Macronutrient Madness: What’s In Your Bucket?

In my last post, I gave you the rundown on how to roughly calculate your maintenance, fat loss and muscle gain calorie levels. This is the most important part of the fat loss puzzle, so if you don’t have that concept down yet, go back and read the Cliffsnotes portion of that article before you go any further.

Alright, before we’re ready to blast off, we need to do some clowning around.

One of my favorite shows to watch when I was lucky enough to catch it on was the Bozo The Clown show. The part of the show that always got me pumped up was the grand prize game. In order to win, the kid simply had to stand in place and successfully throws ping pong balls into a series of buckets that progressively were placed further and further away from him.

Despite being deathly afraid of clowns at the time, Bozo was different, most likely because he gave out cool stuff to kids and I secretly hoped he would reach through the TV screen and break me off a piece of that prize action. Sadly I never got broken off, so I’m here to make sure the same thing never happens to you in regards to your physique goals.

Buckets-O-Fat

What is the purpose of a bucket? To hold stuff. What kind of stuff? In the infamous words of The Rock, it doesn’t matter – as long as it can fit into the bucket, the bucket can hold it. If you ever sit by the pale moonlight and ponder life’s most vexing question, you’ll quickly realize that your body is just one big ‘ol living, breathing bucket.

There are tall and wide buckets, short and thin buckets and all sorts of variations in between, but the common denominator here is that they all need constant input in the form of food in order to keep running. While all this is nice and dandy, it also makes the task of achieving your ideal body composition a difficult one at times.

Be careful of what you put into that bucket of yours – too much of anything can cause your bucket to grow in ways and places that you want no part of, but put too little of the right things into it and you might as well buy yourself a one-way ticket to Skeletor island.

Plan For Success

I’m a big fan of making things only as complex as they need to be. I do this mainly because, in my own experience, I’ve found that the less variables you have to try and manipulate and figure out, the better it is, at least in terms of initially getting started. Having said that, I’m a big fan of basing your current intake on the weight you’d like to be in the future, which is a method that I first discovered in Alan Aragon’s Research Review (Sexification Note: Do yourself a favor and subscribe here.) I’m a fan of this method for several reasons:

  1. It’s super practical. There are methods out there that use your percentage of lean body mass to determine how much of a certain macronutrient you should take in for your specific goal, but the main drawback of this is that there are people who don’t have access to a fitness professional who can do test such as skin calliper readings. Even if they do have access, the margin of error between certain body composition methods can be so large that it may not even give you much reliable feedback to begin with, especially if you happen to have a lot of fat to lose. You’re also going to have to adjust these numbers based off your results anyway, so don’t spend too much time trying to get too sexy in figuring out your starting point.
  2. It’s easily applicable. Almost everyone has, at the very least, a slight inkling of the body weight that they’re aiming for.
  3. All of the number crunching can be done in less than 2 minutes, and no matter how busy you are, you have that amount of time to do some planning for your success.

Getcho’ Eat On

Protein – The Constant (4 calories per gram)
For men, if your goal is fat loss or muscle gain: 1g/lb of target body weight
Sexification Note: I imagine that women could get away with a bit less protein (.8g/lb of target body weight) due to higher levels of body fat, but when in doubt could always stick with with the 1g/lb recommendation. I’d rather someone get a little too much protein than not enough.

Example: Rog Law has a target body weight of 185, therefore he will have an intake of 185g of protein, which comes out to 740 calories.

Fat – The Greasy Guardian (9 calories per gram)
Both sexes, regardless of your goal: .4-5g/lb of target body weight is a good starting point.

Example: Rog Law has a target body weight of 185lbs, therefore he will have an intake of between 74 and 93g of fat, which comes out to between 666 and 837 calories

Carbohydrate – The Under-appreciated Underdog (4 calories per gram)
Simply subtract the number of fat and protein calories from your fat loss calorie level that you figured out during my last post.  After doing so, divide that number by 4 to figure out the your carbohydrate grams.

Example: Rog Law sits on his butt cheeks all day, so he has calculated his fat loss calories by multiplying his target body weight of 185lbs by 9.

