Tag Archives: eating

Do You Have to “Suffer” While Dieting?

Why is it that when it comes to dieting, everybody automatically thinks they have to suffer and deprive themselves from everything in life? Why is it that people think they can’t have the foods they love and crave in moderation? Why does the word “dieting” have to be portrayed as suffering?

We really don’t have a clear cut answer to this, but we feel a big part has to do with the Girl-dietingpersonality of people feeling like they need to suffer as much as possible on a diet to say they did everything in their power to try and accomplish their goal, even if they didn’t accomplish it entirely.

It’s almost like a sneaky excuse to why one didn’t accomplish their goal 100% of the way. Whether it’s losing a few pounds to look good on the beach, dropping some fat for a photo shoot, or dieting down to low body fat levels for a contest, it just seems that people need to endure some sort of agony when it comes to dieting.

We don’t believe in making people suffer when it comes to diets or we would never encourage people to suffer just for the sake of suffering. We believe in suffering for an outcome or for optimization. This is a huge problem, people being intimidated by dieting and they automatically get the assumption that dieting is going to be painful and that they are going to have to suffer so much to where it’s intolerable.

It’s funny how people think this way because there are kids and families in third world countries out there that are suffering from starvation and we want to be scared of going on a diet because we think we are going to have to suffer so mightily?

There are a lot of people at fault for this, such as:

  • The internet
  • Magazines
  • Cheesy infomercials
  • So called ‘nutrition experts’ aka guru’s and Broscientists,
  • Gym know it all’s

The list can go on for days.

We know this because we were victims once to all of this non-sense when it came to dieting. We tried the following:

  • A low carb cookie cutter diet out of a magazine 5 years ago and lost almost all the muscle we put on over the winter
  • We tried eating a so called “clean” diet where it consisted of all the traditional body building foods (lean proteins, sweet potatoes, brown rice, vegetables, etc) and that drove us crazy because we were kicking ourselves in the ass every time we ate something non-traditional aka dirty.
  • We then tried eating basically anything we wanted and that went south of the border because we put on excess fat and couldn’t get lean enough without sacrificing muscle loss when it came to dieting down for summer.

So we were intimidated and manipulated too by the word “dieting” because we thought it solely consisted of eating nothing but “clean” foods and we felt we had to suffer on these strict diets, tumblr_nj7nw2w8vI1snbrkko1_500but we found a middle ground after 5 years of self-experimentation and trial and error. That middle ground being you can still have the foods you like and enjoy, so long as you are hitting your macronutrient numbers and total fiber number. We talked about this in great detail in our blog “Why count your macronutrients.” 

We know everyone won’t agree with us on this, but we feel that it is so essential to count your macros because you can have all the foods you like and you don’t have to suffer by eating traditional dieting foods day in and day out. Some of the following reasons why we’re such huge proponents to counting macros are:

  • It teaches you discipline
  • Allows you to eat the foods you like while still dieting
  • It allows you to experiment with recipes that contain healthy ingredients
  • It gives you less of a tendency to go out and cheat
  • You will be amazed at how much you learn from tracking your food
  • You will learn a lot about nutrition and what your body responds well to

Basically, cookie cutter diets out of books, magazines, and websites will eventually be a recipe for disaster. Who the hell wants to eat the same thing every single day? For more info on why cookie cutters just don’t work, see our video here.

Now please don’t get us wrong here, we don’t recommend going out and eating pizza or cheese burgers and fries to hit your macros, we still believe in whole and minimally refined foods will build quality muscle and you can see that here on our video “Macronutrient recommendations.”

You can still include the foods you like into your diet, as long as you hit your macro and fiber numbers and the reason being that the muscle only sees amino acids, carbs, lipids, and some short chain fatty acid fermentation from fiber. The muscle doesn’t see specific types of foods. So, as long as you’re hitting your protein, carbs, fat and fiber numbers, everything else will become secondary.

We had a couple of our clients eating baked lays and low-fat popcorn for their carbohydrate source after their workouts along with a protein shake. This is perfectly fine to have as long as you are hitting your post workout macro numbers and your fiber number at the end of the day.

