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How to Safely and Healthily Lose Weight Fast: Part 1

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How to Safely and Healthily Lose Weight Fast: Part 1

If you want to know how to lose weight fast without sacrificing your muscle, metabolism, or health, then you want to read this article.

 

I was a bit loath to write this series of articles because I despise most things connected with the idea of “rapid weight loss.”

Wild promises of losing upwards of 1 pound per day, and the extreme weight loss measures that go with them, are a big reason why many people ultimately fail to achieve and maintain their weight loss goals.

The reality is you have to look at getting and staying fit as a LIFESTYLE change, not a quick fix. 

Chasing quick fixes leads to yo-yo dieting, which doesn’t necessarily physically impair future weight loss efforts, but sure is psychologically defeating.

Proper weight loss, however, is slow and steady, never leaves you feeling starved or run down, and even allows for building muscle and strengthThis is, by far, the best way to go about losing weight.

So, with that said, let’s get to why I am writing this article series.

I’m writing these articles to help people that are desperately seeking rapid weight loss, and are willing to just about do anything to get there.

Common reasons for this are things like…

  • Weddings and other celebrations
  • Reunions
  • Impending dietary doomsdays (holidays and vacations usually)
  • Post-binge moments of self-loathing

Whatever your reason for wanting to lose weight fast, in this three-part article series, you’re going to learn how to safely, healthily, and rapidly lose weight…up to 15-20 pounds in one month…WITHOUT sacrificing a bunch of muscle or your metabolism, or any other aspect of your health.

By following the strategies in these articles, you will lose weight quickly, but there are downsides:

  • If you lift weights or engage in resistance training, your performance is going to suffer.
  • You may find your energy levels low at certain time in the day, and may feel a bit grumpy.  
  • You may have to deal with mild issues of hunger and cravings.

Nothing too extreme in terms of “side effects,” but they can be annoying nonetheless. Fortunately, you can rest easy that you won’t be harming your body.

How long you use the strategies in this article are up to you, and should be based on how you feel.

If you feel great, then keep it up for as long as you desire. If you really don’t like how you feel, then use them to kickstart your weight loss efforts, and then follow a more “relaxed” approach such as those I espouse in my books.

Alright then, enough intro. Let’s start losing some weight, beginning with the nutritional side of safe, healthy, rapid weight loss.

The Best “Diet” for Rapid Weight Loss

In order to lose fat, you need to give your body less energy (food) than it burns every day, as measured in calories.

This is known is creating a “calorie deficit.” No calorie deficit, no losing fat, period.

Now, many “rapid weight loss” solutions call for severe calorie restrictions (eating very little every day). This is not the way to go, and can lead to metabolic damage, excessive muscle loss, extreme irritableness, and more.

Instead, you want to put your body in a mild calorie deficit.

Specifically, you want to feed it about 20% less calories than it burns every day. By doing this, along with the other strategies in these articles, you should be able to lose upwards of 2-3 pounds per week while preserving your metabolic health, energy levels, mental balance, and mood.

Doing this effectively requires a few steps.

Step 1:
Determine How Many Calories You Should Be Eating Every Day

An accurate way to measure how much energy you’re burning is to use the Katch McArdle formula to determine your basal metabolic rate (BMR), and multiply it as follows:

  • By 1.2 if you exercise 1-3 hours per week.
  • By 1.35 if you exercise 4-6 hours per week.
  • By 1.5 if you exercise 6+ hours per week.

This gives you a good approximation of your total daily energy expenditure (TDEE), which is simply the total amount of calories you’re burning each day.

Now, to create the mild calorie deficit, you’re going to simply eat 20% LESS than that number every day. Calculate this by multiplying your TDEE by .8.

For example, I’m 6’2, 29 years old, and I weigh 192 at 7-8% body fat, and I exercise about 6 hours per week. Using the Katch McArdle formula, my TDEE is about 2,900 calories per day.

2900 * .8 = 2,320, which I would just round down to 2,300.

Okay then, you now have your “daily calorie deficit” number.

The next step is to work out how this translates into grams of protein, carbs, and fats every day, because the ratios that you will eat are important when you’re trying to maximize weight loss and muscle preservation.

