Cardio & Weights - Mutual Exclusives or Synergists? Two New Studies Suggest: Cardio "Before" and After Workouts Offers More Benefits Than Downsides for Strength & Mass

Could "cardio" really be more than just a necessary evil on your way to a physique like this?
Yesterday testosterone booster (see "Capsaicin or 28-OB...") and today already the next "bro favorite": The never ending debate about "cardio and weights" (or should I rather write "cardio vs. weights"). If you are no newcomer to the SuppVersity you will be aware that this is not the first time, we are tackling this issue (e.g. "Cardio Before or After Weights?" or "Before, After or In-Between"). While most of the previous posts did however deal with the question of "How do I do the least damage to my resistance training, if I want to do cardio, as well". The two studies, I have in stock for you, today, would suggest that this question in and out of itself is quite nonsensical and that the "correct", or at least way more productive question must be: "How can I use cardio to promote my strength and mass gains?"

Curious? All right, let's take a look at what Tufano, Lundberg and their respective coworkers have in stock for you (Tufano. 2012; Lundberg. 2012)
  • The Tufano study confirms that doing cardio after an intense leg workout facilitates recovery- A question yet remains: What are the long term consequences? At least as long as you stick to doing just 20 minutes of cardio at 70% of your maximal heart rate, some cycling after a an eccentric leg workout (6 sets of 10 reps of eccentric leg extensions, specifically designed to induce maximal DOMS).

    Figure 1: Isometric strength after eccentric leg extensions in no, low and mean intensity cycling group expressed relative to pre values (Tufano. 2012).
    In the most recent study from the Department of Kinesiology at the Center for Sport Performance of the California State University the 10 women in the medium intensity cycling arm, who had cycled for 20 minutes at 70% of their individual heart rate recovered faster the muscle damaging workout than the women who went home without a "heavy cool down". What's actually even more astonishingly, though is that they also recovered faster than a third group of women who performed the 20min workout at only 30% of their VO2max.

    While there were no differences in pain scale or dynamic strength during the 4-day recovery phase, the isometric strength of the women in the 20min @ 70%VO2max arm of the study showed significant super-compensation effects on day 3 and day 4, so that Tufano et al. conclude:
    "Enhanced blood perfusion during moderate-intensity aerobic recovery, in conjunction with a short-term training effect, may enhance isometric strength after DOMS. Therefore, moderate intensity aerobic activity is suggested as a recovery method after multiple eccentric muscular actions." (my emphasis in Tufano. 2012)
    That certainly sounds as if another bro-scientific myth was tumbling and about to fall. Still, Tufano et al. are also right to point in the discussion of their results, that we need further research into the chronic effects of moderate-intensity aerobic 'recovery exercise' after resistance training - I mean, who guarantees that doing this after every workout week after week, month after month won't eventally turn against you?
What? You are not interested in recovery, anyway? All you want is grow and you doubt that the small increase is indicative of earlier supercompensation and that strength and grows would be two different pairs of shoes, anyway? Well, in that case here is another pro-cardio study:
  • The first important question this study answers is: How do you cycle with just one leg. You see the answer in the small inset of the image above.
    Aerobic before resistance training leads to minor increase in mTOR response and does not seem to hinder muscle gains! This one certainly flies in the face of what you may have been told by credible and less credible experts for your whole life. I mean, if anything, cardio was supposed to keep the gains lean. While the consensus is that it will diminish your gains -- right? Well, according to the latest study from the Mid Sweden University and the venerable Karolinska Institute and University Hospital in Stockholm this could turn out to be just another counterproductive bro-scientific myth: Skipping cardio altogether is not simply bad for your overall health an conditioning, as it would seem, it could even be beneficial for your gains, as well.

    To probe the effects of aerobic training on a whole host of hypetrophy and performance related factors, Tommy R. Lundberg and his colleagues recruited 9 physically active men (23+/-1 yr, 18+/-6 cm, and 75+/-6 kg) who "had been involved in recreational aerobic exercise two to three times per
    week and/or habitual RE one to two times per week for more than a year" (Lundberg. 2012) and had them perform a 45-min one-legged cycle ergometry exercise
    "The target load was 70% of the Wmax (cadence = 60 rpm). After 40 min, workload was in-creased by +20 W, and subjects were requested to continue until failure to maintain the prescribed cranking cadence, which typically occurred within 1–4 min (2 min 43 s)" (Lundberg. 2012)
    that was followed by 14 maximal concentric–eccentric knee extensions for each leg 6 h later (2 sets, 7 reps, 90s rest; starting with the AE+RE leg).
    "Thus, one limb was subjected to aerobic and resistance exercise (AE+RE), and the contralateral limb to resistance exercise (RE) only." (Lundberg. 2012)
    Before, as well as 15 and 180min minutes after the subjects underwent this training sessen, biopsies were taken and the glycogen content, the mRNA levels of vascular endothelial growth factor (EGF), peroxisome proliferator–activated receptor--gamma-coactivator-1 (PPAR-gamma), muscle RING-finger protein-1, atrogin-1 and myostatin, as well as the phosphorylated proteins mammalian target of rapamycin (mTOR), p70S6 kinase, ribosomal protein S6 and eukaryotic elongation factor were  measured. To ensure that no dietary factors would interfere with the results meals had been fully standardized on the day of the testing:
    "A standardized meal (pasta, tomato sauce, and juice) consisting of 2.21 g CHO/kg body weight, 22 g protein/kg bw, and 0.04 g fat/kg bw was provided at 8:00 p.m. the night before the experimental day. Subjects also had a standardized breakfast (1.01 g CHO/kg bw, 0.31 g protein / kg bw, and 0.24 g fat / kg bw) 1 h before the aerobic exercise session and lunch (2.02 g CHO/kg bw, 0.62 g protein/kg bw, and 0.49 g fat /kg bw) consumed 3 h before RE. These meals consisted of commercial energy drinks (Ensure Plus; Abbott Laboratories BV, Zwolle, The Netherlands). Water was allowed ad libitum at any time during the intervention." (Lundberg. 2012)
    As nice as it is to see a tightly controlled study, investigating a relevant topic and with trained healthy participant like this, I am really not a fan of these 'compare the left to the right leg' studies. And still, the fact that I am happy about any study into the whereabouts of different training modalities is neverthelsess not the only reason I am not going to beat a dead horse here.
    Figure 2: Unilateral peak concentric (CON) and eccentric (ECC) power (W) in knee extension and leg press during the experimental bout; data expressed relative to group baseline (Lundberg. 2012)
    The other and probably more relevant reason is that the data you see in figure 2 as surprising at it may seem  -- I mean who would have thought that the resistance training (RT) only leg would see a greater decline in force production during the experimental bout compared to baseline -- does not look like it had been skewed into this surprising direction by carry-over effect from one leg to the other or systemic factors such as central nervous system fatigue or the depletion of liver glycogen levels.

