Inside The Mind Of A Diet Coach

Andy MorganNews & Site Introductions39 Comments

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The last four years have been something of a rollercoaster journey for which I have you, the readers to thank.

Whether you have actually hired me or just sent me an e-mail to tell me your story and say thanks, whether you have peppered me with questions in the site comments, shared on Facebook, or just simply silently lurked and clicked through my articles – I am grateful because it has all helped to keep me fed, watered, motivated and doing what I love.

I’ve taken the last 6 months off from coaching to work on improving the information on the site. This break is turning out to be a little longer than I originally anticipated as I have been getting a little carried away having fun with it, and before coming back to the coaching I wanted to really give it my all and give as much back as I can.

I’ve emptied my head – my coaching systems and philosophies – into a book for those that may be interested.

I’ve called it, ‘The Last Shred: How to Adjust Your Diet Like a Pro to Achieve Single Digit Body Fat‘, my first proper book in four years. It’s written on what I feel is one of the most important and yet underrated topics, something that separates those that are successful from those that aren’t.

This is written for those coaches that asked me to teach them but I had to decline due to lack of time or a system in place for it, and for the serious trainees that can’t afford coaching, don’t want to wait for me to become available, or want to learn how to do it themselves. – This is a way to get access to what’s in my head for a fraction of the cost of actual coaching.

The Last Shred:

How To Adjust Your Diet Like A Pro To Achieve Single Digit Body Fat

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63 pages, 7 data analysis & coaching decision explanation videos.

>> More details & FREE sample chapters <<

Now, there are a few of things I’d like to point out:

  1. This is definitely not a mainstream book, it’s never going to be on any bestseller lists as there are simply too many nerdy details. I’m writing it cause I want to help, and I’m charging to make sure that the information is respected and put to good use. You may find my choice of phrase “giving back” somewhat amusing given that I’m selling it, but the amount of money I’ll make from book sales compared with what I could earn from coaching for the same time investment is peanuts in comparison. Also, I am being exceptionally open in explaining exactly what I do and how I do it.
  2. I take pride in my work. This is going to be my flagship book. I have worked hard to make this first edition great, bouncing it around some industry friends to get feedback for improvements before bringing it to you. However, it is not a finished product and I feel it never will be – I learn new things every day, I evolve as a coach, so I’ll update and improve it over the coming months and years and these updates will be free to those that buy it.
  3. Lastly, if you do buy it and it fails to live up to expectation, tell me how I can improve it for you in a future edition, or just ask for a refund within 30 days and I’ll get that done without question. I’ll take it on good faith that people won’t abuse this.

You can find out more details, view a couple of sample chapters, and get your copy here. I’ve put my heart and soul into it and I hope you find it as exceptionally useful and immediately applicable as intended.

The next things I’ll be working on are a training book collaboration with Eric Helms and Andrea Valdez to help Eric turn his ‘Muscle and Strength Training Pyramid’ & ‘Muscle & Strength Nutrition Pyramid’ Youtube series into books. (Listen to the last 5 minutes of this podcast if you’re interested in finding out how that came about.). I’ll then get to revamping the training sections on the site, and after that I’ll come back to the coaching – there is no set date for this yet though.

Thanks again, Andy.

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About the Author

Andy Morgan

I'm an online nutritional and training coach living in Tokyo, Japan. After seeing one too many people get ripped off by supplement and training industry lies I decided to try and do something about it. The site you see here is the result of a lot of Starbucks-fuelled, two-fingered typing. It's had a lot of love poured into it, and I hope you find the guides to the diet and training methods I use on this site useful. When I'm not helping clients you'll likely find me crashing down a mountain on a snowboard, racing around Suzuka circuit, or staring at watches I can't afford. (Read more about me →)

39 Comments on “Inside The Mind Of A Diet Coach”

  1. Hello Andy,

    First of all, I’m a big fan of you. I’m happy that your site spreads and you are becoming respectful person in the fitness industry. Thanks for your dedication, it inspires me a lot.

