8 Legitimate Ways to Boost Fat Loss

I won’t make you drink my breakfast smoothie

 

 

It is important that I stress the importance of the word ‘legitimate’ in the title. Anyone that suggests you drink fit tea or wear a waist trainer deserves the fate of Ned Stark. It is also important to use these tools strategically. Here you have eight options to ensure you never hit a plateau. If you use all of these tools at once, you will basically sabotage your progress in the long run. Don’t pull a Mike Ditka and trade all those draft picks for the quick fix.

Mike Ditka notoriously traded every single draft pick in 1999 to the Redskins to select Ricky Williams

 

 

 

  1. Cut Calories

Let’s just get the obvious ones out of the way first. Calories matter, no matter what guru will tell you. They matter in every single diet, even the ketogenic diet where you are completely changing your body’s main fuel source. If you cut calories you will lose weight, but you have to know where to cut from. Choosing an arbitrary number as you new caloric total is akin to throwing darts blindfolded. It pays in the long run to calculate your maintenance calorie total (the amount you need to maintain the weight you are right now) and work from there.

2. Add Cardio

Sometimes we forget that energy balance works in two ways. We here the phrase “I need to go on a diet” far more often than “I need to increase my energy output.” But it’s true; adding more cardiovascular exercise is just as effective as decreasing calories. More on specific types of cardio later.

3. Cycle Your Carbohydrates

There is a drawback to steadily lowering calories, and it is has to do with the relationship between calorie intake and metabolism. Metabolism has a direct relationship to calorie intake; if you eat less eventually your metabolic rate will also decrease. Carb cycling negates this. In a nutshell, carb cycling is manipulating you carb intake over time (i.e. 2 low carb days, followed by 1 high day). The periodic high carbohydrate days are basically a ‘reset’ for your metabolism. Things become problematic when high carb days get out of control and become massive cheat days. Be responsible with your carb refeeds, it’s not a free for all.

4. Change Your Cardio

No no, I don’t mean start doing fasted cardio. Okay I suckered myself into this one. For anyone wondering, fasted cardio is no better or worse than fed cardio for fat loss if all other variables are equal. If you like it, do it, but it’s not necessary. What I mean by changing cardio is taking more of a HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training) approach. LISS (Low Intensity Steady State) cardio will eventually fail you because it is… low intensity. Your body is quick to adapt to low intensity cardio. High intensity cardio will have you approaching your max heart rate during every session, which means you never truly adapt to it. It is also way more convenient and efficient. You can complete a high intensity cardio session in as little as 15 minutes.

5. Change Macronutrient Ratios Within Same Caloric Total

Protein will likely remain a constant on any diet, but carbohydrate and fat ratios can certainly be adjusted. Certain people can tolerate carbs better than fats and vice versa. This strategy is particularly useful when one’s calories are already low and the person may be hesitant to drop them further for fear of jeopardizing their health.

6. Change Carbohydrate Timing

We can argue all day about the role meal timing plays, but I think most would agree that our bodies are more insulin sensitive and thus can process carbohydrates more efficiently after a workout. As a result, shifting a greater portion of your carbs to your post workout meal may be a better strategy than cutting carbs.

7. Change Your Food Choices

Perhaps you can’t do IIFYM the way others do. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying tracking macros doesn’t work (see #1, I’m all about the numbers). This is more about compliance. We all have trigger foods. Trigger foods are the things that send us off the deep end. Triggers foods are foods that we can’t eat just one of. In the end, the best diets are the ones that we can follow. If you keep foods around that test your willpower, it’s a recipe for disaster. There’s a reason you won’t find peanut butter in my pantry.

8. Supplements 

Hear me out, there’s some decent research behind some supplement ingredients with regard to fat loss. Caffeine, Yohimbine, Synephrine, and Carnitine are all things I look for when shopping for a thermogenic supplement. Other ingredients like CLA and Raspberry Ketones are popular in the fat loss category, but I feel lack the research to be considered effective. I’m not avoiding them by any means, but won’t go out of my way to purchase them.


