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No BS Gameplan for Fat Loss

No matter where you are on this fat loss journey, one thing remains the same: You need to be in a caloric deficit.

Now saying that is obviously easier said than done, which is where all the BS claims come in.

“Detoxing” doesn’t really help you lose weight because you’re detoxing – it helps because it’s more of a fast. Fasting will help your gut heal itself (when done correctly), and will help you become in a caloric deficit (for a very short period), but that’s not detoxing – that’s giving your body enough time to heal yourself.  And that’s not a long-term solution.

“Cardio” isn’t the only way to lose weight, but it can be a great way for you to get started with working out.  Walking every day or doing some light jogging or bike riding can be a great way for you to start moving your body…but it definitely isn’t the most effective way to lose fat.

Jogging is just the easiest and has the lowest barrier to entry.  So if you like jogging or doing cardio, by all means, do it.  If you don’t, find other ways to work your cardiovascular system.  That can include sports, high intensity stuff, strength circuits, etc.  Something that will keep your heart rate high for a longer period of time is all considered cardio.

“Strength training” is not simply working out with weights.  Strength training is the performance of movements in which you are trying to get stronger – what a concept.  Lifting 3-lb weights for a 100 reps might feel like you’re doing something productive, but you’re really not besides creating a burn in the muscle and raising your heart rate a bit.  Long-term that’s not strength training.  That’s working out with light weights.  Those are two completely different things.  Which brings me to…

“Bulky vs Long and Lean Muscles”  God, how I hate that term long and lean muscles.  Do you know how you get long and lean muscles?

Step 1 – Have insertion points that make your muscles long.  You know when that happened for you?  That was set when you were born.  And “lean” muscles…UGH!?!  ALL muscles are lean. By their definition muscles are lean.  So if you want “long and lean” muscles, lose fat and get different parents.  I don’t know what to tell you.

Which brings me to “Bulky” muscles – there is no such thing as bulky muscles. There is muscle.  What you want is to lose fat.  Which helps you to show the muscles you already have, without gaining any additional musculature.  But if you “gain muscle easily,” then you should still do some strength training, with heavy weights, just not too often, once or twice per week, with a lower volume (amount of sets you do) and reps (ex. 3 sets of 5 reps), while being in a caloric deficit.  That will help you to create “long and lean muscles” just like anything else that helps you to lose fat, while keeping the muscle you have. Which brings me to…

The No BS Gameplan for Fat Loss ​

If you want to lose weight, then here is what you should focus on.

A – Be in a caloric deficit.  This means figuring out what your calorie intake should be:
An easy way would be to take your weight and times it by 12. That should be your caloric intake…for about 70% of you. If that number seems high to you, click here and enter the relevant information (and unless you’re a paid athlete, just put in “Light Activity”): Calculate Your Calories

That website will calculate how many calories you should be having per day.

B – From there, find ways to keep your muscle while burning more calories.
Keep your muscle:  Strength Train/Workout with weights at least 2-3 times per week.  This can be as simple as the plan below, when done with heavy enough weights, where you’re reaching full fatigue (you can’t complete another rep), within the target rep range. Here’s a sample plan

Day 1:
1A. Back Squats (barbell on your back) or Goblet Squats
 (holding a dumbbell in front of you), Do 4 sets of 10 reps
Paired with
1B. Lat Pulldowns ​(4 sets of 10-12 reps)

2A. Do 3 sets of Step-ups (20 reps on each leg)
Paired with
2B. Squat press (holding two dumbbells by your ears), squat down and as you come up from the squat, press your hands overhead.(10 reps)

Day 2:
1A. Trap Bar Deadlifts (5 sets of 8 reps)
Paired with
1B. Push-ups (can be banded, elevated, modified or regular, depending on your current strength levels) 5 sets until you can’t do another good rep

2A. Dumbbell Reverse Lunges (4 sets of 10 on each leg, doing all one side first than the other)
Paired with
2B. Single Arm Dumbbell Row (4 sets of 12 to 20 reps) – Make sure this weight is heavy

Day 3:
1A. Walking Lunges (20 – 24 total steps)
Paired with
1B. Plank and (30 to 90 seconds)
1C. Tricep Dips (8 to 20 reps)

2A. Split squat (8 to 12 reps on each leg)
Paired with
2B. Leg Lifts (10 to 15 reps)

Now, if you don’t know those movements or don’t have access to that equipment, do modified versions of the exercises (ex. Instead of Trap bar deadlifts, do dumbbell deadlifts), join a gym, practice at home without any weights, watch videos on YouTube, or hire a professional.

