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By Jose Antonio, Ph.D.

It’s THE question that rolls from the tips of everyone’s tongue. What’s the best diet, training and supplementation plan for losing fat faster than a celebrity can confess to his or her latest transgression? OK, maybe it doesn’t work as fast as a contrived tear-filled bullsh@# confession, but there are scientifically valid ways to approach this problem.

What’s the secret? Combining high-intensity interval training (aka HIIT) with a lower-carb/low-glycemic index diet, in conjunction with some simple supplementation. Now bear in mind that you shouldn’t do the exact same program all the time. You’ll need to vary it in terms of exercise choice/intensity/duration, diet (food choices, total kcals, etc.) and supplements. Doing the SAME thing over and over again will work to a point; and then it stops working. You need to frequently kickstart your body into acquiring new adaptations. And unfortunately, the better your fitness level is, the harder it is to lose even more body fat. Let’s face it. The reason the “Biggest Loser” contestants can lose so much fat, is because they HAVE so much fat.


In the never ending battle of “which diet is best,” you have the low-carb, higher fat, protein variety (e.g., Atkins), the more moderate type (e.g., 40/30/30, Mediterranean), and of course the favorite of many clinicians, the low-fat diet. It wasn’t that long ago when folks who espoused eating less carbs were vilified as “purveyors of early death!” I mean, God forbid you tell a diabetic to eat less bread and perhaps more meat. But the beauty of science is in its ability to eventually self-correct. And suffice it to say that the preponderance of evidence points to a lower carb diet as being the best choice for most individuals when it comes to promoting weight and fat loss.

In perhaps the single best randomized clinical trial, 322 overweight subjects consumed either a low-carb (without caloric restriction), low-fat (with calorie restriction) or the Mediterranean diet over a two-year period. They had pretty darn good adherence to the study diets (85-95% adherence) over the two-year period. And to say the data are fascinating would be like saying the girls in a Victoria’s Secret catalog are merely pretty. The Mediterranean-diet group consumed the largest amounts of dietary fiber and had the highest ratio of monounsaturated to saturated fat. Moreover, the low-carbohydrate group consumed the smallest amount of carbohydrates and the largest amounts of fat, protein and cholesterol and had the highest percentage of participants with detectable urinary ketones. But who lost the most weight? The winner was the low-carb group (-12.10 pounds), followed by the Mediterranean group (-10.12 pounds) and last and certainly least, the low-fat group (-7.26 pounds). To top it off, the low-carb group was told to NOT restrict calories while the other two were. Perhaps the most fascinating result was the fact that cardiovascular risk factors were best in the low-carb group, despite the fact that they consumed the most saturated fat and cholesterol. Wait a minute— doesn’t the American Heart Association (AHA) pound the drumbeat of lowering your saturated fat and cholesterol intake? Makes you wonder if the AHA cares about science or are so forever married to their silly dogma.1 Another study found that a lower-carbohydrate diet was superior to a traditional diet for improving heart disease risk factors.2

Now the problem with losing weight is often the lower metabolic rate following weight loss. This might contribute to weight re-gain. Thus, scientists looked at three diets and how they affected metabolic rate following weight loss. After achieving 10 to 15 percent weight loss, participants then consumed an isocaloric (i.e., same number of calories) low-fat diet (60% of energy from carbohydrate, 20% from fat, 20% from protein; high-glycemic load), low-glycemic index diet (40% from carbohydrate, 40% from fat, and 20% from protein; moderate-glycemic load), and very low-carbohydrate diet (10% from carbohydrate, 60% from fat, and 30% from protein; low-glycemic load) in random order, each for four weeks. So this is pretty cool. Every subject did each diet. What happened? They found that resting metabolic rate was highest in the very low-carb group, followed by the low-glycemic index diet, with the low-fat diet coming in dead last. You see a pattern in these studies?3 So here’s the lowdown if your goal is to lose fat:

First, cut out all processed carbohydrates. This includes breads, cereals (yeah, that includes whole grains), pasta, and white rice. Make up for these calories by consuming more fruits and vegetables as well as meats (e.g., fish, beef, chicken, etc.) with a touch of added fat (especially fish oil).

