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How You Can Build Strength And Healthy Muscles At Any Age [E034]

crossfit classIt’s amazing – the small percentage of people who are comfortable in there on skin these days. There are very few people who would say they are living at their ideal weight. Whether the goal is to lose or gain weight. In this episode, you can discover how to build healthy muscle at any age. Either, gaining healthy muscles and bulking up or losing weight and thinning down.

Table Of Contents

An Introduction To Healthy Muscles

Dr. Bryan: So a special episode number 34. Hey, first of all, let me take a minute just to say thank you. What’s cool, six months ago when we decided to start to syndicate a podcast show like this, you have no idea who’s going to listen on the opposite side of the microphones, and it’s really neat to see that comments and downloads have happened from multiple countries around the world, which really, really, really means that you guys have actually shared in our mission of helping people get well and stay well by sharing some of these episodes that you thought could be valuable. So thank you from the bottom of our hearts for doing that.

Dr. Jason: Yeah, thank you very much.

Dr. Bryan: So today we’re going to talk about healthy muscle building at any age. And we’re going to just kind of rip through some ways that you may be able to build some strength if that’s one of your goals, or pack on some pounds, believe it or not some people want that, or just to get your frame to look, if it’s aesthetic improvements you’re looking for, to look a certain way, or even for you to be able to function at a level that allows you to keep up with your family members and friends the way that you want. So here we go.

Why we try to gain weight

Dr. Bryan: All right, so first of all, how many times have you and I, now, those that don’t know us never met us, we’re relatively thin people. Over the last 20 years, how many times do you think we’ve made attempts to try to gain weight?

Dr. Jason: Countless. Literally countless.

Dr. Bryan: And we’ve done that … And hopefully we’re not offending anybody, for those of you that have the opposite problem and they’re always trying to lose weight, but we’ve done that in attempts of trying to, truth be told, at some point we just wanted to probably physically look a certain way. Right?

Dr. Jason: Yeah. Well, truth be told, at one point obviously I want to get girls.

Dr. Bryan: Right, so-

Dr. Jason: To be honest and then I went from … I just want to like, now that I got my girl, I got my wife, I’m not doing it for that reason, but I want to make sure that I feel strong and healthy. Again, being very sensitive to those out there that struggle with weight gain, I’m going to just share a little bit of my … Can I share my story? Is that okay?

Dr. Bryan: Absolutely.

Dr. Jason’s love of weightlifting

Dr. Jason: All right, I’ll share my story, give you a little background about this in this path and really were, it does have relevance to people out there, men and women. I was very, very skinny as a kid and like senior year I graduated, and I fudged all the numbers on my basketball rosters, but truthfully when I graduate I was probably about 5’9 and three quarters and maybe 135 pounds, maybe and skin and bones and I was very self-conscious about that. So when I went to college, I fell in love with weightlifting. My senior year in high school, I hooked up with a trainer that one of my cousins knew and he took me into the gym, he started teaching me and I just went head over heels.

Dr. Jason: I was going to the max. I remember him thinking … and he said this to me, he goes, “I wish that all my clients put this much intensity that you do.” I was like 16 at the time and so something just clicked for me, but it clicked because I was sick of being skinny and small, my entire life. So I found a way that I could actually work on putting on healthy muscle. Through that journey, I found that there was an entire focus in a college curriculum called exercise physiology, or exercise science. It was extremely detailed the biomechanics, biochemistry of how the human body works and how the cardiovascular and muscular systems work.

Dr. Jason: So I just fell head over heels with it. I was blessed to be studying under some preeminent professors throughout the world actually and I was able to conduct research under them.

Megarexia and the feeling of not being big enough

Dr. Jason: So I share this with you, because I fast forward is for those people who have a body image of they think they’re too heavy and they want to lose weight, well there’s the other world with people out there just like me that were sick of being tiny and literally got to the point where I was even unhealthy. There was a borderline where they call megarexia, which is I was doing anything impossible I could to put on weight, to getting up in the middle of the night and having protein shakes to being obsessive about it.

