Muscle Matrix Solution Review (Ryan Hughes)

I’ve had a chance to look over the Muscle Matrix Solution by Ryan Hughes. I’ll start of this review with a little information about the author.

Ryan Hughes

Ryan Hughes
Ryan Hughes

Hughes first started training when he was a teenager. He was 6’1″ tall and weighed only 135 lb. But he had a passion for training and was able to compete in his first bodybuilding competition at age 19. He would eventually become one of the first IFBB Men’s Physique Pros, an International Fitness Cover Model, and a well-known trainer and fitness professional. He is considered one of America’s top personal trainers and has appeared on nationally syndicated television shows.

Muscle Matrix Solution Program Components (Summary)

Now let’s talk about what you get if you decide to order the Muscle Matrix Solution:

Once you make your purchase you will get an email with login information. As you can see (by looking at the screenshot) you begin with a welcome page. The navigation tabs on the top of the page will take you through the rest of the program:

musclematrixsolutionreviewwebsite

Introduction:

This section includes an overview of the program in video form. Hughes walks you through what the program includes and how to set it up specifically for your needs. Some of the topics he discusses are optimizing hormones (like testosterone), training, diet, and supplementation. He also gets into some motivational issues that will hopefully help inspire you to get started and stick with it.

There are also two downloadable pdf files in this section: 1. Welcome file/e-book, and 2. Cover Model Secrets, which explains some of the final steps bodybuilders/models take to get ready for a photo shoot or contest.

Training:

Ryan Hughes explains the workouts in this section (which he calls Matrix Training). His program combines three different styles of training, all of which are proven to be effective individually. The idea is that these training techniques will work together synergistically when combined. The workouts are set up in three different tracks: beginner, intermediate, and advanced. Progression is built into the workouts so will improve in the amount of weight you use, the amount of reps you can do, and the amount of time you rest in between sets (you will be able to get by with less rest time as you progress through the program). He goes on to explain the specific set and rep range you’ll be doing.

There’s a downloadable file where you can see the actual workout plan (the specific exercises, set/reps, etc.).

Keep this in mind: the program is set up for you to do brief, intense workouts (about 45 minutes). You won’t be spending all day in the gym, but you will have to train hard–these workouts will not be easy.

Nutrition:

Hughes’ nutrition plan is based on three key principles:

1. Flexibility: This doesn’t mean you can eat pizza and ice cream every day. It does mean that you can eat foods like this every once in a while in moderation. In other words, you can follow this lifestyle without having to plan your entire life around a 24/7 strict diet.

2. Meal Timing and Nutrient Combination: You will be guided in eating certain types of foods according to the time of day and/or your training. You will try to eat most of your carbohydrates, for example, in the evening after you train. This advise may sound different that what you’ve heard before, but it does work (based on my personal experience–I eat most of my carbs either after I train or at dinner).

3. Macronutrients: Ryan explains the role of protein, carbohydrates and fats and how you can manipulate your intake of these to build muscle and burn fat.

There is downloadable file you can use to read about these principles.

This section also includes a nutrition calculator. You can use this to customize your eating plan for your specific needs.

Supplementation:

The video and the pdf file breaks down Hughes’ recommended supplement protocol. This is one area where I have some disagreements with the author. I personally do not believe any supplement can significantly increase testosterone and nothing he wrote has changed my mind. Instead of getting into details I’d rather just give my standard advice: stick with basic supplements like whey protein powder, (micronized) creatine monohydrate, a multivitamin, and fish oil. Use these basic supplements with reputable brands and you’ll do fine (and you’ll keep more of your hard-earned money).

The Exercise Library:

Drag Curl Demonstration Video
Drag Curl Demonstration Video

This is another nice feature of the Muscle Matrix Solution. I always appreciate video demonstrations of exercises and these are well done.

