A lot of this tutorial talks about the app or web which is the heart of the ETP coaching experience (it’s free to members):
First things first, to ask an ETP coach a question (assuming you are a member or on a free trial) use the Message A Coach button this is what it looks like. In the old app it was at the bottom of the main screen in the new app it’s in the hamburger menu upper left.
Should I be concerned if my weight is up?
The simple answer is no because the goal of Eat To Perform is fat loss over time, at certain stages that would mean aggressive weight loss and at other times it would mean weight stable or trending slowly down. When a coach looks at your review the first thing we look at is your weight goal and how you are responding to that goal. The plan is actually set up for your weight to go both up and down, this is a sign of a healthy metabolism. Logically it makes sense that weight doesn’t JUST go down but it can be frustrating at times. This is where coaches come in, once we analyze the overall trend we make adjustments to help you reach your goals. That said, this often comes down to a wants and needs situation, sometimes you might want to be in Fat Loss cycle but we aren’t going to bang your head against a rock trying to make minimal progress. There is one instance where someone might look at actively trying to gain weight and that would be in a Muscle Gain phase but that is outside the scope of this question.
2. I just went to (insert vacation, family gatherings, holiday parties or whatever) and my weight is up HELP!
The first thing you want to do here is to not panic. It’s natural to go to the state fair, eat all the food and look at your muscles all filled up and think “I’m jacked” let’s go visit the scale. A lot of the foods that make all of these gatherings fun also are high in sodium or in the case of alcohol consumption, the body takes a while to process. The best solution is to keep sodium around 2000 for a couple days, drink lots of water and make sure you keep fiber in the mix. If you are doing this all of the time, stop doing that (and we can help).
The worse thing you can do is here is slash calories, the reason is simple. Part of Eating To Perform is to eat whole foods and starches in abundance normally. This provides you both the macronutrients (carbs, proteins and fats) and the micronutrients (vitamins) to adapt to your workouts and improve. We then use those calories to refine your results. Eat To Perform is about living life on life’s terms and as your calories rise what you will find is that your body handles these moments a lot better so if you just slash calories you are essentially compromising your metabolism and exercise unnecessarily and setting up a mental scenario where you can’t enjoy life.
3. I am going on vacation and logging will be difficult, what should I do?
In your journal just write a note to a coach and let them know when you will be back.
4. I didn’t do the plan for the last four days and I forgot to mention that I would be on vacation, in that time I entered my weight and EMMA bumped me 4 times, what should I do?
(EMMA is the Eat To Perform algorithm that helps coaches customize your plan)
If you aren’t doing the plan (there are lot’s of reasons people can’t for one reason or another) and your weight is under the goal EMMA WILL 100% give you more food, that’s how the system works. The system assumes you are doing the plan since ETP is a coaching service, right now, the best solution during moments like this is to just not enter your weight or use “Ask A Coach” in your journal and a coach can pull your plan down for you.
5. How long does someone stay in a Fat Loss phase and why did EMMA give me food in a Fat Loss phase when I hit my goal?
Someone will stay in a Fat Loss phase as long as they are hitting goals, the goals are set lower as the coaches see fit and are lowered on the next review (you can also message your coach to ask for weight goal to be lowered once you have hit a goal). The system default is 24 days with 2 cycles, the second cycle is optional. For more information on what that exactly looks like check out this article.
6. My fat loss cycle just ended but I still have weight to lose, what happens now?
The success of any deficit cycle always depends on how you were eating previous to that. Most people are aware that they just can’t diet forever but they have no real way of determining what “normal” really is. This is where our recomp cycle is a game changer for most folks. It naturally brings you to “normal” as fast as possible with little to no weight gain (people often go lower than their fat loss low) and that sets up a better deficit the next time a fat loss cycle is determined to be the course of action. Here is an article on why people lose fat when they aren’t in fat loss.
