Lose the Last 10 Pounds
Blast that last bit of fat with this meal-by-meal planBy: Neal Pliske
How to Shed the Last 10
Photo Credit: Kevin Van Aelst
Lonnie Lowery, PH.D., RD, leads a double life. At 42, he’s not only a competitive bodybuilder but also a professor of exercise and nutrition science at Winona State University in Minnesota. In the classroom and in the weight room, Lowery has learned to use every waking hour to stay leaner than people half his age. (Related: How to walk off 3 times more fat)
Some of Lowery's tactics actually go against the advice you may have read in Men's Health over the years. But as we follow his daily routine, I'll point out these tactics and explain why he's using them. As they say in the fitness biz, it's okay to break the rules, as long as you know what they are and why you're breaking them.
Just keep in mind that nobody eats and exercises this way year-round. Lowery uses this regimented, disciplined approach only when he's trying to become extremely lean for one specific event. (A good approach for you, too.) He doesn't exactly pig out the rest of the year, but he does eat more to allow his body to recover. (Search: Workout recovery foods)
Consider this your graduate seminar in waist management.
First Thing in the MorningCaffeine and cardio
Nobody wakes up ready to exercise. But morning is prime workout time, says Lowery. "You're burning a higher percentage of fat before eating breakfast," he says, because your body's supply of available carbohydrate energy is depleted and the hormonal state makes body fat more accessible. And coffee may help squeeze even more from your fat cells.
On Lowery's plan, this workout is nothing fancy: an hour of low-to medium-intensity walking or jogging after a cup of java. If you try to do more than that, you won't have enough left for your strength workout later in the day. (Video: Measure your strength)
This is the first big deviation from traditional MH advice—in this case, to eat before exercise. All things being equal, you'll probably train with more intensity if you have something in your stomach, and that leads to better long-term benefits. But in this example, Lowery isn't looking for a long-term benefit, and he's not trying to exercise intensively. The goal is to target stored body fat. In a 2006 study in Applied Physiology, Nutrition, and Metabolism, people who exercised following an overnight fast used more fat for energy, even though they burned no more total calories than they would have if they'd eaten before their workout. Click here for The 20 Best Men’s Health Training Guides.
One more point about this morning workout: It's not the main event for Lowery. That happens later in the day, when he hits the weight room. If you don't have the time to exercise twice in a day, you should choose the highly challenging weight workout over this low-intensity supplement. Just think of it this way: This exercise session is designed to enhance fat loss, but only in addition to your regular workout.
BreakfastProtein and slow-burning carbs
"I keep breakfast pretty low in fat and stick with slow-acting carbs," Lowery says. Again, the low-fat breakfast is not what we usually suggest, but it makes sense in this quest for single-digit body fat. Specifically, Lowery is trying to manage the hormone insulin.
Insulin is at its lowest level in the early morning but comes on like a beast with the first meal of the day. If you were overeating—that is, consuming more calories than you burned—that surge of insulin could lead to greater fat storage. But in the opposite context, when you're burning more calories than you take in, fat storage is unlikely. That's why an average dieter can eat a moderate amount of insulin-inducing carbs and still lose weight.
The Healthiest Budget Breakfasts
But Lowery is playing a more complicated game than the rest of us are. He wants a rise in insulin to push protein and carbohydrates to his muscles. Carbs, when stored as glycogen within the muscles, bring water with them; that helps his muscles fill out and may also help improve their function. But if he adds more than a few grams of fat to the mix, there's a slim chance that the fat would end up back in the fat cells that he's trying to drain by exercising in the morning on an empty stomach. Extra fat may also interfere with his body's ability to metabolize carbohydrates properly. And that's a chance he won't take.
An ideal breakfast might be two whole eggs with four egg whites, for a total of 24 grams of protein. A carb source, like whole-grain toast, oatmeal, or an apple, completes the meal. Find more nutritious meals with our Healthy Recipe Finder.
"Second Breakfast" and LunchProtein and fiber
For a midmorning snack, Lowery likes oatmeal and berries with a scoop of vanilla protein powder. Lunch, 2 1/2 to 3 hours later, might be a grilled chicken breast accompanied by a high-fiber vegetable (such as broccoli) along with a cup of brown rice (for even more fiber, toss in some black beans) or two small red potatoes. Meals like this require a lot of chewing, which slows your appetite and gives your brain time to send the "stop eating" signal. The high protein content can also speed your metabolism.
Preworkout MealProtein and fast-burning carbs
In mid to late afternoon, it's time to put away some fuel before you hit the weight room. Half a turkey-breast sandwich and a banana will do the trick. The turkey's protein gives your muscles some material to work with in the never-ending process of repair and rebuilding, and the fast-burning carbohydrates provide easy energy for the coming workout. This combination also raises your insulin levels, which opens up blood vessels and allows for a better pump in your working muscles. Not only is a pump a nice reward for your hard work, but it also squeezes nutrients into your muscles to speed recovery.
WorkoutStrategic destruction of muscle fibers
It's hard but not impossible to build muscle mass while you're following a strict diet and limiting calories. The key is to do as much as you can without compromising your ability to recover in time for the next workout. Lowery suggests splitting up your exercises so you're rarely working upper-body and lower-body muscles on the same day. Instead, push the targeted muscles to exhaustion, always working from "the center of the body outward." So he starts by training his chest and back (the center), moves outward to his shoulders, and finishes up with arms. For more ways to build a powerful upper-body, try performing the V-Shape Shortcut Workout.
To work your upper torso with his system, you'd begin with basic, heavy lifts—3 or 4 sets of 5 reps of barbell bench presses and dumbbell rows, for example. Next you'd perform 3 sets of 10 to 12 reps of dumbbell shoulder presses and lat pulldowns. Then you'd finish with 1 or 2 sets of 20 reps of biceps curls and triceps extensions.
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Postworkout ShakeMore fast-acting nutrients
You don't need a lot of protein and carbs following your workout; a small protein shake or smoothie should work, or even a glass or two of low-fat or nonfat milk. (Don't worry about fat, since the timing of when you eat fat doesn't matter in the way it does for protein or carbs.) Need some suggestions? Here are 50 Delicious Smoothie Recipes.
DinnerProtein and fat
A couple of hours later, it's time for your final meal of the day. Lowery will typically have more fat at this meal than at any other. That's because as a fuel, fat appears to be preferable to carbohydrates at this time. The whole insulin-carbohydrate system isn't working as well late in the day. Plus, his daily dietary variety is increased by including healthy fats, and he's had little of them up until now.
A stir-fry with vegetables and chicken or steak will hit the spot, along with a green salad, lightly dressed. The protein and fat, along with the fiber in the vegetables, will help you feel full until you fall asleep—which will probably be very soon, considering how hard you've worked. Of course, you can continue to fend off hunger with these 5 Belly-Filling Foods.
The Fat-Burning Exercise SecretUse this simple tweak to torch even more calories
Want an all-new way to blast fat? “Try tempo exercises,” says Bill Hartman, PT, CSCS, co-owner of the Indianapolis Fitness and Sports Training. “They’ll help train your muscles to burn more fat for energy.” The idea is to perform exercise at a slow but steady tempo from start to finish. You can use this technique with almost any exercise, including the squat, pushup, and inverted row. Simply take 2 seconds to lower the weight (or your body), and 2 seconds to lift it—all without pausing at the top or bottom of the exercise.
How It Works
Let’s use the barbell tempo squat as an example. As you do this exercise, your leg muscles are under constant low-level tension. This tension restricts bloodflow to the working muscles, depriving them of oxygen during the exercise. Your muscles react to these lower oxygen levels by increasing the size of your slow-twitch fibers, which contain a high volume of mitochondria.
Your Workout, Only Faster
Mitochondria are tiny powerhouses in your muscle cells that produce energy from fat. So the more mitochondria you have, the more body fat you can burn. And because you’re able to produce more energy, you can also exercise harder and longer before you run out of gas. The upshot: You burn more total calories.
Use It in Your Workout
Perform an exercise for 40 to 60 seconds using the tempo technique. Rest 40 to 60 seconds and repeat two more times. One note: If you’re using barbells or dumbbells, you’ll need to use a light weight—about 50 to 60 percent of what you could normally lift for 10 reps.
Up Next: 50 Ways to Lose 10 Pounds
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