Daily Fit Tip – 9/18/17 – How to Eat Junk Food Everyday and Still Lose Weight

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One of the persistent myths out there in the world of weight loss concerns “clean eating”. The idea is that in order to lose weight we need to eat like bodybuilders with our diet consisting entirely of minimally processed whole foods i.e. something that was recently alive or had a face. If someone had a Frappuccino every single day some people might think it’d be impossible to lose weight because you are eating something “bad” everyday.

But that’s nonsense. First of all, sugar isn’t what’s making you gain body fat. Eating over your maintenance calories is making you gain body fat. So long as you are in a slight calorie deficit it’s perfectly possible to have “junk food” everyday as part of a healthy lifestyle. So long as you account for the caloric load it is possible to have your mocha everyday.

However, I will say that if you are already a pretty lean person or happen to be a tiny woman your total caloric budget might be low enough such that it’s not necessarily advisable to drink your calories. The reason is that you’re “wasting” your calories on stuff that won’t fill you up. Feeling full and satisfied after eating calories is an important strategy in the quest to lose body fat because if you’re in a slight caloric deficit you’re likely going to be ever so slightly hungry. And if you’re drinking 600 calories of sugary sweet beverage everyday and your maintenance level is 1800 calories that might make it difficult to stay in a deficit will also managing your hunger level.

But the solution is to not try to eat totally “clean” 24/7. Nor is the solution to go crazy on “cheat days”. Just exercise a little bit of restraint and get the tall Frappuccino instead of the venti. Learn to manage your portion sizes and you will be able to indulge a little and reward yourself after your stressful day. Incorporating small rewards into your daily life will make the overall process of weight loss far more sustainable than trying to eat “clean” 24/7.

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The Simple Truth About Getting Shredded

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Do you want shredded abs? Who doesn’t? In this post I will explain exactly how to get shredded abs in TWO easy steps:

Step 1: Be in a calorie deficit

Step 2: Repeat Step 1 until you are shredded

That’s it. There’s no magic. No secret. No quick fix. No super food or detox or special exercise.

To get shredded abs you have to essentially lose a lot of body fat. It also helps to actually have muscular abs underneath your fat. But I promise, even if you never work out your “core”, if you lose enough body fat you will eventually get some semblance of that “shredded” look.

But I lied. Only Step 1 is easy. To get in a calorie deficit all you have to do is eat less or move more. But Step 2 is the hard part because the key to shredded abs is to make being in a calorie deficit sustainable for months, maybe years. Therein lies the rub. If you are in a calorie deficit for a sustained period of time you are probably going to be hungry. Being hungry sucks. So the key to Step 2 is to make it such that your hunger or satiation is manageable for months if not years. People often turn to low carb diets for this purpose because filling up on fats and protein tends to keep the hunger pains manageable while you are in a calorie deficit.

The other thing that happens in a sustained calorie deficit is that your metabolism adapts to being in a deficit and makes it harder and harder to maintain Step 2. It will slow down your metabolism and it will increase your appetite. Your body was designed by evolutionary processes to make it easy to gain weight and hard to lose weight. This makes perfect adaptive sense in an environment where food was hard to come by and you had to burn a lot of calories gathering or hunting food. Now we can walk down to the local gasmart and buy thousands of calories for a few bucks with very little calorie expenditure. So the very metabolic adaptations that once made it easier for us to survive are now making us fatter, month by month, year by year. The freshman 15 is actually just the starting point for the Western tendency to get a little bit fatter every year. Because of this very real metabolic adaptation it’s critical to take intermittent “diet breaks” or “refeeds” to reset our metabolism. There’s a whole art and science to this.

However, the nature of this adaptation makes it almost inevitable that people will yo-yo diet in and out of Step 2. They will be in a calorie deficit for a week or two, lose a few pounds (mostly water weight anyway). Then they get stressed or go out to eat with their friends, get tipsy, and stop at Taco Bell on the way home to devour a 1000 calorie meal along with 3 large sodas. The drunchies are real. Temptations are real. Not all of us have the drive or motivation necessary to be restrictive in our diets 24/7 for weeks and months. We have snacks in house, start a movie, and feel like it’d be freaking awesome to munch our way through the entire movie. Then we have a huge dinner and later icecream at 11pm because “we had a long day and we deserve it”. The realities of our modern food environment make it such that we have to avoid temptation all day long. You’ve been doing awesome with your calories that day but then Carol from work brings in donuts from your favorite local gourmet donut shop. What do you do? You eat one. Then another. Then 3 hours later you sneak back in to see if there’s more left.