    Little backstory: I’m doing IF/Leangains for 3 years now and I like it. I have a dream to become an online coach and spread the knowledge in my country, which is small (3 million people). Many people do sports, but it is a lot of standard fitness bullshit floating around here, so I’m planning to start a blog. One of my goals for 2016 is to reach my desired fitness level, which is sub 10% BF. Now I’m sitting at 13%. Further, I would like to get more knowledge about the concepts, scientific part of this diet, so I could start blogging and probably coaching others.

    What I’ve stated above, sounds like a plan. But I would like to know your opinion on that. What are your recommendations for guys like me just starting out?

    Thanks in advance!

    1. Dovydas, thanks for the question. What you currently have is an idea, not a plan. You need to get a firmer grip more specifically on what it is you hope to do first. What skill set do you currently have that people could use in your country? If you start a blog, what are you going to write about? Are you going to do translations of content or write your own? You say that you want to coach people… that’s very well and good, but do you have enough experience/knowledge to start doing so? If you’re wanting to coach people how to get shredded lean then you need to take a step back and do it for yourself first at the absolute bare minimum.

      These aren’t questions I need you to answer here, but just things to think about yourself.

      If you’d like to read my story in this industry with this site, and developing my Japanese site, you can follow the progression over the last 4.5 years in the news posts here.
      If you’d like to know the technicalities of exactly how I coach/make adjustments for clients, then that’s covered in the book.
      If you’re interested in knowing what I think it takes to be successful in this industry, then that’s covered in some essays in the back of the book also.

      Hope this helps. Happy New Year to you and your family. Make 2016 a great one!

  2. Hi Andy,
    I’m following your website for quite some time.
    Really like it!!

    I want to book a book of yours but what is the difference between this one and the nutrition pyramid which came out recently?
    And which one is better/more complete?

    I know quite a lot on nutrition and want to start coaching other people.


    1. Hi Maarten, thanks for the question, and the compliments on the site. Glad you’ve found it so useful to you.

      Think of The Muscle & Strength NUTRITION Pyramid (126 pages) as a far more detailed version of my free giveaway book, The Complete Guide To Setting Up Your Diet (65 pages). To have the Nutrition Pyramid book is to be able to learn directly from one of the most successful and respected natural coaches in the field, Eric Helms, on how he sets up nutrition programs for clients, and why. It’s fully referenced so that those who wish to dig into the scientific literature can do so.

      The Diet Coaching & Adjustments Manual is something different. This isn’t a book about nutrition set-up at all, but one about how to adjust and fine tune a diet once everything has been set. The Nutrition Pyramid touches on this, but doesn’t go into the same level of detail. This makes is unique in the fitness book area as far as I can tell. Eric has worked with me on this book also, helping me to improve it. At the end of the book I have just let rip with a bunch of mini-essays talking about the lessons I’ve learned the hard way working online as a coach that I know I wish I had known about when I was started out – I’ve had very positive feedback on this section.

      Based on your last sentence, it sounds to me like the Adjustments Manual may more of what you’re after. I wrote it exactly for guys like yourself who would come to me asking for an internship or mentorship.

  3. Andy,

    This is in reference to your reply to me about Fasted Cardio and your statement that it ” is different, but whether that makes any difference over the course of an entire day to net fat loss is unlikely. Unless we’re talking about the case of stubborn fat”

    Would it not be true then that Fasted cardio would be a good idea for anyone interested in burning additional fat quicker (not just stubborn fat )? Since it appears to be a loophole in the system whereby you can burn stored fat (even if a small amount) and not interfere with your calories for the day?

    I am not so much thinking about net fat loss for the day but overall from a week/month perspective, if one did fasted cardio 3 times a week, was on a decent cut, and still did training 3x a week (maintaining strength, not loosing, and did the cardio on off days), would that not be the optimal routine for fat loss? (Im talking for someone around 19%).


