Lost some weight doing HCG or some other very low calorie diet and now put on fat just looking at food? Your metabolism might be broken. Let's fix it...
Every time I see someone promoting a VLCD (Very Low Calorie Diet) as a lifestyle diet I just want to slap them in the greedy little faces. We once promoted it. We tried it and lost weight. Then we slapped ourselves in the impatient faces when we finished the diet and found we would put on fat eating a f*(n salad.
So we got fat and blamed ourselves. "Low self control," we said.
Out came the whip of self loathing...
Jokes. We don't do that shit. We don't hate ourselves when we try something and fail!
That just doesn't help. Instead, we educate ourselves. Which is what I'm going to do here for you. Save you the 5 years of yo-yo dieting we went through...
first, let's quickly work out if your metabolism is running ineffectively...
Fill in the following form:
Scroll down to the bottom of the results, and you'll see the following table:
Your numbers will be different to the above ones, but whatever they are, you should be able to eat somewhere around this many calories every single day, without gaining or losing weight.
If your look at your calculated calories and think, "no way can I eat that much," then your metabolism could be broken. So read on...
If you have no idea how much food that is, then get on over to the App MyFitnessPal (it's free) and log your day's food. Compare it to the numbers above and see where you're at.
We just calculated what is called your "maintenance" calories. Every time you eat less than your maintenance calories, your body responds by dropping or slowing non essential processes, like reproduction, hair growth, muscle growth etc.
The most important thing for dieters is to be patient, diet as close to maintenance as you can, so you avoid any of the following:
After years of fucking up my metabolism with the diet/binge roller coaster yo-yo, I just thought the feelings I had meant I was getting old. But since I fixed up my metabolism, I found that most of the problems I had were just little odd jobs my body was putting aside until the calories came rolling back in.
So if you have been doing the same diet-binge-diet-binge yoyo for a while, you'll most likely feel like shit. I can tell you that once you correct your metabolism, you'll experience some or all of the following:
imagine being able to eat so much more food that you never feel hungry, and still lose weight? It is possible. It's why top fitness models can stay lean year round. Read on to find out how you can too...
Alright, you know your metabolism is stuffed and you'd like to eat way more without becoming Jabba the Hut, so let's do it, in 3 easy weeks.
go back up and see what your maintenance calories are. Eat at or above your maintenance calories to give your body the signal that the famine has ended. Good times are here and they're here to stay.
Make sure you eat early and don't skip meals. Don't let yourself feel hungry ever during the 2 weeks.
*It's not a free for all junk fest. In this 2 weeks, ensure you eat a wide variety of fresh fruit and vegetables as well as meat. Try to steer clear of addictive foods or over processed foods. The additives in them can mess with your metabolism dramatically. So stick to eating a healthy balanced diet, and making sure you eat a lot of it.
You WILL gain weight. But that's not because this process isn't working, its because the diets you've been doing have broken your metabolism. Your body needs to regenerate organ tissue, blood, hair, brain matter and all the other things it's been putting off for so long. The weight gain won't be only fat, it will be necessary weight.
Spend 3 weeks getting it back and you'll be set to lose fat on more calories than you can currently stomach.
For the third week, drop calories below maintenance, but no more than say a 500 calorie per day deficit, otherwise you risk undoing your good work.
It's actually really healthy to eat just a bit less than maintenance.
I'm sure you would have noticed people talk about carb cycling. Carb cycling done right will prevent the downregulation of your metabolism, and in most cases, force upregulation - you can eat more and still lose fat.
There are two ways you can do this.
Two ways to carb cycle:
The first method is a fixed diet plan - 2 days low carb/low cal and 1 day high carb/high cal. Or something like this. But we're not a fan of "one size fits all" dieting, so we prefer a tailored approach, specific to you.
Doing this may seem a little more work, but you'll benefit by being responsible for your own results. Something most people don't want to do. It's important to remember though, you have no vested interest in your diet other than your own success.
