“The only thing to do with good advice is to pass it on. It is never of any use to oneself.”
~ Oscar Wilde
The following exercise presents itself as a fantastic TTP opportunity. One of the things that I hear frequently from folks is that whatever “success” I may have garnered from following my particular diet and exercise regimen has more to do with my specific, favorable genetic makeup, coupled with a freakish determination/willpower and a competitive athletic background (and the accompanying mindset) than to the actual diet/exercise philosophies I operate within. And I concede the fact that there is some validity to that thought — nothing occurs in a vacuum, and I’ve never had to “to come back from the dark side” of diet and fitness, so to speak — however, it is my contention, and firm belief, that anyone can show a significant improvement to body composition with an accompanying overall improvement in health by following my diet and exercise philosophy. And let me say at the onset that I have discovered nothing new here, nor do I claim any inside or secret knowledge. Nothing of the sort. Although the scientific basis behind why a “Paleo-like” diet works has only within the last 50 years or so begun to be brought to light, the end results of following this diet scheme have been know for generations. The same can be said of the constituent parts of my particular exercise philosophy. I’ve uncovered no exercise-related “Dead Sea Scrolls” here; there’s really nothing new under the sun. But the application of these ideas within a hurried, modern lifestyle is — if I have any unique contribution to make — where my success can truly be found.
With that said, allow me to introduce you to my friend, AT22. Take a tour of her blog entries and get a feel for who she is, what her goals are and what she’s up against. What I hope to do is open an ongoing dialog with AT22 — a dialog that we can track via her blog, Journey to Health. From this dialog, maybe we can learn if my diet/exercise philosophies really are as easily transferable to the “everyday layperson” as I contend. Without further ado, here’s AT22’s latest blog post. I’ll post my comments/critiques in red (though I’m not sure if this will be a “post friendly” format or not — I guess we’ll have to see). Our subsequent discussions can be followed at her blog, Journey to Health:
This one is long, but Keith of Theory to Practice – an uberfit and healthy Paleo-diet follower – has kindly agreed to look over my program. The last few weeks have been intense due to the Warp Speed Fat Loss program, thus I’ll give a typical day over the last week and then give the normal routine that I might usually do when not trying to follow the WSFL. (WSFL is over after this week, so I’ll return to the lighter workout schedule)
Up between 5 and 5:30 AM – Make a shake to drink on way to work (7-7:30 AM) (handful spinach, protein powder – one scoop low carb – 18 g protein 100 cals, 3/4 c frozen berries, water, cinnamon, maybe a tsp peanut butter).
Is working out first thing in the morning an option? This would optimize fat-burning, since you’d be exercising in a fasted state. I’ll address meal frequency in the wrap-up. In any event, I’d skip this “meal” in lieu of forcing a prolonged, fasted state. I’ll address the resultant “slowed metabolism” issue in the wrap-up as well.
Real Breakfast around 9 AM – 2/3 c egg whites, 1 whole egg (or 1 oz meat) handful spinach or tomatoes.
I’m sensing a bit of a fat phobia, maybe a cholesterol phobia as well. Eat the entire egg. All of the egg’s nutritional value (save for a slight bit of additional protein) is contained in the yoke. Fat will not contribute to the body’s fat stores (due to, among other things, a blunted insulin response), and cholesterol is not a problem in the bloodstream unless coupled with a chronically high blood sugar/insulin level.
Snack on 1.5 oz nuts throughout morning to keep any hunger away. Also have decaf coffee in AM.
No peanuts, right (because they’re actually legumes)? And move toward unsalted varieties as much as possible. Any particular reason for decaf, i.e., any caffeine sensitivity? Otherwise, plug into the added fat burning promoted by the full-octane stuff.
Lunch around 12 or 1 PM depending on hunger – usually 1 – 1.5 cups of a veggie (generally broccoli or zucchini) and 2.5 oz chicken. I might add 1/2 avocado or 1 c berries.
I like the chicken — just don’t avoid the fat. I’d choose the avocado over the other carb choices, here. Not that the others are bad necessarily (they’re absolutely not), but 80% of winning this “game” is consistently and continually choosing the “best” over the “better” and the “better” over the “so-so”.
Green tea at least once I day. I do add some Splenda.
Green tea is good, though, if I had to nit-pick, I’d say drop the Splenda. Your body can’t tell the difference between a sugar substitute and the real thing. The same negative hormone cascade response will follow the ingestion of Spenda as would occur (and the resultant insulin spike) if you had ingested sugar.
Snack around 3:30 PM – 1/3 c cottage cheese with 1/4 c veggies OR 1 c greek style plain yogurt with 3/4 c berries OR 2 string cheese plus veggies OR 2 boiled eggs with veggies (you get the idea) – this may include dairy but may not.
Again, to nit-pick, I’d drop the dairy. And we have the meal frequency thing to contend with again.
Home around 5:30 PM for workout – have been using 5 g creatine with workouts for last two weeks or so (also with 1/2 scoop protein powder – this is from the WSFL routine).
Creatine works, no doubt. Is it what you need to achieve your particular goals? That’s another question entirely. And an intesting side note about the protein powder — one of the reasons it’s included here is as a shuttling agent (via a heightened insulin response). It also provides some BCAA’s to promote recovery. Now, neither of these responses, in and of themselves are “bad” per se, but again you have to define your goals. Are you wiling to blunt the fat burning promoted by working out in a fasted state, for the immediate benefits of the creatine/protein ingestion prior to an exercise bout? Your body will naturally achieve the same recovery (minus the creatine/protein), though it will take a good 24 hours to do so. This is yet another reason behind my promotion of infrequent (though intense) workouts.
