For those of our IIFYM readers that might not be familiar with you, can you please tell us about yourself?
Chris Lavado: Not familiar with me? Impossible. LOL, jk. I’m just a dude with a passion for fitness & a big heart. I care about people. I am a pioneering advocate of the flexible dieting/IIFYM movement.
One of the first dudes who started spreading awareness on the proper methods of fitness & nutrition via YouTube & social media. I have a pretty extensive history as a personal trainer as well, working for a few awesome companies back in my day, & coaching hundreds of people from young kids to old grandparents to professional athletes.
I practice what I preach, & I am a competitive natural bodybuilder. Overall though, I’m just a cool guy—so don’t be afraid to hit me up for help OR simply to chat it up.
IIFYM: How did you get started in natural bodybuilding?
Chris Lavado: I was going down a path of obesity in high school. Decided to try out for football and turn my life around. I took a beating in the weight room, and definitely started from ground zero… but the discipline I learned from football lit a fire that would never be put out…. Not even after 10 years into it now.
IIFYM: How about coaching? What got you into helping others achieve their physique goals?
Chris Lavado: I wish I could look back and give myself advice 10 years ago… from what I know today. Since I can’t go back in time, it’s a perfect opportunity to help the new generation of young lifters with awesome goals.
IIFYM: Do you manage your own contest prep diet or do you have a coach or use our famous IIFYM Macro Calculator to figure out your macros?
Chris Lavado: Always keeping the outside eye on you is CRUCIAL—especially when you are in a state of easy self-gratifying justification like contest prep. I have always put my trust in the hands of coach Alberto Nunez of Team 3DMJ. One of the brightest minds in natural bodybuilding since the beginning of the era.
IIFYM: What role does IIFYM play in your offseason and contest prep diet? Do you keep it clean most of the time or do you allow yourself to indulge?
Chris Lavado: IIFYM has shown me that all foods are OK… no matter if I’m in contest prep OR offseason. It has shown me how to look at food… meaning I see things as numbers, not as ‘good’ or ‘bad’. This allows me to budget for the things I want to eat and never feel deprived.
Contest prep: I keep it to lower calorie foods to allow for more volume. Offseason I am a bit more lenient. I give myself macro ranges… and make sure to get at least 180g protein per day.
My appetite slows down deep in offseason though, which is why I’m extremely thankful for my protein sponsor MyProtein. I slam about 3-4 scoops per day on average. Salted Caramel & Strawberry Cream are my faves! Other than protein and plain creatine monohydrate—I don’t supplement much.
Ensuring enough protein & calories was huge for me… and would have been impossible without my daily MyProtein intake
IIFYM: What about your clients? Do you encourage them to keep it clean most of the time or do you see a benefit in allowing some “cheat” type foods in to help with dieting?
Chris Lavado: As I mentioned above, I don’t see foods as ‘good’ or ‘bad’…. ‘clean’ or ‘unclean’… I just see them as numbers. I like my clients to have the freedom to choose their food for mental sanity and longevity. I do, however, require protocol accuracy & don’t welcome eating in excess. As long as you follow the numbers, we’re good!
IIFYM: I recently watched one of your videos were you talked about taking a number of months off from the gym, and after only 6 weeks of proper lifting and nutrition managed to pack on close to 20 lbs. Can you please tell our readers your thoughts on muscle memory and the roll that proper nutrition plays in it.
Chris Lavado: Oh man. Great question. I’ve been lifting for 9-10 years… and the muscle memory is REAL! Not only did I put on 20lbs (the same 20lbs I lost from not eating/lifting for over half a year)… I actually put the pounds back on and did it with better body composition in the end. As a natural, you will never put on 20lbs of muscle that fast… but if you’ve already had it… it can and WILL come back if you put all puzzle pieces together at once. Ensuring enough protein & calories was huge for me… and would have been impossible without my daily MyProtein intake of around 4 scoops. I would mix these in with milk, fruit, ice cream, spinach.. all in a blender and get them calories easy!
Don’t get me wrong… I could get the same results eating chicken breast all day and lifting, but I do it for convenience & to ease the stress on my low appetite. Without eating sufficient calories, protein, & progressing on all my lifts with high-frequency training in the gym… these drastic results wouldn’t be possible.
IIFYM: What are your thoughts on refeeds vs. cheat meals?
Chris Lavado: I think cheat meals are a recipe for disaster. I used to do them myself. They present a psychological weakness… and in most cases force you to binge in one way or another. You tell yourself that your diet is too strict.. and that you’re not getting another ‘cheat’ for a while… so you justify eating nonstop until you feel sick. This is NOT a good addition to any plan. A refeed is a calculated increase in calories that provides a much more manageable indulgence. Remember that you’re eating anything you want on all days, even non-refeed days, so you shouldn’t feel the need to ‘cheat’. This is the beauty of flexible dieting/IIFYM.
IIFYM: Let’s talk about macros now.
Chris Lavado: What are your thoughts on protein consumption? Many people subscribe to 1 gram per lb of body weight, while guys like Dr. Joe go closer to .75 grams per lbs of lean mass. What is your take on setting protein for yourself and clients?
I like to provide as many carbs and fats as I can for my clients… because it will provide the best performance in the gym… & the most mental sanity. That being said, I want people to eat as little protein as they realistically can—beyond the minimum recommended amount to preserve/synthesize muscle. I recommend about 0.9g/lb bodyweight for most clients to be on the safe side.
Now, if a client is particular to preferring protein over carbs and fats (rare)… I have no problem with that. It just needs to be understood that protein BEYOND 0.9g/lb bodyweight will serve no added benefit.
I like to provide as many carbs and fats as I can for my clients… because it will provide the best performance in the gym… & the most mental sanity
IIFYM: I remember talking to you a when you stepped on stage in Phoenix, and you were dieting on some pretty low macros. How low can your calories get when you are dieting for a show?
