The 21-day Accelerated Fat Loss Plan
This is the bonus section that I promised you… In this section, I’m going to show you all of the nitty-gritty details for how I went from 10.2% body fat to 6.9% body fat in only 21 days, while I was preparing for a photo shoot recently. Now keep in mind that the techniques in this section are NOT for everyone! You really need to be disciplined and these methods are ONLY to be used for 3-4 weeks MAX, and only on occasion when you really need to accelerate your fat-burning to get ready for an event of some sort… maybe a wedding or beach vacation, or whatever it may be. This is a perfectly healthy method of “peaking” as bodybuilders and fitness models often call it. After all, you can’t train with 100% intensity all year, and you can’t diet at the strictest levels for 100% of the year either. But working towards a level of “peak condition” is something that is actually a pretty fun goal to work towards once or twice a year.
There is nothing overly “extreme” or “dangerous” about any of these techniques… they are still very healthy eating habits (but just “amped up” a bit), and I didn’t use any stimulant-based dangerous fat burner pills at all. Everything I did during this 23-day fat-burning blast was a mostly natural whole foods, a few natural supplements, and a few other tricks here and there with spices, teas, etc… along with a strategic training program that was elevated slightly above my normal training levels.
Now keep in mind as we go through some of these choices and methods that some of them may seem like very “minor details”… and one of the things I preach all of the time is the big picture. However, in this case, when you combine dozens of these minor details all together at the same time, you can create a pretty powerful fat loss environment in your body, while maintaining lean muscle.
Also, as you read through this, you might think that some of these methods are just going way beyond anal-retentive… As a matter of fact, if you tried to do all of these techniques year-round, people might think you’re mentally insane. But again, this was only a 23-day blast in order to reach a goal of mine VERY quickly. You can do anything you put your mind to that only lasts 23 days… it’s actually quite easy.
The reason I was so strict during these 23 days was because of the goal I had set that I was going to do anything it took to reach. I would never do even half of these things on a regular basis as it would make me go crazy. In fact, I’ve learned how to balance my fitness lifestyle over the years with still having a great social life and being able to go out drinking with friends, eating whatever I want at barbecues or parties on occasion, yet still staying at about 8-10% body fat year-round. With this time period though, my goal was to get down to or below 7% body fat, so that’s why everything had to be perfect during these 23 days.
I ended up at 6.9% body fat (down from 10.2% body fat) while also maintaining all of my lean muscle during this 23-day cutting cycle! It was fun to actually be working hard towards a specific goal for a few weeks… this alone was quite a motivating factor compared to just “maintaining”. Now let’s get into some of the details!
Priorities during this 3-4 week accelerated fat-burning stage:
- Maintaining your lean muscle to keep your metabolic rate high. Since you’ll need to slightly restrict calories, you risk the chance of losing lean muscle during this stage, and that can reduce your metabolic rate, and make fat loss even harder. The top priority is maintaining lean muscle during this stage.
- Enhance the fat-burning environment in your body to stimulate the release of excess stored body fat.
- Maximize your metabolism – all of the minor details are going to be aimed at maximizing your metabolism during this time period. We don’t have a single day to waste if you have a specific time period goal.
- Enhance the thermic effect of calorie burning from the food you eat.
- Reduce stress to minimize negative hormones such as cortisol, and help maximize fat-burning hormones.
- Maximize the amount of deep sleep that you get, as recovery is going to be super-important during this time period since your training levels will be increased a bit.
The Nitty-Gritty Details
The Type of Weight Training Since it is so important to maintain lean muscle mass during a “cutting phase” such as this, the weight training needs to be heavy and intense.
Lightweights and high reps won’t cut it when you’re in a slight calorie deficit and a slight carbohydrate deficit. I’m going to mention certain types of exercises in this section, and you should already know how to do most of these exercises since I’m assuming that you already have a copy of my full Truth about Six Pack Abs program. If there are any exercises you don’t know how to do, it’s all covered in detail in the full. Since you’ll be slightly reducing overall carbohydrate intake during this period, you don’t have the overflowing muscle glycogen at all times to bedoing large amounts of single joint isolation exercises. That would simply be a waste of time. Leave the isolation exercises only to a period of time when you’re trying to gain weight, and even still only include them as a small portion of the overall workouts.
