Fifty Fat Loss Tips

Charles Poliquin’s Blog – Fifty Fat Loss Tips

1. Train using the most “bang for your buck,” multi-joint lifts like squats, deadlifts, bench press, chin-ups, and Olympic lifts.

2. Avoid isolation, single-joint lifts such as bicep or leg curls unless you have unlimited training time.

3. Use very short rest periods (10 to 60 seconds) to trigger the greatest growth hormone response.

4. Vary the tempo of lifting phases and rest periods to provide new stimulus for the body to adapt.

5. To get lean fast, use a hypertrophy-type protocol (8 to 12 reps, more than 3 sets, 70 to 85 percent 1RM load).

6. Use a longer time under tension to burn more energy and increase postexercise oxygen consumption—try a 4-second eccentric and 1-second concentric phase.

7. Train to create an anabolic response. Increasing growth hormone is the priority because of its significant lipolytic (fat burning) effects.

8. Perform circuit training with little rest between sets for maximal growth hormone response.

9. For gradual fat loss over a longer period, include strength cycles that favor testosterone release with heavier loads (up to 95 percent 1RM), slightly longer rest (2 to 3 minutes), and lots of sets.

10. Work harder. If you’re not getting results, you’re not working hard enough.

11. Give priority to training the anaerobic energy system over the aerobic system when strength training and conditioning.

12. Do high-intensity sprint intervals for conditioning. Two examples are 60 cycle sprints of 8 seconds each, 12 seconds rest; or 6 all-out 30-second running sprints on a track, 4 minutes rest.

13. Be as active as possible in daily life. Move more: Take regular brisk walks during the day, always take the stairs, park far away in any parking lot, or do your own yard work.

14. Do relaxing physical activity instead of sitting in front of a screen: yoga, stretching, foam rolling, martial arts, or walking mediation.

15. Eliminate all processed foods from your diet—don’t eat them ever.

16. Eliminate all trans-fats from your diet such as margarine and shortening—they MUST be removed from the diet.

17. Don’t avoid fat. Research shows that people with diets with 30 to 50 percent coming from smart fats have higher androgens and lower body fat.

18. Eat smart fat, favoring the omega-3 fats that come from fish and wild meats.

19. Take fish oil to boost omega-3 fat intake and ensure your omega-3 to omega-6 fat intake is balanced.

20. Eat a diet with high-quality protein—organic meats will provide the largest “bang for your buck” protein.

21. Eliminate wheat and avoid grains in favor of vegetables.

22. Raise resting metabolic rate (the amount of calories the body burns at rest) by eating a higher protein diet with 15 to 25 percent of the diet coming from high-quality protein.

23. Eliminate all high-glycemic carbs and eat only low-glycemic vegetables and berries.

24. Eat an antioxidant-rich diet to prevent inflammation, which leads to fat gain. Try kale, broccoli, cauliflower, bok choy, berries, pomegranates, and cherries.

25. Non-green veggies that help you lose fat are colored peppers, eggplant, garlic, onions, mushrooms, hearts of palm, spaghetti squash, and water chestnuts.

26. Drink a lot of water (at LEAST 3 liters a day) to stay hydrated and help detox the body.

27. Avoid alcohol, juice, soda, and sports drinks. Stick to water, tea, and coffee.

28. For a radical approach, eliminate all alcohol. If alcohol can’t be eliminated, Sardinian and Spanish red wines are the best worst option.

29. Try acupuncture—studies have shown it can aid in treating obesity.

30. Make sure your vitamin D level is over 40 ng/ml. Take vitamin D if not.

31. Take a probiotic to improve your gut health.

32. Make sure your magnesium level is up to par. Scientists suggest 500 mg of magnesium a day.

33. Take a liquid zinc test to see if you can taste zinc. If not, you are deficient and should take zinc to speed fat loss.

34. Don’t buy cheap, poor quality supplements because they will do more harm than good if they are tainted with heavy metals or pollutants.

35. Take B vitamins, especially if you eat a high-protein diet or take BCAAs because the extra amino acids take away from the pool of available B vitamins need for detox.

36. Drink coffee or take caffeine before workouts to increase fat burning and work capacity—research shows we will self-select heavier loads if we take caffeine before training.

37. Drink organic green tea to elevate fat burning and aid in detoxifying the body.

38. Take carnitine to help the body use fat for fuel and increase time to exhaustion when training hard.

39. Take the amino acid taurine because it lowers the stress hormone cortisol and helps the body digest fat.

40. Take R-form alpha lipoic acid because it supports detox and recovery from training.

41. Use the herb fenugreek with meals to improve insulin sensitivity and energy use.

42. Remove body piercings to lose fat fast, especially belly piercings.

43. Limit fructose in the diet because it gets in the way of losing belly fat.

44. Never eat fructose before workouts because it blunts fat burning and lowers metabolic rate.

45. Avoid milk before workouts because it is very “insulinotropic,” meaning it causes persistently high insulin levels that make you burn less energy.

46. Don’t drink caffeine after workouts because it may raise cortisol at the point where you need to clear it for the best fat-burning and recovery effect.

47. Eat high-quality protein for breakfast. Avoid cereal and all processed foods.

48. Eliminate all sugar from your diet. It’s way more trouble than it’s worth if you want to lose fat.

49. Make an effort to get enough sleep. An early-to-bed, early-to-rise sleep pattern has been shown to improve body composition.

50. Know that you have complete control over what you put in your mouth. No one ever ate anything by accident.

Screw Cardio! Four Complexes for a Shredded Physique

Thursday, January 7, 2010 by Chris Shugart
My lungs screamed, my muscles burned, and I was, quite literally, seeing black spots dance before my eyes like some lame Windows screensaver from 1998.

I glanced at the clock.

No. Fucking. Way. Ninety seconds had passed by already?

It was time for another set.

I grabbed the bar for set number four, dug deep mentally, and pushed through another round. About a minute later my “off-day” cardio was done. It had only taken around nine minutes total, yet I was wiped out. I actually looked forward to some foam rolling because it meant I got to lie down on the floor.

I glanced over at the cardio area. I saw three beer-bellied men pounding away on the treadmills. I could practically hear their knees and ankles barking with the abuse.

Two women were behind them on the ellipticals. They were talking and laughing and had probably burned more body fat getting out of their minivans than they had while lollygagging on the hamster machines.

Finally I looked over at the stairmill. That’s a torture device of a cardio machine, no doubt, and the guy on it was sweating through his shirt. He’d been up there a while, so he was clearly “good” at the stairmill… all 150 emaciated pounds of him. No thanks.

Now, let’s compare that to my recent “cardio” workouts, if you could technically even call them that. Depending on the load, in about ten minutes I could…

• Move 12,000 pounds. (An O-bar with 55 pounds: 100 pounds; 5 movements for 6 reps each, repeated for 4 cycles = 12,000 pounds)
• Increase my training volume
• Boost strength endurance
• Increase caloric expenditure and melt body fat
• Take advantage of the EPOC effect (Excess Post-Exercise Oxygen Consumption)
• Increase work capacity and overall conditioning.

I could also…

Not risk losing any muscle
Not be bored out of my skull like the giggling guinea pigs over in the cardio area.

So what the hell was I doing? Something that’s been around a long time and that’s gone by a lot of names in the past. Today we simply call them complexes.

Complexes: Not So Complex

Quick review: A complex is where you pick up a barbell, perform several reps of an exercise with it, then move right into another exercise, then another, and another, and maybe one or two more. Then you see black spots, get all ripped ‘n shit, and bang swimsuit models.

Okay, okay, Coach Dan John has a much better definition: “A complex is a series of lifts performed back to back where you finish the reps of one lift before moving on to the next lift. The bar only leaves your hands or touches the floor after all of the lifts are completed.”

Alwyn Cosgrove is even more concise: “A complex is a circuit using one piece of equipment, one load, and one space.”

So maybe you perform front squats for 8 reps, then push presses for 8 reps, then bent-over rows for 8, and finally back squats for 8 — all without putting the damn bar down.

It’s brutal. Better still, it’s brutally effective for fat loss and improving all the physical qualities I listed in my snazzy intro.

But the best thing? You can’t do it while talking on the fucking cell phone or otherwise “going through the motions.” It requires focus, discipline, hard work, and quite possibly a touch of insanity.

Make no mistake, if anyone says this is easy you can bet they’ve never actually tried it.

So When Do You Use Complexes?

• As a replacement for boring-ass cardio during fat loss phases
• As a conditioning tool for sports
• As an off-day “bonus” workout if you just feel like going to the gym when you’re not scheduled to (OCD, anyone?)
• As part of an unloading/deloading week.

Here’s my personal favorite split using complexes:

Monday: Upper body weight training
Tuesday: Lower body weight training and abs
Wednesday: Complex day, plus foam rolling, extra NEPA, etc.
Thursday: Upper body weight training
Friday: Lower body weight training and abs
Saturday: Complex day
Sunday: Off

Complex training sounds almost like one of those infomercials that run at 3AM: “In only 10 minutes twice per week you can build that toned body you’ve always wanted! But wait, there’s more!”

But of course it takes more than twenty minutes a week to get “toned,” and complexes don’t fold up and store neatly under your bed, or sell for only three easy payments of $19.95. But when added to your favorite bodybuilding program they can really take you to the next level of physique development.

So let’s learn a few, shall we?
4 Killer Komplexes

Ready to add complexes to your program? Here are four good ones to get you started. And by “good” I mean you’re going to cry for mama. I’ve also tossed in some words of wisdom from our coaches who’ve used complexes successfully with their clients and physique athletes.

Cosgrove’s Evil 8

“Complexes elevate metabolism beyond anything you’ve ever experienced before,” says Alwyn Cosgrove.

Sounds good to us, but how much weight do you use? “Just remember,” says Cosgrove, “it’s a metabolic stimulus, not a strength or hypertrophy stimulus, so be conservative. MMA pro David Loiseau uses only 85-95 pounds when doing the complexes I prescribe for him.”

That said, don’t go too light, either. A good “Cosgrove rule of thumb” is that if you’re not questioning why in the hell you’re doing these exercises, or convincing yourself that two circuits is enough, you’re not going heavy enough.

The basic rule is to use the heaviest weight you can on the weakest movement in the complex. For example, if the complex contains an overhead press and a back squat, you’d use the weight you can handle on the overhead press, not the squat. Otherwise you’d get crushed, and girls would laugh.

But honestly, loading doesn’t matter much. If you’re de-conditioned or you fall into that dreaded category of “big ‘n strong but outta shape,” then you’ll be tortured with a naked Olympic bar… and maybe even a broomstick. You’ll figure out loading anyway during your first complex workout, so don’t think about it so damn much and just go do it.

Crazy idea, I know.

Here’s one of the most effective Cosgrovian complexes:

Romanian Deadlift
Bentover Row
Power Clean
Front Squat
Push Press
Back Squat
Good Morning

On round one, perform 6 reps of each exercise, moving from one exercise to the next, never letting go of the bar, never resting. Remember, you’ll finish all six reps of each exercise before moving to the next one.

Rest 90 seconds after the first circuit, then perform 5 reps of each in the next circuit; rest 90 seconds, 4 reps of each; rest 90 seconds, 3 reps of each; rest 90 seconds, 2 reps of each; rest 90 seconds, and then do 1 rep of each.

Cosgrove says that the entire workout should take about 12 minutes, not counting the time you spend sobbing like a little girl in a purdy pink dress.

Tumminello’s Weight Plate Metabolic Circuit

I learned this one from Coach Nick Tumminello. I like it because it uses a single Olympic weight plate. Buy a rusty one at a garage sale, throw it into your back yard, and you can have a killer workout anytime you want.

Tumminello uses this complex when he trains Baltimore Ravens TE, Quinn Sypniewski. Think you can hang with big Quinn? Then perform the complex below five times through with only 90 seconds between each round.

Overhead Squat x 6-8
Swings (like kettlebell swings) x 6-8
Bentover Row x 8-10
Reverse Lunge and Twist x 8-10 total
Diagonal Chops x 6-8 each side

Note: If you missed it, check out our full review of Coach Tumminello’s DVD on complexes HERE.

Waterbury’s Submission Complex

Last time I went to California to visit Chad Waterbury I watched him submit an MMA champion in record time. No, it wasn’t an armbar; it was a complex that make this well-conditioned athlete tap out.

Waterbury loves complexes. He notes: “If you’re ever short on time, use complexes. If you ever want to burn a little extra fat by boosting your excess post-exercise oxygen consumption (EPOC), use complexes. Or if you want to enhance your anaerobic endurance, use complexes. They can also be used as general physical preparedness (GPP) boosters after your workouts or for additional training sessions each week. I’m a big advocate of complexes, and you should be too!”

Here’s one of Chad’s favorites. I like this one because, unlike most complexes, it uses dumbbells instead of a barbell, adding some cool variety.

Reverse Lunges, 6 reps on each leg
Romanian Deadlift, 12 reps
Good Morning, 12 reps
Front Squat, 6 reps
Military Press, 6 reps
Bentover Row, 6 reps
Floor Press, 12 reps

Rest 60 seconds and repeat 2-4 more times depending on your testicular fortitude.

Ferruggia’s Timed Complex

“For those of you who’ve never done complexes, get ready for a whole new in-the-gym experience!” says Jason Ferruggia.

The goal of this complex is speed. Start a timer and perform it once through, 6 reps for every movement. The next time you perform it, try to beat that time.

Start with a 45-pound bar for this one. After a few workouts and improved times, add load.

Hang Clean
Front Squat
Hang Snatch
Overhead Squat
Front Press
Bentover Row
Romanian Deadlift

Once you master the empty Olympic bar, how much weight should you add? Ferruggia says, “Ninety-five fucking pounds will be absolute fucking hell for even the strongest and most-well conditioned fucking warriors!”

Note: “Fucking” added because that’s the way Jason actually talks. No fucking kidding.

Final Tips & Wrap-Up

Here’s a good tip from Dan John: Print out the complexes in large type, then stick it to the wall in front of you or place it on the floor. That way you won’t forget a movement in a longer complex series.

And by “forget” I mean skip it because you’re being a weenie and/or your heart is about to burst from your chest, skip across the floor, and scare the shit out of the gay guys in the Zumba class.

Now, can you make up your own complexes? You bet. Just try to pick exercises that flow smoothly into one another. But truthfully, just about any combo works. As Waterbury notes, you’re only limited by your imagination.


Try two of these complexes this week. Just add them to your “off” days or cardio-only days. The hamsters on the treadmills will elevate their metabolisms just watching you do them!


Ask Chris: Is Fructose Really That Bad?

Posted By Chris Kresser On June 15, 2012 @ 7:55 am In Food & Nutrition,Myths & Truths,Paleo Diet | 45 Comments


[1]Paul from Facebook asks:

What are your thoughts on fructose? Is it really as bad as Paleo is making it out to be?

Dr. Robert Lustig has worked hard in recent years to demonize fructose, and his efforts have paid off. His YouTube video “Sugar: The Bitter Truth [2]” has over 2.5 million views as of this writing. Lustig et al. claim that fructose is a uniquely fattening poison (when compared to glucose) that is as toxic to the liver as alcohol.

But is this true? Does the current evidence support this position? I’ve changed my views on this over time as I’ve become better acquainted with the literature, so I’d like to share my current understanding with you.

When it comes to fructose, calories matter

There’s no doubt that refined sugar – including fructose – can be problematic. But studies suggest that this is only true when calories are in excess.

This may be the most dangerous aspect of refined sugar: it leads to unintentional overeating. In a recent post [3] on fructose, obesity researcher Stephan Guyenet points out that most people in these studies aren’t deliberately overfeeding. They are inadvertently overfeeding because they aren’t spontaneously compensating for the calories added to the diet via a large fructose- or glucose-sweetened beverage.

This doesn’t happen with fruit or other whole foods that contain glucose or fructose. When people add fruit to their diet, they reduce their calorie intake elsewhere to compensate. Not so with liquid-sweetened beverages like soft drinks. When people add a soda or two a day to their diet, they tend not to reduce consumption of other foods, and thus their calorie intake increases.

This is where fructose does appear to be more harmful than glucose. Although people don’t compensate for calories added via glucose or fructose, the fructose-sweetened beverages have more serious metabolic effects.

Is fructose uniquely fattening?

Dr. Lustig argues that, when compared to glucose, fructose is uniquely fattening. He claims that fructose is the most efficient substrate for de novo lipogenesis (DNL), which is the process by which the liver converts carbohydrates to fat.

However, Dr. Lustig relies on animal evidence that doesn’t apply to humans. There’s a big difference between mouse carbohydrate metabolism and human carbohydrate metabolism. When mice are on a high-carbohydrate diet that doesn’t provide excess calories, it’s common to see DNL rates of 50 percent and up. In other words, they are efficient at converting carbohydrates into fat, even when they’re not overeating. (1 [4])

But in humans on an isocaloric diet (without excess calories), de novo lipogenesis falls into the range of 10 to 20 percent. The conversion of carbohydrate is less efficient in humans than it is in mice.

The research in this area is robust and uncontroversial. Nearly 50 controlled feeding studies have been performed on various aspects of cardiometabolic control. Most investigators working in this field believe that DNL in humans is negligible in response to fructose, and doesn’t comprise a significant source of dietary calories.

There’s another problem with extrapolating the animal evidence to humans in this case. The mice in the studies Lustig cites are eating huge amounts of fructose: up to 60 percent of total calories. You’d have to drink more than four 44 ounce Super Big Gulps a day to get that much fructose. Ain’t gonna happen.

According to researcher Dr. Sievenpiper in an interview with science writer David Despain at Evolving Health [4], the 50th percentile intake for people in the U.S. is 49 grams per day, which works out to 10 percent of total calories. Even the 95th percentile intake of 87 grams per day doesn’t exceed 20 percent of calories. That’s a lot of fructose, but it’s nowhere near the 60 percent of calories fed to mice.

Is fructose an evil toxin?

Dr. Lustig refers to fructose is a “poison” that is nearly as toxic to the liver as alcohol. But again, human evidence doesn’t support this claim.

In a recent paper, Dr. Luc Tappy and colleagues labeled acetate, fructose and different metabolites with stable isotope tracers so they could see how fructose is metabolized in the human body. (2 [5]) They found that 50 percent ends up as glucose, 25 percent goes to lactate and greater than 15 percent goes to glycogen. The remainder is oxidized directly (to CO2 through the TCA cycle) and a small portion – as low as 2-3% – is converted to fat via de novo lipogenesis.

Glucose and glycogen are easily processed by the body, and 2-3% conversion to fat is not significant. And while some have claimed that lactate may be problematic, a paper [6] published more than a decade ago contradicts this. (Hat tip to Evelyn from CarbSane [7].) According to the authors:

The bulk of the evidence suggests that lactate is an important intermediary in numerous metabolic processes, a particularly mobile fuel for aerobic metabolism, and perhaps a mediator of redox state among various compartments both within and between cells… Lactate can no longer be considered the usual suspect for metabolic ‘crimes’, but is instead a central player in cellular, regional and whole body metabolism.

Translation: lactate from fructose isn’t a problem.

What does this mean for you and fructose?

Fructose-sweetened beverages like soft drinks and juice cause metabolic problems when calories are in excess, and studies have shown that people are not likely to compensate for the additional calories they get from such beverages.

This is why soft drinks and other beverages sweetened with fructose aren’t a good idea. That said, an occasional glass of fruit juice within the context of an isocaloric diet is unlikely to cause problems – unless you have a pre-existing blood sugar issue.

I don’t think there’s any basis for avoiding whole fruit simply because it contains fructose. As I’ve shown in this article, there’s nothing uniquely fattening or toxic about fructose when it isn’t consumed in excess. And since whole fruit contains fiber and other nutrients, it’s difficult to eat a lot of fruit without simultaneously reducing intake of other foods.

Fruit has been part of the human diet for longer than we’ve been, er, human. We’re well-adapted to eating it, and capable of processing the fructose it contains. (Unless you are FODMAP intolerant [8] – but that’s a different issue entirely.)