Monthly Archives: June 2011

Grains – Friend or Foe?

Note: This post is dedicated to my very own bread-loving, exercise-hating, makes-life-worth-living, astonishingly gorgeous wife-to-be!

I’ll be honest here. I’ve been working on this post on grains for a long time now and I wanted to talk about what grains really are and how they became a staple and how they wreak havoc in our bodies and how they are the most evil things in the word and you know, other such usual blabber you would expect from a no-so-much-of-a-grain-fan as me. But then, I wasn’t able to do it. I tried multiple times but with no success. I had some sort of a block. Finally I realized, this wasn’t because I didn’t have the time to write or literature to back this up, but because I just didn’t really believe that grains were evil!

Picture credit: Pinch My Salt

As you guys know, I don’t blindly follow the herd but like to question beliefs and experiment everything on myself before recommending it to others. That being the case, I just found it impossible to write a post demonizing grains when I didn’t really think it was the case. This might come as a surprise to a lot of you folks considering I am known for hating grains and recommending against their consumption, but my argument here is really not for or against grains. It is about the all or nothing approach that is being applied towards grain consumption in general! You know, like the concept of distance running. It was once touted at the panacea for everything and now its being demonized and blamed as a cause of everything from Oprah’s bellay to Osama’s death!

So, Raj, are you just going from loathing to actually recommending grains?

Well, sadly, you won’t know until you read the rest of the post! So hold onto your horses for a second and read the post to fully understand my thoughts on the subject.

The Debate:

Firstly let’s look into the arguments generally used in support of and against grains and my thoughts on each one of these.

For…

  • Whole grains are heart healthy – In a country where leading fitness trainers recommend Faker’s Oats and companies compare thier cereal to the ever awesome egg, this is not surprising, but still, this claim is a bunch of crap! Why? Because the studies done to prove this were flawed! Any and every study that proved that whole grain consumption in test subjects improved health markers, compared people’s health when they consumed the standard junk food laden diet to a diet that had whole grains along with vegetables, fruit and lean protein.
  • Whole grains are fiber rich: Ever heard of vegetables and fruit? Any idea how much fiber they contain? Check this!

Against…

  • Grains are empty calories: True dat! No arguing here.
  • Grains are high in carbs: Legit! But so are potatoes. And I think we all know carbs dont kill. The act of OD-ing on carbs (and anything else for that matter) is what kills!
  • Paleo peeps didnt eat it so we shouldn’t eat it either: Meh! Too stupid to even reason.

Ummmm…

So they’re not bad and they’re not good. Great Raj! Thank you! Now we’re back to knowing nothing!

Well, not so soon.

The Knowledge:

Considering all the scientific and anecdotal evidence we have and having read arguments for and against grains and having tried and tested grain consumption on myself, my clients and my loved ones and having looked at the Ayurvedic diet, the Vegan diet and (all forms of) the Paleo diet without bias, here is what we actually know today…

1. Though there is evidence of grains being consumed millions of years ago, grains were NOT a significant part of the paleolithic people’s diet and were, at best, nutrient sparse survival food.

2. Grains have been a part of the human diet for about 10,000 years and many (if not all) traditional cultures soaked/fermented grains and included them in their diets and lived long healthy lives.

3. There is enough scientific and anecdotal evidence to prove that chronic grain consumption is detrimental to health and prosperity.

4. Wheat consumption has been associated with various different minor and major health issues ranging from acme to asthma to IBS to celiac and has a bunch of published literature supporting it.

5. White rice, though completely devoid of nutrients, seem to be extremely benign for most people and all traditional cultures that have predominantly consumed white rice have experienced little to no negative health effects.

6. All studies showing negative effects in health due to grain consumption have looked at chronic overconsumption of grains. Anecdotal evidence shows that small amounts of grain consumption (< 10-15% of total calories) does not have any significant or measurable effects on one’s health. Note: Exceptions exist here based on health condition and type of grain consumed and they will be discussed shortly.

7. Many other factors, including but not limited to vegetable oil consumption, stress, sedentary lifestyle, pollution etc., have been proven to be much more harmful to health in comparison to grain consumption.

From this mixed bag of scientific, epidemiological and anecdotal evidence, I’m sure the following questions pop right into our heads.

  • Are all grains detrimental to health?
  • What about in small quantities?
  • Are all humans allergic to grains at some level?

