I received a question on instagram the other day that said,
“What would be your ultimate fat loss plan? No limitations. Person is 100% compliant no matter what. You can use all the science you want. I want to know the nitty gritty.”
Naturally… I listed about 28 different things. A VERY detailed list of fat loss strategies, put together in a plan.
Which sparked my mind to write this blog. Because the truth is, in a perfect world with no limitations – my fat loss strategy would be a bit different than what I typically prescribe to my fat loss clients.
Why? Simple… the perfect fat loss strategy is somewhat unrealistic, at least for the majority of people I work with (majority being 90%).
I do have the 10%er’s who want the supplements, meal timing, sleep strategies, and every other “nitty gritty” detail that will take them from 95 to 100%.
But again, I have to preface, that 5% difference is splitting hairs for the majority of people looking to shed body fat, get lean, and transform their physique.
But when we talk about AFTER just getting lean, maybe to get photo-shoot ready or completely shredded so you can finally stop looking at that last little bit of belly fat (the worst) – we can start implementing the 5% details to take you from lean to ripped.
And even if you aren’t at that final 5% yet, maybe you just want to do everything you can to enhance your fat loss transformation and get to the lean body a bit faster – there’s plenty you can take away from this article.
The Ultimate Fat Loss Plan (The Final 5%)
If you’re not dialed in here yet, you shouldn’t be thinking about the final 5%… But let’s be honest, if you ARE here then you’ve definitely already locked your macros down.
Just like I teach in The Nutrition Hierarchy, this is one of the very first and most foundational steps in order to transform your physique. Macros make up your calories and calories are literally the biggest moving part when it comes to fat loss or weight/muscle gain.
But I tend to prioritize macros over calories, because macros are much more individualized and when it comes to fat loss – individualism is key. But also, labels round calories and NOT macros. This means every food you’ve eaten today that was 97 or 98 calories, rounded to 100. Not a big deal, but over the course of a day or week – that ends up being a big difference in total daily intake. But macros never get rounded and are always exact, which makes them a much more accurate metric to track.
Add to all of this, dialing in your individual macros is going to allow us to prioritize your training, performance, recovery, hormones, metabolism, and many other very important aspects when it comes to the fat loss process.
When it comes to serious fat loss, your top priority is holding onto as much muscle mass and strength as possible during the process, because gaining an appreciable amount of muscle during a fat loss phase is damn near impossible for anyone who’s been training longer than 2 years.
Can you build muscle while losing fat? Absolutely. But if you’re looking to shred the last 5% of body fat, finally see your full 6-pack, or get photo shoot lean – it’s on the back burner. If you’re a newbie or have 30+lbs to lose, you’re very capable. So it just depends on your situation.
But what’s the #1 way to maintain as much muscle as possible on a cut? Train like you’re trying to build it!
Now, when we talk about maximizing your training program to keep your muscle tissue and maintain performance – metrics come first. If you’re not tracking your weights and following a legit training program, that’s the first thing you need to focus on (Functional Muscle has helped hundreds of people on their fat loss journey’s).
The 2 top priorities we’re going to lay out here are frequency and the variety of your intensities.
For the natural lifter, training frequency is like the magic trick to gains (assuming it hasn’t been prioritized yet). Because every time we train a muscle we send an anabolic signal for it to grow and spark muscle protein synthesis, but this signal diminishes somewhere after 48-72 hours. This tells us that training each muscle once per week is suboptimal because it delays that signal from being sent again, but also because it lowers the amount of total weekly volume we’re able to handle (another key component of muscle growth).
So rule #1 when it comes to your training program, will be making sure you’re hitting each muscle group 2x per week.
The second priority was to vary your intensities; by this I simply mean use different loads and because we’re training each muscle 2x a week, you’re going to have 1 heavy day and 1 high rep day.
Simple, effective, and has been used for decades.
This usually is best done on an Upper/Lower split, exactly what’s laid out in Functional Muscle. But because this is a perfect world scenario, I’m laying this all out assuming the individual has all the time in the world to train and is recovering optimally.
So we’re going to go with a Push/Pull/Legs split. In this case, each workout would only be 45-60 minutes but you’re training hard 6 days a week. Day 1 is push, which means you’re hitting chest, shoulders, and triceps. Day 2 is pull, which means you’re hitting everything on your back and ending with biceps. Day 3 is legs, so you’re hitting the entire lower body with the possible ab finisher.
You’d repeat this cycle 2x each week, for a total of 6 days a week of resistance training.
It’s intense, but it optimizes all aspects of hypertrophy and in the case of fat loss this would be an awesome strategy to go with (warning: the typical fat loss plan does not support this intense of a program, so if you implement this – be sure you’re doing everything in your power to recovery adequately).
