At first, I thought Lesson 3 was going to be about training. I was going to explain what everyone was doing wrong, how to do it right, and how to maximize your ROI in the weight room. (Return-On-Investment. Basically, you don’t want to do a single thing that’s not worth your time. That’s how my workouts take 40 minutes or less.)
But I decided against it.
I’ve shown you the results you can get from this system. I’ve taught you a little bit about what food does to you. And I’ve explained how to make sure you’re eating it in the right quantities and at the right times. So, the only thing left is the training, right?
The training isn’t really all that important.
Think about it: 40 minutes, 3 times per week is 120 minutes. Two lousy hours out of the whole week. And probably 90% of my time in the gym is spent stretching, warming up, resting in between sets, and changing the songs on my iPhone.
Actual time spent lifting, squatting, or pulling weight is around…………….20 minutes. Total. And that’s on the high side. There are 10,080 minutes in a week. 20 minutes is 0.1% of the amount of time in a week.
Now you tell me, what’s more important? Nutrition, which is how and what you eat at all times, or training, which is something you should do for one-tenth of one percent of your time here on earth?
In trying to improve your health, please get one thing clear: Your health is a by-product of proper nutrition and weight loss.
Not the other way around. You don’t “get healthy and then lose weight”, you “lose weight and then get healthy”.
Your blood lipids and vital signs improve with weight loss. Not vice versa. And proper nutrition is how you lose the weight.
It’s not hours in the gym. Or running. Or biking. Or doing P90X or Insanity or anything else.
Ever see one of those shows on the Biggest Loser crowd? Why do you think nearly all of them put the weight back on eventually? Because no one can work out like that forever.
If you take away one lesson from this entire blog, it should be that diet is faaaaaar and away more important than exercise.
Your diet will allow you to lose the fat effectively. Your training will allow you to minimize your muscle loss.
These are two separate entities and they should be treated as such.
When you’re having a rest day, find a couch. Sit on it.
So, let’s dig a little bit deeper into the nutritional aspect. I’ve got some thoughts for those of you who are truly interested.
Helpful thoughts and tips:
1. Drink a lot of water.
I mean a lot of water. Make it cold. Aim for at least 5-6 LITERS per day. Water helps all metabolic processes. It helps to flush you out. Especially after dinner. Dinner is when most of your carbs should be eaten. Water retention is inversely proportional to the amount of water consumed. Drink more water, weigh less. If you’re not peeing at least once an hour, you’re not drinking enough water.
2. Take fish oil in the right amounts.
Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you know how beneficial fish oil is. Now, I ain’t a scientist, but I’ve read up on the matter.
Most people walk into Kroger, see the fish oil, buy the bottle, look at the bottle, see the serving size is 1, take one per day, and think it’s going to help them.
That couldn’t be further from the truth.
Fish oil quality is extremely important. 99% of fish oil sold in commercial stores is garbage.
You need to find fish oil that specifically has the amounts of DHA and EPA in them. You need to consume 2 grams of EPA and 1.5 grams of DHA daily to get the benefits. With most fish oils, you will have to ingest hundreds per day to get the right amount. Yikes.
I’ve researched this. I recommend this brand from Costco. Take 6 capsules with your last meal of the day. The fish oil will slow digestion and help your body get the nutrients it needs during the 16 hour fast. This is the cheapest brand. It’s around $0.70 per day to take 6 pills. If you don’t belong to Costco, they’ll still send it to you for a small fee when purchasing online.
3. Look at the big picture.
There is a hierarchy to all of this. It goes, in order of importance: 1. Overall calorie intake. 2. Macronutrient amounts. 3. Timing. Keep this in mind. Look closely at numbers one and two.
They are waaaay more important than the timing of meals. If the 8-hour window is hard to nail every day, don’t sweat it. If you keep your macros in check, you’re good. If you get the timing exactly right, BONUS! The timing isn’t nearly as important as you think.
Case in point: Generally, when I’m working, I eat lunch at 11 and dinner at 6:30. This allows me to nail the timing. Today, though, I took the day off for an appointment. I trained at 7 am instead of after work. And I was starving by 9:30. So I ate my lunch and didn’t worry about it. If you get it right on most days, it’s fine if you’re off a bit on other days.
The fasting component DOES have benefits which can’t be ignored. Most of them are anecdotal. I feel great when fasting. Others have told me the same thing.
But fasting in and of itself does not cause weight loss. If you fast for 16 hours and consume 4,000 calories over the next 8 hours, you will become fatter than you are. Fasting will not change that.
But what fasting does is give you a means by which to reduce your caloric intake without going crazy with hunger. If you consume 2,000 calories per day, you will lose more weight than if you consume 2,500 calories per day. And fasting makes it easier to create the “buffer” needed to do just that.
I do find that compliance to the protocol is easier when I eat my first meal at the start of the 8-hour window and my second meal towards the end. But if you’d like to break your food down differently, have fun.
If you remember from Lesson 2 that meal frequency has no effect on body composition and fat loss, you should understand that eating two meals is only superior for one reason: You can eat bigger meals and feel more physically and psychologically satisfied.
4. Listen to your body. Learn the difference between having an empty stomach and being hungry.
These are two very distinct and different feelings. We generally associate an empty stomach with being hungry.
But that is simply not the case. Having an empty stomach is not true hunger. A hunger pang is a direct, almost cramping-like sensation in your stomach.
This is very different from having an empty belly. Over time, you can learn to tell the difference between the two. I often have times during the day when I have an empty stomach.
But I rarely have true, genuine hunger pangs. Once you learn the difference between the two, you can learn to accept the fact that you won’t feel “full” all the time.
