In this installment of the Best of Muscle For Life, you’ll hear hand-picked clips from three popular MFL episodes: an interview with Alan Aragon on the science of healthy eating, a monologue on fish oil supplementation, and a motivational episode on what it really takes to be tough.
Some people—my favorite people—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 do at least a little better inside and outside the gym.
That’s why I do “best of” episodes that contain a few of the most practical and compelling ideas, tips, and moments from the more popular episodes I’ve published over the years. This way, you can learn interesting insights that you might have otherwise missed and find new episodes of the show to listen to.
So, in this installment of The Best of Muscle for Life, you’ll be hearing hand-picked morsels from three episodes:
And we’ll be starting with number one, Alan Aragon on the Real Science of “Healthy Eating.”
0:00 – Save up to 40% during our Halloween Sale! https://buylegion.com/
4:50 – Alan Aragon on the Real Science of “Healthy Eating”
18:49 – This Is the Definitive Guide to Fish Oil Supplementation
28:14 – Motivation Monday: The Real Secret to Toughness (Probably Isn’t What You Think)
Mentioned on the show:
Save up to 40% during our Halloween Sale! Go to buylegion.com and use coupon code MUSCLE to save 20% on any non-sale items or get double reward points!
What did you think of this episode? Have anything else to share? Let me know in the comments below!
Hello and welcome to the latest and greatest episode of Muscle For Life. I’m Mike Matthews and thank you for joining me today. Now, I have recorded hundreds of episodes of Muscle For Life, and I’ve talked about a huge variety of things related to health, fitness, lifestyle. Mindset 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. At least that’s what I tell myself. That’s what helps me sit down in the chair every day and do this, and as cool as that is. It poses a problem for you, my dear listener, especially if you are new here, and that is, ain’t nobody got time for that.
We’re talking about probably a thousand plus hours of content at this point. And while some people actually do make the time to listen to most or even. All of my podcasts, my wizzbang Analytics tell me that while many listeners tune in on a regular basis, they don’t catch every installment of Muscle for Life.
Thus, they miss out on insights that could help them get even just a little bit better inside and outside the gym. Because if you just get a little bit better, consistently enough, that can add up to. Results in the long run. And people have also been telling me that they would like me to do more shorter multi topic episodes like my q and As and says you episodes.
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 going all the way back to the beginning. This way, people who are new in particular can quickly determine if this is the droid they’re looking for, if this podcast is for them or not.
And then those who are regulars and enjoy what I’m doing, but just don’t have the time or inclination to. All of my stuff, and I do understand that I don’t take it personally. . You can also then benefit from the discussions and the episodes that you are not listening to in full. And you can also find new episodes to listen to without having to give an hour of your time to determine whether it was worth it or not.
So here we are with the best of Muscle for Life, and in this episode you’ll be hearing handpicked muscles from three episodes. The first is an interview I did with Alan Aragon on the Real Science of Healthy Eating. Then there is a monologue that I did called, This is The Definitive Guide to Fish Oil Supplementation, and finally, another.
Monologue from me called the Real Secret to Toughness. 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, or get healthy, the right ones can help.
And that’s why over 350,000 discerning fitness folk have chosen. Legion. There’s that and our 100% natural products, our clinically effective ingredients in doses and our no hassle money back guarantee. And if you check out Legion right now, you can save big on just about everything in our store because our annual Halloween sale is underway.
So head over to by legion.com. B U Y L E G I O n.com. And for the next few days, you can save up to 30% on just about everything in our store, including our protein powders, pre-workout and post-workout supplements, our fat burners, multivitamins, joint support, fish oil, and more. So skedaddle on over to buy legion.com now and save big before we run out of stock of.
Something. It happens every year. We can never forecast these things exactly or before the sale ends and it’s too late. Let’s start with the highlight reel from the first, which is the interview I did with Alan Aragon on the Real Science of Health Eating. One of the important limitations of carrying out science is that when you leave people to their own free will in free living conditions, it’s not always the same as when you’re trying to control everything in the lab.
