35 Comments

The fastest way to cut a few inches off your midsection.

“Hi Richie,

I really need to cut a few inches off my midsection quick. What’s the fastest way to do it?”

Adel Abu Kaff,
Montreal, Canada.

Ah, you know what Adel? If l had a dollar for every time l’ve been asked this question. I would be building a house in Palestine.
Of course, the fastest way to get rid of your “love handles” would be liposuction, but l am guessing you came to me for an answer because you’re probably looking for something a little less extreme, so here’s a few ways to achieve your fitness goal.

Grilled Chicken with pico de gallo—A food high in protein.

Grilled Chicken with pico de gallo—A food high in protein.

EAT MORE PROTEIN
Replacing some of your carbohydrate with similar amount of protein have beneficial effects on your midsection. According to a study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition proved my assertion. After 15 weeks on the high protein diet, the overweight subjects in this study maintained more lean mass than their lower protein eating counterparts. This is significant because while both groups lost about the same amount of weight, the group that lost more lean muscle tissue is considerably more likely to gain it all back. Fat tissue is only about 25% as metabolically active, or calorie-burning, as muscle, so losing lean mass starts a self-defeating cycle (overweight /eat less/lose muscle/metabolism slows down/weight creeps back up/overweight again) that makes long-term maintenance nearly impossible.

Cinnamon Rolls—Taste great but are full of Junk Carbs.

Cinnamon Rolls—Taste great but are full of Junk Carbs.

EAT LESS “JUNK” CARBS
Carbohydrates are the body’s primary fuel source. They’re easily digested, “clean” burning, easily obtained from just about any of the major food groups, and are generally inexpensive. Though no class of carbohydrate is “essential” like certain amino or fatty-acids are, many are beneficial to overall health. Dietary fibers help fill you up and promote regularity. Oliosaccharides serve as a substrate to favorable micro-organisms in the digestive tract, which in turn help enhance mineral and glutamine absorption. Natural, unrefined starches provide energy without significantly taxing or increasing the metabolic load of certain organs. That being said, not all carbs are created equal. Certain types (simple sugars, products made with white flour, corn syrups,etc.) provide little more than “empty” calories. While consuming a few grams of sugar a day, especially immediately following a long workout, won’t kill you, it’s not going to do much to help your gut. Instead, limit sugar consumption to less than 10% of your total daily caloric intake. Don’t know how many calories you should eat each day?

Are your eye's bigger then your stomach?

Are your eye’s bigger then your stomach?

DON’T OVEREAT
By now you’re probably noticed a pattern here. I’ve been telling you about diet and hardly any (yet) on exercise. That’s because the formula for great abs is 85-90% diet and only 10-15% exercise. That’s right, just about everyone has good abs, regardless of whether or not they exercise, it’s just that most people’s six-packs are covered by an unsightly “shipping carton” called subcutaneous fat. Lose that and you’re golden. So just how much should you eat to reveal your midsection mogals? Start with about 11 kilocalories per pound of body weight. If after a week, you still haven’t lost anything, bump this down to 9-10 kilocalories/lb. Caution: If you drop your total caloric intake by too much, too quickly, you’re likely to trigger a metabolic slowdown (which is the worst thing that you can do). To determine how many calories are in different foods, read the labels and/or consider purchasing one of the many “calorie-counter” books that are on the market. After a few weeks, you’ll have committed to memory the energy kilocalories content of all of the foods that you eat regularly.

TAKE THE HIGH ROAD
When it comes to having a smaller waist, more is better. The midsection muscles are more endurance than power oriented, so they respond well to higher volume training. Strategy: work your abs every day, twice a day, gradually working your way up to 15-20 rep’s per set. Make sure to include at least one exercise targeting the upper abs and one targeting the lower abs. Since you trying to lose midsection size, stay away from exercises that target the muscles on your sides, big obliques will just make your waist look wider.

BE FLEXIBLE
A recent study found that performing crunches on a Swiss exercise ball worked abdominal muscles up to 400% more than similar exercises done on the floor or other flat surface. Four times the benefit from the same amount of work means better abs in 25% of the time.

OR STAY ON THE STRAIGHT AND NARROW
110% is great when it comes to effort except when that extra effort is coming from the hip flexors rather than the rectus abdominus (six Pack). Yet, this is exactly what happens when you choose bent knee sit-ups man or woman, do them with your legs straight out in front of you.

I hope l answered your question fully and completely. Also if you choose to adhere to my instructions, email me with your results.

Salaam Adel,
Richie Mishal.