  4. Andy,

    Having followed the Book for 7 weeks now for a cut, I have seen only 2 inches move on the stomach measurements, everything else is stagnant and the scale weight fluctuates around 10 pounds but has never gone lower than my lowest 6 weeks ago, I am still gaining on all my lifts.

    In general things would you characterize this as slow enough to warrant further calorie reductions?

    I also want to run 2 pieces of “knowledge” by you and have you tell me if they are myths or not…..

    1. Cardio and eating less are the same end. No need to do cardio when you can just eat less.

    2. Fasted cardio is different than non fasted cardio because it burns stored fat since no food is in your system.

    Are either of these things true?

    1. Matt, thanks for the questions.
      1. Sounds like you’re getting a mix of muscle gain and fat loss. If you’re happy with that, hold out, if not then consider a reduction.
      2. No, it’s context dependent. You might choose to do cardio purposefully so that you can eat more, to increase your aerobic capacity in order to handle more volume in the gym, or to increase your energy flux for the day (which is theorized to be favorable for body composition).
      3. It is different, but whether that makes any difference over the course of an entire day to net fat loss is unlikely. Unless we’re talking about the case of stubborn fat. See my article on cardio for more:
      On Cardio for the Physique-Focused Trainee

      1. Thank you as always for your quick reply.

        I also wanted to ask about your calculator you put on your macro setting section, When I calculate on there, my rest day carbs come out with a Negative number (-66), I noticed I also got a negative number when I did my calculations on the sheet from the book.

        Any ideas?

          1. Sure, no worries Matt. Happens a lot.

            [Just so other readers understand, this means Matt found the paragraph on the site of the spreadsheet and FAQ at the end of the article explaining why this can happen and what to do about it.]

  5. Hey Andy,

    Love the book mate. Have just finished reading it and got a lot of my Q’s answered. Really appreciate your work.

    One extra Q I had was (or two):

    In your client examples, I see you have 0-12 weeks on their tracking sheets. Each week had their measurements/figures, does that mean they actually trained/dieted for 13 weeks? Or was week 0 or 12 used as more of a test/re-test to see where they’re at?

    I’m trying to work out the 4 week point that you talk about in the book for possible adjustments. Is week 4 the beginning of week 4, or after 4 weeks of training/dieting, which would make it the beginning of week 5?

    Sorry for if this is an annoying Q. Just want to make sure I get it right.

    Cheers mate.

    1. John, thanks for the questions and for getting the book. Not considered annoying at all! Happy to answer.

      1. The week 0 just indicated their start point, so the time frame was still 12 weeks.
      2. The 4 week point I’m referring to is after 4 weeks have passed, so that you have a full four weeks of data changes to look at.
      Make sense?

  6. 5’10 , Went from 205 to 185. All lifts gained tons even did some fuckarounditis for a while. Martin’s method is definitely lean…gains…

    1. Ah right I see now. So, that would be a cut, as he lost weight. It’s definitely not unusual for people to gain strength when losing fat. This can translate into muscle gain, but not enough to outweigh the fat loss. Now, if your friend had gained 20 lbs and shredded out (which is what I thought you were saying initially) I’d have been very surprised.

      1. Ah interesting, So even if he was in a almost 1000 calorie surplus every day, if he is ultimately loosing weight, its always a cut? We are talking about his dead going from 200 to 400, bench from 175 to 265 etc

        I imagine you would say it was a miscalculated Tdee and therefor surplus, if he wasn’t gaining weight?

        1. Ah, ok things are even clearer now. Here, let me help in stages cause this is really going to help you get a hold on what is possible, and thus positively impact your training over coming 6 months.

          “I imagine you would say it was a miscalculated TDEE and therefor surplus, if he wasn’t gaining weight?”

