How all the pieces fit together
In my opinion, without good nutrition and a solid game plan, much of the gruel and effort that people put into the gym is wasted. Much of their hard work and effort is being covered by body fat. This is not meant to knock people that train hard as hell in the gym or to shame people who are not below 10% body fat. However, I do think people should be more honest and upfront with themselves about what they want. This is especially true when one sets out to improve their health and fitness. I myself spent years spinning my wheels, putting in hours of hard work and not getting the results I wanted.
Now let me be clear; I do not have all the answers. I am just a guy who has gone through years of frustration, and spent way too many hours going through the misinformation and contradiction that is everywhere in the fitness industry to figure out how to achieve and maintain a lean and athletic physique without drugs, giving up my favorite foods, or spending hours doing mind numbing cardio
I like things simple. This is something you will most likely notice in my plan. Again, I have tried to cut out all of the unnecessary and collected everything you will likely need to achieve your goals (whatever they may be) in one simple, easy to follow plan that you can access anywhere in the world from your phone.
How do we do this?
KEY CONCEPT 1: Calories are king
Most people that diet will struggle and torture themselves by eating “healthy food” yet still struggle to lose weight. While cleaning up your diet (whatever that means to you) is something I obviously encourage; it fails to hit the mark on the most important concept when it comes to losing weight.
In order to better understand this I'll give a brief run down on why and how your body works. See, your body runs off of energy. We call this energy calories. 1 calorie is equivalent to the amount of energy it takes to raise water 1 degree. You get calories from all 4 food groups. Proteins, Fats, Carbs, and Alcohol. Protein and Carbs have 4 calories per gram, Fat has 9, and Alcohol has 7. Your body naturally burns energy (calories) throughout the day in order to maintain its processes plus power the work you perform throughout the day (and even as you sleep). If you consume more calories than your body burns it will be stored as body fat for times of caloric scarcity.
But everyone's body uses a different number of calories, and needs a different amount of key nutrients in order for you to be able to reach your fitness goals.
What we do is teach you how to track your calories and macros, and give you macro split recommendations based off the information you give us.
All of this is delivered on your phone and works with myfitnesspal to make things super easy.
But first I need to know...
What are your goals? People diet for many different reasons.
Do you just want to lose weight?
Do you want to have more energy and feel better throughout the day?
Do you want to improve your health so you can lead a longer healthier life?
It’s probably a combination of the 3 to be honest. And that’s fine. Let's discuss.
Disclaimer: I am not a dietitian I am a certified personal trainer. This information is meant to inform and share general nutritional need and guidelines approved by the FDA.
This program focuses on making that fact your best friend instead of your enemy by losing weight while feeling fully satisfied and eating highly nutritious food with JUST 2 key concepts.
Now that we have a better understanding of the underlying functionality of the human body, losing weight can become much more simple. We could even see that fat loss actually abides by the 1st law of thermodynamics. Matter can neither be created nor destroyed, TO LOOSE WEIGHT YOU MUST CONSUME LESS CALORIES THAN YOUR BODY BURNS. WHAT FOODS YOU EAT ARE SECONDARY. You may be thinking "does this mean that i can eat junk food and still lose weight?" Yes, you can. As long as you eat less calories than you burn! However, protein shakes and Oreo’s are much less filling than chicken and broccoli. They are also high fat. This means that 2 Oreo's would be roughly equivalent to one chicken breast. Which one would do you think would keep you fuller longer? There’s a reason overeating has only become such a widespread problem in the last few decades. The introduction of highly processed foods that are low in nutrients and high in empty calories are part of the problem. But education is foremost, so remember if you eat more calories than your body uses it will be stored as fat and if you eat less your body will use your body fat stores to fill the gap.
So, just how many calories should you eat to lose weight?
The number of calories you burn on a given day or on average is based on your height, weight, lean body/muscle mass, activity level, and probably another 100 things but those are the most important. There are a ton of free calculators online to help you get close to this number, they may never be perfect, but they are certainly a good place to start. Just try and
be as honest with yourself as you can while you fill it out, you’ll only be cheating yourself if you’re dishonest with yourself. I have included a free calculator below.
If you want to lose weight I’d recommend you start with eating 500 calories less than you burn everyday. 3500 calories = 1 lb of body fat. So 500 calories a day for 7 days a week is 3500 calories. Which means you lose about a pound a week. You can be more aggressive in your diet if you want to lose more weight more quickly or have a lot of fat to lose. But, I would recommend to not go below 10 calories per pound of goal body weight and definitely don’t keep your calories this low for extended periods of time as this will negatively impact your mood, hormones, and ability to stick to a sustainable diet long term.
