The first thing that you’re going to have to do to lose the weight, and keep it off, is to approach your goal with the right mental disposition. What this means is that most people will approach weight loss as a temporary activity, with a beginning and an end. Typically, when a new client walks through my gym doors, they will ask questions like “how long will this take?” and “will I keep the weight off after losing it?”
Of course, these questions are important and understandable. You want to burn the fat as fast as possible, and losing 20 pounds will be absolutely useless if you gain it all right back. However, 99.9 percent of the time, these questions stem from the mentality that we’re going to apply a temporary fix that will give you the body you want forever. Unfortunately, that’s not how losing weight permanently works. With this type of mentality, you will fail.
Let me give you a quick example to illustrate my point. Wouldn’t it sound silly to ask your dentist how long you have to brush your teeth to keep them white and never get cavities again? Yes. It would. You also wouldn’t ask for how long after you’re done brushing your teeth will they stay white and healthy because the action of brushing your teeth on a daily basis, for the rest of your life, is the very thing that gives you nice teeth and keeps them that way.
The way your body looks and feels is very similar. We all have a physical body which needs to be taken care of physically or else it will deteriorate over time.
The first step to losing fat the right way is to come to the conclusion that this is a lifelong commitment, just like brushing your teeth. I say this all the time, what your body looks like today is the result of what you’ve done for the last couple days, weeks, months, and years. So treat this as a permanent endeavor and you will be permanently rewarded with a better body.
Now, since this is permanent, you have to find a dieting approach that we can actually stick to and understand that there is no one right diet.
You can lose 20 pounds with a low carb diet, a high carb diet, there’s Atkins, keto, paleo, vegetarian, and a number of different diet approaches like carb cycling and fasting. All of them can help you lose weight and just because one works better than the other for me doesn’t mean that the same approach will work better for you.
Now that might sound confusing, but it’s absolutely critical that you find the best diet structure that works for you so you can actually stick to it.
To lose weight and keep it off you don’t have to avoid carbs, you don’t have to eat 5 to 6 small meals a day, and you don’t have to eat at specific times of the day. You have to create a caloric deficit, consume just enough protein to support lean body mass, and keep insulin levels low by sticking to whole single ingredient foods.
You can find whole single ingredient foods just by sticking to the outside aisles of your grocery store. When choosing what single ingredient foods to include in your diet make sure you’re choosing healthy options that you actually enjoy eating. All too often people will find out about a diet like the ketogenic diet for example and then almost immediately they’re following this new plan without ever thinking about the long term success associated with adopting such a plan.
The ketogenic diet can be great for people that love foods that are high in fat, but don’t really enjoy eating a lot of carbohydrates. If you like eating higher fat foods like steak, bacon, eggs, butter, avocados, cream cheese, and low carb veggies like asparagus and spinach then a keto style diet plan can be a very good fit for you. However, if you love oatmeal, rice, potatoes, bread, and pasta then giving up those foods for the rest of your life with a keto diet structure is probably going to lead to failure.
Now, this doesn’t mean that you’re going to be able to burn fat by eating only the foods that you want like potatoes and pasta everyday. However, there are absolutely ways that you can incorporate these foods into your diet plan, the same way that you can incorporate very high fat foods like lard and cream cheese into a keto plan.
So again, start by identifying what single ingredient foods you would like to be able to have in your diet. Next, you want to find a way to create a caloric deficit while still maintaining a high enough protein intake.
To lose weight at a regular pace, you want to aim for about a 20 percent reduction of calories from maintenance levels. If you’re looking to lose weight at a faster more aggressive pace, you want to aim for a 40 to 45 percent reduction in calories.
With protein, unless you’re doing a keto style diet plan, you want to get anywhere from 0.8 to 1.3 grams of protein per pound of body weight. When you’re trying to maintain your weight, you don’t need such high protein levels. However, when cutting, the best way to avoid muscle loss is by increasing protein as you increase you’re caloric deficit.
For example, if you’re looking to lose 20 pounds at a more regular pace, you might cut calories by only 20 percent from maintenance and eat 0.8 grams of protein per pound of body weight. On the other hand, if you are doing an aggressive diet plan where you cut calories by 40 percent from maintenance you might want to go with a higher range of 1.3 grams of protein per pound of body weight to ensure that you spare as much muscle mass as possible while burning primarily fat.
Just to make this simple, a good place to start at is 1 gram of protein per pound of body weight. With that in mind, you can then figure out what percentage of the rest of your calories you want to allocate to carbs and what percentage to fat. This allocation is largely your choice based on what types of foods you like to eat.
Once you know how many calories of protein, carbs, and fats you’re having per day, you want to find the best way for you to consume the correct amount of food based on your lifestyle and preferences.
What I mean but this is that you can maintain your caloric deficit by splitting up your meals into many smaller meals throughout the day and tracking the caloric impact of each meal with a diet tracking app. Another option is you can maintain your caloric deficit by eating within certain feeding windows.
