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Posts tagged with “fatloss

A must read: Fundamental Principles vs. Minor Details


This is a must read.  It’s why I often see less-than-intelligent “bros” from achieve great transformations, and detail-obsessed geeks from Reddit, Fitblr, etc. (who are no doubt, super knowledgeable about the science behind fitness) fail in their journey.  I’ve admittedly been one of these guys in the past.

Sometimes the advantage of having so much information at our fingertips is what ends up getting in the way of our progress.

(via talenstraining-deactivated20130)

Progress: The Next Iteration

December 2011 - March 2012

More recently (“flexed”/dramatic lighting!)

previous progress posts

The last few months have been interesting for me, to say the least. I am in my second semester of graduate school and it’s a much more challenging experience compared to my first semester. 

I’ve kept blog posts short and mostly posting to twitter, but I’ve wanted to share my progress and haven’t had the time to sit down and organize my train of thought.

At the end of last summer/beginning of last fall, I was beginning to experiment with intermittent fasting and LeanGains to see what effects they would have on my body’s composition. I was pleased with the effects but my understanding of macronutrient balancing and approximating maintenance calories was still not very clear, making my “game plan” inconsistent and frequently changing.

My experience with fat loss has been plagued with periods of wheel-spinning. In the very beginning, it was easy for me to see 2lb+ weight loss every week for several weeks. I wasn’t keeping track of why it was working, only happy that it was. I was also changing too many things at once, making it difficult to pinpoint what needed to be adjusted once progress began to slow down. In retrospect, I was probably doing more harm than good because I wasn’t taking any measures to preserve muscle mass and digging myself deeper into a hole by creating a larger deficit of carbs and calories (thinking this was the only way to continue progress).

In December, I decided to become part of JCDFitness’ Beta Recomposition program. This provided me with a structured set of macro/diet and training guidelines to follow and use to track progress. I’ll try not ramble on about the details, but it has taught me a lot about fat loss and tracking macro-nutrients instead of calories [1].

It also helped me take a more moderate approach to fat loss. Weight loss on a week to week basis wasn’t as pronounced and I had a very hard time detaching myself from on the number on the scale. Instead I had to go by what I saw in the mirror, how my clothes fit, and periodic tape measurements and I’m very glad I did.

Ooo, pretty graphs.

During this time, I also became more aware of how much performance in the gym is affected by the calories I eat. Too low and strength suffers, but as long as the goal is fat loss, maintaining strength is a good sign. I had some initial strength loss, but was able to maintain it while concentrating on the quality of each rep rather than worrying about increasing the weight during every session. 

Dieting hasn’t been difficult. Plenty of ice cream, Pop-Tarts, cereal, and peanut butter have been consumed with this cut, along with chicken breasts, eggs, cottage cheese, fruits, and pounds of fresh veggies [2]. Lately, however, I haven’t felt like I’m at 100% mentally and emotionally. The eating at a deficit on top stress caused by school and life sucks. Some days have been difficult for me to stay focused and I’ve had days where I felt weak and fragile (screw this, yo!). I naturally give myself a hard time over what needs to get done (whether it be in the gym, school, etc) and try to bust my ass to get there. So I can’t say I have any issues with motivation. 

So, here I am, ready to take a break from being #forevercutting by beginning a new iteration of self-experimentation: reverse dieting in hopes of finding my true maintenance and regaining some strength. We’ll see how it goes!


  1. Should I count Macros or Calories? via JCDFitness
  2. Easy Mode Dieting via TheSpartanWarrior
Wisdom & Wisecracks by Alan Aragon


