No matter what your goals are, you must eat to suit them. If you want to jump up a weight class to improve your leverages and numbers, you likely won’t want a no carb diet. Likewise, if you want to drop 10 percent body fat, you don’t want to spend each weeknight with Little Debbie.

With all the information out there on dieting, it can be difficult to know where to start. On the elitefts™ Q&A, team members provide insight into dieting practices and share their own experiences with weight control. If you’re looking for a place to start, there’s nowhere better than right here with the experts.

Hi Murph,

What’s the most effective fat loss diet that you have used on your clients? Can we see a sample day of eating, too?

Best, Colin


I think that depends on the person and his or her lifestyle personality. Many people simply don’t really want to lose fat and diet. You need to set them up with a plan that suits them and keeps them mentally engaged. Some people do well on a very structured plan, and some do well on an exchange based plan. Some won’t go without carbohydrates either.

In the past and currently, I’ve used and still do, in no particular order:

  • Fred Hatfield’s Zig-Zag diet: This is basically macro adjustment based on activity and feeding lean body mass only based on anticipated activity. It is slow and steady. It works well for those wishing to eat carbs all the time.
  • Carb cycling: I use carb cycling a lot like Shelby does for those who are willing to go low carb for time periods and eat carbs at other times. This also works well.
  • Back loading: I’m a big fan of back loading, too. It worked very well for me, and I switched over to Carb Nite for further fat loss. I use them both when the client is willing to do it.
  • Apex Predator diet: I’m currently following the Apex Predator diet, which is low carb, high fat, and high protein all the time with a carb refeed once or twice a week. I seem to be doing best on this, except that I’m in the john a lot.
  • Renegade diet: I’ve suggested the Renegade diet to many. This is Ferrugia’s plan and works wonders for those who believe it will work, as does any plan.
  • Paleo: I feel that Paleo, when applied correctly, is great, too. Unfortunately, most don’t do it right.

The bottom line is that you must find the plan that your client will believe in and be accountable to. Great question.

— Murph

Here's a general question to any expert. I'm in my mid-50s. I train for strength and overall health. As I get stronger, my body weight goes up. I need to “make weight” for my life insurance premiums (another story). How do I continue to get stronger and add muscle but keep my weight in the range that the insurance company likes? I'm six feet tall and 225 pounds. I squat 400, bench press 300, and deadlift 500. At my age, it has taken work to hit those numbers again. I'm raw and drug-free.

To get stronger and add muscle while staying in at/under a certain weight is easy—caloric deficit and proper programming. You will need to lose fat and maintain/build muscle to stay under 225. Losing body fat isn’t easy, but it also isn’t hard if you're committed to it.

Think of it like this—if you're 225 at 20 percent body fat, that means you have 45 pounds of fat and 180 pounds of lean body mass. If you dropped to 220 at 15 percent body fat, you would be at 33 pounds of fat and 187 pounds of lean body mass. In theory, you should get stronger from the additional muscle mass.

You could also request a body composition test from the insurance company to show that you're healthy. Don 't let them use BMI, which could make your premiums higher. As an interesting note, BMI was popularized by insurance actuaries for profit driven reasons. It sucks. Choose a nutrition plan that you think will suit your lifestyle and train hard while eating fewer calories than you burn.

Let me know if you have any more questions about this.

— Murph

Mr. Murphy,

I’m looking to gain size and strength for powerlifting. Would you recommend carb backloading or a more balanced regular approach with meals?


The nutrition plan you choose should be one that you believe will work, that suits your lifestyle, and that you’ll be accountable to. Backloading isn’t for everyone. I love it and it has worked wonders for me as well as for many of my clients. Some don’t do well on it for various reasons.

Take some time and research different methods. Try the one that you think will work best for you. If you’re going to follow a specific plan, buy the material that goes along with it. Don’t jump into backloading, Shelby style carb cycling, or any other plan without fully reading the designer’s book. It won’t work as well. Let me know what you decide and I’ll help if I can.

— Murph

Hey Julia,

The following question was directed at Harry Selkow, but he recommended that I ask you this question. I would really appreciate your help!