Those are 3 workouts that can be completed within 30 minutes and will help you to keep the muscle you have. Nothing super complicated and hits all the major muscle groups.  You won’t grow much muscle, if at all, but you will maintain the muscle you have while you’re in a caloric deficit, which is essential for having a “toned” look.  

Cardio:From there, you can do cardio. In fact, you should do some cardio. Just make sure you’re doing something that you can recover from and you’re not killing yourself.

You can do steady state cardio (a basic jog, walk or bike ride).

You can do intervals. Sprint for 20 seconds. Take a minute break. Repeat 5 to 10 times.

It doesn’t matter what you do, but you should do it once or twice per week.

Be Active:
Then being active.  If you sit all day at work, find ways to walk more and simply be active. Being active is good, but it’s usually not enough to help you to lose weight, but it does have immense health benefits, so do that.

With the workouts out of the way, let’s talk nutrition.

Nutrition:

If you’re trying to lose weight, you should be having at least 3 square meals with an optional snack throughout the day.

That’s where I would start. Some people can find benefits from Intermittent Fasting, but most would be better to eat a healthy breakfast.  I find the people who find Intermittent Fasting beneficial are those who ate shitty breakfasts and then complained that they weren’t losing weight. Eat a healthy breakfast and that changes.

So aim for 3 healthy meals with an optional snack per day.

What should you have with those meals:
1 – Your meals should be about 40 grams of protein per meal with 2 servings of vegetables. That should be your foundation for every meal. If you can’t find ways to get veggies in, in the morning, add a third serving to lunch and dinner.

40 grams of protein should come from lean to moderate fat amount sources. Therefore, a cheeseburger isn’t great, although you’ll still get 40 grams of protein from a large one. Chicken with some avocado can be fine.

2 – As for carbs and fat, most people would do well with 40 grams of carbs per meal and 20 grams of fat.  With carbs and fat, you can mix and match. So one meal you can have higher fat, and less carbs and then the other meal higher carbs and lower fat.  At the end of the day, that would come out to 120-150 g of carbs and 60-70 grams of fat. 

3 – Eat your calories. That extra sugar you put in your coffee, learn to live without it. That alcohol that you drink 4 to 5 nights a week, isn’t helping you or anyone lose fat.

If you can cut liquid calories from sodas, juices, sugars, alcohol, sauces, dressings and oils, you will learn to help your brain re-integrate itself into knowing the difference between hunger and cravings.

Most of the time, if you’re eating 40 grams of protein per meal and 2 servings of veggies, while getting the carbs and fats in, if you’re hungry, what you’re really doing is craving something. That’s different.

Learn to eat healthy meals, consistently, and watch as your body changes.

4 – Learn to deal with some hunger.  On a hunger scale of 1 to 10, you should be hungry some of the time when you’re losing fat, without letting it get past a ‘5’. A 3 or 4 on the scale should be where you start preparing or getting some food. 

5 – Prepare Most of Your Own Food.  Restaurants under-estimate calories, add calories that you would never add at home and in general, you will over-eat your foods. If this isn’t realistic for you, learn to ask for healthy options that might not necessarily be on the menu. 

So to summarize nutrition 40 grams or protein per meal, 2 servings of vegetables, 40 grams of carbs and 20 grams of fat per meal. Do that and you get to have 200 calories per day, with whatever you like.  Those 200 calories come quickly.

Find recipes and meals based on breakfasts, lunches and dinners that fall into that category and you will significantly improve your odds of not being physically hungry.

Which brings me to the last part…

Mindset

“Lose 5 pounds in 5 days” 

Seriously…no. Just no.

Because that headline should read, “Lose 5 pounds in 5 days and gain 8 back in 10 days!” 

I’m all for quick results, if you’re super determined, have a game plan, and accountability up the ass. For 99.9% of you, it’s just not a realistic goal, so let it go.

The truth about fat loss is that it’s a pain in the ass. It’s boring, generally, not that fun, tedious, requires a shit-ton of consistency, requires learning to deal with people in and around social functions, will have you doubting yourself, will have you arguing with yourself, asking whether this is worth it or not, and will have moments where you royally fuck up.  

And you know what, it’s ok.  

And here’s the thing – that’s how it works for a good majority of people, so those headlines of “Lose 5 pounds in 5 days,” and their ilk, drive me crazy.  

