by Juston Torres-Gibbs | Mar 17, 2023 | Nutrition
Technically, it depends on your goals, but in terms of the sheer protein to “everything else” ratio, yes, Quest bars are worse. In their need for both a palatable texture and an enjoyable flavor, are forced to pump in further nutritionally void ingredients in pursuit of their final product. This applies to protein bars in general, but we’ll explain the specificity regarding Quest Bars in a moment. On the other hand, protein shakes needn’t look further than some sugar at most, which is often even excluded in favor of caloric sweeteners. This, again, depends on what you seek out of them, but even if your goals favor a more calorie-heavy approach, there are some extra factors at play that you should consider
And what factors are those, exactly?
Many things need to be taken into account when comparing the viability of these two options, from more immediate and apparent aspects such as the nutritional value, monetary viability, digestive impact, and so on (all of which will be alluded to further on), to the deeper and more debatable factors at play such as the manufacturer’s credibility, the health repercussions of other ingredients within the product that don’t directly play into its caloric weight, as is the case with aspartame in some zero calorie drinks, or sucralose in others. The amount of thought that one should put into their dietary choices, when weighed up against the amount of thought that often does, shows a startling disparity. Thankfully, we’re here to level things out a bit, by taking the temporal burden of time and energy required to investigate and inform oneself of your hands, and handing over the final product. Now, with all that said, let’s dive right into the first, but by no means the most damning factor; buckle up, there’s quite a road ahead.
Why Exactly Are Quest Bars Worse Than Protein Shakes?
Let’s clarify that by “worse”, we mean less efficient at accomplishing their goal, which assumedly, is protein dispensation, leaving Quest Bars in the losing spot. This can vary though, as some use them more so as a dessert with high protein content, or favor the high-calorie count, or the convenience they offer. Generally, though, when this is discussed, it is meant in a “best nutritional option” sense. And in that sense, I’m afraid, protein shakes take the metaphorical cake. They possess a low calorie-to-protein ratio, are more readily absorbed, and are substantially cheaper in the long run, making them more viable as a supplementary staple in one’s diet. The first of these points, though, was not always the case. This doesn’t mean that protein bars don’t have their place, though, be it as a slightly more nutritionally complete snack, a fiber boost, or simply an indulgence with a tad more balance to it. When it comes to protein dispensation, however, the cards are down, and no four-of-a-kind is beating the royal flush. Finally, the time has come to explain why “Quest” is sitting there bold and bright in the title. It serves as an example of just the kind of b.s. that occurs with products like these, and leads to options like these being less reliable when it comes to foods that will be frequent contributors to your diet.
The Lawsuit That Put Protein Shakes on Top
We’re in fact talking about the Nutritional Content Accuracy Lawsuit filed against Quest Nutrition LLC in 2018 in the U.S. District Court of D.C. The plaintiffs alleged that Quest Nutrition LLC was understating the calorie contents of their protein bars by a full 20% margin, while also significantly overestimating the fiber content within each bar. Quest responded by providing the nutritional testing records of their products, which seemingly cleared their name. This testing, however, was faulty. Quest Bars themselves are composed of approximately 30% isomaltooligosaccharides, or IMOs.These IMOs require anywhere from 12-16 to fully digest, and thus, depending on local government regulations, can be discarded as dietary fiber given that the human body will fail to fully break them down before they exit the digestive system. One defendant countered a plaintiff by claiming that “saying IMOs are calorically available according to conventional American testing methods (which incubate the matter in question for ~16h in digestive-enzyme-like chemicals) is like saying that the Empire State Building is water soluble because the grand Canyon eroded after millions of years”. A wee bit exaggerated to say the least, but the same principle nonetheless. The problem is, though, that despite most people’s inclination to divide the world into black and white, reality is simply not binary. IMOs break down gradually, meaning that while their full caloric potential is not utilized by the human digestive system, it’s a countdown, not a switch-flip. And Quest had failed to account for the fact that at least a portion of the caloric content would indeed be digested. The ruling was in the plaintiff’s favor, and Quest ended up altering the nutritional info on its products to more accurately reflect their true content, giving us a conclusive answer to the “Are Quest Bars Worse Than Protein Shakes?”. The implications of this, though, stretch far beyond a single case.
