HSN Protocol: Smashing fat (I)

HSN Protocol: Smashing fat (I)

This protocol has been designed for those who dare to achieve almost impossible percentages of fat. With the HSN protocol, you will be able to achieve the extreme definition that you always wanted!

Let’s make things clear before starting the protocol

First of all, I do not believe that the diet is a 70% of the success.

Physical exercise, and specially high intensity exercise, is INDISPENSABLE to loose fat, since there are metabolic stimuli that can only be reached in this way.

For this and for many other factors, you will never see optimal results if you do not do exercise properly, even if you are careful with the diet. This is why this protocol is aimed at those who train with a high workload.

Sedentary people can experience a completely different result, and even gain fat.

The second thing I want to say is that this protocol is not based on a lineal diet, which means that the intake of calories and macronutrients will change throughout the week, and sometimes we will be closer to a ketogenic diet and other days we will be consuming more calories than what we need.

As we are going to see now, the expression of certain genes will happen more or less depending on the intake of fats or carbs, or even on the workout, and it is something that we have to understand.

Our biological system is dynamic and it adjusts depending on what we do and how we do it

The objective of this protocol is to adjust those expressions in order to create the perfect scenario so that the body loses fat without a strong opposition, which is impossible in a hypocaloric diet.

Calories Restriction

When we talk about losing fat, the first thing that probably comes to mind is:

I have to consume less calories than what we need

which meets the first law of thermodynamics:  

The energy is neither lost nor gained during transformations

This law can be illustrated in the following way:

▲E (Change in the amount of energy) is the difference between the calories that are consumed and the ones that are spent

In this way, if you spend more than what you consume, you will have a negative value, which means that you will lose weight. Everyone knows this, but our organism is not that simple to be reduced to this law.

So, what we get is that we can loose fat or muscle with the same caloric deficit, and even a combination of the two, which is why a calorie from proteins will act very differently to a calorie from carbs or fats, in fact, we can consume more calories than what we consume with a high protein diet and not gain any fat at all1.

During hypocaloric diets, our body does not only oxidize the fats throughout the day, but it also synthesizes them20. In fact, as you can see in this study, the synthesis and storing of fats was 5 times higher than in those mice that were under a caloric restriction than those that were AL (without caloric limit), possibly due to a higher expression of the enzyme that is in charge of synthesizing fat.

When we are following a hypocaloric diet our body is getting ready to recover the weight that it lost in the future, which means that a hypocaloric diet during a long period of time will not only be beneficial, but it could also be harmful for our health.

This means that most of people who are on a calories-restrictive diet can recover their weight without any difficulty2, 3, 4, 5, 6. This is a critical point, since even light deficits, 5% can result in fat gains, which shows how our body does not only work according to the first law of thermodynamics.

Weight loss and hormones

If we are chronically exposed to a caloric deficit we will experience:

  • a reduction of the metabolic rate,
  • a reduction of the body temperature, and even
  • changes at a neuroendocrine level that will alter our perception of hunger.

An important fact that few people know is that many of these changes are produced due to a caloric deficit, and not due to the loss of fat.

This means that we can lose fat without affecting the metabolism. Sounds good, right?

To achieve this, we have to get into a deeper level: Hormones.

AGrP Peptide

We know that hormones like ghrelin or leptin can control hunger, but in my opinion, there is a peptide that can be a great support for fat loss. Its name is AGrP, and it regulates the metabolic rate regardless of the intake of foods8.

Why is it so important to keep low AGrP levels? To put it briefly, we avoid the following effects9:

  • Synthesis of of fatty acids in the liver and the storing of fats in our adipose tissues (known as body fat)
  • Loss of glucose sensitivity on the muscles
  • Increase of the absorption of glucose on behalf of the adipose tissue.

