The Winning Formula: How To Manipulate Your Diet & Exercise To Look Great Naked - Part 2!

I have yet to meet a healthy man or woman that couldn't use more protein in his or her diet. It's high time we drop our prejudiced attitude toward protein and start giving it the respect it deserves.

In Part 1, I presented a brief history of the weight-loss industry as well as some of the scientific research that's contributed to our knowledge of how to optimally reduce body fat while preserving lean mass.

In that article I made it clear that dieting alone is a terrible way to go about losing weight. Ideally, in order to lose weight, one would incorporate resistance exercise, anaerobic exercise, and aerobic exercise, in addition to a mild hypocaloric diet.

Now, as a T-mag reader, this information shouldn't come as a surprise to you and may simply serve as a review. However, in this article, I'd like to present an interesting model for how to optimize your exercise and nutritional intake for fat loss. This model has been particularly effective in many of my athletes as well as my clients interested in a fat loss program that enhances muscle definition.

Exercise Errors

While different trainees have their individual struggles with trying to lose body fat, there seems to be a real pattern as to why most trainees fail at getting in the best shape of their lives. They are simply focusing on the wrong variables in the equation. Let me explain what I mean.

Typically when a client comes to me and can't figure out why they can't lose fat, they assume that their diet is the problem. Most of these people believe that their training is top notch and that if they just got their diet in order, they would look great. Well contrary to what you might expect, the first thing I examine is their training program, not their diet.

Now, I know you're thinking that since I'm the "nutrition guy," I should be looking at the diet first. That's a mistake. As demonstrated time and time again throughout the literature, dropping caloric intake too low has some very unfavorable implications for tissue turnover, metabolism, body composition, and performance. Therefore, the last thing I want to do with a client is drop their calories. So I look to their exercise program. And what I find is that most often, small changes in their exercise routine are enough to get them losing fat again; this without any significant reductions in energy intake.

So what's wrong with most of their programs? Well, I typically find one of two errors. First, they're simply not exercising enough. Now I know that recovery is the buzzword in the weight training industry, but I want you T-men to understand a very important truth. You see, in today's mechanized society, we're all sedentary. That's right, all of us, myself included.

The reality is that the most active of us simply superimpose a dose of exercise over our inactive lifestyles. And just like a dose of your favorite pharmaceutical substance, there's a dose response relationship (i.e. as the dose increases, the response increases). In the case of exercise, as exercise duration increases, fitness increases and fatness decreases.

Now, just like your favorite pharmaceutical, it's important to realize that once you increase the dose over a specific threshold, you get toxicity. So although I think that many trainees can improve their physiques with a bit more time in the gym, it's very important to determine how to maximize the dose-response relationship without getting into the "toxic" range.

The other error is that many trainees put in their time but simply fail to achieve the intensity necessary for the training response.

As Ian King says, "a common error that some people make is that they mistake training for the training response." In other words, they believe that because they are putting in their time, they are going to get positive, muscular adaptations and body-composition changes.

Ian at a seminar.

That's like saying that showing up for a test and putting your pencil to the paper will guarantee an "A." These individuals need to learn how to realize the training response.

    Check out a great interview with Ian King, here.

In recognizing these two problems, I've developed a training model that should maximize the dose response relationship while allowing the trainee to benefit from the training response. This model is discussed below.

Exercise Model

In this exercise model I expect trainees to devote 7.5 hours per week to their training. The training time will break down as follows:

Strength Training (5 hours - 67%)

The strength-training component of this program has three specific goals:

  1. Maintain muscle mass while eating a slightly hypocaloric diet.
  2. Maintain muscle strength while eating a slightly hypocaloric diet.
  3. Burn a sufficient amount of calories during the workout.

To achieve these goals the trainee must first focus on maintaining heavy loads. Therefore the weight that the client can handle must not decrease as the weight-loss stage progresses. Now we all know that some strength is lost when dropping body weight. However, the weight handled must still remain high despite this.

So how can you maintain the weight lifted when losing muscle strength? Well that's easy. My suggestion is for clients to increase the volume of work by increasing the number of sets as the reps decrease. Therefore if a client can bench press 225 for 3 sets of 6 reps and strength begins to diminish, that client must stay with 225 but may have to do 6 sets of 3 repetitions - whatever it takes to maintain the load.

The second focus of the strength component should be to utilize adequate but not excessive rest between sets. Basically, you rest as long as it takes to recover from your previous set and maintain the load. I've found that 2-3 minutes is typically adequate.