Conclusion:

This final video/pdf wraps up the program. Hughes talks about defining your goal(s) that were on your mind when you ordered and implemented this program. He recaps all the program components (training, nutrition, etc.) and encourages you to embrace what you have learned as a lifestyle. He also mentions an insider’s coaching club you can join if you choose to.

Bonus Material:

This section has the Abdominal Accelerator program available for download. This is a plan for those who want to spend 30 days focusing on maximizing their fat loss. I think this would work really well with or without the supplements mentioned.

REVIEW:

I think the Muscle Matrix Solution program is put together very well and will get results if you follow both the training and the nutrition plans. The set and reps Hughes recommends makes sense to me because it is a good mix of strength and hypertrophy (growth) rep ranges. I found the material to be well organized and easy to navigate.

Who would this program benefit? A few types of people come to mind:

*New trainees who want a step-by-step system to guide them on their journey of building muscle and/or losing fat.

*Intermediate or advanced trainees who have reached plateaus in their training and are ready to try some new workout techniques.

*Guys who want to look better–those who want to build a lean, muscular physique and be more self-confident.

If what I have described sounds like you then I think the Muscle Matrix Solution would be a good investment for your training library. Just CLICK HERE if you would like to order this program or learn more.

Probiotics and Weight Loss

EscherichiaColi_NIAID

Good Bacteria and Gut Health

I’m sure most of you know that our digestive system (especially the colon) is full of “friendly” bacteria.  We’re just beginning to understand their importance for overall health, especially in the immune system.

Eating yogurt is one way to facilitate a healthy balance of these microorganisms in your gut.  Probiotic supplements have also become more popular as we realize the importance of healthy bacteria.  I think these supplements are useful–especially if you are having digestive issues or have had to take antibiotics (which tend to kill both “good” and “bad” bacteria).

But I’ve also seen probiotic supplements marketed as weight loss aids.  One theory is they make the intestines less permeable and less able to absorb fat calories.

Do probiotic of supplements really help with weight loss?

Scientists recently did a meta-analysis of the current research regarding probiotic supplements and weight loss.  In case you aren’t familiar with the term, a meta-analysis means that researchers analyzed the data from several studies.  This means the findings should be more reliable than that of just one isolated study/experiment.   Here is their conclusion: “The meta-analysis of these data showed no significant effect of probiotics on body weight and BMI.”1 They did note, however, that the number and quality of the studies is limited at this point.

There’s no conclusive evidence that probiotics help with weight loss, but researchers have noted connections between gut microorganisms and metabolism.  There seems to be a link, for example, between the prevalence of certain intestinal bacteria with metabolic diseases (like diabetes). Having said this, I don’t think we can even be sure if such links are cause or effect.  It’s entirely possible that bad eating habits (a high intake of sugar and processed carbohydrates) cause this before-mentioned prevalence.

Conclusion:

Right now there is not enough evidence to say probiotics help with weight loss.  But it isn’t a bad idea to use them–especially if you have recently taken antibiotics (for surgery, sickness, etc).  These supplements are inexpensive and useful for overall health.

Just remember a diet and exercise program is the key to losing weight.

Reference:

1. Nutr Res. 2015 May 21. pii: S0271-5317(15)00103-7. doi: 10.1016/j.nutres.2015.05.008. Probiotics for weight loss: a systematic review and meta-analysis.
2. Curr Opin Pediatr. 2015 Jun 17. Influence of the human intestinal microbiome on obesity and metabolic dysfunction.

Stubborn Fat Solution Review Lyle McDonald

I  read Lyle McDonald’s Stubborn Fat Solution years ago.  Here’s my review (with some StubbornFatSolutionReviewupdated ordering information):

As some of my regular readers know, I’ve been a “fan” of Lyle’s for over a decade now (since I read The Ketogenic Diet back in the 90’s). I knew this would be a good read.

Summary:

Lyle explains the way fat functions–the way our body stores it and uses it. He then explains the issue of stubborn fat (usually the hips/thighs in women and “love handles” in men). There are specific issues which cause stubborn fat to be . . . well . . . stubborn (circulation, hormones, etc).