60 Comments

Are vitamins a waste of my money?

“Hi Richie,

I am 61 year old who takes vitamins. Some of my friends told me that vitamins are a waste of my money. What’s your take on that?”

Belinda. T.
Pacifica, CA.

Thank you for asking me this important question Belinda. The answer is simply these people have no idea what they’re talking about. Nutrition supplements are concentrated forms of nutrients, typically in a tablet or a capsule, that are either essential to, or likely beneficial to your health. Nearly all of these nutrients would be found in a wholesome, diverse diet and therein lies part of the problem. Most of us don’t eat the way we should.

This well known fast food sandwich is made of highly processed restructured meat product.

The McRib—This well known fast food sandwich is made of highly processed restructured meat product, striped of any nutritional value.

With our fast-paced stress-filled lives, fewer people have the luxury of cooking meals from scratch. Worse, more of us end up relying on fast foods and microwave, convenience, or snack foods. These foods may satisfied our hunger pangs, but they are highly processed, meaning that most of their original nutritional value has been removed.

As a consequence, many people do not consume all of the vitamins and minerals they need for optimal health, which means their bodies break down and become susceptible to disease earlier than they should. Countless studies have found many of us are shortchanged when it comes to vitamin C, vitamin E, many B vitamins, calcium, magnesium, and many other essential nutrients. In a very real sense, as other people have astutely observed, we are starving on full stomachs.

Various vitamins and supplements.

Various vitamins and supplements.

Even when we eat healthy foods, many things can sabotage how our bodies use nutrients. For example, tobacco products deplete vitamins C and E. Antibiotics disrupt the gut’s ability to absorb B vitamins. Antacids interfere with calcium and other minerals. Cholestrol-lowering “statin” drugs lower the body productions of coenzyme Q10 a vitamin like nutrient needed for energy and normal heart function.

When you consider these factors, as well as that our individual genetic differences may affect absorption, it becomes clear that we would be better off to “err” on the side of nutritional insurance. At the very least, l believe, every person should take moderately high-potency daily vitamin and mineral supplement. Many of us could likely benefit from larger amounts of other supplements, tailored to our diets and lifestyles.

You might be wondering how nutritional supplements and drugs differ. After all, both usually come in capsules and tablets. Their differences are important to keep in mind. Drugs are foreign substances to the body, and they work by forcefully altering the body’s normal biochemical processes. In my view, drugs are low doses of poisons, with side effects that often outweighs their benefits.
How dangerous are prescription drugs? Consider a couple of examples. Are you really better off if an antidepressant drug improves your mood but leaves you with erectile dysfunction? Or is it worthwhile to take hormone replacement therapy to relieve hot flashes, when such drugs will increase your risk of heart attack and cancer? Such issues should concern everyone who takes a drug. According to an article in the Journal of the American Medical Association, prescription drugs cause the deaths of more than 100,000 hospitalized Americans each year, making them a leading cause of death.

The prescription drug epidemic.

The prescription drug epidemic.

At best, drugs only mask the symptoms of diseases while failing to treat their underlying causes. Sometimes, they even make a disease worse. For example, ibuprofen and some other nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs can temporarily relieve the pain of osteoarthritis, but over the long term, they speed the breakdown of joint cartilage, the very cause of osteoarthritis.

In contrast, vitamins, minerals, and the nutritional substances in herbs are substances normally found in the body. They foster the myriad normal biochemical processes that literally do everything, such as burn food for energy, beat your heart, enable your eyes to see, fight infections, further thinking processes, and much more. I have heard many physicians and their patients speak of surprising “side benefits” after taking a nutritional supplements, when more than the intended health problem is resolved.

As a health writer and nutritionist, l have spent most of my life delving into the relationship between nutrition and health. In my mind, the evidence supporting the benefits of vitamins, minerals, and herbs is overwhelming and persuasive. And on a very personal level, l have seen how dietary changes and supplements have greatly improved my own health, helping me lose weight and dramatically reverse many diseases.

I hope l answered your question fully. Good Luck and wishing you best of health.
—Richie Mishal.

35 Comments

How can l get really lean naturally?

I recently received this message from one of my fans.

“It’s my honor to speak to you Richie. I knew you from Gold’s Gym that you used to own with Mike Matarrazo. Anyway, my question is that how can l get really lean naturally? Also l tried all kind of exercises and diets but nothing seems to be working. Can you help me please?”
Eric.T,
Auburn, California.

