January 31, 2022
Jeff Cavaliere is a fixture in the fitness world, he recently went over his diet and tells us how he manages to stay lean. We wanted to break down some of the tips and tricks he uses to maintain his tip-top shape. He shares tons of helpful training techniques on his YouTube channel. His brand AthleanX is all about staying in shape and improving your health.
Jeff Cavaliere, at 46 years old, is in incredible shape, which he states is because of his natural ability to stay consistent. He only has a cheat meal once per year, for carrot cake, and typically eats the same exact things day in and day out.
Jeff started his career as a physical therapist and personal trainer. When the New York Mets were looking for a new physical therapist in 2006, Mark Johnson suggested Jeff's name after the two had been working together for a while. He was associated with the baseball team from 2006 to 2009, during which he also worked as the assistant strength coach of the team. With his help, the baseball team went on to win the 2006 National League East Championship.
When Jeff felt the need to start his own company, he parted ways with the New York Mets and founded ATHLEAN-X. He started posting videos that he had created in 2006 on his YouTube channel. He soon became a world-renowned trainer and social media star, with over 12 million subscribers on his YouTube channel. He also became popular on other social media platforms such as Twitter and Instagram.
Jeff is a busy man, so when he isn't producing educational content, he is either writing books/articles and lecturing, specializing in topics of baseball injury prevention and sports-specific conditioning. As an accomplished author, he has penned both the 'Major League Insider Training Manual' (strength and conditioning must work for all professional baseball players and aspiring pros alike) and the 'Teen Sports Nutrition Blueprint' (a look into the sad state of youth nutrition and childhood obesity).
The biggest question that Jeff gets asked is, "how do you stay as lean as you do all year round?" since his physique and leanness rarely ever changes. Jeff says that it comes down to how he approaches nutrition; according to him, he has never taken any drugs, TRT, or done anything special to get where he is today.
Jeff says the only thing he has is his incredible ability to stay consistent with his nutrition. He doesn't really do any cardio, only doing enough to keep some shape and focus on his heart, so this isn't a factor in the leanness that he earned.
A few years ago, he made a video that breaks down what he eats in a day to stay that lean. People have been asking him to create an updated version of that video; unfortunately for them, Jeff says that what he eats hasn't really changed, and the information wouldn't be any different. He believes that having this consistency and creating a system is what helped him achieve this level of body fat all the time.
Depending on your desired level of leanness, it can be either easier or harder to actually get to his level. Most people are comfortable in the mid-teen body fat levels, which means you wouldn't have to be as consistent as him to achieve the desired results. However, if you want to get leaner than the mid-teens body fat percentage, you have to up the ante on your consistency.
1. You need to eat what you like. He doesn't say to eat whatever you want; to get lean, you need to make smarter food choices that you still enjoy. Foods should be high in nutritional value, and having options that are low in calories is good too.
If you're forcing foods into your program that you don't enjoy, you'll never be able to stick to it in the long term resulting in it never becoming a lifestyle change. You must thoroughly enjoy the foods you eat, so finding recipes, new cooking techniques, new ingredients, and experimenting may all be necessary to find things you enjoy.
2. Pick an approach and stick with it. There are a lot of different approaches to achieving your leanness goals. Some that Jeff agrees with and others that he doesn't, but if you can find one you can stick to year after year, then stick with it. For example, Jeff isn't a believer in the ketogenic diet; however, he does believe that if you can stick with it, then go ahead and do it.
Jeff went with the low-fat approach due to the caloric density of fats per gram was more than twice as much compared to protein and carbs. Since his fats were already high, Jeff decided that it would be easier to cut them out. Jeff made a mistake, though, because he went to the extreme by almost wholly cutting out fats from his diet, which results in adverse side effects like being constantly cold, vision problems, and photo-sensitivity.
To combat this, he made some modifications by adding fats back into his diet to get proper nutrition and still in the calorie deficit. Jeff's recommendation for the easiest method to getting lean is what he did with the low-fat approach.
3. Eat at specific times during the day. Jeff eats based on the clock but says it has nothing to do with optimizing the anabolic window (which doesn't really exist). Instead, it provides a level of consistency because he is only allowed to eat at certain times during the day and not outside of those times. This provides a level of consistency because you shouldn't be eating for any other reason than that it is time to eat. Over time your body will adjust to this schedule and will only be hungry at times you're allowed to eat at.
Often, we just eat when we are hungry, which leads to grazing. Grazing makes it very difficult to stay in a calorie deficit. Jeff says even thirst can make people think that they are hungry.
Jeff recommends creating half-hour windows throughout your day (5-6 meals a day, evenly spaced out) that you can eat in; he never eats outside of the windows. By becoming mechanical about this process, you reduce the odds of being affected by random cravings emotions, and you're more prepared for your meals throughout the day. This technique is very similar to intermittent fasting since you create open windows to eat and windows where you can't eat.
4. Institute more eating periods throughout the day. If you're going to eat by the clock, then find the times throughout the day that you're the hungriest and institute an eating window during that time. Jeff started with just breakfast, lunch, and dinner.
Over time he realized he needed to eat between breakfast and lunch and then between lunch and dinner. Once he realized that he got hungry, he implemented eating windows between meals. Set the eating window and don't sway from it; as he said before, your body will get used to those feeding times and only get hungry during those times.
5. No cheat days. Jeff doesn't implement cheat days into his program; a couple of times a year, he may eat outside his typical foods, but that is it. Jeff doesn't crave cheat meals because he eats foods he enjoys, so he never feels like he is missing out on other foods. To wrap the video, Jeff says that "how you eat will determine how you look." Which we think is a great way to wrap up this video!
We have to respect the time and effort Cavaliere puts into his content. Many people fall short on the nutrition side so we hope that this post helps you structure your diet better to achieve your desired goals.
Let us know in the comments below what your nutrition looks like!
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