How Many Carbs Do You Need?

Filed under: General Health, Nutrition, Training, Weight Loss, Youth Training

A few months ago I wrote a somewhat controversial article for Precision Nutrition entitled Carb controversy: Why low-carb diets have got it all wrong.

The purpose of the article was to show that people’s carbohydrate needs vary depending on several factors, most importantly your activity level.

Many took the article to be bashing a low or lower carb approach, which it really was not. The title might make it seem that way, but the piece itself made it clear that there is a time and a place for a low carb approach. It’s just not all the time, for everyone.

In fact, here is how I think people’s carb needs fall:

Bell Curve for Carb Needs

As you can see, most people would do best with a more moderate approach, as it provides:

  • ample protein and fat to meet needs and prevent deficiencies;
  • adequate carbohydrates to meet needs and prevent problems of inadequate intake (testosterone dropping, cortisol rising, etc); and,
  • the greatest flexibility and freedom in food and meal choices, allowing for the greatest long-term consistency (the real key to sustained success).

To me, there are 3 very distinct populations that I was speaking to with this piece:

1. The general population (of which about 70% tends to be overweight).

2. The fitness crowd.

3. Insulin resistant and/or sedentary individuals.

The goals of the general population tend to be fairly modest. They often just want practical and reasonable approaches to help them find a sustainable path to their goals. The approach I provided will do just that.

The fitness crowd tends to be a little carb-shy, much to their detriment. It is something that the Paleo/Crossfit crowd has discovered. They have been recommending people up their intake of carbs lately (generally from things like sweet potatoes) as they have discovered that long-term intense training combined with a low carb diet generally does not turn out well. People in the fitness industry, or who just love fitness, should match their carb intake to their genetics, goals and activity levels. They might be surprised what they find when they do.

Insulin resistant and/or sedentary individuals would do better with a reduced carbohydrate intake. Probably in that 1 standard deviation less than the average. In this case, the average carbohydrate intake that I was advocating for was only about 40% of calories. Assuming you eat about 4 times per day, this equates to ~2 cupped handfuls of carbs for men and ~1 cupped handful of carbs for women per meal. We generally recommend that insulin resistant and/or sedentary individuals cut carbs back to about 25% of calories. This equates to ~1 cupped handful of carbs for men and ~0.5 cupped handful of carbs for women per meal. People who are insulin resistant simply do not handle carbs well. And people who are sedentary simply do not need as many since they are not as active.

To put the final nail in the coffin, here are a few studies you may find interesting.

Overfeed study of fat vs carbs. They actually found overfeeding of fat to lead to greater fat accumulation than overfeeding of carbs -

Overfeeding of fat vs carbs #2. No significant differences were found between eating 1200 excess fat or carb calories -

And a review study that ultimately concluded that a moderate approach is generally the best approach to start most people on -

And finally, a cool new site I have come across provides some fantastic information. I have no idea whose site it is, but their take on the low carb/high fat vs. high carb/low fat debate was fantastic and thoroughly referenced -

I hope that provides a little clarity on the topic for everybody.

And if you pick up a copy of my Nutrition Guide to Kevin Neeld’s new Ultimate Hockey Transformation, you will now have an even better idea of why I make the carbohydrate recommendations that I do.

In this new program Kevin provides incredible in- and off-season programs for players at the U14, U16, U18, and Junior/College levels. He also provides a comprehensive video database of every exercise in the program. Along with a great manual describing why the programs are designed the way they are and exactly how to use/adjust them based on time, space, equipment, etc. It has everything you would ever need to make yourself into the best hockey player you can be.


Posted on May 19th, 2014 by Brian St. Pierre

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Stuff You Should Read

Filed under: General Health, Nutrition, Weight Loss

I simply wanted to share 2 incredible new PN articles that I have had a hand in shaping.  While they are officially credited to JB, who did write the majority of each one, several of us also had a hand in editing the piece and adding our thoughts.  With so many bright minds involved, it turned good articles into incredible ones, that are worth sharing with as many people as possible.  They are that good.

How to fix a broken diet: 3 ways to get your eating on track

Paleo, vegan, intermittent fasting…what’s the bests diet?

Posted on June 14th, 2013 by Brian St. Pierre

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Show and Go Sale = $50 Off

Filed under: General Health, Nutrition, Training, Weight Loss

A few weeks ago I received an email thanking me and EC for the Show and Go Training Program and Nutrition Guide.  It was absolutely wonderful to see someone make such tremendous improvements in his health, body composition and performance.  Here is what he had to say:

“EC and BSP,

I hope you guys are doing well! I just wanted to send you two a quick note of thanks. The Show & Go System has made considerable changes to my body, both outside and inside.

