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A 5 Step Foolproof Fat Loss System
Making Fat Loss As Easy As Possible
Fat loss is a topic shrouded in gimmicks, fad diets, empty promises, and just pretty terrible (mis)information in general.
I’m here to change that. I make zero promises or guarantees this works because it requires you to adhere and DO the work, if not, nothing happens. That said, if you can and will do the work, pending any extreme outlier diseases (you wouldn’t be here) it will 100% work for you based on the principles and science of physiology.
I go to bed every night with recurring nightmares of the helth and fytness eXpErTs on Twitter claiming how fat loss isn’t as easy as simply eating fewer calories than you burn. These individuals have somehow found a way to defeat the laws of physics—specifically the law of thermodynamics—a Nobel is obviously in order for them!
While there are some nuances, many of which we will get into in this post, the reality is for all practical purposes, fat loss IS in fact as easy as managing caloric intake/output and eating less than we burn.
Today we are cutting through all the BS that is out there and I am giving you the exact recommendation I would make for 99% of people to have the best fat loss results as possible. We’re throwing out ideas like “optimal” and “best” for a second and looking at this from a position that is as practical yet effective as can be—essentially catering to most people who want fitness to be a PART of their lives, not their WHOLE lives, in that aspect, it can be “optimal” for you.
How It Works
Fat loss happens based on many processes of the metabolism working together to maintain what is known as an energy balance. While factors influence this energy balance, we are not going to be midwits and focus on the minutia and small details that simply don’t really matter. At the end of the day, fat loss literally becomes an equation of being on the right side of Calories In vs. Calories Out (CICO).
When it comes to CICO we have something called TDEE (Total Daily Energy Expenditure) which I have talked about in previous posts. This is the calories Out in the “Calories In vs. Calories Out” equation → for you to have fat loss, your TDEE must be greater than whatever caloric intake you had. This is where some of the nuance comes into play where we have dietary factors that affect TDEE like the breakdown of our macronutrient intake (protein being our friend here).
After this, we are selecting dietary choices based on a few main factors:
Promoting healthy fat loss
Preserving muscle mass and even building it if your training experience allows
What is sustainable and what you can adhere to long term to actually get the results you need.
There are no “fads” here, I don’t care if you are keto, carnivore, vegan, Scandinavian, or a Non-Registered Voter, we are going to base this on the physiological principles that support the 3 points above—many ways to skin this proverbial cat.
So given that we simply need to accomplish this goal, that is where we will cater the guidelines in this post.
Step 1: How Much Do You Need To Eat?
If we are approaching this from the standpoint of a caloric equation, understanding what inputs we need for this equation is obviously the most important of the steps.
Now, I get you maybe don’t/haven’t, don’t want to, or have seen “you don’t need to count calories to lose weight”. Sure, maybe you can make that work, I don’t care. This method completely eliminates the guesswork and margin of error, so instead of experimenting for months to see what works and doesn’t, you can start losing fat right meow.
This will actually give you the framework and experience of what true portions look like and the “eye” to be able to not need to count calories, but for many, until we get to this point, you’re going to need to so you can learn the basics, and again, see progress now instead of stalling while you fiddlefuck around with portion control.
As I’ve previously written about, we first need to establish what our TDEE is, our Total Daily Energy Expenditure, which is fancy speak for how many total calories we burn a day.
TDEE has 4 main components:
Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR): How many calories you burn simply existing
Thermic Effect of Food (TEF): How many calories you use to digest food
Exercise Activity Thermogenesis (EAT) How many calories you burn through designated exercise
Non-Exercise Activity Thermogenesis (NEAT) How many calories you burn via daily lifestyle like fidgeting, walking around the house/work/shopping/etc., you get the idea.
We won’t get deeper than this, we don’t need to for this sake, but you can read this post if you want the finer details.
To calculate TDEE we can use one of a few different equations out there… or we can leverage the beautiful creation that is the Internet (you do have it, you’re using it to read this) and use one of the many handy calculators that exist to calculate your TDEE for you.
This is the one I personally use and suggest: Damn Ripped TDEE Calculator
When using a TDEE calculator, be brutally honest—if you’re unsure, error towards the side of less activity as if you overestimate how active you are then you will slow down or even inhibit fat loss progress.