5. Macro tips.
When starting out, you may find it difficult to nail your macro numbers right on the button. Keep in mind that this is a skill.
It becomes easier over time. It might be stressful and seem difficult at first. But when you start to figure it out and become zoned in, the results will multiply exponentially.
Let me share with you a question I received yesterday from a woman just starting out on this journey. She had her protein and fat numbers.
They were solid for her goals, around 130 grams of protein and 70 grams of fat for a rest day.
She was counting diligently and hit her protein number, but she had only consumed 5 grams of fat for the day. And she wanted to get an extra 65 grams of fat to hit her number.
First off, rest days should be fun. Sources of fat and protein are FREAKING DELICIOUS!!! Eat some!!!
Get some eggs, some cheese, some peanut butter, bacon, sausage, pork chops, or spare ribs! Drink some whole fat milk. (Mmmmmmm, milk.)
Over time, this will be more obvious. You know those pictures I post of 10 eggs and 6 strips of bacon? Rest days. All of them.
So, I ordered her to get a massive salad with broccoli, greens, peppers, onions, etc. Pour a cup of whole fat, shredded cheese over the top of it. And then douse it in a half cup of ranch. And enjoy.
She responded with, “Did my nutritional consultant just tell me to eat a massive salad with cheese and ranch? This is the greatest diet ever!”
So, here’s some foods I eat when it’s the end of the day and I’m short one particular macro.
A. Problem: You’re short protein.
Lunchmeat and tuna are the way to go. Be sure the lunchmeat isn’t processed (salami, bologna, etc.). Aim for lean cuts. Chicken works, too. Make some up and season it. DON’T MAKE A PROTEIN SHAKE. If your goal is fat loss, the food will fill you up much more effectively. The protein shake will simply spike your insulin and leave you empty and ravenous shortly thereafter.
B. Problem: You’re short fat.
Generally, my go-to is natural peanut butter. I love that stuff. I get out the tablespoon, read the back of the jar, figure out how many spoonfuls I need, and get a fantastic snack.
Eggs work, too. 5 grams of fat per. Or cheese. Don’t worry about the extra protein in those foods. You can go over on protein, just don’t make it a daily habit.
You’ve gotta hit your fat totals, though. Or you can take the advice I gave my client and make a ginormous salad with cheese and ranch. Green veggies, onions, peppers, broccoli, cauliflower, etc. are freebies. Eat as many as you like.
C. Problem: You’re short carbs.
JACKPOT! Time for some fun! This never happens to me unless I consciously make room for it.
I love carbs and usually only eat them on training days. But if you’re short on carbs, reach for the good stuff!
Low-fat ice cream, sorbet, cereal, a bagel, whatever you wish. Rice Krispie Treats are a surprisingly good choice. Just be sure to track it – and be careful, too. Carb consumption stimulates further carb consumption. You don’t want to open Pandora’s box.
Some common foods I eat with the general macro amounts:
-Lean Meat. 100 grams of protein per pound. No other macros. Ground beef can vary. Keep in mind as fat percentage increases, protein amount decreases.
-Baked Potatoes. 75 grams of carbs per regular sized baked potato. No other macros.
-Apples. 20 grams of carbs per regular sized apple. No other macros.
-Bananas. 30 grams of carbs per regular sized banana. No other macros.
-Eggs. 6 grams of protein, 5 grams of fat per egg.
-Cottage cheese. 25-30 grams of protein per cup. Trace carbs and fat.
6. Meal suggestions.
I get lots of questions about what I eat. There’s a few go-to meals I use and I vary them over the course of the week to keep some variety in my meals.
A. Tuna salad – 3 cans of light chunk tuna in water, 2 spoonfuls of regular mayo, 5 slices of American cheese. 100 grams of protein, 50ish grams of fat, no carbs.
B. Stir-fries – one pound lean ground beef, broccoli, peppers, onions, light sprinkling of shredded cheese, seasoning. 100 grams of protein, 30ish grams of fat, no carbs.
C. Training day lunch – 8 ounces of ham on bread, one apple. 50 grams of protein, 50 grams of carbs, trace fat. ( I save my fat for dinner on training days.)
D. Chicken fajitas – one pound of chicken cooked in coconut oil, one pepper, one onion, fajita seasoning packet, shredded cheese over top. 100 grams protein, 40 grams of fat, trace carbs.
E. Chili. Make as preferred, axe the beans. (too many carbs) A great choice, especially in winter. Around 100 grams of protein and the fat content varies based on the leanness of the beef used.
These are just a few of my regular meals I use. Feel free to use them or find your own preferences if you wish. Again, the meal creations get easier over time.
Nailing your numbers is a skill. Recall from my own journey that it took me a year and a half to truly figure it out and dial it in. Hopefully I can continue to help you get there just a little bit sooner.
7. You put the weight on slowly. It should come off just as slowly.
When starting out, you will probably see a decent drop in weight in the first two weeks. This is due to glycogen depletion in your cells, water weight being shed due to reduced carbohydrate consumption, and a general emptying of stomach content.
Just because you lose 6 pounds in the first two weeks doesn’t mean that sort of weight loss will be linear over time.
The most you can hope for is 1-2 pounds per week. Nearly all of us put the weight on at a much slower pace than that.
Just remember: This is not a diet. This is not a gimmick. This is not a fad. This is a real, genuine way to change your life and set you up for success. Forever.
If you lose one pound per week, that’s 52 pounds in the first year. Not too shabby. And using this method, that weight will stay off forever. We will discuss how to monitor progress and make objective, rational decisions on how to continue with the diet.
We are going to take the guesswork out of this. No more vague goals. No more “eat less, move more” crapola. If the numbers are tracked, the variables are controlled, and compliance is top notch, you will lose the weight.