Even though I no longer live in Los Angeles, I still help some entertainment friends with health and wellness issues.
An actor friend of mine called earlier this week and was excited to get back to work – his new TV show is back in production. When he faced life on camera in 10 days, he wanted to know the best way to lose five pounds and get leaner fast!
This question affects us all – while you might not be in the process of filming a TV show, you might be preparing for a vacation, wedding, or family photo shoot!
Caveat: If you’ve read this “Ask Andy” column in the past few months, you’ve heard me say this basic principle, but it needs to be repeated here: There are no “magic pills” and I don’t believe in you temporary diets to get leaner. Instead, we need to create good habits that can become our lifestyle over time, NOT a quick fix that is so unrealistic that we inevitably give up and go back to our old ways or worse.
That being said, there are some basic truths that will kick start your metabolism and get your body into a state of burning fat (where it wants to be in the first place). Here are the main ideas of the direction I gave it.
Regarding ingestion (everything you eat / drink), I recommended two important rules for him:
No ABC allowed
No alcohol, no bread, no cheese and no sugar. I’m sure you might want to discuss the merits of any / all of these popular items, but I’ve learned the simple truth that our bodies look / feel / perform better without these four. Sounds cruel and unusual, doesn’t it? Remember, my friend was in a hurry and really motivated to get leaner fast. Maybe it’s a bit extreme to imagine that you are avoiding all four forever … BUT if you remember the 80/20 rule we discussed earlier, you can apply that rule here. Just remove these as options 80% of your week, and then you’ll be able to enjoy them as goodies 20% of the time.
Chicken, broccoli, and brown rice repeat
Brent Hofacker / Shutterstock
Unless you have any dietary restrictions / allergies / vegans etc, this is the template for what your meals should be – you can replace the chicken with lean protein, the broccoli with lots of green vegetables, and the brown with sweet potato or quinoa rice.
When it comes to serving size; Think 25% protein, 25% carbohydrates, 50% vegetables (you literally can’t eat too many vegetables). Again, for the short-term nature of this column, be relentlessly self-disciplined in your ingestion for the duration of your challenge. But here too, the 80/20 rule applies to long-term sustainability.
Establish these good habits to the point where your meals are planned in advance and predictable – you are eating 80% of your meals for fuel and looking forward to the 20% of meals and all of their delicacies.
Fit with two workouts a day
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The first thing in the morning my friend agreed to do sober cardio. Some caffeine in the form of coffee, tea or other natural / unsweetened drinks is also fine beforehand. This cardio session should last anywhere from 30 minutes to an hour and it can be anything that increases his heart rate and makes him sweat. A brisk walk, jogging, biking, elliptical, swimming, whatever. It doesn’t have to be a sprint or something too stressful, you’re just trying to start the metabolic fire.
Then, at a convenient time later in the day, he will do a short and intense 30 minute strength training circuit, including warm up / exercise preparation. This can be a bodyweight circuit session, a HIIT interval session, a targeted muscle group session – anything that involves stressing a few large muscle groups in the upper and lower body, core work, and little to no rest between laps. As discussed in previous articles, our aim is not to get the best workout in the world, but rather to aim for consistently good full-body workout that induces the EPOC “state” where your body continues to calories at a faster rate for longer in the rest of the day.
You are probably thinking: this is it? No fat burners or drinking distilled water to purposely dehydrate his body or smear Preparation H over his abs to thin his skin to look more tattered on camera? NO! Not only are these crazy ideas unsafe, they’re also a waste of time and money.
The basic truths of intelligent and consistent training in combination with a clean intake are ALWAYS EFFECTIVE. Yes it is easy. No it is not easy. But believe me, it’s worth it… I myself still adhere to these fundamental truths because these are lessons that have proven themselves time and again with my clients and in my own training over the past 30 years of daily work. This weekend in particular, I had to prepare for a fitness photo shoot, so I chose a little extra to be camera-ready myself.
If you want to look, feel, and perform as well as you can – read this answer again and make a commitment to yourself.