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Foundation for Success


Over the years and throughout my career as a Sports Nutrition, Health and Lifestyle Consultant, hundreds of athletes, bodybuilders and workout buffs have inquired about my own personal dietary regime and training protocol. Questions relating to my food panel and protein intake are common, and many are curious about my training frequency, supplement dosage or my opinion of a certain product or brand name.

In this article I will outline the structure of my present diet, and discuss the underlying principles and benefits of my supplement routine. Food has a drug-like effect in the human body. It should be eaten with discretion and chosen for biochemical compatibility. In theory, the majority of our food should be consumed for its nourishing, performance and sustaining qualities, not just for taste and speed.

Some foods will invoke a negative response, affecting our digestion or blood sugar. Others will optimize cell function and provide a great degree of comfort. Throughout the millennium, our ancestors forged, hunted, fished and farmed their way to the present. They learned through experience about which foods could heal, and which foods could kill. Still today, there is great disparity among the experts concerning nutrition.

Politics and greed always cloud the issue. The truth is often distorted for profit and investigative science is frequently compromised. Which diet is the best, omnivorous or vegetarian? What about milk and eggs? Should we consume dietary supplements? This debate stirs up tremendous controversy, as the conservative fundamentalists and vitamin bashers refuse to let go of dying traditions ignoring current research. Vegans plead with the world, as the meat-eaters continue to carve their way through lamb chops, ham and roast beef.

As for myself, I choose the middle path, seeking balance, optimum function, high performance and quality of life. My diet is based on clinical assessment, my ethnic origin (Scottish/Norwegian) and blood type (B) my somatotype (endo/mesomorph) and gland dominance (thyroid) my current training demands and objectives, my knowledge of biological medicine, physiology, anthropology and science, and lots of trial & error. In the end, I rely almost exclusively on outcome. How I look, how I feel, how I function under stress, and how I match up against some of the newer health standards conceived and formulated by the Functional & Alternative Medical community.

Training Objectives: - maintain lean mass, flexibility, strength, endurance and cardiovascular health, train six days per week in addition to recreational sports & leisure activities.

Dietary Goals: - 40-40-20 (protein, carbohydrates & fats), consume 2-3 grams high quality protein per kilogram of lean body mass, avoid white sugar, white flour, white rice, white salt, homogenized milk, hydrogenated & commercial oils, junk food, candy, prescription drugs, pasteurized juices & pop.

Dietary Format (see Cory's Personal Nutrition Program)

FOUNDATION FOR SUCCESS: PART II

In Part One of this series, I included an outline of my own personal dietary menu, emphasizing the importance of choosing food based on quality and performance value. As promised, this column is devoted to a "glossary", which will describe and explain many of the ingredients I mentioned.

Water: perhaps one of the most neglected and essential components of nutrition. Less than 2% of Canadians drink sufficient amounts, resulting in a steady state of dehydration and fatigue. An issue so basic to common sense, and yet so foreign to the actual experience of many athletes. I marvel how anyone can ignore this rule. I recommend 30ml per kilogram of body weight per day (1oz per pound), and an additional 1-2 litre's to compensate for elevated body temperature & lost fluids during workouts. Most tap water is polluted. Carry filtered, bottled water in your briefcase and automobile. Make water consumption a top priority. C'mon guys, eating more protein and using creatine increases the demand for more water!

Pre-Workout Shake: what we eat prior to and after training has a huge impact on training performance and recovery. I use freshly squeezed juice combined with powdered vitamin C, creatine monohydrate, glutamine and filtered whey peptides. Bottled juices are dead. Pasteurizing increases shelf life and prevents spoilage, but destroys many heat sensitive nutrients and 100% of the enzyme value. It makes grapefruit juice acidic when consumed. Fresh grapefruit has a low glycemic index (30) which is a measurement of how quickly carbohydrates are absorbed and to what degree they influence plasma glucose & insulin response. Fresh grapefruit juice is highly alkaline, a good source of lycopene and contains a mildly thermogenic substance called naringenin, which prolongs the effects of ephedrine and caffeine. It's also a natural source of HMB.

