How To Un-F Your Diet


The facility that I primarily run my business out of has just had some of its members finish their first three months. All of the dedicated members who show up regularly and throw down have made progress. Some have made far better progress than others, which is normal given that they all showed up at various states of fitness. That’s not the end of the story, though.

While I celebrate those who’ve made great changes to their physique and athleticism what’s really interesting to see is the ones that haven’t. By and large everyone has become stronger, faster, and more mobile. This is a result of their training. Many have gained a little muscle mass (the program run there isn’t known for large amounts of hypertrophy), but dropped a ton of fat. This is good. However, there are some who haven’t really seen any appreciable change in their physique over the past three months.

The problem is not the workouts. The problem is not the dedication (those who have that issue aren’t even in the discussion). The problem isn’t simply the old favorite “genetics” excuse, either.

The problem is that input (food) is matching or overcoming output (metabolism).

Here’s the brutal truth: Whether you want less body fat, more muscle, better overall health, more energy, or whatever, your success or lack thereof usually comes down to what you stick in your pie hole.

The best laid and executed training program in the world will not work optimally if you’re not doing good work in the kitchen. It’s that simple.

Is it possible to get strong while eating crap? Yep, guys did it for years and some still do today.

Is it possible to get big while eating crap? Sure, see above. These are the guys on a permanent “bulk”. This usually involves of abusing a Chinese buffet multiple times per week.

Is it possible to get lean while eating crap? Yeah, despite what everyone in this business tells you, it is. I believe Lyle McDonald once said something to the effect of “You can get ripped on table sugar”, and he’s right.

Is eating shitty food optimal for getting big, strong, or lean? Nope.

And if your goals include anything resembling “performance” or “healthy”, then your nutrition jumps about 100% in importance for the average guy.

I can hear you now: “But Mitch Muscles at the gym eats off the Dollar Menu three times per day and he’s a house!”. Unfortunately, Mitch did a much better job picking his parents than you did. That’s a pretty harsh judgment call on my part, I know. How do I know that you’re not Mitch? Because the mutants like Mitch who can live off of fast food and sugared soda while walking around with 8% body fat aren’t reading blog posts like this, that’s how.

So for the non-genetically gifted, there needs to be some more care taken. When I start working with people, usually their diet is fucked. Most guys tend to:

-Not eat enough to gain muscle or –

-Eat WAY TOO MUCH to get lean.

-Skip breakfast (and not in a planned, intermittent-fasting way).

-Avoid vegetables like someone rubbed herpes on their carrot (see what I did there?).

-Eat way too much sugar (nothing funny here, that shit is poison).

-Eat things that come in boxes, cartons, and cellophane.

Women do basically the same things but:

-Eat more vegetables (good) but eat way too little protein (bad) and fat (worse).

-Consider chocolate to be a major food group, to be consumed in both quality and quantity. Honestly I’m not sure I’m man enough to take chocolate away from a group of women, so I might be better off leaving that one alone.

So let’s just assume that your diet is fucked. You know it. Now you need to fix it. So here’s what most people do: They run out and get a book or they hop on some diet website or an internet forum. They work and work and come up with “the perfect diet”. Chances are this consists of lettuce, tuna fish, and Diet Coke. Ouch.

However, let’s say that they really did come up with a “perfect diet”.

They start on a Monday (everything is started on Monday, after all) and are 100% dedicated. They feel in control. Hungry, maybe, but in control. Same thing with Tuesday, and maybe Wednesday. They’ve dropped a few pounds of water weight and are on fire.

Then after a little while life starts to creep up. There’s birthday parties. There’s football games. Some asshole at work brought in two dozen donuts. They can’t make it to the supermarket on time one day and so can’t pick up their chicken breast or run out of tuna, so off to Arby’s they go… You can see where I’m going here. The bottom line is that something derails the diet, and it always will, because life happens.

They’re also hungry all the time and are eating all sorts of foods foreign to them that taste like crap. So now they have very low food satisfaction and miss their old favorites. Ouch again.

After a couple of weeks and a few mishaps they decide that this diet sucks and so they just give it all up, rolling around in beer, pizza, and ice cream faster than you can say “break me off a piece of that KitKat bar”. The cycle of dieting and relapsing is repeated over and over, usually with a net gain of a few pounds of flab each time.

Massive, strict dietary changes work for a few people, but not for most.

Here’s what I do with my clients when it comes to fixing their diet:

Step 1: Start logging everything you eat. The very act of having to record what you eat, how much of it, and when you eat it will go a long way towards cleaning up your diet. Nobody really wants to write down that they ate an entire package of Oreos.

Step 2: Clean up the junk food. Time to get rid of the obvious crap.

Step 3: Identify bad habits such as skipping breakfast, missing meals and then over-compensating, no vegetables, etc. Then pick one of them to work on for two weeks until it becomes a new, good habit. Then move onto the next one.

Step 4: Make the necessary changes to fine-tune the nutrition plan. At this point the athlete has become used to a very different diet and has probably already seen good results. Now it’s time to turn an unfucked diet into a specific performance plan.

This isn’t rocket science, people. For most people the radical change diet is just not sustainable. It doesn’t do any good to build a perfect program and then abandon it entirely a couple of weeks in. Not only does that not accomplish anything but it builds a mental model of failure, which is why “dieting” is so hard for many people.

What are your goals and most effective nutrition strategies? Comment below!

Pings on How To Un-F Your Diet

January 3, 2012

Comments on How To Un-F Your Diet Leave a Comment

September 16, 2011

Dianne Parker @ 1:15 am #

My goal is to stay healthy enough so that if and when I retire, I will be able to
enjoy it without spending most of it at the doctors. I have a “boring” meal plan for the most part, oatmeal and fruit for breakfast, salad with chicken for lunch and a variety of it vegetables and protein for dinner. If I dine out, which might be once a month, I have whatever looks appealing. I don’t feel deprived and have self control enough to have a taste instead of the whole plate.
I exercise everyday and rarely sit until the day is done, which helps to keep my metabolism going as my age increases. I won’t lie and tell you it’s terrific, but it works for me to try and stay in shape and in good health. 🙂

Rebecca @ 5:05 pm #

My strategy is to fill up on all the “requirements” first and not worry too much about counting calories or being on any sort of crazy diet restrictions. By the time I eat all (most) of my requirements ie meat, dairy, fruits and veggies and whole grains, not much room for junk. When I taught a nutrition course, the students logged their diets for 3 days and analyzed the nutritional content. The take away message was it is really hard to meet all your vitamin and mineral requirements by accident. Get a basic blood screening to see if you have any deficiencies. Vitamins and minerals are incredibly important to metabolism and energy levels and deficiencies often go unnoticed.
And if that doesn’t work you can always try the maple syrup/ Tabasco sauce flush 🙂

Alice @ 9:16 pm #

Carrots are my all time favorite vegetable. Now when ever I eat one I will think of you and an STD, Thanks!

Alice @ 10:09 pm #

*a STD

September 20, 2011

Isaac @ 11:19 am #

Mrs. Parker: Great strategies! You’re filling your body with good food, not starving it, and staying active. I agree, it’s not as much fun as a junk food marathon, but the results are worth it!

Rebecca: Awesome ideas. I do the same thing: Make sure my body has what it needs and then fill in the excess. It’s way too easy to haphazardly load up on calories but be nutritionally deficient. Good advice on the blood screening, too. My life, literally, made a huge turn-around when I fixed my vitamin D deficiency.

The maple syrup/hot sauce flush always sketched me out even more than most of those whacky fasts.

Alice: Looking out for you!

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