How To Gain Weight

Is your body type stuck on skinny? Here are the most effect ways to put on muscle!

Although weight-loss strategies are ubiquitous in the fitness industry, not every person in the world has that goal. In fact, questions about the best ways to gain weight pop up more often than you might think. Skinny teenagers, underweight adults, and hardgainers of all stripes scour the Internet for ways to put on muscle.

Sound familiar? Then you’re in the right place.

How To Gain Weight:

  • Eat more calories than you expend.
  • Eat nutrient-dense, calorie-rich food.
  • Increase dietary fat intake.
  • Add a weight-gainer supplement.
  • Lift heavy weight.

If you’re a hardgainer yourself, you’ve probably already heard the golden rule of weight gain: Eat up. We know, we know: You just can’t eat anymore. You hate feeling uncomfortable. You don’t like filling yourself with pizza and hamburgers.

We get that eating a lot isn’t an easy job. But, really, the simplest way we can explain how to gain weight is exactly what you’ve heard over and over: eat lots of food, train heavy, and supplement smart.

Weight Gain: The Real Story

The reason you keep hearing the same advice is because putting on some pounds is really a simple matter of consuming more calories than you burn. Now, we all know at least one person who has made the mistake of eating a lot more than necessary, not exercising, and packing on lots and lots of excess fat. That’s not what we’re here to do. We want to give you the tools so you can eat just enough calories to put on some muscle, but not enough to put on a lot of excess fat.

Be aware, though, that increasing the calories you eat in order to increase your muscle mass will also bring some extra fat mass. Don’t panic. With the right type of exercise, the fat gain can be minimal. And remember, if you’ve been struggling to gain weight, it’s highly unlikely that you’ll put on 20 pounds of unwanted fat.

To figure out how many calories you’ll need to put on some weight, use the calculator found at this article to determine your total daily energy expenditure (TDEE).

Add at least 500 calories to the number it spits out. Continue eating at least 500 over your TDEE for a couple weeks to see what happens.

If you don’t notice any changes, feel free to increase to 750 or even 1000 extra calories per day. If you notice weight gain happening too quickly, then lower your calories down to 200 or 300 extra per day. Realistically, you can expect an increase of 0.5-1.5 pounds in body weight each week. If you’re nowhere near that range, adjust your calorie intake.

The biggest issue people have when trying to put on muscle is the sheer amount of food they have to consume. You’re definitely going to have to eat a lot of calories, but there are a few tricks you can utilize to decrease the volume of food you have to chew and swallow. That way, you’ll get more calories per bite and feel less like an overstuffed teddy bear.

Be Calorie Smart

Do your best to consume nutrient-dense, calorie-rich food. Fats and oils, nuts and seeds, avocado, red meat, whole eggs, full-fat dairy, and oily fish are great choices for getting a lot of calories without having to fill your stomach to the brim. Don’t waste your time trying to fill up on gummy bears or saltine crackers—they just don’t provide enough calories or nutrients to be worth the effort.

That said, it’s also important that you let go of the mindset that you need to eat 2-4 grams of protein per pound of body weight. No scientific evidence suggests that eating all that extra protein will increase muscle mass—plus, that kind of diet can get pretty expensive. The 40/40/20 bodybuilder split just may not be the right choice for you.

Carbohydrates can offer the same calorie count per gram as protein, but they are less satiating. So, don’t be afraid to add some extra carbs to your meals. As you do, though, choose carbs that have lower fiber content so you don’t fill up as quickly. We like noodles, white rice, bread, and fruit.

And watch out for fruits and veggies with a high water content. While they may be a great source for vitamins and minerals, all that extra water can leave you feeling full and lessen the chance you’ll be going back for seconds. If you’re worried about coming up short on your micronutrients, we recommend a daily multivitamin.

Have Fun With Fat

Fat is a smart choice for your weight-gaining diet because it has twice the number of calories per gram than protein and carbs. Also, fat has the lowest thermic effect of food compared to carbs and protein. In other words, your body burns anywhere from 5-30 percent fewer calories digesting fats than it does the other two macronutrients.1,2

An easy way to up your diet’s fat content is to cook your meat and vegetables in olive, coconut, or other calorie-rich oils. In a pinch, add a little oil to your protein shake.

You can also sneak in some extra fat with your selection of protein. Opt for 80/20 ground beef, chicken thighs over chicken breasts, and look for a little more marbling in your steaks. Good options include rib-eye and T-bone.

Concerned about too much fat and cholesterol in your diet? Don’t be! Recent findings suggest little evidence linking fat intake to cardiovascular disease. While you still want to be mindful of your saturated fat intake, don’t fear the fat!

Extra Calories Make Extra Pounds

As you plan your meals for weight gain, remember that you don’t have to follow the no-salt, no-butter, no-flavor rules most competitive bodybuilders follow. Add gravy, sauces, creamy dressings, and other seasonings to your food. Not only do these extras make the food taste better so you’ll want to eat more, they add ever-necessary calories.

We also suggest choosing foods that require little cutting and chewing. So, instead of always having steak, eat ground beef or pulled pork.

Eating in a calorie surplus is no easy feat, and if you’re serious about packing on the pounds, you’re going to have to eat every 2-3 hours. This will require you to do a little planning ahead, but easy snacks to take on the go include trail mix, granola, peanut butter sandwiches, protein shakes, and bagels. And get yourself a weight-gainer to mix up a daily protein shake with milk.

Lifting To Build

Once you have your nutrition figured out, you can make some tweaks to your exercise regimen. Really, anyresistance-training protocol will help you build muscle, especially if you’re supporting lifting weights with a lot of calories. But if you want to put on some noticeable muscle mass, stick with strength and hypertrophy protocols.

Hypertrophy-based protocols require 3-4 sets using a moderate weight—around 70-80 percent of your one-rep max. This type of training has been shown to cause significant increases in the muscle-building hormones testosterone and growth hormone.3 Train hard, but make sure you’re giving yourself enough rest in between sets—around 1-2 minutes—to make your workouts less metabolically challenging.

Yes, increasing your rest periods will increase your gym time, so you may need to limit the number of exercises you perform during your workouts. Think more like a powerlifter—use big weight and take long breaks between sets. Try to get your heart rate down before you begin your next set. Keeping your heart rate lowered will help you protect those calories you’re eating so you don’t use them all when you train.

Exercise selection is just as important as the number of sets you do. We think big lifts like the squat, bench press, deadlift, row, and shoulder press are the best for packing on the most mass. However, you can still do single-joint work. Even leg extensions and leg curls can help increase strength and size, albeit not as much as compound movements.4 If you do both types of lifting, do the movements that target the largest muscle groups first, and save the isolation exercises for later in your workout.

The great thing about having all those extra calories in your body is you will feel great in the gym. Use the extra energy to put up some bigger weight and train more days during the week. It might feel like your new job is to eat and train—that means you’re on the right track.

Supps Help!

Supplements were created for a reason: Everybody needs a little help now and then. Putting on muscle can be just as much work as trying to lose 30 extra pounds of fat. Adding some simple supplements to your diet can make life just a little easier. Consider the following:

Weight Gainer

It’s a good idea to invest in a weight-gainer supplement. Weight gainers often come loaded with protein, carbs, and fat so you can increase your calorie intake without having to work very hard. With some products, you can consume more than 1,000 calories in a single serving! If you choose to purchase, read the label and choose carefully.


