Thursday, April 26, 2012

Make Healthier Choices When Forced to Eat Fast Food

jojopig.comI was out recently with some friends and we stopped at a fast food joint. I hate fast food joints, but sometimes when everybody else wants to go there, you just have to make the best of it and find something at least somewhat healthy. If you're forced to eat fast-food, here's a tip to make sure that you're not doing much damage to your body...ALWAYS AVOID the soda and anything deep fried including french fries, hash browns, and anything breaded like chicken nuggets, chicken patties, or breaded fish sandwiches. These are all absolutely soaked in deadly trans fats from the industrial hydrogenated vegetable oils they use to fry all of these items. Remember, as I've said before, I've seen studies indicating that as little as 1-2 grams of trans fat per day can have serious degenerative internal effects in your body such as inflammation, clogging and hardening of the arteries, heart disease, various forms of cancer...not to mention packing on the ab flab. That's as little as 1-2 grams! Consider that a typical fast-food meal of a breaded chicken sandwich (or fish sandwich), along with an order of fries can contain as much as 10 grams of trans fat! Add on a cookie or small piece of pie for dessert (which are usually made with deadly margarine or shortening), and now you're up to about 13 grams of trans fat with that entire meal. If 1 gram a day is slowly killing you, imagine what 13 grams is doing! And that was only one meal that you ate. Some people are consuming 20-30 grams of trans fat per day, and not even realizing what they're doing to themselves internally. Please realize that nobody, I mean NOBODY, is looking out for your health, except for YOU. Anyway, back to the topic of how to avoid this stuff and eat a reasonably healthy meal on the rare occasion that you're forced to eat fast-food. As for drinks, avoid the sodas...they're nothing but chemicals along with heavily processed high fructose corn syrup which will surely end up as extra belly blubber. Water is always the best drink, but if you need something with flavor, try unsweetened or lightly sweetened iced tea. At breakfast, the best choices are an egg, ham, and cheese on an english muffin (not on a croissant, which is full of nasty trans!), or one of those fruit & nut salads. At lunch or dinner, the best choices are a grilled chicken sandwich, the chili, a grilled chicken salad without croutons (again...croutons = more trans), or even just a plain cheeseburger. The main take-away point from this little fast-food article is that the nastiest stuff at these fast food joints are the sodas and fries, and any other deep fried items. For any of you that have seen the movie "Super-Size Me", you saw how eating fast food every day absolutely destroyed that guy's health, but did you happen to notice the one guy that was the king of eating big macs (or some kind of burger)? I don't remember what kind of burger it was, but basically this guy has eaten these fast food burgers almost every day of his life for the past 30 years or something like that. Did you notice that he stated that he almost never eats the fries or soda, even though he eats the burgers every day? And he's not necessarily overweight. Now I'm not saying that fast-food burgers made with their refined white bread and low quality beef and cheese are the healthiest thing, but the point's the fries and sodas that are the real health disaster. Alright, so next time you're out at one of these places, remember these tips and choose smart! By the way, if you haven't heard yet, McD's has started adding a nutrition label to all of their food wrappers, so now you can at least be aware what you’re eating. Remember that as little as one gram of trans may cause some internal harm and now you can actually see how many grams of trans fat you're eating right on the food wrapper. That might change your mind about finishing it. Well, I hope you’ve enjoyed this e-book. I tried to give you some of my insider secrets of a fitness junkie for developing a lean, muscular, and truly healthy body for life! Again, feel free to email this e-book to any of your friends, family, or coworkers that you think might enjoy this information. 


Friday, April 13, 2012

Don’t be Afraid of Dietary Fat. Even Some Saturated Fats are Healthy for You

I’ll preface this section by saying that it will help if you have an open mind and accept that some of these facts are a slap in the face to politically correct nutrition in this day and age where fats are admonished by many well intentioned, but mislead health professionals, doctors, the mass media, etc. 

jojopig.comTo start, eating an adequate supply of healthy dietary fats is vitally important to your overall health. Fats are one of the main components in all of the cell membranes throughout your entire body. If you eat enough healthy natural fats, your cellular processes will proceed normally. On the other hand, if you eat manmade, heavily processed, chemically altered fats (damaged fats) that are found in most processed foods, your cellular function will be impaired as these damaged fats become part of your cell membranes, the body will have to work harder to operate correctly, and degenerative diseases can develop. In addition, healthy dietary fats are essential for optimal hormone production and balance within the body and are therefore essential for the muscle building and fat burning processes.  Did you know that eating a diet that is too low in fat will reduce your testosterone levels? You know what the results of that are: less muscle and more fat on your frame. Females, don’t be afraid…your testosterone is not going to go through the roof by eating more fat. It helps to keep everything in balance for both men and women, as long as you eat the right fats (more on the right fats in a minute). Other important functions that dietary fats play in a healthy body are aiding vitamin and mineral utilization, enzyme regulation, energy, etc. 

