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Simple Science Fitness
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Evidence-based research

Simple Science Fitness contains clear and proven fundamentals, essential fitness tools, and over 400 cited links to research journals and articles.

It doesn't have to be complicated

A sensible approach to a healthy lifestyle will give you results – no matter your age, weight, gender, or fitness level. It worked for us.

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Learn the essential truths about health, nutrition, and fitness

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Open Letter to Society

Open Letter to Society

Beyond the simple message of “eat less, move more,” we’re undoubtedly in a complex environment never seen before in human history.

Society has changed significantly. Technology, industrialization, and medicine enabled us to eat more and move less, and yet, live longer. Evolutionarily speaking, we’re in a sweet spot. Paradoxically though, we’re becoming unhappier and unhealthier. We’re bombarded with contradictory messages and products with unrealistic health claims. We’re becoming more confused about what really works and what doesn’t. What we have today is clearly not working.

It is strange for me to provide you with evidence that supports the kind of foods we have evolved to live on. I am defending nature because as a society, we’ve become so ingrained in consuming things that nature did not engineer. Instead of balancing out our nutritional needs with a variety of whole foods and with cooking, we go to the extremes by purchasing processed, ready-made foods and trying out dangerous diets. As a result, we get extreme body types and unbalanced minds. We’ve traded the healthy norm for the unhealthy norm.

The environment has ingrained in us poor habits. We are turning the obesity epidemic into a subculture or lifestyle rooted in perpetual denial and warped perceptions. Including obesity in a “love your body as it is” narrative is dangerous to society since it embraces a unhealthy lifestyle that has negative consequences on a global scale. Loving your body means taking care of it with nutrients and exercise, not with sugar and sitting.

2.1 billion of the world population, or almost a third of everybody living today, is overweight or obese. Our emotional, physical, and mental health are being sacrificed for convenience and instant gratification. We’re becoming more disconnected with how our previous generations lived. Cooking is becoming a lost art. We’re not being mindful of what we’re eating. We’re designed to move, to run, to jump, to push, to pull, and we feel better when we do—yet we prefer the couch, which ultimately makes us feel worse. We’re so focused on body image while not realizing that our body is a reflection of how well we take care of it. Being healthy is achieved though proper exercise and nutrition.

Consider that a one hour workout three times a week is only 1.7% of our time. Exercise is the elixir of life, proven to boost our mind and body. Buying whole foods in bulk is cheaper than eating out, and much healthier. Preparing and cooking meals can be fun, efficient, and rewarding. The maxim “you are what you eat” contains truth. A lifestyle change can be slow and gradual. Understanding why we should take that next move is our first step.

Losing weight is as simple as eating less and moving more, and building muscle is as simple as lifting weights and eating more. However, simple doesn’t necessarily mean easy. My goal is to make it easy for you, and I ask for your self-initiative. This is the only way that this can work.

Do you want to learn how to become healthy and manage your health for the rest of your life?

Do you want exercise and diet to become an integral part of your lifestyle, rather than as a passing fad?

We have one life to live. Let’s make the best of it.

Lifestyle Lifestyle

Lifestyle Lifestyle

The Basics The Basics ↑

Problems and Solutions

Your body probably looks similar to one of these shapes.

Overweight

Overweight

Average

Average

Underweight

Underweight

Fit

Fit
And you probably desire to be fit and healthy.

Problems

"I'm always hungry."

Appetites are increasing and we're eating bigger portions.

"I don't feel like moving."

We move less and sit around more.

"I can't help eating this."

Donuts are delicious and sugary foods are more addictive than cocaine.

"I'm always tired and in pain."

Many of us are suffering from anxiety, depression, stress, obesity, diabetes, and lack of sleep. Many of us require medication.

"No matter how hard I try, I can't get the weight off."

We're confused and frustrated. Orange juice is bad for you, yet oranges are good? Why?

Solutions

  1. Most of your meals have to be homecooked. This is non-negotiable.
  2. For every meal, eat twice as many vegetable portions as meat portions.
  3. Does it have added sugar? Don't eat or drink it!
  4. For every hour you spend on computer/television/phone screen time, match with exercise time. Too much? Then you probably can make time to exercise for just 1 hour, 3 times a week.
  5. Many of us can improve our quality of life, be happier, appear younger, and live longer just by making lifestyle changes.

The solutions are here. Internalizing them is a process.

Premium Features

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Comparing Diets

Diet #1

100 Grams per Item

Healthy Diet 1. Spinach, 2. broccoli, 3. orange, 4. eggs, 5. salmon, 6. kidney beans Healthy Diet 1. Water, 2. tea, 3. black coffee, 4. coconut water, 5. beer, 6. wine

Diet #2

100 Grams per Item

Western Diet 1. Pizza, 2. ice cream, 3. French fries, 4. bagel, 5. cheesecake, 6. chocolate bars Western Diet 1. Pop/soda, 2. energy drink, 3. juice, 4. blended coffee, 5. hot chocolate, 6. milkshake
Diet #1 and Diet #2 each have a combined weight of 1.2 kg. Let's break them down.

Comparing Foods

Water in Foods (100 g per Item)

Calories in Foods (100 g per Item)

Generally, the more water in your food, the less Calories you consume. Why? Because water has 0 Calories.

Comparing Drinks

Water in Drinks (100 g per Item)

Not much variance with water in the drinks here, however…

Calories in Drinks (100 g per Item)

The less sugar in your drinks, the less Calories you consume.
Why? Because water has 0 Calories and sugar has 4 Calories for every gram (mL).
Did you know?

There are 9 Calories for every gram of fat. A gram of carbohydrates and protein contain only 4 Calories each.

