The Powerlifting Episode w/Kelli Michelle

As always, please like, subscribe, leave a rating and review for the Bodkast on itunes here. Enjoy! Thanks for listening.

We dive deep into many different aspects of powerlifting such as current trends in strength sports, macro tracking for powerlifters, and suggestions on how to make weight effectively, among many other topics! I think you’ll enjoy this episode whether or not you’re a powerlifter as we go over a lot of interesting and informative things. I hope you enjoy!

Show notes:
0:00 Introduction
1:39 Why should people do powerlifting?
5:45 Defining what the Wilks Score is
6:27 Shoutout to Bret Contreras!
6:40 Kelli’s start in coaching powerlifters
9:25 The impact of levers on certain lifts
10:20 The stigma surrounding strength sports for women is fading
12:00 The psychological pros & cons of powerlifting
14:20 The community aspect of strength sports
15:10 Nutrition specifics for powerlifters
18:00 Carb back-loading as a strategy to optimize energy for training
20:00 Does it matter if someone uses carbs or fat as a fuel source?
22:00 Should powerlifters track macros?
23:40 Accounting for the menstrual cycle with athletes
25:50 The effect of sodium on making weight for a competition
27:40 Water intake for making weight
29:35 Fiber intake for making weight and its effect on bloating
32:00 There are many factors that can affect weight gain/loss
39:51 Kelli’s excessive program as a beginner (don’t do this)
42:20 Kelli’s diet transition from aesthetics to strength sports
45:20 How can someone identify a good coach to work with?
49:50 The growing trend of women adopting strength sports
53:20 Helping clients understand the value of tracking
59:00 Should general population clients track macros?

5 Ways To Fight Hunger Cravings

Why the hell can we not stay full during the day? I talk to and overhear a lot of conversations that involve being hungry from busy students or professionals who are at work many hours of the day. What can they do to ensure they stay away from the vending machines at work or on campus or the shitty dining hall/cafeteria food? There’s a few things you can start doing to stave off those hunger cravings.

1: Plan Your Food, Foo

I can’t stress enough how valuable it is to plan your meals ahead of time. Bodybuilders and gym bros/bras have it right with bringing tupperwares of food with them. Now, it isn’t necessary to bring 50 meals with you for an afternoon of work. One large meal should be fine. Take some time either the night before or a few days before to prepare food for the next day or upcoming week.

When you’re prepping, make sure you’re aware of the shelf-life of the food you’re preparing. Chicken is only good for a few days (I never personally go past 3 days) after cooking. Rice and beans last a bit longer, so those are good options.  This link shows a great chart for a wide assortment of foods in terms of their storage life fresh, frozen, cooked, etc. Refer to that link if you’re unsure!

2: A Balanced Meal is King

Having a good mix of protein, carbs, and fat in your meal(s) will provide the best bang for your buck. You get a whole mix of nutrients and can fight off cravings by planning smart! For example, having a carb source that is high in fiber (vegetables, legumes, whole grain bread, etc.) with plant protein or lean meat topped off with a quality fat like avocado (which also has fiber) or canola/olive oil will put you in a great position in terms of feeling full for a long time and getting a lot of nutrients in a short time.

Having a balanced meal also just looks better and tastes better from an aesthetics and palatability standpoint. Having different colors, textures, and tastes in the meal elevates the taste, which is so important. Try it for yourself, and you’ll see even just preparing the food gets you excited to eat it.

3: Fiber, dammit!

I will talk about fiber until the day I die. This is such an important nutrient not only for general health (it helps to lower the risk for heart disease, diabetes, and cancer¹), but it also helps to keep you full and satisfied! If you want to learn more about the intricacies of fiber and why it helps you stay full, read my original post about fiber here.

Fiber is a pretty simply nutrient you can start including in your diet right now. If you’re prepping your food already, you can often exchange the carb sources in the meal for a whole grain or higher fiber option. For example, if you made a sandwich, shoot for the 100% whole grain bread. There’s a difference between 100% whole grain and 12-grain products. 12-grain products are often a hybrid between white bread and whole grain. If whole grain, wheat, etc. is available, go for that for fullness. If not, 12-grain isn’t a bad option.

