Gain muscle lose fat

Can I Lose Fat and Gain Muscle at the Same Time? [Podcast Episode #046]

When I first started going to the gym I remember hearing guys talk about different workout "phases" they used to get big and muscular. They would do a "bulking" phase where they packed on the pounds, and then they used a "cutting" phase to reduce their body fat.

Get bigger, then get smaller? Does this really make sense?

Adding muscle and reducing fat can seem like opposite sides of the same coin. Is it possible to achieve both simultaneously? Today we're going to find out...

Episode Resources:

Can I Lose Fat And Gain Muscle At The Same Time? [Full Text]

Dave: Hey, thanks so much for joining me in this episode of the "Make Your Body Work" podcast. As you know, this show is all about helping you live a healthier, happier life. Today, we're going to tackle a question that I get a lot from men and women, and the question is all about doing two things at once: losing fat and building muscle. I'm not going to waste any time. Let's just dive right into our question that I got from Nate.

Nate says, "I've been working out on a regular basis five days per week, but I'm still not getting the results I'm looking for. I want to gain muscle but also continue to lose weight/fat. Is this possible? It seems like I'm asking my body to go in two different directions at the same time. Should I focus on one over the other?"

Nate, thanks for that question. I know a lot of you who are listening have asked that same question, so to all of you out there, we're going to tackle this today and I've got an amazing guest who, he is the expert in this.

His name is Anthony Balduzzi, and he runs a website called "The Fit Father Project," fitfatherproject.com, and I'm not going to spoil his story because he's got a neat story of how he started this "Fit Father Project," why he's doing it, and what the message is that he wants all of his followers and all the listeners on the podcast today to hear, so let's dive right in. I'd like you to meet Anthony.

Meet Anthony Balduzzi

Hey, Anthony. Thanks so much for joining us today.

Anthony: Thanks for having me, Dave. Appreciate it, buddy.

Dave: You've got a really cool thing going on, "The Fit Father Project," and I was wondering if you could just start off by telling us a little bit about how I got started and what it is that you do.

Anthony: Yeah, I had an interesting little initial foray into fitness. For me it actually came from seeing my own dad growing up be very sick. When I was about five, Dad got diagnosed with cancer, and for the next five years of my life I just saw his health deteriorate, deteriorate, until he passed away when I was nine years old.

When I saw that at a very young age, Dave, I really got a sense of how important it is for a full and rich life to have a highly functioning body, and I saw the toll it took on him as he saw his health slip, and I made a couple promises.

I made a couple promises to myself, to my mom, to my little brother, and to Dad, and those were that, one, I was going to figure out how to master health and fitness for myself to keep myself healthy so that I could provide as now stepping into a man role for my mom and little brother, and two, that I was going to figure out how to keep other dads healthy so that this didn't have to happen to anyone else, at least not on my watch.

So that initial spark of, I guess you could say, tragedy, really turned into one of the greatest gifts and blessings of my life, Dave, where now I have the opportunity to take the last almost two decades now of researching information on health and fitness, particularly for men, and getting them healthy, helping them build muscle, helping them make turnarounds and stay healthy for their family, and I get share that online to help people stay healthy, so that's really where "The Fit Father Project" came from, so it's as much of a passion project as it is my expertise in health and fitness.

Dave: That's a sad story but a cool story at the same time. I know I get e-mails from people a lot where, just like you said, they have to go through some sort of tragedy in life to get things rolling and realize, "Geez, I've got to sit back and figure things out before this happens to me."

Some of our greatest lessons in life come from tragic events. These events determine responsibilities for our future

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Anthony: Totally, and the thing is, I think the way a lot of modern life is set up for people, especially for men, is that we work so hard to provide for our families and we have these stressful jobs, and the first things that tend to slip when we're trying to provide are the eating, the exercise, the sleep, and then a lot of these guys wake up in their 40s and 50s and they're like, "Holy crap. How did I get here?" start to feel chest pains.

That's a moment where a lot of people decide to turn it around, but thankfully it doesn't have to get to that point. It doesn't have to get to the chest pain or the cancer diagnosis to turn things around, but sometimes life throws you that curveball and you can hit it.

Dave: Maybe you're familiar with this. There's a neat little decision-making tool I've seen before, and it just popped into my head while we were chatting there. It's called an urgency versus importance decision-making tool, and it's a 2 x 2 matrix.

Anthony: Yeah. Totally.

Dave: You know what I'm talking about here. All those decisions that are related to our health, unfortunately, are usually never urgent, but they're so important.

Anthony: Well, yeah. That's why they get postponed and postponed and postponed, because we're [fielding the reactively 00:04:34] all these other things. It's a beautiful insight, for sure, Dave.

Dave: We'll jump right into Nate's question, and it's cool. He wrote in, this was quite a while ago, actually. I've been waiting for the perfect guest to answer this question and you were the man, so he basically says, "Listen, I'm trying to lose weight but I also want to add some muscle to my frame. It seems like I'm kind of pulling my body in two different directions. What do I do about it?" Is that something that you've heard from other people that you work with as well?

Is It Possible to Gain Muscle and Lose Fat at the Same Time?

Anthony: All the time. I think the main goal of the guy I work with, the quintessential guy, is, "Hey, look, Anthony. I want to lose my belly fat, but I still want to build muscle on my chest, my arms, and have more energy," so I think the nature of losing fat and building muscle at the same time is literally the Holy Grail of, we could say, bodybuilding or fitness. It's really what we all want to achieve.

First off, I want to say that it is 100% possible and I think our goal over the next couple minutes in this conversation is to lay out some actionable strategies to help people understand the process that is not as simple as picking one particular goal, be that, "Okay, I'm going to do a lean bulk and put on some muscle for X amount of days," or, "I'm going to do a diet and do this for X amount of days."

It's possible to do both simultaneously, and really the way I see things is there are three main variables that we're going to play with. We're going to use some particular tricks to make that possible for a guy like Nate out there.

We're going to play with our nutrition, we're going to play with exercise, and we're going to play with a specific accountability structure. So if you like, Dave, I could just dive in to start talking about how I approach this problem and what makes trying to lose fat and build muscle different than if you're just trying to diet or just trying to build muscle. Does that sound good?

Dave: Yeah. Let's get right in. I'm glad already that you talked about accountability. Quite often, people think about fitness, whatever their fitness goals is, as two variables, the diet and exercise piece, so okay, we're speaking the same language right from the get-go.

What is "Nutrient Partitioning"?

Anthony: Perfect. Okay, so with nutrition I think the biggest thing for what Nate said when he wrote in is that he's been exercising five days per week, and I just want to pause on that part of his initial question to you for a second because I think a lot of people get hung up on the fact that the best way to build fat and lose muscle is to focus primarily on exercise, and listen, exercise is extremely important and we want to do specific kinds of exercise to re-comp our bodies, to build muscle and lose fat simultaneously.

However, when it comes to body re-composition, particularly fat loss and muscle building, the diet I would say is the lion's share of the priority with what we need to dial in to really make the true changes to the body comp, you can exercise five days per week with a crappy diet and you can get very strong, but your body comp is not going to change until you get your nutrition dialed in, so that's the first thing we need to look at.

If you ignore your health, it will go away. Maintain it with good food and regular exercise.

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Really, when it comes down to what we're describing here from a nutritional, biochemical standpoint, is what we do with our diets is create something called nutrient partitioning, and that's a kind of … We're not getting too deep into the science. It's basically that when we eat calories in the form of protein, carbs, or fat, they can go any number of places in our body.

Carbohydrates can be stored as glycogen in our muscles. They can be oxidized immediately for energy. Fats can be burned or they can be stored, and proteins can be used to be burned for fuel or they can be used to initiate protein synthesis, so nutrient partitioning is essentially the art of helping our bodies get the carbs and the proteins and the amino acids into our muscles without getting them into our fat cells.

So it's like, how can we actually direct where nutrients are going instead of just eating something willy-nilly and letting the body on its own decide where it feels like putting this at any given point in time based on our chemistry or hormones in that moment.

Dave: I'm sure you're going to cover this, but is it timing that you look at? Is it types of food? Is it pairing certain types of food? How do you actually do that?

Anthony: All of the above, and that's exactly what I want to dive into. I think the first thing when it comes to this goal of creating nutrient partitioning is understanding that when it comes to body recomposition, which I'm going to use that term for anyone who's looking to build muscle and lose fat at the same time...

we want to sync up our nutrition and our exercise almost like they met up in a perfect dance to create nutrient partitioning, because one of the main benefits of exercise outside of the fact that, yes, it creates this micro-trauma to our muscles that causes this super compensation and we build muscle outside the gym, is that exercise, and strength training in particular, creates a nutrient partitioning effect that a lot of people call this "postworkout window" or all these kind of things.