Obviously popcorn has like 4 times the amount of fiber content than baked lays, but it’s okay to have baked lays for your carb source as long as you are in range of your target fiber number at the end of the day.

Evidently, someone that eats baked lays for all their carb sources in their meals will not hit their fiber number, so they would be hurting themselves there, unless they got it through fiber supplementation.

Choosing a mix of lower glycemic carbs for your meals which are higher in fiber along with other non-traditional foods is perfectly fine in our opinions and it’s a happy medium. So, our point being, normally people would freak out if you told them they could eat popcorn, baked lays, or even low-fat ice cream in moderation on a diet and that’s because of all the BS out there and because it’s looked at as a non-traditional style of dieting and because people tend to over eat.

There’s times where we have our clients make healthy burritos (shredded chicken, low-fat cheese, black beans, and whole wheat tortillas) or breakfast sandwiches (eggs, low-fat cheese, turkey bacon, and ezekial bread) and it’s perfectly fine because they hit all their macronutrient numbers at each meal. Another thing people really have to understand and consider is that plenty of people get results in spite of what they do, not because what they do is optimal.

It’s important to recognize that everybody has different methods when it comes to dieting and it’s important to not look down on anyone, especially if they are trying to make a change in their health and life. We’re not saying our method is the only one out there and it’s certainly not for everybody. But we’ve seen, experienced, experimented, been mentored, and done a lot of trial and error to lead us to be huge advocates to counting our macros daily and it’s been a very efficient method for us and our clients to be able to diet without suffering and sustain a long term flexible diet.

Take home message is to find a dieting method that works for you and that you will be consistent with day in and day out, week after week, month after month, and year after year. Dietary programs need to be tailored to you based on your body type, activity levels, current metabolism, metabolic/hormonal variances, psychology factors, cultural influence, food preferences, and more. So don’t fall for BS mainstream fad diets or cookie cutter diets from your local Guru’s. You don’t have to fear dieting anymore or suffer with only traditional foods. Just make sure to do your homework before hand, be patient, and always keep in mind that if a diet sounds too good to be true and promises to deliver quick results, then it’s probably BS.

Do you still think you have to suffer while dieting?


Baechle, Thomas R and Earle, Roger W. Essentials of Strength Training and Conditioning/ National Strength and Conditioning Association. USA: 2008 by the National Strength and Conditioning Association

Antonio, Jose et al. “Essentials of Sports nutrition and Supplements.” 2008

About The Authors:

Chris and Eric Martinez, CISSN, CPT, BA, also known as the “Dynamic Duo” operate a world class personal training and online training business “Dynamic Duo Training,” They’re also fitness and nutrition writers, fitness models, and coaches that love helping people reach their goals. Their philosophy is “No excuses, only solutions.”

Visit them at:

Dynamic Duo Training


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Tis the Season to Avoid Excuses

holiday-eatingAs the holidays approach us it is inevitable to believe that avoiding pumpkin pie and social gatherings is a likely option. Tis the season, as they say, to eat like crap and completely abandon our fitness goals. “I’m too busy,” “I spent too much on the holidays to invest in my health,” and “I’ll wait until the New Years to exercise” have become the go-to hackneyed gestures. Just as quickly as one pulls out the credit card for a Black Friday transaction these same people pull out similar excuses.

Excuses no more!

1) “Paradigm shifting:” Since the holidays are a time of social gluttonistic gatherings, shortened days and indoor recumbent “exercise” (sitting) I encounter my clients always telling me that they don’t have time to exercise. Plain and simple. To combat lethargy and excessive weight gain one should focus on a paradigm switch from “I need to exercise AT LEAST 2-3 times a week” to “I’ll exercise only two, maybe three times a week.” By simply changing the mindset from perceiving winter fitness as meeting a requirement to simply as a privilege the stress induced from missing workouts isn’t as damaging. Also, it gives the exerciser more autonomy in WHEN and HOW their workouts come about. This allows for more freedom of training without feeling so committed to exercising as a means of holiday damage control. I find that clients are more likely to exercise on their own when they don’t feel so obligated.

