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The Bodybuilder Bible: Volume 2

Lean Gains & ‘Stubborn Visceral Fat’

Posted by Dave_Diesel - August 25th, 2015

Fact: To reduce body fat, you need to burn more calories than you consume. Cutting requires 55% protein, 15% complex carbs and 30% healthy fats. Lean gains require 50% protein, 25% complex carbs and 25% healthy fats. When you work out, don’t do so purely for adoration. Do so primarily for personal health and happiness. Making lean gains can be challenging, but the reward at the end is worth it. Here are some things to keep in mind as you look to make some lean gains.

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Lose Fat At A Steady Pace

When trying to lose fat, some people cut calories too quickly or drastically, causing starvation or what I call hibernation mode, where you put the visceral fat you lost back on as soon as you return to a surplus. This is due to the body storing adipose tissue to survive, since it cannot predict when it will be fully replenished. In this instance, our bodies become catabolic, making retaining or building lean muscle mass more difficult. It is likely most of the weight loss in crash diets is muscle, and less muscle generally means you will have a slower metabolism.

What Is Visceral Fat?

Visceral fat is the stubborn tissue around the stomach region, which develops as a result of chronic under-eating (or predisposition), where the body is holding onto it as stored energy and insulation. A decrease in growth mediators like IAAT, as well as increased visceral fat can attach to bone marrow and reduce bone mineral density, as in osteoporosis. It also relates to insulin resistance.

Making Lean Gains

When you're looking to make lean gains, it’s advisable to start with a cut, particularly if you already have a fairly high body fat percentage. This is because once fat cells are formed, they never disappear, you can only shrink them. Therefore you are better off minimizing the amount of cells you have to begin with when you embark on your journey for making lean gains.

The Misconception Of Bulking

It's been said before but I will say it again – You will build the most amount of muscle in your first three years of lifting. From your fourth year on, fours pounds a year is, on average, what you can expect to gain. Contrary to popular belief, muscle cannot turn to fat. There is no point doing a 'dirty bulk', where you eat anything and everything to gain weight. The weight you can will be mostly fat, and in order to achieve that ripped physique, you will have to lose most of the weight you gained. Dirty bulking simply isn't worth it.

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Exercise Regimes

Making lean gains may require a lot of manipulation when it comes to your diet, but you can't forget about your training regime either. You need to pick the right training methods in order to ensure you make those lean gains. Here are some quick training tips you might want to implement.

High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) – Put simply, one minute of intense work, followed by one minute of steady work. HIIT is super effective, as it boosts your metabolism and insulin sensitivity. For those building muscle, a 20 minute HIIT session following weights (or on non-weight training days) promotes fat loss and lean gains. The reason sprinters are so ripped is due to effectively doing HIIT for a living, in association with resistance training. HIIT is ideal for aesthetics, but you have to push yourself if you want to see results. A good session incorporates some short, sharp bursts of sprints or jumps, followed by a jog or walk. Other benefits of HIIT are that it helps you maintain a healthy heart and high red blood cell count, meaning you can lift with more volume and go harder in the gym. Don't do too much steady cardio, as endurance cardiovascular activity generally burns more muscle mass than HIIT cardio.

Regardless of your goals, the person who avoids excuses, is disciplined and consistently exercises, is the person who has the most success and achieves their goals. The difference between a goal and a dream, is one has a plan. A one-hour fitness session is only 4% of your day, and aside from heart, respiration, fitness and health benefits, cardio exercise is simply a catalyst to help you achieve a caloric deficit. Experience the pain of discipline, or suffer the pain of regret.

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Resistance (Weight) Training – Even resistance training will burn fat to an extent, due to a boost in metabolism, as well as the fact those with higher muscle percentages burn greater fat at rest, given each pound of muscle uses 6 calories a day to sustain itself. It’s recommended to perform some resistance training whilst reaching your fat burning goal, in order to retain toned definition and shape.

