By Dr. Rick Kattouf II


Body transformation; it is something that so many individuals are looking to achieve. And, as important as working out is, the reality is this; the success, or lack thereof, when it comes to body transformation is going to come down to one thing… Nutrition. Often times, it's our nutrition and/or the habits that we create around nutrition, that are holding us back from success. What is the definition of, habit. According to the online Merriam-Webster dictionary, the definition of, habit, is as follows:

·      A behavior pattern acquired by frequent repetition or physiologic exposure that shows itself in regularity or increased facility of performance.

·      An acquired mode of behavior that has become nearly or completely involuntary.

Read both of those definitions again. This really solidifies how powerful habits are. When it comes to achieving our body transformation goals, we may have created positive or negative habits. And, depending on the habits we have created, the needle is either going to move in the direction of us achieving the results we desire…Or, the needle is going to move in the opposite direction and we are not going to achieve the results that we desire. Let's take a look at some common habits that individuals create that may be holding them back. And this is where we want to pivot and start creating new habits.

“I'm going to wake up and go work out and not eat anything so that I can lose more weight."

This is a very common habit that individuals create. Their goal is to lose weight of course. So, in their mind, they think that if they do not eat before their workout, this will help them to lose weight. Well, this could not be further from the truth. Fueling the body properly, prior to each and every workout, is a critical component in the body transformation process. Not fueling your body properly before workout is like taking your race car to the track with extremely low tire pressure, no oil, virtually no gas and no coolant or fluids. We don't need to be a racecar driver to realize that this is not going to produce the best results. The human body works the same way. We have to fuel the machine properly and when we do, we are going to set the body up for great success in terms of body transformation, energy levels, workout performance and recovery.

Keep in mind, as per the definition above, this becomes almost involuntary for the individual. So much so, that they truly start to believe that they are unable to eat before a workout. It is very commonplace, once a habit like this is developed, for individuals say, "I cannot eat anything before workout; my stomach can handle it." From a physiological perspective, of course the body can handle it. The body is designed to be fueled, not starved. But, habits become so ingrained, that we start to believe this to be true. So how do we create a new habit here. Well, sometimes we want to take baby steps when changing habits. Other times, we just want to shove that square through the circle! And when it comes to a habit like this, don't hesitate; simply shove that square through the circle. Literally, this habit can change overnight. Recently, I began coaching a female that had some great body transformation goals that she wanted to achieve. It was commonplace for her to not fuel her body prior to her workouts. This was a habit that she created and she had the mindset that her stomach would get upset if she ate before workout. This is how quickly she was able to change this habit. The day we started working together, her belief was that her stomach could not handle any food before her workout. The next day, she followed my instructions, stuck to the plan, changed her habit and fueled her body prior to her workout. And here was her response, "I did really well with the pre-workout fueling! I was afraid my stomach would feel upset during the workout, but it didn’t; AND I HAD MORE ENERGY during my workout!" This is a great example to show how quickly we can change our nutrition habits.

“I will just work out more/harder”

This is another very common habit that individuals develop and it is another habit that will impede individuals body transformation goals. Often times, individuals will overeat/binge eat. In their mind, the thought process is, "calories in versus calories out." And as a result, if they eat too much, their mindset leads them to believe that they just need to work out more/harder tomorrow, in order to burn off those additional calories they consumed. A habit like this can also become nearly or completely involuntary. And then, months and years go by, and not only does the individual find themselves not achieving the body transformation goals they desire, but they actually find themselves gaining even more weight; despite the increase in workout frequency, duration and/or intensity.

Like many habits, this is a belief/mindset that individuals develop. Therefore, this isn't so much about changing something, physically, rather, this is about changing our beliefs. When we change the beliefs, we can change the results. This is another one of those, shove the square to the circle, approaches that we want to use. We have to just take a step back and look at what this habit has created. Despite the high amount of work out time, effort and energy spent in the gym, this habit has resulted in weight gain. On the surface, it seems pretty easy and that someone should recognize this quickly. But, it's not that easy. Habits do become ingrained. And, we keep thinking that something is going to change. We keep thinking that if we ratchet up the workouts, just a bit more this time, this is going to be the break that we need. This is going to produce the body transformation results. And when that doesn't work, what's the next step? Well, the individual decides to ratchet it up, one more level. Because in their mind, doing more must be the answer. Since doing less (workouts/intensity) was not working, more has to be the answer. And then the cycle continues, make sense?

And this is why we have to take that step back, self-analyze, and look at what has been transpiring. And then, it's time to change the habit and change the belief. The lack of results from the "work out more mindset" is a direct indication that something is not working. And once we recognize that and start to change the habit, we can then start to understand that working out smarter and eating right is going to be the key to success (not working out more/harder). And this is where working our smarter (proper heart rate training) becomes so valuable. Gone are the days of simply trying to work out harder to achieve our goals. It's all about working out smarter and working out in the proper heart rate zones. And when we work out of the proper heart rate zones, will maximize each workout. Will maximize the body's ability to burn fat. We will minimize risk of injury. We will minimize risk of overtraining. And we will maximize the body's ability to recover.

“I'm going to "save up" my calories”

The mindset of, saving up calories, in order to eat and/or drink more later in the day, is a very common habit and mindset that individuals will develop. This habit is often tied together with the, work out more habit, that we discussed above. And together, this is what I call, "save up/makeup" mindset when it comes to calorie consumption. Let’s set the stage. An individual has a dinner, event, etc., planned for later in the day. They know that there is going to be very good food and beverage available. The individual, understandably so, is excited about this dinner/event. They want to enjoy themselves this evening. These individuals have the same "calories in versus calories out" mindset as the individuals we mentioned above. And as a result, they developed the, save up calories, mentality. Their thought process goes like this, "I am just going to eat very little, if anything, throughout the day. That way, I can save up my calories and consume a lot more food/beverage this evening." This habit is one of the most common that I have seen over the years.

Now, the individual gets to the dinner/event and, physiologically, where are they, in terms of hunger levels? Well, since they virtually starved themselves all day trying to save up calories, they are nothing shy of ravenous when they get to the event. What is this going to lead to? You guessed it; this is going to lead to an overeating/binge eating session like no other. The body is famished at this time. And as a result, the number of calories that the individual will consume at this event is off the charts. And more often than not, this leads them right into the, "I will just work out more tomorrow" mindset. They get home that evening after the event and they feel miserable because they ate so much.

So let's set the stage for what happens next because we have a couple of habits getting ready to collide. Not only is this person stuffed to the gills, but, they are very frustrated with themselves for eating as much as they did. In their mind, what is the answer? Well, the answer is that they are going to try to undo the damage that is been done by this binge eating session. They wake up the next day and they are going to get their workout first thing in the morning. Now remember, they are going to try to "make up" for the damage that was done last evening. So, they do not eat anything upon awakening, prior to their workout (refer to the first habit we discussed above). In their mind, this is going to help make up for the overeating last night.  And, there is a very good chance, that the individual is going to work out more/harder so they can "burn off those calories from last night" (refer to the second habit we discussed above). As the day progresses, the individual chooses to eat very little, if anything, why? Because they are simply trying to make up for the overload of calories the night before. And as the hours transpire, human physiology takes over.

They think they're being "good" by eating very little during the day. What does this lead to as they get towards the middle and end of their workday? Well, this leads to extremely high hunger levels and food cravings. They are back to the ravenous hunger that they experienced just 24 hours earlier. They just cannot hold out any longer, they are famished! What happens next? You guessed it; another overeating/binge eating session and the cycle continues.

When it comes to saving up calories in order to consume alcohol, this is often referred to as, Drunkorexia. According to an article in the Journal of Alcohol and Drug Education, alcohol is known for its vitamin-leaching and nutrient-leaching qualities. By replacing food for alcohol, individuals are more likely to suffer from other health problems related to nutritional deficits. Alcohol alters the bodies' normal metabolic processes and its ability to regulate blood sugar levels. As you can imagine, this 'save up calorie' mindset is not going to help assist individuals on their health, fitness and body transformation journey.

Can you see how all three of these habits collided? And can you see how these habits can really derail individuals from achieving their body transformation goals? What is the next step? How do we change these habits? We do so by putting three key principles into motion:

  • Fuel the body right away upon awakening: We want to change the habit and mindset, right away, when it comes to, saving up calories. This never, ever works when individuals are looking to achieve body transformation goals. We are not looking to starve the body. We are not looking to deprive the body. Rather, we are looking to fuel the body for success. And this starts immediately, yes immediately, upon awakening.
  • Fuel the body every 2.5-3.5 hours thereafter, all throughout the day: Now that we have the body properly fueled for success, right away upon awakening; it's now time to fuel the machine and keep it fueled, all throughout the day. What is this going to lead to as the hours progress? Well, it will lead to a completely different scenario than the, save up/makeup mindset, of nutrition. When we try to save up those calories, this leads to ravenous hunger levels. Which then leads to overeating and binge eating. Which then leads to increases in body fat and body weight. But, when we fuel the body frequently, all throughout the day, we help to assist in stabilizing blood sugar, insulin and serotonin levels. And as a result, we experience higher and more stable energy levels. And, we significantly reduce, if not completely diminish, food cravings. Therefore, whether it's our regular dinner we are going to consume or an event we are attending that evening, by fueling the body properly, all throughout the day, we are going to arrive at this dinner at normal hunger levels (as opposed to being ravenous).  And as a result, we are not going to binge eat/overeat. We are going to feel amazing. We are not going to regret our food choices. We are going to wake up the next day feeling incredible. And as you can see, we completely spring clean the habit of save up, makeup and work out more.
  •  At every meal and snack, fuel the body with the right balance of carbohydrate-protein-fat: This is where TeamKattouf® Nutrition will set each individual up for the best success possible. When we combine this proper macronutrient balance with the proper fueling frequency and fueling timing, mentioned above, the body and brain will then be properly fueled.

New Habits, Big Results; Are you ready? Let’s make it happen!


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 Rick Kattouf II, O.D. is a 2x Best-Selling Author and Fitness & Nutrition expert and has been named one of America’s PremierExperts® and one of the World Fitness Elite® Trainers of the Year. Rick is a Sports Nutrition Specialist, Heart Rate Performance Specialist, Master Personal Trainer & Triathlon Coach. He has been seen on ABC, NBC, CBS and Fox affiliates around the country as well as in the USA Today, Chicago Tribune,,, FIGHT! Magazine, Florida Cycling Magazine and The Independent in the UK. Rick is the CEO/Founder of TeamKattouf® Inc, CEO/Founder of TeamKattouf® Nutrition LLC, CEO/Founder of Virtual Gym LLC, Creator of TeamKattouf® Nutrition Supplements, Host of Rx Nutrition, author of Forever Fit, Creator of 5-Round Fury® Nutrition Supplement, 5-Round Fury Fitness® workout app, Creator of Coach2CEO, Creator of Fuel Keeper®, Entrepreneur and Inspirational Speaker. Dr. Rick has personally coached individuals in 30+ states and 10+ countries.

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