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Question and Answer Session with Derek Shannon: The Nutrition Renegade

  Nov 21st, 2012

Derek Shannon - The Nutrition RenegadeToday we have a special treat, courtesy of fellow nutritionist, trainer and personal friend of mine, Derek Shannon.


A couple of weeks ago I approached Derek, who’s also known as “The Nutrition Renegade”, and asked if he would be kind enough to answer a few nutrition-related questions for my followers.


Derek is a true standup guy with a heart for helping others live fit by freely sharing his extensive nutritional knowledge. So, it came as little surprise that he gladly obliged.


Without wasting any more time, let’s get right into the interview where I picked Derek’s brain.


Craig Leonard (CL): What’s goin’ on Derek? It’s great to talk to you and thanks again for agreeing to do this interview.


Derek Shannon (DS): You bet Craig. It’s my pleasure.


CL: Alright. We have several questions to get to, and I don’t want to take up too much of your time, so let’s get right to it. If you wouldn’t mind, why don’t you start off by sharing a little about yourself and what drove you to become so passionate about fitness and nutrition.


DS: I’d love to, Craig. I’ll try to keep this short, but I’m going to start from the beginning: way back in 1988.


In 1988 it was cold and snowy here in Canada when I had what would be my final Christmas with my Dad. I was only 16 and he was just 42.


Interestingly enough, this is the same year I had begged and pleaded for a weight set.


Under the Christmas tree was a box just long enough to possibly hold a weight set, and man was it heavy. Needless to say, I was very excited to open it. I frantically peeled off the wrapping paper and dug into the box. I could already feel my biceps growing at the thought of pumping iron.


I opened the box and looked in. There was definitely a weight set in there, albeit not quite what I was expecting. There in the box was a broom handle and two plastic pails filled with rocks. My Dad was sitting there with the biggest grin on his face (he loved pranks).


CL: That’s too funny, Derek! I like your father’s sense of humor.


DS: I have to admit that it makes me laugh today, but back then it took ALL the wind out of my sails. I sat there for what seemed like several minutes being rather confused and not quite getting the humor.


My Dad said, “Derek, go down to the basement and you may find what you’re looking for”. So I went down and there was my first weight set and bench. You know the type with the cement weight plates covered in plastic. I was in heaven and there began my love for fitness. Dad must have been up all night setting it up.


CL: It doesn’t get any better than that for a sixteen year old looking to get jacked, huh?


DS: You got that right. But, as it turned out, my Dad had his 3rd heart attack a few days later and wasn’t able to pull through so I lost him very early in life. All due to poor lifestyle choices, excessive stress, and smoking since childhood that led to the hardening of his arteries and took a serious toll on his heart.


Derek ShannonToday, 24 years later, I am a Canadian personal trainer and I currently hold certifications in Personal Training, Pre/Post Natal Specialist Training and Holistic Nutrition (CHN).


I have been extremely fortunate to be able to positively impact over 200 clients and I’m currently working towards my mission of positively impacting 10,000 people in the next 12-18 months, with the hopes that they can avoid the problems my father developed so early in life.


CL: Thank you for sharing your powerful personal story. I’m really sorry to hear about your loss, Derek. It’s awesome that you’re using your experience as motivation to have a positive impact in the lives of others.


DS: Thanks man. It’s much appreciated.


CL: I have several questions I want to get to, so let’s start with one concerning the area of fat storage people struggle with most: belly fat.


What foods would you consider to be absolutely essential for chiseling away unwanted belly fat and why?


DS: That’s a good question. And it’s one that carries with it a lot of misconceptions today.


Every week there seems to be a new diet, gadget or pill that is supposed to be the miracle product for blasting away belly fat.


All of it is B.S. There is no single food, supplement, pill or gadget that will enable you to reach your fat loss goals. In other words, there’s no quick fix or magic elixir. If that’s what you’re looking for, I promise you aren’t going to find it.


CL: Marketers are certainly good at telling our itching ears what they want to hear. But, as my grandpa always said, “if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.” Come to think of it, I actually wrote an article a while back making fun of the gadgets people have fallen for over the years that I think you’d enjoy (you can read it here).


DS: I’m going to throw in a little curve ball here… The number one food or element that my in-house and online clients get wrong is water consumption. Water intake it possibly the MOST IMPORTANT thing to get a handle on when you’re looking to shed fat and get that chiseled or ripped look.


Hydrate Your BodyThis is counter-intuitive, but in order to lose water from the body you need to drink lots of water. Confused??? I know right? So here’s what happens…


When you don’t sufficiently hydrate your body with water it “thinks” it needs to hold onto what it has, giving you that bloated, puffy look. If you’re thirsty you’re already dehydrated.


You should never be thirsty and your urine should be clear, not yellow (TMI, I know).


CL: That’s good info, Derek. I have to admit that I also sometimes forget how important hydration is for fat loss. It can also have a huge impact on our performance.


DS: I’m glad that you mentioned performance because training in a less than hydrated state is guaranteed to sap your strength and level of performance.


When you drink enough water your body functions more efficiently. As it pertains to belly fat, much of what people hold in that area is water weight. So, if they’re not adequately hydrated the problem is magnified.


