Every year millions of people around the world go on and off various diets, take various "mineral packs", drink apple cider vinegars, swallow diet pills, use "fat sucking body wraps" and spend billions of dollars in the vain attempt to lose unwanted fat. What they do not realize, however, is the utter futility of their efforts.
Accordingly, this article aims to present logical principles regarding fat loss in an articulate manner, so as to eliminate confusion and replace confounding myth and propaganda with principles of reality.
The main features of a sound fat loss program are:
1. Sound diet plan
2. Sound cardiovascular program
3. Sound weight training regimen
At the end of this article you will be armed with all three, and will have the knowledge on how to construct your own plan [as opposed to simply hearing what has worked for someone else].
When aiming to reduce body fat levels, the management of macronutrients is crucial. The macronutrients are protein, fat and carbohydrates. Below is a brief description of each macronutrient and its respective function within the body.
|Macronutrient||Physiological Function||Types / Sources|
|Protein*|| Muscular Repair
Boosting Immune System Functioning
4.5 calories p/gm
|Fat|| Energy Source
Boosting Immune System Functioning
9 calories p/gm
| Good [Mono]
|Carbohydrates|| Energy Source
4.5 calories p/gm
| Simple Sugars
* For more information refer to my article Adding Mass in the Offseason.
As may be seen from the chart, each macronutrient performs different functions within the body. Understanding the differing functions of each macronutrient will allow for the construction of a sensible goal-oriented diet plan that will increase the desired event [probable outcome].
Bodybuilding is an activity that operates according to scientific principles and science is mathematically based. Thus, bodybuilding is mathematically based. Accordingly, in the construction of a diet plan, mathematics and numbers are key. Throughout the article you will see various mathematical formulas. These will be helpful to you when constructing your plan.
Diet Plan Requirements
To construct a diet plan several variables need to be mathematically determined.
These variables are:
- Body mass
- Current age
- Basal metabolic rate
- Caloric and macronutrient intake
- Current body fat percentage
I shall now briefly discuss each.
Many fat loss programs are geared toward "lean mass" or your body mass minus the total mass of fat you have. This plan is geared toward your total body mass. The best time to determine your body mass is first thing in the morning upon rising when, presumably, your stomach is devoid of its contents. For purposes of the example scenario later in the article, your total body mass is 233 pounds.
Age And Basal Metabolic Rate
The rate of your metabolism is directly correlated to your age. With every passing decade the metabolism slows by 10%. This translates into a 1% decrease in metabolic rate per year. Therefore, as people age and fail to change eating habits, they often gain unwanted body fat. Somehow it never occurs to people that as their metabolism slows, so should their eating decrease by a proportionate amount.
The key, then, after determining your BMR is to construct your fat loss program so that through a gradual reduction in calories over time, you end up consuming fewer calories than you burn. For purposes of the example scenario later in the article, your age is 21 and your basal metabolic rate is 2700 calories.
Caloric And Macronutrient Intake
As mentioned, the goal of a fat loss program is to be consuming fewer calories over time than is burned by the body. However, because the body is extremely adaptable and prefers homeostasis, TIME, CALORIES and MACRONUTRIENTS are the independent variables that must be manipulated so that the dependant variable [fat loss] can occur.
Due to the bodies preference for homeostasis, but the requirement that caloric intake remains steady for specific time periods during the 71 day fat loss program, macronutrients must be cycled on a daily basis. This will prevent the body from adapting. Meal frequency is vitally important to losing unwanted fat, and it is recommended that eating occur every two hours. Eating clean whole foods is recommended over processed manufactured goods.
Measuring ones ratio of adipose tissue to lean muscle mass is crucial and is a general measurement of health. With a measurement of adipose to muscle, one can determine if mass lost during a fat loss program is muscle or fat. If it is determined that muscle was lost, macronutrient percentages may be adjusted to compensate. For purposes of the example scenario later in the article your BF is 13%.
How do you measure your bodyfat in your own home? Learn how here.
Weight Training Regimen
A weight-training regimen is very important in the quest to reduce overall mass attributable to adipose tissue. A high intensity program [no longer than 45 minutes] is recommended. A high intensity weight program will lead to increased oxygen use and more watts being used as the work is done over a decreasing time period. This will raise body temperature and therefore burn more calories.
Cardiovascular exercise when used in conjunction with dietary modification will optimize fat loss. Cardiovascular work should have an intensity factor that will burn fat but preserve lean muscle tissue. The frequency of cardiovascular exercise performed increases over time, although the intensity level varies marginally over the same period.
In this chart, each macronutrient assumes a different percentage of the overall caloric intake on differing days. Although values for macronutrient percentages vary, caloric intake remains steady and is only changed according to the next graph listed. To find the exact macronutrient values for different foods, consult resources such as The Complete Book Of Food Counts By Corinne T. Netzer.
To determine the calories required from each macronutrient on each day, use the following calculation.
Protein requirement calculation for day 1:
C = Calories 
P= Protein [32.5%]
C = Carbohydrates [52.5%]
F = Fat [17.5%]
P = C(.325)
P = 3495(.325)
P = 1135
Therefore, of the daily totals, 1135 calories derive from protein.
To determine how many grams of a macronutrient are derived from the calories from the total [as determined by using the above calculation], use the following calculation. Protein will be our example.
P = Calories from Protein 
CPG = Calories per gram of macronutrient [4.5]
GFP = Grams from protein [x]
GFP = P / CPG
GFP = 1135 / 4.5
GFP = 252.2
Therefore, from 1135 calories from protein, 252.2 grams of protein is the requirement for day 1 on the macronutrient cycle. To determine how many grams per meal will be protein, after the above calculation is performed, divide the answer by 6 [because you will be eating 6 meals per day].
The above calculation may be used to determine fat requirements as well as carbohydrate requirements. Simply substitute the required variables in the appropriate fields to obtain the desired value.
In this chart caloric intake should be reduced by 300 calories every 11 days. The chart is self-explanatory and as such requires no mathematical formulae to demonstrate its practical application.
Calculate YOUR daily intake for the entire 71 day period!
Now on to the workouts...
Cardiovascular Workout Plan
To determine intensity percentage you must calculate your maximum heart rate. To do this the use the following calculation:
A = Age
MHR = Maximum Heart Rate
220 - A = MHR
220 - 21 = 199
There are two different ways to calculate your maximum heart rate and your target heart rates. The method I just explained is the simple method. Read the full article here.
Simple Target Heart Rate Calculator
Using the 220 - Age formula.
The Karvonnen formula is more advanced since it also takes into account your resting heart rate. This is your heart rate at complete rest. To determine this, take your pulse for 60 seconds just before you get out of bed... or take it for 30 seconds and multiply by 2.
Advanced Target Heart Rate Calculator
Using the Karvonen Formula.
- For your age, use a whole year. (Between 0 and 100)
- Put your Resting Heart Rate in the next box. (Between 30 and 100)
- In the % box, use a number between 50 and 85. Do not include the %.
- Click on the Calculate button, and it will calculate your target heart rate or that percentage.
Therefore the maximum heart rate would be 199 for the subject. If we wanted to determine the heart rate needed to be working at a level of 45% intensity, the calculation would appear as follows:
MHR = Maximum Heart Rate
BMP = Beats per minute
.45 = Intensity Level at 45% Of Maximum
BPM = .45(MHR)
BPM = .45(199)
BPM = 89.55
Therefore, working at 45% intensity level, beats per minute value is 89.55
The calculation provided may be used to determine intensity required throughout the program.
The mathematical formula provided will assist you in determining:
- Lean Mass [If you are losing fat or muscle]
- Macronutrient Requirements
- Intensity requirements of cardiovascular work
Weight Training Regimen
Constructing an appropriate weight-training regimen to augment a fat-loss program can be confusing. Therefore it is important to keep several realities in mind:
- Due to reduced carbohydrate consumption and reduced fat consumption, testosterone levels will be decreased
- Resulting from decreases in testosterone levels some strength will be lost
- Due to caloric and macronutrient restriction recovery ability will be reduced, thus increasing the opportunity for overtraining
- Joints will be more vulnerable resulting from decreased water retention and lowered anabolic hormone levels
Therefore, with these realities in mind, it is wise to incorporate more cable movements into ones workout. In the article The Ultimate Mass Building Workout I recommended the following training split:
Day 1: Deltoids, Triceps
Day 2: Trapezius, Back
Day 3: OFF
Day 4: Legs, Forearms
Day 5: Chest, Biceps
Day 6: OFF
Day 7: OFF
For a workout to contribute to fat loss, but not to overtraining, one must limit the time one spends working out. It is recommended that a weight-training workout last no longer than 45 minutes.
The split I recommended in The Ultimate Mass Building Workout is also recommended here. Where this program differs is in the amount of exercises done, and exercise type.
The purpose of a fat loss program is to rid oneself of unsightly fat that blocks the ability to see the true shape and size of a muscle. Therefore, the predominant exercises in this program will be tailored to slow-twitch muscle fibers. Therefore I recommend that for each body part one compound movement be performed, augmented by two isolation movements. The sample workout provided would be for day 1 and would appear as follows:
Seated Dumbbell Presses - 1x15*, 1x12, 1x12
Pec Deck Reversals - 1x15, 1x15, 1x15
Cable Upright Rows - 1x15, 1x15, 1x15
Cable Pressdowns - 1x25*, 1x15, 1x15
Skull Crushers - 1x15, 1x15, 1x15
Reverse Cable Pulldowns - 1x15, 1x15, 1x15
The repetition range should be high, and the weights performed should be according to 70%-75% of your 1 repetition maximum. To determine your 1 repetition maximum use a 1RM calculator.
The emphasis is not on compound movements, but on isolation movements, working at high repetitions. This is because although fast-twitch fibers are not to be neglected, the emphasis is placed upon slow-twitch fibers. We want to bring out the maximum amount of definition and separation in the muscles we are working. To do this, pumping a large amount of blood into them is needed. High repetitions accomplish this if the exercises are performed correctly.
After The 71 Days Of Dieting
On this program one subject reduced his body fat levels by 6% over the course of the 71-day period. However, what should be done if after the 71-day program your body fat levels are still higher than you would like? If you find yourself in this situation, I recommend the following:
- Multiply your new body mass by 15
- Use the resultant as your daily caloric intake for 1 month
- Macronutrient ratios should be 40-20-40 [Protein-Fat-Carbohydrates]
- Cardiovascular exercise should be 2x per week at 45% intensity
After the 4-week break is up, go back on the 71-day program using the provided calculations to calculate caloric intake, macronutrient requirements and BMR. Repeat this cycle until your body fat level is where you want it.
Summary / Conclusion
A sound fat loss program consists of a sound dietary, cardiovascular and weight-training regimen. The soundness of each component is predicated upon each variables adherence to mathematical formulae and scientific principles. By employing the mathematical principles presented, and by using mathematics to construct a fat loss program substantial changes in body composition over time may be elicited.
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