Episode 57. Longterm Metabolic Optimization in the Real World with Fitness Cover Model Andy Sinclair

Episode 57. Longterm Metabolic Optimization in the Real World with Fitness Cover Model Andy Sinclair


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Show Notes

We talk to fitness cover model Andy Sinclair about the real work behind his insane metabolism and ability to stay lean year-round.We talk to fitness cover model Andy Sinclair about the real work behind his insane metabolism and ability to stay lean year-round.

ALSO: Awesome Abs at absbyandy.com is now available! (Check it out, folks.)

The Bulk

  • Andy’s bulk took about 6-8 months, and from there he stayed at that weight (~300 lbs.) for basically a year, to get his body used to that weight.
  • Keep in mind, though, that he was coaxed to that weight. EVEN at his highest, his hunger was still up there. He was NOT force-feeding himself.
  • Andy was young, with long limbs. Scott advised him NOT to compete, because it would ruin his physique. Part of Andy’s success stems from his willingness to work *with* his physique, instead of myopically trying to just accomplish one single thing that wouldn’t serve him all that well in the longterm (i.e. competing).
  • Interestingly, Andy’s diet was basically a normal diet, with one cheat meal a day to get in lots and lots of calories. Small, frequent feedings throughout the day.
  • Even in a bulk up, you don’t want to create a sluggish metabolism.
  • Mike pointed out that you look at a lot of “before and after” pictures, but you don’t see the work that actually went into the before pic. That is, if you look at Andy’s before pics, you don’t see the fact that he’s not just 300 lbs., he’s 300 lbs. with a coaxed metabolism. That “before” pic is really an “in-progress” pic.

Dieting Down and Optimizing Metabolism

  • Andy lost probably about 85 lbs., and maintains about 215 lbs year round.
  • Because of the work Andy’s done for the past decade and a bit, there are photoshoots where he won’t even cut out a cheat day.
  • Andy’s meals are simple, but he enjoys experimenting with recipes, different ways of cooking, different condiments, etc. He doesn’t count calories for this at all.
  • As a side note, when Mike asked for what would be “pushing it” in terms of condiments or add ons, the big thing Scott mentioned were lots and lots of fake sweeteners — sugar alcohol-based “foods” that aren’t really foods. Scott recommends being very very careful with stuff like Walden Farms. (Side note: Splenda’s fine.)
  • Andy eats six meals a day, with a protein and a protein-sparing nutrient (carb or fat) at each meal. He eats healthy whole foods. There is no magic to it, but there is consistency over time. It was there for the bulk. It was there when he dieted down. It’s been there for eleven years of Cycle Dieting.
  • Andy’s diet is what you’d expect: egg whites and oatmeal, tuna or fish and crispy minis, chickpeas or some other legumes or beans, chicken or turkey and potatoes and veggies, a meal he refers to as “the Big Salad,” and then fruit and nut butters before bed.
  • “Consistency” is one of the best ways to keep a robust an optimized metabolism. Want to screw up a metabolism? Jump from diet to diet, one weird trick to one weird trick.
  • Mike pointed out that, when push comes to shove, a lot of people will understand this, but it’s also really hard to do it right. But you have to focus on it. *That’s* where it matters. The grass isn’t greener on the other side.

Find out more about our guest today,
Andy Sinclair:

• Awesome Abs at AbsByAndy.com

Episode 56. The Best Diet and Fat Loss Habits When You Have a LOT of Weight to Lose

Episode 56. The Best Diet and Fat Loss Habits When You Have a LOT of Weight to Lose


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Show Notes

Today our topic is the best diet and fat loss strategies or habits for when you want to lose a LOT of weight, like 40 lbs., 50 lbs., or more. You’re starting at square one, it can feel a bit daunting. Experts might say stuff like “start small, focus on the longterm,” but even though that’s good advice, it’s hard to follow. If oyu want to lose the wieght you want it gone–yesterday. but rushing things just leads to unhealthy behaviors.

Question One

I have a few questions. 1) How do you approach substantial weight loss (50 lbs or more). 2) When approaching substantial weight loss, what are some common mistakes?  3) Are multivitamins useful?  4) is fish oil useful? 5) is Splenda okay and or is stevia better?