Taking Advantage of Carb Receptors

But this is really important when it comes to body re-comp, because after exercise what essentially happens is all of our cells, our fat cells, our muscle cells, have what I'm simply going to call carb receptors. Specifically they're called GLUT4 receptors, and these are receptors that essentially shuttle carbohydrates that we eat into our muscles, into our fat cells, and post exercise here's the coolest thing that happens.

Those receptors on the fat cells actually go under the surface. They endocytose, and those fat cells become more resistant to uptaking nutrients, and the muscle cells that have just been depleted from strength training exercise, they put more receptors on the surface – that's called GLUT4 translocation – and those muscles become sponges for carbohydrates.

So with this first really basic piece of science in mind is, one kind of trick and really actual thing we want to do is we want to base the majority of our carbohydrate intake in the postworkout period, and this is not like you have magical 15- to 17-minute window to eat your carbs or any stuff that some kind of a fitness mag will tell you.

This effect and the insulin sensitivity benefits and the GLUT4 translocation, this lasts for a number of hours. I'm not sure exactly how long, but you get a metabolic boosting benefit of workouts, up to 24 to 48 hours sometimes depending on the exercise, but the point is, in that postworkout window, practically speaking over the next four or five hours, that is when you should eat the lion's share of your carbs, so that's one way to really easily take handle of your nutrient partitioning and make your diet more enjoyable, because another thing about body re-comp is it's a process that takes time.

Because we know now that carbs are best taken postworkout and we can essentially have foods that we can be a little more flexible with in that postworkout period. So I'm not saying you should go out and necessarily eat a bunch of crap or eat a bunch of pizza bagels or anything like that, but were you to eat those foods because you're human and you like enjoying your diet in addition to chasing your body composition goals, the postworkout period, to take advantage of some of that nutrient partitioning would be the time to do that.

The best time for your body to take in carbohydrates is immediately following a hard workout.

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Dave: Can I just jump in and ask a quick question?

Anthony: Yeah, definitely.

Dave: When you're talking about carbs postworkout, yeah, okay, so someone can go eat some pizza and your body will process it more efficiently or have a less likelihood of storing it as fat postworkout, but ideally, what would you recommend for carbs?

Setting Up Your Ideal Post-Workout Nutrition Plan

Anthony: In the ideal postworkout period, what our bodies really need in that time are the carbohydrates, and I'm going to get into specific sources in a second, to really replenish that glycogen, to help initiate some of the recovery, and actually, carbs via insulin signaling help your body build muscle on their own through a downstream cascade using a protein signal called mTOR.

But anyway, carbs and proteins is really what we need post-workout. We ideally want to keep the fats low postworkout, so pizza would be a bad idea to have postworkout, even though I mentioned that trick of being flexible with your diet. I think that's extremely important for long-term success on any kind of meal plan.

however, ideally you'd want something … what I would do is postworkout I would probably get 30 to 40 grams of some kind of protein in my body in the form of a powder because it's quick and convenient, and I would be using something like a whey-casein blend or a whey-casein-egg blend, and there's some new research out there that shows that protein blends postworkout outperform single whey protein, which has been the gold-standard staple as a postworkout protein. I'd probably get 30 to 40 grams of that, and that's probably sufficient for those first 30 minutes.

You don't necessarily need carbs in that initial postworkout period, and then about an hour later I would have a meal containing some kind of carb that my body tolerates well, which typically ends up being sweet potatoes, any kind of rice, oatmeal, fruit, maybe Ezekiel bread, some kind of high-quality non-processed bread, and then I'd pair that with any kind of protein that I like, which for me happens to be fish, chicken, steak, eggs, anything like that.

So I want you to think of pairing a go-to carbohydrate for you, anything that you know your body handles and processes well that's on the low-fat side, any of those carbohydrates that I just listed are carb sources, they don't have fats in them, and then I would pair it with any kind of protein, and then you're set for a great postworkout meal, and that's just the general framework. Think of a complex carb source plus a protein and you're set.

Dave: Cool. Can you explain why you avoid fats postworkout?