Calories by Weight

Diet #1

Caloric Equivalents of Healthy Foods Caloric Equivalents of Healthy Drinks
Food Item (100 g) Calories Calories from Sugar Drink
(100 g)
Calories Calories from Sugar
Spinach 23 kcal (1 kcal) Water 0 kcal (0 kcal)
Broccoli 34 kcal (7 kcal) Tea 2 kcal (0 kcal)
Orange 47 kcal (36 kcal) Black Coffee 2 kcal (0 kcal)
Eggs 155 kcal (4 kcal) Coconut Water 19 kcal (10 kcal)
Salmon 208 kcal (0 kcal) Beer 39 kcal (2 kcal)
Kidney Beans 127 kcal (1 kcal) Wine 85 kcal (2 kcal)
Total 594 kcal (49 kcal) Total 147 kcal (14 kcal)

Grand Total

741 Calories

(63 Calories from sugar)

Diet #2

100 g Unhealthy Foods 100 g Unhealthy Drinks
Food Item (100 g) Calories Calories from Sugar Drink
(100 g)
Calories Calories from Sugar
Pizza 266 kcal (14 kcal) Pop/Soda 41 kcal (41 kcal)
Ice Cream 207 kcal (84 kcal) Energy Drink 46 kcal (40 kcal)
French Fries 312 kcal (1 kcal) Juice 45 kcal (32 kcal)
Bagel 250 kcal (24 kcal) Blended Coffee 67 kcal (30 kcal)
Cheesecake 321 kcal (88 kcal) Hot Chocolate 77 kcal (40 kcal)
Chocolate Bars 462 kcal (184 kcal) Milkshake 140 kcal (84 kcal)
Total 1818 kcal (395 kcal) Total 416 kcal (267 kcal)

Grand Total

2234 Calories

(662 Calories from sugar)
At the same portion weight, we're looking at 3X more Calories with Diet #2! Basically…

Equivalent Calories

Diet #1

3X more food and drinks

Caloric Equivalents of Healthy Foods 1. Spinach, 2. broccoli, 3. orange, 4. eggs, 5. salmon, 6. kidney beans Caloric Equivalents of Healthy Drinks 1. Water, 2. tea, 3. black coffee, 4. coconut water, 5. beer, 6. wine

Grand Total

2234 Calories

Diet #2

No change

100 g Unhealthy Foods 1. Pizza, 2. ice cream, 3. French fries, 4. bagel, 5. cheesecake, 6. chocolate bars 100 g Unhealthy Drinks 1. Pop/soda, 2. energy drink, 3. juice, 4. blended coffee, 5. hot chocolate, 6. milkshake

Grand Total

2234 Calories

This simple demonstration shows that Calories is king.
But wait, there's more.

The Health Correlation

Water vs. Calories vs. Nutrients

Water

Water has zero Calories. The more water your food contains, the more hydrated and less hungry you become.

Calories

The more Calories you consume, the more weight you put on. Keep in mind, dietary fat has 9 Calories per gram vs. 4 for carbohydrates and for protein.

Nutrients

The more nutrients (vitamins and minerals) you consume, the healthier (and less hungry) you become. Remember, sugar has zero nutrients.

Note: The scale above is based on nutrient density per Calorie.

It's very simple: the math shows that water has 0 Calories, fat has 9 Calories per gram, and sugar has 0 nutrients. These three variables in food composition greatly determines what makes food "healthy."

Premium Features

Learn how to manage weight through diet and exercise, and to control your progress by applying the Law of Thermodynamics, BMR, cutting, and bulking. Premium Features →

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Habits and Health

Proper diet and exercise are the two core components of leading a healthy lifestyle. They have profound compounding effects that affect our overall well-being.

Most of us live the common Western lifestyle, which negatively affects our well-being.

Check out the causes and effects of these two very different lifestyle habits.

The Healthy Lifestyle

By changing a few major lifestyle habits, you can see how by even changing one positive action can create a chain of several positive effects for your mental and physical states.

Eating Proper Calories
  • Increased nutrient density
  • Increased hydration
  • Increased satiation
  • Less hunger
  • Less food portions
  • Lower body weight
Eating Less Sugar
  • Avoiding empty calories
  • Decreased inflammation
  • Increased health
  • Decreased appetite cravings
  • Decreased consumption
  • Lower body fat
Having Enough Sleep
  • Increased mental performance
  • Improved memory
  • Better muscle growth
  • Increased physical performance
  • Better hormone regulation
  • Lower body fat
Exercising Consistently
  • More Calories burned
  • Greater muscle mass
  • Higher metabolism and fat-burning hormones
  • Better energy, strength, and endurance
  • Improved sleep
  • Less chronic stress, anxiety, and depression
  • Decreased body fat
Result: Fit
  • Decreased risk of diabetes, cancer, and heart disease
  • Decreased cholesterol and blood pressure
  • Improved balance and mobility
  • Improved physical attractiveness and libido
  • Improved happiness, mood, and confidence
  • Improved health and fitness
Healthy

The Western Lifestyle

By indulging in just one poor lifestyle habit (e.g. eating more sugar), it can create other negative lifestyle habits. Since the actions and causes are largely interdependent, it is easy to fall into a downward spiral. One lifestyle action can create mental and physical consequences that influences lifestyle decisions.

