The Lean & Mean Diet
23 May

The Lean & Mean Diet

Yessir, this diet is crazy strict, but you could lose up to 1 percent body fat per week.
With calories extremely low, you'll need a selection of supplements to fill in nutritional gaps and keep your workouts going strong. Do not do the diet without them!
Done only once a year or so, this diet could help prevent age-related fat gain and even extend your life. And it will definitely test your willpower.
First things first. The dietary strategy outlined below is extreme. In fact, it's so extreme that you'll likely have to alter many of your lifestyle habits – even those independent of exercise, nutrition, and supplementation – just to tough through it. It's that hard. It's that extreme. However, extreme isn't synonymous with dangerous. In fact, if applied strategically and infrequently, this strategy might even improve your health while getting pretty scary-lean.

This is an extreme dietary strategy designed to make body fat disappear into thin air in the shortest amount of time. And with this rate of progress, you'll actually be seeing physical changes every few days.

I can't emphasize this point enough – this strategy isn't for everyone. In fact, if you're closer to 20% body fat than you are to 10%, this strategy isn't for you at all. However, once you've figured out how to slowly and sanely drop your fat percentage down to the "fairly lean" range (12-13% or less) and you've learned the habits that help you stay that way (see my former articles about it) that's when something like this can be a powerful weapon in your fat loss arsenal.

Below I'll lay out the full plan – the calories, the macronutrient breakdowns, the re-feed days, the supplements, and more. I'll even talk about why on earth one might want to get down to 3 or 6% body fat, even if they're not a physique competitor. (You might be surprised.)

The goal here is to help you drop 0.5% to 1% body fat per week for between 6 and 12 weeks. The duration depends on how much fat you have to lose and how long you want to endure the plan. With this goal in mind, you know you're gonna have to cut calories. And you're gonna have to cut them hard. So here's your new calorie formula:

Now, does it have to be exactly bodyweight x 10 every friggin' day? Not necessarily. Your calorie intake will likely fluctuate unless you eat the same exact things every day (if that's the case, it's perfectly fine). So, if it fluctuates naturally, don't worry if you're at body weight x 9 one day and body weight x 11 another day. You can likely get away with that 10% spread. However, just make sure you stick within this range of calories. Here's a handy table that outlines how many calories you should be aiming for.

A couple of important notes on calories:

-If you're one of the folks that naturally fluctuate in their day-to-day intake and you're not seeing the 0.5%-1% per week fat loss rate, you absolutely have to do two things. First, make sure you tighten things up and are consistent. Second, make sure to stick to the lower end of the range (bodyweight x 9).

-If you've been chronically undereating for a long period of time, this program won't work as well for you. If you're a chronic undereater, you'll likely need to repair your metabolic rate and hormonal profile before starting this diet.

Now that we've established the right calorie range and the conditions necessary before starting the diet, let's talk macronutrients.

Protein should make up between 45-50% of your daily intake and all of it should come from whole food sources. This is the case for two reasons:

Whole food sources provide better satiety vs. some supplemental protein sources. As you're going to be hungry, you'll need every bit of satiety you can get.
Whole food sources have a higher thermic effect vs. most supplemental protein sources. Since you'll want to maximize your metabolic rate, you'll want to increase your thermic cost.

Carbs should make up 15-20% of your intake. All of your carbohydrates on this diet should come from fresh vegetable sources (preferably organic) like spinach, broccoli, green beans, asparagus, zucchini, cauliflower, different color peppers, carrots, tomatoes, etc. Again, right now you'll need all the nutrition you can get in as few calories as possible. Every day I'd like you to get at least one serving (1/2 cup) of each of the veggies listed above.

Fats should make up 35-40% of your intake. You should be getting a fairly even mixture of saturates, polyunsaturates, and monounsaturates (this means about 33% of your total fat coming from each). But don't worry, you don't have to be exact. Simply adding some extra virgin olive oil, flax oil, fish oil, and avocado each day will help a lot.

Now that we've established your calorie, protein, carb, and fat goals, let's talk meal breakdowns. This part is simple. You're going to eat 4 food meals each day with your calories evenly split throughout the day. So, simply divide your numbers   by 4 to get your per-meal totals.
Now, does each meal need to be exactly one-fourth of the daily total? No! Just make sure that you're splitting your food intake up relatively evenly throughout the day.

Now, you may be worried about muscle and strength loss. Perhaps you're thinking that you'll suffer poor brain function with that few carbohydrates. Perhaps you're worried about nutrient deficiencies. Well, worry no longer. If you use the following supplement strategy, you'll be filling in your nutritional gaps, you'll be making sure to avoid as much brain fog as possible, and you'll be preserving muscle mass quite well.

And this isn't just theoretical. I've done the nutritional analyses; have used this protocol repeatedly with myself and other clients; and promise that if you do exactly what I say, you'll have the best experience possible. So here's what to do:

1) EAA's
Think of EAAs as your muscle mass saviors. They'll help mitigate muscle and strength loss and keep your aerobic and anaerobic systems running closer to optimal, ensuring that you don't feel like total dog poo during your diet. You'll only feel like partial dog poo. Well, that's still something...

I've tried the diet without and with the EAAs and have found that the difference is night and day.

Here's what to do:

For those under 200 pounds, use 5g of EAAs 4x per day. You'll use 1 serving during strength training and 1 serving after. The other 2 servings you'll use between meals, whenever you like.

For those over 200, use 7-10g of EAAs  4x per day. You'll use 1 serving during strength training and 1 serving after. The other 2 servings you'll use between meals.

Super concentrated freeze-dried extracts of  berries, fruits, and vegetables. Superfood will help you fill in the gaps in your diet. Use 1 serving per day, taken either with or between meals. So many good ones on the market nowadays.

They both will help you get better quality sleep. When following a hypocaloric diet like this one, it's very hard to get good quality sleep for two reasons. First, you'll be getting up to pee about 3-5 times per night. Second, your sympathetic nervous system tends to be amped up constantly. Having an adequate helps tremendously in reducing the frequency of urination and in settling the nervous system at night (crucial for proper recovery).
Just avoid the OXYDE form of Magnesium, poorly bioavailable and...laxative.

The part you've all been waiting for – the re-feed. Once every 10-14 days on this plan you're permitted a re-feed. Here's what you do:

Pick out your re-feed days for the entire Lean & Mean Diet period in advance. Schedule them on your calendar and stay committed to your strict plan, knowing there's light at the end of the tunnel (kinda) every X days.
Until your re-feed days come, stay the course and follow the plan above with NO DEVIATIONS. After your 9-13 days in a row of dietary discipline, you'll have earned your re-feed.
On the 10th-14th day, wake up like it's Christmas morning. And on that day, eat the stuff that you wouldn't normally eat and certainly couldn't eat while on your normal Diet days.
Now, hold up, smartass... This isn't a license to go hog-wild. In fact, to keep things in check, here's a simple rule of thumb. Don't go too far over 2-2.5x your Diet daily guideline. Therefore if you're eating 2000kcal a day, don't go above 4000-5000kcal.
Lastly, make sure you train on this day so that all that extra energy will go toward muscle-building and recovery. Don't be a pig. Eat until you're reasonably full – but not stuffed – and eat foods that you aren't permitted on the normal diet plan. Do this and your re-feed day will be a success. Be forewarned: people typically gain 5-7 pounds during a re-feed day. That's okay, it's mostly food volume in the stomach, glycogen resynthesis, and water retention. No big deal, you'll lose it in the next 3 days or so.

One question I get all the time is: "So, why the hell are you dieting so strictly and trying to get your body fat so low?" Follow-up questions include: "Isn't it unhealthy?" "What, are you going to put on posing trunks?" "Why not just stick with 10%? Won't your performance be better that way?" and yadda yadda yadda...

Here are my own personal reasons.
As I've competed as a bodybuilder in the past, I know the level of dedication and discipline required to take your body from 10 or 12% to 2 or 3%. It's extreme and many, many people do not have what it takes to go to these extremes of discipline and will power. So, every once in a while,I've got to refresh my memory as to what it's like to be that dedicated to something.

As I work with dozens of high level athletes, most of whom are bodybuilders, I sometimes need to remember what it's like to make large sacrifices in terms of personal comfort, in the pursuit of a goal. The amazing thing is that it's easy to forget. It's easy to forget all the work that goes into our triumphs after they're over. Big mistake.

I find that it's easy to get soft and weak-willed as you get older. You just have test yourself from time to time. Every once in a while you have to make it hard on purpose!

The Lean & Mean Diet isn't unhealthy. In fact, it may actually be just what the doctor ordered. Now, let me be clear. I'm not a fan of long-term calorie restriction. However, there are some compelling benefits associated with giving the organs an occasional break from the high calorie lifestyles most of us weight lifters tend to lead. So, if this Diet behaves as many calorie restriction diets do in animal models, it might actually boost health and longevity quite substantially.

The Lean & Mean Diet ain't nice. It ain't easy. Most of you don't belong on this diet. And even fewer have what it takes to stick with it. However, for those that are left, if you're looking to see what life is like on the lean side, this plan will get you there.