Fat Loss 101
Updated: Feb 1
Following my own recent transformation, I wanted to provide people with a comprehensive but easy to read and understand piece on fat loss. Ok, we all know what the key to fat loss is, right? Calorie deficit. Yeah, everyone including myself has shoved this down your throats more than enough times. The fitness industry loves flogging this horse. In fact, “calorie deficit” has become the new “eat less, move more”. But, that aside let’s run through all the various stages and factors that will determine a successful and sustainable fat loss plan.
Why you’re fat
So, let’s begin by getting into why you’re fat in the first place. Well, it is all your fault so stop blaming your “poor” genetics, your supposed lack of time, the fact you have a family or your made-up body type. No, you aren’t overweight because you’re an “endomorph”, you’re overweight because you over eat, so don’t use made up bullshit as an excuse. The first step to actually losing the weight is to step back, take some responsibility and be self-accountable. Because fuck your feelings, your fat doesn’t give two shits about how you feel. If whinging and whining burned fat, then there’d be a whole lot of lean MF’s around.
Weight gain is a slippery slope
Again, you being fat is entirely your fault. Let me just reiterate that. However, having said that I can personally attest to how easy it is to get fat. We have so much access to cheap hyper-palatable, nutrient void, tasty foods i.e. your cookies, cakes, chocolates, crisps, snack food etc. These foods are easy to eat because they taste fucking good but also aren’t filling, meaning you’re more likely to end up stuffing your face and overeating. If you’re mentally fragile or have somewhat of a food addiction (if you’re obese then this applies to you) your best bet would be to remove or limit these items. I hate the idea of “elimination diets” where you actively avoid eating certain foods (i.e. bread, chocolate, pasta etc) because you think that one food is somehow responsible for your weight gain, but if you know that you’re likely to binge on certain foods if they’re in the house then you’re best off not having them there in the first place.
In relation to this, if you are one of these people that constantly overeats and potentially goes out to the boozer more often than not and thinks white bread or pasta or fucking carbs in general “make” you fat then shut the fuck up, you idiot. Furthermore, your friend Kelly or Ron telling you they lost weight by removing this or that food is a muppet, too. They lost weight by eating in a calorie deficit, not by eliminating some evil, fat storing food!
Fuck your “fitspo”
I can’t believe that’s actually a word. In short; fuck your need for inspiration or your #fitspo or #goals. Keep in mind that your fitness “heroes” don’t actually look like that either. And appreciate literally every single fitness professional is on a plethora of drugs and supplement cocktails, despite claiming to be “natty”. If that offends you, suck it up and enter the real world. On top of that, you’ve got models who are already attractive by most beauty standards (which I guess are fucked anyway) being photoshopped to look thinner and/or “better”. This is probably the reason no fucker can take a photo of themselves without a filter, fuck sake. Look, your movie star heroes, fitness model “inspos” and favourite pro bodybuilder(s) get paid for what they do. That is their job. Do you really expect to look like them while working a regular job and hitting the gym 4 times a week? I’m all for setting almost unrealistic goals but come on. Think about it.
Celebrity Health Advice Sucks!
Following on from my “fitspo” rant, let’s talk about celebrity health advice. What a total crock of shit! Just assume celebrities don’t know shit about health and fitness, because more often than not, they fucking don’t. I don’t give a fuck if your favourite actor has a six pack and attributes it to eating a fucking pinecone every day, that’s utter nonsense. I could care less what the latest “in” fad is, just don’t buy into it. Celebrity endorsements are ultimately scams. Your favourite celeb or model or singer of whoever the fuck didn’t get their physique from diet pills, magic potions or special powders. Don’t be so naïve.
Factors influencing fat loss
Now that that’s out the way we can focus on what determines and influences fat loss. We’re basically gonna run through one of those fat loss pyramids you see online and break it down bit by bit here:
1. Adherence – No diet is gonna work at all if you don’t adhere to it and follow it through. I don’t give a fuck if you go low carb, low fat, vegan, keto etc and I don’t give a toss if your friend loves fasting or fucking paleo. If you cannot follow your diet then it will not work, period. Find a dieting strategy that suits you. Personally, I love carbs so I’m always gonna opt for having carbs as high as possible while sacrificing fat. But that’s just my preference. There’s no point jumping on a bandwagon if you hate it.
