Hi there, and welcome to Muscle for Life. I’m Mike Matthews. Thank you for joining me today for another q and a episode where I am answering 10 or so questions here that people have asked me over on Instagram. You can find me at at Muscle for Life Fitness every Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday. On one of those days, I will post a story asking for people to ask me questions, and then I get a bunch of questions and I go through them and I pick ones that are interesting or topical or just not beaten to death, and share short answers there on Instagram.
And then bring everything over here to the podcast and expand on the answers and give more context and resources if you wanna learn even more. And so in this episode, I will be answering questions about plant protein versus WHE protein. Workout splits. My favorite workout split and why? If I’m gonna be doing a toddler or kid’s multivitamin, when to start using a weightlifting belt, if at all.
Whether weight maintenance phases are worthwhile or whether you should just always be cutting or bulking until you have the body you want. And then finally maintain and. Also, if you like what I’m doing here on the podcast and elsewhere, and if you want to help me do more of it, please do check out my sports Nutrition company Legion, because while you don’t need supplements to build muscle, lose fat and get healthy, the right ones can help.
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Unfortunately, I don’t have any information on who asked these questions because Instagram was glitching out, but I have the questions. So the first one is, is Plant Plus just as effective as way plus? So they’re asking about my protein powders. Plant Plus, of course, is a plant-based protein powder. It is a mixture of pea protein and rice protein because those sources in particular have complimentary amino acid profiles.
When you combine them, they look a lot like WHE protein, which is why that combination is often referred to as the vegans way. So is that product as effective as my WHE protein isolate? And the answer is, Maybe when I answered this on Instagram, I said yes, but after answering this on Instagram, I actually found some research that shows that WHE protein might be superior for muscle building after all.
So let me explain. There are a number of studies that show that you can gain plenty of muscle and strength with plant. Protein, plant derived protein. There are studies specifically on pea protein, on rice protein. These are high quality sources of plant protein, and again, when you combine them, they are even better than when you eat them separately.
But one study that I recently came across showed that way resulted in. 40% higher levels of amino acid in people’s blood compared to several blends of plant protein powders. So they were using P protein, pumpkin protein, sunflower protein, and coconut protein. So there wasn’t a pea rice blend like my plant plus, but there was pea.
Plus one of the others that I mentioned, and then other combinations as well. And again, what the researchers found is that even when they matched the amount of essential amino acids in the amount of WHE protein and plant protein, which required more. Plant protein. I believe the serving of WHE protein was 24 grams in this study, and that provided, I don’t remember the number off the top of my head, but it provided probably around 10 to 12 grams of essential amino acids, something like that, and maybe around three grams of leucine.
What they did is they combined these different plant proteins in different ways, always matching the amount of essential amino acids, which required, again, if I’m remembering correctly, about 30 to 34 gram. Total protein to achieve the same amount of essential amino acids and leucine in particular as the WHE protein.
And that was a smart design decision because the essential amino acids in particular are what are most important for the purposes of muscle building. So just to repeat the results, what the researchers found is that way was far more effective. Raising amino acid levels in the participant’s blood, which of course ultimately is what matters.
If we’re talking about bioavailability, the availability of the protein for our body to use it. That is what we need to see. We need to see. Eat the protein, see the amino acid levels of our blood rise, so then our body can use those amino acids to repair muscle tissue, build muscle tissue, and so forth.
Now, this was one study, and again, they didn’t have a P and RICE protein condition, but it does suggest that WHE protein may indeed be superior for building muscle. Than plant protein. And I personally use my Plant Plus product. I use one scoop per day. I mix it with some way because I like how they taste together.
So these days I mix one scoop of my salted caramel way plus with one scoop of my vanilla plant plus, and that is one protein shake. And then I will have one other scoop of WHE protein at some. In the day, and then I get the rest of my protein from food. And so with only 25 to 30 grams of protein coming from plant protein and the rest of my protein every day coming from WHE protein and.
Food. I’m not concerned. However, if I were a vegetarian or if I were a vegan and I were getting, let’s say half of my daily protein from powder, from my plant plus product and the other half from. Plant foods. I might be a little bit concerned if I were trying to maximize muscle growth because in that case, let’s say that I had heard that 0.8 to one gram of protein per pound of body weight per day is plenty for maximizing muscle building, and I don’t particularly like eating a lot of protein, so I decide to go with 0.8 grams.
There is good evidence for that, but we have to remember. That is assuming the protein is of the highest quality and the highest bioavailability, which means animal derived, not plant derived. So if I were to eat, let’s say, 0.8 grams of protein per pound of body weight per day, half of that came from my own supplement, P protein, rice protein.
