Stronger Sundays

Dominate your fitness business with this weekly collection of strategies, tips, and tricks.
By trainers, for trainers.


Quote of the week:

"Be wary of the 23-year-old ‘7-figure online fitness business coach’ wearing a three-piece suit and stepping out of a Lamborghini he rented with his last paycheck from working security at a bar."
                                                                                          - John Rusin on Facebook
Watch for this newsletter from the Personal Trainer Development Center each Sunday.

In this issue:

  1. The fine print of fasted training
  2. The Game Changers Netflix documentary (We need more nuance in nutrition debates)
  3. Information throwdown: audiobooks vs. print
  4. It’s okay to make it up as you go
1. The fine print of fasted training

Whether or not you’re a fan of fasting, you’re probably clear on the definition:

Fasting = not eating food

But that doesn’t keep fasting enthusiasts from searching for loopholes. John Berardi, whose new book came out this week, tackled a few of their questions on Instagram:

"I've seen people talking about this a lot (‘Can I drink X?’ ‘Can I eat X?’ ‘Does X break the fast?’), and I feel like the questioning creates a weird obsession with the wrong variables. Namely, ‘What represents perfect fasting?’ and ‘What destroys the magic of fasting?’"

The short answer is obvious, Berardi says: Of course taking in calories breaks the fast. The open question is whether a small number of calories from BCAA or another supplement undercuts whatever benefits you hope to get from fasting.

Berardi says those studies haven’t been done. But he doesn’t think it matters much. If the goal is fat loss, pay attention to the overall calorie deficit, not when and how you achieve it.

Go deeper: Christian Finn recently did a deep dive on fasted weight training, answering five of the most frequently asked questions he found on Google. I recommend reading the whole thing if you’re interested. For the rest of us, here’s one of his very reasonable conclusions:  

"I don’t think you’re going to see a huge benefit in terms of fat loss from fasted weight training—or fasted cardio, for that matter."

Go shallower: Spencer Nadolsky, a physician specializing in weight loss, sees one type of comment so many times that he’s reduced it to a joke:

"‘I’m in a caloric deficit, but not losing weight,’ said someone not in a caloric deficit."
2. (Game Changers) We need more nuance in nutrition debates

The Game Changers, a new Netflix documentary, has gotten a lot of attention from fitness pros. The emphasis on elite athletes who consume plant-based diets is refreshing for some. For others, it’s a one-sided presentation that cries out for a rebuttal.

Menno Henselmans is among the latter. He asks and answers four pressing questions raised by the documentary:

  • Is meat going to kill me?
  • Is a vegan diet the healthiest diet?
  • What happens if you increase your protein intake with meat?
  • Is plant protein superior to animal protein?

The takeaway: Henselmans concludes that your vegan clients can indeed achieve the same results as meat-eating omnivores. It’s just harder to do. It’s worth the effort for those who reject animal products for ethical reasons. But if you or a client is considering a plant-based diet for health reasons, the evidence is a lot more nuanced than the documentary would have you believe.

Go deeper: Akash Vaghela tackles the same questions here. He begins with a declaration of neutrality, and hopes people who haven’t yet made up their minds will look at the bigger picture.

What makes a plant-based diet healthier for many people, Vaghela argues, is the fact you’ve chosen a healthier lifestyle. It may start with your diet, but it typically includes more exercise and better choices in other areas. You could make all those choices, and achieve the same benefits, with an omnivorous diet.  
3. Information throwdown: audiobooks vs. print

This Facebook post by Dean Somerset caught our attention:

"Listening to an audiobook does not equal reading an actual book, especially for nonfiction books. Retained information is significantly higher with written text compared to audio."

That led us to this 2018 Time magazine article by health journalist Markham Heid, which explains why retention is so much higher for print:

When you read a book, about 10 to 15 percent of your eye movements are regressive—that is, you’re going backwards to double-check a previous part of the text. It happens so fast you don’t notice you’re doing it. That’s especially true when your mind wanders, and you realize you’ve missed something.

With an audiobook, if you think you’ve missed something, you have to stop and deliberately backtrack. It feels disruptive, like interrupting a professor in a lecture or an actor in a play.

The takeaway: None of this is to say there’s anything wrong with either choice, or even that you have to choose one or the other. If you’re commuting or preparing a meal, audiobooks give you a chance to use the time more productively.

And over time, you can train yourself to be a better listener, just as you worked to become a proficient reader.

But for the most challenging and technical information, you probably want to spend some quality time with a printed book.
4. It’s okay to make it up as you go - Jonathan Goodman

I heard this advice years ago from small-business guru Michael Gerber, author of the E-Myth books, and it led me to where I am today. After 30 years as one of the top business coaches in the country, he said he was still making it up as he goes.

Gerber helped me realize that even "experts" don’t always know what to do. Instead of looking for solutions from others, I started to define the principles I would use to guide my decisions. Those principles would eventually allow me to construct a set of constraints, within which I’m free to innovate.

The process is never-ending, of course. But the more decisions I make, and the more I learn from the results of those decisions, the more I trust my intuition. It tells me when to push to the outer limits of my constraints, and when to play it down the middle. And sometimes it tells me to redefine the constraints so I can make a bolder move.

Making it up as I go, but doing so within my own framework, based on my own principles, has made me a successful businessman. Success, in turn, has made me confident.

I can’t guarantee it will work for you. But experts can’t guarantee their advice will work any better. You can either operate within constraints you’ve constructed, or within someone else’s.

It’s your choice.

**Thanks for reading. What to do next**

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