This guide is aimed at individuals who are relatively new to fitness and training and want to lose weight – primarily FAT. This is important because dieting the wrong way will no doubt give you weight loss results but come at the cost of muscle mass too.
Calories in vs calories out
The easiest way to lose weight is to consume less calories than what you are burning each day.
This of course is over simplifying things quite a bit – A diet consisting purely of say McDonald’s could still enable someone to lose weight providing the total calories were under their maintenance or their TDEE (Total Daily Energy Expenditure). We do not recommend this as a healthy lifestyle choice but purely to illustrate the impact of eating the right amount of calories.
Where you get your calories from is important from a micro-nutrient and a macro-nutrient point of view – foods rich in protein will help you retain more muscle mass while in a calorie deficit and vitamin and mineral rich foods such as vegetables and fruit will ensure you get all the required nutrients your body needs to function optimally.
It can be extremely slow gaining muscle so dieting optimally will essentially prevent your body from breaking down muscle tissue to use as fuel and in turn burn fat for energy.
Protein should be kept high at around 1g per lb of bodyweight. Carbs and fats should still be included in your diet but these are the macro-nutrients that you will reduce upon reaching a plateau.
A lot of guys like to go for higher rep ranges and “feel the burn” – This in my mind is bad practice unless you are cutting with PED’s (Performance Enhancing Drugs). In a calorie deficit your body is less primed for recovery and increasing your volume on weight training days is trying to put less petrol in your car and travel further than you have been.
Getting this bit right will be the difference between success and failure so pay close attention to this section!
TDEE – Total Daily Energy Expenditure. Your TDEE is the amount of calories your body will maintain at. To lose weight we need to create a deficit, primarily through diet.
A really simple way to give you an estimated TDEE is to multiply your weight in lb by 11 then multiply this by your activity level.
|No exercise (desk job/sedentary)||1.2|
|5x week (intense)||1.55|
|Every day (intense) or twice daily||1.725|
|Daily exercise + physical job||1.9|
Billy weighs 170lb
170 x 11 = 1870
Billy trains 4x per week so 1870 x 1.418 = 2651
Now we know that Billy has a TDEE of 2651 – This is the amount of calories it would take for Billy to stay at the same weight. To lose weight we need to create a deficit, a good start is to knock off 500 calories from his TDEE. 2651 – 500 = 2151. This should net Billy a loss of around 1lb per week.
Everyone is different so this needs to be used just a starting point so you can then adjust depending on how your weight fluctuates.
A reasonable target for fat loss would be around 1 – 1.5lb per week. More than this and you risk losing muscle tissue and less you will be dieting for longer than you need to be.
Accept the fact that you will be hungry, weaker and look smaller. A lot of guys start dieting then 3-4 weeks in they will either binge and totally screw up their diet or they just put an end to it. Much of this is psychological and about following the process through to the end.
Cardio doesn’t have to be part of your weight loss plan to begin with IF you are currently lifting weights 3 or more times per week. Cardio should be added in a few weeks in to your plan when your calories have been reduced so that you don’t have to keep dropping them too low.
The type of cardio you should do is a hotly debated topic and we will have an individual article to address this! Assuming you’re relatively new to training (Since this is a beginner’s guide) then you will fine following a normal steady state protocol 2-3x per week for around 30-45 minutes.
If you find after introducing cardio that you’re losing weight too quickly then you have two options; increase your food intake and continue with the cardio OR drop one of the cardio sessions each week and then assess on your next weekly weigh in.
Plan of action
- Calculate your TDEE then create a deficit
- Weigh yourself first thing in the morning on the same day each week
- Prepare yourself psychologically
- Set your fat loss goal
- Monitor and adjust depending if you are losing too much or too little weight
- If your weight loss stalls drop your calories by 100 per day coming from carbohydrates (That’s 25g of carbs less)
Any questions or success stories please post them down below in the comments section. I’d love to hear from you.