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I’ve recorded hundreds of episodes of Muscle for Life on a huge variety of things related to health, fitness, and lifestyle, ranging from the basics of diet and exercise like energy and macronutrient balance and progressive overload and training frequency and volume to fads like the ketogenic and carnivore diet and collagen protein to more unfamiliar territories like body weight set point and fasted cardio.

Some episodes resonate with my crowd more than others, but all of them contain at least a few key takeaways that just about anyone can benefit from (that’s what I tell myself at least).

And as cool as that is, it poses a problem for you, my dear listener:

Ain’t nobody got time for that.

Well okay, some people do make the time to listen to most or even all of my podcasts, but my wizbang analytics tell me that while many listeners tune in on a regular basis, they don’t catch every installment of Muscle for Life and thus miss out on insights that could help them get a little better inside and outside the gym.

People have also been saying they’d like me to do more shorter, multi-topic episodes, like my Q&As.

And so I got an idea: how about a “best of” series of podcasts that contains a few of the most practical and compelling ideas, tips, and moments from my most popular episodes?

This way, people who are new to the show can quickly determine if it’s for them or not, and those who enjoy what I’m doing but don’t have the time or inclination to listen to all of my stuff can still benefit from the discussions and find new episodes to listen to.

So, in this installment of The Best of Muscle for Life, you’ll be hearing hand-picked morsels from three episodes:

Eric Helms on the Ketogenic Diet for Building Muscle

(Originally published 2/13/2019)

Q&A: How Many Calories Should You Eat to Lose Fat? (And More!)

(Originally published 11/7/2018)

Book Club: Getting Things Done by David Allen

(Originally published 8/18/2017)

And we’ll be starting with number one, Eric Helms on the ketogenic diet for building muscle.

Lastly, if you want to support the show, please drop a quick review of it over on iTunes. It really helps! 


3:57 – Eric Helms on the Ketogenic Diet for Building Muscle

10:30 – How Many Calories Should You Eat to Lose Fat? (And More!)

14:34 – Book Club: Getting Things Done by David Allen

Mentioned on the Show:

Legion VIP One-on-One Coaching

What did you think of this episode? Have anything else to share? Let me know in the comments below!


Hey there, and welcome to another episode of Muscle for Life. I’m your host, Mike Matthews. Thank you for joining me today. And if this is not your first muscle for life experience, if you have come back for more, go ahead and subscribe to the show in whatever app you are listening to me in, because one, it’ll make sure you don’t miss any new episodes.

They will get queued up for you either downloaded automatically. Or you will be notified of new episodes. Depends on which app you’re using or both. And it will help me because whenever somebody subscribes, it adds to the ranking juice. So as more and more people subscribe to The show ranks higher and higher in the various charts, and that of course, helps new listeners find their way to meet when they go looking for a popular fitness podcast to check out.

All right, so in this episode, you are going to be hearing hand picked morsels from three of the more popular episodes that I have recorded in the last couple of years. And they are an interview I did with Eric Helms on the ketogenic diet for Building Muscle, a q and a monologue that I did where I answered somebody’s question about how many calories you should eat to lose fat.

And a book club monologue where I share key takeaways from a book I liked and some of my thoughts on each of those key takeaways. And this one was on the book, Getting Things Done by David. Also, if you like what I’m doing here on the podcast and elsewhere, definitely check out my v i p one on one coaching service because my team and I have helped people of all ages and all circumstances lose fat, build muscle, and get into the best shape of their life faster than they ever thought.

And we can do the same for you. We make getting fitter, leaner, and stronger, paint by numbers simple by carefully managing every aspect of your training and your diet for you. Basically, we take out all of the guesswork, so all you have to do is follow the plan and watch your body change day after day, week after week, and month after.

What’s more, we’ve found that people are often missing just one or two crucial pieces of the puzzle, and I’d bet a shiny shackle, it’s the same with you. You’re probably doing a lot of things right, but dollars to donuts, there’s something you’re not doing correctly or at all. That’s giving you the most grief.