2) “Tis the season to maintain:” To those who don’t have time to exercise 4+ times a week — stop worrying about getting in so many workouts. The last thing we want from our clients is for them to feel so pyschologically blemished from missing a workout or two. Instead, focus on maintaining throughout the winter. This is the perfect time of year to be efficient with your workouts by breaking down your training into two, maybe three sessions a week for under 60 minutes. Allow the clients more freedom in how they spend their holidays; plus, it serves as a way to teach them time efficiency with exercise along with allowing them flexibility. This is when I often advise my clients to experiment with different styles of training or coach them to break their workouts into upper/lower splits composed of supersets with a mixture of HIT. Besides, when they only have to train 2-3 days tops, they don’t feel married to training.

3) “Just say no…..or nah, I’m good:” One of the problems many of us face during the holiday times is being pressured to eat those sugary, taste-so-darn good goodies. Yes, I absolutely love cookies and pie, but it’s perfectly fine to decline ingesting more than I should even when the host of a holiday shindig offers. Remember, when party hosts ask you to try their cookies it’s simply because they are being polite (or have an ulterior motive mwahahah!). Next time you’re at a holiday get-together and they implore you to gorge simply say, “man, those sure do look tasty, but I’m already stuffed on all of the other stuff you have! (optional: insert laughter) ” or “I’m definitely getting some of this to-go.” Both work and yet you don’t come off as a dietary elitist. It’s not necessary to elaborate beyond this as you have made it clear that you appreciate their kitchen endeavors. It also puts off the vibe that you have already liberated yourself to the snack tray (even though we all know you didn’t, but that’s our secret).


Justin Groce has been a personal trainer and strength & conditioning professional for over five years servicing middle Tennessee. He is a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist (with distinction) from the National Strength and Conditioning Association (CSCS*D – NSCA), a Certified Personal Trainer from the American College of Sports Medicine (CPT – ACSM), a Certified Sports Nutritionist from the International Society of Sports Nutrition (CISSN – ISSN), holds a master’s degree in education and a bachelor’s degree in health and human performance.

Justin is the current owner/operator of www.JustinGroce.comwhich educates on nutrition, recipes, supplementation and exercise training protocols.

He has a 2nd degree black belt in Tae Kwon Do, a 2nd degree black belt in Tang Soo Do and a 2nd degree black belt in Shorin-Ryu. Additionally, he enjoys coaching clients with their nutrition and strength training programs to maximize performance.

5 Game Changing Off-Season Nutrition Tips

“Tis the season to be Jolly”…You all have heard this Xmas song right? Well, we say “Tis the season to be BULKY,” except you won’t be eating all those damn cookies like Santa did and you’ll have a lot more muscle mass.  

As we begin to get into off season mode, it is a time of excitement, more food, more carbs, we don’t have to worry about having shredded abs at pool parties or at beaches, we get to eat like a lineman, have some brewskis with the fellas, cut down cardio or cut it out completely, lift heavy ass weights, wear warm clothes, and enhance our physiques basically anywhere from 4-24 months depending on your own personal goals.

Though a lot of people will think bulking season is as simple as just eating a shit load of food and lifting heavy weights, it’s just not that simple folks, and if you need more info on how to do it the right way then read this ultimate muscle mass gaining guide that we wrote.

In this article we will give you 5 game changing nutrition tips for your off season that’ll help you and especially deep into off season. We promise you will try one of these tips and then thank us later. Alright, back straight, shoulders square, neck neutral, note pad out, protein shake by your side…Let’s do it!

1.      Shakes Over Solid Meals

I know a lot of you have heard that solid meals are better than shakes and vice versa, we get it, we’ve heard this too. So we wanted to know the real answer ourselves and we came across an interesting study in the International Journal of Sports Nutrition and Exercise Metabolism that showed consuming a liquid meal in the form of shakes resulted in an increased thermic effect of food (thermogenisis) compared with a solid meal (bars).


Now, there are obviously some limitations in this study, there’s not much data on this subject, and we’re not going to go as far as saying that shakes are better than solid meals and vice versa. But, the results are very interesting here and the most likely explanation for an increased thermic effect of food from a liquid meal is the fact that liquids empty from the stomach faster than solids and therefore would be expected to be absorbed more quickly.

