The Rapid & Healthy Fat-Loss System: Reveal the Abs Under the Flabs . . . Not Your Ribcage (+ Four Hour Body Tricks)

Posted by W. Shane Duquette

I’ve had a lot of people asking me about how to lose weight. Almost two years ago our good friend Willem was trying to lose weight, so I put him on a program that had him down 20lbs in a month. No supplements or gimmicks. Just a simple diet consisting mainly of chili and a light workout program. A year later another friend, Payam, was after the same thing. I put him on a similar program and he lost 18lbs in a month. If you aren’t a 6’0 athletic male, don’t worry. It’ll work whether you’re male or female, buff or a chubster, an ectomorph or an endomorph, a busy businessman or a beach bum. Jared’s 5′ girlfriend lost 9lbs in a month and shrunk out of her clothes faster than she could replace them. More importantly, not only did they all get quick results, they’ve all maintained or improved upon the weight loss! Willem’s stomach went from a blob to a scary looking washboard in a couple months, making him the perfect poster boy for a blog post about healthy weight loss. I just finished a cutting phase. I lost 12 pounds of fat in 3 weeks, maintained my muscle mass, and improved my strength—all while working 12 hour days for clients who needed rush jobs done. Since then we’ve experimented with several new techniques (such as those presented in The 4-Hour Body, by Tim Ferriss). If you follow the tips and tools in this post you can expect even better results than we got. Whether you’re a beginner or a fitness freak we’re confident that these methods will get you to your body fat goal in no time.

. . . But only if you diet smart. I’ve seen people go on insane fat loss training programs that involve mind numbing hours of jogging, experimenting with raw foods, intermittent fasting, low carb diets, low fat diets, paleo diets, eating every three hours, etc. There are a hell of a lot of approaches to dieting out there, and I’m going to say something a little controversial here: most of them work (at least in the short term).

See, there’s one thing that will always cause your body to lose fat: calorie restriction. So long as a diet involves calorie restriction your body will turn to your fat stores for energy, you’ll then mobilize and oxidize those pesky fatty acids. Presto—fat loss.

“You  want to be eating frequently.If you don’t feed your body every few hours it goes into starvation mode and begins storing fat. If you keep your body consistently well-fed then it starts getting rid of its fat stores. It knows that it won’t be starved, so it doesn’t need the fat stores anymore.”

You’ve probably heard some variation of that if you’ve been trying to lose fat for a while. Turns out that’s a myth. Meal frequency doesn’t affect your metabolism. In fact, you could go 3 days without eating and your metabolism would remain the same. This is why intermittent fasting works just as well as other nutrition strategies when it comes to fat loss. Unless you’re an extremely advanced dieter (think 4% bodyfat), meal frequency is irrelevant.

The theory behind dieting, when it comes down to it, is pretty simple. You need to burn more calories than you take in. You can accomplish this in two ways: first by reducing the amount of calories you take in, and second by increasing the amount of calories that your body uses. The first you accomplish through your diet. The second you accomplish through diet, exercise and supplementation. By the time you get through this article you should understand how to go about it and a month from now you could be 10-30 pounds lighter! The heavier you are the faster it will come off!

Now, this article isn’t just about losing fat, it’s also about maintaining (or even building) muscle. We’re trying to come up with a lasting and healthy solution that has you coming out looking like an athlete, actor or fitness model. Most people that go on these diets don’t want to diet down to the point that they look like the emaciated actor DJ Qualls, they want to look like Brad Pitt or Angelina Jolie—Batman, not the Machinist. Most dieters end up destroying all the muscle hidden under the fat, so when they finally get rid of all their fat they have that unhealthy underfed look combined with the remnants of a pot belly. Not to mention they feel unhealthy, distracted and unproductive. To make matters worse, a year later they’ve usually rebounded back to their former weight.

Most people forget that their best ally in the fight against fat is muscle. Muscle acts like a calorie furnace. It increases your metabolism and steadily burns away your fat stores throughout the day. If you’re trying to lose fat you want to keep that muscle right there next to you, because it will make things a lot easier, quicker AND you’ll look a lot better by the end of it, male or female. You’ll look healthy, not scrawny. What guy doesn’t want guns, and what girl doesn’t want buns, right?

How do you maintain your muscle mass while dieting? There are just two things you need to do:

a) Train 3 times per week using a kickass weight training plan designed for muscle stimulation and growth. Even when eating drastically reduced calories your body won’t all of a sudden get rid of muscle when it knows it needs them. It can instead use your fatty acid stores (flabs) as an energy source.

b) Eat a balanced diet that includes at least a moderate amount of protein (20% of total calories). If you have a lot of muscle mass, more protein may be recommended, and there’s no downside to consuming even up to 50% of your calories from protein when trying to lose fat.

1. Understand How Food Affects You

You don’t want to be haphazardly skipping meals or even having tiny little gimpy meals. You want to be eating lots of protein, a fair amount of healthy fats, and an enormous amount of fibrous vegetables (salad, broccoli, spinach, cauliflower, etc). Don’t get me wrong, calories DO matter, but the type of calories you take in can have a profound impact on your body composition as well. If you’re eating excess amounts of simple sugars you’re going to fill up your liver and muscle glycogen stores with glucose—this is good. The problem is that once those stores are full your body will convert the excess sugars into fatty acids (fat stores). Simply put, if sugar rushes into your system faster than your body needs it, it takes the excess and stores it as fat.

If you’re a healthy individual who exercises and habitually eats balanced meals, you don’t need to worry too much about blood sugar levels. Our bodies are well equipped with a system of hormones that keeps everything in order, and we’re actually quite good at regulating blood sugar, unless you have a condition, like diabetes, which affects insulin. Insulin is an extremely important hormone and plays a huge role in both muscle building and fat loss. Many dieters know this and worry obsessively about eating frequently in order to prevent insulin spikes. Don’t focus on that.

