For those who care about buffness

Posts tagged “nutrition

new year, new illness, new resolve

so as january rolled in and i was cruising nicely w training, along came a spider. in the form of a brutal cough virus.
after getting coughing fits which were so violent i’d practically pass out, i was told (by the doctor! not google!) that i had broken a rib, and that the whole area on the back/right hand side of my ribcage was really bruised due to crazy coughing.
tough. very tough. i was doped up on some morphine based cough mixture which would knock me out most of the day, and have no idea pretty much what happened for most of january it’s all a blur.
training was completely out of the question for the obvious reasons. at first it was just i couldn’t breathe, but then the pain hit suddenly (i know exactly when i damaged the rib, it was a thursday night! and so painful) and not only i couldn’t breathe, but i was also crippled. even getting out of bed hurt. sneezing was the worse thing next to death.

so now i think i am on the other side of that crap finally.

i am not 100% yet. i still get pain in my rib area. sneezing is still unpleasant. and that’s over a month after. i also lost about 5kg.
on the plus side, i am training again at almost full speed. slowly rebuilding the strength i lost. i am back to 64 pull/chin combined sessions with dips and push ups. and to practicing technique like flags, muscle ups, planches and even crucifix. but my old injuries are showing up again, like an inflamed wrist and biceps, as i guess i am pushing harder than ever.
nevertheless, nothing can stop this buffness train so with the help of modified moves and wrist guards/compression sleeves, we will make it. the rib is almost not bothering me much anymore. i can feel the lats are protecting the area alongside the bruised intercostals.
my back is a little painful as i was unable to stretch it fully for so long. so now to get the area between my shoulder blades released will take ages as the whole thing stiffened to the max to protect the damaged rib.
the road will be long and i am having to hack my nutrition again to make sure i don’t lose even more weight due to intense training.
until recently i was taking arnold’s iron mass by muscle pharm. slightly annoyed that they don’t really mentioned the amounts they use for stuff like creatine and all, but that’s fine because it worked well despite a sickly sweet taste. but lately, something strange had started to go on. i had this constant sweet taste in my mouth. like from first thing in the morning on an empty stomach to the moment i fell asleep. at first i didn’t think much of it. but then it started annoying me. so i looked it up. google mentioned cancer, diabetes… etc
after days i saw a post on a body building forum. someone complaining of the same thing. turns out that sucralose can do that (and other sweeteners). guess what muscle pharm use. yup.
so i stopped. and after a week or so, the weird taste went away.
unlucky, now am left w no supplement as i refuse to take this shit, god knows what it does to my insides.
so i resorted to making my own mix. am still waiting to receive my order from atm, but i ordered whey protein and some oat powder. no flavours for either, as any type of flavour involves sweeteners.
atm a friend lent me their “macro:meal” mix which is in effect a meal replacement:

Unflavoured: Carbohydrate Blend (38%) (Ground Oats, Aktivated*®* Barley Starch Powder), Protein Blend (34%) (Whey Protein Concentrate (Milk), Milk Protein Concentrate, Whey Protein Isolate (Milk), Egg White Powder), Flaxseed Powder (Cold Milled) (6%), Emulsifier (Soy Lecithin)

Screen Shot 2016-03-06 at 19.02.40

apart from its gritty texture (which i think might be due to the barley powder), it’s not too bad provided that you use a blender of sorts. i mix it w whipping cream, full fat milk, coconut oil, almond or peanut butter and chocolate powder. not sure how many calories it adds, but am pretty sure i wouldn’t advise it for someone trying to slim down put it that way.

i wanna be buff… i don’t know where to start or what to do!

so you have decided you want to be buff but don’t really know how to go about it? or you’ve tried in the past and it didnt work.

firstly, congratulations for deciding to do something about your fitness. now that’s it for the standard PT blurb. from now on it’s zaki speaking.

