Macros Part III: Carbs aren’t the Devil.

CARBS

August 19th, 2015: 1300 hours

I’ve been on something of a hiatus for approximately two months. This is due to a change in my philosophy of fitness after doing some research. As a result of this research, my wife and I have undertaken an experiment, and I did not want to post until I had some tangible results of the experiment. Well I have some great results and we are still going with this philosophy after the changes we’ve seen.

If you have been watching fitness trends for any substantial length of time, you have noticed that carbohydrates have become the scapegoat for poor fitness and body composition. On some levels, this is a true notion. People living sedentary lifestyles do not need a lot of carbs for fuel — as I’ve discussed previously, the body prefers carbs as fuel for high intensity activity. People that sit at a desk all day, work out for an hour, and then go home and watch Netflix before going to bed, do not need the same number of carbs as a professional athlete, bike delivery worker, or even a plumber. Carbs are still needed around the workout, but otherwise not so much.

For the sedentary person, a high level of carbs is likely to contribute to an expanding waistline and decrease in stamina throughout the day. Two reasons exist for this. First, carbs are used quickly by the body. Actually, carbs are divided into two categories of “slow” and “fast”, but we will get into that. It brings us to the second reason: most people with sedentary lifestyles tend to use fast carbs (read: sugar) as fuel.

I’ve been there, so I understand. Which sounds more appetizing, a pizza or a sweet potato? Pizza. Duh. But I’m hopefully going to change your opinion on that by the end of this post; especially because I’m going to tell you to keep the Oreos in the cupboard and the ice cream in the freezer.

Before I continue, I suggest anyone who hasn’t read Macros Part II, go back and do so. I explained why LEOs need to treat their body like athletes. If you are living a sedentary lifestyle, you should consider looking at a Paleo diet. I’ll let you google that. This blog and especially this post, is for those of us who get up and move and work out like fiends in order to be able to perform at the highest level whenever necessary.

With that out of the way, my prior research before this experiment was based around starving oneself. Both calorie and carbohydrate recommendations for active persons was incredibly low. I checked into a program based around upping nutrients and calories in order to fuel your workouts and lifestyle. My wife and I started the program and the results have been eye-opening. Previously, we had been on a paleo-type diet with some slow carbs mixed into the equation. We did lean out some and we did see some marginal gains in performance (read: heavier weights and faster run times). But then we stumbled across some literature that suggested that we were actually screwing up our metabolism. It told us to increase calories and carbs dramatically. We took the advice roughly one week before I posted Macros Part II and this is what it looks like for me currently.

Previous:

  • Calories – approximately 2000 with cheat days in the 3000s
  • Protein – approximately 200g
  • Fats – approximately 100g
  • Carbs – approximately 100g
  • Deadlift – all-time PR of 405lbs
  • Bench – all-time PR of 230lbs x 2 reps
  • Hang Power Clean – all-time PR of 205lbs

Currently:

  • Calories – approximately 3000 on rest days and 3600-4000 on workout days (and still trying to increase!)
  • Protein – approximately 240-250g
  • Fats – approximately 110-125g depending on activity in the day
  • Carbs – approximately 300g on rest days and 370-400 on workout days
  • Deadlift – just did 340lbs x 10 reps yesterday (calculates to 450lb 1RM)
  • Bench – three days ago did 230lbs x 10 reps
  • Hang Power Clean – three days ago did 200lbs x 10 reps
  • 12lbs lighter and 2.5% body fat lost.

My wife has also seen similar success. We purchased and use FitBits every day. They are, of course, imperfect, but they do show you a lot of useful information. The most useful information is calories burned. You’d be surprised how many calories you actually burn in a day. On a rest day, I burn about 4000 calories. On a workout day, I can often eclipse 5000 if I focus on hitting 10,000 steps. I need to eat close to my TDEE (Total Daily Energy Expenditure) on workout days in order to perform as high as possible. As you can see, I have a lot of improvement to make.

