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Eat Less, Lose Bodyfat

Eat Less, lose bodyfat. Did you see the article on MSNBC?

Oh. Now they catch on.

For years I've been extolling the benefits of eating fewer calories and exercising LESS (but with more intensity) in order to both build muscle mass and lose bodyfat. It works. I've done it for years. I'm not the first to do it, nor will I be the last, but it seems that this "old school" approach to fatloss nutrition and exercise is dying on the vine.

Granted, my new book "7 Minute Muscle" has boomed off the charts, so there's still an interest in working out less. But what about eating less?


"While the quest for the proverbial Fountain of Youth is endless and typically fruitless, one method known to extend the human lifespan by up to five years has quietly become accepted among leading researchers. The formula is simple: Eat less. It could add years to your life, several experts now say. And done in moderation, it could at least help you live a more healthy life."

No s**t Einstein. Eat less. Live longer. Who'd thunk?

But seriously, why is this the case? And more importantly, why do so many other health and fitness pros give the opposite advice, often asking you to eat 5-8 times a day? Is there some common ground?

Yes there is. But first let's look at why eating less can mean living longer.

Today's article went on to say:

"Calorie restriction, as it is called, is as close to a real Fountain of Youth as any known technique comes. Even scientists who are cautious about anti-aging hype say it works, both by cutting risks for some diseases and by allowing all body cells, somehow, to hang in there longer.

"This is just part of the story. As usual, the mainstream media doesn't always bother to give you the entire picture.  That's where guys like me come into the picture.

Ha...such a rebel.

Eating less is a bit over-simplistic. Caloric restriction is based on "quantitative" reduction, not simply eating like a bird or starving yourself. That will never work. You won't stick to it and your body certainly won't bother to burn off its spare bodyfat when it thinks you're in a stone age famine.

I use the approach of eating far less for several days followed by a "feed day" -- a day when I overeat on purpose. By planning my workouts around these days, I can maximize both muscle gain and fatburning at the same time, all while I enjoy some of my favorite foods on that higher-calorie day.

The net result is superior to merely "eating less" -- you can gain lean tissue, which burns calories around the clock, and you can manage your insulin levels, blood sugar, and many other metabolic processes with greater ease thanks to the lower-calorie days. It's literally having your cake and eating it too.

Now, here's where the mainstream news misses the big picture: Combine strategic under-eating with brief over-eating WITH short-duration weight training and the magic begins. Weight training has been shown to literally reverse many of the markers of aging from a cellular level. It is by far the best form of exercise for post-exercise caloric expenditure -- i.e. burning more calories after the workout. And it's the best way to shape the body. Cardio doesn't hold a candle to weight training, especially when its done correctly.

Learn more at

So, what about all this talk about "animal studies" in these news stories? Well, some of this is true. However there is a plethora of data from both life-extension-experts and real-world folks that justify the benefits of a lower-the-calories approach to living longer. Sure, "further studies are required", but a bit of common sense is as well.

Less calories means less stress on the body's internal organs, digestive processes, hormonal processes and much more. Eating less creates a "clear" state in most people. Folks engaged in fasting usually report feeling exceptionally sharp and even vibrant several days into the fast. And we're not talking about fasting here --  we're just talking about eating less most of the time.

My personal approach is to eat 2-3 meals per day of higher protein, higher fat, and lower carbohydrate, focusing on veggies for the carbs, for 2-3 days in a row. During these days my calories are often 50-65% of my maintenance level needs.. This is followed by a higher calorie day where I increase my intake of grains, starch, and take in a few more meals. When I'm wanting to really lean out, I will go 4-5 days on lower calories and lower carbs, making sure I keep my healthy fats nice and high, then have my high-calorie day.

Try this approach and combine it with my 7 Minute Muscle style of training. (I include my 3 Minute Abs routine in the book, as well as a 9-minute long university tested cardio routine.) The limited volume of training requires less of a caloric demand, allowing you to eat less, lose more bodyfat, and then boost yourself into "anabolic overdrive" on your higher-calorie days.

This combination allows me to gain muscle and burn bodyfat at the same time.

Try it -- and, as I wrote in "7 Minute Muscle" and "Fit Over 40", the benefit may indeed be more than a leaner, more muscular body. You may just live longer to boot.


Jon Benson