The Myth of “Starvation Mode”

I was talking the other day to a new friend of mine about the effects of “starvation mode” during fasting. A common misconception is that not eating for x hours will result in the body reducing it’s metabolism and/or muscle breakdown. I suppose the rationale for this is that the body will reduce metabolism in order to sustain life for as long as possible. On top of that the body will burn amino acids from muscle as fuel through a process known as gluconeogensis. Due to these two reasons, individuals who believe in starvation mode believe that our metabolism will decrease, and we will get fat even while on a diet where we are below maintenance calories.

Research simply doesn’t support these concepts. This study was one of the few studies that I found that showed a decrease in metabolism as a result of fasting. The study concluded that a 72 hour fast would decrease your metabolism by ~8%. However, this isn’t a problem when IF’ing, as you only fast for 16 hours.

Let’s examine a few other studies to see if our body really does go into starvation mode while fasting. This study showed an 3.6% increase in metabolic rate from fasting for 48 hours. This study by Zauner et al, showed a 100% increase in serum norepinephrine (a hormone which stimulates our metabolism by various mechanisms) in an 84-hour fast.

In this study, they found that a 72 hour fast increased serum catecholamine levels as well as heart rate. Yet another study showed that after a 72-hour fast, there were increased circulating fatty acids in the blood stream. This means the body was utilizing fatty acids from fat (obviously) in order to fuel the body for exercise. I’d also mention in the study above, that cardiovascular performance (albeit at only 40%VO2 max) was maintained 72 hours into the fast.

Let’s turn our attention to muscle loss while fasting. Unfortunately, there isn’t any research on the subject of muscle retention or muscle loss while in a fasted state. So the next best thing to look at is muscle retention while in a negative energy balance.

Marks et al studied the effects of diet, cardiovascular training, and resistance training on 40 inactive women. The groups were control, diet only, diet + cycling, diet + resistance training, and diet + resistance training + cycling. The diet + resistance training + cycling group gained strength, reduced fat mass, and increased VO2 max. This was the only group to attain all three of the above goals. Interestingly enough, even those these women were only consuming 628 calories per day, they all maintained their fat free mass while losing fat. It is worth mentioning that the women were able to get these results training for only 30 minutes per session for 3 sessions per week.

There are a couple things to consider in this study. The women were all sedentary, so they probably had no prior resistance training experience. As you may know from some of my articles, novice trainees can gain muscle and lose fat simultaneously when beginning a weigh training program. It would be interesting to see a study on trained women or men on similar hypocaloric diets. I don’t recommend dieting in this fashion, but the research in this study was reasonably sound.

Another study examined the effects that GH has on muscle protein synthesis during a 40-hour fast. Since it is well substantiated that GH increases while fasting, they wanted to examine the if it was the spike in GH that was leading to protein conservation while fasting. They determined that GH through some form of mechanism is directly related to protein conservation.

Now, let’s put what we’ve learned from a few of these studies into complete lay-man’s terms. The majority of studies that I found showed that the body will increase our metabolism by increasing the release of various metabolic hormones during fasting. One study showed a 100% increase in norepinephrine in a 84-hour fast! This means that even after 84 hours fasting our metabolism is elevated above normal levels. So, the whole starvation mode myth is pretty much out the window.

Next up we looked at how low calorie diets effected our lean mass. The study I cited showed an increase in strength and VO2 max while losing fat on a hypocaloric diet. This goes to show you that you can maintain muscle mass while dieting down. That’s not to say you will only lose fat and spare 100% of your lean mass. Resistance training needs to be added in order to keep as much muscle mass on as possible while trying to lose fat.

Finally we looked at how the increase in GH caused by fasting spares protein. So in a nut shell, starvation mode is not an issue when IF’ing. If you are only eating 3 meals a day, you are also not at any risk of reducing your metabolism. So if you are only eating 3 meals per day, don’t think that your metabolism will decrease and your muscles will melt off your body. We don’t work like that!

