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Do You Qualify for Maximum Fat Loss?

Posted by on February 21, 2013 | 3 comments

Or: “How much fat and protein should you eat on The Carb Nite Solution?”

Because of my history with Dangerously Hardcore 1, people often track me down to ask questions about Carb Nite and Carb Back-Loading. I’m happy to answer them, so it’s all good, but some questions trouble me.

One that comes up time and again, probably because of Kiefer’s video talking about a good macronutrient ratio for Carb Nite, is the question of how much protein and fat should a person be eating to lose fat during the ultra-low-carb portion of Carb Nite?

The answer in the video is classic Kiefer: technically correct.

To maximize fat loss, Kiefer says in the video, people can eat as little as .5g of fat per pound of bodyweight, and keep protein at 1g per pound of bodyweight.

That’s all well and good, except that what people actually do with this information is that they think they are failures if they’re not able to achieve the “maximimum” fat loss possible.

Well, news flash: real people have lives, and kids, and jobs, and stress, and differing activity levels, and they sometimes don’t sleep well. All of these factors influence the amount of satiety one experiences from food and how sustaining that food is, not to mention proximal effects on job performance and social life.

Kiefer works with athletes, fitness models, and so on, so it’s good for him to know how to maximize fat loss in an absolute sense. These types of people have make-or-break relationships with their bodies. I’ve worked with a few amateur powerlifters who, despite their everyday job stress (one was an ER nurse for example), still managed to follow rather aggressive protocols to make weight for a meet.

But most people are not powerlifters dieting down for a meet. Most people, especially on Carb Nite, are trying to fit a body transformation into their lifestyle, so they can lose baby fat from pregnancy or heal themselves from chronic obesity.

Most people will lose weight if they simply eliminate carbohydrates and compose their meals out of ANY combination of protein, fat, and vegetables. Most people also tend to underestimate the amount of fat they should use in their meals, so there is value in providing an absolute lower end consumption for fat — the .5g / lb bodyweight Kiefer talks about.

But let’s say you stop losing fat.

If you go (say) two weeks without any fat loss (not weight, but fat), then certainly it’s time to look at reducing the amount of fat you consume. This strategy of course assumes that you know what your current level of fat intake is, and that’s why I have everyone track what they eat regardless of whether they’re trying to hit specific macronutrient targets or not. It’s much easier to know where you’re going when you know exactly where you’ve been.

If you don’t know where you’ve been, then sure: give .5g fat / 1g protein per pound of bodyweight a try.

Actually, I advise a more conservative .75g / 1g ratio, which works perfectly well for many, many people. Keep in mind that hundreds of people have used The Carb Nite Solution successfully eating a ratio of 1:1 of fat and protein. 2

If you do try to go the “optimal” route, be aware that many people don’t feel sated on that little fat, and that this approach effectively constitutes a major calorie reduction for most people. Calorie reductions of any description all come with the same risks:

  • lower energy
  • lower willpower
  • increased thoughts about food
  • decreased brain power
  • decreased motivation for exercise
  • mood dysregulation

Not saying this happens to everyone, that’s why I use the word “risks”. If you don’t have any of these problems, then congratulations, you qualify for Maximum Fat Loss. The rest of us will take a more moderate approach, because if we don’t, we won’t stick with the diet long enough to see much progress whatsoever.

If you as an individual find it impossible to stay sated on a restricted-carbohydrate diet that is also very calorie-restricted, and wind up spending the rest of your day obsessing over food or taking little nibbles of things (which is counterproductive to fat loss) — or worse, winding up at the end of the day with depleted willpower, unable to resist the cookies you set aside for Carb Nite — then who cares what the “optimal” ratio is?

So consider: when you’re on Carb Nite or Carb Back-Loading, you’re already having to think about counting one macronutrient (carbohydrates); take a critical look at how well you are handling that little daily stress before you introduce yet more challenges to your lifestyle.

What you need to look to do is find the diet — any diet, not just Carb Nite — that allows you to lose fat, gain muscle, or whatever, while not screwing with your life too much. The moment your diet starts to overtake your enjoyment and engagement in life, it’s time to find another plan.

You have to know yourself and know your own body. The information on how to maximize fat loss is just that: information. How you make use of it depends on YOU.


  1. and despite the fact that I no longer work with Kiefer
  2. by grams, not calories. Important distinction.

