A straight set is when I do three sets of 10. I do a squat by itself, I take a break, and I come back to it. A superset is when I superset that squat, or that movement pattern with another exercise. So instead of it saying for example, number one on your program is barbell squat, it would say, 1A is a squat, 1B is a jump squat. So you might do a heavy loaded squat and then do a jump squat afterward. That's a really good performance technique that a lot of people use.
So, which is better is an irrelevant question because it depends. It depends on many factors. If we're talking about sports performance, we may want to superset certain things to kind of create that post potentiation phase or that activation phase. It's kind of like using a strength movement supersetted with a power movement. I always look at those kind of like a bow and arrow, you're pulling it back before explosive movement occurs. Or like you're loading a spring and then you're letting it rip. Certain things like that work really well.
Now there are supersets for hypertrophy, which are usually done as antagonists. Antagonist supersets are where I do an opposite movement pattern. These are very beneficial when we are trying to create shorter rest periods, we're short on time, we can't get our volume in. So if we have a really long program and it takes us two hours, well we can superset things and we can make it a little bit more efficient, so we can get through our volume throughout the week faster. In this case, antagonist supersets are really, really good. And I use them quite a bit for fat loss clients to keep rest periods shorter, to keep them somewhat of a metabolic factor involved but also because a lot of people don't have time to spend hours and hours in the gym.
So a good example is if we look at the volume requirements for hypertrophy to build muscle, we would probably be in the gym for two hours a session because there's a lot of volume. And volume is a key driver of growth. So we need to stay in the gym for quite a while. But if I can superset things, I can either be in the gym less days per week, or I can be in the gym just as many days, five, six days a week, but I can keep those sessions a little bit shorter. So, in that case, I do antagonist supersets. And this is where I would do a bench press supersetted with a barbell row, or an overhead press supersetted with a chin up, a barbell curl supersetted with a skull crusher, or a tricep push down.
So we're literally doing the opposite movement pattern and or the opposite muscle group. The only times I do not like this is when we're training legs. And when you get too carried away with legs because it's hard not to incorporate a little bit of everything on the lower body movement. So if you did a squat supersetted with an RDL, two things. Number one, yes the squat is more quad dominant, but it doesn't mean your glutes and hamstrings are not activated in being a part of that movement. And RDL is much more hamstring focused but you're still incorporating your core, your grip, your lower back, and those that are involved in squats as well. So the injury risk is a little bit higher when we're talking about lower body, especially because the weights and the loads are usually higher, training lower body than they are training upper body.
So for legs, I don't like it as much unless it's isolation work done towards the end of the program. This would be where we do a leg extension supersetted with a leg curl. In that case, I actually do really like it and I actually think it creates more of a metabolite or lactic acid focus. When we get a bigger pump on our hamstrings, we're bringing blood flow localized to the limbs in general. We're going to have more blood flow, more of a pump in the quads, which is going to be great for overall growth because we know metabolites, accumulation, blood flow, that pump feeling, and they're even linking lactic acid to muscle growth as well. So this could be a benefit.
However, doing big motor movements like the RDL, like the barbell squat, even lunges supersetted with RDLs don't make as much sense to me. So the only case I really do like this is doing isolation work. So a leg extension with a leg curl, a goblet squat with a Swiss ball hamstring curl, things like that, do work well. For the most part I t,hink antagonist supersets work really well for upper body specifically when you were in a rush or do not have as much time to train. That's when I would use one of the other.
The only other type of superset that we would consider is a single body part, giant set. And this is something made popular by Milos Sarcev. Milos is very popular, he's a legend in the European bodybuilding world and he created giant sets. This is where we would do a barbell bench press for let's say eight, at a pretty heavy load or six to eight reps. Then we would move to a dumbbell incline bench press with a lighter weight for like 10 to 12. And then we would move to a Pec deck or a cable fly for 12 to 15. Pretty much until failure.
We're basically starting heavier with a bigger, more compound movement. We're slowly decreasing the technical efficiency or technical requirements, the skill requirements, neurological requirements of the movement pattern or the exercise, as we increase the fatigue, extension of the set. So basically reps are going higher as we go, weights are getting lower as we go, and technical proficiency is getting easier as we go. Now we can pretty much push our muscle to almost complete failure. Nine times out of ten, you go to failure on a true Milos giant set, because you're usually supersetting three to five exercises. This is something that you would do towards the end of your session if you have a push day. For example, you would do a barbell bench press, you would do your overhead press, you have your motor unit, big motor unit, big compound lifts. Later in the session, you might do a chest and a shoulder giant set at the end.
This saves you time, gives you a massive pump and is a good way to create more muscle damage. Go towards fatigue a little bit more that might be advantageous for hypertrophy. So there're some situations they're better. Which is better? Straight sets or supersets? Neither. The only time I would say a straight set is better is if you have all the time in the world and your number one priority is strength and size. If you want to build as much muscle as possible and you want to get as strong as possible, straight sets are better. And the only reason they're better is because if I do a squat or a bench press, or an overhead press, or a weighted chin up, or any movement, a curl, anything, by itself, I can take more rest period and I usually can have a higher volume.
Even if I do a barbell bent row after a bench press, even though I'm distracting my chest, and my triceps, and my shoulders, by doing a row and bringing blood flow into my lats and my traps, and my rhomboids, and I'm giving my chest and my bench press musculature a break, I am still fatiguing my upper body, my grip, so on and so forth, and most likely my volume via intensity, so load is actually going to lower all my next superset. I'm just getting fatigued. My heart rate's going up, so on and so forth on a straight set that is way low. Your fatigue management is a lot better and you are more likely able to keep your volume higher. So I do think straight sets can be better. The problem is that's unrealistic. Especially as you get to an advanced state, you just can't spend more and more and more time. I'm a huge fan of supersets for the general population, for busy individuals, for parents. I know for me, all of my training, I almost superset everything. I just do not have time to be in the gym for more than an hour. So for me, I train five, six days a week, but I'm supersetting a ton of stuff.
So there's no better way. In some situations straight sets might be better if you have time. And every other scenario, I think supersets are great for fat loss, I think they're great for keeping your rest periods shorter, and I think they're great for allowing people to hit a volume to grow without staying in the gym for hours and hours at a time.
This is a really good question, and once again it depends. The amount of volume that is enough is the maximum recoverable volume. And if you really want to get in depth with this method or this theory, you should go look up, Dr. Mike Israetel from Renaissance Periodization because he coined the term and he kind of created this whole entire theory, and it's very, very smart. I think it's a good thing for people to be aware when they start programming and looking at progressing their training over time.
But the amount of volume that is enough is basically the maximum amount that you can recover from. There's even studies coming out, the ultra high amounts of volume, which is going to be in between 30 to 40 sets per muscle group per week, is showing to be advantageous for people, which is absurd. That is so much volume. That amount of volume is not only hard to adhere to for most people, but it's also not feasible for some people because they can't recover from it. So what they've learned is that the amount of volume that is enough to grow, or the best, or the most optimal to grow from, is the amount of volume that is your maximum threshold. The amount of volume that you can push to and still recover and still do your training.
So you shouldn't be like, yes, you should still deload every fourth or fifth week or sixth week, but you should never push your volume to 30 sets because that's what Brad Schoenfeld study showed, yet you have not built up your own tolerance from a muscular, a joint, and a nervous system perspective to handle that amount of volume. I believe the best way to go, is starting with, in between 10 to 15 sets per muscle group per week. This is usually enough. Now, and we've got to think about this too, you can cut these numbers in half for smaller muscles like front deltoids, or biceps, or triceps, because direct bicep work can be six to eight sets per because they're also going to be getting 10 to 20 sets from every row and pull down you get, it's not direct, it's an indirect stimulus, but it's still stimulus to the muscle. Therefore, your elbows and everything are taking a HIIT. Your nervous system is taking a HIIT, and your muscles are being activated. So your biceps are still getting worked on general upper body works, same with your triceps for pressing movements.
I would say 10 to 15 sets per week per muscle group is enough to see some growth. And that's enough to maintain growth or maintain your size for the advanced individuals. So the advanced individual usually needs more than that, but when I have somebody come on board with me and starts training and they are not an advanced individual, and our goal is to build muscle, burn fat or build strength, regardless, I'm looking at total volume, intensity might be different if we're going into a cut obviously, but I'm probably going to start them at the 10 to 15 mark, closer to 15 for the big movements, especially for pulling movements. So like hip hinge stuff, like dead lifts, and hip thrust, and RDLs, and things like that. Rows, Chins, pulldowns anything that's activating the backstroke, like pullapart shrugs, things like that, those are probably going to be closer to the 15 range and all pushing interior dominant stuff in the front side is going to be closer to 10.
We're going to see where this is that. If they start progressing, I'm not going to change a thing. Let's just progressively overload the weight on everything and just watch your body change with that 10 to 15, because the minimal effective dose is always going to be best. If you can grow from 10, why would you push your body to 20? You're just smashing your nervous system too early, and then you have way less room to grow from. You're going to get the same stimulus except you're going to have to take more recovery times, you're probably not going to be ready for it, and that's going to send you into overtraining versus actually recovering enough and actually progressing.
So I would always start at the 10 to 15 mark, I think that is enough volume per muscle group per week. And you want to slowly work yourself to that 20 mark. 20 to 25 sets per muscle group per week has been shown, time and time again, to be a very solid range from most people to grow and it can be pretty much universal. What you need to remember is that the smaller muscle groups that get HIIT by doing other things frequently need to be about half that. So you can cut that in half of biceps, triceps, front delts, side delts and rear delts do need to be HITT more frequently cause they're just stubborn growers for most people, calves can be cut in half for most people because you step and walk every day, except there's a lot of people who simply do not have good calves and they just struggle to grow their calves, and those people can use that 15 to 25 model.
And then last but not least, I would say your abs can be cut in half as well because your abs, whether you realize it or not, are being activated pretty harshly in a dead lift, in a bench press, and overhead press, so on and so forth. So I would say that, start at 10 to 15, slowly move up to 15 to 20, and then eventually 20 to 25. I don't think anybody really needs to go over that. Going over, that means you're going to be in the gym so long, every session or too frequently. It's hard to, it's not feasible for most people with a regular life. If you are a competitive bodybuilder and this is your life, it might be a different scenario. But in most cases, I think that 20 to 25 is the sweet spot we all want to work up to. And then our goal is to progress our weight and our strength in that volume load. So if we can HIIT that volume, and then slowly get stronger within that volume range, I think that's the key to a true growth longterm.
So I think you should always use both. There is no better reps zone. And studies have shown that you can build strength with high rep training, so let's say eight plus, and you can build muscle hypertrophy with low rep, let's say three to six range. The difference is, it's all volume. So if I lift three sets of six at a certain weight, I can lift that same amount of volume at two sets of 10, or whatever it may be, because you're doing more reps. If you look at sets times reps times weight lifted, as long as that equation ends up being the same, and they've shown this in studies, it doesn't matter if you do lower per high rep. They equated that equation that, rep time set times weight, and they just did a group with low rep and a group with high rep, and they saw the same result.
The only difference here is that in the low rep group you saw more nervous system fatigue which is going in longer in the gym. Because if you're doing sets of three and four and five, you just need a longer rest periods. You're lifting heavier weights, you've got to take more warm upsets, and then you're doing less reps. So you have way more sets. It takes way longer in the gym. Because of that, it might be more advantageous for higher rep training, let's say eight to 15 rep range, for people looking to build muscle or change their physique, so even fat loss, simply because you won't need to spend as much time in the gym.
The other reason is because it's less neurologically fatiguing. So that nervous system is being drained more in low rep training. The reason being is, because strength work, low rep strength work, is more neurologically based which means your nervous system is more active in fighting a little bit harder, working a little bit harder, in that low strength zone. So that zero, that one to five rep range, your nervous system is working way harder than it is in the eight to 12 rep range. Because of that, you're going to need to take more deloads, you're going to have harder recovery between sessions, so on and so forth. So if your goal is hypertrophy building muscle or changing your physique, you might want to do more of the higher rep training that eight to 12 range, because you can do more of it more frequently, which means you can train more times throughout the week than you can, if you're doing very low rep training.
Now, because we know that volume acquainted is better, low rep training is more neurologically fatiguing, which is actually a good thing. We want to train our nervous system because that's how we get stronger. We want to get stronger, if we want to progress our volume in that eight to 12 meaning, if I can eight reps with 200 pounds, that's great, but if I could lift 225 pounds for eight reps, I'm going to build more muscles. That's more stress on the body. The only way I'm going to get stronger after a while if, for example, you do eights, and eights, and eights for a while. You're going to get stronger at it but at a certain point there's diminishing returns. You need to create a new stimulus and you need your nervous system to adapt and get stronger in order to do more weight for those eight reps. The best way to do that, low rep training for three reps. Gets stronger and then come back to eight reps.
