Ep. #1061: Q&A: Minimizing Water Retention, Mind-Muscle Connection, White Vs. Whole Wheat, & More


Hello. Hello, I’m Mike Matthews. This is Muscle for Life. Thank you for joining me today for a new episode, a new q and a episode, my 41st q and a episode where I answer questions that people ask me over on Instagram every week or two on Wednesday or Thursday, usually. I put up a story asking my followers to ask me questions, and then I pick questions that are interesting or topical, or questions that I haven’t answered a million times before already, especially here on the podcast.

And I answer them briefly there on Instagram. And then I bring everything over here to the podcast where I can share more in-depth answers. And so if you want me to answer your questions, follow me on Instagram at Muscle four, life Fitness, f o r spelled out, not the numeral for. And look for that story every Wednesday or Thursday and submit whatever questions you want.

And if I find any of your questions interesting, topical, or if they are things that other people tend to ask that I haven’t already answered many times before, then I may answer your question or questions. So, In today’s episode, I’m going to be answering questions about water retention. How do you minimize water retention seed oils?

Are they as bad as many people claim? How? I’ve been dealing with some biceps tendonitis that has been nagging me for a couple of months now. It went away about a month or so ago, and then I reaggravated it and I’ll explain how I did that. So you don’t make the same mistake how important the mind muscle connection is and more.

Okay. The first question comes from Julian Elias, and he asks, what are ways you combat water retention? I wake up lean some days, and puffy on others. Well, the most common reasons for large fluctuations in water retention are large fluctuations in daily water, salt and carbohydrate intake, as well as daily stress levels.

So specifically if your water intake goes down, if you drink quite a bit less water than you usually drink, then you can notice that when you do start drinking more water, you tend to hold a bit more of it. You look a bit more bloated. If you eat a lot more salt, then usual, which is very easy to do because the.

Recommendation. The general recommendation for sodium intake is about a teaspoon of salt per day. Now, you can have more salt than that, especially if you are physically active and you sweat a lot. So let’s say you get up to two teaspoons of salt per day, about four grams of sodium per day, but still, that’s only two.

Teaspoons of salt per day. Your body almost certainly does not need more than that unless maybe you do a lot of endurance exercise outside in the heat and you are sweating a lot every day. So let’s say you have a, a treat meal or two, maybe it’s a, a treat day, maybe it’s a couple of off planned meals and you go out.

To restaurants, and generally speaking, restaurant food is going to be very salty because salt brings out flavor, and so most things that you like to eat probably contain a lot more sodium than you realize if you haven’t looked into it. And so let’s say that you eat six, eight, or even 10 grams of sodium in one day.

And that’s okay. I wouldn’t recommend it if you have high blood pressure, but if you are otherwise healthy, it’s okay if you do that now. And then again, not a daily regular occurrence. However, you are probably going to notice more water retention the next day. Your weight is going to be probably a couple of pounds higher if you also were just staying hydrated throughout the day, and especially if you also ate more carbohydrate.

So that was on my list. Eating more carbohydrate causes your body to retain more muscle. Is your muscles to retain more muscle too, which is cool. You can wake up with a bit of a pump if you eat a lot of carbs and you eat a lot of sodium at night, but you might also look a bit fatter. And I also mentioned stress levels.

So if you have a very stressful day that can. Cause increased water attention because of increased cortisol levels. So that’s the, the stress hormone, one of the hormones that your body produces in response to stress that triggers that fight or flight response. And that is fine and normal acute spikes in cortisol are not necessarily bad.

It, it becomes bad if it happens too often and cortisol levels are chronically elevated. But acute elevation of cortisol levels is a good thing actually. That’s, uh, an appropriate physiological response. But it can result in additional water retention and how much really varies from person to person.

Some people really notice it, some people do not. Now, if you keep those things relatively steady, if you keep your daily water intake, your salt or sodium intake, you’re carbohydrate intake and your stress levels on a day-to-day basis, there aren’t major changes in any of those. Things, then you probably will not feel bloated very often unless there is another issue.