Step 2:
Convert Your Daily Calories Into Macronutrient Needs

In case you don’t know what a “macronutrient” is, it’s defined as follows:

A macronutrient is any of the nutritional components of the diet that are required in relatively large amounts: protein, carbohydrate, fat, and minerals such as calcium, zinc, iron, magnesium, and phosphorous.

An important part of rapid weight loss is manipulating the amounts of protein, carbs, and fats you’re eating. To facilitate losing weight quickly and healthily, your diet is going to be high in protein, relatively low in carbohydrate, and moderate with fats.

Why?

Because while low-carb diets aren’t by any means necessary for weight loss, research has shown that they can result in more rapid short-term weight loss. This is mainly due to shedding water, but hey, it makes you look leaner, so we’ll take it.

So, this is how we’re going to set up your daily macronutrient intake:

  • 45% of your calories from protein
  • 20% of your calories from carbohydrate
  • 35% of your calories from fat

The math on this is very simple to work out. A gram of protein and carbohydrate contains about 4 calories, and a gram of fat about 9, so…

  1. Multiply your “daily calorie deficit” number by .45, and then divide this by 4. This is the number of grams of protein you should eat daily.
  2. Multiply your “daily calorie deficit” number by .20, and then divide this by 4. This is the number of grams of carbohydrate you should eat daily.
  3. Multiply your “daily calorie deficit” number by .35, and then divide this by 9. This is the number of grams of fat you should eat daily.

For example, if your “daily calorie deficit” number is 2,000, then…

  • 2000 * .45 / 4 = 225 grams of protein
  • 2000 * .20 / 4 = 100 grams of carbs
  • 2000 * .35 / 9 = 77 grams of fat (which you could simply round down to 75)

Okay, so now you know how you’re supposed to get your calories in. Let’s move on to the next step.

Step 3:
Create a Precise Meal Plan to Follow

The biggest mistake many people make in trying to lose weight is they don’t create and follow a proper meal plan. 

That is, they don’t plan or track what they eat, and almost always err on the side of eating too much, not too little.

Fortunately, doing it right is very simple:

  1. Open up Excel or an equivalent
  2. Open up www.calorieking.com
  3. Start looking up the macronutrients and calories of various foods you like to eat.
  4. Build meals one food at a time, and include EVERY substance with calories (sauces, creamers, condiments, etc.)
  5. Play with both meal composition and timing as desired–focus on eating healthy foods you like, and on a schedule you like
  6. Tweak everything until you’re happy with the foods and meal timing, and are within 100 calories of your target
  7. Follow the meal plan every day

Honestly, that’s all it takes.

As you’ll see, you won’t have much room in your numbers for junk food. You want to stick to healthy, low-calorie foods that give a lot of volume for the calories (which helps you feel fuller).

  • Chicken
  • Turkey
  • Lean red meat
  • Veggies and fruits, especially fibrous ones
  • Low-fat dairy like cottage cheese and Greek yogurt
  • Oils such as olive or coconut oil
  • Nuts
  • Grains like rice and quinoa

When I’m dieting to lose weight, I always include a generous serving of fibrous veggies with my lunches and dinners, and often include fibrous fruit likes apples with snacks.

That said, don’t think that you have to restrict everything you like to eat for fear of it not being a “good carb” or otherwise “approved” by some other dietary method you’ve read or followed in the past.

So long as you hit your daily numbers, WHAT you eat doesn’t matter when it comes to weight loss: HOW MUCH is the key. (Read my article on flexible dieting if you want to know more about this.)

If you want a little indulgence, like some chocolate after dinner or some cheese with your dinner or what have you, simply work it into your numbers.

Meal timing and frequency is completely up to you. Eating more or fewer meals per day isn’t going to help or hinder your weight loss.

Here are a few examples of meal plans we make for people as a part of my custom meal plan service. They should help you:

https://docs.google.com/file/d/0B4Jm09OF3tkYNjQwaTJTUTQ1NUU/edit?usp=sharing

If you get hung up on the meal planning and would rather just have a plan created for you, tailored to your food preferences and schedule, we would be happy to help you.

