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Your Fat Loss


A Candid and Revealing Conversation With

Fat Loss Expert Tom Venuto

Author of Burn the Fat, Feed the Muscle

Copyright © 2006 Burn The Fat Enterprises

All rights reserved.

No part of this book may be reproduced in any form, except for the inclusion of brief quotations in a review, without permission in writing from the author or publisher.

Published by Tom Venuto and Burn The Fat Enterprises in the United States of America.


Skyrocket Your

Fat Loss Success!

A Candid and Revealing Conversation With

Fat Loss Expert Tom Venuto

As interviewed by Tom Nicoli, Clinical Hypnotherapist Featured on Dateline NBC’s “Ultimate Weight Loss Challenge”

Tom Venuto is the author of Burn the Fat, Feed the Muscle:



Copyright © 2006, Burn The Fat En


terprises. All rights reserved.

This report is NOT for sale and may not be re THE MUSCLE

sold. This is a FREE report and may be

freely distributed or shared, provided none of the information or links are changed.


Skyrocket Your Fat Loss Success!


An Exclusive Interview with Fat Loss Expert Tom Venuto By Tom Nicoli, Clinical Hypnotherapist


Hello, everyone. This is Tom Nicoli of and The information I have gathered, through the variety of experts in all areas of personal success is simply the best, and today is yet another example. We all know in order to achieve personal success, it takes more than effort and time. The journey to personal success requires physical fitness and health, and today that’s what we’ll be talking about.

My guest today is Tom Venuto of, one of

the world’s leading experts on burning body fat. Tom is a natural bodybuilder, personal trainer, nutritionist, best selling author, and success coach. I guarantee you that what Tom will tell you today is going to surprise you, because I know I was amazed when I first learned what he had to say.

Be sure to get ready to take notes, because what Tom will share is unique information you won’t hear from many experts in the weight loss and fitness industry. So first let me say, welcome, Tom, and thank you so much for taking this time and for sharing what I know is incredibly important for anyone listening who wants to skyrocket their own personal success.

TOM VENUTO: Thanks for having me on the call, Tom.


Now, Tom, the first thing I’d like to ask, before we begin, is to please share a bit of your background and what you do in the area of physical fitness and training.

TOM VENUTO: Sure, be glad to. I’ve been involved in the health and fitness field my entire life. I started working out when I was 14, and I started training other people by the time I was 20. When I went to college, 2 Tom Venuto


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I earned a degree in Exercise Science. I then got certified by the top exercise organizations in the world, the American College of Sports Medicine and the National Strength and Conditioning Association, and then I immediately went to work as a personal trainer for various health clubs. Later I got involved more in the business aspect of health clubs—owning and managing them.

More recently, I’ve become an Internet publisher, and that has allowed me to reach people all over the world through my websites, my newsletters, and my e-books. In 2003, I launched a web-based program called Burn the Fat, Feed the Muscle at, which is the world’s most effective fat loss system. There are now Burn The Fat users in 125 countries, so the Internet has been an incredible tool for spreading the word. It has let me reach a much, much larger number of people than just working one-on-one in the health clubs.


You just mentioned that not only have you become successful in the area of physical fitness but also as a business owner and in the Internet. Tell us how necessary or important do you feel that the physical fitness aspect has helped you in the other areas of becoming successful?

TOM VENUTO: It’s vitally important. I don’t think you can say you’re completely successful unless you’re successful in all the areas of your life, including your health.

Success means different things to different people, but surely it means balance. If you’re financially successful but you don’t have your health, then I don’t think you’re really successful. Or if you have your health and you’re struggling to pay the bills and you don’t have good relationships, I don’t think you’re successful.

When you have it all; when you’re physically fit, and you have your health and you have energy, when you have financial success, relationship success, success in your spiritual life, then everything in your life just works better. It all comes together and falls into place. 3


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Without the health and without the energy and the fitness levels, you’re not going to feel good, and you’re not going to be as effective in the other areas of your life, so each plays off each other.


You know, Tom, that leads me to mention something I learned about you, which was quite surprising at first, about how you do cover all aspects of yourself. What many people listening don’t know is that you’re not the typical fitness expert. What I mean by that is, like myself, you’re trained in neurolinguistic programming (NLP) and hypnosis, the mind techniques for change. So let me ask you, why did you go into the area of developing your mind as well as being this expert in physical development?

