DaveHPT Custom Flexible Dieting Guidelines: Testimonial

Here’s a nice video testimonial from a great supporter and customer of mine, who was smart enough to follow the Custom Flexible Dieting Guidelines I produced for her a while back.

As you can hear for yourself, the benefits of Flexible Dieting, and in particular MY approach to Flexible Dieting are many and varied. The benefits of being aware of and focussed upon exceeding your minimum requirements, rather than on restricting to some arbitrary “very low calorie” target should almost go without saying. Let’s run through some of them in random order all the same:

  • You’re actually fuelling your body properly, enabling good health and great results from training.
  • You quickly learn to build your own plan, consisting of more of the foods you like to eat, including some purely for enjoyment.
  • As you learn the macronutrional value of different foods and train your appetite to be more in tune with your requirements, you will be far less likely to over or under fuel when eating intuitively.
  • Understanding just how much fuel their bodies will utilise to fuel, recover from and adapt to training, and with no restrictions on what food choices are included in meeting those requirements, my clients soon feel like they are just “eating whatever they want”, and still seeing better results than ever before.

The Actual Truth About How Carbs Make You Fat

This isn’t what you’re probably expecting.

I’ve noticed over the last six months or so that there is a real swing happening towards more flexible and moderate approaches to nutrition, which I would describe as “common sense” approaches which also happen to have scientific backing if you’re following the right people. I’m optimistic that it is a swing away from restrictive diets and the scientific half truths and revisionist history that has been popular the past few years… but it could just be that I’ve insulated myself from being exposed to nonsense by only networking with a better class of more intelligent, eloquent and ethical industry people. We shall see.

Regardless of this, I guess there are always going to be people who stick to their guns even though those ideas are going out of vogue and despite (much more importantly) the overwhelming real world evidence to the contrary. As such I’ve been shown a couple of articles this week still pushing the “carbs are bad” rhetoric which has inspired me to put this entry together. I’m not going to link to the articles because frankly those sites are stupid and full of nonsense and they don’t deserve to get any extra traffic especially from my blog which is awesome and full of brilliance, but there was one about “carb overload” and another one explaining how “over eating processed carbs is worse than over eating healthier foods”; both basically trying to tell you “carbs are bad and you should buy this here low carb diet book from our sponsor”.

“Calories are not equal” is the other thing that you’ll hear a lot from these people, and in some regards this is actually correct. Hear me out, flexible dieters! Obviously our bodies utilise carbohydrates, fats and proteins for different purposes… I don’t think anyone disputes this. However depending on who the source is, the argument made is either that ALL carbohydrates are doing you harm, or the slightly more moderate position that there are “good carbs” and “bad carbs” and our body has a use for one type but not the other and therefore deals with them differently.

That’s not correct but where there is some truth in the idea that “calories are not equal” is the difference not between supposed “good” and “bad” calories but between regular calories and EXCESS calories. This should be obvious to anyone with reasonable level of intelligence and willingness to apply that intelligence towards reaching a logical conclusion. In particular reference to the article I mentioned about about deliberately overeating, of course your body is going to deal with those calories differently. You’re deliberately consuming more than double your required daily intake, and mostly from low nutrient, low fibre, quickly digested foods. You are training your body to become very, very efficient at storing fat… and you’re doing it deliberately.

Now if you’re to believe the take home message of these articles… the lessons we learn from deliberately following the best possible course of action to achieve maximum fat gain are applicable to people trying to lose weight as well. And since EXCESS carbs are very efficiently turned into fat, carbs need to be avoided under every circumstance.

Ab. Solute. Bollocks.

Have you ever known someone who lost weight simply by cutting out soft drinks / sodas and drinking water instead? Maybe you’ve done so yourself. Since the calories in soft drinks are mostly derived from simple sugars, wouldn’t this imply that one (if not all) of the “carbs are the culprit” theories are correct?

The answer is yes. But not in the way that you’re lead to believe.

