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carb cycling

Ask Eric Part 1: Improve Strength and Athleticism, Hydration, and Endurance Training

Alas, spring is here. Interestingly enough the last day of winter was 65 degrees and sunny and the first day of spring was 35 and snowy.

How does that work? Either way I’m not complaining, I’m just excited to get my clients outside during training session and bring a “fun” collection of stair sprints, throwing things, and backyard sports into the mix. Training’s always more fun when workouts improve strength and athleticism outdoors.

But back to business—I’ve been conducting short Q-A sessions on Twitter and receiving tons of great questions.

10 minutes for a twitter chat. What #lifting and #fitness questions can I help you with? #fitfamnation

— Eric Bach (@Eric_Bach) March 20, 2014

With this in mind I’m moving forward with a new post answering the best training, nutrition, and lifestyle questions I get each week. So please, jump into the mix and ask anything that comes to mind whether it’s through Facebook, twitter, or through the Bach Performance Contact page.

Ask Eric

Question: Which lifts should I focus on for improving strength and athleticism? –Travis from Utah

Answer: Your best bet for improving strength is and will always the basic, multi-joint exercises. If your form is sufficient the Olympic lifts like snatches and cleans incorporate explosiveness, power, rhyme, and timing for improving strength and athleticism. Squats, deadlifts, lunges are also big money exercises. BUT, if you really want to improve athleticism you need to move your body through space. Change of direction, sprints, throws, and jumps better be a focus. Shocking I know, but your body adapts to the style of training you put it through. If the only focus is building strength your gains will be limited once you attain a good base of strength.

Improve strength and athleticism. Move like an athlete to perform like an athlete. muscle building workouts,strength, athleticism, lean gains, carb cycling, hydration, weight training, six pack abs
Move like an athlete to perform like an athlete

Organize Training like This:

-Dynamic Warm-Up

-Movement (sprint work, sports specific work)

– Jumps or Throws

– Explosive Lift: Cleans 3×3

– Compound Strength Lift: Front Squat 4×5

Question: I’ve increased my training a lot over the last few weeks and have felt dehydrated, how much water should I drink each day?

— Jane from Wisconsin
Answer:Hydration is highly variable based upon intensity of exercise, sweat rate, and body mass. In active individuals I’d advise drinking between .75-1 1oz per 1lb bodyweight each day—over a gallon in most individuals. Yes, other liquids count, but emphasize water.

The human body is made up of as much as 75% water and even even a 1-2% decrease of baseline hydration status impairs performance by:

  • Decrease in blood volume
  • Decrease skin blood flow
  • Decrease heat dissipation
  • Increase core temperature
  • Decreased sweat rate

These affects of dehydration decrease performance through decreased cardiac output and increased fatigue.

Hydration is involved in numerous physiological processes such as that are important for general health and health during exercise:

  • Transportation of chemicals to and from cells
  • Cell hydration
  • Maintenance of body temperature
  • Elimination of toxins
  • Aids in metabolic and digestive processes
  • Moisturizes and protects joints

Tips to stay hydrated:

  • Avoid alcohol and/or keep it at a minimum, especially while physically active
  • Drink 20 oz of water immediately upon waking up
  • Drink 20 oz of water 1 hour before exercise
  • Continuously refuel with water and or/sports drinks if an endurance athlete during physical activity. The carbohydrates and salts will help water transportation into cells.
  • Keep water at your desk or wherever you spend the majority of your day.
  • Eat foods with a high water content such as fruits and vegetables; these go a long way in maintaining hydration!
  • Drink water before you are thirsty, the thirst mechanism doesn’t kick in until a low-moderate stay of dehydration. Stay ahead of the game!

An appropriate hydration strategy will maximize workout performance while reducing health risks and maximizing recovery.

 Lean Gains and Strength Training for Endurance Athletes

Oh yeah. Here are two brand-spankin’ new articles that were published this week. One is how to implement Carb Cycling For Lean Muscle Gains while the other is Strength Training for Endurance Athletes.

Carb Cycling For Lean Gains: Struggling to Build muscle without gaining fat? This is your solution. Click HERE to see how my clients build muscle and athleticism without fat gain.

**This is a two-part series I did with Mike Samuels of Healthy Living, Heavy Lifting. Stay tuned for part-two.

Lights, Camera...Body Manipulation. muscle building workouts. Improve strength and athleticism, lean gains, carb cycling, hydration, weight training, six pack abs
http://www.flickr.com/photos/kenstein/127197325/

Relative Strength Vs. Absolute Strength for Runners: I’m not personally a runner, but many runners are missing the boat when it comes to strength training. Absolute strength is imperative to build relative strength. Prevent injury, run faster, and easier? If you run and train endurance athletes you need to check out this one.  Click HERE to continue.

