Free Diet and Workout Programs

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Thursday, March 8, 2012
Huston Texan's Training on Weight Equipment
Houston Texans Training
In this morning's news there was an article on how the US Military is getting involved in the obesity epidemic in America because they're having to turn away a lot of potential recruits that are too fat to serve.

This reminded me of two free nutrition and exercise informational guides that I found recently and wanted to share.

The first is  "The Warfighter Nutrition Guide" from the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences.

The other is the Houston Texans Strength and Conditioning Program Player's Manual which contains a lot of great information regarding nutrition, diet, supplements, strength and skill training which will be the primary focus of this post.

Update: I also recently came across the Navy Seal Fitness Guide with is worth a look.

A big thank you to those in the Texans organizations that decided to publish this document on their website.

I consider these to be two of the most unbiased sources for diet and exercise that I have ever read.

Both the Military and Houston Texans are not in the business of selling diet plans, equipment or supplements. They are in the business of creating strong, fit individuals that have the endurance to perform difficult tasks.

The Houston Texans goal is to create a winning football team. To have a winning football team you need to have good athletes. An important part of being a good NFL athlete is proper training which includes good nutrition and effective strength training. The Houston Texans seem to have put in a good bit of time studying what would be the best nutrition and strength training advice for their players.

The US Military wants to create strong, effective soldiers that can perform better than anyone else even in difficult circumstances and for extended periods. They spend a lot of time and money researching nutrition.

Compare this to other popular diet and exercise programs. How do they make their money? They make it by selling their books, videos and accompanying equipment, accessories and supplements. Your results only matter for marketing purposes. With the Houston Texans or the US Military, results are all that matter. Having a good-looking body isn't the goal, but it's a nice side effect.

I encourage you to read both of the documents in their entirety. Below are some key points I took away from them.

The Best Nutritional Supplement You Should Take

Watch any professional football game and you'll be impressed with the strength, speed and endurance of the players. The Houston Texans decided to reveal the most important nutritional supplement they prescribe their players.
A new supplement you should try if you haven't already is called discipline. The formula to good nutrition is an easy one. Visit the grocery store and select food from all food groups. Go home and eat those foods.
Shocking isn't it? The notion that we can get all the nutrients we need from a healthy, balanced diet is the same message spread by the United States Department of Agriculture. You know, the food pyramid people.

Dale Gribble
I've watched every episode of the X-Files documentaries so I have a healthy mistrust of our government but if the Texans are recommending a similar approach then the USDA might not be just trying to fatten us up in advance of an alien invasion! (Then who is???)

So who is telling us to take dietary supplements? It seems to mostly be the people who are in some way financially benefiting from the sale of supplements.

I'm sure there are a lot of people out there that have bad diets but the Texans and the USDA agree that it's best to get those nutrients from food and not pills, potions or powders. The Texans recommend players only take supplements if prescribed by a Registered Dietitian or the Team.

If you have questions or concerns about your diet it sounds like a good idea to visit a Registered Dietitian. Not a Nutritionist, Diet Guru, Sustenance Svengali, Food Whisperer, etc. A Registered Dietitian is someone who has been registered with the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (formerly the American Dietetics Association).

A Registered Dietitian can perform tests, determine if you have any deficiencies and guide you how to improve your nutrition through better diet and possibly supplements if necessary. Some RDs have specialties in certain areas such as obesity and sports nutrition.

You can find a local Registered Dietitian on AND's website

Chapter 11: Looking for the Edge - Dietary Supplements of the Warfighters Guide to Nutrition also has a lot of good information about dietary supplements. It starts off stating:
  • Dietary supplements (DS) sold on military installations are not always safe, effective or legal.
  • Manufacturers of DS are not required to conduct research on safety or effectiveness. The Food and Drug Administration must prove a product is unsafe before it is taken off the market.
  • If you use DS, select high quality products with USP (United States Pharmacopoeia) certification labels. The label assures consumers that the product has been tested and verified in terms of its ingredients and manufacturing progress.
  • Combining and stacking of DS increases the potential for undesired and unsafe side effects.
  • Energy drinks are not regulated and the long-term effects of their combined ingredients are unknown.

The Texans Recommended Diet

Huston Texans on the Field
The Houston Texans are fit, energetic, have good endurance and the types of bodies many of us would like to have. So what bestselling diet plan does this pro NFL team advocate? Atkins? Zone? Grapefruit Diet? Juice Fasting? The Beer and Ice Cream Diet? (Please let it be that one!!!)
Diets Don't Work. If any one diet worked there wouldn't be any fat people. Instead of dieting try monitoring your eating and exercise habits for the rest of your life. [...] Most people regain the weight lost within six months. Losing fat requires patience. You cannot rush the process. Do not  lose more than two pounds per week. A smaller person will find it difficult to lose one pound of fat per week.
Along with the healthy dose of discipline, don't forget to take your patience pill!

