It’s been a year already?

Posted December 15th, 2010 in Site Update by Clint

So today happens to be the one-year anniversary of Brain Over Brawn‘s publication (it’s also my birthday, how about that).  Due to that, I felt it was a good time to get in a post.

First off I’d like to apologize for the unannounced hiatus. Due to excessive travel, trials and tribulations and a focus of effort on other aspects of promoting the book that have had more feedback, a week turned into a month turned into “wait what?” Additionally, sorry to those who have been continuing to send the link to their friends who then check the front page and are like “wait, is this guy dead?” The numbers say they read it anyway, and I trust they’re glad for doing so.

Let me reassure you the book is still relevant (as downloads and sales will attest), and that I have returned (although advance warning, I’m about to go out of town again so updates won’t be as frequent until the new year).  Throughout my blogging absence I have continued to invest a significant amount of time responding to email and interacting with communities that foster discussion about the book (I’ll be changing up a few aspects of that as well to try and free up more time for a broader audience).

Let me also take this opportunity to mention Brain Over Brawn makes an excellent Christmas gift (Amazon is stocked up), especially for those who have announced their good intentions for their New Year’s resolution. What better gift than to help a friend or loved one get past all the last-night infomercial jazz and get right to what actually makes a difference.

Let me also say that if you’re waiting for the New Year to get started… you don’t have to. Getting started today is 2 weeks’ of poor eating and exercise habits that you won’t have to undo, and will get you a month or more closer to your goals. Start today.

Either way, best to you and yours. We’ll talk again soon.

AtA: Engineer Bags vs Freeweights

Posted May 10th, 2010 in Ask the Author by Clint

I have a question about your suggestion for using an engineer bag stuffed with weights as resistance training, though [...] but I really wonder how favorably it compares to pumping iron with real free weight equipment.

I should preface by stating that the engineer bag (or other suitably heavy object you might train with) is not a short-cut or temporary fix to get people started with resistance training; it is a fully-formed method suitable for people of virtually any level of fitness, and can be an effective program for life. The barbell is less than a century old; it’s not like prior to that humans were just wads of cookie dough with stick arms.

A lot of ‘underground’ fitness methods do Strongman-style training, with tire-flipping, sandbags, car pushing, stone lifting, and so on. For all intent and purpose, you can build an incredible physique and immense strength doing basic movements with challenging free-weight of any kind. It’s just mass being moved, simple as that.

That said, it would depend on your goals and how you define them.

Bodybuilders, to start off with (and pardon me if I paraphrase something you might have already read, I say a lot of things more than once) are particularly suited to using barbells and dumbbells because what they are doing is in essence being sculptors, with their own body as the medium. Even amateur-level bodybuilders spend hours just critiquing their own physique, and by having a wide range of tools and stimuli available they are able to shape each curve, angle and plane. In that case, not only would you want the more refined tools that a gym offers, but a host of other isolation exercises that I don’t get into in the book.

Powerlifters and other competitive weightlifters I consider to be athletes, and lifting barbells as a sport. From the lowly gymrat up to the girthiest (sure that’s a word shut up) of pro powerlifters, they seek to make the numbers go higher, same as a runner wants to make the numbers go lower. In this case, I would recommend you seek a gym as well; it’s significantly easier to lift 225 on a bar, even in a front squat, than it is to do the same with an engineer bag or any other unwieldy load. This isn’t to say it’s somehow less of an accomplishment, but like any other sport, some powerlifters wear special suits and practice special techniques (and often have horrifying physiques and form) just to get the numbers a little higher. It’s not a means to an end, it’s the end itself.

There are obviously other purposes that I may not need to get into for the moment, but suffice to say if you goal is “be leaner”, “be stronger”, “look good naked” or most of the reasons people want to ‘do exercise’, the engineer bag is not only a valid choice, it’s one of the better ones available. Though I personally love the gym in theory and in practice, and consider my power cage to be a part of the family, it’s not necessary. I (and you) could accomplish basically the same thing with a good sized rock.

AtA: Macro-split (PFC) Clarification

Posted May 5th, 2010 in Ask the Author, Foods by Clint

Got a question about the nutrition profile: How’d you decide on 50% protein? Some sort of “Tell them the meeting starts at 19:30 so everyone will be there by 20:00″ deal? (I’ll also need to read it a few more times to mull stuff over.)

I’m not entirely sure which part you’re referring to, but I’ll make a couple guesses and you let me know if you were interpreting something else.

In the Base meal section, where it says “protein totals equal to or higher than the total amount of fat (by gram)”, the idea is if they go by gram and hit close to 50/50, they’re in actuality getting significantly more calories from fat. I don’t necessarily think that’s a negative thing, even in a sedentary individual, but that’s why I say keep the protein up above, which implies that protein can be even significantly higher. With regular exercise this balances out with Peak meals providing that same level of protein but minimal levels of fat to where you still end up at a rough 40/40/20 ratio (as in the section 40/40/20).

