Anyone who has dieted has been frustrated. Almost universally, when people attempt a diet program, they lose weight initially and sometimes quickly, only to have the weight come back. And often, they put on even more pounds after that initial tease of success.
Why does this happen? There’s a simple reason, and it cuts to the core of what makes the Body Fat Breakthrough so different from every other weight-loss program: During your initial weight reduction on almost any other diet, you lost both fat and muscle. That’s a key distinction, the muscle factor.
You lose muscle while losing fat. Then, when you regain your lost weight—which almost always happens—you add back only fat because it’s much, much easier to gain fat weight than it is to gain muscle weight.
This is one reason why dieting is such a bad idea. When you lose and regain weight repeatedly, you gradually get fatter and fatter because of the muscle loss that occurs each time you reduce your weight without doing proper exercise.
Your body has a “use it or lose it” mechanism for muscle. If you are sedentary, some of your muscle atrophies and is absorbed. Paradoxically, if your body senses famine (cutting calories), your body will hold on to its fat stores. These are survival mechanisms, and understanding them will help you see the light about how to achieve a leaner body for life.
The moral of the story is this: Do not attempt to lose weight without training your muscles at the same time. Prepare, plan, and persist…and get it right the first time. This article will show you exactly how to do it.
Here are some fundamental ideas that you should familiarize yourself with before you embark on this Body Fat Challenge.
Your body weight is simply what your entire body—which is composed of skin, hair, internal organs, bones, extracellular water, fat, and muscle—weighs. Body weight is measured on scales and is recorded in pounds or kilograms.
Comparing and subtracting two body weights taken over a certain period of time determines weight loss. Weight loss alone, because it includes at least seven different components, can be misleading. For example, it’s possible over several days to become dehydrated and lose 5 to 10 pounds of body weight.
Some diets seem to work wonders quickly because the pounds they shed come from your extracellular water and muscles—two components that you do not need to reduce. The vast majority of people need to lose fat specifically, more than they need to lose weight generally.
The average middle-aged American has layers of fat around the waist, hips, thighs, and torso and inside the abdomen. Not only is it ugly, but one type of fat—visceral fat that surrounds the internal organs—is dangerous, because it secretes unhealthy chemicals into our most important body parts. No wonder fat loss is the most sought-after goal in the entire fitness industry.
If your goal is to lose fat, it’s critical to know how much you have on your body right now so you can measure your progress. I measure a person’s fat with the help of a Lange Skinfold Caliper. Then I record skin-fold measurements at three positions on the body and plug the total into a scientific formula that, according to age and gender, calculates the percentage of body fat. I multiply that by body weight to determine fat pounds. Subtracting a person’s “after” fat pounds from his or her “before” fat pounds supplies me with a person’s fat loss. And fat loss is a far superior body-composition guide than weight loss.
Both men and women need more muscle. More muscle allows you to look better, perform better, and live longer stronger. Muscle also burns more calories, even at rest. You certainly don’t need to decrease muscle from dieting or exercising—which is what happens in numerous programs. Almost everyone who progresses through my program loses significantly more fat pounds than weight pounds. That difference—fat loss minus weight loss—is the amount of muscle a person has built. The specific amount a trainee has built is what I call muscle gain.
Make a Promise to Yourself
It starts with commitment, a promise that you make to yourself to finally get into the best shape of your life. This is an important decision, because you are doing it not only for yourself but also for your family, the people who love you. And aren’t they worth it?
Be aware that the fat body breakthrough program, and losing up to a pound of fat per day, is not easy. It takes effort—but it’s highly achievable. Think about it: Have you ever done anything in your life that was meaningful, that you achieved without really trying? I seriously doubt it. Nothing worthwhile comes from luck or a secret, magic, effortless formula. Sit on a couch, watch TV, drink a delicious smoothie, lose weight. That’s not realistic. If that’s what you want, you won’t find it here. Because it doesn’t work.
What does work is regular effort and a disciplined approach. This program is challenging and demanding, especially at first. But once you get the hang of what’s required, it becomes not easy but what many participants call simple. There’s a difference. Easy means little effort. Simple means it’s not hard to understand or follow.
