Diet and Lifting Q&A with Natural Bodybuilder, Eric Helms

April 30, 2021

Back on the podcast today is Eric Helms, PhD. Eric is a research fellow at the Sports Performance Research Institute New Zealand at Auckland University of Technology, pursuing research in training, nutrition and psychology for strength and physique sport. He has a PhD in Strength and Conditioning with a research focus on autoregulating powerlifting, a masters with a research focus on protein and macronutrient manipulation for dieting bodybuilders, a second masters in exercise science and health promotion. Also an athlete, Eric earned pro status as a natural bodybuilder with the Professional Natural Bodybuilding Association in 2011 and is a powerlifter in the International Powerlifting Federation.

Today’s podcast is a Q&A, with Eric fielding questions on some of the best diet and weight lifting strategies. Eric offers an insider’s view on the psychological effects of dieting for competition and also describes some of the most popular non-linear eating strategies and who might benefit from them. He discusses the power of refeeds and diet breaks when it comes to maintaining weight loss, and explains why a flexible approach is more likely to result in long-term success. Eric also addresses the "repetitions in reserve" -based rating of perceived exertion and describes the benefit of using muscle and strength pyramids. 

Here’s the outline of this interview with Eric Helms:


[00:02:00] Eric's home gym essentials.

[00:04:34] Previous NBT Podcast: The Nutrition and Science of Natural Bodybuilding, with Eric Helms.

[00:05:04] Athlete identity: Coping with injury, retirement, not being able to train.

[00:08:45] Diversifying your happiness portfolio.

[00:10:31] Simon Marshall PhD.

[00:13:55] Psychological effects of dieting and being super lean.

[00:18:33] Relative Energy Deficiency of Sport (RED-S); Podcast: How to Identify and Treat Relative Energy Deficiency in Sport (RED-S), with Nicky Keay. 

[00:26:39] Therapists, dietitians as essential resources for bodybuilders.

[00:28:32] Non-linear dieting and it's efficacy.

[00:29:27] Time-restricted feeding, within-week intermittent caloric restriction, alternate-day fasting, 5:2 diet.

[00:30:38] Refeeds, diet breaks.

[00:36:25] Better retention of lean body mass with refeeds; Study: Campbell, Bill I., et al. "Intermittent Energy Restriction Attenuates the Loss of Fat Free Mass in Resistance Trained Individuals. A Randomized Controlled Trial." Journal of Functional Morphology and Kinesiology 5.1 (2020): 19.

[00:39:43] Prescribed breaks do not hamper weight loss efforts; Study: Wing, Rena R., and Robert W. Jeffery. "Prescribed “breaks” as a means to disrupt weight control efforts." Obesity research 11.2 (2003): 287-291.

[00:41:38] Flexible dieting.

[00:44:18] Black and white thinking towards food predicts stress and failure during weight loss; Study: Palascha, Aikaterini, Ellen Van Kleef, and Hans CM van Trijp. "How does thinking in Black and White terms relate to eating behavior and weight regain?." Journal of health psychology 20.5 (2015): 638-648.

[00:47:01] Lifting heavy things: the “repetitions in reserve” -based rating of perceived exertion.

[00:51:03] Exercise oncology; Study: Fairman, Ciaran M., et al. "A scientific rationale to improve resistance training prescription in exercise oncology." Sports Medicine 47.8 (2017): 1457-1465

[00:54:48] Muscle and strength pyramids.

[00:57:18] Books by Eric Helms: The Muscle and Strength Pyramid: Training and The Muscle and Strength Pyramid: Nutrition.

[00:59:09] Best rap album of 2020.


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