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    Mountains of Muscle

    Mountains of Muscle

    Will increasing protein in my diet make me bulk up?  Hell no, but it may help make you stronger.

    Thanks to our friends at Gnarly Nutrition, we've got an answer for you. Have a read and let us know your thoughts on increasing protein intake and how it has worked or not worked in your training regimen.

    By Shannon O’Grady, Ph.D. for LALO

    “Will increasing the protein content of my diet make me bulk up?”  I hear this A LOT, both because I work for a company that makes protein powder and because I’m a woman.  I’m not saying that men don’t potentially have the same misconception, but the idea that increased dietary protein will lead to huge muscles isn’t always a negative for men, where it is almost ALWAYS a perceived negative for women.

    For the purpose of this discussion, when I say “bulking up” I am specifically talking about gains in muscle mass aka muscle hypertrophy, as opposed to gains in fat mass.  This distinction is important because while both involve increases in total caloric intake, gaining substantial muscle mass also involves alterations to both your frequency and type of strength training.

    So let’s first talk about why there may be this misconception, that protein supplementation leads to bulk, and then address why it is just that, a misconception.  While we are at it, let’s address why increasing dietary protein makes a lot of sense for athletes in terms of performance and recovery and discuss the best way to go about increasing protein in your diet.

    Man holding protein powder
    Protein supplementation, and increased dietary protein, is often associated with the bodybuilding and Crossfit communities, where increased muscle mass is either the goal (bodybuilding) or a means to an end (being a competitive crossfit athlete).  Thus people external to these communities often make the assumption that increased protein alone is responsible for the muscular physique of bodybuilding and Crossfit athletes.  On top of that, over the years, protein companies have published creative marketing that has lead consumers to believe that by simply taking a protein powder, your arms, shoulders and chest will magically grow into mountains of muscle.

    So here we go, I’m going to say it:  Increasing the protein in your diet, either through supplementation or whole foods, will not by itself make you jacked.  

    The marketing simply isn’t true and there is so much more that goes on behind the scenes for Crossfit athletes and bodybuilders than simply eating more protein. That begs the question, “What does lead to substantial increases in muscular mass?”

    Gains in muscle mass require substantial alterations to both diet and training.  In terms of diet this means an increase in not just protein intake, but also total caloric intake.  For example, you are not only changing your protein from 35% to 45% of your diet, you’re also increasing your total calories from 2500 to 3000.  Coupled with changes to your diet are necessary changes to 1) the frequency of strength workouts in your weekly program 2) the types of movements in your training (compound movements get a heavy emphasis), 3) Repetition scheme and weight used (i.e., 4x4 at 80% 1RM) and 4) overall effort (often to failure).  
    While strength gains are definitely of benefit to most athletes, substantial increases in muscle mass, and therefore weight, are not always ideal.  This begets the question: can you gain functional strength without adding bulk and thus sacrificing strength to weight ratio?  The answer is an absolute yes and once again has both a training and diet component.  I’ll leave the discussion of strength training in your sport of choice to the experts in that sport and, as promised, focus on how dietary changes and specifically, increasing dietary protein, can benefit you as an athlete.

    Man flexing his muscles
    1) Increased muscle repair and synthesis
    Think recovery, recovery, recovery.  The Recommended Daily Allowance (RDA) for protein in “healthy” adults is 0.8g/kg body weight per day.  The RDA values for protein are set at “the level of protein judged to be adequate...to meet the known nutrient needs for practically all healthy people” (Institute of Medicine, 2005).  It’s critical to note that not only are the RDA values outdated, but they also fail to take into consideration the amount of protein required by both endurance and strength athletes to both adapt and gain from training stimulus (Phillips and VanLoon, 2011).  Specifically, the RDA recommendation does not 1) offset the oxidation (use as energy) of protein or amino acids during exercise and 2) include protein to promote muscle synthesis and repair after intense training (Campbell et al., 2007). Increased protein for strength athletes is primarily required for the synthesis of new muscle and/or to repair muscle damage (Phillips et al., 2006; Moore et al., 2009); resulting in increased strength and a quicker turn around between hard days.  Of note is that increased protein intake for endurance athletes is equally as important and plays a key role in increasing mitochondrial density and efficiency in muscles (Phillips et al., 2006).

