Editor's note: Diakadi Fitness Tips is a new series of weekly features and interviews with Billy Polson and Mike Clausen, founders of the award-winning Diakadi Body personal training gym and creators of RealJock's 12-week Workout Programs. With Diakadi Fitness Tips, Billy and Mike will share their expert advice, tips, insights, and other motivation. Have burning questions about your fitness that you want them to answer? Send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
For this first installment of Diakadi Fitness Tips, Mike Clausen wanted to talk about his excess body fat—and how he lost it by seeing a nutritionist. You might expect that Mike would weigh in heavily on the importance of exercise and strength training—and so he generally does; but he puts an enormous emphasis on the significance of nutrition in a fitness regimen. "All the work that you do in the gym is almost a waste of time unless you are eating not only the right types of food, but also the correct quantities," Mike says. "That's why it is so important to see a nutritionist. Whether you are trying to lose weight or gain muscle mass, only a nutritionist can help you really get where you want to be."
Sure, in a perfect world—but couldn't you just ask your trainer for help and save some cash? Unfortunately no. Mike warns about trainers who take on the role of nutritionists, and advise clients on diet as well as exercise. "Your trainer is not the person to go to when you need to get advice on meal plans, unless he or she is a registered dietician. While trainers may know the correct types of food to eat, they do not know the required amounts that you personally should be eating, and the carb/protein/fat breakdown that works best for you. Each person's metabolism and lifestyles are different, therefore the food you take in should reflect that."
Mike's Journey: 15 Pounds of Fat Loss
Mike's own journey through nutrition has been full of surprises—even for a serious campaigner like him. Since December of 2007, he's been working with San Francisco nutritionist Manuel Villacorta, designer of the RealJock meal plans. The results have been remarkable. "Since December," Mike says, "I've lost over seven percent of my bodyweight, which was about 15 pounds of fat. And I thought that I ate relatively well already! But there were some days I was eating too much, and others that I wasn't eating enough. If you work out too much and don't eat enough consistently, your body goes into starvation mode. You're working against yourself at that point, even though you think you're eating healthily."
Manuel turned all this around, and put Mike on the path to a super-lean physique, by starting him on a 2100-calorie per day diet for six weeks. "It was tough in the beginning," Mike admits, "and it does require some work (measuring your food, programming into computer each meal)—but the results are worth it."
Lose the Fat, Then Gain the Muscle
It's not just the diet but the timing that matters; Mike said he lost some muscle mass on the 2100-calorie diet, but that after six weeks Manuel switched him to a 4100-calorie diet, where he got back all of his muscle, and none of the fat. "I would have never been able to do this on my own, eating what I thought was fairly healthy," Mike says.
And, in fact, he's so affected by the experience that he'd like to see his clients get their diet under control before they hit the gym: "If you are looking to lose weight or put on muscle, I highly recommend seeing a nutritionist along with continuing your workout program. Diet is about 90 percent of your fitness regime. So it's actually more important to see a nutritionist than it is to see your trainer. If I have clients who are overweight, I would rather them spend their money on learning how to eat properly, than waste their time in the gym and continue to put bad food into their bodies."
Getting Started: Find a Nutritionist
Want to get started on finding a nutritionist to help change your body? Use the resources below:
- Nutrition for You: Try Manuel Villacorta's interactive, personalized nutrition web site, including live one-on-one interaction with the best registered dieticians.
- Find a Nutrition Professional: Find a nutritionist in your area with this searchable database from EatRight.org.