These are pieces of knowledge I put together from years of experience changing body composition. I’ve experimented on myself with what seems like every conflicting philosophy out there regarding physique transformation. In conclusion, you will see that controlling your food environment and/or your behavioral response to your environment is THE biggest factor in changing the shape of your body.
Some of these truths may blow you away.
#1 Body fat (or lack of it) has the most dramatic affect on your appearance. This is truer the leaner you get. Fat is lumpy and muscle is sleek, even untrained muscle.
#2 You can change fat more dramatically than muscle (minus drugs). Obviously, there are the genetically elite, but muscle building is a slow and laborious process compared to fat building.
#3 Caloric restriction, fasting, or skipping meals does NOT lower your metabolism to any degree that matters to you. Yes, thyroid activity adapts to a fasted state, BUT this adjustment is to your advantage because it helps to preserve muscle and glucose while continuing to utilize fat. You will not hear this much anywhere. You want a “high metabolism”? Stuff yourself at a buffet as often as you can.
#4 Beyond juvenile muscle growth, effective training is what builds muscle (anabolic steroids and other growth-enhancing drugs do so as well, but they’re not limited to muscle tissue). You do NOT need excessive calories, protein, or body fat to build muscle. You DO however, need excessive calories to build body fat.
#5 Calories burned from exercise will never measure up to the calories that can be ingested from food, especially if you live in North America. For example, running a half marathon, you can burn approximately 1/4 pound of body fat. You can also gain 1/4 pound of body fat from ingesting a box of cookies on top of your basal metabolic requirement. I can casually eat a box of cookies in 5 minutes. How long did it take you to complete a half marathon?
#6 – The simple truth about fat-burning supplements is that you don’t need them. Even if a powerful drug (illegal) burned half of your daily requirement, let’s say 1000 calories, understanding what that would entail physiologically, the drug would involve massive side effects, and you can still get 1000 calories from that box of cookies.
#7 Muscle does NOT burn a significant number of calories. Many sources claim 50-100 extra calories burned per pound of muscle, but this is utter nonsense. The actual figure is 5-10 calories, meaning if you gained 10 pounds of dry muscle (which is phenomenal, by the way) you can expect to burn an extra 50-100 calories per day. Whoop dee doo. You can now eat 3/4 of a Reese’s Cup, even though I wouldn’t expect anyone to gain 10 pounds of pure muscle unless they were completely new to weight training or were on growth-promoting drugs.
#8 – Your environment primarily affects what you eat. Think about that. Social gatherings, the people you hang out with and the way they eat, holidays, billboards, special deals, leftovers, and all of the different emotions you experience in a day, combined with Westernized caloric abundance, and you have an fail-safe recipe for efficient fat storage.
These 8 truths weren’t meant to depress you (although they may have); but to know what you’re working with so that you can steer the right path.