Computer screens don’t laugh at your penis and poop jokes.
That’s the main reason I still work with clients in da gym, and don’t spend all of my time writing online.
A second reason is that there are some hot chicks that work at my gym.
A third reason is that you get to learn about some of the real problems people face in their fitness efforts, try to come up with practical solutions, test and assess and refine your methods, and see how the advice you are giving (both online and off) ultimately impacts people’s real world results.
Some of the writers who devote their whole day, career, life, and afterlife to pontificating about fitness just don’t know what is going on in the Suit-to-Spandex Streets baby. Off the glossy magazine pages and outside academic circle jerks, busy professionals are struggling to find sustainable fat loss plans.
One of the biggest obstacles people face is figuring out how to integrate an optimized fat loss diet into an overall lifestyle plan. In non-geeky terms, how to get and stay lean without becoming a crazy obsessed fitness person that freaks out if they can’t get tuna or protein shakes every 2.5 hours.
This dietary dilemma on top of career craziness is leading to frustration, struggle, poor results, and people laughing less at my above mentioned penis and poop jokes. Here’s a quick test to see if you are over-stressed. Does this photo make you laugh, or sit there stone-faced?
Maybe you’ve grown up too much my friend. Take it down a notch.
PLANS ON PAPER VS. REAL-WORLD RESULTS
While its cool to TALK about living like a caveman, or to HAVE a calculus looking, bio-hacking diet strategy, its even cooler to TAKE the real-world steps necessary to actually reach your physique goals.
And bat shit crazy stuff can work in the short-term, but it rarely sticks as a long-term plan when you have one of those meaningless things called a life. You know, social shindigs, a significant other, business dinners, hobbies, travel hassle, etc.
So a few weeks ago – damn man, time’s flying – I posted up an article and video about food, calorie, and macronutrient tracking. I talked about who I thought should do it, when it is useful, why its not just for crazy fitness competitors, and how it can help beginners get started making more informed food choices, etc.
If you missed it, here’s da original post: When and How You Should Track Your Food Intake, Calories, and Macros.
Since that time, I’ve had a lot of interesting conversations with a few of my friends and private clients. Once they stopped whining about doing something useful rather than looking for the next magic pill, they were stoked about what tracking taught them about implementing practical weight loss strategies in the real world.
They were even more stoked when they discovered that gaining a little nutrition knowledge, empowerment, and a tool to increase dietary flexibility yielded some pretty quick physique results.
Here are five fantastic reasons you should get on the rails of a tracking train:
1. SELF AWARENESS
It ends mindless eating and snacking, and just helps you become more aware about your food habits. Hey dude, maybe that breakfast muffin is what is triggering your midmorning hunger, sleepiness, brain farts, butt farts, and mocha cravings.
Cheating every day is not cheating at all. It’s actually just a shitty diet with a fancy fitness term attached to it.
It shows you how the typical foods and meals you eat impact your diet numbers, which in turn impacts your ability to lose fat.
Are you “eating healthy” or “eating low fat” or “eating Paleo” or “eating low-carb” but still not losing weight? Unless you are a genetic anomaly, you won’t lose weight in a calorie surplus no matter how cutting edge or “metabolically advantaged” your diet plan supposedly is.
What are your macronutrient numbers looking like? Maybe you are sedentary and going too high in carbs? Maybe you are an anaerobic athlete and are going too low in carbs and too high in fats? We can feel like we are doing things right, but objective numbers tell the true story.
Many coaches these days want you co-dependent on them. It’s an ego or revenue stream thing I guess? That ain’t my style man, because I don’t believe the process is all that mysterious or complicated.
Trust me, you consistently hit the right diet numbers (tracking will show you the objective truth) and find the right diet structure that makes doing that as easy as possible, and you WILL get results. There are not a lot of real secrets when it comes to fitness and fat loss, despite the abundance of ads making you think you need to run in David Copperfield’s circle to lose weight.
Besides, you’d get sick of me quickly. I get sick of myself often. And I definitely get sick of saying the same things over and over. Dude, I can’t talk about fitness shit all day. That’s why I integrate philosophy posts from time-to-time — just for pure sanity.
