If you want to fully maximize your workout, I highly recommend incorporating two things into your fitness routine: consuming high-quality whey protein and measuring your body fat percentage.
Whey Protein Complements Your Workout Routine
I've always underscored the importance of complementing your fitness routine with proper nutrition. One of the best products that can provide you with a wide array of nutrients and support your fitness and muscle-building goals is high-quality whey protein.
Whey protein is the perfect "fitness food" because it contains not only high-quality protein, but also extremely high amounts of leucine, a part of branched-chain amino acid that serves multiple functions in your body. Leucine signals the mTOR (Mammalian Target of Rapamycin) mechanism to increase protein synthesis to help build your muscle.1
When choosing a high-quality whey protein, find a product that uses whey protein concentrate and not whey protein isolate.
Whey protein isolates are made from pasteurized dairy and processed with heat and acid. They are devoid of nutritional cofactors including alkalizing minerals, naturally occurring vitamins, and lipids, which are lost in the processing. Find a whey protein product that fits these requirements:
- Organic (hormone-free)
- Made from unpasteurized raw milk from pasture-fed cows
- Cold-processed — heat processing destroys whey's fragile molecular structure
- Minimally processed
- Rich, creamy, and full flavor
- Naturally sweetened and free of sugar, artificial sweeteners, and other additives
- Highly digestible — it should contain medium-chain fatty acids (MCTs), not long-chain fatty acids (LCTs)2
Safe storage and the smooth, light, and lump-free consistency of your whey protein is just as important, so be picky with your protein shake bottle. Choose one that is made of BPA-free plastic, and enjoy your drink when you're on the go. For a more detailed discussion on how to choose the best whey protein, please watch this video.
But you must remember that like other good things, protein — when consumed in excess — may actually have a negative effect on your health. I learned about this in my interview with Dr. Ron Rosedale, an expert on leptin physiology. According to Rosedale, excessive protein intake can have an influence on cancer growth.3
If you consume protein in levels higher than 1 gram of protein per kilogram of LEAN body mass, your mTOR pathway will be activated and will radically increase your risk of cancers.
If you want to determine how much protein is safe for you to take, you need to find out your lean body mass. Find out your percent body fat and subtract it from 100. If you have 20 percent body fat, then your lean body mass is 80 percent, meaning your protein intake should just be between 35 and 75 grams.4 But how do you get your body fat percentage?
Introducing Cronometer, the Most Accurate Nutrient Tracker on the Market
There are a large number of nutrient trackers on the market; I believe Cronometer.com is the most accurate nutrient tracker available. Even more, it’s completely free. Its easy to-use interface and user-friendly environment allows you to get a fast and accurate overview of your diet over time.
But Cronometer does much more. It specializes in tracking over 40 micronutrients, with a focus on nutrition analysis. I have not seen other nutrient trackers maintain such a detailed nutrition database, nor provide the essential tools to review your data in great detail. It's easy and fast to input your data in the daily food log interface, which has allowed me to really fine-tune my diet to optimize my metabolic function and overall health. I believe it can do the same for you. Try it, it’s free, and see for yourself.
Calculating Your Body Fat Percentage
Body mass index (BMI) used to be the best indicator of whether a person is overweight or at risk of obesity. Now, studies are pointing out the serious flaws of this measurement tool, as it does not consider other important factors such as your bone structure and where the fat is located.
Fortunately, there is another weight measurement tool you can use: body fat percentage. Simply put, this is the percentage of fat that your body contains. The American Council on Exercise recommends this general guideline for optimal body fat percentage:5
||Women (% fat)
||Men (% fat)
||10 to 13%
||2 to 5%
||14 to 20%
||6 to 13%
||21 to 24%
||14 to 17%
||25 to 31%
||18 to 24%
Using body fat calipers is one of the most trusted and most accurate ways to measure body fat. Also called a skinfold caliper, this lightweight, handheld device can quickly and easily measure the thickness of a fold of your skin and its underlying layer of fat. Taken at three very specific locations on your body, these readings can help you estimate the total percent of body fat within your entire body. Skinfold measurement is the method most widely used by fitness trainers.
You should also measure your waist size, which is an accurate benchmark for predicting your risk of heart attack and other weight-related health problems. Visceral fat or belly fat, the fat located around your waist, is related to the release of proteins and hormones that cause inflammation, which can in turn damage your arteries and affect how you metabolize sugars and fats.
To measure your waist size, simply measure the distance around the smallest area of your abdomen, below your rib cage and above your belly button. I personally like to use an Orbitape for this, which uses even and consistent pressure to take precise measurements. The following is a general guide for healthy waist circumference:
- Men: 37 to 40 inches is overweight; greater than 40 inches is obese
- Women: 31.5 to 34.6 inches is overweight; greater than 34.6 inches is obese
In the video below, Darin Steen shares effective ways to track the success of your fitness plan other than using a scale.