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I had somebody recently complain that they couldn’t lose weight no matter how hard they were working in the gym. When I asked if they tracked their calories, they looked at me like I had a 2nd head.
Most people go throughout life wanting to lose fat and they never actually attain their goals! They either don’t have the fortitude to do so or they think they can beat the process somehow.
Regardless of who you are, fat loss comes down to these 5 main principles.
- Calorie balance
- Nutrient timing
- Food composition
It’s not just me that thinks so either! Renaissance Periodization does too! If you don’t know who RP is you should definitely go check out their website and their book as well. The amount of knowledge they have on the subject is absolutely insane. Every single person on their team has a masters degree, sports doctorate or higher. No bro science over there whatsoever, simply solid scientific methods that work!
I’ll go over each one of these topics at length another time but the most important ones I’ll go over; consistency, calories, and macronutrients; which make up over 80% of the dieting puzzle, will be the focus of this article. Let’s get started!
Consistency: This Matters More Than ANYTHING!
The number one most important dieting principle is without a doubt consistency, without being consistent with your diet none of the other principles matter whatsoever. Why is consistency so important? Let’s take an example of a normal dieter.
Maintenance calories for a 200 lb male named John is around 3000 calories; subtracting 500 calories for our deficit puts us at 2500 per day. But what happens on the weekend for John, who is a notorious football couch surfer? He has the boys over for pizza, wings, and beer every Sunday.
Now the awesome fat loss diet he’s managed from Monday-Saturday is destroyed from one bad day of eating. Instead of his standard 2500 calorie day, he eats 6000 calories from the massive amount of pizza dipped in ranch, wings dipped in ranch, (everything dipped in ranch actually!) and drinking beers nonstop. The 3500 calorie deficit he worked so hard for is undone by a couple hours of gluttonous mayhem.
No Consistency=No Results!
Consistency is so important for fat loss it should be your main goal starting out. Regardless of how solid your Monday-Friday nutrition is, the weekend binging will kill all your progress fast. If you want to lose fat correctly you have to do it like a sprint, diet for 8-12 weeks MAX at a time, fight that battle and be consistent. After that, hop off the diet train and maintain for a while.
This is another aspect of dieting nobody pays attention to that I’ll go over at a later date. It’s called Reverse Dieting and something that 99% of chronic dieters have never heard of, the diet after the diet! Stay tuned for that article soon!
Now that we’ve finished talking about consistency it’s important to go over what diet will be consistent for you. There’s a ton out there and they ALL work! The issue is the people doing them lose motivation as soon as they stop seeing progress in a week. Because of that, they never make any meaningful progress and say the diet doesn’t work when the one thing that didn’t work was them.
Pick A Diet That Works For You!
If the Keto diet makes you go crazy from the lack of carbs don’t do it! It does work as I talk about in this article! If you don’t put in the work for a couple of weeks at least, it won’t work, for YOU! That’s why the diet I’m going to show you is so effective and something I’ve done with tons of success in the past. It’s simple and works well without depriving you of everything you love in life. (No; not your kids, family, and loved ones; FOOD!) With that all in mind let’s jump to the next most important principle for fat loss, Calorie Balance!
Calorie Balance: Yes Calories Matter!
The number of people with the assumption calories in vs. calories out doesn’t work is insane. They think it’s about hormones, chemicals or any other random article they read that week. If this were true then the hundreds of bodybuilders out there would never lose any body fat whatsoever. All their muscle would turn to fat and they wouldn’t go on to have the lowest body fat possible! It’s a basic math problem but everybody tries to complicate it.
If the most informed scientists in the world KNOW without a doubt that calorie balance matters then you should probably listen! It’s super basic in nature and something you learned about in Biology. It’s science and no matter how you feel about science it doesn’t matter. Your opinion does not stand up to decades of scientific proof. The number of calories burned from exercise will almost never account for more of the fat loss equation than your calorie intake. Let’s see what we can do about the calorie equation!
How Do We Create A Calorie Deficit?
Calorie balance, or calorie intake, is incredibly important. You need to be in a calorie deficit to lose weight, if you aren’t losing then BY DEFINITION, you are not in a calorie deficit.
The number of calories you need to take in is like math, very easy to understand at first but then people complicate it. Like I explained above in the Consistency section, you need a minimum of a 3500 calorie deficit to lose body fat over a 1 week period. This breaks it up into a 500 calorie deficit a day. Very simple and it works very well! Unfortunately, real life gets in the way and this deficit can be very hard to hit starting out.