Creatine helps increase your performance in the gym. Usually, that means you’ll feel stronger and lift more weight. More weight on the barbell generally equals more muscle.5 Taking a creatine supplement will also draw water into your cells, effectively making your muscles a little bigger. Creatine is one of the best-studied supplements on the market. There’s really no reason notto take it. We suggest 5-10 grams per day.


Really, the more calories you can get into your diet, the better. So, if you’re already drinking a pre- and post-workout shake, or even drinking BCAAs during your workouts, adding some carbs to them can’t hurt. Dextroseis pretty cheap, too, so you can get a lot without breaking the bank.


If you want your muscles to grow, you need to give them time to recover from workouts. ZMA is one of the leading supplements for overnight muscle repair and recovery. A combination of zinc, magnesium, and vitamin B-6, ZMA is best taken before you call it lights out. ZMA has been shown to be an effective supplement for enhancing muscle recovery and boosting muscle size and strength.6,7

More Tips For Gaining Weight

Eating, training, and supplementing should make up the backbone of your weight-gaining endeavors, but these other helpful tips can make the whole process more efficient.

1. Get Some Sleep

As in any fitness regimen, sleeping is an imperative part of the recovery process. Your muscles don’t grow when you’re in the gym—they grow when you’re resting—so make sure you spend enough time catching z’s.

Skipping out on shut-eye can also increase cortisol levels in your body over time.8 Cortisol is a stress hormone produced by your adrenal glands that can stimulate muscle breakdown. One of the best ways to keep that from happening is to spend more hours with your head on a pillow.

2. Go Out To Eat

Most restaurants serve meals that are much more calorie-rich than what you’d cook at home. If you’re an in-season bodybuilder, it’s common practice to stay away from restaurants that won’t serve plain chicken breast and vegetables. But because you’re in the calorie-surplus game, you can forget all those rules and order the butter-filled, sauce-laden meal of your dreams.

If you have the money to spend on restaurant meals, go for it. You’ll get a lot of food and a lot of calories that taste way better than the food you’d cook at home, unless you really know what you’re doing in the kitchen.

3. Follow That Ice Cream Truck

Want an extra treat? Eat it. Your muscles aren’t really picky about what type of calories they consume. Eating treats like ice cream can be a delicious way to add calories into your diet.

Now, we’re not telling you to forgo all the things you learned in your nutrition class about sugar. Refined sugar, especially in large doses, is still unhealthy.

So don’t think drinking a gallon of Coke every day will provide anything other than a gut—and eventually, type 2 diabetes.

4. Go Big

One of the tricks for losing weight is to put food on small dishes so it looks like you’re eating more than you are. Well, we think the same thing will work for putting on pounds. The only difference is we’re swapping a baby plate for a giant one.

If you have bigger plates in your cabinet, use them. Same with your glasswear: Put away those 8-ounce glasses and pull out those 12- or 16-ounce tumblers and fill ’em up!

5. Be Patient

Putting on muscle is not a fast process. It takes a lot of time and it takes a lot of consistency. Give yourself a few months of work before you quit the whole process. If you understand that going in, you’ll be much less likely to get frustrated before your body has time to respond to the food and training.

6. Keep Track

Log your food, your workouts, your weight, changes you see in the mirror, and how you feel.

Bodyspace can help you keep track your food intake, workouts, and progress.

If you have no way of measuring progress, it can be almost impossible to know if you’re moving forward, backward, or just spinning your wheels.

  1. Schwartz, R. S., Ravussin, E., Massari, M., O’Connell, M., & Robbins, D. C. (1985). The thermic effect of carbohydrate versus fat feeding in man. Metabolism, 34(3), 285-293.
  2. Tappy, L. (1996). Thermic effect of food and sympathetic nervous system activity in humans. Reproduction Nutrition Development, 36(4), 391-397.
  3. Schoenfeld, B. J. (2010). The mechanisms of muscle hypertrophy and their application to resistance training.The Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research, 24(10), 2857-2872.
  4. Gentil, P., Soares, S., & Bottaro, M. (2014). Single vs. Multi-joint resistance exercise: effects on muscle strength and hypertrophy. Asian Journal of Sports Medicine, 6(2).
  5. Volek, J. S., Duncan, N. D., Mazzetti, S. A., Staron, R. S., Putukian, M., Gomez, A. L., … & Kraemer, W. J. (1999). Performance and muscle fiber adaptations to creatine supplementation and heavy resistance training.Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise, 31, 1147-1156.
  6. Brilla, L. R., & Conte, V. (2000). Effects of a novel zinc-magnesium formulation on hormones and strength.Journal of Exercise Physiology Online, 3(4), 26-36.
  7. Brilla, L. R., & Haley, T. F. (1992). Effect of magnesium supplementation on strength tining in humans. Journal of the American College of Nutrition, 11(3), 326-329.
  8. Leproult, R., Copinschi, G., Buxton, O., & Van Cauter, E. (1997). Sleep loss results in an elevation of cortisol levels the next evening. Sleep: Journal of Sleep Research & Sleep Medicine, 20(10), 865-870.

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The Facts About Intermittent Fasting, Fat Loss, And Muscle Growth

The Facts About Intermittent Fasting, Fat Loss, And Muscle Growth

Proponents of intermittent fasting make a compelling case for their approach. But is it best for your goals? Here’s the scientific breakdown, along with a middle-ground approach for maximum muscle growth!

In the fitness industry, more than just about any industry that comes to mind, extremes are the norm. What is the status quo today will be garbage tomorrow, and the opposite will become the status quo. I talked about this in my article “The Science of Sugar and Fat-Loss,” but it applies to lifts and behaviors as well as nutrients.

Think about it: 10 years ago, bodybuilders shunned the big lifts of squat, bench, and deadlift. Now it seems like every uppity bodybuilder is using a DUP template for squat, bench, and deadlift. Not that there’s a problem with that approach; I’m a fan of the big three lifts.

Eating schedules are definitely subject to these epic mood swings as well. A decade back, bodybuilder logic had everyone in the gym eating every 2-3 hours to “stoke the metabolic fire” and stay anabolic. Today, the gym is aflutter with talk about not eating for as long as 16-20 hours straight, what is known as “intermittent fasting.”

Both of these camps have their diehard adherents, and I’m not here to say that one is always right or the other dead wrong. But let’s investigate the logic behind both so we can figure out what will work best for you.

The Old Way Eat, Eat, Eat

Let’s start by looking at the old “eat every 2-3 hours” method, and in particular its claims about metabolic rate first. It has been proposed by countless experts over the years that eating more frequently will improve overall metabolic rate. While I’ll admit that the logic initially sounds good, it does not seem to stand the litmus test of the scientific evidence.

Virtually every study examining meal frequency in a recent meta-analysis demonstrated zero differences in fat loss when calories were controlled. Surprisingly, there also do not appear to be differences in markers of hungers with changes in meal frequency, and metabolic rate was not affected by meal frequency.[1,2]

This may seem blasphemous to the devout followers of the 6-8-meals-per-day mantra, but it’s difficult to argue with the data. However, it’s worth noting that this is in regard to fat loss. When strength and muscle gains are the goal, three square meals a day may not provide enough protein distribution.