Now classically there's linear periodization. There's multiple models of linear periodization, but classically people would do a strength phase. So you spend four to eight weeks doing low rep training, get really strong, and then you spend, let's say if your goal is building muscle, you would spend eight to 12 weeks. So a little bit more time doing hypertrophy and then you come back to building strength. The only problem I see with this is usually when you swing back to strength, you spend at least two, if not three to four weeks, trying to get your weight back to where you were. Because it's a neurological thing. It's a skill component thing.
If I haven't been benching super heavy and I haven't been hitting those threes and fours and fives in a long time, I'm going to spend a few weeks trying to work back up to the heaviest weights I got to. And then I'll only have a few weeks trying to progress on that before I switched to the next phase of hypertrophy. Whereas if you use a daily undulated system, meaning one day of the week I'm doing legs at a lower rep, one day I'm doing legs at a higher rep, I'm always going to have that neurological stimulus. Now I will not get as strong as quickly doing that, but I will keep that strength longer.
So if we look at a year plan or a six month plan, I think it's way more advantageous to do a little bit of both. There's also studies that show maintaining muscle during a cut is you're going to have more advantage with that if you're still hitting some load up training. So when do you use which? I would say all the time. I think you should always use both. Now if you're a power lifter, it changes. That's a very specific sport, but if you're a bodybuilder, if you're a general population clients, somebody like me who just wants to be the best they can be, I want to look the best I can, I want to be strong, but I really want to have big muscles and I want to stay lean, the best way for us to do this is to HIIT each movement pattern in the low rep range and the high rep range.
So I will do an overhead press and the eight to 12 rep range, and I will also do an overhead press in the, let's say, three to five rep range, every single week. Same with bench pressing, and with dead lifts, and with squats, and with everything. Now, the only time I change this is when I want to switch every three to four weeks. So I might do a bench press for five reps and then overhead press for 10 reps. So I'm still doing low and high. I'm doing different movement patterns, but a lot of the same musculature. After three to four weeks, I switch it. Low rep overhead press, high rep bench press. That's another good way to do it. But no matter what, I'm still working low rep ranges and high rep ranges every single week. And I think this is the most advantageous way to program, I think this is the most effective way that we see our clients get results.
So we're talking cardio here. What's more effective if we just look at this as a blanket statement? I would say high intensity interval training is more effective. The reason I would say that is because you burn more calories in a shorter amount of time. So if we look at one day and I have an hour to get as much calorie burn as possible, I'm going to choose HIIT. Because what I could burn with low intensity cardio for an hour, I could burn double in 30 minutes. Because in 15 minutes I could probably burn the same with HIIT than I could with LISS in an hour.
The reason being is because you're going at a higher intensity, your heart rate's going up, you're burning more quickly, and then we have the EPOC effect, Excess post-exercise oxygen consumption, meaning after you're actually done with that cardio about your body is still pulling in oxygen to the white blood cells that is going to create more of a caloric burn and you're going to expend more calories after you were done doing cardio. And that means more calorie burn over the day. I do believe that if we look at a longterm standpoint, so if I'm working with somebody for three plus months, I might say LISS. And the reason I would say that is because high intensity interval training is much more taxing on damn near every system in your body, but especially your nervous system. So you can only do so much, and as your fatigue goes up, your performance goes down. And if your performance is going down, that HIIT is going to be less effective because you're not getting as much work and output maximal output, during the HIIT intervals.
On top of that, if your fatigue is going up, performance is going down, that means it's also going down in your strength training workouts. And those are your bread and butter. That's the most important sessions you have per week. So HIIT can be disadvantageous because it can negatively impact the rest of our training, it can negatively impact our fatigue management, and then we end up in a shitty situation. So HIIT is more effective in the short sense because you can save time, you can burn a lot of calories, but LISS is more effective in the longterm for most people because you never really get overly fatigued with it unless you're doing hours of it and you're in an extreme deficit getting on stage.
If you're doing, let's say four days, a week of lifting and two days of cardio and you're doing 30 to 40 minutes of LISS, you're really never going to put yourself into a rut because that's not enough. But you're still getting a caloric burn. Yes, it's boring because you're walking and doing nothing for up to an hour. But you're straight burning calories and you're not damaging the nervous system and that allows you to recover for your strength training.
The other reason I really like LISS is cause it's more parasympathetic and less sympathetic. HIIT intervals are very sympathetic and if we look at energy systems, your metabolic pathways, when we strength train, it's very similar to high intensity cardio. I do a heavy squat, I do five reps, it takes me no longer than 30 seconds. So let's say 15 to 30 seconds, my heart rate goes through the roof and then I sit down for two minutes and rest until I can get back onto the bar. That's a HIIT interval. I go really hard for 15 to 30 seconds, my heartbeat goes through the roof, I completely stop for two minutes and then when I'm ready to go back to the Max output, I go at it again.
So that's a certain metabolic pathway, that's a certain energy system. LISS is a completely different energy system. So not only is this going to help us recover like I just mentioned, but this might also be advantageous to fat loss. And I've actually seen this personally and with clients, using different energy systems it forces the body to be less adapted. It makes it harder for the body to actually adapt to what you're doing. And if we look at cardio, we don't want to adapt. The more we adapt, the less calories we burn. If we get good at cardio, we're more efficient at it. And if we're more efficient at it, we burn less fuel, Aka Calories, Aka fat, to get the job done. So we don't want to be efficient. But if we're constantly varying our energy systems, then it's going to be very hard for our body to adapt and burn more fat.
So for that reason, I really, really like LISS, HIIT as its place. For many people it's necessary to add a little bit of HIIT, because it is effective. You just have to be very cautious of your recovery demands. I'm a big fan of doing 50/50. A little bit of HIIT, a little bit of LISS, and if we're going for an extreme result, getting shredded or getting super lean or we have a deadline for a wedding, a photo shoot, bikini competition, or anything like that, I'm a bigger fan of LISS, because you can add more of it and we need more of it, to get you really lean without causing very much fatigue. And if you're committing to a goal like that, I know you're going to be ready to commit some time to the process.
Does MISS, moderate intensity steady state cardio ever have a place? This is a really good question and I think yes it does. I think moderate intensity steady state cardio has a more of a place in your plan if you actually enjoy running, or biking, or anything like that. If you just enjoy the act of that moderately intense cardio, I think it's important for you to add it in because I think it's a psychological benefit. However, it's probably one of the more damaging types and fatiguing types of cardio you can do. It's going to have a similar effect on your nervous system has HIIT, because you are hitting that intensity, and you're still going for a long duration. So usually people, let's say walk for LISS, for an hour or 30 minutes to an hour. Usually people go jog or run for 30 minutes to an hour as well.
So not only are you having the same duration as LISS, but you're having close to the same, I'm not going to say it's the same nervous system fatigue as HIIT, but it's close to the same neurological fatigue as HIIT cardio. Now we kind of have the both of west worlds right? LISS you're doing it too long, HIIT you're doing it too intense, we're right in the middle of doing a little bit of both. That's going to be more impactful for overall fatigue. Add to that most MISS, unless you're doing sled poles or a stationary bike, most of it has a lot of damage on the joints. If we go on a run, for example, I want to say a mile is around 1600 steps, that's 800 hops on each joint knee, ankle. So you're literally jumping and kind of pounding on the joints. It's going to cause a lot of joint compression, a lot of overuse injuries in your legs, might not be the most advantageous thing.
Like I said, if you don't just enjoy competitive running like marathons, stuff like that, or it's a psychological thing, a meditative practice for you, I don't advise moderate intensity cardio. The only other place that we need to implement moderate intensity cardio is with athletic performance. CrossFitters, soccer players, basketball players, anybody who's on a field or a sport, and is playing at a moderate or high intensity, or a varied intensity for a long period of time, should probably introduce multiple intensity zones into their training.
You need to be ready to sprint, jog, sprint, jog, walk, sprint, rest. If you need to be like that for your sport, which is all those sports I just talked about, you probably should do some HIIT, you should do some LISS, and you should do some MISS, because you need to be ready. It's not about body composition here it's about being athletically prepared to perform in your sport. In that sense, my recommendation is doing non eccentric loading moderate intensity cardio. What this is, is movement patterns or exercise equipment using exercise equipment that does not require actually centric loads. So sled poles are great example. Every time you take a step you're doing a concentric movement, but there's no negative phase, there's no eccentric load between steps.
In assault bike, there's a lot of resistance and a lot of hard lactic acid base like pushes on the concentric, but there is no negative or eccentric movement. So things like this are very, very good rowers. Another example, you're pulling but you're never slowly pulling back. If you do a chin up, you pull yourself up and you slowly control down. That controlling down is more fatiguing than it is to control up. Whether you realize it or not, that eccentric or negative, is harder than the concentric or the positive on your nervous system and on your body. So if you're going to choose MISS, it probably should be for athletic reasons and it should be using a sled, a rower, or an assault bike in my opinion.
100% they are. We've got to look at it like this. Your body's musculature is stupid, it knows tension and it knows resistance and it knows overload. So it doesn't really know if you're using an inclined hammer strength, or an incline dumbbell, or an incline barbell, all it knows is these muscles are working. Now you can argue that a dumbbell incline press, uses a lot more of your stabilizers and it's probably more functional, and I would agree with both of those statements. Therefore, I do believe it has more advantage, more benefits, and I recommend it more frequently.
But if we're just talking about effectiveness for building strength or building muscle, machines, cable's, free weights, barbells, it doesn't matter, resistance is resistance, tension is tension, and progressive overload is progressive overload. So any way you can add that is going to be advantageous. And for most people trying to build muscle, I do recommend a lot of machines, leg press, cable, leg extensions, leg curls, we're strictly trying to create tension and sometimes after you're already fatigued from doing the free weight compound movements, it's best to jump on a machine and allow yourself to overload to a point of close or near failure, that is going to be advantageous for muscle growth.
So I do think machines are effective for strength and hypertrophy, I think it all depends on the setting. I don't think they replace any free weight or compound movements, but they are absolutely effective for strength and hypertrophy.
So crossfit can be effective for fat loss, yes. Exercise is exercise, caloric expenditure is caloric expenditure. The problem I see with most people trying to purely lose fat with CrossFit, is there's not a lot of controlled variabilities because it is a sport. So if we look at bodybuilding, we can add, you know, four days of lifting with a specific amount of volume, specific rest periods, and two sessions of 30 minute cardio. These are controlled variables. And after three weeks it's been working, four weeks it slows down, fifth week let's say you plateaued. I know that I can make those 30 minutes sessions, 40 minutes and I can make that 20 sets of volume, 21 sets of volume. Those are small incremental changes, but they are changes in their controlled variables that we can enhance to effectively lose more fat or build more muscle.
CrossFit does not have this, it's very random. There's a lot of things just being thrown at it and that's okay. It's an athletic sport. If we look at soccer, we do not know how many steps we're going to take, how many shots were going to kick, how often we're going to be playing. We don't know the duration of sprints we're going to take, it's all random because it's an athletic sport. Football, you don't know how many times you're going to get tackled, how many times you're going to throw, how many times you're going to run, it's all random. It's variability, right? So that's the biggest reason I think it's not as effective.
I also think there's a higher risk potential because there's a lot of nervous system, dominant training, and then there's also a lot of very, very high rep which is just overall fatiguing stuff and again, it's very random. Effective fat loss mostly comes from nutrition and I think if you're going to step into CrossFit for fat loss, you need to be ready to supply your body with enough nutritional needs and fuel, to actually sustain the performance. If you can focus on performance and CrossFit, I think you're going to have better chances of losing fat, than you would if not.
The most effective way to lose fat during CrossFit is going to be carb cycling in my opinion. The reason I say this is because I would recommend somebody doing CrossFit for fat loss, only to do CrossFit three times a week. Those three sessions, we're going to pump carbs in around your training so that you can perform maximally lower risk injury and actually improve through the modalities, your training. On the other three days of training because we're going to say you're training for six days a week, we're going to do a little bit of bodybuilding and a little bit of cardio, very controlled, very lower intensity, but it's a day that we can lower calories and not worry about injury risk. Those are going to be your fat loss days.
As a whole, I do not think CrossFit is the most effective thing for fat loss, but I do believe it can be if you supply your body with the right nutrition, if you sleep enough, if you recover, and it obviously works. I think it takes longer to get ripped from CrossFit, but if you look at the people who perform exponentially well in CrossFit, they're usually pretty lean. And I think the reason is, is because they've focused on performance and performance alone, the whole time. Eventually their body keeps burning fat and keeps burning fat until they get to a very lean place. But it's probably a slow process there, or they were lean before they started CrossFit.
