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Your Ultimate Fat Loss Plan

by Phil Kaplan - Special For eDiets

Everyone wants it to be quick. Everyone wants it to be easy. Everyone also wishes it would rain winning Lotto tickets. The day wishes become reality, fat loss will become quick and easy. Right now, effort is involved.

I know what you’re thinking. The fat burner ads, the tummy trimming devices and the happy, smiling people dancing away fat on videos promise it’s easy. So do the diet centers, the drug companies and the sellers of cellulite cream. Years ago, a man I very much respect paid me a compliment I found both accurate and valuable. He said, "Phil doesn’t tell people what they want to hear, he tells them what they NEED to hear." If you want to lose fat, you NEED to hear this!

You can!
You can!
You can!

Oh, wait, there’s also a part B.

It’s up to you to exercise and eat right.

I know, I know, that sounds like such a cliché. However, the problem in the past has been that nobody really told you what exercise and eating right means if fat loss is the goal. Thats about to change. Im about to share an eight-part exercise and nutrition scheme that has proven to serve as the ultimate fat loss strategy.

First, I’ll list all eight parts of the fat loss puzzle. Then I’ll address them one at a time.

1. Perform intense resistance exercise in pre-exhaustive supersets for 30 – 40 minutes per day, 6 days per week.
2. Perform staggered intensity aerobic exercise immediately following resistance for 20 - 30 minutes.
3. Do not exceed 75 minutes in exercise duration.
4. Avoid simple sugars, refined carbs and adding saturated or hydrogenated fats to foods.
5. With a 6-meal per day foundation, use the caloric stagger or carb manipulation for a four week period.
6. Multiply your bodyweight by .55 to determine the number of ounces of water to be consumed daily.
7. Use 100 - 200 mg of caffeine daily for 3 consecutive days per week for four weeks.
8. Take 1 tablespoon of flaxseed oil with the morning meal.

I’ve come to know human nature. People, still believing a quick fix exists, will read the 8-part list and pull out one or two parts -- believing they now hold the secret. I want to make it clear that these 8-parts are synergistic and will be limited in their ability to deliver results unless all eight are in place! Sure, you can run to the health food store and buy flaxseed oil and grab some Vivarin tablets (caffeine) at your local pharmacy, but you’ll likely wind up having trouble sleeping and then wonder why your fat isn’t going anywhere.

At this point, I’m sure you understand. Effort is required, a complete strategy is necessary and there aren’t any shortcuts. If you’re still willing to proceed beyond this point, allow me to warn you. You have much to lose! Namely, adipose tissue (translation: fat).

OK, you’re still reading, so here it is… the ultimate fat loss strategy:

1. Perform intense resistance exercise in pre-exhaustive supersets for 30 – 40 minutes per day, 6 days per week.

While aerobic exercise does increase momentary metabolism, it is a mistake to believe that it is the secret to fat loss. Muscle is metabolically active tissue. When fat is burned, it actually has to be released into the bloodstream and shuttled into a muscle cell, where it is burned as fuel. Muscle, therefore, is the fat burning machine. If you increase muscle mass even slightly, you increase caloric burn, not only while you exercise but while you eat, sleep and think.

Resistance exercise is a vital key to any fat loss program, whether it is incorporated to increase muscle or simply as a method of preserving the size of the fat burning machine. Allow me to define a “superset.” We can break exercise movements into two types, isolation movements and compound movements. Isolation movements, as the name implies, work to isolate a specific muscle or muscle group and usually revolve around a single joint. An example would be a leg extension, where the thigh is fixed in place and a resistive force presses against the shin with the knee bent. The act of extending the knee (straightening the leg) isolates and calls to action the muscles of the frontal thigh (the quadriceps).

A compound movement would bring in assisting muscle groups and is a multi-joint exercise. As an example, a squat would have you extending the knee as you push upward against resistance, but you are also extending from the hip joint. The quadriceps are still involved, but the powerful gluteal muscles are called in to help. A superset pairs two movements, performed one after another without any rest in between. In this type of program, the supersets use a pre-exhaustion technique, pairing an isolation movement with a compound movement. The isolation movement is performed first -- selecting a resistance level that will bring you to a point of momentary muscle failure (where you can’t perform another consecutive rep in strict form) between 12 and 15 repetitions. At that point obviously the target muscle is too fatigued to continue.

Because the compound movement brings in assisting muscle groups to help, you can push the pre-exhuasted muscle further, bringing it to yet a new level of fatigue. This intense type of training increases caloric expenditure (as compared to conventional sets and reps training) and quite efficiently overloads muscle (which is key to muscle development and improvements in body composition).

