Replace Junk Food with Fruits & Veggie’s

Over the past two weeks John Romaniello has shared with us ways to improve our health, fitness, and performance.  Jump back to  part 8, to see how diet contributes to John’s ripped physique.

As we end this expert interview series today, we learn that there are two types of dieters when it comes to fat loss… Rules Dieters and a Freedom Dieters.


Craig Ballantyne: Okay, so your diet is high protein, moderate fat and then lots of fruits and vegetables.  Right?  Are you counting calories?  Are you using your experience –

John Romaniello:  Again, I used to weight my food and did that whole thing.  So now I have it figured out – like if I’m going to start a fat loss diet.  Let’s say I was going to start today. I would figure out how many calories I need, and then I would figure out 10 to 15 meals that I could eat and then I would just rotate them.  But now it’s very instinctual.  I don’t feel that I need to count calories to lose fat now because I’ve been doing it for so long.  Its kind of like when you know how may pounds to bench press. So if you have 225 pounds you can do that first rep, rep number one, and you’ll be able to tell kind of how many reps you’ll be able to do, if you’re able to go up in weight, or if you need to go down.  That first sort of moment gives you enough insight based on your years and years of experience that you’re able to make changes based on that.  Very similar to how I am with diet.

At this point, it’s been 10 years now of bodybuilding and fitness related eating, so it’s not hard for me to have an understanding of what my meals need to look like because I have maintained roughly the same body weight since I’m 23.  When I was 22, I got to my peak of 203 pounds, 7% body fat.  And then after that I shrunk a little bit and I’ve maintained anywhere between 188 and 195 pounds, at anywhere between 5 for photo shoots and as high as 12 when I’m a fat ass.  But even that isn’t a huge range, 7 pounds of fat, one way or the other.  It just depends on the quality of food that you’re eating, not really the quality, the quality of the food and the quality of the exercise.

Craig Ballantyne: All right, and then one other things.  Do you find that fruits and vegetables are an easy, easy place to improve your clients when they come in?  And what do you recommend and tell them?

John Romaniello: First thing is that I just try to get people to – when they write everything down, I just let everyone kind of look at their food log.  And I’m like, “All right.  Well, I need you to pick out five things you know that you’re doing wrong.”  And most people are able to do that pretty quickly.  They look at it, “I definitely shouldn’t have eaten that,” or “I didn’t need to eat that bagel.”

So most people feel like they like hand held foods when they’re in a rush, so they go for bagels and pop tarts and things like that.  So if you can just get them to ditch that crap and add in fruits.  A lot of times people get so crazy.  They’re like, “Oh, an apple.  It’s got 25 grams of carbs in it.”  I’m like, “All right, but the bagel you were eating had 75, so we’ve still made progress.”

So yeah, it’s just replacing crap a food with fruits is usually a good place to start.  And for vegetables it’s a little bit harder because most people need to prepare them and that’s something that they’re not really ready for.  So a lot of times what I’ll tell people to do is I’ll give people recipes for stir frys where they can just make a very low calorie stir fry with chicken or steak.  And then they can buy the pre-sliced vegetables and put that all in the wok or the frying pan together with a little coconut oil, and it will all come up very nice.  So that’s a nice way to start throwing vegetables into your diet, with like a sauté or something like that, rather than having people steam them or grill them because the amount of prep is harder.  But fruits are very, very easy.

Craig Ballantyne: And then what about advanced nutrition changes?  Anything you’ve got to help people to take it to the next level when they’re already doing pretty well?

John Romaniello: Sure.  Fish oil.  This is something that I think in general we’re all now recommending, but I like to give credit where credit is due.  And this is something I take from Christian Thibaudeau.  If you’re trying to lose fat you should be taking one gram of fish oil, or krill oil, per percentage of body fat that you have.  So if you’re 10% body fat, take 10 grams of fish oil.  And sometimes that will mean you’ll have to take up to 20 pills which is very inconvenient.  So I recommend that people pick up a liquid fish oil from like Carlson Labs.  They have a lemon flavored one, which actually isn’t bad.  And again, it doesn’t taste the greatest, but you did this to tequila, and you managed to find your way to drink that for 15 years, so I don’t want to hear it.

So again, just a liquid fish oil.  It’s easier to take slightly higher doses.  As long as you’re getting one gram per percentage point of fat currently on your body you should be able to lose fat relatively quickly and at the same time get all the benefits of fish oil, including joint lubrication and all the other stuff like heart health, good for your hair, your skin, your nails, your teeth, your brain, your eyes.  It’s good for everything.  Fish oil is kind of a panacea.  That would be like an advanced tip that I would give people.

Craig Ballantyne: Very nice.  All right, now let’s hit everyone’s favorite subject, the cheatings of the meals.

John Romaniello: Ooh, the cheat meals.   Okay, what do you want to know?

