If you haven’t read part 1 do so before you read this.
Determining Goals of Gaining Muscle or Losing Fat
After all that, it’s time to add one last element to the equation. This element is simple; for aesthetic purposes it is optimal to determine whether you’re focusing on either gaining muscle or losing fat. Although it can happen, and it is possible for your body to gain muscle and lose fat simultaneously, the body isn’t too good at doing both at the same time. This is certainly true the more advanced, and further developed your body is. I was surprised with my initial results with intermittent fasting, where I noticed I was achieving both muscle gain and fat loss simultaneously. However it didn’t sustain, and eventually I had to resort back to separating objectives.
The bottom line is this that it’s critical to determine whether your primary focus is to gain muscle, lose fat, or maintain. In the future I will go into more depth on this subject, but in essence, your body is only truly effective at one of these body composition goals. This is where most people plateau. They are trying to do too much at once. If you’re serious about getting a ridiculously aesthetic body, you must ‘specialize.’ How this is done is pretty simple, whether you’re trying to gain, lose, or maintain, you must track what’s happening on the scale. Weekly scale measuring is imperative. It is the primary success measuring devise. For example, if you’re trying to drop body fat and after a week of effort you step on the scale and nothing has happened, it means you haven’t cut calories enough and it’s time to simply eat less food. If you’re trying to gain muscle and after a week of effort you have gained no weight, it means you haven’t increased calories enough and it’s time to eat more food.
So here’s a specific example of how you can incorporate what I’m talking about here. This is an example from my life, demonstrated with one of my favorite meals; scrambled eggs mixed with black beans.
- 2 eggs, added egg whites (maybe like 20 grams of additional protein or so) a bit of cheese (small handful), and 1/2 can of black beans. This is all seasoned with sea salt and pepper (it’s delicious).
Goal: Cutting Fat
- 2 eggs, added egg whites (maybe like 20 grams of additional protein or so) no cheese, and 1/4 can of black beans. This is all seasoned with sea salt and pepper (it still delicious, but a bit more blah due to lack of cheese, not to mention it’s a bit less satisfying).
Goal: Building Muscle
- 4 eggs, added egg whites (maybe like 20 grams of additional protein or so) plenty of cheese (larger handful), and 3/4 can of black beans. Again, seasoned with sea salt and pepper (and again, delicious).
Another thing to consider is dropping and raising your carbohydrate intake depending on your goals. I’ve made a graph that is a useful way of looking at things. Remember, the carbohydrate issue is a controversial one. I do not claim that this graph represents absolute reality or the way the human body handles carbohydrates. However, it is a useful way of looking at things. My recommendation is to play around with your carbohydrate intake and trace the ’cause and effect’ of what happens. Have fun with this. I’ve found that cutting the calories from carbohydrates is probably the easiest way to cut maintain your muscle mass while dropping body fat.
*click to enlarge
Keep in mind that gaining and losing is the hardest part. Maintaining your body weight is fairly simple and takes much less sacrifice. When you’re attempting to lose or gain it generally takes a massive amount effort, energy, focus, and self-imposed pain. Remember this when you are dieting and limiting your calories. “This too shall pass.” When limiting calories, you will be hungry (you’ll also feel ‘light’ which is a good feeling and one of the things I love about intermittent fasting). This is the ugly truth. However, always remember, what’s worse? A bit of self-discipline where there is a terrific reward in the end, or a life of regret, being overweight, ill, and with a lack of physical vitality and energy. I think you’d agree which is the better choice.
Some Additional General Guidelines and Recommendations
- Get use to eating mostly plain foods the majority of the time. This doesn’t mean they are gross. It means that they aren’t an un-natural roller coaster ride for your taste buds like a lot of corporate manufactured foods provide.
- Make meals taste good with sauces, spices, and condiments (that come from nature of course).
- For the majority of the time, derive joy from other areas of your life, not food.
