Thursday, June 5, 2008

So, Where Do I Start?

This seems to be a common theme in most of the emails that I've received so far. Oh, please keep them coming guys because I learn so much from them. If I haven't responded to you, don't worry one will be in your inbox before you know it!

OK guys, so you've read my story, you've become motivated, and now you're ready to lose the weight. But, just like me, most of you don't have a clue where to start. You could follow your old high school football routine that had you in the best shape of your life 20 years ago, or you could purchase the latest gadget on TV that guarantees results or your money back. Listen, I want to be clear about one point. You don't have to buy one single piece of equipment or one diet book to get the body of your dreams--not one!

This may seem contradictory since I promote certain products on my blog; nevertheless, all these are merely to compliment your training/understanding of nutrition, but you don't need them to lose the weight. Don't let anyone tell you differently because if guys in solitary confinement can get shredded on "nutritious" prison food and leaving the cell for 30 minutes to an hour per day, what do you think you can do?

I'm going to give you guys a formula for success that won't cost you one red cent! I'm even going to give them to you in bullet points for easier reading. OK, I know that in some of my earlier posts, I've discussed very complicated ways for you to figure out how many calories you need and macro-nutrient breakdown, etc. Also, I've posted some workout routines that seemed a bit complicated.

Well, I'm going back to my old fashion KISS (Keep It Sweet & Simple) philosophy for both my training and nutrition. Yes, I'm aspiring to have the body of an athlete, but I'm not one. So, I have to keep in mind that whatever program I create for myself must include the realities of my everyday life. Does this mean that you should continue to use your busy schedule as an excuse for you not exercising? Of course not, your busy schedule should cause you to want to exercise to help rid yourself of everyday stress. Hey, if you haven't hit a heavy bag imagining that it's your boss or an annoying co-worker, then you really don't know the true meaning of stress relief. ;)

Let's start with nutrition and the least you should know:

  • Calories do indeed count and always will. Don't get caught up in debates with people about this because it's counterproductive to your ultimate goal. If another person truly believes that they can lose weight and reach the size they want without having an idea of how many calories s/he is consuming, congratulate them on their success and move on because here on earth, the Laws of Thermodynamics have yet to be disproven.

  • "Eat Less, Move More" - Oh, how we hate hearing that from doctors, family, and friends who have never had a weight problem their entire life--lucky bastards! Well, don't be so quick to dismiss what they are saying because there is some truth in this weight loss cliche. In a most basic way, this expression is simply encouraging us to consume less energy (create a caloric deficit) while using more energy for the extra movement (which, since there is a calorie deficit, will cause your body to use its stored energy--fat and muscles--to make up for the difference, which causes you to lose weight on the scale). Simple, right? Yes, but they left something out. How much less do you eat and how much more should you move?

  • Determining your daily calorie requirements is usually so confusing that sometimes you feel you need a background in biochemistry to fully understand the damn formulas. Well, I've picked up a simple and extremely uncomplicated way to determine how many calories you need to consume to stay at your present weight and how much you should eat to lose weight thanks to tips from the bodybuilder and strength & conditioning communities. First, keep in mind that this is not an exact science and that these are estimates, but they are reliable enough that athletes use them as a guide for their training. So, to get an idea of how many calories per day you need to eat to stay at your current weight, multiply your bodyweight times 15. To lose weight, you want to multiply your current weight times 8 -12. For most folks starting off, go with 10 or 12. Reserve the lower number when you're going for your six pack!

    Let's look at the example of a guy who weighs 300lbs. Well, to lose weight, he needs to consume no more than 3000 cals (BW x 10 = 3000) a day. He'll stay with this number until he loses 20lbs, and then he'll go back and reformulate his calorie needs, which will now be 2800 cals a day. Next, he'll be eating 2600 cals after losing 20 more pounds. You see how simple this is?

  • So, what about macronutrients (carbs, fats, protein)? Should you do low-carbs, low-fat, or a balanced diet? What I find interesting is that this topic makes so much money in the "diet" book industry simply because of confusion and marketing hype. It's really simple. If you want to lose weight, simply follow the previous bullet's suggestion. However, if you want the majority of the weight loss to be actual body fat, then I suggest that you consume no more than 100 grams of carbs a day. This has been shown to be the upper limit of carb intake for one to consume and still benefit from the hormonal response (read: lower insulin levels, more fat burning, etc).

    If you are still freaked out about doing a low-carb diet, consider that the USDA recommends that we eat at least 125 grams of carbs because of the glucose our brains require on a daily basis. That's a difference of 25 grams, and I'll tell you what, without going into detail about ketones and the brain, I'll compromise with you. After you do a resistance workout, take in those 25 grams of carbs with your protein shake, and we'll call it even! There's no reason to go lower than 100 grams, despite what you may hear from low-carb sites and forums.