the key thing to understand when you want to get fit is that being fit is a lifestyle. it’s not something you “achieve” it’s something you reach and then maintain. it requires an understanding of your body and what you put in it as well as how you use that body.
i have heard countless times ppl saying they did a fad diet for a month, lost weight and then put it back on straight after they went back to their normal habits. this just proves the point i made above. as a general rule. most ppl do not seem to understand that being fit is not just for xmas.

so how do we go about it? diet and exercise should go hand in hand as one alone will not get/keep you fit. but let’s talk about diet first.

you need to examine your eating patterns and habits seriously and then take steps to rectify (if needed). a lot of ppl do not have breakfast for example which is one of the nastiest things you can do to your body. when you wake in the morning, your body is starved of nutrition for 8+ hours. during your sleep, your body repairs itself,  and builds muscle. it’s important to give it quality nutrition first thing.
what is quality nutrition then? well yet again i need to digress a little bit and talk about the different food groups, like protein, carbs and fats. protein is what everyone talks about. it’s the building block of muscles and many many other boring things. fats are the vilified category (tho essential to maintaint our bodies!!!), which is actually not as problematic as carbs. carbs are of 2 sorts: the complex ones and simple ones. (am simplifying this for the sake of brevity, this is just an overview, feel free to go find out more on the mighty google!)
carbs are a source of energy for our body, and we do need them. but we need to look at our intake of carbs and the type of carbs as well when we eat that rice or that mars bar.
fast release carbs (like a mars bar) affect our blood sugar levels very fast, and give us the exciting sugar rushes which are almost always immediately followed by the dreadful crash where we struggle to keep our eyes open in front of the computer. i know all about it, for years i relied on that can of coke to keep me awake after lunch!
back to the breakfast. a cereal bar isn’t healthy. cornflakes aren’t healthy. do not believe Kellogg’s brainwashed propaganda. we aren’t fucking cows and do not need to eat grains to be healthy. and having just a coffee is definitely not healthy!
do you want to know what i think is healthy? bacon. fucking BACON. it’s high in protein, it’s high in fat and and contains hardly any carbs. your body will find a source of building blocks in bacon and fat to burn as energy.
so have bacon and eggs for breakfast. have copious amounts of water. you can thank me later. as for the “i have no time in the mornings” excuse, PLEASE spare me. just get up earlier. come on. make it work. you think it’s easy for anyone who does that? hell some ppl go to the gym at 5am to make it work w their workload!
so what happens after breakfast. it is preferable (tho sometimes it requires a lot of organisation) to ingest food more often in the form of smaller meals, rather than wait sometimes 6 hours before your next meal consisting of mostly chips and ale. so i would like to suggest as much as possible to have a healthy snack mid morning, like nuts and a fruit maybe. and water. HYDRATE!
then comes lunch. if you must have carbs, now is the time. moderate amounts of carbs are ok. but make sure you eat some greens. kale, spinach, broccoli whatever as long as it’s dark green. there is no such thing as eating too much green veg! you could for ex have chicken breast with roasted sweet potatoes and broccoli. whatever. just prepare it the night before. freeze it. anything will do. get organised. take lunchboxes. if you won’t thank me, your wallet will.
mid afternoon. you’re comatose from lack of your usual soda sugar boost. time to get that healthy snack out again! nuts. oatcakes w peanut butter, apple quarters dipped in almond butter (my favourite!).
dinner, do something similar to lunch. do not eat just before bed. drink water instead. but not too much as it will make you pee… you’re starving before bedtime? have cottage cheese. something casein based. NO CARBS.

oh and as a side note, i’d recommend avoiding sodas. they’re a nasty piece of work. and that counts for the sugar free ones too. they’re just full of toxic shit and will deplete your bones. in fact if you want a soda, for the love of your cancer free self, have a “full fat” one.
and look at the ingredients in the stuff you’re eating. avoid the manufactured shit, avoid EEEE stuff, and check the contents in terms of calories and nutrition.
note that i didnt say anything about alcohol. it’s a waste of my digestive system frankly and of my saliva to talk about alcoholic beverages. but ok some ppl think it’s fun, and some might like the taste of it (it’s ok to have a gourmet sip of something expensive that said!).
just be aware that the pint of lager you are sipping on will go straight to your waistline, and ladies, that goes for the wine ending up on your thighs (and if it’s a red it makes you look like a witch too and stains your teeth!).

