Nutrition is absurdly simple.

Hard, but simple.

By and large, though, we expend our time and resources looking at the wrong things — and the choices we ultimately make come down to which promises the fastest results.

Regrettably, there are no tricks or a “superfood” protocol that can shed body fat and get you from point A to point B lightning fast. But, there are some gold nuggets I’d like to share with you that can have a tremendous effect in terms of your health and body composition.

1. Don’t fear salt

 

We’ve been indoctrinated into this mindset where salt is to be avoided at all cost. Despite the widespread belief salt is bad for you, I’m here to tell you it is in fact a major contributor for optimal health and performance. I say this with a complete understanding it will likely take a couple more years before we erode the vilification of salt.

It’s an essential mineral.

It aids in digestion and regulates your metabolism, increases blood flow and circulation, which then helps deliver nutrients to the body, and helps remove waste.

Conversely, salt restriction can have an adverse effect on your health. You’ll start to run into problems such as: low blood volume, electrolyte imbalance, chronic fatigue, and headaches. These symptoms become more pronounced if you exercise regularly.

Likewise, when you cut out salt from your diet, your body compensates — it pulls minerals from your bones. In turn, you start to run on fumes, which then elevates your heart rate and blood pressure.

So, if you think about it the very thing you’ve been told to restrict is actually causing the problem.

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2. Consider taking a vitamin D supplement

 

It’s been well documented low levels of vitamin D poses a real risk to your health. Granted, it may not be the only micronutrient we want to pay attention to, but it is a major player.

It largely affects your mood, energy, sleep, and can negatively impact your cognitive function and brain health. It’s also worth mentioning that it plays a significant role in your immune system, and is strongly associated with your body’s sensitivity to insulin. In other words, if you’re low in vitamin D chances are carbohydrates aren’t your friend.

Sadly, more than 40 percent of American adults are considered deficient. In addition to sunlight, fatty fish such as tuna and salmon, whole eggs, and dairy are among the best sources.  

For adults, a safe range to supplement is 2,000-4,000IU daily.

3. Everybody should be taking a magnesium supplement

 

Once you have the point above in check, it’s important to outline the inclusion of another micronutrient, magnesium. Sufficient levels of magnesium is required because they aid in the absorption and metabolism of vitamin D.

Recent research suggests that vitamin D alone could possibly be dangerous. Too much leads to a surplus of calcium in the blood, which can cause calcification of the arteries.

Without magnesium taking vitamin D alone is rendered useless. What’s more, low magnesium has been shown to increase blood pressure, and has a negative effect on carbohydrate metabolism. There is also an increased risk of bone fractures, which could also be attributed to low vitamin D.

For males, shoot for 400-450 mg. For females, 300-350 mg. If you choose to go the au naturel route, nuts and leafy vegetables are among the best food sources of magnesium.

4. A brief period of eye-bulging discomfort is what you might need

 

Restrictive methods are completely unwarranted because at the end of the day if you can’t adhere to a plan long-term, then you’re bound to crash at some point. Meanwhile, there are certain individuals who need a degree of restraint in order to get the ball rolling.

I’m all for kicking your feet up and enjoying a savory meal, but for the sake of your progress, a brief period of eye-bulging discomfort is what you might need. Generally, those who are sedentary and have baggage need to consider eliminating, or at the very least, meticulously controlling their guilty pleasures.

Perhaps I’m being a bit harsh, but I’ll tell you what, it’s certainly the best approach to reduce your body fat and unsightly gut.

This strategy may not be sustainable, but for 30-60 days you’d be surprised how far better off you’ll be when you put aside things that are counterproductive. Effectively, you’ll improve your health markers which positively impacts body composition. It’s not punishment. It’s a rite of passage.

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5. Pay close attention to your gut

 

For some odd reason, people perceive gas and bloating as healthy.  This is especially true for those who habitually go on detoxes. Frankly, I find it mildly entertaining.

I hate to break it to you, but the only reason a detox might work well in the beginning is because you’ve eliminated the crap you normally consume.

Gas and bloating is not by any stretch of the imagination, healthy. And, if you’re going straight to the toilet that should already give you an indication that it is anything but. Moreover, continuing to consume foods or stay on a diet that causes gut distress wreaks havoc on your health and performance —  and it makes fat loss extremely difficult.

6. Hydrate first thing in the morning

 

This is one of those “Thank you, Captain Obvious” moments.

And, it’s certainly a drum I keep beating, for good reason. The vast majority are chronically dehydrated. Many disregard and fail to understand the importance of adequate hydration.

