Tom Venuto's

The Stubborn Fat Solution Book Review

Tom Venuto

I recently read Lyle McDonald’s Stubborn Fat” book. In fact I read it twice, and I don’t read many books twice. After posting a two part interview with Lyle on how to get rid of stubborn body fat, I’ve been asked about whether it’s worth buying the book, so I’ve written up this short review. If you have any other questions, feel free to post them in the comments and I will answer or possibly even get Lyle to help


The Stubborn Fat Solution By Lyle Mcdonald,
Book Review by Tom Venuto

It was reading Lyle’s new Stubborn Fat book that prompted me to contact him personally for a 2-part interview because I was impressed with the amount of thought and work that went into the book (Lyle said it was the culmination of a 10 year research project). Since I have a pet interest in techniques to reach very low body fat levels, I found the book to be fascinating, although it may be too technical and advanced for some people. It’s definitely a science book.

The most important question is: does this stubborn fat protocol really work? The answer is, I don’t know. There are no clinical research trials confirming greater fat loss using Lyle’s protocol as compared to others, but I can say that Lyle’s theory is well-grounded in science and it makes perfect sense. Every assertion he makes is backed up with scientific references (he included a thorough bibiliography).

Personally, I haven’t used his method for an entire cutting or competition cycle, so I can’t speak from experience yet. Like most men, my lower abdominal fat is the last place to go, but I have never had a real problem getting rid of lower ab fat that I couldn’t solve with a little more time and persistence dieting.

Interesting enough, the strictest version of my own bodybuilding competition diet is about 25-30% carbs (as outlined in Burn The Fat Feed The Muscle, chapter 12 - the Phase III or competition diet), whereas Lyle’s recommended carb level is very close to that at 20%. We may have been observing the same thing: getting that very last bit of fat off may be easier on a low carb diet (but not a ketogenic or zero carb diet), because low carbs may be having an effect on the alpha-2 receptors, while at the same time controlling insulin, appetite and caloric intake.

Some of Lyle’s informal test subjects like Tommy Jeffers have claimed impressive results. I will be most interested to hear from women particularly bodybuilding, fitness or figure competitors who have had trouble with lower body fat in the past and have placed lower in competition than they would have liked. I think the greatest promise for these methods lies in helping women who have had trouble going from lean to super lean.

The information on female physiology was the one part of the book that stood out and piqued my interest the most. I learned several things I did NOT know before. The differences between men and women may be more significant than some of us male trainers/nutritionists have previously thought. I think women will appreciate the fact that these differences are being acknowledged, so they feel their situation is understood. But moreover, a solution to the problem has been proposed which is based on science.

Would I recommend this book? If you’re a science or physiology “geek” like I am, then definitely get a copy for your library - don’t even hesitate. It’s worth it for the research references alone. If you’re not scientifically inclined, this book may be too heavy of a read. It does read in places like a scientific journal, although I have to give Lyle great credit for making some very complicated science understandable enough for a non-scientist.

I would also recommend this book if you’re already lean, but you have trouble with certain pockets of stubborn fat. If you’re female and you have trouble with lower body fat, even after your upper body is already lean, then again I would definitely recommend reading this book.

You could always flip to the last section of the book and just get the exercise and diet recommendations, thereby skipping all the science stuff, but overall, this book will be appreciated the most by people who appreciate science and physiology.

The book is self-published and professionally printed. It’s 93 pages long so you can read it in one or two sittings. The majority of the book is a lesson in the physiology of fat: what is body fat, types of body fat, fat cell metabolism, burning body fat, hormones and body fat, and why is some fat stubborn.

The last three chapters cover the diet, exercise and supplement prototols. This section is “the program” itself.

The final 9 pages contain all the scientific journal citations, which is priceless if you’re interested in the research.

If you are very overweight, this book may not apply to you, unless you are the aformentioned “science geek” with a curious and inquiring mind. To avoid confusion or information overload, work on the basics first, or as a trainer once said, “you don’t have stubborn fat, you’re just fat.” The last bit of stubborn fat is a moot point if you still have 50 pounds to lose.

As Lyle said in the interview, this protocol is for people who are already lean (men at 10-12% body fat or less) and women at 15-17% body fat or less, who have dieted down faithfully and still had trouble with certain areas.

I can definitely give a “BUY” recommendation for Lyle’s new Stubborn Fat book provided you keep in mind who it was written for. It’s an impressive piece of work and personally, I really enjoyed reading it.

The stubborn fat book is available at Lyle’s website here:


Published on 26 December, 2008


jim miller said:

tom,do you believe personally that stubborn fat really exist,or is it simply a matter of getting your body fat to a level that's low enough where "stubborn" fat is gone?

Posted on Jan 10, 2009 04:40 PM

tom venuto said:

Hi Jim. Did you read both parts of the interview, by chance? Lyle makes a pretty strong case and backs up every assertion with meticulous research.

But as I said in the interview, I do NOT really experience what I would call stubborn fat personally, but also as Lyle and I discusssed, its a greater problem with females. Ask some of your lady friends what THEY think, lol!

Train hard!


Posted on Jan 10, 2009 06:22 PM said:

I've read The Ketogenic Diet about a decade ago--great stuff. I have no reason to believe Lyle writes anything but high quality, well-researched books.

Posted on Feb 03, 2009 08:26 AM

Alex said:

nice post Tom thanks,

Lyle books are usually high quality. so i expect this one to live up to expectation.

Posted on Jul 09, 2009 09:59 PM

Tommy Jeffers said:

Hey guys - I realize this is nearing a year later, but I just happen to see this review and the question by Jim MIller and I would like to chime in with my thoughts for anyone else who finds this review!

Being a bodybuilder that has been down to the "stubborn fat" level, I can honestly say without a doubt, that there is such a thing. And if you think about it, it's essentially our body's last defense to dying of starvation...which is why it is so "stubborn".

Now, under normal circumstances, the only individuals I can see stubborn fat even being a relative topic to discuss are bodybuilders who need to reach that level for a short period of time. But, I will say the once there, it becomes a lot trickier to keep the fat loss moving along. This is where most people claim all their muscle loss happens when they are not using the right methods (which by the way are explained and outlined in the book). You really need to understand the science of the body at that point if you are going to make any head way on the last bit of fat.

Hope this helps!

Tommy Jeffers (half naked guy on the cover lol)

Posted on Nov 14, 2009 01:49 AM

Post a comment

If you haven't left a comment here before, you may need to be approved by the site owner before your comment will appear. Until then, it won't appear on the entry. Thanks for waiting.

Please enter the letter "n" in the field below: