A Body Transformation is 90% Training NOT 90% Diet!


It’s tough to win at any task when you find yourself in a battle with yourself. The food you eat is very personal and if you battle through hunger or if your body craves something that’s missing, you will suffer needlessly. And then you’ll stop and eat what you want.

But having said that, when it comes to fitness programs the diet versus exercise debate has raged for decades and the traditionally accepted view is that “It’s 90% diet.”

How many times have you heard this arbitrary percentage attributed to the contribution of dietary factors in creating physical change in people, without the slightest basis in unequivocal fact?

A quick explanation on this by A12 Creator Paul McIlroy:

“It’s 90% Diet” – Said every Personal Trainer Ever since the dawn of time to present day.

Personally I’ve heard it a lot…and I’m sick of it!

I’ve got a new one for you:

“It’s 90% Training” – Paul McIlroy, 2021.

Is THIS a true statement, no, probably not. It’s highly unlikely that with zero controlled research I could possibly come to such a definite conclusion (and such a neat little round number as well, that’s a shame). But what I can say with certainty is this:

“Training is way more important to the outcome of a body transformation program than diet is”.

Let me be clear before going any further, this is not an opinion, this is a fact, and even if you don’t agree with me yet, you will before you’re finished reading this.

First of all I’d like to draw everyone’s attention to the fact that what’s in question is the relative contribution of training and diet towards the outcome of a body transformation, not the outcome of a bodybuilding contest.  Although those two things are closely linked and very similar, they are also drastically different in all the ways that matter with regards to justifying the above statement.

You see, the ever recurring statement that “it’s 90% diet” was born SOLELY from what makes the main difference to the outcome of a bodybuilders pre-contest phase and subsequent competition placing. But that’s NOT a body transformation! Well, it’s a transformation of sorts in that the bodybuilder is dramatically lowering their fat levels in a set period of time, but significant new muscle is not being built and in fact is often lost during this process and strength often wanes significantly during this period as well.

Those are not the characteristics of a body transformation, at least not a good transformation. It’s not merely about getting lean, the transformation should be holistic and those that come out the other end should feel amazing and full of energy and strength!  Not end up barely able to think straight due to extreme deprivation/dehydration, as is often the case with a pre-contest bodybuilder in the last few days preceding the show. The key difference between a bodybuilder preparing for a contest and most body transformations carried out on the general public is the competitive bodybuilder has been training for years, maybe decades, the house is already built, the pre-contest diet at this stage merely acts as interior decorators coming in to put the superficial finishing touches on the outcome after all the heavy lifting has already been done.

This is not the same as the situation the typical client of a body transformation program finds themselves in pre-program.  Oftentimes they can be in really bad starting condition with lots of fat to lose and no significant muscle on their frame. Or they have low fat and hardly any muscle either. Hey, even intermediate level gym goers who have some lifting experience and advanced lifters who are well developed still come to the A12 program expecting to see some serious muscle and strength gains to compliment the fat loss that they also expect from the program (as they should). So the typical bodybuilding pre-contest preparation is inadequate for this. Instead, it requires optimal programming and the training gains that follows from that.

With all that in mind it’s about time I made you a believer in my statement once and for all! But first, let’s remind ourselves of the statement:

“Training is WAY more important to the outcome of a body transformation program than diet is”.

Well first of all the only true way to test something is to isolate it, control as many of the other variables as possible, do the same for whatever else is being tested and see what does the job better.

So, allow me to pose to you a fictitious scenario. Person A lives in one Universe, Person B is exactly the same as Person A in every way and so is their lives and everything in it, but they live in a parallel Universe where the only difference between the two are what’s about to happen over the next 12 weeks.

Person A will engage in zero physical training over the next 12 weeks but they will eat an utterly optimised diet with fat loss and muscle growth as its goal.

Person B will eat their normal diet (which is halfway between great and terrible, like most people), but they will engage in an utterly optimised concurrent training program that involves aerobic & anaerobic conditioning plus a progressive resistance training program, with fat loss and muscle growth as its goal as well.

Pop Quiz Time!

At the end of 12 weeks who has more muscle, A or B?

At the end of 12 weeks who has more strength, A or B?

At the end of 12 weeks who is in better cardiovascular condition, A or B?

At the end of 12 weeks who is more confident, A or B?

At the end of 12 weeks who is harder to kill and generally a more useful human being, A or B?

At the end of 12 weeks who is holistically more ‘transformed’, A or B?

The answer to all of the above is resoundingly B, i.e. the training guy and not the diet alone guy!

Now think closely about this next one. At the end of 12 weeks who is leaner, A or B? Well that could go either way, but there won’t be much in it either way, and at this point I’d argue…whio cares.

I’d much rather be B any day of the week regardless.

Checkmate (drops mic).

But having said all that here’s the clincher, are you ready (drum roll)…It doesn’t have to be a choice

Nutrition is crucial…and it doesn’t have to be a battle between the two. In fact, it’s important that it’s not. The last thing you want is to leave any weapons at home when there’s a war to be won, diet and exercise are strong allies in the fight against a common enemy and without doubt work best together.  Whatever the actual percentage breakdown of priority between diet and exercise for body transformations is largely irrelevant, maximise both, get after it, and never look back!

With the A12 we show you how to optimize nutrition to avoid a battle with yourself and to get the transformations needed. But whichever dietary approach you choose to take, just remember that intelligent and optimally progressive training is critical to the outcome. You can starve yourself to a six-pack, but you can’t starve yourself to bigger muscles and huge gains in strength and fitness. A true body transformation should reflect that fact.

Stay Strong,

Paul McIlroy”.