The Six Basic Nutrients

The Texans Training Manual claims there are six basic nutrients you need to be concerned with. These nutrients can be obtained from a balanced diet without any special supplements. These six basic nutrients are Carbohydrates, Fats, Proteins, Vitamins, Minerals and Water.


According to the Houston Texans, 60% of your calories should come from carbs. They're the best source of energy. Like others, Texans recommend these carbs should come from healthy sources such as "bread, grains, cereals, pastas, fruits, and vegetables".

This is in line with the military's recommendation of having 50-70% of energy intake from carbohydrates. Another way to look at it is 2.5-6 grams of carbohydrates per lb of body weight depending on your physical activity level.

Carbohydrates restores the glycogen levels. Glycogen is the fuel your muscles use. They determined that low-carb diets can have a negative impact on endurance.
Chart of negative impact of low-carb diets and endurance
The figure below [right] illustrates patterns of muscle glycogen depletion over three days, when exercising two hours per day. Subjects on a low CHO diet gradually depleted their glycogen stores over the three-day period, whereas glycogen stores were repleted between training sessions on a high CHO diet. The need to consume foods high in CHO is clear


Fats are an important part of your diet. There are two types of fats, saturated and unsaturated. The consensus is that unsaturated fats are better for you. The Houston Texans want their players to consumer no more than 25% of calories from fat.

The military's recommendations  for fat intake are similar.


If you want to have a big muscular body like a football player or soldier then you must consume a large amount of protein right? Well, if you've been paying attention and can do simple math in your head then you've already realized that if you caloric intake is 60% carbs and 25% fats that only leaves 15% of calories from protein.

The military's guidelines are similar. They believe soldiers should consume 0.6 - 0.9 grams of protein per lb of body weight. This is not too far from other body building recommendations of 1 gram of protein per lb of body weight that I've seen online.

Too much protein can actually be bad for you. The Warrior Nutrition Guide states that "1.6 grams per pound  per day may inhibit muscle growth, increase loss of calcium, and compromise bone health".

Keep that in mind when the label on the back of your protein shake tells you to consume 2-3 times a day. Sounds like they're just trying to increase their profits!

The Houston Texans Manual has no love for protein powders at all.
Good sources of protein include dairy products, lean meats, fish, and chicken.  Protein pills and powders (including  amino acids) are a waste of money.  Amino acids became the “super potion” of the 1990’s.  However, the literature states that the body can obtain all essential amino acids from a balanced diet.

Additional protein supplementation is both expensive and unnecessary.  Covert Bailey, a fitness expert, states, “A growing body of evidence indicates that consuming too much protein is not only foolish; it can be harmful.”

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) in Washington, D.C., published a report entitled “Protein for Athletes.”  In this report the FTC states that athletes don’t need any more protein than the suggested RDA.  People selling supplements tell athletes otherwise.
Protein powders are a waste of money!?!?!? This one took me completely by surprise! Any time I think of strength training or body building I think of whey protein powders. I've read countless threads about Branch Chain Amino Acids (BCAAs) and people debating which brands provide more. It seems it's all pointless. We can get these amino acids from the foods we eat! The foods we should be eating that is.

The Houston Texans recommend non-fat powdered milk if their athletes insist on using protein supplements. 

They're not completely against protein supplementation though but feel you can get all your protein from other sources. The problem I have sometimes is getting enough protein without adding too much fat to my diet. That's where protein powders com in for me but I'll be experimenting with non-fat dry milk powder in my recipes instead.

Vitamins and Minerals

The Texans believe, as others do, that you can get all the vitamins and minerals you need from a healthy, balanced diet and only recommend a daily multivitamin to players that feel they need more.

Blood test by your doctor or Registered Dietitian (remember no nutrition psychics!) can let you know if you have any vitamin deficiencies that require supplementation.


Eh... by now everyone should know you need to drink a lot of water every day. Around 8 glasses. More if you're sweating a lot or taking any diuretics like alcohol, coffee, tea or other caffeinated drinks.

Water is important for your body. Drink it.

Much More Information

I've only touched on a few points in these two documents. Take the time and go through both of them. It's well worth it. What you learn can help improve your health and training and also save you money.

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