The Intelligent & Relentless Pursuit of Muscle™

The Get Shredded Diet

07/10/06
Get-shredded

Here's what you need to know...

•  Although this diet is crazy strict, you could lose up to 1 percent body fat per week.

•  With calories extremely low, you'll need a selection of supplements to fill in nutritional gaps and keep your workouts going strong. Do not do the diet with them!

•  Done only once every two years or so, this diet could help prevent age-related fat gain and even extend your life. And it will definitely test your willpower.


A Warning

First things first. The dietary strategy outlined below is extreme. In fact, it's so extreme that you'll likely have to alter many of your lifestyle habits – even those independent of exercise, nutrition, and supplementation – just to tough through it. It's that hard. It's that extreme. However, extreme isn't synonymous with dangerous. In fact, if applied strategically and infrequently, this strategy might even improve your health. And that's why I use it myself – once every 2 years for about 6-12 weeks – to improve my health while getting pretty scary-lean.

My baseline nutrition approach is best known for being moderate, smart, and sound. And that's why 92-98 out of 104 weeks are marked by moderation and good dietary decision making. But that's not what this plan is about. No, this is about presenting an extreme dietary strategy designed to make body fat disappear into thin air in the shortest amount of time. To give you an idea of just how fast we're talking, you should expect body fat decreases of about 0.5%-1% per week when following The Get Shredded Diet. No kidding. And with this rate of progress, you'll actually be seeing physical changes every few days.


The Get Shredded Diet Isn't For Everyone

I can't emphasize this point enough – this strategy isn't for everyone. In fact, if you're closer to 20% body fat than you are to 10%, this strategy isn't for you at all. However, once you've figured out how to slowly and sanely whittle your fat percentage down to the "fairly lean" range (12% or less for men and 19% or less for women) and you've learned the habits that help you stay that way, that's when something like this can be a powerful weapon in your fat loss arsenal.

Simply put, if you're starting out fairly lean, you follow The Get Shredded Diet strictly, you have no underlying clinical problems, and you begin from a good foundation of eating, supplementing, and training properly, this plan will make your body fat disappear before your very eyes.


The Strategy

Below I'll lay out the full plan – the calories, the macronutrient breakdowns, the meal breakdowns, the example menu, the re-feed days, the supplements, and more. I'll even talk about why on earth one might want to get down to 3 or 6% body fat, even if they're not a physique competitor. (You might be surprised.)


The Calories

The goal here is to help you drop 0.5% to 1% body fat per week for between 6 and 12 weeks. The duration depends on how much fat you have to lose and how long you want to endure the plan. With this goal in mind, you know you're gonna have to cut calories. And you're gonna have to cut them hard. So here's your new calorie formula:

Body weight in pounds x 10kcal

Now, does it have to be exactly bodyweight x 10 every day? Not necessarily. Your calorie intake will likely fluctuate unless you eat the same exact things every day. So, if it fluctuates naturally, don't worry if you're at body weight x 9 one day and body weight x 11 another day. You can likely get away with that 10% spread. However, just make sure you stick within this range of calories. Here's a handy table that outlines how many calories you should be aiming for.

Bodyweight* Calorie Intake Bodyweight* Calorie Intake
150 lbs 1500 kcal (1350-1650) 250 lbs 2500 kcal (2250-2750)
200 lbs 2000 kcal (1800-2200) 300 lbs 3000 kcal (2700-3300)

* Of course, if you're in between these weights, do your own calculations, they're pretty simple. It's just body weight x 10.

A couple of important notes on calories:

1. If you're one of the folks that naturally fluctuate in their day-to-day intake and you're not seeing the 0.5%-1% per week fat loss rate, you absolutely have to do two things. First, make sure you tighten things up and are consistent. Second, make sure to stick to the lower end of the range (bodyweight x 9). Some might even need to try bodyweight x 8, if necessary. But start at the 9-11 range and measure your results every week to determine how to change up the program.

2. If you've been chronically undereating for a long period of time, this program won't work as well for you. As discussed, those individuals who've figured out how to stay fairly lean – while choosing balanced meal selections – will do best when they launch into The Get Shredded Diet. So, if you're a chronic undereater, you'll likely need to repair your metabolic rate and hormonal profile before starting this diet. (Good info here.)


The Macronutrient Split

lean-physique

Now that we've established the right calorie range and the conditions necessary before starting the diet, let's talk macronutrients.

Protein should make up between 30 and 35% of your daily intake and all of it should come from whole food sources. This is the case for three reasons:

1. Whole food sources will contain more vitamins and minerals and it's essential to maximize vitamin and mineral intake when on such a low calorie diet. With this level of hypocaloric intake, you'll already be borderline deficient in some micronutrients so don't make it worse by using low micronutrient proteins during this extreme hypocaloric diet.

2. Whole food sources provide better satiety vs. some supplemental protein sources. As you're going to be huuuungry, you'll need every bit of satiety you can get.

3. Whole food sources have a higher thermic effect vs. most supplemental protein sources. Since you'll want to maximize your metabolic rate, you'll want to increase your thermic cost.

Carbs should make up 10-15% of your intake. All of your carbohydrates on this diet should come from fresh vegetable sources (preferably organic) like spinach, broccoli, green beans, asparagus, zucchini, cauliflower, different color peppers, carrots, tomatoes, etc. Again, right now you'll need all the nutrition you can get in as few calories as possible. Every day I'd like you to get at least one serving (1/2 cup) of each of the veggies listed above.

Fats should make up 55-60% of your intake. You should be getting a fairly even mixture of saturates, polyunsaturates, and monounsaturates (this means about 33% of your total fat coming from each). But don't worry, you don't have to be exact. Simply adding some olive oil, flax oil, fish oil, and avocado each day will help.

Here's a chart that includes your protein, carb, and fat intake goals:

Bodyweight Calorie Intake Protein Intake Carb Intake Fat Intake
150 lbs 1500 kcal 113 g 38 g 100 g
200 lbs 2000 kcal 150 g 50 g 132 g
250 lbs 2500 kcal 188 g 63 g 167 g
300 lbs 3000 kcal 266 g 76 g 200 g


Meal Timing

Now that we've established your calorie, protein, carb, and fat goals, let's talk meal breakdowns. This part is simple. You're going to eat 4 food meals each day with your calories evenly split throughout the day. So, simply divide the numbers above by 4 to get your per-meal totals. Another chart to ballpark your meal-by-meal goals:

Bodyweight Calorie Intake/Meal Protein Intake/Meal Carb Intake/Meal Fat Intake/Meal
150 lbs 375 kcal 28 g 10 g 25 g
200 lbs 500 kcal 38 g 13 g 33 g
250 lbs 625 kcal 47 g 16 g 42 g
300 lbs 750 kcal 57 g 19 g 50 g

Now, does each meal need to be exactly one-fourth of the daily total? No! Just make sure that you're splitting your food intake up relatively evenly throughout the day.


The Supplements

Now, perhaps you're worried about muscle and strength loss. Perhaps you're thinking that you'll suffer poor brain function with that few carbohydrates. Perhaps you're worried about nutrient deficiencies. Well, worry no longer. If you use the following supplement strategy, you'll be filling in your nutritional gaps, you'll be making sure to avoid as much brain fog as possible, and you'll be preserving muscle mass quite well.

And this isn't just theoretical. I've done the nutritional analyses; have used this protocol repeatedly with myself and other clients; and promise that if you do exactly what I say, you'll have the best experience possible. So here's what to do:

Supplements #1 and #2 Branched Chain Amino Acids and Creatine

Think of BCAA and creatine as your muscle mass saviors. They'll help mitigate muscle and strength loss and keep your aerobic and anaerobic systems running closer to optimal, ensuring that you don't feel like total dog poo during your diet. You'll only feel like partial dog poo. But at least your workouts will stay productive.

In fact, I've tried the diet without and with the BCAA+creatine combo and have found that the difference is night and day. With this combo you'll feel much better physically and mentally, will still get pumps in the gym (even with this very low carb approach), and you'll avoid gumby-leg syndrome. That's where your muscles, especially your legs, feel flat and rubbery most of the time.

Here's what to do:

For those under 200 pounds, use 5g of BCAA and 2.5g of creatine 4x per day. You'll use 1 serving during strength training and 1 serving after strength training. The other 2 servings you'll use between meals, whenever you like.

For those over 200, use 10g of BCAA and 5g of creatine 4x per day. You'll use 1 serving during strength training and 1 serving after strength training. The other 2 servings you'll use between meals.

Supplement #3 Biotest Superfood

Super concentrated freeze-dried extracts of 18 berries, fruits, and vegetables. Superfood will help you fill in the gaps in your diet. Use 1 serving per day, taken either with or between meals.

Supplement #4 ZMA®

One serving per day, preferably before bed, to take care of common mineral deficiencies during a strict diet. As a bonus, ZMA® will help you get better quality sleep. When following a hypocaloric diet like this one, it's very hard to get good quality sleep for two reasons. First, you'll be getting up to pee about 3-5 times per night. Second, your sympathetic nervous system tends to be amped up constantly. Having an adequate vitamin and mineral intake help tremendously in reducing the frequency of urination and in settling the nervous system at night.

Supplement #5 Fish Oil

Do I really have to expound on this one? I didn't think so. Simply take your Flameout™ every day.

Supplement #6 Hot-Rox®

During your Get Shredded Diet, you're going to need the appetite suppression, thyroid hormone support, and metabolic rate support that Hot-Rox® offers. Plus the energy boost won't hurt either.

Supplement #7 Power Drive®

As a program like this will be pretty taxing on the CNS, regardless of your training program, you'll want Power Drive® to help improve your focus, concentration, and training intensity. Take one serving first thing in the AM and one serving in the evening between meals.


The Example Meal Plan

Physique

Here's my own daily schedule:

Wake Up Breakfast BCAA/Creatine
Power Drive® in 1 L water 3 whole Omega-3 eggs
30 g Havarti cheese
2 pieces lean turkey bacon
0.25 bell pepper
2 oz baby carrots
0.25 avocado
1 cup green tea
1 cup water
Hot-Rox®
Flameout™
5 g BCAA and 2.5 g creatine
1 L water
Lunch BCAA/Creatine Training
6 oz extra lean beef
2 pieces lean turkey bacon
30 g Havarti cheese
2 oz spinach
1 small tomato
0.5 small zucchini
0.25 small red pepper
0.25 avocado
1 teaspoon flax oil
1 tbsp vinegar
1 cup water
Hot-Rox®
Flameout™
5 g BCAA and 2.5 g creatine
1L water
5 g BCAA and 2.5 g creatine
1L water
Post Training Dinner Pre Bed
5 g BCAA and 2.5 g creatine
Power Drive® in 1 L water
6 oz extra lean beef
2 pieces lean turkey bacon
30 g Havarti cheese
2 oz spinach
2 oz broccoli
2 oz cauliflower
2 oz green beans
0.25 avocado
1 teaspoon olive oil
1 tbsp vinegar
1 cup water
Hot-Rox®
Flameout™
2 whole eggs
0.25 green pepper
2 oz carrots
Superfood
Flameout™
3 ZMA®

Now, remember, this is my own plan. If you've got the same body mass as I do and you're training as I am, then this would likely also work for you. And for the record, I'm currently 180lbs (3.9% fat) and am doing 4-5 strength sessions per week at 90-120 min per session, each session followed by 15 minutes of low intensity cardio.

So, based on the diet above, my total calorie intake is falling between 1800 and 2000kcal per day. Sometimes, however, depending on the day, I'll even skip the pre-bed meal, replacing it with another BCAA + creatine serving, taking my calories down even lower. Why would I do that? Why not? It helps me get leaner even faster.

Now here's the critical point of the whole Get Shredded Diet. My plan is consistently producing a 0.5% and 1% body fat loss per week. It's working great, so it's the right plan for me. But it might not be the right plan for you! If you're lighter or heavier than I am or you're training less or more, you'll have to slightly tweak the diet above to match your own needs. These adjustments are pretty easy to do using the USDA nutrient database, found online.


The Re-Feed Day

The part you've all been waiting for – the re-feed. Once every 14 days on this plan you're permitted a re-feed. Here's what you do:

• Pick out your re-feed days for the entire Get Shredded Diet period in advance. Schedule them on your calendar and stay committed to your strict plan, knowing there's light at the end of the tunnel every 14 days.

• Until your re-feed days come, stay the course and follow the plan above with NO DEVIATIONS. After your 13 days in a row of dietary discipline, you'll have earned your re-feed.

• On the 14th day, wake up like it's Christmas morning. And on that day, eat the stuff that you wouldn't normally eat and certainly couldn't eat while on your normal Get Shredded Diet days.

• Now, hold up, killer. This isn't a license to go hog-wild. In fact, to keep things in check, here's a simple rule of thumb. Don't go too far over 3-3.5x your Get Shredded Diet daily guideline. Therefore if you're eating 2000kcal a day, don't go above 6000-7000kcal.

• Lastly, make sure you train on this day so that all that extra energy will go toward muscle-building and recovery.

