My guess is so people can either get more "likes" on social media or get you to buy the products they are promoting. But seriously, every time I scroll through instagram, someone is posting either a workout that is ridiculously difficult that I doubt anyone would ever do, or posting an overcomplicated meal they made that may look pretty, but let's be honest, you're not making it. This is probably why the majority of these people are getting comments about their outfits, rather than their workout routine or food.
Felt good to vent.
So, the purpose of this blog post is for me to take all of these riduculous workout routines, exercises, and health advice that overwhelm you, throw them in the trash, and give you TWO rules to follow, with THREE requirements applied to the rules. That's it! And for 99% of you, these rules will be all you ever need to succeed in health, fitness, and even life. Do you have a rule? I don't want to hear it.
Wait...you need some explaination of these rules? Okay
THAT'S REALLY ALL FOLKS
Fat, the most dense of the macronutrients (Protein, Carbs, Fat) packing 9 calories per gram compared to 4 calories per gram for the others. If we know that weight loss and weight gain comes down to calories in vs calories out, an oversimplified solution to losing or gaining weight could just be to control our fat intake, right? If I answer yes to this question, my defense is that consuming less fat than protein and carbs will keep my calories in control since I'm limiting the most dense macronutrient, or the reverse, increasing just my fat will help me gain weight. If I answer no, I might defend my choice by saying a calorie surplus/deficit is created by eating the right number of calories, no matter if it's fat, carbs, or protein.
Now, as you know, I am all about finding the easiest (and safest!) ways to help everyone get the results they want...if you didn't know this about me, you probably didn't read the HUGE title on the first page of my website, and that's ignorant. Anyways, had you asked me a few weeks ago, of course the "politically correct" answer for a trainer is to support is the second answer, all macronutrients are important and any can cause weight gain/weight loss, which I do believe. However, based on a recent experiment, I am now more inclined to provide a simplier solution first, for you to try on your own.
So I have a couple of clients who eat really well, cook their own food, etc. but still weren't losing weight and didn't know why, and I didn't either. Though I don't promote counting calories right away for my clients, especially new ones, these particular clients were motivated enough to count their calories and macronutrients to figure out what the issue was. I must say, the results gave us the answers we were looking for...proper calorie counting ALWAYS DOES. What we found was that while we were looking for a protein to carb to fat ratio of 50% 30% 20% respectively, what we were getting was more of a 25% 40% 35% ratio, and sometimes fat even made up 40-50%! Unless you are doing a ketogenic diet, fat should not be the highest macronutrient you eat every day. Countless studies for weight loss support consuming most of your calories from protein.
So how did this happen? Well, fat is like the overweight hitchhiker quietly sitting in the back seat of your calorie car with protein and carbs in the front. You kind of forget about him/her because you are worried about keeping carb under control, they have a short temper. Eventually with protein as the main focus, consuming copious amount of it, especially animal protein (meat and dairy), and cooking with butter/oil, use condiments on your food, your fat hitchhiker slowly but surely keeps growing, and at a faster rate then protein and carbs in the front seat, and soon takes over the entire calorie car. Though you may have eaten 200g of protein or 800 calories of protein, all it takes is 89g of fat for the equivalent number of calories! Not only are your ratios all messed up, your compact calorie car now transforms into an SUV to support your fat hitchhiker. So, now I challenge all of you wanting to lose weight to eat LESS fat, and those of you wanting to gain weight to eat MORE FAT.
P.S. Eating out is never the answer.
I'm not a doctor, nor do I care to be one, so this is in "Laymen's Terms" as it's called and probably not a 100% scientifically correct explaination. When your skeletal muscles contract (the muscles connected to bone), in order to do so, the brain has to send a signal to those muscles to contract. That signal then travels somehow or another through the nervous system and eventually the signal reaches the desired muscle, and through another process (the sliding filament theory), the muscle contracts. Looking at the diagram to the right, you can see that the signal is collected by dendrites, passed along via the axon and attaches to the muscle at the neuromuscular junction. If you're confused, all you have to do is literally read the diagram and it shows what I just said.