You’ll be introduced to 6 simple guidelines, which I call Fat Missiles. These are innovative techniques for losing fat. Add in some motivation and discipline on your part and you’ll be able to reach your body-transformation goal by successfully applying my collection of tried-and-proven Fat Missiles to your daily life.
Fat Missile #1: Training
More muscle is your ticket to a better body. So even if you are a petite woman, don’t be afraid of muscle-building exercises. You won’t become muscle-bound; you will develop strength and well-toned, shapely muscles.
What’s the best and most efficient way to add pounds of muscle to your body?
There is a simple and specific answer called negative-accentuated exercise.
That may sound technical, but it’s really very simple. One way to explain negative-accentuated exercise is with a demonstration. Everybody knows what a pushup on the floor is like. You get on all fours, hands on the floor and directly under your shoulders, arms straight, on your toes with back flat from heels to head.
Normally you lower your body and then push back up to the starting position. In a negative-accentuated pushup, however, what you’re going to be doing is only the lowering portion—but you’ll be performing it s-l-o-o-o-w-l-y.
This version is anything but quick and easy. In fact, it’s going to test your muscular power and force you to reexamine old habits. Your mission is to do the lowering phase of a pushup (from the elbows-straight position at the top to the elbows-bent position at the bottom) as slowly as possible. There is no pushing up. Your challenge involves only the lowering. You do the exercise once. Count as you go down. This rating scale will give you a sense of what I mean by slow:
- 60-second lowering time: superior
- 45-second lowering time: excellent
- 30-second lowering time: good
- 15-to 29-seconds lowering time: average Below
- 15 seconds lowering time: an indication that your muscles need a lot of work
Try it right now. You’ll need to outfit yourself in some tight-fitting clothes because you’re going to be on the floor in a pushup situation. A blousy shirt and pants will mess you up, because the hanging material will make it difficult for you to judge your position on the floor.
Here are the directions to follow:
- Get a friend who has a watch with a second hand to help with the counting. Your friend will be on one side of you in a low position where he or she can watch your elbows bend and count your lowering time.
- Get on the floor. Place your hands shoulder-width apart, with your thumbs to the inside. Wear rubber-soled shoes and position your feet close together.
- Assume the front-leaning-rest position, with your body off the floor and your arms fully extended but not locked.
- Keep your legs, hips, midsection, and lower back straight. Do not allow any one of them to sag or arch. Do not drop your chin or extend your neck. The object is to lower your body, as a unit, very slowly—½ inch with each 5-second count—until your chest touches (but does not rest) on the floor and your elbows are fully bent.
- Ready, start: Hold the top position with your arms straight for 5 seconds.
- Bend your elbows slightly and lower your body just a little.
- Hold firmly and lower another ½ inch and then another ½ inch. You should be approximately halfway down in 15 to 20 seconds.
- Focus. Relax your face and neck, and don’t hold your breath. In fact, breathe often.
- Lower another ½ inch and another ½ inch. Keep your torso and hips in line. No sagging! Your goal is to be three-quarters down in 30 to 40 seconds. Your friend should be telling you the time in seconds: 25, 30, 35, 40.
- Fight it when your chest is 1 inch from the floor. Hold for another 5 seconds, if possible.
- Touch your chest to the floor and relax. The test is complete. What was your lowering time?
If you failed to get at least a 10-second lowering time, try the entire exercise again—but this time, perform it on your hands and knees. Doing the test from your hands and knees will be significantly easier than from your hands and toes. From the hands-and-knees position, you should still be able to feel the muscular contractions that occur in your triceps, deltoids, and pectorals.
Microscopic Muscle Tears
If you were successful with the harder version for 30 to 60 seconds—even for as few as 20 seconds—you may have felt some “muscle stretching” across the front of your chest. Don’t be alarmed.
Focused negative exercise, the kind that occurs when you first do the slow lowering part of a pushup, “can cause microscopic muscle tears, which ignite the protein-synthesis process,” according to some of the best exercise physiologists in the world.
