You are viewing a back issue of FitTips for One and All email newsletter.
Subscribe to receive future issues. Click here to view additional back issues.
FitTips for One and All - Vol. XII, No. 2
FitTips for One and All
Volume XII, Number 2
Presented by Fitness for One and All
Director: Gary F. Zeolla
You are currently registered to receive the FitTips for One and All newsletter. This newsletter is published about every other month. To change your email address or to unsubscribe, use the link at the end of the newsletter.
God-given Foods Eating Plan - The approach of this book is to study different foods and food groups, with a chapter devoted to each major classification of foods. First the Biblical evidence is considered, then the modern-day scientific research is reviewed. Foods are then classified as "God-given foods" and "non-God-given foods." The main point will be a healthy eating plan is composed of a variety of God-given foods and avoids non-God-given foods.
Regaining Muscular Bodyweight and Strength
By Gary F. Zeolla
After I stopped powerlifting almost five years ago (in 2009) due to my worsening health, I still kept trying to work out, but I had to cut way back on the intensity and weights used. As a result, I lost my appetite and thus lost 7-8 pounds of muscular bodyweight and lots of strength over the next four years. Then last summer I had a particularly bad spell health-wise, and I lost another 6-7 pounds in a short span of time and further strength.
But starting near the end of last year (2013), I began to make some gradual improvements, and was able to gradually increase the intensity and weights in my workouts. As a result, my appetite began to come back, and I began to gradually eat more and to regain muscular bodyweight and strength.
At this writing (4/2/14), I have finally gained back the weight I lost last summer. And I am now able to work out at a moderate intensity and with greater weights. I'm still far from where I was five years ago, but the improvement has been substantial, and I am confident it will continue. So in this article I will detail the steps I took to turn things around.
I had been taking creatine in one fashion or another ever since I first started powerlifting again back in 2003. And I continued to take it until the fall of 2011. With taking it the entire time I was in powerlifting training mode, I was never sure if it was doing any good or not. But as my health began fading and I ceased to be able to work out at any kind of intensity, I stopped taking the creatine. I figured there just wasn't any reason for it.
After I stopped taking it, my strength and bodyweight really began to drop. I just assumed that was due to the continuing fading of my health. But after the dramatic weight and strength loss last summer, and with continuing to lose even more weight and strength over the next few months, I figured it was worth a try to start taking creatine again.
As soon as I started to take the creatine, there was a noticeable difference in my strength levels. It was then that I was able to start to gradually increase the weights that I was using, rather than gradually dropping them as I had been having to do for the previous four years. This turnaround could easily lead me to proclaim that creatine does in fact work. And that is one possibility. But there is another, more complicated possibility.
The human body makes creatine, just as all mammals do. That is why it is found in red meat. But with taking creatine endogenously, it is possible that caused my body to stop making creatine, and with taking it for eight years, maybe my body lost the ability to make it. So when I stopped taking it, my body wasn't able to start to manufacture it again, and I was left with no creatine for the ATP-CP cycle, which is how the body produces short bursts of energy for exercises like weight training. And with no creatine for that cycle, that is possibly why my strength loss became even more dramatic, but then I made the turnaround when I started taking creatine again.
In other words, maybe I would have been better off never having taken it in the first place. But there is no way for me to know at this point. All I do know is that I will continue to take it for the foreseeable future.
As such, I'm not sure what I would recommend to the reader. If you're not currently using creatine, maybe it's best you don't start. That way, your will body will never lose the ability to manufacture it, and you won't have to bother with the expense and trouble of taking it.
Or maybe wait until you've made significant progress in strength training, and then try it. If it causes you to make even greater progress, great, keep taking it, but maybe "cycle" it, meaning, take it for a few weeks then stop it for a few weeks. That might keep your body from losing the ability to create it. If it initially doesn't help at all, then stop it altogether before your body loses the ability to create it.
Re-adding a Morning Snack
As I mention in my God-given Foods Eating Plan book, I had been consuming six meals a day for many years: breakfast, a morning snack, lunch, an afternoon snack, dinner, and a bedtime snack. I believe such a pattern is best for health reasons, as discussed in the book, and it is even more important for strength athletes as it is important to consume protein at regular intervals.
However, due to my worsening health, I had to start taking medications that caused me to sleep more than normal. As a result, I was getting up too late to consume a morning snack. There just wasn't enough time between breakfast and lunch to warrant one.
