Category Archives for "Flexible Dieting 101"

The Flexible Dieter’s Guide To Intermittent Fasting

Have you ever had those days where you were so busy or life was just so crazy that before you knew it, it was 5pm and you had yet to eat anything!? 

You then proceeded to eat all of your macros from 5pm till you went to bed that night. It was pretty awesome right!? Straight feast! 

Well by doing this, you inadvertently practiced a dietary strategy known as "Intermittent Fasting." 

And more than likely if you clicked on this guide, you have heard of Intermittent Fasting before and are looking to learn more on how to maximize it so you can reach your goals!

In this guide I will be covering:

  1. What is Intermittent Fasting?
  2. Popular Intermittent Fasting Protocols
  3. Why Your Muscle and Metabolism will be just fine
  4. Why Your Hunger is Lying to you
  5. What Really Matters
  6. Creating Your Intermittent Fasting Strategy
  7. My Full Day of Intermittent Fasting
  8. Early Morning Training
  9. Intermittent Fasting Done Wrong

1. Intermittent Fasting:

So what exactly does this mean!?

Simply put, Intermittent Fasting is an eating strategy, not a diet. You are simply timing your meals to where you are fasting for a certain period of time and then feasting for certain period of time. 

We all do some type of intermittent fasting every single day. We eat in a certain window of time (usually the hours when we are awake) then fast while we sleep until we have our first meal the next day.

  • ​So if you are eating your last meal at 8pm and not eating breakfast until 8am the next morning, then you are doing a 12 hour fast between meals! Bet you never really thought of this!

Our bodies are super duper smart and we tend to underestimate their abilities to adapt to the circumstances that we put on them.

To paint the picture, think of back when our ancestors, those beautiful cavemen and cavewomen, were roaming the fields looking ​for their next meal. They only ate what they killed and did not have the luxury of going to a local supermarket when they needed food.

Our bodies operate differently during times of "fasting" and times of "feasting."

  • ​When "feasting" our bodies have a regular supply of food and do not need to rely on stored energy.
  • When "fasting" our bodies do not have readily available energy sources so it has to mobilize energy stored in our bodies like glycogen and body fat.

2. Popular Intermittent Fasting Strategies

  • The Warrior Diet which is a 20 hour fast and a 4 hours eating window. So that would be fasting between 8pm-4pm the next day and then eating from 4pm-8pm
  • The LeanGains approach is more a modest approach of a 16 hour fasting window followed by an 8 hour eating window. This would look like fasting from 8pm to 12pm the next day and eating from 12pm-8pm.

3. Fasting & Your Metabolism

I know you must be thinking, "But Zach, if I fast for 16-20 hours, what will happen to my metabolism! Shouldn't I be eating every 2-3 hours in order to keep my metabolism going!? Gotta fuel the fire!"

​The theory goes that if you eat small meals all day long, you are fueling your metabolism thus you will burn more calories that way! You "Bro Science Alarm" shouldn't going off right now!

Let go into why this metabolism humbo jumbo is just not the case.

  • ​Whether you eat 2500 calories spread throughout the day or 2500 calories in a small eating window, your body will burn the same amount of calories processing that food.
  • This is called the Thermic Effect of Food (TEF)
    • When we ingest a certain amount of calories, our bodies will burn about 10% of the size of the meal in calories digesting it.
    • So if I eat a meal that is 500 calories, then my body will burn 50 calories processing that meal.
    • And if I eat a meal that is 2000 calories, my body will burn 200 calories digesting that meal.
    • So if I eat 4 individual meals of 500 calories each, I will burn 50 calories each meal. So that is 50 x 4 = 200 calories of TEF
    • So your TEF is the same for the four smalls meals as it would be for the one huge meal of 2000 calories! 

4. But What About My Muscle!?!?

Am I going to lose all my hard earned gainzzzz!?​

The short answer is absolutely not! For 99% of the population who is just looking to lean up, look great naked, and lead a healthy life, then this passage is something you really don't need to stress over!

For the 1% who are looking to compete at the high levels and want to maximize every single facet of putting on muscle mass, then this is something you'll want to take into account. 

Dr. Layne Norton and his lab have found that in order to optimize something called Muscle Protein Synthesis (simply the removing of damaged proteins and building of new ones stronger than the ones before), we need to be consuming protein more than just one time a day. 

So spreading your protein intake out for 3-4 different feeding throughout the day would be best for maximizing this muscle protein synthesis. Not going to cover this too much but look at the example of my day later in the post to get an idea of how I navigate this.

5. Hunger Signals

Won't I be starving while fasting!? 

I know for some of you, fasting seems impossible because you wake up every morning with this crazy hunger that you think will kill you if you don't eat something!

Lol

Well let me tell you that this is something that is more​ related to what you body is used to rather than you actually being hungry. Studies have not conclusively shown that whether or not eating more or less frequently is better or not for hunger but what they have shown is that the bodies seems to adapt to the meal frequency is it most accustomed to.

So for example, if you are eating 6 meals per day started at 8am and eating every 2-3 hours, your body will naturally out of habit, become accusomted to this eating pattern and your hunger will coincide with that.

But if you are used to skipping breakfast and eating 2-3 larger meals in a smaller eating window, then your bodies hunger will fall in line with that as well.

So if you are someone who thinks you need to eat breakfast because you are soo unbelievably hungry, know that this is more because of your bodies hunger habits rather than you being actually hungry.

I used to struggle with this but I use a few strategies to help with this morning hunger:

  1. Drinking a 20oz glass of room temperature water immediately upon waking up in the morning.
  2. Drinking another 20oz of water combined with 10g of BCAAs (go into more detail on BCAAs in supplement post linked) to help curb that hunger.
  3. Then having my coffee which has caffeine which acts as a appetite suppressor.
  4. Staying busy and keeping my mind off food! My mornings are my most busy times of the day as you will see later in the post when I walk you through my IF protocol. 

6. What Really Matters

After reading everything I've covered so far, I want to remind you of the two factors that are most important in regards to body weight and body composition.

1. Calories In vs. Calories Out determine whether you lose or gain weight

  • If you eat more than you burn then you will gain weight
  • If you eat less than what you burn then you will lose weight

2. Macronutrient Ratios are what determine our body composition

  • ​If we hit our macros for the day, then we hit our calories for the day.
  • Our most important goal is to hit your macronutrient goals for the day.

Never forget that these are the most important factors and Intermittent Fasting is a strategy to help you hit those goals for the day.

I do not want you to think of one fasting schedule being better than another. It doesn't matter if you are doing a 12 hour fast or a 16 hour fast. What truly matters is what you can do in the long term. And that means a intermittent fasting protocol that fits your lifestyle so you can consistently hit your macros and your training hard while living the life you desire! 

7. Creating Your Intermittent Fasting Strategy!​

Is Intermittent Fasting right for you?

Well you should know the answer to this question is yes in all cases! Why is that!? Because as I outlined earlier in the post that we all do some form of intermittent fasting every single day!

Things to ask yourself when figuring out your "Fasting" and "Feasting" time frames:

  1. What would fit my lifestyle the best?
  2. Do I like big meals or small meals?
  3. Am I trying to lose or gain weight?
    • If you are trying to gain weight, I would advise to not fast as long because it will become much more difficult to get it enough calories in throughout the day to support that weight gain. Not saying you cannot make it happen!

Best way to start is just by skipping breakfast and having you first meal at lunchtime!

8. My Intermittent Fasting Strategy:

So let me take you through a full day of eating to help you see how I use intermittent fasting while cutting.

  • ​I wake up at 5:45am, heat up water to brew my coffee in my french press, drink a tall glass of water that has been heated up for room temp in microwave
  • I then make my 20oz glass of water with 5-7g of BCAAs to help with curb my hunger and make sure I have some amino acids in my system especially while deep into my cut.
  • I then head to GPA (my personal/sports performance gym I own) or any business meeting I have to go to.
  • Then after all my morning sessions at the gym, I am heading home around 11:30am to go have my first meal.
  • This first meal comes around 12pm which is about 700-800 calories composed of around 60-70g protein, 10-15g fat and 70-80g carbs.
  • I workout around 2 and end around 3:30-4pm and then start my afternoon sessions until 7-8pm that night.
  • So I then have around 5pm a standard sized protein bar and a couple pieces of fruit like an apple or banana. I am home and start cooking dinner and eat around 8:30pm.
  • This meal is around 800-900 calories and a macro friendly dessert around 200 calories 🙂 This is my biggest meal of the day.
  • I then go to bed at 10:30-11:00pm and repeat this all over again!

All my calories and water in for the day ab check 🙂

What if I train in the morning?

I would simply just take 10g of BCAAs pre workout to ensure I have some circulating amino acids to keep muscle protein synthesis stimulated. And if I have to prolong my fast after training for another couple hours, I will ingest another 10g of BCAAs just to be safe and keep that muscle protein synthesis stimulated till my first meal.

9. If It Fits Your Lifestyle

Remember our goal with all this information is to mold nutrition to where it helps up live the lifestyle we desire. ​

As you can see, my nutrition complements my lifestyle. I use my nutrition as a tool to live the lifestyle I want to live rather than other way around.

This is applicable to doctors, construction workers, hair stylists, athletes, stay at home moms, college students, and literally everyone in the world! The best diet is the one you can stick to so by figuring out an intermittent fasting protocol that fits your life perfectly, it will help support you reaching and keeping the results you desire!

10. Intermittent Fasting Done Wrong

One thing I see a lot now is utilizing Intermittent Fasting in a way that allows someone to have a full out binge. 

For example, there are strategies where someone fasts for 22-23 hours and then eats all their calories in a 1-2 hour window. This more time than not is just a glorified binge. I'm not saying this is a terrible approach but most times this is just to facilitate a binging habit. 

I am not one to promote or support disordered eating so I just wanted to point that out because it is very prevalent in the IF community. Yes it's ok every once in a while to do this but do not make a habit of it because you most definitely run the risk of developing a disordered eating pattern or negative relationship with food.

What you learned today

  1. Intermittent Fasting is not a diet but is simply a "feasting/fasting" strategy.
  2. Your metabolism will not slow down from infrequent feedings.
  3. Hunger is more from habits rather than actual hunger.
  4. Hitting your macro goals for the day is the most important factor.
  5. By molding your intermittent fasting approach around your lifestyle, you can consistently hit your macros thus causing long term/lasting results.

What is your Intermittent Fasting Strategy!?

Let me know in the comments below what you IF strategy currently is and/or what it will be in the future! 

Also, please share this post with anyone you know needs to start using IF to help them reach their goals!

Lastly, thank you so much for reading and hope this helped tremendously!

​Thanks and God Bless,

Zach​

Lyle McDonald Interview: Flexible Dieting

Today I am so lucky to bring you an exclusive interview with the one and only Lyle McDonald! Lyle is a physiologist and author who is one of the top thought leaders in the fields of nutrition, fat loss and muscle growth. He has spent the past decade plus obsessively dissecting the latest research in order to bring the world unbiased information that they apply right away! His site BodyRecomposition.com is his platform where he has hundred of amazing pieces of content using an evidence based approach to provide everything you need to know on the most important topics in this all encompassing health field.

And for those of you wondering, Lyle is arguably the creator of the phrase and dieting philosophy we all know as Flexible Dieting! He created his book, The Guide To Flexible Dieting all the way back in 2005! That's crazy… We will touch on how much crap he got for writing this book in the interview. 

Nonetheless, this is a value bomb loaded interview so dive into the material and be ready to learn a ton!

Lets get it started!

The Interview​:

Me: Lyle! How are you doing my friend! Hope all is well!

Lyle: I'm doing well Zach! Looking forward to the interview.

Me: Ok lets get it started then!

Question #1: ​From my research, you were the first person to popularize the eating strategy known as flexible dieting when you published, A Guide To Flexible Dieting all the way back in 2005 which helped spur the movement which is not in full force. Since my readers are all either just now learning about flexible dieting or are currently flexible dieters but still want to learn more, what 3 tips would you tell them that would help the most to maximize their success along this journey.

Lyle: I actually think you're correct, at least in terms of talking about it in any sort of formalized way or outside of the research. At the risk of being a little bit ranty, I wrote that book in 2005 and it went more or less ignored. Now in 2015, nobody can talk about anything else with endless "Guides to Flexible Dieting" and at least one case of apparent plagiarism where someone claimed to have pioneered the idea. Sorry, no. 

​I'm not sure I can actually come up with three tips about flexible dieting but I might go with this. First realize that taking a flexible approach to dieting does not mean eating whatever and whenever you want. If your goal is fat loss or even health, being flexible (as opposed to rigid) simply means not taking the typical black/white, either/or, good/bad approach to dieting.

​People think in terms of foods as either diet or non-diet, good or bad and that's a rigid approach. Adoption of flexible dieting attitudes, that is realizing that a single deviation from the diet doesn't mean that you're a failure or that the diet has failed, and that almost any food, within limits, can be included on a diet is the key to flexible dieting.

​A second important tip is to realize that, no matter how rabid a lot of people are about flexible dieting, it's not perfect for everyone. Dieting takes practice and folks who are often in the early stages of flexible dieting often find that a given flexible strategy throws them off the rails or doesn't work for them. In that case, use it as a learning experience.

​No approach is optimal for everyone and people tend to see any mistake as a failure in themselves. I'd say try any specific flexible dieting strategy three times, making adjustments based on whatever went "wrong" the first or second time and if it's still not working, abandon it. A little ways down the road, when new habits have become more entrenched, they can be tried again.

Question #2: ​I love flexible dieting because it allows you to not only individualize your diet based on your needs but also allows you to model your diet around your current lifestyle. The best diet is the one you can see yourself doing for the rest of your life. Would love you to hear your thoughts on most restriction diets and why flexible dieting is superior?

Lyle: ​I'll assume you mean dietary approaches that go from "This food is bad, NEVER eat it again." It's just human psychology why this tends not to work. Knowing you can't have something makes you want it more. It also promotes the type of diet/non-diet food approach. Certain foods are what you eat on a diet and others are what you eat off a diet and this is a bad way to conceive of the process. Any fat loss diet should include foods and components that allow and promote long-term maintenance.

​This type of "this food is bad" also promotes the same type of black/white rigid thinking that is the problem. It makes foods good or bad (often in a moral sense) and that's just an absurd way to approach it. There is also the concept of never. It's one thing for me to tell someone to wait 12 weeks (to establish habits) and then work on including previously problematic foods into their diet. But NEVER, who can survive with that approach.

​Flexible dieting of varying types avoids all of this. Eve knowing that, on occasion, in controlled manners that you can eat some food takes away the psychological stress from it. Never turns into sometimes or occasionally and that's much easier to deal with in both the short and long term.

Question #3: ​On the topic of lifestyle, I work with a lot of entrepreneurs who want to adopt flexible dieting into their lifestyles. What do you think about flexible dieting for the busy entrepreneur?

Lyle: ​I don't see why the concept would be any more or less relevant for any specific situation but in this, I could see it being potentially more useful. Many entrepreneurs, factually, do a lot of business over food or drinks. It's just part of the job. And being a pain in the ass about what you can and cannot eat or taking a client out for drinks and then saying "I can't have a drink as I'm dieting" is not a good way to facilitate those types of relationships.

Flexible dieting at least gives the potential to allow and plan for that. Schedule a free meal for that meeting, make adjustments at other times of the day to allow for it's inclusion without derailing things in the long-term. You get the idea.

Question #4: ​An awesome benefit to flexible dieting is the idea of discretionary calories. It is the idea that if I hit my macros, fiber, and micronutrients, I can have foods like ice cream, cookies, and any other foods that most people classify as "dirty." What do you think about this and whether there is any added benefit to going to 100% "clean" rather than fitting in these discretionary calories?

Lyle: ​One of the concepts that is relatively new and was not in my book is the IIFYM movement or If It Fits Your Macros. While this idea has been perverted in both directions, it basically came out of a reaction to the idea that the ONLY way to get lean is to eat CLEAN 100% of the time. Frankly, clean eating represents one of the most rigid approaches to dieting out there. Even the name alone, some foods are clean (morally) and others are unclean (morally). Eat clean foods and you are morally good, let even the tiniest bit of an unclean food cross your lips and you're not.

​At the same time, for people just starting out, IIFYM can cause more problems than it solves. Taste buds take time to adjust and while the IIFYMers are fairly rabid that everyone should be doing IIFYM, it simply doesn't work for everybody. It's one of those strategies that still requires control and some people get thrown off their diet with it. As above, try it a few times, if it doesn't work, drop it. Dieting should always be a learning experience.

Question #5: Another big problem that many people encounter on their fat loss journeys is whether to cut calories significantly and try to lose weight fast or to make a small deficit and have a longer weight loss period. Would love your thoughts on both of those approaches and the pros and cons of each.

Lyle: ​Depends on the situation. Contrary to popular belief, the idea that big deficits always fail more is untrue; more rapid weight loss actually predicts better long-term success. There are probably a few reasons but even that is only conditionally true. Diets based around shakes, prepackaged foods, etc. do nothing to reteach good eating habits.

​It goes back to their being diet foods and non-diet foods. Rather, extremely low calorie diets based around whole foods, exercise and behavior change are what show better long-term success. Because they focus on a diet that is based around whole foods, exercise has it's major role for most in weight-loss maintenance and long-term behavior change is the key.

​My own Rapid Fat Loss Handbook, a "crash" diet, is set up like this; it's based around whole foods (protein, veggies, essential fatty acids) so that when the diet is over maintenance means adding foods back to that base, rather than switching to a completely different set of foods.

Now many have argued, and there is probably much truth to this, that smaller changes are more likely to be sustainable and lead to long term habits. I don't disagree with this but consider someone with a hundred pounds to lose. A small change, unless it represents something pretty egregious is not going to generate weight or fat loss at any reasonable rate and this person is just as likely to become discouraged as anything else.

​A decent compromise here, for the obese, is to use an extreme diet right off the bat to get some nice short-term weight and fat loss (which is psychologically rewarding) before moving into a more moderate fat loss diet in the long run. In contrast, for a lean dieter trying to get very lean, extreme diets, unless they are very short can cause problems with exercise performance and such. But there's also not as much fat to lose.

So it's a matter of context and both approaches have their place so long as they are properly implemented.

Question #6: ​So would you say that the more body fat you have, the higher your dietary fat should be? and vice versa for the leaner you are, the more carbs you can consume? And some thoughts on improving nutrient partitioning and how you can earn more carbs?

​Lyle: Generally speaking, yes. There is a generally good correlation between increasing body fat and insulin resistance; it's not universal mind you and you can find individuals at higher levels of body fat who show completely normal insulin sensitivity.

​But in the first group, moderating carbohydrate intake and raising dietary fat can help avoid major blood sugar swings; there is also research suggesting that the obese respond differently to the fullness signals from the stomach than lean people do. I know that studies show that eating low glycemic index (GI) and lower glycemic load (GL) diets work for this too but, realistically, these aren't the foods that most people eat in the real world. It's usually just easier to lower carbohydrates and be done with it.

​In general, there is a relationship between leanness and insulin sensitivity although it isn't universal. Some lean people are insulin resistant too. By far and away the single aspect we can control to improve insulin sensitivity and carbohydrate tolerance (for lack of a better word) is training. And it has to be higher intensity training such as weight training. This improves muscular insulin sensitivity, depletes muscle glycogen (enhancing fat burning) which gives a bigger "sink" for incoming carbohydrates.

Question #7: ​If you have a client who says they are maintaining their bodyweight on 1000 calories and wants to lose body fat, what would your approach be with their diet?

​Lyle: Tell them to track their diet because factually this is not happening unless they weigh 100 lbs. No study in the history of ever, outside of some severe disease states, has found someone with that low of a metabolic rate for maintenance unless they are absolutely tiny. In all cases, they are mistracking their food intake and that 1000 calories is really 2000 calories.

​Question #8: You have a lot of information out there on helping people get rid of their stubborn body fat. Would love your thoughts on the idea that you cannot spot reduce body fat and that you just need to be in a caloric deficit for long enough to mobilize that stubborn body fat.

Lyle: Spot reduction is impossible. The idea that working a given muscle can burn off the fat on top of is it simply incorrect as there is no direct pathway from the fat on top of a muscle to that muscle. Body fat has to be mobilized into the bloodstream, under hormonal control, where it floats around until it gets burned (by the heart, muscle, liver or whatever) or gets stored again.

​There was a recent study, actually, that almost offered a justification for spot reduction. It used something like 30 minutes of leg activity and for some reason, probably a local hormonal response some fat was mobilized. But it was in the mg range, it would have taken like a year to mobilize even a single pound of fat that way. Do 5 minutes of proper weight training and 25 minutes of aerobic activity and you've done more for fat loss than any 30 minute glute class.

​So far as stubborn body fat, for men it's usually just a matter of patience since abdominal and low-back fat is not as stubborn to get rid. Certainly there are strategies to help it along but the issue is that most men don't realize how lean they have to really get to lose it. Sub 10% is going to be required and most men just give up.

Women's lower body-fat is a whole different thing as it is profoundly stubborn to mobilization. It's the last to come off and sometimes still doesn't. There are various diet, supplement and training strategies that can be used to help with this. The physiology behind all of this along with strategies to deal with it are all detailed in my Stubborn Fat Solution.

Question #9: I am a huge proponent of making lean gains and staying in a small surplus in order to minimize fat gain while gaining lean muscle mass. What is your recommendation on how big of a surplus to be in order to optimally make lean gains?

Lyle: Depends on training status. A beginner can gain faster and handle a larger surplus, though it never has to be huge, than someone who is well trained. You might start a beginner with a 15-20% deficit, setting a goal of maybe 2 lb/month weight gain and an advanced person might use no more than 10% surplus (a few hundred calories) to start.

