Dieting Plans Gone Awry: The Road Has 21 Potholes and They’re F*cking Up The Wheels on Your Lamborghini

When I was a kid I wanted to build a body like Arnold.

Back then, we got our dieting plans and weight training info from magazines. My favorites were Muscle and Fitness, and IronMan.

I’d read cover to cover multiple times and couldn’t wait until the next issue came out.

Part motivation and part muscle building tips.

As most kids did I believed in Santa, WWF wrestling was real, and those bodybuilders on the cover got hyoooge from chicken and broccoli.

I hope I didn’t just burst anyone’s bubble. I just found out about the Santa thing myself.

A few years into my obsession, I remember picking up a new magazine called Muscle Media 2000. It was the hot new publication because it was different. I believe it was the first magazine to admit that these guy’s were on something besides “special protein powder”, and exposed the truth in the industry.

These magazines flew off the shelf. Everyone wanted to know what really went on- and you had more legit exercise and diet info to boot.

Then came the Lamborghini issue.

my original dieting plans were in the Muscle Media 2000 Lamborghini Issue

Muscle Media 2000 was running a 12 week “Physique Transformation” contest in which you could win a red Lamborghini Diablo. You’d send in before and after pictures along with an essay about why you should win, and the person with the biggest change in muscle and body fat would win it.

I entered. I didn’t win the contest, but still came out the other end of 12 weeks looking damn good.

I learned a lot about how to manipulate my body composition (building muscle/losing body fat) from the magazine and put it to good use.


Namely- treat your body like a $250,000 luxury sports car. Fuel it with nothing but the best, and regularly push it to the max.


And that brings me to the point of today’s piece: If you’re trying to get rid of that spare tire around your midsection, chances are your diet is riddled with dietary potholes.

lose those love handles

The winning philosophy is “most things in moderation”. Life wouldn’t be fun if we spent all our time avoiding stuff.  At the same time, if you’re eating junk more than occasionally, it can impact your health and put a big ol’ monkey wrench in your fat loss plans.

So let’s get rolling…

Here are 21 Diet Plan Potholes to Avoid

1) Eating processed foods- In order to extend shelf life and improve taste, processed foods are packed with chemicals and trans fats. They also tend to be loaded with sugar or sodium.

2) Overcooking or boiling vegetables- The nutritional value (key vitamins and minerals) are leeched out in the process.

3) Boxed snacks- They can cause insulin levels to skyrocket, making you hungrier and turning your fat-storing mechanisms on. They also decrease satiety, causing you to eat more to feel as full. Key tip- hunger can undermine any dieting plans you have in the bat of an eye.

4) Trans- fats- All the cookies, cheezy poofs, and potato chips on the shelves have trans-fats in them to make them last for months and months on the shelves of your local Kwikie Mart. Trans fats are a no- go for countless health reasons.

5) Eating high carb/ high fat foods- Foods such as fettuccine Alfredo or donuts stimulate large insulin spikes, virtually guaranteeing fat storage where you least like it.

6) Eating carbohydrates alone- Carbohydrate- only foods such as a bowl of pasta or rice without a protein component will cause insulin surges followed by hunger.

7) Meals devoid of protein- Get some protein in every meal. Proteins are the building blocks of muscle, which are the foundation of your metabolism. Higher metabolism = faster fat loss.

8) Skipping breakfast- This may be somewhat controversial, as there are actually some benefits to occasionally skipping meals. However, going too long between meals can potentially trigger binge eating later. Also, if low blood sugar interferes with concentration or being productive at work, you’re better off eating.

9) Alcoholic beverages- Alcohol contains empty calories and actually shuts off the bodies’ fat burning pathways.

10) Fried foods- Such as hash browns, and fried chicken. Another set of foods that screw up your digestion, and wreak havoc on your weight loss endeavors.

11) “Pretend” health foods such as the fruit smoothie. Commercially made smoothies typically contain chemicals and sweeteners that you simply don’t need. They also blast your blood sugar sky- high, then rebound, stimulating voracious hunger.

12) Foods or drinks containing High Fructose Corn Syrup

13) Excess sodium- salt is found in almost all foods you eat, even if you can’t taste it.

14) Sugar- laden soft drinks- Instead, opt for a refreshing green tea, seltzer with lemon or lime squeezed in it, or plain ol’ water.

