Kentucky Strong: 28 Days of Fat Loss for the Strength Athlete

TAGS: nutrition plan, lean out, 28 Days of Fat Loss for the Strength Athlete, calories, Kentucky Strong, macros, Chase Karnes, lose fat, fat loss, Nutrition

“Fat loss is an all-out war. Give it 28 days — only 28 days. Attack it with all you have. It’s not a lifestyle choice; it’s a battle. Lose fat and then get back into moderation.” – Dan John

While we all started lifting weights to get bigger and stronger, there is no denying that most of us also had some vanity reasons behind our motivation to begin training. I’ll be the first to admit it—I wanted abs. And I wanted those abs because I wanted to impress the ladies (or actually the girls since I was fourteen when I started training). Although I only have one lady in my life to impress now, I still feel that being a personal trainer/strength coach, I need to look the part. Here in Kentucky, I spend almost every weekend from May to September on our boat on Kentucky Lake. There are some specific areas where we hangout with friends, and there are a large number of others who hang out there as well. It doesn’t look good for business if I don’t look strong and in shape. And apparently looking “in shape” to the general population does require some visible muscle definition. So while I don’t have to be walking around at six percent body fat, I do feel that I need to display a decent level of leanness. And who doesn’t want to look jacked anyways?

So a few years back, when T-Nation had the popular “Velocity Diet” and was selling protein powder like crazy, I got the idea. Why don’t I just come up with a similar plan? One in the same fashion—an aggressive fat loss phase that lasts 28 days—but mine would include food. (Because I love food and I’m not willing to give it up). I read the above quote from Dan John and it stuck with me. So I devised a diet and training program with just that in mind. Every year I would try to lose as much fat as possible the 28 days before Memorial Day weekend (the kick-off to the Kentucky Lake season).

Maybe you don’t have a local lake where you plan to be shirtless all summer. That’s fine. This plan is great for those who have a summer vacation coming up or who just want to get a little leaner for the summer months. I spend most of the winter trying to put on size and, as many of you know, it’s hard to put on just muscle mass. There’s always a little bit of fat accumulation in the process. This is a great way to drop that extra fat while keeping your hard-earned muscle, not to mention a way to show off what you’ve gained.

This plan isn’t for someone who has a large amount of body fat to lose, however. Typically guys who are around 12 to 18 percent body fat will see the best results from the plan. I’ve used it numerous times over the years and have always been very happy with the results.

Let’s back up a minute, though. I know some of you are probably thinking, "What does this strongman competitor know about diet, nutrition, and fat loss?" Well, what most of you don’t know is that I competed in bodybuilding for quite a few years and did my own pre-contest diets the majority of the time.

I also did my wife’s last bikini competition diet, and I’ve worked with a handful of bodybuilders and figure competitors. So, while I’m no expert like Shelby Starnes, I have helped numerous clients lose body fat over the years. So I’m pretty confident that I can help you drop some fat before summer.

Figuring Your Calories

High Day

The night before your hardest training session (typically lower body or strongman events, for you strongmen out there), you’ll have your highest calorie and carbohydrate day. We are carbing-up the night before to fuel the next day’s session.

Calories: Bodyweight x 15
Protein: Bodyweight x 1.25
Carbohydrates: Bodyweight x 1.25
Fat: Bodyweight x .55

So for a 200-pound athlete, the numbers would look like this:

Calories: 3,000
Protein: 250 grams
Carbohydrates: 250 grams
Fat: 110 grams

This day is limited to one day a week. And, like I mentioned above, I recommend that it’s the day before your hardest training day.

Medium Days

I recommend placing your medium days the day before your next two hardest training sessions. Your carbohydrates will be higher on this day than on low days. Therefore, as with the high day, we want to use those carbohydrates to fuel the next day’s training session.

Calories: Bodyweight x 10
Protein: Bodyweight x 1.25
Carbohydrates: Bodyweight x .6
Fat: Bodyweight x .3

So for a 200-pound athlete, the numbers would look like this:

Calories: 2,000
Protein: 250 grams
Carbohydrates: 120 grams
Fat: 60 grams

These days should make up two days of the week, preferably the day before a training session.

Low Days

The low days will make up the remaining four days of the week.

