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Supplements

Most supplements are useless. Especially most that do not consist of a single ingredient are. What oftentimes does make sense is supplementing your diet with things that you lack. Remember, always put diet, training and rest before supplementation. This goes for spending money as well. Always spend money on the gym bill and food before buying supplements.
Notable things you might think about (I usually buy off the shelf, others swear by higher quality things):
  • Fish Oil.[1][2][3][4][5][6]If you don’t eat much fatty fish (salmon, mackerel, …), you are most likely deficient in omega-3 fatty acids (EPA/DHA; ignore ALA as your body has to convert it). Get some fish oil. This will make you smarter, less sick, reduces risk of disease [7], improves mood [8], helps with fat loss and you will recover better, along with a plethora of other health benefits. A total intake of EPA/DHA of 1.8-3.0 grams per day is suggested. Don't forget to count the calories from your fish oil either, each gram of fat is still 9 calories.
  • Vitamin D.[9][10][11][12][13] We usually get this from sunlight. If you are not tanned, chances are you’re deficient in this. Most people are. Get your blood levels measured, or take your chances and just get some. Vitamin D is involved in pretty much everything. If you’re deficient in it, supplementing it helps your bones, prevents cancers, raises testosterone levels[14][15] and … everything. There is, again, some granny scare about Vitamin D being poison, but it's actually quite hard to poison yourself on vitamin D as you would need to take more than 10000 IU/day.[16][17][18] Make sure you buy it in Vitamin D3 form (Cholecalceferol). Taking one 5000IU capsule a day is sufficient. Take it with meals or with your fish oil.
  • Protein powder. If you don’t easily get enough from food, get some cheap whey, casein, or milk protein. Which type you get doesn't matter[19][20][21]. These are quite convenient, and almost as nutrient rich as regular food. You don’t need them, despite for what supplement sellers tell you, whole food sources of protein are equivalent or better compared to whey or BCAAs/Amino Acids; but some convenient powder ain’t bad either. They only serve as one purpose, and that's a meal replacement.
  • Magnesium, folate, fiber, zinc, vitamin C: most people are not getting as many of these as they should. Depending on how your diet is, consider supplementing these while you adjust your diet.
Conveniently, all of these are pretty cheap. Especially Vitamin D. Fish Oil and Vitamin D are two things everybody should supplement. Everything else is optional.
The exceptions to the "supplements suck" rule are few:
  • Creatine will help a bit with strength and it's safe. [22][23][24] Get it in monohydrate form only - it is just as effective (or more) as the other forms, and a lot cheaper.[25][26] Just take 5g (1tsp) every day, at any time. No need to load or cycle.[27][28][29][30] See here if you want a deeper understanding of the biochemical workings.
  • Ephedrine[31], and especially the ephedrine + caffeine combo (EC Stack), helps with losing fat. Go here, and more advanced info here. Don't fuck this up, Ephedrine is a drug and may be illegal and/or dangerous. For people in the US, you cannot buy Ephedrine directly - most people get it via over-the-counter Bronkaid.
  • A multivitamin/mineral supplement isn't as important as people believe it to be. The dosages of the ingredients are of negligible effect. Although it never hurts to supplement a cheap multi as a backup, don't spend a large amount of money buying "special formulations". Get your nutrients through your food.

Exercise

Lifting heavy weights

># So everybody should do resistance training, because it:

  • Supports lean mass over flabby mass[32] [33]
  • Helps a lot with losing fat[34] [35]
  • Helps a lot with building muscle[36]
  • Keeps your metabolism running, even while you rest (it usually slows down when you diet, making dieting harder)[37] - more than cardio by itself[38]
  • If done correctly, makes you stronger and healthier,[39] [40] improves your posture[41] and prevents injuries[42], especially falls and fractures by strengthening your bones,[43] [44] making it important for the elderly, and for women[45] - it helps prevent the yoyo effect[46]

Yes, even if you are fat, or female, you want to lift weights. Saying "I just want to look toned/I don’t want to look like a bodybuilder“ means you should go to a gym. I am not trying to convince you any more than by saying this: if you don’t want to lift weights, go read another guide. One that lies to you, because even if your goal is looking like a dancer, olympic athlete, MMA fighter or animu character, lifting weights is part of the path.

