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Are you doing everything right but still not seeing progress on the scale?

If you’re eating in a calorie deficit, training hard, and still not losing weight, don’t worry—you’re not alone. And more importantly, there are solutions.

In this episode, I talk with Harry Barnes, who not only has 12 years of experience helping clients break through fat loss plateaus, but has been working with Legion’s One-on-One Coaching since its start in 2015, and now oversees a team of nearly 20 coaches as Legion’s Lead Coach.

Harry’s problem-solving approach offers a fresh perspective on weight loss that prioritizes flexibility, self-awareness, and personal responsibility.

In this interview, you’ll learn . . .

  • Why personalized problem solving is more important than generic meal plans for fat loss
  • How to evaluate your entire lifestyle to identify subtle issues impeding your progress
  • Strategies for breaking through plateaus by optimizing nutrition, training, and cardio
  • Signs you might be overreaching in your training and how to dial it back
  • When and how to use diet breaks to mitigate negative symptoms during prolonged cutting
  • How to find a sustainable fat loss approach that aligns with your preferences and lifestyle
  • And more . . .

So, if you want to learn how to finally break through those pesky fat loss plateaus and achieve sustainable results, click the play button now!


(0:00) Please leave a review of the show wherever you listen to podcasts and make sure to subscribe!

(3:36) My free meal planning tool:

(05:43) How do you troubleshoot a fat loss plateau and identify the obstacles causing it?

(06:56) What are the most common obstacles that lead to fat loss plateaus?

(12:22) Why does coaching need to go beyond just providing a meal plan and training program?

(19:14) Is stress drinking a common barrier to successful fat loss?

(21:20) What are effective strategies for managing stress?

(23:28) If stress isn’t the issue, what’s the next most common culprit behind stalled fat loss?

(28:46) Is it better to increase physical activity or decrease food intake to break through a plateau?

(30:39) Please share the podcast with a friend!

(31:16) Can you share examples of how you’ve helped clients break through their fat loss plateaus?

(34:12) Have you noticed any patterns or different types of people when it comes to fat loss struggles?

(37:17) What’s your approach to incorporating cardio for fat loss?

(39:55) How much cardio, particularly high-intensity, is too much? Is there an upper limit?

(44:21) What size adjustments do you typically make in terms of energy balance to break a plateau?

(46:30) How can someone develop a problem-solving mindset for their fat loss journey?

(48:04) Why is taking personal responsibility crucial for overcoming obstacles?

(51:49) What are the signs that you might be overtraining or pushing yourself too hard?

(54:02) How can you tell if your recovery is worsening during a fat loss phase?

(55:51) Do you usually make adjustments to lifting or cardio when recovery suffers?

(56:45) When is the right time to consider reverse dieting?

(1:01:17) In your experience, has reverse dieting been a useful tool for fat loss?

(1:04:15) What role do diet breaks play in a successful fat loss plan?

(1:13:44) What does success look like when it comes to sustainable fat loss?

Mentioned on the Show:

Legion One-on-One Coaching:

Want a free meal planning tool that figures out your calories, macros, and micros, and allows you to create custom meal plans for cutting, lean gaining, and maintaining in under 5 minutes? Go to and download the tool for free!

What did you think of this episode? Have anything else to share? Let me know in the comments below!


Mike: Howdy howdy there, this is Muscle for Life and I am your host Mike Matthews. Thank you for joining me today for a new episode on troubleshooting weight loss. So if you are cutting and you feel like you are doing at least the most important things, Mostly right, most of the time, but you’re not seeing progress.

This episode is going to help you, and if you are not currently cutting, but you have experienced that in the past, And you never got it fully resolved. You never got it fully figured out. Maybe you actually reached your body composition goal through a brute force, maybe by dramatically increasing exercise or dramatically decreasing calories, if the period of plateau that you experienced left you a little bit puzzled, and a little bit unsure of what else you could possibly do in the future if you were to experience something like that again, then this episode is for you as well. And if you’ve never experienced a weight loss plateau, and you are going to stick with this fitness thing for a while, this episode is for you too, because you will. Eventually, everybody experiences weight loss plateaus, and they can be Mysterious.

And so all of that broadly is what you are going to be learning about in today’s episode. It’s going to be a practical focus on troubleshooting the most common mistakes that people unwittingly make when cutting, the most common obstacles that prevent people from achieving their fat loss goals. And you are going to be hearing mostly from my guest, Harry Barnes, who 10 years of coaching experience, helping people break through fat loss plateaus, but he’s also the head of coaching for my sports nutrition company, legions one on one coaching program.

And he’s been in that position since we launched it back in 2015. And he helps run a team of nearly 20 coaches. that have worked now with thousands of people of all ages, all circumstances and many different preferences, many different goals. We’ve seen a lot over the years and Harry has been there in the trenches the entire time.

And so as you will see in this episode, Harry not only has a good understanding of the science of weight loss, he also understands the art of it. And by that, I mean, The practicalities. He has a very pragmatic perspective and approach because sometimes what is theoretically optimal, which you could find in research, is practically suboptimal because, for example, Someone you’re working with is not going to be able to stick to that theoretically optimal approach.

And so you have to be able to find the right balance of compromises. That allow that person to actually reach their goal. And then that person’s basket of compromises may not work for the next person that you are working with. For that person, you have to tweak the dials in different ways and so on and so on.

And again, Harry has been doing this for a long time. And in this episode, he is going to share some of the biggest insights he has learned along the way. Before we get started, how would you like a free meal planning tool that figures out your calories, your macros, even your micros, and then allows you to create 100 percent custom meal plans for cutting, lean gaining, or maintaining in under 5 minutes?

Well, all you got to do is go to buylegion. com slash meal plan, BUYLEGION. COM slash meal plan and download the tool. And if I may say this tool really is fantastic. My team and I spent over six months on this thing working with an Excel wizard and inferior versions of this are often sold for 50, 60, even a hundred dollars or you have to download an app and pay every month or sign up for a weight loss service and pay every month, 50, even 60 a month for what is essentially in this free tool. So if you are struggling to improve your body composition, if you are struggling to lose fat or gain muscle, the right meal plan can change everything. Everything. Dieting can go from feeling like running in the sand in a sandstorm to riding a bike on a breezy day down a hill.

So again, if you want my free meal planning tool, go to buylegion. com slash mealplan, buylegion. com slash mealplan, enter your email address and you will get instant access. Hey, Harry, thanks for taking some time to come and talk with me and the listeners. Yeah, no problem. How’s it going? Pretty good. Is this, is this our first, this is our first interview, I think, right?

Harry: Yeah. So I know obviously chat in between, but I don’t think we’ve kind of formally sat down and gone through.

Mike: Yeah, formal interview. I mean, we’ve talked about many things over the years with formal interview. Well, Well, cool. I’m glad. I’m glad that I think Armi brought this up. So thanks. Thanks to Armi for the idea. Because when you brought it up, I was, yeah, that is a good idea. One having you on the podcast is a good idea. And two, this is a good idea for the topic. So I’m looking forward to getting into it. And for people listening, the topic is going to be I guess you could say broadly troubleshooting fat loss. So let me just give kind of the circumstances and then I’m going to turn it over to you, Harry.

So let’s talk to people. Let’s talk to people who generally know what they’re supposed to do. They understand energy balance, they understand macronutrient balance, they don’t have any delusions about what it takes to lose fat. And they are dieting. They’re trying to lose fat. Maybe they’ve had some success and then now they’re not or maybe this is in the beginning and they haven’t really even been able to achieve much success yet despite they think doing what they’re supposed to do.

So they believe that they are maintaining a consistent calorie deficit ultimately one way or another. However, they’re going about it. They think that they’re doing what they need to do to accomplish that. Yet, they’re not getting the results that they want. How do you go about troubleshooting this with clients?

Because you see this regularly in your work and You’ve seen it. I’m guessing hundreds and hundreds of times over the years. Yeah, or thousands. Yeah, exactly.

Harry: Yeah. So pretty much everyone, especially when it comes to fat loss, pretty much everyone who comes into the coaching service or a chat. See one to one.

When you look at that, yeah. Typical week, typical month, there’s probably one or two big things that’s usually holding them back. Something very specific like the stress eating after work a few times per week. So the main thing before, like it is important of course to go through like good program design, make sure they understand, you know, how energy balance works, getting this lifting plan in place, daily activity.