jojopig.comI cringe every time I hear so called "health experts" recommend restriction of dietary fat, claiming that a low-fat diet is the key to good health, weight loss, and prevention of degenerative diseases. Restriction of any one macronutrient (protein, carbs, or fat) in your diet works against what your body needs and can only lead to problems. All three basic macronutrients serve important functions for a lean, healthy, and disease-free body. As Dr. Mary Enig, Ph.D, and one of the leading fats and lipids researchers in the world notes in several of her books and  articles, there is very little true scientific evidence supporting the assertion that a high fat diet is bad for us. For example, if these so called "health experts" that admonish fat are correct, and a low-fat diet is the solution to good health, then why did traditional Pacific Islanders who typically obtained 2/3 to 3/4 of their total daily calories from fat (mostly from coconut fat), remain virtually free from heart disease, obesity, and other modern degenerative diseases (that is, until Western dietary influences invaded)? Also, why did traditional Eskimo populations, consuming up to 75% of their total caloric intake from fat (mostly from whale blubber, seal fat, organ meats, and cold water fish), display superior health and longevity without heart disease or obesity? Why did members of the Masai tribe in Africa remain free from degenerative diseases and maintain low body fat percentages on diets consisting of large quantities of raw whole milk, blood, and meat? What about the Samburu tribe of Africa, which eats an average of 5 times the quantity of dietary fat (mostly from raw whole milk and meat) as overweight, disease-ridden Americans,yet Samburu members are lean, healthy, and free of degenerative diseases? What about traditional Mediterranean diets, which are known to be very high in fat (sometimes up to 70% fat), and are also well known to be very healthy? 

These examples of high fat diets and the associated excellent health of traditional populations around the world go on and on, yet it seems that many doctors, nutritionists, and government agencies still ignore these facts and continue to promote a diet that restricts fat intake. It’s not that their intentions are bad, it’s just that everyone has been brainwashed by poor science over the years, when in fact, there really is no hard evidence that natural unprocessed fats are bad for us. 

Well, the problem that has led to this misconception is that the good fats (the natural, unprocessed, health promoting fats) have gotten mistakenly lumped together in nutritional advice with the deadly processed fats and oils that make up a large percentage of almost all processed food that is sold at your local grocery store, restaurant, deli, fast food joint, etc. These deadly processed fats are literally everywhere and almost impossible to avoid unless you know what to look for and make smart choices in what you feed your body with.  Take note that I’m not  recommending following a super high fat diet. Active individuals that exercise on a regular basis certainly also need adequate supplies of healthy carbohydrates for energy and muscle glycogen replenishment, as well as good sources of protein for muscle repair. The above examples of the high fat diets of traditional populations and their corresponding excellent health were simply to prove the point that you
don’t need to be afraid of dietary fats as long as you make healthy natural choices and stay within your daily caloric range to maintain or lose weight (depending on your goals). Following is a list of some of the healthiest fatty foods (some will surprise you!) as well as some of the deadliest fatty foods to try to avoid at all costs:

The Healthy Fatty Food Choices:• Coconut fat (and other tropical oils): Coconut fat is approximately 92% saturated fat, yet surprisingly to most people, is considered a very healthy natural fat. The health benefits of coconut fat lie in its composition of approximately 65% medium chain triglycerides (MCTs). Specifically, about 50% of coconut fat is a MCT called lauric acid, which has very potent antimicrobial properties helping to enhance the immune system. Also, MCTs are more easily utilized for immediate energy instead of being stored as body fat.  Coconut oil is also an excellent cooking oil for stir-frying, baking, etc. since saturated fats are much more stable and do not oxidize like polyunsaturated oils when exposed to heat and light, which creates damaging freem radicals. The best sources of healthy coconut fat are organic coconut milk, virgin coconut oil, or fresh coconut. Palm oil (nonhydrogenated) is another healthy tropical oil that is highly saturated. Keep in mind that most mainstream health and fitness professionals have been brainwashed to believe that tropical oils are unhealthy. So you will see other health professionals all over the place writing statements such as “avoid saturated fats at all costs” and similar. Come on now. Think about it. A large portion of our natural food supply on this planet is composed of saturated fats, substances that we humans are meant to eat and thrive on. It is only when we humans take natural food and put it through all kinds of chemical  and physical processing (that it was never meant to undergo naturally), that it becomes unhealthy. If you’re interested in a detailed article regarding why saturated fats can actually be good for you, and how you’ve been brainwashed with decades worth of propaganda against saturated fats.• Extra virgin olive oil:  Olive oil is approximately 71% monounsaturated, 16% saturated, and 13% polyunsaturated. Choose “extra virgin” olive oil, which comes from the first pressing of the olives and has higher quantities of antioxidants. Unlike most other oils on supermarket shelves, extra virgin olive oil is not extracted with the use of harmful industrial solvents and is one of your healthiest choices for liquid oils. Try making your own salad dressing by mixing a small amount of olive oil with vinegar. This is healthier than most store bought salad dressings, which are usually made with highly processed and refined (chemically damaged) soybean oil extracted with industrial solvents.• Dark, bittersweet chocolate (>70% cocoa content):  The cocoa bean is a very concentrated source of antioxidants and responsible for part of the health benefit of dark chocolate. The fat portion of the cocoa bean (cocoa butter) is a healthy natural fat, composed of approximately 59% saturated fat (mostly healthy stearic acid), 38% monounsaturated fat, and 3% polyunsaturated fat. I’ll limit the description of healthy chocolate to ONLY dark bittersweet chocolate with >70% cocoa content. Most milk chocolates are only about 30% cocoa, and even most dark chocolates are only about 50% cocoa, leaving the remainder of those products composed of high amounts of sugar, milk fat, corn sweeteners, etc. Look for a quality dark chocolate that lists its cocoa content between 70%-80%. A dark chocolate with cocoa content in this range will contain mostly cocoa and very little sugar, but still have a mildly sweet taste with a smooth and creamy texture. Keep in mind that although dark chocolate can be a healthy treat, it is still calorie dense, so keeping it to just a square or two is a good idea.• Avocados or guacamole:  The fat in avocados (depending on where they’re grown) is approximately 60% monounsaturated, 25% saturated, and 15% polyunsaturated. Avocados are a very healthy natural food that provides many nutrients, fiber, and healthful fats, while adding a rich flavor to any meal. Try sliced avocado on sandwiches or in salads or use guacamole in wraps, sandwiches, or quesadillas. 