2. Consistency – This stems from the adherence factor. Again, you’re far less likely to stick to a diet and run with it if you hate it. It’s also better to be consistently “good” with some minor blips here and there than it is to chase perfection, be “perfect” for a week and then splurge and binge for another 5 days. Commit to what you’re doing and stay consistent.
3. Calories – This is it right here. You know what I’m gonna say. Consume less calories than you expend! It really is as simple as that. I know dieting isn’t “easy”, but it is as simple as putting less energy into your body than it needs. The easiest way to accomplish this from my experience is to eat less. Using (mainly cardiovascular) exercise to burn calories/energy is all well and good but I think people grossly overestimate how many calories exercise burns. It isn’t anywhere near what you think, and your cardio machine that tells you how much you’ve “burned” is a goddam liar. It’s far easier to not eat 300 calories worth of food than it is to burn off 300 calories. Cardio can definitely help, should be done for overall health and may be necessary if you wanna get extremely lean or “shredded” as they say, but I think it’s overhyped for fat loss.
4. Net calorie deficit – Ok, so we now know that a calorie deficit is needed, but how much? Well, larger and obese individuals can get away with a bigger deficit while lighter and leaner individuals should probably use a smaller, more conservative deficit if they want to retain as much muscle mass as possible. Simply put, the fatter you are the more you can afford to lose quicker. Larger folks can make use of using a 20-30% deficit whereas lighter folks should probably ere on the side of caution with a 10-20% deficit. For this you’ll need to work out an estimate of your maintenance calories, so to do this the simplest method would be to multiply your bodyweight (in lbs) by 14-15. This isn’t 100% accurate, but neither is dieting, and you’ll be adjusting your calorie intake throughout the weeks/months, so it isn’t overly important. From here you simply take your deficit, so for example; a 250lb guy who’s carrying a fair bit of bodyfat would do 250 x 15 =3750. From there let’s opt for a substantial deficit of 30% so we’d do 3750 x 0.7 = 2625. That’s his initial calories, which will most definitely reduce as he loses weight. A solid, healthy measure of progress would be to lose between 1-2lbs per week. Again, larger individuals may get away with losing more but on average 1-2lbs is just about right.
5. Adequate daily protein – An extremely vital component and factor here for both fat loss and retaining as much muscle mass as possible. Yes, while dieting you may lose some muscle mass so ensuring you get enough protein is essential. A good rule of thumb here is to consume between 0.9-1.2g protein per lb of bodyweight. I think this should technically be based off your lean body mass (so excluding your fat mass) however, that’s overkill for a lot of people, and “overconsuming” a bit of protein won’t hurt. So, for example guy who’s 250lbs we’d simply take 250 x 0.9-1.2 = between 225-300g. For obese people weighing over 200lbs I’d opt for the lower end so you can save more calories for carbs and/or fats. For leaner and lighter guys, I’d run with the higher end. Personally, I had a lot of success using protein-overfeeding. Essentially eating 300g+ of protein per day (no, this isn’t bad for your liver or kidneys), so that may be a strategy that works for you.
6. Carbohydrate and Fat intake – Right, we’ve established our daily calories and protein requirements so all we need to do now is fill in the gaps with carbs and fats. As I’ve said before, it doesn’t fucking matter what you do here. If you wanna go high fat, low carb then have at it but if you wanna go high carb, low fat then knock yourself out. It simply does not matter so long as you’re maintaining a calorie deficit. But, how do you know how many grams of both carbs and fats to have? Well, let’s do a little mathematics eh? Protein and carbs both contain 4 calories per gram. So 100g of pure protein will contain 400 calories and similarly, 100g of pure carbohydrate will also contain 400 calories. Note how I said “pure” protein and carbs there? That’s because your protein powders, meats, Greek yogurt and all your other sources aren’t 100% protein, and your rice, oats, breads, potatoes etc aren’t 100% carbs. They’re foods which will contain various amounts of protein, carbs and fats. Get used to reading nutrition labels and using databases. Now, fats contain 9 calories per gram, therefore 100g of pure fat would contain 900 calories which, as you can see is more than double that of both protein and carbs. Hence why I personally prefer lowering my fats. From here you’ll have to do some simple calculations, but you can do all this online if needs be.
