How to identify and fix common nutritional errors

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John Romaniello is a man you should listen to. Not only is he a world-respected strength coach, fat-loss expert and fitness model, he’s also head of Arnold Schwarzenegger’s fitness advisory board – and any man with Arnie’s respect knows a thing or two about building muscle. His secret? Optimising a client’s hormones so their body is primed to stay lean 24 hours a day. His latest client? You. 

He believes there are two basic categories of men: those who are taking care of their bodies and those who aren’t. You may be in the latter group even if you think you’re in the former – common mistakes include training too much and not sleeping or eating enough. Here’s how to identify your errors and fix them. 

Eat big

The biggest thing to fix is nutrition. For most guys this means lowering carbs, increasing protein and increasing fat. Saturated fat has been demonised, but it isn’t bad if you’re getting it from the right sources – steaks, eggs and bacon are all recommended and, luckily, delicious.

Above all, make sure your diet and training are in alignment. I see a lot of guys who are working out to get big but eating as if they want to get small. If you’re putting in the hours at the gym, make sure you eat enough to recover. You can do two workouts a day without overtraining – but only if you eat enough. 

Eat by numbers

I’ve experimented with fasting and found it can be a good way to lose fat while maintaining muscle and keep your hormone levels in balance. The 5:2 diet is OK, but there are more sophisticated methods of fasting. One I’ve had success with is 16:8, which means keeping all your eating within an eight-hour window each day. 

Cheat occasionally

If you’re using up more calories than you’re taking in (known as calorie deficit), your levels of leptin – a key hormone for regulating energy uptake and expenditure – will drop, slowing your metabolic rate and making it tougher to lose fat. Planned cheat meals, typically once a week, will help to regulate leptin and get things working normally again. There’s also a psychological benefit to knowing you’ll be able to take days off from your diet, eat what you want and not get fat. 

Know your chronotype

Sleep is the toughest thing for most people to address, but it shouldn’t be. Some people function well getting up early in the morning, others can handle staying up late better. This is a reflection of when their hormones are optimised for activity, or their chronotype. Figure out yours and make sure you’re getting enough quality sleep when you need it. If you’re in the habit of dicking around for an hour before bed, watching pointless TV and surfing the internet, stop – just go to bed earlier. If you need something to do, try reading fiction before bed to relax your mind. 

Reap the rewards

The point of this advice isn’t just to look good – it’s to be the best version of yourself. Put a little planning into your work in the gym, kitchen and bedroom and that’s what you’ll be, so you can ejoy your life more. 

Cheating: the system Here are Romaniello’s rules  for a successful cheat day 

1. Don’t gorge

You can eat what you want, but stop before you’re stuffed. Don’t continue until you’re ready to throw up. 

2. Buy on the day

Buy your cheat foods on the day, then throw away any leftovers when the day’s over. If it’s there, you’ll eat it. 

3. Eat what you want

If you don’t want to eat junk food, you don’t have to – just eat more of the things you like, even if that’s veg.

4. Have fun

Remember: no guilt. This is a dieting strategy and if you’re following all the rules, it’ll help you to burn fat. 

Coach Staff

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