Abs & Core – Abs are made in the kitchen, but if you want them to pop, you need to be training them during your lean gains period as well. If you have a high body fat percentage, they’ll be hidden, so training and nutrition must align. Blocky abs are built using weighted vests or free weights for core isolation exercises. Fat is stored primarily in the stomach, hips and thigh area on men, meaning this is the slowest and last place to burn it off. There are no exercises to spot reduce fat, so the only way to make abs visible is to decrease your overall body fat with HIIT cardio, be in a calorie deficit, or both.

Metabolism Plays A Significant Role In Making Lean Gains
 Metabolism is generally fastest in the morning, due to the fact your body goes without food for 7 – 9 hours while you are sleeping. When sleep deprived, your metabolism slows to conserve energy, so ensuring you have sufficient sleep increases metabolism and makes you burn more calories for longer. Increased overall mass will also equal elevated fat loss. It's a pretty simple formula really – the more physically active you are, the more calories you burn, and by incorporating things like HIIT into your routine, you can boost the afterburn effect.

The Afterburn Effect Or EPOC
 Excess post-exercise oxygen consumption (EPOC) means you need more oxygen after brief, but intensive workouts such as HIIT or heavy lifting. This allows you to target more fast-twitch muscle fibres that tend to grow stronger compared to slow twitch. Interval training and alternating between high-intensity and low-intensity also effectively increases your resting metabolic rate, lowers blood pressure and improves nutrient partitioning and VO2 max (the maximum oxygen your body can process). It is important to always change your routine so your body is continually pushed, challenged and avoids muscular adaptation to any single exercise alone. EPOC requires more energy to recover after a workout and causes the body to increase its fuel consumption (body fat), resulting in a break down of fat stores and free fatty acids to be burned. This creates a boosted basal metabolic rate that aids in burning more calories throughout the day, even when at rest for several hours following exercise.

Damaged/Wrecked Metabolisms

This is a concept which involves your metabolism slowing to the point that you put on fat easily. Genetics and hormones play a part, but it’s often a result of chronically under-eating and minimizing calories for a period of time in the hopes to maintain a certain weight. If you go from under-eating (an excessive caloric deficit) straight into over-eating (a caloric surplus), this can result in rapid fat gain given you have just come from a state of homeostasis. This can affect libido and elevate levels of cortisol, also lowering testosterone.

The best option is to sort out your meal plan so that you are not under-eating, and when you do come out of a deficit, make sure you slowly increase your caloric intake. Remember, to boost metabolism, balance testosterone & cortisol levels, and to avoid the appetite stimulating hormone ghrelin, it’s vitally important to sleep for 7 – 9 hours, even if you have to do it in two periods.

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To put yourself in a surplus slowly, add 200 calories to your daily intake every 2 – 3 weeks, so your body adapts, until you reach your caloric baseline. Done at this rate, the body uses it to build muscle and maintain body fat, whereas if it is increased too fast, the body stores the extra calories as fat, so timing is key. In total, this process can take 8 to 16 weeks.

Thyroid Function

Thyroid hormones regulate metabolism, organs and digestion, heart rate, cholesterol levels, body weight, temperature, energy, muscle control, skin, hair and bone maintenance, fertility, menstrual regularity, libido, mood, memory and other bodily functions. Thyroxine is an inactive hormone secreted into the bloodstream via the thyroid gland, before it is converted to the active form, called triiodothyrine, by the liver and kidneys. Excess thyroxine (thyrotoxicosis) or over-activity of the thyroid gland is known as hyperthyroidism, namely Graves’ disease, which is inflammation of the thyroid or a benign tumor. On the other hand, too little production of thyroxine is called hypothyroidism, caused by an autoimmune disease (Hashimoto’s thyroiditis), insufficient iodine, or certain medication. 200 million people globally have a form of thyroid disorder which can play a part in how much weight/fat you do or do not gain.

Diet & Nutrition

Now we can talk about probably the most important part of any fitness lifestyle – Nutrition. When looking to gain muscle, lose fat, or even just to maintain weight, portion control matters. You can often eat more food than you think you should, but you have to make sure you are eating the right foods. The quality of the calories you're eating is vitally important.

