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“Summer bodies are made in winter.” If that’s your philosophy, then congratulations, you’re already several leaps ahead of the procrastinators who will burst into the gym in May seeking a drastic 4-week transformation.
We hope you started with a detailed plan of action, back in those dark cold days of January and February. If you did, your remaining challenge is to maintain your achievement (and new physique) throughout the summer and the rest of the year. Most of us struggle to hang onto some approximation of what we regard as an ideal physique. We have our good days and our bad days. We get caught up on weight-loss or muscle-gain plateaus where we just can’t seem to lose another ounce of fat or gain another ounce of muscle, no matter how hard we work. We backslide a little when our jobs are a hassle or our social calendar gets a little too hectic. Sometimes it seems like we’re capturing and losing and re-capturing the same contested territory, year after year.
At the same time, however, some people seem to coast above the fray. They don’t necessarily exercise more than us or eat better, but their physiques stay dialed in 24/7/365. They have a healthy glow and a uniformly positive outlook. What is their secret? Is it genetics? Youth? Luck? Super-secret growth hormone treatments on a remote Caribbean island? Maybe. But probably not. Instead, it could be just a few simple tricks that can optimize and maximize all the larger things that you've been doing right since winter.
Call them lifestyle hacks. Here’s ten of them you can use to keep your physique on point for the rest of the year.
Frontload Your Caloric Intake
You know the adage. “Breakfast like a king; lunch like a prince; dinner like a pauper.” It turns out there’s a lot of wisdom in that saying. Who says so? Well, the American Heart Association, for one. In a new (2017) scientific statement published in the journal Circulation, the AHA cites a number of studies that suggest that people who breakfast big and then taper off caloric intake tend to weigh less and have better blood pressure and cholesterol numbers.
One such study, conducted over a 24-week period in the Czech Republic, divided test subjects into one group which consumed the majority of their calories early in the day and another control group which spaced out caloric intake evenly throughout the day. At the end of the 24 weeks, the researchers found that the caloric frontloaders experienced reduced body weight, hepatic fat content, fasting plasma glucose, and increased calculated insulin sensitivity compared to control.
The takeaway? Don’t skip breakfast! Also, try to keep post-dinner snacking to a minimum. And when you do indulge in the evening, try to emphasize protein intake which will at least support muscle protein synthesis during an overnight fast, as opposed to carbs which will most likely be stored as fat.
Make Every Meal Count
We don’t have to tell you to eat more chicken breasts, lean beef and complex carbs. You’re already doing that. What does need reminding though is just what they tell you when you’re boarding a train or the subway. Watch The Gap. It’s those gaps between meals that are undermining you’re dietary regimen and undoing all the good work you’re doing with your primary meals.
During those gaps, you’re either starving your muscles of necessary nutrients and causing them to slip into a catabolic state or you’re nurturing a craving that will soon manifest itself in the form of unwise food choices. The key is to plan ahead. Keep a container of raw almonds in your desk drawer at work or the glovebox of your car. Better yet, keep a canister of protein on your desk at work. Twelve ounces of a high-quality whey isolate like Original NytroWhey or an advanced hydrolyzed whey/whey isolate like NytroWhey Ultra Elite is a powerful, low-fat, low-carb, fast-absorbing jolt of muscle fuel that – because it’s protein – will also facilitate satiety (a feeling of fullness) until lunch or dinner time.
These days, you don’t even have to resort to a mixer cup to get your important ration of high-caliber protein. A new generation of advanced protein bars now packs plenty of elite protein punch. At the cutting edge of this revolution in protein bar science is the new ProSource Bar, which is powered by super-premium hydrolyzed whey and cold-processed micro/ultra-filtered whey isolate. The ProSource Bar is precision-targeted nutrition based on a recipe that emphasizes wholesome, high-value ingredients over the fillers and substandard ingredients found in so many competing protein bars. Indeed, the ProSource Bar contains no soy or whey concentrates, no virtually indigestible fiber content or sugar alcohols, and no mysterious binders, emulsifiers or gelatins. The ProSource Bar is, purely and simply, good food for an active lifestyle. Carry one with you and use to fill those gaps in your daily nutrition!
Get More Sleep
Everyone needs sleep to function. Sleep is the portion of our day in which the vast majority of muscle growth and fat burning occur. And here’s the thing. Lost sleep time is gone forever. You can’t catch up. Lost sleep results in elevated levels of cortisol during the afternoon and the evening, which can impede your muscle building efforts. Elevated cortisol shuts off growth pathways including insulin release and inhibits testosterone release. This leaves insulin unavailable to perform its job. Nutrients are left unutilized in the bloodstream, and are not delivered to the muscle where they can fuel recovery or your workout. Oh, and fat-burning mechanisms are shut down as well, while slower metabolic rates during sleep deprivation open the door to increased fat storage.