Honestly, I don’t have the answers. And I don’t think anyone has the answers to these questions. Let me rephrase that. I don’t think anyone has the right answers to these questions yet! I’m sure you can point me to blog posts and articles that talk about perils of grain consumption but, as mentioned above, even those articles are related to chronic and/or excessive grain consumption.

Gary Taubes, the greatest proponent of low carb eating and the author of Good Calories, Bad Calories and Why We Get Fat, when on Robb Wolf’s podcast asked this question (Note: not verbatim).

I get the paleo thing. But are you telling me that my health will drastically improve if I substitute the one tiny piece of pumpernickel bread that I have everyday with, say, sweet potato?

And thats exactly my point. No one knows! We all know grain dominance is a bad news for long term health, but is the poison in the dose? Can you get away with 1 cup of corn everyday? How about a slice of bread? Or how about a cup of oatmeal? Again, no one knows! And guess what – no one is going to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars designing and performing a study that analyzes the effect of 1 slice of bread in an otherwise very well controlled real food diet.

So, Raj, how do we find out what works?

Let me shoot that question back at you…

Just going by common sense, how would you find out what works for you?

And you’ll say…

Self experimentation?

And I’ll say…

Attaboy!

You’ve abso-bloody-lutely got to find out what works for YOU! There is no substitute to that. But, while this is a part of the puzzle, its only a part! Some general guidelines need to kept in mind by all of us when it comes to grain consumption. So with merely common sense being the governing factor, here are some general recommendations.

General recommendations:

* Realize grains are ‘unnecessary’ in a healthy diet. You can argue all you want, but grains have nothing to offer that you cannot get from real foods. ‘Nough said.

* Move the heck away from a grain based diet! Now this is key. Like I mentioned before, all data that points towards demonizing grains are actually demonizing chronic overconsumption of grains i.e. grain dominance. So whatever you do, do not eat a diet that is dominated by grains. And yes, this applies to whole grains too. As a matter of fact, this applies especially to whole grains.

* Realize the difference between fine wine and cheap liquor! Fine wine is prepared with great care and tastes like heaven and not readily available and only consumed in limited quantities purely for enjoyment and never for the ‘buzz’. Cheap liquor is, well, cheap and crappy and inexpensive and easily available and overconsumed and results in a whole host of issues from liver problems to orphans! If you didn’t get the analogy, eat exquisite and specially made grains that are well prepared and stay the hell away from junk grains! For eg. freshly baked sprouted sourdough walnut cranberry bread? Yes please! I’ll have a slice. A dozen bread sticks? Heck no! Thank you for trying to kill me.

* Nourish your body with whole real foods and supplement your taste buds minimally with grains (and sugars) realizing they aren’t helping you and possibly slightly hurting you. Stated differently, don’t eat a pasta/bread dinner every night and end up walking to celiacville. Instead, load up on meat/tempeh/seafood with roasted vegetables and have a spoon of a decadent chocolate cake/ice cream.

* For God’s sake know your limitations! No sane person will have a sip of alcohol (even the finest wine) if he/she has liver complications. And no sane person should have even a bite of any bread or any other grain, if he/she has gut related issues (IBS, leaky gut, celiac etc.).

* Understand health and work towards it! Health is a result of a real food based diet, stress free lifestyle, good sleep and happiness that spans over a lifetime! Sustainability. is. the. key!

* Stay true to your short term goals. If you are on a leaning out phase and are eating fewer calories than is required for optimal functioning of your body, stay the crap away from grains and sugars because they add empty calories and possibly weaken an already weak immune system. If you are an endurance athlete who needs 4500 calories a day but are adamant about not eating any grains and feel that your performance is dropping, stop kidding yourself and eat some cooked white rice! Yes you can get those carbs from sweet potatoes but for how long are you going to chomp on 3 lbs of sweet potatoes everyday? Once again… sustainability! Similarly, if your short term goal is gaining bodyweight, getting calories should be your primary concern and it doesnt matter if you get those calories from rice and beans or potatoes and cheese. Do what suits your body (bloating, gas, sleep, energy etc.) and yourlife style (cost, availability etc.). Keep it simple and sustainable!

* Understand preparation and do it! You wash your hands before you eat. You wet your hair before you shampoo.  You better soak/ferment your grains before you cook ’em!

* Differentiate yourself from your ancestors. You can’t eat like your ancestors when you don’t move and cook like your ancestors did! Yes you should embrace your roots, but you should also understand that you’re not half as active as your ancestors were and the grain based meal you eat today is not prepared with even a fraction of the care and detail used to prepare grains back then.