Step 4:
Stick to the Meal Plan Every Day

I already stated this above (point #7), but I’m going to give it special emphasis…

You ONLY eat what’s on your meal plan–nothing more, nothing less. No having a few extra bites of every meal, no spontaneously adding some oil for cooking your veggies or butter on your toast, no doubling up on the cream in your coffee.

These “little” on-the-fly modifications add up over the day and can SIGNIFICANTLY impair fat loss.

Another point is “cheat” or “free” meals–meals wherein you eat more or less anything you want.

While you’re trying to maximize weight loss, do not have any “cheat” or “free” meals. They are nice psychological boosts, but they DO slow things down, even if only by a little (and they only become necessary when you’re lean, working on getting really lean).

In the Next Article:
Using Exercise to Maximize Weight Loss

Okay then, that wraps the nutrition side of the equation, and part 1 of this three-part series.

In the next article in this series, we’re going to talk about how to use exercise and supplementation to help you get the most out this “rapid weight loss diet.”

 Click here to view part 2 of this article series

What do you think about the advice in this article? Have anything else to share? Let me know in the comments below!

If you what to know how to not only lose fat quickly, but build muscle too, then you want to read this book…

Losing fat is great, but the last thing any of us want is the dreaded “skinny fat” look. The key a great physique is not only low body fat, but also clear muscle definition.

And that’s why I wrote Bigger Leaner Stronger for men, and Thinner Leaner Stronger for women: they lay out EVERYTHING you need to know about diet and training to build muscle and lose fat effectively…

The Book Bigger Leaner Stronger by Michael Matthews.

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I’m Mike Matthews and I’ve been training for nearly a decade now. I believe that every person can achieve the body of his or her dreams, and I work hard to give everyone that chance by providing workable, proven advice grounded in science, not a desire to sell phony magazines, workout products, or supplements. More about me.

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169 Comments
  • Elmert Y. Pitis

    Hi Mike

    First of all, I want to thank you for you AWESOME advice. Youre knowledge in fitness, has helped me tremendously and thanks again. Now, if someone wants to follow this and they average about 70+hrs at work (refinery/construction) should they increase theyre carb and protein intake? Since the hard work at work and at the gym.

    • Michael Matthews

      Thank you!!

      Yeah, your TDEE will be higher for sure. I would start with 1.5 – 1.6 and see how your body responds.

  • Pedro Rugeles

    Hey Mike. When I cut I use your BLS book numbers. That is 1.2 grams or protein per pound, 1 gram of CH per pound and .2 grams of fat per pound. That means 1570 calories per day while with 173 gr protein, 147 gr CH and 20 gr fat.

    But If I use the numbers on this article I would have tu eat 1736 calories per day with just 86 grams of Carbs!!!! and 67 grams of fat. That numbers are pretty different with the ones I learned in your book and at the moment had worked to me.

    • Michael Matthews

      Thanks for commenting!

      Yeah, I don’t recommend low-carb dieting in BLS because it really does compromise your training, and it messes with your mood and energy levels.

      Remember this article is for losing weight as quickly as possible at the expense of crappy workouts and probably not feeling so hot (but NOT at the expense of your health).

      • Pedro

        Oh yeah, that makes sense. I think that maybe doing one week of low carb during a fat loss plateau may also help, but that definitelly sucks for more time.

        • Michael Matthews

          Yeah, you can use it to try to break through plateaus. There are other things you can do too though:

          http://www.muscleforlife.com /how-to-break-through-weight-loss-plateaus/

  • Gilberto Gil

    Excellent information as usual. 1, 2, 3…check. 4…working on it. But, I am getting way better and having healthy (and TASTY) meals goes a long way to help. Recipe of the week is always an inspiration!

    • Michael Matthews

      Thanks! Haha nice, keep up the good work!

  • Jesse

    Hey mike,

    Awesome article man it’s really that simple I’ve been following your advice and articles for the better part of a year and it’s all top stuff. My main question is how do I motivate my friends and family to stick to their plan, I know body decomposition is so simple in theory but that motivation side of just DOING it is what I’m finding hard to convince people of haha. Cheers mate keep up the good work your stuff is gospel to me haha.

    Jesse

  • Mike

    Maybe there is an in between road, say 40 protein, 30 carbs & 30 fat..worth a try to get the fastest results without feeling as tired or effecting performance. Thanks for the great information Mike.

