Good habits for every phase: maintenance, cut or bulk

Some things are worth doing, no matter your goals. I have a couple of good habits for you no matter the phase you're in: maintenance, cut or bulk.

  1. Walking

Physical activity is always a good idea, even if you're already a gym rat. Walking is a low impact type of exercise that has many health benefits:

  • improved blood glucose control and glucose tolerance
  • reduced insulin levels
  • reduced systolic blood pressure
  • enhanced cognition
  • improved mood
  • enhanced fat loss (applicable if you are in a fat loss phase)

The benefits start at about 5k steps per day, and increase when you up your steps to about 15k per day. Not a lot of people walk more than 15k steps per day on average, so there's not enough data to draw conclusions.

The Live Sensibly advice is this: aim to walk a certain amount of steps that is reasonable for your lifestyle. If you are currently very sedentary, put 5k as your aim first and then slowly increase it. Make the challenge just challenging enough for you. I think 10k is a respectable number to get every day. That translates to about 1.5h of activity for most people. That doesn't mean you have to do this walking in one go. Try to get the steps in throughout the day, and it will be much easier to reach.


2. Weigh yourself regularly

On a bulk or cut this is non-negotiable, so this one is more for the people who are maintaining their weight. Keep stepping on the scale on the regular. This way, you can spot a bad trend early and stop it before it gets out of hand. Especially important now that the holidays are around the corner. That tends to be an over-eating time for many people. If you step on the scale, you keep yourself accountable, and I think that is very much an adult thing to do.

3. Drink water

Water is the true grownup drink. Caloric beverages are one of the reasons people gain a lot of weight without them realizing it. Orange juice isn't as healthy as you think, it's about the same as drinking a normal Cola, sugar wise. Eat the orange, drink a glass of water, would be a better choice. Unless you're bulking, I see really no reason to drink calories regularly. Drink black tea or coffee, that's fine, but otherwise: drink mostly water. Aim for about 1.5-2l per day. This is also important for my next good habit suggestion:

4. Eat veggies and fiber

If you eat plenty of fiber, drinking plenty of water is a must for healthy bowel movements. Yes, the scale can go up if you start eating more fiber and drinking more water, but this is not extra fat, so no big deal.

Anyway, if you care about getting your vitamins and minerals, you can't go wrong with eating a nice variety of veggies. Aim for about 300+ gram of veggies per day and switch them up to get different vitamins and minerals.

For fiber, the recommendation is to eat 15 grams of fiber per 1000 kcal you consume. To increase your fiber intake you can eat: whole grains, veggies, fruits, nuts, lentils, chickpeas, beans. Fibers only occur in plant based foods, so go ham on those. Fiber helps with digestion, keeping your gut healthy, lowering cholesterol, controlling blood sugar levels, among other things.

Bonus habits

Eat meals, don't snack

I always advise my clients to only eat meals and stop snacking. Make this your habit and it's much easier to eat well. You can make the meals as big as you need, dictated by the phase you're currently in (cut, bulk, maintenance) and forget about food the rest of the time.

You'll have to decide how many meals you will eat per day and at what times you will eat those. On a training day, I eat 5 meals a day. Breakfast at 10:00, lunch at 12:30, after training meal at 16:00, dinner at 18:30 and pre-bed meal at 21:30. On a non-training day, the after training meal doesn't happen.

I used to be a person who snacked a lot, and I had no idea how much I was eating throughout the day. My meals were smaller, but I had a lot more candy and cookies and whatnot. During the pandemic, I decided to change this and eat only meals. The transition was a bit rough as I had to get used to the set eating times, but now my body is synced up to this rhythm and it's firmly a habit. This does not mean I don't ever snack, but I'm mindful of the times when I do. I'm less hungry overall, and the meals I can eat are huge. If you eat mostly healthy foods, you will be amazed at the amounts of food you can eat! If I crave a cookie, I just close out my meal with a cookie.

Try it out!

Watch your vices

This one is different for everyone. My vices are a certain type of chocolate and a certain type of crisp. I buy them once or twice a year only because if I know they're in the house, I will eat them completely in one sitting. For some things in just gotta protect yourself against them.

But what about things you cannot realistically avoid? For many people, this is alcohol, for example. You will never hear me say: you shall never drink alcohol again. It's the best choice for your health, but if you don't want to go that far, there's another route: moderation.

This can be a big challenge. Can you change the relationship with your vice (whatever it may be) so that you can have it in moderation?

Some people manage to flip a switch and do it, while others require therapy to uncover the real reasons why they are so attracted to that vice in the first place. This is one of the most difficult things to help people with as a nutrition coach, not gonna lie.

If therapy is a bridge too far for you, here's what I advise starting with: reflection. Try to catch your thoughts and emotions as they happen when you are dealing with the vice and write them down. Reflect on what happened and see if you can spot patterns. Then it's a matter of breaking those patterns. It sounds so easy, but it's hard work. You need to be intrinsically motivated to change your behavior, or it's going to be very hard to make lasting change.

But no matter the phase you're in, watching your vices and working on keeping a lid on them is a good idea.

Those were my suggestions for good habits. If you have more suggestions, do let me know! You can always email me at


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