Some chicken and brown rice may be one small meal, which contains protein and complex carbs. Whey protein powder can be used as a meal replacement, when you don’t have time and you need something quick, easy, and obviously high in protein. Try to have some protein throughout the day, to ensure it’s all metabolized and is constantly supplied to your muscles, organs and cells. Your macronutrients are important, but you better not forget about those micro-nutrients either, which aid in the absorption of macros.

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Frequent Eating

Eating constantly throughout the day is not essential, but can be helpful if you are in the fat-loss stage prior to making your lean gains. Eating in this way boosts metabolism due to the thermic effect of food (the calories it takes to break down and absorb it), anywhere between 3 – 30%. Proteins have a high thermic effect of 30%, and carbs are around 20%. This means the frequency of meals affects the amount of calories burned. Doing so also retains a balanced blood sugar level, prevents hunger and enhances energy, while protein throughout the day ensures the body has a constant supply of amino acids, helping you build and maintain muscle, while burning fat. Preparing food in advance makes it easier to be consistent. Many people count calories, although an easier method is to use portion sizes (in relation to a hand or fist), so when you organize meals, ensure you have a portion of protein, a portion of carbs, and a portion of fats.

Nutrition Plan For Lean Gains

In order to build muscle and burn fat simultaneously, you must carefully monitor your macros, to make sure they are well balanced. Protein, carbs and fat should all have a place in your diet, while for those who already have a high or average body fat percentage, keeping carbs low can be a good option. The only way to figure out what will work best for you is to visit the MEAL PLAN page and use the calculator to come up with your own numbers. Understand that dieting in particular is not always about you want, but what your body needs in order to recover, repair and grow. Think of yourself as a complex engine that requires fuel and maintenance to be fully efficient. Without proper food, it will not operate to the best of its ability.

Drink Water!

Drinking 2 gallons of water spread out over the course of a day, increases your metabolic rate by 30% and produces a diuretic affect that puts your body into a flushing mode of reduced water weight, thus helping you burn fat and make muscles look fuller due to water retention.

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Healthy Fats
 Fats help you lose weight and are essential for metabolism, vitamin absorption, recovery and brain function. Monounsaturated (omega 9) and polyunsaturated fats (omega 3 & 6) lower LDL cholesterol, raise HDL, and steady blood sugar helping to reduce diabetes, heart attack risks, certain cancer risks, osteoporosis and obesity.

 Lowering starchy complex carb intake before resistance workouts or on rest days will reduce insulin spikes, therefore increasing the burning of fat. Eat plenty of green vegetables, as they do not contain many carbs and they are full of nutrients. After a resistance workout, your muscle cells crave more carbs to send a rush of amino acids to aid recovery. Cardiovascular exercise does not always require this. Therefore, following resistance training, your body needs those carbs to refuel glycogen reserves, so they will not turn into fat cells. Mixing protein with healthier complex carbs is a great idea.  In general, women are more efficient at burning fat, but less at burning glycogen stored in muscle, meaning they may operate better on a low carb diet compared to men.

Sugar, Spice & Everything Nice
 Avoid simple carbs, trans-fats (hydrogenated), as well as processed and refined foods, as they deplete essential nutrient absorption during metabolism. While moderate sodium is essential for water regulation and bodily function (movement of sodium generates electrical signals that the brain, nervous system and muscles require for communication), you easily get this without pouring salt over everything. Wisely avoid labels marked ‘low fat’ or even ‘low sugar’, and artificial sweeteners. These often contain aspartame, a synthetic sugar alternative that is similar to pesticides and carcinogenics.

Rarely buying snacks takes away temptation, but an occasional cheat meal is fine, assuming it increases your focus to maintain your overall lifestyle. When dining out, opt for grilled or boiled instead of fried. All of this also depends on your goals and how important it is to you that you succeed. Think about how much you want it and what you are willing to sacrifice. Would you prefer short-term satisfaction, or long-term reward? Which is greater? There is always a choice, you just have to make the right one.

Foods That Boost Metabolism For Fat Loss
 All calories are not equal, but when you boost metabolism it becomes an easier process to burn fat. Factors that affect metabolism include age, gender, BMI, muscle mass, calorie intake and hormones. Having said that, several dietary items accelerate this effect. Combining some of these is an effective way to see results.

