kilograms)
Not sure how to interpret “top athlete”. The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines “athlete” as “A person who is trained in or good at sports, games, or exercises that require physical skill and strength”. If I have to work with this definition and adapt it to “top athlete” it would probably be something in those lines: “A person who is trained to have superior abilities at sports, games, or exercises that require physical skill and strength”. A top athlete – for the purposes of establishing total dietary protein requirements – would be someone who trains intensely at least 5-6 times a week.
My personal suggestions for additionally modifying the baseline daily protein intake (o.8g/kg/day), based on activity level and intensity:
Subject: Female top athlete
Weight: 125 lbs (57 kg – using the converter – bottom right)
Subject: Male, sedentary lifestyle
Weight: 175 lbs (79 kg)
There is an alternative way to determine the dietary protein levels. It’s based on total daily calories intake:
The rest of the calories, after total daily protein is calculated, go toward total carbohydrate and fat intake.
Total daily calories: 2000
Subject: Sedentary individual (15 percent):
2000×0.15=300 (calories from protein)
Subject: Very active individual (30 percent):
2000×0.3=600 (calories from protein)
I do not personally prefer the second method – it is far more general and less specific than the first method. However, the second method is easier to put to use.
Additionally, in my personal view the first method would be more accurate if it is used to determine the dietary protein intake for persons of normal body weight (not overweight or obese). I do not see a reason why one should provide extra protein by accounting for large quantities of fat as a part of total body mass. Fat is far less metabolically active tissue than muscle tissue and it does not need much protein at all.
So, how do you tell if you are of normal body weight?
Normal body weight is when the body fat levels are 20-25 percent for women and 10-17 percent for men. Essential fat (must have to be healthy.. and alive) for women is about 10 percent and for men is about 5 percent. So, we are talking about 10-15 percent above this essential fat level for women and 5-12 percent above for men (On the ‘Net you will find sources offering different numbers as to what’s a normal body fat percentage for women and men. The numbers above are my rounded up approximations, based on my experience as a heavy individual and as an extra lean competitive athlete. Also they are based on my personal observations of populations on two continents.)
The subject is a male, sedentary, body weight=225lb (102 kg), body fat percentage=30%.
Weight of fat tissue alone: 67 lbs (30.6 kg)
Weight of fat tissue above normal weight levels (at 17 percent body fat): 29 lbs (13 kg)
225-29=196 lbs (89 kg)
If protein requirements were calculated using the initial 225 lbs body weight, the total protein would come out to 81.6g/day
If protein requirements were calculated with the correction for excess body fat, the total protein would come out to 71.2g/day.
That’s more than 10g of extra protein a day – and more than 40 Calories extra a day – that the body simply doesn’t need.
So, when calculating total daily dietary protein requirements using the first method, I’d suggest that, if necessary, you make a correction of the total body weight and equate that to ‘normal’ total body weight.
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If this article has any omissions or inaccuracies, please use the comments below to let me know. I will research and update the article accordingly.
Protein, as opposed to carbohydrates, is an essential macro nutrient – meaning you must have it in your diet because you can’t live without it – not for very long.
Different people have different demands for the amount of protein they should consume.
Earlier today I listened to a podcast by Chris Kresser. Chris discussed a topic that isn’t often discussed even in the nutrition and diet circles – ‘Should you eat more protein in your diet’.
I urge you to head over to Chris Kresser’s website and listen to this podcast.
The take-away points of his talk – the way I understand it – are:
This is all good info, but the question that remained unanswered for me is: ‘If a person requires more protein in their diet how much exactly should that person eat? How much is too little? How much is just enough? And, how much is too much?
These are questions that I want to find answers to. I am trying to practice and master extreme calisthenics (still an amateur, but..) and these bodywegith workouts could be very, very demanding.
And, there are subtleties, too. For example, if you eat more protein (and calories) than you need you gain too much mass and become too heavy. If you eat less you don’t recover well and your performance suffers.
So, I am personally interested in knowing exactly how much protein should I eat daily, based on my personal activities and lifestyle so that I recover well enough but don’t gain even an ounce of non-efficient mass (fat).
