Wits & Weights | Smart Science to Build Muscle and Lose Fat

Bonus Episode: Your Low-Carb Diet Might Be Sabotaging Your Fat Loss Goals

May 11, 2024 Philip Pape, Nutrition Coach & Physique Engineer
Bonus Episode: Your Low-Carb Diet Might Be Sabotaging Your Fat Loss Goals
Wits & Weights | Smart Science to Build Muscle and Lose Fat
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Wits & Weights | Smart Science to Build Muscle and Lose Fat
Bonus Episode: Your Low-Carb Diet Might Be Sabotaging Your Fat Loss Goals
May 11, 2024
Philip Pape, Nutrition Coach & Physique Engineer

This conversation is from my appearance on The Healthification Podcast hosted by Kate Galli.

Kate invited me on her show to  discuss becoming the strongest, leanest, healthiest version of yourself without dieting. We dug into the common mistakes smart people make when they're not using their wits to build their best body. I shared insights on the importance of minimum effective dose to achieve health and fitness results, and the surprising factors that can increase or decrease your metabolism to make fat loss easier, without restrictive dieting.

We also discussed what to do instead of constantly dieting to achieve sustainable results. I provided strategies for busting through weight loss plateaus and how we can work with our human nature instead of fighting against it. We also touched on whether low-carb diets may be holding people back from getting lean.

Enjoy my conversation with Kate Galli! 

Episode resources:


Send me a question for Q&A!

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🎓 Join Wits & Weights Physique University

👩‍💻 Schedule a FREE nutrition/training audit with Philip

👥 Join our Facebook community for live Q&As & support

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📱 Try MacroFactor for free with code WITSANDWEIGHTS. The only food logging app that adjusts to your metabolism!

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Show Notes Transcript Chapter Markers

This conversation is from my appearance on The Healthification Podcast hosted by Kate Galli.

Kate invited me on her show to  discuss becoming the strongest, leanest, healthiest version of yourself without dieting. We dug into the common mistakes smart people make when they're not using their wits to build their best body. I shared insights on the importance of minimum effective dose to achieve health and fitness results, and the surprising factors that can increase or decrease your metabolism to make fat loss easier, without restrictive dieting.

We also discussed what to do instead of constantly dieting to achieve sustainable results. I provided strategies for busting through weight loss plateaus and how we can work with our human nature instead of fighting against it. We also touched on whether low-carb diets may be holding people back from getting lean.

Enjoy my conversation with Kate Galli! 

Episode resources:


Send me a question for Q&A!

Support the Show.


🎓 Join Wits & Weights Physique University

👩‍💻 Schedule a FREE nutrition/training audit with Philip

👥 Join our Facebook community for live Q&As & support

✉️ Join the FREE email list with insider strategies and bonus content!

📱 Try MacroFactor for free with code WITSANDWEIGHTS. The only food logging app that adjusts to your metabolism!

🩷 Enjoyed this episode? Share it on social and follow/tag @witsandweights

🤩 Love the podcast? Leave a 5-star review

📞 Send a Q&A voicemail

Philip Pape:

If we ask ourselves okay, can we eat what we want, as long as we choose it to align with our goals, like our hunger signals, Can we eat in a way that fills us up? Right, there are foods you could probably enjoy that fill you up and foods you enjoy that don't. So maybe lean toward the foods you enjoy that do. Are there enough indulgences in there to the tune of 20% of your diet at most that will prevent you from going crazy and binging those indulgences because you deprived yourself of them, right? And then, are you choosing foods in a way that is guilt-free? Are you choosing a plan that is guilt-free? Welcome to the Wits and Weights podcast. I'm your host, philip Pape, and this twice a week podcast is dedicated to helping you achieve physical self-mastery by getting stronger, optimizing your nutrition and upgrading your body composition. We'll uncover science-backed strategies for movement, metabolism, muscle and mindset, with a skeptical eye on the fitness industry, so you can look and feel your absolute best. Let's dive right in Wits and Weights community. Welcome to another bonus episode of the Wits and Weights podcast.

Philip Pape:

This conversation is from my appearance on the Healthification podcast hosted by Kate Galley. Now Kate invited me on her show to discuss becoming the strongest, leanest, healthiest version of yourself without dieting. We dug into the common mistakes smart people make when they're not using their wits to build their best body. I shared insights on the importance of minimum, effective dose to achieve health and fitness results and the surprising factors that can increase or decrease your metabolism. To make fat loss easier again without restrictive dieting. We also discussed what to do instead of constantly dieting to achieve sustainable results. I provided some strategies for busting through weight loss plateaus and how we can work with our human nature instead of fighting against it, which Kate is definitely a huge fan of that. We also touched on whether low-carb diets may be holding people back from getting lean. Enjoy my conversation with Kate Galley.

