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Should You Be Taking Probiotics?

Every few years, there's a hot nutritional supplement or ingredient. Multi-grain and omega-3 fats were hot label ingredients in the past. Now it's probiotics, so let's examine this topic below.
If you look at medical news and trending topics on health, you'll find that a lot of what's being discussed today has to do with our immune systems. People in Western countries such as Canada and the US are walking around with compromised immune systems, which is why we're seeing so many cases of things like food allergies, rheumatoid arthritis, chronic fatigue, Lupus and other problems related to immunity and inflammation.
Why is Immunity Such an Issue for Westerners?
Amongst the most popular reasons, researchers say this is because most Westerners eat unhealthy diets that damage the delicate balance in our gut flora. The gut flora are basically the body's security guards; they keep bacteria from sneaking out of our digestive tracts and into our bloodstreams where they can do real damage. 
80% of our immunity takes place in our intestines, in specialized lymph tissue. The gut flora is the main protection for that immune tissue, so if our gut flora are compromised, 80% of our immunity is, too. 
The problem is that Westerners eat so much of processed food containing genetically modified ingredients and ingredients that have been injected with tons of antibiotics. We also take far too many antibiotics by prescription, for everything from a cold to an ear infection. Antibiotics aren't bad, but they don't just kill bad bacteria; they kill all the bacteria in our digestive systems. This means they kill the good bacteria that keeps our immune system safe.
What are Probiotics?
Probiotics are whole colonies of living, good bacteria. They make their way to your digestive tract, where they multiply and fight the bad bacteria.
You can get probiotics in some foods, like live culture yogurt and kefir. Unfortunately, the beneficial bacteria has to go through your stomach before it can get to your digestive tract and your stomach acid will kill off huge numbers of those bacteria before they ever get where they're supposed to go. Also, there are many kinds of good bacteria and not every food contains every one of them. This is important to know because different types help different parts of your body. 
What Can Probiotics do for You?
There's quite a bit of research that proves probiotics can delay or prevent some types of cancer. Probiotics also have a lot of other important benefits, some of them especially important to those who workout. Intense workouts create a great deal of oxidative stress and oxidative stress uses up a lot of the antioxidants present in our systems. Some of the recent research shows that probiotics can increase our antioxidant levels and minimize the effects of oxidative stresses from intense workouts.
Probiotics can also be a huge help in losing belly fat. In 2010, researchers gave overweight men either a supplement containing the probiotic lactobacillus gasseri SBT2055 or a placebo. The men who took the probiotic lost an average of 5% abdominal fat over the course of twelve weeks.
How to Get Your Probiotics
Because probiotics in foods usually come in small numbers and in limited types, supplementation is really the way to go. But not all supplements are created equal. 
The best supplements should include several different kinds of good bacteria and list each one on the label so you know what you're getting. There are seven types of important bacteria that you can take:
Lactobacillus Acidophilus: for digestive health and cholesterol levels
Lactobacillus Rhamnosis: for stress and weight loss 
Lactobacillus Bulgaricus: for lactose intolerance
Lactobacillus Plantarum: for digestion and cardiovascular health
Lactobacillus casei: for leaky gut and heart health
Bifidobacterium Longum: for weight loss and cancer-fighting
Bifidobacterium Breve: for supporting all the other good bacteria
Make sure that the label tells you the number of live colony forming units (CFUs) and if the number on the label is the number it contained at the time the probiotic was bottled, or if that's the number it will contain up until the expiration date. Different companies use different stabilizers to keep the good bacteria alive after they're packaged and some of those stabilizers are better than others. 
You also want a probiotic that is microencapsulated. This is like buying coated aspirin; the capsules actually protect the bacteria from your stomach acid so that more of them survive to make it to your digestive tract.
How much you need to supplement and what types of bacteria you need most, will depend on your own health circumstances. You'll need to look at any current health issues, such as stress and digestive disorders and research the right types and quantities for your situation. Some researchers suggest taking a minimum of 10-billion CFUs of a regular probiotic or 4-billion CFUs if you're taking a microencapsulated product.
Taken correctly, probiotics can be a huge help in building your immune system and reducing inflammation and those benefits can have a huge impact on your results. You can check out what I personally take below:
To your results,

3 Diet Mistakes Men Make

If you're like most guys, chances are good that you could be making one of the following diet mistakes. Don't worry though; they're common and easy to fix. The trick is recognizing what you're doing wrong and making the change!

Overlooking Liquid Calories

This is a mistake that many men make. You may count every calorie that you eat, but forget to add in that pre-workout drink, the post-workout shake or the beer or 3 that you have after work. Those calories add up quickly and if you're not counting them, they could be the reason that you're holding on to those love handles.

Eating On The Fly

Rushing is a way of life for most people today and we're programmed to believe that lunch is at noon. However, the proclivity to grab something to eat and scarf it down on your way to your next engagement may be sabotaging your diet efforts in more ways than one.

First, convenience foods tend to be processed and heavy on the bad fat and calories. Second, when you eat in a hurry, you'll most likely eat too much before your body has a chance to tell you that it's full. Finally, you should eat when you're hungry, not when society dictates that it's time. Eating when you're not hungry can mess with your biological rhythm that signals when you're full and when you're hungry. That can lead to overeating.

"I'll Work It Off Later"

Women tend to count how many calories they burned during their last workout in order to decide how much to eat, but men are more likely to eat first with and plan to work it off later. The problem is that you may not always make it to the gym, or if you do, you may not burn enough calories to make up for the cheeseburger and fries that you had with your buddies.

As you know, in order to lose weight you have to consume fewer calories than you burn, yet calorie timing is also a huge part of maximizing fat loss.

My good friend and calorie cycling specialist Shaun Hadsall has a brand new article that consists of 3 food timing tricks to stop fat storage and kill belly fat.

To your results,



Is Coffee a Good Pre Workout?

It seems that research is backing up the use of coffee as a pre-workout drink for a number of different reasons. If you look at just about any pre-workout drink, you're going to find some sort of stimulant. Since ephedra was banned, it's fairly likely that the exact stimulant that you'll find is going to be caffeine.

That's exactly what's in coffee. What you won't find in coffee is artificial flavors, sweeteners or a ton of calories: just good old fashioned caffeine along with serious antioxidant power and a nice, rich, wake-me-up flavor.

Coffee Boosts Fat Burning

A neat little trick that was discovered during research is that coffee triggers your body to burn fat instead of glycogen for energy during a workout. This means that you're quite literally burning fat while you're working without having to burn through your glycogen stores first.

Coffee Increases Mental Clarity

One of the benefits of caffeine is that it helps you to focus on the task at hand. When you're working out, that means that you can concentrate more easily on performing each exercise precisely and completely without your mind wandering off in a million directions.

Coffee Decreases Pain

Caffeine affects a system in your brain and spine that deals with pain, which is why it may help reduce muscle pain and burn during workouts. A study conducted at the University of Illinois in 2009 supports this. College-age men were first given a placebo before hitting the cycles, then a week later were given a caffeine pill before cycling. Significant reduction in calf pain during exercise was reported during the caffeine phase of the study.

This could help you work out longer and harder without experiencing muscle pain and burn that can reduce the number of reps or the amount of weight that you can lift. That's a pretty big bonus to any workout plan!

Caffeine Improves Performance

When you look at the combination of increased energy and focus and decreased workout pain, caffeine is bound to improve your performance. This leap in logic is supported by numerous studies, which show that caffeine consumption (with as little as one cup) can increase performance by about 12%.

Possible Downsides of Drinking Coffee as a Pre-Workout

If you're extremely sensitive to caffeine, drinking coffee may not be for you. Also, coffee is a diuretic. While that's great if you're retaining water, it's not-so-great when you're trying to hydrate your body during and after a workout.

I give a nice strong, black cup of coffee a 2 thumbs up for an inexpensive alternative to a traditional pre-workout. As for as pre-workouts themselves go, I'm extremely picky and, in my opinion, the one you'll find at the link below is now the best there is.

