Tag Archives: carbs

Guest Blogger Colin DeWaay: How to Use “Bad” Foods to (Finally) Reach Your Goals

Sure you can lose weight eating ice cream every day, but it’s not healthy.” This is probably the number one argument I hear from people who promote a strictly “clean eating” approach to dieting when I talk about flexible dieting or specifically my diet. I’m dead serious when I say there’s barely a day that goes by where I don’t eat ice cream (and before bed too, gasp.) So while physically it looks like I’m in pretty good shape, I guess I’m unhealthy (my health markers would say otherwise, for the record.)

Hey I get it, I used to be a clean eater too. I think the majority of people who start out do the same thing. After all we’re told all the time to avoid junk food and eat more veggies right? Besides, it’s certainly good and I encourage a large portion of anyone’s diet to by nutrient dense and whole foods. They’ll typically have more vitamins/minerals and be more satiating, not to mention have a higher thermic effect of food. But does that mean eating ice cream, pizza, cookies or a glass of wine in any amount is automatically unhealthy?

I’ll say this much… Foods like junk food, fast food, sugary snacks, etc. are void of micronutrients and aren’t very filling so they can be easy to overeat, but does that mean they’re unhealthy? Well I believe that requires some context. I truly believe no food, on it’s own, is unhealthy. Say for instance a person is literally starving to death. If they’re offered a pizza should they turn it down because it’s “not healthy?” Of course not, in fact those calories would be VERY healthy to them. Calories are a good thing, they give us energy and make us function. It’s when we go too far in one direction where it becomes a problem.

But what about someone who eats a balanced diet, is health conscious and exercises regularly? Is incorporating a little ice cream into their diet daily really unhealthy? Is any amount of “bad” food ALWAYS bad? After all the argument here is that eating certain foods is always unhealthy no matter what, right? Well research doesn’t exactly support that argument…

Let’s take a closer look at sugar. EVERYONE can agree sugar is bad right? In fact I’ve literally had people tell me sugar was “the devil” (not joking.) Well again, this requires context. Again, yes sugar is easy to over eat and void of nutrients. My precious ice cream certainly has sugar in it, so am I unhealthy? Well there was a study published in 1997 that looked at the effect of sugar in a diet when protein, carbs and fat were matched. (1) In one group sugar made up 4% of their calories and in the other group 43% of calories came from sugar. That was the difference of about 11 grams of sugar per day and 118! Guess what? At the end of the study both groups lost the same amount of weight, both showed decreases in depression, hunger, negative mood and increases in vigilance and positive mood. But remember, the argument is that you can lose weight, but it’s not healthy. Well both groups also saw the same improvements in blood pressure, blood glucose, thyroid hormones and markers of inflammation with the only difference between a slight advantage to the low sugar group (less than a 10% difference) in cholesterol and blood lips. Which I’d make the argument it was because fiber was not matched. There are also other studies that looked at the difference between complex and simple carbs (often looked at as “good” or “bad” carbs) where they found no difference in weight loss or blood lipids. (2,3,4)

Besides research showing positive results despite the actual types of foods eaten, there are number anecdotal subjects who went through extreme measures to prove no foods were bad so long as you ate below maintenance. Remember the documentary “Supersize Me?” The guy ate nothing but McDonald’s, didn’t control calories at all, stopped exercising and gained a bunch of weight. (Duh) The whole world screamed for McDonald’s to be shut down because it’s making the world fat. Well a guy by the name of John Cisna didn’t agree and set out to prove them wrong. He spent 6 months eating NOTHING but McDonald’s. Following a 2,000 calorie diet he ended up losing 56 lbs, saw his cholesterol drop from 249 to 190 and by the end of it all he had normal sodium and blood pressure levels.