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Don’t Ruin Flexible Dieting For the Rest of Us

Flexible dieting, also known as IIFYM, is the most polarizing diet protocol in the fitness world right now.  Users punch their information into a total daily energy expenditure (TDEE) calculator, which then spits out a caloric value and individual macronutrient totals.  The idea behind flexible dieting is that weight loss and weight gain is based primarily on calorie (and subsequently macronutrient) intake.  Thus, food choices are considered somewhat irrelevant as long as one hits their daily macronutrient goals.  It’s hard to argue this point since any intelligent dietitian or nutritionist will tell you that thermodynamics is the basis of any successful diet.  Even the ketogenic diet, which completely changes the body’s primary fuel source, brings thermodynamics into play.  It’s unclear whether or not ketones are metabolically advantageous.  Even if they are, the question becomes ‘how advantageous are they compared to carbs?’  Odds are: not enough to make a considerable difference, but I digress.

The reason flexible dieting is so polarizing is because of an assumption about the diet that is often ignored.  The assumption is that the dieter is getting adequate micronutrients and fiber every day.  If the person is fulfilling this need, then quite frankly it’s hard to eat ‘junk’ all day.  You need a variety of nutrient dense whole foods to get the vitamins, minerals, and fiber that is vital for optimal health.  The problem is… most people aren’t doing this.  And it’s not just a few people ruining the reputation of the diet for the noble IIFYMers either.  Social media makes things very transparent.  Our precious fitspo and fitfam hashtags reveal that people are doing this on a daily basis.

I call this phenomena ‘macro hoarding.’  It occurs when someone consumes mainly protein during breakfast and lunch, thus leaving a ton of fat and carbs left to be used on desserts, pizza, candy, etc. at night.  This is fine once in a while; like a night out with friends where a drunken diner run is almost inevitable.  This is actually a smart, strategic move to keep yourself on track.  Doing this on a daily basis however is not what this diet was designed for, and quite frankly may be a precursor to an eating disorder or at the very least a warped relationship with food.  Flexible dieting is about freedom, not a free-for-all.

Don’t be the one to take advantage of the system.  Do it with your diet and it’ll be a matter of time before it translates to other aspects of your life.


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Why Your Team Will NEVER Win the Super Bowl

Every year, new young players come from seemingly nowhere and emerge as dynamic talents in the NFL.  Often they are late draft picks or even undrafted free agents and we are left to wonder how our team missed out on them.  Two of these players, Taylor Gabriel and Dion Lewis, played on opposite sides in this year’s Super Bowl.  Gabriel hit the spotlight around the middle of the regular season; where he would routinely take simple wide receiver screens and turn them into 50+ yard touchdowns.  Lewis was injured up until late in the year, but quickly established himself as a threat on the ground, in the passing game, and the return game.

As these two players became more well-known, an interesting fact surfaced about both of them.  At one point, both Gabriel and Lewis played for the lowly Cleveland Browns.  It didn’t take long for memes and posts to circulate on social media poking fun at the Browns for releasing two players that could certainly help a 1-15 franchise.  How could they pass on these guys?

Believe it or not, I’m here to defend the Browns.  The Browns can’t succeed because of their culture.  Neither can the Jets, Bengals, Bills, Jaguars etc.  Taylor Gabriel and Dion Lewis would never develop and grow to their full potential on the Browns.  I guarantee if you put the most talented young players on the Browns every season, 90% would not reach their potential.  Only a select few with unique work ethic like Joe Thomas and Terrelle Pryor would thrive.  But again I’m not just picking on the Browns here, there are countless examples:

Danny Woodhead: Undrafted free agent signed by Jets.  Doesn’t make the team, picked up by Patriots and becomes one of the best pass catching running backs in the league.

Chris Hogan: Cut by 49ers, Bills, and Dolphins (teams with no recent success).  Now a starting receiver for the Super Bowl champion Patriots.

