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Strength & Power

If you're ready to GET STRONG and BREAK PERSONAL RECORDS; if you want to possess powerful, explosive force in your lifts; if you want to unleash the beast inside you and show everyone that you are a FORCE to be reckoned with; let us show YOU how get there.

Building strength and power is gut-busting work. It takes a focused mindset that doesn't surrender under the bar. And it takes the right nutrition and supplement program to help you fully recover, cut down recovery time, and get strong as hell! Labrada can take the guesswork out of it for you, the serious strength athlete.

Take that important first step NOW -- start by reading below!

"The Strength & Power" Stack

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Intro

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When Dave Tate, Louie Simmons and Jim Wendler are your heroes, it's safe to say that you're not interested in developing a "classical" symmetrical physique or having 6% body fat. You'd rather develop the mass and power needed to pull a truck or deadlift a 700+ pound bar.

It takes a LOT of calories to grow and thrive on a hardcore power/strength-training program. When calories rule, however, it's all-too-easy to rationalize downing junk/fast/convenience food ad lib. Sadly, even the heaviest training can't compensate for the excess calories that a lot of powerlifters and strongman trainees chow down. I've seen far too many competitors sporting the kind of gut that make me want to ask, "When is the baby due?"

Jokes aside, a hard, round abdomen is also a sign that something is dangerously wrong: and it isn't a freak pregnancy, either. Rather, it's visceral fat: the kind that's packed around internal organs, rather than jiggling under the skin. The latter (aka "subcutaneous fat") may be unsightly, but it's comparatively harmless; whereas visceral fat is linked to increased risk of cardiovascular disease1, type 2 diabetes and reduced testosterone levels2.

Serious trainees should be flipping big tires - not wearing them. Fortunately, it IS possible to get the mass/strength-building calories you need, without pounding down a ton of unhealthy, over-processed, nutrient-deprived, fat-sugar-and-sodium-rich junk "food".

Diet & Meal Plans

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How Many Calories Do You Need?

A calorie (actually a kilocalorie) is a unit of energy. Scientifically speaking, it's the amount of energy needed to raise the temperature of 1 kilogram of water 1°C. Since your body maintains a core temperature of roughly 37°C, 24/7, it’s obvious that you need a certain number of calories just to exist. The number of calories needed to perform basic life functions (like breathing and thinking) is known as your resting energy expenditure (REE).

Activities such as walking, talking, eating and – yes – exercise require additional energy. So, your total daily energy expenditure (TDEE) is your REE, plus the energy used for physical activity and digestion (aka the “thermic effect of food”).

To put it another way…

Your TDEE is the total number of calories you can eat without gaining or losing weight.

Not surprisingly, this is the starting point for any nutrition plan, whether you're interested in gaining mass & strength, maintaining your weight, or losing body fat. Too many calories will result in fat gains. Too few will flatline your training progress, impair your ability to recover from your workouts, and trigger muscle loss. No matter what your goal is, you never want to go too high above; or drop too far below your TDEE for an extended period of time.

In her outstanding reference book, "Power Eating," Dr. Susan Kleiner recommends the following calorie intakes for dedicated strength/power athletes3:

Goal: Men Women
Fat Loss 35 - 38 kcal/kg (16 - 17 kcal/lb.) 35 kcal/kg (16 kcal/lb.)
Maintenance 42 kcal/kg (19 kcal/lb.) 38 - 40 kcal/kg (17 - 18 kcal/lb.)
Muscle Gain 44 - 52+kcal/kg (20 - 24+ kcal/lb.) 44 - 50 kcal/kg (20 - 23 kcal/lb.)

For optimal health and well-being, the majority of your calories should come from quality sources of the three macronutrients: protein, fat and carbohydrates.

Macronutrients: Protein, Fat and Carbohydrates

Protein

You need to consume high-quality, lean protein to build muscle. A good amount of protein to aim for is 1 gram per pound of bodyweight. This is more than most dieticians recommend, but it's perfect for strength/power athletes trying to maintain or gain lean body mass. Your protein sources should be low in fat, as fat is a highly concentrated source of calories! The "hidden" calories in fatty meats and full-fat dairy products can easily tip the scales in favor of body fat gains.

