Just in time for the new year! Lose fat quickly and safely on this 21-day fat-loss shred diet!
Disclaimer: the author is no longer a certified nutritionist and has not been a certified nutritionist since the mid-2000s. Use these diet guidelines and meal plans at your own risk.
To spare you from having to read this entire post to learn the premise, here is a quick summary of the Project Shred Diet:
- A PDF that you can print out, containing meal plans that you can easily follow.
- A strict diet is used to lose fat in 21 days.
- A guideline for your post-diet lifestyle eating habits.
- A detox diet is used to clean out your system of processed garbage.
- A higher protein diet potentially allows muscle gains while losing fat.
- Input from no less than 2 certified sports nutritionists.
- I personally tried it, and it works!
- Skip all the bunk and check out the meal plans.
Judging by a recent Swole Poll, most Project Swole readers want to build muscle – 53% to be exact. However, 33% of you are looking to lose fat and I’d wager a guess that at least 50% of the muscle-builders will, at some point, switch their goals to losing fat. Therefore I can say that if you are one of the 60+% of Project Swole readers that will eventually want to lose fat, then this article is for you.
The Project Shred Diet is, in fact, a diet plan that you can follow for the recommended 21 days or longer. There are 7 days of carefully planned out meals – 3 full meals and 2-3 optional snacks per day. Each of the 7 days can be switched and swapped around as you prefer. To get the most benefit try to hit all 7 days before repeating. Some food substitutions can be made within reason. I’ll tell you all about the rules in a moment.
The Project Shred Guidelines
These guidelines don’t need to be followed exactly as listed, but to reap the most benefits from this diet they should be followed closely.
- Drink plenty of water.
8 – 8oz glasses a day should be consumed anyway when following a healthy lifestyle.
- Standard Meal schedule.
Unless you are attempting the Project Shred Diet as an Intermittent Fast, meals should occur on the following schedule:
- Breakfast 6:00 a.m. – 9:00 a.m
- Snack 10:00 a.m. – 11:00 a.m.
- Lunch 12:00 p.m. – 2:00 p.m.
- Snack 3:00 p.m. – 4:00 p.m.
- Dinner 5:00 p.m. – 6:30 p.m.
- Snack 7:00 p.m. – 7:30 p.m. (NO LATER)
* NOTE: You might notice the final snack should be eaten before 7:30 pm. You do NOT want to eat anything any later than 8 pm at the absolute latest.
- Intermittent Fasting Meal Schedule.
If you are attempting the Project Shred Diet as an Intermittent Fast, meals should occur on the following schedule:
- Breakfast 12:00 p.m. – 1:00 p.m.
- Snack 1:30 p.m.
- Lunch 2:00 p.m. – 3:00 p.m.
- Snack 4:00 p.m.
- Dinner 5:00 p.m. – 6:00 p.m.
- Snack 7:30 p.m. (NO LATER)
* NOTE: You might notice the final snack should be eaten before 7:30 pm. You do NOT want to eat anything any later than 8 pm at the absolute latest.Why Intermittent Fasting? Because the fasted state does something to your physiology that just makes your body burn fat like crazy. You don’t want to fast for a whole day, but for 66%-75% of the day.
So many people have had awesome results with IF, so if you haven’t tried it yet, give it a shot.Check out the I.F. category on Project Swole: Intermittent Fasting
You must work out at least 3 times per week. Be sure to keep your workouts safe. Pay attention to how your body feels.
- Weight training workouts should last no longer than 45 minutes.
- High-intensity cardio sessions should last no longer than 25 minutes.
- Endurance cardio sessions should not be used, but if you insist, they should last no longer than 40 minutes.
- Stretching, yoga, active recovery, and neural adaptation training can be used as desired, but should still observe in moderation.
- To maintain as much strength and muscle mass as possible, your goal is to lift heavy. You don’t want to burn yourself out with endless 12-rep bodybuilding sets. Werewolf Muscle or Strength Training is OK, Fat Loss for Men would work, and so would a plain old 3×5 routine.
- You should still attempt to break plateaus and set PRs. You may be losing fat, but your strength could increase due to heavy training and healthy eating.
- Caffeine use.
If you must drink coffee, try not to drink it excessively. DO NOT USE SUGAR. Learn to drink it black or with half a shot of skim milk. In the interest of detox, I’d prefer you stay away from caffeine while using the Project Shred Diet, but I can’t even do it myself, so I’m not making it a requirement. There have been numerous caffeine studies revealing the performance and stamina benefits of consuming coffee, so this guideline is up in the air.
- Do not cheat.
This is a minimum 3-week plan so be strong in your convictions and DON’T CHEAT! That’s right, no cheating. That doesn’t mean you are allowed a cheat meal on Friday or Saturday night. No ice cream, no pizza, no candy. Follow the diet for 21 simple days if you want to get the full effect.
