In the twenty-first century people seem to be moving faster then ever. I guess that makes sense. I mean aren’t we all supposed to be driving flying cars, commuting by jet-pack and taking vacations to the moon by now? The point is, in this fast paced society where people get upset when it takes thirty seconds for something to download on their computer; nothing seems to move fast enough. Add to this, jobs with crazy hours or frequent commutes across town or across the country and you begin to see why so few people find it easy to eat at home regularly.

With the above in mind you can see why people end up opting for fast food so often. Add to this that most of these fast food options are loaded with fat, salt, and sugar (all the things that taste so darn good) and you can see why this stuff can seem hard so to pass up. Below I am going to outline a few basic ideas that will help you make better choices when eating out. Then I’ll make specific recommendations for when you find your self standing at that fast food counter or even worse the dreaded drive through window. I’ve touched on some of these ideas before in some of my other articles at so if this sounds familiar, good you’ve been listening.

First if you are at a restaurant for a special occasion and this is not just a meal on the go, then forget the rules and enjoy yourself. We all need to cut loose once in a while. If we don’t we may go crazy later. The place to start cleaning things up with restaurant dining or eating in one of those international food courts is to limit your Carbohydrate consumption. Contrary to some peoples feelings, carbohydrates are not evil or bad in and of themselves. They are however easy to over consume so avoid having too much bread or pasta and remember just because it came with your meal, does not mean you have to eat it. If you have the option, choose extra salad or veggies instead of bread or pasta and have the dressing, (preferably oil and vinegar) on the side. Be sure to have a nice portion of protein (beef, chicken or seafood) as the main course.

Another strategy is to plan your meal before you even go to the restaurant. For planning purposes, I like this site  When you are eating out, you can go to the restaurants tab and find many national chain restaurant’s menu items, and their corresponding calorie values.  If you know you are going somewhere in particular, you can check out the menu and make a decent selection ahead of time.  Strategies like this this will be far more likely to make your efforts successful.

Now let’s cut to the chase and see what we can do at the real fast food joints. These days just about every fast food joint has a salad option. Skip the ones with fried meat in them. While you are at it avoid all fried food options completely. And if you find yourself eating a salad that comes in a giant, edible, bowl. Do not eat the bowl. Besides the fruit and salad options that you may be able to find here is a list of what to look for at the major fast food chains.

Taco Bell

  • Light Chicken taco
  • Light taco salad (skip the chips and or bowl)
  • Light chicken burrito supreme
  • Light bean burrito


  • Plain hamburger*
  • Chili
  • Grilled chicken sandwich
  • Grilled chicken salad


  • Egg McMuffin
  • Grilled Chicken sandwich
  • Plain Hamburger*

Jack in the Box

  • Chicken Fajita Pita
  • Plain Hamburger*

Burger King

  • BK Broiled chicken sandwich (no      mayo)
  • Plain hamburger*

Boston Market

  • TurkeyBreastSandwich
  • Turkeybreast, small potato and      steamed veggies

Deli Chains (Togo’s, Subway, Quiznos, etc.)

  • Turkeysandwich with extra meat,      extra veggies, no mayo, no cheese, on wheat or rye bread (have the oil      & vinegar and mustard)

* Ordering a couple of plain hamburgers and throwing away one of the buns is an easy way to create a better burger in fast food land. I actually do this with Egg McMuffins as well.






An often over looked area of the body by weightlifters is their hands.  Now Milo readers know how important the grip and the hands are, but many weightlifters take their grip and hands for granted.  I guess this is due to using the hook grip (wrapping the thumb around the bar, then grabbing the thumb with the fingers), using straps, or just not lifting enough weight where grip is an issue, thinking the grip will just get stronger as the lifter gets stronger.  To some extent this is true.   I’ve seen many lifts missed due to hand problems, from losing the grip to tearing a callus.  Two situations I think can be avoided.