Let’s assume a hypothetical male client of about my height and weight, working in an office job and we’ll say downing a 600ml bottle of a certain cola beverage at lunch time most days. Now in case you didn’t know, in real life I am actually overweight because I’m a muscular beast and phenomenally strong. But in this example let’s assume the extra weight is mostly body fat, and I’m getting a little exercise a couple of times per week rather than every day at a reasonably advanced level as per real life. This is quite a believable, realistic set of circumstances wouldn’t you agree?

Now as I crunch the numbers on this hypothetical client I see that with only a lightly active lifestyle, there is only a relatively small difference between “calories expected to maintain current weight” and “calories expected to maintain healthy goal weight”. In other words; if you are not terribly active those excess calories will add up very quickly and result in significant weight gain from increased body fat. Now by simply cutting out that daily 600ml bottle, we reduce total intake by 258 calories per day, 1806 per week. You can see that this is a sufficient deficit to produce at least a few kilograms of weight loss, especially if we make the (rather bold, I admit) assumption that the client’s eating habits are otherwise not too far removed from what we would expect to maintain a healthy weight.

Let’s say though that instead of cutting out the bottle of soft drink, you decide to drop two baked potatoes out of your lunch or dinner. Roughly the same amount of calories, although there’s some protein and fibre in there this time. All things considered, we’d still expect about the same amount of weight loss as we’re ending up at about the same amount of calories. The big difference though is that you’d be bloody hungry missing out on those potatoes, and more likely to end up giving in and eating something else instead – ending up back in excess calories again. Can the same be said when cutting out the same amount of calories from that bottle of drink?

The problem then is not that carbs (or sugars) are bad and need to be avoided. The problem is with food and beverage products that deliver a large amount of carbohydrates in a serving size that is disproportionate to the amount of energy and the amount of satiety they provide. In other words, products that are more likely to put you into excess calories, while still leaving you hungry and therefore likely to go even further into excess.

With all of that being said though, the important thing to remember is that even if you do indulge, you will not gain fat or ruin your progress if you are not going into excess calories regularly. When you train strategically, your calorie requirements go up, and if you have a good plan you can find a little space for some indulgence when you really feel like it.

Meat Eating Hippies, And The Paleo Diet

A guest post from Cat Smiley.

Q: How do you know when someone is on the Paleo Diet?

A: They’ll tell you!

I’ve kind of seen enough Paleo status updates to last me a while. And yes, sure – it’s got the benefits – why else would it have become one of the most buzzed about celebrity diets right now?

Beauties such as Megan Fox and Jessica Biel crediting this way of life for their red carpet bods can’t be wrong. I mean, even Miley Cyrus (who isn’t exactly known for taking advice or being logical) is raving about her experience “Everyone should try no gluten for a week! The change in your skin, physical and mental health is amazing. You won’t go back!” Cyrus said. “It’s not about weight — it’s about health. Gluten is crap anyway!” LOL Awesome review, coming from an actress who clearly doesn’t value health all that much as told in a Rolling Stones Interview: “I think weed is the best drug on earth,” Cyrus said. “Hollywood is a coke town, but weed is so much better. And Molly too. Those are happy drugs — social drugs.” Now because this blog post is for my buddy Dave, I can’t resist mentioning that this young lady is Justin Beiber’s mentor; perhaps the Paleo Diet makes him feel the need for multiple shirtless selfies? Oh jeez.

So what is it?

You eat anything that can be fished, hunted or gathered. The principal is that you eat high protein and low carbohydrates in whatever quantity you want, and do whatever exercise you want to do…. and if you want to do no exercise, that’s okay too, apparently. Anything that evolved through the development of agriculture is off limits, which includes dairy, salt, processed sugar and oils, legumes. Hippy….much? Maybe a little.

What do you eat?

The main types of foods included in Paleo diet are fruit, vegetables, roots, nuts, fish and meat. Processed foods like salts, sugars, dairy products and grains are prohibited. Adapting to the Paleo diet can help promote weight loss as refined sugar and junk foods are avoided, with instead body fat used as a source of energy.

Weight Loss Benefits

Most people going Paleo eat much more fruit and veges than they’d normally eat. This means that they’re taking in more fibre, a definite benefit in improving gastrointestinal motility – key players in optimal functioning of the digestive system. Improved digestive system means improved metabolism. If you are using Paleo diet for weight loss then meat and fish should also be taken in minimal quantities and focus should be more on fruits, vegetables, root vegetables and nuts.

