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Fast or Slow – How Should You Approach Fat Loss?

Articles / 09 January, 2018 /

By Christian Thibaudeau

You want to get leaner… no, you want to get shredded. You know that you will have to cut calories and likely carbs too. You are aware that you will likely have to step your training up an notch and probably need to throw cardio into the mix. You might even want to use supplements to help the process. But here is a question you might not have considered: Do I try to lose a lot of fat as fast as possible or do I use a more gradual, longer term approach?

Those who give a more emotional response will want to do the former… after all they want the fat off yesterday! Those who think in a more objective and pragmatic manner will go with the long game approach, to minimize the chances of doing something harmful to their body and avoid losing muscle.

What really is the best option? Is there even one? In this article, I will discuss three different ways of approaching a fat loss phase, their pros and cons and whether one is better than the other. Or maybe it depends on the person (hint: it generally does).

This is a very important subject, especially if we consider the low rate of success of most fat loss phases: either people fail to achieve their goals or they rebound quickly once they reach them.

THE THREE PATHS

In the introduction, I mentioned two different approaches to getting shredded: the blitz approach and the long game. But there is a third one that is a blend of both. To use training terminology, fat loss can either be a sprint, intervals or a marathon.

Fat loss sprint: A short, intense, all-out fat loss effort. You pull out all the stops and go balls to the walls for a short period of time (normally 4-6 weeks). Right from the start, you go with a large caloric deficit, cut your energetic nutrients (carbs and fats) by a lot, increase your training volume and intensity, throw cardio in, do two-a-days if you can, and use fat loss supplements if you desire. The goal is to shed as much body fat as possible before you cause any potential damage or lose motivation.

Fat loss marathon: This is the typical “bodybuilding” approach. You take a longer period to diet the fat off, normally 16-20 weeks (some leaner individuals will diet down for 10-12 weeks only). The fat loss effort starts more conservative: doing the minimum to still get a significant rate of fat loss. As the phase progresses, you will turn the intensity up a notch: cutting more calories, doing more cardio, adding a fat burner, etc.

Fat loss intervals: This is a combination of fat loss sprints and a longer overall duration. Basically, doing short (2-4 weeks) blitzes where the fat loss efforts are very intense and taking fat loss breaks of 1-2 weeks in between these blitzes. This is repeated until the desired leanness is achieved.

Each approach has its pros and cons. They can all work, but they can also all lead to problems. Let’s discuss this in greater detail.

FAT LOSS SPRINT

This is an approach where you basically do everything possible to lose fat as fast as possible. It’s an extremist approach. Everything is pushed to the limit right out of the gates. It is not something that is sustainable for long, or even for a moderate time. Well, it is if you have an iron-clad discipline and don’t care about health, well-being, performance and muscle mass.

Caloric intake

You start off with an extreme caloric deficit. How low do you go? This will depend on the individual of course, but if we use the work of Lyle McDonald as a reference (Ultimate Diet 2.0), you would cut your maintenance calories by 50% without going lower than 1200 calories for men and 900 calories for women. Even though we had our differences, I must say that Lyle is one of the smartest individuals in the world when it comes to diet.

So, if your maintenance calorie level is 2800 kcals per day, your daily intake would be 1400 kcals.

What is your maintenance calorie level? It depends on the individual and their activity levels. For most people, it falls between 14 and 17 calories per pound of body weight, but there will be some variation. For example, someone who is 350 lbs with 40% body fat would have a theoretical maintenance level of 4900 – 5900. This is likely too high, but it can give you a good starting point.

The method I prefer is to write down everything you eat/drink for a week (including quantities), calculate your average daily caloric intake and register the difference in body weight between day 1 and day 7. If your body weight didn’t change, you likely ate at around maintenance level, if weight went up, your average intake was a surplus and if it went down, it was a deficit. So, it can help you get a pretty good idea of where your maintenance level is.

