Rapid Fat Loss Handbook Review (Lyle McDonald)

The Rapid Fat Loss Handbook: a Scientific Approach to Crash Dieting Review

I have been following the career of Lyle McDonald for almost twenty years.  His writing is some of the best (if not the best) stuff you can find on the subject of fat loss and body transformation.  Lyle’s take on rapid fat loss is a great addition to the body of work he has produced.   Here’s my review:

In an ideal world, we’d all be willing to slowly but surely lose weight. But we are not in an ideal world, and “crash dieting” can have its place. There are several reasons one may want to lose weight fast:

*Limited time until an important event, such as a bodybuilding contest, athletic competition, high school reunion, wedding, etc.  When you are up against a proverbial wall you may not be willing to do a more “balanced” approach to diet and fat loss.

*There’s a psychological advantage to seeing the numbers on the scale going down quickly–sometimes we are more likely to stay on the diet when we know it is extremely effective.

*Dieting isn’t fun, so some of us (yours truly included) would rather just do a “hard” diet and get it over with.

The Rapid Fat Loss Handbook was designed to help to help people do a “crash diet” safely and effectively. He answers some of the following questions:

What type of diet will help me lose fat while keeping most (or all) of my muscle mass? Remember—muscle loss is not what you want.

How can I use breaks/cheats to maximize the diet’s effectiveness?

How many calories should I eat for maximum fat loss?

How much exercise should I do while on this kind of diet? His answer may surprise you (hint: more is not always better).

How can I keep the fat off once I go back to a maintenance phase?

What supplements can help ensure I get the essential nutrients while crash dieting?

Lyle’s writing is thorough, but not overly technical. I also appreciate his understanding of the psychological aspects of dieting—something other authors overlook. Last but not least, the book has just enough humor to make you laugh every once in a while—a nice touch.

Now let me share who I think this diet/book is best suited for:  rapidfatlossreview

*People who are extremely focused on losing fat to the exclusion of all other goals.  This is not a muscle-building program or lifestyle program–it is a crash diet.

*Those who are willing to stick to an extremely strict diet for the purpose of maximizing results.  This is not going to be an easy diet–your food choices will be severely limited.

*People who desire to “kick-start” their weight loss for a few weeks before switching to a more moderate program.  This may be a good strategy for men and women who want to start their body transformation with serious momentum.

*Athletes/competitors who need to quickly drop weight while preserving as much lean mass (muscle) as possible.

If any of these describe you then I think you’d find Lyle’s book to be a worthwhile investment.  Just CLICK HERE to order or to learn more.

You can also check out my other recommended programs if you think something else would better suit your needs.

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MI40X Review (Mass Intentions Extreme 2.0): CEP Exposed

MI40 Review (Mass Intentions Extreme 2.0): a look at Ben Pakulski’s program featuring the cell expansion protocol (CEP).

The newly upgraded version of Mass Intentions came out last month.  I’ve had the opportunity to look over this program and I’ll share my review with you.  I’ll start with a general overview of what you get if you decide to order this training program:

The Rapid Action Start Plan:

You’ll go to a members page immediately after ordering this program.  It takes a little trial-and-error to navigate it, but it’s not hard to figure out.  This page starts with an introductory video by Ben in which he explains how to get the most out of this program.  I would recommend you watch this intro video in it’s entirety and not try to skip directly to the training.

The Training Phases Summarized

Primer phase: this regimen last for three weeks and it is designed to help your body prepare for the intense workouts to come.

Phase 1-2–high volume: As the name implies, you’ll be doing a lot of sets/reps during these phases.  Each body part will be trained twice a week (one workout will be higher weight and the other higher reps).

Phase 3–power/hypertrophy: you will be training with heavier weights during this part of the program.

Phase 4–strength training: workouts for increasing your capacity as far as your one-rep max goes.

Phase 5 –dealoading: this is an “easy” phase which will allow both your central nervous system and your muscles to rest–preparing for the next phase.

Phase 6–overreaching:  you’ll go through an intense time of training right after you deload.