That’s why, in my PH3 Power and Hypertrophy program, I advocate 4-5 protein-rich meals per day, depending on your personal preference. Any less, and you’re going to be left cramming crazy amounts of protein into individual meals, which as I’ll discuss a little later, also isn’t a good idea.

The New Way Fast, Then Feast

So if eight meals is off the table, it automatically means you should be doing intermittent fasting right? Maybe—but maybe not.

The most important factor for long-term success in dieting isn’t when you eat; it’s adherence. That’s right: People don’t fail diets because they don’t have the perfect meal frequency, food sources, or magical voodoo cleanse; they fail diets because they simply cannot stick to them.

Research data shows that of the people who lose a significant amount of weight, the majority of them will regain the weight they originally lost, and after five years, they often exceed their initial weight.[3,4] This is a huge problem, and to solve it, the focus should be on utilizing strategies that improve dietary adherence.

Thus, if intermittent fasting allows a person to better fit a diet into their lifestyle and stick to that diet, that’s a good enough argument for me—at least in regard to that person. I’ve known many people who were able to fast certain parts of the day, due to lack of hunger at those times, or simply because they had very busy jobs and that manner of eating fit their lifestyle better.

There’s another advantage, of course. Spread, say, 2,500 calories over 6-8 meals, and you’ll end up with some pretty paltry portions, but those same calories over 1-2 meals can make for a fantastic food celebration. Many people prefer to hold out a bit longer to have larger meals. I know that when I dropped from eight meals per day to four meals per day, I was much more satisfied, and my hunger levels dropped.

Can you take this too far? Of course. Many people find they simply can’t go 12 hours or more without becoming ravenously hungry, and this may make them more likely to binge eat. For others with disordered eating tendencies, they may start getting loose with their feeding windows or hoarding food.

Here’s what I mean: A normal intermittent-fasting protocol is typically 16 hours fasting with 8 hours feeding, give or take a few hours. But some people will slide into, say, 22/2, and I’ve even seen people go days without eating in order to justify and enormous binge. That is not a fault of intermittent fasting itself, but it definitely means that it is not an appropriate protocol for everyone. Thus, understanding your tendencies toward food and what you like is extremely important.

So if you prefer fasting, and it helps you be more adherent to a diet, then by all means do it. But keep in mind that it’s not magic, and it can be done wrong. Fat loss is ultimately a question of calories, not clocks.


It’s becoming clear that while your daily protein intake is important, so is how much you consume per meal and how those meals are distributed. But while most people use this realization only to argue for more protein per meal, there may be a point of diminishing returns that is important for intermittent fasters to take into account.

Research from our lab concluded that when it comes to optimizing muscle protein synthesis, overconsuming protein at one time of the day couldn’t make up for low protein at another time of the day.5 So just as there is a defined protein threshold to initiate anabolism, there also appears to be a maximal anabolic cap.[6,7] In action, this means that if you only eat a small amount of protein most of the day, but then you eat a ton of protein at one meal, it’s not going to “balance out.”

For example, let’s pretend that this anabolic cap is 40 grams protein, and the minimum protein required to initiate anabolism is 15 grams—this is all theoretical, to be clear. Obviously, you wouldn’t be anabolic during your 16-hour fast. But then, to get your 200 grams of protein in that eight-hour window at three meals, you could be consuming around 65 grams of protein at each meal. This is almost 50 percent over the theoretical anabolic cap.

For the average Joe just looking to lean up, this may not be a big deal. However, if you want some of the benefits from intermittent fasting but want to optimize muscle mass, I would advise a different type of fast. Rather than cutting out all calories, simply restrict carbs and fats during your fasting window, but continue to evenly distribute your protein intake throughout the day. Until we know where this possible anabolic cap is, this strikes me as more effective than trying to cram it all into your feeding “window.”

Take this approach, and you are still going to get a large volume of food in the feeding period and spend a large portion of the day in a low-insulin fat-burning state, but you’ll be able to distribute protein in such a way that is better for muscle growth.

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Bulking For Ectomorphs: Nutritional Requirements Including Sample Diet!

Bulking For Ectomorphs: Nutritional Requirements Including Sample Diet!

Fed up with bulking, only to look in the mirror and find the same skinny body. Learn what you need to eat… to grow right here!

Are you fed up with winter after winter of bulking, only to look in the mirror as the spring months approach, to find the same skinny body you started with at the beginning of your ‘bulk’? If the answer is yes then this article may be able to help! As I hear you gasp at the thought you won’t be skinny forever, try to compose yourself for what I am about to tell you, for it is not complex.

The fundamentals behind gaining weight are simple. Eat more calories than your body burns off.

Nothing new there then. But for us ectomorphs who already seem to be eating the world three times over, this can be tricky. If you don’t regularly supply your body with more calories than we need, it simply will not grow. Think of your body as a house being built from bricks. Your food is the bricks you need to build the house, your body. If you don’t provide your body with the building blocks it needs, i.e. calories, simply cannot grow! Try building a house with no bricks! Yeah right!

Now that we have discovered we need to eat, eat and eat some more, we cannot however, drive straight down to KFC and order 6 family buckets. No my friends, if only life was that simple. We need to eat the right amount of macro-nutrients for the body to turn them into bulging Arnold sized muscles… or something similar!

There are three main macronutrient profiles we need to concern ourselves with.


Now, carbohydrates have been targeted by the media and nutrition ‘experts’ as the route of all evil. Not for an ectomorph! Carbohydrates are your best friend. You need to realise however, that not all carbohydrates are created equally.

Carbohydrates come under two main headings, fast and slow releasing carbohydrates. Fast acting carbs, such as white rice, white bread, sweets, sugar, dextrose, etc. are broken down quickly by the body. Once you ingest these fast carbs your liver secretes a hormone called insulin. This spike in insulin is produced by your body for glucose metabolism. Put simply, it had to use these carbohydrates. If you’re at rest and you have ingested glucose not needed by your body, it is stored as fat.

However, taken at the right time, directly after your workout in liquid form, the insulin spike can fuel your muscles into accelerated anabolic recovery phase. This is good. As ectomorphs, building muscle is hard. We need to use every opportunity to create muscle and enhance recovery, so we may train again quicker.

Complex carbohydrates on the other hand, are harder for the body to breakdown. They give us a slower release of glucose when broken down and don’t spike insulin. This slow release of carbohydrates is good for building muscle, as we are constantly supplying the body with the building blocks it needs, to stay in a muscle building, or anabolic stage.

Unlike most of the world who seem to be running away from carbohydrates, you will need to consume large quantities in order to meet your required calorie intake. Remember, you are trying to bulk. You need to eat eat eat. And when you’re finished, eat some more. Stick to complex carbs such as brown rice, brown pasta, wholemeal bagels, yams and sweet potatoes.

Your exact intake of carbs will depend on your bodyweight but as a rule of thumb, take your bodyweight and eat between 2 and 2.5 grams of carbs per lb of bodyweight. Remember that carbohydrates contain 4 calories per gram.

