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Body Fat Breakthrough Results

Hey Dr. Darden,

I just wanted to let you know that I did your Body Fat Breakthrough program earlier this year and lost 21 pounds. I spent 10 weeks doing the program. I measured my progress using an InBody machine assessment at the beginning, middle and end of the ten weeks. My bodyweight dropped from 215 to 194 (I’m 6’1" tall btw). My bodyfat % went from around 21% to around 17%. I lost a bit of muscle as well but it wasn’t significant and the reduction in weight and BF% was worth it. I think I lost a bit of muscle primarily due to the fact that I only did bodyweight exercises and may not have exercised with enough intensity. Still, like I said it wasn’t a significant loss. My after photos looked way better than my before photos, and I was extremely happy with my results.

Also, I saw significant results even though I didn’t incorporate every single fat bomb. As far as calories I started at 1800 per day and really never cut them like you recommended in the book. I did go for a 30 minute walk daily. I drank a ton of water every day, and got plenty of sleep most nights. I did NOT do the cold showers! I also cheated and had a few drinks on the weekends. I wonder what my results would have been if I had followed the program to the T!

Anyhow, just wanted to say thanks! I’ve kept most of the weight off (hovering around 198), and am planning on doing another 6-week iteration of the program prior to the holidays. I’d like to get down into the 180’s in prep for a Thanksgiving 5k. This time I will be using a mix of free weights, machines and bodyweight.

Thanks again and God bless!


215@21%->194@17% indicates you lost ~ 9 pounds of muscle. Yikes.


I had a similar result when I broke back into the iron game some 16 years ago at a horrible 224lbs. I was on the 1,500 kcals low protein, low fat, high carb diet, spread over 5 eating episodes, from the ‘New High Intensity Training’ book. I’m sure it works for some folks but by the time I hit 168lbs I could have passed for a recreational tennis player. And I still didn’t have abs!

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I could never last longer than about 4 days on the diet from
The New HIT book. And I tried to make it work more times than I should have. Even with all of the water drinking, the lack of protein and vegetables always left me starving.

Sounds like you didn’t really do the program at all. No tapering calories, no cold showers, alcohol consumption, and low intensity body weight exercises? This is some Frankenstein approach.

Not trying to be mean, but it’s hard to read an assessment of a program when you aren’t even really close to following it. It’s no surprise you lost muscle when you’re in a steep energy deficit and you aren’t stimulating muscle growth effectively through your training plan.

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Who do you think he was trying to please here, you Dave or himself? I think this shows you don’t have to follow a program to a T to get good results !!

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My point is more so that he wasn’t really close to following the plan, let alone following it to a T. I’m happy for him that he’s glad about his progress, but losing muscle is not generally a good thing.

@jtradcalgriffin I suggest going forward You implement either the weight training protocol listed in the book or another weight training protocol based around Progressive overload coupled with some extra servings of protein throughout the day To gain back some of that lost muscle. Your scale weight will be up, but I think you’ll be pleased with how much better you look. Remember that muscle has a high energy demand and you’ll burn more fat, even at rest with extra muscle.

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Eating a higher percentage of calories from protein would probably help preserve muscle. But that is typically not found in a Darden diet. So that would also be a deviation from the program he was sort of trying to follow.

And it probably would have been better to use higher intensity form of exercise - more stimulation for the amount of energy expended. Low volumes of high load and/or eccentric exercise would help.

In any case, I am impressed when someone is able to maintain a calorie deficit for a long enough period of time to lose a significant amount of weight. Calorie deficits are not fun, and it takes discipline to stick with it. I think it may also be the case that running a calorie deficit on low fat and lower protein diets may create more issues with hunger than some of the alternatives.

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I definitely struggled with hunger when I did the diet from the New HIT which is extremely similar to the one in Bodyfat Breakthrough. I liked the microwave meals but they never left me satisfied. My experience with that diet is why I no longer really count calories and eat for satiation and focus on getting multiple (usually 4-5 or more on training days) servings of about 30 grams of protein a day.

My critique of the review was simply that it’s hard to give an honest review when the program wasn’t really followed closely. My advice going forward is just that he now change his strategy since he’s got a good amount of fat off.

