By: Keith Diedrich
We live in a rapidly moving society that demands proficiency, and when it comes to changing the way we look, we want results yesterday! Being aware of this, it was clear to me that I needed to come up with a formula for effective fat loss that everyone from beginners to advanced trainees could utilize. The formula would need to deliver dramatic results in a short time frame, while not compromising a person’s health. So it would only make sense to take an approach towards fat loss that was 100% natural and would enable a person to become more physically fit from the inside out. After all, what good is it to have an amazing body if one’s internal functions are a complete mess? The reality is, there is no magic potion or pill that will do the work for you and you can’t reinvent the wheel so don’t get caught up in some of the radical or fad diets that you see permeating the fat loss program market. I believe it’s fair to say that most people are aware that nutrition, weight lifting, cardiovascular exercise, and recovery comprise the foundation of an effective fat loss regimen. Naturally, these are the 4 fundamentals of my 28 Day Fat Fast Program and knowing how to integrate the four in the most optimal manner is where most people become perplexed and need some form of guidance to help steer them in the appropriate direction. This is where my specialization comes in. Through countless hours of academic research, the real world training experience in working with hundreds of clients over the last 10 years, and constantly having to go through the trial and error process myself, I finally struck nearly a perfect balance with each of the 4 fundamentals. In all honesty, it was the smoothest, most enjoyable dieting experience I’ve ever had and not once did I feel miserable or burnt out. Sure, there were times where I had to dig deep and ask myself how bad I really wanted it and I’m not trying to say that it wasn’t a lot of work because it absolutely was but instead of constantly being hungry, cranky, lethargic and craving cheat foods, I felt the most balanced I’ve ever felt mentally and physically. In other words, what I’m telling you is rather than eating like a bird and running like you’re on a hamster wheel, there is a better way to diet!
My story is this:
At the onset of the 28 Day FF program, my body fat was a tenth under 10% and I weighed 180.5 lbs. upon rising. I had 18 lbs. of fat on my frame and 162.5 lbs. of lean mass. I arrived at these numbers by BIA (bioelectrical impedance analysis) with a handheld device. It’s important to note that lean mass is a representation of more than just muscle. It is comprised of bones, ligaments, tendons, and internal organs. I also should mention that for the 6 weeks preceding the start of my 28 Day FF program, I was drinking heavily on the weekend and having 6-7 cheat meals every week. I felt bloated, run down, and highly unproductive following nights of drinking. I was still working out 4-5 days per week but it was a vicious cycle of breaking my body down in the gym and then not giving it a fair shot to recover by pouring copious amounts of alcohol down my throat. Alcohol consumption is the absolute worst thing for building muscle and keeping body fat off. Studies show that two or more drinks in a night totally negate the effects of strength training exercise performed earlier that day. I realize that in some people’s eyes, my starting aesthetics/numbers may have been a perfectly fine body composition. For me, however, it was not acceptable. I’ve always been able to see my abs and I could tell I was only another weekend or two of heavy drinking and binge eating away from not having a 6 pack. I decided my goal by the end of the 28 days was to drop 10 lbs. of scale weight and lower my body fat to 6% ... all while preserving that valuable lean mass. I knew this was on the aggressive side as I only had a short period of time to work with and my body fat was already on the low-ish side to start out with. It’s important to point out that everyone has what’s called a body fat set-point. This is the body fat percentage that your body genetically gravitates towards to maintain homeostasis. The further away you get from this (meaning lower) the more difficult it becomes to drop body fat. also planned to track where I was losing the weight from by taking weekly circumference measurements at the waist, chest, arms, and legs. I knew what I was up against and was ready to rock and roll. I formulated a game plan and the blueprint of it I’ll break down for you below in each of the 4 Fundamentals of the 28 Day FF program.
Fundamental 1: Nutrition
The foods listed below are the foods that I ate over the course of the 4 weeks:
The foods listed above were all things that I enjoyed eating. It’s important to select foods that you don’t hate or strongly dislike as the likelihood of adhering to the meal plan only goes down. Next, I had to determine roughly what my daily basal caloric intake would be. Through tracking food in the past, I knew that it would take ~3,400 calories per day to maintain my bodyweight (whatever this number may be is your basal caloric intake). For those of you that would be spiffballing, an easy way to give you a ballpark figure is to multiply your bodyweight x 17. I next subtracted 500 calories from my baseline. Why 500? Well, if you recall from the goals stated above, I wanted to drop 10 lbs. by day 28 and each pound of fat is comprised of 3,500 calories. This means over the course of 4 weeks I’d need to burn 35,000 more calories than I took in! My strategy was to create a daily caloric deficit of 1,000 calories (500 from food restrictions and the other 500 from increasing my activity level..i.e. weights and/or cardio). This would equate to a weekly calorie deficit of 7,000 calories which also equates to a weekly reduction of 2 lbs. of fat! Now I know you’re thinking that would only yield a total weight loss of 8 lbs. by day 28 but I had a few tricks up my sleeve that I knew would help chip away at that remaining 2 lbs. which I will get into later. Now that I knew how many calories to consume each day (2,900) I needed to decide where I wanted those calories to come from (protein, carbs, fat). This is the part that most people struggle with and is highly individualistic but a decade of troubleshooting the impact that different foods have on myself as well as clients of mine helped me arrive at a ratio of 50/35/15. 50% of my calories would come from carbs (~350g), 35% would come from protein (~250g) and 15% (~50g) would come from fats. A lot of people these days think that carbs are the devil but fail to realize that carbs are as much if not more muscle sparing than protein. And remember, this program is 100% done naturally so you must have all of your ducks in a row to shed fat rapidly while concurrently maintaining lean mass. Additionally, carbs are your body’s primary energy source. Even your brain needs some carbs to function optimally. Therefore, with the goal of holding onto your hard earned muscle and not walking around like a zombie, as mine was, it is imperative to keep carbs at least on the moderate side. Going into more detail, I would make it a point to consume 60-70% of my daily carb intake prior to my weight lifting session. This was to ensure that my workout performance was as high as possible and that I was giving my body the energy when it needed it the most. I would consume 4-5 meals per day and tried to space the meals out every 3-5 hours.
Muscle is comprised of roughly 75% water. Blood is comprised of roughly 70% water. When you’re exercising, what is happening? In a nutshell, blood is being pumped to the muscle to perform a task and so it should come as no surprise that performance and even more important, quality of living, is going to suffer if you are not giving your body enough water! Which is why I made it a point to consume 1 gallon of water each day during my first week of dieting and increased my daily water consumption by .25 gallons each successive week (by week 4 I was drinking 2 gallons per day).
Fundamental 2: Weight Lifting
The following muscle group split listed in the order below along with the exercises and number of sets and reps attached to them is what I used for all 4 weeks of the program. 2 minutes rest was taken between sets.
Day 1: Upper Legs and Calves
Quad extensions: 3 sets of 20 reps to begin the workout and 3 sets of 10 reps to finish the workout.
Hack squats: 4-6 sets of 10 reps.
Single leg kickback machine: 4 sets of 10 reps to each leg.
Lying leg curl: 4 sets of 15 reps.
Walking forward lunges: Bodyweight + 50 lb chain for 30 strides x 3 sets.
Standing calf raise machine: 4 sets of 10 reps.
Day 2: Chest
Pec-deck machine or cable crossover: 3 sets of 15-20 reps.
Incline barbell press: 4 sets of 10 reps.
Flat dumbbell press: 4 sets of 10 reps.
Pec flye machine: 3 sets of 12-15 reps.
Flat machine press: 3 sets of 12-15 reps.
Bodyweight pushups on an unstable surface- swiss ball, bosu ball etc: 3 sets of 15 reps.
Day 3: Shoulders and Traps
Resistance band lateral raises: 3 sets 20 reps.
Dumbbell seated military press: 4-6 sets of 10 reps.
Reverse flye machine: 3 sets of 15 reps.
Machine press: 4 sets of 10 reps.
Standing dumbbell lateral raises: 3 sets of 15 reps.
Standing dumbbell shrugs: 4 sets of 12 reps.
Day 4: Back
Close grip lat pulldown: 4 sets of 12 reps.
1-arm dumbbell row: 4 sets of 10 reps.
T-bar rows: 4 sets of 15 reps.
Wide grip lat pulldown: 4 sets of 10 reps.
Seated machine row: 3 sets of 15 reps.
Partial deadlifts in the power rack: 4 sets of 10 reps.
Day 5: Arms
Rope pressdowns: 3 sets of 20 reps.
Resistance band curls: 3 sets of 15 reps.
Lying cambered bar extension: 4 sets of 10 reps.
Standing dumbbell hammer curl (bi-lateral): 4 sets of 15 reps.
Bench dips (with weight plate): 4 sets of 20 reps.
Cable preacher curl: 4 sets of 12 reps.
V attachment pressdown: 3 sets of 12 reps.
High cable front double bicep curl: 3 sets of 10 reps.
*I would train 4 consecutive days in the sequence listed above and then take a rest day which would consist of cardio. I would then resume with the muscle group that I left off on for another four days followed by a rest day.
I would select four of the exercises listed below and perform one set of each exercise every 3rd workout.
High plank on medicine ball: 60-90 seconds
Hanging knee raises: 15-20 reps
High plank on ab wheel: 60-90 seconds
Reverse crunch on decline board: 15 reps
Ab wheel roll outs: 15 reps
Floor leg raises w swiss ball between legs: 15 reps
High plank w feet elevated on bench crossing one knee towards opposite elbow: 30 seconds each side
Roman chair crunches: 12 reps
Fundamental 3: Cardio
This is quite honestly the fundamental that I took the most instinctive approach towards. I had to be cautious with overdoing cardio as my body type does not hold onto or build muscle easily and the last thing I wanted was to lose my hard earned muscle. The intensity, duration, form, frequency, and any other variables are listed below.
Intensity: After figuring out my max heart rate (220-age), I next multiplied that number by 70% (188*.7) which came out to 132 bpm. I would try and maintain this (using a fitbit ChargeHR) for the duration of my cardio (termed steady-state cardio) to ensure the majority of the calories that I was burning were coming from fat. This moderate intensity approach allowed me to keep my central nervous system fresh for my weight lifting sessions.
Duration: On rest days (once every 5th day) I would do 45-60 mins. On lifting days where I would perform shoulders or arms, I would do 30-40 mins. separate from my lifting session and typically be performed later in the evening around 8:30pm.
Form: I would either do the upright stationary bike, stair mill, or outdoor walk up hills for my forms of cardio. It would largely depend on how sore my legs were or what I was in the mood for.
Frequency: As mentioned above, I would perform approximately 3 cardio sessions per week. One on arm and shoulder days (separate from the lifting session) and one on rest days. Every other rest day (once every 10 days) I would elect to do my cardio upon rising in a fasted state. Over the course of the program, I did 3 fasted state cardio sessions. This was to push me past any sticking points and to ensure I reached my goal of dropping 10 lbs.
Fundamental 4: Recovery
The bullet points listed below helped my body stay fresh and minimize temptations and I suggest you give some of them a try:
As I went into my final assessment on Day 29 I knew I was close to attaining my goals but wasn’t quite sure if I had dropped enough fat. I had received numerous compliments from people throughout the process, felt mentally sharper than I have in years, and could see the difference in the mirror myself so regardless of what the final numbers were it was a major victory for me. Ultimately, I ended up dropping 9.5 lbs. of scale weight and reduced my body fat percentage by 3.4%. I also lost an inch and a half off my waist, and maintained virtually every ounce of muscle.
About the Author
Gym Owner and Personal Trainer, Keith Diedrich has a B.A. in Exercise Science and has been professionally involved in health and fitness in various capacities since 2005.
"My initial thought about Keith was that he seemed very casual and not as frenetic as other professionals. I quickly learned that he was gauging my stamina, movements, and technique. He wasn't after a fast burnout, but he wanted to exhaust every muscle every time. He said we were working on a "mind to body connection." With this connection I'd be able to gauge whether a set was 15 reps or 20 reps regardless of the initial "goal of 15!" I believe much of my gains came from Keith always seeing my potential even when I couldn't." ~ Saul "Mr. Biceps"