Simple Weight Loss

I put together this easy to follow infographic of how to eat for simple weight loss.

Eating for weight loss is often overcomplicated way more than it should be. In fact it doesn’t have to be complicated at all! Nail the basics, the important things in your diet first. And then if you want to, you can get picky about working on the smaller details!

Take a look:

simple weight loss

Vegetables

Cruciferous vegetables fill you up using very few calories! They’re full of fibre, vitamins & minerals.

Opt for things like lettuce, rocket, tomato, onions, cucumber, celery, asparagus, kale, spinach, aubergine, mushroom, bell pepper, cabbage, broccoli.

Protein

Protein is important for muscle maintenance, growth, and repair. Plus it also fills you up, and your body burns calories through digesting it.

Preferably have lean sources of poultry, meat, fish, and dairy.

Flavour your Food

This is crucial! Bland food sucks!

Add herbs, seasonings, and spices, or low-calorie sauces.

Things like garlic, salt, pepper, soya sauce, mustard sugar-free ketchup, paprika, salsa, peri peri, basil, mint, chilli powder, oregano, etc.

Everything Else

After mostly filling up on vegetables and protein, you include whatever carbs and fats you still have room for.

Bread, rice, pasta, potato, grains, fruit, butter, nuts, oils.

Or even a little dessert, like ice cream, cake, chocolate, etc!

Something Calorie-Free to Drink

Save your calories for eating, not drinking!

Opt for things either calorie-free, or at least low in calories.

Water (still or sparkling), tea / coffee (black or with a little skimmed milk, with sweetener notsugar), squash (not juice), diet soft drinks (Diet Coke, Coke Zero, Pepsi Max etc. (not regular Coke).

The Doughnut Diet – FREE 7 Day Flexible Eating Challenge 🍩

Sign up for The Doughnut Diet – FREE 7 Day Flexible Eating Challenge 🍩, where I will be teaching you the system I use for losing fat 💪 while still being able to include junk food 🍕.

🎥 I will be emailing you a short video (most are a little over 5 mins or so) each day over the duration of the challenge.  To make things easier, I’ve provided notes for each video too, that you can download.  So please check your inbox daily!  

✏️ Each day, I’ll be setting you a few very short tasks to do (it’ll only take 5 mins), so please keep on track and complete the daily tasks! It’s all important for teaching you my method for losing body fat 💪 without cutting out junk food! 🍩

❓If you have any questions or are unsure about anything, please feel free to join my Facebook group and ask any questions.  The link is here:

https://www.facebook.com/groups/ditchthedadbod/

SIGN UP HERE for The Doughnut Diet – FREE 7 Day Flexible Eating Challenge 🍩 https://forms.gle/QAY4Dm6b8Nv8KUeFA

flexible eating

I thought I’d take a moment to answer some FAQs…

Q: I’m really busy and short on time. How much time do I need to take part in The Doughnut Diet Challenge?

A: Each day of the challenge, you will be required to watch a short video (maybe 5 mins or so) emailed to you. You will be set quick tasks to do each day, which should only take another 5 mins or so. So really, you are only looking at a time commitment of maybe 15 mins or so each day over the 7 days of the challenge.

Q: I have very little experience with nutrition or dieting. Do I have to know anything about counting calories or macros?

A: No, you don’t need any prior dieting experience! All will be explained to you over the course of the challenge, so even if you are completely new to dieting, don’t worry!

Q: I already know how to count calories and know a bit about nutrition. Is the challenge still suitable for me?

A: Yes, absolutely. Some of the earlier modules of the challenge might seem basic to you if you already have a good knowledge base on nutrition. But I urge you not to be tempted to skip any videos – they act as a good reminder even if you aren’t new to dieting. Also, I competed in natural bodybuilding for years (so was well accustomed with calories and macros), but still learned (and continue to learn to this day) new elements of nutrition. And this is how I came across this flexible eating system in the first place, enabling me to lose fat whilst still eating junk food.

Q: Do I need to be exercising through the duration of the challenge?

A: I’d always recommend that people exercise, as long as they have been medically cleared to do so, of course. But no, exercise is not compulsory for the challenge. The contents of the challenge focus on the dieting side of fat loss (while incorporating junk food!), so the exercise component of fat loss is beyond the scope of this challenge. Exercise combined with dieting is the most efficient way to lose fat, but exercise is not compulsory to lose fat.

More FAQs…

Q: What things do I need for the challenge?

A: Ideally, you will have a working set of kitchen scales (preferably digital). You will have access to a set of body weight scales to weigh yourself. You will have a smart phone so to download the MyFitnessPal calorie counting app (the app has a free version). And you will have access to Facebook through the duration of the challenge (either on your phone, tablet, or laptop, it doesn’t matter), so to access my Facebook group.

Q: If I get stuck or confused with anything during the challenge, are you available to provide help?

A: Yes! You will have access to me through my Facebook group, so if you ever have any questions, please feel free to ask me in the group and I will respond as soon as I can. Note that I don’t check my Facebook direct messages so often, so please post in the group for the fastest response from me.

Q: Can I really get ripped just by eating junk food?