185 x 9 = 1665 kcals
1665 – 666 (fat) – 740 (protein) = 259 kcals
259/4 = 65g carbs

This would be an example of a non-training day. On resistance or interval training days, you can experiment with adding an extra 50-200g of carbohydrates in, mainly around training time. Yep, there is that much individual variability, so let your goals and results dictate how much you add in here.

If you find that you’re putting on the fat too fast, reduce your carbs and fats systematically until you find that sweet spot where you’re seeing that scale creep up, but so quickly that a ton of blubber comes along for the ride. Likewise, if you’re not losing fat as quickly as you’d like to be, you can follow the same progression. Just keep in mind that as your calorie level and carbohydrate intake drop, your protein requirement increases. If you don’t feel like upping your protein, make sure that you get at least 50g of carbohydrates a day, as their protein sparing effect helps protect your lean muscle mass from being gobbled up in the presence reduced carbohydrate intake and a large caloric deficit.

And I’m out like I have 0 hit points left *adjusts nerd glasses*

Questions? Concerns? Death threats? Leave ‘em in the comments section below!

Photo Credit: Jeffk

The Sexification Of Rog Law

I’m all about putting your flaws out into the universe  and using them as motivation to change for the better, so here we go!

I’ve gotten a good 3 training sessions in over the past month and a half. I felt run down and took a week off only to realize that I had no desire to go back to the iron just yet, and I was ok with that. Now, after taking some time off and reassessing my goals (plus seeing how far I’ve fallen), its time to get back to into action.

My strength levels have  taken a huge nosedive from where they used to be. My front squat dropped from 405 to 315 for a 1RM, my bench from 315 to 265, and my trap bar deadlift from 585 to a comparatively weaksauce 495. I’m sure a lot of this was of a neural nature and will be regained with time, but I know I’ve lost a fair amount of muscle as well.

My overall movement quality is like one of those busted Chuck-E-Cheese robots that haven’t been serviced since 1990. It was slowly getting better due to the mobility work I did during my training sessions, but since those were few and far between its no wonder that I’m back to pure suckage again.

The chub is back in full force, and it ain’t pretty, so it has to go. And this is where you come in.

I invite you all to join me on this personal journey of sexification, and if you’ve recently found yourself settling for less than what you’re capable, I encourage you to get moving in the right direction. On your own terms.

Speaking of doing things on your own terms, that is exactly what I’m going to be doing as far as my food choices and training are concerned. I’m going to simply train 2x a week for about 45 minutes and walk for an hour every day to burn some extra calories.

Oh yeah , and I’m going to have a Cinnabon every day for the next 30 days. Every other week I’ll make sure to post picture updates, and at the conclusion I’ll go into detail about what unexpected things I learned and encountered along the way that may help you in your own quest.

My secondary goal here is to demonstrate that your diet doesn’t have to be boring and that with proper planning you can still have a healthy diet while chowing down on your favorite foods.

Starting weight: 198lbs
Target weight: 185lbs

Ring The Alarm: Off Limits – The Enemy Of Success

Is it just me, or is it hot in here? Last week, my homeboy JC set the internet ablaze with his article addressing the concept of clean eating, touching on why it should be buried and added to the list of words never to be uttered again, right next to “bling” and “He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named.” I, for one, couldn’t be happier to grab a shovel and start digging.

Why So Serious?

All it takes is one look in the comment section of JC’s post to come to the conclusion that people are highly protective of their food choices and, when they are threatened, are likely to resort to verbal diarrhea in its defense.

Take for instance this gem from the comment section:

I tried to read your article with an open mind. But as the author of a clean eating recipe blog and somebody who has been eating clean for over 3 years now, I have to strongly disagree with you on just about every level….you also state, “Food is neither clean nor unclean, but merely energy my body needs to function and survive.”

NOT true! The body processes different foods very differently. The more refined and processed a food is, the worse it is for your body. The body processes refined foods very quickly and dumps the glucose into the blood stream. The pancreas than has to kick into overdrive to make up for the excess. Do this often enough, and you end up with diabetes.”

The inaccurate claims made here are an entirely separate issue, but if nothing else it highlights one important fact – this person didn’t read the article. At all.

