Did you know that from Halloween to Christmas the average American gains 8-10 pounds? Well, it’s no surprise when we have three holidays focused around eating within a 90-day period, or make it four holidays if you count New Year’s too! Sure, making smart food choices is always going to be helpful. Yes, going to the gym consistently can make you leaner and stronger. But what about your internal system running the whole show? If your lymphatic system or adrenal glands get burned out due to environmental stressors, poor food choices (i.e. Halloween candy), or excessive use of stimulants, your body won’t be functioning in optimal condition, and that IS going to put a hamper on your upcoming holidays.
Q. Eric, I have seen many photos of you and you are always in shape. I have also read many of your posts on Facebook and bodybuilding message boards talking about how you stay at a single digit body fat measurement year around. As the years pass you are also still gaining muscle, so my question is, what is your normal, everyday diet like? How much, and what exactly, do you eat to remain lean while gaining muscle?
First let me start by saying that I hate the word diet. It is a lifestyle change. Diet implies an ending, and there shouldn't be an end point to a cleaner healthier lifestyle. Since that's out of the way, you need to establish your Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR) and your daily energy expenditure. I wrote about that in a previous article. That is key to finding out total calories needed and therefore breaking down your macro nutrients.
1. Don’t Starve Yourself Muscles are your body’s metabolic furnace; each pound burns about 50 calories a day. On the other hand, every pound of muscle you lose on a starvation diet slows your metabolism down by 50 calories a day. So while you may be proud of the 10 pounds you lost by eating only celery and carrot sticks, five of those pounds are likely from muscle loss. And five pounds of muscle that previously burned 50 calories per pound equals a 250-calorie reduction in your metabolism. The problem is that up to 50% of that weight loss comes from muscle tissue, not from fat and that sets you up for failure. To make matters worse, as your metabolism slows down, you’ll have to eat less and less food to compensate. If you lose weight slowly and healthfully, you’ll lose pure fat and keep your metabolism revved up.
If you have read any of my past articles you will realize that I am not a big fan of diets. Most of the time people only diet until they reach their desired weight and it ends there. Or they fail in the first couple of months trying. I am always going to encourage people to make healthy eating a lifestyle. However, if you are going to diet here are few important things to remember.
Did you know 1 in 4 Americans eat the same type of food every single day? Even if that food is healthy, it could be making it more difficult for your body to shed extra pounds. Every food and macronutrient seems to provide unique benefits to the body. Anthropology shows that the “hunter and gatherer” ancestors ate a wide variety of foods to help stave off disease and maintain health. Thus, eating a wide variety of foods not only keeps us from food boredom, but actually benefits our gut health and metabolism! So here are some ways to help you change it up.