Matt McLeod | October Q & A
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October Q & A

Questions Asked

1. Do you prefer starting your clients on loose meal plans or do you go with more of a habits-based approach?

2. Are aspartame and caffeine as a combo bad for your health?

3. Can you post a sample dynamic warm up or off day mobility routine?

4. What was your favorite college class you took?

5. What do you think about protein powder with Sucralose?

6. Recommended workout regimen for someone working 80 hours per week wanting to maintain strength?

7. Chicago style or New York style pizza?

8. When is the podcast droppin?

9. What are your thoughts on Intermittent Fasting?

10. How do you decide when to cut/bulk?

11. Should you fast on a regular basis for reasons other than weight loss?

12. Tips for avoiding counting cals, but still trying to watch macros and portioning correctly?

13. What are your thoughts on Crossfit?

14. Tell us a typical day of eating while trying to lean bulk

15. How long should a workout be?

16. How can we smokers detoxify or clarify our lungs?


1. Do you prefer starting your clients on loose meal plans or do you go with more of a habits-based approach?

For a typical client:

Week 1, I give some basic guidelines to follow so they start building the proper habits for their specific goal. Week 2, I will introduce them to tracking their food and weight a few times per week. Week 3, I give them concrete goals to hit and build each week thereafter.

I do provide clients with basic meal templates for cutting and bulking, but I don’t provide specific meal plans.

Think of meal plans as a subscription clothing box: You get clothes in the mail every month, but you learn very little about style and how to pick outfits on your own. You can follow meal plans for a limited time, but they won’t work forever and you’ll be back to square one when progress slows. They are a band-aid on a broken leg.


2. Are aspartame and caffeine as a combo bad for your health?

I’ve seen no data to suggest this.

Caffeine, of course, should not be consumed by peeps under 18, pregnant women, or those with heart conditions. In moderation, both should be fine.

To read up more on aspartame, click here and here.


3. Can you post a sample dynamic warm up or off day mobility routine?

I sure can.

This is what I typically use for myself and my clients. 

For better info on this subject, check here and here for guys smarter than me.


4. What was your favorite college class you took?

It was a health and wellness class, but the class wasn’t the special part — it was the professor.

He was from Spain and had a heavy accent. Always came to class with a smile and was genuinely interested in your success.

His passion for teaching and his humility to ‘embarrass’ himself in front of the class (he would sometimes sing to the class and was notorious for singing in the halls) was highly admirable. Plus, he made us interact with everyone in the class and I’ve still kept in touch with some of them.

Shoutout to Joaquin.


5. What do you think about protein powder with Sucralose?

Sucralose seems to be safe to consume in moderation. So drink up, especially if you aren’t hitting your protein goal each day due to a measly amount of sweetener.


6. Recommended workout regimen for someone working 80 hours per week wanting to maintain strength?

– 2 to 3 full-body workouts per week.

– Pick compound lifts you enjoy doing (bench, squat, deadlift, overhead press, rows, pull — variations of those) and stick with those each week.

– Track your weight, sets, and reps and try to beat your last week.

– Perform low-intensity mobility drills/stretches during your rest periods to counteract your lack of movement from work.

– Add in accessory lifts to aid your main lift for the day

– This may help.


7. Chicago style or New York style pizza?

Well, I’ve only ever had New York, so I guess New York? I don’t discriminate against my Za.


8. When is the podcast droppin?

Recording my first episode this week (by myself).

I had some unexpected side projects come up and I need to study for my Registered Dietitian exam, so it’s had to go on the back burner.

But I’ve been learning about them and I’m super excited to give you guys some unique, quality audio content.

I also plan on recording me reading my blog articles in case y’all wanna listen instead of read, so be on the lookout in the upcoming weeks.

2020 Update: you can listen on all podcast platforms here 🙂


9. What are your thoughts on Intermittent Fasting?

Fasting is an emerging area of research that I haven’t fully looked into. But from the data I have looked at, it seems to offer no benefits over a typical calorie deficit for fat loss.

For those who want a brief summary of IF, read here. If you want an in-depth (and slightly biased) look at IF, read here.

My summary is this:

  • IF is a nutrient timing strategy to restrict your eating window. If you have 8 hours to eat, opposed to 12+, you’re likely to eat less food overall (i.e., a calorie deficit). Which is great if your goal is fat loss.

  • The calorie deficit is what causes the weight loss, not the times that you eat. Your body runs off net energy balance, meaning: you can eat 2,300 kcals in only one meal per day and still gain fat if your maintenance calories are at 2,000 kcals/day. Below is a normal meal pattern and shows you how the eating and fasting balance each other out.
  • IF can be helpful for those with busy schedules or those who don’t like breakfast. If your diet strategy can increase your adherence to the diet, it is a good idea. If you fast all morning only to ravenously crush 2 cheeseburgers at lunch — it probably won’t work out.

  • Some feel better mental clarity and appetite suppression from fasting, but more research is needed.