Sticking to heavy multi-joint exercises is key during the cutting phase – deadlifts, squats, lunges, bench presses, overhead presses, pull-ups, and upper body rows will be the types of main exercises to focus on. One-arm snatches, one-arm swings, and barbell or kettlebell clean and presses can also, be great full-body additions to the program for their metabolism- boosting effects and stimulation of fat-burning hormones.
I had great results using a 4-day per week weight training program during this cutting phase. Most of the workouts focused on full-body but with different movement patterns each workout to avoid over-training. For most of the weight training exercises, I focused on a fairly heavyweight and moderate rep range, such as 5×5 (5 sets of 5 reps per set, with the 5th rep being very hard to complete on each set)
For example, I did M-W-F-Sat weight workouts during this cycle, and would split it up something like this:
Monday: Bench/Deadlifts supersets; Romanian deadlifts or power cleans; other chest work; finish workout with 10-minute “abs/HIIT circuit” (this circuit will be explained in a minute)
Wednesday: Squats/pull-ups supersets; lunges or step-ups; other upper back work; 10-min abs/HIIT circuit
Friday: Barbell Clean & Presses supersets with renegade rows; dumbbell pullovers, dumbbell squat and presses; 10-minute abs/HIIT circuit
Saturday: Shorter workout — kettlebell snatches and swings – both 1-arm and 2-arm versions; kettlebell high pulls
M/W/F workouts were about 1-hr each, and Saturday workouts were short but intense at about 25 minutes. Because of the time crunch with only having 23 days to prep for this photoshoot, I stepped up the intensity of these workouts by a notch compared to my typical “maintenance” workouts. Also, the 10-minute abs/HIIT circuit that I did at the end of the workout 3 days/week was an add-on that I didn’t typically do.
The 10-Minute Abs/HIIT Circuit Explained
I added this 10-minute drill onto the end of my resistance workouts just during this cutting phase. While we all know that you can’t spot reduce abdominal fat by doing ab exercises, there is a reason why I wanted to strategically combine abs exercises into a high-intensity interval training circuit… There have been some research findings I’ve seen lately that indicated slight increases (very slight) in the % of body fat burned from a specific area when the muscles in that area of the body were highly stimulated. The % increases I believe were minuscule and probably don’t amount to any significantly increased fat loss from a specific area (aka the myth of spot reduction).
The bigger picture as we all know is that exercises that work larger muscle groups of the body like the legs and back burn FAR more overall calories than any ab exercise ever could in the same time period. That’s why I’ve always preached to focus the majority of your workouts on full-body drills and no more than about 5 minutes to direct abs training.
However, there is a theory that if you can heavily stimulate the abdominal area with high movement ab exercises such as ab bicycles or floor mountain climbers and then combine those exercises into a circuit with high-intensity cardio work, it could possibly slightly increase abdominal fat burning.
While I certainly do NOT think this is actually “spot reduction” in action, what I do think is that the power of your mind and the placebo effect may actually help you burn fat faster if you strongly think during this entire 10- minute circuit that you are really blasting that abdominal fat. We already know that your mind is very powerful in controlling how your body responds to things as the placebo effect is the ultimate evidence of that power.
So while you’re doing these 10-minute abs/HIIT circuits, just keep thinking in your mind how powerfully you’re melting away stomach fat… you never know… the power of your mind might actually increase that fat burning. It’s not too far-fetched really. In fact, here’s a really great article I wrote on a study detailing the powerful mind/body connection.
Here’s the way that I structured the 10-minute abs/HIIT circuits:
I would continuously rotate between a floor abs exercise or a stability ball abs exercise and something high intensity such as jumping rope, using a slide board or doing a 45-60 second “sprint” on a rowing machine. You can really use any apparatus you want, but these were the types of drills that I preferred.
So it would look something like this:
30 seconds abs bicycles
30 seconds super-fast jump rope
30 seconds floor mountain climbers
60 seconds rowing machine
30 seconds abs bicycles
60 seconds on the slide board
30 seconds mountain climbers
30 seconds jump rope
Etc, etc – up to about 10-12 minutes in length for this crazy circuit!
What a way to finish a workout!
