For the Japanese, new year is like Christmas – people gather with family and, of course, there are special foods eaten. Those green things in the image below are mochi, soft, gooey rice sweets, about the size of a large soup spoon, and every year a handful of people choke to death in front of their families after a failed attempt to swallow the whole thing.
In the same way that these poor souls literally bite off more than they can chew, so do many people with their approach to dieting each new year. Ramping up activity to a vast degree and cutting calories to a heavy level is a terrible way to go about sustainable weight loss, but mainstream media have people convinced that you have to suffer to lose weight. And even though our logical minds understand that slow and sustainable is probably best way to go about making permanent changes, the heart often tells us that faster is better – and there’s always an event that you need to look good for, that can be used as an excuse to rush, right?
Here’s an interview with a man that’s tried it all, my longest running client, John. His words and results are testament to the fact that while ‘consistency’, ‘moderation’ and ‘modest deficits’ may have an unsexy ring to them, the results aren’t. Continue reading
Cross your eyes, and imagine the pyramid above is one huge, layer cake and the little red blur at the top is a cherry.
Now, if the first four layers are made of mud, shit, snot and sawdust respectively, is that cherry going to make a difference to the taste? – Clearly not, yet this is how the supplement industry wants you to think about your nutrition.
Supplements can be broadly categorised by their physique, performance, or health benefits. How important they are depends on context, but in general, not very.
- Supplements can benefit a good nutrition plan, but they cannot make up for a poor one.
- Supplements are not needed to transform your physique and in many cases constitute an unnecessary expense.
Any article or advertisement that you come across which contradicts the above is likely aimed at your wallet. So, if you haven’t got the first four parts of the nutrition pyramid in place, please do so before reading any further, because no single supplement is going to have more impact on your diet than getting your diet right in the first place.
Age: 58, Weight: 167lbs -> 165lbs, Stomach: 33.9” -> 30.0”
DL 195lbs -> 335lbs, SQ 185lbg -> 225lbs, BP 155lbs -> 195lbs
Though it is very hard to identify and accept for yourself, there are some cases where it is necessary to take one step backwards before you can take two steps forward. Two common situations where this is true:
- A guy that wants abs but doesn’t have enough lean mass at the moment to look good when shredded. Solution: put on more muscle mass and accept a little additional fat gain first before cutting.
- Someone that has dieted too hard for too long but still wants to lose more fat. Solution: Diet break, possibly reverse dieting to build the metabolism back up before resuming the diet.
Shane was in the latter camp. He was headed for a severe rebound after following a ~500kCal/day diet, for too long, and without good reason. The problem was that he hadn’t experienced any real ill effects yet (or convinced himself as such), and my challenge was convincing him to change to a more moderate approach before this crash diet ended badly. Specifically, I had to convince him to not worry about the scale for the short-term while we brought his carb intake up.
No-one wants to hear that they need to take a step backwards first, but good coaches in this for the long term will put their integrity before making a sale (more on this at the end). I’ll let the story tell itself in interview format. Continue reading
So here you have it, that juicy post you’ve being waiting for. Without doubt this is has been the toughest article to write so far. It’s longer than I intended but I didn’t want to skimp on any of the details. I could have easily broken this off into four separate articles, but I figure it would make for a better reference tool this way. Just be warned that this isn’t the kind of article you want to attempt to read on your iPhone while on the toilet, people will think you’ve died in there before you emerge.
It appeals to us that something as simple as changing the timing of things can have a potent effect. People go mad for any short cut to actually putting in some effort and marketeers take advantage of this (flash a little bit of science while conveniently not talking about the bigger picture) to sell us on something new. Any time someone presents you the nutritional importance pyramid upside-down your BS detector should go off.
The truth: Getting the timing of things right most certainly has favourable effects on body composition, however, if you gloss over the most impactful, foundation levels of your nutrition plan (calorie intake, the macro composition, and the micronutrition) you are wasting your time, money and effort.
Don’t fight gravity! - Nyarly
Consider the first three stages of the nutrition pyramid the big picture. Now we’re going to look at the fourth stage while trying to not get lost in the meaningless details. Here’s what we’ll cover:
- How Many Meals You Should Probably Be Eating
- When To Eat Relative To When You Train
- Special Considerations for Macro Timing
- Why You Might Want To Consider Calorie/Macro Cycling
- How to Implement Calorie/Macro Cycling
- Clearing Up The Nonsense Surrounding Intermittent Fasting
- Why You Might Consider Skipping Breakfast
Notice the wording. Continue reading
It is the practical experience of working with clients that allows me to write the guides on the site. However, in trying to keep them science based but immediately applicable to most people in most situations, I miss out on covering some fascinating individual learning points from working with people.
Sometimes it’s necessary to take a step back before moving forward. Things don’t always go to plan and they might not do so for you either. So over the coming weeks I’ll publish some client case studies alongside the final parts of the Nutritional Hierarchy of Importance series that I hope you’ll find useful.
First up we have Max. The e-mails sent between us at the end say it all. Here are the appropriate parts: Continue reading
Micronutrition sounds boring but it is important and doesn’t have to be complicated.
- If you have issues with energy, feel hungry, wonder why your skin is pale, or have messed up sleep patterns, it could be that you’re short of a few vitamins or minerals.
- This is especially true of dieters.
- Long-term micronutrient deficiencies will short-circuit your progress.
- By observing a few simple rules of thumb regarding your daily fruit and vegetable intake you can safeguard against this.
- A multivitamin isn’t a substitute for a poor diet, but it is additional insurance on a good one.
- Dieters are more at risk of micronutrient deficiencies and could benefit from supplementation.
- Water is important for performance as well as fat loss. Aim for 5 clear urinations a day.
All the above I’ll explain in this article. I’ve tried to keep it short, relevant and practical. Continue reading
When people in the industry refer to their ‘macros’ they are talking about the three macronutrients: carbohydrate, protein and fat. You may have heard it said that while energy balance determines whether weight is gained or lost, macronutrients determine whether that change is fat or muscle mass.
That is a gross oversimplification. However, as their position in the pyramid above would indicate, macros play the second most important role when it comes to the fat loss/muscle gain equation. Simply put, get them right and you’ll reach your physique goals quicker and more painlessly than if you ignore them.
The following guidelines are based on research, other coach recommendations (main influences being Alan Aragon, Lyle McDonald, Martin Berkhan and Eric Helms), as well as personal observations from client work.
||2.2-2.8g/kg LBM (~1.0-1.3g/lb)
||1.8-2.2g/kg LBM (~0.8-1.0g/lb)
||0.9-1.3g/kg LBM (~0.4-0.6/lb)
||- the rest -
||- the rest -
There are sometimes individual differences and considerations which I have tried to cover in the explanations below. Continue reading