15) Coffee with “dessert” toppings- Such as caramel, whipped cream and sugar. (Yes, even if it’s “natural” sugar). I don’t know how many people have failed dieting plans because they don’t take these calories into account. I also know people who’ve lost 10 pounds by eliminating them.

16) “Instant” foods- those convenient and easy to make instant oatmeal’s or rice. They’re instant because all the valuable nutrients and fiber have been eliminated. These foods can trigger hunger- especially if they’re not paired with a quality protein.

17) Sugar and calorie- laden dressings on salads- More calories = tougher to lose weight.

18) Flavored, salty snack chips- These things stimulate hunger and actually make you crave more. “You can’t eat just one”.

19) “TV dinners” and foods with baked crust like pot pies. These are loaded to the brim with calories and chemical junk.

20) Over- eating even good, healthy foods like nuts and seeds and fruit. They may be healthy, but those calories add up!

21) Reliance on synthetic vitamins and fat burning supplements. You’re much better off getting your nutrients from whole food, plus most fat burning supplements on the market simply make you shed water weight and get your heart cranking.

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What If You Could Move The Needle On Your Scale At Will?

The class reunion pool party reason to get naked in front of her is coming up soon.  While brushing your teeth this morning you noticed in the mirror some way too much belly jiggle. In fact, you had to wipe dripped toothpaste off that smuggled beach ball.

We need to turn this thing around, fast. Because lets be honest, is there ever a good reason not to get naked?

So how do we turn this negative into a positive?

By adding negative calorie foods into our diet.

(Sweet transition, right?)

A hot topic recently is the concept of eating negative calorie foods to lose weight. This quick article will tell you what they are, and how you can use them to… get ready for the shameless pluglose weight and gain energy.

“Negative calorie” as written about here, is a term used for foods that take more energy to digest and process than they provide the body.

negative calories take more energy to process

Lets take a bowl of fibrous vegetables for example. Let’s throw some spinach or romaine lettuce in a big bowl with some tomatoes, peppers, cucumber, sprouts, and some slices of fresh mushroom.

The calories contained in this bowl of vegetables may be around 150.

Since most of the contents have thick, fibrous bodies to break down and digest, your body will need a lot of energy to do the work. The energy (fuel) for the work of breaking down and digesting is the calories already stored in your body.

Eating the vegetables starts the process- chewing needs energy, swallowing needs energy, the processes of the stomach need energy. Lets say the sum total of the demand on the body is 250 calories.

And the Magic of Negative Calorie Foods…

This leaves you with negative 100 calories. Now, you have 100 calories less, stored in your body.

Can you see how this would help with fat loss?

We always recommend getting a moderate amount of fibrous vegetables in your diet*

add fibrous vegetables to your diet

Not only do they provide negative calories, but they make you feel full, resulting in less total calories eaten. They contain boatloads of nutrients (a pat of butter or a spoonful of olive oil actual help absorb these nutrients).

Of course, you can never count out the potential cancer protective properties!

* Potential embarrassment and grief disclaimer. Moderation is key and adding them in slowly over the course of days and weeks is advised. Eat these vegetables along with other foods. Chew them thoroughly and drink plenty of water. If you’re not used to eating much fiber or fibrous vegetables, it can be a shock to your digestive system. We want to avoid the gas, bloating and diarrhea that can happen if you’re overzealous.

My favorite negative calorie foods:

Broccoli, Cauliflower, Celery, Cucumbers, Eggplant, Endives, Garlic, Green beans, Green cabbage, Lettuce, Onions, Radishes, Spinach, Turnips, Zucchini.

Buy local and natural. Get vegetables as close to the source and as natural as possible. Shop at local farmers markets in your area or the outskirts of the grocery store and choose what is in- season. The next best choice would be frozen selections which actually don’t lose much nutrient wise.

Side note: The foods that are healthy and best for supporting weight loss are typically found on the outskirts of the grocery store. Fresh fruits and vegetables, lean meats, poultry, eggs and fish.

Negative calorie foods are a great way to amplify your caloric deficit in combination with our triad of fat burning- nutrition, resistance training and cardio.

Bonus Tip: Keep Some Green Apples On Hand. (The Green Apple Mini-Project)

I remember going to a Christmas Party a few years back in NYC. It was held at a friends house who I’ve given countless fitness tips to over the years.

Of course we ate, drank and had a good time.

