Focusing on the process and creating consistency for a lean body with Marc Bubbs

Key Takeaways:

  1. Calories in, calories out. How much weight loss is too much, too soon?
  2. Focus on the process, not the outcome. Clients are always looking for the quick fix, rather than looking at the big picture of their journey.
  3. Be an expert in fundamentals and creating consistency. Mastering the basics as opposed to throwing in or switching up programming every time something “doesn’t work.”
  4. Connect nutrition with emotions. Food is comfort, so we need to change the idea of food being the enemy and connect it with creating a healthy lifestyle.

Podcast Summary

From working with elite athletes to the general population, Dr. Marc Bubbs ND has had the opportunity to work with many people in attaining their goals within fitness. Dr. Bubbs sits down to talk with DTS Fitness Education Director of Education Ben McDonald about achieving consistency in lifestyle and eating habits to get lean (listen to the full podcast here).


“It’s the million-dollar question. I’ve been in the personal training industry for many years and it’s the one question clients will always attack us with – this is what they want typically and they want it as fast as possible,” says Bubbs. “This is where principles and strategies are the main place to start with. Losing weight is pretty simple – it’s calories in and calories out.”

More importantly, if a client is looking to lose weight as fast as possible, context has to be taken into account.

“There are people who you might think have this perfect Instagram life and people might see them a certain way, but everyone is struggling with the same type of inner narrative,” he adds, including elite athletes.

#1) Calories in, calories out

“If you’re someone with 80lbs to lose, losing weight quickly isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Losing lean muscle mass isn’t necessarily a bad thing,” he says.

Scientific research looking at people who lose a lot of weight in the offset have better outcomes in health, including blood glucose control, and reversing or preventing things like pre-diabetes and diabetes.

On the other hand, a client who is trying to lose 10lbs to 12lbs quickly is more likely to see a loss of muscle mass due to a higher calorie deficit.

“The tricky part with muscle mass is that it burns off pretty darn quickly but it takes a while to build up, so it’s not the greatest strategy to try and achieve the leans that you’re after,” explains Bubbs. “The unfortunate thing here is the slow and steady approach here is the way to go. The role of the practitioner, nutritionist or trainer most of the time is to try and get people to think about the long term rather than getting stuck at the four weeks weight loss challenge.”

#2) Focus on the process, not the outcome

People are convinced of quick results in part due to the prevalence of quick transformation challenges within social media and the fitness industry itself, such as 30-day challenges, transformation photos saying results were obtained in a week, or people who have switched from one diet to another and says it works better.

In truth, losing weight quickly can be done, but unfortunately, most people are unable to keep the weight off after a year.

“The tricky part is that people get so focused on the outcome rather than the process,” stresses Bubbs. “You’ll get clients that are stuck at a certain weight and you’ll be wondering, ‘Ok, maybe we need to try this diet or that diet and try to change strategies.’”

Sometimes it comes down to the simplest conclusions and looking back on what they’re actually eating throughout the day, from the additional tablespoon of sugar or second croissant.

“People tend to miss these habits that they’ve built-in and if you can build these things in and change them, you’re in a much better place to achieve your goals in the long run, versus people who are using the shotgun approach,” he says. “You never get to sink your teeth into the problem of why it’s not working and how to overcome it.”

Bubbs likens the shotgun approach to when trainers or clients switch from program to program or diet to diet after not seeing results within four weeks.

Create a process with clients, evaluate what works and what doesn’t work, and get them to think big picture when it comes to their goals.

“It’s human nature to look forward and always wanting to achieve more,” says Bubbs. “The irony is that no matter what level you’re at, there’s a person who is always trying to achieve more. It’s that same mindset, no matter if you’re trying to lose 80lbs or the last three pounds for an elite bodybuilder. When you look back at all the changes you’ve made in the last month, three months, or year, that’s what people can start to appreciate.”

#3) Be an expert in fundamentals and creating consistency

Fundamentals are crucial and the basics are often undersold. In regards to nutrition, Bubbs notes it’s all about making certain behaviours habitual when it comes to weight loss.

“Every time you sit in your car you don’t think about putting on your seatbelt, you just reach over and do it, it’s automatic. The automaticity has been ingrained. It’s not because you’re motivated, it’s not because you’re inspired, it’s because you built a habit and that’s what we’re trying to do for people who have weight loss goals, nutrition-based goals, performance-based goals, etc.,” he says. “Be an expert in your fundamentals and being consistent with your approach and having a plan.”