  • Since you’re eating less meals with IF, you have to make sure you incorporate a variety of nutrients amongst those meals. Just because you’re eating less calories in those 2 meals, doesn’t mean it’s healthy to skimp on daily servings fruits and vegetables.

  • For gaining muscle, I don’t see IF being the best option due to the shorter eating period and reduced meals. To gain muscle, you typically need to be in a calorie surplus and eating 1-2 meals a day may be difficult for some to get in their necessary calories and protein for growth. There’s also data that shows 4-5 boluses of protein per day (eating roughly 20-40g of quality protein every 3-4 hours) is optimal for stimulating muscle protein synthesis (i.e., more muscle growth).

10. How do you decide when to cut/bulk?

Since this is largely individual, I’ll give my best general recommendations. But to clarify, these recommendations are based on if you’ve truly been cutting or bulking consistently.

For those of you who bulk and cut every 2 weeks because you can’t commit or those of you who have no plan — this advice may not work for you.

When to cut:

– You are overweight.

– You’re normally lean, but have lost sight of your abs.

– You have been bulking for ~6+ months.

– You’re a beginner in the gym and/or you’re skinny fat and want to gain muscle/lose fat at the same time. You need a slight calorie deficit, increased protein (~1g/lb of bodyweight), and a smart training program.

When to bulk:

– You’ve been cutting for extended periods of time and reached a plateau. This should be more of a diet break or reverse diet, not bulking necessarily.

– You’ve been dieting for a long time and your calories have dropped too low and/or you’re doing too much cardio to sustain your current diet plan.

– You’re skinny and/or a hardgainer.

– You want to maximize your muscle mass gained.

My best advice: Pick ONE—cutting or bulking—and commit to it 100%. You will get far better results than half-assing both at the same time.


11. Should you fast on a regular basis for reasons other than weight loss?

First, see answer #9 above.

But I only see two reasons:

1.) It “may” have some positive impacts on your digestion and “cleaning” things out, but I think this is just as possible by being in a calorie deficit (traditional dieting; not fasting) for extended periods of time.

2.) It can help you be less of a pussy. Some people assume because they haven’t eaten in over 6 hours that they’re going to die. Just because you are hungry does not mean your body will switch into “starvation mode” or that you’re wrecking your metabolism. Your hunger will eventually subside (some) if you can ride out the initial hunger pangs. You don’t just exponentially get hungrier. So, yeah, it can help people get comfortable with being uncomfortable.

The Powerful Joe Rogan with words of advice.

12. Tips for avoiding counting cals, but still trying to watch macros and portioning correctly?

Personally, I’d say to track everything for 6 months to increase your food awareness. Then you don’t have to track ever again because you know the calories, macros, and portions of most foods just by eyeballing.

I’ve also had clients use a consistency point system.

I gave them some guidelines to hit each day and if they hit at least 80% of those, they earned a point. At the end of the week, they tally up how many points they had and they aimed to sustain at least 5/7 points per week.

Another way is to try this and this.


13. What are your thoughts on Crossfit?

I actually love watching Crossfit and it’s done some amazing things for the fitness industry — so, I’m a fan. When you get time, watch the Crossfit documentaries on Netflix. Great stuff, but not before bed.

I don’t think it’s the best option for building muscle and losing fat, but it’s a completely viable option if it’s consistently keeping someone in the gym. However, I do think the high injury risk is something that needs to be considered.

As with all forms of exercise, pros and cons must be weighed by the individual.


14. Tell us a typical day of eating while trying to lean bulk

Questions like these are hard because there are SO MANY fucking variations of what a “lean bulk diet” means.

For a 125 lb girl looking to put on muscle, she probably won’t need to eat as much as a 185 lb male with the same goal.

That being said, use the meals below as a rough guideline for an average intermediate looking to put on size. Adjust portions as needed.

– Meal 1: Protein shake w/ 8 oz. 2% milk; banana; 1 serving almonds; (add spinach if smoothie) 

– Meal 2: 3 whole eggs + 100g egg whites + veggies; 2 servings Honey Nut Cheerios; 10 oz skim milk; 60g of blueberries and/or kiwi

– Meal 3: 350g (baked) sweet potato; 150g grilled chicken breast; 100g cooked white rice; 60g ripe avocado + diet coke

– Meal 4: Oven Roasted Turkey (4 oz) Sandwich w/ Cheese/Spinach/Tomato on whole wheat bread; Baked Chips; Mixed fruit


15. How long should a workout be?

It’s the wrong question to ask. There are no correct answers.

What is your goal? How much time can you spend in the gym? Are you doing more than necessary? The list can go on and on.

If you can only make it to the gym 3 times a week for 30 minutes each, then 30 minutes is the longest it can be to keep progressing.

If you’re an elite powerlifter, you may need 2.5+ hours.

The time should be dictated on what you can adhere to to achieve your goals desired.

This is one of the perks of having a coach who can make you a bomb-ass workout plan whether you have 30 minutes or 3 hours. 😉 


16. How can we smokers detoxify or clarify our lungs?

Stop smoking. Lol. That’s it.


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