The Basics of Intermittent Fasting

I’ve gotten quite a few questions and funny looks when people ask me about my diet. I’ve been wanting to talk more about the basics of my diet, how it works, and why it works. I’ll probably end up splitting this up into a bunch of smaller articles. Even if you aren’t interested in using Intermittent Fasting (IF’ing) for fat loss, I guarantee you will learn some very interesting information about fasting.

If you’re a regular reader of my blog, you know what I like to cite resources. I won’t be citing any in this post because I want to talk about a few misconceptions people have about IF’ing. First thing first though, let’s go over what exactly IF’ing is, in case you missed some of my previous articles on the subject.

Intermittent fasting is a type of diet (although it’s more of a lifestyles for eating) which is extremely effective at burning body fat. It consists of eating 3 big meals per day. The meals are to be eaten in an 8 hour feeding window. This means that for 16 hours of each day you are in a fasted state. In the fasted state you are allowed the following: coffee, tea, water, and sugar free drinks.

A lot of people wonder how I am capable of doing this. It really is quite easy once you get used to it. I have a few clients who have been IF’ing and they are enjoying the diet as well. They both complained of hunger for the first week. Then it goes away. I had the same experience, not being able to eat when you want is thought to be a difficult transition by some. However your body get’s used to the change quite quickly. After this short period of hunger, you will notice that even after a 16 hour fast, you aren’t hungry.

I usually have most my clients eat about 2-4 hours after they wake up. After that they have their 8 hour feeding window, and then begin the fast again. Since most people sleep for 6-8 hours per day, half your fast is spent when you are sleeping. As many of you know from my article on eating breakfast , breakfast does not need to be consumed in order to lose weight and/or be completely healthy. This is why the first meal is usually eaten a couple hours after waking up.

The beauty if IF’ing is the fact that you get to eat nicely sized meals. Gone are the days of splitting (for example) 2000 calories into six meals. For those of you who don’t like math, 2000/6 = 333 calories per meal. I’m sorry but f%&# that! I regularly eat more than 333 calories in meat alone during one meal! IF’ing is usually based on three meals. So in the example of above, you would get to eat 666 calories for three meals. I like eating, a lot, so I much prefer having bigger meals to smaller ones. Sometimes, I’ll only have two meals in a day. So using the same example above, an individual would eat 1000 calories for two meals in a day.

I’ve gotten comments about how eating this way isn’t healthy and all that jazz. Well I’ve been doing it for 6 months now, I’m leaner than I’ve ever been in my life, and pretty close to as strong as I’ve ever been, my energy levels are completely normal. I’m never hungry and have been steadily losing weight the entire time. I also eat copious amounts of junk food on a weekly basis (and I’m not one of those people who can eat whatever they want and still be lean). I don’t know what else you could as for in a diet.

So that’s all for this installment. I’ll be going over many more benefits of IF’ing in the near future. These include:
– Increased levels of growth hormone
– Increased Glucagon
– Increased catecholamine levels
– Increased lipolysis and fat oxidation
– Decreased blood glucose levels
– Decreased blood insulin levels
– Maintenance of skeletal muscle while in a caloric deficit
– Decreased body fat and body weight

You may not know what some of those words above mean, but keep coming back to my site and you will understand soon enough.

Random Friday

I haven’t done a random friday in a while. I got a few things on my mind, so I thought I’d share them with you.

1. My training is going excellent. I am enjoying each and every day of my training. I just finished a lower body day, and it wasn’t easy. However, I still feel excited to go to the gym, even for lower body day. My fat loss is still going steady. I’m now down 33 pounds. My plan to get to 200 pounds by June is coming to fruition. I don’t know if I’ll be there June 1st, but sometimes in June for sure.