Once you have this number, it’s time to move to Step 2, which is really Step 1b as you will see.
Step 2 (1B): Standardizing The System—What Should My “Daily Activity” Look Like?
It’s important to read this entire post because it isn’t linear and we will need to take a step back to complete the big picture as you will see here.
Now, when calculating TDEE and deciding what the best exercise, daily activity, etc. should be to accurately gauge and make progress, we have to evaluate what we should be doing to get those numbers—hint, it’s a “system”. What I’m about to say should surprise ZERO long-time readers:
The first thing you should do is standardize your overall routine into a series of “must-do” activities on a daily basis. What this does is it keeps the conditions otherwise the same on a day-to-day or week-to-week basis which is going to help us ensure what we are doing is working.
What I mean by this is for example establishing a daily steps goal of 10,000, 12,500, or 15,000 step goal and ensuring that daily we are hitting this goal—this well help standardize daily activity levels as it will keep caloric expenditure relatively the same. The difference between 2000 steps a day vs 10,000 steps a day can be multiple hundreds of calories—which can be the difference between losing fat or even gaining it.
So, my steps here are rather simple:
Establish a daily step goal, no less than 7000, and ensure you hit this daily → I don’t care if you have to pace around your house because it’s raining.
Find and follow a weightlifting/training program that tailors to your lifestyle, overall fitness level, and desired outcome.
Maintain consistent protein levels, because as you can see with TEF, this is important to maintain a good net caloric balance via energy to digest.
These are the major points, have the goal to hit your steps count, workout, and daily protein goal and your TDEE calculations will more than likely end up accurate and fat loss more seamless.
Step 3: Setting Up Your Diet For Fat Loss
Now, we have our TDEE, this is where (simple) math comes in. As I’ve previously discussed, smaller caloric deficits work the best, typically, because they are more sustainable to adhere to long-term.
Now, we could go into more strict caloric deficits and see faster fat loss, but refer back to point 3 above → it doesn’t matter if you are eating a 1000+ calorie deficit a day if you can’t stick to it and end up going off the rails once, twice, or even more a week.
Consistency is KING here.
For this reason, you’re going to take your TDEE number and subtract 500-800 calories from this—that is your daily caloric goal.
There are approximately 3500 calories in a pound of fat. 500 x 7 is 3500 calories which is a pound per week, if you insist however, we can stretch that to 800 calories which is a little more than 1.5lbs of fat loss a week.
Now the reality is the weight will likely come off even quicker than this, but at these modest caloric deficits, you will feel better and find this much more sustainable.
What you’re going to do is buy a food scale and download an app to track for food intake to ensure you are accurately following your diet plan.
Food scale doesn’t matter, any will do, just make sure it tracks both ounces, pounds, and grams—really all you need, they are like $12 anywhere.
For apps to track food, I am highly partial to Carbon Diet Coach, which will actually do ALL the above when it comes to calculating how much to eat, but the app has a monthly subscription and costs money, so if that doesn’t fly then I like MyMacros+, and if that doesn’t work (I think it’s 99 cents), then MyFitnessPal works, but I seriously DO NOT like the app (spend the few dollars, it’s worth it, or find something that does work for you for free).
Now, for your actual diet, let’s refer back to the last post:
For muscle growth and general fitness, I will always recommend this as base guidance:
1 Gram of Protein per Pound of Bodyweight (or estimated lean body weight if very overweight)
.3 Grams of Fat per Pound of Bodyweight to support hormone health and vitamin absorption
After this is met, you can use to remaining calories to have as many carbs or more fats depending on your preferences
While some like lower-carb diets, if gaining muscle as quickly as possible is your goal, then you’re going to want more carbs after your base fat needs are taken care of. Now, if you don’t care about “optimal” or say you have health reasons carbs don’t agree with you, eat few or even none and focus on fats and protein, you can and will gain muscle albeit not as fast.
For food choices, we want REAL food, you need to regulate and fix your hunger hormones and signaling, so just hitting this with some healthy food but then a bunch of junk food isn’t going to fix some of the underlying issues causing you to have issues with weight in the first place.
Rule of thumb:
If it comes from nature and is on the OUTSIDE aisles of a grocery store, it’s probably okay for you to eat.