7. How long do I stay in recomp before I should consider another Fat Loss cycle?
First let me say that not everyone needs a fat loss cycle, in fact, I would say more than 50% of all Eat To Performers make more progress in recomp than they ever do in Fat Loss. Recomp is about building muscle and increasing your metabolic rate, this happens with more work capacity and fueling your achievements. The minimum period you need to be in performance recomp before a coach will move you to Fat Loss is 2 months but like I said earlier, the longer you are in recomp and the higher your calories the more aggressive your progress will be in Fat Loss. The problem with the way most people approach Fat Loss is that their calories are never high enough to actually get to a deficit and so they have to keep going lower and lower to the point of dysfunction.
8. My weight goal is very close to my current weight, why isn’t it lower?
Here is the standard math on recomp. When you are moved from Fat Loss to recomp a coach adds food to your plan gradually while keeping your weight stable but it’s very common for people to lose weight in what we call the “adaptation prevention” phases. We call them this because as your calories go lower your body adapts to that so we use these phases so that you don’t plateau. As you hit your goals coaches will lower the goal giving you a greater challenge.
9. I am scared to eat more food, won’t I gain weight?
The narrative that more food makes you gain weight is the reason why we have an obesity epidemic on our hands. With less food work output is compromised and I am not talking about extreme exercise, I am talking about everything including just wanting to get off of the couch. Sleep also is affected when you are under eating so if you are sleeping 6 hours a day or less it’s time to be done dieting for a while, otherwise you will blow through muscle and I am sure you are aware muscle is not fat. When you increase the raw materials (food/fuel) human beings recover better, sleep more and a whole host of things that are positive. FOOD IS THE ANSWER! Dieting is like being in an abusive relationship, every time you live life the answer is always less and LESS is why people have more fat than they would like. When you couple sleep, activity and adequate food, great things happen. If you don’t believe me check with our thousands of members but like any abusive relationship there is fear involved when you move on. Being a little afraid in the beginning is normal. You can talk about this with your assigned coach.
10. I am above my goal weight in recomp, what happens now?
Here is where your coach is your best ally in your struggle. Your coach will give you tips on how to reach your goal and keep you focused. The biggest thing to remember is about coaching is that your coach isn’t an order taker, they know what will get you results and having weight fluctuate a few pounds is ok as long as it’s setting up something for the future or allowing you to build lean mass replacing your fat layer.
11. Getting to a healthy deficit and seeing results without destroying your body and mind?
If lean is the goal then building and maintaining muscle is important, you can’t do that in a deficit all of the time. It is a known fact that under eating negatively affects holding and building lean mass but what about mental capacity? If you have ever been hangry you know that your mentality can be negatively affected acutely by under eating but what about long term? There are strong links to depression and inactivity and while your brain and organs CAN make glucose breaking down fats and protein this is meant as preservation method, not it’s primary function. So if you knew that your muscles and brain need glucose to thrive then it would be irresponsible to deny them the fuel that is so readily available. Your body stores fat based on need and holds onto fat when ready sources of energy aren’t provided. This is why dieting yourself to optimal body composition is so difficult. Let me give you a math example, let’s say you have a female and she weighs 144 pounds and let’s just go with some simple math, she wants to lose 1.5 pounds or roughly 750 calories a day, she is much more likely to reach her goal if she was eating 3200 calories rather than 1400. At 3200 calories she can easily move to 2450 with a little discomfort but it’s doable. In the 1400 scenario the person would need to get to 650 calories, there are people that will say that is doable but at what cost? Is depression OK? How about adding an eating disorder to the list of problems this person has? This is the problem with losing fat at all costs and as quickly as possible, not only does it not work in a lot of cases it causes massive rebounds and is pretty much EXACTLY how most people end up obese. Those that don’t end up obese often do not have a healthy relationship with food or exercise. So what starts off as a minor body composition issue becomes something much more sinister. I often say it’s like using a nuclear bomb to deal with a cockroach problem. Not only is it unnecessary but you might not actually kill the cockroaches.
