DIETING 101: STRUCTURING NUTRITION

dieting 101

Perfectly prepared by The Uncaged Animal.

Diet, diet, diet!! Good old dieting. If you’re like the majority of people who get into this wonderfully addictive (sometimes borderline obsessive) thing called fitness, you’ll know doubt already be aware of the importance of nutrition and how eating appropriately plays into the ultimate outcome of your health and physique.

So today ladies and gents, we’re going to break down and systematically cover the fundamentals of setting up the eating portion of your fitness plan, and getting you on track to blasting through your goals like no tomorrow.

Step 1: Set the appropriate energy balance (caloric intake) for your goal

Motor vehicles run on petrol/ diesel, similarly the body runs on energy. Calories are simply energy matter. When you overfill a bucket with water it spills over.

Similarly when you overeat, or otherwise take in more energy than the body requires to maintain your current body weight, guess what you gain weight. Do the opposite and you lose weight.

Pretty straightforward, right?

Only there’s more to it than that.

Whether your aim is to build lean tissue, lose body fat or both, its critical to fuel the body with enough energy so that it has the necessary reserves to function optimimally. The knock off effect being, you get to your goal in the fastest, most efficient way possible.

Start by figuring out your unique maintenance calories.

Maintenance intake = the number of calories it takes for your body to sustain your current bodyweight on a daily basis.

You can use an online calorie calculator to get an idea.

For Fat loss:

If you want to lose “body fat” not “weight” begin by reducing your caloric intake gradually by about 250 cals the first week of the diet, the following week go down again by another 250. The idea is to ease the body into the diet, that way you don’t become subject to wild caloric swings and fall of the wagon.

Aim to go no lower than 500 calories below maintenance. Too drastic a deficit will give way to eventual stalling out of fat loss and increase the likelihood of uncontrollable cravings and ultimately binges.

For muscle growth:

Before you go any further, ask yourself this!!

Are you trying to gain weight or are you focused on sculpting your body?

Here’s the deal.

You don’t need a massive surplus of calories to grow a few lbs of extra, dry, lean muscle tissue. A small surplus of 250-500 cals over maintenance is plenty to trigger growth, combined with an appropriate training regiment that focuses on stimulating the muscles and gradually increasing overall strength.

You can eat 1000-2000 cals over your body’s daily requirements, but unless you’re extremely active and burning energy all the time, all you’re going to do is lay down plenty of new fat mass in relation to the small amount of muscle gained.

The body simply can’t build and recover faster beyond a certain capacity, and no amount of additional calories or protein will change that fact. There’s simply no way the body can recover from training and the stress of day to day activities and build 10lbs. of pure muscle in 4 weeks.

The exception to this is in the event an individual is using exogenous hormones, which greatly enhances the body’s recuperative abilities and ability to put on muscle mass faster than a natural pace. But even so, these hormones can provide only so much of an additional response.

If the aim is to increase muscle mass, whilst avoiding unsightly, not to mention counterproductive fat gain, shoot for roughly a 0.5-1lb-bodyweight increase per week max. No more. Any additional bodyweight will likely be adipose (fat tissue).

That translates to approximately 1-2lbs of lean, dry muscle tissue a month and also covers some of the additional fluid and glycogen stored in the muscles, which also counts towards lean size.

Step 2: Dial in your macros

High carb, low carb, high fat, moderate protein etc. You can essentially utilize any macro breakdown you want. Bear in mind however, it has to help you get to your desired outcome. If it doesn’t aid you in achieving your goals, it’s not the right breakdown for you and you need to make some adjustments.

The reality of the situation is you’ve got to be prepared to experiment with your body and unique metabolism.

Some people do well on low carb, higher fat diets, whilst others do better with more carbs and lower fats.

I recommend playing around with the different macros, adjusting carbs and fats to see how your body responds to the food sources you feed it.

If you eat a carb heavy meal and you begin to feel lethargic, switch to a fat and protein based meal and assesses your energy levels.

REMEMBER TO LISTEN TO YOUR BODY. It will constantly give you feedback, but you’ve got to be willing to listen.

Protein:

The building blocks that comprises the majority of skeletal muscle tissue (by dry weight). The only macronutrient that is capable of repairing & building muscle, skin, hair and nails.

The general consensus is to eat roughly 1 gram of protein per pound (lb) of bodyweight. I think it’s a nice round number and easy to generalize, so I stick with it since I’m so used to it. You could certainly get in less, as low as 0.8 grams and still build muscle, but a higher protein intake seems to improve satiety, which is always a plus on a fat loss plan and isn’t bad for muscle growth either.