What This Means for Quest Bars and Protein Shakes
Many will claim that, as an isolated incident, one needn’t really worry about what implications this could have regarding other similar products. I, however, would disagree, pointing to a principle most clearly expressed in this conversation in the “Ozark” TV show, even more concisely refined into the last line: “It’s not the first time she stole from you. It’s the first time you caught her.” There are numerous biases found in human thought processing and rationale that contribute to why many people would shrug this off as a one-time thing, but this would be an incorrect conclusion. When wrongdoing is found, it is exactly that; the wrongdoing that has been found, not all that there is. You think when a farmer finds a pest on one of his plants, he just shrugs it off? Hell no, he immediately takes action because he knows his whole damn crop is infected. This lawsuit tells us that within this particular food group, there is f**kery afoot. Similar issues are not regularly found in protein shakes (at least, whey in particular), and given their nature, there isn’t really much room for these hijinks to begin with. All this leads to the conclusion that, when faced with the choice, protein isolate powders now have a rather decisively sturdier track record, something paramount when considering which to use regularly.
Is One Really Worse Than the Other?
The aforementioned point, however, evaluates both products as a whole within the industry. On an individual basis, we allow for a little more leniency, particularly when we’re not contemplating them as regular dietary choices but rather as one-time tools. Other factors, such as:
- Taste Preference
Will dictate more immediate choices, and rightfully so. As long as we’re self-aware in our decisions and don’t allow short-term remedies to become long-term solutions, as warns the quote “There’s nothing more permanent than a temporary solution”, then one needn’t worry too much about the nitty-gritty of each option. Just remember to take what comes on all these labels with a grain of salt, because, at the end of the day, these are corporations doing the minimum legally necessary, not the dogmatic word of Demeter passed on to man. There’s a reason why the nutritional info of the same Quest Bar is different in the U.S.A. than it is in Canada: because it’s about following the rules, not about informing the customer.
Goodies Besides Supplements to Keep Your Eyes On
You know something that won’t turn out to be more fattening than you were told? Electronics! Specifically, these bad boys right here, which, if you sign up for our giveaway (ha, it’s the same link, got em), could be yours! To stay up to date on more giveaways such as these, as well as have a consistent flow of informative, insightful, and investigative fitness-related content such as this article, make sure to stay tuned, as we’ll be ensuring a weekly drop of topics ranging from chronotypes to the consequences of overtraining, and everything in between. Looking forward to seeing you at the next one!
by Juston Torres-Gibbs | Mar 4, 2023 | Bodybuilding, Nutrition
You’re ready. It’s time to get BIG. You’ve cut, leaned out, and you’re content with your bf%; the time has come to begin bulking and pack on that muscle. So what does that mean? More chicken, rice, and broccoli, just 6 Tupperware worth instead of 4? Maybe a tad more rice with each meal? No. It not only doesn’t have to be that boring, but that’s not even the best way to do it. Allow me to introduce you to the Flexible Diet, i.e, IIFYM.
IIFYM? What do you mean by Flexible Diet?
IIFYM (short for “If It Fits Your Macros”) and a Flexible Diet are borderline synonymous. They refer to a dietary system that allows any food that can be fit within your macronutrient allowance. Gone are the days of chicken, rice, and broccoli. Whether you feel like some roasted salmon, pesto pasta, or a four-cheese pizza, it’s all on the table. You simply need to make sure it fits (your macros). Say that, in a day, you have to consume 3000kcal, of which your macros must be:
- Protein: 180g
- Carbs: 400g
- Fats: 90g
Well, as long as what you eat throughout the day checks those boxes, without going over nor falling short, anything goes. You can hit that protein purely through Whey, the fats by chugging oil, and the carbs by shoveling in bread by the slice. Now, all of that obviously wouldn’t be ideal, as it isn’t the healthiest, but it would be viable. Balance is always preferred though, but with such an approach, comes an immense amount of freedom.
Can such a system really work, though? It doesn’t seem realistic that you could eat pizza daily, and gain muscle without layering the fat as well. But I assure you, it does work, and you can do it, as hard as that may be to believe. We know it, the literature knows it, and in 5 minutes, you’ll know it too. Stick around, and throughout this article, we’ll explain why it’s the best for you, and how to take it on.
Bulking Has Never Been Easier
For some, bulking is the time to relax. The easy part. You can eat till you’re full, and then some, rather than having to push through hunger to chisel your physique. But this isn’t the case for everyone. Some (including myself at one point) struggle to eat past a certain limit, and weight gain can therefore prove to be quite the challenge. But thankfully, with a flexible diet, you can break through that wall.
Leaning into your cravings & wants come time to eat makes all the difference, particularly in your appetite. Given that the barrier is, at the end of the day, mental, you’ll benefit that much more from prioritizing foods you enjoy, thus taking most of the strain out of the process. After all, it’s easier to push yourself when you’re actually looking forward to whatever it is that’s on your plate. I know I for one am that much keener on shoveling in one last serving of pesto pasta than I am on another soul-crushing portion of lifeless white rice.
And overall ease isn’t something to be scoffed at, as it can be a key factor towards remaining consistent, which, if you don’t know it by now, is THE key factor towards actually getting anything done long term.
A Flexible Diet Means Flexible Choices
The point above leads to this next one: This shift in dietary approach grants an extra degree of convenience that would otherwise be lost on the traditional, stringent “meal plan” structure.
With the ability to swap out your foods at a whim, your flexibility grows. You can opt for meals out, for alternatives should need be, or time meals differently throughout the day. It’ll help you stay more productive, allowing your life to not be dictated by your eating schedule. Gone are the days of whipping out a Tupperware at dinner. Gone are the days of having to forego an invitation because it would conflict with your ever-demanding routine.
Even when it comes to workflow! No cutting into a busy schedule to squeeze a meal in, or losing an hour a day to cooking on days when that isn’t a realistic option. If need be, you can order takeout. Use a meal substitute. Or skip a meal entirely and make up for it by divvying those calories and macros amongst the rest. The options that open up to you are plentiful, and the ease they bring with them makes all the difference.
With this approach, you get that bit of breathing room. And with that extra degree of breathing room, you’ll be able to enjoy the process, or more so avoid despising it. Discipline is important, but enjoying the process makes it a maker rather than a breaker long term.
The Mental Benefits of IIFYM
And thus we segway into our next point, which I would personally say is one of the truer highlights; the improvement of your mental state.
Now, YMMV, but generally, people prefer not having to deprive themselves of things they enjoy. Shocking, I know. People also prefer not to lack the time needed to properly coordinate their schedules. Two for two on groundbreaking revelations today. When these needs are met, as we’ve just explained they will be, a third benefit emerges, which is a healthy absence of lifestyle-related stress.
I, for one, know I work that much more efficiently, play that much more happily, and overall have an extra pep in my step when food and training are a joy rather than a burden. This difference often goes overlooked, but enjoying an aspect of your life makes it, and subsequently your life as a whole, all the better, particularly when it’s something so central to your well-being. One less thing to stress about means less stress overall.
And with less stress, comes greater overall performance. Your mental state improves. With it, your drive in other pursuits. Your fitness progresses and bolsters this further still, all the while elevating you to new heights, socially and professionally, as the foundational aspects of your character grow and strengthen. It’s a snowball effect, and it all starts here.
The Benefits of a Flexible “IIFYM” Diet Go Beyond Bulking
Now you’d think those previous points alone would be enough of a sell, but I’ve got one more banger for you; the growth that’ll come with this approach stretches beyond physical.
There are what some would consider cons to this dietary style, but where others see hindrances, we must see an opportunity for improvement.
There will be times when you’ll find yourself gliding down the slippery slope of temptation, after a couple of slices that genuinely fit into your macros lead to another that doesn’t, or how a single drink unlocks a chain of further, unwelcome ones to follow. But these moments of weakness are when you’re given an opportunity to choose strength, and build willpower that will cement a stronger work ethic long term.
And this is one example of many. You’ll find a challenge to be had in ensuring proper micronutrient balance, avoiding excessive financial strain when leaning into the convenience of takeout, and so on and so forth. With these though, you’ll subsequently come to improve your understanding of nutritional sciences, your management of financial matters, and all other skills necessary to handle what’s thrown your way. Because with conflict, comes resolution. And thus from a place of weakness, we find strength.
But How Do You Make The Most of This Newfound Potential?
All this said, though, it will very much be a challenge. Both in terms of the more immediate difficulties that may appear here and there, as well as the pressure to maximize your potential on this newfound path. The Dalai Lama didn’t seem to account for situations where you can fix something, but may fail to do so, and that exact worry is what could easily come to plague you today. But there is still no need to worry, as I’ve got just what you need to ensure that you do not fail, but rather are launched into the best version of yourself that you can be.
When charting new waters, guidance is key. Or, more apt for this specific metaphor, your boat. Because yes, you can stay afloat without one, but you will neither get very far by the hardiness of your breaststroke, nor be terribly efficient in the process. With a guiding, experienced hand, you can sail that much further through this metaphorical sea of self-improvement, and enjoy the process that much more; a bountiful voyage rather than a grueling struggle.
If this sounds like something that you’d prefer, click here to build your own boat, and set sail into those welcoming waters.
by Juston Torres-Gibbs | Feb 15, 2023 | Bodybuilding, Exercise, Nutrition
You have to get creative. This isn’t a particularly difficult answer, but it also isn’t a simple one. There’s no “just x” or “all you’ve gotta do is y”. When your body’s drained, and both calories and carbs are on the low (particularly the latter, given how their absence depletes the body of glycogen), figuring out how to get a pump on a cut becomes an outright challenge. But not to worry, it’s not a problem without a solution, and a solution- multiple solutions, actually, are what I have for you today.
Now into the specifics: what exact steps can we take to pump up our pump game while calories are on the low?
A pump is everything for some of us. That temporary rush of blood to the muscle and everything it provides. I mean, the aesthetic fullness, the satisfying “tight” sensation, that feeling of your shirt tightening around you as if you’re about to burst out of it from all the gains you’re making. And of course, popping off the pump cover and taking a moment to appreciate the fruits of your labor at their most presentable. But when that pump becomes more and more unachievable, with sessions just leaving you further depleted and lacking that sense of satisfaction, your physique flat and fatigued, something needs to be done.
In this article, we’re going to detail some of the steps you can take when you find that the fat-loss process is beginning to push you a little bit too far into depletion. By the time we’re through here, you’ll be feeling like the G.O.A.T. back in 77. Let’s dive into the first tip:
Controlling Water & Sodium Intake to Compensate for the Calories Cut
The incorporation of sodium i.e. salt pre-workout has numerous benefits, including
- Improving “mind-muscle” connection i.e. neuromuscular efficiency
- Optimizes hydration
- Maintains fluid balance
- Outright improves strength (primarily but not solely through the first listed benefit)
All of these are desirable in and of themselves, but also leading into the focus here, which is that directly as well as indirectly through the aforementioned benefits,
Salt gives you better pumps
How? Well, aside from the indirect benefits above, sodium draws water into the cells, and said intracellular water retention, on a macroscopic scale, equates to a glorious, skin-splitting, shirt-tearing, head-turning pump.
All you need to do is mix about a pinch of table salt, or Himalayan pink salt if you wanna go the extra mile, into your pre-workout (water will do also). An ideal time frame of 30min-1h before training hits right on the mark. By the time you start moving that weight around the room, you’ll feel the blood making its way to the muscle, bringing a smile to Arnold’s face, wherever he may be.
How Simple Sugars Before and During a Workout Can Help Get A Pump
I hope you’ve got a sweet tooth because salty isn’t all that’s on the menu; gotta save room for dessert! Granted, on a cut, there isn’t much room for hyper-calorie-dense sugary goodness, but a controlled dose at the right time can be more than worth it.
Now, the specification of simple sugars is due to the fact that not any old sugar will do. We’re specifically looking for monosaccharides. Due to the nature of their simplistic molecular structure, they pass directly into the bloodstream after consumption rather than needing time to be metabolized in another organ, making them perfect for our goal. Some examples of pump-inducing, monosaccharide-packed foods include:
- Honey (often favored)
- Fresh fruits (grapes, mangos, bananas, strawberries, etc)
- Breakfast Cereals
- Most Candies (chocolate, gummies, cookies, etc)
In a pinch, there are other options that can be resorted to; ground black pepper, or milk, given that they contain trace amounts of the same sugars, or are quickly digested into the simplistic ones we’re looking for. Ideally, though, we’d favor the options on the list, in the list’s particular order.
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Prioritizing the Pump During a Portion of the Routine
There’s more to the pump than just what goes into your body. We’ve also got to take a look at what’s being put out.
These prior sections advise you on what to do to provide yourself with the fuel necessary, but now let’s talk action: how can you train in a way that brings on a proper pump when it seems to elude you?
Well, depending on your training style, anywhere from a little to a lot. Your exercise choice, rest periods, as well as overall space and intensity are going to have a make-or-break impact on the pump you yield from your session.
Are you pushing plain old sets for lower reps, just shy of failure? Or are you incorporating higher volume work? Explosive concentrics, or time-under-tension? What about drop sets and cluster sets, do they have their place? You’re in a battle right now, and you’d do well to make use of every tool in your arsenal.
