If you seek fat loss but worry that all your six-person limited barbecues might be holding you back from achieving your goals, then this article is for you. I’ll address how to enjoy your summer while still trimming the waistline you’ve quarantined so diligently to accumulate.
One of the most common problems people run into is breaking past plateaus. As anyone who’s ever worked toward weight loss knows, there will be plateaus. Knowing how to navigate through the long deserts of dietary drought to reach an oasis is of critical importance. In this article, I’ll teach you how to strategize your quest for a lean physique so you never get lost along the way, distracted by mirages, and of course, so no obstacle can stop you — not even an Arrakis sandworm.
The Fat-Burner’s Foundational Mindset
No matter where you look, you’ll find experts preaching how important diet is when first starting out. Saying to switch up your entire lifestyle, cut out foods you love, drop any calories possible, and go to the gym every day. No doubt success is a cobblestone path and each cobblestone laid is a habit that allows you one more step toward greatness. These are habits though. Not monuments.
Start small. Build your foundation. Lay one stone after another.
The first stone is falling in love with the process — not to be confused with trusting the process. This includes experimentation. For exercise, pursue your curiosities. Always wanted to try martial arts? Go to a class. Have you considered boxing? Put on some gloves. Same goes for climbing, swimming, or hiking (bonus points to your dating app profile if you hike, you’ll fit right in). Success doesn’t have to be just weightlifting or traditional cardio. However, this methodology has proven itself effective time and time again.
Building muscle is one of the most effective ways to attain peak physical aesthetics, as muscle burns fat, so I’d never suggest avoiding it entirely. It just doesn’t need to be your primary form of exercise.
The Compound Effects: Habit Your Way To Aesthetic Glory
Instead of going crazy, kicking your ass 5-6 times a week, and shooting for two hour workouts each time, take it slow (especially if you don’t love going yet). In his book, The Compound Effect, Darren Hardy writes about a person (we’ll call them Andy) starting off their fitness journey by telling themselves they will walk to the end of the street every night the first week. Andy adds a block to their walk the next week, and then another, and so forth. Second month in, they’re proud of themselves for sticking to their goal of nightly strolls, and figure they might as well add another good habit into their life. They decide to switch out their morning frappuccino for a sugar free caramel iced latte.
By the fifth month, Andy discovers they love walking for its meditative effects as well as benefits in digestive health and fat loss. And they have more energy throughout the day since they cut out their morning “coffee” (milkshake with a hint of espresso). At this point, they wonder if they can take the daily energy a step further, so they convert their daily trip to Mcdonald’s for, well, pretty much anything else. A month later, they sign up for a gym membership. Yoga sounds kind of interesting, and they’ve always wanted a little muscle definition so they decide they’ll attend one class a week, and hire a trainer to teach them the basics.
By the end of the year, Andy loses twenty pounds and on top of that, feels confident enough to continue on.
On the opposite end of the spectrum, we have Joe. One day he finds himself in a slump, missing his high school glory days. He jumps head first into the gym, telling himself he has to go all the time, and he has to meal prep, and you know the doctrine.
What happens? He burns out two months in, and gives up until next year when he tries again (what’s the definition of insanity?). And, the cycle repeats. Note: this method can work for some people, but we’re the rare few and something is probably off with our wiring.
This is all great, but who cares about mindset and tried-true ways to sustain a physique? Not the hardcore, not the short-sighted. Well, good news! There’s more to this compound effect methodology than just the fact that it’s sustainable in the long term. Starting with the basics instead of going all out right off the bat is giving yourself an advantage later on.
What Mario Kart Has In Common With Fitness
Load up on knowledge now. Chamber it for later. Having the techniques available, but holding off on using them sounds like a bad idea, but when you’re trying to scale the mountain and reach an impasse, sometimes all it takes is a small tweak. If you throw out all the stops right away, your body will eventually adapt. You can still push past that plateau when your body does adjust, but why make it harder on yourself?