Not to mention how hard to is to even determine accurately whether you are in a calorie deficit since tracking calories is notoriously difficult. Nutrition labels are inaccurate, digestion absorption rates are variable, individual differences abound, and weighing out food precisely is a pain in the ass. Not to mention it’s difficult to sustain the habit of calorie counting for the months and years necessary to get shredded.

So the odds are stacked against you getting absolutely shredded, let alone in 12 weeks like so many personal trainers promise. If it was easy to get shredded abs everyone would have them. But it’s hard. Really fucking hard. You have to want it. Really bad. So bad that you are willing to sacrifice your social life and earn the scorn of your family, friends, and co-workers. You have to become that “crazy fitness person” who cares more about their sixpack than having a good time.

But the good news is that the principles behind getting shredded are absolutely basic and easy to follow: get in a calorie deficit and stay there. But the devil is in the details. I haven’t even begun to talk about the importance of developing and retaining muscle mass through strength training, which is super important. If you just starve yourself and do cardio all day you’re going to lose a lot of muscle along with fat which will slowly make it harder and harder to maintain the calorie deficit because your metabolism will be shit. So we not only have to be on point with our nutrition we have to find the time in our busy days to consistently hit the gym or workout for months or years. Like I said: it’s hard work. Real hard.


There’s a reason fitness models get paid to be fitness models: they have to basically spend their whole existence focusing on nutrition and fitness and even they don’t stay super shredded year round. It’s not even that healthy to have super low body fat percentages anyway (especially for women). So why are we so obsessed with abs? Why this cultural fixation on being absolutely shredded? My hypothesis is that it’s the rarity or novelty factor that largely drives it. Getting ripped abs is so difficult to achieve that those who do get them instantly stand out for it and are thus seen as desirable. But of course we all know that ideas about who or what counts as “hot” vary from time period to time period, culture to culture.

I hope this post illustrates both the simplicity of getting shredded and the complexity of taking that simplicity and making it sustainable for months and years. Good luck!

This week’s progress – May 19, 2017

This week has been really, surprisingly good. Almost too good?

Stats last Friday:
– 171 lbs

-BF% on Omron monitor: 22.7%

Stats this morning:

-164.8 lbs

-BF% on Omron monitor: 22%

That’s a pretty large difference. Not sure what the explanation is other than losing water weight since according to My Fitness Pal I should be losing only about 2 lbs of fat a week at 1540 calories a day. My sodium intake has been fluctuating a lot but otherwise my diet this week was super consistent – I chalk it up to the “whoosh effect“.

Macros: 38%P / 41%F / 21% C

Average daily sugar intake: 27g

I have also been really good at hitting my caloric number daily. I strive for 1540 exactly instead of 1000 one day and 2000 the next day. I feel like the more consistent I am at hitting 1540 the better my results. But if I go over on work-out days it’s not a big deal because I know I am burning a good amount of calories. I am not eating back any of my calories burnt from exercise.

My lifts in the gym have been pretty good. Numbers:

Squat: 175×5

Bench: 95×5

Deadlift: 175 x 5

These are all improvements over last week.

Overall my energy is good. I use intermittent fasting to control my satiety i.e. if I compress my eating window mainly to the afternoon/evening 1540 calories with my macros leaves me usually feeling stuffed by the time I go to bed. The only time I’m hungry is when I’m fasting the morning but that’s to be expected. It’s amazing what chicken breast and veggies can do to satiate you – a 99g chicken breast fillet is 100 calories yet leaves me really satisfied especially if I have it with some ranch. Add in 150 calories of veggies in microwaveable steam-fresh bags and that’s a great meal to satisfy me. In contrast, my gf ate a 750 calorie mini-pizza yesterday but afterwards told me she was still hungry (not implying my gf is unhealthy – far from it – she just isn’t as strict with her diet as me because she has different aesthetic goals atm).