Firstly, buy from the chemist something called Ketostix - you put them in your pee and they will tell you if your body is producing ketones.
Ketones in the blood mean that you are burning fat, yes, but this is because you have run out of useable carbohydrates.
This is the alarm bell for your body to downregulate non-essential processes, the result being homeostasis, but for you, the dieter, that means a plateau. To lose weight, you'll need to then diet harder. You’ll eat even less and the down regulation happens again.
Worse still, if you go back to your original maintenance calories, your body will take a bit of time to upregulate - the excess calories consumed will be stored as fat.
This is the diet trap most people find themselves in - their bodies have become efficient. Only using consumed energy for essential processes - storing the rest for better times.
But remember that efficient doesn't mean healthy. A lot of processes are just not getting any energy and therefore not working. If you have been dieting on and off for a few years, I'd suggest first taking about 2 weeks of eating LOTS of NUTRITIOUS food. Not a junk fest, but eating LOTS.
What is important is that there is a bit of lag between states - diet hard and a few days later, the process is downregulated. Eat lots and a few days later the processes are upregulated - business as normal.
So keep checking your ketone levels - normal is zero. You're not meant to have ketones. Ketones are a survival mechanism. For a week, check them 2 or 3 times a day (don't worry ketostix are really affordable). Try and see how long it takes you, while dieting, to produce ketones.
AS SOON AS YOU SEE A CHANGE, you need to eat carbs.
But not just any carbs - carbs that have glucose, not fructose. Remember that fructose doesn't affect the hormones the way you want them to. Now, how many grams of carbohydrate is up to you.
The severity of upregulation depends on the type and quantity of carbs consumed. Eating high glucose, high GI carbs will force upregulation nearly straight away. You'll notice this on your ketostix.
Another great indicator that you have upregulated is that you poo lots. Your body believes food is in surplus so flushes out the excess (the opposite happens when you’re restricting calories).
I start the carb refeed by eating bananas. I know there is a little fructose in them, but the greener, the more glucose. AND bananas have so many other health benefits. I blend 2 bananas with a tablespoon of cacao powder, wait 20 minutes and see if that has changed my ketone levels.
If not, I will have a bowl of oats with rice malt syrup, water and a protein powder (I add the protein because one of the benefits of high GI carbs is insulin, which promotes better storage - I want my body to take up the protein.).
Realistically, you can eat any high GI carb you want, I know some people who eat lollies (candy). Some would argue that they are better for upregulation, since they are mostly glucose.
High GI carbs can make you hungry as hell too. You don't want a carb load to become an all day feeding frenzy. So choose your carbs wisely. I don't like grains, sugar or dairy, so I stay off them as a blanket rule for overall health reasons. I choose carbs that will carry an ancillary benefit, like sweet potato, pumpkin, quinoa - they give you that full gut feeling, psychological break and good nutrition.
You can feel like you've come off your diet, but not blown it. I also like to make banana bread with banana flour. It's a resistant starch - really good for you and for digestion.
As soon as you're finished the workout, have your carb feed - this will ensure that the carbs you do eat are taken up by the muscles and the liver - not converted to fat.
Test your ketones and add more carbs until ketone levels are 0 again. As you progress, your metabolism will lift and you will be able to eat quite a lot of carbs, which is very exciting!
This is a very confusing thing for people, but it's actually very, very simple. Just eat AT LEAST the difference between your diet calories and your maintenance. So if you are dieting at 500kCal less than maintenance, then eat at least 500kCal of carbs for your refeed meal.
maintenance cal - diet cal = refeed cal (at least)
It's that simple.
If you’re restricting calories, especially if you’re restricting carbs, big workouts just don’t have the same punch - so I program the biggest workouts (squats) for carb day.
The night of carb load, try to put the carbs to use - doing legs at the gym is best I find. Nothing upregulates metabolism like heavy squats. I used squats every third day to gain muscle, but keep fat low.
