What's New in Fat Loss: News, Views & Opinions of a Natural Bodybuilder
Tom Venuto interviewed by John Sifferman, Part 1
JOHN SIFFERMAN: You're well known as a lifelong natural bodybuilder and you've been doing it now for over 20 years. Can you give us a word picture of why you enjoy training and competing in bodybuilding so much? What does bodybuilding mean and represent to you?
TOM VENUTO: The way I see it, bodybuilding is the human body as sculpture. If you have appreciation for art and if you can look at Ancient Greek sculpture or Renaissance sculpture like Michelangeloís David and say thatís a beautiful work of art, then couldnít you look at a sculpted body and say thatís even more beautiful than an inanimate piece of art?
I think most people donít see bodybuilding that way because they think itís a superficial pursuit. They think itís only about vanity. Or they think its just about winning a trophy. That would be like saying martial arts is only about violence and beating people up. Obviously thereís an art form and even a spiritual practice there as well.
I believe that as a bodybuilder, youíre a sculptor. And the food you eat and the training you do are your hammer and chisel. If you know how to eat and how to train, your body is your canvas. You can paint whatever you want. You can chisel off a little bit from the waist, slap a little muscle on the lats and deltoids and carve out more definition and you look like a different person.
Bodybuilding nutrition and training give you a feeling of total control over creating your body Ė you donít feel like youíre at the mercy of genetics or environment because youíre holding the tools to change it. This is what I love about bodybuilding and why itís the method of physique transformation I teach in my Burn The Fat Program.
JOHN SIFFERMAN: How important is your competitive bodybuilding to assisting you with your vision and purpose?
TOM VENUTO: My personal vision is to continuously improve myself, inspire others and become the best natural bodybuilder I can be. My business vision is to help as many people as I can to achieve their ideal weight and great health - naturally. I think the best way to inspire and lead is to set the example and what better way than drug-free bodybuilding?
JOHN SIFFERMAN: What is the average day like for Tom Venuto? How do you fit training and eating into your hectic schedule?
TOMVENUTO: Itís the other way around. I work my hectic schedule around my training and eating. Training and nutrition are among my highest priorities. Everything else is scheduled around the priorities. So an average day starts with me reviewing my priorities and I make sure those priorities get accomplished, if nothing else.
JOHN SIFFERMAN: What is your favorite quick and easy, nutrient-dense meal?
TOM VENUTO: My all time favorite has to be my high protein, apple cinnamon oatmeal pancake. You can see the recipe here: www.burnthefatinnercircle.com/public/124.cfm?sd=2
JOHN SIFFERMAN: When Tom Venuto has guests, what does he serve?
TOM VENUTO: Well, I do cook, but usually I ďserveĒ whatever the best restaurant has on the menu! Seriously, last time I had some friends over, we went into Manhattan and ate some Italian at little Italy. I donít eat in restaurants often, but when friends are over, thatís an occasion when I like to go out and enjoy a good meal in a place with some good atmosphere.
JOHN SIFFERMAN: Favorite protein source? Favorite veggies? Favorite fruits? Favorite starchy carbs? Favorite treat or cheat foods?
TOM VENUTO: Favorite protein: steak. I also eat eggs, fish, chicken and protein powder daily. Veggies: A favorite is mixed veggies like mushrooms, onions, peppers, tomatoes, etc. in an omelette. I also like huge raw veggie salads with a nice balsamic dressing. Fruits: I like them all, but I eat grapefruits and apples and blueberries the most. Starchy carbs: oatmeal, yams, potatoes, brown rice. Favorite treat foods? A big restaurant steak, sushi or pasta. I donít cheat often Ė I donít crave junk foods most of the time.
JOHN SIFFERMAN: Letís say someone wants to build lean muscle, how much should they be eating, and how important is food quality? Iíve heard a lot of guys say they just need to eat a TON, even if itís from McDonaldís.
TOM VENUTO: The amount of calories a person needs is totally individual based primarily on gender, body size and activity level, secondarily on age. I have all the exact formulas in chapter 6 of my Burn The Fat e-book, but a typical male has a maintenance level of around 2800 and a female around 2100, so tack on about 10-15% over that as a starting point for gaining muscle. The person who eats a ton of fast food to gain muscle who doesnít get fat is the exception, not the rule. In fact, thatís usually the genetic freak on steroids. The average natural guy needs to eat the right quantity and high quality food to make solid, lean gains while staying healthy. Itís true though, it takes a lot of food to gain large amounts of lean mass. Most people who complain that they canít gain muscular weight simply arenít eating enough. Some pro bodybuilders say that during mass building phases, eating literally becomes their job.
JOHN SIFFERMAN: From a fat loss standpoint, how important is it to eat organic, whole, raw, and unprocessed foods? From a health standpoint?
TOM VENUTO: From a fat loss standpoint, itís hardly important at all, which really irritates the heck out of the ďclean eatingĒ or ďnatural healthĒ people and they yell at me for even suggesting this. But a metabolizable calorie is just a calorie from a pure energy balance point of view. However, Iím not saying you should only worry about the quantity of food you eat and not the quality. Eating unprocessed foods is very important for your health. Food quality does impact body composition as well, by way of nutrient partitioning and the effect that each type of food has on hormones, cell quality, appetite and long term health. But eating organic or raw and so on has very little bearing on actual fat loss unless doing so makes you eat less. Swapping out calorie-dense, nutrient-sparse processed and refined foods for nutrient-dense fruits and vegetables usually DOES make you take in fewer calories.
JOHN SIFFERMAN: What about foods that contain zero calories Ė like diet sodas, should these be avoided or welcomed as a nice treat away from our diet?
TOM VENUTO: I have no problem with an occasional diet soda or diet Snapple or crystal light, etc., strictly from a fat loss perspective. Itís all over the news again that ďdiet soda makes you fat,Ē but thatís not true. The recent wave of publicity against diet soda came as a result of a mouse study. Rodent studies, especially in the area of obesity research, have almost no bearing on the results in humans. The human studies from a few years ago were epidemiological. They looked at data that had been collected from a large group of overweight people and said, ďaha, these overweight people drink a lot of diet soda, therefore, diet soda made them fat.Ē Thatís confusing correlation and causation. Thatís like looking at data about all the fires in your city for the last 10 years and saying, ďaha, the fires with the most damage had the most fire trucks at the scene. Therefore, fire trucks caused the damage.Ē Perfect correlation, but obviously the fire trucks didnít cause the damage. The reverse is true, actually.
There are no calories in diet soda. If diet soda makes you fat, how do you explain it? One suggested mechanism is that it may increase appetite. This has not been proven, but if itís true then that would concern me. However, if diet soda increases appetite and you eat more of other food, then what was the true cause of the fat gain Ė the diet soda or the additional food eaten? What if you had the awareness and restraint not to eat the additional food?
That said, itís important to realize that diet soda is not real food. It has no positive nutritional value and itís entirely possible that drinking large quantities of it may have negative effects on health over the long term Ė especially from daily consumption. I think we should be very selective about what we eat every day as part of our habitual intake. However, as you alluded, non-caloric diet drinks can be a nice occasional treat with sweet taste, to help take the edge off a strict diet. Just keep your consumption of anything artificial to a minimum. Also remember that the correlation found between diet soda intake and being overweight shows that using reduced calorie diet products is no guarantee that youíll lose more weight if you compensate by eating more elsewhere.
JOHN SIFFERMAN: Is there a best nut to eat? Iíve heard that peanuts should be avoided because of the allergens. What nuts do you recommend eating?
TOM VENUTO: Peanuts are a highly allergenic food, so for sure, if youíre allergic to peanuts, donít eat peanuts. That doesnít mean we should warn everyone to avoid peanuts Ė well, except when thereís a recall from a salmonella outbreak, as there was recently, but thatís not an everyday type of occurrence. Interesting enough, natural (no sugar) peanut butter is one of the all time favorite dietary fat sources for dieting bodybuilders. It tastes good so it helps take the edge off the diet and provides some energy and satiety when carbs are low. All nuts have some valuable and unique nutritional qualities, so nuts can be a part of almost any nutrition program. I like almonds and walnuts in particular. Walnuts are one of a few whole food sources rich in omega-3. All nuts are high in calories, so the quantities should be carefully controlled and measured.
JOHN SIFFERMAN: What do you think about juicing vegetables and fruits Ė any thoughts on the pros and cons? Do you have any favorite recipes?
TOM VENUTO: I donít have any favorite recipes, because I donít use a blender or juicer that often, I eat a lot of whole fruits and vegetables instead. But sure, I think itís a great idea to make smoothies or drinks, provided the ingredients are mostly whole foods, especially the veggies because theyíre so low in calorie density. If youíre talking about using fruit juice from a carton, then I donít advise that for fat loss programs except in very small, carefully counted quantities because liquid calories donít activate the satiety mechanisms in your body the way whole foods do. Fruit juice from a jug or carton is different than something you could blend up at home straight from whole foods because in the latter case you have the fiber and pulp and its just the whole food liquefied. You could even make the shake somewhat thick and chunky and research has shown that shakes or smoothies that are thick or even have a degree of ďchew factorĒ can help with satisfying appetite.
Continued in Part Two
To learn more about how you can burn fat permanently and naturally with Tom Venuto's Burn The Fat System visit: www.BurnTheFat.com
Tom Venuto is a lifetime natural (steroid-free) bodybuilder, independent nutrition researcher, freelance writer and author of the #1 best selling diet e-book, Burn The Fat, Feed The Muscle and the #1 Amazon best-seller, The Body Fat Solution (Avery/Penguin books). Tom has written hundreds of articles and has been featured in IRONMAN, Australian IRONMAN, Natural Bodybuilding, Muscular Development, Exercise for Men and Menís Exercise as well as on hundreds of websites worldwide. Tom is also the founder and CEO of the Internet's premier fat loss support community, the: Burn The Fat Inner Circle. To get notified of updates to TomVenuto.Com, subscribe to the free newsletter at: www.TomVenuto.com/free_newsletter.