Also, to keep your body guessing add in a day of super high carbohydrates just to trick your body so it doesn’t get used to the amount of food you are ingesting. Tricking the body will keep it growing.


Protein is quite simply your most important macro-nutrient. Protein is the building block for the body. It is very important for bodybuilders who are looking to add lean mass. You will need to stick to lean sources of protein if you want to create lean muscle.

Sure you can eat that whole sirloin steak, including the 10cm slab of fat attached to it, but don’t complain if you gain a lot of fat and no muscle. Stick to lean protein sources. Turkey, chicken, fish, lean steak and mince, eggs and of course, protein shakes.

Aim to cram down around 1.5g of protein per lbs of bodyweight.


Fats are often overlooked for ectomorphs and I had even fallen victim to the ‘all fat is bad’ trend before I learned the truth. Fats play a very important role in the body. They lubricate cells within the body, keep skin and hair soft and supple but most important for ectomorphs, they regulate testosterone levels! Without testosterone you might as well pack up and go home. No muscle bound freak ever built muscle without testosterone. Now that we know why they are important, what is the best way to go about getting them? Whoa, steady there don’t rush for the nearest bottle of oil.

Know first that fats like carbohydrates are not created equal. Food high in saturated fat needs to be avoided at all costs as they clog arteries, increase cholesterol and increase your risk of heart related problems. The fats you are looking for are high in omega 3,omega 6, and omega 9. Excellent examples are oily fish, avocados, flaxseed oil, nuts or eggs. A mixture of all of these would be the best way to go about it. To our bulking advantage, fats have 9 calories per 1g. Excellent for us ectomorphs, more penny for you buck!

It is also important to eat lots of fresh fruit and veg. In the UK the government recommends we eat 5 portions of fresh fruit or vegetables a day. Seeing as you will be eating more than the standard portion of 3 meals a day, I would recommend you try to double that. Fruits and vegetables are essentially carbohydrates so add them to your total. They also provide anti-oxidants to keep you fit and healthy.

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In Depth Look At Ketogenic Diets And Ketosis

In Depth Look At Ketogenic Diets And Ketosis

Establishing the metabolic state of ketosis even for a short period of time has many outstanding benefits.

What exactly is Ketosis? The metabolic state of ketosis simply means that the quantity of ketone bodies in the blood have reached higher-than-normal levels. When the body is in a ketogenic state, this means that lipid energy metabolism is intact. The body will start breaking down your own body fat to fuel the body’s normal, everyday functions.

What’s So Great About Being In Ketosis?

Establishing this metabolic state of ketosis even for a short period of time has many outstanding benefits.

Benefit 1

The main benefit of ketosis is that it increases the body’s ability to utilize fats for fuel, which gets very lazy on a high-carbohydrate diet. When on high-carbohydrate diets, the body can usually expect an energy source to keep entering the body. But in the state of ketosis, the body has to become efficient at mobilizing fats as energy.

Benefit 2

Ketosis has a protein-sparing effect, assuming that you are consuming adequate quantities of protein and calories—0.7 grams per pound of body weight per day—in the first place.[1] Once in ketosis, the body actually prefers ketones to glucose. Since the body has copious quantities of fat, this means there is no need to oxidize protein to generate glucose through gluconeogenesis.

Benefit 3

Another benefit has to do with the low levels of insulin in the body, which causes greater lipolysis and free-glycerol release compared to a normal diet when insulin is around 80-120. Insulin has a lipolysis-blocking effect, which can inhibit the use of fatty acids as energy. Also, when insulin is brought to low levels, beneficial hormones are released in the body, such as growth hormone and other powerful growth factors.

Benefit 4

Another small but very important benefit of the ketogenic diet is that when in the state of ketosis, ketones, along with a high protein intake, seem to suppress appetite.[3] A high-carbohydrate diet, on the other hand, increases hunger levels. Because you have to consume a lot of fat on a ketogenic diet, which hold 9 calories per gram, you are not getting much food volume. It’s not mandatory to be hungry on a reduced-calorie diet.

Where Is The Scientific Data?

Fatty acid production in fat tissue is stimulated by epinephrine and glucagon, and inhibited by insulin. Insulin is one of the hormones the pancreas secretes in the presence of carbohydrates. Insulin’s purpose is to keep blood glucose levels in check by acting like a driver, pushing the glucose into cells. If insulin were not to be secreted, blood glucose levels would get out of control.

Glucagon is on the other side of the spectrum; it is insulin’s antagonistic hormone. Glucagon is also secreted by the pancreas when glucose levels fall too low. This usually happens when a person skips meals, or does not consume adequate amounts of carbohydrates for an extended period of time. When this happens, glucagon is secreted by the pancreas to break down stored glycogen in the liver into a more usable form, glucose.

When the body’s glycogen stores begin to get depleted, rates of beta-oxidation increase, resulting in the mobilization of free fatty acids from fat tissue. This is where the metabolic state of ketosis comes in. During beta-oxidation, ketone bodies are released from the liver—because they cannot be utilized by the liver—and travel to the brain to be used for fuel. The free fatty acids can then be turned into a usable energy substrate.

What Is A Ketone, Or A Ketone Body (KB)?

A ketone body (KB) is a byproduct formed during the conversion of fatty acids to fuel. Some fatty acids are oxidized by the liver for energy production. Others can be partially oxidized to form the substrate acetoacetate, which is then converted to beta-hydroxybutyric acid; collectively, these are termed ketone bodies. Ketones can be used by all tissue containing mitochondria, which includes muscle and the brain.

Does Being In The Metabolic State Of Ketosis Present Dangers?

I feel the benefits of the ketogenic diet outweigh the pitfalls, but as with any diet, speak with your doctor first. Some of the points of arguments are:

Pitfall 1

During the first few weeks of the ketogenic diet, the body has to go through the “metabolic shift,” as Dr. Mauro DiPasquale calls it. While going through this, the body will experience a small degree of fatigue, brain fog, and even dehydration due to the increased water loss associated with ketoic-induced diuresis and water loss from depletion of glycogen stores.

Once the body gets used to manufacturing ketones as the main energy substrate, the body actually has more energy than it previously had, and you won’t have to be fighting through all those low-blood-sugar crashes your high-carb meals previously gave you. Additionally, hydration should be an area of high priority, especially before, during, and after exercise.

Pitfall 2

Blood-lipid profile is also a concern on the ketogenic diet due to the staggering amounts of saturated fats in the diet, although the diet can be centered around healthier unsaturated fats—which isn’t as fun as eating an egg and cheese omelet, fried in butter, with bacon on the side!

Blood-lipid-profile issues are experiencing much debate; some people following the ketogenic diet will experience a drop in cholesterol levels, but for some people, cholesterol levels will increase.

Pitfall 3

Because carbohydrates are restricted to less than 50 grams a day, the issue of micronutrient deficiencies can occur. Thiamin, folate, calcium, iron, potassium, and magnesium are typically inadequate in low-carb diets. The best thing to do to avoid this is to make sure you take a high-quality multivitamin to ensure you get 100 percent of the daily value. Also supplementing with a fiber supplement is a good idea to make sure your plumbing doesn’t get clogged.

