Diet and training.
They need to be taken as two separate entities. However, the way they coexist is such a beautiful thing. I used to see them as one, whole package: dietandexercise. While they should be taken into consideration as a package, they need to be handled as individual bodies. In the gym, get your training right. In the kitchen, get your diet right.
Yet another reason why cardio might not be optimal for everyone. Cardio is an attempt to directly alter your diet. Think about it: You are “crossing the streams”. (Had to throw a Ghostbusters reference in there….) You are using cardiovascular exercise as a vehicle to artificially lower your caloric intake by “burning” or “sweating” off calories.
First off, any pounds you “sweat off” will be placed right back on you when you drink your first glass of water. And there’s a good chance the amount you “burned” isn’t as much as you think. Those calorie counters at the gym? They overestimate by CLOSE TO 100%! If it says you burned 500 calories, it’s probably more like 250. And studies have shown that people who do “cardio” tend to treat themselves to indulgences later in the day. Partially due to increased hunger and partially due to thinking they have “earned” their reward.
You are not a dog. Stop rewarding yourself with food.
Change your mindset. You eat a certain food because it’s on your plan. You don’t eat other foods because they are not on your plan.
You don’t eat because you were “good”, or you “deserve it”, or your mother-in-law made it, or for any other reason.
Lean, fit bodies don’t just happen by accident. They happen because you want them to happen, you have planned for them to happen, and you were consistent in your application of logical practices to make them happen.
So, you’re diligently tracking your food, you’re bustin’ the ol’ hump at the gym, and you need to see if it’s working. In the next article, we will discuss what to do after you decide if it’s working or not.
First off, let’s discuss some problems with the top two ways people track their progress:
1. The scale.
Scales can be very deceiving. I’m not saying they are completely unnecessary. They are a great way to track progress over time.
However, there are some limitations which must be discussed.
If you’re one of those people who jumps on it every morning, hoping for a number lower than the previous day, this diet will drive you bonkers. There are very large weight fluctuations over the course of the week.
Think about it: Your calorie amounts vary from day to day. Your macronutrients vary from day to day. Carbs are varied, and carbs bring around 4 grams of water intake for every gram consumed.
If you’re going to use the scale, you’re better off using it once per week at the same time.
Maybe you choose Sundays before bed. Or Monday mornings. Or Fridays before you start your workout.
But once per week, at the same time and in the same conditions.
4-5 pound fluctuations are very common. Especially if you weigh yourself after training and consuming a good amount of carbs.
2. The mirror.
Same as with number 1, your body will look different at different points of the week due to the variances in macronutrients and the condensing of smallish meals into larger ones.
You will tend to look the best in the morning and the worst at night before bed.
If you have a large amount of weight to lose, it may discourage you that your man-boobs don’t disappear overnight.
If you have 80 pounds to lose, a 20-pound weight loss might not be visible.
The mirror is one of the most subjective tools we have in the dieting world. Being subjective is what got us to where we are. No more being vague. We are going to be exact and precise when we measure progress. We are going to be OBJECTIVE.
There are two different components to this system: the diet and the training. So, let’s discuss how we objectively measure each component.
A. The diet. Measure the diet by tracking body measurements with a tape measure.
A regular, cloth tape measure will work fine, but you may need help. I recommend the “Orbitape”.
For about $5, it’s specially designed for bodybuilders and it can quickly and easily measure body parts without the need for outside help.
When taking measurements, 6 spots will suffice – 1/2 – Each bicep, taken flexed, at largest point. 3. Chest – Males- measured flexed, at the nipples. Females – taken under the armpits. 4. Belly – measured at the button, flexed but not “sucked in”. 5/6 – Each quadricep (thigh), taken flexed, at largest point.
Measure these body parts once every two weeks, taken at the same time and under the same conditions.
You will feel strange and unsure of how to do this at first. You will be doubtful of your accuracy.
Simply do the best you can and be consistent. You don’t need to worry much about a two-week change.
There won’t be much of one, generally.
But over 12 weeks, you can surely see if you’ve lost a few inches or not.
We want to ensure that what we have lost is fat. And we do that by keeping our protein up, our cardio down, our training heavy, and we make sure we also monitor…………………..
B. The training. Measure the training by tracking your workouts and analyzing them.
Strength decreases are a huge indication of muscle loss. In general, the more fat you have, the less likely you are to lose muscle.
When in a calorie deficit, your body will pull its energy from either muscle or fat. And it will pull the muscle or fat in the ratios it is present in the body.
Therefore, if you are obese, your fat will be pulled first since you have more of it.
The training, while certainly an important element of this system, is not as important for individuals with lots of weight to lose.
It is way more important to those who are around 20% and are trying to get down to 10% – which is the point where your abs start to become visible.
Keep in mind that exercises vary in their ability to increase or maintain strength while on a diet.
You will probably be able to increase your deadlift and your squat numbers while on a diet.
Bench press and shoulder press will be damn near impossible to improve while dieting. Especially bench press.
Think about it: You’d better be touching the bar to your chest. If you’re not, then it’s not considered a real repetition.
And if your chest is getting SMALLER, the distance you have to move the bar is getting LARGER.
Decreases in bench press while on a diet for seasoned lifters are common and totally acceptable.
Perhaps somewhere in the neighborhood of a 10-15% decrease in weight.
Use a 1-RM calculator online if you’d like to get an idea of how much you can do once. That way you can compare your starting numbers to your current numbers.
Hopefully this post will help you to measure progress more effectively. And once you measure and have your objective, rational evidence, you can begin to make a decision based on your results – not your emotions.
Stay tuned to our next Lesson, which will be on which variables to manipulate and which ones need to be left alone.