To your results,


Chocolate Milk Exposed

The great chocolate milk debate rages on but many of the arguments against it are simply based on people's beliefs about drinking milk rather than the actual science behind what your body needs to recover from exercise. Those needs include carbohydrates, quality protein and electrolytes. That's what most recovery drinks are chemically comprised of... but guess what? Low-fat chocolate milk provides all of those naturally.

Chocolate Milk is an Excellent Source of Whey Protein

If you take a look at what your recovery drink contains, chances are good that it's going to be whey or casein protein. Milk provides both! This is great because whey protein is an easily bio-available source of protein that's proven to help your body repair and build lean muscle tissue almost immediately. Casein protein digests more slowly, which gives your body a steady stream of amino acids over a longer time period. Sixteen ounces of chocolate milk provides 16 - 22 grams of protein!

Chocolate Milk Replaces Electrolytes

When you sweat, you lose valuable electrolytes that are crucial to survival. Even a small imbalance can wreak major havoc on your body. These include calcium, potassium, phosphorus, manganese, magnesium and sodium, all of which are found in chocolate milk. Several of these particular electrolytes are also minerals that help keep your bones strong, so there's another bonus! Finally, there are more than 400 grams of water in a 16oz serving, so you're getting hydrated too.

Just a note on calcium: it's one of the critical components of muscle movement. Your muscles work in a cross-hatch cyclical pattern when contracting and releasing. Calcium is what binds the plasma to the muscles and signals contraction to take place, so if you don't have enough calcium, your muscles won't function optimally.

Chocolate Milk is Cheap!

This is perhaps one of the biggest benefits from a realistic standpoint. With protein drinks costing upwards of $6 at a gym, chocolate milk can be easily made at home for less than $1 per glass. Times are tough so cheap (and nutritious) is good!

Now if you like the taste of chocolate milk but want to step up the quality of your post workout shake I definitely recommend you check out Blue Star's chocolate Iso-Smooth.  I think you'll love it!

To your results,



The Worst Foods for Long Term Fat Loss

You might think that cookies, cakes, pizza and hoagies were the worst foods for fat loss, but I beg to differ!
When you're trying to lose fat and build lean muscle, most diets and diet experts will tell you to get rid of the junk food, comfort food and old family recipes and fill your kitchen with "diet-friendly" foods like spring greens and cottage cheese. The problem is that the only diet that will work for you is the one you'll eat. If your fridge is loaded up with foods you don't like or don't know how to cook, you'll end up ditching the diet almost as soon as you start it.
The key to long term fat loss isn't dieting; it's learning how to choose the most nutritious foods and then learning how to really enjoy them. Long term fat loss comes from a healthy lifestyle, not a super restrictive, terrible tasting diet. I have two guidelines for you if you want to lose fat and lose it for good: don't try to eat what you don't like and learn how to make what you love.
Don't Try to Eat What You Don't Like
No matter how healthy quinoa, fish and kiwi are, they won't help you lose fat if you don't like eating them. There are hundreds and hundreds of healthy foods out there; foods that are great for long term fat loss. You just need to stick to the ones you actually enjoy eating.
If you hate quinoa, stick to brown rice. If you've tried to like kale and just can't, then eat spinach or mustard greens instead. The important thing is to identify the healthiest foods in each category (such as nuts, leafy greens, healthy fats, healthy dairy, etc.) and then choose the ones you do like. Trying to force yourself to eat certain foods you hate while giving up foods you love is a recipe for failure.
Try new foods when you can. Pick up one or two unfamiliar fruits or vegetables each week or try that Ezekiel cereal, bread or pasta I've fallen in love with. If you don't like these new foods, don't force yourself to eat them. Along the way you'll discover new foods that you do like and that'll help you get all your macros without being bored.
Learn to Make What You Love
Very few people have the discipline or the desire to give up all of their favorite foods forever. Fortunately, that really isn't necessary. There's a time and place for enjoying some of your favorite not-so-good-for-you foods. How often you indulge and how much you eat depends on your program, your goals and your metabolism. Saying you'll never get to eat pizza again is self-defeating and counterproductive.
Another thing you can do is learn to make healthier versions of your favorite foods. There are all kinds of great recipes for healthier pizza, macaroni and cheese, banana cream pie and any other food you can think of. Try a few out, choose the ones that taste best and enjoy your favorite stuff without blowing your whole program.
Remember, long term fat loss is all about your lifestyle. And part of life is enjoying a good meal.
To your results,

The #1 Cereal for Fat Loss and Lean Muscle

Cereal does not have to be the no-no so many people think it is. You just have to choose wisely. And today you'll see my number one cereal selection for lean muscle and fat loss.

