For many people, increasing lean muscle mass can be just as difficult a task as loosing weight. When exercise is concerned, proper training style, technique, and form are all crucial components for maximizing muscle growth, body toning and overall results. Scottsdale, Arizona based celebrity personal trainer Lucas James and nutrition expert and trainer Jason Apfel have created a customized ‘Lean Muscle Mass Fitness Program’ for both men and women looking to increase lean body mass, expand their athletic abilities and augment their physical edge. We’ve decided to share our insight here with you so you can safely and effectively start on the path towards reaching your peak performance.
Nutritionally speaking, gaining lean muscle mass takes work, aside from getting into the gym. When trying to increase muscle, protein is king. It’s important not to eat the wrong type of calories or foods when fueling your body for lean muscle growth. Make sure to eat foods that will give you energy in the gym as well. This means complex carbohydrates. Complex carbs give our bodies the fuel they need in the gym, while protein helps reduce muscle breakdown and promote muscle growth after exercise. You should have one gram of carbohydrate for each half gram of protein eaten an hour before a workout. This combination not only gives you the energy to lift, it also helps repair muscle damage and fully enhances the recovery process following the exercise. It is ‘essential’ to consume essential amino acids –the building blocks of protein- found in animal products like dairy, meat, eggs, and fish protein. These versions are much more beneficial for building lean muscle mass than their vegetable-protein counterparts. Remember, since everyone is different, it is important to receive proper nutrition counseling so that you don’t over eat, including protein which can cause detrimental effects on metabolism and body function if not taken in the proper amounts at the right time.
In terms of your training regimen, start by lifting heavier weights. People often get carried away with performing the same exercises, lifting the same weight, at the same intensity level every time they get to the gym. The “same” effort will only produce the “same” results. Performing any one exercise for a prolonged period of time is a waste. Not only do your muscles get use to the exercise, but your muscle building capabilities plateau as well. Your body eventually will make all the changes it’s going to make in response to those exercises. To break this pattern and build more muscle mass lift progressively heavier weight with each set. Repeat 3-4 sets of 6-12 reps max so that your muscles are fatigued on the last rep! With each set increase your weight and decrease the number of reps for each consecutive set.
When lifting be careful not to over exert yourself, as injuries usually occur during mass-building programs. Thoroughly warm up with at least 15 minutes of light cardio exercise and stretching and always have a spotter when using free weights, especially on your max-reps. Try creating a power circuit to give your muscles a rest in between sets and employ supersets. For example, if you are working back and shoulders alternate shoulder press with pull-ups so that you engage opposing muscle groups. Make sure you have a proper exercise split so that you don’t over work specific muscle groups. Your muscles need time to recover, otherwise you continually break-down the muscles you’re trying to build up.
Stay motivated, stay dedicated and eat your spinach!
Nutrition Expert Jason Apfel from Lucas James Celebrity Personal Training in Scottsdale, AZ offers some advice when considering fat-burners and weight-loss pills.
You’ve heard this from us before, but for the sake your wellness and staying consistent, there is no ‘quick-fix’ when your health is concerned. The same holds true for healthy, sustainable weight-loss. Keeping this in mind, ninety-nine percent of all sports-nutrition and health products, including supplements, vitamins and fat-burning weight-loss diet pills are all hype and marketing ploys. Often, these products boast university or private lab studies to validate their efficacy. However, some reported studies never actually take place or use altered results for advertisement purposes. More so, ‘before-and-after’ pictures for success stories are often used for generating increased sales, but the displayed weight-loss is not truly attributable to the actual products.
Due to a lack of market and product regulation for nutraceuticals and fitness supplements the reported testimonials and benefits of use are often glamorize stories or complete fallacies. Since, dietary supplements and weight-loss aids are not subject to the same rigorous standards as prescription medications, they can be sold with limited proof of effectiveness or safety. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) only monitors product safety once a product in on the market, in terms of banning or recalling detrimental or harmful supplements.
So how do these pills supposedly work?
Calories and fat are burnt through three ways: Firstly, through maintaining normal body function ie. Breathing, heart-rate etc. Secondly, through exercise or physical work that uses calories as a source of energy, and lastly through maintaining our internal body temperature and burning calories by emitting body heat. This last method is what ‘nutrition’ companies focus on to promote their latest, greatest miracle pill. Otherwise known as ‘fat-burners’ these products are typically filled with stimulants such as caffeine, that literally increase your resting heart rate to make you sweat in order to burn more calories. Most burners and weight-loss products are often untested, and contain trace amount of ingredients that are either harmful, or on the flip side helpful for weight-loss but ineffective in the incorporated amounts.