I’ve completed Show & Go three times with maintenance periods in between. Initially, I completed the 4x/week program. Really effective, but required too much time given I’m working full time, teaching two courses, and finishing up my PhD. Next, I completed the 3x/week program. Finally, I went back to the 4x/week program but only lifted 3x/week. I love the upper/lower split and the recovery time between sessions it offered me. It was during this last program that I absolutely destroyed my PRs! That is no joke! Here is a listing of gains I’ve made from January 2011 until June 2012:

Bodyweight (6’1”): 192.5 —> 209.5

Body Fat: 14.5 —> 11.5

Front Squat: 165x3x5 —> 235x3x5

Deadlift (conventional): 275×1 —> 415×1

Bench Press: 235×1 —> 285×1

Pull ups: +10x3x5 —> +37.5x3x5

I’m not brutally strong, but strong for someone who wasn’t blessed with the strong gene. I could go on and on about the gains, but the primary reason I’m emailing is to thank BSP for the Show and Go Nutrition Guide and to thank EC for including it. My family has a notorious history of heart disease. My dad’s grandpa died from his first heart attack at 50, my dad’s dad died at 56 (he had four heart attacks and three strokes), my dad’s uncle died from his first heart attack at 62, and my dad had his first heart attack at 48 (thankfully still alive). Odds not trending in my favor.

My wife and I switched to eating as BSP recommended as of July 2011. I had labs done in June 2011 and just had them done again yesterday at my yearly physical. Everything keeps improving as seen in the comparison from June 2011 to August 2012:

LDL: 108 —> 88

HDL: 40 —> 64

Triglycerides: 81 —> 55

I know these aren’t the only indicators of health, but they are pretty damn important to heart health. I owe just about all of the changes I’ve made to you two! This is crazy! Oh, and all while eating 5 eggs just about every day, in light of the new study released here: Be aware that that study’s statistical interpretations are extremely suspect. Plus, any time you see researchers arbitrarily categorizing continuous variables (e.g., into quintiles) be skeptical immediately. Far too much information is lost due to categorization!

Anyways, thanks again and keep producing quality programs and providing quality information!



p.s., In 15 months, Show & Go also transformed my wife from a non-lifting marathon runner into an absolute beast in the gym. Her current lifts are, Back Squat: 170x5x3, Conventional Deadlift: 185x5x3, full hang chin ups: 7, Bench: 110×1. At a body weight around 130. Hopefully our kids get her strong gene! Thanks again!!”

I would say those results truly speak for themselves!  In a matter of 1.5 years he was able to gain 21lbs of lean body mass (muscle and its associated components, bone, etc) and lose 4lbs of fat mass, while gaining tremendous strength and drastically improving his health to boot!

A recent review determined the Triglyceride to HDL ratio as the best single predictor of heart disease risk, with a goal of 2 or less.  His ratio went from 2.025 to a fantastic 0.86!  Not only that he was able to lower his LDL levels while consuming 5 whole eggs per day, pretty impressive stuff if you ask me.

Show and Go: High Performance Training to Look, Feel & Move Better is on sale for $50 off from now through Sunday, September 9 at midnight.  Do yourself a favor and grab a copy of this incredible and comprehensive training program, and at the same time purchase the tag along Show and Go Nutrition Guide, written by yours truly.  You won’t regret it, as you can see it can help you improve your healthy, body composition and performance all at the same time.

Posted on September 4th, 2012 by Brian St. Pierre


Stop the Junk…Mail That Is

Filed under: General Health, Weight Loss

I don’t know about you, but I certainly tire of receiving credit card offers all the time, car insurance junk and other miscellaneous junk mail.  I shred the credit card offers and I recycle what I can, but I came across some cool information recently that is much more effective at saving the earth than even recycling – stopping the junk mail altogether!

In fact I came across this info as I was researching what I can and can’t recycle in my new town.  Here is what I discovered:

A staggering 4 million tons of junk mail is sent each year – much of it never  opened. Even if the junk mail is recycled, there are enormous  environmental costs associated with production of paper, ink, energy to produce and deliver the mail as well as in the process of recycling. It is must more effective to stop the mail at its source.

If you are interested in no longer receiving junk mail, simply send a letter with your complete name, address, zip code and the phrase “activate the preference service.”  Send this to:

Mail Preference Service
Direct Marketing Association
PO Box 643
Carmel, NY 15012-0643

In fact the Direct Marketing Association estimates that this will stop 75% of all national mailings!

