If there’s one thing I’ve noticed over the past 18+ months of strict dieting and training, it’s that when it comes to making dietary choices, most people just plain suck at it and consequently make life ridiculously and unnecessarily hard for themselves.
Whether it’s your average glutton who would rather ignore their rapidly expanding waist line completely as they salivate over their online order of Dominoes pizza, or the self-proclaimed “gym junkie” who worships dogmatic, mainstream dieting advice and lives on weight watchers bars and boost juice smoothies, spending more time and effort buying fitness branded clothing and posting it on Instagram than doing real research and finding out what is going to produce results – the end result is that a lot of people are suffering through the affliction of having shitty bodies. When correcting their errors is generally quite simple to do, so long as they find and apply the correct knowledge.
So, in this post I am going to present some of the idiotic, yet not uncommon mistakes I witness both in the people around me and online which constantly serves as a reminder that just because I find it effortlessly simple to stay in shape and make steady progress with strength-building and fat-loss, most people are about as competent at looking after their body as most girls who frequent Lorna Jane are at not being irritating on social media.
The following advice mostly goes against the general consensus (the same consensus that has produced the sea of overweight and depressed individuals swarming every public place of the first world), and I want to make it known that this advice is for people who actually make decisions based on their own rational judgement, without looking to daddy government, a mainstream news report or the dogmatic and over-zealous opinions of random fatties they are exposed to daily to do their thinking for them.
1. Weight loss is simple, if you aren’t seeing results you’re doing something wrong.
Seeing as though society as a whole treats resources like The Biggest Loser as an authority on health and weight loss, most people are somewhat accustomed to thinking that weight loss is an ambiguous game of luck, and that it is typical for results to occur very slowly and inconsistently.
“You’re body isn’t a machine, you can’t just put one thing in and another comes out”, the trainers explain to the fatty who is sobbing, looking at the scales indicating that they pulled off the miraculous feat of gaining weight whilst living secluded from society in an environment where the sole purpose of their existence is to stop being so fat.
“Sometimes you win and sometimes you lose, blah blah” – continue sugar coating reality to avoid admitting that this person failed and needs to do better.
When somebody who claims to have been proactively trying to lose weight, manages to gain weight, the only rational solution would be to tell them that they failed and they need to get tighter with their approach. What they did in the week that lead up to them putting on the weight was ineffective and unsuccessful. Most likely they simply ate too much, didn’t train hard/frequently enough, or failed to manage their insulin levels as to induce fat loss.
But, seeing as though most people can’t handle reality when it says “not good enough, be better”, and would rather soak in a lot of feel good affirmations, rationalize that “weight loss is slow and doesn’t always work” and negate the responsibility of analyzing their behavior and correcting it, they will go on to continue sucking indefinitely with the consolation prize of excuses and rationalizations.
I’m not saying that dropping massive amounts of weight each week is to be expected, but the point is that if you’re not making continual progress, you’re doing something wrong.
Often the error is quite simple, you need to:
a. Increase training volume and/or intensity
b. Learn to manage your insulin levels more effectively (which is my next point)
c. Stop making concessions – stick to your fucking plan.
Getting lean isn’t complicated, you simply learn and apply the proven principles, then make minor tweaks as you go based on your own personal experience, but (assuming that you’re a normal, young male) the fundamentals remain the same.
2. Learn to control your insulin response
Once you understand how insulin works and how to control it, fat loss becomes pretty fuckin’ simple.
The trouble is with most people that such a simple concept goes straight under the radar because mainstream marketing has lead us to believe that burning fat is some, slow, ambiguous and complicated process that required lots of knowledge and expensive consultations and/or products.
For those of you who are unaware, below is the simplest explanation of insulin I could come up with that illustrates why it is so critical to understand, how it works and how to manipulate it so that fat burning becomes simple, almost effortless and consistent:
Insulin is a hormone that is secreted when there is glucose in the blood stream, it’s purpose is to transport glucose to the cells of the body where it will be used for energy, our insulin levels are determined (primarily) by the amount and type of carbohydrates we eat (there are other ways it’s release is triggered, see my full article on ketogenic dieting for more on this).
When insulin levels are elevated, our body stores energy as fat in our fat tissue. When our insulin levels are low, our body is able to oxidize stored body fat and use it as fuel. So the more carbohydrates you eat, the higher your insulin levels, and the less your body is able to use stored body fat as fuel, and the more it will accumulate fat in fat tissue.
“Carbohydrate is driving insulin is driving fat” – George Cahill.
As I said, carbohydrates are the main culprit for causing insulin secretion, and while it can be extremely useful for muscle growth when you know how to use it to your advantage, it is also the very reason people on low fat- high carb diets experience little to no results, even if they go into caloric deficit and work out daily.
Constant spiking of insulin throughout the day is telling your body to store it’s energy as fat, rather than to break down stored body fat and start using it for fuel, which is what happens when you restrict carbohydrates and in turn, insulin secretion.
To avoid spiking insulin you simply restrict carbohydrates in your diet, especially the simple, processed carbs and worst of them all, sugar (that means most fruits). Common foods that induce a large insulin response are grains, starchy vegetables (potatoes), white rice, all forms of sugar and cereals.
If you’re accustomed to living on a diet that is high in carbohydrates, then you’ll most likely find it uncomfortable and inconvenient to cut them out and find alternatives to eat. My personal recommendation is ketogenic dieting, which is where your energy needs are met primarily by fat, which I have been doing with great success for the past 18 months.
I provide my entire ketogenic dieting and training system here that is a simple, effective and enjoyable way to diet (complete with weekly, gluttonous “refeeds” and encourages the consumption of copious amounts of bacon, eggs and steak).
3. Losing fat doesn’t have to suck
Yes you can listen to any random dweeb on the BB.com forums who insists that you live off of broccoli and grilled chicken for months on end, and you will actually get incredibly lean by doing so, but it is not the only way to do it, and in my opinion, not a very fucking enjoyable one either.
Just because a type of food tastes good or bad, doesn’t make a speck of difference to the way your body responds to it after you swallow it (generally speaking here). Meaning, you don’t have to suffer.
I typically fast two days a week and I only eat carbs on Sundays, for the rest of the week I’m eating high fat, high protein and low carb diet (see this post for a daily meal sample). I not only enjoy the shit out of it, I typically prefer it to Sundays when I yolo on as much m&m’s and pizza as I can shove down my throat.
Point is, stop thinking you have to suffer and whine your way to abs. No, regulated dieting is not as stimulating as eating a block of chocolate whenever you feel like it, but it’s a lot more fucking enjoyable than living a hedonistic life.
That’s it for part 1 of this series, check out part 2 where I discuss the damaging misconceptions behind “natural” foods, the food pyramid and the allure of looking to weight loss products to find results.