The other half came from other plant foods. That probably would not be enough to keep my body’s muscle building machinery running at full tilt, so to speak. I probably would need to eat more, and I would guess a fair amount more, probably even more than. One gram per pound of body weight per day. If it were me on that diet, I would go somewhere between probably 1.2 to maybe even 1.4 grams of protein per pound of body weight per day.
If I were getting all of that from vegan supplements and vegan foods, but as I am in omnivore and I’m only getting 25 to maybe 30 grams of protein per day from my. Protein, and I’m not even trying to maximize muscle growth at this point. I’m mostly just maintaining what I have and staying lean. I’m not concerned about it.
And a final takeaway for you is if you are still in the muscle building phase of your journey, if you are still really trying to put on some size or put on some. Then I would recommend that you get the majority, let’s just say at least 80% of your protein from the highest quality sources that fit your diet.
So if you are omnivous, I would not recommend getting, let’s say, half of your daily protein from even my plant. Plus protein supplement. I would recommend getting as much of it as you can from food. And again, animal foods do provide the most bioavailable and they do provide the highest quality protein, especially when you look at it calorie for calorie.
And if you are going to supplement, I would recommend first considering way. Casing before going the plant route. But if you don’t like WHE or casing, or if they don’t sit well with your stomach and you want to go with a plant based protein, I would recommend probably no more than 20% of your daily protein from that supple.
Lastly, if you are interested in checking out any of my protein powders, my WHE powder casing plant, you can find them [email protected], B Y L E G I n.com. Okay, next question is favorite workout split and current workout? Split. Well, they are one and the same because I’ve always enjoyed a push pull legs or push legs pull base because I like to squat and deadlift on different days.
I like to put at least one, if not two days in between those. And then I like to supplement on top of those base workouts with some additional upper body work or maybe lower body work depending on what I’m trying to do with my physique. Or supplementing with body parts specific work. So push pull legs or push legs, pull as a base, and then maybe an arms day.
If I’m really trying to directly train my arms more than I can in a push or pull workout or upper body workout or full body workout. But my favorite workout split does depend on what I am trying to do. If I’m trying to progress more or. Equally, I like what I just laid out. Push, pull legs or push legs, pull with an upper body day and maybe another lower body or another upper body day so I can get in enough volume in all of the major muscle groups to make progress more or less across the board.
But if I wanted to focus on just one or two major muscle groups, and if it’s one, it’s gonna be a big one. Like let’s say my lower body, and you could say, well, you have a few major muscle groups there. You have your quads, hamstrings, glutes. Okay, fine. Let’s say we wanna focus on. Those major muscle groups, I would not focus on anything else because that’s very difficult.
So if we are going to really try to work on our lower body, for me, given my training status, that means a fair amount of volume. That means probably 20 hard sets per week for each of those major muscle groups. That takes time, that takes a lot of. That is much harder to recover from than, let’s say, doing 20 hard sets for biceps and triceps.
And so what I’ll have to do is dial back the volume probably with everything else, even with deadlifting in particular, I might go down to one set per week because of the three lower body workouts that I’m doing and how difficult they are. And so if that were the case, then my favorite workout split would look more like a body part split.
I would. Probably three leg days, I guess you could say, lower body days. And I might have a chest day, a back day, and kind of like an arms and shoulders day. And on those days I probably wouldn’t be doing more than nine to 12 hard sets for those major muscle groups. And that’s it. And again, I would not be doing more than probably one set.
Deadlifting of any kind. So that would be a traditional, you know, conventional deadlift or a Romanian deadlift or any other type of variation. Just one set per week just to maintain that exercise and enough volume in those other major muscle groups that I’m not specializing in. Again, just to maintain what I’ve got while I give the majority of my resources, my bandwidth over to improving my lower body.
Now, let’s say I wanted to work on my arms, my biceps, and my triceps. If I were doing a specialization routine, that probably would entail three arms days per week, but because. The arms are smaller muscles. They can take more abuse. They can recover a lot faster than the quads, for example. I probably would throw something else into that specialization, so I probably would throw in my shoulders, for example.
Okay. For a couple of months I’m be doing a lot of volume. For my arms and shoulders, and I’m gonna be doing more like maintenance volume for the rest of my major muscle groups. Again, this could look very much like a bro split with higher frequency on the body parts that I’m working on specifically. So, A few arms workouts per week, a few shoulder workouts per week.