* Be smart and understand that the success of a diet solely depends on physical nourishment and mental satisfaction. Customize your real food diet in a way that it keeps you healthy and happy! Healthy here is strong, immune, lean and disease/allergy/symptom free and happy here is giving you the leeway to eat your favorite foods.

* Listen to your body! If you eat a grain and it messes you up, stay away from it. This is not rocket science.

* When you start, create your diet with purely real food (vegetables, meats, eggs, fruit, nuts and organic dairy). Drop any and all form of unstable PUFa (vegetable oils). Throw the junk out. Remove all grains. See how you feel. Now try having a small serving of whatever grain you desire. See how you react. Bad? Dont do it again. No change? Perfect. Now, you  can eat it every once in a while. This is exactly how I work with my clients. I don’t give them any random diet/meal plan and a macronutrient split. We work together. From the bottom up. And ten out of ten times, my clients find what works for them! I just merely facilitate it.

* Always remember that food is meant to nourish the body and the mind. Why do you think repressed emotions (anger, stress, jealousy etc.) result in health issues? Because such repression can change your entire gut flora leading to digestive issues and, since health begins at the gut, this paves the way for other diseases! Consume only foods that ensure health and happiness. Both the “H”s coexist and one  cannot exist without the other. If you absolutely need to eat some rice/quinoa/oats to stay happy and consistent and if it only causes very minimal discomfort, then by all means include it in your diet. But only as much as or as frequently enough to not cause any considerable discomfort.

Remember…

Customization is a requirement for consistency and consistency is a requirement for sustainability and sustainability is a requirement for long term health and fitness!

What about my diet?

From whatever experimentation I’ve done, I’ve learnt a lot about my body and the following are what I do to keep myself healthy and happy!

1. I know oatmeal destroys me! Maybe its the whole grain or the avenalin in oats, but having a cup of cooked oats makes me run to the little boys room half a dozen times! So the health va happiness graph is pretty crappy here and so I stay away from it.

2. But I know that white rice works like magic for me! Maybe its my roots or the fact that white rice is basically benign, I feel awesome everytime I eat white rice. In this case the health vs happiness graps looks pretty darn great and so I make it a point to eat white rice multiple times a week. Since I workout pretty hard, I mostly consume post workout in an effort to put the starch to good use, but if I am caught at a social event with crappy food, white rice is always my goto grain.

3. I’m 20 something. If I really want to eat pizza, I will eat pizza. Simple enough. But the key words here are “really” and “want”. I have pretty good self control and hence wont down a pizza everytime I remotely feel like eating one and I don’t tolerate the ‘Oh have just one slice! It wont kill you’ crap one bit and hence wont have any just because someone else thinks I should.

4. I’m not a fan of couscous or corn really, but if I do go to an authentic isereli/mexican restaurant and my host tells me their couscous/tamale is to die for, I’d order it without hesitation or guilt.

The way I see it, all food is good and all food is bad… either for the body or the mind. A food that nourishes you with nutrients but makes you feel deprived and stressed is just as bad as a food that gives you happiness but destroys your body. It all depends on the dose and the your physical state. This is what works for me right now and so this is what I do. If, at some point of time, this stops working for me or my experiments show me something better, I’ll certainly be happy to change things up.

The Summary:

1. Call a spade a spade. Grain consumption is not the issue. Grain dominance and dependance is!

2. Grains have nothing nutritious to offer and so don’t try to make it a part of your diet.

3. Grains are not evil and you needn’t avoid them like the plague! Be smart and eat grains for the experience/enjoyment and call it a day.

4. Cut your losses by soaking/fermenting grains before preparation and consumption.

5. Eyes on the goal. If grains throw you off, you better be ready to throw them out.

What are your thoughts? What grains do you love? How often do you eat them? What works for you? I’m very curious to know what you guys think about this. Do share your experiences and thoughts in the comments section and please take a moment to share this post on Facebook, Twitter and other networking sites!

Stay sane. Stay happy. Stay healthy. Stay fit!

Peace out.

Time Efficient Training – Reduce your 5k time by more than 20% in just 4 weeks

5k runs are pretty amazing really. They are long enough to test endurance and short enough to test speed. And for most people, 5k walk/runs are the gateway into fitness. While I never really started with a 5k, I started to grow more and more fond of them as I started working on speed. But I realized I had a tiny problem. If I had to train for a 5k run, I needed to put in some running time and that would, one, interfere with my regular workouts and, two, adversely affect my recovery from my usual workouts leaving me sore and unable to progress on strength and speed! This royally sucked ‘cos I basically ended up spinning my wheels.