So there's a couple of things. It's not something I recommend people that come to me, they're saying, "Hey, I want to lose fat. What should I jump into?" We're usually going to jump into strength training, cardio, and nutrition. We're not going to go, "Okay, let's jump into CrossFit." If somebody tells me they already do CrossFit but they need to cut weight, I'm not going to tell them to stop CrossFit because that's what they love. And the most important thing we need to remember is adherence is key number one, enjoyment is key number two.
So if the only way for you to enjoy training and keep adhering is, CrossFit, then we're going to keep doing CrossFit. I'm just going to add a little bit of low intensity, focus on your sleep, and I'm going to make sure that we're not taking a huge deficit, especially on most days, so that you can actually recover from what you're doing because CrossFit is more intense neurologically, yeah.
So the other question I always get is, can you build muscle with CrossFit? I think it's obvious that you can because there's a lot of Jack human beings that do CrossFit, but if you look at their musculature, there're jacked in specific places. They usually have really big quads, really big glutes, really big upper backs and shoulders. The reason being is because they do a lot of dead lifts, a lot of squats, and a lot of high poles, a lot of snatches, a lot of cleans, a lot of rowing, all those things are very, very upper back dominant. So you get kind of jacked in certain places.
The reason they get jacked in those places, number one is frequency. They're constantly hitting those muscles that are constantly sending a growth signal to the that musculature to adapt. You can't send that signal over and over and over again and not seeing adaptation. The second reason is volume. So if they're doing rowing, and cleans, and snatches, and squats, and all these things that frequently, their volume is going to be through the roof. And this is something people forget. Their volume is super high for these muscle groups. They don't have a super defined chest, super defined biceps, super defined triceps, or calves, and things like that very often because they're not isolating those muscle groups, they're not isolating their side delts doing lateral raises very often, but they're hitting their muscles, all these specific muscles, the big movers, basically your shoulders, glutes, quads, upper back on a very frequent basis. And they're doing it in such a frequent basis that their volume is actually super high.
And then last but not least, I would actually say especially with the latest literature coming out on lactic acid, that lactic acid can be tied to muscle growth. I think that's a big key component. The assault bike, 21 rep burpees or overhead press and squat thrusters and swings and everything like that, these super high reps sets accumulate a ton of metabolites, a ton of lactic acid, and that's going to lead to growth. So I think it is effective for hypertrophy, I don't think it's as effective. This is the exact same answer as the effective for fat loss question. I think it can work, and I think for a lot of people it does because the frequency and volume for certain muscle groups is very high, but I don't think it's the most advantageous because is uncontrolled variables.
If somebody comes to me as a physique athlete and says, "I need to bring up my lats and my glutes", I can specifically target those muscles with more volume and I can progress that week to week. With CrossFit, it's very random and it's very interchangeable, which is because it's that's the way the sport is. It's constantly changing every week and I can't control the specific volume as much. Because of that, as a coach, it makes me very hard for me to guarantee a specific hypertrophy result.
I think it's okay to do so any time that you physically cannot do a movement and you have something that can replace it, that can replace it with the same type of stimulus. So what I mean by that is, if I needed to do a close stance, Smith machine squat, let's say it's on the program. Close stance, which means squad, which is a very high tension, high route, long duration resistance curve. So if you think about a Smith machine, it's basically constant tension and a close stance is going to be very quad dominant. So let me think about this.
How can I create long duration of constant tension while keeping a close stance, but I don't have a Smith machine? What I could do is I could do a kettlebell goblet, dumbbell split squat, with no lockout. So now I'm substituting for an exercise that I can really isolate my quad. Let's say I do an elevated, so it's a deficit. So it's extended range of motion. So I'm standing on plates. My knee has to travel further, which creates more of a stretch that's going to mimic similar to that close stance. I can hold a kettle bell and not lock out. So when I don't lock out, I never released that tension because I'm not releasing the tension, it keeps my resistance curve very frequent, which is very similar to the Smith machine or a close stance goblet squat, without a lockout.
Same thing, heels elevated. You can do something like that. So I think it's okay as long as you can mimic the movement pattern and create a very similar resistance curve, tension or stimulus. If somebody has a barbell box squat for five, and you it for a double Kettlebell front squat, and you're like, "Hey, it's the same movement pattern. It's a squat." Yes it is. But a box squat is much more hip dominant. You have to sit further back, which is more glute dominant. It's also loaded on your back, not your front. That's a completely different loading pattern, which is going to completely change the type of exercise in the center of gravity of your movement. It's also a different resistance curve. It's a different load. You can put way more on your back than you can on a double Kettlebell goblet squat, right? So that makes it more challenging too, which is why I would have changed the Smith machine to a split squat, because the Smith machine, I can definitely go heavier than I can with a Kettlebell split squat, however when I do a split squat, I'm isolating one leg.
So whatever I did on that Smith machine, I can split that load in half since I had two legs, it was a bilateral movement. So I think it really depends. It's okay to substitute exercises if you have to, but you want to target the same movement pattern, and you want to target the same resistance curve or tension stimulus. That way you're getting the same benefit. There's a reason things are inside the program.
Yes it does. So there's very rare cases where I will allow somebody to switch and swap exercises around. Most of the time if we look at a training program, and specifically the Boom Boom Performance Style, like the method of our training programs, there is an exercise sequencing pattern that happens. We're aware of your joint health, your nervous system activity, and your energy and fatigue management. Because of these three things, there's a certain order of operations for every single program. There is a phase in the beginning where we activate muscles to make your joints move a little bit more efficiently during the compounds lifts which come next. At that point, you are warmed up but not fatigued, which means your energy and fatigue management, is at the best point it's going to be during your workout.
This is the period of time we want to prioritize compound lifts, the things that have the highest skill acquisition, and also the highest risk of injury. We want the most alertness, the most focused, and the most energy in the least fatigue during this movement. After that, we're going to go into an optimization phase. This is where we don't need as much energy or fatigue management, but we're doing more technical things like lunges and unilateral movements, so it's still takes some skill, still takes some awareness, but you still have energy to go through them.
And then last but not least, we have finishers, metabolite training, metabolic stuff where we don't need as much focus because the risk of injury is super low, like a curl. You don't need much thought process to do a curl. You're also not going to lift as much weight so you don't need as much energy and you can be a little fatigued going into that. However, we are going to burn you out at that point. We want to use every last little bit of you energy wise to get through the end of the session.
So there's a reason for this and because of that, I do not like people changing the order of exercises around, because it's an appetite for getting injured. If I go, "Oh shit, the Barbell, the racks are all taken, so I'm going to wait", instead of waiting, like let's say you had to either wait five minutes for somebody to be done in the squat rack or you had to do your hip thrust instead first, you're impatient so you do your hip thrusts first. Now I've fatigued my glutes, I've taken all the blood flow out of my quads and I've potentially fatigued my low back a little bit, and I've drained some energy. My nervous system, my metabolic energy, my heart rate, everything went up.
So now I go back to the squat. My legs are more fatigued and my glutes, so my quads are less fired up and my low back is potentially fatigued. This is going to create more risk of injury and it's going to cause a lower total intensity in volume during that set. That means that the squat is going to be less beneficial. I'm going to get less results from that squat I'm doing, because I have less energy and I'm more fatigued in the areas I do not want to be fatigued in, if I'm trying to avoid injury. So for all those reasons, I believe the order of exercises, the exercise sequencing inside of a program, especially the Boom Boom Performance Method, it's very important and it's not smart to change them around.
Yes. Next question.
No, but seriously, it's totally fine. I think a lot of people stress too much about this. At the end of the day, we got to remember when we consume food, calories, protein, glucose, so and so forth, it's floating around in our bloodstream. It's floating around in our muscle cells. It's going to be ready to use 24 to 36 hours later in most cases. Now, studies have shown it's not advantageous, so it's not a good thing to not consume protein for a long, long time and then train. Now I would say like overnight, eight to 12 hours is fine, but when you're pushing 24 hour fast and stuff, I don't think it's smart.
Most cases, I do recommend protein prior to working out simply because I think it will help muscle protein breakdown. I think it helps with recovery and it's going to facilitate just better results. I've seen it time, and time again. I don't think fasted training has a better result from most people. The only time I see fasted training useful is, A. Somebody has to work out super early in the morning and they will get nauseous or literally sick if they consume food at five in the morning and then train at 5:30, totally I get it. It's not going to kill you. You had a big meal for dinner. So you had protein and carbohydrates for dinner less than 10 hours ago. That meal is actually what's going to be converted, broken down, digested, absorbed in the system, stored as glycogen in your muscle cells, and actually used at that morning training.
So for example, for me, I train in the morning at about 7:00 AM I don't eat before that. I have a casein protein shake. I have a protein shake for one reason. Number one, is because I want protein available so I don't break down muscle, it just makes me feel better. But it's easy on my stomach. I have carbohydrates the night before that is going to supply me the nutrients needed for my actual performance, from an energy standpoint. There're some studies that showed casein protein might be more advantageous. Well, it is more advantageous in this study, for fat loss during a session compared to fasted or whey, which surprised me.
And I don't rush to a meal right afterwards. So the slow digestion and the casein works out well for me. I drink it at about 6:00 to 6:30, I know it's going to be still digesting and breaking down in my system throughout the training session and right after so I don't have to rush to a meal. That's why I like it. And the study kind of convinced me that it might be better for fat loss, it might be splitting hairs, but it has been shown. That being said, I do not like making people eat before, if they train super early in the morning and it makes them nauseous or sick. I think that in some athletic or performance based exercises like a high conditioning or metabolic conditioning style workout like CrossFit, depending on the workout, like let's say it's like a rowing or an endurance based workout, sometimes people feel there's no study that show this, but I've worked with clients that allows me to believe the oxygen consumption might be better if you are fasted, meaning you can just take in breaths, you can do more work and just get more done, if you don't have any food in your stomach.
There are some pathways in the digestion process that may interfere with that and that's why I believe it's probably occurring. But there's no evidence, it's all anecdote, that's just what I've seen. So last but not least, it kind of comes down to how you feel. Some people feel more focused and I understand that because when we consume food, there is a parasympathetic response to digestion and that makes people sometimes feel like kind of drowsy, or tired, or they want to take a nap, they're not super focused, and therefore they don't have as much clarity during a training session, which I think there're advantages to having a lot of clarity during a training session as well. And I can agree to that. That's why I train early is because after a full day of work and multiple meals, I do feel a little bit more fatigued and tired mentally. So I like training in the morning because I feel more focused and less bothered.
So is training fasted ok to do? Yes, it's absolutely okay. You're not going to burn off muscle, you're not going to die, you're not going to kill yourself, you're not going to hurt yourself, you're not going to have any negative impact, no negative results, it's totally okay. The only things I would say is, you don't want to train if you've been fasting all day. So if you started fasting at 8:00 PM tonight, and you're doing a 24 hour fasting, and you plan on training at that, like 20 to 24 hour mark, I would not recommend that. I don't think it's very safe. I think your performance is going to be very poor. I think you're going to get less results. And again, it's just not the safest thing. I do believe for insulin, blood sugar, just energy, mental fatigue, things like that, I do think it's important, in hydration. I think it's important to have some food before a meal.
There're studies that show no difference between training or cardio fasted versus non-fasted so you're not going to get any added benefit from doing fasted training. There are some studies that show it might be more advantageous for building muscle and strength if you are fed prior. So if your goal is building muscle or building strength, I do think you should have some food before. If it does not fit with your lifestyle, it's harder for you to adhere to or you train so early in the morning that it makes you nauseous when you eat first, then train fasted, but make sure your meal the night before supports good performance. That's going to look like a good amount of protein and a good amount of carbohydrates.
The best training for fat loss is a combination of strength training and cardio. I think the best training for fat loss is probably going to be full body strength training. We never want to rely solely on cardio. Cardio is an added tool. It's a tool that we can add that little bit in. It helps you get that extra five to 10% of caloric expenditure to lose more fat. But at the end of the day, strength training is your bread and butter. You want to lift weights, in the long run you're going to build more muscle, you're going to have a better metabolic effect from it. You're going to have a better hormonal effect, you're going to have more calories burned throughout the rest of the day.
Strength training is going to be your bread and butter, that's going to lead to more fat loss after you lock in your strength training four, five, six days a week, however much and you HIIT a plateau in your fat loss because you are prioritizing nutrition to lose fat and you don't want to cut more calories, at that point you can start adding in more cardio. And there's also advantages to cardio from a recovery standpoint, and oxygen consumption standpoint, a performance standpoint. So there's nothing wrong with adding in cardio before you plateau, but if we're strictly speaking of fat loss, there's no desire or a crucial reason, or a necessity to add cardio in prior to a plateau. I don't think we should rely on it. Strength training is going to be your best type of training for fat loss.
