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Marisa’s USAPL Nationals Training Log | Part 1 - Thu, 08/29/2019 - 09:26

Marisa kicks off her USAPL Nationals Training with a Deadlift PR

The post Marisa’s USAPL Nationals Training Log | Part 1 appeared first on Juggernaut Training Systems.

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Q&A: Keto, Rapid Fat Loss, Deadlifts, and Faulty Movement Patterns (Episode 15) - Thu, 08/29/2019 - 04:00

Remember: If you want your questions answered on a future episode, submit them using one of the following links: Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter.

Time Stamps

0:00:59 Do you have to squat to reach your ultimate deadlift potential?

0:15:58 Is keto the best diet for weight loss?

0:32:10 What exercises would you base a routine around for non-powerlifters?

0:46:43 What are the repercussions of rapid fat loss? How can you achieve rapid fat loss while minimizing the repercussions as much as possible?

1:02:31 Do you still believe that planks increase hip mobility?

1:08:18 What’s the best and most accurate way to track daily energy expenditure? Are Fitbits the best option?

1:23:04 What is the best resource for someone looking for corrective exercises for their particular faulty movement pattern?

1:34:09 What are some of the best reading materials you’d recommend for a trainer that is just starting out?

1:39:19 What are some of the biggest tips you would give someone who wants to get into an exercise science program at a university and excel academically?

The post Q&A: Keto, Rapid Fat Loss, Deadlifts, and Faulty Movement Patterns (Episode 15) appeared first on Stronger by Science.

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Dangers of the Discount Trainer - Wed, 08/28/2019 - 14:06

There’s no shortage of topics to debate in today’s world.

  • Keto vs. CICO?1
  • How to best tackle the issue of healthcare?
  • Is Pluto a planet?

I don’t have a horse in the race on any of the above, except:

  • Keto zealots are the worst.
  • We need to be more PROACTIVE than REACTIVE with regards to healthcare.2
  • You’re goddamn right it’s a planet.

Nevertheless, when it comes to choosing your team – or side of the fence – with any topic I always say the real right answer is…

it depends.

It’s rare for something to be so clear-cut and definitive; there’s always a degree of nuance and extenuating factors to consider.

Seriously, Pluto’s a planet.3

Copyright: 5second / 123RF Stock Photo

Dangers of the Discount Trainer

I’m going to just come right out and say it: I’m not a fan of trainers offering discounts for their services. Now, I say this with a grain of salt because I completely understand (and respect) that it’s a delicate matter and that there’s a number of factors to consider.

For example, I think it makes a lot of sense for larger, commercial gyms to offer discounts.

In Boston, like any major city, there are several notable, big chain commercial gyms vying for people’s attention (and wallets):

  • Equinox
  • Boston Sports Club
  • HealthWorks
  • LifeTime Fitness
  • 24 Hour Fitness
  • Golds
  • Planet Fitness
  • Beacon Hill Athletic Club

In addition there’s dozens of mid-level commercial gyms (not chains, but pretty big) peppered throughout the city, not to mention a CrossFit box in every major neighborhood. That’s a lot of competition and it makes sense that many of them would offer a free consultation or discounted introductory rates on training to entice more people to join.

Moreover, and as Cressey Sports Performance business director, Pete Dupuis, has noted in the past: Roughly 30% of people who are offered free consultations actually end up taking advantage of them.

“This may be a solid conversion rate from the perspective of the commercial gym owner, but not for the independent contractor who doesn’t see a single penny of the monthly membership dues these potential leads are paying.  A 30% conversion rate tells me that 7 out of 10 people decided that something for nothing was actually worth nothing.”

As a small business – and more to the point, as a gym that only offers personal and semi-private training (no open gym or classes) – I don’t have the luxury of hundreds (if not thousands) of people paying a membership fee just to walk through the doors.

Why would I offer my services and time at a free or discounted rate when I have bills to pay?4

I can hear the cacophony of pitchforks now.

“But Tony, if you offer free/discounted stuff it’s less intimidating and allows people to see whether or not you’re a good fit.

Stop being such an uppity a-hole!”

To that Point

1. Try walking into a hair salon, attorney’s office, or, I don’t know, Gringotts Bank and ask someone for 30-60 minutes of their time in order to sample the goods and to see if “you’re a good fit.”

HAHAHAHAHAHA – no, seriously, do it.

2. This is my livelihood, not a garage sale.

Sorry not sorry.

To that end, I don’t want to sit here, come across as some crotchedy old bastard (GET OFF MY LAWN!), and rag on the notion that you should never discount your rates as a trainer.

I mean, only Sith’s deal in absolutes, right?

Some Pros or When to Offer Discounts 1. You’re New

If you’re a new trainer or coach in the industry, need experience and more eyes on you – particularly in a crowded commercial gym scenario where there’s a few dozen trainers vying for the same thing – then it makes sense to offer some discounted training to build your client roster.

It’s not beneath you to do so.

I did it.

When I was a commercial gym trainer I’d often offer free 15-30 minute “Deep Dives” for on my own time for members:

  • Deep Dive: REAL Core Training
  • Deep Dive: Learn How to Deadlift
  • Deep Dive: Shoulder Friendly Strength Training
  • Deep Dive: How Hot is Jennifer Garner in Alias?

Hey, it was 2005.5

As a result I got more eyes on me and would often have members reach out to begin training.

For the more mathematical minded in the crowd, you can also think of it this way courtesy of  Finnish coach, Joni Jaakola of Optimal Performance:

“Offer 45 minute free training sessions + 15 minute consultation => client can experience what they are about to sign into => convert 50% of them => fully booked weekly calendar in two months or so.”

2. One-Time Special Offers

My friends over at Mark Fisher Fitness in NYC are huge proponents of offering special one-time only offers of 20-25% off packages when people attend a special class or charity event.

I like this idea.

If you’re already making the time to be at a certain place at a certain time, go for it.

Offer free shit – training, tickle fights, whatever.

People attend a class, you get their names, you offer the offer, and then you follow-up with a PHONE CALL (or text) – people just delete email – for a few weeks to remind them of when the offer expires.

3. It’s August

In the fitness industry, August (in the Northern hemisphere anyway) is…the…worst.

It’s a dead-zone.

Gym floors often resemble the barren, desolate wastelands of Mordor.

BTW: I’m fucking killing it with the pop culture references in this post today.

Except in this case it’s because people are on vacation in Martha’s Vineyard (and not so much because of the whole Sauron thing).

So, I get it.

Sometimes you have to discount your rates to attract people’s attention and to get bodies on the gym floor.

Totally legit reason.

However, my buddy and I were headed to get some pizza after a killer squat session last week when we walked past this sign located at the main entrance of a gym chain here in Boston:

Now, admittedly, I have zero insights into this business’s numbers or the inner workings of their operation, maybe they’re crushing it, but to me this is what’s wrong with offering discounts…

…especially ones this, shall we say, aggressive.

My Take (the Cons)

Again, offering discounts is not wrong or altogether a waste of time.

There IS a time and place and a way to implement them that can and will behoove your business as well as the (potential) client.

That said, it’s important to remain aware of the concept of anchoring.

If you’re a fan of behavioral economics – such as myself – and read a lot of books on the topic as it relates to decision making and marketing this should be a familiar term.

Via Wikipedia:

The anchoring effect is a cognitive bias that describes the common human tendency to rely too heavily on the first piece of information offered. … During decision making, anchoring occurs when individuals use an initial piece of information to make subsequent judgments.”

Photo Credit:

In the case of the above offer ($15 for 70 minutes of training), the more the discount gets away from your full price, the more problems and reticence you’re going to have – from the consumer – when you reveal said full price.


1. Creates Price Sensitivity & Unsustainable Expectations

This is the double-edged sword of anchoring.

“Anchor” your price too far removed from your actual rates and you run the risk of creating a bevy of price sensitive clients who are going to jump ship to the next trainer or gym who offers an even better discount.

Canadian nutritionist, Steph Hnatiuk, agrees:

“I think huge discounts can attract clients who are only willing/able to pay bottom-end rates, and you’re unlikely to wow those people into full-price paying clients if their budget just doesn’t allow it. I think you wind up giving too much of yourself away in the process.”

2. Creates Discounted Effort

Pigging back on the above, in my experience I have found that discounted prices sometimes (not always) creates a culture of discounted effort.

Humans are very loss adverse.

This refers to people’s tendency to prefer avoiding losses to acquiring equivalent gains: it is better to not lose $5 than it is to find $5.

If a client pays my normal rate they have invested in themselves. There’s a degree of “buy in” from the individual to the tune of if they don’t show up – and I enforce my cancelation policy – there’s an inherent loss there.