Question #10: ​Lastly, I wanted to get your take on low intensity cardio like walking in order to burn extra calories without beating you up and taking away from your training. I like to walk between 10,000-12,000 steps a day so I can eat more food to support my training. Would love your thoughts on this and if you think this is a good strategy.

Lyle: Despite a lot of nonsense that is being written about how cardio is ineffective (or at the idiot extreme, "makes" you fat), it's been used for decades to get lean when combined with proper weight training and a diet. It's easy to recover from, can be done daily and while it may not burn a lot of calories acutely, it adds up. Burn 300 calories from extra walking daily and that's 2100 calories/week. Nearly 2/3 a pound of fat (not exactly) from an activity that won't impair recovery.

​The fascination with interval training is a mistaken one. Yes, it's time effective, yes it generated nice fitness gains. It's also very high intensity, exhausting if it's done properly and can't (or shouldn't) be done daily. Yes, a combination of low-intensity work with the occasional interval session is great on a diet. Some can't even recover from that. Since a lot of people who are dieting want to do some type of activity daily, you have to pick one that can actually be done every day. Low intensity fits that description, interval training does not.



















Me: Well Lyle, that is all I have for ya today! I just wanted to say thanks again for being so generous with your time and the amazing answer you provided us today. You are someone I look up to and am truly honored to be able to share this interview with the readers! Wish you nothing but the best my friend!

Lyle: I enjoyed it! Keep up the great work and providing amazing content. I love to see young, go getters who want to make a difference in this field so I was more than happy to do this for ya! Talk to ya soon!

Homework Time!

Make sure to check out Lyle's site Bodyrecomposition.com! His site is a endless gold mine of amazing information so you'll be smart to go check it out if you enjoyed this interview!

And if you have yet to join the Flexible Dieting 101 FREE Course below, then make sure to join so you can be on the fast track to Flexible Dieting Mastery! 

Flexible Dieters Guide To Supplements: What You Need & What You Don’t

The Golden Ticket of #Gainz!

​Imagine if you were Charlie and you just found the golden ticket. But in this story, the ticket gets you access to that all in one perfect supplement that builds muscle and spot reduces body fat while giving us the leeway to eat all the food we wanted! And exercise/training is optional! 

And imagine that you get this golden ticket and you are given this glorious supplement! How exciting! So you gather up all the foods you love in various amounts, get your next season of your favorite shows ready to watch and you sit on the couch waiting for the #gainz to start a comin!

You do this routine for a couple weeks​ and notice some significant gains but they were not the gains you expected! You are doing the opposite of what you were told the supplement was going to do! You are gaining body fat, not gaining any muscle and have no leeway to eat all the foods you wanted! What the heck!

In our health and fitness journey's, we've all been at this point. We got a supplement or 2 or 10 that we thought would be that miracle cure ​but were let down time after time! I mean I think we all have seen these ads (to the right) every time we go anywhere on the internet! 

So you might be thinking, "So Zach, do you not take any supplements!? Are they all scams!?" ​

​In all honesty, I believe supplements do play a very important role in our health and performance! But we all need to realize that they are a called "supplements" for a reason. They are simply meant to supplement your nutrition and training. We need to understand that our training and nutrition give us the most benefits but an individualized supplement plan can take them to the next level! 

And so today I wanted to dive into how to create a highly individualized supplement program that is perfect for YOU!

In this guide, I am going to go over

  • The Hierarchy of Importance
  • Why Supplementation should be individualized
  • My Supplement Stack
  • How to Create Your Own Individualized Supplement Plan

The Hierarchy of Importance

I am going to be honest from the very beginning. Supplements on the magnitude scale do not rank very high because as their name suggests, they are "supplements." They are simply meant to supplement our training and nutrition to fill in any gaps that have been left unfilled. 

But……as we know, anything small can turn into something really big over time!

The Compound Effect​:

I recently read Darren Hardy's (Founder of Success Magazine) ​book The Compound Effect where he outlined the simple but overlooked principle that we are simply the result of many small habits/actions we have made or not made over the span of our lives. He used an amazing example to convey this message by showing the power of a single penny.

Without going into the whole story, he simply asked you to choose between two options:

  • Take $1 million dollars today.
  • Take 1 measly penny that doubles every day for the next 31 days.

So what if you choose the penny? Well after 1 week, you'd have an embarrassing $0.64 and after 2 weeks you'd have $81.92. At this point you are thinking, "Why the heck would you choose the penny!?" But be patient and watch the compounding do its magic. After 3 weeks and only 1 week away from your compounding coming to an end, you would still only have $10,485.76. But with the principle of compounding, you are building up the momentum to cause a true breakthrough and at the 30 day mark, you would have $5,368,709.12! Holy moly! 

In todays society, we want that miracle supplement so that would be like taking that $1 million right away! We want to feel something right away that makes us 1 million times better! But as you can see from this example, that not really how it works. So this example was to paint the picture that a supplement that can give you a 3-5% benefit seems small in the beginning but when compounded over a lifetime, can make a world of a difference!

But remember this doesnt compound over time like it does if we don't have the other more important parts of our diet in line! Remember where this falls on the hierarchy of importance.​

​What Are Your Goals

When thinking about creating your own individualized supplement stack, you need to first look at your goals and whether these supplements will supports those goals. 

For most people, your goals are to:

  • Look great naked
  • Gain Strength
  • Improve overall health
  • Feel Great
  • Slow that darn aging process
  • And lets be honest, it always comes back to looking good naked!

​Ok I'll be honest, I was just describing myself so I guess it would be beneficial if I just go over my supplement stack and make individual recommendations for specific cases. Sound good!?

More is not always better….. 

We live in a society where more is often seen as better. The same can be said when looking at how we take supplements. We think by taking every vitamin in our pantry that we've accumulated over the years along with a new multi vitamin​ and any other supplement we can get your hands on we should take. I'm here to say STOP!! 

Why is more not better!? Why not bomb ourselves with all these vitamins and minerals!?​ Well there is a process in our bodies that is going on every time we take these direct antioxidants (vitamins and minerals) to where when we have too many of each one (the cup is overflowing) they are oxidize and become pro-oxidant. This is really really bad…. 

​Let me use an example that will paint the picture. Think of when you bought some fruit or veggies that you forgot about in your fridge. When you first bought them, they were nice and fresh. But low and behold, one day you wake up and there is this ungodly smell coming from your fridge. They have gone bad and they are stinking up your whole house and attracting bugs from all over the neighborhood. I want you to think of this same process going on in your body when you are bombing yourself with all these direct antioxidants you do not need! You are probably doing more bad than good! 

Wait Zach, What About Multi-Vitamins!?​

​I am by all means not saying mutii-vitamins are bad but throwing 100% RDA doesn't necessarily mean that you have the optimal levels of dosage. The RDA recommends levels of 400-800IU for Vitamin D when the optimal levels are actually between 2,000-5,000IU daily. And there are many micronutrients that you already get a ton of in your diet that you don't need more of and run the risk of them become pro-oxidant like I described above. We definitely do not want that. ​

So by creating an individualized approach with specific vitamins and minerals that you are deficient in, you can take what you need and not what you don't. That where this approach is way superior to the generic multi-vitamin one.​

So keep that in mind when reading this post and ask yourself if each one of my recommendations will help you reach your goals! 

Disclosure: Please not that some of the link below are affiliate links, and at no additional cost to you, I will earn a commission if you decide to make a purchase. Please understand that I have experience with all of these companies and there supplements, and I recommend them because they are highly effective for me, not because of the small commissions I make if you decide to buy something. Please do not spend your money on these products unless you feel you need them or they will help you achieve your goals.

My Supplement Stack

1. Nrf2 Activator

You probably just read "Nrf2 Activator" and were like, "what the heck is that!?" Well I was the same way until I did my research and realized that this was arguably the most important supplement I could be putting into my body. My Nrf2 Activator of choice is Protandim. This is by far your best option because of the immense peer reviewed research on the product, not just the ingredients in it. 

Why it's import​ant:

Protandim is known as a "Nrf2 Activator" which in it's simplest terms just gets your body to start producing antioxidants on its own rather than having to rely on getting them from external sources like our blueberries/strawberries, vitamin c, walnuts and many more. Washington State University just published a peer reviewed published study where they stated that Nrf2 activation has the potential to become "the most extraordinary therapeutic and most extraordinary preventative breakthrough in the history of medicine."  

This is significant because up until we are around 20 years old, our Nrf2 pathway is firing like crazy and thus we are in a constant state of growth. We are winning the war against the free radicals (bad guys) and this is because we have plenty of antioxidant enzymes (good guys) being produced to create enough antioxidants to ward them off. But once we hit that 20 year old threshold, this pathway starts to slow down and thus we begin to lose the war. This disparity where the free radicals start to outnumber the antioxidant enzymes is known as Oxidative Stress.

This phrase will be mainstream news here in the coming months so I want my readers to be the first to hear about it. I want you to think of oxidative stress as the factory that is significantly contributing to the production of most of the bad things in your body to happen like cancer, disease, inflammation and aging. 

What's in it?​

  • ​Milk Thistle Extrac (225mg)
  • Tumeric Extract (75mg)
  • Green Tea Extract (75mg)
  • Bacopa Extract (150mg)
  • Ashwagandha Root (150mg)

​How Does It Work

When you read out the ingredient list, a thought might arise, "well I already take a couple of those so I should be fine." Well that's a perfectly valid thought but I want you to think of this as if you were baking a cake. These 5 ingredients are specifically formulated in these amounts to cause an up regulation of ​the Nrf2 pathways in our bodies. When taken separately, you do not get that Nrf2 activation that you would when taken together in those specific amounts.  Just like when baking a cake, if you just throw the ingredients together in random amounts, you will not get a cake. Click here to watch a video that explains Nrf2 really well if you'd like to learn more about it. I highly recommend watching it.

How To Take It​:

​I take 1 Protandim per day with my biggest meal to ensure absorption.

Where do I get Protandim?​

You can get Protandim here through this link right here.

2. Vitamin D3

Why it's Important:​

​Vitamin D3 is one of the 24 essential micronutrients that are critical for our human survival. We are meant to get most of our Vitamin D3 from the UV rays of the sun but in todays modern society, it is very difficult to reach these sufficient levels even if you live by the equator. Supplementation with Vitamin D3 is associated with a laundry list of benefits that is growing by the day. This list includes:

  • ​Immune health
  • Bone health
  • Increased cognition
  • Decreased risk of heart disease, diabetes, cancer and multiple sclerosis

Can I get enough from food or from the sun?

​The Sun

Vitamin D is not really a "true" vitamin because we really don't need food to get it. Natural sunlight allows our body to create this Vitamin D. But like I said above, it is very difficult to get enough of it because of our modernized society where we where we wear clothes (adam and eve messing things up by eating that darn fruit) and drive in cars with windows that block virtually all UVB. Same goes with sunscreen in which the bare minimum of SPF 15 will decrease the amount of vitamin D made in the body by about 99%! 

Food​

Vitamin D is extremely rare in foods. I am not going to go into too much detail on this but just know that vitamin D is truly the sunlight vitamin. This graphic below shows the very little variety we have in vitamin D containing foods and that they only contain minimal amounts of this essential vitamin.

Should you take it?

Absolutely. You could get tested to see where your Vitamin D3 levels are by your doctor asking for a 25(OH)D test. Make sure to ask for this specific test because there are others that have similar names but this is the only one that will tell you if you are getting enough Vitamin D3. For me personally, I have "sufficient" levels of vitamin ​with my test stating that I was at 52 ng/ml. The Vitamin D Council suggest you aim for that ideal level to aim for be 50 ng/ml. 

Do you need to get tested? Probably not. I'm just OCD like that! But one thing I know for sure is that you should be taking this daily to make sure your Vitamin D3 levels are or stay at that healthy range.

How much do I take?

The Vitamin D Council recommends that adults take 5,000 IUs per day. That is personally what I have been taking for the past couple years. 

We live in a society where more is seen as better but when you are taking your Vitamin D3 do not take more than 10,000 IUs. After this threshold, research has shown that it becomes toxic in the body​

When do you take it?​

Vitamin D3 is a fat soluble molecule, which simply means that the fatty acids serve as its transport. Just think Vitamin D3 is so big time just like the Fresh Prince of Bellair and has Jeffrey as his own chauffeur to take him to where all the beautiful women were! 

So you will want to take your vitamin D3 with either a meal containing some dietary fat or with your daily supplementation of fish oil which is next up on the list! 

What Vitamin D3 supplement do I use?​

I personally use Vita Optimum Vitamin D3 5000 IU. It is a very high quality choice with a great price.

3. Omega 3 Fish Oil​ paired with Vitamin E

​Fish oil is at it's simplest terms, oil from fish but it is much more than that from a health perspective. There are 2 specific groups of Omega-3 fatty acids known as docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and both are extremely important. Regular intake of these 2 Omega-3s is extremely important because they are very important for cardiovascular function, nervous system function, brain development, and immune health to name a few.

Why It's Important​

Well as I stated before, Omega 3's are super important for those vital functions of the body but it goes much deeper than that.

Omega 3 intake is essential for optimal performance of our cell membranes. ​Why do we want our cell membranes working optimally? Well this cell membrane for the cell is like the bouncer at the best club in LA. If we have a lot of omega 3 fatty acids surrounding our brain cells, then messages from our super important neurochemicals like serotonin can be transmitted more easily. Of the 40 million brain cells, most are influenced either directly or indirectly by serotonin so I hope this paints the picture of how important it is!

Omega 3 intake is also super for metabolic health! Yeah now you can start paying attention! I know all that brain stuff was not going to interest you… Who cares about our brains, I'm just trying to get lean! Well Omega 3's definitely help with that! With lots of Omega-3's, our muscle cells become more insulin sensitive to insulin while fat cells decrease. So this simply means that your body will shuttle more nutrients to your muscles rather than to your body fat!

Can I get enough from food?​

Yes you definitely can but it is very difficult nowadays to do so. ​It's hard for us who live in Western countries to get omega-3 fats from dietary sources. We eat very little to no wild caught fish and game to where most of these omega-3's are present. And if you want to get it from whole foods, it is going to cost you an arm and leg to get the quality of sources necessary to get those omega-3's. 

Should you take it?​

In my eyes, this is a must nowadays in our modernized culture where everything is processed. It's important to understand the Omega-3 to Omega-6 fatty acid ratio in the body too. We evolved with a fat intake ratio of 1:1 of these fatty acids but now it's close to 1:20 because Omega-6 fatty acids are super abundant in our culture​. Most meats, any vegetable oils, and nut/seeds, fast food, and any of those tasty desserts, are all chalk full of omega 6 fatty acids. So now you can see why that ratio is 1:20 now in favor of Omega-6's! When this ratio is out of whack, it puts you at risk of cardiovascular disease, increased body fat, and a higher risk of depression to name a few!

How much should you take?​

Aim for between 3-9 grams of total fish oil with about 1-3 grams of EPA + DHA per day. And I mentioned at the top about pairing your fish oil with Vitamin E. This is anecdotal and still being tested but Vitamin E is known for it's ability to prevent oxidation in the body so when pairing this with your fish oil (which is known to oxidize) you are giving yourself a better chance of preventing that oxidation.

When should I take it? 

I personally take mine at night after dinner. Nothing special about that. Just a habit I've established with when I take it.​

What Fish Oil and Vitamin E do I use?

​I personally use Natures Answer Liquid Omega 3 Deep Sea Fish Oil. This is a very high quality fish oil from smaller deep sea fish varieties and is is very cost effective. I take the liquid version because the capsule forms tend to be filled with nonsense and also give me the fish burps lol. I don't have time for all that nonsense! And my Vitamin E of choice is Kirkland Signature Vitamin E 400 IU .

4. Magnesium

Why It's Important:​

I want you to think of Magnesium as the ultimate co factor in our bodies​. What is a co factor? Well they are a non-protein chemical compound that is required for the protein to be able to do it's job. I literally could do a whole 5,000 word post on magnesium but I'll try and be short and sweet with this.

Magnesium is a co-factor in over 350 enzymatic reactions in the body. It is necessary for the transmission of nerve impulses, muscular activity, heart function, temperature regulation, detoxification reactions, formation of healthy bones and improving insulin sensitivity.

Not enough magnesium, and you run the risk of a laundry list of problems such as: 

Literally every system throughout the body relies on magnesium! No one talks about this but it is vitally important!

And if you have trouble with regularity with going to the bathroom (pooping) lol, this will help dramatically with this! ​

​Can I get enough from food?

In an ideal world the answer would be yes but in todays society, the World Health Organization has placed magnesium deficiency on it's list of concerns because 2/3's of the American population are deficient in magnesium. That's a big number! 

Why is this the case? Well our foods that are normally rich is magnesium, like our green leafy veggies, are being grown in soil that is deficient in magnesium, thus causing our veggies to be depleted too. And our other food sources that should be rich in magnesium ​such as nuts, seeds and legumes, contain various acids (phytic, oxalic) that interfere with the absorption of magnesium. 

​Should you take it?

Absolutely. As you can see, magnesium is essential to pretty much every system of your body.

How much should you take?​

A recommended does would be 400mg daily for men and 200-300mg daily for women. 

When should you take it?

I personally like to take it at night before I go to bed. Why? Because one of the benefits to magnesium intake is that it helps with revving down your cortisol levels and up regulating the melatonin necessary to fall fast asleep. So I take my 4g about an hour before bed. I personally use Bulk Supplements Magnesium Glycinate 

What Magnesium supplement do I use?

I personally use Bulk Supplements Magnesium Gylcinate. ​ 

5. Probiotics

A mentor of mine named Ryan Andrews from Precision Nutrition once helped me truly understand probiotics just by helping me understand the root meaning of the word. Probiotic comes from the Latin root word of pro which means "before, forward" ​and bios which mean "life". Thus when put together, probiotics are life promoting.

Why is this important?

Probiotics are "life promoting" because they provide beneficial bacteria to our digestive tracts that allow for us to digest our food and absorb nutrients effectively. So just think that we are not technically digesting out food, the bacteria is. This bacteria is our gut influence our overall health, metabolism and body composition. They are extremely important in also helping our immune system distinguish between good and bad guys to make sure it pull the trigger to quickly. This is the case if you ever have had a food sensitivity. Mine used to be dairy but it had subsided since I started taking my probiotics.

So if you are thinking, "well I'm trying to make #gainz, so how does this help me do that?" Well those trillions of microbial travelers that inhabit your body play a massive role in your production of anabolic hormones. These hormones are these free sterioids that are essential for muscle growth and recovery between workouts. A recent animal study found that male mice consuming the probiotic bacterium Lacotobacillus reuteri had a significantly higher levels of circulating testosterone regardless of the type of diet they ate!​

The most common causes of poor gut health are:​

  • ​Medications especially antibiotics (they kill our good bacteria)
  • Stress
  • Poor Diet (alcohol, processed foods, over-eating, poor fiber intake, sugar)
  • Radiation or Chemotherapy

Should you take it?

I believe that this is a necessity from a prevention standpoint. Our guts are so important and is that front line that processing the very fuel that keeps us alive. We want that gut performing at its best at all times.

Can I get this from food?

Yep you can so if you are healthy, you should aim for 1-2 servings of probiotic rich foods each day. These foods include yogurt, buttermilk, kefir, sauerkraut, kimchi, and bacterially cultured cheese. So if you are eating these already and your digestion is working well, then you should be ok not taking a probiotic. But if not, then it would be well served to be taking one to make sure that gut it working at its best!

How much should you take?

​The goal should be to get between 3-5 billion CFUs of health bacteria per day to support your digestive system. I personally take 6 billion CFUs because I know don't want to leave any doubt. You can take up to 10 billion CFUs if your gut health is in bad shape. 

And small disclaimer… You may feel worse before you feel better when taking your probiotic because ​the bacteria releases toxins. 

​When should you take it?

It is best to be taken with a meal. Preferably your first big meal of the day.​

What probiotic do I take?​

I take Life Vantage's Probio. It has 6 billions CFUs of essential bacteria that are necessary for that optimal gut health.​ 

6. ​Creatine Monohydrate

Is one of the most researched and well documented supplements in history but is still one of the most misunderstood by most of the population! I'll be frank when I say: Creatine is not a steroid! 

Why this is important​:

A mentor and thought leader in the S&C field, Bret Contreras, said it perfectly when he titled creatine as "a versatile supplement" because of the many roles it plays in the body!​

Creatine is a molecule that is already produced in the body where high energy phosphate groups (creatine phosphate) are stored. During high stress periods, these creatine phosphate molecules are released to aid in cellular function. This action is essential not only for increased strength but also in brain, bones, muscles and liver function.

Creatine simply helps us take the energy that is stored in our food and transfer it to our bodies so we can fuel our work/activity. This reigns supreme for in the gym when you are squeaking that tough set of 5 reps on the bench press or on the track when you are running that 40 yard dash. Just adding 1 extra rep onto a heavy set or being able to run that 40 yd dash .05 seconds faster over time add up to significantly more volume that wouldn't of been there without creatine. This allows for great #gainz in the long run!

And the same can be said with our cognitive function as well! Our brains use creatine to transfer energy as well so when our brain cells have adequate creatine production, our thought and memory processes are improved! 

Let me use this analogy to help paint the picture a bit more. So imagine you are going to make some burgers for the family tonight. Everyone is so excited and can't wait to have these burgers. They have been thinking about these wonderful burgers all day! Well imagine that you go into the fridge and realize that you don't have any ground beef to make these burgers with. Everyone is devastated…. So now you run to the store to grab some ground beef, get stuck in traffic, long line at the grocery store, and traffic on the way back. By the time you get home, it has been over an hour and everyone already ate because they were starving. Now imagine this happened every time you promised a meal like this. 