    In particular, we don't see anything of the expected drop in resistance training performance in the AE + RE leg due to the previous cardio workout. Even if it was only small, maybe statistically non-significant, common wisdom would dictate that it should be present! What we are seeing instead, however is a beneficial instead of a detrimental pre-conditioned effect in the 'cardio leg', of which you can hardly argue that it speaks in favor of the hypothesis that doing cardio must necessarily hamper your gains, if you allow enough time and food in between the morning and the evening workouts.

    It certainly looks as if the myth of the strength busting effects of any aerobic activity was about to fall and the corresponding protein expressions, the scientists measured before, 15min and 180min after the trial onyl support this notion.

    The image that emerges, when you take a closer look at the data in figure 3 is actually quite clear. At "pre" already, i.e. immediately before the resistance training part begins, the 'cardio leg' has and edge over the previously rested leg it won't lose in the course of subsequent hours. After all, despite the fact that at T = 180min some of the values have returned to baseline and/or the levels in the resistance training only leg have caught up, there is never a significant advantage of the resistance training only, over the aerobic + resistance training leg in the whole 3h period (respectively at the three intervals at which the biopsies were conducted).
    Figure 3: Selected markers of mitochondrial biogenesis and protein synthesis before during and 15, respectively 180min after the resistance training bout in the AE + RE and the RE only leg (a.u.; data adapted from Lundberg. 2012)
    Personally, I would still not consider these observations conclusive evidence of the superiority of aerobic + strength training in terms of its potential as a muscle builder (that it is a mitochondrial builder stands out of question). What is however undebatable (at least in this particular case), is that doing aerobics earlier in the day and lifting weight later in the day will not have a negative impact on either the performance or the measured markers of the exercise induced growth stimulus the resistance training session will have. It is rather, as the scientists point out that ...
    "[...] concurrent exercise elicited greater mTOR and p70S6K phosphorylation compared with RE. Although these differences were modest, if anything, they indicate that translational capacity was reinforced rather than compromisedby the AE + RE intervention. In parallel, myostatin was suppressed for longer time in AE + RE, with no obvious sign of exacerbated protein degradation. Thus, in contrast to the posted hypothesis, it seems that concurrent AE + RE may enhance skeletal muscle anabolic environment." (my emphasis in Lundberg. 2012)
    I guess, there is actually little to add to that, despite the important warning that you must keep an eye on your overall training volume, in case you want to follow this approach. In the end this means that you are switching to a two-times-a-day regimen, which can take its toll not just on the ability of your muscles to adapt and recover, but more importantly on the ability of your central nervous system to cope with this additional stressor. 
      Can I do HIIT instead? For the first study, the answer probably is no. It makes no sense to use HIIT training as a regenerative means after a workout. For the second study I would guess the answer is yes. After all, the aerobic morning workout was pretty strenuous and glycogen depleting, so I don't see any reason why a brief HIIT training in the 10-20min range would not yield the same if not even better priming effects (cf. "The Anabolic Effects of HIIT" )
      Bottom line: I would not say that any of these studies gives you, who are hopefully interested to build muscle and maintain optimal health a free ticket to do as much cardio, whenever you want. What this compilation does yet do, is debunk the myth that you have to become a sedentary slob and discard the cardiovascular and obvious fat loss benefits the implementation of moderate amounts of aerobic training into your regimen will yield just because aerobics will necessarily comprimise your gains, let alone burn away your muscles.

      Timed appropriately and used in moderate, instead of excessive amounts, some 'cardio' could in fact offer an overlooked means to provide a greater growth stimulus and promote faster recovery - and that next to all the health- and conditioning related benefits, I guess even the hardcore-bros won't doubt.

      • Lundberg TR, Fernandez-Gonzalo R, Gustafsson T, Tesch PA. Aerobic exercise alters skeletal muscle molecular responses to resistance exercise. Med Sci Sports Exerc. 2012 Sep;44(9):1680-8.
      • Tufano JJ, Brown LE, Coburn JW, Tsang KK, Cazas VL, Laporta JW. Effect of aerobic recovery intensity on delayed-onset muscle soreness and strength. J Strength Cond Res. 2012 Oct;26(10):2777-82.

      Happy Halloween!

      {images 1 ,2,3,4 all from We Heart It}

      We hope your Halloween is delightfully spooky!
      -Rococo and Caffeine

      Sad Movies Make Me Cry

      Denim vest by Marie Ann clothing, Gaudi shirt, patterned skirt from HK, Cotton On suede boots

      Found a vinyl of Lennon Sisters' version of Sad Movies Make Me Cry. Can't you believe it's just another lovely old song I love, which has cheery tunes & sad lyrics on it? I guess those are typical songs in 50-60s. :D If you're curious, I found a video footage of their live performance in 1961, hail Youtube! :))

      Unbranded sheer tights I bought in HK, did you notice the awesome Alice in Wonderland prints? I'm in love.

      So overwhelmed with surprises that keep coming everyday. Remember when I decided to write my most impossible resolutions on my blog? It's starting to come true! I'm so grateful to have my family, loving & caring boyfriend, and awesome parents who are always supporting my dreams, and most of all my God has always been so kind to me. :)

      Hurricane Sandy Fake Webcam - A Social Engineering Experiment

      Yesterday I decided to perform a bit of a social engineering experiment on USTREAM.

      I provided "live" coverage of Hurricane Sandy from space.

      Of course by live coverage...I actually mean I took a photo which was published by NASA, added static, a nonsense "cam" label, and a timestamp, and streamed the image to USTREAM. I only posted a couple links in my Twitter feed, and watched with amusement as others began to watch the channel, believing they really were seeing a live cam feed of Hurricane Sandy from space.

      The most interesting part of all this is that for hours people stared at an image which never actually changed...except for a small period of time when I added in a photoshopped UFO just for laughs.

      As you can see from this chart, the cam never took off in popularity, but according to USTREAM a total of 78 unique viewers watched my fake Sandy cam on 10/29...and not a single comment was posted accusing the cam of being fake.

      So what lessons can we take away from this?

      For one, it shows that social engineering is still an effective trick. Provide the user what they want want to see, and they'll believe it's real. This is the same principle behind advance fee frauds and online "lottery" scams, just in a non-malicious way.

      I encourage readers to post their own thoughts on this experiment.

      Capsaicin or Plant Oxysterol 28-Homobrassinolide (28-HB) - Two Candidates for a Natty Test Booster that Works?

