Put your hand up if you're trying to burn fat, but it's not going so well.
Lots of hands. Ok...
Now, put your hand up if your nutrition strategy is to "try and eat better."
*All the same hands go up*
Just what I thought.
If you put your hand up, you're not alone. Most people struggle to get lean. But it's no coincidence that the same people who struggle are also the ones who's entire strategy is to "try and eat better."
The question is, why is simply "eating better" such a poor strategy? I mean, if you eat healthier food, you should lose fat, right?
The problem is, the strategy is so poorly defined, there's no way to measure whether or not you're actually doing it.
What does "eating better" really mean?
How much junk?
What's considered junk?
What foods will you be eating instead?
There are too many questions left unanswered, which means you have too much room to eat whatever you'd like and easily convince yourself that you're "eating better."
What you need is a clearly defined restriction.
It needs to be clearly defined so you know exactly whether or not you're following your strategy.
And it needs to be a restriction because, despite what we all wish were true, in order to lose fat we need to eat fewer calories.
How exactly you achieve this? This is what we're covering today.
Here are 3 clearly defined strategies to take your fat loss to the next level.
At the end of the day, fat loss comes down to energy balance.
Put another way, it's about the calories coming in (via your mouth) vs the calories going out (via exercise, metabolism, and daily life).
To burn fat, you need to eat fewer calories than you burn. How many you should eat depends on the person, but generally speaking, 300-500 below what you'd need to maintain your body weight is a good target.
One of the most effective ways to make sure you're eating the right amount of calories is to track your meals.
Now, I know this sounds like a pain in the ass, but it's actually a short cut. Apps like MyFitnessPal make it fast and easy. And it beats the hell out of the frustration caused by mediocre results.
Click here to learn more about the importance of energy balance for fat loss: 7 Nutrition Myths You Need to Know
One more note: If you're going to track calories, you might as well track protein.
Eating enough protein is challenging, but it's an absolute game changer when it comes to transforming your body.
It's going to...
Learn more about how protein will change the entire game here: How to Add a Massive Edge to Your Fat Loss Nutrition.
We went over this strategy a couple posts ago. But I'm mentioning it again because it works and it's worth mentioning again.
Here's a solid intermittent fasting strategy in a nutshell:
So, you eat two meals each day, which means those meals can be huge, while still not over eating.
For example, if your goal is to eat 1600 calorie/ day, each of your meals will be 800 calories. Those are big, satisfying meals, which makes it easier to stay on track.
You also eliminate snacking, which means you eliminate mindless grazing.
And finally, the black coffee in the morning will blunt your appetite, making it easier to push back your first meal by a few hours.
Go Low Carb
I almost hate to include this one.
Not because it's not a viable strategy.
But the last thing I want to do is feed into the idea that carbs are in any way "bad."
But, the fact is, reducing carb intake makes it harder to overeat.
Carbs, particularly processed ones, tend to spark hunger and cravings. By reducing them, and replacing them with fat and protein, blood sugar stabilizes, and so does hunger and cravings along with it.
Do carbs make you fat? No.
More on that here: Why Carbohydrates Aren't as Bad as You Think
But they should be used as a tool. Here are a couple considerations when choosing your carbs:
1) Keep the sources high-quality- Things like fruit, veggies, potatoes/sweet potatoes, oatmeal, and rice are a great way to go.
2) Eat them at the right time- if you're going to eat carbs, eat a good chunk of them in the meal following your workouts, when your body is primed to use them for recovery and muscle-building purposes.
Now, here's the real 'magic' behind eating low carb...
By reducing your carb intake, you eat less junk food and more protein by default. And that is a gigantic step in the right direction.
So, to summarize, carbs aren't bad. But reducing them is a viable fat loss strategy that will work for many.
Now, you can do all of these strategies if you like. Or you can do just one.
What really matters here is, your fat loss strategy moves from...
"I'm just trying to eat better."
To a clearly defined strategy.