That story is exactly what is happening to your body every time you need quick energy! You don't have enough creatine phosphate stored to supply that energy and thus your body has to go to another energy system, which slows the process to create or replenish the energy! This is true for physical and mental performance! 

Can I get it from food?

Yep! A typical diet has about 1g of creatine but in order to get all the benefits of it, you need to be intaking around 5g per day. The richest sources of creatine are from your wild game (red meat) sources. This makes sense if you think of the athletic demands that these animals have on them to hunt or not be hunted in the wild. They need that readily available levels of creatine so they can survive.

Should you take it?

​Do you want to have quick energy available for your body and mind to perform at its best!? If so, then the answer should be a definitive yes! 

How much should you take?​

5g every day. You will hear people say to load and/or cycle on and off your creatine but don't worry about all that. Just focus on getting 5g every single day.

When should I take it?​

Research has shown that it is better absorbed (not much better) around training but the research was in ​individuals who had never taken creatine before. From that, it is hard to tell if this would be the same for someone like myself who has been taking it for a long period time who's creatine phosphate stores are already saturated. Just focus on picking a time when you will be consistent with taking it every day. 5g of creatine a day, keeps the #gainz comin your way!

What Creatine do I take?​

I personally take a Creatine Monohydrate from Bulk Supplements. It is super cost effective and super high quality so its a win-win!​

7. Beta Alanine

Beta Alanine can be seen as Batman's Robin with creatine being Batman. Beta Alanine is more of a performance supplement compared to creatine. It is a modified version of the amino acid alanine which has been shown to enhance muscular endurance. What makes beta alanine so special is because it is essential for the creation of the dipeptide know as carnosine, which is the true acid buffering agent. Along side beta alanine is histidine, which when are bonded, create this carsonine. Don't stress over all this science! All you need to know is that if you were in the gym doing sets of 8-15 reps, then this would act as a buffer for the acid accumulation in the muscles, thus allowing you to be able to get a few more reps.

Why this is important?​

As we all know, training/exercise/working out or whatever you want to call it, is great for our overall health. We also know that they more muscle we have, the more healthy we tend to be (not going to list the millions of benefits). ​So think of every single workout you did, you were able to knock out a few more reps on each set of each exercise you did. For example, you did 4 exercises at the gym that each called for 4 sets of 15 reps. Well lets say you had been taking your beta alanine and were able to knock out 2 more reps on each set. So for each exercise, you were able to get 8 more reps, and for the whole workout, you were able to get a total of 32 more reps! Now over the span of 3 workouts during the week, you now got 96 more reps! And over the span of a month thats 384 more reps! I think you got my point 🙂 The same can be said for being able to do more weight for those 15 reps. So if you could only do 10lbs for that 15 reps and now you can do 12lbs for that 15 reps. 

So what happens when you are able to do more reps or more weight for those reps!? More muscle, more fat loss, better insulin sensitivity due to increase muscle and strength, and the list goes on!

Can you get it from food?​

Yes you can carnosine from carnivorous animals such as chicken, beef, fish and pork in the form of carnosine. ​But carnosine in its whole form is very hard for our bodies to absorb. Our body is efficient at producing the histidine but is not very proficient at the production of the beta alanine so by supplementing with the beta alanine, we are able to give our body the tools to create the carnosine thus leading to more #gainz!

How much do you take?

I personally take 3.5g per day so I would advise anywhere between 3-5g daily. If you are a smaller woman, then I would take the lower side of those recommendations. Beware that you might have to ease yourself onto this because of the itchy/skin raising feeling it gives you. You can even spread out the dosage out across the day in smaller amounts to erase this itchy/skin raising feeling. 

When should you take it?

I personally have to take it with a meal because if I don't, I get the feels super bad! Some people like it but I personally do not lol.

What Beta Alanine do I use?​

I personally use Bulk Supplement Beta Alanine Powder. It is super competitively priced and it super high quality!

8. Pre-Workout/Brain Food Supplement

I personally am not a big fan of typical pre workouts and stimulants because of the way they make me feel so I have stayed away from them for some time.

Typical pre workouts are just straight caffeine with a bit of creatine and beta alanine thrown in there. They honestly make me feel like I am going to have a heart attack every time I take them and then I crash a couple hours later from the huge rush that drains my adrenals. 

I personally use PEScience Alphamine because of the combination of a moderate dose of caffeine (125mg) with L-Theanine. Why is that combination important? Well because L-Theanine is an amino acid that is synergistic with stimulants such as caffeine to take the edge off. That is massively important to me as I am someone who gets that edgy feeling from pre workouts. I notice it gives me an intense focus rather than a heart attack!

Why it's important ​

Well if you are someone who wants to go to the gym not only with energy but with a combined focus that will yield you optimal performance, then this is the best option I have found for just that.

Should you take this?​

I highly recommend you take this if you need an extra boost to kill your workout but it is not a necessity. This is definitely a luxury supplement so if you have some extra money to blow on supplement, this is one that helps me perform my best in the gym.

What Pre-Workout/Brain Food supplement do I use?

I use PEScience Alphamine. It is by far the best pre workout supplement I have ever tried because of the brain food component. It is a game changer for me. Here is the link if you are interested in ordering some Alphamine and use the discount code "FDL" for 30% off your order. 

9. Protein Powder

And last but not least, we have the infamous protein powder supplement! We all know how important our protein intake is for literally every single facet of our bodies to be working optimally. The word protein actually comes from the Greek word Protos which means "first one" or "most important one." So to say our protein intake was important would be an understatement. 

Protein powder is derived from many different food sources like milk, beef, egg, pea, hemp, rice, soy, cranberry, and artichoke. Each of these sources have there strength and weakness. I can cover each in more detail in a later post if you guys want me to but just know that if you have a digestibility issues with certain foods like dairy or eggs, then those might not be the best choice for you. 

Why its important?

​Well as I stated before, Protein is derived from the greek work Protos meaning "most important one" and it lives up to that title. And for many of us, it is a struggle to get in enough protein in order to maximize our health and performance. This is where our protein comes in to fill the gaps. 

Should you take it?​

If you struggle to hit your protein on daily basis then I think this is one that you should add to your stack.

How much do you take?​

​Well this is up to you and your current protein intake from whole food sources. For example, I take in about 1-1.5 scoops of protein powder per day which equates to about 40g protein coming from protein powder. My goal for each day is 200g protein per day so it makes up 20% of my daily protein intake. The rest of my protein comes from mostly whole food sources. That should be your goal as well but don't stress too much over it! Just hit your protein! Some days you'll have 10% of your intake from protein powder and others it will be 50%. No worries! Just hitting you protein is the most important thing.

When do you take it?​

Well this question depends on your demands on recovery. From a strictly body composition standpoint, timing means very little but from a recovery standpoint, it is very important. If you have multiple sessions in a day or need to maximize recovery for the next session, then taking in 30g protein post workout would be best along with some carbs if you are a leaner individual. 

What Protein Powders do I use?

- P​Science Select Protein Powder

  • And why do I advise using this brand? Well because it checks off all the boxes above as a quality protein source but is also a blend between whey and casein protein which is a potent combination of fast and slow digesting proteins. 
  • This combination is not only great for a steady stream of amino acids, but also is great for cooking which you all know me for! It takes away that dryness that most protein powders when cooked with result it. And you all know my recipes are not dry!
  • So use the discount code "FDL" to get 30% off your protein!

Honorable Mention Supplement Recommendations

Nitrate​s

Nitates are a compound found in leafy green veggies and beetroot.

Why its important​:

​Nitrates are responsible for breaking down into nitrites which are eventually turned into nitric oxide (NO) which provide a multitude of performance benefits. They have been shown to improve anaerobic and aerobic endurance, blood flow, and work output. What that all means is increased muscle recovery between bouts of exercise. Just remember that Nitrates improve our bodies ability to product ATP from the food you eat. Takes the food we eat and turns it into fuel. High levels of these circulating nitrite help the mitochondria in cells produce ATP more efficiently. 

​Should I take it?

Well here is the tricky part. The selling of a nitrate supplement at a dose high enough to cause these effects is not legal. But fortunately we can get this benefit from whole food sources. So this could look like a shake with spinach, swiss chard and lettuce mixed in. Consuming in shake form will increase absorption.

How much should I take?​

Well the recommendation is 500g of these leafy green veggies to enjoy the full benefits of this nitrate in your workout. I know that sounds like a lot. But once blended, its really not much at all. ​

When should I take it?​

1-2 hours before your workout depending on how big your pre workout shake or meal is. ​

BCAAs (Branch Chain Amino Acids)

Branch Chain Amino Acids (BCAAs) are the building blocks of protein. They get there name partly because of there structure which has a "side chain" of one carbon atom and three hydrogen atoms. These three BCAAs are leucine, isoleucine and valine. If you are not a geek like myself, don't worry about all that sciencey stuff! Just know that BCAAs are the building blocks of protein synthesis and every production.

Why its important?

​In order for our BCAAs to participate and facilitate these essential processes, they must be available to the body. This means that we need to eat enough of these BCAAs to ensure that they are there to fuel these essential processes. 

The super cool thing about BCAAs are that they are the only amino acid that is not degraded in the liver. The usual process is that amino acids have to be regulated by the gut and liver before being circulated elsewhere in the body but BCAAs head straight to the bloodstream to fuel the gains!

Should you take it​?

BCAAs are very important especially because of the concentration of the all important amino acid leucine. For the body to create new proteins, it needs an estimated daily leucine intake of between 1-4 grams per day. That is the bare minimum and if you are a hard training athlete, then this requirement has been se​en to be up to 12 grams per day! 

I see the use of BCAAs to come into play in 3 different scenarios for those who track there macros.

  1. For those who workout fasted or with little food in them. Limits the circulating BCAAs necessary to fuel performance and protein synthesis. 
  2. Those in a lower calorie intake aka those who are in the nitty gritty of their cut. Not as much building blocks for the body even if protein is hit so BCAA supplementation ensures you have enough to preserve that precious muscle. 
  3. Those who are working out multiple times per day or are working out for over 2 hours.

Can you get enough from food?

Absolutely! And that is why I have this on the honorable mentions list. I personally take BCAAs when I am cutting in the mornings because I like to fast until I eat my big pre workout meal. So by taking 10g of BCAAs​ in the morning, I am getting that dose of these essential amino acids especially leucine, to fuel that new protein production. 

BCAA content in food types (% grams of amino acids per 100g of protein)
  • ​Whey protein isolate = 26%
  • Milk protein = 21%
  • Muscle protein = 18%
  • Soy protein isolate = 18%
  • Wheat protein = 15% 

So think of your food intake and what sources of protein you use to hit your protein goals for the day. 

And if you are new to Flexible Dieting and have never calculated your macros before, click here for the guide to walk you step by step on how to do that. 

When should you take it?​

During extended times of fasting, take 5-10g of BCAAs every 2-4 hours during the day especially if you are on a cut.

This is the same if you are training fasted. Supplement with 10g BCAAs before training.

What BCAAs do I use?

​I personally use BulkSupplements BCAA 3:1:2 Powder. I use this one because of the ratio of the increase ratio of leucine to the other amino acids because of much more powerful it is. Most BCAAs do not have this ratio unless it is specified like this. Plus, this is the highest quality brand I could find and their prices are amazing! 

Fat Burners

So bare with me when I cover this supplement that has single handedly destroyed tons of credibility for the supplement industry as a whole. Most fat burners usually are super high in caffeine which cause a thermic effect in the food thus making us burn more calories. Don't get me wrong, caffeine is well documented to be great for you but the copious amounts that are put in most is not the best thing in the world and also leads to diminishing returns due to your body becoming used those greater dosages.

But some people will want an option for a fat burning supplement and I will recommend that you have a great training and diet regime down and want that extra little additional push for losing body fat. This should be seen as icing on the cake.

The one fat burner I can recommend is one by Life Vantage. This has minimal caffeine less than 25mg compared to most that have 300mg or more. And it is full of awesome B-Vitamins as well as a mix of citrus and green coffee extracts that are being cited more and more for there fat burning effects. You can click the link here if you want to check this one out. 

No One-Size-Fits-All Approach Here

Supplements are bashed a lot in the fitness and nutrition industry as useless and an unneeded cost which is true most of the time. But as this guide was able to show you, there are a lot of great options that can help you plug in the gaps in your diet and training that will aid in your making those #gainz!

But…….

Supplements are called supplements for a reason. They are meant to be a supplement to an already well establish training and nutritional program. So if you think all of these supplements are going to be some quick fix then you are setting yourself up for failure.

If you are Flexible Dieting, tracking macros and training hard, then you are already way ahead of most people and with consistency, you will achieve amazing things results! Just remember our hierarchy of importance above and know that these can really help but they need to compound over time.

Disclaimer

​These supplements are just a recommendation of what I take. I am not a doctor nor do I wish to be one (actually kinda do but too much school) but have done extensive research on all of these supplements. Check with your doctor before taking any of these supplements. 

Your Homework

Look at your lifestyle, goals, budget and any other factors to figure out which ​supplements fit best with your plan.

Then please share this guide to any of your friend and family who could benefit from this guide!

And if you are not a member of the Flexible Dieting Lifestyle community, please sign up below and I will send you my Flexible Dieting Book of Recipes! It's all FREE so let me give you cool, FREE tools!

​Thanks and God Bless,

​Zach

The Flexible Dieters Guide To Traveling & Not Losing Your #Gainz

Think about how awesome it would be to travel and not lose of your #gainz!? Or maybe even come back lighter than when you left like what happens to me most times!

And I'm going to be blunt by saying that thank God you have Flexible Dieting for when you are traveling because it is by far the best tool you could have in order to travel often and still keep your results. If you've ever tried to travel while on a meal plan you either fell into 3 different categories:

  1. You were so stressed out trying to get foods close to what your meal plan called for that you couldn't even enjoy the trip or focus on the business that brought you there
  2. You had to be anti social and either eat at the hotel, eat at different restaurants than your​ friends/co worker, and/or you didn't go out at night with them to get a few drinks because your meal plan didn't tell you what to do in that case
  3. You said screw it and just ate whatever the hell you wanted and you didn't care if you gained the weight back on. You didn't want to have to deal with trying to juggle a meal plan with all the others things going on that traveling presents. YOLO as the young kids say these days!

Lol

Hitting your macros is easy when you are home but it becomes a challenge when you are surrounded by a bunch of unknowns that traveling presents.​

But what I am going to try and do in this post, is to teach you how to control what you can control and be ready for every situation that traveling ​could throw at you.

I want to take you step by step from before you leave on your trip to when you are back stepping on that scale looking better than when you left 🙂 ​

In this post I am going to cover:

  • ​The Typical Traveling Struggles
  • The Pre Travel Tool Kit
  • The Grocery Store
  • Uber X vs. Uber Black
  • Intermittent Fasting
  • Eating Out
  • Hotel Recipes
  • Eating Intuitively
  • KISS: Keep It Simple Stupid

The Traveling Struggles

When we travel, there are many different problems that arise that try to derail us on our abilities to hit our macros when traveling

  1. ​Protein is super duper hard to hit. Protein is already hard enough for most people to hit but when traveling, you have to be very proactive to make sure you hit it
  2. Carbs and fat are super duper easy to hit and we have to be proactive when traveling to make sure we don't go way overboard on these bad boys
  3. A non existent dietary fiber intake.

Pro-tip: Literally try and take in as much protein as you can when traveling. At every meal, make sure you are getting a solid amount of protein because it'll ensure that you are full and will limit the cravings to go nuts on all the goodies that'll present themselves every which way you look! If this is the only tip you take from this post, I had done my job because this will solve 80% of the struggles that will present themselves while traveling.

Let's get this started because as my boy Xzibit does best, I am going to pimp this struggle bus and make you into a well oiled pimped out traveling machine!

The Pre Travel Tool Kit

Before we leave for your trip, we should have an array of foods that will allow help us hit our macros while we are traveling to our desired destination. These foods should be non perishable items that are versatile in their uses. This is what I always pack when I travel to ensure I am not reacting 

1. Protein Powder & Protein Bars

  • ​These two are going to be a constant in whatever traveling situation you are in. They are both so versatile and portable so they are a staple in my travel tool kit.
  • Especially choosing bars like Quest Bars which are high in fiber which will kill 2 birds with 1 stone. 

Quest Bars are clutch when traveling

​2. PB2

  • ​Is another versatile option that is easily portable and can be whipped up with just some water to have a quick snack either in the air port or on the road.

3. Sugar free, fat free pudding mix

Protein Icing Topped Caramel Corn Rice Cake

  • ​This is another powder than can be added to your pb2 and/or protein powder to make a tasty protein icing to snack on. Just simply take your protein powder, pb2 and pudding mix and put it into a bowl. Then add water and mix until you get the consistency you want. Then boom you have a tasty icing to hit those macros with 🙂

4. Rice Cakes

  • While in my hotel, only had the ingredients listed above with me so I whipped up the protein icing and added to a few rice cakes.

5. Flatout Wraps or any other wraps you can pack with you

My airport wraps of #gainz

  • ​As you can see, I took those wraps with me in the airport and had some deli meat in a small cooler along with cheese and spinach, and made some tasty wraps!

6. Packets of Solid White Tuna or Chicken

  • ​If you don't want to carry a cooler, you can simply get a few of these packets and add them to your wraps as well. 

7. Lean Beef Jerky: 

  • ​Is expensive as hell but is a very convenient travel source of protein 

8. Sriracha and Mustard

​The Grocery Store

Most hotels have a fridge you can store things in so the grocery store will give you a few things that you can utilize in order to hit your macros.

Your grocery trip should include things that can literally be taken from their package and put together in order to create the meal. We are going to get lean sources of protein along with low carb and low fat options.

Boars Head Over Roasted Chicken on top of rice cakes topped with Sriracha and Avocado

Why is this? Because on our trip, we will have no problem hitting our carbs and fat but we want to make sure you are proactive with our protein intake. We want to minimize our intake of carbs and fats so when we do have to eat out, we have enough carbs and fats left to budget towards those restaurant meals. 

  • Protein Sources:
    • Deli Meat
    • Solid White Tuna Packets
    • Fat Free Greek Yogurt

Chocolate Protein Icing Covered Strawberries

  • Carb Sources:
    • Low carb/high fiber wraps
    • Green/leafy bag of mixed veggies to add to wraps or make a quick salad
    • Rice Cakes
    • Fresh Berries
  • Fat Sources:
    • I tend to shy away from getting really any fat sources for the hotel because most places I'll go out to eat will be higher in fat so I don't worry about it.
    • But you can grab some hard boiled eggs from the grocery store or from the continental breakfast

Uber X vs. Uber Black

Uber Black Bentley

Uber X

So does taking an Uber enhance your chances of not getting fat on vacation!? Well not exactly but it provides a great analogy of a strategy I use while traveling.

When traveling, there are a lot of unknowns but what we do know is that as the day goes on, the more extravagant the meals and drinks get. ​So what does Uber X and Uber Black have to do with it?

Well the Uber X is the basic, non luxury taxi service that you can get for a cheaper cost. It's not as luxurious or fancy but it gets the job done​. Then you have your Uber Black which is a more luxurious option. You are picked up in a black car or limousine and is the option most businesses utilize. It is a higher class service but costs more as well. So why the heck are we talking about Uber?

Well I want you to think of your eating on vacation the same way. When do we always run into the most trouble during vacation? It is at night. And how can we combat this? By treating earlier in the day like Uber X so we can ​treat our night like Uber Black!

How do you this!? Well earlier in the day, you want to make simple choices. Stick to higher protein, lower carb, lower fat ​options. By doing this, you are saving a large chunk of your carbs and fats for later on in the night so you can use them on your extravagant meal(s) and drinks! 

Let me show you how I would do this from my continental breakfast, lunch, up until my dinner that night.

So say my goal macros for the day are to hit:

  • ​300g carbs
  • 65g fat
  • 200g protein

Disclaimer: When traveling, I usually skip breakfast and eat my first meal between 11am-12pm. I tend to listen to my hunger cues more when traveling because my schedule is filled with a bunch of unknowns. So I'll usually drink some BCAAs throughout the morning and then have my first meal around that 11-12 time frame.

And also, I want to save as much of my macros for the later part of the day so I have more to play with :)​ And in case you were wondering, skipping breakfast is not bad. I've already covered it in a ton of detail so if you have not read it yet, feel free to click here and check it out here.

But if I was going to eat breakfast, I would try to keep it as high protein as I could while minimizing my fat and carb intake. This is where I would utilize my protein powder and pb2 that I packed with me. I would make a protein icing by mixing 2 scoops of protein powder with 1 serving of pb2 in a bowl. Then I would add in ​some water and mix until I got the consistency of icing. Then I would either take my rice cakes I brought with me or got from the store, and top it on a those or would grab an english muffin from the continental breakfast. Then I would take 2 hard boiled eggs and add those into the breakfast as well. 

Then for lunch, I would look for something simple as well. This would be a big salad or burrito bowl with mostly veggies. with a double serving of a lean protein source like chicken. I would use a lighter dressing for the salad to save my fats and probably not have any cheese on there as well. Remember, we are budgeting our macros necessary so we have plenty to work with at night. An example would be this meal I got from a mexican restaurant that was like chipotle

Then at Dinner, this is where the fun begins. I would have plenty of fat and carbs to ​play with with a moderate amount protein. This would ensure that I am not having to restrict myself and can enjoy the night. Of course, you don't want to go nuts but you can enjoy that pizza and beer if you'd like or a massive ice cream cone like this! 

Aww Yeah!