      In am not sure if people got afraid that I rip their papers apart by pointing with a figure at the non-existent real-world significance of their revolutionary findings about the testosterone boosting effects of herb X from the deepest jungle in Y. What I do know however, is that for whatever reason studies like these have become rare as of late. I have still been able to pick up two of them, to do what Carl usually calls the SuppVersity Sniff Test on Capsaicin *achoo!* ... sorry! And the oxysterol 28-Homobrassinolide, which is present in miniscule amounts in Chinese cabbage, for example.

      Capsaicin: The hotter, the better?

      The first of the two studies we are going to tackle, today, comes right from the Department of Histology & Embryology at the Faculty of Veterinary Medicine of the University of Uludag in Turkey... and yes, the fact that it comes from the "Department of Histology & Embryology at the Faculty  of Veterinary Medicine" is in fact a first indicator that some of the initially mentioned "sniffing" and an appropriate amount of healthy skepticism are probably indicated. But let's not make any hasty judgments; after all, this study is not about herb X from the deepest jungle in Y, but a simple investigation into the effects of capsaicin on the morphology of rodent testes.

      While capsaicin seems to be better used topical as a fat burner, here is a serious warning: Don't rub any capsaicin based fat burner onto your scrotum  in the false hope to turn it into a test booster ;-)
      As a SuppVersity student you will be aware that capsaicin, the "hot stuff" in hot peppers, is quite a remarkable substance (e.g. "Capsaicin Cream for Topical Fat loss?").

      Aside from topical (and at least in rodents) systemic effects on fat loss and the metabolic syndrome, there have also been several reports linking capsaicin to improvements in testicular morphology in diabetic and otherwise sick animals. Others report direct stimulative effects of capsaicin on testicular development and modulatory effects on the local and systemic expression of ghrelin, which has been shown to exert inhibitory effects of testosterone secretion in the testes (Tena-Sempere. 2005).

      The latter, i.e. the connection between capsaicin, ghrelin and testicular morphology, development and function was obviously what Ilhan and Erdost must have had in mind, when they devised an experiment in the course of which they treated adolescent and adult mice with capsaicin (CAP) hoping to observe a change in the local expression ghrelin and subsequent changes in gonadal testosterone production.
      "The animals were divided into two age groups: puberty and adult. Control groups for both age groups were fed with standard diet and experimental groups were fed with a diet containing 0.02% CAP. Testes were collected quickly after sacrifice. After dehydration, the specimens were embedded in paraffin and 5 μm sections were cut, and Crossman's triple staining and immunohistochemical staining for ghrelin were applied." (Ilhan. 2012)
      The immunohistochemical stains of the testicular tissue the scientists conducted revealed that ghrelin was present in the testosterone producing Leydig and Sertoli cells of all animals. It was yet not expressed in any of the spermatogenic cells of either the adolescent or adult rodents.

      The capsaicin treatment, on the other hand, reduced the immunoreaction in both groups - a clear sign of a local reduction in ghrelin.

      Against that background and the previously cited findings by Tena-Sempera (as well as similar studies), it is not surprising that these local reductions in ghrelin went hand in hand with statistically significant increases in serum testosterone levels in both experimental groups, yet especially in adults (see figure 1).
      Figure 1: Ghrelin and testosterone levels in response to control or capsaicin supplemented diet (base on Ilhan. 2012)
      Since the increase in circulating testosterone took place in presence of an increase in systemic ghrelin levels, it is obvious that capsaicin does not block the release of ghrelin, but rather it's local effects - the exact mechanism, however has still to be elucidated.

      The same goes for the beneficial effects of which is probably a "side effect" of the increase in testosterone, since any amelioration of the local inhibition of spermatogenesis in the the spermatogenic cells would require the presence of the "hunger hormone" in this cells. And, as mentioned above, the immunostaining did not reveal any significant amounts of ghrelin in the testes of both the treated and untreated animals.

      Right, right, I don't bother about mechanisms as long as it works - So how much do I need?

      Figure 2:  Capsaicin content (mg/100g) of different varieties of pepper fruits (Supalkova. 2007)
      In view of all of these "may bes" and "could bes" the researchers conclusion that capsaicin "appears to enhance testicular cell proliferation and can affect the release of ghrelin and testosterone directly or indirectly" (Ilhan. 2012) is not very satisfying. If we do yet simply discard that we don't know why capsaicin boosts testosterone and further assume that the results will translate to human beings, capsaicin certainly sounds like an easy and cost-effective way to boost both testosterone and fertility, after all, the human equivalent of those 0.02% capsaicin amounts to no more than 200-300mg per day!

      What may yet sound like a very reasonable for a good reason not achievable by eating peppers alone and could in fact burn right through your stomach lining. 

      It stands out of question 200mg , that does not sound much, but if you take a closer look at the data in figure 2 you will be able to estimate that it will "taste" or rather "burn" like too much, already. After all, you would have to consume at least 100g of the ovaries  of the hottest variety of peppers the group of Czech researchers could find, when they did the analysis on which the data in figure 2 is based
      Ovaries in a pepper? Are you serious? The "ovaries" are the parts inside a pepper on which the seeds are sitting... yeah, the stuffy you usually throw away, because you can't stand how "hot" it is (the illustration on the left a slightly modified version of figure 2 in Supalkova. 2007).
      That said, milder varieties are obviously even less suitable, after all, you would need 1kg or even 10kg of the ovaries of those... Not exactly something anybody would expect to yield great health benefits, anyways, right?
      So what about those  28-homobrassinolides, then? Those must be great, right?

      I guess most normal people will immediately think of their touted cholesterol lowering effects, when they hear about "plant sterols". Not the average muscle-head, though for him (and mostly it's just "him" who falls for this idea) their structural resemblance to steroid hormones is what counts and their ability to totally mess up your own endocrine system is what is ignored as soon as the "Big T" is mentioned (click here to read all about the role of testosterone in building muscle). No wonder the "T-word" is also at the heart of the bro-scientific sales pitches the companies who are bottling respective products will have their reps propagate on the bulletin boards of the bodybuilding and fitness world. The scientific perspective is slightly different, though and the truth is probably, as so often, anywhere in the middle. And in this regards the recent study on possible pro-androgenic effects of 28-homobrassinolides (28-HB) that was founded on the rationale that 28-HB has been shown to ameliorate high blood glucose levels, while the latter have been shown to compromise testicular function and testosterone production is no exception.
      Figure 3: Effect of 28-HB on lipid peroxidation, superoxide dismutase activity and catalase activity in rat testis (based on Premalata. 2012)
      "Studies investigating the effects of 28-homobrassinolide (28-HB) on diabetic male rats indicated antihyperglycemic potency in this phytohormone. Since hyperglycemia was known to suppress testicular and ovarian steroidogenesis in the rat, it provided a basis for evaluating the biopotency of this oxysterol in rat testicular steroidogenesis. The present study was designed to elucidate the effects of 28-HB on testicular steroidogenesis in normal and streptozotocin (STZ)-induced diabetic rats." (Premalath. 2012)
      Fortunately, though the researchers had a normal control group which received the same dose of 50µg of 28-HB in 50mL of 50% ethanol per day in their study. This gives the otherwise very artificial data at least some significance for the average, hopefully non-diabetic trainee as well.