Kate Galli:

Philip Pape. Welcome to the Healthification Podcast.

Philip Pape:

Thanks so much for having me, Kate. Good to see you again.

Kate Galli:

Good to see you too, and I am excited to have this chat, Philip, because I'm kind of thinking of all of the people who are eating and exercising and not seeing results for their I'm choosing these words with volition for their punishing workouts and their restrictive eating, and I'm looking forward to a conversation where we help people achieve results for their efforts. Where I want to start is with your personal transformation to becoming the strongest, leanest, healthiest version of you. I get the impression, like me, you weren't always a gym junkie and used to be that guy who was always trying to get in shape. Can you take us back there?

Philip Pape:

Yeah, you're right, I was not a gym junkie, although I thought I was. I thought I was going to the gym and doing the right things and I just wasn't. And the reason I use those words strongest, leanest, healthiest you notice I don't mention the lightest or that I've lost the most weight or anything like that, because for most of my 20s and 30s that's what I chased was I was that guy kind of unhappy with my physique, getting the shapely dad bod as I got closer to the 30s and then the 40s, and trying all the things, trying all the diets, trying CrossFit, not doing it consistently. And even when I was, it was always fighting against, like you said, fighting against your nature, your values, your preferences, whatever you want to call it. It didn't feel right and so I didn't stick with it.

Philip Pape:

And even when I did, it wasn't getting me the results. So it was kind of defeating and also it reinforced some of the insecurities you have about yourself, like genetics Genetics are. You give them more import than they should have and you think, well, look the rest of my family, I'm just going to end up like that, I'm going to end up with diabetes or I'm going to end up out of shape for the rest of my life. So that's kind of the guy who I was back then. If we wanted to start there.

Kate Galli:

Amazing. And so what changed then? Was it just a huge build up of frustration and not getting results, or did you find a really good mentor? What was the tipping point for you?

Philip Pape:

Frustration is one half of the equation, and then massive curiosity and persistence is the other half. So I think it took me reading, watching, talking to mentors, having coaches, videos, all of this just constantly learning. I think education, curiosity and learning is kind of the backbone for any personal growth before you finally find the thing that works for you. And it was around 2019, 2020 that a few things came into place. The first was my strength and conditioning coach, who had the CrossFit gym that I attended for all those years. He had evolved away from the bootcamp style training more toward just strength training, regressive overload, building muscle, just getting in the gym, putting in the reps over time to progress, and so I started to apply that mode of training in around 2020. But I also found the nutrition side of things, and initially I had come from the low-carb world. You know, cut carbs at all costs. That's what you got to do.

Philip Pape:

And this time I said let me just be open-minded and I'm going to start eating and drinking a lot like intentionally gaining weight for the first time ever. So I drank whole milk. I mean, I ate and drank everything under the sun, which also isn't the best approach, but hear me out because it gave me the energy and calories I needed to build that muscle. And I was like, oh, okay, so this kind of works when you fuel yourself in some way, like you at least give yourself the energy, even if it isn't the most quality energy at the time. And so I started to build muscle, get really strong. Then I discovered, okay, how do I balance the two so that I could actually be kind of lean and fit and be happy with my physique, but also strong at the same time? And that's where the flexible dieting and nutrition came in.

Philip Pape:

I think I discovered that through the muscle and strength pyramids by Dr Eric Helms and Andy Morgan, and then led down that rabbit hole with like podcasts Dr Trexler, alan Aragon, bill Campbell there's all these names who their approach is. Instead of cutting foods out, why don't we set targets that align with us and our goals and eat whatever we want for those targets? And I'm like, wow, that actually makes a lot of sense. I could eat carbs or I could eat ice cream or whatever, but I'm not doing it excessively without restraint. I'm doing it within this context of who I am and what I want to achieve. So, yeah, that was 2020, 2021. And that's where I finally said, oh, I could see some muscle definition, I can control my body weight a little bit and I can feel great doing the whole thing. Let me start a podcast and share that with the world.

Kate Galli:

Amazing. So you and I both come from the low carb approach and it wasn't particularly fun, sustainable or even effective for either of us. I do want to speak to low carb later in this conversation, however perfect timing. You mentioned your podcast and brand, wits and Weights, which I was happy enough to guest on very recently on the podcast, I'd love if we could speak to some of the common mistakes that smart people make. This really fascinates me. It's not like people are stupid, it's not like we have a lack of information, but smart people make silly mistakes when trying to build their best body. What are some of those mistakes? As you've seen and perhaps even experienced yourself.