TOM VENUTO: Well, the mind is really the missing link for so many people who are trying to reach their fitness goals. If you know where you are now and you know where you want to go and you want to change, what’s missing are the resources and the tools you need to get to your destination. For example, if you want to travel and you know where you are and where you want to go, the car and the map and the itinerary are the resources that you need. To get in shape, the first resource you need is information. You need nutrition and training information, or what Napoleon Hill called “specialized knowledge.”

What I’ve discovered is that some people will learn the nutrition and training information, and they’ll take that ball and run with it, and they will reach all their goals and be very successful. But I also see many people get the exact same information and resources as other people, and yet there’s still something missing. They’re blocked, and they can’t seem to reach their goals. They can’t apply the information or they apply it inconsistently, or they sabotage themselves in one form or another.

The difference between those two people is on a psychological level. You have to approach fitness and health and reaching your ideal weight on both the physical and on the mental planes. There could be a variety of things holding people back: negative programming being put in, old conditioning, limiting beliefs, secondary gain (which is some kind of strong reason to stay the 4 Tom Venuto


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same), poor self-image, lack of clarity in values and priorities. All these things are mostly on a subconscious level.


This is fantastic, because it all ties in. Everything you just said ties in with the whole purpose of me creating, where people who are visiting this site and hearing these interviews, are seeing that we are offering all of these areas of attention and information. Because, as you said, it’s almost as if people find just one thing to latch onto.

That would pretty much be like having a steering wheel, but not having the accelerator, or having some form of transportation, but not all the components. That’s fantastic.

Now, I know you’ve been a bodybuilder for 20 years. Does your

Burn The Fat system lend itself only to someone who’s interested in bodybuilding and self-image? Or is it for anyone simply wanting to be healthier?

TOM VENUTO: What I teach is for everyone, for health as well as for looks. I have heard some people say that they shied away from my material at first because they saw that I was a bodybuilder. They figured, “Oh, well, I’m not a bodybuilder, so it’s not for me.” Or they got intimidated when they saw the word “bodybuilder,” because my book is subtitled “Fat burning secrets of the world’s best bodybuilders and fitness models.” I think it would probably be more accurate if I changed the subtitle to, “What every man and woman can learn from bodybuilders about permanent fat loss.”

What I did is I just found and modeled the most successful people.

It was simply a matter of finding people who had achieved the right outcome and then copying what they did. I knew from having been a bodybuilder for so many years that bodybuilders were the best people to model, because they don’t just focus on weight loss.

Out of necessity, they must focus on keeping muscle while losing the fat, and that’s a very key distinction.

The conventional diets, which are what most people gravitate toward because that’s what’s most advertised in the mainstream media, are very much focused on scale weight and pounds. I’m sure you’ve seen the ads, “Lose 30 pounds in 30 days,” or “Lose 9

pounds every 11 days,” or—this one’s very common, especially 5


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with the low-carb diets—“Lose 8 to 15 pounds your first two weeks.” It sounds great, but you really can’t lose 8 to 15 pounds of body fat in two weeks. If they say the weight is fat, then these are bogus claims, and I know the FTC will agree when they catch them. If you do lose that much weight, you might lose a few pounds of fat, several pounds of muscle and a lot of water. But that’s entirely the wrong goal. So I think it’s important that you choose the right goal and the right role models. Bodybuilders have a system for losing fat and keeping muscle, that no mainstream diet program can touch with a ten-foot pole, and that’s what I teach to anybody and everybody.

It’s not even a diet program; it’s a lifestyle, really. It’s a way of eating and exercising that you stick with for the rest of your life, not for the next 30 days or the next 12 weeks. It’s incredibly effective, and it achieves the right outcome, keeping the muscle and losing the fat.

So these principles can be applied by anyone, and I don’t think anyone should be intimidated by the word “bodybuilding.” I mean, if you think about it, anybody who picks up even a 5- or 10-pound dumbbell is bodybuilding. Lift weights, and you’re building your body.


You know, that information is fantastic. When I work with people (and as a hypnotherapist, I’m working with the mind exclusively, which leads to what the body can do as we change behaviors), my most difficult time with weight-loss clients, I have to tell you, is reframing their way of thinking. That is, it’s not about weight, it’s about fat, and that this is not a timeframe situation. That the time will pass regardless, and depending on what we do today will dictate the results over time.