In 2009, Marc Roig, Ph.D., head of the Muscle Biophysics Laboratory at the University of British Columbia, and colleagues examined 66 studies reported within the past 50 years that compared negative-style resistance training with normal positive training. With precision, they applied meta-analyses to the data. In the most complete and meticulous literature review on the subject to date, Roig concluded that negative training was significantly more effective in increasing muscular size and strength than positive-style training.
This style of negative-accentuated training involves two 30-second negatives and one 30-second positive. That’s 1½ repetitions in 90 seconds. This is an intense but productive method of training.
There are about 650 named muscles in our bodies, and those muscles are divided into billions of tiny fibers. When a muscle grows, it increases the size of the involved fibers. The number of fibers doesn’t increase, the size of them does, and this is what’s known as hypertrophy.
The opposite of hypertrophy is atrophy. Disuse atrophy is when muscles shrink, or waste away, from lack of use. If a bodybuilder sat on the couch watching TV for a couple of months, his muscles would atrophy. The same goes for anyone—big muscles or not.
A Little Here, A Little There
Atrophy, however, is not selective. It happens throughout your body, from all of your major and minor muscles. Perhaps 2 pounds shrink from each thigh; another pound shrinks from each buttock, along with a couple of pounds from your back, chest, and shoulders and half a pound from each arm and each calf; and finally, the remaining several pounds shrink from around your lower back, midsection, and neck.
Besides making you look and feel weaker, this disuse is likely to manifest itself in a physical ailment such as osteoarthritis, a degenerative disk, or even a heart attack. From there, it’s usually a steady downward spiral. Muscle is that important to good health.
The shrinkage of muscle tissue from disuse involves metabolic breakdown of muscle into its constituent compounds, which are removed by the bloodstream. Atrophied muscle does not turn into fat. Muscle and fat are composed of different cells, and it’s impossible to turn one into the other. Muscle cells that atrophy simply lose their fluids, become smaller and weaker, and lessen their ability to contract.
However, the fattening process affects the body in multiple ways. When the skin folds fill in, the girth and appearance of the limb can be similar to before, if not larger. The structure of the muscle also changes internally, with fat developing within the muscle. Fat hampers muscle function, reducing its ability to contract. When you lose muscle and what you have left becomes infused with fat, your ability to move and generate force is compromised.
Don’t Ignore Your Muscles
Having bigger, stronger muscles may not be a panacea, but of all the factors over which you have some control, it is a critical one. Many of the aches and pains of old age can be averted. It is important that you understand the perils of ignoring muscle.
If you ever fractured a limb and spent several weeks in a cast, you have experienced a rapid atrophying of muscles from total immobility, along with accompanying pain in the joints. Without proper exercise, many of us place our entire bodies into a cast of sedentary living. The effects progress more slowly than what we experience with a fractured arm, but the results are just as damaging.
Let’s say you trip over a rock while walking. Your muscles’ ability to react and contract, to move and support your skeleton so you can upright yourself, may mean the difference between catching your balance and slamming your head into the sidewalk. When you get into your eighties and nineties, muscle atrophy may keep you from rising out of a chair without someone’s help.
With negative-accentuated training, you can put a stop to the regression and actually reverse the process. You can rebuild atrophied muscle and even build your muscles larger and stronger than they’ve ever been.
More Muscle Means Less Fat
Add a pound of muscle to your body and your resting metabolic rate goes up 37.5 calories per day. Lose a pound through disuse atrophy and the opposite applies: Your rate is lowered by 37.5 calories per day.
Interestingly, a pound of fat also has a metabolic rate: approximately 2 calories per day. Muscle is 18.75 times as active metabolically as the same amount of fat.
You’ve probably noticed that it is more difficult to shed excess fat than it used to be. Long-term metabolic studies reveal that an average individual experiences a 0.5 percent reduction in metabolic rate each year between 20 and 50 years of age. The gradual loss of muscle mass is primarily responsible for this metabolic slowdown.
Certainly, controlling your dietary calories is an important aspect of combating creeping obesity. But equally important is rebuilding the size and strength you had at one time throughout your skeletal muscles. Are you stuck with excessive fat cells and withered muscles? It’s time to muscle your fat away with negative-accentuated exercise.