And people hate loss.

Even more than the Patriots…;o)

Investment = people (usually) go out of their way to put forth some effort and consistency.

They show up.

$15 sessions = “meh, charge me, I gotta catch up on Ballers.

3. Creates Awkwardness

The less mental gymnastics I have to do as a business owner, the better.

  • Who’s coming in today?
  • Who needs a new program?
  • How many sessions does so and so have left in their package?
  • Why am I not wearing pants?

I prefer to keep things simple:

– I use Google Calendar to book my sessions.

– I use Excel to write my programs.

– I have an assistant who tracks all client sessions (and to let me know who needs what when).

– I almost always wear pants.

Too, when it comes to training packages, I also prefer simplicity and go out of my way to not offer a robust array of  options because, frankly, I don’t want to have to deal with that dumpster fire.

If I charge Client A “x” (a discount) and then Client B who is charged “y” (no discount) finds out about it, and is like “dafuq, Tony?”, it makes for some awkwardness I’d rather avoid.

Me touching my wife’s butt in public = awkwardness I can handle.

Me not shaving my head for two weeks = awkwardness I can still kinda-sorta handle.

Me explaining why two clients are charged two different rates = no thank you.

4. You Get What You Pay For

Image Inspired by (^^I did that all by myself ^^)

This is 90% meant to be more than tongue-n- cheek than anything.

But, yeah, you get what you pay for.

The post Dangers of the Discount Trainer appeared first on Tony Gentilcore.

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Pushed by Pain, Pulled by Purpose - Wed, 08/28/2019 - 11:09
I hope my story encourages you to realize that your past does not hold you back, no matter the story. There is always a way to use negative experiences for good and help others. It is also at that point you are no longer pushed by pain, but otherwise, pulled by purpose.
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The JuggLife | Dr. James Hoffmann | Integrated Periodization in Sport - Wed, 08/28/2019 - 10:28

Dr. James Hoffmann of Renaissance Periodization joins us to discuss his new book, co-authored with legendary Tudor Bompa, Integrated Periodization in Sports Training and Athletic Development.

Today’s episode is brought to you by…

Manscaped, for all your below the belt grooming needs visit and use JUGGLIFE for 20% off and free shipping.

BioWaveGo, if you’re struggling with chronic pain, use this FDA Approved, non-opioid solution at

The post The JuggLife | Dr. James Hoffmann | Integrated Periodization in Sport appeared first on Juggernaut Training Systems.

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4 Max Effort Method Principles to Master - Wed, 08/28/2019 - 10:20
In my opinion, conjugate is one of, if not, the best training systems — when employed properly. If it isn't working, don't disregard the system; instead, check your application.
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Back Squat vs. Front Squat: What’s the Difference?

While people love to debate about whether the back squat or front squat is “better,” I think there’s a far more important question to ask…

Namely, what are the DIFFERENCES between front and back squatting?

In this short video I break it down for you. Enjoy!

Now that you’ve watched the video, a few quick notes:

  • Sitting DOWN vs. BACK. In a front squat, it’s easier to get the pelvis underneath you, which allows you to sit down. In contrast, when back squatting the weight shifts you forward to some degree, which then forces you to sit back to help counterbalance effectively.
  • Upright vs. Angled torso. With the barbell in front of your body (and at risk of falling off your shoulders!), a front squat keeps you more upright. On the flip side when you’re back squatting, the weight pushes you forward and naturally angles your torso forward a bit more.
  • Anterior vs. Posterior Chain. In a front squat, the combination of sitting down and keeping the torso more upright is going to put more stress on the anterior chain – the abs and quads. In a back squat, where the torso is more angled and you have to sit back further, there’s more stress applied to the posterior chain – namely the spinal erectors, glutes and hamstrings.

As always, I hope you enjoyed the video and learned a thing or two along the way!

All the best,

The post Back Squat vs. Front Squat: What’s the Difference? appeared first on Robertson Training Systems.

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Forget “career hacks”… Here’s the real key to career success that almost no one is talking about. - Tue, 08/27/2019 - 23:01

We live in a world of ‘quick-starts’, ‘how-to-guides’, ‘career hacks’. This article is none of those. It’s a different kind of success story. And a powerful lesson on how to get ahead in health, fitness, and wellness, or any other field.


Success secrets.

Productivity hacks.

Tips, tricks, and quick formulas.

I’m often asked to share these as advice; the requests come when I’m being interviewed on podcasts, speaking at conferences, talking to journalists.

People who want to get ahead in health and fitness — or just about any other field — want to know:

How did you go from starting a health and fitness website with your buddy…

… to running a 200-million dollar company with about 100 team members and over 100,000 clients across 120 countries.

… to advising companies like Apple, Equinox, Nike, and Titleist.

… to being selected as one of the smartest/most influential people in the field?

And they really want to know:

What tip, method, shortcut do you recommend to help others do the same?

As you can probably tell, I’m not a big fan of these kinds of questions.

Can’t blame people for asking, though.

After all, I also want to learn from the people who’ve gone before me, the people who’ve succeeded in the way I hope to succeed.

But here’s the problem:

I could rhyme off a bunch of tips about my morning routine that allow me to run a business while being a father of four. But I don’t think they’ll matter much unless you’re also a father of four and already running a successful business.

Likewise, I don’t believe it was magical morning routines, or growth hacks, or tricks and tips that put me on the road to success in the first place.

In fact, I think it was something completely different.

Something that isn’t often talked about.

I call it “going down the rabbit hole”.

I remember it like it was yesterday.

It was a fresh Autumn day.

I was 21 years old, it was my first semester away at University, and I had an appointment with my first-ever guidance counselor.

I was ambitious, I had big goals, and I was excited to get some advice on how to plan my future.

I assumed the meeting would go something like this: He’d listen to me talk about my passions, about my goals, and he’d help me create an academic plan. Maybe even make suggestions for volunteer or internship opportunities.

As I gushed about my love for all things exercise and nutrition, about how it was my goal to have a successful career working with pro sports teams, athletes, and exercisers looking to eat, move, and live better, his face was stolid.

I was completely unprepared for what he said next:

“That’s nice… but there’s not much of a career in that for you. We have to be realistic here. There are too few jobs and the chances you’ll get one of them is almost zero. You’re a smart guy. Why don’t we sign you up for Pre-Med? Med school will be a great path for you.”

I walked out, head down, backpack dragging the ground behind me.

Days went by and, yes, the fog eventually lifted.

I figured… maybe he was wrong. Maybe I needed a second opinion. So, over the next few weeks, I asked around. Looking for a glimmer of hope.

Almost everyone gave the same advice.

Be sensible. Become a doctor. Forget this weird exercise obsession.

I was a 21-year-old from a blue-collar immigrant family. Who was I to not take advice from all these educated people? So I did the responsible, sensible thing. I signed up for Pre-Med, and I plotted my course to medical school.

At the same time, a part of me was mad. Really mad.

Who were they to tell me what my potential was? To squash my dream?

So, partly out of spite, but mostly out of this magnetic draw I felt towards health and fitness, sport and performance, I began living a double life.

I scraped together every dollar I had. During evenings and weekends I attended seminars covering fitness, nutrition, and sport related topics. I read everything. I wrote articles for free; I volunteered with gyms and sports teams.

Throughout, I still fully expected to attend med school.

But, eventually, some strange and interesting paths opened up.

I found a peer group that was passionate about the things I was interested in. (Surprise: I didn’t find them in my 4th year Chemistry and Physics classes.) And I stumbled upon formal and informal mentors.

Almost magically, more opportunities appeared, including offers to attend grad school in Exercise Science and Nutritional Biochemistry. Invitations to coach high-level athletes. Contracts to write for influential publications.

Still, after graduating with my Pre-Med degree (and minors in Philosophy and Psychology), it was no small feat to turn down the Med School offers. The voices were still in my head. But I did.

And instead of going to Med School…

…I fell down the health, fitness, and nutrition rabbit hole.

Here’s what I’ve come to realize:

Before Doctor Berardi, before Precision Nutrition, before I could have ever seen where it all would take me, I did something that many people felt unwise: I followed my passion.

Not because it was part of some master plan. But because everything I learned about health, fitness and nutrition made me want to learn more.

So, although I didn’t quit my day job, I didn’t quit dreaming either.

Instead of fighting my own intrinsic motivation, I went with it.

Instead of paddling upstream, I went with the current.

I rode the horses in the direction they were going.

I went down the rabbit hole.

And here I am today.

The hidden costs of having “A Master Plan”.