Optimal Protein Sources Sub-Optimal Protein Sources
lean beef (flank steak, beef tenderloin, 96% lean ground beef) deli meats
skinless chicken breast hard cheeses/processed cheese
turkey breast lunch meats/hot dogs
egg whites bacon/sausage/salami/pepperoni
fish/shellfish whole milk/milk drinks/milk substitutes
pork tenderloin fried chicken/fish
non-fat cottage cheese ground beef with >4% fat (by weight)
nonfat Greek yogurt (plain) cuts meat with visible fat/marbling
water-packed tuna buffalo wings, bbq ribs

Note: don’t be fooled by front-of-package labeling! This may come as a surprise, but more than half of the calories in 15% “lean” ground beef come from fat! This is because the label is based on the percentage of fat by weight. Since fat is a concentrated source of calories, even small amounts of fat can add a lot of unwanted calories.

As you can see from the table, an optimal source of protein is…

  • Low in fat, carbohydrates and sodium;
  • Derived from animals rather than plants.

Meat, fish, poultry, egg and dairy proteins are not only concentrated sources of protein; they're also rich in the essential amino acids (EAAs) that our bodies cannot make. One of these, leucine, is especially important for muscle protein synthesis4. By contrast, plant foods contain less protein (and leucine!) overall; and may be deficient in one or more EAAs.

What About Vegetarians?

Meat and fish are concentrated sources of protein and essential amino acids, so it's not hard for omnivores to eat the recommended amount of protein. Vegetarians, however, may have a tougher time. If you're a lacto-ovo vegetarian, the void left by meat can be partially filled with eggs/whites, lower fat dairy foods like cottage cheese and Greek yogurt and - of course - high-quality protein supplements like Lean Pro8 or Lean Body®.

But vegans can also manage, if they choose their foods and supplements wisely. Vegans should focus on plant foods that contain the highest amount of protein, such as lentils, soybeans, split peas and other legumes; peanuts/peanut butter, spinach, oatmeal and whole grains (including products like whole wheat pasta and bread). Certain specialty products (like "Quorn" or "Gardenburgers") and plant-based protein supplements (brown rice, pea, soy and hemp protein powders) can also be used, although whole/minimally processed foods should form the core of your diet.

Vegans/vegetarians may also come up short in certain food elements that omnivores take for granted: vitamin B12, zinc, calcium, creatine, vitamin D (assuming lack of daily sun exposure),5 EPA/DHA6 and carnosine.7 Certain supplements in my line are perfect for vegans, such as my BA-Endurance, EFA Lean Gold, CreaLean, Kre-Alkalyn, BCAA Power and HICA-Max, as they restore the carnosine, EFAs, creatine and certain essential amino acids that may be lacking in a vegan diet.

Fats

As noted above, fat can contribute a lot of extra calories to your diet. Nonetheless, some dietary fat is important for good health and optimal anabolic hormone levels. A little goes a long way, though, since fat contains 9 calories/g vs. 4 calories/g for protein & carbs. Because of this, limit your fat intake to small servings of natural, whole food sources and unrefined/supplemental oils, such as the ones listed below.

Optimal Fat Sources Sub-Optimal Fat Sources
almonds/walnuts/pistachiosskinless chicken breast commercial cooking oils
ground flax seed margarine/butter
hemp/sunflower/sesame seeds commercial salad dressings/mayonnaise
wild-caught salmon bacon/sausage/salami/pepperoni
avocadoes whole milk/half & half/cream
extra-virgin olive oil shortening/lard
fish oil ground beef with >4% fat (by weight)
EFA Lean Gold cuts of meat with visible fat/marbling

Note: be especially wary of foods containing “partially-hydrogenated vegetable oil.” Partially-hydrogenated oils contain harmful trans-fats, which are linked to heart disease and strokes.8

What makes the fat sources on the left better choices than the ones on the right? The ones on the left provide heart-healthy monounsaturated and/or omega-3 essential fatty acids. Foods like nuts, seeds, avocadoes and salmon also supply valuable nutrients in addition to the fat. On the other hand, the fat sources on the right contain excessive amounts of saturated fat, trans-fats and/or pro-inflammatory omega-6 fatty acids.9

Carbohydrates

Carbs are not the enemy, despite what low-carb advocates claim. Complex carb sources like fresh vegetables/fruits, legumes and whole grains provide energy, vitamins/minerals, disease-fighting phytochemicals and fiber - which are important for both athletic performance and long-term health. When you're training heavily, complex carbs are your best friend!