Well Eric, it’s my pleasure to speak to you and answer your question! The fact is, the closer you are to achieving legendary leanness, the more stubborn your fat stores become. It’s really self-preservation: Your body is designed to protect your fuel reserves from running too low, just in case food becomes scarce. And while that might have been a handy biological feature in the Paleolithic age, it’s hardly necessary in 21st century America. The secret to disabling this? Igniting your metabolism.

By learning how to fire up your body’s internal furnace with exercise, you can accelerate fat loss and finish off your gut for good- revealing the chiseled muscles hidden beneath. All it takes is a little knowledge, coupled of physical effort. I provide you the first half of that formula here, your charge to handle the second.

Weight Lifter

No matter what exercise you choose, there’s only so much fat you can burn during, say, a 30 minute workout. And research shows that the better trained you become, the more your body’s “exercise efficiency” improves-meaning the same amount of activity burns fewer calories as time goes by. For instance, University of California, Berkeley, scientists have determined that to avoid age-related weight gain, avid runners need to boost their weekly mileage by 1.7 miles every year.

The question here, how to lose the last 10 pounds? You have to think beyond how much fat you have to burn during your workout. Instead, focus on the amount you burn during the other 23 hours and 30 minutes of your day, while you’re sitting at your desk, lounging in front of the television, and lying in bed sleeping. And to achieve this benefit, you need to hit the weights and do interval sprints. By knowing the right combination of sets, repetitions, rest periods, and exercises and the best method of cardio, you can create a workout that not only burns as many calories as a 4-mile jog but, unlike that jog, also unleashes a flood of fat-burning hormones that strok your metabolism for hours after you exercise. The result: your body’s fat-burning furnace runs on high all day long, even when you’re sitting on the couch. That’s how l did it with the pros, that’s how l did it with pre shoot movies actors and that’s how l did it with thousands and thousands of people. Now l will outline how to build the perfect metabolism boosting workout plan, step by step.

Weights & Towel

— Do 8 to 15 reps of each set: Research shows that performing sets of 8 to 15 reps stimulates the greatest increase in fat-burning hormones, compared with doing a greater or lesser number of repetitions. The one caveat is that you have to use a weight that provides an adequate challenge.

—Perform 2 to 4 sets of each exercise: Fat burning hormones increase when you complete just 1 set of an exercise. And while doing more sets boosts your hormones levels to an even greater extent, there is a cutoff. There is no difference between doing 4 sets and 6 sets of each exercise. So consider 2 to 4 sets to be the optimal number of sets for speeding fat loss, depending on your current level of fitness. For example, you’ll want to use the low side of this recommendation when you’re just starting out and then increase your number of sets as you become better conditioned. After all, losing weight by losing your lunch is never the goal.

—Rest no longer than 75 seconds between sets: Doing sets of 8 to 15 reps results in the accumulation of a chemical called lactate in your bloodstream. And high lactate levels are associated with an increase in the release of fat burning hormones. However, resting too long between sets allows the oxygen you breathe to help clear the lactate from your bloodstream. Keep your recovery time short, though, and you’ll keep your blood levels of lactate and fat burning hormones high. That means more fat is burning while you rest.

—Work Your Entire Body: How much you elevate your metabolism after your workout is directly related to the amount of muscle you activate any one time. So you’ll want to focus on movements that work multiple muscles, as opposed to those that attempt to isolate muscle groups. For instance, you’ll experience a much greater boost in metabolism by performing 10 reps of the squate, compared with 10 reps of an isolation exercise, such as the biceps curl. In addition, by training your whole body each session, you’ll work the most muscle possible. In fact,  a University of Wisconsin study found that when men performed a full -body workout involving just three big muscle exercises, the bench press, power clean, and squat, their metabolisms were elevated for39 hours afterward. What’s more, they alsoburned a greater percentage of their calories from fat during this time, compared with men who didn’t do a total-body workout. The take-home message is clear: Complete an intense full body weight workout 3 days a week, resting a day between sessions, and you’ll keep your metabolism humming along in a much higher gear at all times.

—Alternate between two exercises: Each time you do a set of an exercise, rest, then follow with a set that weren’t involved in the previous movement, and rest again. For example, you might pair an upper body exercise with a lower body move, or an exercise that works your chest muscles with one that hits your back. Once you’ve done l set of each exercise, repeat the process until you’ve completed all the planned sets of both movements. This method is called alternating sets, and it allows onr group of muscles to rest while another group works, and vice versa. The benefits? You can limit your rest periods, which will keep your lactate levels high while giving specific muscles more time to recover between sets. It’s a strategy that helps offset fatigue and ensures you give your best effort to each set.