A: Yes, in fact you can get ripped by eating NOTHING but junk food, and some people do actually. BUT, this is NOT what I recommend, as it is simply not healthy. What is the point in getting lean and “looking” good, only to soon suffer from an array of health complications? As you will see through what I teach in the challenge, I advocate a balanced healthy diet and lifestyle, that doesn’t involve cutting out any foods (so still including junk food in moderation as part of a balanced diet). This is the key to healthy, realistic, sustainable, permanent results!

SIGN UP HERE for The Doughnut Diet – FREE 7 Day Flexible Eating Challenge 🍩

https://forms.gle/QAY4Dm6b8Nv8KUeFA

Cauliflower Rice Pudding

I’ve been told I eat some strange things sometimes, so I guess that cauliflower rice pudding will be considered one of them!

“Cauliflower rice” is literally just grated cauliflower. I don’t know who came up with the idea to grate cauliflower. And to use it as a low calorie alternative to rice. But whoever it was, I consider them a genius!

So, cauliflower rice is generally used as a substitute for “normal rice” when it comes to preparing meals. Think of any dish that you would usually eat with rice. And then just replace that rice with cauliflower rice.

Examples are numerous. But say chicken tikka masala, chilli con carne, prawns and rice, steak and rice…and so on!

I just had to be different!

However, I decided to turn it up a notch! I was experimenting in the kitchen. It occurred to me that cauliflower rice didn’t necessarily have to be eaten alongside savoury dishes. Why not make it sweet?

While the cauliflower rice, when used as part of a regular meal, could be flavoured accordingly to taste like regular rice. It occurred to me that when eaten on its own, cauliflower rice had a little bit of a porridge-like texture. And this gave me the idea to sweeten it to create a sweet porridge substitute. Or, you could say I created cauliflower rice pudding!

What are the benefits of using cauliflower rice? Why not just eat regular rice?

Let me mention first that there is nothing wrong with eating regular rice! However, substituting regular rice for cauliflower rice is just such an easy way to reduce the calories you eat.

If you are trying to lose body fat, then you must be in a “calorie deficit”. This means that you must be eating less calories than the calories you burn. So using cauliflower rice fills you up. With a large reduction in calories eaten, it makes fat loss a lot easier!

Cauliflower is cruciferous vegetable. Cruciferous vegetables include things like broccoli, cabbage, and asparagus too. The calories in these vegetables are “negligible calories”. By that, we mean that the calories used by the body to digest the vegetables is actually greater than the calories in the vegetables themselves! So essentially, they are calorie-free!

cauliflower rice pudding

Cauliflower and vegetables are also a great source of nutrients and fibre. You read more about the importance of fibre in my post HERE!

Don’t Diet!

This might sound strange, but I don’t diet anymore. I don’t get any of my clients to diet either. You might be ready to call me out on this one: “if you don’t diet, then how are you always lean?” You’ve seen my pics and videos – I always have visible abs. And my clients achieve strong, lean physiques. So, how is this possible without dieting?

Don't Diet

The Don’t-“Diet” Diet Protocol

My approach to nutrition and fat loss is through using what I’ve coined as The Don’t-“Diet” Diet Protocol. I call it this, because my “diet” isn’t a diet at all.

A “diet” is a temporary short term way of eating to force temporary unsustainable weight loss.

However, my protocol implements an enjoyable way of eating for sustainable maintainable permanent results.

Don't Diet

Diets don’t work!

I don’t like fad diets or crash diets. They don’t work. Well actually they CAN work. Except you end up putting any weight you lose back on, and often gain even more weight than before! That is why, for results that stick, you need to be eating in a way that you can actually stick to!

It sounds obvious, but for sustainable results, you need to be eating foods that you actually like! For example, you can only stick to eating fish everyday for so long if you don’t like fish!

And you need to be eating enough food too! You can try and crash diet by starving yourself. But again, for how long do you expect to stick to this before the hunger becomes overbearing?!

Then there are things to consider like eating patterns, meal frequency, flexibility, and having a balanced healthy diet. You probably wouldn’t stick to a diet for long if it meant not having breakfast, yet you know that you are ravenously hungry every morning.

Don't Diet

Don’t cut out food groups

Additionally, I don’t like cutting out food groups either. Unless you have some kind of allergy or medical condition, I see no need to deprive your body of essential nutrients!

Flexibility and variety are key. And that means allowing yourself some junk food, too! I’m not saying to eat nothing but sweets and treats! But I do believe that you should leave a little room in your food intake for small indulgences. For many people, cutting out junk food completely can be depressing, and it often leads to cravings. By allowing yourself a little junk food in moderation, you will be less likely to end up binge eating it later!

If you would like to learn more about how to include junk food in your diet and still lose fat, then check out my FREE 7 day flexible eating challenge: The Doughnut Diet

Don't Diet

Want to find out more about my Online Coaching Services?

The HARDEST diet for Fat Loss (and what you should do instead!)

The PSMF diet works, but it is so hard!

I got lean.  Quickly.  But I would not recommend this diet for the majority of people!

I am always learning, and I love trying and testing new things when it comes to training and nutrition. Which is why I was all too happy to try this dieting approach on myself.  I had seen my body fat levels creeping up lately.  So, I was quite keen to diet down anyway.  Which is why I figured why not test out a different dieting approach.

psmf

“Protein Sparing Modified Fast” (PSMF)

The dieting method I used was based on a “Protein Sparing Modified Fast” (PSMF).  Basically, this involved eating a fairly high protein diet, but minimalizing carbohydrates and dietary fats by as much as possible.  And of course, my overall calorie intake was in a deficit.