I recommend an Island-style diet template and think you should stick to that the majority of time for overall health, digestive health, and the satiety impacts of food — animal proteins, eggs, vegetables, whole fruit, sweet potatoes, potatoes, and white rice. You can check out our Free Beach Physique Guide for a more thorough description of that.
The unbiased truth is you can reach your physique goals as long as you hit your diet numbers, regardless of what foods you eat. But it is damn hard to cut calories and stay the course while eating refined crap. You’ll be nutritionally deficient, with wild blood sugar swings, unstable energy levels, and uncontrollable food cravings.
However, I’m also a realist. In the modern world, Island-style eating just ain’t happening all the time. We have too many choices and food friends. Ben & Jerry, Aunt Jemima, Jack Daniels, Kara and her frickin’ cupcakes — everyone always wants to party. But just like at work, you can’t party all the time and get shit done (especially if you are not in your early 20′s).
What if you shoot for 80-90% of the time?
With tracking, you can still hit your numbers despite a little more leeway with your food choices. And the right diet numbers are the most important step for attaining your physique goals.
Despite tracking being a little bit of a pain in the ass in the short-term, it creates a lot more dietary flexibility in the long-term. Want to work in some different foods to your diet plan? Don’t want to give up bread and pasta forever? Dig the occasional dessert?
Cool, just make sure your occasional food choices off the template fit within your targeted diet numbers for the day, and you’ll keep slashing that fat away.
You’ll also see how any meal at any restaurant can fit into your target numbers for the day. No more “I gotta eat out all of the time” excuses. This is key for an uptown girl, a downtown professional, or anyone else who eats the majority of their meals away from home.
*Although on a side note, the way foods are cooked these days (in butter and oil), I’d add an extra 15-30g of fat on top of whatever food databases say are the fat totals for specific “restaurant meals”.
Of course reasons 1-4 lead to the Real Reason #5 – it helps create a sustainable lifestyle plan that will have you living lean year-round. You’ll know what you’re actually doing, where you’re slipping up, how you can improve, how you can stay on track with your plan anywhere, how you can integrate some food flexibility into more rigid dietary templates based on personal preference, etc.
It is no different than tracking your spending habits or expenses when you are having trouble with your personal finances or business cash flow. You gotta know where money is coming from, and where it is going out to. Maybe too many “business lunches” at “adult entertainment establishments” are why you are in credit card debt?
To hammer this thing home, here is a video I filmed on this tracking topic. In my onscreen ramblings, I covered some additional topics like why tracking macronutrients is more important than just counting calories, and finding the middle ground between extreme craploading/IIFYM plans vs. obsessive compulsive, bodybuilding & fitness diva diets.
Until next time my food tracking fitness friend…
What’s up my beach physique clique? We’ve interrupted our regularly scheduled blog post programming and e-course teachings for some impromptu feasting. Go ahead and just let that take your imagination wherever it wants to go for a gluttonous or perverted moment. No judgements here.
I just wanted to share this podcast episode with my friends over at First Callout. They are some cool dudes and have had some epic guests on their show (at least if you are a bodybuilding, physique, or bikini nerd), so to get to be a part of it was an honor for sure. Its a show primarily geared towards physique peeps, but don’t let that scare you off. We covered a broad range of topics that I think will help anyone interested in a practical and sustainable approach to fat loss and physique enhancement.
Here’s the promo for it. They did a cool job. And you’ll notice clips scrolling through this very website that you are on right now. Its like frickin’ Inception — a dream within a dream…
After listening to it (I’m like every other egotistical fitness dude on the planet = I love to hear myself talk), I was actually surprised how much we covered in just over 20 minutes. Hey man, when I’m excited I ramble, swear, and talk fast. If you’ve been following this blog for a while, have read any of my books, or are currently taking our Beach Physique course, this podcast provides a nice, precise review of my overall nutrition approach. Some FitnessCenter highlights:
1. Why targeted calories, macros, and food choices matter more than diet structure, and you should use whatever meal frequency and food distribution pattern makes your plan as practical as possible to follow. That includes, but is not limited, to my intermittent fasting and feasting approach (and of course when I say my, I mean evolution’s).
2.We talked about the Belle Curve distribution of meal frequency patterns that I’ve seen work best in my experience. *The reverse of a warning — our conversation was not as boring or geeky as that sounds.
