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The Big Problem With Visceral Fat (and How to Lose It)

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The Big Problem With Visceral Fat (and How to Lose It)

If you want to know what visceral fat is, why you should care about it, and how to lose it for good, then you want to read this article.

 

“How the hell can I be this skinny with a stomach this big and fat?”

That’s the first line from an email I received earlier this week.

A picture followed and he looked more or less like this:

 visceral fat rating

And it inspired this article.

You see, I’ve worked with thousands of men and women and if there’s one thing that frustrates people most, it’s having too much belly fat.

I’ve written quite a bit about how to lose belly fat, but visceral fat deserves its own treatment because it’s a different beast than the run-of-the-mill ab fat.

So, in this article we’re going to cover what visceral fat is, why it’s dangerous, why some people have more than others, and how to lose it.

What Is Visceral Fat?

What Is Visceral Fat

Visceral means “having to do with the organs, especially those in the abdominal cavity.”

Hence, visceral fat is body fat that’s stored around several organs in the abdominal cavity including the liver, pancreas, and intestines.

It differs from the type of body fat most people associate with “fat,” which is subcutaneous fat.

Subcutaneous means “situated under the skin,” which tells us what subcutaneous fat is: it’s fat that’s all over your body under your skin.

It’s what wiggles and jiggles and we we’re most concerned with when we want to lose fat.

Under normal conditions, subcutaneous fat levels are what fluctuate most when you “bulk” and “cut.”

Visceral fat, on the other hand, can’t be pinched–it lies beneath your abdominal wall.

In many cases, an expanding belly is the result of an increase in both types of fat. The subcutaneous fat is the fat we can feel and the visceral fat is the fat we can’t.

At this point, you might be wondering why some people can wind up with much more visceral fat than subcutaneous belly fat.

We’ll talk about why soon.

Now, while being too overweight is unhealthy, research shows that subcutaneous fat per se isn’t as dangerous to your health as visceral fat.

Higher amounts of visceral fat are associated with an increased risk of various types of disease including type 2 diabetes, heart disease, insulin resistance, and dyslipidemia.

Let’s find out why.

Why Is Visceral Fat Worse Than Subcutaneous Fat?

measuring visceral fat

 

We know that visceral fat increases the risk of various types of disease whereas subcutaneous fat doesn’t, and there are several theories as to why this is.

One hypothesis that is panning out in clinical research is as follows:

  1. Visceral fat releases fatty acids and pro-inflammatory chemicals.
  2. Due the fat’s proximity to the portal vein, these chemicals find their way into the liver.
  3. This tainted blood causes problems in the liver including insulin resistance and steatosis.
  4. Health problems ensue.

Subcutaneous fat, on the other, release more beneficial than harmful chemicals, such as leptin and adiponectin.

Use this workout and flexible dieting program to lose up to 10 pounds of fat and build muscle in just 30 days…without starving yourself or living in the gym.

Do You Have Too Much Visceral Fat?

how to lose visceral fat

You can measure your total body fat percentage in several ways, but the simplest way to determine if you have too much visceral fat is to measure your waistline.

Grab a tape measure and wrap it around your waist at the level of your navel, like this:

visceral fat levels

Don’t suck in your stomach or pull the tape tight enough to press into your skin.

In women, a waist measurement of 35 inches or higher is generally a sign of excess visceral fat. In men, it’s 40 inches or higher.

Why Some People Have Large Amounts of Visceral Fat

reducing visceral fat

There are numerous factors that influence where you tend to gain fat, including genetics, hormones, age, and possibly even birth weight (smaller babies may be predisposed to gain more belly fat later in life).

For example…

This increases the risk of obesity and other disease and dysfunction, as well as the tendency to gain visceral fat.

There are diet and lifestyle risk factors, as well:

This helps explain why visceral fat contains high amounts of trans fatty acids and why trans fat intake has been positively associated with abdominal fatness.

As you can see, genetics and hormones aside, the recipe for visceral fat gain is little-to-no exercise, overeating, eating crappy foods that contain trans fats, and drinking alcohol regularly.

Well, that’s exactly how the majority of people here in America live, which helps explain why we’re so damn sick and fat.

The good news, however, is losing visceral fat and keeping it off isn’t complicated.

How to Lose Visceral Fat

how to get rid of visceral fat

For all its menacing health implications, research shows that visceral fat yields easily to standard fat loss protocols.

Burn more energy than you consume and you will lose visceral fat, regardless of your genetics or other circumstances.

That said, there are a few other things you can do to speed up the process.

Cut out all trans fats from your diet.

There’s a reason why the Institute of Medicine recommends that our trans fat intake be “as low as possible.”

The stuff is bad.

Don’t drink a lot of alcohol.

What do we call a large accumulation of visceral fat?

A beer gut.

You now know why.

Studies show that while drinking frequency doesn’t seem to affect visceral fat levels, drinking intensity does. That is, the more you drink on each day you drink alcohol, the more likely you are to increase visceral fat stores.

So, if you’re struggling to lose visceral fat, cut back onthe alcohol.

Do resistance training.

Weightlifting isn’t just for building muscle. Studies show it’s also extremely effective for losing visceral fat.

Read this article to learn how to create a resistance training program that will work for you.

Do high-intensity interval training (HIIT).

Research shows that high-intensity interval training is not just better for overall fat loss–it’s particularly good for reducing abdominal and visceral fatness.

Interestingly, research shows this is true whether total fat mass is reduced or not.

That is, even if you don’t decrease your body fat percentage, regular aerobic exercise reduces visceral fat storage. The exercise promotes a healthier distribution of body fat (your body simply stores its fat elsewhere).

Read this article to learn how to get the most from your HIIT.

Improve your hormone profile.

You can’t increase your total fat mass without overeating, but your hormones can influence where your body stores the fat it does have.

For example, low testosterone is a predictor of visceral fatness in men (and as testosterone levels rise, visceral fatness drops).

In women, higher amounts of testosterone and lower amounts of estrogen (the hormonal shift that occurs during menopause) is associated with increased visceral fatness.

And when it comes to improving hormones, there are no (natural) quick fixes.

Men: Read this article to learn more about increasing testosterone naturally.

Women: It’s on my list to write an article for you that will discuss how to improve your hormone profiles. Stay tuned. 🙂

Keep cortisol levels under control.

Cortisol is a catabolic hormone that your body produces in response to stress.

Research shows that chronically high levels of cortisol skews the distribution of body fat to the abdominal region.

Check out this article to learn more about stress and cortisol and their relation to weight gain and loss.

Maintain good sleep hygiene.

Research shows that both too little and too much sleep can increase visceral fatness.

Scientists found clear associations between large increases in visceral fat and getting five hours of sleep or less and eight hours or more.

Read this article to learn more about maintaining good sleep hygiene.

Take the right supplements.

I saved this for last because, quite frankly, it’s far less important than proper diet and training.

Unfortunately, the workout supplement industry is plagued by pseudoscience, ridiculous hype, misleading advertising and endorsements, products full of junk ingredients, underdosing key ingredients, and many other shenanigans.

That said…there are safe, natural substances that have been scientifically proven to help you lose fat–and belly fat in particular–faster.

You’ll find my personal “belly fat loss stack” that I use and recommend below.

In the spirit of full disclosure, I want you to know that the supplements I recommend in this article are not just what I personally use but they are from my supplement line, LEGION.

As you probably know, the supplement industry is notorious for its lies and shenanigans. The truth is the majority of the supplements you see in the magazines and on the shelves aren’t going to help you reach your goals faster.

That’s why I decided to create the products I myself have always wanted: science-based formulations, clinically effective dosages of all ingredients, no fillers or unnecessary junk, and natural sweetening and flavoring.

You can learn more about LEGION and my goal to change the supplement industry for the better here.

And if you like what you see and decide to support my work…you’re awesome. 🙂 It’s because of people like you that I get to spend my time writing articles like this that help others get into the best shape of their lives.

Caffeine

Millions of people can’t shake the cobwebs without their morning cups of coffee but this powerful compound has a lot more going for it.

Caffeine helps you lose weight by increasing the amount of energy your body burns throughout the day, and it also improves strength, promotes muscle endurance, and enhances anaerobic performance.

For best results, research has shown that caffeine is best delivered in a pill or powder format, though you must be careful to avoid building up a tolerance to it.

Personally I get my caffeine from my pre-workout PULSE, which also contains clinically effective dosages of 4 other ingredients scientifically proven to improve workout performance:

how to get rid of visceral fat naturally

Yohimbine

Yohimbine is a chemical extracted from a species of African plant, Yohimbe.

Studies show that yohimbine can accelerate fat loss by blocking the activity of alpha-receptors in fat cells.

This enables your body to reduce fat stores faster and is particularly useful as you get leaner and are battling with stubborn fat holdouts.

There’s a slight catch with yohimbine, though: elevated insulin levels negate its weight-loss effects. If you want to reap its fat loss benefits, you want to use it when you’re in a fasted state.

Yohimbine’s benefits don’t stop there, though. It does more than help you lose fat faster.

Research shows that yohimbine also improves exercise performance, and it’s particularly effective at fighting off physical fatigue and increasing time to exhaustion.

These are the reasons why I decided to include yohimbine in my pre-workout fat burner FORGE, which was made specifically for maximizing fat loss with fasted training.

how to get rid of visceral fat quickly

PHOENIX Fat Burner

PHOENIX’s caffeine-free formulation helps you burn fat in three different ways:

  • it dramatically increases metabolic speed,
  • it amplifies the power of fat-burning chemicals produced by your body,
  • and it increases the feeling of fullness from food.

Many companies try to sell you their fat burners by making the process of fat loss sound overly complex.

They talk about increasing fat oxidation rates, preserving lean mass, supporting the thyroid, inducing thermogenesis, inhibiting enzymes related to fat storage, inducing enzymes that cause fat loss, manipulating hormone and neurotransmitter levels, reducing water retention, improving nutrient partitioning, and more.

Well, the truth is these are all aspects of fat loss, but this type of marketing is little more than an attempt to dazzle you with terminology and scientific half-truths in hopes that you just accept the claimed benefits at face value.

When you take a cold, hard look at the science of fat loss, there are really only three ways to appreciably speed it up:

1. You can increase your basal metabolic rate.

Your metabolic rate is a “count” of how much energy your body burns throughout the day, and the higher it goes, the faster you can lose weight.

This is because when you boil fat loss down to its utmost simplicity, it’s determined by the difference between the energy your body burns and the energy you feed it with food. Expend more energy than you consume over time, and you’ll lose fat.

While there are many, many ways to increase metabolic rate, they ultimately rely on one or both of the following mechanisms:

  1. Encourage a cell to produce more energy from carbohydrates and fatty acids.
  2. Reduce the efficiency of the process through which cellular energy is produced, thus increasing the “energy cost” of meeting the body’s needs.

There are many ways to manipulate those mechanisms and PHOENIX focuses on the most effective methods.

2. You can prevent hunger or cravings from ruining your plans.

A major reason diets fail is people just aren’t able to stick to them long enough. Wishes turn into cravings and ultimately binges, which can undo days or even weeks of hard work if it really gets out of hand.

While some people have an easier time than others, almost everyone has to deal with hunger and cravings to one degree or another. It’s just human nature to want to indulge in food after accidental or intentional deprivation, and whether it’s normal or not, it’s still interfering with your goals.

Many compounds are known to reduce hunger and others are known to increase the sensation of fullness you get from a meal. When a combination of proven molecules is used effectively, you can successfully reduce hunger and cravings and derive the maximum benefits from your diet.

3. You can make the overall experience of dieting more enjoyable.

Make no mistake: while recreating your body with smart diet, exercise, and supplementation can dramatically change your life for the better, it’s not easy.

No amount of pills or powders are going to get you there. It takes hard work, and it takes time. And this is another major reason why diets fail: people don’t want to go through the discomfort of it all.

Well, like reducing hunger and cravings, making the process of dieting more enjoyable, primarily by increasing the overall feeling of well-being, makes it easy to stick to the plan and see it through.

Although the molecular machinery of fat loss is vast and complex, the practical application remains simple.

Contrary to what many other companies would lead you to believe, directly stimulating any of the thousands of proteins and enzymes involved in fat loss either doesn’t work or is uninvestigated.

Fat loss is a whole-body process, and by focusing on simple, key, and proven targets everything else activates and functions accordingly.

PHOENIX’s formulation is the result of an extensive scientific review of a wide variety of natural molecules known to favorably affect fat loss, and we carefully chose a handful that work synergistically to safely deliver consistent results on all three points given above.

how to get rid of visceral fat fast

My Personal Belly Fat Loss Routine

how to burn visceral fat

Before we wrap up, I want to share with you a simple “do this to lose belly fat faster” routine that has served me and thousands of people I’ve worked with well.

It starts with a 25% calorie deficit and a high-protein diet, and 4 to 5 hours of heavy weightlifting and 1.5 to 2 hours of HIIT cardio per week.

In case you’re not sure how to calculate the calorie deficit, this tool will help:

LBM
BMR
TDEE
0
0 kcal
0 kcal
0 kcal

This is the “engine” that drives all the fat loss. Remember that no amount of supplementation will matter if you don’t get your diet and training right.

Once you do, though, supplementation can help. And here’s how my routine breaks down:

Before Weightlifting (Fasted):

About 10 minutes before my fasted weightlifting session, which I do first thing in the morning (about 45 minutes after waking), I take the following:

1 serving of FORGE

1 serving of PHOENIX

1 scoop of PULSE

My weightlifting session lasts about 45 to 60 minutes and afterward I eat my first meal of the week, which contains about 40 grams of protein and 100 grams of carbohydrate.

With Lunch:

I eat a light lunch of a salad with chicken so I can be back in a fasted state by 5:30 PM, which is when I do my fasted cardio.

If I were to eat a larger meal containing a fair amount of carbohydrate, however, there’s a chance that my insulin levels would still be elevated come cardio time. Thus, I “play it safe” and keep the meal small.

I don’t take any fat loss supplements at lunch.

(It’s worth noting that I also have a scoop of whey at about 3 PM, which gives my body about 2.5  to 3 hours to process it before cardio.)

Around 5:30 PM, Before Cardio

About 10 minutes before doing my fasted cardio, I take the following:

1 serving of FORGE

1 serving of PHOENIX

1 scoop of PULSE

I then do 25 minutes of HIIT cardio on the recumbent bike and eat dinner after, followed by about 40 grams of protein an hour or so before bed.

The Bottom Line on Visceral Fat

visceral fat removal

As you can see, there are more important reasons than vanity to lose the visceral fat.

It isn’t just ugly–it’s dangerous to your health.

Fortunately, though, it’s relatively easy to lose.

  • Maintain a moderately aggressive calorie deficit
  • Use weightlifting and HIIT to drive your fat loss
  • Cut out the trans fats and alcohol
  • Adopt a hormone-healthy lifestyle
  • Get enough (but not too much) sleep
  • Take the right supplements

Follow that simple strategy and the bulging belly will slowly but surely disappear…for good.

 

What’s your take on visceral fat? Have anything else to share? Let me know in the comments below!

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I'm Mike and I'm the creator of Muscle for Life and Legion Athletics, and I believe that EVERYONE can achieve the body of their dreams.

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The bottom line is you CAN achieve that “Hollywood body" without having your life revolve around it. No long hours in the gym, no starving yourself, and no grueling cardio that turns your stomach.

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  • Thanks for stopping by and checking out my article! I hope you enjoyed it.

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  • Daniel Gauthier

    Hi Michael! I’ve been a big fan of yours since reading Bigger Leaner Stronger and I appreciate your scientific approach to the fitness world. I have a question for you, but first a little background: I’m male, 5’11” and ~180lbs at ~13%bf, have been barbell training for 4 years or so. My abs are very pronounced when flexing, and while at rest my abs are somewhat visible but kind of protrude out like in this photo: http://i.imgur.com/jI6FjXJ.jpg (yeah, I know it’s a girl, bad example but my google skills are failing here)

    I hypothesize it’s a mix of genetics, irregular bowel movements/constipation, and perhaps an excess of this intra-abdominal fat you wrote about. It’s accentuated by having a somewhat underdeveloped chest, too.

    It’s not “roid-gut” extreme but I’m not a fan of the look and was wondering if you have any insight as to why this happens and if there’s any way to reduce it? Thanks!

    • Yeah, I think you’ve nailed it.

      I bet posture also has something to do with it. Us heavy lifters are so used to slightly arching our backs that we tend to do it all the time and that pushes the stomach out.

  • Derrick

    Mike – Does the “1 serving” of Phoenix pre-workouts refer to 4 capsules? In other words, it can be up to 8 caps/day? The bottle dosing mentions 2 caps, 2 times daily, so I’m slightly confused. I’ve been on 2 caps pre-workout (fasted) and am wondering if it’s ok to increase to 4 caps pre-workout, in a single dose. I combine it with 200mg caffeine. Thanks.

    • Yes the serving is 4 capsules, but the serving is split up. You take 2 capsules twice a day.

      There’s no need to take more than 4 capsules total. If you prefer, you’re welcome to take all 4 capsules at once.

  • Joseph Varthalitis

    Great article Mike! The calculator ROCKS btw! Although it is nice knowing how to diy, it really make calculating everything easy and saves a lot of time too. Do u perhaps have it setup on a page of its own on MFL or Legion? Thanks m8!

    • Thanks! Glad you like the calculator too. 🙂

      True it’s good to know how to do it yourself. The calculator just makes things easier.

      Good idea on making it it’s own page on the sites! Thanks for the tip. For now, I’m just adding them to existing, relevant articles.

  • Katie

    Yea, love the added on grams breakdown for cut/bulk/maintain!
    Thank you!

  • Bill

    Which foods contain trans fat?

  • loving the calculator, its much easier to use than the iifym.com one !

    • Thanks. Glad you’re enjoying it!

      • acroav8r

        Agreed!!! Michael, you may want to flow this calculator through the other parts of this site.

  • Jesus Merchan Reina

    Thanks, my good friend referred me to your site and it looks great. I have a big problem however, if I do anything too intensely or for more than a few minutes, I tend to get skipped heart beats and tachycardia. I have had several heart ablation procedures for arrhythmias, and wonder if this is something I could do.

    • YW! I understand your concern with the skipped beats. You should check with the doc on doing my program with your situation.

    • ps2gamer72450

      I would definitely run any exercise plan by your doctor before starting anything.

  • Ken Falk

    You reference an article about alcohol consumption in this article. The referenced article is http://jn.nutrition.org/content/133/8/2655.long. It doesn’t seem that you’re reading that article correctly since the conclusions of that article seem to be pointing to the fact that regular drinking in small amounts, and especially of wine, is inverseley associated with visceral fat. Quoting that study:

    “…indicated that current drinking was generally associated with smaller abdominal heights than recent or lifetime abstention. In fact, among women, current drinkers had smaller abdominal heights than either group of nondrinkers (P < 0.01). Men who drank during the past 30 d had smaller abdominal heights than men who did not drink

    and this quote:

    "Similar findings were observed in men; however, only wine was significantly inversely associated with abdominal height".

    and this one

    "among both women and men, daily drinkers had significantly lower measures than participants who drank less frequently."

    The terms "abdominal height" and "measures" in the quotes above are referring to measures of visceral fat.

    • Thanks for the comment Ken.

      Yeah it’s the drinking intensity that matters. Getting plastered every weekend = bad for visceral fat whereas daily light drinking = no effects.

      I’m going to clarify this in the article.

  • ps2gamer72450

    Mike,

    Love your program! I’ve lost 27 pounds so far this year doing what your book says (not to mention my lady is loving the new muscles). I had a question about the macros in this calculator. I have been doing 5 hours of exercise a week, weight 223 pounds, ~25-30% body-fat, and and looking to cut. I have been eating 1800 calories a day on a 40%p-40%c-20%f ratio. When I did the calculator here, it is showing that I should do 60%p-20%c-20%c ratio for cutting. Going this low on carbs and high on protein, wouldn’t this be hard/expensive to maintain, along with possible health issues due to protein? I know a big thing with the high-protein diets is that they cause kidney stones.

    Your feedback is appreciated! Thanks for all that you do!

    • Wow great job! That rocks!

      Ah the preset percentages are just random. You have to set them to what you want. I’m going to have this changed though and have it default to 40/40/20.

      Thanks for bringing this up and keep up the good work!

  • Jess

    I have a quick question regarding Phoenix. Is this something you should cycle or is it safe to use for an extended period of time? I’ve got a fair bit of weight to lose and will be in a cut phase for a while so is it ok to use for a long time or should I cycle off of it every so often? Thanks!

    • I recommend taking a week off from Phoenix every 6-8 weeks just to stay sensitive to it.

      My pleasure!

  • Casey Collier

    Mike, using your calculator and the “custom” multiplier of 2.0 to achieve my actual bulking calorie requirements for the day (fast metabolism), it had me at 15% protein and 10% fat with 75% carbs. Is this really optimal for me? Or would I benefit from more protein/fat?

    Another thing, does the visceral fat lie above or below the abdominal muscles? I feel that I have a sort of constant “bloated” feeling in my stomach, however, my Accumeasure caliper reads 7-8% and when I flex, I have a clear 6-8 pack. When I stop flexing I return to a bloated look. I’m puzzled as to if this is caused by (either kind) fat or if it is a different issue.

    Thanks in advance!

    • 2.0…you bastard. 😉

      No no don’t take that pre-set on the macros. You need to set what you want. I will have it preload to 40/40/20 though.

      Below the muscles. It sounds like you’re just dealing with bloating:

      https://legionathletics.com/bloated-stomach/

      • Casey Collier

        Haha yeah I know I’m lucky!

        Okay thanks man, wasn’t sure how I was going to possibly keep fat below 50g with so many calories!

        Hope I can get this bloating under control…

        • Yes you are!

          YW! Yep, with the amount you need to eat, you’ll probably need to up the fat intake to get the cals you need.

          LMK how the bloating comes along.

          • Casey Collier

            Yeah I will. I know I am Celiac, but I have noticed a reaction to some of the other foods in the bloating article (like garlic and onion, possibly potatoes) so I’m going to try experimenting with removing those things and see how it goes.

          • Cool. Good idea. Talk soon!

          • Casey Collier

            Checking in. I think I have pinpointed garlic as an allergy! When I take it out completely I feel a lot better. The amount of bloating I experience is proportional to how much garlic I have. Also, being a bit looser on my fat intake (now I’m around 20%) makes it easier and more enjoyable to get the calories I need, and I haven’t noticed performance decreases in the gym.

            Thanks man

          • Great news all-around!

            Glad you found the cause of the bloating and were able to be a bit more loose with the fat intake and be unaffected in the gym. 🙂

            Keep up the good work. Talk soon!

  • Claudia

    Great article! I love that you give the facts straight and there is no sugar coating. A lot of women’s magazines I read actually say that walking 4-5 times a week is enough! No wonder us ladies are frustrated! Thanks again!

    • Thanks! Glad you liked it.

      That’s crazy… Now you actually know what to do. 🙂

      YW!

  • Love the article but that calculator is weird or something. Currently, I weigh 79kg with 12% body fat and I exercise 4-6 hours per week. I also eat about 140g of protein and 140g of carbs and I don’t know how many grams of fat but around 20% of my total intake. I am staying at the same weight for a long time now. Why does that calculator say I have to eat so much more for maintenance? And I don’t eat junk. I eat clean with one cheat meal per week. Something doesn’t add up, or do I need to start counting my calories again? Thanks!

  • Tina

    Hi there, love your articles!
    What would you say is the best % of protein, carb and fat for cutting, when trying to calculate my macros? I am 47, 130lbs, female and have about 20% body fat and workout similar to you.
    Keep writing, you are a great motivator, thanks!

    • Thanks Tina!

      I recommend 40/40/20.

      Will do! Thanks for the support. 🙂

  • xanton

    Have checked my nutritional status before. I tended to lack abit of calcium & magnesium in my diet i fixed them and felt better, still had ibs symptoms left and i always wondered why. I worked outside this summer and did use sun factor and barely got any sun on me. I’ve used a multivitamin with vitamin D, 800IE and i thought i was okey with that dose, however i recently started to make some research and the suggestions were 3-5k IE/day. So i started supplement with vitamin D in dose 3600IE and suddenly built muscle, regained my lost muscle,lost fat. A guy i speak with thinks i’m on gear now lol. I can sleep a whole night with no problems, also my ibs symptoms are gone and i can eat what i want and have no gastrointestinal problems!

  • Ted63

    I like this article, it’s comprehensive and the steps are well laid out. But I’m 160 lbs and 8% BF and do weights 4 x a week plus some cardio mixed in off days. This would have me eating 2450 calories a day. That would be great, I’d love it but I think I’;d be gaining weight for sure on that program. Currently I keep myself below 2000 calories to maintain.

  • Robert Forry

    Mike, I love this article! I’ve struggled with my weight for years. I’m 5’9″ and around 220, but I’ve been as heavy as 259 lbs. I’ve yoyo’d over the last few years getting down to 188 at my fittest. I’ve done the Beachbody thing the past few years with Insanity and T25 but have struggled to complete P90X/X3 and Body Beast. I have read your books (Bigger, Leaner, Stronger) and would really like to use what you’ve discussed in there and in this article with a program like Body Beast (the weight training) with T25 (the HIIT). Any thoughts? Rob ([email protected])

    • Thanks!

      Honestly I wouldn’t bother with BB if you’re going to do BLS but you can use T25 for your HIIT.

  • acroav8r

    I hope you have a minute for a question. I’ve been stuck at the 218 +/-2 lbs/25% BF for the last 4 months. After looking at my history, I figured out I was only getting an average of 1750-1850 calories a day. As a 6’2 male, that’s about 3-400 less than recommended.

    When I figured that out, I stepped up to a maintenance intake of 2700 KCals over a 2 month period. I feel more energetic, to say the least. If I want to start cutting, should I step it down back to 2150 KCals or just go direct to that level?

    • Derrick

      unscubscribe

    • Smart move on moving to maintenance cals. Glad you’re feeling better. 🙂

      You can go straight to cutting cals. No need to slowly bring them down.

      Also, next time instead of going straight to maintenance cals, I recommend reverse dieiting:

      http://www.muscleforlife.com/reverse-diet/

      LMK what you think!

      • acroav8r

        Actually, yes. I did read this, and it made complete sense to me.

        For the last two months, I stepped it up about 150 kCals / week. I should have mentioned that more clearly in the original post. First, I went to 2000, then +150 a week until I hit 2750. I was doing well at maintaining weight until last weekend.

        My parents were in town, and we had to do a restaurant tour. I hit my numbers…but the sodium intake was probably through the roof. So, I went from 220 to 225. That extra 5 will probably be gone in a day or two…

        I spent a bit too much time on the couch with no energy, so my wife probably thanks you more than I do.

        • Ah okay great! Glad you did it right, apart from last weekend haha. I know how it can be with family in town.

          Glad you hit all your numbers! In that case, yeah your weight should go back to normal in the next few days.

          LMK how it goes! Let her know I’m happy to do it. 😉

  • Sam K

    Hi Mike! Have you written about female hormones yet? Thanks! 🙂

    • Hmm what are you looking for specifically?

      • Sam K

        Maybe a general write up on your thoughts and discoveries. What women might want to look into, or maintain in order to keep ‘stable’ 😉

        • Ah okay. No I haven’t yet but it could be worth diving into. I will make a note.

  • Rebecca

    Hi Mike,
    I love your articles, however I have a problem. The only gym by me is very limited to just a few, 5. 8 and 10 pound hand weights. They do have numerous weight machines which is supposed to work all the different muscles in the body, but my problem is I don’t know which ones to do and how much to do.
    Can I still build a great body using only these machines and if so, which ones would you recommend? I am female btw.

    • Thanks!

      Dang, that sucks.

      I suppose you could use machines but is it possible to change gyms?

      • Rebecca

        Hi Michael and thank you for your reply.
        I’d love to change gyms, but there are no other gyms in a 50 miles radius of me. Please tell me all is not lost and what I can do. Thank you!

        • Dang.

          So yes we could come up with something for you to do with the machines.

          All is definitely not lost. 🙂

          • Rebecca

            Whew, thanks Michael,
            Ok, so what do I need to do to find out what I need to do?
            As I mentioned they do have quite a few machines, would it be helpful if I let you know what they had?
            I really appreciate your help!

          • Hmm I could have one of the people that works with me on my coaching service get in touch and help you work out a routine?

          • Rebecca

            That would be awesome Michael. Let me know what you need, I so appreciate your help!! 😀

          • Great! Shoot an email to karim @ muscleforlife and he’ll explain how the coaching program works.

          • Rebecca

            Thanks so much!!! 😀

          • My pleasure!

          • Rebecca

            Hi Michael,
            I sent an email 5 days ago but no reply yet, do you know what the turn around time is?
            Thanks again for all the great articles!

          • It’s a few days depending on the inflow.

            I do answer all emails so if I haven’t replied yet, I will soon! I run a few days out due to the sheer volume. I get hundreds of emails and messages daily.

            Sorry for the wait!

          • Rebecca

            Hi Michael,
            I still haven’t heard back yet and am wondering if my email got lost.
            However in the mean time I have another question. I started taking the one scoop of Pulse, 4 capsules of Forge and 2 capsule of Phoenix before my exercise routine first thing in the AM, but I have noticed that I start tingling all over within 15 mins of drinking it. It lasts about 20 mins and then disappears. Is this normal? I weigh 120 is this the correct amount?
            Thank you.

          • Hmm. Yeah if I had received it, you would’ve gotten a response by now. Sorry about that!

            Please shoot another email to me at [email protected].

            Regarding the tingling, it is completely harmless and expected! It is caused by an amino acid in Pulse, beta alanine.

            Yep, those servings are correct. My pleasure!

          • Rebecca

            Thanks Mike,

            I’ll get that email out to you now.

            Have a great day!

            Rebecca

          • YW! Sounds good!

            You as well. 🙂

  • Sam K

    Got another question mike in regards to the macro calculator. On another page you don’t have the macros calculated but just the TDEE, from which using your formula I calculated my macros in grams and calories. However they come out different in this calculator. I am 118lbs, workout 4-6x pw, 28% bf. I’m short and sweet with a round tummy of love lol. Going by this I can have 130g carbs but I had calculated approx. 100 before on your other page, where you also show your own calculations. Thanks!

    • Hey!

      This calculate just has some basic presets (40/40/20 for cutting for example).

      If you want to cut, I would set your pro at 1 to 1.2 g/lb, your fats at 0.2 to 0.25 g/lb, and allot the rest of your cals to carbs.

      • Sam K

        Thanks! I’ve calculated my TDEE at 1600ish, so max cals are 1200. P/F/C is 120/24/106 grams and 560/216/424 cals. That correct?
        Calculating macros to calories is a head scratcher. Today I had only 1050 cals but hit all the macros:
        Meal 1: eggs, broccoli, cottage cheese for breakfast,
        Meal 2: chicken, broccoli, tbsp PB and almond milk
        Meal 3: protein shake and frozen spinach balls
        Meal 4: half a shake post workout with a banana and greek yogurt
        I am currently only doing daily HIIT cardio so finding a second meal (ie repeating Meal 2) is too much, and the shake is filling enough with the yogurt and banana. I’m also only 5 foot and otherwise sedentary in a desk job. Thoughts?

  • Sam K

    Hey Mike sorry another question if I may. My friend and I are discussing everything. What happens if I meet my calories and carbs and fat for the day but am low in protein? Do I take a protein shake to squeeze in the protein requirement even though the calories would be bumped up? Thankses 🙂

  • Lee

    Hey Mike! Been following Year One Challenge for about six months now. After a brief cut, and about a two month bulk I opted to cut. I am now almost down to my BMR. I am planning on reverse dieting up to my tdee. However, once I reach my TDEE, based on the picture is attached do you suggest I cut awhile longer, or bulk and put on some mass? As a skinny fat guy, I’m leery about bulking too soon. Thanks for all of your help, articles, books, and the awesome workout plan! Keep it up!,

    • Hey Lee! Cool you’ve been rolling on the 1YC for the last six months!

      Good call on the RD. I’d say you’re around 13-14% BF. So, let’s continue cutting after the RD to TDEE and get down to 10-12% BF. Then you can bulk. You’ll get more time to bulk that way.

      What do you think?

      My pleasure. Glad you’re enjoying everything! Will do. 🙂

      • Lee

        Sounds good! I must be goofing up when I take my caliper reading though cuz it says I’m at like 11.5 to 12.5 bf. Still, I’d love to see that tiny layer of pudge around my belly button disappear and the fat around my lower back shrink some more. Thanks for the quick response!

        • No worries. The caliper is accurate within 1-2%. It’s also, of course, subject to human error.

          Let’s make it happen then. 🙂

          Welcome!

  • Tamara

    Hi Mike
    New to this. Just bought your book. Don’t know if I should buy your supplements. I’m diabetic and have been on the roller coaster of weight. Been as high as 200, now at 155. Dr wants me at 130 by December 1 to have surgery for diastasis recti.
    This is my diet as of now; please tell if I need to change anything other than trans fat: 950 calories, 100 carbs, 30 g of fiber and 50 g of protein. I’m 49 and 4’91/2″.
    Thanks in advance for your help. I will purchase a supplement based upon recommendations.
    Regards Tamara

  • sakib800

    Hey Mike this explains something,

    back then i used to be fairly lean because i played football a lot, And now even though i think i dieted my way down to about the same body fat percentage as before, there still is a clump of fat i have in my face that wasn’t there in those days.

    So does this mean that my intense running back then spread out fat more evenly across my body? And/Or is this stubborn fat?

    • Interesting question! My facial fat reduces when I implement HIIT cardio into my cut. It’s stubborn, but will reduce with time as you cut.

      • sakib800

        This makes sense..and also thanks for replying! man i love you guys, you guys are the only ones that respond to everything!! how do you guys manage that with so many followers?

  • Hi Mike,

    I’m 27 y/o, 5.74 tall and I was overweight for more than two years and now, for the past 2 years I’ve been working my way down, to a healthy 69 Kg (152 lbs).
    I do heavy lifting 2-4 days a week (depends on my schedule) but my belly still looks awful, looks like it’s not part of my body. My last bio-measurement said i’m at 43.3% muscle and 14% fat (5% visceral).
    I’m a vegetarian, but even if I try to increase my intake of protein and top up my calorie intake (about +1800) to stop the deficit, I tend to increase this belly fat always.

    Can you throw some advise?

    Thanks a lot

  • ALEXANDER WORMBS

    Hey Mike, thanks for the article. I desperately need some help and would love your input on this.

    I am a healthy 25 year old male and have lived a decently healthy lifestyle for the past 7 years, working out regularly and eating well. I want to increase my muscle mass by doing strength training and eating more calories, however I have a problem when it comes to my stomach.

    For as long as I can remember my belly has been pushed out quite a lot (like a beer belly, although I don’t drink alcohol). First I thought that I was bloated, but after a lot of trying this and that I think my body is just storing a lot of visceral fat. I can see the same thing with my dad, who has a very big belly but skinny everywhere else.

    This just seems like the worst thing my body could do to me. First, I read that visceral fat is dangerous, so why is it storing fat only there? Second, it looks awful and I constantly have to suck in my belly which is a major annoyance. I can’t even intentionally push out my belly since that is the normal state, it’s just pushed out to the max ALL the time.

    I hope you understand how frustrating this is. I’m sure the fat would go away if I lose a lot of weight by eating less, but then I will lose my muscle mass as well. If I eat more to gain muscle mass I will also get a bigger belly. Is there any solution for me to feel good about my body or am I doomed to always suck in my belly constantly?

    Thanks for your help.

    Regards,
    Alex

    • Hey Alex,

      I suggest you first cut and get that stomach down before bulking. It’ll be healthier for you as well, if it’s truly visceral fat there and not bloating:

      https://www.muscleforlife.com/bloated-stomach/

      You will not lose muscle during a cut as long as you are lifting heavy, getting enough protein, and eating sufficient calories:

      https://legionathletics.com/diet-meal-plans/
      https://legionathletics.com/how-to-calculate-body-fat/

    • P Mort

      You’re not the only one dude, I got this too. I also thought it was bloating for the longest time, because it doesn’t jiggle and it’s harder to pinch, so I just assumed it’s bloat (and thus it could be cortisol induced because I’m not eating enough…go figure). As written above, I do find cardio helps me a lot, particularly high intensity, I just need to find a way to fit it into a schedule that a) doesn’t burn me out, particularly on a cut & doing HIIT and b) still allows me to weight train as well. I feel like the 5 day BLS plan is too much tbh.

    • Gary

      Alex,
      What this article, and many others, doesn’t tell you is that animal proteins are harmful to your whole body (as in carcinogenic). Go vegan for two months and see how you like it. Also, you don’t need to eat a lot to “bulk up”. You need to intake nutrients (organic, plant based, raw). Look up the Nutritarian Diet by Joel Fuhrman.

  • one thing, your science form doesnt work up there and one time people were actually interested in making stuff like that but now thanks to `oh i only want to lift and be huge massive success` without the `oh i want to be the master of the countertop chef master chop chop` there is no such thing as using primitive geometrical equations to calculate your bmi it is just a shitty one dimensional relic of the multidimensional thought process of a cult of users who are probably dead and gone.

    • acroav8r

      Works fine here…

  • Kelpie

    I think visceral fat is a big issue that keeps me from having a small waist as an otherwise petite woman. I’m overall fairly lean, running 20-30 mins in the mornings then 45-60mins progressive overload training 4 times a week. I’m counting macros for a cut but just don’t see the shrinkage in my waist. I’ll try to incorporate more sprint intervals in my run and see if that helps. I’ve tried all the other tips and tried the stack (phoenix makes my stomach upset).

    • Hey there! That’s great you’re doing cardio in the morning and lifting weights. If you’re not seeing fat loss, then drop your cals by 100 and increase your HIIT cardio up to 5 half-hour sessions a week. I suggest being more precise about the duration as well, so you have more control over your total exercise and can adjust accordingly.

  • De

    I was wondering. If you loose visceral fat does it turn into subcutaneous fat before leaving the body? I am losing weight all over but gaining soft fat on my tummy. In the past I have noticed that when I get soft fat its gone within a couple of weeks. (am I making this up or is there something to it? )

    • No, fat does not shift its location.

    • rotatopoti

      You’re probably actually losing fat but it’s drooping because you have the same amount of skin. When you lose more fat your skin will shrink. The rate of that shrinkage depends on how much fat you have to lose? How long you had the weight on, age and a few other factors.

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