Phase 7–hyper recovery phase:  This time is not so intense on training and is designed (as the name implies) to help you maximize recovery.

You can download pdf files (workout sheets) to guide you through each of these before-mentioned phases.

The whole program will last for 18 weeks if you do it as prescribed (which is what I recommend).

You also have the option of selecting your level of training experience (beginner, intermediate, or advanced).   This means you could repeat the program through progressively difficult levels and maximize your purchase.

 Cell Expansion Protocol (C.E.P.)

One of the central concepts to MI40X is Cell Expansion Protocol (C.E.P.).   MI40x has ten downloadable videos explaining this in detail (Ben discusses this with a Ph.D.).  But I’ll explain the basic idea:

One of the keys to muscle size/growth is the muscle cell’s unique ability to contain/acquire more than one nucleus.  Muscle cells basically “borrow” nuclei from satellite cells when exposed to certain stimuli (like lifting weights).  This transfer of nuclei is a key component of building muscle.  Mass Intentions Extreme 2.0 shows you some specific techniques to make your training even more likely to cause this cellular process to occur.

The Videos

MI40X includes a complete video library, organized according to body part training.  I was really impressed with the quality of the videos.  A few years back most programs only had low-res, small videos.  This is (thankfully) no longer true: the videos I’ve downloaded have really good resolution, even in full screen mode.  Just keep in mind they are big files and may take a little while to download (depending on your internet connection speed).

Here’s a screenshot of the chest workout:

MI40XReviewChestTraining300I think you’ll find the video content to be the highlight of this program–watching the videos is as close as most of us can get to hiring Ben as a personal trainer.

Nutrition Guide

One of the most overlooked aspects of building muscle (and fat loss) is diet.  Be sure to follow the MI40x nutrition guides so you’ll have the right fuel for your training and recovery.  The more meticulous you are with your meal planning, the better your results will be.

Supplement Guide

I’ll give you a word of caution here: I’d recommend you just stick with very basic supplements (whey protein, creatine monohydrate, etc.) of brands that you trust.  I’m sure Ben’s recommended brands are fine, but don’t stress over supplement brand/budget.  Stick to the basic supplements and focus more on training/nutrition.

Additional Programs:

What I have just reviewed is the basic MI40X package.  You will have the option of buying additional products/programs.  You don’t have to order them to get what I’ve described above.   But they would be worthwhile if you find some of them meet your needs.

Review:

I think MI40x is a worthwhile investment for certain types of trainees.  Here a few that come to mind:

1.  Intermediate or advanced trainees looking to break through plateaus in building size and strength.

2.  Trainees who have hypertrophy (size and strength) as their main goal.

3.  Those who are willing to invest time and effort to finish 18 weeks of carefully planned training and nutrition.

If this describes you then I think MI40X would be a good investment for you.  It is not the cheapest program out there, but I think you’ll be satisfied with the amount of content you get for the money.  This program lasts 18 weeks, so 11 dollars/week isn’t a bad deal for something that will help you reach your goal.  Just CLICK HERE if you’d like to learn more about this program.  Please use MY LINKS if this review has helped you.

UPDATE: SPECIAL DISCOUNT (Monday-Friday only)

You can get a 33% discount when you order MI40X from my website (while the offer lasts).  Just CLICK HERE and use the following code in the coupon section of the ordering page: RVUUEPY

The coupon entry looks like this:

MI40XReviewCoupon

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Sugar and Testosterone

SugarI’m sure you know too much sugar is bad for you.  But it seems every day I learn something new about the negative effects of eating (or drinking) too much of it.  We know, for example, that sugar and refined carbohydrates causes inflammation, and I’m convinced this (inflammation) is the main culprit in cardiovascular disease (even more so than cholesterol).