I will deal with the care of the hands first.  The first thing beginners and those coming back from a long layoff notice is how tender and soft their hands have become.  So, just as the body has to get back in shape, so do the hands.  So, the light weights your using will toughen up the hands as your body gets stronger, but your hands will hurt some and be a little sore just as your body will be.  The first thing you’ll notice is the build up of the calluses on your hands and this is good, but you have to take care of them so they don’t get too big because then they will tear and that’s painful, bloody, and a big distraction to your training.  After you’ve torn a callus you have to tape the hand in order to continue lifting and most people don’t know how to best tape an injured hand or have a trainer around to do it for them.  After you’ve taped the hand the bar just doesn’t feel right for the next few lifts.  So, we want to prevent callus tears.  First, have some nail clippers in your training bag and a file or emery board.  You want to file your calluses down before they get too big.  However, if you do tear, then you need the clippers to trim away the torn skin.  Another thing that contributes to tears is chalk (magnesium carbonate), it dries out the hands too much for some people.  So, I recommend not using chalk for your light weights and when you do use it use it sparingly, just enough to get the job done.  And after each workout use a medicated hand lotion and rub it into your hands thoroughly.

The next part of hand care is strengthening them.  Yes, they will get stronger from just lifting the weights.  A gym owner once told me you don’t need to work your forearms because every time you grab a weight you are working your grip and forearms.   Well, I don’t think that is enough for anyone who wants to be real strong and lift real big weights.  Now you Milo crushers have super grips because you work at it, so weightlifters must do the same.  I recommend wrist curls, pinch gripping plates for time, hanging from a thick bar for time, and working out on grippers, ones that you can only do 5 reps initially and building up to sets of 10 reps.

Two great demonstrations of grip strength that I witnessed were, 77 year old Karl Norberg pinch gripping a York 45 pound (20.5 k) plate by the hub with three 10 pound (4.5 k) plates placed between the rim and hub and lifting the 75 pounds (34 k) from the floor and placing it on a bench press bench.  The other was Bruce Wilhelm pinch gripping a pair of Eleiko 25 kilo plates by the rim and curling and pressing them overhead.

So, take care of and strengthen your hands, don’t neglect them.

TAKU’s NOTE: Thanks to my good friend Jim Schmitz for his excllent areticle this week.

Secrets to Performance Enhancement (Part Two)

In our first installment we talked about the importance of rest and recovery and how just getting a little more sleep can go a long way to improving our success in achieving both our athletic and aesthetic goals. This month we continue our series and bring to you information on one of natures key nutrients, WATER.

For athletes and regular exercisers maintaining a constant state of hydration is essential to performance as dehydration leads to muscle fatigue and loss of coordination. Being dehydrated by as little as 2% can cause endurance to drop by up to 7% and can decrease power output as well as cognitive ability. According to a recent study dehydrated exercisers worked out almost 25% less than those who drank water before and during workouts.

Health care professionals such as Nancy Clark, MS, RD recommend that physically active people should drink more than the standard eight glasses per day. Water is the most important nutrient in the body and makes up 70 percent of muscles and 75 percent of the brain. Oxygen is the only thing the body craves more than water.

Water plays an essential role in eliminating toxins and waste products, regulates body temperature, and helps to maintain proper muscle tone–all extremely important functions to Athletes / fitness enthusiasts. For proper hydration, Clark suggests about 3-4 quarts of water per day, which will assist you in reaching your Athletic / fitness goals.


There isn’t a “recommended daily allowance (RDA)” for daily water intake. Part of the reason is the difference in physical activity, age, present physical condition, living in a hot or dry climate, and diuretic medications all contribute to fluid loss and a greater need for water. In addition, a diet rich in fiber, high in protein, or taking a supplement such as creatine** requires an increase in water consumption. It’s estimated that healthy adults require at least eight to ten cups of water each day. The following formula will provide you with a more precise amount of water necessary for your daily needs.

The formula is .5 times your weight in pounds to get the number of ounces divided by 8 to get the number of glasses. Example: 115 lbs x .5 = 57.5 ounces. 57.5 divided by 8 equals 7.2 glasses. Often, we replace fluids by consuming beverages such as milk, fruit juices, coffee, tea, and sodas. Our bodies will extract the water from these sources through digestion and metabolism.


Dehydration can be defined as the loss of water and essential body salts (electrolytes) that are needed for normal body functioning. Water makes up about 60 percent of a man’s weight and 50 percent of a woman’s weight. This proportion has to be kept within a narrow limit to attain a proper balance in the cells and body tissue. In a dehydrated state the body is unable to cool itself, leading to heat exhaustion and possibly heat stroke. Without an adequate supply of water the body will lack energy and muscles may develop cramps.