Do conditioning (HIIT) workouts 2 to 5 times a week and remind your body that it needs to keep muscle tissue by strength training in the gym at least one night a week.
Better cardiovascular fitness is essential to slowing the severity of downregulation.
But, I would avoid traditional cardio (like running or cycling etc) anything above say 20 minutes will force your body to become more efficient so that it can stay in homeostasis (sounds counterintuitive, but think about it for a bit longer…).
walking is a great exercise for fat loss without any downregulation, or muscle loss.
You should be able to last about 2 days between carb refeeds. Initially this may be less. If you can't last this long, then you need to increase daily calories by bumping up carbs and/or fat.
Some people like to do a depletion day (or a few). This means continuing with low carb/low cal for a few days once you’re producing ketones. This is OK if you can still train at intensity, some people are good with ketones, some not.
It has been proven that when in ketosis, we consume 60% protein and only 40% fat. You can reduce this through strength training, but I just don’t like those numbers.
Carb cycling properly will actually increase your maintenance metabolism higher than it was before. Your body will essentially be allowed to do more stuff (which in turn means you will be healthier) and the big plus is that you get to eat way more than you are right now, while still losing body fat.
That's the holy grail of dieting right there!
You see, when you take all of these things together, it’s so much more than being “fat” or being “thin”. Fat or thin are a small part. But fat or thin (or fit) are important, because like the iceberg, they are usually all that we can see - and give a pretty clear picture of what is going on under the surface.
"My baby feels like a big creamy doughnut..." I'd say. My baby liked doughnuts. Nearly every day. Then he came out. And I was still eating doughnuts.
I stopped breastfeeding and was still eating doughnuts...
It took me that long to realise that maybe it was just my fat ass that felt like eating doughnuts.
Back then, we didn’t have “squatters arse” to hide behind. If you had a fat arse (which I certainly did) it was because you had a fat arse. You couldn’t pretend you’d been doing squats your whole life.
I hated my arse. In fact I hated everything. My outlook on life was fat on every level there was.
I can remember my teenage son avoiding eye contact with me so that I wouldn’t go off at him. That was when he was around. That poor boy avoided home… I barely saw him, and when I did, I just unloaded all my anger on him. Everything he had done or hadn’t done became bones of contention I’d carry around all day (with my packet of biscuits) so I could use them on his “arrogant teenage attitude.”
Julius has a mate Aaron who has 4 kids, and I laughed when he told me how Aaron said one day that going home after work was scary.
“It’s like having a monster in the house. The closer to home I get, the more anxious I get. By the time I get home I'm on edge. I sneak inside nervous about what mood she is in, and what part of the house she is in.”
I laugh now, but that monster was me.
My husband would avoid me because he didn’t want to fight, but I saw it as he didn’t care about me. So when I saw him I'd just be even more angry. Angry at myself for eating so much, for hurting and for yelling at him yesterday. So angry that I’d just scream at him again.
I blamed hormones, I blamed him, I blamed pregnancy, I turned against everything but myself. Because I was the victim. I was the one that this pregnancy was happening to.
Then the children were born and my behaviour had become habitual.
I blamed breastfeeding and lack of sleep. I blamed having too many children and not enough money. These were all real things, and to me they were valid. But they just amplified the truth underneath.
…and the behaviour continued.
I got pregnant again. The cycle repeated for 3 pregnancies and then one day I decided that enough was enough. The house only ever saw joy when I was asleep. My husband didn’t want to come near me, my children were scared of me and I hated myself.
How could this have happened? Was I always this much of a bitch?
I remember having fun. Being fun. It was as if I had forgotten how to have fun. And when I thought about having fun, I just felt sad. “You’re a mum. You’re pregnant again. You’ve got bills and stress and… It’s all just too hard… you need to take this seriously Sharny.”
And there it was.
I knew that to be good at anything, I had to take it seriously.
But did I need to be so serious?
