Sunday, November 8, 2009

Squats & Milk

It seems like I've always been either starting a diet, on a diet, or coming off a diet. I'm currently in the "On a diet" part of that cycle.

Now, over the years I've tried most of the diets out there, and if you search this blog you will find other entries on this subject but I decided to immortalize my thoughts on dieting, and weight loss, as well as documenting my weight loss program.

This plan is taken in a large part from Stronglifts 5x5 and the general experiences of 10+ years of trying to lose weight.

Squats & Milk

Let's begin by looking at the way the body uses calories. It should be common knowledge that the body needs calories to function, and that an excess of calories makes us fat. Issues arise, when dieting, when we complicate this. I will use myself as an example, my BMR or Basal metabolic rate is ~3,400 calories. This means if I sat on the couch in a near vegetative state my body would burn 3,400 calories.

This number is important as it forms the base for all of your dieting efforts. If I want to gain weight I need to eat more then my BMR (ignoring exercise) if I want to maintain my weight I eat the calories I need, if I want to lose weight I consume less then my BMR. Still with me? Good!

Your BMR is determined by height, weight, and muscle content. Gain more muscle and your BMR goes up. More on this later!

Ok, let's take a look at a few no-no's.
  1. Starving yourself. It's stupid. If you consume too few calories your body goes into a form of mayday mode, storing all calories as fat, your body then begins to cannibalize muscle. As mentioned earlier muscles require calories, even when at rest. Your body knows this and in a starvation situation your body will get rid of muscle over fat.
  2. Cardio-a-go-go! Some cardio is great, it can jump start weight loss and is great for your heart. However, the miles a day jog slog that people seem to believe is a requirement simply isn't. Running is bad for your joints and does not build the muscle required to raise your BMR, the focal point of your Squats and Milk diet.
  3. Fad Diets, are stupid. Atkins, No-Carb, South Beach, Detox, etc. etc. All they do is over complicate the simple truth that calories in < burned = weight loss.
  4. Pills. There is no magic bullet. Work = weight loss. There is no shortcut.
  5. Treadmills and elliptical, suck. These machines provide no more weight loss benefit then running in place does. Ignore them.
Ok, so let's look at the fundamental process of the Squats and Milk diet.

  1. Determine your BMR.
  2. Download the e-book at
  3. Find a gym, or a weight set.
  4. Decide how many lbs/week you want to lose. A good recommendation is 2.5lbs/week.
  5. Decide your level of cardiovascular exercise. I recommend twice a week for an hour, as for activities, wrestling, Judo, swimming, are all preferred to running. Combat sports like Judo, Boxing, Wresting, BJJ, Kickboxing, Muay Thai are great ways to get a killer workout, learn, and they provide the group atmosphere that makes it easier to stick with it.
Now, we have our BMR (3,400 cal) We have our E-book, and the workout plan in it. We have a weight set, or gym with the necessary free weights, and we have decided to lose 2.5lbs a week, and we have decided on our cardio activity (Judo 2 x week) We are now ready to diet.

I want to lose 2.5 lbs, which means I have to cut 3,500 x 2.5 = 8750 calories per week from my diet. Put another way 1,250 calories per day. BMR - restriction (3,400 - 1,250) = 2,150 calories per day. To break it down even further, I can have 3 700 calorie meals in the course of the day. If I want to eat more, I exercise. If I want to lose more weight, I exercise without replacing the calories.

Now, as I lift weights, as I gain muscle, by BMR goes up. If I do not increase my caloric intake to match I will slowely increase my caloric defecit. This speeds my weight loss, and the weight training insures that my body does not canibalize the muscle I have.

Now, how do I keep track of what I've eaten? I keep a log, a spiral notepad to hand at all times, if it goes in my mouth it gets written down. I keep a running total of what I have eaten, and a plan for what I will eat. The end result is that I come down within a hundred calories of my goal every day.

If I "blow it" and have a bad day it's not a big deal as the plan is to keep a long view, dieting isn't a fast process, and one bad day will not ruin your diet. In fact, it can be liberating to have a hard workout then go out and splurge. Having the workout before helps to reduce the severity of the splurge, but the splurge is good for the soul. Just make sure it's an occasional splurge.

There you have it, weight lifting, and caloric restriction. the Squats and (Skim) Milk diet.

1 comment:

Adelle Starr said...

A very informative and most excellent entry Chris! I wish you luck on this latest endeavor! Its too bad we are not close enough to train together. I need the motivation of a work out buddy once and a while to make sure I get to the working out part. Although I might do your calculations and see what my calorie intake thing is.