If you are someone who wants to gain weight I would still recommend you be aware of roughly how many calories you are eating and to avoid “dirty bulking” also known as eating everything in sight as this will lead to unnecessary fat gain and take you further from the way you want to look. The idea behind this is that the more food you eat the more muscle you will gain as long as you workout. However, this is just not true. Actually, the amount of muscle you can build in a given time doesn’t increase with how much you're eating. In fact, hypothetically, if you took two people that were identical in terms of genetics, experience in the gym, training program, and intensity/consistency and one was eating 1000 calories more than their body burns and the other was eating in a caloric surplus of 200-300 calories a day they would both gain the same amount of muscle. The only difference is the one that ate 1000 calories more everyday is going to have to cut again to get rid of all the excess fat they gained. So for people that want to gain weight I’d recommend eating 200-300 calories more than you burn in a day. Monitor your weight and maintain stable caloric intake over time, if you are still not gaining weight, bump up your calories in 100-200 calorie increments and check back in about 2 weeks.
Ok now that you have an understanding of how calories work, let’s discuss how those calories break up into macros. Again, we have 3 basic macro nutrients; protein, fats, and carbs. While understanding calories is essential, understanding macros will help you to understand your body better and begin using that understanding to be deliberate in fueling your health and progress. This is because once you are educated you are able to understand how the distribution of your macros, based on how our digestive and other body systems actually operate, affect you on a more experiential level. This gives YOU control over your diet and essentially puts you in the driver seat.
So many diets have surfaced in the recent years, and the only thing they really have in common is that they claim that their diet is “right” or “the best” and other diets are “bad” or “wrong”. They demonize fats, carbs, or both, and cut your calories way down. All of us want the results as fast as possible, so it makes sense that we're drawn to these types of approaches. But most people never reach their goal because the program they're on is so restrictive and brutal that they can not maintain it long term. This vicious cycle can continue week after week until you’re fed up, and stop trying. It’s a really tough spot, and trust me i’ve been there. While getting results fast is great, and really makes us feel motivated while were torturing ourselves, what’s the point if we never get there?
As someone who has tried most of these diets at some point, let me tell you, a balanced approach is much better. It may seem slower but it is 100% more likely to get you there.The fact of the matter is your body continues to consume calories and store fat even after you kill yourself on the next 30 day challenge or decide to stop eating carbs "for good" this time. People want a quick fix so they can go back to how they were living before, because they don’t actually want to make lasting changes. They dont want to change their lifestyle. Unfortunately, consistency is the only way to reach those goals you've been struggling for all this time. I like to think about it this way; I had a lifestyle of constantly changing my diet and being unhappy with my body but I traded that lifestyle for one where fitness and health come naturally and easily. That lifestyle is the core of what I want to teach with this program.
So, if you want some idea’s on how to make it easy and satisfying to break down your macros for success in the gym, the way you look, your hormonal and metabolic health, and life long longevity, if you want fitness and health to become second nature so you can stop worrying and start focusing on the important things in life, then you’ve come to the right place.
The Protein Myth
Now let’s take a second to talk about protein. Like I said earlier, protein is one of the 3 macro nutrients (4 if you want to count alcohol). There is plenty of myth and dogma surrounding the quantity of each macro to consume, some diets even going so far as to cut one of them extremely, if not completely. However, they all serve important functions and there are very compelling reasons to have each of them in your diet.
With that said, protein specifically has been commercialized and idealized by the body building industry so much that accurate information can be hard to find. Many body building guru’s eat well over 200 grams of protein a day. This seems unrealistic and unnecessary according to my own research and experience. (Not to mention eating that much protein every day is BORING and frankly difficult.)
Most people get intimidated by the protein amounts they are told to eat on certain programs, they may be able to choke it down for a few days, but I find that it ultimately leads to people cheating, or fluctuating, and eventually quitting. The real kicker? That much protein isn’t even necessary to build muscle and in fact may actually be detrimental to your health (and your waist). This is because you’ll be forced to eat less fats and less carbs to stay within your calories. (I go over why you want fats and carbs in the next section)
Scientific studies have been done to test protein consumption and its effect on performance and muscle growth in athletes. You most certainly can go higher in protein but it would only really be beneficial in times where your calories are lower. For instance, if you were trying to drop body fat and you wanted to be extra careful to preserve muscle you would aim for the higher ratio of protein. More protein is also a good idea if you’re feeling hungry on a daily basis (it’s the most satiating macro nutrient) and you want to feel more satisfied for longer when cutting.
