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  • Anthony Mychal 1:16 am on November 14, 2017 Permalink | Reply
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    How much WEIGHT do you have to LIFT in order to BUILD muscle? 

    You have what little muscle you have (HONESTY IS THE BEST POLICY OR SO I HEAR) thanks to gravity. If you want to be more muscular, you need to hop into a hyperbolic time chamber and overcome supergravity.

    In other words, you need to create and move against more resistance than what Earth's gravity already provides. Wrote about this in Part 2. I'll add to it in the future, but you're sitting pretty now because you know enough to face the question at hand:

    How much resistance (weight) do you have to move (lift) in order to build muscle?

    I could be blunt.

    Likely, at minimum, 60% of your one-repetition max (1RM). Or, if numbers scare you, just think: sticky movements.

    But, well, you know me. I like to explain things, which is why I'm going to undo my bluntness and dive into the deep. If my blunt answers weren't enough (or were confusing), you're welcome to suffer along with me.

    The RPG analogy to end all analogies (or my sanity, haven't decided)

    Imagine that you're a character in an RPG. Your ability to overcome “load” (established in Part 2) exists on a spectrum that goes from Level 0 to Level 99.

    overcome load level spectrum

    When you're Level 1, you can barely overcome Earth's gravity. Level 99 represents your biological ceiling. The maximum load you've ever be able to overcome.

    (You aren't at your biological ceiling. Even the greatest athletes in the world improve slightly from year to year. Don't worked up about where you are in relation to your ceiling. You just need to know that one exists.)

    For gits and shiggles, let's assume you're Level 20. (You're obviously not Level 1. If you were, you wouldn't be able to move.) With this Level, and every Level, comes certain realities dictated by the rules of the RPG.

    First, you have a magic spell for every Level. So you have a Level 1 magic spell, a Level 2 magic spell, a Level 3… all the way up to Level 20.

    Second, your maximum magic capacity is your Level. Since you're Level 20, you have 20 magic points available.

    Third, each spell uses an amount of magic commensurate with its Level. If you use a Level 5 spell, you use 5 magic points.

    Fourth, after you use a magic spell, your magic points slowly regenerate over time.

    Fifth, the higher Level you are — the more robust and powerful you are — the more resources it takes to keep yourself afloat. You have more everything so you need more everything to accommodate for said everything.

    If you aren't a video game nerd, the above analogy won't stick well. Sorry I'm not sorry. Consider this the wedgie you always deserved but never got.

    How your spells influence you

    You're Level 20. You use your Level 1 magic spell. It only requires 1 magic point. Considering you have 20 magic points available, the overall impact on you isn’t huge. You still have 19 points available.

    But say you use a Level 18 spell. You now only have 2 magic points left, which means the overall impact on you is huge. The fact that you only have 2 magic points left makes you vulnerable. Even a peon enemy can beat you because you can’t use stronger spells (until you recover).

    So a Level 18 spell is stressful on a Level 20 character. It’s stressful from a resource standpoint (it uses up a lot of magic points relative to your overall capacity). It’s also stressful from an impact standpoint (after you use it, you’re vulnerable because you can't use higher spells).

    You are a moist machine

    The not so general rule of thumb: higher Level spells are more stressful than lower Level spells — an important factoid because your body isn't a huge fan of stress. Your body is a much bigger fan of stasis, which is to say: equilibrium and balance. When you're stressed, your survival is compromised.

    So say you're Level 20. You constantly find yourself throwing Level 15 spells. In other words, you're undergoing chronic stress. You're always in a weakened state.

    If your body were a regular machine, the only thing it'd be able to do is recover and repair as much (and as quickly) as possible in between spells.

    Fortunately, your body isn't a regular machine. Your body is a moist biological machine with… abilities. It can adapt, change, and become a creature better able to survive certain situations. In other words, your body can Level Up.

    How to Level Up

    When you're Level 20, throwing Level 15 spells is stressful. But what if you are Level 30? Or Level 40? Throwing those same Level 15 becomes a much less stressful experience.

    So if you're Level 20 and you find yourself going through the chronic charade of throwing Level 15 spells, your body can make a calculated decision to Level Up.

    Leveling Up might not seem like a difficult decision to make. Your body doesn't like to be stressed, and, by Leveling Up, your body won't be as stressed.

    But there are downsides to Leveling Up. Remember, being a higher Level requires more resources. Requiring more resources is also a “vulnerability” because you become less energy efficient. As mentioned, in Part 1, your body doesn't fuck around when it comes to energy.

    The big juicy RPG analogy flaw

    If your body is stressed from chronically throwing high Level spells, it can Level Up. This is the nugget nectar, the reason we're here. But before we eat the nectar, I have to first mention a big juicy flaw in this RPG analogy.

    I created the flaw on purpose to make things less complicated, but now it's time to undo it and make things more complicated.

    Initially, I established linear rules for the RPG. Your magic spell uses an amount of magic commensurate with your Level. In other words:

    • Level 1 spell uses 1 magic point
    • Level 6 spell uses 6 magic points
    • Level 18 spell uses 18 magic points

    If you plot this out on a graph (magic points vs. Level), you get a nice straight line. One step east takes you one step north. The stress of your spells increases linearly; a Level 2 spell is twice as taxing as a Level 1 spell.

    linear level spectrum

    But, in reality, there's a nonlinearity to stress. In other words, one step to the east won't always take you one step to the north.

    How to break your leg in style

    You stand on a one foot high wall and jump off. Then you stand on a two foot high wall and jump off. Then you stand on a three foot high wall and jump off. The idea: the higher the wall, the rougher the landing.

    In this sense, it seems that jumping off a wall plays by the same linear rules established five seconds ago. But it doesn't. Here's why.

    Imagine jumping off a one foot wall twenty times. You can calculate the impact as (ten impacts @ 1 foot = ten feet worth of impact).

    Imagine jumping off a ten foot wall one time. You can calculate the impact as (one impact @ ten feet = ten feet worth of impact).

    Despite both situations adding up to ten feet worth of impact, you know, intuitively, that each situation is a lot different, which is why you'd rather jump off a one foot wall ten times.

    Say hello to my little nonlinear friend

    The increased severity that comes with jumping off the ten foot wall is a product of nonlinearity. When you plot nonlinearity on a graph, you end up with a curve instead of a straight line. This curve has an inflection point —  a point where the line heads north at a more rapid rate.

    nonlinear level spectrum

    Establishing nonlinearity is important because it gives you a more accurate depiction of how stress correlates to certain Level spells.

