My post on dieting received a ton of traffic, primarily because Mangan shared it on his Twitter feed and Heartiste retweeted it. I’m honored that two of my favorite bloggers would share an article of mine. However, I have more to add to the subject of dieting. What follows are some pro-tips. Remember, I’m no doctor or personal trainer, these are just anecdotes that I’ve picked up on over time.
- 1 – There is such a thing as “pro-metabolisms” that you can drink or take. Caffeine and fat burners can really help to cut the fat. I like to drink plenty of black coffee and plain green tea, and I take fat burners when I cut. My favorite fat burner is the classic Ripped Fuel Extreme, as it’s usually the cheapest and it works just as well as the other fat burners that are three to four times as expensive. Don’t pay for fancy packaging. Also, as I mentioned in my last post, watch the energy drinks. Regular ones are loaded with sugar, and the low-carb or sugar free ones have sugar substitutes which spike your insulin in the same way as regular energy drinks do. I suppose the sugar free and low carb ones are preferable, and I admit I love some energy drinks, but their anti-metabolic properties render them poor choices compared to coffee or higher caffeine teas. Even a latte with low sugar is a better choice than an energy drink, in my opinion. Remember to drink extra water when drinking caffeinated beverages or taking fat burners, as they tend to dry you out and being dehydrated will slow down your metabolism.
- 2 – After you read the last article, you might have thought “what about cheat days?” I have a nuanced opinion on these. I’m an Infantryman, and when I’m dieting and have bullshit to do like a 12 mile ruck march, a 36 hour long patrol or something else physically demanding you can bet I will break my diet. This is so that I don’t die doing very demanding physical labor and ensure I have the carbs to burn. When I’m forced to work for almost two days straight you can bet I’m going to eat the damn French toast sticks. Usually, the labor will negate most of the poor eating. Sometimes after a ruck march my platoon sergeant will give us donuts, or my squad will get pizza for lunch if possible, but when on a cutting cycle I limit my “food crimes” to days filled with arduous labor. Before very tough physical tasks I eat heartily to ensure I have fuel in the tank, and I sometimes treat myself afterwards to reward my performance. I don’t believe in cheat days as they’re regularly practiced though. Usually people use “cheat days” to overindulge and sabotage half the progress or more they made during the week, often in the name of “staying sane” or keeping their metabolism at a normal level. The former problem should be remedied by becoming more self-disciplined and accepting hunger and the fact that you can’t eat whatever you want and be healthy. The latter problem is far better remedied by maintenance weeks or weekends. These are weekends or weeks (they don’t have to be exactly seven days, I usually do mine for just four days) where you bump your calories up to a maintenance level in order to avoid your metabolism from becoming too sluggish and to replenish your glycogen levels and such. You don’t sugar blast yourself or eat unhealthy, you simply add in some whole grains and some more healthy fats and protein. I only restore my calories to a maintenance level on a cut when I’ve lost at least 5 pounds. Lastly, life is meant to be lived, so if you’re dieting and thanksgiving, Christmas, the Super Bowl or something similar comes along, live life and enjoy your food and alcohol. Just know that your indulging could wipe out a week of progress .
- 3 – Supplements outside of fat burners and whey are a waste of money, aside from steroids or pro-hormones (which work amazingly well, but also can put a man on edge and make him a lot more angry and aggressive. I’d never use them in the military because they can amplify depression during rough stretches, or while having to focus on an important project at work or during an intense academic period in school they can throw you off your game). Multivitamins dehydrate you, which is bad for your metabolism, and I never take them. Creatine can be nice because it adds up to five pounds of mostly water weight to your muscles, which makes you a little bigger and stronger, but it dehydrates you big time and the benefits cease once you stop taking it for a week, so save yourself the money and skip it. I believe in sticking to the basics. Plus, most guys who are huge steroid-heads don’t bother with all the crap stick-armed turds spend thousands of dollars for per year at GNC in vain, and pro-hormones and some steroids are often as cheap as or cheaper than common commercial supplements. No, I won’t help you find these things, and no, I do not recommend breaking the law. I’m also in no way responsible for your problems if you take anything like steroids or pro-hormones as I’m no doctor, and while I don’t think they’re nearly as harmless as they’re made out to be, I know they’re not completely harmless, especially when it comes to a man’s mental state. I’d also never use anything like steroids or pro-hormones to cut, I believe they’re best for bulking cycles.
- 4 – Temperature can affect metabolism. Drinking ice water, especially before meals, can ramp up your metabolic rate since your body needs to expend calories to warm the water so that your body can use it. Being in a cold environment can also ramp up your metabolism a lot because your body needs to expend calories to warm itself up. When doing winter training in the Army I noticed I could eat significantly more calories a day without adding fat, and actually had to eat more than usual or else I’d experience some muscle wasting if I was eating a maintenance diet or bulking. Hot climates also can speed up metabolism, but remember to drink boatloads of water to keep from getting dehydrated and shutting down your metabolism.
- 5 – Failing to plan is planning to fail. Don’t tempt yourself by buying unhealthy foods to sit in your kitchen someplace, and buy plenty of what you need for the week at the grocery store so that you don’t ruin your diet by running out of food and resorting to fast food. If you need to eat out, make wise choices, like sticking to ice water for your beverage and eating meals that are low carb and not too high in fat. I like to get steak or chicken Caesar salads or steak with a side or two of cooked veggies like carrots or broccoli. Stay away from potatoes though.
One last note – once you’re in shape, as long as you take care of yourself you’ll rarely need to eat a fat burning diet. You don’t have to “yo-yo” with your weight or make fat burning a lifelong struggle, and once you’re in good shape you can get away with going out for an ice cream or getting a bunch of pancakes as long as you don’t overdo it, so don’t think dieting is the end of enjoying some great foods.