If you want to know how to lose weight fast without sacrificing your muscle, metabolism, or health, then you want to read this article.
Youre here because you want to lose weight fast, and thats completely understandable.
Whether you have a lot or a little fat to lose, the sooner its over, the better.
You have to be careful what you wish for, though, because if you go about it incorrectlylike most people doyou may just wind up skinny fat.
In other words, if you do what most people dostarve yourself and do a bunch of cardioyoull lose weight alright, but youre probably not going to be happy with what you see in the mirror.
The reason for this is most rapid weight loss protocols are essentially crash diets that burn just as much muscle as fat, which ruins your body composition.
The goal, then, isnt to lose weight as quickly as possible, but to lose fat and not muscle as quickly as possible.
Thats how you get lean, toned, and defined, not skinny, flabby, and weak.
And when thats the goal, you have to do things very differently. The good news, though, is the better way is also easier than you probably think.
Thats right, once you know what youre doing, you can not only lose fat (and not muscle) rapidly, but you can do it without suffering. In fact, you can even enjoy the process.
Thats what youre going to learn in this article.
And then youre going to get a proven diet and exercise plan that you can start today and see real results within your first week.
Lets get started.
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Flip open any magazine, book, or blog article on how to lose weight fast, and this is more or less what youre going to be told:
And it worksfollow that plan and youll lose weight faster than Hollywood ruined the Star Wars franchise.
What you wont do, however, is get the body you really want. Instead, youre likely to wind up skinny fat, like this:
Now, Im not saying that these people should be ashamed of their bodies, but lets be real: those arent the looks that makes us want to get off the couch and under the squat rack.
For that, we need more payoff, like these guys and gals:
So, what did these people do that everyone else gets wrong?
Well, lets start with what they didnt do. They didnt . . .
Most popular weight loss diets have two things in common:
And this works wellfollow that plan and you will lose weight fast.
If you look at your body composition, though, then its clear this approach does more harm than good.
You see, when youre in a large calorie deficit and eating too little protein, you lose fat, but you also lose quite a bit of muscle as well and your metabolism slows down markedly.
Hunger also skyrockets after a few weeks, leaving you primed to binge back much of the weight you lost.
This is because theres a point of diminishing returns when it comes to calorie restriction. Reduce your calorie intake slightly, and you can lose weight consistently without excessive hunger, cravings, or muscle loss.
Try cutting calories too much, though, and all of those problems can spiral out of control.
These problems are only made worse when you also dont eat enough protein. Study after study after study has shown that people who follow a high-protein diet lose less muscle, experience less hunger, and burn more calories when they restrict their food intake.
So, those are the two biggest dietary sins people make when trying to lose weight fast.
The picture gets even worse if we look at how most people train
The 3-Step Skinny Fat Solution
Many people equate cardio with weight loss and figure the more they do, the more weight theyll lose.
Cardio does help burn calories and thus fat, but do too much while dieting and youre asking for a world of hurt.
Specifically, youre going to . . .
Lets take a closer look at each of these downsides.
Due to various cellular adaptations that occur when you do endurance training, it can directly interfere with strength and muscle building.
In other words, the more cardio you do in general, the harder it is to gain muscle and strength.
Furthermore, the longer your cardio sessions are, the more pronounced this interference effect is.
This is why it isnt surprising that doing too much cardio when your calories are restricted for fat loss, which already reduces anabolic hormone levels and protein synthesis rates, is an easy way to accelerate muscle loss.
Research shows that cardiovascular exercise alone guarantees little in the way of fat loss. In fact, many people wind up even fatter than when they began their cardio routines.
How could that be, youre wondering?
No, its not metabolic voodoo, muh hormones, or anything other than this:
For many people, doing a lot of cardio causes them to be generally hungrier than usual, which makes it easier to accidentally eat too much (thereby preventing fat loss or even causing fat gain).
This is especially true if youre not following a meal plan or tracking your food intake. Its all too easy to eat back the few hundred calories you burn after a cardio workout without even realizing it. A couple handfuls of nuts and a piece of fruit or a protein bar is all it takes.
As youll soon learn, you have to control your calories to lose a significant amount of fat. Theres just no way around it.