          I think there is just a confusion of terms somewhere.
          – For weight to be lost there needs to be an energy deficit. Let’s say he lose those 20lbs over a 20 week period, that’s an approximate 500 kcal daily calorie deficit on average, definitely not a 1000 kcal surplus. The “1000 kcal surplus” your friend mentioned, he may actually mean 1000 kcal over calculated BMR. This is definitely possible, but not likely for the full duration of the cut given the large amount o weight loss.
          – When weight is lost, that’s usually called a cut. Sometimes it’s called a recomp if muscle is gained at the same time, though typically that is only with much lower total weight loss figures.

          “We are talking about his dead going from 200 to 400, bench from 175 to 265 etc”
          If he went from 20% to 13%, and that bought him down 20 lbs in scale weight, then he is a big guy. Now, that is a good achievement considering he was in a calorie deficit, but those are no where near elite lifting levels for his size. Your friend may not have been new to training, but he was a novice when it came to the barbell work.

          Such large strength gains in this situation, despite being in a calorie deficit, aren’t uncommon. The muscle is already there to move the heavy weight, but there isn’t the skill to do it yet. (Strength is partially a skill.) So, they can’t lift very much for their size initially, but they can progress with their lifts very quickly as proficiency with the lifts is gained.

          Training volume = load x sets x reps.

          Add in that your friend was probably used to a larger total training volume, possibly from a body part split, than the routine he changed to (which will have been low volume, high intensity), and it’s no surprise at all that he gained a lot of strength.

          Does this make sense? The tl;dr of this is that while I think your friend did very well, what he did isn’t out of the ordinary, and I think if you put your mind to it you can do really well too.

          ^ All of this kind of stuff is covered in my goal setting article series.

          1. Hmm, I have to get to the bottom of this for clarification… I am very familiar with cut vs re comp. vs bulk but I assumed with those types of strength gains…he had to be gaining muscle….perhaps I am very confused.

            He is 5’9 30’s, eating 3500 calories on a training day 2800 on off day, tdee calculation with light activity was around 2800 ish. So not just a surplus over BMR, over total daily expenditure.

            In almost 2 years on that type of intake he lost the 20lb scale weight, and went from roughly 20bf to 13 while going from 200×5 dead to 400×7 dead, Squat 180×10 to 330×5, and bench 175×7 to 265 x5. He worked out 3 days a week with martins method and did some occasionally sports cardio (nothing major)

            He didn’t have a high volume body split training before, it has always been martin’s method followed almost exactly. He rode some n00b gains and then worked the plateaus with Martin’s deloads.

            So my main questions for his situation are :

            1. Would you say those strength gains are NOT muscle gains? You believe that is all existing muscle using new skill?

            2. Would you say if you are loosing scale weight and body fat (his progress matched your chart of disjointed scale weight) you are always in a cut no matter how big the strength gains are?

            3. Would this mean for him to be on a legitimate bulk (aka gaining weight) he would need his calories in the 4500-5000 range?? if 3500 had him loosing weight

            1. 1. Muscle can certainly be gained in a calorie deficit. It’s likely that he gained some, however it’s impossible to say how much of his strength gain was down to growth, vs skill acquisition or the reduction in volume/increase in intensity. Have a look at this article, section, “Factors that determine the rate we can grow.
              2. Yes. But that’s just how I choose to define things, others may differ.
              3. He would need to eat more that he previously was, that is certain.

  7. Andy, you are a legend for your reply quotient.

    I will just check back in after a month longer, between your book and your replies, my lesson is ….water retention, water retention, water retention 😉

    Also, I found it interesting that you seemed to reference skinny-fat n00bs as the only category of persons who can surplus their way to a linear fat loss + strength gain. My roommate got coached by Martin online and did exactly that, however he was not a n00b (had training experience and muscle) and was around 20%bf and went down to 13% while going to elite lifting levels for his size.
    I reference this only because as Martin has always claimed, his “clients never need a cut, its a linear process to the shredded state”.

