Notes on Health & Fitness
Most of this is based upon the research of Tim Ferriss, the work of Peter Attia, the guys from Muscle for Life, the Barbell Shrugged podcast and the work of Dr. Rhonda Patrick. If you see something that isn't quite right or you know something I could add to this list, please send me a message on Twitter.
- Diet is more important than exercise.
- How much you should eat depends on your TDEE (total daily energy expenditure), which in turn is based on your BMR (basal metabolic rate) and your activity level. More info.
- If you want to lose body fat, eat 20-25% less than recommended. Try not to eat less than this, or you will lose muscle. This is called cutting.
- If you want to gain muscle, eat 5-10% more than recommended.
Try not to eat more than this, or you will gain too much body fat.
This is called bulking.
(Only effective if training properly, see workout schedule)
- Do not overeat, ever, you're only going to gain body fat.
- Drink enough water, if you're thirsty, it's already too late. Two to three liters per day should be good. Helps with losing body fat.
- Pre and post-workout meals are helpful if you want to gain muscle. More info below.
- You can eat fat, it doesn't make you fatter, that is, if it are healthy fats. Healthy fats are: saturated (coconut oil, grassfed butter) and polyunsaturated (omega-3 and 6).
- Simple and white carbohydrates are the most unhealthy forms of carbs,
i.e. not nutritious.
All forms of sugar, white bread, white pasta, etc..
- Complex carbohydrates are the most healthy form of carbs,
i.e. most nutritious.
Green vegetables, beans, lentils, sweet potatoes, whole grains, etc.
- Fasting 13 hours per day is considered the optimal amount of fasting. Fasting is good for disease prevention, better sleep, more energy. Note that fasting is only consuming water and nothing else. More info.
- Intermittent fasting is a great pattern for eating to increase muscle mass and to decrease body fat. It might also help with increasing testosterone.
Cutting and bulking
For me personally:
- When cutting: 40% of daily calories from protein, 40% from healthy carbohydrates and 20% from healthy fats.
- When bulking: 140-150gr protein (1gr per pound of body weight), 20% of your daily calories from fats, and get the rest from carbohydrates.
- Reduce body fat percentage to 10% or less before bulking. This enables you to build muscle more easily.
- Keep the cutting periods as small as possible. Example: cuts for 3 to 4 months, and bulks for 6 to 8 months.
- When you stop with cutting and going into bulking mode, do not eat a large amount or you will regain a lot of body fat. Make 100-150 calorie progressions, increase every week.
Pre and post-workout meals
- Pre-workout meals are useful for (1) building muscle by eating protein, and (2) improving performance by eating carbs.
- A small carbs/protein meal, 30-40gr protein, 40-50gr carbs.
- More info.
- Post-workout meals are useful for preventing muscle breakdown, and thus stimulating muscle growth.
- 30-50gr of protein and about 30% of your daily carbs.
- More activity = more protein.
- More info
- Good for the gut: Fermented foods, Kombucha.
- Carbs can best be eaten early in the day (you're more insulin sensitive later in the day).
- Meal frequency doesn't matter.
- Keep at least 20 minutes between meal portions.
- Don't think about your BMI, it's not relevant.
- Creatine is the only "good" supplement for muscle growth.
- Gluten-free products are sometimes worse than products with gluten: a lot of chemicals, corn syrup, etc.
- Your mood determines a good amount of how you process food/drinks.
- Vitamin D (UV radiation, sun) and magnesium (dark green vegetables, kale leaves, spinach, etc.) are probably the most important micronutrients.
- Sugar (50% glucose, 50% fructose) is the main reason for obesity.
- Don't eat too much fruit with a high fructose level (max 1-2/day).
- Low fat food mostly means high sucrose levels, so avoid those.
- A ketogenic state means that the body will retrieve energy from your stored fat, instead of glucose (sugars, carbs, etc.).
- A good diet is the best way to prevent cancer.
- Supplement sodium (salt) and magnesium when feeling weak/dizzy while exercising.
- Vitamin A is good for the eyes.
- Heavy weights & less reps are better than lighter weights & more reps. Mainly because it makes you stronger and it causes more fat loss (up to 3 days after training).
- 8 to 12 sets of 4 to 6 reps, seems to work best.
- Make sure to get enough rest, train every muscle group once per week. It can take 3 to 7 days to fully recover from a heavy-weight workout.
- You can train your abs/core and calves multiple times per week, as they take less time to recover (smaller muscles).
- Train your grip and core for better overall strength.
- Cardio isn't necessary, but it can help you build and retain more muscle. More info.
- When you do cardio, prefer HIIT (High-Intensity Interval Training) over other methods.
- You can train while fasted (not eating for more than 6-12 hours) to remove body fat more quickly, but this will cause muscle loss.
- Before meals, not pre and post-workout meals, you can do some light exercises (like wall-pushes and squats) to ensure that those muscles get fed (also an hour and a half after the meal).
- When cutting, you burn less energy, so move more or do more cardio. Your body adjusts itself because you're eating less.
- Relating to rest between sets, rest until your breath has somewhat returned to normal. Not too long though. Roughly, 3-4 minutes for large muscle groups (eg. legs) and 1 minute for smaller muscle groups (eg. biceps).
- If you are able to keep your strength level the same while cutting and you are losing body fat, that means you are doing good.
- When you are moving, your brain suppresses the pain signals. That's why sometimes you feel more pain after waking up the next morning. Your body received the full load, because you stopped moving for that long.
- HIIT cardio: You need to get moving fast and long enough to make your breathing labored, and you need to hold that speed for a fair amount of time.
Testosterone is another important factor.
Testosterone can be increased in the following ways:
- More active = more testosterone.
- Use a lot of muscle groups while exercising (compound movements).
- Get enough sleep.
- Get enough vitamin D.
- Get rid of sugar (kills 25%).
- Making sure your selenium levels are in order.
- Exercise, ie. physical activity, speeds up blood flow and this allows allergens to be moved quickly through the body and eliminated via the kidneys and skin.
- Or in other words, a lack of exercise results in a sluggish blood flow. Stagnant allergens gather in a fixed position, which begins to destroy the tissues around them. Constant movement of the allergens through the blood stream prevents these delicate tissues from becoming inflamed.
- People whose natural defense system is weakened due to an infection or other physical stressor are at increased risk of developing an allergy.
- Sleep is every important, don't listen to the people that say that sleep is a waste of time.
- 7 and half hours of sleep is the absolute minimum.
- Not enough sleep makes you fatter.
- Not enough sleep causes a testosterone deficiency.
- Your muscles grow when you sleep (and sleep deficiency leads to faster muscle loss).
- You cannot sleep one day just a few hours and the next day sleep a few hours longer, it does not work like that.
- Going to bed at the same time and getting up at the same time every day is essential.
- Your bedroom should be as dark as possible and a bit cool.
- No screens or bright lights a half hour before bed.
Stress & Lifestyle
- Wim Hof method: breathing is required to resist the cold, when trying to resist the cold you burn brown fat, which in turn keeps your temperature up and produces huge amounts of energy.
- Visualizing yourself doing a task can improve your actual ability to do it. More info.
- Do not think stress is something bad. It's a signal that you're body is preparing for something.
- How you think about stress and how you act in general, determines the amount and nature of its physical effects.
- Enjoy the now, don't think to much about where you're going.
- Don't think about tomorrow, nothing bad is going to happen.
- Breathing effectively is important for your focus, metabolism, stress, etc. –> Wim Hof method.
- Meditating 20 minutes a day can bring enormous benefits, e.g. reduce bad stress. Focus on breathing/air flow.
- Mental stress <=> physical stress (it's all related)