It was a sunny June afternoon circa 2009 and I was heading to an UFC event with a few buddies. We got there early to take in the festivities, and I figured I would go for at least six hours without a proper meal. So, naturally, I packed a chicken breast smothered with peanut butter in my pocket. Unfortunately, the bouncer at the door frisked me, found the chicken breast, and inquired, “WTF is that?” I explained my predicament — and the muscle loss that would surely follow — and he said I was mostly at risk for salmonella and suggested I eat it right then and there or he’d toss it out. Long story short, I had to force down some dry chicken in front of a line-up of UFC fans. Hardcore.
So what am I trying to tell you with this trip down memory lane?
In the early days of my fitness journey as a young and naive Mitch, I replaced one obsession (junk food and video games) with another (extreme weight lifting and healthy eating) instead of taking a balanced approach. I withdrew myself further from the world, measuring every morsel of food that went into my mouth, refusing to eat dinner with my family and avoiding social gatherings so I could maximize my deep sleep. It took a while to come to the realization that I was wasting some of the best years of my life to try to maximize my results in the gym.
My approach now focuses on balance and moderation (in fact, I get better results now that I’ve loosened the reins a bit) and that’s ultimately what my clients want, too. (If you need help finding a middle-of-the-road approach that works, check out this free fat loss cheat sheet for men.) So I want to let you know that you can reach your fat loss goals while enjoying barbecues and beers this summer. Here’s how. The single most important change you can make to lose fat is to eat less food and be in a calorie deficit. I’m not going to belabor this point because you know this. But how do you manufacture a calorie deficit while still enjoying your summer?
Here’s one way to cycle your diet that allows for both fun and fitness:
During the week, you’ll eat a minimum amount of protein per day and reduce your fat and carbohydrate calories. You’ll put yourself in a 500-1,000 daily caloric deficit Monday through Friday. Yes, it’s going to suck at times during the week, you might be hungry, but you’re busy at work anyway, right? You will be in a major caloric deficit going into the weekend, so you will have some calories to play with. I’d suggest implementing some fasting days like the Metabolic Blowtorch Diet advocates, making the process easier. Saturday, you’ll eat a modest breakfast, a light lunch, and then whatever you want without going too crazy at dinner. Usually, that means a meal out at a restaurant or a BBQ at a friend’s, a dessert, and two alcoholic drinks. Sunday, you’ll fast the early part of the day, exercise around lunch time and then have a brunch filled with all the fun stuff — think pancakes drowned in syrup, waffles, cereal etc. Maybe you’ll even follow it up with a BBQ in the evening. At the end of the week, you should still find yourself in a net caloric deficit — and you will lose fat or at least hold serve with where you went into it. Here are the ground rules to make your summer weekends work for you — not against you:
Earn Your Calories
Go hard in the weight room on your higher calorie days and make those calories count. Resistance training sensitizes muscle tissues to carbohydrates. After a heavy weight training session, your muscle cells are scrambling to soak up the carbs needed to promote recovery. That means the better your workouts, the better you’ll be sensitized to those BBQ treats.
Eat Lean Leading Up To The BBQ
As mentioned, your calorie intake in the early part of the day should be modest at best. Pathetic amounts of food in many cases, if not a full out fast. Two food choices that always fill you up nicely without being too high in calories are lean protein and fibrous veggies. On the day of your party, keep your protein choices lean and fill up on cooked veggies for breakfast and lunch.
Set Some Boundaries With Alcohol
Small doses of alcohol aren’t detrimental to your fitness goals – a pint of beer increases testosterone by 17% and has no negative impact on muscle loss, according to one study. The best alcoholic choices are non-flavored liquors and zero-calorie mixers. Think diet drinks and vodka. Alternatively, you can be that guy drinking low-carb beer everyone laughs at (I suggest putting it in a red solo cup if peer pressure gets to you.) The poison is in the dose, however. Moderate alcohol consumption (more than two pints a night) can suppress testosterone and protein absorption. You can only imagine the impact of a weekend bender. NOTE: If you’re trying to get dick skin shredded like Jay Campbell, you may want to do away with booze entirely. Try to drink your last drop at least two hours before bedtime and limit it to two drinks – i.e. a decent buzz is fine but a night ending with you in the drunk tank with male genitalia stenciled on your face isn’t. By following these simple, straightforward rules, you’ll be able to enjoy life and avoid looking like the Michelin Man by summer’s end.
FREE Download: Have a fair bit of fat to lose, especially in the belly? Need a place to start in 30 seconds or less? Grab this easily digestible (pun intended) two-page cheat sheet for men, to simplify your diet without fads, quick fixes or calorie counting, courtesy of coach Mitch, free for TOT readers.
About The Expert
Mitch Calvert is a transformation coach for men like his former self, with worse genetics than Chris Farley. Yes, the chubby dude from Tommy Boy. Get Mitch’s free Mansformation Cheat Sheet to simplify your diet and start shedding that stubborn belly fat.