Intermittent Fasting

While traveling, I am not as hungry as I normally am because I am so busy with all the work or festivities I will be attending throughout. So this is why I love intermittent fasting while traveling. And in case you were wondering, intermittent fasting will not ruin any of your gainz. I covered it in great detail here so make sure to check it out 🙂

When traveling for business, most of my work is ​done in the mornings. I am constantly on the move and distracted so food is not something I want to have to worry about. This is common with most business professionals. So I start my day with a huge glass of water and then sip on BCAAs throughout the morning while I am doing any work obligations that I have. This usually starts at 7am and our first break is around 12:30. And when I am distracted, my hunger goes away. So I listen to my body and I start to get hungry and my brain gets foggy around that lunchtime hour and that is where I will break my fast. This allows me to not waste any of my macros earlier in the day when I'm not hungry so I can have a nice lunch and more importantly, gives me more leeway at night when I'm out and about in the city.

Eating Out:

Finding out how to eat out while traveling is unbelievably important to making sure you don't blow up while traveling! Here are a few things I do when I go to a restaurant so I make sure I stay on track.

1. If it is a chain restaurant, look up the nutritional information online. Almost any restaurant has their nutritional calculator online. Just a simple google search of "Restaurant ​Nutritional Information," and many options will come up

Burrito Bowl with tons of veggies, black beans, and double chicken

2. Well what if is a mom and pop restaurant!? How the heck do I track that?

  • ​All you gotta do is figure out the genre of food that the place serves and then find a chain restaurant that is very similar. Remember it doesn't have to be perfect. So if you are going to a mexican restaurant, look at what you are having and go to the chipotle nutritional calculator online and put together a meal that is similar to what you got. Super duper simple.
  • This meal pictured was from a local mexican place and I used the chipotle calculator to track it. Super easy

3. Don't be afraid to ask for things cooked a certain way!

  • ​If you look up the nutritional information online for most food choices, you will see that the fat content is abnormally high. One way to significant combat this is by asking for your food to be cooked without oil.
    • For example, if you were to order broccoli from a place I go to called The Loop, the online nutritional information tells me that there are 4.5g fat for a side serving of broccoli. Well that tells me that they use a bunch of oil cooking it so I just ask for it to be cooked without oil and now erase the 4.5g of fat I would've had if I wouldn't of asked. 
  • The same can be done with adding and substituting things into your meal. 
    • For example, instead of that side of cole slaw or rice that comes with your meal, asking for a double serving of veggies with no oil. 

Eating Intuitively: Our end goal

While traveling, I think our end goal is to be able to eat intuitively and not stress about food while traveling.

Most people when they are traveling don't want to have to worry about tracking their food. When you are traveling, there is usually a lot going on so worrying about food is another just another thing most people don't want to add to their plate. (that was punny!) 🙂

So this is where eating intuitively comes into play! Just using your flexible dieting experience to eyeball and be aware of what you need to be taking in for the day.

I'll use myself as an example for my last business trip to Phoenix. I was there from thursday till sunday morning. This is what a typical day of eating looked like for me during my mini cut where my macros were 200g carbs, 50g fat, 200g protein:

  • Wake up around 6:00 am, chug a tall glass of water and get ready for the day. Do some mobility in the hotel room and then shower.
  • Around 7am I take a neurological activator (brain food) supplement with 5g of BCAAs and put them in a shake cup full of water. 
  • Then I was off to meetings till around 9:30am. At that point, I went to starbucks and got a Venti Medium Roast coffee with a splash of fat free milk, ground cinnamon, and a little bit of splenda. If you noticed, I have yet to have any food yet. I'm honestly not hungry yet and am listening to my hunger cues. 
  • By 12, I am pretty hungry so I went to a local sub shop to get some lunch. I ordered a footlong chicken sub on Multi Grain Bread. On this sub I got double meat to ensure I got a big chunk of protein in. I also got pepper jack cheese and fit as much veggies as I could on it. 
  • Around 4:30, I had a Smores Quest Bar to help hit my fiber and and get some more protein in. 
  • So at this point I can guestimmate that I've taken in around 100g protein, 100g carbs, and about 25-30g fat. 
  • That night, we choose to go to a personal pan pizza place. I knew that I had a solid amount of macros left to play with and should be able to fit a 10in pizza in. This place allowed for you to put as much topping as you wanted on it. So I knew I need 100g protein so I went for a ton of meat on that bad boy. I went with a lot of chicken and a medium amount of steak and feta. I went with just enough cheese to cover the pizza and then loaded it with a ton of veggies. Went with as much red and green peppers, onions, mushrooms, tomatoes, spinach, and jalepenos that we could fit on it. The end product wasn't pretty but it was epic! 
  • So how did I fit pizza into my macros? I understood where I was at during the day and waited earlier in the day to eat until I was hungry. So later, when everyone wanted to go grab pizza, I wasn't out of macros so I couldn't be that weirdo that said pizza didn't fit into my macros. 

My Pizza! Picture doesn't do it justice!

KISS: Keep It Simple Stupid 🙂

At the end of the day, keeping it simple as much as possible while traveling is the sure fire way to minimize the damage you can do while traveling!

1. Stick to whole food choices as much as you possibly can. Keep it as minimally processed and colorful as you can.

2. Eat as much lean protein at every meal​ as you can

3. Limit the extravagant sauces or dressing that come on most sandwiches or salads.​

4. Listen to your hunger cues. Eat when you are hungry.

5. Don't over think it and restrict yourself! If you know you are having an extravagant meal at some point in the day, then keep it high protein and light in carbs/fats in your other meals.

If you practice these strategies, then all will be great and dandy​! You can do this!

Homework​

Utilize these strategies during your next trip! Traveling rewards those who are proactive rather than reactive so make the most of these tools and keep the gainz a comin!

​Are you friends with me on Facebook and/or following the Flexible Dieting Lifestyle on Instagram!? If the answer is yes, then thank you very much but if no, then make it happen! You are missing out on all the daily content I post on there that could exponentially increase your #gainz

Lastly, make sure to join the Flexible Dieting Lifestyle Community below for free so I can send you all the best content so you can become the Flexible Dieting Jedi that will lead to endless #Gainz! Ohh and you'll get the Flexible Dieting Book of Recipes For FREE as well!

Macro Friendly: How to eat a ton without gaining a ton

I want you to think about when you go shopping at the grocery store. What is the first thing you do? You start looking for deals like BO​GO, 50% off, Clearance, 10 for 10, etc. We all want to go to the store and get as much of the food we want for as little money as possible. Why spend more money that you have to!? I'll let my friend below express my feelings on that!

What am I getting at!? Well today I want to introduce to you a concept that is well known in the Flexible Dieting community called "Macro Friendly." In short, "Macro Friendly" is a category of foods that give you a lot food without taking away a lot of your macros. They in a sense give you the best bang for your buck. So today I am going to teach you everything you need to know about how to maximize these "macro friendly" foods in order to make all the gainz you could ever want 🙂

What you will learn today:

  • What the heck is macro friendly?
  • Why/when it is important?
  • My macro friendly tool kit
  • How to build your own macro friendly tool kit!

Macro Friendly​

What the heck does this mean​!?

When we are counting our macros, we have a set number of protein, carbs, and fats we are supposed to hit for that day. These are our budget of macros. Think of it just the same as your finances and how you have a certain budget for bills, food, and leisure. Same thing. And if you have yet to figure out your macros or don't even know what macros are, click here and you'll get the fast track so this all makes sense.

So what am I getting at? Well Macro Friendly is the same idea but with the foods we eat! We want to find foods that give us more/same/similar satisfaction for the least amount of macros possible. 

  • ​Ex. Full Fat vs. Fat Free Mayonnaise 
    • Full Fat per 13g serving (1 tbsp) = 90cals, 10g fat, 0g carbs, 0g protein
    • Fat Free Mayonnaise 1tbsp (13g) = 10 cals, 0g fat, 2g carbs, 0g protein
    • For the same amount of Mayonnaise, you get 9 times the amount of calories! 
    • And lets be honest, you'll be using a whole lot more than just a tbsp of mayonnaise! 

    So as you can see, if you like mayonnaise but fat free mayonnaise gives you the same satisfaction, why waste a bunch of your calories on the full fat version. Remember this concept because it is the overall theme of todays post. You will realize how many foods you are eating on a daily basis that could be swapped out with a lower calorie option which will save you a ton of calories on a daily basis.

Why is this important?​

1. More calories for the things you love

Because who wants to waste calories on things like full fat mayonnaise when you could use them on fun stuff like ice cream or even that extra glass of red wine you wanted! 

It's just like when you go to the store and save a bunch of ​money with the various deals which leaves you with more left over money to spend on the things you don't necessarily need. Same principle goes with your diet.

Hell, you might love full fat mayonnaise and want to use your extra calories you've saved on that! I'm definitely not that person… But to each their own! I personally choose to use mine something sweet! 

How you looked when you saw ice cream on your last diet…...

​2. More Food Volume

Because you are eating these foods with less calories for the same serving size, you can eat more of it for the same amount of calories.

What I mean by this is that say we both have 490 calories, ​60g carbs, 10g fat, and 40g protein to make a meal with. My goal is to eat more total food volume than you even though we are both consuming the same amount of calories.

100g of Broccoli

1 Serving of Cooked Rice

For example, if you use vegetables like broccoli and green peppers instead of rice in your meal, you will get 10 times more volume for the about of calories. 1 serving of rice is around 37g carbs and gives you that amount of rice pictured above. Now if you were to eat 37g carbs worth of broccoli, you would have to eat more than 6 of those plate full of broccoli above. I know you must be thinking, "Broccoli sucks though!" But if you are saying that, you have not sautéed your broccoli yet. Future post on how to cook your veggies coming soon.

You cannot tell me you wouldn't eat that above even if you hate broccoli. I will make you a believer 🙂 I mean just look at that Egg Frittata Pepperoni Pizza with beautiful broccoli all up in it!

Egg Frittata Pepperoni Pizza!

​3. Increase Satiety (not as hunnnnngry)

​I want you to think back to when you first started tracking macros and had that epiphany moment when you saw that the smores pop tart you were eating every morning for breakfast had 70g carbs. Not only did you take a huge chunk of your carbs our before 8am, you were not ravenously hungry an hour later! This is a probably the best example of a non-macro friendly food. But if you ate 70g carbs, why are you so hungry an hour later? Shouldn't that amount of calories keep you full? 

You don't have to be HANGRY!

Pop tarts are a very dense source of calories. Meaning that you do not get much food volume for the amount of calories you are eating. Plus, they are digested really quickly because they are mostly sugar and thus will lead to you being hungry very shortly after. Let me tell you a story real life story to help you understand this.

​There was this monster called HUNGAA DA GIANT, who was the size of the state of Florida and wanted to eat everyone in sight! So the U.S. Government had a budget of $7 billion to spend on an army. They could spend this budget on an army of 100 who would hold HUNGAA off for an hour or an army of 1,000,000 who would destroy HUNGAA. With this super hard decision that would determine the fate of the world (sarcastic, of course they would choose 1,000,000), they chose the 1,000,000 men army and destroyed HUNGAA DA GIANT! Ok what the heck am I talking about!? Lol don't judge me, I have the imagination of a 5 year old 🙂

Oreo Birthday Cheesecake Protein Rollups!

​I use this example to show us how our hunger is HUNGAA DA GIANT and we have two options to fight him off with. One that is temporary like a pop tart, that is small in volume, very calorically expensive per g of food, and that gives us temporary relief. Or one like my High Protein Butterscotch Rollups that are high in volume, less calorically expensive, and give us a lasting relief of our hunger. I think the answer is pretty obvious 🙂

When is this important!?

1. Cutting/Dieting/Trying to lose weight: Macros are low

  • ​In order to lose weight, we must be in whats called a caloric deficit. Simply put, we need to eat less calories than what we burn. It all comes back to calories in vs calories out. 
    • If you want to lose weight, be in a caloric deficit
    • If you want to gain weight, be in a caloric surplus
  • So if you were eating 2000 calories per day to maintain your bodyweight and needed to eat around 1700 calories to spur weight loss, you will want to find more macro friendly meals to make it seem like you are still eating the same amount of food as you were at 2000 calories. This is where macro friendly foods come into play

2. Maintaining you current results/bodyweight

  • ​So say you achieved great results and have lost all the weight you wanted and plan to keep the results you have achieved. Well macro friendly foods will help you maintain theses results by helping you stay in that calorie range to maintain your certain body fat % while not feeling deprived.
  • Most people gain all the weight back from their diet because they achieved their desired results and then went back to eating un macro friendly foods. These foods had a much higher calorie content causing a big caloric surplus leading to all that weight being gained back. 
  • But this rarely happens with people who are flexible dieting they don't feel deprived and can have any type of food they want at any time. 

3. Not having to really worry about food

  • ​If you are utilizing macro friendly foods most of the time, the chances of you gaining a ton of body fat are not very high. You will be utilizing foods that are not super dense in calories thus making it hard to over consume and losing all your results. You will be satiated and this will also leave discretionary/left over calories to eat those treats that the common folk would scold you for eating. But just lift up your shirt and show off your 6-pack and eat that ice cream while smiling at them 🙂

The Macro Friendly Vs. The Not So Friendly

I wanted to compare a few more items we use on a daily basis that can be substituted with more macro friendly options without any sacrifice on your part!

Cheddar Broccoli Wraps!

Wraps:

Josephs Lavash Breads vs. Chipotle Large Flour Tortillas

  • ​Josephs Lavash Breads: 100 cals per lavash, 14g carb, 4g fat, 10g protein, 6g fiber
  • Chipotle Large Flour Tortillas: 300 Calories, 46g Carbs, 10g Fat, 7g Protein, 3g Fiber 

So by using a Josephs Lavash Bread as the wrap for you meal, you are saving 200 calories, over 32g carbs, 6g fat, and getting 3g more protein and 2g more fiber. And the Lavash is bigger than the flour tortillas you would be getting too! Check out my wrap recipes in the FDL Book of Recipes 2.0 using these Lavash Breads if you want a super easy and tasty recipes using these bad boys along with 160+ other macro friendly recipes!

Mac & Cheese Wrap

Other Macro Friendly options for Wraps/Tortillas are:

  • ​Flatout Flatbreads: 100 Calories, 17g Carbs, 2.5g Fat, 9g Protein, 8g Fiber
  • Le Bandarita Tortillas: 70 Calories, 15g Carbs, 2.5g Fat, 5g Protein, 9g Fiber
  • Mission Extra Thin Corn Tortillas: 40 Calories, 8g Carbs, 0.5g Fat, 1g Protein

Because I used the Flatout Flatbreads instead of a typical flour tortillas, I was able to save some carbs that I was able to use for the mac and cheese that I added to these bad boys!

Breads:

Natures Own Butter Bread vs. Pepperidge Farm Multi Grain Bread

  • ​Natures Own Butter Bread: 60 calories, 12g carbs, 1g fat, 3g protein
  • Pepperidge Farm Multi-Grain Bread: 120 cals, 22g carbs, 2g fat, 4g protein

French Toast Breakfast Burger

So most people would think that the multi grain bread would be "healthier" but as you've learned reading my material, the real epidemic that is killing our country is excess calorie consumption. So the butterbread reigns supreme here because you could eat 2 slices of that bread for the price of 1 of the multi grain. So if you were making a sandwich with the butterbread, 2 slices would give you 120 calories while 2 slices of the gulti grain would give you 240 calories! I'm going with the butterbread! And because of this, I can use 2 slices to make a beautiful French Toast Burger under 30g carbs! If I would've had with 2 slices of the multi grain, I would've had 44g carbs just from the bread!

Other Macro Friendly Bread Options:

  • ​Sara Lee 45 Cal Bread: 45 Calories, 10g carbs, 0.5g fat, 2.5g protein
  • Natures Own 40 cal bread: 40 calories, 9g carbs, 0.5g fat, 2.5g protein
  • White Cheddar Rice Cakes: 45 cals, 8g carbs, .5g fat, 1g protein

Cherry Pie Cheesecake Chocolate Crunch Rice Cake!

Rice Cakes:

Plain Rice Cake vs. Bagel

  • ​Quaker Plain Rice Cake: 30 cals, 7g carbs, 0g fat, 1g protein
  • Pepperidge Farm Plain Bagel: 260 cals, 54g carbs, 1g fat, 9g protein

So by substituting in a 2 rice cakes instead of the standard bagel, you would save 200 cals and 40g carbs! Even if you chose 2 chocolate crunch rice cakes, then you would be still saving 140 cals and 30g carbs! You could also substitute one of the lighter bread options above as an alternative too!

#LeaningTowerOfRiceCakes

Other flavors of rice cakes:

  • ​Plain: 30 calories, 7g carbs, 0g fat, 1g protein
  • White Cheddar: 40 cals, 8g carbs, 0.5g fat, 1g protein
  • Buttered Popcorn: 35 cals, 8g carbs, 0g fat, 1g protein
  • Apple Cinnamon: 50 cals, 11g carbs, 0g fat, 1g protein
  • Caramel Corn: 50 cals, 11g carbs, 0g fat, 1g protein
  • Chocolate Crunch: 60 cals, 12g carbs, 1g fat, 1g protein

White Cheddar Chicken #RiceCakeSandwich

Cream Cheese:

Fruity Pebble Cheesecake Frosting on top!

Fat Free Cream Cheese vs Full Fat Cream Cheese

  • ​Fat Free Cream Cheese: 25 calories, 2g carbs, 0g fat, 4g protein
  • Full Fat Cream Cheese: 100 cals, 1g carbs, 9g fat, 2g protein

So even though there serving size is the same and both taste pretty identical, you would be saving 70 calories, and 9g fat if you go with the fat free version rather than the full fat. I'm all about value with my macros and honestly, they both tastes exactly the same to me. I use way more than 1 serving of cream cheese too to and calories start to really add up if you were to go with the full fat version.

Homemade Starbucks Chocolate Vanilla Swirl Protein Frappe for under 100 Cals!

Milk:

Unsweetened Almond Milk vs. 2% Milk

  • Unsweetened Vanilla Almond Milk: 30 cals, 2.5g fat, 1g carbs, 1g fat
  • 2% Milk: 120 cals, 12g carbs, 5g fat, 8g protein

​Cheese:

Fat Free Cheese vs. Full Fat Cheese

  • ​Fat Free Cheese: 30 cals, 2g carbs, 0g fat, 8g protein 
  • Full Fat Cheese: 110 cals, 1g carbs, 9g fat, 7g protein

My Low Fat Mac & Cheese!

Greek Yogurt:

Dannon Light and Fit Vanilla Greek Yogurt vs. Chobani Vanilla Greek Yogurt

  • ​1 Cup (225g) Dannon Light and Fit: 120 cals, 13g carbs, 0g fat, 18g protein
  • 1 Cup (225g) Chobani: 180 cals, 25g carbs, 0g fat, 20g protein

Other macros friendly greek yogurt options:

  • ​Plain Non-Fat Greek Yogurt: 120 cals, 9g carbs, 0g fat, 23g protein
  • Carb Master Vanilla Yogurt: 60 cals, 4g carbs, 1.5g fat, 8g protein. Wish we had these in florida :(((((((

Ice Cream:

Edy's Slow Churned 1/2 the Fat Cookie Dough Ice Cream vs. Ben & Jerry's Cookie Dough Ice Cream

  • ​Edy's Cookie Dough: 130 calories, 3.5g fat, 22g carbs, 2g protein
  • Ben & Jerry's: 280 calories, 15g fat, 32g carbs, 4g protein

Protein Fruity Pebble Waffle Ice Cream Sandwich!

For the same 1/2 cup serving, Edy's will give you half the amount of calories as the Ben & Jerry's. What does this mean!? Well that means that you can eat twice as much Edy's for the same price of calories as it would cost for the Ben & Jerry's! Like Buy 1 Get 1 Free! Who doesn't want more ice cream. Lets be honest here!

​Because I chose a more macro friendly ice cream, I was able to make this most epic protein waffle ice cream sandwich for under 200 cals!

Other Macro Friendly Ice Cream Choices:

  • ​Publix Low Fat Vanilla Frozen Yogurt: 100 calories, 1.5g fat, 18g carbs, 2g protein
  • Halo Top
  • Arctic Zero: 75 calories, 2g fat, 11g carbs, 2g protein. (They have 35 calories options as well. Beware though, these need a bunch of sprucing up with toppings to make them tasty)
  • Breyers 1/2 The Fat Slow Churned Ice Cream

​Ice Cream Bars:

Weight Watchers Giant Chocolate Fudge Ice Cream Bar vs. Magnum Double Chocolate Bar

  • ​Weight Watchers Bar: 100 calories, 1.5g fat, 20g carbs, 4g protein
  • Magnum Bar: 340 calories, 21g fat, 34g carbs, 4g protein (thats insane…..)

Other Macro Friendly Ice Cream Bar Choices:

  • ​Weight Watchers Giant Cookies and Cream Bar: 130 calories, 4g fat, 24g carbs, 4g protein
  • Yasso Greek Yogurt Chocolate Fudge Bar: 80 calories, 0g fat, 15g carbs, 6g protein (pick any flavor of these and they will be macro friendly)

Vegetables: No comparison needed here! Vegetables are amazing and so underutilized. 

  • Green Vegetables are the most macro friendly. They give you the most bang for you buck. These include:
    • Broccoli, Kale, Spinach, Peppers, Green Beans, Asparagus, Cucumber, Zucchini, Lettuce, Mustard Greens, Celery, Brussel Sprouts, and many more. 
  • Non Green Veggies (calories content a bit higher but not much): Carrots, Onions, Squash, Mushrooms, and Tomatoes. 