2. Perform staggered intensity aerobic exercise immediately following resistance for 20 – 30 minutes.

While, as I mentioned, aerobic exercise is not the single fat loss solution many mistake it to be, it certainly has its place and must be integrated into a fat loss program. It’s essential, if you are going to optimize fat loss, that you perform your aerobic exercise AFTER your resistance training. Here’s why. When you are in an aerobic state, which means you’re meeting momentary oxygen demand (as you would if you were to walk, jog or climb stairs) your body has two options for fuel. It can burn fat and/or it can burn sugar (glucose, stored in the muscles and the liver as glycogen).

When you perform anaerobic exercise, which is a short term, all out burst of energy (as in each set of your resistance exercise), your body burns exclusively glucose (sugar). If you were to do an exhaustive aerobic exercise workout before weight training, you would burn stored glycogen. If you deplete glycogen stores, your fuel reserve will be limited for your weight training session. In order to supply fuel, your body might opt to break apart muscle to convert amino acids into glucose, and as you already know, a loss of muscle is to be avoided at all costs. If you do your aerobic exercise AFTER your resistance training, you can utilize glycogen for the weights and then tap into fat stores to fuel your cardio.

Muscle tissue remains intact. It’s also helpful to stagger the intensity of aerobic sessions while keeping the intensity in what is referred to as your Target Heart Zone (THZ). THZ is estimated by subtracting your age from 220 and multiplying the result… first by 65 percent, then by 85 percent. The resultant two numbers would equate to the low and the high ends of your Target Zone, which is measured in heartbeats per minute. When you are near the lower end of the zone, you will burn proportionately more fat. However, when you are nearer to the higher end, you will burn a greater volume of calories. There is virtue, therefore, in staggering the intensity of the sessions. Day #1 might be a low intensity, longer duration session. Day #2 might be a high intensity, shorter duration session. Day #3 might incorporate interval training, where you shift the intensity throughout the session for a moderate duration. Then you return to Day #1 and the process repeats.

3. Do not exceed 75 minutes in exercise duration.

Overtraining is one of the most common and most detrimental mistakes exercisers make. Too much exercise can either lead to a loss of muscle, injury, undue fatigue or excessive connective tissue trauma. By limiting the duration of the entire exercise session to 75 minutes, assuming your body is properly fueled and hydrated (and assuming you’re getting 7 or more hours of sleep as well as some relaxation time), you can optimize the benefit of your exercise session and reduce the risk of overtraining.

4. Avoid simple sugars, refined carbs and adding saturated or hydrogenated fats to foods.

Here’s the “eat right” part. There are notorious nutritional enemies of fat loss -- better known as sugars and refined carbohydrates. Simple sugars would include anything ending in “-ose” (glucose, sucrose, fructose, etc.) and most of the foods we would normally consider “sweets.” Fruit juice, sugared cola, cakes and cookies (even those labeled “fat free”) contain enough sugar to throw pancreatic hormones completely out of whack -- severely limiting the potential for fat release.

Sugar intake can also lead to erratic energy levels, food cravings and sudden fatigue due to insulin spikes and residual blood sugar drops. Refined carbs include white flour and bleached and processed grains. These foods have very little actual nutritional value and the carbs are rapidly broken down into glucose, which takes us into the simple sugar challenge. In addition, they are easily converted into triglycerides and stored as fats. Speaking of fats, the essential fats are vital (as the name implies) but the fats that are solid at room temperature, such as the fats in a marbled steak, butter or the hydrogenated oils found in butter substitutes have little place in an effective fat loss program. By developing an awareness of the sabotage foods, you’ll be equipped to make better nutritional choices keeping fat release at its peak.

5. With a 6-meal-per-day foundation, use the caloric stagger and carb manipulation for a four week period.

It’s not only a question of what to avoid -- but even more important -- your results depend greatly upon what you do ingest. For decades, bodybuilders (who have become masters at shedding fat) have relied upon frequent meals, usually a meal every 3 – 3 ½ hours, amounting to six meals per day (high level bodybuilders often consume up to 8 daily meals). Each meal should contain a mix of lean protein, starchy carbohydrate and fibrous carbohydrate. To amplify fat loss, you can employ a technique Ive named the caloric stagger. To simplify the concept, you alternate a regular day, where you consume lean protein, starch and fiber every 3 hours with a lower calorie higher protein day.

On the protein day, you eliminate the starch and increase the protein size (in each meal) by approximately 25 percent. This manipulation of calories and carbs allows the body to release and access greater volume of stored fat with reduced likelihood of muscle loss (the higher protein on the lower calorie days provides ample amino acids to prevent the body from turning to muscle as a fuel source). In a 7-day week, days #1, 3, 5 and 7 might be regular days, and days #2, 4 and 6 might be the protein days. The end result is a reduction in weekly caloric intake without the protective mechanisms that act to slow metabolism in times of calorie deprivation being activated.