Protein needs to be high to prevent muscle loss. 1.25g per pound of body weight is a good starting point. This will not leave much room for carbs and fats: if you are 200lbs, it represents a protein intake of 250g which is 1000 kcals from protein. If your blitz caloric intake is 1400 kcals per day, that leaves you with only 400 calories from fat and carbs combined. You can use any fat/carbs combo as long as you stay at your calculated level.

400 kcals from carbs and protein could be:

– 0g of carbs (0 kcals) and 44g of fat (400 kcals)

– 25g of carbs (100 kcals) and 33g of fat (300 kcals)

– 50g of carbs (200 kcals) and 22g of fat (200 kcals)

– 75g of carbs (300 kcals) and 11g of fat (100 kcals)

I would personally go with the first or second option but it depends on each person.

Weight training

I don’t like to use the lifting session as a fat loss tool (although it will help). I prefer to design the sessions to maximize muscle mass retention. Normally when volume is too high, cortisol is increased which increases the chances of losing muscle. BUT this is a blitz: you want the fastest fat loss possible. You are not likely to lose muscle mass in 4 weeks even if the volume is high and cortisol release is increased. Chronic cortisol increase is a problem, but as part of a blitz it is probably okay.

So, I would increase training volume versus what you normally do, maybe doing 25-50% more volume. I would also shorten the rest intervals to keep energy expenditure higher. So basically, your training time will be the same, but you will be doing more work with less rest.

If it is something your schedule allows you to do, you could train twice a day. In that case I recommend training the same muscle(s) in both sessions of the same day. You would go heavier in the first session and for more of a “pump” in the second.

Cardio/Energy systems work

You would start right off the bat with a high amount of cardio work. This means a high frequency: 5-6 days a week.

The type of cardio you select will depend on your neurotype, the key is just doing it. Read this article for some options for your type: https://thibarmy.com/the-best-fat-loss-tools-for-your-neurotype/

I prefer to do the cardio as a separate session in the day, but if you can’t, do the cardio after your lifting.

Since this is a blitz you start immediatly with a high amount per session (see the article linked above for recommendations) because you won’t increase it during the 4 or so weeks of the blitz.

Pros and Cons of the blitz approach

Pros:

– It’s over quickly. Few people like the dieting down process since it’s all about discipline and restriction. Some do better on it than others, but for a lot of people it’s hell, and they prefer to suffer a bit more but be over with it sooner than later.

– If you are a very intense/excessive person, it will fit your personality better. Some people don’t get motivated unless they feel like they are doing everything possible to reach their goal. Not only that, they need to do everything at the extreme level.

– It gives rapid significant results. While it may displease the “don’t lose more than 2 lbs per week” crowd, cutting calories to a greater degree and exercising more will give faster results than a more conservative approach. And no, at first, it should not lead to muscle loss since you are doing this for a brief period only and losing muscle is about the third strategy the body will use to cope with caloric restriction.

– Mentally, I find that it puts you in the zone more easily. It makes the process more real because it is such a drastic departure from your normal habits. Being in the zone can make it easier to stay focused and stay the course.

Cons:

– For some people (some neurotypes) there is a chance of losing muscle. This is the case of those who naturally overproduce cortisol (Type 3 and Type 2B). Cortisol is one of the hormones responsible for mobilizing stored nutrients for energy when your diet doesn’t provide enough and to increase blood sugar levels when it is too low: two things that will happen when you diet (especially with the blitz approach). Some people are better at doing that mobilization via growth hormone or glucagon, so they are less likely to lose muscle. But if you naturally overproduce cortisol the chances of losing muscle on a blitz diet is real.

– You will have energy crashes and likely will feel like crap from time to time. While this is true for all fat loss diets (to some extent), it is much worse with a blitz approach. After all, the energy deprivation is much greater and energetic nutrients are super low. Sure, you will mobilize body fat for fuel and you can also rely on some ketones, but these are not as efficient as carbs when it comes to fueling intense workout or the brain. Even those who are pro-keto admit that the first 2-3 weeks might be hard on energy and mental focus until the body adapts to ketones. Well, with a blitz approach you don’t really reach that adaptation state.

