Successful Dieting

I’m really pushed for time at the moment.  Between personal training at bondi junction to writing a book and balancing my life, time is something i would buy right now.   So this is a quick one for everyone.  

I follow a lot of different coaches when it comes to training and nutrition.  Too many people in this industry listen to one person and try and mold it to everyone.  They become a guru worshiper, dogmatic, unwilling to bend in the face of obvious failings and then bitter.  Well here’s a newsflash : Everyone is different and there is no one magic formula no matter what your guru told you or the latest fad is.  

And look, sometimes other people just say it better than I do.  Alot of people say it better than i do!  So when they do i give them credit.   Shelby Starnes is one of those guys.  He is one of the top nutritionists in IFBB bodybuilding in the states.  And here’s the thing alot of personal trainers and fat tv nutritionists may not want to hear.  Bodybuilders get leaner than anyone on the planet so you have to listen to some of the things they do and absorb what is useful and disregard what doesnt apply to a everyday person.  Get what i’m saying?

The following is just a snapshot of what shelby said the other day in a post but can be implemented by anyone

The Five Pillars of Successful Dieting – By Shelby Starnes

1. Calories still count

Calorie-count has forever been the gold standard of fat loss “accounting”. Ask anyone on the street what a calorie is and most will know at least something (“umm.. it’s something you don’t want a lot of”) but most have a far dimmer understanding of macronutrients (the carbs, fat, and protein that those calories are made up of). In the bodybuilding world though, we’re must smarter than that. We know that different macronutrient profiles have different affects on hormones and ultimately, whether we lose (or gain) fat or muscle.

What many of us “smarties” have lost sight of though, is that CALORIES STILL COUNT. This applies to both gaining muscle, and losing fat. If you’re not eating more than you expend, regardless of how the macronutrients are set up, you will not gain muscle optimally. And by the same token, if you’re not eating LESS than you expend (or burning off more than you consume, via cardiovascular exercise and weight training), regardless of the macro breakdown, y ou will not lose fat optimally. So remember to not only pay attention to the fancy carb/protein/fat percentages and meal profiles, but also total energy intake – it still makes a difference.

2. Train Hard and Heavy

If I get asked one more time about changing training while dieting, I’m going to tear my hair out.
When you diet for fat loss, it’s IMPERATIVE that you do everything you can to maintain (and possibly build) muscle. If you lose muscle, you not only look like shit, you also slow your metabolism, making it even harder to lose fat. So don’t switch squats to leg extensions, deadlifts to seated rows, and bench presses to cable crossovers. Don’t go from 6 to 10 reps, to 30 to 50 reps. Don’t go from what built the muscle, to some nonsense that you think will “etch in more detail”. It’s diet and cardio that will whittle away the fat and give you a harder, denser look – it’s your training that will keep your muscle while you get there.

3. Ok, hormones do count too

Though calories control is necessary for progress, you will never see optimal results unless you marry that with a proper macronutrient setup, to support an optimal hormonal environment. A low calorie diet of 90% carbs, 5% protein, and 5% fat will do a terrible job of maintaining muscle and stripping off fat. You’ll lose weight for sure, but it won’t be the weight you want to lose. Setting up your diet so you take advantage of hormones, rather than having them take advantage of you, will make a huge world of difference in terms of results. Keeping carbs low most of the day is a perfect example – by keeping insulin levels low, we facilitate fat burning. Post workout is a time when carbs are desired though (for anabolic and anti-catabolic purposes), so we add them in there. Protein and fat can be manipulated similarly, to take advantage of hormones like testosterone and growth hormone.

4. Take Baby Steps

All too often I see people getting really aggressive with dieting right from the get-go. They jump right into doing cardio twice a day, reducing carbs to the bare minimum, and doing all sorts of things to get in shape, as if they are stepping onstage this weekend. While I respect their motivation, it’s certainly not the smartest way to diet by any means. Not only will it send your metabolism into the shitter very quickly, and put you at a huge risk for muscle catabolism, it also doesn’t leave you with any “tricks up your sleeve” to implement when you hit the inevitable plateau. If you start right off with zero carbs and two hours of cardio per day, where are you going to go when you get stuck? Three or four hours of cardio per day? No thanks! So make your changes slowly and incrementally, to maximize muscle retention and ensure that you can keep continue progressing for the duration of your diet.

5. Don’t Dig Yourself Into a Ditch

Even the best-constructed diet will eventually lead to metabolic slowdown, not to mention mental stagnation (who likes dieting forever?). To avoid “digging yourself into a ditch” with prolonged dieting, make sure you schedule periodic breaks to relieve some of the physical and mental pressures of a diet. For some, just a cheat meal or refeed /carb-up meal once every week or two works fine to replenish glycogen levels, stimulate metabolism and leptin a bit, and stave off catabolism (not to mention satisfy cravings and give the dieter a feeling of “fullness” that is often missed on a diet). Others might want to schedule longer periods of time (upwards of a couple weeks) to raise their calories a bit so as to avoid metabolic slowdown and the mental drudgery of a continuously hypo-caloric diet. Oftentimes dieting success comes down to working smarter, not working harder. Taking one step back can mean two steps forward, when done properly.

To wrap up, we have the following:

Eat the right stuff, but not too much.
Slow and steady (and SMART) wins the race.
Still train like you’re building muscle.

Great advice from a top coach

See you in the gym!


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