If you work hard in the gym, but fail in the kitchen, this podcast is for you. As a former morbidly obese man, turned fit-guy-in-his-40s and NASM Certified Personal Trainer, Dan Crask hosts and guides us through mindsets, tactics, and tips in this first season of the Body Shepherd podcast.
There may be no bigger taboo topic among fitness professionals than that of supplementation. So, in full disclosure, I am pro-supplements, so long as they are used as true supplements, and not leaned on entirely for results. Here are supplements I use every day and why:
Protein. I find it difficult to get all the protein my body needs to grow muscle in my 40s from plate food, alone, so I use NutraBio’s Whey Protein 100% Isolate (vanilla) to give myself protein throughout the day. It’s a great on-the-go tool too.
L-Carnitine Tartate. Carnitine is an amino acid that does a lot of amazing things, but the tartate form helps the body tap into stored body fats and use them for energy, rather than immediately available sugars from recently eaten carbs or sugars.
Green Tea Extract. There are a ton of benefits to green tea, but in its extract form, I use it for giving my metabolism a spike and also staving off hunger. There are a lot more benefits to green tea extract, but this is what I find useful.
BCAAs. Brand Chain Amino Acids (BCAAs) are used in the construction of protein, and when consumed orally, they can help the body keep muscle intact during a period of time when we are intentionally losing weight but wanting to keep our hard-earned muscle. BCAAs come in some very tasty drink forms these days, so they are also delicious to drink!
Vitamins and minerals. These changes throughout the year, but my staples are zinc, vitamin D, and vitamin C. Sometimes I add in Chromium for blood sugar control, especially during the Christmas goodies time of year, but the others mentioned are primarily for my immune system and cell health.
Life gets challenging. Maybe life has an especially great moment.
Whatever the reason: Food beckons. You indulge…over-indulge. And then it hits: What I call The Fuggits.
You have a bad meal, hell, a bad day of eating and you think, “Aww, fuggit…I’ve messed up this much, it doesn’t matter if I just keep eating like this because I failed.”
And if you’re as all-or-nothing like I was, that mindset can last months and be the root of a 30-40 lb weight gain.
The big challenge is to remind yourself that The Fuggits don’t need to derail your progress!
This episode is real talk about THE thing that derailed me early on in my journey, and the thing I see most often in my clients.
Ever notice that we tend to eat at our worst when we’re totally unprepared to eat?
We are busy doing this and that, hunger hits, and the easy options are calorie-dense but nutritionally-vacant.
We need to prepare to eat with a prep day. At least one day a week, I cook 2 proteins in bulk so that they are ready for me to pull out of the fridge and eat with an easy to make carb or vegetable. It’s proteins that can take the longest time to make, so I make them ahead of time in bulk.
Sometimes I will also cook a starchy carb in bulk, like potatoes or rice, in advance as well.
The point is that I am prepared for my meals, and am rarely caught off guard.
Listen to this episode to learn all about meal prep.
We have covered tracking your food, and now it’s time to look at going a level deeper by seeing your daily nutrition goals as a budget.
The starting question is: Do you track “macros,” which are the macronutrients of protein, fat, and carbs, or do you just track calories?
Macros: Track macros if your goal is to gain muscle. You will want 0.8g–1.0g of protein for each lb. of your bodyweight, and macros can help you do that.
Calories: Track calories if your goal is body fat loss.
Intermittent Fasting (IF) is where each day has an Eating Window and a Fasting Window.
Practically, IF has a standard format called the 16:8 model where you fast for 16 hours and eat within 8 hours.
I have followed this model for 3+ years. Each day, I eat between ~12pm and ~8pm, and I am in a fasted state from ~8pm to ~12pm the following day.
My approach is that I stop eating by 8pm each day, skipping breakfast the next day, and starting each day with lunch.
This episode gives you the gist of Intermittent Fasting's many benefits, and how to get started if you want to try it yourself.
The main reason why “diets” crash and burn is because we totally eliminate the indulgences that we genuinely enjoy, but have abused to the point of gaining too much weight. The better way is delayed gratification.
When I began my fit life as a 325+ lb man, I gave myself one day a week to eat whatever I wanted. It was a weekly reward for hard work. And here’s the interesting thing: As I got in better and better shape, I wanted the huge portions of donuts and ice cream that I used to binge on.
