Everyone on this planet has completely separate DNA (except identical twins), meaning we’re all unique.
However, when it comes to losing weight almost everyone is programmed the same way. When a person enters a calorie deficit, weight loss always follows.
We all burn a set amount of calories each day. So, if a person burns 2,000 calories a day and they consume 1,500 calories; they’ll enter a calorie deficit of 500 and lose weight.
If that same person consumes 2,500 calories, they’ll gain weight. And should they eat 2,000 calories they’ll maintain their weight.
Can You Eat Junk Foods When ‘Dieting’?
The answer is yes and this dieting concept is known as IIFYM (if it fits your macros) or flexible dieting.
A professor named Mark Haub put this junk food theory to the test after living on Twinkies, Doritos, donuts, among other sinful treats for 10 weeks.
Despite eating these devilish delicacies, he consistently ate in a deficit of calories.
His results: he lost 27lbs in just 10 weeks and reduced his body fat percentage by 8%.
This proves that you DON’T have to eat healthy to lose weight.
It’s a myth.
Although you don’t NEED to eat healthy to lose weight, it’s always recommended that a large portion of your diet does come from healthy, unrefined foods.
Otherwise you may end up losing weight and looking amazing on the outside, but actually become unhealthy on the inside.
Interestingly though, Mark Haub’s LDL levels (bad cholesterol) dropped by 20% and his triglycerides (fat molecules in the blood) also reduced by 39% (1). So there is evidence to suggest that losing weight from eating junk food can actually improve your health to some degree.
However, here’s a list of healthy foods that should make up the majority of your diet.
- Lean beef
- Cottage cheese
- Wholegrain rice
- Wholewheat pasta
- Wholemeal bread
Healthy (unsaturated) fats:
- Fish fats
- Olive oil (extra virgin is best)
My Cutting Transformation
The lowest my body fat’s ever been was around 6%.
During this transformation I was eating junk foods on a daily basis. if I wanted pizza, cookies or some ice cream – I’d eat it.
Like Haub, the key element throughout this ‘junk food diet” was making sure I hit the correct amount of calories to eat in a deficit.
(Note: I don’t recommend this type of weight loss as it isn’t a healthy way to lose weight. It was an experiment and only done short term).
Eating healthy foods to lose weight CAN work but it doesn’t guarantee weight loss.
For example, eating healthy unrefined foods will fill you up for longer as they’ll prevent your blood sugar levels from crashing. When your blood sugar levels are low it encourage cravings and binge eating, as your body wants to spike your sugar levels back to normal again.
Until they are regulated you are left hungry and irritable.
By stabilizing your sugar levels by eating healthy sources of carbohydrates; this can indirectly cause you to eat less calories, as you’ll feel more full/satisfied.
People Can Get Fat Eating Healthy Foods
On the flip side, there are some people who eat 100% clean and healthy but never lose any weight because they’re simply consuming too many calories.
In terms of weight loss It’s irrelevant if these are ‘healthy calories’. if your portions are too big, you will not lose weight. Simples.
And yes, it is possible to become obese from eating salad.
…You’ll just have to eat a whole field of it.
Cardio is Optional
The same principle applies to cardio. You can do 30 minutes of running which may burn 500 calories, but that doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll burn fat. Because you can go home afterwards and overeat, counteracting the calories burned during the run.
However, doing cardio to burn calories can help you lose weight indirectly, as it increases the chances of you entering a calorie deficit.
So whether you do cardio or not is up to you and is a personal preference, but it’s not essential when trying to lose weight.
What I usually do is a brisk walk for 60 minutes (when I’ve been dieting for a few months) which burns approximately 400 calories. I do this near the end of my cutting phase, because after you lose a significant amount of weight your metabolism will slow down and you’ll find it increasingly difficult to lose weight. Otherwise known as a weight loss plateau.
Walking allows me to spike my metabolism; and because it’s low-intensity it’s easy to stay consistent, performing it on a daily basis.
…As opposed to doing a hard 30 minute run every morning year-round, which 90% of people won’t have the level of commitment to do.
Excluding the month of January, where any exercise intensity is possible for the whole month.
#NewYearsResolutions #NewYear #NewYou.
How Many Calories Do YOU Need to Burn Fat?
The set amount of calories your body burns in a day is called your BMR (basil metabolic rate). This is based on your age, gender, height, weight and exercise level.
You can get a calculator to work out your rough BMR here – http://www.calculator.net/bmr-calculator.html
This number is just an estimate and your actual BMR is likely to be a slightly different number to this.
So say my BMR is 2,000. I have 2 choices:
I can choose to lose weight quickly or slowly.
Losing weight slowly will mean eating in a small calorie deficit. A small deficit of 500 calories would mean eating 1,500 calories a day (if my BMR was 2,000).