On the drive home from the gym, I would practice some “Ab Vacuums”. I wrote a simple article for you if you don’t know how to do “Ab Vacuums”. Manipulating Carbohydrate Intake No matter how many times you hear all sorts of various “experts” argue low-carb vs high carb, or that “carbs don’t matter – it’s total calories that matter”… Well, I’m going to tell you that carbs DO matter, but my take on it is not extremist in either direction.
Most of the time, I have pretty moderate recommendations for carbohydrates. My stance on the subject could be termed “moderate-low” carbohydrate intake for best fat loss results.
I definitely don’t agree with the extreme low-carb or no-carb diets that many preach, and I don’t agree with a high-carb diet either, as it is VERY hard to lose body fat on high carbohydrate intake.
I even eat pretty decent amounts of carbohydrates (although I try to reduce grains because of anti-nutrients and gluten in many grains) at most times of the year when I’m just “maintaining”.
However, in this section, we’re obviously talking about a specific time period where we want accelerated fat-burning… and you can talk to as many bodybuilders, fitness models, and physique competitors as you want (these are people whose JOB it is to get super-lean at certain times), and 99% of them will all tell you that one of the main things they manipulate during a period of cutting body fat is their carb intake.
What I personally did during my 23-day cutting cycle was to eat the MAJORITY of my carbs only on resistance training days, in the morning, and during the post-workout meal.
I was doing resistance training 4 days per week (M/W/F/Sat), so most of my carbohydrate intake was during breakfast on the training days with the workout being mid to late afternoon… and then the remainder of the carb intake was immediately post-workout. So the day would look something like this:
9 am: Wake up and breakfast with moderate carbohydrates (maybe 35 grams protein, 30 grams carbs, 25 grams fat)
Noon: Small lunch with moderate-low carbohydrates (maybe 25 grams protein, 15-20 grams carbs, 20 grams fat)
3 pm: Small snack mostly low GI carbs and healthy fats (such as an apple w/ almond butter)
4:30 pm: High intensity and heavyweight training session for 1-hr
5:45 pm: Post-workout shake – 2:1 ratio carbs: protein recipes generally about 40 grams protein, 75 grams carbs, and 5 grams fat in this post workout shake.
8 pm: Dinner consisting of healthy meat such as grass-fed steaks, steamed vegetables with grass-fed cheese, and a large greens salad with avocado (almost all protein and healthy fats with only fibrous veggies, but no starch-based foods) – no more than about 10 grams total carbs with this meal
11 pm: Snacks such as cottage cheese, cinnamon, stevia, and raw nuts
1 am: Get to bed to try to get 8 hours of sleep
There’s an important reason I did this… First, in order to be able to do the resistance training sessions with enough intensity and heavy enough weights to be able to maintain lean muscle mass during this time period, you need a moderate dose of carbs earlier in the day on a training day. From my experience, if my carb intake is too low on a resistance training day, my workout will suffer and I won’t have the energy needed to move heavyweights.
Second, I still wanted to replenish muscle glycogen to help the muscle repair process by consuming a post-workout shake immediately after training. For the remainder of the day with dinner and a late-night snack, it’s almost all protein, healthy fats, and fiber that I’m focusing on.
On days that I didn’t do resistance training, I focused almost the entire day on mostly protein, healthy fats, and fiber (from vegetables and a fiber supplement, which I’ll talk about in a bit). Any exercise I would do on the non-resistance training days would be lighter activities such as hiking or walking, so there wasn’t a great need for carbohydrates since explosive exercises and other resistance exercises needing muscle glycogen weren’t
Also, being in a slightly carb-deprived state on days when you do light activities such as hiking or walking can help you to increase fat-burning on those days and definitely forces your body to rely mostly on burning fat to provide energy.
So the basic premise during this 23-day cutting cycle was to attempt to keep blood sugar levels under control and prevent high insulin levels MOST of the time, while focusing the majority of my carb intake just on resistance training days in the morning and at post-workout.
One side effect of trying to eat like this (focusing on proteins, healthy fats, and fiber) is that it really forces you to load up on more veggies, and this increases your nutrient density compared to eating bread, pasta, etc and helps to easily control your appetite.
That’s one of the most important parts of this whole phase – avoiding grains almost exclusively and getting most of your carbs from veggies and some fruits and berries. Grains are more of weight gaining food as they are just too calorie-dense without enough nutrient density (micro-nutrients) for a cutting phase like this. So that’s the skinny on manipulating carbs.