FEAST

So how does a person eat 4000+ calories and get leaner? Workouts, types of food, and timing of food. I focus the majority of carbs around workouts and dinner time. I eat slow carbs throughout the day and pre-workout; fast carbs are eaten post-workout and around dinner when I’m most depleted. This means that foods like Oreos have a place in my diet. They aren’t every day, nor in massive amounts, but I can eat them without guilt or worry.

I referred throughout this post to slow and fast carbs. Slow carbs are complex-carbohydrates. They take longer for the body to break down and make great pre-workout carbs and throughout the day carbs. Examples are sweet potatoes, brown rice, and many vegetables. Google is your friend here. Fast carbs are simple-carbohydrates. They are quickly broken down and used for fuel. The problem comes when they aren’t immediately burned. Fast carbs that aren’t used right away, are converted into energy stores for later use (read: body fat). Sugar is the most widely-eaten fast carb. Foods where the majority of the carb content is sugar (i.e. cookies, bread, most condiments) would be considered fast carbs.

The main point is that food is not “good” or “bad.” It has no moral or ethical value. Food is fuel for the body. There is a place in your life for pizza and ice cream. They just need to be used properly. Work out like a fiend, become more active, and fuel properly.

For the record: Eat to Perform is the program we are following and much of the literature paraphrased here is from them. Highly recommended if you want to train and be active like an athlete. Not recommended if you plan to be sedentary. Upcoming posts will focus on exercise and training.

Something fun for all to enjoy:

Workout of the Day: Rest day.

Quote of the Day: “If you always put limit on everything you do, physical or anything else. It will spread into your work and into your life. There are no limits. There are only plateaus, and you must not stay there, you must go beyond them.” – Bruce Lee.

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Macros Part II: The Skinny on Fats

June 16, 2015: 0300 hours

When I say “fat”, it probably conjures multiple images in your mind. They could range from a fat person, to fast food, or “fat free” snacks and foods. For years, we have been told through media, diet books and programs, and even education in school that eating fat is what makes you fat. I’m here to tell you that isn’t true — not entirely. The truth behind fat is far more complex than “eat fat, get fat.”

The three macro-nutrients, protein, fat and carbohydrates, are your body’s way of getting energy from food. You eat a piece of pizza and the protein, fat, and carbs from that pizza are digested and sent to various parts of the body to be used. Protein and carbs both have 4 calories per gram, and fat has 9 calories per gram (McKinley Health Center). This gives us two important insights regarding the dietary intake of fat. First, we know why the “eat fat, get fat” movement started — if you eat a lot of fat, it has more calories per gram than the other macros, you get to watch your waistline expand. But here’s the second insight, with all of that energy jam-packed in each gram of fat, if you eat more fat (and can keep yourself from overdoing it at one sitting), you will feel full and satiated for longer. So should you be eating a high-fat diet? Depends. At resting or low-intensity exercise, defined as less than 50% of your VO2 Max (rule of thumb: if you can maintain conversation while doing the exercise, it’s low-intensity), your body prefers to use fat as it’s fuel. For high-intensity exercises, your body prefers to use carbohydrates (University of Montana). What does this mean as far as what you need to be doing? If your primary exercise is low-intensity, such as walking your dog, then eating a high-carb diet without adequate fat intake can lead to weight gain and can actually screw up your metabolism. If your primary exercise is high-intensity, such as wind-sprints or weight-lifting, then eating a high-fat diet without adequate carbs can lead to substandard training and can actually screw up your metabolism.

You may have noticed nearly back-to-back phrases of “screw up your metabolism.” I’ve got bad news and good news. If you eat the Standard American Diet (SAD), which is highly processed and “fat free” until you go crazy and eat a large pizza yourself, your metabolism is probably already screwed up. Actually, if you eat any diet that doesn’t have adequate carbs and fats, your metabolism is probably screwed up. The ideal metabolism is one that is able to switch from fats to carbs as necessary based on the current activity of the person — until I start sprinting, my body uses fat for fuel; while I’m sprinting, my body switches over to use carbs for the duration of the workout. The problem is that most of our bodies aren’t this efficient because we’ve confused them with our diets for most of our lives. But it’s going to be ok — we can fix it. By eating sources of fat and carbs at the right times throughout the day, we can teach our bodies to use each macro as needed.

