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Episode 5: Exercise | Does it really help us lose weight?

Posted by Manoj Perumal on

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Listen to “Exercise with Mike Saunders | Best Advice for Improving Your Physique” on Spreaker.

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About Episode 5

Exercise | Does it Really Help Us Lose Weight? With Mike Saunders

In this episode of The Discover | Dr. Dan Proactive Health, Dr. Dan is joined by Mike Saunders, a famous powerlifter to discuss the science behind exercising. They cover everything from diet, macronutrients, different forms of exercise, and workout schedules. Listen to the full podcast below.

What are Macronutrients and Why Are They Important?

To start off the episode, Dr. Dan and Mike discuss what macronutrients are and why they are important when exercising and to maintain health. Most people see the three main macronutrients as detrimental to health but Mike assures the listener that they are not to be villainized. They are an essential part of overall health. Mike shares the following:

There are three basic macronutrients: protein, carbohydrates, and fat. Two of these macronutrients are basically energy molecules; that’s carbohydrates and fat. …The third macronutrient is protein, and I’m a huge believer in protein. Protein is a structural molecule. It’s something that makes up all of the enzymes in our body, the enzymes that are responsible for catalyzing different reactions that are responsible for keeping our body going.

All three of these macronutrients work in our bodies to provide the energy we need to live and especially exercise. The more we learn how to consume these macronutrients correctly, the more energy we will have to exercise; which Mike testifies is essential for health, and to live a long and healthy life.

Anaerobic v Aerobic Exercise

There is a lot of discussion about the difference between anaerobic and aerobic exercises and which is better for health and losing weight. Mike shares his thoughts on this discussion and what research claims is the best for health and weight loss. One is not greater than the other. Changing the type of exercises and having a more flexible schedule is how to ensure that the body doesn’t become stagnant in fitness progression. To help clarify the difference between anaerobic and aerobic exercise Mark explains first that aerobic exercise is what people traditionally think of, running on the treadmill or jogging outside. “Most of these exercises are aerobic in nature and what that means is that when I’m metabolizing my sugar or fat for energy, I’m actually using oxygen in that metabolic process. Anaerobic exercise is sprinting or lifting weights, especially lifting heavy weights. And that’s when my body is being used at such a high-intensity rate that I can no longer use oxygen in the metabolic process.” To summarize, Aerobic exercises use oxygen, anaerobic exercises do not.  

How to Lose Weight and Build Muscle

Mike and Dr. Dan spend the rest of the show discussing Mike’s exercising routines and how he builds muscle and how other people can lose weight. Mike focuses on a concept though sheds correct information on a common misconception. The key to losing weight or bulking up or being healthy is not by attending the gym. Most people, especially at the start of the new year, are committed to attending the gym so that they can start losing weight. However, Mike states that health does not come from the gym. “When we’re dieting or when we’re trying to bulk, it’s not about the gym. It’s about the kitchen. That’s really where building our body starts, is in the kitchen.” By focusing on the macronutrient principles shared above and learning how to eat correctly for the different body types and weight goals, individuals will be able to reach those goals instead of wasting time running at a gym. 

To learn more about how to exercise and diet correctly for your body type and health goals, check out the Discover | Dr. Dan Proactive Health podcast episode below and be sure to subscribe for new episodes each Tuesday. 


Dr. Dan Gubler: (00:09)

Welcome to Discover with Dr. Dan | The Proactive Health Podcast. Today, we’re going to talk with Mike Saunders, an expert in nutrition and sports and exercise performance, especially. Mike, it’s great to have you on the show.

Mike Saunders: (00:26)

Thanks Dan. It’s really nice to be here.

Dr. Dan Gubler: (00:28)

So Mike has been in the field of science for 20 years. He synthesized many anti-cancer drugs. He has studied, he’s getting a PhD right now in human performance. He has over 20 patents and he’s a world record powerlifter. Mike, what are some of the records that you hold?

Mike Saunders: (00:45)

So I hold several different records in different federations. My biggest squat competition is 909 pounds. Biggest bench, 716 pounds and biggest deadlift is 705 pounds.

Dr. Dan Gubler: (01:00)

Nice. So if you need someone to move your car, Mike is the one. Mike and I have worked on several projects over the year and he’s a dear friend, so we’re grateful to have you. So we’re talking about exercise and first, tell us a little bit about your journey with exercise.