Instead of drinking a glass of cold water first thing in the morning, you’re reaching for a cup of coffee. I’m no purists, but the most important things we should give our attention to are often the simplest.

Along with sleep, drinking enough water is the easiest thing you can do to move forward.

Almost everybody has the potential to improve the way they look. Yes, there’s always going to be a massive amount of ignorance in terms of questionable methods — no way around that. But, thankfully, these days it’s become more apparent that placing an emphasis on the little things rather than shiny objects is going to produce long-term significant changes.

The truth is: there’s no magic or wizardry. Show up! As long as there’s a level of progression, good things will happen.

1. Be prepared to hit a few walls

 

It’s much easier to train when you’re feeling high and mighty, but once the dust settles in, it’s an uphill battle. So, be prepared to hit a few walls. It’s going to be difficult, and it’s going to suck. I’ve said many times in the past you can’t get much done if you only work on the days you feel good. Dejection creeping in is perfectly normal. Once all gusto starts to fade, it becomes more pronounced.

Get over it.

For better or for worse, your inner dialogue is always going to be knocking on the door, prompting you to kick your feet up and relax. You’re not going to get anywhere if you always let that get the best of you. Find a compromise — do what you need to do to get better.

2. If you don’t fully understand that calories matter, you’re wasting your time

 

Most people know this, but it bears repeating again. If your diet comprises of piss-poor food quality, there shouldn’t be any confusion as to why you’re not making progress. Period. Stop whining, stop fussing.

All the work you put in the gym is rendered ineffective. If you’re one of those individuals who is banking on more exercise to make up for the incessant need to stuff yourself with pizza, donuts and copious amounts of your favorite cocktail/alcoholic beverage, good luck.

That having been said, no matter how “clean” and wholesome your meals are, you can still experience a negative outcome if you don’t know how much you’re eating. Calories matter, folks. You have to be as equally, if not more, focused outside the gym. The ones who find success are usually the ones who are on point across the board, not just the training.

3. Do what you can to get your protein

 

Protein is the most important variable for building a better body. You’re putting yourself in an extremely difficult situation if you’re not getting enough protein — and deficiencies in daily protein intake are clearly evident across the general population.

General rule of thumb: shoot for at least 1 gram of protein per pound of bodyweight. Make it a goal to have a palm-sized serving or two at every meal. Supplementing with a protein powder or drink is effective as well.

4. Workouts must be centered on getting strong

 

Once you have the points above in check, you’ve already taken a big step forward. In fact, you’ve solved the primary reasons why most people have weight issues. Now when it comes to exercise, absolutely anything sensible will do. Anything.

Just choose whatever program jibes well with you. Workouts that are centered on getting you strong would be the ideal route, though. It’s the most reliable way to trigger sustained muscle growth.

Sample 3-Day Split

Full Body Workout 1 – Monday

1) Squat Variation

2) Overhead Press

3A) Dumbbell Incline Press

3B) TRX Suspension Rows

4) Forward Sled Drag

5) Core Work

Full Body Workout 2 – Wednesday

1) Deadlift

2) Barbell Bench Press

3) 1-Arm Dumbbell Row

4) Dumbbell Hammer Curl w/ Fat Gripz

5) Assault AirBike Reverse Tabata

Workout 3: Circuit – Friday

  1. A) Kettlebell Swings
  2. B) Battle Ropes
  3. C) Sled Push
Sample 4-Day Split

Upper Body Day 1 – Monday

1) Bench Press

2A) 1-Arm Landmine Press

2B) Iso Pull-Up Hold

3A) Bicep Curl Variation

3B) Cable Tricep Pushdown

4) Core Work

Lower Body Day 2 – Tuesday

1) Squat or Deadlift

2) Bulgarian Split Squat

3A) Dumbbell RDL

3B) 1-Leg Hip Thrust

Upper Body Day 4 – Thursday

1) Overhead Press

2A) Seated Cable Row

2B) Dumbbell Lateral Raise

2C) Band Face Pulls

3) Cable Rear Delt Fly

4) Farmer Walk

Lower Body Day 6- Saturday

1) Sled Push/Drag

2A) Stability Ball Leg Curl

2B) Dumbbell or Kettlebell Goblet Squat

3) Core Work

5. Set realistic expectations

 

We’ve been deluded into thinking that we can transform our body rather quickly. We’re either willfully ignorant or blissfully unaware that it takes months, and years of hard work.

