Wednesday, September 24, 2008
Experimintation is the KEY to Success!
Not only do I beleive strongly in this statement and am living proof of it, but my clients and readers agree.
Here is two separate emails I received today one from a woman in the Precision Nutrition Lean Eating Program for Women. The other is a young male client and protegue of mine.
Two very different styles of getting the same message across - EXPERIMENTATION IS KEY TO SUCCESS! Do not give up and enjoy the journey along the way. Enjoy!
Is Krista the coolest or what?
Just wanted to comment on last week's teleseminar assignment. I listened and relistened to the interview probably about 10 times. I didn't know who Krista was and have to be honest.... for some reason, i thought she was a man (past pro or semi-pro canadian football player... I obviously got her mixed up with someone else).
anyway... listening to her, I googled her... and saw some of her photos... then i went to her blog. I started scrolling down and saw her beginning photos (before a competition last year or earlier this spring (can't remember) then I kept reading and scrolling... to see how great she was looking. I didn't make it through all of the ba-zillion threads in the blog... but something that struck me was her comment about experimenting with high calories, or low calories... while she is getting cut for her next competition. I have never thought of food intake as a "big experiment". granted she is light years ahead of me in her nutrition and self discipline to keep to it... but the whole experimenting has kind of sort of come up here... where if something is not working, you have to make a small change to get it to start working again.
I've suffered from insanity for so long... (doing the same thing over and over, expecting a different result.) .. I have never looked at the experiment aspect. If something went wrong or quit working, I'd get frustrated and quit. Aslom I think "experimenting" also tends to imply the whole discussion about food not being inherently good or bad... ...
anyway... I really enjoyed the teleseminar. Thanks for the assignment.
Balancing Your Yin and Yang
The secret to improved health, body composition, and strength, Part I
by Kyle SOMMER - Biosignature Level I
Almonds increase cortisol.
Yep, it’s true. Given the right conditions, eating almonds can increase your cortisol and make you fat. Unfortunately, the same can be said about any food known to man. The good thing is that a food’s effect on your physique is conditional; it depends on your current state of balance with regards to Yin and Yang.
Yin and Yang – The Balance of all Things
The concepts of Yin and Yang come from ancient Chinese philosophy. Most of us should be at least relatively familiar with the terms. They represent the cosmic forces of the universe; yang represents more active, light, sun, and other qualities that could be thought of as “on,” while yin represents darkness, recovery, night time, and other similar ideas. So, for the spirit of this article, I want you to think of Yang as active, breaking down, and using up; for Yin, think of restoring, resting, and building.
Even though this is something you may not have even considered, you are currently engaged predominantly in one state or the other. If you are sipping a Starbucks at the office and reading this article to get your mind off of stress because you’re so behind in your work, then you are in a very Yang state. If you’re reading this after a big post-workout meal full of healthy carbs and a glass of red wine, you’re very Yin.
Your current state, or, as it pinpoints directly, is what I like to call your “relative” state of yin or yang. This is the state that can fluctuate on a day to day basis. Let me give you an example. If you currently follow the Anabolic Diet and today is a low-carb day with a Back and Chest workout scheduled, this day is quite Yang in its nature. It is focused predominantly on burning fats and causing damage to your body with little in the way of recovery. If we compared it to your carb-up day on the weekend, well, that is an entirely different story. You pretty much eat carbs all day and restore yourself and rest from the week of workouts – quite Yin indeed. If you look at an individual day in itself, mornings also tend to be Yang and nights Yin. Think about this, because you wake up in the morning and need energy (Yang), but at night you want to restore that energy for the next day (Yin).
In addition the relative state of Yin or Yang you are in, there is also an “absolute” state. This refers to the long-term balance of your life, and it is much more difficult to discern at first thought. An example I will give is the typical person who eats a diet very high in refined carbohydrates, is overweight, and is very sedentary. This person is out of balance towards the Yin state. They spend too much time building and restoring, but not enough using and acting. This conclusion seems obvious.
The Determinants of Yin and Yang
There are many things in life that can place you at different points on the Yin/Yang scale, both relatively and absolutely. The point of this article to help articulate some of those things, so you can determine where you lie on the continuum, and make adjustments to make yourself closer to balance.
As most of you know, food is probably the biggest tool we have in terms of changing our physique. There is a lot of discussion about macronutrient levels, calories, carbs, fats, and proteins, that any newbie trying to figure something out for himself might get information overload. The truth is that nutrition must be individualized – while this may seem easier said than done, I encourage you to look at it from a Yin and Yang perspective.
Your Somatotype and You
Everyone has heard the terms ectomorph, mesomorph, and endomorph; in general, we tend to think of them as having different nutritional requirements. Most of the time, it’s the fact that ectomorphs need to eat more carbohydrates, and endomorphs need to eat more fats and proteins, while mesomorphs lie somewhere in the middle. But why is this?
Without getting into arguments of genotype and agricultural history, I want to view this discussion in terms of Yin and Yang.