It takes time, but it started with giving myself a cheat day once a week.
So listen to this episode to learn how to implement a cheat day/meal, and use it to let off some steam as you build a healthy lifestyle.
The grind of Monday-Friday provides a daily template of routine to keep things somewhat predictable.
But come Saturday and Sunday, we can be prone to get a case of the “Fuggits” and just eat whatever is within arm’s reach.
The best thing you can do for yourself is to use your voice from within the routine to communicate to yourself on weekends, and remind yourself that you do not want to screw this up!
Listen and learn some tips about weekend eating.
A need to eat on the go is a must for a lot of people, and if the meal prep in Week 6 didn’t happen or you just find yourself very hungry while out, with no food that you prepared, the on-the-go options become viable.
What should we do? Here are some tips:
Skip the sides like fries. You will get adequate carbs from a sandwich bun so there’s no need to get even more saturated fat, carbs, and salt from French fries.
Go for protein. Instead of that side of fries, order 2 chicken sandwiches or 2 burgers. Protein is more satiating, so you’ll avoid hunger for a longer period of time.
Soda is liquid body fat - do you want that? When we drink soda - even diet soda - the liver and pancreas get to work to deal with this new energy source. If there’s no use for that energy (and there won’t be if you’re on the go in your vehicle), the body converts the nutrients into stored energy for later use, aka, body fat. Diet drinks are particularly bad because they trigger an insulin response, but the insulin cannot do anything with the false sugar. Just avoid soda as much as you can - keep it for special occasions.
Park your vehicle and use MyFitnessPal to quickly scan the best options. If you stop at, say, a Taco Bell, simply type in “Taco Bell” into MFP, and you will see their entire menu with nutrition information. It will take 3 minutes of your day, and you can choose smarter.
Make a list of the options you usually encounter, research the best food options, and keep a note on your phone that lists the best options for your body’s goal(s). The point here is simple: Don’t let your circumstances own you.
For road trips, instead of pulling off to hit a restaurant, consider stopping at a grocery store. Pick up a ready-to-eat rotisserie chicken, and eat that instead. I get a rotisserie chicken when I travel, and if I’m the only one eating it, I can get 4-5 meals out of it. Add in some raw veggies like carrot sticks, broccoli, etc. with some low-cal Ranch dressing, and it’s very satisfying.
Did you know your stomach is roughly the size of your fist?
Try it out: Make a fist. See that size? That’s roughly the size of your empty stomach.
So when you are adding portions of food to your plate, you can use a fist as a template.
Listen and learn more about why right-sized portions are so crucial to the success of your healthy life goals.
If you follow Body Shepherd guidance and are using LoseIt™, then you may have arrived here already: You need to measure your food.
Or maybe you’re guessing.
Either way, it’s important to measure your food accurately with instruments so you know how to accurately measure it with your eyes.
I like to measure my food with a food scale and cups for ~3 months, then go for another 6 months or so without a food scale.
The food scale and measuring cups are good for training our eyes on what portions look like.
Do you know exactly what 4 oz of chicken looks like? How about 2 tablespoons of peanut butter?
Measuring will open your eyes to accuracy.
If we are honest, the reason why “dieting” sucks so much is because our dislike of food choices associated with “dieting” are not the hyper-flavorful varieties that cause rapid weight gain.
And if we go a step further in our honesty, we can see that it is a sense of entitlement to these hyper-flavorful foods that “dieting” removes.
This is where a new mindset is required: Eating for utility.
This simply means that we need to eat food that serves a practical purpose way beyond our taste buds.
We need to eat certain foods because they have protein needed for muscle repair. We need certain fibers because our digestive tract needs to keep moving. We need fluids because our bodies thrive on good hydration.
See? Eating for the utility of eating is probably more important than eating for pleasure, and maybe, just maybe, should be our priority style of eating.
No matter what your fitness goal is, you will eventually hit a plateau unless you log and track your food. We can have success in the gym, but fail in the kitchen, which results in stalled progress.
You have to log your food.
The good news is that apps like Lose It make this a breeze. Lose It has a barcode scanner to instantly scan barcodes on pre-packaged food, and a searchable database of just about anything you can think of eating.