  • Finally, figure out what triggers your poor eating habits. Listen, we know that eating a scoop or two of ice cream in a cup is better than that gi-normous four scoop sundae that drips down our chin and add to our waist. What's just as important along your weight loss journey is to figure out who you are and what makes you tick. We all eat, or should I say overeat, for different reasons. I was an emotional eater. Whenever stress knocked on my door, I was off to Krispy Kreme for a baker's dozen! No one forced me or even suggested that I react this way to stress, and, unfortunately, my body acted accordingly to what and how much I was feeding it.
I wanted to get nutrition out of the way first because the training aspect of your weight loss journey is even more simple in my opinion:
  • If you lose weight mainly through calorie restriction, you, more than likely, will have droopy and saggy skin. We all have seen guys who lose a lot of weight and are pretty saggy. I call it the Jared Complex. No disrespect to the Subway guy because he is encouraging kids to exercise and be more conscious of their calories, but I never wanted to look skinny fat. When I lost weight using pills and doing tons of cardio, I looked like Jared, complete with the saggy skin and man boobs to boot! Fellas, if you don't want folks coming up to you and poking your saggy stomach like your the Pillsbury Doughboy, I'd suggest that you realize that resistance training is not an option--it's mandatory!

  • Compound bodyweight exercises are more than enough for your strength and cardio conditioning. That's right, the body you see in the mirror every morning presents more than enough weight resistance for you to build a respectable body! Again, you don't need to buy any equipment. For ideas, feel free to go to for free videos, discussions, and information on bodyweight exercises. I think it's one of the best bodyweight only forums/sites on the web! As I stated in my last post, YouTube is chock full of videos of people doing various bodyweight exercises. Oh, and there are two more BW-only sites that I've come across that I want you to check out:

    • Beast Skills - Jim, who lives in my hometown of DC, has a great site and instructional videos.
    • Body by Fish - Scrapper is another bodyweight culturists who has an outstanding site.
  • Finally, I have a little treat for those guys out there who just need a program to follow. OK, if you fall in this camp, I have a pdf file that you can download or view by clicking here. This is basically a teaser from Craig Ballantyne's Turbulence Training Fat Loss Program. The good thing about this pdf is that you'll get a lot of mileage out of it because it has beginner, intermediate, and advanced routines. So, you have a good three months, or more depending on your current level of fitness, of workouts (including cardio) that you can use to decide if you want to purchase his ebook.

    Even if you don't buy Craig's book, make sure to take advantage of this free pdf, and make sure that you start to do research on the term EPOC (Excess Post-Exercise Oxygen Consumption) to understand the number of new fat loss exercise programs getting ready to inundate the market around this concept!
Remember guys, the tortoise was right, slow and steady wins the race. It's OK to aim to have the body of a sprinter, but make sure to develop the mentality of a marathon runner along the way.


Tara said...

Great post - it's rare to find simple concise info about this stuff.

Mr. LowBodyFat said...

Thanks Tara!

ALAN said...

Thanks for the post, great as always! I'm having trouble figuring out how to calculate good sources of carbs by the gram..any tips?

Mr. LowBodyFat said...

Hello Alan and thanks for leaving a comment/question. The easiest way to determine your carb calories is to remember that 1 gram of carbs = 4 calories. Protien has the same value as carbs, but Fat/Lipids (all kinds) have 9 calories per gram. Hence the low-fat mania because they believe if you cut back on fat, then you'll cut back on calories too.

Anyway, if you eat 100grams of carbs a day, then that's roughly 400 calories from carbs that you'll eat. You can get all these calories from grain sources if you wish, but it won't be the most "nutritious" carbs to eat. Personally, I try to stick with the salad veggies for my carb intake. Not only are they more nutrient dense than grains, but they also have phytonutrients that grains don't. Nevertheless, it's up to you Alan, where you get your carb sources from. I recommend that you experiment to see how your body reacts. Thanks again for stopping by . . .

Midway Dave said...

Hi Muata,

Great post!

When you get to your target, you should really consider writing a book.


Mr. LowBodyFat said...

Dave, thanks a lot for your comment! Hey, that's the plan my friend, and I already have a working title:

Why I Love My Stretch Marks ...

Again, this is a working title, and I haven't come up with a sub-title yet! LOL! Thanks again Dave.

KR3M3R said...

Hey Dude,
First, I want to say you have undergone an amazing transformation, I'm really inspired by looking at your photos. I expect your site will really help me as I attempt to undergo my own transformation. I did have a few questions:
1) What is the time frame on your photos? Obviously you've worked really hard to get to where you are, but how long did it take between shots?
2) Do you have any book recommendations for learning more about nutrition? Simple thermodynamics (as you stated) rule that if more is burned than you consume you'll lose weight. But I still want to learn more about nutrition, and any advice would be appreciated.
3) Lastly, do you incorporate cardio? Based on your last post you seem to be somewhat against cardio (and conditioning my heart is important to me) do you feel that the body weight and other weight training exercises are enough to get an adequate cardio workout or should some form of cardio be incorporated into a work out plan?