So there is obviously the one proven result, one proven method, and that is healthy eating and exercise. And even the FDA has put out a report, and it was put out a long time ago, but was again recently updated, which warns people of the dangers of magic pills, the magic bullet, and how harmful and potentially dangerous taking that approach of getting the quick fix can be. But what you and I both realize is that we’re up against the impatience of human nature and this instant gratification society we live in, but yet life 6 Tom Venuto


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isn’t an instant. Life is ongoing, and that’s what people are missing. Aren’t they?

TOM VENUTO: Yes, absolutely.


I know that too many times people are either overwhelmed with information they really can’t apply, or they don’t receive anything that can really help them. You say that what you’ve developed is a 100% guaranteed system for losing body fat, based on the little-known nutrition secrets of bodybuilders. Will you share a few of your best nutrition secrets with our listeners right now?

TOM VENUTO: Yes, absolutely. But first, I do think you hit on an important point there when you said, “most people are overwhelmed with information.”

You know, in this day and age, the problem isn’t the lack of information. It’s too much information. So sometimes I think that looking for “the little known secrets,” if you mean the little details, can, in the beginning, be detrimental and actually cause what I call

“paralysis by analysis.” Paralysis by analysis is where people are afraid to start, they’re afraid to make a mistake, they’re afraid to look foolish, or they’re afraid to fail, so they don’t do anything at all until they have all the details first, or because they have too many little details and it’s so overwhelming, they don’t know where to start.

I think that details matter, and there are some nutrition methods you could certainly call secrets that most people in the general public aren’t aware of. But before you get into those details, I think it’s more important to focus on the more “obvious”


There’s something called “The Pareto Principle,” which is also known as the 80/20 rule. It was created by the Economist Vilfredo Pareto in the beginning of the 16th Century, and to paraphrase him, he said that you have to separate the vital few things from the trivial many things. In other words, the very first thing you have to do is master the fundamentals before you worry about little details or “secrets.” 7


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In my fat loss system, there are four fundamental pillars that must support your program. The first one is Strength Training; the second is Cardio Training; the third is Nutrition; and the fourth is Mental Training, which we already touched on. If you’re missing any one of those four, then all the attention to details and all the cutting edge nutrition secrets in the world aren’t going to help you.

Most people just go on diets, and what we don’t need is another diet. We need to change our habits, change our behaviors, and change our lifestyles.

What’s missing from most weight loss programs is the exercise part. I believe that it’s better to burn the fat than starve the fat.

When you starve the fat with strict diets and you cut calories too low, it works initially, and you see that very gratifying initial drop on the scale. But what happens to everyone eventually is you plateau, because your body adapts, and your metabolism adjusts to the reduced food intake. Your body thinks you’re starving, so your body just starts burning fewer calories. Strength training and exercise help because strength training increases your lean body mass. It helps you keep your muscle, which prevents your metabolism from slowing down. It also allows you to eat a little bit more. So instead of a severe cut in calories, you’re burning the fat instead of starving the fat.


Tom, I’m going to stop you right there, because I think people need to hear that again, because I know—and I’m sure you’ve experienced this—that people are floored when they hear “you can eat more.” They’re so used to starving themselves and, as you know from your education and training in hypnosis and NLP, the subconscious, instinctive part of us goes right into that survival mode and doesn’t release anything, thinking we can’t find or kill food.

TOM VENUTO: Exactly.


So, continue, please.

TOM VENUTO: Well, you start with these four fundamentals—I like to think of them as pillars, because they literally hold up your success—and without all of them in place at the same time, you’re in a 8 Tom Venuto


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precarious position where your success could easily collapse and crumble.


Yeah, mention those again, Tom. And please, everyone listening, write these down, because this is obviously the foundation.

TOM VENUTO: Right, the foundation.

Pillar number one is Strength Training. Weight lifting, in my opinion, is the best form of strength training, and I strongly recommend that every man and woman start a weight training program immediately. Don’t wait until after you’ve lost the fat—

start now. But I do know a lot of people who start strength training with body weight exercises instead of barbells, dumbbells, or machines. I mean, if you do a push-up, you are lifting your body weight...