• High fat fish such as wild salmon, sardines, mackerel, herring, trout, etc.: Just about any fish or seafood are good sources of natural omega-3
jojopig.compolyunsaturated fats, but the higher fat fish listed above are the best sources of omega-3’s. Due to the radical switch to a higher proportion of omega-6 polyunsaturated fats like soybean oil, corn oil, safflower oil, etc. in our food supply during the middle of the 20th century, the average western diet is currently way too high in omega-6’s compared to omega-3’s, which wreaks havoc in your body. This is where good omega-3 sources like high fat fish, walnuts, and flax seeds can help bring you back to a better ratio of omega-6/omega-3.• Nuts (any and all - walnuts, almonds, peanuts, cashews, macadamias, etc.): Nuts are great sources of healthy unprocessed fats as well as minerals and other trace nutrients. Macadamias, almonds, and cashews are great sources of monounsaturated fats, while walnuts are a good source of unprocessed polyunsaturated fats (including omega-3’s). Try to avoid nuts that are cooked in oil. Instead, choose raw or dry roasted nuts.• Seeds (sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, sesame seeds, flax seeds, etc.):  All of these seeds are great sources of natural unprocessed healthy fats. In particular, flax seeds have received a lot of attention lately due to their high omega-3 content. However, keep in mind that omega-3 polyunsaturated fats are highly reactive to heat and light, and prone to oxidation and free radical production, so freshly ground flax seed is the only way to go. Instead of using the store bought ground flax seed, you can buy whole flax seed and use one of those miniature coffee grinders to grind your own flax seed. Try grinding fresh flax seed into your yogurt, cereal, or even your salad. If you’re using flax oil, make sure it’s a cold-pressed oil in a light-proof refrigerated container, and use it up within a few weeks to prevent it from 
going rancid. NEVER cook with flax oil!

• The fat in organically raised, free-range animals:  This is one area where  most people have been misinformed by the mass media. Animal fat is inherently good for us, that is, if it came from a healthy animal. Human beings have thrived on animal fats for thousands of years. The problem lies in the fact that most mass produced animal products today do NOT come from healthy animals. They come from animals given loads of antibiotics and fattened up with hormones and fed un-natural feed. The solution is to choose organically raised, free-range meats, eggs, and dairy. At this time, the price is still a little higher, but it is worth it, and as demand grows, the prices will come down.  

