This page is not ASD-specific.

Since HEALTH is at the base of all of our well-being, I have created this page to give people some pointers on fat loss, setting realistic goals for fat loss and also good common sense diet/food tips. Too many young people with ASD are eating incorrectly, are not exercising and are obese as a result. This plays hugely in how well they will function or not function in life.

(Note: this is all from my perspective as a bodybuilder and personal trainer.)

Fat Loss Through Realistic Goals

I always feel blessed by the amazing mentors and friends I have in my life. Just recently one of my mentors appeared on a local news show to discuss ways to keep resolutions:

I really like what he had to say, and he mentioned the need to set realistic goals in abstract fashion but could not really cover the topic in any detail in the time allotted him in this interview. Fairly regularly, we are exposed to amazing body transformation on TV or in the magazines. It is a logical jump that with enough discipline and willpower that anyone could do the same in 12 weeks or less, right? Unfortunately, setting these sorts of expectations nearly always results in failure and, more often than not, psychological and physical damage.

In the referenced video, Dr. Friedrichs talks about advice he received from one of his own mentors about tackling a project (or goal) and how one needs to limit the tasks first and foremost and then to slice tasks down thinly enough to see through. In that spirit, let us examine the goal of body transformation in slices realistic and thin enough so that you can actually achieve the long-term goal of transforming your body.

Losing Fat Realistically

Fat loss is on the minds of everyone today. Even people who are ideal scale weight struggle with unsightly body fat and wish to reduce this. So what are realistic fat loss goals? Again, I turn to another person I have the extreme fortune to call a personal mentor, Alan Aragon. In his monthly publication the AARR (, Alan wrote a series of articles specifically on setting realistic muscle gain as well as fat loss expectations. He also gave detailed information on how to set up caloric and macro goals. I highly recommend a subscription to get all the details. For this article, I will give my "cliff's" on some of the topics covered in those articles.

Alan cautions that for fat loss, individuals will lose muscle if they attempt to drop scale weight too quickly. I will add that more than losing muscle, the person will potentially also sustain injury and fail to reach their goal if they lose too quickly. Interestingly, the closer you are to an ideal scale weight, the harder it is to lose fat without muscle loss, so the slower you have to go.

In order to preserve muscle as you are losing fat, the following guidelines are suggested:

Fat lost per month =
Obese: 6-8%
Moderately overweight: 4-6%
Average: 2-4%
Lean: 1-2%
Very lean: 0.5-1%

So if you are an obese person weighing around 250lbs, the most you can expect to take off per month without compromising muscle is roughly 17.5lb of scale weight (4.x lbs per week). If you are lifting weights, you will probably see even less as muscle growth will occur. Likewise, if you are already at ideal scale weight or lean (with barely visible abs) at 120lbs, then shoot for a maximum of 1.2lb rate of loss per month. Notice how these numbers differ from the ads you see on these amazing transformations or on Biggest Loser. This is reality vs. TV or some pre-arranged contest.

Clean Eating (Karla's Personal Choice of Diets)

What is clean eating? Dang good question and one where you will never, ever get a majority consensus on the definition. For the most part, everyone agrees that eating clean includes eating whole foods as much as possible, but beyond that the definitions go all over the place. Even within the realm of "whole" foods, there are arguments about what are "clean" vs. "dirty" foods. Some people think eating any meat is dirty, while others only think dark meat is dirty food. My daughter used to think that eating any animal with a "cute" face was dirty eating, so she only ate chicken and shrimp. external image biggrin.gif external image biggrin.gif Some people will not eat anything stemming from an animal, and others think that white rice is dirty but will eat brown rice all day long. This goes on ad nauseam in bodybuilding conversations, so if you come to one and start talking about "clean" eating, you might well have a definition of what that means in your mind but don't assume that is the same definition that others will have in the conversation.

Defining Clean Eating BKM (Best Known Method)

Since every person has their own definition of clean eating, I prefer to never use the term and instead refer to myself as either eating on-plan or off-plan. But since I concede the term will never, ever die, let's establish guidelines for setting up your personal definition of clean eating that are known to be good (AKA work for most everyone).