But once that’s set in place, which is people can do quite straightforwardly with the blog and books and so forth. Thank you for watching. Like the main couple of things that are tripping them up and kind of working backwards from. So if, for instance, someone is, let’s say stress eating, I can work two or three days for a week and it’s quite significant enough where it’s putting a couple of thousand calories in excess two, three, four days a week.

I would look at something like that. I think that’s going to be the biggest ROI for this person if they can get that in check and that goal is to lose 30 pounds. You might get 20, 25 pounds off just getting that one thing in place and working once you’ve identified what that one thing is or two things, then usually working upstream.

So if someone gets through, you can almost imagine it in real time. If you put yourself in the position of that person’s position, they would walk through the door, stressy for however long and not feel great. And then probably rinse your feet a few times a week. So we’d look at that instance. As hey, I’m overeating pretty dramatically at 6 p.

m. a couple of times a week. What’s happening the 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 hours leading up to that? And then it’s going to be looking at it in detail, probably more detail than They may be comfortable asking themselves first and reflecting on it. And it might be things like I’m, you know, not setting any boundaries at work and what’s different in a break and then just grazing on crappy food that’s going into the office the afternoon and then driving home in traffic.

And I could probably do with maybe sitting and giving myself 10 minute breather before I commute home. And it’s those kinds of. One of one solutions that it’s very tough to find on blog in books and some, there’s no, there’s not gonna be, you know, an article perfectly.

Mike: There’s no SEO value in that article, so no one’s writing the article

Harry: Yeah. It’s hard to like package that up for, for someone. Like how do you create that kind of curated one-on-one solution? Like it’s really, and that’s where kind of like thinking frameworks and problem solving tools to in place where. It’s kind of like the unsexy stuff that no one’s going to Google.

Problem solving frameworks for not overeating after work three days a week. Like, that article doesn’t exist. But that’s where that person will find results. Like, if they can fix that, that could be the thing that they’ve struggled with for a decade and then allows them to get the weight off. It’s usually those kind of things.

Those kind of solutions that is what also has been missing, like, like the, it reminds me of the, the kind of short pitch that you put for the coaching or some of the podcast episodes where it’s like, Hey, you know, imagine the past code, you’ve got a key computer and one of the digits is missing that missing digit.

Isn’t it? It might be something obvious, like I’m not taking the protein, but it is usually something not obvious. Like how do I fix the stress eating? I’ve been struggling with for a long time.

Mike: Yeah. And just for people listening, if you’re not familiar with the analogy. It’s the password on your computer, right?

You have to get it exactly right to get access to the computer. If you have one extra space or if it’s lowercase instead of uppercase or vice versa. It’s one, maybe one character out of 12 or 14 or however many characters are are in your password, and yet it, it’s a binary result. Fail. It’s not. Well, okay, you’ll get access to most of the computer, but not all of it.

It’s no, you know, you’re just denied access. So similarly in especially in weight loss and in fat loss, it can be very binary where you’re doing the most important things you’re doing. Most of them well, but there’s this one thing that you’re really not doing well enough. And unfortunately, that one mistake is enough to deny you access to consistent fat loss.

Harry: Yeah, absolutely. And one of the, I think one of the other skills that, again, I’ve not really seen this anywhere, but it’s maybe just intuition from working with so many people is, Kind of the almost looking like all those skills across a given week, like all the skills one needs of like good organization, but problem solving, like how to be in tune with stress, you can tolerate all these not obvious skills that make or break someone’s results.

As you start digging into this process and looking at where people are screwing it off and like, well, what’s stopping them from getting the results? They might be sometimes those uncomfortable conversations and realizations where, Oh, I am only a two out of 10 advantage of my stress. And getting that in place first and then find it and see what it’s going to take to get to a 3 out of 10, a 4 5.

It’s just not obvious where the solutions are to people. But once you find it and start to get a better understanding of where your skill set is lacking, and then it becomes clearer what the next step is going to be.

Mike: And not to make this a thinly veiled pitch for the coaching service, but this is one of the big things.

I would say probably actually one of the biggest areas of value in it could be our coaching or any coaching that is a high quality coaching service. It’s not giving you a meal plan to follow like that’s fine. That’s good. But like you mentioned, or somebody could just they could just. I go to our website and just read a blog article too and make a meal plan for themselves.

They could even do take that diet quiz we put together and it gets them probably at least 50 percent there to just having a meal plan. Same thing with a training plan. Yes, that’s important. It’s what does it take in terms of. Non obvious habits that often tie into attitudes and beliefs and other kind of subjective psychological emotional elements that come into play that determine whether you can succeed with any meal plan, even the best meal plan that is, that on paper you love, it checks every box for you, and the training plan on paper you love, But as you mentioned, I think it’s just a point worth emphasizing is that to be able to put it all together and to be able to consistently do all of the, all of the tasks that culminate in successfully following a meal plan, which doesn’t mean perfectly, but successfully and successfully following a training plan.

And it, it encompasses, I think. Quite a bit more than many people realize if they’re new to everything that we’re talking about. Do you agree with that?

Harry: Yeah, yeah, it is. Yeah, some of the things you mentioned that it reminds me of like, of course, how you might approach writing on user experience where you’ve got someone who, whether they’re new or experienced, because even experienced people have fallen some of these traps as well.

It’s just a more. Intelligently put together on and off approach that they might fall into like with if I’ve got a client where I’m trying to figure out what they’re struggling with and what’s stopping them from getting results, I would start really broad and just get everything on paper realistically starting with behavior side, like how often do you train?

How much time do you have to prepare food? What does an ideal? Meals on black and paper. What does an ideal training team like? This is usually the first question I speak to people about on their intro call when I’m working with them is my year from now, what does your ideal routine look like day to day is, you know, we can set the, we can set the, it’s kind of like the main point of the start of atomic habits.

Winners and losers have the same goals, the goal in place kind of that doesn’t get us there. It’s figuring out like what you can actually sustain day to day and what it’s going to look. So yeah, with the client, I look at their entire routine, what you’ve got. A good idea, like a rough draft, based on what they told me, get a rough draft in place.

And then during the first couple of weeks, almost again, from a user experience approach, look at it, just every facet of it. Like how is, let’s say they’re going to the gym four days a week. How are they feeling after each workout, which exercises are they enjoying more than others? Which ones don’t feel comfortable?

Are they enjoying training at that time of day? Just going through all these things, which are going to make it stick long term. There’s a client I had recently where he was doing, it’s going to be a good example of someone who falls into, it was almost like an intelligently planned on a rough approach where he’s kind of struggled with the same, say, 20 pound weight loss and weight gain cycle for a long time.

And He had a really good routine in place on paper and everything looked great, but a small shift from, say, three or four really taxing three way exercises every day to one or two three way exercises and a couple of machine exercises, he suddenly felt like half the stress when he left the gym. And it’s, it was just that reflection of like, where is the stress coming from?

And what’s causing you to feel fatigued at the end of the day? And it was just going through each of those variables of this routine, this diet, even outside of that as well, like work stress, is he, again, setting a little break through the day? Is there any Not to get out of that scope, I’m going to start talking about relationship issues, of course, but just seeing if there’s any big picture stuff that’s going on where it’s like screwing up his sleep or his recovery.

And again, just putting, just totally reversing them and putting the building blocks in place to get habits that are going to lead to that ideal routine in 12 months time that’s going to sustain the 20 loss, as opposed to follow a really well laid out plan. Ignore some of those subtle issues like it’s actually a little bit too stressful and then it’s not going to be a crash diet to say that’s a kind of effect that’s going to happen, but it’s like that effect to stretch out over several months where it’s slowly going to fall off again and it’s slowly come back on board.

So, yeah, it’s not obvious to trying to just have a lot of good, a lot of good refrains and ask a lot of good questions about every part of the process as we go. Before I forget, you mentioned about meal planning as well. Again, someone have a good meal plan in place. And some of the questions we may ask them is, just to get them away from looking at it as the goal is to stick to the meal plan, is we’d ask them questions of like, how does, how are you enjoying each meal?

Which ones do you eat more variety? And then we can get to the habits which are going to stick. Like, I can’t have the same breakfast every day forever. I need three options for lunch. I need five options for dinner. I just make sure that again, kind of asking themselves. The right questions and folks know the right things. Let’s go about the process.

