Is Occam’s Protocol good if you have weight to lose?

Are you thinking about losing some fat this summer? Maybe you’ve targeted 10 or 15 pounds, and you just can’t wait to see it disappear. If it’s time to see a change, you might be thinking about including some exercise. But what’s right to do? Running round the block a few times, lifting weights, or going for an aerobics class? If you’ve read the book, you will know about Occam’s Protocol – and of course, you may be wondering if it’s a good option for fat loss, even though its in the ‘building muscle’ section of the book. Get the definitive answer, and be confident that you’re on your way to getting the results you want right now!

The good news is that most forms of short, intense exercise are going to help you lose fat.

But of course, that casts the net pretty wide, and you need a specific idea of what you’re going to do if you’re going to make a plan and be able to stick to it.

Have you heard the one about the…?

It’s a common old tale – the lady who’s hitting the cardio machines at the gym for 1 or 2 hours every day, even going in on the weekend, and leaving buckets of sweat behind while she’s chalking up hundreds, and thousands of burned calories on the stepper, treadmill or the rowing machine. She’s been at it for the last 8 weeks – and she’s sure that if she can stick with her 2 hours a day, 6 days per week schedule, then she’s bound to hit her goal in a few months. But then, she’s so tired that she doesn’t have any energy for her family, she struggles at work, and she tries to eat the bare minimum to get through the day, so those afternoon cups of coffee are getting to be a familiar friend.

This story is unfortunately also a recipe – a recipe for loss of muscle, stubborn fat loss plateaus and injuries. Though some people (only some) get some results when they start exercising like this, it seems like the effects wear off far too quickly for lasting changes to come.

You’ll notice that there’s no mention of how she’s eating in that story, and no mention of when she rests, and for how long. And that’s too common too – overdoing it at the gym, and not getting enough sleep will almost definitely leave you with no energy, but still with those pounds you’d like to see disappear.

So what’s the new story?

The new one is about the woman who’s at the gym 3 days a week, she’s pushing some weights twice a week, and she’s doing an intense, short session the other day. She doesn’t know too many faces at the gym, because she’s only there for about 25 minutes each visit, and the rest of the week she spends time with her family, and has time to sleep as much as she needs. She spends a few hours on the weekend cooking up meals for the week, and she’s well planned when she’s eating out, or putting together convenient meals on the go.

Her story is one of energy, feeling relaxed and getting fat loss results she wants. And she knows that she’ll easily keep this up for as long as she wants, but that the results that are coming will mean her goal is her’s in the near future.

So what’s the difference?

There’s a few, of course, but the main difference is that our second girl is doing activity that prompts her body to build new muscle, and hold onto what she’s got. The first poor example is wearing out her muscles, and contributing to their breakdown, but not making progress like she wants to.

Doing exercise that builds muscle means doing something that truly challenges your muscles to their maximum capability. Doing something ‘tough’ doesn’t really cut it here – we’re talking about doing something to your limit, and pushing that limit week to week. It doesn’t take much, but hitting a high point of effort like this has some great results in your body.

Weren’t we talking about Occam’s Protocol?

We were.

And so this brings up full circle, back to where we started.

Occam’s Protocol is an excellent example of doing something that challenges muscles to an intense level, so that they will grow and develop. Doing such exercises while losing fat will inevitably result in less muscle being lost, and fat being continually lost.

So, a weights workout like Occam’s Protocol is an excellent selection, for a man or a woman, who has fat loss as their goal.

The important factor is that only the weights program is followed – do not follow the food recommendations of Occam’s Protocol, or you’ll find yourself stuck with fat you don’t want. Stick with the slow carb meals, and avoid the protein shakes, rice or quinoa, and you’ll be doing well. You might need to add some protein to your meals, or some more beans at times, but realistically these workouts aren’t about burning through huge amounts of calories, but challenging your body to grow more muscle tissue.

If you’re thinking about fat loss, and you’re tempted to start a weights program, I’d recommend Occam’s Protocol as an excellent starting point.

You might be interested in reading these too:

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  2. Is it too late to lose fat for summer? Health is great all year round. Feeling fit feels good whether its raining, snowing or sunny. But let's face it: a lot of us look at the summer months as a milestone, or...
  3. 10 Occam’s Workouts done – Occam’s Protocol Results If you're wondering whether the Occam's Protocol workouts can really get results, and if it's worth trying them, consider this: my punchcard cost less than $100, and my total gym time so far...

