Derek is most well-known for his brand “More Plates More Dates” that mainly focuses on men’s self-improvement and human performance. His platform has become a hub of practical information in many different niches bringing positive change in men’s lives. Here, he shares some simple tips to help stay lean and healthy year-round (it is rare that both are achieved simultaneously).
3 Tips For Staying Lean And Healthy Year Round
For a beginner, these tips can be extremely helpful to not only create a long-term plan you can adhere to, but to ensure you are remaining healthy while doing so. There is so much priority placed on calorie and macronutrient counting that micronutrient composition often goes overlooked entirely.
First and foremost, you need to ensure you are actually moving. This doesn’t mean run yourself into the ground with boring treadmill sessions, but ensuring you get your steps in per day is key (10,000 steps is a great goal to taper up to). The equivalent calorie expenditure via sports, walking your dog, swimming, cycling, whatever it is that you like to do can be a viable alternative to the classic “10,000 steps” approach.
Choose the form of cardio that is most sustainable for you. Don’t choose the form of cardio you think is the best, choose the one that is the most sustainable for you long-term that you actually enjoy, and then taper that form of cardio up to whatever you need for your own body composition goals. This is the best entry level approach to cardio that is actually sustainable long-term in my opinion. If you choose to walk on the step mill every day for 30 minutes because you saw some famous bodybuilder doing it and he said that it is the best form of cardio but you find it absolutely mind numbing, what are the chances you will adhere to that form of cardio for more than a couple months? Low.
So, find something you love and make it a habit. For me, that is going for a 10 minute walk after each meal. I eat 3 times per day, so I end up going for 3 small walks per day. This is layered on top of my existing weekly weight training regimen. This is sustainable for me.
Eat lower calorie, higher volume foods, but don’t fall into the trap of only tracking macros. One of the main flaws of many low-calorie diet models is that they will focus almost exclusively on calorie counting, protein intake, but not on micronutrient composition. Expectedly, if you are eating a poor diet at maintenance calories, that diet will leave you even more nutrient deficient once you dip into a calorie deficit to get leaner.
The approach to cutting in the past handful of years has transitioned away from the cookie cutter chicken broccoli and rice diet (also a bad diet strategy), and has seemingly transitioned into a diet model comprised of food that isn’t actually food. Keto bombs, protein cookies that are masqueraded as “healthy” cookies, artificial sweetener laden foods that never go bad. This is the kind of stuff people are designing the majority of their cutting diets around nowadays, and as long as it fits their allocated calorie and protein goal for the day, they think they are eating a healthy diet.
While these foods may be ok in moderation if they are absolutely critical to ensure that you adhere to your calorie deficit, it should go without saying that you would be healthier if you were able to adhere to a diet comprised mainly of micronutrient dense whole foods. Instead of using a calorie counting app, start using the app Cronometer so you can see how vitamin and mineral rich your diet is, rather than just how many grams of protein you are eating.
If you have holes in your diet, try and plug them up by finding alternative foods that are more micronutrient dense so that you can support physiologic functions that will actually enhance your ability to retain more muscle in a deficit, consequently allowing you to expend more calories and maintain a healthier and leaner body composition long-term.
Getting a stranglehold over your cravings will be the main key to your success. I have developed a concrete routine over the years that is sustainable and nips my cravings in the bud. Once I start to notice substantial cravings that are literally distracting me on a daily basis, I start to incorporate intermittent fasting. It is basically a form of dieting where you don’t eat for an extended period of the day (hence “fasting”) and then you have a set window of time later in the day to eat your allotted calories for the day.
When I wake up, I’m barely hungry, and on the odd chance that I am, it is nothing compared to the cravings I had at nighttime the previous night (the most notorious time for binging). I could go to bed hungry and wake up not hungry. This might not be the case for you, but that’s how it is for many others as well.
The main premise behind pushing your eating window back as far into the day as possible is to completely offset that feeling you will inevitably get on a low-calorie diet where you are craving food like a madman. If you eat a carb dense meal, your insulin will spike. Once my insulin spikes, I know that my diet just became infinitely harder to adhere to. Insulin lowers blood sugar, but also drives appetite. The more aggressively you spike your blood sugar (and consequently your insulin levels,) the more likely it is that your brain will start craving food after your meal is done, even if a few hours ago you didn’t even want to eat. This is why Keto diets are so effective, as they mitigate this wild fluctuation in glucose and insulin levels. I don’t follow a Keto diet right now, so for me intermittent fasting and deploying appetite control strategies are my bread and butter.
One strategy I often use is drinking sparkling water. The carbonation seems to encourage satiety, even if it is calorie-free. I ride this out throughout the morning until I start feeling my hunger creep up, and at that point if I want to push my eating window off even further, I will make myself a coffee. A zero calorie one to be more specific. I sweeten mine with Stevia. With intermittent fasting, carbonated water and coffee, I can push my eating window back to 8 hours after I wake up with relative ease, which then leaves me with an 8 hour window to fit my daily meals into.
By the time I get to the second half of the day, I’ve plowed through so much time without eating calories that I get far more flexibility with my meals during my eating window. This not only allows me to eat micronutrient dense meals that hit my health goals, but those meals that otherwise may not be satiating in little tiny morsels I actually find satiating because the volume of each meal is much bigger when I cram my eating window into the last 50% of the day.
Not everyone will like this strategy, but for me it has been a game changer. When I eat, I want to actually eat a substantial portion size, rather than separate tiny little pieces of meat into 6 meals in the day during a steep calorie deficit. This strategy allows me to get away with eating only 2-3 fairly large meals per day, feel full after eating them, and still adhere to my calorie allotment while simultaneously hitting my macro and micronutrient goals. Most importantly, I find this diet model sustainable, whereas eating tiny portions 6 times per day I never did find sustainable.
Health and Performance as Life’s Top Priorities
Derek has built a very popular men’s self-improvement platform. He has described his extreme self-improvement journey several times throughout the years, and at the top of the priority list was always health and performance.
“You cannot perform at a high level if your diet and lifestyle are not dialed in, regardless of how gifted you are,” he explains.
“Nutrition, sleep hygiene, exercise, these are some of the main factors that will determine if you are successful, healthy and happy in life, but it is rare that someone has all of them on point for a long period of time.”
Derek offers his advice on his YouTube channel and other social media platforms.
He has also expanded his interests into a couple entrepreneurial endeavors. The most notable being his supplement company he launched at the end of 2017 Gorilla Mind, and his hormone replacement therapy clinic Marek Health.
At present, he has over 300 thousand YouTube subscribers and over 70 million views.
He hopes to grow a much bigger following and educate on a much bigger scale about health and performance.