      A plant sterol that's obviously not for diabetics only

      As the data in figure 3 shows all the expected beneficial effects on the streptozotocin-induced downregulation of superoxide dismutase (SOD) and catalase activity (CAT, as well as a reduction in reduced glutathione; not shown in figure 3) and partial reversal of the increase in lipid peroxidation were present in the diabetic rodents. And even in the healthy control, the ratio of anti- to pro-oxidant factors improved significicantly.
      Figure 4: Changes in the levels of ABP and StAR protein, as well as testosterone in the testis of 28-homobrassinolide-treated rats (Premalatha. 2012)
      The corresponding, or I should say "corollary" changes in steroidogenic acute regulatory protein (StAR), and androgen-binding protein (ABP) expression, but even more so increase in intratesticular (not(!) serum!) testosterone levels you see in figure 4 do however raise the question, whether what we are seeing here - specifically in the diabetic rodents - is actually (still) healthy or not (see figure 4).

      To potent to be healthy?

      In this regard it may also be worthwile to take into account what the scientists say about the enzymatic conversion of cholesterol to testosterone and how it may and does figure in this context:
      "It is known that the synthesis of T in animal tissues is under the influence of 3b- and 17b-hydroxy steroid dehydrogenases. Increase in the activities of 3b- and 17b-HSD observed in the present study was suggestive of the active involvement of these enzymes in rat testicular steriodogenesis. Elevated 17b-HSD activity due to 28-HB was noted in relation to the elevated StAR content in normal rat testicular tissue. However, elevated 17b-HSD activity did not correlate with the StAR content of diabetic rat testis, suggestive of a disproportionate link between HSD activity and StAR content in the diabetic rat testis probably influenced by 28-HB. [...] It is reported that androgens reduced T biosynthesis in adult Leydig cells and in Leydig cell lines in an autoregulatory man-ner through receptor-mediated inhibition of StAR expression under normal physiological conditions. On the contrary, the increase in StAR protein level along with the relatively high level of T (figure 4) detected in the testis of male rats used in this study is due to the specific effect of the phytooxysterol 28-HB. Even though StAR and ABP were positively regulated by administered 28-HB, the observed increase in testicular
      T content in diabetic rat is to be considered excessive." (Premalatha. 2012)
      My gut feeling is that the attribute "excessive" Premalatha et al. use in their paper is absolutely spot on. And this goes despite the fact that similar yet way less pronounced effects effects have been observed in the absence of 28-HB administration simply as a result of streptozotocin administration in previous studies in both male and female rodents (Ho. 1991; Leaming 1982). These short term effects are probably a result of a skewed negative feedback at the level of the hypothalamus, where the increased circulating testosterone levels should actually lead to a corresponding decrease in gonadotropin-releasing hormone (GnRH). This regulatory mechanism, however does not work correctly in the early phase of STZ-induced diabetes, so that it take up to 120-140 days until a new "normal" and in this case supra-physological (= low testosterone) steady state is achieved.

      Both, the questionable mechanism, as well as the "overshoot" in testicular testosterone levels and the absence of respective information on the levels of circulating testosterone -- what if it simply accumulated in the testis (remember the difference in systemic and local ghrelin in the capsaicin study!)? -- make the usefulness and even the safety of 28-HB as a test booster more than questionable.

      Looking for more promising alternatives? Check out my previous post on "+180% Testosterone w/ Taurine"
      Bottom line: If we go back to the original question whether one of the two supps could be the long-awaited breakthrough "natural" testosterone booster everyone expect me appears to be waiting for (what is "natural" about eating 100g+ of red pepper ovaries or using plant sterol extracts, by the way?), it appears as if none of the two would qualify.

      Whether dihydrocapsiate, which has been pimped by Ajinomoto as a more potent, and safer fat burner than capsaicin and could be a more tolerable alternative to capsaicin, would even have the same effects on the testis is about as questionable as its value as a fat burner, of which Galgani and Ravussin found in 2010, already, that the <50kcal/day increase in energy expenditure in response to 1 month of supplementation with 9mg/day of the said capsiate "is in the range of day-to-day RMR variability" (Galgani. 2012) and therefore negligible.

      Anyhow, in the unlikley case that some mad or sane scientists find non-negligible effects of supplementation with either dihydrocapsiate (or another more tolerable variety of capsaicin, such as a nano-encapsulated  for example) or 28-homobrassinolide in a future human trial, you know that the SuppVersity is the place to go to read about those results first, right?

      • Galgani JE, Ravussin E. Effect of dihydrocapsiate on resting metabolic rate in humans. Am J Clin Nutr. 2010 Nov;92(5):1089-93.
      • Ho SM. Prostatic androgen receptor and plasma testosterone levels in streptozotocin-induced diabetic rats. J Steroid Biochem Mol Biol. 1991;38(1):67-72.
      • Ilhan T, Erdost H. Effects of capsaicin on testis ghrelin expression in mice. Biotech Histochem. 2012 Sep 27.
      • Kwon DY, Kim YS, Ryu SY, Cha MR, Yon GH, Yang HJ, Kim MJ, Kang S, Park S. Capsiate improves glucose metabolism by improving insulin sensitivity better than capsaicin in diabetic rats. J Nutr Biochem. 2012 Sep 28. pii: S0955-2863(12)00213-6.
      • Leaming AB, Mathur RS, Levine JH. Increased plasma testoster-one in streptozotocin-diabetic female rats.Endocrinology.1982; 111(4):1329-1333.
      • Premalatha R, Jubendradass R, Rani SJ, Srikumar K, Mathur PP. A Phytooxysterol, 28-Homobrassinolide Modulates Rat Testicular Steroidogenesis in Normal and Diabetic Rats. Reprod Sci. 2012 Sep 25.
      • Supalkova V, Stavelikova H, Krizkova S, Adam V, Horna A, Havel L, Ryant P, Babula P, Kizek R. Study of Capsaicin Content in Various Parts of Pepper Fruit by Liquid Chromatography with Electrochemical Detection. Acta Chim. Slov. 2007, 54, 55–59.
      • Tena-Sempere M. Ghrelin: novel regulator of gonadal function. J Endocrinol Invest. 2005;28(5 Suppl):26-9.