So what does a suitable re-feed day look like? Well, take a page out of my own re-feed journal.

Breakfast: 6 egg omelet, 2 slices whole wheat bread, 2 pieces of bacon, 3 strawberry crepes, 2 pancakes with syrup.

Training: Mid-morning weight training workout with Plazma™ before and during.

Lunch: 1 large pizza, garden salad, diet soda.

Mid-afternoon walk

Dinner: Large dish of flax pasta with turkey meatballs, big salad, 1 piece of cheesecake for dessert.

Pre-bed snack: DQ Blizzard (PB Cups and Cookie Dough).

And no, I didn't count calories on this day, dummy! I just ate a bunch of tasty, non-diet foods and ate till I was full, without acting like I just escaped from a prison camp. Remember, this re-feed was appropriate for me. If you're 135 pounds you'll have to eat less. And if you're 300 pounds, you can probably get away with more. But don't be a pig. Eat until you're reasonably full – but not stuffed – and eat stuff that you aren't permitted on the normal diet plan. Do this and your re-feed day will be a success.

One more thing: be forewarned. People typically gain 5-10 pounds during a re-feed day. That's okay, it's mostly food volume in the stomach, glycogen resynthesis, and water retention. No big deal, you'll lose it in the next 3 days.


So Why Should I Follow The Get Shredded Diet?

lean-body

One question I get all the time is: "So, why the hell are you dieting so strictly and trying to get your body fat so low?" Follow-up questions include: "Isn't it unhealthy?" "What, are you going to put on posing trunks?" "Why not just stick with 10%? Won't your performance be better that way?"

Here are my own personal reasons (psychological and physiological) for following the diet once every 2 years.

1. To remember what it's like – for myself.

As I've competed as a bodybuilder in the past, I know the level of dedication and discipline required to take your body from 10 or 12% to 2 or 3%. It's extreme and many, many people do not have what it takes to go to these extremes of discipline and will power. Ever since I was young, it took extreme lessons to impel my progress. Mid-sized goals were never enough. I needed big ones. And I credit bodybuilding for teaching me that I had what it takes to achieve big goals. In fact, the lessons I learned from my bodybuilding days have kept me disciplined in every endeavor I've undertaken. So, every once in a while, even if I have no intention of competing, I've got to refresh my memory as to what it's like to be that dedicated to something – and to remain dedicated to that thing even when every ounce of my body rebels against it.

2. To remember what it's like – for my clients.

As I work with hundreds of high level athletes, some of whom are physique athletes, I sometimes need to remember what it's like to make large sacrifices in terms of personal comfort, in the pursuit of physical goals. The amazing thing is that it's easy to forget. It's easy to forget all the work that goes into our triumphs after they're over. As humans, we glorify our victories and, although we wax philosophical about the pain and sacrifice that went into them, we forget what it actually felt like.

Therefore, as a coach, once I've forgotten, it's easy to think my athletes are "wussing out" or are "just soft" if I have very high expectations and they fall short, complain, or look for short cuts. Perhaps they are, but maybe not. Rather, maybe I have to be reminded what it was like the last time I put it all on the line. And when I'm reminded, I end up being a better coach.

3. To keep myself sharp

I find that it's easy to get soft and weak-willed as you get older. You just have test yourself from time to time, especially as you collect a few more creature comforts and watch everyone around you "takin' er easy" and getting weaker and softer in mind and body. Every once in a while you have to make it hard on purpose. Doesn't matter if it's in the gym or in the kitchen.

And while you've gotta be smart about things and stick to your goals, you've also gotta remind yourself that you're a man. You've gotta remind yourself that when you make a promise, especially one to yourself, you've got to stick to it and not crumble like many do. You simply gotta get in there and get it done – without complaint and without compromise. I wonder how many of the people I see every day stumbling down the street have ever pushed themselves really hard; have ever gone the distance, in anything in their lives. I know for a fact that some haven't. And, to me, that's not a life worth living.

4. Calorie restriction may make me healthier

The Get Shredded Diet isn't unhealthy. In fact, it may actually be just what the doctor ordered. That's right, let's consider the potential health implications of short term (6-12 week), infrequent, nutrient dense, energy restriction phases. Wait a second, this plan sounds like a calorie restriction diet. And isn't calorie restriction supposed to be very healthy?

Now, let me be clear. I'm not a fan of long-term calorie restriction. However, there are some compelling benefits associated with giving the organs an occasional break from the high calorie lifestyles most of us weight lifters tend to lead. So, if The Get Shredded Diet behaves as many calorie restriction diets do in animal models, it might actually boost health and longevity.

