By Corey Springer
Owner of: Apollo Fitness Barbados & “The NarkSide” Fitness Forums.
re-written: Monday June 15 2009 for Kurama Magazine
Time to worship the sun!
Time to strip down to the bare essentials: flaunting that tight midsection, those sharply detailed arms, thighs and buns.
Well… technically that’s what’s supposed to happen.
However if you’re the average person working a nine-to-five, summer just seems to sneak up on you doesn’t it?
Honestly I do.
You try to keep in the gym year round. You do your crunches, and you eat ‘healthily’: ‘Healthy’, a concept which changes by the day.
We’ve all heard:
“Fats are Bad”
“Carbs are Bad”
“Carbs are Good”
“Fats are good”
“Sugar is a no-no”
“Fructose is big ole YES!”
“Too much protein causes kidney failure!”
There’s so much information out there, and so much of it (re: carbs being labelled *both* bad *and* good) is contradictory. So who do you listen to?!
We’ve all felt that confusion: If everything’s ‘bad’, then what do we eat?
I’m here to tell you that you are not alone in your confusion.
I am here to tell you that confusion is a mass-marketing ploy to sell more products.
Thus, infomercial’s sole purpose isn’t ‘information’ (as the prefix ‘inform’ would suggest), but confusion via information overload… and subsequently, the sale of whatever new product their marketing geniuses come up with
/ends rant reluctantly.
This article is a compilation of facts. Its purpose is to educate: to highlight some of the ‘basics’ so to speak. At the end of it, you should have a sounder grasp of on the concept of dieting.
Part 2: “What do I take?!?!?”
This is usually the first question I receive.
Not: “How should I eat?”, or “How should I train?”
But: “What do I take?”
I attribute this question to years and years of brainwashing by supplement sales men.
I believe that the consumer is at this point less than confident with their ability to achieve the results they want without some form of psychological crutch.
This is not a direct lash at you the consumer…
This is just a statement of acknowledgement.
For over a decade supplement producers have attempted to lull us into the belief that supplement ‘A’ would serve as a magic pill: fat-loss in a bottle.
A decade, and a couple thousand dollars, later we’re still dissatisfied… but none the wiser.
Here’re my thoughts: Use your supplements if you will… but use them wisely.
Supplements have legitimate application:
·Convenience: Supplements are convenient. Meal replacements for example are good on the go. The essential minerals and vitamins can be supplied in a standardized manner, making the reaching of pre-set daily requirements easier.
·Concentration Boost: Supplements, thermogenics specifically, can give that much needed boost both inside and outside the gym. This is especially pertinent to those of you who are employed a sector which requires high levels of concentration. These individuals tend be mentally drained by the time they reach the gym. This boost in concentration can benefit low-carb dieters specifically, as a reduction in carbs consumed tends to leave some a bit disoriented.
·Energy Boost: No one can discount the noticeable kick in the rear-end that some supplements can supply!
This being said though, supplements can only provide building blocks.
Benefits are derived from your hard work.
Part 3: My thoughts on cutting calories…
My thoughts are: A distinction needs to be made between ‘cutting’ calories (i.e. caloric restriction), and starvation.
Making this distinction seems to be especially hard.
This is compounded by an inability to comprehend that weight-loss is fuelled by activity… which is in turn fuelled by food.
The latter is note-worthy, as it denotes that starvation is actually counterproductive.
Part 4: Fat-loss equation: Calories in
The above equation is at the root of the fitness industry.
Whenever you ask a supposed fitness professional, this is the generic answer which you’ll receive.
It is true to some effect… but it is easily abused.
…Especially by those new to dieting.
‘More is better’: this is the general thought process that pervades the modern world.
However, such thinking is counterproductive here…
This holds special significance with regard to the abovementioned caloric deficit.
Simply put, too large of a caloric deficit puts you in starvation mode.
I suppose similar can be said by too high of a caloric output… as too much cardio can be almost as ‘damaging’… comparatively speaking.
This isn’t to say that one should scrimp on cardio… but rather that one shouldn’t overdo it.
Neither should one think that doing cardio will fix a junk-food filled diet.
…Because it won’t.
Ok…so where does this leave you?
A number of different schemes come to mind.
Each centers around calculating your approximate Basal Metabolic rate.
A guide to calculating such can be found here.
After calculating your required calorie intake and formulating your diet (which should supply adequate protein; carbohydrates; and fats)… the next step would be to add activity.
A caloric deficit can be achieved by:
a. cutting calories
b. adding activity… without changing your calorie intake.