      It is ACTUALLY ALL for the good.

      The Talmud teaches, “A person is obligated to bless and acknowledge G-d over the bad and misfortune just as he blesses and praises G-d over the good.”  In the same way that a person accepts and receives the good in his life with open and manifest joy, a person should accept those things that appear negative and undesirable with a positive and grateful attitude, because in truth it really is for the good.

      The Talmud says a story of a person by the name of Nochum who was chosen to represent the community in Israel before the Emperor in Rome. Nochum was given a chest of gold and diamonds to impress the Emperor. Little did Nochum know that overnight in the inn, the valuable content was stolen and exchanged for earth and stones.

      Not realizing what happened; when Nochum presented the gift to the Emperor his highness was furious at the insult and ordered Nochum to jail. Nochums’ response was to say and truly believe in his heart, “all that G-d does is for the good”.

      In the end it turned out that this earth and stones were endowed with a special quality that the Emperor was able to use against his enemies, and the people in Israel were greatly rewarded.

      How is it possible to truly believe everything is for the good when on the face of it things are dark and bleak?

      Once a student came to his Rabbi and asked for advice how to handle all the hardships he had in life. This Rabbi advised his student to go to Reb Zushe for guidance. Reb Zushe was a person with every reason to complain. His health was not the best, neither were his affairs at home or his financial situation. When this student showed up at the door of Reb Zushe for advice he was told by Reb Zushe to go to someone who truly had problems and could advise him how to cope.

      In the world of Reb Zushe, he had no problems. 

      It is precisely this quality we attribute to Abraham and Sarah. The Bible says, “All the years of Sarah were equally good.” However we know that for 90 years Sarah was barren.  She travelled with her husband to Israel thinking all would be well and ended up in a land where there was a famine. Forced to go to Egypt she was abducted by the king and many other similar experiences which appeared as hardships for Sarah. How can all her years be equally good?

      The answer is, they were all equally good. As a righteous and G-dly woman Sarah accepted everything that transpired in her life with open arms and in love as coming from G-d. Sarah understood that even down to the minutest detail everything is directed and influenced by G-d and because G-d is by nature kind and good, everything in truth must be, for the good, all the time.

      When a person develops and cultivates an awareness and continual mindfulness that G-d is always right here, within me and the reason for everything that is happening, the obvious conclusion and outcome is a complete acceptance and comfort with what is.

      Abraham, was blessed with the virtue of always being satisfied with what he had and never felt he was lacking or dealt with an unjustified hand. Abraham knew and felt in his heart G-d who is perfect always does the best for each individual and therefore there is never anything to complain about.

      Mysticism explains that this attitude to see everything in a positive perspective because G-d is the cause of everything, has the power to actually transform an otherwise difficulty situation into an actual positive and happy situation. “And those who put their trust in G-d, kindness (always) surrounds them.”

      love / convictions.

      Lacey top & peplum pink skirt by Cloth Inc
      denim jacket from HK's vintage market, vintage necklace

      Thank you Cloth Inc for the pretty pairs of feminine clothes! Lol yes I'm filling my closet with a lot of skirts and dresses recently. I believe what you're wearing really can affect your mood for the whole day. New clothes make me happy. So does a good song. I'm writing this post while listening to Sometimes by Leftover Cuties, then I realized the mood matches today's outfit post so I stumbled across the lyrics and it's pretty much what I can relate. Actually if you listen closely to the lyrics, it's a broken-heart story though, sounds both cute and desperate at the same time. I love bands with ironically beautiful & very well-written lyrics. :)

      // Sometimes love makes you get down on your knees
      Shakes you down until you're broken up...
      In this lonely life there's always a surprise
      Waiting around the corner to meet you
      Sometimes love makes you get back on your feet
      Shakes you down until you've woken up...
      And there's no place I'd rather be
      There's no one else I'd rather be with, baby
      There's nothing else you could've done to me //

      Natural Resistant Starch Reduces Body Fat & Weight Gain in Obesity Prone & Lean Rodents. 8% RS2 Necessary for Weight Loss Effect, Only 4% for Increases in GLP-1 and PYY

      Potatoes! I don't suggest you eat them raw, but if you did they would make a good source of resistant starch. You don't eat potatoes at all? Read the Potato Manifesto and learn why regular potatoes are not as black as they are portrait!
      I guess, you will remember my post on WM-HDP from back in the day. As usual you, as a SuppVersity reader were in the know, way before the ThermiCarbs and its identical clones hit the supplement market. It has however gotten relatively quiet around these purported super starches, which bypass enzymatic breakdown in the small intestine and get converted to short-chain fatty acids (SFCA) in the colon. Why? Well, my best bet is that people expected some sweet junk of which they could eat as much as they wanted with the only side effect being increased muscularity and decreased body fat levels. I am well aware that you knew better than that, but you know how people are: Always on the look-out for the magc pill... or in this case, the magic starch ;-)

      Cutting fat by eating more: The old adage of the "fat burning foods"

      Be that as it may, a soon to be published study by researchers from the Commonwealth Scientific & Industrial Research Organization in Australia confirms: If you exchange a high enough amount of regular carbohydrates with resistant starches (even regular ones, lower resistance to enzymatic breakdown that WM-HPD), this can be a viable tool to shed some body fat.

      Unfortunately, though, the results of the very this study do also suggest that the effectiveness of this regimen will largely depend on (a) your phenotype and (b) your willingness to follow your hopefully not totally messed up satiety response and decrease your caloric intake voluntarily, just as the male Sprague-Dawley, the 'subjects in this study by Belobrajdic, King, Christophersen and Bird.
      Figure 1: Energy intake and final body weight (left) and relative changes in fat mass and total liver weight after 6 weeks on diets with different resistant starch content (based on data from Belobrajdic. 2012)
      Both (a) and (b) could however be major caveats when it comes to the practical realization of similar results in human beings, to whom I would not suggest that they follow a standardized diet with ~15% fat, 19% protein and ~66% carbohydrate, either - regardless of whether they exchange 0%, 4%, 8%, 12% and 16% of the mostly high GI carbs in their diets by resistant starch or not (the values are relative to the weight of the chow).
      Just as raw potatoes, green bananas contain RS-2, the natural form of fermentable resistant starch. When you cook them, the RS2 content is continuously reduced.
      Note: The "2" in "RS2", indicates that RS2 is, contrary to WM-HDP, which belongs to the "RS4" variety of resistant starches, a naturally occurring molecule. And though this is the case for WM-HDP vs. high amylase maize starch, the latter does not necessarily mean that one is more resistant to enzymatic breakdown than the other. You could for example think of special applications, where you want to have a starch that of which roughly 75% will be broken down into glucose in the small intestine, while the other 25% are fermented further down in the large intestine. This would be a synthetic molecule and therefore categorized as RS4, but still relatively easily "digested".
      What I consider especially problematic, though is the fact that people who like to eat, let alone those, who use food as a, if not the only way to experience pleasure in their lives (eating for reward), are going to have a very hard time to satisfy their cravings with this blatant "food". I mean, we all know that "satiety" is not really an issue for most people with weight problems, so it remains questionable to which degree those who actually need a crouch like this will eventually benefit from a resistant starch which exerts its fat loss effect in rodent experiments at least partly via dose-dependent decreases in food intake -- 3%, 6%, 9% and 11% in the 4%, 8%, 12% and 16% resistant starch groups, respectively.