Unfortunately, one of the prices you have to pay for a slimmer waistline is an impaired ability to recover from your training. When youre dieting to lose weight, your body just cant bounce back as quickly as youre used to.
So, what happens when combine calorie restriction with hours and hours of cardio each week?
Sure, youll burn a lot of calories, but youll outpace your bodys ability to recover from your workouts and experience symptoms of overtraining, like
Even worse, research shows that doing too much cardio while cutting can also accelerate muscle loss.
All this is why I recommend a lot less cardio while cutting than many fitness gurus. (More on this in a minute.)
How Much Cardio You Should Do (and How Much Is Too Much)
This is often recommended as a way to increase calorie burning and really bring out the muscle definition.
Not so much.
Dropping the weights and increasing the volume (reps) doesnt automagically produce more muscle separation, density, or vascularity. It doesnt even burn that many more calories compared to high-weight, lower-volume (strength training) workouts.
Instead, you want to do a lot of heavy compound weightlifting when youre cutting, and well talk about why soon.
How to Measure and Improve Your Body Composition
Use this workout and flexible dieting program to lose up to 10 pounds of fat and build muscle in just 30 dayswithout starving yourself or living in the gym.
Over the years, Ive tried many different weight loss diets and training regimens.
Some have worked better than others, and over time, Ive been able to glean enough workable principles and insights and then organize them into an extremely effective and efficient weight loss regimen.
With this regimen, you can lose about a pound of fat per week (more if youre overweight, slightly less if youre lean looking to get really lean) while preservingor possibly even gainingmuscle.
Even better, you wont have to struggle with hunger and cravings, your energy levels wont crash, and your workout performance will be minimally impacted.
Heres how you do it:
Lets learn more about each.
In order to lose body fat, you need to regularly feed your body less energy than it burns.
This is known as creating a calorie deficit, and it causes the body to slowly whittle down its fat stores to meet its daily energy demands.
Mainstream weight loss gurus, magazines, and diet books try to sidestep this scientific fact because, well, its boring. Most people are sick of hearing about calories and want something else.
Thus, instead of educating you on how the human metabolism actually works, experts make up stories about how a single bogeymana hormone (insulin) or food (carbohydrate), for exampleis making you fat, and that all you have to do is eliminate it from your life and the pounds will fall off.
This kind of highly restrictive dieting can result in weight loss, but not for the reasons that most people think.
Its not the elimination of starches, meats, or sugars, or the fasting or meal timing that causes the weight loss. Its just this:
Once you remove all of your favorite higher-calorie foods (like carbohydrate and sugar-rich delights) and replace them with lower calorie options, your calorie intake naturally plummets.
And then, by extension, you lose weight.
This approach can work to a point, but it usually fails in the end for a number of reasons.
First, its unsustainable.
It often creates large calorie deficits that lead to all of the problems related to starvation dieting that we discussed earlierhunger, cravings, lethargy, and muscle lossand you can only go for so long without the foods you actually like to eat before you lose the will to keep going.
Second, its easy to mess up.
Regardless of how restrictive your diet is, if you eat too many calories, youre going to stop losing weight.
Research shows that this is exactly what happens to many people who follow these types of diets: slowly but surely, they eat more and more of the foods theyre allowed to eat, and eventually, the weight loss stalls.
All this is why I recommend that you control your calorie intake and maintain an aggressivebut not recklesscalorie deficit of about 25%.
In other words, when you want to lose fat and not muscle as quickly as possible, I recommend that you eat about 75% of your total daily energy expenditure (TDEE).
A number of studies have borne this out, including one conducted by scientists at the University of Jyvaskyla.
They divided high-level, lean (10% body fat or less) track and field athletes into 2 groups:
Both groups followed a high-protein diet and trained as usual.
After four weeks, the group eating the least number of calories lost four pounds of fat and little to no muscle, whereas the group that maintained the smaller calorie deficit lost only a little fat.
In other words, doubling the size of the calorie deficit resulted in significantly more fat loss, but not muscle loss.
The group that followed the 750-calorie deficit wasnt starving, eitherthey still ate over 2,000 calories a day.
This jives with what Ive experienced with my own body and with the thousands of people Ive worked with.
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