The third focus of the strength component should be to limit muscle-protein degradation caused by the exercise. Since the client will be on a slightly hypocaloric diet, recovery from intense exercise will certainly be impaired. Therefore highly damaging exercise bouts will lead to muscle wasting.

In order to prevent excessive damage, the eccentric portion of the lift should be minimized. One simple way to do this is to speed up your negatives. This will prevent excess muscle damage, damage that the hypocaloric diet cannot compensate for.

The final focus of the strength component should be on performing energy costly, metabolic exercises. Therefore, multiple-joint exercises using many muscle groups (bench press, squats, dead lifts, cleans, and bent over rows) must be the focus of this strength-training phase.

Anaerobic Interval Training (1.5 hours - 20%)

The anaerobic (interval) phase of this exercise program is in place for the following reasons:

  1. Anaerobic intervals lead to a large caloric expenditure during the exercise but also a large EPOC (post exercise metabolic rate).
  2. Anaerobic intervals lead to increased aerobic, anaerobic, and ATP-PC enzyme activity. These enzymes are responsible for regulating the energy pathways of the muscle. By up-regulating these enzymes, you'll burn more fat and carbohydrates.
  3. Anaerobic intervals can lead to increased muscle size in the working muscles.
  4. Anaerobic intervals lead to an increased SR (sarcoplasmic reticulum). The SR is responsible for the calcium balance and contractile regulation of the muscle.
  5. Anaerobic intervals can lead to an increased % of FT (fast twitch) fibers (IIA) and a loss of the ST (slow twitch) fibers (I). The fast twitch fibers are better suited to strength and power as well as growth.
  6. Although this last one probably doesn't matter very much (since most post-exercise hormonal responses are much too short lived to offer any significant benefit), anaerobic intervals do lead to increased concentrations of Testosterone (38%) and GH (2000%) in the blood shortly after exercise.

In order to most effectively train the anaerobic system, intensity is the key to your progress. If you go too intensely, you won't be able to complete the workout. If your intensity isn't high enough, you'll not get the appropriate training adaptations. One way to determine the appropriate training intensity is to do an incremental exercise test to failure.

On a treadmill, this means running at a constant rate of 7 miles per hour. After each minute of exercise, you'll increase the grade of the treadmill by 1% until you simply cannot stay on the treadmill. The incline at which you fail represents your max work rate. For most people, this is somewhere between 9% and 15%, giving them a max work rate of 7 miles per hour at a 9-15% grade. Once you have determined your max, I want you to do your intervals at this intensity using 1:3 ratio of exercise to rest.

Typically I recommend 30 seconds of all out exercise followed by 90 seconds of passive (low intensity exercise). If you use running as your mode of exercise, I suggest running at your max for 30 seconds and then at 50% of your max for 90 seconds.

If running isn't your bag, rowing and cycling are also good modes of exercise for your anaerobic training (however it's more difficult to determine your max on these modes of exercise). Your total duration for your anaerobic workouts should be 30 minutes, meaning that you'll complete 15 sprints during this time. Ouch!

Aerobic Training (1 hour - 13%)

And finally, the aerobic phase of this program is in place for the following reasons:

  1. Aerobic exercise is the most energy costly exercise.
  2. Aerobic exercise can increase maximal oxygen consumption during any given work intensity (and therefore fat metabolism during any sub maximal work intensity)
  3. Aerobic exercise can increase the aerobic/oxidative enzymes by 40-50%. This leads to better fat burning at rest and during exercise.
  4. Aerobic exercise can lead to an increase in capillary density by 50%. This means more blood flow to the working muscles.
  5. Aerobic exercise can lead to an increased reliance on fat metabolism while sparing glycogen.

Fortunately, the aerobic exercise prescription is much easier to follow than the anaerobic prescription. Using your heart rate as an indirect marker of oxygen consumption and intensity, I suggest that clients exercise at 84% of their heart rate max (calculated as 220-age) for 30 minutes. Again, rowing, cycling, and running are great modes of exercise here.

Putting It All Together

With the rationale for each training component in place, I'd like to show you what an example training week would look like.