Optimal Carb Sources Sub-Optimal Carb Sources
sweet potatoes/yams; white potatoes french fries/potato chips
brown/wild rice, barley, quinoa white rice
old-fashioned/steel-cut oatmeal packaged, ready-to-eat cereals
100% whole wheat bread/pasta bread/pasta made with "enriched" white flour
legumes (beans and dried, split peas) baked beans; canned bean/pea soups
fresh and frozen (unseasoned) vegetables sauced/buttered frozen vegetables
fresh and frozen (unsweetened) fruit dried fruit/"fruit snacks"/juices/juice drinks
Rye Crispbreads commercial crackers and tortilla chips
corn tortillas; air-popped popcorn jams/jellies/honey/agave syrup/sugar/maple syrup
Power-Carb candy, cookies, snack cakes, breakfast bars, sweetened coffee drinks, energy drinks, Gatorade, sodas, "Vitamin Water"

Note: don’t be misled by front-of-package terms like “organic,” “natural,” “healthy,” “made with whole grains,” or “low fat.” Organic sugar and “natural” unbleached white flour aren’t any better for you than their conventional counterparts. Likewise, many products “made with whole grains” are simply white flour products, with a few grams of whole grain flour added to justify the label claim.

In truth, many so-called "healthy" food products aren't good for you at all: they're just less unhealthy than the “regular” versions. A truly healthy food will make a strong, positive contribution to your diet, not simply contain fewer "bad" ingredients.

It should be easy to see the differences between the optimal and sub-optimal carb sources in the table above. An optimal carb source…

  • Is either unprocessed; or minimally-processed so that the original nutrients are retained;
  • Is high in natural fiber;
  • Does not contain added fat, sugar or sodium;
  • Does not trigger excessive insulin production.

Eating between 2.0g - 3.0g of carbohydrate per pound of bodyweight should be just about right for most trainees looking to maintain their mass/strength; although men with physically demanding jobs or activities may need more. Be guided by your energy levels and body composition measurements (more on this below).

How Many Meals Should You Eat?

It goes without saying that you should strive to eat more than 3 meals a day! For most power athletes, 5 - 6 meals a day is ideal. Eating frequent, smaller meals helps trainees feel more energetic, rather than stuffed and sluggish. This system helps prevent overeating, keeps insulin (a fat-storing hormone) levels lower10, and provides a steady supply of protein to your body throughout the day.

Note: you don't have to be a slave to the kitchen to manage 5 - 6 daily meals! While eating frequent, protein-packed meals is important, you can rely on specially-formulated products - like Lean Body® Mass 60 or my Lean Body® - to fill in the blanks.

Putting it all together...

Use the spreadsheet below to calculate your (starting) calorie and macronutrient needs:

Weight (in pounds):

  Man Woman
Goal: Lose Weight: Maintain: Gain Muscle: Lose Weight: Maintain: Gain Muscle:
Total Calories:
Protein (g):
Fat (g):
Carbohydrate:
Meal Protein (g) Carbs (g) Fat (g) Calories
Breakfast: Veggie/Eggbeater omelet, 1 1/2 c. oatmeal, 8 oz. glass of orange juice, 1t flax oil 28 75 27 655
Mid-morning: 4 scoops Lean Body® Mass 60; 2 large kiwi fruit 62 104 8 736
Lunch: 3 oz. sliced chicken breast; 1/2 sliced avocado, 1 whole wheat sandwich roll; broccoli florets/baby carrots/olive oil vinaigrette dip, large tangerine 40 80 39.5 800
Mid-afternoon: Cookie Roll Snack Bar; large apple 26 66 8.5 445
Pre-Workout: StimForce, 5 scoops of PowerCarb, 2 scoops BCAA Power

0 125 0 500
Post-Workout: 4 scoops of Lean Body® Mass 60, 1 large banana 62 108 7.5 748
Dinner: 4 oz. grilled orange roughy, 1 1/2 c. steamed brown rice pilaf, steamed green beans, spinach salad w/1T olive oil-vinaigrette dressing; 1c. fresh pineapple chunks, 1T flax oil 37 99 34 850
Total 255 657 124.5 4768

Tips for Success!