Fat loss is amplified, metabolism stays stoked. This nutritional system works well for four weeks, but to keep the body from adapting, it’s best to return to a more balanced nutrition program immediately following the fourth week. If additional fat loss is desired, consider employing this system again after 8 weeks of “supportive eating” with consistent caloric intake. If you want to do this by the numbers, you can estimate the number of daily calories that might be best during this four week fat burning period by multiplying what you perceive your ideal weight to be by 15 for men or 12 for women. Divide that number by 6 to determine per-meal calories. You might get 45 percent of your calories from protein, 10 percent from essential fats and the remaining 45 percent from an equal mix of starch and fiber (of course on the protein days the percentages shift to higher protein and near zero starch).

6. Multiply your bodyweight by .55 to determine the number of ounces of water to be consumed daily.

Your body is predominantly made up of water. It doesn’t look that way in the mirror, but I assure you, without water you’d be nothing but a pile of assorted amino acids, minerals and some fatty acids. If we were to consider a single human cell, we’d be looking at a molecular structure that’s between 70 and 85 percent water. Water is the primary component of blood. Water transports oxygen throughout the body. Water is an essential nutrient and perhaps the most neglected nutrient among individuals attempting to figure out the best diet.

When you perspire, you lose water and thus it becomes even more vital for anyone committed to an intense exercise program. While the old, but unsubstantiated rule of 8 glasses per day has held up just fine, multiplying your weight by the number .55 would provide a pretty good estimate of the number of ounces of water an exerciser should consume in a day. If you live in a warm climate and/or youre in a hot environment all day, be it for outdoor construction or fueling an indoor furnace, you should make a concerted effort to increase that number a bit further. If you dont want to do all this math and measure ounces, I suggest you always have water with you. A bottle of spring water should be fine. Sipping it throughout the day, even if you are not experiencing thirst, can act as a valuable step in helping to mobilize fat and keep the cells healthy.

7. Use 100 – 200mg of caffeine daily for 3 consecutive days per week for four weeks.

This is not a “must” but research indicates that caffeine can have not only a performance enhancing effect but also a thermogenic fat releasing value. The catch is, this effect has been noted primarily in individuals who do not regularly use caffeine. Using caffeine 30 minutes prior to your workout on alternate days (3-4 days per week for a 4-week period) might allow you to release and burn additional fat. If you are a regular caffeine user, you might find benefit by avoiding coffee, caffeinated drinks and products for 3-4 weeks before beginning this fat loss routine.

During that period of time, work out at least 3 days per week with resistance, at least 4 days per week aerobically, and allow your body’s natural energy systems to restore. You may experience headaches and fatigue for a few days, but after a week or two you should find you can function surprisingly well without your coffee fix. If you don’t use caffeine regularly, you might start out in this four week fat loss period with 75 mg., gradually increasing up to but not exceeding 200 mg depending on how you feel (according to J. Leblanc, some people get jitters when they use even small amounts of caffeine). I want to repeat that this is not a must. However, since we’re discussing the ultimate, it does merit mention as a tool for an extra edge.

8. Take 1 tablespoon of flaxseed oil with the morning meal.

The value of essential fatty acids (EFA’s), namely the omega 3 fats (alpha-linolenic acid) and the omega 6 fats (linoleic acid) warrants a complete article in itself, or even a series of articles. In order to simplify the value of these fatty acids, understand simply that the omega-3 and omega-6 essential fatty acids, which promote performance, contribute to muscle increase and fat mobilization. They also contribute to cell repair and maintenance. These fatty acids are not produced by the human body -- thus it becomes essential that we consume them. That doesn’t necessarily mean we have to supplement.

Essential fats are found in fresh produce, fish, nuts and even meats from animals fed a diet high in natural foods rich in EFA’s. Think of flaxseed oil, which is a source of both omega-3’s and omega 6’s, as extra support to make certain you are getting your essential fats. I’d suggest making 1 morning tablespoon of flaxseed oil (purchase the liquid sold in a dark container that has not been exposed to heat or light -- it should be refrigerated in the store you purchase it from) a habit, and on protein days. Consider taking another tablespoon with one of the mid-day meals.

There it is. You now have the eight parts of the ultimate fat loss strategy. I’ve used this strategy with thousands of clients and customers seeking fat loss for dramatic, sometimes astounding fat loss results. This is incorporated in some form in all of my programs both for athletes and for non-athletes seeking positive physical change. By understanding and employing the eight parts, you should be able to apply this strategy to your own routine.

Phil Kaplan has developed a reputation as one of the world’s most in demand fitness professionals.

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