Philip Pape:

Yeah, by the way, I came up with the name Wits and Weights while my girls were playing soccer and my brain was just going a mile a minute like coming up with ideas. But the wits part was really important to me and you hit it on the head. This is just so the listener knows like Kate's an awesome prep. She prepares for these podcasts really well and comes up with these questions Using the word wits as a segue to okay, you're smart, but you don't necessarily have common sense or you're not necessarily applying that intelligence.

Philip Pape:

So one of the mistakes I think smart people do is overthinking and overcomplicating the basics and looking for really complex solutions, which are fed to us often through the sales process and through the fitness industry.

Philip Pape:

But I like the idea of what's called minimum effective dose or minimum effective volume. Oftentimes, doing less is more, finding just the minimum thing that's going to get you results that doesn't put so much stress on your body. You don't have to run two hours a day, you don't have to cut every food under the planet and constantly be dieting. The idea that it works with you and your body is aligned with the idea of the minimum dose, because stress comes from doing too much and stress is one of the biggest negatives with our metabolism and with how much we can eat. So that's one of them, I would say. And then tied to that is smart people neglect the importance of recovery and sleep in that equation. They think that I need to do all the training, I need to do all the food, I need to do all the food, I need to do the lifting, I need to do the walking and the running and the Peloton and the boot camps and everything else, and it's just too much.

Kate Galli:

Yeah, that's great, I mean, I completely agree. And the thing is, I had the privilege to train a lot of super successful people in business and some of them apply that instantly to their health goal and many of them don't. And that really fascinates me. And one of the things your body is not so forgiving. Maybe you get away with punishing your body so far as work for a lot, of, lot of years and you achieve results for that and you kind of think work harder, sleep less, just push my body like a machine. It's effective in business. Until it isn't. It's not effective with our bodies. Right, our bodies are just not built to be treated like a machine, and I guess also that, potentially, less is not always best with food and more is not always best with exercise. This lets people reclaim some of their time as well. Right, we don't need to spend two hours in the gym or however it is, perfecting our nutrition. It does not have to take that much time.

Philip Pape:

Yeah, so that's the opposite is what do smart people do? Where they do use their wits when it comes to all this and that's what I love is saving time and being efficient. It comes from laziness. I like to joke, but even though people are like no, no, you work your butt off like you're not lazy. But when I apply myself, I want it to be in the most efficient way possible. I don't want to waste time doing it.

Philip Pape:

Sometimes that takes a little bit of hard work up front, right, like you've got to take the time building muscle if you want to then eat more food the rest of your life with that extra muscle. Or you've got to take time, you know, figuring out what does work for you by, say, measuring what you eat or measuring your biofeedback or tracking your lifts or whatever, and learn about yourself. Take that time and put that sweat into it, but then coming out the back end the rest of your life is so much easier. So we rely too much on willpower sometimes and not enough on just trying to be smart and efficient about it.

Kate Galli:

Yeah, willpower is like it is not always going to last. It's going to let us down at some point, particularly if we're not treating our body well so far as sleep and that sort of thing. You talked muscle. That leads us perfectly into where I want to go next the surprising factors that increase and decrease your metabolism, that make fat loss easier without dieting. Freudian slip there, philip. Some people think they just have a super low metabolism and that is not within their ability to change. It's genetic. What would you say to those people?

Philip Pape:

I would say absolutely not. So here's an interesting fun fact Everybody's metabolism, if you have the same amount of muscle, is roughly the same across the entire human population, and this is why we have formulas that are somewhat accurate in the ballpark for your height, your gender, your weight and everything else. Having said that, you can massively hurt your metabolism by some of the things you do and, conversely, if you know what holds you back in your metabolism, you can undo those things to help you out. So most people and I'm sure a lot of your listeners as well, a lot of women especially, are chronically dieting and they're chronically in this low energy state and they're hurting themselves. And it's not a matter of fixing or recovering your metabolism. It's just not doing things that your body doesn't like. That puts it into a defense mode and a survival mode that tells your cells hey, hunker down and stop using all that energy, be very efficient. So what's the opposite of that? All right, we've got the long game and we've got the short game. The long game is muscle. We've alluded to it already.

Philip Pape:

When you build muscle, muscle is more what they call metabolically active than adipose tissue, than fat tissue. So it burns more calories. Now that's not a surprise to a lot of people. Muscle burns up to nine or 10 calories per pound. So let's say you're a female and you gain 15 pounds of muscle over several years, you might burn 150 calories a day just from having muscle, which is not nothing right 150 calories of extra food you can eat to maintain your weight. What's surprising, though, is that by building more, more muscle, you can walk around at a higher scale weight and still be leaner, and therefore you're burning even more calories from extra fat and muscle. That's a surprise, kate, right? People are like okay, so I have an extra 15 pounds of muscle. I can actually carry another 5 or 10 pounds of fat, be leaner With how I look, be stronger and tighter, andter and eat more food. Wonderful, wonderful place to be. Okay, so that's one.

Philip Pape:

The second thing is how valuable low-grade activity is in our lives. We talked about doing less, or less is more with activity. A lot of the clients that I have that come to me, especially women, are just doing a lot right. They're working out every single day, and if we sometimes strip that down to say lifting weights three days a week for an hour and then just walk the rest of the week. All of a sudden your body gets in this relaxed state. You're giving it that acute stressor during the gym which it loves because your body loves to use and develop the muscles, and then the rest of the week you're just recovering. You're not impacting your joints, you're not overstressing your body and that increases your NE was a 2000 calorie difference per day just from the difference in their activity, not counting exercise or anything else.

Philip Pape:

So from going from sedentary to a shop clerk who stands up and fidgets, it was like an 800 calorie increase. And going from them to a manual labor was another 1200 calories. It was massive. So just increasing your step count by moving more every day is going to be a huge factor that increases your metabolism. I could go on, kate. Those are just a couple that come to mind.

Kate Galli:

I know you could. They're fabulous and listeners. You can look at it out in the wild. If you look at that person who is quite overweight and what they're doing when they're doing nothing. Take everyone's exercise regime and even their incidental walking out of it. If someone's just sitting at the table and someone's very overweight, they're pretty still, they're just sitting there. That person who looks inverted commas naturally lean, who has that type of a body type, ectomorph, whatever it may be, as you said, you used the word fidgeting they're moving all the time. They're just their body's constantly going, whether they're really going or not, and that might sound a little bit like luck. However, the same as most things in relation to health and fitness, you can manufacture or practice that kind of more fidgety type activity if that's more the body type that you want to work towards. So, again, as you mentioned, absolutely within our control, I want to, I guess, dig in a little bit more with the constantly dieting aspect of the conversation and why constantly dieting is getting many of us nowhere.

Philip Pape:

Okay, yes, so constantly dieting. I mean, the main issue there is you're probably miserable, right? Like if you're constantly dieting, you're probably miserable and depriving yourself all the time. I had a conversation recently with it wasn't with you, it was with somebody else on the podcast. She talked about the difference between restriction and deprivation, and a lot of times I use the word restriction when I really mean deprivation, right when we deprive ourselves of the foods we love and we think of dieting as this on-off switch that has to be turned on occasionally because we're unhappy with our body, we're unhappy with our scale weight and we're like all right, I'm just going to turn this thing on, this artificial thing where I cut things out that I love, I do it. I go into misery mode. I tell all my friends no, I don't go to the party, I don't go out to eat, right, you know what I'm saying.

Kate Galli:

Yeah, pain.

Philip Pape:

Yeah, yes, pain, and that is quote unquote dieting in a lot of people's minds. But instead, if we ask ourselves okay, can we eat what we want, as long as we choose it to align with our goals, like our hunger signals, can we eat in a way that fills us up? Right, there are foods you could probably enjoy that fill you up and foods you enjoy that don't. So maybe lean toward the foods you enjoy that do. Are there enough indulgences in there, to the tune of 20% of your diet at most, that will prevent you from going crazy and binging those indulgences because you deprived yourself of them, right? And then, are you choosing foods in a way that is guilt-free? Are you choosing a plan that is guilt-free? So I know I'm speaking in generalities, but the way I like to do this is come up with a plan for what's important to me, if lifting weights is important, if building muscle is important, if energy is important and recovery is important and I'm measuring those things about myself. I can then eat things and see how I respond. Right, if I add some carbs in before my workout and all of a sudden I get more reps and I feel great after the workout and I didn't last week when I didn't have carbs. Ah, maybe carbs is for me and aligned with my goals, and now I can eat them.

