Image: Henry Wynd
“STRENGTH TRAINING MAKES YOU BULKY”
“I don’t want to get too muscular or bulky. I just want get toned.” Have you ever said, thought or heard this? As a certified strength and conditioning coach and nutritionist, I’ve heard it time and time again with new clients. It’s a common thought process, but an ironic one nonetheless.
Strength training and lifting weights are not a recipe for bulk.
On the contrary, they are conducive to building the lean muscle tissue behind that “toned” physique you’re after! Did you know that one of the primary functions of muscle mass is burning body fat? See the paradox?
With a proper nutrition plan and a regular strength training routine in play, you’re effectively setting yourself up to carry more muscle mass. That will ultimately enable you to efficiently torch body fat and carve that lean and “toned” body composition you want.
“[INSERT TRENDING DIET] IS THE KEY TO FAT LOSS.”
Paleo, keto, intermittent fasting, macro counting, veganism, low fat, high fat, high protein… You name it, the list of dietary protocols that are considered the holy grail of weight loss is endless.
But here’s the thing… the “key” isn’t necessarily in the dietary protocol itself. Rather, it lies in the fact that every one of those options offers a path towards a calorie deficit.
Paleo removes the abundance of calories that many Americans take in through highly processed foods. Keto banishes extra calories from high volumes of carbohydrates. Intermittent fasting takes away an entire eating window from your day. Macro counting doesn’t eliminate any food groups, but it does enable you to precisely control your calorie deficit through food logging. Veganism excludes energy consumed through a wide variety of animal products… and so on.
Calories in, calories out. It’s that simple, friends! Of course, the quality of calories and micronutrients you take in matters from a longer-term health perspective.
But from a purely aesthetic standpoint, when you consume less energy than you expend, you lose weight.
So try not to get too caught up in the “this diet is right and that diet is wrong” mentality, since different dietary approaches resonate with different people!
“NO CARBS AFTER DARK.”
Good news, you guys… you CAN eat after 7:00pm! I’m here to tell you that your body won’t rebel against calories consumed once the sun goes down. That’s just not how it works. If it were, I’d be so sad to relinquish my late-night snack ritual!
But it gets even better… carbs before bed can help promote restful sleep!
I’ve had a ton of clients complain about poor sleep, and the struggle often comes from some combination of eating their last meal 4+ hours before hitting the pillow, eating a low-calorie dinner, or eliminating carbs from their last meal. These habits usually stem from the incorrect assumption that calories and carbs won’t be digested before bed.
If this hits home for you, try eating a bigger dinner, enjoying a snack or meal closer to bedtime, and/or incorporating more carbs into that nighttime meal! Trouble falling or asleep frequently relate to cortisol levels (a stress hormone) being active when they should be dormant. Carbohydrate intake will welcome a rise in insulin, which will help suppress cortisol. Translation: you’ll sleep like a baby.
“FASTED EXERCISE BURNS MORE FAT.”
Eh… not quite. Training fasted really just boils down to personal preference. Unless you exercise first thing in the morning and are able to tap into your energy stores from last night’s dinner,
I generally recommend getting something in your system for your body to utilize as fuel throughout your workout.
Moreover, if your preferred exercise modality errs on the side of higher intensity, you’re likely to feel and perform much better when you have the ability to recruit energy from your glycogen stores. And how do you stock up your glycogen tank? Carbs! Try eating a carby pre-workout meal 1 to 3 hours before your sweat session and see how you feel. Examples include: an apple or banana with peanut butter, a fruit-filled protein smoothie, white rice, and chicken breast, or a bowl of oatmeal. I bet you’ll have a better workout!
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