    Earlier, you might have concluded that twenty consecutive Level 1 spells was “equal” to one Level 20 spell. But now, if you overlap this nonlinear curve atop the Level spectrum, you can see that a Level 1 spell might only use fractions of one magic point.

    Ceiling versus comfort 

    The presence of nonlinearity enables a comfort zone on the Level spectrum in relation to your ceiling. (Your ceiling is simply your current Level.) Given your current Level, there's a cluster of spells you can use regularly without excessive stress baggage.

    ceiling versus comfort level spectrum

    At some point, however, the comfort zone fizzles, and the spells get exponentially more stressful… which is exactly where you want to be. In case you fell asleep, let me tell you why.

    Leveling Up and building muscle

    If you want to build muscle, you have to Level Up. Making your body Level Up is the point; muscle mass is a byproduct of Leveling Up.

    In order for you to Level Up, you have to throw spells beyond your comfort zone. You have to stress your body, otherwise, you body will have no reason to upgrade.

    This brings us to the question we've been mining from the start. At what point does the comfort zone break down? At what point do the spells become stressful enough to get the body thinking about Leveling Up?

    Gravity as an enemy

    Time to shift from RPG to reality. Hopefully the transition'll be smooth. We're all fighting the same enemy (same load): Earth’s gravity. This is like always fighting a Level 3 enemy.

    If we were Level 3, we'd be constantly stressed out bonkers. In order for us to face a Level 3 enemy on the regular, our body has to adapt to a point where a Level 3 enemy is safe and comfortable.

    In other words, our ceiling — our real Level — has to be higher than Level 3. When you’re Level 20, Level 3 enemies aren’t a big deal. And that’s what your body wants; your body wants stasis. Balance. Ease.

    The, uhh, Nazi salute…?

    Take any single movement you can think of. Let's use the Nazi salute as an example, just because it's offensive and I was told that offending people would get me more followers.

    This Nazi salute, without weight, is a Level 3 spell according to our analogy. In other words, we're coasting in the comfort zone.

    Now, slowly add weight to the movement by the pound. You're making your hand heavier and heavier. Eventually, you'll hit a point where you'll be unable to lift your arm in the air. This weight represents your one-repetition max (1RM) — the amount of weight you can lift one single time.

    This 1RM represents your current max Level, which anchors the nonlinear curve. The sweet spot, the point at which you comfort zone fizzles, is somewhere around 60% of your 1RM.

    So if you want to build muscle, if you want to stress yourself, you should be lifting at least 60% of your 1RM on a regular basis.

    Another analogy!

    If you want to build muscle, you need to go beyond your load comfort zone. There's now a number attached to this concept. Hurrah! Everyone can go home now.

    Just kidding.

    I'm going to take things one step further and explain something I've already explained… a slightly different way. Surprising, right? Who would have expected such a thing?


    I would have expected such a thing.

    Because I know me.

    Atop this Level spectrum, we can consider yet another spectrum. The SPRING – STICK spectrum.

    Springing and sticking

    You can contract your muscles. You can relax your muscles. In the end, this is what every movement boils down to. But, funnily enough, you can't move when you're 100% in either extreme.

    • Total relaxation, you can’t move.
    • Total contraction, you can’t move.

    Overcoming load is a combination of contraction and relaxation, with movement being biased towards an extreme.


    Contraction based movements are sticky. Grindy. Friction. In order to be sticky, you have to contract. If your car breaks down on the side of the road and you have to push it, chances are you’re going to be all sorts of sticky moving.


    Relaxation based movements are springy. Bouncy. Ballistic. In order to be springy, you have to relax. If I ask you to throw a baseball as far as you can, chances are you're going to be all sorts of springy moving.

    Stick stick sticky

    On the Level spectrum, there's an inherent flow from SPRING to STICK. In other words, the maximum load you're able to (consciously) overcome is inherently sticky. Consider this your aforementioned 1RM, your ceiling.

    As you reduce the load, you become less contraction based. Eventually, you'll reach a point where you're able to comfortably relax and spring under a given load.

    Surprise, surprise…

    This transition from stick to spring is likely somewhere around 60% of your 1RM.

    In other words, if wondering how much resistance you need to overcome in order to build muscle and you don't want to drown in calculus, simply ask yourself: are you performing an honest sticky movement?

    Honest sticky movements

    It's worth qualifying the “honest” adjective I used. Be honest: did you cheat on me? I need to know. Was it me? Was it my fault? I can't change, baby, but I can sure as hell put on a façade and make it seem like I can (and will) even though I won't; we'll be back in the same spot two years from now; it'll be a recurring loop and we'll die unhappily ever after.

    You decide to walk slow and sticky up the steps, but you could leap and bound quickly up those same steps. So walking up the steps, no matter how you do it, isn’t an “honest” sticky movement.

    A good marker to judge honest sticky movements: if you tried your hardest, could you be springy or leave the surface of the earth? If you can't (to a huge degree, or for a long time), you're probably in an honest sticky zone.

    How to not build muscle

    So. Finally. We've made it. Muscle growth is a byproduct of Leveling Up. Leveling Up is an adaptation in response to chronic stress. Otherwise said, constantly facing 60% 1RM. Or, constantly overcoming a sticky load.

    I realize how lol that last sentence sounds, and it's a bit too lol for me to care.

    But as one door closes, another opens.

    You can train at 60% of your 1RM, be sticky as all hell, and struggle to build muscle… for a few reasons. The one I want to tackle next: exercise selection.

    There are better and worse exercises. Not surprisingly, a lot of people tend to do the worse ones.

    Coming soon…

    This is the end of Part 3. Part 4 is in the works. If you want to know when it drops, signup for my weekly email column. 

    → Click here to signup


    I realize there are flaws aplenty within this analogy. My use of “stress” only occurring at 60% of your 1RM is sketchy because it neglects load load explosive work that can be immensely stressful.

    The post How much WEIGHT do you have to LIFT in order to BUILD muscle? appeared first on Anthony Mychal.

  • Anthony Mychal 5:17 pm on November 10, 2017 Permalink | Reply
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    Why counting calories is a game for idiots that are… idiotic. Pretend this sentence is a yo mamma joke, I’m out to offend. 