- Like I mentioned, be conscious and be real with yourself. See certain vices for what they are; a drug. Even label them that. Occasionally I’ll go get Krispy Kreme donuts. I don’t kid/lie/rationalize to myself and say “it’s not that big of a deal.” I Tell myself the truth, I’m going to ingest a drug. That’s fine, the body can get handle a drug no problem every once-in-a-while. If it’s consistent, it will kill your spirit, and eventually your body (hilarious stand-up comedian Louis CK points this out in a funny way here.)
- Don’t be perfect. Strive to eat well the majority of the time. What ‘majority’ means is obviously subjective, and for a reason. For me, the ‘majority’ of the time means I eat what I consider perfectly 6 days a week. One day a week I eat whatever I want while still being somewhat considerate of calorie consumption. Remember, this is about sustainability. Striving to be perfect almost always results in failure, frustration, and ultimately quitting. Strive for excellence, not perfection.
What I Ate Yesterday
This post is way too long, but I want to give you a quick look at what yesterday looked like for me. Keep in mind that this week, I am focusing on cutting fat so I am limiting my overall intake.
- Skipped Breakfast: Coffee with a bit of half and half (see intermittent fasting post)
- [12:00 pm] 45 minutes of intense weight training immediately followed by 50 grams of whey protein
- [1:15 pm] Post workout meal 30 mins later: around 2 cups of low fat cottage cheese mixed with around 2 cups of raspberries (or so) and a couple large spoonfuls of peanut butter
- [5:00 pm] around 2 cups plain low fat yogurt mixed with 25 grams of casein protein and a small handful of pure shredded coconut
- [6:30 pm] 30 minutes of intense HIIT training (10 sets of running the stairs of doom)
- [7:00 pm] Went out with friends to Chilis. I ordered the Salmon meal with asparagus and a spinach salad
- [9:00 pm] around 1 cup of plain Kefir
I didn’t count my calories, I don’t care to. I know I was in a deficit because I could feel it. I felt light (good feeling) with a slight sense of hunger (okay feeling, nothing wrong with it) for alot of the day. Keep in mind that I wasn’t in such a caloric deficit that I couldn’t train intensely. This is a balancing act. Getting enough calories to still train hard, yet also being in a caloric deficit.
In case you skipped over it in part I, here are links to my favorite supplements and the stuff I generally use somewhat regularly. These are products and brands that have taken me along time and a lot of experimentation to discover. I do get a small percentage kickback on any sales through these links, so if you want to support this post and this site and you feel like trying some new stuff out, please order by clicking through these links (for those that aren’t aware, bodybuilding.com is a great place to order supplements; fast shipping, good service, cheap prices)
This may seem like a lot. My goal with this post was to be an over-view, or condensed resource of what has taken me literally years to figure out (and hours upon hours to write and articulate). I didn’t cite any scientific references because of the nature of it being an over-view. I’ve been a maniac about looking into studies and science behind nutrition for quite awhile now and this is the most condensed, simple, and sensible overview of all my findings. Obviously there’s a lot of theories and ideologies behind nutrition, and I’ve had to weigh many differing opinions. However in the end I’m really only interested in one thing; results. My experiences working with people and the fact that I’ve been able to completely transform my body makes me confident in my recommendations and of the validity of everything I’ve talked about in this article. In future articles, when I go more into depth on each issue at hand, further studies and more detailed personal experiences will be cited.
“Rome wasn’t built overnight.”
If you are new to all this, no problem, take baby steps. Try making small changes. One small change per week for example. Then add to that small change with another small change the next week. Build upon your success. Don’t try to change all at once, or you will surely fail. Remember, Rome wasn’t built overnight. For the people reading this that are more advanced in your body development, I hope this provided you an easy way to look at nutrition that will allow you to take things to the highest level possible while still maintaining the quality of your life in all other facets. Remember, ultimately this is all about simple decisions; that’s it. And finally, one last time, always keep in mind:
***this took a massive amount of effort for me to articulate and write, at some point it may even be expanded and turned into a book. If you found it valuable, please share it with your friends***