The worst offender, for us anyway, are the credit card companies.  Nearly constant solicitation.  While the above tactic won’t stop them, there is another strategy.

All of the major credit agencies sell aggregate credit information to any bidder. To stop direct mail and credit companies from soliciting your business you need only make one call (1-888-5 OPT OUT or 1-888-567-8688). A recording will confirm your phone number, name, address and social security number. The service last for 5 years.

I just did both of these this past week, and I am really looking forward to getting less junk!

If you need a little more convincing, if everyone in the U.S. was able to reduce their average of 10.8 pieces of junk mail received each week, we could save nearly 100 million trees each year.

On another note Precision Nutrition is opening up its doors for another round of its tremendously successful Lean Eating Program.  And this time they are putting up $75,000 of their own money to the best transformations.

To find out how you can win the cash — and get in the best shape of your life — check out today’s post:

Can $75,000 inspire you to lose fat & get healthier?

Posted on June 22nd, 2012 by Brian St. Pierre

1 Comment »

Stuff You Should Read

Filed under: General Health, Nutrition, Training, Weight Loss

This past week was one of the craziest of my entire life. I felt like I worked virtually around the clock to get everything done. Fortunately everything worked out, got done on time and in a quality manner.

Now you could say that sleep was not a huge part of the equation this week (getting up a 3am to get work done will do that to you), however I slept in until almost 8am this morning. Since then I have relaxed, eaten breakfast and read some interesting blogs that I wanted to share with you guys. So check them out.

Transitional Speed Training – by Kevin Neeld. Kevin has just released his Ultimate Hockey Training System which I was fortunate enough to contribute the Nutrition Guide for. As a former junior hockey player I can tell you first hand this video and the product are fantastic and will make a huge impact on your on-ice performance. As a strength coach I can also tell you that I have seen Kevin coach in person way back in the day when he interned at CP, and he is phenomenal. Watch the video and tell me you don’t agree!

Mistakes Skinny Guys Make: Flipflopitis – by Tony Gentilcore. This is a fantastic ongoing series over on Tony’s site that you should check out. In this installment Tony expounds on a great Dan John quote “The goal is to keep the goal, the goal.” He applies it to skinny guys always bouncing from program to program and always trying the next best thing rather than actually following a plan through to completion. In reality this applies to the ENTIRE population, so definitely give this one a read.

Losing Fat With Simple Food – Two Reader Anecdotes – by Stephan Guyenet. Two readers of wholehealthsource provide their stories on a low-reward diet. This is a simple yet fascinating read to see how they responded to the lifestyle change and how it affected their weight and body composition. They also point out numerous times that low-reward does not equal low-palatability, which is a very important disctinction.

Posted on October 22nd, 2011 by Brian St. Pierre


Complete Core Fitness

Filed under: General Health, Training, Weight Loss

Training the core is one of the most controversial topics in the entire fitness industry. It ranges from some people doing almost all sit-ups, crunches, side-bends and other forms of spinal flexion vs others doing only plank variations where they draw their stomach in towards their spine and then everyone in between.

The question is – Who’s right?

Well Mike Robertson has decided to answer that question with the most comprehensive core product the industry has ever seen – Complete Core Fitness. Mike covers a bunch of research, breaks down the anatomy and the kinetic role of the core musculature and the unit as a whole, and relates this into a proper core training philosophy and protocol.

In his usual manner Mike provides this incredible info in an easy-to-understand slideshow, interjected with a little humor and anecdotes from his vast training experience that makes this product worth every penny. If you are a strength coach, physical therapist or a fitness enthusiast then this is a must have for your training library!

Let’s break down again what makes this product so awesome:

  • Complete Core Fitness includess 7 webinar modules, for 3 hours of total content covering everything about the core.
  • Topics include Mike’s philosophy on core training, functional anatomy, his assessment process, and then the four phases of core training he uses with clients and athletes.
  • Everything is covered here – assessment, program design, coaching, cuing, the works. Literally it’s step-by-step in nature.
  • There are four bonus products (including one 2-hour webinar by Evan Osar) and then you also get the Powerpoint slides and an additional 80 minutes of audio Q&A to download.
  • 60-day, no questions asked money back guarantee

I have personally watched the entire webinar (I got an early release version) I can tell you that it is absolutely fantastic. I have pages worth of notes as Mike just had so many valuable little tidbits of information even though a lot of what he teaches is what I believe and learned at Cressey Performance. Even with similar ideas and philosophies, I found a ton of info and tips were invaluable. Some were just little ideas that made a few things click, others were ways of saying things or coaching cues that I felt would work well with clients.