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15 Responses to Is Occam’s Protocol good if you have weight to lose?

  • Charlie George says:

    This seems like an interesting option. I suppose one cant expect muscle weight gain that is common in Occam’s along with the Feeding but can one expect regular strength gains doing occam’s in this manner?

    • Luke says:

      Hi Charlie,

      Good question. It’s true you probably won’t get the huge muscle gains, however some muscle gain is to be expected. Generally speaking, strength gains will be in proportion to muscle gains – the bigger the muscle, the more it can lift/push. So you’ll still get stronger too, but not as much as if you used Occam’s Feeding (in which case fat loss wouldn’t be the priority).
      All the best!

  • Iain says:

    SO if we were to use a slow carb diet and exercise using occam’s, then we’d be loosing more fat as we’re not adding more protein in order to build muscle but instead using our stored fat as energy? Could we possibly loose muscle mass doing this i.e. catabolism ?

    • Luke says:

      Hi Iain,

      Great question! In theory, what you said is true. Though your question about catabolism is valid. Most likely it’d be a good idea to consume more protein than otherwise, but weight training tends to have a muscle sparing effect, not a muscle wasting effect.
      The most useful metaphor I’ve read is that if a company is downsizing, it might shed 1 or 2 staff from each department, but if, for example the Sales department is clearly necessary to the running of the business, no staff may be shed from Sales. Similarly, if the body is aware of a demand on muscles, it tends to spare the muscle tissue. After all, muscle wasting/catabolism really only occurs in starvation/semi starvation situations, whereas slow carb allows the body to get as many extra calories as it needs from stored bodyfat (due to insulin not being present in the bloodstream). Where you see catabolism is in calorie restricted diets that include carbohydrates (and hence insulin is present, which blocks fat being used as energy).

      In general, I’d never suggest anyone go below 1500 calories per day of dietary energy (food), and controlling carbohydrates means the body’s stored fat will make up the shortfall between this amount and daily requirements.
      I hope that answers you’re question!

      All the best,

  • Riz says:

    Hi Luke,
    Thank for very much. Article is very informative. My question is that, apart from the protocol, would it be bad idea to do Swimming and running on off days?

    I have been loosing fat by doing 2 days swimming per week, however it recently stalled and I decided to take on Occam’s protocol. I am worried that I will waste few weeks before I realize that I am actually loosing muscle instead of FAT. Since Occam’s protocol requires 2 days rest at least between workouts, I am wondering if normal cardio exercises such as swimming and running would hurt my chances of loosing fat?


    • Luke says:

      Hi Riz,

      Good question. Working out too much certainly could lead to breaking down muscle, which we don’t want. My suggestion though is that you can include swimming and running in a constructive way, and it should help you. I suggest a protocol like this:

      Occams | Rest Day | Swimming | Occams | Rest day | Running | Rest day

      The important things to note:
      - The swimming and running days assume you are doing only 20 minutes of interval training. Not extended periods of endurance training.
      - After 1 month, you include an extra rest day after the Occam’s Days, meaning this becomes a 9 day cycle.

      See how you do!
      All the best with it,

  • Robin says:

    I used to learn about exactly what i needed to buy, eat, and do. had a sample diet plan as well.

    • Luke Starbuck says:

      I appreciate that you’ve put together this info in one place – but please reconsider your decision to republish copyrighted photos of Tim Ferriss on your website. You may receive a lawyer’s letter. Instead, go and take your own photos of the same exercises.

  • rafael says:

    NOTE: i wrote a similar message in the “contact us” form, but there was no indication or notice that the message was received. the field just went blank after submitting comment, so i am posting here as well. thanks

    hi luke,

    if my goal is to be lean with very toned muscle (maybe “cut” is the best term) with a flat 6 pack, is occam’s protocol (including kettlebell swing and 6 minute abs) with the slowcarb diet going to achieve this? I haven’t found a clear answer to this yet.


    • Luke Starbuck says:

      Hey Rafael,
      It’s a great start for sure. People differ – slow carb might get you down to 10% bodyfat, or maybe 8%. 8% is around what you’re talking about, most likely. If slow carb doesn’t get you down that low, you may need to switch to lower carb and interval training for a time.
      All the best,

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