—Monitor your lifting tempo: Remember, your goal is to work your muscles as hard as possible on each repetition of each set. And that means you need to control the speed at which you raise and lower the weight. By performing an exercise too fast for instance, lowering your body quickly and “bouncing” up from a squat, you take some of the stress off your muscles and place it on your tendons. The trouble is, stressing your tendons doesn’t boost your metabolism the same way that challenging your muscles does. As a general rule, try to take 3 seconds to lower the weight, and then pause for a second before lifting it. This helps eliminate the elastic energy that allows you to bounce, forcing your muscles to work their hardest on every repetition.

—Skip the long run: Sure, aerobic exercise burns calories. However, if you’re already dieting, and you’d better be if you want to see your abs. Studies show that distance running does little to further enhance fat loss. Most likely, this is because aerobic exercise doesn’t boost your metabolism after your workout. But that doesn’t mean cardio  can’t help: High intensity intervals, such as short sprints of 30 seconds or more, just like a set of 8 reps of the squat. So by doing a few intervals on the days you don’t lift weights, you can spike your metabolism even higher.
I hope l addressed your question fully and completely. Good luck achieving your fitness goals.
Richie Mishal.

29 Comments

I was asked…

Hi Richie, how do l choose a good protein powder?
Thanks for your help,
—Jeff.S. Austin, TX.

Thank you Jeff for asking me such important and serious question!
You know that taking Whey protein at the right times can make all the difference between building an extra half-inch on your arms or adding 20 pounds to your personal best on the bench press. But not just any Whey protein will do. There are great Whey protein products and there are not so good whey products. And being able to tell the difference between them can be critical to your gains.

Whey protein structureWhey protein structure

The first step in determining the worthiness of your protein is to give yourself a pat on the back. You recognize Whey’s benefits and are including it in your daily regimen. It’s enormously advantageous for several reasons, including Amino Acids and microfraction content (more on that in minute) and digesting rate.Whey is one of richest sources of BCAAs, which include the three Amino Acids, Leucine, isoleucine, and Valine. These bad boys have been shown to be absolutely key for muscle growth and even for energy drink during workout. Whey protein is also contains biologically active protein microfractions, such as alpha-lactalbumin, beta-lactoglobulin, glycomacropeptides, immunoglobulins, lactoferrin, lactoperoxidease, and various growth factors. These provide antioxidants, boost immune function, and enhance muscle recovery and growth.

Lower digestion rate.

Probably the most important factor that puts Whey protein miles a head of other forms of protein is digestion rate. It breaks down very rapidly. in fewer than 30 minutes it can fast track a good portion of it’s aminos to your muscles, and that quick delivery to muscles, and that quick delivery to muscle cells has been shown to be vital for pushing growth.
On it’s own, Whey protein powder is far more effective than any other protein on the market. But the effeciency of individual product containing Whey protein varies widely, mostly due to the other ingredients mixed into the final blend.

When you buy a protein powder, your intention is to buy protein and not carbs or fat, because they’re easy to get in your diet. So when your laying your hard-earned money for a jug of protein, skip the blends with high amounts of carbs and fat. A quick glance at the supplement facts panel will show you how much of each are in the product.
You’re not done yet. Keep scaning down the label until you get to the ingredients list. The information contained here is the key to knowing whether a protein powder ia really amazing or simply passable. First, you might notice that most Whey protein products contain more than one type of Whey. You might see Whey protein isolate, hydrolysate, or concentrate. To be considered a great Whey protein, the product must list Whey protein isolate as the very first ingredients. That’s because Whey protein isolates are the purest forms of protein you can get, with some being more than 90% protein. And hydrolyzed Whey protein isolate means that the high quality Whey has been predigested into smaller protein fragments for even faster digestion than regular Whey isolate. Whey protein concentrate on the other hand, goes through less filtering, which means fewer of the natural carbohaydrates found in milk are removed.The result is a Whey product that is much lower in protein content. Although most Whey protein concentrates are somewhere between 70-80% protein, and some can be less than 35%. This is why some companies make a big deal about their Whey protein isolate powders.

But to really know whether a Whey protein powder is top notch, you’ll need to do some math. Take the grams of protein per serving listed on the supplement facts panel and divide it by the serving size (in grams). This will give the percentage of protein in each serving. To be considered a great Whey protein powder, the percentage protein per serving (or Scoop) should be 80% or greater. For example, if a Whey protein powder provides 25 grams of protein per 28 grams scoop, that protein powder is about 90% protein and is a great powder for the money.