Whey Peptides: the highest quality, most advanced form of protein known to medical science ( highest biological value). A rich source of the BCAA's, with a favorable 4:1 ratio of lysine to arginine. Athletes need more protein than sedentary people, because of how the neuromuscular & immune system is traumatized through strenuous exercise & heavy lifting. We lose protein through our sweat, and 5-10% of our fuel source during exercise is derived from the amino acids leucine, alanine & glutamine. Heavy exercise induces a negative nitrogen balance. 2-3 grams of high quality protein per kilogram of lean body mass is recommended for those who want to emphasize strength & mass over speed & endurance. All whey proteins are not created equal, so don't be fooled by cheap imitations!

Creatine Monohydrate: one of the most remarkable supplements to ever hit the sports nutrition market. 20-30% increases in strength in the first 3-7 days are considered standard, due to physical leverage advantages created through creatine's cell volumizing effect (increased water content inside millions of muscle fibers). The monohydrate form is well documented and confirmed by legitimate research. Creatine citrate is not. Creatine monohydrate is distributed by every "major" Sports Nutrition Manufacturer in the U.S., and more importantly, is specifically advocated by dozens of experts in the field, including Michael Colgan PhD, Brain Leibovitz PhD, Richard Passwater PhD, Michael Yesis PhD, Edmund Burke PhD, Anthony Almada M.Sc, Paul Greenhalf PhD, Maura di Pasquale MD, Conrad Earnest PhD, Paul Balsom PhD, Ray Sahelian MD, Scott Connelly MD, Richard Kreider PhD, Dennis Sparkman PhD, Thomas Fahey EdD and Jose Antonio PhD.

Loading is advised for about 5-7 days, after which a maintenance dose can be used before and after training for maintenance. Creatine is used both continuously or in a cyclic fashion. Colgan recommends 4 - two month cycles a year to help overcome strength plateau's. You load, use creatine for 8 weeks, then go off for 4 weeks. Each cycle begins with a loading period. I use creatine year round because of its other multiple benefits connected with stress management, immune function and general well being.

The added strength & surplus energy potential allows me to lift heavier, which induces more cell damage. This facilitates the desired adaptation response, resulting in true increases in myofiber diameter (hypertrophy) and/or numbers (hyperplasia). This means growth! Added mineral phosphates and maltodextrin may increase creatine's transfer into the cell.

Calcium Ascorbate: a non-acidic, buffered form of vitamin C (1 heaping teaspoon provides about 4000mg of ascorbic acid & 1000mg of calcium). I prefer the powder form as it is more soluble, cost effective and easy to add to my shakes. Perhaps the most important of all the water-soluble antioxidants, vitamin C mediates the hydroxylation reactions necessary to the formation of carnitine, the adrenal hormones and collagen. It protects other nutrients from oxidation, reduces cortisol, enhances immune function and decreases the production of histamine. Humans, like primates and guinea pigs, are hypo-scorbutic. We lack the liver enzyme L-gulonolactone oxidase, which converts glucose into vitamin C. Under stress we convert blood sugar into oxidized fractions of bad cholesterol, whereas most of the other mammals on the planet convert it into vitamin C. As a general guideline for training, I recommend 50-100mg per kilogram of body weight, in 3-4 doses equally divided.

HMB: classified as an anti-proteolytic, this down-stream metabolite of the branched chain amino acid leucine (beta-hydroxy beta-methylbutyrate), helps suppress the breakdown of protein. A natural component of breast milk, there is evidence that higher doses of HMB may amplify the production of IGF-1, which is one of the body's most powerful muscle building components. HMB protects vital organs & muscle fiber from the tissue wasting cascade of stress related compounds (leukotrienes, prostaglandins and hormones) induced through training.

L-Glutamine: Glutamine is the most common free amino acid in the body. It is highly concentrated in the bloodstream and forms a vast intracellular pool in muscle cells. Glutamine plays a key role in muscle metabolism and immune function. During stress, muscle tissue produces large quantities of glutamine to support wound healing and fight infection. Immune cells require glutamine for their replication and depend on healthy, functional muscle as their primary source. Without sufficient glutamine, the immune system loses its strength and vitality

Glutamine is classified as a non-essential amino acid because it's made inside the body. However, new research has established that when people are exposed to high levels of stress and intense exercise for prolonged periods, they are unable to synthesize enough glutamine to keep pace with its depletion. Due to these circumstances glutamine becomes "conditionally essential", which means to prevent glutamine deficiency and adrenal exhaustion, additional glutamine must be obtained from a supplement and/or by increasing dietary sources of glutamic acid (which converts into glutamine).