Maybe it’s your calories or your macros. Maybe it’s your exercise selection. Maybe it’s your food choices. Maybe you’re not progressively overloading your muscles or maybe it’s something else, and whatever it is, here’s what’s important. Once you identify those one or two things you’re missing, once you figure it.

That’s when everything finally clicks, that’s when you start making serious progress. And that’s exactly what we do for our clients. To learn more, head over to That’s bwi and schedule your free consultation call. Which by the way, is not a high pressure sales call. It’s really just a discovery call where we get to know you better and see if you’re a good fit for the service.

And if you’re not for any reason, we will be able to share resources that’ll point you in the right direction. So again, if you appreciate my work and if you want to see more of it, and if you also want to finally stop spinning your wheels and make more progress in the next few. Then you did in the last few years.

Check out my v i P coaching [email protected] All right, so let’s start with the highlights from the interview I did with Eric Helms on the ketogenic diet for building muscle. If you were to sit down and try to do a research review of all the studies on, let’s say, resistance trained or strength training athletes paired ketogenic diets to normal diets, you’d have a handful of studies, but on balance, they, they don’t look too great for at least the goal of putting on muscle mass.

There’s been a number of ones that have been published recently, so Vargus at all 2018. This was a study. Where they compared two groups, one following a more traditional diet and the other group following a ketogenic diet with the goal to put them on a slight surplus, have ’em weight trained and get bigger.

And the ketogenic diet group actually lost body fat and on average lost a nonsignificant amount of body weight and had no change in muscle mass. Now that’s interesting cause that’s not all bad. And this kind of goes hand in hand with some other research on the ketogenic diet where we’ve seen that independent of protein intake, although the protein intake is probably a big part of it as well.

People tend to reduce their energy intake when they start on a ketogenic diet. And this can last for around a month or. I think this is part of the reason why you get a lot of anecdotal reports of success with ketogenic diet is that it typically, one, you’re cutting out one of the three major macronutrients, so both your fat and protein typically go up, so you’re gonna see better muscle retention compared to a poor diet where you’re trying to lose weight.

Or you just starve yourself and do a lot of cardio. So on top of having higher protein and probably greater lean body mass retention compared to what someone had done in the past, they’re also getting a suppression of hunger from that higher protein intake. And just the fact that it’s a ketogenic diet.

Something about the ketogenic diet initially does seem to consistently suppress hunger above and beyond just having a higher protein intake. So it feels like the diet’s. Whether or not a ketogenic diet is effective depends on a lot of things for someone. And it’s not simply, hey, carbs are what fuel exercise and if you cut out carbs, everything’s gonna go to shit and it’s overly restrictive diet.

It’s bad. I think there are some problems and that’s why we’ve had this lashback against them in our community, but we also have to recognize. Weight lifting, power lifting, body building. They’re on the extreme low end of energy expenditure for sports. And if I had to guess out of team sports or during sports or power and strength sports, who would be the most negatively affected by a low carb diet?

They would not be strength athletes. They’re probably the least likely to be negatively affected because there’s so little energy expenditure. You have to do a pretty high volume program before you’re actually negatively affected by a low carbon. And that’s why you see so many strength athletes and bodybuilders who do fine on relatively low carbohydrate diets.

I will say that you’re gonna find very few bodybuilders who do ketogenic diets. That’s the rare exception, but you’ll run into a lot of high level bodybuilders who do moderate carb diets even in the off season. And we’ve got data to back that, people are going, Hold on. Body building is relies on glycogen.

It’s primarily anaerobic. I don’t get it. It’s interesting when you switch to a higher fat, lower carb diet, it doesn’t deplete glycogen as much as you think glycogen is preserved to some degree. And also your training doesn’t deplete glycogen as much as you might think. You do a really high volume body, part specific, like 20 sets.

For an individual body part, it might only deplete glycogen, but 40% and even on. Moderate carbohydrate diet within 24 hours that’ll come back. And so unless you’re doing high volume, same muscle group every day, which is just a bad way to train it’s, it probably wouldn’t run into any issue. So the point is that you can certainly get away with moderate and moderately low carbohydrate intakes in the off season.

