Q&A with Mike Furci
This is not a response to any of your articles, but rather a request for general advice. Like everyone else I've read the countless websites and advice, but get lost in all the contradictions. Your articles have always struck me as direct, honest and not out to make promises to anyone. I hope that's enough ego stroking to elicit a response. I’d appreciate any insight or advice that you've got
Quick bio: I'm a 28-year-old male, 6-foot-2-inches, 300 pounds, 40.5-inch waist, 56-inch chest. I've been "big" my whole adult life and have always carried more fat than I should. I would welcome any general advice you have regarding changes I could use to improve my results, but I do have a couple of specific questions:
1) Protein intake: All the websites suggest roughly 1 gram per pound body weight (which you have also repeated in several of your articles). While I understand this is only a rough guideline, I find myself hard pressed to reasonably consume nearly 300 grams per day. I've never been one for supplements, powders, etc., but I also practice the rule that "it's not a meal unless it's got meat in it." I eat lean beef, pork or chicken every day in one form or another. I eat eggs three to four mornings each week. I keep cans of tuna around for snacks (I love tuna).
I'm just wondering if I'm robbing myself of progress by not forcing 300 grams of protein down my throat each day? As I stated, I'm also trying to lose fat so based on my size I'm trying to keep myself to around 3,000 calories per day. Given the stress that excess protein can have on the kidneys, I've been hesitant to overload myself with powders.
A: Protein does not harm the kidneys, or the liver for that matter. It's amazing that this misconception has been around since the ‘60s. (he protein diets during that time also had people restrict water, which is why some people had problems with their kidneys. It wasn't the protein!) The kidneys are made to filter protein. Proper functioning kidneys can handle, without any problems, any amount of protein you can throw at them.
2) Fat or muscle first? Am I foolish for attempting to lose fat and gain muscle at the same time? I realize that results are likely to come slower for both while attempting to do them simultaneously, but I'd like your opinion.
A: You're not foolish. Gaining muscle while losing fat should be your goal. The more muscle you gain, the greater your loss of body fat. Losing body fat without weight training will ensure a loss of muscle, which will only add to the already difficult task of losing fat. Conversely, trying to keep -- or better yet add -- muscle while losing fat will in no way hamper the fat loss.
Losing body fat is mainly a result of what you're eating and not the amount you're eating, unless you’re a total pig and are eating extreme amounts of food. Start paying more attention to what you're eating throughout the day. If you're not losing body fat, decrease the amount of carbs (not fiber) you're eating by 10 percent and replace it with protein and fibrous veggies. For a more in-depth explanation on getting lean, read, “Washboard abs, a comprehensive strategy: Part I & II.”
I'd appreciate any insight or advice that you've got.
Q: Hi Mike,
When working out, like running, is it best to keep cool or put on extra clothes like you see boxers do?
It's best to be warm to the point of breaking a little sweat, but wearing excessive clothes like sweats can be detrimental. Being hot reduces your ability to train hard and recover during your workout.
My advice, especially in the winter, would be to layer your clothing. Then, as your body's temperature begins to rise during the course of the workout, take pieces of clothing off till you’re comfortable. This way no matter what the temperature in the gym or outside you can adjust accordingly.
Q: I read your article on carbs, proteins and fats. I still have no clue what to eat or how much (or how little).What are the best foods to eat and what should I avoid? I am trying to lose 25 pounds and tone up. I am a 36-year-old female. Where can someone go to find out a specialized diet "just for them?” Would you recommend a personal trainer? I love to work out but the weight just isn't coming off. Please help.
Attached you'll find some good info that I give to my trainees: a Banned Foods list; an Authorized Foods list; and a list of Nutritional Principles. Also, I would like you to read the following articles "Fats, Cholesterol and the Lipid Hypothesis" and "Every Journey begins with one step.” They're under my fitness section.
I feel for you because people like yourself are continually bombarded by bad information. Industry and the media are willing to do just about anything to make a few bucks, and people like yourself just don't know where to turn. There are just a few keys you need to learn in order to get started in the right direction.
One of the biggest keys to losing weight is the amount and type of carbohydrates you consume. I don’t care what books or magazine articles you've read or who wrote them -- controlling your insulin levels is the whole ball of wax when it comes to proper nutrition and losing body fat. Insulin is the fat storage hormone. The higher your serum levels are, the more fat you will store. The fatter you get, the more insulin insensitive you become. The more insulin insensitive you become, the more insulin your pancreas produces. It's a vicious cycle.