Panax Ginseng/Gingko Biloba: I prefer standardized extracts which guarantee the quantity and percentage of the active constituents, in this case the ginsenosides of Korean ginseng root, and the terpenes and flavoglycosides of gingko, derived from the leaves of the gingko tree. Both plants benefit the circulation and support general cognitive function. I like the adaptogenic principles of ginseng, and find the combination excellent for enhancing mental concentration in the gym.

Thermogenic Formula: although there is much controversy regarding the use of ephedrine as a beta-adrenergic agonist (adrenal stimulant), it is still safer than any other chemical alternative, such as dexflenfluramine or phenylpropanolamine. I've used a 10:1 ratio of caffeine to ephedrine before workouts for many years now, without any elevation of serum cholesterol blood pressure or increase in my resting heart rate. Ephedrine raises body temperature, which forces increased calorie expenditure, and because it is low level activation, the calorie supply is primarily fat and muscle sparing.

It is wise to cycle ephedrine, as the body will eventually adapt (attenuate) and require more for equal stimulation. Consume no more than 25mg per dose (3 doses max per day) and use caution concerning its contraindications regarding vascular disease, hypothyroidism, diabetes, prostate problems and hypertension.

L-Carnitine supplements raise muscle carnitine levels, which improves fatty acid metabolism. Carnitine is required to move fat molecules into the mitochondria of muscle cells, where they are oxidized to provide the energy of muscular activity. A molecule of carnitine in the cytoplasm outside the mitochondrion combines with a molecule of fat and a molecule of coenzyme A to make a complex that can penetrate the mitochondrion wall. Carnitine at higher levels of 1-3gm is most effective, and should be cycled because of increased excretion after about 2 weeks. Carnitine also helps buffer lactic acid, which explains its popularity among endurance athletes.

Acetyl-l-carnitine (ACL) is able to pass through the blood brain barrier and may stimulate regions in the brain which indirectly affect and control growth hormone and testosterone production. ACL is known to boost acetylcholine levels, stimulate dopamine activity and protect the brain from oxidative damage.

Chromium Picolinate now has over 50 studies to back it up for safety and efficacy. One in particular, printed in the Townsend Letter (Nov 1996) demonstrates a definite and statistical value (outside of other variables) in fat reduction and increased lean mass. Picolinic acid combines with chromium to form the compound chromium picolinate. Picolinic acid, a metabolite of the amino acid tryptophan, occurs naturally in the pancreas.

Chromium is essential to insulin metabolism. Without this trace element, insulin's action is blocked and blood sugar levels are elevated. Along with vitamin C, it inhibits a damaging process associated with aging called glycosylation (the binding of glucose to proteins). As a key constituent of glucose tolerant factor (GTF), chromium helps stabilize blood sugar, and as a supplement (5-10mcg per kilogram of body weight) it compensates for increased chromium excretion observed in athletes.

I will continue this analysis of my diet and training protocol, beginning with where I left off, which is headed to the gym, fully stimulated and ready for a great workout. I might add, this overview is subject to change without notice, as every effort will be made to keep pace with the evolution and science of sports nutrition.

FOUNDATION FOR SUCCESS: PART III

The best diet in the world cannot get you shape. Eating whole organic food by itself alone will not raise your VO2 max or strengthen your neuromuscular system. YOU MUST EXERCISE!! Without motion, you will lose the battle against oxidative damage and gravity long before your time. Guaranteed. If you want better health, freedom from disease and a more attractive leaner presentation, then combine resistance training with cardio and a simple stretch routine. This concept is not an option.

On the other hand, too many active people and competitive athletes motor on junk. Don't be deceived, and don't think you can fool Mother Nature. If you're human and use oxygen to respire, you need at least 60 essential nutrients to facilitate the process the life. For example, without sufficient magnesium ATP loses stability. Arteries harden prematurely on sub-optimal levels of vitamin E. Chromium could be one of the most important missing links in the prevention of Type II Adult On-Set diabetes.

