Interview: JC Deen on fat loss, calorie counting, and commitment to succeed

One of the coolest things about running this website is that I get to talk to people I admire.  Today’s article is the first in a new series in which I interview guest experts.  Unlike my past expert roundup articles, this series will allow me to go deep with some of my favorite fitness writers, one at a time.

One of the first people I started reading when I got into fitness was JC Deen, owner of JCD Fitness.  JC was overweight as a kid, but since he started dieting and strength training, he’s been skinny, jacked, and everywhere in between.  He helps people lose weight and look good naked on his blog, and through programs like Stay Leaner, Longer, 4D Fat Loss, and A No-BS Approach To Looking Great Naked.

What are the biggest nutritional mistakes you see people making when they’re trying to cut fat?

Not tracking their macros accurately and guesstimating too much. (see my how to count macros guide)

How much protein do you have trainees eat for fat loss?

I typically recommend .8-1 gram per pound of body weight (roughly 2-2.2 grams per kilo).  My recommendations for protein based on research here:

What’s the best way for someone to eat more protein while staying in a caloric deficit?

I have them make leaner choices, things like fat free, or low-fat dairy. Lean cuts of meat, etc.

Do you believe there’s any special hormonal or fat loss benefit to working out on an empty stomach?

There’s definitely an increase in stress hormones which will help with fat mobilisation, but I don’t think it’s ideal.

One problem a lot of trainees have is post-workout nutrition.  How do you strike a balance between giving your body what it needs to recover, and making sure you’re still at a big enough caloric deficit for steady fat loss?

I emphasise hitting macros by the end of the day in 3-4 solid meals. Post workout nutrition is really built into the diet based on how much they’re eating. it could be a protein shake and some carbs, or a full-on meal.

Do you have a favorite smoothie recipe you can share with our readers?

1/2 cup 2% cottage cheese
1 cup of OJ
1 TBSP honey
scoop of protein powder of your choosing

How much do you think nutrient timing matters?

I think it’s a nitpick when it comes to overall caloric intake throughout the day, especially when you’re eating at maintenance or an excess. As long as you’re getting enough protein, carbs, and fat, I believe timing is probably irrelevant, so as long as you’re not going longer than 8-10 hours without food.

What style of training do you favor for fat loss?  What kinds of training splits?  And how important is cardio vs weight training?  

I prefer short, intense sessions utilizing strength sets followed by supersets. Mostly upper/lower focus. Weight training always trumps cardio for the long-term aesthetic goals.

What are the main differences you see between the mentality of trainees who succeed, and those who fail?

One word: consistency. That’s it. The people who don’t reach their goals are the ones who give up too easily. Sure, adjustments need to be made. Sometimes we have to change gears or improve upon our approach, but that’s it. If you’re not willing to commit to being consistent, no plan or diet matters.

How soon can you tell if a client is truly committed or not?  What first tips you off?  

How consistent they are.  I can tell within the first week.

To what extent can people realistically expect to lose fat and gain muscle at the same time?

Very little, but it’s possible. I always have people pick their primary goal and we focus on that.

If somebody suffers from low energy in the mornings, what are the first potential fixes you’d advise them to try?

#1 – aim to get a full 7-9 hours of sleep. This usually means going to bed at a decent hour to prevent missing out on sleep. #2 have something nutritious in the morning. I like a smoothie made from protein, and fruit.

What are the main differences you’ve noted between male and female trainees, particularly regarding the mistakes they tend to make?

Men tend to be overconfident in what they can accomplish in a specific time frame. Women seem to be more realistic with goals and timelines. This doesn’t apply to everyone, but it has been true for my experience coaching both men and women.

How much should people rely on motivation, and where should motivation come from?

HAHA. No one should rely on feeling motivation to do anything. Motivation is the spark, and it’s really important, but we succeed by utilizing systems and strategies, not by relying on just feeling like working out or eating right. More info:
How fast can people realistically expect to gain or lose weight?

It all depends on their history, their starting point, and their level of commitment. Those who are obese can easily lose 2+ pounds per week. Those who are very lean probably shouldn’t lose more than .5 pounds per week. Everyone else in the middle can probably lose 1 pound per week.

JC Deen is the author of Stay Leaner, Longer, 4D Fat Loss, and A No-BS Approach To Looking Great Naked.

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