Dr. Jason: I never took steroids, but I came close a couple of times because the disease in my head of not being good enough, or not being manly enough because I wasn’t big was a story that kept on playing in my head .

Dr. Jason: So for those of you who are like me that have had a hard time putting on weight, that’s always kind of in the back of my head. So that’s still what drives me in many ways. It’s openly, at times it’s healthy and then times when I doubt myself, I’m like, “Oh man, I’m looking too skinny. Like I feel like I’m looking older because I’m looking skinnier. I got to put on more muscle and more and more meat.”

Dr. Bryan: Well, I appreciate you sharing that. For the people that didn’t know that story, I think that my reasons are totally different, but it doesn’t matter. It’s really important to know that if one of your goals is to pack on weight and gain healthy muscles, then you should have access to the knowledge and the wisdom on how to do that.

How To Build Healthy Muscles In Your 20s

Dr. Bryan: Like how you would approach building muscle from a perspective of maybe a young athlete, or doesn’t even have to be an athlete, but even somebody that’s in the range of around college. As their body is still developing and maturing and then we can touch on how somebody that’s in the 50s or forties or 60s range, how they may go about approaching this.

Dr. Bryan: Because I think the fundamentals have some overlap, but the strategy might be a little different.

Dr. Jason: They do, and even as I share this story with you in regards to … and just being very open in regards to some of the emotional ups and downs of going through that journey. I sit here now with a much healthier perspective and looking back in regards to the ways that you can do it in a healthy way, in a way to honor your body, whether like you just said as well, to be strong in the competitive fields but also strong in your self-image field if you will. So from a my 20 year old’s perspective, I think it’s important, and we’ve got to recognize it, especially in men, I can speak specifically to men because we are guys.

Dr. Jason: Is that at that timeframe, your testosterone levels are peaking. In your mid to late twenties you’re topping out, your testosterone levels are not going to max out much more than that, at least naturally, without the use of steroids. So you’re at a prime time. So if you’re looking to gain mass or put on weight, that’s the window baby. Like that’s, that’s the time.

Testosterone’s involvement in muscle building

Dr. Bryan: Why? How does testosterone relate to muscle building?

Dr. Jason: It’s a huge hormone that literally drives … It’s an anabolic hormone. So anabolic means building, catabolic means breaking down.

Dr. Jason: So testosterone is an anabolic hormone that drives our body growing. It drives sexual organs and sexual functions as well. So it’s all about producing, procreating, growing. So in your 20s you’re coming out of high school, you’re going into college, and now you’re going to a spot where it’s that sweet spot in life as well, where there’s really not a ton of stress. I mean, there really is.

Dr. Jason: I know that if you’re 20 and you’re listening to this, or you’ve got kids and they’re in the 20s, they think there’s a lot of stress, but as you all know, then you’re in the 30s and 40s and then beyond that, there’s real stress. You got jobs and kids. So you’re in a place where there’s not a lot of stress overall. So your cortisol levels are lower in general and cortisol is a catabolic or destructive type of a hormone.

Dr. Bryan: That’s what we get when we age, right, typically.

Dr. Jason: Right. And so most people in their twenties as well, are at a college, university, or if they didn’t choose to go college or university maybe they’re bunking up with buddies and they’re hanging out in apartments and they’re eating whenever they want, they got ample time to lift. Maybe they’re working or they’re in school all day. So that’s really … A focus is I’m going to eat, I’m going to work or go to school and I’m going to train and I’m going to asleep and might go out and have some fun and some beers.

You need to lift weights

Dr. Bryan: I remember just funny story, I remember being young and I played multiple sports myself and so my metabolism was probably really high, like about testosterone being high, all the things that are pushing my body into the growth and production phases that you’re describing. I literally could remember just crushing pork chops, like a dinner, or just taking down massive amount of food and not gaining any weight.

Dr. Jason: Well part of that is due to the fact, like you just said, testosterone is high, your activities are high but unbeknownst to you maybe at the time, and this is one of the things I was studying even in my 20s, is there’s an optimal time that you can … a window if you will, of time where you can pretty much eat anything and the body will turn it into healthy muscles and believe it or not, as we go into the 30 the forties and beyond, that same exact timeframe still lives in your body. So when we train … First of all you have to lift weights.