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1912′s “Perfect Woman” was 171lbs

Posted by on January 8, 2013 | 15 comments

The Peer, If Not the Superior, of Venus de Milo has been Discovered at Cornell

The Cornell Venus article 2

In 1912, Elsie Scheel, aka “The Cornell Venus”, was hailed (and harangued) far and wide for possessing what was then considered the perfect proportions and deemed an exemplar of feminine health, beauty, and strength.

Elsie Scheel, according to several articles, “ate only three meals every two days, loved beefsteak and shunned candy and caffeine.”

This “perfect woman” had the following measurements:

171 lbs
chest: 34 in
waist: 30 in
hips: 40 in

In other words, “The Perfect Woman” was a total pear.

But that’s not all she was. According to this and other articles written about her, she played basketball at Cornell and was described as “very strong”. She comments, “I play a guard, where my weight helps.”

"The Cornell Venus" article 1

“She eats but three meals in two days.”

“If she were a man,” reads another article, “she would go into mechanical engineering, because she loves to work about an automobile.” So sad.

But she apparently lived a long, healthy, and hearty life, as reported in a recent New York Times article responding to the unearthing of this 100-year-old piece of cultural history.

“Miss Scheel, it turns out, lived a long life, dying in 1979 in St. Cloud, Fla., three days shy of her 91st birthday.”

The author of this article then tries to push the trendy “overweight is the new healthy” message on us (wrongfully, as I will show):

That article and others also gave her dimensions: 5-foot-7 and 171 pounds, which would have corresponded to a body mass index of 27, putting Miss Scheel in the overweight category.

This is just yet another example of how the BMI is worthless as a measure of health.

This woman was BUFF. She was MADE of MUSCLE. You can tell because, even at a seemingly portly weight of 171 lbs, her waist was a mere 30 inches.

Punch those figures into the US Navy body composition calculator which factors in waist, neck, and hip measurements, and you arrive at (yes) a BMI of about 27 but also a very healthy body fat percentage of 25%.

(I’m 5’7″ myself, so since the article doesn’t provide a neck measurement, I guessed at her neck being just a little thicker than my own, and entered 16 inches.)

Not bad for an adherent of a high-meat intermittent fasting diet.

Ketogenic Diet Starves Cancer, and CBN Gets It Right

Posted by on December 16, 2012 | No comments

Truth can often come from the most unlikely places. A friend of mine pointed me to this Christian News Network report on the use of ketogenic diets to starve cancer cells.

I was astonished to find that in the entire 13 minute segment, they didn’t get a single thing wrong. In fact, the female host has apparently beaten back her own cancer using a ketogenic diet as part of her own treatment, and now follows what she calls a “moderate ketogenic diet” to keep cancer at bay.

Check it out.

Not to say I’m an expert on ketogenesis. On the contrary: I have a lot left to learn.

But the media so frequently misrepresents just the basics of ketogenic diets — for example, qualifying ketogenic diets as being “high protein”, or getting a registered dietician to comment with something ridiculous like “without grains you’re missing essential nutrients” — that at present it’s worth congratulating an honest effort.

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Hack Your Body By Hacking Your Brain #kty2013

Posted by on December 13, 2012 | 4 comments

I’m proud to announce that a new book I was part of writing and editing has just been released:

Hack Your Body By Hacking Your Brain by Dick Talens

Achieve the physique of your dreams by making fitness as important as eating, sleeping, and sex

When it comes to fitness, most people fail. The very act of thinking about fitness as a New Years Resolution that you need to “go hard at” and “give it your all” is a recipe for failure.

In order to succeed at fitness, you have to make it as important to you as sleeping, eating, and sex. The reward for all three of those activities is obvious — can you make fitness that way?

This guide shows you how to treat fitness in the same way, so that it never has to be a New Years resolution again. Once you’ve achieved that, then it doesn’t matter if you’re working 80+ hours/week… you will find time and commitment to staying fit.

I was approached by Dick back in October to help him with this book. He had a concept and lots of material, but still lots of fleshing-out and science referencing left to do.

The story that may not be told was that the author got hit hard by hurricane Sandy, and lost his apartment in the disaster. Along with it went a lot of time for the book, and I wondered whether we would finish in time.

But Dick completely stepped up and pulled out some stunning material in a very short time — all while recovering from Hurricane Sandy and keeping his company, Fitocracy, running smoothly.