I think your honesty in this post is a breath of fresh air! This gives hope that you can deviate from the plan and still get some good from these programs! I doubt very few actually do exactly as prescribed in most of these low calorie routines anyway and if they did they are so miserable they soon gain the weight right back after the a few weeks off of it.

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It definitely proves a calorie deficit causes weight loss and that inadequate stimulation and fuel for the muscles cause muscle catabolism as well


That is for sure. Despite getting to put something in my mouth every three hours, I was bloody miserable. But the real killer was lack of progress. After a while, I stalled on the diet. I even tried the Bowflex Plan, where you taper the calories down further by 100 kcals every week until you hit 1,200. Then you taper back to 1,500. Needless to say, energy levels, progress in the gym, libido, etc, were not great either.

Now, if anyone has read about the Minnesota Starvation Experiment my experience should seem obvious (in fact those subjects were consuming more than me on some days). My total energy expenditure (TEE) would have tanked quite quickly - explaining why the scales wouldn’t budge despite the semi-starvation. And these findings have been played out many times publically since, as seen in shows like the Biggest Loser.

And although somewhat anecdotal, I had a conversation with a PT who ran a DEXA scan company. He said in all the scans he had performed on repeat clients, he had never come across a single case where a drop in fat mass was not accompanied by a loss of lean mass. In fact, he said physique athletes were the worst here, especially females, who lost significant lean mass when dieting for contests - and that is despite being lean already.

What these cases (including my own) all have in common is a dogmatic adherence to the ‘eat less move more’ mantra. Yet, it clearly doesn’t work, or doesn’t work efficiently, after a few weeks anyway.


Broadly speaking, if you want to lose body fat, I think you still need to consume less energy than your body is expending. But the relationship between exercise, or physical activity, and energy expenditure may be a lot more complicated than previously thought:

That means Almost half of his weight loss came from muscle. That’s awful.

Would you be up for posting your progress pics? Neck down/no face showing is fine of course.

Dropping 21 pounds in 10 weeks is definitely solid and steady progress, but having nearly half of that loss being muscle absolutely set you back in the long run and affected the end result.

No need to wonder. Do it. There’s zero doubt you’ll get even better results if you follow the plan properly.

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Not intentionally derailing here, but I would only like to add that Dr Darden also tested the “Bodyfat breakthrough” 30-30-30 protocol for bodybuilding purposes (not only for fat loss). If I remember it correctly the diet was then 3500 calories a day, and he provided photographic support on some of his clients in the book (a guy called “truck” comes to mind).

I used a similar strategy before, when I combined 30-30-30, 30-10-30 with the recommendations from “the new HIT”. Made some serious gains from this hybridization over a period of 3 months or so. Bear in mind though, I did not need to lose fat primarily, and have always favoured a high carb diet.

Is the muscles “gone”? Or is it “empty”?

Did tissue disappear or did all the juice just get sucked out?

Can you “regain” lost muscle in a day or two just by pounding some Gatorade, steak and pizza to refill flatness?

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Hell, earlier in my life I dropped 20# of bodyweight on two occasions on purpose in 14 days. The first time I found myself at 208#, the heaviest I’d ever been. I continued weight training and all the other daily physical and mental (college) activities - the only thing I did different was dropping the amount of food by 50%, and 15 days later I weighed 188#. Classmates thought something nasty happened to me. Not. Hilarious I thought of their reaction.

To accurately estimate how much muscle he lost, you have to have very accurate percent bodyfat measurements.

So 215@21% >>> 194@17% = 9 lbs of muscle lost.

But what if he actually went from 22% to 16%. Then it would be 4.7 lbs of muscle lost. So shifting the body fat number by just one percentage point in a more favorable direction on either end of the calculation cuts the muscle loss in half, and reduces muscle loss to just 22% of the total.

Inbody measurements are not that precise, and can be influenced by hydration level.

I remember reading in some physiology text that the average ratio of fat mass to lean muscle loss that was considered acceptable was 1 lb. of muscle loss to 2 lbs of fat.

John Berrardi introduced a real paradigm shift with his G-Flux principals of still eating quite a bit (high quality selections) while moving A-Lot, thus creating a caloric deficit while still feeding well for a given weight.

There are quite a few people here who have done something very similar with excellent, in some cases pro card results.

I think that putting too much emphasis on the calories in side of the CICO equation is a major flaw.

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