The Deadly Fatty Foods:• Hydrogenated oils (source of artificial trans fats):  These are industrially produced chemically altered oils subjected to extremely high pressure and temperature, with added industrial solvents such as hexane for extraction, and have a metal catalyst added to promote the artificial hydrogenation, followed by bleaching and deodorizing agents…..and somehow the FDA still allows this crap to pass as food. These oils aren’t even worthy of your lawnmower, much less your body! They’ve been linked to obesity, heart disease, diabetes, cancer, and more. Even small quantities of as little as 1 to 2 grams of trans fats/day have been shown in studies to be dangerous. For comparison, if you eat a normal order of fries at a fast food joint or any restaurant, you can easily get 5 grams or more of trans fats. Now if as little as 1 gram daily can be dangerous to your health, imagine what you’re doing to yourself with 5 grams…and that was only the fries! What about all of the cookies, cakes, chicken fingers, donuts, and other stuff people eat on a regular basis? Some people are getting more than 20-30 grams of trans fats every day and don’t even realize that they’re slowly killing themselves with this crap. If you care about your health, check the ingredients of everything you buy, and if you see partially hydrogenated oils of any kind, margarine, or shortening, protect yourself and your family by choosing something else.  If I were asked to pick one thing that is most harmful to our health that is used in our food supply, it would be the artificial trans fats by a landslide. They are simply THAT dangerous that they must be avoided. In my opinion, artificial trans fats are right up there with cigarettes in terms of negative health effects. Because of the growing awareness and concern over the negative health effects of trans fats, the FDA mandated that all food manufacturers show the quantity of trans fat on all labels starting back in January 2006. However, they can still claim that their product is “trans fat free” or “no trans fat” if it has 0.5 grams of trans fat or less per serving according to regulations in the US. So all they have to do is reduce the serving size portion small enough so that it has 0.5 grams of trans, and they can claim “no trans fat”. Don’t trust them! You must inspect the ingredients for yourself to know if it’s free of hydrogenated oils, margarine, or shortening.• Refined oils:  Even if the oils are not hydrogenated, most oils on your supermarket shelves are refined, even most of the so called “healthy” canola oils. Most refined oils still undergo the high temperature, high\ pressure, solvent extraction, bleaching, and deodorizing processes. Anything labeled vegetable oil, soybean oil, corn oil, cottonseed oil, safflower oil, and even many canola oils have been damaged by this refining process. This damages the natural structure of the fats, destroys natural antioxidants, creates free radicals, and produces a generally unhealthy product. Take note that the explosion of heart disease in the middle of the 20th century coincides quite nicely with the rapid increase in the use of hydrogenated and refined oils in the food supply at that time, while the consumption of saturated fats has actually decreased between the early 1900’s and present time.  Think about that. I think you’ll begin to see the real culprit for heart disease…hydrogenated and refined oils, not the natural healthy saturated fats that have received an undeserved bad rap.• Anything deep fried: including tortilla chips, potato chips, French fries, donuts, fried chicken, chicken nuggets, etc. It’s all fried in hydrogenated or refined oils…most of the time using cheap oils like cottonseed or soybean  oil. All of this crap doesn’t even pass as real food in my opinion! If you can actually find something that’s deep fried in a non-hydrogenated tropical oil like palm or coconut (which are stable oils under heat), then that might be the only deep fried food that’s acceptable. It’s unlikely you’ll find that these days though.• Homogenized milk fat: Milk fat is a very healthy fat in its natural raw state. Traditional populations around the world thrived in perfect health while consuming huge quantities of raw, non-pasteurized, non-homogenized, full fat dairy products.  Once again, food processing ruins a good thing by pasteurizing and homogenizing milk fat, rendering it potentially dangerous inside the human body. Unfortunately, you will find it almost impossible to find raw milk in the US unless you personally know a farmer for more info on the benefits of raw milk and to find out if it’s available near you. As an alternative, cultured dairy products like yogurt have at least had beneficial microorganisms added back to them making them better for you.  Just watch out for the yogurts that are loaded with refined sugar and high fructose corn syrup. Instead, find one that’s just lightly sweetened with honey or real maple syrup, or just use plain yogurt and add your own fruit to sweeten. Realistically, since you probably won’t find raw milk, sticking to skim milk is probably the best option. Just keep in mind that a large percentage of the population has difficulty digesting (or has allergies to) cow’s milk either due to the lactose for some people, and the proteins for others. If you use butter for cooking, cultured organic butter is the best option. 

Dietary Fat Complete Information Video 


Thursday, April 12, 2012

Healthy Trans Fats vs. Unhealthy Trans Fats

I'm going to talk about something in this section that most of you have probably never heard...that there is a distinction between good trans fats and bad trans fats. There is some evidence that the good trans can help you with fat loss, muscle building, and even cancer prevention, while the bad trans fats have been shown to cause heart disease, cancer, diabetes, and the general blubbering of your body.

I'm sure most of you have heard all of the ruckus in the news over the last few years about just how bad man-made trans fats are for your health. If you've been a reader of my newsletter and my "Truth about Six Pack Abs" e-book program, then you definitely know my opinion that these substances are some of the most evil food additives of all and are found in the vast majority of all processed foods and fast foods on the market today. In my opinion, man-made trans fats are right up there with smoking in terms of their degree of danger to your health. After all, they are one of THE MAIN factors for the explosion of heart disease since approximately the 1950's.

As you may have heard recently, the FDA has mandated that food manufacturers include the grams of trans fat on all nutrition labels starting back at the beginning of 2006. This means that as inventory is replaced in the grocery stores, you should start to see grams of trans listed on all packages from now on, providing you with an easier way to avoid them.

With all of the talk about trans fats in the news these days, I wanted to clarify some things, particularly regarding bad trans fats vs. good trans fats. If you've never heard of good trans fats before, let me explain in a bit.

The Bad Trans Fats

jojopig.comFirst, the bad trans fats I'm referring to are the man-made kind. These are represented by any artificially hydrogenated oils. The main culprits are margarine, shortening, and partially hydrogenated oils that are in most processed foods, junk  foods, and deep fried foods. These hydrogenated oils are highly processed using  harsh chemical solvents like hexane (a component of gasoline), high heat, pressure, have a metal catalyst added, and are then deodorized and bleached. A small % of the solvent is allowed to remain in the finished oil. This has now become more of an industrial oil rather than a food oil, but somehow the FDA still allows the food manufacturers to put this crap in our food at huge quantities, even with the well documented health dangers.