And then the subjects are trying to avoid that degree of shame of not complying with their assignments. So that’s a really good point you make. Despite the research, I would definitely say that a healthy diet has to be compatible with your personal food preferences. Because we’re not looking at a 12 week study, we’re not looking at a six month or a 12 month study, we’re looking at a lifetime.
So health is something that really needs to be the focus for however much time that we’ve got left on Earth, which most of us is like 50 years and. Some of the more obvious stuff needs to provide adequate essential nutrition, adequate energy or calories for the goal and the preferences of the individual.
And it has to cover obviously along with that stuff, along with covering essential nutrition. It should be compatible with the athletic goals, the physical activity goals, the body composition goals. So that means a macro nutrition has to be on point. A healthy diet doesn’t have unfound. Restrictions. In other words, it doesn’t have these rules of foods that you need to avoid.
We can talk about that as well. Like for example, a lot of folks will say, Okay, what about things like sugar? What about things like trans fats and all that stuff? And there’s caveats to saying avoid sugar. And there’s caveats to saying, avoid all trans fats, because there’s little rabbit holes there that people miss that make those types of recommendations Unfounded.
I guess non-negotiable aspects of a healthy diet is it has to be sustainable. It has to be sustainable in the long term. A healthy diet is not something that you can only endure for a week or six weeks or six months, and that’s the issue that a lot of people run into when they try to build the perfect diet according to all of.
Even all of the scientific evidence base. You can try to idealize this unicorn diet that gets all of the special super foods in there and perfect amounts and avoids all of the bad guys. But once again, if you can’t sustain it, then it’s not healthy because it doesn’t mean anything.
With some people, their sense of health and fulfillment and reaching their goals as sometimes it’s simultaneous. Kind of unhealthy levels of body fat. , your energy intake has to support your goals at some people’s goals, ironically, are not that freaking healthy. It’s a weird irony there. It’s a weird paradox there.
Relative energy deficiency can manifest adverse consequences in both sexes, but with women in particular, we see the cessation of the menstrual cycle and. Leads to impacts on most concretely on, on the skeletal system. Not to mention the, lean body mass losses and various consequences of that.
But kind of the ultimate manifestation of the triad or the female athlete triad would be menstrual dysfunction, which leads to hormonal changes that affect the body’s ability to properly regulate calcium balance and bone health. It begins with disordered type of eating that’s mixed in with menstrual disruption and it can eventually turn into osteopenia and osteoporosis.
And osteoporosis in large part is super dangerous because there’s very little recourse for reversing it once you’re osteoporotic and. It’s just bad. It’s a really bad slope to slip down with women and relative energy deficiency or the female athlete try it. And obviously these detriments can manifest in men as well, but there’s a special focus on the detriment towards women because there’s a lot more concrete adverse effects that can be measured as a result of chronically not eating enough.
When you look at the different case studies of competitors, the male competi. The severe market drops in testosterone levels to below normal levels. They occur within the first three months. Okay. And if I’m recalling correctly, the drop can be pretty rapid, especially within the first month, even in talking to competitors, just interviewing them about their various levels of function.
Almost every competi. Will describe to you a feeling of a loss of Will to live within the first three months, and certainly with natural competitors who nowadays take even a longer competitive stretch, like it’s really common for Nats to map out a six month contest prep period, and it’s during the last couple of months where they just have really no natural desire for.
Over the course of time where more people started doing natural body building competition contest prep got dragged out to about six months because there was a recognition of the importance of dieting slower. So you can preserve more lean body mass, cuz the faster that you diet down, the greater your risk to lean body mass.
But then the insidious problem with dieting for six. Is the psychological impact of dieting that long and being that it’s like a war of attrition. Yeah. You’re reinforcing a certain degree of neurosis there and you’re really nurturing disordered eating when you’re, all of your judgment and all of your actions dovetail towards, Okay, am I gonna get this extra?