Mike: And just to bring this back to again, this theme of, of troubleshooting and just speaking to people listening who may be stuck, stuck in a weight loss plateau. And if they’re, if they haven’t experienced this yet, listener, you will, at some point, if you do this long enough, and if you go through periods of, let’s say, Lean bulking and cutting because you’re building up your physique and now if you’re just if you’re just going to maintain forever then no you’re fine but if you’re gonna if you’re gonna if you’re gonna go through at least several rounds of losing a significant amount of fat, inevitably you will run into weight loss plateaus.

And so the first thing you mentioned was stress eating as a, as just in your experience working with a lot of people as a common obstacle that is a good example of something that in a relatively small amount of time, unfortunately, from a fat loss perspective, you can undo all of your good work.

throughout all the rest of the week. And it’s kind of obnoxious that it’s true, but it is, it just is that way. You know, you’re so good all week and you’re sticking to your plan. And in, in what is cumulatively, maybe it’s 30 minutes. Maybe that’s the time it takes throughout the week, right? So you have like three episodes of you come home and you eat some stuff that.

Maybe it was not on your plan and it put you into a surplus and it was five or ten minutes per session, so to speak. So in the 15 to max 30 minutes a week, you’ve, you’ve completely negated your, your fat loss for the week. And I’m assuming that stress drinking is another one, especially with calorically dense, like maybe wine.

Yeah, it can be. If not, I mean, again, I’m deferring to you here. I’m just thinking with things that I’ve heard many times over the years where it’s. You know, it’s like a joke now where I’ll tell people, just sometimes in the gym, you know, you get to know people and I can think in particular one guy who wants to lose weight and asking me, should I do keto?

Should I do this? Should I do that? Right. And, and in the end I’m like, you know, unfortunately it’s going to, it’s going to mean giving up the wine every day. That, that, that’s realistic because I mean, he was drinking way too much. I was like, you’re just going to, You’re going to have to cut that way back.

And I know that’s what you don’t want to hear, but unfortunately there’s really no way around it.

Harry: So yeah, that’s a good example of, again, where it can be case by case. There’s, there’ll be plenty of people who they can just stop and start it. Okay. And then other people were, you know, clients who do get.

Say 10 percent lean and they can’t diligently just have a hundred calories of wine, but they don’t reach neck. So it’s very case by case and again, asking them what it looks like lean term. And then as we go about those changes, like if that guy, for example, was having, let’s say four glasses of wine several nights a week.

Mike: Yes, correct. You know, it cannot just be like, You know, one serving, maybe not every day, maybe every other day. No, it needs to be, it needs to be like a bottle a day or something.

Harry: Yeah, yeah. There’s, there are the two things that come to mind with whatever, you know, whether it’s alcohol or overeating on the weekend, whatever it is, the kind of five wise approach, which is like an asking tools is in a lot of like coaching courses and so on.

When I, when a client presents them like that, it’s like, Oh, why is that happening? Oh, tell me more about that. Why is the root cause of that happening? And that’s when a few of those layers down, you start to get to, yeah, like I actually freaking hate all my co workers and I’m just 10 out of 10 stressed at the end of the day is now we’re getting some words, like see where some of the adjustments can be.

Mike: And practically speaking, how do you make some of those adjustments? Cause that’s I mean, that, that’s too much stress is a very common problem. Sure. A lot of people listening are dealing with this, even if they’re not dealing with a weight loss plateau. So, so practically speaking, how do you help people mitigate that?

Because that’s a good example. Okay. It’s my coworkers that are giving me all these problems, or maybe it’s going through a, A rough time with a significant other or point being, it’s not like it’s just a, a lever you can pull. Okay. We’ll just turn that off. Just stop in, stop interacting with your coworkers and then you’re fine.

Yeah, there you go. And you’re fine. And we’ll, you’ll be able to, you’ll stop stress eating and you’ll get lean.

Harry: Yes. Yes. Again, it is case by case. A lot of the start of that conversation would be starting clarifying questions, like exploratory questions, same one. Solutions they’ve found useful in the past, seeing what it maybe just strikes them as good instincts, like, ah, this would be an obvious solution, like, there are various options in terms of like, where they’re located in the office, things like that.

And then once you’ve like, brainstormed on a few solutions, pulling them down, going through them and maybe trimming it down to the 1, 2, 3. Solutions that they kind of most want to watch and then if needed, breaking those down a little bit finer until they feel like, yep, that change is the one of those three options that feels the most realistic and.

You know, I’m an eight, nine, 10 out of 10 convoluted, I can make that happen. And then from that, it would be, get that adjustment in place, give it a week, 10 days, whatever the timeframe makes sense to review it for and see what sticks and whether it’s, it kind of goes both ways, whether it’s building a positive habit for someone brand new or trimming away a negative influence.

The same thing is just looking at. Aging it down, smaller, smaller, smaller, and it feels like a 10 outta 10 doable test. And then you’ve almost got the thin end of the wedge. And then, you know what the, the thick end of the wedge looks like. Might be no drinking. The thin end might be three glasses instead of four glasses of the day.

And then it’s like two and a half glasses, two, one and a half one. And just working it up with a frequency and readiness and willingness the client is wanting to do.

Mike: So that’s stress calories, let’s say. And so let’s say that’s not the issue. Again, we’re, we’re stuck on a weight loss or in a weight loss plateau and we’re trying to troubleshoot here and it’s, it’s not stress calories.

What are, what’s another common, if we were to view this as a flow chart, basically, okay, no, it’s not that. Where does this lead to next commonly?

Harry: Yeah, so the kind of main three steps like that process, if it’s a chance with a client agreed that yes, it’s going to be a plateau, the main thing is the first step would be addressed consistency and accuracy across the board that everything starts with the more obvious and go into the subtle things.

So the obvious ones would be weekdays versus weekends. I usually the food sale all relies. The. Using like portions of a total packet when you weigh out meals, are you tracking condiments, coffees, butters, oilers, all those things. Is there any day to day differences in terms of how consistent you are with those measuring tools?

And then maybe a little less obvious might be if you go to a certain restaurant the same day each week, is the way the meal’s prepared obviously different? Is someone else cooking any meals for you at home? Are you chocolate changing between different brands of? Say right. So whatever it is the calories are actually quite different.

All the portions that they present on the nutrition label. So it’d be kind of running the list of those just trying to exhaust everything. And again, asking if it’s to a conversation, asking what they feel some of the more obvious ones might be, or whether they may be being less attentive and diligent than they were a few months ago with tracking and just trying to troubleshoot that.

And then that might be kind of where the end of the line, it’s like, Oh, I’m obviously Having like 200 calories of shrimp butter every day. Okay, that’s the obvious way to start that.

Mike: That’s an easy win. Yeah.

Harry: Yeah. But if all those are okay, then the next step would be kind of present just presenting the options for change.

So you’re kind of taking The personal stuff out of the equation with like stress tolerance vary between different people on paper. And if this was to apply to BLS and CLS routines, it might look like a kind of full list of adjustments would be all the way up to let’s say five lips and days a week, five cardio sessions, and somewhere in like the 10 to 15 K steps per day range, and then all the way down to around BMR and calories that might be the ceiling for all those variables.

So we’d see where they are.

Mike: And just to clarify for people listening, that being the maximum recommended amount of exercise and the minimum, let’s say BMR being the cutoff for minimum recommended calories for, for diet for most people, just trying to give general guidelines because more exercise than that.

Some people Can get away with quite a bit more than that. Maybe not weightlifting. There probably is about a hard cut off of, I would say, seven hours per week, especially if you’re in a deficit. Even if, even if you’re 20 years old and invincible, that, that’s got to be more than that. It’s just going to be a problem.

And and on the cardio side of things, some people for probably psychologically and physical reasons, they can endure more abuse than others, but about five hours probably of each per week is I think a good general guideline. I agree. And then on the BMR. So that’s for people listening. Think of that as the amount of calories that your basal metabolic rate, or you could, it’s not exactly the same as resting metabolic rate, but you’ve maybe I’ve heard resting metabolic rate more often.

And that’s the amount of calories your body burns over 24 hours at rest. So if you were just to basically lie in bed all day, how much energy? Does your body burn? And generally speaking, if you start eating less than that for a long enough period, you are, you’re going to experience more severe side effects.