Back on track

After hurting my right shoulder back in April I am finally back on track in the gym. I have two different workouts: A and B. A involves squats, bench, rows and a bunch of accessories and B involves squats, deadlifts, overhead press, and a bunch of accessories. The workout is never exactly the same depending on how I am feeling, how busy the gym is, and what equipment is available. Although I am using progressive overload since I am on a cut it is difficult. Currently I am going more for strength in the 5 rep range.

I am working on being consistent with my diet and tracking my calories more accurately. I bought an Omron BF % monitor to use as a progress marker. It currently puts me at around 23% bodyfat which actually seems pretty accurate. Actual weight loss is slow but I definitely see body composition changes in the mirror. The diet is the hardest part. My belly fat is very, very stubborn. I have been sticking with a mixture of low carb/low sugar and maintaining a steady caloric deficit. Will this make me lean? I hope so. I’ve looked up the diet plans for bikini competitors and my diet is not too far off from theirs. I definitely wanna get that Omron number under 20% and see what that looks like.

In other news, I am taking my CPR/AED certification class tomorrow. My studying for the NASM exam is going very well. I took the practice test and got an 80%. I feel like I know the material pretty well. But I am going to keep studying – not in an immediate rush to schedule the exam. But I am feeling more and more confident. I’m also pretty sure I know which training company I want to apply for – it’s a local personal training management company that works with the local gym chain I go to. It seems within my grasp. I am definitely excited about starting the path towards being a fitness professional.

Setback

I have a history of dislocating my right shoulder. I’ve dislocated it three times in the past. The first time I needed the doctors to put it in for me but the second and third times I put it in myself. The second time I had to use a sling for a week or two. The third time was not very traumatic and it popped back in quickly – I was mildly sore for a few days after but I restricted its use and it went back to normal

Today, I dislocated it again – attempting to learn how to do the turkish get-up with a kettlebell. It wasn’t very traumatic and popped back in easily. But it still hurts a little with certain movements. My range of motion is still pretty good. But I am definitely going to stop everything involving the shoulders until it heals.  At least a couple weeks.

Which makes me frustrated with myself. I should have known better. Frustrated that I didn’t go slower in doing shoulder work knowing that I have a history of dislocation. Frustrated that I didn’t know my own limits. Frustrated that right when I’m trying to get back into the swing of things I injure myself. I ordered some therabands to do some basic physio exercises with my shoulder – the same things I was originally ordered to do by a physio when I first dislocated it real bad back in college. For those interested, here is a good free resource for shoulder dislocation rehab that my physio recommended way back when.

I already focus mainly on the legs and glutes anyway so I will just continue to do that as well as some more cardio.

But oh well – it gives me a good excuse to really focus on my diet anyway. If I can’t see gains in the gym at least I can strive for making strives with my waistline. I’ve lost about in inch from my waist already in the past couple weeks while staying at relatively the same weight.

My philosophy when it comes to diet and nutrition is maximal adherence. While it might be “optimal” nutritionally to do a lot of at-home cooking to make the healthiest and most delicious food with the best fresh ingredients – anything that involves a lot of prep work is not going to be something I can stick to for weeks at a time, day in, day out. For me it’s gotta be super easy with prep work lasting mere minutes with 2-4 ingredients or preferably just popping it in the microwave or eating it out of the fridge/pantry. Or just making a protein shake.

This means spending more money too since for me maximal adherence means buying frozen grilled chicken rather than raw chicken breast because when I’m lazy, which is all the time, I can just pop a fillet in the microwave and, bam, 21g of lean protein for a mere 110 calories. Or making eggs in the microwave instead of the stovetop. You get the point. Maximal adherence means less binging, less cheating, less straying from my plan. I’m also one of those people who can eat the same thing everyday and not get bored.

Another tenant of my current diet routine is to eat the foods that are easiest to determine the calories with minimal estimation. A consequence of this is that I tend to eat only food that comes prepackaged with a calorie estimate. I know there can be a 20% variance but I severely doubt my ability to e.g. make a chili from scratch and accurately track my calories each meal. I trust what’s on the package way more than my own ability to estimate foods. I just don’t have the time or energy for that. So I try to strike a balance between “clean” and “mildly clean” eating. It’s not the perfect diet. But it’s not horrible either. And it’s really really easy to follow. For me at least.