16 of 16 people found the following review helpful
on May 25, 2009
"Conquer the Fat-Loss Code" is nothing short of a complete strategy to lose fat, raise metabolism, shed unwanted pounds, and remain fit for life. Wendy Chant has presented a book that not only explains the science behind the body's reactions to food and exercise, but also details how to take advantage of these natural tendencies.
Chant's book is a quick read because she explains the fat-loss code in simple, readily understandable terms. She also outlines all the principles involved in optimizing fat-loss (like the meal plan cycles) in straightforward bulleted paragraphs and in-a-nutshell "Conquer the Code" boxes for quick comprehension and reference. Testimonials to the success of the Fat-Loss Code (inserted in the book as "What the Code Crackers Are Saying") are short stories that add to the credibility of the method.
Chant's book is also a long-term guide because it has a complete 8-week planner that lists daily food suggestions, weight training and cardio schedules, and a feedback log complete with the day's affirmation. The book not only explains the fat-loss code, it also provides the tools you need to apply the code to your particular situation. Chant even fine-tunes the program to differentiate plans for men and women, and those aiming to lose less (or more) than 30 pounds.
Of course, a plan is only as good as its Plan B. So, Chant also includes tips and tactics for special days like weekends, travel, and holidays, plus a special section on what to do if you fall off the wagon. And it goes without saying that the chapter on "Quick Tips for Ultimate Success" merits a permanent bookmark.
The last section of the book could be the most precious gift from Wendy Chant: it features her own recipes for breakfast, shakes, soups, salads, vegetables, entrées, and desserts. And to round out her comprehensive book, she adds an appendix of the Beginner's Home Workout and several pages of references and scientific basis for her fat-loss code.
Anyone who has tried any kind of diet or regimen for losing fat (and maybe did not achieve the desired results) deserves to try Wendy Chant's method. The science is sound, the code is simple, and this book is the key. - Ruby Bayan, OurSimpleJoys
44 of 59 people found the following review helpful
This book is written for the ordinary American. This person hasn't spent hundreds of hours poring over the (often dry) literature about health and fitness, but has been bombarded by the disease culture marketing messages all around us. For such people, it's impossible to sort out what to do for a reasonably lean physique without help from the right source. This book is such a source.
People at a high level of physical conditioning [...]and health (I haven't been sick since 1971, despite having an immune system deficiency) could easily find fault with this book, if we lose sight of what this book is trying to accomplish and for whom it is written. Remember, most people haven't met with success in keeping their waistline the same--much less in body sculpting.
A person freed from our nation's disease culture would be horrified to find soda pop (osteoporosis in a can) or wheat flour products (typically made with hydrogenated oil, which is highly carcinogenic) seriously discussed in the context of dietary recommendations. Read again the title of this book. That's what it delivers on, not obtaining total health. It focuses on a goal that is achievable for the average person--optimal health can come later. Trying to do it all at once just isn't smart.
Reaching people where they are
People well into double digit fat territory aren't there because they are conscientious about their food choices (quite the opposite) and are simply getting too many calories from the extra large portions of kale they heap on at every meal. No, it's something else.
Those people are there because of many poor choices integrated into their lifestyle. Asking such people to completely revise the way they eat and exercise is a recipe for failure.
But there is a middle ground, and that's where this book comes in. It provides a way to stake out that middle ground, a way that anyone can do to obtain a life free from obesity. As obesity is a significant risk factor for disease and the primary cause of most illness in America today, this is no minor point.
For example, every 10 pounds of excess body fat raises the risk of prostate cancer by an order of magnitude in a male of average height. If you can get him to drop to 6 or 7 % body fat through a plan he can handle, you drastically reduce his cancer risks.
But the book recommends foods that contain hydrogenated oil--isn't this wrong? That depends on a lot of factors. In this context, it isn't wrong. Tell him he has to stop eating bread in addition to everything else, and is he going to stick with the program? Probably not. So, start from where he is and tackle his biggest problem. Refine other things later. Once he's conquered the fat-loss code, he can slowly work into eating safe foods in place of refined wheat flour and hydrogenated oils.
Sure, hydrogenated oil is also causing him additional cancer risk. But think of his far higher risk level if he's doing that plus carrying 40 extra pounds of body fat. Once he's at a safe body fat level, he could refine things further into the optimum health range. But just getting to the safe body fat level is not going to happen if he has to make many changes unrelated to the goal of getting there.
With Wendy's plan, people can still eat the foods they like (acquired a taste for) rather than switch over to foods they don't like. If you don't enjoy the foods you eat, then you're not going to stick with an eating plan that requires those foods.
Bill Phillips embraces the philosophy of reaching people where they are rather than imposing something impossible on them. Because of the stunning results, we know his recommendations work (it also helps when we are up on dietary and exercise theory and can see why those recommendations work). Can the same be said of Wendy Chant?