So, the theory is that the high protein intake will help spare muscle mass.  While the calorie deficit, combined with the fact that the body would only have body fat stores (plus a little excess dietary protein) for energy, would theoretically result in rapid fat loss.

Also, there would be the benefit of protein having a high TEF rate (thermic effect of food), meaning a fair number of calories from protein are used up through digestion.  And protein tends to be more satiating, which theoretically would make it easier to eat less food.

What I ate

I followed this diet for 6 weeks.  My calories were approximately 1,500 calories a day.

My daily macros fluctuated a bit but were roughly:

250g of protein

30-40g of carbs

30-40g of fats

I didn’t directly eat carbs or fats, but these accumulated from the lean protein sources and cruciferous vegetables I ate.  These included a lot of whey protein powder, chicken breast, cottage cheese, egg whites, broccoli, and cabbage.

psmf

What happened

At the start of the diet I weighed 80kg.

At the end of the 6 weeks I weighed 73.5kg.

So, I lost 6.5kg (about 14lbs) in 6 weeks.

But, I’m sure that I lost muscle too.

Not to mention losing all of my energy along with it!

Everything became a struggle.  I felt tired all of the time.

I wore a Fitbit and I ensured that I continued to get 15,000 steps a day.  But just walking felt like a workout!

My gym sessions got shorter and shorter and less and less frequent.  Any cardio besides walking felt impossible.  And my weight training strength dropped embarrassingly low.

But yeah, I did get ripped pretty quickly.  And to be fair, I didn’t really feel hungry much, considering that I filled up on lean protein and green vegetables.

psmf

The problems…

When your body doesn’t have carbs OR dietary fats to use for fuel, it sucks!  I felt weak, had poor energy levels, and lost some muscle.

Unless you are significantly overweight / obese, you should probably only use a PSMF type diet for very short durations of time (e.g. 2 weeks).

Expect energy levels and physical performance to go down the toilet on a diet like this.

Get used to eating the same foods over and over since your food choices are so limited.  Though to be fair, hunger was rarely an issue.

Why I do NOT recommend this diet!

OK, to cut to the chase, this diet is simply NOT sustainable!  It’s too hard!  And when adherence is the main factor in the success of any fat loss diet, I just don’t see many people being able to stick to this!

I mentioned above that unless you are significantly overweight, I don’t think you should be doing this diet for more than 2 weeks maximum.  And that’s because it is simply too difficult to follow long term.  It is very restrictive and limited in food choices. It saps your energy, plus I feel I lost too much muscle on this diet.

Also, I’m sure that there would be a high risk of nutrient deficiencies if you were to diet this way for the longer term, due to such limited food sources.

You could maybe use a PSMF diet like this for the first 2 weeks of a fat loss phase.  After the 2 weeks, you would transition into a more balanced and less restrictive fat loss diet.  BUT…I don’t see this working well for most people!  I can imagine most people would rebound coming off such a restrictive diet like this – i.e. they would diet for 2 weeks and then binge and pile the weight back on!

flexible eating

What is an easier way to diet for fat loss?  Keep an eye out for “The Doughnut Diet” FREE 7 Day Challenge!

I recommend that people diet in a way that isn’t so restrictive, so that you can continue to follow it for the long term.

I’d say to go with a realistic healthy, full and balanced diet, that doesn’t involve cutting out ANY food groups – and that includes junk food too!  This is the real key to sustainable, maintainable, permanent fat loss.

And it just so happens, that I will be running a FREE 7 day challenge, in which I will teach you the flexible dieting system that I use to achieve a lean muscular physique, while still getting to eat your favourite junk food!

So, check out “The Doughnut Diet” – my Free 7 Day Flexible Eating Challenge.

Training during Ramadan

When you cannot eat or drink for 16 hours or so each day, what do you do?!

Training during Ramadan? A question I get asked regularly each year, is how to best eat and train during the month of Ramadan.

Ramadan is a holy month for Muslims around the world, for it is within this month that the Muslim holy book, the Qur’an, was revealed to the Prophet Muhammed.  A special requirement for this month is that all Muslims who are able to, are required to fast every day from sunrise to sunset, abstaining from all eating or drinking, and not even water is allowed.

Harder than Intermittent Fasting

Clearly this is very different from the Intermittent Fasting (IF) protocols that are popular at the moment. At least with IF you still drink fluids whilst fasting. But for Ramadan, this is not the case!

To make matters even more difficult, the Islamic calendar is based on the lunar calendar. So the timing of the Islamic months continues to change each year.  Unfortunately, Ramadan this year begins in May, meaning that in the UK sunrise is actually around 5.00am and sunset isn’t until around 9.00pm.  So yes, for those that are able to do it, the requirement is nil-to-mouth, so no food or water during this time.  This equates to about 16 hours!  So that means that Muslims are left with a very small window to eat and drink each day, and that’s it!

training during Ramadan

Reduce your exercise – but don’t stop it completely!

Considering how difficult this task will make carrying out simple everyday routine activities, like going to work or school, it seems that sensible advice would be to put to temporarily significantly reduce the amount of any hard exercise you do.  Your body will be under a lot of stress and be severely depleted and dehydrated, so trying to train hard frequently and for long workouts would only stress the body even more, and potentially exhaust yourself and make yourself unwell.