When it comes to our careers, our relationships, even our health and fitness, we’re often taught to plot very strategically.

Whether it’s from guidance counselors, business advisors, teachers, courses, e-books, blogs, podcasts, well-intentioned parents, or (seemingly) the whole Internet, we’re taught that we need to plan our path down to every step.

(“Life hackers” and proponents of “accelerated learning” teach us that we can even leapfrog a few of these steps. Bonus!)

So, that’s what we do.

We make checklists, knock off each item, rush to completion, and pray that our calculated maneuvering will lead to success or accomplishment or connection (or whatever we think we’ll need to feel happy).

Unfortunately, this particular approach may have a cost.

It might prevent us from experiencing some of the best, brightest, and most unexpectedly rewarding moments in life.

Even worse, it might prevent us from deep learning and mastery, which has been proven to give us satisfaction, meaning, and, if you’re a competitive person, a “leg up on the competition”.

Here’s an approach I like much better.

I’ve found that there’s tremendous joy — and surprising, unexpected rewards — that come from “going down the rabbit hole”.

From looking deeply, intensely at something you’re really passionate about.

From learning everything you can about it.

And from going “all in”.

If there is a formula for the kind of success most people want, even if they don’t know what that looks like yet, it might be something like this:

Strong personal mission
High competency
System for execution
Personal and career satisfaction

Have a look around.

You’ll find there’s almost nothing more powerful than someone with a deeply held motivation to do their work plus high level of skill plus a blueprint or system for executing every day.

Most people (in any field) have only one or two of those.

In some cases, that might be enough.

However, if you have all three, you’ll be amazed at what happens.

It doesn’t even matter where you’re starting from, or in what career you begin.

It’s interesting to note that most of the people on the Precision Nutrition team started in totally different fields:

  • Precision Nutrition co-founder Phil Caravaggio:
    Started as a software engineer.
  • Curriculum developer Krista Scott-Dixon:
    Started as a college professor in a different field.
  • Coach and exercise director Craig Weller:
    Started in the Navy special operations forces.
  • Coach and client care specialist Krista Schaus:
    Started as a police officer.
  • Coach Brian St. Pierre:
    Started at his dad’s paint store.
  • Client care specialist Sarah Masi:
    Started in a house cleaning business.

Then there are the thousands of Precision Nutrition Certification graduates.

In the last 6 months I’ve met:

  • mothers coaching online while on maternity leave,
  • graduates fresh out of school ready to do something meaningful,
  • boomers coming out of retirement to give something back,
  • surgeons dropping their scalpels and turning to preventative care,
  • investment bankers leaving the financial world, and helping others lead healthier lives.

None of these folks would have guessed their future would include working in health and fitness, coaching clients, and changing lives.

But here they are today.

And let’s not forget the reason they’re here…

Each did something that most people don’t.

They went “all in” on learning about their passion.

Even before they quit their day jobs.

Even before deciding:

“Yes, this is going to be my next career!”

They learned everything there is to know for the sheer joy of it. They talked to the best experts. They did courses and certifications.

They went down the rabbit hole.

And they had a blast doing it.

Then came the unintended, unexpected rewards.

The inevitable paths and opportunities that seem to magically appear; the stuff you can’t possibly know about when you’re just starting out.

Stuff like:

  • The satisfaction of learning everything there is to know about something meaningful to you.
  • The deep personal pride that comes from putting in countless hours and finally mastering that thing.
  • The surprising career paths that spring up, almost magically, opportunities you never knew existed or never considered right for you, and
  • The unexpected joy you never thought you could get from work.

However, that’s all stuff for later.

For now, you just have to start, from wherever you are.

Take whatever your passion is, whatever you’re excited about, whatever you’re hesitating on, whatever your inner voice tells you to explore and…

…go explore THAT thing.

Go down the rabbit hole.

You won’t be worse off.

Chances are, it’ll change your life.

What to do next:
Some tips from Precision Nutrition 1. ‘Fess up to yourself.

You probably already know what that ‘thing’ is; the one that lights you up and makes you tick.

It’s the thing you can’t stop reading about and researching, just for fun, even when it’s late at night and you know it’s really time to go to bed.

It’s the thing you can’t stop talking about… maybe the thing you’re driving your family members nuts about because you just can’t shut up about it.

It’s the thing you’re totally hooked on. You can’t get enough. You might even say you’re a little bit obsessed.

That thing? Embrace it.

You don’t necessarily have to plan a career change or do anything drastic. Just give yourself permission to ‘go down the rabbit hole’ of learning, exploration and experimentation.

2. Look for role models.

Who’s already doing what you would like to be doing? Who is inspiring or fascinating to you?

Watch for the people who are involved in the field or a subject that interests you.

Is there a way to learn from them, watch them, talk with them, or ask questions?

Don’t just expect them to give you the magic formula. But take advantage of every opportunity to observe and learn.

And don’t discount people who aren’t on Instagram or getting all the attention, either. Ask yourself: Who else is working in this industry? Who else can I learn from?

Cast a wide net. Aim to observe and learn all you can.

3. Put your hand up.

Look for opportunities to ask questions, get feedback, and learn all you can.

Attend a lecture and participate in the Q&A.

Write letters to your role models.


Do stuff: Write articles, join projects, conduct experiments. Do it for free, in your spare time. Do it in the name of learning, and for the joy of it.

Don’t worry too much about the payoff now. Just plant the seeds.

4. Continue your education.

Education doesn’t just have to come from traditional schooling (not that there’s anything wrong with that). These days, plenty of options are available, for just about any industry.

If you ask me, there’s never been a better time to learn anything. Courses, books, certifications, master classes… the world is your educational oyster.

The trick: choose educational opportunities from places that are proven, who you trust and respect. Take your time and do your research.

And then, after you’ve signed up, make sure to show up.

And go all in.

What if you could make a real difference in the lives of others—and never feel confused about nutrition again?

When it comes to better health and fitness, focusing on nutrition is the most important and effective step. But there’s a big problem: Most people don’t feel qualified to coach nutrition.

That’s where we come in. If you’d like to learn everything you can about nutrition—especially how to use it to help yourself and others—consider the Precision Nutrition Level 1 Certification.  The next group kicks off shortly.

What’s it all about?

The Precision Nutrition Level 1 Certification is the world’s most respected nutrition education program. It gives you the knowledge, systems, and tools you need to feel confident and qualified to coach nutrition with anyone.

Developed over 15 years, and proven with over 100,000 clients, the Precision Nutrition curriculum stands alone as the authority on the science of nutritionand the art of coaching.

Whether you’re already mid-career, or just starting out, the PN Level 1 Certification is your springboard to a deeper understanding of nutrition, the authority to coach it, and the ability to turn what you know into results—for yourself and your clients.

[Of course, if you’re already a student or graduate of the Level 1 Certification, check out our Level 2 Certification Master Class. It’s an exclusive, year-long mentorship designed for elite professionals looking to master the art of coaching and be part of the top 1% of health and fitness coaches in the world.]

Interested? Add your name to the presale list. You’ll save up to 44% and secure your spot 24 hours before everyone else.

We’re opening spots in the brand-new Precision Nutrition Level 1 Certification on Wednesday, October 2nd.

If you want to find out more, we’ve set up the following presale list, which gives you two advantages.

  • Lock in your one-time special discount—and save up to 44%. We like to reward people who are eager to boost their credentials and are ready to commit to getting the education they need. So we’re offering a discount of up to 44% off the general price when you sign up for the presale list. Remember: After October, you’ll never see this price again.
  • Sign up 24 hours before the general public and increase your chances of getting a spot. We only open the certification program twice per year. Due to high demand, spots in the program are limited and have historically sold out in hours. But when you sign up for the presale list, we’ll give you the opportunity to register a full 24 hours before anyone else.

If you’re ready for a deeper understanding of nutrition, the authority to coach it, and the ability to turn what you know into results… this is your chance to see what the world’s top professional nutrition coaching system can do for you.

The post Forget “career hacks”… Here’s the real key to career success that almost no one is talking about. appeared first on Precision Nutrition.

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Elite Baseball Development Podcast: Logan Morrison - Tue, 08/27/2019 - 19:32

We’re excited to welcome Philadelphia Phillies First Baseman Logan Morrison to this week’s podcast. This week’s episode is brought to you by Joovv Red Light Therapy. The research on the wide-ranging health benefits of red light therapy are compelling, and Joovv is at the forefront of delivering this technology to improve your health and perforance. Head to and enter coupon code CRESSEY to get a special gift with your purchase.