Pitfall 4

Ketoacidosis occurs when the level of ketones in the blood gets out of control, which poses a severe health risk for diabetics. When massive quantities of ketones are produced, the pH level of the blood drops, creating a high-acidic environment. Nondiabetics need not fear, as the regulated and controlled production of ketone bodies allows the blood pH to remain within normal limits.

What About The Anticatabolic Effects Of The Ketogenic Diet?

Every reduced-calorie diet is catabolic, meaning the diet can cause you to lose muscle. ‘This is largely due to the fact that you are consuming less energy, so your body relies on other tissue (i.e., protein) to serve as an energy source. Added to that, some dieters do copious amounts of aerobic exercise when dieting, which can cause further breakdown of muscle. The brain can also call on protein to create more glucose for energy needs—a process called gluconeogenesis.

Ketosis is different, because, when in the state of ketosis, the brain will prefer ketones over glucose. For the dieter this is good! The body will not have to break down protein for energy. In turn the body will be forced to use its fat reserves, a.k.a. your love handles, for its energy. This is why a low-carb diet is such a good method of dieting.

So What Is The Best Way To Get There?

Through experimentation, I have found that the best way to get into the metabolic state of ketosis is by starting off using a fairly high-fat intake with smaller amounts of protein. After your body gets into ketosis, the fat intake can be reduced and the protein intake can be increased. Keep in mind that keto-adapation takes about three weeks, so be patient!

Ultimately, you want your macronutrient range to look something like this— Fats should comprise the majority of your calories, anywhere from 60 to 70 percent of your daily caloric intake. Protein intake should be around 20 to 30 percent of your daily calorie intake, and carbs should not exceed 50 grams per day.

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Ask The Nutrition Tactician: What’s The Difference Between Low-Carb And Keto?

Ask The Nutrition Tactician: What's The Difference Between Low-Carb And Keto?

One diet is low-carb, the other is lower-carb. Is there anything else you need to know? You bet. Learn the differences, and decide which is better for you.

The words “low-carb” and “keto” get thrown around a lot. Are they the same thing?

At first glance, it may appear that if you eat one less cup of rice, you can transition from a low-carbohydrate diet to a ketogenic diet. After all, both nutritional strategies place an emphasis on reducing carbohydrates, and both are often followed for their fat-loss potential. Pretty much the same thing, right?

Not so fast, ketobro. Although both diets are considered low-carb compared to the standard Western diet—you know, the one made up mostly of processed carbs and mystery ingredients—the similarities stop there, both in philosophy and execution.

Here’s what you need to know about low-carb and ketogenic diets so you can make an informed choice!

The Low-Carbohydrate Diet Defined

A low-carbohydrate diet is a pretty vague description in and of itself. After all, “low” is a relative term. But in the most effective versions of this approach, the priority is being more selective about your carbs and where they come from.

In many cases, you can still eat fruit, vegetables, and beans, while eliminating or cutting back on grains, baked goods, and processed sugars. This shift from carb-dense sources to low-density ones naturally reduces the daily amount of carbs you take in.

However, a low-carbohydrate diet lacks specific classifications of what “low” means, and often neglects protein and fat recommendations. Technically, if you’re used to eating 300 grams of carbohydrates per day, and drop to 200 per day, you’re following a lower-carbohydrate diet. If you don’t replace those lost calories, you’ll probably lose some weight, but it may have been the lower calories that caused it, not the lower carbs. Conversely, if you replace those missing calories with either more fat or more protein, you produce two very different diets.

It’s safe to say that this approach has many potential interpretations—and outcomes.

The Ketogenic Diet Defined

While a diet can become low(ish)-carb merely by cutting back on a single macronutrient, a ketogenic diet demands specific changes to all three macronutrients. For this reason, it’s hard to recommend a keto diet to someone unless they know how to track their macros or are serious about learning.

A ketogenic diet is a high-fat, very low-carbohydrate, moderate-protein approach that, when done correctly, shifts your body’s preferential fuel source from carbohydrates (or glucose) to fat in the form of ketone bodies and fatty acids. [1]

For a diet to be ketogenic, it also has to be pursued with the end goal of putting you in a state of nutritional ketosis. This is a very specific state, and unless you know what you’re doing as you aim for it, you can end up feeling pretty miserable and see your training go down the tubes. So let’s dig deeper into the details.

The Difference Is In The Ketones

One byproduct of carbohydrate restriction is increased production of ketone bodies, which are small molecules derived from fat produced in the liver. When your body’s stored glucose levels are low, ketone production increases. This can be measured via blood- or urine-ketone testing.

A traditional high-carb diet results in blood ketones between 0.1 and 0.2 millimoles (mmols), and a moderate-to-low-carb diet has no significant effect on this. However, once you truly embrace a ketogenic diet, blood ketones rise to 0.5 -5.0 millimoles, putting you in a state of “nutritional ketosis” and signifying that you’re keto-adapted. [2] This is the primary indicator that you’re following a ketogenic diet.

So how does this all translate to macros? Let’s take a look.


In most research studies, a low-carbohydrate diet is defined as eating less than 30 percent of calories from carbohydrates, which often equates to 50-125 grams per day. [3,4] For comparison’s sake, The American Dietary Guidelines (2010) recommend that 45-65 percent of calories come from carbohydrates each day. [5]

A ketogenic diet, on the other hand, is defined as eating 5-10 percent of total calories from carbohydrates. [6] This often equates to 25-30 grams of carbohydrates per day, with a suggested maximum of 50 grams per day.

Keeping your carbs consistently below this 50-gram threshold appears to be the trigger that induces nutritional ketosis and enables your body to begin relying primarily on fat as fuel.


Protein intake can run the gamut in a low-carb approach. Personally, when weight loss is the goal, I recommend maintaining a moderate to high protein level to support muscle mass and satiety.

  • High-protein diet: Greater than 0.7 grams per pound of body weight
  • Moderate-protein diet: 0.36 – 0.69 grams per pound of body weight
  • Low-protein diet: Less than 0.36 grams per pound of body weight

This recommendation doesn’t extend to a ketogenic diet—and this is one of the most common mistakes fit people make when they transition to keto. Eating too much protein—more than 0.67-0.81 grams per pound of body weight, according to Dr. Jacob Wilson, director of the Applied Science and Performance Institute—when following a ketogenic diet will kick you out of ketosis.

You know that too many carbohydrates will kick you out of ketosis. Now you know that too much protein will, too. This is because when carbohydrates are low, protein can also be broken down into glucose via a process known as gluconeogenesis. Eating too much protein—more than 20-25 percent of daily calories—increases gluconeogenesis, and therefore glucose production, ultimately blunting ketone body formation.


A well-designed low-carbohydrate diet should still have a moderate amount of fat—you have to fill your calories somehow, right? Far too many physique competitors have discovered the hard way that going low-fat and low-carb leads to poor recovery and feeling awful most of the time. That said, provided you’re getting the minimum, your fat level isn’t as crucial in a low-carb approach, since your body is still running off of carbohydrates as its primary fuel source.