7. Calorie cycling – This is something I’ve kinda rediscovered but used years ago in the past, and it’s the basic premise of things like the 5:2 diet. Basically, all you do here is vary your calorie intake on certain days. Simple as that. 4-5 days out the week you might eat at maintenance or even in a deficit and then the other 2-3 days vice versa. All that matters here is that your weekly net calories fall within a deficit. Note, you absolutely do not have to cycle your calories. You can lose fat maintaining a standard deficit every day, cycling is just something that has worked for me in the past.
8. Meal timing – Meal timing is highly irrelevant in almost any endeavour, unless you’re training multiple times per day or are a top-level athlete. People who spout eating 6 meals a day every 2 hours are talking broscience bullshit or they aren’t realising just how much food top bodybuilders or strongmen eat. It’s hard to fit 5000+ calories into 3-4 meals without messing with your digestion. Don’t major in the minors here, eat when you’re hungry or at a set routine.
9. Supplements – Over the counter supplements are almost entirely useless. So-called “fat burners” and “diet drinks” or any of that malarkey simply do not and will not work for you. Don’t waste your money on this shit. You’d be better off hiring a Coach. Oh, and your “detox” tea or whatever the fuck you’ve bought ain’t gonna do shit for you so throw that shit down the toilet, because that’s where it’s gonna end up anyway! There are a handful of supplements that may help but I won’t be discussing those here as the calorie expenditure will be marginal at best.
10. Factors of varying importance – This is where I’d consider things like sleep, stress management, food choices and patience. Get yourself around 8 solid hours of sleep per night, control your stress as best you can, eat good wholesome foods most of the time and appreciate losing weight takes time. These may seem insignificant or less important but I’m telling you now, that couldn’t be more wrong. Sleep and stress management can make or break your gains or progress when it comes to both fat loss and muscle gain.
11. TDEE, NEPA and NEAT – Your TDEE is your total daily energy expenditure, which is the summation of your basal metabolic rate (BMR) or the energy you require to merely survive combined with your activity level. NEAT and NEPA stand for None Exercise Activity Thermogenesis and None Exercise Physical Activity respectively. All this is is the amount of energy or calories burned during daily tasks that you might not consider “exercise” such as things like walking to/from work or school, tidying the house, doing the gardening etc etc. Obviously the more active you are, the more energy you’ll be expending, and all the small things add up.
Discipline, Consistency and Autonomy –
Live by these three words. Motivation is utter bullshit. People who constantly bitch and moan about their need for motivation are the same fucks that are gonna be fat and weak forever. Discipline yourself. There are gonna be many times when you don’t wanna train or things aren’t feeling spectacular. Well, tough shit, that’s life, deal with it. Life is often chaotic and unpredictable. Consistency is how you build achievements and see results. Shit doesn’t happen overnight, so stop expecting it to. You didn’t get fat in one day and one fucking pizza ain’t gonna ruin your physique so don’t expect one “good” day of eating salads and rubbing kale all over yourself to magically transform you. This stuff takes time. Autonomy is the ultimate goal. It is the product of the first two. Once you are disciplined and dedicate yourself consistently, then you’ll become autonomous. Having the self-assurance that comes from years of being disciplined and consistent will allow you to eat what you want, when you want. Because the thing is, by this stage you won’t wanna fucking pig out or binge on shit whenever your favourite TV show isn’t on, or whenever you’ve had a “bad” session or get upset. You’ll understand that you can have pizza, cake, chocolate, cookies etc in moderation because you eat well the absolute majority of the time. You won’t feel guilty about going out to eat or grabbing a takeaway now and then because you just pushed a prowler or sprinted up a hill 10-20 times that same day or the day before.