These hydrogenated oils cause inflammation inside of your body, which signals the deposition of cholesterol as a healing agent on artery walls. Hence, hydrogenated oil = inflammation = clogged arteries. You can see why heart disease has exploded since this crap has been loaded into our food supply over the last 5 to 6 decades. As time goes on, and science continues to unveil how deadly these oils really are, I feel that eventually they will be illegal and banned from use. The labeling laws were just the first step. In fact, certain countries around the world have already banned the use of hydrogenated oils in food manufacturing or at least set dates to phase them out for good.

However, keep in mind that as companies are starting to phase out the use of hydrogenated oils in processed foods, they are replacing them, in most instances, with highly refined cheap vegetable oils. These are still heavily processed oils using high heat, solvents, deodorizers, and bleaching agents. Even refined oils are known to produce inflammation in your body...a far cry from natural sources of healthy fats. Once again, for the best results, your best bet is avoiding highly processed foods altogether and choose whole, natural, minimally processed foods. Your body will thank you!

The Good Trans Fats

Ok, after having trash talked the man-made trans fats, let me clearly state that there IS such a thing as healthy natural trans fats. Natural trans fats are created in the stomachs of ruminant animals like cattle, sheep, goats, etc. and make their way into the fat stores of the animals. Therefore, the milk fat and the fat within the meat of these animals can provide natural healthy trans fats. Natural trans fats in your diet have been thought to have some potential benefit to aid in both muscle building and fat loss efforts. However, keep in mind that the quantity of healthy trans fats in the meat and dairy of ruminant animals is greatly reduced by massproduction methods of farming and their grain and soy heavy diets. Meat and dairy from grass-fed, free-range animals always have much higher quantities of these beneficial fats.

One such natural trans fat that you may have heard of is called conjugated linoleic acid (CLA) and has been marketed by many weight loss companies. Keep in mind that these man-made CLA pills you see in the stores may not be the best way to get CLA in your diet. They are artificially made from plant oils, instead of the natural process that happens in ruminant animals. Once again, man-made just doesn't compare to the benefits of natural sources.

Now that all of your labels should be listing grams of trans fat, keep in mind that if a quantity of trans fat is listed on a meat or dairy product, it is most likely the natural good trans fats that we've discussed here. Otherwise, if the quantity of trans is listed on any processed foods, it is most likely the dangerous unhealthy crap from artificially hydrogenated oils, so stay away! I hope you've enjoyed this interesting look at good trans fat vs. bad trans fat and use the info to arm yourself with more healthful food choices for a better body.

Video about FAT in your Diet


Thursday, April 5, 2012

Post-Workout Nutrition - Secrets to a Hard, Lean Body

As you’ve probably heard before, your post-workout meal may very well be your most important meal of the day. The reason is that when you’re finished with an intense workout, you’re entering a catabolic state where your muscle glycogen is depleted and increased cortisol levels are beginning to excessively break down muscle tissue. These conditions (if left to go too long) are not good and the only way to reverse this catabolic state (and promote an anabolic state) is to consume a quickly digestible post-workout meal as soon as you can after training.  The goal is to choose a meal with quickly digestible carbs to replenish muscle glycogen as well as quickly digestible protein to provide the amino acids needed to jump start muscular repair. The surge of carbohydrates and amino acids from this quickly digested meal promotes an insulin spike from the pancreas, which shuttles nutrients into the muscle cells. The post-workout meal should generally contain between 300-500 calories to get the best response.  For example, a 120-lb female may only need a 300-calorie meal, whereas a 200-lb male may need a 500-calorie post-workout meal.  Your post-workout meal should also contain anywhere from a 2:1 ratio of carbs:protein to a 4:1 ratio of carbs : protein. While most of your other daily meals should contain a source of healthy fats, keep the fat content of your post-workout meal to a bare minimum, since fat slows the absorption of the meal, which is the opposite of what you want after a workout. 

jojopig.comWhen choosing what to make for your post-workout meal, the first thing to realize is that you DON’T need any of these expensive post-workout supplement formulations that the magazines (who advertise for them) will tell you that you absolutely NEED! As with any nutritional strategies, natural is always better. A good source of quickly digestible natural carbs such as frozen bananas, pineapples, raisins, honey, or organic maple syrup are perfect to elicit an insulin response that will promote muscle glycogen replenishment and a general anabolic (muscle building) effect.  The best source of quickly digestible protein is a quality non-denatured whey protein isolate, some fat-free or low-fat yogurt, or even some fat free or low fat ricotta cheese. Ricotta is mostly whey protein, so it is fast digesting. Cottage cheese, on the other hand, is mostly casein and is slow digesting and would not be good as a post-workout meal (even though it is great any other time of day).  Here are a couple ideas for delicious post-workout smoothies that will kick start your recovery process:

Chocolate Banana - blend together 1 cup water, ½ cup skim milk, one and a half frozen bananas, 2 tbsp organic maple syrup, and 30 grams chocolate whey protein powder - 38 g prot, 72 g carb, 0.5 g fat, 440 calories.