One of the hardest foods to cut from your diet is cereal. It tastes good, it's a fast, easy way to get a some carbs and it's a cheap meal. The problem is that most cereals, even the "healthy" cereals, are loaded with stuff you don't need to put in your body.

The Problem with Most "Healthy Cereals"

Most cereals are super high in sugar, sodium, preservatives, and calories and have very little fiber. Even most of the "high-fiber" and "whole-grain" cereals have more salt and sugar than you need and the fiber content isn't all that high, anyway. 

They also usually have little or no protein.

When you're working hard toward your fat loss and lean muscle building goals, you have to be careful about eating calories that have no return on your caloric investment. Most cereals aren't going to give you enough bang for your buck.

Choose Wisely and You Can Enjoy Cereal in Your Diet

The cereal you eat needs to feed your goals, not work against them. This is why I like Ezekiel 4:9 cereals so much and why I rank it as a top choice for cereals when it comes to fat loss and building lean muscle. Here's why:

  • Lentil and whole grains mean high protein.

Most cereals have little to no protein, except for the milk you pour over them. Ezekiel 4:9 has 8g of protein per ½ cup serving and it's high quality protein. Ezekiel 4:9 is made with six whole grains and legumes, so it packs a real protein punch. When you need a meal that combines quality proteins with slow-digesting carbs (like before a workout), this cereal is perfect.

  • 40g of carbs but no sugar.

Ezekiel 4:9 comes in several different flavors and some of them, like cinnamon-raisin, have low amounts of sugars. I usually eat the original flavor, which has zero grams of sugar. That way, I'm free to add some fruit to it for extra fiber and micronutrients.

  • Everything organic.

One of the biggest issues with most cereals is that they're made from wheat and corn that have been treated with all kinds of chemicals and then they add a bunch of preservatives to them. Ezekiel 4:9 is completely organic and has no added preservatives. It's just high-quality, nourishing food.

  • The taste is awesome.

A lot of healthier cereals, even the few truly healthy ones, taste like rocks and bark. Even though Ezekiel 4:9 doesn't have any added sugar, it's got just a touch of sweetness from the barley and lentils and it really tastes amazing. The truth is that no matter how healthy something is, you're not going to eat it if it tastes awful. This cereal is one that you'll actually enjoy eating.

Cereal can be a very low-cost way to get some healthy carbs, if you choose it wisely. I think Ezekiel 4:9 is hands down one of the best cereals for fat loss and building lean muscle so give it a try!

To your results,



Easy Muscle Building Recipe: Shepherd's Pie

In this video, I give out one of my fabulous recipes that is filled with lean protein and healthy complex carbs.


How To Make Kyle Leon's Shepherd's Pie

The ingredients are: 
- 1 Ibs extra lean ground chicken 
- 1 cup low fat cottage cheese (drained) 
- 1 can corn kernels 
- 3 medium sweet potatoes 
- dash of cinnamon (optional)

Brown chicken, then add cottage cheese and corn. Boil sweet potatoes (peeled) and then mash. Put the chicken, cottage cheese and corn mix at the bottom of an oven-usable dish. Place the mashed sweet potato on top of the mix. Bake for 30 mins at 400 degrees F. Makes 4 servings. 

Nutritional info per serving: 
Calories = 354
Carbs = 31g
Protein = 36g
Fat = 10g

Bake in the oven for 30 minutes.



Will Eating Fat Make You Fat?

For years, we’ve all been led to believe that low-fat was the way to go, but research indicates otherwise. The long-term effects of not eating enough GOOD fat are devastating to both your body and your weight loss goals.