Some of the stuff associated, negative stuff associated with dieting. So anyway, I didn’t want to interject, just want to clarify for people not sure what that meant. Yeah, sure. So let’s assume they have, yes, their diet is, it is, it’s not the problem and you don’t see any issues there.

Harry: Yeah. So got past that first step.

Consistency, accuracy, especially in the nutrition room. Everything looks great. They’re not missing workouts. Second step would be getting them looking good. And this would also be probably giving me a good amount of time, like solid two weeks Yeah, I’ve been saying water anomalies, but we’re happy with how the data looks and agreed.

Yeah, we’re at a plateau at this point. So moving on to the next step would be seeing what room they’ve got left in each of those areas. So if they’re only doing 4 days per week, and they could do 5, that’s an area for increase. If they’re doing cardio twice a Think about, you know, it’s going to go to three days, four days, five days.

If they’re only walking 3, 000 steps a day, they’ve got a lot of room to increase the daily steps. They might be 300 calories above the BMR. So they’ve got a lot of room. So we’re just there. So the usual options would be on average, I would just look at, you can either add a lifting session or a half a session to a full session.

You can add a cardio workout. You could add a thousand, 2000 steps a day, or you could cut a hundred, 150 calories. And those are kind of the What I would start with is an average range for each of those.

Mike: And do you prefer to start with increasing activity rather than decreasing food, if possible?

Harry: That’s one of those things where on paper you would probably say, yeah, I want to keep as much food as possible, but that’s where I would present those options to them and then what makes sense for you.

Mike: So, so practically speaking, To get to the goal, in your experience, it doesn’t matter so much which way you go, what matters more is that it works for the client and it’s something that they are comfortable with and can stick with.

Harry: Yeah, exactly. And then, at the same time, I wouldn’t kind of intentionally probe towards any, the perception of these changes, but if it seemed like someone was maybe If you’re really worried about 400 calories, then I’m not going to get enough of this.

I’m not going to get enough of that. If there’s anything that seems like you’re majoring in the minors when everything else has been checked, like the protein’s fine, the fruit and veggies fine, we might unpack that and make sure they’re not overly stressed about any of those adjustments. And we can just make sure that we’re filling any kind of blanks in their knowledge as we go.

But for the most part, I would be presenting the options, let them have autonomy of the decision and own the decision as well. Like they can. Decide what’s decide what is working well for them. What you enjoy this, it’s not an irreversible decision. Like if they trim that food intake a little bit and they get over that plateau, but they feel like, actually I much prefer eating a little bit more food and I have way more time on the weekend than I realized, then we just switch it.

I’m like, you know, calories back in and make that increase on the activity. It’s then that’d be something where a little mental. It’s the one, it’s the one looking at those adjustments is like irreversible and put a huge amount of stress on it and making the process how it needs to be.

Mike: Hey there. If you are hearing this, you are still listening, which is awesome.

Thank you. And if you are enjoying this podcast, or if you just like my podcast in general, and you are getting at least something out of it, would you mind sharing it with a friend? Or a loved one, or a not so loved one, even, who might want to learn something new. Word of Mouth helps really bigly in growing the show, so if you think of someone who might like this episode, or another one, please do tell them about it.

Before we kinda continue on our flow chart, so to speak, Could you give us a few examples and as many as you think would be worth sharing of just real life examples of how you have applied the stuff that you’ve been talking about with clients to unstick them to get the needle moving again. I just I think it might be helpful for people to hear in real life terms in maybe some different circumstances. How this actually goes.

Harry: Yeah, so the main ones that come to mind are usually, usually around doing deep dives on, it tends to be, usually nutrition adjustment is the way to go for a lot of people because we get the, the training tends to be a little bit more step and forget. So once that’s in place. It’s not super rare that we adjust to training, but it’s often just a lot of things around.

Niggles in the gym, aches and pains, it doesn’t tend to be in relation to fat loss plateaus. A lot of the, like, in the weeds examples tend to be, there’s almost no, like, there’s no one person that comes by right now, but it’s always the same kind of process of, again, that you usually experience kind of approach, but.

Let’s look at, like, how many meals you’re having per day, like, how do you feel after each meal? satiated at certain points in the day at which you feel hungrier? Like, you don’t feel like eating, and you’re kind of just forcing the meal in robotically. And then looking at the upside and downside of that of, there’s always the upside of sticking to a routine and just making it autonomous and just getting the reps in regardless.

And then, at the same time, you’re not doing it to a point where you’re doing a disservice to yourself and making things unenjoyable. So, it usually would go through.

Each meal, look at which ones make the most sense for reducing calories. Like maybe say someone prepares like overnight oats one evening for before work the next day and just looking at like, okay, I have the, this, this fruit and I might have a banana or two in it.

I have a little bit of peanut butter, I have X amount of oats and a scoop of protein powder. Cool. We might look at that meal and say, Okay. We could very simply just take one banana out and maybe a little bit of peanut butter and it’s going to basically be still just as enjoyable, the same preparation time, but it’s going to be that 100, 150 calories less.

Mike: That was my last cut was I just stopped eating the overnight oats. It was, it’s probably about 300 calories. I’m like, cool. I’m going to, I’m going to cut for a little bit. Yeah. Yeah. I guess that’s it. I’m just going to delete that. And there it is. There’s my new meal plan. Yeah.

Harry: There’s my new meal plan.

Voilà. You know, you’ll have having done this for so long, you’ll have such a just inbuilt intuition for that. Whereas, again, someone who’s maybe never done any kind of mindfulness practices on nuts and bolts, nutrition stuff, like deleting breakfast is like, that might be, you know, setting alarm bells off of them.

And then you’re just going to snowball into other stresses.

Mike: Which, which actually is the question I want to ask you. So then out of curiosity, Have you noticed certain patterns where people, they tend to conform to hypes in a sense where you’ll see certain people generally, okay, they follow this pattern of they, they liked what they really prefer is they prefer to have most of their calories early versus later as you have to make that kind of adjustment or whatever.

They, let’s see, they have a hard time controlling themselves when they eat certain types of foods, or maybe it’s just sugar, and it actually is better for them to just leave sugar out altogether, or other such things, where again, people listening might find that they tend to follow one of these patterns as well, and so certain types of adjustments, or at least there are certain factors that could be very important for some people and not matter at all for others.

Harry: Yes. It’s something I try, I try not to almost maybe box, box clients into different avatars or like behavior patterns or expectations just so that I don’t want to go into, let’s say, problem solving something with the client with any kind of heavy bias towards something, or yeah.

Mike: Yeah. I mean, I mean more just kind of retroactively like looking back on it and going, Oh, that’s kind of interesting.

There, there seem to be some patterns here. Not that perfectly predicts future behavior, but yeah

Harry: That would really be it. That would decline. It would be that back and forth of Looking for the like that patterns because then we can start to build solutions around it because we all have a lot of overlap and individually, we’re all like very messy in our own ways, but there is a lot of overlap between people, especially when you take say somebody’s middle aged family life career focused struggling with the weight for about a decade, like There’s going to be a lot of similarities than just the main differences between all those people.

So the same kind of thing again is we’ll have that back and forth and maybe go right back to the start and look at the main one, two pain points that come to us with and look at why those happening over and over again and try and look at maybe both the in the trenches day to day things that again, I’m stressed eating after work, these two or three triggers throughout the afternoon, every day, the things I need to get in check and address.

And then at the same time, just being, if there’s anything, but. Bleeds over everywhere else, because then that might help us see, Oh, I am someone who maybe struggles with all or nothing thinking a lot more than I realized. So just trying to look at maybe the presentation of those like habits or issues that recur and just trying to, again, always those things go, therapists or doctors, but just trying to see where any of those habits and behaviors recur so that you can see that might be.

That same issue I grappled in various other places in their life and that’s something where we can maybe put some preventative measures in place to help them avoid being too all or nothing with it.

Mike: That makes sense. Let me come back to the exercise and to that dial, so to speak. So there’s the frequency, there’s the duration, and then there’s the intensity, particularly with cardio.

People will ask me this, they’ll understand that, okay, so let’s say I’m doing five cardio workouts per week, or maybe even seven if Though the duration and intensity is also, is also calibrated properly, but let’s say they’re going on. I’m doing my five cardio sessions per week. Can I make those sessions longer?

Can I make some of those sessions some sort of high intensity, maybe it’s sprint training or high intensity interval training? How do you. normally approach the cardio in particular.

Harry: Yes, similar to the lifting, like we would start with much that you recommend on podcast books, like a steady mix of mostly moderate intensity, a little bit of hit training through one, two, and then a solid set count each day, which.

As a floor might be 7, 000 steps and ceiling 10, 000. Just make sure you stay in that range most of the time. So that might be a good on paper place to start. So depending on like how much back and forth I’ve had with a client, we might put something like that in place if noted down they have that capacity and willingness on the consultation form.

But then again, when we go through that first conversation before. Diving into those variables. And this again, applies to nutrition and training the cardio. It can be very easy to kind of jump into those burrows, rabbit holes of less discussed, like the frequency, the duration, like which exercises you enjoy before all of that, I would probably go level above and look at some of the broader behavior change things of what do you enjoy the most?

Like, what have you stuck to the most in the past? It’s realistically routine. Other E. Like habits or things on the edges of your training sessions that make it easier or harder to get in and then relating that to that goal, like if you have to say. A more advanced lifter who, again, these may be been following BLS for 5, 6, 7 years, and they want to cut.

It might be in a position where they suddenly have a very stressful job or personal circumstances have changed and maybe just fluidly following BLS where. They can kind of just go in and enjoy getting the pump, keep the intensity a little bit lower. Might be perfect for them. So jumping into the weeds of like exercise, flexion and so forth for that person might be, again, that might almost be majoring in minus even though on paper for pretty much everyone, those things are important.

So there’s a little bit. A little bit of investigative work right at the very top. And then it would go through, like, cranking those dials up and down according to what makes sense for them.

Mike: And with the cardio and with the higher intensity stuff in particular, again, I’m just thinking with the, the questions that I often get asked, how much if somebody, you said, if they want to do it.

And so first I wanted to follow up on that because I mean, there was a time going all the way back to at least the first edition of bigger than you’re stronger for sure. I think the second edition where I was pretty bullish on high intensity interval training, some of the research that. That had that was making the rounds at the time looked very promising that you didn’t just have the additional calorie burning, but you also had some other mechanistic stuff going on that meant you were burning even more body fat in those workouts and that your post workout body fat burning was higher as well.

And now you fast forward to today and the fourth edition of that book and also of the women’s book. is the, the cardio recommendations are very different, basically in line with what we’re talking about. And unfortunately, even there, I was just recently looking at some research showing that the way that most people do hit training, unfortunately, when you look at the total calorie expenditure, per unit of time, it actually isn’t even that much higher because of the rest intervals.

If you’re in really good cardiovascular shape and you can do long sprints and relatively short rest intervals, then of course, I mean, then yeah, you’re going to, you’re going to burn more calories in 15 minutes of that than 15 minutes of zone two. But if you’re not in great cardiovascular shape and you’re doing relatively short intervals with equal or longer rest periods, then unfortunately, you’re not even, you’re not even getting really additional calorie burning out of it.

And then unfortunately, the other physiological advantages that, that were speculated years ago didn’t pan out. And so that’s not to say that that hit isn’t good or it isn’t useful, but I have heavily deemphasized it in my, not just books, but podcasts and articles, the educational stuff that I continue to pro to produce.

And so anyway, I. with when you’re working with clients and if they want to, to do it, then do you have a ceiling on how much you recommend that they do of high intensity stuff?

Harry: Yeah, general ceiling. I mean, like on paper, it would be some of the lifting of like, if you’re doing a lot of lifting a couple hours a week, max on top of that, like the old BLS approach where max will do four or five days It can work up to maybe 20 to 30 minutes of in sports on the back end of each of those sessions.

If that’s what they’re, what they’re aiming for. The usual approach though is looking at, especially with most clients we work with, the lifting of course is where the specific training is. The cardio is more kind of just under the exercise bucket, where it’s not necessarily incremental each week.

Mike: It’s, it’s, it’s the supplement, it’s the supplement of the, yeah, the train, the training is the meal plan.

Harry: Yeah, they always. The only real kind of boxes that we want to tick with the cardio is stay to an amount that’s going to be relatively similar week to week so that you can, you’ve got reliable data when you’re assessing things. Try and get, it’s good to get a mix across the board. Like if you think similar to lifting, like if you can have some, a little bit higher intense work and a good stretch of Reasonably intense stuff and then like the walk on top of it’s nice to, it was good again, be just looking at week to week.

What’s the volume of cardio that suits you in terms of time alongside of lifting? What types of cardio do you enjoy? And then just how’s it going to, and then once that’s in place, just make sure it’s not interfering with anything, it’s not adding too much stress. It’s manageable. It’s enjoyable. It’s easy to slot in alongside the weightlifting.

We have the data then to look at, oh, we’re two months into the program. We have hit a plateau. We’ve done one hour of moderate intensity cardio per week over the weekend. I’ve done two 10 minute HIIT sessions after you’re lifting because you enjoy them. Cool. You’ve done that every week. We can add another small HIIT session if that’s what you want.

So we can increase the steady state or the step count each day.

Mike: And when you’re making these adjustments, how are you looking at it in terms of adjusting energy balance? So, If you’re going to make a food adjustment, how many calories are you pulling out of their total daily caloric intake? If you’re making an exercise adjustment, are you looking to achieve a certain number or range of additional calorie expenditure?

Like, what is enough to get through that plateau and to start losing weight steadily again in your experience?

Harry: Yeah. But for the average person, it’s probably going to be 100 to 150 calories removed from the diet or an extra session, whether it’s lifting or cardio or an extra thousand or so stats per day.

It’s usually just looking at those three or four options and letting them decide based on their circumstances and preferences. And if someone’s, you know, on the smaller side, it’s my, we might cap it 100 calories. If someone’s only eating, you know, a train client who are 100 pounds and this sort of body battle is because they’re very small people.

Mike: Yeah. Or if they’re already like kind of lean and they’re trying to get really lean. Yeah.

Harry: Yeah. I mean, I think that And then this would probably be a decision on their part of I would actually prefer to maybe just cut like 50 to 100 calories and get them walking again. Because then you can start looking at all the questions, which are going to be getting one on one solutions to them where they might start to build up the intuition of, yeah, as I get deeper into a cut, I start to notice my stress.

Yeah. My sensitivity to stress goes up, I prefer doing it outside more, that’s more important to me, so the step count makes more sense than the calving gym. It might even be that we have to make some really nuanced changes that deep where we maybe even reduce the lifting volume a little bit, if that’s how to, if that’s, if they’re not recovering from it, and increase the step count, because that’s the thing that, They feel can kind of just keep going and going without any stress so.

Mike: It’s also a good lifestyle habit. Yeah. Yeah. Just to be in the habit of moving enough outside of the gym is important for overall health and wellness. It’s not just a fat loss intervention.

Harry: Yeah. And internally building that problem solving skillset, you know, people, if you reverse engineer those things, you can apply it to like issues of work and issues with like, you know, you know, maybe eat.

The relationship of my lifestyle with my friends and others, not where I wanted to be, like, what solutions that have been in place, I could do more of this, I could do less of that, I could ask questions, what people want from me, more or less, it’s a good it’s good, yeah, it’s kind of a mental framework for thinking about things.

Mike: And it is a mindset that you have to get into, and sometimes you have to. Will yourself into it. There’s two very clearly distinguished mindsets. You have the problem making mindset and you have the problem solving mindset. And sometimes we all get stuck. In the problem making mindset where we are not even, if we’re going to be honest with ourselves, we’re not even really trying to find a solution.

We’re still just kind of wallowing in the problem.

Harry: Hmm. But yeah, that is, I think that’s where some of the almost vulnerability coaching happens where, when you’re talking to someone, you’re looking at, again, going back to that same example, maybe someone who’s stress eating after work and You know, they’ve been thinking for years, like, oh, if this person wasn’t at work, that person wasn’t at work, or if I didn’t have a boss, the boss is going to do these things, and it’s like, it takes a long time to make that shift of like, maybe this is on me to fix.

Mike: Yeah, and that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s the person’s fault, too. I think fault, that word, has the wrong connotations. It’s their, you could say it’s on them, or it’s their responsibility to do something about it, even if it’s not their fault, per se, that, I mean, in, in some cases, it is our fault, sometimes we make bad decisions, we do stupid things that create stupid problems, and then we have to fix them, okay, fine, that’s our fault, but other times it’s not so, Cut and dried what we find ourself in situations that seemed out of our control and Any anyone and the most objective observer would be hard pressed to explain why it’s our quote unquote fault and that’s okay I think it’s important though to just to understand that if you say okay, it’s my responsibility To fix this.

I’m gonna do something to fix this That isn’t also saying, Oh, well, this is all my fault and I’m wrong because of, you know, the outcome and at just a mindset point that I personally have found helpful in dealing with difficult situations.

Harry: Yeah. Yes. It seems small bus as well as really significant shifts that can overhaul the trajectory of someone’s willingness to change as they go through all these uncomfortable shifts.

And it does present an opportunity for, you know, improving. I still talk how fairly or unfairly judge ourselves because of those decisions and as a result, the decisions we make thereafter, it does present like, you know, there’s always going to be that initial discomfort of realizing, not necessarily realizing, but thinking over, like, what could I have done better here? What could I have done better there?

Mike: Which I think that’s useful too, personally. I mean, I, I am a big advocate of thinking that way again, without blame. Or fault or guilt, but objectively assessing a situation and asking. So, did I do something to contribute to this situation? Even if it is in an oblique way, it’s indirect, could I have done something differently that maybe would have improved the outcome, would have averted some element of whatever happened?

And then what lessons or what lesson can I learn from this? What’s something I can take away from this to avoid getting myself into the same situation again? Again, and I think that’s a useful just a useful process to, to work through when I mean, I find it when I get an outcome that I didn’t want and just to take a little bit of time and to think through those things again, without blame, without fault and then move on.

Harry: Again, kind of going back to one of the questions you asked before about the. If there’s any maybe recurring themes or clients or similar trends, but it’s something where someone can identify something that’s come up over and over again. And once they go through that initial, maybe internal discomfort and start to kind of ride the wave and not maybe allow themselves to get pulled into those rabbit holes of like snowballing or negative self talk or so on and start to move towards being objective.

It’s actually actually life changing for a lot of people when they realize that like, Oh, maybe I’m a little bit more all or nothing with some of my. Behaviors. And if I just acted a little bit more in the middle of some of these things, I would have a outcome there and be out from there and it would be, you know, not as, you know, maybe not quite as a dramatic shift as a step by just a couple of smaller, just one boonday today could be that missing digit on the password that unlocks that binary difference, the 5 percent shift.

Mike: I want to come back to something you mentioned, which is, You didn’t say the word overtraining, but many people, when they hear you or anyone talk about when you’re doing too much, and then they think of that as overtraining, which if we look to scientific literature, overtraining syndrome is much harder to achieve than many people think.

However, You can push things too far, especially when you’re dieting and you can experience symptoms, I guess you could say, that are related to overtraining you. There’s an imbalance in terms of stress and recovery that certainly can happen. And practically speaking, what does that usually look like in clients?

What are the symptoms? What are the red flags that when you start seeing these things, you know that, okay, this is what we’re probably redlining or we’re getting close to it. And then. What works, practically speaking, I want to throw something else out there just because it’s related. A lot of people talk about it.

It’s still kind of controversial. Reverse dieting, because many people would say, Oh, yeah, well, you just need to reverse diet. Like, here are the things that you’re going to share. Signs that you’re probably doing too much and you should just reverse diet. So, you can comment on that as well as you are answering.

Harry: Yeah. Just to look at some of the big warning signs around overtrade or kind of issues that people fall into with that, it gives them, we would, it kind of depends on where a coach is with a client or a client service parameter is likely to have done as to what the issue is going to be. So when we have a client on the program, we might put them on a standard routine and some BLST last routine and.

Who might find as we go that the training actually shows up differently, like as we get stronger, they might need to do a little bit less barbell work and barbell on the front end, machines on the back end. Some of those things may just interact and iterate through them as they come up.

Mike: And what would occur to, to make you think of that?

What feedback are you getting?

Harry: Yeah, things like several weeks of training consistency, but then diet compliance is slowly slipping off. Recovery is slowly worsening.

Mike: And, and when you say recovery is worsening, sorry to inject, I just want to, I want to make sure I get my, get these questions so I don’t just forget them.

But when, when you say recovery is worsening, what does that look like specifically? Because again, if people are new to this, they don’t, They don’t really know, like, how am I recovered? I don’t know. My muscles are sore. Is that good? Is that bad? You know?

Harry: Yeah. Yeah. If you find that the soreness is probably worsening week to week, even though the training is very stable, if you find that your mood is generally getting a little bit worse, if sleep isn’t as, isn’t as consistent, general stress levels are going to go, irritability is worse, general mood and outlook is a little bit, a little bit dampened, any of those, and it might vary person to person.

If you over train, your sleep might be terrible by over training, right? You may just get really stiff joints for instance, like it can vary person to person.

Mike: Yeah, joints were always a thing for me. Yeah. My joints would just, it wouldn’t feel good when I’m working out. Everything would just feel kind of stiff in between workouts.

Harry: Yeah. So we kind of look at those and then see, you know, like the training on paper was great. So it then be looking at some of the simple adjustments around it of, you know, we’ve got a DLO planned after 10 weeks, let’s maybe do one every six weeks instead until we get to our goal. Again, looking at individual workouts, you might find for one person, a back workout for instance, might look like bad or dead worse.

Barbell row weighted pull ups, just switching, maybe keep the barbell deadlift in place, and then maybe doing a cable row pull down. It’s going to be 90 percent as effective, but it might be half the stress for some people, because it’s a little bit less freeway work, a little bit less overall load. So yeah, just some backtracking and see if there’s any subtle changes that not allow that stress to accrue.

It’s probably one we’d look at once some of those symptoms start to kick in.

Mike: And are the adjustments normally made to the weightlifting rather than the cardio? And is that more often the culprit if the excess stress is coming from the exercise?

Harry: Probably. I would call, I would almost say like the HIIT training is doing high intensity cardio and lifting. I would probably look at that in the same bracket because it’s really the same on paper. It’s kind of both pushing close to failure and much higher intensity and then the lower, lower intensity work is generally much easier to recover from.

Mike: Especially if the HIT training, I’m sure you don’t recommend this, but if people insist on doing something that is high impact, sprinting on a hard surface, for example.

Harry: Yeah, like box jumps, burpees, Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. And third, I would pull into the looping as well, but to, to answer the second one

Mike: And what about reverse Yeah, exactly. What about Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. Yeah.

Harry: It’s, it’s more, when I say reverse, I think I kind of always use it as a loose term of just like coming out of a deficit back to maintenance.

Like some people, they feel fine to jump right up. Some people like the traditional approach of going with the increments. Some people like to go somewhere in between. It really, again, comes down to almost looking good. I’ve come back and forth to the clients to get their tape on it and what we’ve done in the past, but you might find that one person has finished a very lengthy cut and they’re maybe just generally quite relaxed.

They’re not, you know, but think much of the process. They’re very much just like someone else to do, happy to go about it. They don’t have tons of other stresses going on that makes this difficult for me. And. They can just like, Oh, I can just jump straight back to maintenance, just the training volume down a little bit.

And if the scale goes up a couple of pounds, I’m cool with that. Other people may find that even if it’s not necessarily essential, they would just feel better working up in maybe if there are 700 calorie deficit, a hundred or 50 ish calorie jumps, three or four of those might see them better.

Mike: So in my experience over the years, many women have preferred that just because they didn’t want to see a big jump on the scale.

Even though they understood, they knew what they were doing, and it just was a matter of personal preference, and, and I think that’s a perfectly valid reason to do it that way.

Harry: Yeah, I also wonder if this is one that, you know, maybe, even if we don’t articulate it, or, I’m going to sort of think it at the time, like, There might be several reasons we’re in tune with us, like, just knowing that I know my compliance is going to be better if I do it steady.

I don’t need to explain it to myself. I just feel it.

Mike: That’s another good point too. Some people, I’m just thinking over the years, answering many emails from people and seeing a lot of different situations and that was definitely It seemed to be one of those things, just like how some people I had mentioned earlier, they find that they have trouble controlling their food intake with certain kinds of foods.

You had mentioned earlier, a hundred calories of wine. Some people can do that and that they’re totally fine with that and they’re happy and they generally don’t drink any more than that. And other people. A hundred calories of wine. I would liken that to, I don’t drink, but I can relate to it with ice cream for me.