The Cardio Debate – Here we go sounding like a broken record. What’s better; HIIT or LISS? Bottom line is it doesn’t fucking matter. Hardly anyone does HIIT correctly anyway. The key with HIIT is in the title, it’s high intensity intervals, not flip flopping around on an elliptical while talking to your mate. Furthermore, the whole idea of this “afterburn” or EPOC is ridiculously overhyped. You aren’t burning any significant amount of calories post exercise due to HIIT, I think it’s roughly an extra 10-14%. So, if your HIIT session burned 300 calories you might burn an extra 30ish calories due to this “afterburn” effect. LISS or low intensity steady state cardio is exactly that; low intensity, long duration, boring ass cardio. HIIT is obviously a lot more taxing on the body than LISS and could potentially cause some recovery issues, so use it sparingly. LISS on the other hand, from my totally personal and anecdotal experience could potentially tap into muscle mass and like I’ve mentioned before, when I do conditioning work, I want it to be something fun and fucking awesome! Walking for 40 minutes or more is hardly awesome. But, having said that, boring is sometimes necessary. My preferred form of “cardio” is strongman type medleys or barbell complexes, but I do these for conditioning and fun, not necessarily to burn calories. In fact, doing exercise to burn calories is futile in my opinion. As I’ve mentioned before, it’s much easier to not eat a 300-calorie chocolate bar than it is to burn off 300 calories.
How to train –This one couldn’t be simpler; Lift heavy weights! The main issue we face when dieting is retaining muscle mass, so if you built your frame on heavy squats, deadlifts, horizontal and vertical pulls and pushes then keep doing that! Do what you did before! Maybe reduce volume slightly but don’t completely change anything. Think, this won’t be the time to set new personal records or be at your all time best, but you shouldn’t be drastically sacrificing strength here. Oh, and high reps low weight to burn more calories is fucking dumb. Really fucking dumb.
Out training a bad diet? – Another topic of debate here. This all comes down to how you define a “bad” diet. If by “bad” you mean eating mainly junk food then yes, you can out train a bad diet, providing you’re in a calorie deficit. Calories are your deciding factor in weight loss. Sure, eating mainly junk food won’t be great for your health, but you can still lose weight this way. Now, if you define “bad” as consuming too many calories, regardless of if you’re eating “clean” or not, which by the way can we stop with this “clean eating” dumbfuckery, please? Every time I hear someone talk about eating “clean” makes me wanna jam a fork into their eyes. So, if you define a “bad” diet as being in a calorie surplus then no, you can’t out train that, because you’re eating too much. While we’re on the topic of “clean” eating let me just say that no food is inherently bad, and I am a big advocate of the whole “If it fits your macros” approach. The big problem I’ve found with the IIFYM crowd, however, is they rarely take micronutrients into account. We’ve established that so long as you’re in a calorie deficit you can essentially eat like shit and lose weight (and still become potentially healthier). I mean shit, some guy lost a whole load of weight eating nothing but ice cream for fuck sake. A good diet, however, provides adequate calories for your goal(s) alongside enough minerals and nutrients vital for overall health and performance. What I’m saying here basically is eat your damn veggies and drink your water!
An end note on the topic of dieting and food intake is that sugar isn’t inherently evil and going to kill you, despite all its demonization online. Aspartame and sweeteners are fine, I’ve already done a video on this so unless you’re planning on necking 30+ cans of diet coke a day I wouldn’t worry. Additionally, missing a meal isn’t a huge deal, we’ve already gone over meal timing but if any fucking imbecile tells you you’re gonna go into “starvation mode” and start storing huge amounts of fat because you missed a meal, promptly punch them in the face and find another Coach or friend. You aren’t fucking starving! And if you’re gaining weight then you sure as hell aren’t fucking starving. Enough with this bullshit. Pfft, fucking “starvation mode”.
Dieting titbits and advice – Here’s just some little insights and “hacks” that have worked for me which I thought I’d share:
1. You should not be hungry on 2500 calories. Make better food choices. Up your fibre. Get enough water. Eat more greens. Make friends with black coffee, diet (calorie free) sodas or flavoured teas (peach tea is the fucking shit!) and low-calorie soups if need be.
2. Having said that, keep in mind that you are dieting to lose weight and that hunger is part of the process. Sometimes you will be hungry. This is normal. Push through it.
3. Eat your calories. Save the shakes and smoothies and all that shit for when you’re in a surplus and less likely to be hungry. Eating your calories will help with your satiety.
4. Double your veggies, half your starch. This little titbit I got from Dr. Spencer Nadolsky, and it’s extremely simple. Simple double the amounts of greens you’re eating and halve the amount of starchy carbohydrates you’re having at meals. This’ll help cut calories massively and should keep you feeling full.
