At the Beachbody Leadership conference this past weekend I got a lot of questions about the Shakeology cleanse as well as a lot of “how can I figure out how many calories I need?” Here is the answer to both: a version of the Shakeology Cleanse that you can do as often as you want and in almost any situation without risk of any performance loss.
Straight Dope followers have heard it’s my new preferred weight loss (or gain) plan. It’s not really new but just perfected (thanks to Shakeology) and is the easiest way to figure out how many calories you should be eating for performance. It’s a simple diet to follow and can be done in any situation, whether you’re sedentary or training like a White Buddhist Nun (sorry, inside joke—“your nuns into leather, Dante?”).
It’s essentially a combination of three things I’ve done in the past: the egg diet, the zig zag diet, and the Shakeology Cleanse, mainly focusing on the latter two. Here’s how it works.
It follows the principles of zig zagging: low calories two or three (sometimes four) days per week and normal calories on the others. Reverse this is you want to gain weight or suspect you’re not eating enough. The days can be consecutive or back and forth but I find that stringing them together works best.
For me, when trying to lose weight, dieting early in the week and eating what I want later and on the weekends works best, which is especially true because my weekends tend to be very active to the point where overeating is virtually impossible. This means that I get three days of zig (low cals), two days of zag (high cal), followed by two days of what works out to be zagging with a ton of exercise so that it’s still undereating.
When you zig zag your body tells you what it needs, what’s working and what isn’t, and fairly quickly you’ll know both the number of calories you should be eating for optimum performance and even how the macronutrients of those calories should be structured. By adding the Shakeology cleanse component you’ll pinpoint these things even quicker.
Zig days consist of eggs for breakfast, usually three for me with some added veggies. This is my only homage to the egg diet, which was an old school high protein diet where you eat an absurd amount of eggs. I find eggs in the AM is a good way to boost your metabolism, especially if they are not eaten with many carbs. The rest of the day consists of Shakeology. Sometimes plain and sometimes with fruit (berries, banana, whatever) and some chia seeds. An average day has one plain and one more robust shake. Dinner is a salad or veggie dish. Starches are off but I do allow legumes, quinoa (a veggie). Dinner is modest , but not small, so that the daily calorie totals are low. This varies but should be over 1000 for sure. I generally go 1200 – 1500.
I get a lot of caffeine questions and in this scenario it’s totally fine: coffee or tea. I drop caffeine when I’m cleansing because of its heightened effects when you aren’t eating much food. But this is a lifestyle and caffeine is good for exercise and coffee and tea and quite healthy if they don’t have junk added to them. I also allow wine and or beer with dinner, though I try and stick with wine because it fits the theme better. I drink plenty of water and don’t alter my supplement plan. Again, it’s a lifestyle and not a cleanse.
Zag days aren’t extravagant. I just eat normal, which generally means bread, cereal, rice etc will come back on. Portions might get bigger, but things are similar. I eat a lot of salad, veggies, legumes, nuts and seeds. I don’t eat much meat of any kind. Most days I drink Shakeology and if it’s more convenient I’ll sometimes drink it twice. I eat for what I’m doing and this varies massively over the year. If it’s a easy day, which say includes an hour or so of training, I might only eat 2500 cals or so. If it’s a big day out I might eat 5 or 6 thousand calories. On average I’d say I’m in the 3000 ballpark on a work day that includes a couple hours of training and an easier hour or so dog hike.
I do this until I’m at the weight that I desire. While it can be done indefinitely you’ll probably grow bored of it in time. I do a version of it somewhat regularly just to get a check on where I’m at and how I’m functioning. There never seems to be a wrong time (except any holiday where culinary experience it vital) to follow this plan.
Of course when you do this it should be set up for you personally. Caloric calculators are always wrong. All they provide you with is a ballpark figure: a starting place. No matter what you will need take this figure and tweak it because almost any two people, even who are physiologically identical, will have different metabolisms. And even compared to yourself you need to consistently alter and tweak because your metabolism changes throughout your life, depending on many factors.
When zig zagging you’ll want to pay close attention to what you are eating. My casual attitude comes with years of experience. Your body will tell you, in time, what is working and what isn’t. Performance is your gauge. When you’re killing your workouts you’ll know you’ve got it dialed. Body composition change will then, by extension, be forced to follow.