Fiber is also found in fruits and veggies (why do you think we’re always encouraging you to eat them??). In the position stand by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, they have a great chart outlining a whole bunch of common foods that contain fiber. It’s too long for me to embed here, otherwise I would. Check it out for yourself.

If you’re going out with friends or colleagues, look for options with whole grain bread, fruit, or a side of veggies to increase the fiber and satiety you get from that meal. You can also typically find fiber in protein bars like Quest bars or Complete Cookies. It’s very easy now to get fiber in your diet!

4: Protein!!!!

Protein isn’t just for people who go to the gym or the bro who downs a gallon of protein shake. Protein is known as the most satiating macronutrient compared with carbs and fat². Having high protein meals will absolutely help with feelings of fullness and feeling and staying full between meals. You can even double dip and eat foods that are high in protein AND fiber! Then you’re really winning! For example, legumes (beans, lentils, peas, soybeans, etc.) are high in fiber and contain a good amount of protein as well.

Adding protein to your meals (while minimizing the amount of fat that comes from the protein) will keep cravings at bay all day (See what I did there?).

5: Don’t Be Afraid of a Big Meal

Just because a meal is large and may contain a lot of calories (yes, “healthy” food can have a lot of calories) does not mean in any way, shape or form, that is going to make you fat or that it’s “unhealthy”. As a species, we require calories to survive and thrive. Unfortunately, we can’t always eat whenever we freely want to. This should not deter you from eating a bird’s portion when you do get the chance to eat because you’r afraid of gaining weight. If you haven’t eaten all day, chances are you can have a hefty meal and be fine.

Plus, if you’re following these guidelines when having that one meal (balanced, has fiber and protein, etc.), then you may not even eat it all because it will fill you up before you’re finished! My own meals fill up a medium-sized tupperware up to the lid, but I’m okay with it because I know to reach my goals that I need to eat! Food is your friend, let it help you!

What have you done to fight cravings throughout the day? Share below and help someone else! Thanks for reading!


¹Dahl, W., & Stewart, M. (2015). Position of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics: Health Implications of Dietary Fiber. 115(11), 1861.

²Gerstein, Woodward-Lopez, Evans, Kelsey, & Drewnowski. (2004). Clarifying concepts about macronutrients’ effects on satiation and satiety. Journal of the American Dietetic Association, 104(7), 1151-1153.

Bro Science: 1 Science: 0.5 (The Mind Muscle Connection)

It’s been a long thought among the bodybuilding community that, in order to maximize GAINZZZZ (aka hypertrophy), you need to establish a “mind-muscle connection”. What that means is the person who is performing the exercise is actively “thinking” about contracting the muscle as opposed to simply going through the motions. Now, in 2018, there is empirical evidence to support this idea.

The concept has long been touted by bodybuilders such as Kai Greene and Arnold Schwarzenegger (pictured here) that it’s essential to eek out those small, fine details of building muscle. Interestingly, last year at the International Society of Sports Nutrition Conference that was held in Phoenix, Arizona was the first time I heard about this study. Brad Schoenfeld, the lead researcher and OG of muscle science, talked for a short time about the findings of the study; however, since research takes a long time to publish, it was only recently made publicly available. So here we are! Let’s see what the study said!

To begin, let’s talk about where this idea fits in the scope of science. The broader term for this concept of mind-muscle connection is known as “Attentional Focus”¹. This is simply what floats through people’s minds while performing a task. It’s broken down further into an External and Internal focus¹. In a hypertrophy and bodybuilding context, an internal focus is what we consider the mind-muscle connection. It’s thinking about squeezing the working muscle and contracting it as hard as you can to “maximize gainz”. An external focus, the way I see it, is more motivational/supportive in that either yourself or someone else is keeping you focused on the outcome of the exercise¹. In this study, external focus was enforced by a trainer instructing the lifter to “Get the weight up!”, so you can see that it’s more focused on finishing the lift and completing the exercise as opposed to the muscle contraction¹.

“Okay, but how did they do it?”