A healthy fat-burning alternative: For the same calorie crushing effect try drinking green tea or coffee. A daily cup of coffee can rev up your metabolism by 5 to 8 percent—enough to burn 98 to 174 calories. If you are interested in loosing weight or burning fat more efficiently try eating more protein. It will help increase your protein synthesis, building more lean muscle which means burning fat more efficiently. Gaining three lbs of increases metabolism by about 7%., meaning you’ll burn roughly 100 more calories per day. Protein also help to keep you fuller longer. A recent medical study showed eating 5% more protein leads to consuming 10% fewer calories throughout the day.
The bottom-line: Aside from avoiding possible health problems and side-effects due to weight-loss pills, you still have to ‘diet’ or eat fewer calories than your body burns in order to lose weight while taking these products. If a product helps you to lose weight initially, once you stop taking it, your weight-loss will return rapidly. If you are considering taking a weight-loss product, make sure to speak with your physician beforehand, especially if you have current health problems or are taking prescription medications.
|Alli — OTC version of prescription drug orlistat (Xenical)||Decreases absorption of dietary fat||Effective; weight-loss amounts typically less for OTC versus prescription||FDA investigating reports of liver injury|
|Bitter orange||Increases calories burned||Insufficient reliable evidence to rate||Possibly unsafe|
|Chitosan||Blocks absorption of dietary fat||Insufficient reliable evidence to rate||Possibly safe|
|Chromium||Increases calories burned, decreases appetite and builds muscle||Insufficient reliable evidence to rate||Likely safe|
|Conjugated linoleic acid (CLA)||Reduces body fat and builds muscle||Possibly effective||Possibly safe|
|Country mallow (heartleaf)||Decreases appetite and increases calories burned||Insufficient reliable evidence to rate||Likely unsafe and banned by FDA|
|Ephedra||Decreases appetite||Possibly effective||Likely unsafe and banned by FDA|
|Green tea extract||Increases calorie and fat metabolism and decreases appetite||Insufficient reliable evidence to rate||Possibly safe|
|Guar gum||Blocks absorption of dietary fat and increases feeling of fullness||Possibly ineffective||Likely safe|
|Hoodia||Decreases appetite||Insufficient reliable evidence to rate||Insufficient information|
Sources: U.S. Food and Drug Administration, 2010; Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database, 2010
Building Testosterone with Food
Testosterone is a steroid hormone that is found in both men and women. In males, it is the primary anabolic steroid sex hormone that is highly responsible for the proper growth and development of muscle mass and bones, aside from influencing mood and energy levels. If you are looking to increase natural testosterone production, some foods can help. While testosterone can only be produced by the body, certain foods have nutrients that will affect how much the body produces.
People often try to synthetically boost their testosterone levels through the use of supplements for its pro-body building, but these often come with detrimental side effects. If you are looking to increase your natural production of testosterone, try eating specific foods that are high in protein and key components that can boost natural testosterone synthesis.
Cholesterol is a vital component for our bodies, especially when hormone synthesis is concerned. Even though our body makes endogenous cholesterol on its own, cholesterol is usually considered as bad, due to its tendency to cause plaque buildup and arterial heart disease. It is however in a sense, the chemical back-bone of testosterone. Two foods that are high in cholesterol are eggs and red meat. Watch out for the high levels of saturated fat found in both eggs and red meats.
While both fat and cholesterol can both be harmful to our health in large amounts, they can help to increase natural testosterone levels. This includes unhealthy saturated fats and the healthier monounsaturated fats. Some foods that contain healthier fats are olives, seeds, nuts and avocados.
Estrogen is a female-dominant hormone that is also found in small amounts in males. When levels of this hormone elevate, testosterone production goes down. Dietary indoles may help reduce the release of estrogen and promote a growth in testosterone levels. Most cruciferous vegetables are high in indoles, such as brussel sprouts, broccoli, cabbage and cauliflower.
Zinc is a mineral involved in proper red blood cell formation, blood clotting, tissue repair and bone health. But it has also been found to increase sperm production and boost testosterone. Zinc can be found in high amounts in beef, pork, turkey, chicken liver, oysters pumpkin and other seeds and nuts such as almonds.
