Diet Guides – Home
Whether you’re after fat loss, muscle gain or trying to chase both, this page has links to all the detailed guides you need to have success, explaining the methodology that I use with clients.
If you’re completely new to setting up your nutrition for these goals and haven’t read the Step by Step Overview Guide yet, I’d recommend you do that before jumping into the more detailed guides below.
Diet is key to a shredded physique.
There is a very clear order of priority when setting up your diet. If you don’t understand it, at best you’ll just be wasting money, at worst your time and effort as well. Unfortunately there is a large amount of confusion and misconceptions over what is important. I see this a lot with the one-on-one nutritional coaching also, and I’m sure you see it around the internet too.
This guide teaches you everything you need to know about how to set up your diet.
I hope this leave you feeling freer and more in control of your nutrition, regardless of style of diet you follow or your food preferences. We will also cut through any mystery and myth surrounding Intermittent Fasting, explaining where it may fit into your diet success, should you choose to use it.
The purpose of this guide is to offer an easier and more sustainable method to counting your macros than entering every single food and drink you eat, every day, into a nutritional calculator. The trade-off to this is a little more thought up front, but it works spectacularly well in the long run.
This is a long guide, not a quick blog post. It’s based on what I’ve learned guiding clients with this over the last several years. Here’s what we’ll cover:
- How and Why To Be Consistently Inaccurate
- Common Counting Mistakes
- How To Make Your Own Counting Rules
- Simplified Counting Rule Suggestions
- ‘The 10% Rule’ – Accuracy Targets That Are Accurate Enough
To have success in dieting (whether this be cutting or bulking) tracking your progress is vital. It forms the base from which you can make objective decisions on changes necessary in your diet.
Have you progressed these last 4 weeks or not? – Your tracking system needs to be able to answer this question.
In this post I’ll explain…
1. Why it’s important, with a true and very recent story of a trainer at my gym,
2. What not to do, specifically why the mirror and scale is not enough, and
3. The system I use, which takes the guesswork out of things.
Physique Goal Setting – The 9 Categories of Trainee: Their Mistakes, How to Avoid Them, and What You Can Achieve When You Get Things Right
The goal of this post is to save you from taking that hard road. Using a similar categorisation system that I use when working with clients I will help you identify your current physique condition, and then give practical recommendations on the path I think you should take (cut, bulk, slow-bulk, recomp for example) realistic expectations of what you can achieve, the common mistakes that people make, and what you should be aware of as you progress.
This is potentially going to save you time on your journey to getting the physique that you want. It’s going to get exceptionally detailed, and I sincerely hope that you find it useful.
Once you’re on your way the following posts will be useful to help keep you progressing. Bookmark this page and come back to these guides later.
So you’ve gone to an online calculator, plugged your all your relevant information, out pops a couple of sets of macros for your rest and training days and you proceed happily on your diet. Then, some weeks later you stop seeing any changes and appear to have stalled. Why could this be the case?
In this article I explain three reasons why online macro calculators don’t work, and the role and reason of metabolic adaptation when dieting.
Your diet progress has slowed or come to a stop for 2-3 weeks, diet adherence has been good, you’re sleeping well and there is no additional stress at home or work. So what do you do to get things started again?
This is where manipulating your macros may come in.
Full guide on how to keep your diet progressing: Learn what the optimal fat loss rate is for your level of body fat, and a the order in which you should make changes to your diet when things don’t reach that target.
While you can’t go crazy like the Epic Meal Time gents above, you can certainly eat a lot more and maintain most, if not all of your leanness, after dieting.
But people screw this up. They either diet blindly without ever thinking how they were going to maintain it, diet too hard for too long and then can’t maintain it, or they mess up a calculation trying to maintain it.
When people ask the above question then, what they really mean is, “How do I find the maximum I can eat each day after dieting while still looking shredded?”
The following is my guide to doing this using observation and incremental adjustments rather than calculations. We’ll cover: 1. when you should consider maintenance rather then attempting a slow-bulk, 2. why you can eat more after dieting, 3. the practicalities of finding maintenance, 4. what affects the maximum level of leanness you can reasonably maintain.
I feel there is an absence of quality diet advice out there for people trying to bulk. ‘Eat more!’ – lacks the detail and finesse to really optimise things, ‘Calculate your macros, train hard’ – misses the fundamental point that as we progress, calorie and macronutrient needs change and adjustments are needed to keep us progressing.
This guide is something that people have been bugging me to write for nearly three years, but truthfully, back then I didn’t feel that I had enough experience to write one without simply parroting things I had read elsewhere and applied to only a handful of clients. I’m glad that I waited, as coaching a lot of people through a bulk is the only way I could find out what stuff really matters vs what doesn’t, and come up with my own way of doing things.
