Not Your Average Fitness Article
If you have social media, you’re exposed to a constant feed of shiny, click-bait utopia where life is luxurious and abs are a cup of buttered coffee away. You may find this depressing, motivating or confusing. Personally, I find it rather amusing, but the real-world consequence is widespread misinformation, which only makes my job harder.
Before my enlightenment, I ate 6-8 meals a day, did cardio 6x a week, wrote all my workouts, carried Tupperware, had cheat meals, took loads of supplements and carried the highest body fat I ever had. I was doing everything that I was “supposed” to be doing yet I wasn’t anywhere near where I wanted to be. As I got older I dug into the science a little more and started to see the forest for the trees.
After people meet or train with me they often say, “You’re like the anti-fitness, you do the opposite of what everyone says.” If you aren’t familiar with any of my articles, I fast (sometimes for a whole day), don’t eliminate any specific foods from my diet, don’t perform any real cardio, don’t obsess over minor details, don’t pretend there’s only one way to do things and take zero supplements (minus whey protein here and there).
This wasn’t necessarily my goal but as Arnold once said, “The worst thing I can be is the same as everybody else.” I grew up reading the hilariously wrong muscle magazines, falling for supplement hype and hoping the 6 hour arm workout would give me the extra inch on my arms it promised.
As I learned more, I realized people aren’t really searching for the truth. They want the Lamborghini but they’d prefer winning the lotto over having to work for it. And who wouldn’t? The basics are boring, tedious and don’t over-promise – but they work. So let’s get back to the basics.
1.) Exercise isn’t necessary for weight loss
This means that you can achieve weight/fat loss without exercising. Now, is that the healthiest, most optimal way? No. Exercise + Diet has shown to be most effective for overall changes and maintaining those changes. But it helps you put diet into perspective. You now no longer have to ask, “Do I have to run to lose weight?”
Your body is smarter than you. Go run and burn 600 calories. Chances are you will spend extra time sitting/laying that day and eating more to help balance this out, leaving you right back where you started. These are called compensatory mechanisms and its part of why the human body is so amazing and still here today.
Think of it like you’re digging a ditch. The dirt represents the calories you need to burn to lose weight. As long as you are digging with your shovel (diet), you can get the job done. If you want to help rid of some of the dirt (calories) faster, then you add a partner (exercise). However, if your partner (exercise) scoops the dirt but then throws it right back in the ditch (compensatory eating), you won’t get anywhere.
Don’t believe me? Weep over these studies while you read.
– “Effect of 6-month calorie restriction on biomarkers of longevity, metabolic adaptation, and oxidative stress in overweight individuals: a randomized controlled trial ” – This study compared – control group, calorie restriction (CR), calorie restriction + exercise (CREX), or very low calorie diet (LCD). The groups that restricted calories lost the most. Dieting for the win! Here’s the graph.
- “Food intake and body composition in novice athletes during a training period to run a marathon.” This study followed people prepping for a marathon for 18 months (no diet intervention), the men lost a very small amount of weight and the women “showed no change in body composition over the 18-month training period.”
- “Effects Of Combined Strength And Endurance Training On Physical Performance And Biomarkers Of Healthy Young Women.” – 9 weeks of exercise (but no dietary intervention), had beneficial effects (increased muscle, lower cholesterol, etc) but no real change in weight loss.
- “Changes in Weight, Waist Circumference and Compensatory Responses with Different Doses of Exercise among Sedentary, Overweight Postmenopausal Women.” – After exercise these participants ate more than normal thus limiting their weight loss. If you’re going to dig the ditch, don’t immediately refill it.
- “Why do individuals not lose more weight from an exercise intervention at a defined dose? An energy balance analysis.” – These participants overestimated how much they burned which then led them to think they could eat more. “Oh I worked out, I earned this ice cream.”
- “Constrained Total Energy Expenditure and Metabolic Adaptation to Physical Activity in Adult Humans .” – Energy expenditure plateaus after a given amount of exercise it appears.
2.) The amount of meals you eat per day means nothing.
Are you having anxiety thinking of skipping meals? Have you ever wondered why? Have you wondered why from a young age you are forced to finish your plate, never “go hungry” and often here people talk about how “starving” they are?
I don’t eat breakfast. Haven’t for7 years now. During that time is the leanest I’ve been my entire life. Does that mean it’s better than someone who gets lean a different way? Not at all. As a matter of fact, that only further proves the point I made above. I know people who have gotten in tremendous shape eating 1 meal or 8 meals per day. It. Doesn’t. Matter.
I’d suggest you read
3.) Protein won’t make you fat. Carbs won’t make you fat. Fat won’t make you fat.
No one type of food makes anyone fat. However, your overindulgence in total energy will.
Energy = calories
Fat = stored energy
The things above are made of calories. Sure there are intricate differences between the macronutrients (pro, carb, fat), but your body doesn’t really discriminate.
Too much energy (from any source), will make it impossible to lose weight. Too little will make it hard to hold weight. This is the pesky, non-sexy calorie balance that all those people who actually understand science and the human body talk about.
For more details on Macronutrients:
4.) Supplements aren’t even the icing on the cake, they’re the lettering used for a happy birthday (and it’s not your birthday).
You don’t need a single supplement to make progress. Absolutely nothing is dependent upon it. Not strength, fat loss, mobility or muscle gain. So unless you’ve exhausted all options and your diet/training are in check, don’t ask me about stupid raspberry ketones or whatever the latest thing a Kardashian is pushing.
I know it sounds appealing that the fantasy you are chasing might be impacted by swallowing a pill, but I assure you it’s not a necessity.
5.) You don’t need a cheat meal
If you look in the mirror and don’t like your body clearly you’ve been having cheat meals for years. When is enough, enough? I have things like french fries and chicken finger subs that you might consider a “cheat meal,” however, I don’t. Mainly for two reasons.
- It’s not planned and therefore I don’t have to attack it like I won’t see food again for a year.
- It’s just food. Yes, its higher calorie food but I will offset that with low calorie foods. Don’t label.
If you never allow yourself to have some foods you enjoy, this won’t last. If you have to count down the minutes to your next vomit-inducing stuff-fest every weekend to get through your diets, this won’t last either. Be a human. Eat food mainly to perform/fuel your life, not to indulge your every desire.
That’s all for today. I have to go back to my life of being the “anti-fitness” fitness guy and train on an empty stomach this morning while not rushing to have any carbohydrates right after.