Your water retention levels and your bloating will remain normal and you should have minimal bloating. Okay. Ari Attic official asks, where do you get the memes that you post? So on my Instagram, Several times per week. I share five to 10 memes in my stories, and given the eccentric character of these memes, some people are wondering, where do I find these things?

Well, I actually don’t find them, per se. I do, but I find them in a group chat with one guy in particular who spends. Really an unhealthy amount of time just waiting through the underbelly of the internet in search of memes. And I pick the ones that are appropriate, I think, for sharing publicly. And uh, I put ’em up on my Instagram.

And if I have peaked your curiosity and you want to see these memes for yourself, follow me on Instagram at Muscle for Life Fitness. Okay. Ca a 1997 asks seed oils as bad as people say, or just another fad. Well, most of the height around the. Purported harm of seed oils is nonsense. Seed oils, per se, are not unhealthy.

However, a diet that is rich in seed oils is probably an unhealthy diet, and that is the problem, not the seed oils. And if you wanna learn more about that, and if you wanna look into the scientific research that supports what I just said, head over to legion athletics.com, search for refined. Oil and check out the article I wrote on this subject.

Jay Madden asks, what have you been doing to help bicep tendon healing process? So over on Instagram, I have been updating people in my stories about some biceps tendonitis that I’ve been dealing with. It started a couple of months ago after I slept. I guess kind of funny, uh, on my side, I remember waking up and feeling a little bit of pinching in my bici, uh, groove in that area where that bicep tendon runs.

And I ignored it and just did my normal training, felt a little bit off. It wasn’t painful per se, but it was a little bit uncomfortable. I could feel that there was something not normal. And then a day or two later, Also ended up sleeping on that left side. So I have the biceps tendonitis on my left side, and this time when I woke up, it felt a little bit worse.

And then with my training a little bit worse, and eventually I realized that I need to get ahead of this because if I keep ignoring it, it just gets worse and worse. Uh, that’s how these repetitive stress injuries go. I’ve experienced this before. I’ve had some biceps tendonitis on my right side, and so.

What I’ve been doing to address, uh, this current bout of biceps tendonitis is getting rid of the peck tightness and the biceps tightness that are causing it. And so my left peck, I, I didn’t realize it. But I see a massage therapist every week. I started doing that again and I realized with her just working on my body that my left peck was very tight.

There were some pretty major trigger points in there, which are painful. The pain refers to other areas. You have hyper contracted portions of the peck, and I didn’t realize it because otherwise it, in my day-to-day life, it wasn’t painful, but, but when she started getting in there and working on my left peck, I.

Quickly realized, oh wow, that, that feels awful. And when she works on my right pack, it feels totally fine. And so that has been part of the issue, uh, because of that hyper contracted peck and the hyper contraction and the trigger points are more pronounced as you move closer to my armpit than So you have that area, that kind of outside area of the peck that has been very tight and kind of.

Pulling on the shoulder joint. And then I also mentioned my left biceps, so I didn’t really realize that there are a couple of trigger points in there and just hyper contracted portions of the muscle. So that’s now also pulling on the upper part of the biceps. And so I’ve been working on getting rid of those problems, those trigger points and those hyper contracted portions of muscle.

And I’ve been doing that by. Using a massage gun every day. That has been helping a lot. And also, again, I’m seeing a massage therapist every week, which I realize not everybody can do who runs into these problems. But the massage gun every day is more effective than seeing a massage therapist once a week.

And so, uh, foam rolling can also be good for particularly the pecks. If you look up online, how to foam roll your pecks, that can help a lot. In my case, it. Doesn’t quite help because of the awkward nature of the part of my left peck. That needs to be worked. You kind of have to get under, almost like trying to get to the peck miner, and it might even be a little of peck miner.

It’s hard to know exactly, but foam roller doesn’t work. However, a massage gun works because I can angle it from the outside, think of outside of my body, kind of angling in toward the midpoint of my body. And so I’ve been doing that. I’ve also been avoiding exercises that cause pain. I’m okay with a little bit of discomfort.