    If you're trying to lose fat and build muscle, you probably know a thing or two about energy and calories. Or maybe you don't, in which case you need to read Part 1.

    If you're too lazy to read Part 1, the following recap'll have to do.

    • Your body needs energy.
    • You're using energy 24/7.
    • You get energy from food.
    • Energy is measured in calories.
    • There's intake and output.
    • Output > Intake = Deficit/Loss
    • Intake > Output = Surplus/Gain

    Sounds good.

    But its shit.

    For two reasons.

    The first reason is the sexier of the two, which is exactly why I'm saving it for later. Grandma's rule. So let's start with the second reason. (I hate myself.)

    Introducing: counting calories

    Energy balance dictates body composition through the “rules” listed above.

    • Output > Intake = Deficit/Loss
    • Intake > Output = Surplus/Gain

    For all intents and purposes, we can say that, if you're using the “rules” above, you're using a strategy known as “counting calories.”

    Counting calories entails (a) finding out how many calories you burn in a given day, and then (b) finding out how many calories you eat in a given day.

    You then use the “rules” above to hack the system.

    • If you want to gain weight, you make sure you're eating more than what you need.
    • If you want to lose weight, you make sure you're eating less than what you need.

    This is the same concept I established at the end of Part 1, I'm just giving the art itself a name for easy reference.

    Counting calories: truth versus practicality

    Forget about the “rules” supporting the calorie counting infrastructure. Instead, look at the practicality. Counting calories is only a viable strategy if you can do two things:

    • Reliably calculate daily energy output.
    • Reliably calculate daily energy intake.

    You HAVE to be able to do these two things and get reliable values for each, otherwise you're playing a game of chess against an opponent using invisible pieces.

    If you think you're eating 2000 calories per day, but you're actually eating 3000 calories per day, you've got some problems. Likewise, if you think you're burning 3000 calories per day, but you're actually burning 2000 calories per day, you've got some problems. So this whole “data reliability” issue is something to look into.

    No big deal. Lots of people would say you can reliably calculate your daily energy intake and your daily energy output. People do it all the time. Right?


    I mean, you can.

    But you can't.

    I mean, here's what I mean.

    The LOLWTFBBQ of estimating calorie (energy) output

    Let's start here: calculating daily energy output. In other words, finding out how many calories your body uses every day — your average daily metabolic rate.

    Most people use calculators on the Internet to find their average daily metabolic rate. Google search ‘metabolic rate calculator’, and you’ll find hundreds of different calculators.

    Some of them estimate your basal metabolic rate (BMR), which is the amount of energy you’d output if you did nothing but rest in bed all day. Most of us do more than rest in bed, which is why there are total daily energy expenditure (TDEE) calculators.

    (I'm going to assume you aren't sinking in a confusing sea of acronyms even though I realize the possibility.)

    So check it out. I want to count calories. I need to know my daily energy output (metabolic rate). I do some Googling. I find three different BMR calculators.

    I give each website the same pieces of information (height, weight, age) and here's what happens:

    • active.com: 2,123 calories per day
    • calculator.net: 1,998 calories per day
    • bmrcalculator.org: 2000 calories per day

    How can each calculator poop out different results despite using the same information? Gah. Oh well. The variance between each result isn't huge. I'm fine. Right?

    Part dos of the LOLWTFBBQ of estimating calorie (energy) output

    I have my BMR. Or what I believe to be my BMR. But I do more than watch Netflix in bed every second of every day. And, hey, I'm smarter than the average sasquatch. I know a bunch of things influence my daily metabolic rate.

    I know that my physical activity is a factor; if I move around more, I'll use more energy. I know that my body composition is a factor; muscle is more metabolically active than fat, which means a 200 pound person with 10% body fat will have a higher metabolic rate than a 200 pound person with 30% body fat.

    I don't want to ignore these things, so I look for a TDEE calculator. Google takes me to tdeecalculator.net. I punch in my activity level and body fat percentage. I’m told that my TDEE is a whopping 3,691 calories per day.


    Not long ago, I was working with a 2000 calorie per day BMR. Now I'm being told I can house 3,691 calories per day. In other words, every day I can eat six more Snickers® bars than I originally thought I could.

    TDEE, BMR, and LOL

    Considering my BMR is the amount of calories I'd burn if I were decomposing in a nursing home, I'm going to use my TDEE estimation for calorie counting purposes. (Because, uhhh, I'm not dying. I mean, I am dying. We're all dying, but…)


    Here's the deal…

    Although many things do influence your metabolic rate, more often than not, accounting for every known variable gives you an illusion of control more than actual control.


    Your body composition does influence your metabolic rate. But, chances are, the body fat percentage you think you have isn't accurate.

    Home body fat measurement tools like bioelectric impedance scales are terrible. They’re overly sensitive to hydration. Drink a glass of water, your body fat goes up five percent. Wait, what? Body fat calipers also have big error in untrained hands.

    In general, most ways to measure your body fat percentage in the comfort of your own home are bogus. If you want a real estimate, you have to be getting results via hydrostatic weighing, BodPod, or DEXA.


    Physical activity also influences your metabolic rate. But, often times, defining your physical activity is a crap shoot. For instance, the TDEE calculator mentioned above gives five different activity categories:

    • Sedentary (office job)
    • Light exercise (1-2 days/week)
    • Moderate exercise (3-5 days/week)
    • Heavy exercise (6-7 days/week)
    • Athlete (2x/day)

    But these categories don’t even define the type of exercise being done. And, to make matters worse, us humans suffer from all sorts of cognitive biases that make us overestimate just how active we really are.

    Meaning I'm going to report (I did report) that I exercise vigorously, when, really, REALLY REALLY, I probably only exercise moderately.

    Part w/e of the LOLWTFBBQ of estimating calorie (energy) output

    Let's hop back to the TDEE calculation. I was estimated to have a TDEE of 3,691 calories. But, well, I was using estimates to get this estimate. If using estimates in order to estimate something sounds like a recipe for estimation error, that's because it is.

    I plugged in values for both body composition and physical activity, neither of which were 100% accurate. In other words, the likelihood of my TDEE being 3,691 calories isn't great.

    To make matters worse, things get hairier than an Italian man's arms. For instance, non-exercise activity thermogenesis (NEAT) also impacts your metabolic rate. NEAT is the energy you use when you're macromoving, but not exercising.

