My friend and colleague Nate Green is having his first book published momentarily (congrats Nate!). One would think this guy is too young to know anything, but what separates him from 99.99% of trainers is that he has sought out the best to learn from. So I recommend you read the following excerpt from his book Built For Show. And since Nate is a better writer than I below I'll quote some tips for issues I see on a daily basis.
Things fat guys believe that keep them fat
"If I eat before and after workouts, my body won't burn as much fat."
Skipping meals is the best way I know to prevent your body from using its stored fat for energy. Counterintuitive as it seems, regular meals, including pre- and post-workout nutrition, will promote steady fat loss. It works the same way whether you're lean or lardy. The more often you eat while you're doing a serious training program, the more fat you lose.
Your body needs fuel, pure and simple. A pre-workout meal of protein and carbohydrates will actually enhance blood flow and help deliver nutrients to the muscles when they need it most: when you're breaking them down by working out. Similarly, a post-workout meal will help speed muscle growth and help you recover quicker before your next formal (weight-lifting) or informal (girl-lifting) training session.
That said, I'm not particularly militant about pre-workout meals. I don't think it's a good idea to work out on an empty stomach, so I tell my clients who like to work out in the morning that they should eat something first. What they eat, and how much they eat, is more of a personal thing.
Later in the day, do what works best for you. If you can't train hard without eating something right before your workout, make sure you have something ready to eat. If you can get in a good workout two or three hours after your most recent meal, that's cool. I'm not going to tell you to ignore your body and follow some arbitrary guideline.
"I'm trying to build size, not strength."
The human body isn't stupid. If it's going to overcome a genetic propensity toward low body weight, it needs a better excuse than "I just want to be bigger." Strength is the excuse. Give the muscles tasks that push their limits, using heavy weights and smart program design, and they'll get bigger to meet the increased need for strength.
I realize I'm swimming in dark waters here, given that the title of my book uses the words "built," "for," and "show," in that order. The implication, of course, is that I'm advocating anything but a "form-follows-function" approach.
But I see no contradiction in acknowledging that all of us reading this want good-looking, eye-catching muscle, while telling you the best way to build it is to forget what your muscles look like and focus instead on what they can do.
As I always say getting fit is simple, but not easy. If you need to lose fat, gain muscle, or both, then you've got to be consistent in your nutrition and training. And listen to your trainer *wink*.
Sure it takes commitment and a willingness to trash old habits, but is there any downside to leading a healthier lifestyle?
I thought not.