So if, if 10 is excruciating pain and zero is no pain, I’m okay with like a two. Like okay, a little bit of discomfort. It’s not pain, it’s not. Ouch. It’s just, eh, that doesn’t feel perfect. I’m okay with that, but it can’t be pain because if you keep working through pain, then the repetitive stress injury just gets worse, or minimally doesn’t go away.

Avoiding the exercises that cause pain is one of the most important elements of healing. Any sort of repetitive stress injury you have to stop doing the things that are continually aggravating the problem. So, for example, I stop. Barbell bench pressing, at least flat bench pressing incline feels okay. So I’ll do some of that still, but no flat bench pressing or decline bench pressing even, because they just don’t feel right.

Same thing with dumbbells. Dumbbells actually of any kind don’t quite feel right. So flat pressing or incline pressing dumbbells doesn’t feel good. It gets to pain, it gets to ow. That does not feel good, so I don’t do it. There’s also an incline. Pressing machine that feels nice, that causes very little discomfort, maybe one out of 10.

So I do that, and I was doing some pec deck, some pec flies as well, just for Pex, but even that was causing a bit too much strain. So it was just preventing the healing and was dragging out this process of getting back. To normal, so I even cut those out. So for my packs, all I’m doing right now is incline, bench pressing and incline machine pressing.

It’s an Atlantis plate loaded, incline pressing machine. It’s, it’s actually great. And I also stopped doing side raises because those were aggravating. The biceps tendon and the one triceps exercise that puts no strain whatsoever on that tendon or kneeling. Overhead rope extensions, which is a great exercise.

Most people do that exercise Standing and standing is fine, but I feel a little bit more stable kneeling, so I actually prefer the kneeling variation, but that overhead extension, great triceps exercise, isolation exercise obviously, and no strain whatsoever in my biceps tendon. So that is the only triceps exercise that I’m doing right now.

And I can pull, but even there are a couple of row like. A couple of horizontal rowing exercises that I like that don’t work right now, like a close grip cable row doesn’t feel right, but a barbell row feels fine. So I Barbell Road last week instead of the close grip cable row. And so the point is I have modified my training quite a bit to allow this biceps tendon to heal.

And I am training in a way that I wouldn’t normally. Train, and I don’t even particularly like only doing one exercise really for my pex and not being able to do a couple of the triceps isolation exercises that I like to do. I can’t really do a proper shoulder workout. Even overhead pressing is hit and miss.

Some weeks it feels fine and I do it some weeks it. It does not feel fine, so I don’t do it. However, I am prioritizing handling the biceps tendon. So this already worked. Previously, I mentioned that about a month ago. It was feeling totally fine, and so I went back to my normal training and then I re-aggravated it in the mistake that I made there, I, I should have known better, but the mistake that I made is I loaded the tissues too intensively, so I went back.

To the barbell bench press and went back to a normal working weight, maybe 2 25, 2 45, something that I can do reps with. I have the strength to do, but within two or three weeks of doing that, my biceps tendon was bothering me again because I hadn’t fully resolved the underlying issues. The peck tightness, the biceps tightness, and I went back.

To relatively heavy weights fairly quickly on these exercises that were causing problems previously. And so the proper way to fully resolve issues like these is to, one, make sure that you have found the underlying cause and address that, and two, make sure that you ease back into the exercises that were causing problems.

Previously don’t aggressively load those tissues. What I should have done, even though I hadn’t properly addressed the underlying issues, but what I should have done is gone back to, let’s say the flat barbell bench press and just start with 1 35 and do what might normally just be some warmup sets and that’s it.

And then go off and do some other exercises with heavier weights, more intense training that you know, don’t. Aggravate or had did not aggravate the biceps tendon. And then in my next flat barbell bench press session, maybe move up to 180 5 and do sets with several good reps still left in the tank. So maybe sets of six or eight or 10, but where I could do at least another 3, 4, 5 reps.

So not pushing close to failure just yet, and then go off, do other exercises. And then the following week, then maybe if everything’s still feeling fine, jump up to 2 25, getting back to my normal training weight and maybe do a set of four there still with a few good reps left in the tank and so on until I am training normally again on that barbell bench press.