Probably be fine to feel your training and so long as you can get in the surplus. I see no reason why that would get in the way. But there might be something about being so low in carbohydrate that you’re ketogenic that actually interferes with the I’m also building process. And it might be just insulin levels are too chronically low.

It could interfere with some things on a cellular level that I can’t speak to confidently. But it would be interesting to see more research in this area cuz we’ve now seen consistently three studies in 2018 that I’m aware of. We’ve seen either decrements or no gain in muscle mass when there was an intended surplus.

Do you think there’s really a big benefit performance wise or muscle building wise from going, let’s say from one gram per pound per day to one and a half or maybe even two, as opposed to using those calories, otherwise more fat, more protein? , I think there can be. But on average there probably won’t be.

So if I was to make a statement based on the research, I would say it probably doesn’t matter. I would just say calories and protein and up calories when I’m in a coaching position. It’s definitely worth trying upping carbs first to see if that does improve performance, cuz uping fat probably won’t.

It can have some peripheral effects where it. Result in a slightly more beneficial hormonal environment if you’re on a pretty low fat diet, but which you probably wouldn’t be, right? If you’re lean bulking, you’re probably getting plenty of fat. Yeah, probably not. You would have, you do have to be doing that intentionally.

And I, I only bring that up because I know it’s been popular in some circles to do like low fat, high carb bulking as a way to try to minimize fat gain. And I think that can have negative side effects. There’s some research showing that if your fat’s down around. 15% of calories that can result on the lower testosterone level, whether or not that would actually translate to better muscle mass gains.

These are pretty modest differences in the research and how much that affects testosterone. So probably not much. Yeah, so in a realistic scenario, fat won’t be that low. Like you said, I would probably first try to add in some more carbohydrate and see if that had a beneficial effect on individual basis.

There’s a good chance it. But it might, and I’ve definitely been in a situation as a coach where I have seen that, and you get to find something out about that person. Oh, they do really well on a higher carb diet. They respond well to. And that’s it for Eric’s key takeaways on using the Keto Diet for Building Muscle.

And if you liked what you just heard and you wanna listen to the full interview, it was originally published in February of 2019, so you can go back and find it and check it out. All right, let’s move on now to the takeaways from the q and a. I did. On how many calories should you eat to lose? Okay, next question.

My friend says, To lose weight, I should be eating no more than 1200 calories per day. How do I know this is the right amount of calories for. And the reason why I wanted to answer this question publicly is twofold. First, to address the idea that a certain number of calories is always too low for some people, and this is usually among women.

And so what you’ll have is you’ll have, let’s say a woman who’s smaller, she’s petite and weighs 130 pounds, right? Her body fat percentage, let’s say is 25, 20 6%. She wants to get down to 20%. Nothing wrong with that. Nothing unhealthy about. But because she has a small body and doesn’t have very much muscle, even if she is muscular, they’re still in an absolute sense not going to be much muscle there because she’s small and because she is probably not spending 10 plus hours a week in the gym, she has to eat what sounds like a pretty low number of calories every day to consistently lose weight and lose.

Now for that person it may be 1200 calories, she might be able to eat a bit more, but it would probably range from 1200 to maybe 1500 calories per day. Again, depending on her basal metabolic rate, which is a bit of genetics, is in play there as well as body composition. And then of course there’s physical activity.

Now my point is some people would hear that, let’s just say it’s 1300 calories. That’s the number that allows her to lose a half a pound a week, let’s say, to maybe three quarters a pound a week. In the beginning, some people would hear that and they would say, Oh, those are poverty calories. Poverty macros.

You should never eat. Never have to eat fewer than 1500 calories a day to lose weight, starvation, dieting, blah, blah, blah. No, they’re wrong. Some people, especially small people, Who don’t have a lot of muscle and who aren’t tremendously active, they don’t get to eat very many calories when they wanna lose weight, and even if they’re just shooting for the standard, you know about 1%, about a half a percent to 1% of your body weight per week.