There is some surprising information here. Lyle noted, for example, that female fitness models used to tell him their upper bodies were getting leaner while their lower bodies seemed to be getting fatter. At first he dismissed this, but his research led him to believe there may be something to this claim.

Lyle proceeds to give a solution to the problem: a specific exercise/supplement protocol designed to first mobilize, then oxidize stubborn fat. What he says makes perfect sense, and he backs up his statements with research.

Now, let me explain something: this is not a book for those who have significant weight to lose (you may want to check out his Rapid Fat Loss Handbook/Guide to Flexible Dieting package if you have a lot to lose). It is a resource for those who are already fairly lean and need some help getting rid of the before-mentioned problem areas.  If that describes you then I think you’ll find The Stubborn Fat Solution to be the only thing short of plastic surgery that works.

UPDATE:

UltimateDiet20Lyle is now offering two more books as a part of this package: The Ultimate Diet 2.0 This is a complete manual of  diet, training, and supplements for those who want to get lean while preserving as much muscle mass (and strength) as possible.  I know of some professional bodybuilders who have used this diet to prepare for competitions.

This package also includes The Ultimate Diet 2.0 Addendum.  This book addresses what you should to to prepare for the diet and what to do when you take breaks from the diet.

Just click here if you’d like to learn more about The Stubborn Fat Solution and The Ultimate Diet 2.0.

Examine.com’s Supplement-Goals Reference Review

A few weeks ago I was given the opportunity to look over Examine.com’s Supplement-Goals ExamineReference Guide. I’m familiar with some of the contributors to this website, so I had a feeling it would be worth my time.  It definitely was–here’s my review:

I really like the way this reference is laid out.  You can look up any supplement and find out the possible benefits of taking it (hormonal, performance, etc.).   You can also look up a particular desired effect and see how the evidence is “graded” (A-D) based on the number of studies (grade A would be very strong evidence; grade D would be very weak/limited evidence).  I’ll show you a couple of screen shots.  Here’s part of what you would get if you looked up maca (supplement search):

ExamineMaca

This is only part of the result–if you have the reference you’ll see a grade for virtually every possible effect (libido, depression, etc),

Here’s part what you would get if you looked up an effect, like increasing testosterone:

ExamineTestosteroneKeep in mind this is not something you would want to sit down and try read all the way through–it’s just too massive for that.  As the name implies, it is a reference–something to be used when you want specific information.

I’d recommend the Examine.com Supplement-Goals Reference Review without hesitation.  It only costs $40 for lifetime access–I’d say it is worth it for the amount of money and time you could save.  Just click here if you want to check it out.

 

 

Garcinia Cambogia (Hydroxycitric Acid) Review

A few weeks ago I saw a website advertising garcinia cambogia extract.   The websitegarciniacambogiareview claimed it was a “miracle fat burner.”  It also claimed those who used the supplement in a study lost an average of about 20 lb in under a month  “without diet or exercise.”

The website seemed to be set up to give you a “free sample” then bill you and start sending you a bottle every month (a favorite tactic of the people that push this kind of product).

I decided to do some quick research.  A 2011 study revealed this supplement had a protective effect on the kidneys of rats that were fed a high fat/sugar diet (but the rodents still got fat, so I’m still not sure where fat loss claims are coming from).1

I did find a double-blind, placebo controlled study that was done with human beings.  Overweight men and women were divided into two groups.  One group was given garcinia cambogia extract supplements, the other a placebo.  They ate a low calorie diet for twelve weeks.  As expected, all subjects lost weight.  But there were no differences between those who took the supplement and the ones who took the placebo.  Here’s what I find really interesting:  this study was published over 15 years ago (in 1998).2

A study published about nine years ago (2004) compared two groups of subjects who were put on a 2,000 calorie a day diet.  Half took garcinia cambogia, the other half a placebo. Both groups lost weight, but the group taking the supplement only lost .2% more weight than the placebo group.  Not exactly mind-blowing.3

Maybe I’m missing something, but I don’t understand why this supplement is being touted as some miracle fat burner.  Heck, I don’t even know why it is being called “new.”  This is why you have to be very cautious with any marketing regarding weight loss supplements.

