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50 Things You Should Know That Have Relatively Concise Answers

A calorie is simply a unit for measuring heat. 

It is not specific to your food. A calorie is defined as the amount of energy required to heat one gram of water by 1 degree Celsius at standard atmospheric pressure. 

The macronutrients carbohydrates, protein, fat, and alcohol are the calorie containing subunits of our foods. 

Carbs and protein have 4 calories per gram, fat has 9 calories per gram and alcohol has 7 calories per gram. So if a food contained 10 grams of protein, carbs, and fat it would have 170 calories because 10g x 4 cals/g + 10g x 4 cals/g + 10g x 9cals/g = 170 calories.

Fiber can contain between 1-2 calories per gram. 

Fiber is often believed to be indigestible because it is not able to be metabolized by the small intestine. However, some of the bacteria in the large intestine are able to break down fiber and it can have around an average of 2 calories of metabolizable energy per gram.  This is one reason why counting net carbs is stupid in my opinion.  

The ratio of your macronutrient intake doesn’t really matter.

Many people get too worked up about what the “best macro ratio” is.  They will focus on getting 35% of their calories from carbohydrates, 40% from protein and 25% of their calories from fat. In reality, they should focus on getting the correct amount of calories and protein to meet their goals and letting fat and carbs fill the rest of their eating as necessary. 

Weight changes occur as a result of changes in energy balance.

When the amount of energy you take in (calories from food) is equal to the amount of energy that goes out (calories burned from exercise/daily living/being alive) across a defined period of time , you will maintain your weight.  Weight loss occurs when the energy that goes in is less than the energy that comes out.  This makes sense because if the amount of energy that is needed to fuel your daily living can’t be met by the amount of food you eat, it needs to come from your body’s energy stores which results in weight loss.  Weight gain occurs when the energy that goes in is more than the energy that comes out.  

Daily changes in weight are normal and don’t mean a whole lot.

Your weight can fluctuate from day to day by a few pounds depending on what you ate recently, how much water you drank, and if you haven’t used the bathroom before the measurement among other things.  Daily measurements are great because they provide more data, but each point in and of itself doesn’t mean much.  Observing the direction your weight is trending over the course of a week or over a month will give you a better picture of what is happening and if you are doing the correct things.

If you are going to weigh yourself you should be consistent in the measurement.

To obtain the most accurate measurements you should be as consistent in your measuring as possible.  This means taking measurements at the same time, in the same state, and using the same scale.  I always recommend weighing yourself first thing in the morning, before you eat or drink anything and after you use the bathroom.  It is one of the easiest times of the day to control as many variables as you can.  

The best remedies for sore muscles are to eat enough calories, protein, and to sleep enough. 

If you do all three of these things, you are doing most of the work when it comes to recovery.  Any supplements, ice baths, foam rolling, stretching, or other methods are nice and can be helpful but they are a much lesser part of the recovery picture.  

Eating food at night doesn’t make you fat. 

Weight gain doesn’t come from eating at certain times of the day.  It comes from eating in positive energy balance over a defined period of time.  You could eat all of your food for the day 5 minutes before you go to bed if you wanted to and it would lead to similar results to eating the same amount of calories, spread throughout the day. 

Intermittent Fasting doesn’t produce any magical pathway to weight loss.

Intermittent fasting works for some people to lose weight because it acts as a way to control caloric intake and create an energy deficit.  When most people restrict their eating window to 8 hours out of a day instead of 12-16 hours, they generally eat less calories.  

The Keto diet doesn’t produce any magical pathway to weight loss. 

The keto diet works for some people to lose weight because it acts as a way to control caloric intake and create an energy deficit by restricting an entire food group.  Cutting out carbohydrates will lead to many people eating less total calories throughout the day.  Carbs don’t make you fat.  Insulin doesn’t make you fat.  Chronic overconsumption of calories makes you fat.  

Hormones and calories are interconnected when it comes to losing and gaining weight, it is not one or the other. 

There are some camps that believe hormones are to blame when it comes to weight gain.  It should be known that any gain of body tissue comes as a result of an overconsumption of calories, not from changes in hormones, but hormones play a role in maintaining energy homeostasis.  Eating at levels outside of energy balance can affect your hunger and satiety hormones which can make you eat more or less, for example.

The calories you burn are expelled from your body mainly as CO2 and H2O in your breath when you exhale. 

There is a common misconception that you sweat out the fat.  You do expel a small amount of the weight from your fat and carbohydrate stores in your sweat and urine but the vast majority of it is exhaled out in your breath in the form of carbon dioxide and water. 

Protein intake at .36g/lb of body weight is too little for most people who are trying to make body composition changes.  Protein is the most important macronutrient if you are looking to increase lean body mass and you should prioritize protein intake if you want a better chance at success.   

You can eat more than 30g of protein at once, it won’t be wasted like some people say.  

