You don’t have to ditch 5/3/1 on a fat loss protocol, but as I believe Jim himself has said in so many words before, don’t expect to chase two masters at once, i.e., fat loss and strength/size gains are essentially mutually exclusive goals, beginner gains aside.
I’ve found this protocol to work fine personally:
- Maintain quality conditioning as stipulated in the book. There is no room for slacking here, as this is an integral part of fat loss, among other benefits that don’t need more elaboration.
- Figure out what your daily maintenance calories are. You may need to get meticulous with tracking macros for awhile if you’re not getting results.
- Eat at maintenance on training days. Eat in a deficit of 250-500 calories on off days, depending on how fast of a rate of fat loss you’re looking to achieve (note: I do just fine with a 500 calorie deficit). I always keep protein constant at approximately 1 g/lb of body weight. Carbs are approximately 1g/lb of body weight only on training days, and 0.5 g/lb of body weight on off days. Fat is kept at 0.45 g/lb of body weight on training days, and 0.4 g/lb of body weight on off days.
- You should aim to consume 80%+ of your weekly calories from whole, minimally processed foods, e.g., fruits, veggies, oats, lentils, and unprocessed meats of your choosing (chicken, fish, beef, pork, etc.). There’s room for the occasional beer, cake at your kid’s birthday party, or lunch at McDonald’s with the rest of the work crew, no need to be a social cretin, but you should seek to ensure that those types of food choices are not dietary staples and that they fit within your daily macros.
- Pick a variation of 5/3/1 that offers some additional volume. Personally, I chose the 5/3/1 and Bodybuilding template, and added FSL work on the main lifts. I also supersetted the assistance exercises. I find it helps to keep heart rate elevated more during the workout, and the extra volume on the main sets MAY have an added fat loss benefit, though I agree with the contemporary consensus that fat loss is, generally speaking, most heavily influenced by the dietary component.
I never had any energy issues when training with 5/3/1, eating like this for fat loss, and you’ll lose 1-2 lbs/week. You can manipulate carb and fat numbers as you so desire if you prefer more or less carbs vs. more or less fat, but I’d keep protein intake high and be sure to keep your daily caloric intake within the targeted range.[/quote]
I’ve ‘lost weight’ (I’d like to think mostly fat, but probably not) running 531 and I agree with most of what you say, except maybe #5
Something I’ve picked up on this site, is that fat loss is ‘easier’ with lower volume. The idea being that additional volume generally means that you’re doing more work and this will be hungry. Since fat loss is mostly diet, cut the volume and you can consume less calories and not feel hungry all the time.
With 531 I did this by using a low TM (80-85%) and starting a new 5/3 cycle (weights are lighter). Hit your main lifts and maybe a couple FSL sets. The goal is to maintain strength. Now you can focus more on conditioning.
I liked doing the 2/2/2 program.
- Lifted 2 days a week (SQ/Bench;DL/OHP - 531 (5pro) then maybe 3x5 FSL with some lat and abs as supplemental)
- 2 days of conditioning. battle ropes, BB complexes, sprints, walking with heavy shit, etc).
- 2 days mobility
- lots of (vest) walking throughout the week.
But yeah, diet is going to be super-important here.