The bad news is that you have to accept that your body will quite possibly lose SOME muscle, lose SOME strength, and gain SOME fat.  The good news is that it most likely will only be YOU that notices it!  And don’t worry, after Ramadan your body will very quickly return to the level of conditioning it was in before Ramadan.

That is not to say that you should do absolutely nothing during Ramadan, no!

training during Ramadan

Strength Training

In order to maintain as much strength and muscle as possible, it is recommended to perform very short but hard resistance training workouts.  I’d suggest limiting hard training sessions to 2 or 3 a week, and to only train for 40 minutes at the most.  In fact, quick 30-minute workouts would be even better.

Save your energy and training time for compound exercises that involve using multiple muscle groups at once.  I’d suggest performing 3 hard working sets of 5 – 8 reps per exercise, with 2 minutes or so rest between sets.  Warm up with a couple of easy sets before each exercise.  And pick 3 to 5 exercises per workout.

Free weight exercises would be best for this, like barbell squats, deadlifts, overhead presses, bent over rows, and bench press.  BUT, if you are feeling tired, weak, or groggy, then safety must take priority! So if you aren’t feeling up to it, then take caution and use the smith machine, or opt to use resistance machines instead.  Safety first!

training during Ramadan

Extra Training

On maybe 2 or 3 of the other days that you don’t train hard, you can perform “easy” mobility and flexibility exercises and drills.  These should not exert you too much, and can consist of bodyweight exercises like push ups, sit ups, chin ups, dips, body weight squats and lunges.  You could also do some light weights exercises too if you wanted.  However, all of these exercises should be with an easy weight and again, should not exert you too much.  These are only to provide your muscles with SOME stimulation, and to practice the movements to prevent you feeling rusty upon returning to regular training after Ramadan.

You could do some of the exercises from my Dynamic Warm Up HERE!

training during Ramadan

Cardio

As for cardio, it is really not recommended to do much more than walking. Besides perhaps 5 easy minutes of say the cross trainer or rowing machine to warm up.  However, if you really did feel obliged to do cardio, then HIIT on a stationary bike could be the way to go. 6 – 10 intervals of 20 second sprints, with 1 minute easy pedalling in between should do the job.

Just walking, on the other hand is fine and I recommend it. Still get your 10,000 steps a day!

training during Ramadan

When to train

As for what time to train, I’d say, if possible, to train in the morning when you are fresher and hydrated from eating and drinking the night before.

The downside however, of training earlier in the day, is that if you overdo it and train too hard, there is a chance that you will struggle to make it through the rest of the day until sunset!  So be mindful of this, and don’t overexert yourself!

Otherwise, you could train before sunset as late in the evening time as possible, so that as soon as you finish you can immediately go home and eat and drink.  Of course, you will be weaker and more depleted at this time, so you will have to pay extra attention to safety in your choice of exercises.

It might be tempting to try and train during the night after eating, but I really advise against it.  The window for eating and drinking is so small, that you need to be using this time as best as possible just for that – eating and drinking!  Don’t waste sunset hours training!

training during Ramadan

Sample Routine for Training during Ramadan

Monday – Strength Training

  1. Barbell Squat (or Leg Press) 3 sets of 6 reps
  2. Overhead Dumbbell Press (or Smith Machine Shoulder Press) 3 sets of 8 reps
  3. Barbell Bent Over Row (or Seated Cable Row) 3 sets of 6 reps
  4. Dumbbell Bench Press (or Smith Machine Bench Press) 3 sets of 8 reps

10,000 steps walking throughout the day

Tuesday – Mobility / Flexibility

Stretching

  1. Push ups 3 sets of 10 reps
  2. Bodyweight Lunges 3 sets of 10 reps / side
  3. Crunches 3 sets of 20 reps

10,000 steps walking throughout the day

Wednesday – Mobility / Flexibility

Stretching

  1. Bench Dips 3 sets of 10 reps
  2. Bodyweight Squats 3 sets of 10 reps
  3. Lying Leg raises 3 sets of 20 reps

10,000 steps walking throughout the day

Thursday – Strength Training

  1. Barbell Deadlift (or Weighted Hyperextensions) 3 sets of 6 reps
  2. Barbell Overhead Press (or Shoulder Press Machine) 3 sets of 8 reps
  3. Weighted Pull Ups (or Lat Pull Down Machine) 3 sets of 8 reps
  4. Barbell Bench Press (or Chest Press Machine) 3 sets of 8 reps

10,000 steps walking throughout the day

Friday – Rest

10,000 steps walking throughout the day

Saturday – Mobility / Flexibility

Stretching

  1. Push ups with feet elevated 3 sets of 10 reps
  2. Glute Bridges 3 sets of 10 reps
  3. Plank 3 sets of 45 second hold

10,000 steps walking throughout the day

Sunday – Rest

10,000 steps walking throughout the day

training during Ramadan

What to eat

That covers training during Ramadan. As for what to eat during Ramadan, there are two approaches: on the one hand you could say “forget it!” and just eat whatever, and worry about following a good diet again after. Or the second approach, which is to take a more thought out strategy.