TOM VENUTO: ...There are various forms of strength training, but some form of strength training must be in the mix if you want to be successful, long-term. Without it, you’re going to lose muscle when you diet.

The second pillar is Cardio Training, which is also known as aerobic exercise, which could be walking, jogging, cycling, cardio machines, classes—whatever you enjoy.

The third pillar is Nutrition; and the fourth is Mental Training—

addressing various issues on a subconscious level, setting goals, looking at your value and belief systems, and becoming more aware of what you think about and dwell on mentally every day.

Now, once you have those four pillars in place, you’re going to start getting good results—guaranteed. And that’s when you can fine-tune and start nitpicking and working on specific details and using “little known secrets” to take it to an even higher level.

Some of the techniques in my program that aren’t so well known in the mainstream, are ways to accelerate fat loss by customizing your nutrition and training program. No two people are the same.

There are different body types, different body structures, and there are different metabolic types. 9


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I think one of the most important distinctions that you can make is to understand how well your body processes carbohydrates. In other words, are you carb-tolerant or carb-intolerant? One of the big debates in nutrition today is still, “Should you do the low-carb diet, or do you do the high-carb diet, or somewhere in the middle?” Ultimately, the truth for most people will probably lie somewhere in the middle, with balance. “Balance” is just common sense in my book. But some people will undoubtedly do better with a little bit less carbohydrates; some people with a little bit more. So what I teach people is how to tweak and fine-tune your carbohydrate level to fit your body type and your metabolic type.

It’s really important to understand your body type. There’s an entire chapter in my book about how to figure out your body type and how to tweak and fine-tune your nutrition program to fit your body type. Understanding that one size doesn’t fit all is very, very important.


Now is that information difficult for people to understand and apply?

TOM VENUTO: It’s very simple. You know, some people have complex nutrition systems where they talk about metabolic typing, and they may have you go and get blood tests, or you may have to fill out a complex questionnaire. Those things are fine and can be helpful, but what I do is much, much simpler.

What I recommend is to start with a baseline. This baseline consists of fundamentals that apply universally to almost everyone. Without these fundamentals in place, the fine tuning will have much less impact on your results. Once you have your baseline in place, you can simply begin to systematically adjust your intake one variable at a time, things like grams of carbohydrates, for example, and by getting in a feedback loop, you can figure out exactly how your body processes and responds to food in a very, very short period of time.

So you start on the baseline plan. You follow the plan for seven days and then you measure. The way to measure is not just with the scale, but you measure body fat. You can do that with a variety of methods. The most common is the skinfold caliper. Then you’ll 10 Tom Venuto


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figure out how much of your weight is fat, how much is muscle, and you’ll see the difference over the previous week.

If you improve, then you don’t change anything. You just keep doing the same thing. You find what works. You do more of what works.

If a week goes by and you don’t improve, then you’re going to make an adjustment. You’ll tweak one of the nutrition or training variables that I explain in my program (such as your food type selections, your carb gram intake, your caloric intake, or the intensity, frequency, or duration of your cardio training). Then you continue for another week with your newly adjusted regimen and measure results again.

Iit’s primarily a matter of getting yourself into a feedback loop and adjusting your program based on your results. A lot of people tend to get caught up on a rigid system, following rules, and yet they’re not paying attention to their actual real world results. That’s really what it’s all about; the results you get.


You know, I taught a class one night, which I do monthly for my clients. I have a lot of nurses that come to me, you know, wanting to stay healthy, being in the health field. And one of them mentioned the blood test that you were talking about and said it was very expensive. And yet, I don’t think that it really mattered because, after she got the results, she didn’t know what to do with them. And what you’re saying is that by just learning this information in your system and in your program, in your book, that people can do this in the privacy of their home. Quite frankly, it’s understandable that some people are embarrassed to get all kinds of tests, and they’d like to be able to do this on their own, because they don’t want to be embarrassed with themselves. So there is an expedience factor there, and there’s a comfort zone in your system as well.

Now, Tom, when I was looking at your site, I noticed that Chad Tackett, who’s the President and CEO of, wrote, “Tom Venuto, in my opinion, is the leading, very best fitness expert and author of our time, and much of my and our clients’ success is due to his teachings. He and his fat loss system 11


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are on the cutting edge of science and don’t miss a nutritional tip, trick, secret, or strategy in achieving amazing results. What’s more, they are offered in an easy-to-understand and easy-to-follow format.”