      Ok, I have to admit there is more to it than just eating less

      Figure 2: For the lean rodents, body weight gain and feed efficacy (weight gain per gram of chow) favor different "optimal" RS2 levels.
      Allegedly, the reduction in food intake alone cannot explain the decrease in weight gain in either the obese or lean rodents, but if you take a closer look at the data I plotted in figure 2, it does still become obvious that  the ameliorative effects weight gain in the obesity resistant (i.e. naturally lean) rodents don't obey the "more is more" rule, as the scientists would have it in their abstract:
      "Obesity prone rats (OB) gained less weight with 4, 12 and 16% RS compared to 0% RS, but the effect in obesity resistant [lean] animals was significant only at 16% RS. Irrespective of phenotype, diets  containing ≥8% RS reduced adiposity compared to 0% RS. Energy intake decreased by 9.8 kJ/d for every 4% increase in RS. [...] Insulin sensitivity was not affected by RS." (Belobrajdic. 2012)
      In the naturally lean animals, the "optimal", i.e. the lowest feed efficacy would be achieved with 8% of RS2 in the chow and not as the "≥8% RS" implies with 16% of resistant starch in the diet.

      Ok, I have to admit there is more to it than "minimal feed efficiency"

      In the scientists defense, it must however be mentioned that the plasma lipid and gut / satiety regulating hormone levels they measured did in fact show an almost linear increase with the amount of fermentable resistant starch in the diets (see figure 3). Since Belobrajdic et al. do not provide individual data from the two groups, but settle for a table that will tell you that there were no treatment x group interactions  (this means that the outcome was not different for obesity resistant and prone animals) and a phenotype interaction with the overall outcome was only present for leptin, there is no way to tell for sure.
      Figure 3: Inter-group comparison (not differentiated for lean vs. obese, because there were no significant interactions, except for leptin) of plasma lipid and gut derived hormone levels (data adapted from Belobrajdic. 2012)
      So, with all these "admission" (as in "I have to admit..."), I have to admit *lol* that using high-amyolse starch as a part of your contest prep, maybe to bake pancakes or use it in another food, where the "taste" does not matter that much is could in fact be a viable dietary tool. It won't get you stage ready on its own, though and has one major caveat I have not even mentioned yet: You better make sure you always know where the next clean toilette is. Assuming that those 16% RS2 have the same effect on the volume of your feces as they had on that of the rodents in the study at hand, you may be spending 5-times more time on the loo thhan usually ;-)

      If you can't remember what WM-HDP was, click on the image to go back to the article. Regardless of whether you pick up a natural or an artificial starch, this stuff is not "zero calories"! The high amylose maize starch in the study at hand has 10.45kJ (WM-HDP should be similar), i.e. 2.5kcal/g you will have to make up for by cutting out real foods.
      Bottom line: Assuming that the results from the study at hand translate to human beings the incorporation of resistant starches in your diet seems - at least to a degree at which your bowel can handle it - to entail a lot of health benefits. The problem I see, is that you will have to force down these empty calories instead of eating healthy foods if you want to benefit.

      If you simply add resistant starches (natural or artificial) to your diet, without cutting back on calories, elsewhere, you will become fatter, not leaner.

      You will also have to take into account that adding resistant starch to the high sucrose diet of the rodents in this study will necessarily entail greater benefits than exchanging some tubers, rice, fruit and other non-sugary carbohydrate sources from a healthy diet with resistant starch powder - not to speak of all the beneficial micro-nutrients you will be missing!

      • Belobrajdic DP, King RA, Christophersen CT, Bird AR. Dietary resistant starch dose-dependently reduces adiposity in obesity-prone and obesity-resistant male rats. Nutr Metab (Lond). 2012 Oct 25;9(1):93.

      The Female(?) Athlete Triad - Part III/III: Road to Recovery! Step #3 = Reinvent Your Training Regimen

      You don't have to wonder that you get lost, when you embark on a journey without food, a map and as you will soon realize no definitive destination.
      After I did not have time to write the third part of the Road to Recovery, which is Part II of the SuppVersity Female(?) Athlete's Triad Series, my guilty conscious has been plaguing me, so that I will simply take the time, sit down and write down everything that comes to mind, as far as the workout side of the triad is concerned. To be honest, aside from those of you who are still caught in the "working out to burn body fat" idiocy, I believe that everyone who has been following the SuppVersity for some time, who has read the Step By Step Guide to Your Own Workout Routine and, most importantly, follows his or her rationale instead of being misguided by fears of "getting fat again", "losing muscle", etc. should not make so many mistakes, here... right? Well we will see ...

      When we are talking about training, there are a couple of fundamental, objectively measurable variables and a handful of non-quantifiable parameters you have to keep an eye on. In view of the fact that there really is no high quality research into a 'recovery protocol' you could apply to rid yourself of the athlete triad and against the background that I am very that you won't be willing to follow the mainstream recommendation to lie around idly and eat, I decided to base this third part of the Road to Recovery on a general discussion of these training variables and their individual contribution to the etiology of the athlete's trial.
      • Training density: The density of your training regimen refers to the time lag between training stimuli. Accordingly, the number of workout days per week, the number of exercises and sets (or intervals) per workout and the rest you take between sets all have to be taken into account.