Philip Pape:

When people talk about dieting to lose weight, I think this goes back to your earlier question about metabolism. If we can address all of those things and have a higher, healthier metabolism, then the quote-unquote dieting if we need to lose some body mass just becomes a lot easier. And we're not restricting foods, we're just kind of tracking calories a little bit and making sure that we're on the right path there. So that's what comes to mind. And one more thing, kate, is the idea of periodizing our nutrition. So we shouldn't be dieting all the time, but it's okay to have concentrated periods where you go after a goal, even if it's somewhat aggressive, whether that's fat loss, building, muscle or maintenance. And I generally like to sit at maintenance or muscle building about nine months out of the year or 10 months out of the year and diet no more than one or two months out of the year. And to me that's very a far cry from what most people think of when they're dieting all the time.

Kate Galli:

And, as I know you've said, I've heard you say you align that, like the dieting period, with. Well, you don't align that with holiday time, right. More so, you align your maintenance period or even your bulking gaining period with when you're wanting to go on holiday and enjoy all the foods and again, it's about fun and sustainable and living that lifestyle that you're just going to be able to continue for the rest of your life.

Philip Pape:

Yeah, for sure, and you can get creative. Here's the thing you probably get the best topics for your podcast from the questions people have. When they're panicking, right, they reach out. They're like, hey, what do I do with X, y, z, right. And so just somebody today said like I've been in a deficit, I've been losing some fat, but, help, I am going on this trip this weekend. I'm like, okay, then, just don't be dieting when you go on the ship. It's actually a very simple solution Take refeeds, take breaks, like nothing has to be a straight line, you don't always have to be doing this or that.

Philip Pape:

The problem people get into is when they set deadlines for themselves. It's that quick fix mentality of like, no, no, no, I have this wedding or I have this thing that I have to be quote, unquote X pounds for. That can be, I think, destructive. And so if you have something like that, I would say look, be realistic and make it work without crash course dieting, but then set yourself up for a longer term, more sustainable approach where you're kind of cycling through at a moderate level through these different phases and it always feels pretty good.

Kate Galli:

Let's speak to the individual who has been achieving some results and then perhaps they've hit a weight loss plateau. What are some of the actions that you would recommend, from both a nutrition and also an exercise point of view, to bust through that weight loss plateau Plateaus?

Philip Pape:

is like the buzzword right these days.

Philip Pape:

I use it all the time myself. So, first of all, do you even know you're in a plateau? Because I've done live trainings on this topic a lot and one of the first things I ask is do you even know you're in a plateau? Because I've done live trainings on this topic a lot and one of the first things I ask is do you even know you're in a plateau? Do you even know you're in a plateau? Because a lot of women, men, whatever they're like, well, help, I can't lose weight. First question is are you tracking and do you know exactly that you're in the deficit that you think you're in? Assuming you're tracking, if you're not tracking, then it's kind of hard to tell. Once you are, then I'm going to and we're making sure it's accurate. So if you're tracking your food, are you actually tracking all your food? Are you tracking your weekends, all of those little things, assuming that is in place.

Philip Pape:

The reasons for a weight loss plateau are usually pretty simple. The first big reason is our body adapts as we lose weight. We can't get around that. It's called metabolic adaptation. You know it, I know it. A lot of people think it can be solved or fixed or reversed. No, can't happen. Metabolic adaptation is a fact. You can't avoid it.

Philip Pape:

Okay, so let's just run with that. I can show you every time I've lost weight, like the last five times, my metabolism will decline. It is, it's just what happens. So that's the first thing. And so when you know that that happens, if you're tracking your food and your weight over time, you know that the deficit to remain what it is, you're going to have to eat less. Now again, we're not talking about cutting to extreme levels. We're saying you started at moderate and now you're slightly more than moderate. Or you started at slightly more and now you're slightly more aggressive, and that's why we keep the duration short, anywhere from, say, eight to 16 weeks on the top end. So, yeah, when you hit a plateau. That's one reason. Another reason, kate, that I find with newer lifters and like women who've just started training hard for the first time, is they're actually building muscle and losing fat at the same time.

Kate Galli:

Yeah, right, yeah. So the scale plateaus Looking better, but the scale might not be going down like it was.

Philip Pape:

Yeah, yeah, and I should have started with that, because it's almost always the reason initially. And so that's where you have body circumference measurements your clothes, how they fit, and then how you look. And if your waist size has gone down an inch or two but your scale weight hasn't, well, that's great. You just lost fat and built muscle and I love that. Well, that's great, you just lost fat and built muscle and I love that. So, tracking your circumference measurements Other than that I mean all the reasons we talked about before of the movement, the way you train, as well as sleep and stress, have a massive impact on your metabolism.