That’s very impressive. But you know, Tom, honesty is the only key here, and honestly, I can say anything and you can say anything, and people expect us to say things like this, and a lot of people listening may expect somebody like Chad Tackett to say something like this. However, I also saw in the stacks of testimonials that I know you have, that there are some really, really impressive success stories. And I’d like to read a few of them because real people experiencing real results are what really matter.

Let’s face it: it doesn’t matter if somebody who has all the tools and all the appliances and all the fitness equipment available to them can make this happen. But I want to hear about people in real-life situations who have to get through their day.

Jerry McBride of Philadelphia, wrote, “When I started the program in September, I was 248 pounds with 24% body fat. With Tom’s information, I’ve been able to lose 43 pounds, all of it fat.

My body fat is now 12%. I also no longer spend $400 a month on supplements.”

And another from Tracy Heptin, who said, “Thank God for your program, because I’ve only been on it for just over a week and I’m already seeing results. I’m fitting into pants that I couldn’t get into seven days ago. It’s a wonderful thing to finally find something that works. How refreshing.”

And one more that I thought stood out, from Lynn Ramirez in California, “Burn The Fat, Feed the Muscle has changed my life. I have lost three dress sizes in four months and feel better than ever before, and I now have my husband on the program. If we can do it with four kids and full-time jobs, anyone can.”

Wow, that’s amazing. Not only did they get quick results, but they saved money too. No pills or drugs, which—as I spoke of in the FDA’s report—can cause physical harm and danger. But it’s also 12 Tom Venuto


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done with a busy schedule with four kids. So Tom, tell us: How much time is needed for your system?

TOM VENUTO: Well, one of the things you have to do first is look at this as a lifestyle change, not a temporary change. There are new things you’re going to have to do everyday. What you ultimately want is for the things you need to do every day to become habits, where they’re completely ingrained into your lifestyle. Especially on the nutrition side of things, you want to get to the point where you don’t have to think about them consciously anymore. So you’re reaching for the right foods and taking the right actions every single day, automatically, just as easily as you would take a shower, or brush your teeth or get dressed in the morning. These are behaviors that are ongoing, so I wouldn’t look at them in terms of a time investment as much as habit development and lifestyle change.

If your perspective is, “Okay, I’m going to be on this diet for 12

weeks,” and you say, “This is going to take 12 weeks of my time,”

I think you’re setting yourself up for failure. What happens on day one of week 13? You have to have a long-term perspective. It’s got to be a part of your life. You’re going to eat the same foods as a lifestyle when you want to maintain your results for the rest of your life as you do when you want to lose body fat. The difference is, you’re going to eat a little bit less, you’re going to eat smaller portions, and you’re going to exercise more.

In terms of time required for your exercise program, you can really get good results with as little as three days a week, 45 minutes to an hour. What you must do during the time you spend is make some time for some strength training and for some time for cardio training. Both need to be a priority.

Now, when your goal is fat loss and losing fat at the maximum rate, it’s beneficial to add additional cardio, beyond three days a week, but as I mentioned earlier, the amount should be based on your results. It’s hard to put a specific number on how much time it’s going to take, but in general, I think that everybody should be committing themselves to about three days a week and making that a part of their lifestyle. 13


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If you want to burn more calories in order to increase fat loss, then you can do the cardiovascular workouts more often. I know some people who exercise every day or do it six days a week with one complete rest day per week. Ultimately, however, there is no magic number of days per week or minutes per day. What you must do is adjust your exercise frequency and duration according to your results. My Burn The Fat program explains exactly how to do that.


Now, when you mentioned cardio and strength, I had a client recently tell me that he has a friend who’s pretty fit, and he has pretty much tried to dominate his thinking, telling him he absolutely must get 45 minutes of cardio every time they go to the gym. This client of mine tells me that when he was in a program doing 20 minutes of cardio mixed with his strength training, he had better results doing less. Is this another trial and error, like you mentioned previously, with the carb intake and the types of food you’ll eat, that you put forth the effort to do “X” amount of time cardio and “X” amount of time strength training. And if you are or are not getting results, you shift and change?

