Crack the Fat Loss Code

By Mike Howard

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Learning how to “outsmart your metabolism” and “conquer the diet plateau” seems to be a run-of-the-mill promise amongst diet books. It implies a “switch” or a “mode” whereby your body transforms into a machine that burns fat, rather than one which stores it. When you open such books, though, you find an abundance of opinions that vary in their scientific validity, practicality and flat-out saneness. We’ll now explore the ideas of author Wendy Chant in her book “Crack the Fat Loss Code – Outsmart Your Metabolism and Conquer the Diet Plateau.“You don’t have to read very far into the book to discover that Wendy knows what she’s talking about. She explains complex physiological processes in a very easy-to-understand manner and provides some very good analogies to illustrate her points. The basic premise of the book is this;

Our ancient make-up doesn’t want to lose body fat and will revolt against any attempt to lose. The 5 keys to for achieving efficient fat loss are;

  1. Protect and support muscle: Be sure to have adequate muscle by working at them
  2. Level blood sugar: Keep blood sugar from spiking and subsequently keeping insulin levels from rising too high
  3. Create an energy deficit: Keeping calories under control so that the body taps into fat stores sooner.
  4. Produce heat: This has to do with the frequency of meals. Eating more often will allow the body to continue to produce heat and thus burn more fat.
  5. Manipulate energy stores: This has to do with a strategy called “macro-patterning”, a phenomenon that involves carefully regulating how and when you take in protein, fat and carbohydrates to avoid storing more fat.

In terms of the dietary plan, the global message is that it is a lifestyle. I know, I know, everybody makes this claim, but not everyone’s plan is actually conducive to long-term sustainability. Chant’s nutritional philosophies can certainly be considered “lifestyle-based” as there are no gimmicks, no extremes and no food is outright forbidden.

In terms of the dietary specifics, the 8 week plan is divided into 4 cycles:
1. Carb-depletion cycle: Keeping carbs below 20g
2. Macropatterning cycle: Complete with a “baseline days”, “carb-down days” and “carb-up” days.
3. Accelerated Fat-loss cycle: A re-hashed version of the macro-patterning cycle
4. Maintenance cycle: This is where the body re-adjusts to a higher nutrient profile

What I liked about this book

  • The information is for the most part very sound, well explained and based on science.
  • There are very specific directions and details regarding the protocol – all well laid out.
  • She includes meal plans and recipes complete with nutritional information.
  • The tone of the book is very motivational and would certainly appeal to a wide variety of readership, from the very remedial to the nutritionally-savvy.
  • The 4 cycles appear to be a good way to keep the body guessing and thus stimulate fat loss. To be honest, I’m not sure that these cycles have been put through any real peer-review studies.
  • There are testimonials sprinkled throughout the book, which show that Chant’s system has been successful, and also serves as motivation for the reader.

My Critique

Mostly nit-picky stuff, really but at the same time noteworthy. Here are some things I disagree with/feel could be improved:

  • Chant claims that men should not consume flaxseed oil due to risk of prostate cancer. This claim is highly theoretical and this kind of blanket advice is unwarranted.
  • There is also too much blanket statement-ry regarding fats. I think it is a major oversight to lump all polyunsaturated fats together when some are very healthful and others are counterproductive to health.
  • I realize it’s a diet book (lifestyle), but it would be great to have some guidance on exercise, particularly strength training – especially given that her number 1 key for fat loss, according to Chant is the maintenance of muscle.
  • I would have also included a section on creating the right mindset. I really feel that one must have the appropriate headspace to embark on such a major change.

Overall Impression

I found the book very easy to read and its principles sound – both scientifically and from a common sense perspective. I think people would really thrive on this way of eating, although the specifics do require some work on the dieter.

18 Comments

  1. gabriela

    Cucumber has fewer calories. Vegetables is one of the least calories: 10 calories per 100 grams. And as well furnished with fiber, minerals and water soluble vitamins, nutritional density turns out to be very interesting. It is a real plus for a diet and a healthy diet.

    Reply
  2. Nut

    can you order a meal plan log book? or do you have to create one from the actual book…..

    Reply
  3. Rene

    I did Atkins(Body for Life) about 5 years ago with some success. I lost 26 lbs over the 8 week program, but I found it was too carb restrictive. The minute I started adding carbs above 20 grams per day, the weight loss slowed immediately. I just started CTFLC last Monday and it looks like this “lifestyle” may be a little more realistic for me.. Good Luck!

    Reply
  4. bridget

    I have been on Atkins for 5 months and only lost 15 lbs so far I want to try Crack the Fat Loss Code Diet has anyone ever went from Atkins to CTFLC and had success.