  • The big thing is getting away from a focus on numbers. Scott especially doesn’t like group weigh-ins. Re-frame things as a challenge. Lifestyle isn’t a goal, it’s a forever thing.
  • Mike recommends focusing on one key big win — for him, that’d be a meal plan with healthy whole foods that puts you in a slight relative caloric deficit.
  • For Mike, common mistakes include trying to do way too much, way too quick. Focus on the one big win (e.g. a meal plan) and get that right. Many people try to do it all, and crash and burn, either because they quit after trying to create a total lifestyle change in a day, or because they actually do manage to do a million things all at once, but then when they run out of energy and they’re sick and tired… there’s no where for them to go. They want to know what to do to get past the plateau, but at this point there’s not much any coach can recommend except focusing on metabolism.
  • The one key that we kept coming back to was focusing on staying in a state of good energy, and tolerable hunger, and then accepting that there is an ebb and flow to energy and weight loss. This means you need time off, and you need to not see that as “one step back to take two steps forward” (because then your mind will play tricks on you and focus way, way too much on that one step back) but rather as a step forward in itself. This only happens when you reframe things, and stop seeing the goal as the weight loss per se, and seeing the goal as vigilantly coaxing your body to get leaner. Be vigilant about staying in the sweet spot of hunger, not about losing weight ASAP.
  • Don’t panic about a plateau. Stuff is happening under the surface. We repeat: stuff is happening under the surface. Don’t cut calories and up the cardio. You’ll drive yourself into the ground, and that is NOT sustainable.

Question Two

For a client that has a lot of body fat to lose (40 or 50+ pounds), in which they are placed on a training and eating regimen by Scott, and for which losing said amount of fat may take a year or two to accomplish (sensibly, healthy, going off of the individual’s biofeedback, and at the person’s body’s pace), and in which the person’s biofeedback indicates they’re NOT yet in supercompensation mode…

1) How long of a period of time does being in a RELATIVE caloric deficit eventually begin to cause some down-regulation of, or have a negative impact on, the metabolism, when there is not a refeed (as Mike alluded to in a recent podcast episode)? 2) Will Scott begin prescribing that person some refeeds (whether a meal/half day/full day) just to prevent down regulating in hormones/metabolism or even just for mere psychological purposes even though the individual isn’t in supercompensation mode? If yes, how often and why?


Episode 55. Snacking, Binging, Emotional Eating and Exercises to Help You HEAL

Episode 55. Snacking, Binging, Emotional Eating and Exercises to Help You HEAL


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Show Notes

This episode began with a real and raw letter from a potential client who suffers from binge eating, but who agreed to let us share her letter on the show. For those dealing with these issues right now, please do visit: scottabelfitness.com/foodissues to get a few specific, helpful exercises sent to you (journaling prompts, self-investigation questionnaires, etc.).

Important Points for Healing

  • Release valves: what’s a good release valve? The answer is anything that is not a self-sabotaging behavior. Scott likes adult colouring books, which are becoming more and more popular as a relaxation exercise and self-connecting activity. Anything you can immerse yourself in is a good thing (flow state). Another option is, yes, television.
  • Another important point is to get away from the number crunching, which encourages black and white thinking, and is often the cause of the build up of pressure in the first place.
  • Scott mentioned the transformation of Alba and her husband. Find those here.
  • The writer of the letter mentioned that she has worked in a supplement shop. One of the keys with this is to be aware of environments that actually make things worse. A supplement shop can be an environment full of triggers, since it is so body-image oriented (the writer mentioned that the shop is “full of sweets,” ironically).
  • Mike: You have to be careful with “knowing thyself” and creating self-fulfilling prophecies: “Oh, these are my triggers, I’m destined to binge when I encounter them….” (Also, note that it won’t come in this form. No one says stuff like this. It’ll be a vague, much less articulated fear of “giving in.” But it’s just as damaging, and it’s still a self-fulfilling prophecy.)
  • You also have to avoid becoming “comfortable” in trying another diet, and another diet, and another diet. You’re not actually digging your way out. It’s a way to pretend. (We all do this.)
  • Be careful about associating “health” with “leanness.” Yes, these things are associated, but be careful: are you truly dieting for “health” reasons?
  • Scott often refers to the triangle of awareness: mental, emotional, physical/behavioral. One problem many people have is focusing too much on the behavioral, and putting all their efforts there, when they have to dig deep into the emotional realm first.
  • Avoid the compare, contrast, compete mindset. You can’t win with that one.
  • A good followup exercise for almost any journal exercise is “and then what?” and do that five times (or, in other words, five layers deeper): “I want to lose 5 lbs. by next weekend. Okay, and then what? [blah blah blah] –> Okay, and then what? [blah blah blah] –> etc.”

