Yellow Coconut Curry Squash Soup

Having trouble losing weight? Turn your meals into things you can’t possibly overeat.

Believe it or not, I was also a Chef back in the day. However, I managed to both escape the industry and kill those memories with various substances so it doesn’t come up much. But here’s what I just finished making for dinners for the rest of the week.

Yellow Coconut Curry Squash Soup
– 2 whole spaghetti squash, seeded and pre-roasted
– 800g chopped or shredded or pulled cooked chicken
– 160ml tin coconut milk
– 1 cup skim milk
– about 400g (1/2 bag) of frozen cut green beans
– Madras yellow curry powder (or other curry powder you have) to taste (I started with about 2 tbsp, then added a lot more because I love curry)
– salt/pepper to taste
– water to thin so you don’t scorch it

Put all of the stuff in the pot except for the green beans and chicken. Add water to desired thickness. Season and bring to a boil. Blend with an immersion blender (stick blender) or an actual blender. Don’t burn yourself.

Add green beans and chicken, bring back to a boil.

Try to eat 1/4 of the batch like you’re supposed to because you are dumb and planned out your macros that way.

Total time in the kitchen, start to finish, including all prep: under an hour. The bulk of that was stirring the soup so it didn’t burn.

Fat: 57
Carbs: 179
Fibre: 27
Protein: 185
Cals: 1912

Designing the exercise portion of your plan

There are more ways to train than you can possibly imagine. Thankfully, there are some fundamentals that underlie all of them, which makes things a lot easier.

I can make it really simple for you: you should probably not do Crossfit, and you should lift weights instead of doing cardio if you only have time for one.

Now, I don’t have any personal reason to dislike Crossfit, but for the vast majority of people it seems to give much higher likelihood of getting injured in a minor or major way. There a few reasons for this, namely:

  • Crossfit is based around explosive lifts (clean and jerk, snatch, thrusters, etc), done to something approaching failure. Going to failure on a lift that gets you to lift a loaded barbell over your head is in most people’s mind Not a Good Thing.
  • Training to close to failure in general is somewhat inherently dangerous. When you are fatigued you make mistakes, and the Crossfit mentality is essentially “go till you puke.”
  • Some Crossfit trainers don’t spend a lot of time focusing on adequate training in those lifts, which increases your risk of injury. Some do, but do you know which ones to pick, or how to properly assess this?

There is nothing wrong with Crossfit when it is properly instructed and controlled, but it doesn’t take much to get “Certified” and open your own box. So just be aware.

You should lift weights before doing cardio, both in a timing and priority sense, unless of course you are a pure endurance athlete and feel like looking like one of those kids on the unicef commercials. Cardio is a time sink more than anything else – yes it burns calories fairly effectively, but if you are not pairing it with resistance training, you will probably lost a bunch of muscle with the fat you are trying to torch off.

Some people recommend High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) for fat loss, which is somewhat reasonable, but not something I personally recommend. First, it’s ridiculously fatiguing if you do it right, and this only really possible to do about two times per week. World class athletes don’t do it more than a couple of times per week, even when they’re on drugs, and you think you can recover better than them? Didn’t think so. Working out at this intensity isn’t really necessary, ever. If you enjoy it, go to town – but there are much less fatiguing options out there. Like basically every other thing you can do that gets your heart rate up. I personally prefer hitting the bike and holding my heart rate around 160-170 bpm. This is pretty much the sweet spot for maintainable calorie burn that can be done basically every day.

So, weights. They’re good, don’t be scared of them. And just to go completely against the current grain of things, I think machines are just fine too, especially because it’s a lot harder to hurt yourself if/when you fail. You can push a lot harder on a machine and be safe, especially if you are like me and have no friends to spot you.

How should you lift your weights though? How often, and how heavy? This part depends a lot on your goals.

If you are just looking to maintain your muscle mass while losing fat, the basic principle is to maintain the intensity (weight on the bar) while cutting down the volume you are doing (so it’s less fatiguing and requires less repair). Keep doing what you are doing on the same schedule, just do less on any given day.

If you are brand new to training and trying to lose weight, you could probably do reasonably well just squatting and benching a couple of times per week, which would train both your upper and lower body. This would also leave you lots of time to do cardio if you so desire.