For some women, that does mean eating 13, 1400 calories per day, whereas others who are larger or more active, or who just have naturally higher metabolisms, they may be able to eat 16, 17, 1800 calories a day and lose the same amount of. Okay. How to determine how many calories you should be eating to lose weight.

First I’m gonna mention that I have an article that you may [email protected]. If you search for calories, you will find it. It’s titled something along the lines of how to know how many calories you should eat every day. And it has a calculator and stuff, so you may wanna go over there.

But I wanted to say here that for most people this is equally applicable to men and women. Cutting calories are going to be around 10 to 12 calories per pound of body weight per day. And so that’s a simple rule of thumb that you can use to set up your own cuts. If you wanna just keep it simple, you could start at 12 per pound, 12 calories per pound of body weight per day, and see how it goes.

Adjust accordingly. And it’s also good for judging advice that other people are giving you. So if somebody is telling you to eat 15 calories per pound of body weight per day when cutting, it’s not going to work. Unless you are tremendously active, it’s not going to work. And on the other hand, if somebody’s telling you to eat seven or eight calories per pound of body weight per day to cut, that’s unnecessary.

That is, that would be starvation, dieting. That’s where I would even say nobody needs to go that. All right. That’s it for the highlight reel from the q and a episode on how many calories you should need to lose fat. And if you wanna go listen to that whole monologue that was originally published in November of 2018, so you can go find it and listen to it.

Okay. Let’s move on to the third and final episode. Featured, or these snippets from. Episode featured in this episode, and that is the book club that I did on getting things done by David Allen. So if you would like to know how to get more done every day with less worry, confusion, and stress, then you should read this book.

I’ve read quite a few books on productivity and have quite a bit of work experience, and unlike many of those books, one of the things I like about getting things done is it’s not so much about changing behaviors, attitudes, or. Instead, it’s really just about getting organized and , it’s ironic because I think the book itself was actually rather poorly organized and it’s far too dry and long winded, which is pretty standard for these types of books, but it is worth the slog.

The premise of the book is simple. The more organized your mind, work, and life is, the easier it’s going to be for you to do all the things that you need to. To get the results that you really want. This book doesn’t just talk about these things either. It provides you with a simple system that you can immediately implement and see how the principles work for you.

Let’s now go over my five key takeaways. So here’s the first one. There’s always more to do than you can do, and you can only do one thing at a time. The key is to feel as good about what you are not doing as about what you are doing at that moment. And my note here, One of the biggest secrets to high productivity is simply doing what you’re doing when you’re doing it.

This is why multitasking sucks. We know that empirically, scientifically, it sucks. It just makes you less effective and makes you more stressed out, and this is also why the inability to. Fully concentrate on one task for long periods of time makes it more or less impossible to produce a lot of high quality work.

Number two, I suggest that you use your mind to think about things rather than think of them. You want to be adding value as you think about projects. Not creating stress by simply reminding yourself that they exist and that you need to do something about them. So my note here is you might be surprised at just how much energy and attention that you waste every day on maintaining a mental laundry list of to-dos and don’t forgets.

And remember, that’s energy and attention that could be used creatively and productively. Instead, I’ve always found that work can be both a refuge from and antidote to the chaos and complexities of life. No matter what is giving me trouble in my life, staying productive has always helped me better deal with it.

And the fifth and final takeaway is you often need to make it up in your mind before you can make it happen In. Many of us hold ourselves back from imagining a desired outcome unless someone can show us how to get there. And unfortunately, that is backward in terms of how our minds work to generate and recognize solutions and methods.

And my note here is while research shows that positive visualization may or may not actually help you accomplish your goals, there’s no question that clearly and completely outlining and envisioning your desired results before taking any. Action or even figuring out what action to take is highly beneficial.

All right, so much for the high points from the book club episode I did on getting things done, and if you want to go check out my other key takeaways from that book and my other thoughts on the topic, you can find the original episode published back in August of 2017. I hope you liked this episode.

I hope you found it helpful, and if you did subscribe to the show. 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 have. Ideas or suggestions or just feedback to share. Shoot me an email, mike muscle for, muscle f or and let me know what I could do better or just 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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