I prefer the latter.
Cardio should be performed 3-6 times per week, with each session lasting between 30 and 45 minutes.
Cardio timing will depend on your however.
Some claim that cardio first thing in the morning on an empty stomach is optimal.
I’ve tried various times, and my opinion is this: cardio performed at ANY time is better than not doing cardio at all.
Personally I do 30-45 minutes of cardio directly after completing my weight-training workout.
This brings me to another topic…Low energy levels generally reduce potential energy output… as we are able to complete perceivably less and less activity.
Cutting food intake too low, and maintaining an inadequate food intake for too long, slows the metabolism.
A slowed metabolism, coupled with post-starvation binge-eating (which so often occurs) results in rebound fat gain… Additional fat is gained as the metabolic rate is now slower than it was before.
Thus, starvation is basically equivalent to shooting oneself in the foot… and the knee… and the elbow.. and the hip… and the head lol.
The correct way is to ‘feed the fire’: i.e. split your allotted, and appropriate, calorie intake over the course of the day… consuming relatively moderate-calorie meals every 2-3 hours.
Jumpstart that metabolism… Get to eating!
This brings me to another thought…
Part 5: Weight-train!!!
What… A no-brainer?
I’d argue otherwise.
A number of people seem opposed to it.
“Oh… it’s boring”
Or: “I don’t wanna get too huge”
Or the consummate female trainee: “I don’t wanna look-a like-a man”
*pseudo-slap upside the head*
It’s boring… so is going to work, yet you go there 8 hours out of each day because you deem it necessary to your existence.
How is your health any less important?
“I don’t wanna get too huge”… Poor excuse.
‘Getting huge’ requires years of dedication.
‘Getting huge’ requires years of doing everything right (‘everything’ being diet; training; etc.)
‘Getting huge’ is something that most people have nothing to worry about.
The above applies to the female trainee who has had society drill into her head that weight-lifting is equated to the development of masculinity.
This simply is not the case.
It is difficult for women to put on a lot of muscle
Further, the small amount of muscle you can plausibly gain will go a long way in increasing your metabolic rate… thus, keeping you leaner even at rest.
Add this to the fact that muscle is that which gives women curves… not fat.
Sure fat blankets curves… making structures more aesthetically pleasing…
…but these structures are composed of muscle.
So want a curvier butt?
Weight-training is your answer!!!
Part 6: Stop punishing yourself!
I think we as humans are gluttons for punishment.
Further, we seem to enjoy punishment at our own hands.
Often I hear the terms ‘good’ and ‘bad’ used by my clients:
“Today I was good”.. “Today I was bad”.
To me these terms just enforce a cycle of self-hate and self-punishment.
…And neither has a place in anyone’s fitness vocabulary.
…Not with regard to diet that is.
When you foul up MOVE ON!
Learn from the experience: the triggers to your indulgence.
But don’t punish yourself.
In the same vein, don’t use a temporary weakness as an excuse for cheating regularly.
If starvation is akin to shooting oneself in the foot, cheating regularly is akin to shooting oneself in the head.
This brings me to the whole concept of:
Part 7: ‘Cheat Days’.
I honestly don’t believe in such.
I do realize that this may come as a shock to you… as so many fitness professionals support such.
But then again, i hold very little stock in the opinions of fitness professionals.
The fact of the matter is many of them thrive on repeat business.
By ‘repeat’ i mean continual.
i.e. They are minimalists: giving you moderately effective advice, as opposed to optimum advice… and you get the bare minimum (with regard to results) by extension.
Cheat days inforce the consumption of junk food.
Very seldom does an individual indulge in one cupcake.
One begets two… two begets a box.
Add an extra helping of vegetables if you’re feeling hungry.
If you have a legitimate craving (as some women may have during their periods)… and it’s tearing at your mind… have that piece of chocolate.
Just don’t get into a structured cycle of cheating.
Because the habit is hard to break once established.
Trust me on this.
What about sugar-free stuff you say?
Or ‘light’ stuff?
Sugar-free does not denote calorie-free.
Light does not mean sugar free.
Indulge sparingly… because at the end of the day the calories add up.
Part 8: Take it one day at a time!
We live in a global culture of instant gratification.
Our bodies however have not evolved to respond in this manner.
..Thankfully that is.
In the same manner that one cannot get fat overnight… One cannot expect to get in shape overnight.
Embark on this journey with that in mind.
Take it one day at a time.
Learn from your body.
Revel in your new found strength(s).
Pat yourself on the back where deserved.
Forgive yourself where you foul up.