As we can see, all the factors result in an organism that tends to avoid the loss of fat and even increase our fat in the future. Curiously, the AGrP levels increase sharply when we follow a hypocaloric diet10 [Green bar]



With regard to ghrelin (one of the hormones that acts more on hunger) the researchers stated:

It is interesting to point out that the weight loss with caloric restriction had additional effects on the ghrelin system when compared with weight loss without caloric restriction. The total ghrelin increased in the group Caloric Restriction group when compared to the rest of the groups

This is one of the reasons why I consider that a hypocaloric diet is not the best choice to maintain a low fat percentage in the long term, my protocol is based on a cyclic caloric intake, as I said at the beginning of the protocol.

Foods that can be consumed: IIFYM

Those who know me know that I base my diet on the IIFYM, which means that I can eat any food, even processed ones, as long as I control the amounts.

This means that the body “treats” a glucose molecule that comes from rice and a molecule that comes from ice cream in the same way, and the same happens with protein

The only macronutrient that is left out are fats, due to the fact that the body treats saturated fats differently from unsaturated ones, which will produce a different result.


An example of this type of diet can be seen in the study by Bray12, where he compared the metabolic effects of different foods in different people. The subjects were divided in three groups:

  • GROUP A: A hamburger, fried chips, and beer, sweetened with corn syrup high in fructose
  • GROUP B: Organic meat prepared with organic foods and an alcohol-free beer with sucrose
  • GROUP C: A turkey and muesli sandwich with organic foods and organic orange juice

It should be remarked, that both the total calories as well as the distribution of the 3 macronutrients was the same. The parameters that were measured every 30 minutes were:

Glucose, insulin, free fatty acids, ghrelin, leptin, triglycerides, LDL-cholesterol and HDL-cholesterol

The result proved that the response pattern of the nutrients and hormones was almost identical. The only difference that was observed was a reduction of the AUC (area under the curve) of LDL cholesterol after eating organic meat, which in my opinion is due to a higher amount of omega 3 in this type of meats.

The problem that we have with saturated fats is that they are much easier to store than polyunsaturated fats13.


Increase the unsaturated fats

As we can observe in the different graphics, the amount of hepatic fat, visceral fat, and subcutaneous fat is much higher when we consume a diet that is high in saturated fats instead of unsaturated, even if we talk about the same amount of calories. On the contrary, the amount of tissue that is free of fat (including the muscle) is higher with a diet that is high in unsaturated fat.

This fact about the fat metabolism is not an isolated fact, but other essays show how after doing exercise, the body prefer the oxidation of monounsaturated fats instead of saturated fats, where said increase is produced regardless of the intensity of the workout14.

This leads us to the conclusion that to follow this protocol we should base most of our fat in both mono and polyunsaturated fats (preferably high in omega 3)

The fact that we mainly consume unsaturated fats does not mean that we must avoid saturated fats or foods that are high in cholesterol, on the contrary, they are indispensable for anyone. Cholesterol is the precursor form of sex hormones, and there is a positive relation between the cholesterol levels and the testosterone levels15.

On the other hand, it is one of the main components of the cell membrane along with proteins, lipids (which is why fat is important in the diet) and a little portion of sugars. The function of cholesterol is to provide rigidity to the membrane, which makes it more difficult for the toxic elements or bacteria to enter the cell16.

Use of fats to maintain the muscle mass

Even though it is difficult to lose muscle in a hypocaloric diet as long as we consume an adequate amount of protein and we train intensely (once again, I want to emphasize how important it is to train with weights), it is true that people with a low fat percentage (under 12%) can possibly suffer a loss of muscle, since the body prefers to use muscle mass instead of body fat as a defense mechanism when facing the possibility of starving to death (remember, your body understand energy and nutrients, not diets).

In this cases, a diet with a high protein intake can help to prevent this loss of muscle:


The reasoning is based on the effects of fat on the PPAR. To put it briefly, PPAR are a series of receptors that express a great amount of genes that are related with the energy metabolism. The more fats we consume, the higher the PPAR levels will be18, since it facilitates the use of fats by the cell.

There are not enough studies on the PPAR effect on the protein metabolism, however, it has been observed that high levels of PPAR help to reduce the expression of genes related with the breakdown of proteins, which results in a lower protein catabolism.