You might think that since this was only a 23-day cutting cycle, that there’s no room at all for any cheat days or even any cheat meals. But you’d be wrong!
Out of the 23 days, I still had 3 cheat days (so about 1 day per week). These weren’t full blown cheat days where it was a binge-fest all day long. For the most part, these cheat days were just 1 or 2 extra big meals that were heavy on carbs and fat. The purpose of this was to prevent my body from fighting back and reducing the metabolic rate to preserve calories due to the reduced carbs and reduced calories the other 6 days per week.
These cheat meals that were high in carbs and high in fat would stimulate a large insulin spike and help to revamp leptin levels, which will signal to the body that calories are plentiful and increase the metabolic rate.
Again, since this was only 3 cheat days and about 4-5 total cheat meals during this entire 23-day cycle, the cheat meals actually help more than they do hurt.
I don’t drink nearly as much as I did in my 20’s or in my college days, but even now in my 30’s, I still enjoy some drinks out with friends usually about once or twice a week.
However, let’s face it… there’s nothing about alcohol that is going to help fat loss, and this needs to be a pretty strict 23 days other than the cheat meals I talked about. So I basically tried to avoid all alcohol entirely during these 23 days. I think I drank 2 beers and 2 glasses of wine during this entire 23-day period. This took a little discipline, and there were a couple of nights out with friends that I offered to be the designated driver and that made it easier to only drink club soda or unsweetened iced teas while my friends were throwing back a bunch of alcoholic drinks.
All in all, it was pretty easy to stay on track in this department.
The Cayenne Trick
Remember that every one of these little details can help out slightly, and this was one of those little details. During all 23 days on this cutting phase, I took 2 cayenne pepper capsules during at least 3 meals per day. Cayenne pepper contains capsaicin, which helps to create a slight thermogenic effect and increased calorie burn from ingesting the cayenne pepper.
Now keep in mind that we’re not talking miracles here… but there is a slight increase in calorie burn from cayenne pepper, and any extra benefit you can get can help when you’re doing a cutting phase (even if that extra benefit is the placebo effect in action again!).
Keep in mind that some people have a sensitive stomach to cayenne pepper (even when taken in capsule form) and can give a burning feeling. Personally, it doesn’t affect me, so I included it daily in my 23-day plan. You can usually find a bottle of cayenne pepper capsules at any nutrition store
for about $5 to $9, so it’s cheap.
Cinnamon for Blood Sugar Control
You might have heard about this before… but yes, cinnamon is not only extremely healthy for its antioxidants, but also because it can help control your blood sugar, and maintaining steady blood sugar can keep you burning fat easier.
For this reason, I tried to include cinnamon in any meals that were appropriate (such as smoothies, cottage cheese, or in my coffee), and I took about 1-2 grams per day in capsule form if I wasn’t including cinnamon in meals. Cinnamon capsules are very cheap ($5 to $7) at most supplement sections, even in grocery stores.
My Protein and Fiber Drink Concoction
When you’re doing an accelerated fat burning cycle, protein and fiber are easily 2 of the most important things that you need adequate amounts. Both of them help you to keep hunger under control, and high protein intake during the cutting cycle can help to prevent catabolism, so you don’t lose lean muscle, and you protect your metabolism.
This was another of my secret weapons that I used each day… what I did was use a special protein/fiber drink concoction and have 1 drink each day at a time when I needed to control hunger but didn’t want or didn’t have time for a full meal. I either used these drinks in the afternoon on non-training days to keep satisfied or I used them at night to keep appetite under control and get an extra dose of fiber and protein. You can either create your own protein/fiber drink concoction by using your favorite protein powder (not soy protein!) mixed with a good fiber blend (about 3-5 grams of fiber will do the trick).
These protein/fiber drinks were really helpful in being a convenient and quick way to ward off hunger and prevent catabolism while keeping calories very low and without any excess carbohydrates.
Chamomile Tea to Aid Fat Loss?
You might be wondering how the heck chamomile tea can aid fat loss… after all, chamomile tea has no caffeine and is actually the exact opposite in that it is a known relaxant.
