Saturday, March 24, 2012

The Calorie Sneak



A diet does not mean restricting your calories to dangerously low levels.  Eat fewer processed foods and center your diet round whole foods that are in their raw, natural state.  I try for daily 190g of protein, 50g of healthy fats, and 20/30g of starchy carbs.  A drop in carbohydrates with a corresponding increase in protein can often help break through a plateau.  Some people are more sensitive to carbohydrates , making it beneficial to limit this particular macronutrient.  Increasing your protein intake will also have metabolic advantages.


Having 5-6 even 7 or 8 (within your calorie budget) a day can immediately rev up your metabolism.  Every tie you consume calories, you give your metabolism a boost.  These frequent meals will also control your cravings and prevent binges.


When you put your body through extreme calorie deficits, your body will automatically adjust and begin to conserve energy (also known as calories).  Prolonged calorie deficits cause your body's metabolism to plummet and go into starvation mode.  In starvation mode, your body tries to hold onto every calorie possible in order to conserve energy.  Fortunately, using a method called calories cycling, you can trick your body into keeping a high metabolic rate while you're dieting for fat loss.   Calories cycling allows you to eat one to three days of higher calories and higher carbs followed by three days of lower calories and lower carbs.  On these low calorie/low carb days, you lose body fat rapidly.  However, before your body can adapt to these changes and go into starvation mode, you raise the calories back up so that you don't hit a weight loss plateau.  By increasing your calories, you also increase your metabolism and prepare you body to start burning fat again.


When you're working towards fat loss, cardio should be one of the cornerstones of your training.  For optimal results, each session should be a minimum of 30 minutes.  However, if you find yourself hitting a plateau, increase this amount incrementally by five to ten minutes at a time.  It is best not to go beyond 60 minutes in a single workout.  By increasing your cardio time in intervals, you can bust through a fitness plateau and find which session yields the best results.


If you are already performing cardio workouts that last 45-60 minutes and are still looking for ways to increase your results, it's probably time to increase your frequency.  You should always start with at least three days per week of aerobic exercise.  If you find that your routine has hit a plateau or you want to increase your rate of fat loss, begin to add one additional workout per week until you reach six or seven cardio workouts per week.

You can also use a training technique known as double cardio.  Performing cardio twice a day can be used for short periods of time to break through a plateau and get extremely lean.  These two-a-day workouts will provide you with an incredible boost to the metabolism and enormous calories burn.  However, keep in mind that this is not a long-term plan.  It is only used to bust through a plateau or reach a new peak in your fitness level.


To reach a new level of fitness, you may just need to push yourself a little harder.  Increase the intensity of your workout and you will immediately find yourself burning more calories in the same amount of time.  If your heart rate is 120 push it up to 130.  If you've been doing 30 minutes of walking on the treadmill, why not try some jogging or if you were jogging why not run or sprint.  If you've been doing 30 minutes on the elliptical, why not try some high intensity interval training to crank up your workout.  High intensity cardio allows you to push yourself for short bursts and then rest for a short period of time.  The intervals can last from 30 seconds to two minutes.  These type of interval workouts allow you to burn an enormous amount of calories in a relatively short period of time.  Interval training also produces a greater post-exercise effect, burning calories even after the workout is finished. 


If you have been doing the same form of cardio 5 days a week for an entire month, you will likely hit a plateau.  Your body will quickly adjust to any training routine you throw at it.  Once this occurs, you will stop burning as many calories during that particular activity and weight loss will slow down or possibly even come to a screeching halt.  Fortunately, there are simple solutions to this problem.  The key is to add some variety to your workout routines.  Try some kickboxing, jump-roping, circuit training, or even swimming.  If you're looking to enjoy the outdoors, running, biking, and even roller-blading are all great choices.  In fact, why not sign up for a boot camp class at your local gym.  This is one of the latest fitness trends that is becoming extremely popular and can add lots of variety and excitement to your workout routine.  If your weight training is going kind of stale, why not incorporate some kettebell training or some heavy bag work.  You can also change the exercises you do for each body part, use different set/rep schemes, change the tempo, use shorter rest intervals, or even change up your grip or stance width.  Even subtle changes can make a difference and activate new muscles.


Keep in mind that there comes a point when you could be over-training.  If you've been doing high intensity cardio 6 days per week and weight training for 4 days per week, you could easily go into burnout mode.  Remember, muscles grow while they are at rest.  You should be taking at least one day off each week.  When you find yourself completely flushed, you may want to take off for a complete week.  This rest period will allow you to come back twice as strong and make even further gains.  Always keep the body guessing.  By adding variety to your workout routines, you will begin to strengthen many more muscles and are much less likely to develop week points.


Throughout your training, it is crucial to track all of your progress.  BLOG about it like me!  Keep a weekly journal of your total body weight, body fat percentage, and lean body mass.  Take bi weekly to monthly pictures and body measurements of yourself and have someone certified to take your body fat measurements.  Otherwise, you will never know what works.  To be successful in all of your goals, you must know where you are, where you want to be, and how to get there.  Along the way; you are sure to run into plateaus and possibly even a few problems.  However, if you are tracking your progress, you'll always know how your body is responding to your training.  Any time you find yourself off course, you can simply adjust your approach and revise your plan.  Everyone is different, find out what works for you!


Tomorrow I'll share what I'll be doing the next couple of months.  There will be hill work, speed runs, Super Circuits, a long run, heavy lifting and of course NUTTER!


  1. Awesome post! I found you through and this is exactly what I needed to read! My question is, how in the world do you manage to eat 20/30grams of carbs each day? I am for appx 170g protein, ~65g of fat and less than 100g of carbs... and thats when I really make an effort. How do you do it to cut it down that drastically??

    Thanks for an awesome blog! :)


  2. Susan: 20/30g of starchy carbs. Vegetables don't count unless they are a potato!

    Check these recipes out:

    You can order online: protein bars by EAS that have low carbs.

    Make vegetable wraps with low carb tortilla and scrambled egg whites=10g

    You can do it!