By the way, I’m still doing Intermittent Fasting. As I write this I’ll have been fasting for almost 19 hours. This is longer than usual, but I had to begin my fast early yesterday. You want to know something interesting, I’m not hungry at all right now. Nonetheless it’s time to break my fast with a big meal. Today I get a cheat meal too, which I’m excited about.

2. I’ve seen a lot of trainers doing this and It’s a big mistake. I’ve also seen many other females doing this and I’m going to tell you quickly why you should rethink doing an exercise using this technique is not a good idea. What they are doing is squeezing a ball between their legs while performing various exercises.

If you don’t know exactly what I’m talking about skip to 3:30 of the video below. If you want to decrease your intelligence, go ahead and watch the entire thing:

As many of you know from reading my article on muscle tone, doing work on your flabby inner thighs isn’t going to magically erase them. Dieting will take care of that. This isn’t the main reason I’m harping on this “technique” though. Generally speaking, people tend to be quad dominant. They also tend to be adductor dominant.

Since we sit all day, glutes tend to “turn off.” Squeezing a ball between your knees does nil for glute activation. Since people are adductor dominant, we should be trying to train our abductors more to get them on par. I’ve talked about training the glutes in this article. You should be focusing more on using your glutes in training and less on your dominant muscles.

3. The more and more I train my clients, the more I see how beneficial mobility work really is. For instance, my 55 year old clients cannot perform a quadruped rotation-extension to the same degree as my 21 year old client. I’d like to think that if my 55 year old client had been performing mobility work for his: ankles, hips, thoracic spine, and shoulder complex since he was 21, that he’d be a lot more mobile at 55.

I now notice elderly folks walking around with kyphotic backs. A lot of them seem to shuffle as they walk as well. It’d be interesting to see how a 90-something year old, who performed mobility work 4-5 times a week for the past 70 years would walk. Would they still be kyphotic and frail?

Maybe, maybe not. There are so many other factors that are involved, that i don’t think you can pin their movement issues on one thing. However, I don’t see how it could hurt. I’ve noticed improved mobility in many of my clients in a short period of time. So mobility seems to be something that can be taught. The trick is maintaining it over the years.

Mobility seems to be like getting fatter. A lack of mobility creeps up on you over years and years. It won’t happen over night. So I hope everyone is including some mobility work in their programming. It’s that important!

That’s all for now folks. Have a great weekend!

Pushups From Hell

Many of you are probably under the assumption that pushups are for weaklings. Well my friend, there are a ton of ways to make pushups incredibly hard. In this article I will be going over one variation that I have fallen in love with.

There isn’t really a specific name for this pushup variation, and since my creativity kind of sucks when naming exercises you’re going to have to put up with what I give you! I introduce to you ‘Feet Elevated TRX Pushups,’ or ‘FE TRX Pushup’ First, check the video below, then I’ll go over why this exercise is so great.

As you can see, this exercise is incredibly difficult. To give you a reference, I can bench 325 for a triple and I did dips at a body weight of 210 with 145 pounds around my waist. So this variation is going to be for someone who has a strong upper body and core. With that said, if you have TRX straps or blast straps you should give these a shot. There are two reasons this exercise is so difficult. The first reason is that your upper body is incredibly unstable because your hands will be on straps. The second reason is that your feet will be elevated above your hands (depending on how high your bench or box is).

This exercise is a real bang for you buck exercise. It’s going to stress your triceps, shoulders and chest. It’s also going to hit some muscles in your rotator cuff as well as some of your scapular stabilizers. As you can see from the video, it’s also an excellent anti-extensions exercise for you core. This exercise is basically mixture of a pushup and an incredibly difficult plank variation. So you can use this exercise instead of pushups and planks because it’s basically a mixture of the two.

The setup of this exercise pretty simple. You need a rack, smithe machine or something to hang your suspensions straps off of. You will also need a box or bench to place your feet. Once you are all set up, you will grab each handle of your TRX and lean forward. Then place one foot on the bench behind you, stabilize yourself and put your other food up. The wider apart your feet are, the most stable you will be. If you want to make the exercise harder, shorten the width between your feet. If you’re really evil, you can try to stay on just one foot.