Usually, by the time action is taken, dehydration has already set in and damage may have occurred. Physical signs can range from fatigue, loss of appetite, heat intolerance, and low quantities of dark yellow urine. Severe dehydration can cause muscle spasms, high body-core temperatures, and complete exhaustion. According to Dr. James A. Peterson the easiest way to determine if you are hydrated is to check the color and quantity of your urine. “If your urine is very dark in color and limited in quantity, you need to consume more fluids.” The best way to counter the possibility for dehydration is to frequently drink plenty of water. It is also of great importance to make sure that you drink the highest quality of water available to you.

For healthy people under normal circumstances, thirst is a reliable mechanism to indicate the body’s need for more fluid. “However, your thirst doesn’t tell you exactly what to drink. It just tells you that you’re thirsty,” says Kenneth G. Berge, M.D., associate medical editor of Mayo Health Oasis. “Of course, billions of dollars are made by persuading you to reach for a soft drink or something like that, when really the best choice usually is water.”

You may have heard that you need at least eight glasses of water per day. This quantity won’t hurt a healthy adult. But Dr. Berge says such one-size-fits-all answer fails to tell the whole story about the body’s necessary balance of fluid intake and loss. Humans normally lose about 10 cups (2.4 liters) of fluid a day in sweat, urine, exhaled air and bowel movements. What is lost must be replaced to maintain a fluid balance. Dehydration poses a particular health risk for the very young and the very old.

Caffeinated and alcoholic beverages are actually dehydrating because they increase urine output, so don’t count these as fluid replacements.



Ten Tips for Proper Hydration

  • Drink at least eight to ten 8-ounce servings of water each day. The more active you are, the more water you need to replenish lost fluids.
  • Don’t wait until you’re thirsty to drink water. By the time you feel thirsty, you have probably already lost two or more cups of your total body water composition.
  • Drink plenty of water throughout the day. Convenience is a must, so carry a bottle of water with you as you commute to work, run errands or enjoy a day at the beach. While at work, keep a bottle of water on your desk, or visit the office water cooler and take a water break rather than a coffee break.
  • Don’t substitute beverages with alcohol or caffeine for water. Caffeine and alcohol act as diuretic beverages and can cause you to lose water through increased urination.
  • Once you start exercising, drink water throughout your workout. Keep a bottle of water with you and take frequent water breaks.
  • Don’t underestimate the amount of fluids lost from perspiration. Following a workout, you need to drink two cups of water for each pound lost.
  • Start and end your day with water. Your body loses water while you sleep, so drink a serving before bed and again when you wake up.
  • Common colds and the flu frequently lead to dehydration. Keep a large bottle of water next to your bed so you can sip it throughout the day without having to get up.
  • Cool water – not carbonated beverages or sports drinks – is the best fluid for keeping hydrated when it’s warm outside. Cool water is absorbed much more quickly than warm fluids and may help to cool off your overheated body. If you’re going to be away from home or outdoors, make sure you keep a bottle of water close by.
  • Make sure your children drink enough water. Children need water to balance their intake of other beverages – especially during activities. Packing bottled water in a child’s lunch instead of juice or regular soda can also help prevent childhood obesity.



The above information was compiled from the following sources:

Proper Hydration: The Key Ingredient To Your Athletic Success
By Rob Wilkins

* International Bottled Water Association (IBWA) is the authoritative source of information about all types of bottled waters distributed in the United States.


Caffeine is a common substance in our culture. For many it is an indispensable part of their daily lives when consumed in the form of coffee, tea and related beverages. Add to this the recent surge in the popularity of “energy” drinks such as Red Bull and the seemingly hundreds of copy cat beverages and you can see the prevalence of this simple yet powerful substance. Putting the pure love that so many seem to have acquired for the comforting taste and soothing aroma of fresh brewed coffee aside for a moment, let’s look at what caffeine may or may not do for us as athletes or just health minded fitness enthusiasts.

