The Definitive Diet Guide & Plan I‟ve decided to write up all the info you‟ll need to know to maximise fat loss. It‟s lengthy but worth the effort of reading and least I wouldn‟t have written this all in vain. I‟ve divided it up into various sections and posts for ease of use. Section 1 – Basic Information about Dieting Section 2 – Pre-Diet Section 3 – The Diet Section 4 – Post Diet Section 5 – Training Section 6 – Customising All of the information below will help achieve the „toned‟ look, which is what the majority strive after. This look is merely a combination of having sufficient muscular development and lower levels of bodyfat which is the result of sufficient exercise being preformed and a strict diet being in place Now a lot of people get put off by that word (dieting) but it‟s because it has a lot of negativity attached and people often get the wrong idea of what proper dieting entails You need to attack the problem of excess bodyfat from two angles; the first being specific training and secondly a specific diet, so training & eating for the purpose of fat-loss. Note: You can’t out-train a crap diet, so don’t fall into that … oh I’m only going to burn it off anyway… err no you won’t!! Not if you want optimal/rapid results The reason we need to be strict in the diet specifically is because bodies are designed to maintain homeostasis (keep things constant) so that it can properly regulate bodily functions, simply put… it likes being the way it is, it doesn‟t want to change and therefore to make any change you will have to force it to, by the way of changing dietary and physical habits For the majority, you aren‟t that far away from your goals, for instance 10-15lbs of fat can be lost in 2-3 months but it is demanding The plus side is that once you achieve your goals it‟s MUCH easier to maintain that, as since our bodies don‟t like change … it will learn to accept the new you as the standard and the diet need not be as strict as when you trying to get lean Section 1 | Basic Information about Dieting The vast majority of us are never actually taught about food, or even give it a second thought; we just eat when we‟re hungry, and eat whatever‟s around. Unfortunately this tends to be overly processed, calorie dense and nutrient lacking food. The problem with this is, that it leads to bad food habits, which are very hard to unlearn as we get older, and this is the underlining reason why the problem of excess fat develops Below is a basic introduction on how to improve your eating habits. Feel free to ask any questions or if you want further clarification on anything 1. Eat More Frequently This has really been beaten to death and I don‟t need to go on about it to hammer home the message but essentially it's MUCH better to eat 5-6 smaller meals a day as opposed to 3 large meals and snacking in-between. The reason being that our dietary habits have changed faster than our bodies have. Our bodies have a built-in storage mechanism, and therefore is always looking to conserve energy in the form of bodyfat. Eating more frequently counter-acts this, by telling our bodies, “Why should I bother storing it? I‟m getting fed all the time!!” You should be eating 5-7 meals a day, every 2-4 hours This will ensure that the food you eat gets burnt for energy rather than stored for hibernation. 2. Drink More Fluids The vast majority of us don't even meet the minimum daily requirement of water (1.5 Litres) We should all strive for at least 2-3 litres per day, which should come from non- calorie containing drinks (best choices being water & green tea) A few benefits of more water are ; - Less Water Retention/Bloating (more water in, more water out) - Decrease Hunger (the signal for being thirsty and hungry are similar) - Improves Skin Complexion/Health 3. Avoid - Low This, High That Methodology The diet industry love to make a particular macronutrient (protein, fat and carbs) good or bad, and people fall into that trap.. thinking a lot and/or little of something is good for them Unfortunately...as with most of life.. few things are ever good in infinite amounts or you should totally avoid, it's about finding the right balance.. and I will discuss how we should best accomplish that below ; Carbohydrates Carbs are actually the most important aspect to get right as they are the most important aspect in regards to body composition. The best way to deal with carbs is a two-fold method and that is to focus on two key points - Timing & Type Timing Carbs provide the body with energy, however if we are not being active than all that'll happen is that the energy will be converted into fat for storage by the body. This is where the idea of carb timing comes into practice. There are 2 main times in your daily life that will require a higher carb