    Are you sitting upright, or are you slouching? (Sitting upright uses more energy.) Are you shivering right now? (Uses more energy.) Picking your nose? (Uses energy, unless you eat the booger.)

    No metabolic rate calculator overtly accounts for NEAT. In other words, the likelihood of my TDEE being 3,691 calories is even less great than it was two paragraphs ago, before I mentioned hairy Italians and boogers.

    Part finito of the LOLWTFBBQ of estimating calorie (energy) output

    The only way to know your true metabolic rate is to lock yourself into a vacuum sealed room that's able to measure all of the heat that escapes from your body.

    You don’t have access to one of these rooms. Gaining access to one of these rooms is useless unless you also plan on abandoning your life and living inside for a few days.

    Point being: any quantification you have of your energy output — your daily metabolic rate — is a baby born from a soupy estimation orgy.

    I'm going to press pause and shift focus. Before I get to the implications, I have to break down the flip side of counting calories: measuring energy intake.

    The LOLWTFBBQ of estimating calorie (energy) intake

    Calculating energy intake is a two-step process. First, you measure how much food you eat. Second, you find out how many calories are in said quantity of food. There are two ways to find out how many calories are in any given food: food labels and the Internet.

    Do you hear it coming?

    The shit storm?

    Unfortunately, calculating energy intake is just as flawed as calculating output. Because, uhhh, bacon.



    You find out there 80 calories in two cooked strips of bacon. This is what the bacon package says. So you put two strips of bacon in a pan. You cook 'em up.

    From experience, you know that grease yield is correlated to bacon crispiness. In other words, the longer you cook the bacon, the more grease cooks off.

    How does this factor into the 80 calorie estimate? If you like under-cooked chewy rubbery bacon is there more calories in those two slices?

    Good question.

    I don't know the answer.

    The calories you eat aren't the calories you absorb

    Nutrition labels are vague by necessity. They are based on averages. Perhaps you ate 100 calories worth of bacon instead of 80 calories.

    Seems trivial, but imagine if this margin of error replicated. For every 80 calories you thought you ate, you actually ate 100 calories. At the end of the day, you'd sleep thinking you ate 2000 calories when, really, you ate 2500 calories.

    According to an article in The New York Times, food labels can be wrong by up to 25%. Not because of bacon blunders, but, rather, because the amount of calories you pour down your gullet isn't necessarily the amount of calories your body absorbs.

    Here's an explanation. Or three.


    Each macronutrient requires a different amount of energy to break down and digest. This is referred to as the thermic effect of food (TEF).

    For instance, it takes more energy to break down proteins than it does fats. So eating 100 calories of fats yields more energy than eating 100 calories of proteins.


    Cooking and processing make foods easier to absorb, which means we expend less energy in an attempt to digest them. Its like the difference between hammering down a brick wall and blowing over a tepee.

    So if you eat a 100 calorie non-processed food, your body will spend more energy to digest it as compared a 100 calorie processed food. In other words, your body absorbs more of the processed food's calories.

    Or two.

    Headlines get your attention

    I could go on. There are more reasons why counting calories and measuring food intake is a crap shoot. Bottom line of all this being:

    • We don't really know our energy output, and estimating it is tough.
    • We don't really know our energy intake, and measuring it is tough.

    In other words, despite energy balance and thermodynamics ruling the world of body composition, hacking the system is impossible.



    I'm a piece of shit.

    Piece of shit is me

    I'm a piece of shit because I'm nitpicking. On purpose. Putting the appropriate spin on things because headlines are everything… or something. Pretending to be smarter than I really am.

    Because, despite it being impossible to “hack the system,” the only way to navigate this alphabet soup is to… hack the system.

    Calculating your energy output is flawed. Measuring energy intake is flawed. Counting calories as a strategy is imperfect. Very imperfect.

    But you still need to do it.

    Why you need to count calories

    Counting calories is the only hand you have to play with the cards you've been dealt. You just have to understand one thing (that most people don't): everything is a shitty imperfect estimate.

    Too many people approach calorie counting as if they are holding the law in their hands, which turns things into one shitty game of cops and robbers. You do the work, you have the numbers in front of you, you go HAM, and things don't work as expected.

    What's wrong? Why isn't this working? I'm eating less than I'm burning. Why can't I lose weight? Must be my genetics. I knew I wasn't built for this.

    But that's not the case. You're just getting duped by the world; you weren't equipped with the proper expectations and mindset, which is that (a) everything is an estimate, and (b) we know less than we think we do.

    The answer isn't to get more specific and detailed in an attempt to gain control over the situation. That just screws things up. The answer is to zoom out. To go broad. To not be as anal with calorie counting (because there is error all over the place anyways). To embrace trial and error. To use real feedback to guide the process.

    The first, sexier


    You might now be wondering… How? How do you take the last paragraph and put it into practice? I'll get to this sooner or later. I want to stay focused and connect with something I mentioned earlier.

    I said there were two reasons why all of this energy balance talk is shit. Above is the second reason. Thermodynamics (and energy balance) is true, but hacking its source code isn't as easy as it appears. A lot of people get duped by the numbers because they associate them with certainty. But there is none, initially.

    Now its time for the first reason. The sexier reason. The reason why the people that say “I want to lose weight” are doomed.

    This is the end of Part 2. Part 3 is in the works. If you want to know when it drops, signup for my weekly email column. 

    → Click here to signup

    The post Why counting calories is a game for idiots that are… idiotic. Pretend this sentence is a yo mamma joke, I’m out to offend. appeared first on Anthony Mychal.

  • Anthony Mychal 2:33 pm on October 30, 2017 Permalink | Reply
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    An incredibly long and somewhat useful guide to understanding energy balance and body composition 

    A lot of dudes trying to get ripped and jacked anchor their ships in the energy balance model of body composition.

    If you don't know what energy balance is or why its important, don't panic. This guide will teach you everything you need to know.

    Including the fact that 95.9% of the people anchoring their ships in the energy balance model are going to end up swimming with the sharks.

    Part one

    How to eat Twinkies and Doritos and lose weight

    Haub. Energy use and exercise. Cost of living. Eating and Birdman. Calories and capitalization. Vacuum cleaners and cords. Intake and output. 

    → Click here to read Part 1

    Part two

    Coming soon…

    If you want to know when it drops, signup for my weekly email column. 