Here’s an example of a typical pull day. Alongside it, a tweaked version for achieving an optimum pump:
|Pull Ups 4x 8-12
||Pull Ups 4x 8-12, last set a cluster set of 4 reps on, 10 seconds off until failure
|Dumbbell Rows 4x 8-12
||Dumbbell Rows 3x 10-15, last set double drop set with a slow (2 seconds down 1 second up) tempo
|Dumbbell Curl 4x 10-15
||Cable Curls 4x 12-15, switching to cables to allow for greater time under tension
|Facepull 4x 20
||Unilateral Rear Delt Cable Fly 4x 15-20, giving a greater stretch and allowing for better mind-muscle connection
|Shrugs 4x 6-8
||Shrugs 4x 6-8, same heavy work, just holding drop setting the last set with an isometric hold to failure
I guarantee you that once you try both, the difference in pump will be astounding. What you put in is what you get out, so if you want to get a pump out of it, you’ve gotta put in the work.
Rebalancing the Ratio of Rest Days and Training Days
This next section focuses on inaction rather than action. If you’re deep enough into a cut that getting a pump is becoming an issue, it’s worth re-evaluating your current lifting scheme. Perhaps a little extra rest could help you get a better ROI in terms of energy put in and gains gotten out.
You see, this isn’t a period during which you’ll be building significant amounts of muscle, but rather, are fighting to preserve the muscle you have. Your body’s into a catabolic state, doing away with the unwanted fat smothering your gains. Because of this, we find ourselves in a “stimulate don’t annihilate” scenario, in which less is more, and very explicitly so.
Junk volume is something you can more easily get away with during a period of surplus. In times of nutritional scarcity, though, it borders on outright sin. Once you’ve sufficiently stimulated the muscle enough for both tissue and strength retention, you’d do best to rebalance your efforts elsewhere. You can improve your metabolic conditioning, or focus on flexibility (both of which are great in and of themselves but will also be conducive towards a better pump long term).
The main benefit achieved through this, however, is a less exhaustive depletion of your glycogen storages. What does this mean? It means that on the days that you DO lift, achieving a pump will be that much easier. And this need not come at any detriment, given that you can easily compensate for the caloric burn elsewhere. Be it in the pursuits mentioned above, or other leisure activities, from long walks to surfing. As long as you’re proportionally active, no negative changes with be made.
So re-think your weekly approach, and perhaps 4 days over 5 will suit you better in the long term, dedicating that 5th day to an active recovery; this game is about quality over quantity, after all, and that’s what this all boils down to.
Beyond the Pump: How Can You Take Your Training Further?
A lot of information has just been dumped in your lap, and if you’re at all like me, I’d wager there’s a lingering worry regarding if it will stick, if you’ll incorporate it past the first few tries, if you’ll actually take these changes on or if they’ll becoming another set of good ideas that get lost in the clutter, leaving you with that same feeling that you’re spinning your wheels. Thankfully though, we can avoid falling into that trap again right now.
Forget doing this alone, scrounging and scavenging for whatever tip and secret might give you an edge if haphazardly rammed into your routine. Take a step in the right direction by placing your trust in someone who’s dedicated their life to this, who’s made the mistakes, learned the lessons, dodged the curveballs (and gotten hit by a few as well), all of which experiences that have helped them reach a point at which they can guide others, help them avoid those same mistakes and rocket past each milestone with the help of someone who knows the way. Click here, if you’re ready to stop kicking the can and start putting in the work.
by Juston Torres-Gibbs | Feb 9, 2023 | Bodybuilding, Nutrition
I’ll give you the first reason right off the bat; it’s easier. Meal plans are often touted as the obvious choice, with flexible dieting scoffed at or labeled an excuse to cheat on your diet and pretend it all adds up; well there ain’t no cheetahs in this safari, we’re living like lions out here, and to quote Matthew McConaughey’s Michael Pearson from the 2019 film The Gentlemen, “There’s only one rule is this f***ing jungle; when the lions hungry, he eats”
First reason aside, what else does Flexible Dieting have to offer?
The ease it provides is definitely what I myself would place at the forefront, with the (as the name implies) flexibility this approach has allowing you to live a life unconstrained by other disciplinary approaches, a factor that drives many away before they even begin.
But is there more to the package? Oh, there most definitely is. The adaptability it provides is just the tip of the iceberg, and in this article, we’ll touch on not only the other key aspects of what this dietary approach has to offer, but also on just how you can ensure that this doesn’t turn out to be a case of something too good to be true, rather the beginning of the next chapter of your fitness journey, packed with a lot more enjoyment snuggled in cozily in the room that needless monotony left behind after it got rightfully booted from the equation.