And before the Pub Med ninjas get all huffy and assert how 3% or 6% body fat is unhealthy, remember the fact that The Get Shredded Diet only takes you down to that fat percentage for short periods of time. No one's saying that we have to get down to 3% for life. Rather, I'm saying get lean every 2 years and after you reach your goal, slowly transition back to normal eating and a more manageable body fat percentage.

5. Body fat removal and detoxification

Adipose tissue is a major storage depot for various toxins. Studies have shown that when some individuals go on a fat loss program, there is an acute release of toxins into the bloodstream. In fact, one study from the 90s showed that a group of middle-aged individuals losing large amounts of body fat had high blood levels of certain pesticides that hadn't been used in commercial farming since the 70s! So, what if we were to rapidly increase our rate of fat turnover and drop a good amount of body fat every two years? Wouldn't that get rid of the toxins? And wouldn't that be healthy to get rid of all those toxins every so often?

6. Vanity and Being Consistently Lean

I'd be lying if I didn't admit there was a vanity component. I'm not afraid to admit that I like being lean and I want to stay right around 10% body fat for the rest of my life. No, I don't want or need to be below 6% for the rest of my life. But, getting down to 3 or 4% for a few months every two years helps me keep closer to that 10% the rest of the time.

You see it happen all the time. People are young and fit. Then, their lifestyles change. Their eating changes. Their drinking habits change. They sit at a desk all day. And next thing they know, they're fat and they don't know what happened. Well, I know what happened. Although most people think the metabolism slows down to a large extent as we age, they're completely wrong. In individuals who stay just as active and continue to eat just as well from ages 25-65, the metabolic drop is less than 0.5% per decade. Compared to the 5-10% drop seen in age-matched peers, that's nothin'.

So it's clear that the body isn't designed to get sluggish and sloppy as we age. And no one just wakes up fatter. Rather, body fat slowly accumulates with each passing decade and you don't really notice it till you're too fat. Well, for me, I choose to pass on the excuses, rationalization, and ever-increasing body fat level. I'll be using this diet every couple of years as long as these lungs have breath. It'll keep me lean for the remainder of my days, regardless of the slow accumulation of body fat that may accompany any lifestyle changes I personally make.

7. Fat loss memory

Although I don't have any evidence that this is the case – well, except for observation and experience with hundreds of middle-aged clients – I'm convinced that going through an extreme period of fat loss causes cellular changes that make it easier to get lean with each subsequent diet. I think of this as the body's fat loss memory.

So, I make sure that every 2 years my body gets reminded of its ability to drop fat successfully. That way, in the future, I'll always be able to successfully manipulate my body composition. With my middle-aged clients who have followed this plan every few years, this isn't the case at all. They can still drop fat quickly and successfully.


So, How Well Does The Get Shredded Diet Work?

Let me give you two concrete examples straight away. This first example comes from my own personal experience. My 2 years are up and it's my time to get rid of some unwanted fat, purge the toxins, and remind myself what it's like to work my ass off in pursuit of a goal. So here are my results from the first 8 weeks:

  Total Weight Fat % (7-site Jackson
Pollock equation)
Lean Body Mass Fat Mass
JB Before 195 lbs 10.5% 174.5 lbs 20.5 lbs
JB After 180 lbs 3.9% 173 lbs 7 lbs
Change -15 bs -6.6% -1.5 lbs -13.5 lbs

So, what's next for me? I'm going to ride the diet out for the full 12 weeks and see just how lean I can get. I'm expecting my fat loss to plateau soon and end up bottoming out in the 2% range, which is almost contest-ready. Then, I'll slowly increase calorie intake, eventually stabilizing again between 8 and 10% fat.

The next example is from my female training partner. She's been following the program along side me and will also ride it out the full 12 weeks.

  Total Weight Fat % (7-site Jackson
Pollock equation)
Lean Body Mass Fat Mass
BC Before 125 lbs 19% 101.2 lbs 23.8 lbs
BC After 116 lbs 10% 104.4 lbs 11.6 lbs
Change -9 bs -9% +3.2 lbs -12.2 lbs


Wrap Up

The Get Shredded Diet ain't nice. It ain't easy. Most of you don't belong on this diet. And even fewer have what it takes to stick with it. However, for those that are left, if you're looking to see what life is like on the lean side, this plan will get you there.

07/10/06