Remember that when you’re trying to lose weight, it’s a matter of making every calorie count so that you have the energy to get through the day. Eating healthy fats instead of empty carbs helps with that. That doesn’t mean that you should go pound down a Big Mac, but it does mean that if you’re living low-fat, you need to read this.

Fat Provides Concentrated Energy

Each gram of healthy fat that you eat provides 9 calories of energy; more than twice what you get from carbs or even protein. Most fats are long-chain triglycerides and take longer to break down (which we’ll discuss in a minute), but fats that are classified as medium-chain triglycerides, such as those found in milk fats, palm oil and coconut oil, are processed by your body in much the same way that carbs are while providing more energy per gram.

Fat Makes You Feel Fuller Longer

Because fats take longer to digest than carbs, your body doesn’t send out hunger signals as quickly. This can help keep you from overeating or picking between meals. Another bonus is that, since they take longer to digest, they provide a more sustained source of energy so that you don’t crash mid-workout.

Your Body Needs Essential Fatty Acids

In addition to keeping your nervous system healthy, omega-3 fatty acids found in foods such as fish and olive oil help to improve your glucose sensitivity, reduce inflammation and insulin resistance and help to rev up fat oxidation by stimulating a receptor in the liver. This means that adding these healthy fats to your diet in moderation can help you lose weight.

Some Vitamins are Fat-Soluble

Your body can’t lose weight efficiently and healthfully if you don’t get the vitamins that you need. Some vitamins, specifically A, D, E and K, are fat-soluble. That means that they require fat in order to be absorbed into your body.

Both vitamin D and vitamin K have been linked to helping with weight loss in some way, and they help keep your bones strong, too. Vitamins A and E are just as essential to your health in other ways, so if you’re not getting enough fat for your body to properly use them, your health will most certainly suffer.

To your results,




Lagging Body Parts

In this video, I share some tips and tricks for bringing up lagging body parts.

How To Bring Up Lagging Body Parts

Tip #1: Start a brand new training program. Doing something different can stimulate new muscle growth in under-developed body parts. 

Tip #2: Prioritize your workouts around your lagging body part. Work hard-to-develop muscle groups early in the week to maximize intensity. Double up on workouts for a lagging muscle group, doing one heavy and one lighter "pump" workout per week. 

Tip #3: Nutrition is crucial in bringing up lagging body parts. Consume enough carbohydrates before training lagging body parts to ensure glycogen stores are topped up. Consume carbohydrates before, during and after a workout to promote insulin release. 

Tip #4. Controlling the negative. This prevents other muscle groups from overpowering under-developed muscles during lifts. It also improves the mind and muscle connection.


How To Build A Proper Cheat Day

There's no doubt that clean eating is the key to losing weight and staying healthy but there are definite benefits to cheat days, too. They help reset hormones that regulate metabolism and insulin use and also keep your body in fat-burning mode.

Sustained low-calorie diets can wreak havoc on your body by decreasing amounts of certain proteins and hormones in your body. One of these is leptin. Leptin is a protein stored in fat that regulates your hunger and how your body uses energy by affecting your hypothalamus. Leptin levels also affect mental sharpness and mood. Pretty important stuff!

When you fast, your leptin levels drop quickly. As a result, you feel hungry, your metabolism slows and your energy decreases. Cheat days help restore your leptin levels by providing extra carbs and protein that increase leptin production.

As a matter of fact, building the proper cheat day for fat loss can actually help you lose weight faster. Here are some tips to help you cheat smart.

Skip the Alcohol

You can completely blow your diet out of the water if you use your cheat day to over-drink. Not that there's anything wrong with having a beer but keep it moderate. If you can feel the buzz, you’ve had enough. Not only are you drinking a ton of calories, but alcohol actually decreases leptin levels. It may be best to wait until you're in your maintenance phase to incorporate alcohol back into your diet.

Save Cheating for Cheat Day

Very few people actually adhere to a strict diet 100% of the time. In reality, most people only stick to it about 80% of the time throughout the week so the other 20% of the time is cheating. That’s fine if you’re not using a cheat day but if you’re already cheating 20% of the time, you need to either quit cheating on “diet” days or skip the cheat day. Either way will help your leptin levels but doing both can quickly sabotage your weight loss efforts.