The good stuff

The Paleo Diet is scientifically proven to help stave off degenerative diseases such as obesity, cancer, diabetes, heart disease, Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, depression and infertility. “The Paleo diet is a very healthy diet”, says Dr. Loren Cordain, PhD, Colorado State University professor and the author of “The Paleo Diet”. Benefits of eating this way include improved blood pressure and glucose tolerance, increased insulin sensitivity, decreased insulin secretion and improved lipid profile in healthy non-obese sedentary people.

I did a shout out on my facebook page and one poster, Michael Kovacs said: “I’ve been Paleo for several years now, lost 110lbs. Reversed all my ailments including asthma, sleep apnea, High Blood Pressure, Improved my cholesterol score, Reversed T2 diabetes. Best of all I don’t get sick anymore. I attribute my successes to living a HFLC, Paleo lifestyle which includes a diet with lots of healthy fats, low carb vegetables, and pasture raised/grass fed meats and fish.” Nice work Michael!

The not-so-good stuff

Well for one, I promote a vegetarian lifestyle and the Paleo is all about meat, meat and more meat. And then when you’re done? Have some more meat. The crazed out protein intake can NOT be good for the kidneys. So if you do this diet, stay smart about your portion sizes. Keep your total protein intake the same as you normally would, and don’t go Atkins in your approach.

Secondly. The ‘carbophobic’ mentality. My personal training clients who have sworn by the Paleo cult – because it really is – has led many great people to have really terrible sleeping patterns and even personality disorders. It starts with bad breath and leads to carbohydrate deficit of serotonin being able to be produced naturally in your body, which in turn converts to melatonin in your sleep. Lack of sleep opens a whole other can of worms.

With all its benefits there are also some of its harmful effects on health as some diets such as whole grains, legumes and dairy products also prohibited which are essential for our health. Absence of calcium increases the risk of osteoporosis and also decreases body calcium level, which can put women over 55 years old especially at increased risk of fractures and bone density issues.

Final Word

If going Paleo, do it for a short period of time. Once you hit goal weight, go back to your regular healthy diet. Oh, and while you’re on it, kick ass workouts should happen on a daily basis. Track your protein, carbohydrate and fat intake in an app on your smart phone so that you are on track with the recommended macronutrient ratio in line with your goals.

Cat Smiley is a leading body transformation expert and has been named Canada’s top trainer three times by the International Sports Science Association. She is the author of The Planet Friendly Diet, and owner of Canada’s première weight loss retreat for women, located in Whistler, Canada.

Flexible Dieting vs Restrictive “Clean Eating” For Weight Loss

This is the continuation from the IIFYM vs Clean Eating For Weight Loss post of a couple days ago.

As promised, in this entry I’ll run through a couple of the reasons braniacs on the internet dispute the efficacy of the IIFYM or Flexible Dieting strategy, and I’ll show that all you need is a shred of common sense to see the absence of logic in their… logic.

Now, as I’ve said in the past, I’ve got not problem with people adopting whatever diet they want (so long as it is healthy enough), and no problem with people recommending whatever diet they want so long as the reasons they give as to why people should follow that approach are true and accurate. So, for example the concept of the so called “paleo” diet does not stand up to scrutiny in either the claims that “this is what our primitive ancestor ate” (cos it isn’t) or the ludicrous implication that no one ever lost weight or was normal size through any other method other than paleo style dieting, because all these other foods spell instant doom.

That’s a load of nonsense, but if people where to say something like “here’s a diet that’s built on more nutritious, natural foods that will allow you to eat more, feel full, and get an appropriate balance of macro and micronutrients to meet your goal” then fine. And if people read about it and go “you know what, I can do that… I mostly eat all those foods anyway”, then good. It is only when unscrupulous marketers LIE to people who already have a poor relationship with food, and already doubt their ability to be successful in weight loss that this becomes a major problem.