I’d suggest that you stay with the lower-carb diet for at least four to six weeks.

After you’ve lost a significant amount of fat, go on a “diet holiday” of sorts and consume more a 40:30:30 or Mediterranean style diet (this was the second most effective). This will allow you to train harder (see next section) and further improve your fitness goals. Then resume your periodized diet plan and go back on the lower carb/lower glycemic, higher protein/fat diet.


REALLY fun to creating a July 4th fireworks but flowerworks instead. Get a paper towel holder and some small flowers and, especially, some flower petals that are either fresh or dried. The dried ones will have better velocity. Last weekend I used this creative idea I had to blow flowers from a bridge onto a large stream below. It was an act of being grateful for the special experience in nature. Blowing the flower petals in the air where they drifted down on to the stream was so beautiful to watch. They floated down stream bringing inspiration and vibrant color amidst the rocks and foliage. So memorable and children of all ages like creating fun scenes, as well as the inner child of all of us.Akin to the battle of the diets, is it better to do steady-state cardio (SSC) or high-intensity interval training (HIIT) if your goal is to burn fat? Suffice it to say that you should probably do both because doing HIIT all the time is pretty darn hard and might lead to overtraining. But in a pinch, there is no better way to make the best use of your time than by doing HIIT. In a study that’s hot off the press, scientists found that sprint interval training is a time-efficient alternative to endurance training for increasing skeletal muscle oxidative capacity and improving cardiovascular function.4 One single bout of HIIT can increase insulin sensitivity and fat oxidation in overweight men.5 Another study proved just how potent HIIT can be. In a 12-week study, total body, abdominal, trunk, visceral fat mass and fat-free mass of young overweight males was assessed after performing high-intensity training. Participants were randomly assigned to either exercise or control group. The intervention group trained three times per week for 20 minutes per session. Aerobic power improved significantly by 15 percent for the exercising group. Exercisers compared to controls lost 4.4 pounds of fat! Abdominal, trunk and visceral fat was also significantly reduced. And on the flip side, they gained lean mass.6 Just one hour of hard training per week proved super effective at changing body composition.

Recently, scientists looked at a variation of HIIT called HIRT or high-intensity resistance training. They tested the acute effects of HIRT versus traditional resistance training (TT) on resting energy expenditure (REE) and respiratory ratio (RR) at 22 hours post-exercise. RR is a measure of whether you are burning fat versus carbohydrate as a fuel source. In two separate sessions, 17 trained men carried out HIRT and TT protocols. The HIRT technique consisted of three series of 6-RM (doing the maximum amount of weight for six repetitions) followed by a 20-second rest, then the subject lifts the same weight until reaching the point of failure (usually two repetitions) followed by 20 seconds rest, then another two to three repetitions. This sequence counted as one set, then subjects rested two and half minutes before performing a second and third set. The training session lasted approximately 32 minutes (including the warm-up period). TT consisted of eight exercises of four sets of eight-12 repetitions with one to two minutes rest with a total amount of 32 sets. HIRT showed a greater increase in REE 22 hours after training. In fact, HIRT burned 363 more calories. Also, the HIRT group had a lower RR, confirming that they burned more fat too.7 So the evidence is clear that doing it hard and short is better than the longer steady-state approach.

To really elevate fat burning, evidence shows that doing it in the fasted state may be best. For instance, being in the fasted state is better than the fed state for increasing muscular oxidative capacity.8 Also, fasted training is more potent than fed training to cause beneficial adaptations in muscle and to improve whole-body glucose tolerance and insulin sensitivity.9 Furthermore, fat oxidation is higher when training with low-muscle glycogen.10 And last but not least, HIIT can elevate free testosterone better than steady-state endurance exercise.11


To round off the triumvirate, the judicious use of sports supplements will further assist you in getting ripped.