This shift will make all the difference.
Lets talk about building some rock hard muscle.
Here's a technique that's an incredibly effective muscle-builder. But before we get to it, it's important I let you know one of the key ingredients to building muscle in the first place.
A muscular physique is one of those things in life that's reserved for a rare few. Simply put, it's not for everyone.
Don't get me wrong. Almost everyone is capable of building it. But the reason so few will is because it requires you to do hard shit.
I don't know if you've noticed, but most people don't like doing hard shit. Which means most people won't build any appreciable muscle
But, this doesn't apply to you, so let's continue.
The method I'm showing you today is called the "350 Method," and it was created by a Coach named Paul Carter (<- link to his Instagram. He's worth a follow).
It's every bit as nasty as it is effective (but we like to do hard shit, so...)
It goes like this:
The "3" in "350" stands for the number of sets you'll do. And the "50" stands for how many reps you're trying to get, total, across all 3 sets.
So, to start out, pick a weight you can get around 20 reps with.
Set 1- do as many reps as you can, likely around 20. Rest 60 secs.
Set 2- Get as many reps as you can, likely 15-20. Rest 60 secs.
Set 3- Get the remainder of the 50 reps, or as close as you possible can.
If you got all 50 reps, increase your weight the following week. If you didn't, stick with that weight and try again next week.
This is a quick and dirty way to spark some solid muscle growth.
When to use it:
This is a great technique to use for your 2nd and/or 3rd exercise of the day. The perfect compliment to your main exercise.
But be warned- it burns. It burns all the way down to your soul.
Oh, and if you're serious about building that killer physique, The Lion of Olympus is the plan that will get you there.
5 months of well planned and engaging workouts, a muscle-building nutrition guide, and the 'Science of Muscle' mini course will have you making the best gains possible.
The Lion of Olympus Training Program
And when you grab your copy, make sure to send me an email and let me know.
Let's talk about getting ripped.
Now, in order to have that lean, chiseled look so many of us are after, we need to burn some fat.
And in order to burn fat, we need to do a few key things. The most crucial of which is eating in a caloric deficit (eating fewer calories than we burn).
It works like this:
When you eat more calories than you burn, you gain weight.
If you eat roughly the same amount of calories that you burn, your weight stays the same.
And if you eat fewer calories than you burn, your body needs to make up for that lack of energy another way. Ideally, by burning up your body fat stores. And this is how you lose fat.
Simple. But there's a problem.
For some of us, a big problem.
It's called Hunger.
Your body doesn't want to burn that excess body fat. It wants to stay the same- the same amount of body fat, and the same amount of food.
So when it notices there aren't as many calories coming in, it lets you know in the form of hunger.
"Eat more food, you asshole." it says.
"I've got homeostasis to maintain ova heaa."
(I imagine your body talks with a hardcore Jersey accent)
And quite frankly, hunger can make a fool of us all. Derailing more attempts at a lean, chiseled physique than almost anything else.
But there is hope. And that hope comes in the form of two strategies that I've used successfully with my 1-1 Clients for years.
Check 'em out.
Strategy #1: Manage Your Hunger
There are a few tweaks you can make to your diet that will do a great job of snuffing out that hunger.
The first is...
Eat Plenty of Protein
0.8-1g of protein per pound of body weight (or more, if you're feeling like a rockstar).
Now, getting enough protein is a challenge, mainly because it's incredibly satiating. It fills you up and keeps you full. Which is the same reason it keeps hunger away so effectively.
Protein is the game changer.
If a lean body is your goal, and you're not getting enough protein, that's your new mission, should you choose to accept it.
Eat Plenty of Fiber
Protein keeps you full. Fiber keeps you full.
But the two of them together is an unstoppable duo.
Eat more fruits, veggies, beans, lentils, and sweet potatoes, . Better yet, include them in the same meal as your protein source (beef, poultry, pork, etc).