Here’s something you may not know–sugar can temporarily suppress testosterone.  I can point to at least one study that confirmed this:

Researchers were interested in knowing whether or not men tested for hypogonadism (low testosterone) should be tested in a fasted state.  74 men were given 75 grams of glucose (the standard dose for a glucose tolerance test).  Their hormone levels were monitored at 30 minute increments after taking the sugar.  They found that testosterone levels were suppressed by as much as 25% and remained so at the two-hour mark (120 minutes).  All subjects experienced this suppression, regardless of whether or not they had other health issues related to glucose tolerance (diabetes, etc.). Some subjects had normal testosterone levels, yet the suppression caused enough drop to (temporarily) put them in the same range as men who suffer from hypogonasism.1

We do have to keep a few things in mind here: the drop in testosterone was transient, this is only one study, and insulin is an anabolic hormone in its own right.

But I didn’t realize just how drastically one insulin spike can affect other hormone levels.  Drinking sweet drinks all day could negatively affect your testosterone levels (in addition to the other health issues).  A 20-ounce soda on an empty stomach would pretty much duplicate the conditions of this study (a bottle would have 65 grams of sugar).

This is another reason I like the Renegade Diet style of eating.  It seems limiting your intake of carbohydrates/sugar throughout the day is a reasonable strategy for optimizing your testosterone levels.

Reference:

1.Clin Endocrinol (Oxf). 2013 Feb;78(2):291-6. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2265.2012.04486.x.
Abrupt decrease in serum testosterone levels after an oral glucose load in men: implications for screening for hypogonadism.

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Diet Soda Weight Gain

Does diet soda cause weight gain?  I’ve been meaning to write about this for some dietcoketime.

Let me start by saying this: I have a diet soft drink every once in a while.  According to conspiracy theorists I should be dead soon (or at least have grown an extra appendage or two), but I feel just fine.  Yes, I’ve always been a little skeptical about the alarmist articles floating around the internet regarding the dangers of artificial sweeteners.

Now let’s consider something else: we know that sweet drinks (like regular sodas) are a major factor in obesity.  One of the first things I tell people who want to lose weight is to eliminate all liquid calories (except milk).

But diet sodas have also been demonized, and I’ve run across articles claiming they cause weight gain (and other random health problems).  Most of these drinks have zero calories, so there are only a couple of scenarios I can imagine that would cause diet soda to be associated with weight gain:

The first possibility is that artificial sweeteners cause some kind of insulin response. But I’ve yet to find any convincing evidence that any artificial sweetener affects insulin (sorry–don’t feel like citing and analyzing every study I’ve read on this).  Unless I see some new definitive research I’m comfortable saying diet sodas have little to no hormonal impact as far as fat loss goes.

The second possibility is that drinking diet soda is connected with weight gain in some indirect way.  Remember: correlation is not the same thing as causation.   Consider this: what if those who drink large amounts of diet soda simply haven’t “trained” themselves to lower their intake of sweet drinks/food?  This scenario (or something like it) would easily explain why some researchers find a connection between drinking diet soda and weight gain.

A recent study done by Dr. Jim Hill has caught my attention (Dr Hill is a physician at the University of Colorado’s Anschutz Health and Wellness Center).  It was funded by the beverage industry, but it seems to be pretty well-designed.  300 subjects were divided into two groups.  One group was told to drink only water and completely avoid all soda consumption.   The other was allowed to drink diet sodas.  The subjects were followed for 12 weeks.  The “water-only” group lost an average of 9 pounds, while the diet soda drinkers lost an average of 13 pounds (this study was conducted by

What’s the lesson here?  Something I’ve written about several times: compliance. Water is certainly a better choice than any kind of soda (diet or regular).  But those who were allowed to use artificially sweetened drinks simply had an easier time complying with their diet–this helped them be more successful in their efforts to lose weight (much like those who eat carbs at night).

The bottom line: I don’t see anything wrong with using diet sodas if they help you avoid liquid calories and stay within your daily caloric limit.  I would encourage moderation, of course, but that goes for about anything you consume.

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The Man Diet Review Chad Howse

The Man Diet

The Man Diet

I’ve had a chance to review The Man Diet by Chad Howse. I’m always interested in
learning new ways to boost testosterone naturally, so I enjoyed reading through his suggestions.  Let me start with a summary of what you get if you decide to order these books.