I typically recommend full body. I think you'll burn more calories in a full body session. But if we're not doing full body, I would probably say an upper lower split, because you're using a lot of supersets and antagonist supersets like I talked about earlier, where we're doing like pushing and pulling together, so on and so forth.
There are so many training splits. So I think at the end of the day, the most important thing to remember when choosing the best training split is going to be what you can adhere to. I'm going to link a blog that I wrote on this, Finding Your Best Training Split, in the Show Notes, but at the end of the day, you got to think of what you can adhere to and enjoy the most. So there's some people that just love bro splits, right? Like doing chest and back, then arms and legs, then shoulders and calves, or whatever it is, if that's what they enjoy, at the end of the day, what's most important is volumes. So just make sure your volume landmarks, you're hitting the amount of volume you need per week and go with it. So that's level one. If we're just talking about order of importance here, adherence is number one, do what you enjoy most.
Level two is going to be looking at optimization. So a bro split doing one body part per … or two, if you're doing back and biceps for example, like a primary and a secondary body part, but a bro split is probably not going to be the most advantageous for volume because if we look at total volume, even if you match up the sets, I do believe in upper lower split or a push pull legs, or a posterior anterior or a full body, any way that you can split up your muscle groups throughout the week a little bit more frequently, I think you're going to get a better result. And they've shown this in studies that shows two times a week is like kind of the sweet spot of hitting a muscle group per week.
If we equate volume technically by theory, scientific theory, we would say that no matter what split it is, no matter how many times a week you HIIT a muscle group, if your volumes are acquainted you will see results. The problem I see with this is if you HIIT a muscle group one time per week, you are less likely to have high loads throughout that day. Meaning, if I do bench press and then inclined bench press, and then dumbbell floor press, and then cable flies and peck deck, and I'm like literally just demolishing my chest. And then I do dips, by the time I get to the like sixth or seventh chest exercise, the weight I'm lifting is so low because my chest is so fatigued.
Now, if I cut those in half and do them on two separate days, I'm doing way more load with the exercises that were the exact same if they were on the same day. But now they're on two different days. For that reason I think your results are going to be better because your overall volume, if you look at sets times reps times weight lifted, is going to be higher. So because of that, I think the absolute best split is going to be splitting your groups up. So because I think the best splits are going to either be an upper lower split, or a push pull legs. Both of these prioritize a couple of things.
Number one, you can sit there and focus on a muscle group. So on an upper lower split, I can do a chest exercise and then another chest exercise, and then maybe some shoulder exercises, and then sprinkle and back exercises. But because I'm focused on just my upper body, I can find that pump, I can find that my muscle connection it's a little bit easier. A full body program, it's going to be a little bit harder to do that because I might start with a bench press and then I go to a lunch, and then I go to a pole, and that's great and it's still going to give you a really good result. And we program full body for a lot of clients, especially fat loss.
My next E-book that launches April 1st, I'm super excited about this because it's something that we've never done before like the style of programming, everything. It's super, super excited for you guys to see this one, but that's a full body program. So I believe in them and I like them, the problem there is, is as soon as I start feeling my chest work, I'm like, okay, now I'm starting to get that mind muscle connection, that focus, that internal drive, now I'm going to do squat completely different, I take my distraction somewhere else. That's going to be harder for a lot of people who have trouble activating or really feeling a muscle work. But upper lower program can do that. A push pull legs can do that as well. Because a push workout, I'm doing all chest and shoulders and triceps. I'm staying in those categories and I'm really focused on finding that connection and I like that.
Both of these styles of programs also HIIT the frequency of twice a week per muscle group per week. That's going to be most advantageous. And both of these support the idea of not being in gym for too long. A full body hypertrophy program, can be pretty long if we're really focused on hitting enough volume, you might be in the gym for quite a while unless you're doing full body six days a week, and if you do full body six days a week, it can be really, really taxing.
An upper lower split and a push pull legs, I might only need an hour up most to HIIT all my volume for a push day twice a week. That's pretty easy to do. 10 sets of chest and shoulders on one day, 10 sets of chest and shoulders on another day, you'll literally hit the maximum, like not the maximum, but a really high amount of volume, 20 sets total per week per muscle group. And it doesn't take hours and hours. So you're in and out of the gym in an hour. I really do like that. And I've just found for people trying to build muscle or even people trying to just build the physique, to lose fat while maintaining muscle, push pull legs and upper lower splits tend to be the most advantageous. Those are my two favorite training splits and what I have seen that shows the best result with my body personally, and a lot of my clients.
There was a point in time and you may or may not remember this, but there was like a some studies or some kind of research that came out and basically said, I think it was … And this made me get super scared of training for too long, I'll never forget this. It was like at the 40 to 45 minute mark, your testosterone starts declined during the training session or something, some kind of like radical claim like that. And it freaked me out and I'm like, "No, my testosterone … ", and I don't think that's really the case. I think that it honestly comes down to total work volume, total caloric expenditure, total hours of sleep, stuff like that.
We really have to consider overall fatigue more so than we need to consider the demands of one single session. And the reason I say that is because one single session isn't going to necessarily wear down your body so much that you begin to have all these hormonal repercussions. It's more of an accumulation of training, accumulation of cardio, accumulation of a caloric deficit, or surplus, whatever way caloric balance period, and an accumulation of poor sleep, that's going to really affect and harm each thing.
So how long should each session be? As long as you have to work out or as long as it takes to fit your volume and like really it comes down to volume, right? So if you only have an hour to train, then that's how long your session's to be. If you only have 30 minutes, that's how long it should be. If you say I have unlimited amount of time, I would say, "Hey, going over two hours is kind of ridiculous." You know what I mean? If you're doing a high volume training, if you're really focused on your physique, and you're taking adequate rest periods to lift as much as possible, every single set you're taking your time, and you're looking at your form, there's nothing wrong with having a two hour session if it doesn't cause more stress. The reality is, having to be in the gym for two hours to most people, causes more stress.
But I have some clients and I know some people who have as much time as needed to train, and in their situation, two hours is not that big of a deal. It's not going to drain them. And it's what's needed in order to fit all the training and all the volume they need for their specific goal, which is usually an extreme goal, or very advanced individual striving for the most optimal results possible. So how long a session should be really should be? Really it's should be, it's two answers.
Number one, as long as it needs to be in order for you to fit your weekly volume. So if you're hitting the higher thresholds of volume per week and you're only doing four sessions a week, your sessions are probably going to be longer. So it might be more advantageous to do six sessions per week, so that your sessions each time are shorter but you're still hitting the amount of volume. So it's kind of up to you.
And then the second answer of that is, however long you need to train. Like you got to think of adherence. So as long as you can be in there.
So this is like the duration of a full program. There's a million answers for this, so it really depends. Like if we look at a macro cycle, your training program could be a year long, if we're planning it that way. It can be three months, it could be six months, it could be one month. I think at the end of the day, a single program should usually be three to four weeks long. As a coach, the program for me is usually, "Three months or four months or five months or six months." I might look at the long scale as long as I believe this client is going to be with me. And some for some people I have a lot of clients had been with me for eight to 12 months, sometimes even a longer than a year, and for those people, their program is a year. Because what we're doing right now is what we're going to … Like I have a guy that just started with me and, a couple of people actually. Two guys that just started with me this month, who they are committed to a full year of training with me.
For those individuals, what we're doing right now is in preparation for what we're going to be doing on month 12. I already have this in mind. The thing with that is, and we have to remember this, right now, I have a very, very specific and detailed program that they will be doing month one. Month 12, is far from detailed because I do not know where we are going to be at month six or month three. As they progress, as things adjust, as life changes, as the result of progress, that's what dictates month 12. So I have an idea of where I want them to be at a month 12, and that's why I say the program is 12 months long is because we are periodizing, and we are planning everything around that whole entire period we're going to be working together. But the program itself is four weeks.
I usually think a four week program is about right. You spend week one getting really used to the program, pushing yourself. Week two, you're trying to progress. Week three you're trying to peak and build as much on top of what you started at. And then week four, you deload tape it down, and then week one of the next program starts. So, you have like accumulation of three weeks going up, and then you have one deload and then you move on to the next thing. So usually I like a four week program. If somebody gets bored very quickly, I will do three weeks. But anything less than three weeks I do not believe is long enough to truly see progress. And as we know, we actually have to progress week to week, in order to see a specific result. We can't just do things at random, too consistently, there has to be some rhyme or reason for you to see progress, especially in the compound LISS we have to have some regularity, week-to-week.
So this has changed over the years in my opinion, at least in my experience, it has, of what I believe the best way to do it is. First answer that most people come to is, add weight to the bar. So if I can add five to 10 pounds to the bar every single week, to the download of the whatever exercise I'm using, that's probably going to be the best way to progressively overload, because my total volume, my total intensity, my total work done, is increasing and it's very easy to see that it's a linear, just you're progressing, it's obvious you're adding weight to the bar. I think that's great.
I personally believe if you can progressively overload your total volume via reps and sets, I think you were going to have better results from a hypertrophy and a static result. The reason for this is because we know volume is the key driver of hypertrophy. So if we can increase volume over time, I think that's great. You can only do that to a certain extent though, and then you have to focus on building weight. I like, my favorite progressive overload model is a very simple, I believe it's called linear periodization with wave loading.
So basically what this does is week one, we'll do four sets of eight. Week two, we're doing four sets of seven. Week three we're doing four sets of six, and week four we bring it back up, to four sets of eight. So basically what I'm doing is every week I'm actually dropping volumes. So I'm actually lowering a rep, but I'm adding weight because since I'm doing less weight or reps, I can do more weight with that exercise, it's obvious. So I slowly add weight. Week one, week two, week three, and then week four, I actually come back to four times eight, four sets of eight. But at this point I have accumulated more load and so I can probably lift more weight for that four sets of eight.
So what it might look like is, four sets of eight with 200, four sets of seven for 205, and then four sets of six with 210. Then four sets of eight with 205. So now I'm lifting for eight what I had lifted for seven. For some people who have a slower adaptation to strength and might be better to spread this out even further, so going four by eight, four by seven, four by six, four by five, and then finally four by eight. So you're doing a four week progression instead of a three. That seems to be my favorite way. That's what functional muscle uses, but we do it and even so it actually goes four by 10, four by eight, four by six, and then we switch to four by nine, and we go odds. So, that has a nine week progression model, but I really like doing it like that wave loading, increasing load while increasing reps, this allows you to lift more weight, get stronger without the injury risk of trying to push it for the same way, especially as an advanced lifter.
An advanced lifter trying to build muscle or change their body, I think this works the best because if you told me to add five pounds of the bar for my four sets of eight squat every week, it's going to be damn near impossible. In fact, it is going to be impossible, especially after a few weeks. But with this model, because I'm lowering reps, I can add weight and that's going to slowly build more strength over time. So I could follow this model for a long time. You can do this for 16 to 20 weeks and it would be very successful.
So the best way to progressively overload is usually by adding volume via total weight lifted. And I like doing this by linear wave loading week to week, on a three or four week block model. But at the end of the day, there is no best way to progressively overload. To be completely transparent, I think that at the end of the day, progressive overload is progressive overload, and there's a million different ways to do it. And at the end of the day, as long as you're increasing your overload by adding reps, adding sets, adding weight, you're progressively overloading and that's really all that matters.
Can't find the answer here?
The reality is this is what creates body composition changes. So whether we are trying to lose weight or gain weight, I.e. burn body fat or build muscle is my assumption of what those two goals lead to depending on who you are I guess. No matter what, we have to create either a deficit or a surplus, which means that we need to burn more calories than we’re taking in, if we are trying to lose fat or lose weight, and we need to take in more calories than we are burning, if we’re trying to build muscle or gain weight. It’s a simple equation. It’s an energy balance equation. Calories in, needs to be different than calories out, and either which way depending on what our goal is.
So the reason this is so important is because it quite literally is the way to change your body composition. Whether you are tracking calories or not, whether you’re tracking macros or not. You need to find a way in order to create a favorable energy balance for your goal. So if you want to lose weight, that means we need to add up all of our ways of tracking or just knowing what our calorie expenditure is. And a lot of times I don’t have clients actually track this, because I don’t think it’s always necessary, but we need to make sure that all the different ways that we can burn calories, NEAT, so non exercise activity thermogenesis, which is walking to go grab groceries, it’s fidgeting, it’s me talking, it’s things like that, our digestion. So our body actually digesting food is another way to actually burn more calories.
