Episode 15. Macronutrients, If It Fits Your Macros (IIFYM) and Dieting Strategies

Episode 15. Macronutrients, If It Fits Your Macros (IIFYM) and Dieting Strategies

Episode 15. Macronutrients, If It Fits Your Macros (IIFYM) and Dieting Strategies

Show Notes

Macronutrients, get your macronutrients here! This episode was all about dieting (mostly for fat loss) and macros, and If It Fits Your Macros (IIFYM). The guys are mostly against IIFYM, for various reasons that maybe aren’t obvious at first. Also, Scott gets messages from people doing insane things based on their understanding of the rules of IIFYM.

The guys talked about the differences between doing a diet (such as vegetarianism) for ethical or personal reasons, versus doing it because it’s “a diet.” Scott calls this the difference between a diet strategy (good) and doing “a diet” (bad), or the differences doing it from the top down (following this or that name) versus doing it from the ground up (doing it based on personal strategic or ethical reasons).

Macros and IIFYM Notes:

  • Which macros should you focus on? Scott and Kevin actually do things backwards a bit, insofar as they emphasize the protein SPARING nutrients (carbs and fats). Their recommendations for protein are still in the ballpark of what 99% of the fitness industry recommend.
  • The Twinkie Diet by Dr. Mark Haub came up. Scott clarified that Dr. Haub didn’t eat just Twinkies, but foods you could get in a gas station (and he had a protein shake and multivitamin).
  • Scott mentioned “honeymooning,” and that more often than not, diet trends gain legs because of people “honeymooning” at something making the most supportive comments.
  • There was talk about when and how the metabolic compensation would come into effect. I.e. most people aren’t doing the insane things that Biggest Loser contestants are, and honestly, they just won’t experience the same kinds of metabolic compensation.
  • Scott is against IIFYM because it can breed obsession, and it also (counter-intuitively) can emphasize what you “can” or “can’t” have.
  • Although Mike is “less” against counting calories or macros than Kevin or Scott, he mentioned 3 key reasons why he personally doesn’t *really* like it, nor does he prefer an IIFYM diet.
  • Ego Depletion: Having to make decisions all day saps willpower. this is true whether it’s deciding what to wear or… what to eat.
  • Bright Lines: Having a meal plan makes it easy to say what is or is not on the meal plan. Either it is or it isn’t. Having macros to “fill in” is more blurry. Sure, substituting one potato for a sugary snack? No problem. But what about another… and another… and another… At some point your brain things, Hmm, this isn’t absolutely, positively 100% “optimal,” which could have you second-guessing yourself, and that’s when you are susceptible to…
  • The “What-the-Hell” Effect: After you have one cookie, “what-the-hell,” just have the whole box. Our brains are bad at this. If we’re not doing things absolutely, 100% perfectly, its instinct is to say, “Oh what the hell.” (This one’s in McGonigal’s book.)
  • All of these stack up. Maybe you don’t give in and have the whole box, but nonetheless, just experiencing all three of these effects will drain your willpower. If this happening constantly, that makes dieting harder.

Links / Resources mentioned

The Willpower Instinct by Kelly McGonigal

Willpower: The Greatest Human Strength by Roy Baumeister and John Tierney

Episode 14. Program Design, or, “Proper Progressive Planned Personalized Programming”

Episode 14. Program Design, or, “Proper Progressive Planned Personalized Programming”

Episode 14. Program Design, or, “Proper Progressive Planned Personalized Programming”

Show Notes

We looked at the “custom” in custom workout. Both Scott and Kevin sell one-time workouts to on their websites, and for their ongoing clients, progressive personal programming and program design is a big part of what they provide. This episode was about what program design looks like: what kind of thinking goes into a program (and what kind of thinking should be avoided), what kinds of principles tend to stay consistent, and what needs variation, that kind of thing.

All About Program Design:

  • Consumers want to change programs every 4-6 weeks, but that’s missing the point of programming; 4-6 weeks is just not long enough to get accustomed to a program, in terms of the physical changes and adaptations that go on in the body.

  • It takes about 6, 7, or 8 weeks to reach the “Mastery Phase” of a program, and usually that’s the phase you really want to milk for all its worth.
  • You start with broad strokes (“this program is a 5-day program to sculpt a balanced physique” or “this is a 10-week powerlifting peaking program”) and then from there you can get more specific, and then tweak from there for individual clients.

