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How This Podcaster Cut Over 15 Percent Body Fat in Just 6 Months

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YOU MIGHT RECOGNIZE Zane Hijazi from his various streams of content across Youtube, Instagram, or even all the way back to his Vine days (R.I.P.). Or, maybe you know his voice from his podcast, Zane and Heath: Unfiltered, co-hosted by Heath Hassar. What you might not notice is how immensely fit he’s gotten this past year.

After being challenged by a friend to get in shape, Hijazi failed a few attempts. Then an extra motivator came along—Xeela Fitness and Accelerator planned to sponsor, and film, his journey. In February 2024, they released a documentary short all about Hijazi’s journey going from 25 percent to 9.7 percent body fat in a little over six months. Men’s Health caught up with him a few weeks after the documentary released to discuss how he did it—and how he plans to carry these healthier habits into life post-filming.

MEN’S HEALTH: What prompted this health journey?

ZANE HIJAZI: One of my best friends, Ilya Fedorovich, got really into fitness about three or four years ago. So much so that he started a protein and supplement brand called Xeela Fitness. One day he decided to try to help his friends get into better shape and live a better lifestyle. We were not making the best choices—we partied a lot, we ate really bad, we didn’t take care about our bodies at all. So my best friend (and podcast co-host) Heath and I started working with him.

I didn’t get far. I quit after two months. Heath kept going. That was a huge loss for me just because I quit on a lot of things. It took me a whole year to really wake up and decide to try it again—I truly was in the worst shape of my life. I wasn’t sleeping well, I wasn’t feeling good, I was drinking a bunch. I was hungover half the time, struggling to get work done.

Second time around, we started in the beginning of June 2023, where I was sitting around 25 percent body fat. In January of 2024 I measured in a 9.7 percent. And I have to say, I’m the last person I would have expected to be able to do something like this. I really never pictured myself doing this.

MH: How did your nutrition change?

ZH: Nutrition was 90 percent of my transformation. For the first few months I was sitting around 2000 to 2,200 calories. And I was focusing on eating 200 grams of protein per day, which helped keep me full. I learned quickly that starving yourself on a diet is not the way to go, and getting in enough protein via chicken, turkey, and protein shakes really helped me feel like I wasn’t doing that.

Getting rid of the carbs like pizza, pasta, and breads was tough, but nothing was as hard as getting rid of sugar. I love sugar. It was most important to just not have it in the house. I just had to replace everything single thing I had in the house with something healthier, while also trying to satisfy some cravings. So I filled my house with sweet but healthier things like fruits and organic snacks. It was pretty brutal, though, to get rid of most things, and replace them with whole foods.

What’s funny is my algorithm completely changed when it came to food. I was doing so much researching on healthy stuff that my Instagram kept feeding me healthier food content, which was extremely helpful. I’d get recipes and snack ideas and such from there.

It took about four months, but eventually my body stopped craving all the cookies and cake and ice cream. Once I was able to get to that point, that helped a lot.

MH: What did your workouts look like?

ZH: I would strength train a different body part about four to five days a week—typically split between chest/triceps, back/biceps, shoulders, and legs. I would do cardio every single day. I had a step count goal of 12,000 to 15,o00 steps—be it by walking, running, or hiking.

We’d do pretty typical hypertrophy training in the weight room, so a lot of 4 to 5 sets of 8 to 12 reps. I’d do some supersets, too—where we alternate between two exercises with little rest in between. I typically run 5 to 6 different exercises. For example, a typical chest and tricep day for me includes bench presses superset with incline pushups, some chest flies, incline dumbbell presses, cable tricep pushdowns, and some tricep kickbacks superset with tricep dips.

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Hijazi at his physique reveal event for Xeela fitness

MH: You said you were a big partier. How’d you learn to control that?

ZH: I only drink when I go out, I don’t drink at home. I’m only a social drinker. So that was easy to get rid of, you just have to take out the going out part. Which I didn’t mind doing—I’d done it for so many years, I honestly enjoyed staying in.

The hard thing was not able to go out to eat. I love going out to restaurants. That’s one of my favorite things to do. I really had to make sure I always had food cooked and ready for me so I could resist that urge. But it’s tough when all my friends are going out—dealing with FOMO was hard. I will say—that saying about how it takes 60 days to break a habit? That’s so real. Because at some point my body just flipped, and I was okay with not going out at all.

MH: Xeela followed you along your journey and turned it into a documentary. Did that pressure help you stay motivated?

ZH: Yes, absolutely. They wanted to produce something that would inspire other people to get started [on a fitness journey] if they feel like they need to. And, I was a good subject for the idea. I was known to party a lot and eat whatever I want, so I had a long road ahead of me and could have a very dramatic transition. So it worked out.

The documentary came out a few months ago, but I’m working out the same amount. I see a fitness routine as a necessity now. It’s helped with my anxiety, depression, work—almost everything. It’s cleared my mind, and helped me set my priorities.

MH: Now that filming is over, what are your fitness goals for the future?

ZH: I’m kind of in a maintenance phase right now, but I do want to work on getting bigger. I’m trying to do it as naturally as possible. I know a lot of people resort to steroids and all that. I know people do it because they don’t see progress. I’ve already promised myself that I’m going to get there in a natural way, even if it’s going to take a long time.

I’m really proud of myself for getting where I am now without any additives, and I want to keep it that way. It feels better, too—my body feels so clean. I worked so hard making sure my body was free of toxic stuff like alcohol and bad food. Why put something negative in me again?

I haven’t quite quit vaping, though—that’s next on the list. I’ve cut back about 30 percent right now I’d say. I’m trying to use different gums and such to help, but it’s rough. But I’m working towards completely quitting.

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