These articles both tons of shares and likes, so I hope you enjoy them.

Have a great week,

Eric

Muscle Building Chili

It’s Tuesday afternoon, 12:30 pm. You’re staring at the at the greasy sandwich and healthy baked chips from the cafeteria, while half-heartedly clicking through emails to get your inbox to zero.

Cheese oozes through your fingers and drips on your keyboard. You look up to see your co-worker Jeff.  That damn Jeff chuckles as he walks by, as the aroma of another “gourmet lunch” fills your nostrils.

You know how to cook and what to eat, but what’s holding you back? Jeff does it, why aren’t you?

 But Eric, I ‘m too busy to cook. I really don’t have the time! “

Bach Performance Muscle Building Chili

Yea, yea. I’ve heard every excuse in the book from clients trying to build an awesome body. They’re intelligent, hard-working college students, executives, and business owners but still lack time management skills to whip up a few healthy muscle-building meals for the week.

It’s not hard. It just requires some a shopping list, halftime during your teams Football game, and a little effort.

I’m gonna hook you up with one of my favorite recipes that’s an easy fix for healthy lunches. I cook this every so often, package it up in portable containers, and throw it in the fridge.

This way, all I have to do is grab the container on my way out the door after my 15 minute morning. Nuke the microwave safe container at work—So we can avoid BPA causing cancer— and voila: Healthy, quick, muscle-building lunch.

What is it?

Chili. Ridiculously tasty and meaty chili. Loaded with fresh vegetables, spices, and copious amounts of dead animal flesh, this stuff has tons of healthy fiber, muscle-building protein, and health promoting phytochemicals.

The GoodsChili Food Prep

– 1lb 93% Lean Grass Fed Ground Beef

– 1 lb Lean Spicy Chicken Sausage

– ½ lb Carrots

– ½ Onion

-1 Red Bell Pepper

-1 Yellow Bell Pepper

-1 Green Bell Pepper

-3 Jalapeno Peppers

– 1 Green Chili

– 3 serrano peppers

-1 banana pepper

– 1 Can Beans (Pinto, Garbanzo, or Black)- 15 ounces

– 1 Large Jar whole Tomatoes – 28 ounces

– 1 Tbs Minced Garlic

– Extra Virgin Olive Oil (to taste)

– Balsamic Vinaigrette ( to taste)

Seasonings: Cumin, Chili powder, cayenne pepper, salt, pepper, onion salt

Season to taste, I prefer a ginormous tablespoon of each. Or just add a shit-ton of Franks Red Hot, which makes everything taste good. 

Puttin’ It Together

Bach Performance Chili Muscle Building Lunches

Wash, peel, slice and dice yo’ veggies. Heat a giant pot to medium-high heat. Pour some olive oil and add your spices –This helps bring out the full flavor of the spices.

Onions, carrots, jalapeno, green chilis, garlic, bell peppers should be thrown in the pot and crisped for about 10-12 minutes.Meanwhile, open your beans and tomatoes and set aside. Throw in your meat for another 10 minutes.

Decrease the heat to low, adding in beans and tomatoes. Cover, simmer, and stir every 20 minutes or so. Cook for at least an hour.

I find the longer it cooks, the better it tastes. This bodes well for your next week’s lunches as the flavor deepens.

*P.S. This also works well with large groups or as a  healthy alternative to Game Day Pizza. 

 

Muscle Building Considerations

Some people like a base with their chili. Both pasta and rice are common options. If you’re needing the calories and looking to add some more muscle stick with rice, or a whole grain pasta noodle.  If you’re looking to get shredded, skip the base and eat the chili as is. There’s more than enough fiber and protein to keep you full. Luckily, chili works perfectly into your carb cycling routine as a muscle-building lunch.

 

Win Eric’s Favorite- Cookbook

Becoming a good cook – I hope I’m not ahead of myself– Is a great skill to have. Not only is it a huge part in making heathy and nutritious meals, it’s fun and a great way to spend time awesome people. Plus, it impresses girls… and their parents. Double score.

Post Inspired by Nate Green’s $17 Buys you Lunch for Days

Busy Man’s Carb Cycling: The Uber Convenient Way to Shred Fat and Build Muscle.

pizza

Carb cycling may be the best way to maximize the muscle building benefits of carbs while maximizing insulin sensitivity and minimizing fat gain.


The Problem?

A strict dietary regimen of counting calories, managing multiple menus, and analyzing every diet decision down to the gram isn’t practical for most people. Save for the elite physique or bodybuilding competitor, harping over every dietary decision is a first class ticket to frustration and overwhelm, not a better-looking body. 


It doesn’t have to be so complicated and in this article, I’m going to clear the air on how to simplify carb cycling so you can reap the same physique changing benefits without the frustration. 


And while you’re burning fat, here’s a free workout to maximize fat loss and retain lean muscle so you look, feel, and perform your best  Thanks for being here.

Hook me up with the Free Fat Loss Program, Eric!

-Eric


Building muscle while losing fat to unveil a lean, ripped body.

That’s what we’re all after, right? Recomposition, the process of losing fat while building muscle is the single biggest goal of most gym goers. The problem is, most folks tend to either build muscle easily but can’t lose stubborn belly fat. The others?
They have the metabolism of a hummingbird on meth and despite their efforts, can’t build a lick of muscle. 

Fortunately, carb cycling has been used for physique enthusiasts, athletes, and bodybuilders for decades and is one of the most effective ways to keep you lean and muscular. 

So…What is Carb Cycling? 

Carb cycling is the planned manipulation of carbohydrate consumption to maximize workout performance, build lean muscle, and minimize fat gain. It’s an advanced strategy that can do wonders for preventing fat loss plateaus and maximizing insulin sensitivity.   

But carb cycling isn’t all sunshine and rainbows. For most people, carb cycling is downright overwhelming and a first class ticket to saying “fuck it” to yet another diet. If you’re preparing all of your own meals, building separate menus of high/low carb days, and calculating nutritional requirements, carb cycling is extremely time-consuming. 

And if you have business dinners, have multiple people to cook for, and feel overwhelmed by the amount of “perfect” diets plastered all over the internet then another cumbersome diet plan then carb cycling is the last thing you need.

Fortunately, I have your back. You too can implement carb cycling to lose stubborn fat, build muscle, and transform your body without measuring and tracking calories.

I’ve refined and tweaked this process with hundreds of my clients to help them boost performance and look better naked.  It worked for them and can work for you, too. 

 Picture This: It’s early fall and Saturday around noon. College football season has arrived. You’re at your local alumni sports bar with your buddies. Everyone’s ordering, microbrews, nachos, chicken wings, and fries..food galore, a gluttonous paradise.

Carb Cycling

 

The waitress makes her way to you, what do you do?

The decision shouldn’t be whether you can crush a few nachos and beer with your friends, it should be “ did I earn my carbs today?”

Luckily, you crushed front squats and your quads are smoked. You order the double bacon bison burger, fries, a side salad, and a Hercules Double IPA. Now, this isn’t an everyday occurrence, but you’ve earned the right to splurge. That’s one of the beauties of carb cycling–the freedom to enjoy some of your delicious, higher carb, and sometimes less healthy options with less damage to your diet.

The key to this high effective strategy? Insulin.

Insulin and Carb Cycling

Insulin is an extremely anabolic hormone that can help you lose fat and build muscle if manipulated correctly. Too little and you’re doomed to flat muscles, poor recovery, and pre-shrinking your affliction t-shirts to look jacked. Too much and you’ll resemble the Michelin Man and suffer from myriad health problems.
 
Insulin is a hormone made in your pancreas that plays a major role in metabolism and regulates nutrient entry into your cells. When insulin is seldom elevated (like long-term low carb diets) you won’t gain much muscle. Conversely, a higher carb intake when your body is more sensitive to insulin such as the hours after a workout triggers rapid tissue repair, protein synthesis, and muscle growth.
On the flip side when your body is not sensitive to carbs, such as non-training days and being excessively overweight, spending your afternoons at the pasta buffet will lead to carbs behind stored as body fat. As you can see insulin is a double edged sword. Through proper timing and fluctuations, carb cycling empowers you to control insulin and strip off body fat and build lean muscle faster. 

Carb Cycling Made Easy

Carb cycling is as easy as it sounds. Cycle carbohydrates on weight training days (high carb) and non-workout/cardio days (low carb). Rather than giving you a plethora of calculations and impractical menus we’ll simplify the process. 

Lifting heavy and with high training volume? It’s a high carb day. 

Due to the repeated muscle contractions during resistance training, your body will have an increased insulin sensitivity. With this increased response to carbs your body will drive nutrients into your muscle cells, aiding them in repair, growing them, and providing you with more energy. 

On lifting days you’ll be consuming fruits and starches (potatoes, sweet potatoes, rice, and oats) as your carbohydrate sources. If you’re trying to build muscle like the Minimalist Muscle course or have long, grueling workouts then have starches during all meals and during your workouts.
If you gain fat easily or have shorter, less intense workouts like a 30-minute bicep blaster, use moderate starches. This would mean carbs during your workout and with your first meal post-workout.

Taking a day off or hitting a low volume workout? Keep the carbs low.

On non-lifting days keep carbohydrates low because there isn’t the same increase in insulin sensitivity. Carbs consumed when your body is less sensitive may lead to additional fat gain. Let’s minimize that, shall we? By minimizing carbs a few days per week your body becomes more receptive to insulin. This means on the days you do consume carbs, your body becomes hypersensitive and  shuttles carbs towards building muscle rather than being stored as fat.  