Some Exercises

Exercise One

This one is two parts:

Part 1. Write down and share what surrounding environmental and emotional triggers for your negative thoughts and behaviors (TV commercials, magazines ads, social situations, whatever). A good follow-up (part 1 “b”) would be to dig in there. Write down or free write why they’re triggers, and then dig into how they make you feel. What exactly are they “triggering”?

Part 2. You also need to write down what self-talk strategies you will put in place next time these triggers strike – noticing them is only one step – what you plan to do about them is the next step.

Part 3. Go back and repeat steps 1 and 2, but this time address the specific behaviors you want to deal with. (Maybe it’s binge eating, maybe it’s certain negative thoughts.) In other words, drill down from the general to the specific, and then excavate.

Magazine Exercise

Go and grab the top five fitness, health, or style magazines from your local book store. When you get home, use these prompts:

  • When I look at this person on the cover of this magazine, I feel….
  • When I look at this person on the cover of this magazine, I feel about myself….

Trigger Foods and Trigger Moods

Use these prompts:

My trigger foods are…
My trigger moods are…

Once you identify your trigger foods and your trigger moods write about them.

Once you’ve done that, focus on the SOLUTIONS to these triggers. Focus on the solution, not the problem. (What you focus on expands. So… focus on solutions.)

Episode 54. Cheat Days and Refeeds: Biofeedback for Supercompensation Mode

Episode 54. Cheat Days and Refeeds: Biofeedback for Supercompensation Mode


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Show Notes

One of the most requested topics is more info on biofeedback for things like tolerable hunger and supercompensation mode. Understandably, people want to know when they are or are not ready for a cheat day or refeed. You can find out more about the Cycle Diet at thecycle.diet.

Cycle Diet Basics

  • The Cycle Diet is a form of dieting in which you diet to get into “supercompensation” mode.
  • Once you’re there, in begin implementing cheat meals, half-day cheat days, or full cheat days. People who have metabolisms that are really “revving” can have up to a day and a half of a refeed: a full day cheat day plus a mid-week spike meal.
  • The Cycle Diet is relatively unique relative to other popular cheat” diets or refeed systems, because you don’t apply a set of external things to get your body to need a refeed; instead, you work from the inside out, and diet in a relative deficit and let your body tell you when it needs a refeed.

Cycle Diet vs. Other “Refeed” Systems

Other Refeed Systems Cycle Diet
Outside in Inside Out
Forcing the body (’til it reacts) Coaxing the body (so it responds)
Special workouts before cheat days Do the workouts that accomplish your goals. The cheat day itself is just a means to an end. Depleting yourself so you can “have a cheat day” is not the goal.
Eat low carb, since a refeed restores glycogen. Eat reasonable/moderate carbs, and let the caloric deficit over time deplete glycogen (and other stuff).
Eat only high-carb, low-fat foods on refeed. Anything goes on refeed. You’re replenishing more than glycogen, and what you’re “craving” is often a hint as to what your body needs.
Do weird cardio, or juicing, or something before, during or after the cheat day. Just go back to a diet in a relative caloric deficit with healthy whole foods.


Biofeedback for Supercompensation

  • Hunger, hunger hunger. A slide from “tolerable” hunger to “always thinking about food” hunger. (Hunger, not just cravings for delicious things.)
  • Being relatively lean. The leaner you are relative to your metabolic setpoint, the more likely you are to be in supercompensation mode.
  • Concentration levels (partly just a bit of diet-induced attention deficit, and partly just always thinking about food)
  • A feeling a being “flat” or “empty” in the gym, as well as less energy all throughout the day.
  • Hunger is keeping you up at night.
  • One of the things you need to take into account is the diet history and the mental history: if you have emotional eating issues, or a past history of yoyo dieting, you might be hyper-focused on hunger without it being physiological. A history of yoyo dieting can hyper-sensitive you to hunger or craving cues.