The per meal anabolic ceiling that some gym bros tell you exists is likely much higher than many they believe it to be.  Your body doesn’t just waste extra protein that isn’t used to stimulate muscle protein synthesis.  The extra protein can be used for other protein needs in the body that aren’t related to building muscle and they can also be transaminated and used for energy.  In addition, if you eat other macronutrients with your protein (like in normal eating) it will slow down the digestion of protein and a larger dose may be needed to receive the same stimulus to muscle protein synthesis.  

If you want to optimize muscle growth, ingesting a protein rich meal at a minimum of 3 times a day is preferred and a dose of high quality protein every 3-4 hours is likely better. 

Eating protein stimulates muscle protein synthesis, the process the body uses to grow muscle.  The rate of protein synthesis increases following ingestion of protein and decreases as time progresses, making it necessary to ingest more protein every few hours for optimal results.

Supplements are not required to take.  That’s why they are called supplements and not requirements.  

You don’t have to take any supplements to make progress.  They are there to help supplement your normal diet and training needs if needed.

The only supplements worth considering (in my opinion) are protein supplements, creatine, caffeine, high glycemic carbohydrates and sometimes multivitamins. 

Pretty much everything else isn’t worth considering unless you have certain specific needs.

Supplementing with BCAAs is futile if you eat enough complete proteins in your diet. 

BCAAs are the three amino acids leucine, isoleucine, and valine.  They can be found in adequate amounts in many different protein sources (meat) and some complementary vegetable proteins.  If you eat animal products and get enough protein in your normal diet, supplementing with BCAAs is likely overkill.  If you are a plant based dieter it may be a good idea to supplement with BCAAs simply for insurance that you are getting them in adequate amounts but it is not required.

Supersetting exercises doesn’t lead to more optimal muscle growth when total volume is equated.

The benefit of supersetting exercises is that you can get an equal amount of work done in less time because you are doing away with the rest period.  Super sets have not been shown to increase muscle growth when total volume is the same between super setting and non super setting groups.  

“Glute activation” is just a fancy way to say warm up.

 Doing “activation” exercises with a band prior to your lifts doesn’t make them more prone to growth. It is simply a method to warm up your muscles.  You can warm up your muscles without a band just as effectively. 

Fasted exercise doesn’t lead to more fat loss than fed exercise does.

While you may oxidize more fat as fuel during fasted exercise, you will oxidize more carbs for fuel in the period following the exercise and vice versa.  It will even out over the course of a full day because net fat balance is what matters.  To lose fat, net fat synthesis must be less than net fat breakdown. The best way to achieve this is to maintain a calorie deficit.  If you aren’t in a calorie deficit it doesn’t make any difference whether you do your exercise fasted or fed.  

The “Fat Burning Zone” of exercise doesn’t exist. 

Some believe that you need to exercise within a certain heart rate zone in order to burn the most fat, commonly referred to as the fat burning zone.  It is true that as exercise intensity increases, the percentage of carbohydrates you use for fuel increases while the percentage of fat decreases. However, in order to lose weight you need to be in a caloric deficit over a period of time.  If you don’t maintain a calorie deficit you will not lose weight no matter how many calories you burn during your workouts.  The energy cost of exercise increases as intensity increases which dismisses the idea that lower intensity exercise in some kind of a “fat burning zone” is better for fat loss. 

Gaining muscle and losing fat at the same time is possible.

This is called body recomposition and not only is it possible to do, it is expected to happen in certain groups of people.  If you are untrained, overfat, detrained, or take steroids it is likely you will see some body recomposition.  If you are not in one of these categories, having dedicated bulking and cutting phases is probably a better choice.

2-3 minutes of rest time between sets is optimal if the goal is to build muscle. 

There exists a dose response relationship between volume and muscle growth up to a certain point (we don’t actually know where that point is yet).  More volume, more growth.  Short rest periods can affect volume and therefore affect your ability to grow muscle. Rest periods for strength work should be even longer.  Compound movements will generally require more rest time than single joint movements. 

You can grow muscle across a broad spectrum of rep ranges (5-30 reps) not just 8-12 reps.

It is commonly believed in fitness culture that rep ranges between 8-12 reps are the best for growing muscle, anything less is better for strength and anything greater is best for endurance.  In reality, muscle growth has been shown to be similar across rep ranges between 5 and 30 reps as long as the set was taken close to failure.  While using heavier weights and less reps does translate more to strength, you can still see some muscle growth.  And while using lighter weights and more reps does lead to better gains in muscular endurance, you can still also gain muscle from higher rep ranges.  

You cannot reliably measure the calories you burn outside of a laboratory.  Your Apple Watch is not accurate.  

Wearable fitness trackers can range in error rates between 25%-100%.  That means if you actually burn 100 calories, your watch could tell you you burned anywhere between 125-200 calories if it is overestimating or from 75 calories to 0 calories if it is underestimating.  Either way, not good.

Collagen is not a good post workout protein supplement.

Not all proteins are equal when it comes to their quality.  High quality proteins have a full amino acid profile and have high digestibility.  Collagen is not a high quality protein as it lacks essential amino acids making it a poor choice for an exogenous protein source for the purpose of endogenous protein synthesis.  Consuming dietary collagen also doesn’t automatically lead to more collagen into your tissues.  Like all dietary protein, collagen is broken down into its constituent amino acids during digestion.  Your body will then use those amino acids to create collagen if it needs to but there hasn’t been much evidence to support a dose dependent response of collagen supplementation on collagen formation in the body.

You don’t necessarily need to eat carbohydrates directly following a workout, it will depend on your goals. 

If you aren’t doing glycogen depleting activity or need to refuel quickly for another bout of exercise, eating carbohydrates following a workout isn’t critically important.  You will likely get enough carbs in through your regular diet to replenish any lost glycogen in the time period between your workouts.  It’s often stated that you need to take a protein shake and some carbohydrates within 30 minutes following a workout or you’ll miss the anabolic window.  For protein’s sake, this is untrue and the literature shows us that as long as you get adequate protein in over the hours following the workout, you will likely be just fine.  Your muscles are more sensitive to carbohydrates following glycogen depleting exercise so eating carbs following a workout will help to quickly replenish glycogen stores but if you don’t have another training session within the next 8 hours or so, it isn’t the end of the world to not get carbs in directly following your training.

Progressive overload is necessary to continue to make adaptations to training. 

Progressive overload, in simple terms, means increasing the stimulus on your body over time.  Your workouts need to get progressively more difficult if you wish to make adaptations.  There are many ways to progressively overload, such as increasing weight, increasing reps, increasing sets, decreasing rest time, increasing distance lifted, or increasing the frequency of lifts.  

Soreness shouldn’t be used as an indication of a great workout but if you are never sore and not seeing progress then the exercise you are doing may not be sufficient for growing muscle.

Novel exercise causes soreness.  If you’ve ever played a new sport you’ve almost certainly felt the effects of this the following day.  That doesn’t necessarily mean that you got in a good workout especially for muscle growth.  The stimulus was just new.  However, if you are lifting weights often and doing similar movement patterns with the same muscles each week and you don’t ever experience soreness, it may be an indication that your workouts are not disruptive enough to lead to muscle growth. 

If you are consistently experiencing soreness that lasts more than 3-4 days following your workouts, you are likely doing too much if the goal is muscle growth. 

Being able to train a muscle group once every few days is key to optimal muscle growth.  If your workouts make you so sore that you cannot train the same muscle group every 3-4 days, it would probably benefit you to back off a bit on the volume during your sessions so that you can increase the frequency of your workouts.

If you are a beginner, 10 hard sets per muscle group per week is a good place to start for volume landmarks in the weight room.

Muscle growth for beginners will come quite easily and quickly.  It will not take much to start to grow muscle.  Doing 10 hard sets per muscle group per week is a great place to start when trying to put on some muscle.  A hard set is just what it sounds like, any set that is hard to complete.  This means that you should choose a weight that is difficult to perform for the rep ranges you are following.  

If you are farther along in your training age, 10-25 sets per week per muscle group is a good target to aim for, depending on the muscle and your ability to recover. 

As you progress in your training you will find it necessary to increase the amount of volume you do in order to see adaptations.  Some muscles will be able to handle a lot of volume and others won’t be able to handle as much.  It is up to you as a lifter to figure out where those volume landmarks are and autoregulate your training in order to optimize it. 

Cardio is for more than just losing weight.

Cardio has this strange reputation in the fitness space for being required for weight loss.  1. This isn’t even remotely true. 2. I’d argue it’s not even the best modality for a person trying to lose weight and improve body composition. And 3. There are many more benefits to cardio than just that it burns calories.  Cardio is great for your heart and can help to strengthen it.  Cardio also increases your fitness which will translate over to your other exercises (lifting weights).  The better you can deliver oxygen to your working tissues, the easier movement becomes. 

The best exercises for abdominal development are ones that flex the trunk, not flex the hip.

I’ve written about this one before but it drives me nuts.  If you want to grow your abs then the best way to do that is through exercises that directly target the rectus abdominis through trunk flexion.  Many “abdominal” exercises are actually hip flexor exercises in disguise that use an isometric abdominal contraction to work the abs.  If you want to read the full article I wrote on this, click the button here. 

If you are wondering whether you should cut or bulk first, the answer is almost always cut if you ask for my opinion.