Pineapple Vanilla - blend together 1 cup water, ½ cup vanilla yogurt, one cup frozen pineapples, 2 tbsp honey (preferably raw), and 30 grams vanilla whey protein powder - 35 g prot, 71 g carb, 0.5 g fat, 425 calories.

When looking to lose body fat, keep in mind that post-workout meals should have the opposite characteristics of all of your other meals throughout each day.  While post-workout meals should have quick high glycemic index carbs, quickly digested proteins, and minimal fat, all of your other meals throughout the day should be comprised of low glycemic index, slowly digested carbs, slow release proteins, and ample healthy fats.  These are powerful strategies towards developing a lean muscular body with a low body fat percentage.  Another great thing about postworkout meals is that you can satisfy even the worst sweet tooth, since this is the one time of the day where you can get away with eating extra sugars without adding to your gut. Instead, it all goes straight to the muscles! Enjoy!


Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Top 15 Non-Traditional, Muscle-Building and Fat Blasting Workouts

If you have been a subscriber to my newsletter for some time, you know that I’m always trying to give you ways to make your workouts more interesting and fun, while also stimulating big-time results. Don’t you agree that your training should be fun? This is what separates the people who jump on and off the “fitness bandwagon” a couple times every year without ever making any real progress from the people that actually adopt a true fitness lifestyle and finally achieve the body they have always wanted. Make it interesting, make it fun, and make your fitness a priority, and you’ll have the body that you want. 

jojopig.comWhat I have noticed over the years is that many people will train regularly for a few months and then will either get bored with the same old weight training and cardio routines, or will get discouraged because their progress comes to a grinding halt after a while. In my opinion, I don’t think your workouts ever need to get boring or stale. You just need to have an open mind to the huge world of various training styles and techniques that are out there. Seriously, there are so many different and fun training styles out there, that there is no reason you should ever get bored with your workouts and give up on that lean ripped body that you’ve been looking for. Also, mixing in various training styles builds stronger joints by reducing repetitive movement pattern overload and varying your training stressors.

Now before I start with some of my favorite non-traditional training styles, I will state that I think one of the best ways to achieve a lean, muscular and healthy body is through a consistent weight training routine with free weights. You can choose to integrate some of these alternative training techniques with your weight training routines on the same day, as alternative workouts on separate days of the week, or even as separate training cycles where you try some of these techniques for several weeks at a time before cycling back to a traditional weight training workout. Try some of these training styles out and you’ll be on your way to never being bored again with your workouts…and your body will thank you with muscles popping out that you never knew existed! 

Alright, here are some of my favorite non-traditional training techniques:

jojopig.com1. Staircase Workouts – This is great because stairs are everywhere. You can go to a football field and do stadium stairs, any building that has stairs like a hotel (most people take the elevator, so you won’t even have many people looking at you while you’re working out), or even the stairs in your own home. For an awesome full body workout, try mixing stairs sprints with an upper body exercise like pushups or pull-ups. If done with a high enough intensity, stairs workouts help to create changes throughout your entire body due to the muscle building and fat burning hormonal response and metabolism increase that you get through working the biggest muscle groups in your entire body. If you thought that going up and down the stairs was the only way to get a good stairs workout…think again. My fellow trainer and friend, Virgil Aponte, has developed a website that focuses on creative stairs workouts using all kinds of exercises you never would have thought of before. I’ll even admit that I learned quite a few new stairs exercises here myself. Check out his stairs exercises site for more creative ideas! 

2. Wind Sprints and Hill Sprints – Find any open field in a park or athletic field and try 50, 75, and 100-yard all-out wind sprints. After each sprint, rest long enough to catch your breath before the next one (generally 1-2 minutes). Try workouts of anywhere from 6 to 20 wind sprints for a great “cutting” workout. Also, if you have a hill nearby, hill sprints are also great workouts. Sprint up the hill as fast as you can and walk down for your rest interval. Repeat until you’re whooped. These sprint workouts are so amazingly effective at changing your entire body for the same reason as stairs exercises…by powerfully working the biggest muscle groups in your entire body, you greatly stimulate your metabolism while simultaneously increasing your fat burning and muscle building hormones. Just look at any world class 100-meter sprinters and notice how ripped-to-shreds those guys are. Now compare that to the emaciated weakling physiques of many marathoners, and you’ll see that sprinting is where the action is at for a healthy, ripped, powerful body! Now I don’t want to upset all of you distance runners out there. Hey, if distance running is something you enjoy, then go right ahead. But don’t say you’re doing it for the health benefits, because Imight just have to disagree. Section 2.1 in this book provided my full opinion on why I believe highly variable intensity exercise (such as sprinting and interval training) is far superior to steady state endurance exercise (such as jogging, endurance cycling, or any same-pace cardio).
3. Kettlebell Training – You’ve probably heard me praise kettlebell training  many times before, but I will have to reiterate that it has been one of the best training methods that I’ve ever tried and has taken my physical capabilities to a whole new level. Kettlebells are an alternative type of freeweight training instead of barbells and dumbbells. Their unique construction and weight distribution (basically a cannonball with a handle) allows for a whole different realm of exercises that’s available compared to dumbbellsand barbells. Kettlebells have been typically used for training hard-core athletes, military units, martial arts competitors, and other tough individuals, but there is no reason that anybody looking to get stronger, bigger, or more cut can’t learn the exercises and benefit from them. It’s been a little over a year now since I’ve incorporated kettlebell training into my routines, and I’ll admit that I’m hooked for life! At between $100-$150 per kettlebell, they are definitely not cheap, but they are well worth the money. Just one or two kettlebells and you’ve literally got yourself an entire home gym that you can use for the rest of your life…worth every penny in my book!  