Eating Excess Calories
  • Lower nutrient density
  • Lower hydration
  • Lower satiation
  • Increased hunger
  • Increased food portions
  • Increased body weight
Eating More Sugar
  • No nutrients
  • Increased inflammation
  • Decreased health
  • Higher appetite cravings
  • Greater food consumption
  • Higher body fat
Lack of Sleep
  • Decreased mental performance
  • Decreased memory
  • Decreased physical performance
  • Decreased muscle growth
  • Poor hormone regulation
  • Increased body fat
Being Sedentary
  • Less Calories burned
  • Muscle atrophy
  • Lower metabolism and fat-burning hormones
  • Decreased energy, strength, and endurance
  • Increased risk of sleep disorders
  • Higher risk of chronic stress, anxiety, and depression
  • Increased body fat
Result: Unhealthy
  • Greater risk of diabetes, cancer, and heart disease
  • Higher cholesterol and blood pressure
  • Decreased balance and mobility
  • Decreased physical attractiveness and libido
  • Decreased happiness, mood, and confidence
  • Decreased health and fitness
Unhealthy
Keep in mind, a lifestyle means it's not temporary (like "dieting"). It's for life.

Premium Features

Teach yourself how to change your negative habit patterns to positive ones. Understand how to assess and improve health, prevent obesity, strengthen body image, and learn about sleep, stress, injuries, anatomy, and more. Premium Features →

Diet Diet

Diet Diet

The Basics The Basics ↑

Understanding Foods

SSF Food Pyramid

Simple Science Fitness Food Pyramid

Did you know?

75% of the world's Calories today comes from only 7 sources: wheat, maize (corn), rice, sugar, potatoes, soybean, and cereal grains. These types of foods are very different from what we've eaten for most of our existence.

What makes plants and animals so great?

Our species, Homo sapiens, appeared around 200,000 years ago. Bread became widespread only after the First Agricultural Revolution 10,000 years ago.

The math is clear: as humans, we started eating bread for only the last 5% of our existence. Taking it further, human-like species of the Homo genus came into existence two million years ago, which means our diets were virtually always restricted to what was available to forage in the existing environment, namely plants and animals.

Hence, food found in nature are what our brains and bodies were ultimately designed for. We were not designed to consume processed/refined foods such as added sugars, which became popular barely over 200 years ago.

Food Energy-Health Graph

Nutrient Density/Food Energy-Health Graph

Nutrient-dense foods are essential, which means that it's exactly what your body requires in order to function properly.

When you load up on junk food, sugars, and low-quality fats, you're getting all of the Calories and none of the benefits.

Nutrient density is what keeps you full – and keeps your body from overeating.

Tip

Healthy meals are made from whole foods, namely plants and animals, that you combine and cook.

They contain the highest concentration of nutrients.

What Makes Unhealthy Meals?

Hyperpalatability Graph
Sugar, flour, salt, and fat are the main ingredients in food products that are high in Calories and low in nutrients.

Tip

Unhealthy meals are made from sweet and sugary foods, corn-, soy- or flour-based products, refined/processed foods, and almost anything that came pre-packaged or pre-cooked.

They contain the lowest concentration of nutrients.

Did you make that pasta by hand, or did you buy it processed? Did you bake that bread using 4 ingredients, or does your store-bought package list 13 ingredients? Is it sweet or is it savoury? There are many factors, but the answers are clear:

  • Buy and consume whole foods. Homecooked meals made from fresh, whole ingredients are health-promoting.
  • Restaurants, fast foods, pre-cooked packages (e.g. microwavable dinners) and processed stuff (e.g. macaroni and cheese) mostly serve meals that are fattening and unhealthy.
Comparing Calories with a medium Blizzard to 9 Eggs
Looking at these two, are you feeling full or hungry? How much of each can you eat in one sitting?

Premium Features

Expands on how to effortlessly control hunger, what is good and bad nutrition, and how to do intermittent fasting the right way. Premium Features →

Healthy Meals

SSF Diet

SSF Diet

The Simple Science Fitness Diet focuses on nutrient-dense food sources based on the SSF food pyramid, list of essential foods, and energy-health graph.

You can follow the diet by using the suggested recipes or the healthy plate diagram.

The SSF Diet is the least restrictive compared to other popular diets and arguably works just as well, if not better, due to the flexibility, variety, balance, and ease of incorporating into a sustainable lifestyle.

In premium, you can learn about all the pros and cons of well-known diets including paleo, keto, Mediterranean, vegan/vegetarian, and MyPlate.

Healthy Plate

Based on the SSF Food Pyramid, this is what your ideal plate would look like.

Portion Sizes by Type

Healthy Plate by Portions

Macronutrients by Weight (g)

Healthy Plate by Weight

Note: The above is an average. In Premium, you'll see how the plate ratios change based on workout days and rest days.

Macronutrients by Calories (kcal)

Healthy Plate by Calories

Note: The above is an average. In Premium, you'll see how caloric intake ratios change based on workout days and rest days on a cut or on a bulk.

Premium Features

Learn how to further optimize your macronutrient and caloric intake by seeing suggested ratios on workout days and on rest days. Combined with intermittent fasting, you will be able to see results faster. Also, see how the SSF Diet stacks up against the Paleo, Keto, Vegan, and Mediterranean Diets. Premium Features →

Nutritional Profiles

If each food group was a superhero, they would (on average) contain these nutritional profiles.

Vegetables Vegetables

The superfood group. The most nutrients you can get in the fewest Calories.

Calories

Calories: 10%

Nutrients

Nutrients: 95%

Carbs

Carbs: 95%

Protein

Protein: 25%

Fat

Fat: 10%

Sugar

Sugar: 25%

Meats Meats

A unique superpower. Lowest in carbs and highest in protein. Plus, high in nutrients while being moderate in fat and Calories.

Calories

Calories: 50%

Nutrients

Nutrients: 95%

Carbs

Carbs: 10%

Protein

Protein: 95%

Fat

Fat: 50%

Sugar

Sugar: 10%

Fruits Fruits

Nature's candy. You typically get a sweet offering with benefits. However, the less sweet, the better.