But over time, it seemed like my body had adapted to the medications, and ceased to need so much sleep. So I started getting up earlier, and that enabled me to add in a morning snack. At first, I really wasn't hungry, but I knew that adding in a snack would be a good way to add some calories to my diet. So I forced myself to eat something.
At first, it wasn't much, just a piece of fruit. But then as I got used to that, I was hungry for a little more. I knew that some source of protein would be the best thing to add for gaining muscular bodyweight. But I had to think of something easy and quick and that didn't require refrigeration for at least a couple of hours.
I work out of my home, but in my basement, and the fridge is upstairs. I could go upstairs to get a snack, but I'd prefer not to waste the time and to just eat in my home office. So what I came up with was a hard-boiled egg, as eggs provide the highest biologically available protein of any natural food. I know some think eggs are unhealthy due to their cholesterol content. But I've been eating four eggs a week for a long time now, two twice a week for my bedtime snack, and my cholesterol levels are just fine. So I doubt increasing from four to seven will make that much of a difference. I just had to come up with something else to replace those two bedtime snacks.
In any case, since it had been a while since I made hard-boiled eggs, I did a quick search on the Web as to how long to boil them. But what I came across was a little different. A Web site recommended putting the eggs in a pot in a single layer, then filling it with cold water until the water is an inch above the eggs. Then cover and heat the water until it comes to boiling. Then turn off the heat, leaving the pot covered, and let the eggs sit in the hot water for about fifteen minutes.
Some comments after the article said that it worked, but others said they ended up with soft-boiled eggs. But someone suggested that when the water comes to boil, to turn down the heat some and let it boil for just one minute, then turn off the heat and let the eggs sit. I tried that, and it worked. And as a plus, with this method, you cannot overcook the eggs. I make seven at a time, and they keep in the fridge just fine for a week, and the egg doesn't spoil in the couple of hours it's unrefrigerated on the day I eat it.
But then after a while, an egg and a piece of fruit wasn't enough, so I wanted to add something else. With already having my protein source, which also provides a small amount of fat, and a healthy piece of fruit, the next thing to add would be a source of carbs for muscle glycogen-replenishment. And for that I remembered some oat crackers and cookies I used to eat, but had stopped due to my reduced food intake.
The brand name is Nairn's. It's a Scottish company. They're a little expensive, but not too bad, and they're very healthy, being mostly whole grain oats and all natural. Even the cookies are healthy as they only have two grams of sugar each, but still taste very good. So now I'm eating one or two of these cookies with my morning snack.
I used a similar pattern for the rest of my meals. I gradually increased my food intake. My normal breakfast is oatmeal, with nuts and fruit mixed in it, and a cup of reconstituted protein powder. I was using just 1/2 a cup of dry oatmeal, and small amount of nuts. But I gradually increased that to about a cup of dry oatmeal and a larger handful of nuts.
The best way I've found for making oatmeal is to use quick oats. I put the oats and water in a glass bowl, cover it, and microwave it for two minutes. Then I add the fruit, stir, and then microwave it for another minute. I use a small banana or half a large one or a cup of thawed out frozen berries. With using these soft fruits and microwaving them, they basically "melt." I then add the nuts and stir again. In this way, the fruit is blended throughout the oatmeal, and it is thus "flavored" by the fruit, so no sweetener is needed. And don't worry; just one minute of microwaving will not significantly reduce the nutrient content of the fruit.
Don't use instant oats, as the glycemic index is too high. But there is no significant difference between quick and rolled oats, and with the greater ease of cooking, quick oats is the way to go.
My normal lunch is a sandwich, using sprouted grain bread and some kind of meat, poultry, or tuna fish, and maybe some grated cheese, and about a cup of stir-fried veggies. I increased the amount of the meat to add calories and protein. And to add even more healthy calories and protein, I began adding half a cup of legumes to the stir-fried veggies.
With being stir-fried and mixed in with the other veggies, the legumes taste okay. And to reduce the "gas" producing effect of legumes, I put them in a colander and rinse them off. That removes whatever causes the problem, along with some of the added salt as I use canned beans for the convenience. Dried beans would be less expensive and slightly healthier and have no salt, but they are much more difficult to prepare. But if you use them, again, be sure to rinse them off well to reduce the gas-producing effect.
