When I completed my “education” to become a personal trainer, the RTO where I studied offered a rather in depth nutrition module, as well as a level 1 & level 2 additional 2 day courses in advanced sports nutrition. Wanting to be well equipped and offer the best coaching services to my clients, I completed them all.
Basic knowledge taught was standard accurate general nutrition information. For example what is a macronutrient, micronutrient, their respective roles in the body. My Brofessors were not entirely useless.
When it came to meal frequency and nutrient timing, there was some strange wizardry concepts. “Six meals a day is the magic number” was a statement that stuck in my mind. Why six? We were told that it was not only to “stoke the metabolic fire” because large meals is like throwing logs on the fire instead of small kindling that will keep it going all day long. Six meals spaced 2-4 hours apart were ideal for avoiding catabolism and optimising muscle protein synthesis. So do it or all your muscles will fall off.
If you aren’t eating 6 meals a day at regular intervals you are going to lose muscle, get fat, not get any gains, look like a pile of sludge. Your body might go into starvation mode if you wait too long in between meals and this will mean it’s impossible to lose fat, your metabolism will slow down and you will lose muscle. Added to this, it was essential to consume a protein shake within 30mins of working out, this is on top of your 6 protein meals.
When ripped fitness professionals are teaching this and you’re there to learn, the tendency is to soak up the new found knowledge. You aren’t in the position to call BS. They must know what they’re talking about, right? My younger naive self didn’t account for the fact they fail to mention excessive steroid use had also accounted for their physique. Or that the use of performance enhancing drugs alters the bodies ability to build muscle. How was I to know this sort of stuff?
This is why science is so important, as opposed to taking advice from a bro that claims “well it works for me so it MUST be right”. Just because it’s what has been done traditionally, doesn’t mean it’s good practice.
I implemented said practices. But was not told the your daily intake of macronutrients will ultimately dictate body composition. I was falsely told counting calories doesn’t work.
Results were less than spectacular. My high training volume (coupled with the added fear of sugar and carbs that had been instilled from the same course), somewhat excessive protein intake. My weight stayed the same but I actually lost muscle, looked soft and worse than ever. Turns out lots of training with not a lot of carbs also makes you feel like crap. Until your weekly cheat meal that was used to “keep the body guessing”.
After becoming a coach and regrettably feeding this information to unsuspecting victims, I felt that there was something missing. Results were not consistent and I looked better when I didn’t know any of this shinfo. I wanted a more calculated approach.
Why do some people eat only 2-3 times a day and look ripped as hell? Why do some people never eat breakfast and still see good results? Why since learning the “right way” had I been more lost than ever? Why do some people eat junk food regularly and still look better than the average Joe?
Enter Science. I wanted to find more credible sources and look at what the literature said that supported these claims. I found Alan Aragon’s Research Review and other credible resources like examine.com pointing to more credible answers.
Things that I had to unlearn from my “brofessors”
> You need a fast acting protein source (ideally a whey protein isolate shake) within 30mins of completing your workout
> 6 Meals a day is the magic number
> sugar is the reason people get fat and it shouldn’t be in your diet
> carbs make you fat and are evil
> your metabolism will slow down if you don’t eat every 2-4hours
> breakfast is the most important meal of the day
> you should drink BCAAs throughout the day, during training, between meals to avoid muscle loss and for optimal muscle protein synthesis
As all of this began to unfold, I started with a new coach – a flexible dieter and natural bodybuilder. He confirmed what I had recently discovered. This brought on my “screw the system” approach to dieting. Where I would skip breakfast, eat only when I was hungry or when it was convenient, fit in fun foods like Kitkats and icecream almost daily. After over 2 years of suffering through trying to implement terrible and damaging advice, I was finally looking and feeling great. Something that I had began to think was near impossible for me.
Why am I telling you this? It’s easy for someone who is more ripped than you to tell you stuff that sounds logical. They present it as fact. If they are in a position of authority it’s hard to question or disagree. They appeal to flawed logic. Be skeptical about what you hear. Make sure you verify claims are scientifically backed by reliable studies. If you’re not a fit pro, find someone in the industry you trust. Someone with integrity that wants to present the facts rather than just big note themselves. Know that the fundamentals are most important and these are what most people agree on. Don’t get hooked on silly made up rules that people use to make you think they have magical industry secrets.
Just because someone uses one approach that works, doesn’t mean results stem from their set of obscure rules. Use an approach that you can stick to and enjoy. Avoid absolute all or nothing rules. Most of all don’t give advice that isn’t based on sound proven evidence.
If you want to do what works, and take a no BS approach, get your info from the best in the industry. Below are a few of the many fit pros taking an unbiased scientific approach. I know there are a great deal more, but these are the guys are who opened my eyes and have helped me become a better coach.
Alan Aragon alanaragon.com
Dr Spencer Nadolsky drspencer.com
Dr Bojan Kostevski www.lift-heavy.com
Lou Schuler www.louschuler.com
Bret Contreras bretcontreras.com
James Krieger weightology.net
Armi Legge evidencemag.com
James Fell www.bodyforwife.com
Brad Schoenfeld www.lookgreatnaked.com
Menno Henselmans bayesianbodybuilding.com
Dick Talens dicktalens.com
Evelyn Kocur carbsanity.blogspot.com
Josh Hillis www.losestubbornfat.com
Nick Tumminello nicktumminello.com
Dr Layne Norton www.biolayne.com
Lyle Mcdonald www.bodyrecomposition.com
Mike Israetel renaissanceperiodization.com
Martin Berkhan leangains.com
Greg Nuckols strengtheory.com