And one more point worth noting about veggies: you can eat a LOT of veggies without adding many calories at all. Eat them until you'e blue in the face. You'll have a full stomach, plus a host of other benefits.
Caffeine can be found in the nectar of the gods (coffee), which is reason enough to drink it.
But as an added benefit, it also suppresses your appetite (and increases your metabolic rate, and the thermogenic effect of food. Read more on that here).
So, as if you needed another reason to love coffee, there you go.
Strategy #2: Embrace the Fact that You'll Be Hungry Sometimes
There are some who can get lean, and never deal with hunger.
But that's rare.
For most of us, it's just a necessary part of the process.
You can nail all the strategies above, but sometimes you're going to deal with some hunger.
And when you do, how you view it will make all the difference.
When most people feel hunger, they see it as a problem. Something to be fixed.
"Maybe I should eat. Clearly, my body is telling me something."
But here's the funny thing about hunger. It's not great at telling you when, or how much you should eat...
...but it is good at telling you when, and how much you usually eat.
Which means, if you ate enough food to gain excess body fat, eating less than that will likely trigger a hunger response.
It doesn't mean you're starving and need food. It just means your body is letting you know you normally eat a little more.
So, let's re frame how we look at hunger.
Instead of seeing it as something wrong, embrace it, because it means you're on the road to a leaner body.
Welcome the challenge with open arms.
Enjoy any discomfort that comes with the process.
And if you happen to be one of the lucky ones who doesn't experience hunger while losing fat, embrace that too.
This past Friday, Facebook reminded me of a pivotal moment in my past by hitting me with the picture below.
Some of you know this story, but for those that don’t, here’s the summary:
In my early 20’s I was a personal trainer and self-medicating partier.
Blackout drunk 4+ nights per week, completely out of control.
This went on for a couple years. I thought I was just having fun. Hindsight tells me I was escaping reality, running from myself, ditching my responsibility as a man and a human.
It came to a head one night after a couple pieces of bad news from back home.
I got blackout drunk, got in my tiny Hyundai Tiburon, and got on the highway with the pedal to the floor.
I hit a guardrail, rolled the car over multiple times, and ended up on my roof.
Not only did I not die. I didn’t even get injured. To this day I can’t fathom how that’s possible based on the condition of the car.
The next day I got fired from my job (hey, I would have fired me too).
And I’m officially at the lowest point of my life. Any confirmation I needed that I was a screw up, I had it in spades.
I spent the next year or so floundering, going nowhere.
Then my parents had the idea that I go to firefighting academy. So, I did. I came down to Texas for the first time and did the 3 month academy.
This was exactly what I needed. The structure, the challenges, the camaraderie, the discipline that was drilled into my head. I soaked it up, as if I was starving for it.
Though I worked as a firefighter for a few years after that, I didn’t pursue it long term.
Instead, I found my way back to where I’m meant to be (in fitness).
But this training academy was one of the most pivotal and most important times of my life.
I don't know where you're at right now. Whether you're in a tough spot, or if there are just a couple things you'd like to improve.
But the truth is, it doesn't matter how many pieces your life is currently in. It's mind-blowing how much can change with a simple, but dedicated decision.
And here's where the rubber meets the road...
Everybody wants to make a positive change or two.
Very few decide to make them.
(Be one of the rare few who does)
"Man, I hate these." My early-morning client said as he finished up a set of walking lunges.
"I know man. But they're going to build you a heroic ass and quads."
He and I train at the perfect time. Halfway through his workout, the sun starts to peak up over the hills across the river and flood the studio.
"So, if you get a DWI, how long do you have to wait before you can go to Canada?" he asked.
"I'm not sure...they take them pretty seriously up there."
He has a buddy that wants to go to Quebec City for a vacation, but he isn't sure when he'll be allowed in the country, since he has a DWI on his record. A stupid mistake that will follow you around forever.
After exchanging a few thoughts on the stupid things we did when we were younger, I let him in on a fun fact about myself.