So with that being said, on to the top 3 lies that lying liars use to make people think this is all a really complicated and difficult thing to get right, and only they have the answers. Inspired mostly by Vince DelMonte’s facebook page. What a guy he is. Wow.

1. Calories In Calories Out is a flawed model.

This is the usual first claim that comes up, that bodyweight is NOT determined by overall calorie intake. Now to back this up, you’ll usually be given an extreme example of what happens when people excessively restrict their intake of calories. Well… I’ve written a million words on the subject already. It’s true that when you over restrict, survival mechanisms kick in producing a hormonal response that allows the body to conserve and store energy to maintain a weight that is NOT proportionate to calorie intake.

What’s our system called again though? It’s If It FITS Your Macros, not “if you restrict to a completely inappropriate amount”.

Argument invalid.

2. You get fat when you eat carbs, because carbs drive insulin and insulin drives fat storage. Total calories is irrelevant.

This line of nonsense was made up by Gary Taubes who for the record is not a nutritionist, dietician, trainer or athlete. In the body building world it is pushed by morons like Vince DelMonte amongst others. Now… you can ask these guys to explain how this works and they’ll tell you “because excess carbs are stored as fat, it’s not due to surplus calories”. Now… correct me if I’m wrong but don’t “excess” and “surplus” mean the same thing? And if you dialled in a plan based on appropriate total calories and an appropriate amount of those calories coming from carbohydrates, would there actually be ANY surplus to be stored as fat?

This is the sort of junk science that has otherwise intelligent people restricting FRUIT of all things because they’re scared the fructose will make them fat via an insulin spike. It is MADNESS.

Argument invalid.

3. Total calories and over eating is not the issue, it is choices of foods. If you eat grains you get fat. 

Hell, I just read that if you eat meat from a cow that has eaten grains in the last 3 months of it’s life, you’re screwed too. Where do these idiots come up with this stuff? This “caveman diet” nonsense has already been debunked by enough archaeologists, anthropologists and historians a dozen times. We’ve been eating grains and bread for tens of thousands of years. This notion that grains are to blame for the obesity epidemic as if no one ever ate them before the 1980s is completely ridiculous.

Argument invalid.

So… it goes on and on and depending on who’s nonsense you are reading you need to be concerned with everything from inflammation, to glycemic index, micronutrient content, how those micronutrients effect uptake of other micronutrients, lord knows what else. It’s all absolute garbage, and for an average person to be at all concerned with these things is actually classified as an eating disorder, known as orthorexia nervosa.

Throughout history there have been countless millions of people who were not overweight or obese despite never giving a thought to any of this. They simply ate “about the right amount” most of the time. Still today, there are countless people who have been overweight or obese and have gotten into shape just by consuming an appropriate amount more often than not.

Now, whether you can win a body building contest on a Flexible Dieting plan is for other people to argue about, but I can tell you without any doubt that you CAN use this approach in conjunction with a good training plan, and get into better shape than 90% of the human population.

IIFYM vs Clean Eating For Weight Loss Clients

Oooooh talk about a contentious subject. What I really mean by clean eating in this instance is your “Traditional Body Building style diet”, because over the past couple of weeks I’ve seen (and weighed in on) a lot of arguments implying that this level of precise attention to detail is required for ALL people with any form of weight management or body composition goal.

First up let me say this as something of a disclaimer, I’ve never been in body building contest shape, and I don’t train people for contests either. I do train people to be in damn awesome shape though, using a Flexible Dieting aka IIFYM (If It Fits Your Macros) approach, plus strategic and methodical training systems.

So, the real body builders can argue amongst themselves about what’s required to get into contest shape and it’s not really any of my concern, until it starts to spill over into what’s required for the average person to go from being over weight or obese (or just “out of shape”) into pretty damn awesome shape at a normal or chosen goal weight. I’ll get to why it’s an issue a little later.

Your traditional style body building diet is always going to consist of more lean protein, more nutrient dense vegetables, very little if any “junk” foods with empty calories. You could pretty much say “here’s a list of the most super nutritious foods, you can eat your fill of them and be certain to end up with a good spread of vitamins and minerals and appropriate macronutrient ratios suitable to your goal of getting lean and strong”.