Greg Olsen: Solid starting Tight End with Bears.  Three time pro bowler with Panthers.

Willie Snead: Undrafted free agent signed by Browns.  Now starting for New Orleans Saints, just under 1,000 yards past two seasons.

A crappy team looking for a quarterback would be far better served to trade for Jimmy Garoppolo than try to develop a rookie.  Garoppolo comes from a winning organization and has developed under possibly the best coach/quarterback duo of all time in Bill Belichick and Tom Brady.  You’d have to try really hard to screw him up.

For years I thought the Jets scouting department was awful.  How could they miss on quarterbacks time after time?  Geno Smith, Mark Sanchez, Greg McElroy, Matt Simms, Kellen Clemens, Tim Tebow, Bryce Petty.  You would think ONE of these guys would pan out right?  Then it finally dawned on me.  This has nothing to do with scouting.  All of these guys have the talent to succeed, but the culture within the Jets organization does not facilitate growth.  There may be outlier seasons here and there where they make the playoffs.  But overall the organization is so inept that even the great Brett Favre couldn’t save them.  If you think Deshaun Watson or Mike Glennon is the answer, I’ve got bad news.  Change needs to happen at the top first.

The same idea applies to business.  Ever been in a job with a shitty boss, no opportunity for growth, and miserable co-workers?  At some point you realize you’re not developing and either quit or stop trying.  On the contrary, a great work environment miraculously makes employees try harder (I get it, this is rare. Hence why I work for myself).  You have to be able to recognize this, especially if you are in my age range.  Once you ‘have to’ work somewhere because of a mortgage, wife, and kids it becomes problematic.  At that point you’re stuck unless you’re willing to take the financial risk of possibly being unemployed.

If you are in a position of leadership, you better take notice.  You better have the self awareness and emotional intelligence to lead people.  If you micromanage and become apathetic toward their feelings, they will resent you forever.

Be like the Patriots and Spurs, not like the Browns and Knicks.


5 Mistakes Advanced Lifters Make

There are situations where becoming proficient at a skill can be a curse.  Naturally, we tend to rest on our laurels and get comfortable with the results.  Working out is a stress and the gains are the adaptation to that stress.  The funny thing is, you will make gains doing virtually any type of workout program as a beginner.  You are introducing a new stress and your body is adapting and building muscle.  Most people don’t realize this and think that their way is the right way.  With that being said, here are five mistakes that even seasoned gym veterans make related to their workouts.

 

Not using periodization in their programs

 

How long are you going to do three sets of ten for every exercise?  There is a fear among bodybuilders about doing five reps or twenty reps per set.  What many don’t realize is that the relationship between reps and goals works as a continuum.  When you perform a set of twenty squats, it’s not as if there are zero hypertrophy benefits.  There are some hypertrophy benefits and some endurance benefits.  Proper periodization allows one to avoid plateaus.  There are various types of periodization protocols, all of which serve a specific purpose.  Some change on a workout-to-workout basis, others change weekly or even monthly.  It’s up to you to determine what fits your needs.

 

 

Changing for the sake of changing

 

I get a chuckle when people tell me that they are shocking their muscles by doing different exercises.  Correct, they will be shocked when you perform an exercise and feel zero tension as a result.  I’m all for experimentation, but it’s important not to be stubborn.  This is of particular importance when it comes to ‘popular’ exercises.  The classic example I give to my clients is myself and dumbbell tricep extensions.  Tricep extensions are a staple in the arm workouts of many individuals.  I simply don’t do it.  They feel awkward and I know I’m not getting a proper contraction.  There are plenty of other exercises that engage my triceps more effectively.  Don’t feel the need to do something just because everyone else is.