Creating a weight loss plan with your clients is the backbone of success. Regardless of the aesthetic portion as motivation for clients, the health benefits that come with weight loss are vitally important to living.

Studies show that some chronic conditions such as Type-II diabetes can be reversed or prevented with losing weight.

“If we could get people to lose weight, 90% of all these conditions just go away. If we can lose weight we can get better blood pressure control, we can get hypertension to go down, lower risk of heart disease and all these sorts of things,” says Bubbs. “So having a plan is a crucial part to this. If you’re trying to lose weight, the nice side benefit is all these health benefits that go along with it.”

However, between creating a caloric deficit and increasing energy expenditure, some people may need more exercise and more caloric restriction, while others will require less exercise or less of a caloric deficit. For Bubbs, finding the correct balance for both is the art of the practice.

“There are different challenges to different types of folks. Some people put muscle on really easily and that’s great but all of sudden it’s really hard for them to get leaner,” he says. “Whatever side of the coin you’re on, there’s a price to be paid.”

As a Performance Nutrition Lead for Canada Basketball, Bubbs deals with a lot of basketball players. For them, it’s easy to stay lean, but they have to work their tails off to put some muscle mass on and keep it on.

The key element of what differentiates elite athletes and the general population; however, is consistency and the idea of being consistent.

“The general population often assume elite athletes are always doing the right thing and following these strict regimes and whatnot,” says Bubbs. “The truth is they can eat as terribly as the rest of us. They also struggle with a lot of the same problems the rest of us struggle with. It’s similar problems on all ends of the spectrums and it’s similar interventions.”

Everyone struggles with food, movement, stress, and sleep, regardless of what level of fitness they are currently at.

“That’s where identifying these gaps are important,” he adds. “You’re an elite athlete so you actually need more sleep, maybe that’s the solution for that person to raise the playing field. It might be for the rest of us too if you’re only getting six hours of sleep at night but you’re trying to lose weight and you realize you’re craving all the time and your stress levels are high and whatnot.”

Once clients create a positive mindset regarding their behaviour and lifestyle, they will buy in to creating more efficient habits and see better outcomes with lasting results.

#4) Connect nutrition with emotions

Along with a positive mindset, Bubbs notes it’s all connected to how people can relate to their own emotions, eating habits, and environment amongst other factors.

Working alongside Canada Basketball Coach Peter Jensen and Canada’s basketball team, much of their discussions involve talks about how a lot of decisions that are made are not based on logic. Jensen speaks to the team about how emotions and imagery are the drivers on many decisions in everyday life.

“Imagery is the first language we have, it wasn’t French, it wasn’t English, it was imagery,” explains Bubbs. “Imagery drives emotions and emotions drive behaviour change and that’s often a missing piece because things become so sterile. This goes for elite sports or the rest of us who are just trying to improve our health or lose weight.”

When food is eaten for the sake of being eaten, or there is no emotion attached to the action, nutrition becomes sterile and flavourless. Eating can’t just be about macronutrients and calories.
“It’s time to sit down and connect with people, it’s about family, it’s about a lot of things,” says Bubbs. “If people have been struggling for a while, then for me, that’s something I go to because normally there’s something in that bucket that’s not been addressed.”

By creating a connection with food and emotions, clients can build a community not just with eating, but in the preparation of the food. Sharing food establishes time for clients to detox from daily life and work stress by sitting with friends and family to talk and communicate.

“I do have a lot of clients who enjoy a lot of things during dinner so we do have to watch how far off we go, but the biggest thing I try to emphasize is this monitoring process,” concludes Bubbs. “Be consistent with the monitoring.”

Clients who are able to appreciate the results over a six months or a year period will often see the best results because they don’t get caught up in the scale.

Resources and References from the Podcast

Dr. Marc Bubbs is a licensed Naturopathic Doctor, Performance Nutrition Lead for Canada Basketball Team, Speaker, and former Strength Coach. He is the author of the new book Peak: The new science of athletic performance that is revolutionizing sports – An integrated and personalized approach to health, nutrition, training, recovery and mindset. Marc also hosts the Dr. Bubbs Performance Podcast, connecting listeners with world-leading experts in human performance and health. Dr. Bubbs regularly presents at health, fitness and medical conferences across North America, UK and Europe and consults with a portfolio of professional athletes and teams. He practices in both Toronto, Canada and London, England.


Athlete Evolution:

Dr. Bubbs’ new book: Peak: The New Science of Athletic Performance that is Revolutionizing Sports

Dr. Bubbs Performance Podcast:

Facebook/Twitter: @DrBubbs