Here is something I’ve recommended to others, instead of dropping an initial 500 calories from the start, we’ll base it off of your bodyweight.
Let’s say we have a 150 lb female named Vanessa. Vanessa has dieted in the past but hasn’t had much success. For her, we’d start out with a very basic maintenance period to see what her body weight does for the first week. Very simple math, 150×15=2,250 calories to start.
Now for some people, you might say that’s a LOT! It might be for some but it’s absolutely important for the diet plan I’m recommending, trust me! Our goal is to lose the MOST weight possible on the HIGHEST amount of calories possible!
Why Is Crash Dieting Bad?
As soon as you drop your calories super low and increase your cardio massively you’re going to crash and burn quickly with no way to progress! Then after the diet is over you eat the same amount of calories, stop doing the cardio, and as soon as you start eating anything more than those low calories you see your weight rebound instantly. Does this sound familiar? This is a reality for so many men and women out there, unfortunately. So to set ourselves up for success we’re going to eat the most amount of food possible to start and slowly lower it from there as the weeks go by.
Dieting Should Be A Sprint, Not A Marathon!
Here’s the fun part, I said earlier that we want to diet for 8-12 weeks MAX per dieting phase. If you diet half the year without any breaks your body goes through a process called metabolic adaptation. This is a mechanism in the body where it downregulates your metabolism during an extended period of calorie restriction. When this happens it makes it very difficult for any fat burning to occur without taking a break.
The sample plan I will show you below is the best way I’ve found to reduce calories without dying. It boils down to reducing our calories by our current bodyweight every week and then taking a break.
Week 1: 150 [email protected],250 Calories
Week 2: 149 lbs @2,100 Calories
Week 3: 148lbs @1,950 Calories
Then in week 4, we’re going to do something crazy called a DIET BREAK. A diet break is a period of time where you go back up to your new maintenance calories to let your metabolism return to a higher resting level before continuing the diet. Vanessa lost 1 lb the previous week so we can assume she’s still in a calorie deficit. So for her, we’re going to increase the calories back up to 2,250 calories for 1 week to allow her body’s hormones to regulate back up to a more normal level.
Week 4: 148lbs @2,250 Calories
Moving into Week 5, we’re going to return back to dieting by subtracting 150 calories from her earlier Week 3 calories. We’ll continue like this for another 3 weeks and do another diet break after.
Week 5: 148lbs @1800 Calories
Week 6: 146lbs @1650 Calories
Week 7: 145lbs @1500 Calories
At this rate, we’re still losing 1-2 lbs a week, we’re doing a great job while still keeping our metabolisms health in line. So for Week 8 we’ll be a little more aggressive and eat at 2,000 Calories for the week.
Week 8: 145lbs @2000 Calories
The final 3 weeks will be the hardest part of the dieting process and the part where your calories will drop to the lowest levels. It’s only for 3 weeks but this is when you’ll make the most progress possible.
Week 9: 145lbs @1350 Calories
Week 10: 142lbs @1200 Calories
Week 11: 140lbs @1050 Calories
Because of our slow progress and added diet breaks, our metabolism has not had a chance to adapt. This allowed us to lose 10 lbs and make our “diet after the diet” work even better!
Week 12 and Beyond!
Week 12: 140 lbs @1850 Calories
After this, we have the chance to increase calories up slowly and prevent any fat gain. This is how you recover from a diet. You build up your calories and allow yourself to eat more food slowly, before starting your next weight loss phase. The only difference is your body fat will be lower, you’ll have more muscle mass, and your metabolism will be in a better place to do so. That article will be coming soon so definitely stay tuned!
Macronutrients: What Are They And Why Should You Care?
The four main macronutrients are fats, proteins, carbs, and alcohol. For the purposes of this article, we’re obviously only going to be focusing on 3 of those because alcohol isn’t an essential macronutrient. Each one of these has a very specific purpose and they are all vitally important to your success.
Fats contain a group of chemical compounds called fatty acids. They are incredibly important for proper hormone function; if you lower your fats too much you’re going to notice pretty quickly. Low-fat diets can work but I wouldn’t recommend them whatsoever.
You need fats to survive, if you only ate protein and carbs you would starve your body from how messed up your hormone levels would be. Don’t go low fat ever! If the numbers I recommend below have you feeling off increase fat intake by 10 grams at a time while decreasing carbs the same amount.
Protein is essentially a building block of life, if you don’t get enough it’s like giving up on life. It helps create and maintain muscle mass, has a high thermic effect of food at 30%, and also helps fill you up which is incredibly important for fat loss!
