Even though you’ve seen my meal pictures, it really won’t be like this. Sorry if I got your hopes up!
I’ve been asked many times from many people over these last few years what my secret to success is.
“How are you losing weight?”
“Are you running every day?”
“Are you on Atkins/Weight Watchers/South Beach/NutriSystem?”
“How long do you work out for?”
“Are you okay?” (My personal favorite; YES! Actually, I’ve never felt better. Seriously. Ever.)
Generally, my response is pretty vague. Not that I don’t want to tell people how this is truly done, but most people would reject it anyways. Tell me it’s dangerous. Claim it’s a fad. And……………wait for it………………..tell me that……………….EVERYONE KNOWS that what I’m doing won’t help you lose weight. So, I pretty much just stick with a basic, “Just trying to watch what I eat and work out.”
Then, the rationalizations come.
“You’re blessed with a high metabolism.”
“You must work out like 3 hours per day.”
“Guys just lose weight easier than girls.”
and my favorite, “You’re lucky because it’s so easy for you to get in shape.”
Huh? How do you figure? You knew me for years when I weighed 65 more pounds. How come now, all of a sudden, it’s “easy” for me? That’s a slap in the face.
Let’s do some simple math. I gave you my numbers.
On rest days, I eat 230 grams of protein, 110 grams of fat and 40 grams of carbs (average).
-If we remember from Lesson 1 that protein and carbs are 4 cals/g and fat is 9 cals/g this works out to 2,070 calories, eaten on each of 4 days per week.
On training days, I eat 230 grams of protein, 70 grams of fat and 200 grams of carbs (average).
-This works out to 2,350 calories per day, eaten on each of 3 days per week.
99.9% of the males on this planet will lose weight consistently when consuming these amounts.
There’s my big secret: I have been consuming less calories than I have been expanding, day in and day out, for a very long time.
Do you see why the rationalizations feel like a slap in the face?
And maybe you looked at the numbers before I broke them down.
Perhaps you tried to eat your macros in these amounts this weekend. And let me take a wild guess? It was hard to do.
No, maybe not hard to count them and hit them on the button. I mean physically hard to do. These numbers SHOULD leave you hungry. It’s not an obscene amount of food.
And maybe you’re ready to say…….”NO WAY THAT’S TRUE! I’ve seen your pictures of your meals! There’s no way you’re eating those numbers! That Subway meal alone HAS to be over 2,000 calories!!!”
You’re starting to catch on.
Enter the wonderful world of Intermittent Fasting.
Fasting is defined as any time you aren’t eating. Intermittent Fasting is an eating strategy where you “save” your calories. Essentially, take an 8 hour window and consume all your calories in that window.
Want it even simpler than that? Skip breakfast. Eat a light lunch, just enough to satisfy your hunger. Eat a massive dinner. Done.
An example of a training day mealplan:
5:45 am: coffee
6:30 am: refill
8:00 am: thank you, sir, may I have another?
9:00 am: maybe just one more………(I drink a lot of coffee! An essential when on IF (Intermittent Fasting))
11:00 am: 8 ounces of ham on bread, an apple
4:00 pm: Train for 40 minutes
6:30 pm: 2 pounds of taco meat, 3 tortillas, 3 cups of refried beans, guac, sour cream, cheese, lettuce, pico, etc.
10:00 pm: bed
Ain’t it beautiful?
The health benefits of IF are numerous. When you wake up, your blood sugar is very low. And your ghrelin (a hormone) causes your tummy to rumble. If you succumb to this rumbling, it will trigger this hormone, spike your low blood sugar, and create a chain reaction that will leave you hungrier throughout the course of the day. This will make it nearly impossible to eat the way you should.
As your blood sugar spikes and falls, carbs will be craved. Ignoring this craving is insanely difficult. It is one of the biggest reasons why you can eat a massive, mixing-bowl size serving of Cheerios (healthy whole grains?) and be RAVENOUS by 10 am.