Here’s how it looks: I workout at approximately 1600 hours every day, this means that just before and after my workouts, I concentrate my carb intake (this will be expanded on in the carbohydrate post). But it means that the rest of my day, I need to be focusing on getting my energy from good fat sources, animal meats (fish!), nuts, full-fat butter, peanut butter (all the women just breathed a sigh of relief). For those of you who took my advice on tracking your food, 100 grams of fat per day for men is recommended and 70-75g for women. These are obviously baseline numbers, you have to listen to your body. If you are starving all day long, increase your fat and protein intake.

Quick caveat before I wrap up this post — these numbers and the advice I give are based on you treating your body like an athlete. In this profession, we may have to complete physically demanding tasks at a moment’s notice without prior warning. This means that we need to be in top physical condition, because losing is unacceptable for us. Take pride in yourself and be prepared to do whatever is called of you. That means eating and training like an athlete. Workout of the Day:

  • 90 push-ups
  • 90 sit-ups
  • 2 mile run

Quote of the Day: “Battle is the most magnificent competition in which a human being can indulge. It brings out all that is best; it removes all that is base. All men are afraid in battle. The coward is the one who lets his fear overcome his sense of duty. Duty is the essence of manhood.” – General George S. Patton

Memorial Day Reflection

May 25th, 2015: 0030 hours

American Flag

May 23rd, 2015: 0935 hours

I just want to stop. The second mile of this hell is the hardest single mile I’ve ever run. My lungs struggling, my legs are burning, and my brain is screaming at me to quit. But I can’t. I absolutely cannot quit. Because he didn’t. Because they didn’t. Because I won’t quit when it’s my time.

Saturday May 23rd, 2015 — 0900 hours:

My wife, a fellow police officer, and I are in my garage. I’ve started the music and my wife prepares the clock. We are about to begin “Murph.” It is the quintessential Memorial Day workout: one mile run, 100 pull-ups, 200 push-ups, 300 body squats, one mile run. It is a mammoth of a workout. As prescribed it is done with a 20lb weighted vest. I’ve never met anyone in person who has done it prescribed. I’ve met few who can actually do all the movements without scaling to some degree. It’s fucking hard. But it’s important.

“Murph” was Lieutenant Michael P. Murphy of the United States Navy. Murphy was only the third serviceman to receive the Medal of Honor since President Bush sent troops to Afghanistan in 2001. He was awarded the Medal of Honor for his actions on June 28th, 2005. On that fateful day, Murphy led a four-man SEAL team into the Hindu-Kush Mountains in Afghanistan, tasked with capturing or killing a high-value Taliban target. Three of the four team members, including Murphy, were killed after being ambushed by overwhelming Taliban forces. The team killed an estimated 30-40 enemy fighters and inflicted an estimated 80 casualties. Murphy, despite severely critical and eventually fatal injuries, fought to high ground to call for help from the only spot his radio could get out (Navy Seals). He fought until his last breath and died with his selector switch on fire and surrounded by a pile of brass. He was a warrior. He was the warrior. He was what all of us warriors should strive to be.

I started as a police officer in August of 2012. I was trained how to fight. I was shown how to train. I experienced the camaraderie and true brotherhood (I’m not forgetting my sisters) of the Thin Blue Line. But every time I read a story about an officer dying or being killed, my heart breaks. Unlike the general population, I know that each and every one of us who wears a badge has a heart, a mind, and a family. My heart bleeds blue for the survivors. The hurt I felt while struggling through “Murph” doesn’t even touch the pain I feel at a police officer’s funeral. Because of that I promise something to every warrior out there:

I will not quit. When God decides it’s my time, fine, but I’m not making it easy on him. Everyone who stands on the line with me will get the best warrior I can be. And I will fight until my last breath. For my family, for you, for your family, and for everyone on the Officer Down Memorial Page, I will fight. I will train to be the baddest I can be. I will not let my training or physical fitness be a liability. My spirit will not wane. I love every one of my brothers and sisters, and I will fight beside them until the end. The Good Lord will drag me kicking and screaming from this world.