Don’t freak out about having to eat every couple of hours, just try to focus on healthy whole foods. Your meals can be small and frequent or larger and less frequent.

So let’s cover the macronutrients: protein, carbs and fats. Micronutrients are important too. I recommend taking a greens supplement if you aren’t regularly eating a couple servings of vegetables with every meal. What really matters when it comes to weight loss though is controlling the type and quantity of calories that you consume (macronutrients). In order to lose weight you need to be functioning on a calorie deficit. This is achieved by combining two things: a controlled diet with a limited caloric intake, and increasing your resting metabolic rate (RMR), which can be done through diet, exercise and supplementation.

Protein digests slowly and gives your muscles the fuel they need to repair and grow. Because it digests slowly it gives your body a steady supply of energy, and your body needs the protein to maintain your muscle mass. Protein is filling and satiating, generally comes from healthy sources, and it’s extremely hard for your body to convert protein into fatty acids. What’s even more fascinating than that though is that a large amount of the energy from protein (20%) goes straight to heat production, which increases your metabolism. When you’re picking out your protein you don’t need to stress out about it being super lean or low calorie — red meat, Atlantic salmon, cottage cheese and whole eggs are totally cool. Recent research is showing that eating whole eggs is actually far better for both your health and for fat loss than just the whites, so enjoy them! There are lots of great lean protein sources too, like chicken breast, turkey breast, whey protein and greek yogurt. These are all relatively high calorie foods, and this is where the bulk of your calories should come from. As a starting point I’d recommend that you get 40% or more of your calories from lean protein. More if you’re a vegan (non-animal protein has less leucine, and thus you’ll need to eat way more of it). Less if you don’t have much muscle mass (as your body won’t need to maintain as much muscle). That should keep you feeling full and full of energy.

Carbs are a little tricky. I recommend that you get about 30% of your calories coming from carbohydrates. The tricky part is that you really need to watch what kind of carbs you eat. Like a mentioned before, eating excess amounts of starchy carbohydrates will cause the glucose that your body creates to overflow out of your glycogen stores and be converted into fatty acids. If you’re eating something like leafy vegetables on the other hand, your body actually has such a rough time tearing the nutrients out of them that it expends more energy breaking them down than it gets out of them. Eating a massive pile of green beans will actually leave you with an energy deficit while providing your body with the volume of food that it needs to feel full. It will trick your digestive system too. It will keep your body acting as a fat burning furnace. So my advice on carbs is to stick with green leafy vegetables whenever possible. Plain yogurt (with the fat left in but no sugar added) and milk are also great sources of carbohydrates, and they have some protein in them too.

Stay away from starchy carbohydrates (potatoes, legumes, fruits, rice, pasta, etc) except immediately after a strength training workout. After a workout you want to be consuming a ton of these (100-140g), as your body will be primed to store them as liver and muscle glycogen (due to glut4 transponders that are activated during resistance training). Occasionally eating plenty of starches will also positively affect production of the hormone leptin, which can decrease when you eat a calorie restricted diet that’s low in carbohydrates. If you can maintain high levels of leptin you’ll lose fat much more quickly, as leptin is the hormone that your body uses to indicate to itself whether it should be storing or releasing fatty acids. If you work out three times per week and consume plenty of starches afterwards you’ll actually be accomplishing a really advanced “carb-cycling” technique.

Fats used to be a tricky issue. People used to think that eating fats made you fat. It’s well known now that excess starchy carbohydrates consumed at inappropriate times are actually the main offender there. Healthy fats (like olive oil, nuts, dairy, eggs, fish, avocados, etc) won’t make you fat. In fact, they can actually make you thinner. Your body communicates with itself using hormones, and fats are what keeps that communication system working properly. Eating health fats will encourage the release of positive fat burning hormones, like testosterone and hGH. Fats are generally high in calories though, so keep the volume low. You’d be surprised. A tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil has 120 calories — more than several cups of green beans. Fat should make up the remaining 30% of your calorie intake.

So how many calories should you be eating? That really depends. Take your weight, in pounds, and multiply it by 15. Start there. Gradually work your way down to 10 times your weight if you aren’t losing as much fat as you want to. So if you weigh 150 pounds, start at 2250 and gradually lower it to 1500. Don’t ever go any lower than that. If you still aren’t losing the kind of weight you want you can accelerate it with more exercise.

2. Don’t “Get in the Zone”, Unleash the beast! HIIT + Kettlebell swings

Cardio these days is undergoing a revolution when it comes to both health and weight loss. Marathon style weight loss programs are on their way out, and High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) is on its way in. If you have a passion for running marathons there are some things you can do to make them better for you (drinking sugar and protein as you run, for example), but if the goal is to lose weight or to be healthy, then HIIT is your best bet. You might notice that most olympic marathoners are scrawny emaciated people. Not the picture of health. More so the picture of world hunger. Sprinters, on the other hand, are well muscled guys with ridiculously low bodyfat percentages. Why is that?

Steady jogging for 45 minutes uses slow twitch muscle fibers—the endurance ones that are small in size. That’s only part of the reason, though. Jogging for 45 minutes calls on your body for all sorts of energy. Your body simply can’t break down fat quickly enough. Fat is supposed to be a slow and steady supply of energy, but jogging needs a lot more than that. Your body will start breaking down the next best source: muscle. And that’s bad for fat loss. Remember that muscle is one of the things that will help you steadily break down your fat stores 24 hours a day. Not to mention that when you finish your transformation you’ll probably want that muscle to have stuck around for the ride. You want to be revealing the abs under the flabs, not your ribcage, right? You girls might be thinking that you don’t want the muscle, but being an emaciated woman looks just as unhealthy. The way to burn fat is to increase your resting metabolism. The main benefit of cardio is that it increases your resting metabolism for up to 36 hours afterwards, but jogging isn’t the only way to do that. In fact, recent research shows that marathon style exercise actually slows your metabolism and can cause your body to store more fat so that it has more energy available for the next excursion.