Well, first of all, you probably have heard about how estrogenic compounds in our environment (from pollution, herbicides, pesticides, petroleum chemicals in household cleaners, etc), and in our food supply (from foods such as soy, beer, and also pesticide residues) can trigger the body to hold onto stubborn belly fat (and can even be one of the causes of “man boobs” in men) if you’re exposed to enough of these estrogenic compounds on a regular basis. These are called xenoestrogens and can make it particularly hard for you to burn off body fat (especially abdominal fat) if you’re exposed to these chemicals regularly without protection in your diet.
This problem isn’t only for guys either… these excess estrogenic compounds can create hormone imbalances in women too, and make it even harder to lose stubborn body fat. This is where chamomile tea can help. Chamomile tea is a potent source of unique phytochemicals and antioxidants that help to fight against any estrogenic compounds that you may have been exposed to. This can help your body to more effectively burn off stubborn body fat. Is it a miracle? No, of course not. This is just yet another one of those minor details, that when combined with all of these other methods, can help you to accelerate fat loss.
What I do is simple… I just have a mug of chamomile tea (unsweetened) every night about an hour before bed. It helps to relax me before bedtime anyway, so that’s another benefit. At the very least, this is yet another placebo effect that may be helping fat loss because I believe in my mind that it’s working.
Warning: a very small percentage of people can have severe allergic reactions to chamomile, so make sure that you know if you’re allergic to chamomile or not if you’ve never had it before.
Green, White, Oolong Teas & Yerba Mate
As we talked about in earlier chapters in this book, teas such as green, white, and oolong teas all contain varying levels and combinations of unique polyphenols, some caffeine, and other phytonutrients that can slightly increase your fat-burning efforts. Plus, yerba mate tea has a unique but very different profile of antioxidants as well. Again, we’re not talking miracles, but if you can get a slight advantage, why not take it. Plus, there are many other health benefits from the antioxidant content of teas, so it can’t hurt.
What I did during my 23-day blast was to make big batches of a gallon at a time of unsweetened iced tea and then I would drink 3-4 glasses of this tea each day (not too close to bedtime though since it does contain caffeine).
In order to get the maximum benefits and diversity of the polyphenols and other antioxidants, I used a mixture of organic green tea, white tea, oolong tea, and yerba mate tea bags in each batch of iced tea. I would put just a small amount of stevia in these batches of iced tea just for a very, very lightly sweetened taste.
You can get stevia at most grocery stores now or online at my preferred source by clicking here. Again, even if the fat-burning effect of drinking these teas each day is minimal, any little extra benefit was what I was after. Plus, once again, if my mind believed strongly enough in this, the placebo effect alone may increase the fat burning.
While I always recommend consuming as much of your food as “organic” as possible, I think this is even more important during a cutting cycle such as this. The reason is that you want to minimize your exposure as much as possible to the estrogenic effects of certain pesticides which can stimulate your body to want to hold onto body fat.
I’d say I probably eat 50-60% of my food normally as organic, but during this 23-day cutting cycle, I was probably at about 80-90% organic.
More Red Meat Than Chicken or Fish?
This one may sound unusual, but I actually chose to consume a higher percentage of red meat in the form of grass-fed beef and grass-fed bison (and some venison too) during this time period compared to chicken, turkey, or fish. This may be confusing to you because so many so-called “experts” always tell you that red meat is “bad for you” and to just stick to white meats or fish.
Well, there’s a specific reason that I chose more red meats (grass-fed) than white meats or fish… and the reason has to do with Conjugated Linoleic Acid
(CLA). CLA is a natural form of healthy fat that occurs in the fat on the meat, and in the dairy from ruminant animals such as cattle, bison, deer, goats, sheep, kangaroo, etc. CLA in natural form has been shown to help aid in burning off abdominal fat and also maintaining or even building lean muscle.
Not many people know this fact, but CLA is actually a natural form of trans fat, but it is FAR different than the artificial trans fats from hydrogenated oils that are so deadly and that you hear all of the negative information about. CLA is actually one of the only healthy trans fats in existence.
Warning: I generally do not recommend CLA supplements as they contain an artificially created form of CLA that is a different CLA isomer compared to the natural CLA isomer that’s found in meats and dairy from ruminant animals. The CLA isomer found in CLA supplements is thought by some researchers to possibly have negative effects in the body and is more similar to an artificial trans fat. This is, however, controversial and not a lot of studies have been done. The only form of CLA that I personally believe is going to benefit your health and help to reduce body fat is the natural CLA isomers from grass fed beef, bison, venison, etc or from grass fed raw milk or cheeses.