So, why should you give a shit about this? Although most of the signals sent by our brain are unconscious, when lifting weights you can actually control which muscle the brain sends the signal to! Cool huh? Unfortunately, most of us just go through the motions and have no idea how to control these signals! Let's use an example of an experience you may have had lifting where the wrong signal was sent. You are doing a Dumbbell Chest Press. Your form is PERFECT, however, you can't seem to feel anything except your shoulders! Oh no. Well, there are a handful of reasons this is the case (please see Stretching for a starting point), and one of the reason may simply be because you aren't thinking about the muscle. Seriously, it can be that easy. When you think about the muscle, you are telling your brain that is the muscle you want to contract and it usually listens to you, but what if it doesn't? Again, there could be a few reasons. The reason I want to focus on is that your brain probably has no idea how to send a signal to that part of the body. If your form is perfect, you're thinking about the muscle, and you still can't feel it, you probably need to activate the muscle. Activating a muscle is relatively easy. You need to pick an exercise that is extremely specific to the muscle you are trying to contract i.e. a Pec Fly to activate the chest, and REALLY SQUEEZE that muscle during the activation exercise. Do make sure you're not overactivating the muscle to the point where it gets fatigued, you pretty much just want to feel that muscle flex. What you are doing is helping the brain find that pathway and "giving it permission" to use it. Then, try the main exercise again and let the magic happen! This is what I call "Mind to Muscle Connection."
It's a virus, it can spread quickly, it caused the closing of most businesses including gyms, has depleted groceries at the grocery store, and now forces our hand as to our response. As some of you know by now, I oversimplify concepts, with the main goal of getting you to comprehend the basic points. Certainly there is more to COVID-19, but what I covered is all you need to, and probably already know anyways, Now, I believe there are four main ways people are responding to this pandemic, four ways people respond to most significant situations, honestly. Of course, it would be rudimentary to assume one of these responses is demonstrated wholeheartedly by a person at all times, behavior is a bit more complex, and though a person might have consistent tendencies, it is unlikely for their actions to remain undeviated. So though this commentary is my own speculation , I do hope it at least makes you more cognizant of yourself than before you read this.
I think so, but finding consistent and aligned fitness and nutrition information online, in books, magazines, is like finding a needle in a haystack, so I've decided I will just draw my own educated conclusions.
First, here is what everyone will agree on as law concerning macronutrients; your body NEEDS protein and fat, i.e essential amino acids (what makes up protein), and essential fatty acids, to function properly. Secondly, your body does not need carbohydrates, i.e. people living on the ketogenic diet. Sadly, everything after these "laws" becomes blurry and conflicted, so what follows is merely my opinion on how to consume protein, fat, and carbs throughout the day.
Below, I have two columns and 3 rows of 6 graphs each. The graphs are separated by time of day you work out, as well as if you are trying to lose weight and "preserve" muscle or gain weight and build muscle. I say "preserve" muscle because when you are losing weight/in a calorie deficit it is VERY hard to gain muscle.
You will notice on the graphs that the x axis is labeled time of day, and the y axis is labeled percent. The black bar on each graph is when you are working out, and its width represents how long you workout should be (~45-60 minutes). The red bars represent protein, the green represent carbs, and the brown represent fat. The length each color takes up in each bar is the percent of that macronutrient you should be eating during that particular time of day, and the width is the time range that you should be consuming the food. The diagonal lines on some of the graphs are explained in the legend, but more or less are changes in your macronutrients for that particular bar that can speed up or slow down your weight gain or weight loss.
The most straightforward bars to interpret in this graph are the black bars, and the right adjacent bar touching (or almost touching it). This means that as soon as you are done working out, you need to eat. In the case of weight loss, it's about 50-50 protein and carbs with minimal fat, and in the case of weight gain carbs are more heavily favored. When you are done lifting weights, your body needs food to repair the damaged muscle. You will hear other opinions stating that it doesn't matter when you eat after a workout, but whether that's true or not, what harm have you done by eating right after?
Another straightforward visual is that there is a lot more green (carbs) on the weight gain column than the weight loss column. When you want to gain weight and muscle, eating more carbs is the way to go. When you want to lose more weight/body fat less carbs is the way to go. You still eat carbs when trying to lose weight, just not as many.