There are a few form cues you should remember when doing this exercise to ensure it’s full effectiveness and safety:
– Tuck your elbows in while lowering yourself to the ground. Your elbows don’t need to be touching your torso, but they shouldn’t be flared out like most people do pushups. Your elbows should be somewhere around a 45 degree angle from your torso.
– Your wrist position may vary throughout the exercise. I like to keep a pronated hand position. Some people with shoulder issues, might find a neutral grip would be better. Find what feels the most comfortable for you.
– Keep your core braced and your glutes tight. This will prevent your lumbar spine from hyperextending. You don’t want to feel this exercise in your lower back at all. If you can’t do this exercise without a huge sag in your lower back thn you need to brace harder, or regress to an easier variation.

To simplify the above cues, remember the following. Keep a comfortable tuck for your elbows. Allow your wrists to rotate (if needed) to a comfortable position. Brace your core and keep your glutes tight.

If anyone wants to see some regressions of this exercise just comment below the post and I’ll get something up.

Energy Balance for Maintenance, Muscle Gain, and Fat Loss. Part III

In part I of this series I discussed maintenance. Part II discuss positive energy balance. Now let’s discuss negative energy balance. In part III of this series, we’ll be discussing how a negative energy balance will effect our body weight and body composition. I will be using ‘hypocaloric diets’ or ‘hypocaloric states’ interchangeably with negative energy balance.

A negative energy balance occurs when caloric intake is less than caloric expenditure. Note how I didn’t say “when caloric expenditure is greater than caloric intake.” I did this with good reason. Attempting to achieve a hypocaloric state by increasing exercise has far too many problems associated with it. Let’s discuss why.

A study done in by the University of Ottawa, found that healthy men and women overestimate their energy expenditures (EE) by 3-4 times their actual numbers. So if you exercised for an hour, maybe you burned 300 calories. In reality, there is a good chance you will believe that you burned 900-1200 calories during this session. So you think to yourself “I’ll just eat this sundae, it only has 600 calories. I just burned 1000 calories from that hour of exercise I just did. So I’ll still be in a deficit of 1000-600=400 calories.” This, is obviously way off your true numbers. In reality, this individual would have increased their caloric intake by 300 calories (actual EE = 300, Sundae = 600. 300-600=-300. Or an increase of 300 calories above maintenance levels)

As the study told us, human sucks at estimating our energy expenditure from exercise. Therefore, measuring our caloric intake from food is going to be much more accurate method for fat loss. This is of course, if someone has the ability to track their intake. This is a great reason why hiring a good coach can help you if fat loss is your goal.

If someone decreased their caloric intake below maintenance levels, they know they will lose weight. Any additional exercise can be looked at as boost in terms of fat loss. I never suggest you alter your caloric intake due to exercise while on a hypocaloric diet due to the reasons we just talked about. You can look at exercise as a bonus.

As you now know, a negative energy balance will result in a loss of body weight. Depending on how you manipulate your intake of protein, carbohydrates, and fats will determine if you are losing fat or muscle. If for instance, you go on one of these shitty very low calorie diets, with very minimal amounts of protein, you will lose body weight. The problem is, you will lose not only fat, but lean tissue (muscle mass) as well.

The way to lose fat, while keeping your body strong, healthy, and pleasing on the eyes is to keep protein high and to resistance train to retain as much muscle as possible while losing weight. Not only will resistance training help keep muscle mass on you, but it will also burn calories while doing it. So it’s a double whammy for fat loss. Another benefit of resistance training, is that it increases your lean mass, which results in an elevated metabolism.