Trying a Cheat Day

  • You don’t have to be 100% sure absolutely absolutely whether or not you’re in supercompensation mode. You can try a cheat meal, cheat day, or whatever, and then assess how it went.
  • Be willing to make a small mistake here and there. The key is not to play mind games, but it can be done.


Scott’s Tips for Getting in Touch with Biofeedback

  • Start with frequent small meals, use the 1/3 plate rule: protein, carbs, fat, each 1/3 of the plate.
  • If you’re thinking of cheat days, use the above indicators, but start with 4-6 weeks *at minimum*
  • If you’re ready, try a cheat MEAL, then ASSESS. What’s the weight scale say, what’s the mirror say? Did you lose the water weight quick? See what happens.

Learn More About the Cycle Diet

Episode 53. Alwyn Cosgrove on Execution and Delivering Results

Episode 53. Alwyn Cosgrove on Execution and Delivering Results


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Show Notes

Alwyn Cosgrove came on to discuss training strategy and program design, and especially some of the most absurd trends in the industry. Key themes were about delivering real results, relentlessly cutting chaff and extraneous fat, getting to the real core actions that will deliver results, and doing those things incredible well.

Fitness Trainer Consulting

  • A lot of what Alwyn does with business consulting has to do with lifestyle design — that is, thinking about why you’re running a business, and how you’re going to structure that business to accomplish those goals. You don’t want to work for the sake of work, and if you’re not pro-active, that’s where you’ll happen.
  • There was also a discussion about the benefit of the benefit. It’s not about losing a number on the scale; it’s about the benefit of that, or the “and then what?” or “why?” Keep digging. Why? And then what? Oh, why is that? That’s how you get to the real deep-seeded beliefs. This is good for marketing… and for coaching!
  • The “and then what?” and lifestyle design equation come together when you think about why are you training. If you feel exhausted and terrible all the time, you’ve probably gotten lost somewhere. Go back to the why.
  • In terms of marketing, and dealing with the people out there offering absurd promises, Alwyn says there are only two defensible positions in terms of marketing: “You were the first, or you were the only.” That is, Alwyn positions himself in a category of one. His clients won’t find someone else with the same background, expertise, and proof as him. They just won’t.

Simple, Excellent Execution

  • Both Scott and Alwyn agreed that expertise is about simplicity is key. Expertise is often about getting rid of the extraneous stuff, not about adding complexity.
  • This is true of coaching, and marketing: do amazing stuff, and do it well. Execution is key, not bells and whistles. Do simple things, and execute.
  • A problem is information overload. If your coach gives you an opinion, guaranteed within five minutes you can find an article or something that can seem fairly legitimate that says the exact opposite. Always. For both sides. Alwyn sometimes uses a rule with clients: you’re allowed to question anything I say, but you’re not allowed to go out and just Google it and question.
  • It used to be hard to get information. When Alwyn was writing about creatine way back when, he had to write a letter to the actual researchers. Now you Google it and have to sift through endless piles of crap. Sure, there’s more good stuff, but there’s exponentially more chaff.
  • Another problem is the outright lies and supposedly legitimate research taken out of context. E.g., a supplement company pays for 10 studies. Nine of them show nothing. One of them shows maybe… sorta… something. Well, they don’t talk about the studies that didn’t show anything; the just build up and build up the study that was vaguely a little better than inconclusive.
  • A similar problem, beyond supplement companies, is that journals don’t like publishing research that shows a negative result: “We were trying to show this, we didn’t.” The study design is valid, and it’s good for us to know such-and-such doesn’t have a positive effect. But it’s hard to get funding or published for producing that kind of result.

Find out more about our guest today,
Alwyn Cosgrove:

Alwyn’s Private Facebook Group

This is where the action is!


Take your fitness business to the next level at Results Fitness University.


Alwyn’s blog. Not used much!

Alwyn’s Cosgrove on T-Nation

Scott referred to it as a “treasure trove.”