    My goal with following your program was to see if I could loose body fat quicker than my friend (his process took over 18 months) He also ended up being more jacked than I want to be lol

  8. Andy,

    Thank you for your swift reply. Great article, however I am left with more fundamental questions…

    1.Does too much “stress” (combo of mind/training) absolutely hamper fat loss (through lessening adaptive response) to an insurmountable degree?

    2. If you are loosing strength due to deficits, shouldn’t you necessarily be loosing fat via the measurements? (even if it is masked by water or coming from fat around the organs)

    3. Can’t further deficits ultimately break you through a legitimate stall? (this seems to be what you do in the book as your last resort)

    4. Client C sees measurements steadily drop (with a few spikes) despite his average weight stall for 9 weeks, he also makes very slight strength gains (despite a few dips). My question (which i felt the book didn’t address), was what would you do if Client C was : Not loosing scale weight, Not loosing measurements, Loosing strength, not over training, was in a deficit, was getting proper sleep, wasn’t overly stressed out mentally ?

    1. Matt, glad you liked it, thanks for the further questions.

      Just going to put this here as I’ll need to refer to it below.
      How Calorie Balance and Recovery Modalities (Sleep, Stress) Affect Training Response

      1. Insufficient sleep has been shown to hamper fat loss when in a calorie deficit – the total weight loss is the same, but more of it comes from muscle mass when we are sleep deprived. I’m not sure if there are studies to show that a lot of stress does the same, but I would think so through the same mechanism. (Poor sleep just being one of the things that contributes to stress.) Increasing the calorie deficit in order to increase fat loss will also likely come with greater muscle losses under these circumstances also.

      If you want to think about this visually, this happens because the higher degrees of stress will shift the training response curve down, making the balance between too little and too much training harder to navigate. Add a further calorie deficit to the situation, and you shift the curve down more.

      2. If you lose muscle mass then the measurements will come down, yes. So, a drop in measurements + a drop in strength is a warning sign of muscle losses.

      3. Absolutely, but the point is whether it costs the person muscle mass, and also whether it puts the person past their breaking point in terms of adherence. If the person is stressed, then adding a calorie deficit on top is going to cause them more issues (hunger, cravings, irritability, soreness, lethargy) that will threaten adherence. You also raise the risk of injury through people getting frustrated at not being able to lift as much in the gym (due to the lower energy levels), so taking shortcuts in form they otherwise wouldn’t normally take to try and not regress with their lifting.

      4. There are likely two separate issues here, but I’d point out I’ve never seen this happen in such a combination.
      – The explanation for a calorie deficit + no weight or body measurement change is some water retention, which can happen even if people aren’t stressed. So I’d just wait.
      – The reason for the loss of strength despite adequate recovery would likely be insufficient training volume*, so I’d increase it. (*This would be represented in the graph by any level of volume less than were the curve crosses above the x axis.)

      Hope that clears it up. I’ll have a think how I can include this into the next revision of the book Matt, so thanks for the questions.

  9. After reading the book, I have found a few dead-ends that, as I await your return to coaching, would love brief answers to…

    1. You seem to address stress (and related water retention) as a dead end, telling clients to essentially…stop whatever is stressing and come back to dieting.

    Question: What if we just have stressful lives and it wont be going away, and the stress has nothing to do with the diet or adherence?

    2. I seemed to find no help in the book’s checklists other than: take a break or stop whatever is stressing you, in my particular situation I am loosing strength on top lifts, not loosing scale weight, and not loosing measurements. I am not a n00b, I am 6 weeks in, I used your calculation on the site for my macros, i have strict diet adherence, strict (lean gains) training, no problem dieting….I know it is impossible for you to comment in some sense on my situation but it seems to me like I will have to just keep reducing calories until I see changes…or use the dreaded cardio to experiment on greater deficits…yet this seems completely antithetical to your book.

    Question: How many weeks would you consider a client going (your story in the book talks about a 5 week stall) with total fail results before continuing to cut cals?

    3. My friend recently cut to shreds on a martin style clean bulk from about 20% body fat to 13%, though it took a a while. I thought your method of cutting would lead to quicker body fat loss than a clean bulk.

