Natural Bodybuilding Fat Loss Diet With Ben Hartman

How does a natural athlete lose without drugs? What type of fat loss diet does he use? Read on.

Q:Can you start out by explaining your general nutrition theories for dieting clients? Take us through your thoughts process when you first work with a client. Do you look at their body type first?

A:First off, let me clarify that I’m not a dietician, and as such, I do not write diets. In most states, anyone who is not a licensed dietician who is writing customized diets based on assessment is technically breaking the law. You don’t see people prescribing physical therapy without a license, and yet every personal trainer or average Joe who does one show starts writing diets for their clients, friends, etc.

That being said, what I like to do when people approach me is make suggestions based on research and experience. I first look at their physique and analyze their training routine, cardio, schedule, etc. and make sure that they are training optimally given their situation. Second, I look at their current eating habits and make suggestions for ways they can improve. As prep move along, we discuss ways to create a greater caloric deficit, whether that be adding cardio or reducing calories, and I make recommendations on where the best places to skim calories might be, such as late night and/or away from their workouts. Finally, as things progress, I’ll recommend calorie cycling and possibly refeeds if their progress has stalled.

As for my general nutrition theories are, I believe in high protein (but not ridiculously high), and the rest of calories split between carbs and fats (obviously), with more carbs for those who can tolerate them or who are more active and more fats for people with more sedentary lifestyles or carb intolerance.

Whether a person uses a low fat diet, low carb keto diet, mixed diet, carb cycling, refeeds, steady calories, etc. ultimately takes a back seat to consistency and a steady decline in calories over time to make sure fat loss keeps progressing as the metabolism gradually adjusts downwards. I always recommend some sort of cycle or refeed, and rarely recommend full cheat meals in certain situations where someone is extremely depleted and worn down, both metabolically and mentally.

Q:I want to get your thoughts on the quality of carbohydrate consumed when dieting. Traditional bodybuilding knowledge says you have to eat oats, brown rice and sweet potatoes. My contention is that as long as you adhere to your macronutrient numbers every day, that you can have more freedom. Of course I’m not going to recommend candy but I’m not going to restrict clients from certain foods. Your thoughts?

A:I don’t buy into the dogma that bodybuilders have to eat brown rice all day to get shredded. I do recommend that more wholesome carbs be the cornerstone of a person’s carb intake, but ultimately it won’t matter if one meal every now and then consists of pop-tarts vs. sweet potato….you can’t break the law of thermodynamics.

As long as a majority of the macronutrient sources facilitate muscle building and fat loss then I see no problem switching out sources from time to time. I often give myself certain options of carbohydrate foods that all fall within similar macronutrient and especially caloric ranges and swap them interchangeably for a majority of my prep. Only at the tail end of a prep do I think that micromanaging comes into play to strip the last bit of fat off a person. Anything before that is splitting hairs. I once read a quote that said “People often skip the dollars to pick up the pennies”, and I think that suits the mentality of a lot of people in this industry perfectly. They obsess over the minutia and try to be 100% perfect but then breakdown and cheat eventually, only being perfect 80% of the time, when they could’ve made better progress being 95% perfect 100% of the time, if that makes sense. I know guys who obsess over the one gram of sugar alcohols in a piece of gum metabolizing differently than the 1g carbs found in a celery stick. That’s obsurd.

Q:Do calories matter? I think people get so caught up in eating X calories instead of looking at their macronutrient math that they end up wrecking themselves without trying. Sure, we must weigh, measure and track our foods but do we have to follow cookie cutter 2500 calorie diets?

A:Being in the nutrition and fitness fields, I often hear people say things like “calorie counting doesn’t work”. My thoughts are, you might not count calories, but your body sure does.

That being said, a calorie is not always a calorie, and simply hitting a caloric allotment but ignoring macronutrient ratios and food quality is worse than worrying about specific macronutrient ratios, timing, quality, etc. and less about calories. A person’s best bet is to focus on both but not to the exclusion of the other and not to the point of obsessive compulsion.

If you pick the right proportions of macronutrients and time then properly, and follow that consistently, then you ultimately don’t have to count calories. If you aren’t growing, add more, and if you aren’t getting leaner, remove some fuel sources while leaving protein constant. Consistency is key.

Q:Some people like post workout shakes and others like meals. I personally like meals since when dieting, food is so restrict anyway and I want to feel full for longer. Do you recommend a post workout dextrose or waxy maize based shake when dieting or a solid meal?

A:When dieting I absolutely like solid food over shakes for satiety and the mental connection with actually chewing and savoring your food can provide, but I don’t adhere to the myth that solid food magically burns a significant about of energy over shakes or metabolizes better or makes a person grow more. There is evidence regarding whey protein that shows it has just as much satiety and thermogenic effect as an equal amount of solid food.

During the offseason, I always recommend a shake post-workout if the pre-workout meal was eaten several hours prior. But if you eat a meal 1-2 hours pre-workout, then those nutrients are still circulating and available in the post-workout period, so as long as you follow adequate pre and during-workout nutrition (such as BCAA ingestion), then a good solid meal post-workout is just fine. There’s nothing like coming home from the gym and having a nice steak and sweet potato with a salad, just make sure you have some whey and/or BCAA a little bit earlier.

What’s the first thing two or three words that comes to your mind when you hear…

Carbohydrates aren’t the enemy when dieting right

Agreed, but it depends on the person’s unique metabolism

Do you prefer refeed days based around carbohydrates or a “cheat” meal when dieting

Refeed days most definitely

Best supplements to use when dieting

Creatine monohydrate – maintains ATP for gym strength and muscular fullness via intracellular water retention, especially when carbohydrate content drops and body water drops with it.

BCAA – stimulus of muscle protein synthesis, prevention of muscle catabolism during periods of starvation (or extreme dieting)

Fish oil – maintain the minimum amount of essential fats to allow you to reduce calories without worrying about meeting the minimums

Thermogenic supplements, such as caffeine, ephedrine, yohimbine, etc. – stimulating lipolysis (you lose fat) via adrenergic stimulation to enhance and increase beta oxidation

Coming tomorrow, the Ben HartMan Muscle Gaining interview

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