The Paradox of Variety and Consistency
Now, an initial concern tends to arise: will this affect my consistency, being able to eat whatever I want?
In my experience, no, it won’t. If anything, it’ll have the opposite effect. You’re not obsessively adhering to the old “5 meals a day, first being oatmeal and 1 cup of milk, second being fruit and a protein shake, third being…” rhetoric, but rather a set of requirements to fulfill. This will vary depending on the situation, but typically, you have your calorie goal and macronutrient goals within it. Some focus entirely on protein with the rest being flexible, some have exact numbers for each pillar. Some allow any and all foods, some choose to discard many or adhere to a select few. This will be up to you or your coach. Here we’re discussing the raw concept itself.
Now, the real selling point here, is that this protein goal, this calorie allowance, can be filled by any foods that are (literally and metaphorically) on the table. If you have 2500kcal to fill, and 160g of protein as a minimum target, then that day could consist of grilled chicken, rice, and broccoli, or it could consist of calamari stir-fry, fruit salad, some protein cookies, and a latte. As long as you hit your goals, the day is a success.
Through this variety, the monotony of a meal plan is subverted, and long-term consistency becomes that much more feasible. When you’re not dying for a break, pushing on becomes that much easier.
Your Cravings and You Working Together Against Fat
Now, in the prior point, we alluded to a similar principle as we will here, but in a different time frame. A desire to indulge in other foods that we desire will make a consistent meal plan tiresome in the long run, but what about in the moment? Maybe you love your chicken and rice, but that doesn’t stop you from wanting a little chocolate after. And saying “no” to yourself for the 14th time this month for such a seemingly small thing get’s old after a while.
But thankfully, with flexible dieting, a “No, that isn’t in the meal plan” turns to a “Yes, let’s make it fit”. No longer are your options rigid and inflexible. If you want something, you can make room for it and stay right on track.
Fancy some chocolate? One serving size is 100kcal, so you eat 100kcal less of rice and you’re golden. Craving some pizza today? This pizza says it’s 1200kcal on the box, you can pair it with a couple of protein shakes, skip a meal, and you’re golden. As long as the numbers add up, all is as it should be.
Being able to embrace short-term cravings rather than kick the can (because they’re not going away just by ignoring them,) makes a demanding diet sustainable long term, which is the only timeframe in which true, lasting results are achieved. Work with them, rather than against them, to make everything that much easier.
The Freedom It Brings Is Almost as Good as the Results
And further still piggybacking off of the previous point, we have a somewhat obvious but noteworthy fact: Any process, if enjoyed, becomes that much easier to continue along.
Playing into the psychological aspects, even; does it not suck to reject dinner invitations? Not even be able to indulge in merely trying someone else’s food when offered to you? Rejecting alcohol is another one: it pretty much ruins the bar-hopping, nightclub, and the overall party scene for many, given how much of a focal point it is for these activities (and those participating). No one likes being “that guy” that can’t partake in any of the fun stuff. But in this case, you won’t have to be anymore. Just as you can fit in cravings, you can fit in other activities previously out of reach.
Wanna come kayaking tomorrow morning? Rather than “Oh, I have two meals to eat within that time, I’d have to either bring them with me and awkwardly eat them, or simply turn down the offer” you can simply accept, and balance it out later. Bring a protein shake and add a little rice to your next meals, or just fast and feast once you’re home; you have options.
Your life will be less stringent in this regard, less hyper-focused on food and its demands, and overall more complete in other regards. No singular pursuit is getting in the way of the rest. You’ll be free to live and progress toward your fitness goals, all in harmony.
A More Flexible Approach to Slip-Ups
Not all the pros are just good things on their own. Some, like this one, are an improved ability to handle the bad. Let’s say you have one drink too many, or maybe using the wrong sweetener when baking, and now have a tray of brownies 200+kcal overmark, each! What do we do?
With meal planning, the first day isn’t even something you would’ve been able to entertain, and those brownies would’ve had to find someone else’s stomach to get comfortable in. But now, you can improvise, adapt, and overcome (thank you, Bear Grylls). The morning after your drunken slip-up, while you nurse that hangover, you use sugar-free syrup and a lower-calorie milk option in your pancakes, as well as substituting toast for some strawberries. Those brownies? Your new pre-workout meal, which, with a little less fruit after dinner, fits right in.