Fat is the least consumed macronutrient. As fat has twice as many calories as carbs and protein, eating a diet high in fat will inevitably lead to too many overall calories for you to lose weight, and too much fat gain instead of healthy weight gain. Even if you keep your fat in check, you are sacrificing your protein and carbs percentages, both vital for body fat loss and muscle gain.
Finally, protein remains high thought the day, regardless of weight loss or weight gain because when you lift you are tearing your muscles, so it's really important in muscle recovery.
Overall, the time of day that you are most active (your workout) the more carbs you can/should have around that time, and the less active you are, the more protein (and a little more fat) you should consume.
You hear this phrase from women more then men, as having the "bulky" look is not considered feminine in modern society, though I am sure I speak for others as well as myself that I can appreciate a woman with some nice muscle development, bulky or not, i digress. So where did this bulky ideology even begin? As we are products of society, it only makes sense that the bulk fear probably develops when a woman comes across a magazine, movie, bodybuilding competition conveying women (or men) with gigantic muscles. What we fail to understand is that lifting weights is not the culprit, but a small catalyst in addition to two much larger variables, calorie intake and supplements (mainly steroids).
I want you to compare your muscles to crocodiles. It only makes sense to use a wild animal in this example because I have a zoology degree. Did you know that crocodiles grow twice as fast in captivity then the wild? Why? Because in captivity they have more to eat, while in the wild they may go months without eating. So what's my point? The more calories you eat, the more your muscles will grow. In addition, if you've dissected the Nutrition part of my web site, you also understand that a calorie surplus comes with FAT GAIN. And this ladies and gentlemen is what causes the bulky look, the amount of body fat you hold, not how much muscle you have.
As far as supplements, I'll keep this short and sweet. Most of you probably believe bodybuilders, men or women are bulky, but rather, they are some of the leanest people in the world so stop confusing large muscles for bulk. Secondly, do you have testosterone? Do you take steroids? No? Then stop comparing yourself to people that do.
I personally have never done the Ketogenic Diet, it is just not for me. One of my clients, Sabastian, has been doing it for 6+ months and I thought who better than him to commentate on his journey with Keto to help anyone who considering it.
Over the past six months I’ve had some great success with the ketogenic diet. I’ve been able to cut around twenty pounds and drop my body fat percentage by about four percent. I’ve also been weightlifting at least five days a week and have been able to continue to eat enough to continue to have muscle growth. I feel throughout the day I have more energy and it’s been consistent weight loss using this diet. I’ve done fad diets and diets similar to this before but I’ve by far had the most success with this one. I don’t know if that’s because this diet is the best for me or the easiest or I’m at a point in my life where I am more motivated and organized than before but it has worked for me. I want to stress that, it worked for me,
everyone has different bodies and needs and will experience different success with different diets. I just wanted to write out what has helped me be successful with this and what I continue to do going forward to maintain.
The basics of the Keto diet are low to no carbs and high fat and protein. Its very similar shopping and thinking to the Paleo diet with some more restrictions. The idea is that if you deprive your body of carbs, your body’s main source of fuel, long enough the body will then utilize fat as a power source and you will slowly begin to burn through you fat stores. The first week or two I was aggressively tracking every single thing I ate. I was reading lots of labels and using meal tracking apps like myfitnesspal to track everything I was taking in. I read that to enter ketosis you need to eat less than fifty carbs a day. I decided that I wanted to be under twenty five just to be sure. I had to seek out more expensive whey protein at GNC that had less carbs to maintain my caloric intake in the morning. I at no point tracked calories during this. I figured out what routine meals I could make easily and consistently that met my carb requirements. My first ten pounds dropped off in the first month. It was quick. The next two months I was losing around five pounds a month. I wasn’t discouraged by the slow weight loss. In my experience losing weight slowly and consistently was better than quick cuts because I put weight back on quickly after quick cuts.
I did experience a bit of what is called the keto flu. It’s a sickness associated with your body going into ketosis. At this point my body had used carbs for fuel for twenty seven years so cutting them almost completely out does cause your body to panic a bit. Going into ketosis also makes your body burn water at a higher rate. My experience with the keto flu was mostly bad headaches. By upping my water and
sodium intake I was able to mostly block it out. Now I am drinking water constantly. I have a bottle that I fill all the time. Sometimes multiple times an hour. It helps curb food cravings and it helps deal with the change in the body.