- Keep progress logs.
Record your weight when you start and only weigh yourself at the end of the week (Sunday morning when you wake up, for instance). Keep the weigh-in times consistent. Since you are working out, you may want to take your measurements to monitor them. It is not uncommon for you Not to lose weight due to increased muscle mass.
DON’T GET DISCOURAGED!
After all, it is not about how much you weigh it is about how great you look. If possible also jot down your percent body fat and take measurements of areas like neck, chest, arm, waist, thigh, and calf.
- Keep a food diary.
Keeping a food diary will help you to better understand portion sizes and the nutritional content of your foods. It is immensely helpful to jot down foods, portions, calories, carbs, fats, and protein content in a journal, for at least 3-4 weeks.
You will eat enough protein during the diet, so you can put away your protein powders for a couple of weeks. Here is a helpful list of vitamins to get. Again, these are supplements that you should take year-round, regardless of your diet.
- Multi-vitamin (covering basic RDA allowances)
- Omega 3 (fish oil)
- Vitamin E
- Vitamin C The only supplement I would consider is a post-workout shake. I recommend drinking a glass of milk after the workout while you are on this diet, but if you want to exchange your milk or a snack, for a half serving of post-workout shake, I can’t fault you.
- Exchanging meals.
Most meals fall between 350-450 calories. If you absolutely hate one of the meals listed, you may swap it out for an equivalent meal. Just try to adjust for added or lost calories by adding or skipping one of the snacks.
The same basic rule applies to exchanging individual foods. Try to make sure the macro-nutrients and calories line up, within reason. Try to complete each of the initial 7 meals before repeating them again, although it is OK to randomize them.
If you are really good at nutrition, you may be able to construct your own meals. Just be careful what you add. Try to keep any new meals restricted to the foods that are already listed.
For the most part fruits and veggies are interchangeable, but be careful with avocados, which are really high in healthy fats.
- Dealing with Different Body Types. How to calculate your calorie demands on Project Shred.
So here is what you are going to do:
- Weigh yourself.
Let’s say our example athlete weighs 220 lbs.
- Estimate your goal weight.
Our example athlete has been lazy lately. He knows he needs to get down to 185-190 lbs to be comfortable in his own skin. He wants ripped abs, so he’s going to choose 185 as his goal weight. It is even better if you know your own fat-free mass, but since most people don’t have access to a 3-site caliper test or a handheld Omron, using your goal weight is the next best guess.
- Multiply your goal weight by 13.
Our athlete ends up with 185 x 13 = 2405 calories. This gives us a somewhat accurate metabolic rate – the number of calories your body burns each day performing low-intensity general daily tasks.
If you want to know where I’m getting 13 from, through the years it has consistently given me a fairly accurate basal metabolic rate (BMR) for clients. Sometimes we figure out what the client’s fat-free mass is, by first checking the body fat percentage.
In lieu of complicating life for those trying out Project Shred, I am telling you to use your goal body weight in the calculation, rather than your fat-free mass. Not an intermediate goal weight, mind you – your final ultimate goal weight.
- Subtract 500 calories.
Our athlete subtracts 500 from 2405 and arrives at 1905 calories. This is the maximum number of calories that our athlete should consume each day on the Project Shred Diet. Dieting at this calorie deficit should singlehandedly result in a minimum weight loss of 1 lb of body fat per week.
- Adjust your meal plan.
Since most daily calorie totals are between 1500-1600, our athlete is going to have to add between 300-400 calories each day to prevent losing weight too quickly. These additional calories should come from a couple of extra snacks or doubling up on a serving size here and there to make up the difference.
- For really small people.
If your goal weight x 13 is less than the daily calorie count, simply forgo one snack or cut a portion size in half to make up the difference. For example, if you are a tiny woman and your goal weight is 110 lbs, then your daily calorie allotment will be about 900 calories. (Of course, this is probably too few calories, so you might want to bump it up to about 1100. Sometimes subtracting 500 calories is overkill.)
The point is, you probably need to cut out all snacks in order to meet your calorie requirement. A better solution would be to cut down your servings of pasta, meat, fish, eggs, and fruit by 50%, rather than just eliminating all of your snacks.
- Weigh yourself.
The Meal Plans
Everything is here in this easy-to-print and read PDF.
Of course, by downloading and using this diet plan, you also agree to do so at your own risk, and you agree that you will not hold me responsible for anything that happens to you or your body by following my advice or my meal plans. I was once, but I am no longer, a certified sports nutritionist. That is all. Good luck!
Let us know how you like it. Please send in some before and afters too, so we can post them up online.