Start by recording what you eat every day. Find out how many carbs you eat, excluding fiber. If you don't lose weight, start lowering your carbs by 20 percent. Replace those carbs with salads and protein and see what happens over a two-week period and so on.
I am going to start doing phone consultations again. If you are interested, I can send you some info. I really appreciate you reading my articles. Be patient and keep trying.
Good luck Mich.
Q: Hey Mike,
I am a firefighter in Georgia and I’m looking for something to give me an edge in the gym, which will transfer to better job performance. I have been taking about 200 grams of protein per day, as well as creatine. I want something that will give me big gains quickly. I’ve thought of doing a cycle, but I have to be able to pass a drug screen at any given time. I also have a history of testicular cancer so I do not want to take something that is contraindicated with my history. What kind of test booster or supplements would you recommend? Thanks for your time.
A: Wes, good to hear from a brother fireman. I work for the city of Lorain, Ohio. Too many guys on this job do not take care of themselves and it pisses me off. Their inability to perform can affect their brothers during a dangerous scene. This is a job that requires you to depend on others, not only to do the job but for your safety. Thanks for taking an interest in bettering yourself.
First, if I were you, I would go to a life extension clinic or an endocrinologist and get extensive blood work done. The reason I mention a life extension clinic is because the vast majority of family physicians haven't a clue when it comes to hormone replacement therapy. However, if you feel your family doctor is progressive, you can give him/her a try.
If your blood test shows that your total testosterone and free testosterone levels are low, hormone replacement will correct this. A “cycle” of anabolics, on the other hand, is only a temporary fix, because the gains are not permanent. Once the cycle is over you will return to what your body can support genetically and hormonally.
If going to the doctor is out of the question, the only supplement I would consider would be Alpha Male by Biotest. This will help, but if you are really deficient in testosterone it's not going to be the answer to your problem.
Let me know what happens,
Q: Hi, I'm a 14-year-old kid and I'm looking to lose some body fat and gain muscle mass and strength. I am currently doing five sets of 10 push-ups every night and five sets of 15 sit-ups. I eat eggs in the morning and pizza and water for lunch.
Can you help me improve my routine? Since I currently don't have any weights, I do push-ups and sit-ups. I would appreciate it if you could tell me what to eat, what exercises to do and other things like that. I am 5-foot-5-inches and 140 pounds and this is what I eat and do throughout the day:
Morning: eat three scrambled egg whites or two bowls of cereal, drink two glasses of water.
Afternoon: eat one piece of pizza, drink pink lemonade or water.
Evening: My mom usually cooks tacos or chicken meals with rice, and usually everything comes with a salad.
At night I do three sets of 15 push-ups, with 10-second rests between sets and three sets of 20 crunches with feet in the air.
Please help me! Thanks.
Concerning your diet, I would like you to start eating whole eggs with your egg whites. The egg white can be from your average egg from the grocery store; however, the whole eggs should be "Cage Free All Natural Eggs" or "Omega-3 Eggs.” The brand I currently use is Land-O-Lakes. They are highly nutritious and are a great source of omega-3 fatty acids. Omega-3 fatty acids are essential to good health, but, unfortunately, our food supply is basically devoid of them.
Americans, especially young Americans like yourself, subsist largely on highly processed food. And even when you do eat "good" food, most of it is severely lacking any nutritional content. The lack of omega-3 and other nutrients in the American diet has reached epidemic proportions.
Here is a short list of some of omega-3's benefits:
Essential for proper development; insures cell membrane health; fights cardiovascular disease; fights strokes; helps keep the heart beating properly; prevents depression; used to treat bipolar disorder; improves immunity; and improves ability to burn fat as fuel.
If your mom is concerned about the cholesterol found in eggs being bad for you, let her know cholesterol does not cause heart disease. A good source of info for her would be to read “Fats, Cholesterol and the Lipid Hypothesis,” and visit www.westonaprice.com.
Marshal, I would like you to cut out all sugar-filled drinks bought in a store. The fructose contained in these drinks is a main source of obesity, especially among young people. Although, If you or your mom make lemonade or another drink and use cane sugar, once in a while is OK.
Pizza every day for lunch needs to come to an end. Once or twice a week is more like it. I would like you to start eating turkey, chicken or roast beef sandwiches for lunch. If you eat school lunches do the best you can, but everything there is garbage. Taking a lunch is much better.
Dinners sound pretty good, but I would like to see you eating fish twice per week. Make sure it's the fish from the seafood counter in the store not the breaded frozen garbage.
Got a question for Mike? Send it to firstname.lastname@example.org.