The fitness and health industry is home to some of the internet’s finest alarmists. In one camp you have those who swear that carbs, especially when consumed mere moments after the moon rises, will magically don pimp attire and invite all the neighborhood fat into your body for a night on the town. They often worship at the alter of fat; if carbs are the problem, then unlimited amounts of fat are the solution. Then of course you have those who place the blame of the globe’s ever expanding waistline on the consumption of fat. These folks are responsible for more egg yolk homicides than Humpty Dumpty and they are more than likely to push an elderly lady into oncoming traffic if she even offers them a bite of her cheeseburger.

These are only a few examples of the many camps and factions running amuck today, but they all represent reductionist thinking, which is at best unproductive, and at worst misleading and acts as a roadblock on the path to objectivity. Nevertheless, when debate sparks and ones ideology is challenged, unsubstantiated statements and straw men arguments are without a doubt lurking nearby. Their baby is under attack, and it is their duty to defend her with all the zeal they can muster, and if that means cherry picking scientific research or downright creating facts out of thin air in order to back up their viewpoints then so be it.

Emotional Content

In the above quote, the commenter barely made it past the headline of the article before diving headfirst into an emotional response due to thinking that their way of eating was under attack when that couldn’t be further from the truth.  Do you see the problem with this trend? I’ll admit that when you feel justified in doing so, its hard to not respond emotionally to particular topics, and its something all of us have done at one time or another. But here is the thing: you don’t have to give in to your emotions when responding. Take a step back. Breath in, breath out. Woosa. Come back after you’ve had time to reflect on the merits of the argument and can respond in turn. That is the power of the interwebz. You can be as cool, calm and collected as you wanna be, or fly off at the mouth making false claims only to end up looking like a supreme turd muffin. The choice is yours and yours alone.

Pitfalls Of Extremism

The worst part about maintaining an extreme point of view is that, in most cases, you are hurting yourself the most. Taking such a stance ensures that you are often so far to either side that no sort of middle ground can be see from your vantage point and there is no room left for the possibility of learning something that may change your mind for the better. You are shut off; your thoughts have been crystallized and that’s that. Excuse me, are you saying somethin? Nuh uh, you can’t tell me nothin’.

If that road is one we’d like to leave less traveled, what is the alternative?

Clean Eating: The Problem

The best way to level up your knowledge game is to become a student of life again, realizing that what you know now isn’t all that there is to know, and that within every interaction is the opportunity to learn more. Leigh Peele wrote a fantastic article on subject of cheat meals and how the way we’re approaching them is fundamentally wrong and I couldn’t agree more. By setting yourself up to “cheat” you are operating under the false assumption that what you are about eat is wrong and that you shouldn’t be having it. As I expanded on in a previous post, by placing certain foods into a different category than those that you normally eat, you are putting them on a pedestal, which increases the likelihood that you are craving said foods because of the simple fact that you told yourself that you shouldn’t be eating them.

Clean Eating: The Solution

Objectivity, commonsense and moderation should act as your guideposts. This was the entire point of JC’s original article, but many people seemed to have abandoned ship before getting far enough into the piece to recognize this fact. Realize that no foods are off limits whatsoever and that having the body that you desire and living the life that you want don’t have to be at odds with one another. Make sure that you get adequate protein, 3-4g fish oil, lots of veggies, some fruit, and fill the rest of your caloric allotment with what is commonly referred to as discretionary calories, which can come from apple pie to zucchini and everything else in between. The human body is a beautiful piece of adaptable hardware, so make sure to experiment and find what is best for YOU, because in the end that is all that matters. As long as you are moving towards your goals, let your results speak for you and leave the worrying to those who are awesome at it.

I’d like to leave you with a quote from Lyle McDonald’s research review in which he tackles this very subject:

Given caloric control, the body’s response to a given set of nutrients, with the exception of blood lipids would appear to be more determined by the total caloric and macro content of that meal more than the source of the food.

In terms of the hormonal response, clean vs. unclean just doesn’t matter, it’s all about calories and macros.

What are your favorite “off-limit” foods that make people stare in awe when they see them disappear into your mouf?

Photo Credit: jibbit

Fog Horn Alert Volume 1

If you want to lose fat, don’t eat carbs.

If you want to lose fat, don’t eat fat.

If you want to lose fat, eat nothing but protein.