The Man Diet (main manual/e-book):  This is Chad Howse’s introduction and explanation of the diet.  He explains why it is so important to maximize your testosterone and shares how you should eat if that is your goal.  He also includes other lifestyle methods you can do to help boost your levels of the manly hormone.

The Man Diet Meal Log:  This is a simple way to keep records of the types of foods you are eating to ensure you are on track.

The Man Diet Cheater’s Guide: Howse explains how you can use strategic “cheating” (eating the foods you love) while staying on track with your overall fat loss goals.

QuickStart Guide: This is the summarized version of the program–you can use this to get started immediately while you study the details later.

Supplement Guide: As the title implies, this is the author’s suggestions for supplements to maximize your testosterone.

You also get unlimited updates if you choose to order this program.

Optional Products:  You’ll have the option of buying additional products if you decide to order this program.  You do not have to order them but you can if you choose to.

#1 Man Workout: This is a well-designed training program to help you build strength/muscle and lose fat (which will help with testosterone levels).  You may not need this one if you are an experienced trainee who knows how to work out.  But it would help guys who are out of shape and need a program to get started training again.

#2 Epic Sex Drive: These e-books have tips specifically designed for increasing libido.  I especially appreciate the fact that the author recommends against viewing sexually explicit material.  I believe porn does a lot of harm and can cause erectile dysfunction (visit yourbrainonporn.com for more details).

#3 Cookbook:  This e-book has recipes that are consistent with the dietary recommendations the author makes in the program.

Evaluation:

I was familiar with many of the recommendations made in this book.   There are a lot of similarities between The Man Diet and The Renegade Diet, which is a good thing (it means both authors know their stuff).   But I did pick up a few new strategies that I haven’t heard before, especially in regards to the timing of specific supplements/nutrients.

There are a couple of disagreements I have with the author in regards to his supplement advice.  He recommends specific brands of supplements.  I’m sure the brands he promotes are fine, but I’d recommend you shop around for better deals.  Vitamin D3, for example, is available at any drug store.  He also recommends tribulus in one of the books, which I don’t completely understand–a recent study has confirmed that it does not boost testosterone.1  I wish he had recommended maca powder instead (it won’t boost testosterone, but there’s some evidence maca is good for libido).  He could have also included the Citrulline-Arginine combination for sexual potency.

Conclusion:  Overall The Man Diet has a lot of good tips for boosting your T levels.  I think the author has listed about everything you can do short of testosterone replacement therapy.  I think this would be especially helpful for older guys who are looking to implement every possible strategy towards this goal.  It’s also a good value (the going prices is about 20 bucks at the time of this post).  Just click here if you’d like to order this program or learn more about it.

Note:  This review/product is not intended to replace medical advice.  Low testosterone cannot always be resolved through diet/exercise and can be medically dangerous (it can increase your risk of cardiovascular disease, etc).  Be sure to talk with your doctor about this.

Reference:

1. Actas Urol Esp. 2014 May;38(4):244-248. doi: 10.1016/j.acuro.2013.09.014. Epub 2014 Mar 14. Tribulus terrestris versus placebo in the treatment of erectile dysfunction: A prospective, randomized, double blind study.

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Advanced Giant Set for Abdominal Muscles

I was going through some old papers today and I ran across this advanced giant set for abs.  I printed it out from some website back in the 90′s (not sure if the before-mentioned website even exists anymore).

Here it is:

Hanging Leg Raises

Hanging Leg Raises

Hanging leg raises–15 reps, 2 second intervals

Hanging bent-knee raises–5 reps, 1 second intervals

Lying 6″ leg raises–30 reps, 1 second intervals

Rest for 15 seconds, then

Lying 6″ leg raises–20 reps, 1 second intervals

Reverse crunches–20 reps, 1 second intervals

1/4 twisting sit-ups–35 reps, 2 second intervals

Rest for 10 seconds, then

1/4 sit-ups–35 reps, 2 second intervals

Crunches–20 reps, 0.5 second intervals

Unless specified, no rest between sets.  Make sure to breath out during the contracting phase of the motion.