With that said, a study was done to determine the amount of protein needed for high frequency/intensity athletes to maximize performance and minimize lean mass loss and the study concluded a range of 0.825-1g per lbs of LEAN body weight to be ideal. So whatever your goal body weight is aim for that number X 0.8-1g of protein for your daily protein goal. While most people do tend to eat too much protein, I will also say there are important reasons that you need enough protein in your diet and I hope all the vegetarians and vegans out there find ways to get a minimum 40-60 grams a day.
As a side note after experimenting with these lower protein numbers on myself, and seen no negative affects, and the whole protein myth was busted for me, I’ve experimented with going even lower like 0.7 g per lean body mass on certain days and haven’t observed much of a difference.
Study on protein needs: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22150425
Fats & Carbs
Like I said earlier, most fitness programs neglect the importance of fats and carbs. Fats and carbs play so many important roles in our body.
Carbs play an integral role in the healthy balance of our hormones, particularly those involving stress, satiety, energy, and the anabolic process of the anabolic-catabolic cycle.
Fats particularly affect the health of our sexual hormones as fat and cholesterol play a key role in the production of testosterone. This has a lot more to do with your overall health as a human than our society leads us to believe. Fats also are important for digestion, your skin hair and nails, brain health (our brain is primarily fat), and keeping you full after you’ve eaten.
So which is more important?
Well they’re both important, but understanding some benefits and drawbacks of eating more or less of either nutrient is definitely helpful and will make you better at tweeking your own diet to your specifications.
Carbs are the most anabolic of all the macros and the least satiating macro, this means for guys that struggle to gain weight eating more carbs may make eating more calories and putting on size easier.
Fats are very satisfying and keep you full for a long time. If you’re someone who is always hungry and struggles when eating lower calories then I would experiment with including more fat in your diet.
How your macros fit together
Now that we better understand what your actual protein needs are and the important role fats and carbs play, lets talk about applying this to our lifestyle. The easiest way that I have found to incorporate this is by focusing on hitting two things; my protein number and the right amount of calories. If those 2 are solid the amount of fats and carbs you are eating will begin to fall at a naturally sufficient amount. Keeping the approach simple and giving yourself room for error will lead to consistently being able to stick to the diet. And if you want to track these macros more diligently it certainly wouldn't hurt.
Again, the most important thing is finding a program that YOU can STICK too.
While understanding calories and how your body works is incredibly important, once you do don’t be afraid to experiment and find a way for you to enjoy your calories the most. Don’t worry about meal timing, this has been completely overblown by the supplement industry and frankly unnecessary. So if you want to eat 1 meal a day or 10 that’s completely fine. I’ve found it’s easiest for me when I fast through the morning and have 1-2 big meals because this allows me to have large, satisfying meals without going over my calories.
KEY CONCEPT 2: Focusing on wholesome foods
A lot of confusion and over-complication has surfaced in recent years around the food we eat. A great basic rule of thumb is to think about how your food has been processed before it reaches you. For example, something like an Oreo has been through tons of processing. Each chocolate cookie is made of enriched, processed flour which has been stamped into shape, the icing in the middle is made of enriched sugars, and each part has to have added preservatives to handle packaging and shipping.
Think about what and how our ancestors have been eating and you’ll get close to a diet that is well rounded, practical, and nutritious. What you’re really missing out on with the more processed food is micro nutrients(vitamins and minerals), fiber, enzymes, probiotics, and healthy bacteria only found in raw food. The more processed a food is, the less nutritional
value we will receive in the end. Following this basic rule will help keep you more satisfied while giving your body the nutrients it needs to help you run at maximum efficiency.
What about Dairy?
Dairy is a food group that has been changed so much with genetic modification, poor feed, poor treatment, high stress, added hormones, and pasteurization in the past few decades. So it is not surprising that there are so many arguments against this food group. However, I would like to say that the argument that humans shouldn’t consume diary because it is "unnatural" is a weak argument. Dairy has been a source of nourishment for humans for centuries, particularly for those people that were unable or unwilling to consume other animal products. Dairy and its many forms have been used by many people to consume the necessary fat and protein needed for optimal human functioning.
Having said this, I will occasionally include some raw cheese or high quality butter into my diet to get the benefits of dairy if eating meat is inconvenient or boring. Also because cheese is just awesome. The bottom line; find what works for you but keep an open mind with dairy.
Staples of the diet
You may be asking "So what food should I be eating"?
The staples of my diet and the principles behind why I eat these foods are simple.
Lots of vegetables for fiber and nutrients, high quality, hormone-free meats for protein, potatoes and rice for carbs, and a healthy dose of fruits