1 Whey Protein

We know that proteins are the most thermogenic of all the macronutrients. But did you know that whey is perhaps the most thermogenic? Yep, whey beats casein, which beats soy. Also, cumulative fat oxidation is greater after a whey meal than after the soy meal.12

2 Bitter Orange Extract

Some studies suggest that calcium in the diet may increase the loss of body fat. In a recent meta-analysis, “acute high calcium intake increased fat oxidation.”13 One of the more common ingredients used, especially in combination with caffeine, is bitter orange. In an elegant review published in the International Journal of Medical Sciences, scientists examined the entire body of science to see indeed if bitter orange is both safe and effective. They found that in general, bitter orange extract alone (p-synephrine) or in combination with other ingredients such as caffeine did not produce significant adverse events as an increase in heart rate or blood pressure, or alter electrocardiographic data, serum chemistry, blood cell counts or urinalysis. In fact, modest weight loss was observed with bitter orange extract/p-synephrine-containing products when given for six to 12 weeks.15


3 Fish Oil

Most think of fish oil’s cardio-protective effects or even its potent role as an anti-inflammatory. But did you know there is surprising evidence that it can improve your body composition? In a study published in the Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition, scientists studied 44 men and women to determine the effects of supplemental fish oil (FO) on resting metabolic rate (RMR), body composition, and cortisol production. Subjects consumed either: 4 g/d of safflower oil (SO); or 4 g/d of FO, supplying 1,600 mg/d eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and 800 mg/d docosahexaenoic acid (DHA). All tests were repeated following six weeks of treatment. The FO group lost body fat and gained fat-free mass. So a double whammy. You gain muscle and lose fat. The investigators believed that the drop in salivary cortisol found in the FO group may have played a role in the loss of body fat.16


The complete strategy for getting ripped is like a tricycle. You need the front wheel and two rear wheels to keep it going. Similarly, a plan that includes a proper diet, training, and supplementation is ideal for maximizing fat loss.

  • Your diet should consist of plenty of unprocessed carbohydrate foods as the base (i.e., eat vegetables till you’re blue in the face and enough fruit to satisfy a primate).
  • Limit or eliminate processed carbohydrates (e.g., pasta, breads, cereals, etc.).
  • Eat plenty of protein and fish fat.
  • Train like you mean it. Doing steady-state is good, but doing HIIT is better. At least twice per week, do some hardcore HIIT.
  • Supplement with caffeine, bitter orange extract (p-synephrine) and fish oil.


Jose Antonio, Ph.D. is the CEO of the International Society of Sports Nutrition and a professor at Nova Southeastern University’s Exercise and Sports Science Department in Davie, Florida.