  • The majority of health nuts will spend $100′s a month on useless supplements, but won’t spend a dime on actually educating themselves on the facts about the body.
  • I love it when I hear folks say that human adults weren’t meant to consume milk, much less the milk derived from a different animal species. Are you kidding me? So who gets to decide which parts of the cow we should consume? Let me get this straight–we can eat the cow’s muscles, but not the milk that laid the foundation for the growth of those same muscles? Huh? The logic is just too rock-solid for me.
  • Folks who carry the torch against milk consumption typically will have some degree of allergy or digestive intolerance to it, and they take the liberty to project their personal problems onto the world around them.  Go frolick in an organic wheatgrass field and spare us your self-righteous noise.
  • Keep your eyes on YOU. It’s fine to get inspired by others’ physiques, but you have to set your own personal standards. People tend to fixate on their weaknesses, while at the same time obsess over the strengths of others. That’s a surefire way to stay eternally frustrated. It’s a healthier approach to acknowledge your own strengths, and use them as benchmarks by which to bring up your weaknesses. Learn to give yourself a pat on the back for the improvements you make. Keep your eyes on YOU, don’t let the achievements of others dictate your obsessions.
  • March to your own beat. Everyone has advice to give, and it’s important to listen, but ultimately, you have to adapt and mold all advice to your own sensibilities. Although it’s not always easy, I try not to be inflexibly dogmatic about what I teach. In many cases, what’s known pales in comparison to the sprawling expanse of the unknown. Over time, you’ll get to know your body better than anyone else, and what some might sell as natural laws should really only be ideas or options to consider.
  • Training and nutritional programs pulled from the “experts” shouldn’t always be followed to the letter, especially for advanced trainees. Beginners without a clue may need to follow a script with zero deviation, since the alternative might be tripping over their own feet. But with more advanced trainees who have a more highly developed sense of individual response, there should always be a margin for personal intervention and adjustment. The best programs out there are at best good guidelines from which to morph better stuff for the individual situation.
  • Question fitness advice given to you by others. “Why” is one of the most powerful words you can put in your vocabulary. Investigating the reasoning behind the advice will often reveal that the answer is “just because”, rendering the advice anywhere from helpful, to dangerous, to just a plain waste of time and resources. I encourage my clients, students, and colleagues to question everyone’s advice, including mine. I firmly believe that the better you can sharpen your thinking, the better you can continue to sharpen your physique.
  • Scientific research is not bias-free. It’s not free of financial interests. It’s not free of study design flaws, and it’s not perfect. However, it’s the best tool that we have for getting closer to understanding the way the body works, the way that nature works. As imperfect as research is, it beats the hell out of hearsay and gym dogma.
  • Many folks into fitness & bodybuilding have this unproductive tendency to think in black & white extremes. They’ll scapegoat certain foods, while glorifying the magic bullets. They rarely see the integration of the various components that comprise the big picture.
  • Maintenance of a given level of progress is indeed a legitimate goal. In fact, people should consciously build plateau phases into their programs. Everyone hates to hear this, but the plateau phases should get progressively longer. When you step back and think about it, isn’t the ultimate goal a plateau of sorts? It makes good sense to give your body regular practice at maintaining. Everyone is so hell-bent on perpetually pressing forward with their goals, that it actually holds them back.
  • A major training mistake I’ve made in the past – one I think that we’ve all done – was to always go more by the numbers than by the feel, letting the numbers dictate the workout rather than letting the muscles do it. I was overly concerned with the quantitative awareness of load progression, rather than what one of my old training partners called finding the pump. This might be more of a bodybuilding thing than anything else, but people should work up to a point where they are indifferent towards the number stamped on the iron. This is particularly useful during maintenance phases, which are more flexible. Trainees should practice developing a sense of optimal resistance for the given goal of any set, even if you’re completely unaware of the actual weight. Blindfolded sensation-based training, so to speak.
  • Don’t be overly cheap with your time off from training. Athletes’ careers are notorious for being slow-motion train wrecks. There are 3 main ways your body lets you know that you need a break: Fatigue, illness, and injury. Fatigue is a bit more insidious, manifesting itself as persistent stalls or decreases in strength or endurance. Most trainees out there wallow in fatigue most of the time, which is a damn shame. Illness and injury are the classic agents of forced layoffs. The best strategy is to stay not just one, but a few steps ahead by taking a full week off from training – I’m talking don’t even drive near the gym – about every 8th to 12th week.
  • No one’s physique ever fell apart as a result of a periodic week of rest. On the other hand, there are plenty of folks whose great physiques won’t last very long, due to bad shoulders, elbows, and knees.
  • Fad diets and fad diet practices should be avoided (and laughed at). Carbs will send you to hell. Sugar is worse for you than cocaine. Fat is no longer the bad guy, so now it’s time to drink a pint of fish oil after every meal. Protein is your savior, eat as much of it as you can. If it’s isolated from food and put in a pill, it’s GOTTA be better for bodybuilding. C’mon now. A mix of patience and realistic progress expectations is the best cure for the compulsion to adopt fad practices or try fad diets.
  • Stop splitting hairs over the rules. The beauty of food is that, unlike drugs, its physiological effects have neither the acuteness nor the magnitude to warrant extreme micro-management, especially when it comes to nutrient timing relative to training. A half an hour difference here or there really isn’t gonna make or break your physique.
  • The first law of nutrient timing is: hitting your daily macronutrient targets is FAR more important than nutrient timing.
  • The second law of nutrient timing is: hitting your daily macronutrient targets is FAR more important than nutrient timing.
  • The fitness & nutrition world is a breeding ground for obsessive-compulsive behavior. The irony is that many things people worry about simply have no impact on results either way, and therefore aren’t worth an ounce of concern.
  • Worrying about how much fat is burned while doing cardio makes as much sense as worrying about how much muscle is built while lifting weights.
  • I eat three whole eggs almost every day of the week, so as far as American Heart Association limits are concerned, I’m blowing past them like Stevie Wonder through a stop sign.
  • Mother Nature winces every time a yolk hits the waste basket.
  • If you have to chew it, it ain’t anabolic. [/sarcasm about postworkout nutrition]
  • The better someone’s genetics are, the more of a dumbf#ck he is.
  • Avoid food avoidance.

When I begin to overcomplicate things, I make sure to re-read these.

(Source:, via fitbunney)

Resistance weight training during caloric restriction enhances lean body weight maintenance (in women)

To assess the individual and combined effects of weight loss and weight training on body weight and body composition, 40 obese women were randomly assigned to one of four groups for an 8 wk weight-loss study. These groups were control (C); diet without exercise (DO); diet plus weight training (DPE); and weight training without diet (EO). Body weight decreased for DO (-4.47 kg) and DPE (-3.89 kg) compared with C (-0.38 kg) and EO (0.45 kg). Lean body weight (LBW) increased for EO (1 .07 kg) compared with DO (-0.9 1 kg) and C (-0.31kg) and for DPE (0.43 kg) compared with DO. Upper-arm muscle areas (determined by radiograph) increased for DPE (1 1.2 cm2) and EO (10.4 cm2) compared with C (2.7 cm2) and DO (2.1 cm2). Adding weight training exercise to a caloric restriction program results in maintenance of LBW compared with DO.

Want to lose fat? Eat less than you burn and lift heavy.

Progress Update - 14 months of hacking my body

I’ve been trucking along, trying new things, and learning a lot along the way.

More recently I’ve realized:

  • You don’t need to eat 6 times a day to “keep your metabolism from slowing down.” [1]
  • You don’t need to exercise 7 days a week to achieve your goals. [1], [2]
  • Low carb diets are not a means to an end. Carbs don’t make you get fat. Eating too much makes you fat. 
  • Extreme caloric restriction is not fun or sustainable. Be reasonable. 
  • Don’t stress over small details. Be consistent and everything will fall into place.

I’m really happy with how far I’ve come and looking back motivates me to keep going.