Higher Than Necessary Protein Intake
Studies have shown that you can literally eat up to 2g per pound of bodyweight without any long-term detrimental affects.
Now… does that mean more protein equals more muscle? Not at all. In fact, from what’s shown in the literature, once you hit about 0.8g per pound of bodyweight you’re pretty much maximizing your potential muscle growth. Now, there’s merit to going above that and increasing muscle mass for those individuals who are between 100-150 total pound of bodyweight because they barely, sometimes not even, meet the Muscle Protein Synthesis threshold in a given meal. But for majority of us, 0.8g is plenty.
So why would I bring protein intake up higher than normal in this ultimate fat loss strategy?
#1 – Satiation. Studies show you’re more satisfied from protein and because of that, I like to keep it high.
#2 – Low Fat Storage. It’s literally damn near impossible to store protein as body fat, because it gets utilized somehow in the body or gets excreted first. So why not keep it high?! It allows us more food and more food means more calories, which is always ideal while cutting.
#3 – TEF (Thermic Effect of Food). The TEF of protein is the highest amongst all 3 macronutrients, meaning you burn more calories digesting it, and if we can burn more calories through what we eat… we’re taking advantage of that.
#4 – Safety Policy. When cutting it’s imperative to fully recover and to make sure you’re maintaining as much muscle tissue as possible, so I look at this like an insurance policy. Since we’re not being harmed by a little extra, we may as well intake a little extra to be 100% sure we’re staying on top of muscle maintenance and recovery.
#5 – Burn more fat…? Maybe, but maybe not. But during the 1 year study where individuals ate about 2g per lb of bodyweight or the normal 0.8g per lb, the group with 2g per lb did not gain any extra fat or muscle – they actually lost the same amount of bodyfat EVEN THOUGH they consumed more calories. This confirms the idea of adding protein in as you remove other macros out, without any consequences but rather more fat loss.
Low Protein Day
I know, I know… Now I’m just being ridiculous. First I’m all about high protein and now I’m saying cut it out…
But this is a practice used by many great coaches and bodybuilders. See when we consume high protein, our body’s ability to utilize it for MPS can possibly lower (still questionable). This basically means it adapts and doesn’t get the same great benefit from those high protein intakes, after a longer period of time.
So how can we resynthesize the body so it starts to go back to having massive benefits to higher protein levels?
We cut it down, by half or more, for a day.
One day of low protein isn’t going to have any negative effects, but it will have plenty positive ones. It will allow our body’s sensitivity to protein to increase AND it will give our digestive tract a good break – because protein is again the hardest nutrient to break down and digest.
So by having a vegetarian day or a meatless day each week, we can have a profound effect on our long-term ability to absorb and utilize protein.
My suggestion is to eat lots of produce, keep carbs in there, prioritize high quality fats, and only allow your protein to come from those sources OR a smaller amount of whole eggs or fatty fish like salmon.
Intermittent Fasting Day
I’ve written about the benefits of IF in previous articles and as you’ll see within them, there are a lot of great things about it. But when it comes to a daily strategy for body composition, I’m not a huge fan.
I think it’s great for pure fat loss but when we’re prioritizing muscle maintenance and performance, I just think it’s suboptimal personally. The only time it can be ideal is if it truly lowers your stress levels to skip breakfast and if you train in the evenings.
Now, I do believe it’s highly beneficial to have one IF day per week on this Ultimate Fat Loss Plan because of the digestive and insulin sensitizing benefits.
But now you’re probably thinking, “How the hell can I implement all this stuff in one single week Cody?!”.
Combine them. That’s how.
Which is why your Meatless day can be your IF day, as well.
Fast at least 16 hours, but up to 20 hours this day. You may be low on calories, you’ll definitely be low on protein (purposely), and you’ll probably be hungry during the fasting phase! That’s ok, being hungry isn’t a negative thing and during a cut… sometimes that’s just part of it.
So my suggestion here is to fast, then start your feeding with a meal consisting mainly of fats and greens with a small side of fruit like berries. Second feeding, which could be your last, would pretty much follow suit but you can replace the berries with an easily digestible carb source like sweet potatoes and have a bit more protein in their, like salmon, as well.
The point of this day is to get some of the hormonal and digestion benefits, along with the protein sensitizing, for one day of the week – then fall right back into your normal plan WHICH will be more well utilized by the body because of this fasting/low protein day.
Daily Fasted Cardio
“Ok… now you’re going full bro, bro.”
I may be old school with this, but I’m a big fan of early morning low intensity fasted cardio and not just because it’s a great fat burner. But also because it starts your day with movement and a clear mind.