One final reminder:  never sign up for a “free trial” that requires your credit card number.

References:

1. Lipids Health Dis. 2011; 10: 6. Published online 2011 January 14. doi: 10.1186/1476-511X-10-6 Protective effect of Garcinia against renal oxidative stress and biomarkers induced by high fat and sucrose diet

2. JAMA. 1998 Nov 11;280(18):1596-600. Garcinia cambogia (hydroxycitric acid) as a potential antiobesity agent: a randomized controlled trial.

3. J Med. 2004;35(1-6):33-48. An overview of the safety and efficacy of a novel, natural(-)-hydroxycitric acid extract (HCA-SX) for weight management.

101 Ways to Increase Testosterone Naturally Review

I’ve had the chance to look over 101 Ways to Increase Testosterone Naturally by Ryan 101WaystoIncreaseTestMagin.  I’m always interested in learning ways to boost testosterone, so I enjoyed reading through this one.  Here’s my review:

As advertised, this 27 page e-book has over a hundred tips for minimizing your estrogen and maximizing your testosterone.  Magin’s suggestions can be broken down into about four categories: foods, herbs/spices, supplements, workout advice, and miscellaneous tips/tricks (I’m not really listing these in order).

Overall I found this e-book to be helpful, easy to read, and informative–I learned some new things to try and even some things to avoid (or keep avoiding).

I would caution the reader not to get overwhelmed, especially when it comes to Magin’s supplement advice.  Try following the lifestyle advice first, add some of his suggested vitamins (like vitamin D), and don’t worry about the more exotic stuff (like Tribulus Terrestric, etc.).  I’m extremely skeptical about any kind of “testosterone booster” supplement based on the current research.  I believe lifestyle changes (diet, exercise, etc.) are the most important keys to increasing the manly hormone, so that’s the advice I was more interested in while reading.

I’ll share one area where I strongly disagree with Magin.  He encourages the reader to “watch more erotic entertainment,” citing research that doing so can cause a temporary spike in testosterone levels.  I’m a Christian, so I think this is terrible advice.  Even if you don’t object to this on any kind of moral/spiritual basis, there is a growing body of evidence that viewing adult material can actually cause impotence with “real” women, especially when done to excess.

Conclusion:  This e-book is good, but not great.  You can read my article on raising testosterone naturally if you’re interested in a few simple tips.

Alternative program: You may want to look into The Man Diet if you want a complete plan to boost testosterone.

ECY Stack: Ephedrine, Caffeine, and Yohimbine for Fat Burning

A lot people come to this blog looking for information on the ECA Stack (ephedrine, caffeine, and aspirin) and for Yohimbine HCL.  Both are effective supplements, but I will repeat something I’ve said before–don’t take ephedrine and yohimbine together.

primaforce-yohimbineI’ll explain the issue just in case you haven’t read either post: ephedrine is a beta-agonist, meaning it stimulates beta receptor sites.  Yohimbine is an alpha receptor antagonist, meaning it temporarily blocks alpha receptors (“stubborn” fat tends to have more of these alpha receptors, so “turning them off” temporarily can coax them to release their stores).

The problem is your heart has both beta and alpha receptor sites.  Taking both of these drugs at the same time can be kind of like pushing the gas pedal and the brake at the same time.  There is a real risk of a dangerous increase in heart rate and blood pressure.  

Here are the two options I would consider:

1. Use the ECA stack until you get relatively lean, then switch to yohimbine, or

2. Spread the doses out enough for one to wear off.  You could take yohimbine/caffeine, for example, before doing some fasted cardio in the morning then take the EC stack four or five hours later.