Mike Saunders: (01:16)

So, as I mentioned, I’m big into powerlifting, but I didn’t really start out in powerlifting. I started out just doing all sorts of general athletics. Even when I was a little kid, my older brother got one of those cement filled weight sets that you get from Walmart for like 20 bucks, and he got it when I was five years old for Christmas, and I used it more than he did. I loved football as a kid, really enjoyed any sort of athletic activity and in college I did some Olympic weightlifting. Then eventually I started to transition to bodybuilding; did all sorts of different routines, all sorts of different types of programming, and eventually landed on powerlifting where I really get the opportunity to compete and push myself without having to stand on stage in a bikini.

Dr. Dan Gubler: (02:07)

Nice. So we’re talking about exercise today and let’s start with the basics. You know, what role does exercise play in overall human health?

Mike Saunders: (02:16)

So as far as human health goes, there’s very few things that you can do for yourself better than exercising on a regular basis. If you want to have good cardiovascular health, it’s really important to exercise, especially aerobic exercise is really great for your cardiovascular system.

Dr. Dan Gubler: (02:38)

So, specifically what does exercise do to your cardio system?

Mike Saunders: (02:42)

So there’s several different things that both resistance training and aerobic exercise can do for you. One of the key things, when I’m active, anytime I’m moving, it actually increases my heart rate, which increases the amount of blood that’s flowing through my system, which increases something called shear stress in my arteries. That’s basically the pressure from the blood flowing through my arteries against the artery wall, the endothelium of that artery. And when that shear stress increases, it actually activates several different gene expression pathways such as the eNOS pathway, which is your endothelial nitric oxide synthase pathway, which increases the amount of nitric oxide in our system, which increases blood flow through vasodilation and also has an entire cascade of gene expression, signaling pathways that, that activates as well. And all this really leads to better health and reduced incidents of things like plaques building up in your arteries.

Dr. Dan Gubler: (03:41)

Nice. I think shear stress is something that a lot of our listeners don’t know about. Right? So it’s interesting to be able to talk about that. Also nitric oxide, right? A lot of people in the know, they know that it’s a vasodilator, but the effect on gene expression to help to modulate the chemical switches in the body, it’s really cool stuff.

Mike Saunders: (04:01)

Yeah. It has some tremendous effects on overall body inflammation and several other areas as far as just overall health that people really don’t think about. When people think of nitric oxide, they’re thinking, “I’m going to get a pre-workout with nitric oxide in it or a nitric oxide precursor to get a pump when I’m working out.” But it’s really something that your body needs for overall health.

Dr. Dan Gubler: (04:24)

Very interesting. So let’s talk about macronutrients, right? When you talk about exercise and sport performance, macronutrients are always connected in some way. So why don’t you tell us a little bit about macronutrients and their role in exercise?

Mike Saunders: (04:39)

So this is really a huge topic. There’s three basic macronutrients: protein, carbohydrates, and fat. Two of these macronutrients are basically energy molecules; that’s carbohydrates and fat. When I eat carbohydrates my body can use those carbohydrates as fuel to produce energy for my muscles when I’m exercising. Now, the drawback for carbohydrates is you get this large insulin spike when you’re eating simple carbohydrates and that large insulin spike can cause other metabolic health problems. But there is a time and a place for carbohydrates. They’re not– they’re villainized right now and in the media, if you think about what’s the unhealthy macronutrient, people think carbohydrates. And there’s some truth to that because simple sugars really are the dominant carbohydrate that people eat. But post-workout, for example, if I’m interested in adding mass, gaining muscle size, if I eat a little bit of simple sugars post-workout, it causes an insulin spike which actually triggers muscle growth. So in that instance, it can be a beneficial thing. As long as we’re staying in balance and watching the amount of simple sugars that we eat, then we’re going to be okay. Now I also mentioned fat and protein. Fat is actually in a lot of ways, an ideal energy source. There are fats that our body needs for structural purposes. Our brain is mostly made up of fat. Our cell walls are made up of fat. If we’re not getting enough fat, we have mood issues. Our body doesn’t work properly. So we need specific fats in order to stay healthy. But then beyond that, we can use fat as an energy source that does not spike insulin levels. So fat isn’t necessarily the villain that people thought it was back in the eighties and nineties. The third macronutrient is protein, and I’m a huge believer in protein. Protein is a structural molecule. It’s something that makes up all of the enzymes in our body, the enzymes that are responsible for catalyzing different reactions that are responsible for keeping our body going. It also makes up our muscle and it also makes up our hair and our skin. Protein is actually a great beauty from within macronutrient, because if we eat enough protein, we have healthier skin, healthier hair, it shows up in our appearance. Now, most people would say that the amount of protein that you absolutely need just for those structural considerations is about a half a gram per pound of body weight. For somebody that wants to improve in the gym, wants to get leaner, wants to reduce body fat, increasing your protein intake higher than that up to 1.5, even two grams per pound of body weight can be beneficial.

