One of the most common questions I get from new online clients
Am I really going to burn fat eating Ben&Jerry’s while on your program?
And since I’m now taking on a select number of online coaching clients, I feel I should preemptively answer these questions with this post. But mostly, I wrote this post for the insecure ‘fitness professionals’ that accuse me of being “shady” for promoting sustainable, healthy, and enjoyable fitness habits with my clients.
Now, before we talk about why you should eat ice-cream after your next workout, let’s cover some basics.
THE MAGIC INGREDIENT OF SEXINESS: CONSISTENCY
The idea that you have to be on a boring, strict, and tasteless diet to lose weight is one that stops many from taking the leap into leanness. Nothing pisses me off more than “fitness professionals” preaching extremism, and forcing chicken and asparagus onto their clients all day, everyday.
… Not only is this ineffective for lasting results, it’s absolutely miserable.
I plan strategic cheat days with my online clients – psychologically, it’s the light at the end of the tunnel. Something to look forward to. The feeling that you’re not “trapped” in a shitty diet. Physiologically – cheat days boost a fat burning hormone called leptin [from the greek word: thin].
Above all, these cheat days help people stay committed to a plan without “burning out” or “bouncing back” – and the truth that the fitness industry wont tell you, is that lasting results come solely from consistency over time.
… But even then, a cheat day can be too restrictive for some, especially in the beginning. That’s when an intervention is needed.
‘DIETING’ IS NOT SUPPOSED TO BE UNCOMFORTABLE. AT ALL
You should be looking forward to your meals.
You should feel energized after every meal.
Anyway. Back to restrictions. If you’ve been following my work, you know that solid, lasting, and impressive results come only from consistency, and good nutrition habits.
The feeling of restriction will absolutely destroy your efforts at long term consistency.
Consistency only happens once you’ve built sustainable habits that are both enjoyable, and practical for your lifestyle.
The biggest misconception about fitness is that you have to be on a strict and miserable diet to start burning fat.
The foods you eat should be the foods that you love.
All that matters is that you’re in or around your daily macronutrient goals through mostly “real” food (easy on the processed garbage). These numbers vary greatly for everyone and factors in things like your age, weight, what kind of training you’re doing, and your specific goals.
There is always room for ‘junk’, as long as it’s in moderation, and your daily macronutrient balance is being met.
A good guideline is to reserve about 10% of your total calories for “junk”. For example, if you’re eating 1800 calories a day, you can dedicate 180 harmless calories to enjoying a scoop of ice-cream.
The more you enjoy your “diet”, the less likely you are to ditch it, or constantly cheat on it.
Which means, the more likely you are to stick to the plan.
… And the more results dates you’re going to get.
Researchers seem to agree with me. In this study on 181 overweight females:
“Regardless of assigned diet groups, 12-month weight change was greater in the most adherent compared to the least adherent groups.”
So what can we take away from this?
Consistency is the most important element of any fitness program, and the best way to be consistent, is to eat ice-cream (or to become an online coaching client).
Now, before you run off and stock up on tubs of Ben&Jerry’s, let’s talk about why ice-cream is demonized by fitness freaks, and why you should eat it after your next workout.
THE SCIENCE OF POST-WORKOUT ICE-CREAM
Ice-cream is usually restricted from diet plans because it’s high in carbohydrates, and most of those are coming from sugar.
When you consume carbohydrates, they get broken down and enter your blood in the form of glucose (aka blood sugar). The body recognizes this, and produces a hormone called Insulin, which tells your body to remove the sugar from your blood, and store it as fat.
Now, not all carbohydrates are created equally*. There is a difference between the carbs in a spoonful of Nutella, and the carbs in a serving of Quinoa.
The fitness world has divided carbs into two categories – simple (ice cream) and complex (apples), based on how quick (or slow) they get broken down by your body. This led to the creation of the glycemic index (or GI for short) which ranks carbohydrates on a 1-100 scale. For example – ice cream is about a 57 on the GI, while an apple is a 39.
The higher a food is on the GI, the higher it spikes your insulin, and the fatter it makes you. For the most part, you want to avoid foods high on the GI, except for the 1-2 hour window after exercise.
When we’re putting ourselves through intense exercise, the body enters fight or flight mode, and our Adrenal Glands start producing Catecholamines, which take control over Insulin. These hormones come from the same family as adrenaline (roller coasters) and dopamine (sex).
Once these hormones are dumped into our system, they start running the show. Insulin takes the back seat, our muscles shift into fat burning mode, and our fat shifts away from fat storing mode.
When we’re finished with our intense workout (this should never exceed 60-75 minutes), the catecholamines disappear and insulin gets back in the drivers seat. At this point our fat storage is still basically turned off, and our muscles are starving and want to be fed whatever they can get.
This is the perfect time to enjoy whatever carbs you want without having your body store any fat. An insulin spike in the 1-2 hours after an intense workout will drive glycogen into your muscles and help get them recovered for your next intense workout.
By timing our carb consumption for the times our body can best utilize them, we can successfully sustain a “low carb” lifestyle by satisfying our cravings, while still rapidly losing fat.
The more intense the workout, the more carbs you can afford to consume when you’re finished.
I like to reinforce this EARN YOUR CARBS mindset into all of my online coaching clients.
*The concept of the Glycemic Index and carbs being separated into “good and bad” has recently come under scrutiny from some of the leading Nutritionists in the research world. In a recent research review, Alan Aragon states:
“GI has zero bearing on anyone (including diabetics) unless you fulfill ALL of the following conditions: a) you consume a high-carb/low-protein/low-fat/low-fiber diet, b) you remain in a chronically hypercaloric state for the purpose of weight gain, and c) you remain sedentary while maintaining conditions a & b. Then & only then might GI matter. If your diet is macronutritionally sound & predominated with whole & minimally refined foods, then you are worrying about nothing.”
The Cliff Notes:
1. Enjoy Ice-Cream in the 1-2 hour window after your next intense workout*
2. Comment with your favorite flavor of Ben&Jerrys (mine is Cinnamon Buns)
3. Get Sexy.
*Intense workout means really working your ass off; not mindlessly jogging on the treadmill and wondering why you’re not getting any results. If you can like things on Instagram between exercises, you’re not working hard enough.