Enter “how to lose weight” or “how to get ripped” and you’ll get millions of different answers when it comes to dieting. Albeit, most of them will preach the same, but sound, principles you’ll have to trawl through piles of gimmicks and grift before you can imbibe from the unadulterated truth.
I strangely pride myself on having made probably every fitness mistake in the book.
Having said that, what didn’t kill me made me stronger and I learned from my experiences.
And dieting has been my toughest field.
While some people can dial down perfect diets and programs a lot faster than others, my negative — and fruitless — experiences made me the man I am today.
But still, though, it would’ve been nice to have not screwed up so much in my first few years in the gym.
Follow These When Dieting — PLEASE
1: Calories in, calories out.
Barring a severe metabolic problem, most people need to be in a prolonged calorie deficit to lose weight — none of these funny, yet spurious macronutrient calculations that so-called dieting “gurus” profess.
Calories in, calories out: nothing more — the essence of dieting.
Unfortunately, some people don’t like to hear of the crippling simplicity of the laws of thermodynamics.
Myself included when I was a n00b. I actually thought that tracking protein consumption was redudant. Oh, how wrong I was!
While I’d shovel at least 1000 calories of protein a day, I’d be mystified if I couldn’t shift much poundage.
After all, I was only getting 2000 calories a day–in carbs and fats.
But part of my anti-calorie delusion also stemmed from trying to out-cardio a bad diet.
This has now become our number one dieting rule.
Think about it, you hear about top athletes slamming 8,000 calories a day to recover from their several hours of hard cardio per day.
Not the kind of dieting you’d wish to follow.
Granted, at the time, I did a lot of cardio, but nowhere near as much as these athletes.
Trying to out-cardio a bad diet is also a losing battle.
That’s why six-packs are made in the kitchen; it’s a lot easier to eat at a deficit by either eating less or more less-calorie-dense alternatives.
2: Slow and Steady Wins the race
As a serial yo-yo dieter for a diverse range of reasons from cutting for a lad’s holiday, to a rugby game, a birthday, special occasion, etc, I’d torture myself to lose as much fat as humanly possible when dieting, only to gain it back in a matter of days.
What’s more, I’d lose tons of strength and feel like absolute dog poo while striving to get lean.
I wish I was told to milk as much fat loss at a comfortable caloric intake for as long as possible before lowering calories or increasing cardio.
If you’re natural, you have FAR less wriggle room in lowering your calories. You don’t want to wake up one day to find yourself plateauing at 1700kcals and 2 hours of cardio a day.
You should never have to be going to such extreme lengths to get lean–unless you’re shredding for a show or a shoot. You can attain an admirable physique by never even getting close to such a drastic deficit.
3: With Booze, You Lose
At a whopping 7 kcals a gram of alcohol, those hazy nights out can pack on thousands of calories as you’re supposedly dieting.
Think about it: 10 pints of lager beer are around 2500-3000 kcals then don’t forget shots, mixers, snacks, and the pizza/kebab/burger before bed — and the pizza/kebab/burger you’ll be tempted to shovel down the following day. On top of this, beers high in hop content can wreak havoc on a man’s estrogen production.
Besides, your athletic performance will falter for several days after the night out, lowering your potential for growth or fat loss.
That’s not, to say, don’t have a glass of red wine with a meal or a nice glass of whiskey by the fireside; but make sure to track these extraneous calories which have a nasty habit of creeping up when you’re dieting.
4: Track your damn calories
It’s not that hard, really, but you’d be surprised how sneaky calories can take you over your planned deficit.
Sauces, condiments, little nibbles here and there all add up.
Eyeballing your food, especially if you’re an amateur, rarely works. More experienced lifters can pinpoint their daily calories with significantly more accuracy, but novices can misjudge their caloric intake by several hundred calories–which can spell disaster.
In my first few years of lifting, I’d eat a ton of cheese because I figured it had loads of protein. It does, but it also has loads of fat. My goal was to be under 3000 calories a day, but I was close to 4000-5000 in hindsight, instead.
I’m not telling you to eat nothing but chicken, brown rice, and broccoli for as long as you live; you can be more creative.
Other seasoned bodybuilders have published cookbooks to spice up your cuisine so that your diet isn’t like watching paint dry.
Further, the more muscle you gain, the more you can eat calorie-wise, which also allows you the luxury to relax a little if life gets in the way.
5: It’s a Lifestyle, not a Trend
A good physique is something you attain, not obtain.
With my abundant experience with yo-yo dieting, it’s a lot harder to lose weight sustainably than to put it on frivolously.
One of the best tips I could ever give to lose weight is to never get fat in the first place — which has also become another of our fundamental dieting rules!
But it takes a lifestyle overhaul to ensure that you stay at a decent weight that you can maintain!
Very few people can sit at a sub-10% year round–let alone natty.
From what I hear, you’re constantly hungry, tired, moody, irritable–not a place to be.
Losing weight slowly, at a rate of 0.5-1lb a week is easy and sustainable.
Although it can be frustrating at times, I can assure you it’s far healthier and you won’t lose a ton of gains either.
If you’re at 30% bodyfat and wanting to flaunt a 12% bodyfat physique for a holiday in 2 months time, it’s not going to happen.
Why not slowly lose 6lb before then, maintain your weight on holiday, and by the time next year’s holiday comes around, you’ll be at your goal weight–provided you haven’t gone off the rails.
All good things come to those who wait.
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