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  • Cinnamon (2/4g – half/1 teaspoon): To regulate blood sugar for energy so less is stored as fat. It can also stabilize insulin, hunger and LDL cholesterol levels.
  • Ginger: An anti-inflammatory digestive aide that can be added to teas, meals and sauces.
  • Green tea ECGC, and particularly Matcha (3 – 5 cups): A compound that revs metabolism. Tannins: Reduce iron absorption. However, tea with lemon or lime (vitamin C), or only drinking between meals reverses this effect. Do not drink it whilst on certain medicines.
  • Red peppers (hotter the better), or flakes and cayenne pepper: Capsaicin revs metabolism.
  • Whey Protein: Stimulates chemicals in the digestive system that reduce hunger and promote hormones beneficial to weight loss.
  • Papaya: Has an enzyme papain that improves digestion and absorption of protein.
  • Turmeric: For anti-inflammatory ability to fight fat cells, and its joint strengthening effect.
  • Black Pepper: Enhances absorption and alkaloid piperine speeds metabolism.
  • Tomatoes or tomato juice: Contains lycopene, an antioxidant that protects the mitochondria.
  • Citrus fruit or foods containing vitamin C.
  • Whole grains and high fibre foods: Make you fuller for longer and take more energy to process.
  • Garlic: Is anti-bacterial and regulates blood sugar. Garlic and onions promote concentration of smooth muscles in the intestinal wall to aid digestion.
  • Certain berries (especially blueberries): Low on the glycemic index, although this chart is not a solid indication of health.
  • Coconut oil: Has medium-chain fats that enhance energy production, thyroid activity, reduce adrenal fatigue, boost HDL and stimulate metabolism.
  • Low-fat yoghurt: Contains probiotics, reducing the amount of fat your body absorbs.
  • Milk: Has calcium that boosts caloric expenditure and metabolises fat more efficiently.
  • Salmon: High in omega 3 fatty acids that increase metabolic rate and improve insulin response making you fuller for longer. Mono-unsaturated fats also increase metabolism.
  • Green leafy vegetables: For vitamins & minerals, antioxidants and chlorophyll to detoxify.
  • Nuts and seeds: Due to choline and inositol that remove fat so it isn’t reabsorbed.
  • Apple cider vinegar: Accelerates fatty acid oxidation enzymes, which break down fat and redirect it before it can become stored.
  • Eggs, fish and sunlight: Increase vitamin D, which avoids production of hormone ghrelin.
  • Pak choi, napa cabbage and choy: Aid digestion and high in vitamins A and C.
  • Fruit and vegetables: Often reduce risk of obesity, diabetes, heart disease, stroke and some cancers.
  • Wasabi peas: Heat elevates metabolism and the fibre makes you fuller.
  • Vinegar: Slows absorption of carbohydrates and insulin response.

 Whether you want to gain weight or lose it, only use supplements in association with a balanced weight loss programme. Science is continually evolving due to new studies and research, meaning results should be taken with a pinch of salt unless proven a sufficient number of times and by unbiased sources. This is also the reason journals state supplements are ‘likely’ or ‘possibly’ effective. You don’t need most supplements, but some help and are convenient. Many websites allow you to mix raw ingredients, which is beneficial and cost-effective. Things like fat burners are designed to give you an edge when it comes to weight loss, just like mass gainers are designed to give you extra calories. Neither supplement alone is going to ensure you reach your goals, and for the most part, your overall diet should be what dictates whether you lose fat or gain muscle. Don't rely on a supplement to do the job for you.

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Ice Baths/Cold Showers

An effective fat burning tool, these can be used three to four times per week (in addition to your diet and exercise regime). When the body is cold it generates internal heat to stay at 37 degrees Celcius (98.6 Fahrenheit). In order to do this it converts available and stored energy (fat cells – brown adipose tissue) into thermal body heat, causing you to burn more calories than when warm.