    2) Improved strength to weight ratio
    Beyond what’s needed to repair and build new muscle, increasing the protein content of your diet can actually lead to an improved strength to weight ratio by reducing total caloric intake. Why is this?  Because protein, and fat for that matter, is generally more satiating than carbohydrates and increasing the protein in your diet may reduce the total amount of food you consume.  A lower caloric intake can mean fat loss and potentially, positive changes in body composition.  Supporting this is a 2005 study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition (Weigle et al., 2005) where researchers found that when study participants were put on a higher protein diet (30%) and allowed to eat as much as they wanted, they actually ate less and lost body fat compared to the same protocol but with lower dietary protein (15%); carbs were held constant at 50%.  The researchers attributed this change in body composition to the satiating effects of higher levels of protein intake and the resulting decrease in total caloric intake.  But you may be thinking, what about the fat content?  In this study, increasing the protein content of the diet actually had a bigger impact on body composition than lowering dietary fat.

    So, how much protein should an athlete be eating and is there a limit to the benefit of increased protein intake?  

    Research suggests that there does seem to be a threshold above which increased daily protein intake has no benefit.  A study examining the impact of differential amounts of total daily protein on whole body protein synthesis in trained strength athletes found that protein synthesis was reduced in athletes on a “low” protein diet (0.86g/kg/day) relative to medium (1.4g/kg/day) and high (2.4g/kg/day) protein diets, but there was no difference in whole body protein synthesis between medium and high daily protein intakes (Tarnopolsky et al., 1992).  Supporting this older study, a recent review of 49 studies and 1863 participants, found that total protein intakes beyond ~1.6g/kg/day did not lead to further strength gains (Morton et al., 2017).  Additionally, and possibly more importantly, there are not only limits to the benefits of total daily protein intake but also to the amount of protein consumed in a single sitting. Moore et al., 2009 demonstrated that the positive impact of protein intake on muscle protein synthesis plateaus at 20g with higher amounts of protein (up to 40g) causing no further increase in protein synthesis.  Since then, additional studies looking at whole body exercise and muscle protein synthesis put this intake plateau closer to 40g, but further research needs to be done to validate this finding (Macnaughton et. al., (2016).

    So what should athletes take away from this?

    Daily protein should be consumed regularly throughout the day in ~20-40g doses to maximize strength gains and recovery.  Aim to consume 20-40g of protein every 3-4 hrs for a total of 4-5 snacks or meals.

    My Final Answer.
    No, just increasing the protein in your diet won’t make you bulk up.  If that is your goal, it’ll take changes to your training and more total calories to give you the arms of your dreams.  However, what more dietary protein will do for you (in combination with training) is have a positive impact on your strength to weight ratio and, more importantly, improve recovery by stimulating muscle protein synthesis and repair.

    Protein Supplement

    The World According to "The Big Guy"

    The World According to "The Big Guy"

    We took a moment to catch up with Rob MacDonald, aka Bobby Maximus, our inspiration for creating the ever-popular LALO Maximus Grinder. Rob’s Men’s Health Magazine book “Maximus Body” just became available worldwide in all formats and based on pre-sales it is already the number one new release in weightlifting.

    Here’s what Rob had to say:

    Why did you write this book? Since I was young I have always felt a desire to help other people. I had two parents who were completely selfless and always gave freely to those around them. I knew I wanted to do something where I could help others fulfill their potential and live a better life. This book is a collection of my knowledge and my own experiences that I believe can change people’s lives. Using the power of fitness and exercise can help transform other people. I truly believe that through exercise and fitness that we can all become better people. We can be better at work, more resilient to stress, better fathers, mothers, husbands, wives, and more. Simply put I believe that through fitness we can unlock our potential and become better in every area of our lives

    Who is this book for? This book is for everyone. There is much more than just “working out” in it. There is life psychology/philosophy, nutrition, and recovery (sleep and stress relief).