intake; Breakfast You are going to be awake for the next 16 or so hours, so therefore you need to fuel your body with energy for the rest of the day. I know it's an old saying..but breakfast really IS the most important meal of the day Secondly your glycogen stores are low at this point therefore any carb intake is more likely to be used to replenish this. Post-Exercise After exercise, your body is in a depleted state and therefore needs carbs to replenish it and to aid recovery. When your body is in this state, it's not going to convert that extra carbs into fat as it's more interested in repair. So eating a protein/carb-rich meal within 60-90 mins post exercise will help aid this All Other Times Carbs should be limited at all other times, especially at night . In the last 2 meals of the day, carbs should only come in the form of fibrous vegetables such as spinach, broccoli, cauliflower, peas Type The vast majority of carb sources these days are well to put it blunt - crap We should be getting our carbs from foods that don't have heavy processing, below I've listed foods that are the best for us. Ideally the vast majority of your diet should consist of carbs from the excellent and good sections and is recommended you avoid the bad list Excellent Sources Brown Rice, Yams/Sweet Potatoes, Vegetables (minus potatoes, and canned forms, fresh/frozen is best), Rolled Oats, Fruits, Dried Fruits (unsweetened), Certain Cereals (Weetabix, All-Bran, Bran Flakes, Fruit & Fibre, Muesli) Good Sources White Rice, Potatoes (not an excuse to fry it, or have crisps, potato waffles, etc..) Wholewheat Bread, Tortillas, Chapati's Avoid Juices, (exception : unsweetened are ok for breakfast) Breakfast Cereals, Bagels, Pastries, Sweets, Biscuits - Basically most things in life..lol =P Protein Protein is used to repair and improve your cells, muscles, etc.. also it has the extra benefit of providing more 'satiety' to your body which is the feeling of fullness, and has the highest thermic effect (the amount of energy needed by the body to breakdown the protein for use by the body) Every meal should have a protein source and the following lists good and bad sources ; Excellent Sources Chicken, Turkey and Duck Breast, (skinless and boiled/grilled), Lean Cuts of Lamb, Beef, Fish (oily fish are also good source of fats), Natural Yoghurt, Whey Protein Powder (get protein ones, not weight gainers), Cottage Cheese Good Sources These have good protein, but also fat.. so you would have them served with green veggies 100% Meat Burger Patties, Chicken Legs/Thighs, Hard Cheeses, Mince Meat Bad Sources Excess Milk (unless you wanna look like the fat heifer it came out of), Soya Protein, Donor Kebabs, Fried Chicken, Protein Bars, Chicken Nuggets.. basically anything processed Fat Fat has been getting a bad rep, and it's undeserved really. As with all things.. there are good and bad, and most people underestimate the importance of good dietary fat, and have a horrible imbalance in terms of poly/mono/saturated fat in their diet Ideally you should have a equal mix of the 3 types, so good sources of each below ; Polyunsaturated Oily Fish (salmon, mackerel, herring, sardines) Flax Oil (tastes like crap, so mix it into shakes to mask flavour) Flax Seeds, Fish Oil Caps Mono Unsalted Nuts (best being peanuts and walnuts), Organic Natural Peanut Butter (no added sugar) Extra Virgin Olive Oil (don't cook with it, drizzle it over foods) & Avocadoes Saturated these aren't bad for you, read http://www.westonaprice.org/knowyourfats/skinny.html (long but good and explains things way better than I ever could) Double Cream, Meats, Butter Avoid Vegetable Oils - too many poly, not enough mono and saturated Trans-Fat They are basically vegetable fats that have been changed chemically by a process known as hydrogenation and typically they take a healthy fat, such as corn oil or soybean oil and make it solid. They're frequently found in foods that contain some kind of fat, such as: Cookies Crackers Fried foods (like fried chicken) French fries Doughnuts Margarine (yes, it's not as healthy as flora might have you think) Look out for hydrogenated, or partially hydrogenated in the ingredients The problem with transfat is that, it's completely man-made, and the body can't process is properly and it's the real cause of heart problems and not our poor friend saturated fat However, saturated fat itself isn‟t a saint .. on its own.. it's fine, as in meats, double cream ..however mix it with sugar (in the case of pastries, cookies, etc..) and it makes the fat 'sticky' and that's when the issues of clogged arteries come from So take heed biscuit munchers!! Summary - Eat Every 2-3 Hours - Drink 2-3 Litres of water a day (this is minimum, aim for 4+ Litres) - Protein at every meal - Get