Show Outline

  • How baseball has changed since Logan was acquired as a draft and follow in 2005
  • What the biggest differences from level to level are in pro baseball
  • How the way evaluating players has transformed from merely getting on base to how much a hitter produces at the plate as organizations begin to value metrics like OPS+ over batting average
  • How Logan’s approach at the plate has evolved over the years
  • How has the increased use of data, analytics, and technology impacted Logan’s career
  • Why Logan has adopted a short memory to survive in the world of baseball and how he has learned to manage his desire to avoid complacency
  • How Logan has learned to read pitchers and recognize common tendencies that tip pitches to opposing hitters
  • How training to be durable in the off-season and simplifying his process at the plate allowed Logan to have a breakout 2017
  • Why Logan doesn’t take batting practice on field before games and instead chooses to lighten his workload in the cages to stay quick and fresh for the swings that matter
  • What lessons Logan learned from Hall of Famer Edgar Martinez and MVPs Giancarlo Stanton and Christian Yelich
  • How differentiating when to be analytical and when to compete have impacted Logan’s career as a hitter
  • What strategies coaches can implement to be more impactful for their players
  • What coaching cues and minute details Logan has focused on in his swing to become a more consistent hitter
  • How Logan’s father influenced his early development and love for the game of baseball and what lessons Logan would pass on to his son if he wanted to pursue a career in professional baseball
  • How social media has impacted Logan’s career

You can follow Logan on Instagram at @lomogram.

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Categories: Feeds

We All Need Fuel

I want to congratulate the Ladder team, which just had its best month ever. Watching our nutritional supplements help thousands of people makes me incredibly proud, and I want the team to know that LeBron and I couldn’t have done this alone.
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30 Days of Shoulders: Days 1-10 - Tue, 08/27/2019 - 12:42

I’m willing to bet that if you’re reading this if you have two shoulders.1

I’m also willing to bet that, given the two shoulder scenario, and given this is a blog dedicated towards strength & conditioning, you’re interested in:

  • Keeping your shoulders healthy.
  • Making your shoulders stronger.
  • Building shoulders that resemble boulders.
  • Argon. You know just because it’s a cool element.2

Copyright: restyler / 123RF Stock Photo

30 Days of Shoulders: Days 1-10

My latest article (which is a three-part series) just went live today, and it covers anything & everything as it relates to shoulders.

Check it out…HERE.

The post 30 Days of Shoulders: Days 1-10 appeared first on Tony Gentilcore.

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Listen and Learn: How I'm Developing My Staff - Tue, 08/27/2019 - 11:18
When you sit and yammer at people, like most of us do in our leadership developments, we aren’t developing leaders… We’re gaining followers. Be quiet and listen to others' ideas and examples and learn from them, just as they'll learn from you.
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More Conjugate for A Little Old Man - Tue, 08/27/2019 - 11:16
I recently turned 78, and that certainly hasn't stopped me from training. After the responses from last month's article, I decided to delve a bit deeper into my little old man conjugate training program. Enjoy!
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Helping Performers Fly Higher and Women Believe in Their Strength - Tue, 08/27/2019 - 08:50

There are plenty of instructors in the StrongFirst community who have diverse skill sets, but few are as versatile as Artemis Scantalides. 16 years ago, she made the decision to leave a job in I.T. to pursue a career in the fitness industry and hasn’t looked back since. Starting off as a personal trainer and […]

The post Helping Performers Fly Higher and Women Believe in Their Strength appeared first on StrongFirst.

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11 Ways to Manage Challenging Parents and Coaches – Brett Klika - Mon, 08/26/2019 - 15:52

When youth strength coaches discuss their barriers to success with young athletes, dealing with difficult parents and coaches is often high on the list.

In nearly 20 years as a youth strength and conditioning coach, I’ve had thousands of positive experiences with parents and coaches. It’s amazing to work as a team to create a 360-degree support system that functions to amplify a young athlete’s success in sports and life.

I’ve also had experiences that left me questioning if I wanted to remain in this profession. Overbearing parents, undermining coaches, and a dysfunctional interaction of all of the above can derail the unique opportunity we have to positively impact a child’s life.

Over the years, I’ve developed some powerful strategies to solidify and improve overall cohesiveness with parents and coaches. It’s important to realize that for the most part, everyone involved with the development of a young athlete is acting on what they believe to be the best for their child. Engaging in a constant battle of “who is right” always ends poorly.

A far more effective approach is to establish clear communication and expectations, so everyone involved understands the intended outcome and their values with the process are aligned. It’s also important to evaluate the role our own ego plays in making or breaking a relationship.

Below are 11 different strategies that have proven successful for me in my career to create a functional, positive relationship between myself, parents, and coaches.

1. During the initial consultation, focus the questions and conversation towards the athlete. At times, this may require respectfully and artfully “cutting off” the parent if they try to answer a question directed towards the athlete.

Even though this appears to be dismissing the parent, I have received repeated feedback that this made the parent feel at ease because they knew I was focused on the needs of their child. It also helps establish an initial dynamic without being confrontational.

2. When talking to parents and coaches, prioritize a “how can we help you?” tone as opposed to “this is what we do with athletes” tone. Ask questions like “What do you value in a coach?” “What do you see as the ultimate outcome of your child playing sports?” This not only provides valuable insight, it helps parents and coaches feel heard vs. spoken to. This makes them more confident that you have their best interests in mind.

3. Listen to the language that parents, coaches, and athletes use when describing what they need/expect from a program. This is the language they understand, even if the semantics are off a bit. Whenever possible, use their language when sharing the details of your program. Don’t’ start a battle of egos by coming off condescending. There will be plenty of time for semantics while training.

4. Develop an understanding of where their points of concern may be with your program before it begins. You may use play and games frequently. You may take time to build a progression. You may focus on general aspects of conditioning vs. sport specific training (as you should). While these represent the best approach to training youth, the parent or coach’s lack of understanding of the process may cause reason for question.

Address these concerns out of the gait. “We use a lot of games to teach athletic skills because…” “You’ll see them doing a lot of things you may have seen in physical education classes. We do this because…” Addressing these at the onset of a program both verbally, and in a concise take-home document helps establish an expectation. They may decide that your approach isn’t in line with theirs, right or wrong. This saves headaches down the road!

5. Communicate frequently with coaches and parents. Most parents and coaches start to become overbearing when they don’t know or understand what you are doing with their child. Learn to keep things brief and specific. If parents are not present at training, take video whenever possible. When a child is training in a group, make sure to check in with each parent at least once per week. A quick face- to- face or text puts their mind at ease and lets them know you are on top of things.

6. When a parent brings an athlete to train, get their coach’s email address and let them know you are working with the athlete. Ask questions and frequently update the coach. When the coach is in the loop and respects your work, parents (even difficult ones) are more likely to as well.

7. If working with a coach and his/her team, make sure you have a line of communication to parents. This could be an occasional email, newsletter, or other way to create value for your services. When you have parents support, coaches often follow suit. After all, most coaches are ultimately hired and fired by some form of parent intervention.

8. Consider the “optics” of your training environment to coaches and parents. Even if you’re doing what would be considered the “right” stuff, if athletes aren’t engaged, challenged, and moving it doesn’t look good. You may be practicing great squat technique but if the training room is silent, your athletes are dead-faced, and there’s no sweat on their brow, it’s a hard sell to everyone involved.

Learn how to do the right stuff in a way that leaves young athletes sweating, smiling, and smarter.

9. Don’t undermine a coach, even if you don’t agree with their approach. There is no positive outcome in this scenario. If differences arise, immediately have a discussion. If a solution cannot be reached, part ways ASAP. From experience, I can promise this will actually save time, money, and headaches. There are a lot of kids that need and want your help.

10. The same as above goes for a coach that undermines your work. Have a discussion and make a decision ASAP. Don’t go to war. Attempting to bash one another’s reputation can have nuclear implications to everyone’s ability to help kids. Take the high road and prove them wrong in your community with action and reputation. Trust me, they will sink their own ship.

11. Check your ego. I’ve witnessed so many strength coach/sport coach/parent relationships go south due to semantic arguments and over-dogmatic convention. The same bad experiences we’ve had with parents and sport coaches, they have probably had with professionals like us.

Resist automatically dismissing parent and coach concerns about your program. This is hard to do. It’s true that some relationships just aren’t going to work, but it’s important to evaluate your role in increasing or decreasing the likelihood of this.

While all of the above will dramatically decrease the obstacles you face with parents and coaches, “toxic” individuals still exist. Make sure you’re not contributing to the sludge, cut them loose, and move on. These decisions can be difficult because we truly care about their kids and we may depend on the income.

From experience however, I can attest that the time and energy drain from these relationships create a drastically negative net result on impact and income. A single parent or coach can derail your ability, energy, and interest in helping kids.