Think about this way; if you’re playing Mario Kart, the presents pop up throughout the track. Mushrooms for speed, bananas to slip up nearby-behind opponents, and red shells to blast that damn Yoshi off the track. Pretending the race is twelve laps instead of three (because life has more than three laps) even if you could get all the track’s mushrooms at the start of the race you wouldn’t use them all right then, would you? No. Because even when you get a minute ahead of the second placer, someone is eventually going to get a blue shell. And if you dodge the first one, there will undoubtedly be a second and third. The mushrooms I’ll present to you in this article are most effective if used systematically throughout your race.
In fiction writing, amateur authors have a tendency to fall into a trap often referred to as Deus Ex Machina — where a supernatural event conveniently pops up to get the protagonist out of trouble. The solution for this bad habit is a dramatic principle known as Chekhov’s Gun, which states that if you hang a rifle on the mantle in Act One it needs to come back in Act Four. Place the solution early on in the story, so it can be used to defeat the bad guy in the climactic battle. You likely won’t be getting any supernatural help in working for your fat loss goals, so plan your fat loss journey systematically; hang your techniques on the mantle in act one and utilize them throughout acts two, three, and four.
ACT ONE: Fat Loss Genesis
Now, let’s look at the Acts that exist within your fitness journey
I already said it earlier but the first ten pounds will always be the easiest, because frankly your body doesn’t want to hold a bunch of extra fat (just like it wants to hold a certain amount of fat, but we’ll get into that down the article).
Don’t believe me? That’s probably because you’re doing it wrong, perhaps still telling yourself you can’t do it, or because you have some underlying metabolic/hormonal/medical issues that need assessing first. But, I can’t speak to any of those due to not being a doctor and all that so I’ll just base my argument on this: if you look back in time when humans were largely hunters and gatherers, you’d likely find a serious lack of overweight individuals. Obviously part of this would be to the fact that they didn’t have access to food like we do, but also, given their lifestyle, it would be seriously counterproductive to hold a vast excess of body fat. So, evolutionarily speaking, our bodies could have adapted.
All that’s necessary to lose the initial pounds is move a little more, eat a little more conscientiously, and utilize supplementary staples.
Keep it simple. Learn some of the basics; what to look for on ingredient labels so you can slowly gain more knowledge about how different foods will affect you. When in the grocery store, pay attention to your purchases. And as far as switching out, learn from our friend Andy. Find one meal in your day that could be healthier, or one treat you could go without. It doesn’t necessarily have to be the same meal every day, but it is easier to stay consistent if you always know that said meal will be healthier.
You’ve all heard the saying that breakfast is the most important meal of the day. Whether that breakfast is at six in the morning or early afternoon is up to you and isn’t the primary concern at this point in your journey. Breakfast, by definition, means what food you eat to break your fast (i.e. the first food you ingest after a prolonged period of time without food such as during sleep). What’s important is the type of food you eat. I suggest starting with something lower in carbs, and if you do opt for carbs, choose complex carbs over simple sugars. As an example, when I needed to lose fifty pounds (freshman fifteen is for underachievers) at twenty years old, the meal I found the most success with was:
- 2-3 whole eggs
- 1 slice of sprouted whole grain toast
- Coffee, because…duh.
Depending on your preferences and backgrounds, this will look different. But whether you opt for a daily walk in the park, a lifting session, swimming some laps, treadmill, et cetera, the most important thing is to choose an activity and routine that you can stick to. To return to my very humble beginnings, when I decided to lose weight, I started very small. A friend of mine — who’d also gotten fat — and I committed to jogging four days a week. A mile. That was it. But it was easy, and since it took so little time I never felt overwhelmed.
That lasted about three weeks before we had to take it up a notch. Everyone goes at their own pace, though so keep that in mind.
As a quick note, when it comes to exercise sessions, if you have someone who you can journey with, get them on board. A good partner — at least in the beginning — is invaluable.
- Multivitamin: This goes without saying. You can’t build off an unstable foundation, and a full spectrum multivitamin (like STAG or DOE) is as solid a foundation as you can get.
- Pre-Workouts: I know what you’re thinking, of course I’d put pre-workout as a staple. But I was a stim junkie long ago. And to justify my addiction, this belief has proved effective several times. Even now, it comes in handy at least once a week — give or take three times depending on how heavy the crippling depression is. The reason I say pre-workout belongs as one of your first supplements is because there will always be days you just don’t feel like it. I’m not talking about days where you feel rundown. If you’re following this method, you shouldn’t feel rundown at all. I’m talking about those days where your past creeps in and tries to regain control of your life. On those days, don’t think about going to the gym. Don’t let it be a question. That’s a difficult task that requires steps like putting on pants, finding matching socks, and worse, turning off Netflix. All you need to do is go to your kitchen and drink your Woke AF High Stim Pre-Workout. Let it do the rest for you.
- Protein Powder: It goes without saying that if you can switch out one unhealthy snack for an option that doesn’t set you back, then it will benefit you. Go for a protein that uses grass-fed whey protein, low in carbs and fats. Hint: BUCK FEED.
ACT TWO: Fat Loss Progression
This is about where you’ll hit your first plateau. Maybe you’re five pounds in, maybe it’s fifteen. That all depends on where you were at to begin with. These are some simple and small tweaks that can help you hop over that ledge daring to get in your way.
What’s the next easiest thing to change that will make the biggest impact? This is a question you can use as a guide whenever you stall out. This can be anything from cutting out that entire bag of chips you still eat each night — and switching to a healthier alternative like pork rinds, black bean chips, or organic popcorn. Or it might be that, despite your clean breakfast, you still get breakfast burritos for brunch every day (to make up for not eating them two hours prior).
More likely than not, this change will be obvious.
Assuming you’ve been hitting the gym three times a week, this is pretty easy. You can switch up your routine to be a training day: rest day routine so that you never go more than one day without tearing down muscle fibers (consequently improving protein synthesis, stimulating metabolism, burning fat).
If you don’t want to lift more than you already are, try going Andy’s route. Add in a brief 5-10 minute walk during the day, slowly working your way up to do more. Alternatively, try adding in 8-12 minutes of cardio prior to your weight training, and a couple extra sets of abdominal exercises post-training.
Lastly, there’s also the options of finding a class to attend on one of your rest days, or even just getting out to do more throughout the week.
Your supplement trio is already setting you on the right track. But your body has grown accustomed to the dietary changes and the increased activity. It’s grown comfortable. Now it’s time to throw in a little reminder that greatness is not found in the comfort zone. And likewise, no weapon of greatness has ever been forged without some fire. Don’t worry. We got you. These two supplements are built to ignite the flames within.
- HEAT Fat Burner: Revolutionary cellular fat metabolizer. Strengthens the cornerstones of peak body composition: metabolism, thermogenesis, healthy hormones, natural water shedding. And the fifth, a trifecta of energy, focus, and mood.
- RACKED BCAAs: This ingenious BCAA formula combines the best of both worlds: muscle recovery and fat loss. It does this with ingredients like:
- Carnitine and Acetyl L-Carnitine: shuttle fatty acids into cells to be burned for energy
- Gamma-butyrobetane HCL: The ultimate in sweat amplification
ACT THREE: Dialed In Fat Loss
Get it dialed in! Following the same steps you took in Act Two, eliminate foods and change meals one meal at a time, until you get to a point where you adhere to healthy nutrient dense foods 80% of the time and getting a little more lax 20% of the time. You can also employ techniques such as:
- Intermittent fasting: when you cut down your eating window. The most common fast to eating ratio is 16:8.
- Daily body check: Listen to your body. Do a morning check in with your mirror every day upon waking as this will likely be when you look your leanest. If you wake up one morning looking quite a bit softer than you did the day before, adjust accordingly. Alternatively, if you wake up feeling emaciated, then add in some quality nutrients throughout the day — or directly post-workout.