Fat off. Am I going to etch in those three extra striations on my glutes that aren’t just popping out? And it gets crazy, man. If you’re not competing in physique sports, then it’s what you actually would wanna do is strike a balance between the aesthetics that you’re looking for and maintaining maximal function.
And with men shooting for that. The 10 to 15% body fat, and granted there’s going to be limitations without accurate, We can actually gauge that, right? Yeah. But just putting numbers on it, that’s a good range. That’s a healthy range. On the lean side, if we’re talking about this strange and dynamic idea of preserving health, Micronutrition has to meet the individual’s goals.
If somebody doesn’t have any, necessarily have any pressing goals, they’re just existing in the general public protein can be met. I wanna say as low as 1.2 grams per kilogram of body weight, have a preference to see people consuming more than that, even though it’s published in the literature at 1.2 is fine.
I’m a bit more protein happy. I’m a bit more protein happy. Yes. I would rather people shoot for a bottom end of 1.5, 1.6 grams per kilogram a body weight. Because as people start hitting their elderly years, we’re seeing. 1.2 doesn’t necessarily cut it In the literature at large, it’s hard for people to sustain a fat, a dietary fat intake that’s 20% of total calories or less when they’re assigned it.
When they’re assigned a low fat diet, whether the target is 10 to 20%, they almost can never even hit the 20. They almost can’t sustain the 20%. It always creeps up till like high. At least 20% of calories is typically unsustainable. So that’s one aspect. And then the other aspect is when people chronically run low dietary fat intakes, it can lower testosterone, lovely.
It can lower your androgen levels. With protein, I am totally fine. Like from the nutritional standpoint, getting a variety of both animal and plant sources is probably gonna be ideal. So with animal sourced protein, You don’t have to exclusively eat highly processed meat stuffs. You don’t have to eat bacon every time you’re trying to get your protein, which is gonna be a minority of protein and a majority of fat anyway.
You don’t have to, eat cured meats and Vienna sausages all day to try to get your protein. It’s not about that with protein sources. I think that animal sources are fine as long as you’re looking at fresh animal sources, minimally process. Stuff and even some of the process stuff is fine as long as you can moderate it, but the way that you can look at protein intake with animal foods, you’ve got your usual suspects.
You’ve got your meat, fish, poultry type stuff. Pork is in there somewhere. Depending on how you wanna classify that, I think it’s perfectly fine to rotate through the day or through the week. Meat, fish and poultry. You wanna do a freaking even division of those in thirds through the week.
Great. That’s perfectly fine. I don’t think people need to fish fish, and then every once in a blue moon you can just have a steak. I think the red meat scare is overblown. I am aware of the public health recommendations for red meat, and some people might view them as too restrictive, too conservative.
It does come down to. Two to three ounces a day that the major health organizations want you to max out on with red meat intake per day. There’s the factor of drinking your calories versus eating them. And I think that a lot of people will run into problems if they just rely on protein powder to get the protein in.
And this is not saying that there’s some people. There’s nobody out there who can do it. But people in general, protein powder is a great addition to the diet, a great way to conveniently and economically get in high quality protein. But in my observations, there’s very few people who really just rely on it to get the majority of protein and still skate by and optimize.
So under that larger carb umbrella, we’ve got fruits, vegetables, and starches. And then starches have this sub umbrella where you’ve got starchy vegetables and grains. So the starchy vegetables are just to put things simply, they’re all healthy. You know all the root vegetables, and this includes legumes, so peas, beans, corn, yams, potato squash, those sort of things.
The starchy vegetable. They’re all healthy and some people will claim that they can’t tolerate some, and that’s fine. Have what you can tolerate. And then under the grains umbrella, interesting story here, Mike. You’ve got the whole grains and you’ve got refined grains, and you have the controversies surrounding that there.
So public health guidelines dictate that you try to have at least half of your grains being in equals whole. Whole grains, and then you can have the rest being refined. But that’s another slippery little rabbit hole there. But I wanna make the point here with the grain group, the grain with the most positive research behind it is oats.
oats are like the MVP grain. You do wanna. Consume fruits and vegetables, that’s a no brainer. Several servings per day, at least of the vegetables. Two to five servings of vegetables is the public health guideline for that. Two to five servings of vegetables, two to four servings of fruit.