Take a moment this holiday and every Memorial Day that follows and consider what some have given. What we may be asked to give. I will gladly give all for all of you.

Quote of the Day:

“All gave some; some gave all.” – Howard William Osterkamp

Macros Part I: Brotein – The Building Blocks of Your Performance and Gains

May 24th, 2015: 2200 hours

I told you that a post on macro-nutrients was coming. But the more I researched, the more I realized that a single post on protein, carbohydrates, fats, and fiber would be monstrous and damn near impossible to read. Therefore, I am introducing a series of posts on macros. Part I is on, what I consider to be, the most important macro-nutrient — protein.

If you told me that you would only track your intake of one macro and asked me which one to use, I would, without hesitation, tell you to track your protein. Two main reasons exist for my conviction on this point: no other nutrient plays a bigger part in muscle-building (i.e. your performance) and there’s a pretty good chance that if you are trying to get more muscle, you aren’t eating enough protein.

It’s common knowledge that protein is the main player in tissue repair. For example, Mongo lifts heavy-ass weight. This workout causes Mongo’s muscles to tear. The body uses protein to repair the muscle tears. Mongo’s body is smart though. It realizes that it needs to improve to meet the increasing demands put on it by Mongo’s workload (i.e. weightlifting). The body will build Mongo’s damaged muscles bigger and better than they were before in order to meet a potential increase in workload. But Mongo needs to make sure he eats the right foods in the right amounts to help his body.

Your body is really fucking good at repairing and building itself. There are eleven Amino Acids (building blocks for protein) that your body makes naturally. If all you did was eat some food and lift weight, you would get stronger. That’s pretty good. But there are nine other Amino Acids that your body can’t make — you have to get them through your diet (Nerd Fitness).

Dietary protein, like all good things in life, varies wildly in quality. Ice Cream actually has a lot of protein, but you wouldn’t want to make a diet out of it. Well, you might want to, but you know can’t and maintain performance and/or any appearance standards. So what’s the short list of quality protein sources? Everything PETA screams about — chicken meat and eggs, beef, and pork are the three main staples used here in the Midwest. If you are in an area with fresh fish available, eat the hell out of it if you like it. If you don’t like it, grow up and learn to like it. Fish is ounce-per-ounce (only The Rock eats meat in pounds at a time) the best source of protein when you consider calories and fats. Fish has fats you need (don’t worry, Fat is the next part in this series). Eat animals. They are tasty and nutritious. If you are a vegetarian, honestly, find another blog. I don’t hold anything against you, but I don’t, currently, have the knowledge to help you. Some day I will.

So how much protein do you need a day? This is an ongoing debate among the health and fitness community. The Center for Disease Control says an adult female needs 46 grams a day and an adult male needs 56 grams per day (CDC). The CDC is definitely a credible source, but we have one problem: the CDC cares about survival, not performance. The 56 gram estimate is an absolute minimum for your body to function correctly. I’m looking for better than that. I’m looking for the amount of protein that will add muscle to your frame and increase your performance. For better or worse, we turn to a lot of Broscience on this point.

There are massively ranging estimates, as you can imagine, when you turn to bros for official numbers on anything, let alone science. The general trend in Broscience seems to be between one gram of protein per pound of lean body weight and one gram per pound of body weight. My body weight is in the neighborhood of 300 lbs. My lean body weight is in the neighborhood of 210 lbs. Depending on who you ask in the bro community, I should be eating either 210 grams of protein or 300 grams of protein daily.