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  • 1.

    Keep a journal. If you're serious about your training, you already keep records of your exercises, sets, reps and loads. If you're serious about improving your body composition, you'll do the same for your meals. There are a number of online programs and mobile apps you can use to make this simple, although even pencil-and-paper will do. If you need to tweak your program (and most people do, at some point), your journal will provide you with valuable insights on how to do it.

  • 2.

    Measure your food. The “normal” portions we’re used to eating and drinking have expanded over the years... and Americans have been expanding right along with them! "Portion distortion" is one reason why people fail in their efforts to lose excess fat: they're eating many more calories than they think they are! Take peanut butter for an example: a "serving" is two LEVEL tablespoons. Most Americans use heaping spoonfuls - equivalent to 2 - 3 servings. Even small underestimates, over the course of the day, can add up to enough extra calories to derail your efforts.

    If you’d rather not use measuring cups or spoons to measure your food, use your hands and eyes instead. The portion of protein at your main meals (breakfast, lunch and dinner) should be the size of the palm of your open hand. Starchy, complex carbs (like sweet potatoes or brown rice), should be the size of your closed fist. And fibrous/green veggies are free! As long as you keep your fat portions small and controlled, you won’t go past your calorie limit.

  • 3.

    Measure your progress. Don't rely solely on the scale, as simple changes in weight can be deceiving. Since your goal is to lose body fat and maintain/gain lean muscle, you need a method for assessing changes to your fat and lean mass. The simplest and best method is to pick up an inexpensive caliper, like the Slim-Guide or Accu-Measure™.

    Note: You can get your own Accu-Measure Body Fat Calipers by calling Labrada Nutrition at 1-800- 832-9948.

  • 4.

    Plan ahead! Shop for the foods you want to eat BEFORE you want to eat them - never shop when you're hungry! You can also prepare many staples in advance. It's easy, for example, to put together a quick, healthy entree, if you have pre-chopped veggies, grilled chicken breasts and pre-cooked brown rice already stored in the fridge or freezer.

  • 5.

    Pack a cooler. There are a lot of simple to prepare-and-eat foods you can take with you to work: sliced pre-cooked meat or poultry, raw veggies/grape tomatoes, hard-boiled eggs, fresh fruit, wholegrain crispbreads, cottage cheese/Greek yogurt (plain), foil tuna packets, pre-made (deli or home) tabouli and hummus are some examples. If you have access to a microwave, you can also bring leftover chili, stew or other entrees from home.

    And don't forget to toss in a couple of Lean Body® packets and a shaker bottle! Having access to a filling, high-quality, emergency meal or snack can be a life (and program) saver (see below for more information)!

  • 6.

    Drink plenty of water. It's important to stay well hydrated! In addition, water can help reduce your appetite and - when consumed with meals - increase your sense of fullness.

  • 7.

    Take a good, basic multivitamin and source of essential fatty acids (like EFA Lean Gold, fish oil or Udo's Choice).

  • 8.

    Limit your alcohol intake while you're on the Lean Body program. Alcohol slows fat burning,12 and alcohol calories displace healthier ones.

  • 9.

    Cheat! More on this below…

Cheating on your diet!

Yes, you read that right. I want you cheat… a little. Too many diets are “all or nothing diets.” On the Lean Body plan, I encourage you to stay within the guidelines but twice a week you can cheat and enjoy a small portion of your favorite foods.

Here’s how you do it: always start your meal with a protein serving, no matter what. The protein will stabilize your blood sugar and supply your muscles with amino acids. Once you’ve eaten that protein, your appetite will already be partly satisfied. As a result, you’ll be less tempted to over-indulge.

Warning: never cheat when you’re hungry, because you’ll tend to overeat. Don’t overdo it, either! A cheat meal isn’t a license to go hog-wild. It’s still an exercise in discipline: ultimately, controlled cheats will help teach you how to live in the “real world,” once you’ve reached your goal weight and body composition.

Supplements

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Should you take supplements?

Absolutely! While you don't need many different products, a few, carefully chosen ones can make a big difference in your results.

The supplements I recommend for leaning out and building muscle are...

  • 1.

