Here are answers to some of the most common questions we get from our clients.
Why do I have to eat so many calories?
The alternate would be to eat lower calories and we feel that this is not optimal when dieting and trying to preserve muscle tissue. Eating proper food choices 5 – 6 times per day will allow for smaller meals which will be easily digested. Starting out at a higher calorie total will give us “room to move”. We prefer to start our diets with the calories high and slowly whittle them down. Contrast that a lower calorie diet. This is a typical diet given by lazy trainers. They prescribe one diet and send you on your way. We like to work one-on-one with our clients and be in constant contact with them. Starting high and going low ensures constant contact. Also, lower calories lead to food cravings and could increase the chance of cheating on a diet.
Do food choices have to be aspartame sweetened? Aspartame gives me headaches.
Any artificial sweetener may be used. There are many drinks and food items that are sweetened with other forms of sweeteners. Each artificial sweetener is different. If you find that you do not like one, try a different brand. If Equal (aspartame based) is not an option you may want to try Sugar Twin, Splenda or Stevia.
How do we know what fat percentage is okay when buying food?
We aim for a fat percentage of 25% or less with our food choices. To figure out the percentage of an item, 1 gm of fat = 9 calories. Fat grams are listed on the back of each product in the ingredient breakdown. Multiply fat grams by 9. This will give you total calories of fat. To figure out the percentage, divide the fat calories into the total calories and multiply by 100. The result should not exceed 25%. A common point of confusion with some of our clients is with the term “zero trans fat” displayed on food packaging. Companies prominantly display this phrase in the hope of misleading the consumer. Trans fats are chemically modified fats that solidify at room temperature such as margarine and shortening. Just because a product is transfat free does not mean it it fat free.
Can I use low fat margarine?
We do not suggest added fats such as low fat margarine. Low fat margarine is still high in fat but the difference is that it contains more water. Becel No Fat Butter Spray or I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter spray toppings are a good substiture which tastes identical to butter or margarine but contains no calories (when used in moderation). It is an ideal product for popcorn, vegetables and potatoes. PAM may also be used for cooking egg whites or frying.
Are nuts allowed?
I’m certain you’ve heard the phrase “there is more than one way to skin a cat”. Dieting a client for a show is no different. There is more than one way to dial in a client to peak conditioning. The diet strategies we employ do not normally include higher fat food sources such as nuts, avocados, salmon, etc. Nuts are too high in fat for our typical style of dieting. You will not lose weight consuming food choices that have calories high in fat when employing this approach. The confusion with nuts is that they contain “healthy fats”. These types of fats are good for your skin, hair, brain and central nervous system but if consumed in excess will prevent you from dropping weight with our standard dieting philosophies. Healthy fats are only required in small amounts but the media has the general public convinced that healthy fats must consumed in abundance. This is incorrect and will not help a physique athlete achieve extreme levels of conditioning. We have opted to use high fat diets (where some nuts may be permitted) such as a ketogenic-style diet but this is determined on an individual basis. Nut options are also added to a client’s diet in the off-season but for contest dieting most clients do better without them. Some clients who are blessed with fast metabolisms and certain lean bikini athletes who are in good condition when they start a cutting diet would be examples of an exception to this rule.
Why can’t we consume salmon and peanut butter?
Salmon, peanut butter, olive oil, avocado and nuts are very high in fat. They do contain “healthy fats” but they also prevent you from dropping weight. Peanut butter is not a healthy source of protein, there is very minimal protein in a nut. 1 tablespoon of peanut butter contains over 100 calories of which 74 calories come from fat, 12 calories of protein and 14 calories of carbohydrates. That is not an optimal food choice for a low fat diet. Higher fat/low carbohydrate diets do work but this is not how we work with the majority of our clients. However, some clients are permitted to have these fat options but it really depends on their conditioning. The leaner a client is the more leaway they have on their diet.
What do I do if I become constipated?
Constipation can become a problem for several reasons. Diets that are low in fat, low in fibre, high in dairy products or low in fluids may cause constipation. Increasing your fluid consumption and fibre will help. Adding a bran cereal in the morning is recommended as well as additional fibrous vegetables. Adding in psyllium husk to your morning cereal or mixed in a glass of water may also be beneficial. Products like Dieter’s Tea will help to keep you regular. We have also been adding fermented foods and probiotics to our clients’ diets with successful results as poor gut health is a major cause of constipation problems. We provide a sheet with solutions to digestion problems if this problem arises.
