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Ask Coach Calorie: Muscle Soreness, Water Intake, Maintaining Weight, and Getting Abs

ask coach calorieMy email box fills up with questions daily. While I do my best to answer them all, I spend most of my time researching and writing fitness articles that you can freely read on this website. To help solve this problem and help as many of you as I can, I’ve started doing a Question & Answer on Twitter from 11am – Noon Central Standard Time every Friday. If you have a question that’s been on your mind, join the Q&A and tweet me your question. I’ll answer as many questions as I can in that hour. If you haven’t already done so, follow me on Twitter.

Should I Work Out When I’m Sore?

@CoachCalorie I’m really sore today. Should I work out? I hate missing workouts.

Delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS) is a tricky subject because science has yet to definitively pinpoint the cause of it. The once prevailing theory that it was caused by lactic acid buildup has now fallen by the wayside. Lactic acid is that burning sensation you feel in your muscles when you’re working out. Lactic acid returns to normal levels in less than 60 minutes after exercise [1 pdf]. DOMS shows up 24-48 hours after exercise, so it’s not possible for lactic acid to be the cause.

DOMS has tried to be explained by microtrauma from the tear-down of muscles. Another theory is that it occurs from metabolic stress from chemical byproducts of working out. However, non of these theories have been conclusively proven. Without knowing the cause, it’s difficult to give a concrete answer to whether you should work out through the muscle soreness.

My opinion is that your body is a smart machine that sends out signals for what you should and should not do. You break an arm – you feel pain, and your body keeps you from using it until you’re better. You get sick – your body is weakened to preserve energy to fight off bacteria. In my opinion, the same goes for muscle soreness. The reduced range of motion from DOMS and the resulting pain is a signal from your body that you need to let your muscle fully heal. Whether it’s a chemical reaction causing the problem or it’s from muscle microtrauma, the point is that your muscles have not fully healed.

When in doubt, play it safe. Either work the muscles that aren’t sore, or take a day off. You aren’t going to lose muscle or get fat by taking an extra day or two off from working out. Instead, you’ll come back stronger from being smart, patient, and letting yourself rest.

Tips for Drinking More Water

@CoachCalorie Trying to drink my gallon of water daily…any tips for getting this done?

You obviously understand how important drinking water is for weight loss. A gallon of water a day is a good number to aim for. A nice general guideline is to drink 1 ounce for every pound of lean body weight. Depending on how intense your exercise is, you could end up drinking more. It’s not always easy to get in your water intake goals for the day, but there are a few things you can do to make it easier.

  • Drink a Glass of Water Upon Waking – We usually wake from a night’s sleep in a dehydrated state. This makes it easy to down a glass of water first thing in the morning.
  • Carry a Water Bottle with You – Make water accessible at all times of the day. If you can’t find any, you won’t drink it. A water bottle or a 20 ounce bottle of water are always good to have within arm’s reach.
  • Eat Water Dense Foods – Not all your water comes from drinking. Many foods are packed with water too. Foods like fruits have a high water content.
  • Flavor Your Water – The lack of taste keeps many from drinking water, but you could add some flavor by adding some sliced lemon, lime, orange, or cucumber to make it more enjoyable.

How Do You Maintain Your Weight?

@CoachCalorie In your “How to Lose 10 Pounds in a Month” blog, do you have to be so particular about the veggies? How do you maintain after that?

As a reference to everyone else, the article in question is How to Lose 10 Pounds in a Month. It was a popular article and many people had questions. As to being so particular about the veggies, no you don’t have to be. I provided a list of veggies that I consider negative calorie foods to make it easier for people. However, the key points in picking the right veggies are picking ones that have little to trace carbohydrates and are high in fiber. This means that starchy carbohydrates or sugary carbs like fruit are not OK to eat. These foods are healthy and can be eaten in your protein/carb meals, but they should be avoided in your protein/fat meals. Keep in mind that I’m speaking solely about this diet plan. Fruit and other healthy carbs will always have their place in a healthy lifestyle.

As for maintaining after you’ve lost the weight, you’re going to want to focus on eating the same foods, but increasing your calorie intake. You could also have 1 or 2 additional protein/carb meals in place of the protein fat meals. For example, you would go from this:

  • Meal 1 – protein/carb
  • Meal 2 – protein/fat
  • Meal 3 – protein/fat
  • Meal 4 – protein/fat
  • Meal 5 – protein/fat

to this:

  • Meal 1 – protein/carb
  • Meal 2 – protein/carb
  • Meal 3 – protein/carb
  • Meal 4 – protein/fat
  • Meal 5 – protein/fat

How Do I Get Abs?

@CoachCalorie Aside from those hard crunches, what are the other simple ways on how to get those abs? ;) tnx!

As you may or may not know, abs are more a function of diet than exercise. You could do thousands of crunches of day, but if you have a layer of fat over your stomach, you’re never going to see your abs. Since you can’t target fat loss, your time would be better spent cleaning up your diet. However, a strong core is always a good thing to have, but crunches are not the only way to get them. Exercises that stabilize the core will give you just as good of, if not a stronger midsection than crunches. Exercises like squats, deadlifts, and overhead presses put the core under extreme stress to stabilize the upper and lower body. Focus more on these compound movements and your diet and you’ll start getting those abs.

Have a weight loss, diet, exercise, or general fitness question? Join me on Fridays and tweet me your question. Be sure to follow me on Twitter to get the latest fitness articles from

  • Kimii

    Hey Tony, I have a question about coffee. Is it ok to have 1-2 cups a day and when is the best time to drink it?


    • Coach Calorie

      Nothing wrong with coffee. Just don’t go loading it up with sugar or artificial sweeteners. There is no best time to drink it, but if you don’t eat before your workout in the morning, it’s a good way to get an energy boost.

  • Tracy

    Hi, I have weight trained for years, am currently at 66kg and 21% bodyfat. I carry a lot of muscle, especially in my legs. I do cardio 5 -6 days a week, mostly HIIT and the odd RPM/Spin class. Weight train 5 -6 days, 3 day split. I eat reasonably clean, but have stopped counting anything (it makes me overeat), and focussing on my appetite to regulate my meals. I don’t want to stop weight training, but I don’t want to gain more muscle! (I would actually like to lose some in my legs if I can). Any advice?

    • Tracy

      From researching the internet, I should stop cycling, stop weight training my legs and stop HIIT. I should run/elliptical 60 min + a day, and cut cals. Do you agree? What about HIIT on an elliptical, would that cause my legs to grow/maintain muscle.

  • shweta

    how to get abs without using any weights???

    • Coach Calorie

      We all have abs naturally. We just can’t all see them because of the layer of fat covering them. Abs are all diet.