I am joined today by world famous nutrition and supplementation expert Dr. Eric Serrano MD. Dr. Serrano is well known amongst elite athletes and coaches who seek his help for the most complicated cases. He also leads the Ohio State University family practice in Columbus, Ohio where he helps people overcome every day problems with unconventional tactics, which produce results!
This man turns miracles every day; he gets results when others say it is hopeless. Listen to his advice and you will be armed with the information to succeed.
[ SHM ] Dr. Serrano, what are the latest and greatest methods you are using to elicit fat loss progress that you are famous for?
- I am using periodization of
A combination of certain nutrition protocols matched with specific training has resulted in very fast rates of fat loss for my patients and athletes.
[ SHM ] So, you are basically integrating the whole picture of training and nutrition.
- Yes, in the past there has been a lot of discussion covering the periodization of training, but no one talks about nutrition in this fashion and that is a big mistake. The synergy created is very powerful and is necessary to get the long-term results people are looking for.
I find that a good diet or perhaps training will work well alone for a while, but integrating the two is a big step in the right direction for athletes, fitness enthusiasts and anyone else who desires impressive results. This is important for gaining size, improving strength/performance in addition to fat loss.
[ SHM ] Can you provide an example of an integrated plan?
- This is a simple sample; I do not want people to use this plan without considering their own specific needs. Lets take an athlete, who needs to lose x amount of weight in 7-10- days.
First of all we need to know the body type, what kind of diet and training have been done before, medications, drugs etc. All of this needs to be taken into consideration. This helps us establish a baseline and from here we can make a plan.
For the purposes of the interview I will use you as an example. I know that you are carbohydrate sensitive so I am going to keep your carbs low for a week, which I consider a micro cycle.
The training during this period will be high volume, 12-15 reps with roughly 30 seconds rest between sets. 5-10 sets per exercise, not taken to failure, but a heavy load must be used. Only 2 exercises should be done per day and these must be compound movements such as squats, dead lifts, benches etc.
[ SHM ] Are you recommending compound movements because they burn more calories?
- Yes, they burn relatively more calories and activate beneficial
A 7 day period with low carbs will deplete glycogen and lower sugar levels. These conditions make the body enter a fat burning stage. I will add glycogen to the system with certain carbs over the 2-3 days following the first week to prepare the muscles for intense exercise. A short carb loading period will keep the body in a fat burning state.
[ SHM ] So, raising the carbs for a short period of time primes the system for continued fat loss in a way?
- Yes it does, the question is how to do it since everyone is different in this regard. Some people need up to 72 hours and others are as low as 6-18. The
- of these periods vary as well. Some people will do well with every 7-9'th day, every 5'th or even every 12'th. You must experiment and see what works for an individual because this will depend on many factors.
[ SHM ] I have heard you mention that traditional cardio will make some people store fat in trouble spots. Why is this?
- can teach the body to save fat because you are burning fat constantly. This can be counterproductive for fat loss. Only do cardio in combination with weight training.
Combining low carbs and traditional cardio will burn fat in the muscles, but not subcutaneous fat, which is found in the belly and legs.
[ SHM ] What is the best way to do cardio?
- Interval sprints! I like your
Metabolic Activation Cardio (MAC) LINK program
- that you sent me. The system you use rotates the volume, sprint length and rest periods in a strategic manner. You did a good job of evaluating the research and people need to understand that a well thought out program must be used to get the best results.
While doing this type of work you are burning glycogen, so muscles are forced to burn subcutaneous fat. The body will learn to burn fat and not save it. There are many interval sprinting systems that I use and they get progressively harder. They produce great results and take far less time.
Doing a couple short sessions a day like you recommend activates the metabolism twice, which is very important for fat loss. This is a powerful tool that people can use any time any where.
[ SHM ] Is interval cardio more beneficial than traditional cardio from a hormonal stand point?
- The more cardio you do: the lower testosterone levels will be. And cortisol will increase, which is responsible for thick abdominal fat and lower body fat for women.
High cortisol levels can also result from stress. You need to check the stress levels to determine what the exact problem is. The increased cortisol can be coming from physical or mental stress.
[ SHM ] What hormones are increased by the workout you mentioned earlier? How do the short rest periods affect hormones?
- The short rest increases growth hormone and the heavy loads increases testosterone. You want to optimize the levels of both of those hormones when possible.
Growth Hormone is very important for fat loss. A medium carb, medium fat, high protein diet is best for increasing T levels and this is very good for performance.
[ SHM ] Doc, I used a periodized training and nutrition plan that you created for me and you mentioned that one of the goals was to regenerate the adrenal glands to boost metabolism. How was this accomplished?
- Number of calories, macronutrient ratios, workouts, and supplementation will all affect the regeneration of metabolism.
Many people severely stress the adrenal glands with extended dieting. I recommend only dieting for 16 weeks or a catabolic state will kick in. Traditional long duration cardio will make these situations worse.
[ SHM ] What can be done to prime the system for those who were chronic dieters?
- The low caloric levels they have consumed will bring metabolism to a halt. They have to raise calories for 4 weeks, which adjusts the system to positive caloric intake.
The body will learn to burn fat if it wants to and not save it during this period. This is a good time to put on Lean Body Mass (LBM) as well. Added LBM helps to increase metabolic rates around the clock.
[ SHM ] What will happen to long-term low carb dieters?
- Those diets will stop working; you must raise carbs for a certain period of time to regenerate the system. I like
- , but a limited number of people understand how to use them. They need to be set up in a specific manner to provide the best results.
[ SHM ] What factors regulate metabolism? How can you tell when your body is really ready to lose body fat?
- There is combination of many factors that regulate metabolism: environment, weather and temperature may cause you burn more calories, nutrition, training, health, all taken into consideration.
Poor levels of testosterone and high levels of cortisol will also hinder metabolism. Birth control or anti depressants make it very hard to lose fat and it may take 6-9 months to break that cycle. Serotonin can increase body weight, often elevated by prescription anti depressants.
[ SHM ] Can someone who wants to diet in the future prepare for that phase by doing a higher calorie phase with some hypertrophy training to ready the system for a productive fat loss effort?
- Yes, this is a good idea. These preparation phases are very important, and I have seen the preparation phases that you have prepared. They are well thought out and produce results.
[ SHM ] What do you think of saliva hormonal test kits?
- They are a great tool for people to evaluate hormones. They are cheap, costs about 80 bucks to have a testosterone profile done. Spitting in a tube is about as easy as it gets and it is a lot easier than having blood taken.
Blood tests are expensive and insurance may or may not cover the expense for all of the factors that I want to evaluate. The saliva test kits only take a few days to get the results back after being sent in.
[ SHM ] Have you found this method to be accurate?
- Yes, very accurate.
[ SHM ] I run into trainees who feel that they are doing everything right in terms of diet and training, but still get no results. Could it be that there is a hormonal problem that will prevent them from making progress?
- Yes, I see this very often in my practice and with clients who come to me for help. I look at the hormone tests and create a comprehensive strategy to correct problems.
Sometimes people need medication, but I can make changes in their diets that will help to optimize hormonal levels. The tests provide ranges for hormone levels based on age and gender. Seek help from your physician if you are deficient in any areas.
[ SHM ] How often should you do these tests?
- Every three months if your results are normal, but do them more frequently if you discover poor levels in any areas.
[ SHM ] What should someone do in terms of training and nutrition when trying to restore hormone levels if they were low based on test results.
- They should concentrate on restoring those levels. That is a whole interview topic in its self. No progress will be made until the hormones are restored to the right levels; they are the building blocks for everything.
Dieting or high volume training programs can make the problem much worse. Your hormonal levels may have been depressed from something you were doing. Look at your records and see if you can identify any problems.
[ SHM ] What do you think of food allergy tests? Can you give us some examples of how they help people make improvements?
- They are very important;
- causes a problem for many people. It is highly allergenic for kids especially. I am talking about whole milk in particular not dairy products. Signals can be fatigue, constipation, lack of motivation, headaches, running nose and shortness of breath during activity. Asthma attacks can also happen.
Allergic reactions will show up minutes later for some and hours later for others. Determining food allergies can be tough for those who do not see the affects right away. Immuno labs are one of the best ways to identify the allergies.
Rotation of foods is very important. I do not believe in eating the same things all of the time because anything consumed can become an allergen. You should rotate your foods regularly.
[ SHM ] What do Immuno labs tell you? Will it be hard to lose body fat if you are regularly eating foods you are allergic too?
- It will tell you what kinds of foods you are allergic to based on where you live. It is very important and yes it will be very difficult to lose body fat if you are constantly aggravating the system with allergic substances.
People will see results very quickly if they eliminate the allergic material. Their energy levels will be much better and they will lose fat much faster. I find that people with asthma will have fewer attacks and greatly reduced shortness of breath while competing.
About The Author
Scott H. Mendelson, author of the 100% Fitness Solution E book and Director of InfinityFitness.com, is a highly regarded performance nutrition and training specialist. In addition to his celebrity and executive clients, Scott works daily with professional athletes from the NFL, NHL, MLB, MLS and NCAA.
Scott has built an excellent reputation providing effective supplements, cutting-edge information and unmatched service to thousands of clients worldwide. Also the special assistant to Dr. Eric Serrano MD, Scott helps with the design of training and nutrition programs for Serrano family practice patients in Columbus, Ohio.