I’ve posted two other low-carb ice cream recipes on this blog before – Key Lime and Rich Chocolate. They were not only low-carb but also “functional“. In other words, they were designed to play the role of a complete meal (I know what you are thinking: “A bowl of ice cream is a complete meal?”). They were complete meals because they had all the main macro nutrients represented in them – fats (animal), carbs (no sugar and very, very few other carbs) and protein (from whey isolate).
Now, this recipe is purely designed to be a dessert – no protein, only the fats and the few carbs (not from sugar). Another thing that is new to me is the flavor – Vanilla with added toasted coconut flakes and crushed peanuts (I didn’t have almonds around).
I love chocolate and I was that close to making this one chocolate again, but we were going to have guests for Christmas – the reason I forced myself to make ice cream – and they didn’t care for chocolate. Another reason was I had some coconut flakes in my fridge and I needed the space they’ve been taking for months now, and I was determined to use them.. And, they go very well with vanilla. The peanuts? I needed extra crunch. That’s all.
The natural Sugars per serving are: 1.5g The Fiber per serving is: 3g
Preparation time: 15 minute(s)
Cooking time: 30 minute(s)
Diet tags: Reduced carbohydrate, Gluten free
Number of servings (yield): 8
My rating: 5 stars
Recipe by by Ivan Nikolov.
I had a few pieces of rotisserie chicken left in my fridge from the night before. Didn’t know what to do with them so I came up with quick BAKED Chicken Leftovers, Spinach and Portabella Burgers (or patties, if you wish). It’s very easy, and it takes about 8-10 minutes to throw everything together. Baking time takes a tad longer.
Preparation time: 10 minute(s)
Cooking time: 25 minute(s)
Number of servings (yield): 6
Pics and notes below:
I realize that my chicken leftovers, spinach and portabella burgers came out a bit greener than I anticipated, but that’s because I didn’t have enough chicken. Feel free to use as much chicken as you wish in your recipe. Also, this recipe can be good with turkey leftovers after Thanksgiving, or with any meat leftovers, if you wish.
You can also omit the spinach and the portabella mushrooms and double the onion. This way your burgers will be more like the traditional recipe (at least by how they look) but with a stronger Eastern European and Mediterranean touch.
Enjoy, and let me know if you made any substitutions and how they came out.
First, I used to be a natural bodybuilder and although I no longer compete I continue to live a similar to a competitive bodybuilder lifestyle (just without the extremes and the damage they cause). This means I continue to appreciate and seek to enrich whatever foods I personally “process” with good amounts of protein.
Second, I used to own a specialty healthy bakery and I’ve learned how to bake without most allergens (including gluten and eggs) and with the addition of different proteins.
So, naturally, a cookie that I come up with must have great amounts of protein. In this case two cookies give you 16 g of protein, no added sugar, and of course – no gluten.
“Sugar-free, Gluten free, Egg-free” Protein Cookies Recipe – with Semi-Sweet Chocolate Chunks
Makes 12 cookies
Use this Cooking Conversions Tool online to convert grams to spoons, cups, ounces, etc.
180 g Gluten-free all-purpose flour blend (like Bob’s Red Mill All-purpose Flour)
5 g baking soda
2 g see salt
2.5 g xanthan gum
30 g pea protein – plain, unsweetened
70 g whey protein isolate – plain, unsweetened
80 g semi-sweet chocolate chips/chunks (optional – this adds some sugar, if you use them)
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150 g erythritol
85 g butter, organic, room temperature
275 g water (or 190 g water + 2 eggs – if no allergies to eggs *)
10 g vanilla extract
20 stevia extract drops
How to prepare
Preheat (conventional, no fan) oven to 425 F. Line pans with parchment paper or silicone sheets.
Measure and mix together all dry ingredients in the first part of the recipe (without the erythritol). Set aside.
Next, add the erythritol and the softened butter into the mixer bowl.
Scrape butter/erythritol mixture from the sides of the bowl. Add water (or water and eggs), stevia and vanilla.
Dump all dry ingredients into this mix and mix well until well blended.
Scoop out, using an ice cream scoop or a large spoon. Make 12 blobs of batter.
Throw in the pre-heated oven. Bake for 12-15 min or until the edges start turning brown. Take out of the oven and let cool down.