    This training program seems pretty serious – as in time consuming and all encompassing. I am a busy mom/dad with a high-pressure job, kids and family commitments. Is this something I should embark upon or how does this program apply to me in a way that I can actually accomplish the workouts in the time I have allotted? The training program is serious but that is what it takes to get results. There is no such thing as a “shortcut”. There’s no magic pill or three easy payments of $9.99. You have to do the work. That said the program only really requires 1 hour a day. Do you know how many hours there are in a week? 168 hours. If you can’t find five hours a week you just aren’t that serious about making a change. 

    I am over 45 and this program seems intense. Is it scalable so I can aptly recover and avoid injury? It is intense, but you can make substitutions and it is scalable. At the very least you can benefit greatly from the philosophy, nutrition, and recovery sections. 

    If I have questions and want to get in touch with you, how do I do that? Simply go to www.bobbymaximus.com and contact me via email. 

    Where do you work out? Can I come train with you? My gym is in Salt Lake City, Utah and we do accept people from in and out of town to come and train with us. Just send an email and we can make arrangements for that to happen. 

    How has your workout program changed with the addition of a wife and children coupled with aging? The program hasn’t changed at all actually. I always make time for fitness and prioritize it. Sometimes that means working out with my wife or children, but I am still the same hard working, dedicated person I have always been. If one thing has changed it that I have to pay more attention to my eating and sleeping habits.

    When you say, "pay more attention to your eating and sleeping habits," what do you mean?  While, when it comes to eating when I was younger I could miss meals, or allow myself to get dehydrated but I can't do that anymore. I need to be on more of a regimen. I also need to consume more high quality nutrient dense food and watch my alcohol consumption. When it comes to sleep it's much more simple. I need 8 hours. If I do that I feel great. When I get less I crash and burn.

    What’s next for you? I want to help as many people worldwide as possible. That means more travel, more teaching workshops, and more content developing. 

    Can we expect a follow-up book? I have already started writing it.

    You can find Rob’s book at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Target, Walmart, ibooks, and wherever else books are sold. To learn more, click here.

    Warning: If you don’t want to build serious strength, pack on muscle, or be unstoppably fit then this book is not for you. Maximus also doesn't offer any refunds for any clothing that your new found bulging muscles destroy.

    American Survival Guide Magazine

    Are you ready for when SHTF?

    Are you ready for when SHTF (sh&t hits the fan)?

    This month's "New Products," section of American Survival Guide Magazine featured new gear from the 2018 SHOT Show that looks to fill some critical gaps in your SHTF kit...or simply trigger new pangs of desire. The LALO Shadow Intruder was featured among these "new products," and we couldn't be happier!

    Here's what the crew at American Survival Guide Magazine had to say:

    LALO Shadow Intruder 8-Inch Boot:

    American Survival Guide provides everything you need to know and how to act when disaster strikes and self-reliance means the difference between living and dying - plus the latest on how to provide energy to your home, grow and preserve your own food and more. The Buyer's Guide features the best in shelter, firearms, flashing, tents, knives, backpacks and more!

    Athletic footwear being used in a gym

    Refuel, Rebuild, Recover

    We all know that eating right and having the correct nutrition plan is key when it comes to recovering from a tough workout. After you've finished putting the wood to yourself, you'll want to refuel your body with nutrients. But what really helps your body recover while keeping in line with your health and workout goals? Our friends at Gnarly Nutrition put together the following tips to help learn more about keeping your machine running in top form.

    Recovery Nutrition and Breaking Through Your Performance Plateau  (courtesy of the fine folks at Gnarly Nutrition)

    Recovery is arguably the most overlooked aspect of a training program, and yet it is often the key to building functional strength and breaking through performance plateaus. The quality of an athlete’s recovery or speed at which muscles recover from intense training can have a direct impact on an athlete’s ability to perform at subsequent efforts. Similarly, inadequate recovery can have long term negative impacts, linked to overtraining, that may result in a decline in performance and potentially injury. So what are the primary factors affecting the quality of recovery? Although a good recovery practice is multi-faceted, nutrition plays a key role and should be a priority for all athletes.


    What is meant by recovery? For the purpose of this article we are defining recovery as the period of rest between successive training sessions. For most of us that do one-a-day workouts, this period is 24 hours.  During those 24 hours, both the quality and quantity of nutrition can facilitate recovery and adaptation to training. For those training twice a day, this recovery period becomes significantly shorter and the importance of not just nutrition quality, but the timing of nutrition becomes paramount.  In the following paragraphs we will talk about how fine tuning your recovery nutrition, through the use of branched chain amino acids (BCAAs) and protein, can help you recover more efficiently and ultimately help you perform better.