12. Why your weight goal “wish number” needs to evolve
We’ve all done it. When I was 29 I was X amount of body fat and I weighed X amount of pounds. For women pregnancy often makes this number difficult. The problem is that as you age you should be adding muscle to your frame so if you weighed X at 29 but now your muscle mass is 8 pounds more your “wish number” needs to become X + 8. So if you were 129 pounds when you were 29 and now you have 8 pounds more muscle your “wish number” needs to become 137 to keep up with all that awesome you just added. So the next logical question should be, how do I know how much muscle I have added in that time? This can be difficult but one of the advantages of having higher weight for certain periods of time is that your body adjusts to that weight. When pull ups become harder at 145 that’s the stimulus that adds lean mass so in the example above, all things being equal the person doing pullups at 129 should feel roughly the same or better at 137 because of the added lean mass.
It’s ok to have a wish number but for most people it’s a distraction which is why we provide you your goals and they are short and obtainable.
13. Short term goals versus long term goals, what should win?
The best way to describe this is by using an example. In this example the person started in a fat loss phase and went from 195 to 180. The person was moved to recomp. This person is now sitting at 182 pounds with 2 weeks before 2 months is up and 6 weeks before 3 months (the recomp window) but is feeling uncomfortable that their weight is up. In this example the coach is going to raise the weight goal to 181.9 and recommend the client aim for 3 months, let me explain why. 15 pounds is a lot of weight to lose and 2 pounds is a small price to pay for the ultimate goal, this is where a lot of people fail, they put the short term goal ahead of the long term goal, so they get stuck at 179.9 and never get to 169.9 or lower in the process. Their short term goals ultimately end up compromising their long term goals. There are lots of decisions that are very difficult when you are talking about mentality and goal setting and any one variable can change this, this is why most people need a coach, left to their own devices they opt for the short term solution over the long term plan.
14. I don’t think I workout enough to DESERVE all this food?
This is easy to prove or disprove. All we need to do is monitor your situation as coaches and set your goals appropriately and you naturally will land where your calories were supposed to be all along. Deserve is a funny word, no one is undeserving of food but if you knew how much you could or could not eat you wouldn’t need a coach to help you along. When I first started exercising I actually pushed it too far too fast and got sick and hurt a lot. When you are new to exercise or getting back into the groove a bit take it easy but as your body adapts to the stimulus it’s food and rest that will help that process along. This helps you hold onto muscle and is the portion of fat loss people focus on the least.
15. I am new and this seems like a lot of food, can I just slowly start and work my way up?
No, let me explain why. Your basic assumption is that food is the problem and one thing we know beyond a shadow of a doubt is that the slower you work someone up the less likely they will be to reach their full calorie expression. This might not seem like a big deal but it’s actually the real secret to reaching your long term goals. We actually used to do it this way (and we still are very respectful, we don’t increase calories immediately as an example) because that’s how most people did it but what we saw over and over was that the people that added food faster actually had a lot more success than the people that slowly added it. Ultimately Eat To Perform is a coaching program and if you have been dieting for many years there is certainly going to be a level of discomfort and fear when you start but it’s unfair to you to not force that discomfort because that is what a coach does after all. They take you from a place where you are and ultimately move you to a better place. The bigger point is that you never actually get where you want to go doing it that way. People (wrongly) assume that eating more causes weight gain and this just isn’t true, we prove this over and over each day. Said simply if you want to have the most success the fastest the best way to do that is to do the plan as soon as possible that way coaches can make adjustments along the way.
16. I entered my weight in the evening and EMMA bumped me, what should I do?
No matter what time zone we put EMMA on someone is affected negatively. EMMA is on Eastern Standard Time Zone so if you live in Hawaii and you enter your weight below your goal at say 9pm, EMMA actually thinks it’s the next day. So when you wake up and weigh yourself but your weight is higher than your goal but you see that EMMA gave you credit for a goal hit this is why. We are working on making this time zone specific in the future and hope to have this in place first quarter of 2018.
17. What to do when you are feeling bloated?
If you have been under eating for some time as you expand your metabolism sometimes it takes a bit to adjust. The first thing to look at are food choices, mostly you want whole foods and starches, keep sugars relatively low (a bit higher if it’s fruit) and make sure you are getting in a good amount of fiber in that process. It is normal for your body to need to adjust so once you have looked at food choices then we need to look at activity. It’s very normal as an example to feel bloated as your body absorbs nutrients in the evening but then you wake up leaner. If it continues for longer than a few days mention it to a coach and they can make an adjustment. The thing to remember is that what makes you bloated at one point won’t make you bloated once your body adjusts. Here is a great article on why being bloated occasionally is how you lose fat and gain lean mass.