Was this just a case of trying to do everything at once? Could one not train to grow stronger and run a faster 5k? Like I mentioned above, the 5k run is short enough to be a good test of anaerobic capacity and speed and hence, unlike distance running, should be trainable using methods than aren’t necessarily catabolic. So I decided to try out a few different training protocols and find one that worked best to help me achieve my goal of running a (much) faster 5k while not compromising lean mass or strength gains.

I tried a whole bunch of stuff like 400m repeats, mile sprints, hill sprints, train runs, cross trainers and more, but the one protocol that gave me the best results in the shortest time is the one I’m going to explain now. I’ve had my clients try this with great success and I’ve tried this twice myself with great results. The first time I tried it my 5k time dropped from 25:45 to 23:20 and the next time it dropped from 24:10 to 21:10.

The Plan:

  • If you already know your 5k time and pace, write them down. If you don’t know your 5k time and pace, run a best effort 5k and use those numbers below.
  • Now subtract 0.5 mph (0.8 kmph) off your 5k pace number. This will be X. Calculate 40% of your 5k time in minutes. This will be Y.
  • Day 1: Run for Y minutes at X pace.

If your 5k time is 40min, Y=16 min and X=4.2 mph (6.7 kmph).

If your 5k time is 30min, Y=12 min and X=5.75 mph (9.2 kmph).

If your 5k time is 20min, Y=8 min and X= 8.8 mph (14.2 kmph)

  • Day 2: Run for Y minutes at X + 0.15 mph (0.25 kmph)
  • Day 3: Run for Y minutes at X + 0.30 mph (0.50 kmph)
  • Day 4: Perform a full body (bodyweight/dumbbell/barbell/kettlebell) circuit that lasts for 75% of your initial 5k time. Intensity should be moderate (~ 70-80% MHR).
  • Day 5: Run for Y minutes at X + 0.45 mph (0.75 kmph)
  • Day 6: Run for Y minutes at X + 0.60 mph (1.00 kmph)
  • Day 7: Rest

Repeat this for 4 weeks. Test your 5k pace.

Q & A:

1. Do I need a treadmill for this? If yes, why?

Yes. Preferably. Because you can use the treadmill to progressively increase training speed by small yet accurate increments resulting in controllable and predictable endurance progression.

2. What do I do if I don’t have a treadmill?

Choose a route that is long enough.

  • On Day 1 run (not jog) for Y minutes at a comfortable pace. You should be working moderately hard. It shouldn’t be a relaxed job neither should it be a max intensity run. Mark the spot where you end the run after Y minutes.
  • On Day 2, run for the same Y minutes, but pace your run such that you finish slightly ahead of the spot you finished at on day 2. Use distance run as a tracker. This approach won’t be as well controlled as the treamill approach due to lack of quantifiable feedback, but will still help you get faster nevertheless.

3. What if I am unable to progress after, say, 2 weeks?

If you are unable to progress fast enough to run at the increasing speeds, drop the pace by 5% and continue. If you fuel your runs just right (i.e. neither eat too less becoming skinny and weak nor eat too much and gain fat), you will definitely progress.

4. Running 5 days a week? Isn’t this too much?

Its not. Though the frequency is high, the volume (run time) is super low.

5. How does this jive with the rest of my training?

You can continue with your usual workouts while doing this. Its up to you to figure out the best time to do these short runs (pre-workout or post, AM or PM etc.)

6. Will my regular training affect my progression on this?

It shouldn’t. But it depends on what you mean by ‘regular training’. If you mean running multiple miles for hours everyday, then yes it will affect your progression (and in turn kill your chances of becomes a faster runner). But if you are doing a good mix of resistance training, short high intensity work and low intensity cardio like walking or yoga, then you have nothing to worry about.

More questions? Hit me up in the comments section. No more questions? Well, watcha waitin for? Start training! Enjoyed the article? Please share the knowledge! Buttons below.

Peace!

Redefining Consistency

Consistency is a funny term that everyone seems to use in everywhich way possible, especially fitness folks. You can hear trainers say stuff like this all the time…

‘If you want results, well, you got to workout 5-6 days a week for 60-90 minutes a day and eat 6-7 small macronutrient balanced meals a day and do it consistently for the next 6 months.’

Guess what? He just handed you a big box of bullshit. Warm and toasty bullshit! You gonna take it? Maybe you should read this before you do.