Or how about Mark Haub, a professor of human nutrition, who spent 2 months on what he called the “Twinkie Diet” eating two thirds of his food from things like Twinkies, Oreos, Little Debbie snacks and sugary cereals? He lost 27 lbs, his LDL (“bad cholesterol”) dropped by 20% and his HDL (“good cholesterol”) increased by 20% while seeing his triglycerides drop by 39%.

Then there is a man who runs a YouTube channel called “Abs & Ice Cream” who recently spent 100 days eating 2000 calories worth of ice cream… (Plus about 500 calories from whey protein.) Every. Single. Day. When I heard about this, you better believe I was paying attention. Guess what? He lost 32 lbs, his triglycerides dropped 25 points, HDL went up 17 points, LDL went down 6 points, and they rated his overall cardiac risk factors and it went from 2.3 to 1.6. Eating 2,000 calories of ice cream every day! But yeah my one bowl is unhealthy…

But I digress.

What does all this tell us? Well we should go out and eat whatever the hell we want and just control calories! Okay no, that’s not what I’m saying at all. But it does show that you CAN eat foods most deem as “unhealthy” and still be healthy. Furthermore I think it CLEARLY shows that how much bodyfat you store is a much bigger health factor than the actual foods you eat. Again, I still think a major portion of your diet should be from nutritious foods, but at that doesn’t mean you need to, or even should avoid certain foods because you think they’re bad. We always have to remember weight loss isn’t just a physical thing, the psychological side of things is not only just as important, but in my opinion MORE important.

It doesn’t matter how “optimal” a diet is if you can’t stick to it.

It doesn’t matter how “optimal” a diet is if you can’t stick to it. I’ve given you these stats before but it’s worth mentioning over and over. The evidence of weight loss success (meaning keeping it off) is BLEAK. Almost everyone who becomes obese loses a significant amount of weight in their life. But of those people less than 5% keep the weight off long-term. (5) FIVE PERCENT. That is a staggering number. I believe a big reason is because nobody thinks about sustainability when they diet. It’s always this mad dash to the finish line. Cutting out all their favorite foods, starving themselves, never thinking about how they’ll maintain the weight when (or more like if) it comes off. It doesn’t matter what you do to lose the weight if you can’t keep doing it when the weight is gone. THIS is why I find it so important include foods you enjoy into your diet and learn about moderation. If you’re controlling your intake, especially if you’re matching calories, protein and fiber, the actual foods you eat mean next to nothing. It’s time to stop looking for magic foods and start looking for something a little more realistic. No foods by themselves inherently make you fat or thin, everything requires CONTEXT.



For more information from Colin you may download this free guide to help give you some direction. This will also put you on an email newsletter where you’ll get daily emails. Warning – I tell you what you need to hear, not what you want to hear. So if you’re sensitive you may want to pass.


Colin DeWaay holds a personal training certification with the National Academy of Sports Medicine. He’s the owner of Colin DeWaay Training LLC, an online strength and nutrition consulting business that fully customizes training and nutrition programs for those interested in general fitness all the way up to advanced powerlifting programs. He specializes in helping people with a history of yoyo dieting create a more sustainable healthy lifestyle, improving metabolism through reverse dieting if necessary, and helping make binges a thing of the past by creating a healthy relationship with food utilizing flexible dieting. His goal is not to produce quick results, but to help produce realistic, sustainable results that last.





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45 Weeks Out – 3 Day Weekend! And “When Do I Start My Cut, Coach?”

Labor Day!  One of the most loved holidays by American teachers who’s school year starts before Sept 1.  That’s the weekend you get the extra rest you need after most energy is drained managing the chaos that is called “back-to-school”.  I’ve heard teachers talk about opening a year and comparing it other years just like the elders back in my home state of Minnesota talk about the “great blizzard of 19-whatever”.  Opening a school year is always hard.  I expected it to be harder for me, personally, just because this time around many things are new to me,  and it has met, if not exceeded, my expectations for difficulty.