 

It's known that Ronnie Coleman only had an 'A' and a 'B' workout for every body part

It’s known that Ronnie Coleman only had an ‘A’ and a ‘B’ workout for every body part

 

 

Staying in the same gym

 

Most people don’t like change, especially when it comes to their surroundings.  It’s human nature to get comfortable in the same setting day after day.  The gym is no different.  Inevitably, you will make friends with the other patrons and the staff at your facility.  It’s important to be honest with yourself and determine if this is affecting your workouts.  The answer is probably yes.  Take a few weeks to check out a new gym.  Work out in a place you aren’t comfortable.  A place where you can focus on yourself.  Odds are you’ll find a piece of equipment you’ve never used before.  Even corporate gyms usually have different machines that vary from location to location.

 

 

Not taking time off

 

Habits, both good and bad, are hard to break.  An advanced lifter probably hits the gym five or six days per week.  It’s hard to give maximum effort when you’re training that consistently, no matter how good your intentions and mindset are.  Take a few days off.  Hell, take a week off.  You’ve spent years building a physique, it won’t disappear over a long weekend.  The time off will reinvigorate your passion for working out and give your body what was likely some much needed rest.  We all need a reset once in awhile.

 

 

Lack of a defined goal.

 

I want to get huge.  I want to get strong.  I want to get shredded.  If this is your goal, you will fail.  A proper goal can be quantified and has a specific time frame attached to it.  I want to lose ten pounds of body fat in twelve weeks is a clearly defined goal.  Seems simple, but this level of detail is rare.  If your goal is ambiguous, you’ll never truly know if you are making progress.  Ask a friend what their fitness goals are.  I’m willing to bet their reply will be one of the first three sentences in this section.


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Why Do We Vilify Certain Athletes?

Let me say right off the bat that this blog is not necessarily about Colin Kaepernick.  But the situation did remind me of this topic, which I’ve been meaning to discuss for awhile.  I wasn’t necessarily surprised by the coverage Kaepernick got (late summer is a slow period for sports), but more so by the public backlash.  Perhaps patriotism isn’t as dead as I thought.  But, it’s very interesting how media and society pick and choose the athletes that they scrutinize.  There are athletes who do something wrong, yet the punishment in the court of public opinion doesn’t fit the crime.  They are destroyed for acts that, in the grand scheme of things, are not that big of a deal.  Then there are athletes that can do no wrong, where their popularity and charisma trumps all.

 

A-Rod vs. Big Papi

 

Alex Rodriguez

For much of his career, Rodriguez was the most hated man in baseball.  He was booed out of every stadium, at times even his home stadium.  A-Rod took steroids and damaged the integrity of the game.  He fought the system hard knowing very well he was guilty.  However, whether you cite the Mitchell Report or the Biogenesis scandal it’s clear that hundreds of players used performance enhancing drugs.  But Rodriguez, perhaps unfairly, became the poster boy for PEDs.  A-Rod supporters called it a witch hunt.  Rodriguez mentored young players like Robinson Cano and Aaron Judge.  He had an intense passion for the game and was known to stay up after games watching MLB teams on the west coast play. But tabloids like the one shown below would never mention that.

arod

 

David Ortiz

Ortiz’s name was also linked to steroid use .  For whatever reason it is overlooked by most fans.  Big Papi is retiring at the end of the season and in the meantime is enjoying a farewell tour when visiting opposing ballparks.  This particular steroid user is being showered with gifts as he bids adieu to the game of baseball.  Ortiz is a beloved baseball personality and appears in numerous commercials.  But in the end, is he any less guilty than A-Rod?

 

 

Lebron vs. Kobe

 

LeBron James

LeBron will never live down The Decision.  The Decision was a special ESPN broadcast in which LeBron would decide where he would ‘take his talents.’  After carrying the likes of Larry Hughes, Mo Williams, and Daniel Gibson deep into the playoffs, he announced that he would now play with Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh.  For this he was considered a traitor to his hometown of Cleveland and arrogant for making his choice on live TV.  This led to infamous jersey burnings and backlash among many fans, not just those in Cleveland.

