3 Eating Tips for Adding Muscle Without The Fat

You are what you eat, or so goes the saying.

For men who are looking for ways to add lean muscle instead of fat, what you eat, when you eat, and what you do after eating is of the utmost importance.

When you were a teenager, you could probably get away with eating two pizzas and an order of cheesy breadsticks before heading out to gym for a two-hour weightlifting session. The speed of your metabolism made up for your poor diet.

As you grow older and your metabolism slows, however, you will need to fundamentally change your eating habits.

If you are interested in staying in shape and building a sculpted, muscular body, staying faithful to a workout regimen is important.

To help your body build muscle faster, however, a quality, nutritious diet is also essential.

Below we look at three different eating tips to help you help your body add lean muscle instead of fat.

Find the Right Balance of Carbohydrates

Traditional nutritional wisdom for bodybuilders used to urge them to eat as many carbohydrates as possible. It was thought that by having enough calories in your body through high carbohydrate intake, your body would have sufficient energy reserves to prevent muscle protein breakdown and avoid using dietary protein for energy. Both bad if building muscle is your goal.

While there is still truth to that (your body will break down muscle for amino acids that it can turn into glucose, a type of energy), many men use this as an excuse to “bulk” and add on too much fat in the process. One study written by Dustin Elliot states that the average body can store about 400 calories at a time. Any more than that and you run the risk of having those excess calories slowly turn into fat.

Another important aspect regarding your carbohydrate intake is when you eat them. Foods that are high in carbohydrates are best consumed early in the morning after waking up (think whole grain granola and wheat bread for breakfast) since this is the best time to take advantage of the protein sparing properties of carbohydrates. After an intense workout, you can also take in  carbohydrates to recover from the workout.

Do Not Be Afraid to Pack on the Protein

You know that protein helps grow muscle. You will want to add some protein to every meal throughout the day. A general rule of thumb is a palm-sized serving or two. However, make sure to prioritize lean meats such as fish, olive oils, and unprocessed peanut butter.

Omega 3 fatty acids are essential for lean muscle growth and they also help to regulate your blood pressure which usually shoots through the roof every time you are in the gym. If you cook for yourself, get rid of the butter and margarine and purchase a huge bottle of virgin extra olive oil to help your body get the good fats and proteins it needs.

One recent study done by McMaster University found that overweight men who were introduced to an intense weight lifting regime while eating large amounts of protein lost more weight and built more muscle mass than the other group that only ate regular amounts of protein.

Leave Behind Processed Foods

Fast food joints and most of the boxed and canned stuff on your grocery store shelves should be left behind if you want to put on lean muscle without the fat.

Highly processed foods are loaded with empty calories. Sorry, you know this, but it needs to be said.

While you will get more than enough calories, you will also notice a loss of energy and a growing amount of body fat. In addition, for men who care about taking care of their appearance and have high standards for grooming, these processed foods are notorious for leading to acne, oily skin, and other skin and hair problems.

Eat Well, Hit the Gym Hard, and Cultivate Good Habits

Unless you are still a sophomore in high school with a fast metabolism, eating right is an essential part of building lean muscle.

By finding a balance in your carbohydrate intake, consuming healthy fats and proteins, and avoiding highly processed foods, you can build a muscular, toned physique that will help you lose weight and feel stronger and healthier.

Bio

Aron James is the founder of StubblePatrol.com. Stubble Patrol is a site on male grooming. He loves to write about his personal experiences.

 

 

How To Achieve ‘Overnight’ Success

“He’s a natural”

You’ve heard that before, right?

But you know what gets left out? Mention of the work behind the scenes before they made it big.

No one talks about the 1,000s of hours spent on the driving range.

No one talks about the hours and hours spent on the outdoor rink.

No one talks about all the reps in the gym and meals prepped by the guy who gets in amazing shape.

These are the habits that nobody successful tells you about — in getting a 6-pack, becoming a pro athlete or being incredibly successful in a career.

I recently read a personal letter NHL great, Mike Bossy, wrote for The Players Tribune.

He was always known as a ‘natural goal scorer’ and resented the label.

“When you arrive, you’ll be known as a natural goal scorer. There’s nothing natural about it, actually. That’s something that will bother you for the rest of your life — whenever people ask you, “Why was scoring so easy for you, Mike?”