Dr. Dan Gubler: (07:31)

Okay, nice. So that’s really interesting. Like you said, a lot of times we want to demonize one of these macronutrients. And so what you’re saying is that in certain times and places they’re all beneficial to a human health and exercise performance.

Mike Saunders: (07:46)

Every single one of these macronutrients has been demonized at some point. People have said, “Oh, if you eat too much protein, your kidneys will fail and you’ll die.” People have said, “If you eat too much fat, you’ll get fat.” People said, “If you eat too much carbs, insulin will spike and metabolic health problems.” The key really is having a healthy approach to the macronutrients; not eating in excess, eating the correct amount of food for what your goals are.

Dr. Dan Gubler: (08:10)

I love that. So let’s now talk, macronutrients is a big deal. Let’s now talk about anaerobic versus aerobic exercise. Again, this is a big deal. So why don’t you first tell us, what’s the difference between anaerobic and aerobic exercise?

Mike Saunders: (08:24)

So with aerobic exercise, most people are somewhat familiar with that because you think of aerobic exercise, you think of calisthenics, you think of walking or jogging on the treadmill. Most of these exercises are aerobic in nature and what that means is that when I’m metabolizing my sugar or fat for energy, I’m actually using oxygen in that metabolic process. Anaerobic exercise is sprinting or lifting weights, especially lifting heavy weights. And that’s when my body is being used at such a high intensity rate that I can no longer use oxygen in the metabolic process. So I’m using pure carbohydrates for energy source or creatine or a few other things and no oxygen is involved. And that’s really when I start to get to that lactic acid failure point. Most people can jog for a lot longer than they can sprint and that’s because when I’m jogging, I’m using energy and clearing those metabolic byproducts like lactic acid and inorganic phosphate fast enough so that my muscles don’t fail. But when I don’t have oxygen present, then I’m not able to clear those metabolic byproducts that are in increased amounts. And so I get more inorganic, phosphate, more lactic acid buildup, and it gets to the point where my muscles start to shut down and no longer can function and I reach muscle failure.

Dr. Dan Gubler: (09:50)

Okay. That’s very cool. So let’s get into some actionable things. I mean, the whole purpose of this podcast is to arm our listeners with actionable things that they can do to be healthier. So if I’m a woman and I want to lose weight, what type of exercise should I do? Anaerobic, aerobic, combination?

Mike Saunders: (10:10)

So first off I want to correct a little bit of a misconception. When people think of losing weight, they often think, “Oh, I’m going to start going to the gym more because I want to lose weight.” That’s really not the approach you should be taking.

Dr. Dan Gubler: (10:24)

So that’s actually really important this time of year, right? Because we’re all hitting the gym, we all have our resolutions. And we think that we need to hit it hard.

Mike Saunders: (10:32)

Yeah and the gyms are crowded this year because everybody wants to lose weight. At the beginning of the year, that’s always the way it works. But exercise is such a small portion of the calories that we burn throughout the day. We have something called a base metabolic rate. That’s basically the amount of calories that we burn, just doing nothing, just sitting down, basically doing whatever we do normally throughout the day without exercise. And depending on the person that’s going to average between 1500 and 2000 calories per day. Now, if I go and exercise for half an hour of cardiovascular exercise on the treadmill, so this is aerobic type exercise walking or jogging on the treadmill, I’m probably going to burn maybe two to 300 calories tops. So that’s about 10% to 15% at the most, additional calories that I’m burning doing my exercise. And then because I’ve exercised, I’m hungry so I go home and I eat more. So usually I make up for that additional two to 300 calories with 4 to 500 calories. Now I haven’t really gotten ahead as far as calories go. So exercise, especially cardiovascular exercise, treadmill type exercise, that is not for weight loss. That is for health. That is for improving the health of your cardiovascular system, reducing incidents of cardiovascular disease, heart attack, things like that. It’s not for losing weight. Now that doesn’t mean that exercise doesn’t help with weight loss. For me, exercise can help, but I really try and direct people towards resistance training, right? And the reason for that is twofold. One, even if I have the same percent body fat, if I have a little bit more muscle, I’m going to look nicer with that percent body fat, I’m going to carry that body fat better. And this is true for men and women. The other thing is if I add a little bit of muscle, then my base metabolic rate increases, I’m burning more calories all the time because muscle is the main calorie burner.