TOM VENUTO: Yes, trial and error is a part of it, but you can bypass most of the trial and error by starting with a proven baseline diet and training system as your foundation. You can adjust from there if necessary, based on how your body responds. For example, the baseline for cardio training is my recommendation of three days a week at the appropriate heart rate and intensity. Add more if necessary, but use a proven and logical starting point.

With cardio, there are also ways you can make your workouts a lot more time efficient, which is probably what the person you mentioned did in order to get more results in less time. High-intensity interval training is one example, where you would do a minute or two of moderate intensity exercise followed by a minute of high intensity exercise, where you’re really pushing the heart rate above your normal training zone, and then you drop back down to moderate. You’d repeat these intervals for the duration of your workout.

What research has shown is that, not only does this burn a lot of calories during the workout, it keeps your metabolism elevated 14 Tom Venuto


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afterward for a longer period of time than if you go with low-intensity, long duration cardio such as walking. So there are ways, if you are extremely busy like so many people are these days, that you can make your workouts more time efficient. But I think you also need to have the willingness to do what it takes to reach your goal as well as have a certain amount of flexibility in your program.

Too many weight loss programs are extremely dogmatic and recommend only one type of workout, as if there were only one way to do it. There are some programs out there today that say,

“Follow my program or else!” “The workout is 20 minutes three days a week, period,” and there’s no flexibility. It’s really more effective in the long-term if you allow yourself flexibility.

Look at your baseline program as a starting point, then fine-tune your senses and pay attention to your results and get measurements, get feedback, and adjust your program according to your results. I think that’s what most people miss. They get so lost in the dogma of a particular program or guru’s formula, that they’re not willing to experiment or change or test new things that might be the key to greater results.


That makes complete sense. Establish a baseline, get the fundamentals in place, then be flexible enough to make changes if it’s necessary.

Okay, assuming you have that down, I asked you earlier about some of your best nutritional secrets. Can you give us some more of those specific and simple secrets of nutrition that people can begin applying immediately after they hear what we’re talking about today?

TOM VENUTO: Sure. Let me finish going over a few of the basics, and then give you some secrets on how you can fine-tune that and really take it to the next level.

The fundamentals in nutrition, when people hear them, sound so much like plain common sense that they tend to disregard their importance, because they’re looking for some new breakthrough.

But here’s where you have to start: It all starts with calories. 15


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“Calories in” versus “calories out.” There are people who dispute the calorie theory, but energy expenditure is easily quantified and measured, and energy balance is a simple law of physics. If you want to lose body fat, you need to burn more calories than you take in, period.


It sounds pretty simple.

TOM VENUTO: Yeah, simple. Sometimes not easy, but it is simple. The lesson here is to watch your portion size. Don’t overeat in one sitting.

Many people don’t realize, especially when eating in a restaurant, that their meal has 1,000 calories or more. A typical meal for losing body fat for women is probably going to be in the neighborhood of 300 or 250 calories, and for men a little bit higher than that, maybe 400 to 475 calories. If you’re eating healthy foods, natural foods, lean proteins, unprocessed carbohydrates, fruits and vegetables, that’s a lot of volume. So you don’t ever have to go hungry if you choose the right foods.

When you combine the law of calorie balance with eating small frequent meals, there’s no need to ever go hungry. My clients are often surprised at how much food they can eat, when it’s clean, healthy food. They’re used to restaurant food, packaged food, and a lot of fast food which is highly concentrated, calorie-dense food.

So you need to pay attention to calorie density. Refined foods have more calories packed into a smaller unit of volume, so it’s easier to overconsume calories.

I recommend counting calories in the beginning, in the form of creating a menu. I like to create menus on a spreadsheet or using nutrition software. I will print out a menu that has all the calories, proteins, carbs, and fat all added up, and then you have a visual.

This lets you see your calories. It’s like an eating goal for the day.

You can take your menu and, with a magnet, stick it on the refrigerator, and there’s your menu right in front of you every day.

So be aware of calories. Spread them throughout the day in four, five, or six small meals, as opposed to two or three big meals.

Next, you have to balance your macronutrients in every meal, meaning, eat a lean protein and a natural carbohydrate with every 16 Tom Venuto


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meal. Lean proteins include lean meat, chicken, turkey, fish, egg whites, and you can supplement with protein powder if you want to, but emphasize the whole foods first. Then combine your lean protein with a natural carbohydrate.

Some people lump all carbs in the same category, and some people think that carbohydrates are fattening. What you need to do is to make better distinctions between processed, refined carbs and natural carbs. Natural carbs are the foods that grow from the ground or from a plant or tree. That includes sweet potatoes, brown rice, all the vegetables, fruits, beans, legumes, and whole oats. Those are some of the natural carbs. So each meal now has a lean protein and a complex carb. You can also include small amounts of the healthy fats from sources like flax oil, fish oil, flax seed, fatty fish, seeds, nuts, almonds, walnuts, extra virgin olive oil. You now have a balance between the macronutrients: proteins, carbohydrates, and fats.


You just mentioned powders and whole foods. That went by quickly, but I think it’s very important to go back to that for a moment.

We can walk into a store and let’s pick one of the—we won’t say the brand name—but a store that’s very popular, and there are walls and walls and walls of powders and mixes and shakes. I’m sure that there’s a benefit to introducing some of these products to your body. However, a lot of people will omit the foods and replace with these powders. Please speak on that for a moment.

TOM VENUTO: Sure. Some of the products may have functional properties or health benefits, and many are great for convenience like protein powder, or meal replacement products, which usually come in a packet and have protein and carbs, and you make it into a shake and “drink your meal.” But some people overdo it. The idea of two shakes a day and a so-called healthy dinner, that’s not effective.

What you want to do is emphasize whole foods first. When you have a choice, choose whole foods over supplements.


I don’t think I’ve ever heard that before, Tom. That’s enlightening. 17


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TOM VENUTO: Well, there’s so much push for supplements these days and so much advertising, that I’m not surprised you haven’t heard it before.


The profit margin dictates, right?

TOM VENUTO: Right. I emphasize food because no supplement, powder, drink, or meal replacement will ever be better than real food. I don’t emphasize supplements because I’m not associated or affiliated with any supplement company. When you read my book, you’ll realize that it’s not just a promotional vehicle to sell supplements.

Most of the advice you read these days serves the bottom line of a supplement or diet pill company rather than serving your body.

You can get everything you need from whole foods. Supplements should be used for convenience.

Now, the five or six small meals a day is the biggest challenge for most people. Clients tell me, “How do you do it? Five or six meals means you’re eating every three hours.” The meal replacement can be really beneficial in situations where you have a hard time getting all the meals in. If you’re traveling, you simply replace one or maybe at the most two of the meals with a meal replacement shake, and that can allow you to easily get the five or six small meals into a busy day.


But Tom, when you say meal, I know a lot of people right now are picturing a dinner plate and variety of foods. What can a meal consist of?

TOM VENUTO: Well, that goes back to when I was talking about balancing your macronutrients. Macronutrients are just protein, carbs, and fats. If you visualize your plate, on one side of your plate you put a lean protein. That’s the foundation of your meal, the lean protein food.

If we’re talking about dinner, maybe that would be salmon or chicken breast. Okay? So you have a lean protein, but that’s not a complete meal yet. To balance it, you need a natural carb, so for example, you put brown rice on your plate. Then you could add a fibrous carb, which could be a green vegetable, so maybe you add asparagus or broccoli to your plate, or maybe a green salad with salad vegetables.

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The amount of protein tends to be somewhat fixed, while the amount of carbs can vary quite a bit. There is a small amount of good fats in that salmon, the essential fatty acids, so you don’t have to add in additional fat. So there you have a very, very well balanced, whole food meal.


Now, there’s something I know a lot of people have a misconception of. They think that, at first, they’re feeling hungry, and their subconscious, their instinctive self is sending them that signal, “Hey, you have to eat. You know, we need to survive here, and I’m sending you a signal that it’s time to feed the body. Fuel the system.” But then they ignore it and the hunger pain gets stronger and stronger. And I know that a lot of people, from what I hear through my clients, is that the stronger that hunger pain is, the more they think they need to eat. Now is this true?

TOM VENUTO: Well, you have to distinguish between physiological hunger and emotional hunger, or...


Let’s talk about real growl, that physical emptiness in your stomach and how the feeling can get stronger and stronger. As it gets stronger, as you feel hungrier, physiologically, do you really require more food at that time?

TOM VENUTO: Usually, that’s a pretty good indication that you do need to eat.