18. Do human beings look at my plan?
Yes, ETP uses a combination of technology and live human beings to provide you the maximum amount of attention. Once a week your coach at Eat To Perform coach is guaranteed to look at your plan and another point it’s reviewed by a larger team. So each client gets reviewed twice a week (for some people it’s 8 days but it’s still a good amount). You can also message your coach outside of these reviews.
19. How do I change my eating schedule and do they need to fit my workouts?
Eat To Perform is based on calorie average and your week is determined by your SUPER day or the day you eat more flexibly. If you prefer to eat more flexibly on Saturday then that will be your highest calorie day so you would probably want your highest volume to be Sunday or Monday. Meal timing from a scientific level is relatively unimportant but it is helpful to have food around your workouts for energy level and to help with blood sugar response. If you want to change your super day on one week just alternate it with another day, as an example, let’s say your medium day was a Wednesday but you have an event on Thursday so you want to eat more on Wednesday simply move your super day to Wednesday and have your medium day on Saturday. You can also change your super day in the app, let me give you an example of why you might do this. Let’s say you were a cyclist and every Saturday is your longest ride, you might want to consider Friday as your super day so you have available energy for your highest volume day.
20. I under-ate or overate on one given day, should I eat less or more on another day?
Sometimes life happens and you can’t follow the plan on one day, don’t sweat it, jump right into the plan the following day. If you over ate you can do the same but if your weight is up and you would prefer to switch it out with your super day you are welcome to do that also. No one day is all that bad. This is also where we differ from a lot of other programs. ETP is not based on guilt or shame, it’s based on you being in charge of your journey, let me give you an example of what I mean. Let’s say you under eat and they are testing 1RM’s at your gym the following day, more often than not you won’t do well, so it becomes apparent that fueled athlete’s perform better. Likewise if you over-ate think of that as fuel and kill your next workout. With ETP you are not at the will of calories or anything else, you are in charge and ACTION is your default.
21. What’s more important calories or macros?
Macros and it’s not close, let me explain why. The plan exists for a reason and all macros are being distributed in a way that will give you optimal results, coaches change those as needed. As an example if short fats and add carbs once you are probably fine but if it becomes a habit that isn’t the plan and a coach will either warn you or move you to Training Room. The plan is the plan for a reason, you are trying to push your body to use more carbohydrates for optimal performance and use fats at time of rest and of course enough protein to re-build lean mass that gets torn down during exercise and daily activities. If changing that balance becomes a habit you are not doing Eat To Perform.
22. What are the guidelines for Sodium, Sugar and Fiber?
Fiber is 15g for every 1000 calories consumed and for sugar 50-75, if from fruit closer to 75 is Okay. Sodium ranges should be roughly 2500-3000mg (with 2000mg if weight is trending higher) depending on how much you sweat and when that number gets high be more conscious of water. These are guidelines and just because you didn’t hit these on one given day it doesn’t mean you are doing it wrong. Also there are instances with sodium where more is better, so it can depend on the individual.
24. What do you want in the journal?
Your journal is like the “cliff notes” of your ETP journey. Just a short synopsis is typically enough, we limit it to 200 characters to keep the messages concise. It’s your way to communicate with us so having something in your journal or messaging your coach is an important piece so you can see success.