    So first, a little bit about amino acids. Amino acids are the building blocks of protein. Of the 20 amino acids, 9 are essential, meaning they cannot be synthesized (produced or created) by the body and must come from our diet.  Of these essential amino acids, leucine, isoleucine and valine are known as branched chain amino acids (BCAAs) Unlike other essential amino acids, which are broken down in the liver, BCAAs are transported directly to skeletal muscle where they play a critical role in muscle recovery and synthesis. Leucine, isoleucine and valine, the three BCAAs, work together to stimulate muscle protein synthesis and reduce the rate of muscle catabolism, or breakdown - exactly what we’re looking for to maximize recovery. Taking BCAAs before and during exercise decreases delayed onset muscle soreness or DOMS which has a direct impact on the ability to perform in subsequent training efforts.


    Athletic Footwear and Sandbag Kettlebell in a gym

    Taking BCAAs seems like a good idea, but is it possible to get a good dose of BCAAs by simply eating a good source of protein?

    Yes and no. Although protein contains BCAAs, different sources of protein contain varying amounts and complete proteins have to be fully digested in order to access free form amino acids, and this process takes time and is not efficient.  Because free form, or individual, amino acids don’t require digestion and are absorbed directly into the bloodstream, they are a much quicker and more efficient way to increase BCAA concentration in the body directly before and during exercise.  That being said, if you are diligent and consistent with your protein intake than BCAA supplementation may not be necessary.   What does diligent and consistent protein intake mean?  Research suggests that in a single sitting, 20-30g of protein maximally stimulates muscle protein synthesis and consuming this amount of protein every 3-4 hours will lead to higher levels of total muscle protein synthesis when measured across the course of a day (this is in contrast to skewed protein intake where an individual consumes the majority of their daily protein at one end of the day).

    How can you put all of this together to optimize your recovery nutrition plan? 

    On a daily basis you should aim for getting in 20-30g of high quality protein every 3-4 hours.  Look for protein sources that are easily digestible and high in essential amino acids (EAAs), specifically the BCAAs leucine, isoleucine and valine.  Great options include meat, seafood, dairy, eggs, legumes and most commercially available protein powders (collagen and beef protein isolate being exceptions).  Take BCAAs 15-20 minutes prior to training.  Research has shown that BCAA concentration in the blood elevates within 15 minutes and peaks 30 minutes after ingestion, so supplementing with BCAAs starting about 15 minutes before training is ideal. Finally, follow your training session up with a good source of carbohydrates and protein, ideally in ~3:1 ratio (e.g., 60g of carbohydrates and 20g protein) to replenish spent glycogen stores and promote muscle protein synthesis.


    Having and executing a recovery nutrition plan will increase your ability to recover and benefit from multiple hard training efforts.  Specifically, it will do is make a measurable difference in your ability to train hard. Again. Soon.  This will lead to both immediate and long term performance gains.  

    Thanks to our friends at Gnarly! To learn more, visit gognarly.com

    Coupon code for Gnarly Nutrition from LALO

    Army Veteran Mike Rodriguez LALO Podcast

    WTF LALO Presents Ep. 5 // Mike Rodriguez

    Army veteran Mike Rodriguez GWOT Memorial Foundation

    MIKE RODRIGUEZ //

    GREATNESS THROUGH GIVING

    The latest installment of the WTF LALO Podcast features Army veteran Mike Rodriguez.

    After serving for 21 years and being injured multiple times on his nine deployments, Mike was medically retired. Not one to give up that easily, he continues to serve as an advisor to President George Bush, as well as a board member for the GWOT Memorial Foundation.

    In his spare time, Mike also forges functional art from relics recovered at the sites of each attack committed on 9/11. Listen here >> and be sure to subscribe to our podcast on Spotify and ITUNES to hear our latest shows.

    The LALO WTF podcast was created to highlight common men and women who choose to do uncommon things. At LALO, we honor those who choose a path of purpose, a path of hard work, grit and determination. We're honored to share those men and women with you.