Before I get into why, most people can achieve body recomposition to a fairly high degree and can lose fat and gain muscle at the same time.  This is mainly attributed to the fact that they are still new in their training age and have more wiggle room to accomplish this.  If you have been training for a few years, are getting stronger, and have seen some plateaus then having dedicated bulking and cutting phases is likely your best bet.  I always think cutting first is best because you can then begin your bulk from a place of leanness.  Starting a bulk when you are in the middle of being lean and fat just leads to you getting fatter and that isn’t fun for your psychological well being. You also won’t have to cut as much after your bulk if you cut first because you will have started from a leaner base.  

Protein supplements are not magic.  They are just an easy way to get high quality protein.

Many people believe protein supplements to be this anabolic masterpiece that will lead to massive muscle growth.  It is just a high quality dose of protein to assist you in hitting your protein goals.  It will not make you bulky.  It will not magically grow muscle.  You still have to train hard and eat right.

If you are going to do cardio and weight training in the same workout, do the cardio last. 

If you have a goal of building muscle then the weight training should be done first to ensure that you have enough energy to put in your best effort.   You can struggle through the cardio at the end if needed and still get what you’re looking for out of it.  You cannot struggle through weight training and expect to get the same results as if you were fresh.  

If you are counting calories, weighing and measuring your food raw is easiest and best practice.  

In the grand scheme of things it doesn’t really make a difference if you choose to measure your food raw or cooked, you just have to be consistent with whatever you choose so that you are inputting the correct values into your tracker.  I believe raw is easiest because you don’t have to worry about any water loss during the cooking process or extra weight from sauces or oil on your food. 

If you want sustainable weight loss, you probably shouldn’t aim to lose more than 1% of your body weight per week. 

Regaining weight following a diet is so common among dieters it is almost a given for it to happen.  Creating a sustainable eating plan during your dieting phase will help you with adherence and prevent you from binging as a result of too much restriction.  The slower your weight loss is, the better for long term success. 

White rice is perfectly fine to eat.  You don’t have to eat brown rice because people have made you believe it is better. 

White rice and brown rice are almost identical on a macronutrient basis.  Yes brown rice has slightly more nutritional value but if you are eating a balanced diet with lots of fruits and vegetables then you are likely getting in plenty of nutrients and the small amount in the brown rice isn’t going to make a big difference.  Eat the white rice if you like it. 

Incorporating diet breaks can help with adherence and lead to long term success in weight loss. 

Taking a week or a few days to eat at maintenance levels instead of in a calorie deficit during your dieting phases can do wonders for adherence and the psychological factors associated with dieting.  Taking a diet break every 6-8 weeks for a short time can help give you a little bit of reprieve and make you want to keep pushing forward.  

“Fat burning exercises” rely on your own fitness more than on what the exercise actually is. 

Calling something a fat burning exercise is kind of silly in my opinion.  No one exercise is inherently better for fat burning.  Your ability to burn fat for fuel during a workout has more to do with how fit you are than with the exercise you are performing.   

Circuit training is not necessarily HIIT Training. 

HIIT training is high intensity exercise.  Just putting something in a circuit doesn’t make it high intensity.  I also wrote an article on this.  Read it here. 

Your exercise activity is only a small part of the energy you burn throughout the day. 

Most of the energy you burn throughout the day is to keep you alive and moving.  You may only burn 400-500 calories in a workout and if you were to lay in bed all day and not move it would still require more than 1200 calories for most people.  All movement adds up including blinking, fidgeting, washing the dishes, brushing your teeth.  Don’t rely too much on exercise to create an energy deficit.  

If you are going to count calories, you should count ALL calories.

This is a wild idea to me.  Every so often I’m asked by someone if they should count the calories in their vegetables.  Yes of course you should.  They still matter and if you are going to take the time to count the other calories why would you not just count the vegetables too? 

Apple cider vinegar doesn’t do anything to help you lose weight.  

Aside from maybe its via its consumption which will destroy any appetite you had because it tastes so bad, causing you to eat less.

Doing excessive amounts of cardio can impact your ability to gain muscle but only if you are doing a lot.

Don’t worry about if cardio is going to kill your gains.  It isn’t going to have a meaningful effect unless you are doing tons of cardio or dedicated endurance training. 

Your “toning” workouts are probably doing more to waste your time than to do anything for toning your muscles. 

If you want to get “toned” you need to lose fat and grow muscle in the area you want to tone.  Lifting weights that are far too light is only wasting your time and not leading to any real muscle growth.  Grab a heavier weight and get to it. 

This Post Has 9 Comments

  1. Kelly Randolph

    Thank you for all the time you put into this. I really appreciate it.

  2. Vivi

    Good one! I like that the information is straight forward! Thank you!

  3. Randal Endsley

    Ha. I came here for the facts….I stayed for the memes. Appreciate the info.

  4. Eduardo Cervantes

    Enjoyed reading the f-bomb out of this! Thank you

  5. Michael Nichols


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