If you were going to go with the second approach, I would actually recommend following as close to a ketogenic diet as possible, so that means focussing on eating protein and healthy fats, but eating as few (preferably no) carbs as possible.  The reason for this, is that if you eat carbs your body will no doubt burn through this energy source part way through the next day, causing you to “bonk” so to borrow a word from cycling.

When you “bonk” your body runs out of carbs as an energy source, causing your body to go through a difficult transitional period of adapting to use fats and/ or protein for energy.  This transitional period can be accompanied by brain fog, dizziness, nausea, fatigue, headache, moodiness, amongst other unwelcome symptoms.  So rather than experiencing these symptoms on a daily basis through Ramadan, simply abstain from eating carbs, put your body into a fat burning state, and remain that way until the end of Ramadan.

This means avoiding carbs, which includes obvious things like sugary drinks (diet drinks are OK) and fruit juice, but also avoiding bread, rice, pasta, milk, fruit, and things that include “hidden carbs” like ketchup and sauces.  This may sound difficult, especially the part about avoiding fruit since dates are traditionally consumed to break the fast, but if you HAVE to have a date then limit it to just one!  For the first few days of this diet you may struggle and crave carbs and sugary things once it comes time to eat, but don’t do it!  It’s for your own good!  These cravings will subside after the first few days and this diet will make the rest of Ramadan A LOT easier for you.

training during Ramadan

Calories

You should carry on training during Ramadan, and we’ve discussed nutrition. But it is up to you whether you choose to track calories during Ramadan.  Though to be honest, I’d recommend that you DO track calories for the first week of fasting at least.  It will give you an idea of how many calories you are taking in, and make you more mindful about your food choices.  I suggest you use a calorie counting app like MyFitnessPal (www.myfitnesspal.com).

If you’ve never used a calorie counting app before, I show you how to use it HERE!

Even if you carry on training during Ramadan, just remember that your activity levels will no doubt decrease. So you will not be moving as much and will be burning less calories.  Additionally, your metabolism will no doubt slow down as your body will try to preserve its resources during the fast.

See my post on Metabolism HERE

So, all of this means that your body will need less calories than it normally would on a daily basis.  Therefore, I wouldn’t worry about force feeding yourself after sunset to eat as many calories as possible, as this is NOT necessary!  Your body won’t need it!  If anything, you should focus more on rehydrating your body anyway.

training during Ramadan

Sleep

We’ve covered training during Ramadan and eating. Lastly, an often forgotten topic of Ramadan is sleep.  Your eating schedule will be turned upside down during this month.  Many of you will be up until the early hours of the morning eating, yet you still have to go to work or school early the next day.  Really there is no solid remedy for this, besides if possible, getting in as many naps as you can.  If you are fortunate enough to have a flexible schedule where you can sleep in until later in the day, then great.  But otherwise, you will just have to do the best you can.  This may mean taking naps at lunch time, naps after work, and naps in the evening time.  And certainly use the weekends as a prime opportunity to catch up on those missed hours of sleep too!

training during Ramadan

Training during Ramadan and staying on top of your nutrition is difficult. It’s not easy, but on the plus side at least its only for one month!  Then your life can go back to normal after!  Good luck!

Post Workout Protein and the Anabolic Window

I remember it so well. Every time I would pack my gym bag before heading off for a workout, I would always be sure to include my post workout protein shake.  It would be ready mixed in my shaker bottle, ready to be slammed back as soon as I finished the session.  And on the odd occasion when I forgot to pack my protein shake, I would be horrified!

I would hurry home as fast as I could, to quickly get my protein down as fast as possible.  My eyes would be on my watch, as I raced the clock to consume my post workout protein shake within 45 minutes of finishing my workout.  Because if I didn’t get my protein in time, that gruelling workout I had just put myself through would be a total waste.  It would result in no muscle gain if I didn’t have protein within the 45-minute post workout anabolic window!  Little did I know that I had nothing to panic about!

The 45-minute post workout anabolic window

It used to be treated as gospel that in order to maximise muscle gains, you have to consume protein within 45 minutes of completing a resistance training workout.  This time frame is known as the “anabolic window”.  We now know that the “anabolic window” isn’t anywhere near as small, or as important, as we first thought.

Yes, post workout protein can help your muscles recover and grow.  And logically, since we know that protein is used by the body for growth and repair, it sounds like it makes sense to fuel your body with nutrients after having broken your muscle tissue down through hard training.  But still, this 45-minute period of panic isn’t the drastic affair we first believed.

It’s all about total daily protein intake

A meta-analysis by Schoenfeld et al considered23 high-quality studies on protein timing.  They concluded that the total amount of protein consumed each day was a lot more important for muscle growth, as opposed to “when” that protein was consumed.

The anabolic effects of protein last 5 – 6 hours

There is evidence to show that the muscle building effects of ingested protein actually last for 5 to 6 hours.  

Let’s put this into a real-life scenario.  

You have lunch (which includes a healthy serving of protein) at 1pm.  Work finishes at 5pm and get to the gym for 5.30pm, to workout for an hour.  You finish your workout at 6.30pm.  In this case, it would make sense to have a post workout protein shake, since it would have been 5 and half hours since your last protein intake.

Post Workout Protein

But, let’s look at another example.