Some literature will say two to three servings of fruit, but. It really depends on the fruit. Okay, So fruits and vegetables, eat ’em, starchy vegetables, all healthy, eat ’em. And that includes legumes with grains. There’s a little bit of a dichotomy there between the refined stuff and the whole stuff.
And then you’ve got MVP being oats. And then there’s another sub argument there with white rice versus brown rice. The differences are too minuscule to matter between brown rice and white rice. If you prefer brown, eat it. If you prefer white rice, eat it. If you eat enough rice, In your diet for that to actually matter, then your diet is wrong.
If you want to optimize health, I would have to say that of all the food groups under the carb umbrella, fruits, vegetables, starchy vegetables and grains, I would say that grains are probably the most expendable with the exception of oats, cuz they’re the freaking mvp. All right, so dietary fat and health.
There, there’s been this eons long controversy. Oversaturated fat and unsaturated fat. There are unsaturated fats that are. Vilified just as much as the saturated fats might be. But if we’re just gonna boil things down to sources now. Foods that are fat rich that have the greatest support in the scientific literature for health effects are, If I could just rattle ’em off, we’ve got nuts.
As far as oils go, olive of oil appears to be the king. Sesame oil does really well too, avocados, and if you get those fat sources in the diet regularly, then you’re gonna be doing almost everything we know to be beneficial for health. As far as fat sources go, most people who are in a HypoChlor. We’re dieting to lose weight, lose fat.
Most of those people are gonna run a range of micronutrient deficient. At least insufficiencies. Their diet’s gonna be pretty imbalanced. It just is what it is gonna be imbalanced. And you know what, man? Even the most well planned diets, you trying to hit all the points on the spectrum with food groups, this and that, you’re still gonna come.
In one or more are several essential micronutrients. So long story short, Mike, I am not at all against taking a multi, just as a prophylactic measure. Just do it because the literature showing harm from multis is laughable. The literature showing benefit from taking a regular, like moderately dosed multi of all the essentials, the benefits outweigh the risks by a long.
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 big 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. That’s it for some of my favorite snippets from the interview I did with Alan Aragon on the Real Science of Healthy Eating. And if you want to listen to that full, I.
You can find it back in February of 2021. And let’s move on now to the featured moments from a monologue I did on fish oil supplementation. Most people don’t know that popular sources of fish oil are salmon, herring, mackerel, sardines, and anchovies. And so if you like to eat those types of fish, you actually can remove the need for a fish oil supplement by just eating enough servings of.
Fatty fish like those every week. Now, that’s also the reason why fish oil is a very popular supplement. Most people don’t want to eat several servings of those types of fish every week. And then you also have to take into account pollutants. In fish and mercury in particular. You wanna make sure that you are not exceeding a healthy level of mercury intake.
And of course, it’s best to avoid it all together. But if you’re going to eat fish really of any kind, you can’t. Completely. You just wanna stick to low mercury fish. Now, EPA and DHA are known as omega-3 fatty acids, and that just refers to their physical structure. And our body can’t produce these molecules, and that’s why they’re also known as essential fatty acids.
So if we were to completely remove these substances from our diet, if our body was not getting. At all whatsoever. Eventually, we would die. When you maintain sufficient plasma blood, epa, DHA levels, there are many different ways that you benefit from this, including reducing the risk of heart disease, stroke and type two diabetes, decreasing systemic inflammation, improving mood, cognitive performance, and brain.
Helping prevent weight gain, optimizing fat loss when you’re cutting and even accelerating muscle growth. Research shows that a combined intake of 500 milligrams to about 1.8 grams of EPA and DHA per day is adequate, but you can get additional benefits with more up to even an intake of about six grams combined.