Low Carb Burrito Bowl!

And the main objection I'll get is, "But Zach, vegetables taste like crap!" My response, "Of course they taste like crap when you steam them! Never steam your veggies ever again!" 

  • ​Pro-tip: Just throw in a pan and sauté them up with salt, pepper and any other seasoning you'd like. I like to use creole seasoning as well to give it a kick. If you have some fats to spare, use some butter or olive oil but if you don't, just use some non stick olive oil spray on the pan which will help add some flavor as well.

Fruits:

Greek Yogurt topped with Blueberries, Strawberries, and some Fruity/Cocoa Pebbles 🙂

Strawberries vs. Banana

  • Strawberries per 100g: 30 calories, 0g fat, 7g carbs, 1g protein
  • Banana per 100g: 90 calories, 0g fat, 23g carbs, 1g protein

Other Macro Friendly Fruits:

  • ​Blueberries per 100g: 50 calories, 0g fat, 14g carbs, 0g protein
  • Raspberries per 100g: 50 calories, 0g fat, 14g carbs, 0g protein

Used 96/4 Lean Ground Beef with this burger!

Whole Protein Sources: The Leaner the Better. Not all are created equal

1. 93/7 Lean Ground Beef vs. 70/30 Lean Ground Beef

  • ​93/7 Lean Ground Beef: 170 calories, 8g fat, 0g carbs, 23g protein
  • 70/30 Lean Ground Beef: 380 calories, 32g fat, 0g carbs, 16g protein

That should look insane to you…. You are eating the same amount of meat, but you are getting 210 more calories, 24g fat extra and 7g protein less. You are getting ripped off! That's the equivalent of you going to a Kia dealership and them trying to sell you a Sorento for $100,000! 

I apologize if you drive a Kia….. It just fit too perfectly with my analogy 🙂

Great Lean Meat Choices: 

  • ​Boneless, Skinless Chicken Breast
  • 93/7 Lean Ground Turkey or Pork:
  • Bison
  • Turkey Bacon

Egg Whites or Egg Substitute vs. Whole Eggs​

Cheese Pizza Frittata!

  • ​All Whites Egg Whites: 20 calories, 0g fat, 0g carbs, 5g protein
  • Whole Large Egg: 60 calories, 5g fat, 0g carbs, 6g protein

Yes Whole Eggs are fantastic and are a great source of dietary fat but they don't give the ratio of protein to fat that is to warrant having more than 2-3 in a meal. For example, if my macros call for me to hit 200g protein and 80g fat per day. That's more than a 2:1 ratio of protein to fat so if you tried to get 42g of protein from whole eggs, you'd be consuming 7 whole eggs and getting 35g fat along with it which would total 420 calories just from eggs. But if you had just 2 whole eggs and 6 egg whites, then you'd be saving 25g fat and 225 calories! And you'd be eating the same amount of volume! My Cheese Pizza Frittata above is a perfect example of this. I take 8 servings of egg whites or egg beaters and along with my veggies to make this epic frittata! This allows me to keep the protein high and the fats low so I can hit dem macros 🙂

Chunk Light Tuna in Water (1 can) : 100 calories, 0g fat, 0g carbs, 22g protein

Homemade Albacore Tuna Burger!

Tuna is such a convenient and great protein source that I use a lot! If you want to know how to make this Homemade Albacore Tuna Burger, click here!

Rice:

Brown Rice vs Cauliflower Rice

Low Carb Burrito Bowl!

  • ​1 Cup Brown Rice Cooked: 220 cals, 1.5g fat, 46g carbs, 4.5g protein
  • 1 Cup Cauliflower Rice Cooked: 30 calories, 0g fat, 5g carbs, 2g protein

So you could have 7 cups of the cauliflower rice to equal the 1 cup of brown rice! Thats crazy! And they taste exactly the same. And if you only had that 1 cup of cauliflower rice, you are saving 190 calories and 41g carbs!

Pasta Products:

Low Carb Spaghetti & Stuffed Meatballs!

1. Spaghetti Squash vs. Spaghetti​

  • ​Spaghetti Squash (1 cup cooked): 40 calories, 0g fat, 9g carbs, 1g protein
  • Ronzoni Healthy Harvest 100% Whole Grain Spaghetti (1 cup cooked): 180 calories, 2g fat, 41g carbs, 7g protein

So you could literally have 4.5 servings of Spaghetti Squash to equal the amount of calories in 1 measly serving of the Ronzoni Spaghetti. 

Other Macro Friendly Pasta Sources:

  • ​Shirataki Noodles per 1 cup cooked: 20 calories, 0g fat, 5g carbs, 0g protein

Reese's Peanut Butter Oreo Protein Crunch Wrap!

Nut Butters:

1. PB2 vs. Regular Peanut Butter​

  • ​PB2 (per 36g = 3 servings): 135 calories 4.5g fat, 15g carbs, 15g protein
  • Skippy All Natural Smooth Peanut Butter (per 36g): 240 calories, 19g fat, 10g carbs, 5g protein.

Same volume but saving you a whopping 15g fat and 90 calories while giving you an extra 10g protein. Can't beat that! 

And for example, this Reese's Peanut Butter Oreo Protein Crunch Wrap had 2 servings of PB2 in my low fat peanut butter recipe, which equates to 90 calories, 3g fat, 10g carbs, and 10g protein. If I would've used regular peanut butter, that would've equated to 200 calories, 16g fat, 6g carbs, 8g protein. Huge difference! ​

Popcorn vs. Potato Chips​

  • ​Popcorn (1 cup popped): 30 calories, 0.5g fat, 6g carbs, 1g protein
  • Lay's Baked Potato (1 cup): 135 calories, 2.5g fat, 25g carbs, 2g protein

Sauces:

1. On The Border Queso vs. Regular Queso

  • On The Border Monterey Jack Queso (2 tbsp, 34g): 45 calories, 3g fat, 4g carbs, 1g protein
  • Standard Queso (per 2 tbsp, 34g): 120 calories, 11g fat, 3g carbs, 2g protein

2. Sugar Free Pancake Syrup vs. Regular Pancake Syrup​

  • ​Cary's Sugar Free Low Calorie Pancake Syrup: 20 calories, 0g fat, 5g carbs, 0g protein
  • Aunt Jemima All Natural Maple Syrup: 210 calories, 0g fat, 52g carbs, 0g protein

Ok that's just absurd…. I honestly can't even tell the different between the two and to think that I'd be wasting 190 calories and 47g carbs on some nonsense like that. And it can get even more ugly if you use more than 1 serving which almost everyone does! I know I sure do.

I personally use Walden Farms Pancake Syrup because it is 0 calories and tastes amazing! 

3. Bolthouse Farms Ranch vs Hidden Valley Full Fat Ranch

  • ​Bolthouse Farms: 45 calories, 3g fat, 3g carbs, 1g protein
  • Hidden Valley: 145 calories, 15g fat, 2g carbs, 0g protein

Other Macro Friendly Sauces:

Cereal:

1. Puffed Kamut vs. Quaker Natural Granola

  • ​Puffed Kamut per 1/2 cup: 0g fat, 5g carbs, 1g protein
  • Quaker All Natural Granola per 1/2 cup: 225 calories, 6g fat, 40g carbs, 5g protein

So most people use granola or cereal as a topping on their yogurt or ice cream for that added CRUNCH! But they don't know that you can get that same CRUNCH while saving 200 calories, 35g carbs, and 6g fat! That granola was a sneaky bandit of your macros 🙂

My Puffed Cereal Game Is Strong!

Other Macro Friendly Cereals:

  • Any ​Puffed Cereal: Puffed Rice, Puffed Millet, Puffed Corn. 
  • Pro tip: Add a mix of regular cereal for the flavor with the puffed cereal which will provide the volume. So now you have the best of both world while not emptying the macro bank!

Sugar Free Jello:

There really is no comparison with Jello so I'll just give you the facts! It's such a game changer for when on poverty macros:

No Bake Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Protein Jello Cheesecake!

  • ​Sugar Free Jello: 20 cals, 0g fat, 0g carbs, 4g protein

You can literally top your jello with anything that you'd like. Greek yogurt, Ice cream, Protein Pudding, Peanut Butter, etc. The possibilities are endless!

Or if you are crazy like me, you can make a the amazing No Bake Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Protein Jello Cheesecake where the jello goes on top! This things unreal........

Soda:

Diet Mountain Dew vs. Regular Mountain Dew (Made with real sugar…lol)

  • ​Diet Mountain Dew: Virtually Zero Calories
  • Regular Mountain Dew per 16oz bottle: 240 calories, 0g fat, 62 carbs, 0g protein

And before I get harassed with comments about how Diet Soda is worse than full sugar soda, click this link to get all the info you need about why Diet Soda has to be consumed in extreme excess to have negative effects in the body.  They gave the amount of artificial sweeteners that is in a can of soda to rats and derived the negative effects to be equivalent of if a human were to drink the same amount. Well first off, that is a terrible conclusion of the information derived in the study because rats are so small relative to a human so this amount of artificial sweeteners would be comparable to us consuming diet sodas in the 10+ range per day! 

Sweeteners:

1. Sugar Free/Fat Free Pudding Mix:

  • I literally use this stuff for everything. I put it in my plain greek yogurt to give it flavor. Also add it to almost anything I want to add some thickness and flavor to.

​2. Stevia: Of course stevia is a wonderful option instead of the typical sugar. No comparison needed here.

Same Meal, Different Outcome

A tale of two burgers

Ingredients for our Buffalo Ranch Burgers:

  • ​Burger Buns
  • Ground Beef
  • Cheese
  • Lettuce
  • Tomato
  • Buffalo Sauce
  • Ranch

Burger #1: The Macro Friendly Burger

  • ​Arnold Multigrain Sandwich Thins: 100 calories, 1g fat, 21g carbs, 4g protein
  • 4oz Wal Mart 93/7 Lean Ground Beef: 170 calories, 8g fat, 0g carbs, 23g protein
  • 1/2oz Kraft Fat Free Sharp cheddar cheese: 25 calories, 0g fat, 1g carb, 4.5g protein
  • Shredded Lettuce: 4 calories, 0g fat, 1g carbs, 0g protein
  • 1 slice tomato: 8 calories, 0g fat, 2g carbs, 0g protein
  • Franks Red Hot Buffalo Sauce: 0 calories
  • 1 tbsp Bolthouse Farms Ranch: 25 cals, 1.5g fat, 1.5g carbs, 1g protein
Macros for Macro Friendly Burger: 368 calories, 10.5g fat, 26.5g carbs, 32.5g protein

Burger #2: The Un-Macro Friendly Burger

  • ​Pepperidge Farms White Hamburger Roll: 140 calories, 2g fat, 26g carbs, 6g protein
  • 4oz Wal Mart 70/30 Lean Ground Beef: 380 calories, 32g fat, 0g, 16g protein
  • 1/2 oz Sharp Cheddar Cheese: 55 calories, 4.5g fat, 1g carbs, 3.5g protein
  • Shredded Lettuce: 4 calories, 0g fat, 1g carbs, 0g protein
  • 1 Slice tomato: 8 calories, 0g fat, 2g carbs, 0g protein
  • 1 tbsp Buffalo Wild Wings Buffalo Sauce: 50 calories, 5g fat, 2g carbs, 0g protein
  • 1 tbsp Hidden Valley Ranch: 75 calories, 7.5g fat, 1g carb, 0g protein
Macros for Un-Macro Friendly Burger: 712 calories, 51g fat, 33g carbs, 25g protein

Your mind should be absolutely baffled right now….. The same exact burger but one with twice as many calories and 5 times as much fat… 

If you have ever eaten out at a standard burger joint, this is what you would be getting. Do you see how you are getting robbed on your macros! You could have the same burger for half the amount of calories, and with more protein! ​

How do you find these macro friendly tools!?

Step 1: Pick something you eat on a daily basis. This could be literally anything from a protein source to just a sauce that you use. Just pick one.

Step 2: Write down the nutritional information before you go to the grocery store and then try and find the same thing but with less macros.

Step 3: Do this every time you go to the grocery store ​and try to find at least 1 new macro friendly substitute to add to your tool kit.

Finding the Good Medium​

It all comes back to hitting your macros​. In my add my first flexible dieting post link, I introduced the 80-20 rule, that 80% of our diet should come from minimally processed, high quality, nutrient dense foods. Then 20% is discretionary calories that we can use of lower quality sources of foods. Covered this also in my interview with world renowned Precision Nutrition Coach Ryan Andrews where he agreed that these discretionary calories are highly underutilized and are what make a diet sustainable. 

Just because something is low-fat, does not mean it is low quality. If someone were to eat the full fat version of all foods, then they would be taking in wayyyy too much dietary fat. I for example when cutting am around 45-50g fat per day relative to around 200-300g carbs. I am a strength athlete and train hard so carbs allow me to train hard. Too much dietary fat makes me feel slow and sluggish because of how slow it is digested so I prefer carbs. 

Now if you are someone who does more low intensity training or prefers a higher fat diet, then you would most definitely use more full fat versions of foods and more of the lower carb versions as well. I am the opposite so I am able to utilize more of the moderate to high carb options and the lower to moderate fat options. Like I promote, it all comes down to your lifestyle and your individual needs. There is not one-size-fits-all diet. We are all different and respond differently to ratios of macronutrients.​

But never forget the fact that it all comes back to calories in vs calories out. If you need to lose weight, then you need to create a caloric deficit. So if you are eating the full fat version and not the fat free or even low fat version, you are still eating the same food volume, but eating up to 9-10 times more calories. That adds up very quickly and can be the difference between you gaining 10lbs and losing 10lbs in the span of a 1-2 months. ​

Your Homework

Check out my FDL Book of Recipes 2.0 where I have all the recipes that were in this post along with 160+ other macro friendly/life saving recipes! Just click the link here and if you use the discount code "MacroFriendly" you will get $5 off your copy!

This book will put you on the fast track to becoming a Macro Magician! 

Learning how to make macro friendly meals is such an awesome skill to have in your flexible dieting skill set. It allows you to stay sane even if calories are low, maintain the results that took so long to achieve and live a lifestyle that you desire!

I am always looking for more awesome macro friendly foods to add to the toolkit so in the comments below, let me know which ones you use from my toolkit and if you have any that I should add to mine!

And if you have yet to join the Flexible Dieting Lifestyle Community, then make sure to subscribe below so I can send you everything you need to become a Flexible Dieting Magician!

As always, ​

Zach​

​P.S. Subscribe to my YouTube channel and follow me on Instagram if you guys have yet to do so! I post a ton of awesome (well at least it is to me) content to those platforms on a daily basis that you'll be missing out on! Click on the links and do it now!

What Is The Best Diet For You!? Interview With Ryan Andrews of Precision Nutrition

Do you ever feel like every time you start a new diet, you have to flip your lifestyle upside down in order to adhere to the diets rules!? If you are like most people then that answer is a big YES….

Well let me introduce you to Ryan Andrews

His endless list of credentials 

  1. Registered Dietitian
  2. Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist (CSCS)
  3. Possesses a masters degree in Nutrition as well another masters in Exercise Physiology
  4. Trained and worked at the prestigious John Hopkins Medical Center
  5. Writer and Coach for Precision Nutrition​ the past 6 years (click on link or search precision nutrition on google and you will be blown away by how awesome of a company they are!)
  6. Author of the amazing book Drop The Fat Act & Live Lean

How Ryan has helped me

Ryan has hundreds of amazing articles all over the internet with unbelievable content that I've read which has helped me tremendously in my growth as a coach. But not only that, I am a Precision Nutrition L1 Exercise and Sports Nutrition coach and am currently in the PN L2 Nutrition Certification which is a year long certification. He is head of both of those certification and I have had the pleasure of learning so much from him over the past year and a half. 

So I asked Ryan if he'd hop on a call with me to answer a few questions for my readers because I wanted you to have the same opportunity as I have learning from one of the most respected experts in the field! So lets get on with the interview!

P.S. We chatted for a long time and went way past our original planned time but that means more content for you guys! This is a long one but hope you all enjoy it!​

What We Cover

  • ​Why your morning routine can be life changing
  • Meeting you are your level and why most diets fail because they neglect this
  • Flexible Dieting and Precision Nutrition
  • Tackling the obesity epidemic
  • Discretionary calories: what are they and why we need them
  • Ryan's nationally ranked bodybuilding career
  • How Flexible Dieting could've saved his career
  • His 180 in training and nutrition 
  • Pro tips for vegetarians
  • Fiber: why its important and how to get more of it
  • Diet Soda: Is it bad for you!?
  • Ryan's unique gifts to make a difference in the world

The Interview

Me: Ryan! How ya doin!?

Ryan: Doing really well! Looking forward to talking with ya!

Me: Well before we start, I wanted to just say thanks first and foremost for taking the time to let a lowly peasant like me interview someone of your caliber. I truly appreciate it.

Ryan: I think it's awesome. I find interviews fascinating and I'm really looking forward to this one today.

Me: I look up to all the amazing things you've done and the journey you've had thus far. I am relatively young in the field and know that success leaves clues, and want to not only learn as much as I can from you but want my readers to learn a ton as well! So lets get this interview started.

Question #1: Success Leaves Clues

Me: I love to study successful people. not matter the field, because success does leave clues. This lead me to become with fascinated with their morning routines and what they do the first 60-90 minutes of their days. I noticed that almost all of the most successful people in the world make this a priority. I know personally by making my morning sacred, I have transformed my productivity and also my life. It allows me to be proactive and attack my day rather than being reactive and putting out fires as I go. Was curious to hear about what your morning routine looks like now and whether it has changed over the years.

Ryan: ​Yea, I've long been a morning person and I think the morning is a unique, calming time and a perfect time for you to set the stage for the day. My routine has changed over the years. For many years, my morning routine was I would wake up, have some tea and then do my movement for the day. That would be my strength training, yoga, conditioning, or something like that for the first 1-2 hours of my day. The last 3-5 years has changed that a good bit because of relationship, priorities, etc. I now start my day with some type of hydration, which could be lemon water, which is good for liver health, to just basic hydration but I don't stress over it if I don't have any lemons. Then I like to do some basic 10-15 minutes of mobility and breathing exercises which I've seen has been extremely beneficial for my lumbar spine. Years and years of heavy lifting and excessive extension of my lumbars did not make my back very happy. So starting my day with these exercises allows me to get my hips and back in a good position and also like you said, it is a great way to relax, into a good head space and get my day organized. Maybe throw on a podcast or music while doing this and then I do some writing. 

Me: That's awesome! I love that our routines are very very similar. I usually wake up around 5:30 and go for about a 15-20 minutes walk to get some blood flow and just get out into nature. I'll usually throw on a podcast during this to start my day with some continuing education. Then I'll get back and do about 10 minutes of mobility such as the couch stretch that Kelly Starrett made famous. I notice that when I open up my hip flexors to start my day, my hips feel amazing and am ready to do whatever the day asks of me. So many people go from a curled up position while sleeping to a sitting position at work which both cause our hip flexors to become so tight causing host of problems such as low back pain. 

Questions #2: Meeting You at Your Level

Me: I recently read a great quote from you about how you work with clients and wanted to touch on it so my readers can truly see why I wanted to interview you so bad. You said that "you work with your clients individual needs, step by step and meet them where they're at." I loved this quote because so many professionals in the field do the opposite of this. They thrust their philosophies on the client without the slightest input on whether the client thinks it will be sustainable. Would love your feed back on this.

Ryan: I think I've only accepted this over time as I've gained more experience that this is the best approach. I've worked with clients anywhere from people who live in downtown Baltimore, non-profits in suburbs, low-income families, professional athletes, bodybuilders, generally healthy people, etc. I've worked with almost every type of client and I think when you are exposed to all kinds of clients and get a glimpse of what their life is like and what they are experiencing, you quickly learn that if you just have one point of view that you force on everybody, it will resonate with very few of them. If I say, "Hey I think everyone should eat minimally processed, organic food and thats the only way to do it." Well if I am working with someone from Baltimore who is in a lower income bracket, my message is going to go right over there head. I'm going to do no good for that person. If I meet them where they are at and understand their income bracket, I can think of what types of foods will they have access to, what foods do they like, what did they grow up with, what is their culture about, what do their goals. You have to get the full history and picture of that client before you make a recommendation. There are so many factors that go into our food choices and it is so easy to forget about them and just become closed off to all those things.

Me: I agree 100%. I am of the belief that the perfect diet is not synonymous with the best diet. You can tell somebody that they need to follow this perfect diet but if it not sustainable, then you are just getting temporary results. Finding that good medium that meets someone where they are at, and creating a plan that takes into account all the factors that you outlined earlier is the key to making lasting change. You definitely hammered home on that.

Question #3: Flexible Dieting and PN

Me: As you know, I am a proponent of flexible dieting (iifym). It is simply the tracking of macronutrients in order to achieve a certain body composition goal. You hit your macronutrient goals that are specific to your goals. I promote doing this with 80% of your calories coming from high quality, minimally processed, nutrient dense foods while leaving 20% to use on lower quality sources.  My teaching and understanding of flexible dieting is that it covers the whole spectrum. You get the understanding of serving sizes, caloric balance, macronutrient balance, food quality balance, and you get the healthy relationship with food and no longer see eating lower quality sources of food as cheating as long as it fits in the context on your diet. I think all this is perfectly in line with the PN model. Would love your opinion on this and the PN philosophy.

Ryan: I think the good news about nutrition and it is like what you mentioned, there are a lot of ways a person can structure their diet that will promote better health and body composition. I like flexible dieting as another tool and framework people can use in order to achieve their goals. If they can feel better mentally where they don't feel like they are restricted and ​have flexibility with their food choices, I am all in favor of that. It sounds good to me.