“It was never easy. Your mother loves to tell people the story about how you scored 21 goals in your first mite hockey game. But even if that story is true, the goals only tell part of the story.

“Because your mom always leaves out the part about how much time you spent all by yourself out in the backyard rink, shooting at a wooden board.

“You don’t have a real net, so you practice by aiming for the black puck-marks on the board over and over and over until your feet are frozen.”

The Players Tribune via Getty Images

Why doesn’t anyone tell the truth about what it takes to be successful?

According to Ramit Sethi, there are 2 very simple reasons.

  1. Everyone would hate you. We love to celebrate “effortless” success, so if you talk about the exact way you’re successful — the backlash comes quickly. People like to think they may stumble into effortless success eventually, so it keeps the dream alive living vicariously.
  2. These secret habits are so unconscious, successful people don’t even realize they do them.

Celebrities who get fit are always touting some bogus product because there’s money to be made.

Or they give some lame tip that’s surface level and doesn’t reveal all the work that preceded it.

Sure, they may have a trainer who gives them a leg up, but they still have to do the bloody work!

What if these celebrities told you the truth?

They would tell you…

“I count calories”
“I work out 5-10 times/week”
“I have rules of thumb I use when I eat out, like: ‘No bread. Only a small portion of dessert. A 2 drink limit.’”

The secret habits are actually quite simple. But boring. And repetitive. But, damn, do they ever work.

They’re not as sexy as saying “I lost 50 lbs with this magic pill” or “this hack helped me lose my belly” but unlike those quick fixes that don’t work, these DO work.

Some people would call these daily habits obsessive – or a bit OCD.

But those people saying that are the ones who stop and start over and over again, only ever achieving surface level success.

Although subtle, and though they might pay off after YEARS, they work.

Are you prepared to do the work?

The bounty awaits.. if you’re willing to grind.

P.S. If you want my help instilling these habits and achieving the success usually reserved for the 1% who make it, drop me an email.

What to do once you’ve tried it all

Hey buddy,

You’ve probably tried everything when it comes to fitness.

1) Eat less, move more

2) Do cardio (fasted OMG!!)

3) Detox 

4) Join a Crossfit gym

5) Amputate a limb

… Right?

And some of it is OK advice. If you can stick to it.

But here’s the thing:

For every guru sayin’ this is all it takes…

… you’ve got, what, like millions of people who got nowhere trying any or all of it?

We do have an obesity epidemic after all.

So what gives?

I’ll tell ya…

The difference between those who make it and those who fail, rinse and repeat…

Usually comes down to one of 4 things:

1) Information overload. There’s too much info consumption, not enough action.

2) No wiggle room. Your diet will fail without room for failure, if you feel me?

3) Eating wrong for your genetics. Find the right diet for your genetic blueprint, not that juiced up bodybuilder’s.

4) Accountability. If it’s only you in the fight, I promise your brain will sabotage you at every turn.

Any of that sound familiar?

If so, I’m glad you’re reading this.

I help average people simplify fitness and get results.

Just what your email inbox needs, right? 

… Another guy claiming his approach to fitness is the ONLY way.

Look, I get it.

You need another diet strategy like I need a swift kick to the gonads.

(Not very badly.)

Lucky for you, I don’t have one.

What I do have, however, is a smarter, simpler, speedier approach to getting the results you want… even if you’ve tried it all in the past.

And since there’s zero chance you believe me, how ‘bout I just show you?

I’m doing a free, private video streaming Wednesday night that reveals:

> How I got chubby eating boring chicken and broccoli and lean with a weekly 5 Guys burger and fries.

> How to spend less time in the gym with better results (than I ever did going 6 times a week)

> How to find the right approach to eating, even if you have ‘bad’ genes.

> And much more.

Don’t worry:

I won’t yap about how important I am or who I’ve worked with or why my coaching program is all the rage.

(I promise.)

This is all about YOU.

Tap the link to register and join me on the live video.

>> SIGN UP HERE (50 SPOTS OPEN – 39 claimed) <<

How To Overcome Junk Food Addictions

What is about chocolate, pizza and sweets that make it so hard to stop at “just one”?