Insufficiency is not the same as deficiency. 60mg of vitamin C will prevent latent scurvy, but it will not prevent vascular degeneration or control angina attacks. Vitamin C is an electron donor. At low levels, its function is well described. But ascorbate has two other faces most people have never seen. At a second level, larger doses (1 to 20 grams) are necessary to compensate for free radicals produced in diseased or injured tissues. All free radicals are one electron short. One can also expect fewer colds, and more importantly, colds with less complication and duration.

The third level is often employed by orthomolecular physicians. Beyond 20 and up to 200 grams in a 24 hour period, a saturation of "reducing equivalents" is achieved which further negates excessive free radicals. Inflammation can be eliminated, viral infections can be treated, and many diseases which arise from the perpetuation of oxygen radicals are ameliorated. Vitamin C is King.

Now back to training. I love to workout, so it isn't a chore. The physical rewards are awesome and I love that feeling of mental clarity I get just after I finish. Exercise is good work and an effective program is structured. It is not left to chance. It is not a game or something you can just blow off. Training is something you do for yourself for your own survival. Decide what you want, create a schedule and then do it! Make time. Years ago on Johnny Carson, Arnold Schwarzenegger said something which to me is simple but brilliant. It explains why he is where he is today. "You work out a plan, then you make that move. Anything is possible if you work at it".


SIX DAY EXERCISE REGIME (one hour)
MONDAY
TUESDAY
WEDNESDAY
THURSDAY
FRIDAY
SATURDAY
Warm-up
Warm-up
Warm-up
Warm-up
Warm-up
Warm-up
Core
Core
Core
Core
Core
Core
Chest
Back
Arms
Legs
Shoulders
Traps/Calves
Cardio
Cardio
Cardio
Cardio
Cardio
Cardio
Stretch
Stretch
Stretch
Stretch
Stretch
Stretch

SAMPLE WORKOUT PROTOCOL

DAY ONE (CHEST)

WARM-UP

Light body stretch

Standing front twist (1 set x 100 reps)

5 minute skip or Stairmaster

ABDOMINALS

Hanging knee raise (bend arms & raise knees above head through arms)

1 set x 20 reps

Floor crunch (completely exhale & hold each "crunch" for 3 seconds)

1 set x 20 reps

Side crunch (completely exhale & hold each "crunch" for 3 seconds)

2 sets x 12 reps

Free-style alternating "bicycle" crunch (smooth rhythmic motion)

1 set x 200 reps

CHEST

Barbell bench press (medium grip) 2 sets x 6-12 reps

Barbell bench press (medium grip) 2 sets x 12-20 reps

Dumbbell 45° incline press 2 sets x 8-12 reps

Dumbbell 15° incline flye (emphasize stretch) 2 sets x 8-12 reps

CARDIO

20 minute Treadmill or Lifecycle (moderate pace & read MD or MM)

STRETCH

Emphasize primary joints & lower back (hold each stretch for 20-30 seconds)

The real key to training success is motivation. Motivation is a function of energy and right thinking. It comes to those who make optimum health a top priority. Everyone has that ability, but sadly, few people use their own resources. Are you standing in your own field of diamonds looking for gold?

FOUNDATION FOR SUCCESS: PART IV

A principle by definition is a fundamental truth, which when applied, one can expect a specific and predictable outcome. The scientific law which explains a natural action is inherent not only in the effect (which can be observed or measured) but also resides in the methods which create or cause the effect. Weight training with reckless abandon in the gym is more commonly the rule, not the exception. Seldom is science given its rightful and prominent position.

In part III of this series, I outlined my own personal six day exercise regime, providing a sample workout protocol, which includes a warm-up, abdominal & lower back movements, one major body part, post-workout cardio and stretching. All-in-all, its about one hour of continuous activity, and over the course of one week, no stone is left unturned. The key to success in training is to train holistically, to avoid injury and to finish with a sense of accomplishment.