Me: It's something that has personally changed my life. I like to use the analogy that we all have been taught how to budget our finances but have never understood how to do that with our nutrition. It lets people learn on their own what they want to spend their calories. It's like going to the store and looking for deals like BOGO where you can get as much things you want while spending as little as you have to. It's the same process with our nutrition. If we have our budget of macronutrients, we soon realize that were wasting a ton of our budget of foods that were not giving us the value for the chunk they took out of our budget. For example, If I take carb intake goal for the day is 150g then me eating 70g of carbs in a pop tart is not the best use of my budget. That just wiped out half my carbs for the day and gave me no fiber. It's like buying a brand new corvette when you make $30,000 a year. This realization is really fun to watch come into fruition. We soon find foods that give us that are macro friendly and give us the best bang for our buck. It becomes fun.​

Question #4: Tackling Obesity

Me: Next, I wanted to cover the ever growing obesity epidemic ​and get your opinion of what you think is the biggest problem were are facing when tackling this massive problem. I personally think that this problem is our overconsumption of calories. Not just from the standpoint that we gain weight from excess calories but also our lack of awareness of the caloric content of the foods we eat. 

Ryan:​ I really love this question. My wife gets bothered with me because I am always talking to her about my latest theories of the problems of the world! But seriously, I think the fundamental things that is going wrong in North America is regards to eating and obesity is that we are completely disconnected from food. And from this, I think this disconnect leads to a low level respect for food and when we don't respect something, we tend to abuse it just like you said about over consuming calories. We have all this nutrition science and frameworks that are emerging as well as so many great coaches which is fantastic but at the simplest level, there is this lack of baseline respect for food. They don't know where it comes from, they've never been to a farm, they don't know how it grows. Or maybe that don't even prepare their own food at all. They don't cook anything, they don't know how to put together a meal, or even shop at the grocery store. I always encourage people to connect more with food, learn more about food and get more involved in the process. This will lead to a greater respect and thus help with the overconsumption/abuse of calories. I think we are on the same page.

Me: I agree without a doubt. If you have a foundational understanding that we don't take food for granted and food is a gift to us then our definition of food will definitely change. The definition of food has changed dramatically over the years. You look at many of the highly processed foods that are now considered food but 100 years ago they didn't even exist. It's pretty wild to see how this has evolved over time. I mean we have companies that are being paid billions of dollars to genetically modify foods to elicit a drug like response in our brains so that we eat more of their product! 

Ryan: If somebody is just going along with what everyone else is eating and eat the foods that are in commercials or magazines, they are in for a problematic life and probably have excess body fat.

Question #5: ​Discretionary Calories

Me: I want to go back to the 80-20 rule. A lot of diets or people have this "all in" mentality and don't believe in this principle of eating. I personally believe that when calories are held constant, that 80% is a good baseline for our high quality, minimally processed, nutrient dense foods while leaving the 20% for what I call discretionary calories. In the 80%, you are getting in your vegetables, micronutrients, fibers, etc. and if you hit all these requirements, using 20% of your calories to have flexibility and eat those lower quality foods, is a perfectly fine approach. I think it is actually necessary in order to restore a good relationship with food and eliminate that feeling of guilt if you eat those lower quality foods. Would love your opinion on this and whether you think the 80-20 is a good approach.

Ryan: Discretionary ​calories are something everyone forgets about and do not take advantage of them! Everyone imagines that they have to be 100% spot on with nutrition everyday. Then they do it for a few days, go into a tailspin, and its the opposite and they are 100% off. Yeah I think that if the majority of your nutritional intake is solid and it aligns with what you need to be doing, then great! I mean 10-20% of your food intake can be just those discretionary calories. Its fascinating when looking at other cultures who are long lived and very healthy, you wouldn't look at their diet and think its a perfectly clean diet.  You see foods that are treats, taste good, alcohol, or many other things we wouldn't consider to be healthy. So I definitely think there is the enjoyment factor and the social factor where you might be having a meal with someone with these discretionary foods and you want to enjoy it together. Nonetheless, discretionary calories are not taken advantage of enough and if you allow yourself this flexibility on a regular basis then it makes the idea of a complete food bender not that appealing. You are getting the things you crave on regular basis so you are satisfied and don't have that urge to go off the deep end.

Me: Yes! So many people think that if they allow themselves the ability to have these foods in moderation when they crave it, that they will over consume. So I tell them to try it and see how they do. 10 times out of 10 they come back smiling at the fact that they were able to satisfy their craving and not binge! It's super amazing to see. Once they understand that if they fit it into the context of their macros/budget, they don't have to worry about any adverse effects. Life changing moment for most people. I get goosebumps talking about it honestly because of all the people I've seen change their once terrible relationship with food to one that is amazing! It allows them to live the life they want to live!

Question #6:​ Ryan The Bodybuilder

Me: I wanted to touch on the fact that you were once a nationally ranked bodybuilder up until you were 20 years old! Actually saw a picture the other day of you and Arnold from back during your bodybuilding days. Pretty freaking cool! A lot of my readers focus on bodybuilding/physique type goals and just wanted to touch on what your diet and training looked like back then to become nationally ranked.

Ryan: Yeah competitive bodybuilding was a different world. I definitely would not be where I am today if it wasn't for bodybuilding pushing me to learn about nutrition, exercise, health, dedication, discipline, improving body composition and quality of life. ​In general, leading up to a show, I would start my prep 16 weeks out.  A pretty typical day would look like me waking up in the morning and doing some low level cardio for 30-60 minutes. This would usually be like an incline treadmill walk. And I would do that then have my first meal of the day. My meals were small and was having about 6 per day. My meals were super simple and my food bank was between 8-12 food choices. Protein sources, carbs sources, some veggies, a few fat sources and thats about it. The most I could minimize any strange reaction to food whether something like water retention, the better. So I'd have a very basic diet. Then I'd go back to the gym later on that day and hit my weight training then come home make my meals for the next day and then go to sleep. Super basic but it got the job done. 

Question #7:​ Sustainability Is Key

Me: It’s amazing how much training and nutrition has evolved even since then. So many things that we once thought were facts have changed such as the thermic effect of food and eating small frequent meals to speed up metabolism to now we have the complete opposite of that is Intermittent Fasting. Science is just proving that there are soo many different ways to reach the same goal. It’s just finding the one that is the most sustainable for you and your lifestyle. And in the training side, we have bodybuilders, instead of using body part splits, are instead training like powerlifters and using all rep ranges and protocols and putting a surpreme emphasis on strength. And then you have the powerlifters who look like bodybuilders now and are stronger and leaner than they’ve ever been! And then you have your crossfitters who look like bodybuilders and are strong as hell like Olympic weight lifters and powerlifters! Its friggin crazy and exciting!

So what I am getting at is, if all this new information was around back then and you realized that you didn’t need to be so rigid with your diet and that there were many different protocols you could use in order to reach your end destination, which was a optimal physique on stage, do you think you would’ve continued on longer in your bodybuilding career? Also, whether you think flexible dieting would’ve helped as well with your relationship with food.

Ryan: It might have! Looking back, I had a coach and he gave me what to eat and I posted it on my fridge and that was what I ate. There was no flexibility, there was no wiggle room, it was very regimented and that did not lead to a very good relationship with food. This never felt like something that was sustainable and something I wanted to do for the rest of my life. All I could think was that I couldn’t wait for this to be over! I’m not blaming my trainer or anything but I think if it was presented or he knew about a different way and it became more flexible/sustainable, it would’ve been cool to see what the results could’ve been then and for the long term.

Question #8: Ryan's Training/Diet Now

Me: What’s your training and diet look like now that you are not the young buck you used to be!? I’m sure everyone is going to be surprised when they hear your answer

Ryan: Yeah its funny, I always think that if 17 or 18 year old Ryan knew what 33 year old ryan was going to do, he probably would’ve made fun of him! Things have changed a lot thought. My workouts I try to focus more on what I can do to feel my best and functioning well rather than just the pure strength and hypertrophy aspect I was focusing on before. I’m really balanced and do a little bit of strength, conditioning, yoga work, low intensity stuff. I am a huge fan of just moving in any type of way. I’m a huge fan of If I can walk somewhere I will, I take the stairs if I can, ride the bike somewhere if I can. Overall, I feel great and my goals have significantly changed. I just want to be fully functional, have no pain and just feel great. 

In terms of nutrition, I eat a plant based diet now. That was more of a shift in terms of my values in life rather than just a health thing. Was a necessary shift in my life.

Question #9: Pro Tips For Vegetarians

Me: I do have some readers who are vegetarian and I promised that I would ask about getting enough protein via a vegetarian diet in regard to achieving body composition goals. Just wanted to see if you had any tips for my vegetarians out there trying to up their protein intake or any best practices that they can take advantage of?

Ryan: I do have a couple things: 

Number 1 being adding in the whole category of beans and legumes into your diet. They are a plant eaters main source of protein. I encourage those who are eating a plant based diet to get at least 1-1.5 cups of beans and/or legumes a day.

Number 2 would be going low fat on a vegetarian diet. I see thing a lot but it is leaving a lot on the table in regards to health and performance. Things like nuts and seeds will not only help with getting your protein in but also with helping you keep a good hormonal balance as well.

Number 3: If you are still struggling to hit your protein after those initial two tips, then checking out a great plant based protein supplements that can help you reach your protein goals would be a great would help. Just focus on those 3 points and your should have no problem hitting your protein.

Question #10: The Fiber Epidemic

Me: Next up, I wanted to cover fiber intake and how as a country, we are on average taking in way less than we should be? There is definitely a fiber epidemic and on average this intake is between 10-15g per day which is absurdly low. It’s crazy for me to understand this because I get that much fiber in before 8am. I am constantly having to find ways to hit my carbs without eating too much fiber! I wanted to touch on what are your thoughts on fiber and what is too little and what is too much? Especially with vegetarians, whos diet is made up of foods mostly that are high in fiber.

Ryan: I think you are right on. I always think of fiber as fuel for the bacteria in our gut. In order to maintain optimal gut health, you need to have regular fiber intake.

In regards to too much fiber, I think that is very relative. If you are excessively bloated, then maybe you taking in too much especially if someone is not used to eating that much. If they go from this 10-15g per day American diet to just loading up on a bunch of fiber rich foods, their GI tract is not going to be ready for it. That is just like going from doing no exercise, to doing a 6-7 days a week exhaustive training regime. Your body is going to be broken down. Scaling it up in small doses is the best route and giving your GI tract a chance to get used to the increased fiber would be best. If somebody is struggling to get enough, then just have them eat a cup of cooked beans per day and it meets their minimum level for the day.

And if you are bloated, maybe your diet is too whole foods based and that’s one of the lessons that people need to learn. There is an absolute kick on eating no processed foods and eating all whole foods. Well if somebody is trying to gain weight, they can only eat so many whole foods before they just get full. At that point they might have to utilize processed foods that are lower in fiber. In the end, it comes down to the person and their goals.

Question #11: Diet Soda

Me: I just read an amazing article over at examine.com about diet soda. They covered the amount of diet soda or artificial sweeteners you would have to be consuming in order to cause adverse effects to your health. I wanted to get your opinion on that and whether you think it is better for someone to drink regular soda rather than diet soda. So many peoples rationale is that it is “real sugar” thus it is better for them than the artificial sweeteners in diet soda. You know that I think the root of our problem is caloric excess and drinking regular soda just adds to this.

Ryan: Yes Examine.com has been doing some great work and I know a lot about them. I’ve been back and forth on this topic of artificial sweeteners over the years. I think it kinda comes down to looking at when someone is drinking a beverage or consuming a food, whats the alternative? What are they willing to swap out with that? If someone is drinking a regular coke and something and you get to talking to them and factor in their goals, and they say yea I can do water, then that’s a great alternative. But if they say, “theres no way I could do water but maybe I could switch to a diet soda,” then yes a diet soda might be the best step in the right direction. If it gets someone to take a baby step in the right direction, then maybe it is the best decision to make. If you get into excessive amounts of sugar, artificial sweeteners, both are going to harmful. It’s hard to stay. The other aspect I like to take into consideration is the psychological aspect to artificial sweeteners. This is the same with any pseudo diet foods.. If we know these are engineered to be an alternative version of a cookie, ice cream or soda, we already have it in our head.Then we eat these foods and think that we are not getting any calories. Consumption without consequence? Sign me up. So we end up overeating them and feeling miserable. Plus we don't factor in the consequences that might occur beyond the overconsumption of calories.

Last Question: Our Unique Gift

Me: I know God put us on this earth with unique gifts and talents that we have a duty to harvest in order to make a difference in the world. I have a passion for this topic and could talk about it all day! I just wanted your thought on this and what you think your unique gifts/talents are to make a difference in the world and leave it better than when we got here.

Ryan: I love that question. Think about this so much and I think its to help raise awareness of nutrition. Not just from a personal health standpoint, like how does this food affect my body fat, my health, etc but just raising awareness of where food comes from and how our daily food choices that we all make have these repercussions to farmers, to animals, to the soil, to the environment and all this stuff is influenced by the foods we eat. It is so easy to not be aware or these things and I think it is my purpose to get people talking more about these thing. Getting people moving in a more sustainable direction. The diet we choose for us must be the diet we choose to sustain our planet.

Wrapping up:

Me: I just wanted to say thanks for taking the time to let me interview you even though you are so unbelievably busy. For you to take 45 minutes out of your day to let me interview is truly an honor. Thank you so much for that. I hope all is well and can’t to get this out to my readers because I know they will love this.

Ryan: Anytime my friend! Hope they enjoy it! Keep up the good work.

And That's It!

Hope you all enjoyed that very long, but information packed interview with the world renowned nutritional expert Ryan Andrews​!

What you learned

  1. Starting your day with some type of routine involving hydration, mobility, meditation/reflection, planning ​and most importantly, movement allows you to be ready to attack your day rather than react.
  2. Sustainability is key. You are your own person with your own individual factors that need to be assessed when putting together the best/most sustainable diet for YOU
  3. Obesity is a mix between lack of respect of caloric balance and where our food comes from.
  4. We need to take advantage of discretionary calories so we can make our diet sustainable.
  5. Our training goals change over the years, but high quality movement should always be there.
  6. Awesome tips for you vegetarians on how to hit your protein and fiber.
  7. Diet Soda is not as bad as we once thought. But when over consumed, it is.

​If you did, share it with any of your friends or family so they can take action on improving their quality of life!

In the comments, let me know what questions you'd like to have him answer for the next time I talk to him. He is awesome and would love to answer more of you guys questions!

If you enjoyed this post, join the Flexible Dieting Lifestyle Community and subscribe so I can send you that and much more info to turn you into a Master Flexible Dieter!

Thanks and God Bless!

Zach​

P.S. Friend me on Facebook or follow on Instagram to see all the other awesome stuff I post (well awesome to me..) that doesn't make it to the blog!

The Protein Struggle: How To Hit Your Protein Everyday!

The biggest struggle for most newbie flexible dieters is almost always hitting their protein. You are told you need to hit a certain protein goal for the day but you have no idea how to get there! It seems like you will never be able to hit that goal but with todays post, I am going to make you into a seasoned veteran who hits their protein errday! 

When I first start working with a client, we do our 3-day tracking assessment to see what their typical intake of calories and macros is. I outlined this initial assessment process exactly in a previous post and highly suggest you read that one first if you have yet to do so.

Honestly though, I do not think there has been a time where their protein intake was high enough, so I am always teaching my clients strategies on how to hit the increase protein goals I've given them.

I start by saying, "Alright 'insert name', the first thing we need to do is up our protein intake." And almost always the response I get is, "Ok, so nuts are high in protein right!?" I don't know why nuts have been given this title as high protein but they are far from it! If you search the internet, nuts are always on the list of so called high protein foods but I'm here today to give you the low down on this nonsense!

This post is going to teach you how to strategically hit your protein with ease so you can maximize the benefits to not only your physique but also your health!​

Heres what's on the curriculum for today

  1. Why is protein so darn important? 
  2. High Protein Frauds
  3. What is considered high protein?
  4. How to be strategic with your protein intake
  5. How to fit it into your lifestyle

Why Is Protein So Darn Important!?

The most important macronutrient

Dietary protein is one of the most important factors when improving not only your physique but also your health. 

  • Proteins are made up of amino acids which are essentially the building blocks of life. 
  • Our bodies break down protein we eat into individual amino acids and enter a storage reserve of amino acids that we have circulating in our blood.
    • Think of this storage reserve of amino acids as an all-you-can-eat buffet for your cells, vegas style!
    • This is extremely important because our bodies need these amino acids in order to produce very importantt molecules such as:
      • Enzymes, hormones, neurotransmitters, and antibodies.
      • Without those 4 being produced efficiently, our bodies are going to be playing catch up trying to react to all the needs to our body rather than being proactive and being ready for whatever need our bodies have.
  • Protein can be pulled from our structure tissues (muscles, tendons, organs) if we are in dire need of amino acids but that is not something we want to happen often for long term health.
  • Protein is the jack of all trades.
    • It can be broken down to do the job carbs and fats do but the carbs and fats cannot do the job protein does.
  • Ohh and it helps burn stored body fat as well! Knew that would catch your attention! 
    • Increases level of hormone glucagon which helps to regulate our body fat. Helps body to break down stored glycogen into glucose for body to use.
    • Also, mobilizes adipose tissue (body fat) into free fatty acids (fuel) for our cells! Just think of all that fuel you have sitting around your body! 

Not Enough Protein That's Why!

Are You Eating Enough Protein!?

These questions will help paint the picture

1. Are hungry 1-2 hours after your previous meal? 

2. Are you tired when you shouldn't be!?

3. Are you flabby when you used to be muscular!?

4. Do you feel weak when you lift weights, run, do yoga, or anything strenuous throughout everyday life!?

5. Are you getting injured and not recovering quickly!?

6. Is your hair falling out!? (weird but is an important sign of lack of protein intake.)​

If you answered yes to any of these questions, then you more than likely are not eating enough protein!

I don't think anyone wants to answer yes to any of those questions so let me help you change all those yes' to no's! 

The High Protein Mirage:

​The High Protein Frauds

In order to truly understand what constitutes high protein, I want to use our example of nuts to help pain the picture.

I have a female client who is ​5'2", 140lbs and is maintaining her bodyweight on 1680 calories.

Her macros are 140g protein, 56g fat, and 154g carbs which equate to 1680 calories.

So let's take our almonds example. 1 serving of almonds (1oz) is 160 calories, 14g fat, 6g carbs, 6g fat. If she were to eat all of her calories in almonds, she would be taking in:

  • 147g fat, 63g carbs, 63g protein. 

So if we compare to her original macros above, she is over by 91g fat, and under by 91g carbs and 77g protein. 

Do you see the problem here? We have this idea that a food that is categorized as high protein but only 15% of the calories ​come from protein while almost 79% of the calories come from fat. This is a high fat food not a high protein food! 

By all mean am I not saying that you shouldn't be eating almonds or anything high in fat but to say that it is a high protein sources is completely wrong. 

She is going to need much higher sources of protein in order to hit her protein goal for the day.

Other High Protein Frauds

Next we have the Fiber One "Protein" Bars

High Protein….Yeah Right

Just think of the casual shopper who doesn't look at the food label, and sees this with "protein" on the front and thinks "Hey, this has protein and my trainer said that I need to get in more protein so let me get some of these!" But little does that person know that this bar only has 6g of protein per bar. It also has 6g fat and 18g carbs which total up to 140 calories.

  • ​Only 17% of the total calories of this bar are coming from protein! 

I could go on for days with examples of this all around the grocery store but the moral of the story is that there is a certain criteria necessary for something to be called high protein.

The High Protein Club:

How do you get into the illustrious High Protein Club!? 

  1. ​At least 50% of calories are coming from protein
  2. The protein grams to fat g ratio is around 3:1
  3. Protein content should greater than carb content. May only can be close to 1:1 ratio when there is minimal fat content.

High Protein Sources

So you talk about this protein stuff like its magical, but where the heck do I get it!?

Well since I love you all so much and want to make this as easy as possible for ya, I created The Ultimate Protein Cheat Sheet! This bad boy has all the high protein sources, how much protein they each have, recipes on how to integrate them into your diet, and much much more! 

Click here to go to that cheat sheet​ I created for you!

The Protein Puzzle

How to fit all that protein into your lifestyle

So now that we know what are truly high protein sources, we must figure out exactly how to fit all this protein into our current ​lifestyle. 

1. We must first figure out how many meals a day we want to have most days so we can get a picture of how much protein we need spread out throughout the day.

2. Now you need to look at your how many meals a day you have and figure out how you want to distribute your protein throughout the day in order to hit your protein goal.

3. Next, you will need to figure out what your top 5 protein sources are. Use the high protein cheat sheet I gave you above to do this. This does not have to be set in stone, but will give you some clarity on what protein sources will make up the bulk of your intake. 

4. Then, you need to look at how you are going to integrate in your protein with your carbs and fats in order to hit your total macros for the day. Think of the meals you will have and what other components will add carbs and fats to the equation. 

  • ​Ex. Chicken Sandwich:
    • Carbs in meal: Bread, Tomato, Lettuce, Sauce (siracha, ketchup, etc) and any other veggies toppings.
    • Fats: Fat content in meat, Cheese, Mayo, and any other fatty sauces

5. Lastly, a strategy that I think is the most important when starting out, is to put your at least 2/3 of your meals in the night before into myfitnesspal so there is no guessing the next day on what you are going to eat. 

  • ​This will ensure that you are not sitting there at 8pm with 80g protein and minimal carbs and fats left. This inevitably leads to a massive protein shake which leads to the PROTEIN FARTS………..

Here it comes!