The best part came when he went to the kitchen and pulled out a bag of green apples to show myself and the group. He went on to explain that he had read about how they can help quell cravings in black book of secrets. Awesome.

He told a story about how he tried it for the first time. He was going out with his wife for dinner at a fancy Italian restaurant- his favorite.

When he was getting dressed in his “going out gear”, he noticed his pants fit a bit tighter than before.

Needless to say this frustrated him.

But he turned that frustration against itself and made some wise choices.

He remembered what I had said, that if you eat a green apple or two before going for a meal, you’d have less desire to binge. So sure enough, on the way down town to the restaurant in the West Village, he picked up 2 green apples at the stand on the corner. He chomped them both down in the cab.

The Green Apple (mini) Project Begins…

Here’s what happened- not fully believing in the power of the green apple, he ended up ordering baked clams and a plate of Chicken Parmagiana that came with a huge plate of pasta, with sauce. (Not to mention the bucket of fresh bread on the table).

The Green Apple (mini) Project Results?

He ate all the clams, half of the Chicken Parmagiana plate, no pasta and no bread.

Now, here’s the best part…

He was excited that he had no desire for the rest of the food. He probably saved himself 800 calories!

Another benefit he (and his wife especially) enjoyed was that after dinner, he wasn’t full and bloated from an over log of carbs. They went out to a club and danced for a few hours.

Sounds like the Green Apple (mini) Project was a success to me.

This brings me to another moral of the story here. It doesn’t necessarily take a huge overhaul of your eating habits to create small consistent changes like adding in negative calorie foods.

Don’t go crazy changing your entire lifestyle in one day. There’s no need to decide you’re going to cut out EVERY bad food from here on out. You immediately put yourself in a position that is difficult to operate from.

The better way of going about losing weight is to change small factors of your diet each day. It could be something as small as an apple of two- like my friend has realized.

He saved himself a few hundred calories with one decision. If he were to implement one such decision each day, he’d be losing fat regularly- without a drastic lifestyle change.

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Swiss Ball Crunches- More Effective Abdominal Exercise Than Ab Roller On The Floor?

Question: I heard the best abdominal exercise is the Swiss Ball crunch. Is it better than doing crunches with an ab roller or on the floor? I really want to have visible abs.

Eugene says: In short, yes. But let’s talk about a few things first before you run out and start bouncing away on one of those physical-therapy-device-turned-gym-toys.

Abdominal Exercise Primer

First, understand that doing a lot of ab work in order to develop a shredded six pack is about as effective as using a Bic lighter to cook your salmon steak. To properly develop visible abdominal muscles, two things are necessary:

1) Body fat reduction over the abdominal area.  This is primarily accomplished through the proper applications of dietary principles. BTW, if you’re serious about losing that fat from your abdominal area, our Black Book program is your ace in the hole, if I do say so myself.

2) Some exercise to develop abdominal strength.

swiss ball crunches

Swiss ball crunch Photo Credit © Richard Giles

Diet is More Important Than Swiss Ball Crunches For Visible Abs

Diet is so much more important in this process that it’s almost ridiculous to spend time doing ab work when you’ve got a nice, thick layer of protective adiposity blanketing your midsection (you’d be much better off spending that time doing exercises that rev up your metabolism, like multi-joint movements such as squats, or performing high intensity intervals).

In fact, it’s possible to develop a six pack without a single rep of direct ab work if you get your body fat low enough and you strength train (there is significant recruitment of the ab muscles on big, multi-joint movements like pulldowns, chinups, squats, deadlifts, etc., so they get a lot of indirect work when you perform these exercises).

As Mike pointed out in a previous Q and A, spot reduction of the fat overlying your ab muscles by selectively doing exercises for just that area is not possible. Nor is exercising your butt off without making concomitant changes in diet useful for developing killer abs.

You’ve Got To Put The Whole Shebang Together…

Now, let me get off my soapbox…

Swiss ball crunches more deeply stimulate the ab muscles because you work them through a greater range of motion and because the ab muscles encounter greater resistance (from your body weight) when you’re lying on a Swiss ball.

Since greater resistance = more results (remember your Weight Training 101?), the greater stimulus from the Swiss ball crunches will give you more bang for your training buck than its floor-based counterparts (ab rollers included).

So grab yourself a ball and crunch away.  But do yourself a favor – stay away from those high calorie foods and drink your water, ok?

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