Your body is sending you signals for a reason. But you probably won’t get that kind of ravenous hunger if you choose your meal frequency and food choices properly. The most common daily menu pattern I see is skipping breakfast, or having a skimpy breakfast like coffee and a bagel, and that’s not really a substantial meal. If you would eat a substantial breakfast—in fact, make it the biggest meal of the day—and if you would get a mid-morning snack or small meal, and if you would get that lunchtime balanced meal, then you’re already on meal four in the middle of the afternoon. When you get to dinner, you’re not going to have those ravenous hunger pains, cravings, and a growling stomach.

If you’re combing the foods properly and you’re avoiding refined sugars, and you’re eating lean protein and enough good fat, your blood sugar and insulin aren’t going to be yo-yoing all over the place, which triggers that type of hunger. 19


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Your food choices have a tremendous impact on your appetite and level of hunger. So if you’re experiencing really severe hunger, you might want to ask yourself, “What’s the cause? Am I skipping meals? Am I eating too much sugar? When I’m starving later on, am I overeating as a result of that? Or am I feeding myself, like stoking a furnace, in small amounts at regular intervals throughout the day, keeping my blood sugar and insulin on an even keel and my hunger under control?”


That’s great. You know, you mentioned food portions. A lot of people think if they eat—and we hear this contradiction all the time from different sources—you can eat anything you want, as long as you eat a small amount. Or you can eat all you want, as long as you’re eating the right foods. So if your food portions are small, does that mean that people can get away with eating the foods that they really shouldn’t?

TOM VENUTO: For most of my clients, except maybe competitive bodybuilders, I like to go by a 90/10 rule, because if you try to be too strict and you limit yourself to totally natural food groups and you don’t allow yourself that free meal every once in a while, you may be setting yourself up for cravings and binging. You may be setting yourself up for failure.

If you build into your program a little bit of flexibility and give yourself two or three free meals a week, or you allow yourself some leeway for things that just happen to you in life, like birthdays, holidays, and parties, and let yourself enjoy those, you’re more likely to stick with your plan the rest of the time. It becomes more do-able because you’ve allowed yourself that wiggle room, because you’ve said it’s okay, and given yourself permission in advance to eat what you want 10% of the time.

You’re going to be much more likely to stick with it in the long-haul, than if you’re on a totally rigid diet.

You should allow yourself small amounts of the things you enjoy every week. On the other hand, you can’t eat unlimited amounts of any food, even if it’s healthy food. Too much of anything will get stored as fat, even the healthy food. So on your “cheat days” or

“free days,” enjoy what you want, but always, always be mindful of the law of calorie balance.

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So it’s important to keep a balance and to not create internal spite.

I even recall, years ago, hearing Jake ( Body By Jake), say,

“Saturday is when I allow myself a piece of pizza.” So that way, you decrease that little spiteful mode that may kick in, in feeling that deprivation and sacrifice?

TOM VENUTO: Exactly. There’s even some physiology behind allowing yourself to eat more periodically, in terms of caloric intake and food quantity.

When you’re in a calorie deficit, and the caloric deficit is very aggressive, your body can perceive that as starvation, and it begins to fight your efforts to lose fat by decreasing your metabolism.

Your rate of calorie burning slows down, your appetite increases, and all kinds of hormonal and enzymatic changes take place that will make it more difficult to lose fat in the future if you keep cutting calories even further. So it’s actually a physiologically correct idea to eat substantially more food every few days, or to have a day each week when you eat more.


Now, you just mentioned enzymes and internal processing. I think that’s very important, because you see this much more than I, being a physical fitness trainer and owning gyms, how the revolving door is incredible, how people give up so quickly. Can you explain to the people listening how important it is to know and understand what’s going on internally before they even see the external results?

TOM VENUTO: There are so many things going on inside the body as a result of dieting, the physiology could fill an entire book. One of the things that I believe—and I think that anyone who wants to lose body fat should really tune in to this—is that it’s possible to get results every single week. But most often, because of the way the body works and they way your body has multiple redundant systems to protect you from starvation, people tend to zigzag their way to a goal. There are weeks when everything goes perfectly, and they hit their weekly target. Some weeks they’re ahead of their weekly target. Some weeks they’re a little bit below it, and some weeks go by and nothing happens. 21