Dr. Jason: If you’re looking to put on mass, you really either have to do weightlifting or high level calisthenics and that’s your body weight stuff. So you have to do push ups, pull ups, air squats, one arm pull ups for body weight stuff. Handstand push ups, things that you’ll see a gymnast do.

Dr. Jason: You have to. Otherwise the muscle has no reason to go beyond what it’s already doing. There’s no stress for it to grow beyond. If you’re like a skinny guy like I was, you have to do something to tell the muscle, “I need you to push past your present capacity” And that can only happen with resistance exercise.

The Story of a Young Boy and a Calf

Dr. Jason: Well, there’s a cool story. So you’ve seen my library of home, it’s filled with exercise and body movement books and journals and there’s a repetitive story that many of these great authors in these books write about. I think it’s a Greek mythology story, or whatnot. But it’s about a young boy who is a few years old and there’s a baby calf that he grows up on a farm with and everyday for fun he picks up the calf and he walks around with the calf on his shoulders just as like a boy playing was a pet. Because he views this calf as a pet. Well every day and every week he does this. So what happens over time as the calf is eating more grass, what’s it doing?

Dr. Bryan: Growing.

Dr. Jason: Yeah, it’s getting bigger but every single day that little boy is putting that calf over shoulders and walk around playing with his little calf. As time goes on, the calf is getting and turning into a full on cow and this boy is turning into a young man and he’s picking up a cow and putting over his shoulders and walking around like no big deal because over time he has slowly introduced new stress to his body that his body responded to by getting stronger and gaining more healthy muscles. So a feat like picking up a cow and putting it over your shoulders to anyone right now it’s like, “Oh my gosh, I could never do that.” But if you start it out when the cow was a calf and slowly build strength, you could see like, “Oh my gosh, I could see that.”

Healthy Muscles develop over time

Dr. Jason: I don’t know if that’s mythology or that story is true, but the concept’s exactly how using resistance exercise works in the human body. So when you see on TV the 60 or 70 year old man, he’s squatting four or 500 pounds. Guys, he did not just start last year. He’s been doing this for decades. Just like when we had Mr. Logan on a past episode, that guy had been training on a cycle, on a bike for decades before he’s a world champion. It’s develops over time.

Dr. Bryan: So your body is adapting to that, which is when you’re saying Greek mythology, what I’m hearing … but just think of it, that same exact thing happens in human beings while a mother is carrying a newborn through their pregnancy. It doesn’t start off with coming out on a a car seat and actually it weighs 10 pounds and then all of a sudden you’re lugging around all this extra weight that your body, the woman can’t withhold.

Dr. Bryan: You have a nine month incubation period where your body’s slowly adapting to the new weight and the new structure and you’re building more musculature. It’s really the same thing.

Increased caloric intake is a must

Dr. Jason: So hold on, let’s go back to the twenties so remember, we were in our twenties so we kind of went on a little sidebar on that one. So in the 20s is an optimal time, specifically for a male because the hormones of testosterone, which are a sex driving, muscle-building protein, or hormone are ripe. So you got to make sure you introduce high levels of calories to support the new muscle growth. I don’t care if you’re a skinny guy or someone who just wants to pack on more muscle and you’ve got a good frame already. You have to increase your caloric needs because as I start use weights to break down muscle, well I have to repair the healthy muscles and the only thing that we can do to repair is put calories in.

Dr. Jason: So we want to increase our caloric intake in our 20s and even in our 30s and 40s.

Dr. Bryan: So if somebody … I’m not meaning to intentionally put you on the spot if you don’t know the answer to this but inevitably everything in the American diet’s formulated around this 2000 calorie thing.

Dr. Bryan: For the day and it’s not a one size fits all approach. Every human being in the structure’s different.

Dr. Jason: It’s 100% completely dependent on a couple of factors. One is how much calories you’re burning in the course of a day. 20 year olds, like you alluded to awhile back, just a few moments ago, I should say, you burn calories like crazy, most 20 year olds do, right?