Mike really covered it all and taught me a bunch of stuff in the process! Which I know maybe doesn’t sound that hard, but considering again our similar philosophies on the topic as well as the fact that I have seen Mike give seminars on this very topic, I was still able to walk away armed with a more information to make me better at what I do, and that is always the measure of a good product.

So again if you are  a strength coach or a personal trainer this is an absolutely must-have, no questions asked. If you are a fitness enthusiast or one of the 80% of Americans who suffers from low back pain, then this product will also be invaluable to you. This week only the Complete Core Fitness is on sale price for $30 off the usual price, so act fast!

—> Complete Core Fitness <—

Posted on October 4th, 2011 by Brian St. Pierre

1 Comment »

The Fitness Business Blueprint

Filed under: General Health, Nutrition, Training, Weight Loss

How many small business owners get any business training? Unless you went to school for business, most likely not much. How many dentists, electricians, doctors, painters, chefs, nutritionists and trainers/strength coaches get any direction or quality information on how to run their business? Not many.

While being good at what you do is imperative, and without that it doesn’t matter how good your business skills are, it still will not maximize your success. I’m not just talking about making money, I’m talking about the amount of people you can work with and provide a quality service too. If you do not have a good business plan you will fail or at least fail to thrive, regardless of your skill set.

Fortunately for all of us in the fitness industry there is hope. Eric Cressey, Mike Robertson and Pat Rigsby have worked together to create an incredible product, the Fitness Business Blueprint.

It covers things on the actual training side – intake/assessment, program design, coaching, etc as well as thoroughly providing you with a blueprint for business success. Pat is one of the most successful business coaches in the fitness industry, and has helped thousands of strength coaches and trainers create thriving personal facilities.

EC and MR both own their own incredibly successful facilities and have learned tons of valuable lessons along the way. I was personally on the ground floor of Cressey Performance as it grew from a small facility with 37 clients to a 7,600 sq ft comprehensive training center with several hundred clients. I was able to witness the implementation of new and improved business models as the EC and the CP team grew and got better. This isn’t advice from some internet expert, this is advice and strategies from guys who have successfully done what so many of us want to do. This product will allow you to stand on the shoulders of giants.

The Fitness Business Blueprint is a comprehensive product to help any trainer or strength coach finally break out of the big box gym and start running their own place, work their desired schedule, and make their desired income, and it is for sale right now!

Good luck!

Posted on August 9th, 2011 by Brian St. Pierre

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Training is like Farming

Filed under: General Health, Nutrition, Training, Weight Loss

Mike Boyle recently wrote an absolutely phenomenal article called Training is like Farming, which I am re-posting here because I think it is that good. This analogy is absolutely perfect, and it is something that I can never emphasize enough to my clients. You get out what you put in, period.

Without further ado:

I think I remember Stephen Covey in his book Seven Habits of Highly Effective People (Note from BSP – this is a fantastic book!) making reference to what I believe he called “the law of the farm.” The reference was meant to show that most of the truly good things in life take time and can’t be forced or rushed. Covey described the process of farming and alluded to how it requires patience and diligence to grow crops properly. In addition, farming requires belief in the system. The farmer must believe that all the hard work and preparation will eventually yield a long-term result.

As a strength and conditioning coach, business owner and personal trainer, the concept has always stuck with me. The process of exercising is much like farming or like planting a lawn. There are no immediate results from exercise and there are no immediate results from farming.

First, the seeds must be planted. Then fertilizer (nutrition) and water must be applied consistently. Much like fertilizer in farming, too much food can be a detriment to the exerciser. Only the correct amounts cause proper growth. Overfeeding can cause problems, as can underfeeding. As I sit and wait for my lawn to sprout or crops to grow, I feel many of the same frustrations of the new exerciser. When will I see results? How come nothing is happening? All this work and — nothing.

The key is to not quit. Have faith in the process. Continue to add water and wait. Farming and exercising are eerily similar. Continue to exercise and eat well and suddenly a friend or co-worker will say, “Have you lost weight”? Your reaction might be, “It’s about time someone noticed.” Much like the first blades of grass poking through the ground, you begin to see success. You begin to experience positive feedback. Clothes begin to fit differently.

When my friends or clients talk to me about their frustration with their initial lack of progress in an exercise program, I always bring up the farm analogy. We live in a world obsessed with quick fixes and instant results. This is why the farm analogy can be both informative and comforting.