Eat! Close in a plastic container what’s left and store in the fridge.
Serving Size: 1 cookie
Calories per serving 145
Total Fat 8g
Total Carbohydrates 25g
NET Carbs 13g
Sugar Alcohols 13g
Let me know what you think.
* For better, more traditional-cookie-like results, replace 85 g of the water with 2 eggs. Alternatively, if you are allergic to eggs you can use agar agar – 6 g, mixed together with your dry ingredients, and the water stays 275 g.
Just recently I posted a Low-carb Key Lime + Whey Protein Ice Cream recipe, but being the major chocolate lover I am, I couldn’t refrain from converting this recipe into a Low-carb RICH Chocolate Ice Cream functional formula – again with loads of whey protein isolate.
I hope by now you’d know why my recipes are low-carb and high in protein – because genetically we are not prepared to function at optimal levers of performance with eating high-sugar/carb and low-protein/vegan diets. It’s just not in our genotype.
If you ask yourself why ice cream recipe. It’s because I love re-engineering foods that are generally considered unhealthy and converting them into healthy, performance-boosting foods. I simply like observing myself (and other people, too – it’s fun) when I know the new, re-engineered food is good-for-me but I still have to subconsciously wrestle with the deeply rooted in my head concept that (in this case) ice cream can be good for me. Re-designing the food is the first step that brings me pleasure, the second is trying to convince myself that it’s ok to eat it now.
So, here we go…
What you’ll need: 1) all the ingredients, and 2) an inexpensive ice cream maker (like the one I use – Cuisine Art Icemaker)
180g (3/4 cup) half & half
125g (1/2 cup) water
130g (1 cup) powdered erythritol (or crystallized, if you don’t have powdered)
1.3g Reb-A (or 8 drops of stevia extract 90% steviosides)
100 g (1/3 cup) cocoa powder, unsweetened
1g (1/4) tsp salt
100g (4 scoops) whey protein isolate (unsweetened, unflavored)
1g (1/3 tsp) Xanthan gum
0.5g (1/6 tsp) Guar gum
350g (1 1/2) cups heavy cream
5g (1 tsp) vanilla
60g (1/2) cup chopped roasted macadamia or almond nuts (optional, not included in nutr. facts; go with macadamia if you don’t want the extra Omega-6 that come with the almonds)
How to prepare:
Combine erythritol, cocoa powder, salt, whey, reb-A, xanthan and guar. Mix well. Set aside.
Combine half & half and water. Heat mixture in a saucepan until bubbles start to form.
Remove from heat and stir the erythritol/cocoa mixture in with a spatula until dissolved. Then stir in the 1 1/2 cups heavy cream + vanilla.
Refrigerate for at least 4 hour.
Pour into freezer bowl of ice cream maker and let mix until mixture thickens, about 20-30 minutes. Half way through churning – about 10-15min from beginning of ice cream making process – drop in the optional chopped nuts.
Pour into 8 small cups. Freeze.
Once the ice cream has spent more than a couple of hours in the freezer you will have to take out a serving and leave at room temperature for about 15 min and allow it to soften a bit. Or, you can move a serving in the refrigerator a couple of hours if you know when you’re going to be wanting some. If you are like me, you will want it immediately and you’ll have to fight trough your first several attempts to spoon out a sizable dose.
So, in summary, what you’ll end up with is a rich chocolate ice cream that is ultra-low in net carbs and high in quality, easily digestible protein. You will not be able to tell that the ice cream was made with erythritol and stevia (no cooling effect and no bitter taste notes), and you won’t be able to tell that there is a good amount of protein in it, either.
Do the test! Give a serving to someone who doesn’t care about functional foods or low-carb or high-protein or any of that stuff, but don’t tell them anything. Just watch their reaction. You will be surprised..
Serving Size: 1 small cup about (110g)
Calories per serving 290
Total Fat 20.5g
Total Carbohydrates 26g
NET Carbs 9g
Sugar Alcohols 16g
If you don’t like cocoa/chocolate check out my Key Lime + Whey Protein Ice Cream recipe – a little tangy and very refreshing. Oh… and good-for-you, too (just don’t tell your dentist about the key lime juice..)!