For my afternoon snack, on workout days, I had been consuming a pre-workout drink for many years. I discuss the ingredients in my Eating Plan book and in my powerlifting book. But I had decreased the amounts of each ingredient from the time those books were written due to my decreased appetite. So I was going to just re-increase the amount of each ingredient.
But frankly, I had gotten tired of just drinking calories. It takes just a few seconds to down it, and that produced little culinary satisfaction. So I wanted to consume some kind of solid food, but one that would still provide the needed protein, carbs, and fat for a pre-workout food, along with liquid to be hydrated for the workout. It took a while, but I thought of the perfect thing: cold cereal.
I had been missing eating cold cereal ever since I switched to oatmeal years ago as it is healthier. But the maltodextrin in my pre-workout drink was good for the carb source in terms of providing energy for the workout, but it is just that, pure carbs, with no nutrient value otherwise, so I figured a whole grain, low sugar cereal would be an improvement over that.
So my pre-workout snack is now a bowl of such cereal, with again, fruit and nuts added to it. The fruit is usually raisins, as they are easy to digest, and I limit the nuts to a very small handful. I've found a small amount of fat wards off hunger during the workout, but too much sits in my stomach. I also add creatine.
Instead of milk, I use protein powder. That way, I can put a scoop of dry protein powder in the bowl after the rest of the ingredients, and then cover the bowl. I use a glass bowl and cover it with plastic wrap, as I'm just taking it downstairs. But if you're taking it out of your home, I'd recommend getting some Tupperware cereal bowls, with lids. Either way, it keeps without refrigeration. When it's time to eat it, I just pour in some water from the water bottle I always have at my workstation, and stir with a spoon. It reconstitutes just fine. Just be careful not to stir too hard and spill it!
This snack is much tastier than just guzzling a drink, but it still provides the carbs, protein, fat, and liquid for a workout. I consume the cereal about an hour before my workout. It digests sufficiently in that time so as not to disturb my workout and keeps me fueled throughout my workout. If you're eating it after a workout, then omit the fruit as it is not good for muscle glycogen replenishment. I address that complex issue in my books.
My favorite cereal brand is Barbara's, a natural brand, especially their Morning Oat Crunch (formerly called Shredded Oats) and Multigrain Spoonfuls (formerly called Shredded Spoonfuls). They are what I want, whole grain and low in sugar.
I alternate between peanuts and cashews in my morning oatmeal, and eat almonds at bedtime (more on that in a minute), so for something different, I use pecans and Brazil nuts in the cereal. As I mention in my Eating Plan book, just one or two Brazil nuts a day will provide a full day's supply of selenium, an important nutrient for men as it helps ward off prostate cancer. So that is what I use in the cereal, along with several pecans.
On non-workout days, I was eating just a piece of fruit. But I added in a can of sardines. Don't squint. If you get the right brand, they can be tasty. I get Brunswick, available at just about any grocery store. I get then canned in water with no salt added. Sardines are incredibly healthy, being a great source of protein, omega 3s, calcium, and other nutrients.
But they do need to be eaten chilled to taste good. So if I'm not able to eat them right out of the fridge, I will put them in the freezer for about an hour. In that way, they're still chilled a couple of hours later when I do eat them. You probably could freeze them solid, if it will be several hours until you eat them. For even more calories and protein, I might add a Nairn's cracker or two, with some peanut butter or almond butter and brown rice syrup on them.
My normal dinner is some kind of meat, poultry or fish, a baked potato, sweet potato, rice, or quinoa, a couple of servings of some kind of steamed veggie, and a salad. I put either olive oil or flax seed oil on the salad. To increase calories and protein, I have increased the serving size of the meat. And before, I wouldn't always eat the starchy food, but now I always do.
My bedtime snack is a normally plain yogurt with almonds mixed in. I used to only eat about half a cup of yogurt, but have increased that to a full cup, and I increased the amount of almonds. Even my doctor told me that is a great bedtime snack as both the yogurt and the almonds aid sleep. Again, don't squint about the plain yogurt. It does take a little getting used to, but with the added "crunch" from the almonds, I've learned to actually like it.
A couple of times a week I used to eat eggs at bedtime. But with eating seven eggs a week for my morning snack, I was afraid that continuing to eat four for my bedtime snack would be too much. Plus, I didn't seem to sleep as well when I ate the eggs.