    → Click here to signup

    The post An incredibly long and somewhat useful guide to understanding energy balance and body composition appeared first on Anthony Mychal.

  • Anthony Mychal 2:31 pm on October 30, 2017 Permalink | Reply
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    How to eat Twinkies and Doritos and lose weight 

    On Sunday nights, you'll find me shoving a bunch of junk food down my esophagus to ignite an insulin induced coma.

    All of my (First World) problems fade. My body can't give my brain the blood it needs to feed my anxiety. My blood, instead, is diverted towards my intestines in a feeble attempt to deal with the bolus of food crashing towards my colon.

    dodgeball movie junk food

    A nutrition professor at Kansas State University named Mark Haub ate nothing but junk food for ten weeks, but for an entirely different and even more outlandish reason: to lose weight.

    And he did.

    Haub lost a total of 27 pounds over those 10 weeks.

    His specific strategy went something like this: eat assorted Hostess and Little Debbie pre-packaged cream filled somehow stay fresh forever snack cakes every three hours. He mixed in Doritos and other junk food.

    Because, variety.

    Haub was out to prove that weight gain and weight loss wasn't about eating healthy. It wasn't about how many meals you ate, or how frequently you ate. Nor was it about when you ate what.

    It was about one thing. And this one thing allowed him to eat junk food and lose weight.

    Sounds too good to be true. What is this one thing? SORCERY? CHEAT CODES? WIZARDRY? MANA? And can anyone use it to lose weight?

    Let's find out.

    This is Part 1 of the Energy Balance Blueprint. Click here to go to the table of contents. If you don't want to miss any updates to this series, signup for my weekly email column here.

    You aren't special

    There's a car parked in your driveway. This car is energy because all matter is energy. Oh the wonders of physics. This car’s parts can (and will) be broken down and transformed into other sorts of energy by Mother Nature and Father Time.

    You're no different. You are a living breathing biological organism, but, realistically, you're just a molecular mess of energy trapped inside of a skin bag. When you die, your skin, bones, and reproductive organs will undergo a magnificent feat of cosmic recycling.

    Your eyeball could very well be recycled matter from Plato’s penis. And your penis could very well be recycled cosmic matter from Plato's brain, which would make you one smart dickhead.

    You need this, or else you die

    It’s one thing to be energy. It’s another thing to need energy. A parked car is energy, but it doesn’t need energy until you turn the key in the ignition. The car needs a certain amount of energy to turn on and stay on.

    Humans are no different. But your relationship with energy intake and energy output is probably broken because of McFitness propaganda. A lot of people think that, when they are in the gym exercising, their engine is on. Oppositely, when they aren’t in the gym exercising, their engine is off.

    • Exercise, on.
    • Non-exercise, off.

    BzzzZzzZzzzZ. Gringo buzz. Wrong. Because according to Dr. Peter Attia, if your body stops recycling energy for just one second, you die. That's all. Just one second. Death.

    So, right now, you're using and recycling energy. Unless you're dead. You’re obviously not dead. At least, I hope you aren't dead. Because then I’m dead, too. Is this a parallel universe?



    They’re here.

    poltergeist girl

    You never stop exercising

    Your body is always doing things you don’t consciously think about doing. But now I’m asking you to consciously think about the things that your body unconsciously does that you don’t consciously think about doing. (I’m more confused now than when I tried to read Gödel, Escher, Bach.)

    • Your heart beating.
    • Your brain thinking.
    • Your kidneys filtering.
    • Your intestines digesting.

    These processes aren’t free. Your brain accounts for 20–25% of the energy you use at rest. Digesting food? Another 10–15% of your energy use. These processes not only require energy, but they’re also essential processes. Meaning: without them, you die.

    You may not always be macromoving, which is to say: moving to the visible eye. But you are very much micromoving. Take a look at yourself under a microscope. You cells are partying like it’s 1999.

    So even if you've been watching TV for so long that the fabric of your couch is now one with your body, you're still “on” and using energy. You're just not “on” to a high level. You're idling in the driveway.

    When you enter the world of macromovement, you output more. You're taking joyrides. You're cruising the Autobahn.

    I can't think of a clever headline

    You always output. And output demands intake. Doesn’t matter if you’re parking in a driveway, or driving on a parkway. Something needs to support your output, otherwise you run out of energy, die, and become food for the raccoon living in the backyard.

    And thus, you feast.

    For millions of years, humans knew they had to eat. They probably didn’t understand much about the who, what, when, or why. But they were smart enough to listen to their gut.

    Or maybe they weren’t. Maybe they thought they were BirdDddDddmMmaAan and they sat in the sun to satisfy their hunger. And then they died. Natural selection at its finest.

    Cavemen were able to handle the relationship between intake and output by using wonderful internal feedback mechanisms, like hunger pangs, food cravings, and satiety loops.

    But science has pushed us beyond the primitive reality. Food isn’t a magic unknown anymore. Food is a number. Food is calories.

    Calories aren't fattening

    Many people think calories are “fattening” or “sugar,” or so it would appear based on those hidden camera TV shows.

    Guy asks, “Do you count calories?”
    Person replies, “Absolutely.”
    Guy asks, “What’s a calorie?”
    Person replies, “Me like for you to cheese unicorn turtle.”

    The same thing happens if you ask someone about gluten. Don't take my word for it. Try it out.

    Calories are measurement of energy, much like a degree is a measurement of temperature. They weaseled their way into the food industry when some totally (in)sane person put food inside of a contraption known as a bomb calorimeter.

    The calorimeter lit the food on fire (or something), which allowed said (in)sane person to calculate the energy content within foods. The discovery: each of the thee primary macronutrients (proteins, carbohydrates, and fats) always had a certain caloric value.

    • Protein = 4 calories per gram.
    • Carbohydrate = 4 calories per gram.
    • Fat = 9 calories per gram.

    (One gram of alcohol contains 7 calories. If you’re in the paleo crowd, I’m sure there’s something worth mentioning here about exogenous ketones here, but I’m not going there because I don't know how to go there.)

    Calorie capitalization

    I should mention the difference between “calories” and “Calories” to prevent trolls from coming of their troll hole and asking for the troll toll so they are able to pay their way into the boy’s soul.

    troll toll boy's soul

    The “calories” you’re familiar with are big c Calories. Technically big c Calories are kilocalories, or 1000 small c calories.