    Question: I have so little success thusfar trying to loose body fat cutting with your method, do you consider a proper clean bulk to be the quickest way to loose body fat?


    1. Matt, thanks for the questions.
      1. Sure, life stress is a part of that. It’ll shift down the recovery curve and adaptation curve and stuff things up. There isn’t a way to mitigate stress except to work on reducing it in your every day life. More on the theory behind this here:
      Stress: In The Gym, Out of The Gym, and How it Affects Your Program and Progress

      2. I’m careful to rule out working with people that have very stressful lives, precisely because of the huge impacts on results that it has. (The initial application questionnaire helps to find this out.) If you were a client however and something suddenly happened, then the answer would be to work on the root causes of the stress first, rather than trying to work around it by increasing the calorie deficit or training volume. Reductions in both, if anything, are what I would usually consider.

      3. Definitely not (assuming you mean a calorie surplus by “bulk”). A calorie deficit (cut) is the quickest way to lose body fat. Usually the only circumstances where someone will lose body fat while in a calorie surplus is in the case of the skinny-fat novice trainee.

      From everything you’ve said, it’s just likely that you have water retention masking the fat losses, due to stress. You’ll see an example of this in the book with client “C”.

      Anyway, I hope this helps.

  10. Andy, I was just one step away from buying the manual and then found that the paypal payment is not an option for my country 🙁 cant you put up a direct credit card payment option?

  11. Hi, will there be another way to purchase your book in future? Because I really don’t want to create account in paypal, (on your site there is “no account necessary”), but there is no other option just two:
    1. Pay with my PayPal account (Log in to your account to complete the purchase)
    2. Create a PayPal account (And pay with your debit or credit card, or with PayPal Credit).
    I live in Eastern Europe, and 47$ is not that cheap, but I decided to buy it, because I want to support you, and I want this book.


    1. Hi Bartek, I had a good look into it when I set things up but for now, it’s just Paypal.

      In the future, yes, but I just have to wait for Japan to catch up. There’s nothing else currently out there to accept payments internationally to a Japanese bank without exorbitant fees.

      Setting up an account should be quick and easy. Sorry for the inconvenience.

  12. Hello Andy,

    You replied to an email of mine for coaching in jan of ’14 that I recently found in a spam folder when rediscovering you and your new fancy redesign!

    Aside from being bummed by this, I am wondering if you coaching again yet? Or should I just buy the book and keep liftin’ clean 🙂


    1. Matt, thanks for the mail, this comment and buying the book.

      I’m not coaching yet. Will probably re-start once I have finished up the the book project with Eric Helms and Andrea Valdez.

      I see that you have reapplied (thank you – this is what I would have suggested) so you received my e-mail to say that you’ve been added to the waiting list. It’s quite considerable, so once I re-start the coaching I would expect it to be 2-3 months from there at the bare minimum before I get to yourself. This is assuming half of the applicants drop out due to no longer being interested after the delay.

      Unfortunate to be more precise than this. Recommended coaches in the e-mail link sent if you’d prefer not wait. Enjoy the book!

  13. Andy,
    I have the Diet Coaching & Adjustments Guide for Cutting, now I just need you to create the e-book “Diet Coaching & Adjustments Guide for Bulking. I was happy to pay for such a wealth of information and I will do it again! Thanks!

  14. I just purchased. If the download expires in 24 hours, how do we receive the free updates? Also, off topic, but I see Martin Berkhan has returned. Thoughts?

    1. Vincent, thank you. I’ll send the updates out separately as I’ll have your e-mail address.

      I spoke with a very good friend/old training partner of his, Bojan Kostevski, at an industry conference back in May in the UK. He said that he hadn’t heard from Martin in over a year, so I’m glad to see he is well (looking jacked as f.). Look forward to any new content he puts out.

  15. Many thanks! Great read and practical implementation tricks.
    Looking forward to the training guide that is coming out with your help.


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