These days however, I don’t really track it all that much. I have a pretty thorough idea of the amount of protein I take in from food, so I don’t stress over it.

Initially it’s a good idea to track everything, until you get a firm grasp on the macro breakdowns of your meals and can pretty much eyeball them without much difficulty.

Carbs:

Carbohydrate (Carbon+ water) hence the word carbo-hydrate. Contrary to popular belief I don’t personally think carbs work best as an energy source per say. (At least for me anyway).

That said, a prime benefit of carbs is their ability to spare protein, thus allowing it to do its intended job of repairing muscles and other cells, while the body uses the glucose (breakdown of carbs into sugars) from the carbs to fuel the brain and muscles. That’s primarily the reason blood sugar tends to drop during and after intense exercise.

Carbs do an excellent job of bringing water into muscle cells, helping the body achieve a full, hard look. This is where people get the idea that carbs build muscle. They don’t. Only protein can build muscle.

Carbs push water and increase glycogen stores in the muscles, leading to a fuller, bigger looking muscle. (Think of it like filling a balloon with air). The insulin response they generate also helps to shuttle protein and nutrients into the muscle cells. (For the sake of simplicity and space we’ll delve into that in future).

The problem with carbs is people don’t know how to customize and match their carb intake to their unique body structure and metabolism.

They fall into one of two camps. Either they eat too many carbs, over fill their glycogen stores in the muscles and liver, resulting in a soft (lacking hardness & definition) & bloated look.

On the flipside there are those who go super low carb (no more than 30grams a day) for extended periods of time, drastically depleting all the body’s glycogen stores & excreting massive amounts of water in the process, leading to a dry and conditioned (ideal), but much flatter, (lacking fullness and size) depleted, undersized and stringy look. (This in combination with overemphasis on long, drawn out sessions of cardio and training for far too long in a depleted state only escalate the situation).

Getting the “right” amount of carbs for your body to look and perform it’s best is largely an individual process and no damn generic formula or calculation can give you the correct amount.

YOU’VE GOT TO DO SOME ACTUAL FIGURING OUT. GRAB A PEN AND PAPER OR A PULLUP THE NOTES APP IF YOU HAVE AN IPHONE AND WRITE DOWN THE FOLLOWING:

  • Jot down the quantities of food and the impact it has on your body.
  • How does it make you feel after eating it?
  • How does it affect the look of your body?

The reality of the situation is this.

Carb intake will vary depending on your overall activity level, the intensity of your training and how insulin sensitive your body is.

There’s no clear-cut ratio or magic number of carbs that’ll be suitable for everybody.

If you’re an insanely active individual, engaging in some form of physical activity virtually everyday a general rule of thumb is to consume 1-2 grams of carbs for every lb of bodyweight. Some (rare) people can get away with more, but many will get by fine on less.

I’ve gone as low as 30 grams a day and it takes some getting used to. Usually if implementing more fat, I’ll scale carbs back to around 0.5-0.6 grams per lb of bodyweight. (Which is a nice sweet spot for me).

I would experiment by pulling carbs out for a period of at least two weeks and gradually re-introduce them. (Remember to increase fat intake slightly to compensate for the lake of energy coming from carbs if you go this route, otherwise you’ll experience a lot of hunger, cravings and just generally feel like crap).

If you carry plenty of body fat, which is essentially stored energy, lowering your carb intake is one effective means of reducing caloric intake, which overall results in fat loss. (One of the biggest reasons for this is that a great many folks are just prone to over eating carbs. Also it doesn’t help that most of the typical junk that people tend to overeat are a combination of carbs and fats, or mainly carbs).

However, the buck doesn’t stop there. It would be criminal not to mention the certain hormonal and metabolic responses that can occur from a reduction in carbs. (This is a more complex topic, that we’ll save that for another post).

Fats:

Good old fats. Although people are coming around to the realization that the consumption of dietary fats are not the root cause of obesity, heart disease and other associated health problems, they still receive negative coverage.

Fats actually play a vital role in the production of hormones like “the big daddy” testosterone, which is pretty damn important when it comes to building muscle (among other things).

Fat is also a necessity when it comes to absorbing fat-soluble vitamins like A, D, K and E, which is important for overall health and wellbeing.

They also make foods taste better. PERIOD. If you’ve ever been on a low fat diet for a period of time, the damn pesky feeling of being hungry and not satiated all the time is just problematic, especially when dieting to lose body fat and overall energy intake is limited, coupled with the fact that most individuals don’t have the ability to endure the hunger. It’s a potentially detrimental situation.

