Today I’m weighing in on 5 of the most frequently asked questions I receive as a personal trainer. These questions have been posed to me by both the gym-newbie as well as the more seasoned member. I figured I’d share a few initial thoughts on each of these questions, but please understand that this advice could change depending on your specific goals or situation. Alright, let’s dive in…
FAQ #1 – How quickly can I lose the weight?
Look, I get it, the process of weight loss, or more specifically, the process of losing body fat, can be slow and tedious. And while I’d love to tell you about a secret formula that will shed those unwanted lbs instantly, the truth is…that formula doesn’t exist. And even if it did, slow and steady will always win the race to sustainable fat-loss. Now, I’ve shared my thoughts regarding the scale extensively here, but I understand wanting some sort of metric that will allow you to track your progress.
If you’re one whose emotions will not be tempered by what the scale reads, the sweet spot to aim for is to lose 1-2 pounds per week. Now don’t get too caught up in the rigidity of that statement – you’ll do better to consider averages. Say you come out of the gate on a new fitness/dietary routine and drop 5lbs in the first week, 0 in the second, and 1 more in the third – that all averages out to you losing 2lbs per week. If the scale is consistently reflecting that you are dropping more than that – check in with yourself. Is the new program too extreme? Are you feeling over worked? Over tired? Like you’re depriving yourself to sustenance? Answered “no” to all of those questions? Great – toss me out like the baby with the bathwater. Just be sure to keep checking in with yourself and adjusting as time progresses. Losing less than 1-2lbs per week? Well that’s a trickier demon. Again, check in with yourself – is your new program too easy, have you been honest with your nutrition?
Feel like you’re doing everything right and the scale is not budging? Maybe put the scale away and try a few other other means of measuring progress. Look to circumference measurements, the way your clothes fit, how you’re doing in your fitness classes/routine, or even body fat calipers. These results don’t prove as linear; therefore, I don’t have an exact timetable for you to shoot for, but measuring progress through one of these alternative-to-the-scale-options is damn near guaranteed to be more up-lifting day to day.
Convinced the reason the scale isn’t moving is something more? Reach out to me via my contact page – I’d be happy to offer further assistance.
FAQ #2 – How fast can I put on muscle?
If you’ve ever tried to lose weight and know how slow and tedious that process can be…well, brace yourself…because putting on muscle becomes even more of a commitment. Now there is a variance here – some people put on muscle a little easier than others (thanks genetics); however, speaking to averages, it’s a good idea to aim to gain 1-2lbs of muscle per month. To really claim those gainz, be sure you’re working with a well written program, crushing it in the gym, and eating enough post workout – a point which oddly enough leads us perfectly into…
FAQ #3 (Part A) – What should I eat AFTER my workout?
Well…the specifics to this answer ultimately depend on your goals; however, post-workout serves as an opportune time to optimize carbs and lean proteins for pretty much everyone. Whether your goal is fat loss, muscle gain, or even better performance during workouts, focusing on getting your carbs in during the hour following your workout insures that the nutrients go to fuel your muscles for repair, rather than be stored as energy for later (in the form of body fat).
Want some inspiration for your post workout meals? Check out my Instagram page to take a look at what I’m eating 😉
FAQ #3 (Part B) – What should I eat BEFORE my workout?
This question is usually partnered with, “should I be drinking a pre-workout shake?” My personal two cents on the matter? Pre-workout formulas are overhyped. There. I said it. Now immediately I can sense some serious “bro” lifters off in Whereverville getting defensive. Look, if pre-workout drinks make or break your workouts…stop using a crutch. No. Sorry. Not what I meant. If pre-workout drinks make or break your workouts, and they don’t cause jitters, tingling of the skin, or a burning sensation, then go for it. Enjoy yourself – I honestly mean it. On the flip side, if you’ve never really used them before, and you’re already getting through your workouts just fine, then go ahead and save yourself the extra $30-$50 per month and skip it.As far as eating before a workout goes…well, it depends on a few factors. I personally don’t enjoy working out on a full stomach, so I actually workout while fasted. Is it the be all answer? No. Does it work for everyone? Of course not. But I feel pretty confident in saying no one enjoys working out on a full belly full of heavy food. So, if you’re someone who thinks working out on an empty stomach will cause nausea or acid reflux – find a little something that will take the edge off without weighing you down. For my clients, I’ve recommended BCAA powders, Kind Bars, Quest Bars, a banana with some almond butter, a couple hardboiled eggs, half an avocado…I think you get the theme. You’re just looking for a small snack that will pack a considerable nutritional punch to see you through the next hour of your workout. Think burping up the taste of eggs will make you sick? Great, don’t have eggs. Truly, just try out a few different options and stick to the one that ultimately works best for you.
FAQ #4 – Why am I more sore 2 days after my workout rather than just one?
Ah DOMS – or rather, Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness. It’s a tricky mistress at times. One day after your tough workout, you’re feeling great, thinking you’re a badass, and then suddenly, BAM! Sometimes not even a full 24 hours later you’re hobbling around like Quasimodo and using as much upper body strength as possible to drag yourself up the stairs. I feel you. I’ve been there. It’s not a great feeling, and yet, there is a positive to be had…it means you really pushed yourself during your workout.
What is happening during all of this soreness and stiffness is that your body is working to repair the muscles that you focused on during your workout. It is working tirelessly sending blood and cells to rebuild the muscles even bigger and stronger than they were before. The bad news? Other than some ibuprofen, drinking plenty of water, and focusing on stretching and foam-rolling, there isn’t much we can do in this scenario other than let the healing process do its thing. The good news? The more consistent you are with your workouts, the less intense DOMS will be. You know what they say – “a squat a day keeps the DOMS away.” 😉 (no one actually says this, I just made it up right now as I typed. Please don’t say this phrase to someone in a gym, they will look at you as though you’re only wearing one shoe.)
Quick medical disclaimer – if the pain does not lessen by the end of day 2 or 3, or if you are noticing discolored urine, please reach out to a medical professional, you may be experiencing something other than DOMS.
FAQ #5 – Should I try cutting out dairy/gluten/potatoes/bananas/etc?
I like to joke that I’ve tried every diet all the way from the Master Cleanse to living Carb Happy (Carb Happy, to my knowledge, is not an actual dietary plan – it’s just how I like to refer to those moments when I’m eating like an asshole). What I have found in my extensive research (re: trying everything once), is that there is not one food that is the utmost form of evil for everyone. Immediately all you vegans, celiacs, and carb haters can return to your seats – I promise I’m not coming to attack you or your way of life.
I personally choose to live gluten and dairy free as much as possible. Am I celiac? I’ve never tested. Am I lactose intolerant? I believe so, but I have no piece of paper to prove it. I simply know, for myself, that my body runs better not having gluten and dairy in my system. Will that work for you? I don’t know. Should you try it? Sure. Why not? I’ve been known to recommend elimination phases such as the Whole30 and even the AutoImmune Protocol (AIP) depending on my client’s symptoms. Do I think either of these should be adopted as a permanent lifestyle? No. Why? Cookies are delicious and are a truly enjoyable part of life from time to time.
I’m sorry to give you a wishy-washy “it depends” answer, but I’m afraid I’m going to have to. You need to find what ultimately works for you. Cutting out any major food group, be it grains, soy, dairy, sugar (etc) will of course initially result in weight loss, but vowing to stay away from it forever will ultimately prove to be a promise impossible to keep.
Got a health or fitness question that wasn’t answered here? Send it my way via the contact form located here. I’d love to do a follow up post and include your questions!