jojopig.com4. Bodyweight Workouts – Try doing one or two workouts a week at home with  just bodyweight based exercises. These can be great because you can get a high intensity workout done in only 15-30 minutes without having to go to the gym on days that you might not have time for a trip to the gym. Try  alternating bodyweight squats, pushups variations, lunges, and floor abs  exercises continuously for 15-30 minutes. Try to take very short rest periods or none at all to really amp up the intensity since this will be a brief workout. If you’re more advanced, you can even incorporate more challenging exercises like handstand pushups, one-arm pushups, and one-legged squats into your bodyweight training routines. For those of you that want to develop crushing strength through bodyweight exercises alone, a great book that I read a couple years back is called the Naked Warrior by Pavel Tsatsouline.  

5. Ring Training – This type of training basically uses portable gymnastic rings  that you can take anywhere with you. You throw the straps up over any high bar like a pullup bar, the top of a power rack, or even over a football field goal crossbar. Then you can quickly adjust the rings to do exercises like ring dips, ring pushups, ring pull-ups, hanging leg raises, horizontal body rows, L-sits, and more. Dips and pushups on the rings are my favorites and the rings really make them a hell of a lot more difficult, while also incorporating your stabilizer muscles to a much greater degree. The rings allow your joints to move in a more natural pattern and can help you prevent or even recover from shoulder injuries. Personally, when I try dips on a normal dip stand, it hurts my shoulders. However, dips on the training rings feel perfect, and also give me a much better muscle pump. The training rings are one of the best training devices I’ve ever bought. Give them a try…I think you’ll like them if you’re up for a challenge.  Ever notice the impressive upper body development of gymnasts… yep, that’s mostly due to the rings! Visit for more info. 

6. Swimming – A great full body workout that stresses the muscles and joints  in a much different way than most resistance training. Incorporating
jojopig.comswimming workouts once or twice a week into your normal training routings can really enhance your physique. I recommend trying a “sprint” style swimming workout, which will help more for building muscle compared with endurance long distance swimming. For sprint style, swim as hard as you  can to the other side of a 25-meter or 50-meter pool (or sprint swim similar distances in a lake or the ocean if you like to swim outdoors). Rest enough to catch your breath between sprint swims (about 20-40 seconds). Try to keep the rest intervals fairly short with swim sprints. You can also mix different strokes (crawl, breaststroke, sidestroke, backstroke, butterfly) on each swim sprint. I’ve found that sprint swimming gives me a great muscle pump (especially in the upper body), without any soreness the next day as is typical with weight training. This is because swimming has no eccentric movement (the negative portion of a lift), which is what causes muscle soreness. You can get a great sprint swimming workout done in about 30-40 minutes. Keep in mind that even though swimming works your muscles well and is a great alternative workout to mix in once or twice a week, it does not strengthen your bones. You still need to do regular weight training to do that. 

jojopig.com7. Sandbag Training – This form of training is a nice variation to mix in with  your strength training. It works your body with an unstable object, which makes muscles that might normally be neglected get in on the action to perform the movements. I’ve been mixing some sandbag training into my routines for over a year now, and I’ve found it is a very intense method of training that works your muscles in a different way and gets you huffing and puffing like crazy. You can make your own sandbags to train with by filling various sized duffle bags with sand, or you can use those construction type sandbags that come in several shapes. Sandbag exercises can be done as squats, cleans, presses, lunges, shouldering, throws or heaves, carrying up hills, etc. Make no mistake…adding intense sandbag training to your routine will have you ripped in no time! I’ve actually read an entire book recently devoted to sandbag training, which gave me some really good ideas for sandbag based workouts. Check out more info at Sandbag Strength

jojopig.com8. Mountain Biking – As you may have figured out by now, I’m not a proponent  of steady pace endurance exercise, but rather, highly variable intensity exercise that works with bursts of exertion followed by recovery intervals. Well, mountain biking fits this bill perfectly. You get the leg pumping exertion during the uphill climbs, while also getting the adrenaline rush of the downhill acting as your recovery intervals. Mix it all together and you get a super-fun, high-intensity, leg burning workout that will melt fat off of your entire body and build awesome legs at the same time. The climbs can be tough and will challenge you both physically and mentally as you pump away trying to make it up steep hills without having to resort to getting off ofthe bike. Then after you make it up the challenging climbs, you get rewarded with the adrenaline rush of flying down steep hills while jumping off of boulders and logs and trying not to stumble or fall off the bike. It’s such an addicting thrill…I love it! See, who says that working out has to be boring! 