Now this doesn’t mean boring and never having any junk or whatever, just that most of the time, you need to be focused on eating healthier. Use an 80/20 or 90/10 rule when it comes to diet—80/90% clean, healthy food, 10/20% whatever you feel like.
Step 4: Adjusting Your System Based on Feedback
Now, you know what you need to eat, what to eat, and all that good stuff… now what happens?
You are going to follow this plan as close to perfect as you can, you will mess up, that’s fine, but the goal is to string together as many “Perfect Days” as you can which means you:
Hit your daily activity goals
Did your workout for the day (you will have rest days of course)
Hit your caloric and protein goals
As you do this, this will mean that you will see the pounds shed off you like butter on a hot knife… but what if this progress stops?
We want to be using a scale, preferably once a week or once every few days (I am not a fan of daily because things don’t really happen on a day to day basis). The scale will give you honest feedback if you are making progress or not.
BUT, the scale can fail you for a few reasons → one of those might be that we are adding muscle while losing fat, which can slow down progress, and even reverse the numbers, especially if newer to training. For this reason we turn to old faithful—The Mirror.
Visual feedback is the most important as:
We are likely doing this because we want to look better
It will show us if we’re making positive changes or not—it can’t lie, only you can to yourself, so be brutally honest
If you’re not sure, we have a few options to consider, though I’m keeping this as simple as possible, I will add some complexity here.
First, establish if you’re truly stalling or it’s a mind game, results will not always be as fast as we want, so while it might look like you stalled, in reality you’re just holding water, maybe have actually added some muscle, or many other factors.
Give it a few days, up to a week, if nothing changes visually or the scale, then it’s time to implement 1 of few things:
Increase the amount you are moving—this could be adding more daily steps or adding (more?) cardio
Decreasing our calories—I suggest this secondary to increasing activity as keeping food as high as possible will make our lives easier when dieting—if decreasing, only 200-300 calories at a time
Maybe try eating 1 day at maintenance calories (can just use bodyweight x 15 = calories for approximate maintenance) and try to eat as many carbs within this window as you can, this can cause you to drop water weight if you’ve been holding it
Now, if you’ve done these calculations and followed the above steps initially and it didn’t work, then I suggest lowering calories by 100-200 a week until you start seeing improvements—TDEE calculators are just a good estimate but not 100% accurate.
You will keep repeating this process as you continue on, and you will stop once you’ve finally reached whatever fat loss goal it is that you have.
Step 5: Keep Experimenting With Your System Until You Find What Works *For You*
Health and Fitness are a lifelong lifestyle, not something we just do one time then we’re done. For you to be successful in this endeavor and live a long, healthy life, then you need to find exactly what works for you.
There are many different diet models, many different training programs, many different ways to do cardio, etc.—all that matters is you find the one that resonates with you, that you can stick with, and supports you in whatever health and fitness goals you have.
You don’t have to get married to one way of doing things, the best of us have tried multiple, multiple methodologies and combinations before we found what works exactly for us and our goals.
With that said, when it comes to fat loss, this is what will work because it’s rooted in the physiology and biological science of what makes fat loss happen—you need a caloric deficit—this is just a foolproof way to ensure we are eating in a caloric deficit.
At the end of the day, when you find your systems for health and fitness, this becomes a matter of fact, just a process of checking the boxes, being patient, and letting the results happen—and if they don’t we re-adjust until we do find the right formula.
But again, if fat loss is your goal right now, the only way to get there is via eating less calories than you burn.
Putting It All Together
Determine how much you need to eat.
Standardize your activities.
Set up your diet for fat loss.
Adjust based on your feedback (and then keep repeating 1-4 until you get your desired results).
Keep experimenting until you find what works for you.
Simple. Follow these steps and you will no doubt lose fat.
If you’re new here, I highly suggest going over to the “Start Here” post, well because… yeah you can see why that makes sense.
In the next couple days we have a 2 part post going out all about Micronutrients: What, How Much, and Why’s; as well as a post about Training Intelligently To Maximize Progress and Avoid Injury.
The tentative plan is to have the next downloadable program done and sent out to paid subscribers on July 20th, this will be the 3 Way Chest/Back, Arms, and Legs program.
Oh, and Happy 4th of July!
This is not Legal, Medical, or Financial advice. Please consult a medical professional before starting any workout program, diet plan, or supplement protocol. These are opinions from a Cartoon Ox.