On the other hand, if you drink a large, strong coffee (caffeine is a stimulant AND an appetite suppressant, win-win!) and start your day, very soon the ghrelin in your body will calm down, and……………wait for it…………...you will no longer be hungry. Dead serious. Fasting decreases and practically stops hunger. No lie. I promise.
I’m sure there are some doubters, so time to debunk some myths. And I apologize for the lack of references, yet again………..
1. If you don’t eat breakfast, you will get fat.
This one is hilarious. For some reason, “everyone knows” that you must eat in order to “kickstart your metabolism”. I have no clue where this weird myth came from, but it’s perpetrated on every MSN or Yahoo health-related article I’ve ever read, ever. Studies have been done that have shown meal timing and frequency have NO EFFECT on metabolism, body composition, or fat loss. None. 2,000 calories is 2,000 calories, whether you eat them in one meal, or split between 6 meals.
2. If you don’t eat protein every 3 hours, your muscles will fall off.
Again, totally untrue. Protein absorption by your body is proportional. If you eat 30 grams of protein, it will take your body 4 hours, approximately, to process it. If you eat 120 grams of protein, it will take 16 hours. Catch my drift?
3. Eating late at night makes you fat.
Guess what? Wrong again. I find it hilarious that the Paleo, Crossfit crowd out there says we should eat like a caveman.
Well, let’s think about this. A caveman wakes up in the morning, groggy. He goes for a dip and drinks some water at his local watering hole.
He feels refreshed, heads back to camp, relaxes a bit. Eats some twigs and berries. Talks to his family. Around 3, he becomes really damn hungry.
He grabs his buddies Grog and Ox, scoops up his weapons, and goes to find a woolly mammoth. At 6, they succeed!
They bring the beast back to camp, make a roaring campfire, and commence to have a meat buffet the likes of which this civilized world has never seen.
Side note: Do you think they tried to find the “leanest cuts” of meat so they don’t get fat? Heck no! And Grog and Ox are ripped, for sure.
Eating late at night is exactly what we have been primed to do. It fits perfectly with our hormonal patterns, our circadian rhythms, and virtually every physiological process inside of our bodies.
All of the studies which have been done covering these MYTHS have simply been observational studies.
They aren’t truly studies where all the factors and variables are controlled. Which basically makes them worthless.
Besides, there’s an old adage in the scientific world that states “correlation does not prove causation”.
Just because two things are related doesn’t mean they cause each other.
You know those studies that say that lean people tend to eat breakfast? Since we have been told that “fact” ad nauseum, and since health conscious people are more likely to engage in behaviors that are considered “health conscious”, it only makes sense that health conscious people would eat breakfast.
Aaannnnnddd since they are health conscious ANYWAYS………….they tend to be lean to begin with!
This is the same way everyone has determined that diet soda is bad for you, too. Diet soda does not cause weight gain of any sort. (GASP!) It’s just that healthy people tend to avoid it anyways, since they think it does cause weight gain. Hence, leaner people tend to skip the diet soda. Make sense?
So, here’s where you implement. Take your numbers. Split ’em up. On rest days, I do a pretty even split. 100 grams protein, 60 grams fat for lunch. 130 grams protein, 50 grams fat for dinner. Done.
Training days are split differently.
When you consume most of your calories after you work out, the effect is even greater.
Since your body is depleted from the workout, it can handle more calories afterwards without much of a chance of the calories turning into fat.
Most of your food will be shuttled off to your muscles. And that’s what you want to happen. Obviously.
Which is another way I can go to Mongolian BBQ and get 4 bowls of food after my workouts and still stay lean. This doesn’t mean you can jump on the elliptical for 30 minutes at a slow pace, and then stuff yourself silly and lose weight, though. We will discuss how to train at a later date.
I aim for 50 grams of protein and carbs each for lunch. And then I go for 180 grams protein, 150 grams carbs, and all 70 grams of fat, all consumed post-workout. I like to eat after I train.