Calories

Calories: 25%

Nutrients

Nutrients: 75%

Carbs

Carbs: 95%

Protein

Protein: 10%

Fat

Fat: 10%

Sugar

Sugar: 50%

Legumes Legumes

Well balanced, but not as efficient as the vegetable-meat combo. Most breads don't count.

Calories

Calories: 50%

Nutrients

Nutrients: 50%

Carbs

Carbs: 95%

Protein

Protein: 50%

Fat

Fat: 25%

Sugar

Sugar: 25%

Dairy Dairy

As long as they are fermented, they pack a punch. But don't overconsume, since they are high in Calories.

Calories

Calories: 75%

Nutrients

Nutrients: 50%

Carbs

Carbs: 25%

Protein

Protein: 75%

Fat

Fat: 75%

Sugar

Sugar: 25%

Nuts and Seeds Nuts and Seeds

Incredible all around, but only meant to be consumed in small quantities since they are high in Calories.

Calories

Calories: 75%

Nutrients

Nutrients: 75%

Carbs

Carbs: 75%

Protein

Protein: 75%

Fat

Fat: 95%

Sugar

Sugar: 25%
For comparison, here are some unhealthy food profiles.

Pizza Pizza*

High in low-quality carbs and Calories, with fat added.

Calories

Calories: 75%

Nutrients

Nutrients: 25%

Carbs

Carbs: 95%

Protein

Protein: 25%

Fat

Fat: 50%

Sugar

Sugar: 25%

Savoury Pastries Savoury Pastries*

High in low-quality carbs and Calories, with fat added.

Calories

Calories: 95%

Nutrients

Nutrients: 10%

Carbs

Carbs: 95%

Protein

Protein: 25%

Fat

Fat: 50%

Sugar

Sugar: 10%

Chocolate Chocolate*

High in low-quality carbs (added sugar) and Calories (added fat).

Calories

Calories: 95%

Nutrients

Nutrients: 10%

Carbs

Carbs: 95%

Protein

Protein: 10%

Fat

Fat: 95%

Sugar

Sugar: 95%

Premium Features

Harness the power of micronutrients and learn about the pros and cons of macronutrients (including alcohol). Learn how to maximize their benefits and to avoid their disadvantages. Premium Features →

Healthy Foods

Essential Foods

Below is your weekly checklist to stock your pantry and fridge. It factors in your required nutrients to make healthy meals.

Afterwards, we'll learn how to cook with these ingredients.

The following selections would allow you to assemble exclusively healthy meals.

Legend

Contains food high in:

  • V Vitamins
  • M Minerals
  • Ω Omega-3 (EPA & DHA)
  • F Fibre
  • A Antioxidants
  • T Testosterone
  • Low Calories
  • Weight Gainer
  • ¢ Low Budget
  • Bases

  • VMFAT
  • Pick 6–7
  • ¢
  • ¢
  • ¢
  • ¢
  • Vegetables

  • VMFAT
  • Pick 4–5
  • Meat/Proteins

  • VMΩT
  • Pick 3–4
  • ¢

  • ¢
  • Fruits

  • VFA
  • Pick 2–3
  • Starches

  • VMF
  • Pick 2
  • ¢
  • ¢
  • ¢
  • Supplementary

  • F
  • Pick 2–3

  • Beverages

  • Oils

  • Pick 2–3
  • Basic Seasonings

  • Basic Spices

  • Hot Spices

  • Eastern Spices

  • Herbs

Supplements

Do You Need Supplements?

Supplementation requirements depend on your fitness goals, health, and diet. Most supplements are a waste of money but there are a handful that have been shown to provide potential benefits.

The most beneficial are whey protein, vitamin D3, fish oil, creatine, and caffeine.

Tip

Supplements can't help a bad diet.

Buying Supplements

High quality supplements at great prices can be purchased from these suggested links:

Premium Features

Unlocks the complete food pyramid: Foods in Moderation and Foods to Avoid. Bonus, the legend is expanded and applied to every eligible food item. Also, supplement recommendations are explained (you might be wondering about caffeine). Premium Features →

Making Meals

The Big Buts

"But I don't have time!"

Consider the time it takes to travel to a restaurant, wait for a meal (and dessert), wait for the bill, then consider the time it takes to travel back home. You could argue it's quicker at a fast food restaurant, but it's certainly not healthier or cheaper.

Cooking can actually save you time if you make lots of it in one go to produce leftovers. For example, one can make from scratch shepherd's pie, jambalaya, and chunky chicken soup in 1.5 hours. That's a lot of meals.

"But healthy foods are expensive!"

Not necessarily. I'm not talking about healthy food products, but rather whole foods. While prices of whole foods do vary by location, it's important to know what is inexpensive in the region you live in. For example, if you live near the coast, fish is likely cheaper.

Also, buying food in bulk or buying from a local market will save you significantly more than from most commercial grocery stores.

Lastly, do consider that individual and societal medical- and health-related costs can be significantly more expensive.

"But I'm tired and I'm not motivated!"

Hunger is one of the most motivating human forces, and making a quick meal is as simple as simmering buckwheat or quinoa, blending a shake, or microwaving a meal out of 12 Days of Chicken.

Add in an apple and some almonds and you'll feel like having more motivation.

Cooking Essentials

Cutting Board

Cutting Board

Bamboo cutting boards are great at resisting moisture so that bacteria doesn't form. It's also strong enough to take on the sharpest of knives.

Chef's Knife

Chef's Knife

One high quality chef's knife is all you need for all of your chopping.

Utensils

Utensils

These essential utensils help measure out your ingredients and put them to use in your cookware. Wooden spoons don't scratch up your cookware and don't conduct heat.