Also, grass-fed meats and dairy contain 3-5x the CLA of grain-fed meats, so it was grass fed all the way! And while most cheap whey proteins on the market are made from grain-fed commercial milk that is pasteurized, I’ve been using a great grass fed raw whey that also contains significant CLA in it! So that is the reason why I focused more on red meats such as grass fed beef and bison during this 23-day cutting cycle instead of chicken, turkey, or fish… because the extra CLA can really help in accelerating fat burning and preserving lean muscle. I did also eat a good amount of wild salmon during this time period for variety, and also for the healthy omega 3 fat content, so I didn’t solely have red meats as the only meat source.
In fact, one of my “convenience meals” during some of the lunches during this time frame was a mixture of canned wild salmon with a bunch of shredded or diced veggies mixed in (carrots, onions, bell peppers, etc), some spices, and some balsamic vinegar, mustard, and extra virgin olive oil in the mix too. I would just eat this as a form of salmon salad and throw it on top of some greens for a super-healthy and delicious low-carb lunch.
Cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli, cauliflower, kale, brussels sprouts, cabbage, etc. contain unique and powerful phytochemicals such as indole-3- carbinol (I3C) and other phytochemicals unique to cruciferous veggies that help to inhibit the effect of estrogenic compounds that you’re exposed to in the environment and your diet. Remember that these estrogenic compounds (xenoestrogens) can increase belly fat or make your body want to hold onto body fat.
Therefore, eating cruciferous vegetables each day during this 23- day cutting cycle is likely to help the body fight excess estrogenic compounds and help you to burn body fat faster. What I did during this 23-day fat blasting cycle was to shift my cooked veggies portion that I usually have with dinner each night and make sure it was a cruciferous vegetable. While I might usually have all sorts of various veggies such as snow peas, string beans, zucchini, peppers, or any number of other vegetables, during this 23-day blast, I focused instead on mostly broccoli, brussels sprouts, and cauliflower as my main veggie with dinner every night. I would also have a greens salad each night too, but the main cooked vegetable I focused on were the cruciferous. This doesn’t mean that cruciferous veggies will be my ainstay during every meal the entire year (as I’d probably get sick of them), but for this 23-day blast, my theory was that it could only help and would live a slight advantage over other vegetables.
Onions and Garlic
Onions and garlic also contain potent phytochemicals such as organosulfur compounds that can also help to inhibit the activity of belly fat storing xenoestrogens. Onions and garlic also have many other valuable nutritional
benefits, so it’s a no-brainer to include them daily in the diet.
Although I usually try to include a fair amount of onions and garlic into my normal diet, during this 23-day blast, I was really conscious of trying to include garlic and onions several times per day in various meals, whether I put them into my eggs in the morning, added to my salmon salad, or as a sautéed side dish to meals. Just another one of those minor details that may help accelerate fat burning a slight bit.
Everyone these days has heard of the benefits of fish oil in helping to increase your omega 3 fatty acid intake and balance out the excess omega 6 fats that most people get. Also, fish oil contains the important EPA and DHA types of omega 3 fats which you can’t obtain from plant oils (although there is some small amount of conversion in the body from plant oils).
However, Krill Oil is basically like fish oil on steroids… krill oil has the benefit of phospholipids which helps your body assimilate and benefit from the omega 3’s more effectively compared to standard fish oil. I used 3 caplets per day of Krill Oil to make sure that I was obtaining enough phospholipids and omega 3s in the right balance to help aid the body in burning fat efficiently. Also, krill oil has another benefit as it contains a unique and powerful antioxidant called taxon than which helps to protect your skin from damage.
Coconut Oil and MCTs
As we’ve mentioned in other chapters, virgin coconut oil is made up of unique healthy saturated fats called medium-chain triglycerides (MCTs), including a specific MCT called lauric acid.
Lauric acid is known to have strong benefits on the immune system and is lacking in most modern western diets.
Besides the immunity benefits of lauric acid and the other MCTs in coconut oil, the fats in coconut oil are readily used by the body for energy (easier than most other forms of dietary fat), and can also stimulate your body’s metabolism to aid in fat loss.