Although it’s a good idea to keep some fats in the diet, it’s equally critical not to get too carried away. Going overboard on fats, even in the absence of carbs can attribute to weight gain and ultimately not getting quite as lean as you’re hoping.

Be mind full of the fact that fats, calorically speaking, are the densest of the macronutrients, coming in at 9 cals per gram. Whereas, protein and carbs come in at 4 cals per gram each.

Generally speaking, if you go the higher carb route it’s a good idea to keep fats around roughly 20-30% of your caloric intake. If  dropping the carbs in favor of the higher fat route about 50-60%.

Personally, if I’m eating more carbs, I drop my fat intake to around 0.6 grams per lb of bodyweight. If utilising the higher fat approach, I go up as high as 1.5 grams.

This is simply what works well with my physiology.

Again you’ll have to experiment with the ratios and tailor them to your body.

DO THE DAMN WORK. Invest in yourself and don’t expect anybody to give you all the answers because they simply can’t. They’re not you. Nobody knows exactly how your body reacts to certain foods and calorie/macro breakdowns any better than you.

Step 3: Select your preferred meal frequency

All right, lastly you’ll want to structure the number of meals you’ll be aiming to meet each day to get in the appropriate nutritional content and energy.

People like to slam bodybuilders and their eating habits, but hey it works for them. It meets their needs. If you’re one of those individuals that actually enjoys eating smaller portions, plus it works for and sustains you, who should dictate and tell you it’s no good for you and doesn’t work?

Ultimately, you’ve got to put in some time, effort and actually experiment and try different things until you find what functions well for you.

My Personal eating arrangement

Intermittent fasting is an incredibly useful and effective tool for reaching and maintaining a low body fat. (Case in point, see my picture to the side).

the uncaged animal

However, let’s be frank here. It’s not magical and it’s certainly not the only way to build muscle or achieve fat loss.

I’ve personally been doing a variation of IF, pretty much daily for the last 5 years because I enjoy going periods through the day on an empty stomach. I feel good, have clarity and am more in tune with my body.

For those curious, I usually eat 3 (fairly large) meals a day, sometimes 2, depending on my preference & schedule. I aim to fast around 16-18 hrs, but these days I really don’t rigidly concern myself with sticking to a set – eating window anymore. My body naturally likes to go longer without food and so I do what comes natural to me.

Besides, I thoroughly enjoy the feeling of sharp, laser like focus and clarity I get during the earlier part of the day, as a result of not having anything sitting in my stomach.

I made the switch from tracking calories and macros, to finally eye balling my food. I’ve got a pretty good idea of what I’m taking in nutritionally, from the vast amount of time I’ve invested prior into identifying and tracking my unique nutritional requirements. (Which will vary, depending on my personal goals). I usually stick with the same foods consistently, and that keeps things simpler. But make no mistake; I still have a very good gauge of what I’m eating.

To me, this is what flexible dieting really is about (Or should be anyway). Having control and not being restricted or limited by meal timings, frequency and being able to roughly know just how much quality, nutritionally dense foods you’re consuming.

Eating a bunch of crap for the sake of it, doesn’t factor into my lifestyle. You should be able to fit your eating preference to your lifestyle, rather than the other way around.

A word on “flexible Dieting” and IIFYM (If it fits your macros)

Can you consume some junk food, sure. In all honesty though, a lot of people have turned it into a full-blown license indulge in all manner of shitty foods just for the sake of satisfying their taste buds.

If you’re able to get in sufficient macro (proteins, carbs, fats) & micro (vitamins and minerals) nutrients, then by all means go for it. As long as you’ve got your energy balance dialed in and you’re not going overboard it’s perfectly fine to indulge a little.

Do you need to indulge and eat your favourite junk meals?

Absolutely not.

Lets be clear.

Just because you can eat whatever you want and get away with it, doesn’t mean you need to. There are no magical physique benefits or nutritional properties in those foods that make losing fat or building muscle any more advantageous than eating nutritionally dense, whole foods.

The consumption of these “treat” foods is more of a mental, psychological and emotional want rather than a necessity.

As part of a smart eating set-up they won’t really hinder your gains, but they don’t really contribute a whole lot either.

So have them if you want, fully content with the knowledge that as long as your energy balance and macros + micros are where they need to be, you’re not doing any real damage.

In closing, if you break everything down the way I’ve just done above, eating appropriately for your physique/fitness goals really isn’t quite as daunting as it initially seems.