Let me make it clear…

We don’t live in a boring world anymore. We live in a time that is so bloody amazing that I would hate to lose a single second just because I ‘have to’ do something. Thanks to technological advancements, we have plenty of time in our hands to hang with friends, go to a bar, chill at a cafe, take a farmers market stroll, jump off a cliff, go on a hike, bum around in the city, eat different foods, watch movies, explore various different countries, take a road trip etc etc etc! When life is so full of awesomeness why would I want to obsess over how I balance my macronutrients? And why would I ever want to do this 6 times a day? And to top that, I have to go to the gym 6 days a week? And worry about not missing a single workout session? If thats the only way to get in shape then I’d rather be pudgy and happy than to live such a sad life!

As far as I’m concerned, the good part of life is all about the ‘want to’ and never about the ‘have to’!

What is consistency?

Consistency is NOT doing the same thing over and over again.

Consistency is NOT planning every hour of every day of every week of every month.

Consistnecy is NOT being ready to give up a fun party/dinner/occasion in fear of ‘breaking the diet’.

Consistency is NOT skipping a movie ‘cos it interferes with your workout time.

Consistency is finding a way to get consistent results while living YOUR life!

In other words, it isn’t about what you do or how you do it. Its about what comes out of it! Consistency should result in small, continued and incremental results that cummulate over time to produce huge transformations and trust me, if you want real results that stick with you for life, you want to do it YOUR way. Not my way. Not his way. YOUR way!

How does this apply to you?

Since this is clearly not a one-concept-fits-all, we have different cases!

Case 1: I gots no time! My schedule is erratic! Can’t be consistent!

  • You cant afford to workout 6 days a week. Period. Find a trainer who can work with you and come up with a 2-3 days/week workout plan.
  • You’d rather spend the little time you get at home with your spouse and/or little ones and obviosly driving to the gym and back is not helping. Turn to bodyweight workouts. You don’t need fancy equipment to get in shape. Get a pull-up bar and you’re set. If your trainer knows his stuff (or if you find a good enough program) and you stay consistent on those 2-3 days a week for 20-40 mins a day, you will be a lean mean machine in a matter of a few months!
  • You don’t have the luxury of doing strength training and cardio and ab work one after the other. Club ’em together and make all your sessions metabolically demanding full body sessions by incorporating compound movement with very little rest periods in a circuit training fashion. This way, in each workout session, you work your entire body, your core are worked in every move you do and you burn tonnes of calories.
  • You absolutely dont have the time or freedom to eat healthy small meals every 2-3 hours. Check out intermittent fasting and find a plan that requires you to eat only once or twice a day. This will eliminate the food obsession and will even be forgiving to small nutritional mistakes/cheats you may commit on a daily basis.

Summary – Invest 80-100 min/week for exercise. Eat less frequently. Workout at home. Do compound bodyweight circuits. Track progress. Stay consistent.

Case 2: I’m a party animal yo! I live to have fun! Can’t be consistent!

  • Assuming workout frequency or time isnt an issue, look for a 2-4 days/week training program but still keep your workout sessions to under 60 min to stay productive.
  • Say you go out 4 nights a week. Factor that into your program. Make adjustments during other times. I have clients who enjoy their alcohol 3-4 nights a week and still progress just fine!
  • If you are ingesting too many calories for dinner 3 nights a week, embrace intermittent fasting and skip breakfast and eat a very small protein rich lunch on those days.
  • You, too, cant afford to count calories since you eat out too much. So be smart about it and find a nutritional approach that is more about quality of food than quantity. Such approaches are automatically protective against overeating and very satiating.

Summary – Factor your caveats into your plan – from dessert dependance to drunken dancing. Eat less when you’re at home and enjoy your food when you’re outside socializing. Track progress. Stay consistent.

Case 3: Fat ‘cos I’m poor! Can’t be consistent!

  • It is absolute BS that eating right is always expensive. Skip breakfast and lunch. Go to an all-you-can-eat buffet for dinner and pile on the protein and veggies and whatever else your workout/goals demand. Or buy in bulk, cook in bulk and freeze ’em for the week!
  • Protein supplements? Dont need ’em! Eat real food instead!  Running shoes? Don’t need ’em! Run barefoot instead! How can I squat without a rack? Don’t squat! Run stair/hill sprints instead! Workout gear? BS! If you’re working out at home, workout naked for all I care!
  • Gym membership? You don’t need one! All you need is one pull-up bar and an 8ft x 3ft piece of land and you are on your way to rippedville! Find stuff in the house that weighs something. Use those as weights for exercises like weighted pushups and presses. Get creative!