And the same approach would apply again to any other exercise that was previously causing problems. So anyway, that’s what I’ll do this time. I’m also icing the. Biceps tendon area a couple of times per day simply because it helps. I know icing isn’t nearly as effective as many people have long thought it to be, but for this problem, it does help me, and I have experienced that also on the other side of my body.

A couple of years ago when I had biceps tendonitis on the right side, and that actually stemmed from the subscapularis. So there that was very tight, and then there were, it’s hard to know exactly what was tight on the backside of my body because it could have been Terry’s, it could have been infraspinatus.

It’s hard to know exactly, but it was in that area and very tight, painful trigger points really had to work. Through that I saw a physical therapist and then I was able to use a massage gun and I actually, it, it was when I was in Virginia in an office. So one of the guys who worked with me would come and massage gun these couple of points on my back and we would just gun it every day until I.

The pain would subside and a couple of stretches, we would gun the subscap again just until we had caused it to, to relax at least temporarily. And that plus the regular icing, plus avoiding the exercises that were causing problems then, which, because the underlying cause was different then the exercises were different.

Like I remember then I could do dips and peck flies with no issues whatsoever. Whereas right now I cannot do dips and. Peck flies. And last is staying patient. Unfortunately, tendonitis tendon inflammation, it just takes time to resolve E, even under the best circumstances, it can take anywhere from one to three months, depending on various factors, and I’m okay with that.

So I’m just staying patient. I can still enjoy my workouts and I know if I just stick to my little protocol, then I will get past this and get back to what I like to do. At least I like more than what I’m currently doing. How would you like a free meal planning tool that figures out your calories, your macros, even your micros, and then allows you to create 100% custom meal plans for cutting, lean, gaining, or maintaining in under five minutes?

Well, all you gotta do is go to buy legion.com/meal plan b u y legion.com/meal plan and download the tool. And if I may say, this tool really is fantastic. My team and I spent over six months on this thing working with an Excel wizard, and inferior versions of this are often sold for 50, 60, even a hundred dollars.

Or you have to download an app and pay every month or sign up for a weight loss service and pay every month, 10, 20, 40, 50, even $60 a month for what is essentially. In this free tool. So if you are struggling to improve your body composition, if you are struggling to lose fat or gain muscle, the right meal plan can change everything.

Dieting can go from feeling like running in the sand in a sandstorm to riding a bike on a breezy day down a hill. So again, if you want my free meal planning tool, go to buy legion.com/meal plan b y legion.com/meal plan. Enter your email address and you will get instant access. All right. The next question comes from Nick Matthews Fit, and he asks, how important is Mind Muscle Connection or pumps, actually.

So let’s talk about Mind Muscle Connection, because that’s the one I get asked more about. So, The mind muscle connection is not, I wouldn’t say it’s like an essential component of training. However, it is a good training tip, and that tip is when performing isolation exercises, in particular, if you focus on the target muscle group, so that might be one muscle in the case of a unilateral exercise, or it might be two muscles.

Like if, think of a biceps curl. So if you are doing an alternating dumbbell biceps curl, then it’s one at a time. If you are. Doing a barbell biceps curl, then you are training both your biceps at the same time. But you have that target muscle group and if you focus on that throughout each rep, if you really feel it contract, you focus on that contraction, you really feel it lengthen.

You really focus on on that lengthening that. May improve muscle activation, which in turn may improve your results over time. There is some research to support that. However, that is not nearly as important as say, training with the right intensity, training with the right load, training close to muscular failure, doing the right amount of volume.

Progressively overloading your muscles by adding weight over time. That’s the best way, that’s the most effective way to progressively overload. There are other ways, but the other ways are really just kind of a, a means to the end of being able to add weight to the exercise getting stronger. Now, one of the other reasons why the mind muscle connection is not nearly as important as those other things is, it doesn’t apply.