Anthony: Yeah. Essentially what fats do … It's not that postworkout fat necessarily gets stored as fat because our body is constantly storing and oxidizing all kinds of nutrients, but the main thing is that fats slow down the digestion process, and this is another good little nugget that is within Nate's question but also a little bit ancillary, is that fats slow down digestion and fats stabilize blood sugar and essentially when you add fat to any given meal the meal releases much more slowly.

In the postworkout period this is a period where we'd ideally like to get nutrients shuttled into your muscles as quickly as possible, so by keeping fats out of the meal we can essentially get that meal delivered to the muscles at a quicker rate, and that's just the ideal scenario.

Throughout the day, though, we have the opposite scenario where we'd like to include some healthy fats in our meal to have those meals time released and keep our energy levels stable, so for example, Dave, let's say we had a meal of chicken and brown rice, which is a very common fitness-y, hard-core, bodybuilding-style meal, right?

"Oh my gosh, I'm just going to eat some brown rice and chicken and get ripped, man," but we take that meal and if we were to even add a tablespoon of olive oil or if we were to add a half an avocado, something that's 15 to 25 grams of fat there, we would essentially be dramatically changing the blood sugar response of that meal by just adding those healthy fats, and that meal will release so much more slowly, our blood sugar will stay so much more stable.

So it's a good idea throughout your days to pair some healthy fats with your meals, but in the postworkout period we want that faster digestion and we want to get those carbs and those proteins shuttled into your muscles, so we keep the fat low.

That's why it's great to have just a nice protein powder postworkout, only need about 30 grams, for the purpose of body re-comp. For a guy like Nate, I would probably throw in 5 grams of creatine monohydrate, which new research is also showing, taken in the postworkout period, also helps independently create more protein synthesis, and we can get more into supplements down the line if we have some time, but essentially that's what I do. I would do the protein shake, and then an hour later I'd have a meal with some carbs, protein, on the lower fat side.

Dave: Perfect. Anthony, honestly, you and I are so much along the same path. I get the exact same advice. I actually just wrote an article last week talking about postworkout nutrition, and my whole purpose was to get guys over the mentality that a simple protein shake with no carbs, your 20 grams of protein, is good enough as a meal. I feel like that's been the standard for years, and it's just not the case.

Anthony: Yeah, exactly.

Dave: We covered nutrition. What do you say for exercise, then? What style exercise? Are there particular exercises that you recommend? What advice would you give?

How to Use Calorie Cycling as a Tool for Improved Progress

Anthony: Can I make one more comment on the nutrition, because I'm happy we got to talk about nutrient partitioning in that postworkout period, but I think the biggest number one thing when it comes to body re-comp on the nutrition front is having a way to practically do some basic calorie cycling.

If you want to improve your body in the form of building muscle and losing fat at the same time, like Nate, on your off days, days you're not training, so Nate trains five days a week, on your two off days you'd be eating fewer calories.

You may even be in a slight calorie deficit, and on your training days you might eat at maintenance or a little bit above, and there's a lot of loaded things in what I said, but the point is that if you want to achieve both goals simultaneously you almost need two kinds of days in your diet.

You'll need days where you're at a slight calorie deficit on days you're not training, and on days you're lifting weights you can have a slight calorie surplus. Honestly, for a guy like Nate, that takes having some general information about the basic macronutrients that your body needs to maintain body weight, to gain a little muscle and lose a little bit of fat.

By no means am I saying that you have to count your calories or count your macros or use a MyFitnessPal app to log every food you eat. That stuff can be useful for people who are looking to get to a very high level of fitness, but the point is that you still need to have a general sense of eating fewer calories on your off days, more calories on your training days, and that's called calorie cycling, and by the nature of calorie cycling you'll probably be carb cycling as well, which basically means, let's say we remove that postworkout meal and that shake.

We might be cutting 100 grams of carbs out on those off days just from removing that shake. You're naturally carb cycling by calorie cycling, so that's just a very fundamental tenet for any guy looking to build muscle and lose fat at the same time, and I like to keep it simple.

In fact, with clients, Dave, when I set up these meal plans, I set up the meal plans the exact same way so they're eating a same permutation of meals they enjoy for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, the portion sizes are the same.

The way we manipulate between off and on days is using those calories in the postworkout period, so that's a way that just by inserting or removing that shake we can calorie cycle and carb cycle at the same time and it keeps things super simple, because...

I think simplicity is really the crux of the long-term gain when it comes to winning at fitness, and we make things so complicated and we split hairs and we lose the behavioral simplicity aspect, so that's the last thing I'll say about nutrition. We can probably talk about this, you and I, for another two days. We can move onto exercise to serve Nate and his question best. Does that sound good?

Dave: Yeah, totally. One thing for the listeners out here, I had a guest on my podcast, Episode #37, so makeyourbodywork.com/37, and Dr. Jason Fung, he talked about intermittent fasting, and I know that sounds a little bit scary and maybe a huge change from just changing of your calories a little bit, but he gives some really good strategies of condensing your eating time during the day and how that can drastically change the amount of calories you're intaking, so instead of eating for 12 hours throughout the day, eat your meals compacted within an eight-hour period, and just for the listeners again, check that out. It would be really good supplementary listening for what Anthony just described here.

Anthony: Even better, you could use intermittent fasting like that on your off days when you're not training, Nate.

Dave: Exactly.

Anthony: That would be just a killer simple strategy to cut down those calories and to get a better calorie cycling effect.

Dave: Yeah, exactly. Yeah, so let's dive right in to exercise. What do you recommend?

It's Time to Exercise For "Body Re-Composition"

Anthony: Okay, so when it comes to body re-comp we really have to play on two sides of the coin. We need strength training. Ideally, I would say for a body re-comp, probably four days per week, and we would need some kind of metabolic interval-style training to augment our metabolisms and augment fat loss, so I would probably do two kinds of setups for clients.

I would either have them do three times per week full-body training, which, believe it or not, new research is also showing that full-body resistance training may be more effective than split routines, really cool stuff from Brad Schoenfeld coming out, so I would probably either due two setups.

I would do three days of full-body training with two days of metabolic interval-style work, or four days of strength training on an upper-lower type split using compound movements, very high-quality exercises, with one day of dedicated high-intensity interval training style work, and it's important to have the strength training right to stimulate the muscle building that we're trying to create.

In strength training also, people need to also understand that it creates a huge post exercise metabolic boost, so it's very fat burning, too, in the process, and then we'll throw in one day of directed metabolic work to really burn some fat, and I consider on days when I have clients do that metabolic interval work, I have them eat as if it were an off day.

That helps to, in terms of creating that little bit of a calorie deficit, to get the fat loss going, and this is specifically for a guy who's like, "Anthony, I want to build muscle and lose fat at the same time," so I'll have them eat off-day lower calories, so no postworkout shake or anything like that on the day they're doing the interval-style training, but on those four strength training days, again, we're using the basic fundamentals of good muscle building.

We're picking compound multi-joint exercises, so our core staples like pull-ups, bench press, squats, dead lifts, rows, maybe a little bit of curls and a little bit of arm work because we're guys and we do a little bit of that anyways, but the high-quality bang-for-your-buck-exercises. We're using constant progression with our weights, so we're tracking our weights, and when we had the right rep ranges we're increasing our weights constantly, and I think this is a huge hangup for guys as they're looking to build muscle.

Most guys in the gym aren't tracking their weights and they're not being intentional about making the increases that our body responds to that constant progression and constantly, even micro-increases in the weight, even squatting 5, 10 pounds more over the span of a couple workouts creates the kind of gains we're looking for.

So compound multi-joint exercises, constantly increasing the weights and tracking that stuff is really the core fundamentals of any good strength training program, and there are a lot of great resources online for doing that stuff, and Dave, I'm sure you have a lot of great stuff and people on this podcast or people on your site on how to set up an optimal strength training routine for muscle building.

Keep Track Of Your Progress!

Dave: Yeah, let me ask you a quick question. Actually, I was in the gym last night and a friend of mine was making fun of me for all the notes that I take while I'm working out. What do you recommend to your clients? What should they be tracking?

Anthony: Yeah, totally. I'm kind of old-school. I started tracking my weights when I started weight training when I was 10 and we can have smart phones at that time, so I got used to using a little Moleskine-style notebook, which is actually a really powerful tip and I prefer it over the smart phone or anything like that, one, because it keeps you off your phone. You're here to lift, first off, so it keeps you more dialed into the process, but two, it's a tangible, visible cue that's really easy to have.

You see it. After you do your set, you go over to your logbook and you're obviously logging your start time of your lift and your end time. You're logging what you did for your warm-up and your mobility. I like to log what things feel good that day and what things don't in terms of, I'm warming up my shoulders and my back, or let's say I had a long day sitting at work and things are tight.

I'll take note of those things and I'll be able to fine-tune the future on what things in my lifestyle are causing me to hurt, because that's important when it comes to the long-term success and your mobility when it comes to exercise, and I'll obviously log the sets, the reps, the rest time, and then the end time of the workout. After, I'd say 50% of the time, I'll do a little quick 30-second journal recap on what worked well in the workout, what I felt worked really well, what didn't.

Progress is the sum of every little gain you make. None seem particularly impressive until you add them up!

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That gives me the ability to make tweaks and changes down the line, because I can give any given guy a blanket good strength-training program with exercises, but until you get in there and you do it and you feel the exercises that work for you, the ones that don't, unless you're journaling that long-term, you can really make those tweaks and make something that's really individualized for you, your mechanics, and what you enjoy doing most.

Dave: I loved the fact that you mentioned start and end time, and I jot down my total time in a workout and I've had people ask me why I do that, and maybe you can tell me your rationale.

For me, I want to know did I get talking to someone in the gym or did I get distracted and really elongate my workout because that changes the performance, so if I see all of a sudden, oh, my bench press was 10 pounds heavier today and didn't know that it's because I took a six-minute rest before that set, it can be really confusing when you see that next week and think, "Geez, was I just super strong inset number four?"

Anthony: Totally, yeah. I'm on the same page. I'm a headphones guy in the gym, so I've got that mean mug like don't bother me here, and then I'm a nice guy after when I've got my protein in me, but yeah, the start, end time is to make sure you're focused, and also, it's a little competitive.

If you know that a workout generally takes you 45, 50 minutes to complete, it's good to know that you have that benchmark to know which rest periods are ideal, and also, when you log your work time and your workout times you're going to subconsciously be more focused on getting more work done in less time, and that's what we really refer to in terms of program as density, having more volume done in less time, and when it comes to just purely strength gains there's a lot of benefit to taking longer rest periods.

However, when it comes to body recomposition, building muscle and losing fat at the same time, workout density, getting more sets done in less time, is a great variable to be watching and chasing because a more dense workout, if you will, more work in a shorter workout, is going to create a greater metabolic effect, which is going to have a greater effect on your body composition and your body re-comp goals, so that's another reason.

I'm competitive with myself, and I love to beat my times. Heck, even if my weights stayed the same and my reps stayed the same but I got more work done in less time, that's progression in all senses of the word, so there's a lot of ways to progress with your workouts.

Dave: Yeah, love it, and like you said, getting more done in less time, who doesn't want that? Honestly, unless you're a bodybuilder that's trying to put on huge amounts of muscle, there's very few guys that won't benefit from speeding up their workouts.

Anthony: Totally.

Define Your Accountability Structure

Dave: At the start of this little chat here, you talked about some sort of accountability. What is your mechanism for accountability?

Anthony:, Well, I think in a couple ways, as a coach I create very transparent structures with my clients, to this extent, Dave, so if I have guys coming to me and, "Anthony, I want to lose weight. This is my start weight, this is my end weight,"

I have guys with themselves daily and e-mail me their weight daily, and it's not because I'm expecting to see weight loss drop every single day, but it's because any metric that we want to improve we have to track and be brutally honest and transparent about, and this is really important, too, and yeah, I think it's a cool Peter Drucker quote.

Peter Drucker is a very famous management consultant. He says "the things that are not tracked and transparent won't improve" so when it comes to weight loss we track weight every day, and the cool thing about this, too, is that when we see weight jumps.

Let's say you woke up tomorrow, Dave, and after you had a long night of working, you didn't even eat that bad but maybe you missed a couple hours of sleep and you see your weight jump the next morning or something like that, because we track our weight daily and because you e-mail it to either a partner or a coach like myself, we can get to know your body a lot and how it responds to certain variables.

Maybe you had a huge dinner and your weight jumps the next day. Okay, cool. What foods did you eat? How much did you eat? We get some transparency on that front. So what I like when it comes to body re-comp, it's very helpful to be logging those workouts and having a journal and tracking your weight daily, and it's one thing to be doing this with yourself. It's a whole 'nother thing to be doing it with a coach and with a partner and really creating a dashboard where your weight is logged, your exercises are logged.