In short, properly hydrating your body will actually allow you to shed water and lean out because it’ll no longer be in a panic state of dehydration.


If you’re not sure how much water you should be drinking each day, here’s a simple calculation that you can do to make sure you’re getting enough water: if you take your body weight and cut it in half, that will tell you how many ounces of water you need each day to be fully hydrated.


So, a 200lb person should be drinking at least 100 oz. of water each day.


CL: I usually recommend a gallon of water per day, regardless of weight, just to be on the safe side.


Are you ready for the next question?


DS: Shoot brother.


In your experience, what misconceptions surrounding eating or exercising for fat loss are preventing well-meaning men and women from losing fat and developing their ideal physique?


DS: There are many I could list, but I’m going to narrow it down to the two I see more than any other.


The first myth people falsely believe is that eating less always leads to faster weight loss. This is absolutely FALSE!


You actually need to eat more small meals throughout the day to keep your metabolism firing on all cylinders. If you have more than a 3 hour gap your metabolism will slow down hindering fat loss.


CL: I too have always noticed a significant difference in my fat loss results when eating more smaller meals throughout the day, instead of eating the same number of calories with three meals. What else?


Too Many Sit UpsDS: The second myth that drives my crazy is that focusing training on the midsection (sit ups, crunches) will develop six pack abs.


You CANNOT spot reduce fat deposits. So doing hundreds of sit ups won’t do anything to remove stubborn fat from your midsection.


You have to look at your body like an onion. As you peel layers away ALL OVER you get to see what’s underneath. I will tell you a secret… YOU ALREADY HAVE A SIX-PACK.


You just need to peel the onion.


CL: Amen brother! Most people look at you like you’re crazy when you tell them getting a six pack, or toning up in general, requires getting lean more than anything else.


When it comes to spot fat loss, you couldn’t be more correct. I think women more than men are sold the lie of targeted fat loss, but fat comes off the entire body, not specific, targeted locations.


As inconvenient as this is, it’s the truth. The sooner people realize this, the better off they’ll be. Let’s move on to the next question…


What supplements, if any, would you recommend for someone who’s interested in losing body fat as fast as possible and why?


DS: Even though I have an online supplement store I usually only recommend 2 supplements for my clients that are trying to lose weight and change their physique:


  1. A good quality fish oil because having the proper balance of Omega 3’s and 6’s is key to losing fat and many other bodily functions.
  2. A multi-vitamin to replace lost vitamins and minerals from hard training.


CL: As you know, I’m not big on supplements either. People rely on them way too much. The real secret to living lean, fit and ripped is the right combination of training and nutrition. Everything else will pale in comparison.


Next question…


Evidence suggests that testosterone levels in men and women have fallen considerably over the past century, limiting our muscle building potential, and hindering our ability to shed unwanted body fat. What nutritional advice would you suggest to help counter-act this trend?


DS: You know what? I’m 40 and feel like I’m 30! I mostly attribute this to years of intense training and proper eating.


Having said that, there isn’t a whole lot you can eat that will significantly alter your testosterone levels. Obviously a balanced whole food eating plan is paramount, but where you’re really going to keep your test levels up – and even raise them from a lower level – is by training hard, with intensity and getting the proper rest at night. These two things alone can raise your testosterone.


Oh, and I have yet to find a supplement that actually raises it… so don’t fall for the hype.


CL: Without a doubt, sleep is the most underrated weapon in a person’s muscle building and fat loss arsenal. Besides, we could all use an excuse to get more sleep, am I right? 🙂


Listen Derek, I want to thank you so much for taking time out of your busy schedule to let me pick your brain.


By the way, I had a chance to recently check out your Nutrition Renegade 30 Day Fat Loss Blueprint and want you to know that I thought it was a simple, straight-to-the-point resource that would be a benefit to anyone interested in starting their fat loss journey.


Why don’t you take us home by explaining what, in your mind, makes your system unique, what someone who follows your 30 day blueprint can expect, and how they can get started.


Nutrition Renegade 30 Day Fat Loss BlueprintDS: Certainly! You already mentioned the part of my 30 day blueprint that I’m most proud of: how simple it is.


Next, you should know that this is a proven system that has worked with EVERY ONE of my personal training clients. I built this program from my experiences over the last 7 years and my in-house clients spend $1000’s to have me coach them using this exact system.


Now don’t get confused. This is not a “YOU ARE GOING TO LOSE 100 POUNDS IN 7 DAYS!” type of program. This is a REAL program that safely and effectively teaches you to lose up to 15 pounds in 30 days.


Read that last sentence again… It says teaches you… I don’t just tell people what to do. I teach them everything they need to know so they can continue cutting fat as needed after the first 30 days – and most importantly – keep it off for good.


To get started using my 30 day fat loss blueprint, simply go to to sign up and get instant access to the materials. I look forward to continue working towards my goal of inspiring 10,000 men and women to live fit and healthy lives and appreciate you allowing me to share with your followers, Craig.


CL: Anytime Derek. Thanks for your time and I’ll talk to you soon.


— End of Interview —


If you want more excellent nutritional content from Derek, I recommend checking out his blog or his 30 Day Fat Loss Blueprint (click the link to see the transformations of some of Derek’s clients).



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