To compound exercises, especially the most difficult compound exercises, the heavy ones with those, you want to focus on external cues. You want to think, push the floor away when you’re squatting or push the bar away when you are bench pressing. And if you wanna learn more about weightlifting cues, and the right cues can make a big difference.

They can help you maintain good form, they can help. Improve your performance, and particularly on the big exercises that give you the most bang for the buck in terms of whole body muscle and strength development. Head over to legion athletics.com, search for cues C ues, and you’ll find a couple of articles giving good, and in some cases evidence-based cues.

There is some research even on specific cues in which ones work the best. So when you are performing compound exercises, particularly. Your hip hinge exercises, you know your deadlifts, your squats, your bench presses. Your overhead presses. You are going to do a lot better with the cues that you can read about [email protected]

External cues than internal cues. Like focusing on something that is in or on your body, like your biceps contracting. So if you think about when you are squatting, what is going to help you more a cue, like throw the bar off of your back. Some people like that, like when they get down in the hole and then you have to explode up, they think of.

Throwing that bar off of their back, like throwing it up in the air, squatting so violently that it flies off of their back. Is that gonna help you the most? Or is thinking about or focusing on your quads? Contracting going to help you the most? While research is very clear on that, the former approach, assuming it’s a good cue and it works for you, is going to work better than trying to focus on any individual muscle group that’s involved.

In a major compound exercise. Okay, next we have a question from Polly Graves and he asks, white versus whole wheat carbs on a bulk slash cut. Is one better for physique or is it more about total calories? I would say go white when you’re bulking because whole wheat is more filling and that makes bulking.

More difficult, especially when you are at least a couple of months in and when you feel like you are force feeding yourself every meal, at least every meal after lunch and just in general, you are always full. You lose your motivation to eat food really. Even just lean, bulking, even slight calorie surplus, just a 10% calorie surplus.

Do that consistently for a couple of months, and you are going to be very sick of eating. So foods that are very filling for not very many calories or just that are more filling than an alternative option of that food. Like white rice versus brown rice, for example, or white wheat versus whole wheat. Are going to make it just a little bit harder because you are just gonna be a little bit fuller from those calories.

And so when you are lean bulking, you make different choices than when you are cutting. And this refined versus whole grain is one example of that. Drinking calories is another example. When you are cutting, you want to drink as few calories as possible, generally speaking. But when you are lean, bulking, drinking calories, which don’t have to be just junk calories, I’m not talking necessarily about.

Out soda. It could be milk for example. That can help a lot because you can drink a couple hundred calories of milk and not feel very full from it. However, if you were to eat a couple hundred calories of fruit, when you are lean bulking, when you have been lean bulking for some time and you are generally full, you are generally not interested in eating the extra fullness that comes from the fruit can just make it that much harder.

So coming back to the question then, if we now talk about cutting, you just do the opposite of what I was describing for lean, bulking. Go with the relatively unprocessed grains because one reason, because they are going to be more filling and when we are cutting the, one of the top priorities is to minimize hunger if we can.

Minimize hunger and we can eat foods we generally like, and if we can have good energy levels, if we can sleep well, have good workouts. Cutting is pretty dang easy. The only thing that practically speaking that can really get in the way at that point is socializing. You know, in my experience. Hearing from and working with many people over the years, the more you eat out when you are cutting, the harder it’s going to be to control your calories and control your macros.

It can be done, but it takes extra effort, and if someone isn’t willing to put in that extra effort, then it can derail the entire process. But so long as that doesn’t happen, and so long as we have the, the other boxes that I mentioned, check, then cutting can be mostly a breeze. Okay, Peter g Doit asks, exercising with a sore throat slash lung infection.

If not, take the week off. Extra rest is always the smartest move when you feel even a little bit sick, and so when you are definitely sick, definitely extra rest in both cases. You feel like something is coming on, you’re fighting something off. Skip your training, extra, rest, sick, skip your training, extra rest.

And by doing that, you are not going to infect others which matters. And you are also going to reduce your chances of getting even more sick because intense exercise stresses the body and it acutely impairs immune function. Whereas light activity has been shown to possibly stimulate immune function. So if you are coming down with something or you are lightly ill now, if you are in bed with a fever, stay in bed with a fever.