To take something seriously, do you need to be serious?
To take something seriously, do you need to be serious? #pregfit
In my pursuit to be a good mother, I had taken serious to a whole other level - I had become an aggressive dictator.
I realised then and there that I could take mothering seriously and have fun at the same time. I’m in the fitness industry. I’m surrounded by and working with world class athletes all day. They take their sport seriously. But they also have fun.
In fact, I’d go so far as to say that to be at their best, a professional athlete needs to be having fun. Being in the zone, feeling it. Being in that state of perfection requires you to take your job seriously, but to do it with love, and to have fun.
See, not once was body fat the real issue. Fat and Fit are my language, the language I speak. I’m in the fitness industry. PregFAT was not about body shape, it was about being a monster, while believing I was the victim.
#PregFAT was not about body shape, it was about being a monster, while believing I was the victim.
Sure, I had put on 30kg, but what I looked like on the outside was just indicative of what I felt like on the inside.
And when I changed my inside, not only did my body change… my whole world changed.
I get emotional when I see another pregFAT mum. I can see myself in her and I just wish I could reach out and hug her and tell her “you’re not a monster…”
Think of it like this.
Does the butterfly see herself as a monster because she is no longer a caterpillar?
Pregnancy and birth are a complete transformation. From beautiful girl to beautiful woman. See, it’s not just the baby that gets born. The girl is reborn, transformed. The girl becomes a woman.
All I did to go from pregFAT to pregFIT was to see myself for what I had become. I wasn’t a deformed caterpillar, I was a perfect, beautiful, magnificent butterfly.
“I am pregFIT”
It’s literally that easy.
Say it out loud.
Once you see yourself as pregFIT, you’ll be pregFIT. You’ll do pregFIT things.
You’ll eat to support your pregFIT body, which will become stronger because it supports your pregFIT mind… You’ll love the people around you. and you’ll love yourself.
When I finally transformed, I felt as though I had been given a gift. A second chance at life. I was so lucky that I changed when I did. If I’d kept going the way I was, I would have caused irreparable damage.
the journey from pregFAT to pregFIT is so exciting and so individual and personal for each mum. If I could wish for anything it would be that every mother gets the chance to experience a pregFIT pregnancy once in their lives.
Your journey, your transformation starts within. The joys of which will fill an entire book. I sat down to write my journey down one day and it ended up becoming a book.
Women have read my book and felt inspired by it and began their own transformations.
The love and joy I get from them on a daily basis literally floods me with happiness.
If you’re pregnant now, I URGE you to get the book for yourself. It’s not a long read and I promise you that you’ll be a different person by the time you’ve finished reading it.
You’ll be pregFIT. But to be it, you've got to believe it's possible, then see that it's possible for you. That's what the book does. You deserve to know.
PregFAT is a product of fear. Fear of doing something wrong. Fear of hurting your baby. Fear of being judged as a bad mother.
PregFIT needs to be born from courage. Know and BELIEVE that it is all inside you and you have all the tools and all the knowledge you need to do the right thing by your baby.
Your baby chose you for a reason. They believe in you so much, that they put their entire life on the line. They gave you total control. Now you need to stop giving away that control to your fears. To someone else.
That picture I started the whole post with... that's me. That's how I feel and that's how I am.
I am physically and mentally fit. I am emotionally stable and optimistic. Internally and externally healthy. People tell me I am exuding vitality and they are right!
I'm spiritually connected to my baby, my husband and 5 children. I'm connected to myself, which is something I never knew I had been avoiding.
I'm self confident and I'm just in LOVE!
I made a whole infographic on the changes I've seen in myself. Below you'll see them, and the ones I've listed are the most remarkable ones. So many little things have changed for the better, but I'll leave them for you to discover for yourself in your journey.
The choice is truly yours.
All my love
In part 1 of How To Make Your Perfect Meal Plan, we calculated your diet calories, and your macros. Now we're going to turn that into something you can actually eat!