so well, to summerize i guess what am saying is, be organised and plan your meals ahead, have healthy “pit stop” snacks during the day to combat the carb cravings, and check what you eat.

now let’s talk about exercise. as i mentioned earlier, dieting without exercising is like sex without climax. it just doesn’t get the job done.

so, the reason why your body isn’t burning many calories is simple. you don’t move enough. it’s easy enough to remedy that, yet ppl don’t do it. you have to exercise clever. you want to maximize the impact of a workout and keep the workout itself short and sweet. do not run for 30 mins unless you’re training to be a marathon runner. that’s stupid and you will injure yourself.
how about i told you that if you ran for 4 mins you could crank up your metabolism the same way as if you ran for hours on end?
yup… 4 mins. TABATA intervals. ask me or look it up yourself if you’re too proud.
forget cardio. it’s useless (i said it!).
you wanna lift. lift heavy. lift intense. dont stop. like they say, “train insane or remain the same”.
you wanna exercise everyday. you want to follow your progress. i am not gonna give you a generic workout, because just like a diet, we’re all individuals and some things work for some but not others. (if you want a workout email me or leave a comment and i will do it. however, as this is my job as a PT, i do charge for that. advice is free, but workout plans aren’t!)
but as a guideline, think high intensity interval, deadlifts, kettlebells, squats, battle ropes and the like. you will feel like your heart is about to come out of your chest. it’s normal. it’s the point.
and once you start seeing results, you will be hooked. you will then spend your whole office shift thinking of your next workout and how you will hit that rope trainer, and how you will blast through that plateau on the smith machine. your metabolism will process the food you ingest to the best of its capabilities and you won’t need to read this kinda blog entries anymore. instead you will look at your friends and go “hey mate, wanna check out the gym with me later tonight? i have a free pass”. and when they say “haha it’s friday am going for a pint you fool” you will think that your mate doesn’t know what’s fun. or perhaps that’s just me.

right well i hope this article is a little helpful. i know i insist on things like lifestyle choice. but the truth is, it is. and unless you really want to be fit and commit yourself to that quest, nothing will happen.
join me. now.

a day in the life

i think looking at someone’s diet and regime is interesting and sometimes can give ppl ideas. i am not on a weight loss program. quite the opposite. i am one of the genetically gifted ones. i struggle to NOT lose weight.

atm i am off the protein shakes to give my body a rest from the chemicals. i still supplement around workouts w creatine and bcaas. but nothing else. normally, the below is supplemented by 2 high calories protein shakes. one in the morning instead of the muesli, and one just before bed.
for reference, i have a rather sedentary job, but i make it as painful as possible by going up and down the stairs a lot.

8am. wake up and drink a glass of water as soon as am off my feet to overcome dehydration from the night.
8.30am. breakfast 50-70g swiss style muesli w added blueberries, w semi filtered cow milk.
8.50am. 5 mile cycle ride to work. full pelt. fixed gear. sweat a lot.
10.30am-11.00am. breakfast#2 2 slices of bread w 2 slices of roasted ham type meat w lurpak butter.
1.30-2.00pm. lunch consisting of a generous slab of meat or 2, sweet potatoes w chili or boiled potatoes or pasta w chili and pesto, and greens (varying amounts, when i have time to prepare it’s salad w grated carrots, feta and cherry tomatoes, w olive oil and balsamic)
4.30-5pm. snack time generally bread w peanut butter or ham again. i use brown bread generally, w added seeds.
5.30pm 5 mile cycle back. full pelt.
6ishpm creatine and orange juice pre workout
6.30 workout
7ish orange juice w bcaas post workout
7.30-8pm dinner time. similar to lunch but generally bigger portions and followed by tea and sometimes mince pies if near enough xmas.
10pm snack time humous w pitta bread and avocado or cherry tomatoes, or cottage cheese w bread.
12am bedtime (more or less respected. i never get my 8 hours sleep ever, which is NOT a good thing!)