We’re all human, we all make mistakes, many within our control, many outside of it. And whether they’re your fault or not, they are inarguably your responsibility, because the only one that can do this for you, is you. So give yourself a tool to do exactly that, to levy you out of these tricky scenarios, making your arsenal that much more expansive for the ongoing war against that pesky fat tucked into the sides of your lower back.
Now, these tool is a valuable one, just as all these benefits are strong selling points for such an approach. The only concern remaining, however, is the feasibility of all of this. Flexible dieting requires, in its extended freedom, a greater level of oversight and control; an increase in responsibility which many find to overpower what they can realistically juggle alongside things like a social circle, hobbies, and a full-time job. But you don’t have to juggle it, because there’s one last piece to this puzzle that ties it all together.
The Guiding Hand Through the Flexible Jungle
I can tell you from experience, flexible dieting can be a bumpy start. It can mess with your head, the feeling that you’re “cheating” or that you must be missing something, and that’s not to mention the temptations, the extra tracking, the potential costs, and so on and so forth. All of this though, the mistakes that you’d make along the way, can be easily avoided through the expertise of someone who’s not only made these mistakes already himself but learned from them, so that you can skip straight to reaping the results through the fruits of his labor.
Through Fred Chevry’s system and under his guidance, you’ll turn what was once a treacherous trail into a clear-cut path to success, which each step paved neatly along the way. If that sounds like something you need, click here to learn more and get yourself started.
by Juston Torres-Gibbs | Feb 6, 2023 | Bodybuilding, Exercise, Nutrition
So the holidays are upon us, Thanksgiving binging has been had and Christmas binging approaches. As we indulge and eat our hearts out with family and friends, the pang of guilt can’t be fully ignored, and the thought lingers in our minds: “How much damage am I doing right now?”, “What will I have to do to balance this out afterward?”, or, more realistically, “Can I even make up for this?”.
Well, in my opinion, that’s no way to be spending the holidays. During a time that’s supposed to be focused on joy and celebration, the last thing you need plaguing you is a persistent lingering worry that said enjoyment is just going to equate to more work after the fact; I’m here to tell you that not only can you make up for it, but you can also enjoy yourself in such a way that requires no compensating for in the first place.
So what’s the “secret”? How can I enjoy my holidays to their fullest, and know assuredly that I’ll be able to bounce right back, or not even have to in the first place?
Well, sadly, the secret to making up for the holiday binge is in fact no secret at all, but rather the same core truth you’ve most likely heard parroted before: consistency, precision, and discipline. Now, this isn’t “How to avoid binging on the holidays”, this is “What can I do to make up for holiday binging?”. We’re here to tell you how you can still very much partake in the festivities, and through these principles, enjoy the best of both rather than believing that one can only exist without the other.
Assessing the Damage
First and foremost, we need to understand what it is we’re tackling here. You’ve got to take a moment and truly, honestly (a key factor most delude themselves into overlooking) assess just how far off the deep end you went. Always best to overestimate than to leave yourself falling short.
So, let’s take a moment to think back and talley up the most important factors in order to paint as accurate a picture as possible:
- How many days were we “off-plan”? Both training and food wise respectively
- How heavy was the binge?
- Was there drinking involved? And if so, how much?
All questions that’ll give us an idea of how to tackle things moving forward.
Let’s say, for example, that we’re reflecting on a particularly rough Christmas. Drinks were had, sweets were savored, and by the end of the holidays, the turkey had nothing on how stuffed you were. By answering the questions above, we’re left with the following answers:
- The night of the 24th to the night of the 31st, making a total of 7 ½ days; we’ll round up to 8.
- Not particularly abusive, just indulging in holiday treats here and there, and an “eyeballed” approach rather than strict portion control throughout.
- Heavy drinking on the main days (⅜), with only the odd glass here and there on those in-between.
Now, with this, we have the directions with which to draw up the roadmap that’ll help you get back on track, averaging out the damage done with recovery efforts made, so that your goals are no farther than they have to be.
Formulating a “Holiday Binge” Recovery Plan
We’ve got our guidelines, we know what needs compensating for, and in this next step, we’ll lay out just how to do it.
Now, for the first factor, it’ll be pretty straightforward in the sense that we’ll want to dedicate a somewhat proportionate amount of time cleaning up as we did messing up, so in this case, given the week of complacency towards our overall regime, we’ll take a starting point of a week, before our next point, which will be evaluating the intensity of the off-days themselves.
By gauging to what degree we over or under-ate, whether we at least trained those days or not, and how much it tallies up to in the end, we’ll be able to refine our plan further still. As an example, let’s say we didn’t train, and also completely disregarded our diet during this week, i.e. worst-case scenario (assuming weight loss was our goal).
