Have you ever looked back on something and thought “why on earth did I do that?” I do that a lot especially when it comes to my efforts in looking to get shredded and losing body fat.
I have been exercising/training in the gym now for near on 10 years and in that time, I have tried a lot of pointless stuff in my pursuit to get lean, shredded and lose body fat.
In this blog I will take you on a trip down memory lane and explain the 4 fat loss gimmicks I tried in order to get shredded, they are horrendous. Plus at the end of the blog I will explain how I turned this around and the 1 method that will ALWAYS work.
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Now on with the blog.
1. The 5:2 Bro Diet.
Now I am not talking about the original 5:2 diet by Michael Mosely, this is the bro version and it’s probably the opposite of the original. You may be doing this diet now without even realising it and it is probably the reason why you are seeing no results!
How do I know?
Well because I was following the 5:2 Bro Diet for many years without even realising and it crippled my progression especially when it came to fat loss.
So let me roughly explain what this diet is and you can decide if you are doing this or if you have done this.
Monday to Friday you are as good as gold, you live out of tupperwares all week, you live off a handful of “clean” foods, you hit the gym like a madman and take all your supplements. You’re disciplined and you have tons of will power. Monday to Friday you are the navy seal of the nutrition world.
Friday night rolls around, work is done for the week and it’s time to treat yourself, out for a few drinks maybe a takeaway?
Saturday and Sunday turn into all out warfare on food!
You think hey I have eaten “clean” all week and it’s time to treat yourself, all the foods you would not even look at during the week are being hovered up by the bag.
Come Sunday night, you are overwhelmed with feelings of guilt and think “what on earth have I done!” You automatically start thinking “right I need to get back on the diet tomorrow big time” which leads to more restriction and more extreme measures.
I was stuck in this same awful routine for ages and it really affected my results, not to mention forming bad relationships with food. Let me briefly explain why the 5:2 bro diet does not work.
Your body has specific calories needs not just for a day but for a whole week and longer, calories are extremely flexible and they don’t just expire after a 24 hour period. For example if you underrate by 200 calories on a Monday, you can over eat on the Tuesday by 200 calories and you have balanced it out.
The problem with the 5:2 bro diet, is that you will severely under eat Monday to Friday, without even realizing because you are living off chicken and broccoli. But come the weekend you overeat by so much because you are living off pizza, donuts and cookies, these 2 days of constant eating can easily push you over your calories for the whole week! So it does not matter how “clean” you ate for 5 days, if those 2 days of binging pushes you into a calorie surplus you will not be losing fat or getting shredded.
The graph above explains why the 5:2 diet just does not work. This individual’s calorie target is 2,500 calories a day. He goes all bro and eats “clean” for 5 days, come the weekend he treats himself and eats 4,000 both days, all good right?
Wrong, those 2 days where he went crazy at the weekend has pushed him into an overall calorie surplus for the whole week, he has overate by 500 calories, which means he will not be losing fat overall.
To think I did this for months and months overeating every single week and I probably saw away more than 4000 calories at the weekend!
2. No carbs after 6pm.
This one was basically folklore, if you went to the gym and you wanted to get shredded you could not even set eyes on a carb after 6pm.
When I was a young, uneducated gym goer in my early 20s I would follow this rule to the letter. I would have my dinner around 5pm which would be salmon, sweet potato and veg every day. Then came the carb curfew looking back it was awful! For the rest of the night I would live off high calorie nuts and green tea, then come 9pm I would whipped up my casein protein shake, even writing this now makes me mad lol!
Your body just does not work like this. For example if you ate a banana at 5.50pm it does not think “right its before 6pm this can all go towards muscle glycogen and fuel tomorrow’s gym session”. Compared to if you ate a banana at 6.10pm your body thinking “oh no he has given me carbs after 6pm I am going to have to store this as fat” it just does not work like that!
The only way that restricting carbs after a certain time frame would result in fat loss, is because you are restricting total calories for that day. If you did this consistently over a period of time it would result in some sort of fat loss.
But on the flip side you could easily gain weight or go over your calories for the day, by following no carbs after 6pm. By cutting out carbs that only leaves you with protein and fats to eat for a period of time. As we know fats are more calorie dense containing 9 calories per gram. So if you spend the whole evening snacking on nuts, dark chocolate, coconut oil and avocado’s those food choices could easily push you over your calories for the day. If you do this on a consistent basis you will end up gaining weight and the whole no carbs after 6pm becomes pointless.
It will always come back to your overall energy balance.
Calories are king
No carbs after 6pm is a pauper compared to total calories.
3. Carb Backloading
So this was basically the opposite of the no carbs after 6pm crowd, like I said I have tried a lot of pointless stuff. It was the counter culture at the time, you had this guy call John D Kiefer who was saying you could eat all your carbs at night and get shredded to the bone. So of course I jumped right on it.
The whole carb backloading approach was marketed on 2 clear principles.
1. You ate just protein and fats up to your workouts
2. As soon as your workout finished you ate ALL the carbs you wanted!
The carb sources that were recommended and plastered all over the book and the adverts, were all very highly refined processed carbs. I am talking pizza, whole lasagnes, cookies, donuts, ice cream etc. I could not believe what I was reading, I could eat all this “junk” food and get shredded, no wonder it was so popular a few years back.