When you get back to the roots of fitness, bodybuilding or virtually anything relating to physical culture, health was of primary importance.

At its heart, fitness really is firmly based on making lifestyle choices that greatly improve and promote the state of health.

This article has lasted much longer than originally intended, but then again there was a lot to cover.

Train intensely, eat intelligently & watch the magic unfold.

HOW TO GET & STAY LEAN ON AN ERRATIC SCHEDULE

Meals

Ah… it’s nearing that time of year again. Out go the sweat pants and jumpers, in come the shorts and tank tops. Beach season, pool parties and barbeques. Yep, summer’s nearly underway.

Over the past three months, I’ve been busy filming a short film. (Unrelated subject matter). Without going into too much detail, It consumed virtually all my time. There’s a lot of work that goes into it, especially when you’re the writer, director, director of photography (camera and lighting) and editor all rolled in one, and on a tight schedule.

Much as it pains me to type this… training just wasn’t top priority. Unfortunately it had to take a backseat.

Many will shudder at the thought of reducing their training frequency and volume, fearing the loss of their gains.

A drop frequency and volume, alone won’t necessarily result in massive drops and losses, providing adequate stimulus and intensity is maintained.

I was literally training 1-2 (that’s 2 hours a week) times a week hitting heavy, basic movements. My primary objective as always, to progressively increase strength. And you can still get stronger while training only 1-2 times a week.

Since I regularly adhere to a 3 day a week lifting regime, it wasn’t mentally problematic.

As we’re all aware, nutrition is the other part of the equation. I used the same strategy I implemented during my time in Spain at the end of 2014. I was busy traveling, sightseeing and exploring and also rarely saw the inside of a gym.

I was pretty active on a daily basis. I’d actually kick each day off with varying degrees of calisthenics movements and due to the nature of my trip, I ended up walking places an awful lot. (I even found a nice steep hill and set of steps to run up and down like a maniac).

Now, I’ve been implementing some form of intermittent fasting daily over the last 4 years. So I’m pretty accustomed to going without food for stretches of time. So this made staying lean more manageable.

My approach is as follows:

Meal 1: 1-3pm

Protein, fats & greens (Small meal)

Example: Chicken breast & broccoli w/ coconut oil

Meal 2: 5-7pm

Protein, fats & greens (moderate meal)

Example: Salmon, green beans & salad w/ ½ avocado

Meal 3: 10-11pm

Protein, carbs & fats (Largest meal)

Example: Turkey & potatoes + (optional Sweet treat)

I didn’t always adhere to the schedule allotted above and I didn’t always eat 3 meals. I rotated the food choices frequently in accordance with personal preference and availability.

The one thing I did consistently was eat in a manner that enabled me to maintain sufficient nutrient uptake and simply tweaked and adjusted meals based on feeling and look. If I felt really light, I’d eat a little more, usually in the form of carbs. If I felt stuffed and uncomfortable, I’d cut back and reduce the total food volume. The idea is to find what works for your body.

The most important consideration when dieting to maintain or trim down is identifying a satisfying way to eat. Hunger is the bane of fat loss, because most don’t have the ability to tolerate it. If you fill up on foods that satisfy you and keep you tied over, that’ll alleviate the unpleasantness that usually accompanies hunger. (Why make things unnecessarily hard on yourself?).

Now, diet is specific. It varies from individual to individual. You can’t take one approach and deem it appropriate for everybody.

Nothing was or is set in stone. The arrangement and layout is merely a sample, to demonstrate the manner of eating I used. (In fact I’m still eating this way today, because I enjoy it and it works for me).

The key is to experiment with different foods and ways of eating to find what works for your unique structure, metabolism and biochemistry.

That’s the art and science behind it. What works for you won’t necessarily work for me and vice versa.

This eating arrangement affords itself well to fat loss, due to the simple fact that it’s not heavily packed, calorically speaking. In fact it’s damn light.

But that’s not the point.

The real takeaway from the above is:

1) Whole foods take priority.

Real, solid, nutrient dense foods should comprise the bulk of you’re diet. Sure you can eat as much processed crap as you want and still “lose weight” if you’re eating below your body’s requirements. However, I’m willing to bet you want to preserve your health so you can keep on rocking the good life. If the majority of your nutrition comes from whole foods, you’ll be supplying your body with all the necessary macro and micronutrients, which in turn enable it to function and perform optimally.

I’m not against eating a little junk now and then, but junk tends to be less filling than nutritionally complete foods. As a result of this when the hunger demon strikes, you’re more likely to cave in and gobble all those goodies, setting yourself up for a perpetual nightmare. By all means have your cake and eat it, just be selective and mindful when you do it.

