Basic Training…and Diet (Part 5)

So this time, we’re going to discuss some tips, tricks, and other things that just didn’t fit anywhere else. A lot of these things are going to be tips and tricks for sticking with it. Some of this is stuff I mentioned in the second article and am going to expand on now.

Ori Hofmekler wrote in The Warrior Diet how something interesting will happen when you start eating real, non-processed foods. You’ll start to enjoy everything more. Processed and refined foods are bold and overstimulate your senses. They dull down to compensate. Less stimulating flavors will make your tongue more sensitive to everything and open your palate. Eat vegetables to your heart’s content. Have at least one big green salad per day and before you eat a meal. Alternately, throw some grilled/broiled chicken breast and hard boiled egg on the salad and make that the entire meal itself.

Hofmekler also wrote that you should aim to include as many of your senses as possible in your diet. Your brain will be much more satisfied if your diet contains lots of colors, flavors, textures, smells, both hot and cold foods, etc. The more of your senses are stimulated, the more you’ll enjoy everything and be happier with what you’re doing…translating into stricter adherence.

Speaking of adherence, it’s not necessary for most people to be hardliners when it comes to diet. In fact, Lyle McDonald wrote an entire book (A Guide To Flexible Dieting) about why slightly more casual dieters tend to succeed more than stricter dieters That said, you also can’t be too loose with what you’re doing. Depending how restrictive you’re being with calorie intake, you can take a free meal from time to time. I would recommend one every 10 days or so for someone that’s following the 20% reduction guideline. This isn’t the time to throw down everything that isn’t nailed down but you can be a little more lenient. The only guideline I can really give you for figuring that out is to make your free meal last no more than an hour in duration and to continue doing what you’ve been doing (vegetables, lean protein, complex carbs) but either eat a little more than normal or add something you wouldn’t normally eat…fries or a brownie or something like that.

Sometimes progress will stop entirely. This is an important time and a time when you need to be VERY carefully tracking your intake as well as progress through photos and measurements. Keep a record of your actual progress beyond just the scale. Sometimes (and especially if you’ve carbed up), your progress might stall for 2 days or so because of retained water. If you’ve given it a couple days and decided that your progress has really stopped, it’s probably time for a maintenance break.

A maintenance break is exactly what it sounds like. You break the diet on purpose for a time to help re-boost the metabolism so you can get things moving again. Eventually, you’ll be able to predict your body’s response and schedule your breaks in. Follow the same guidelines for this as you would for the free meals but raise your overall calorie level to maintenance levels for 10-14 days. If you’re low-carbing, you’ll probably see a sharp weight gain, this is just water and glycogen so there’s really nothing to be worried about.

Once you’re done with the diet (reached your target), it’s time to come off it and maintain. You already have an idea of what your maintenance level is supposed to be. It’s generally a bad idea to jump directly from dieting intake to maintenance intake because you run the risk of binging. Ramp the calories up slightly, say, 100-150 extra per day until you’ve reached your maintenance level. This will help you readjust to a more permanent increase in intake. If you find you’re gaining again, it’s time to rein it in and cut back. Keep a pair of jeans/dress/other clothing item to use as your litmus test. If it starts getting tight again, put the fork down.

While you’re maintaining, continue to exercise as you would while dieting. Since you’ll be taking in more calories, you should be increasing your intensity and training even harder than you were on the diet. Your body will thank you.

The last thing I want to discuss is supplementation. A lot of people believe they need to spend a lot of money at GNC in order to get any progress and that’s just not the case. Supplements are just that…supplements. They’re supposed to be added to your diet, not be the bulk of the diet.

A daily multi-vitamin is absolutely a requirement as are fish oil capsules. Omega-3 fatty acids are found in many sources but fish oil has the best mechanism for delivery. An explanation of why it’s important can be found in Mmmmm…Fat, which I have referenced before.

After that, a protein supplement is useful for training days but not necessary. Creatine monohydrate (and specifically monohydrate) is also very useful for resistance training in addition to being the most studied dietary supplement in history yet also being the most misunderstood by the layman.

Sometimes other supplements will have their uses but these are the only four that I would consider recommended. Some other vitamin complexes

This is pretty much the end of the diet articles for now. I will come back later and dive into some more intense and strict diet protocols. For now, just clean things up and I’ll come back in a few days to start talking about training.