Read an Excerpt
As an aspiring teenage bodybuilder in the mid-1980s, I was initiated into the world of body transformation. That’s when I began learning a philosophy and methodology so effective for getting lean, I was ultimately able to achieve body fat as low as 3.7 percent while at my competition peak. To give you some idea of what that means, the average male has about 17 percent body fat and the average female has about 25 percent. If you want to see six-pack abs, you’ll usually need to drop to under 10 percent body fat if you’re male and down to about 15 percent or so if you’re female. Three percent is essential body fat in men, which is the amount necessary just to stay healthy. This means my body fat got so low, virtually no fat was left beneath my skin. People told me I looked like a walking anatomy chart. In bodybuilding vernacular, the word for that is “ripped.” Mind you, I’m not naturally lean. Before I learned how to cut body fat, I’d never seen my abs. In fact, I was a slightly chubby freshman in high school, embarrassed to take my shirt off for swimming class. How things changed.
By my twenties, I became a multititle winner in bodybuilding and got so lean and muscular that many people thought I was taking steroids or fat-burning drugs. The truth is, I have never taken a banned or illegal performance-enhancing substance in my life. I developed my physique naturally with nutrient-dense food, a carefully controlled calorie intake, progressive resistance weight training, the right dose of cardio, a mind focused on well-formed goals, strong emotional drive, and a great support system of friends, training partners, and mentors. I realized, of course, that most people had no interest in bodybuilding. Nevertheless, I was sure the type of nutrition programs I was using for fat reduction with such success could work for others even if they had more modest goals. So I compiled my fat-burning techniques into an organized system and began teaching them to others.
Since 1990, I’ve personally trained hundreds of people one-on-one in the gym. More than six hundred people graduated from my twelve-week “Burn the Fat” coaching program, which later became the basis of my first self-published e-book, Burn the Fat, Feed the Muscle. Since the Internet boom at the turn of the millennium, tens of thousands of men and women from more than 143 countries have used my Web-based fat-burning programs, hundreds of thousands have subscribed to my e-mail newsletters, and millions have visited my websites and blogs.
How Effective Does Your Fat-Burning Program Need to Be?
Under my guidance, men and women were cutting body fat like crazy, even when they’d been stuck for years with stubborn belly fat or diet-resistant lowerbody flab. I’ve lost count of how many of my clients have joined my 100 Pounds Gone Club and more than one has shed over two hundred pounds. I also worked with people who weren’t overweight. They started with average body fat levels, and I helped them reach the extreme leanness necessary for bodybuilding, fitness, figure, or before-and-after transformation contests. Despite the fact that people of every size, shape, age, and background were succeeding using my advice, I noticed that something was missing. I seemed to attract a certain type of client, and most of them had a few things in common: they were all highly motivated, they all wanted to maximize their results, and they were all willing to do whatever it took to achieve their goals. These people were serious.
I’m not sure if it was my physical appearance, my “no shortcuts” work ethic, or my “no gimmicks” approach that drew these people to me. Maybe it was because my programs had their origin in the subculture of bodybuilders and fitness models, a fact many people found intriguing. On the other hand, it was very intimidating to others. My guess is that some people were thinking, “I’m not interested in gaining muscle,” or “I don’t need to be ‘ripped.’” When I started in the fitness business, it never would have dawned on me that a program could be too effective or too sophisticated. Truth be told, I was always looking for advanced diet tricks or some extra competitive edge to shed that final ounce of fat. In hindsight, I now see that the programs I prescribed may have been the most effective in the world, but they were like shooting a squirrel with a cannon! It’s nice to have all that firepower, but it’s overkill for the job.
My New Solution for Millions of “Regular People”
For a long time I believed that maximizing results depended on doing nutrition strictly by the numbers and also customizing those numbers for every individual. Ultimately, I realized the only thing necessary for most people to succeed was a handful of daily behavior changes and a shift in mind-set. I also learned I didn’t have to explain all the mechanisms, only provide the action steps. You don’t need to understand electricity to light your home, you only need to know how to flip the switch.
My new keyword became “simplicity.” I grew convinced that by developing a simple new lifestyle program, I would be able to help, not tens of thousands of serious and already motivated fitness enthusiasts, but tens of millions of regular people to get the bodies of their dreams. I wanted to help people with common everyday challenges, such as high stress, lack of time, emotional eating, and sporadic motivation. I needed a solution with principles so simple that people would no longer ask, “Will it work for me?” but would instead say, “I can do that!” By stepping outside my world of high-level physique transformation toward the wants, needs, and goals of ordinary “real people,” I finally figured out how to create such a program: I worked backward. I started with the causes and traced them back to the solutions.
What’s the Real Cause of the Body Fat Problem?
I could only succeed in reverse engineering a solution by understanding that body fat is a problem with multiple causes, including inactivity, diet, hormones, genetics, mental programming, emotions, environment, and social pressure. As diverse as they may seem, these factors all lead to one pivotal point in the causal chain: a calorie surplus.
If you have more body fat than you want, it’s because you’ve been consuming more calories than you’ve been burning. Knowing this, however, doesn’t tell you why you have a calorie surplus in the first place. I’m sure you’ve heard “Eat less and exercise more” hundreds of times, but following this advice alone didn’t solve the problem, did it? The Body Fat Solution acknowledges calorie management as the key to body fat control, but at the same time it delves further to find the root causes of overeating and inactivity.
The explanations proposed for excess food intake and obesity are limitless and the debates about the best way to lose fat seem never ending. One reason why there’s no consensus is because so many authorities on health, fitness, and weight control are heavily vested in their own theories and ideologies. In the last few decades, when health and weight-loss experts have come across a new discovery in obesity research, they’ve often taken that one aspect of this multifaceted problem and created an entire program around it. One “evil culprit” is often blamed as the cause or one “magic bullet” praised as the cure or solution. Though there are others too numerous to mention, examples include:
- All types of low-carbohydrate diets that drastically reduce sugar and carbs
- Low-glycemic-index diets that recommend specific types of carbs
- Low-fat diets that reduce intake of dietary fat
- Omega, Mediterranean, or fish-oil diets that increase consumption of essential fats
- Paleolithic diets that eliminate modern processed foods
- Metabolic typing or diets that prescribe macronutrient ratios (for example, the 40-30-30 diet)
- Inflammation (anti-inflammatory diet)
- pH balance (acid-alkaline diet)
- Detoxification diets to purge harmful substances from the body
- Hormones—insulin, growth hormone, leptin, thyroid, cortisol, and testosterone (there’s a diet revolving around each one, believe it or not)
Each one of these approaches may contain important and scientifically valid information. Because there may be truth in all of them, readers seldom question their integrity or efficacy, nor should they, in most cases. What they should question is whether making one change in diet or targeting a single cause will solve a problem as complex as obesity. Unfortunately, it’s the norm for a new or contrarian approach to take the spotlight—not because it’s a breakthrough worthy of center stage, but because the marketplace demands and thrives on novelty.
Year after year, you’ve seen one “next big thing” after another, and yet you’ve usually been left disappointed each time. Every new diet seems to be based on a unique idea. Each sounds plausible. Some contain a thread of truth, but they all fall short if they contain only a single thread in a much larger tapestry. What’s been missing in every case can be summed up in a single word: synergy. We’ve focused on isolated details, but missed the big picture of how all the pieces work together in real life for real people.
Why is there still a body fat problem today, and how do we solve it? I’ve devoted my adult life and career to studying these questions. Not only have I found answers, I’ve put them all together into a simple five-part formula that will work for millions of people, including you. It’s a synergistic, total-life approach that addresses all of the true root causes of the body fat problem in every area of your life—physical, mental, emotional, and social. It’s called the Body Fat Solution.