When we communicate, listen, and check our own ego more often, we have a greater opportunity to help more kids become active and athletic for life.

Brett Klika is a youth performance expert and a regular contributor to the IYCA who is passionate about coaching young athletes.  He is the creator of the SPIDERfit Kids youth training program and has run successful youth fitness programs all over the country.  Brett is an international speaker whose passion for youth fitness has helped thousands of people learn how to create exceptional training experiences for young athletes.

If you want to be better at coaching young athletes, the IYCA Youth Fitness Specialist certification is the industry gold-standard for youth fitness and sports performance.  Click on the image below to learn more about the YFS1 certification program.


The post 11 Ways to Manage Challenging Parents and Coaches – Brett Klika appeared first on IYCA - The International Youth Conditioning Association.

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12-Week Conjugate Deadlift Cycle for a Raw Lifter - Mon, 08/26/2019 - 08:30
Remember Cody, my client I talked about in my last article about benching? He absolutely destroyed at the Iron City Open and got a 10-pound deadlift PR total. The secret to his success? It's in this program... because it IS this program.
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Why You Should Never Box Squat Your Athletes - Mon, 08/26/2019 - 08:28
You know, we hear coaches complain about their athletes' excuses... but let me tell you, coaches can be just as bad. Case in point: The excuses coaches make for not making their kids do box squats.
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Strength and Conditioning Stuff You Should Read: 8/26/19 - Mon, 08/26/2019 - 06:11

I hope you had a good weekend. Here’s a list of recommended reading and listening for the week ahead:

EC on the Physical Preparation Podcast – This is my third time on Mike Robertson’s podcast, and it’s always a great time. Speaking of Mike, he’s launching an awesome training certification in the next few weeks. I’ve had a chance to preview it, and it’s outstanding stuff. You can learn more and get on the announcement list HERE.

EC on the Leave Your Mark Podcast -This was a fun podcast with Scott Livingston. We talked a lot more about my upbringing and how Cressey Sports Performance came to be than we did actual training stuff, so it’s a good listen for anyone interested in career development.

I Got My Hip Replaced at 39. Here’s Why That Might Get More Common – It’s not often that you get an insightful article on a sports medicine topic, but this one was really good. Spoiler alert: hip replacements are getting much more durable – and it should continue in the decades ahead.

Top Tweet of the Week

If teenage athletes want to take a big step forward in development, it would be wise to make an effort to “out-sleep” and “out-eat” their peers. These two things are powerful magnifiers of everything they do in skill development and strength and conditioning. @FlatgroundApp

— Eric Cressey (@EricCressey) August 21, 2019

Top Instagram Post of the Week

        View this post on Instagram                  

So many people hate on big leg kicks because they think it makes things too high maintenance. I wish more people would realize that any potential drawbacks are usually outweighed by the fact that this unloading of the front leg increases back hip load and can actually make rotational force production more efficient because ideal direction is preserved. I don’t think the baseball or S&C field as a whole appreciates that a lot of athletes barely get into their back hips during hitting, pitching, med ball work, etc. Sometimes, a bigger leg lift in front is the quickest way to find the back hip.

How To Time Warm-ups In Weightlifting Competition - Counting Attempts

Warming up for Olympic weightlifting competition requires carefully timing your lifts to prepare you to open on the platform when called. This video provides the basics of how to count attempts and time warm-ups in competition. Video by Will Breault
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The Ketogenic Diet: Does it live up to the hype? The pros, the cons, and the facts about this not-so-new diet craze. - Sun, 08/25/2019 - 23:01

If you believe the buzz, ketosis—whether via the almost-zero-carb ketogenic diet or via ketone supplements—can curb appetite, enhance performance, and cure nearly any health problem that ails you. Sound too good to be true? It probably is.


Wouldn’t it be awesome if butter and bacon were “health foods”?

Maybe with a side of guacamole and some shredded cheese on top?

“I’m doing this for my health,” you could purr virtuously, as you topped your delectably marbled, medium-rare steak with a fried egg.

Well, many advocates of the ketogenic diet argue exactly that: By eating a lot of fat and close to zero carbohydrates you too can enjoy enhanced health, quality of life, performance, brain function, and abs you can grate that cheese on.

So, in this article, we’ll explore:

  • What are ketones, and what is ketosis?
  • What, exactly, is a ketogenic diet?
  • What evidence and scientific research supports the ketogenic diet?
  • Do ketone supplements work?
  • Is the ketogenic diet or ketone supplementation right for me?
How to read this article

If you’re just curious about ketogenic diets:

  • Feel free to skim and learn whatever you like.

If you want to change your body and/or health:

  • You don’t need to know every detail. Just get the general idea.
  • Check out our advice at the end.

If you’re an athlete interested in performance:

  • Pay special attention to the section on athletic performance.
  • Check out our advice for athletes at the end.

If you’re a fitness pro, or interested in geeking out with nutritional science:

  • We’ve given you some “extra credit” material in sidebars throughout.
  • Check out our advice for fitness pros at the end.
It all started with the brain.

If you’ve called Client Care at Precision Nutrition, you might have spoken to Lindsay.

Aside from being an incredibly helpful and friendly voice on the other end of the phone, Lindsay is also a tireless advocate for a health condition that has shaped her life in many ways: epilepsy.

Epilepsy is an ancient brain phenomenon, known to medicine thousands of years ago. To manage it, our Neolithic ancestors drilled holes in one another’s skulls, perhaps trying to let the bad stuff out—a practice known as trepanation.

Around 400 BCE, the ancient Greek doctor Hippocrates observed a man who had seizures for five days. On the sixth day, he noted, as the patient “abstained from everything, both gruel and drink, there were no further seizures.”

About 1,400 years later, in 1000 CE, the famous Persian physician Avicenna—who coined the term “epilepsy”, from the ancient Greek verb epilambanein (to seize or attack, as the neurological condition caused seizures), speculated that “overfeeding” might be a risk factor for epilepsy.

By 1911, a pair of Parisian doctors were trying fasting as a treatment for children with epilepsy, and in the United States, physical culturist Bernarr McFadden was claiming that fasting for three days to three weeks could cure anything.

Despite not having the tools and insight of modern neuroscience, these and other people who explored fasting and dietary prescriptions for neurological disorders were on to something.

We now know that there may be a dietary connection
—not just between epilepsy and what we eat (or don’t), but also with many other brain disorders.

Unfortunately, fasting isn’t fun. We evolved with a pretty strong aversion to starvation, and our brains and GI tracts have lots of ways to make sure we eat enough.

Which raises the question:

Could we get the health benefits of fasting another way?

In other words:

Could there be “fasting without fasting”?

In 1921, two things happened.

One: Endocrinology researcher Rollin Woodyatt noted that the same chemical environment happened with both starvation and a diet that was very low in carbohydrates and very high in fat.

Two: Dr. Russell Wilder wondered:

Could a person get the health benefits of fasting without actually fasting?

He and other doctors at the Mayo Clinic experimented with what Wilder called the “ketogenic diet” during the early 1920s. Not only did children with epilepsy seem to improve overall with this type of diet, they seemed to think and behave better as well.

Proven by several notable medical authorities, a ketogenic diet as a treatment for childhood epilepsy found its way into medical textbooks by around 1940, and stayed there throughout the 20th century.

Nowadays, aging, contact sports, and modern warfare present us with new populations of people whose brains might benefit from a ketogenic diet:

  • people with neurodegenerative disorders (such as multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s, and Alzheimer’s); and
  • people with traumatic brain injury (TBI) from events such as explosions or concussions.
First the brain, then the body.

There was another group of people who became curious about ketogenic diets some time in the 1980s and 1990s: bodybuilders and physique athletes.

These folks weren’t too concerned about brain health or longevity. They wanted to be ripped.

The ketogenic diet seemed like a magic bullet: a way to eat butter, bacon and cream, and still get abs.

Today, what’s old is new again.

Physique- and performance-conscious people, as well as people looking to maximize lifespan and life quality, have rediscovered this old-school dietary paradigm and are wondering:

  • Could a ketogenic diet help me perform better?
  • Could a ketogenic diet help me live longer?
  • Could a ketogenic diet help me look great on the beach?

The answer?

It depends. (Don’t you hate that? But it’s true.)

To understand why, we’ll look at:

  • the science of ketosis;
  • what a ketogenic diet looks like in “real life”;
  • who it might work for (and might not work for); and
  • what this means for you.

Let’s start by clarifying just what a ketogenic diet is.

What does a ketogenic diet look like?