In a word, yes. But let's put a few more words into answering that question.
First, it may help to name some other experts who are successful with this philosophy:
*John Scott. CEO of JS Nitro, John Scott is helping thousands of people achieve their fitness goals. If you're looking for a quick answer to a vague question, you won't get one from John. He wants you to look closely at what you're doing and apply principles to see what is the likely best solution to your problem (whatever that problem is). John's knowledge is encyclopedic, and he's always digging into the latest research.
*Dianne Villano. Diane is a myth-busting personal trainer who saw patterns early on in her career. She found that people tend to latch on to ideas that aren't true and then get frustrated with their poor progress. Diane exposes the myths (she's got articles on several) and explains the reality. She believes that if you apply the reality in the context that applies for you, then you'll make progress toward your goal. Her clients agree that this works.
*Sandy Miller. Amazing is an understatement. Sandy prefers to stay off the national stage, so you have to find her and work with her in person. In addition to being a stunning beauty, she has a sharp mind and is an outstanding trainer. But beware. She doesn't wave any magic wands. A four letter word is at the core of her training philosophy. That word is "work."
As you can see, Wendy isn't some oddball with yet another fad diet. The specifics of her diet program aren't the real secret to success, either. If you adopt her program exactly as it is, you will lose body fat. A knowledgeable person can modify that program along the lines of its underlying concepts and still achieve success or even move to the next level. Or not. Just having a healthy body fat composition is a huge leap forward for many people. With Wendy's program, it's a leap anyone can make.
Wendy has taken several concepts from the fitness and bodybuilding literature (and practice). For example, she recommends the HITT (High Intensity Interval Training) method. This is a favorite of Gary Matthews (a trainer in the U.K.). Take a look at Sylvester Stallone and Demi Moore if you want to see the results of this method. Shawn Phillips relies heavily on this method, so look him up online and see his photos--with abs like that, do you think he's doing something that works?
Not perfect, but they work
As mentioned earlier, this book's dietary recommendations aren't perfect. I think for the audience she's trying to reach, they are correct. The same is true of her exercise recommendations. There is some disagreement in the fitness expert community as to what type of workout program is best. I think that controversy exists because people respond in different ways, not just physically but also emotionally. If you're trying to help the largest number of people get to a good place to be, then getting 80% results with a 5% dropout rate is much better than getting 95% results with a 95% dropout rate.
For maximum results, you do 5 or 6 intense workouts per week with each workout devoted to a specific group of muscles. These workouts are short and brutal, and it takes several days for each targeted group of muscles to recover. Very few people can tolerate these workouts, so very few people do them. Sandy Miller (mentioned earlier) will push clients only as far as she believes they are willing to work. She holds the door to higher achievement open, but doesn't shove the unwilling through it. Some clients never get a high intensity workout, others get nothing but.
A very obese person is a poor candidate for high intensity workouts. So is a person who is profoundly under muscled. A circuit training approach is the typical introductory routine for such folks, and it's what nearly every fitness center wants its "new to fitness" members to do. Such an approach gets a person to a baseline level and for many people that's enough. They don't want to do the harder training required for further gain, and where they are isn't bad.
Wendy has considered all of this, and her exercise recommendations fall into the "doable" range for everyone. Once you've conquered your fat and want to move to the next level, you can modify the exact program without learning any new concepts. Or you can stay with it exactly as is and still be way ahead of average. Also, the exercises she recommends are the classic ones that bodybuilders have proven to be effective. She's chosen ones that use simple (and inexpensive) equipment, so you don't have to join a gym to do them.
Points of disagreement
One point I don't like is Wendy's recommendation to eat 5 times a day. My article, "Single Digit Body Fat on 6 Meals A Day" obviously recommends something different. Perhaps 5 is yet another way to reach people where they are, but I don't think a 6 meal schedule is any harder to do than 5. With only 5, you give up a window of nutrient optimization / insulin management / metabolism igniting.
Possibly, the problem is people are used to overeating three times a day and if you ask them to eat half as much twice as often, they instead just eat twice as much. As I'm not a trainer working with "regular people," I don't know the logic behind this and it may be right on target for that group. As with other concepts already discussed, it's a big step in the right direction.
Wendy says your muscles don't know if you are using a heavy weight and a few reps or a light weight and many reps. I don't know of anyone in the bodybuilding community who would agree with that contention. It's well-documented that muscles respond very differently to peak loading than to low-level loading.
When you fire enough muscle fibers strongly enough (due to the load on the muscles), the whole body responds with hormonal changes. These changes involve elevated cortisol (the stress hormone) followed by depressed insulin, depressed cortisol, and elevated testosterone.