Summary – Be cheap. Be stingy. Eat one (or maybe two) huge meal(s) a day. Invest in the bare minimum equipment only. Embrace bodyweight training. Track progress. Stay consistent.

Case 4: I bust my ass and see no results! I have no motivation! Can’t be consistent!

  • Take a deep breath and tell yourself this ain’t 3rd grade and the scale ain’t your pointy nosed language teacher to judge you. Throw the scale out if its stressing you out.
  • Understand that you maybe doing things wrong or your current plan not might not be working for ya. Be open to making changes.
  • Keep the end goal in mind. Stay focussed. Make up your mind that come what may you WILL get there. You are NOT a mystery. You are NOT uniquely fat. You are NOT screwed for life. If a million other people can achieve what you wish to achieve, you can do it too.
  • Realize that, just like you grew taller at different rate than your buddy, you will lose fat at a different rate than someone else. Understand that (all) it takes (is) focus and patience and the drive to find what works for you.

Summary – Don’t let the lack of results demotivate you. Focus on the big picture. Make small but consistent progressive changes. Track progress during and after each change. Find what works for you. Stay consistent.

Case 5: I have no energy. Work is too exhausting!  Can’t be consistent!

  • Unless you’re a manual laborer, this statement ain’t true. And if you are a manual laborer with a physically demanding job, all you need to do is fix your nutrition (see Cases 1 and 3) and you’ll be fit as a fiddle!
  • Desk jobs are not exhausting. Sorry. Been there done that. You “feel” exhausted and drained. But its more mental fatigue than physical. Be smart about it. You are lazy and sedentary all day. So look forward to working out in the evening. Yes, its hard to make yourself workout when your brain is asking you just collapse on the couch. But your body wants the activity and will thank you for it.
  • If you are genuinely out of energy when you come back from work, then look into your nutrition. What are you eating all day? Why is the food (fuel) not fueling you well enough to get through your day? Are you eating enough? Are you getting enough nutrition?

Summary – Control your mind. Make exercise your release. Look forward to it. Look into your nutrition and eat more food/get more nutrition. Track progress. Stay consistent.

So guys, the point is to be absolutely certain to NOT follow the herd and try to do what everyone else is doing. The point is to find something legit and mold it to suit YOUR lifestyle. Being consistent is crucial… but customization comes before consistency!

Find what works for YOU. Always look for the bare minimum you can do to get the most benefit. Start there. Progress. Add more nutrition. Add more activity. Progress more. Stay consistent and with time you will work harder, eat better, progress faster and live stronger!

Peace.

The secret to awesome abs!

You are about 40 years old. You haven’t given a crap about your body for the last, well, 3-4 decades of your life. Suddenly, for whatever reason, you’ve come to realize that you are fat or overweight or unhealthy or unfit. You start a diet and/or a workout program. You lose a bunch of weight in the first week. Slightly lesser in the second. And a mere pound in the third. You freak out because 1 lb isnt enough for you. You change things up. You eat lesser. You workout more. You add in cardio. You do more abs. Nothing changes. You get frustrated, give up hope and get back to your old eating habits. The weight piles back on!

Familiar isnt it? For someone like me who deals with clients every single day, this stuff is a little too familiar. I get this from clients coming from other trainers and well, I get it from my clients too. Let me throw some light on this.

Firstly, let me make this very clear – fat gain doesn’t happen overnight and doesn’t happen for no reason. If you are overweight/obese that clearly means you that have been abusing your body via bad nutrition and/or lifestyle of mediocrity for a significant amount of time or you have some form of hormonal dysfunction (thyroid dysregulation, leptin resistance, insulin resistance etc.). So, irrespective, if you are gaining unplanned weight, something ain’t right and if this phenomenon continues, something is going to go wrong… terribly wrong. And for the record, I don’t care if your blood work is impeccable or if your fat doctor says “You are absolutely fine!”. Irrespective of your age, if you are 20+ lbs overweight and/or have a bunch of flab, you are NOT healthy.

Secondly, while you spent many years gaining the fat (and loved life while you did it!), you expect to lose the weight within a matter of weeks. I’m not telling you its impossible, but I will tell you that it is certainly unhealthy. You need to realize that your body is not a sack of potatoes. You cant just add in potatoes to increase weight and you cant remove potatoes to lose weight. Your body is a much more complex system. Anytime you start to lose weight, some bodily functions slow down or come to a complete halt and some others speed up. While this is definitely not to post to discuss these changes in detail, I’ll just touch on it by saying the reason you feel like Droopy The Dog when you’re leaning out is that as you begin to lose weight, due to less than optimal energy consumption, your metabolism tends to drop down to a freakin crawl. And as your mtabolism slows down, weight loss slows down, blood cholesterol goes up, energy levels plummet, libido disappears, sleep issues show up, hunger pangs become frequent, cravings seem like halucinations, headaches occur too much too often etc etc etc.

