How do you lose bodyfat without tracking?
This episode of 3D Muscle Journey is a “surprise” Q&A episode with Jeff and Brad, and about halfway through the episode, they tackle the above question.
They give some advice that I agree with–that folks need some kind of structure, that they need to have some general awareness of what’s in their food, and that it’s helpful to keep protein on the higher side to help maintain muscle and improve satiety.
But there’s also some stuff in there that really makes me cringe, and I wish I could get these guys to sit down with folks like Georgie Fear, Dr. Susan Kleiner, or Jen and Annie from Balance 365 so that they can learn from these talented women. The reality is that Jeff and Brad sound like two old-school bodybuilders answering this question, and I worry that they’re potentially missing an opportunity to help someone who may have a very good reason for wanting to avoid tracking at this time.
First, I wish they would make some reference to the fact that it’s possible, and given this is a bodybuilding podcast, maybe even probable, that the person asking the question may not have fat to lose using self-regulation strategies. They kind of get into this at the end by talking about not tracking during a prep. However, it’s entirely likely that the person asking the question is not currently in a prep and just is desiring to lose some bodyfat. These non-tracking strategies can be used to help someone get into a healthier weight range, but they are not typically useful to get to athletic levels of leanness, unless the person is genetically lucky. For the rest of us, non-tracking strategies can get us to a healthy weight range for us, which may or may not mean getting to the “healthy” weight range on some medical chart. We each have our own body type.
Then, at one point Brad references “eating clean” and “eating dirty.” Ugh. This kind of language, and the thinking behind it, is associated with folks having more rigid mindsets about food, which often leads to cycles of restriction and overeating. And in general, I’ve found they have a very bodybuilder-esque mindset about hunger and don’t seem to have a lot of strategies to help folks develop that mindset if it isn’t already in place. They will often give the advice to “embrace the suck,” learn to just accept that hunger is part of the process, but there hasn’t been conversation about how hunger will be different for each of us, and when hunger kicks in, and how strong it will be will differ depending on our own personal biologies. It’s gonna suck a lot more for some people than for others. And so again, I think this is an area they could learn a lot from the world of obesity medicine and treatment.
They end the discussion talking about how tracking becomes necessary when someone is looking to reach elite levels of conditioning, and maybe that’s true. I don’t have any experience with it, and it holds no appeal to me to try. However, I think arguments can be made, and Eric Helms has made them, that competing in bodybuilding may be the only time that level of granularity is necessary. I would add, it can be detrimental for many folks to overfocus on those details, preventing them from doing the mindset work necessary to make lasting changes in their behaviors that get to the root of any dysregulated eating. Tracking only trains us how to manage our eating while tracking. Personally, I’m interested in being able to eat to my goals without having to log my food forever. Tracking can have a place in teaching us insights into our choices, but it needn’t be the end-goal for most of us.
I have a lot of respect for the folks at 3DMJ, and I think overall they’re doing a lot of good spreading the word about healthier options for folks who love the sport of bodybuilding. I would love for them to sit down with any of the experts I listed above to learn from them and grow the list of strategies they can offer to folks who are looking for healthier ways to manage their physiques. When those conversation happen, you know I will want to talk about it here!