These changes cause the body to store calcium in the bones, store less fat, and grow more muscle. This is why we do such exercises as dead lifts, front squats, and bench presses--all of which, when done intensely, raise testosterone for several days following the exercise. These changes are primarily why HITT works, as these changes are primarily what you get from HITT. If you look at sprinters and then look at Marathon runners, you see the difference between what high intensity gives you and what low intensity gives you. Sprinters have noticeably less subcutaneous body fat and more muscle than their Marathon-running counterparts. If you want that beautiful sprinter body, don't do high rep / low weight workouts.
Wendy talks about adaptation, and that is exactly the process involved here--it's why the body does that hormone dance. Endurance and power require different body compositions, and the body adapts according to the stresses you put on it.
The changes just mentioned are also why a man who does nothing but squats twice a month for three months will have larger, more chiseled-looking arms than if he did nothing but biceps curls every week for six months (all else being the same).
For someone just starting out, lack of intensity may not matter in terms of productivity. The body will undergo positive adaptation regardless of the reps/resistance formula. My article on intensity sheds light on why high-rep workouts are, nonetheless, limited in their effectiveness. It's also worth noting that for someone who hasn't learned good form it is much better to do low resistance and high reps than to aim for intensity and be side-lined by an injury.
A final note on diet. Wendy keeps insisting on egg whites. I have seen this mistake in many other books. There is nothing wrong with a whole egg, provided it's not a "factory egg" produced by a stressed out chicken confined to a two-foot cage and feed grain. Buy eggs laid by healthy chickens, and you have an ideal food. You can identify such an egg readily. It has a tough shell that you have to smack pretty hard to break, and it has a flavor quite different from that of the typical grocery store egg. Many grocery stores now carry such eggs, often under a label saying "free range."
Tossing out the yolk wastes a good nutrition source. This mistaken notion of tossing out egg yolks comes from flawed research on cholesterol, conducted with the wrong kind of eggs. Buy the right eggs, and eat them whole. Your cholesterol profile will have your doctor asking you what you are doing, it will look that good.
Just to put some numbers to it, in my senior year of high school I ate one dozen eggs each day and my total cholesterol was under 120. That was in the days when total cholesterol was all we measured. In the decades since then, I have still been a big egg-eater and when I've had blood tests my cholesterol profile has been in the ideal range every time. I never discard a yolk.
This book consists of four Parts:
*Part One explains the concepts in simple terms. People who reach a state of "truly shredded" could add more, but this is just about right for someone who just wants to look good instead of obese.
*Part Two is very prescriptive. It lays out a specific plan for the target audience of this book. I don't like its particular mix of ingredients, but again Wendy is reaching people where they are and this plan will result in fat loss.
*Part Three explains how to fit the plan in around the realities of every day life. It includes tips for travel, holidays, and other situations that are known to derail fat loss commitments.
*Part Four contains recipes. I personally find most of these too simple and limited, but perhaps that's why they are included. [...] Also, the recipe for five alarm chili is wrong. The hottest you can get with using cayenne pepper is three-alarm chili. Wendy has obviously never lived in west Texas. My five-alarm chili makes Mexicans sweat and just barely misses melting porcelain.
Follow the plan laid out in this book, and you can get to a healthy body fat level. If you have struggled to get there before, struggle no more. Wendy's plan is one anybody can do.
8 of 10 people found the following review helpful
Too many diets fail because you get all excited early on, see some results on the scale, then you lose your enthusiasm, the weight loss stops, and you get so frustrated by it all that you go back to your old way of eating that made you fat to begin with. It's a vicious cycle too many Americans have found themselves wrapped up in over the years and it's time to find a way to "conquer" the keys to success for long-term weight loss and maintenance.
That's what bestselling author Wendy Chant has done in this follow-up book to Crack the Fat-Loss Code. She wanted to give readers of her first book the essential support they needed to keep the momentum going on their way to creating the lifelong mindset about keeping the fat off of their bodies for good. A big fan of carb-cycling as a means for revving up your metabolism and producing the most effective fat loss, Chant provides eight weeks of step-by-step instructions about what to eat, how to exercise, and explaining why you are doing what you are doing.
I liked her out-of-the-box thinking regarding ways to be highly successful, including surprising your body with hypercaloric meals from time to time to break the routine, eat MORE omega-3 fats, eat adequate protein, and drink lots of water. But there are some areas of disagreement like her suggestion to do cardio on an empty stomach first thing in the morning, eat oatmeal as a starchy carbohydrate, and the insistence on consuming egg whites and low-fat sources of protein.
All in all, though, this is one of the more intriguing new health books on the market today and may be just the thing somebody needs to Conquer the Fat-Loss Code once and for all in their own life!