Preparation is Key
What has lead to a lot of my success has been being boring. I generally eat the same thing every day. I was able to pinpoint meals that I like, that were easy to prepare, and most importantly easy to pack for work. With that I can ensure that I am within my range daily and it’s easier to shop. When I pack and prepare I prepare three meals for the day and multiple snacks.
Breakfast: Bacon and Scrambled Eggs and Cheese w/ Hot Sauce
Lunch: Pork Chops w/ sriracha, Steamed Asparagus, Cheese*
Dinner: Grilled Chicken w/ mustard and sriracha, Steamed Asparagus, Cheese
Snacks: Whey and Peanut Butter Protein Shake, cheese sticks, celery and guac, almonds, hard boiled eggs
*if unprepared or extra hungry* spinach, egg, cheese, bacon, vinegar, ranch salad from cafeteria
Note: Everything has a good flavor, nothing is bland.
Eating Out: Steak and vegetables, Caesar salad without croutons, wings (non-breaded), Chipotle Salad
I will occasionally deviate from these standard meals. It was a challenge early on determining what is and isn’t keto but I can pretty easily find something I like most places I go now. The biggest fear was turning down friends from work who wanted to go out for a beer or food after work. In the beginning I didn’t drink at all and that did help me lose a lot of weight. I highly recommend not drinking at all on this diet. Again life gets in the way and people go out and you may want to drink and low carb drinking does have its challenges. The easiest beer has been Michelob ultra. It is the lowest carb beer but it also doesn’t have great flavor. Miller lite is a bit better and has about one more carb per beer. People recommend doing vodka with soda water and lime juice as a mixed drink that is zero carb. My go to has been either drinking whiskey straight or mixing whiskey with diet coke. All and all I recommend not drinking more than once a week, but you can do it and still be keto.
Most people I know who have done this diet do hit a plateau eventually and I anticipate that coming soon. It has been very beneficial in cutting weight and getting my diet to a more consistent point. It has helped be much more disciplined about my diet and spend less money on a week to week basis. It’s made me look forward to spoiling myself with double chicken and no rice or beans at Chipotle. I plan in the
next month to slowly introduce carbs back into my diet. I’m sure I’ll keep my carbs low and I think I’m planning on not eating carbs after lunch to minimize the amount but I know long term the diet I am currently on will not be sustainable.
One of the more annoying things is everyone has had a comment whenever I mention that I am
on the keto diet. Unless it was relevant, like explaining why I don’t want to eat the free cookies someone brought into the office, I have tried to not bring it up. A lot of people still feel the need to make a comment about their feelings about my diet, either from some second hand info they have about it or some doom and gloom article they read about the diet. I try to ignore it though as much as I can. It’s working for me and I feel that I have done adequate research about the diet before going into it.
Overall, these are some things that have helped me and worked for me. At the end of the day it’s important to find and research a diet that works for your particular body type and your particular goal. Don’t fall for sales tactics from companies like Herbal Life or It Works! That sound too good to be true. Like anything it’s important to know what your goal is before you set a roadmap on how to get there. I’m at a point where I’ve hit my goal weight, which was an arbitrary number that I set at the beginning when my only goal was to lose weight. I’m now just pushing to maintain and see what I can do to cut my body fat
percentage. I’ll keep pushing with the diet as long as it’s working towards my goal and modify as needed.
Personal trainers suck, get a personal trainer. But get one that actually gives a shit. I honestly can't think of a job where being lazy is more ironic than than this one, yet so many trainers are. Health and fitness is an overwhelming and confusing field, and you need someone with knowledge to instruct you to decrypt the contradictions , but please don't settle for the guy/girl that could care less.
The year was 2016 and I was working at a corporate (big box) gym. Which gym? It doesn't matter because I see this all the time at fitness centers (mainly corporate gyms). Now my job at the time was a sales consultant, I was supposed to sell memberships to guests that wanted to inquire about the gym and what we offered. At the end of the sales process, assuming the prospect signed up, we were to schedule them for a training assessment with one of the personal trainers at the gym. Now here is where the story takes a turn. I didn't want to schedule them for said training assessment. Why? Because day after day I followed these trainers and their clients with my eyes as they made their way through the various pieces of equipment the gym offered, and I was not impressed. I knew the training prices by heart and they were not cheap (over $100/hr). Now at this point, I'm no expert on personal training (and am still not today) but logically, something didn't add up. These clients were paying over $100 an hour to follow, yes follow and not even walk next to, a trainer who had their coffee in one hand, cell phone in the other, looking disinterested and simply pointing at machines for the client to do. It was at that moment that my disgust motivated me to quit my sales job, get a personal training certification and just do better.