The three key components of weightlifting

  • Aim for balance - work the legs, the front, the back, the core, the limbs; push and pull, flex and extend. I don’t think much of excessively focussing on certain bodyparts. A balanced body is a healthy and attractive body. If you only care about getting bigger arms, go read another guide.
  • Train progressively[47] [48] [49] - you have to increase the loading parameters over time or nothing will happen. As a beginner, you want to add weight to your exercises every week at least. If you don’t add weight over time, your body is not going to change. It is an adaption process. You lift heavy, your body adapts to the stress, you the lift heavier and you keep lifting heavier until you can lift the heaviest you can lift. Track your lifts on a notepad every workout.
  • Stay safe and injury free[50]- educate yourself on proper form, watch videos, make videos of yourself and show them around. Bad lifting can hurt you, and won’t make you any better. See here for some reference cards. If you want a deeper understanding of the main lifts, I highly recommending reading Starting Strength. Also, if you can't control the weight on the way down, it's too heavy. Don't just drop it.

Generally, you want to take a balanced selection of mostly multi-joint (compound), full-body exercises, and do a few heavy, but secure sets per exercise per week, doing each exercise about twice a week, keep good form, starting with a manageable weight and trying to consistently increase the weight on the main lifts. Later on, you would add some assistance exercises for specific purposes, but the money lies in becoming able to do these compound exercises for about 5-8 reps[51] with ever increasing weight. Any routine and training scheme that allows you to do this is good, anything that doesn’t most likely bad. A routine like this will allow you to lose fat and therefore look more defined/toned, or build muscle/gain bodymass, depending on your diet.

People smarter than me have written up...


FAQ.

Diet FAQ.

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Any question focusing on Insulin! Glycaemic Index!

Forget about it. Insulin is vastly misunderstood[52] by the usual internet fitness writers. It is one of several key players, not the only culprit; it only mediates what your diet and exercise do anyways; there are alternative pathways that are just as important; if you try to shape your body by controlling insulin, the body will just use another pathway to bring you to where you should be.
Insulin, or various foods and their effects on insulin, are often blamed for obesity and, at times, every other bad thing. This is in part because on a mixed diet (carbs and fat), insulin is the hormone that mostly regulates bodyfat storage, and insulin resistance is a common and dangerous symptom of obesity. However, on a carb free diet, the body won’t simply waste nutrients either, and other pathways will be used to get fat if you eat enough; and insulin resistance is caused by eating excess fat alternatively to excess carbs, too. Most people that are fat today got fat by eating carbs and fat combined; but that only means that they ate a lot of fat and carbs, not that combining fat and carbs, or eating carbs at all, makes you fat. They would have gotten as fat on a carb free diet, and almost as fat on a fat free diet, assuming the calories stay the same.
Insulin also causes satiety, prevents muscle catabolism, increases free testosterone levels and, most of all, a healthy, exercising and well-eating individual will be able to control their blood sugar and insulin levels quite well enough anyways.
Current insulin levels are usually a symptom of what you are doing, not a cause of what’s happening to you. So stop worrying about it and focus on exercise and good food instead. For a more in depth answer (quoting Anonymous):
"The hormones insulin and glucagon work antagonistically (insulin encourages lipogenesis and discourages lipolysis, glucagon does the opposite) to keep the blood glucose concentration constant. As the blood glucose concentration decreases, glucagon secretion increases and fat is released from adipocytes so that it can be used for energy and to increase glucose levels. As the glucose concentration increases, insulin secretion increases, and glucose is removed from the blood to be stored in adipocytes. If you eat maintenance calories, the end result is one of balance - there will be no net fat gain or fat loss. If you eat above maintenance then insulin wins and the extra energy is stored as fat (or used for muscle). If you eat below maintenance then glucagon wins and there will be a net loss of fat. There is no way around this mechanism, this system is pretty much infallible by necessity.
As I've said before, the only hormones that can directly cause or prevent obesity are ones which affect the amount of energy you take in (leptin, for example) or the amount of energy you spend (by increasing activity or by increasing metabolism). Under normal circumstances (i.e., in the absence of metabolic disorders and in the absence of a caloric surplus or deficit) insulin and glucagon will perfectly balance each other and you will not gain or lose any fat."
If you still believe in Insulin as the main player, you’re an uneducated, quasi-religious nutjob.
High-GI food has been wrongly implicated of being fattening;[53][54][55][56][57] and low-GI diets have been wrongly thought to be more filling.[58][59][60] This is flat out wrong and mainly stems from the fact that researchers used to use highly processed food to represent high-GI food, and less processed food to represent low-GI food. Even the GI - insulin connection is way more complex than carbophobics usually think.[61]