25. How many steps a day do you guys recommend?
Steps is one of those things that is both underrated and over rated at the same time. I know when I first got a FitBit I was shocked to find out that some days I was doing under 5,000 steps, so being more aware of that made a lot of sense. Here is the kicker though, some of those days I was working my butt off but not using steps. So if your goal is recomp or muscle gain steps can actually work against your goals. In the app the minimum is 8k and if you are in recomp or muscle gain that’s about the most you would want to do with a cap of maybe 12k. In Fat Loss when I see someone under 8k that just tells me that person isn’t serious about fat loss. The idea of fat loss is to get in and get out as quickly as possible so if you aren’t doing 10-12k you are wasting that cycle. What about more? Once I became conscious of steps I now find it difficult to NOT get 10k but is 15k better if you are in fat loss, maybe? What about 20k, probably not. Look, we all have enormous step days on occasion and it’s not going to kill your gains on any one given day. That said, if you are over 20k most days that’s a difficult atmosphere for your body to hold on to muscle or generate new tissue so if your calories are super high you end up burning them rather than using them to hold onto or build lean mass. All that said, if you are runner and your goal is to get better at running there might be times where earning food makes some sense temporarily but the running community now understands the value of muscle and so being smart about adding resistance training out of season makes a lot of sense.
26. How should I eat in Fat Loss?
First let me say that whatever phase you are in whole unprocessed foods should be the basis for that. In terms of carbohydrates the emphasis is starches. Ideally in Fat Loss you want to get the most bang for your calorie buck otherwise you are just going to be hungry all of the time. So you might want to bump fiber just a touch and keep sodium in check during fat loss. The focus is nutrient density and not energy density in a fat loss phase. Let me also make an argument for your biggest meal with starches right before bed so you can sleep well.
27. How should I exercise in Fat Loss?
Every individual is different but here are some general rules. A fat loss phase is trying to mobilize stored bodily fat for energy so steps should be higher (please read above). If you find you are sore all of the time and struggling to recover it might be smart to pull back your volume, for most people Fat Loss is going to last 6-10 weeks so prioritizing that over work capacity is fine for the short term. That said, if you are doing lower intensity exercise (eustress rather than distress) you should be able to burn a decent amount of calories and build a deficit to reach your goals. High intensity tends to be more anabolic in nature and is better during recomp where the focus will be for you to be better at exercise building lean mass along the way.
28. How should I eat in Recomp?
As your calories go up a few things happen, especially if you were under eating, it takes your body a bit to adjust so sometimes you have to change your habits to adjust. The emphasis of course is still on whole foods and starches but clearly you can expand things a bit as your energy requirements rise. But how flexible do you want to be? That depends on your goals and discipline level. Some people try to stick to rice and potatoes for starches and eat relatively lean meats along the way with some moments of breaking from that routine and enjoying life. Others tend to be more flexible incorporating things like rice krispie treats, ice cream or even alcohol. The first approach is better and when combined with a solid training program it will produce the best results. Does that mean you can’t have abs eating rice krispie treats, eating ice cream on occasion or having a couple of glasses of wine with your dinner. No, many people that are very lean eat that way. I feel like the best way to address this question is to start with a solid foundation and branch out from there and what I think you will find is that once you have that solid foundation when you go away from it you know you can always come back to that. My wife and I eat Pizza every Friday night and every Saturday morning is the day I look the best because my muscles are full from the combo of macros and it’s more than I eat normally. If I did it every night it wouldn’t be consistent with my goals.
29. I’m in Recomp and I don’t think I ever want Fat Loss, how does that work?
If you have been on a diet as long as you can remember this probably seems odd to you but it’s probably more than 50% of Eat To Perform members. There are really two factors here, food and training and while it would be nice to set macros and workout until you are jacked that’s not really how it works. Basically an ETP coach is going to monitor you while in Recomp, what they are looking for is whether or not you have missed a goal within the last week. I think it’s safe to assume that we all have our top end or “sweet spot” and that it’s not infinity so once you reach that point an ETP coach will determine whether or not an adjustment needs to made (typically 2-3 pounds above the goal) or if it’s under that the coach will often give some ideas how to reach the next goal. The other important factor is a bit out of our control and I spoke about it earlier (see section on steps) if you goal is to add lean mass but your training modality is running then we need to look at your training to help you reach your goals. This trial and error process often takes time and since most of these clients are already fairly lean if they are weight stable their weight goal might need to go up as they add lean mass.
30. I am breastfeeding, how do I let coaches know?
When you first sign up Breastfeeding is set as a goal. Choose that goal and we can customize based on that need.
31. EMMA just gave me food because of a wrong entry, what do I do?
Simply message your coach and your coach will fix it.