Post workout meal around 7 PM – 1-2 c veggies and 2-3 oz meat (chicken/pork/steak options). If I’m extra hungry I’ll add some yam or squash of some kind.
More fat, less carbs. Give yourself at least an hour, post workout, prior to ingesting anything. This will maximize the resultant GH response prompted by the workout itself.
Might have a piece of dark chocolate. I take 2 fish oil caps per day/Vitamin D/Magnesium. I try to drink at least 32 oz of water a day – I’m working on increasing it.
I’d bump the fish oil intake up to 10 grams per day, at least, split over two, after-meal, doses. This is what I do. Use Carlson’s lemon flavored cod liver oil, 2 tablespoons per day. Drink when prompted by thirst, otherwise, don’t worry about it. Your genotype has had millions of years to develope a quite accurate thirst que.
I’ve listed my workouts here on occasion – the WSFL consists of resistance M-W-F – 3-4 sets of a strength exercise (DL, Squat, or Chest), two back-to-back 10 minute circuits of two exercises (ex: thrusters and chin ups, 6 reps, as many rounds in 10 minutes), 15 minutes of HIIT intervals – it takes about 50 minutes. T-Th-Sa is Cardio – 40-50 minute sessions that start out with about 20 minutes of HIIT and then follow a short low intensity break with 20 minutes of steady state cardio (with a warm up and cool down).
Some of the M-W-F stuff I actually like. I think I’d drop the final 15-minute HIIT interval, though and do a sprint interval session or your “HIIT session” on (in lieu of) the “cardio” days. Become a sprinter, not a distance athlete. Take a look at the Olympic female 100 meter contestants. Now take a look at the 800 meter contestants. The 800 is considered the “sprint” of the distance events, and yet, look at the difference in body types. Now, take a guess as to which group exhibits both a higher fast-twitch muscle fiber make-up and a lower body fat percentage. Just a visual to keep you on the right track.
Before WSFL I was doing the very short AM workouts 4 days a week – either 20-30 minutes of HIIT or 20-30 minutes of circuit exercises, generally a pull/push two exercise circuit with another set of either pull/push or a strength move – or doing this after work taking more like 45 minutes. Pretty high intensity for the 20 or so minutes I had in the AM – partly high intensity and part lower intensity for longer sessions. I also would do at least one longer session on the weekend with more walking/cardio and resistance combined.
And the results are really slim. I actually felt leaner the last few days (until today) – I’m not sure if it was the exercise, less food (the travel to my parents’ and Thanksgiving I did some IF) or the relaxation. Possibly some combination. I was following the WSFL diet – fairly low carb and low-cal – but it didn’t feel right and relied heavily on protein powder and dairy, which I normally don’t go overboard on.
I’m having the most trouble losing the belly fat, but my problem areas are the typical female areas – thighs, hips, and also my arms don’t seem to trim down easily.
TTP: Let me know if you have any questions. I look forward to hearing what you have to say!
My thoughts on AT22’s exercise regimen are basically this: too much “exercise” at too low of an intensity, thereby priming the body to be a slow-twitch dominant (i.e., fuel efficient) machine. I’d say this exercise modality preference stems from a belief in the “energy balance” philosophy of weight control. The fact is, though, that this philosophy simply does not work in the long term. Does it work in the short term? You bet it does — but it cannot be successfully sustained. And this is where the slowed metabolism, fatigue and symptoms of overtraining come into play. AT22 is in that purgatory of what I call being two steps in front of the masses, but one step behind the enlightened. I get the feeling that she knows, intuitively, that there’s something missing from the fat-phobic, energy balance philosophy of diet and fitness. She’s seen it attempted — and she’s attempted it herself — and she believes that the “energy balance philosophy” can work if only she were more diligent in perfecting it. Maybe she believes that it can work if only for a few tweaks here and there. It is my firm contention, however, that a favorable body composition is the result of a favorable gene expression (regardless of inherited genetics) and sustained, favorable hormone cascade/profile — both of which can be manipulated via a proper (Paleo-like) diet and infrequent, high-intensity exercise. I’ve seen it work, I know it works, and I practice it myself.
When AT22 chooses a workout (or, ideally, designs one of her own), her overriding concern should be how to best target her fast-twitch muscle fibers. Go back and look at some of my workouts — the exercise selection, the rep range, the overall workout duration, and, most notably, the absence of any sustained cardio work in any of my workout plans. Even the infrequent “sustained cardio” sessions are actually long bouts of intermittent sprints. So my initial workout suggestion for AT22 would be to look at my basic deadlift/dips/pull-ups routine, use that as a template (scale/adjust as necessary), and perform it 3 to 4 times a week. Sprinkle in some bouts of sprinting, both to mix things up and to help overcome the psychological addiction to the “more is better” doctrine, i.e., when that “gotta do something”, wiggy feeling sets in. In short, prime the body to be fast-twitch dominant. Train like a sprinter, not a distance athlete. The tough thing here is trying to covey what I consider to be true intensity without being there for her workout session. We’ll just have to do the best we can, here.
Diet-wise, my overrall, initial suggestions would be:
(1) drop the frequent eating, and eat only when hungry. Check out this post, as a guide to where you want to eventually get. Of course, you’ll scale the amount, but not the content.
(2) goes hand-in-hand with #1 — you’ve got to add more fat to your diet, and probably more protein. Reduce the carb contribution to your overall calorie intake.
(3) be done with the notion that dietary fat begets bodily fat.
Now this is just an initial scratching of the surface. There’s plenty more to cover and, hopefully, much will be revealed through our back-and-forth dialog. Check back with Journey to Health, often and we’ll see how it goes.