3. Why I don’t believe in either the extreme OCD bodybuilding approach, nor the extreme calorie counting/IIFYM (if it fits your macronutrient)/eat whatever you want as long as it fits your diet numbers approach. Most would best be served following the middle ground approach (well, leaning more towards clean eating) for flexibility, functionality, and overall health (including psychological health).
4. The difference between working with elite athletes vs. the general, busy professional demographic.
5. A step-by-step (oooh baby) guide of how I might transition someone from no nutrition knowledge and out of control Y2K eating into a more targeted fat loss plan, and all the way to intermittent feasting fat away for good, if that is what they so desire.
The goal of this post was to give you a break from having to read my bullshit, and just let you kick back and listen to it. So I’ll go ahead and remove my pudgy fingers from the keyboard now, and get this podcast party started. Click on da link below to listen.
Over the last few posts, we’ve battled through tough times together, and bid farewell to a few that we’ve lost. But dammit, its high time we get back to having a little fun and getting some shit done. So for your fat loss satisfaction, we return to the nutrition action.
As many of you know, the core principle of my intermittent feasting-style diet (Feast Your Fat Away) is to eat lighter during the day, and enjoy your biggest meal — with the majority of your calories and carbs — at night.
As Big Poppa once said, “And if you don’t know, now you know.”
But I’d be lying to you if I said that diet structure is THE most important step to slashing fat and looking dead sexy (or deadly shredded). It is really just a way to make your fat loss plan a lot more practical, easy to follow, and enjoyable than most traditional fitness or commercial weight loss diets.
But here’s da no bullshit truth — consistently hitting the right diet numbers (calories and targeted macronutrients) is by far the most important step to achieving any higher-level physique goal. I can’t (MC) hammer that point home enough. It’s just too legit to quit (talking about).
When clients ask, “why am I not losing any weight/fat?”, “why have I hit a plateau?”, or “why can’t I lose that last layer, that last 5-10lbs?”, I usually dig into the diet numbers to find the answer. As the great Brian Fantana once said, “60% of the time, it works every time.”
Actually in my experience, it’s been 95% of the time.
With the first day of summer fast approaching, I figured we’d dive into the diggity-details of diet numbers. I want to spend the next few posts helping you get them right. Part of the reason is that my goal with this blog is NOT to make you co-dependent on me. It’s to empower you, and give you the tools you’ll need to coach yourself.
So first things first. To get to where you want to go, you first need to know where you are starting from. How do you figure that out, and ultimately make the dietary adjustments necessary to reach your fat loss goals?
TRACK YOUR FOOD INTAKE & DIET NUMBERS FOR A WEEK
“That’s a pain in the ass Nate.” “I’m not a fitness freak.” “I have a life”. Etc.
Yeah I know, but this is not something I recommend you do indefinitely. Hell, I don’t track my food intake anymore. I gravitate towards certain foods and can now eyeball portion sizes like a hawk. But I highly suggest it at two different points in your fitness journey.
1. When you are first starting out, it’s a great educational tool.
By simply tracking food intake and numbers for a week, I’ve had clients realize their protein intake was paltry, they were committing “carbicide” like Bruno, or they were eating 1000 calories per day above maintenance levels via refined oils. In short, they were not eating nearly as good as they thought they were.
This can even happen with “good” food choices. So if you want to get uber-lean, it’s not just about eating low carb, low fat, Paleo, All-Natural, Raw, Whole Foods, Island-style, The All-Weiner Diet, The All-Beaver Diet, or any other approach. Keep eating Costco size bags of nuts like an over-sized squirrel every day, and that spare tire probably ain’t going away.
By getting on track(ing tools), you’ll get to know what your general serving sizes should be in order to hit your optimal fat loss numbers. You’ll also probably see how much extra shit is sneaking in there. After you cut the excess crap and get a good feel for the right portions for you, then you can start to eyeball everything. You don’t have to be a statistician forever. But it definitely helps educate and guide you in the beginning.
You can also see how where and what you like to normally eat, including restaurant meals in your regular rotation, etc., can fit into your overall fat loss plan. In essence, being more rigid with your tracking allows you to be a little more flexible with your diet, yet still get great results.
Perhaps it is most important from a psychological perspective. Doing something as simple as tracking your food intake forces you to take personal accountability AND some kind of action towards your physique goals. These two steps are necessary to achieve anything in life.
