Read an Excerpt
As an aspiring teenage bodybuilder in the mid-1980s, I was initiated intothe world of body transformation. That’s when I began learning a philosophyand methodology so effective for getting lean, I was ultimately ableto achieve body fat as low as 3.7 percent while at my competition peak. To giveyou some idea of what that means, the average male has about 17 percent bodyfat 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 anddown to about 15 percent or so if you’re female.Three percent is essential body fat in men, which is the amount necessaryjust to stay healthy. This means my body fat got so low, virtually no fat was leftbeneath my skin. People told me I looked like a walking anatomy chart. Inbodybuilding vernacular, the word for that is “ripped.” Mind you, I’m not naturallylean. Before I learned how to cut body fat, I’d never seen my abs. In fact, Iwas a slightly chubby freshman in high school, embarrassed to take my shirt offfor swimming class. How things changed.
By my twenties, I became a multititle winner in bodybuilding and got so leanand 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-enhancingsubstance in my life. I developed my physique naturally with nutrient-dense food,a carefully controlled calorie intake, progressive resistance weight training, the rightdose of cardio, a mind focused on well-formed goals, strong emotional drive, anda 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 reductionwith such success could work for others even if they had more modest goals. SoI compiled my fat-burning techniques into an organized system and beganteaching them to others.
Since 1990, I’ve personally trained hundreds of people one-on-one in thegym. More than six hundred people graduated from my twelve-week “Burn theFat” coaching program, which later became the basis of my first self-publishede-book, Burn the Fat, Feed the Muscle. Since the Internet boom at the turn ofthe millennium, tens of thousands of men and women from more than 143countries have used my Web-based fat-burning programs, hundreds of thousandshave subscribed to my e-mail newsletters, and millions have visited mywebsites and blogs.
How Effective Does Your Fat-Burning Program Need to Be?
Under my guidance, men and women were cutting body fat like crazy, evenwhen they’d been stuck for years with stubborn belly fat or diet-resistant lowerbodyflab. I’ve lost count of how many of my clients have joined my 100 PoundsGone Club and more than one has shed over two hundred pounds. I alsoworked with people who weren’t overweight. They started with average body fatlevels, 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 weresucceeding using my advice, I noticed that something was missing. I seemed toattract 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 theywere all willing to do whatever it took to achieve their goals. These people wereserious.
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 becausemy programs had their origin in the subculture of bodybuilders and fitnessmodels, a fact many people found intriguing. On the other hand, it was veryintimidating to others. My guess is that some people were thinking, “I’m not interestedin gaining muscle,” or “I don’t need to be ‘ripped.’”When I started in the fitness business, it never would have dawned on methat a program could be too effective or too sophisticated. Truth be told, I wasalways looking for advanced diet tricks or some extra competitive edge to shedthat final ounce of fat. In hindsight, I now see that the programs I prescribed mayhave been the most effective in the world, but they were like shooting a squirrelwith 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 nutritionstrictly by the numbers and also customizing those numbers for every individual.Ultimately, I realized the only thing necessary for most people to succeed was ahandful of daily behavior changes and a shift in mind-set. I also learned I didn’thave to explain all the mechanisms, only provide the action steps. You don’t needto understand electricity to light your home, you only need to know how to flipthe switch.
My new keyword became “simplicity.” I grew convinced that by developinga simple new lifestyle program, I would be able to help, not tens of thousands ofserious and already motivated fitness enthusiasts, but tens of millions of regularpeople to get the bodies of their dreams. I wanted to help people with commoneveryday challenges, such as high stress, lack of time, emotional eating, and sporadicmotivation. I needed a solution with principles so simple that peoplewould 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 towardthe wants, needs, and goals of ordinary “real people,” I finally figured out how tocreate such a program: I worked backward. I started with the causes and tracedthem 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 thatbody fat is a problem with multiple causes, including inactivity, diet, hormones,genetics, mental programming, emotions, environment, and social pressure. Asdiverse as they may seem, these factors all lead to one pivotal point in the causalchain: a calorie surplus.
If you have more body fat than you want, it’s because you’ve been consumingmore calories than you’ve been burning. Knowing this, however, doesn’ttell 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 alonedidn’t solve the problem, did it? The Body Fat Solution acknowledges caloriemanagement as the key to body fat control, but at the same time it delves furtherto find the root causes of overeating and inactivity.
The explanations proposed for excess food intake and obesity are limitlessand the debates about the best way to lose fat seem never ending. One reasonwhy there’s no consensus is because so many authorities on health, fitness, andweight control are heavily vested in their own theories and ideologies.In the last few decades, when health and weight-loss experts have come acrossa new discovery in obesity research, they’ve often taken that one aspect of this multifacetedproblem and created an entire program around it. One “evil culprit” isoften 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 essentialfats
- 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 validinformation. Because there may be truth in all of them, readers seldom questiontheir integrity or efficacy, nor should they, in most cases. What they should questionis whether making one change in diet or targeting a single cause will solve aproblem as complex as obesity. Unfortunately, it’s the norm for a new or contrarianapproach to take the spotlight—not because it’s a breakthrough worthy of centerstage, but because the marketplace demands and thrives on novelty.
Year after year, you’ve seen one “next big thing” after another, and yet you’veusually been left disappointed each time. Every new diet seems to be based on aunique idea. Each sounds plausible. Some contain a thread of truth, but they allfall short if they contain only a single thread in a much larger tapestry. What’sbeen missing in every case can be summed up in a single word: synergy. We’vefocused on isolated details, but missed the big picture of how all the pieces worktogether in real life for real people.
Why is there still a body fat problem today, and how do we solve it? I’ve devotedmy adult life and career to studying these questions. Not only have I foundanswers, I’ve put them all together into a simple five-part formula that will workfor millions of people, including you. It’s a synergistic, total-life approach that addressesall of the true root causes of the body fat problem in every area of yourlife—physical, mental, emotional, and social. It’s called the Body Fat Solution.