Just be careful and use common sense.

 

Creatine Side Effects and Safety

My regular readers/subscribers know creatine monohydrate is one of the few supplements I believe in (see also: Does Creatine Work?).  I’ve been using it for years without any problems, and the extensive body of research speaks to the efficacy and safety of this supplement.

Let’s first talk about safety.  One of the concerns I hear about is possible kidney problems, but I don’t see why this would be an issue for those without any preexisting disease.  The Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition recently published a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled studied done on trainees who were also eating a high protein diet.  Subjects were randomly chosen to either take creatine monohydrate (a loading phase of 20 grams a day for five days, followed by maintenance of five grams a day) or a placebo.  Researchers found so significant differences in kidney function between groups after 12 weeks.1

Now let’s talk about side effects.  The two I hear about most often are gastric issues (stomach upset, etc.) and bloating.  I’ll address both:

I think the simplest solution to avoid any gastric issues is to buy micronized creatine and use warm water to dissolve it before you drink it.   I believe most people have problems because they try to drink this supplement undissolved.  Here’s the issue: creatine doesn’t dissolve very quickly in cool liquids.  Water and other liquids are likely to pass through with undissolved creatine still sitting around in your guts. The body will attempt to solubilize (dissolve) substances like creatine that remain in the digestive tract in powder/granular form.    This is often accomplished by drawing fluids out of the cells inside the digestive organs.  As you can imagine, this isn’t likely to feel good.

creatinemonohydrateNow to the bloating issue.  Creatine causes fluid retention in the muscles, so I’m a little skeptical when it comes to claims of bloating.  I believe this problem is normally the result of inferior formulas that contain sodium and sugar.  It could also be the result of a horrible diet (blame the supplement, not the pizza).  I’m not aware of any research to back up the claims of “bloating.” One study, in fact, found that creatine use did not affect fluid distribution.2

There’s one more thing I should mention in this discussion.  Some unscrupulous supplement companies will try to hype up these supposed side effects of creatine because they are trying to market some “new improved” formula.  Don’t fall for it.

References:

1. JISSN 2013, 10:26 doi:10.1186/1550-2783-10-26 Does long-term creatine supplementation impair kidney function in resistance-trained individuals consuming a high-protein diet?

2. J Athl Train. 2003 Mar;38(1):44-50. Creatine Supplementation Increases Total Body Water Without Altering Fluid Distribution.

Deer Antler Spray Review

Anabolic Antlers?
Anabolic Antlers?

There has been a lot of hype and controversy regarding Ray Lewis and deer antler velvet spray supplement.  The buzz happened right around the time of his Super Bowl appearance, and supplement sales skyrocketed overnight due to the intense media coverage.  The World Anti-Doping Authority just gave the green light to this supplement, meaning is not on their list of banned substances.  This news may put deer antler spray in the spotlight once again.

This supplement supposedly contains Insulin-like growth factor 1 (IGF-1), a hormone associated with muscle repair and growth.  IGF-1 has been used medically for treatment of growth failure in children, and bodybuilders have experimented with it as a way to build more muscle (they use a form called Long R3 IGF-1, which has a longer half-life).  But any therapy/use of these hormones happens through injections, not oral medication.

Want to hear something really ironic?  The New Zealand Medical Journal published a study just weeks before antler-mania took the news media by storm.  Researchers looked at several studies and assessed the benefits of deer/elk antler supplements.  Their conclusion: “Claims made for velvet antler supplements do not appear to be based upon rigorous research from human trials, although for osteoarthritis the findings may have some promise.”1

There’s no reason to believe this supplement will give professional athletes any advantage, and I don’t plan to spend money on it any time soon.

Reference:

1. N Z Med J. 2012 Dec 14;125(1367):80-6. Health benefits of deer and elk velvet antler supplements: a systematic review of randomised controlled studies.