A hundred calories of ice cream. It’s not that I’m going to spiral out of control and eat the whole pint, but it’s so unsatisfying. I just wouldn’t even bother if I’m going to eat ice cream and I want to get satisfied. At least half of the pint has to be eaten or I’m just completely unsatisfied. So if it’s only a hundred calories, I’m going to go for like dark chocolate because at least I know I find that satisfying, right?

And so anyway, there, there are how people can find that for them. They either should completely avoid certain things like chips, for example, 100 calories of chips. Nope, doesn’t work for me. I just don’t want to even have chips in my pantry because I like them too much. And I just know that it’s going to be a problem.

Well, then I think similarly, and again, I’ve seen this to your point of people who they’re done cutting, or they’re going to be taking a break. And they know that if they add those 500 or 700 calories to their meal plan, It’s just, it’s going to include foods that maybe they’re going to struggle to control their, they just, as you said, they feel more comfortable with being able to stick to a plan of gradually working their calories back up rather than just adding a large number of calories that may, may increase hunger, for example.

I mean, that’s how it’s always been for me. Ironically, I experience more hunger. When I’m lean bulking than when I’m cutting, even if I’ve been cutting for a couple of months in the past, you know, I’ve gotten pretty lean for photo shoots and so forth. Generally speaking, more hunger, lean bulking, especially leading up to meals where I actually really get hungry when I’m lean bulking leading up to a meal.

Whereas if I’m cutting or maintaining, eh, not really. Maybe I get a little bit of, I feel a little bit of hunger here and there. And so just generally related to kind of this personalization theme of this talk is it’s important to, to know how you respond to things, even if in the case of reverse dieting, the most recent scientific literature, I would say it, it more or less debunks, I think some of the claims that have been made about reverse dieting over the last several years implying that it’s superior to just raising calories to maintenance or that you can even use it to kind of supercharge your metabolism. Do you agree with that? Do you like practically speaking, working with people, have you found any form of reverse dieting useful? And let’s exclude just bringing your calories back to maintenance.

Cause I would say that’s, that’s just bringing your calories back to maintenance. But aside from the people who just prefer. To do it that way. I’m just curious, has it been a useful tool or not really? It’s just for the people who don’t want to increase their calories by large amounts overnight.

Harry: Yeah. I think in the early days, before more of the recent research came out, so people probably just done it.

I mean, just a little more security. I’m like, no, this works.

Mike: Like we put it out of caution. It’s like, it’s not going to hurt.

Harry: Two weeks to maybe not screw up the last six months is probably wise. Let’s just take a little bit longer. Once we got over that and it was like more of a case by case, whatever options suits your approach, really wasn’t, it wasn’t anything major really.

It was probably Again, it kind of just reverts back to that. What is your preference? Like, what does your gut tell you? What feels right for you in terms of pacing? And because again, I think even if we didn’t necessarily go back and force the clients over, like, sure, maybe you’ll get more food and be able to feel a little bit better in the gym sooner.

I guess those things tend to just be more intuition for, especially for people who, if they’re at a point where they’re doing a Reverse diet. They’ve done at least a few weeks and months of this where the, you know, they know the way around the gym, they know the way around the kitchen, they understand how to pace things both in terms of strength training and weight loss and weight gain.

So they’ve got a good intuition of everything. It’s not, it’s often those small upsides of, yeah, I may be able to get a little bit stronger in the gym next month if I just jump straight to maintenance instead of reverse diet doesn’t tend to be, it just doesn’t even tend to necessarily be a topic of conversation is it just becomes more of what suits me with this reverse diet and not, not even necessarily trying to, again, trying to like dig really deep into it or like, you know, fighting against someone if like, I really want to reverse diet cautiously, cautiously is.

Just whatever suits you, like it’s, you know, you’re in the deep end of court, you’re stressed. Like we don’t need to add more complication or friction to this. Like, you know, our brains are just like passing recognition machines. Like it will just do what we’ll just do what feels best. And we have a few options in front of us, whatever’s comfortable.

Let’s go with that. And, you know, I don’t care if it takes an extra 10 days, then it might’ve been doing it the fast way. Let’s just get it done in a way that suits you and again, you take ownership over it. You do it this way this time. If you want to try it a different way next time, great. And then you’ve got your circumstances and preferences.

You’ve got that data. Then if this is how I felt doing it slowly, this is how I felt doing it quickly.

Mike: Makes sense. And last question for you. And that’s diet breaks. And I wanted to bring this up because if you only looked at the scientific literature, You might be a little bit confused because you’re going to find some literature that suggests that it’s very useful, maybe even advantageous to include diet breaks, similar to how you would include deloads.

If you were to, if you were to take a diet period of six months, you can find some research that would suggest that you’re going to get better results with regular diet breaks over those six months than not taking diet breaks. Then you can find research that contradicts that and says, no, you won’t. On average, you actually might get worse results because you’re going to spend less time in a deficit.

So, so, practically speaking, how have you used diet breaks? How useful has that been? How necessary has that been? When might you call for that? Or not?

Harry: Yes. Similar to the overtraining. It’s like looking at when someone’s deficit and the cutting. Aye. I kind of look at things like hunger, fatigue, brain fog, irritability, like I kind of just call them like dieting symptoms like in my head when I’m thinking all these things and looking at them on a one to ten scale and like as the dial cranks up and you know for a lot of people they’re gonna have maybe a two or three ish out of ten hunger a couple of times a day like that’s just before the main meals for instance like you’re just probably gonna have that for the next three months whilst you’ve got them That’s kind of just the reality of it, and we’ll do what we can around it to minimize it.

Some people don’t have any, but that’s maybe just a standard baseline.

Mike: And it’s okay for people to think it’s okay. It’s okay to feel hungry, especially when you’re dieting. It doesn’t mean anything’s wrong.

Harry: Yeah. Opens up the avenue, not to go into a big tangent, opens up the avenue for other things like not reacting to the hunger, knowing it’s okay, testing out different strategies.

Managing stress. But yeah, going through the like dicing symptoms, seeing how much like the training in the gym, how stress and fatigue in the gym might increase over time. Same for those if hunger, irritability, focus, all those things are creeping in the wrong direction in steady increments. Diet break would make sense preventatively.

Like no one, it’s often a bit of a back and Clyde’s, you know, the several meetings were cut to do very well and the ad. Those things are moving in the wrong directions where it makes sense to diet break, it is with some folks to get them on board with the idea of let’s eat and maintenance for a week.

Like I’m doing so well, I don’t want to stop now, but often times they’ll push it that extra 2 or 3 weeks and they just had a diet break there. Those dieting symptoms would have been dialed all the way back to a healthy baseline and they would have been able to push for another 10 weeks. It’s more about French in that case, like always, much like the loads, if you can do a diet break.

Every, somewhere in like the six to 12 week range, whatever it suits to suit someone, it depending on the size of the deficit or the stress is going on in life, just seeing where it makes sense to put that in. Again, just short circuit, that increase of negative symptoms is what what we’ve be looking at.

Mike: And I, I’m sure that you’ve, you, yeah. Well, I know that, you know, you’ve worked with many, I guess you’d say, kind of type A personalities and, and those types of people in particular. I understand. I, I lean that way myself. We can be stubborn about, yeah, bludgeoning our way through. We’ve decided this is what we’re going to do.

And generally speaking, we don’t want to let people or things stop us. And so I do understand that, but as you said, it can be, there’s a point where it can make things harder. Then they need to be, or it can actually become counterproductive because if you build up too much stress, and so you’ve been in a deficit now for a while, you’re training pretty intensely and maybe you should have taken it easier a couple of weeks ago to bring the, let’s just say the overall stress down from, let’s say a seven to a four or something like that.

And now it’s at a nine. That, that same little intervention, that little one week diet break, it may not be enough actually. That may only bring it down to a seven. So now you have to, you actually have to take it easy for two weeks to, to get it down to the four. So you can, so you can go at it for another, you know, a couple of months, or.

Or you don’t do that you just take the let’s say five days at maintenance and maybe you take a deload and okay stress comes from nine to seven and now you’re running into the same problems though three weeks later. And then what? And many people in my experience Again, especially people who are more driven, kind of like tougher masculine type of people.

They then maybe are even more reluctant to address it this second time because it’s only been three weeks and I’m not gonna, I’m not gonna take another diet break. I’m just gonna, I’m just gonna rub some dirt on it and keep going.