    For practical purposes, you can ignore everything written in the last paragraph. And, if you’re not American, you might measure food energy in joules. But I’m going to do the American thing and pretend like the world revolves around me and not talk about joules.

    Quick summary before more confusion

    I'm going to bring together the ideas mentioned thus far before spewing new ones into your cerebrum.

    Your body uses energy (output).

    Your output is made up of both macromovement and micromovement. You can also think of output as a combination of deliberate energy use and non-deliberate energy use.

    • When you go to the gym and move your body, you're deliberately deciding to use energy.
    • When your intestines are tearing down the six bean burrito you just muscled down your esophagus, not so much.

    But what if, like, you get up and walk to the bathroom right now? You're, like, moving and stuff and you're choosing to get up, but, like is that deliberate or, like, non-deliberate?

    I, like, hate, like, everything.

    On the flip side, your body requires energy (intake).

    Your intake consists of the food you eat.

    Life is a delicate juggle between performing actions and functions needed to sustain life, and also getting the materials needed to perform those actions and functions.

    If I had the confidence of Nietzsche, I'd spend paragraph upon paragraph talking about the ouroboros and the fact that, in order to get the energy you need to sustain life, you have to expend energy. What a fooooiiiine paradox. I'd take that paradox and do nasty things to it MmmhhmMhhMmhMmhhm.

    Let's talk vacuum cleaners

    I own a Shark vacuum cleaner. Thing is a monster. Sucks the cat hair out the carpet fibers like its turning tricks.

    This vacuum works via the same process I've been describing. There's energy intake, there's there's energy output. Just like a car. But there's one big difference: the vacuum needs to be plugged into an electrical outlet in order to get the energy it needs.

    Imagine if cars were built the same way. Bitches be trippin', yo. No, seriously. Everyone would be tripping over the electrical cords. They'd be everywhere.

    Fortunately, cars have a gas tank. They are able take in more energy than they immediately need and store the excess for later use.

    Humans are similar. You don't have to eat 24/7. You eat a bunch of food, then go about your day. Your intake is sporadic because you're able to store energy.

    Car analogy getting into car wreck

    This car analogy has treated us nicely thus far, but, as you'll see, it'll eventually go to shit. I need to add a few remaining details to it, for it to serve the temporary goal at hand. The implications of these details will be more important later rather than sooner.

    Your car has its immediate gas tank. Okay. Wonderful. Now pretend there's a bunch of red fuel canisters in the trunk. These red fuel canisters are hot wired into the car's main fuel line, and they abide by following automation rule: once the immediate fuel tank goes empty, begin dispensing fuel into the main line.

    On the flip side, for this analogy to do its eventual job, you also have to pretend that gas stations aren't predictable from both a location and yield standpoint.

    You don't know when you're going to reach the next gas station, and you don't know how much fuel the gas station will have available.

    Given this, when you reach a gas station, you tend to extract as much fuel from the gas station as you possibly can. Makes sense, right? You don't want to run out of fuel. If you never know when you're going to stumble across another gas station, you better extract as much fuel as you can when you can.

    So say you have a 10 gallon immediate fuel tank. You have 5 gallons of fuel remaining, but you reach a gas station that has 7 total gallons of fuel. You'd fill up your immediate tank with 5 gallons, and then put the remaining 2 gallons in the red canisters.

    How about an example?

    Now you have all the details necessary to push forward with an example that'll conclude this car craziness.

    You have a 10 gallon gas tank in your car. It's filled with 5 gallons of fuel. You have 200 gallons of backup fuel in the red canisters in your trunk.This is your baseline. your frame of reference.

    5/10 – 200/?

    From here, we can ask: how many gallons of fuel are in your tank 24 hours from now? Ignore the specifics. Forget about how many trips you took. Forget about how often you fueled up. Look solely at a snapshot.

    Imagine the snapshot says, over the past 24 hours, you used a total of 10 gallons of fuel and filled up with 11 total gallons of fuel. So you have now have 6 gallons of fuel in your tank and 200 gallons of fuel in backup.

    6/10 – 200/?

    Again, ignore the specifics. It's totally possible you drove 10 miles without filling up, meaning you dipped into your red canisters for a brief period of time. But that doesn't matter because, at the end of the day, you replenished what was used… and then some.

    So, relative to the starting point, you're in an energy surplus. You have more fuel in the tank than what you started the day with.

    If, perchance, the snapshot revealed you had 1 gallon of fuel in your immediate tank and 200 gallons in reserve, you'd be in an energy deficit because you have less fuel than what you started the day with.

    The energy balance backbone

    Instead of thinking about cars and fuel, think about human and energy. The relationship between intake-output and surplus-deficit remains the same.

    If your daily energy intake exceeds your daily energy output, then, at the end of the day, you have a surplus of energy. You have more energy than you started the day with, meaning you're prone to weight gain.

    If your daily energy output exceeds your daily energy intake, then, at the end of the day, you have a deficit of energy. You have less energy than you started the day with, meaning you're prone to weight loss.

    Using this logic, the keys to weight loss are as follows:

    • move around more
    • eat less energy

    This can be fleshed out further with a specific example. Assume you normally output 2000 calories per day and intake 2000 calories per day. (This is arbitrary, but it works.) At this rate, you break even.

    Now consider two different scenarios.

    Moving more and weight loss

    Say, you move around more. This raises your daily energy output. Instead of burning 2000 calories, you burn 2500 calories. If you keep your food intake the same, you're mismatched.

    You need 2500, but you only feed 2000. your body has to compensate for that fuel. Lucky for you, your body has internal energy stores (otherwise, you'd be dead), which it uses to cover the deficit. A byproduct of this: weight loss

    Eating less and weight loss

    Go back to the original situation. Need 2000. Feed 2000. Now say you eat less. Eating less energy lowers your daily energy intake. Instead of eating 2000 calories, you eat 1500 calories. This means you're -500.

    Your body has to compensate for the fuel. Lucky for you, your body has internal energy stores (otherwise, you'd be dead), which it uses to cover the deficit. A byproduct of this: weight loss

    Haub's little secret ain't so secret no mo

    How was Haub able to eat shit food and lose weight? Simple. He adjusted his energy intake and made it less than his energy output. He ate shit food, but he ate less energy than what his body needed.