Keep in mind that if you decide to have shakes, your satiety levels (feeling full) will not be as high as opposed to solid meals. We know from anecdotal evidence from ourselves and working with clients, that having shakes over solid meals has the same outcomes as having solid meals over shakes, it’s more of a personal preference thing and lifestyle suit in our opinions.

But, we will tell you one thing, we know that when you are deep into off season and your calories are high and macros are up, it is a pain in the ass getting in solid foods. This is where shakes will make your life that much easier.

Take Home: If someone says the body burns more calories breaking down solid foods or solid foods give you better results, it’s flat out false because research shows that shakes have a greater thermogenic response. But just because it has a higher thermogenic response does not make it the end all, be all. Try incorporating shakes into your nutrition program, especially deep into off season when your calories and macros are high. At the end of the day, do what works best for you, whether that’s eating solid foods or having shakes.

2.      Keeping anabolism elevated throughout the night

Now a lot of you are probably thinking how do I keep anabolism elevated throughout the night? I’m knocked out, getting my 8 hours. Well, new research by Van Loon et al. has proven that overnight protein administration stimulates muscle protein synthesis. There were two studies done, the first being in elderly men and the second being done in recreationally active young males and they both showed that protein ingestion prior to sleep stimulated muscle protein synthesis overnight.

Even though there are basically only two studies for this, it still proves that protein ingested immediately prior to sleep or during sleep is effectively digested and absorbed, therefore stimulating muscle protein synthesis overnight. It’s very fascinating and promising research so we highly recommend some sort of high quality protein source before bed or during the middle of the night when you have to let Niagara Falls pour out.

Just think about it, your body will be entering a 6-9 hour fast and why not have a steady stream of amino acids flowing in the bloodstream overnight and keeping anabolism elevated.

Another suggestion we recommend is for those that have their calories at very high levels during bulking or deep into offseason and are having trouble consuming all of their macros through their meals during the day, you can simply have a shake in the middle of the night that contains protein, carbs, and fats and this will be an easy way to ingest some of your total daily calories.

Take Home: Try having 20-40g of a high quality protein source before bed or during the middle of the night. If you’re deep into off season and simply can’t get all the calories in throughout the day and through solid food, then whip up a shake that has protein, carbs, and fats before bed and drink it when you wake up and have to go to the bathroom during the middle of the night.    

 3.      Pound an Intra drink during that hard workout

Man, we keep bringing up debatable tips here, but you know what, that’s the beauty of science, it’s open for interpretation and sometimes anecdotal evidence plays to your advantage.

During off season and especially deep into off season, depending on your metabolism and insulin sensitivity your carbs should be in a surplus. Now, we don’t know about you guys, but when you are at 600g of carbs throughout the day like us, that is a ton of food to gorge down. So why not chip away 30-50g of carbs and have it intra workout? 3593998

This comes in handy especially if your workouts run long or maybe you aren’t feeling it that day. What will a little bit of sugar hurt? It won’t hurt nada, it’ll actually help by getting in that extra glucose for energy because your glycogen stores will be replenished and it’ll help you grind through the rest of your workout. We’ve also found that by knowing that we’re going to get that extra 30-50g of glucose, it gives us a mental push as well to finish our workout strong.

Take Home: We recommend consuming 30-50g of a fast acting carbohydrate drink such as a Vitamin Water or Gatorade during your workouts. If all else fails, you still chipped away at your total daily carbs and got some extra energy to finish your workout.

 4.      Have more of your carbs pre and post workout

Yet another good debatable tip here. This is one of our favorites because we feel you get the best bang for your buck here. We feel that by partitioning the majority of your total daily carbohydrates around pre and post workout is a game changer. There are several reasons why we think this, let us bust out our dynamic list for you:

  • You get an increase in insulin sensitivity by working out so you can more effectively tolerate and utilize carbohydrates post workout so it also makes sense to put more carbs post workout as compared to other times of the day.
  • Since insulin sensitivity is also elevated pre workout, it makes sense to get in more carbs to fully top off glycogen stores and have more energy for your workout.
  • Helps with tissue leverage. When your stomach is full, it makes it easier to push your abdominal wall against your weight belt, giving you more stability. Great for squats and deadlifts.
  • Since you are deep into off season and your carbohydrate intake is very high, you might as well make it a bit easier and shave off some of those carbs and have more of them pre and post workout to get the best bang for your buck.