It might be hard to translate “low carb, high fat” into everyday foods.

To give you a better idea of the ketogenic diet in real life, here’s a comparison:

Protein Carb Fat PN Mixed Meal  ~30% ~40% ~30% Paleo Meal ~40% ~20% ~40% Low-Carb Meal ~40% ~10% ~50% Ketogenic Meal ~20% ~5% ~75%

And here’s what that might look like translated into meals.


Notice a few things.


For the first three meals, protein is more or less the same, with a little variation.

Ketogenic diets, on the other hand, include less protein—usually closer to 10 or 20 percent of total daily intake.

Extremely low in carbohydrates

The Precision Nutrition plate suggests high-fiber, slow-digesting carbohydrates, such as whole grains, beans and legumes, fruits, and starchy vegetables.

The Paleo plate may contain slightly fewer carbohydrates (early human diets often had plenty of them), but eliminates the grains and beans / legumes.

The “low carb” plate will have fewer carbohydrates than the first two, but still have a small amount, likely from vegetables.

The ketogenic meal shoots for near-zero carbs. Most estimates suggest around 10-15 grams of carbs a day. To give you an idea of what this looks like, that’s about one fist-sized portion of cooked carrots, or about 10-15 grapes. For the whole day.

Very high in fat

The Precision Nutrition plate suggests about 1-2 thumb-sized portions of fat-dense foods (like nuts, cheese, avocado, olive oil, etc.) per meal, depending on body size, activity level, and goals.

The Paleo and low-carb plates may be roughly similar, with a little variation.

We might call all three of these “moderate fat”. Indeed, some indigenous diets (aka variations on the “Paleo” concept) are often quite low in fat, especially saturated fat.

The ketogenic meal, on the other hand, is high fat—even up to 90 percent of total energy intake. That means if you’re eating a 500-calorie spinach and mushroom salad, you get about 2 thumb-sized pieces of chicken breast on top, and then pour about 3-4 glugs of olive oil on top… Yum yum!

Highly restrictive

A ketogenic diet is the most restrictive and limited of all four of these styles of eating. Here’s what you can eat on a ketogenic diet:

A small amount of protein, such as:

  • meat
  • poultry
  • fish
  • seafood
  • eggs

A large amount of high-fat foods, such as:

  • avocado
  • coconut and coconut milk or oil
  • olive oil and any other oil
  • nuts and nut butters
  • bacon
  • egg yolks
  • butter
  • cheese

A very small amount of very-low-carbohydrate vegetables, such as:

  • leafy greens
  • brassicas: broccoli, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, cabbage
  • asparagus
  • cucumber
  • celery
  • tomatoes
  • peppers
  • mushrooms
  • zucchini

Here’s what you can’t eat on a ketogenic diet:

  • Most dairy (except high-fat items like butter and certain cheeses)
  • Fruit
  • Grains
  • Beans and legumes
  • Starchy vegetables (such as sweet potatoes)
  • Slightly-sweet vegetables such as winter squash, beets, or carrots
  • Most processed foods (with the notable exception of pork rinds)

So, let’s recap:

Ketogenic menus:

  • Vary in the proportion of protein but are generally low.
  • Stay as close to no-carb as possible.
  • Are very high in fat.
  • Are very limited in food choices.

So why go to all this effort?

Well, for particular groups of people, ketosis may indeed be helpful.

(For other people, of course, it may not be helpful… and it may be actively harmful. We’ll talk more about that in a moment.)

To understand why this is true, let’s look at how ketosis actually works.

What is ketosis? The role of ketones

Ketones are a group of organic compounds with a specific structure.

The term “ketone” was actually coined around 1850 by German chemist Leopold Gmelin, along with the term “ester”. (See? Not as new as you’d think!)

We can use two types of ketones as energy sources, acetoacetate and D-β-hydroxybutyrate. (The β sign means “beta”.)

Our body can make ketones through a complex biochemical pathway.

The pathway to ketosis

Put very simply, when the conditions are right (for instance, during starvation or fasting, or when our carb intake is very low):

  • Our body releases fatty acids from our stored body fat.
  • These fatty acids enter other cells.
  • Fatty acids are combined with co-enzyme A to form acetyl-CoA chains.
  • These chains move into the mitochondria (our cells’ energy factories).
  • The chains are broken down into acetyl-CoA units by a sequence of reactions known as β-oxidation.
  • Chemical magic happens.
  • Acetyl-CoA forms your friends the ketones: acetoacetate and β-hydroxybutyrate, along with acetone (the same smelly stuff in your nail polish remover).
  • Ketones are released by the liver into the blood.
  • Almost any cell that needs energy can grab it from these circulating ketones. Again, our brain will be the greediest for these nummy little molecules.
Let’s take an even deeper look

The shape and orientation of molecules is important.

Stereoisomers are molecules with the same chemical makeup, but different shapes and configurations. You can imagine your right hand as a “stereoisomer” of your left: they both share the same components, just arranged differently.

Shape and orientation matter to molecules and their actions, just like having right-handed and left-handed gloves or shoes matters.

The ketone D-β-hydroxybutyrate is not the same as its stereoisomer L-β-hydroxybutyrate.

This difference in molecular configuration matters for several parts of the conversion process.

For instance, when D-β-hydroxybutyrate is converted back to acetyl-CoA, its intermediate form D-β-hydroxybutyrate-CoA isn’t the same thing as L-β-hydroxybutyrate-CoA (an intermediate of β- oxidation).

Each stereoisomer uses different enzymes for conversion, much like each lock has its own unique key.

This difference also matters for ketone supplementation (see below).

You want to supplement the right stereoisomer, rather than a random pile of ketone types. Usually in test tube chemistry, you get a mix of stereoisomers (often around half one type, and half another type), unlike our body, which only uses and makes one version. 

Ketosis happens when blood ketones are higher than normal either through dietary changes (which lead to very low blood glucose) or through supplementation (independent of blood glucose concentrations).

Some people like to think of ketone bodies as the fourth energy source for humans (in addition to carbohydrates, fats and proteins).

That’s technically true, but the alcohol in booze (aka ethanol) can also be used for energy. Just because we can metabolize something doesn’t always mean we should.

Let’s take an even deeper look

Ketosis, which just means having more ketone bodies than normal, should not be confused with ketoacidosis, which is a potentially dangerous metabolic situation of uncontrolled ketosis.

Normally, our body is very good at self-regulating.

If it senses acid levels rising (as happens in ketosis), it responds by buffering with more alkaline molecules (such as bicarbonate), changing blood levels of CO2, absorbing hydrogen ions, or telling the kidneys to excrete more dihydrogen phosphate and ammonium ions.

However, if for some reason our body can’t compensate, and blood pH drops below about 7.35 (in other words, becoming more acidic), we’re in trouble.

This usually happens in diabetics and alcoholics, since their normal metabolic mechanisms may not work properly.

For the average healthy person, dietary ketosis or even brief fasting is generally safe.  How do we get into ketosis? Method 1: Ketogenesis

We can make our own ketone bodies naturally, through the process of ketogenesis.

Our ancestors kicked off ketogenesis the good old fashioned way: by starving. About 72 hours into starvation, ketogenesis is happening and you’re in ketosis. Congratulations!

Ketosis is essentially an effect of fasting. This means that many of the health effects of fasting may be due to ketosis itself, rather than something like energy restriction.

Let’s take an even deeper look

Interestingly, how quickly ketosis happens varies by age and species.

Other mammals don’t seem to go into ketosis nearly as quickly as humans (your friendly neighborhood hibernating bear or squirrel who doesn’t eat for weeks to months at a time? No ketosis.)

Babies, on the other hand, go into ketosis within a few hours of not eating.

This may have to do with our energy-hungry human brains. About 20 percent of our overall energy intake is devoted to feeding our brains. Although bears and squirrels are clever enough to get into the garbage, they don’t have brains as large as we do.

It seems that ketogenesis is a human backup system that provides enough energy (via ketone bodies) to the ol’ noggin in times of starvation.

And it may be this particular evolutionary adaptation—which perhaps began as a way to keep the thinking factory upstairs working when food was scarce—that also enables the brain-benefiting effects of the ketogenic diet. 

Stored glucose (our sugar-based fuel) is actually rather heavy. We don’t carry around much of it. Our body prefers to store most of our excess energy as body fat.

When we eat normally, our brain gets enough energy from glucose that can easily pass the blood-brain barrier.

When we stop eating, we run out of stored glucose (as glycogen) within 2-3 days (faster if we’re active), and have to find some other fuel source.