so as you see, i try to add as many small meals as possible around lunch and dinner. i firmly believe it’s the key to keeping your metabolism high.

for those trying to shed weight i would recommend having many small portions a day, loading up on protein as opposed to carbs and fast sugars. and workout workout workout. train, do more, do cardio, weights whatever, but DO SOMETHING. always be on the move. become perpetual motion. the enemy of overweight ppl is a sedentary habit. sitting down too much. stand up, wave your arms. fidget w your legs, BURN CALORIES! get your metabolism revving.

not easy i hear you say? (and god knows i have heard it a lot “oh you’re just a lucky git you can eat what you want”, “i have a slow metabolism i can’t help it”)
well wake up and smell the coffee sunshine. nothing is easy. i didn’t get the body i have by sitting on my arse and postponing til tomorrow. i stood up and worked hard. day in day out. i suffer from multiple injuries (some self inflicted by my own ignorance) and workout through/around them. working out IS painful. you will ache. be out of breath. sweat like a pig. feel like your heart will jump out of your chest. vomit your lunch under the strain.

life is painful. embrace the pain. work to be who you want to be. it starts NOW. not tomorrow.

that sounds like a rant right? well i guess it is. i just get annoyed when ppl just expect results without putting in the effort. nothing is easy in life.

it takes dedication, stubbornness, persistence and a healthy dose of obsession to get where you want to be.

weight gain: to graze or not to graze?

so after 5 weeks without training i have lost 4kg (make that 3kg, i have put on 1kg since i started writing this article).
prob not just my upper body as i got a lovely burn in my legs from cycling for the first time again.

this prompted a debate w my flatmates about diet and food intake.

now that i can start training parts of my body again it’s time to get back to LOMAD. since i have started cycling, my appetite has increased again thankfully so it’s time to eat these calories.
however, i am not a big fan of massive meals. so i tend to graze all day long. which is why LOMAD is useful in the sense that i can drink a lot of milk all day, making sure that i am hydrating (am on creatine) and nourishing at the same time.

i am probably an ectomorph “hybrid” (if such things do indeed exist). see the table below for a description of what the hell that is supposed to be (taken from my PT training notes):

and a slighty more dance oriented description (from some dance kinesiology book, click on the pic for details):

now a word of caution about the somatotypes, i do not necessarily agree w all this but it is a good start for understanding how bodies function and how differently they respond to exercise and nutrition. the best approach is to try out different ways of bulking up, and pick elements of each diet that work on your own particular body.

one of my flatmates is an acrobat and hellbent on having LARGE meals fewer times a day (particularly dinner time). her argument is that while rehearsing, she cannot afford to graze as digestion impedes her ability to do physical stuff. her other argument is that to beat a fast metabolism and make it slower, grazing is the worst possible thing as it will only increase the metabolic rate.

this article is pretty interesting:

this article feels semi sponsored by the gaspari team (oh btw i used their myofusion powder in the past, very good results and lovely chocolate taste but oh so pricy).

basically they argue that skinny “hard gaining” types should eat little and often, and pair that diet w a training consisting of HEAVY weights.

“An ectomorph needs to focus his or her efforts on muscle building and eating regular meals like 5-6 every 2-3 hours but in smaller portions. Forget about the 3 big meals per day. Just because you’re an ectomorph doesn’t mean you need to gulp down tons of calories in one sitting. This is actually a wrong way of eating. Instead, by providing your body with a constant supply of food and vital nutrients divided into 5-6 small meals, not only do you boost your metabolism but you also stimulate more body growth. Nutrition is crucial because not eating properly won’t yield desired results no matter how hard you train. Knowing what to eat(quality of the foods), when(every 2-3 hours) and how much(5-6 meals in smaller quantities) is fundamental for gaining weight and muscle mass.”

