Frequently Asked Questions
The path to your goal physique is a tough one, and is often times confusing. We get a lot of questions over email, and compiled below are the ones we get most often.
Go ahead and look through this list. Hopefully we answered your questions here, if not email firstname.lastname@example.org for more help.
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What is my maintenance? How do I set my macros?
It gives you both your calories and macros depending on your goal. Also, this calculator gives you calories/macros for a specific Kinobody program. *Special thanks to Nicolas Stohler for making these awesome tools!
I've been cutting for a few weeks and now my weight has stalled. What am I doing wrong?
I've addressed this in detail in the post How to Track Fat Loss Progress but I'll write the short answer here.
A calorie deficit always leads to weight loss. It's a law of physics - the law of thermodynamics. If your weight has been stalling for several weeks the only explanation is that the calorie deficit is no longer present. There are two main reasons why your calorie intake needs to go down over time:
1. You weigh less, you burn fewer calories than when you started
A lighter body burns less energy no matter what type of activity you do. It's logical - it takes less energy to move 65kg around compared to 95kg. In addition, you burn less energy at rest. A lot of people think that lean body mass is the main predictor of resting calorie burn but this is not true. Contrary to what is commonly believed, skeletal muscle actually has a fairly low resting energy expenditure, roughly 6 calories per pound (13 calories per kg). In addition to that, fat mass which is commonly believed to be inactive tissue actually takes 2 calories per pound to maintain (5 calories per kg).
To put that into mathematical perspective, gaining 1 pound of muscle would be expected to increase resting energy expenditure just as much as gaining 3 pounds of fat. That is why total bodyweight and not lean bodyweight is the main predictor of your maintenance calories.
2. Your metabolism is slower
You can't damage your metabolism, that is a myth. Studies show that metabolic rate doesn’t slow down more than 15% than predicted even in the case of starvation like in the Minnesota Starvation Experiment. These people lost almost half of their bodyweight and still did not "damage" their metabolism. However, your metabolic rate does go down more than you would expect based on weight loss. This is related to leptin levels. Leptin is a master hormone involved in maintaining our metabolic rate and also controls hunger to a large extent.
The amount of leptin we have depends on our fat mass and our food intake. When we reduce our calories and we start losing fat, leptin automatically goes down causing a series of adaptations: our metabolic rate is slightly reduced, hunger is increased, testosterone levels decrease, and NEAT goes down. It's best to accept the fact that our metabolic rate will go down a little while cutting no matter what we do.
Does your waist do down and your weight stays the same?
Before you decrease your calorie intake you need to check if your waist around the navel is going down. The reason for that is because your waist circumference around the navel is a very good indicator of fat mass change. It may be possible for your weight to stay the same and your waist to go down. That’s reason for celebrating! Because it means you’re probably gaining muscle mass so fast that it equals the rate of fat loss.
Your bodyweight stays the same, but you’re losing fat and gaining muscle at the same time. If both your weight and waist are not changing, that’s when you adjust your intake. You need to eat less. The deficit is no longer present.
I am eating very low calories and I'm not losing fat. Why?
There are tracking errors involved.
Most people get offended when I give them this answer because it implies they are not disciplined. But this is not what I'm saying. Here are some common problems:
- Maybe their calorie counting app has the wrong values for some foods. This way a few hundred calories go unnoticed.
- Maybe they forget to add in the two tablespoons of olive oil in their salad. It's very easy to forget about oil or gravy.
- Maybe they eat out a lot and underestimate the calorie content of their meal. What looks like 300g may actually be 400g. What looks like a lean piece of meat may actually contain 25g of fat. A bowl of pasta from a restaurant contains a lot more fat compared to what you eat at home.
- Maybe they stick to their diet perfectly during the week but go in a surplus on the weekend. 3 beers and a fast-food meal on top of your daily intake easily negates 2 days of dieting.
I'm skinny but I can't see my abs. Why can't I see my abs even though I'm lean?
A few months ago I wrote the post How to Get 6 Pack Abs - The Ultimate Complete Guide. You'll find all the answers there.
But I'll give you the short answer here. Having 6 pack abs requires two things:
1. A low body fat percentage (for men around 10%)
2. Well developed abdominal muscles
Having only one of them is not enough. You need muscle development AND low body fat.
I get a lot of emails from guys looking like this asking how much fat they still have to lose to see their abs. These guys are leaner than me right now, obviously their problem is not body fat. Their muscles are underdeveloped. This is why they lack ab definition.
At this point people ask: Ok then so what ab exercises should I do? Ab exercises alone will not be enough. It's not possible to develop your abs on their own without growing the rest of your body. To illustrate this, have you ever seen someone who looks like this picture?
Of course not, that’s ridiculous. The only way you’re going to get a core like that is if you get very muscular in general. So if you don’t have enough muscle mass to support a 6 pack your best strategy is to start strength training.
If you get strong on the main exercises at the gym it’s impossible not to develop your abs as well. You automatically get abs if you have big legs, back, and chest. Of course you’re going to be doing direct ab training as well. But you need to remember than ab training alone will probably not do much if you don’t get muscular everywhere else.
Is a high carb diet best for gaining muscle? What diet is best for muscle growth?
Yes, carbs fuel workout performance and a high carb diet is usually best for muscle growth. Ideally you'd get around 1g of protein per pound (2g per kg), around 25% of calories from fat and the rest from carbs. However, calories and protein are much more important than the ratio of fats and carbs. Let me explain. How much and what you eat doesn't directly stimulate muscle growth. Getting stronger in the gym is what sends the signal that your body should build more muscle. Then your nutrition permits or doesn't permit that growth to happen.
In other words if your training is not progressing, nothing you do with your nutrition will make you more muscular. I fell in this trap two years ago. I was not progressing in strength but I thought I was going to grow because I hit my macros to the gram every day. I was dreaming. When your goal is gaining muscle you shouldn't spend much mental energy on getting the perfect ratio of fats and carbs in your diet. Most of your effort should be put into your training.
If you get sufficient protein and you fill the rest of the calories with a good balance of fats and carbs you get the best results you can get. Realistically, if one day you get 20% of your calories from fat and the rest from carbs and the next day you get 35% from fat and the rest from carbs - your body won't notice any difference.
Can my waist go down while my weight stays the same?
Before you decrease your calorie intake you need to check if your waist around the navel is going down. The reason for that is because your waist circumference around the navel is a very good indicator of fat mass change.
It may be possible for your weight to stay the same and your waist to go down.That’s reason for celebrating! Because it means you’re probably gaining muscle mass so fast that it equals the rate of fat loss. Your bodyweight stays the same, but you’re losing fat and gaining muscle at the same time.
If both your weight and waist are not changing, that’s when you adjust your intake. You need to eat less. The deficit is no longer present.
How to use refeed days while cutting? How often should I refeed?
The Warrior Shredding Program and the Aggressive Fat Loss program have you do 1 or 2 refeed days per week while having an aggressive deficit on the other days. This is what we tell people to do to keep it simple, but Greg and I actually do something different. We don't have planned, fixed refeed days, we take them when we need them. Recent evidence suggests that refeeds don't speed up your metabolism helping you lose fat faster and they don't prevent metabolic slowdown either.
You can read why in the post Do Refeeds help you Lose Fat Faster?
However, refeed days are still useful for other reasons:
- Physiologically they help boost gym performance by refilling muscle glycogen. And they also probably have a positive effect on maintaining healthy hormonal balance.
- Psychologically they reduce the stress of dieting because they allow us to eat more for a short period of time.
Greg and I have a refeed day in two situations:
- When we have a very poor workout. Eating more carbs will refill muscle glycogen stores and will likely restore your lost strength.
- When our social life demands it. The main reason I use unplanned refeeds is so that I can pair them with social events that happen in my life. Over a time period of 5-8 weeks of cutting there will inevitably be some social events that will make you eat more than you planned.
Every week you have at least one event where it would be hard for you to maintain the deficit: a birthday, a holiday, a celebration, a dinner with the family, a business dinner, etc. Why not make that day your refeed day? This way you get the best of both worlds: enjoying the social event and refilling your muscle glycogen stores.
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