Speaking of that section, that’s my other assumption of your reference. In that section there are two optimal, if somewhat plain, meals that meet the requirements for the types of meals. But again, we’re assuming 4-5 Base meals in a day, and 1-2 Peak meals, so once this is all factored out we still roughly end up at about a 40/40/20 split. I try to keep the focus on getting protein in every meal no matter what type of meal it is; with the extra calories per gram in fat and the readily available sources, it’s easy to meet the 40% Fat requirements. Many people have a tendency to grossly underestimate the carb content of foods, but this approach helps to balance that as well.

Protein is the common link between the two meals, and healthy and robust Base meals will include some ‘carbs’ from vegetables, and peak meals will typically include some fats from sources no matter how lean. That ‘half’ target is to help compensate for the fact we don’t get our macros from a super-soldier machine strapped to our back that feeds us intravenously. And I didn’t want people fretting over the 3g of carbs from having mushrooms with their steak, while still being conscious of the fat in the dressing they want to slather on their salads.

AtA: Supplements and additional vitamins

Posted May 3rd, 2010 in Ask the Author, Foods by Clint

Do you have any recommendations for other, more common dietary supplements such as daily multivitamins, or b-complex vitamins and so on?

If you’re going as-recommended in the book and getting a serving of vegetables and the occasional fruit at each meal throughout the day, it’s unlikely you’re in any danger of falling short of the vitamins and minerals you need. The main dispute with multivitamins is the dubious quality of their contents and the bio-availability (or lack thereof) of their nutrients. However, there are numerous well-reviewed and approved multis as well as greens-type supplements that can help offset possible deficiencies if you have a concern, medical or otherwise. But most people are typically fine if they’re getting their vegetables and eating from even a modest spectrum of food types.

AtA: Intermittent Fasting

Posted April 30th, 2010 in Ask the Author by Clint

I actually had one question for you: how do you feel about intermittent fasting? Your book talks about eating once every three hours; is this because you felt:

a) The scientific evidence on fasting isn’t there yet

b) Fasting is too counterintuitive/difficult for most people to handle, and you’re shooting sustainable, easy advice

c) Intermittent fasting just wasn’t known when you started writing it


Just curious.

dshack of ShackAttack (via reddit)

I’m not opposed to the concept of fasting; though not with any regularity, I’ve fasted myself from time to time–for example, with the intent of cleaning out and resetting the systems between trials of dietary plans or prescriptions. I wouldn’t necessarily say the research isn’t there yet, but that it focuses primarily on the comparison of intermittent fasting with the ‘typical’ (i.e. garbage-laden) western diet rather than placing it against other types of healthy consumption.

While a big part of is as you mentioned–that compliance with a fasting regimen can be difficult to maintain–still more of a concern is that even in environments where compliance is maintained at a very high level (such as with camps, athletes, or other committed individuals), the results are inconsistent. I’ve seen people adhere strictly to IF diets such as the Warrior Diet and falter or even experience negative results compared to their previous ‘healthy’ intakes.

But ultimately, along with ease-of-compliance, it was my goal to provide a system that is applicable and proven for the greatest number of individuals in the greatest number of situations. Frequent macro-oriented feedings have been consistently successful for a large number of people for many years now and are the staple of numerous successful nutrition plans, even those that incorporate only light or no exercise for whatever reason (rehab, etc). It’s also among the easiest to incorporate and customize for individuals, and my focus was for something equally useful for parents feeding their families, students eating in the dorm cafeteria, and individuals without the time or desire to create or follow complicated meal plans.

The long and short was something useful for the greatest number of humans in the greatest number of circumstances. It is doubtless that some individuals and their internal chemistry or situation would benefit more from an IF-style diet than from what I recommend, but I also specifically began the chapter stating that if you have something that works great for you, stick with it. And likewise if you don’t see the results you want, feel free to experiment with something else.

We Have Lift-off: 10,000 downloads of the e-book

Posted April 28th, 2010 in Uncategorized by Clint

So I missed refreshing at exactly the right moment and thus didn’t get a screenshot of 10,000 even, but here’s a nice one of 10,004, which means (I hope) roughly 10k people are now have read, are reading, or intend to read Brain Over Brawn (I’d like to to think the people who have downloaded it more than once are balanced out by the people sharing the book itself rather than the link).

10,000 downloads, holy bejowly

Go Team Venture! o/\o

If you enjoyed and/or benefited from the book, if you have a story to tell about how it helped you or someone you know, or if you just want to say hi, feel free to drop me a line. Readers like you are the reason I’m doing/have done this in the first place, and I am delighted to hear when it’s made a difference for someone.  And feel free to keep giving that link to anyone you think it might benefit (hint: it’s good for just about anyone, and it’s not a “hey you are fat maybe this book can help” sort of thing; everybody wants to be ‘healthier’ no matter their current condition). I’ve got the bandwidth, let’s do this thing.

Brain Over Brawn on Facebook

Posted March 8th, 2010 in Site Update, Uncategorized by Clint

I (am pretty sure that I) have created a facebook fan page for the book.

Since you can read it for free, it’s fairly easy for you to decide if you are likewise a fan. Feel free to “share” it, join up as a fan, or whatever else people can do with this thing.

I confess I don’t know a lot about the whole social networking scene as yet, so if you want to e-mail me regarding what I might have done wrong or other things I might do right to help get the word out regarding my book, you have my appreciation in advance.

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