It doesn’t mean eat more to digest and burn more. It just means that our body burns calories in order to do that, maintain the muscle and the tissues on our body, whether we’re talking about bodily tissues, skeletal muscle, so on and so forth. What we have on our body, everything in our body, it takes energy to preserve and just sustain and maintain. Therefore, we burn calories just at rest because of that. So there’s a lot of things that add into this that don’t even have anything to do with actually going and training or doing cardio.
However, all of these things put together gives us how much calories we are actually burning, which is our total daily energy expenditure. We need to make sure that, that amount is greater than the amount we’re taking in, so the amount of calories we burn has to be more than the calories we are taking in. That creates a caloric deficit. This deficit leads to fat loss. It allows our body to actually burn stored fat, aka weight, and us to lose weight. If we want to build muscle, we have to flip that equation into the positive, which means I have to take in more calories than I’m actually expanding through all these different things that I just explained.
The reality of it all is, this equation, this calories in versus calories out, is very important for body composition changes simply because it is what leads to body composition changes. It’s documented in science and there’s no way for us to prove it wrong because it is the reality, it is what is correct.
So the reason we focus on macros with so many of our clients is pretty simple. Macros are a way for us to individualize your caloric intake. Your calories are the most important thing that is gonna allow you to change your body composition. Whether you want to gain muscle or you want to burn fat. No matter what, we need to create a caloric deficit or surplus. How we create that caloric surplus, is very individual. Because you are going to have different cravings. You are gonna have different performance needs. You’re gonna have different fuel needs. You’re gonna have different hormonal profiles. You’re gonna have different age, you’re gonna be a different gender. There’s so many things that go into it. The amount of muscle mass you have, your insulin sensitivity and “carb tolerance.”
All these things add up and kind of create your individuality or your individual profile. Depending on all of those factors that we just went over and depending on all these factors with my clients, this is what determines what I feel is going to be best for their macronutrients, because now I know what their calories need to be and now I can determine how much protein, carbs, and fats I think that individual needs. An example, carbs are kind of looked at as a scaled nutrient. The reason I say that is because the more you perform, the more muscle mass you have and the harder you train, the more carbs we’re gonna need in your diet, because you will not be able to continually perform that hard or recover from the training you are doing, let alone maintain the muscle mass you have on your body, if you’re not consuming enough carbohydrates.
What this means for you is that I’m probably gonna have you on a higher carb, lower fat diet. I also have to be 100% positive that I’m giving you enough fats to support your nervous system and your hormonal profile. Because those two things play a major role in also performing, maintaining muscle mass, burning fat, so on and so forth. So there’s a lot that goes into this, but the main reason we use macros is, I guess you could say the key tool in our nutrition coaching is because it’s the most specific tool we can use in order to guide you to the result. It’s literally a roadmap and a tool that we can use as a metric to tweak, adjust, assess, and plan accordingly to get you exactly where you wanna be.
It’s the tool that I can use to individualize your caloric intake. So no matter what calories you need to be taking to reach your goal, I can tweak these macros to make sure that A, you’re gonna adhere to those calories better. And B, you’re gonna hit your goals that much faster. And it gives me a metric to adjust along the way. Because there’s many times where I can tweak macros while keeping you at your caloric intake and still see results. That’s a huge positive, because now I don’t have to take calories away from you in order to continue seeing fat loss. I can tweak Macros, add refeeds, add a diet break, manipulate hormones via macronutrients without ever even touching calories.
So back to the whole question in the first place. The reason we use macros with so many of our clients is because it’s the most accurate tool to adjust your plan along the way. And it’s also the most accurate individualization tool to make sure that you can not only adhere to the plan better, but feel better while we hit your calories along the way. So a lot that goes into that
This is a pretty controversial one, and a lot of people have different opinions on it. But, whether or not you should eat as many calories on your rest days as your training days, really is determined … It depends, first of all. It’s really determined by your output and your expectations of your training. And what I mean by that is, if your number one goal is to build muscle, you probably don’t want to be cycling calories in and out, because you want your calories to be high all the time. If you’re mainly targeting performance or strength, it’s the same exact thing.
I don’t want you to lower calories on a rest day and then go into your training session the next day feeling like shit, and not performing well, because you didn’t have enough calories to support recovery in your future performance yesterday. See, when we consume nutrients, specifically carbohydrates and protein, our body breaks it down, digests it, and utilizes it later on. It stores it as muscle glycogen and then later uses it. So what I consume for breakfast this morning, and then went and trained an hour later, it can give me a little bit of fuel, but unless it’s highly branched cyclic dextrin, which is a fast molecular carbohydrate that gets absorbed in the intestine like that, and goes right into the bloodstream. Unless you’re eating something like that, it’s not gonna be digested right away. It’s probably gonna take hours to digest, hours to absorb. Then it’s gonna store as muscle glycogen and then it’s gonna get used later on.
So the reality of this morning’s training session, is that it was fueled by last night’s carb based meal, which means if I took my carbs and calories down yesterday, because it was a rest day, then I’m gonna have less fuel for today to perform hard. And if my goal is building muscle or performing at my best, I’m gonna have subpar performance every time I do that. Therefore, carb cycling or cycling your calories up and down, might not be the best strategy. Now when fat loss is the goal, it’s a completely different scenario. The reality of fat loss is your weekly caloric intake is the biggest predominant factor that leads to fat loss, which means at the end of the week, if my calories are blank, if I create that caloric balance like we talked about before, if we create that caloric balance, and it’s in check at the end of the week, I’m gonna lose weight.
It doesn’t matter if I have high carb, low carb doesn’t matter. As long as my calories meet their quota at the end of the week, I am good. What that means for you, is if you enjoy having high carb days verse low carb Days, high calorie days verse low calorie days, then you should do it, because that allows you to adhere better and your number one goal is fat loss, not performance, or muscle gain. So I kind of go back and forth on this. It’s all dependent on the person. The reality is, is if your calories equate at the end of the week, you’re gonna see your results and that’s the most important factor.
This really depends, and this is something I’m gonna refer to my podcast and blog on nutritional periodization. Nutritional periodization is the idea that we periodize fat loss phases along the way to our result. So if we have a goal in six months, it might not be advantageous to go into a caloric deficit and chase fat loss for six months straight. The only time this would be the< advanced Tejas route to take, is probably gonna be if you’re getting on stage. If you’re a bikini competitor, a physique competitor, a bodybuilder and you have a six month long prep.
However, there are going to be periods of times throughout that prep that you implement what are called diet breaks or refeeds. Multiple days in a row, anywhere from two all the way up to 14, depending on how hard you are dieting, where you go up to maintenance calories, and let your body kind of just rejuvenate and refresh your hormones and your metabolism will kind of “repair” or just kind of normalize again, and it kinda just gives your body a break physiologically so that you can go back into the diet and make progress once again without harming your body’s health.
And also suffering performance wise, joint health, inflammation and strengths, so on and so forth. So the periodization is the idea of implementing these diet breaks, implementing maintenance phases and implementing surpluses throughout the process of reaching your physical. So another example is if somebody comes to me with a year long plan, or goal they want to get to a specific physique in a year, we’re going to spend time maintaining, we’re gonna spend time gaining, we’re gonna spend time creating a deficit and losing fat because each of these phases plays a pivotal role in building their ideal physique and it’s not one of those phases that lead to the result. It’s the combination of these and the sequencing of these things that allows us to achieve that body composition without suffering hormonally and physiologically.
So how long you should diet on a fat loss phase is typically, in my opinion, the best route to take is probably gonna be anywhere between 10 to 16 weeks. This is a period of time where you can create a big amount of loss. You can kind of create some damage, do some damage on your body fat, really lose some good amount of weight, but it’s not too long to where you’re really starting to adapt negatively from a hormonal and a metabolic standpoint. This is a period of time that’s short enough to where we’re not gonna see a ton of muscle loss. We’re not gonna see a ton of metabolic adaptation, and we can still get a lot of work done towards our fat loss goal.
However, if we do push towards 12, 14, 16, 18, 24 weeks long, that’s still very acceptable and in many cases we should be doing that. This is when you should be implementing diet breaks.If you are not a competitor and you have a lifestyle based plan, and you have a lifelong journey of getting as lean as possible, you should probably be focusing on sustained losses over the course of six plus months. When you go the slower route, it is going to lead to more sustainable weight loss, because the weight loss is slower. When we chase slower weight loss meaning let’s say 0.5 to 1% of body weight per week instead of one to 2% of body weight per week, when we chase that slower rate, our body is more easily able to adapt along the way in a positive manner.
What I mean by that? Your body’s settling point is the point where your body basically gets used to, and comfortable and tries to normalize around its weight, right? So we have to reset our selling point every time we reach a goal. Because if we do not, our body’s gonna jump right back to the old settling weight, which is not where we want to be obviously, if we started a fat loss phase. So by going at this at a much slower rate, our body can adapt to a new settling point more frequently because we’re going slower. So it gives it more time to adjust to the new weight changes that we are seeing along the way.
However, my last little caveat or point with this, while we are chasing this fat loss and while we are on a six plus month journey towards the leanest body we can achieve, it is very important to implement multi-day, refeed. So let’s say two refeed days per week, or every other week, or taking a diet break every four to eight weeks, which I know is a big gap, but they’re all dependent on the size of the deficit you’re creating.
But the point is, is you should be taking these time periods, whether it’s two days or seven days in a row to stay at maintenance calories by bringing your carbs up, so that your body can adapt and your hormones can more safely adjust along the way.
It depends. This is another, it depends question. The amount of calories you should cut in order to initiate the first signs over the first progressions of weight loss or fat loss is really dependent on your dieting history. Everybody is gonna be different and depending on how resilient your body is or how stubborn your body is, we’re gonna have to get more or less aggressive. There’s a many individuals who we can cut 5% of their calories, which is ideal. That’s the minimal effective dose. If we can cut 5% of your calories, that means we can take a small amount. Let’s say we cut a 100 to 150 calories, right? Very small amount. We cut that little bit and boom, we start seeing fat loss. We start seeing weight loss on a weekly basis progression.
Other people, we cut a 100 to 150, nothing happens. So two weeks pass, we cut another 100 to 150 calories, nothing happens again. Then we cut another a 100 to 150 and finally we see fat loss. But it took us getting to a 4 to 500 calorie deficit, over the course of three to five weeks to finally start seeing progress, which is very frustrating. And you spend three to five weeks going into a deficit, possibly suffering your performance, which is gonna make muscle maintenance and hormonal maintenance harder for nothing, because you didn’t lose any weight in that process. And your main goal is fat loss at that time. So for some individuals it is important to take a more aggressive approach.
This approach is going to be right to 500 calories, right to a 15 to 20% deficit right out the gate. That person is gonna need to take more frequent diet breaks and refeeds simply because they’re going into a bigger deficit. It’s less sustainable, but that’s what that person needs in order to see progress, other people can take smaller percentages. This is ideal. We take a smaller percentage of calories. It’s much easier to maintain muscle mass performance hormones and just sustain the diet in general and we can stay consistent with it for a longer period of time, which means every week we’re just gonna chip away at fat loss very easily, and have to take less diet breaks, which means we can stay engaged in the deficit for longer.
So how many calories you should pull to initiate fat loss depends on many things. If you’ve dieted for a long time in the past, if you have more muscle mass on your body, what your training looked like? How much fat you have to actually lose. There’s so many factors that are dependent on, and there’s no way for me to answer this in a video or in a podcast because at the end of the day it’s all dependent on you and so many other factors. What I would do, if you have no idea, is take 5% of your calories and drop them, 5 to 10%.
If you see zero change from that, and I would take these calories from carbs or fat, if you see zero change for that, you might have a more “resilient or stubborn body.” And if you have a history of being that way, then you know it’s probably gonna be that sense. But there’s no way for you to determine until you can really just go try this out, because there’s no science or studies that have proven the stubbornness of somebody’s body or caloric threshold as I would call it. And there’s many cases where people just have this threshold.
Let’s say it’s 1800 calories, you reverse diet your calories up to 2,600 and have no problem, but you keep chipping away at them until you hit 18 and then you finally start seeing results, when in reality you should have just cut to 18 week one. That’s a huge deficit, but you’re gonna guarantee fat loss right out the gates. You can get out of that deficit quicker, which is gonna be more healthy for your hormones and for your performance, and for your muscle maintenance in the long run. So how many calories you should cut to initiate weight loss or fat loss is really dependent on so many factors.