To recap, we ended up part 1 of the meal plan creation process with something that looks like this:
It is essential that you have your calories and macros calculated. If you haven't got them done, head back to part 1 of How To Make The Perfect Meal Plan. If you've got it, then let's move on!
We've been using MyFitnessPal for over a year, and we've found nothing else that compares to it's ease of use for tracking food and (for us) creating meal plans.
MyFitnessPal tracks your calories and macros for every food that you input. You can put meals in or you can put individual ingredients in or even just scan the barcode on packaged foods. MyFitnessPal automagically inputs the calories and macros in for you!
Open MyFitnessPal and click "More"
Click "Calorie and Macronutrient Goals"
Change your calories by clicking the number
change your macros by clicking any of the percentages
click this link to open MyFitnessPal to the customisation page (make sure you're logged in first) - this will open a new tab for you so you can stay here too.
Once you're in, change your calories to your diet calories (1), then your macro ratios (2). Then click "Change Goals" to save your customised goals.
Now that you have your calories and macros in MyFitnessPal, you just have to add in your meals that you want to eat. This is where you can get creative. Eat whatever you want, but make sure that the daily calories and macros match your goals.
In the example above, I used a Big Mac Combo. That was on purpose. You can literally eat anything you want, as long as it fits within your macros, and your body composition goals will be attained. You'll be shredded to the bone...
You may not be healthy. You'll look like a magazine model, but you'll feel like shit.
You'll look like a magazine model, but you'll feel like shit.
Once you've got your ideal meal plan, just swap out ingredients for healthier ones. Keep going until you've got a plan that is delicious, filling, healthy and sustainable.
We like to make our meal plans so filling that you'll literally struggle to finish them, and so nutritious that you, like Jamie, will feel 10 years younger.
Bread and vegetables both fall into the carbohydrate category. Swap bread for vegetables and you'll increase the volume of your feed dramatically, and the nutritional benefits will go through the roof!
That's a pretty obvious example, but here's one that you may not have thought of:
Print that out and stick it on your fridge! (or you can just repin it!)
There are plenty of little calories saving food volumisers you can use and we recommend.
If you'd like us to calculate your calorie and macro needs, and create a meal plan that's customised just for you... your goals, your body, your food likes and dislikes, then click here to order yours now:
We love making meal plans, so click the link above if you want one for you.
Want the perfect meal plan for your goals? If you want to know what successful bodybuilders and fitness models do, read on...
We're really, really proud of our meal plans. If you have been lucky enough to have got one, you'll know why. Nowhere else will you get a comprehensive, fully customised 40-50 page document all about you.
How much fat you want to lose, how long it will take, how many meals to eat, what meals to eat and recipes for every single meal.
If you keep missing out, or you want to do it yourself, or you want to learn about how we create the perfect meal plan, read on.
The first thing we need to do is to find out about you. We need to know where you are now, and where you want to get. The meal plan is the bridge between the two. We calculate the difference between you now and you at your goal.
where you are
we fill in the steps in between
want to be
we do this using a document we call the meal plan questionnaire. You can download a copy for yourself here
We calculate your maintenance calories using one of two equations, then multiply it by an activity factor based on your exercise as well as your job/lifestyle.
We can use this method to estimate how much you could eat every day without gaining or losing weight.
We work out how much body fat you need to lose in kg.
Note: Each kilo of fat contains 9,000 calories worth of energy.
Knowing how much fat you'd like to lose, we then divide it by how many days you're wanting to diet for.
For example, 10kg in 18weeks (126 days):
9,000 x 10 = 90,000 calories to burn to lose 10kg
90,000 ÷ 126 days = 714 calories per day deficit
having calculated the deficit required for the time frame wanted, we just subtract it from your maintenance calories to get your diet calories. Or how much you can eat per day!
eg. Maintenance of 2,000 and deficit of 700
diet calories = 2,000 - 700 = 1,300
Let's say you've worked out that you need to have 1,500 calories of food per day to reach your goal in the timeframe you want. What do you eat?