Maintaining muscle mass on a weight loss diet is necessary for multiple reasons, the main one being, nobody wants to be skinny fat! If you lose muscle from lack of protein your metabolism is going to take a nosedive and affect your performance in the gym. Get enough protein, this is the most important thing to consider after calorie balance!
Carbs are EVIL! There I said it! Just joking, they really aren’t and absolutely matter! After decades of being vilified by the press and media (never listen to either), it turns out carbs aren’t just good for you, they are crucial when it comes to muscle growth.
You could drop your protein lower than the recommended amount if your carb intake is high enough. This is because carbs are very muscle sparing just like protein is. On top of all those benefits, it’s also your bodies’ preferred source of fuel. If you lower your carbohydrates too low you’ll notice your energy levels might decrease quickly. If this happens your performance in the gym will go down, your muscle mass won’t be spared and because of it and you’ll also die! (Just kidding on that last part obviously.)
Just like protein, fiber has a thermic effect of around 30%. This means; if you build a diet off of high protein, and high fiber, your body will burn off up to 30% of them just by consuming them. That’s a big deal and something you should absolutely take advantage of!
Macronutrient Guide For Fat Loss
Now that we know what macronutrients are, we need to decide how much we’re going to eat of each.
First, we need to find our total calories for the day, let’s use the example above of Vanessa. If you remember we had her set up with 2,250 calories to start at a bodyweight of 150 lbs. We need to decide on protein intake first like always. For a girl weighing 150 lbs, we use 0.8-1 gram per lb of bodyweight based on how high her body fat percentage is.
If you’re obese we can use 0.8, overweight 0.9, and fit 1.0. Reason being, if you’re 400 lbs you absolutely don’t need 400 grams of protein per day, that’s madness. The more muscle you have the more protein you eat, simple.
So for Vanessa, we’ll set her protein to 150 grams, this is equal to 600 total calories from protein. Next, we subtract 600 from 2,250 and end up with 1,650 calories left for carbs and fats.
Fat and Carbs Next!
Now we can decide if we want more carbs or fat overall. We need a minimum of about 20% fats in our total intake, as long we don’t go below 50 we’re set! You can set this up yourself but let’s say Vanessa prefers more carbs in her diet.
9×50=450 Calories from fat
4×150=600 Calories from protein
450+600=1,050 Calories from fat and protein combined
Then we just subtract the calories from fat and protein from our total calories to find the remainder for carbs.
2,250 Total Calories-1,050=1,200 Calories left for carbs.
1,200/4=300 Carbs per day to start
Her total macro and calorie breakdown starting out is:
- 2,250 Calories
- 50 Fat
- 150 Protein
- 300 Carbs
Not A Bad Way To Start A Diet Huh?
This is the easiest way to set up your macros in a way that works for you. And if some days of the week you eat more fats and fewer carbs, it really doesn’t matter when it comes to fat loss! Because remember, the most important principle is consistency. If you’re not consistent, nothing is going to work regardless of how much you want it to. You don’t even have to eat super strict when it comes to “junk food” and “clean food”.
Obviously, you want a diet that has healthy fats, lean proteins, and good carb sources. But nowhere in this article did I say it was absolutely necessary! As long as you’re consistent, your calories are in line, you eat enough protein, and don’t skip on vitamins and minerals you’re good!
Eat healthy 80% of the time and the other 20% can be whatever you want. That’s what a lifestyle looks like and you need to practice it and not just think of this as a diet. I guarantee it’ll work for you, just like it has for so many others!
The bottom line is, this type of diet absolutely works for burning body fat, maintaining muscle mass and keeping your metabolism from crashing.
Anybody interested in what to do after a diet let me know and I’ll link you to that article when it comes out! It’s called Reverse Dieting and something most people have never thought about but desperately needs to be shared!
The basics of any diet plan is making it something you can stick to while also not lowering your calories, carbs, or fats too low if you don’t have to. When in doubt; hit your calorie and protein intakes, lift weights, do some cardio, drink some water, get enough sleep and…that’s a lot.
But it really is that simple if you do those five things consistently! That is all! Thanks for reading and I can’t wait to share more with you next time!
P.S. Anybody interested in my favorite book for improving body composition check out this book by Renaissance Periodization on Amazon! Not only is it the greatest diet book I’ve ever seen, but it also has a group on Facebook you can access as well! You can ask the authors questions, and get tons of testimonials from real people!