Consider your ectomorphic friend, Scrawny Sammy. He is thin, lean, and ripped, but has relatively no muscle mass. He always seems wired with too much energy, and eats crap food but can’t seem to put on a pound. I would argue that, by default, ectomorphic individuals are predisposed to states of Yang. Their dominant hormones seem to be adrenaline and cortisol. So, to balance this individual, he needs that high intake of carbohydrates, otherwise adrenaline and cortisol will be oversecreted. We know that insulin counteracts these hormones. Since Sammy’s body produces so much adrenaline and cortisol, any muscle he gains from training is destroyed by the release of these hormones. What can he do? Well, he must increase his intake of carbohydrates to increase insulin to counteract this problem – and he must eat enough of them to bring his body back into balance. As I will describe later, in most cases carbohydrates are a Yin food – recall the typical fat person example for a quick preview.
Turn next to the typical fat person. As I said before, he spends too much time in a Yin state. Most of the time, endomorphs or individuals of this nature are insulin dominant – relatively the opposite of Sammy’s example above. This person needs more Yang in their life – more activity, more protein and fat meals (to be explained later), and less carbohydrates to bring the Yin and Yang back into balance. We already know what happens if we increase the Yin in a person who has too much of it to begin with – insulin gets out of control and is released in far too large of quantities, causing the individual to gain fat at an alarming rate.
Everyone needs protein, of course. Protein stimulates both insulin and glucagon (insulin’s antagonist) secretion to some extent, but in general, it increases glucagon more, so I will argue here that protein provides a slightly Yang load. With that said, some proteins are more Yin than others, such as those high in the amino acids tryptophan and glycine as these can have inhibitory effects on the brain. Meat, in general, raises dopamine levels and boosts mood.
Everyone needs fats, too, particular essential fatty acids, like those found in fish oils. These fats don’t really have a yin or yang load – they are neutral, and we all require them to be healthy. Monounsaturated fats don’t seem to really have a load either, like those found in olive or macadamia nut oils. Saturated fats, such as animal fats and coconut oil, seem to be pro-inflammatory, and as such might be considered Yang. Nuts and eggs can raise acetylcholine levels for brain focus and heightened awareness, so they seem slightly Yang as well.
In most cases, carbohydrates are Yin foods. In almost all cases, they stimulate the release of insulin, which as we know is the building/storage hormone. Carbohydrate consumption increases serotonin release in the brain, helping one to feel more relaxed and at ease. Carbohydrates eaten at the right time contribute to glycogen re-synthesis in muscle tissue and enhanced recovery. Simple sugars, when consumed at the wrong time, will cause fluctuations in both hormones, so they can represent Yin or Yang depending on when and how they are consumed.
It has been written that there is no physiological need for carbohydrate – and technically, this is true. However, functionally, it couldn’t be farther from the truth. For someone like Scrawny Sammy, carbohydrates are damn near essential – without them, cortisol takes over, breaking down his tissues, costing him valuable sleep, and making him nervous and irritable. All of these things will consequently lead to drastically decreased health and quality of life because the Yang got out of control.
So what about those mesomorphs? Well, when we think of those guys, we generally think great genetics – they can eat like crap (relative to other genotypes) and still gain a lot of muscle and stay healthy. But, we know that with proper eating, ectomorphs and endomorphs can also achieve admirable physiques. I argue that mesomorphs are very centered in Yin and Yang by nature – so when they eat a mixed diet as is typical, they stay pretty well balanced – thus allowing their body to thrive and the gains to come quickly and the fat to stay off.
What about dieting?
When you want to get very very lean, it is almost always true that you will need to restrict yourself in some way. Usually, there is a drastic calorie cut, followed by a cut in macronutrients, usually carbohydrates or fat – the trend these days is carbohydrates. If you have been following the article thus far, you should recognize this as a very Yang state. You are correct, but don’t people get ripped doing this? What about that Yin/Yang balance I talked about earlier?
Well, depending on who you ask, there is almost ALWAYS a reefed implemented into these plans. A day of higher carbs, calories, whatever; it could be one day, two days, a week returning to baseline - it doesn’t really matter. While the act of dieting is very Yang on a relative (day to day) basis, adding in a reefed period while dieting can help keep you Yin on an absolute basis, helping your body to stay balanced and continue burning the fat. Authors often have conflicting opinions about what physiological mechanisms drive this – “it boosts the metabolism,” or “increases leptin sensitivity.” Too complicated – just do what works!
It will always take trial and error to find your break point – that is what is great about the sport of bodybuilding in and of itself. You are a constant experiment and you might have to try it several times to get it right. As my mentor Krista Schaus says, “The journey is important and paves the way to your goal,” and “Your body provides you with endless learning opportunities.”
In the next part of this article, I’ll show you some Yin and Yang meal combinations, and go over which activities and supplements are distinctly Yin and Yang, and how you can use them to help you reach your goals.
Kyle, I am really proud of this insight. It means you are quite into this journey and seizing those learning opporutities!