Dr. Jason: So you’re going to need to get more calories in, way more than that 2,000, I mean way more, to be able to get that range.

Building Muscles In Your 30s & 40s

Dr. Jason: Now as you go into your 30s the same principles exist. If you want to put on mass in your 30s and even your 40s you have to force the healthy muscles to grow.

Dr. Jason: So even in my 30s and 40s, I have to introduce resistance exercise at least three or four days a week. Now coming back to that calorie question, if I’m sitting for all my day versus back in the day when I was in my 20s, I was sitting in class for three hours and going and playing Frisbee in the commons and then going to workout and then we’re chasing whatever around. It’s just like you’re burning calories more in the 30s you’re not. So you got to watch that. So you’re going to have … there are different apps out there, BodyArmor’s got a great … I think it’s called MyFitnessPal.

Dr. Bryan: It’s great. So two things, regardless of your age. So far, correct me if I’m wrong, but I’m hearing if you want to build muscle, you’ve got to put some resistance training out there in some capacity.

Dr. Bryan: Number two is, you’ve got to, if you want to gain mass or gain muscles, then you need to up your calories. Your calories got to be higher than what you’re burning. So my followup question to that would be are all calories created equally? Or can I just feed myself … there’s a ton of high calorie things like french fries, right?

Best Types Of Calories To Consume For Healthy Muscles

Dr. Bryan: But what is the best type of calories to potentially consider consuming, maybe if I’m wanting to build muscle as my outcome?

Dr. Jason: Well, a couple things. There’s a few factors in that. The first is you got to be able to engorge your healthy muscles ahead of time before the workout with sugar so it actually can fire or contract. So again, if you don’t have proper blood sugar and your muscles are in gorge with that wonderful macronutrient, then when you go into the gym, you’re not going to be able to push this much weight, which in turn doesn’t break down the muscle, which in turn won’t allow you to build muscle.

Dr. Jason: So the first thing you got … you have to have adequate carbohydrates in your body to be able to go and build healthy muscles. But you need protein to repair the muscle and then you also need fats just in general for … fats actually help create hormones. So me in my 40s I’ve got to really watch my fat intake in a good way.

Dr. Jason: For me personally, again, due to the specific blood testing and we just recently did on me, I got to actually up my fat because I was lower than I needed to be to actually create more hormones. So in general, there’s just a blanket like … I could give you like a a blanket ratio. You want to be about 40% carbohydrates and 30% protein and 30% fat in a diet. Now your caloric needs are going to change based on how big you already are today.

One gram of protein per pound of body weight

Dr. Jason: There’s one more key, can I interrupt real quick. There’s one more key with that. One goal that anyone can be looking to do, and this would also apply to females too, is one gram of protein per pound of body weight.

Dr. Bryan: During the muscle building phase?

Dr. Jason: Yeah, so when you’re looking at your daily caloric intake, if you’re trying to put on lean mass, whether I’m a hundred pound woman or I’m 160 pound man, I minimally want one gram of protein. So 160 grams of protein for that guy or a hundred grams of protein for that young lady.

Dr. Bryan: Holy smokes.

Dr. Jason: Yeah, because you just tore the muscle down, right?

Dr. Bryan: No I get that, yeah.

Dr. Jason: So you have to find a way to build it-

Dr. Bryan: Yeah, it’s interesting. It seems like, and again, I don’t know the exact amount of protein that’s in like a chicken breast, maybe 20 grams, 30 grams right, on average?

Dr. Jason: Yeah. You’d be surprised once you actually put your mindset to like, “Listen, I know that I need to get my calories up,” and you start moving away from like coming to crappier filler foods, like just breads, pastas, fried foods. And you need to start saying, “You know what? I’m going to have a piece of chicken or salmon or steak, I’m going to marry it up with a sweet potato,” you’ll get those proteins in a lot faster. It’s not … and then you can use supplementations and shakes and whatnot to close that gap.