You know these foods aren’t good for you in excess, so why do you indulge?

Is it the forbidden fruit mentality? You want what you can’t have?

For starters, your brain loves junk food.

Junk foods are energy dense (i.e. high in calories). Good news if you’re a hunter-gatherer and nutrients are scarce, but bad news in today’s society of endless food at your fingertips.

But what’s happening inside your brain that drive this response?

Stephan Guyenet referenced several studies in an article on Examine.com, which show your mouth and small intestine detect the base materials in sugar, fat, and protein and send a signal to the brain that releases dopamine.

And the more concentrated the nutrients (think junk food) the greater the surge in dopamine.

Essentially, your brain is doing its job by encouraging you to pursue calorie dense foods that would help your distant ancestors stay alive or survive periods of famine. But your brain chemistry simply wasn’t built for the world you live in today.

You need simply take a passing glance at that timely pizza promotion in your mailbox and crave it because the sensory cues are so innate.  Then, with a few clicks on your smartphone, that cheesy delight arrives at your doorstep.

How can you avoid these temptations? Plan ahead. Prepare wholesome meals to bring to work with you so you aren’t starving and accidently on purpose reach for that donut in the lunchroom. Download this handy “Mansformation Cheat Sheet” to set yourself up with a nutrition plan for success. I.E. Opt for a filling quinoa salad with a variety of nutrients over a Unicorn Frap from Starbucks.

Drug-Like Effects

Further still, some junk foods combine calories with drug-like effects.

Guyenet writes about chocolate’s mix of calories and a drug called theobromine. Much like its cousin caffeine, theobromine is a mild stimulant. This drug accentuates fat and sugar’s natural ability to spike dopamine signaling, which in many people results in powerful cravings and addictive-like behaviour.

Do you remember the first time you drank coffee or beer? You likely didn’t love the taste.

But coffee has caffeine and beer has alcohol, two drugs that your brain gets a reward from.

So, in turn, your sensory cues tell you to pay $6 for that Frappuccino and elbow your way through a crowd to get to the bar.

Social Norms

Our society also associates eating with pleasure at every turn.

At the movies, you’re expected to get a big popcorn and coke.

You can’t watch that ball game without a big bratwurst.

Poker with the guys? Round of drinks and wings for all.

Those are powerful social cues to overcome. But it’ll take replacing old habits with new, healthy ones to buck those trends.

Bring a protein bar in your pocket to the theatre.

Eat a filling, healthy dinner before you head to the game.

Set some ground rules for that poker night (like a drink limit).

And, yes, you may have to overcome peer pressure and stick to your guns.

So is it futile to try to attempt another diet?

Not necessarily.

How to re-program your brain:

  • Eat more whole, fresh, minimally processed foods with a balance of macronutrients, protein, carbs and fats so you aren’t “shortchanging” your brain from much-needed nutrients (i.e. limit cravings)
  • Eat slowly and mindfully. No matter what you eat, slowing down will help your digestive system do its job and also help your brain get the signal from your gut that it’s full
  • Keep temptations out of sight. Easier said than done, but work to control your home environment. Don’t buy Costco-sized ice cream or sweets – only indulge in controlled amounts. I.E. Opt for a kid sized McFlurry on the way home instead of buying a two-gallon pail of ice cream at the store. If tempting, unhealthy foods aren’t within arm’s reach, not only will they be harder to eat, but you’ll be less likely to crave them.
  • Get this handy “Mansformation Cheat Sheet” cheat sheet to set yourself up with a nutrition plan

What’s Next?

Get Mitch’s FREE Mansformation Cheat Sheet NOW… and lose as much as 10 pounds FAST, while greatly reducing inflammation in the process.

 

 

Finish Him! Use These Finishers To Get More Jacked Than Scorpion

Mortalllll Kombatttttt!!!

If you spent your formative years growing up in the 90s like I did, you know what I’m talking about.

A fighter can perform a special move when the message “FINISH HIM!” appears on the screen, destroying his dazed opponent.

Damn, did I hate when someone got me in that prone position.

But it was extra satisfying when I was doing the finishing. Pun intended. (Hey, I was a teenage boy…)

With that covered, let’s address the real reason for this article: Finishers.

