6 Simple Steps to Success in the New Year

There’s evidence to suggest that every diet works. Which is largely driven by the fact that people start eating better than crappy, and making a conscious effort to move a little more than they used to.

The problem is, not every diet lasts. And it’s usually because the restrictions are unrealistic from the outset. Leading to the quick ‘weight loss’ everybody wants to see, but with boundaries that are un-liveable for any length of time.

As we’ve discussed, even the extremely disciplined fail in a chronic caloric deficit. Because it’s not them who decides whether they lose or gain, it’s their body.

Prolonged caloric restriction (3100kcal to 1950kcal) can decrease your metabolic rate by 20% per kg of bodyweight.

You can go for the quick-fix again this year, or you can do it right. It’s your call.  But if you don’t want to look the same (or worse) next year, you’ll:

  • Ditch the master cleanse, Slim Fast, cabbage soup diet, Isagenix, and wild rose detox
  • Throw your juicer, slim band, vibration machine, body blade, Hawaiian chair, and scale in the trash
  • Stop counting calories, and start understanding that your body is more complex than a bank account

The ideal physique is not achieved by eating less and exercising more to reach some under-muscled, metabolically inactive dream weight. It’s achieved by following nutrition, training, and lifestyle habits that “Feed the Muscle” and “Starve the Fat,” so you’re always strong, always lean, and always healthy.

Here are 6 simple (but extremely effective) steps for making that happen:

Step 1 – Sleep Better

Poor sleep makes you eat more, burn less and store fat instead of muscle. It’s the change that requires the least effort, but somehow it’s the most neglected. With individuals trying to under-eat and out-exercise their body composition problems, when all they really need is a good nights sleep.

A 2008 review the journal Obesity determined that a shorter than optimal sleep increases obesity risk by 58%!

Sleep quality is just as important as duration. Which means keeping your room dark and quiet, avoiding technology and stress before bed, and attempting to match your life to your circadian rhythms:

pic 1 - melatonin.cortisol

Step 2 – Walk More

Since the general prescription for getting fit is “eat less” and “exercise more,” it’s common to think working out long and hard is a requirement. When realistically, short and intense activity is superior…and walking should be priority #1.

The majority of the population joins a gym to start killing themselves 6 days, when they’re not even clocking 5,000 steps a day.

We’re genetically programmed to walk a lot EVERY day. And when combined with a solid nutrition plan it will get you very lean, very fast, while drastically improving the health of your brain and heart, and extending your lifespan.

Just 20 minutes of walking reduces hypertension by 29% and improves brain function by 1800!

Step 3 – Fill Up on Protein

Protein is the one macronutrient you can’t over-eat, and the one macronutrient that prevents muscle loss. So filling up on it makes sense.

It’s also the most satiating; increasing fullness and satisfaction between meals, and decreasing motivation for food throughout the rest of the day.

A study from the journal of Nutrition and Metabolism gave one group of subjects 1.6g/kg bodyweight and another 0.8g/kg, with equal daily caloric allowances. The weight loss was nearly equal, but the high-protein group preserved their lean muscle mass, and lost predominantly fat.

Step 4 – Eat Less Carbs (Not Cals)

Carbohydrates are probably the most misunderstood macronutrient, largely because the companies selling them have done a great job in convincing us that they’re essential. We don’t need breads and cereals for fiber, or carbohydrates for energy. Our body is perfectly capable of manufacturing it’s own glucose to feed the brain.

“The lower limit of dietary carbohydrate compatible with life…is zero, provided that adequate amounts of protein and fat are consumed.” – The Institute of Medicine

As demonstrated perfectly in a 1971 study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, the lower your carbohydrate intake, the more weight you lose and the higher percentage of it is fat. With researchers putting obese men on diets of equal calories, while restricting carbohydrate content to 30g, 60g, or 104g, and finding these results after 9 weeks:


Step 5 – Make Friends With Fat

The low fat advice of the last 50 years has created a fear of fat that’s unwarranted. And as I demonstrate in Eat Meat And Stop Jogging, it’s the reason obesity and diabetes are now ‘common.’

In order to live a long, healthy life with a lean, resilient physique, you need to understand that fat is ESSENTIAL. Especially the saturated, cholesterol-rich animal kind you’ve been taught to fear…and especially NOT the polyunsaturated vegetable oils you’ve been taught to consume.

Instead of directing you to 10 different blog posts on the subject, check out “Heart Disease – Get the Fats Straight” that I wrote for Charles Poliquin at StrengthSensei.com in 2014.  With this quote giving you the gist of it:

“In an attempt to eliminate the one-thing we were misled to believe was causing heart disease (saturated fat), we supplied alternatives that were more detrimental.”

Step 6 – Exercise to Build (Not Burn)

When you select exercise that supports muscle growth and maintenance, you increase your metabolic rate as opposed to reducing it. Meaning you’ll burn more energy while NOT exercising.

This point was illustrated nicely in a research study from 1999 in the Journal of the American College of Nutrition, that put two groups on a calorie restricted diet; with one doing “only cardio” and the other doing “only resistance training.” Both groups lost weight (28.2lbs and 32lbs respectively), but:

  • The only cardio participants lost 9lbs of muscle and decreased their RMR by 210 calories/day
  • The only resistance training group lost 1.8lbs of muscle (because of the deficit), and managed to increase their RMR by 63 calories/day!

Or put another way, the “only resistance training” group will burn 273 more calories than the “only cardio” group EVERY day going forward without lifting a finger.

Stay Lean!
Coach Mike


Why Juicing is Stupid

How Poor Sleep Makes You Fat

Why More Exercise Fails For Fat Loss

The Problem With Meal Replacement Shakes

Moving From Healthy to Healthier in the New Year