Chris Lavado: I’m one of those unfortunate ones that have to get pretty low in calories when I diet for a show. It all varies from a person to person basis. For me, I believe I’ve gotten as low as 1400-1500 calories for a couple of weeks during prep. I don’t recommend men to go this low in 99% of cases. This was just a necessity for me to bring some serious conditioning on stage.
IIFYM: Let’s talk about reverse dieting and metabolism damage. There are many contest prep coaches that swear by it and many naysayers that hate the concept. What are your thoughts on reverse dieting?
Chris Lavado: I do believe in metabolic damage because it had a big effect on me. I binged after my first competitive season… and aside from gaining weight extremely fast post-show… I endured months and months of zero body composition changes no matter how much or little I ate. It was a drastic mishap… and I even gave myself some digestive issues & had to get a colonoscopy to check for blood in my intestines.
Now, I’m not positive on how much all of this ties together… but I DO assure you that the drastic swing in dieting had an effect. I think any change should be moderate and not drastic. I had a MUCH better experience when easing into my off-season form a serious caloric deficit to caloric maintenance to a slight caloric surplus over a few months.
IIFYM: Tell us about your approach to cardio. Hiit, LISS or both? How often?
Chris Lavado: Mostly MISS. I like to keep a steady pace and just burn calories. HIIT hinders weight training performance so despite it being beneficial for fat loss, I try to keep it at a minimum. I do cardio anywhere between 1-6x week depending on if it’s offseason or deep contest prep.
IIFYM: How much time do you usually like to give your clients to diet down for a show
Chris Lavado: I usually like to tell newcomers to not even look at a show date. We get shredded in a few months… THEN pick a show. For seasoned competitors… I like to allow at least 16 weeks (can go up to 45 weeks) and that’s for people who are already in decent off-season shape.
IIFYM: Do you rely on websites like MacroTracker.com to calculate your macros or can you just eyeball it?
Chris Lavado: I do use Macro trackers to count calories/macros. I have yet to get accustomed to Macro Tracker itself but I will be looking into it J So far it’s been MyFitnessPal.
IIFYM: What supplements do you encourage your clients to take while dieting? What about offseason?
Chris Lavado: On and Offseason are the same to me as far as supplements. I simply recommend two supplements:
MyProtein Impact Whey (Salted Caramel, Strawberry Cream, or Cinnamon Roll)
MyProtein Creatine Monohydrate (Creapure) – Flavorless (to mix with protein) or Berry Blast to drink alone. I recommend 3-5g of creatine a day. No loading, no cycling.
IIFYM: I know you have some big things in the works in your personal and professional life. Care to let some of our readers in on your plans?
Chris Lavado: Well, I just launched my coaching website at www.coachyuck.com. That one is exciting as I’m ready to really help people transform their bodies and reach their goals. I’m not just another social media guy guessing on what to prescribe & copying/pasting cookie-cutter meal plans. I’m a man with experience and a true passion for helping you to become elite. I also have another brand/company in the works. This one is to remain unnamed for now, but please keep up to date by following me on social media (@yuckylavado on IG, youtube.com/yuckylavado, Facebook at Chris Lavado or facebook.com/yuckylavado, & my blog above.
IIFYM: Who are your sponsors and how have they helped you get where you are?
Chris Lavado: Gymshark and MyProtein. Gymshark has been amazing. I started with them as an ambassador when they started their company in the UK a few years back… and now they are making hundreds of millions. They have flown me around the world to represent at fitness expos/trade shows and it has become incredibly popular as a brand and as a movement. I have always shown their brand love and support, and always will as they are my first & strongest sponsor. They reciprocate the love and I just love the guys at Gymshark as if they were my brothers.
MyProtein provides me with the best supplements in the industry. They take care of me as a true ambassador. MyProtein is the only company in Europe to reach Grade AA on their supplement line in regards to quality standards. Not only that… you can get THE BEST prices on protein/supps through www.bit.ly/lavado-myprotein & using code ‘lavado’ at checkout. Don’t believe me? Click that link…. (5.5lbs of protein for ~39-40 dollars)
MyProtein is the only company in Europe to reach Grade AA on their supplement line in regards to quality standards.
IIFYM: These next questions are from our followers on the IIFYM facebook page.
We call this part of the interview “rapid fire” Feel free to be as brief as possible.
-What is your favorite cheat meal?
I don’t ‘cheat’ because I’m a flexible dieter but Lasagna!
-What is the lowest your calories get while dieting?
-What is the most food you have ever consumed in a day?
Probably 10K calories
-How do you “grow into a show”?
Drugs. Or a pre-stage Twix & a solid pump-up sesh if you mean ‘grow’ in a matter of a few minutes. Otherwise, you should be cutting into a show.
-How many hours do you spend in the gym each day?
-Do you follow a periodized program?
Right now, no. Just full body 4x/week.
-Are you a grower or a shower?
Grower, but even then I’m a show-er on regular standards. Srs
-What kind of volume and frequency works best for your body?
Right now, 4x/week full body is working wonders.
-Does your training change when you start dieting for a show?
Not much. Just as I lose energy or strength I might adjust my exercises to avoid injury & maximize my efforts.
-What are your thoughts on Crossfit?
What are your thoughts on Richard Simmons?
-Does Steve Kleva shave his balls?
No. I shave them. srs
-What is your favorite machine or apparatus at the gym
The ‘good girl bad girl’ machine…. AKA the ‘Hello Kitty’
-Who is your favorite workout partner?
My fine woman, Kelsie <3
-What is your favorite flavor of MyOatmeal.com
I once made one called: ‘Pop my cherry in the forest’…. AKA black forest cake. Amazing