If you're a data nerdy kind of guy like I am sometimes, you can get really complex with how you build these dashboards. For my clients, I use Google Sheets or any kind of cloud thing where we track where they're in there every single day uploading their weight, checking boxes if they nailed their workouts, and checking boxes if they nailed their nutrition, and that creates a long-term trend dashboard for us that enables me to hop in there any time and see how they're doing, and I think a lot of times we're willing to lie to ourselves about what we did and we're willing to cut corners with ourselves.

When we create accountability structures with other people that we respect, be that friends and colleagues, or even a coach would be the best thing because they can provide that 360-degree view and perspective on the process, we're much less likely to fall off track when we create accountability structures with other people. so I like creating dashboards because that creates a lot of structure around the process.

And another thing I like to do, Dave, is work in specific timed blocks, like when it comes to body re-comp, a 90-day challenge would be a good, productive amount of time where it activates a lot of core things in our psychology when we know we're doing a 90-day program and we have everything mapped out ahead of time and there's a start and end goal and it doesn't feel like we're just starting this never-ending fitness challenge.

That can be very demotivating when we don't know that there's an end date that we're accountable to as well and that there's an end date that we get to check in. Heck, once we get to that 90 days, we're probably going to assess what worked well, what didn't, reevaluate our goals, and start a new challenge of some sort.

Put a timeline to your goals. Without a deadline, a goal is just a dream.

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But I like programs that have specific time dates, not because the fitness journey ever ends, but because it gives us structure, gives us something to work towards, and it's much more engaging.

When I have an eight-week workout designed for a client and we have a de-load week on the ninth week and we can evaluate the progress, everyone's more engaged in the process. It's more fun and there's so much more clarity on what to do on all the workouts and eating.

Dave: That's fantastic. I'll ask you a question, though, about tracking your weight on a daily basis. I agree with you that having metrics to track progress is huge, and I agree that tying it as closely on a day-by-day basis can show you different variables that you can change to play with or to make that weight shift.

Do you ever work with clients, though, where it becomes obsessive and becomes mentally demotivating when they set those movements in the wrong direction?

Anthony: Great point, and I guess I want to first off apologize. I'm giving advice based off what works really well for a vast majority of people based on the systems that I run at "The Fit Father Project," but everything that I've said here, although it's sound advice, is not a one-size-fits-all.

Dave: Totally.

Anthony: We need to know what kind of person is on the fitness program, not what kind of fitness program we're putting on top of the person. Again, the purpose of the weight tracking is not to see the weight drop every single day. It's to stay accountable to the fact that subconsciously we know we're weighing and it keeps us more accountable to our habits.

However, if you're the type of person that has had problems and a bad relationship with the scale in the past and do get demotivated when you see a couple pound jumps, then this might not be for you.

Then I would maybe consider extending it out, not necessarily to the week mark that is preached as a common "weigh yourself every week" kind of dogma, because I think the problem with the week-mark weighing is that there's too much time in between …

It doesn't give you enough close, immediate feedback on how you've been doing with your eating and your exercise, and there's a lot more drifting that can happen in the span of seven days.

I would maybe extend it out to three, four days to see your trend, and if your weight hasn't moved in four days, hey, maybe it gives us some idea to build a new relationship to the weight and maybe see, okay, what variables were not great over the past four days, what haven't we done, so I guess to ride on the wisdom and light you're shining with this question you asked me, Dave, is it doesn't have to be daily.

I think there's a lot of benefit to more frequent weighing than every seven days, and we can find a kind of structure that works for you, and this is when it comes to weight loss. For a guy like Nate, when we're re-comping, a four-day weigh is fine. I'm just giving some different structures that someone can intuitively take and say, "I think this will work best for me."

Dave: I like that you used the word "habits" there, and I know what the clients I work with we usually, when we're building those habits, weigh more frequently because, as you said, you are playing with these variables that can have a direct impact on what the scale shows, and then as someone gets those habits more ingrained in their life, maybe weighing every four days or even every seven days is fine, because those habits, they're happening anyway and you've already done that experimentation process.

Anthony: Totally. Yeah, I agree with that 100%.

Make Your Body Work Takeaway

Dave: Anthony, we like to keep the show short and to the point, and like you said, I feel like you and I could chat for ages about this stuff, but I always finish the show with something called a "Make Your Body Work" takeaway, and that's one really actionable steps that someone like Nate could take today, so for a guy or even a woman who's looking to recomposition their body, lose that fat, but also add some muscle, what's one thing they can start using today?