By the way, the relative heaviness of stored glycogen is why many people report fast weight loss on a ketogenic or low-carb diet: their body has dumped a little extra weight in the form of glycogen and water (which tags along with glycogen in a 3 parts water to 1 part glycogen ratio). Unfortunately, this water and glycogen comes right back once we start eating normally again.

Method 2: A ketogenic diet

Most people frown on starving children with epilepsy, so a ketogenic diet is the next best thing.

By cutting off the body’s carbohydrate (aka glucose) supply, but providing energy and nutrients in the form of fat (plus a little protein), we can get the same effects as straight-up starvation: ketosis.

As with starvation, it usually takes some time to get into ketosis once we stop eating carbs.

Let’s take an even deeper look

Many people like to measure their ketosis with Ketostix, which test for ketones in the urine. This is not always a reliable indicator, since all it tells you is whether you’re excreting excess ketones, not whether you’re actually in ketosis per se.

In addition, Ketostix only measure the presence of excreted acetoacetate, not the presence of D-β-hydroxybutyrate.

Over time, our body’s excretion of ketones can change, even if we’re still in ketosis. Therefore, you may see different readings on the Ketostix, regardless of what is actually happening in your body.  Method 3: Supplement with ketones

If ketones are what we want, why not just take them instead of making our own by fasting or cutting out carbohydrates?

Great idea, and totally new… except it isn’t.

As early as 1953, there were studies looking into whether we could “artificially” produce ketosis by supplementation.

Today, we know that by supplementing with ketone bodies (usually D-β-hydroxybutyrate or certain esters) you can raise the level of ketone bodies in the blood without being in ketogenesis.

This has a lot of cool possibilities. If ketone supplementation can give us the health benefits of ketosis without us having to fast / starve or follow a very restrictive diet, that could be a win-win.

Unfortunately, we still don’t have conclusive human studies on this that would give us clear direction. Check back in 10 years.

Is ketone supplementation effective?

The buzz is that ketone supplements can make you thin and cure whatever ails you. But what you read about in the media or on the interwebs isn’t always what scientists actually found in the lab.

If you didn’t know better, you’d think ketone supplementation just started. Actually, research on this topic goes back to the 1950s. All of it has been conducted using rats. Here are the findings.

Weight loss

D-β-hydroxybutyrate supplementation made some types of rats eat less and lose weight, but not other types of rats.

Some evidence kinda sorta indicates that D-β-hydroxybutyrate supplementation might activate brown fat (a metabolically active fat that is, in part, responsible for thermogenic adaptations) via the sympathetic nervous system, but there was no follow-up.

Blood glucose regulation

Another showed that ketone supplementation with either 1, 3-butanediol acetoacetate diester or sodium/potassium β-hydroxybutyrate decreased blood glucose with no changes in cholesterol or blood triglycerides (the not-so-great side effects of the ketogenic diet).

Traumatic brain injury

In one study, infusing D-β-hydroxybutryate into adult rats after traumatic brain injuries showed improved energy (ATP) levels.

In another study, D-β-hydroxybutryate didn’t improve things and actually caused damage to the blood-brain barrier, even in healthy rats.


New evidence suggests that it may not be D-β-hydroxybutryate or acetoacetate preventing seizures; rather, it might be the relatively short-chain fatty acids (nanoeic and decanoic acids) in the diets when on a ketogenic diet crossing the blood-brain barrier, inhibiting seizures.

But in another study that exposed rats to high-pressure oxygen containing ketone esters such as R,S-1,3-butanediol acetoacetate diester, the rodents saw increased blood β-hydroxybutryate and decreased seizures.


A recent study found that ketone supplementation extended survival in mice with metastatic cancer. But while it’s true that most cancers have a highly anaerobic metabolism, this in not universal. If proven to be effective, it’s likely that ketone supplementation would be an additional treatment rather than a stand alone treatment for cancer, because of its robust nature.

For now, almost no studies on ketone supplementation have used human clinical trials. So if anyone tells you that ketone supplementation is a miracle cure, ask if you can get some for your pet rat… if it’s the right kind of rat. 
Will ketosis help me?

Ketogenesis and ketosis are easy to study.

All you have to do is starve people, or feed them a high-fat/low-carb diet, and wait. Then you see if it changes whatever you’re interested in fixing.

Since we’ve known about fasting and ketosis for quite a long time, and it’s relatively easy to research, there are probably good reasons why it’s not yet considered a miracle cure.

And it’s not because Big Pharma or Carbohydrate Corporation or The Cancer Conspiracy have vested interests. (Trust me, we scientists can barely keep the grad students from contaminating the super-purified water by leaving the lid off the jug, never mind organize an evil cabal of ketosis deniers.)

To be fair, the introduction of anti-epileptic drugs in the late 1930s onward did lead to less interest in dietary ketosis as a treatment for epileptic children.

But we don’t yet use ketosis (or ketone supplementation) to fix everything from muffin tops to hangnails because:

  • For many populations, ketosis has little or no effect.
  • It may only work for particular types of people, with particular needs and health conditions.
  • It may take too long to see a measurable effect.
  • For many people, a ketogenic diet is too hard to consistently follow.

That being said, here are some interesting and promising new avenues for ketosis… as well as some “don’t bother” examples.

Probable benefit: Metabolic diseases

We know that fasting is often an effective short-term treatment for metabolic dysfunction such as poor glucose control / early Type 2 diabetes, chronic inflammation, or hypertension.

We don’t know for sure yet whether this is because of ketosis or some other mechanism (such as programmed cell death, aka apoptosis).

However, research suggests that in some cases, such as type 2 diabetes, ketosis may be useful as a short-term treatment or a “boost” that helps return metabolic processes back to a more normal and well-regulated state.

In these specific situations, a ketogenic diet or a structured intermittent fasting program done under close medical supervision for a specific objective, may be a useful as part of a multi-pronged treatment program that probably should include other therapeutic tools such as medication or other well-established health procedures.

Notice all our italics here. What we mean is:

  • Don’t use ketosis or fasting alone to try to cure stuff.
  • Don’t use ketosis or fasting just to randomly “get healthy”.
  • “Medical supervision” does not mean Dr. Google.

Verdict: Could help in some cases, but should be done with a clear purpose and carefully monitored. Not a long-term “cure-all” for most people.

Let’s take an even deeper look

Why does ketosis seem to help some types of metabolic dysfunction?

Ketones may help, in part, because they decrease oxidative stress, boost antioxidants and scavenge free radicals.

Oxidation is a natural part of cellular metabolism, but too much oxidation, too fast, without the balance of antioxidants, contributes to many metabolic and other diseases.

Many metabolic disorders are related to this process of oxidation, in which our cells essentially “rust” from the inside. If we can slow and regulate oxidation, it may improve our health and longevity.  Probable benefit: Neurodegeneration and brain injuries

We know ketosis for epilepsy is a win—can ketosis help other types of brain illnesses and injuries?

Recent research suggests that many brain disorders (such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s, among other neurodegenerative diseases) are related to other metabolic disorders such as diabetes, obesity, non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD).

These metabolic and neourodegenerative diseases show common features, such as oxidative stress, mitochondrial dysfunction, and inflammation. In fact, Alzheimer’s is now often described as “diabetes of the brain”, or “Type 3 diabetes”.

The presence of ketones also seems to improve outcomes from traumatic brain injury (TBI). However, right now, most of these studies have been done on rats.

Still, based on what we’ve seen with epilepsy and rat studies, chances are good that ketones may be a low-risk treatment—and perhaps even a preventive strategy—to improve brain health. See above about getting medical supervision from someone other than Dr. Google.

Verdict: Probably can’t hurt, might help people with neurodegeneration and/or mild to moderate brain injury.

Unclear benefit: Longevity

We know that caloric restriction (CR) improves longevity in most organisms studied. We know that intermittent fasting seems to have some of the same benefits, sometimes.

But right now, we don’t know if ketosis works the same way.

The real question here is: Who’s willing to find out?

Would you stick to a ketogenic diet in the name of advancing knowledge, achieving scientific glory as a “ketonaut”? Most of us wouldn’t.

Plus, without a control group (say, your identical twin who lives exactly the same lifestyle as you, in the exact same environment, with only your diets being different), it’s hard to know for sure whether your 100th birthday was due to ketosis or something else.

For now, any longevity benefits would be mostly speculative. And your 100th birthday cake would have to be a block of butter.

Verdict: You could try this one and get your next of kin to report back… but most people wouldn’t want to.

Interesting, but probably no advantage for most people: Athletic performance

Athletes need fuel to perform.

Could we possibly enable people to tap into their stored body fat more effectively, and require less re-fueling from stuff like sugary energy gels?