Calories: Bodyweight x 10
Protein: Bodyweight x 1.25
Carbohydrates: Bodyweight x .4
Fat: Bodyweight x .4

So for a 200-pound athlete, the numbers would look like this:

Calories: 2,000
Protein: 250 grams
Carbohydrates: 80 grams
Fat: 80 grams

Food Selection

Proteins: Chicken, sirloin, New York strip, extra lean beef (92% or leaner), extra lean ground turkey breast (92% or leaner), tilapia, salmon, tuna, shrimp, pork loin, bacon, protein powder

Carbohydrates: Sweet potatoes, white potatoes, red potatoes, white rice, brown rice, jasmine rice, oats, apples, bananas, berries

Fats: Olive oil, coconut oil, nuts and nut butters, bacon

Eat any low-calorie vegetables you’d like.

On your “high day,” feel free to add in any foods that you’ve been craving or really enjoy. Just make sure it fits with your macros and calories for the day.

Rules

The following “rules” aren’t set in stone, and as long as you hit the macros and calories listed above for their respective days of the week, you’ll have success on this program. However, I’ve found that following these “rules” definitely makes the dieting phase more enjoyable, decreases hunger, and increases the quality of your training sessions.

  1. Fast for 12 hours a day. This is from the last meal of the day until you eat your next meal the following day. If you eat your last bite at 9 p.m., don’t eat again until 9 a.m.
  2. Start each day with coffee and a bit of coconut oil, even if it’s during your “fasting” period. This doesn’t break the fast in my opinion. And if it does in yours, that is fine, still do it. I’m not here to argue, I’m here to get you leaner.
  3. Only eat protein and fat during the day. Eat the majority of your carbohydrates during the evening—6 p.m. and after. Keep carbohydrates under 20 grams during the day.
  4. Track your calories and macros daily using an online program, phone app, or just old school pen and paper. You can also just plan out what each day looks like (high, medium, low) and know ahead of time what you’ll be eating each and every day.
  5. I recommend drinking 10 to 15 grams of BCAAs before and during training, but this is optional.

Sample Day

6 a.m. Coffee with coconut oil

9 a.m. Bacon and Eggs

12 p.m. Chicken w/onions and bell peppers

3 p.m. Protein shake and almonds

6 p.m. New York Strip, Baked Sweet Potato, Spinach Salad

9 p.m. Oatmeal and a banana

Supplements

  • Protein powder (low carb)
  • Fish Oil
  • ZMA
  • Creatine
  • Vitamin C
  • BCAAs (optional)

Training

I don’t care what type of training program you follow. Whatever it is keep doing it, but with a few considerations.

1. This is a dieting phase. Don’t expect to be hitting huge PRs but also don’t expect to lose strength. Keep the goal the goal for 28 days—getting leaner. Train heavy and hard and you’ll be fine.

2. No matter what the program is, I do recommend the following modifications:

Week 1: Highest volume week, lowest intensity
Week 2: Moderate volume week, moderate intensity
Week 3: Lowest volume week, highest intensity
Week 4: Deload week

So if you follow 5/3/1, it may look like this:

Week 1: 3x5 Week
Week 2: 3x3 Week
Week 3: 5/3/1 Week
Week 4: Deload Week

Another example would be:

Week 1: Work up to 8-RM
Week 2: Work up to 6-RM
Week 3: Work up to 4-RM
Week 4: Deload Week

*I recommend two to three days of high intensity cardio somewhere during the week. Ideal choices are: Prowler® sprints and hill sprints.

Coming Off the Plan

One thing you want to avoid is coming off this plan and then going right back to how you were eating beforehand. If you do this, you’ll more than likely put on some body fat pretty quickly. What I’ve found to work well is to just slowly increase your calories each day. For the first week, add about 250 calories more to your day (except the high day). Then, slowly ramp them up over the course of a few weeks until you hit your maintenance level (roughly bodyweight x 15). If you’re tired of counting numbers, just slowly increase them a little each week by eating a little bit more at each meal. And if after 28 days you decide you want to keep on going, there’s no reason why you can’t push it to six or even eight weeks to get even leaner.

So, while this won’t get you bodybuilding-stage ready, it’s a very little sacrifice in order to drop some of that winter fat so that you can look jacked once summer rolls around. And in the end, it’s only 28 days. You can do anything for 28 days.

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