You wake up, slam down a protein shake, and head straight to the gym for an early morning workout before work.  Say you have your protein shake at 7am, get to the gym for 7.30am, and finish training at 8.30am.  There would be no need to necessarily have a post workout protein shake immediately. You could simply wait up until lunch at 1pm, which is 6 hours after your morning pre-workout protein shake (as long as your lunch includes a healthy dose of protein).

Protein shakes aren’t necessary

Note that protein shakes are certainly not necessary either, they simply can act as a convenient means of meeting your protein requirements.

And off course, how frequently you consume protein throughout the day is entirely up to you.  Whether you have just 3 meals, or decide to have 6 meals, it is your choice.  As long as you go no longer than 6 hours without ingesting protein, your body will still have protein “in your system” to build muscle!  Just focus mainly on getting enough protein in total over the course of each day. Don’t fuss over “having” to necessarily take in protein immediately after working out.

How much protein do I need each day?

Research suggests that, if you are looking to build muscle and you are regularly resistance training, you should aim for at least 1.6 to 2.2 grams of protein per kilogram of bodyweight each day.  So basically, aim for 1g of protein per 1lb of bodyweight each day minimum.  It still seems to be unclear what the upper limit for daily protein intake is.  But we do know that there is no proven harm in taking in “extra” protein.

post workout protein

The take home message

  • Focus on consuming “enough” protein in total, over the course of each day.
  • Aim for at least 1g of protein per 1lb of bodyweight each day in total.  But more protein than this is fine too.
  • Protein will continue to have anabolic (muscle building) effect for 5 – 6 hours after consuming it.
  • Having protein immediately after working out, i.e. the 45-minute anabolic window, is not necessary.
Post Workout Protein

References

International society of sports nutrition position stand: diets and body composition
Alan A. Aragon, Brad J. Schoenfeld,Robert Wildman, Susan Kleiner, Trisha VanDusseldorp, Lem Taylor, Conrad P. Earnest, Paul J. Arciero, Colin Wilborn, Douglas S. Kalman, Jeffrey R. Stout, Darryn S. Willoughby, Bill Campbell, Shawn M. Arent, Laurent Bannock, Abbie E. Smith-Ryan and Jose Antonio
Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition201714:16
https://doi.org/10.1186/s12970-017-0174-y
©  The Author(s). 2017Received: 25 May 2017Accepted: 30 May 2017Published: 14 June 2017

Lou Schuler and Alan Aragon, “The Lean Muscle Diet: a customized workout plan – eat the food your love to build the body you want and keep it for life”, Men’s Health, Rodale Inc.(2014).

de Souza R, Bray G, Carey V, Hall K, LeBoff M, Loria C, et al. Effects of 4 weight-loss diets differing in fat, protein, and carbohydrate on fat mass, lean mass, visceral adipose tissue, and hepatic fat: results from the POUNDS LOST trial. Am J Clin Nutr. 2012;95(3):614–25.

Antonio J, Peacock C, Ellerbroek A, Fromhoff B, Silver T. The effects of consuming a high protein diet (4.4 g/kg/d) on body composition in resistance-trained individuals. J Int Soc Sports Nutr. 2014;11:19. doi:10.1186/1550-2783-11-19.

Antonio J, Ellerbroek A, Silver T, Orris S, Scheiner M, Gonzalez A, et al. A high protein diet (3.4 g/kg/d) combined with a heavy resistance training program improves body composition in healthy trained men and women–a follow-up investigation. J Int Soc Sports Nutr. 2015;12:39.

Antonio J, Ellerbroek A, Silver T, Vargas L, Peacock C. The effects of a high protein diet on indices of health and body composition–a crossover trial in resistance-trained men. J Int Soc Sports Nutr. 2016;13:3. doi:10.1186/s12970-016-0114-2.

Antonio J, Ellerbroek A, Silver T, Vargas L, Tamayo A, Buehn R, et al. A high protein diet has no harmful effects: a one-year crossover study in resistance-trained males. J Nutr Metab. 2016;2016:9104792. doi:10.1155/2016/9104792.

The effect of protein timing on muscle strength and hypertrophy: a meta-analysis
Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition201310:53
https://doi.org/10.1186/1550-2783-10-53
©  Schoenfeld et al.; licensee BioMed Central Ltd. 2013
Received:22 September 2013,Accepted:20 November 2013

“Metabolic Damage”

Last post I spoke about “starvation mode”.  If you missed it, you can read it HERE

Basically, I spoke about how “starvation mode” (at least the version most of us know it as) is a myth.

In this post I want to talk about a fairly similar topic: “metabolic damage”.

You may have heard this term thrown around lately, as it seems to be the latest fad within fitness circles.

What is metabolic damage?

So, the theory goes something like this…

You follow a calorie-controlled diet for a prolonged period of time.  You workout regularly and consistently (particularly doing a lot of cardio, too). Over the weeks and months you manage to drop body fat and maintain or even build muscle mass too.  But what happens next?

It appears that all of that dieting and training negatively impacted your basal metabolic rate (slowed your metabolism).  Your body starts burning less calories than it should. And this ultimately brings your fat loss to a halt.  It has “damaged” your metabolism, i.e. “metabolic damage”.  Now the only way to fix it is by following a super complicated far-out bunch of witchcraft type diet techniques.

Not true.

Is metabolic damage real?

No, metabolic damage is not real.  End of article.  Just kidding! Keep reading.