Anthony: Okay. Again, I think the highest-leverage thing we talked about for someone to actually see results is not tweaking an exercise program. It's really dialing down the nutrition and getting clarity on an actual structure of some general meal timing, and that's not to say that we have to necessarily get super rigid, but I would have somebody do a diet diary or a diet recall for three, four days to see what they're eating at certain times.

Then I would have them write down their three favorite foods in the categories of protein, carbs, and fat. So what are their go-to proteins that they actually enjoy eating, be that chicken, fish, turkey, sirloin steak, it doesn't matter; their three go-to carbs – these could be healthy things like brown rice, oatmeal, fruit, whatever; and then have them write down their three healthy fats that they like, things like avocado, nuts, seeds, eggs, olive oil, whatever, and I would have those lists of those three go-to proteins, three go-to carbs, three go-to fats.

Nobody will every say "I regret eating healthy today." Make choices you won't regret.

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Then I would build three to four meals in throughout the day using those foods that they already love at times that work for them, so a common framework would be maybe if they're not using an fasting framework, maybe a breakfast at eight, meal two at noon, some kind of snack at four, and then dinner at seven, and I would build three meals and I would probably prep those go-to foods in bulk, and really…

I guess, maybe this has turned into 2.5 tips in there, Dave, but my point in saying this is we need to take hold of nutrition. We need to make it simple and sustainable and habits-based, so to do that we need to get clarity on the healthy foods that we actually love, we need to prep those things in bulk, and we need to know generally, have a structure that we know when we're eating these foods throughout the day.

Dave: Before the show, we got talking about a resource that you've generously offered up to the audience here that's going to help with exactly that.

Anthony: Yeah, it's pretty much one of our most popular giveaways at "The Fit Father Project" is what we call our "1-Day Meal Plan," and again, we work with men at "The Fit Father Project," but all listeners on this show, girls, dogs, cats, could benefit from this exact framework that I lay out in this meal plan.

At fitfatherproject.com/simple I have a free "1-Day Meal Plan" that essentially lays out what I consider a very ideal one day of eating, how you might structure these three meals and that snack throughout the day, and it gives you exact sample recipes and the timing and all that stuff, so it's a really cool one-page web resource and it's free.

Enter your e-mail, I send it to you right away, and yeah, so happy to share that with your people because I know it's going to serve everybody on this call, guys like Nate and other people who are just tuning in because this is a really important topic.

Dave: Anthony, awesome. For the listeners, there's going to be all the show notes for this episode. If you go to makeyourbodywork.com/46 you'll find that link to the "1-Day Meal Plan" and a bunch of other resources that we chatted about on this show, so you can check it out there, makeyourbodywork.com/46. Anthony, you have shared so much wisdom. I really appreciate you coming on the show. Thanks so much.

Anthony: Thanks, Dave. Thanks for having me, buddy. Appreciate it.

Dave: Thanks again, Anthony, for joining us today and for all the wisdom that you shared, and I just want to emphasize to all the listeners, his free resource, this idea of a one-day meal plan is so important because once you have an idea of what your go-to proteins, carbs, fats are and how to make those into easy but enjoyable meals, it's very easy to replicate that and make little tweaks to it and get some variety throughout the rest of your week, but it all starts with that first day.

Can you do it once, and once you've nailed that first day, then think about replicating it, like I said, for the rest of the week and going forward, so be sure to go to the show notes and check that out, download your own copy. Again, that's at makeyourbodywork.com/46, and for anyone out there who wants a little bit more help dialing in your own diet, creating a plan that's unique for you, I'd love to be your coach.

You can check out my coaching program at 10in4.com. Again, that's 10in4.com, and for four weeks we'll work together to do exactly that: dial in your diet, figure out an exercise routine that works for you, and create a plan that's going to help you get the results you're looking for. Things again to everyone for tuning into this episode of "Make Your Body Work" podcast, and I can't wait to see you here again next week.

Thanks for joining me today!

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Dave

Dave Smith has been a personal trainer since 2001 and was chosen as Canada's Top Fitness Professional in 2013 for his dedication to his clients' success. Download his "Sweet Spot" plan [FREE!] to begin your weight-loss journey today!

  • Beate Probst

    Awesome great podcast, where in earth Dave do you get those interesting guests like Anthony and thank you Anthony for coming on Dave’s show…… always learn so much….thank you

    • Thanks Beate – Really glad you liked this episode, and learned something from Anthony’s message. I agree – he’s pretty awesome! 🙂