As you may have noticed in this series, energy intake and energy expenditure are the key to achieving your ideal body weight. It appears that the fitness industry attempts to make you believe that exercising is the key to fat loss. This simply isn’t true. As study after study have demonstrated, diet and exercise is much more effective than either alone for fat loss. In terms of muscle gain, you cannot “will” yourself into getting bigger. Human physiology will alway reign supreme. You can have the perfect training program, but if you are eating at maintenance levels, you will not gain weight!

Hopefully this series has given you a little more information that you can use to help you reach your goals. Remember, dial in your diet if muscle gain or fat loss is your goal. Have a great weekend!

Energy Balance for Maintenance, Muscle Gain, and Fat Loss. Part II

In part I of the series I discussed the relationship between energy balance and maintenance. In part II we will be discussing how a positive energy balance will effect body weight and body composition. Positive energy balance is also known as being in a hypercaloric state. So if I told you I was on a hypercaloric diet, this would mean I’m in a positive energy balance. I will be using ‘positive energy intake’ and ‘hypercaloric state’ interchangeably.

Let’s discuss what occurs in a positive energy balance. A positive energy balance occurs when energy intake exceeds energy expenditure. A hypercaloric state will results in an increase in body weight. This may or may not be desirable for someone. If you are completely sedentary, and are in a positive energy balance, you will put on fat as your additional body weight. Obviously this leads to obesity and a whole host of other unhealthy outcomes. If an individual is following a good resistance training program while in a positive energy balance, they will be able to add lean mass as their additional body weight.

Now I’m not going to lie to you and say that if you are resistance training while in a positive energy balance you will put on ONLY muscle. This just isn’t going to happen. If you have a carefully planned diet, and are eating slightly over your caloric intake, you will be able to put on mainly muscle. You will also minimize fat gain.

A pound of fat is equal to 3500 calories. So if you are completely sedentary, and you are eating 500 calories over your caloric expenditure on a daily basis, you can expect to gain a pound of fat per week. 500 calories X 7 days = 3500 calories. This is why people get fat. Some people have various medical disorders in which their hormones are completely out of wack, this can change everything. This topic is outside the scope of this article and I won’t be discussing it any further in this article.

The above statement about calorie intake isn’t entirely true. For one thing, all food isn’t equal. The digestions of foods requires calories to be burned. This is known as the thermic effect of food (TEF). TEF is usually measured in terms of a percent. For instance this study showed that high carbohydrate/low fat and a low carbohydrate/high fat meals had a TEF of ~9%. This means that if 1000 calories is consumed, 90 calories will be expended digesting the food. So your body is able to use 910 calories, not 1000. This study was limited in that it didn’t have it’s subjects consuming a high protein meal. Luckily many other studies have studied the TEF of protein.

They found that protein is the king of TEF. This study showed that whey protein had a TEF of ~14%. Another study compared a high protein/high carbohydrate meal with a high fat meal. They ate one of the two types of meals listed above for 24 hours. TEF was measured, and yet again the high protein meal had a TEF of 14.6+/-2.9%. The high fat group had a TEF of 10.5+/-3.8%.

So as you can see, just because you are eating 500 calories doesn’t necessarily mean, all those calories will be used by your body. You will end up expending calories digesting various foods. I’ll go on a slight tangent once again and mention that some of the macronutrients will not be digested. For instance an egg has a protein digestibility rate of 97%. So some of that protein (3%) will end up in your feces and not all of it will be broken down into amino acids for entry into your blood stream etc.

Even with all of this said, it is usually not worth accounting for TEF when you are attempting to figure out your caloric intake. That’s far too tedious. I just wanted to mention TEF and digestions a little bit so you understand that you won’t be able to consume every last calorie from your food.

Let’s get back to talking about hypercaloric diets. As you’ve read above, there are two main outcomes of being on a hypercaloric diet. You can either gain fat, or a mixture of lean mass and fat. Unfortunately a large percentage of individuals now find themselves in a hypercaloric state by ‘accident’. Now that consumption of highly processed foods has increased, so has our caloric intakes. This is why obesity rates are climbing all over the world.