Also Check: Best Way to Lose 15 Pounds in 20
Fat Missile #2: A Cold Burn
Imagine this: A 500-pound male black bear asleep in a cave in the mountains. This bear has a heavy coat of fur and, underneath, a thick layer of fat that helps him maintain his body temperature for 3 months through the winter. But as spring arrives and the temperatures rise, he awakes and lumbers outside the cave.
Question: How does a 500-pound, well-insulated bear move around actively, find food, and protect himself without overheating?
For years, that was a question that bugged H. Craig Heller, Ph.D., and Dennis Grahn, Ph.D., biologists at Stanford University. Heller and Grahn finally discovered that bears and, in fact, nearly all mammals have built-in radiators: hairless areas of the body with networks of veins close to the surface of the skin that help dissipate heat when the time is right.
Dogs have them in their tongues; elephants, in their ears; and rats, in their tails. When you examine a thermal scan of a bear, the animal is almost indistinguishable from its background, except…the pads of its feet and the tip of its nose look as though they are on fire.
Networks of veins in these areas have highly variable blood flow, ranging from almost none in cold weather to 60 percent of cardiac output in hot weather or during vigorous activity. They help our woolly bear keep from overheating in spring and summer.
In humans, the veins are prevalent in several places: the face, the feet, and— the most prominent radiator structures—the palms of the hands. Knowing how these temperature regulators work has practical applications in medicine and physical therapy.
It was the first week of September 2012 when I read the news from Stanford University about black bears, the networks of surface veins that radiate heat, and the vacuum cold glove. That wasn’t the first time, however, I’d heard about the physiological benefits of getting cold.
In 1972, at the Olympic Games in Munich, Germany, I heard discussions about Olympic wrestlers from Middle Eastern countries sleeping in cold environments, with no clothes nor covers, to lose a couple of extra pounds of fat before their official weigh-ins. These wrestlers said that an almost-shivering state-required three times as many calories, compared with sweating, to keep the body regulated.
Ten years later, I read about a study in which subjects submerged themselves chin deep in cold water and burned more calories than normal, in an attempt to lose fat faster. Those two bits of information prompted me in 1985 to recommend to my fat-loss research subjects the concept of keeping cool, as opposed to sweating, to burn more calories each day.
Here are some additional guidelines to practice if you take the plunge:
- Be conservative with the water temperature. Most rehabilitation specialists recommend a water temperature of 54° to 60°F. GHF keeps their cold plunge at 52° to 54°F.
- Don’t assume that colder is better. Spending time in water colder than 52°F can be dangerous. On the other hand, 60° to 75°F water can still be beneficial.
- Keep your feet and hands underwater.
- Stay in the cold plunge for 5 minutes initially. Gradually work up to 7 to 8 minutes. Do not exceed 10 minutes.
- Ease out of the cold plunge and wait 5 minutes before you shower.
If you don’t have access to a cold plunge, I don’t expect you to jump in a lake. There are other ways to reap similar benefits. Try these:
Take a cold shower. Ease into a hot shower and let the hot water hit your entire body for 2 minutes. Step out of the hot water and apply shampoo to your hair. Lather up your head. Switch the water to pure cold and rinse your head and face alone. Rotate and back quickly into the cold water. Focus the spray on your lower neck and upper back. Maintain this position for 1 to 3 minutes. As you acclimatize, soap the rest of your body. Turn around and rinse normally. Exit the shower, shivering as you go, and towel yourself dry.
Put an ice pack on your neck. Icing down your neck may activate what’s known as brown fat, a special adipose tissue fat that helps get rid of excess calories as heat.
I read about the calorie-burning effects of brown fat more than 30 years ago. Brown fat is brownish in color and appears to be derived from the same stem cells as muscle tissue.
Fat Missile #3: Carbohydrate-Rich Meals
Here are my nutritional guidelines for losing fat:
- Consume a diet high in complex carbohydrates. Carbohydrates should constitute 50 percent or more of your total daily calories. Eat multiple servings each day of vegetables, fruits, whole grains, and legumes.
- Maintain a moderate protein intake. Protein should make up about 25 percent of your total daily calories if you are trying to lose fat. If you are trying to maintain your leanness, your protein can go down to 10 to 15 percent and carbohydrates can move up to 60 to 65 percent. Choose low-fat sources of protein.
- Keep your total fat content at 25 percent of your daily calories. Limit your intake of fat by selecting lean meats, poultry without skin, fish, and low-fat dairy products. In addition, cut back on vegetable oils and butter—or foods made with these—as well as mayonnaise, salad dressings, and fried foods.
- Avoid too much sugar. Many foods that are high in sugar are also high in fat. Sugar also contributes to tooth decay. (Note: I did not say no white sugar or sucrose. White sugar in small amounts not only improves the taste of many foods but is acceptable on my eating plan.)
- Don’t drink alcohol. Excess alcohol consumption can lead to a variety of health problems. And alcoholic beverages can add many calories to your diet without supplying other nutrients.
- Drink more water, plain and cold, especially if you are trying to lose fat.
These guidelines can still be somewhat general. After looking past 3 decades, I’ve discovered some interesting behaviors with dieters that, when incorporated, can make the eating process more specific.
- Dieters can eat the same breakfast and lunch each day for 6 weeks or longer without tiring of it. After 6 weeks, they like a second choice for lunch.
- Approximately 75 percent of dieters can adapt to a meal-replacement shake for breakfast or lunch.
- Dieters like a little variety—at least three selections—for dinner.
- Approximately 90 percent of dieters like the convenience of frozen microwave meals for dinner.
- Dieters like between-meal snacks.
Fat Missile #4: Descending Calories
“All calories have measurement and meaning.”
Despite what some authors of popular diet books will tell you, calories count in the weight-loss game. Once a calorie-containing food is consumed, there is no way to weaken, discount, or bypass the effect inside the body.
The laws of thermodynamics are constant, and all things in nature—including human metabolism, muscles, nerves, the heart, and even genes—are governed by thermodynamics.
How Many Calories Per Day?
Most of the people I’ve worked with in my weight-loss studies find success on daily calorie levels of 1,800 to 1,200 for men, depending upon body size, and 1,500 to 1,000 for women.
During a 6-week program, I like to descend the calories by 100 every 2 weeks. Such a gradual reduction makes your body more efficient at the fat-burning process.
So I recommend that you try the same, with a descent as follows:
- Men: 1,600 to 1,500 to 1,400
- Women: 1,400 to 1,300 to 1,200
Fat loss speeds up when you eat small meals. There’s a thin line between a small meal and a medium one. I draw that line at 400 calories for women and 500 calories for men.
The trick to consuming less food (calories) without feeling hungry is regular fuel-ups to keep your belly satisfied. The goal is six small, evenly spaced meals a day. This means that no more than 3 hours should elapse between eating episodes. Breakfast, lunch, and dinner are three eating episodes, and there are snacks at midmorning, midafternoon, and at night.
Fat Missile #5: Super hydration
You need more water because you belong to dehydration nation. Most Americans are walking around dehydrated. We just don’t drink enough of the stuff that’s so critical to the proper functioning of our bodies. And when we do drink, it’s often those sugary beverages that taste great but don’t necessarily quench our bodies’ thirst for H2O.
Your Water Is Showing
The adult human body is made up of 50 to 65 percent water. But not all body components have the same water percentage. Your blood, for example, is 83 percent water, your brain is 75 percent, your muscle is 72 percent, your skin is 71 percent, your bone is 30 percent, and your fat is 15 percent.
As your body experiences dehydration, you feel it first in the systems that contain the most water. For example, you lose your mental alertness and suffer from overall muscular weakness. The last component that dehydration affects is your fat. That’s why excessive sweating makes almost no dent whatsoever when you’re attempting to reduce your body-fat percentage.
Men have more water in their bodies than women, primarily because men have more muscle mass and less fat than women do. A lean man with a body weight of 180 pounds may have 14 gallons of water in his system. A gallon of water (128 fluid ounces) weighs approximately 8 pounds, so simple multiplication (8 × 14) reveals that 112 pounds of this man’s body is water.
