With the Superbowl upon us, the media feels that we need to be entertained at all costs, even if that means to do absolutely no research anymore.
Case in point: the so-called deer antler spray scandal, supposedly involving Ray Lewis and other well-known athletes.
What is the scoop? According to several news outlets, these athletes used deer antler spray (yes, you heard that right) in order to obtain a dose of igf-1 and therefore perform better. Another PED story in professional sports, so it must be true, right?
After all it was on TV and has Homer Simpson said :TV never lies"
Let's take a closer look at all this. First off, what is igf-1 or insulin like growth factor? In short, it is a very powerful peptide hormone, consisting of a long string of amino acids.
In rats, the substance has shown to increase muscle mass (even cause hyperplasia i e the creation of new muscle cells) and to decrease adipose tissue or body fat.
But before you go out and start chewing on some random deer in order to get huge and ripped like our bushy-tailed friend in the picture, consider this: most humans do not have any rats in their family tree (what you think of your cousin has no bearing here for the moment). So what works in animals doesn't have to work for humans.
Furthermore, IGF-1 is a very fragile substance that can not be dropped or shaken without losing its potency. It also needs to stay stored in the fridge. I highly doubt that the makers of deer antler spray follow these guidelines.
Lastly, and most importantly, IGF-1 only works via intramuscular injection, so a spray or topical cream are just a waste of money.
ESPN and others could have found all this out within a click of the mouse, but I guess the story was to tempting.
There you have it, another myth busted.
A while back, we went to see Bill Cosby perform live in NYC. While the first half hour was so-so, he did deliver some pearls of wisdom.
One that I liked in particular was about some guy named Phil in Pennsylvania, who apparently makes the best Thanksgiving stuffing on the face of the Earth. Bill finally sits him down and asks for the recipe, so Phil says: "I take Stove Top stuffing." Bill: "And?" Phil: "Nothing. I do what the box says. People always add things to the stuffing that simply do not belong there. Just do what the box says."
Stick to the basics! The same applies to weight training and getting shape. Do not do any crazy diets, take 2-hour cardio classes, or use insane amounts of drugs.
Do what the box says, stick to the basics, keep it reasonable.
1. Have a plan. Why do you workout? Where do you want to be in 3 months?
2. Do your compound exercises such as the squat, dead lift, military press, pull up and rows. Strive to improve every week.
3. Eat your protein, 1.5 grams per lbs of body weight for men, women a little less (I know that the RDA by the FDA is lower but they also want you to eat starches 5 x a day).
4. Get your rest. Eight hours of sleep is a minimum.
5. Cut the junk food to once a week. You are a bodybuilder, not a competitive eater.
6. BE PROUD. Bodybuilding is one of the most rewarding things you can do, do not deny it to yourself. Enjoy the journey, be helpful to others in the gym and outside.
Forward, always forward
When it comes to diet foods, I consider two things essential:
1. do they cover your nutritional needs?
2. how filling are they are?
During a diet, it is critical to consume foods that will curb your hunger for an extended period of time.
Here are my most effective diet foods:
1. Chicken breast: a lean protein that can be prepared in a variety of ways and it is easy to eat in office or on the go. An alternate would be tilapia.
2. Flank steak: red meat is often being shunned during a diet but it has its benefits. Iron, zinc, and creatine will enable you to make it through your workouts with greater intensity, further leading to greater fat loss. The fats in red meat are also critical since they are building blocks for hormones such as testosterone and estrogen, that play a crucial role in maintaining a high metabolic rate.
3. Eggs: I highly recommend eating eggs during a diet. They are a complete protein with many vitamins (D, E) and stearic acid. If your calorie count doesn't allow for many whole eggs, mix them with egg whites in a 1:2 ratio. In general, all proteins are a great hunger-suppressant so it is advisable to consume them during a diet at every meal.
4. Oats: a very filling complex carb, that is easy to prepare and even be kept at the office (just add water)
5. Brown rice: a good alternative to oatmeal. It complements most meats and will keep insulin levels stable. By doing so, the dieter will not experience any hunger pangs.
6. Nuts: it is critical to take in the right fats such as mono- and polyunsaturated. Nuts are a great and an easy way to achieve this. They also provide a certain amount of protein, which makes them an interesting choice for vegetarians. As for calorie content, granted it is high, but there is a loss of about 30% in the calories in nuts which can not be fully explained. The best available explanation is that their thermic expense is rather high during digestion.
7. Avocado: another source of good fats and a good addition to salads, omelets, etc.
8. Broccoli/lettuce/spinach/califlower: I label those free foods; due to their low caloric content, they can be consumed in unlimited quantities and they provide vitamins, minerals, and fiber. Plus, most of them are alkaline and will balance out the typical western diet which is more acidic.
9. Asparagus: hardly any calories, very filling and a mild diuretic. The initial water loss can be very motivating for people to stay on the diet since they already lost a couple pounds.
10: Grapefruit (whole fruit, not juice): there is some evidence that grapefruit itself is promoting fat loss but the evidence is questionable. However, grapefruits contain nargenin, which is a substance that blocks the metabolization of caffeine in the liver. Caffeine has fat burning properties which is why it is the main ingredient in many commercial fat burners. If consumed with grapefruit, one extends the active life of these products by 2-3 hours which over time sums up to greater fat loss.
In summary, the best diet is one you can stick to. If you can not stand chicken, find another lean protein. And yes, calories matter most, as there are no magic foods.
So keep cooking and training!