5. When it comes to fat loss, more is more. Training 2-3 times a week is fine, especially if that’s all you can do. But training more will always be better for fat loss. If you want faster results, then getting in the gym more often will absolutely make that happen. Bear in mind however, that more training means more recovery required. So you’re going to have to find your own personal maximum recoverable volume…or don’t train like a madman every damn day if you’re constantly feeling like hammered shit. A calorie deficit is a recovery deficit so do your best to maximize your recovery.
6. Appreciate you might lose (some) strength. If you’re relatively lean, then getting leaner might require a sacrifice of strength. You’ve gotta prioritise in this case. What’s more important to you? I’m not saying that you should be losing an excessive amount of strength, at all! If you’re on quite a severe or extended diet, then I’d say somewhere between the 5-10% range on your lifts is ok. Not ideal by any means, but definitely recoverable once you start eating properly again.
7. You are your biggest variable, so be accountable! If you’re using a food log or tracker then be meticulous! Put everything you eat/drink in, and I mean everything! Be honest with yourself.
8. Don’t go shopping on an empty stomach. It won’t end well.
9. FAD diets are for fuckheads.
10. Not all salads or coffees or other foods are created equally. A super-duper mocha Frappuccino from Starbucks is not the same as a black coffee. A super-sized McDonalds chicken Caesar salad with extra dressing is not the same as a side salad. Be sensible. Be smart.
11. Sit ups and spot fat loss reduction is dumb as fuck. Sit ups or direct ab work will not burn belly fat or anything like that. This is pure nonsense. This is equally as stupid as saying squats will burn leg fat or bicep curls will burn arm fat. See, stupid.
12. Be patient. You did not get fat overnight. You aren’t going to get lean overnight. You didn’t get fat by eating one “bad” meal. You aren’t going to get lean eating one salad. Patience is one of your biggest assets when it comes to weight loss.
13. Use various tools to measure fat loss. Sure, the scale is a decent tool, but it can be detrimental to your progress, especially if you aren’t consistent with your weigh ins. If I were personally gonna use the scale I’d measure myself every day then take a weekly average, because so many things can influence weight fluctuations throughout the day/week. Additionally, progress photos, skinfold measurements or seeing how your clothes fit are other methods of monitoring fat loss.
Drugs - Ok, final topic! Let’s get this out the way. Drugs will definitely help, hands down, no question about it. I am not advocating you take drugs however, if you’ve already fallen to the dark side then you’re probably gonna do it anyway.
Anabolic Androgenic Steroids – Ok, anyone using steroids for the sole purpose of losing weight is a moron. Steroids aren’t things to fuck around with, so if you and your “boys” are thinking of taking some Anavar to get “shredded” before Ibiza then kindly go fuck yourself. If anything, people will use steroids in order to maintain muscle mass when dieting. Using steroids will give you a larger margin of error when dieting but they in no way replace the need for a calorie deficit. Now, steroids sound great but don’t forget they come with an extensive list of potential health issues and risks, and as I said previously, if you’re using steroids simply to lose fat then you’re dumb. Some steroids do supposedly have fat burning qualities, but I honestly believe these to be negligible at best and in no way a replacement for a significant calorie deficit. If you are going to take steroids, then I can’t stop you but taking them solely to lose weight is a foolish endeavour in my opinion.
Clenbuterol – Many people confuse clenbuterol as a steroid when in fact it is simply a beta-2-agonist which exerts adrenaline-like effects and has some anti-catabolic properties. All this basically means is that this drug is a potent stimulant with some muscle preserving capabilities. Originally, clen was developed as a veterinary respiratory drug and bronchodilator in order to make breathing easier in animals and eventually humans as it was used to treat asthma. Clen works by binding to the same receptor’s adrenaline does, promoting fat burning. Clen also binds to muscle cells and promotes protein synthesis, which helps preserve muscle mass when dieting. So far sounds good, right? Well again, Clen has its fair share of potential side effects that might deter you from its use. High blood pressure, hypertrophy of the left ventricle (which in turn increases one’s risk of heart disease), cramps, vomiting, nausea, dizziness, and more can come as a result of using clenbuterol.