Why do I need to eat more shrimp/tuna/cod than chicken? I have been told in the past to consume protein the size of a deck of cards or the size of the palm of my hand.
We weigh all our food choices for accuracy of calories. Calories need to be equivalent not oz measurements of the specific item. 4 oz of tuna is lower in calories than 4 oz of chicken. To figure out the equivalent calories use the formula:
Calories of the item you want to exchange off your program divided by calorie of the item you want instead, multiplied by the oz of the item on the food list. Proteins must be substituted for protein and carbohydrates for carbohydrates.
Example: you have 294 calories of chicken for lunch but you want to have shrimp instead. Shrimp contains 112 calories in 4 oz. 294 divided by 112 calories multiplied by 4 oz equals 10.5 oz of shrimp instead of 6 oz chicken.
“Eye-balling” food quantities is a good option when “living the lifestyle” but is not recommended when focused on achieving competition conditioning. We need you to measure and weigh all food options as the changes made to the diet are based on precise measurements.
Can I consume more than one serving of whey powder?
While trying to adapt to the volume of calories and protein, you may use more protein powder. Protein powder is just another source of protein and is fine to consume more often. Protein powder is more of a convenience option. A client will always get better results eating solid food protein options when compared to protein powder. Also, it has come to light that several protein powder manufacturers have fudged their labels and as a result are facing lawsuits – this is a concern to us and is only one reason why we prefer solid food.
Won’t I gain weight eating these many calories?
Don’t be afraid of eating. Society has been taught that cutting back on calories and being constantly with a feeling of starvation will help one to lose weight. We have shown time and again with our clients that this belief of lower calories leading to diet success is the total opposite. Eating higher volumes of the proper food choices is going to help you lose weight and maintain that loss.
What is the average weight loss I should be aiming for per week?
A healthy weight loss is between 1 – 2 lbs per week. When weight loss is slower, you maintain more of your muscle. Muscle is important to keep your “furnace” burning. Muscle is the metabolic tissue of your body and allows us to burn calories. If you lose weight too quickly, you don’t give your skin time to tighten as well. Fat that is lost quickly will not allow the skin to tighten so we prefer a slower approach as this will permit the skin to tighten up. If you lose too much muscle you will not continue to burn calories efficiently and your body will adapt to lower calories by slowing itself down.
It is also very important that our clients report every day when they start a cutting diet. If they lose too quicly their daily reports will provide us feedback to help to prevent a huge drop in weight. It is a common myth that most of the initial loss is water. Some of it is but some may also be muscle. We don’t want this and we will react to prevent this.
What do I look for when purchasing a protein powder?
When looking for a protein powder, choose one that is low in carbohydrates and fat and high in protein. Most meal replacement powders contain too many calories and the carbohydrates in these powders will come from some type of sugar. Calories will vary from company to company, so you will need to adapt the calories given for protein powder based on your individual calorie. Higher quality powders range in calories from 120 – 140 calories and 2 – 3 grams of fat and carbohydrates.
Isolates generally fit these suggestions. One characteristic to avoid is protein that adds extra amino acids to enhance its formula. This is a cheap method to enhance an inferior protein powder base. We prefer whey proteins such as Allmax IsoFlex and Cellucor Cor-Whey.
Why do you like your athletes to stay lean while trying to bulk up? Doesn’t it take twice as long with little result?
There really is no point of putting on excess body fat while trying to put on muscle mass. Body fat is non-functional body weight that will need to be dieted off. This makes additional work for you when you want to lean out. Poor quality choice of food does not allow you to put on lean tissue, high quality food does. It doesn’t make sense to see the scale go up if the only weight gain is body fat. Additionally, clients who remain leaner in the off-season always have an easier time to when dieting starts for a competition. Being leaner will also allow you to be ready early which usually allows for cheat meals and/or eating “into the show”.
Why is it important to weigh myself daily?
Weight is not measurement of success or failure, it is a tool to help you progress. You weigh the same whether you are on the scale or off, when you realize and accept this, you will no longer be a prisoner to it. Weighing yourself daily provides us cues whether or not calories need to be adjusted. Weighing yourself also prevents you from “hiding your head in the sand” after a bad day. It helps you to become faithful to your program and makes you accountable. Weighing yourself daily gives you focus and drive to achieve your weight goals. Once you have met your target weight daily weighing will not be required. By this time you would be maintaining a healthy balance. We focus on client feedback and weight reporting is just one piece of the puzzle. When you work with us you will find that weight reporting is important at the start of diet but pictures are more important during the final stages of dieting. We are not a slave to the scale as it only serves to reveal a trend in weight loss in our spreadsheet. We welcome all data (weight reports, pictures, client energy levels, etc) as they all serve to allow us to do our job better. It makes no sense to totally negate scale number as it is important data to assist us in helping you reach your goal.