Not each, but. Per day. And unfortunately, studies show that the average person’s diet here in the West provides just one 10th of the amount of EPA and DHA that’s needed to just preserve health and prevent disease. Now, research shows that EPA and DHA promote cardiovascular health in several ways.
Including anti-inflammatory effects, the inhibition of platelets, triglyceride lowering effects, improvement and endothelial function, plaque stabilization and antiarrhythmic effects. It’s a pretty long list, and interestingly, research shows that the reduction in risk of heart disease appears to be unique to EPA and dha.
We also know that maintaining sufficient EPA and DHA intake, and again, fish oil is just a great way to do that, reduces risk factors associated with a particularly nasty metabolic disease called metabolic syndrome, which is a clustering of related risk factors for both cardiovascular disease and type two diabetes, including insulin resistance, hypertension, hypertriglyceridemia, decreased hdl, cholesterol levels, and obesity.
No fun. And another well established benefit of omega-3 fatty acids related to inflammation is reducing joint pain and joint inflammation. And that’s why studies show that fish oil is an effective joint supplement, and especially if you take enough fish oil can also improve your mood. It can improve symptoms of depression, of anxiety and stress.
And scientists have isolated several mechanisms that are respons. For these benefits, And the first one is what we just talked about, the reduction of inflammation, which also has positive effects in the brain. And another is the influence of omega-3 fatty acids on brain derived neurotrophic factor, which is a protein that protects the health and enhances the function of the brain.
So now let’s talk about dosing. How much do you need to take? And that depends on your goal. I mentioned earlier that if you just wanna stay healthy, a combined intake of 500 milligrams to 1.8 grams of EPA in DHA per day is sufficient. And that means that if you’re gonna take a supplement, you need to make sure you look at how much EPA and DHA is provided in every serving because it will vary.
Product to product. Now, if you want to reduce muscle soreness and possibly reduce joint pain, you’re gonna want to take more. You’re gonna want a combined intake. Combined intake of EPA and DHA of about three to six grams per day. Three grams is enough in many people, but some people need to take up to six grams a day to see those types of benefits.
And I don’t recommend taking. More than that. Now, as far as when to take fish oil, you can really take it whenever you want, but it’s best taken with meals because that’ll help improve the absorption and it’ll prevent the nasty fish oil burbs. Now, let’s talk about the. Type of fish oil because there are three primary forms on the market today.
You have triglyceride, you have yl ester, and you have reified triglyceride. And a triglyceride is simply a molecule that consists of three fatty acids and one molecule of glycerol, which is just a colorless, odorless substance that’s found in fats and oils. And so the triglyceride form of fish oil is the natural unprocessed.
Form. Now, out of those forms, you’d probably assume that the natural one is the best, right? The triglyceride supplement is the best, and triglyceride fish oil is good. Research shows that it’s absorbed well by the body, but it also can have much higher levels of contaminants than Ethel Ester and reified triglyceride oils.
And so the last form that we haven’t discussed yet is the best, and that is the reified triglyceride oil, which is. Considered the gold standard of fish oil supplements currently because it has a very high bio availability. It has very high concentrations of EPA and dha. It has very low levels of toxins and pollutants.
It also is fairly resistant to oxidation, so it stays good longer. I would say that the ideal fish oil supplement would look like this. It would be sourced exclusively from low toxicity. Fish and it would be a reified triglyceride oil that has been processed to remove impurities and toxins and to concentrate the amount of EPA and DHA in each serving and to deliver maximum bioavailability so our body can use as much of the EPA and DHA in the supplement as possible.
I also think that we, consumers should care about how the fish are being harvest. Because there are several common fishing practices that are very destructive to the population and the habitats of not just fish, but marine life in general. The good news though is we don’t need to destroy ecosystems, to get our food and get our supplements.
And as consumers, we can make a difference by supporting well-managed, sustain. Fisheries, and that’s what I’m doing in my sports nutrition company Legion. I have a fish oil supplement called Triton. So if you are one of the rare people who eats a lot of fatty fish, and ideally it would be a lot of non predatory fatty fish, cuz those are gonna be the lowest in contaminants.
So I’m talking about several servings of this fish per. Or if you’re one of the rare people who eats a lot of ala, you might not benefit from a fish oil supplement. You might not need it. But if you are like me, and like most people, that’s not the case. You don’t eat that much seafood and you don’t eat that much fatty fish, non predatory, and you don’t eat very high amounts of vegetable.
Nut oils, for example. And in that case, you can rest assured that your EPA and D H A levels are lower than you want them to be if you’re not currently taking a fish oil supplement. And in that case, if you do start taking one, you can enjoy a wide variety. Benefits ranging from reducing the risk of developing different types of disease and dysfunction.
You can decrease inflammation in the body. You can elevate mood and cognitive performance and brain health, and you can even improve your body composition. You can even get a bit more bang for your diet and workout. Buck, and that’s why if I could just take one supplement, if there was only one, it would probably be a tossup between vitamin D and fish oil.
It really is that helpful. And that’s it for some of the highlights from the monologue I did on fish oil supplementation. If you want to listen to the whole thing, you can find it in June of 2020. Let’s move on now to the final episode. Featured in this episode, which is a monologue I did called The Real Secret to Toughness.
Toughness comes from something that is much less obvious, and I think that it really is represented by a very non-serious thing. A smile that I think is real toughness, not simply bearing the cross, but doing so cheerfully, not just holding back your complaints, but viewing. The current predicament that you’re in as an opportunity to find some sort of joy to learn a lesson to move forward in some way.
It’s choosing to invest your emotions in what you can take away from the experience, no matter how slight or consoling and. The person that can do this, the opponent who can smile at your worst is the one that is feared the most because he’s the hardest to beat. His smug grin silently mocks every mistake and shrugs off every successful strike when things go bad.
The last thing that. Usually feel unless something is wrong is cheer. We mope, we solk, we growl. Or at least that’s what we want to do. That’s how we feel. We might wonder why us? Why now? Why here? Most of us do not want to smile. This can be changed though. You can recalibrate your perceptions and your expectations and interpretations.
The reality is only the toughest. People survive the rigors of existence, and even they have a time of it. It is hard. It is difficult. It takes nonstop effort, nonstop work, and a bottomless reserve of resilience. Nature smiles at the economic, political, and social devices that we have erected to try to change these rules and escape their commotion and in time.
These futile attempts to shift the pressures of life off of our backs and onto the backs of others. Will fail. They always have in history and they always will. So know this, you are going to face many situations in your life that are going to call for toughness, and how you respond to those situations is going to shape your character and your destiny in very profound ways.
There are going to be points where you’re gonna have to. Are you going to keep pursuing that goal despite the obstacles? Or are you gonna decide that it’s really more than you can handle? Are you going to let your opponent have his way with you, or are you going to fight back and win? And ultimately, if you do lose, are you going to at least go down swinging?
Are you going to give into what is immediate and gratifying, or are you going to sacrifice that for the future? Are you going to sacrifice your present self for your future self? Because remember, no matter how ugly things get, there’s always something you can do about it, and there’s always something you can smile about, even if it’s just the simple fact that you’re still in the game and you still can make a go at it.
This, I think, is one of the secrets to not getting demotivated. I know it’s something that has. Me tremendously with motivation. I rarely get demotivated because I rarely allow anything to demotivate me. It doesn’t take that much motivation to keep going when nothing really demotivates you because you simply choose to not be affected by it.
You simply choose to laugh at it and to reject. As your knee jerk response and then figure out how to deal with it. Once you get beyond the woe is me, then you can really do something. And so it goes with every area of life. Every aspect of living is gonna hit you at some point. Hopefully not all at once, cuz that can be a bit trying, but you’re gonna get hit from various sectors going through life and how you respond to those blows is everything.
All right, friend. That wraps up the highlight reel from the Real Secret to Toughness, and if you wanna listen to the whole episode, I published it back in March of 2018. 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 have. 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 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 soon.