It’s easy to get bogged down by details.
Scrolling through your social media feed, you may see a ton of people with lean, muscular physiques who all share what they did to get there. Even if your goal is not to get on stage in a posing suit, it’s easy to look at what others do and think, “this must be what I have to do if I want to look fit.”
Just because something is effective doesn’t mean that you absolutely must do it or you’re doomed to fail. What if you can’t realistically stick to something? That is not a failing on your part. That’s the method failing you.
I don’t care how “optimal” something is. If it isn’t something you can keep doing for the long-term, it’s probably not helpful. For example, you could:
1. Log every bite of food
2. Hit a calorie goal daily
3. Hit a protein goal daily
4. Eat at the optimal frequency to stimulate muscle protein synthesis
5. Time carbs around your workout for performance
6. Cycle calories with training
7. Eat slow-digesting protein before bed
8. Eat only whole foods
9. Avoid eating out
10. Prep every meal
11. Strength train progressively 4-5 times per week
12. Log all your sets and reps each workout
13. Do 3-4 cardio sessions, using both HIIT and SS
14. Get at least 10,000 steps daily
15. Get 8 hours of quality sleep daily
16. Take (safe, effective and research-backed) supplements
The list could go on, but you get the point. Will these things help you build muscle and get leaner? Yes! Will doing them all concurrently help you build an admirable physique? Yes! Do you have to do every one of them to get into shape? No!
I’m not saying these don’t matter at all. I’m just saying be realistic about what you can stick to. If you love doing all of these, awesome! I encourage you to do what you love, and what works for you. I’m a big fan of most of these myself.
On the other hand, what if looking at this list makes you want to run away screaming? That’s okay too. Don’t think you absolutely must come out of the gate going 60 mph from the start. Optimal has its place, but consistency matters way more.
So, focus on the important stuff, which means: create a calorie deficit, consume enough protein, strength train regularly, and so forth. Use strategies that fit you to get there. Are you falling off the wagon with tracking? No problem. Try another tool to get into a deficit (habits, portion sizes, etc.)
Make your diet fit you, and do it in a way you can stick to.