For everyone else, the basic principles look something like this:

If you are training for pure strength, you should spend the majority of your time in the 3-5 rep range. True 1RM max efforts are just too fatiguing to do too often. Something like Starting Strength or Bill Starr’s 5X5 routine isn’t a terrible place to start – I cut my teeth on SS, and made some pretty impressive strength gains in a fairly short amount of time.

If you are training for hypertrophy (bigger muscles), the rep range is essentially everything above the strength range of 3-5, so 6-15 (Anything higher than that will still have hypertrophic effects but will have more of a muscular endurance focus.) This is all wildly over-simplified, and there is a lot of overlap, but this is a reasonable approximation for the vast majority of people.

This is traditional bodybuilding type training and there are many, many reasonable variations on this theme that work quite well. Lyle McDonald’s Generic Bulking Routine, Bryan Haycock’s Hypertrophy Specific Training or HST, and Dante Trudeau’s DoggCrapp are all time-tested options in this area.

There are basically as many ways to structure a bulking routine as there are days in the year. Many people default to a body-part (bro) split. Upper/Lower, Push/Pull, and 4 or 5 or 6 day splits are the most common overall structures. Basically, do a lot more volume than the pure strength guys, with a lower average weight on the bar. I’m currently doing a upper/lower four day split.

How many days you train is up to you, with most strength routines falling in the threeish days per week area, and bro splits generally being more frequent at up to six days per week. Because hypertrophy training is generally less fatiguing overall than strength training, it can be done more frequently. When you hear guys talk about being “completely fried” they are probably powerlifters and have just pushed too hard too long and basically bonked. Fatigue is not just physical but mental as well.

In beginners, volume is the primary driver of hypertrophy, while the biggest driver of strength is neuromuscular adaptations. This means you need to do more for hypertrophy, and you need to give your brain time to figure out what you want it to do for strength.

We’ve talked about goals before. Go set some. But make sure that enjoying your every day workouts is part of the plan, or you’ll crash and burn sooner rather than later.

The week that was, in internet land – Volume 9

Happy May long everybody! Hope you’re not dead from too much fun over the weekend.

When “Just Lose More Fat” is Not the Answer – Shoee Walsh
This one is mostly for the ladies. Though some of the guys here could stand to read it too.

8 truths to live (and lift) by – Paul Carter
This guy knows what’s up. Not your usual fitness writing, but definitely worth reading.

15 Expert Tips to Unleash your Athleticism – Eric Bach
Some good thoughts here. It’s not ALL picking up heavy things and putting them down.

When To Eat Delicious Food And When To Avoid It – Mike Israetel
This guy knows his shit. Seriously.

The New Approach to Training Volume – Nathan Jones
And interesting article on how training affects hypertrophy. And everything else. Aimed at a more advanced lifting crowd.

Why You Should Ignore Canada’s Food Guide and Follow Brazil’s Instead – Genevieve Fullan
Yup.

5 things you need to know about supplements!

So the vast majority of things that are going to be posted from now on are going to be drawn from one of three categories: fitness myths and other bullshit, stuff that pisses me off, or stuff that is both.

Now, we have been asked to mention some specific things, and because these are things that are both fairly common myths, and are also mostly complete bullshit that pisses me off, I’m gonna cover them.

Here we go off into supplement land again. Magical pills and powders and wallet thinners! If you didn’t read the previous articles, remember that basically: most supplements are snake oil. Some work. They’re expensive, and if they work well, they’re illegal. That’s pretty much the long and short of it.

First up: the importance of worrying about kidney and liver support supplements if you are on a high-protein diet. This is absolutely not required, at all. It’s complete bro-science, and is based off conjecture and one flawed study from the dark ages that I can’t find right now.

There is ZERO evidence that a high protein diet can in any way damage or compromise your liver or kidney function. At all, ever. Says science. As far as I am concerned from all of the things I have ever read, they’re not worth the money. If you feel like lighting your hard-earned cash on fire, feel free. But understand that if a real doctor hasn’t told you to take them for a medical condition that money could be better spent elsewhere. Like on hookers and blow. Get the hooker to dress up as a doctor if you want.

If you are using any of the illegal injectables, you should be using liver support drugs. I’m not turning this into a drug website, so go do your own research and find that info elsewhere as it has been written about ad nauseum.

