Reverse Pyramid Training- Make Your Reps Count

I’m about to recommend the exact opposite of what 90% of fitness professionals recommend, but many consider my advice the best way to lift. This little nugget of info is a training style called reverse pyramid training. 

In reverse pyramid training, or RPT for short, you take the conventional approach to reps and sets and flip it on its head! 

This style was popularized by the kings of effective, efficient, and strength-focused workouts designed to enhance your physique: Martin Berkhan of Leangains, Greg O’Gallagher of Kinobody, Michael Mathews of Muscle For Life, and Radu Antoiu of Think Eat Lift.

Instead of starting with a set of, say 10 reps, and working down to a set of 4, gradually increasing weight…

… we will start with a set of 4 with the heaviest weight possible and work up to 10 reps, gradually decreasing weight.

In this post I will give you four reasons why you why you should use RPT and how exactly to implement it in your routine.


Reason 1) Lifting the heaviest weight you can while you’re still fresh

The primary driver of muscle growth is progressive tension overload. Basically, that is the ability to lift more and more weights over time, aka getting stronger.

Get stronger, and you will have bigger muscles. Period.

That said, you want to focus on a weightlifting routine that emphasizes strength gains. In standard pyramid-style lifting, a lifter completes a number of sets with increasing weight before starting the most important set- the ‘heavy set’.

When they get to the heavy set, they are fatigued from all the other sets. The fatigue limits their force-output and doesn’t allow the lifter to lift to their full potential.

In RPT, however, the lifter hits their heavy set first (after a warmup specific to the muscle group, of course). This allows them to lift to their fullest capacity and focus solely on adding more weight to the bar, which in turn will lead to muscle growth.

Reason 2) Built-in Periodization

I’ve touched on the necessity for periodization here, and I don’t want to rehash it now. But to reiterate what I said about RPT in that post:

RPT is a form of periodization called concurrent periodization. In this, a set of each exercise is done in the different rep ranges attributed to a different type of stimulus.

You will use a rep range of 4-6 for a strength-focused set, 6-8 as a hybrid set, and 8-10 for hypertrophy (pump)- focused set, and 10+ for muscular endurance.

This prevents “de-training”, or the loss of the adaptation you made in one phase (i.e. a hypertrophy phase) when you start making gains in another (i.e. a strength phase).

Another way of saying this is that you can make gains in all areas (strength, hypertrophy, endurance, etc.) at once.

Reason 3) The heavy set will allow you to make the most of the subsequent sets

The heavy set will be very intense and you will be trying to move the weight by all means (within the limits of proper form). This will force your body to use all the muscle fibers, local neurons, and central nervous system to get the job done.

After the taxing first set, your body will still be using all the muscle fibers and nerves that is called upon in the first set.

This is a stark contrast to what happens in regular pyramid training… your body is blasé blasé about the first few sets and you get very little out of it.

Reason 4) It is efficient on time

To get the muscle fiver activation and damage that induces the most adaptation via normal pyramid training you would have to do a multitude of sets just for the single impactful set. This is pretty time-consuming and it sucks.

With RPT, however, you hit that money-making set first thing. It’s done. It’s out-of-the-way. If you had to sprint out of the gym to tend to an emergency, your workout should still be considered a success.

The second set is pretty important just because you need the extra volume. The last set in RPT is just the cherry on top.

If you were pressed on time you could just stop at just two sets and still see results. The third set will just make your workout more phenomenal by giving you more pump.

Note that two sets isn’t ideal for muscle growth from a bulking perspective. But if you are trying to lose weight or want to get the best results for a minimal amount of time, it’s the way to go. (Read Fitness Advice for Busy Bureaucrats for more info on time-efficient and effective lifting.)

I digressed a bit here, but take away that the best way to lift in a time-efficient manner is to do RPT.