Philip Pape:

Right, we didn't cover that, but if you're losing weight, you're in a stress mode. If you compound that with lack of sleep and chronic stress, it's just going to cause your metabolism to adapt even further and your hormones kind of go crazy. So we need to keep all of these habits at a healthy level during fat loss. We need to stay moving, keep that step count up, keep the protein nice and high definitely keep the protein high and just keep training and let the volume and recovery dictate whether the training is right for you. Like some people think you have to go into fat burning mode exercise no, keep training the way you were, but see if the volume works with you or not. When you're in fat loss, like if you start to feel beat up and not recovered, you might need to dial it back.

Kate Galli:

And I think another important thing is diminishing returns. Right, if you start a program and you have a lot of weight to lose, the numbers that you're going to see in those first few weeks and months are going to be super motivating. The closer you get to your goal healthy weight you're going to be like super lucky to lose half a kilo, half a pound, even a week, and that is still an amazing number. A kilo, half a pound, even a week, and that is still an amazing number. You're going to compare that to the two kilos in the first. You know when you first started and get a little bit disappointed, and you just shouldn't be disappointed in that.

Philip Pape:

Yeah, there's a couple of things come to mind when you say that. First is you're going to lose a lot of water weight, initially, too right. So inevitably you're going to. Your carbs are going to come down because the protein stays high and the calories come down, so you're going to lose a lot of glycogen. Every gram of carbs holds like three to four grams of fluid, so it's quite a bit. Then it plateaus, sometimes plateaus for that reason. Then it continues and then, like you said, it gets harder and harder because you would have to eat less and less to stay there. So either you're eating the same amount and the rate of loss starts to slow down, or you're tracking enough where you know you need to reduce the calories a bit to kind of keep up with it to a point.

Philip Pape:

But if I have a female client who's already down in the I don't know 13 or 1400 calorie range, like that's getting close to the bottom, I want her to be, because like 1200 is gets pretty low, and in that case I say, look, we just have to set realistic expectations here. It might take longer than we thought, given the rate of loss right now, and maybe we take a diet break for a while and just feel great and get recovered and then go back and finish it off or accept that it'll take a little bit longer. Which is why, kate, I like to pad the numbers at the beginning. I like to say that if we think it's going to take eight weeks, let's plan for 12. And then, if it takes 10, we just it'll feel like a win, you know.

Kate Galli:

Yeah, a hundred percent under promise over deliver. How about in the gym? I know you mentioned we need to work according with how our body feels. However, for the individual who's just cruising around doing their 12 to 15 easy reps that you know, they could probably do another 20 more in their, in their circuit style training. Whatever it may be, what?

Philip Pape:

are some of the ways you would suggest for an individual to progress their training. Yeah, that comment was more about recovery during fat loss, which I guess I kind of jumped the gun because we hadn't talked about training yet. I like principles over methods when it comes to training. So if you're listening to this, you know there's a million programs out there. There's YouTube influencer programs, there's, you know, solid like training programs you could buy. You might have a personal trainer, whatever.

Philip Pape:

What matters is the principle of training hard and training hard. What does that mean? It means training close to failure, probably around one to three reps shy of failure. So let's say you're doing a back squat and your programming is for eight to 12 reps and you get to 10, and you get to 11 and you get to 12 and you're like, okay, can I keep going? If you think you can keep going, keep going. And at some point it's going to start to feel pretty heavy. Most people don't know where that one to three reps to shy of failure is.

Philip Pape:

So when you're a beginner, I suggest not using rep ranges, using just fixed number of reps and progressing in weight. That's all I suggest. I like it because it tricks your mind into, not tricks your mind, but you can't get away from the idea that you're going to hit that limit at some point. With rep ranges you can kind of cheat, right, when you're a beginner you can kind of cheat. So if you did like three sets of five and then on Wednesday you come in and you do three sets of five with five more pounds, and Friday you come in three sets of five with five more pounds, eventually it's going to start hitting that limit where you're like, oh, this is hard, and then you'll feel where that is. And once you gain a little bit of experience, then you can start using rep ranges and know if you're, like one to three reps, shy of failure.

Philip Pape:

So the getting close to failure is the training hard part. The progressing part is just what I said going up in something, going up in reps or weight over time. So when you do even if it's a leg extension machine and you did nine reps at 50 pounds last time now if you kept it at 50 pounds, try to get 10 or try to get 11. That demonstrates that you are getting stronger and growing muscle. This won't necessarily happen during fat loss, though. That's why we want to be eating food as well. So it's kind of like taking time to build muscle while eating food and then cutting it off to reveal some fat. That's where the periodization comes in.