Do Not Eat Trash

Dr. Jason: One thing I do want to share as well though Bry is, I alluded to before and I’m certain of this based on every phase of my life up to this point, I’ve tested it and it still holds true, is whether you’re in your 20s, 30s, or 40s the principle of adding resistance exercise to your life and then marrying up with proper calorie intake and specifically, I don’t care if 30s, 40s, 50s, 60s, after you work out, within 60 minutes you have a window, you can pretty much eat trash and your body will turn it into healthy muscles. It’s a crazy, wonderful thing.

Dr. Bryan: Ladies and gentlemen, don’t try that at home.

Dr. Jason: Yeah, don’t eat trash, but like that’s it. It will literally work and you will see the gains will happen because you’re naturally … you’re body’s saying, “Okay, I’m open to building healthy muscles right now.” And so even right after my workout, within 60 minutes, I’ll take my protein shake, I’ll take a banana and I’ll take a tablespoon of raw turbinado sugar and I’ll put it in my blender and I’ll blend it up because I want the protein and I want the sugar, real sweet sugar.

Dr. Jason: I don’t want any fats. I don’t want any vegetables right after that time, I want them driving into my muscle because the sugar will drive my insulin up. The insulin’s like a taxi cab. So it says, “Oh hey, come on sugar. Hey, come on protein, get on in, I’ll take you to the muscle,” and it takes it right to the muscle.

Recommended supplements for muscle gain

Dr. Bryan: All right. We have a couple short minutes left. We had talked about the resistance training as a must if you want to build muscles, which a lot of people know that, so that’s good just to remind everybody. I think you have to be aware that if you’re trying to gain muscle, then you have to up your calories more so than what you’re burning. If you want to lose weight, it’s probably the opposite, you have many ways.

Dr. Bryan: Are there any recommendations that you would have in terms of supplementation, or protein powders, or things that you think would be valuable or do you stick with food?

Dr. Jason: I love whole food as much as I possibly can, but I recognized it’s darn near impossible for me to get it all in, in eating whole food. So I do shakes. I do at least two mega shakes in a day where I’ll take my protein, I’ll mix it up. One of my shakes has got your fruits in it, it’s got some vegetables in it, it’s got protein, it’s got glutamine to help restore muscles and help my gut health.

Dr. Jason: Then the other one is one right after the workout, which is just straight protein and sweet fruits. That’s it. I mean, protein shakes are the top. My friends that are still in the research game, when I reached out to them, they tell me the only three things have still been proven in research, even though all the shelves are filled with stuff are caffeine, creatine, and protein.

The need for amino acids in muscle building

Dr. Bryan: Well, let’s finish on this. One of the common things that I’ve heard people bring up or have some confusion around is the need for amino acids in this process. Is there a use for supplementation with amino acids?

Dr. Jason: Yes.

Dr. Bryan: For muscle building, or is it for recovery, or where does that fit in?

Dr. Jason: I think they go hand in hand, muscle building and recovery because you’re not going to just put in amino acids ahead of time for the workout. I mean you could technically maybe in the morning, let it get in your bloodstream, but when you go into the gym, you want your muscles to be primed with the sugar.

Dr. Jason: Maybe some low lying fats that you’ve taken in earlier in the day just so they have the energy source to move weight but afterwards, yeah, amino acid, that’s what your protein, whether it be a steak, whether it be a salmon, whether it be your protein shakes, can come in handy and have all the amino acid profiles that you need. Then for some people there may be a desire to supplement some individual amino acids, but again, that’s going to be more on a tailored basis. Again, a 20 year old’s not going to need that same supplement profile that a 40 year old’s going to need. It’s not going to happen.

Closing Thoughts

Dr. Bryan: Awesome. Awesome. Well listen, I know that it’s probably a smaller percentage of the listeners that are trying to gain weight than maybe trying to lose weight, but there are people out there and because of this … the whole purpose of this show is to help people get well and stay well. There are both sides of that coin that needed to be talked about and that’s why we wanted to touch base on it because we do get asked those questions periodically.

Dr. Bryan: If there are things that you want to hear about, that you want us to speak on, that you want us to do research on, that you’d like us to actually consider putting a show around, then shoot us a message.

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