Make no mistake, fat loss is big business in January.
Every year, it seems the Christmas tree has barely begun its solemn march to the landfill when we're bombarded by endless ads for exercise machines, books, supplements, training programs, and Dan Marino-endorsed food delivery services, all designed to convince the average fatty that the beach body they've always wanted is just a credit card number away.
Unfortunately, a quick scan of the beach scenery a few months later reveals the cruel reality — the success rate of most January fat loss fads is about as impressive as Marino's empty Super Bowl ring box.
Virtually all the T NATION contributors have clients, athletes, and patients with body composition improvements listed as priority number one. So we rounded up as many as we could and asked them to address a couple of fat loss topics.
The catch was—they only had 140 words max to get the job done, so they had to leave the lab-coat double-speak to the infomercial scriptwriters and just cut to the chase.
Check it out!
Scenario: What are five things I absolutely must do or have in the kitchen to succeed in my quest to see all six of my abs? (Seriously, I know they're in there somewhere.)
Optional: What are three dietary supplements that are a staple of every lean guy or gal you know?
Things to have:
1. Ready-made and portable protein source. Examples include Greek yogurt, Icelandic skyr, packets/cans of tuna or chicken, tubs of cottage cheese, hardboiled eggs, protein powder in a shaker bottle, and Metabolic Drive® Bars. You'll always have something ready to go, in easy reach, and travel-ready in the worst of situations. This way, it's nearly impossible to miss a meal.
2. A week's worth of fruit; same principle as above.
3. Fat sources that don't make you nauseous. No point talking about how important fat is if you can't choke it down without wanting to die. For me, liquid pumpkin seed oil is a go-to.
4. A great cookbook of healthy recipes.
Things to do:
5. Learn to cook diet-friendly meals. Seriously. Learn how to cook at least three breakfasts, three midday meals, and five dinners. Do it now.
And the top three supplements?
1. Protein powder The distinction here is that this is a straight protein, not a meal replacement powder. Aside from serving as the occasional stand-alone meal, lean trainees rely on powders to create meals out of otherwise one-dimensional foods. Powders are quick, easy, and extremely flexible, helping meet caloric needs easily. A must have for anyone trying to stay lean.
2. High grade fish oil People who manage to either stay lean, or get lean time and again are pretty smart. And smart people take a high dose fish oil, like Flameout™. I train a lot of models, and they all take it because it helps with fat oxidation and insulin management, but also improves skin dramatically.
3. Multi-vitamin/Multi-mineral Most lean people have boring diets—that's just reality. Boring diets, while great for abdominal definition, often have some nutritional holes—and a high quality multi can help fill those holes. What a lot of people fail to realize is that NOT having those holes will help you lose fat faster and stay lean longer. Don't neglect vitamins just because you can't 'feel' them working.
1. Grill every man must have a grill to cook meat, poultry, and fish (best case scenario is an outdoor gas grill but a George Foreman grill can help big time).
2. Blender you'll need this to make post-workout shakes consisting of whey protein and other goodies such as dairy and fruit that you can bring with you to the gym.
3. Tupperware this is critical. You need to be able to bring your meat and veggies with you to work.
4. Healthy snacks mixed nuts, seeds, fruit, and beef jerky will help prevent binging.
5. Steamer this will help you make and consume more veggies.
As for the top three lean out supplements?
1. Whey protein good for controlling binging.
2. Fish oil good for controlling inflammation.
3. Thermogenic fat burners good for boosting metabolism.
Five things in your kitchen?
1. Jessica Alba ... try to eat crap when she's looking at you!
2. Jessica Alba ... to burn off excess calories after the meal.
3. Coconut oil to cook with.
4. Olive oil for salads.
5. Fish Oil.
As for the top three supplements, that's a bit tougher as Biotest hasn't found a way to bottle Jessica Alba (yet). I don't think that there's a universal answer, but the ones you're most likely to find are:
1. A quality fish oil supplement like Flameout™.
2. A whey protein supplement like Metabolic Drive® Protein.
3. Concentrated fruit and veggies powder (Superfood for example).
1. A computer to keep a food log. You've got to know how much you're eating in relation to your caloric expenditure in order to see the elusive rectus abdominus.
2. Tea. Be it green or otherwise, make tea the beverage of choice rather than soda or beer. I prefer loose-leaf green tea and cold mugi (barley) tea.
3. Healthy fats. Avocados, olive oil, peanut butter, nuts, etc; all are great for using instead of mayo or other spreads. Show monounsaturated fats some love.
4. Mixed nuts. See #3. Great to have on hand for the inevitable evening snack.
5. Invest in a good knife and cutting board for preparing the fresh veggies and lean meat that should be a staple of your diet.
Dr. Lonnie Lowery
A post-it note or other signage on my fridge, reminding me to set the (automatic) coffee pot for tomorrow's early morning treadmill session. (This "trigger" reminds me of my goals, so I change it every so often.) Oat bran, berries, lean meats, and vegetables at arm's length as well.
As for the top three lean guy-gal supplements, caffeine or related stimulant supplement. Protein foods and supplements for satiety, their "thermic effect," and even their "carbohydrate draining effect". Creatine to keep muscles full while reducing carb intake or "dieting."