Simply put, a “Finisher” is a series of exercises performed at the end of your workout specifically to make you puke all over the unsuspecting girl on the elliptical.

They aren’t fun or easy, but it’s a great way to combine conditioning and strength training in one quick burst of activity.

Here’s a couple quick rules to follow before we give you some actual workouts to try.

Rule 1. Don’t do them all the time.

When do you do them?

Assess yourself at the end of your planned workout. Do you have a few beads of sweat on your forehead and feel like you could handle more work? Spent most of the workout on your phone? Or are you crawling away from the squat rack after a grueling leg beatdown?

If it’s the former, not the latter, toughen up and get after it.

Rule 2. Make it quick.

Get it done in 5 minutes.  Maybe 10 if you’re stubborn. This isn’t some marathon “Murph” Crossfit challenge where you die of heatstroke halfway through.

Here are three ‘finisher’ options to choose from

  1. Agonist/Antagonist Supersets

Studies have confirmed that pressing strength increases dramatically by working or even statically stretching the antagonist muscles between sets of benching.

The antagonist to chest is your back.

The antagonist to your quads is your hamstrings.

The antagonist to your biceps is your triceps.

You get the idea, right?

Anyway, for chest and back, you might use something like this:

A1) Bench Press

A2) Barbell Rows

Perform for 4 rounds of 8 reps using the same weight. In this particular instance, you want to rest a bit between exercises as strength is still a focus here at a lower rep range with heavier weights.

  1. Circuits

These can be performed with weight (which I prefer) or bodyweight in a pinch. Hell, you could use a chair in your hotel room and get a good sweat going doing these.

In this instance, we’ll setup in the gym and hammer out 4 exercises in succession.

A1) Landmine Squats

A2) Increased ROM Push-Ups

A3) Med Ball Push-Ups

A4) 3 Ways

Perform as many reps as possible of A1, then move on to A2, then A3, then A4. Perform a total of 4 rounds, resting just long enough to catch your breath between rounds (maybe 2 minutes).

Another option, especially if your gym is a crowded mess, is to simply use the same piece of equipment or dumbbells for all of the exercises.

Let’s say, for example, you pair dumbbell flyes with dumbbell stiff legged deadlifts and dumbbell split squats. Use the same weight, cycle through the exercises, and sweat your ball bag off.

Another option, which I do a lot with my clients, is set a timer for 5 minutes. Perform the exercises in order for 10 reps of each exercise, one after the other, as shown above. But perform as many rounds as possible in 5 minutes with as minimal rest as humanly possible.

  1. Barbell Complexes

Again, nothing revolutionary here, but the tried and tested work, so why get funky with it?

A barbell complex is nothing more than a circuit of compound movements using a single barbell. You use the same weight throughout the circuit and never take your hands off of the bar.

In the video example, you’ll be doing five exercises in sequence without putting the bar down. For a full-body routine to try: floor deadlifts, overhead presses, barbell rows, stiff-legged deadlifts, and floor barbell bench presses with the same weight.

In Finishing…

Of course, stick to the plan and focus on your core training program first. But finishers can add a challenging calorie burn to finish things off.

Sometimes, you may only have time for a finisher. Ideal? No. But if you’ve had a tough day at the office and the couch is calling your name, convince yourself to do a finisher before you sit down for a binge session of Game of Thrones. It can be done in your living room with a little creativity.

But if you’re feeling fresh and prepared to run through a wall that particular day, tack on finishers at the end of your regular workout.

Boom.

Finished.

Exhale.

 

17 Pounds Gone In 6 Weeks

If I told you that you’d probably think I was exaggerating.

But a picture says 1,000 words, right?

Here’s the picture Angus sent me from his first 6 weeks in Mansformation 2.0 (to apply for the next group go HERE to fill out an application)

The “after” is on the left (if it wasn’t obvious enough by how much belly is gone!)

If you’ve been struggling to lose the belly for what seems like forever, I’m going to GIVE you this complete step-by-step, almost FOOLPROOF plan

Surprisingly, it has absolutely nothing to do with any of the typical stuff you’ve probably heard before:

…NO “weird fat loss tricks”…
…NO grapefruit diets…
…NO P90X…
…NO restrictive, hate your life calorie intake…
…NONE of the stuff you’ve probably tried and failed at.

Hint: You need accountability in a group and a guy to guide you who’s been there (that’s me)

You’ll get the whole plan, A-to-Z…

…including a sustainable approach to nutrition that burns fat and builds muscle…

…everything I’ve discovered about nutrition and training (which helped me lose 50 pounds and keep it off. Now I EASILY maintain 12% bodyfat eating my favourite foods)

…and all the necessary exercise and done-for-you nutrition plans you need to get results without plateaus.

But this “done for you” system isn’t for sale.

Anywhere.

At any price.

‘Cuz I’m gonna GIVE it to you. (More about that in a sec.)

I’m also gonna give you two bonuses:

Bonus #1 – “Add An Inch To Your Arms In 30 Days”

It’s a training program focused on boosting your gun show. You’ll want to follow it about a month before summer arrives 😉

Bonus #2 –”30 Days To Shredded”

There’s no B.S. theory or fluff. Another training program focused entirely on fat loss that you can use in conjunction with the arm plan pre-summer.

Just a proven plan to bring in a nice loss of fat – like the last 5-10 pounds.

How much weight can you lose in Mansformation 2.0?

That’s up to you, Hoss.

Just like it was up to Angus.

And look what he did with it. (And we aren’t done).

Listen, if Angus can do it, if I can do it, you can do it too.

But here’s the catch:

I will NOT give it to just anyone.

Ever.

Nor will I ever sell this system as a whole

At any price.

The ONLY people who can get this system are the action takers in my Mansformation 2.0 program.

Should YOU choose to have your manhood boosted…

Click here to claim your manhood today… (fill out the short application and I’ll be in touch… maybe)

All the best,
Mitch

P.S. To recap…

I’m re-opening my Mansformation 2.0 program

It includes…

–   a sustainable approach to nutrition that burns fat and builds muscle…

–   everything I’ve discovered about nutrition and training (which helped me lose 50 pounds and keep it off. Now I EASILY maintain 12% bodyfat)

–   and all the necessary training and done-for-you nutrition plans you need to get results.

But you can’t buy this.

Anywhere or at ANY price.

‘Cuz I’m GIVING it away.

But ONLY to the dudes in Mansformation 2.0

Click here to claim your manhood today…

Get Swole Without Getting Stronger

Do you require a half gallon of Lakota cream on your aching knees before a set of squats?

Do you need to jump in an ice bath after every set of presses?

There just comes a time in a lifter’s life where you may have to make provisions to your training for safety and longevity.

But this doesn’t mean you have to retire your weight belt and take up an aquafit class.

Train smarter, not harder.

When most think of progress, they think of continuously adding weight to the bar week after week.

But there are many ways to go about it.

The progressive overload principle basically states: In order for a muscle to grow, strength to be gained, performance to increase, or for any similar improvement to occur, the human body must be forced to adapt to a tension that is above and beyond what it has previously experienced.

Here are 11 ways to increase progressive overload without loading up the barbell and trying to get stronger every workout.

1. Increase Rep Ranges

Move your rep ranges northward.

Instead of trying to routinely go for 1RM or sets of 6 reps or less, aim for sets in the 15-plus rep range.

Of course, this assumes you’ve been throwing iron around for decades and have a solid base of strength.

I’m not suggesting you go down to 135×20 when your max is over 400 pounds. It’s simply changing course from sets of 405 x 6 to 315 x 12, working at 60-70% of your 1RM rather than pushing maximal loads.

2. Slowing The Negative

Increased the amount of eccentric work your muscles are required to perform in a given lift.

Emphasizing the eccentric or negative phase of your lifts can ramp up protein synthesis and trigger muscle growth, without having to go really heavy.

As reported at T-Nation, scientists in Sao Paulo, Brazil, say “slow speed” reps can help you build muscle up to 3 times faster than “fast speed” lifting.

After 12 weeks, the men in the slow speed group built three times as much muscle as the fast speed lifters. Interestingly, they also showed nearly five times the progression of strength than that shown by the fast speed lifters.

Here’s an example using the preacher curl bench for biceps.

3. Drop Sets

Use the weight of your heaviest set for 6, drop the weight by 20-30%, do another set right away for 8 reps, drop the weight by another 20-30% and finish with as many reps as possible.

4. Mechanical Advantage Drop Sets

You’re modifying the movement with each subsequent set as the muscle starts to fatigue, without reducing the weight used.

Take dumbbell chest presses. Set the adjustable incline bench to 45 degrees. Pick a weight you can complete for 8-10 repetitions. Complete one set. Upon failure, immediately lower the incline bench to 25 degrees and press the dumbbells to failure at this position. When you fail there, lower the bench to a flat position and rep out as many as you can.

5. Rest Pause Sets

Do a set of 8-10 reps. Take 5-6 deep breaths. Rep out the same weight for as many as you can (it’ll be less than the first set). Take 5-6 deep breaths. Rep out the same weight for a few more. /End set.

6. Partial Reps

Why partial reps? You can go beyond failure and increase time under tension (i.e. get yoked!) without going for max lifts.

Basically, when you get to a point where you can no longer perform a rep fully, just involve the bottom few inches of a rep (1/4 reps) to extend the set and push past failure.

*Use a safe machine (in this case Smith) or competent spotter**

7. Myo Reps

Perform an activation set of 15 reps. Rest for 5 seconds. Each set afterward is referred to as a myo-rep set, where your goal is to hit 5 reps for as many sets as you can. When you can no longer hit that target rep range, the exercise is complete.

8. Density Training

In the simplest terms, density training involves increasing the amount of work you do in a given amount of time, increasing total volume. As you know, volume is king when it comes to building muscle.

You can read all about this training technique here https://www.t-nation.com/training/density-training-for-fat-loss

9. Weighted Stretches

You’ll perform a weighted stretch or an intense static stretch following a movement).

Animal studies have shown that weighted stretches can lead to size increases of 300%. A study reported on T-Nation that I wrote about has shown humans get a similar effect.

To emulate the study’s protocol, use a weight you can lift for 12 or more reps and then let the weight stretch the targeted muscle for at least 30 seconds.

Follow the stretch with 2-3 drop sets, repeating the weighted stretch at the end of the set each time.

Take incline dumbbell curls. Between sets, let the weight pull you into controlled hyperextension at the shoulder for at least 30 seconds. Be sure to flex your triceps at full extension to maximize stretch and tension. Drop the weight and repeat the process 2 or 3 more times.

10. Accommodating Resistance with bands

Bands allow for accommodating resistance through the entire range of motion, matching your strength curve. In other words, the bands are most resistant when you’re at your strongest (i.e. band is fully lengthened at the peak of a dumbbell press when you’re near full extension), challenging you equally throughout the entire distance that your targeted muscle group travels.

This adds a whole other level of difficulty to any exercise, without having to go too heavy and sacrifice form.

There’s also the benefit of eccentric overload, which is a fancy word for putting added tension on a movement during the eccentric/negative portion.
Here’s one example in the video. Double up on heavy bands on the incline hammer strength press. This is a good warm-up exercise to pump blood into the chest and shoulders before getting into your heavier work for the day.

11. Alternating Static Holds

Best done with dumbbells or cables, holding a weight in the contracted or starting position (while performing reps with the opposite arm)

BONUS:

Some Rules Of Thumb For Longevity (i.e. Avoid injury as you get old as F)

1. Always hydrate before lifitng.

2. Warm up appropriately. Don’t walk into the gym cold and go for your heaviest set of squats. Dynamic warmups and pyramiding up and weight is key as you age.

3. Use supportive gear. Don’t be “too tough” to use a belt or wrist wraps. This can make a measurable difference on joint health.

 

The Truth About Fat Loss (3 Stages)

Losing weight is not a linear process.

You may think if you keep doing the same things that helped you shed the first 10 pounds, the next 10 will come off just as quickly.

But rarely does it happen that way.

This past week, one of my successful past clients — we’ll call him Curtis because that’s his name — came to me with a question.

So I gained 4 pounds over the last week or so that I can’t seem to shed. Body hasn’t changed much other than some more leg and arm muscle. Gym on a regular basis still. Did I hit that stand still point? Is it muscle? I’m lost.

For a frame of reference, he’d lost more than 20 lbs and a pant size in 8 weeks as part of my Mansformation 2.0 challenge.

He could wear clothes he used to be able to fit into but hadn’t in some time.

His fiancé noticed he was walking around shirtless – even in the winter (this aversion to shirts is a common side effect of Mansformation 2.0)

But what was happening now?

There’s less room for error as you progress. And as we said earlier, weight loss isn’t linear.

Many think that with just a little more time, the abs start popping and the super hero physique emerges.

Curtis is not alone in that perception – but reality tells a different story.

There are two lines of thought when it comes to fitness…

  1. With just a few changes to one’s diet and exercise routine, you can look like a magazine cover model.
  2. It’s either all or nothing. Getting into shape requires sacrifice, restriction, and mountains of broccoli.

The truth is somewhere in the middle. 

Many people need fitness in their lives. How much of it will depend on your goal (and which stage of fat loss you’re striving for).

Data reported on by Precision Nutrition says the average American is about 28% body fat, and the average woman is 40% fat.

Research suggests men should be sub-20% bodyfat for optimal health, while women should be in the 20-30% range.

Visual representation of bodyfat percentages courtesy jasondoesstuff.com

If you aren’t in that healthy range, how do you get there?

Here are some simple guidelines to follow for each stage:

STAGE 1 (Under 20% for men, 30% for women)

  • Adopt some form of exercise 3 times per week and be consistent over months
  • Emphasize protein and veggies with every meal (fill up half your plate)
  • Eliminate liquid sugary drinks and moderate your alcohol intake (i.e. no binge drinking)
  • Home cooked meals 80% of the time and watch your portions

STAGE 2 (Under 15% for men, under 25% for women)

  • Exercise daily (not necessarily weight training, but sweat daily)
  • Go out of your way to get in extra activity (step counter, take the stairs etc.)
  • Sleep consistently 7 hours a night and manage stress
  • Limit alcoholic beverages to 1-2 nights a week at no more than 2 drinks per sitting
  • Home cooked meals 90% of the time and measure your food (or at least have a good idea of calorie intake)

STAGE 3 (Under 10% for men, 20% women)

  • Resistance training up to 6 times per week plus regular cardio
  • De-stress daily through meditation or self care (massage, steam room)
  • Adopt hunger management strategies (gum, coffee) as you’re fighting tooth-and-nail with your own biology at this point
  • Limit cheat treats to once per week (prepare own meals 95% of the time and measure every ounce of food that goes in your pie hole)

STAGE 1 (20%/30%)

Guidelines

  • Adopt some form of exercise 2-3 times per week and be consistent
  • Emphasize protein and veggies with every meal (fill up half your plate)
  • Eliminate liquid sugary drinks and moderate your alcohol intake (i.e. no binge drinking)

For most, simply changing some foundational habits will help you get to this level of leanness. Of course, it takes time and relentless consistency, and everyone progresses at different paces. This isn’t a quick fix.

But you cannot go wrong starting with three whole body weight training workouts per week, reducing your sugar and alcohol intake, and prioritizing protein and veggies in nearly every meal.

If you’re looking for a place to start, get instant access to my FREE Diet Secrets 2 Page Guide (past participants lost anywhere from 5 to 12 lbs of fat in two weeks) >> click HERE <<

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How do you know things are working in Stage 1?

Keep a close eye on visible changes through scale weight, waist circumference and bodyfat % (if you have tools available to assess).

Most importantly, as you lose weight and enter Stage 1, you’ll experience a number of benefits that you may not have experienced at a heavier weight.

You have more energy.

Are you slogging your way through the day? Midafternoon, you need a caffeine and sugar hit to keep your eyelids propped open and the only bar you’re getting under after work is the one in your basement that holds the liquor. If you have plenty of buzz to play with the kids after 5, you’re on the right track.

Your clothes feel just a little looser.

Adding muscle is a big priority in my programs, and for good reason. Muscle looks great, building it can help raise your metabolism and help your clothes fit better.  That old beer t-shirt doesn’t fit (fortunately or unfortunately?), because your chest and arms are now too muscular for it.

You’re sleeping better.

There can be many reasons for poor sleep: stress, aging, hormonal changes, being a new parent, getting too much light late at night, jet lag, and so on.

But nutrition and exercise can play a role. For instance, if you over-eat heavy meals late at night, it can cut into your sleep. I usually recommend one of my client approved meals 2-3 hours before bed and one of the recommended snacks only if needed.

Alcohol and caffeine can have a negative impact. I usually recommend caffeine be eliminated before 5 pm (some people metabolize it slower than others and I push the deadline up) and alcohol no more than 2 hours prior. You know those nights where you drift into an alcohol-induced slumber and feel partially awake all night? Deep sleep is compromised.

Take home point: Realistically, you could get into Stage 1 of fat loss and work to maintain it and be perfectly healthy (in general terms). But many get here and think “What’s next?”

They want to get a body that turns heads… which takes us to stage 2.

STAGE 2 (15%/25%)

Guidelines:

  • Exercise daily (not necessarily weight training, but sweat daily)
  • Go out of your way to get in extra activity (step counter, take the stairs etc.)
  • Sleep consistently 7 hours a night and manage stress
  • Limit alcoholic beverages to 1-2 nights a week at no more than 2 drinks per sitting

Curtis (our example above) was entering this stage and finding it harder to get results. That’s common.

You’re now pushing your body beyond its comfort zone and further from its set point. Achieving a bodyfat percentage below 15% for men (25% for women) is no easy task, and is definitely harder for some than others. Genetics are a B after all.

Depending on how long you were overweight, it may be a struggle at first to maintain this level of conditioning. You’ll have to make the gym a big part of your routine, prep meals for the day ahead and really hone in on your sleep and recovery (sacrificing some social engagements in the process).

STAGE 3 (10%/20%)

Guidelines

  • Resistance training up to 6 times per week plus cardio
  • Limit cheat treats to once per week
  • De-stress daily through meditation or self care (massage, steam room)
  • Adopt hunger management strategies (gum, coffee) as you’re fighting tooth-and-nail with your own biology at this point
  • Often performance drugs or stimulants required

This is an area reserved for the…

  1. 1% who can maintain this condition with little consequences (likely not you)
  2. Elite bodybuilders getting ready for a contest and models getting ready for a photoshoot (plus normal humans who want to look great for a short moment in time)

The process required to drop to single digits in bodyfat goes against biological cues.

You’ll be hungry. Irritable. Fatigued. On the verge of throat punching that door-to-door salesman. You know, side effects of being “hangry” but, like, all the damn time.

Again, these symptoms aren’t universal but they impact the majority of my clients who approach this goal naturally with average genetics.

We’re not talking juiced up college kid or Chris Hemsworth here – average joes here.

So, for normal humans, chasing a six pack can negatively impact your sex life,  work life and everything else that goes with it.

Sure, if you have a photoshoot or wedding and want veins coming out of your dress shirt, then maybe Stage 3 is worth your time. But I warn you to exercise caution and only go for it if it’s what you truly want.

Many turn to steroids to achieve this look. Others choke down stimulants (nicotine, ephedrine) by the handfuls to curb hunger along the way and suffer anxiety, disrupted sleep and a tanked hormonal profile. Some also sacrifice relationships and become a hermit to get there (I’ve done it).

Look, here’s me at my leanest a few years back. About 11-12% bodyfat.

I just looked skinny with a shirt on.. really flat, but the abs photo on my About page was taken at the end of this diet.

Cool. I had some semblance of abs. But I also had low libido (partly from the diet and partly from ephedrine), poor energy and hated life at times.

Interestingly enough, the last month of the diet I had a massive cheat day every Saturday, complete with 600+ grams of carbs (think kid’s cereal, pancakes, sweets) just to keep my metabolism from tanking.

But I hated the other 6 days of the week.

So, with that said… it’s on you to decide. Which stage do you want? Review the bottom section below to guide you.

What’s Next?

  • Figure out your goals and priorities. Do you want to be healthy and full of energy or do you want to be shredded? Rare to achieve both for any considerably length of time.
  • Decide which stage you want to strive for. Make sure what you can realistically commit to the guidelines that align with the stage you’re focused on getting to.
  • Need a place to start? Download my free Diet Secrets fat loss guide to simplify the whole process and get you started.

Get instant access to my FREE Diet Secrets 2 Page Guide (past participants lost anywhere from 5 to 12 lbs of fat in two weeks).

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