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Vinnie Tortorich is the author of the book Fitness Confidential – adventures in the weight loss game. *Quick heads up, the book does contain adult language and content.
He is the go to guy for celebrities and athletes who need to get fit fast. He hosts the Angriest Trainer Podcast and is an ultra-endurance cyclist. He has also battled Leukemia, a struggle he chronicles in the book.
Vinnie calls himself America’s angriest trainer but he’s actually a really nice guy. As a personal trainer he doesn’t scream “feel the burn!” when making his clients do push ups. He says that’s only what made-for-T.V. trainers do.
He is angry because of the misinformation that exists in the fitness industry -an industry he’s been working in since the 80s. Vinnie’s contention is that the calorie in calorie out weight loss model is a bunch of bull.
“Your good intentions have been stolen, and I’m here to help you get ’em back!”
The book opens with a situation where movie execs from Disney need him to take 35 pounds off an actress in six weeks.
When you see an actress on the red carpet and you know she just had a baby three weeks ago but she looks fabulous; she either has me or someone like me working with her. -Vinnie Tortorich
He will be the first to tell you that these celebrities types are not genetically perfect. What works for them will work for us. The secret sauce of Fitness Confidential is called NSNG (no sugars no grains).
No Sugars No Grains
Vinnie never puts his clients on a diet. He doesn’t believe in counting calories or portion control. His simple rule is to cut out all sugars and grains. He claims that if you simply stay away from sugar and grains the weight will come flying off.
He contends that the obesity in the U.S. is due in large part to our government subsidizing grain. Grain is the base of the USDA food pyramid. Vinnie calls it a food “pryamid scheme”.
When he says cut out all grains he’s talking about wheat, corn, rice, and every food product derived from these sources -like bread, pasta, cereal, crackers, chips, and the list could go on indefinitely. Everything fun.
He also has no mercy on sugar. Sugary drinks, sugary snacks, sugary cereal, and *gasp* sugary energy bars, gels, and chews. Most endurance fueling products get axed at this juncture.
Well, what can we eat? -Vegetables, fruits, nuts, fish, beef, pork, chicken, and dairy. Still a lot of good stuff here wouldn’t you say? And how much can we eat? As much as we freaking want!
Vinnie also works with athletes -marathoners, cyclists, triathletes. He points out the paradox that people who do high amounts of aerobic exercise (like running) can still be fat. If we are still eating sugars and grains the fat will stay on. If we are fueling with carbohydrates the fat will stay on.
Angie was most curious about Vinnie’s fueling philosophy. If you listen to the podcast you will hear her ask about the process of becoming fat adapted. But since Angie is not writing this blog post, we will turn now to a subject dear to my heart.
One does not simply stop eating tortilla chips. I can give up bread and pasta but corn is my Achilles heel. Vinnie says he eats his guacamole with a spoon. My spoons are made out of corn. I never need to wash them.
I suppose that every person has their one sticking point when they stare down the barrel of a no grains no sugars diet. Angie can’t imagine living without chocolate. The question is, does this food taste as good as skinny feels?
This whole NSNG stuff is a lot to take in. I just started reading Gary Taubes book “Why We Get Fat” to further educate myself. I’ll let the MTA nation know what I learn.
In the mean time . . . what do you think? Has anyone had success with NSNG?
Trevor I completely understand you! Been listening to Vinnie, but my Mexican is a hard stop for me. My spoons are also in the form of tortilla chips. I can reduce my grains everywhere else, but come on lets be real here!
Thanks Andy. I’m glad somebody feels my pain.
Really nice interview ! I’ll buy and read this book for sure.
I’m a running for since year 2000 and in my case, always struggling to lose weight ( for 12 years ) , even training 7 to 8 hours per week ( running ) was not enough.
This year I started eating less processed food, avoiding specially salty and sugary foods, cutting juices ( drinking water ) , no soda , no fast foods and also increasing a lot vegetables, fruits, GRAINS , meat, fish and poultry. I dropped nearly 45 pounds at the same level of training, feeling more energy every day , increasing my pace, sleeping better.
I agree with Vinnie about sport drinking ( Gatorade , Powerade etc.. ) and energy bars or gels ( GU’s , Powerbar etc.. ) , We should avoid this stuff and try more natural options. I’m not sure about no grains, but I’ll investigate.
Angie and Trevor , thank you this amazing job and interview.
Thanks for the comment Marcelo. Dropping 45 pounds is a great accomplishment and testifies to the wisdom of the dietary changes you made. I ran the Tupelo Marathon yesterday and got to noticing how many of us runners are soft around the middle. It seems ironic that people who run so much are still not very lean -including myself. Vinnie might be right, our good intentions have been stolen.
Agree with you on corn chips! Finally found a low-sugar, organic variety (yes, some have sugar)…
I ran all winter, not thinking about grains or sugar. One month ago, I stopped eating past 8 pm, reduced (not removed) grains in exchange for more almonds, etc. Good golly! Higher fat nuts and fewer grains led me to big results in how I look and feel!
MTA had an awesome episode on wheat that caused me to completely cut it out (Ben Greenfield interview)?
I have so much to learn, but the small steps are WORTH IT! Thanks!
Take a look at the things Tim Noakes has been saying about low-carb diets and fueling for endurance athletes. It’s radically different from “The Lore of Running”, but he’s learned a bit since writing that. Vinnie’s “NSNG” is similar to paleo, Wheat Belly and Atkins, so it’s nothing new. I’m a little leery about buying a book containing profanity, though. Too bad; it sounds like something I’d buy for myself and others, otherwise.