What I like about this is you progress from difficult to easier movements as your abs get fatigued.

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Muscle Explosion 2.0 Review

Nick Nilsson has updated Muscle Explosion, a program I reviewed a while back (you can muscle-explosion-20check out my original review if you are interested). This program is based on the same principles as the original but he has tweaked it to make it even more effective.  What’s new with the version 2.0?  I’ll explain.

1. A day of fasting.

One of the strategies in Muscle explosion is to get your muscle glycogen levels low through certain dietary strategies.  In the this revised version you’ll have the option of fasting for 24 hours (kind of like what is proposed in Eat Stop Eat).   The idea is to prime your body/muscles to “bounce back” once you refill them why glycogen (by eating carbohydrates again).

2. Reverse Carb Tapering

You will be advised to try eating most of your carbs at dinner (your last meal) during the third and fourth week of the program.  The idea is to minimize fat or even promote fat loss (similar concept as the Renegade Diet).  Nilsson calls this “reverse carb tapering,” and it is explained in more detail in the program.

3. Supplements

Some new supplement brand recommendations have been added.  But I would recommend you just stick to reputable brands and take a minimalist approach to supplements (protein, creatine, fish oil, and a multivitamin).

4. Fat Loss Circuit Training

Nilsson has tweaked the fat loss aspect of the training.  You’ll be doing movements that involve the whole body instead of bodypart split training.  You should find this workout more interesting (and challenging) than what was in the original version.

5. Lactic Acid Training

The original Muscle Explosion utilized partial training methods (stretched and contracted positions) in the lactic acid training phase.  But the new version uses more conventional methods for this–high repetitions and rest-pause training.  You’ll find this to be a simpler way to get the lactic acid going.

6. Positions of Flexion 1 and 1/4 Rep Training

Nilsson found has replaced stretch-pause training with this method.  This is better to maximize the tension on the muscle you are trying to train.  It also allows for a better stretch and contraction.

7. Weak Point Training

The new program has a day dedicated to target the weak points of major lifts.  You will do a lot of volume on weak points without frying your central nervous system.  The result should be stronger overall lifts.

8. Single-Rep Cluster Training

The original Muscle Explosion was more for hypertrophy and didn’t really include strength training.  You’ll be dedicating a full day to strength in the the new program through a method called single-rep cluster training.

Review:

I think Nilsson has taken a great program and made it even better with Muscle Explosion 2.0.  This would be good for intermediate to advanced trainees who are looking to break through plateaus in building strength and size.  Please click here if you’d like to order this program or learn more.

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Farmer’s Walk

farmerswalkI first remember seeing the Farmer’s Walk while watching the World’s Strongest Man contest.  It’s a test of overall body strength as well as endurance.

Today I tried it for the first time.  I really like the idea of doing exercises like this as “finishers”–movements to burn extra calories and work on conditioning after you’ve lifted weights.

My gym doesn’t really have any special bars or equipment for this, so I just grabbed some heavy dumbbells. It worked pretty well but it would have been difficult to do in a gym that is small and/or crowded.

I really like the way this exercises taxes your whole body.  You can also step in such a way that you’ll add some calf training (tiptoe at the end of each step). I’m going to try it again next week now that I’m starting to get the hang of it.

Two More Tips:

1. Grip tends to give out before anything else, so you may want to use lifting straps at some point.

2. One-handed farmer’s walk will give your core a great workout (because your core muscles will have to keep you upright during the movement).

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Body Transformation: Sara Gentry

I came across another remarkable transformation a few days ago.  The before/after picture below belongs to Sara Gentry, a personal trainer from Arizona.  She has graciously agreed to share her story with us, so here goes:

Sara Gentry (Before/After)

Sara Gentry (Before/After)

Kevin: Sara thanks you for taking the time to do this interview. Why don’t you tell my readers a little bit about yourself (education, work, etc.).