Photos by: Per Bernal

  1. Shai I, Schwarzfuchs D, Henkin Y, Shahar DR, Witkow S, Greenberg I, et al. Weight loss with a low-carbohydrate, Mediterranean, or low-fat diet. N Engl J Med 2008;359(3):229-41.
  2. Stern L, Iqbal N, Seshadri P, Chicano KL, Daily DA, McGrory J, et al. The effects of low-carbohydrate versus conventional weight loss diets in severely obese adults: one-year follow-up of a randomized trial. Ann Intern Med 2004;140(10):778-85.
  3. Ebbeling CB, Swain JF, Feldman HA, Wong WW, Hachey DL, Garcia-Lago E, et al. Effects of dietary composition on energy expenditure during weight-loss maintenance. JAMA 2012;307(24):2627-34.
  4. Cocks M, Shaw CS, Shepherd SO, Fisher JP, Ranasinghe AM, Barker TA, et al. Sprint interval and endurance training are equally effective in increasing muscle microvascular density and eNOS content in sedentary males. J Physiol 2013;591(Pt 3):641-56.
  5. Whyte LJ, Ferguson C, Wilson J, Scott RA, Gill JM. Effects of single bout of very high-intensity exercise on metabolic health biomarkers in overweight/obese sedentary men. Metabolism 2013;62(2):212-9.
  6. Heydari M, Freund J, Boutcher SH. The effect of high-intensity intermittent exercise on body composition of overweight young males. J Obes 2012;2012:480467.
  7. Paoli A, Moro T, Marcolin G, Neri M, Bianco A, Palma A, et al. High-Intensity Interval Resistance Training (HIRT) influences resting energy expenditure and respiratory ratio in non-dieting individuals. J Transl Med 2012;10:237.
  8. Van Proeyen K, Szlufcik K, Nielens H, Ramaekers M, Hespel P. Beneficial metabolic adaptations due to endurance exercise training in the fasted state. J Appl Physiol 2011;110(1):236-45.
  9. Van Proeyen K, Szlufcik K, Nielens H, Pelgrim K, Deldicque L, Hesselink M, et al. Training in the fasted state improves glucose tolerance during fat-rich diet. J Physiol 2010;588(Pt 21):4289-302.
  10. Hulston CJ, Venables MC, Mann CH, Martin C, Philp A, Baar K, et al. Training with low muscle glycogen enhances fat metabolism in well-trained cyclists. Med Sci Sports Exerc 2010;42(11):2046-55.
  11. Hackney AC, Hosick KP, Myer A, Rubin DA, Battaglini CL. Testosterone responses to intensive interval versus steady-state endurance exercise. J Endocrinol Invest 2012;35(11):947-50.
  12. Acheson KJ, Blondel-Lubrano A, Oguey-Araymon S, Beaumont M, Emady-Azar S, Ammon-Zufferey C, et al. Protein choices targeting thermogenesis and metabolism. Am J Clin Nutr 2011;93(3):525-34.
  13. Gonzalez JT, Rumbold PL, Stevenson EJ. Effect of calcium intake on fat oxidation in adults: a meta-analysis of randomized, controlled trials. Obes Rev 2012;13(10):848-57.
  14. Stohs SJ, Preuss HG, Shara M. A Review of the Human Clinical Studies Involving Citrus aurantium (Bitter Orange) Extract and its Primary Protoalkaloid p-Synephrine. Int J Med Sci 2012;9(7):527-38.
  15. Noreen EE, Sass MJ, Crowe ML, Pabon VA, Brandauer J, Averill LK. Effects of supplemental fish oil on resting metabolic rate, body composition, and salivary cortisol in healthy adults. J Int Soc Sports Nutr 2010;7:31.


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Ripped Leg Blast for Carved Thighs



Powerful and thick thighs require gut-busting exercises like squats and leg presses. However, once you have acquired adequate thigh mass and strength, you should consider adding some balance and sharpness to the muscle bellies in your thighs. Although tough to accomplish, leg extensions provide a great way to carve the separations between the muscle bellies, and to accentuate the “teardrop” shape of the four quadriceps muscles of the anterior thigh.

Active Muscles in Leg Extensions

The three vasti muscles comprise most of the anterior thigh.1 The vastus medialis covers the medial (inner) part of the femur bone (thigh bone). When it is well developed, it forms a teardrop-like shape over the medial side of the knee joint. The vastus lateralis muscle attaches to the lateral (outer) part of the femur bone. The vastus intermedius connects to the femur bone between the vastus lateralis and the vastus medialis muscles. The fibers of all three vasti muscles come together at the quadriceps tendon, which crosses the patella (kneecap) to attach to the tibia bone just below the knee.1

Together, the three vasti muscles extend the leg at the knee joint, although the vastus intermedius may be more fatigue resistant than the vastus lateralis.2 The vastus medialis oblique (VMO), which is a small part of the vastus medialis muscle, attaches to the medial part of the patella. It is thought to help the patella track properly during movement of the knee. Improper tracking can increase the likelihood for knee injury.

