#60 – Fat & Weak to Strong & Sleek: 3 Habits to a Better Body with Robert Santana

Today we welcome back Starting Strength Coach and Registered Dietitian Robert Santana! Robert joins us to talk about making the transition from weak and overweight to strong and lean. Specifically, we look at a theoretical 45-year old woman who needs to lose about 40lbs of bodyfat while increasing her strength and muscle mass.


In the course of coaching hundreds of clients, Robert has developed a nutrition coaching style that revolves around habits and accountability, rather than macros and calorie counting. Although he adapts to a person’s preference for tracking, he prefers to start by having the client take pictures of everything they eat for 7 days. From there he will identify which foods the person is not eating of, and increase those in the diet. For most people new to strength training, this is protein. Women should eat between 120-150g of protein per day, while men should aim for 200-250g depending on size and bodyweight. Getting enough protein ensures that the client will recover properly from her workouts and build new muscle mass, which in turns increases metabolism and creates an environment for fat loss.


Once protein intake is in place, Robert focuses on nutrient dense carbs. For most this means eating more vegetables, since most Americans are woefully deficient in vegetable intake. One, they contain a lot of fiber, which many people are short on. Secondly, vegetables take up a lot of space in your stomach and are filling to eat, so you can eat a lot of them without consuming a ton of calories. Lastly, they contain essential micronutrients — vitamins and minerals — which are not found in processed foods.


Note that, at this point, Robert has not asked our theoretical women to eat less. In fact he’s done the opposite — encouraging her to eat more of the right things, rather than restrict “bad” foods. This focus on habits is critical, he says, because most clients (women in particular) come to him after years of dieting and calorie-restriction. If he can improve food quality and create a calorie restriction without explicitly prescribing a calorie restriction, then he can help the client create new, healthy habits without developing neuroses around certain foods.


Next week we will talk more with Robert about macros, appropriate timelines for weightloss, and how to properly measure body composition while getting stronger, building muscle mass, and losing body fat.


You can follow Robert on Instagram @the_robert_santana where he posts helpful nutrition tips and tricks. You can also find him at Barbell Logic Online Coaching and Renaissance Periodization, where he offers customized, one-on-one strength and nutrition coaching. If you’re in the Phoenix area, be sure to check out his new gym Weights and Plates!


Got a question about nutrition, or training in general? Send us a message on Instagram or send us an email at info@40fit.com!


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