Kate Galli:

And the training should be so hard that you are focusing on nothing but the workout that you are doing right, or at least the set and the reps that you are doing right now. I think focus is one of the most important, I guess, aspects of training. You just need to be. There's no fluffing around in the gym during an intense, hard workout.

Philip Pape:

Yeah, I think when you were on my show we talked about self-care. I don't know if I brought up the working out as mindfulness on that show.

Kate Galli:

No, okay, I agree yeah.

Philip Pape:

Yeah, yeah, yeah. I like habit stacking right. So like walking, meditation, for example, I'm walking and I'm meditating. But when you lift weights, if you can cut out the music and cut out the noise, if you have to put in earplugs or whatever, and totally focus on the lift and your breathing, that's a form of mindfulness, but it will also help you with your form and help you avoid injury and develop that skill. We have to be passionate and really love this process. If you tell me you don't like working out, I think we want to find a way that does work for you. That's when we talk about aligning with your goals and values, and part of that is like getting better at this thing. So if you are talking about a squat again, I don't know why I keep bringing that up, but I love squats Talk about a back squat. You get under the bar or dumbbells or whatever you're using. Don't close your eyes. You know you definitely want to be looking.

Philip Pape:

But you know you brace and when you, when you brace and take that breath, that kind of creates this like pressure wall in your around your head where your whole you can almost like hear your own thoughts in your own, like ocean inside your head, right, and you brace and you, just you do the form, you know, slowly, and by slowly I mean like one second down and one second up. It's not that slow on video, but it kind of is a mental thing and give yourself one cue, like one cue that you got from your trainer or from a YouTube video or your own observations of yourself, so you can keep improving. It might be you know, sit back right. It might be you know tight back, whatever, it is just one cue and that'll help you focus and create the mindfulness you talked about that avoids distractions.

Kate Galli:

Amazing. We've bounced around it a little bit, I think. However, I'd love to touch a little bit more on the real reason you can't stick with anything, as it relates to, I guess, stopping fighting our natural human nature and starting to work with our human nature. So what are some of the reasons that we can't stick with anything and we're really just making it harder for ourselves than what we need to?

Philip Pape:

I was thinking about this beforehand, because a couple of things come to mind and it really all comes down to psychology, right? I think a lot of this is a mind game of unrealistic expectations and also putting on ourselves others' expectations.

Philip Pape:

So that could be a diet or a form of exercise, or somebody says you have to do it this way, you have to do it this way. Look at this as an opportunity for experimentation. Right To stick with something. You have to get a result that motivates you to do it again. That's my belief Motivation you can get external motivation all you want from a community or a coach but if you want to have that within yourself, you just have to try right, take some little action, see if it gives you that result, celebrate that result and then do it again. And if it doesn't work the way you want it, something has to change. So I think self-discipline if we like that word some people don't like the word discipline, it's a little different than willpower. Self-discipline comes from doing something a little bit outside our comfort zone or expanding our comfort zone a little bit. It actually works. We see that it works, we works. We see that it works. We get a smile on our face and we want to do it again. So that's what I think of as sustainable habits these small, incremental changes, celebrating the wins. That's how we stick with something and not fighting your, like you said, fighting your nature.

Philip Pape:

As soon as someone says I don't like to do X, that sounds like it's fighting their nature. We need to understand why. Why don't you? Is it you're going to the gym and you're intimidated by the culture there? Maybe we want a home gym? Is it because you're scared of the barbell? Maybe we need to work on form and having a coach, like little things like that, is it? You know? Someone said you should eat carbs because it helps muscle, but now you're afraid you're going to get fat. All right, that's a valid concern, let, all right, that's a valid concern. Let's explore that right, until you get to the point of I'm doing this for me. For this reason, it gets me this result and I'm able to measure that result and iterate on it over time.

Kate Galli:

I think everything that you and I recommend and speak about it is about making it easier on ourselves. Right, it's not about discipline's great, but it's not about living with extreme discipline and being the most dedicated person in the gym. It's about learning ourselves and our natural habits and tendencies, and this is one thing that gets so much easier with age. You know, maybe some of the things do get a little bit tougher as you get older, but don't let that limiting belief infiltrate your mind, because what gets so much easier is we know us. We know what we fall for, we know what we're good at, we know what works so far as nutrition and exercise for us. And those are the tactics that we can deploy, bit by bit, one at a time, just to make it easier on ourselves to achieve those results.