Compressed time always comes with a cost, however, and this project’s tithe was to the cover art gods, because this book has probably the worst ebook cover of all time.

Right now, the book is only being sold as part of a bundle of “New Year’s Resolution” themed ebooks at a rate of $88.

If you want to buy the bundle just to get one of the books, you can buy it through my affiliate link and I’ll refund you 50% of the cost of the bundle. OR you can tell me to donate that amount to a Hurricane Sandy relief effort (there is still a crapton of work left to do especially in poorer areas).

Also! There is a recipe of mine in this book, one that you won’t find on my recipe site, The Hardcore Chef. I’m not saying you should buy $88 worth of ebooks to get one recipe, but I am saying that it might be THAT AWESOME and you would never know. :D

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Getting Flat Abs After Pregnancy: Fake It Until You Become It

Posted by on November 21, 2012 | 9 comments

Flat stomach in shorts (stock photo)You really can experience incredible benefits from just minutes of focused activity per day, whether you’re trying to get flat abs after pregnancy or become a calmer or more powerful human being.

I have been very keen on the concept of “training” lately, the reality that everything you do at every moment you are alive IS training. You are, right now, either forming or breaking a habit. There’s really no in-between; “maintenance” is an illusion.

If you are sitting cross-legged right now, you are training your hips to become just slightly off-kilter and for the muscles on your right and left sides to either grow or atrophy at slightly different rates. You are training to be lop-sided.

The same is true for your mental state, and by extension, your hormonal state. Much of your hormonal balance physically shifts when you become angry, scared, stressed out, happy, in love, and so on, and the longer you stay in these states, the more of a “chronic” condition these become. Your body learns how to stay more efficiently in the state you intend for it.

But what is truly amazing is that it doesn’t take much of an effort to shift things in the other way — to train the mind, the hormones, and the muscles to become something new. In essence, you just have to fake it until you make it.

Pregnant Bellies

training hard for the watermelon-holding Olympics

When it comes to the postpartum condition, you know that the muscles of the abdomen become something other than flat during pregnancy, and they sort of stay that way for weeks and months after pregnancy. That’s because pregnancy TRAINS the abdomen to become good at holding that watermelon belly.

So the work of postpartum involves retraining the abs to lie flat, as well as reshaping all of the musculature and even the skeleton back to its original shape.

The consequences of NOT deliberately doing this training are written all over many mothers’ bodies: the “postpartum pooch”, as it’s known, persists from having the muscles never retrained after pregnancy. Likewise, working out with bad form, allowing the transverse abdominus to “pooch out” during a workout will guarantee that you’ll never flatten out the stomach.

Abs training on a ball

When your form is this good, your stomach will definitely stay flat even while resting.

The awesome thing is that it only takes a few minutes of intensity to swing a habit the other way. So, retraining the core involves just 10 minutes a day of high-focus activity (plus a little added self-awareness and perhaps some external help from a belly wrap).

Watch this highly inspirational TED talk, where Harvard social psychologist Amy Cuddy explores the measurable (and scientifically measured!) reactions that short bursts of postural training have on the body.

In the very near future, as I work on my own diet/fitness system for postpartum moms, I’ll have a lot more to say about training! For now, I want to make sure I catalog the great work of others who have had this same insight.

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Happy (carb nite) Birthday to Me

Posted by on September 27, 2012 | 4 comments

Had myself a nifty keen birthday party for the first time in, oh, 3 years! (Key fact: my son is turning 2 in about a week.)

red velvet layer cake (cut)

why yes, I WILL eat a whole bunch of this.

Baked myself this mad, multi-layer red velvet cake with sweet vanilla icing. It was bigger than my dad’s head.

And you better believe I ate a LOT of it. It was my carb nite, after all, and I’d been eating under 30g of carbs for the previous 6 days, not to mention doing a LOT of rock climbing (yay!).

mad tea party 2012

oh and also a whole bunch of these.

I probably ate like 3000 calories just from carbs that day. But when you’re able to make stupidly-high carb meals work FOR you, there’s no reason to use words like “guilty pleasure”.

There’s nothing to make up for the next day. The carbs are part of the plan!

Wanna binge on birthday cake and lose fat anyway?

You can get the electronic version of the Carb Nite Solution here, and you can get a hard copy of the book from

(Breastfeeding? Carb Nite is totally safe, keeps your energy levels high, and may actually increase the fat content of your milk. Read about my experience on Carb Nite while breastfeeding.)