For example you can try is the lean gains approach to intermittent fasting. This is where you would fast for 16 hours and only allow yourself an 8 hour feeding window. You can also try longer fasts, like the warrior diet and the one meal a day diet.
Another option is to create a caloric deficit by eating normally the majority of the week and then significantly less two to three days of the week with approaches like the 5-2 diet or the alternate day fast. The point is that there are a number of ways for you to consume a lower amount of calories per day, but the best way for you is the way that you can actually comfortably stick to.
You will have to go through some trial and error with this, but regardless of what way you choose to consume your calories, make sure you spend a week or two tracking your calories and macros to make sure your totals are adding up correctly. Once you learn the nutritional value and caloric impact of the healthy single ingredient foods you like to eat, you can then try to do it without tracking. This is how you customize a fat loss diet based on you that you can actually stick to.
Let’s move on to working out. When your goal is to lose 20 pounds of fat, you have to understand that you will lose some muscle mass in the process. There is no way around that fact. However, what you can do is limit muscle loss as much as possible.
That is the “right way” to lose weight. So, regardless of how fast or slow you want to lose weight or whether you prefer more carbs or more fats in your diet, you will have to stick to a solid weight training program to prevent muscle loss.
The best way to prevent muscle loss while losing body fat is by maintaining as much strength as possible throughout the cut. This means that you should do your absolute best to keep all your exercises heavy, preferably within a 5 to 8 rep range with most exercises.
If you are exceeding 10 reps for a certain exercise, I recommend moving up to a heavier weight. Unfortunately, even if you stick to heavy weights, you will most likely still lose strength throughout a cut. But that’s fine. The key is to fight for every last inch. Push yourself to lift the heaviest load you can for roughly 5-8 reps and don’t drop the weight until your reps drop too low.
Many people drop the weight immediately as soon as they start a cut and feel that tired, low energy feeling at the gym. This is a big mistake because with this kind of strategy, you’ll be lowering the weight and losing muscle strength and size week after week. As a natural lifter, in order to maintain as much lean body mass as possible you will have to try to maintain as much strength as possible throughout this process of losing fat.
You will want to start each workout with key compound lifts such as squats, lunges, deadlifts, bench press, barbell rows, pullups and other engaging compound exercises like these. Then, after warming up, you want to concentrate on using a heavy weight for these key exercises.
Even though these exercises are harder than just moving from one machine to the next, by sticking to these key compound lifts you’ll get maximum benefits for both fat loss and maintaining your lean body mass.
The last piece is cardio. Cardio, even though not required, can help speed up your fat loss. I recommend trying to incorporate cardio right after your weight training workouts.
You can do 30 minutes of long duration steady state cardio by either running on a treadmill, using a stair climber, or a number of other traditional cardio machines. Alternately, you can perform a 15 minute high intensity interval training circuit where you would combine intense exercises that speed up your heart rate into a circuit.
Again, I recommend doing this directly after your weight training workout. Now, if you really hate cardio, like I said it’s not required. However, cardio will help you create a caloric deficit in combination with your diet plan. You can create that deficit with just your diet plan without incorporating cardio or you can make your diet plan a little easier and burn some extra calories with cardio.
The last step is to stick to your plan consistently until you hit your goal weight and then you can increase your intake to maintenance levels. If you cannot stick to your plan consistently, you need to reevaluate and try a different approach until you find the one that works with your lifestyle and preferences.
It’s so important that you find the plan that works around you because that’s the only way you’ll be able to stick to it for the long term.
Let’s review the steps discussed in this article so you all know the right way to lose 20 pounds of fat.
Number 1: realize that exercise and maintaining a healthy diet is a life long commitment, not just a quick fix.
Number 2: decide what types of healthy whole single ingredient foods you actually enjoy eating. Most of these foods are found in the outside aisles of your grocery store.
Number 3: choose a dieting approach that allows you to eat the types of foods you enjoy.
Number 4: create the right caloric deficit, somewhere between 20 to 45 percent less than maintenance based on how fast you would like to lose the weight.
Number 5: eat enough protein to maintain muscle mass while cutting. This amount will usually be somewhere around 1 gram of protein per pound of body weight.
Number 6: after you know your protein requirements and your daily caloric range for fat loss, you can then choose what percentage of your diet you’d like to come from fat and carbs based on your food preferences you decided on earlier.
Number 7: choose the appropriate meal frequency that you would like to take those calories in either by eating smaller meals throughout the day, by having fasting and feeding windows, or by having significantly less calories a couple days of the week to balance out the rest of the week.
Number 8: use heavy weight training to your advantage in order to maintain as much muscular strength as possible to prevent muscle loss throughout the cut. I really like a 5 to 8 rep range.
Number 9: stick to compound key lifts that have a free range of motion and incorporate a lot of muscles at once.
Number 10: incorporate cardio after your weight training workouts if you want some more wiggle room with your diet.
That’s it guys! I know I just gave you a lot of information and honestly there’s so much more info that I want to go over. Luckily, me and my team have created a program that can streamline all this info to you in an organized and easy way that takes all the guesswork away.
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