I have a little book filled with powerful words. It is called "The Art of Peace", and was drawn from the talks and writings of Morihei Ueshiba, founder of the Japanese martial art known as Aikido. Ueshiba says "In your training, do not be in a hurry, for it takes a minimum of ten years to master the basics and advance to the first rung. Never think of yourself as an all-knowing, perfected master; you must continue to train daily with your friends and students and progress together in the Art of Peace", and again, "The purpose of training is to tighten up the slack, toughen the body, and polish the spirit".

Principle #1 "Overload"

Just as no one can obtain a true and lasting tan without some form of light as a stimulus, no one can increase their muscle size and strength without stressing the system beyond its normal capabilities. Muscle doesn't grow unless it has to! The load (resistance) must be increased to the degree that it causes cell disruption, which forces a natural compensatory response. Growth must be forced!

The most common way to overload a muscle during a resistance training program is to increase the amount of weight. This should be done progressively to allow for appropriate recovery and adaptation, hence the term "progressive resistance training". By progressively adding on weight to keep pace with the growing strength of your body, you ensure that your muscles will always be working at their maximum capacity and therefore will grow as fast as possible.

Principle #2 "Intensity"

Intensity is a measure of effort. It is closely associated with the overload principle, because increasing the amount of weight makes lifting more difficult (duh!). Increasing the number of repetitions in a set with the same amount of weight also increases intensity, as well as increasing the number of sets performed per exercise, or adding extra exercises during a given workout. It seems apparent that the harder you workout, the better the results. Another method involves reducing the amount of rest time between sets.

The master of the intensity principle is former Mr. Universe Mike Mentzer. His Heavy Duty training methods debunk the thinking that "more is better", and instead emphasize training specifically for strength, if your goal is to develop your muscles to the largest possible degree in the shortest possible time.

Training to absolute total momentary failure on each and every set is the cornerstone of high intensity training. This forces the recruitment and utilization of 100% of the contracting muscle's motor units, and the closer you get to 100%, the greater the growth stimulation. You can train brutally hard, or you can train long. But you can't do both. It's like trying to sprint a mile. Good luck!

Principle #3 "Symmetry"

The principle of symmetry encourages the full and complete development of the whole physique. All the major muscle groups should receive equal training stimulation, so as to produce a balanced musculature which demonstrates a high level of harmonious proportion. For instance, many weight-trainers neglect their legs, or are guilty of not training their abdominals or lower back.

Attention given to the entire frame is wise but requires thoughtful planning. This will help prevent injuries associated with training patterns which favor specific muscle groups over others. As the back, chest and shoulders grow out of proportion to the rest of the body, one becomes more susceptible to "pinched nerve" syndromes. A good rule of thumb, at least for men, is an 8-10 inch differential between the girth of the chest and waist, and a neck measurement similar in circumference to the upper arms and calves.

Principle #4 "Consistency"

Consistency is defined as "dedicated conformity to a specific set of principles, actions or belief". No positive changes will occur without regular training, you must get to the gym! Your workouts should be strategically planned and viewed as a top priority - not just for aesthetic reasons, but for optimizing function and well-being, and for warding off fatigue and degeneration.

Exercise demands time, energy and a strong commitment. Reducing body fat and gaining lean, high-quality muscle is no easy task. Without clarity of purpose and ferocity of intent, even the best intentions will get swallowed up in the sea of procrastination or shelved on the wall of idleness. You must focus on your goals and keep close to your mind the reasons why you need to train. Consistency is a brother to persistence. It's that quality that pushes us through the hard times and past the myriad of excuses which we use to justify missed workouts.

Principle #5 "Periodization"

Periodization is a training plan which changes your workouts at regular intervals of time. It involves the manipulation of training variables, such as the number of repetitions performed per set, exercises performed, the amount of weight lifted and rest periods between sets.

Periodization prevents stagnation and greatly reduces those frustrating "training plateaus". It keeps your workouts fresh and alive. Changes in training patterns prevents boredom and diminishes risk from injury. One major cause of joint injury is the continued pressing of heavy weights day after day without variation. Eventually the stress is just to much for the immune and neuromuscular systems to handle. With periodized training, intense and less intense training periods are planned, so that the stress does not accumulate to the point where training paradoxically undermines good health.