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Is Coke Zero Bad For You?: Q&A Weekly Roundup

By Marc Perry / April 7, 2018

There are so many good questions from the BuiltLean community, it’s hard to choose which ones to highlight each week! Hopefully this week’s Q & A will give you some tips on how to perform at your best.

Here’s the short list of questions based on topic:

  • Do Squats & Deadlifts Counteract Fat Loss?
  • Is Coke Zero Bad For You?
  • What Muscle Groups Are Most Important to Train for Fat Loss?
  • Eating Less Calories While Staying Full?
  • Should I add a full body workout to my 4 day split routine?
  • Question #1 | Squats, Deadlifts & Fat Loss

    Question: Hi Marc, just a quick question…do weighted squats and dead lifts work against fat loss? I seem to get bulkier doing these two exercises. –Arijit Banerjee
    Answer: Hey Aritjit Banarjee, I would say squats and deadlifts are very anabolic exercises that can help you build muscle, but they can also help your body burn fat. It depends on your eating regimen. If you eat a ton of protein and calories doing those exercises, they will help you build muscle, but if you eat less calories, they should not prevent you from losing fat. Hope that makes sense. In fact, squats in particular when done with great form are an exceptional exercise. Deadlifts are also great, I just think the risk/reward ratio is not as good.

    – Marc (Marc Perry, CSCS, CPT)

    Question #2 | Is Coke Zero Bad For You?

    Question: Dear Marc,

    First of all, I would like to congratulate you on this terrific website. The resources you have offered so far and the benefits you lay out of living a healthy lifestyle are so motivational and easily comprehensible that anybody reading this site just must feel compelled to drop his bad eating and living habits…

    Is drinking Coke Zero advisable while trying to stay in shape/drop a few pounds? It has 0 carbs, 0 calories and I wonder if one is allowed this treat. There are quite a few urban myths about rising insulin-level, I can’t buy and I don’t feel like disparaging this drink, considering how good it tastes. There might be some health risks involved with consuming Coke Zero, but I have not found anything convincing so far, except for unfounded negative prejudice. Having a glass of Coke to get a taste of sweetness would make maintaining a diet a lot easier, because people could get the sweet taste they crave every once in a while, avoiding a potential outburst of hunger for sweets with potential devastating effects on the work put in beforehand. I am looking forward for your answer.
    Thanks a lot for everything so far!

    p.s. This question could be made into an article, by the way. I believe many people might be interested in it. – Borys

    Answer: @Broys – Thank you for the kind words regarding the BuiltLean website!

    My take on Coke Zero is that yes, it’s better than regular coke, and even diet coke. And yes, if it can help you stay on track with a healthy diet by providing a sugary taste, I’m a realist and understand that can be fine too.

    With that said, we are meant to drink water as our primary source of hydration. Other ideas include herbal teas, or adding a squeeze of real fruit to water as well for some added taste.

    Coke Zero while it provides no calories does have some ingredients: “Carbonated water, colour (caramel E150d), phosphoric acid, sweeteners (aspartame, acesulfame-K), flavourings (including caffeine), acidity regulator (E331). Contains a source of phenylalanine.”

    I’m not a huge fan of drinking chemicals that I can barely pronounce. I have no desire to drink coke for the aforementioned reasons, nor do I recommend it.

    I agree with you that this topic is certainly worthy of a separate post and we’ll get to that for sure. Hope this answer is satisfactory without getting into too much depth and making this comment a separate article!

    – Marc (Marc Perry, CSCS, CPT)

    Question #3 | Muscle Groups & Fat Loss

    Question: As a follow up to the first question about arm exercises, can you expand on this point: ”In terms of overall body strength and getting lean, arms may be the least important muscles to train directly”? If arms are the least important muscles to train directly then which are the most important muscle groups to train directly for getting lean and creating overall body strength? – Jason
    Answer: @Jason – Absolutely. Here’s the list of most important muscle groups to train to get lean and/or build muscle in order of importance:

    1) Legs (by far)
    2) Back
    3) Chest
    4) Shoulders
    5) Arms

    I didn’t include core/abs/lower back because oftentimes you may not need to train them directly if you are doing a lot of full body movements, but if not a few solid core exercises can do the trick.

    This grouping is based on the size of the muscle volume of each muscle groups and the impact they can have on your central nervous system and hormones. Also keep in mind I prefer thinking of exercises and workouts based on movement patterns as opposed to muscle groups, but any way you slice it, doing an arm workout could be the least effective way to help increase metabolism to burn more fat.

