I wanted to create a post that describes my style of coaching, and why I make the decisions, I do with regards to my clients caloric intake, training, and cardio regimens. The description will be useful for current and potential clients alike as well as possibly open the eyes of other coaches to consider some basic principles of metabolism as I continue to see poor diet plans written and horrible fitness advice still at large.
The infamous question. Somehow for some reason, we all think the pounds that took years and years to acquire will melt off in a matter of weeks. We think our progress photos from one week of work will show our dream physiques. Unfortunately, this is not the case.
Depending on the amount of body fat you have to lose, you will lose approximately 0.5- 2 lb per week of body fat. Without overcomplicating things with how one pound of fat is or is not exactly 3500 calories, we are going to use that figure for simplicity sake. To create a deficit of more than 7000 calories is not only difficult to do, but risks shedding lean tissue. The weight we lose while in a caloric deficit is not only fat and the greater the deficit, the more likely you are losing lean mass along with body fat. Most individuals focus too much on a target weight and don’t care what it takes to get there. When they reach their target weight in a crash diet situation, they look soft, flat, and drained. Possibly feeling that they got smaller but they don’t feel like they LOOK any better. The reason for this is that you are sacrificing body composition to see a smaller number on the scale. Preserve the lean mass. Lean muscle is what makes your glutes salute, your tummy taunt and tight, and your legs lean. Lean muscle also helps your metabolic rate so that you can consume more food while maintaining your look.
Another problem with making too large a caloric deficit is the risk of rebound. When you diet, your body fights this process. It will lower its metabolism (burn less per day). When you reach your goal, and you are on fumes- exhausted and starving- you are more likely to binge. Your hormones are haywire, you haven’t had any of your favorite foods, and your body is dying for calories. There is a much higher risk that you will gain the weight you lost back or worse gain even more. And you lost muscle mass to boot. So now you are heavier than you were, with less muscle, with a lower metabolism. All bad.
You don’t need to suffer to attain your body composition goals, but you do need patience. It is scientifically impossible to lose more than a few pounds of body fat per week without diving into muscle. (You could see a much lower number the first week of dieting as you lose some water weight or may see an increase in scale weight if you begin a strength program for the first time.) You do not want to rush these results, you want to enjoy what you are working for, attain the visual results you desire, and most importantly, you want to be healthy while you are doing it. Cutting a ridiculous amount of calories will make you tired, irritable, lower your immune system, negatively affect your sleep patterns, and lower your sex drive… it doesn’t sound like fun does it?
When clients apply for coaching with me they complete an extensive questionnaire. We take a close look at their current eating habits and what those habits are producing. Are they maintaining their weight? Are they gaining? Are they losing? I then calculate based on a number of factors the highest calories possible for them to diet on. Doing this allows for a more comfortable dieting experience and the ability for us to make adjustments as they plateau. We also begin with the least amount of cardio possible. If they have been doing 7 days of two-a-days, we slowly pull that back. You want to keep cards in the deck to use as you progress. Cardio and decreasing calories have to be used sparingly.
I think if I weren’t as ethical as I am, I could satisfy a lot of people by making things look super fancy and adjusting nonstop. This is not something you want. You want consistency, you want someone who can understand the data and how your body is responding and who knows when to hold steady and when to pull the trigger. Lots of things cause a stagnant scale and not all of them mean fat loss has ceased. Often times people will experience what is commonly called a “whoosh”. You are shedding body fat, but those cells fill with water, until the water is released from those cells, you are stuck seeing the same number on the scale. Typically one day you will wake up a few pounds lighter (if you don’t freak out overeat to self-sabotage). Don’t be anxious to make changes, patience prevails. The successful people are not rattled to their cores from weird scale bounces. (Note: if you are one of those people please understand that stressing also causes water retention and will worsen your situation)
I have email check in and correspondence as my preferred method while coaching. Of the Skype consults I have done, 100 percent of them needed information reiterated in an email as they did not retain all of the information given verbally. Having written data, email conversations, and forms to refer to during the process is invaluable and ensures accurate adjustments and ultimately success.
This is another line I have heard more than once. This isn’t a specific diet. I hate when people say they are on a “macro diet”. All foods have macros. No one can NOT be on a macro diet. (Macros is short for macronutrients which are the protein, carbohydrate, and fat grams in food.) You will be free to consume whatever foods you wish. This diet absolutely 100 percent works for everyone barring a medical condition. If your body is not responding and you are a healthy individual or have your diagnosed medical condition(s) under control, you likely need to slowly and carefully increase your calories to rehab your metabolism, take a break from active fat loss, and reproach fat loss in the future. This diet ALWAYS works, it is just a matter of time and patience.
I will tell you one thing- you can spin your wheels on quick fix promises but I assure you that you will eventually be right back where you were so why not put the time in and do it right? You will get the look you desire and have the ability to maintain it so you can enjoy the results for years to come versus a long weekend.
So there you have it. That is how I operate. I don’t rush things, health is at the forefront of my decisions and so is preserving muscle mass. Diet on the highest amount of calories possible, make adjustments only when necessary, enjoy foods you love to preserve your quality of life, use cardio sparingly, and lift some weights. That’s me in a nutshell.