I have a question regarding nutrition. I'm a bit lost right now. I currently do carb backloading and I've been with this type of diet for about one and a half years now. While it's working pretty well, I just can’t really make it “my” nutrition. It just doesn’t feel like this is a diet I want to follow for years. Rather, it feels like being “on a diet.” And this sucks because I think that you need to make something like this a habit and you should be consistent. So I guess I need to change something.

I've tried four types of eating—high carb, low carb, a low carb diet with carbs only pre- and post-workout and now a CBL protocol. I did each of them with and without counting calories and macronutrients. It wasn't like I changed every four weeks. I gave each of them several months/years and stuck to them (because otherwise I sound like one of these program hoppers, which I'm certainly not).

I think I just need to simplify things and get a basic structure that I can orientate myself on. That’s what I wanted to ask you...if you could help me with that. I'm not asking for a free diet. I would just love to get some information on a basic structure that you feel works from which I can adjust to my needs.

My two biggest concerns are when to eat carbs (or nutrient timing in general) and whether or not calorie/macro counting is necessary. I hope that you can help me out a bit because I'm really lost right now (I guess that's obvious from reading this message). Thanks a lot!

Best regards, Jay


First of all, you’re right. No “diet” or “plan” will work if it doesn’t fit your life or come naturally to you. If it’s forced, it will always be a struggle. In regards to a “simple structure” to follow, I really can’t answer that without knowing your goals. Are your goals to gain mass? Increase performance (not really worried about body composition)? Lose fat? Or just improve your general health? If you could give me a little more information, that would help a lot.

But to answer the two questions that you had—carb timing kinda depends on your goals. For muscle gains, pre- and post-workout are important. Is calorie counting necessary? Yes and no. Yes, if you’re really fine tuning, you might want to. Yes, if you’re struggling to get all your protein in. Yes, if weight/fat loss is your goal. Can you do it without? Absolutely. I’ve helped many do that. If you have a basic understanding of what you need at each meal, you can adjust up or down based on volume/activity/rest days.

Hope that helps. Let me know if you have any other questions!

Coach Bryant,

First off, thank you for spending your time helping others with their queries like this. It says a lot. I have quite a few questions that need to be answered, but here's some information about me first. I'm 21 years old, 105 kilos (35 percent body fat), and five feet, eight inches. My goal is to have the best physique in college before I graduate and win the award for that (it's a student tradition).

My questions are:

1. I have eight months to do this. I assume that I'll need to drop to at least 10 percent body fat (or lose about 30 kilos of body fat) and gain 10 kilos of muscle. Is the time frame realistic?

2. Does it make more sense to first target fat loss and then gain muscle or to do this alternately?

3. What type of eating style should I use (ketogenic, low carb), and right now, what kind of macros should I shoot for? I don’t really follow any school of eating as such but just use what is required.

4. I'm trying to eat two pounds of chicken breast a day and green veggies only for my meals and no added fat, but I can't eat so much chicken whereas I can eat other foods like rice quite easily. The sight of chicken kills my appetite. Am I overeating?

I'm absolutely certain that I have no idea what I'm doing in terms of nutrition, but I'm in college and have two jobs. Finance is a problem, so I can't afford much in the way of supplements (except whey) or hire a nutritionist. Either way, I have limitations and will work around them.

Thanks for your time, Arihant


1) I hate to say no, but it will be very difficult and odds are it isn't realistic.
2) Yes, I would get lean first.
3) With 35 percent body fat, I think the ketogenic diet will work very well.
4) You need some fat with keto. Get some beef and other fatty cuts of meat in there.

Thanks for the kind words. Let me know if you need more help.

- Josh

Mr. Kirschen

I need to lose about 12–15 pounds. Would a basic carb cycle allow me to keep my strength gains and mass?


Yes. You probably wouldn’t need to do anything special to drop that amount of weight either. Some basic cleaning up of the diet should do it. Also, unless you’re like 140 pounds to start with, 12–15 pounds of fat loss shouldn’t have a dramatic effect on strength. You might not even notice it at all.

— Dave Kirschen