The vastus medialis and especially the VMO part of this muscle are primarily responsible for tibial rotation (rotation of the tibia bone of the lower leg on the femur) during knee extension. This rotation or “twist” has been shown to increase the activation of the VMO portion of the vastus lateralis even more than doing knee extensions with the hip adducted (thigh rotated so that the medial portion of the knee is facing mostly upwards).3 Dorsiflexion of the foot (moving the ankles so the toes are pointing towards your head) also increases the activation of the VMO by more than 20 percent.4 Likely this is because the dorsiflexor muscles stabilize the tibia during knee flexion and resist rotation of the tibia on the femur as the knee straightens.

The fourth muscle of the quadriceps group is the rectus femoris muscle. It attaches to the anterior part of the hip bone just above the hip joint.1 The largest bulk of the muscle fibers are located on the upper three-quarters of the thigh, whereas the largest belly of the vastus medialis and vastus lateralis are more inferior (i.e., closer to the knee). The distal end of the rectus femoris muscle becomes tendinous and it creates a deep valley between the lateral and medial vastus muscles as it approaches the knee.1 It assists the other quadriceps muscles by extending the leg at the knee joint, although it is less effective when the hip is flexed than if it is straight.

Leg Extensions

The three vastus muscles of the anterior thigh are strongly activated by single-leg knee extensions. The rectus femoris is not activated as strongly, but it does undergo some overload when the anterior thigh is under contractile effort, about halfway up to the top of each repetition.

1. You should always warm up your knees with some stationary cycling prior to getting into leg extensions. Furthermore, the resistance on your first set should be fairly light to allow the joint to fully warm up before you get to the heavier stuff.

2. Adjust the knee extension machine so that the pivot point of the lifting arm is directly adjacent to the center of the side of your knee joint.

3. Position the ankle roller/leg pad over the lower part of the leg (above the ankle joint).

4. Take about three seconds to slowly extend (straighten) both leg so that the weight is lifted upward from the stack.

5. Continue upwards until the tibia and the femur bones form a straight line and the knee angle is straight. Hold this for two seconds at the top.

6. Slowly lower the weight (about four seconds down) towards the starting position. Once the knee has reached 90 degrees, start the upwards extension phase again. Continue for 12-15 repetitions for the first set. Lower the number of repetitions but increase the resistance for subsequent sets.

7. On the next sets, lift the weight upwards until the knee joint becomes almost straight, but just slightly short of a total knee lockout. Be careful that you do not “jam” the knee joint into a fully locked out position, because this could cause knee cartilage damage5, especially with heavy weights. Hold the top position for a count of three before lowering the weight.

8. Lower the weight slowly (four to five seconds) towards the starting position where your knee is flexed to 90 degrees. Just before the weight stack contacts the remaining plates at the bottom, start lifting it upward for the next repetition.

The downward movement should be slower than the upward phase because you are resisting the pull of gravity. The slow lowering of the weight stretches the muscle under a resistance and this is a great stimulus to improve muscle shape and size.6

Make sure that you do not hold your breath during the lift upwards.7 Rather take a breath at the bottom (start) of the lift, and exhale as you extend the knees/legs. Take another breath at the top and slowly exhale as the weight is lowered. Take another breath at the bottom and repeat the sequence.

This is a mechanically simply exercise, but it really can be very challenging and blood depriving8,9, especially if you try to control the weight as it is moving up and down. However, if you are willing to work through some discomfort, you will be soon enjoying your new shape and slabs of carved thighs.

GettyImages 674163248 600


1. Moore K.L. Clinically Orientated Anatomy. Third Edition. Williams & Willkins, Baltimore, 1995; pp 373-500.

2. Watanabe K, Akima H. Neuromuscular activation of vastus intermedius muscle during fatiguing exercise. J Electromyogr Kinesiol 2010;20:661-666.