These are just some tips I hope will help you on your journey. Nobody said this would be easy. If it were easy, everyone would be doing it. What you should know is that it will be worthwhile when you alone have accomplished this feat. Sometimes the greatest rewards are those you have to fight to achieve. May you be blessed with the strength and passion to succeed.

A diamond cannot be polished without friction,

Nor a person perfected without trials – Chinese Proverb

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What should i do if i hvae already damaged my metabolism and hormones and my body is holding that bit of stubborn fat however iam dieting or doing cardio is it too late and i will never lose that bit of fat

Abaas  Edit  Delete  Close

I already posted that question on forums on diet and nutrion section its called destroy fat

Dave_Diesel  Edit  Delete  Close

You're more than welcome bro, we are always happy to offer support and to motivate you :)

If you can, post the question in the Forums with your measurements, BMR at rest and in motion, and macro calculations, so you can receive a more detailed answer and advice on possible alterations or adjustments. Keep pushing forward to your goals buddy, and never let that fire extinguish!

Abaas  Edit  Delete  Close

Thanks for the support and motivation i will make sure to increase my calries slowly till i reach my proper and normal range of calories....Do u think should thr added cal 200 should come from carb or fat and protein or combination ..iam 200lbs with 16-20BF%� and used to maintain weight at 1500-1800 cal while exercising intensily


Not sure about these macro ratios for "lean gains" and "cutting."  There is no one "right" ratio, and that seems a bit extremem to start anyway.  I would never start someone on very low carbs like 15% for cutting.  50% of protein for "lean gains" is incredibly way too much where most of it is a waste.  In fact, the protein and carb numbers should be reversed. 

crood  Edit  Delete  Close

@dave_diesel - don't worry normally i am the one writing endless walls of texts all over the place - hence i am the last one to whom you would need to apologize for such. Also if the content is right - i never mind a long read ^^ 

crood  Edit  Delete  Close

@scott_herman :P it's a good exchange for lifting weights, when we make you read hehe, also i think @dave_diesel has beat me for once in the length of things i normally make you read XD

Dave_Diesel  Edit  Delete  Close

@scott_herman, Lol the starting chapters of this book and journey we are all on!

This is absolutely true, people vary as does their reaction to differing nutrition and exercise regimes, aside from common variables - if we were all the same it would be a grey world anyway, so it's good to embrace the colour of difference :)

I'm pleased you are able to live out your dream and I feel I can vouch for everyone in that we are all honoured to be given the opportunity to share it! I'm buzzing to see what more is to come :D


Keep them coming @dave_diesel !!

Dave_Diesel  Edit  Delete  Close

I sure will @anabolicaliens, expect plenty of good stuff still to come!


Great stuff @dave_diesel!  You always write such amazing content!  Keep it coming!

Dave_Diesel  Edit  Delete  Close

Thanks for the support @scott_herman, I have many exciting articles to look forward to!


awesome article Dave!! gonna share this with the family

Dave_Diesel  Edit  Delete  Close

Thanks man, I hope they can make good use of it!


Excellent article Dave and well summarized.  The only paragraph I am not a fan of is continuous eating.  As I follow Intermittent Fasting and I have a solid understanding of human biology, our human genome has not evolved to expect or need continuous food ingestion.  Fasting has many health benefits and actually helps one utilize and mobilize fatty acids - even from stubborn Alpha fat cells - to get one lean. Growth Hormone is the only "master key" to all fat cells and it is not present during periods of insulin release and high blood glucose levels which occur when you continuously eat or eat more frequently than within an 8 - 10 hour window.

Dave_Diesel  Edit  Delete  Close

Absolutely, there are other options. IF just helps and provides other health benefits, particularly as you age and metabolism slows down.

jmboiardi  Edit  Delete  Close

Totally agree.  I am not saying IF is the be-all-to-end-all I am just sharing my personal experiences where this was the only method that worked for me - and I tried them all over my 31+ years of training.  IF also takes on more of a health importance for me now that I am older.   Multiple studies strongly suggest fasting provides outstanding health benefits that traditional eating patterns do not.

Dave_Diesel  Edit  Delete  Close

This is correct @abaas, there is more than one way to become shredded and it's often a case of preference or trial and error to find that which is most suited to the individual - This comes down to many factors and time constraints in the case of IF. Those with a higher muscle mass will lose fat at a greater level due to the calories it takes to sustain itself (each pound of muscle burns 6 calories a day), resulting in higher overall body fat loss.


Dave another excellent article on bodybuiding. Your first article was awesome which means I could not wait for you to publish second volume to bodybuilding. The wait is over and worth it I might add.  Lots of informative and permnent information that can be utilize universal for weight lifting. Awesome article Dave!

Dave_Diesel  Edit  Delete  Close

Haha you never know man, I certainly have plans and my own column would be great.

Keep reading and you'll possess knowledge and power bro!

Idris  Edit  Delete  Close

I know the third is going to be just as good as the first and second volume.  Yeah man like a said I read the first volume and blown away! I could not wait for the second volume. Now a third volume Dave? Dave are you  in the making  of writing a book or starting a magazine in the near future? Are you in the making of writing your own column in today's popular mens magaazines? I hope you continue to write great article that will inspire all of us and more people in the world to continue to live a healthy and positive life. After reading those articles you cannot say that you did not learn anything.

Dave_Diesel  Edit  Delete  Close

Thanks for reading it @idris, volume 3 will be with you very soon - It's fantastic to have such an excellent support network and I hope the community continues to grow!


That was just awesome! Very interesting and informative.

Dave_Diesel  Edit  Delete  Close

It's great that it can help you - Keep an eye out for the next article!


I really enjoyed that article. It give info and experience in years in just minutes of reading

Dave_Diesel  Edit  Delete  Close

Whichever works best for you is the best method @abaas!

Intermittent fasting is very effective if it fits hunger / work or school obligations, and assuming you hit all your calorie and macronutrient targets within the feeding window.

To find your macronutrient intake:
Use a calculator for your body fat percentage (tend to be 1 - 2% out so average this), and a BMR calculator to determine caloric goals for both at rest and in motion.

> Weight x Body fat % = Fat weight
> Weight - Fat weight = Lean weight

> BMR In Motion + BMR At Rest ÷ 2 = Average BMR

> Maintain / Lose weight: Consume 1g per pound of lean weight
> Gain muscle: Consume 1.5g per pound of lean weight

> Maintain / Lose weight: Consume 0.35g per pound of lean weight
> Gain muscle: Consume 0.5g per pound of lean weight

Protein intake in grams x 4 calories = Protein intake in calories
Fat intake in grams x 9 calories = Fat intake in calories
Protein + Fat intake in calories = Protein and fat intake in calories (total)

If your goal is to maintain keep the same Average BMR, and if your goal is weight loss subtract 250 - 500 calories from your Average BMR. While if your goal is muscle gain add 250 - 500 calories to Average BMR, and if you plan lean gains use the lower end of the scale.

> Daily calorie goal - Protein and fat intake in calories = Carb intake in calories
> Carb intake in calories ÷ 4 calories = Carb intake in grams

These are a baseline though after a month of progressive training figures will need adjusting. Alternatively use your Total calorie number x Ratio percentage of calories from Protein / Carbs / Fats, and divide this by 4 / 4 / 9 calories respectively to find grams for each.

Possible carb alterations include:
> Fat loss: 50g - 100g
> Maintenance: 100g - 150g
> Weight gain: 150g - 300g
> Excess weight gain: 300g +

Abaas  Edit  Delete  Close

I agree with all info but i think that meal frequency is not that important while on cut i think 3 meals i better wether u follow IF or not becuse its les complicated and more adherable in long term ...better for digestive system and give chance for stabilizing insulin that can be spiked with multible meals through the day....       i only want ur advice about how to calculate a good starting point for daily caloeries for cut ...iam 200 lbs 182 cm with about 15-20 %(just guessing i eat now 1800 cal 40%protein 35�t25�rb


Super informative article @dave_diesel! Lot's of great stuff!

Dave_Diesel  Edit  Delete  Close

Thanks bro, it's great to have fellow Hermanite support :)