It’s one thing to adopt a discipline that pushes you to your limits, it’s another thing to always train to complete failure. A lot of us have no problem being aggressive. The predicament is that we always think we’re behind. As a result, we get carried away with doing more than is needed. 

Fact is, training to the point of exhaustion offers very little sustainability. Moreover, it’s a lagging indicator for progress. You have the freedom to do whatever you want. Truth be told, I have no right to mandate what you can or can’t do. Just be smart about your approach. Going berserker barrage every once awhile is fine, but you also need to ask yourself how is that going affect the following workouts.

Take it one day at time. There’s no rush.

Real talk.

Everyone is busy.

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Some more than others, but we’re all busy. Whatever the case may be, my point is that time is a valuable commodity. So, for most of us we can’t afford to spend every waking moment in the gym. Likewise, it’s impractical to train for an extended period of time in that manner.

In that same breath, though, you’re not going to see any significant changes doing a 5-10 minute ab workout. I’ve spoken on numerous occasions that it’s always better to get in something than nothing at all, but that’s not a compromise…you’re trying to cut corners.

Here are some strategies to get the most out of your training without living in the gym.

1. Choose the appropriate exercises

 

Discard, or at the very least, minimize what I like to call “fluff” exercises. If you’re truly pressed for time, don’t waste it doing lateral raises, bicep curls, and crunches for almost half an hour. It’s really nonsensical when the time you have could be spent doing more productive exercises that will stimulate your entire body.

Don’t get me wrong, there’s certainly more than one way to go about it. An argument could be made if those exercises are applied and distributed appropriately throughout the week. But, for the vast majority it’s highly unlikely that will be the case.

Example

Day 1:

1) Squat Variation: 2 sets x 8 reps, 1 set x 10-12 reps

2) Incline Barbell Bench Press: 3 sets x 6 reps

3) Pull-Ups: 3 sets x Max Reps

4A) Timed Farmer Walks: 3 sets x 1 min

4B) Plank: 3 sets x 30 secs

Day 2:

A) Push-Up Variation x 30sec

B) Face-Pulls x 30sec

C) Bicep Curls x 30sec

As many rounds as possible for 15 min.

Day 3:

1) Deadlift Variation: 4 sets x 4 reps

2) 1-Arm Dumbbell Row: 3 sets x 10 reps

3A) Dumbbell Bench Press: 2 sets x 8 reps, 1 set x 12 reps

3B) Lat Pulldowns: 2 sets x 8 reps, 1 set x 12 reps

4) Lunges: 3 sets x 20 total reps

2. High frequency, short workouts

 

Like I mentioned above, there’s more than way to go about it. On the other end of the spectrum, there are others who react differently where if I suggest looking into the possibility of cutting down their workouts, their response is…

It’s not uncommon for me have differing views with productivity junkies adamant on training 5-6 days a week.

To each their own.

Here’s a solution: you can still train 5-6 days a week. The caveat, though, would be to keep it brief. In other words, high frequency muscle stimulation.

People who train almost damn near everyday make the mistake of going hard every time they hit the gym floor instead of varying their training intensity. There’s only so much damage your body can take before progress starts to slow down…or worse, diminish.

Example

Day 1: Pump Work

Day 2: Main Work (High/Max-Effort)

Day 3: Moderate Intensity

Day 4: Pump Work

Day 5: Moderate Intensity

Day 6: Pump Work

3. Prepping your meals work big time

 

Your nutrition is what ultimately determines the outcome. It is the prime contributor for improvements in both performance and body composition. Regardless of the training method you’re using, it will not offset a horrible diet.

I’ll admit, there’s nothing sexy about prepping your meals.  It’s utterly boring. However, the potential to drop body fat and build muscle at conservative rate goes up when you plan ahead.

I mean come on, why would you leave your progress up to chance like that?

Simply put, it’s worth it to make the investment to designate an allotted time period where you’re planning your meals for the day and/or week.

If not, there are a handful of meal prep services in the market.

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4. Get off your ass

 

Last week, I stopped by the mall to go pick up a few things for Christmas. As you know, trying to find parking can be a complete hassle during the holiday season. So, rather than park right in front where everybody goes, I purposely parked towards the end where hardly anybody goes to.

It served as an opportunity for me to get in more movement, and save me the headache of having to find parking. It turned out to be a ten minute walk.

Little things like this make a huge difference. Instead of taking the escalator, walk up the stairs. If you have a desk job, stand up every now and then. After your meals, go for a walk.

The more movement, the better. Don’t just rely on what you do in the gym.

 

Maximize your training and get a head start on 2018 with my new training resource, Assault.

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