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Re-examining “good posture”: an anthropological perspective

Posted by on September 25, 2012 | No comments

Just a quickie since I need to be devoting almost every functional working hour to writing my upcoming book on postnatal rehab.

Since working on my own back pain problems as well as developing routines to ameliorate the postural defects that occur as a result of pregnancy and breastfeeding, I’ve been absorbing as many perspectives on the concept of “good posture” as possible.

Here’s Esther Gokhale, LAc, who believes that the modern approach of bringing everyone into an S-curved spinal configuration with the pelvis tucked may be completely wrong-headed. She brings anthropological record in the form of sculptures and images and photographs of modern hunter gatherers, and believes that the commonalities we see among these images should demonstrate to us that we may wish to reconsider our recommendations for a healthy musculoskeletar arrangement.

“We’ve mistaken the average in the population for normal and even ideal.”

Esther Gokhale, LAc, is the founder of the Esther Gokhale Wellness Center, a licensed acupuncturist, and the creator of the Gokhale Method, an approach that helps people achieve better health through better structure.

Above is a picture of my son, Calvin, age 22 months… demanding that I jump on the tiny trampoline with him.

Look at his little 12-month-old butt jutting out just as Esther describes in her talk:

» Read the full post

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Tae Bo, A Blast From My Past

Posted by on September 14, 2012 | One comment

Shellie Blanks of Tae Bo fame

When I was 25, I wanted to look like Shellie here, star of Tae Bo videos like this one I found on YouTube (uploaded by some random person who is clearly not the rights-holder… we’ll see how long that lasts).

Check out the workout I used to do, religiously, 3-4 times a week, back when I was about 25 years old and thought an hour of cardio was the way to go.

I thought Shellie got that lean body and those awesome arms from Tae Bo — I really did!

Well now I can confidently tell you: DOING TAE BO WILL NOT MAKE YOU LOOK LIKE THESE PEOPLE.

OK, now I’ve said it. I’m gonna do some Tae Bo for old times’ sake. But THIS time I’m gonna skip all the parts I hate and only do like 20 minutes of it! Hee hee…

Oh, and Shellie, as it turns out, is a 6th degree black belt in Tae Kwon Do and won her first tournament at the age of 14. Tae Bo indeed…

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Ow, My Multifidus: the dangers of overtraining the abs

Posted by on September 6, 2012 | 4 comments

When most women think of “getting back in shape” after pregnancy, chances are they’re thinking about how to make the belly go flat again. And we all know what that’s about: the abs.

Or is it? The abdominal muscles are but one region in a system of musculature that includes the iliopsoas (hip flexors), the pelvic floor, and the lower back, dominated by a network of small but very strong muscle fibers called multifidi.

The multifidi conjoin the abdominal wall via the transverse abdominus, the so-called “corset muscle” that wraps around the torso. Many, many small muscles make up the multifidus group.

The multifidus group is responsible for stabilization, especially during times of need for balance and for support during asymmetrical exercises (think standing cable pulls of all kinds).

(By the way, I’m sprinkling these exercise videos that show you ways to strengthen the multifidi.)

It’s the muscle that gets most deformed when we sit poorly, and takes the most stress when we sit up straight. The multifidi need to be very active while squatting and deadlifting, and thus can constitute a major weak link in the posterior chain if they are not strengthened properly — and they usually aren’t — allowing major damage to the lumbar spine over time.

In short, the multifidi are some seriously abused muscles. And we just don’t appreciate them enough.

Let’s face it: who’s out there wishing they had sexier multifidi? Nobody.
» Read the full post

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Robb Wolf on Carb Back-Loading: “It makes sense.”

Posted by on August 29, 2012 | 4 comments

Robb Wolf, author of The Paleo Solution, digs CBL Robb Wolf, author of The Paleo Solution book and the ever-popular and entertaining podcast of the same name, responded to a question about Carb Back-Loading, the diet I follow and whole-heartedly recommend — not just for the “big dudes” but for any woman into fitness.

Here’s the podcast: Robb Wolf and Greg Everett discussing Carb Backloading.

Wolf thinks Kiefer “really knows his endocrinology quite well” and “he lays out a pretty convincing argument.” So, hey.

Check out the Carb Back-Loading book here. Robb Wolf likes it (with some paleo modifications). You will too.

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