In this way, we obtain ↑consumption of fats=↑PPAR=↓Protein breakdown


  • 1.The effects of consuming a high protein diet(4.4 g/kg/d) on body composition inresistance-trained individualsJose Antonio*, Corey A Peacock, Anya Ellerbroek, Brandon Fromhoff and Tobin Silver
  • 2.Contribution of different mechanisms to compensation for energy restriction in the mouse. Hambly C1, Speakman JR.
  • 3.One-year behavioral treatment of obesity: Comparison of moderate and severe caloric restriction and the effects of weight maintenance therapy. Wadden, Thomas A.; Foster, Gary D.; Letizia, Kathleen A.
  • 4.Leibel RL, Rosenbaum M, Hirsch J. Changes in energy expenditure resulting from altered body weight. N Engl J Med 1995;332:621–
  • 5.Bennett WA. Beyond overeating. N Engl J Med 1995;332:673–4.
  • 6.Ravussin E, Lillioja S, Knowler WC, et al. Reduced rate of energy expenditure as a risk factor for body-weight gain. N Engl J Med
  • 7. Mild calorie restriction induces fat accumulation in female C57BL/6J mice. Li X1, Cope MB, Johnson MS, Smith DL Jr, Nagy TR.
  • 8.Reducing hypothalamic AGRP by RNA interference increases metabolic rate and decreases body weight without influencing food intake Hideo Makimura12, Tooru M Mizuno12, Jason W Mastaitis12, Reuven Agami3 and Charles V Mobbs12*
  • 9.The central melanocortin system directly controls peripheral lipid metabolism. Nogueiras R1, Wiedmer P, Perez-Tilve D, Veyrat-Durebex C, Keogh JM, Sutton GM, Pfluger PT, Castaneda TR, Neschen S, Hofmann SM, Howles PN, Morgan DA, Benoit
  • 10.Calorie-restricted weight loss reverses high-fat diet-induced ghrelin resistance, which contributes to rebound weight gain in a ghrelin-dependent manner. Briggs DI1, Lockie SH, Wu Q
  • 11.Effects of high-protein diets on fat-free mass and muscle protein synthesis following weight loss: a randomized controlled trial.Pasiakos.
  • 12.Hormonal Responses to a Fast-Food Meal Compared with Nutritionally Comparable Meals of Different Composition. Ann Nutr Metab.
  • 13.Overfeeding Polyunsaturated and Saturated Fat Causes Distinct Effects on Liver and Visceral Fat Accumulation in Humans.Rosqvist
  • 14.Prior exercise increases dietary oleate, but not palmitate oxidation. Votruba SB1, Atkinson RL, Schoeller DA.
  • 15.Relation of serum testosterone levels to high density lipoprotein cholesterol and other characteristics in men. Freedman DS1
  • 16.Cholesterol-rich membrane microdomains mediate cell cycle arrest induced by Actinobacillus actinomycetemcomitans cytolethal-distending toxin. Boesze-Battaglia K1
  • 17.Distribution of peroxisome proliferator-activated receptors (PPARs) in human skeletal muscle and adipose tissue: relation to insulin action M. Loviscach
  • 18.Increased expression of PPARgamma in high fat diet-induced liver steatosis in mice. Inoue M1
  • 19.Hepatic amino acid-degrading enzyme expression is downregulated by natural and synthetic ligands of PPARα in rats.Alemán G
  • 20.Calorie restriction increases fatty acid synthesis and whole body fat oxidation rates.Bruss MD1, Khambatta CF, Ruby MA, Aggarwal I, Hellerstein MK.
HSN Protocol: Smashing Fat Review

Hypocaloric diet - 97%

Weight loss - 100%

IIFYM - 100%

Fats, good or not? - 99%


HSN Evaluation: 4.7 /5
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About Sergio Espinar
Sergio Espinar
Sergio Espinar is a sport nutritionist, specialized in fat loss and health in women. Coach, professor and speaker in the HSN Fitness School.
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