Craig Ballantyne:  Well, just give us an example of what you do, what you recommend your clients do.  Is it a day, is it a meal, does it differ between where you are in your progress?

John Romaniello:  I think that a lot of people can get away with a cheat meal.  And other people kind of do better with – it depends on what you’re doing.  You can divide dieters into two specific camps.  There are rules dieters and there are freedom dieters.  Rules dieters need very specific rules.  And if they don’t have them, they will completely screw up, and that’s me.  So I know that I can’t eat if I’m dieting.  To lose fat I shouldn’t eat more than 100 grams of carbs a day on the high end.  I need to eat about 300 grams of protein.  And I need to have 100 grams of fat.  And I try not to eat fats and carbs in the same meal because that’s something that I’ve always done because I stole it from John Berardi, and it always worked for me.  Recent evidence has shown that’s really not necessary.  But who cares, I’ve been doing it for 10 years, and it works.

So here’s a scenario.  I talked about this in my blog Cheat Days and Mondays where I talked about the danger of the Monday mindset.  So it’s like I’ll go out to lunch with let’s say Nate Green, another good fit pro.  Now, Nate has never really needed to diet.  He stays pretty lean.  So we’ll go out to lunch, and I’m getting my salad and my grilled chicken and some steamed veggies, or maybe a steak and veggies.

And Nate, he’ll get a beer, and he’ll get whatever, he wants to eat.  He just happens to eat pretty healthy, but maybe he orders a burger and fries.  And then I have one of his fries, and I have two of his fries.  And now I’m just like, “All right, now I’m eating like crap so let me just order my own.”  So maybe this is at noon.  And now it’s like, “Well, the whole day is shot to crap.  Let me just eat whatever, I want for the rest of the day.”  And God forbid this is on a Thursday, then I’m like, “All right, let me just eat whatever, I want for the rest of the week, and then I’ll start off strong again on Monday.”  It’s very dangerous.

So I am what we call a rules dieter.  So I can’t break the rules because once I do it becomes easier and easier to do that.  So a way for me to maintain the integrity of the diet is to know that there’s an end in sight, and if I need it, I can have a cheat day.  And so I like a whole day of cheating.  So I wake up, I work out and I like an entire cheat day, and I find that’s very effective for me.

There are other people who are freedom dieters.  Once you tell them they’re “on a diet” they can’t follow it for anything. They’re not good with prescriptions. They’re better with general recommendations.  And these are people like me, who most of the time they’re going to do the right thing anyway so why should you define it.  You just give him basic recommendations that he needs to fulfill in terms of protein requirements and fat requirements and veggie requirements, and you’ll just expect that the rest will sort of take care of itself.  So a guy like me, if he’s looking to boost fat with a cheat day he can probably get it done in a cheat meal.

So it’s really what you’re doing the rest of the week that determines how effective a cheat day versus a cheat meal will be.  I have to by nature be super, super strict during the week and then have a cheat meal on the weekend – a cheat day rather, on the weekend – a cheat day, not a cheat meal – and then I follow my cheat day with a fasting day as I talked about in my blog, and we cover it in the Xtreme Fat Loss Diet.  So that works very well for me.

Other people, a single cheat meal is better.  And they’ll go out and they’ll get a burger and fries, and they’ll have cheesecake for dessert, and then that’s it.  They can jump right back on the bandwagon, and they don’t feel like they missed out on anything.

So it’s very personality driven. So what I would suggest to the listeners out there is try and put yourself in one of those two categories.  If you are a rules dieter and you feel like you need to be super, super strict in order to make progress give yourself one cheat day once every week or every two weeks and try to follow it up with a fast day where you have very minimal calories and it allows yourself to just start detoxifying.

If you are a freedom dieter and you generally don’t do well with rules, and you do better with basic guidelines then you’ll probably do very well with a cheat meal.  And that will allow you to get the kind of stuff that you’ve been craving without completely jumping out the window.

Craig Ballantyne: Very nice, very nice.  Well, I’m pretty sure I’m out of questions here so I appreciate all the info you’ve given.  Anything else you want to share?

John Romaniello: No.  I appreciate, as always, the opportunity to share with the TT readers.  And I appreciate your co-designing a workout with me.  I had a lot of fun doing that.  And I’m just looking forward to getting Final Phase Fat Loss 2.0 into the hands of everyone who bought Final Phase Fat Loss 1.0.  And for anyone who hasn’t picked up any of my stuff yet, I know that when you do you won’t be disappointed.  So that’s it.  Check out the blog and all the other fun stuff.

Craig Ballantyne:  Awesome.  I really appreciate it, John.  So thank you very much.  And everyone, check out his information at and his blog at , And he’s also on the book of faces, right John?

John Romaniello:

Craig Ballantyne:  All right, awesome.  So thank you very much, everybody, for being on the call.  We will talk to you soon, and wishing you fantastic fat burning.  Bye-bye everyone.