Enkidude wrote:I have a few questions.
#1. What are your thoughts on artificial sweeteners/zero calorie sweeteners?
Good question! I view them as maybe slightly better than the alternative, but in general these things are to be avoided. If you're used to swilling 2 liters of soda per day, switching to diet might be a step in the right direction, but if you stop there, I don't really think you've improved all that much.
First, I hope I've impressed upon everyone that how healthy you are, and whether or not you gain or lose weight is far more than purely the # of calories you eat versus burn. Carbs, in general, stimulate the release of insulin which is a storage hormone. It comes as a surprise to many that your body does not want to have sugar in the blood over a certain level, and it gets it out of your blood one way or another. It either: stores it in your muscles which have depleted their stores due to physical activity, stores it in your liver (for later distribution around the body), or stores it as fat. Once again, all of this is incredibly oversimplified but we're staying in the realm of the practical.
***Now I don't want people to fear carbs and insulin as evil. They are not. To survive you must store energy sometimes and release it at other times. However it's the sad fact that due to our Modern American Diets, many people are in the storage state almost constantly.***
The reason I went into all of that, is that your tongue is not there purely for your enjoyment (take that however you like)! It has a job to do, and part of that is detecting carbohydrates in food, and communicating to your body what the necessary response is going to be. Kind of like stealing signs as a batter. You eat some carbs, your tongue senses this in advance, and your pancreas queues up the correct amount of insulin even before these things hit your gut (intestines, where things are actually absorbed). Your blood sugar stays even and all is well. But then you drink some diet soda, and the system gets confused, you release insulin but there's not any carbs to store (study 1
, study 2
, study 3
). Blood sugar drops, and you may actually start to crave carbs (or at least more sweet taste). After a while, your body says, "screw it" and may not release any insulin in response to a sweet taste. But this time, you actually did eat carbs, and your blood sugar spikes because a little insulin wasn't waiting to usher it to the right places. Now the body goes into crisis mode, and throws out a buttload of insulin, which stores the sugar but then your blood sugar is too low, and you crave carbs once again. In short, the use of artificial sweeteners has the potential to wreck the way your body deals with maintaining blood chemistry levels.
So, if you drink a little diet soda with a meal you're probably minimizing these effects and you won't die. However, if you walk around with one of those beer helmets drinking diet soda constantly, I would say you're playing with your endocrine system in a detrimental way. Also, I would ask: what's the need for that extremely sweet taste constantly? I mean, for you, not in general. I'd examine that if I felt a constant need to sub artificial sweeteners for sugar.
As an interesting aside, your body has really prioritized the proper control of insulin. This study
looked at how we view food (visually) in the presence or absence of insulin. In healthy subjects insulin changed how the subjects responded to mere pictures of food. In the obese subjects, it did not, indicating that obese people have somehow broken a link between how we view food and our current hormonal state (or that the absence of this link was a contributing factor to their obesity).
Enkidude wrote:#2. What are your thoughts on Thermogenics?
Ask gringo if he felt like he needed some thermogenics after 50 burpees. Probably more like an ice bucket! I'm only somewhat being sarcastic. In general, I have no idea what this stuff does. I mean, I know it's intended to stimulate your metabolism for the purposes of fat loss, but beyond that I don't know how exactly it's doing that or if it's actually effective. I know ephedra was popular in this role for a while and now you can't buy it, and that's saying something in America! Again see above note about how many calories you burn not being the panacea of fitness.
Some subs for thermogenics (not claiming these are any less likely to make you have a heart attack):
1. Work up to a 1 rep max squat. Take 50% of this and do 20 squats without racking the bar (tell Jesus I said hello). Next week, add 10# and do it again. Repeat as long as your courage holds.
2. Using a weight that's relatively difficult for 8, do 8 squats/lunges/deadlifts, drop the bar and run at a full sprint for 200m. Rest 3-5min, and repeat for 3-5 sets. These were invented by a gold medal Russian thrower named Sergey Litvinov
, he used to do it with 8 front squats at 405#, and run 400m in 1:15. He was under 200lb btw.
4. Find a concept 2 rowing machine, warm up thoroughly (make sure you can row properly), and row 500m as fast as you possibly can.
3. Set a clock to beep every minute, in the first minute, do 1 burpee, in the second minute, do 2 burpees, continuing in this fashion until you're unable to do the prescribed number of burpees within the minute. This works with a variety of exercises, preferably full body ones.
#3. Do you think body weight exercises (and a healthy diet) are sufficient for building lean muscle and weight loss?
Thank you for your time and generosity. I've really enjoyed this thread so far!
I've let this go for a while, but just a general note that all muscle is lean. The only thing that's not lean is fat. Organs, bone, tendons, muscle: all lean tissue. I know "lean muscle" just a saying, but it sort of implies the risk of accidentally building fatty muscle. On a related note, there are no "bulky" muscles versus "long lean" muscles. As long as you go through the full range of motion, the muscle will stay as long as the bones/insertions that support it, and if you don't go through the full range of motion, the thing that limits your flexibility won't be the muscle "belly" itself (the part that does the work).
Anyway, the short answer is: yes. The long answer is: it depends. Also, weight loss taken to its extreme end point is death, so again, I think we're more accurately talking about improving body composition: gain muscle+lose fat. If you are 6' 225, and can't do a pull-up, these things are probably sufficient to make you gain muscle and lose fat all at the same time. However, the more muscle you gain, and the less fat you have on you in general, the harder your body is going to resist building "engine" while scrapping "fuel tank" (remember fat as fuel tank concept from previous post). At some point you may have to choose: be bigger and stronger, or smaller and leaner, but this is true about any form of exercise. I'm just trying to impress that current state is a big factor.
Secondly, you're really going to have to take care to make your workout program progressive to continue driving adaptation (improvements/change). If you're using barbell movements this is easy: do same movement, add reps, sets, or weight. Clearly we can't choose the load with bodyweight movements, so you're going to have to find some other way to make the load/challenge progressive. Obviously, people in the olympics do the iron cross, and they probably didn't walk in the first day knowing how to do that, so someone has worked on sound progressions for many gymnastics movements. I must admit that my gymnastics coaching is not stellar, it's not my background and my ability is low (relative to my other athletic ability). However, the good ole internet has resources! Gymnastics bodies
is one I know of, but I really haven't looked much into their program. What I do know is that they claim exactly what you ask: that you can get ripped using bodyweight movements. Another good resource that I do use is Gymnastics WOD (Workout Of the Day), he posts a daily workout, but the real gem here is his progression videos
, where he takes you from easy->hard on a lot of different gymnastic movements.
You're quite welcome! It's probably hard to believe, but I'm having as much if not more fun answering these questions as you are asking them. Keep em coming folks.