Philip Pape:

Yeah, I totally agree. I love this game because it's N equals one, right? Like you are the best source of evidence. When we talk about evidence-based fitness, you're the best source of evidence and if I don't know, I like, I think physical pursuits can be just a joy if again, if it's aligned with what you're doing and if anything you're doing feels like a chore not hard, hard's different Like I think hard can be a good thing. But I think if it feels dissonant in some way and that could be dissonant with your body and your physiology, could be dissonant with your mental state, could be dissonant with your family life and schedule, it could be dissonant with your values and ethics, right, which you talk about all the time. Anything that's just I feel like I'm forced to do it, question it. There's always another way.

Kate Galli:

Let's go there with the low carb. So you wrote an article. Is your low carb diet holding you back from getting lean? Can you share your thoughts here?

Philip Pape:

Sure, okay. So when it comes to carbs, anytime I talk about carbs, I get a lot of hate, which I love. You won't get hate on this from my listeners, no, no, I know. No, that's great.

Philip Pape:

So I think of nutrition as needs and preferences. Let's go there, okay. Needs meaning you want to eat in a way that supports the needs you have. Those needs might be building muscle, it might be energy, it might be hormones. We have minimums that we have to hit just to survive, and then we have minimums above that, like protein that we need for muscle. So there's needs that we have. We also have preferences.

Philip Pape:

What do we like? What do we like to eat? When do we like to eat it? All those things, what do we texture, taste recipes? I mean, I'm a huge foodie, so I'm super picky about what I like to eat. And if you combine the two and you say, okay, where do carbs fit into that? Ask yourself what your needs are first. Well, I want to build muscle.

Philip Pape:

Okay, I'm telling you that the evidence shows that having more carbs while building muscle is going to build up to five times as much lean tissue for the weight that you gain versus having low carbs. We've seen this time and again in studies of bodybuilders, and that's because carbs provide energy, they help you perform in the gym, they refill your glycogen, they're protein sparing, so they're anti-catabolic. They prevent the breakdown of muscle tissue. There's so many reasons, and that's the need side of it. However, some people can get away with lower carbs and still build muscle. So then this preferences side comes in. Do you like pasta and beans and rice and fruit and whatever else you're depriving yourself of right now? Then guess what? You can go eat those things.

Philip Pape:

Like you can eat those things, and if you combine the two, it's a great world. So the answer is yes, most likely. Low carbs for most people are going to prevent you building as much muscle as you can, but doesn't make it impossible, especially if it's aligned with your preferences.

Kate Galli:

I love that answer, Obviously not biased at all. We've covered a lot today. Is there anything that we haven't yet touched on that you would like to touch on?

Philip Pape:

Oh, I don't know, kate. There's so much I love to talk, so that's why I have a podcast. There's nothing I can think of specifically. You asked such great questions today and we covered a lot.

Kate Galli:

You have a podcast and it is such an actionable and positive and supportive podcast. I love your energy. We come from slightly different spectrums so far as our perfect eating approach. However, the vast majority of things we agree on, and that is something I love and respect. Can you share with the listeners a little bit more about your podcast and your business and where to find you online, if they're loving your energy too?

Philip Pape:

Sure, absolutely. I think that's why we were attracted to each other here for our shows. My podcast is called Wits and Weights and really it's all training, nutrition, mindset, it's all the things. And you're going to find I get a little bit punchy these days with some of my episodes because I'm very passionate about things that people either get wrong or just there's nonsense in the fitness industry. So it's for skeptics of the fitness industry who are tired of all that misinformation and just want a little bit more objective kind of open-minded approach.

Philip Pape:

And I bring on guests who more or less align with that, like you do, who I might. Again, we might not be 100% in agreement, but I'm not going to have someone on who's just like a whack job or a quack, so people who know what they're talking about and appeal to very specific aspects of living a great life. So that's my podcast. What's in Weights? And then just my. I'm a coach, I'm a nutrition coach, so actually, as we're recording this, I launched a new group coaching program called Wits and Weights, physique University, and it's all about education and community support to get the physique that you want. So yeah, so Wits and Weights podcast, and I would say go to witsandweightscom for everything else.

Kate Galli:

Perfect, absolutely, and at Wits and Weights across the socials. I knew this would be a high energy, a fun and an actionable conversation for our listeners and I've super enjoyed it. Thank you so much, philip. This was an absolute pleasure, I agree, thanks so much.

Philip Pape:

It was a lot of fun. Thanks, kate. Thanks so much, it was a lot of fun. Thanks, kate. Thank you for tuning in to another episode of Wits and Weights. If you found value in today's episode and know someone else who's looking to level up their wits or weights, please take a moment to share this episode with them and make sure to hit the follow button in your podcast platform right now to catch the next episode. Until then, stay strong.

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