Sold on RPT yet? Good! This is how you do it:

  1. Warm up the muscle group you will be using. The key here is to prime your body for the lift without inducing fatigue. There’s no need to get hyper-analytical here; just try 5x 40% of heavy set weight, 5x 50%, and 3x 80%. Alternatively, try 5x 60%, 3x 75%, and 1x 90%, and see which one works better for you. Make sure that you focus on power in these warmups.
  2. The doing RPT for the first time, take your 5 RM (rep max) and use that for your first set. Aim for 4-6 reps.
  3. Rest for 3 minutes minimum. Take longer time if you need it, but 3 minutes should be enough rest without keeping you in the gym for too long.
  4. Decrease the weight by around 10% and perform 6-8 reps.
  5. Rest another 3 minutes.
  6. Decrease the weight by around 10% and perform 8-10 reps.
  7. rest another 3 minutes before continuing to your next exercise.

Simple enough, right?

Keep in mind that RPT is best suited for primary compound lifts. Think squats, deadlifts, bench press, weighted pull-ups, etc. Performing isolation exercises with RPT will be less effective than a straight set at 10 reps. High volume and low intensity suit isolation exercises better. Save RPT for the moneymaking exercises.

An immensely important part of RPT is to STOP BEFORE FAILURE and DON’T GRIND OUT REPS. RPT is an intense form of lifting. It can take a lot out of you if you don’t do it EXACTLY as I tell you. When you push lifts until failure your body can react by creating a state of overtraining, which will make your performance suffer. The same happens when you grind out a rep. Plus grinding reps is usually synonymous with shitty form, which is the reason for 75% of gym injuries. If you are only 50% sure you can perform the next rep, end the set.

Also, if you don’t know your 5 RM (or any RM for that matter) don’t worry. Just get under the bar at a weight you know will be a moderate challenge for 5 reps, get a spotter, and play it by ear. Better to go lower in weight than higher in weight to avoid injury.


That’s a wrap on what I have to say about RPT! I strongly encourage you to implement it in your routine. If you’d like help implementing it, or want a totally new and custom routine tailored to your exact goals, click here!

Comment below if you have any questions!

Share this post with anyone going about lifting in a suboptimal way. Spread this knowledge! You can be the person who gave them this catalyst to reach their dream physique 😉

 

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Fitness Advice for a Busy Bureaucrat (and other busy professionals)

So I’m writing this post on Fathers Day, and its fitting that my dad is the inspiration behind this. He’s a hard-working public servant (aka bureaucrat) that doesn’t have much time to devote to health and fitness, especially in the oft-extremest manner many other ‘experts’ would prescribe. With all the “no days off”, “go all in”, and “live in the gym” notions flying around, its pretty derailing when you can barely string together a continuous hour of free time.

I’m a little afraid too. When I have a 9-5, kids, a half-hour commute, and a house to maintain, will I have time to stay in shape? Will I have time to ensure I hit my macros and the gym?

Luckily, I have some tips to make getting (and staying) in shape a breeze, even for busy professionals and parents!


As we know by now, being in shape (in terms of physique) comes down to two things: hitting your macros and exercising the key muscle groups. Let’s break this thing down into two sections then.

Hitting Macros

There are many different strategies and foods to eat for health, but for manipulating body fat and weight they are all largely irrelevant.

If you eat at restaurants most of the time, then find the nutrition data of your favorite meals at those restaurants. Easy-peasy.

If you have meals cooked for you, and you don’t know the exact macros, check out my macro estimating guide. This comes in handy when you’re eating a home cooked meal from your spouse, at a restaurant with no nutrition data, or at that office party.

One tip: stick to simple food that you are used to eating. That makes eyeballing the amounts easier.

What if you don’t eat out every day, have someone to cook for you, or want to be as accurate as possible with your tracking?

Enter: meal prepping

For busy folks, meal prepping will be an easy way to ensure proper intake with minimal time. All you need is one day to cook for the entire week!

(Sorry, you may be giving up a Sunday. If it gives you an hour of rest during your hectic work days, is it worth it?)

