Got some body fat you want to shed, but not sure how to approach it? Read on to learn how to get lean FAST (no pun intended).
The biggest thing that held me back for many years with dieting was fear of losing my "gainz," bro.
Seriously, every time I'd start to diet down, I'd feel flat, psych myself out and go right back to the perpetual "bulking" style of eating for mass.
Did it work? Sort of.. I got pretty big, but I also carried more body fat than I should have.
Essentially, I was choosing to look swole in a hoodie.
Nothing wrong with that... I love the feeling of being big. But there are many drawbacks to that life, including health issues.
Metabolic Inflexibility and Insulin Resistance
Eating excessive carbohydrates is great for putting on size...
It is absolutely not optimal for overall health.
It only took some simple bloodwork to let me know how seriously this can jack you up.
My Triglycerides and Cholesterol were all jacked up, my body fat had gone up (despite training very hard), and my energy was absolute shit without mega-doses of caffeine.
My sleep sucked. I did not feel healthy at all. I was also at my all-time biggest and strongest....
Eating excessive carbohydrates (along with low cardiovascular fitness) can wreck your metabolic flexibility; or, the ability to switch from fat to carbohydrate oxidation and vice versa.
In other words, metabolic inflexibility is an inability to adapt fuel oxidation to fuel availability.
A more ominous term for this is Insulin Resistance.
Insulin Resistance essentially means that your cells cannot respond properly to insulin, and therefore cannot use Glucose in your bloodstream for energy.
This is bad news, as your glucose levels aren't meant to be elevated all the time.
The Solution: Modified Protein Sparing Fast (PSMF)
The endless debate of which diet strategy works the best and/or is healthiest is tiresome.
I do not EVER allow myself to become dogmatic about any of this stuff, and neither should you.
In my opinion (backed up by research and experience), the Modified Protein Sparing Fast is the optimal way to get lean very fast (4-6 weeks), AND improve metabolic flexibility/insulin resistance.
The goal of a PSMF is to lose body fat quickly while preserving as much muscle as possible.
How Does a Protein Sparing Fast Work?
This method of dieting is pretty simple: It should be noted that this is my version of this diet, and may slightly differ from others.
- Eat very low calories (800-1200cal)
- Keep Protein very high, at least 1g/pound of body weight
- All meals should be based around protein.
- Eat single ingredient, nutrient dense whole foods almost exclusively
- Cut out ALL refined sugars and processed garbage.
- Eat minimal carbs, as low as possible
- Shoot for 3-4 meals/day.
- If you're training hard, allow yourself 300-500 additional calories right before or after training.
- NO cheat days. This is a short term diet, cheat days are not acceptable.
- 6 week max if calories are very low.
Refining the Details
These are some additional details that can be helpful:
- A mostly "carnivore" style diet works really well for the PSMF. In particular, red meat is very nutrient dense, high protein and leaves you feeling satiated (full).
- If you're used to being full of glycogen and pumped 24/7, you WILL feel and look "flat" for a short time. TRUST THE PROCESS.
- If you look flat one week in, you didn't lose muscle. You just didn't have as much as you thought!
- Make sure you're eating nutrient dense food, salt/electrolytes, and a lot of water.
- Caffeine can help a lot.. being in a deficit, the energy boost will be welcome.
- If you want to take pictures/peak the diet, spend a day limiting water and salt intake, eat a TON of carbs (no salt), and the next day you should be looking shredded and a lot more "full" when you lift.
- Being hungry is part of dieting to get lean. Accept it from the beginning, and don't start unless you're 100% all-in.
- If you're feeling excessively flat and fatigued, allow one "refeed" day, where you eat additional carbs to let the muscles restock glycogen. Don't overdo it....
Improve Your Cardiovascular Fitness
The other side to this coin is your level of cardiovascular fitness.
As far as metabolic flexibility and insulin resistance, studies have shown that high levels of cardiovascular fitness improve and deter insulin resistance and improve metabolic flexibility.
This is another "dilemma" that a lot of gym bros have. Training your cardiovascular system will not crush your gains, bro... when done properly and in moderation.
In fact, increasing the power of your aerobic system will enhance your training, speed up recovery, and allow you to make additional gains.
Walking, rucking, intervals, and hill sprints can all be pretty simple and effective. Strongman conditioning can be a great compliment as well to a lifting program. Sleds, Tires, Sandbags. ALL good.
Conclusion: Get Leaner!
Taking the time to dial your diet in and get leaner can have far reaching implications on your health and your physique.
Improved metabolic flexibility along with shredded abs is NOT a bad combo!
The Modified Protein Sparing Fast is the best way to get lean fast. It works, is backed by research AND experience, and can cause fast body composition changes that are highly motivating.
As I've said before, progress = motivation. That's why I believe that short term diets like this one are a good idea. Seeing and feeling that progress will resonate long into your future.