If this is the case, then what can you do if you have 30+ lbs to lose before your abs show? Have you caused irreversible damage to your body that it wont ever let you get to that dream physique of yours? Well, no! There are plenty of people who seem to be able to do it and that should mean it is absolutely possible for you to do it right? Yes! But how? Well, there is a secret! And being the awesome guy that I am, Imma share with you that secret!

In order to help you understand the greatness and criticality of this secret, I’m going to want you to think about bodybuilders. Why? Because they are the leanest people on earth and we can definitely learn a thing or two about fat loss from them! The guys are huge but still walk around with 6-7% bodyfat while still being able to perform some pretty awesome feats! So what is the secret?

Is it diet? Do they all eat the same diet/foods?

Well, no. People have grossly different tastes and range from almond butter lovers to quinoa crazies! Some folks eat high fat while some others prohibit any kind of fat in their diet!

Is it animal protein? Are they all meat eaters?

Definitely not. Tonnes of vegetarian/vegan guys and gals out there are are super lean and mean!

Ummm… supplements? Do they all consume the same secret supplement?

Again, no. From fat burners to mass gainers to steroids to good ‘ol meat and veggies, these people rely on different sources for their micros.

Its gotto be exercise! They all have similar workout plans! Right?

Nope! Not in the wildest of your dreams are all these awesome people doing the same workouts and hiding from you.

And no, its not the acai berry or any patented whey powder or magic intermittent fasting or sprinting or prowler pushing or anything that you may think it is. What is it then?

It is consistency!

I’m sorry if you were expecting some magical workout or some miracle berry, but this is the sane and simple truth! One can take a million stabs at bodybuilders, but one thing they’ve made themselves synonymous to is consistency! Sure genetics play a part, but no one suddenly woke up to six pack abs or randomly ran a sub 10 sec 100m sprint or squatted 400 lb by chance! These guys train like their life depends on it and are more loyal to their diet than to their wives!

You might have the world’s best diet and the most effective workout program and the greatest trainer and the most badass training equipment… but you got nothing if you don’t got consistency! That is, my fine folks, the secret… to everything!

So…

Anytime you freak out that results are stalling…

Anytime your cravings get the better of you and you find you convincing yourself that it is OK to break…

Anytime you feel all this is not worth it…

Anytime you talk yourself into believing ‘I am happy with the my current results’…

Anytime you realize you are getting greedy and wishing for too much too fast…

Anytime you come up with a hundred reasons to whine…

Tell yourself this one thing…

Stay the damn course! ‘Cos when you make it to that finish line, I swear to God, you will have a million reasons to smile!

In the next few posts, I’ll talk about what consistency really is and how you can make it work for you to reach your goals. Trust me, it is not the boring ‘eat clean and workout 4 days a week without fail’ nonsense. I understand consistency too well to waste my time and yours by writing such meaningless crap. My definition of consistency is different and is something I’m sure you’ll be able to embrace!

Adios until then folks!

Peace.

She Ate Real Food!

You know how Arvind and I keep going on and on and on about eating real food and not worrying about calories even if you are on a fat loss phase? Yea so, we tell this to everyone and no one takes us seriously! Most people are thinking…

‘These guys want me to eat as much as I can? And lots of meat? Multiple eggs? And rice?!?! And they think I’ll lose weight and look and feel great? Kraeeezieeee!’

Well I wouldn’t blame them really. Today, we, as a population, have been taught to look at food and immediately associate it with calories and fat and cholesterol and carbs! We look at an egg and immediately associate it with cholesterol! We look at rice and instantly go Carbbbsss! We look at butter & cheese and scream Fattt! We look at a box of cookies and think  ‘It says low fat and low calories. Awesome. Imma get 3!’

Thank you conventional wisdom! Thank you smart marketing folks! Thank you pharma companies! Thank you docs who get paid by pharma companies! Thank you dumb nutritionists! Thank you hypocratic trainers! We owe you!

Anyways, this being the case, I decided to put our nutritional recommendation of eat real food to the test. Having a long and strong research and development background in the neurovascular and endovascular implantable medical devices field, I am trained to test anything using a ‘worst case’ scenario. So I naturally gravitated towards testing my eat real food theory considering the worst case and hence made the following assumptions.