Great question! The researchers took 30 males who were untrained (meaning they don’t normally exercise) and put them through 3 day/week training sessions for 8 weeks straight of barbell bicep curls and leg extensions (these exercises are easy to measure and isolate the muscles being studied)¹. As mentioned earlier, both internal and external groups were given different cues by the trainers depending on which group they were in (“squeeze the muscle!”) vs. (“get the weight up you weenie!”[no participants were called weenies during this study])¹.

Biceps and quadriceps muscles were tested to by an ultrasound machine for muscle thickness (MT)¹. MT is an indicator of muscle growth.

Side note: Could you imagine only doing curls and leg extensions 3 times a week for 8 weeks straight? I personally would get so bored! Applause to these guys who did it, because that sounds boring to me.

“So they made them do this boring routine..what happened?”

What happened next may shock you! (Are you tired of those headlines like I am?)

After the trial, the participants saw some interesting results. In the biceps, the internal focus group saw greater increases in hypertrophy over the external focus group¹ via increased MT. The study also found what was called a large effect size favoring the internal group for the biceps muscles¹. A large effect size basically reinforces that the cause of the increase in hypertrophy is actually because of the internal focus rather than something else.

The quadriceps muscles observed did not differ greatly in hypertrophy between both groups¹.

“But WTF does any of this mean?”

It means that the bodybuilders were right! However, this is only one study that has tested the mind-muscle connection theory in this manner with the machines and methods that they did. Nevertheless, this is exciting to see that the concept of actively thinking about contracting and “squeezing” your muscles may have some validity to it! Next time you’re in the gym doing some curls, benching, or leg curls, stop listening to your music and have that voice in your head (I know I’m not the only one) tell you to SQUEEZE!!! Try it for yourself! You may get more gainzzz that way.

A word of warning though: from my own experiences playing with this, I have had to use a lighter weight because the concentration does make the exercise feel harder, so you may want to try with a lighter weight than you normally do.

As for why there were no differences in the groups for the quadriceps muscles, the researchers offered a potential explanation for this phenomenon: Lower-limb muscles are not used for small, meticulous, and fine movements like muscles in the upper limbs are (think careful movements with your fingers and how precise you can be with the muscles and actions of them)¹.

We don’t have that precise control over our leg muscles like we do the muscles in our upper-limbs, so it may be more difficult to actually “squeeze” the muscles harder than you already do. Not to say that it’s impossible! Another reason might be because the subjects were untrained and had not a lot of experience exercising and learning how to “squeeze” the muscles like an experienced bodybuilder may have¹. I believe we would see a different picture if bodybuilders could be tested.


  • The mind-muscle connection has long been a theory among bodybuilders about thinking about the muscle you’re training to make it work harder and therefore, get more gainzzz.
  • This study supports the idea for upper-limb muscles only because that was the only area where internal focus (aka mind-muscle connection) appeared to make a difference.
  • Lower-limb hypertrophy may be greater if an internal focus is taken if the subjects are trained, but this study can’t say that. More research must be conducted first.
  • Consider trying it for yourself!

As always, thanks for reading!


¹Differential effects of attentional focus strategies during long-term resistance training

Flexing muscle with blue background graphic Created by Dooder –


Dr. Magee On GMOs, Vaccines, Genetics, and So Much More!

This episode, we talk with Dr. Mitch Magee at ASU. We break down what exactly are GMOs, are they safe, and some other things surrounding GMOs that you may not have thought about. Also, we dive into the Autism-vaccine controversy and (completely) destroy the myths around it. We also talk about the gut microbiome and so much more! There’s a lot of informaiton tucked into this episode, so please enjoy!

How Are Nutrition and Politics Similar?

Hi everyone. This is a speech I performed at my local Toastmaster’s club. I talk about the parallels between nutrition and politics, specifically how we discuss them. I offer solutions at the end to mitigate the frustration and divide we see in these two areas. It’s not a perfect speech, and I will be refining it over time, but I think it has some useful information, so I hope you enjoy!

Low Fat, Low Carb-Either Still Works: Media Misses The Mark Again

Hey everyone, Michael here. This is the first article on the blog from my friend Dr. Chris Berger. He’s an exercise physiologist and university professor, so he has a lot of good information to share. I hope you enjoy!

Admit it – You’ve had it with the latest studies telling you what to do.  I know I have.  As a doctor of my profession, high-quality data are the lifeblood of what I do.  I carefully structure my research and the classes that I teach on the basis of the best science out there.  But even us PhDs have to roll our eyes occasionally at what gets published and, more importantly, how the media run with it.

Consider, for example, the attention a new study got from the New York Times.  On Tuesday the 20th of February, the Times published a piece titled, “The Key to Weight Loss Is Diet Quality, Not Quantity, a New Study Finds”.  Alright.  Let’s break this down shall we?  First, “weight loss” has no key.  Weight is the product of mass times gravity so, I suppose, you could go into orbit and be happy with your weight absent gravity but… I have some bad news for you – you’d still be FAT!  Next, the notion that something as complicated as body composition (and our very personal concepts of what is ideal) does not have a “key”.  Why do we keep thinking that celebrities have a “secret” or that there is some trick to having a healthy body composition?  Any rational expert in the health sciences will tell you that body composition is dynamic and that obesity is multifactorial.  We owe our percent body fat to a lot of things.  Have we engineered physical activity out of our lives? (Yes)  Are we readily exposed to high-calorie palatable foods?  (Yes)  Have we cut the hell out of PE in schools?  (Ask your kid about that one or…do you not want to interrupt his video game?)  My point is that when you see news of a study that concludes that it’s this – this one thing here everybody – that is making us fat, you need to be critical of the work.

Not surprisingly, this study cited by the Times was praised by an MD – a cardiologist to be exact.  Now don’t get me wrong, I respect physicians.  I just wish that they would respect me.  I have something they don’t have – a thorough understanding of how physical activity impacts body structure and function and the research skills to find out more.  And without them, one draws bone-headed conclusions.  Don’t believe me?  Repeating:  The Times published a piece titled, “The Key to Weight Loss Is Diet Quality, Not Quantity, a New Study Finds”.  Yet what the study ACTUALLY concluded was the following (and I’m copying this verbatim):

In this 12-month weight loss diet study, there was no significant difference in weight change between a healthy low-fat diet vs a healthy low-carbohydrate diet, and neither genotype pattern nor baseline insulin secretion was associated with the dietary effects on weight loss. In the context of these 2 common weight loss diet approaches, neither of the 2 hypothesized predisposing factors was helpful in identifying which diet was better for whom.

But do you even need a PhD or an MD to translate this for you?  THEY FOUND NO DIFFERENCE.

Americans are fat for a lot of reasons but I’d like it to be the case that when we make personal efforts to improve our health, we do so with good information.  We rely on the news media to so inform us.  Instead, what we often have is a rush to headlines and an “endorsement” by somebody who seems credible.  Clickbait.  Bear this in mind for the next time you hear the “breaking news” on something in the health sciences.  Educate yourself on how to read and be critical of studies using the attached guide from the International Food Information Council Foundation and be careful not to jump to conclusions.  There is a lot to know in the health sciences and it’s not likely that one research paper will tell you it all.

Christopher Berger, PhD, ACSM EP-C, CSCS


Gardner CD et al.  Effect of Low-Fat vs Low-Carbohydrate Diet on 12-Month Weight Loss in Overweight Adults and the Association With Genotype Pattern or Insulin Secretion: The DIETFITS Randomized Clinical Trial. JAMA. 2018 Feb 20;319(7):667-679.

KMF: Making Macros Fit Your Life

Don’t forget to check out the podcast on itunes!

Check out for her coaching and nutrition programs!

This episode of the Agora Bodkast was produced in collaboration with Kelli Michelle (KMF) and some of her clients. We dive into each of their own personal stories to learn about how they make tracking macros and goal-oriented nutrition part of their everyday lives despite being business owners, executives, night-shift workers, and overall busy people. After listening to this, you can’t say you don’t have time anymore for this stuff! Enjoy, show notes coming soon.

Show Notes: