As you might imagine, I get a lot of questions emailed to me each day.
Although to be honest, it would be more accurate to say, “I get a few questions emailed to me over and over again.”
Rather than just write a “FAQ” post, I thought I’d have a little fun with THREE of the questions I’ve been getting most frequently over the past few weeks.
Instead of just answering them, I’d like to give you some amusing analogies to help you remember.
That way, you’ll have instant mental access to the information, and—more importantly—I’ll have a place to refer the people who will undoubtedly ask these questions in the future.
If you’re eating a meal that’s only passably good, chances are you’ll reach for the ketchup. It tends to make things more palatable.
Just about every meal in the world can benefit from some ketchup. Even when you go to a world famous steakhouse, they set ketchup on the table—because, really, almost anything tastes better with it. (I’m mostly talking about dinner items here, but I actually have a distant cousin on my dad’s side who puts it in his chocolate chip cookies. Seriously.)
Cardio is like that. If your program is mediocre, doing cardio can help make up for whatever it’s missing in terms of caloric expenditure and fat loss. If your program is fantastic (like one of mine) doing a little extra cardio isn’t going to screw things up—ever—and will still help a bit.
I know there are a lot of pretentious chefs out there who claim that their cooking and their flavor profiles are so precise that you shouldn’t even add salt. By that same token, there are a number of trainers who would be horrified if you had the audacity to add or remove anything from the supposed masterpieces that are their training programs.
I’m here to tell you: that’s bullshit.
I’ll admit, it’s possible that there is small percentage of meals that are so precise you can’t add ketchup/salt/mustard/salsa or whatever else you want to make it taste the way YOU like; and perhaps there is a training program out there so ingeniously designed that doing extra cardio is going to derail your progress.
But I’m pretty certain that very few of us will ever eat such a meal, and I’m even more certain that none of us will ever do such a training program.
So, if you want something to taste better, add a little flavor, and if you want to speed your results, add some extra movement.
Bottom Line – throw a little ketchup on it.
First, I’ll talk about carbs—I think that, in general, people should eat slow digesting, low glycemic carbohydrates. It helps insulin levels stable and on the low side. However, I like fast digesting ones surrounding a workout, because these will elicit a spike in insulin, which is often a good thing.
Here’s where a lot of people get messed up.
Insulin is a lot like author/blogger/lover of depravity Tucker Max. After years of reading his writing, I finally got to meet Tucker last month. As I suspected, he’s hilarious and there are a lot more dimensions to his personality than just the debauchery he revels in.
Like insulin, Tucker it isn’t “bad,” just sort of misunderstood. And, more to the point (at least with regard to this analogy), Tucker and insulin are best when kept to certain specific situations.
Now, I would love to chill with the esteemed Mr. Max in a number of social situations, ranging from a frat party to a bachelor party to any wedding that wasn’t my own.
That said, I probably wouldn’t invite him to dinner with a girlfriends parents. I have every confidence that he could impress the hell out of them, but there’s also the very real possibility that he’d offend them. I just don’t know Tucker well enough to guess which side he’d bring out.
Just as Tucker is best at a party or on a stage, insulin is best just after a workout.
When you train hard and create microtrauma, the most beneficial thing you can do is get amino acids and other repairing nutrients to the site of the “damage” right away.
In this regard, it’s important to note that insulin first and foremost an agent of storage, and to a lesser degree transport.
So, spiking insulin post workout—provided this is done concurrent with dosing with amino acids or fast digesting proteins—can be beneficial.
I covered that a bit in the nutrition guide, but if you want a more fleshed out piece, check this blog post.
Now, it’s certainly true that insulin isn’t bad, and it’s also true that keeping insulin levels low at all times isn’t necessary. You CAN make progress just by keeping them stable—it’s just a bit less predictable.
Insulin and Tucker have my utmost respect—and with that comes a healthy does of hesitation to let them run rampant.
(Note – Tucker, if you read this, I accept your challenge to do battle, but my standup sucks, so I would prefer all grappling.)
Here’s a true story. When I about 22, I was dating this girl. I won’t mention her name, but trust me, she turned out to be a bitch. She was also hot, in that Helen-of-Troy-I’m-going-to-ruin-your-life-and-destroy-your–opinion-of-women-kind-of-way.
Being a guy, I let the fact that she was hot overshadow the fact the also wasn’t too bright. Anyway, we were having a reasonably successful relationship; which led me to make this mistake of letting her borrow my car for a week while I was in California.
Not realizing it, she drove around with the emergency break engaged. FOR SEVEN DAYS.
That just goes to show you that it CAN be done.
In fact, not only is it possible to drive from point A to point B with your emergency brake engaged, it’s also possible to not realize it. I would hazard to guess that accelerating is a lot harder, and that you don’t get to point B as quickly or as smoothly.
So, yeah, it’s possible, but it’s not efficient, and in some ways it’s pretty dangerous—especially for the car.
Well, that’s what training with a locked up nervous system is like.
You can train, you can lift, you can lose fat, and you can gain muscle with a locked up nervous system. You can meet your goals if you never address it. It’s just harder than it has to be. It takes longer.
Getting stronger is largely neurological, so the more you engage your nervous system, the more weight you can lift; heavier weight leads to more fat loss. Engaging your nervous system will also allow you to activate more muscle, which means each and every rep is more metabolic—again, greater fat loss.
Training with an “unlocked” (efficient) nervous system allows you to lose fat faster, because each rep will be more efficient and you’ll burn more fat. Pretty simple.
More importantly, there’s less wear and tear on the car—or, in this case, your body. If you can lose more fat with fewer reps, then there is less stress on the joints and connective tissue, less risk for things like repetitive stress injuries.
So, I guess it’s not “necessary” to unlock your nervous system in the strictest sense of the word–but it’s pretty silly not to. Not only will you be fitter, you’ll be healthier and safer.
To learn more about this, check out Dr. K’s video HERE <= video
Take the E-brake off, throw your nervous system into overdrive, and proceed with Full Throttle Fat Loss.
Comments for This Entry
But What Do You Do For Cardio? | Fit 'N Fair[…] enhance recovery and get a little extra caloric expenditure—after all, as I said in a blog post, cardio is like ketchup, and adding a little in never […]
January 21, 2015 at 6:37 pm
10 Ways to Do Cardio That Sucks Lightly Less Than Most Forms of Cardio (pt 1) Roman Fitness Systems[...] enhance recovery and get a little extra caloric expenditure—after all, as I said in a blog post, cardio is like ketchup, and adding a little in never [...]
November 17, 2012 at 11:08 pm
Ronnie Lee Riggs JrI enjoy reading your posts. Very insightful and a pleasure to read.
April 10, 2012 at 6:28 pm
TylerGreat analogy man. Must love ketchup if your in the physique transformation world! Good stuff brother.
April 10, 2012 at 2:39 pm
CraigSo really, that means it's not so much an emergency *brake* as an emergency make-the-car-smell-funny lever.
September 20, 2011 at 12:55 pm
AlexHi, What do you think is better for getting lean, 20-30 mins of hiit Spin bike/treadmill or Met con circuit such as 16 reps of each exercise perform 4 circuits 1 min rest between circuits Upper body Pushing exercise Lowerbody exercise Upperbody Pulling exercise Lowerbody exercise 3 mins RPE8-9 Cardio (Spin bike/Punch bag)
September 18, 2011 at 1:05 pm
YlwaDo you think that dislike for both cardio and ketchup is related too? I've never cared much for any of it.
September 14, 2011 at 2:36 pm
ErikThis was hilarious. However I've found that some people (including myself) tend to get increased appetite if too much ketchup is added. Have you experienced this with some of your clients? Erik
September 13, 2011 at 5:03 am
DeanThis was very funny & quite clever too, Roman. Also, unlike most blogs I frequent, the replies here are worth a read as well. We get some bright comments, questions here. It's a breath of fresh air. How about some more of the above?
September 12, 2011 at 11:43 am
mohd fadzrul bin mohd salmani love how you replied most comments! keep up the good work john!
September 12, 2011 at 4:58 am
Lloyd AlaimaloRoman, great blog, good info! So that is what your neural wake up call was for? I am continuing that daily, recycling from month 1. It gets me fired up and wide awake, ready for the day's workout!
September 11, 2011 at 11:42 pm
John RomanielloAw, shucks. Thanks Sue!
September 11, 2011 at 11:09 am
John RomanielloWill do, Patty! Thanks =)
September 11, 2011 at 11:09 am
John RomanielloThanks for that Suneet; I'll do my best to keep being different than the others. Thanks for reading and commenting =)
September 11, 2011 at 11:09 am
John RomanielloHey Jorma, Thanks so much for the kind words, and the repeat visits. You keep coming back, and I'll keep writing.
September 11, 2011 at 11:06 am
John RomanielloGreat question. I'm going to be writing an entire post on program design, and how it's both art and science. I'll cover how to make it more enjoyable there.
September 11, 2011 at 11:04 am
John RomanielloHey Marie, Thanks so much for the kind words! I'm really happy you like the blog; and thank you SO much for the support and the votes--it really means a lot to me.
September 11, 2011 at 11:04 am
John RomanielloSadly, I am not =( Besides, I'm more of a Spider-Man kinda guy.
September 11, 2011 at 11:03 am
John RomanielloGreat point. Speaking generally, I like to have the shake pre-workout, excepting for those people who get nauseous if they eat before workouts (myself included)
September 11, 2011 at 10:55 am
John RomanielloNow THAT is exactly what I want to hear! You know, I dig classes and all that. I haven't done zumba, but I like spin class - hard as hell. Love it.
September 11, 2011 at 10:54 am
John RomanielloAnytime Matt! Thanks a lot for the comment
September 11, 2011 at 10:52 am
KariThanks for the ketchup! Well, actually, I'm one of those insanely experimental chicks, so I tend to jazz things up with funkier stuff. Think balsamico, coconut chutney and tamari. I might even buy banana ketchup simply because it has a monkey on the bottle. Only to decide it tastes like monkey. Just like zumba. Eww. Basically, what I'm trying to say is thanks for the heads up - I'll continue my dance classes, my yoga, my climbing things and chasing the cats around the house without losing any sleep from cardio angst.
September 11, 2011 at 5:48 am
YvonI have a particular concern with regards to insulin. In the last few years, some of my siblings (in their early 40s) have been diagnosed with Type II diabetes. They take active roles in managing. Here's my problem: I have tried pre-workout drinks, or an apple or banana. Once I'm in the gym, I often bottom out and begin to get the shakes and feel as if I'm gonna pass out. It feels as if I'm having a serious sugar low so I hurry and get some food in my body. Running causes the most problems for me. I've ended up stranded after having to stop my run and I've started bringing replenishing gels. My blood sugar levels are still normal, and I check regularly. Any suggestions o. What food to concentrate on, or a drink to help me maintain energy levels? ( hope I didn't confuse you too much. Thanks!
September 11, 2011 at 5:36 am
SeanRoman, are you batman?
September 10, 2011 at 6:07 pm
MarieJohn, this blog is so great! Not that your other ones aren't great as well, but I got a good chuckle from your analogies. Keep em coming. Oh and I'm still voting for you daily... ;)
September 10, 2011 at 5:42 pm
JormaRoman, I really appreciate he fair and balanced data. I've gotten Sooooo tired hearing that, "hormone x is always bad!" or "only do this type of workout, that type sucks"... "And here is why you need to buy MY program!" Blogs as informative, honest and entertaining as yours are few and far between. That's why I keep coming back. Keep up the great writing.
September 10, 2011 at 4:47 pm
Mike T NelsonGood stuff man! Always fun to read too! Very true on our buddy insulin, as it gets a bad rap. One thing I have done with myself and clients is move their pro/carb drink to PRE workout and just protein post training (unless they have another training session within 24 hours). Insulin is one of the best vasodilators in the body that we have some control over. That way they can still get their pump on without spendy tons of money on NO supplements that don't work and get some protein synthesis going too. Keep up the good work Rock on Mike T Nelson PhD(c)
September 10, 2011 at 4:38 pm
Risto UukI love the part where you told that it's impossible to individualize a program so that nothing could be added. We know that programming is a lot of science, but it's also an art. While we should always ask "why?" when we put something into a program as coaches, not everything can be answered with full logic, right? I mean, the number of reps, sets, frequency or even exercises. There's no way to know what's truly the best option. Speaking of which, what do you do to make programming process as fun as possible as a trainer?