On a ketogenic diet, however, everything hinges on fat. A whopping 70-75 percent of your daily calories are supposed to come from fat, because it is now your primary fuel source. [6] When eaten in the absence of carbohydrates, fat is used as a readily available fuel source. [7]

This can be hard for many people to commit to, but research increasingly supports the idea that dietary fat isn’t what makes you fat. A high-fat, high-carb diet, conversely, is the true culprit for many obesity-related issues.

Which Diet Is For You?

This is a personal question. Some people get into ketosis and never feel right. Others discover it’s exactly the feeling—and the results—they’ve been after all along.

Both diets are useful weight-loss strategies and have research to support their ability to promote weight loss (given that you’re in a caloric deficit, of course). What works for you may be largely a question of taste and lifestyle. For what it’s worth, low-carb with a moderate-to-high protein intake probably requires fewer drastic changes to your current diet and shopping list than going keto.

Most importantly, don’t throw yourself into a severely low-carbohydrate diet that’s not low enough—or high-fat enough, or low-protein enough—to kick you into ketosis. This is a recipe for hovering in that unpleasant tweener zone known as the “keto flu,” where your brain and other systems are searching for fuel but can’t find it. It’s a recipe for bad workouts, foggy work days, and rampant cravings.

In a strict ketogenic approach, the first few weeks of becoming keto-adapted can be rough, but it’s short-lived if you set up your diet correctly. Take your pick, track your macros, and pass the grass-fed butter!


  1. Volek, J. S., Noakes, T., & Phinney, S. D. (2015). Rethinking fat as a fuel for endurance exercise. European Journal of Sport Science, 15(1), 13-20.
  2. Phinney, S. D., Bistrian, B. R., Evans, W. J., Gervino, E., & Blackburn, G. L. (1983). The human metabolic response to chronic ketosis without caloric restriction: preservation of submaximal exercise capability with reduced carbohydrate oxidation. Metabolism, 32(8), 769-776.
  3. Bueno, N. B., de Melo, I. S. V., de Oliveira, S. L., & da Rocha Ataide, T. (2013). Very-low-carbohydrate ketogenic diet v. low-fat diet for long-term weight loss: a meta-analysis of randomised controlled trials.British Journal of Nutrition, 110(07), 1178-1187.
  4. Nordmann, A. J., Nordmann, A., Briel, M., Keller, U., Yancy, W. S., Brehm, B. J., & Bucher, H. C. (2006). Effects of low-carbohydrate vs low-fat diets on weight loss and cardiovascular risk factors: a meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials. Archives of Internal Medicine, 166(3), 285-293.
  5. Institute of Medicine, 2002. Dietary Reference Intakes for Energy, Carbohydrate, Fiber, Fat, Fatty Acids, Cholesterol, Protein, and Amino Acids. Washington (DC): The National Academies Press.
  6. Masino, S. A., & Rho, J. M. (2010). Mechanisms of ketogenic diet action. Epilepsia, 51(s5), 85-85.
  7. Sidossis, L. S., & Wolfe, R. R. (1996). Glucose and insulin-induced inhibition of fatty acid oxidation: the glucose-fatty acid cycle reversed. American Journal of Physiology-Endocrinology And Metabolism, 270(4), E733-E738.

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40 Laws Of Lean

40 Laws Of Lean

Looking to ditch unwanted body fat? Shred smart with these helpful tips.

Leaning out isn’t an easy process. It means eating smart, training efficiently, and remembering that every calorie burned counts. Gone are impromptu cheat days of shoveling greasy food into your mouth under the guise of a “dirty bulk.”

Leaning out is all about learning how to dial in your macros the right way, but that doesn’t mean you have to feel deprived. Leaning out doesn’t mean cutting entire food groups, ditching all compound movements, or skipping the weights to spend long hours on the treadmill. It’s all about pushing your body to its full potential the right way.

Summer might be coming to an end, but that doesn’t mean the season of lean is anywhere close to over. Check out these 40 top tips that will help guide you through a successful cut.

1. Eat More Protein

Protein is the most satiating macronutrient. In addition to leaving you feeling fuller longer, increased protein intake will also help you keep muscle mass when you’re lowering your caloric intake. Basically, it’ll allow you to pack on the gains even when slimming down. Protein also stimulates glucagon secretion, which helps liberate the stored energy you need to train hard.

2. Eat Protein Every Four Hours

Frequent, relatively equal-portioned protein feedings are key to optimizing protein synthesis. “Frequent” doesn’t meant “nonstop.” Spread your protein intake out so you are getting at least 30 g every four hours in order to maximize protein synthesis. More than 30 g is fine, too!

3. Make Green Leafy Vegetables Your Friend

Green leafy vegetables are loaded with nutrients, but not calories. As an added bonus, they keep your body functioning at an optimal level by helping you maintain your system’s acid/base balance. When you’re in your cutting phase, make it a point to have green vegetables at every main meal. Not sure where to start? Collard greens can help lower your cholesterol levels, kale is rich in antioxidants and has cancer-preventing power, and bok choy is packed with immune-system-supporting vitamin A.

4. Save Starches For After Workouts

Low glycemic carbohydrates such as green vegetables, fruits, and beans should make up the bulk of your carbohydrate intake, but that doesn’t mean you should avoid starches completely. Just save them for post-workout consumption. Simple carbs are critical for the recovery and muscle-growth process because, after crushing heavy weight, your body is severely depleted of both glucose (usable energy) and glycogen (stored energy). This is the time to consume tempting high-glycemic carbs (with an index of 70 and above) such as fresh fruits, breads, and cereals.

5. Eat For Volume

Eating foods that are high in volume but not calories (nutrient-dense not calorie-dense) will keep you full but not fat. Cabbage, spinach, lettuce, and broccoli are great foods you can eat in high volume without feeling like you’ve maxed out on your daily calorie quota.

Looking for something in the animal (instead of vegetable) camp? Look no further than the almighty egg. Egg whites expand a lot if you beat them long enough—just don’t make meringue. They’ll make your feel like you are eating a lot more calories than you are.

6. Drink More Water

Dehydration makes you physically and mentally tired. When you’re feeling a little parched—a sign that you might already be experiencing dehydration—ditch room temperature H2O and grab a glass of cold water. Drinking cold water has a slight thermogenic effect, allowing you to burn extra calories while you hydrate.

7. Don’t Drastically Decrease Fats

Eating fat won’t make you fat, so don’t make the mistake of dropping your fat levels too low when leaning out. Extremely low-fat diets are a huge mistake. Not only do fats provide your body with energy, they also help transport vitamins through your bloodstream and absorb them into your body.

Essential fatty acids—such as those found in whole grains, seeds, nuts, and some fish—have a hand in brain development and blood clotting. Balance your fat intake by eating saturated (butter, coconut oil) and unsaturated (olive oil, nuts, flaxseed) fats.

8. Cut Out Unplanned Snacks

Calories from unplanned snacking can add up quickly and can wreak havoc on your fat-loss goals. The message is pretty simple: If you didn’t plan on it, don’t eat it.

9. Make Meal Prep For The Week

Whether you’re cutting or bulking, meal prep is an essential part to any fitness journey. Eat regularly, don’t skip meals, and keep a food journal. A good food log helps monitor progress so you can make accurate adjustments to better meet your fitness goals. Writing things down will also help to keep you accountable and could lead you to snack less.