You might combine those into something that looks a little bit more like an upper body, but not really because it’s more just like an arms and shoulders workout. Do a few of those per week. Do a legs day or a lower body day and a pole day, and. I would still continue doing a few sets of squat, some sort of squat per week.
I might be able to get away with a few sets of deadlifting per week. Again, because the amount of wear and tear when you are specializing in. Let’s say your, your arms and your shoulders, it’s just much lower than lower body or even back. That’s a big major muscle group. And if you’re gonna do three difficult back workouts per week, you are probably not going to have the capacity to also work really hard on.
Lower body in particular. So that would be an example of kind of specializing in back for a couple of months, couple of back workouts per week, a lower body or leg workout, a press workout, and an arms slash shoulders workout. So that would be a scenario where a body part split would be my preferred split if I were wanting to simply maintain a full body.
Split would work just fine. And that has benefits. One of the major benefits of the full body split is you don’t get very sore. And a counter argument to that is if you are an experienced weightlifter and you are not doing an inappropriate amount of volume for any major muscle group in any workout, you’re not gonna.
Get very sore anyway. However, with a full body split, you can increase frequency to 3, 4, 5, 6, even seven days per week. I would not recommend six or seven unless you really know what you’re doing and your weekly volume isn’t too high, blah, blah, blah. But it allows you to train a body part every day if you want to because you are only doing a couple.
Three, probably four sets per day. And you could do that 3, 4, 5 days per week, for example, with a full body split. But it would be hard to do that with multiple major muscle groups with any other type of split. And otherwise, I don’t think there’s anything. Special about the full body split. I know it’s kind of trendy these days and it can work just fine.
It can work great for people who are new because they don’t need that much training stimulus to maximize muscle and strength gain. So they could just do like three full body workouts per week, for example. But that same routine, Would not work for an intermediate or advanced weightlifter who’s trying to progress three full body workouts per week is simply not going to provide enough volume for each major muscle group to continue gaining muscle and strength.
So frequency is gonna have to go up, and if you are going to work out four or five days per week, four or five full body workouts might not be the most effective way to. Your goals. For example, if you are a dude and your upper body is way behind where you want it to be compared to your lower body, especially if you’ve been lifting weights for a little bit and your lower body has responded well, and that is often the case for a lot of guys.
Those are big muscles. Our lower body muscles are big. They respond well to heavy training. They tend to grow quickly, whereas our pecks tend to be stubborn. Our biceps tend to be stubborn, our shoulders tend to be stubborn, so if that’s you, four or five full body workouts per week might not work nearly as well as an upper lower split or the push pull legs base with a couple of upper body days, which might look more like body part days with a shoulder.
Where you get in an extra, let’s say, 10 to 12 hard sets directly for your shoulders, and then maybe an arms day where you are getting in an extra 10 to 12 sets directly for your biceps and your triceps. And if you want to learn more about workout splits, head legion athletics.com, search for workout split, and look for an article called How to Find the Best Workout Split for You.
And it is a longer form article, but it discusses each of the types of workout splits that I’ve mentioned in detail, the body part, the upper lower, the push pull legs, the full body, and it helps you understand which split is going to be best for you given your current circumstances and goals. Hey there.
If you are hearing this, you are still listening, which is awesome. Thank you. And if you are enjoying this podcast, or if you just like my podcast in general and you are getting at least something out of it, would you mind sharing it with a friend or a loved one or a not so loved one? Who might want to learn something new.
Word of mouth helps really bigly in growing the show. So if you think of someone who might like this episode or another one, please do tell them about it. All right. Let’s move on to the next question, which is simply when does it get better? When does what Get better? Everything. When do things get better?
Well, I think that when people. When enough people have finally had enough things will start to get better. Next question, toddler slash kids multivitamin. Soon, I really want to do one. I am already exploring the possibilities because gummies are possible. Gummies are great, but the constraint is the amount of active ingredients that you can.
Into them. I believe it’s only two to three grams per gummy. So for some products, like a pre-workout, which is gonna have 20, 25, 30 grams of active ingredients, it doesn’t work. But other products, like a kid’s multivitamin, that very much could work because you are not going to put as much into a kid’s multivitamin as you’d put into an adult multivitamin, for example.
So, I’m looking into it. I would like to do it selfishly because I would like to give it to my kids, but then also unselfishly because I’d like to have it available for you to give to your kids too, if you want to do that. Next question, when to start to use a. Lifting belt when your weights are one and a half your body weight.
Well, first, let me just quickly explain why you might want to use a weightlifting belt, at least on exercises that require bracing your core, like any sort of squat, deadlift, and overhead press. The reason is not so much safety. Many people think that the belt prevents injury. It actually does not prevent injury per se.