9. Indoor (or outdoor) Rock Climbing – This is yet another fun way to get in a  great workout that will also challenge you both physically and mentally. Indoor rock climbing gyms have starting popping up all over the place in recent years and will be more accessible than outdoor rock climbing to most people. Rock climbing is a great workout for your legs, arms, shoulders, and your entire back. It also really works your grip strength and forearms like crazy. Whenever I go indoor rock climbing (which is only on occasion), my forearms are sore for about 2-3 days afterwards. Give it a try if you’ve never done it…it may be just what you’re looking for to spice up your fitness routine. 

10. Stick Wrestling – This is a killer full body workout and can also be a great competition between you and your friends. This is probably more of a guy thing for most. You could even come up with your own “fight club” and have stick wrestling competitions with your buddies to see who is toughest. There are actually sticks designed specifically for stick wresting, but you can even  just use a strong broomstick cut down to about 30-36 inches long and taped  up with some athletic tape to prevent splinters. For your stick wrestling workout, stand on a soft mat or carpeted area (or grass if outdoors), match up with a friend or foe. You’ll both grab the same stick toward the ends with your hands on the outsides of your partner’s hands, on the inside, or staggered. Then you simply push, pull, jerk, and thrash your opponent around trying to knock them off balance until they either fall or lose their grip of the stick…and you win that round! Be careful not to get the stick up high and knock each other in the face. Use common sense. You can do this in 12 minute rounds or just keep going until someone gives up. Be creative and keep going until you’ve gotten a killer workout. Your forearms and legs will be screaming! 

11. Strongman Training – This type of training is a little more hard-core, but it’s  a blast for those who are into trying something different. The premise is based on the types of exercises competitors perform in the “worlds strongest man” competitions. If you have a yard, you can even set up some of these exercises in your yard and do some outdoor workouts to have a little fun. You can get one of those giant tractor tires and do tire flips (which is basically a deadlift followed by a push-press). You can also try your hand at log lifts, boulder lifts and carries, keg lifts and tosses, sled dragging…anything that involves pulling, pushing, lifting, or heaving any types of odd objects. You don’t need to be a monster to enjoy this type of training…just handle whatever size objects are challenging for your individual strength. Strongman training works your entire body in a very intense fashion and could easily spark some new results. If you’re interested in finding out more ideas for strongman training, check out this site devoted entirely to these underground training techniques

jojopig.com12. Rope Climbing – This goes back to the old high school days of climbing the  rope in gym class. Seriously, if you have access to a rope, either at a gym or somewhere outdoors, rope climbing builds a powerful and ripped upper  body like no other exercise. A great way to incorporate rope climbing into  intense workouts is to do a climb up, then lower yourself back down. Then while your upper body is recovering for the next climb, you can do a lower body exercise like squats or lunges, or go up and down stairs. Keep alternating the upper body rope climbs with the lower body exercises in between and you’ll get one hell of a full body workout. 

13. Bag Boxing – You can use a heavy bag, a speed bag, or even one of those  rebound bags to get a great workout. Among the three, the heavy bag is the best all around full body workout, while the speed bag will test your rhythm and timing and give you a great upper body workout. If available at your gym or if you have a bag at home, try mixing these in as a good warm-up or as an intense finish to your strength routine.
14. Rope Skipping – You can’t beat rope jumping as a great full body exercise. I  like to use it as a warm-up for my weight training workouts. I prefer to use the really cheap “speed” ropes with a plastic rope instead of a fabric rope. Once you get good, you can jump rope much faster with the plastic ropes than the fabric ones, which will allow you to get a more intense workout. Try mixing together two legged jumps, one-legged jumps, arm crossovers, double jumps (rope passes under feet twice for each jump) to keep things interesting and increase the intensity. Also, try alternating 15-20 second high intensity bursts where you jump as fast as you possibly can, followed by 15-20 second recovery intervals where you jump slowly to get ready for your next burst. Keep repeating until you’re whooped. 

15. Jumping exercises – squat jumps, box jumps, lunge jumps, and broad  jumps are some of the best ways to incorporate explosive jumping exercises into your routines. The explosive and powerful nature of jumping exercises works your leg muscles in an entirely different way than most normal slow grinding strength training moves. I’ve even seen a university study cited once that found squat jumps to elicit the greatest testosterone response of 

Well, I hope you’ve enjoyed all of these ideas for ways to really shake up your workouts and make them fun again. I know some of them may seem a little “out there”, but open your mind to the possibilities and you’ll never be bored again…and your body will respond with new found results! Remember, don’t listen to all of the gimmicks and infomercials, etc. that claim that THEIR training style or machine or routine is THE BEST in the world. There is no single “best” method. But there are lots of great methods to try out and see which work best for you and keeps you interested!

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