Ketosis lets you avoid glycogen depletion (aka bonking, hitting the wall), because you aren’t using glycogen as your energy source, so you don’t need to take in carbs as you compete. Instead you’re using fat and ketone bodies. You increase fat oxidation, spare glycogen, produce less lactate and use less oxygen at submaximal rates.

All this sounds great, but the exercise physiologists’ consensus is that while all these adaptations are true, the problem is that with fat and ketone bodies as fuel, you’re not going to go as fast as you can when using with glucose and carbohydrates.

The bottom line for athletes is performance, and so far there is only one very new study showing a small improvement in cyclist’s performance with ketone supplementation combined with carbohydrate supplementation (compared to just carbohydrate supplementation alone).

It seems that combining ketones with carbs, rather than exclusively using one or the other, might offer some benefit.

Cutting Edge Research: Carb + Ketone Supplementation Improve Aerobic Performance

A recent study compared the effect of drinking just carbs to drinking carbs + ketones in male and female elite cyclists.

After not eating overnight (about 16 hours) the cyclists came to the lab and drank either a carb drink or a carb + ketone (c + k) drink.

Carb drink:

  • 40% dextrose
  • 40% fructose
  • 20% maltodextrin

C + k drink

  • 60% dextrose
  • 40% ketone ((R)-hydroxybutyl (R) -3-hydroxybutyrate ketone ester).

Total amount of substrate in both drinks were 573 mg/kg body weight.

The cyclists drank half of their drink, rode for 1 hour at 75% of their max power output. Then they drank the other half of their drink and biked as far as they could in 30 minutes.

After a week, the cyclist repeated the experiment with the opposite drink.


When drinking the c + k drink the cyclists biked, on average, 2 percent (400 meters) farther longer over the 30 minutes.

There were some metabolic differences to note in with the c+k drink:

  • less lactate
  • more fatty acids in the blood
  • more D- β- hydroxybutyrate

Bottom line: Supplementing with a combination of carbohydrates and ketones may improve performance in aerobic competitions. 

Verdict: Some intriguing possibilities, particularly for aerobic performance, but to date there very little evidence to improve overall athletic performance.

No real advantage: Losing fat

Oh, insulin, you naughty monkey! You have been getting yourself in so much trouble lately!

Low-carb advocates in the late 1990s and early 2000s thought maybe they had stumbled on the key to fighting flab: insulin. Insulin is mainly a storage hormone: Its job is basically to help nutrients get into cells.

The low-carb / insulin hypothesis, dramatically oversimplified, went like this:

  • Insulin makes stuff go into cells.
  • Stuff that goes into fat cells makes us fat.
  • If we don’t help stuff go into cells, then we won’t get fat. We might even lose fat.
  • Carbs (in their digested form of glucose) stimulate insulin release.
  • Therefore eating fewer carbs = less body fat.

Now, this theory did have some merits.

For one thing, it got some of us unhooked from processed sugary and starchy treats, and thinking more about fiber content and healthy fats.

Unfortunately, insulin is not the only player. There’s never only one player in the team sport and complex system that is your body.

Nor does insulin act alone. Energy storage is governed largely by our brain, not a single hormone.

The other upside to the low-carb approach was that people often ate more protein and more fat. When we eat protein and fat, we release satiety hormones, particularly CCK, which is one of the main hormones that tells us we’re full.

More protein and fat means we’re often less hungry. Which means we eat less. Which means we lose fat. It’s the “eating less” part (not the insulin part) that actually matters.

On top of this, if you’ll recall, carbohydrates are relatively heavy to store. Lower the carb intake, and our body will eventually release some water and glycogen.

Result: Weight loss. Magic!

Yet being in ketosis doesn’t seem to have any special advantage for losing body fat (rather than just weight), especially if we consider the lifestyle and behavior aspect to this.

You may find it easy to eat less when all you can eat is protein and fat. But after a while, you may grow tired of bringing your own whole salmon to parties, and wonder what the other 95% of the grocery store is up to. You may start to have fantasies about a threesome: you, Oreos, and chocolate sauce. Not only that, you may be getting some serious scurvy and other nutrient deficiencies.

For women in particular, lowering carbohydrate intake seems to have negative effects.

Women’s bodies go on high alert faster when they sense less energy and fewer nutrients coming in. Many women have found that the low-carb diet that worked great for their husband not only didn’t work for them, but it knocked out their menstrual cycle on the way out the door.

Verdict: We don’t recommend the ketogenic diet for sustainable fat loss.

Let’s take an even deeper look

As part of the carb-insulin hypothesis, people thought that maybe metabolism would also increase during ketosis.

A recent study looked at whether or not there was a significant increase in metabolic rate when going from a high-carbohydrate diet (48% carbohydrate) to a ketogenic diet (6% carbohydrate), with protein being the same (around 16-17%).

With this dietary change, insulin went down while fatty acids and ketone bodies went up. Basal metabolism (energy expenditure) went up by about 100 kcal per day.

Seems obviously good—but not so fast.

Figuring out what this actually means is complicated.

Researchers had to correct metabolism based on body weight, which as you’ve read, tends to drop when water is lost on low-carb diets.

The authors concluded that while there was a small increase in metabolism initially, that disappeared over the four weeks while insulin levels were still low.

So their study didn’t support the insulin-carb hypothesis.

Is protein actually the key factor?

The authors of the study think that differences found in other studies comparing high and low-carb diets are because of differences in protein intake rather than carbohydrate intake in those studies.

Protein promotes satiety and takes the most energy to digest and absorb, so differences in weight loss may be net calories absorbed, rather than decreases in insulin or increases in metabolism.

Definitely no advantage: Gaining lean mass

As you may have read above, insulin is mainly a storage hormone. It’s also considered an anabolic hormone. As in building things. As in getting swole.

For the most part, we need insulin—along with other hormones, such as growth hormone and testosterone—to create an anabolic, muscle-building environment. Trying to build muscle while in ketosis is like stepping on the gas and the brake at the same time.

However, as with athletic performance, we may discover that there is some benefit to supplementary ketones while building muscle. We don’t know yet.

Verdict: Build muscle with a more appropriately anabolic diet that includes carbohydrates (particularly around training), and supplement with ketones if you want to experiment.

What this means for you If you’re a “regular person” who just wants to be healthy and fit:
  • Enjoy reading about ketosis if you like. Try it, if you’re curious. But you can be perfectly fit, lean, and healthy without it.
  • Don’t believe everything you read on the internet. (Except this article, of course.) Remember that the plural of “personal anecdote” is not “scientific data”. Be a critical reader and consumer.
If you’re an athlete:
  • Know your body and the demands of your sport. Unless you’re an ultra-endurance athlete, becoming fat-adapted or adopting a ketogenic diet probably won’t improve your performance.
  • Don’t add stress. Training is a good stress, but still a stressor. Fasting and restricting energy (i.e. calories) or a particular nutrient are also stressors. Stress adds up. Don’t add nutritional stress from a stringent diet to the mix, particularly if you’re female.
  • Make meeting your nutritional needs your priority. If you’re active, you need more fuel and nutrients than the average person. Rather than taking stuff out of your diet, look for where you can add good stuff in: protein, vitamins, minerals, fiber, fatty acids, phytonutrients, water, etc. from whole, minimally processed foods.
If you’re a fitness professional / nutrition coach:
  • Understand the basics of ketosis, ketogenic diets, and ketone supplementation. Know when, how, and for whom ketosis might be appropriate. If in doubt, learn more from trusted medical and research sources—which, again, does not include random people of the Internets.
  • Help people understand as much as they need to understand in order to make an informed choice, with your guidance. Your clients will likely have questions. Prepare your answers in advance.
  • Refer out: If you think a client might benefit from a ketogenic diet or ketone supplementation for a health condition, work with their doctor to support things like meal planning and keeping a food journal that looks for correlations between diet and how they feel.
If you have a specific health problem that a ketogenic diet (or ketone supplementation) may help with:
  • Consult your doctor first. Discuss any research findings or potential dietary modifications with someone who actually went to med school. If you’re on any medications, make sure nothing you do will interfere with their effect.
  • Carefully monitor and track any dietary modifications. First, you want to stay safe; second, you want to know if what you’re doing is having any effect. So decide how you’ll know if your dietary changes are “working”, and track those indicators closely.
More to this than you realized?

After reading this article, you might feel like nutrition is more complex than you thought. We get it. In the age of 24/7 health news and fitness-celeb podcasts, it’s tough to get the real story.

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The post The Ketogenic Diet: Does it live up to the hype? The pros, the cons, and the facts about this not-so-new diet craze. appeared first on Precision Nutrition.

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