The 2008 Fat Loss Roundtable – Part 2

Featuring Dr. Christopher R. Mohr, Mike Roussell, and Chris Shugart

Miss Part I? You can find it HERE.

T Nation: Mike, Dr. Mohr gave us his list of basic
rules as we ended the last segment. You have a list like that too,
right?

Mike Roussell: Yes, what I call the 6 Pillars of Naked
Nutrition:

1. Eat five to six times a day.

2. Limit your consumption of sugars and processed
foods.

3. Eat fruits and vegetables throughout the day.

4. Drink more water and cut out calorie-containing beverages
(beer, soda, etc.).

5. Focus on consuming lean proteins throughout the
day.

6. Save starch containing foods until after a workout or for
breakfast.

If the average obese woman would do that and exercise,
she’d drop 100 pounds and get off her meds, easy. I’ve
seen it happen (I’ve made it happen). By the way, you’ll
notice that my list is similar to Dr. Mohr’s and Dr. John
Berardi’s. These “rules” that we’ve each created are very similar
because that is what works!

T Nation: Chris, what’s your advice for curing the average
obese person’s problem?

Shugart: I think men should just withhold cock. Women should
withhold the vag, too.

Stop having sex with fat people and they’ll snap out of it and
lose some damn weight. They don’t because, for some strange reason,
people still have sex with them. We need IQ tests before having
children and we need body fat tests before being allowed to
practice making children.

T Nation: There’s been a ton of talk about
intervals lately, with some people going as far as saying that
twelve minutes per week of intervals is enough for fat loss. Buy
into it?

Roussell: Twelve minutes per week? No. Jason Ferruggia started a
“war” against intervals a month or so ago and people got their
posing trunks in a bunch.

If I read what he was writing correctly, Jason wasn’t
anti-intervals. He was pro-hard work. Losing fat is easy but it
requires hard work. That was his point. A pro-bodybuilder may not
do intervals but they train twice a day and do 60-90 minutes of
cardio a day. When you do that much work you don’t need
intervals.

Everyone is worried about overtraining. You aren’t going to
overtrain with three 60 minute sessions a week. I think that Coach
Dos Remedios has a refreshing look at work capacity in this era of
“overtraining.” The human body is remarkable so let’s push it
to see just how remarkable and resilient it can be. In the process,
we’ll sculpt a great body.

Dr. Mohr: Excellent points. I love intervals myself, but in my
opinion, intervals can’t be the sole form of exercise. Yes,
they’re intense. Yes, they burn more calories than steady
state exercise – during and post exercise. But that surge in
calories burned surely won’t offset a 30 year soda addiction
or a 500 calorie Latte from Starbucks everyday. Be practical and be
realistic.

They’re a nice tool to add to your toolbox, but one of my
favorite sayings is, “If your only tool in the toolbox is a hammer,
everything looks like a nail.” It’s not the be-all and end-all
for permanent fat loss success.

Change is good. Adopt new principles and strategies. I’m
not going to tell my 400 pound clients to do intervals each week
when I’m simply hoping they can walk for five minutes without
having to catch their breath. It’s all
relative.

T Nation: What do you think of the interval debate,
Chris?

Shugart: Here’s the key: control your damn diet and you don’t
need to worry about steady state vs. intervals, because you just
won’t need much of either. Weight training takes care of heart
health anyway, so “cardio” of any type can be minimized if you stop
sucking lard through a straw at dinner time.

T Nation: Okay, what’s the absolute top of the
priority list when looking to help someone lose weight? Is it
carbs? Fat? Exercise? Something else?

Roussell: Cut out sugars/starches and eat more vegetables. Next
would be exercise. You can’t out-train eating calorie/sugar
dense foods. The numbers just don’t work. You need to control
your calorie intake and insulin somehow. Boosting your vegetable
consumption and cutting out sugars/starches is a really easy way to
do that.

Shugart: Look at the big picture. A sculptor doesn’t work on the
fine details until he first knocks off great chunks of marble with
a big hammer. So, look to knock off the big chunks first, i.e. the
major stuff that wrecks your body:

Sugared sodas

95% of bread products

Four hours of TV a day (which is the average)

There you go: tons of worthless calories and carbs removed and
plenty of time to go to the gym! Unfortunately, it’s easier to
change a person’s religion than it is to pry the Cokes and bread
out of their chubby fingers.

T Nation: Let’s say someone comes to you and swears
they’re making all the necessary changes to lose weight, but the
weight is absolutely stagnant. What do you recommend? A lot of
folks suggest boosting calories to “boost” metabolic rate. Good
plan?

Dr. Mohr: No, I want to look at what they’re actually
doing. I’m a trusting person, but a lot of times people
don’t think about the sips of juice, bites of their kid’s
sandwich, etc., that all adds up. My friend calls this the
“BLT Diet” – bites, licks, and tastes. Let’s really pinpoint
where the calories are coming from and then we can tweak if need
be.

Roussell: Well, first I’d pretend my name was Gregory House and
assume that they were lying to me because that’s often the
case.

Next, I’d make sure they were getting enough carbs around their
workout to maximize energy and training intensity. Then I’d get
them to add metabolism-boosting stuff during the day – an
extra day of weights (going from a three to a four day split),
adding an interval session, having them do a Tabata at night.

Depending on what their calorie level was and how long they’ve
been reducing their calories, I’d then either decrease their
calories or temporarily (one to two weeks) increase their calories.
Increasing calories to increase metabolic rate can work, but not
from just one feeding or one day. I think that’s great for one’s
psyche but not their thyroid. You need to increase your calories
for longer than that – it isn’t that easy to fool the
human body.

Shugart: I have to agree with Dr. Mohr here. I’d want a detailed
list of what they were eating before I ever worried about a
compromised metabolic rate.

I told one fat guy to have a low-carb protein shake at night to
reduce nighttime overeating. What did he do? He mixed it with whole
milk, then added sugary yogurt, and bananas. Then he told me he was
“doing just what ya told me to, Mr. Shugart!”

This isn’t politically correct, but working with people who have
weight problems is a lot like working with the mentally
handicapped.

T Nation: There are a million diet books out there;
obviously they’re not the answer. Why not? What’s missing
from these diet books that keeps people from learning how to lose
weight permanently?

Dr. Mohr: Behavior change, plain and simple!

Roussell: You know what’s not missing? Gimmicks.
Diet books are written on gimmicks. That’s part of the
problem. I wouldn’t say all mainstream diet books are crap. The Zone is good, Atkins Revolution, TNT Diet,
and I heard the nutrition chapter in the Men’s Health Book
of Power Training
is unbelievable!

More of the problem is the mindset of people who buy the books.
Their mentality is all quick-fix, not “I’m going to eat this
way for life.”

Shugart: What’s missing is the psychological side: the
emotional issues, the addiction issues, and as Dr. Mohr said, the
behavioral roadblocks. Again, we know Twinkies are bad; the problem
is we eat them anyway. That stuff starts in the head, not on the
plate.

T Nation: Are there any foods that you’ve found to
enhance weight loss? There’s always talk about cayenne pepper
enhancing thermogenesis, thermic effect of protein, etc. Do these
play a major role in the big picture?

Roussell: I don’t think you can single out just one thing.
The idea that using more cayenne pepper will make you lose weight
is just crazy to me.

The smart approach takes into account a lot of different ideas.
Look at our basic rule lists again. They combine the powers of all
different types of foods to elicit maximal weight loss. It
isn’t about just one food; it’s the synergistic effect of a
smart diet.

Dr. Mohr: I agree 100%. While each of our sets of “rules” differ
a tad, it shouldn’t be surprising to hear that they’re all
very, very similar. You can’t just focus on one thing or
another; everything together will get you the results you
desire.

Shugart: I think these things can play a role in the big
picture. Some play small roles; some can play major roles.