An exercise program must be approached over a period of weeks and months, not days. The reality is that there is no quick fix, no easy way, no magic weight loss plan, no secret cellulite formula. There is only the law of the farm. You will reap what you sow. In reality, you will reap what you sow and care for. If you are consistent and diligent with both diet and exercise, you will eventually see results. However, remember, much like fertilizer and water, diet and exercise go together.

Try to grow crops or a lawn without water. No amount of effort will overcome the lack of vital nutrients.

The law of the farm.

Plant the seeds.

Feed and water properly.

Wait for results; they will happen, not in days, but in weeks and months.

To your success,

Mike Boyle

Posted on July 7th, 2011 by Brian St. Pierre


Getting Lean for Summer

Filed under: General Health, Nutrition, Weight Loss

I hope you all had a wonderful 4th of July. It was a lovely day up here in Maine so I hope that weather shared with everyone else.

In the spirit of summer truly starting, I wanted to share some feedback with a client who contacted me in late winter to try and get lean for the summer. This was a guy who had been training for a while, and was big and strong, but had a few more lbs than he wanted.

He had dieted before and gotten results, but it was crazy strict and he could never maintain that leanness or enjoy life at the same time! So he contacted me to see if he could find a nutrition plan to achieve a more sustainable level of leanness and still be able to party with his friends down on the Jersey Shore. His goal was to lose 15-20lbs and keep it off.

We had a phone consult where we discussed my analysis of his current intake and prior dieting experience, the sad fact that he was from Jersey (kidding), as well as various other questions he had. I also sent him my nutrition packet, grocery list and finally, his personalized nutrition plan.

He contacted me a few weeks ago to share his results, and here is what he had to say:


I wanted to take a minute to follow up with you. Since I began the nutrition plan at the beginning of March, I have lost 18.5 lbs as of this morning(June 24)! Feeling and looking good. I’m not shredded, but I’m much, much leaner. If i had to guess, I’m between 9-10% body fat. That’s down from 14.5% according to one of those gadgets you grip.

I think I’m doing very well considering the weekends I’ve had at the Jersey Shore and the recent grad parties I’ve attended. I’m on point 80-85% of the time, and that has allowed me to live like a real person and not feel terrible about not being able to eat super clean with limited options at the Shore.”

Clearly he has made tremendous progress, and has been able to lose just over 1lb per week while not being perfect, partying on the weekends (1 night) and as he put it, living like a real person. These are real-world results, and his eating has now developed into lifestyle that he can sustain for the long haul. He has been able to make this progress through rough weekends, graduation parties and more while not depriving himself.

If your goal is to be 4% bodyfat and step on stage in a Speedo, then this plan isn’t for you. If your goal is to be healthy and fit, with an eye on your long-term health and success, then you have come to the right place.

Posted on July 5th, 2011 by Brian St. Pierre

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What’s More Important?

Filed under: General Health, Nutrition, Weight Loss

What’s More Important?

This is a central question that everyone needs to ask themselves. While this can apply to all facets of life, I am going to focus on diet and nutrition, obviously.

To me many people make their food choices seemingly on a whim, or what sounds good at the time. I am sorry to say, that approach does not lead down the path of success. Instead people need to become more mindful of their choices.

My proposition is to get people to ask themselves “what’s more important to you?” Is it more important that you lose 20lbs or have a soda everyday? Is it more important that you walk around at sub 10% bodyfat, or that you hang out with your friends and enjoy yourself on the weekends (and instead you are 12% bodyfat)?

I am not saying which choice is the “right” one, I am asking you to decide which choice is more important to YOU. To some having a soda everyday makes them happy (or at least they think it does, which might be the same thing), and if you choose to make that decision everyday so be it, but do not bemoan the fact that you can’t lose those 20lbs. You made a conscious choice. If losing the 20lbs was truly more important, you would drop the soda.

This is similar to the idea that people are willing to give up what they want the most (to be lean) for what they want right now (CAKE!).

Situations like this happen all of the time. People want to get stronger, or they want to get leaner, or they want to gain some muscle, yet they are not willing to give up habits that prevent these things from happening. This would be fine if they were ok with the fact that their consistent choices are what have gotten them where they are.

However, if you really want to  be different, look different, feel different, perform different than you currently are, then you have to decide what is more important to you – The change you say you want, or the choices you currently make that have you where you are? TV or the gym? Getting up a few minutes earlier and making breakfast, or sleeping in and getting Dunkin Donuts? Spending 10 minutes each morning preparing 2-3 meals/snacks for the day, or not and just eating at restaurants or work and hoping for the best? The list goes on and on.

The choices are yours, you just need to decide what is more important to you.

Posted on April 29th, 2011 by Brian St. Pierre


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