mind pump strength training

The Best of Mind Pump | Advice on Diet, Exercise, Fasting, & Supplements

Mind Pump consists of Adam Schafer (@mindpumpadam), Sal Di Stefano (@mindpumpsal), and Justin Andrews (@mindpumpjustin). Together, the trio have 50+ years of combined personal training experience. When it comes to strength training and general health advice, they know their stuff. Below is a compilation of the lessons from their best podcasts. 

Key Takeaways

  • Eat more protein. For maximum benefits, aim to consume 1 gram of protein per pound of body weight per day.
  • Ditch the sugar and processed foods—you’ll be much better off
  • Think twice about going vegan
  • Aim to obtain nutrients from whole foods before supplementing. Supplements serve to supplement your diet.
  • Supplement to fill micronutrient deficiencies before supplementing to enhance performance
  • Strength training has MANY, MANY benefits, a few of which include:
    • “Studies show, for men, you’re going to get a 15-25% increase, on average, in your testosterone levels from lifting weights” – Sal Di Stefano
    • Improved mood
    • Increased insulin sensitivity
    • Enhanced cognitive function

I. Diet

A. Eat More Protein

Why?

  • A food’s “thermic effect” is the amount of energy your body burns to process it. Compared to carbohydrates and fats, gram for gram, protein’s thermic effect is 10-15% higher, making it the most thermogenic macronutrient. It’s also, by far, the most satiating. Because of this, upping your protein intake is one of the easiest ways to facilitate weight loss.
  • Besides weight loss, a high-protein diet aids muscle-building and helps prevent muscle (and bone) loss with old age

How much protein should you eat?

  • For maximum benefits, aim to consume 1 gram of protein per pound of body weight per day (0.6-0.8 grams per pound of body weight at the minimum, even for women)

What are the best sources of protein?

  • As best you can, try to get most of your protein from whole food sources. Then, use protein powders as necessary to fill the gap. Here’s why:
    • On a per gram basis, animal protein (e.g., meat, eggs, and dairy) has the best amino acid profile (for reference, amino acids are the building blocks of protein)
    • In addition to protein, whole foods contain many more beneficial nutrients 
  • If you’re vegan, the best plant-based protein sources include spirulina, algae, peas, hemp seeds, tofu, and edamame

Which type of protein powder is best?

  • Whey protein powder is preferable. Compared to other types (i.e., plant-based, egg-based, etc.) of protein powders, it offers the least amount of calories for the most amount of protein. It also contains the most favorable amino acid profile. Legion Whey Protein Powder is a Mind Pump favorite.

B. Ditch the Sugar and Processed Foods

  • A high-sugar diet:
    • Accelerates tooth decay
    • Increases visceral body fat
    • Increases heart disease risk
    • Increases propensity for acne
    • Accelerates skin & cellular aging
    • Makes you susceptible to mood swings
  • Ultra-processed foods are filled with sugar and inflammatory vegetable oils—two things we could all use less of
  • An ultra-processed food-heavy diet causes you to over-consume ~500 additional calories every day. That’s right; processed foods are engineered to make you eat MORE.

C. Think Twice About Going Vegan

  • Going vegan requires WAY more meal planning (assuming you still attempt to eat healthy)
  • Nutrient deficiencies (e.g., vitamin A, vitamin B12, calcium, zinc, and iron) are more common among vegans 
  • When a person eliminates eggs, milk, and meat from their diet, they’re also removing the most non-processed foods from their diet (which, on average, most people tend to replace with processed foods)
  • It’s possible, but VERY difficult, to hit your protein requirements following a vegan or vegetarian diet
  • Animal protein is far more bioavailable than plant protein (it has a more favorable amino acid profile). Plant proteins do contain essential amino acids, but MUCH lower amounts compared to animal proteins.

D. Fasting

Prolonged Fasting Has Many Healthy Benefits

  • Fasting increases neurogenesis, the growth of new brain cells and neuron connections
  • After ~48-72 hours of fasting, the body’s older/unhealthy cells start to self-destruct through a process known as autophagy
  • Fasting changes your relationship with food. A periodic prolonged fast helps you realize that skipping a meal now and then won’t kill you.
  • The single most black and white thing you can do to reduce your risk of cancer is to incorporate regular prolonged fasts 

Fasting Tips

  • Lead into a prolonged fast with a low-carbohydrate/ketogenic-type diet that’s relatively low-calorie. Your last meal before an extended fast should NOT be carb-heavy/high-calorie—that’s a recipe for disaster.
  • To break a prolonged fast, eat something small and light on the stomach, like a bowl of cooked vegetables with bone broth. In general, aim to eat easily digestible foods in small portions. Otherwise, you’re in for a horrible stomach ache.
  • During a prolonged fast, blood pressure tends to drop—this can cause you to feel dizzy when standing up or sitting down. To prevent this, add some salt to your water (or drink mineral water).
  • When fasting, stay on top of your sleep—your body needs it
  • After refeeding, know that it’s normal for your first bowel movement to be diarrhea

Do NOT Look at Fasting as an Easy Way to Lose Weight

  • Most of the time, people who fast for weight loss end up gaining it back due to bingeing
  • Also, if you take someone who’s always been afraid of being overweight and tell them to start skipping meals, it’s a recipe for making their relationship with food TERRIBLE

This Point is Key

  • Before you jump on the intermittent/prolonged fasting bandwagon, make sure you’re eating enough vegetables, fiber, and protein. Are you hitting your micronutrient requirements as it is? If not, tackle that problem before you start skipping meals

II. Supplements

A. First, Know This

  • “Diet, exercise, and lifestyle make up 98% of pretty much any result you’re gonna get; the other 2% comes from effective supplements” – Sal Di Stefano
  • Aim to obtain nutrients from whole foods before supplementing. Supplements serve to *supplement* your diet.
  • Before supplementing with ANYTHING, get blood work to discover your nutrient deficiencies; several sites allow you to do so online:

B. The 5 Most Overrated Supplements

1) Branched-Chain Amino Acids (BCAAs)

  • “If your protein intake is relatively high [0.6-1.0 grams of protein per pound of body weight], branched-chain amino acid supplements are a complete and utter waste of money” – Sal Di Stefano

2. Fat Burners

  • A fat burner can help you lose weight, but because you’re likely to build up a high tolerance to the stimulants, you’ll feel like CRAP after you stop taking it

3) Nitric Oxide Boosters

  • Nitric oxide supplements are marketed to help people get a better “pump” in the gym by increasing blood nitric oxide levels. However, there’s no proof an exogenous supplement can increase blood levels of nitric oxide.

4) Testosterone Boosters

  • “If you already have normal levels of testosterone, a testosterone booster won’t put you above your normal range. It’s a waste of money for somebody whose testosterone is already normal.” – Adam Schafer

5) Collagen Protein

  • Similar to BCAAs, if your protein intake is adequate, collage protein doesn’t do anything special. Many claim it improves skin, hair, and nail health, but it only does so in people eating low protein diets—ANY protein source would do the same thing. 

B. Supplement to Fill Nutrient Deficiencies

  • The most common nutrient deficiencies: Vitamin B6, iron, vitamin D, iodine, vitamin C, vitamin B12, calcium, magnesium, folate, vitamin A, and omega-3 fatty acids

C. After Filling Your Nutrient Deficiencies, Supplement to Enhance Performance

  • Protein powder (aim to get 0.6-1.0 grams per pound of body weight from whole foods; if you can’t, use protein powder)
  • Creatine monohydrate (2-5 grams/day)
    • “Supplementing with creatine has been shown, across the board, in thousands of studies, to have tremendous muscle-building benefits—the side effect of which is fat loss. Lots of studies also show multiple health benefits from supplementing with creatine.” – Sal Di Stefano
  • Caffeine paired with theanine (theanine smooths out caffeine’s adverse effects: the jitteriness, the accompanying crash, etc.)
  • Adaptogens help the body cope with stress. Popular adaptogens include ashwagandhacordyceps, and rhodiola

III. Exercise

A. Why strength train in the first place?

The Most Important Reason

  • Having more muscle speeds up your metabolism. Nothing helps your body burn more calories (naturally) like resistance training.

Exercise Improves Cognitive Function

  • “All exercise raises a chemical in the brain called BDNF (brain-derived neurotrophic factor), which is like Miracle Grow for neurons” – Sal Di Stefano

Strength Training Enhances Libido and Improves You Sex Hormone Profile

  • “Studies show, for men, you’re going to get a 15-25% increase, on average, in your testosterone levels from lifting weights”Sal Di Stefano
  • For women, resistance training improves progesterone/estrogen balance
  • “Resistance training will boost your libido more than any other form of exercise. If you want to get horny, and you want to find a form of exercise that will help you do that, lift weights. Nothing does it better.” – Sal Di Stefano

Resistance Training Improves Your Mood

  • Resistance exercise has been associated with a 45% reduction in depressive symptoms according to a meta-analysis of 33 randomized control trials (study)
  • “Studies are showing that exercise is as effective as many drugs used to treat mild to moderate forms of depression” – Sal Di Stefano
  • “Neuroscientists noticed a while ago that the hippocampus part of the brain in people with depression and anxiety tends to be smaller … Exercise supports nerve cell growth in the hippocampus.” – Sal Di Stefano

Strength Training Gives You the Formula for Life

  • “When you learn to strength train and lift weights properly with the intent to build muscle and burn body fat, you end up piecing together the formula that applies to almost everything else in your life—great things take hard work, there will always be setbacks, and consistency is highly important.” – Adam Schafer

Resistance Training is an Insurance Policy Against Chronic Disease

  • The more muscle you have, the higher your insulin sensitivity. The more insulin sensitive you are, the lower your risk for type 2 diabetes, Alzheimer’s disease, and various forms of cancer.

B. The Best Exercises for Each Body Part

We provided links to the exercises most people probably haven’t heard of. If anything else seems foreign, give it a quick YouTube search.

Mind Pump consists of Adam Schafer (@mindpumpadam), Sal Di Stefano (@mindpumpsal), and Justin Andrews (@mindpumpjustin). Together, the trio have 50+ years of combined personal training experience. When it comes to strength training and general health advice, they know their stuff. It’s time we compiled their wisdom. 

Key Takeaways

  • Eat more protein. For maximum benefits, aim to consume 1 gram of protein per pound of body weight per day.

Table of Contents

  • I. Diet
    • A. Eat More Protein
      • Why?
      • How much protein should you eat?
      • What are the best sources of protein?
      • Which type of protein powder is best?
    • B. Ditch the Sugar and Processed Foods
    • C. Think Twice About Going Vegan
    • D. Fasting
      • Prolonged Fasting Has Many Health Benefits
      • Fasting Tips
      • Do NOT Look at Fasting as an Easy Way to Lose Weight
      • This Point is Key
  • II. Supplements
    • A. First, Know This
    • B. The 5 Most Overrated Supplements
    • C. After Filling Your Nutrient Deficiencies, Supplement to Enhance Performance
  • III. Exercise
    • A. Why strength train in the first place?
    • B. The Best Exercises for Each Body Part
    • C. The Rules of Bicep & Tricep Training
    • D. The Rules of Chest Training
    • E. The Rules of Shoulder Training
    • F. The Rules of Leg Training
    • G. The Rules of Back Training
    • H. Exercise Myths: Dispelled

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