    – Marc (Marc Perry, CSCS, CPT)

    Question #4 | Stay Full Eating Less Calories

    Question: Thanks Marc. I’ll take a look at what I can lower in my diet. Right now, my calorie count is around 2300-2400. The smaller my meals are, the hungrier I will become quicker as opposed to leaving me satiated right now. Instead of holding me off for 3-3.5 hrs, it will hold me off sometimes for maximum of 2. I don’t know whether it’s d/t more lean muscle mass or what. My intake right now is 40/40/20 % being p/c/f. I’m right around 200 grams of carbs per day but still get a bit hungry. When I was at 150, my blood sugar was bottoming out, feeling lightheaded, and didn’t have energy. I keep telling myself that I do need more of a caloric deficit, but it’s tough to cut things out. I don’t think I’ll have much trouble with it. Thanks. – Brandon
    @Brandon – I definitely understand where you are coming from. In the nutrition section of my BuiltLean Program, I discuss a number of meal ideas and snacks that I like to emphasize because they have a high satiety factor. Here’s an article which touches on a few – Top 10 Fat Loss Foods. For example for breakfast, a couple whole eggs with 2-3 egg whites, a grapefruit, and a 1/2 cup of oatmeal is only around 500 calories, but it should fill you up. Then consider maybe some greek yogurt as a snack, which is only an extra 150 calories. Now you are 1/3 of the way done with the day and you are only 650 calories in. The challenge is the leaner you get, the more uncomfortable it is to break to the next level. Just be very careful that your strength levels don’t go down and you are retaining your muscle mass as you take down the calories.

    – Marc (Marc Perry, CSCS, CPT)

    Question #5 | Full Body Workout & Split Routines

    Question: Hi Marc,

    I do Split Routine 4 x per week, I wanted to start doing full body is well!? I am not fat at all, I consider myself a bit skinny but my body shape is very good, I really want to build muscle and get bigger!!

    Any suggestions would be great. By the way your articles and research are very helpful, informative and interesting. Thanks a lot, waiting for response. – Myk

    Answer: @Myk – I think lifting 4x per week with a split routine is fine, adding an extra full body workout doesn’t seem to me like it would help bring you over the hump. If during your split routine you are not emphasizing the basics (i.e. squats, deadlifts – be careful though, bench, rows etc.), that’s the first place I would start. You also need to make sure you are eating plenty of calories, protein, and you are increasing the amount of weight you are lifting over time. It’s easy to get carried away with the hundreds of different exercises you could be doing, but all you need is 5, MAX 10 exercises to help you build up your physique. Track these lifts and get stronger at them while fueling your body with ample protein/calories and your body will respond.

    – Marc (Marc Perry, CSCS, CPT)


    • Matt says:

      Do you know of any places online where I can view pictures of people in which their height, weight, and body fat percentages? I'm highly doubt some of the one's I've seen by simply googling (I feel like many of the guys are greatly overestimating their weight).

    • Marc Perry, CSCS, CPT says:

      @Matt - I think the best place is right here - http://bodyspace.bodybuilding.com/. Just be careful of all the supplement pitches!

    • fakhar says:

      hi Marc
      i am a new learner.boss! your rock hard body is my ideal.I like your articles,videos,Q & A,quick notes etc so much.which are really like a treasure for guys like me.i am doing full body workouts 3_4 in a week based on squats,lunges,push,pull, and twist with interval training(tread mill) after exercise and stretching in between circuits.All of these i learned from you.thank you so much.my question is this
      Q: what to do in rest days ?
      Saturday strength training
      Sunday off
      Monday again strength day so, what to do at Sunday ?
      i run on tread mill 10 rounds
      1 min sprint 1 min walk
      am i doing right? please guide me
      waiting for suggestion for me.thanks
      i don't know how to contact you so that's why i am using this comment box.

      • Marc Perry, CSCS, CPT says:

        @fakhar - sounds like you are on the right path, happy to see you are implementing my advice. I think 3 full body workouts + a few HIIT cardio intervals (either on separate days, or after the workouts) is a solid amount of exercise each week if it is the right amount of intensity. In fact, your workout routine is similar to the set up I have for my BuiltLean Program.

        On your rest days, you can rest and not do anything, or you can actively rest with a light jog, some swimming, yoga, cycling, etc. Basically, you want to make sure the "active rest" is not very intense, but more recuperative. You can also do some foam rolling and stretching. I'll be adding an article soon about foam rolling, which I think is very important.