Cookware

Cookware

In most cases, one large cast iron and a good pot or Dutch oven may be all that you need for the coming decades. Whatever you choose, here are the highly recommended choices.

Cooktop

Cooktop

You likely already have an electric or gas stovetop, so you don't really need an induction oven. What's great about an induction oven is that it heats quickly, is easy to clean, and takes up little space. Note that induction ovens only work with cookware that contains iron such as cast iron, Dutch ovens, or some stainless steel.

Other Cooking Items

Not essential, but these items can be very useful and convenient.

SSF Make-a-Meal

Make all kinds of stir-fries, soups, and stews with this simple cooking method.

1. The Base

The Base

Select three or four bases (aromatic vegetables) and chop into small, uniform pieces.

Cook with an oil or fat, stirring occasionally, at medium temperature for 10–15 minutes. The bases are finished when they appear soft and "sweaty."

2. The Meat

The Meat

While you are cooking your base, pick one (recommended) or two types of meat. Cut into pieces if required. Slather on salt, plus any appropriate herbs, spices, and seasonings.

Cook separately with an oil or fat at medium heat until the meat is browned and cooked properly in the center.

3. The Stock

The Stock

Next, pick a liquid stock (e.g. water, broth, milk, wine, beer).

Add more water if you are making a soup.

4. The Bulk

The Bulk

Lastly, mix in the base, meat, and stock with one or two starches (e.g. potatoes, beans, lentils, rice, quinoa, buckwheat).

Cook covered at simmering temperature for about 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Feel free to add in more vegetables.

Example 1

  • Base: Onion, garlic, carrots, celery
  • Meat: Chicken breast
  • Stock: Chicken broth
  • Bulk: Rice

  • Meal: Chicken soup

Example 2

  • Base: Onion, bell pepper, celery
  • Meat: Pork sausage and shrimp
  • Stock: Water
  • Bulk: Rice

  • Meal: Jambalaya

Example 3

  • Base: Onion, carrots, tomatoes, garlic
  • Meat: Lamb
  • Stock: Water
  • Bulk: Potatoes and beans

  • Meal: Lamb stew

Recipes

Tip

Feel free to experiment by adding more spices or ingredients to your liking.

Meal 1

12 Days of Chicken

810 kcal, 15 g carbs, 45 g fat, 90 g protein (per day)

Ingredients

  • 3 whole rotisserie chickens
  • 1 tbsp coconut oil
  • 1 chopped whole carrot
  • 1 cup broccoli
  • 1 cup spinach

Directions

  1. Each whole chicken should cover four meals. Tear apart three whole chickens into three containers.
  2. Refrigerate one container and use within days. Freeze the other two containers and thaw when ready to use.
  3. For each meal, add coconut oil and spices to vegetables. Optionally add in rice.
  4. Microwave for 4 minutes.
Back to Recipes ↑

Beef and Stewed Cabbage

3450 kcal, 200 g carbs, 180 g fat, 270 g protein (6 meals)

Ingredients

  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 1kg ground beef
  • 1 head shredded cabbage
  • 3 whole chopped carrots
  • 1 minced onion
  • 1 tbsp minced garlic
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp pepper
  • 2 tsp chili powder
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1/2 tsp curry powder
  • 1/2 tsp mustard powder
  • 1/2 tsp ginger
  • 1/8 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 3 cans tomato paste

Directions

  1. Add all ingredients into a Dutch oven (325°F for 3 hours) or in a slow cooker (on high for 6 hours).
Back to Recipes ↑

Buckwheat Kasha/Quinoa

1500 kcal, 240 g carbs, 60 g fat, 40 g protein (4–6 meals)

Ingredients

  • 4 tbsp butter
  • 2 cups buckwheat groats (or quinoa)
  • 3 cups water (4 cups for quinoa)
  • 1/2 tsp salt

Directions

  1. Rinse buckwheat/quinoa.
  2. In saucepan, combine water with 2 tbsp butter with buckwheat/quinoa and salt. Boil then simmer on low for 20 minutes. A rice cooker can be used instead.
  3. When finished, add another 2 tbsp of butter.
  4. Serve with berries, banana, or nut butter.
Back to Recipes ↑

Egg Fried Rice

1500 kcal, 110 g carbs, 60 g fat, 125 g protein (2–3 meals)

Ingredients

  • 2 tbsp coconut oil
  • 4 eggs
  • 2 tsp sesame oil
  • 2 cups mixed vegetables (carrots, green beans, corn, and peas), defrosted
  • 1/2 tsp pepper
  • 2 tsp minced garlic
  • 2 tsp soy sauce
  • 1 cup rice (pre-heated)
  • 1 lb shrimp

Directions

  1. Beat eggs and sesame oil in a bowl.
  2. Melt 1 tbsp coconut oil in a pan at high heat. Add in vegetables, pepper, and 1 tsp garlic. Cook for 3 minutes.
  3. Add in egg mixture, stirring constantly for 2–3 minutes.
  4. Add in rice and soy sauce and cook for 2–3 minutes.
  5. Put all on a plate and cover.
  6. Add 1 tbsp coconut oil and 1 tsp garlic and cook shrimp separately for 4–5 minutes.
  7. Mix everything together and cook for 1 more minute.
Back to Recipes ↑

Meal 2

Beef Stew

1980 kcal, 175 g carbs, 72 g fat, 160 g protein (4 meals)

Ingredients

  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 500 g beef stew cutlets
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp pepper
  • 2 tsp minced garlic
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 1 tsp onion powder
  • 1/8 tsp red pepper flakes/cayenne pepper
  • 1/2 tsp oregano
  • 1/2 tsp thyme
  • 1/4 tsp basil
  • 1-1/2 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 4 cups beef broth
  • 4 potatoes
  • 3 Roma tomatoes
  • 2 cups diced carrots
  • 2 cup diced celery
  • 1 tbsp parsley

Directions

  1. Sear the meat on medium-high with butter and minced garlic, 2 minutes per side.
  2. Add all ingredients in the list except for the parsley into a Dutch oven (1.5–2 hours at 325°F) or a slow cooker (8 hours on high).
  3. Add in parsley when complete.
Back to Recipes ↑

Chunky Chicken Soup

1520 kcal, 175 g carbs, 40 g fat, 120 g protein (4 meals)

Ingredients

  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 2 chicken breasts
  • 1 shallot or onion
  • 1 cup diced carrots
  • 5 diced celery stalks
  • 1 tsp onion powder
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 3 cups water
  • 4 cups chicken broth
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • 1 tsp pepper
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 cup rice
  • 2 tbsp parsley or cilantro

Directions

  1. Boil water in a large pot then reduce to low. Add garlic powder, onion powder and onion. Poach chicken breasts for 15 minutes.
  2. Pour hot water into a cup for now and discard the shallot. Melt butter into pot and add salt, pepper, lemon juice and vegetables.
  3. Add hot water and chicken broth into pot. Bring to a boil and add rice. Reduce to low, cover, and cook for 15 minutes.
  4. Dice and add the cooked chicken breasts and parsley/cilantro.
Back to Recipes ↑

Jambalaya

2160 kcal, 190 g carbs, 90 g fat, 135 g protein (4 meals)

Ingredients

  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 3 smoked sausages, sliced, or pork
  • 2 tsp paprika
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1/4 tsp pepper
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 small diced onion
  • 2 diced tomatoes
  • 1 diced bell pepper
  • 1 cup diced celery stalks
  • 1 cup diced carrots
  • 1 cup rice
  • 2 cups water or broth
  • 1 lb shrimp

Directions

  1. Melt butter in large pan. Cook on medium heat onion, celery, carrot, and bell pepper for 15 minutes.
  2. Add sausages and cook for 5 minutes.
  3. Add all spices and cook for 1 minute.
  4. Add tomatoes and cook for 3 minutes.
  5. Add the rice and water/broth and bring to a boil.
  6. Bring heat to low and cover. Cook for 30 minutes.
  7. Add shrimp and cook for an additional 5 minutes.
Back to Recipes ↑

Salmon with Indian Spices

500 kcal, 5 g carbs, 30 g fat, 45 g protein (1 meal)

Ingredients

  • 1 tbsp coconut oil
  • 1 salmon fillet
  • 1/4 tsp pepper
  • 1/4 tsp minced garlic
  • 1/8 tsp cumin
  • 1/8 tsp ginger
  • 1/8 tsp coriander
  • 1/8 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1 tbsp lemon/lime juice

Directions

  1. Spread all ingredients on the salmon. Bake with vegetables at 400°F for 20 minutes.
  2. Serve with rice or your choice of side.
Back to Recipes ↑

Meal 3

Bacon Frittatas

1500 kcal, 10 g carbs, 110 g fat, 115 g protein (3 meals)

Ingredients

  • 12 slices of bacon
  • 8 eggs
  • 5 tbsp chopped spinach
  • 5 tbsp diced bell pepper
  • 5 tbsp diced tomatoes
  • 3 slices of sharp cheddar cheese
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt
  • 1/2 tsp pepper

Directions

  1. Bake bacon on baking sheet for 11 minutes at 350°F. Mix the rest of the ingredients on a pan and cook until the eggs are partially cooked.
  2. Form bacon into rings and add the partially cooked egg mixture. Bake for another 20 minutes.
Back to Recipes ↑

Bulker's Shake

1050 kcal, 95 g carbs, 55 g fat, 65 g protein (1 shake)

Ingredients

  • 2 scoops whey protein
  • 2 cups kale or spinach
  • 2 tbsp of almond butter
  • 2 tbsp of coconut oil
  • 2 tbsp lemon/lime juice
  • 1 frozen banana
  • 1 cup berries
  • 1/4 cup oats
  • 2 cups water

Directions

  1. Mix all ingredients in a blender.
Back to Recipes ↑

Cutter's Shake

550 kcal, 50 g carbs, 30 g fat, 30 g protein (1 shake)

Ingredients

  • 1 scoop whey protein
  • 2 cups kale or spinach
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 tbsp of coconut oil or almond butter
  • 2 tbsp lemon/lime juice
  • 1 sliced frozen banana
  • 1/2 cup berries

Directions

  1. Mix all ingredients in a blender.
Back to Recipes ↑

Scrambled Eggs

580 kcal, 2 g carbs, 45 g fat, 42 g protein (2–3 sides)

Ingredients

  • 6 eggs
  • 1 tbsp butter

Directions

  1. Melt butter at high heat then crack eggs into pan.
  2. Mix and scrape repeatedly with a spatula until cooked, 2–3 minutes.
  3. Optionally add spices such as salt, pepper, paprika, onion powder, minced garlic, or oregano.
Back to Recipes ↑

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Exercise Exercise

Exercise Exercise

The Basics The Basics ↑

Why Exercise

What's the Point of Exercise?

Aside from the fact our bodies were designed to run, jump, climb, crawl, and lift, there are numerous mental and physical benefits that contributes to overall happiness.

Mental Mental Benefits Physical Physical Benefits Result
More energy Less lethargy :)
Improved fortitude Improved resilience :)
Better sleep Better strength, stamina, and endurance :)
Lower stress, anxiety, and depression Slows down biological aging :)
Improved sharpness and alertness Improved performance :)
Increased testosterone Improved libido and sexual ability :)
Better tolerance to cortisol (stress hormone) Stronger immune system, reduced cholesterol and improved heart health :)
Releases irisin, a fat-burning hormone Weight reduction and management :)
Improved affirmation Improved mobility :)
Improved confidence Improved aesthetics :)

The Big Buts

"But I don't have time!"

If you have time for the TV Internet… Besides, you can have a solid workout in just 30 minutes.

"But I don't have money or space!"

Bodyweight fitness is free and can be done virtually anywhere.

"But I'm tired!"

Post-exercise gives you an energy boost and helps you sleep better.

"But I'm not motivated!"

External factors are not responsible for your personal well-being. Since you are in full control of your body, your health is in your own hands.

The Big Question

How do I lose weight and build muscle?

This question has been asked a million times. The solution is really, really, really simple. Simple, but not easy. It is human nature to choose the path of least resistance and cognitive dissonance defies reason. In other words, most people are lazy and tend to make excuses.

If you really want to build muscle or burn fat, you'll have to put in some physical effort beyond a proper diet.

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How to Build Muscle and Burn Fat

Muscle Growth

Time Under Tension

Tempo

In this illustration, you can see how time under tension works. In the lowering phase (eccentric movement), the bicep is resisting against gravity and the weight of the dumbbell. When full range of motion is achieved (lengthening), the bicep can then contract (concentric movement).

Ideally, eccentric movements (with gravity) should be slower while concentric movements (against gravity) are "explosive."

Tip

Resistance weight can also be your own body weight against gravity. Like push-ups or pull-ups.

Human Limitations

If the weight is heavy enough (not too heavy), there are a limited number of repetitions the body can endure per set. There is an interdependent balance between our abilities and limitations, mentally and physically.

Duration Ability Limitation
Exercise Repetitions Weight Resistance
Workout Rest Time Length Intensity
Day Workout Length Physiological Capability
Week Workout Frequency Recovery Time Length

The Sweet Spot

Training Type Repetition Range Fitness Goal Examples
Power 1–5 Strength Powerlifters, Strongmen
Resistance 6–15 Aesthetics, Strength, Stamina, Heart Health Pro Athletes, Gymnasts, Fitness Models, Natural Bodybuilders
Cardiovascular 16+ Stamina, Heart Health Pro Athletes, Triathletes, Runners, Cyclists, Swimmers

"Resistance training" is a type of hypertrophy, strength, or weight lifting program. It falls under the sweet spot for not only its benefits, but because it is the most efficient type of training. Resistance training workouts can be achieved for only a few times a week and for as short as 30 minutes per workout.

Fat Burning

Diet is king, but pairing it with exercise is essential. Observe why exercise accelerates and compounds fat burning:

  1. A single high-intensity workout uses up Calories.
  2. That high-intensity workout gives metabolic and hormonal benefits for up to 48 hours.
  3. Energy (Calories) is required to repair and build muscle.
  4. Increased muscle mass means more food energy (Calories) required to maintain that new muscle mass.

Essentially, when combined with exercise, you could potentially eat a few hundred extra Calories per day just to maintain your body weight!

Did you know?

Resistance training is the most efficient way to build muscle and to burn fat.

Of course, you can get excellent exercise through sports, swimming, or climbing, among many others, but when it comes to the trade-off between results and time, resistance training, especially at high intensity, gives you the best value.

Seeing Results

Progressive Overload

Building upon physiological challenges to adapt mentally and physically, in order to see improved fitness results is called progressive overload.

Here's a rough illustration of this concept:

Progressive Overload
The more you can lift and the longer you can last, the stronger you have become. Don't expect overnight changes or miracles. It takes time and consistency.
You start with your own unique baseline, and you build from there.

Each week, you try to improve upon the previous week through adaptation. When you improve your progression, you slowly and surely will start to see and feel results. You can improve your weekly workout progression in a number of ways:

  • ↑ resistance weight
  • ↑ leverage
  • ↑ repetitions
  • ↑ sets
  • ↑ exercises
  • ↓ rest time

Remember, your progression also depends on the quality of your diet and sleep.

Tip

Calories are your fuel. But the quantity and quality matters.

Recommended

Track your diet and your workout progression with pen and paper, or with recommended apps such as MyFitnessPal and Strong.

Recommended

Get started with one of SSF's exercise programs.

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The Big Six

Squat Overhead Press Deadlift Chin-up Bench Press Row
The following six powerful compound exercises work your entire body. They are essential movements and are the foundation of your physical abilities.

Vertical Push

Lower Body

Squat

Squat

Type: Barbell weight training

Described as the king of all exercises, squats work primarily the legs and is often considered a full-body exercise. The barbell squat is probably the most intense yet rewarding of all exercises to perform. Front squats are a superior alternative or addition to the barbell (back) squat.

Learn: Video and Technique

Primary Muscles

  • Quads
  • Hamstrings
  • Glutes

Secondary Muscles

  • Abs
  • Spinal erectors

Substitutions

Exercise Type
Leg press Machine weight training
Power clean Olympic weightlifting
Snatch Olympic weightlifting
Lunges Dumbbell weight training
Farmer's Walk Barbell weight training
Pistol squat Bodyweight training

Upper Body

Overhead Press

Overhead Press

Type: Barbell weight training

Also known as the barbell military press, this excellent shoulder exercise also works on the arms.

Learn: Video and Technique

Primary Muscles

  • Deltoids

Secondary Muscles

  • Traps
  • Triceps
  • Abs

Substitutions

Exercise Type
Handstand Bodyweight training
Handstand push-up Bodyweight training
Lateral raise Dumbbell weight training
Front raise Dumbbell weight training
Arnold press Dumbbell weight training

Vertical Pull

Lower Body

Deadlift

Deadlift

Type: Barbell weight training

Often competing with squats for the king of all exercises, this powerful movement works the entire posterior chain. Deadlifts are also taxing on the central nervous system, so short and heavy are usually enough. If you cannot deadlift due to an injury, a combination of planks, ring rows, chin-ups, and dips may help.

Learn: Video 1, Video 2, Technique 1, and Technique 2

Primary Muscles

  • Spinal erectors
  • Hamstrings
  • Glutes
  • Traps

Secondary Muscles

  • Quads
  • Abs
  • Forearms

Substitutions

Exercise Type
Power clean Olympic weightlifting
Snatch Olympic weightlifting
Farmer's Walk Barbell weight training
Tire flips Resistance training

Upper Body

Chin Up

Chin-Up

Type: Bodyweight training

The chin-up is a powerful exercise for the lats and underrated as a bicep builder. Beginners will often struggle with only one or two reps, but over time, even weighted or leveraged chin-ups would be possible. Chin-ups are palms facing toward the body while pull-ups are palms facing away. Arnold Schwarzenegger considers the chin-up to be the best bodyweight exercise.

Learn: Video 1, Video 2 and Technique

Primary Muscles

  • Lats
  • Biceps

Secondary Muscles

  • Traps
  • Pectorals
  • Triceps

Substitutions

Exercise Type
Front tuck lever Bodyweight training
Cable pulldown Machine weight training

Horizontal Push

Bench Press

Bench Press

Type: Barbell weight training

Often included in the "big three," this chest exercise is also a good arm builder. Push-ups are an excellent alternative when using body leverage and with gymnastic rings.

Learn: Video and Technique

Primary Muscles

  • Pectorals

Secondary Muscles

  • Deltoids
  • Triceps
  • Biceps

Substitutions

Exercise Type
Push-up Bodyweight training
Chest dip Bodyweight training
L-sit Bodyweight training

Horizontal Pull

Barbell Row

Barbell Row

Type: Barbell weight training

An exercise that works the full back, including traps, lats, and rhomboids. If doing the barbell row, ensure that the movement starts and ends with the barbell on the ground. Gymnastic ring rows are a fantastic alternative and is preferred for injury prevention.

Learn: Video and Technique

Primary Muscles

  • Full back

Substitutions

Exercise Type
Gymnastic ring row Bodyweight training
T-bar row Weight training
Seated cable row Machine weight training
Dumbbell row Dumbbell weight training

Premium Features

Expanded to include lists of accessory exercises, be it weight, machine, or bodyweight, that targets every muscle in your body. Premium Features →

Gyms

Home Gym

If you are comfortable working out alone, then a home gym is a convenient and excellent long-term financial investment. The recommendations below are all that are necessary to build an effective, quality home gym where you can perform many exercises, including the Big Six Lifts.

Gym Memberships

Gym memberships are useful when accessing equipment that you don't have at home. It may be motivating to work out with other people, and it's low-cost only in the short term.

Personal Trainers

If you are an absolute beginner, unsure of how to do proper form and technique, or would like to have guidance and motivation, working with a personal trainer can be a worthwhile investment.

Gym Attire

T-shirts, shorts, and athletic wear are suitable attire to wear for training. Many enjoy listening to songs with portable music players. For footwear while doing heavy weights, flat-bottomed shoes such as the Converse Chuck Taylor and Vibram Fivefingers are recommended. Some go barefoot while working out at home. The Vibram Fivefingers are also useful for running.

Tip

Make yourself comfortable in your training environment.

Premium Features

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Level Up Level Up

Ready to take it to the next level?

Level Up Level Up

The Basics The Basics ↑

Our Stories

My Story

The Author“Did I manage to unlock the secrets to exceptional fitness?

Here's my story. During my teens, I was strict about my diet and fitness. Or so I thought. And I worked really hard. Somehow I wasn't seeing results.

Everyone believed in the well-known dietary guidelines from the government, media, and even science, including myself. But I couldn't seem to shed off that excess fat. I struggled to see that elusive six pack. Despite all my best efforts, the last straw was when I found out my blood pressure was too high.

Misconceptions, outdated information, broscience, corporate greed, however you want to call it – there are way too much of them. After trial and error and extensive research over the years, I pieced together solutions that worked. I packed on serious mass up to 215 lbs on my 5'10" frame. It was when I effortlessly burned off 40 lbs in 4 months that everything clicked together.

After getting a NCAA-accredited certification in Personal Training, and now, at a lean 185 lbs in my mid-30s, I am the healthiest person I know. Despite having obesity genes [1, 2, 3, 4, 5] uncovered from genetic testing, I still apparently have the body of a teenager, or so my doctor claims, given my excellent blood work and ideal blood pressure.

I spent years building and refining this website. Today, it's a valuable resource for thousands of people. By continuing this mission to share information that works, I am helping numerous people achieve their health and fitness goals through common sense nutrition and exercise, all backed up by science.“

My Wife's Story

My Wife“Lazy, impatient, indulgent – not my best qualities. Especially when I want to meet certain fitness goals: 1) looking 'toned' but not bulky, 2) keeping my energy up, and, 3) feeling good about myself.

After over 10 years of trying different workout regimes and classes, I finally found something that works for me! While I was initially skeptical of my husband's guidelines for diet and exercise, I’m now in the best shape of my life! I’ve never seen my arms so toned or my legs so slender. By making small changes such as three 30 minute workouts per week and having balanced homemade meals from my husband's recipes, I’ve finally found a healthy lifestyle that is easy to maintain.”

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