So Instead, I now get a boneless turkey breast, cook it, and portion it off in snack zip bags, and put them in a freezer bag and freeze them. I then thaw out one when I need it, and heat it up with a little healthy oil in a covered pan. The turkey also seems to aid sleep. And the yogurt plus almonds or turkey provides protein, which I think is crucial to eat at bedtime when trying to gain muscular bodyweight.
As can be seen, my normal diet is all very healthy foods, the type of foods I recommend in my Eating Plan book. Most of the foods are organic or at least all natural, as I recommend in my book. If I was just trying to gain bodyweight of any kind, then any type of calories would do. But I want to gain muscular bodyweight. And I want to do so in a fashion that improves my health. So my attitude towards increasing my caloric intake has been that it gives me an opportunity to consume even more healthy foods.
The key in increasing the intensity and weights in my workouts has been to do it gradually. Attempting to dramatically increase things could lead to overtraining or even injury. I use an "Alternate Weeks" routine as outlined in in my powerlifting book. So I only do the exact same workout every other week. And I've been adding 2-1/2 to 10 pounds to each exercise each workout, depending on the exercise. That's not much, but I've been able to do so for each workout for months now. And over time, those small increases have made a significant difference in the poundage I am now handling as compared to before. As stated, I'm still far from where I once was, but the increase is very satisfying.
This is very important. For a long time, as my health was worsening and I was thus losing strength and bodyweight, I was getting very discouraged, dreading my workouts, and was just about ready to give up even trying to work out. But I just made up my mind to make a turnaround. The creatine helped get me started, but once I started improving, my attitude towards working out has gradually improved, so that now once again I am looking forward to working out.
Hard to Find Foods
Most of the foods mentioned in this article can be found in most any major grocery stores. But for some others, you might need to go to a health food store or online. I get the following items from iHerb. If you order from this Web site, use coupon code HOP815 to get $5.00 off your first order.
NOW almonds, pecans, and Brazil nuts.
Jarrow Formula's Organic Flax Seed Oil.
Lundberg Organic Sweet Dreams Brown Rice Syrup.
For the protein powder, I use a 50/ 50 mixture of Optimum's Nutrition's Natural Whey and Natural Casein. As the names imply, there are no artificial ingredients. And as a plus, the milk for the protein powders is derived from hormone-free cattle. ON's products can be purchased at a variety of Web sites.
Results and Conclusion
After months of these gradual changes, I'm now averaging about a half pound of weight gain a week. That might not sound like much, but again, over time, it adds up. And by gradually adding weight, it is mostly muscle, not fat. My health is improving somewhat. My attitude not just towards working out but about life in general is getting better. And I don't seem to need as much medication as before, which is leading to further improvement.
I'm still struggling health-wise, but I'm dealing with it better. My faith in the LORD helps much in this regard as well, which has been improved by some lifestyle changes I've made related to my Christian faith. But a discussion of that would be more fitting for an article on my Darkness to Light Web site. So I will close this article by saying, if you're in a bad state health-wise, things can turn around. Or if you want to gain muscular bodyweight for whatever reason, you can do so. Just make up your mind to make gradual changes, and over time you'll see significant improvements.
For further details on healthy eating and proper strength training strategies, see my God-given Foods Eating Plan and Starting and Progressing in Powerlifting books. For the latter, if you're not interested in powerlifting, see the article Powerlifting Book: Beneficial for Non-powerlifters. In fact, since I'm no longer powerlifting, I'm following the tips in that article myself.
Starting and Progressing in Powerlifting:
A Comprehensive Guide to the World's Strongest Sport
350 page book by Gary F. Zeolla
For the beginner to intermediate powerlifter
Sound training, competition, dietary, and supplement advice
Also by Gary F. Zeolla:
Darkness to Light Web site and Darkness to Light newsletter.
Christian Theology, Apologetics, Cults, Ethics, Bible Versions, and much more.
is the personal Web site for Gary F. Zeolla.
Author of Christian and of fitness books, Web sites, and newsletters.
Disclaimer: The material presented in this newsletter is intended for educational purposes only. The director, Gary F. Zeolla, is not offering medical or legal advice. Accuracy of information is attempted but not guaranteed. Before undertaking any medical treatments or diet, exercise, or health improvement programs, consult your doctor. The director is in no way responsible or liable for any harm ( physical, mental, emotional, or financial) that results from following any of the advice or information in this newsletter.
All material in this newsletter is copyrighted © 2014 by Gary F. Zeolla or as indicated otherwise.