  • The hypothetical client is a female (which basically means greater body image issues and higher chance of emotional eating).
  • She weighs 160 lb, stands 5 ft tall and is termed ‘obese’.
  • She has very low immunity due to bad nutritional habits and hence good health is a major criterion here (i.e. she can’t go on a 3 month unhealthy crash diet).
  • She only has enough time to do 2-3 short workouts every week (which forces energy intake to be very low in order to create a significant calorie deficit).
  • She is allergic to dairy, shellfish and wheat and can’t consume any of them in any form.

The recommendation

For such a client my typical recommendation would be…

  • Eat real food.
  • Stay away for all allergens.
  • Do not worry about calories.
  • Consume 1 lb of animal products (meat and fish together) to adequate protein intake and satiety.
  • Consume 2-3 lb of mixed vegetables.
  • Eat 100-200 g of starchy vegetables (or 1/2-1 cup of cooked white rice) in your post workout along with a good chunk of protein.
  • Eat 1-3 cage free whole eggs if appetite/hunger permits.
  • Eat a handful of raw nuts if hunger strikes.
  • Stay away from grains, lentils, sugars, junk and *gasp* even fruit in addition to the allergic dairy and shellfish.

The action

Let’s assume that she takes my recommendations and incorporates it as follows.

  • She eats 3 whole eggs, half a pound of wild salmon and a half a pound of chicken breast in an effort to get her protein.
  • Since she only has access to a regular store with mundane vegetables she uses a couple of bunches of spinach, two small tomatoes, a couple of carrots and a some onions when cooking her meat and calls that her vegetable intake for the day.
  • Post workout, she decides to eat about 200 g of baked sweet potatoes ‘cos she thinks they’re delicious.
  • She understands her allergies and stays away from all junk, grains, sugars and even fruit!
  • Though this is a lot of food and I’m certain she will find it hard to even eat all this, let’s just assume that she felt a tiny bit hungry around 4 pm and munched on 9-10 almonds along with her black coffee.

Pretty good adherence I’d say. She didn’t obsess about anything. She ate her meat, managed to eat whatever vegetables she could find and stayed away from the bad stuff.

The result

So if she emailed me this as her food intake for the day, my response would’ve been – Good stuff! Keep it clean. But just for the heck of it, let’s plug it all into fitday and see what we get.

Funny stuff eh?! Even without obsessing about what she ate or trying to count calories, she got 131 g of protein (which is a perfectly good amount of protein to spare lean tissue and ensure satiety) and 116 g of quality carbs (which is more than sufficient to keep her out of ketosis and fuel her smart and short workouts) in addition to 51 g of fat! Now let’s get into this a littler deeper and look into macros.

Jesus christ!

  • It looks like she almost had a clean split between protein, fat and carbs! Wow! Was she counting calories and going insane trying to balance these out? Well, no! She just ate real food!
  • It also looks like she’s getting plenty of all the three (monounsaturated, saturated and polyunsaturated) fats! Was she adding any isolated fats (like oil or ghee) to get these in? Well, no! She just ate real food!
  • And since her only source of polyunsaturated fat seems to be the fish she ate, it looks like she is getting plenty of omega 3s! Was she supplementing with omega 3 gel caps? Well, no! She just ate real food!
  • And Oh. Em Gee! The chart says she ate 34 g of fiber! Was she eating plenty of whole freakin grains? Well, no ya dimwit! She just ate real food!

But even this isn’t good enough now is it! ‘Cos there is always that one person who has to say…

Yea… this is all fine and dandy alright. But her total calorie consumption is only 1400! Isn’t that too low? What about micronutrients? There is no way she’s getting the recommended amounts of vitamins and minerals!

Ummm… you do have a point. She probably isn’t. But before we jump the gun, let’s make sure.

Holy shmolly guacamole! It looks like her super low calorie fat loss diet is giving her MUCH more vitamins and minerals than what is recommended! Did she take one of those ultra stroung multi-vitamin tablets? Well, no! She just ate real freakin food!

Huh! Maybe shit works. Oh well! Its almost like I know what I’m talking about.

So if in 3 months you meet a friend you haven’t seen in a while and she looks amazing, says she didn’t do any crazy dieting or count calories and swears that she feels like a million bucks and that her energy level is through the roof, you better know she did one thing and only one thing… she… ate… real… food!

%d bloggers like this: