Instead of the posts I usually do, this one’s going to be a little different. I’m going to answer a few questions I’ve been getting from clients and friends. Here goes!
What’s the best way to get lean for summer?
If you’re looking to drop a few pounds for summer you’re going to have to eat a bit less. I know “a bit” is a little vague. In order to lose weight you must consume fewer calories than you burn. Try to reduce your calories by 10-20%. It doesn’t seem like a lot, and that’s intentional. Cutting your food intake by 40% or more may get you some fast weight loss initially but there are serious drawbacks. You’re going to be miserable if you drastically drop your intake suddenly. After the initial weight loss, your progress will slow. You keep cutting your calories by 40% and soon you’ll be at or below the minimum your body requires just to function.
A more modest deficit of 10-20% gets the scale moving in the right direction without making you miserable and leaves you some room to gradually increase the deficit if and when it becomes necessary.
You can track your calories if you want. I’d recommend that for most people. But you don’t have to. It takes some discipline to stick with it, but consistency is imperative to achieve your desired results.
In order to get really beach ready, include 2-3 strength training sessions per week. They don’t have to be excessive. Strength training cues your body to hold onto muscle despite your reduced food intake.
What’s your daily diet like and how does it affect your training?
I must confess, I’m not a foodie. I like food but not the way a lot of you do. I know I’m missing out on all the joy that delicious food brings. I like to have a few go-to meals and basically eat them most of the time.
I eat chicken or beef pretty much every day. I include plenty of vegetables daily as well, usually carrots, spinach, or broccoli. I don’t need a ton of variety but when I do get sick of having one thing, I’ll switch things up. I spend a couple hours on Sundays preparing most of my meals for the upcoming week. It’s more convenient for me than cooking daily.
I don’t eat before I work out. You might feel your workouts suffer if you don’t have something before you train. That’s cool. As long as your total daily food supports your training, it’s not all that important when you eat.
My diet is very consistent but it’s not perfect. You don’t have to eat totally clean in order to be healthy and make progress in the gym. I include room for things like burgers, whiskey, and ice cream on occasion. My goal isn’t to be single-digit body fat, super shredded. I can enjoy stuff like that in moderation without it affecting my training.
What’s a good pre-workout meal? What’s a good post-workout meal?
If you’re going to eat before you hit the gym, that’s cool. Simple carbs like a piece of fruit can give you a little energy boost without making you feel sluggish. A heavier meal will take longer to digest. You don’t want your body focused on digestion when it’s time to workout.
After a workout, you can refuel with some protein and carbs. Maybe you’ve heard about an “anabolic window” post-workout? Basically the idea is that your body is primed to use nutrients for muscle repair and growth right after a workout. There is some truth to it, but it’s largely overstated. The most important thing is that you hit your protein and calories targets by the end of the day.
Does it really matter how long you rest between sets?
The short answer is yes. If you don’t rest long enough, your ability to do subsequent sets will be less. But you don’t want to rest so long that you cool down, either. Most of the time 1-2 minutes between sets is enough to recover. But if your workout is more strength-based, meaning you’re doing reps in the 1-5 range, you might need a little longer to recover, 3-5 minutes.
If you feel recovered after 3 minutes, there’s no reason to take 5 minutes. Go ahead and hit that next set. If you’re new to training this may seem like eternity, but as the amount you’re lifting increases those few minutes will start to feel like seconds.
Thanks for the questions, keep ‘em coming!