So I’m chillaxin at least a day this weekend and blogging.  If you look closely, you can see the “L” key on my laptop has broken off.  I use “L” a lot – Love, Lift, Live…  Luckily, it still works.  Just a little awkward.

Joining the gym closer to my house was a smart move.   I’m not in love with the equipment (a bar weighed 40lbs, not the standard 45 lbs – glad I checked), but the gym’s location and  24-hr access make my life work better.  I’m able to get started earlier in the morning so I can actually finish my planned workout and have time to warm up, cool down, and shower before I want to arrive at school at 6 am.  I need to workout uber-early anyway.  I’m deadlifting at least twice a week now (YAY!!!!!!!) and this is one of those gyms that has a posted rule about loud noises.  It’s all good.  The eccentric part of my deads is a little harder now that I’m trying to be as quiet as possible.

I started the week wrong.  The plan was to get a lift done first thing Monday morning.   Alarm was set for 3 am.  A second one for 3:15 am.  Slept through both.  I woke up with the sun at 6:15, so I still had enough time to throw on clothes, grab food, and get to work with enough time to prepare for first period at 7:30.  Didn’t throw off more than that one day.

Sleep is OK.  I’m averaging about 6 hours a night, which is normal.  Not great, but if I have to get up at 3 am to make this all work, I’m grateful for 6 hours.  That’s the minimum I can do and feel human.  My goal for this 3-day weekend is an accumulated 24+ hours of sleep.  I treat sleep like some people treat cardio.  I have to – it’s my main strategy for controlling cortisol.  When I get enough sleep, I will drop water weight, too.  Two days in and I’m on track.  Check out  THESE numbers, baby.  BOOM!  Type-A-Overachiever Status!!!  It was a little tough this morning when I woke up early, but I put my head down and grinded out another TWO HOURS!

At the gym, things are moving along as they are supposed to now that I’m feeling better.  The program I was given a the beginning of August is unlike anything I’ve done before.  Since I’m working with a coach, I can’t divulge details, but it’s a daily undulating periodization program.  The exercises don’t vary, but the number of sets, reps, and loads do change from workout to workout.  Some days I’m training for hypertrophy, other days for strength.  I haven’t done a traditional bodybuilder body part split for months.  I like it!  Yesterday was the first time I did “singles” – many sets of 1 rep.  That was weird and fun.  And I’m deadlifting and squatting 2-3 times a week.  Sweet!  But squats are that exercise I don’t do well technically – which is why I’ve been doing overhead squats as a warm up for months.  My squats are still not great and not heavy, but they feel more solid.  Let’s check video…

This video was from last November.  (Advance it to 1:08 to see a similar weight on the bar.)

This video was recorded yesterday…


As of yesterday, I am 45 weeks out from my next competition.  Could be 41 weeks if I decide to do another local show instead.  I think I have about 25 pounds to lose and I’m anxious to get started.  Probably more anxious than my coach. The directive from our last Skype session when we went over my latest DEXA results and this new program was “stay the course”.   I am anxious to do a mini-cut, though.  My clothes are getting tight and I’m uncomfortable.  I’ve gained about 7 pounds since last November – that’s pretty decent for an “off-season”, I guess.  And I’m burning more and eating more.  Carb intake is up from an average of 160 grams per day last November to 270 grams a day now.   Some days I’m up around 320 grams.  But I want to lose weight as  s    l    o    w   l   y   as possible.   Starting soon would be awesome.  I think I need to start my prep at 40 weeks and will need to be convinced otherwise.