Thanks again, I can't tell you how inspired your site has made me.

Laura said...

LOL the stretchmark title :) You are doing great! I'm proud of you!

Mr. LowBodyFat said...

Thanks for your comment Laura and congrats on your weight loss too! Robb, here are my answers:

1. I started my journey in Jan 2003 and that's when the picture of me at 296 was taken. The most recent pic of me was taken this year a couple of months ago, but I'm still not finished!

2. For a good read about nutrition, I highly recommend that you read Lyle McDonald's The Rapid Fat Loss Handbook because he explains a lot about how the body gains and loses weight from he cellular level.

3. Your body is more than enough for cardio. I'll give you a perfect example using an old gym favorite--the jumping jack! I want you do to as many jumping jacks you can do in 20 seconds, then rest 10 seconds (exactly); this is considered one round. Try to work up to doing 8 rounds after warming up for 3 minutes and cooling down for 3 minutes. Let me know what you think . . . thanks for your comment.

Anonymous said...

Good solid recommendations.
Nice post.

Mr. LowBodyFat said...

Thanks for the comment Strong . . .

Kasey said...

Great post! I hate to ask stupid questions but the resistance training you mentioned for saggy skin how exactly does that help? Does it fill in the skin with muscle?

What nutrient advice can you give to maybe help with saggy skin? I mean is there anything good I can eat to help keep it at a minimum?

Thank you for sharing your knowledge and experiences.

Dale & Amy said...

What do you think about using Isagenix to do a body cleanse for 9 days? Are you familiar with the product?
Thanks, Fred

Mr. LowBodyFat said...


Thanks for your comment. I haven not come across any specific workout routine (aerobic or anaerobic) that targets saggy skin specifically. However, I will say that to build muscle, it's better to follow a routine that stresses compound exercises (e.g., bodyweight dips) versus the typical isolation exercises (e.g., bicep curls). Yes, the muscle will help to fill the skin out so it won't sag as much.

As far as nutrition is concerned, I feel the same way. I can't confidently say that if you eat this type of food, it helps with saggy skin. What I can say is that if you concentrate on a diet full of nutrient rich whole foods, then this will help your skin restore itself to a certain degree.

This has been my experience anyway. I hope this helps ...

Mr. LowBodyFat said...

Hello Amy & Dale; thanks for leaving me a comment/question. Yes, I'm familiar with Isagenix, but I've never tried it before, and, to be honest with you, I don't have an opinion one way or the other about the product. As far as liquid cleansing fasts are concerned, I've known some people who do them at the beginning of a diet to help clean them out, of course, and prepare them for eating less food.

Before trying the product, do your research and be sure to try and find folks who have had negative and positive experiences using this product. You may find that the person is exaggerating his/her claims, but at least you have two sides of the story to decide for youself.

If you do decide to follow Isagenix, could you come back and let us know how your 9 days went and why you would or would not recommend the product?

Thanks guys and please keep us posted . . .

Dale & Amy said...

Sure, I would be happy to tell you about my experience with Isagenix when I finish the program. It has been amazing for me thus far.

Kasey said...

Thanks for the advice. Again I'm sorry for nagging the excess skin issue.

Mr. LowBodyFat said...

Dale, I would really appreciate you reporting back because I believe that many paths takes us to the same destination. Thanks, and I look forward to hearing how it went for you. Talk to you soon . . .

Mr. LowBodyFat said...


Don't worry because I fully understand your concern. Hey, my skin has come back much more than I ever imagined it would, BUT am I satisfied? (of course not) Do I still go to the mirror and grab my stubborn lower ab fat that's still there? (Yep, I still do!) Even after losing so much weight, am I still impatient sometimes about my loose skin? (You better believe it)

So, Kasey, you're far from being alone on this issue ;)

Wyan said...

Hey Muata,

I lucked up and saw your blog on the internet a few weeks ago. I started reading it from the beginning and went back and reread it so I am just getting to this point. Do you or did you use a calorie/carb counter from the internet and if so do you recommend one in particular or did you go out and buy a book? I am a great believer in using the internet and I have looked at a few counters. I retired from the USAF so I know the KISS method well although we had a different word for the last letter, lol. So if you know of a simple one please let me know. I will fill you in time on a little info about me. this blog is what was needed so long ago. I have some friends that I am trying to get to at least read it. We are all in the 45 or over category and some of are getting pretty stationary and the weight has followed them. Great info! Big UPS to you. Wyan (Juan)