2) Eating modest earlier & larger later in the day

This ties in, and works well alongside fasting. I often break the fast with a lighter meal, gradually increasing the calorie intake as the day wages on.

During late evening or night I switch gears and consume the bulk of my calories. I prefer eating this way. It helps keep me satisfied and aids sleep at night. From a hormonal standpoint it makes sense. Eating carbs releases serotonin (feel good factor) in the brain, which in turn helps you wind down. From an anecdotal perspective, this method helps me stay on track and avoid over eating. I notice when I eat carb dense meals earlier in the day, I tend to get hungry much sooner than intended.

3) Intermittent fasting is just a tool

Fasting isn’t magic. It’s an effective way of eating, that when correctly implemented should allow you greater liberty in dropping fat & building muscle. It should free up your time and day. People make the mistake of getting too caught up with the little details, like sticking to an eating window. If they happen to go over that window by a few minutes or couldn’t eat at a specified time they freak out and stress over it.  That completely defeats the purpose. You don’t have to be so damn rigid about eating all your food in some arbitrary 8hr window.

These days I don’t cling rigidly to an “eating window.” I just like pushing my first meal further into the day and allowing roughly 3.5 – 4hrs gaps in-between for digestion. The main thing is to eat appropriately for your goals. Always keep your goals in mind.

The info presented here is merely in place to act as an example. It’s my method and it works for me.

I’ve come to realise training and eating are unique processes, and therefore needs be taken on an individual basis. Sure, you can learn the basic principles, but self-experimentation and implementation is what it really boils down to.

EXPERIMENT, IMPLEMENT & ENJOY…FIND WHAT WORKS FOR YOU!!

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WARRIOR NUTRITION: EATING FOR THE WARRIOR PHYSIQUE PART 2

Warrior NutritionIn the last article we covered training to attain the warrior look. Today’s topic…. Nutrition.

Nutrition nowadays is one of the most highly debated and controversial subjects out there. Some people tend to identify with a particular “diet” or way of eating to the point that it becomes a religion/ideology of its own.

I don’t think extremes are healthy. (Especially in the mental sense). They cause unnecessary tension and are the reason for many pointless arguments.

I’ve tried numerous diets, tinkered with different macro/micronutrient ratios, played with, and cycled calorie intake, all of which finally enabled me to uncover and create the nutrition protocol that has served me well.

Personally, I don’t diet in the conventional sense.

Dieting, or at least most people’s connotation of the word conjures feelings of negativity and misery.

Screw starving yourself to death in an attempt to look great. The truth is you don’t need to be extremely restrictive with your food intake.

Creating a modest 400-500 calorie deficit daily is your best bet when the goal is to lose body fat, as opposed to dropping down to 1000 calories a day.

That said, just because I don’t “diet” in the conventional sense of the word, that doesn’t mean I don’t monitor the food that goes down the hatch. I do. However, I just don’t see what I do as dieting.

While there’s a great deal of variation in regards to meal set-up, frequency, calorie breakdown etc. The basic principle remains fairly consistent.

On the simplest level, if you want to look great, experience amazing energy, vibrancy and health, whole, natural, minimally processed foods should make up the bulk of your nutrition plan.

Eating like a warrior involves eating predominately from the land itself. Eating minimally if not completely unprocessed foods the majority of the time.

That means lean proteins, vegetables and whole fruits should be staples in your diet, with starches like rice and potatoes added in to supply glucose to fuel demanding activities such as intense training.

These are staples in my “diet” and the way I eat 90% of the time. The other 10% I allow myself room to fit in some “junk” foods. Although by sticking to the outline listed above, I pretty much steer clear of any cravings.

I find these foods are typically more filling than the processed garbage that is so prevalent in todays society.

This is the basis of “warrior nutrition.”

Eating in this manner combined with an intermittent fasting set up and the right training protocol will cause your body to lean out and develop warrior proportion and strength.

This is just a basic, general template.

The following are my go to food choices. I don’t buy them all at the same time (particularly the protein sources). I just rotate them when I want to spice things up and add some diversity to it.

It’s pretty simple and basic, but damn does it get the job done and I feel great eating this way.