Competing is what keeps me motivated, but it’s not the end-all-be-all.  Living this way is how I stay balanced.  I need this to keep from losing myself trying to meet expectations of others.  Especially now that I’m working in a building where I have observed that the unspoken expectation is that teachers will work 10-12 hours a day.  At each staff meeting, there is a “thank you” ceremony for someone who has “gone above and beyond”  (which is secret code for “volunteered to work more than the 7.5 hours a day we are paid” – most of us do, but I’ve managed to cut my hours down from 70 a week to 40-45 a week, until now).  The rewards have included candy.   It’s an unhealthy expectation/reward combo.  I’m a bit flexible with my diet, sure, but because I train how I train, I can be flexible right now.  Not sure if/when I’m going to point out that they are rewarding stress with sugar.  I can see the effects of long term stress in my new colleagues.  Long term elevated cortisol will change how the body stores fat.   I’m not judging – I’m worried for them.  So much younger than me and on the same path I was on.  So, do I say anything?  Maybe, but it usually doesn’t work.   Rather just do my thing and let people ask when they are ready to know.   But this is why I need to re-establish my boundaries and stick with the program.  I’m surrounded by new people who didn’t know me before.  A few have seen my pics, but they didn’t watch me do it.  They have no idea and aren’t going to be as supportive as my friends at my old school.

These boundaries ultimately have made me a better wife and teacher.  This recharges me.  This prepares me to handle the stress each day.  Always working toward a goal helps me keep the day in perspective.  It makes me happy.



Filed under Bodybuilding Journal, Competing, Cortisol, Life, My Lifting Log, Teaching, Videos

Where Have I Been?

I have wanted to write.  It’s a busy time of year, but I also didn’t have anything positive to say.

I have time now.  Still not sure I have a lot of positive stuff to share.   I’ve been preoccupied with life.  The workouts are consistent and the food has been OK.  There is no way I would have been able to compete this year, so I’m glad I had already made the decision not to.

Finishing the school year has been emotional.  It’s always sad for me to say goodbye to the graduating seniors.  This year is harder because I’m leaving, so I had to say goodbye to everyone.  Many of my students are nervous about next year because for most of this year, we thought I was going to be their calculus teacher this fall.  I’m certain that transferring to middle school is a good decision, but I’ve been heartbroken for weeks.  Heartbroken and angry.  And that’s why I haven’t been able to write.  I shouldn’t share the details of what has happened, but I’ve wanted to.   I hope that what happened is an isolated event and is not happening at my new school.

Integrity and loyalty are important qualities to me.  I have the most internal conflict when they are at odds.

A fresh start in a new situation is exactly what I need.  And I am excited that I will be able to walk or bike to work.  I am still in the process of packing up my room and moving it.  That’s going to take a couple more days, I think.  I’ve purged a few times, and threw out a ton of stuff this time, but it seems like I have 9 years of paper clips and file folders.  Hahaha!

Please indulge me while I show off my wonderful kids…

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See?  That’s why I’m heartbroken.  Some are graduating and moving on.  But the younger ones – well, I feel like I’m leaving them behind.   There are a few who feel that way, too.  It’s a hard transition.


Meanwhile, in the gym…

I had a deload week last week.  Perfect timing for it.  I also had a minor pull in my right pec.  During the deload week, I didn’t do any chest work so it could heal.  Today was my first upper body lift after the deload.  After a few warm up sets of bench press, I loaded 115 pounds and tested it.  I wasn’t able to touch my chest with the bar.  Did two reps and dropped 10 pounds off.  At 105, I had full range of motion.  When I pulled the pec, I couldn’t even do light weight, so it was encouraging today.  I’m not sure if I couldn’t do the 115 or was just being cautious.

And in the kitchen…

My food intake is up because I’m packing and moving a lot of boxes.  I am using the BodyBugg to track calories burned and I eat all of them.  My intake is at maintenance or slightly higher.  I try to keep fat and protein grams consistent and adjust carbs up or down depending on the day.  I’ve had several days where the carb intake was getting pretty close to 300 grams.  I’m excited about that.  If I can get to the point where I’m maintaining my weight on 300 carbs a day, cutting will be so much easier.  If I’m eating that much more because I’m more active, that’s not exactly the same as having a faster metabolism, but I’ll take it.  My level of activity will be going up naturally since my commute to work will be on a bike or by foot.  And my new classroom is on the second floor.




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