In a very basic sense, we divide the calories into proteins, fats and carbohydrates:
As you can see, carbs and protein give the body the same amount of energy, but fat gives the body more than double. To find out your optimal macros, we start with protein.
What we do is calculate, based on your activity, how many grams of protein per day you need. For universality we map it to your lean muscle mass (how much you'd weigh with NO fat at all).
Your optimal protein will be somewhere between 1g per kg of lean muscle mass and 3g per kg of lean muscle mass. Put simply, the more gym time you have, the more protein you'll need. If you have no idea, start with 1g per kg.
We then do exactly the same thing with fats. The optimal fats are actually different from proteins though, since the body has different requirements for them.
Your optimal fat will be somewhere between 0.5g per kg of lean muscle mass and 2g per kg of lean muscle mass. This is gender specific. Women need less fats than men. If you're a woman, start at the bottom end. If you're a man, start at around 1g.
We previously showed you that protein has 4 calories per gram. Fats have 9 calories per gram and carbs have 4 calories per gram.
All you do is:
This will give you a number of grams of carbs you can eat each day.
Pretty simple, right?
Here's an example directly from one of our meal plans:
Let us do all the work for you! We can do all of your calculations for you and create a meal plan you'll love, based on the foods that you like!
Jamie Milne is the epitome of commitment.
He's run the length of the South Island in New Zealand, he's run the length of Scotland, Cairns to Townsville, The length of the North Island in New Zealand and most recently got the world record for burpees.
He's also recently won a crossfit competition and is currently training for his latest expression of fitness enthusiasm and charity. He's running around Tasmania.
Having come from a Crossfit background, Jamie has been immersed in Paleo eating for nearly 10 years. When he called me one day to ask me if we could do one of these "flash new meal plans" for him, I wasn't surprised.
See, we too were paleo aficionados before we discovered and wrote about the Math diet. You could say that we still are. With the exception of oats, rice and my supplement fetish, our house is pretty much paleo.
But like Jamie, we had become frustrated by the lack of results we had gotten from Paleo. It helps you lose weight, for sure. But how much is unknown, and when it will stop is unknown.
Another drawback is that because nothing is measured, we were eating way too much fat, and way too few carbs. Performance in all our sports was lacking. As Jamie puts it, it was like running a sports car on diesel. With a non analytical, non mathematical diet, you simply can't extract the full potential from your body.
So it was with great excitement that I hit send on his meal plan and waited to hear from him...
I didn't have to wait long.
2 days later, I got another message from him... We have our own coarse language, so I've cut out the top half of his message....
As you can tell, he loved the meal plan we made for him...
I asked him if I could interview him, and in typical Jamie response he asked if I could meet him at 4am outside a toilet block half an hour from where I live. "Bring coffee," he said.
When I got there, nobody was around. Which is to be expected, since it was 4AM on a Tuesday morning and it was raining. It wasn't long until our hero arrived though. Like an apparition, he appeared through the darkness.
He was running.
"Of course!" I said to Alexis who was my co-conspirator on this cold and wet morning.
I was so surprised that I had forgotten to hit the record button when I asked him where he's run from.
"Home," he said nonchalantly.
"b-but Jamie, that's over 40k away."
"yeah," he replied as he took the coffee from me.
At the top of this page is the recording of the interview. It didn't go for long, and I might do another one with him in the future, but being a dad, husband and full time worker, Jamie didn't have much time to sit and chat...
He had the 40k to get back home before his 3 year old son woke up.
We put the same amount of love into our meal plans for everybody. We don't hand them off to a shitkicker to do. You get us, Sharny and/or Julius and nobody else. If you'd like to get a meal plan as EPIC as Jamie's, then click here:
to find out more about Jamie, head to his website Jamie Milne Training.Continue reading