A few side notes, facts, observations, and hints to help you out:
A. It’s not as hard as you think.
It’s really not. This is the #1 comment I get when I tell people I skip breakfast.
They tell me how they could never do that, they’d be too hungry, their blood sugar would be too low, they would starve, they don’t have the discipline. Blah, blah, blah.
And that’s what I thought, too. Until I tried it! Fasting literally makes you less hungry. It blunts hunger.
Also, your mind becomes more focused when the energy in your body can be used by the brain instead of being used in the digestive system.
Most people find fasting to be stimulating. You will find an INCREASE in your ability to focus and get things done. I personally love this. I find myself extremely productive when I’m towards the end of my fast (mornings at school). I am more alert, more focused, I feel lighter, etc.
I swear once you get used to it (usually takes around a week), YOU WILL NEVER GO BACK! (I literally haven’t eaten a morsel of food before 11 am in well over a year.)
B. Fasting has a complete array of health benefits.
Lower blood glucose and insulin sensitivity, improved lipid panels and health markers, strengthened immune system, lowered rates of cancer (increased autophagy-your body’s ability to clear out cancerous materials), etc.
C. Drink coffee. And lots of it.
Coffee is the #1 source of antioxidants in this world. It’s a stimulant and a metabolism enhancer. It helps speed up the metabolic processes. It sharpens the mind. But be sure not to add sugar or milk, as this would break the fast. Drink it black. Man up.
D. The psychological side of dieting.
This is the magic button for me. With my old diet, I always felt like I had to make constant decisions based on what I should and shouldn’t eat.
I would try to eat “small meals” all day long. This is what I felt I should do.
Eating in this manner simply stimulated my hunger, which made compliance to any diet MORE DIFFICULT. I never, ever felt full and satisfied.
If you never feel full or satisfied, how long will you truly stay on a diet? Hey, all you NutriSystem users? How long did you last on that program? Did you gain it all back yet? Sorry to be a Debbie Downer, but you will.
When you eat according to IF, you have two simple choices: You are either EATING or you are NOT EATING. And that’s it.
It frees your mind. You no longer have to constantly be making decisions about what you should be consuming. Eat lunch. Eat dinner.
If it’s not lunch or dinner, DON’T EAT! Period. Be in control over what goes into your body.
If you have difficulty not eating, chew gum to remind you to stop the constant snacking.
When people offer you food, say no thanks.
And when they get offended you didn’t eat their food, reply with: “I am sorry I don’t want to eat the food you are offering me. Please know this is not a reflection of my feelings for you and it doesn’t represent my acceptance of you, either.” That’ll shut ’em up.
We all need to remove the emotional attachment we have for food, anyways.
When I ate according to the old adage of “small meals every 3 hours”, I felt like I was always nibbling. I never felt full.
My appetite was constantly stimulated. It’s like a crackhead that has to smoke just a little bit of crack every hour on the hour.
Pretty soon, that pipe’s gonna get loaded up. I find it much easier to comply with a diet and lowered calories if I know I get to eat a big meal later on in the day. I can deal with some hunger if I say to myself, “Just make it through the day and I can have a HUUUUUGE dinner!”
It’s totally psychologically satisfying. Going to bed with a full belly is awesome.
You may ask what to do about Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year’s, your kid’s birthday, or Flag Day.
Certain holidays lend themselves to pigging out. Let me ask you this: “Do you really think you’ll be fat from eating right for 355 days and eating like crap for 10 days?” If you think so, then you’re crazy.
Live by the 80/20 rule. Your body composition and health is determined by what you eat 80% of the time. The other 20% of the time, go crazy.
Have fun. If you’re super concerned you will hurt progress, there’s some tricks we can employ to be sure to minimize the damage. Basically, you short change the other days of the week to include room for your splurge. It’s easily done and we will talk about it in a later post.