A quick search for caffeine on the internet will produce literally millions of hits. If you refine your search you will quickly and easily find research which points to the good, the bad, and the ugly of caffeine. Remember although caffeine can be a naturally occurring substance found in many different plants (over 60 at last count) it is classified as a drug by the F.D.A. (among others) due to the potentially profound effect it may have on the central nervous system. As with just about any drug there are three ways to play with caffeine; you may use it, misuse it, or abuse it. Let’s take a look at some of the reasons one may or may not choose to use caffeine.

The good:

For years (probably thousands of years if not longer) caffeine in its natural forms has been used as a stimulant to increase alertness and combat fatigue. Caffeine can have a profound impact on athletic performance improving both endurance events by increasing the time it takes to reach fatigue, as well as power related events through increased arousal and acute increase in momentary strength output.

From a basic health standpoint caffeine intake increases the release of catecholamine’s (adrenaline, nor-adrenaline, dopamine), and related hormones and can also increase free fatty acid (FFA) mobilization from fat cells. This means that caffeine, through its impact on Dopamine, may increase feelings of pleasure and well–being as well as help your body use fatty acids as fuel. Recently there have even been studies which suggest that long-term caffeine ingestion actually lowers the risk of developing type II diabetes and several large studies have shown that caffeine intake is associated with a reduced risk of developing Parkinson’s disease (PD) in men (studies in women have been inconclusive.)

The Bad:

Some “experts” claim that coffee (or caffeine) should be avoided because of the insulin response that ensues. What they are trying to imply is that caffeine use may inhibit the way insulin acts or reacts in the body and somehow interfere with the delicate hormonal balance that allows the body to burn fat etc. This is shown to happen with acute intake in some cases. Depending on personal sensitivity caffeine misuse may also lead to interrupted sleep patterns, irritability, and other minor unpleasant side effects.

The Ugly:


Long term caffeine use in high doses may cause a number of unpleasant syndromes to occur including extreme sleep pattern disruption and even anxiety disorders. In acute overdose situations something called caffeine intoxication may occur. A higher intake of caffeine (more then about 4 cups a day) may be associated with miscarriage and should therefore be limited or avoided during pregnancy. After extended and consistent ingestion the body may become attenuated to the effects of the caffeine. This may bring about several unpleasant side effects. The first is that higher doses will be required to attain the desired effects. There also seems to be a break over point where increased intake will fail to provide the former level of stimulation that was previously achieved when taken less frequently and in smaller amounts. The second is the potential for a withdrawal reaction to occur which may include symptoms such as headache, irritability, an inability to concentrate and stomach aches. These symptoms may appear within 12 to 24 hours after discontinuation of caffeine intake, peak at roughly 48 hours and usually last from one to five days.

So what now?

Caffeine is probably the most-used legal drug in the world. According to some studies 90% of adults in North America consume products that contain caffeine on a daily basis. This does not include the increasing number of younger people who consume caffeine in the form of sodas, energy drinks, and sweetened coffee beverages. Like any drug caffeine may be used, misused, or abused. Each person must decide for themselves if caffeine whether in the form of beverages such as coffee, tea, or energy drinks or in another supplemental form is something that they enjoy. Further as an athlete or fitness enthusiast one may explore caffeine use to determine it’s potential benefit to their personal performance levels. Most important of all, if one decides to experiment with caffeine as an ergogenic aid or for other reasons, keep in mind the potential risks listed above and strive to discern gradually your own tolerance levels.

The moral of the story is that athletes (and regular folks) can use caffeine and/or coffee to their distinct advantage for performance and body composition improvement. In addition, regardless of the population in question, coffee can actually improve insulin sensitivity over the long-term, which is likely due to its various beneficial non-caffeine phyto-nutrients. As with most drugs or drug like substances use caffeine intelligently and in moderation and you should enjoy the potential benefits while reducing the risk of any negative side effects.



TAKU’s NOTE: Elements of this article were compiled from excerpts from the book “Knowledge and Nonsense” chapter 3. Body Building nutrition roundtable as well as some of the following sources:


Training in today’s world

By Sunir Jossan M.S.

Certified Strength Professional!

Train, Rest, Eat… Grow stronger …Train, Rest, Eat. Lift a little more .. Grow Stronger. Wash, rinse and repeat. Over and over … Simple — yet we have made it so complex.