Time to throw in a new form of activity. Do something that scares you. Or try ramping up your volume on weight training. Experiment with various routines and methods of muscle growth.
- Metabolic stress: low rest times, higher volume, holding muscle contractions for extended periods of time in the middle of a high repetition set.
- Strength Train: You’re experienced enough now that you can safely navigate the waters of 3-6 rep range. Try performing exercises with explosive positive portions of the rep followed by slow negatives. Or do the entire exercise with a time-under-tempo mentality.
- CLA (Conjugated Linoleic Acid): This is a simple one. CLA is highly effective when it comes to fat loss, and since it’s stimulant free you can throw it into your daily supplement stack without fear of adrenal fatigue. Studies have shown that it can curb cravings, break up stubborn fat cells making them easier to burn, and even inhibit fat gain.
ACT FOUR: Optimization
You have your diet down, sticking to the aforementioned 80:20 rule, feeling good and can maintain an athletic body fat percentage (8%-13% for men and 14%-19% for women) without much difficulty. If you have a competition or something coming up, then…get a coach. But if you’re simply looking into how to drop into a peeled aesthetic at will, then here is where to start playing with dietary tweaks.
- Prolonged fasting: 24-72 hours. Not to be confused with anorexia, intelligently implementing prolonged fasting is cheat codes.
- Integrate and experiment with diets like keto, carnivore, even plant-based. While I support anyone who wants to jump into a ketogenic diet in an earlier phase, the reason I don’t fully recommend experimenting with diets until now is that in order to experiment efficiently it’s best to have pre-existing experience and knowledge so you have a higher awareness of how different foods might affect you.
- Nutrient timing: This is exactly what it sounds like. Start with macronutrient timing. For example, timing carbohydrates around your workouts, or practicing carb cycling, or even experimenting with when to intake the majority of your day’s protein needs. When it comes to micronutrients, this is quite a bit more intensive. An example would be switching up when you intake foods rich in various vitamins for specific goals.
The techniques I’ll suggest here can be utilized earlier on, but in my experience, when someone introduces them early into their journey, it can lead to overtraining — especially if used too frequently — and even injury. They’re specifically for weightlifting, and revolve around pushing your muscles to failure. Then as far past that failure as possible.
- Drop Sets: Upon reaching muscle failure with a given weight, lower the weight, and continue your set without resting. If performing a drop set on a pin-loaded machine, feel free to start with your 4-rep max and lower the pin by one until your muscles can’t move a paltry 10 pounds.
- Rest-Pause sets: Do a heavy set of an exercise — about 4-8 reps. When you can’t get the next rep, stop, rest for 10-15 seconds, then bust out as many reps as you can — probably about 2-3 reps. Repeat two more times.
- Isolation-Overload Super Sets: Reach failure on an isolation exercise such as cable triceps pressdowns, then immediately follow that with heavy parallel bar dips.
- Cheat Reps: No. I’m not referring to doing an entire set of cheat curls. This is for when you’ve hit muscle failure and can’t perform another repetition of an exercise, like a barbell curl. Don’t sway too much, and focus on giving the barbell a bump with your hips while powering the weight up with assistance from other muscle groups.
By now, you’re probably already at the bodyweight goal you set out to achieve. As you are likely well-aware of, the scale does not dictate the beauty of your reflection. There is correlation, but once you get to this point, the reflection is your measurement of goal accomplishment. Here is where you truly optimize your stack by adding in small tweaks and single compound supplements.
- Beta-Alanine: Increase VO2 max, and decrease lactic acid build up. Split the doses so you take one dose four hours apart from when you take your pre-workout.
- Glutamine: A powerful supplement with benefits in fat loss, muscle recovery, overtraining prevention, muscle preservation, and even cognitive function.
- Phosphatidic Acid: The master key to muscle growth and fat loss.
Start Your Journey
Whether you’re just embarking on your journey now or you’ve been in the game for a while now, add these techniques to your library of knowledge.