General ketogenic diets/Atkins.

First, refer to the general principles of dieting . If your keto diet fits in there, it's gonna work.
Some people however claim that ketosis is inherently better than a carb based or carb inclusive diet. The evidence however is farily conclusive: while many people consume too many carbs and need to cut back on them, and while some people simply feel better on a low carb or even ketogenic diet, feeling less hunger and less bloat, others do not, with many reporting adverse reactions to keto and low carb, and on average, ketogenic diets do not burn more fat or spare muscle better than non ketogenic diets.[62] [63][64] Any claimed benefit of ketogenic diets that would work for everyone is mostly mediated by the higher protein content in comparison to regular diets; and obviously, you can also eat a low fat high carb high protein diet, and many people are doing just this and benefiting from it.[65]
For the wrong idea that low carb is inherently better than moderate or high carb, refer to the chapter on macronutrient ratios . Again: different things work for different people. You will have to experiment a bit.

Specific nutrients

Fructose![66] Saturated Fats![67][68][69][70][71] Vegetable Fats!
You could almost take the chapter on Insulin and replace the word Insulin with fructose/SFA, and you have your answer.
Again: anything is bad in excess, and good in moderation. Usually, you will get an excess of certain things if you eat too much overprocessed, modern food; you will get appropriate, healthy amounts of stuff if you eat a traditionally prepared, moderated diet.
You will not get excess fructose from eating fruit, or excess saturated fat from eating fish and eggs. You will get excess fructose from drinking soda 24/7, and from eating pizza and burgers all day. It is less a question of things with chemical names, and more a question of apples and oranges (or rather, apples and candy).

"Why aren’t you advocating (Cyclical) Ketogenic Diets/Paleo diets/Zone Diet/This Crazy Stuff My Favourite Bodybuilder Does?"

Because they are just one way to achieve the general, supervening principles outlined in the general diet chapter. Where they diverge from said chapter, they are wrong, where they agree, they are redundant, where they cover different topics, they are just personal preferences.


"Clean" food

Brown vs. White Rice, Sweet Potatos vs. Regular Potatoes, Organic vs. Conventional, “Clean” eating vs. Mixed diets...
This is mostly down to taste preferences. The nutritional differences between the alternatives are neglible (really; check the labels). I know the internet says otherwise, but the cold hard numbers are what matters. You may eat the pricier option if it gives you a smug sense of superiority, I don’t really care, just don’t act as if it was necessary or optimal unless you can bring specific numbers to the table (say, item X has 120% more of nutrient Y than item Z).
Generally speaking, if you eat lots of the protein foods mentioned above, and lots of vegetables, and maybe supplement some vitamin D and fish oil, you got your nutrients covered. And if you don’t, you most likely don’t, and how crappy your rice tastes won’t change a thing

"I want the quickest way to lose weight that is not completely idiotic!"

The quickest legal way is something called PSMF by Lyle McDonald. The quickest way, period, is adding illegal drugs to your exercise+diet combo. I don’t really know much about drugs, but googling clenbuterol + DNP + Cytomel/T3 is probably where you would start. Just remember that drugs are drugs and may be illegal and are most definitely dangerous. Seriously dude, people have died taking that stuff. Don't be stupid.

harsh

Clerisy

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