But the best way to determine this is basically to start with the minimal effective dose. And if nothing happens at all after two weeks, you’re probably one of the people that needs to take a more aggressive approach. However, I would probably give it four weeks with two adjustments of 5 to 10% each adjustment from a calorie drop, to see if anything starts. And if nothing starts, you might be a stubborn person and you might have to take a more aggressive approach.
So we’re going to break this up into two quick answers. So the purpose of a refeed and then the purpose of a diet break. The purpose of a refeed is simple. A refeed day is going to be one day where it’s kind of like a cheat meal. So more than anything, it’s just a psychological break from dieting. 24 hours of increased calories, meaning you can have one, I like to use the word free meal or reward meal better than cheat meal because I don’t think you’re cheating on anything at this point. Cheating implies that it’s negative or something bad or you’re failing. That’s not the case here.
If you take one free meal, you’re probably gonna pump your calories up quite a bit, and it ends up being a refeed day because you hit your daily caloric intake at a higher amount. That’s the purpose of a refeed day. So a single day, refeed day serves two main purposes. Number one, it’s a psychological break from the diet. And number two, it’s a glycogen replenishment day. This is basically a day where we have more carbohydrates. We can feel our muscle glycogen a little bit more. We’re probably gonna recover little bit better, probably gonna get a better pump for the next few days in the gym, and we’re probably gonna have some better performance, possibly hit some PRs.
During the diet, this is important. It just gives us a mental break and it allows us to adhere to the diet for a longer period of time, and in a good fat loss structure that refeed day is included in that individual’s weekly caloric intake, which means that even with that higher calorie day, their weekly caloric total balance is still in a deficit, so they’re still gonna lead to fat loss results even with that higher calorie day. That’s the purpose of a refeed day. A diet break is when we take that refeed and we make it more than one day, so at least two days is what I would consider a diet break. Usually that’s called just a multi day refeed. But we’re gonna call it a diet break in this sense.
A diet break is 2 to 14 days. So you can do two days, three days, four days, a full week, two four weeks depending on the person, depending on how long they’ve been dieting. But this is a period of time where we bring calories up to maintenance level. Our new maintenance I might add because as we diet and our metabolism adapts, that maintenance lowers. So you might not wanna go to your maintenance calories from 12 weeks ago when you started the diet. You probably wanna estimate what your caloric maintenance is right now after being in the diet for 12 weeks and start there.
But a diet break is basically where we bring our calories up via carbohydrates. The reason we bring them up via carbohydrates is because A, it helps replenish that muscle glycogen that I just spoke of a little bit better. Obviously, fats are not gonna get stored as muscle glycogen and B, they are less likely to store as fat. There’s a lot of science and studies that show, I mean fat is fat, so it’s easier to get stored as fat. It doesn’t mean all fat gets stored as fat, because there’s a lot of hormonal and neurological processes that the body needs fat to fuel. However, if we have an excess amount of calories and it’s depending on whether we store carbs or fat as body fat, your body’s gonna take fat and store that as fat. It just is easier to do so for it. It’s more efficient, it’s a faster process, so it’s gonna do that more likely.
Carbohydrates on the other hand, are more likely to get stored as muscle glycogen because we can use that for performance later on, and the brain’s first and primary fuel source is glucose, that’s carbohydrates. It’s not ketones, like all these ketone supplements might make you believe, that only happens when we completely deplete our system of carbohydrates, aka Glucose. So when the brain has nothing left to take from, for fuel, it will then take fat and make ketones out of there for fuel. But in any other scenario, it’s going to take glucose, which is carbohydrates.
So a diet break is a day. Back to the whole point here. Diet break is a day where we bring up calories via carbohydrates in order to basically have a hormonal insurance and policy is the way I like to look it. It’s kind of like our safety net. We bring our calories up to maintenance, that’s gonna facilitate Ghrelin, Leptin, metabolism, testosterone, thyroid, all these different hormones that do get depleted, and actually start to decline and diminish as we go further and further into a deficit as far as the timeline goes. So the longer we’re in a deficit, the more our hormones start to take a hit. When we take a diet break, which is a minimum of 48 hours, and this has been documented in studies, basically showing at least 48 hours of at maintenance calories, is needed to elicit change within these hormones.
So that one day refeed the reason I said it’s only there for muscle glycogen and psychological benefit or stress relief, is simply because it’s not long enough to elicit changes within our hormonal profile. Therefore, we need at least 48 hours. Now if you’ve been dieting 12 weeks straight, we’re probably gonna take seven full days, because the longer we stay at maintenance, the more likely we are going to replenish all of our muscle glycogen, fuel better recovery, and actually eliminate these stressed out hormones, and let them adapt in a positive way.
So the difference between a refeed and a diet break is simple. A refeed day is one day, and the main benefits are muscle glycogen and psychological benefit. And a diet break is at least 48 hours, two days, but all the way up to 14 days, depending on how long you’ve been in deficit. And the main purpose there is to replenish hormones to fuel performance, to make sure that we’re resetting or readapting our metabolism in a positive way. The way you know what to choose for you personally, is basically on the length of your diet.
If you’re jumping into a diet tomorrow and you’ve been in it for seven days, you don’t need a diet break. You haven’t stressed the body for long enough. For you, you probably just need one refeed day. So if you’re going into this diet phase, the best thing for you to do is to actually just have one refeed day per week as a mental break and as a muscle glycogen replenishment. If you plan on doing this for the long run, and if that’ll help you adhere to it. Some people do better without a refeed day and that’s totally fine because if fat loss is your main goal, we just need to attack a deficit and that’s really all that matters here.
But in the cases that you’ve been dieting for four plus weeks, you might want to integrate a diet break every once in a while. If you’re very focused on muscle presser variants, hormonal balance and strength and performance, you might wanna add in a diet break every fourth or fifth week. So you have three or four weeks of hard dieting and then you have one week of just relaxing and bringing calories up via carbohydrates. And that’s basically how you determine which is better for you between a refeed and a diet break. That’s a big last question guys, this might be two podcasts. I don’t know why I tried to tell you guys I’m gonna do this rapid fire style and get through these quick, because let’s be honest, that never happens, but I love it
So hypertrophy is muscle gain, and the question is simple. How many calories do you need to eat over maintenance in order to elicit true hypertrophy or true muscle gain? Right? So as we know based on the very first question I answered in this entire and nutrition FAQ, we need to create a caloric balance that is positive net. Which means we’re consuming more calories than we are burning and when we do that we gain weight. If we are training for muscle gain, we are training on a high volume, hypertrophy based program, that weight gain is predominantly going to be muscle.
However, if we just uncontrollably eat more than maintenance, we’re going to gain some fat in the process of that, and I might add that if you’re serious about building muscle, then you’re gonna have to gain some fat as well, that’s part of the process, it just happens. In fact, when, and this has been studied and shown in different research, when you add a little bit fat in the process, you’re probably more likely to gain a little bit more muscle faster, than you were if you were trying to go too slow and stay as lean as possible during the process. Don’t get me wrong, in a perfect world and with some genetic freaks, we can stay very lean while we try to gain muscle. None of us want to gain fat intentionally, but if we allow ourselves to gain a little bit of fat in the process of building muscle, we are going to build more muscle faster and that’s the real goal at the end of the time.
It’s easier to cut fat than it is build muscle. So cut fat later on down the road. Keep the goal, the goal, and focus on hypertrophy. Now that being said, how many calories should you increase over maintenance in order to build more muscle and gain more weight? The first and foremost thing that you need to understand is what I just said. You need to find your maintenance first. So the best way to do this is to track your calories for 7 to 14 days. Take the average caloric intake and if your weight has been averaged out and is maintained over the last one to two weeks, take your average calories and that’s your maintenance calories. It’s the most accurate way to do this.
We can use calculators, but sometimes those calculators are inaccurate or based on the most ideal situation. And the reality is a lot of us have stressors in our life that lower our total daily energy expenditure and they lower our metabolic maintenance, our chloric maintenance. Therefore, tracking, taking average of your weight and your calories is probably the most accurate way to actually understand where your maintenance calories are. From here you can add calories and it all depends on if you are a novice, intermediate or an advanced lifter.
If you are a novice, a newbie, somebody who has never trained before and has just started getting into this and you’re looking to gain muscle build size, the best thing for you to do is to actually add quite a bit of calories. Make sure you’re hitting your bodyweight in protein. I would say hit about half your body weight in fats, and then add the rest of calories and you should probably be in a minimum 250 calorie, but all the way up to a 750 calorie surplus. Start slow, track your body weight. Again, we don’t want to purposefully or unintentionally gain body fat because if we do that does a lot of negatives to our hormones, and to our metabolism and to our insulin sensitivity, our P ratio, basically our health and our ability to actually gain muscle.
So if we purposely gain a ton of fat, because we’re in such a hurry to get big, we are going to diminish our potential to gain as much muscle as possible. So we don’t want to do that. What we want to do is start slow. So start with the minimum effective dose and as a newbie, that’s probably about 200 to 250 calories. Add that above maintenance via carbohydrates, and then slowly add as you track. So if you go two weeks and your weight has not jumped up at all, that’s when you would add another 100 calories and you keep doing that until your weight starts climbing up. Usually you will find that sweet spot. It’s not one of those things where you need to add calories after week, after week, after week, in order to keep seeing changes.
Find your maintenance, add 250 calories if you start to gain, let it ride until you literally stop gaining, and then add a 100 calories to that. Keep doing this process over the course of six to eight months because it takes a long time to gain muscle until you completely plateau or you’ve gained a good amount of body fat and it’s time for a mini cut. And at this point we pull calories back for four to six weeks, dive heart into a deficit, not long enough to lose muscle mass, but long enough to create body fat loss and then improve our insulin sensitivity, improve our health, improve our hormones, and improve our P ratio and just like what we see in the mirror a little bit more, and then you get back to that muscle gain phase.
So for a newbie start at 250 but for some people that are genetic freaks or just metabolic machines, sometimes it goes all the way up to 600, 700 calories over maintenance. For an intermediate, we’re going to start even slower, probably around 150 so not much less. But the difference here is the scale is less. So you might start around that 150 to 200 mark, and it’s all dependent on your genetics, your personal traits, your environment, your training, your sleep, your stress, your so on and so forth. And your genetic potential mainly, start it at 150 200 calorie mark and then from there slowly increase calories much slower by adding about 50 calories per week until you start actually gaining, because it’s less likely for you to build as much muscle as rapidly.
And last but not least, advanced lifters, you’re going to gain even less muscle. I’m talking if you gain a half a pound of muscle per month, you are actually doing pretty good. Now you might want to attack one pound, 1.5 pounds per month because you are going against the fat in the process. But still as an advanced lifter, we have to understand that muscle is not going to build as quickly and therefore we have to be patient with this process. So for the advanced lifter, I usually like increasing calories by like 50 do a 100 over maintenance, tracking for two to three weeks. And seeing if we have some very slow but steady progress, and that usually looks like half a pound to a pound. Actually a sorry, one quarter of a pound to a half a pound per week.
Yes, you might only gain a half a pound per month and that’s okay. But as an advanced lifter, you’re probably gonna add 50 to a 100 calories over maintenance, and then you can adjust that as you go. Now there’s multiple ways to do this. Like I said, that’s the slow route and that’s the more accurate route. It will take more time, but there is some merit to adding a little bit more, a little bit faster, and allowing yourself to get a little bit fatter in the process. It’s all up to you and dependent on if you can handle gaining some body fat in the mirror. It really does come down to that.
Yes, there absolutely is. The only time you’ll ever do this is when either A, you’re getting over a certain body weight that does not allow you to perform at your sport at as high of a level as you would like. Or if you literally can’t make weight because you’re getting too big, in those scenarios, you will implement a mini cut. The second scenario is if you were focused on hypertrophy and building muscle, and you’ve been gaining for a good amount of time, at least three months, so at least 12 weeks, because you do need to spend time in a surplus and actually pushing hypertrophy to see results. If you’ve done that for a while and you’ve put on too much fat in the process, or you’ve just put enough fat on to want to pull back for a little bit, spend anywhere between, and literally only two weeks for some people, anywhere between two to six weeks doing a mini cut.
This is where we’re going to create a pretty hefty deficit, between let’s say 20 to 35% of where you were at during your surplus and your gains. So it’s a pretty big deficit. You’re gonna lower training volume, so you’re gonna kinda de load your training focus more on strength, focus more low volume stuff, skill works, so on and so forth. And then you are going to allow yourself to lose some body fat, loosen body weight. Get yourself back to a leaner point where you feel more confident in the mirror, you feel more comfortable in your body. But then also again, like I mentioned in the previous question, you’re also going to increase your P ratio, which is literally your body’s ability to partition nutrients for muscle growth versus fat storage.