Proteins

  • Chicken (breast, thighs and drumsticks)
  • Lamb (mince and chops)
  • Eggs (Whole)
  • Tuna
  • Salmon
  • Venison
  • Turkey
  • Cottage cheese

Carbohydrates

  • Rice (white)
  • Yams
  • Sweet potato (White as well as red varieties)
  • White potato (Jersey royals, new potatoes and russet potatoes)
  • Vegetables Mainly green beans, broccoli, carrots, spinach and kale)
  • Fruit (Mainly berries, pears and bananas)

Note: Although I’ve included vegetables under carbs, they only contain trace amounts that are insignificant and not worth the hassle counting.

Fats

  • Butter
  • Olive oil
  • Avocado
  • Coconut oil
  • Cashews, walnuts, pecans (small handful)

 That’s pretty much the bulk of my diet. I do add certain spices and condiments to add and enhance flavor, but this is the key component.

It looks fairly limited, because it is. I like sticking to foods that enable me to stick to my diet.

Occasionally I’ll fit in treats here and there because I believe in a balanced approach, but I never deviate from the backbone of my nutrition approach.

Now, I do include intermittent fasting as part of my nutrition strategy mainly because it frees up time (I don’t like to cook and clean all day). It also allows me to eat bigger meals as opposed to snaking on small meals throughout the day.

I use a leangains style approach to fasting. I fast for 16hrs a day and have an 8hr-eating window.

Though I’m more relaxed about the window. I don’t worry about going over it. Sometimes life gets in the way and I end up going past the eating window.

The important thing with intermittent fasting is not to get caught up with the eating window itself. You’ll still want to push your breakfast to later in the day, around about lunchtime. (Don’t be to damn rigid though. The whole point of fasting is to break away from nutritional dogma).

The number one priority is hitting your macronutrient and calorie intake. The eating window itself is secondary.

A typical day

1-1:30pm: Meal 1

4:30-5pm: Meal 2

8-9pm: Meal 3

Addressing psychological factors behind dieting

Most people lack the drive and conviction to stick to a nutrition plan. I don’t blame them.

When you’re told you have to give up certain foods for good, it just makes the whole process miserable which is exactly what you don’t want your experience to be like.

The whole purpose of your nutrition plan should be to help you reach your goal in the most enjoyable and rewarding way possible.

1) Stop deriving and associating happiness/pleasure with food.

Stop associating pleasure and happiness with food. Let go of your emotional connection and attachment to food. Food is fuel. It’s nourishment. Nothing more.

Most of the food related issues such as obesity and comfort eating all stem from associating food with pleasure and giving food power over your life.

If getting lean, dropping fat and developing dense muscle is your goal, all you need to do is eat enough to sustain yourself while progressively getting stronger in the gym. That’s really all there is to it.

Happiness and contentment has to come from you. Specifically being content and present. Accept the moment as it is and just roll with it.

2) Become a conscious eater.

When you sit down to eat, focus solely on the food you’re about to consume. Put the phone away, don’t stare at the tv or laptop, or read a book/magazine. Just concentrate on the food in front of you. These things are all distractions and the last thing you want to do is be distracted.

People that pay attention to their food and chew each morsel thoroughly, focusing on the flavor and texture tend to find it easier to not only eat less food overall, but also reach satiety quicker than those who are preoccupied with the aforementioned distractions. (This is purely an observation on my part. I’ve got no scientific studies to back it up. It’s my own anecdotal evidence).

3) Give yourself permission to include foods you like.

A bit of reverse psychology at work here. If you were told you could never have a certain food you liked again, for example chocolate. You probably wouldn’t be able to stick with your eating plan for very long. It’s damn frustrating and infuriating to be denied like that. Sooner or later you’d cave and eat a whole bunch of it.

It’s like telling someone not to press the red button, the individual will no doubt do it anyway to see what happens. The point is, people always want what they can’t have.

The simple way to avoid this predicament is to not put yourself in that position in the first place.

As long as you’re mindful of the quantity you’re consuming and it fits within your overall plan (macro and caloric breakdown) you can still lose body fat while including “bad foods.”

Funnily enough, when you allow yourself the choice to include “treats” into your nutrition plan, you’ll actually find yourself craving those foods less. It’s a weird feeling and something I’ve personally gone through.

Nowadays, sticking to my nutrition protocol isn’t difficult. I don’t deal with cravings or binges and I attribute these three simple, yet powerful pointers to helping me on that front.

Well, that about wraps up this article. There’s still more to cover on the nutrition front. Namely breaking down macronutrient and caloric intake. We’ll cover that in part 3. Subscribe now. You don’t want to miss out.

If you want to learn more, pick up a copy of WARRIOR 101. Everything is clearly detailed and broken down for you. You’re covered on both training and nutrition.

