It is not how much you have learned, but how much you have absorbed in what you have learned — the best techniques are the simple ones executed right. — Bruce Lee.

If we had 10 minutes, and I knew I would never see you again the rest of my life, here is what I would tell you about the fat loss and physique enhancement process:

I. NUTRITION GUIDEPOSTS

OVERVIEW

  • Cut out most modern, man-made, refined, processed, and packaged foods.
  • Cut out PROCESSED “health” foods — whole grain breads and cereals, fruit juice, refined oils.
  • Think “Caveman Nutrition” — if it was around in caveman times, you can eat it.  If man made it, don’t eat it.
  • For essential nutrients, emphasize real, whole, natural foods — lean animal proteins, vegetables, and 1-2 pieces of whole fruit.
  • For energy nutrients, eat whole food fats (for low carb, healthy fat-based diets): nuts, avocado, coconut, OR low fructose, no gluten, natural starch foods (for lower fat, carb-based diets): yams, sweet potatoes, potatoes, rice.
  • A lower carbohydrate, Paleo-style Diet is a good template for sedentary, obese, insulin resistant/type II diabetic populations.
  • A carb-based, traditional Japanese-style diet is a good template for active strength trainers/anaerobic athletes.

DETAILS

  • Cut out concentrated sources of fructose — high fructose corn syrup, sugar, fruit juice, honey, agave nectar, and molasses.
  • Cut out trans fats/hydrogenated oil — processed snack foods, margarine.
  • Cut out refined vegetable oils.
  • Cut out fried foods.
  • Cut out refined fats in general — butter, cream, most salad dressings, and oils (even “healthy” oils).
  • Cut out gluten — wheat, rye, and barley.
  • Cut out sources of lectins — soy, wheat, beans, lentils, corn, and peanuts.
  • Cut out sources of phytates — “whole grain” cereals and breads, seeds.
  • Cut out refined flour — bread, pasta, and pastries.
  • Cut out dairy products — milk, cream, cheese, and yogurt.
  • Cut out artificial sweeteners, preservatives, chemical food additives, etc.
  • Eat lean animal proteins — fish, poultry, lean meats, and eggs.
  • Eat unlimited non-starchy vegetables — spinach, broccoli, mixed greens, lettuce, etc.
  • Limit fructose consumption to 1-2 pieces of whole fruit a day — berries, orange, apple, etc.
  • Get the majority of your dietary fat as by-product of your lean animal proteins.
  • Obese, sedentary, and insulin resistant populations may respond best to low carbohydrate diets, with healthy fats as the primary energy source.
  • If your diet calls for “added” fats, emphasize whole food fats in their natural state and that come along with protein and/or fiber — nuts, avocado, coconut.  Don’t eat refined oils.
  • Strength trainers/anaerobic athletes may respond better to lower fat (fat as by-product of protein sources), moderate-to-higher carbohydrate diets with primary energy coming from starch foods.
  • If your diet calls for concentrated sources of carbohydrates, stick to low fructose, low “anti-nutrient” (gluten, phytates, lectins) starches — yams, sweet potatoes, rice, plain rice cakes.
  • If you have high calorie demands, you may need to spread food intake out over 5-6 meals a day.
  • But for most people, eating 3 meals a day is the most convenient, realistic, and sustainable approach.
  • Drink NO calorie beverages only — water, green tea, and black coffee.
  • Be realistic.  Work your way down the list as best you can, at your own pace.
  • For sustainability and sanity, eat a cheat meal of whatever you want once a week for both psychological and physiological benefits.

II. TRAINING GUIDEPOSTS

If you are severely overweight and deconditioned

If you are a healthy individual who wants to change his/her body composition

What is the recommended foundation of your exercise plan? Focus on cleaning up your diet and walking more — whether as a formal exercise session and/or as part of your daily activities. Strength training; To a lesser extent, interval-based cardio; Outdoor recreational walking
What exercise (if any) should you avoid? High intensity/high impact aerobic activity, boot camp-style workouts, any routine without proper progression. Low-intentisy, long distance endurance training (e.g., traditional cardiovascular exercise)
Why do we recommend this plan? Most people can reach a natural, healthy bodyweight with proper nutrition and walking alone; no gym or formal exercise sessions are necessary. You may move to a structured strength training routine when you reach a healthier weight. Traditional cardio is highly overrated for fat loss.  Fat loss will be the result of your clean diet and appropriate caloric intake.  Building lean muscle through strength training will provide your body with its definition, shape, and tone.
How often should you exercise? Find a way to walk every day.  It is what we were meant to do. 2 days per week for full body splits, 3 days per week for push/legs/pull splits, 4-5 days per week for body part splits. Give yourself 2-3 days off per week to optimize recovery and prevent burnout.
Where should you exercise? Walking can be done anywhere! Being a member of a gym or having a home treadmill may come in handy during inclement weather, but it is not necessary. The ideal would be a gym facility, since they will have all the weights you need for your workouts. However, you can achieve excellent results at home too, using your body weight, resistance bands, or dumbells
When should you exercise? Ideally, at a regularly scheduled time during specific days of the week. This will help to make it part of your routine, and automatic, instead of something that is a chore or can be pushed aside.

Weight Training Principles:

  • Use mostly free weights; supplement with machines.
  • Train from a stable base. DON’T train on unstable surfaces (balls, wobble boards, standing on one foot, etc.).
  • Focus on basic exercises – lunge and squat movements, dumbbell and barbell rowing and pressing motions, pull-up/dip movements, etc. The human body is a simple lever system and does not need “complicated” or “innovative” exercises to produce results.
  • During each session, train 1-3 muscle groups (body splits). Perform 3-5 exercises for large muscle groups, 2-3 exercises for small muscle groups.
  • Perform 2-4 sets per exercise, with 5-15 repetitions (reps) per set.
  • Rest 30-60 seconds in between each set.
  • Keep the rep tempos (speed at which you lift/move the weights) around 2-0-2-0 (2 seconds up, 2 seconds down). Lift and lower weights under control, and keep CONSTANT TENSION on the muscle. Don’t pause or lockout to rest in between reps, and don’t cheat by swinging or using rebound/momentum; this puts you at risk for injury.
  • It’s not just about how much weight you lift. Focus on stimulating and overloading the muscle. This is better for the muscles, better for the joints, and better for overall safety.
  • Focus on feeling the muscle work during the set, not just on moving a weight from point A to point B. Think of this as bodybuilding or body shaping as opposed to power lifting. Check your macho (or diva) ego at the door.
  • Switch training variables — within the confines of the overall parameters — regularly (exercises, order of exercises, reps, interest rest, etc.) in order to vary the training stimulus and prevent boredom/training plateaus.
  • Don’t get sucked into fitness trends, and cool-looking “innovative” stuff you see in the gym or TV. The basics are the basics for a reason — THEY WORK.