Based on the myriad of questions, comments and feedback I have received, I'll be keeping to a Q & A type format, in the hopes of bringing the most information to my loyal readers. So let's dive right in.
1. Do fat burners work?
As humans, we all want to lessen the journey from start to finish. To truly get from one point to another quickly, concisely and when able, painlessly. Originally, fat burners were a combination of ephedrine, caffeine and aspirin, taken multiple times per day. They were thought to help metabolize food more efficiently, raise one's body temperature and curb appetite. I never found them to be the miracle the models on the labels would have you believe. One will get extraordinary results by simply performing resistance training, cardiovascular training and clean nutrition over the long-term.
2. Protein shakes or real food?
In most situations, whole food is a better choice than a pre-digested and processed meal replacement powder or protein shakes, simply because it breaks down slower for a more sustained energy release. But, when in a bind and pressed for time, a protein shake is a sensible alternative to food. The best time for a protein shake would be post-workout when your body, screaming for nutrition following the depletion of its energy reserves, can utilize a pre-digested meal immediately.
3. When in the real world and I didn't plan ahead, what do I do for food?
Most of us live very fast-paced, highly stressful lives that are first in survival, second in performance and often last in nutrition. I myself always have extra protein shakes and raw nuts on me when in the car to avoid missing meals, risking a low blood-sugar state, and then self-inducing a ravenous state, which will most assuredly result in over-eating. So what can one do when in the middle of nowhere without having planned ahead? There's usually a 7-11 on every other corner. One could go there and grab a protein shake and a piece of fruit. On every other corner (just about) adjacent to that, is a Subway. A 6 inch whole wheat bread with vegetables and a lean meat (or veggie patty) is a decent choice when in a bind. Come to think of it, most restaurants, be they sit down or fast food, have a healthier alternative. Seek out food that is processed to a minimum and chances are you're making a healthier choice.
4. Best exercises to sculpt and shrink lower abs?
It's called clean nutrition (low-glycemic carbs is a big part of it), strength training and cardiovascular work. One could perform abdominal exercises all day and nothing would happen in terms of showcasing a lean, muscular midsection until the fat carried there is burned off. Having said that, I like a movement such as a reverse crunch to work that area. Incidentally, there is no such thing as "lower abs." There is the rectus abdominis, which is one long muscle that is responsible for flexion between the chest and belly button.
5. Exercises to build strength for body weight exercises?
The best way to improve one's performance on a body weight exercise is with...body weight exercises. Pushups, dips, pull-ups and squats are examples of body-weight exercises and through practice, a full range of motion and repetition, will yield improved results. If one has trouble with certain movements, try modifying them. There is nothing "girlie" about push-ups with bent legs and knees touching the ground if you're feeling the muscles firing and hitting positive muscular failure after a set. Form, tension on the muscle, and slow controlled reps are your ticket to improvement.
6. How to curb late night cravings?
I hear it all the time. "I'm starving at night, I don't want to eat but I can't sleep!" Think ahead and eat more (but clean) during the day. Think of your nutrition like a bridge. Multiple anchor points (meals) will secure the bridge (hunger). Fewer anchor points will not secure the bridge. Capiche? Eat more protein and fibrous carbs at night and less complex carbs, certainly less sugar to help feel satisfied, while staying lean.
7. Best pre and post meals?
I assume we are talking pre and post WORKOUT meals? Eat a meal - chicken, brown rice and a vegetable prior to a workout for sustained energy, and a protein shake with fruit following your workout to speed digestion and aid recovery. It's that simple.
8. How do muscles grow?
Slowly. Resistance training creates micro tears in the muscles, which, when we eat and rest, causes the muscle cells to increase in size, not number. The result is increased lean muscle mass. Assuming of course that one's nutrition is clean and the stimulus for growth has occurred during training.
9. Soreness? Should I be?
I wasn't after my last workout - is that bad? Am I impeding my progress? One could take a long break from training, have a haphazard workout, and be very sore the next day. Yet this does not necessary mean this person had an effective workout that will improve their physique. What truly matters is temporary positive muscular failure in the gym, during your session when it counts. What also matters, is that one is firing from the correct muscles. That during a curling movement, the biceps are fatiguing, not the lower back from swinging too much weight. If you're sore good, and if you're not, good, too.
10. Why is dairy a no-no?
Although most of us were raised on dairy due to its bone strengthening vitamin D, most dairy is simply too high in sugar to be an permanent fixture in the health conscious diet. And sugar is a no-no when trying to maintain a lean physique. Your best bet is low fat, low sugar Greek yogurt which is also high in protein. And so we are one month in to 2013 and hopefully your resolutions are going strong.
Remember that I am here to help, either through my books email: firstname.lastname@example.org Or in person: 310 775 3771
In this together, Hollis :)