So this is yet another example of healthy fat that can actually help fat loss. What I tried to do during this 23-day blast was to use a little bit of coconut oil each day and one of the ways I did this was after I steamed my broccoli or cauliflower, I would then quickly sauté the veggies and a little garlic in about 1 Tbsp of virgin coconut oil. I also always use coconut oil as my oil of choice when cooking eggs. It’s the most stable oil under heat and one of the healthiest oils to cook with.
BCAA’s and Carnitine
I also used about 3-5 grams per day of branched-chain amino – BCAA’s to help control catabolism, but at very specific times… either in the mornings on an empty stomach before doing morning exercise, or at night before bed.
Many studies indicate that BCAA’s can be helpful in maintaining lean muscle while restricting calories… and particularly beneficial in preventing catabolism of muscle while doing fasted exercise.
As for carnitine, there appear to be some studies out there that showed some positive benefits to carnitine supplementation to increase fat loss while restricting calories. There are also some conflicting studies that say there is very little benefit if any to carnitine supplementation on fat loss, but these seem to be based on studies with doses that were too small. However, I got this tip from my good friend and trusted colleague Jon Benson, and he swears by using liquid l-carnitine during a cutting cycle ONLY on an empty stomach as it can help aid the body in utilizing fat stores. Jon has a lot of experience in cutting cycles for “peaking”, and he was pretty confident that this gives a benefit.
So during my 23-day accelerated fat burning cycle, my strategy was to use about 2 gms of liquid l-carnitine first thing in the morning on an empty stomach along with about 2-3 grams of BCAA’s and then go for a 30-40 minute brisk walk, bike ride, or hike up the mountain behind my house before eating breakfast.
This goes against my usual philosophy of eating a meal immediately in the morning to reverse the catabolic state that your body is in upon waking in the morning. However, during this 23-day cycle, I wanted to get every possible fat-burning advantage as possible, so I made this part of my
repertoire about 5 days/week.
As you may know, chronic stress is one of the most negative things you can do to your body and your health. And you also may know that stress can chronically elevate cortisol levels, which makes it extremely hard for you to lose body fat. For that reason, it is essential to find something that helps you to manage and minimize stress in your daily life if you want to maximize your fat-burning efforts.
This could be as simple as meditating or thinking of a relaxing environment that you love (such as a warm beach) and doing this for a couple of minutes every hour, while you’re at work, to help manage stress. It also means that you need to program yourself to stay calm in situations that may normally cause you unnecessary stress, such as traffic or rude people. Or perhaps, a daily bout of yoga, a massage, or something else that helps you reduce stress could be beneficial.
For me, I tried to go out on a relaxing hike and get some fresh air on most days when I felt that I had a lot of work to do, and may have been allowing stress to creep in.
I live in one of the most beautiful areas of the country (the Colorado Rockies), so it always helps me to relieve stress by getting out and enjoying the scenic beauty and fresh air of the mountains.
Whatever it may be — find that certain activity that you can do that helps you to relieve stress on a daily basis. It can go a long way to helping your health and also your fat-burning efforts.
Deep Sleep and Fat Loss
We’ve all heard a million times that adequate sleep (generally 7-9 hours per night) is essential for just about every aspect of your health.
However, during a 23-day cutting cycle like this… I was stepping up my training intensity a notch, and also reducing carbohydrates a bit and overall calories too… so it is even MORE important than ever to make sure to get at least 8 hours of sleep every night to give the body maximal recovery.
Studies show that even partial sleep deprivation, such as 6 hours per night instead of 8 hours per night can increase cortisol levels, reduce fat-burning and muscle-building hormones such as testosterone and growth hormone, and essentially reduce your ability to maximize fat loss and muscle maintenance.
There’s just no room for error in this type of 23-day cutting cycle if you’re serious about your goal, so 8 hours of deep sleep per night is a must to maximize your results.
The Advanced Strategies… a Little Overboard?
Well, that about does it for all of the nitty-gritty details I used to go from 10.2% body fat to 6.9% body fat in only 23 days while prepping for a photo shoot recently. You can see the pics in various places on my site and blog. Like I mentioned at the beginning of this report, some of this was a
little whacky and overly strict, pretty much to the point of being anal retentive about every little thing you’re doing for several weeks. But again, this was only for 23 days, just in order to meet a specific goal that I had set. I
would go crazy if I tried to live my life all of the time like that.