Dr. Jonny Bowden
Get rid of everything that's white! Then get a calculator and figure out your target weight times 10. Eat that number of calories and cut your carbs.
As for the top three supplements that virtually every lean guy or gal uses:
1. Vitamin D because it's involved in every aspect of physical performance and mood.
2. Fish oil because it lowers inflammation and pain.
3. Protein powder because it's a great, easy source of protein, which you need plenty of!
1. Cook most of your meals.
2. Eat lean protein, with vegetables and a small serving of carbs for three to four of your meals (think of your plate divided into 40% protein, 40% vegetables, 20% other carbs).
3. Metabolic Drive® Protein with a piece of fruit for the other two meals.
4. Control your portion sizes.
5. Have a serving of Flameout™ with meals 1, 3, and 5 when in a fat loss phase.
That's six meals a day, seven days a week, or 42 total meals. You can "cheat" four times per week tops; but remember missing a meal, or missing the vegetables counts as a cheat because you're off the plan. There's nothing earth shattering or sexy about this type of nutrition program, but the consistency is the "secret." Most people aren't consistent enough. It always works. Always.
1. Get rid of anything that doesn't belong on your diet. You can't cheat if cheat foods aren't available.
2. Scales and measuring cups: you must know exactly how much you're eating if you're going to make progress.
3. Plenty of Tupperware. Anyone with a full-time job knows how time-consuming meal preparation can be. To help reduce this burden, cook all your meals for the week on one or two days and freeze the rest in Tupperware containers. Thaw them as needed.
4. A wide assortment of calorie-free condiments and spices to keep your diet meals from becoming bland and boring. Mustard, hot sauce, Mrs. Dash, garlic salt — all of these are great choices.
5. A list of your physique goals on the fridge (and perhaps some photos of your ideal physique) to constantly remind you of where you're going.
Dr. Nikhil Rao
I'm a junk food addict. So sue me. Here's how I keep from going from a 198 to a Super Heavyweight:
1. Fat free cheese for making nachos and cheese tots. It's a protein supplement, dammit.
2. Fiber-rich fruits. They're filling and very good for you.
3. Coffee and tea. Thermogenic properties aside, there's some evidence to indicate they help maintain insulin sensitivity. I'm usually sipping on one or the other, all day long.
4. Fiber-rich salads before big meals. There's some evidence to indicate that it will limit fat absorption.
5. Eating breakfast. Knock cortisol down and prime the metabolic pump.
Dr. Tim Ziegenfuss
I'll just stick with the supplement choices for getting lean. Some guys and girls are lean regardless of their crappy diet, laughable training programs, or non-existent supplement regimen. For the rest of us, getting lean often requires compounds that are thermogenic, help control appetite, and modify substrate oxidation (i.e. help burn more fat at rest and during exercise).
There are dozens, but a few examples of thermogenic ingredients are caffeine (and any of its herbal forms), capsiate, yohimbine, and synephrine. The list of ingredients that may help control appetite is a bit shorter and includes 5-HTP, hoodia, glucomannan, and A7-E.
Finally, when it comes to modifying substrate oxidation, green tea, rhodiola rosea, and resveratrol+quercetin are good choices. There is some crossover between categories as some ingredients can do more than one thing, particularly when they are combined. Hot-Rox Extreme® is a great example of this synergy.
The WORK required to get lean is usually not done in the kitchen, but I have been known to bust out a few burpees while my chicken is cooking.
There are a lot of components that go into building a lean body, but here are a few that I believe your kitchen absolutely must have:
1. A CLEAN pantry — trigger foods keep your abs in hibernation. Replace cheats with clean treats like coconut milk and Metabolic Drive pudding that will keep you primed for fat loss and prepped to ward off the crap cravings.
2. A STOCKED supplement cabinet. Abs = 75% nutrition + 20% training + 5% supplementation. That 5% can make you or break you. Peaking requires a targeted supplement strategy.
3. A SUPPORTIVE partner, not one inhaling Doritos and saying, "C'mon baby, you only live once!" Ditch them! Find someone equally hot for clean food, insane training, and intelligent supplementation.
1. Eat breakfast, for the love of God! It's no coincidence that people who consistently eat breakfast are leaner than those who don't.
2. Speaking of breakfast, bagels suck. Make an omelet. If time is an issue, either get up earlier or get yourself a Magic Bullet and make a shake in the morning. One of my favorite recipes:
1-1.5 cup almond beverage
1 small apple
1 scoop Vanilla Metabolic Drive® Protein
3. Tired of eating plain, ol' boring chicken breasts? Get a spice rack. Make things infinitely more palatable—particularly when dieting.
4. Food prep. It sucks, no one wants to do it, but it has to be done. Funny how people have time to watch three consecutive episodes of The Family Guy, yet don't have time to chop up some veggies and cook some meat.
Chicken breast, eggs, rice, beef, and oatmeal. I know, it's just basic, bland food, but it works so I stick with it.
As for the three supplements that virtually every lean guy or gal uses? That's easy!
1. Growth Hormone
Wait, you said supplements? Sorry, those are staple items. Supplements are things that "supplement the basics," so in this case:
1. Metabolic Drive® Protein
Before a "friendly forum fight" breaks out, I'm just kidding about my top three. Sorta.