i have always thought there were other ways to deal w (lean) weight gain than sitting down 3 times a day to eat 1kg of food in one go w a tub of butter to top it all up.
i tested this approach and this is the ONLY way i found to put on weight which left me feeling good about myself (and prevented a build up of fat! not that i put much on, but i want to put on LEAN mass not fat, and i know it’s possible without going through the dreaded “pile on the pounds and cut” system so many body builders rave on about).

but this way does take dedication too.

first you must stick to the eating. it can be difficult when you are at work and focused on something (or training for that matter). personally i have food on my desk at all times. i try to make sure i have 3 core meals a day and snacks all around that. my day typically starts w a hardcore shake (see previous posts for ingredients), morning snack(s), lunch, afternoon snack(s), dinner, pre bed snack (bring on the cottage cheese and toast). i am sure a physical performer could graze all day if the right arrangements were made. like using protein shakes and taking sips throughout rehearsal times etc…

second you must train regularly to ensure you break muscles and rebuild them with all the nice nutrients injested: atm am still recovering from surgery but am trying to have 3 workouts a week. weights mostly. plus i cycle 5 days a week about 10 miles a day to get to work. and that’s not tourist cycling, but full on racing, on a fixed bike too (not enough adrenalin otherwise). without regular training there will be NO muscle gains. oh and stretching isn’t training btw, it’s stretching (which has its place pre and post training!). the kind of training i mean hurts, makes you out of breath and gets your heart pounding. and it lasts for a good 45 mins. (another post will come about this, duration, reps etc, but this post isn’t the place). it’s meant to damage your muscles so hypertrophy can occur as a natural reaction to exercise that challenges your strength. so beware of “maintenance” training. you want to challenge yourself EVERY single workout and destroy these muscles to the fibres rebuild bigger and stronger.

lastly, cheat and boost your intake w LOMAD. i can’t seem to stop going on about it heh? well the reason is that it bloody works. drinking one litre of milk a day adds a nice amount of calories and protein to your normal grazing diet.

i found that i am able to train shortly after eating one of my daily meals/snacks (unless i am too lazy to do so) and definitely more than capable of training after my morning shake (i cycle practically straight away at a very rapid pace). i think the key here is how easily assimilated the food is. so better smaller portions of easily digestible food that go down quick and do not focus so much blood on the stomach, than a massive meal which will leave you sleepy and bloated, and needing a loo 🙂


muscle nutrition

what a lovely surprise this morning to wake up to a delivery from

as soon as i get back from my holidays in Japan the training / nutrition will start properly. the parcel consists of:

for a while i tried out the LOMAD diet, as mentioned in Tim Ferriss’ 4 hour body book:

this seemed to do the trick. particularly when starting the day with a “special shake”:
– 500ml semi skimmed milk (i use cravendale to avoid stomach upsets)
– 1 banana
– 3 teaspoons almond butter (more than that and you die i think)
– 40g hard gainer MP powder
– 3.5g creapure

stick all in blender and press play.
throughout the rest of the day i would add another 500ml of milk (minimum) in between meals.

i find persistence and consistency were the key elements in a steady weight increase. i.e. if you’re gonna do this, do it properly and do not miss a meal. especially not breakfast, which i would try to have at about 11am (the 9am shake would stop me from being hungry til about then). lunch at 2pm, a snack at 4.30pm and dinner at about 7pm (almost certainly followed by yet another snack before bedtime, or more milk).

i find the hard gainer protein powder to be an interesting mix of qualities:

Per 80g:
Energy: 304kcal
Energy: 1272kj
Protein: 23.5g
Carbohydrates: 49g
Fat: 1.2g

this mixed together w milk and almond butter becomes quite a good combo from the protein and energy perspective. (even tho i only use 40g in my shake, my current body weight is short of 60kg, i do not need THAT MUCH protein in a day)

my body seems to respond well to creatine, particularly in the sense of strength and stamina increases. though i seem to get a great pump from it too 😀

atm am working a little without it, but there is no point starting a loading phase when i am about to go to Japan for 10 days monday. i find it harder to work without my shakes and creatine.