So here we go!  This is the start of what I anticipate being a recurring series of posts, addressing the topics that clients, prospective clients, and random people ask that I feel are worth sharing with a general audience.  Without further ado, let’s dive in:

Can I have an occasional drink and still lean out?

Probably (maybe?), but the question is “why?”  If you’re serious about leaning out – whether for a show or just to get lean, be serious about that goal and abstain from the things that will set you back.  Like alcohol.  As a macronutrient (7 calories/gram), alcohol contributes to your total caloric intake and effectively takes over your metabolism while still present in the bloodstream (converts to acetate, which the body prefers over glucose – your standard metabolic fuel).  I equate this to the car that runs you over, then sticks it in reverse and backs over you again for good measure.  When leaning out many people can get away with an occasional drink, but every occasion is just another chance to sell your long-term results short.  So again, why?  (and the answer, for many, is because Blue Moon is freaking tasty.  Oh wait that’s just my answer).

Do you favor a ketogenic (low/no carb) dieting approach?

Universally, no.  Some people certainly respond well/better to it, but ultimately I do what’s best for each individual body rather than adopting blanket strategies and try to apply them to all people evenly.  I know that if you can diet with carbs, you should – performance on your lifts will be better, mood will be better, LIFE will be better.  Carb cycling and refeeds come into the equation as well so even those who do follow a keto-based plan will find some carbs in their life at some point.

Do you think IIFYM (flexible dieting, macro-based dieting) is a good idea for me?

Maybe (my favorite, stock answer).  In principle it’s a decent strategy, but if you distill someone’s diet into 3 columns/numbers (protein, carb, fat) with no additional guidelines, you’re doing a disservice.  I support flexible dieting for those clients that it works for – like other things, following a macro-based plan is a skill and you have to be comfortable/dilligent with logging foods, knowing where your macros are coming from, and being able to accurately hit the targets on a daily basis.  I also provide additional guidelines regarding timing, fiber/sugar intake, and other things so when I do incorporate it, it has evolved beyond the standard “pizza and pop tarts” plan that it is much maligned for in some circles.

I’m interested in training but not sure I want to compete.  Can you still help?

This is the question I get the most.  The answer is yes, absolutely.  I work with anyone who is willing to put in a serious effort/commitment to learn and change their body, whether they end up on the stage or not.

If you’re at all on the fence about competing, DON’T.  I am the last guy that’s going to talk anyone into that.  If it is calling you:  great, do it.  If you’re not sure, skip it and find another way to motivate yourself and guide your training phases throughout the year.  Competing is something you have to WANT to do in a big way, you can’t half-ass it or give it 80% of your best effort – it just doesn’t work that way.

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