    Upper Body Workout (1.25 hour)-14 to 16 total sets (focus on pulling movements)
    Anaerobic Training (30min)


    Lower Body Workout (1.25 hour) - 14 to 16 total sets (focus on quad dominant)
    Aerobic Training (30min)

Wednesday - Off


    Upper Body Workout (1.25 hour) - 14 to 16 total sets (focus on pushing movements)
    Anaerobic Training (30min)


    Lower Body Workout (1.25 hour)-14 to 16 total sets (focus on hip dominant)
    Aerobic Training (30 min)


    Anaerobic Training (30 min)

Sunday - Off

NOTE: Aerobic and anaerobic workouts are optimally done separately from the weight workouts. However, they can be done immediately after weight training if you're particularly masochistic. The most important thing here is that you do them, not necessarily when you do them.

Nutrition Errors

After correcting any exercise problems, the next step in evaluating a client's fat loss strategy is to examine their nutritional intake. But again, even in this respect, the client comes to me with faulty thinking. They believe that if I could just tell them exactly how many calories to eat, they'll start dropping pounds quickly. However, I again do the opposite of what they expect I'll do. Instead of counting calories, I evaluate their food choices. Again, there seems to be a common theme in those who fail to get in great shape. They focus on the wrong variables and make these three common mistakes:

Awhile ago, a guy came to me after getting fat while "following" my Don't Diet plan. While he got the calorie counting part down, he was choosing atrocious foods to eat while "on the program." And this led to fat gain instead of loss! Now, although there are some of you stubborn-heads out there who still believe that a calorie is a calorie and therefore the food choices have little to do with weight loss as long as you're eating a hypocaloric diet, that's not the case!

Now, don't make the mistake of thinking that calories aren't important. I'm simply suggesting that you can eat more while still losing weight if you choose the right foods. You might want to take a look at the article "Foods that Make you Look Good Nekid". I'll also be writing an article on other good food choices in the near future.

Anyhow, by eating more, you'll be sparing your metabolic rate, your lean mass, and your athletic performance.

Nutrition Model And Calculator

Note: An auto-calculator is down below!

With the errors of nutrition addressed, here's how you should go about determining your caloric intake.

    [RMR (Resting metabolic rate) X Activity Factor] + Thermic Effect of Food = Maintenance Calorie Intake {[22 x (LBM in kg) + 500] X Activity Factor} + (TEF)

Where RMR = 22 x (LBM in kg) + 500

And Activity Factors =

    1.2-1.3 for Very Light (bed rest)
    1.5-1.6 for Light (office work/watching TV)
    1.6-1.7 for Moderate (some activity during day)
    1.9-2.1 for Heavy (labor type work)

TEF (thermic effect of food) = 10-15% X RMR

Once you get your maintenance intake, you'll multiply it by 0.85 to get your fat loss intake (additional instructions below).

Here's an example of the calculations for a 180 lb (82kg) male at 13% body fat. To determine the lean mass figure in kg, we take 82kg and multiplying that by 0.87 (0.87 is for the lean mass component; the fat mass component would be 0.13), we end up with 71kg of lean mass. The activity factor for this individual will be 1.55 (light work).

    *"Maintenance" Intake =
    {[22 x (LBM in kg) + 500] X 1.55} + (10-15% X RMR)
    (22 x 71) + 500 = [2062]
    [2062] x 1.55 = [3196]
    [3196] + (0.15 x 2062) = 3505

    *Fat Loss Intake =
    Maintenance x 85% = 3505 x 0.85 = 2979

*NOTE: Since these calculations haven't factored in the cost of the exercise you're doing, many of my clients find that eating at the "maintenance intake" every day still produces fat loss when exercising as prescribed above. Therefore my suggestion is to start at the "maintenance intake" and eat at this level each day.

Then, if fat loss is too slow, drop calories down to the fat loss intake level and increase calories as needed to stabilize. For those eating at the fat loss intake, increase calories to the maintenance intake level. For those eating at the maintenance intake level, increase calories by approximately 500.

Auto-Calculate Your Diet!

1. Your Bodyweight: Pounds OR Kilograms.
2. Bodyfat Percentage*: % (Ex. 15)
3. Activity Level:

Calculator Help

Bodyfat Percentage: If you do not know this number, you can use Fat Calipers to quickly find out, or just enter a guess.

RMR: To find other ways to calculator your exact Resting Metabolic Rate, click here to use our RMR auto-calculator!

Food Selection

The next important variable is the macronutrient breakdown of the eating plan. With the recommended exercise program, the diet should contain a good proportion of carbohydrate energy to sustain the intense anaerobic exercise (40% - 50%). Therefore, with this eating plan you should be getting the approximate breakdown seen below (+/- 5% for each variable).