So why is high intensity interval training (HIIT) the way of the future? HIIT is about doing high intensity exercise for a very short period of time, resting, and then doing high intensity exercise again. An example of this is sprinting for 30 seconds, briskly walking for 90 seconds and then repeating that cycle for 16 minutes. Another example is strength training. Lifting really heavy weights for a few repetitions and then resting for a few minutes. What this does is stimulate fast twitch muscle fibers: the larger ones. That’s one reason why sprinters are bigger. The main benefit of HIIT though is that the fat loss effects last for up to 36 hours after you finish, your body is never starved, no muscle loss occurs, and it only takes 16 minutes! Do three 16 minute HIIT sessions a week and that’s all you’ll need to lose massive amounts of fat. 48 minutes of working out in a week is all it takes. I much prefer it, too. I’ve always found jogging rather boring and unpleasant. I don’t like feeling cramps and discomfort for 45 minutes. Pushing through 16 minutes of exercise is much more enjoyable than 45 for me, and only FOUR of those minutes are high intensity. HIIT will lower your blood pressure, keep your cholesterol in check, and improve your cardiovascular efficiency, too.

Slotting these HIIT workouts into your fat loss program is pretty simple. You can go for a run, hit the gym, or do what I did, and run up and down your apartment building’s stairwell. You can do them at any time of the day, although you might want to keep them a few hours away from your bedtime, so as not to disturb your sleep. If you’re a muscly guy trying to do a bodybuilding-style cut, have some simple sugars and some quickly digesting protein before and after, too. You don’t want to be starving your body in any way. You can have some Gatorade and BCAAs (broken down protein), or some corn sugar (dextrose) and some whey protein. 30g of sugar and 30g of protein should be enough.

Kettlebell swings are another great option, and only involve an hour of working out per month. ONE HOUR a month! The kettlebells themselves can be a little pricey, but you can make them yourself really easily for a fraction of the price. Check out Jared’s blog post about how to put one together here. You’ll want a weight heavy enough that you can do between 20-30 repetitions with perfect form, but no more. Once you’ve got the kettlebell or t-bar you’ll want to work your way up to 50 consecutive swings per session (a session lasts about 5 minutes). Do that three times per week (15 minutes per week). That’s all. It’s that simple.

3. Should I Use Weight Loss Supplements?

So we’re controlling your calories to make sure that you’re functioning at a deficit and losing weight, we’ve made sure that fat is the type of weight that you’re going to be losing, and we’ve given you HIIT to help boost your metabolism even further and accelerate your losses. This is the time to consider supplementation. If you don’t have your diet in place there’s no point considering supplements, but if you’re following everything else and losing weight already you can add them in to further improve your results.

Don’t believe the supplement ads. Most of the supplement models are on steroids, which accelerate fat loss and muscle growth like no other, and many of the before and after pictures are taken on the same day. Plenty of trickery and photoshopping are involved in the billion dollar supplement industry. Do some of them work? Absolutely. But don’t believe what the ads claim, believe the research. You can find it in medical journals and in university databases. Before you take any supplement you should do some research to find out two things: does it actually work and is it safe for you.

So which ones work? Arguably the best combination out there is the ECA stack. Ephedrine, caffeine and aspirin. You have to buy them separately, as the mix isn’t legal. Ephedrine is legal in Canada, but only as hay fever medication. You can find it at most “health” food stores though, ironically enough. There are lots of alternatives and many popular weight loss products out there are based on the ECA stack but use alternate “herbal” ingredients that do the same thing—and have the same risks. As for which supplements are safe for you, that’s something I can’t answer. Ephedrine is the active ingredient in the stack, and also the potentially risky one. The caffeine, while it has fat burning properties of its own (thermogenesis), is used to further enhance the fat burning properties of the ephedrine. The aspirin keeps the ephedrine and caffeine active in your system longer, enhancing the duration of the effects. I tried the stack for two weeks—I wouldn’t recommend going on it for any longer than that—and saw results. Not significantly more results than the week that followed though, so while it may help it really isn’t necessary. I didn’t feel any adverse effects while on it, although the day after I stopped I felt really lethargic from dropping my caffeine intake from 600-800mg per day down to 0. That was rough. Whether you do it is up to you. It really isn’t very expensive at all. If you want to know how to take it just look up ECA stack on wikipedia. Ephedrine is a scary supplement and taking tons of caffeine can be pretty bad too. It works. It works really well. So what’s the point of all these products? They increase your resting metabolic rate. This means that your body uses more energy. This results in a steady increase in the amount of fat that you can burn throughout the day. There ARE alternatives though. Alternatives that are actually really healthy and pleasant to take.

PAGG, as described in The 4-Hour Body, is what I’m recommending to people these days. Policosanol (20-25mg), alpha-lipoic acid (ALA: 100-300mg), green tea extract (decaffeinated with 325+ mg EGCG), and garlic extract (200 mg). You’ll want to take AGG (no policosanol) 3 times a day before your biggest meals. So take the combo once before breakfast, once before lunch and once before dinner. Before bed do PAG (policosanol, ALA and garlic). I have to admit I’ve never tried policosanol. I just did the AGG four times a day. The side affects are pretty great. Bulking up made my acne act up. When bulking my testosterone production went through the roof. Combine that with my naturally acne prone skin and sweaty training sessions and … well. My acne substantially improved when I tried adding AGG to my regime. I’m not trying to lose fat at this point, but one of the main reasons why AGG worked is that it re-directs your calories into muscle instead of fat stores. It also kills shrunken fat cells, preventing the fat rebound that many dieters experience. Dieting typically reduces the size of your fat cells, but they don’t die. This makes it extremely easy to put the weight back on. Supplementing with the green tea extract will actually help your body get rid of those pesky shrunken fat cells for good. I couldn’t be happier with it. And I mean… ALA is packed full of antioxidants, green tea is a superfood (and supplementing with it is FAR healthier than drinking it as a tea) and everyone knows of the many benefits of garlic (improved immune system being one).