September 10, 2011 at 3:06 pm
WillJohn - (I prefer that. Actually, I LIKE your full last name. I have a good friend and his parents are from Sicily and HIS last name is the same as a famous orchestra leader.) But, on to the comment. INSULIN - I am a type 2 diabetic and have been using insulin. I purchased a book written by a doctor who claims 100% success rate in CURING type 2 diabetes and improving some of those with type 1. Well, the cure is supposed to take 30 days and it involves diet and exercise. At first the exercise was for my eyeballs. Egad! The book is over 300 pages. It starts off with a non-medicalese description of the problem and 3 - 10 day procedures. It toook me a long time to read (and get) through the first 10 day process. I had a bad indescribable injury to my left leg and I was in no condition to do any exercise. I DID follow the diet schedule and it took FOREVER (months) but I did lose 20 pounds. Recently I read (from more than one source) that insulin causes you to gain weight AND it also makes it very difficult to lose weight. I was getting low numbers on my glucose tests and I reduced the insulin. The glucose tests varied quite a bit but I persisted. I completely stopped the insulin a week before Labor Day and on Labor Day, my trusty scale showed that I had lost 5 more pounds. I was in seventh heaven! In the following week I lost 2 more pounds. I haven't felt this good in 12 years. A comment in one of my messages said that once you stop the insulin, your body 'readjusts' itself and THEN you begin to see the weight loss. Hallelujah. It's working for me AND all without exercise. I'm hoping to start THAT soon. Yesterday I got a comment from a friend who I see about once a month - you've lost weight, haven't you? That was heavenly to hear and it was the first time. I note that I automatically don't eat as much and I don't want between-the-meals snacks. This is my experience, John and maybe it will encourage other readers with insulin problems. As for ketchup, Dr. Atkins called it killer ketchup. Note that HUNTS are now marketing HFCS-free ketchup. It has more sugar in it but that AWFUL HFCS is GONE! I really enjoy reading your 'writings' - EDUCATED, factual and humorous. Thank you for 'publishing.' Will
September 10, 2011 at 2:51 pm
Sue HeintzeYou're a funny bloke. And very, very clever ;)
September 10, 2011 at 2:50 pm
PattyAnother awesome post, Roman! Great analogies and great info....Keep it coming.
September 10, 2011 at 12:52 pm
MaryHey Roman, nice post! as always very funny and entertaining. I have a question about the insulin thing and I don't know if you can help me with it. What about growth hormone? I've read it is highly desirable to stimulate GH after a workout, but if you stimulate insulin then it would shut GH production down. Instead, you'd want to take some protein-packet post-wo meal or shake, but keep it easy with the carbs. How does this really go if fatloss is your main goal?
September 10, 2011 at 12:21 pm
SuneetYou know Roman The one thing that separates you from all the other fitness bloggers is your witty humor Love this post The analogies are awesome Great job Roman This should reduce (if not stop) people from asking these questions
September 10, 2011 at 11:15 am
PriyeshGreat Post Roman, like a lot of others, I loved the gf analogy. My question is also about cardio. I'm currently doing the last day of phase 1 of the SHW. I'm around 20% bf and would like to corporate cardio on my workout or rest days. Having used Joel's XFLD, I managed to lose quite a lot using interval training especially 1min sprint 1min jog method. Would you recommend interval training after the SHW weight training or a more slower and longer cardio? Finally, would you recommend I incorporate XFLD or Dr. K's 14day program? Thanks!
September 10, 2011 at 11:11 am
Matt BDefinitely enjoyed this article, especially the e-brake analogy as it was a new idea to me. I knew a bit about the other ones, but it is always nice to have someone break it down in a different and easier way. Thank you.
September 10, 2011 at 11:06 am
John RomanielloFor sure. I love the treadmill walking for active recovery from intense training, for one thing. For another, I simply can't sprint more than twice per week -- three at the MAX -- so if I'm getting lean, low impact cardio definitely helps tons.
September 10, 2011 at 10:46 am
shaunThank you! So true. I recently have taken up powerlifting and in order to properly recover I always do some tread walking or shit even the elliptical. If it makes you weak you must be weak minded. That's how I figure. Health is always priority number 1.
September 10, 2011 at 10:40 am
John RomanielloHahahaha! That's awesome =) I love it; thank you so much!
September 10, 2011 at 10:39 am
LorraineOf course, when you ask for questions, my mind goes completely blank . .. but I reserve the right to ask at a later time. :) ANYWAY. . .. here's a site that I think you'd like (if you're into ST:TNG): a fashion commentary on random episodes . . .. it's pretty hilarious. http://sttngfashion.tumblr.com/
September 10, 2011 at 10:21 am
John RomanielloI'm glad you enjoyed the analogies! I have a few more I think you'll like. And I'm sure Dr. K appreciates the pick up! Thanks so much!
September 10, 2011 at 9:59 am
John RomanielloI always appreciate you comments, Rachel, truly. Thanks for the kind words; it's really intensely satisfying to know that you feel that way. My intent is always to do the best I can to give you information without "selling" too hard. Your feedback is appreciated =)
September 10, 2011 at 9:57 am
John RomanielloHey Vincent, Thanks so much for the kind words. Welcome to the RFS family. I truly appreciate that you appreciate my candor =) Regarding Tucker - yes, my might try. On the other hand, he might drop some really profound knowledge on anything from writing to marketing to friendship. You never know with Max.