If you hit a light workout or interval session get your carbs from fruits or veggies throughout the day. It’s fine to keep carbs during your workout or in the meal after, but keep them lower overall. 

Lifting? Carb up and support your muscle-building workouts. More volume in the gym means more carbs. 

Intervals or taking the day off? Avoid most starchy carbs, improve insulin sensitivity, and burn more body fat.  

 

Sample Workout Schedule and Carb Intake

Monday: Lower Body Training (high volume) /High Carb

Tuesday: Upper Body Focus (low volume) /Moderate Carb

Wednesday: Off Or Sprint Work

Thursday: Upper Body Focus(high volume) /High Carb

Friday: Lower Body Focus/High Carb

Saturday: Upper Body Focus/High Carb

Sunday: Off Or Sprint Work

Low Carb Day

Breakfast: 4 egg scramble, 1/2 tomato, 1/4 avocado

Snack (Optional): Handful nuts and carrots

Lunch: Mediterranean salad w/cucumber, tomato, feta cheese, chicken, feta cheese w/balsamic vinaigrette dressing

Workout: One banana with protein shake

Dinner: Sirloin steak, broccoli, and a small salad. Optional: One sweet potato

High Carb Day

Breakfast: 3 egg scramble with spinach, 1 cup oatmeal with blueberries

Snack (Optional): Shake with 1 scoop vanilla protein, 1 cup berries, 1/2 cup cottage cheese

Lunch: Sandwich loaded with lean meat and veggies

Dinner: Sweet potato, barbecue rubbed chicken thighs and cauliflower

Snack (Optional): Shake with 1 scoop chocolate protein, 1 orange, 1 cup spinach, 1/2 cup cottage cheese

 

Common Issues and Questions

Do Calories Still Matter if I go Low Carb? 
Yes. The idea that dropping carbs will miraculously drop body fat is false…unless you’re burning more calories than you’re eating. Now, carb cycling can improve insulin sensitivity and over time lead to better fat loss, but if you’re eating more calories than your body burns you’ll still add fat. Sorry, butter in your coffee can still make you fat. 

How Low is Low Carb?

This depends on your size and body part percentage. With some clients, I’ll shoot for under 100 grams of carbs on low carb days for fat loss. A simple trick is to replace the grains/starches you eat with leafy, fibrous greens.

I’m not looking to build muscle, only lose fat. Is Carb Cycling still for me?

Yes! Carb cycling is great for a fat loss diet. When you’re consistently low on calories and carbohydrates you may see reductions in metabolic rate, thyroid hormones, sympathetic nervous system activity, energy levels, and sex hormones such as testosterone and estrogen (Berardi and Andrews 368).

This leads to a plateau that stops your fat loss in its tracks, yikes!

When you cycle carbohydrates and calories back into your diet you raise leptin levels a powerful fat burning hormone that down-regulates when calories are low. Essentially, you trick your body into burning more fat by keeping it out of starvation mode.

Can I pig out on High Carb Days? You did use examples of fries, beer, and wings….

Although carb cycling does afford my flexibility in your food choices this isn’t a pass to go eat pizza, burgers and fill the gaps in with crappy protein powder.  You can indulge occasionally but stick to mostly high-quality foods and supplements like Grass-fed whey and a greens powder (here’s mine) if you hate veggies. As tasty as it is, the combination of high fat, high carb, high alcohol containing meals is a perfect recipe for gaining weight. Sorry IIFYM folks, junk food is still junk food and will come back around to harm your body in the future. 

That’s a Wrap

Carb cycling works–that’s been shown by coaches a long time ago.  For starters, you’ll improve insulin sensitivity and strategically maximize the power of insulin around your workouts to build muscle. Psychologically, my friend and fellow coach Ben Johnson points out carb cycling helps you pay more attention to what foods you’re putting into your body, leading to better food choices. In both cases, approaching your diet with awareness and timing carbs around your workouts is a no-brainer for losing fat, building muscle, and improving performance in the gym.

It doesn’t need to be complicated, just focus on eating healthy food options and staying true to your carb cycling schedule to reap the rewards of proper nutrient timing.

P.S. Looking to drop 8-10 pounds in the next month? That’s exactly what people have been doing in our 30-Day Fat Loss Contest. Apply today, spaces are limited. 

 

Citations:

Berardi, Jon, and Ryan Andrews. The Essentials of Sport and Exercise Nutrition. Second. Precision Nutrition Inc., 2012. 368. Print.

United States Department of Health and Human Services. “Insulin Resistance and Prediabetes.” Bethesda, MD: , 2013. Web. 

 

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