10. Pump Up The Protein

Consuming adequate protein—roughly 30 percent of your daily calories—is so important that I had to include it twice!

11. Remove Nutritional Vices

Keeping that half-eaten bag of chips in the kitchen cupboard won’t help you resist temptation. Why unnecessarily test your will power? Clear all the chips, sugary drinks, ice cream, and other processed goodies from your kitchen. If it’s not there, you can’t eat it.

12. Read Labels

Getting accustomed to reading the nutritional facts is a good habit to get into. But don’t stop at the protein, carbohydrate, and fat content— read the entire list of ingredients. You’ll be amazed at how many foods are loaded with America’s “favorite nutrient”: high fructose corn syrup. Which is code for “more sugar.”

13. Don’t Forget Your BCAAs

Branch chain amino acids (BCAA) are the building blocks of the body. Put more simply, they make up 35 percent of your muscle mass and must be present for molecular growth to take place. They help to halt muscle breakdown and activate protein synthesis. Drinking BCAAs during an interval cardio session can help you burn more fat when your carbohydrates are low.

14. Take ZMA Before Bed

ZMA—a combination of zinc, magnesium aspirate, and a hint of vitamin B6—can be taken at bedtime to help you relax and get a good night’s sleep. Proper sleep is not only important for muscle building, but is also essential for optimizing fat-loss hormones such as human growth hormone and leptin.

Intense training can deplete your mineral stores. The zinc in ZMA will help keep zinc levels up, which is important for metabolic and immune functions, including supporting testosterone levels.

15. Drink Green Tea

Green tea is a fat-loss powerhouse. It is calorie-free and contains an antioxidant/caffeine combination that will boost your weight loss.

16. Caffeinate Before Workouts

If you’re not too sensitive to caffeine, gulping down 200 mg before your workout—whether it’s cardio or weights—can help liberate some of that stubborn stored body fat. The extra energy boost from caffeine will also help keep your lifts high and help combat any fatigue you might be feeling from your reduced-calorie diet.

17. Supplement With Fish Oil

In addition to research pointing towards fish oil and omega-3 supplements as a means to help slow down the body’s aging process, fish oil decreases your resting heart rate. Why is this beneficial? A slower heart rate means you’ll have to work harder (i.e., burn more calories) to reach your target heart rate during your cardio sessions.[1]

18. Lift Heavy

Skipping out on low-rep training just because you’re dieting is a terrible idea. The easiest way to hold on to lean mass while dieting is to remind your body that it needs all the muscle it has. To maintain maximum muscle while dieting, start your training sessions off with a big compound moment in the 3-5 or 4-6 rep range. Low-rep training stimulates all muscle fibers—from slow to fast twitch. Choose a heavy weight that’s challenging.

19. Make Compound Movement Your Foundation

The benefits of compound movements are pretty simple: They allow you to lift heavier weights, recruit more muscles, and burn more calories. Lose the leg extensions, and squat instead!

20. Increase Non-Exercise Physical Activity

When you’re trying to drop body fat, every extra calorie you burn takes you one step closer to your goal. Increase your activity and burn more calories. Begin by taking some of these steps:

  • Park farther away at work or when shopping.
  • Instead of sitting, stand while taking phone calls at work.
  • Skip the elevator and take the stairs.
  • Don’t drive around the corner to the store—walk!

21. Progressively Increase Your Cardio

There comes a point where you cannot add more high-intensity exercise such as resistance training and interval training to your routine. Instead, add additional low-intensity cardio as needed. Progressively adding training and cardio volume as needed—and not right off the bat— gives your body the best chance for long-term weight-loss success.


22. Start Sprinting

Interval sprints done as part of high-intensity interval training are another great fat-loss strategy. Two or three 20-minute sessions can be a great addition to your training program. Sprinting burns a great deal of calories in a short amount of time and improves metabolism.

23. Limit Rest Between Sets

Keep your training goals in mind when you’re lifting. While cutting down on your break time between sets might mean you can’t lift as heavy with each rep, that’s OK. You’re not going after strength here. Instead, limiting your rest periods will keep your heart rate up and allow you to burn more calories.

24. Avoid Failure

When your focus is fat loss, you shouldn’t be pushing yourself to the absolute max. If you do, your ability to recovery will be compromised. Compromised recovery and training to failure don’t mix. Make sure to keep one rep “in the hole.”

25. Set Goals

You’re on a mission, and every mission has a set end point. When setting goals, determine what you want and write it down. Having something concrete will help keep you accountable.

26. Find A Mentor

Whatever your goal may be, someone has done it before. Be a copycat! Finding a solid mentor will save you a lot of time and frustration. They can help you with everything from training and nutrition to overall motivation.

27. Visualize Your Success

In order to achieve your goal physically, you need to have it mapped out mentally. Visualize yourself the day you reach your goal. What will you look like? What will it feel like? Hold that image in your mind and achieve it!

28. Perfect Your Pre- And Post-Workout Nutrition

Looking lean doesn’t mean cutting out every single gram of sugar. For example, skipping your pre-workout or post-workout shakes just because they contain sugar is a bad idea. The carbohydrates, whey protein, and BCAAs found in a solid workout shake do much more good than harm. They help you recover faster, train harder, and build muscle while dieting.

29. Get Micronutrient Support

While it’s not directly related to fat loss, incorporating micronutrients into your diet is important for overall health. When your calories are low, you’re at a much higher risk for vitamin and mineral deficiencies. Taking a multivitamin or supplementing with whole-food extracts can help prevent potential problems and keep you fully functioning.

30. Blend Your Smoothies Longer

Research from Penn State University shows that blending a smoothie longer leads to increased incorporation of air and a larger-sized muscle shake.2 Drinking the larger sized (but same calorie) shake for breakfast led men in the study to eat 12% fewer calories at lunch.

31. Keep On With Creatine

Some people drop creatine from their supplement stack when dieting to “drop water weight.” Bad idea. The water weight that you gain is intramuscular water, not subcutaneous water (water in the space between your muscles and skin). It will help drive strength gains despite your calories being low, which could lead to greater calorie burn and more fat loss.

32. Supplement With L-theanine

Low calories, lots of training, and thermogenics can cause sympathetic nervous system overload—putting you on edge and making you jittery. L-theanine—a unique amino acid found in tea—has a neurological calming effect, without taking away from any of the benefits of stimulants.

33. Breathe Deeply

Sometimes you just need to take a moment to breathe in and breathe out. Deep diaphragmatic breathing has been shown to decrease levels of exercise-induced oxidative stress in athletes. Emphasizing a long exhale stimulates your parasympathetic nervous system and further aids in the recovery process.

34. Eat Fewer Meals

Eating 6-7 times per day while dieting isn’t a smart move. Research from the University of Missouri shows that the size of your meal—not how often you eat—is a more powerful driver of satiety.[3] Instead of eating like a rabbit 7 times a day, eat like a king 3-4 times.