If you want to be dropping weight as quickly as possible they might be a good addition to your fat loss arsenal, but both Payam and Willem managed to drop 20 pounds in 30 days on a chili diet with some cardio thrown in! Supplementation isn’t necessary, and if your diet isn’t in place, it’s a waste of your time and money.

4. Bonus Tricks, Health Add-Ons & Magic Herbs

So supplementation might not be for you, but you might still want to throw a little extra flare into your program. While these tricks might not be enough to create a drastic change in 30 days used on their own, they’ll certainly help. Even if you decide you like your gut and you want to skip the rest of the program, you might find some useful tips here that you can incorporate into your life to keep you healthy.

Drinking lots of water has been known to speed up weight loss and improve health. Water allows your body to flush out the toxins that it doesn’t need and it keeps your system running smoothly, allowing you to lose weight faster. Hunger is generally an accurate representation of when your body needs food, but thirst isn’t. You should be drinking water long before you get thirsty. Most people are in a constant state of mild dehydration.

Spicy food has been known to accelerate fat loss. You’ll notice that a lot of weight loss supplements have cayenne pepper added to the mix. How effective they are at burning fat hasn’t really been determined scientifically yet, but they have been proven to cause your body to produce heat, which increases your metabolism. You might notice you sweat when you eat really spicy food. That’s one reason why that happens. To get the most out of this trick you’re going to have to eat REALLY spicy food, so this solution isn’t for you if you have a weak digestive system.

Cold Exposure, such as cold showers—and I mean EXTREMELY cold showers—will stimulate your “brown fat” which is a type of healthy fat that’s used to create heat. By taking extremely cold showers you can increase your metabolism substantially for the next several hours, as it will be creating heat to warm you back up. What you’ll want to do at the end of your shower is gradually turn the water as cold as it can go and focus the nozzle on your upper back, shoulders and chest. 30 seconds of excruciatingly cold water should be enough. I’ve tried this. It was ..er. Well. Try it out for yourself. Drinking 500ml or more of ice water on an empty stomach when you first wake up will do it too. So will placing ice-packs on your upper back for 20-30 minutes in the evening while watching TV, reading or writing. If you’re really intense and want even better results you can do 20 minute fully-submerged ice baths 3 times a week. This works. Add this to your fat loss program and watch your fat just melt off.

Cinnamon has been known to decrease insulin resistance, making your body less susceptible to insulin spikes. This will not only help accelerate your fat loss but it’s great news if you’re diabetic (type 2), as it naturally reduces blood sugar. A half teaspoon of cinnamon a day can lower LDL cholesterol, too. And it’s a great source of manganese, fiber, iron and calcium. What you’ll want to do here is take the cinnamon with your coffee in the morning (and have protein too), or before a big meal. While there are health benefits to doing this, like anything else, you need to make sure you consume it in moderation. Don’t consume more than 4g per day (one and a half teaspoons).

Drink coffee. Coffee is almost calorie free (2 calories per cup) and the caffeine in it will reduce your appetite. It’s much easier to control the calories you’re eating if you’re drinking coffee, and the caffeine has the added benefit of increasing your metabolism through thermogenesis. This doesn’t include those sugary Starbucks coffees. I’m talking about plain black coffee with no additives. There are actually a lot of great health benefits to drinking coffee too — antioxidants, improved heart health, and a reduced chance of developing Alzheimer’s!

Or Tea. Coffee not your thing? Drink lots of green tea. There are small amounts of caffeine in green tea which, like coffee, will produce thermogenesis, and it also has epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG), which studies have shown can also produce thermogenesis. The main benefit of green tea though is to your health. The antioxidants found in green tea make it one of the healthiest drinks out there. Like I mentioned earlier, though, the health benefits of tea are greater when taken as a supplement. Green tea extract is the way to go.

Air Squats, Push-ups and Pull-ups. During the end of my last year of university I had the habit of eating a tub of vanilla ice cream with frozen raspberries every night. I’d then have a few glasses of wine and some dark chocolate. I was working extremely hard to finish up all of my projects, prepare for our design grad show and prepare for exams, and by the end of the day (2am, usually) I really just wanted to relax and unwind before bed. I had this crazy idea that if I did push-ups and pull-ups before eating the ice-cream that the calories would go to my muscles instead of into fat stores. I had heard that after a workout it was important to consume simple sugars and quickly digesting protein, so I figured if I wanted to eat a tub of ice cream all I needed to do was some physical activity first. I didn’t gain a single pound. And these are full tubs of double-churn ice cream. Crazy, right? I’ve just recently discovered the science behind it. It has to do with bringing glucose transporter type 4 (GLUT-4) to the surface of muscle cells. I don’t recommend eating ice cream while dieting, but this is a great way to control the damage if you slip up or take a break: 60-90 seconds of push-ups, pull-ups or air squats a few minutes before you eat, and another 60-90 seconds an hour and a half after you eat.

5. A Day in the Life of the Shrinking You

So you’d wake up in the morning after sleeping for 6-8 hours feeling refreshed, hopefully, because your sleep should be improving on the new plan. It’s important to eat breakfast right away, so grab a bowl of muesli with milk and gulp down some chocolate whey protein mixed with water. In a rush? You could always opt for just a slim fast shake. Or, if you feel like cooking, you could whip up some whole eggs. Have a green apple too. Maybe a glass of skim milk. The tricky part with breakfast is usually the protein. You should be shooting for 20-40 grams, depending on how big you are. You don’t need much fat with breakfast. Focus on the carbs and the protein. Breakfast should leave you feeling full. In fact, when you wake up you might not even feel hungry yet, so you might need to push yourself here. Have a multivitamin, too.

A couple hours later have a weight loss shake, or some cottage cheese, or some almonds. Mix and match if you want. This meal can be small, or it can be a regular size meal, depending on how you’ve broken up your calorie intake. Make sure there is protein in this meal. Make sure there is protein in all of your meals.