    Reply
  5. Jacqueline

    My sister has been on the diet for a year. She does the first 8 weeks and takes a week off and then starts back over again. She has lost over 150 lbs.
    Yes, you read it right. She has been extremely over weight for years, and I am just a regular person that has a sister and brother-in-law that are on this diet. It works plain and simple.

    Reply
  6. jennsong09

    I am missing my milk! Can anyone tell me if and when you can have milk while doing the Crack the Fat Loss “diet.” I can’t imagine not having milk or yogurt anymore. Other than that, I am more than pleased with this program. I am about to start week two. Any comments on the milk topic would be MUCH appreciated!

    Reply
  7. LEE

    I am on day 7 and have lost 7 pounds. I do find the following weeks might be confusing. There are food lists you can substitute with. Butthere are also sample menu’s that contain food not on the food list. Am example is stuffed tomato’s. Also I dont see dairy anywhere. I am using veryyyy small of half/half in my coffee and still lost. I have questions about the program that are not addressed inthe book.

    Reply
  8. mkline

    I have been on this for three weeks now I’ve lost over eight pounds. It basically very high protein, very low carbs (have we heard this before). Very, very, very little fruit. No dairy. It maybe OK for a while but I am a firm believer that you need a variety of fruits and vegtables. I said I would stick to this for a month and see what happened. Getting tired of the same food. Being allergic to fish I have eaten alot of chicken, chicken, chicken. I find it expensive as you need protein powder, a ton of egg whites, special bread (made without flour) Well good luck if you plan on trying this, it takes planning and time to make your meals. P.S. Be prepared for CONSTAPATION, big time.

    Reply
  9. weblady

    I’ve been on this plan for about 10 days now. I think it is a very easy to follow plan. I had to go through the book and make pointers for myself as to what to eat and when. That would be the hardest part. I believe that I will be successful because it seems to be something I can live with…lower calories and better food selections.

    Reply
  10. Jenny

    I’m on week two of the “diet” and it certainly feels like a real diet to me. Week two is not much easier than week one if I have to keep all the portion sizes to the size of a fist and I can only have a 1/2 cup or one small serving of a starch. I lost about 8 lbs on week one and nothing since. Wanted to lose 15-20.

    Reply
  11. Phyl

    crack the fat loss code is just that. and let me tell you I don’t like to diet it is just too hard. I gave this a try along with my sister and I lost 16 lbs in 2 wks and my sis lost 25. she don’t like to diet either cause we both like our food. it takes support and determination.

    Reply
  12. Barry

    It amazes me that anyone can still write diet books when the basics of fat loss are so readily available.

    Look kids, if you want to lose fat and don’t know how, trust a guy named Lyle McDonald.

    bodyrecomposition dot com.

    Reply
  13. Peter

    Exactly … Don’t eat to much! I have always failed when it comes to eating the right sized portions. I feel so hungry if I don’t eat 50% more than a person my size should eat … so that’s where its been hard for me. Well ever since I found http://www.MyPortionPill.com/Ad.htm, I have had much more control in the amount of food I eat at every sitting, and I have already lost over 16lbs in just a few weeks.

    You just take this pill with water 30-40 minutes before a meal, and it expands in your stomach to make you feel full faster. You eat less food, and you will lose the weight.

    Reply
  14. Spectra

    Sounds like a book that simply provides an explanation as to why calorie cycling seems to help people lose weight. When I was on WW, a lot of people would eat low Points range one day and high Points range the next when they were on a plateau. Supposedly, eating that way made them lose weight. My personal theory is that when you vary your diet a lot, you tend to be more portion-conscious. Because if you’re going to indulge in a high-calorie sundae while on a diet, you’re probably going to want to know exactly how many calories you’re getting. But if you eat a plate of brown rice and steamed chicken every single day, it could be easy to fudge portion sizes and have your calorie count creep up.

    Reply
  15. blah

    Exercise,don’t eat too much, and avoid high GI foods. Doesn’t sound too earth shattering.

    As for all the cycling stuff, I am still waiting on some scientific evidence that that it helps people lose wait or that there is a phsiological basis for stating that we can “keep the body guessing and thus stimulate fat loss.”

    Reply
  16. Erica

    I appreciate your review and have found it helpful in determining what weight loss path I want to take. I have read about keeping “your blood sugar level”, and wonder how someone knows if this is even an issue for them.

    Reply
  17. gwen

    Protect and support muscle – I think is one of the most important things, in any weight loss
    the diet should be kind to your body and not aggressive one

    Reply
  18. Drew

    Great write up but this sounds like everything the Diet Blog is against. Pseudoscience, invalidated claims and gimmicky strategies and jargon. “Macro-patterning” – sounds like a macro ripoff.

    Reply