I feel that being knowledgeable about the amount of calories that you are putting into you is very important. If everyone understood that there are enough calories in one McDonalds meal to maintain their bodyweight, they may think twice about eating there. Or maybe they already do understand this, and just don’t care. Not to mention if more people understood what a positive caloric state was, there would probably be a lot less ‘hardgainers’ out there.

Part III of this series will cover how energy balance effects fat loss.

Energy Balance for Maintenance, Muscle Gain, and Fat Loss: Part I

Energy balance is a topic that I don’t feel is talked enough about in the fitness industry. Sure, people are on diet X or diet Y, but do they really understand the reasons that these diets are working for them? That is, IF it’s even working for them. Energy balance is a key concept when it comes to manipulating your body composition. In this three part series, I’ll be covering how energy balance effects our body weight and body composition.

Let’s first discuss what exactly body composition is. Wikipedia defines body composition as the percentages of fat, bone, and muscle in human bodies. This is a simplistic way of looking at body composition as the body is composed of many other “parts” besides the ones listed above. That is not the focus of the article though. All you need to understand is that all humans have some sort of body composition. Two individuals could be the same height and same weight, yet have completely different body compositions. For instance A might be lean and carrying a significant amount of muscle. B would be carrying very little muscle and a lot of fat. A’s body composition has low amounts of bodyfat and high amounts of lean mass, whereas B is carrying a lot of fat and less lean mass.

Now that we have body composition out of the way let’s take a look at energy balance. Basically energy balance is the relationship between our caloric intake and caloric expenditure. Caloric intake is the amount of calories we consume from foods, drinks, alcohol, etc. The term “food” will encompass food, drink, and alcohol for the remainder of this article. Caloric expenditure is the amount of calories we use for our vital functions as well as the energy used to fuel our bodies to move.

If you’ve ever noticed that your body looks pretty much the same for a period of time, you are in an balanced energy state. Now I’m not talking about some sort of spiritual energy state at all in this blog, let me get that out of the way. I’m talking about energy derived from the food that we consume. A balanced energy state is usually known as maintenance. Your body is said to be in maintenance when your body weight and body composition are not changing. So if you are 15% body fat and 200 pounds on January 1st, and you are still 15% body fat and 200 pounds on December 31st of the same year you would have been in maintenance for most of the year.

Body weight maintenance occurs when caloric intake equals caloric expenditure. For instance, if you expended 2000 calories per day, and you ate 2000 calories a day, you would be completely balanced. You would be eating just the right amount of food to fuel your daily activities, and keep you alive and healthy.

It is possible to maintain your body weight, while simultaneously changing your body composition though. For instance, it is not uncommon for new lifter to lose fat and gain muscle when they start lifting. This will only occur for the first few months. After this period they will not be able to lose fat and gain muscle at the same time.

Let’s look at an example of this in action. X decides he wants to gain some muscle. So he goes out and hires a great coach who can help him design a proper resistance training program and get his diet dialed in. He’s 5’10 and weighs 165 pounds, he’s got that skinny-fat look. His coach takes his measurements. His body fat percentage from caliper measurements comes out to around 16%. So he’s carrying around 165x.16=26.4 pounds of fat.

After 4 months, his coach takes his measurements again. He’s still 165 pounds, but his body fat percentage is now at 12%. This means he’s now carrying only 165x.12=19.8 pounds of fat. That’s around 7 pounds of fat lost. Since he still has the same body weight, this means he’ also gained 7 pounds of lean tissue. The 7 pounds of lean tissue is NOT all muscle, but muscle will definitely be a big part of it. He would look awesome after this short period. So although his calories were at maintenance levels, he was still able to make a pretty drastic body transformation in only 4 months.

In my next article, we’ll be covering how energy balance effects gains in body weight. Stay tuned!