T3 – T3 is your primary active thyroid hormone and a main regulator of your metabolism. The more free T3 you have, the faster your metabolism will be. T3 supplementation was designed as a medicinal thyroid replacement for those with hypothyroidism, however its alternative use is to increase one’s energy turnover and expenditure, but also to improve nutrient partitioning. I think there are a lot of rumours surrounding T3, with the most common being that you’re likely to disrupt and mess up your own thyroid production if you use T3. From the papers and research, I’ve looked at I believe this to be false, however if you think it isn’t worth running the risk then I can only advise against using T3. Furthermore, T3 is a compound I’d actually “recommend” using anabolic steroids with (and I use that term loosely) due to its potential catabolic effects, which will be exacerbated while in a calorie deficit.
Yohimbine – Yohimbine is an alpha-2-receptor antagonist which ultimately acts like most stimulants and triggers your sympathetic nervous system, however the fact yohimbine works via blocking alpha 2 receptors makes it a potential viable fat loss aid. Yohimbine is actually the only legal “supplement” on this list which, from my own experience surprises me. My experience with yohimbine has been dreadful to say the least. I once took what was considered a low-moderate dose and ended up feeling like Joey Jordinson was pounding away in my chest. Not for me, and a lot of the research behind it isn’t that spectacular. Plus, it’s an over the counter supplement which automatically means it pales in comparison to the rest on this list.
Growth Hormone – From all the studies I’ve looked at (which to be honest, isn’t many) I think growth hormone has been vastly overrated and over hyped for fat loss. I think, if I recall correctly, one study had patients taking 24IU of pharmaceutical grade growth hormone for 6 weeks and their mean fat loss was about 2%. Definitely not worth the hassle or cost in my opinion. However, I personally know so many people who absolutely rate growth hormone for its synergistic effects and fat burning properties, so maybe I’m wrong.
DNP – I’ve mentioned this horrific drug before. Bottom line is this just ain’t worth the risk in my opinion. Originally noted as an ingredient in pesticides, explosives and dyes, DNP is an extremely potent fat burner. DNP works by disrupting cellular respiration by blocking pathways in our mitochondria which promotes an increase in oxygen consumption and overall energy expenditure. This also causes a surge in body temperature, which is where the issues come in. If you aren’t extremely careful you will literally cook yourself from the inside, and once this starts to happen, I don’t think it’s reversible. Now, I know a few guys who have successfully run DNP and been fine (well, not dead at least) so they might advise using DNP. This, like advising using any of these compounds on this list is unethical and irresponsible in my opinion. I’m simply acknowledging that there are these substances out there. The rest of the list doesn’t particularly concern me; however, DNP is something I would actively steer clear of, especially if you’re simply trying to lose a bit of weight. The risks highly outweigh the rewards here. Just to be clear and clarify; the use of DNP can and likely will result in DEATH for most people.
Semaglutide – Semaglutide has become increasingly popular recently, and is actually approved (and hailed) by a lot of doctors I follow. This drug essentially supressed appetite and promotes the feeling of fullness after eating, which enables people to eat less and basically makes it easier to maintain a calorie deficit.
Orlistat – Another drug that’s garnered recent popularity. Orlistat comes from a branch of medications that prevent the absorption of fats by inhibiting the lipase enzymes. What this basically does it stop you from absorbing some of the fat from your foods. This deposit of unabsorbed fat is then discarded…meaning shat out.
So, there you have it, folks. My comprehensive, basic guide to fat loss. Summing everything up I’d say losing weight is simply a case of creating and sustaining a calorie deficit over a varied period. You will have to monitor and adjust your calories as you lose weight. An extremely simple way of finding your weight loss calories would be to multiply your bodyweight (in lbs) by 11-13 (lower for heavier/fatter people and higher for leaner folks in my opinion) but take that as a mere estimate and guide. The biggest factor when it comes to fat loss is always going to be you! You must be accountable and honest. Be disciplined, be consistent, become autonomous. No one can do this for you, so stop crying over “motivation” and actually get off your ass and take some action. Hiring a Coach would be an incredible investment, but again, Coaches can’t do the work for you, they can’t diet for you and they can’t be responsible for your lack of effort if that’s the case.
Demand more from yourself by demanding more from yourself. Make better choices. Be a better person. You will thank yourself.
Lift Strong and Conquer!