Given these 4 reasons, there’s also an excellent study by Devkota. et al out of Dr. Layman’s lab at the University of Illinois on partitioning carbs closer to your workouts. We know we’ve brought up a debatable tip, but we like the research behind it and we’ll take our chances on this one, especially deep into off season.

Take home: Try partitioning the majority of your carbs around your pre and post workout meal. It doesn’t hurt to try something new.

5.      Don’t  be afraid to eat non-traditional foods

Last but not least, we recommend not being afraid to eat non-traditional foods or should we use the words clean and dirty foods? The clean and dirty words that have no scientific meaning or definition to them, we can’t stand these words because labeling foods as clean or dirty ignores context, and ignoring context is just plain stupid.

We are huge proponents on the diet consisting mostly of whole and minimally refined foods. But still, it’s not all that simple, since certain foods are significantly changed from their original state (i.e., whey protein powder), but still have positive impacts on health.

The point we’re trying to make here is when you are in off season and deep into off season your caloric intake is going to be high and it is going to be very hard to get traditional and whole foods in all the time because simply their caloric value isn’t high and sometimes eating too much low GI and high fiber foods can be counterintuitive when calories are high. So it’s safe to say that it is okay to have some refined and non-traditional foods if your calories are high, so as long as you aren’t abusing this, as long as you’re hitting your macros and fiber numbers for the day, and not gaining too much excess fat in the process.

Take Home: When your calories are high, you are allowed to have some non-traditional foods to meet your daily caloric intake. Trust us this makes off season life that much easier.

Wrapping all this up

Now that we’ve have given you 5 game changing nutrition tips for your off season, just remember that to keep an open mind to trying new things. Just because something doesn’t have research behind it, doesn’t mean it’s useless, because anecdotal evidence can come into play and just because there’s research behind something, it doesn’t mean it’s the end all be all, everything is open to interpretation and should be questioned. These are just tips we have for you and none of these are black and white answers because everything in this game has grey areas. Biggest take home message is to think for yourselves, try it, see if it works for you, work hard at it, and don’t end up looking like Santa after off season! Peace


  • Ratcliff L, Gropper SS, White BD, Shannon DM, Huggins KW. The influence of habitual exercise training and meal form on diet induced thermogenisis in college age men. Int J of Sports Nutrition and Exercise Metabolism. 2011
  • Antonio, Jose et al. “Essentials of sports nutrition and supplements.” 2008
  •  Van Loon et al. “Protein ingestion prior to sleep improves post-exercise overnight recovery.” J ACSM. 2012 Jan.
  • Van Loon et al. “Intragastric protein administration stimulates overnight muscle protein synthesis in elderly men.” Am J Physiol Endocrinol Metab. 2011 Sept.
  •  S Devkota, D K Layman. Increased ratio of dietary carbohydrate to protein shifts the focus of metabolic signaling from skeletal muscle to adipose. J Nutri and Metab. 2011.
  • Joanne F. Dorgan; Joseph T. Judd; Christopher Longcope; Charles Brown; Arthur Schatzkin; Beverly A. Clevidence; William S. Campbell; Padmanabhan P. Nair; Charlene Franz; Lisa Kahle; Philip R. Taylor. “Effects of dietary fat and fiber on plasma and urine androgens and estrogens in men: a controlled feeding study.” American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, Dec 1996.
  • Haff GG, Lehmkuhl MJ, McCoy LB, Stone MH. “Carbohydrate supplementation and resistance training.” J Strength Cond Res 2003 Feb;17(1):187-96
  • Schliess F, Haussinger D. “Cell volume and insulin signaling.” Int Rev Cytol 2003;225:187-228
  • Wilson, Jacob. Pre-contest week- An in depth analysis- http://abcbodybuilding.com/precontestweek.pdf.

Chris Martinez, BA, CISSN, CPT