  • If your goal is building muscle and a sculpted physique, you tend to need more variation in your programs than you would if, say, you were a powerlifter.

  • Strength is always built on the backbone of hypertrophy, and that’s one reason why both types of training have to be done in phases.

  • A lot of times Scott gets the biofeedback, “I’m not getting stronger” from clients, but that’s actually a great sign on a lot of programs. “Strength” is often not the goal of a program.

  • Scott has about 700 templates, but he probably consistently uses about 70 of them.

  • Kevin has several hundred templates that apply to certain situations.

  • There is a huge difference between “cookie-cutter programs” and what Scott calls, “template formatted needs-state considerations.”

  • For Kevin, what gets adjusted the most is simply the manipulation of volume and intensity. The basic principles stay the same.

  • Scott really likes Vern Gambetta’s term, “Planned Performance Training” over the usual term periodization. This is because you can’t fully, 100% predict in a linear way how someone’s body will respond to a program. Some flexibility has to be built in to account for this. Tweak based on how the body responds, not how it “should” respond.

  • An example of what Scott’s talking about is the base hit strategy.

  • With his increased focus on strength, Kevin uses more periodization in his programming. But even then, there’s *some* flexibility build in.

  • Kevin gives the example of writing out his plan on one sheet of paper, and then writing out “reality” on the other sheet of paper, and going back and forth, back and forth, adjusting based on the numbers he’s actually hitting in the gym.

  • Scott hates “tempo training.” (No really. He hates it.)

  • A program is alive. There is a constant back ’n forth between the program and trainee as the trainee keeps the program alive. Sometimes there’s active recovery. Sometimes it’s time to press on the gas. This is true of both strength and hypertrophy.

  • Mike read out the programs he’d received from Scott when he was a client:

5-Day Hypertrophy

6-Day Hybrid with Strength Focus

5-Day Hybrid (Innervation and MET)

6-Day Strength and Hypertrophy

5-Day MET/Olympic Hybrid

& then his sixth program was again the 6-Day Hybrid with Strength Focus.


  • Although the program was “the same,” it was very different because Mike was more developed. His workload capacity was way up, and therefore his recovery needs were affected, and so on and so forth. So it was the “same program,” but it was the right program for him for different reasons than it had been originally.

  • You think it will be “easier” the second time through, but it can actually be much harder because you’re capable of putting more into it.

Links / Resources mentioned

Kevin’s One-Time Custom Program

Scott’s One-Time Custom Program

The Base Hit Strategy in blog post form

Download a PDF of the Base Hit Strategy:

Episode 13. Your Brain and the Modern World of Food Abundance

Episode 13. Your Brain and the Modern World of Food Abundance

Episode 13. Your Brain and the Modern World of Food Abundance

Show Notes

The reward centers of your brain are involved in your cravings and hunger. For a dieter in our modern world of food abundance, this is extremely important. The best strategy is to acknowledge this, then deal with it intelligently and calmly. This is all about awareness training—knowing what your specific cravings are, being aware of what your triggers are, learning your own thought patterns.


Brain Reward Center Notes:

  • Scott mentioned his rubber band exercise. It’s as simple as this: put a rubber band on your write (like the kind you might find in the grocery store around veggies) and every time you catch yourself with a specific sabotaging thought, snap yourself.
  • Again, Mike reverted to examples from dog training and B.F. Skinner’s work.
  • Another exercise Scott sometimes (though rarely, only if a client is really adamant that they physically can’t go without it) assigns, is letting a client eat *only* their rewarding food: chocolate, pasta, whatever it may be. This teaches that the food in question isn’t actually that amazing—it just takes on that power when you tease yourself with it.
  • You don’t get “rid” of habits. You can in a sense overwrite or modify them, but not erase.
  • Scott loves Michael Pollan’s quote, eat food, not too much, mostly plants.
  • The food industry is ahead of the game in all of this. They are aware of how your brain chemistry works, and they are using that to sell you more and more products. Again: this is why awareness training is so important.
  • The food industry also co-opts count-cultural idea and movements. Think marketing “organic” and things like.