Real Life Example: Mid 40's Working Mom

I know this all can sounds a bit overwhelming but let me walk you through a real life example of how it looks. Lets bring back my female client from before who is consuming 1680 cals, 140g protein, 56g fat and 154g carbs.

She decided that 3 meals and 1 snack throughout the day fits her lifestyle best.

Her top 5 protein sources are: Eggs/Egg Whites, Chicken Breast, Protein Powder, Top Round Steak, and Non-Fat Greek Yogurt.​

So this is what her meals look like:

  • ​Meal #1 @ 7:15am is: 40g protein, 48g carbs and 16g fat
    • This is usually half of a protein vanilla birthday cake: 20g protein, 32g carbs, and 4.5g fat
    • 1 whole egg and 2 servings liquid egg whites with sautéed veggies (broccoli, peppers, kale) topped with 1/2 serving 2% mexican cheese, 1/2 oz avocado, and 4 tbsp salsa: 20g protein, 15g carbs, 9.5g fat
    • 1 coffee with 1 serving sugar french vanilla creamer: 0g protein, 1g carbs, and 2g fat
  • ​Meal #2 @ 12pm is: 35g protein, 30g carbs, 14g fat
    • This is almost always some type of big salad. She loves to bring salads with her to work because they are portable and easy to prepare at work.
    • This salad consists of spring mix, baby tomatoes, baby carrots, mushrooms, and sliced green peppers. Protein source is 4 oz grilled chicken (weighed out raw before cooking). Salad dressing is 1 serving of the Bolthouse Farms Cilantro Avocado dressing (highly recommend these brand dressings). Then sprinkled 1 serving 2% sharp cheddar cheese on top.
  • Pre Workout Snack at 5pm is: 30g protein, 30g carbs, 5g fat
    • This is always a protein smoothie with some type of berries and small banana: 1 scoop of protein powder, 4 oz unsweetened almond milk, 1/2 cup blueberries, 1/2 cup strawberries, 1 small banana.
  • Workout at 6:30
  • Meal #3 @ 7:45-8 is: 35g protein, 46g carbs, 21g fat
    • This meal is usually a wild card because it really depends on whether she is going to have ice cream or not. Most night she will fit in an ice cream cone so we will go with that. If no ice cream, she would've simply just added in some jasmine rice or another wrap in order to make up the carbs for the ice cream
    • She will have 4 oz top round steak with sautéed peppers and onions in 1/2 lavash bread with a 1/2 serving of On The Border Monterey Jack Queso (which is the bomb if you've never had it!), 1/2 oz avocado and 1 serving chunky salsa. This meal saved her some carbs and some fats for her ice cream.
    • Her ice cream consists of 1 serving of some kind low-fat frozen yogurt ice cream in a normal sized ice cream cone topped with some sprinkles. 
    • 1 tsp Now Foods Omega-3 Fish Oil

And thats what a typical day looks like for her hitting her macros but more importantly, hitting her protein! It's definitely not as hard as you think it is!

Take aways from her day of eating:

1. She knocked out 40g of protein with breakfast

  • ​By doing this, she only has 100g (sounds like a lot) of protein left for the rest of the day. 

2. Not one of her meals had less than 30g of protein. 

  • By her being super consistent with her protein intake, she was never falling behind and having to play catch up with her protein intake.

3. She utilized a protein shake to help her hit her protein goal.

  • ​Protein shakes are super convenient when trying to hit your protein and when mixed with berries, are super duper tasty. 
  • If you are in need for some protein shake recipes, click here and I'll give you my book of recipes for free , which has a bunch of easy to make recipes in there.

4. She allowed herself some flexibility to fit in a treat

  • ​At the end of her day, she had 35g protein, 46g carbs, and 21g fat so she knew that if she wanted to have some ice cream, here dinner needed to be high in protein, low in carbs and moderate/high in fats.
  • By making her low carb fajita steak lavash wrap, she hit her protein, saved about 25g carbs and knocked out the majority of her fat while saving 5g for her ice cream. 
  • She has that ice cream almost every night and has been losing body fat like a champ! Why? Because she fits it into her macros (her budget)!

The Moral of the Story: Protein is King

We need to consume protein to stay healthy, fit, and happy so we can live a long and amazing life! There is no doubt about that. So if you have not yet, click here and check out the cheat sheet I made so you can ensure that you hit your protein every single day!

​If this post helped you in with protein mastery, please feel free to share on Facebook, Pinterest, family, friends or with anyone you think needs to improve their protein mastery! That means you have to share it with everyone because everyone needs to improve their protein intake!

Also, tell me in the comments what your Top 5 protein sources are! Can't wait to read them!

​Thanks and God Bless,

Zach​

P.S. Friend me on Facebook or follow on Instagram to see all the other awesome stuff I post (well awesome to me..) that doesn't make it to the blog!

The Ultimate Protein Cheat Sheet

There's no debate! Protein is a huge factor in your not only your physique goals but your overall health

This cheat sheet will supply you with every high protein source you can deploy in your diet!

Dairy​

Red Velvet Oreo Cheesecake Protein Dessert Crunch Wrap!

​1. Fat Free Greek Yogurt 

  • ​Protein Content: 19g protein per 1 cup serving
  • Pro-tip: Stay away from brands that have more carbs than protein per serving. Plain greek yogurt is much lower in carbs and can be substituted for sour cream or used as a base for any dip because it will take on the flavor whatever you add to it.
  • Brands I recommend: Any Dannon Light & Fit Greek yogurt because there is a 1.5:1 ratio of protein to carbs which is awesome and they taste great.
  • Use as base for my protein icing recipe and top on rice cakes for a tasty snack.

2. Fat Free or Low Fat Cottage Cheese

  • ​Protein Content: 14g protein per 1/2 cup serving
  • Pro-tip: I personally like using it best as a spread. I like to mix chopped up berries into the cottage cheese and then spread it on rice cakes. Also, I make a spicy spread by adding buffalo sauce, avocado, and salsa that I'll add to a sandwich or rice cake as well.

3. Fat Free or Low Fat Cheese

Homemade Stuffed Crust Pepperoni Pizza! with only 3g Fat!!

  • ​8g protein per 1 oz for most cheeses.
  • Pro-tip: Fat free cheese has 0g fat while 2% cheese has 5g of fat so just understand that there is a big jump in calories between the two.
  • I literally put cheese on everything I can such as my eggs, sandwiches, tacos, salads, pita pizzas, etc.
  • If you want something portable, get fat free or low fat cheese sticks and wrap a few slices of deli meat around them for a quick and high protein snack for on the go!

4. Egg Whites/Egg Substitute

Homemade McGriddle Wraps!

  • ​5g protein per serving (46g)
  • Here you see I made an egg white omelette and then put in a wrap with turkey bacon, egg and cheese. Then topped with Walden Farms Pancake syrup to make a wonderful McGriddle Wrap!

Meat

1. Steak (Top or Bottom Round)

  • ​23g protein per 4 oz serving (weighed raw)
  • Pro-tip: The leaner the meat, the easier it is to overcook so make sure to cook over high heat and check constantly if you want them medium rare.

2. 93-7% Lean Ground Beef/Turkey (any lower than 93% will not be lean enough and will have to high of fat/protein ratio.

  • ​21g protein per 4 oz (weighed raw)
  • Pro-tip: I love to make fajita queso burgers using the On The Border Queso with sautéed fajita veggies. 96/4 is even better if you can find it.
  • Also can be used for taco salads, tacos, burrito bowls, and anything you can really think of. Super versatile and goes with pretty much anything

3. Boneless Pork Chops

  • ​26g of protein per 4 oz (weighed raw)
  • Pro-tip: Buffalo Pork Chops! Cook the pork chops in a pan for a few minutes on each side (don't overcook) and then melt your favorite fat free or low fat cheese on top. Then top with buffalo sauce! 

4. Boneless, Skinless Chicken Breast: 

  • 24g protein per 4 oz (weighed raw)
  • Pro-tip: Get to know your local meat guy at the supermarket and he will give you a heads up when meats will be marked down for sale. This helps me save hundreds of dollars.
  • Pro-tip #2: Always season chicken with at least salt and pepper before cooking or if your crazy like me, add some creole seasoning to it as well for dat kick! Also, I love to cook my chicken and dice it into small pieces and then toss it with whatever type of sauce I am craving. This is usually a queso/siracha sauce or melted cream cheese/buffalo sauce. Both are equally amazing!
  • NEVER EAT BORING CHICKEN! IT SUCKS!

5. Turkey Breast:

Turkey, Egg White & Cheddar Crunch Wrap

  • ​24g protein per 3oz cooked serving
  • Pro-tip #1: Buy and cook a whole turkey because you will get more than twice as much turkey breast for the same price. I love to cut up and toss the turkey in different sauce combinations to make either a turkey sandwich or turkey tacos or anything else you can come up with!

Seafood

1. Halibut

  • ​23g protein per 4 oz (weighed raw)
  • Super lean and affordable white fish option
  • Pro-tip: Bake Halibut and then throw into some tasty fish tacos!

2. Salmon

  • ​23g protein per 4 oz (weighed raw)
  • Pro-tip: Make sure to find salmon with skin still intact because it'll add a ton of flavor when you cook it

3. Tilapia

  • ​21g of protein per 4 oz (weighed raw)
  • Pro-tip: Look for tilapia raised in the US rather than imported from Asia. Much safer choice
  • Pro-tip #2: You can make fish tacos with tilapia just like you do with halibut.

Homemade Lobster Melt on right

4. Lobster 

  • 17g protein per 4 oz (weighed raw)
  • Such an overlooked source of protein that I wish florida had more of! Every time I visit family in NH, I eat a ton of it 🙂
  • Pro-tip: Love homemade lobster melt sandwiches with swiss cheese on top

5. Octopus

  • ​25g protein per 4 oz (weighed raw)
  • If you can get over the idea that it's octopus, then this is an amazing lean protein source! 
  • I honestly rarely eat it but when I do it is in the sushi form and it mighty good! Highly recommend it!

6. Ahi or Yellowfin Tuna 

  • ​21g protein per 4 oz (weighed raw)
  • Pro-tip: Very easy to overcook so make sure to cook on high in pan and sear each side. 
  • Pro-Tip #2: Really takes on the flavor of seasonings you choose, so pick wisely 🙂 

Grilled Shrimp Wrap!

7. Fresh Shrimp or Frozen Shrimp

  • 21g Protein per 3oz Cooked

Canned Protein Sources

Homemade Albacore Tuna Burger!

1. Chunk Light Tuna in water

  • ​22g protein per 3 oz serving
  • Pro-tip: The chunk light in water has a bit more protein than the pricier albacore options. Tuna is a staple if you are on a tight budget.
  • Pro-tip #2: I love to toss my tuna in queso and some buffalo sauce and make a tuna salad sandwich or tacos.

2. Chicken:

  • ​21g protein per 3 oz serving
  • Super convenient and pretty price efficient as well.
  • Pro-tip: Do the same with the chicken as I explained with the tuna above to make a chicken salad and throw it into a taco or sandwich. As you can see, I love using that technique to make any of my protein sources taste amazing! Never gets old!

3. Navy Beans

  • ​20g protein per 1 cup serving
  • Also a great source of dietary fiber coming in at a whopping 13g of fiber per 1 cup serving!
  • Pro-tip: I like to blend these and use as a base for my brownie, cookie dough or hummus recipes. Will take on the flavor to whatever you put in it. Very versatile

4. Dried Lentils

  • ​13g protein per 1/4 cup dry serving
  • Pro-tip: Simmer them in a pot of water until tender for about 20 minutes and the enjoy.
  • Pro-tip #2: Take cooked lentils and combine with sautéed veggies and any high protein meat to make a super high protein/high volume meal!

Deli Meat

1. Oven Roasted Turkey Breast​

  • ​18g protein per 4 oz serving
  • Pro-tip: I like to throw my deli turkey in a frying pan along with a fried egg and make a sandwich with it. Turkey gets crispy like bacon and adds a bit more flavor to it.

2. Roast Beef

  • 18g protein per 3 oz serving
  • Surprisingly, this is one of the leaner deli meats. 
  • Pro-tip: Throw in frying pan and cook for a minute or two then throw onto a sandwich to make a homemade Philly roast beef cheese steak!

Homemade Arby's Beef & Cheddar Sandwich

3. Canadian Bacon

Homemade Egg McMuffin

  • ​15g protein per 3 oz serving
  • From the leaner back of the pig, so it has 6 times less fat than traditional bacon, giving it a much better protein-to-fat ratio.
  • Pro-tip: To get a normal bacon like taste, throw your canadian bacon in a frying pan and it will give you the same taste as the fattier bacon.

4. Chorizo

  • ​21g protein per 3 oz serving
  • Super versatile type of pork sausage that can be added to almost any style dish.
  • Pro-tip: Chorizo and eggs are an amazing combo in flavor so any recipe with those two together will be fantastic. I love to make breakfast tacos with those two protein sources.

Vegetables

Disclaimer: Relying on vegetables for getting in all your protein in will make it very difficult to do so but can be a great supplement to your protein and micronutrient intake while adding flavor for some super tasty meals!

1. Spinach

500 Calorie Monster Salad

  • ​3g protein per 100g serving. 
  • Pro-tip: If cutting/dieting, use as base for a big salad that will save you a lot of calories, but will keep you super full. Add your main protein source to the salad and then top with dressing of your choice (stick to lower fat brands) I like to use chunky salsa and queso mixed together into a dressing. Then add your cheese and other veggies like tomatoes, cucumbers, green peppers, etc. 
  • Pro-tip #2: If you want to consume more spinach without it having to be so voluminous, saute the spinach in a pan and it will shrink like crazy. 

2. Kale

  • ​4g protein per 100g serving.
  • Pro-tip: Unlike spinach, when you cook kale, it holds onto most of its form. I love to add kale into my egg scrambled just to add some more volume to the meal. Add salt and pepper to the cooked kale because it really brings out the flavor from the kale.
  • Pro-tip #2: Kale is pretty bitter when you eat it raw so be prepared. 

3. Broccoli

Broccoli Quesadillas Steak Sandwich!

  • 4g protein per 100g serving
  • Pro-tip: Never, ever steam your broccoli. That's gross.. Always sauté broccoli in a pan and add salt, pepper, and creole seasoning to have amazing tasting broccoli with a kick.

Other High Protein Tools

The BEST JERKEY EVER

1. Turkey Jerky

  • ​13g protein per 1 oz serving
  • Super portable and can be a great way to ensure you are getting your protein in while on the go.
  • Pro-tip: I like to keep a bag of these in my backpack at all times when traveling to ensure that I am prepared or have them if needed.

2. Protein Powder

  • ​25g protein per scoop for most brands. I use PEScience Select Protein because it is the best for recipes.
  • Such an easy way to ensure you are hitting your protein goals
  • Pro-tip: Start cooking with your protein powder. Here I made a Red Velvet Oreo Cheesecake Protein Pizookie using protein powder. Click on the picture to get the recipe!
  • Pro-tip #2: Never drink just a plain protein shake with water ever again. That's gross. Start blending your protein powder with frozen berries to make super tasty super shakes!

Red Velvet Oreo Cheesecake Protein Pizookie!

3. Protein Bars

  • ​Around 20-25g protein per medium sized bar
  • Beware: The protein bar market is cluttered with so many different products that are just like candy bars or use terrible sources of protein.
  • Pro-tip: A great ratio protein-carb ratio when looking for a protein bar is 1:1 and a great protein:fat ratio is around a 3:1 ratio in favor of protein. 
  • Pro-tip #2: I've had many protein bars but once I had a Fit Crunch Protein Bar, I was hooked and never looked back. Not only are they super duper tasty but they are chalk full of high quality sources of protein. You can use the discount code "FDL20" for 20% off!

4. PB2 (Powdered Peanut Butter)

  • ​5g protein per 3 tsp (15g)
  • An amazing substitute for regular peanut butter and has 85% less fat. What that means is that you can eat more of it for the same amount of calories! And who doesn't want to eat more peanut butter!?
  • Pro-tip: I add PB2 to any recipe that I make that calls for peanut butter. Here I mixed up 2 servings of the PB2 and added cinnamon to make a dip for my cut up apples (stevia optional). Super easy snack that takes 2 minutes to make.

Oreo Cookies & Cream Protein Pop Tart

5. Fat Free Cream Cheese

  • ​4g protein per 1 oz serving
  • Such an awesome spread or topping to any meal to add that cheesecake like taste and sneak in some extra protein in as well!
  • Here I made my protein pop tart recipe and made a tasty cream cheese frosting for the top!

Take Action

This cheat sheet was created to give you all the tools necessary to hit your protein every single day! Protein is soooooo darn important so make sure you nail that protein intake errday!

Don't wait! Start using these bad boys in your diet today in order to get the results you desire faster than ever!

And if you liked all the creations you saw throughout this post, make sure to check out the FDL Book of Recipes 3.0 where you will find all of these creations in there!

If you this cheat sheet has helped you, share it with anyone you think would benefit from it! I know you can share this with at least 3 people in your life!

Let me know in the comments below which protein source you eat the most and your favorite meal to make with it!​

​Make sure to friend me on Facebook or follow on Instagram to see all the other awesome stuff I post (well awesome to me..) that doesn't make it to the blog!

Thanks and God Bless,

Zach​

Why Popular Fad Diets Work….And Why Your Results Didn’t Last

“History doesn’t repeat itself, it rhymes.” –Mark Twain

So why the quote from the man, the myth, the legend, Mark Twain!? Because I am going to tell you from the very beginning, all diets are built around the same principles. They are not special and none of these diets defy science.

I'm here to show you how each and every one of these diets trick you into thinking they are different. Ohh and trust me, they've tricked me too! I first thought that I couldn't eat carbs late at night and would not touch carbs close to bed at all! Then I joined the Paleo cult and was all about it! You couldn't get me to go off my diet at all! But when I did…. holy moly cheat day extravaganza! Which is not good and leads to a very terrible relationship with food. But enough about me! Lets get back on topic!

Don't Judge Me

​The weight loss industry is a massive accounting for over $65 billion dollar in 2014. In the world, there are currently over 1.6 billion people who are overweight.

​There is so much information out there on the news, in books, magazines, podcasts, blogs, etc.

To go along with all this information, there are hundreds of special diets people are utilizing to lose substantial amounts of weight. You probably have 5 friends who are on 5 different diets and have all lost a bunch of weight. They all swear by their diets but you have no idea what to believe.

​You’ve wasted so much time over the years trying to lose weight and achieve the body you desire that you are desperate for the diet that will work for you.

But you keep wondering to yourself, “How come all of my friends are on different diets but all achieved very similar results?”

How All These Diets Work

All these diets have a common theme which, unless you are well versed in nutritional professional, you will not even notice.

All these diets trick you into eating less.

When you are in a caloric deficit, you will always lose weight.

The very simple law of thermodynamics gives us the understanding that weight loss is simply consuming less calories than you are burning. This causes a caloric deficit. If you are not losing weight, then you are not in a caloric deficit. That means you need to be eating less and/or moving more

The Misdirection

I'll let my friend Terri and Terry Perry from Monsters University demonstrate how these popular diets are using the art of misdirection.

Notice how the cards fall out at the end!? That's where I come in to make sure that you can see why all these diets are the same and the misdirection is what makes us think they are different!

The Trick and No Treats

Have you ever been told that eating a certain food will make you fat? Certain foods like bread, candy, ice cream, cake, cup cakes, pop tarts, cereal, white rice, and all the goodies we all love. I know you’ve all been told this and believed it.

Ok so now lets put on our thinking hats and understand why this would trick us into eating fewer calories. Well first off, all of the foods I named are very dense in calories relative to the volume of food you get. Not only are you cutting out all these calorically dense foods, you are substituting in more higher volume foods such as a variety of colorful fruits and vegetables.

Let’s compare two different food choices so we can get a better understanding of what is happening here: 

​100g of broccoli vs. 100g of Ben & Jerrys Chocolate Fudge Brownie Ice Cream:

100g broccoli = 28 cals, 0g fat, 5.2g carbs, 3g protein

100g of Broccoli

100g B&J’s = 245 cals, 12g fat, 27g carbs, 5g protein

I serving of Ice Cream

B&J's Chocolate Fudge Brownie Ice Cream

For the same volume of food, you are taking in 217 fewer calories than you were before. And lets be honest, you will be eating a whole lot more than 100g worth of Ben & Jerry’s! I mean at least I would be….

Ok lets do some calculations here to make this more apparent. So lets say we tried to eat the same amount of calories in 100g worth of Ben & Jerry's with broccoli. That would be the equivalent of eat 875g worth of broccoli! That's 8.75 servings of that 100g picture above. Are you starting to catch on how they are tricking you!? Trying to eat 8.75 servings of broccoli would make you so full you'd want to explode but the same amount of calories in Ben & Jerry's leaves you unsatisfied and wanting more!

The Wildcard

All weight loss diets emphasize you to eat a whole lot more protein. What's so special about increasing your protein intake? Protein is the most satiating (keeps us full) of the three macronutrients.

There was an interesting study done analyzing the effects of a higher protein diet on overall caloric intake and the results were pretty remarkable. The participants in the study on average consumed 1,300 less calories per day without getting hungry with their increased protein intake. That’s pretty crazy!

Ok so all you vegans out there must thinking that you are special because you don’t eat a high protein diet because you don’t eat animal products like meat and dairy. Well yes you are eating substantially less protein than most other diets advise but you are eating far more vegetables and fruits which are super high in fiber, water and overall food volume. This allows vegans to trick themselves into eating few calories.

The moral of the story is that all these diets eliminate the higher calorie choices and force you to eat high volume, lower calorie options which help you lose weight. The crazy thing is that all these people have no idea that they are eating less.

