Monthly Archives: April 2009

Training Frequency and Protein Intake

The Serious Strength team of instructors are a unique bunch of dedicated professionals. I have the honor of working with them each and every day. One of the best things we all share is the common belief that if we can make the training better or more productive for the client (all the while focusing on safety), we should.

In other words, we are not tied to a way of training for the sake of sticking to a set and previously accepted training paradigm. No – we are all instead tied to obeying well done research and, when we discover new training territory – even if it disagrees with what we are currently doing for clients (and even if the evidence is purely anecdotal), we strongly consider it.

Case in point, I  just received this email from one of our instructors:

“Fred – Update: I weighed 154 pounds in November."

(Note: he was training 1-2X a week for many months and gained well, but was topped out at 160lbs. He asked me what to do and I said add a
training day and see what happens. He is NOT a 'genetic freak' meaning, he is not someone who has the genetics for super-man like muscles.) 

"I started training 3x a week in January. When I started, I weighed 160. 13.6% body fat.

Today is 3 months of 3x week training and eating more. I weigh 167
and my body fat is 11.5%. I have put on a little under 10 pounds of


Woohoo indeed. Now to make further gains I feel he'll need to up his fat/protein intake a tad more and perhaps add a tad more volume to each session.Bear in mind that he is trying to maximize his muscle mass. Most people are not interested in doing this. One or better still two weekly strength training sessions are more than enough to halt and reverse sarcopenia (age related muscle loss) so long as you are eating enough protein. If you do not eat enough protein you will lose lean tissue at an accelerated rate. And that's bad!

If the key to productive training is recovery from the training (and it most certainly is), then logically we need to boost recovery if we are not seeing the gains we wish to see. To boost recovery, we need to eat enough fat and protein and keep carbohydrate low to moderate. But the timing of
the protein intake is CRITICAL.

This is something I had not fully considered for the past 20 years. Now, due to some very good research, I hold a different view.

I just returned from the 2009 Eastern Regional Obesity Conference hosted by the American Society of Bariatric Physicians which included the Nutrition and Metabolism Symposium in Charleston South Carolina. One of the speakers, Dr. Douglass Paddon-Jones, presented some extremely well done research indicating that if one is not getting at least 30 grams of protein per meal and especially at breakfast, muscle loss is accelerated. And you can't make up for it by eating 60 grams (even if you could) at lunch. If you miss the window, you miss it. This is especially important for seniors who usually shun protein because of the fat content which they have wrongfully been told is bad for their health. The 'lipophobes' (fat haters) are everywhere in the medical community and it is causing our seniors a slow and painful demise. Sad indeed.

So, even though more frequent strength training sessions seems to maximize lean mass gains a bit better (so long as adequate protein is ingested), it is still very apparent that 30-40 minutes of training twice per week is
sufficient for good gains. BUT again, the frequency and timing of the protein intake is a major player.

There is a good deal of research which indicates that people have a wide
variety of recovery times. But in these studies, the researchers fail to address diet. The fact is that some people eat a lot better than others for anabolism (lean growth) even though they are not consciously trying.  

As the saying goes: Eat, train, grow.

My twist to this is:

Eat enough, train enough, grow better.

A Slow-Burner asks a question part II

Jennifer wrote back to me the next day. Again, I hope this information can help some of you who read this blog:


I really appreciate you getting back to me. I must say that I was surprised and
thrilled that you were the one that actually emailed me back.

work for a lady who practices alternative nutritionally health through contact
reflex analysis. I’m not sure if you have heard of that. She sells Standard
Process whole food supplements of which I have been taking for about three
years now. I used to take about 7 different prescription medications and have
gotten off of all of them. Sandy, my boss, had the book Protein Power by the
Eads in the office and I read their book and that’s how I found out about you
and the Slow Burn technique. All of us in the office have read your book and
recommend the Slow Burn method to all of


clients. I knew that I should be following a low carb diet, but I was reluctant
to give up all of my grains until recently.

following is an example of my daily meals. Breakfast consists of a protein
shake (protein powder that I get from Sandy), made with almond milk, two to
three raw eggs, honey and a tablespoon of organic raw chocolate powder. I also
have three pieces of bacon. On the days that I work, which is only two days a
week, I usually take a salad with organic cheddar cheese, mushrooms, two boiled
eggs, ham, and topped with sunflower seeds. The days that I don’t work, I
usually have my protein shake later in the morning so I don’t always eat
“lunch.” Sometimes I will just have a protein bar (Standard Process). For
dinner, I have steak, chicken thighs, turkey kielbasa or some other type of
meat with a side, such as a baked sweet potato, broccoli sautéed in butter,
green beans, etc. I have given up rice, white potatoes, bread (even Ezekiel
bread), and pasta.

used to be a very active, athletic girl and have taken weight training classes
in college. I had to retrain myself on how to eat after years of dieting that
taught me to eat margarine and lowfat foods. I am now having to retrain myself
on how I approach exercise. I felt guilty last week for only working out two
days instead of the three that I usually work out. I know what you said in your
book about aerobic exercise, like the elliptical, but I am still struggling
with that one. I almost went and tried out for the Biggest Loser show a few
weeks ago, and I realized that I would never be able to conform to their
methods of eating and exercising. I found it interesting that you said that I should
do the elliptical machine after I do the Slow Burn on the weight machines
because I know that I would not be able to go 30 minutes. My legs are usually
shaking after I finish doing the Slow Burn. I will make sure that if I continue
to do the elliptical machine that I will do it last.

again, I appreciate you answering my email. It was very encouraging. I decided
to take my measurements so that I may be able to track my progress in a better
way. I know that my body is changing. Even my boss told me that she can tell my
shape is changing, and I can actually see my triceps a little bit. I will keep
you updated on my progress, and who knows, I may be the first person to lose
200 lbs only exercising two days a week.