    A well-made weight gainer. For guys on the go, it can be tough to get enough calories in from solid food meals. This is where a product like Lean Body® Mass 60 comes in: one serving delivers 60 full grams of high-quality lean protein and 610 calories. It's packed with vitamins, minerals, fiber and creatine, yet is non-bloating and easy to digest. It's complete enough to use throughout the day, in-between your regular meals, to make it easier to get the calories, protein and nutrition your muscles need to grow.

  • 2.

    A solid pre-workout formula to enhance focus, training drive and workout performance. A lot of guys hit the weights after work, when they're fatigued and high on stress. The right pre-workout supplement can make a world of difference in the ability to give it 100% in the gym.

    Unfortunately, all too many pre-workout formulas are padded with "label decoration" - irrelevant and/or poorly-researched compounds that look impressive on the label, but contribute little or nothing to its effectiveness. This is why I developed Super Charge: ALL of the ingredients in this clinically-proven formula have been thoroughly researched... and it tastes great, too!

  • 3.

    Pre-workout carbs. A supplement like Power Carb is high-octane fuel for your muscles. Taken before, during and/or after your workout, Power Carb provides you with the energy you need to pound the weights.

  • 4.

    Branched-chain amino acids (BCAAs). These essential amino acids help prevent muscle breakdown and fatigue, promote muscle protein synthesis, provide fuel, speed recovery, and promote anabolic hormone production. The BCAA#&39;s provided in BCAA Power drink mix are Ajipure™ brand pharmaceutical grade-the finest and purest in the world.

  • 5.

    A solid anti-catabolic. A lot of trainees focus on muscle protein synthesis (MPS); but when it comes to building muscle, MPS is only half of the story. The other half is reducing muscle protein breakdown! High-quality protein provides the building blocks for new muscle fibers, while a clinically-validated supplement like HICA-Max keeps catabolism at bay.11

  • 6.

    Creatine Monohydrate. Creatine monohydrate is the best-studied, most-effective and safest muscle-building supplement on the market. No strength/power athlete should be without it. A pharmaceutical-grade supplement like CreaLean™ is the perfect source, to help you build mass, increase muscle torque production and sustain higher levels of intensity throughout your workout.

  • 7.

    optional extras... Humanogrowth naturally supports healthy testosterone levels: a must when you're trying to add size and strength. Likewise, if you'd like to boost the protein content of a meal or snack, give my ProV60® multi-purpose protein blend or Lean Pro8™ super-premium protein a try. Both are high-quality protein blends that were designed to meet the needs of elite strength and physique athletes: and they taste amazing, too!

"The Strength & Power" Stack

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References

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Check out the Lean Body Promise, which is packed with motivational tips, recipes, workouts and detailed advice on getting lean and mean. And if you hit a stumbling block, have questions or want to share your progress, log into the forum at labrada.com! We’d love to hear from yo

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    Venderley AM and Campbell WW. Vegetarian diets: nutritional considerations for athletes. Sports Med. 2006;36(4):293-305. [PubMed] [Abstract]

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    Davis BC, Kris-Etherton PM. Achieving optimal fatty acid status in vegetarians: current knowledge and practical implications. Am J Clin Nutr. 2003 Sep;78(3 Suppl):640S-646S. [PubMed] [Full Text]

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    Harris RC, Jones G, Hill CA, et al. The carnosine content of V Lateralis in vegetarians and omnivores. FASEB. 2007;21:769.20. [Meeting Abstract]

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    Raben A, Agerholm-Larsen L, Flint A, et al. Meals with similar energy densities but rich in protein, fat, carbohydrate, or alcohol have different effects on energy expenditure and substrate metabolism but not on appetite and energy intake. Am J Clin Nutr. 2003 Jan;77(1):91-100. [PubMed] [Full Text]

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    nwcr.ws. “Research Findings.” National Weight Control Registry. 4 Nov. 2011. [Site]

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    Mero AA, Ojala T, Hulmi JJ, et al. Effects of alfa-hydroxy-isocaproic acid on body composition, DOMS and performance in athletes. J Int Soc Sports Nutr. 2010 Jan 5;7:1. [PubMed] [Full Text]

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    Hoffman JR, Ratamess NA, Faigenbaum AD, et al. Short-duration beta-alanine supplementation increa ses training volume and reduces subjective feelings of fatigue in college football players. Nutr Res. 2008 Jan;28(1):31-5. [PubMed] [Abstract]


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