There are more reputable sources who advocate along these two lines of thought. Eat to Perform is a website and company based around eating to fuel performance and workouts (hence, the name). They advocate eating one gram per pound (ETP), but they also state that larger individuals may want to consider lean mass instead. Two other reputable sources are Nerd Fitness and Mark Sisson of Mark’s Daily Apple, both are research based and very knowledgeable. Both of these two advise eating one gram per pound of lean body mass (Nerd Fitness, MDA). Which one is correct? I don’t know that one is better than the other. Depends on your goals. As law enforcement officers, we need to treat our bodies like athletes and both of these options are suitable. I personally follow the one gram per pound of lean body mass guideline. For now.

Since I’ve increased my protein intake, I recover from workouts faster, and I am noticeably stronger (though the my weight program obviously affects this). The main takeaway here is to track your protein and see what your daily intake is. If you have never used MyFitnessPal or any other tracker, don’t let it overwhelm you. Start slow. Just focus on protein for now, and we can work the other macros after we get protein under control.

Eat animals. Lift weights. Happy hunting.

Workout for May 23rd:

Murph–

  • Run one mile
  • 100 pull-ups, 200 push-ups, 300 body squats (broken up as needed)
  • Run one mile

A reflection post on Murph and Memorial Day is coming right after this one.

Quote of the Day:

“I do what I do because it is the right thing to do. I am a warrior and, and it is the way of the warrior to fight superior odds” – Paul Watson.

It’s A Numbers Game

April 21st, 2015: 2300 hours

In my previous post, I called out law enforcement officers across the country. Physical fitness is the single-greatest contributor to our success; composure, creativity, and mental toughness are all dependent on physical fitness. Integrity is the absolute most important characteristic of a quality peace officer, but if we polled LEOs nationwide on the top traits of successful officers, those other  three would be toward the top of any list. There are 1,001 qualities of a good officer (hence the difficulty of this job), but all of them come back to physical fitness. If you can control your body, push it to the limit, and be faster, stronger, for longer than the suspect, then you can have the confidence needed to perform with excellence otherwise. You can’t think, drive, or fight, if you can’t breathe.

Let’s look at some facts:

  • The generally used standard in physical fitness testing is done by the Cooper Institute. In Iowa, where I am an officer, hiring requires you meet the 40th percentile of the standards. That means that you have to exceed the physical capabilities of 40% of the people in your age group. To graduate the ILEA, you have to meet the 50% mark. (Cooper Standards here).
  • The average age of arrestees nationwide is 26-27 (FBI Report – page 58).
  • Offenders “size up” officers based on physical appearance and use that as a leading factor in the decision to resist arrest (Police Chief Magazine).
  • The average LEOs physical fitness is lower than half of the general population in these categories: aerobic fitness, body fat, and abdominal strength and average in upper body strength and lower-back flexibility (Police Chief Magazine).
  • “As a group, law enforcement officers have a greater morbidity and mortality rate than the general public, due mostly to cardiovascular disease, colon cancer, and suicide. Recent studies have shown an annual increase in the frequency and severity of cardiovascular incidences among law enforcement personnel. The risk of having a heart attack doubles with each decade of law enforcement service” – Police Chief Magazine (Wow.)

I can keep going. There is no shortage of articles, including denser, more scientific, and harder to read sources, from professors and graduate students at prestigious universities. The point is clear — we are, as a profession, weak, sick, fat, and have to be stronger, faster, for longer, than anyone at a moment’s notice.

Look at that link to the Cooper Standards. Seriously, please do it.

I posted the average age of arrestee as being 26-27. That means that we all need to be meeting the standards of that age group — and not the asinine 40th percentile either. We all need to be shooting for at least the 70th percentile. 90th is obviously preferred, but I’m a realist. How do we get there?

The first step is implementing physical wellness programs at every singe law enforcement agency in the country.

Every. Single. One.