most of your carbs from good sources, and minimal carbs at night - Eat your good fats Section 2 | Pre-Diet People when dieting due to overzealousness just try to jump straight in - bad mistake!! for several reasons which I‟ll go into below; Firstly remember that our bodies are designed to maintain homeostasis (keep things constant) So when a change occurs, it‟ll respond the best way it can but if you give it too much new stimulus (i.e. strict diet, tons of exercise) then you‟ll receive negative feedback and amongst those is the whole crashing & burning scenario which many have encountered in past endeavours. Therefore any change you make must build up gradually, so dropping the calories needs to be happen gradually (else you‟ll go into storage mode, and end up losing muscle) Also you need time to get used to the new food selection, a lot of the times people complain that healthy food isn‟t tasty enough and my response is; Things don‟t taste good because they ARE tasty but rather your body has learnt to develop a taste for it This starts off in the womb…and carries on throughout life The good thing is that this taste development can be re-learnt as it were… however the majority of us have 18 + years of un-learning to do and why it can take at least a few weeks to get used to the new palette Once your body gets used to the new food, you‟ll notice less desire for the older food and you‟ll actually be able to taste all that added salt, fat, etc… once you try it again (I can‟t have normal chocolate anymore, I can taste all the added sugar and it makes me sick, 85% cocoa exclusively now) Essentially what we are trying to achieve is to develop your palette for healthier food choices. In summary - if the diet calls for X amount of calories/protein/carbs/fat in 6 meals and you aren‟t currently doing so. Don‟t decide that from tomorrow onwards you shall eat exactly as the program says. Do the three steps outlined below; Step 1 – Replacing the bad with the good All you need to do initially is just start eating „clean foods‟ for the majority of the time Forget about counting calories and so forth. Just stick to this. Step 2 – Increase Meal Frequency I don‟t really need to hammer home this point since I‟ve already explained why 5-6 smaller meals is better for you than 3 squares. This will co-incidence with the change in food choices Note: Following the above two points alone, will help you lose fat however it’s not optimal but it will provide improvements and it’s a great primer for the actual dieting If you do chose to follow the diet, than you‟ll need to do step 3 before you can actually begin. Step 3 can only occur if you’ve achieved 90% compliance. Compliance refers to the percentage in which you adhere to the diet. This means if you eat 6 meals a day, than out of those 42 if you‟ve managed to have 4 “cheat” meals, than you‟re ready to start the proper dieting If you haven‟t reached 90% compliance than realistically speaking you won‟t be able to handle the discipline of a proper diet. The 10% “cheating” won‟t hamper your fat-loss goals and planned cheated will allow you to keep to the diet rather than just give up and binge away. Step 3 | Calorie & Macronutrient Adjustment Make a log of everything you for a few days (include a weekday and weekend) to gauge where you are currently at. From that start counting all your calories and macronutrients (carbs, protein, fat) and proceed to lower them slowly (approx 20g of carbs, 20g protein and 10g of fat/250 total calories) every 2 days until you reach the required caloric requirement for the diet. This will ensure your body will handle the diet better and the muscle loss will be minimal Section 3 | The Diet Now it‟s time to get to the meat of the whole article. There‟s nothing ground- breaking presented here, but it works a treat You might ask, “Will this work for me? Everyone‟s body is different” Granted but what people fail to realise is that although we are different, we have more similarities especially since we‟re all desi here (almost) There will be individual adjustments to be made but this is goal based and you still need a base-diet and this is it. The basis of the diet is simple and I shall outline it below 1. Caloric Requirement There are many formulas for working out calorie requirement but nothing will be entirely accurate as there are too many factors involved than sheer bodyweight. However a good rule of thumb is 10-12 calories per pound of bodyweight and then you adjust from there depending on the results you get. So for me, I‟m 165lbs therefore I‟d start off with 165 x 12 = 1980 calories Then gradually lower to 165 x 10 = 1650 calories towards the end stage (we don‟t need to drop any lower) 2. Macro-Nutrient Breakdown This is the most important part; measuring