– Your workouts will start to suck. The first week you will be fine: you will be running on the stored glycogen from the pre-diet time. After that you will see a drastic decrease in training energy: you will lose some strength and some resistance, this will be made worse by the higher training volume and cardio. You will have less energy and drive to train. This is where a lot of people compensate by using high doses of stimulants, an approach I’m not comfortable recommending for several health reasons. The low level of glycogen and problems staying hydrated due to the low carbs will also make it much harder to get a good pump, which can be mentally hard.

– You will feel flat like a pancake. As I just mentioned, your glycogen stores will be close to empty. That means that your muscles will feel smaller, softer and flatter. This can be demoralizing because it will also make you look much worse while you are trying to look much better! But it’s not muscle loss, it’s only your muscles being “deflated”. Even if you know and accept that, it is still very difficult psychologically and can make it harder to stick with the process.

– If done for too long, the blitz approach can also lead to some problems like “metabolic damage”… really, all that is is a decrease in the active thyroid hormone (T3). T3 is one of the main hormones that determines how high your metabolic rate is (how much calories you burn per day even at rest). If T3 goes down, your metabolic rate goes down and your caloric expenditure also goes down. The body doesn’t produce much T3 directly. It produces T4 (which is mostly inactive) and converts it into T3 as needed. Chronically elevated cortisol (which happens with any dieting but is greater with larger deficits) and carbohydrate deprivation will drastically decrease that conversion, leading to a lower T3 level. That’s what metabolic damage is.

My interpretation

The blitz works best in 3 situations:

– If you are already lean and want to drop the last few pounds of stubborn fat to get shredded.

– If you are obese and need to drop a lot of fat in a very short period of time (e.g. before a bariatric surgery).

– If you want to rapidly drop a good amount of fat in a short time for a special occasion (e.g. beach vacation).

The biggest potential problem is using a blitz approach to get shredded or super lean but underestimating how much fat you have to lose to look awesome. For example, Mark thinks he only needs to lose 15lbs to be ripped. He goes on a 5 weeks blitz and at the end he has lost 17lbs but is not yet shredded.

Here’s the problem: Mark still has fat to lose to reach his goal after 5 weeks of all-out dieting/training. The thing is that if he continues with the same restrictive approach, he is likely to cause issues that will negatively affect his physique (loss of muscle, decrease in metabolic rate, decreased fat loss) and potentially health. BUT if he switches to a moderate dieting approach he might not continue to lose fat because now his body adapted to the super low calories/high activity levels. That’s the danger of the blitz: if you have not reached your goal within 4-5 weeks, you are in “trouble”. That’s why it works best when the goal is not necessarily reaching a certain “look” but losing a lot of fat in a specific time frame.

As for the neurotype, the blitz approach works best for Neurotypes 1A and 1B . These guys are results driven (they need to see a lot of results fast). They also produce less cortisol, so they won’t risk losing muscle in the short period of the blitz. They are also “intense” personalities that do better when they go all-out.

Finally, they are more negatively impacted then others by a decrease in leptin levels. Leptin levels will drop when you get leaner and are in a caloric deficit for a while. The longer your diet down, the more leptin will drop. Since 1A and 1B are more affected by leptin, they do better on short dieting phases.

The fat loss blitz is the worst approach for Type 3 individuals as they are cortisol overproducers and have a low level of serotonin (which will get even lower when cutting carbs and calories drastically). These guys will become more anxious, won’t sleep well, can lose muscle and will have huge mood swings when using such an approach.

FAT LOSS MARATHON

This is your typical “bodybuilding prep” dieting approach. It is also the type of fat loss regimen most commonly recommended by dieticians: you approach dieting down as a very gradual process, you plan for a long and steady fat loss. To do so, you start off with a smaller deficit: cut calories and energetic nutrients (carbs and fats) to a fairly small degree and don’t increase activity level (lifting volume and cardio) by a lot. The process normally lasts 12-16 weeks if you are already fairly lean to start with, and can go up to 20 and even 24 weeks if you start off a bit fatter or live a stressful lifestyle; in the later case, the process needs to be even more gradual.

In fact, the first phase is often simply “cleaning up the diet” without significantly decreasing caloric intake. That mostly means not eating obvious crap, going with lower glycemic food choices and timing carbs better (around workouts for example).

You want around a 1.5 – 2lbs drop in body weight per week and you do only the minimum of what’s needed to accomplish that goal. As the diet progresses and your body adapts, you will either increase activity levels (mostly in the form of added cardio/energy system work because increasing lifting volume can be detrimental to the natural trainee) and/or decrease energetic nutrients/caloric intake. But again, you do this very gradually: just enough to resume fat loss. I personally prefer to start by increasing activity level instead of reducing food intake at first. Especially since we did not start off with a lot of extra activity/cardio.

When we reach a point where cardio/energy systems work is done 5 days a week for either 20 minutes intervals or 40 minutes steady state, we switch to decreasing calories/energetic nutrients (we don’t ever decrease protein intake, we will even likely increase it).

Normally we assess fat loss every 2-3 weeks to see if we need to make adjustments in activity levels or food intake.

Eventually, we might reach a point where fat loss stalls and we cannot really increase activity level or decrease caloric intake without having a negative impact (muscle loss). That’s where fat loss supplements, for a very brief period, can be used. Not before!

I agree with what Matt Porter says about fat loss products. He says to not put roadblocks in your fat loss process by putting a fat loss product in early and then remove it. I believe that fat loss supplements (especially of a stimulant or hormonal nature) should not be used for more than a few weeks without negatively affecting health. And once you put them in, you should not take them out. That’s why they need to be your absolute last resort when you cannot achieve fat loss via caloric restriction or increasing activity levels.

While everybody is different and the skill of a bodybuilding/body composition coach is to make the proper adjustments at the right time, I personally like to use this general approach.

  1. Start by cleaning up the diet and maybe go with a slight caloric deficit mostly by increasing activity level. At this point the increase in activity level can come from lifting volume (but still be conservative).
  2. If fat loss slows down, increase the deficit by increasing activity level further, by adding cardio/energy systems work 2-3 times per week. The duration is not maximal. Maybe 10-15 minutes intervals or 25-30 minutes steady state.
  3. The next step when fat loss slows down is to reduce energetic calories slightly (to reach a lot of 1.5 – 2.0lbs per week). I like to increase protein intake by half of what we reduce energetic nutrient intake. For example, if we drop carbs by 50g I like to increase protein by 25g.
  4. When fat loss slows down we once again increase activity level by adding 2 more cardio sessions (up to 4-5 days per week). The duration is still at 10-15 minutes of intervals or 25-30 minutes steady state.
  5. If fat loss slows down again, we bump the duration of the cardio sessions to either 20 minutes intervals or 35-40 minutes steady state.
  6. If we reach a point where fat loss stalls and we have not reached our body composition goal, we will reduce calories further, once again by decreasing carbs and/or fats. At this point we likely won’t increase protein further.
  7. From this point, all we can do is decrease calories (without decreasing protein) but never go below around a 35-40% deficit relative to your maintenance level. But we would only go this route if it is truly needed.
  8. When you reach a caloric intake that is a 35-40% deficit, you can only stay there for 3-4 weeks at the most. This means that you have 3-4 weeks left to your dieting down phase, even if you do not reach your goal at that time you will have to go back to at least maintenance for a few weeks (unless you are competing). You can use fat loss products for 2-3 weeks at that point.

Pros and Cons of the marathon approach

Pros:

– The risk of screwing up (in the sense of losing muscle or causing metabolic damage) is lower than with a blitz approach. First, because you don’t use extreme measures for most of the plan, but mostly because it is easier to make corrections if we see signs that something is wrong. Since we have a lot more time to achieve our goal, those corrections should not prevent us from reaching it.

– It’s easier to make adjustments.  Because we re-assess every 2-3 weeks and only make small changes from time to time, we can easily take a step back or a step forward depending on how the body is reacting.

– It puts less mental pressure because there is less urgency. For many, it can be a more comfortable process because it is less extreme and the changes can be so gradual that they don’t feel like changes.

– Those who are comfortable in a routine, like sticking to a plan, and are made more anxious by changes will prefer this approach over something more drastic. Once they are used to the routine they can stick with it for a long time.

– The quality of the training sessions is less likely to be negatively affected as with a blitz approach. I’ve had bodybuilders gain strength up to 2 weeks prior to a contest, after dieting down for 16 weeks.

Cons:

– Those who are less patient will have problems with this approach: it takes a long time to see significant visual differences, especially if you are not already fairly lean to start with. This can kill the motivation of many.

– You can have the impression that you are actually regressing for a good part of the diet. That’s because the fat loss is fairly slow. If you start-out at 15-18% body fat, the first 3-5 weeks (sometimes more) you might look worse. That’s because you won’t have lost enough fat to look more defined but you will feel and look smaller because you are storing less glycogen/water in your muscles, making them look and feel smaller/deflated. That’s why a lot of guys (girls are less affected) quit their diet after 5 or 6 weeks.

– It can be a grind for people who like to indulge in pleasurable but less appropriate (for fat loss) foods. It’s one thing to be deprived of a lot of the things you like for 4 weeks, it’s another to not have them for 16-20 weeks. Of course, “cheats” can take care of that problem; but that is a potential road block with the slow and steady approach (see next point).

– “Cheats” can more easily have a negative impact on fat loss when using this approach, even more so in the beginning. Why? Because the deficit is low, especially at first. If you indulge in a 3000-calorie cheat (which is not that much, given calories quickly pile up with cheat foods) on top of maybe 2000 calories from your diet food and have a 2500 calories surplus in one day, you can drastically reduce the fat lost over that week, a lot more so than if you have a very large deficit (also leading to a much more depleted state) over the week. A 2500-calorie surplus in one day will have a greater impact over a 5000 calories/week deficit than a 10 000 calories/week deficit. Plus, with a smaller deficit you are not as fully depleted (which allows you to keep training harder). The more depleted you are when you cheat, the more likely you are to store what you eat in the muscles instead of fat.

– You still run the risk of causing “metabolic damage” (decrease in T3 levels, increase in TBP3) over time.

– It can become tedious. The whole approach is based on making small adjustments. To be able to make the proper adjustments, you must know exactly how much nutrients you are ingesting and how much activity you are doing. This means that you will need to write down what you eat and calculate your nutrients/calories. It also means that you need to assess your body composition properly (you can’t just go by how you look because emotions will get in the way of your evaluation). I, for one, hate calculating everything and especially recording everything. For people like me, the whole process can be a motivation killer. Sure, you can “wing it” but you will easily run into problems if you do that. An easy way to make adjustments without measuring everything is always eating the same thing (same portions too) day in and day out; from there you can simply reduce portions slightly. But that also gets boring and can be its own motivation killer.

– It can more easily interfere with long term muscle-building progress. While it’s not completely impossible, building muscle while in a caloric deficit is very hard to do (especially for the natural trainee). If you spend 16-20 weeks in a caloric deficit, that is 16-20 weeks where you are unlikely to build a significant amount of muscle. Whereas if you blitz, you will not be building any muscle, but that will only last 5 weeks, after which you will be able to focus on growing again.

My interpretation

This approach is best suited for people with at least one of the following characteristics:

– Already have a high amount of muscle mass or do not want to gain a lot more size

– Are preparing for a specific physique goal (e.g. competition or photo shoot)

– Are patient, methodical and don’t mind routine

If we go with the neurotypes, the marathon approach will work best for Type 2B and Type 3.

For Type 3, it can work pretty much all the time. It is the best fat loss approach for them at all times. They are naturally very structured, like to write stuff down in a journal, and don’t need variation. Type 2B will do well on it when they have an important end goal that will allow them to gain the respect of others (competition, photo shoot) or if they are held accountable (frequent body fat measurements).

The other neurotypes will have a harder time with the marathon approach. It will be hell for Type 1A, hard for Type 1B. Type 2A can handle it but only when they have a very important goal (competition); a goal that supersede their need for variation. If not, the Type 2A cannot stand doing the same thing over and over for a long time.

FAT LOSS INTERVALS

This approach is kind of a combination of the sprint and marathon. Basically, you go back and forth between short periods of intense dieting/activity levels and of eating at maintenance level with less activity.

The whole process can last 16-20 weeks like a marathon, but it will be in a format that looks like this:

3 weeks intense dieting

1 week maintenance

3 weeks intense dieting

1 week maintenance

3 weeks intense dieting

1 week maintenance

3 weeks intense dieting

1 week maintenance

2 weeks intense dieting

Of course, the duration of each phase can vary based on the goal and how the person’s physique is changing. But I’d keep the intense dieting phase between 2 and 4 weeks and the maintenance phases at 1-2 weeks.

Notice that I mentioned “maintenance”, not “surplus”. This is still a fat loss plan. If you go on a deficit for 3 weeks than on a surplus for 1 week you can easily slow down the fat loss process. Whereas eating a maintenance will allow you to avoid metabolic damage, help maintain training intensity, provide a mental break and avoid muscle loss (might even allow you to gain some muscle).

A lot of people will screw up this approach by pigging out on their 1 week away from severe dieting. This is a big mistake and will hurt your progression. Simply eating at maintenance by increasing carbs intake (I prefer to increase carbs over fat since carbs have a greater impact on preventing leptin from crashing down and maintaining the T4 to T3 conversion).

This approach bypasses the shortcomings of the blitz approach. But you need to understand that while you are fairly “extreme” during the periods of intense dieting, you are not as extreme as during a blitz approach. I would also go with a gradual approach, meaning that each block of intense dieting gets a bit more demanding.

For example (this is just for illustration purposes, not an exact recommendation):

3 weeks intense dieting

30% caloric restriction compared to maintenance

Cardio 3 times per week at either 15 min intervals or 30-35 min steady-state

1 week maintenance

Eating at maintenance level

Cardio once a week at either 15 min intervals or 30-35 min steady-state

3 weeks intense dieting

30% caloric restriction compared to maintenance

Cardio 5 times per week at either 15 min intervals or 30-35 min steady-state

1 week maintenance

Eating at maintenance level

Cardio twice a week at either 15 min intervals or 30-35 min steady-state

3 weeks intense dieting

30% caloric restriction compared to maintenance

Cardio 5 times per week at either 20 min intervals or 40 min steady-state

1 week maintenance

Eating at maintenance level

Cardio twice a week at either 20 min intervals or 40 min steady-state

3 weeks intense dieting

35% caloric restriction compared to maintenance

Cardio 5 times per week at either 20 min intervals or 40 min steady-state

1 week maintenance

Eating at maintenance level

No cardio

2 weeks intense dieting

40% caloric restriction compared to maintenance

Cardio 5 times per week at either 20 min intervals or 40 min steady-state

Notes on the maintenance weeks:

– In the maintenance weeks, we want the daily average to be at maintenance. But there can be daily fluctuations where on some days you are in a surplus and others you are in a deficit. This is likely a better approach and might allow you to continue losing fat during the maintenance weeks. For example, if your maintenance level is 2400 calories per day, that is 16 800 calories per week. You could have 3 days at 3000 calories and 4 days at 2000 calories.

– In the maintenance days, you can indulge in “non-diet foods” as long as your daily caloric intake is at the right level and protein intake stays at the right level. I still believe that you should stick to the same type of foods you eat during your intense dieting phases about 80% of the time, but having some pleasure foods once in a while is fine. As long as you don’t exceed your caloric allotment.

– The increase in caloric intake should come mostly from carbs as these will have the biggest impact on keeping T3 levels (and thus metabolism) and leptin levels “high”.

Pros and Cons of fat loss intervals

Pros:

 I’ll be honest, to me this is the best dieting approach, but that is likely because it fits my profile the best. It combines pretty much all the benefits of the blitz and marathon while fixing their respective problems. If properly applied it has very little, if any drawbacks. The only issues will come from misapplications of the approach or using it with the wrong neurotype (Type 3 won’t do well on it, Type 2B will be at risk as we will see).

Cons:

The biggest problems do not come from the approach itself but from what people might do wrong (mostly in the maintenance weeks): eating too much, or even binging out during the maintenance weeks. People go hard at it for 3 weeks then they see the maintenance week(s) as a break from dieting. It’s not! It’s just a strategic increase in caloric intake to prevent the downside of the blitz approach. A lot of people will cheat/binge on the first day of the maintenance week. By itself that is not a problem if they readjust the rest of the week so that the daily average will be at maintenance level.

But what happens most of the time is that after that one cheat day, they just keep eating like crap for the whole week. When that happens, they can ruin what they accomplished during the intense phase. There is also the possibility of really going crazy on that first day, meaning that calories will have to be so low on the other 6 days of the week that you lose the benefits of the maintenance week. For example, if you binge out on 10 000 calories on that first day (which is not that hard if you eat crap) and your maintenance level is 2400 calories/day, that leaves you 6800 calories for the remaining 6 days.  You would have to eat 1150 calories per day for the rest of the week, which is lower than what you are eating on your intense dieting days. Even if you only eat 5000 calories on that first day.

Type 2B are especially vulnerable to that “falling off the wagon”. Even worse, once they fall off the wagon they will have a hard time getting back on it.

My interpretation

This is by far the best approach for a Type 2A . Type 2A need the most variation. With this approach, you change your intake and training very often. You can even change the type of dieting with every intense dieting block (e.g. 40/30/30 for 3 weeks, keto for 3 weeks, very low fat 3 weeks, etc.), which makes it a lot easier psychologically for a Type 2A.

It also fits the Type 1A very well: they are all-or-nothing personalities. They like to go all-out, they are intense. But not all of them can achieve their body composition goals in a 4-5 weeks blitz. Same for the Type 1B who are intense, but like 2A like variation.

However, this approach is not indicated for Type 3, who much prefer sticking to a routine. They are patient and don’t mind if the process takes longer. They don’t need variation, in fact changes can cause them stress and anxiety. Finally, they are cortisol over-producers, which means that the significant restriction during the intense weeks could easily lead to stress-related issues, like muscle loss, insomnia, trouble concentrating, etc.

Type 2Bs can function on that approach but you must be careful as they are the ones who are most likely to fall off the wagon during the “maintenance” weeks and screw up their progression, while also making it almost impossible to get back on track.

CONCLUSION

When it comes to losing fat and getting really lean, every approach can work. But to maximize your chances of success you must select the strategy that best fits your neurological/psychological profile. To do so, it is important to know the pros and cons of each approach. Use this article to select the appropriate way of designing your fat loss plan and you will greatly increase your chances of success while making the whole process a lot smoother.

-CT

Christian Thibaudeau

Written by Christian Thibaudeau

Christian Thibaudeau has been involved in the business of training for over the last 16 years. During this period, he worked with athletes from 28 different sports. He has been “Head Strength Coach” for the Central Institute for Human Performance (of…