Habit-Based Nutrition vs. Meal Plans for Fat Loss

This is a subject that I’ve been thinking about quite a bit lately. I have a couple new fat loss clients who are pretty muscular guys, but want to get nice and lean. They’ve seen what kind of results I’ve gotten with my Intermittent Fasting (IF) diet and they hired me to get similar results. I gave both of them meal plans to follow.

For individuals looking to get incredibly lean, a meal plan is going to wonders in terms of time. That is to say, you won’t be wasting time second guessing what you should or shouldn’t be eating. Don’t get me wrong, generic meal plans suck. Just like generic resistance programs suck. If you are on a diet that you aren’t enjoying chances are you are going to fall off the wagon sooner rather than later. This results in limited to zero weight loss.

Another great benefit of meal plans is that your caloric intake is monitored. If you are eating something that includes meat and potatoes, that is what you are to eat. No more, no less. This will help you make changes to your diet if your weight loss begins to stall, or you aren’t losing any weight to begin with. If someone is adhering to a diet, you will know how to fix the diet if it stalls. For instance, let’s say you are to eat 2500 calories a day. Two weeks later you measure your body weight. It hasn’t budged a pound.

There are a few main problems that may be happening which is preventing your weight loss. You aren’t adhering to the program, and are therefore eating more than 2500 calories per day. Or, you or your nutritional coach has made an error in calculating your energy expenditure. Energy expenditure is resting metabolic rate (amount of energy needed to sustain your bodies vital functions) plus calories burned during exercise.

If you are having problems adhering to the meal plan given to you, you will need to make corrections to it. This means, making the food that you are supposed to be eating taste better or switch out ‘X’ for ‘Y.’ Other options include finding foods that are equal in caloric value that can be used as a substitute to add variety to your meal plan. Eating the same foods over and over again can be boring. With a little work, you can make additional meals, that will still have you eating the same amount of calories with a similar macronutrient (protein, carbs, fats, and alcohol) profile.

Let’s see an example of a meal option. Let’s say your first meal calls for a protein shake with a bunch of fruit and some nuts. This shake has 750 calories in it. You are simply getting tired of drinking this damn shake, day in and day out. You make a new meal that consists of a huge omelette with veggies and a side of oatmeal. This alternate meal also has 750 calories in it. Now you have two options for your first meal. You can obviously make as many options as you like.

I prefer to keep things simple, so having 1 or 2 options is usually the most amount of options that I feel people should use. As time goes a long, you can make more and more meals. Another important tid bit is to have your alternate meals written down. If you are guessing, you will be waaaaaay off what you think you are taking in. This study showed that obese subjects reported eating the same amount of calories as the non-obese subjects. This doesn’t make any sense. These obese subjects didn’t have any type of metabolic condition where their metabolism slowed down drastically. So the answer that makes the most amount of sense is that they severely underestimated their caloric intake.

Understanding how to read labels is a developed skill. It really isn’t that hard though. Perhaps I’ll write about that another time. If you know how many calories you are eating, you will have a much better understanding of your caloric intake, and be able to make adjustments as you see fit.

Now a lot of this may seem like a lot of work for some people. In all honesty, it gets easier and easier. When you know what you are going to eat, it literally becomes a habit. For those who think it’s too much work there is another way. That is habit-based nutrition.

I’ve written about habit-based nutrition. Check out the link above for more information on it.

From what I’ve seen, habit-based nutrition will work. Especially for obese individuals, or those just looking to lose a couple pounds. If you’re trying to get real lean, and have an eye-popping physique, habit-based nutrition probably isn’t going to get you there. Lean individuals need quite a bit of specialization in their diets to get leaner while simultaneously retaining their muscle.

To recap, I feel both methods have a place. It really depends on what your goals are and how lean you are trying to get. If you want a visible six-pack, you will most likely need a meal plan unless you have a very, very good grasp of your caloric intake. If you are obese, or just want to trim up a little, then habit-based nutrition will be effective.