But that doesn’t mean Losing Fat has to be hard…it just means it’s not that fun and we all have our weak points.  For some of you that might be in social functions around alcohol. For others, it might be when you’re super stressed at work and unprepared with food.  Everyone has a weak point.  It’s alright.  Don’t judge yourself so harshly for being human.  

And when you mess up and doubt yourself, have a healthy meal.  And if you still want that snack, recognize it as a craving.  If you’re going to have it, enjoy it and then get back on track.  That’s it.  That’s all you can do.  

And that’s the thing, those who have seen the most success with all of this, recognize it as the long game.  It’s not something that will happen because you went really hard at the gym for a week, or “ate healthy” for like 3 days.  That’s not going to move the scale.  It’s not.  Well, maybe if you’re younger than 25, it might.

And if you have memories of something like that happening when you were younger, recognize it was a younger person’s body. And younger people’s bodies can get away with a lot of shit and they bounce back faster.

But if you’re not younger than 25, don’t expect fast results.  Expect realistic results.

And realistic results look like this:
A – The first 4 to 6 weeks, you might not lose any weight.  Shit, you might gain a pound or two.  You might. You might lose weight.  But don’t expect it.  If you’re starting from a place of not working out to working out and eating healthy, you might gain a pound or two.

BUT…you should have lost inches, which means you lost fat and gained a little muscle.  No, you won’t look like the Hulk.  You won’t.  A thousand times you won’t, but you have probably gained some muscle in your legs (which probably needed it), while losing pounds of fat from around your body.  

B – After those 4 to 6 weeks expect to see 2 to 4 pounds per month (you will stop gaining muscle).  This is contingent on you staying consistent with your eating and working out. That means after a year, you might have lost 20 pounds of fat. Some might have lost double that. So if you have 20 to 50 pounds to lose, expect to be consistent for a year or two before you have the body you want.

Go into it with that mindset and when you “only lose 3 pounds in 3 months,” you will recognize that you’re exactly on track to where you should be.  

This will obviously come with the inevitable ups and downs that come with losing fat, but the key is always, always consistency.

Always consistency.

C – Consistency. ​Be consistent.  When you’re tired, during the holidays, during the summer, on your best friend’s birthday.  I’m not saying “don’t have a life,” but learn to enjoy those things while still being relatively healthy.  Also, recognize that some days you should go off plan and just have fun.  But make a conscious choice to do it and not because you “lost control.”  And if you do lose control, just get back on track.  If you “lose control” too often, then make an adjustment to your plan, because obviously something isn’t working.  Which brings me to…

D – Sleep.  I can not overemphasize how important sleep is to staying consistent with both your eating and your workouts.  Get better and more restful sleep and everything works in your favor.  Don’t, and everything will be working against you.  

E – Be consistent for a long time…and only then should you think that you should have a healthier body. Can you see faster results?  Potentially, but I wouldn’t even put it in your head. If it comes, good. If it doesn’t, then figure out what you have to change and adjust. And that’s all you can do.

F – And if you’re tracking your food, weighing your food, not eating out, preparing your meals, staying on track with your macros, working out consistently for 6 months – all of those things and you’re not seeing results you want, then maybe go see a doctor. You might have something that’s impeding your weight loss that you can’t fix on your own.  

BUT…that’s if you’re tracking your food, your calories, preparing your meals, tracking your macros by weighing your food, working out, getting enough sleep for 6 MONTHS (not days or weeks). Do that first. Most people’s problems when it comes to “not losing fat/weight” come directly from those things.

G – You don’t have to do any of these things.  But if you want a system that will work to lose fat, this is it.  If you want though, you can just be active and eat smaller portions which creates a caloric deficit.  

The bottom line is, you can do whatever you want to do, but every system, EVERY SINGLE ONE, creates a caloric deficit. Some also decrease inflammation throughout the body.  Some are healthier and add to the vitality of your cells.  Some let you eat all the foods you love, and still lose weight, whereas others limit you to 3 specific foods you can eat for the rest of your life.  No matter what system you use, make sure it’s something YOU can continue for the long-term.  

If you can find something that works for YOU, then you’re good.  And if you haven’t found one yet, that’s cool too.  Try the one I just listed out.  I think it’s pretty good.  If you need help coming up with the meal ideas, let me know.  

Next week, I will have a similar post on what to do if you want to gain muscle.  

If you have any questions or comments for me, please feel free to let me know.  

Cheers!
John