I am so full, how can I minimize the volume of calories that I am trying to consume?
Isn’t it wonderful to lose weight and eat more food! It is much more difficult to feel hungry all the time and stick to a program. At the beginning, it will seem like too much to eat. The higher you can start the calories the better it is going to be for you as your metabolism speeds up. Food that is low in sugar and fat will burn off quickly. You will start to get hungry in time. To minimize your volume of food, choose higher calorie foods. As you start to get hungry, making choices of lower calorie items will increase the volume of food without increasing a calorie. An example would be: 4 oz of chicken in volume is going to be much smaller than 9 oz sole, fibrous vegetables will give you more volume than a starch. ½ cup of corn is 80 calories whereas 80 calories of broccoli would mean you would need 9.5 oz or almost 2/3 of a lb. This is a common problem with our clients and can be solved simply with a phone call or email. We are here to guide you and we have several tips to help you get all the volume of food in. A very consistent truth with our programs is that after about 2 weeks of having troubles of getting the food in almost every client looks forward to the next meal.
Some programs have a weekly cheat meal, does this program?
Cheat meals or refeeds are a part of our program but only when your body needs it. They are not handed out based on a calendar date but based on how our client is reacting to our diet and how they look. Refeeds or cheat meals have specific rules and we will inform you of them when the time is right. The secret to getting a cheat meal or a refeed meal is to be ready ahead of time. Bikini competitors who have 10 weeks to get ready for a show and who need to lose 30 lbs most likely will NOT get cheat meal and if they do there is a good chance that they will not be ready come show time. Contrast that to a Bikini competitor who stays within 5lbs of stage weight in the off-season. She can afford to have such meals during her contest prep and will most likely need them.
Is there a specific time to eat to achieve the best results?
This program is designed around your day. There are too many rules to follow in most programs that really do not make a difference. You must be able to follow a program that is designed for your daily routine otherwise you are destined to fail. We do implement 5 – 6 meals per day but the time in which these meals are consumed will be based on your schedule. We believe that you can eat right until bed. Meals are consumed during your 24 hour clock not ones that are set for you.
Does sodium make me fat?
Sodium must be kept constant as fluctuations in sodium intake will cause water weight gain – not fat gain. We have found that keeping sodium constant is the best approach to our dieting philosophies. Either keep it high or keep it low. Problems arise with changes in sodium consumption. We recommend that if you don’t consume much then don’t add any. Conversely, if you like higher sodium foods we suggest that you add table salt, sea salt or Himalayan pink salt. If a higher sodium intake is preferred we suggest that water intake be higher.
I want to lose fat and gain muscle…
A goal to lose fat and gain muscle is only possible in extremely rare cases and with genetically gifted athletes. For the majority of clients who desire to gain muscle they must be in an excess of calories but to drop body fat they must be in a deficit of calories. In most cases we would design a program to drop body fat first. It is much easier to drop body fat than gain muscle. A lean body is going to grow more efficiently than a heavier body. Calories would be designed for the scale to drop. Once you are happy with your body fat percentage calories would be slowly increased so that muscle mass starts to increase.
I want a lean and defined midsection, how many sit ups should I be doing?
People are usually shocked to find out that a lean desirable physique is really won in the kitchen and not in the gym. A lean midsection is made possible by losing body fat from the abdominal area. Doing numerous sit-ups will not drop body fat; sit-ups develop the muscle under the body fat. As long as you carry fat in that region you will not be able to see the muscle under the fat. Consuming the correct types of food choices and adding in some cardiovascular exercise will help you lean out and in time allow those muscles to show through. It is very common for our competitive clients to not add in any abdominal training as diet is the key to revealing a set of defined abs.
Do you offer a reverse diet after my competition?
Yes, we do. All of our competition clients receive an initial post-competition diet. As we work closely with our clients during contest prep we also do so during the post-competition rebound. A single diet is not enough to hold off fat gain and maximize muscle gain during this diet phase. An optimized post-competition plan requires several diet changes and close monitoring to take full advantage of this window of opportunity. This is the BEST time for muscular growth and we strongly suggest that competitors coming off a contest work with us during this training phase. We price this phase the same as off-season training.