Friday, February 14, 2014

Book Review (#17 of 2014) Burn the Fat, Feed the Muscle by Tom Venuto

Burn the Fat, Feed the Muscle: Transform Your Body Forever Using the Secrets of the Leanest People in the World is the bible of fitness. Concise information on nutrition, muscle formation, a mental motivation chapter, and a weight-lifting program anyone can start. In short, this is the only book you really need if you want to get in shape.

Venuto is a world champion bodybuilder. He has learned from the best by their experiences and earned a degree in exercise science. While he calls it a "plan," it's really not, it's information. The advanced chapters at the end discuss plateaus, bodybuilders' manipulation of carbs to lose the last few fat pounds and look really lean, along with the caveats of very-low-carb diets.

Note that the emphasis is on losing fat, not weight. My observation over the last year is that what many people forget, or may not know, is that just losing weight doesn't make you healthier-- you might be losing muscle. Who is healthier, all else equal, a 175 lb man with 10% body fat, or a 140 pound man with 20% body fat? Venuto explains how to build your lean muscle mass and shred your fat.

The only way to insure that you will lose weight is to consumer fewer calories than your body burns. There are plenty of accepted equations (available online) to figure out what that ballpark is for you.  You want your calorie deficit to be in the right amount, and your macronutrient (protein, carbs, fat) to be in the right quantities such that your body is not breaking down your muscle, it's burning your fat.

So, you need to add in a fitness regime that incorporates weight training, both to boost your metabolism but also to counteract the natural process of sarcopenia. Venuto breaks down the importance of these activities as well as explaining nutrition science-- what carbs, proteins, and fat do for your body. He gives you some ratios that he finds work for his own body, and the only way to figure that out for you is to experiment. Measure everything, with apps and free resources online this is easier than ever.

I find that most people just don't want to measure. Despite the ease of this today, they don't want to keep track of what they're eating, lifting, burning. As I say in a similar post, this is the same as why so many families have financial problems-- discipline in measurement is required.The most successful people I know, people who post selfies of their six-pack abs and a list of the Cross-Fit workout they did today, do what Venuto does. They measure relentlessly and do real weight training.

I learned a few details from this book that have helped me in the last week. I was already measuring everything, every calorie in and every calorie out through exercise. I had lost quite a bit of weight, was at an all-time low. I found I was consuming too few calories, however, to build muscle mass so I upped my calories and my weights and put on a few pounds of muscle while maintaining my body fat percentage this week. I also learned the ins and outs of carb cycling, which I think I'll try soon. (Briefly: You cycle through 3 days of low-carb and calorie deficits followed by a day of "re-feeding" with carbs at maintenance level, body builders find this helps them burn the last little bit of fat while maintaining muscle).

Venuto puts his weight routine on his website with pictures. I went out to YouTube and found video demonstrations and am now working them into my daily exercise routine along with P90X3's Mass circuit. I like it, but need to keep making time for cardio.

I enjoyed this book, highly recommend it no matter what your fitness level. 4.5 stars out of 5.

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