It’s pretty much impossible and pointless to argue against. It’s a tried and tested method used to create some of the most impressive, super-human physiques ever seen. Now, I’m fortunate enough to be acquainted with some of best names in body building in the country at the gym, and of course it’s easy enough to follow the big names on the international scene via facebook, twitter or whatever else. If these guys want to tell me “this is the only way to do it”, to go from the short of shape I’m in, to the sort of shape they’re in… who am I to argue? They’ve done it, I haven’t.

Except for one thing. There are some who have done it, who’ll tell you straight out that they do NOT follow the traditional “clean eating” style body building diets. This is what’s known as Flexible Dieting, or “If It Fits Your Macros”. The theory being, sure those body building diets work because they deliver the appropriate total calorie intake, macronutrient ratios, vitamins and minerals to fuel and nourish the body in the way that is required to optimum results, but with some planning you could just as easily meet those nutritional requirements with a less strict, less restrictive approach, including more of the foods you like to eat.

Now… people love to argue and they’re always going to want to tell each other “your way is wrong, my way is better”. Well… who cares? If you want to be right so bad, you’ll have your chance to prove it at the next contest. Where it becomes an issue though, is when they’re selling these ideas to other people. Not “other people” who’ve decided they want to compete in body building, but regular every day people who need to lose weight and get into shape for their health or to improve the quality of their life.

As far as Flexible Dieting or IIFYM for weight loss goes, let’s not mince words here. When people speak out against the efficacy of IIFYM for weight loss they’re either morons trying to appear clever, or actually clever enough to realise there’s a lot of money to be made by telling people “it’s all very complicated and if you really want to understand it the only way is to buy my book”.

In the following entry, I’m going to use some very basic common sense to debunk the usually touted reasons why these idiots claim IIFYM won’t work.

Vegetarian & Vegan Bodybuilding, Weight Loss and General Health And Fitness

Let’s talk vegetarian and vegan body building, and general health and fitness.

Now, over the past year or two as far as my online presence and business focus goes, I’ve been talking a lot about weight loss. Since becoming more involved in the fitness related social networks, micro blogging and so forth, I became more aware of the amount of misinformation (or perhaps, disinformation) being spread, ranging from just over complicated or inaccurate advice all the way through to the promotion of dangerous and damaging unhealthy approaches.

The line between what is just inaccurate or unhelpful and what is dangerous and damaging is vague and blurry. There are any number of different dieting strategies people could adopt and be successful with, but whenever the message is “you must cut out these foods, and you cannot do it without these other foods” we’re straight into inaccurate territory. For people who think “well that’s easy enough, I can do that” it’s all well and good.

More often though, people already doubt themselves and their ability to succeed. You throw a lot of rules and restrictions at them and they doubt their ability to stick to them. They try to force themselves to stick to them, inevitably fail, and then things get messy as people start to associate feelings of guilt or inadequacy with eating and before you know it… actually I double the general public really has any idea how rife this is and what a serious health and mental health issue it has become. If you’re active in or have browsed the supposed “health and fitness” or weight loss tags of the various blogging platforms, you’ll know what I’m talking about already. It is most concerning.

I digress a little especially as I’m supposed to be talking about vegetarian fitness and body building or body sculpting, but my point is that all these rules and restrictions aren’t at all necessary and the responsible message that people in the business (or anyone else) should be promoting is that as long as you know your nutritional requirements (and limits) you really can meet them with your choice of foods and nothing needs to be off limits entirely.

Now watch how smoothly I tie all this together and turn it into a post about vegetarian fitness.

So like I said earlier, I talk and write a lot about weight loss and I’ve become very successful in using Flexible Dieting principles (aka IIFYM) combined with strategic and methodical training to produce some truly amazing results in weight loss, body sculpting and re-composition with clients all around the world. For myself though, my interest is in getting bigger, stronger and more symmetrically proportioned while still remaining relatively lean; known to the general public as “body building” although truth be told I do not really take this anywhere near to the level required to get on stage and compete.

Also, I happen to be a vegetarian at least 99% of the time.