You’re gonna improve your insulin sensitivity, which allows you to use carbohydrates better. You’re gonna improve your confidence, your energy, your cardiovascular, health, which is gonna improve your recovery time between sets. You’re just gonna feel better. So I would say every 12 weeks, every 12 to 24 weeks on a mass gaining diet, you’re gonna want to do a mini cut just to improve health and keep herself lean enough to continue gaining good weight in the future, or B, if you’re an athletic trainee and you need to cut weight in order to stay in your weight class or to perform at your best for your sport.
Many reasons. The first reason is because protein is one of the most important nutrients we can consume on our body. We quite literally need it, it’s an essential nutrient so we can’t survive without it. It repairs all the tissues in our body. The other reason is because it costs more to consume and what I mean by that is the thermic effect of food, the TEF is higher. What this means is we actually burn more calories by digesting protein by a long slide, than any other nutrient we consume, more so than fat or carbs.
This means we’re just gonna burn more calories by consuming high protein. This is gonna be advantageous for burning calories for fat loss. Another reason it’s one of the most satiating nutrients. Actually, it is the most satiating nutrient, which means that we’re actually going to feel more full and satisfied by consuming protein on a regular basis. So why wouldn’t we want … on a diet, why wouldn’t we want to have high protein? It keeps us satiated. And one of the biggest keys or one of the biggest reasons people fall off their diet is because they’re constantly having cravings and they’re constantly hungry, which is a normal thing when dieting, but the reality is if we can avoid that, we should.
Another reason, having protein at the minimum if not extra, protein in each day. So let’s say the minimum being like 0.8 grams, having more than that, like one to 1.2 grams per pound, during a caloric deficit has been shown to maintain more muscle mass during fat loss. And if we’re trying to lose fat and we’re going into a deficit so we can lose weight, one of our highest priority is not only for making our physique look good, keeping performance high, but also just to keep health in check, is to make sure that we have enough of muscle tissue on our body.
One of the best ways to do that, keep your protein really high. So there’s a lot of reasons we keep protein high, but it really is one of the most important nutrients when it comes to fat loss. And therefore you’ll never find a diet that works great for fat loss that isn’t high fat. Even the ketogenic diet, if you look at it, there’s plenty of arguments with the ketogenic diet and it would be arguably the only plan that allows you to eat low protein and still lose weight. And there’s a few reasons for that and, I don’t even completely agree with that diet for fat loss, but, that’s besides the point, that’s a different question. The point with this is simple. The most effective fat loss diets all have high protein and it’s for all those reasons I listed.
That’s tough. I would say protein, and it all depends on the type of training. So let’s go through a couple scenarios here. If you are just doing cardio, protein is gonna be the most important nutrient. You really didn’t burn that much glycogen, you didn’t really increase cortisol that much, and, it was just kind of an easy cardio session, especially if it’s LISS cardio, you’re probably just gonna wanna have protein.
Protein is shown to be one of the most important nutrients to have in each meal. And the main thing is less about post workout and more about daily consumption and having protein at each meal. So your muscle protein synthesis response is constantly elevated. That’s the big kicker here that we want to focus on. But I would say protein is more important for most workouts, because most workouts aren’t depleting glycogen for us to really rush to a post workout meal and worry about carbs. However, there’s two scenarios that we want to prioritize carbs or at least include carbs.
I don’t think you should ever leave out protein from your post workout meal and therefore I do think it’s more important than carbs post workout in most scenarios because we are trying to make sure that we recover, and don’t break down muscle tissue in the negative. Now the two situations where this might change. Number one, if your goal is hypertrophy, there’s actually three scenarios. Number one, if your goal is hypertrophy and you want to build as much muscle as possible, we need an insulin spike. We need that surge of insulin. We also need more carbohydrates to store as muscle glycogen to help rebuild tissue and actually perform muscle growth in our body.
Carbs are pretty damn important for muscle growth period. So we might want to have it post workout number one, just to get our total carb intake up. And number two because our insulin sensitivity is higher around training and what this means is that during that post workout window, our body is more likely to take those carbohydrates and store them as muscle glycogen and as new tissues rather than storing them as fat. The second scenario during fat loss, because this post workout window leaves you more insulin sensitive, you’re probably gonna better utilize those carbohydrates. It’s not that you absolutely need them during that time, it’s just that they might be more beneficial during that time compared to right before bed or early in the morning or at a random time of the day.
Around training is gonna be more advantageous because you’re just gonna use those carbs better, so why not have them there at that post workout window? The third scenario, a very high intense athlete or training somebody like a crossfitter, you are doing such high and adrenal fatiguing training, you’re really pushing yourself hard. You’re driving into that sympathetic nervous system so hard that we need to spike insulin because it has an inverse relationship with cortisol. And when we do so we bring cortisol down, it blunts that cortisol response and allows us to distress faster, recover faster, and get into that parasympathetic mode a little bit faster.
So in that scenario, it’s pretty damn important to have carbohydrates because those carbohydrates are gonna lower cortisol and allow us to start recovering just a bit faster. So for the intense individual, it’s less about muscle glycogen and it’s more about cortisol management.
There’s kind of like a hierarchy here. So step number one, is definitely daily intake. That’s the most important thing. You’re gonna get the most bang for your buck out of just focusing on daily intake. And if your daily intake is in check, you’re probably gonna be okay. That’s the most important thing we want to focus on here. But pre-workout nutrition can matter for a few different reasons. Number one, if you are a glycogen depleted or if you are in a deficit, or if you are a very lean carbohydrates, some of them, especially fast acting ones, will start to absorb and give you that insulin response that allows you to train a little bit harder, get a better pump, fuel your muscles with water, sodium, carbohydrates have more muscle glycogen, and you’re just gonna have more energy.
Carbs are quite literally energy. Not all those carbohydrates gonna be absorbed and digested for energy right away, and that’s why daily intake is definitely more important. Oftentimes in most people’s digestive system, it takes longer than a couple hours to digest a meal and utilize it for fuel. However, some of those nutrients may be used for fuel in that session. But for the most of us, the most important thing is daily intake simply because what I eat right now, will not be ready to use in an hour or two. It’s gonna take much longer to go through the bile, the breakdown, the digestion, the absorption, and then the muscle glycogen, so actually glycolysis, like actually taking nutrients and producing glucose and fuel with them. It just takes a little bit longer and therefore pre-workout nutrition probably matters a lot less than daily intake.
The other thing we have to remember here, is that we don’t want a lot of food bogged down or making us feel full, focused on digestion, bringing blood flow into the gut instead of the limbs, et cetera. What we want here is a food, that is light and easy to digest, that’s mainly protein and carbohydrates because those two things are going to supply us with the recovery agents and the fuel agents we need to perform better and recover from what we’re doing at that moment. So all in all pre-workout nutrition does matter, but it comes after daily intake, and use it in that system, meaning hit your daily intake first, that’s level one most important thing, and after you lock your daily intake in, then you can start messing with nutrient timing and focusing on pre-workout nutrition.
What I will say is I do believe that pre-workout nutrition is more important than post-workout nutrition. The reason for this is what you eat before is going to, whether it’s placebo or not, it is going to affect how you train. It is absolutely going to affect how you feel during that training session. And that matters a lot because the better you feel, the better you perform, the heavier weights, the better your results are going to be.
Number two because this process of breaking down protein into amino acids to go into our bloodstream and breaking down carbohydrates by digesting, absorbing, turning them into glycogen and fueling our muscles and replenishing our glycogen stores, those processes do take time, it’s not immediate, and therefore what you eat right before your workout is probably still going to be digesting and being absorbed post-workout. So therefore your pre-workout is kind of your post-workout as well. And because of that, I do think that pre-workout nutrition does matter and is actually more important than post-workout nutrition.
Yes and no. The reason I say yes and no, is because when we’re tracking nutrition and we’re trying to stay dialed in, restaurants are typically the least accurate types of meals that we can consume because we are not in control of the measurements being done. What I mean by that is we can’t really determine if when we go to Chipotle, for example, if we’re actually getting four ounces of chicken, or if we are actually getting one tablespoon of sour cream or guacamole or one fourth cup of cheese.
There’s really no way of telling and it’s very random. My advice to clients is to not remove eating out, just make sure that you’re planning ahead and tracking. At the end of the day, macros are just a great estimate. They’re the best estimate that we can possibly use as a tool, but you should not eliminate all your social outings, all your restaurant eating, all your flexibility just because you’re tracking and that will create less adherence total long-term. We don’t want to do that.
So the best thing to do is keep food eating out, like let that be a thing. Make sure you plan ahead, try to get the best results you can with eating out, and if your weight is not being lost, if you’re not seeing fat loss, if you’re not seeing progress at that point, we can start removing eating out as often because it probably is not because the food is a bad choice, or because calories in versus calories out isn’t an effective strategy, but because what you are tracking in MyFitnessPal, probably isn’t as accurate as what you’re eating out.
Add to that, if you’re not even tracking macros or in MyFitnessPal, you’re really shooting in the dark and you’re not really knowing what’s being consumed. So if you’re eating out and you’re losing weight, good, keep going. If you stop losing weight, before you cut more calories, remove some of the meals out at restaurants, for meals at home so you can be in better control and have more accurate measurements of the food you’re consuming, and at that point you should start seeing weight loss better. It’s technically because you cut calories, but not because you lowered the number of consumption. It’s because you’ve become more accurate with what you are tracking and that led to cutting calories, really getting you back to where you’re supposed to be in the first place.
But for most clients, I still recommend eating out once a week just because I think it’s good to be social, to go out, to be flexible, to learn how to track on the go because that’s a lifelong habit and self awareness tool that you can use and practice with for your nutrition in the long run. And I think it’s really important to still enjoy your diet. So for most people, I do think you should eat out. In an ideal world, you’re probably eating out only once, maybe twice a week. If you’re really serious about your fat loss.
I think that this is overdrawn in many cases. We don’t need to be consuming two gallons a day of water, for example. And it’s all kind of relevant to your body weight. You should be peeing semi clear. You don’t want your wallet, your pee to be completely clear and you don’t want it to be dark yellow. It should be somewhere in between that. It’s supposed to be yellow, but it doesn’t want to be dark and stinky. You also don’t want it to be completely clear. The best way to do this is to measure by P. Everybody’s water intake’s gonna be different.
I could tell you that you should drink half your body weight in fluid ounces, and you should drink about three fourths of your body weight in fluid ounces if you’re active, and that’s a good measurement. However, if your pee is super clear at that point, it’s probably too much water. If you’re drinking that much and your pee is still very dark, it’s probably not enough water. And the reason this changes because everybody has different sweat glands. Everybody has different hormones, everybody has different genetics, everybody has different active lifestyles.
So it really, really depends on all that. It depends on the food you’re eating as well. If you have a higher sodium diet, and a higher carbohydrate diet, you’re probably going to need more water as to oppose to somebody who isn’t consuming as much sodium, isn’t training as much or has a lower carb diet. So the best way to do it is drink one half to three fourths of your body weight in fluid ounces of water per day, and measure by how clear your pee is. If your pee is crystal clear, you’re drinking too much. If it is dark yellow and stinks, you’re drinking too little.
I answered this question a little bit earlier when talking about something. I think diet breaks. Yes it does technically. Now what matters most is calories in versus calories out. So, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t have a high fat diet. You can have a very high fat diet, and you can be very lean. And this has been shown in ketogenic and Atkins style diet. In fact, Atkins worked really well for a lot of people. I like Atkins better than a keto in most senses because it gives you a high protein too.
But the point is, if calories are equated, you’re not going to have an issue. What that means is if you have your calories at maintenance, you can have your fat super high and your carbs super low, you’re not gonna gain any fat. You can flip that and have your carbs super high and you’re fat really low, you’re also not gonna gain fat. You’re at maintenance calories, you’re at a calorie intake that is going to allow you to maintain your weight quite literally. Therefore, the macro ratios don’t really matter.
Where this changes is in some cases, like for example, women who have PCOS may be more insulin resistance. In that situation, they may have more favorable outcomes by consuming higher fat, lower carbs. So if they went maintenance calories, higher carb, lower fat, they might actually gain some fat, because their body doesn’t know how to handle those carbohydrates as well and they probably wouldn’t feel as good. So there are certain scenarios where these macros change even at maintenance. But for the most part, calories in versus calories out is all that matters.
Now, once we go into a hyper caloric diet, so we are actually going to eat more calories than we need to maintain our weight, meaning we are in a caloric surplus. Let’s say we’re trying to gain muscle. You don’t want to do this by adding a bunch of fat in your diet because fat is going to store as body fat easier once you are in a surplus. It doesn’t need much explanation here. It’s pretty obvious fat as fat, it’s easier to do so. It doesn’t need to completely change. When we look at what the body does in order to change carbohydrates into stored body fat, it has to go through a difficult process compared to what it needs to do in order to change lipids that we consume via fat, through food, into body fat on our body. That’s a very easy transition to make, because it’s not much of a transition at all.