    Sure, he could have added exercise. He could have moved more. But didn't need to, because he was able to tip the scales in his favor simply with the food factor.

    Of course, this makes “energy” and energy balance the king of weight control. Doesn't matter when you eat. Quality of food doesn't matter, either. The only thing that matters is energy balance.

    And with an anecdote like this, it no surprise the vast majority of people see fat loss, muscle building, and physique transformation through this Haubian energy balance lens.

    But it's shit.

    This is the end of Part 1. Part 2 is in the works. If you want to know when it drops, signup for my weekly email column. 

    Click here to signup

    The post How to eat Twinkies and Doritos and lose weight appeared first on Anthony Mychal.

  • Anthony Mychal 1:59 pm on October 30, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: new   

    These two things are preventing you from building more muscleeeeee ahhhhhh (insert more fear tactics here) 

    If you're trying to build muscle, you HAVE to believe that muscularity is a malleable characteristic. If you didn't, you wouldn't be here.

    You don't go to church unless you believe in God (and are trying to shield yourself from the fact that, in the end, you will be nothing but mud).

    This seems like semantic suicide. Like I'm establishing an obvious truth for the sake of nothing. Well, I got news for you. Everything is for the sake of nothing. Existence is meaningless. I wasn't kidding about that mud stuff.

    Lucky for you, I surf the wave of absurdity, which means I'm able to find meaning within the meaningless, of which muscle mass is included. And thus, establishing the malleability of muscle mass is important because logic then tells us that:

    My name is Logic, if you don't know by now, I'm always on my grind; And at this moment in time, I’m on a road when I write this rhyme; Sitting behind Raheem Devaughn while he’s passed out…

    Oh, my bad. That was Logic, not logic. Here's what logic was supposed to tell us:

    If muscularity is a malleable trait, then our bodies have the option, at any point in time, to build more muscle.

    Obviously, you don't expect your body to spontaneously COMBUST-A-MUSS (my new supplement made from organic koala nose). If you thought your body was going to get jacked void of external input, you wouldn't be here.

    You're here because, whether you've consciously thought of things the following way or not, you know you have to CONVINCE your body to build more muscle.

    “Convince” is an important word. I like that word. It's rugged. HARSH. It implies effort. And forethought.

    For instance, I know my lady-friend won't give me a foot massage unless she's happy. I also know my lady-friend hates cleaning the kitchen. But she almost always has to clean the kitchen because I cook — an unwritten relationship rule, and one of the few things humans got right.

    But if I want a foot massage, I'll clean the kitchen. Unannounced. SURPRISE! This gives me appropriate leverage to convince her for a foot massage later in the day. I win.

    Just think of your body as a lady-friend. You can't go in dumb and blind. I LIKE YOU I SENT YOU THIS STRAND OF YOUR OWN HAIR IN THE MAIL TO DEMONSTRATE MY LIKE FOR YOU PLEASE GO OUT WITH ME.

    In order to be a good convincer you have to get inside the mind of the convincee. You have to understand the variables involved in their decision making process. This isn't about you and your ego. Set that shit aside.

    You're trying to convince your body to build more muscle, so what are the variables involved in its muscular decision making process? If you don't know, you need to know. If you need to know, you're in the right place.

    This is Part 1 of Muscle: A Model. Click here to go to the table of contents. If you don't want to miss any updates to this series, signup for my weekly email column here.

    The super duper important energetic implications of muscle mass

    Your body is using energy every second of every day. The moment your body stops using energy is the moment start becoming mud. (If your cranium cracked into crumbs because you don't know dick about energy balance, click here and double fist my energy balance guide with what you're reading now.)

    Your body uses energy for a bunch of things. Beating your heart. Digesting food. Picking your nose. All of these things require energy. So let's compartmentalize things and say that your daily energy expenditure is always a totally inaccurate and imaginary (BWx10).

    You weigh 160 pounds, which means your metabolic rate is 1600 calories. But you aren't satisfied with your physique. You want to build muscle and get to 180 pounds. Alright. Cool. But there are two implications.

    First, it takes energy to build the muscle. Think of the aforementioned (BWx10) as the amount of energy you needed to stay alive given your former lifestyle. Building muscle requires energy on top of that, so you'd need more than (BWx10).

    If your monthly mortgage is $2000 and you want to build an addition onto your house, you need to be making more than $2000. You need buy the tools and materials, and pay the people like me (Mexicans that reinforce stereotypes by dressing up as tacos) that are working for you.

    anthony mychal taco

    Second, it takes energy to maintain and use muscle. If your metabolic rate is (BWx10), then, when you gain muscle and weigh 180 pounds, your daily metabolic rate would jump to 1800 calories. Bigger creatures require more energy.

    Once you have the addition, your electric bill goes up. So does your gas bill. Property taxes, too.

    So muscle mass isn't a one time purchase. There's a down payment and a recurring monthly financial impact.

    Muscle is expensive, who cares?

    You're probably wondering why I'm telling you this. You're smart to wonder. Just kidding. I'm the smart one. I'm the one that's force-feeding these thoughts into your head via your eye sockets. You're just a pawn.

    Understanding metabolic impact of building more muscle is important because of the way your body balances its energetic checkbook. And the only way I know how to explain your body's financial tendencies is through the backdoor.

    (Not anal.)

    I'm going to start with something related to what I wrote earlier: the moment your body stops using energy is the moment start becoming mud.

    Say hello to Emo Sapiens

    Humans have been around for 200,000 years. A species wouldn't stick around that long unless it had some sort of inkling to not only survive, but also reproduce.

    Imagine about a group of human things that wanted to kill themselves and despised the act of sexy time. Let’s call this species Emo sapiens.

    Emo sapiens wouldn’t last long. There’s be no babies. Everyone would be dead. Unless, of course, Emo sapiens struggled with motivation for suicide the same way Homo sapiens struggle with motivation for fitness. If that were the case, Emo sapiens would never die.

    But let's assume Emo sapiens didn't struggle with motivation. It wouldn't take long for Emo Sapiens to go the way of Dinosaurs. I mean, seriously, why did that show get cancelled? It was a classic. NOT DA MAMMA!

    Dinosaurs Baby Sinclair

    Why life is terrifying and even the amazing keeps me up at night

    The cosmic joke undermining our inkling to survive is the fact that we can't sustain life by our lonesome. We need shit that we can't produce, like food, water, and oxygen. Corn isn't growing out of the pores of your skin.