3. Stoutenberg M, Pluchino AP, Ma F et al. The impact of foot position on electromyographical activity of the superficial quadriceps muscles during leg extension. J Strength Cond Res 2005;19:931-938.

4. Coburn JW, Housh TJ, Cramer JT et al. Mechanomyographic and electromyographic responses of the vastus medialis muscle during isometric and concentric muscle actions. J Strength Cond Res 2005; 19:412-420.

5. Senter C, Hame SL. Biomechanical analysis of tibial torque and knee flexion angle: implications for understanding knee injury. Sports Med 2006;36:635-641.

6. Alway SE, Winchester PK, Davis ME et al. Regionalized adaptations and muscle fiber proliferation in stretch- induced enlargement. J Appl Physiol 1989;66:771-781.

7. Garber CE, Blissmer B, Deschenes MR et al. American College of Sports Medicine position stand. Quantity and quality of exercise for developing and maintaining cardiorespiratory, musculoskeletal, and neuromotor fitness in apparently healthy adults: guidance for prescribing exercise. Med Sci Sports Exerc 2011;43:1334-1359.

8. Denis R, Bringard A, Perrey S. Vastus lateralis oxygenation dynamics during maximal fatiguing concentric and eccentric isokinetic muscle actions. J Electromyogr Kinesiol 2011;21:276-282.

9. Ueda C, Kagaya A. Muscle reoxygenation difference between superficial and deep regions of the muscles during static knee extension. Adv Exp Med Biol 2010;662:329-334.

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PRIMAL Preworkout



Training hard and intensely is the only way to train – you can’t step into the gym in low gear or
asleep at the switch and expect results. To get the most out of every training session with no
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your limits and that’s what Animal’s PRIMAL Preworkout delivers.

A Better Pump

PRIMAL is Animal’s most comprehensive pre-workout supplement ever, and is scientifically
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helps increase exercise capacity and endurance and helps optimize vascular endothelial function,
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Other key benefits of PRIMAL come from four scientifically formulated blends that work in tandem
to deliver the ultimate pre-workout:

• Endurance & Performance Complex so you can train longer and harder. Beta-alanine,
betaine and taurine are combined as a powerful endurance trio†. Beta-alanine is a vital ingredient
used to combat the urge to quit.

• Focus & Intensity Complex helps you keep your head in the iron game so you train hard and
maintain focus. Includes the amino acid tyrosine, which is involved in neurotransmitter production;
Huperzine A for brain health; and choline bitartrate, which supports energy metabolism and helps
the brain send messages for improved mental endurance and focus†.

This blend is completed with the patented Teacrine ® . Among its many benefits includes increases
in energy without the jittery feeling, increases in motivation to accomplish tasks, mental energy
and decreases in feeling of fatigue†.

• Quick and Sustained Energy Complex is the energy core of PRIMAL Preworkout . It is
powered by a combination of tried-and-true caffeine, along with an herbal complex of green tea,
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Preworkout tops it off with a combination of AstraGin ® to support nutrient uptake and Senactiv,
which helps the production of citrate synthase, an important enzyme that is responsible for
producing more ATP†.

How to Use PRIMAL
30 minutes prior to training, consume 2 rounded scoops (20.3g) with 8-12 oz of water or your
favorite beverage. Users that are sensitive to stimulants should start off with 1 rounded scoop
(10.1g) to assess tolerance.

PRIMAL Preworkout

• Enhances energy and endurance†
• Supports muscle hydration†
• Supports intense focus†
• Contains AstraGin ® to support nutrient uptake†
• Contains Senactiv ® which helps the production of citrate synthase, an important enzyme that is
responsible for producing more ATP†
• Absorption and nutrient enhancers
• Great tasting, easy to mix

PRIMAL is a pre-workout that will power your performance and enable you to crush it every time you train.

For additional information, visit
†These statements have not been evaluated by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. This product is not
intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.

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