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Thread: Avatar Nutrition

  1. #1
    AKA Tony Arkitect FFF's Avatar
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    Avatar Nutrition

    I've been using Avatar Nutrition for a little while now, and I was going to wait until I've made a bit more progress before I did a review BUT I just found out that my pacemaker is causing cardiomyopathy, so I'm sidelined for a little while as more tests are being done and we figure out the solution (which will likely be a different type of PM). Also, Avatar is about to launch their new website and app and are running a referral contest, so it seems like this is a good time to do it.



    What Is Avatar Nutrition?

    Avatar is a nutrition coaching program created by Mark Springer, Katie Coles, and Layne Norton (who is no longer with the company). Avatar utilizes "macro tracking," which means they prescribe you a certain amount of Proteins, Carbs, Fats, fiber and total calories to eat per day. The initial numbers are derived from user input information such as age, height, weight, activity level, physical conditioning, and of course, goal. Each week users weigh-in with both body weight and body fat measurements. If no reliable means of body fat measurement is available to you, the system asks you to input your neck and waist measurements to estimate body fat. Based on how your weight and measurements changed from your last weigh-in, the system adjusts your macros. Essentially Avatar acts as your personal nutrition coach, updating your numbers weekly as you progress.

    How it Works
    The Avatar program uses a proprietary algorithm developed by the founders to make decisions based on your weekly check-ins. Users are also able to adjust their macros in favor of more fats or more carbohydrates depending on their preference, while maintaining total caloric intake. There is also an option to calorie cycle, having higher calories on specific days, and lower calories on others. If this option is selected, total net calories for the week stay the same. Most people use a food tracking app (such as MyFitnessPal or MyMacros+) to track their food. When you do your weekly check-in the system asks you if you've been compliant. Compliance to the system is +/-10%. For example if you have a target of 200g protein, you could eat anywhere between 180-220 grams and still be "compliant." I find this to be quite helpful, although there has been some discussion about them changing compliance to a certain amount of grams rather than a percentage.

    In the situation of non-compliant weeks, the system leaves your macros the same, as it's impossible to tell if your macros are working if you weren't compliant. In that regard it really is up to the user to take the initiative to track their food and be consistent.

    Pros
    First of all, I'd say, the system works. That's a big pro. I started the year at about 313lbs, and cut about 10lbs myself. After that I started working with Avatar, and have cut down as low as 275.6lbs, for a total of 27.4bs/12.4kgs in about 18 weeks. During that time I probably had 3-4 "non-compliant" weeks, which included trips to Grand Rapids for the AO3, and most recently Anaheim for the AO Finals.

    The next pro is that it's relatively cheap. Currently $10/month with no minimum term. I think that may be going up as they are launching a new website, a tracking app, and a workout builder in 2018. But ten bucks a month is really affordable considering most nutrition coaches are some where in the $30-$200/hour range.

    For me, I also really enjoy how simple the system is. Did you eat these numbers? Yes or no. Personally, I don't really feel like I need a coach to talk to about my day or how it lead to emotional eating, or eating disorders, hang-ups, etc.. The algorithm is based on math and science. Nothing more, and for me, that's perfect.


    Cons

    The biggest drawback for me was when I encountered a bit of a "glitch" in the system. When we went to the AO3, I actually did an okay job of hitting my numbers, though not close enough to be considered "compliant." I gained a ton of weight that weekend (about 7lbs I believe), just from the bloat of flying + eating a ton of restaurant food. When I got back, I weighed in with my bloated weight, and selected non-compliant. That week, I was completely spot on with my numbers, and with the all the bloat gone, I easily dropped those 7lbs and returned to my pre-trip weight. But, when I weighed in the following week, the system only looked at my weight from my last check-in which was "non-compliant" instead of looking at my last "complaint" check-in. So the system thought I had "lost" 7lbs, when really, I had just shed all the bloat from my trip and returned to my pre-trip weight. Because my profile was set to the "slow sustainable fat loss" setting, the system said I had lost too much weight since my last check-in, and upped my macros.

    What happened next was I hit those macros, and failed to lose any weight, then on my next check-in, the system brought my macros back down since I didn't lose any weight. In the long run, not a big deal, but it did slow my progress down by a week. To be fair, the system does have a "vacation mode" setting that allows you to take a break from tracking, and then you can either pick up with your old macros, or get completely new ones once you switch off "vacation mode" but that only works if you know ahead of time you're not going to be compliant. I had totally tried to be complaint on my trip to the AO3. Obviously a situation like this is where having a real coach would make a difference.

    The other downside is that it's totally easy to game the system. Of course if you do this, you're not going to make progress, but I'm never surprised at how hard people will work to self-sabotage. How would one game the system? There are a few ways to do this:

    1. Constantly switching your goal in the system (there are various fat-loss, maintenance, bulking, and reverse dieting options)
    2. Saying you're compliant when you're not, or vice versa.


    Avatar Community
    One of their "selling points" is their facebook community. This is a group where people ask questions, post motivational junk, etc...I mostly find it useless and occasionally entertaining. There aren't any Weightlifters in the group that I know of, save for some CrossFitters that will infrequently post videos. A few times I've tried to offer a little advice to some rather cringe-worthy lifting, to which responses have varied from "I have great coaches I don't need any help" to "shut the fuck up fat ass what do you know?"

