Metabolism, creatine serum, drinking and exercise, beer and health

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Q: Hey Mike,
I’ve read a lot of your fitness articles and found them to be successful. My question is how much alcohol will affect a diet. I mean, say you’re hanging out with a bunch of your buds and you have a few brews too many of, let’s say, "Miller High Life." How much will this throw off a diet?

Thanks for your time.

A: Well Kevin,
It just so happens I am enjoying a Bud Light as I write this. The answer to your question is really common sense. Hanging out with a bunch of buddies getting annihilated two to three times a week will not only throw your diet off a little, it will hinder your workouts. Now, drinking one to two beers a day, which according to many studies has a few health benefits, and getting drunk once in a while shouldn't stand in your way of getting a lean look. Everybody's metabolism is different, however, and one has to make adjustments according to how your body reacts. For instance, if you are already eating a "clean" diet that features low to moderate amounts of carbs, high to moderate protein, and low to moderate amounts of fat and you are unable to attain a lean look, it is probably necessary to reduce the amount of alcohol you drink. You can also change the types of drinks you consume in order to reduce the amounts of carbs you take in. For example, switch from regular to light beer, try rum (Captain Morgan is my favorite) and Diet Coke. People who are successful in getting lean, strong and muscular are successful because they do things correctly over the long haul. Keep a journal and see how your body reacts to what you do to it.

The next comment was written in response to my latest “Did You Know” column 10-28-04.

Q: Interesting information you have in those articles about soy. Being a vegan (no food from animals) for a few years now, I've done a lot of research myself.

"…soy isn't what it's cracked up to be. In fact, many experts claim soy is not only a health risk, but that it can have irreversible side effects. One of these experts is Dr. Kaayla T. Daniel. In her new book "The Whole Soy Story," she reports that pediatricians are seeing more and more cases of emasculated boys reaching puberty with breasts, tiny penises and undescended testicles due to being fed soy formula as infants."

Duh.... The best thing for a human child to drink is, you guessed it...their mother's milk. Oh yeah, does Dr. Kaayla explain WHY they have breasts?

'…soya flour lowers testosterone levels. Low levels of testosterone can be detrimental to gaining muscle mass and strength. There is a direct relationship between the level of your testosterone and your relative strength. A study by British scientists showed that subjects who were given soya flour supplements had a 10 percent decrease in blood testosterone. The test subjects took the supplements for six weeks. All you idiots out there drinking soy milk and consuming other soy products stop immediately. The wool has been pulled over your eyes by the United Soybean Board. And by the way, one of soybeans’ main uses in Asia is for fertilizer. (Eor. J.Clin. Nutr., 57: 100-106, 2003)."

Hmmmm. Interesting, so I guess that means I should be a weakling by now, and have to get pushed around in a wheelchair. Specially (he means especially) after I have soy milk in my cereal, and have some tufo (isn't that tofu?) at lunch. But no, instead I'm out mountain biking, riding MX, and I'm a construction worker, who can handle heavy lifting just like the people who don't drink the soy. SO will I be growing breasts soon (it’s very possible)? I'm thinking your British research scientist left out some details when they published this study, probably other factors, like the diet of the subjects in general. If having low levels of testosterone is bad, what if they're too high? According to a notable source (, high levels of testosterone can increase the risk of prostate cancer.

I could go on and on...but I’m not, I’d just like to point out that there's more than one side to every story. Maybe more effort should go into researching statements before they're up on a Website and make the author look ignorant.


A: What is it with vegans and personal attacks? We are supposed to take what they believe as divinely inspired but anyone who disagrees with them is ignorant. Chill out, you sound like a woman.

It is a well know fact that testosterone has nothing to do with prostate hypertrophy or cancer. It is DHT and estrogen. And by the way, I have read volumes on the subject of soy and its effects. There is overwhelming evidence pointing to the fact that it is detrimental to your health. There are even vegan and vegetarian Websites warning against the effects of soy being a part of your diet. There are many other more effective ways to decrease your chances of getting prostate cancer or hypertrophy. By the way, I know quite a few women bricklayers and carpenters. It's good to know you're at least as strong as a woman.

Q: Dear sir,
I am 23 years old . The measure of my height is 5-3. I want to increase my height up to normal. Please inform me about some exercises because I don't have good quality medicines and treatment over here. Please guide me to get rid of this problem.

Yours truly,

A: Unfortunately, at 23 years old there is nothing you can do to increase your height. The growth centers in your bones are closed and there is no medicine or supplements that can change that fact.

Wish I had more encouraging news.

Q: I’ve been going to the gym for about two months now, I'm 19 and I have an insanely high metabolism (very hard to gain weight and even when I don’t workout for months, I retain a lot of muscle). I currently go about five to six times a week (from what I’ve read, that’s too much) and I split exercises into tri, chest, shoulders -- legs -- back and biceps, and abs whenever I can fit it in, usually two to three times a week. I also take 8ml of creatine serum everyday when I wake up, and I usually eat a protein bar after workouts and tuna/boiled egg white sandwiches throughout the day.

Now that I’ve got the background, on to the question. Over the past two weeks or so I haven’t seen much progress with my body, I’ve been able to lift more on some machines (mainly back machines) and I haven’t noticed any changes in my body either. I was wondering if you could recommend a workout schedule for somebody on creatine, and if creatine serum is as effective as powder. I've also read that more than two exercises per muscle group is over-training, but I thought I was taking creatine to avoid over-training, which is why I do three to four exercises per group. Also, as of the past two weeks I’ve been running a lot, about a mile three times a week for the first week and two to three miles three to four times a week the second week. I thought this might have something to do with it but regardless, I still need it as I’m trying to build running endurance for rugby, as well as build weight/muscle. So basically I need an effective set of exercises for endurance and muscle training, if possible.


A: Phil, you mention over-training a few different times. You are right to be so concerned with your ability to recover. My first recommendation has to do with the frequency you train each body part. If you have stopped making progress, like you say, and you are training with 100 percent intensity, you are training too much. Start training each body part once every six to eight days. You can use your current three-day split routine or try a four-day split like the following:

Day 1: chest and triceps
Day 2: back and shoulders
Day 3: off
Day 4: biceps, calves and abs
Day 5: legs
Day 6 and 7: off

As far as running is concerned, I would keep it down to a minimum. Two days a week is more than enough. I would also switch to doing interval training for your cardio. This type of cardio suits your needs for rugby far better than what you’re doing. You’re correct in questioning whether running multiple times per week would have something to do with a decrease in recovery ability. There is a delicate balance between doing too much and performing enough for your goals.

Are you cycling your creatine? If not, try taking creatine for six weeks with a four-week off period, then repeat. And yes, creatine powder is a better product than serum. I really like Creatine Select by Beverly International. This product combines creatine monohydrate with phosphates, which a few studies have shown to result in significantly higher muscle power output over consuming creatine alone.

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