​If you ask someone to estimate their caloric intake, they are almost always wrong. For example, those who say they can’t lose weight by reducing their caloric intake, underestimate their caloric intake by almost 47%! Not only that but they overestimate their exercise by 51%! That’s a massive error! To top it off, other studies have shown that people often underreport their caloric intake by up to 2,000 calories per day! Holy crap!

The Moral Of The Story

There is absolutely nothing magical about weight loss diets. They trick you into eating less without you realizing it.

Bound To Fail Before You Start

​What is the first thing these diets tell you when you start? They go through a list of foods that are off limits. There goes your ice cream, sweet tea, cookies, chips, popcorn, candy, red wine, and pretty much everything you love. You start the diet with a negative vibe and the mindset that this is going to suck! You are asking yourself, “How am I going to do this if I cannot have my (insert favorite food)!”

It is pretty well known that most weight loss diets fail. The percentages of failure range from 70-98% but nonetheless, that percentage is way too high. And what constitutes failure is that they regained all the weight they lost or ended up heavier than when they started.

I think if you were to ask all of those people beginning a new fad diet whether they could see themselves doing this diet for the rest of their lives, their answers would’ve been an abrupt “no”.

The Most Sustainable Approach

​The biggest problem with most diets is that they are a one size fits all model. They give you the rules and you have no input on the process at all. Think back to a time in your life when one of your parents, teachers or boss’ said, “This is how it’s going to be and that’s final.” And think about what was going through your head when they said that. Something probably along the lines of, “Ohh shut up. I"m going to do what I want!"

When I work with any of my clients, one of the first questions I ask them is, “If we were to create the diet you could do for the rest of your life, what is the one food that would have to be in there?" This simple question puts them in control of their success. Most people’s success in a diet comes down to the one food choice that they absolutely must have. What food is that for you?

Before I started training with Zach and utilizing his flexible dieting strategies, I had been on medication for high blood pressure, high cholesterol and type II diabetes for over 20 years. When we first met, he asked me what was the one thing I could not do without in my diet and I answered it was my ice cream at 7pm every night. I was waiting for him to say I couldn't have it anymore like any of the doctors, dietitians, and any other health professional I've seen but he said ok lets keep that in our diet! I was stunned and confused! After 3 months of his training and him helping me learn how to create a diet around my lifestyle with flexible dieting, I am not longer on any of my medications! Ohh and I am able now eating almost twice as many calories as I was before! Nice perks I might say! I can honestly say that Zach and his coaching has given me a new lease on life and has shown me that I have way more life to live!

Doug's 1 Month Transformation!

Doug Houseworth 
72 Years Old

The Flexibility Is Key

​So by now you are starting to understand why most diets work in the short run but fail in the long run or even make matters worse.

  • Trick you into eating less calories
  • Make it easy to follow by giving you only a select few food options to choose from.
  • Leads to "good" and "bad" classifications of foods leading to bad relationship with food.
    • See foods they allow you to eat as "good" and the food that are off limits as "bad". This leads to a substantially increased risk of developing eating disorders.
    • Also, makes most of your favorite foods off limits which leads to an increased risk of binging on them later on. (find study proving this)

So this is why I love Flexible Dieting so much. You are able to tailor your diet to your specific, unique situation. You are in control of your food choices and what you want to spend your budget of macronutrients on. If you love ice cream, you can fit it into your budget.

If you want a burger, you can fit it into your budget of macros. God forbid, if you want taco bell, you can try and fit it into your budget. By no means am I saying that you should eat these lower quality choices of foods all the time but I am saying that you have the option without feeling like a terrible person afterwards.

​80% of our diet should be made up of high quality, minimally processed, nutrient dense foods but 20% gives you that flexibility to be flexible and live your life!

Which Fad Diet Fooled You!?

We've all tried so many diet​s throughout our lives and have been tricked over and over again! We all should have the perfect diet for us and our lifestyle!

I'd love to read in the comments which diet has tricked you!? and what factor do you think is the reason why it failed or wasn't sustainable?

If you have yet to read the previous 3 posts in the Flexible Dieting Masterclass, click here to keep the momentum going!​

Thanks again for taking the time to read this and continue to expand your nutritional expertise! See you next time!​

​Thanks and God Bless,

Zach

P.S. Friend me on Facebook or follow on Instagram to see all the other awesome stuff I post (well awesome to me..) that doesn't make it to the blog!

Why Breakfast is a Fraud: Meal/Nutrient Timing 101

The Original "Breakfast Club"

How many times in your life have you heard that, "you need to eat breakfast because it is the most important meal of the day!"? I can guess it is a lot. You heard it from your parents, grandparents, friends, coaches, on television, and everyone else under the sun.

Growing up, I just assumed it to be true just because everyone was saying it. But have you ever thought about whether it was actually true or not?

In this post, I am going to be covering everything about meal timing from whether breakfast really is the most important meal of the day to whether eating carbs at night will make you fat and much more. ​

Here's exactly what I'll be covering:

  1. What is meal timing?
  2. The Breakfast Myth
  3. Carbs at night make you fat?​
  4. Intermittent fasting
  5. Eating every 2-3 hours and your metabolism
  6. Pre and post workout meals 
  7. How to customize to your own personal lifestyle

Let's get this myth busting party started!

1. Meal/Nutrient Timing:

​What the heck does meal/nutrient timing mean?

Simply put, it is eating specific nutrients (proteins, carbs fats) in specific amounts, at specific times.

These specific times or amounts may be:

  • ​Breakfast
  • Before, during or after workout
  • Before bed
  • How often you eat
  • How big your meals are
  • How many meals

Keep These Things In Mind:

When reading todays post, I want you to remember the two factors that are most important in regards to body weight and body composition.

1. Calories In vs Calories Out determines whether we lose or gain weight

  • ​If you eat more than you burn then you will gain weight
  • If you eat less than what you burn then you will lose weight

    ​2. Macronutrient Ratios are what determine our body composition 

    • If we hit our macros for the day, then we hit our calories for the day
    • Our most important goal is to hit our macronutrient goals for the day

    Remember these two key points when reading todays post because they will help you understand meal timing and the role it plays in our nutrition/goals/lifestyle.

    2. The Breakfast Club

    The most important meal of the day?

    We hear it everywhere, "breakfast is the most important meal of the day!" My whole life I have been told this story over and over again and up until 2 years ago, I thought it was true.

    When you think about it, our bodies have been fasting for 8-12 hours and our bodies are primed to use nutrients more effectively than other times of the day. So of course you would think that breakfast would be essential! And studies seemed to back this up the past 20 years but they jumped to conclusions a bit too soon.

    Correlation vs Causation

    After reading best selling author Dr. Ben Goldacre's book Bad Science, I learned how to sift through the garbage that most studies claim. This book was life changing so I highly recommend giving it a read.

    The most important thing I learned from Dr. Goldacre's book was that almost every study you see publicized on the news or on the internet have made claims from correlational research and not causal research. 

    • Correlation = X and Y happen at the same time
    • Causation = Y happens because of X

    This correlation came from research showing that breakfast skipping is associated with higher body weights in the population.

    Let’s go back to our timeless phrase that we’ve heard our whole lives that “breakfast is the most important meal of the day.” Well because most everyone still believes this, those who skip breakfast more than likely have deregulated eating habits and have a higher disregard for their health.

    Not to say everyone who skipped breakfast is like this but this is where the negative association with skipping breakfast came from.

    The nutritious breakfast myth: We are doing it all wrong….

    What our typical breakfasts look like: It’s a disaster in the U.S.

    The American's Nutritious Breakfast

    Lets look at the macronutrient profile of this meal:

    • A typical bagel has: 270 calories, 2g fat, 52g carbs, 10g protein
    • 3 serving cream cheese (because 1 serving of cream cheese is much smaller than you think): 300 calories, 27g fat, 3g carbs, 6g protein
    • 2 servings orange juice (because 1 serving of orange is about half the glass not a full glass): 220 calories, 0g fat, 52g carbs, 4g protein.

    Total for typical American breakfast:

    • 790 calories, 29g fat, 107g carbs, 20g protein

    If you know me, I’m not a huge fan of the distinction between “good” and “bad” food choices but in regards to someone starting their day of on a bad note, this breakfast would be doing so! And why is that? Let me use a great example to illustrate what this does to the rest of your day.

    This was one of my client exact breakfast he had been eating for the past 3 years. He starting working with me because he had put on a substantial amount of bodyweight/body fat. Based upon his activity level, goals and current condition, I prescribed his goal macros to hit daily were:

    • 1810 Calories
    • 175g protein
    • 70g fat
    • 120g carbs

    Ok lets go back to our breakfast from earlier and analyze what this did to his macros:

    After breakfast (7:30am), he would only have 13g of carbs left while having 155g of protein and 41g of fat left to hit for the day. Do you see how he kinda screwed himself over for the rest of the day? It would be almost impossible to hit your protein without going over on your fats and carbs for the day.

    So what the heck do you need to know about breakfast!?

    1. If you enjoy breakfast, eat breakfast

    • ​If so, make sure it's a high protein breakfast so you do not have to play catch up all day on your macros

    2. If you are not hungry in the morning, skip breakfast. 

    • ​But if you do skip breakfast, just know that in order to hit your macros for the day you will need to be eating bigger meals to make up for skipping breakfast.

    I wake up around 5:45am every morning and usually do not eat anything until around 11:30 am. I personally like to eat bigger meals (upwards to 1000 cals per meal) so this strategy works out well for me. I will give a more in depth run down of how I structure my meals later on in the post.

    It is really that simple. There is nothing special about breakfast. The biggest thing we need to worry about is overall hitting of your macronutrients. You are going to notice this theme over the course of this post just to give you a heads up 🙂

    3. Carbs Before Bed Will Make You FAT!!!!!

    ​Yet another claim we've all heard

    We've all heard this one, "no carbs after 8pm or your body will store all of it as fat!"

    This one is easy to rationalize:

    • ​Carbs are known to be our fuel for physical activity
    • When we sleep, we are not doing next to no physical activity
    • When we sleep our insulin sensitivity is reduced at night
    • So it is assumed that if you consume these carbs before bed they will be stored as fat because we do not have any physical demands to use them for
    • Sounds reasonable…...

    Correlation not Causation

    The reason why their is a lot of "bro-science" that is still believed to be true is that "bro-science" always sounds reasonable! It is so reasonable that it tricks you into thinking it's true. But our saving grace is amazing studies and research that allows us to smash the "bro" claims in their tracks  

    So for our carbs at night make us fat claim, research has dispelled this myth with a wide array of studies. Remember our correlation not causation example above? This is another example that fits that into the category of bad science and why you should be skeptical of most nutritional claims/headlines and studies that come out.

    I am going to show you right now how this correlation not causation came about. Think about what types of foods you eat late at night:

    • Most people tend to overeat on super duper carb heavy meals late at night.
    • So when people substitute overeating on these carbolicious foods with foods that are considered “healthy”, they tend to lose weight and body fat.
    • Since “healthy” foods are normally not calorically dense food choices, the person is not longer eating as many calories thus they will lose weight and body fat.
    • Remember that our bodyweight is determined by calories in vs calories out and by substituting in these less calorically dense foods, you will be taking in less calories.

    If you want more proof, check out Martin Berkhan’s clientele with the Lean Gains diet where the almost all their food is taken in a night time.

    So what do you need to know about carbs before bed?

    1. ​They do not make you fat
    2. Overconsumption of calories makes you fat
    3. If you are hitting your macros, then when you eat your carbs is almost irrelevant.

    4. Intermittent Fasting

    What is this Ramadan or something!?

    So what is intermittent fasting? ​Intermittent fasting is an eating strategy not a diet. You are simply timing your meals to where you are fasting for a certain period of time and then have an eating window to get your calories in.

    We all do some type of intermittent fasting every day: We eat in a certain window of time (usually when we are awake) then fast while we sleep until we have our first meal the next day.

    • So if you are eating your last meal at 8pm and not eating breakfast until 8am the next morning, then you are doing a 12 hour fast between meals! Bet you didn't even realize that you were doing this.

    But there are certain intermittent fasting strategies that have become popular:​

    • The Warrior Diet which is a 20 hour fast and a 4 hour eating window. So that would be fasting between 8pm-4pm the next day and then eating from 4pm-8pm
    • The Leangains approach is more modest approach of a 16 hour fast followed by an 8 hour eating window. This would look like fasting from 8pm to 12pm the next day and eating from 12pm-8pm.

    But won't I lose all my gains not eating for that long!?

    I know you are thinking, "But shouldn't they be eating every 2-3 hours in order to keep there metabolism going!?" 

    The theory goes that is you eat small meals all day long, your body is a furnace and is burning calories thus keeping that metabolism firing! Sound the "bro-science" alert!!!!!

    • ​Whether you eat 2500 calories spread throughout the day or 2500 calories in a small window, your body will burn the same amount calories processing the food.
    • This is called the Thermic Effect of Food (TEF)
      • When we ingest a certain of calories, our bodies will burn about 10% of the size of the meal in calories. 
      • Ex. If I eat a meal that is 500 calories, then my body will burn 50 calories processing that meal
      • Ex. If I eat a meal that is 2000 calories, my body will burn 200 calories digesting that meal
      • So if you eat 4 individual 500 calories meals, you will burn 50 calories each so 50 x 4 = 200 calories. 
      • So your TEF is the same as if you were to eat one huge meal of 2000 calories

    Our bodies are super duper smart and we tend to underestimate their abilities to adapt to the circumstance we put on them.

    To paint the picture, think of back when our ancestors, the cavemen, were roaming ​the field looking for their next meal. They only ate what they killed and couldn't go to the local supermarket. So they would go days without food until they killed something to eat. This is the same concept.

    Our bodies operate different during times of "fasting' and times of "feasting":

    • ​When "feasting" our bodies have a regular supply of food and do not need to rely on stored energy.
    • When "fasting" our bodies do not have readily available energy sources so it has to mobilize energy stored in our bodies (glycogen and body fat)

    How I personally use intermittent fasting

    • ​My fasting is usually from 8:30pm till around 11:00-11:30am the next morning and my eating window is from 11:00-11:30am to 9:00pm.
    • So I am around a 14-15 hours "fasting" and 9-10 hours "feasting" person. 
    • I do this because it fits my schedule best and I am not entirely hungry from 5:45am to 11:30am. My day is the most busy during this time period so I do not want to have to worry about food during this time frame. 
    • I usually workout around 2pm so I make sure to have at least 1000 calories in me before then.
    • Also, by eating in a 9-10 hour window instead of a 16 hour window like most prescribe, I am able to eat bigger meals. I love to eat big meals and do not have time to be preparing 6 small meals all day long. Aint no body got time for that!

    Pro tip: When cutting

    When I am cutting, I really like to start my day with 2 glasses of water and then coffee and  hold off on my first meal to within 1.5-2.5 hours (11-11:30am) before my workout at 2pm. This helps because I am consuming less calories than I am normally and allows me to eat bigger meals later on in the day. 

    Also, what I noticed when skipping breakfast and delaying my first meal was that I was actually more hungry at 11:30am when I ate breakfast than when I did not! Crazy right!? So by skipping breakfast I actually was not as hungry and had created my deficit for the day by skipping breakfast and could eat my normal big meals for the rest of the day! It seemed too good to be true but It's worked like a charm!​

    All my calories and water in for the day ab check 🙂

    Is Intermittent Fasting for You?

    Well the answer to this is yes no matter what you say. As I stated before, we all do some form of intermittent fasting through our every day lives.

    Things to Ask Yourself When Figuring Out Your "Fasting" and "Feasting" Time Frames​:

    1. ​What would fit my lifestyle the best? 
    2. Do I like big meals or small meals?
    3. Am I trying to lose or gain weight?
      • If you are trying to gain weight, I would advise to not fast as long because it will become harder get enough calories in throughout the day. Not saying you cannot make it happen but it will make it harder!

    What You need to Know About Intermittent Fasting

    1. We have a set "fasting" period and "feasting" period
    2. Eating every 2-3 hours does not give you any extra benefits for your metabolism
    3. Pick the "fasting/feasting" schedule that fits best with your lifestyle.
    4. Don't over think it! 

    5. Post Workout Nutrition

    The Post Workout Anabolic Window of Gainz​

    "Sorry bro can't talk, gotta slam this protein shake ASAP so I don't lose all my gainz!"

    Have you ever been that person or known someone who was like that? Trust me I used to be that guys 100% and believed that it was necessary…. But I was wrong

    • ​I remember I used to finish my workouts and would sprint directly to my protein shake and knock it back before anything else. I would purposely ignore anyone that would try and talk to me until I got that bad boy back. 

    At the top of the list of the "bro science" ​advice that everyone has received at some point in their lives is the that after you workout, you need to have a protein shake within 30-45 minutes because our bodies are greedy for nutrients.

    • ​In theory, strength training or intense athletic movements make our bodies into nutrient processing powerhouses 
    • And science displayed that waiting longer than 45 minutes after your workout significantly diminished the gainz your received from training. 
    • Recent studies in the Journal of the Internation Society of Sports Nutrition (JISSN have shown that the "anabolic window of opportunity" is much bigger than we thought.
      • They found that the biggest thing that matter is the total amount of protein and carbs you eat over the course of the day is more important for body composition than nutrient timing strategies like post workout nutrition

    So it doesnt matter if I wait 2 hours after my workout to eat!?

    My answer is…… It depends

    • ​That JIISN study above did find that post workout nutrition was important in some circumstances (I explain below)

    Where pre workout nutrition comes into play

    • They found that what, when and how much you ate pre workout should determine how long after you workout your post workout meal should be. 
    • They found that depending on the size of your meal, the space between protein rich meals can be within 3-6 hours. 
      • For example: If you ate a big meal 2 hours before you worked out, and your workout took about 1.5 hours, then you have 1.5-2.5 hours to get your post workout meal in.
        • A smaller meal consumed 2 hours from the workout would require the post workout meal to be consumed much sooner after the workout. Closer to 0.5-1 hour post workout.
    • The same can be said for when you ate that meal.
      • For example, if you ate a big meal 4 hours from your workout, then a post workout meal would be needed to be consumed almost immediately post workout to hit that 5-6 hour window between feedings. 

    And please note that these findings were to maximize muscle protein synthesis (the anabolic response) from the workout. Simply put, the building of muscle.

    • But also note that the term "maximize" denotes a relatively small increase that most everyday lifters shouldn't have to worry about unless they want to compete professionally.

    So what the heck do you need to know about Pre & Post Workout nutrition!?

    1. Definitely not as important to your gainz as once thought
    2. You can actually talk to people after you workout without rushing to down a protein shake
    3. No more than 4-6 hours between pre and post workout meals depending on size of pre workout meal but if so, the affects will be minimal.

    Wait Zach! What if I workout first thing in the morning on an empty stomach!? Am I going to lose all my gainz!?

    • ​Nope! If you workout in the morning, the post workout meal will need to be soon after the workout due to the fasted state your body is in.
    • Don't stress but just make sure you try and get something to eat within 30-60 minutes post workout

    6. Building The Lifestyle

    How to take this information and integrate it into your lifestyle​

    Remember our goal with all this information is to mold our nutrition to where it helps up live the lifestyle we desire. ​

    I know when you are reading all this information it can seem unbelievably overwhelming but there is only 1 major theme/question that you need to worry about.

    1. ​What would be the best "fasting" and "feasting" windows for your current lifestyle?

    After reading that whole post and it comes down to that 1 simple point! You must be happy its that simple but pissed you had to read all that to find it out! 

    ​We all have certain demands on our times each and every day so we have to mold our meal timing around those demands in order to create a nutritional strategy that will be sustainable.

    I'll be the guinea pig and use me as an example of what a full day of eating looks like for me when cutting and why it is structured like so.

    • ​Wake up at 5:45am, heat up water to brew my coffee in my french press, drink a tall glass of water that has been heated up for room temp in microwave and then get everything ready to head to the gym or any business meeting I have to go to.
    • Then after all my morning sessions at the gym, I am heading home around 11:00am to go have my first meal. 
    • This first meal comes around 11:30 am which is about 700-800 calories composed of around 60-70g protein, 10-15g fat and 70-80g carbs.
    • I workout around 2 and end around 3:30-4pm and then start my afternoon sessions until 7-8pm that night.
    • So I then have around 5pm a standard sized protein bar and a couple pieces of fruit like an apple or banana. I am home and start cooking dinner and eat around 8:30pm.
    • This meal is around 800-900 cals and a dessert of around 200 calories of some type of macro friendly dessert 🙂 This meal is my biggest of the day.
    • I then go to bed at 10:30-11:00pm and repeat this all over again! 

    If It Fits Your Lifestyle

    As you can see, my nutrition complements my lifestyle. I use my nutrition as a tool to live the lifestyle I want to live rather than other way around.

    This is applicable to doctors, construction workers, hair stylists, athletes, stay at home moms, college students, and literally everyone in the world! I honestly could not come up with one type of lifestyle that could not use Flexible Dieting to make their lives better!

    Am I biased​!?

    Let me know in the comment section below If you think there is a better alternative to creating the perfect diet that fits YOUR lifestyle.

    Also, I am curious to read in the comments what your average "feasting" and "fasting" schedule looks like on an everyday basis and why it is like that? Maybe to fit around your lifestyle?

    I hope you all enjoyed this post! Take these action steps and move all the more closer to the lifestyle you desire!

    And if you have no read the first two installments of the Flexible Dieting 101 series then here's the What Is Flexible Dieting post and the Ultimate "How To" post for Flexible Dieting Mastery. ​

    Thanks and God Bless,

    Zach​