As discussed in my post on “starvation mode”, when you are in a prolonged calorie deficit, it is true that processes do take place in the body to prevent further weight loss.  But it won’t “stop” you from losing fat.  And there are some external factors at play too when dieting.

So, it is true that:

 – You naturally tend to feel more tired and move less – i.e. NEAT (non-exercise activity thermogenesis) levels decrease (fidgeting, pacing, walking, etc).

– Also, it is true that your metabolism begins to slow down after consistent dieting (this is adaptive thermogenesis), meaning your body will burn less calories while at rest.

What may be classed as external factors, are:

– TEF (thermic effect of food) levels decrease, probably because you’ll be eating less food due to dieting.  So, your body will burn less calories through the process of digestion.

– You will burn less calories during exercise, because your body adapts to become more efficient at carrying out exercise while saving energy.  Plus, it may very well be that you are not training as hard as you think you are, if energy levels are declining from dieting.

But no, your body does not enter a “mode” where it refuses to drop body fat!  Nor does your metabolism get damaged.

The Minnesota Experiment

I want to refresh your memories from my last post on “starvation mode” POST,and again mention the Minnesota Experiment.

You can read more details about this in my previous post. To summarise, an experiment was conducted on starvation.  The participants were genuinely starved (extremely low calories) and forced to perform hard physical activity every day for six months.  The findings of this dangerous study were that the participants lost 25% of their bodyweight on average.  And, despite being starved and worked to exhaustion, the participants’ only saw a fairly small reduction in their basal metabolic rate (metabolism).  Furthermore, this decrease in their basal metabolic rate was significantly remedied after twelve weeks of following a normal diet again.

The take home message: their bodies did not suffer metabolic damage.  They continued to lose weight over the duration of the experiment.  And their metabolisms pretty much returned to normal afterwards.  If this is what happened to these guys after six months of torturous conditions, do you really think it will be different for you? In comparison, your diet of a slight calorie deficit , with workouts a few times a week is a breeze!

And another metabolic damage study

Still not convinced?  OK, here’s another paper.  They concluded that “the theory of permanent, diet-induced metabolic slowing in non-obese individuals is not supported by the current literature”.

The rate of weight loss did slow down, but it never came to a stop.  And participants continued to lose weight for the duration of the study.

Zinchenko, Anastasia & Henselmans, Menno. (2016). Metabolic Damage: do Negative Metabolic Adaptations During Underfeeding Persist After Refeeding in Non-Obese Populations?. Medical Research Archives. 4. 10.18103/mra.v4i8.908.

https://www.researchgate.net/publication/312308214_Metabolic_Damage_do_Negative_Metabolic_Adaptations_During_Underfeeding_Persist_After_Refeeding_in_Non-Obese_Populations

Then why does it seem that fat loss stalls after prolonged dieting?

This question is actually very simple to answer.

  1. Fat loss tends NOT to be linear, especially after dieting for a little while.  This means that after a few weeks into a calorie-controlled diet, you may very well not see a pattern of regular fat loss each week.  You might lose 1lb one week, 2lbs the next week, no change for the next two weeks, and then 1lb the week after.  It’s not always linear!  You may think that your body is not dropping fat anymore, when in fact it still is. The process just may have become slower.
  • You may be gaining muscle mass whilst dropping body fat.  This is especially possible for those new to resistance training.  If you lose a lb of fat but gain a lb of muscle, then your body weight will not have changed.
  • You may be retaining water.  This can happen depending on:
  1. hydration levels,
  2. the time of day you weigh yourself,
  3. your stress (cortisol) levels,
  4. your menstrual cycle if you are female,
  5. or even due to how much food you have still in your digestive system.
  • The most likely solution – you are eating too much.  Even when you have the best of intentions in sticking to your diet, adherence becomes harder and harder over time.  Portion sizes slowly begin to creep up, whether you know it or not. The best fix for this is to weigh and log all of your food and drink.

OK, metabolic damage doesn’t exist.  But what should I do after I finish dieting so to prevent regaining fat?

The answer to this question is really simple: reverse dieting.  I talk more about reverse dieting in this post HERE from when I used reverse dieting myself after dieting.  To sum it up, it is exactly as the name implies.  It is the process of gradually increasing calories and / or decreasing exercise levels over a time period to give your metabolism time to adjust back to normal, without piling on body fat.

I hope you found this post useful.  Yes, your metabolism will slow down a little from dieting.  But you now know that metabolic damage simply just doesn’t exist, so is one less thing to worry about.

“Starvation Mode”

It is quite likely that you have come across the term “starvation mode” before.

If you are dieting and exercising, but you are not seeing progress, then a common self-diagnosis is that your body has gone into “starvation mode”.  In this post I am going to reassure you that this is simply not the case!  Read on!

Here’s a common scenario

You were trying to lose weight, so you decreased your calorie intake and stayed disciplined to your workout routine.  You were happy to see your bodyweight readings going down, and your physical appearance was beginning to look slimmer and leaner.  Then all of a sudden, for no apparent reason, all progress appeared to stop!

You didn’t cheat on your diet.  You didn’t skip any workouts.

So, you do what most of us do when we have a problem.  You search online.  You talk to your friends.

And you soon come to the conclusion that you are not losing weight because your body has gone into “starvation mode”.