THE SECRETS OF A SUCCESIVE DIET

 

The taste of good nutrition.

The taste of good nutrition.

It’s a topic I haven’t gone into great detail on. That is until now!!

It seems people are always on a diet. They chop and change from one to another, nitpicking this and complaining about that.

Most people’s definition of the word is synonymous with starvation, cabbage soup with carrots and a whole bunch of other garbage perpetuated by nutrition “gurus.”

Diet is in essence is just what you shove down your throat daily, whether it’s twinkies and cake or chicken and rice.

While the former is all junk, the latter is more nutritious. Diet, at the end of the day is relative and comes down to personal preference and matter of opinion.

It goes by many names i.e “eating plan” or “nutrition.” “Diet” just sounds simple.

In this article, I’m going to first address some of the typical, nonsensical advice that’s floating around.

As you’re probably aware, if you’ve been into training and fitness for any length of time you’ll most likely have heard all the classic codes and conventions. (The internet is full of it).

1) Eat 5-6 small meals a day. It stokes your metabolism

Eating 5-6 small meals a day is a personal choice.

Can you lose fat, get ripped and build muscle doing it?

Absolutely.

To its credit, it can work. It gets you into the discipline of eating “healthier” and managing portions.  People have built better bodies following this method. (If it didn’t work it wouldn’t receive so much attention).

However, in a fast paced society like the one we’re all accustomed to, for a lot of people it just isn’t practical. You probably have tons of other things that you’d rather take care of, then to cook, eat and clean six times a day.

When you add up all the time that goes into that, unless you don’t have any other hobbies or interests, it hardly leaves time for you to do anything else.

As for the metabolism-stoking thing, that’s pretty much been debunked. It doesn’t matter whether you eat 3000 calories over 6 meals or 2-3. The results are going to be the same either way. You’re not going to lose more fat with one approach over the other, in an equal caloric and macro nutrient scenario.

The other problem with this approach is that it can create and lead to unnecessary psychological stress. Planning, preparing and watching the clock so you can tuck into your next meal.

The real issue here is, what’s practical, sustainable and suitable to you and your lifestyle.

If you can do it and find it enjoyable, satisfying and it fits your lifestyle. You know what to do.

That saying, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” is applicable in this instance.

2) You need 1.0 -2.5 grams of protein per pound (lb) of body weight

The simple reality is you could get by with about 0.8 and in some cases 0.6 grams of protein per lb.

I generally do stick with 1 gram, just as a rule. I’ve been doing it so long and I’m so darn used to it. I don’t see it changing anytime soon.

Some days I get less, some days more. I don’t really care about all the niggly details.

Could I get by on less and still build muscle?

Yep.

Do you need protein powder to build muscle?

No, it’s not an essential requirement. You can still build muscle without it. Half of them taste like crap, and are full of all kinds of nasty things. They can still help however, sort of like an icing on the cake, type thing.

You’ll hear some recommendations of 2.5 grams of protein per kg of bodyweight or 1.5 grams per lb of bodyweight. While that quantity of protein most likely won’t hurt you physically, it certainly might hurt your wallet.

If you can afford it and you’re seeing results, keep doing what you’re doing.

In truth, there’s a limit to the amount of muscle your body will be able to put on naturally. Constantly shoveling more protein down the ol’ pie hole isn’t going to work forever.

If it were that simple, we’d see a lot more freakishly muscular individuals roaming the streets like an army of hulks. (That’d be a sight).

3) You need to avoid carbs and fats if you want to get lean

This is nonsense. Seriously. Ditching the carbs can cause you to lose some fat, (more water weight though), but it’s not a sensible long-term solution.

When you cut carbs very low, (I’m talking below 100g daily) you’ll find your strength and energy take a plunge. Your muscles will most likely look flat due to glycogen (Carb energy stored in muscles and the liver) depletion.

If that didn’t hit the spot, to top it off, your sex drive will plummet, you’ll screw with your natural testosterone levels and you’ll just be a damn pain in the ass to be around.

I personally like carb cycling. For example, I’ve done three days low carb and on the fourth high carb. Currently, I eat lower carb during the day and eat the majority of my carbs at night. Both approaches work well for me and I like them. You’ve got to find what works for you and stick to it.

You’re probably well aware of the importance of fats, particularly unsaturated, poly-unsaturated and even good old saturated fats.

Should you go around consuming a whole jar of peanut butter everyday?

NO.

But you can and should still eat your egg yolks, fat from meats etc. Don’t sweat over the natural fats that come from real, whole, natural foods.