Dr. Dan Gubler: (12:29)


Mike Saunders: (12:29)

So if I started out at a base metabolic rate of 1500 and I add a little bit of muscle, I might bump it up to 1700. So now instead of having to run on the treadmill for 30 minutes to get that extra 200 calories, I’m getting it every day, just by that little bit of muscle that I’ve added.

Dr. Dan Gubler: (12:44)

Okay. So again, if I’m a woman I want to lose weight, should I go into the gym for an hour a day? What type of macros should I take on the nutrition and on the exercise side to really help them move that needle?

Mike Saunders: (12:57)

If I’m a female or a male, anybody that wants to lose weight, and this is part of that misconception that I hear all the time from women, especially, “I don’t want to get bulky, so I’m not going to do resistance training.” Getting bulky isn’t about resistance training, it’s about diet and it’s really hard to do. You have to work at it. You have to be doing it with intent. So you’re not going to get bulky on accident, whether you’re a male or a female, but if you want to go to the gym and you want to lose weight and you’re a female and if I’m in calorie restriction, I would increase my protein intake and I would focus on resistance training again. And this is for two reasons. One, if I’m losing weight, I’m not going to add muscle so I’m not going to get more bulky. But, if I’m losing weight, I have the tendency to lose muscle mass. Now, if I increase my protein intake and I increase my resistance training while I’m losing weight, I’m going to at least preserve the muscle that I have. And this is critically important because remember I said, if I add muscle, I go from 1500 calories a day base metabolic rate to 1700. Now, if I lose muscle, my base metabolic rate can go from 1500 down to 1300. And this is one of those major issues with yo-yo dieting. If I’m going to the gym, sitting on the treadmill, doing my running, especially fasted cardio, things like that, I put my body into a catabolic state. That means that I’m burning muscle. I lose my 15 pounds that I needed to lose, but I don’t realize of that 15 pounds, a reasonable percentage is muscle mass. So now after I’ve lost that 15 pounds, I go back to my normal diet. And my base metabolic rate has gone from 1500 down to 1300 calories a day and I start gaining weight again, even at what I thought was a maintenance calories from before my diet. So I do this in series over and over again and I basically destroy my metabolism as such that I’m no longer able to burn a reasonable amount of calories in a day and I become what people call skinny fat, where I don’t have any muscle and my body weight might be good, but I still don’t look the way I want to look because I have excess body fat.

Dr. Dan Gubler: (15:13)

Yeah. Well, and that’s really interesting, right? Yo-yo dieting is dangerous, right? I mean, the body tries to adapt and if you’re changing things in and out, the body has a hard time adapting and that can be dangerous for metabolic health and other parameters.

Mike Saunders: (15:27)

Yeah, that’s exactly true. The body is very adaptable. If I am teaching my body how to starve, then my body’s only going to be good at starving. If I’m teaching my body how to be efficient in burning calories and how to be healthy about burning calories, then I can lose weight, but maintain higher metabolism.

Dr. Dan Gubler: (15:46)

Right. So, let’s now talk– if I’m a guy or a gal and I want to bulk up, how would I do that?

Mike Saunders: (15:54)

