Late last year I had the privilege of working with Brad Gouthro of Brad Gouthro Fitness in Bedford, just outside of Halifax, NS.
We both have an interest in fitness(Brad moreso than I, of course) and had spoke of shooting together. Luckily he just published a new book, Release The Abs Within, and needed some new shots of what else?
Enter Michael Carty Photography.
We had a great time(see this in a past post), and I realized that it would be really informative for those readers out there to glean some insight into the healthier nutrition/fitness aspect of modeling from a pro at it all.
So below is an interview I had with Brad, and I can guarantee that more than just models can appreciate the advice he dishes out like so much sweet, chocolate ice cream... oh crap, well anyways here it is - enjoy!!
Michael: Hey Brad, I'm glad we get to work together again even if we're not shooting. I'll get right to the questions here. Some of the biggest issues that I have heard from my models relate to nutrition, toning and healthy complexion. They want to be healthy and not hungry, they want to be thin but toned and they want clear and healthy skin. What would be your best basic advice towards these issues?
Brad: Every time I'm out with friends or family they are shocked at how much food I eat. How can I get away with this and still maintain a lean physique?
Well, first of all I'm busting my ass in the gym for an hour every day. The majority of your workouts should be focused on lifting weights and not just cardio.
Ladies…please lift weights to get lean, toned and sexy. Excessive cardio is doing you more harm than good! But that one hour in the gym doesn't give you the ability to eat anything you want at anytime.
In my book, Awaken The Abs Within, I created a simple and easy to implement nutrition principle that I follow everyday. I've branded it the TQT principle. It simply means to eat the right TYPES of food, in the right QUANTITIES, at the right TIMES.
I focus on consuming foods that are natural/unprocessed (contain one ingredient) and high in protein. Foods high in protein not only build lean sexy muscle and burn fat, they also keep you feeling full so you don't crave sugar.
I consume very little (if any) sugary, packaged, or processed foods (I may treat myself one meal a week if I feel like I it). One mistake people often make (especially women) is they focus on counting calories. Ditch the calorie counting and focus on eating 5-6 small balanced meals a day that all contain protein. Your first 3-4 meals can contain carbs, but then cut them out later in the day. By following this meal plan and focusing most of your time in the gym lifting weights, you will stay satiated and will be burning fat all day long due to an increase in your metabolism.
Remember, consuming natural foods is nature's medicine. Eating processed crap (soda, diet soda, crackers, cookies, etc) is foreign to your body's digestive and genetic structure. By putting this crap in your body it creates a metabolic and hormonal mess. This mess causes fat storage, skin problems, etc.
Michael: That's some pretty great advice Brad, I'm very interested(and I'm sure most models are too) in the ability to eat and not be hungry and doing it in a healthy way. Now regarding the low cardio exercise you mentioned, what do people like me who train for half and full marathons do? We obviously need to get in a good amount of cardio, right?
Brad: Yes, you're right - if you're training for something sport specific…then yes…you should be focusing more time on movements/exercises that are functional to your goals (in this case endurance training).
However, if you're a model and are just looking to get or stay "lean and sexy", then your specific/functional training should be focused on building lean muscle and burning body fat which lifting weights does. EXCESSIVE cardio (hours everyday) is not the functional way to build a lean and sexy look.
When it comes to cardio, I always put it this way: if you're training specifically for physique…which athlete do you want to look more like…a 100 meter sprinter (lean, toned and ripped) or a marathon runner (skinnier with less muscle tone)?
I'm not saying one is better than the other…but for my physique goals (and probably most models), it's to look more like a 100m sprinter. This is why I focus on high intensity interval training (HIIT) via quick intense sprints followed by low intensity cool down intervals.
Michael: Having a history of modeling yourself, I'm sure that you have a preshoot plan when a job is coming up. What would you advise other models out there to do in preparation of a shoot to help them look their best?
Brad: If it's a athletic/fitness shoot, I assume you must already be in pretty decent shape. But there is a way to manipulate your body even more to look as lean and ripped as possible. I'm talking about getting rid of most of the water that is stored between your muscles and skin. If you do this correctly, you can really achieve the "photoshoot ripped effect" where your skin is literally sucked against your muscles, which shows all your cuts and striations. I blogged about my 7 day preparation plan in detail on my website: http://www.bradgouthro.com.