TEF, or the Thermic Effect of Food, is pretty cool, as is the
Satiety Index stuff. Eat more protein and fiber and you’ll get full
faster and stay full longer. That’s very helpful in the big
picture, way more important than if a certain pepper might boost
thermogenesis a little.

In that regard, getting full on lower calorie foods plays a huge
role. It’s called “Volumetrics” though I really don’t like the diet
plan by the same name, which is essentially another low-fat diet.
But the overall idea is a good one: get full without taking in tons
of calories. So, lots of meat, lots of veggies.

Works like a charm, and that’s good because potion control is
even less successful than the pull-out method of teenage birth
control. Who wants to stop eating when they’re still hungry? But
get someone full on very few fibrous, protein-filled calories and
they’ll lose fat.

T Nation: Good info. Now, what time of day do I need
to stop eating? I usually hear anything from 6-9 PM. Is this really
important?

Dr. Mohr: If I’m hungry at 10 PM, I’m going to eat at
10 PM, and I usually do. It’s more about total calories than
the specific time of day.

Now, with that said, I wouldn’t recommend a 64 ounce
Slurpee from 7-Eleven right before catching some shuteye, but, then
again, I wouldn’t recommend that any other time either. As a
general rule of thumb, if a drink takes two hands to hold,
it’s more than you need in one sitting.

And, really, if there was just one magical time, why does every
recommendation change (4 PM, 6 PM, 8 PM, etc.)?

Roussell: Like Dr. Mohr said, I don’t think it’s as
important as total calories. I usually have my last meal rather
close to when I go to sleep. Two tablespoons of peanut butter with
some Metabolic Drive to wash it down.

Energy balance is relative but it’s also additive (throughout
the day and week). I’ve found that people who restrict their intake
starting at 6 PM are more likely to go off their diet at night, or
don’t last as long as other people because they burn up all
their willpower.

Shugart: I’ll mildly disagree here. I’ve found that stopping
eating an hour or three before bed leads to rapid fat loss or
maintenance of already low body fat. I also make that final meal
low-carb.

Binge eating is the number one eating disorder in North America
now. And most people do it at night. Make the last meal low carb
and don’t eat right before bed. That would solve most of our
obesity epidemic.

Now, I don’t go for this “stop eating at 4PM” junk, but a couple
of hours before bed? Yes, it works in my experience. And I don’t
want to hear any of this “but I’ll go catabolic and lose muscle”
crap. Dude, if you’re storing enough “energy” in your love handles
to shelter a small family of illegal immigrants from the rain, then
you ain’t gonna shrink overnight!

T Nation: Next topic: Exercise in the morning on an
empty stomach. Useful to ramp up fat loss?

Dr. Mohr: A bunch of bologna.

Roussell: For the average person, no. It can help as you get
really lean because then every little bit helps, but for someone
trying to get down to 10% body fat they’re better off having some
calories before their workout because they’ll have more energy
to train.

Shugart: Cardio on an empty stomach? Yeah, it might have some
small benefit for fat loss compared to other times of the day (but
I’d still take a bunch of tablet-form BCAA first.) Weight training
before breakfast? That’s crazy talk.

T Nation: Alright, we have all this information for
our clients, but when it comes down to it, they don’t know the
basics. Do you cook for them? Take them grocery shopping? Clean out
their pantries? Do people really need this much
handholding?

Roussell: It depends on how much they pay me! [laughing] Some
people are hopeless. You could do all those things for them and
they would still probably fail. It’s a mindset thing.

Shopping and cooking good food isn’t that hard. You just
need to be committed to it (and not committed to eating
cheeseburgers). For someone to be successful with their fat loss
they need to take ownership of the current state of their body, how
they got there, and whose responsibility it is to get them where
they want to be.