When we are in a surplus trying to build muscle, it’s gonna be more advantageous if we have fats moderate to low and we increase our calories over maintenance via carbohydrates because those carbs are gonna more likely be stored as muscle glycogen, which is gonna allow us to perform harder and build more muscle tissue. So in some scenarios fat is easier to store as body fat. And for that reason, and a few other reasons, I actually prefer moderate to high carb diets with a lot of our clients because one, most people love carbs, two, it allows you to maintain performance and muscle mass during a fat loss diet, and three, it’s probably gonna be less likely to store as body fat. So there’s a lot of reasons why carbs are great, and yes, that can store in your body a little bit easier than carbohydrates if you were in a surplus. But we have to highlight that point, if you were in a surplus.
So as I just said, this is very personal preference. If we’re going into a deficit, there’s two things we’re gonna look at here. Number one, what do you prefer, and what does your body prefer too? So if you crave fats all the time and you don’t really like eating carbs ’cause you feel like they make you bloated, you don’t enjoy those types of foods, then you should probably be on a higher fat, lower carb diet. It’s probably gonna work better for you because you can adhere better and that’s what’s most important. Your adherence long term.
If you are on a fat loss diet and your goal is to maintain as much muscle as possible, I’m gonna have you on a higher carb, lower fat diet. This is typically why most bodybuilders and physique athletes follow a high carb, low fat diet. The reason is simple. It allows you to maintain performance and muscle mass, a hell of a lot easier than a high fat diet does on a deficit. And this has been proven anecdotally and in research. And there’s a lot of great strength coaches and nutritionists out there that promote this route for people who want to get lean and stay as muscular as possible.
So in most scenarios I will recommend that, if your goal is to lose as much fat as possible while maintaining as much strength and performance and muscle mass as possible, you’re gonna wanna follow a high carb low to moderate fat diet. If your goal is pure fat loss, you are more sedentary than you are active. Meaning you don’t train super hard or super frequently, and, you possibly have some autoimmune or hormone related issues. You might be in a situation where a higher fat, lower carb diet is advantageous, especially if you are a sedentary individual. You’re just not gonna be using those carbs as fuel. So it makes more sense to give your body fats as fuel during that deficit. And at the end of the day, the deficit is what’s creating that fat loss. So it really depends and it depends a lot on your intensity levels and your training output.
You should be eating as many meals as you personally can adhere to best. The reason I say that is because there has been studies that have shown one meal, two meals, three meals for meals, five meals all the way up to like 17 meals, believe it or not, like a lot of meals, maybe it wasn’t 17, maybe it was 7. 17 is pretty dramatic. I think it was seven meals, but from one to seven and all of the calories were equated, because calories were equated the results didn’t differ person to person.
So what this study showed us, is it actually doesn’t matter how many meals you eat per day, as long as macros and calories are equated and in check. So if we individualize your calories and your macros, I don’t care if you eat three meals for meals, five meals, it doesn’t matter. The caveats here, number one, if you eat six or seven meals a day, it can be very hard to adhere to. You can feel consumed by food. You feel like you’re constantly prepping. And you’re not really getting any advantages because you don’t get more muscle protein synthesis from six meals versus four meals. You don’t have a faster metabolism because it’s all about calories at that point, and you’re not gonna see better results.
So after 30 days, you’re probably so burnt out from this diet that you’re gonna fall off. Therefore, I don’t think six meals is usually the route to take with people. For people who eat two or three meals a day, oftentimes you have more cravings because you have these big meals, or you’re not eating enough calories because it’s hard to get all your calories and two or three meals. So I have found that the sweet spot tends to be four or five meals per day. I also believe that this is more advantageous for strength and performance or muscle gain athletes.
The reason I find this more advantageous for strength and performance based athletes is simply because you’re giving your body more fuel. Like when we give our body fuel, it’s easier to form our energy is higher, and we’re gonna feel more recovered. And also usually when performance or muscle gain is our goal, we need to be at minimum at maintenance, but usually in a surplus so it’s harder to consume all your calories in two or three meals a day. I usually find that the four to five meals per day is really the sweet spot, but again, it all depends on adherence. So if you can hit your calories, you can adhere and you feel better on two meals per day, that’s what you should do. If you’re used to eating six meals a day and that’s what you like and that’s what you feel best on, then that’s what you should do.
I think a ketogenic diet can improve body composition, if you follow it long enough. Typically you’re not gonna start feeling great or seeing significant body composition changes for a while, and this is why they call it the keto flu. For the first two to three weeks, you feel like shit, your body has no glucose, your body is not taking in a lot of different nutrients, and it’s hard for your body to adjust from using glucose as a fuel to ketones, which is produced from fat. And that’s a process in and of itself. So it takes time for your body to start turning fat into ketones, to allow your body to have the right fuel it needs. And because of that it can be hard.
Usually what we see is we see a big drop in weight weeks, like one, and two, because you lose a lot of water weight basically, from not having carbohydrates, then you plateau for a few weeks until your body really starts to shift into ketosis, which can take anywhere between four or sorry, like three, usually like three weeks minimum is what I’ve seen all the way up to three months. I’ve even heard people talk about like sometimes it takes people a long time to truly get into ketosis where they start thriving and feeling great.
So you kind of go through this phase, where you cut a bunch of water, you go through keto flu, and then you finally start seeing results. And like I said, it can happen in three weeks. You finally start feeling good. At that point we can see body composition changes, favorable for fat loss, not muscle gain. It has been documented study, after study, after study, that performance and muscle gain is much harder and very rare with ketogenic diets. They’ve done this in crossfitters, they’ve done this in endurance athletes, they’ve done this in I believe rugby players. They’ve done this in, not necessarily bodybuilders but people purposely trying to build muscles. So not necessarily competitive bodybuilders I should say.
But, they’ve done these ketogenic studies on these people and they’ve even shown in studies that even in a calorie surplus they didn’t gain any muscle while on a ketogenic diet, versus a calorie surplus on a carbohydrate based diet is gonna lead to more favorable performance and muscle hypertrophy. So in my opinion, it’s not the best thing for performance in body composition. It’s very rare to find somebody who thrives and feels better on a ketogenic diet performance wise. I can almost guarantee they’re not gonna build more muscle than somebody who’s on carbohydrates.
The only scenario I can see relevant for people really thriving performance and strength wise on a ketogenic diet, is when they possibly have some food intolerances, some autoimmune related issues or just some gut issues that are not allowing their body to process, digest and absorb carbohydrates properly. When that happens, they’re just not getting what they need to get out of carbs so their body feels way better when they start taking them out in producing ketones instead. But for the most part, for 99% of people, I don’t think a ketogenic diet is best for body composition, especially not performance or building muscle. When it comes to fat loss, you can achieve good fat loss and body composition results. You can get really lean on a ketogenic diet for a couple of reasons.
Number one, if your insulin is resistant, it can allow you to reset your insulin sensitivity, which should be a temporary thing ’cause you should move back to a balanced diet after that. But even if you continue a ketogenic diet, improving that insulin sensitivity can help body composition changes, and then the other scenario that this works is just because you created a chloric deficit. If you go to into a ketogenic diet and you’re in a calorie deficit, you’re gonna see results. So it doesn’t matter if you’re paleo, keto, intermittent fasting, you’re following macros, it’s balanced zone, it’s high carb, doesn’t matter. Calorie deficit is what’s gonna produce body composition changes as far as fat loss goes.
The one difference we see in fat loss results is that it is easier and more likely to maintain performance and muscle tissue, lean muscle tissue, so actual muscle mass, in your body if you consume a diet that is higher in carbs versus a ketogenic diet while in a deficit.
That’s a really good question. So macros are macronutrients. Micros are micronutrients. One reason they are listed after is because one is measured in a larger sense than the other. Macronutrients are just bigger right they’re macro. So they’re measured in grams versus micronutrients are pretty much always measured in milligrams. Now, the main reason for this is because, calories and then macros, those are the two things that are gonna determine most body composition changes.
And whether, we’ve tried to debunk this or not a million times, whether we’ve tried to believe the other way around, whether we really want whole foods and like paleo and these like clean “foods” to be healthy for us and help improve our life more, the reality is, is macros take a bigger role because macros can lead to getting leaner and if you have body fat on your body, I don’t care how clean your eating, you’re gonna have poorer markers of health. So when you go get your blood done and we look at triglycerides, cholesterol, blood sugar levels, hormone panel, all these different things, the reality is, is if you have more fat in your body in less lean muscle tissue, you’re gonna have more poor results on these blood markers and these health markers.
Whereas even if you consume a twinkie every day, which was actually shown in the twinkie study, if you have a twinkie every single day, your calories and macros are equated and you lose body fat and maintain your lean muscle tissue, you’re gonna have better health markers because you have less body fat in your body. So because having body fat on your body, especially in excess amounts is so unhealthy for our hormones, for our health, for our blood levels, all these different things. Because of that, macros come first because they make a bigger effect on your life, and on your health, than micronutrients do.
Now, if you hit your macros every single day, you lose a bunch of way, but you’ve been consuming shitty food with very low micro nutrient density for a long period of time. Eventually you’re going to have nutrient deficiencies and that is going to lead to a whole parameter of health issues. Now you can get away with it for a while, but it will bite you in the ass sooner or later, so it’s not something you wanna ignore. So these two are very close. It’s not like macros tramp micros by a landslide, but the reality is, is it does come before micros because it’s easier to track< it’s more important for total weight loss, and therefore total health. And it’s just again, simpler to look at in the grand scheme of things because it’s a bigger measurement. Micros are a close second though.
Nutritional periodization is the process of planning ahead. If we look at what periodization is, periodization is quite literally just having a plan, and I would add it’s having an intelligent and a structured plan, that is long term. This means that instead of me just saying, “Hey, I’m gonna lose as much weight as I can in 12 weeks,” it means that I know after 12 weeks I’m going to take a two week diet break. Then I’m gonna get back into a fat loss phase because I’m not at my goal yet, but I’m only going to spend another six to nine weeks in that fat loss phase. I’m gonna follow that by four to six weeks of maintenance. Then I’m going to prioritize muscle hypertrophy and I’m actually gonna slowly work into a surplus for 12 weeks.
Follow that by a mini cut, which is gonna allow me to shave off some excess body fat for four to six weeks, so I can improve insulin sensitivity and P ratio to build more muscle in my next 12 week muscle gain phase. After that one, it’s been about eight months. Now I can jump into another fat loss phase that’s long term, so on and so forth. Nutritional periodization is looking at things like that. It’s taking the year and understanding when I’m in fat loss, when I’m in maintenance, when I’m in muscle gain.
It’s also implementing refeeds and diet breaks strategically along the way to facilitate less metabolic adaptation on the downside, the negative and less hormonal adaptation as a whole, testosterone, thyroid, cortisol, so on and so forth. So it’s basically having a very structured, scheduled and well thought out plan for your nutrition for the long term to ensure maximum progress, maximum muscle mass, less fat gain and fat accumulation. So more fat loss and the optimal health measures from a hormonal standpoint for the most part.
There’s no blanket statement here, just like everything in nutrition, but if we had to take all ethical purposes aside, all opinion biases aside, I don’t think it’s arguable that animal protein is better, from a sense of what our body utilizes as tissue recovery. The reality is, is animal protein is more bioavailable, it has higher leucine count, and it has a better amino acid profile and it’s probably going to elicit more tissue recovery, and tissue regrowth compared to plant based protein. Plant based protein just doesn’t have the same amino acid profile.
It’s not gonna be as advantageous for building muscle, and in most scenarios, whether we’re talking about hormones, health markers, fat loss, building muscle strength, we want more muscle tissue in our body. We want something that’s more bioavailable and is going to be more utilized as a protein source. Animal proteins just take the win on that. They take the crown, this has been shown in document, in study time, after time, after time again. So no matter what anybody says, it’s just the reality. Animal protein is probably gonna work better than plant based protein.
The one thing I will say is you can get away with plant based protein. It is not an issue. So if ethically that’s what you choose to do, there’s nothing wrong with that. We work with plenty of clients that choose to be vegetarian, and it absolutely is a route to take or vegan. But, if we have to say what’s the difference and what’s better? Animal protein is gonna be more easily utilized by your body because it is more bioavailable. And the main difference is that animal proteins have a better amino acid profile, meaning they have more leucine in there, which is the dominant precursor for muscle protein synthesis, which is what we want going on in our body every time we eat or train in order to build more muscle.