Look at your plan for the next week, day by day, and think of recipes for each day.

You can get as simple or complex as you want. It will be easier to just make a week’s worth of baked chicken and potato wedges. Simply take your normal recipe and multiply it by however many meals it’ll take to hit your macros.

If you want to shake it up (and you should a little to diversify your micros), you can still do that in an easy way.

Literally just pick 4 different proteins/preparations, 4 different carbs sources/preparations, use a few different oils, and mix it all up!

For example: cook up some baked chicken breasts, pork loin, sautéed chicken and veggies, 93% lean ground beef scrambled with veggies, (lightly) fried potatoes, potato wedges, a sweet potato/large russet for baking, and brown rice. That yields 16 meal combos you can make, and you made it all on one day.

Depending on what you make, you can flash freeze, refrigerate, or even elect not to cook. For instance, I just prepare many of my recipes and keep in the fridge. Then when I want to cook it I save time by having preparation already done. This is actually my preferred way so that I eat a freshly cooked meal. It seems that the preparation is more burdensome than cooking, anyway.

 

For personalized help, click here!

 

Hitting the gym

I always preach the minimal effective dose for the gym. There’s always a law of diminishing returns, and that law comes to fruition when folks to a million sets of a billion reps with like 10 exercises for the same muscle group. You’d spend like a decade per day in the gym to complete this lift. You may have been led to think that this is the way to make any gains at all.

I usually advise to have lifts at an hour and a half, tops (including warm up, stretches, mobility, and extra rest time if needed) and I regularly finish 15 minutes before that limit. For a busy person, I bet you can cut that time in half! All you need to do is focus on the exercises that hit the muscle groups you want to develop.

To maintain an attractive and capable body, you only need a weekly rotation of 6 movements at a time.

For example a week’s workout could look like this:

(3 sets each with 3 minutes of rest, done RPT-style, excluding warmup sets)

Monday:  Weighted pull-ups , barbell rows
Wednesday: Squat, deadlift
Friday: Bench press, standing overhead press

Of course, this is lacking a lot of accessory exercises and a lot of volume for sarcoplasmic gains (read this article for more info on sarcoplasmic gains, and when and how to add volume). Your physique won’t be optimized per se, but you will build/maintain a solid foundation of strength and lean muscle mass. If your body fat is low enough, you will see great muscle definition and

This super-minimalist routine will provide a good starting point if you find a way to free up more time in your day.

Don’t spend any time in the gym doing stretching and mobility work aside from a quick cool down. Rather, use stretching and mobility to get your blood flowing during work and when you’re at home. Pepper it in those random ~5 minute breaks you have throughout the day. You know, those breaks that are somewhat annoying because there isn’t enough time to get anything done or truly relax. That way you can truly optimize your minutes instead of sitting in limbo.

I don’t have many specific recommendations for what to stretch other than to stretch what feels tight; however, I highly recommend for every one hour seated, spend one minute in a deep hip flexor stretch for each side. I mean DEEP.

Humans aren’t supposed to sit for 8 hours a day, and doing so leads to tight and weak hip flexors that will wreak havoc on your power output, mobility, and physique.

Lastly, for cardio, simply consider walking. An hour of brisk walking can burn 400 calories for an average-built man. Walking can be a substitute for a taxi ride, can be capitalized on during your commute, and already occurs when you get groceries or walk your dog.

Walking is also so low-intensity that you can stack activities with it. For instance, you can have a long phone call as you stroll around your building. You can listen to an audiobook as you walk to and from work. Heck, you can even break open the pocketbook for a treadmill desk so you can work regularly whilst walking!


There you have it, you big-time moneymakers! Getting in shape in a time-starved schedule takes some adjusting and some rounded corners, but it can be done. Don’t let anyone convince you that you need to spend 2 hours in the gym or to spend all your downtime over a stove.

For nutrition, you will front load the work for the entire week and use some eyeballing strategies to hit your macros.

For lifting, you will focus on 6 key lifts that most of my advice, recommended programs, and programs in development are predicated on anyway. You will just miss out on the icing on the cake.

Your will sprinkle in stretching and mobility work throughout your day as you see fit. Be sure to get 1 minute of a deep hip flexor stretch (each side) for every hour of sitting.

Finally, integrate walking into your day and reap the benefits of stacking activities.

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Want to Lose Fat? Have a Strategy

We all know that when dieting, the number one factor of success is the calorie defecit.

That makes sticking to that deficit is the second most important factor. I, and every other person giving diet advice, will tell you to make the diet as easy to stick to as possible. After all, a ccalorie deficit is only effective if you are consistent.

Further, making the diet as easy as possible is important to engrain habits that helped you lose your weight into your lifestyle. This will make maintaining leanness effortless!

No more weight rebound! It will help you be part of the 2% of dieters that maintain their new bodies. You will also use those skills to do a lean bulk (aka bulking with minimal fat gain) if you so choose.

Unfortunately, most people want to do too much when they embark on their weight loss journey. Because of the hectic dogma-pushing nature of the fitness industry, people may get sucked in to low-carb, paleo, gluten-free, HIIT, 6 lifts per week, crossfit, steady state cardio for hours on end, and super low calories, all while snacking every 2 hours on bland rabbit food and boiled chicken. If you do this, your life will revolve around fitness. Paradoxically, there is a high probability you will end up in the 98% of dieters that gain all their weight back.

Unsustainable plans and burnout are the leading causes of failure in all ventures, not just fitness.

 

One HUGE factor for dietary adherence, for myself and many others, is the use of eating strategies that make a calorie deficit seem easy.

 

These eating strategies include meal setup, frequency, and “cheat days” aka refeeds. Today I want to share how I eat to make sticking to a diet and maintaining my success easy! 

 

(Note: I’m not a fan of the notion associated with cheat days. Throwing caution to the wind and eating whatever you want shouldn’t be a glorified aspect of dieting. In addition, the concept of cheating brings about a negative connotation that you may ascribe to the delicious food you eat that day. You should feel free to eat whatever you want on your regular dieting days as long as you understand three things:
“cheat” food may not satisfy you as well as “healthy” food,
“cheat” food may be physiologically harmful, and
“cheat” food may not offer a solid compliment of micronutrients.
That said, I do promote refeeds, which can be basically the same as cheat days, but with more accountability and no negative connotation of cheating.)

Main Factor: Intermittent Fasting

Practice intermittent fasting

Practice interment fasting

Practice intermittent fasting

At least try it. Give it an honest shot. I promise it will be worth it. If you give it a respectable try and after a month and a half you still don’t feel like it’s for you, then of course don’t do it. Just don’t be one of those folks that does if for three days and says, “Oh, I’m too hungry when I fast so this isn’t for me!”

Give yourself time to adapt and get rid of the psychological need to eat every few hours. If you need the myths about intermittent fasting shaken from your head, click here (shaken out with love! Sorry for coming on strong here but I strongly dislike the perpetuation of these myths).

There are many benefits to intermittent fasting that I, and many others reap. Those things are important for health in general, but when it comes to weight loss or maintenance, intermittent fasting is mainly a tool to push all your calories into the later part of the day. You get to eat bigger meals that leave you completely satisfied!

Never again will you have to eat a 500 calorie meal every three hours and try to convince yourself you’re full! The concept of eating 5-6 meals to ‘stoke the metabolic flame’ is a ton of bs anyway. In addition, 5-6 small meals has been shown to have no greater effect on appetite than normal or infrequent eating.

So, drink some black coffee or tea in the fast and eat big ass meals in the feast. You will have an easier time sticking to your calories because of it.

Secondary Factor: Macro/Meal Split

The way I distribute my macros within my meals is important, yet how exactly I do it is flexible. If that didn’t make sense, bear with me!

When I have a long day ahead of me and I’ve fasted as long as I can/should, I aim to break my fast with a lot of fiber and protein, minimal carbs, and only enough fat for the meal to not taste like crap. I aim to eat half to 75% of protein in the first meal, depending on what I predict dinner to have in store for me. I try to eat all my fibrous veggies in this meal too, but sometimes I’m compelled to have more in my later meals.

There are three reasons I do this. The first is that protein is the most satiating macro. When paired with fiber, it can keep you full for hours. This way, you can wait a long time for your second meal.

The second reason is to save my fats and carbs for later so that I may indulge in an unplanned treat. Most desserts are made up of fats and carbs, so save space in your macros for later! If you decide not to have dessert, you could always have more potatoes and butter!

The third reason is that carbs can act as sedatives. Even when you eat simple carbs, you have an energy crash not long after. Why eat carbs early in the day, when you might have more work to do? Save them for later when it’s time to relax! Eat most of your carbs a few hours before bed. This way you can give yourself the itis, which will help you sleep like a freakin rock.

Eating carbs later will also mean that you are doing something called carb-back training. There have been suggestion that eating all of your carbs after training has some performance and recovery benefits. Honestly I’ve never really looked into it because I’d inadvertently be doing carb-back training whether it worked or not. When thinking with the logic I’ve already presented it would make sense, right? If a carb can be a sedative, then don’t eat a lot before working out; if a carb promotes recovery, you probably want to eat it when you are actually recovering.

Don’t @ me with pitchforks just yet. I admit to not knowing that much about it. Lemme read up on it and make edits here later.

It’s worth noting that I don’t always follow this eating plan. I do this on days where I wake up early, work for a long time, and go to sleep rather late (aka college). When I get to sleep in, have an unregulated schedule, or have a special occasion that involves food, I may not follow this. Further, when I am in a solid workflow or I actually have to cook my meal, I may opt for a more flexible strategy.

For instance, I may have two meals of equal macro proportions when I cook for myself over the weekend. I may eat my carbs earlier to save my protein and fat for a trip to a Brazilian steakhouse for dinner (now accepting donations for my next BSH dinner).

The point is to follow a macro/meal splitup you enjoy and can stick to. If that means having a rigid macro split regardless of the day, then maybe that’s best for you. I prefer to have two plans for two types of days: one structured and one flexible.

I strongly encourage you to try my strategies out and experiment with your own.

Tertiary factor: Refeeds

Lastly, it is important to have regular refeeds. A refeed is a day where you purposefully overeat. Aim to take in more carbs, as carbs influence the hormone leptin, which in turn triggers fullness and increases metabolism.

In a calorie deficit, leptin levels will drop, but refeeds placed in proper intervals can greatly minimize this affect. If you are above 15% body fat, stick to one refeed a week. If you are between 10% and 15%, have two. If you are below 10%, have three.

One to three planned refers per week can have an insane effect on appetite for the following days. It can mean the difference between adherence and quitting a cut. If you have one refeed, put it on Friday or Saturday, depending on which day you lift. It’ll give you yet another reason to look forward to the weekend.

When you have two refeeds, put the other on Monday or Tuesday (again, whichever one you lift on).

When you have three refeeds, put one on each lift day. Having your refeeds on lift days will aid in recovery as well as keep you metabolism moving along. When doing three refeeds a week, you may even find yourself doing a recomp!


 

Well, there you have it! The most important factor is pushing your calories until later in the day with intermittent fasting. This will allow for large and satisfying meals and the freedom to eat at resturants and social gatherings.

Secondly, eating most of your protein (50-75%) and fiber with moderate amounts of fat and minimal carbs earlier in your feasting window will fill you up well enough to push your next meal later, free up your carbs and fat for potential treats later, and get your fiber done and over with (unless you want to eat more later to fill you up).

Eating carbs acts as a sedative. Even if you eat simple carbs, you will experience the energy crash that is associated with it. The sedative effect is best saved for the end of the day when all your work is done and it’s time to relax with friends, family, and/or Netflix. It can also help you get to sleep. Eating carbs later is also great for carb-back training, a technique to elicit some extra recovery from your workouts.

Include refeeds weekly to increase the satiety hormone leptin, aid in recovery from workouts, and ease the psychological and physiological burden of calorie deficit. Focus on eating carbs, as this macrontrient has the greatest effect on leptin. Position these refeeds as I described earlier.

Hopefully this helped you by giving you another tool to help you get and keep your new body! Even if you choose not to adopt this eating strategy, I hope it at least got you thinking about one that you will enjoy. At the very least, I hope this underscored the importance of having a strategy that is easy to stick to.

 

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How to Drink Alcohol and Stick to your Cut

A few days ago, I was sitting at Waffle House at 2 in the morning, trashed and acting a fool. My friends and I had just wrapped up our end-of-the-school-year bar crawl and had the drunches (the drunken munchies- an increase in appetite) like nothing else. As I ordered my go-to WaHo meal, I proclaimed that I wanted more food (understand that my normal WaHo meal is already quite large). A fellow macro-tracker chimed in with jest, “You’ve drank so many calories, and knowing you I bet you’ve eaten a lot today! How do you expect to fit this into your numbers?!” I wasn’t worried for a couple of reasons.

First, I followed my preferred eating strategy which comes in handy in situations like this. Second, I hold a pretty unique view of calories from alcohol.

In my drunken state it was near impossible to explain my view, but luckily I’m writing this blog post sober (well, started it sober). In this post I will tell you why I don’t track alcohol calories, why I don’t stress about a night of drinking ruining my fat loss/maintenance or health, why you shouldn’t either.,

I will also tell you two strategies I use to cut any worry of undoing my fat loss progress for the week. Let’s begin!

Hey Pink Panther, don’t look so blue! Alcohol isn’t as fattening as you’ve been told!

Alcohol: the second most fattening macro

Alcohol has the second-highest calorie density at 7 kcal/g. Fat, with 9 kcal/g, is the only higher macronutrient. So we should view it with the woe it deserves, right? If you have a shot of tequila that is 1 fl. oz., and 1 fl. oz. is about 30 grams, then that shot of tequila is 210 calories. I know your ass is having more than one, too. That’s a hefty price tag, is it not? I say no! In certain situations (that are made through after the protocol I’m about to present) you should not bother tracking alcohol calories.

Alcohol in the Body

Despite all the love we have for alcohol, we must remember that alcohol is toxic. Our body has a complex system in which alcohol is absorbed, broken down into an even more toxic molecule, acetaldehyde, gets rendered less harmful in the form of acetate, and finally excreted.

It is always excreted. Our body does not want to store any toxin, especially not one as volatile as alcohol. If alcohol is always excreted, then it cannot be stored as fat.

Key takeaway: alcohol cannot be stored as fat! 

Because alcohol is toxic, it’s processed and removed before any other macronutrients are digested and assimilated. Therefore, that hefty price tag of 7 kcal/g makes its way to the front of the line as fuel our classy dance floor antics.

There is also the growing notion that  Alcohol calories don’t even count!

This could be because of two things: alcohol metabolism costs the cell a considerable amount of ATP, and a molecule of alcohol gets excreted before we have enough time to use all the energy it had. The tangible evidence for this is that studies where subjects exchange fat and carbohydrate calories for alcohol calories, they lose weight dramatically; almost as if they cut those calories out altogether.

Further, there is a fair amount of anecdotal evidence suggesting that alcohol calories don’t count. Maybe even test whether alcohol calories count for yourself (with caution, and remember any fuckups aren’t my fault).

Set your calories at maintenance for the week, except make 20% of those calories from alcohol. Do you lose weight at the rate you would expect for a 20% calorie deficit? If you try this, report back to me in the comments below. I’m interested in your results!

That’s some science you CAN try at home, kids.

(Disclaimer 1/3: Drink responsibly)

The Caveat: Alcohol’s Effects on other Energy Sources

Because alcohol takes priority as an energy source, the use of other energy sources (food, body fat) are put on hold. Yes, some of those nutrients are stored as fat. Technically you will gain some fat, but you will not experience any noteworthy increases. Remember the overarching rule of fat loss and laws of thermodynamics. If you consume less calories than your body needs, then you will not gain fat!

What all of this entails…

Assume, for now, that alcohol calories count. Now that you know that we must get rid of alcohol ASAP, and that they can’t be stored as fat, then that means they’re a pretty fleeting energy source, right? They will only put a stop to using other fuel for a short time!

 Further, as long as you are under your maintenance calories for the day, you will not gain fat at all. You may have stored some food as fat because your body used alcohol as fuel first, but this is negated because your body either will tap into fat oxidation or has made room for some negligible fat storage via a caloric deficit. Mass (aka tissue) cannot be made without energy; there is no way around the laws of thermodynamics.

That’s just assuming alcohol calories actually count!

If this is the case, then you literally have nothing to worry about if fat loss/maintenance is your goal! It’ll be as if alcohol is as zero-calorie as water and coffee!

However, until we get more conclusive research, I say assume alcohol calories count (with certain conditions). Fortunately, I have an easy strategy that I use any time I know I’ll be drinking to ensure no fat gain happens.


My strategy:

Don’t Count Calories from Alcohol

When I plan on drinking, I don’t count alcohol calories as long as I follow the following guidelines.

Intermittent fasting + some cardio

As you may know, I am a huge proponent of intermittent fasting. I truly believe the benefits far outweigh that of normal eating patterns. One such benefit is that it saves all of your calories until the end of the day, which is helpful for fat loss as well as staying lean. It also serves as a natural detox so that your cells can clean house.

Essentially, fasting before getting trashed will do two things: it will ‘make room’ for the oxidative stress your body will endure from the alcohol, and it will give you a huge calorie deficit.

Some light cardio will give you some extra room in your macros to eat a little more. You’re partying, so set the stage to let yourself have some more food.

High protein first meal, save most carbs and fat for drunchies

The second part of my strategy is breaking the fast with fiber, 50-75% of my daily allowance for protein, and a small amount of fats and carbs. I prefer to do this normally, but when I intend to party this becomes much more important. The main reason for this is that protein is the hardest macronutrient to convert into fat (we’re still assuming, for now, that alcohol calories actually count and that your body holds food as fat until alcohol is excreted).

Preloading most of your protein will also let you hit your carbs and fats in your drunchie meals. Your average Waffle House or McDonalds meal is most likely lacking in protein, but plentiful in the other macros.

Favorite drunchie meals premeditated and ready to be tracked

This will just save some headache from tracking and cut some guilt you might have if you feel like you overate. Having the meal ready to be tracked can:

a) serve as an eating limit so that your drunken inhibitions don’t lead you to overeat, and

b) let you stay in the moment so that you don’t have to add macros as you sit in a drive-thru slinging slurred words at the intercom from the back of your friend’s SUV.

If you vow to yourself to only eat what you had preplanned, you will have less of a chance of screwing up your deficit.

Calorie deficit

As I said earlier, if you are in a caloric deficit, you cannot gain weight. Period. So this one’s a no brainer. However, it is possible for alcohol oxidation to lead to fat being stored in fat cells, as dietary fat is the most easily converted macro from a substrate to storage. This is similar to  how insulin’s presence puts a stop to fat oxidation.

Realize, though, that fat is stored and burned throughout the day, and sometimes with no net effect (these are called futile cycles). Understand that any fat storage will be negated by the calorie deficit, and intermittent fasting can be your cherry on top (due to the absence of insulin in the fasting window increasing fat oxidation).

Moderation

Alcohol’s effects on fat storage are dose dependent. The amount of alcohol in the system is proportional to the time it takes to make it harmless. What that means is having a single drink, letting it clear your system, then having another drink will have less of an effect than having back-to-back drinks. It also entails that having a moderate amount (say, less than 5 drinks for most men and 4 drinks for most women) is beneficial to avoid an alcohol buildup.

Drink hard liquor and low-carb wine. If drinking any cocktails, beer, cider, or sweet wine, have them premeditated and ready for tracking

I recommend sticking to hard liquor (with water or carbonated water) or low-carb wine (most dry wines, specifically red wines). This is to avoid unknown calories from carbs or fat in your drink. While alcohol calories shouldn’t be counted, the sugar, barley, or cream in your drinks should.

That said, feel free to indulge in a delicious mojito or face an Irish car bomb if you have the non-alcohol calories accounted for. It helps a lot to have your favorite cocktails plugged in to your macro-tracking app to be used at a moments notice. When entering the info for your cocktail, remember to ignore calories form alcohol!

Have less than 3 drinks on lifting days, keep heavier drinking reserved for non-lifting days

The effects of moderate drinking on recovery, anabolic hormones, and muscle protein synthesis have been grossly exaggerated by fitness hardos. Moderate drinking following a sensible exercise program will not hinder results to any meaningful degree.

This is a topic for a different post, but the main reason I recommend less drinking on lifting days is that you will probably want to be in a caloric surplus following your lift. As we know, a calorie surplus with alcohol will probably lead to more fat storage than we want.

Note that it doesn’t mean you won’t build muscle, but if staying lean is your goal it would behoove you to drink even less. Perhaps set your limit at 3, and drink at an even slower rate. Do this only on lifting days where you’re taking in more calories; on non-lifting days go back to a limit of 5 drinks.


“This is cool for those chill nights out, but if I want to really party, I won’t be shitfaced enough!”

I get it. There are those nights where you want to throw caution into the wind. Well, there is this strategy that will help you in this situation as well.

If you plan on drinking heavily, then you should limit your intake of fat and carbs as much as possible. Maybe have 50-60 grams of carbs and 30-35 grams of fat. Get the rest of your calories from protein.

This is because protein is the hardest macro to be stored as fat, and fat is the easiest; carbs sit in the middle.

The restriction on fats and carbs will severely limits your drunchie options and will have a negative impact on your hormones, recovery, and other aspects of health. However, you can basically drink as much as you want without any fear of meaningful fat gain.

Don’t abuse this, as it is unhealthy. Keep this trick for rare occasions.

(p.s. disclaimer 2/3: don’t be stupid. Stay safe)

Lastly, if you want to get trash-trash, you could just say “fuck it”. Eat a normal ratio of macros and drink as much as you want.

Understand that there will be some steps back on the journey to your dream body, but also understand that fitness is only one aspect of life. How many weddings, graduations, retirements, promotions, etc. will you celebrate in your lifetime? The few steps back could be worth it if the trade-off is delicious food, comfortable drunkenness, and special memories with those close to you.

As long as you’re smart and do damage control to not overeat a few thousand calories, you’ll be back where you were in less than two weeks.


Well, that’s a wrap on alcohol and its effects on fat loss! Look forward to a more in-detail post on how it will effect your muscle and strength gains!

Disclaimer 3/3: Let me end by telling you to stay safe, know your limits, don’t be ratchet, and follow the law. Don’t be that guy or gal.

Finally, remember that this is a very new blog. I’m working hard to churn out more content for you. I have some great ideas of what to talk about next and I’m open to suggestions (and edits, if you’re credible and what you say makes sense). Note that all underlined words are either stand-ins for links to a post I have yet to write about the topic, or they are citations that I am too lazy to link to at this point. Thank you for your patience!

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