The topic of fat loss is an emotional one to say the least, and in general, people are always looking for that secret. You know, that one rule that if they just follow for the rest of their lives they will achieve bodily nirvana.

Boo-sheet!

We live in a world of black or white, right or wrong, Team Edward or Team Jacob, when the fact is that more often than not the answer always lies somewhere in the middle.

In order to debunk this myth, we first have to put our commonsense hats on, which oddly enough happen to look like this:

Take a look around your immediate circle of friends and ask yourself this question – have any of them lost weight successfully by not adhering to this rule? If the answer is yes, then you’ve done your duty in shutting down the perpetuation of a fib that will just not die. If the answer is no, then look outside of your circle and eventually you will find a yes.

Can not eating after 6pm (or whatever arbitrary time is used) help some people lose weight? Of course it can. If someone told me that I could only eat between the hours of 3pm and 4pm, you’d be a foolish mortal to bet money that I wouldn’t lose any weight. With that said, if I wanted to hustle you out of some cash, I’d just stuff my face with calorically dense foods such as pop (read: soda to you east coast folks), fast food, and the infamous Cinnabon.

Do you see what I did there? Clever wasn’t it? In both instances I didn’t eat after some arbitrary time, but in one scenario, if this eating pattern continued over a longer period of time, I would lose weight, while in the other I would gain weight. One pattern leads to a happy camper while another leads to a person being confused as to why they aren’t losing weight despite following this one rule.

Arf? How does that happen? Whats the dealio, Rog Law?

If you manage to eat more calories than are necessary to maintain your current bodyweight over a period of time, no matter the time of day or how you break down that intake, then your body weight will increase; do the opposite and your body weight will decrease. Fretting about what time of day you’re eating your food when you don’t even have any inkling of how many calories you are consuming relative to your goal is akin to worrying about the volume of your radio as you’re driving off a cliff, or being terrified of farting in your room because you don’t want to cause a tornado in Texas.

Whatever your goal is, be it fat loss, muscle gain or simply the maintenance of your current body weight, caloric intake is the most important factor in reaching these goals, and if anyone tells you otherwise then they’re probably trying to abracadabra some money out of your bank account. Aside from calories, everything else is details (important details, but details nonetheless). So the next time someone tries to drop some old school dogma on your head, dodge that bullcrap like The Matrix and give them a righteous uppercut for their troubles.

What has been the most whacked out myth that you’ve encountered in your fitness travels? Have you been guilty of perpetuating one yourself? Don’t worry if you have, because I think we’ve all been there. I’ll even be kicking things off by sharing my most embarrassing one. See you in the comments section!

Photo Credit: Kim Beckmann, MTV Music

Nickelodeon & The Fat Loss Secrets They Withheld

As an 80’s baby, I grew up during what was inarguably the most revolutionary time in modern day history. I mean c’mon, we had the 56k internet, Power Rangers, Pogs and The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air. How can you argue with that? Answer: You can’t (although I encourage you to try your hardest). The best part of this existence is that we had shows that not only entertained, but also enrolled us in the school of hard knocks. Want to learn about the perils of drug use? Check out just how wild Carlton gets when hopped up on speed. What about the sheer thrill of bungee jumping? Look no further than Trevor’s ill-fated proposal to Hillary. However, intertwined within these sage-like teachings, one of the most important lessons of all in the quest for sexification was lost in all of the hubbub – that of how to maximize your fat loss.

As the Grand Historian of all things 90’s T.V., let me weave a tale for you. Once upon a time not long ago, there was a television show on Nickelodeon that was of great importance to kids who raced home after school, leaving a trail of discarded juice boxes in their wake, to watch it. That show was called Legends of the Hidden Temple. The premise of the show was this: six groups of kids battle it out via physical challenges in order to earn the right to enter the temple and escape with the sacred treasure. In order to progress within the temple, the young adventurers had to solve various puzzles, one of which was responsible for failing more unsuspecting newbs than banana peels and whoopee cushions combined – The Shrine of the Silver Monkey.

In order to proceed to the next room, the monkey had to be assembled in the correct order on the pedestal. It consisted of three pieces: the base, the body and the head. However, due to the lack of functioning retinas or the failure of the American schooling system, more often than not the head or the body ended up going on first, time ran out and the kids went home with nothing but memories of epic failure for their troubles.