35. Stay Active With Aerobic Conditioning

Don’t dismiss the importance of steady-state cardio. High-intensity sprinting and intervals are great for calorie burning but, when it comes to improving your overall fitness levels, aerobic work could be the answer. Maintaining a steady intensity for an extended period of time—think 45-60 minutes of work at a heart rate of 130-140 beats per minute—strengthens your hearts ability to pump blood so that you can train harder and recover better.

36. Focus On Your Actions

Unfortunate newsflash: You really have no control over the rate at which you lose fat. There are a lot of different individual metabolic and environmental factors at play and, as of yet, we don’t fully understand them all. Don’t get obsessed with losing 1-2 pounds a week. Instead, focus on actions that are under your control. Stick to your diet and training plan, focus on being consistent, and train with intensity. Train hard, eat right, and the fat loss will come.

37. Plan For The Worst

Being optimistic is great but, when it comes to fitness, being realistic is better. Always have a backup plan. Don’t focus on how awesome your diet and training regimen is; instead, try to figure out when it will fail. Determining sticking points ahead of time (when you would skip a workout, in what situation you won’t have the food you need) is a proven strategy for increased success. Plan for the worst so that, when it happens, you’ll be ready.

38. Indulge Without Gorging

Restricting your dietary options—and categorizing everything into “good” and “bad” foods—works in the short term but is a terrible long-term strategy. Instead of eliminating entire food groups from your diet—and running the risk of binging later—find a way to enjoy the foods you like in moderation. Take the “if it fits your macros” (IIFYM) route and eat treats in the context of your diet.

39. Sleep Like A Baby

Fat loss is usually an adventure of more—more dieting, more training, and more cardio. One thing that’s continually left off of the list: more sleep. Cutting down on your sleep is a nightmare for fat loss. When you sleep poorly or too little, fat-loss and hunger hormones are kept from doing their thing, making your fat-loss efforts more challenging. Avoid this by getting 7-9 hours of sleep each night.

40. Lift With A Consistent Tempo

Metabolic training is often synonymous with fast lifting. That refers more to your rest periods than your lifting tempo, however. Keep a controlled and deliberate tempo when lifting. As opposed to just leaving you winded, a consistent tempo creates greater metabolic stress, which leads to better body composition changes.

  1. Kiecolt-Glaser, J., Epel, E., Belury, M., Andridge, R., Lin, J., Glaser, R., … Blackburn, E. (2013). Omega-3 fatty acids, oxidative stress, and leukocyte telomere length: A randomized controlled trial. Brain, Behavior, and Immunity, 28, 16-24.
  2. Rolls, B., Bell, E., & Waugh, B. (2000). Increasing the volume of a food by incorporating air affects satiety in men. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 72(2), 361-8.
  3. Leidy, H., Tang, M., Armstrong, C., Martin, C., & Campbell, W. (2011). The Effects of Consuming Frequent, Higher Protein Meals on Appetite and Satiety During Weight Loss in Overweight/Obese Men. Obesity, 19(4), 818-824.

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4 Fat-Loss Habits You Need This Year

4 Fat-Loss Habits You Need This Year

Tired of the stale New Year’s goal-setting advice? Stop focusing on the end goal, and devote your attention to building these behaviors that make fitness resolutions into reality!

By now, I’m sure you’ve heard all the advice about smart goal-setting a hundred times. And while I agree that there’s a case for making goals that are measureable, attainable, and on a timeline, there’s a fundamental problem with most of our goals: They’re entirely based on outcome.

This is the year I’m finally going to reach my goals! Low body fat, visible abs, and a flawless physique—it’s all going to be mine in 2016.

Sound familiar? At the outset, you already know what you want. Now all you have to do is go get it. Although these types of goals look shiny and bright this time of year, it’s no industry secret that the vast majority of fitness resolutioners don’t achieve them.

So what’s the other solution? I’m not going to tell you that can’t achieve fitness goals or that you shouldn’t have an “after photo” in your mind. However, how you execute your goals probably needs an update.

Make 2016 the year you ditch the resolution. Don’t focus on losing body fat or chiseling out a set of abs. Instead, commit to consistently performing the daily actions that will get you closer to those goals.

Put another way, don’t make the outcome your goal. Make your goal these habits instead!

Fat-Loss Action 1: Eat More Fruits And Vegetables Every Day

If you have a few (or a lot of) extra pounds to lose, one of the best goals you can set for yourself is to eat more fruits and vegetables throughout the day. Fruits and veggies are filling, high-fiber, oh-so-good-for-you foods. They’re packed with vitamins and minerals, but don’t carry huge amount of calories.

By increasing your fruit and veggie intake, you’re basically making less room in your stomach for anything that won’t help you achieve your fat-loss goals. You’re also doing your overall health a huge favor.

Fat-Loss Aciton 2: Strength Train Three Times A Week

I’m not telling you to go crazy and spend every open minute you have in the gym. Instead, make it a habit to lift weights three days per week.

At this frequency, you’ll still give your body the stimulus to lose fat, while maintaining or increasing your muscle mass. More muscle mass means your body will have to work harder to keep those muscles functioning and healthy, which means you’ll burn more total calories!

My preferred strength-training template for fat-loss training is three total-body strength-training workouts per week on nonconsecutive days. If you’re looking for a place to start, try the three-day.

Fat-Loss Action 3: Move Your Body On Off Days

On days you don’t strength train, get in extra movement. This can be practically anything from hopping on your favorite cardio machine for 30 minutes, to going for a brisk walk, to doing something more fun like hiking, mountain biking, or any other activity you enjoy.

Mix and match, but focus primarily on activities you enjoy. If you’re doing things you like, you’re much more likely to move frequently, consistently.

Fat-Loss Action 4: Eat More Protein

It’s a world of carbs out there. I’m not going to tell you they’re “bad.” Far from it. But if fat loss is the goal, it’s a no-brainer to include a good source of protein with every meal and snack you consume. Your body needs protein in order to build and maintain muscle. Plus, protein is highly satiating and is essential for the health of your skin, hair, and nails.

Try not to rely on only one type of protein. Mix it up. You can eat fish and seafood, meat and poultry, eggs, dairy, beans and legumes, nuts and seeds, and other protein-rich plant sources. But get it!

So repeat after me: Protein and vegetables. Protein and vegetables.

Put These On The Calendar

There’s nothing revelatory here. These are all solid, time-proven techniques. So what’s going to make them work when other stuff hasn’t? You’re going to plug them into your calendar, like they’re important meetings you wouldn’t dream of skipping.

For example, every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday (or whatever days work best for you) write down “Strength Training.” Set aside the time you’ll do it, and have your routine picked out and available, so you know exactly where it is. No guessing allowed.

On other days, jot down “hike” or whatever other activity you’re going to do. Like the training sessions, reserve a specific time, and stick to it. Every day, write notes or otherwise somehow remind yourself to “eat fruits and veggies” and “eat protein.” If you want, you can even plan out your meals beforehand. It seems like overkill if you’re not accustomed to it, but it works.

At the end of each day, check off what you accomplished. Then, you can look at the next day and know exactly what you need to do. These notes are a terrific way to stay on track because they provide identifiable actions to take on a daily basis.

Take this seriously for several months, and you’ll create habits that will help you lose body fat and build a leaner, stronger body for years down the road.

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