calorie intake alone will not suffice for optimal results. If you‟ve read my other article you‟ll have realised that we need to keep the protein high to maintain muscle mass, low to moderate carbs and moderate fat for optimal fat-loss. There are two breakdowns which I‟ve found the most effective for the majority and I‟ve written them below Now you have two options, the first will work for the majority and that is the 35%/30%/35% P/C/F (Protein/Carb/Fat) Split This means for me, 165lbs and starting off with 1980 calories. Those calories would come from; 1980 Total Calories Protein = (1980 x 0.35) = 693 693 / 4 = 173.25 grams (1 gram of protein = 4 calories) Carb = (1980 x 0.30) = 594 594 / 4 = 148.5 grams (1 gram of carbohydrate = 4 calories) Fat = (1980 x 0.35) = 693 693 / 9 = 77 grams (1 gram of fat = 9 calories) Daily Total = Protein 173g, Carb 148.5g, Fat 77 Note: This is a guideline, if doesn’t matter if you get for example 165g protein in any particular day, as long as you are within 10% for most of the time the gains will be optimal The other split, which will provide better gains for those who have low carb tolerance but can lead to feeling tired and lacking energy for some of the time and what I use the 40/20/40 P/C/F split However I will repeat that the 35/30/35 will be more than adequate for the majority but if you find yourself reaching a fat-loss plateau you may want to start lowering the carbs to fuel further fat-loss. 3. Meal Breakdown Now we‟ve figured out how much, and what we need to eat for the day we now need to work on how to split that up into 5-6 meals for optimal results Protein needs to be kept constant throughout the day as the body has no way of storing amino acids and hence needs a steady input throughout. Carbs should be split evenly in the first 4 meals and minimal in last 1 or 2 Fat minimal throughout the day, and the bulk being added at night Therefore using me as an example, having 5 meals a day would look like (I‟ve rounded down to nearest gram); Daily Total = Protein 173g, Carb 148g, Fat 77g Protein / 5 = 34g in all meals Carb / 4 (skip last meal) = 37g in first 4 meals Fat = 10-15g in first 4, 25 in last Meal 1 – Protein 34g, Carb 37g, Fat 10g Meal 2 – Protein 34g, Carb 37g, Fat 15g Meal 3 – Protein 34g, Carb 37g, Fat 15g Meal 4 – Protein 34g, Carb 37g, Fat 10g Meal 5 – Protein 34g, Carb 0g, Fat 25g Again this is just for guidance, and as long as you are within 10% or so of the target than it‟ll be perfect Also this is presuming we work out anywhere between meal 1 – meal 3 We need carbs after a workout, so if you can only have one last meal before you sleep, make sure it has protein and carbs and move the protein and fat meal in middle of the day. Section 4 | Post-Diet Post dieting can be hard The control has gone, so a lot of people eat as they feel and go back into old habits, become fat again and the cycle repeats * Your body will increase in fat levels after the diet, this is normal but you can minimise this by slowing increasing calories to maintenance * Eating same kind of foods as you were dieting with, but bit larger quantities The key part is once you‟re lean and only then you can bump up carbs again. Currently I have a daily intake of 240-300g carbs I was taking in 80-100 carbs during my dieting phases. Basically you are going back to the pre-diet where you should be eating clean most of the time Using me as an example again - I never feel like I‟m dieting anymore It‟s just become how I eat and I actually look forward to my morning bowl of oatmeal. Section 5 | Exercise This is actually the simplest part of the whole body re-composition process. From the training perspective if you are doing zero exercise, than build up to it, so once a week, than twice, and if time allows 3-4 being the optimal For pure-fat loss purposes, exercise selection, sets, etc… doesn‟t matter to a great extent the important thing is that you are doing it. If you don't know exercises, go http://www.shapefit.com/training.html or if you want to see my fine self doing them http://bbcneverlies.taleb.co.uk/ The key points are; Lift heavy (6-12 rep range) using mostly compound movements Train 2-4 times a week for resistance (45-60 mins per workout excluding warm-up/warm-down) 1-4 sessions of cardio The reason you want to lift heavy, is for muscle preservation. Muscle is very costly in terms of calorie expenditure, and our bodies are designed to be efficient at all costs, so simply put > use it or lose it Light weights for high reps, won‟t make you more defined. All you‟ll build is muscular endurance Lose muscle, and your metabolism is slowed down and you‟ll lose them curves and develop the skinny-fat soft look Note: Heavy just refers to the rep-range to which you'll reach failure .i.e. you can't do anymore