Harry: But yeah, in those instances, you would probably look at it again, like the system as a whole, like, is the training plan a little too strenuous?

Is the deficit that’s a little too aggressive? Are there other stresses outside the gym that we can dial back? Yeah, I’m just trying. It’s tough because a lot of, you know, we’ve had hundreds of people who are like very type A and some people can just genuinely grind all the way to the finish line and then be fine.

Other people can grind all the way through, have a horrible bounce back, I don’t know what people are on. The other end of they’ll just keep getting to like the eight to 10 week wall and just bouncing back because because they’re not getting those resting sooner rather than later. So it is tricky, especially because in other areas of the life, it may have worked very well, just to brute forcing things, even if it could have been done a little bit calmer, or more elegantly, if you can brute force it, it’s like, that’s the data that they’ve gotten.

And it’s, I’m just gonna apply that to everything else. And it works in that department. So it should work here as well. So just, it does become a tricky, again, a lot of those tricky things that will come of questioning by reflecting and look at ourselves, like looking at what we’re doing wrong is, I guess, uncomfortable for people at that stage, but that could be where some of those really, really crucial pillars happen.

Some folks who are maybe very type A, we may see them, you know, almost. Instead of making like, you can apply this to say diet quality, where you have people who have a clean eating and they’re going to be a hundred percent on a hundred percent of their diet is from whole foods. Whereas like you can be a hundred percent focused on being 80, 20.

It’s like apply that same kind of type of attitude about like 80, 20 is what perfection looks like. Make that the goal. So I guess it’s a small shift for some people, but it makes a. I think that can be the difference of like, yeah, I’m going to rest. I’m going to rest better than anyone else rests when I’m resting.

Like that’s, that’s how I’m going to be type A about this.

Mike: Yeah, no, I think that’s a great point. And you know, I can relate to that in, I’ve always been in my fitness in particular, The just get it done. If it gets hard, just keep going. And that’s worked fine for me. And some of the, if we’re talking about cutting in the past, none of it was particularly grueling, but could I have made it a little bit more pleasant by, by incorporating a diet break here and there, maybe doing a little bit more deloading.

Yes, but I did it the way I did it. And there, there were no negative circumstances or negative consequences of that. And so If someone, if you’re that kind of person, that’s fine too. If you know that, yeah, you know that physiologically nothing’s wrong, you know, as you said, you have these symptoms and they’re a little bit annoying, but you know that you’re not breaking, you’re not breaking your metabolism.

You’re not losing a bunch of muscle. Like it’s fine. You just don’t feel great and you’d rather just gut it out for another three weeks and be done. Okay, good. Then do it. But again, this is a point of self awareness and knowing that. That isn’t going to then result in a big rebound because you are so sick of controlling your food and you’re so hungry and your sleep is so bad and your mood is so terrible.

That you’re going to undo, you know, six months of work in the following month.

Harry: Yeah. Yeah. And that intensity lever of like being more on a plan for a certain time frame versus not like you can push pull in as you want. And I was coming full circle to the conversation. I haven’t people is. Deciding what things look like long term isn’t, it’s not, we’re not looking at like, what is a perfect day in a year’s time?

It’s like, what is a yearly cycle or a few years look like for you? And for some people, it may be, you know, I’ll just have like a nice maintenance space, you know, say someone’s in your position where they’ve built a lot of muscle, they’ve gotten as lean as they want and. For them, it might be, you know, I have fun just maintaining them for 10 months.

I’ll let myself just kind of eat what I want over the holidays, and then I’ll just do like a six to eight week cut, and that’s when I’ll like crank the intensity up, because I’m choosing to do so. I’m not like succumbing to like the, what feels like an out of control crash diet. It’s like I’m choosing to take the ownership to the, Crank that intensity up.

That’s what I’m going to do. And then I’m going to enjoy it in a way that I enjoy it the time. And I can like paint that picture however I want and, you know, change it, change it whenever I want. As long as I can take ownership and it leads to the outcome I want, most of the behaviors are aligned. And that’s, that’s what’s successful for most people.

Mike: That’s the dream. That’s really the end game for people listening who are relatively new to this, or maybe just in the middle of this. I think that is the big payoff aside from health and longevity and all the other benefits, but if we’re talking about body composition, that is the big payoff of all the work that you do on the front end for the first few years, then you have the flexibility to do exactly what Harry just said.

I mean, that’s what I do. I’m maintaining in the gym, and so I’m making sure that I enjoy my workouts. I’m doing exercises that I like to do. I’m doing enough volume to, to obviously maintain most of the strength and all of the muscle that I have. And it is about three to four hours of lifting per week.

That’s all the weightlifting I want to do right now. I do, I do cardio on top of that. That’s most of the year and over the holidays, I mean, I probably gain a little bit of fat. I don’t care that much to eat large amounts of calories. But to your point, I’m also not making sure that I’m not measuring, I’m not weighing and measuring my Thanksgiving dinner.

I know I eat what I’m going to eat. And and if I, and then if I, at the end of that, if I gained more fat than I wanted Then I cut for a little bit and rinse and repeat. And it’s great. And it’s, I mean, it’s a, a lifestyle that I enjoy and it’s something that I’ll be able to do. And you and everybody listening, we can do that for the rest of our life and we can stay in really, really good shape doing it that way.

Harry: Yeah, it is. It is for most people. That is the ideal spot where they just get to loosely maintain a BLS TLS type routine. Would you actually have some clients though, they just love like the process and science, I think that much that even though that only a say. Beginning a pound of muscle a year, two pounds of muscle.

They just still love doing like a step bulk, a step cut each year, a little bit of maintenance. And again, so that’s all the answers there.

Mike: Which I also, I mean, I actually do understand. I mean, I did that for a while too. I guess that maybe this is just the, the season I’m in my life, but I get that as well.

I mean, it is. It also is fun, especially when you’re maintaining a consistent calorie surplus. And if somebody hasn’t done that before, I find that, or I’ve found that they’re often surprised at how big of a difference that makes in the gym. Like once you’ve established that for a couple of weeks, it seems to take a couple of weeks to really, you know, I get the physiological gears moving faster, but once, once that reaches a certain threshold, it can be shocking.

Just how much stronger you, you get in the gym and how much more energy you have for your workouts and, and even just how your body feels and how you feel that additional recovery and so forth. So I get it. That’s fun too. Actually. Yeah. Yeah.

Harry: Yeah. Yeah. It’s huge. Like the, especially if you can buy say like sleep quality, someone’s systemic stress and their food, like all those things in the right or wrong direction, it can be, especially on big exercises like squats and deadlifts where 10 percent is a huge amount of weight.

It can be, yeah. Drastic, like 40, 50 pounds swing. Yeah.

Mike: It’s huge. Totally. Well, that was everything that I had in my list. I think that was a great conversation is, is there anything that you think that we should have covered? I should have asked that you want to say before we wrap up.

Harry: I don’t think so.

Yeah. I think that’s kind of everything I can think of on the client side, maybe worth. So maybe do it for like a coaching tool perspective at some point, but I think again, a lot of the tools and processes that we work through everything covered, I guess. Yeah. Anyone has any questions you can always step out of the moment to me.

Mike: Awesome. Well, thanks again for taking the time, Harry. And why don’t we tell people where they can find you, find your work as soon as anything in particular that you want them to know about?

Harry: Honestly, there’s not I’ve not got like much of a web presence to this.

Mike: I wasn’t sure. I wasn’t sure, but I thought I would ask.

Harry: Yeah, I’m happy just to like quietly get on with my work. That’s, that’s that suits me. I guess if anyone wants to reach me, Harry at Legion Supplements is the way to go.

Mike: Okay, great. Well, thanks Harry. Well, I hope you liked this episode. I hope you found it helpful. And if you did subscribe to the show because.

It makes sure that you don’t miss new episodes. And it also helps me because it increases the rankings of the show a little bit, which of course then makes it a little bit more easily found by other people who may like it just as much as you. And if you didn’t like something about this episode or about the show in general, or if you have ideas or suggestions, or just feedback to share, shoot me an email, Mike at muscleforlife.

com muscleforlife. com and let me know what I could do better or just what your thoughts are about. Maybe what you’d like to see me do in the future. I read everything myself. I’m always looking for new ideas and constructive feedback. So thanks again for listening to this episode and I hope to hear from you soon.

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