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Today’s Health Upgrade
The ketogenic diet and building muscle
Nitro is back
Recipe of the week
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Many people love the idea of the ketogenic diet because it provides a simple framework for eating. Cut the carbs, eat a lot of fat, some protein, and watch your body change. It makes it seem like there are no boundaries on how much you need to eat, but that's not the case.
As we shared previously, keto can support fat loss, but research suggests it is not superior for fat loss when calories and protein are equal. In other words, if you eat more carbs but still control your calories, you'll lose as much weight as you would following a lower-carb plan with the same number of calories.
This has left many of you wondering if keto is better for gaining muscle.
Scientists investigated that question and found that the ketogenic diet is not better than other diets adding muscle mass.
That’s not to say that keto can’t work for building muscle. The researchers found that it was effective, but when compared to moderate- or high-carb diets — and calories were equal — there was no advantage. And other research suggests that eating a moderate- or higher-carb diet helps training performance, which could lead to more muscle.
Remember, when picking a diet, there’s no need to get sucked into deciding which diet is best. Research shows that the diet you can stick with the longest is the one that will deliver results. That’s why we focus on plans designed for real life and provide flexibility.
Sometimes, that means asking what foods you enjoy most, finding a way to keep those, and then building healthy habits around the foods you want. Dieting does not have to be all about restriction because that tends to result in frustration and failure. If you love pasta, cutting carbs will only work for a little bit until your cravings catch up with you. When you pick a sustainable diet that doesn’t require perfection, you’re setting yourself up for a higher likelihood of success without all the stress.
Nitro Is Back
One of my favorite aspects of being Netflix’s Chief Action Officer is sharing the habits and routines of the stars of different shows. A new docuseries about American Gladiators is coming out on Netflix (you can watch the trailer here). One of the featured gladiators is Nitro (Dan Clark), who also happens to be a member of the village. I reached out to Dan to share some of his health tips.
What's one action/item you've recently added to your daily routine that keeps you healthy?
I started making my sleep routine as important as my workout and eating routine. I used to be a guy that lived by the saying, “I’ll sleep when I’m dead.” But after reading the science and literature about the importance of sleep, it’s become as important to me as my workouts. I use the Oura ring to track my sleep.
I also purchased a cold plunge this past year. In addition to all the health benefits like reduced stress, better sleep, and improved recovery, I also use it as a mental strengthening and motivational tool. I figure if I can make myself get into freezing water when I don't want to, then I can make myself do anything. It's part of training my mind to do hard things.
What's one thing you do every single day to strengthen your mental health?
Reveri – It's a hypnosis app backed by science from Stanford professor of psychiatry Dr. David Sinclair. Visualization has been the backbone of any success I’ve had. I’ve been practicing it since I was 14 years old, and it has completely transformed my life. I use Reveri specifically to help with procrastination, eating healthy, and achieving my goals.
As cliché as it sounds, I developed a unique gratitude practice following my heart attack ten years ago (I wrote a book about the experience). Before the heart attack, I always searched for happiness and only allowed myself to feel happy when I had accomplished a major goal. This new practice centers around finding and embracing small everyday moments of beauty that might have slipped by me in the past. I’ve learned that shining a light on these small moments is the pathway to happiness.
Do you have a health routine? If so, what is it, and how often and when do you do it?
I’ve got to move every day. It has become so ingrained in my identity that I can’t imagine living a life where I’m not moving, lifting, or competing, regardless of whether it’s weights, cardio, martial arts, cycling, or playing pickleball. It’s just who I trained myself to be.
In training for American Gladiators, did you learn any workout or strength/agility techniques you've continued to do?
Before American Gladiators, I came from a football background. A lot of the skills that make you a good Gladiator also make you a good football player. Weights, sprints, agility, and practicing movement patterns you use in competition. I still pray at the pulpit of iron a few times a week. I believe nothing on the planet gives you that muscular look more than weightlifting. I still deadlift, bench, and squat. But at 59, I don’t lift as heavy anymore. Now, it’s more about the quality of the movement and time under tension. I’ve also incorporated more bodyweight exercises, along with mobility and yoga.
Recipe of the week
Here’s a fun one since it’s summer and people are grilling. I love carne asada, and you can make this recipe fast. And who doesn’t love tacos?
Small tortillas (I like corn, and my wife likes flour, so we compromise by getting flour most of the time)
2 Serrano or jalapeño peppers
2 garlic cloves
Salt and pepper
Tablespoon of olive oil
(Chef’s Tip from Daniel: If you want to speed this up, and you live in a border state like me or have a local carniceria, buy the pre-marinated carne asada there).
Squeeze the orange and limes into a zip-loc bag. Chop the peppers, cilantro (put aside half of it for later), and garlic and add to the juice. Add a teaspoon of chili powder (more if you love spice), salt and pepper, and a tablespoon of olive oil. Mix it up and throw in the skirt steak, making sure you keep mixing to cover it. Leave it for at least an hour.
Fire up the grill, and while it is getting hot (really hot), chop your onion roughly and put it in a bowl next to your remaining cilantro.
Once the grill is hot, put your marinated meat on it. It cooks fast, I never look at temp on skirt steak. I shoot for a good char, and it normally takes 3-5 minutes per side, depending on whose grill it is and how hot it gets. Flip it after 3 minutes, and pull it when you have a good char, but the meat is still shedding juice and bending when you flip (you aren’t leaving the grill much). If I did use a thermometer, I’d shoot for 135.
Pull the meat and put it on a cutting board to rest, and throw your tortillas on the grill. They take less than a minute per side to warm up; if you’ve got flames, you might need a few seconds.
Chop your meat into half-inch pieces (but don’t stress over the size) after it has rested for 5 minutes. For each taco, I throw in a handful of meat, a sprinkle of cilantro, and white onion. Have hot sauce available for anyone who wants it. Avocado slices work too! So does Greek yogurt as sour cream. Top it however you want.
Chef’s Tip #2: Make it low-carb
I will start doing this because I eat a lot of carbs, but I know many of our villagers (like Dave) don’t, and I don’t want you guys left out. This version is simple. You make everything as is but drop the tortillas. Instead of tortillas, take two heads of romaine lettuce, drizzle olive oil, and throw them on the grill until slightly wilted and blackened. Chop up and top with your carne asada and taco toppings of choice. If you’ve never had grilled romaine, trust me. You won’t go back.