        If we go by the hormonal patter, of an insufficient acute response to stressors, a flattened, initially elevated, at later stages of the triad rock bottom cortisol profile that's accompanied by profound reductions in luteinizing hormone, testosterone and estrogen, the following adaptations appear to be reasonable
        1. Remember: There is no mating and by no means childbirth possible, when your body feels that he is being chased by a saber-tooth. You can be active on the other days, but you cannot train more than 3 times per week during the recovery phase.
          reduce the number of workouts per week - This will allow for more of the urgently needed time to recover. Unless your physical stress level goes down first you cannot expect to (a) see the rest of the hormonal millieu, esp. the reproductive part, recover and (b) the restoration of an appropriate acute phase stress response to your workout with increases in catecholamines, a spike in cortisol and a subsequent decline to below baseline.
        2. increase the rest between sets - I am usually no proponent of long rest times, but due to the messed up response to acute stressors, it will necessarily take longer for your body and brain to recover. And this will be the case not just after a workout, but also after each set in the workout. 90s+ should be the rule of thumb for isolation or machine exercises and 120+ seconds for complex compound movements such as the squat
          Note: "Rest" does not include carrying weight around the gym. It does not allow for ab-exercises to be done in-between sets. And it is not be estimated, but has to be taken with a stop watch - at least for so long until you really know how long 90s and 120s actually are!
          You can rest longer, but in my humble opinion it does not really make sense, if you are not training to total failure, which is something you should avoid like a plague during the recovery phase (see paragraph on intensity techniques below).
        3. adapt the total number of sets accordingly - In order not to stay at the gym forever, but also to avoid falling victim to the "damn I just have 30min, the 90s rest must be over now" - syndrome. You will simply do a calculation like this:
          5 exercises x 3 sets each x 90s rest) x 2(*) = 45 min
          * we multiply by 2 to have room for the sets & everything else
          The figure this equation will yield is your estimated total workout time. If it is higher than the maximum workout time you are about to settle for in the next paragraph, you'll have to reduce the number of sets.
        Figure 1: Growth hormone response to exercise in 13 resistance trained men after 6 months on a standardized strength training program with either short (SR) or long (LR) rest periods (Ahtiainen. 2005) - The subjects trained to failure, were even assisted on the last 2 reps of their 10-RM, therefore the "short" rest periods were actually already 2 minutes, the longer ones 5 minutes long.
        For most of you, I guess this is going to be all about reducing training density. I know you will read in other article here at the SuppVersity how beneficial the increase in density actually is - "get  more results in less time", etc. - for you, however, even the hailed increase in GH levels that would only remain on a very high lever after 6 months of regular training level, when the 13 recreationally strength-trained men of a 2005 study by Aithianen trained with short rest periods, would be counter-indicated (see figure 1; Ahtiainen. 2005).  
        Assuming that you have been following the previous installments of this series, you will be aware that th GH levels of athletes who suffer from the triad are not only through the roof already (due to the constant overexpression of ghrelin, see Part I of this series), but also  fail to do their anabolic magic, since their livers (and other organs) simply refuse to turn the growth hormone into IGF-1.
      • Training volume: The volume of your training regimen is defined by a set of 'totals', the total number of sets, the total number of reps, the total number of minutes you spend actually working out, etc. The most straight forward reason you will have to cut back on the volume side, is actually the amount of energy you are willing / physically able to consume.

        Figure 2: Mere illustrative plot of the fallacy of training more to burn more energy (not based on actually data, effects deliberately accentuated)
        Despite the fact that the caloric expenditure during your workouts will scale with their duration (figure 2, blue line), the scaling is nonlinear and once you start working out "too long" (obviously a relative term) on a regular basis, your bodie's evolutionary conserved energy saving mechanisms will kick into full gear (figure 2 red line). They will decrease the energy you expend and increase the energy you conserve and store. The less energy you consume, the more pronounced the effects will be. And what may start off with a very welcome loss of body fat, while you are only overreaching, will segue into chronic fatigue, loss of lean muscle mass, bone demineralization, compromised immune health and so on and so forth once you are chronically overtrained (see "How An Evolutionary Advantage Can Turn Its Ugly Face On You!").

        I am not aware of your current training volume, but if you intend to slowly crawl out of your self-dug hole, you better make sure to limit the total workout time per week (including all medium to high activities at the gym / on the track or wherever you work out) to less than three hours.

        Don't be afraid to cut back on the training volume. The main use of high(er) training volumes is to increase the overload. The whole issue of "chronic" overload (i+1) is however counteracted, when you are adding so many i + 1 stimuli to the equation that adaptive and thus beneficial adaptation processes can no longer occur.
        You can remain, and I would even suggest you should remain active for more than those three square hours, but this activity should be either "just for fun" or as a means of locomotion and should not make you sweet, huff or puff at all (e.g. walking from A to B, taking the bike instead of the car, walking the dog, throwing a couple of baskets with your friends, sun or nephew, etc.)

        At the same time the you want to reduce the length of individual workouts do less than one hour, to avoid depleting your glucose stores completely.

        If we take the sample calculation from the paragraph on workout density as a basis these recommendations would imply that those five exercises with three sets for each of them per workout, plus five minutes of specific warm-ups and a ten minute cool-down is the maximum you will do on a weekly basis during the recovery phase. 
      • Intensity techniques: Intensity techniques are a way to increase the density, weight, or volume of your workouts temporarily in order to provide a novel growth stimulus without that goes beyond the steady increase in weights, running speed, cycling duration or whatever else it is that your athletic progress is measured against. 
        Please note: while I did hint at progress in sports other than weight lifting, intensity techniques are so resistance training specific that will stick to a discussion of those in the following paragraph.
        I already mentioned that you will need longer rest period in between sets, if you insist on training to failure. Even if you are not already within the vicious cycle of overtraining and undereating, training to failure on each and every set of a medium to high volume hypertrophy routine can - in the long run - do more harm than good. If you have already 'fried' your central nervous system, though, it is the very best way to forestall recovery and to ruin your physical and in many cases also your mental well-being completely.
          intensity techniques you should not to use at all:
        • extended sets, super-sets, 
        • triple (or more) drop sets, 
        • breathing squats, EDT-type training, 
        • forced repetitions, training to failure
        • techniques you can use very sparingly: 
        • single-drop sets - only on the last set of a given exercise, and only to extend a set where you wanted to do 10 reps, but stopped in order not to fail at rep number six , by another four reps to arrive at the ten reps you intended to do
        • rest pause training - can make sense especially once the initial recovery phase is over; e.g. you plan to do eight reps, but pick a weight, were you know you can only crank out five if you want to stick to the "don't train to failure" principle; you do the five reps, rack the weight, take ten deep breaths, do another two reps, rack the weight, take another 10 deep breaths and do your last rep -- not a single rep more regardless of whether you feel you could do more!
        • intensity techniques you should use chronically:
        • none!
        As far as bullet-point three, i.e. "intensity techniques you should use chronically" goes, the answer "none!" applies to all trainees, regardless of whether you would or wouldn't say that you are at risk of getting caught up in the vicious cycle of the Athlete's triad. I mean, what's the "novel growth stimulus" an intensity technique is supposed to provide, if you do it during each and every workout, anyway? If you are lucky, your body will simply consider that "normal" and what once has been beneficial overreaching will simply become "normal training" (green path in illustration above). It is however more likely that overreaching will turn into overtraining and you will start digging one of those nasty dark holes, so many athletes before you have dropped into.
      • Training for a purpose:  I have repeatedly pointed out that lifting weight is a means to an end. This goes regardless of whether you do it to lose weight, to build muscle or to win at the next strongman, power lifting or o-lifting event. What you do during your training has to be purposeful! 
        Once you are losing sight of your goals, you are almost guaranteed to either fall off the wagon completely or get caught in a cycle of ever increasing weights, training volume, frequency and density that will inevitably pave the way to the athlete's triad.