In today’s world of training it seems we have strayed due south away from the simplicity, and added multiplicity and complexity. Programs have added balls and bands and ropes and chains and odd shaped weights and boxes and wobble boards, and on and on and on. (If you walk into your garage at home, I bet you could find something that could pass as the next latest and greatest exercise tool).

Variety is the spice of life and it has inundated the strength field. The days of structure and simple training protocols are a thing of the past. Practical and productive training has taken a backseat to movement based exercise and skill demonstrations. Evidence based programs are getting thrown aside because athletes demand the newest vogue exercise, even if it’s un-safe or un-productive. And it seems there may be no end in sight. I am not sure if we have ever seen the fitness and training industry in such bad shape. What happened to the good-ole days of hard productive training without all the nonsense and gadgets? Are those days a thing of the past forever?

Research shows us that intensity is what matters in training when trying to make gains in the weight room. Not reps, not sets, and not even weight ….Intensity, pure and simple. But look around today. People add volume and sets and exercises to their workout, essentially decreasing intensity and compromising what really makes us grow. They train fast and explosive because they believe it will make them faster or more powerful athletically or because it’s just plain easier to throw a weight than to lift it properly. Problem is that the research shows the opposite. Training fast in the weight room has no relation to speed on the field or greater athletic ability. If anything it’s a recipe for disaster and leads to a greater risk of injury. Moving an object faster in the weight room increases overall force production, but decreases muscular torque or force and increases dangerous compression force. Increased compression force leads to injuries, plain and simple.

So why have we strayed so far from the yesterday’s of productive training? In the past, training with weights was not as main stream as it is today. The inevitable growth to the masses of training has killed the quality. Experts have become a dime a dozen, with very little understanding of what proper exercise is all about. Certifications run rampant, and require very little if any true coursework. The health club industry feeds off of the next greatest thing, because in the end it’s all about getting more members thru the door, not about producing results. The general public does not know any better, and the clubs promote the vast array of “certified” experts and then charge more money to make the member feel like they are working with someone special. It all slowly filters down and has corrupted athletics and the strength training field. Athletes are always looking for the competitive edge. These so called fitness experts thrive on that, and push their magic formulas and agenda. Athletes buy into it because so many others are doing it, and because it’s new and challenging. No science or peer reviewed research to back the claims, but who reads or worries about that stuff anyway.

For those of us who understand productive exercise and formulate our training methods on peer reviewed articles and studies, this is a trying time. Sure there has always been alternate methods or styles, but never has training gotten so crazy! I’ve dubbed it the ” circus. ” The boxes, the platforms, the bright colored balls large and small. The ropes, the chains, and the “seal-like” movements that resemble nothing in the way of proper exercise form.”Performers” believe that if what they are doing is hard, and if they are sweating, it must be productive. Day in and day out, until they get bored, injured, or move on to the next greatest thing. If they just added sensible training with progression, they would set the stage for results to follow.

But all this stuff cannot be that simple, it just has to be complex. It is human nature to make exercise easier, not harder. And the exercise and fitness industry has adopted that mentality. Look around entertainment has become the norm, not productive exercise.

Those of us that understand proper training, are getting drowned out by masses and the new specialized training guru’s. We are slowly becoming the minority who actually still believe in progressive exercise. Many very good trainers have fallen prey to the “circus” train as it continues to roll picking up steam. It is hard to take a stand, draw the line in the sand, and continue to push evidence based training. Sometimes you feel like your are alone , one man on an island. It seems to never end, and it looks like things will most likely get worse before they get better.

For those of us still standing, take solace in knowing that there are others searching for better training methods and a more efficient workouts. Training with a high intensity, with controlled repetitions, in a progressive model is not archaic or obsolete. It may not be vogue, but it’s safe, productive and it works. In fact, show me a safer training protocol and I will be the first to promote it. Training in a high intensity model is not fun. It is not complex nor entertaining. It requires dedication, and it’s pure work. It builds mental and physical toughness. It’s evidence based, not pseudo – science. It does not require elaborate tools or devices. It requires commitment and a high level of effort. No gimmicks, just plain work.

It really is simple stuff yet we’ve made it so complex.

 TAKU’s NOTE: Thanks to Sunir Jossan for this weeks awesome article. If you are in the Virginia area track him down for some training. Be sure to visit his web-site by clicking on his name at the top of this article.