    There seems to be a pretty good contingent of Powerlifters, and I actually joined an offshoot group for Powerlifters that use Avatar, and that's pretty decent, but the main group is mostly representative of the fitness community at large, which is to say, low level fitness-IQ, and Thirsty/Attention seeking posts. In the end, mostly useless.

    Katie, Mark, and a few other members of their team often do live Q&As, and I have found those to be useful, both for the questions others asked, but also getting some of my own questions asked. They seem right on the cusp of going from a small company to a rather large one, and with that in mind they are still very accessible to their members, which is appreciated.

    Avatar vs. A Nutrition Coach
    As some of you may know, my girlfriend is actually a nutrition coach. You may be wondering why then am I using a service like Avatar? There are a few reasons: One, Katie (my girlfriend) is super busy with paying customers. That means they take precedent over me, so for me it's just easier to just check-in with Avatar every week. The next reason is, I have a pretty good understanding of nutritional science anyway, so I don't need a lot of the education coach would (or should) give you. And lastly, it was too easy for me to bargain with her about my macros. Working with family is never easy, and this situation is no different. Avatar doesn't care about my excuses.

    I think working with a person is very important for a lot of people. I understand I'm posting this in a forum where we're all athletes, but for those who aren't, nutrition can be a very personal and emotional topic. In that instance, working with a coach is important. For those of us who look at food mostly as a means to an end, Avatar may be a great choice. I also will say, I'm confident in the macros Avatar provided me, as I often checked them against my girlfriend, who I trust completely. Every time I performed this "blind test" the macros that Katie and the Avatar system created were quite close, so it seems the algorithm, for cutting at least, is good.

    Summary

    I've been happy with my experience with Avatar Nutrition overall. During no point of my cut so far have I felt hungry, tired, deprived, etc...I would say my diet consisted of 80% whole foods, and 20% what people consider "junk food." I eat pancakes for breakfast 3-5 days out of the week, as well as poptarts almost daily. I've even set some training PRs along the way.

    The system certainly isn't perfect, and I think if you have access to a good coach, and can afford it, a real coach is probably the preferred option, however it's tough to be the pure value of the system for only $10.

    If you decide you want to give Avatar Nutrition a go, use my personalized referral link, which will get you two weeks free to try it. Please feel free to post any questions below!

    http://invite.Avatarinsiders.com/ref/10963133

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  3. #2
    AKA Tony Arkitect FFF's Avatar
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  5. #3
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    Great article. Congrats on you progress so far.

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    $10 is amazing. I spent most of last year dropping about 45lbs with RP Strength. It worked well for me in terms of the math...but I didn't like the macro breakdowns personally (over the year I learned my body didn't care about carbs as long as my fats were high. RP seems to like higher carb)

    Maybe this would be better for me

  7. #5
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    RP strength is now about 110$ a template isn't it? With no wiggle room for different goals or bodyweights after you've paid?

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    I have to ask one question: why?

    You lost weight yourself, so why do you pay someone to tell you to eat less?

    This whole concept is very alien to me.

  9. #7
    Member deeby's Avatar
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    Congrats on your progress FFF. I like that they include fiber in their macros, since it's so important for gut flora and overall health. I really consider it to be an overlooked essential nutrient -- though it's a nutrient for your gut flora, the flora produce what we benefit from as a by-product.

  10. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by CNL View Post
    RP strength is now about 110$ a template isn't it? With no wiggle room for different goals or bodyweights after you've paid?
    yeah pretty much. You get a template based on bw and goal. I don't know about their mass templates, but for cutting, each template is good for about 15-20lbs depending on how your body reacts. The first time I used it, I went from 234 to 216. Second time 215 to 205, then 205-185. Cruising about 187-190 now and will stay here in the 85s most likely (depending on if this class changes)

    the last time, is when I just figured out the math (calories, macros etc) and substituted fat cals for carb cals because, as the calories dropped, my energy seemed to be coming from fats not carbs. Last few months, I've just been using the formulas but not paying for a new template and just figuring things out on my own. Seems to work.

    BUT...for $10 a month, this seems a better value than RP (cuts took about 2-3 months each, so $50+ per month)
    Last edited by rawfeels; 04-04-2018 at 09:56 AM.

  11. #9
    AKA Tony Arkitect FFF's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by erpel View Post
    I have to ask one question: why?

    You lost weight yourself, so why do you pay someone to tell you to eat less?

    This whole concept is very alien to me.


    The goal isn't necessarily to lose weight arbitrarily, but to lose body fat specifically, while maintaining as much muscle mass as possible. I think I've done a decent job of doing that. In order to do that you need to eat as many calories as possible, but also eat the right amounts/ratios of macronutrients. The algorithm that Avatar has developed is based on up to date research, and was designed by nutritional scientists and registered dietitians. For me it was nice to have those automated guidelines without having to adjust my macros myself as my body weight and activity levels fluctuated. It's not as if my calories and macros were static over the last 15 months.

    I started my cut at 3,300 cals/day. Right now I'm at about 2,150. The decrease was gradual, all managed by the Avatar system.

    If you can do it on your own, more power to you. I don't think Avatar, or a coach is necessary, but it did make my life a lot easier, and $10/month is a very small investment in one's health.

  12. #10
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    Tony, great that you lost so much weight. I wish you all the best for your health!

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