But that’s the point of the entire section… you don’t have to be this strict all of the time, and you can stay in great shape year-round with a nice balanced fitness lifestyle… but when there’s those events like weddings, or beach vacations, or any other event that you want to fine-tune your body and cut off some significant body fat in only 3-4 weeks, these advanced strategies can be pretty powerful if you have the motivation and discipline to actually do it!
- Grass fed beef, bison, veal, lamb, goat, free range chicken, grass fed raw cheeses, grass fed butter and more: The best source of high quality grass fed meat, grass fed raw cheese, grass fed butter, free range chicken, humanely raised pork, wild-caught fish, nutraceuticals, organic nuts, snacks, and more is U.S.
This company ships across the country and in most places, you will receive your order at your door in 2-3 days. Meat comes vacuum packed and frozen in insulated cold cartons, unless ordered fresh. Some of the best tasting meat you have ever had! This company cannot be beat for high quality, grass fed meats, cheese and snacks. U.S. Wellness Meats also carries a great low sugar, high fructose corn syrup free sports water that fuels active lifestyles.
- Wild Caught Fish-Best online source for a great variety of delicious, wild caught sustainable salmon and high omega 3, certified pure, sushi-grade fresh and frozen fish is Vital Choice Seafood. Check out the tabs “Doctors
Top Choices” and “Product Starter Packs” for great ideas on what to order. Also try Alaskan Sablefish for a rich, delicious melt-in-your-mouth super healthy, high omega 3 treat. Trader Joe’s is also a great place to buy small packages of wild-caught frozen fish of various kinds, as well as your local grocery store. Look for “wild-caught” not “farm-raised”.
- Nuts- Obviously the grocery does carry nuts, but try to find the raw nuts, or those without added omega 6 oils, which kind of defeat the purpose of eating them. One of the best places to find great selections of nuts, trail mix, etc. at great prices is Trader Joe’s.
- Raw Milk-Some farms will ship to your home or deliver close to where you live. Some of these farms also carry free-range organic eggs, grass-fed meats, and other items as well.
- Stevia is now readily available at most grocery stores. The more pure version of Stevia is usually sold in health-food sections of grocery stores or healthier food stores like Trader Joe’s and Whole Foods. Lots of times Stevia is placed in the ‘Supplement’ aisle, because of silly FDA rulings. Expect to see Stevia or derivatives of Stevia in mainstream soft drinks, frozen treats, and other low calorie sweetened items. That still doesn’t mean these are great items to be ingesting, but possibly less bad than before!
- Gluten-free brown rice pasta and gluten-free brown rice wrap Grocery stores are really starting to pick up on the gluten-free trend, so many actually may have a gluten-free section in the store. Otherwise, check your regular pasta aisle for brown rice or whole-wheat pasta. Trader Joe’s and Whole Foods have a big variety of gluten-free brown rice pastas of all different shapes and sizes. Just remember that if fat loss is your goal, grains should be kept to a minimum.
- Miscellaneous – Most grocery stores now carry the rock sea salt in the little grinder. Rather than buy a new grinder with salt in it every time, you can buy a bigger container of sea salt in the larger crystal size and just fill up the grinder. Saves money and keeps you stocked with great tasting salt.
- Healthier food stores carry great dark chocolate, but many grocery stores now carry decent dark chocolate as well. Remember that milk chocolate is more fattening, contains more sugar, and not as good for you, so stick with dark chocolate that is at least 70% cocoa, with no additives or preservatives.
- Coconut oil – Whole Foods or your health food store. Your grocery store may also have it in the health foods aisle. Be sure it is in its natural state, and not refined or hydrogenated.
- Healthy energy bars- Whole Foods, Trader Joes, your local grocery store’s health food aisle, or order some amazing protein bars by my friends at Biotrust Nutrition. These protein bars are delicious, loaded with 20 grams of organic protein, 14 grams of fiber, and have ZERO wheat, soy, trans fat, gluten, or GMO products. Another bar that is more of a “snack bar” and is very tasty, but not necessarily high in protein are these delicious protein cookies, (yes COOKIES!), also from my friends at Biotrust. They come in a few different flavors, and all are delicious, but my favorite is chocolate chip.