Now, talking earlier about all these unnecessary rules and restrictions, who out there would possibly get told “you can’t do it that way” more than someone trying to get big and strong on a vegetarian diet? Well… you’ve got your vegans I suppose, that’s about it. The point remains the same though. Regardless of the goal, if you know your nutritional requirements you can build your own plan to meet them with your choice of foods. You do need to know those requirements, and you do need to plan and ensure that you meet them… it requires some effort but it is entirely doable for anyone who is serious about trying.

Of course… you also need an awesome training program.

But protein though?

All you vegetarians and vegans out there are already sick of being asked this annoying question by people who suddenly think they’re a nutritionist as soon as they find out you don’t like chewing on animals. Right? Back in my corporate days, as soon as I got a sniffle some joker would instantly chime in with the old “it’s because you don’t get enough protein” line. I’ve ranted about this so many times in the past already. Really though? Because I could tell them exactly how much protein I was getting on a daily basis, due to actually having a nutrition plan I’d created to meet my needs. Also I could probably lift them up over my head and throw them across the room, or tear their arm off and beat them with the wet end if they keep trying to lecture me about things they know nothing about.

If you’re a lacto-ovo vegetarian… no problem at all, because that means you’ve got your eggs and dairy as protein sources. You can always supplement with whey, soy or other forms of protein shakes if you need to bring up your protein intake. Vegans, you’ve still got your pulses, nuts and seeds and there are now some pretty nice tasting plant based protein supplements available as well.

Something I have been reading up on a little bit lately and trying to get an even better understanding of is the way the human body can actually synthesise protein for itself. What this means is that as long as you’re getting your 9 Essential Amino Acids, your body can synthesise whatever else it needs to produce a complete protein. There is no scarcity of plant based sources for these Essential Amino Acids, and as a vegan these sources will make up the majority of your total daily calorific intake.

In other words you have very little to worry about, if anything at all.

A good, varied vegetarian or vegan diet will also mean an excellent micronutrition (that means vitamins and minerals) profile, as well. One could safely bet, much better than those of the average misinformed meat eater lecturing you about protein as if it is the only important aspect of nutrition.

Calorie counting, or intuitive eating? Which is better?

Here’s a hot topic on the health and fitness blogosphere. What should people do if they want to lose weight and get into shape? Count calories, or eat intuitively?

My opinion might not be what you’d expect.

The complaint against calorie counting is that people have a tendency to get obsessed with restricting to an unhealthy, lower than low amount of calories. That’s a valid concern, but blame the individual, not the method. The purpose of calorie counting is to ensure that you are getting the right amount, not too much, not too little, that is required to maintain your healthy goal weight. I’ve already called out diet companies and others who recommend unhealthy restrictive calorie targets… but let’s assume you’ve been given a target that is actually correct and reasonable; restricting to a lower amount is a deliberate choice. The issue isn’t that calorie counting promotes restrictive eating, the issue is with people who choose to use calorie counting to ensure that they do not meet their minimum requirement.

So… if you count calories and actually have a suitable target to support your healthy goal weight, you can’t go too far wrong.

Intuitive eating though, what about that?

The problem with telling people “don’t count calories, just eat intuitively” is that most people’s intuition is SHOT TO HELL. If it wasn’t, they wouldn’t be overweight to begin with! I put the blame on increased portion sizes at restaurants and especially fast food outlets, but for whatever other reason… people over eat, and get fat. Then they decide they need to get into shape, so they cut back to an amount that they think is suitable to lose weight… from my observation, usually even less than the people who count calories to a “below what I would recommend” level.

So people’s idea of “this is about how much I should eat normally” is wrong, and they gain weight. Their idea of “this is how little I should eat on a diet” is wrong, so they fail at dieting and only succeeding in screwing up their metabolism so that they gain even more weight when they go back to their wrong amount of normal eating.

With all that being said though, intuitively eating “about the right amount” without stressing out about it too much should be your long term goal.

But in my opinion, the best way to develop and hone that intuition is by planning your daily intake to meet a specific and appropriate calorie (and macronutrient) target. Aka by counting calories.