So this is the same thing is with dieting, except for in reverse really. Anytime you want to gain or lose weight, it starts in the kitchen. Now, if I want to add mass, all I have to do is start eating more calories. And if I want to add muscle mass, I need to add resistance training. Most people don’t want to just bulk. They want to have a somewhat clean bulk because it’s pretty easy to gain 30, 40 pounds for most guys, all you have to do is eat more food, but it’s not going to be a 30, 40 pounds that most guys want to have. So in order to have a somewhat clean bulk, in order to get bigger, but still look like you’re going to the gym and not like you’re sitting on your couch, eating pizza, you want to specifically increase your protein intake again. And this is interesting because whether I’m dieting or gaining weight, increasing protein can help. The reason for this is because if I’m increasing my protein, I’m actually signaling my body to build muscle if I have excess calories. There’s a pathway called the mTOR pathway that most people are familiar with. And most people think, Oh, if I take BCAs or specifically leucine, I’m going to activate that mTOR pathway and I’m going to potentially be building muscle. I’m going to be more anabolic. But all I really have to do is eat whole protein. So this could be whey protein, this could be meat, it could be vegetable protein, it could be anything as long as it has a reasonable content of leucine, then I’m going to be entering that anabolic state. If I have excess calories in my system. Now, if I’m doing that and hitting the gym at the same time, doing my resistance training, then I’m going to be adding muscle rather than adding fat or probably adding a little bit of fat, but more muscle than, than I would otherwise.

Dr. Dan Gubler: (17:42)

Okay. So if I want to lose weight, then I should do caloric restriction, simply eating less. I should eat more protein and I should do resistance training. And now if I want to bulk up, I eat more calories and I also increase protein and then I do resistance training as well. So is the resistance training that you do in the gym, different if you want to bulk up versus if you want to lose weight? Like the time and the types of training you would do?

Mike Saunders: (18:09)

Not necessarily. So there’s a lot of different things that you can do in the gym. And really they all, for the most part, work. The key with gaining weight, gaining muscle mass in the gym or losing weight healthily in the gym, is really consistency one way or the other. I’ve done a lot of bulking and cutting cycles throughout my life. Right now I’m on a bulking cycle because I’m trying to get ready for a competition. I’m hoping to hit some PRS this year and I’m really trying to get stronger. So I’m on a bulking cycle. Right after my competition in February, I’m going to be on a cutting cycle because I feel less healthy at a higher body weight, whether it’s muscle or fat. If I get up to that 240-250 pound range, I don’t feel as healthy. So I want to start a cut. All I do, I keep my protein basically the same because I always have a high protein intake. So I keep my protein basically the same. I make sure I have enough fat and then I use carbohydrates to give me either more or less calories depending on whether I’m bulking or cutting. If I’m cutting, I just decrease those carbs, especially the simple carbs. And that really gets me down below my base metabolic rate so that I’m going to lose weight and maintain my muscle mass. If I’m trying to bulk, then I’m still doing my resistance training, the same types of programs that I normally do, but I add a little bit more carbs, maybe a little bit more fat and get to a point where I have a calorie surplus of maybe two to 500 calories. And I never want to go in excess of 200 to 500 calories nor do I want to go into a deficit of 200 to 500 calories, more than 200 to 500 calories. Because if I eat too much, then I’m going to gain too fast and I’m going to be putting on fat. If I eat too little, then I’m going to be losing too fast and I’m going to be burning muscle.

Dr. Dan Gubler: (20:06)

Okay. So you and I were talking before the show about, again, the adaptability of the body, right? And then in order to make progress, you have to keep changing things up, not on the diet end, but on the resistance training end. Can you tell me a little bit about what you can do to change things, resistance training wise, to make sure that you’re moving upward?

Mike Saunders: (20:25)

So there are a lot of programs and a lot of them have reasonable amount of success. I have done periodized wave training, I’ve done basically the standard three sets of ten thing that everybody does when they go to the gym. I’ve done all sorts of five X five type programs. And what I’ve found is the most successful for me, and I think the science backs this up, is what’s called a conjugate method. And basically the conjugate method is selecting different groups of exercises and repeating those groups of exercises in waves, so that I’m always progressing and I’m always changing the exercises so that my body doesn’t adapt to what I’m doing and then plateau. And I’ll give an example. So for bench press, I do a lot of assistance work, I do a lot of rep work, but if I’m really working on my max effort, heavy lifting day to try and really put on as much strength as I can, I’m doing sets of one to maybe three at the most. So very, very high intensity, very low rep kind of range. And I’ll pick an exercise and, or a set of four exercises actually. And if I’m doing sets of three, I’ll keep the exercise the same for three weeks. And then I’ll switch the exercise to one of my next ones and then I’ll keep it the same for three weeks, then switch to my next exercise. So I keep those four exercises and I rotate from one to the next to the next to the next and each week I’m increasing in weight within that one exercise. Then I write down in my notebook what my maxes are, what my best effort was, and when I stop that exercise I go to the other three and come back like nine weeks later.

Dr. Dan Gubler: (22:21)

That long?

Mike Saunders: (22:21)

Yeah. It’s so I do — if I’m doing the sets of three, which is probably what most people would want to do, I do sets one a lot and I rotate the exercises faster, but I’m also an elite powerlifter so what I do doesn’t necessarily translate to what most people would want to do in the gym. So for the average person, it will be much better to do these sets of three. And I would do is I would start off with 95% of my max from the previous time. Then the first week I do 95% for sets of three and I might do five sets of three and then my last set just do as many as I can. And then the second week I would do a hundred percent of my max from last time and I would do five sets of three. And then for my last set, as many as I can. And then for the next week I would do 105%. So basically I’m increasing a little bit every time I do one of these waves. And then after that 105%, I stop that exercise and go onto the next one. And then I do that for four different exercises. And then come back to the first one and start over again at 95% of what my max was the previous time I did it. And so I continually progress. I’m continually moving forward so that after a year, whatever my 100% was when I started, it’s probably now 120-130% of what it was. And I’ve always kept track and I always know what I’m doing. And then I might switch exercises entirely after six months to a year of doing these sets of four or these four different exercises. And I might switch entirely different exercises. They’re all related to bench press but they’re not the same exact thing every time.

Dr. Dan Gubler: (24:10)

Interesting. I think that’s the principle that a lot of us don’t really know. Right? I know when I go to the gym, it’s like you said, it’s just a standard reps. And I do the same thing when I go in each time. So the idea of mixing things up and constantly moving the percentage, that’s really interesting.

Mike Saunders: (24:23)

Yeah. And the mixing things up, is critical as far as preventing your body from plateauing. But the most important thing is that constant progression. If you’re going to the gym and doing the same thing every time, you’re going to never progress past whatever that same thing was. You might progress initially, but you’re going to stop progressing. You’re never going to go further than that. You have to push your body in order for your body to respond.

Dr. Dan Gubler: (24:47)

Interesting. So, one of the common principles in life, right, if you’re not moving forward, you’re moving backward. And it seems like that applies to resistance training in the gym.

Mike Saunders: (24:56)

Absolutely. It does.

Dr. Dan Gubler: (24:58)

So let’s talk about supplementation, right? A lot of us are interested to use supplements when we’re working out, doing resistance training and exercise in general, in order to help us be better. And one of the big ones nowadays is creatine in the form of phosphocreatine and that’s really popular and there’s opinions going back and forth, right? Creatine is great, it’s important. Creatine is bad for you depending on who you are. What’s the science behind creatine?

Mike Saunders: (25:25)

So I mentioned before, we were talking a little bit about anaerobic exercise, that your body can use sugar as a fuel source during anaerobic exercise or creatine. Creatine is the other molecule that can be an energy molecule and your body naturally stores creatine within your muscles. As far as supplements go, creatine is the most heavily studied and the most widely believed to be a successfully used supplement. It helps the vast majority of people to become stronger. And the reason why that is, is because when you start supplementing with creatine, you’re basically hyper loading the amount of creatine in your muscles so that you have more creatine in your muscles. What that means is you can do one or two more reps. You can push a little bit harder for a little bit longer, and if you’re continually trying to progress and you’re continually pushing, then those one or two more reps over the course of six months, make a dramatic difference and build up to a significant difference in how strong you are six months later if you’re taking creatine, versus if you’re not. Now, creatine is not going to instantly make you stronger. It makes you pretty much within the first two weeks, you’ll notice a strength increase, but that’s because you have more energy to be able to use your muscles. After that, there’s no significant strength increases anymore. It’s just, I now can do more work and because I can do more work, I have a better strength increase. But I definitely would recommend that everybody should take creatine that’s interested in athletic training at all.

Dr. Dan Gubler: (27:01)

Interesting. So related to supplementation, are there innovations that you think need to be made in the industry as far as supplements go that can help us to be more effective in the gym and in our overall lives?

Mike Saunders: (27:14)

Absolutely. So prior to getting involved in the supplement industry, I wasn’t a very big believer in supplements. I had actually tried creatine and it didn’t work for me. The reason it didn’t work for me was because I went to Walmart and bought some creatine at Walmart and it was still creatine monohydrate, but the particle size was so big that bioavailability was really poor. So nowadays that pretty much have micronized creatine everywhere because creatine is so common, but there’s still that inconsistency from company to company. And it makes it really hard to find good quality products. There are a few supplements that really do work right now that are kind of the go-to supplements. If I’m taking a pre-workout, for example, it’s almost always going to have something like creatine in it. It’s almost always going to have caffeine in it. It’s almost always going to have beta alanine in it, citrulline malate, or arginine, something like that. Those are the proven compounds that pretty much everybody uses. The problem is, everybody uses the same exact stuff. Now, there’s some really cool stuff out there that is just starting to be used and there’s some really cool potential for innovation. If I look at a pre-workout for example, beta alanine is a great compound. It helps with pH buffering in your muscles. I mentioned lactic acid is one of the main reasons why muscles fail. Now, if I take beta alanine, I can buffer more of that lactic acid so I can delay that failure, that time of failure. So it does work. It’s great, but it’s not something that I should be putting in a pre-workout necessarily. It’s something I should be taking every day. Much like creatine, it builds up in my system and it has a consistent effect every time I work out, if I’m taking it every day. If I just take it as a pre-workout once a week, it’s not going to do anything for me, really. So a pre-workout shouldn’t contain those types of products in them, those types of ingredients. There is really cool science out there looking at using ATP, for example, as a pre-workout ingredient. If I supplement with ATP, ATP is your body’s main energy molecule. If I supplement with ATP, then I have a direct, immediate impact on the amount of energy that I have for working out later. So that’s one molecule that is really cool for a pre-workout. It’s not in really any pre-workouts out there, but the science is there and there’s others like that.

Dr. Dan Gubler: (29:48)

Interesting. Yeah. When I go to the store and I look at the supplements for being in the gym, it seems like they’re all the same, right? It seems like it’s a little stale, right? That all the ingredients, pretty much the same, the amounts, a lot of caffeine and these sorts of things. Is that, is that accurate would you say?

Mike Saunders: (30:09)

It is. So the part of the problem is as I’m doing research into exercise science and nutrition for my PhD, I’m realizing that the field of exercise science is actually a pretty new science. Looking at how nutrition impacts exercise is a pretty new science. So there’s things that have been done that people really rely on because they know that they work, even things like citrulline, for example. This is a pretty common thing to find in pre-workouts. We know that citrulline increases NO production in our bodies, but it doesn’t necessarily translate to immediate performance enhancement. It does translate to long-term performance enhancement, probably because of gene expression changes downstream from increasing NO levels that happen long-term over time, not because I’m increasing NO levels and they increase the nitric oxide enhances blood flow in my muscles that makes me perform better in the gym. That’s actually not true at all.

Dr. Dan Gubler: (31:13)

Okay. Interesting. Well, Mike, this has been fascinating. Great talking with you. So today we’ve talked about the importance of exercise in general, we’ve talked about macro nutrients and their importance in exercise. We’ve talked a lot about diet. I love the phrase that you said it starts in the kitchen, and that’s certainly true. We talked about specific applications, right? If I’m a woman or a man and I want to lose weight, what should I do? And if I’m a guy or gal and I want to bulk up, what should I do? And then we’ve talked about supplementation. So this has been amazing. What final thoughts would you give to our listeners about exercise?

Mike Saunders: (31:48)

I think that the most critical thing that you can take away from, from this podcast, or really any study into exercise is that exercise is critically important for health. We should all be doing exercise. We should be doing a variety of exercise, both aerobic and resistance training, because that’s what’s best for my body. And we need to worry about our diet and what we’re putting into our body as far as calories, and as far as macronutrients, so that when we’re dieting or when we’re trying to bulk, it’s not about the gym. It’s about the kitchen. That’s really where building our body starts, is in the kitchen.

Dr. Dan Gubler: (32:30)

Awesome. And we’re going to be talking more on the show about nutrition and its importance. So Mike, it’s been amazing talking to you. You’re a wealth of knowledge. Thank you so much and appreciate all you do.

Mike Saunders: (32:42)

Thank you, Dan. I really appreciate it.

Dr. Dan Gubler: (32:43)

Great. Appreciate it. And thank you to our listeners for tuning in. I hope you’ve found things helpful. I, for one, have found a lot of really interesting research that Mike’s presented on how to be healthier in the kitchen and then how to be better in the gym. So thank you so much and this is Dr. Dan signing off.

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