Sara: I currently work for Anytime Fitness as one of their Certified Personal Trainers, something I had wanted to become since about 6 months into my journey.

Kevin: Let’s talk about the “before” version of you. Did you always have weight issues (since childhood) or did you gain weight after you became an adult?

Sara: I had always been a bigger girl–I gained and lost here and there throughout my adult life.  It wasn’t until my last child that I became heavier than ever.   It lasted about two years before I finally said, “enough is enough.”

Kevin: What was the breaking point for you? What made you decide it was time to change your lifestyle and body?

Sara: The breaking point for me was the day I got married.  That day that was supposed to be the happiest day of my life, but instead I was miserable. I hated myself; I hated how I looked and couldn’t believe that I had let myself go so far. I didn’t like my wedding photos and told my husband, “just wait, one day we are going to have good pictures.” It’s been nearly three years since we were married and I’m hoping we can take some new pictures on our three-year anniversary.

Kevin: How much weight have you lost overall (you can also include measurements such as body composition if you want)?

Sara: I have lost a total of 103 lbs. I went from a size 28 jeans to a size 4/5. I never really went by other measurements during this journey, but plan to start using them for other purposes such as upcoming physique competitions.

Kevin: I noticed the before/after picture shows about a three-year span. How long did your transformation take? Where you tempted to give up?

Sara: It took 16 months for me to lose 103 lbs.  I maintained that loss for a year, then decided to study to be a Certified Personal Trainer. I received my certification this year in January.  Back in August (2013) I also decided that I wanted to try competing in a physique competition.   I started preparing and took the stage in March 15, 2014, where I won 4th place. What an awesome experience that was for me!

Kevin: Was there a particular dietary method you found to be most helpful (or the easiest to follow)?

Sara: I never followed a “diet”, I counted calories in the beginning for an entire year, then kind of knew how much I could eat and went off on my own. Once I started training for the competition, I had to start counting macro-nutrients.  This was much harder to learn than just regular calories. There is so much more to learn, every day learning something new about nutrition.

Kevin: What advice would you give to someone who wants to make a transformation like yours?

Sara: I would tell them to not give up!  I have found that the key to staying motivated is just doing it, over and over. Make yourself do it until it becomes habit. People around you can inspire you, but motivation has to come from within–you have to want this. You have to want it bad!  It’s going to suck at times and you will hate it, but do not let that stop you.

Kevin: I see you are a personal trainer. Would you ever have imagined this before your transformation years ago?

Sara: The thought never crossed my mind. I actually wanted to be a chiropractor for a very long time. I absolutely LOVE helping people achieve their fitness goals and I couldn’t imagine doing anything else in this life.

Kevin: Do you plan to continue competing (fitness competitions)?

Sara: Yes, I did the NPC Natural Outlaw in Arizona on March 15, 2014. It was the most amazing experience to date and I plan on doing another in about a year.

Kevin: Please tell my readers about your diet and exercise regimen (in very general terms).

Sara: Currently I eat around 1800 calories a day, still counting macros:  protein, carbs and fats are the main things I count.   I also eat a ton of veggies and fruit. I weight train 6 days a week and do some type of cardio 6 days a week as well (kickboxing, HIITS, biking, hiking, walking, running, or the elliptical).

Kevin: What’s next for you?

Sara: My next goal is to do another competition in a year. I want to learn more about nutrition in the next year and step it up at the next competition. I would also like to get certified in cardio kickboxing and take a few nutrition classes.  Other than that, I will keep training at Anytime Fitness and keep moving forward.

Kevin: Is there anything else you’d like to say/share?

Sara: There are going to be many people who will belittle you and tell you that you can’t do this, that this is impossible. Do not listen to them. It is possible. It is very possible. There will be plenty of haters along the way, let them hate while you rise above!

Kevin: Thanks again for your time!

SaraGentryBodyTransformationNote: You can visit Sara’s Facebook Page: Gentry Reality Fitness if you’d like to follow her or inquire about personal training.

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