So my day was split into two very distinct eating patterns, first part of the day I lived off protein shakes, tinned mackerel and nuts awful I know. I would then train at around 4pm, have another protein shake, head home and devour all of the carbs in the sight.
There are many different reasons why this approach just does not work and more importantly is not sustainable.
1. There is no mention of calories of any kind, you tell people they can eat all this “junk” food they will. These types of foods contain a ton of calories and it becomes very easy to overeat on them.
2. Workout performance sucks! I found one thing following this is that my workouts sucked. The reason being I would literally have zero carbs leading up to my workouts. The training I was doing very much depended on my carb stores being topped up.
3. The majority of the day was a drag! When I was following this approach I was working as a PT in London, I was up at 5am most days and working on the gym floor. Living off protein shakes, tinned mackerel and nuts was awful. The day was such a drag, I was counting down the minutes until I could train, go home and smash a pizza. That is no way to live.
The only reason carb backloading results in any significant fat loss, is because you are restricting your calories so much during the day that when you do get home after training you still have soo many calories to consume that you just don’t have enough hours left in the day to consume them.
I have spoken to people in the past who have done carb backloading who skipped breakfast and would only have protein shakes and a handful of nuts up until when they trained. So by the time they get home at 7pm after they have trained they have only consumed around 500 calories for the whole day!
Morale of the story, there is nothing magical about the time of day when you eat your carbs. The fat loss gods do not give you special fat loss powers because you ate all your carbs after you trained.
The best way to effect overall fat loss is to change your energy balance which we will come onto later.
But we have 1 more horrendous fat loss gimmick to go.
4. The meat & nut breakfast
The meat & nut breakfast was based on the principle that the first thing that you put in your mouth, affects your neurotransmitters for the whole day, so basically affecting your mood for that day.
So if I eat some meat and nuts for breakfast I would be dancing out of my front door singing hymns, whereas if I had a bowl of Weetabix of would be ignoring every person that day and not uttering a word. I was sold! Lol
Now apart from the very important point that one meal does not make or break your fat loss efforts it is what you do on a consistent basis that will bring you results. You could have a meat and nut breakfast first thing but then the rest of the day you are eating McDonalds and devouring a whole pack of chocolate digestives. That meat and nut breakfast means nothing at this point.
But the main problem I encountered following this breakfast and probably the most important point when it comes to any fat loss diet was adherence. I just could not stick to this way of eating nor did I want to! I mean getting up every morning and munching on a bit of dry steak or turkey with some dry nuts does not sound appealing and believe me it is not.
It got to the stage where I was getting up each morning and dreading my breakfast and not looking forward to my food. The only reason I was doing it was because I thought it would bring me results and I was following this “gurus” advice and I fell for the marketing. I would normally stick to the breakfast for about 2-3 weeks after this I would think “screw this it’s awful”. That is one of the overriding themes of this blog you will never get substantial fat loss if you only following something for a few weeks.
Which brings us onto the 1 fat loss approach that has always worked for me and will work for you.
The one that works - Staying in a calorie deficit.
Yeah I know it sounds boring but it works believe me, coming from someone who has a lot of past experience of trying to lose fat, get lean , get shredded this is ALWAYS the principle that has worked for me.
Any sort of weight loss or fat loss will always come down to you overall energy balance. To lose fat you have to be in a negative energy balance and how do you create a negative energy balance?
You create a calorie deficit and you stay consistent with it for a sustained period of time. By being in a calorie deficit you are supplying your body with fewer calories than it actually needs so it is forced to burn fat.
But you cannot be in a calorie deficit for just a day, a week or even a few weeks you have to make a commitment to it for a sustained period of time if you want to get really lean. That is why adherence and consistency is so IMPORTANT and you have to find a diet that works for you and that fits into your lifestyle in which you can be consistent with.
Not to mention all of the fat loss gimmicks above are flawed in their scientific principles, but just by trying them all for a period of time they are NOT sustainable you will get sick and tired of them and you will probably stop doing them. If you cannot be consistent with a diet it will not bring you the long term results you are after, believe me I have tried.
The method that has allowed me to get very lean and shredded is being able to be consistent with a calorie deficit.
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All of the fat loss gimmicks above have one common theme, they are extremely hard and challenging to stick to and be consistent with.
I mean can you really see yourself for the next 6-12 months getting up and having a fillet steak and a handful of nuts or not even touching a carb after 6pm for the next year sounds awful and it is.
What I have found from my own experience and by reading all of the research and literature on fat loss, adherence and consistency is so important and it normally gets overlooked.
Staying in a calorie deficit is the one method that will get you results when it comes to fat loss. But everyone's calorie deficit diet will be different, mine is different to yours. But the great thing about a calorie deficit is it does not have to hard or a drag to stick to. You can make your calorie deficit diet work for you, make it fit your lifestyle and your schedule. This way you are in control of your fat loss diet, not the other way around.
The picture on the left was when I was the young, uneducated bro and I was following all of these extreme fat loss gimmicks. Yes I lost weight, but I probably lost muscle and had the strength of a kitten. My workout performance sucked and I was just doing tons of bicep curls and dumbell shrugs.
The picture on the right was taken earlier this year, after I had been cutting for a month, I am still cutting as I am prepping for a photoshoot. But I have retained the majority of my muscle, workouts performance is still dream. But more importantly I am following a diet I know I can stick to, therefore I know if I am consistent with it, it will bring me results and I can still have the odd pizza here and there.
Hope you enjoyed the blog.
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