Going for a walk is probably not going to help you unless it just appeals to you emotionally and psychologically because you are sick of. Sitting in bed. I understand that. However, if you are getting sick or if you are lightly sick and you want to do something a little bit physically active, just go for a walk.

Again, light physical activity may actually speed up your recovery. Okay. SIB one asks, what is the latest conspiracy theory that you believe in? Well, I have a problem with the term conspiracy theory because I prefer recognizable pattern and you know, it’s hard to find a good conspiracy theory these days because they all keep coming true.

Next up, we have a question from Sandy Amara. Three. I want to increase bone density reps and sets. So here’s a, a quote from a study that I linked here on Instagram quote. The greatest skeletal benefits from resistance training have been achieved. When the resistance was progressively increased over time, the magnitude of mechanical load was high.

Around 80 to 85% of one RET max exercise was performed at least twice a week, and large muscles crossing the hip and the spine. We’re targeted. So what we’re looking at here is progressive overload. 4 26 reps per set, at least two workouts per week, and some hip hinging and some squatting. That sounds very familiar.

That sounds a lot like what I’ve been preaching since the beginning, since the first edition of Bier Stronger back in, uh, 2012. I believe that was, and you’re gonna find that in my book for women, thinner, leaner, stronger, that approach, the weights don’t start out that heavy. Because practically speaking, I have found that women who are new to strength training seem to do best with a bit lighter weights, not light, but instead of 80 to 85%, one rep max, more like 70 to 75%, something around eight to 10 reps percent.

And then as they gain strength work into some heavier weightlifting and at least two workouts per week in my books and programs, there is, uh, an option for three workouts per week. You could do two, but I give 3, 4, 5 day options in the books, and that also applies to my most recent book, muscle for Life, which was written specifically for the 40 plus crowd men and women.

Okay. So Tiffany Marie asks, what’s your take on alcohol? Well, unfortunately, Alcohol is a poison, I would say the weight of the evidence is clear here. It’s unhealthy in the sense of not conducive to good health. However, some people’s bodies can process alcohol better than others, making it more or less unhealthy in individual cases.

And so this is why some people respond very poorly to alcohol if they drink even relatively small amounts, infrequently. They feel very bad the following days. And then you have other people who drink moderate amounts of alcohol regularly and who don’t experience the same types of after effects.

However, those people are harming their health to some degree. Even if they don’t realize it and they’ve gotten used to it and they say they feel fine, what those people will often say, and I know this because I’ve heard from many of them over the years, that when they stop drinking alcohol, they feel a lot better and they realize that what they considered feeling fine with regular alcohol consumption is not fine if compared.

To the standard of how they feel with no alcohol or very little alcohol. All that said though, if you want a simple, practical recommendation, evidence-based recommendation, if you have, let’s say a few drinks per week or less, and otherwise you live a healthy lifestyle, you exercise regularly, you eat a lot of nutritious food, you maintain a healthy body composition, you get enough sleep, you maintain healthy amounts of stress, you are not completely stressed out all the time.

You don’t have anything to worry about, however, If you were to not drink alcohol whatsoever, you might notice that you feel even better. You might notice better energy levels. You might notice less brain fog. Uh, you might notice that you are mentally sharper, you might notice better sleep, and all of those things can add up to a significant improvement in just overall quality of life.

Well, I hope you liked this episode. I hope you found it helpful, and if you did subscribe to the show because it makes sure that you don’t miss new episodes. And it also helps me because it increases the rankings of the show a little bit, which of course then makes it a little bit more easily found by other people who may like it just as much as you.

And if you didn’t like something about this episode or about the show in general, or if you have. Uh, ideas or suggestions or just feedback to share. Shoot me an email, mike muscle for life.com, muscle f o r life.com and let me know what I could do better or just, uh, what your thoughts are about maybe what you’d like to see me do in the future.

I read everything myself. I’m always looking for new ideas and constructive feedback. So thanks again for listening to this episode, and I hope to hear from you soon.


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