Salmon is one of the best foods to increase testosterone because it is a good source of both zinc and vitamin A. It also has omega-3 fatty acids, which reduces globulin in the body. Globulin is an enzyme that binds to testosterone, rendering it useless.
If you want to add some vegetables to your testosterone building diet, consider spinach. It has one of the highest levels of vitamin A among leafy green vegetables.
Tomatoes are an easy food to add to any meal. They are high in vitamin A, which is another nutrient that increases testosterone production.
Supplement: Tribulous (natural supplements for testosterone)
Fat Burning Foods
It’s no secret that weight-loss can be a painstakingly tedious process. While loosing those extra pounds may be hard, keeping them off is harder. Long-term weight loss must be accompanied by adequate physical activity and safe exercise, but proper nutrition and diet can help jump-start your metabolism and augment your body’s fat burning potential. Here are a few tips from celebrity personal trainer Lucas James and nutrition expert Jason Apfel for fat burning foods that will helop you eat for a leaner body.
Current research suggests that Green Tea may help to lower cholesterol and decreases the risk of diabetes and stroke. As an added bonus, the low levels of caffeine in tea help to boost metabolism and burn fat. The leading theories suggest that Epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG), found in green tea, serves as a potent antioxidant with therapeutic properties for many disorders, possibly including even cancer. It’s thought that EGCG causes the brain and nervous system to run more quicker, helping to burn more calories.
A recent study by the Nutrition Institute at the University of Tennessee at Knoxville. Suggests that low-fat calcium may help reduce body fat. The study shows that three to four daily servings of low-fat diary products can help augment our body’s fat-burning machinery. Milk contains high levels of calcium, which acts as a metabolic signal to reduce body fat storage. Milk is also a rich source of the ‘good’ complex carbohydrates, which help to keep insulin levels lower after eating a meal.
Similar to Green Tea, Coffee contains caffeine, which helps increase your heart rate and in turn your metabolism, helping to burn more calories. It important to use skim milk as a creamer and use little sugar or none.
Fiber helps to reduce the rate of absorption of fat to our blood stream, leaving us less bloated and cleaner internally. It is one of the few functional foods approved by the FDA to help lower cholesterol levels, reduce the risk of colon and G.I. cancers, and aid weight loss. Here are a few high fiber foods:
Berries are one of the best foods for fat burning, as they’re an excellent source of fiber. Aside from its digestive benefits, fiber in berries helps us stay satiated longer and aids the metabolism of dietary fat in our meals.
Oranges have one of the highest fiber contents of all fruits. Recent research suggests that higher fiber diets are associated with decreased adipose (fat) tissue. Oranges are also packed with healthy minerals and vitamins such as Vitamin C.
Whole grain cereals are a terrific source of both complex carbohydrates and fiber, helping to keep our energy levels up while maintaining a blood sugar and insulin levels after a meal. When insulin levels spike due to a meal high in sugar or simple carbohydrates our bodies revert to a fat storing mode. Eating foods that reduce spikes in blood sugar can help our bodies avoid excess fat storage. Oats are a great example of a cereal that is rich in fiber. Since oatmeal is slowly it doesn’t cause a big spike in insulin the way simple carbs do.
Turkey is an excellent source of lean protein, which helps boost metabolism. The more lean muscle our bodies have, the more efficiently we can burn fat. Turkey breast can be used just like chicken, so try turkey burgers, stir-fry, or skewers!
Chicken similar to turkey, is full of metabolism-boosting protein. Researchers have found that men who increased their protein intake and reduced their carbohydrates increased the number of calories they burned each day by up to five percent.
Salmon contains Omega-3 fatty acids, which can alter the levels of a satiety hormone found in fat called leptin. Lower leptin levels are associated with a higher metabolism. Aside from the cardiovascular benefits, the good fats in salmon will help reduce the bad fats in our blood stream.
Tuna can also help reduce the level of leptin the bodies. Lower leptin levels have been associated with faster metabolisms that burn fat more efficiently.
Pork is an excellent source of protein. The more protein you consume, the harder your body has to work to digest it, helping to burn calories in the process. It’s important however to keep your cuts of pork lean.
Jalapenos and Habaneros contain capsaicin, the chemical responsible for the fiery heat and spice they contain. Aside from their kick, the capsaicin within can help to speed up our heart rate and boost metabolism. A recent Canadian study found that men who consumed coffee and red pepper burned almost 1,000 more calories a day than the control group.