2. When you hit a plateau.
Going from out of shape to decent shape is one thing. But going from good shape to the cover of a fitness magazine, or top of an e-dating site profile page, is a whole other thing. If you want to jump to the next physique class, often times it necessitates being more detailed and consistent with your diet numbers.
Don’t listen to the intellectual pontificators that say “calories don’t count”, and throw around big boy words like “metabolic advantage” to make up for their lack of practical experience.
I don’t care what sounds good in a lab, lecture, or debate. I only care about what works in the real world. And unless you have great genetics or are using physique enhancing drugs, trust me, the numbers absolutely matter if you want to get ripped. Calorie deficits, metabolic advantage of macronutrient amounts and ratios, satiety impacts of food choices, etc., it all frickin’ matters baby.
And I’d say the diet numbers matter a whole hell of a lot more than throwing a bunch of BCAA’s, MCT’s, fat-burning herbs, and other magic pills into some bone broth, and cooking it all up in a caldron like Gargamel.
Busting through plateaus does not always necessitate biohacks, complicated cyclical diet strategies, or being cool and cutting edge. Sometimes it actually necessitates the opposite — getting back to the boring basics. Maybe you’re underestimating how many carbs or added fats you are taking in. If all is on point, maybe its time to re-assess and adjust the numbers for continued progress, but only if you’re actually sticking to your current ones to begin with.
See what I’m saying?
GOOD TRACKING TOOLS
These days, with food databases and even smart-phone apps, its relatively easy and pain free to track your numbers. Here are a few free resources I recommend:
1. Pen & Paper Food Journal
Go old school and just write things down in a notebook. Use this food database to find the calorie & macronutrient information of any food.
2. Food Tracking Software
Keep track on your computer or smart phone. I suggest the following:
A VIDEO RECAP
I talked about this topic in the video portion of our Free Beach Physique Guide and ongoing e-course. I think it makes a nice recap to this post.
In the next post, I’m going to dive into protein numbers and research. If you would like more useful fat loss tips and strategies like this, in the same multi-media format, or you don’t have the patience to wait for my next post (with my leisurely working schedule), you can check out The Beach Physique Guide and Ongoing E-course.
Until next time, TRACK IT!
We’ve all lost someone we loved. It’s devastating.
Cruising and perusing through Facebook, it seems like a lot of us have lost someone recently. My heart goes out to you man. I hope you’re hanging in there. Having lost a few peeps myself, I know words can only do so much to comfort. But what the hell, it’s worth a shot. And it’s also worth trying something a little different.
So Kalai and I wanted to share something with you. Over Memorial Day, we got to experience one of the coolest things we’ve ever been a part of – Lantern Floating Hawaii 2014, a ceremony to honor and remember the ones we’ve lost, and perhaps find some closure. Read the rest of this entry
Summer breeze, flowing like the wind
Boy you need to know that you got a friend
And I’ll always be here — DJ Quick
That’s true. I’ll always be here. But I can’t frickin’ coach you man (girl, man-girl, or girly man). My client list is too full and my patience is getting too thin, hahaha.
Nonetheless, I do want to help you. For the time to hit the beach and Free Little Willy, or Unleash Thelma & Louise, shall soon be upon us. And I want you to be well prepared. I’d feel bad if I knowingly let my friends keep spinning their wheels within the fitness industry bullshit, get nowhere with their physique goals, and did nothing about it.
That’s why we put The Beach Physique Guide together. Its everything I would give you if you were working with me as a private client — from the fat loss nutrition plan to the physique-focused training programs to the research and educational resources I recommend. Seriously. I’ve asked 3 people this week why they would want to pay me to tell them what I already wrote in a book, or covered in the multimedia e-course. I’m cool, but I ain’t that cool. And unfortunately, I have a conscience.
In that spirit, instead of some flashy marketing, I figured I’d just post up an excerpt from Da Guide so you can decide whether it sounds like something you are into or not. The first section ended up basically being a summary of the 7 most common mistakes, or reasons I’ve seen people fail with their fat loss and physique goals. I know them well, because I’ve made many of them myself at one point in my career (except following the mystical holistical guy — I could never really get down with that higher-than-thou style). Read the rest of this entry