For this scenario, we’ll want to overcompensate diet-wise, knocking off perhaps 20-30% of our calories, particularly from fat and carbohydrates, in that order of priority (not ever dipping below 1g/kg of bodyweight regarding dietary fats); Training-wise, we’ll want to toss in a supplemental dose of cardio, just for about the same time as was missed, although this can easily be something like a 1h walk rather than something as daunting as the Stairmaster, the treadmill, or the likes; just upping your daily energy expenditure that little bit more.
And finally, regarding alcohol intake, there are two ways in which it’ll influence the plan: directly proportional to how much was actually drunk, you’ll want to bump up the supplemental cardio (within reason), and more importantly, significantly increase water intake, should things have been particularly wild. The chronic dehydration effects of alcohol are no joke, and I’m willing to go out on a limb and assume that you didn’t make sure to have a glass of water between each drink, so I’m also going to have to insist that you get to chugging, because your body could definitely use it.
Being Prepared For Setbacks
The holidays aren’t the only time you’re going to find yourself straying from the routine, having slip-ups here and there; margin of error is a part of quite literally every endeavor we embark on, from a year-long business projection to cooking dinner for yourself each night. Maybe a partner doesn’t follow through and you fail to meet financial quarter expectations, or maybe you forget to bring down the heat on the rice and end up burning it, everything can and will get messed up every once and a while. It’s how you handle this reality that will set you apart.
Your fitness regime is just that, a regime: a system, a planned way of doing things. Within that system, you’ve got to have contingencies. Give yourself some breathing room when it comes to training, to your daily calorie count, to your weekly sessions, not so that you can fail daily without consequence, but to avoid “failing” entirely by having said mistakes factored into the plan, and adjusting accordingly.
Here’s a table with some example scenarios and respective actions that can be taken.
|Used way too much oil when cooking, and am now 200kcal over “budget”
||Run a couple of miles, or substitute rice for potatoes that evening, cutting calories in half
|Missed a Monday session, throwing off the whole week
||Restructure the week, incorporating the days into each other to compress the routine down, or train on a weekend day (exciting, I know)
|Hurt my arm, can’t train upper body this week
||Consider a deload week or alternate training such as cycling or a mobility-focused routine
|Accidentally hit the wrong weight, and am now in too deep to backtrack
||Adjust in terms of volume, or rest time, making sure to still induce some form of progressive overload
Making mistakes is ok, giving up because of them is not. Give yourself contingencies, and watch yourself grow into the consistent, fine-tuned athlete your work will drive you to be.
Truly Sticking to the Plan
As trivial as this next point may seem it’s actually crucial.
Whatever contingencies you do set up for yourself, you have to follow them. If you or your coach have decided that missing a single session a week is fine, then that’s ok, but if you haven’t, then you can’t bargain with yourself as to why it should still be ok. Establishing rules, and mustering the discipline to follow them is all we have. It is the only way you’re going to become what you can be and stop being what you were.
It can often seem like an unrealistic goal, seemingly too far off or unachievable, not yours to attain, and while that’s not true, the reason it seems that way is because for many, it might as well be, for the simple fact that it is not easy. If you want to look like someone that does difficult things, you’re going to have to play the part in order to look it. There’s a quote I’m reminded of when discussing matters like these:
“Without commitment, you’ll never start, but without consistency, you’ll never finish.” -Denzel Washington
Now, you’ve committed, you’ve taken the first big step and gotten the ball rolling, but it’s not the most difficult one. You’ve gotta keep that ball rolling if you want it to get where it needs to go, and sometimes, most times, that can be difficult, especially alone. But you don’t have to do it alone.
What to Do When It All Seems Like Too Much
Changing your physique is no easy feat in and of itself, and even less so when you’re faced with scenarios like these. The hurdles, the roadblocks, the twists and turns, they’re all obstacles that will be faced at some point or another throughout your journey, and continuously at that. There’s a reason less than 2% of the world’s population is in what’s considered “athletic shape”, meaning they both look the part and perform accordingly. And that reason is that it’s not something most people can put together alone in this day and age. But like I said, there’s no reason you have to do it alone
If you come under my coaching, you’ll take the first step toward your physical goals, with the help of someone harboring decades of experience under their belt to guide you along the way, and make sure that these obstacles you’ll face are blown past with ease. Click here, and begin a new chapter, one that’ll end with you exactly where you want to be.