At one extreme end of the "clean" definition are the folks who will only eat non-processed, whole foods and add in a bunch of other extremely ridiculously hard-to-follow guidelines. Anything outside of these "rules" of eating = cheating. At the other end of the spectrum are the folks who are completely unaware of what they eat and really don't care. They will eat anything.

A good guideline for establishing a sustainable diet is to find a happy place somewhere in the middle of these extremes. One of the very best known methods I have found is to understand and set daily caloric and macro-nutrient numbers that meet your goals and then to eat within those goals without respect to whether a specific food is dirty or clean. Just hit your macro-nutrient goals at the end of the day, each and every day... PERIOD.

See the sticky written by Emma-Leigh on setting caloric and macro nutrient goals here:

The next component to the calorie and macros setting is the following guidelines:
@ 70% of food is whole or minimally processed food that you love the taste of
@ 10% is whole or minimally processed food that you are just "meh" about
@ 10% is semi-junky foods (like protein bars)
@ 10% is the fun stuff (whatever you want so long as it fits in the macros for the day)

This ^ little bit of addition to the age-old calorie/macro guideline was first presented by Alan Aragon at the 2010 JP Fitness Summit in a presentation aptly named "Building the Perfect Beast." It is my understanding that these are guidelines as opposed to hard percentages. If I am not mistaken, Alan has plans to write some more on this concept in the future. (Keep an eye out for that.)


This is a word typically used by people on the extreme end of the "clean" eating spectrum. The problem with this word and the concept is that it generally comes with feelings of guilt and failure. A better plan is to set up your personal definition as specified above and eat ANY foods that fit within that plan. Just like that, you never have to cheat again and you get to eat foods that are just a tiny bit "naughty" too. WIN/WIN!

The "Which Food is Better" Debate

Another argument that happens time and time and time again in bodybuilding circles is the "which is better" argument. Brown rice or white rice, sweet potato or white... etc., etc., etc. These arguments are tiring because the answer is almost 100% that it really doesn't matter when talking the same types of foods (comparing apples to apples or rice to rice, bread to bread, etc.). You will inevitably hear time and time again from people who are 100% convinced that brown rice is better than white rice, but don't be fooled. Look at this thread and read the posts by Alan Aragon and see that it is really NOT better either for health purposes or for fat loss. (hmmmm....)

Clean Food Nazi Warning

Once it is definitively proven that white rice or brown rice (or sweet potato or white, etc.) really doesn't matter to a specific diet for either purpose, there will always be the "clean food Nazi" who chimes in with "So I can eat candy bars instead of broccoli and that is okay?" in his/her most sarcastic voice. And, believe it or not, the answer to this is a big fat IT DEPENDS.

Even a stupid and extreme comparison of broccoli to a candy bar can easily be argued one way or the other given the amount of unique people and goals in this world. If I had a client who had performance goals (not bodybuilding) and had to eat a massive amount of carbs to fulfill her daily macro requirements, and it was literally impossible to eat this amount in broccoli and actually perform on the field, which one would be better? Obviously the Snickers bar would win out in that situation given that the client otherwise followed the guidelines. The Snickers bar would provide all the right macros and allow the client to actually eat to support her goal of having performance in her sport. Is that a better thing than trying to eat 2lbs of broccoli and failing and not getting it in at all? I would say a resounding "YES" to this.

The Unique Factor

Mentioned lightly earlier in this post is that nutritional requirements and definitions of things like "clean" eating are all very individualized. That is the way it should be and a good thing. Keep in mind as you are walking this path that you are unique and your body will respond to things differently than your buddy's might respond. You may (for example) get bloaty and swollen with water when you eat carbs and your buddy may remain stable. People call this "carb sensitive" and often stop eating carbs because they believe carbs cause them to gain fat. In reality, it is all water weight and underneath the bloat you are both doing the same thing WRT losing fat. Still, it doesn't make your way right or wrong unless you are falsely believing that you are "carb sensitive" and actually gaining fat while your buddy is losing it. If you cannot stand to see the water fluxing and choose to avoid carbs to stop that aspect, that is perfectly acceptable and is what makes you uniquely you. Come into the game well-informed and there really are no wrong answers or wrong paths to take, provided you are happy with the results. What is wrong is if you believe that your results are the only right way or the best way for another person.