When lunch rolls around you can hop down to Subway and order a 6″ turkey sub on 12 grain with double turkey, some cheese, and lots of veggies. No sauces. You could go to McDonalds and get a grilled chicken salad. You could warm up some chili you brought in a thermos. You can have a lean burger without the bun along with some vegetables. You can have a protein bar.

When your “smaller second lunch” timer goes off, like it did for Payam on the big screen while he was running a photography seminar, it’s time for another small meal. This could be any of the meals I mentioned earlier. It doesn’t need to be complicated. A handful of almonds really CAN be a snack. Those guys are jam packed full of calories. Add in some skim milk too, and you’ve got a balanced snack consisting of healthy fat, healthy protein, and healthy carbs.

The workday might be ending soon after, so you can head home, throw on your shorts, and go for a HIIT run around the block if you didn’t do it in the morning. Have some gatorade and some whey protein mixed with water. Half before the run, half after.

When you get back you can cook yourself a fairly regular dinner. Have chicken breast, a lean steak, white turkey meat or a salmon fillet. If you’re a vegetarian life is tricky, so you’ll have to find a substitute. Either way, pair the protein with some veggies or a salad. You can add in a tablespoon of olive oil or flax oil either on top of the protein or on top of the vegetables. If you’re a big guy and you have some calories left over you can have some brown rice or half a sweet potato. Both are good forms of carbs. Generally on an intense weight loss diet you’ll want to be saving those calories for massive amounts of green vegetables though.

So you have one little snack left. Right before bed what I do is have a bowl of cottage cheese. Cottage cheese is full of casein protein, which is the slowest digested protein. It should give your body a bit of energy throughout the night so you wake up feeling refreshed instead of starved. You can have a tablespoon of olive oil or a couple almonds along with it. Almond butter, so long as it’s pure almond butter, is good too. You don’t really want many carbs before bed. Fats and proteins mainly. This meal can be quite small.

You don’t need to be PERFECT, either. Try and follow the diet 90% of the time. Twice a week if you go out with friends and want a beer or a dessert after your meal don’t sweat it. Just keep it in moderation. So long as 90% of your plan is in gear the losses to your weight loss should be negligible. Alternatively, you can do what we did and take 1 day off per week. On that day have a healthy breakfast, eat whatever you want all day long, and then finish ‘er off with a healthy pre-bed snack.

6. A Day in the Life of the New You

So it’s 3 months later and you’re 40 pounds lighter and feeling pretty happy with your sexy flat stomach or monstrous sixpack. Do you need to keep that schedule up? No. You can add more calories into your diet, since you’re trying to maintain weight now, not lose it. You can add in a dessert after dinner—every day, even. You could still eat 4-7 meals a day, because that’s the healthiest way to live, but you have more freedom with what you eat. You should keep exercising too, but you can find something you like. HIIT, if you can incorporate it into your life, has many many added benefits, especially as you age, so I recommend you keep doing that at least once a week too.

Maintaining weight is usually pretty easy. You don’t want to resort to the habits that made you fat, but you also don’t need to be an angel when it comes to eating either. Your life doesn’t need to revolve around fitness. You can put it on the backburner and if you notice your body starting to slip you know exactly what you need to do to fix it. It doesn’t need to be an issue ever again.

You’ll do fine in the long run (and you don’t even need to go for long runs!).

Have a comment or question? We’d love to hear it. Drop one in the comments!

Tuesday, September 7th, 2010
49 Responses to “The Rapid & Healthy Fat-Loss System: Reveal the Abs Under the Flabs . . . Not Your Ribcage (+ Four Hour Body Tricks)”
  1. haneunee
    September 7th, 2010
    10:28 pm

    …can you just make me a menu hahha


  2. Jeff
    September 7th, 2010
    11:14 pm

    So informative, and helpful. not to mention coming in at the right time, on a workout/diet binge.

    Thanks guys!


  3. Adam
    September 8th, 2010
    8:49 am

    Just a quick note: cinnamon is touted to REDUCE insulin resistance, not increase it. I would say the jury is still out on that one though.


  4. W. Shane Duquette
    September 8th, 2010
    10:03 am

    Wow good catch Adam! You’re absolutely right. It’s a potential fix for insulin resistance, not a cause of it. I had a feeling there would be some little problem buried somewhere in that behemoth of text. I’ll fix it.


  5. Samantha Madonik
    September 8th, 2010
    10:04 am

    For vegetarians/vegans you can suggest beans, any kind of nuts, dried fruit (raisins), soy milk, almond milk, quinoa ( a grain, super-food that is packed with protein) http://www.buzzle.com/articles/quinoa-nutrition-facts.html

    hope this helps!


  6. W. Shane Duquette
    September 8th, 2010
    11:26 am

    All great foods Sam, although when trying to lose weight it’s important to be eating more protein than carbs, and some of those foods (raisins, beans, quinoa) have more carbs in them than protein and are thus mainly considered carbs. Nuts have more fat in them than protein, and are thus considered primarily a fat.

    Quinoa, for example, has 69 grams of carbs and 13 grams of protein for every 100 gram serving, making it a very healthy carb portion of a meal, but not a good substitute for a protein. To get a meal’s worth of protein out of quinoa you would have to eat about 138 carbs, throwing your 40% protein and 30% carb balance way off. Quinoa is a superfood though. In fact, beans and quinoa are some of the best foods when on a bulking/muscle building diet, as they’re so calorically dense and healthy. Makes it easy to several thousand healthy calories per day.

    The best bet for vegans, although they generally have a harder time losing and gaining weight, is to buy some sort of powdered protein supplement and take that along with meals.


  7. Teresa
    September 12th, 2010
    8:20 pm

    Good stuff guys! I am ready to kick it in high gear as I have a trip to Maui in December:)! Just want to get everything lifted and tight~ha! So my question is…what’s the chili recipe? Would you be willing to share it? I am vegetarian but eat a lot of seitan which has way more protein than carbs (depending on the brand) so it makes a great substitute for vegans and vegs…so even if your chili has meat, I could sub it out. Also, I LOVE fruit…you didn’t mention it…thoughts? I am especially loving my banana every morning…and grapes.
    Thanks:)!


  8. Samantha Madonik
    September 12th, 2010
    9:16 pm

    good to know shane! thanks for the info.


  9. W. Shane Duquette
    September 12th, 2010
    10:00 pm

    Ah Teresa you’re going to want to ditch the bananas and the grapes! Those things are packed full of calories and sugar. Fruit is a great addition to a healthy diet, but if your goal is rapid fat loss you’re going to want to sub most of it out for green vegetables, which are lower in sugar and calories. Grapes are one of the sweetest fruits out there. Cut those out! Eat ’em again once you hit your goal weight. Same with bananas. Really high in calories and sugar. The best fruits are crisp ‘n sour green apples, if you must. If you DO eat fruits anyway, just calorie count them as carbs and make sure to eat them after meals, not as snacks on their own, to mitigate the insulin spike from the sugar.

    I’ve already shared the basics of my chili recipe, actually! Right here. I’m more of an intuitive chili cook rather than a scientific one, so I don’t have measurements for everything—although I did initially break it down into protein/fat/carbs to make sure the ratio was correct and to get a calorie count per scoop. I have 2 large scoops when bulking and 1.3 scoops when cutting. Added to that I throw in a couple table spoons of Udo’s Choice Oils, which is a mix of all the healthy fats you need. You can use flax oil and olive oil instead. Make sure not to heat those though, as that will wreck them.


  10. Teresa
    September 12th, 2010
    10:15 pm

    Hey Shane,

    Thank YOU! Though I had to shed a tear a bit over my bananas and grapes…luckily I have a strange affection for Kale chips…so I’ll just make that my go to. Not sure if you’ve ever made Kale Chips but they are awesome…everyone kind of goes..”um…what, yuck” but then they try them and they are so much better than potato chips and obviously healthy! So I will definitely cut out the bananas and grapes..thanks for the tip…and I’ll check out your chili recipe as well. Thanks for getting back to me so quick!


  11. W. Shane Duquette
    September 12th, 2010
    11:00 pm

    Oh wow I looked up kale chips. What a great idea. Sounds like the perfect snack! Let me know how the diet goes!


  12. Dex
    September 17th, 2010
    12:27 am

    Lots of very good information! Also I would like to request a shopping list for fooood? 1 week


  13. W. Shane Duquette
    September 19th, 2010
    3:49 pm

    That’s a great idea, actually. I’ll have to write up a couple sample days and grocery lists and pop ’em up on the blog in the future. Stay tuned!


  14. Drew
    September 21st, 2010
    8:59 pm

    I’ve recently lost 45lbs, but I still have 20lbs of fat to burn and I need to start lifting so I’m not scrawny. I can start to see my ribs and I don’t have abs…how do I work on them and build them up? My next step is taking post work out whey protein and heavy lifting while staying on a cut.


  15. W. Shane Duquette
    September 21st, 2010
    9:34 pm

    Hey Drew,
    That’s incredible. 40lbs?! Congrats. The last few pounds are often the trickiest. If you can’t see your abs don’t sweat it, they’re probably there. Probably. I had the problem of having underdeveloped abs too. I kept reading “you need to burn the fat to see the abs” and I was sitting there, emaciated, thinking “Yeah yeah.. I know. But then what?”
    a) Planks. These don’t really work those outer abs that everyone wants, but they push them out, making them seem bigger. When I started doing planks my abs started to become visible for the first time.
    b) Crunches. Make sure you’re doing these right. Most people don’t. There will make those 6/8 pack muscles bigger.
    c) Vacuum. This will work the often forgotten transverse abdominus muscle. I found I could better flex my abs after mastering this. Did it make them bigger? I really can’t be sure. I do highly recommend it though, and you can do it anywhere.
    2) You can find programs out there with a bunch of different exercises. This one has some good oblique exercises, but it’s rather long. You don’t need to be doing multiple sets of 8 exercises for 30 reps each. Willem, the guy in the photo above, did “7 minute abs” for a while. Similar routine. If you do the Scott Herman routine I’d try and finish it in under 10 minutes.
    . . . . and, of course, the people out there saying you need to get rid of the fat first are right—but I agree with you: better to start making the muscles bigger as you go.
    Good luck!
    -Shane


  16. W. Shane Duquette
    September 21st, 2010
    9:42 pm

    And by underdeveloped abs I meant REALLY underdeveloped abs. When I started the program I couldn’t do a single sit-up (feet unsupported). Now I’m doing pretty well.


  17. Drew
    September 21st, 2010
    10:09 pm

    Thanks for all the tips, I’m about 180 now, but I still have that approx. 20lbs I need to lose. I look good with clothes, but like a shrunken fat person without a shirt. I’m obviously looking to change that substantially between now and Christmas then get really fit for the spring and summer.


  18. W. Shane Duquette
    September 21st, 2010
    10:24 pm

    Awesome man. Be sure to stay in touch with your results! Got to get those abs ready so you look good in your snowsuit at the christmas party, right? 😉


  19. Drew
    September 21st, 2010
    10:26 pm

    I’m in the south, no snow suits for me. I’m just kind of setting a date in my mind. Do you do any kind of HIIT?


  20. W. Shane Duquette
    September 21st, 2010
    11:08 pm

    I’m currently bulking, so no HIIT. We’re trying out a 4 day per week training program mixing both 5×5 and some hypertrophy training together. So far it’s the most intense program we’ve done. Let’s hope it pays off!
    I did HIIT for 4 weeks last month during our cutting phase. I went from 175lbs to 161lbs. The last week I tried to lower my water retention, so I only counted the first 3 week loss (9lbs) for the purposes of this article.
    The cut went great! I would feel very hungry before every meal, but I didn’t have a constant hungry state. My energy levels were fantastic and the fat slowly melted off while my performance improved slightly in the gym.
    We’re Canadian. Lots of snow. You lucky bastard you. We’re wearing jackets already!


  21. […] The Rapid & Healthy Fat-Loss System: … […]


  22. dude
    October 3rd, 2010
    2:21 pm

    Hey guys. I was a fat 136, 20-25% body fat, 5’3″ last Christmas, then reached 126 in spring, stalled, but reached 120 mid summer, stalled. I went as low as 118, but I still had body fat over my abs and skinny frame overall. I am back to eating for energy rather than for an arbitrary number. I feel better, around 121 now, and strangely enough, my waist is the same, and the scale says I’ve weighed less since my 2 week eating “binge”.


  23. Harry
    October 29th, 2010
    4:35 am

    Mate,
    Loved it! Great bunch of tips! I really like the way you incorporate simple tricks into your program that wont make it a real uphill struggle for us.

    Cheers mate


  24. Willem
    January 12th, 2011
    2:16 am

    Hey foxhound!, haha thanks for using me as your posterboy!, I have actually spent that last couple months travelling and quite unintelligently neglecting to watch my weight, which resulting in it catching up with me a little recently, so… back to the grinding wheel!

    Thanks for the thorough post!, it’s awesome to have some of the things we worked on, and heaps more great info put down in an easily accessible format, definitely going to have to go through a couple times to digest all of the info!

    I have found that protein and dietary supplements, though not hard to get my hands on, are a bit too dear for the wallet, and I also have been eating a close to vegetarian diet, so this time is a little bit of a change for me!, I will be making a big batch of chili in the next couple days, we’ll see if it turns out as usual or something amazing (hoping for the latter), but I’ll let you know if I find any goldnuggets to add to the recipe!

    As for exercise, I am doing a 3 session per week workout at the climbing gym, though not perfected yet, it is getting pretty fleshed out, and has been doing wonders for my core strength and flexibility, as well as starting kick in as a weight loss catalyst in the next week or so. The next step is to resume a more carefully constructed diet, instead of snacking and eating at any odd hour, which seems to be my biggest crux.

    I’m off to the Gym, but thanks again!, and I’ll keep you updated!

    Miss you guys heaps!


  25. Karanime
    January 12th, 2011
    7:13 pm

    I love you, I love you, I love you, I love you, I love you, I love you, I love you, I love you!

    SERIOUSLY. I’ve been sitting here with the 4-Hour Body going, “Wait, so what happens if I do this? Or that? Or screw up really badly? I’m really tired and angry, what am I doing wrong? TIM, WHY AREN’T YOU ANSWERING MY QUESTIONS!?”

    I’m so unbelievably grateful for this post that I’ve pasted it all over my Facebook and Twitter, I’ve subscribed to the blog, and I’m directing all my weight-loss buddies here.

    Thank you, ILY!

    /<3


  26. Jared Polowick
    January 13th, 2011
    1:56 pm

    Willem, glad to hear you’re back on track!

    Karanime – we’re happy to know you’re finding it useful! We’ve also read the 4HR Body (great book) and we know about the techniques in there so if you have any unanswered questions, just post here and we’ll get back to you. Keep us updated on your progress!


  27. Willem
    January 28th, 2011
    3:36 am

    Hey!, I found this video today, thought it might be inspirational 🙂 I am definitely going to incorporate some of this into my workout!


  28. Ashlynne Thompson
    February 16th, 2011
    11:18 am

    Hey Foxhound! I am just curious as to what your advice would be with drinking alcohol while trying to slim down? I know a lot of ‘diets’ encourage complete avoidance of alcohol when dieting but I find it a little tricky sometimes (I’m a student–parties/drinking is everywhere). So do you think taking the complete avoidance rule is key initially? Or is there something I can drink that’s rather low in calories and won’t make me gain a lot of weight? 😛

    Oh! Also, do you think it’s a good idea to do a little detox before starting to change my eating habits? Perhaps it will speed weight loss up a little bit?

    Thanks a ton guys,
    Cheers! =)


  29. W. Shane Duquette
    February 17th, 2011
    9:42 pm

    Hey Ashlynne,
    We went with six days on, one day off. During the dieting I usually drank about once a week. 3-10 drinks (I was at university too!). While it’s true that avoiding alcohol completely is the best way to drop weight the quickest, the most important thing is dropping weight in the long run, right? If you go so hardcore with the diet that you end up quitting it or hating life then in the long run you won’t be as well of as if you took a break here and there and enjoyed yourself and the process.
    As for what to drink. We have an article on that! We’ve got tons of tips on how to drink when on a workout regimen or fat loss diet. When bulking my drink of choice is vodka+milk (as you can see in my display pic there) and when cutting I generally go with vodka+water+fresh lemon. Gin and tonic is totally cool. So are shots. Keep in mind that drinking slows your metabolism. If you drink smart you can avoid GAINING fat… but your fat LOSS might be slowed for a bit. Try to either keep it reasonable (1 drink a day for most girls) or limit your wild drinking to one day a week (less healthy… but damn fun).
    I haven’t experimented with detox!
    Good luck!


  30. Rob
    April 8th, 2011
    7:25 pm

    Hey guys

    Love the site. I’ve been reading 4 hour body and you guys break it down much simpler. I’ve been doing strength training three times a week and HIIT twice a week. Saw the weight drop off the first week (4 lbs or so), but not much has happened since then.
    Been sticking pretty rigidly to the diet too

    I tend to start each of my strength workouts with a 16 minute HIIT session too, do you think this is detrimental to the system? I like to get my heart racing before weights, but not sure if it’s causing any problems.

    I’m going to try PAGG/AGG from next week too to see if that helps burn the fat.

    Any tips would be awesome.

    Cheers


  31. W. Shane Duquette
    April 17th, 2011
    8:23 pm

    Hey Rob. Congrats on the 4 pounds lost in the first week! That’s incredible! If you’re following the diet and the exercise plan and your weight isn’t decreasing that isn’t a sign that something’s going wrong, it just means that you should be dropping your daily caloric intake. Try 300 less calories a day and see what happens. If that doesn’t work, try dropping it a little further. The best way to do this is just to make your meals a little smaller — but be sure to keep your protein content high, or you’ll suffer in the gym.
    I recently accidentally wound up doing some high intensity exercise before meeting up with Jared and heading to the gym. All of my lifts improved on schedule. There are some certain downsides, but if you’re trying to lose weight instead of pack on muscle then it shouldn’t be a problem. I’d switch to doing it afterwards though. Warm up for a few minutes if you like before your workout. We don’t, but there’s no harm in it. We just do a couple warm-up sets of our starting exercise (eg squats at 50% working weight). I’d do the 16 minute HIIT session right after. Here’s why:
    -You want 100% strength for the lifting session
    -You’ll lose more fat while doing HIIT if your glycogen stores have already been depleted by the weight lifting
    I haven’t tried PAGG but I’ve heard good things about it. Let me know how it goes!


  32. Andree Guiles
    July 11th, 2011
    11:16 am

    Have you ever considered writing an ebook or guest authoring on other blogs? Do it!


  33. […] The Rapid & Healthy Fat-Loss System: … […]


  34. Dex
    December 4th, 2011
    2:45 pm

    hey whatever happened to the shopping list for groceries?


  35. W. Shane Duquette
    December 6th, 2011
    6:20 pm

    Hey Dex,
    I started writing up an ebook for rapid (and healthy) muscle gain for scrawny guys. I’m pretty excited. It’s got stuff like grocery lists and recipes. You make a good point though — I should write up a little article for fat loss outlining the pros and cons of different foods! Adding us on Facebook is the best way to keep up to date. Or check back in a few weeks!
    My best,
    Shane


  36. mike
    January 23rd, 2012
    9:49 am

    Hey, Shane I was just wondering what the chili recipe is that you used in willems diet if you could post it that would be awesome! Thanks
    -mike


  37. W. Shane Duquette
    January 27th, 2012
    4:58 pm

    Hey Mike,
    I get that question a lot! We’re actually writing up a recipe book right now with a bunch of great recipes, although they’re mainly for lean muscle gain, not rapid fat loss. The chili recipe, in order of what goes into the pot, consists of:
    -Coconut oil
    -Onions, garlic
    -A lot of ground turkey
    -Habanero peppers
    -Tomato paste, tomato sauce or ground tomatoes (watch out for BPA — don’t get ’em in cans)
    -Spices (salt, pepper, cayenne, chili powder, masala tandoori or cumin, hot sauce)
    -Black beans, kidney beans
    -Peas
    -A generous amount of almond butter
    -A tiny bit of vinegar

    Hope that helps! I’ll have the recipe written up in more detail soon! Check back 🙂


  38. W. Shane Duquette
    January 27th, 2012
    5:02 pm

    To make it juicier Willem would also toss in some Rooibos tea along with the tomato sauce.


  39. Dc
    February 7th, 2012
    11:23 am

    Hey guys,
    Really great site and full of fantastic information, thanks for going to such levels of detail.

    One quick question; When you took the AGG supplement stack did you take the amounts mentioned three/four times a day? or are they the total amounts to be split three/four times?

    Again, many thanks for the great site and looking forward to your response.
    Best,
    Dc


  40. W. Shane Duquette
    February 7th, 2012
    7:20 pm

    Hey Dc,
    The amounts listed are single doses. Take them 3-4 times a day 🙂
    -Shane


  41. Dc
    February 8th, 2012
    11:31 am

    Thanks Shane, much appreciated.
    Dc


  42. Son Ulwelling
    February 12th, 2013
    12:25 am

    Just a quick note about pine pollen. If you have asthma or are prone to allergic reactions then this is not the product for you.I stick with the tribulus that I get from Pure Bulk, which is still extremely cost effective even though I get it sent out to Australia.


  43. MaryD
    March 4th, 2013
    5:10 pm

    Hello guys! I’ve recently lost 70 lbs and I still have about 40 to go. My problem is that I’m not sure how to exercise my torso because I tend to develop hernias (I’ve had four and I have a small tear again). Do you have any advice for me? Your ideas are great and I look forward to your reply.


  44. W. Shane Duquette
    April 23rd, 2013
    3:23 pm

    This is likely really controversial advice, but that’s actually fairly common, and a cool way to fix it is by improving your alignment and strengthening the muscles surrounding your spine. Check this article out:

    http://bonytobeastly.com/ectomorph-weightlifting/

    Definitely go see an expert though. Fixing up back injuries is something where it’s worth it to do it right!


  45. William
    June 30th, 2013
    1:20 am

    Is there a diet menu for a person of around 150lb? Really having a hard time trying to do groceries


  46. Diane Gulder
    April 17th, 2014
    9:37 am

    I have been always drinking green tea in plenty and lately started to include cinnamon to everything possible and feel much better. I don’t have chocolate cravings that much anymore.


  47. Leo
    September 11th, 2014
    7:13 pm

    Shane, what workout do you suggest to use when losing fat with this diet? Full-body just compounds 3 times a week or compounds + accessory or upper/lower 4 times a week or push/pull/legs? Very heavy like 5×5 or 3×5 or moderate like 2-3×8-10? Thanks a lot!


  48. Lindsey
    July 13th, 2015
    11:24 am

    Once figuring out your macros – mine says to eat about 200 carbs per day. I do a lot of HIIT (probably 3-4) per week combined with weight training and at least 1 long run tossed in there. I eat about 70/30 clean….but fat doesn’t seem to want to budge. Any suggestions? I already track my macros and intake via my fitness pal…but even with 2000 cals per day…I still feel hungry most of the time, even with 65g of fat and 140 g of protein.

    Help this hungry girl out. 🙂


  49. […] Here‘s an article on how to lean up the healthy way. […]


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