I am currently enrolled in a circuit training gym and just 'leveled up' to level 3 last month (after about half a year of being in level 1-2 sporadically). I have been more consistent now (2-3 times a week) but now I also attend some yoga and body balance classes to accompany my wife.

The current workout consists of 2 days of circuit training. 1 complete circuit is 10 minutes of 20 stations of quick workouts for 30 seconds each. every even numbered station is made of "active rest": jumping jacks, side steps, jumping rope, box hops, skaters, etc. Odd numbered stations focus on different parts of the body: rows, shrugs, kettlebell swings, clean and jerks, and squats.

My basic goal is to lose my tummy and gradually tone my muscles and abs. So far, my muscles are turning out fine, but the tummy isn't going away. I know this is the last part to actually go away but I just want to make sure I'm doing everything right.

So my new plan now is to yoga/body balance class on T/TH/S and then circuit train on W/F or M/W. Question is, how do I maximize the benefits of these workouts through my food intake?

The food context for this workout is: weekday breakfast consists of what I can get a hold on(noodles - not healthy but still looking for other alternatives. oats? sandwiches?) lunch is usually rice with some tuna or chicken. dinner is a chicken sandwich before working out(but then based on the comments it looks like i should postpone it to after working out...its kinda hard to workout hungry though)

Is this diet okay so far?( besides the bad breakfasts). I also usually go hungry throughout the day and would like some suggestions as to how to alleviate this without compromising the workouts. I hope this provides enough information :)

  • Define "eating normally". You need to expend more calories than you consume. "Dieting doesn't help when you're working out"? That's bizarre. Commented Aug 29, 2012 at 12:21
  • "Eating normally" means you don't take any special diet. Do I just stock up on protein and carbs? Do I just stick to greens? Should I alternate? Also sorry for the unclear statement. For clarification I am referring to this article where it says not replenishing after a workout is counterproductive menshealth.com/mhlists/guide-to-protein/…
    – corroded
    Commented Aug 30, 2012 at 2:32
  • 1
    Not eating after a workout is counter-productive, but that's not related to dieting. Eating "normally" is meaningless without context-I don't know what "normal" is, and I know even less what's normal for you. If you want to lose weight efficiently, eat non-processed food, and less calories than you expend. Genetics determines where your excess weight goes-a flat stomach may need time and discipline. I don't know what you're doing for "circuit training", but it sounds like your exercise calorie expenditure isn't particularly high, adjust your diet accordingly. Try something like loseit.com. Commented Aug 30, 2012 at 3:14
  • en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Circuit_training :) Anyway, I'll try loseit.com and see what I can get from it. So basically, i just need to expend more than I eat...but I have to recover what I expended after a workout? that's what was confusing me
    – corroded
    Commented Aug 30, 2012 at 3:41
  • 1
    Circuit training can mean almost anything, it would probably be helpful if you could describe your exact routine. Still, your goals are quite vague (define "tone muscles and abs") so I don't know how much help we'll be.
    – VPeric
    Commented Aug 30, 2012 at 19:40

2 Answers 2


Over emphasis on any one macro nutrient is going to work against you, and it appears you have a big emphasis on carbohydrates. So my answer is not against carbs, but more in keeping everything balanced.

Bottom Line

You have to eat fewer Calories than you burn to lose weight. No amount of carb cycling, ketosis, paleo, or whatever diet is going to work if you are eating more Calories than you burn.


Your circuit training is primarily conditioning related work. This is similar to what Crossfit does for you: you work hard, have a limited measured rest, and go again until the circuit is completed. This is interval training. You have the following benefits:

  • Builds your cardio vascular system
  • Limited strength improvements
  • Burns a lot of calories.

The yoga/body balance is much slower. While it doesn't have the same Calorie burning potential as the circuit training, it does improve your core strength, mobility, and stability.

Food Planning

You should have 3 Calorie targets: your off day, your yoga/body balance day, and your circuit training day. Your off day will have the deepest Caloric deficit, perhaps 20-30% lower than your normal Caloric requirements. Your yoga/body balance will have a slightly lower deficit, perhaps 5-10% lower than normal. The circuit training will have a 5% Caloric surplus, i.e. more than required for maintenance.

Because Caloric deficits can leave your body wanting lots of food, you should focus on foods that leave you full longer. These will be foods that are high in protein and fat. Do make sure you have your vegetables every day--preferably a healthy portion of green vegetables. On the days where you can have more food, increase the carbohydrates--particularly on circuit training days.

The purpose of the Calorie cycling is to match your energy intake with the time you need it. It's also important to not overeat, so play with the exact balance of everything to make it work for you.

Macro Requirements based on your training:

  • Protein: at least 0.5g per pound of body weight. I.e. if you weigh 250lbs, that's 125g of protein.
  • Fat: as much as needed to fill in the balance of Calories for the day
  • Carbs: on circuit training days, as much as 1g per pound but no more. Other days, about 0.5g per pound body weight (or less if you want).

The idea is to ramp up the carbs for when you need them most, and when they cost you the least.

The Calorie goals will do the bulk of the work. The recommended macro suggestions will support your training, and hopefully help you stick with the plan. Sometimes to meet your protein target while minimizing Calories, you will need to supplement with a protein shake. That's OK, but do get the bulk of your Calories through real food.

  • wow thanks for a very detailed and informative answer! I'll have lots of studying to do with regards to the terms but a great answer nonetheless :)
    – corroded
    Commented Sep 11, 2012 at 6:29

Here's something I wrote up for myself a while back...maybe it can help you:


  • increase water intake
  • macronutrients become key
  • increase protein intake
  • figure out strategy, low carb or carb cycling
  • more bites per calorie
  • check progress every 2 weeks
  • eat the same thing every day if the body can take it
  • replace carbs with high-quality fats from nuts, avocadoes, oils
  • add fiber to diet
  • have a protein shake (in water) before dinner

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