When you step back and analyze the situation, the hate for Lebron is outrageous.  The talent around James in Cleveland was absolutely horrendous, so he decided to play with his All-Star buddies in Miami.  By the way, The Decision TV broadcast raised $2.5 million for charity, but that’s not an interesting headline or news story.  Lebron married his high school sweetheart and has three kids.  You never hear about adulterous behavior or quite frankly any bad behavior with Lebron.  He is one of the most charitable and philanthropic athletes in the league.

 

Kobe Bryant

The Kobe Bryant sexual assault case and the Kobe-Shaq feud each have their own Wikipedia page.  But again, it’s another example of athlete scandals that are forgotten.  He wasn’t always considered the best teammate, perhaps a victim of his own work-ethic and competitiveness.  But that’s not what we remember.  We remember 81 points against Toronto, 60 points in his final game, five NBA titles, 18 All-Star appearances, and a slam dunk title.  It’s clear that Kobe’s transgressions greatly outweigh Lebron’s, but wouldn’t you agree that Kobe is by far the more popular athlete?

 

 

 

T.O. vs. Marvin Harrison

 

Terrell Owens

T.O. was loud, obnoxious, polarizing, and a bad teammate.  Say what you want about Owens, but he never got in trouble off the field (sans for child support payments, apparently the dude is broke).  No DUIs, no domestic violence, no drugs, always showed up in shape and ready to perform.  Football players like Brett Favre and Ben Roethlisberger are often praised for their toughness, but what is often forgotten is that Owens caught nine passes in the Super Bowl just weeks after breaking his leg.  He was killed by fans for his tendency to drop passes, choosing to ignore the fact that he often played games with broken fingers.

 

Marvin Harrison

I originally had Ray Lewis as the opposition for Owens, but I’m going to do you one better.  The Ray Lewis murder story is well-documented, but not everyone knows about Marvin Harrison’s troubles.  Marvin Harrison has been linked to the murder of Dwight Dixon, which was chronicled in this ESPN E:60 piece.

Harrison and Owens are linked because both are elite wide receivers that were eligible for the hall of fame this past year.  Harrison was elected despite being widely considered the inferior player.  Owens has more receiving yards and touchdowns than Harrison, and played with lesser Quarterback talent.  Numbers aside, the ‘eye test’ would show that Owens was a more dominant and game changing player than Harrison.

 

 

 

DC vs. Bones Jones

 

Daniel Cormier – Criticized for a boring style of fighting.  Respected by his peers, talented analyst for Fox Sports, but guaranteed to be booed if his face is shown during an event perhaps due to his rivalry with the next man on this list.

 

Jon Jones – Hit a pregnant woman’s car and fled the scene.  Failed drug tests for cocaine and PEDS.  Refused to fight Chael Sonnen on short notice which led to the cancellation of UFC 151, the first event to ever be cancelled.  Yet still one of the most popular fighters in the sport.

 

 

 

Tebow vs. Manning 

 

Tim Tebow – One of the most polarizing figures in sports due to his faith and unusual style of play.  Someone unfamiliar with Tebow may assume that he is polarizing because he pushes his Christian beliefs to the public, but he really doesn’t do that.  He is the MVP of intangibles; great person, teammate, charitable, hard worker, and leader.  Let’s be honest, Tebow probably should be on an NFL roster.  The read-option formation is still heavily used, and despite not having the greatest mechanics Tebow is still a threat to both run and pass.  However, the media coverage that comes with Tebow scares most teams away (aside from perhaps the Atlanta Braves).

 

Peyton Manning – Everyone loves Peyton Manning.  He’s one of the best Quarterbacks ever.  He’s funny, charming, and in every TV commercial known to man.  When he was accused of having HGH sent to his house under his wife’s name, it got ZERO attention.  Whether it’s true or not is almost irrelevant, but this is a perfect example of how the media controls what we deem as important.  If HGH was sent to Tom Brady, do you think it would be ignored?