And my reply:

Morning Jennifer –

I’m more than
happy to personally help anyone interested in getting themselves back to, well,
themselves. My pleasure.

The fact that you
have finally gotten off the grains whole or processed is a HUGE benefit to your
fat loss goals. If you really stay off them, you’ll see much faster fat loss
results. But still, you must be patient. I am convinced that this is why you
only lost 7 pounds in 3 months. You could have lost more like 12-20 in that
same time on a very low carb diet. Still, 7 is not that bad!
🙂 ‘Nothing to shake a stick at’ as they
say! And don’t forget (or I’ll get sore) that you are on a fat loss program not
a weight loss program. The scale records both fat loss AND muscle gains. Don’t
forget now!

As far as your
meals go, the only things that I saw that you might want to avoid (for now at
least) are the sweet potatoes. And check to see how many carbs there are in the almond
milk – it might be a lot. I’m just not sure. If so, use water and a couple of
table spoons of organic whole cream instead in your shake. It’ll still be tasty
and have zero carbs.  You want ample fat in
your protein shakes and ZERO carbs.

Don’t feel guilty
about exercising less. Remember – exercise should stimulate a positive response
as in doing your strength workout. Your body needs time to respond to the
stimulus and provide you with more muscle fibers, bone, etc. Too much exercise
gets in the way of that process. Burning calories via exercise is a total and
complete myth. It is a bogus concept and does not work. You are better off
taking a nap or doing something better with that time like learning a foreign language
or a stress relieving exercise.

Funny about the
biggest loser – they have rejected me numerous times even though one of my
clients has serious influence over the casting. And why was I rejected? My take is they know that I will destroy
the other trainer’s results-wise with a low carb diet and 2X a week of 20 minutes of strength
training. The reason why so few people reach their goals on TBL is because what
Jillian Michaels and the other trainer are doing is FAR too much exercise and
incorrect eating. I feel SOOOOO sorry for those people whenever I hesitatingly
watch the show. Really sad. PLEASE do not go on that show.

You will indeed
lose the 200 pounds with only 1 hour of exercise per week. Please don’t forget –
fat loss is all about eating in a way that allows fat stores to be released and
not stored. The best way to do this is to keep the hormone insulin low. The best
way by far to do this is to eat a low carb diet. This oversimplifies it a bit, but it is essentially correct.

Exercise must be about
positive tissue adaptation. The very best way to achieve this is by weight
lifting (strength training) and allowing for adequate recovery.

Please keep me
posted Jennifer as to your progress and I’ll help you every step of the way.

To you,


There are tens of thousands of folks like Jennifer all over this fine country who are tortured by shows like The Biggest Loser and led astray by well-meaning but horribly misinformed registered dietitians and doctors. I and many other folks aim to change this.

Fat loss is not a numbers game (calories in vs. calories out). It is a hormonal game that is best won by low carb and strength training.

Let's cheer Jennifer on!

A Slow-Burner asks a question

An online Slow Burn advocate sent this letter to me today. I though that her issues might be similar to many of yours so, I figured sharing it might be of help to some of you.

Her email:

Dear Mr. Hahn,

I am a
44-year-old white female. I started the Slow Burn workout about a month and a
half ago. I have just in the past week cut all grains out of my diet. Prior to
that, I was only eating whole organic grains.

Back in January when I started
working out, I weighed 380 lbs. I have only lost 7 pounds since January. I am
extremely frustrated because I workout three days a week. I do the elliptical
machine for 30 minutes and then do the Slow Burn technique on the weight
machines. I was just wondering when I will start seeing some results with the
weight loss. My clothes are definitely looser, and I am starting to see muscle
tone in my arms again. However, at some point because of how much I weigh, I
would think that I would see drastic results on the scales. Do you have any
suggestions or comments?? Thanks.

Jennifer P

Here's my reply:

Hi Jennifer –

Great that you
started the workout. Let me get right to the point and say that exercise is not
the answer to fat loss. Not even close. While I commend you for the effort you
are putting in, what you eat is the answer, not exercise. Since you just cut
out all grains last week, you will soon see dramatic changes pretty quickly so
long as you don’t go crazy with fruit as fruit, like all grains, are
carbohydrate. Give me a sample of your daily food intake so I can see if you
are on the right track.

 Also, you are
exercising a bit too much. Just do the SB workout twice a week (you don’t need
the elliptical either but if you want to do it do it AFTER the SB workout) and
follow my book as closely as you can.

Make sure to eat
a protein rich, low to no carb meal (or better a shake) immediately after your
workouts. Don’t skip breakfast on your training days (or ever for that matter).

Drink a gallon of
cool water a day and get at least 8 hours of sound sleep.

And remember, you
are building muscle too. If you weigh 370 pounds and after a month lose 5
pounds of fat but gain five pounds of muscle, you’ll weigh the same – right?
Right. But your in much better shape.

Stay the low carb
course and you’ll see much faster results real soon. Just remember that what you eat
is 99% of the fat loss equation. Strength training adds muscle which

 All the best,



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