Fats are important in natural testosterone production, joint health and cushioning and even the health of your hair and skin.

Not to mention fats add to the satiety of foods, meaning you’ll be fuller for longer and less prone to excessive food binges, which can really lay on the lbs.

I’d say that makes them pretty damn important.

I’m not going to get into all the health talk on carbs and fats because that’d make for a whole article itself.

So is it worth eliminating them from your diet in the long run?

You be the judge.

This is just barely scratching the surface. There’s tons of useless guidelines and impractical advice out there concerning nutrition.

The solution for most people is simple. Start focusing on eating more natural, whole foods.

If you’re into fitness, you just take it a step further. Do a bit of math and calculate the amount of carbs, protein and fats you need, add some veggies into the mix and presto.

HUNGER AND RESOLVE

AWESOME ABS: PART 3- LOSING THE LARD

Tasty stuff

Tasty stuff.

The abs are made in the kitchen”, as the saying goes.

Time to get down to everyone’s favourite subject without sounding like a cookbook (being sarcastic!). Now if you want to get awesome abs, doing the exercises is all fine and dandy, but until you lose the lard, no amount of exercise is going to get the suckers to pop. You have to diet and eat properly. No getting around it!!

There are numerous diet plans and eating regimes out there for fat loss. But you demand effectiveness. Only the best will do. After all why waste time and effort doing something that isn’t giving you satisfactory results. (Chill. Everyone’s gone through it).

The two simple and effective methods that’ll get you shedding the lard and getting the awesome abs you deserve at a jaw dropping rate are:

  • Carb cycling
  • Intermittent fasting

Carb cycling

Sounds complicated? Huh, nonsense! It’s just alternating days of low and high carbs. (Not as complicated as it sounds, told you).

There are probably hundreds of ways to utilize this strategy, but the one that I’ve found the quickest for shedding the dough is, three days low carb, one day high carbs.  What the rest of the fitness community calls “carb re-feeds”. Call it what you will, the point is start implementing it and watch that lard turn hard.

You’re probably wondering well wise guy, what the hell do I eat on those low carb days?

Well maestro, I thought you’d never ask. Fuel up on protein, fats and greens (veg). Avoid starchy carbs like the plague on those low carb days.

As for the higher carb days, choice is yours. Eat what you want. You have the day to eat some starchy carbs. Don’t waste it. After all  it comes only once every three days.

Now some of you reading this will probably say, “I couldn’t do that, it sounds so hard.”

Save your groaning for someone that actually cares. I’ve personally used both these methods and the result speaks for itself.  Don’t tell me it can not be done.

For those moaners I’ve got a question. Do you really want to lose that fat and get awesome abs?

If you do, you’ve got to be prepared to work a little. You have to get a bit sweaty and put your guts into it. Many of you reading this series, have come this far and proved without a shadow of a doubt you’ve got the courage of tiger and are prepared to realise your goal.

Time for method two!! 

Intermittent fasting

I’ve covered this a little in previous article (A GUIDE TO DEVELOPING AN IRON WILL) but let’s recap. Eating all day to lose weight becomes a chore. I’m not saying you can’t lose fat doing it, but why make something so simple so complicated. In nature the prey graze and eat periodically while the hunters eat sporadically.

Simply eat 2-3 larger, more satisfying meals instead of 6-8 tiny ones.

Do you really want to live in your kitchen?

There are two methods of fasting I’ve used.

  • Leangains (Daily 16hrs fast with 8hrs eating window)
  • Eat Stop Eat (24hrs fast)

Personally, I’m currently using the leangains method.

Now if you’ve never used any of the above methods before, you can try them out as a singular method, alternatively you can use the very same method I outline below.

(Drum rolls).

All you have to do is combine the two above methods mentioned earlier.(Carb cycling with intermittent fasting).  It’s straightforward and  works well. Don’t mess around with it, keep it smooth, just stick with the steps I’ve given.

Tip: It’s probably easier to implement with the Leangains method than Eat Stop Eat.

To summarise, eat 2-3 larger meals in an 8hr eating window. Fast 16hrs a day, and eat low carb for three days, with one high carb day. That’s it. No screwing around.

Note: This isn’t a diet to follow forever. You can do the intermittent fasting as long as you want but just use low carbs until you’re as lean and mean as you want. Then go back to a diet you like. (Keep it healthy though).

There you have it folks. This 3 part series comes to a close.

SWEAT AND GUTS

Photo Credit: http:http://www.flickr.com/photos/kro-media/5820802416/