You may not think of water as food, but it’s the most critical nutrient in your daily life. You can live only a few days without it. Every process in your body requires water. For instance, water:
- Acts as a solvent for vitamins, minerals, amino acids, and glucose
- Carries nutrients through the system
- Makes food digestion possible
- Lubricates the joints
- Serves as a shock absorber inside the eyes and spinal cord
- Maintains body temperature
- Rids the body of waste products through the urine
- Eliminates heat through the skin, lungs, and urine
- Keeps the skin supple
- Assists muscular contraction
Fat Missile #6: After-Dinner Walking
I’m not a big fan of walking as a productive practice for any component of fitness. Walking does nothing for your muscular strength or joint flexibility. It can produce a limited benefit to your cardiovascular endurance, but not efficiently.
And walking is not an efficient way to burn calories. So you should cross off walking as a legitimate fat-loss technique—right?
No, no, no. Not so fast!
But you have to stay with me for several minutes as I recover a 1989 study from J. Mark Davis, Ph.D., and his colleagues at the University of South Carolina’s department of exercise science.
Eat a Meal, Walk a Mile
Davis measured and compared seven subjects’ calorie burn for 3 hours after completing the following routines: walking only, walking before a meal, and eating a meal before walking. The overall results revealed that the meal-walking routine increased calorie burn among the participants by an average of 30 percent, compared with the other treatments.
The university researchers concluded that going for a walk after you eat triggers what’s known as exercise-induced postprandial thermogenesis, and we know now that thermogenesis is a welcome word. It simply means “production of extra body heat created by exercising on a full stomach.”
After a thorough review of the literature on this subject, I was pleased to find that other researchers had studied the effect, and they, too, found that taking a walk after eating a meal can speed up heat production temporarily by as much as 50 percent.
I found the following eating-walking-sipping routine to be most effective:
- Have your evening meal.
- Begin your walk within 15 minutes after you finish eating.
- Walk at a leisurely pace for 30 minutes—not 29 nor 31, but exactly 30 minutes. What distance should you walk? A leisurely pace should cover
- 1½ miles, which translates to a speed of 3 miles per hour.
- Carry your insulated water bottle with you. Sip 16 ounces of cold water as you walk.
- Wear well-constructed, well-cushioned walking or running shoes. Do not wear street shoes.
- Dress in lightweight, comfortable clothes.
- Walk outdoors, if possible, on level ground. Or you may substitute a bicycle ride for a walk. If the weather is a problem, you may walk indoors or use an exercise bike, treadmill, or elliptical.
- Do the above each day for 42 consecutive days.
Try this eating-walking-sipping routine each day for the 6-week and you’ll be hooked on a leisurely walk after dinner as a healthy habit for life.
What about substituting running for the daily walk?
No, running is too vigorous an activity. You could also easily upset your stomach if you try to run immediately after your evening meal. The idea is to turn up your body heat without upsetting your digestion. Walking is the best choice.
For breakfast, can I substitute a fresh bagel from my local deli for the recommended store-bought variety?
No, unless the calories are the same. Unfortunately, most deli bagels contain from 50 to 100 percent more calories than the allowed-for 240 calories.
How many grams of fat should I eat each day?
Men involved in the Breakthrough program average 1,500 calories per day and approximately 40 grams of fat over 6 weeks. Women average 1,300 calories and 35 grams of fat per day on the 6-week program. While you can certainly get too much fat from the food you eat, you can also get too little. A few women in our program were guilty of trying to cut too much fat. Thirty-five to 40 grams of fat per day works well for fat loss, nutritional well-being, and meal satisfaction.
Can a vegetarian follow your eating plan?
Yes, here are some ways that they adapt the basic menus:
- Sandwiches and salads: Instead of meat, use tofu or black beans.
- Soup: Instead of Healthy Choice Chicken & Dumplings, try Healthy Choice Garden Vegetable.
- Frozen microwaveable meals
Will I get better fat-loss results if I extend the daily walk past the recommended 30 minutes?
Thirty minutes was chosen because it does not deplete significant amounts of your recovery ability. Remember, your body must be well rested to provide all the chemicals necessary for maximum fat loss and maximum muscle gain to occur. It’s easily possible on a reduced-calorie diet, if you’re not careful, to start burning the candle at both ends. Do not walk more than the recommended 30 minutes each day.