Most of the time handholding doesn’t help. Look at the guy
who was in the Physique Clinic who dropped out. Free
unlimited access to Coach Thibaudeau and Shugart. All the free
supplements he needed; he didn’t even need to cook. He could
have just drank Metabolic Drive Complete and Surge! He also had the
accountability of however many tens of thousands of people reading
his threads, and he still dropped out.

Dr. Mohr: For some it takes all of those things, but handholding
does help, as long as it gets folks headed in the right direction.
That’s why we filmed our Grocery ShoppingDVD and why we
have three more in the works.

Shugart: Yeah, once the person is dedicated and truly ready to
change, then you can do some handholding to help them out and speed
up the learning process. But that unwavering decision has to be
made by them first. Otherwise you waste your time.

I’ve bought people gym memberships, written them programs,
trained them for free, and given them supportive supplements…
and they quit and chose to stay fat anyway. That’s why you have to
start psychologically. Without that cognitive foundation –
the first step in body transformation – all this exercise and
diet info is pointless.

T Nation: Rapid fire question time! First thoughts
that come to mind: Cinnamon for insulin sensitivity (so carryover
to fat loss).

Dr. Mohr: Very cool data with blood sugar and boosting insulin
sensitivity, but very few studies to support this (or refute it).
Again, it doesn’t hurt, so add it to shakes, oatmeal,
etc.

Roussell: Probably, but I’d like some more
research.

Shugart: Fat people will just use this data to justify eating
cinnamon rolls.

T Nation: Coffee: Is it thermogenic?

Roussell: More delicious than thermogenic

Dr. Mohr: Not in and of itself. When caffeine is coupled with
other ingredients, there’s hope. And think black coffee, not
“Starbucks A Latte of Calories.”

Shugart: Caffeine is mildly helpful, but a drop in the bucket in
the big picture.

T Nation: CLA?

Dr. Mohr: Promising, but not even close to magic.

Roussell: Not going to do fat loss miracles, but a good addition
to a fat burner stack.

Shugart: Possible anti-inflammatory and cancer-fighting
properties. Get the right isomer and it’s good stuff. I take it
daily because it’s contained in Flameout.

T Nation: Moderation: Easy way out or necessary for
folks making change?

Roussell: Depends. Some people need to be eased into things and
some people need to just be thrown into the fire. You need to know
what type of person you are and make the necessary
moves.

Dr. Mohr: For most of the population, perfect. I usually say 90%
clean eating, 10% ease up a bit.

Shugart: Moderation works about as well as the “I’ll only put it
in a little” method of virginity preservation.

Most people can’t psychologically handle moderation, not at
first at least. They must go all-or-nothing to break the bad
habits. I don’t buy this “only eat a little poison as a treat”
method of improving health.

T Nation: Apple cider vinegar for fat loss?

Roussell: Vinegar does lower glycemic response, so useful? Yes.
Will it make or break your plan? No.

Dr. Mohr: If it makes you gag and throw up, sure. But it’s
thrown around like a miracle liquid and that couldn’t be
further from the truth.

Shugart: Apple cider vinegar diets are on the cover of the
tabloids all the time, right next to the three-headed Bigfoot
babies. So it must be true.

T Nation: Cheat day.

Dr. Mohr: Silly concept. Enjoy your foods. Stop looking at them
like you’re “cheating” if you’re eating clean most of the
time. I teach long term solutions, not quick fixes. And if a “cheat
day” is eat clean all week, then gorge yourself until you’re sick
on Saturday and Sunday, then it’s stupid.

This dude can have a cheat day.

Roussell: Cheat day? Sure. But if you’re fat don’t go
overboard. There’s no point to dieting your ass off all week just
to consume 10,000 calories of KFC, pizza, and Coronas.

Shugart: I recommended cheat days for years. And I didn’t see my
abs for years. Coincidence? Cheat days are self-defeating and they
glorify bad foods and make them even more “special” and “rewarding”
in your mind. Bad idea.

Okay, maybe one cheat day a month once you have abs, not
before. That’s it. I have one about every four to six weeks myself.

T Nation: Lots of info! Thanks for your time, guys!