        To avoid this ill fate you will have to (1) make up your mind about what exactly it is that you want, (2) draft a plan of attack, (3) find ways to hold yourself accountable and (4) monitor your progress.
        Another common mistake: Confusing athletic and social / other goals 'I want to look good naked' is per se not the best goal, it is however truly problematic if the actual reason you are training is that you are not just unsatisfied with the way you look, but if that dissatisfaction with yourself goes way deeper... if you are training with the one thought in the back of your head. That little spark of hope that "everything is going to change, once I finally get rid of that pouch". That finally all the girls that have been ignoring or laughing at you would want to date you, that finally all the guys who only wanted to be "friends" with you would regret that they did not recognize the woman in you before. That all the bullies would ... I guess, you get the message.

        Believe me, life does not work that way. Just like you don't get six-pack abs from training your self-confidence, training your abs, biceps, legs and butt won't automatically give you the confidence you have never had.
        1. Know what you want! The best ways to fall victim to the athlete's triad are to try to accomplish diametrically opposed goals (make maximal muscle gains and get to the below 10% body fat range at the same time), not to have a goal at all (to train to feel the exhaustion / accomplishment of 'having survived another workout'), or to have nothing but a nebulous idea of what exactly you want to achieve ('I look good!')
        2. Don't follow your instincts, or use someone else's routine! Either you find a non-cookie cutter trainer or come up with a well-thought routine of your own. Never go to the gym without having an idea of what you want to do there and how this is going to take you closer to your goal.
        3. Tell your friends and family about your new goals. Believe me, if you have not scared them away already (isolation and depression are unfortunately also part of the triad), they will be happy to hear that you realized that you can't go on like that and will support you.
        4. Make a habit of bringing a training log to the gym. I know it looks hilarious, but think about the argument most trainees will bring forward for not bringing a log with them and laughing at those who do - "Look at him / her! As if this guy / gal was a pro-athlete *laughs*?" If that's embarrassing for anyone, it's embarrassing for the idiot who says that. No athlete carries a training log around to "look like an athlete", he or she uses it as a tool to increase his performance from the  level of the amateurish gymbro who feels that a training log is laughable and absurd to that of a pro athlete!
        1. Training type: The type of training is basically defined by its purpose about which I have written in the previous paragraph. Overall there are so many ways to train (and to train successfully) that simply compiling a comprehensive list of all of them would already go well beyond the scope of this series. Therefore we will stick to the most fundamental distinction: Aerobic and anaerbic training.
          Why do you train as if you would try to win the Ironman and the Mr. O in one year? You know that won't work!
          If you take a look at successful athletes, you will realize that regardless of what their sports and athletic goals may be, in the long term they all need incorporate both, an aerobic, as well as an an anaerobic component. The former not to drop the weight or whatever you they may be moving, throwing, etc. because they are huffing and puffing and the latter in order to maintain, better build the muscle mass that's necessary to be competitive.
          I could now go on about how athletes who perform in aerobic sports are more prone to overtrain and fall victim to the athlete's triad, but this is of no avail, if your goal is to win the next marathon, the Ironman or whatever (and I am the last one to argue you ot of perusing the one goal that truly motivates you).

          What I can and want to do, though, is to remind you of the necessity not to lose sight of your goals. And this will necessarily entail that you have to prioritize one training type over another. Don't lull yourself into the believe you could win the Mr. O and the Ironman in a single year!
        2. Off time: Off-time includes both the 2-4 days you take off every week, as well as the 1-2 weeks you should take off every 4-6 weeks. In that, off means, no regular training! It does not mean you have to sit around all day.
          "Where is everyone? At home recovering and growing?" Click on the image to learn more about "Detraining & Training Periodization"
          "The time off is the time you grow!" All of you will have heard that sentence, but few of us actually live by the rules it entails. And when you already fell victim to your own ambition and discipline and followed a "plan", although your body kept telling you that this is too much for years, it won't feel right to take just a single day off. Right? Yeah, that feels so wrong...

          Ignore that feeling, use your brain! If you still feel after all those things I mentioned before that you id absolutely nothing wrong, take a week off, now! Completely off! And don't even think about cutting back on calories!

          Come back here in 7 days without exercise and plenty of nutritious food, read the post again and you will (a) realize that your brain is able to process information again and (b) you did not get a fat diabetic slob from giving your body what it needs: REST & FOOD!

        That's it for this week! 

        A long, not very sciency post of which I am quite sure that some of you will say that this was not very useful. After all, they were already doing all that... were they really? And what about the adequate energy intake? What about not calculating how much energy you spend during your workout and rather not eating another rice crump with all its "bad carbs", when they missed 5 minutes of your regular 45 minutes "till-I-drop" run on the treadmill they add on top of a strength workout to make sure they stay lean on a bulk, telling themselves that it was a "walk in the park" anyways and would thus promote regeneration? ... Not you? And you still got problems? Fine, then take a month off to fully recover.
        Learn to program success
        Use this month to think about your goals, about why you have been hitting the gym almost everyday in the past months, if not years. Take baseline measures, identify a new quantifiable goal, design a workout and nutrition routine that will get you there. Generate an Excel spreadsheet in which you will log the progress towards your goal and file bi-weekly progress pictures in the same folder on your hard-drive. Start all over and be wary of that little man (or woman) in your ear who keeps crying "faster", "harder", "more" while simultaneously telling you that "carbs are bad", "you are not hungry", "you did not train, so you have no right to eat", etc. Take action and write your own success story. You deserve better than total burn-out!

        • Ahtiainen JP, Pakarinen A, Alen M, Kraemer WJ, Häkkinen K. Short vs. long rest period between the sets in hypertrophic resistance training: influence on muscle strength, size, and hormonal adaptations in trained men. J Strength Cond Res. 2005 Aug;19(3):572-82.