Losing weight slowly like this will burn fat and preserve muscle, which is why bodybuilders opt for this non-aggressive approach when cutting.
If your goal however is to lose weight more quickly and don’t mind losing some muscle, then you can adopt a more aggressive approach aka a big calorie deficit. Don’t go too crazy with your deficit though, otherwise you’ll end up looking like Christian Bale in The Machinist…
A large calorie deficit = 1,000-1,300 calories under maintenance.
So if your BMR is 2,000. You would eat 700-1,000 calories each day.
When eating in a large deficit like this, you need to ask yourself which muscles do you NOT want to shrink after you’ve lost the weight.
So for example, some women who have lost a lot of weight quickly will find that their bums have sagged if no exercise is performed. This is because they’ve lost muscle on their gluteus maximus.
Preventing Muscle Loss
To prevent muscle loss on a low calorie diet, I recommend training that muscle group 1-2 times a week in the gym for a duration of approximately 30 minutes.
So if you wanted to lose fat quickly but wanted a nice shaped bum by the end of it – 20 minutes of bum exercises (such as squats or lunges) will help a lot in keeping your bum firm and peachy.
Here’s a list of exercises you can do to tone each muscle group when losing weight:
Back: Pull ups, lat pulldowns, bent over rows, seated rows, deadlifts
Chest: Barbell bench press, dumbbell bench press, dips (leaning forwards), dumbbell/cable flys, push ups.
Shoulders: Side lateral raise, front raise, military press, rear lateral raise, face pull.
Triceps: diamond push ups, close-grip bench press, tricep extensions, V-Bar pushdown, dips.
Biceps: barbell curls, hammer curls, EZ bar curl, concentration curl, dumbbell bicep curl.
Abs: Sit ups, plank, hanging leg raises, high cable pulldowns, lying side bends.
Legs/bum: Leg extension, leg curl, deadlifts. squats, leg press.
Calves: calf raises, walking uphill, high-resistance cycling.
Lifting weights when dieting signals to your body that you need this muscle. So when you’re losing weight, pumping iron will allow your body to retain more muscle mass.
Burning fat and retaining/building muscle will also increase muscle tone. Building muscle when dieting is often the difference between looking skinny/slim or looking athletic.
Where to start?
- Take pictures of yourself now and progress photos once a week.
- Get your BMR calculation – http://www.calculator.net/bmr-calculator.html
- For fast fat loss subtract 1,000 or 1,300 from your BMR total. For slow weight loss subtract 500.
Pictures are a great measure of progress. Why? if you weigh yourself, you could lose 2lbs of fat and gain 2lbs of muscle. This is a considerable change to your body composition, however the number on the scales will stay the same.
Your BMR calculation is going to be the number of calories you consume each day. Your metabolism will slow down the more weight you lose, so your BMR will gradually keep getting lower.
…That sounds horrible.
Don’t fear young padawan, to keep burning fat simply adjust your calories whenever you begin to plateau (when you’re not getting leaner in the mirror).
Weight loss is a big psychological challenge as it is physiological.
But this means that not only will you look amazing at the end of your weight loss journey, but you’ll also develop mental toughness, which’ll increase the chances of you becoming successful in all areas of your life.
Sometimes it’s hard to tell if you’re really getting results, because they don’t come overnight. Instead it’s a gradual change over several weeks and months.
But your progress pictures and comments from your close ones saying how much slimmer you look will be the proof.
Wrapping it Up
If there’s one thing you take from this article please let it be…
Calories in < Calories burned = Weight Loss.
So don’t have a panic attack if you ate carbs at 9pm last night or feel like you need to go to confession because you ate a piece of chocolate cake.
…Unless you had cream with the cake, that’s a completely different story (only messing).
The formula for weight loss is a simple one:
…Be in a calorie deficit dammit!
Forget about macro nutrient myths like ‘no carbs before marbs’ and ‘eating fat makes you fat’ – they’re incorrect.
Also don’t let yourself get sidetracked by any miracle weight loss pills or diet fads that’ll inevitably pop up in magazines or fill your Facebook newsfeeds. If a diet works, it’s because its based on the concept of being in a deficit of calories.
No calorie deficit = no weight loss.
…And no Garcinia Cambogia doesn’t work (shame on your Dr. Oz).
The best person to help you when dieting is yourself. Remember dieting is psychological, so if your cupboards are loaded with sinful goodies, you’re bound to experience cravings.
Equally, don’t be watching Man vs Food or Cake Boss when you’ve just eaten your total calories for the day and you’ve got 2 hours before you hit the sack…
Anyhow, I wish you the best of luck on your weight loss journey! If you have any comments/questions be sure to leave a comment below 🙂