I love your podcast. I’d probably by a hat or shirt. A sweatband, fur sure!
We have The Lore of Running book. I’ve heard that Dr. Noakes has since refined his fueling philosophy. I need to check it out.
Profanity? Dude, they’re words – get over it.
Hi folks, these are all great comments. Remember, the idea is to STAY AWAY from sugar and grains. We live in a world full of the stuff and you will not cut them out completely. A great example is the Mexican restaurant. Unless you’re eating there daily, it’s not a problem to have chips once a week. Or something you love like ice cream. It’s the daily habits that become a problem. There is one comment that we end every podcast with and it is also in Fitness Confidential… “PUT LIFE INTO LIVING” Trevor thank you for your review of my book.
Vinnie, thanks for stopping by the blog. I think what you’re saying makes a lot of sense. I will keep listening.
How cool seeing Vinnie comment here 🙂 I listened to this podcast on my way home from work today. Loved it! Ordered your book tonight (Fitness Confidential) and will really try and work out something that will work for me (and hopefully my family) 🙂 Richard – Hereford, UK
I have a hard time believing you can eat “as much as we freaking want”, even if it is all non-processed foods. Nuts and dairy have a lot of calories. I ate this way for a while and never did lose weight (probably due to my addiction to natural peanut butter!). I’ve instead started counting calories, but in order to get the most bang for my buck (feel full), I have to eat non-processed foods. Most non-processed foods aren’t calorie dense, so I can eat larger quantities but still stay within my calorie range. I’m not really overweight, I’m just trying to lose about 10 lbs after having a baby. That last 10 lbs is tough! But it is coming off slowly but surely using the counting calorie method (plus lots of exercise). I don’t feel deprived, just keeping myself in check.
I DID enjoy the interview, though. There was lots of great information shared and as always, it was entertaining.
You’re right we shouldn’t eat as much as we want. When I said that I was going for dramatic effect. We obviously can’t be stuffing ourselves even if we stay away from sugars and grains. I believe in portion control. The point is, Vinnie doesn’t put his clients on a calorie counting diet. This is what I found interesting. But if counting calories works for you . . do it. Thanks for the comment!
We cut out refined sugar and flour and most grains, but not all garins… we are only eating sprouted varieties (and YES, we still eat occasional organic corn chips!), greatly increased our fruits and veggies… However, we have adopted more of a plant based diet (with occasional brown rice sushi or salmon, and the half n half in my coffee… can’t give it up!!) because that works for us… We eat nothing artificial or processed… only “good” fats and oils, nuts, legumes, only sweetener we use is raw honey or raw agave…We also drink more water than we used to, in fact, only water (and brewed coffee or tea in the a.m.) My husband lost 52 lbs and I lost 30 lbs. We are stronger and faster than ever with more energy than we had in our 20s (we are both 48)!! It is unbelievable. I was a sugar addict and didn’t even know it because it is in so many foods on the grocery shelves, almost everything really, hidden under several other names and listed several times in the same paragraph of ingredients! ANGIE, I do like my dark chocolate for a special treat…lol I no longer think about calories at all and I eat much more.
Great to hear about your dietary changes and the resulting weight loss. Thanks for giving us hope.
Great podcast. I bought the book and read it in a day. One question I didn’t see answered: are potatoes allowed under the NSNG plan?
No potatoes would not be allowed (according to Angie).
I love my hash browns.
I have been listening to MTA and Vinnie & Anna’s podcasts for going on 2 years. Both have remained my favorites. Great information and I really enjoy MTA delivery (you guys seem so genuine in wanting to help us achieve our goals). I can’t totally do without sugar or grains, but have cut back a lot, enough to notice changes in body composition. Get the packaged processed stuff out of your diet and that is huge!
Keep up your awesome podcast!
So drinking raw orange juice, that I juiced at home is bad for me?
Pretty much 🙁
The question you need to ask yourself is . . . “how many oranges are you drinking in that glass of juice?” Does your body need that flood of fructose?
Based on my own testing I confirm the effectiveness of NSNG.
I started running in 2006, after 26 years of “booz, sex & drugs & rock’n roll”. Needless to say that this revolutionised my whole life.
I didn’t lose that much weight though, from 92kg for 1,88m I just dropped to 87kg and still kept the belly-fat.
Today I usually eat some grains, once or twice a week a dish of pasta or rice. No bread though. And as part of my breakfast, with lots of nuts and seeds, I still eat 4 table spoons of oats.
But notwithstanding that I still eat some grains, since I completely cut ALL refined sugars, I lost 9kg in less than 6months. And more important (for my ego at least) the belly fat finally started to reduce! (fortunately, as a chocolate addict, I found black chocolate with Stevia instead of sugar).
In the months before a marathon or ultra, I only keep the oats in the morning and I cut whatever other grains. I increase the fat from nuts, fish and vegetables like avocado’s and keep the high amount of fruit and vegetables as usual.
Question for Trevor or Vince:
As I heard somewhere that Oats contain a lot of protein compared to other grains and as they behave in a different way during digestion, can Oats be considered an exception to the “No Grains” rule, or should it also be banned?
NB: as I’m from Belgium on the other side of the pond where we use metric and kilo’s, sorry for the confusion.
Hi Rik! Thank you for sharing how running and better nutrition has changed your life.
I haven’t heard of oats being an exception but I’m not a NSNG expert. There is a very active NSNG facebook group here:
Good post guys!