The following is a list of things I wish I only had to cover one time with clients, but the problem is they are so seemingly insignificant that most people underestimate their importance. We have to pay a lot of money for the secret pill, diet plan, or workout routine that will give us amazing results, right? Nope. Just like training, it is the mastery of the basics that make all champions.
Are you drinking enough water?
A good trick ( I actually picked up from watching my wife, the chick in the pic above) - use one main bottle to drink water out of, put a piece of white tape on it, and mark a line on it every time you finish a bottle. A good start if you have been under drinking is 3 liters for an average woman, and 5 liters a day for an average man. Will need to go up once your efforts and size start going up. I drink maybe 3 to 4 liters just in a workout. Good for the skin, brain, cardiovascular system, and muscles. Keeping up on your water also helps your body keep up with flushing out all the toxins we are exposed to everyday. Be consistent with this and you will be happy with the results.
Are you consuming enough fiber?
30g people! There are gastroenterologist that have gone on record to say they would be out of business if everyone would consume at least 30g of fiber a day. If you haven’t been hitting that mark for some time then don’t shove 30g down your throat on day one least you care to sit on the toilet all night. Work up slowly over a few days, and yes, adding in metamucil and other supplemental fiber from the stores is ok but you really shouldn’t have a problem getting 30g in a day through diet alone.
What foods do you eat for breakfast?
I could go into a few chapters length on this one, but lets keep it short. Protein and fats, that’s what you want. If nuts don’t seem to do you well then try raw vegetables (green beans, peppers, cucumbers, etc). You set your entire system up for the day with breakfast. If you slam down some sugary oatmeal and a fruit smoothie for breakfast, don’t expect to be superman all day. You might ride a high for a short while but your blood sugar will come crashing back down along with your productivity. Meats and nuts (or veggies) will keep you stable, and the protein is good for your brain, not to mention this is also the best combo to have before you workout too! Find that you don’t have an appetite for meat in the morning? That’s fine… for now. To me it’s more of an indicator that something is wrong with your stomach acid levels, gut bacteria, or your maybe you just need to supplement with Omega 3’s and B vitamins. Our appetites are not reflections of our personalities but rather a glimpse of our chemical balance inside. As I work with people on correcting imbalances in their diet, stomach, or bacteria I always hear how much more they enjoy meats and such.
Are you sleeping?
I don’t know why people seem to think they can beat a sleep deficit. Don’t force yourself to come into the gym and taint the atmosphere with your half assed effort because you’re trying to prove to yourself you can push through a little restless night. Gains and progress come from balance, NOT burning both ends of the candle with a blow torch. Sleep more and live to fight another day. One good training session is tons better than 2 or 3 half assed, half asleep sessions. Take naps too!!! One of my favorite things to do on a weekend is wake up, eat, workout, eat, and nap. I feel like that one a week nap routine does wonders for my recovery.
How much protein do you have a day?
This is your number one goal if you go to the gym. Don't care if you are losing weight, gaining muscle, or just coasting along in easyville. Protein drives everything else. Need to lower calories? Base it around your protein intake. Need to gain muscle? Base it around your protein intake. Don’t let the talk of “macro ratios” or “carb cycling” or ….”keto” (excuse me I just threw up in my mouth a little) fool you. Even when you do all these, you base everything (or you should) around protein. However much you have, try to have as many meals as you can based on your intake hit at least 30g a meal. This is the threshold to stimulate muscle protein synthesis (MPS), which in general terms is what you want for repair to make things bigger faster stronger. Take 100g. You can have 5 meals a day with 20g each, but that won’t do much in terms of positive adaptation (MPS). You might prevent muscle loss, but you won’t be doing much to help muscle growth. You could also have 3 meals with 30g, and a snack with 10g in it. This would do much better in terms of growth and repair.
Again, your goal is ALWAYS about muscle.
Want to move up from a medium shirt to a large? Gain muscle. Want to be better in sports? Muscle. Trying to lose body fat? MUSCLE!!!! Not only does it look better than fat, it's way more costly to your body to keep around than fat, so it burns more calories the more you have! Also, remember how I said your diet should revolve around protein? This is one main reason why. Focus on muscle maintenance (or gain) through protein, and manipulate calories through the other macronutrients. Yes, it can be a little different than this, and some other things have worked for others, but this is a safe, rational, generalized way to think about your food that you should master first before trying anything else advanced. Even then, those advanced methods are only used for brief periods before coming back to this. Eat for muscle, train for muscle, sleep for muscle, live for muscle.
Your body doesn’t care how good you did all week. So don’t think you earned a free ticket to Margaritaville for the weekend because you ate so well Monday through Thursday. You are either in this to make a change, or you go to the gym for the same reason most people go to church on Sundays… to feel less guilty. Change requires work and dedication. I never understood how people can suffer through the worst workouts, blood turning to battery acid, lungs filled with napalm… but can’t endure going hungry for 2 min without destroying some Little Debbie snacks. Now I’m not a food Nazi. I don’t scold my clients for having cake here and there, but if you come in EVERY weekend and it’s the same story of how you just ate like shit starting Friday night all through Sunday then you need to take stock of yourself and ask what you really want out of this. Look back through your training history too and I am sure you will find that you made the most progress when you stuck with your plans through multiple weekends. Success breeds success. This is no different even for the most veteran client too. In fact they may have it even worse. The longer you train and eat well, the harder you fall when you go out and let it all go. Talk with your trainer on how to plan “refeeds” or “cheat meals” or “high carb meals” to best suit your composition goals and also your realistic lifestyle choices.
For the love of GOD, please eat before you come in and train.
I let it slide the first time, but few things get on my nerves as much as a client that comes in with an empty stomach to train because they
1.) are trying to lose weight
2.) don’t want to get bulky
3.) forgot to eat. I don’t know how you forget to eat. I base my entire day around feedings.
Look, working out requires energy. No way around that. Calories are our only source of energy. Again, no way around that one either. With me so far? So, let’s agree to eat a little energy in order to burn some more energy in the gym, and then eat a little more energy in the form of protein to rebuild more muscle which in turn will burn more calories when we are at rest doing nothing. Now, let’s focus on keeping the protein high enough (by basing our diet around protein) to keep lean mass (muscle) up while keeping total calories at a low enough intake to promote body fat loss. Bam! Do all that while sleeping and drinking enough, taking in enough fiber, and starting our days off with a good breakfast and you got yourself a solid, bona fide weight loss program!!!