reps - you should able to do 12 reps max, and that is what heavy means The weight used will of course vary, but don't think you have to lift hundreds of pounds for it to count as heavy Also for pure fat-loss, your basis of training should be based around resistance/anaerobic exercise. Rationale being the 23/1 rule Most of us are in the gym for say 1 hour a day (actual training) and resistance has a much better overall effect i.e. your body becomes better at fat-loss even when not at the gym Speaking about the 23 hours you‟re out of the gym; add in NEPA (non-exercise physical activity) NEPA just means doing anything physical i.e. walking up a few flights of stairs It‟s not a planned exercise, but just increasing your general activity levels has a huge cumulative effect in caloric expenditure It‟s simple, walk more… do some hovering, wash the car - just get your ass moving!!! Cardio I‟m not a big proponent of masses of cardio for fat-loss. People seem to use the same rationale for doing copious amounts of cardio to compensate for their corpulence as for cutting out fats. Simply put - It ain‟t gonna happen!! The optimal level is around 1-4 sessions a week. Each lasting 20-45 minutes Timing really isn‟t an issue, people really love to say, “oh cardio first thing” blah blah Realistically it don‟t make a huge diff - just do the damn thing. If you need more proof for this just google “cardio queen syndrome” Section 6 | Customising & Additional Information Diets can be hard to get right; you‟ll need to diet 2-3 times to figure out what works best for you and more importantly what you know you can stick with for 6-12 weeks. There is no way to find out how you‟ll respond to a certain level of carbs, etc … until you try it out. What I always say is diets should be dynamic and results-based. If you‟re losing the amount of fat you want – good, keep it up If not, then you may want to drop some carbs/bump up protein/reduce calories. Note: Never let carbs dip below 1g per 1kg bodyweight. Low-carb diets mess up your thyroid, anything below this level would be classed as low- carb The levels I suggest are moderate and won‟t affect thyroid function. 1. Measuring Progress This is the best method of seeing if the diet is working so to speak. Firstly although it‟s good to know your bodyweight it isn‟t the be all/end all as the most important thing is body composition Take note of the following on a weekly basis; * Weight You should lose around 0.5 – 2lbs a week (the more you weigh, then more you can afford to lose but generally no more than 2% of bodyweight, ideally 0.5-1%) You may not lose any but again don‟t fret, it may just be you‟ve lost some fat but also gained some muscle - it happens. * Waist Circumference With a measuring tape (the one a tailor would use) Measure around your navel (without sucking) this provides a good measure of progress in lieu of bodyfat callipers. Measure to nearest 1/8” * Clothes/Mirror Again it‟s simple, but you‟ll notice if you are slimmer by how clothes fit/how your body looks. & this on a 3-4 week measurement (although in my opinion, not essential) ; * Bodyfat Measurement If you have access to, get a DEXA scan Sadly for the rest of us, callipers will have to do. Get someone else to do a 7 or 9 point test. 2. Making Adjustments Any adjustments should be made weekly. If you‟ve started off with a 35/30/35 P/C/F split you may want to change this to 40/20/40 Reduce/add 20g carbs, and 10g fat a day until you reach the desire. Again if you are reducing from 12xBW for calories, to 10 x BW, then do this in 250 daily increments. Don‟t go below 10 x BW for calories. Else it‟s too low and you run risk of losing muscle and hampering overall fat loss. 3. Preparation & Planning This is another place people falter. Get used to weekly shopping for yourself and not relying on mommy dearest to stock up your pantry with protein powders. Cook in advance if possible. Personally I have twice a week cooking, where I‟ll cook a batch of chicken and steaks to last me the next 3 days (put them in Tupperware in fridge) 4. Supplements. I‟m not a big proponent on supplements, they don‟t really do much and you‟d be better served to spend that money on good food but having said that a few things * Whey Protein I don‟t class this is a “supplement” since it‟s derived from milk and it‟s probably more “natural” than some of the crap people eat. * Thermogenics It‟s in the name – raises core temperature. Good for losing the last few pounds. I personally like Bio-Test Hot Rox Take 1-2 a day first thing on empty stomach. They say take 4, but trust me, 2 is plenty and 4 will just keep you awake all the time and give massive headaches. * Multi-Vitamin/Multi-Mineral One a day, gets what your diet is lacking. Seven Seas do a good probiotic one.