How much more should we eat? Of what macronutrient? Do macros matter? How do I know when I should adjust? How do I minimise fat gain?
This is detailed, as that is how the overwhelming majority of people requested it. – 8000 words, 12 graphs ~35 minute read time. – A fair amount of reading up front then, but it may save you months of effort down the line. Sincerely, I hope you find it interesting as well as practically helpful when choosing how you wish to bulk and implementing it successfully.
Everyone wants to be ripped, now, but taking planned breaks is one of the best moves you can make for your long term diet success. An unsexy topic for sure, but necessary and quite fun.
In this article you’ll find diet break guidelines, a quick run down of the reasons for, and my own FAQ I’ve developed from client questions that’ll probably make you laugh.
Making Life Easier – Useful Theory
I don’t use body fat percentage as a measure of progress with clients.
People get obsessed over this number as if it is directly attached to their self-worth. It’s sad really as it’s completely unnecessary. Let go of this number from your mind. It is not necessary to know, you’ll save yourself getting into arguments, and most importantly, trying to track it may actually hinder you from progressing due to the inaccuracies in every tool that we have available to us to measure it.
In this article I’ll explain why I think you should forget all about body fat percentage.
On a near daily basis I find myself linking to JC Deen’s article, “Clean Eating is a Scam and Why you Need to Abandon It“. I consider it a must read for those tempted by, but scared of eating that NY cheesecake in the Starbucks display. You can imagine by the provocative title how many feathers he ruffled when it was published two years ago.
Today I’m really happy to share this guest article by JC for you, clearing up the misconceptions of Clean Eating, Dangers of IIFYM (If It Fits Your Macros), and guidance on how to use the IIFYM principles to still enjoy the foods you love while dieting.
So you’ve built up a good physique or are looking your best; have you ever thought twice before booking a vacation?
Did you double-check that the place had a gym, perhaps even turned down the opportunity of travel because you didn’t want to ruin it?
I can relate to that. I used to be like that. Truth is, though I traveled a lot* when I was in my late teens and early twenties, (*volunteered in east India for 3 months, traveled across south-east asia, Japan to live, Australia’s east coast, back to India twice again, China) by the time I was 25 I was so heavily brainwashed by commercial bodybuilding marketing bullshit that I had become reluctant to go away anywhere for fear of losing definition and muscle. I thought I had to train 6 days a week and eat six times a day. I even cut two wonderful motorbike trips through the mountains (picture at bottom) short so that I could get back in time to get my “shoulder day” in.
I understand your fear perfectly, but I no longer think that we have to make the choice between being a ripped granddad or an interesting one. Here’s the approach I take now to “maintain” while being away.
For many people alcohol consumption is a fact of life. Complete avoidance will work, but that’s not going to be sustainable approach for most people.
Alcohol calories are empty calories. They can’t help you recover or build muscle, but they can fuel you for moving around etc. They will still count to the weekly overall calorie balance and thus will help determine whether you lose or gain weight.
When drinking in moderation, even frequently, it’s possible to adjust for the alcohol without messing things up.
There are also strategies you can use when drinking to excess on occasion also to minimise the fat gain.
There is an idea out there that ‘golden’ macronutrient ratios exist that can transform a person’s physique. The idea was born in bodybuilding forums by people looking at someone else’s body transformation, asking their macro intake, then reverse engineering it to come up with a macro ratio that is assumed to be somehow special.
I’m not a fan of this idea. It’s logically flawed and here’s why.
Patience. When to wait and when to make a change?
Lack of patience leads to rushed decisions, or stupid exercise additions which can cost you muscle mass. Unless you’re on a strict competition deadline, patience is your friend.
Here is a client story which illustrates the importance of patience, and words of advice from a coach with way more knowledge and experience.
On ‘Leangains’ Specifically
Intermittent Fasting (I.F.) is a pattern of eating that alternates between periods of fasting and non-fasting. There are a few different popular types (you may have heard of ‘The Warrior Diet’), but for our purposes please think of I.F. as purposefully skipping breakfast. Of course, there is a little more to it that, but for now, please think of it in those terms.
Using the anecdote of a client Scott, I do my best to explain the main differences between Martin Berkhan’s Leangains system of Intermittent Fasting, and why it can be so effective for people.
If someone asked me to explain it in a sentence, 1. breakfast skipping, combined with 2. calorie and macronutrient cycling, will usually suffice.
I get into the specifics of why I think reduced training volume, combined with calorie cycling to help counteract the negative hormonal effects that happen when dieting, as well as the improved calorie partitioning that this may bring, work out to be especially effective.
It’s one of the oldest articles on the site, so please cut me some slack with the writing style and content (I plan on updating it). Still, it was a hugely popular article and I hope you enjoy it.
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