To all of the personal trainers out there. You need to understand that your clients are putting themselves in a very vulnerable state, trusting you with their body, their health, and even their self esteem. Who the fuck are you to take that for granted? Personal training is not cheap, and each session is maximum an hour. You're telling me you can't give a client your full attention, respect, and instruction for that time? If you can't get out of this profession and go work a 9-5 in an office. Let the trainers who give a shit train your clients.
To all of the clients out there, hold your damn trainer accountable! It's as much your responsibility as theirs to know when you aren't getting a good value for your money. A personal trainers responsibility is to teach, motivate and encourage, and be attentive to your needs not only during the session, but outside of the session as well (if they are the real deal). If you're lucky, you'll even find a trainer that includes some nutrition knowledge as part of their program. And remember, EVERY GOOD TRAINER SHOULD BE IN SHAPE BUT NOT EVERY IN SHAPE TRAINER IS GOOD. It's time clients start holding their trainers at a higher standard because let's be honest, you're paying for it.
For the longest time I thought I was too cool to record my weight, reps, and sets in the gym. In fact, not only did I preach about how irrelevant it was to do so, I also found myself judging people that walked around the gym with a notebook and pen. Let me share a quote with you from one of my all time favorite movies, Pulp Fiction "Fuck pride. Pride only hurts, it never helps." Though taken a bit out of context from the situation in the movie, there is definitely truth to this quote in most situations we find ourselves in life. For some, it can be the pride that keeps them from saying "sorry", and others, doing an activity alone in fear of judgement from others. For me, it was my pride that kept me from recording my weights in the gym, assuming only "novice" fitness enthusiasts did it. Well guess what? It was also my pride that kept me from reaching my potential. Now, six months into recording my weights and reps I am squatting, deadlifting, and bench pressing more weight than ever before. My fiance frequently compliments me on how much bigger both my butt and pecs have gotten!
So what's the big deal with tracking progress? Progression Overload, or (overly) simply defined as "doing better than last time." Before, I was just guessing the amount of weight I lifted the previous week, there was no control. If it felt tough, I was doing something right. And to a point, this worked, and I gained muscle because guess what, if you lift really hard 5x a week, something is going to happen. Sadly, that something came at a much slower pace than these past 6 months. Never am I unsure about what weight to use, how many reps to do, I always have a goal, setting the bar just a little higher than the previous week, and that goal has made all the difference. And if you record your weights but can't ever seem to go up in weight? Check your DIET first, and then your lifting intensity.
I sent a text message out to all of my clients yesterday about this very rule, and I think it is so important that I will stress it again, and no, this is not an April Fools Joke. The 80 20 rule promotes BALANCE. Balance in life is what keeps us sane, keeps us motivated, and is a more realistic approach to attacking a goal or task. This rule says that 80% of the time, or about 1 day a week, you should be giving 100% percent your very best to what you are trying to achieve, and 20% you can be more lax and "enjoy" life (though i find being productive quite enjoyable). In fitness, this would be doing your workouts to the best of your ability, eating to support your goals, and not half-assing what you are trying to achieve. For the general population this rule could be applied to a simple work/life balance. I know a guy who works his ass off everyday at his job, a very important one at that, but frequently goes on vacations (probably about 20% of his life) to balance out the stress he endures. But, doing this allows him to continue to perform at his job at the highest possible standard. Guys, STOP justifying your mistakes. Stop thinking you are doing your very best 80% of the time when really it's only 50%. If you go to work or the gym and don't give it your best effort, and then do whatever the fuck you want on the weekends, you are NOT following the 80 20 rule and you won't see your body change, an increase in income, whatever. Make the sacrifice, do your shit, and then enjoy the spoils once you've EARNED it. On the other hand, don't just try and conquer the world overnight because that is also not a balance and you may very well find yourself burned out after a few days/weeks/years.