There’s nothing more powerful than starting your day with a quiet walk at 5:30am while the world is asleep. This also gets you in a healthy state of mind, which is crucial for adherence and consistency.
But studies have shown 2 different things.
#1 – Fasted or not fasted, doesn’t matter because total caloric burn ends up being the exact same at the end of the day. So if you can’t adhere to the fasted walk, you’re still in a good place because the main benefit here is simply walking and burning calories.
#2 – Specific Fat Loss can be increased, indirectly. Let me explain.
A study (Yung-Chih Chen et al. 2017) discovered that when cardio is done fasted, it increases the level of multiple enzymes that are responsible for the mobilization of fat and it’s use for fuel.
For example, fasted cardio increases PDK4 more than non-fasted cardio. This enzyme increases fat oxidation (fat use for fuel) and decreases glycolysis (burning glycogen for fuel). So it not only increases fat loss but it is also glycogen-sparing, which helps us keep glycogen in the muscle for resistance training and tissue repair.
Some more: “It has a great impact on short form hormone-sensitive lipase (HSL) and ATGL which increase the breakdown of stored fat so that it can be liberated from the fat cells (first step toward using fat for fuel).”
“It also affects how well muscle can uptake fatty acids (to use them for fuel) via the CD36 protein.”
So the benefit here isn’t necessarily total weight loss, but more so building your body’s ability to burn body fat as a fuel – which is 100% our goal during a fat loss phase.
And when utilizing this, I don’t suggest high intensity cardio at all because it’s a bit too much in a completely fasted state in my opinion. So go with very low intensity, like a 30-40 minute walk.
I just talked about LISS cardio in the morning, but that doesn’t mean I don’t think HIIT cardio has its place. Because the truth is undeniable, high intensity intervals work amazingly well for burning calories and cranking up your metabolism.
But they also increase muscle protein synthesis post workout, which is often a neglected benefit of HIIT cardio.
The downside of HIIT is that it is hard on the nervous system, just like weight training. And when we’re on a fat loss plan, possibly in a decent size calorie deficit, we can’t press the nervous system too much or we will burnout and no results will show.
For that reason, I prefer to implement these as a short finisher at the end of your lifting days. So for example, 3x a week you’d add a 5-minute finisher of HIIT. Yes, 5 minutes.
HIIT is meant to be short, hard, explosive, and intense. Not like what some people mistake it to be – I see things like “1 minute on 1 minute off for 30 minutes” and other non-sense style approaches on instagram.
Will that burn calories? Of course! That’s hard as hell!
But is it HIIT? Well, the first 7-10 seconds are… but after that it’s moderate intensity.
HIIT is fueled by glycogen and ATP, which will run out at about 7-13 seconds max. Now, we can push that to 30 seconds and still have a HIIT effect but the second half of that interval is survival mode and not performance driven.
The other part about HIIT is that the rest period is supposed to be adequate enough in order to fully recover from the work interval, this is so you can actually go hard enough to hit the level of intensity needed for a legit HIIT session.
So how would I be setting this up?
5×10/50 on the assault bike post workout or 5×20-30 second prowler pushes with a 90-120 second break in between rounds.
Do this post training 3-4x a week, but do it at an intensity to where it’s literally leaving you gasping for air each round. Push yourself to that level and you’ll reap the benefits.
The 2-3 days you’re not doing those HIIT intervals, I’d have you doing simple AB finishers.
Why? Because if we can build the muscle, creating an actual hypertrophic effect, in the core – you’re more likely to see your abs as you get leaner.
People who train their abs a lot will see their abs at a higher body fat percentage compared to those who do not train their abs, same exact reason why someone who does a lot of curls will have big arms.
Hypertrophy is hypertrophy, regardless of the muscle you’re working.
When I did my physique competition, I didn’t train my abs barely at all. I got shredded to an unsustainable level, which is the point of bodybuilding prep, and so you could easily see my abs. But compared to the guys who trained their abs often, my abs just weren’t comparable because they didn’t pop out the same and it took me getting to a very low body fat level to finally see them.
Now as you can see in the picture above, I’m super lean. I accomplished my goal and that was awesome! But I can almost guarantee that if I were to train my abs more regularly like the majority of the guys who got on stage with me, my abs would have not only been more predominant (popping out) but they would’ve shown up at a higher body fat percentage as well.
Yep we’re going here. I’m 100% the guy who loves and believes a whole food approach, because supplements aren’t crucial or necessarily needed – but they absolutely help, especially in the 5% category. So here’s what I’d suggest:
Vitamin-D – The higher percentage of almost all communities around the world are low in Vitamin-D, which is a vital vitamin/hormone needed in order to hormonally function optimally. I suggest 5,000 I.U.’s daily with a fat containing meal.
Fish Oil – Just like Vitamin-D, most people are deficient or could at least use more omega-3 fatty acids. For that reason, we recommend supplementing with 2-3g of combined EPA/DHA daily in order to optimize joint, insulin, hormonal, and metabolic health.
Creatine Monohydrate – Creatine monohydrate is one of the supplements that has truly stood the test of time, which makes it a cornerstone recommendation for anyone trying to build muscle, recovery faster, get stronger, and according to some newer studies even have better cognitive focus. Supplement with 5g daily.
Caffeine – This is the original pre-workout and is the only ingredient inside any pre-workout supplement sold in your favorite nutrition store that actually provides stimulation to fire up your workouts. We suggest taking anywhere from 100mg to 300mg 30-60 minutes prior to training.
Magnesium – A great nutrient when it comes to getting a full recovery, both neurologically and physically (muscular). The issue with magnesium is that we don’t get enough in our typical foods and the types you see on shelves often don’t give us what we want (just some serious toilet time). We suggest 200-400mg of glycinate, malate, citrate, taurate, and threonate.
Zinc – When deficient in Zinc, which can be common, a lot of pretty important hormones are increased and benefits begin to happen. Testosterone, IGF-1, Insulin Sensitivity, Cognition, Libido, Thyroid, and more can all improve when we supplement with Zinc (if deficient prior). When deficient, we recommend 25-45mg daily.
Acetyl L-Carnitine – This is another one of those old school bodybuilding strategies, but some of the literature is pretty convincing on its ability to improve insulin sensitivity so because of that I’d throw it into the mix. It’s one I’d recommend taking prior to the fasted walk, given that it may lower insulin levels enough to optimize the fat burning effect of that cardio session.
ACV – Apple Cider Vinegar has a TON of health benefits, but it’s also another one that can help lower insulin levels and improve digestion as well – both good reasons to take a shot a day or a couple capsules prior to starchy carb meals.
Cyclic Dextrin – This is one I recommend to anyone who has 25-40g of carbs to spare on a liquid, but if you’re in a place where you need to bring carbs down lower and don’t want to waste them on a shake… 100% get it! For those who can, having this immediately post workout with some EAA’s, BCAA’s, or Whey Protein can help blunt the cortisol response, get you into recovery state neurologically, and has actually been proven by studies to increase muscle tissue.
I saved the best and most boring fat loss strategy, for last. But it’s also one of the most commonly neglected things when it comes to health.
We all know we need to shut things down and get our sleep, yet we all avoid it like the plague so we can stay up late watching Game of Thrones.
So I’m going to keep this simple and dry, no need to spice it up – because it’s just not a sexy strategy to dive into.
- Get 7+ hours of sleep every single night.
- Black out your room, I mean pitch dark – it makes a difference.
- 60-65 degrees in the room; keep it cool and bundle up – if you don’t have AC, turn on a fan or two.
- Give yourself 2-3 hours between your final meal and bedtime. This just ensures digestion is done and your body can focus on sleep.
- Shut electronics down AT LEAST an hour prior to bed. This is the hardest, shit I don’t even follow this all the time… but the truth is, it makes a massive difference.
All right guys, that’s a wrap. There is A LOT of information in here, very specific information. So there’s 2 ways to handle this:
#1 – Don’t take this and implement it all tomorrow, just to fall off track and only stick to one thing longer than 30 days from now. Instead, one thing per week until you’ve done them all.
#2 – You’re in the 5% status and ready to get shredded for a photo-shoot, that takes discipline and specificity… so have at it! Implement these, document your progress, and reach out! Keep me updated on how this is all helping!
“The Ultimate Fat Loss Plan” is absolutely ideal but not always practical, let’s be real about here. What’s practical is a training and nutrition prescription that’s individualized to YOU, the individual, and that’s exactly what we do at BBP.
If you’re looking for YOUR ultimate fat loss plan, click here now and talk to a coach – commitment free. We’ll map out the process for you and see if our individualized coaching process is right for you.
Cody McBroom is owner and head coach of Boom Boom Performance. He’s a Strength Coach and Nutrition Expert located in Seattle WA. He coaches people in person and online, now internationally. His passion is helping individuals changing their lives through body composition transformation, as well as creating content across all platforms to help individuals and other coaches learn more about training and nutrition.
2.) Intermittent Fasting – https://tailoredcoachingmethod.com/intermittent-fasting-2/
3.) Supplements – www.examine.com
4.) Protein Studies – https://jissn.biomedcentral.com/articles?query=protein+jose+antonio&volume=&searchType=&tab=keyword