Starvation Mode

What is “starvation mode”?

“Starvation mode” is the term used to describe the theory stating that when your body feels it is being deprived of food, a survival mechanism is triggered where the body will stop you from losing body fat.  So, the theory concludes that if you have been dieting and then all of a sudden, your weight loss stalls, it is because your body “thinks” it is being starved.

Sound legit?  Keep reading!

Is “starvation mode” real?

The short answer here, is yes, but not to the extent you might think.  Yes, it is true that processes do take place in the body to prevent further weight loss, following a prolonged restricted calorie intake. Though it won’t “stop” you from losing fat.  And there are some external factors at play too when dieting.

– You naturally tend to feel more tired and move less – i.e. NEAT (non-exercise activity thermogenesis) levels decrease (fidgeting, pacing, walking, etc).

– Also, it is true that your metabolism begins to slow down after consistent dieting (this is adaptive thermogenesis), meaning your body will burn less calories while at rest.

What may be classed as external factors, are:

– TEF (thermic effect of food) levels decrease, probably because you’ll be eating less food when dieting, so your body will burn less calories through the process of digestion.

– You will burn less calories during exercise, because your body adapts to become more efficient at carrying out exercise while saving energy.  Plus, it may very well be that you are not training as hard as you think you are, if energy levels are declining through dieting.

But no, your body does not enter a “mode” where it refuses to drop body fat!

So, when dieting, you will feel more tired and less prone to move and burn energy spontaneously and unnecessarily (e.g. fidgeting).  And your metabolism will begin to slow, but this will not stop you from continuing to lose body fat.

An extreme example here, but have you ever seen someone suffering from anorexia?  They still continue to drop body fat despite literally starving themselves, right?!

The Minnesota Experiment

The Minnesota Experiment is worth mentioning, just to emphasise my point.  So, let’s go back in history a little.

Towards the end of the Second World War in 1944, an experiment was carried out to see the best way to assist starving people to return to a healthy body weight.

36 soldiers participated in the experiment, in which for six months they were put through conditions meant to replicate a prisoner of war (POW) camp.  These men were made to do hours of manual labour each day.  Plus, they had to march for many miles, and were only given a diet of half the calories of their average daily calorie output. They were quite literally starved.

At the end of the six months, the men had lost on average 25% of their bodyweight.  Their metabolisms (basal metabolic rate) were estimated to be only 20% lower than they had been previously (not a great deal considering the circumstances!).

The men were put on a “recovery diet” over the twelve weeks afterwards, at which point their metabolisms were recalculated to be only 10% lower than normal.  Which isn’t such a great deal at all!

So, my point here?  If these guys were to be put under the most extreme circumstances of actual starvation, and yet:

  1. They were continuing to drop body fat
  2. Their metabolisms didn’t even slow down by a great deal, and their metabolisms recovered fairly quickly afterwards too…

…then it is safe to say that the average person following a conservative diet and exercise program has nothing to worry about!

Starvation Mode

Then why does it seem that fat loss stalls after prolonged dieting?

This question is actually very simple to answer.

  • Fat loss tends NOT to be linear, especially after dieting for a little while.  This means that after a few weeks into a calorie-controlled diet, you may very well not see a pattern of regular fat loss each week.  You might lose 1lb one week, 2lbs the next week, no change for the next two weeks, and then 1lb the week after.  It’s not always linear!  You may think that your body is not dropping fat anymore, when in fact it still is. The process just may have become slower.
  • You may be gaining muscle mass whilst dropping body fat.  This is especially possible for those new to resistance training.  If you lose a lb of fat but gain a lb of muscle, then your body weight will not have changed.
  • You may be retaining water.  This can happen depending on:
  1. hydration levels,
  2. the time of day you weigh yourself,
  3. your stress (cortisol) levels,
  4. your menstrual cycle if you are female,
  5. or even due to how much food you have still in your digestive system.
  • The most likely solution – you are eating too much.  Even when you have the best of intentions in sticking to your diet, adherence becomes harder and harder over time.  Portion sizes slowly begin to creep up, whether you know it or not. The best fix for this is to weigh and log all of your food and drink.

If you think that it is “starvation mode” that has brought your fat loss to a stop, then think again. I am almost 99% sure that “starvation mode” is not the reason!

3 Minute Protein Cake

Make a protein cake in just 3 minutes? Sounds good, right!

It’s soft and spongy and delicious, and really low in calories!

Ingredients

The ingredients I use are:

Whey Protein (any flavour) 1-2 scoops
Baking Powder 1/2 – 1 teaspoon
Xanthan Gum 1 teaspoon
Stevia (optional)

Instructions

Place ingredients in a large microwave-safe mixing bowl.

Slowly stir in a little bit of water to get a thick paste. You won’t need much water. Keep adding just a little water at a time (you don’t want it to be runny!)

Microwave for 2 – 3 minutes until the mixture forms a spongy protein cake. Just a word of warning – you might want to microwave for a minute at a time, and keep checking the consistency of the cake after each minute. You don’t want to overcook it or it will go dry.

Nutrition

Depending on the type of whey protein you use, and how many scoops you put in, your nutritional values will vary. But I know for me, using 2 scoops, it came to:

Calories 197
Carbs 3g
Fat 3g
Protein 40g

protein cake

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