Making a Lean Guy More Lean: Nick S. Case Study

I got the following reader question in response to my article, The Hierarchy of Carbohydrates: I'm 27 years old, 167lbs, 5'10".  I used to weigh 240.

I work out 5-6 days/week, currently doing Shaun T's T25 (it's only 25 minutes a day, mostly cardio with some squats, plank, etc.).  I supplement with some strength training a few days a week.

I eat around 2500-2600 calories/day on an almost entirely vegan diet.  Roughly 50% Carbs, 25% protein, 25% fat.  The majority of the Carb foods I eat fall within the top of your hierarchy of carbs (lots of green, flower vegetable, and berries).  I also eat plenty of apples, and I start my day with oatmeal (which after reading your post, will change).

You mentioned that macro breakdown has a lot to do with body fat (I'd guess that I'm between 9-10... stubborn lower back love handles), and training time/intensity/etc.  

My goal is to get to 5-6% body fat, at 165-175 lbs.  

I'm not sure what you'd recommend, but from what I've read on your site, I was thinking that I should lower my carb intake and increase my fat intake.  I'm eating a little under than 1 gram of protein per pound.

Any feedback at all would be greatly appreciated, as I understand you're a busy man!


Nick S.

Before I make any recommendations I would like to make three points.

  1. We don’t have an exact number on where Nick is starting and it doesn’t matter, all we care about is progress.
  2. If Nick is really at 9-10% he is already extremely lean by any standards.  This would be a great goal to aspire to for most people and Nick deserves a lot of credit for getting here from a starting point of a flabby 240 lbs.
  3. Unless you are a fighter trying to make weight 5-6% body fat is purely an elite aesthetic goal, not a health or fitness goal.  Getting to that low of body fat will negatively impact mental and physical performance for most people.  Staying there for an extended period of time may also negatively affect health.  There are very few people with the genetics and schedule to allow them to stay in the 5-6% body fat range for very long.


My opening recommendations are the most general and hopefully, easiest to make.  My philosophy is to keep things as simple as possible until a plateau in results requires a more complex solution.

  1. Experiment with Easy Intermittent Fasting (IF).
  2. Consider eating quality grass-fed meat and pastured eggs.  It is difficult to get enough healthy fat in your diet without animal products.
  3. Vegan diets are correlated with low testosterone, even in young men.  Stinging Nettle Root is an inexpensive supplement that can raise free testosterone.
  4. If you are eating any soy, stop immediately.  This includes soy lecithins.
  5. Take 1 gram of high quality fish oil for every gram of body fat you have daily.  It’s ok if you overestimate.  I recommend SO3 + Vitamin D from SFH.  The bonus vitamin D will help raise your testosterone levels.  Type in the promo code TMARTT for a 10% discount.
  6. Don’t be as concerned with calories as you are with carbs.
  7. Shift your macronutrient ratios.  Gradually lower your carbs and increase your fat and protein. Eventually you want to have fat and protein around 40% and carbs around 20%.  The good news is that since you normally eat such high levels of carbs your body will probably respond to the shift quickly.
  8. Do all of your cooking with coconut oil and take 2-4 Tbsp/day.  Eat it straight or put it in Bulletproof coffee.  The long chain fats in Kerrygold butter will help you reach your daily fat goals.
  9. Prioritize heavy resistance training 3x/week to boost growth hormone (GH) and testosterone levels.  It will also build more muscle that will increase your metabolic rate.  Focus on compound movements like deadlifts, squats, pull-ups (weighted), loaded carries and Olympic lifts if you know how to do them.  Start doing kettlebell swings too.  Keep these workouts to an hour or less.  You can do Insanity on days you don’t lift or at the end of your resistance training or at a different time a day.
  10. Add some aerobic exercise for recovery and to create a need for feeding.  Start with 1-2 60-minute steady state aerobic workouts a week like cycling, rowing, or swimming.  Keep your heart rate around 70% of your max. I don’t suggest jogging because of all the plyometrics you are doing in Insanity.  That is too much pounding on your legs.
  11. Once you hit a fat loss plateau with the above recommendations try carb cycling.

Make these adjustments and give them a few weeks to take affect.  Stay in touch with me through the comments section on your progress and we will make more recommendations as you go.  That goes for anyone else who may be interested in what Nick is doing.

Good luck bro,