Hi Shelby, could you briefly introduce yourself to our readers?
I’m probably most well known as a nutritionist, and also national-level bodybuilder. I work with tons of athletes, from powerlifters to bodybuilders to figure athletes to average Joes, helping them all dial in their diet and training to reach their goals. My website is www.ShelbyStarnes.com and I can be reached via email at [email protected]
Obviously it’s a very broad question but in general, what is your training approach?
I personally use a very high intensity, moderate to high volume approach. That’s what works for me best right now, given that I’ve been training for many years. For others, a different approach may be best. For example for a beginner, I generally keep volume a little lower and focus more on strength gains.
You’re clearly a strong advocate of the carb cycling approach. Is this something you always use when or do you use a variety of diet protocols depending on your goal?
I use a wide variety of diet styles, depending on the client and situation, but carb cycling is probably what I’m most well known for. It’s a very solid plan and can be modified to fit a lot of different situations.
Aside from writing over at www.shelbystarnes.com what does a typical day for you look like?
I write for T-nation.com, and also answer questions at EliteFTS.com. The bulk of my day is spent answering client emails though, writing diet plans, and reading / researching. Since I’m a competitor as well, I also spend time training, preparing meals, eating, and doing cardio.
What is the worst thing you see people doing? Keep it fitness related
The biggest mistake I see people making is not paying enough attention to nutrition. Without proper diet, you will never reach your full potential in strength or hypertrophy.
Many of out readers are students, it can sometimes prove tough to stick to a bodybuilding type diet with the social pressures that university inflicts. How important do you feel it is to be rigid and strict with food choices in other words can you still include “dirty” food choices like pizza or ice cream in a fat loss diet?
Foods like that don’t have much role in a fat loss diet unless we’re talking about a scheduled cheat meal every now and then to rev the metabolism, refill glycogen stores, and stave off catabolism. Once a week would be the most often I would consume junk like this – more often and you will slow down progress too much.
The issue of alcohol consumption isn’t quite as black and white as it used to be, some even say alcohol has little negative affect on body composition providing that dietary allowances are made (reducing carbs and fat during the day). What is your stance on drinking while dieting?
I personally cut out all alcohol while dieting, and recommend my clients do the same. If someone wants to keep in one glass of red wine per day for health benefits, we can work around that. Generally speaking though, you only get so many calories per day while dieting so you should make sure they come from the most beneficial sources.
How important do you feel individualisation is when dieting? For example, Yusef lost strength fast on a low carb diet, but some others thrive on it.
It’s EXTREMELY important. I’ve worked with hundreds of clients and nobody’s diet ever ends up looking exactly like someone else’s. There is just too much variation between individuals for all of us to fit into the same “diet mold”. Our metabolisms are different, our hormonal profiles are different, our lifestyles are different, etc. This is why I have clients report to me at least weekly – so we can keep a close eye on how they respond to things, and if necessary, adjust to keep them progressing towards their goals.
A skinny/underweight young male approaches you, seeking to gain weight, what kind of approach would you advise to him?
Usually guys like this are under-eating in a big way. They may think they’re eating a lot, because once or twice a day they have a decent sized meal, but they aren’t getting enough overall calories in on an consistent basis. I put them on a diet with plenty of high quality calories from protein, carbs, and fat, with a handful of special tweaks here and there to optimize their results.
Thanks Shelby, been good talking to you.
Shelby Starnes is a national level bodybuilder and top nutritionist and trainer, you can find more of his articles on www.Tnation.com, www.EliteFTS.com and www.ShelbyStarnes.com. Additionally, many of his books are available here