  • Protein 29% (217g)
  • Carbohydrate 47% (350g)
  • Fat 24% (80g fat)

And finally, let's get down to the variable I've been stressing in several of my articles, food selection. Here's a list of the very best foods. These foods should make up about 80% of your daily diet and you should be eating many of these foods each day, not simply picking one or two selections to eat all the time.

Protein Foods:

Carbohydrate Foods

  • Vegetables
  • Mixed beans
  • Low glycemic index fruits
  • Oatmeal/oat bran
  • Mixed grain bread
  • Small amounts of protein-enriched pasta

Fat Foods

For active individuals, an additional 20% of your daily calories should come from the following sources (in order to enhance your recovery from intense exercise). Note: The liquid meal should come during and after a workout while the second high carb meal should come about 1-2 hours later.

During Workout & Immediately Post Workout Meal:

    Protein: whey isolates
    Carbohydrate: High GI liquid glucose (dextrose) / maltodextrin

NOTE: These ingredients, in exact proportions, along with a specific blend of branched chain amino acids, are contained in Biotest's Surge.

1-2 Hours Post Workout Meal:

    Protein: plain yogurt or cottage cheese
    Carbohydrate: High GI solid fiber cereal

In addition, here is the other list that I give to my clients. These are foods to avoid at all costs:

Protein Foods To Avoid:

  • Fatty meats
  • Fatty dairy foods
  • Most lunch meat
  • Whole milk
  • A lot of soy

Carbohydrate Foods To Avoid:

  • Regular bread
  • Sugar added foods
  • Most cereals
  • Soda
  • Fruit juice
  • Bagels
  • Fruit bars
  • Candy

Fat Foods To Avoid:

  • Margarine
  • Vegetable oil
  • Corn oil
  • Heated or fried oils in general

Rules For Making Food Selections

Some great rules I've found for making food selections are as follows:

  • Eat predominantly food (don't subsist entirely on shakes).
  • Avoid meals high in both carbohydrate and fat.
  • Always eat protein with each low GI carbohydrate or good fat meal.
  • Eat fiber with each meal (especially with your shake meals).
  • Drink water with each meal (at least 500ml).
  • Avoid real soda, fruit juice, and any beverages containing calories.

And finally, what you're really looking for, here is an example of a diet that meets the above criterion. It's about 2800kcal (25%P, 45%C, 30%F) and is made up of the best food choices.

  • *6 egg whites
  • 1/2 cup mixed beans
  • 1 thin slice real cheese
  • 1 cup Veggies
  • 2 oz mixed nuts
  • 1g EPA/DHA

  • 6 egg whites
  • 1/2 cup beans
  • 1 thin slice real cheese
  • 1 cup Veggies
  • 1 tbsp. flax oil
  • 1g EPA/DHA

  • 1 can salmon
  • 1 tbsp. Olive oil
  • 1 cup Veggies
  • 1/2 cup beans
  • 2 oz mixed nuts
  • 1g EPA/DHA

Workout Drinks:

    1 L water
    0.5 servings of Surge

    1 L water
    0.5 servings of Surge

1st Meal Post Workout:

    Mixed berries
    1/2 container cottage cheese
    0.5 scoop Grow!
    1 cup cereal

2nd Meal Post Workout:

    1/2 cup oat bran
    1 scoop Grow! Veggies 1 piece fruit

* You'll notice that some of these meals seem to "break" the massive-eating food combination rules (particularly the meals with beans). That's okay. Remember, the massive eating combinations were laid out to help you understand that high carb meals containing a high fat content should be avoided.

In this plan, although some meals have modest amounts of carbohydrate and fat, they certainly aren't excessive. In addition, some of the very high fiber, low glycemic foods (like beans) are sort of an exception to the massive eating rule as they barely raise blood sugar (and blood insulin) anyway.

* In addition, if you do decide to split up your weight training and aerobic/anaerobic training, you do not need to have 2 servings of Biotest Surge per day. Keep it simple and eat the same basic diet each day, taking your dose of exercise when you can.

According to my calculations, I believe this article is now complete. Now that you have the eating and exercise plan for success, go out and get lean!

About The Author

John M Berardi is one of the world's foremost experts in the field of human performance and nutrition. His company, Science Link, provides unique and highly effective training, nutrition, and supplementation programs for high level athletes as well as recreational exercisers. John is a prolific author and a sought after speaker and consultant. Visit for more information about John and his team. Also, check out his new DVD entitled No Nonsense Nutrition.