How much sleep do you need? At least seven hours per night, but really more like eight or nine. Yes, nine. So turn off the TV (or better yet, move it out of your bedroom) and stop swiping through Tinder. Establish a consistent bedtime and stick to it.
Consider taking a ZMA supplement about 30 minutes before you hit the sack. ZMA (a combination of zinc, magnesium aspartate and Vitamin B6) is often linked to testosterone support but it supports sleep as well. Zinc plays a key role in protein metabolism, tissue repair and is a key enzyme involved in hormone production, while magnesium has been linked to muscle relaxation, helping reduce stress in the body. If you want to be sure you are getting the right clinically researched dose of ZMA, always look for the gold standard in ZMA manufacturing, SNAC Systems ZMA, as found in ProSource brand ZMA. SNAC Systems ZMA is the catalyst used in landmark product-specific university testing that documented significant mass gains in college athletes.
Take A Thermogenic Supplement
Are you restricting caloric intake in order to get leaner for the spring of 2018? Well, don’t think your body is going to take that without putting up a fight. Millions of years of evolution have taught your body to love fat (which requires little metabolic maintenance and will come in handy during the next famine) and toss muscle tissue overboard at the first sign of caloric hard times. To accomplish this, your body hits the snooze button on metabolism, ramping down crucial bodily processes like fat utilization.
To counter these counterproductive outcomes, consider taking an advanced thermogenic formula like BioQuest’s BetaStax Elite. BetaStax Elite contains energy-support catalysts that will help you power through that mid-day slump. In addition, BetaStax Elite contains PureWay-Slim®, a patented proprietary blend of ingredients that delivers clinically validated and significant reductions in body weight, waist and hip circumferences in as little as two weeks. Indeed, in a clinical trial performed at the University of Miami, PureWay-Slim achieved more weight-loss in two weeks than other leading weight-loss compounds achieved in eight weeks. BetaStax Elite is well-suited to supporting your weight-loss program, while also supporting energy levels while you're cutting calories. Just make sure you don’t take BetaStax Elite after 3pm or you’ll be losing out on some of that restorative sleep we mentioned earlier.
Stop Doing 3 Sets Of 12 of Everything
Yes, there is science behind the tyranny of the ubiquitous 3x12 rep scheme. It derives from the notion that maximum hypertrophy occurs in the 45-second to one-minute portion of your set in which your muscles are under tension. Now take a walk around your gym. Most people are powering through those 12 reps in 30 seconds or less. Gotta get to that next set, right? They’re not working toward anything remotely like failure and worse, they’re encouraging their muscles to adapt to that specific rep scheme and stop growing.
The alternative? Try less reps and more sets. Load up the bar to 80% or 85% of your one-rep max and try eight sets of just two reps with 30-second rests. Or throw the idea of a defined number of total reps out the window entirely. Do this: Take your 12-rep weight and curl or bench it 3 times. Rest 15 seconds. Do it again. Repeat. Go to failure. No matter what your rep scheme, slow down the lowering of the weight to increase muscle time under tension. Each set should take a full minute. The goal is to shock your muscles into new growth and get off that plateau you’re stuck on. Check out our numerous training articles written by acclaimed expert trainers here on prosource.net for plenty of techniques for shaking things up.
Take A Probiotic and Embrace Probiotic Food Sources
All the high-quality targeted nutrition in the world doesn’t mean a thing if you can’t digest it. Our digestive tracts are home to literally trillions of microbial digestive organisms; there are more of them than there are human cells in our bodies. These populations of bacteria fluctuate widely in both variety and number depending on dietary and environmental stimuli.
Researchers have come to learn that the number of different strains of digestive microbes in our gut varies in direct response to what we eat. If you consume a lot of fat and meat, you’ll manifest a lot of the bacteria adept at breaking down those food sources, and have fewer microbes adapted to breaking down greens or fiber. Different microbes have different jobs and gross imbalances in the populations of specific bacteria can lead to excess fat gain, nutrient deficiencies, and reduced immune system response.
What can you do? First, eat a variety of foods with an emphasis on fiber and greens. Eat probiotic-rich foods like Greek yogurt, sauerkraut, pickles, tempeh, buttermilk and kambucha. Probiotics are also available as dietary supplements in capsule or powder form. If you go this route, look for a probiotic that contains at least 10 billion live organisms in multiple strains (at least 3 or 4 types). Make sure that your probiotic has a “use by” date.
Stop Warming Up With Cardio
We see this all the time and it drives us crazy. People arrive at the gym to get in some resistance training (bi’s and tri’s, back/shoulders, or god forbid, leg day) and they first jump on the treadmill or the stairmaster for 15 or 20 minutes. You gotta warm up, right? Get the heart pumping! Let’s do some sprints, get some cardio in!
NOOOO! The point of lifting weights is to do as much work as you possibly can. That means max total force generation, max volume, max intensity, and consequent maximal breakdown of muscle fiber which can be rebuilt stronger and bigger. To do that, you’re going to need every ounce of muscle fuel – in this case, muscle glycogen – you have at your disposal. So why are you throwing it away on the fire of pre-workout cardio?
In an ideal world, you would be able to do your weight training in the morning and some cardio (preferably in the form of sprints or interval training) in the evening. If time constraints prevent this, at least do your cardio after your weight training. And don’t overdo it to the point where you’re interfering with recovery. As for warming up before your first lift, a few minutes of gentle stretching or foam rolling will cover it.
Do Meal Prep
The easiest way to keep your nutritional regimen on point is to prepare your meals in advance. If your meals are prepped and waiting for you in the fridge, in pre-measured individual serving sizes, you’ll eat clean, you’ll avoid the temptation of inferior food choices, and you’ll even save money. Avoid the trap of broiling up a six-pound package of chicken breasts and creating sixteen identical meals! Is it easier? Yes! Is it boring? Also, yes! Boredom breeds temptation! Find yourself a good fitness-oriented source of recipes, follow your favorite fitness chefs on Instagram, and be creative!
Consider a Natural Testosterone Support Technology
And finally, here’s one strictly for the men. If you're experiencing a protracted slump, if your energy is low, your concentration is fuzzy and your libido is lagging, there may be more than your diet or exercise regimen to blame. You may need to take a more active role in supporting the levels of your most important male hormone, testosterone. Fortunately, you’re in luck, as the science of natural male testosterone support has been advancing dramatically in recent years.
Far and away the most compelling product in this supplement category is AndroTest from ProSource, the first true clinical-grade natural test booster. AndroTest contains a key, full-spectrum, protodioscin-rich botanical super compound designed to help potentiate the release of luteinizing hormone, which in turn can help support testosterone production (into the normal range). In fact, in a randomized, placebo-controlled, double blind clinical study, AndroTest produced statistically significant increases in total testosterone levels, averaging 59.88% over baseline, with some subjects showing total increases as high as 275% over baseline. And major increases in free testosterone, averaging 59.75% over baseline, with some subjects reaching up to 218% over baseline. Particularly if you’re an older guy (by which we mean over thirty, basically) this one change would make a huge improvement in your overall vigor, vitality, and overall wellness.
Take It Easy
When you have a specific physique or performance goal in mind, there’s always the temptation to go full throttle every day to attain that goal. If you work twice as hard, you’ll get there twice as fast, right? Well, no. In fact. you’ll just exhaust your body’s capacity for repair and recovery, and you’ll lose ground. You’ll break down muscle tissue that isn’t being replaced and you’ll open the door to an increased potential for injury. Overtraining is the enemy; there’s nothing valiant about “exceeding your limits.” Adopt a diet and exercise lifestyle you can sustain over the long haul. Gains made in tiny increments are the most long lasting.
Hana Kahleova, Lenka Belinova, Hana Malinska, Olena Oliyarnyk, Jaroslava Trnovska, Vojtech Skop, Ludmila Kazdova, Monika Dezortova, Milan Hajek, Andrea Tura, Martin Hill, and Terezie Pelikanova. Eating two larger meals a day (breakfast and lunch) is more effective than six smaller meals in a reduced-energy regimen for patients with type 2 diabetes: a randomised crossover study. Diabetologia. 2014; 57(8): 1552–1560.
Use as directed with a sensible diet and exercise program that includes reduced caloric intake and increased physical activity. Consult a health care professional before beginning any weight loss program. Read and follow all product label instructions and warnings thoroughly before use. These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.
Use AndroTest as directed. Read all product label instructions and warnings thoroughly before use. A 4-week study of healthy males showed a 59.75% average increase in free testosterone compared to baseline and 59.88% average increase in total testosterone compared to baseline. These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.
The articles featured herein are for informational purposes only and should not be construed as medical advice. Specific medical advice should only be obtained from a licensed health care professional. No liability is assumed by ProSource for any information herein.