The one thing that you should probably worry about if you are consuming lots of whole food protein is that you pretty much have to include some sort of fibre supplement. Don’t want to blow out an o-ring. If you are consuming lots of whey protein shakes for convenience or Dat Anabolic Window, Bro, you have three primary things you should be worried about:

  1. Your wallet getting thin faster than you are. Supps are expensive if consumed in quantity.
  2. Harming everyone around you with the gasses leaking out of your ass. Between the protein powder and the whole food diet you’re on (right?), you just might kill someone dead.
  3. Not feeling full after eating if you are working to lose fat mass. Liquid calories are just not satiating, which is why you can drink a 1500 calorie milkshake way faster and easier than eating 1500 calories of baked potato.

Moving on. Creatine.

There are a bunch of different forms of Creatine available on the market now. The traditional old school Creatine Monohydrate, Kre-Alkalyn (Buffered), Ethyl Ester, Tri- Malate, Conjugated, and I’m sure a whole bunch more I haven’t heard of and/or don’t care about.

All of the types of Creatine on this list other than Monohydrate are good for: making your wallet thinner than if you had bought mono. They all essentially turn into basic Creatine once your body absorbs it, except for CEE, which is actually complete garbage and is something like 1/10 as effective. Getting a micronized form (which basically means they made it into a finer powder than usual) is not a bad idea as it dissolves in liquid better, but none of the Creatines that I have purchased in recent years have been non-micronized, even if they didn’t claim that it was.

Hey look, our good friends (I lie – they have no idea who we are) at Examine did a post about this very subject! You can check it out to verify that I am not completely talking out my ass about this one specific subject.

A quick google search tells me that most non-mono forms of Creatine are between 4x and 20x as expensive on a per-dose basis. You should be able to get a three months’ supply of mono for under $20. I saw a few that were over $60 for one month. Math is hard, but one of those is a worse deal to me.

In summation: don’t be stupid. Thanks and have a good weekend.

Transformation Tuesday, Episode One

Apparently it’s traditional to do these on a day that starts with T. Damned if I know why.

Anyways, I’ve been at this since the beginning of the year now (4 months, a total of about 16 weeks of actual dieting), and I hit my second major weight goal and am on a 4 week diet break, so I guess it’s a good a time as any for an arbitrarily chosen milestone and update. I had both the knowledge and free time (Woo Fort McMurray) to plan and prep so as to be able to make progress that was within shooting distance of optimal, considering my goals.

My goals are/were: maintainable fat loss, minimal muscle loss (I definitely lost more than I would prefer, though it comes back fairly quickly), not cutting calories hard enough that my work or gym performance dropped. I think I managed most of those. I ate real and delicious foods the whole time, never really felt deprived, managed to maintain strength in the gym rather than losing any, and didn’t kill anyone. I’m down about three and a half notches on my belt, the total sum of my three point skinfold test has dropped by about 60%, and I’m down a combined 33 inches (83.5cm) off all of my measurements.

I started the year at 182.9lb. Well, actually a little less than that but that’s what I went back up to a couple of days after re-adding regular creatine supplementation into my life, so I’m calling it my starting weight. I started at around 2000 calories per day, by the end I was on about 1800. Six days per week at the gym, three days of squats, three days of bench, about an hour of cardio on the bike each day. One free meal per week on Sundays.

I’m currently at 150.3 lb. It wasn’t super easy, but it really wasn’t all that hard. I’m not quite where I want to be yet, but I’m a lot closer than I was. And I was frankly shocked when I was putting these pictures together at how much of a difference there was and how depressed I looked in the first set – it’s a lot harder to see the progress when you are in the middle of the day to day. In case you are smart like rock truck, the one on the LEFT is me in the first week of January this year, and the one on the right is May 10th. I started my diet break on the 2nd of May, but waited a week to take pictures because I always look flat and depleted after dieting. A week of regular eating always makes me look a ton better. Why yes, I AM shallow.

Front Compare EOD 1 Side Compare EOD 1

If I can do it, anyone can. Going from fat to not-fat isn’t and shouldn’t be hard, if you do it with your brain in gear. We’ve given you everything you really need to know to get on that path. So start today.