However, everyone's bodies are different. I've found my body reacts best to water loading for the first 3-4 days (8 liters a day) and essentially cutting out all carbs (except veggies) for all 7 days before the shot. My calories drop a little bit, but not a lot, since I replace a lot of the lost calories from carbs with healthy forms of fat and a little more protein. Three days before the shoot I cut water consumption in half, and steadily decrease it everyday until the shoot. This plan hasn't failed me yet!
Of course plenty of sleep is also VERY IMPORTANT!
Michael: What’s your opinion of popular fitness regimens like yoga, zumba and kettlebell workouts?
Brad: To be honest, I'm a fan of anything that gets you moving (unless this includes you running away from the police)!
I am a huge fan of kettlebell workouts though. It's a great way to build muscle and get a cardio workout at the same time. I throw in a kettlebell workout at least once a week to work on any potential muscle imbalances and to keep things fresh and free of the dreaded plateau effect.
I also think everyone should incorporate yoga (especially the fellaz) although I'm pretty slack on this one. It is one of my goals this year to increase flexibility, so I do foresee a lot more yoga in my future.
Zumba…it's good…if you're into that kind of thing. Not my style though. I love to dance, but I love dancing in the club scene. Not at the gym!
The only thing that kind of bugs me is these gimmick infomercial gadgets like the "shake weight" and "ab machines". I say save your money and get your sweat on the old fashioned way.
Michael: You mentioned earlier that your healthy physique is because of –besides a nutritious diet, that you exercise 1 hour a day. Only one hour? I won’t ask IF this is possible because you are obviously living proof, but I will ask HOW this is possible.
Brad: It's very simple. The body grows outside of the gym, not inside. When you're in the gym, you're actually breaking down and tearing apart your muscle cells. It's the rest and recovery that actually allows you to grow.
Proper sleep and recovery is key to a lean physique.
Also, cortisol (the stress hormone) elevates when you train at a high intensity for too long. This hormone eats away at muscle tissue, thus burning muscle and lowering your metabolism. That's the opposite effects that I want to be accomplishing for all my hard work in the gym.
Michael: Well that should make it a lot easier for people with busy lives to squeeze in a workout into their day. My last question comes from a student who wants to know if it is better to eat before or after a workout and which kinds of foods would be best for which times?
Brad: Yeah. Just make sure when you're in the gym, you're making the most of your time. Don't be one of those chronic "texter's" or "gym socialites".
Trust me you look lame.
Now, to your last question. Without a doubt, your post-workout meal is very important regardless of your situation or goals. It should be comprised of a quick absorbing high quality protein source (whey protein powder) and a fast digesting carb source (the one time of day that a quick rush of sugar is good for you).
The reason? Your muscles are like a sponge after a solid workout.
They require an instant surge of protein to help re-build and repair the torn muscles as well as a delivery source and energy to replenish the lost energy from your body (carbs). Carbs act as a delivery source to get the protein to your muscles quickly, and will help re-fuel your muscles to ensure the breaking down of muscle stops and the building of muscle outside the gym commences.
I usually bring a protein shake with me to the gym to drink as soon as I'm done. It usually is comprised of protein powder, banana, natural maple syrup, water, and almond milk all blended together.
Now pre-workout is a little more customized. It depends on you.
I eat a slow digesting complex carb (oats) and protein source 1 hour before the gym to ensure I have energy to work hard.
Try not to go to the gym with a full stomach though. When you work out, all the blood is going to the muscle which will just leave the food sitting in your gut. Some people also work best on an empty stomach (last meal 2-3 before workout).
You have to find what works best for you.
Michael: That's a terrific amount of knowledge that I think a lot of people - not just models, can use to help with their image/health needs and wants. Thanks again for the back and forth with me and congrats on the publication.
Brad: Thanks Michael. Glad to help. If people want all my secrets to living a healthy/lean lifestyle, they should check out my website: http://www.awakentheabswithin.com or my social media sites.
I also really enjoyed working with you and was truly impressed with the photos from our last project. Lets do it again sometime soon!
Michael: Word. Take care buddy.
Did this interview answer your questions or did you have others?
I hope you get a chance to check out Brad's book and site http://www.bradgouthrofitness.com/,
it is full of incredible information for everyone - not just models.
My thanks again to Brad for his participation and to the models that sent me input for my questions - you know who you are...