(2:20-3:20 is all you need to watch)

Ok, so far I’ve managed to prove two things:

A) The 90’s were awesome.
B) Some kids need to revisit kindergarten.

But Rog Law, how the heck does this relate to fat loss? Lets get to it.

Agony of defeat

One of the most fundamental errors that most people make when looking to drop a few pounds is that they start with a base that isn’t conducive to their goals. For instance, I’m sure we all know at least one person who begins a fat loss program with all the energy and vigor of a 5 year old on a Cookie Crisp high. They hit the gym in the morning. They hit the gym during their lunch break. They hit the gym after work. They hit the gym right before bed time. Hell, they probably hit the gym in their dreams, bench pressing with good ‘ol Freddy Kruger himself giving them a spot! Naturally, after weeks of arduous effort, they hop on the scale with a smile on their face. I mean surely after all this hard work they are destined to be rewarded, right?

Wrong!

Knees meet the floor in horror as the scale greets them with the terrible news: same crap, different day. Without knowing it, they violated the cardinal rule of fat loss – develop a solid nutrition base, or prepare thyself for a lifetime of sailing the blubbery seas. Just like the failed assembly of the Silver Monkey, many people have it all wrong when it comes time to implement their fat loss plan, and as a result often spend months if not years spinning their wheels in frustration.

Can you out train a subpar diet? Sure, but I can think of a few things that are slightly harder, such as slurping dry the Atlantic Ocean with a straw, or body-slamming the Empire State building. Simply put, it’s hard as all get-out to burn a ton of calories through exercise alone unless you’ve built up your physical capacity to the point where you’re able to handle the workload, and even then it’s always easier to eat less food than it is to burn it off after doing so.

So what is the person looking to bring that head image of themselves into reality left to do? Have no fear! As the conductor of the Sexification Express, I take it upon myself to make sure that you are equipped with the requisite knowledge to get the ball rolling on your own fat loss journey, so let’s go through the necessary steps of creating a solid foundation.

The Base

In order to stand a chance of getting to where you want to be, you first have to figure out where you are, therefore it is of super duper importance that you determine your maintenance calories. There are a lot of fancy calculators out there, but you don’t need no stinkin’ technology to figure out where you stand – just multiply your current body weight in pounds by 14 if you lean more towards the inactive side of things or 15-16 if you have a higher level of daily movement such as resistance training and moderate intensity cardio.

Remember that this is but a rough estimate and nothing more. That said, it still serves as an effective starting point compared to just pulling random numbers out of thin air. If you find that you’re gaining weight at this calorie level, decrease your starting number by 150 calories and reassess.

I know that there are some folks out there who would rather skip this step for whatever reason, and that is fine with me as long as you are progressing towards your goals. If you’re raring to get going, simply multiply your starting body weight in pounds by 10-12. For those who have jobs that don’t involve much movement at all throughout the day, you may want to start out with the lower number, possibly going as low as 8 calories x body weight in pounds if you’re really, really inactive. Just as a side note, I rarely recommend going down to such a level, especially for more than a week or two, so start with the higher values and stick with those until you have reason to do otherwise.

And no, not achieving your goals within the first few weeks is not a valid reason.

Cliffsnotes Version

  • Maintenance intake = 14-16 x body weight in lbs. The less active you are, the lower the number you start with.
  • Fat loss intake = 10-12 x body weight in lbs. The less active you are, the lower the number you start with.
  • Muscle gain intake = 18-20 x body weight in lbs. The less active you are, the lower the number you start with.

There you have it, a simple, time effective way to estimate your maintenance, fat loss and muscle gaining calories. If you don’t have this down, you’ve got no business proceeding to the next level, so consider this your homework assignment. Make sure to stay tuned for the next post in this series where we move beyond the base into the belly of the beast – macronutrients and their role in your dieting plan.

What are the greatest barriers that you encounter when trying to lose fat? Also, what are your fondest memories of the 90s? Be sure to drop your answers in the comment section. Don’t worry, if you say Pokemon I won’t hold it against you. In fact, I may very well give you a high five on the down low. Shhhh – don’t tell nooooooooobody!