Five Strategies to Deal with Cravings

  1. Accept it. You still have that animal brain that responds on a very basic instinctual level to food rewards. Accept it, and begin awareness training.
  2. Meal timing and structure. This doesn’t mean PWO or anything. It means keep structured meal times. It entrains the circadian rhythms of your hunger hormones.
  3. Get a variety of tastes, textures, and colours. Multiple macronutrients, a variety in your meal plan.
  4. Have a meal plan. Don’t get lost counting calories. The structure will help with habits for a variety of reasons.   
  5. Control your environment as best you can. Also, identify what your triggers are, then modify the habit loop. If you find yourself getting caught, a cognitive shit.

Links / Resources Mentioned

Babies first chocolate video

Homer being “force fed” donuts

Homer the Donut Junkie

The Pavlok band

Learn More

Check out Scott’s book Beyond Metabolism.

Or, Mike’s Guide to Mastering Your Hunger and Cravings

Episode 12. Cheat Days, Refeeds, Spike Meals and Optimizing Metabolism

Episode 12. Cheat Days, Refeeds, Spike Meals and Optimizing Metabolism

Episode 12. Cheat Days, Refeeds, Spike Meals and Optimizing Metabolism

Show Notes

Cheat days are about resetting metabolism. If you’re on a caloric deficit, the “anti-catabolic phase” of the diet only lasts for so long. After while, the breakdown of not just fat but also muscle begins. Spike days help prevent this, while resetting metabolism and hunger hormones (leptin, ghrelin, etc.). There are also side benefits related to digestion and giving your enzymes variety.

Scott’s “Cycle Diet” is actually a maintenance and muscle-building diet, where the trainee eats in a caloric deficit throughout the week, and then has a big cheat day. People who are deep into “Supercompensation Mode” may get more or less spike days, from only a single weekly cheat meal, to weekly half-day cheats, weekly full-day cheats, and full day plus half day cheats every week.

Scott’s Cycle Diet is a bit different from other similar ideas out there for two big reasons.

1. Namely, he doesn’t restrict the intake of fats on your spike. You eat what you crave, and let your body and cravings dictate what you “need.” You don’t each such-and-such number of carbs and such-and-such grams of fats. (It is, after-all, a mental break as well!)

2. Also, you don’t just begin spiking all willy nilly. You don’t just add in a cheat day because your’e on the diet, nor do you eat low carb and do glycogen depleting workouts or anything like that. You deplete glycogen and so on over time, and you read your biofeedback to determine when your body needs a spike. Assuming you’re not just playing head-games with yourself (which is very possible) being totally depleted of glycogen feels unique. You can tell when it happens.

Cheat Day Key Terms:

Supercompensation Mode: This is a state where your body will take in a huge influx of calories and “supercompensate” in terms of its energy stores. It won’t store towards fat, but energy stores like glycogen and intracellular fats (different from your “fat stores”). Note that it takes weeks or months to enter this state… not “a week.”

Relative Deficit: A caloric deficit that is relative to your maintenance calories. (Good.)

Absolute Deficit: A huge caloric deficit that is low in an absolute sense; it ignores what the body needs. Usually we’re talking less than 1,000 calories per day. (Bad.)

Tolerable Hunger: A reasonable, normal level of hunger, that just frankly comes with the territory if you’re on a relative deficit and you’re losing fat. Mike calls it the “Sweet Spot” of hunger, because there are other benefits to it, in terms of concentration, overall readiness and energy levels, and so on. This is NOT the same as intolerable hunger, or just starving yourself.

Cheat Day Assorted Terms:

Don’t add a cheat day just because. Do it when your body needs it. You need to be “real.”

Don’t quantify your spike days or cheat days. No grams of this, grams of that. Just refeed. Engage your hunger and appetite.

Mostly it’s the intake of calories that does it. This means don’t focus on carbs or fats.

Yes, spike days involve “junk” food. And yes, it really is junk. It’s filled with processed crap. But we live in the real world, and these foods are enjoyable. Also, they’re much easier to digest when you need lots of food. (Good luck getting a huge number of calories if it’s all very fancy, fine dining.)

One of the big signs of supercompensation is hunger. You’re no longer satisfied after each meal. Five minutes after eating you’re like, “Was that it? I’m still just as hungry!!” and then when you start eating on a spike, you feel like a bottomless pit.

If you’re hyper-aware of hunger, you’re attuning yourself to each and every possible food cue. You’re not truly listening to your body. You have to “lower the volume,” psychologically speaking.

Links / Resources mentioned