Whether incentives or sanctions work better is material for another post, but this needs to happen —  yesterday. Officers need to hold each other accountable on the street. There is no reason we shouldn’t hold each other accountable in the weight-room, on the track, in the pool, or wherever. The benefits are numerous — ranging from meeting the physical demands of the street to morale and emotional health and many,many others (Fiedler – DOJ, Calea, Google).

I cannot think of a single valid reason that physical fitness isn’t a priority in the information age of policing. It comes down to changing the culture. It needs to change, right now.

My workout for 4/20/15:

  • 5 sets 5 reps: Front Squat – 185 lbs
  • 5 sets 5 reps: Bench Press – 155 lbs
  • 5 sets 5 reps: Bent-Over Row – 135 lbs
  • 3 sets 1 min: Farmer’s Carry – 70 lb kettle-bell each hand

My workout for 4/21/15:

  • 8 rounds for time: 4 deadlifts – 155 lbs, 4 body-weight ring rows, 4 over-the-bar burpees.
  • My time: 4:58

Quote of the day:

“The individual who says it is not possible should move out of the way of those doing it.” – Tricia Cunningham

Upcoming post: Nutrition – Tools, Tips, and Apps You Can Use to Eat and Feel Better.

Inaugural Post – Korte is in Session

April 16th, 2015: 0400 hours

The single greatest crisis facing law enforcement today is physical fitness.

You read that right. Read it again if you need to.

We have a lot going against us these days – the media, negligent behavior by less than 1% of LEOs, our frequent flyers – but, each one of these comes back to physical fitness. We are America’s fighting force — the main line of defense protecting our communities from each douchebag, terrorist, and psychopath. We are called on to solve every problem known to man, whether or not our personal knowledge or skills have any relevance. Policing was once defined to me in college as “something is happening, which ought not be happening, and someone needs to do something about it – NOW! (Brian Monahan – Policing in Society)”. From flat tires, to out-of-control seven-year-olds (I shit you not), to burglaries and murders, citizens call us to help them with the worst situations of their lives. What use are we if we don’t have physical fitness?

From helping an injured person on the ground to chasing a suspect on foot and wrestling him. From driving in a pursuit to winning a gunfight. From simply carrying stolen property back to an owner to helping someone change a tire. Everything we are called on to do in this career requires a baseline of physical fitness, but the baseline isn’t good enough — winning requires more. The problem is that there are too many of us that don’t even reach the unacceptable baseline. I have decided that I refuse to be a liability to anyone because of my physical fitness. You cannot be too fit; always strive to be better.

Let’s do a quick experiment:

Just Google image search “overweight cop.” Go ahead, this is important.

Embarrassed? It gets worse. Type in “fat cop.” There are so many hits that it suggests categories at the top ranging from “eating donuts” to “should I run.” If you are a LEO and aren’t embarrassed yet, check your pulse.

I’m embarrassed for my profession, my department, and myself. I’m just as guilty as everyone else. After the academy, I quit running. I rode around in a car for twelve hours at a time and scoffed at the idea of getting out on foot for any reason. Building checks? No. Foot patrol? Ha. Get another Mountain Dew? Well, maybe I could get out of the car now and then.

I’m overweight. Scratch that, I’m fat. I’m exactly what embarrasses me and disgusts me about the Thin Blue Line. So I’m calling for change – for myself and any of my brothers and sisters like me. It starts here and now. I will post my journey back to physical fitness. I will post motivation, tips, and information for everyone struggling like me. We can get through this shit-storm together. With all of the other pressures facing us right now, we need a positive place to improve ourselves. We need a safe place to fight the toughest battle this profession faces. This is the place and now is the time.

My workout for 4/15/2015:

5 sets 5 reps: Front Squat – 175 lbs

5 sets 5 reps: Bench Press – 145 lbs

5 sets 5 reps: Bent-Over Barbell Row – 125 lbs.

3 sets 1 minute: Farmer’s Carry – 53 lb kettlebells

Quote of the day:

“Train like your life depends on it – because it does” – Unknown