Does more so is improve performance because what it allows you to do is increase the intraabdominal pressure, the amount of pressure in your torso that you generate when you hold your breath and you tense your stomach like you’re about to get. Punched in the stomach, which is what you want to do when you are lifting heavy weights, when you’re squatting heavy weights, dead lifting overhead, pressing heavy weights, and it’s inevitable.
You really can’t do those things without doing that, but you do want to consciously do that. You wanna take a deep breath into your stomach, and again, tense like you’re about to get. Punched in the stomach. You don’t simply take a deep breath into your stomach and push your stomach out. That is not necessarily going to increase the intraabdominal pressure.
But if you get ready to take a punch, you’ll be doing it right and the belt, what it does is when you use it correctly, when you have it positioned correctly, and when you tighten it enough, it allows you to do that and press your AB muscle. Out against the belt, which then allows you to generate even more pressure in your torso, which can help you maintain proper form, but it also improves performance.
And so that’s why if you follow me on Instagram and you watch the workouts that I post, that’s why I use the belt when I squat, deadlift in overhead press. The increase in strength is noticeable. I probably am on the squat. I would say at least 10, maybe even 20 pounds stronger. Like my one RM goes up by probably 10 to 20 pounds just by putting on that belt.
And I also do like the extra stability that the proper use of it provides. So that’s why you might want to use a belt now as for. I wouldn’t recommend using it right away. I’d recommend learning how to do all those exercises, belt list initially, and then after probably your first year. So now you’re into year two of proper and consistent weightlifting.
You are now a lot stronger than you were when you started. You have good technique across the board. I think that is the appropriate. To add a belt if you want. Now, if you wanna learn more about belts, some of the theory that I just explained, as well as how to find a belt that is going to be good for you, head over to legion athletics.com, search for belt, and look for the article, how to find the best weightlifting belt for you.
Then you’ll be on your. All right. Next question. Do you believe in maintenance phases when you’re cutting 60 to 80 pounds? Yes. I do think it’s smart to probably plan a break of, let’s say at least seven, maybe even 14 days of maintenance calories, probably every 20 pounds or so. I was just reviewing a study today that used intermittent calorie restriction.
The protocol was two weeks on, basically two weeks restricting calories. I believe on average participants were eating about 67% of their total daily energy expenditure, so a pretty aggressive calorie deficit for two weeks. High protein, of course, and then two weeks of maintenance calories, and that worked quite well.
In my experience though, working with a lot of people over the years. I bet you if you need to lose a lot of weight, you can probably be a little bit more aggressive in the duration of the calorie restriction phase. So I wouldn’t be surprised if you could easily go four to six, maybe even. Eight weeks, you don’t necessarily have to go with a 33% calorie deficit, although if you have a lot of weight to lose, you probably will be able to do that fairly easily, actually.
So let’s just assume you can do that 30 to 35% calorie deficit, and you’re doing that for minimally four, if not six to eight weeks. And then you start to feel it. Some of the negative side effects associated with dieting start to catch up with you. You’re hungrier, you’re crankier. Your energy levels are lower.
You notice you’re moving around less, your workouts are getting harder. Then you take a break anywhere from seven to 14 days. Just eat maintenance calories. Make sure to calculate your maintenance calories at. That current body weight because that maintenance number’s gonna go down. As you lose weight.
Heavier bodies cost more energy to move around. So many people, they make that mistake, they calculate their calories at the beginning of a weight loss journey, and let’s say their maintenance calories, let’s say it’s 3000 calories per day. This is a guy, he’s very heavy and he burns about 3000 calories.
Day, and that would be including exercise, of course. And he loses quite a bit of weight. He wants to take a little break. He doesn’t recalculate his new maintenance calories, which let’s say are 27 or 2,800 per day because he’s lost a lot of weight and maybe he’s a little bit less active also than he was in the.
Just making up a situation. He starts eating 3000 calories per day, which some days is like 3,100, 3,200. He does that for two weeks and he gains, let’s say a pound or two of fat over that period, and he doesn’t understand why. So just make sure that you are calculating those maintenance calories right before you were starting.
Maintenance phase. And the last comment I’ll make on this is you don’t have to take diet breaks as they’re called if you don’t want to. If you are feeling totally fine, let’s say it’s been eight weeks and you’ve lost, uh, quite a bit of weight in that time and you feel great energy levels are good. Your sleeping fine, your workouts are fine.
You don’t have to take a break, just keep going, but just know that if at any point you want to, even if it’s just psychological, even if you’re just sick of dieting, let’s say it’s been three months now and you would just like to eat a bit more food. Maybe it’s not even about eating junk food or eating foods that you’ve been restricting or that you really haven’t been able to enjoy cuz you don’t have enough calories to really enjoy them the way that you like to.
Maybe you just want to eat more of the stuff that you are eating every day because it’s nice to eat, uh, more food when you’ve been restricting your food for a while. Do it. Do it for seven to 14 days. You probably will feel great after that little break, and then you can get back to your cut. All right, next question.
What is a good pre-workout meal? If you only have 30 to 45 minutes until you start 30 to 60 grams of carbs of whatever? You prefer? I like something light. I don’t like the feeling of being full at all. I like to feel like I basically have an empty stomach when I train, so for me it’s just fruit. I’ll eat a banana or two before I train.
There was a time when I also would do a cup of rice milk. I had mixed some protein in with it and that provided an extra maybe 25 grams of carbs, and it was pretty tasty. These days I don’t do that, not. Particular reason, but I do always eat some fruit and I have some pre-workout about 30 to 45 minutes before I train.
And the reason I don’t always have protein before I train is research shows that if you have eaten protein, let’s say within the proceeding two or three hours, you don’t need to eat more. You are not going to benefit from eating more. Go to the gym, work out, and then have protein within an hour or so of finishing that workout.
However, if it has been four plus hours since you’ve eaten protein before you work out, I would also recommend then having a serving of protein with the carbs. And a quick comment here. Don’t buy into any of the marketing hype around these fancy carbohydrate supplements. They are mostly sold to endurance athletes, but they’re also sold to weightlifters.
And there are many claims about how those carbohydrate supplements are superior to any and all food forms of carbohydrate. For enhancing performance, and sometimes it’s a recovery thing, so they’ll say, oh, mix this fancy carbohydrate, this fancy starch with your post workout shake, and you are going to recover X percent better than if you ate just some.
Or some oatmeal or potatoes or whatever you might eat for carbohydrate after a workout. All of that is nonsense. I wish it were true. If it were true, I would produce one of those products and I would use it myself, and I would sell it, but it is not true. So eat your carbs and eat what you like. Research shows that for our purposes, it doesn’t really matter.
Now, if you were a triathlon, Athlete, a high level competitive triathlon athlete. We would talk a bit more about what types of carbs you are eating when, but that’s probably not the case, so let’s just keep it simple. Okay, next question. What is your best tip for younger lifters? My best tip is take the time to learn the fundamentals.
Learn the fundamentals of good eating, learn the fundamentals of good training. Learn to be patient. Learn how to stick to the boring basics regardless of what you see on social media. All of the interesting things that people do to get you to stop scrolling and engage. If you can, just do that. Learn the fundamentals, get good at them.
Be patient. You can get jacked by anybody’s standards in three to five years. Okay, last question. How do you personally differentiate between training and exercise? Well, training is exercise, but it’s exercise with specific and measurable goals, and it’s exercise that you do according to a system that is meant to help you reach those goals.
Exercise. Unto itself is just vigorous physical activity, and you can do that for health. You can do that for fun, you can do that for body composition. You can do that for strength, for performance, but exercise doesn’t have to be formal workouts. It doesn’t have to be sports even. It’s just vigorous physical activity and there’s nothing wrong with that.
I treat my strength training. As training, but I treat my cardio as exercise. I just hop on a bike five to seven days per week, an upright bike and pedal away at a moderate intensity for 30 minutes, and I’m usually doing that while I’m on a phone call, a work call, usually sometimes a personal call, which I have to do anyway, so I might as well just do it on the bike or I read on my phone, which again, Gonna put time into every day anyway, so I might as well just do it on the bike or doing vocabulary flashcards for my riding, which I’m gonna do anyway, so I might as well do them on the bike.
Well, I hope you liked this episode. I hope you found it helpful, and if you did subscribe to the show because it makes sure that you don’t miss new episodes. And it also helps me because it increases the rankings of the show a little bit, which of course then makes it a little bit more easily found by other people who may like it just as much as you.
And if you didn’t like something about this episode or about the show in general, or if you. Uh, ideas or suggestions or just feedback to share. Shoot me an email, mike muscle for life.com, muscle f o r life.com and let me know what I could do better or just, uh, what your thoughts are about maybe what you’d like to see me do in the future.
I read everything myself. I’m always looking for new ideas and constructive feedback. So thanks again for listening to this episode, and I hope to hear from you.
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