    Resources, for the most part, come from the world yonder. We just happen to be rocketing through the infinite universe on microscopic rock with all of the ingredients necessary to support human life.


    Life is amazeballs, but there's nothing warm and fuzzy about realizing that, any moment now, Earth can murder every last one of us.

    Imagine if oxygen deleted itself from the air for five straight minutes tomorrow. That's all. Five minutes of non-oxygen. 93.75% of humans, myself included, would become mud.

    It's natural so it must be good

    Oxygen pulling a Houdidi sounds absurd, but animals die by the thousands on a regular basis because of changes in the ecosystem. National geographic said so.

    In nature, mass mortality sometimes happens. More than 200,000 saiga antelopes in Kazakhstan drop dead in a matter of weeks; 337 dead whaleswash up in a remote fjord in southern Chile; some 300 reindeer in Norway are felled by a single bolt of lightning— all that has happened since 2015. There’s evidence such spectacular displays of death are increasing in frequency due to climate change.

    National Geographic

    Suffice to say, the environment of generations past has influenced how us smelly ooze discharging humans behave today. For instance, if oxygen did pull a Houdini for five, not everyone would die. Those with superior lung capacity (or something) would survive.

    They would go on to reproduce and pass their iron lung genes into the next generation, and then from that point on not having iron lungs would be weird.

    This is an example of natural selection, which is to say: some creatures have traits and adaptations which allow them to better survive a certain environments. Those with said traits and adaptions live and pass their genes (which contain said traits and adaptions) into the next generation.

    Those without said become mud. Their genes do, too. MUD jeans. I'm teaching you the meaning of life, are you paying attention?

    Your body's gollumness towards energy

    Now that you understand natural selection like a sage understands how to add a fragrant, woodsy aroma to food, I can reconnect to where I left off earlier.

    You use energy. But you can't produce energy yourself. You need to get it from the world yonder, which you do via food. Food contains the energy your needs to stay alive. If you stop eating, you'll eventually die.

    In today's world, you have to make a conscious decision to not eat if you were to die from starvation because food is hyper available. But, in reality, food is a finite resource. Not eating wasn't always a choice.

    History books are filled with droughts and famines. And not the “I can’t take a shower today” kind of drought, or the “supermarket was closed at 4AM so I couldn’t get eat my hangover curing empanada” kind of famine. I’m talking about the “CHARLIE AND SUZY DIED YESTERDAY” kind of droughts and famines.

    Given this (and natural selection), you now have a backboard for understanding your body's financial abilities, tendencies, and one last word that ends in ies.


    First, you're able to store and stockpile excess. The fact that you're able to do this is a miracle when you think about the oxygenated Houdini hypothetical mentioned before.

    Being able to store energy allows you to survive a longer time without an immediate food intake. In general, humans can survive three weeks without food. (Compared to three minutes without oxygen.)


    The ability to store is one thing. The propensity to store is another thing. And, boy, does your body have said propensity. When your body is given excess, it'll store the excess.

    This is a microcosm of being an all around metabolic miser. You don't waste energy. You're efficient with what you have. You take energetic shortcuts when possible. In other words, your body has a certain gollumness towards energy. It's preeccciouuussss.


    The muscular wildcard

    I don't know if you've been paying attention (probably not, this shit is boring and I'm making most of it up), but the situation isn't looking good. On one hand, muscle mass is metabolically expensive. On the other hand, your body is a metabolic miser.

    These ends oppose each other, which is why you're here. This shit isn't easy. If you're trying to build more muscle, you're fighting an uphill biological battle.

    But don't quit on me now. You aren't Anakin Skywalker, so don't listen to Obi-Wan Kenobi. Having the high ground doesn't mean shit because there's a wildcard.

    Your body is a metabolic miser, but it doesn't have a hoarding disorder. Your body is using energy every second of every day. It's not afraid to spend, so long as the juice is worth the squeeze.

    Beating your heart. Digesting your food. These things require energy, and your body gladly fronts the cost. But why?

    Because we aren't Emo sapiens

    Remember that whole survival inkling? Your body knows the difference between investments and wastes. Investments cost money up front, but there's a greater return on the back end. Wastes, however, are expenses without utility.

    The prospect of staying alive another day versus not staying alive another day is one way to turn a waste expense into an investment.

    The two variables in control of your muscularity 

    You have all of the information you need to start making sense of things.

    • Muscle is metabolically expensive.
    • Your body is a metabolic miser.
    • Continued survival justifies spending.

    Throw these three factoids into a pot, and you cook up the two variables in control of your body's muscular decision making process.

    The first variable is <NEED>. Your body has to feel that building more muscle mass is a necessary expense. An investment, rather than a waste. Otherwise, it won't willingly raise its monthly metabolic bill.

    The second variable is <FEED>. Your body needs to have the shit necessary build more muscle mass. If you don't have the materials, tools, and (wo)(man)power, the job won't get done. Your body also needs to know it'll have the shit necessary to maintain and use what's being built. Your body won't build itself into something that it can't sustain.

    These two variables are always working in tandem, but <NEED> comes first. If you <FEED> without <NEED>, then you won't gain muscle. You'll just get fat, for reasons I won't get into now.

    What you need to know about <FEED>

    If you're trying to gain more muscle you can work through the following flowchart.

    • First, ask: are you in a state of need?
    • Second, ask: are you handling feed?

    Although both of these variables are important, I'm going to ditch <FEED>. I've written about it many times before.

    The cliffnotes: you have to continually assure your body that it'll have enough resources to support the investment. In other words, you need to eat enough food. I know “eating enough food” is vague. You shouldn't necessarily eat everything in sight. You shouldn't necessarily shove your face with shit food.

    If you're in the dark with <FEED> and want more direction, click here to buy a thing I made that tells you what to eat if you want to be ripped, lean, and jacked.

    This leaves us with <NEED>. And the big question with <NEED> is: how do you convince your body that it needs to build more muscle mass?

    In order to answer that question, you have to know what purpose muscle mass serves. And that's exactly what I'm going to dive into next.

    This is the end of Part 1. Part 2 is in the works. If you want to know when it drops, signup for my weekly email column. 

    Click here to signup

    The post These two things are preventing you from building more muscleeeeee ahhhhhh (insert more fear tactics here) appeared first on Anthony Mychal.

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