September 10, 2011 at 9:54 am
John RomanielloHaha, no. You only need the ketchup if there's something wrong with the food. The sushi places I go to tend to be tasty enough not to need any extra help. In NY, that means Nobu, Sushi Samba, or a few others spots =)
September 10, 2011 at 9:52 am
John RomanielloWhich physique is more respectable or desirable is a personal judgement call. In terms of what's more effective - it's almost always better to get lean and then gain muscle.
September 10, 2011 at 9:49 am
John RomanielloTHANK YOU! This is exactly what I do, and what I've been telling people. I watch Sports Center on the tread. 12* incline, 4.3mph. 45 minutes of head clearing sweatiness.
September 10, 2011 at 9:48 am
TimOne of the best things you can do for yourself and your physique is to walk 45 minutes to 1 hour per day - on top of your regular weight training and cardio routine. Hit the treadmill everyday while watching your favorite 1 our program and you will see amazing results. That's all the extra cardio you need!
September 10, 2011 at 9:39 am
Rockyloved the girlfriend story. haha. i know a few girls like that, but i try and avoid them the best i can.. As far as questions go, i got one. What do you think is a more respectable physique. The real big guy as far as muscle goes with a belly or a real skinny guy with a six pack but toothpick arms? In other words building muscle/losing fat, which one should come first?
September 9, 2011 at 8:23 pm
VincentSeriously, Roman... I just stumbled across your blog/Facebook page/etc... etc... a week or two ago and I'm really, really impressed with the candid remarks. It's far too rare to see someone like you that cuts the BS and just tells it like it is. The health and fitness industry needs more people like you, or perhaps if they're out there they need to be destroyed and then you can take over in their stead. Either way... Insulin and Tucker Max? I loved it! I'd never have that man over for dinner--he'd try to f--k my mom or something. In extra ketchup we trust, Vincent
September 9, 2011 at 1:07 pm
Chris SchreiberRe: Question 1 Bottom Line, it would be weird to eat sushi with you, Roman.
September 9, 2011 at 12:57 pm
RachelI agree with Felicia. I know I can get real answers without feeling like I'm talking to a used-car salesman when I come to Roman's blog or send an e-mail. I can't tell you how much that means when trying to wade through all the crap in the fitness/fat loss industry. These analogies were pretty damn amusing and educational. I have to go find more info on Tucker Max though. Apparently I've been missing out. -R
September 9, 2011 at 12:25 pm
Natalie KitaI love a well-crafted analogy, and I love you for proving once again that sexy, fit people can also be smart and funny! Dr K owes you a big "thank you", as I'm sure I'm not the only person for whom your last analogy was the final nudge to buy his program. Thanks, and have a fantastic day!
September 9, 2011 at 11:36 am
John RomanielloFelicia, you have no idea how much it means to me to have you say that. Thank you so much! I'm glad you enjoyed the blog, and good luck with Dr. K's program. It's a doozy, but really and truly beneficial. You'll love it =)
September 9, 2011 at 10:47 am
John RomanielloIt's my pleasure, Andy. I'm here to help!
September 9, 2011 at 10:46 am
Felicia StarksJohn, I always read your emails because they are always informational and entertaining without the "sales pitch" tone. Thanks for sharing your "FAQS" along with the confirmation for me to pick up Dr. K's program through your link!
September 9, 2011 at 10:46 am
John RomanielloObviously, it's possible to over-do anything. You wouldn't eat a meal made entirely of ketchup; and, if you dump a whole bottle on even the finest steak, you'll ruin it. The point is that in most situations, adding a bit of extra activity won't hurt. In the example you're talking about, he had stopped making progress, so he needed to dial back. Most people are on the opposite side of that--those are the people who can use more ketchup.
September 9, 2011 at 10:46 am
Andy SmithGreat article, I particularly like the first analogy about ketchup as it resonates with me. Also, wanted to thank you for all the amazing, informative content on your blog. Your work is an inspiration for me and many others.
September 9, 2011 at 10:43 am
MiguelGreat post! loved the gf analogy!. I'm confused now about cardio though...if I remember correctly, you said to someone in facebook that he should reduce his cardio since it was putting the body in a too stringent situation...can that be the case? can you be doing too much cardio if you're exhausting your body at a too high a rate? Thanks!
September 9, 2011 at 10:31 am