    • Michael Matthews

      Yeah, 40/30/30 is okay as well, but if you really want to drop weight fast, the lower the carbs the better…

  • Ashley Spencer

    Nice article…will have to give it a try for 2 weeks for my birthday. Love the way you clarify the math, makes it super easy!

    • Michael Matthews

      Thanks! Let me know how it goes!

  • JoJaeLee

    Hi I dont know my body fat %, do you know where I can I can find it? Im going to google it but it would help if you could give me a recommendation as to where to look.

  • Manish Arya

    Brilliant article Mike once again, i have a question though, suppose i have to go for a dinner and that would include drinks and other calorie dense foods and i dont wanna miss out on that. So, if i refrain myself from eating too much during the day or lets say skip couple of meals so that i can eat in dinner but remain within my numbers, Will that effect my metabolism and effect my weight loss goals?

    • Michael Matthews

      Thank you!

      Very good question and yep, that’s exactly what you do–you “save up” macros for the meal. Kind of an “advanced” dietary principle but you got it.

      Keep in mind however that restaurant food is usually ridiculously high in calories, particularly in fat…

  • Jason

    Hey Mike!

    First question, your energy multipliers are lower than those from the Katch-McArdle formula. Is this because by your experience those numbers are too high?

    Secondly, is it normal on a cut to be below my bmr?

    Thx!

    • Michael Matthews

      Yup, the standard Katch numbers are just too high for most people. They only work if you have an abnormally fast metab.

      Good question. I generally stop reducing calories once I hit my BMR, or maaaybe 10% below. You don’t want to tank your metab.

      You stay there and get as much fat loss as you can, and then slowly increase your calories back to your TDEE level, and then you can begin cutting again.

      This is how you prevent metab damage and excessive muscle loss.

  • Toni

    I felt a 20% deficit was almost too aggressive considering my TDEE is barely 1800. Slashing my calories that much wasn’t an option. I did TDEE minus -15% and had good results albeit slower.

    • Michael Matthews

      Perfect. As long as you figured it out and were able to make progress, that’s all that matters.

  • Fernando

    Great article. Looking forward to part 2.

    • Michael Matthews

      Thanks! Coming tomorrow! :)

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  • Leandro Miguel Pucci

    I need to try customize a plan where I eat two main meals and small snacks during the day… I don’t eat to be even close to my caloric needs and yet to lose fat is very difficult for me and yet I have plenty of muscle mass…

  • Joel

    Hey Mike. I have been struggling a little with the numbers. Maybe you can clarify. When I calculate the numbers based on your formula I am at 1900 calories to consume per day. When I compare it to My Fitness Pal its telling me to consume 1,600 calories per day. I followed my fitness pal with no weight loss. Can the 300 calories per day really make a difference? Also I have noticed that my muscle gain has not been effective. Could this be because of the calorie difference. My goal is to lose 25 pounds fat loss and gain muscle mass. Great BLS book. Still getting into Shredded Chef.

    • Michael Matthews

      Ignore MFP–its stock recommendations suck. Set your own custom macros on the website.

      Thanks on the books! Let me know how you like TSC!

    • Michael Matthews

      Ignore MFP–its stock recommendations suck. Set your own custom macros on the website.

      Thanks on the books! Let me know how you like TSC!

  • Ben Hunt

    Mike, I’d love for you to have a printable copy button.

    • Michael Matthews

      Good idea! I’m going to have on installed.

      • Ben Hunt

        Thank you. Love the continuing education aspect of printing and going back quickly and easily to specific information.

        • Michael Matthews

          YW! Really glad you’re liking everything. :)

  • Kirstie

    hi, I have read Leaner fitter stronger, but would like to use this method prior to my holiday in December (we are going to USA). I am currently 71kg and 35% body fat. I calculate in need 155g protein,70g card abd 55g fat. I eat the same food during the day:
    living shake 1gfat 10gcarb 11g prot 90cal Semi skimmed milk 400ml 7.2g fat 20g carb 14.4gprot 200cal greek yog 0g fat 8g carb 20g prot 114cal mushroom soup 0.8g fat 3g carb 16.9gprot 93cal raspberries 0g fat 4gcarb 0g prot 18 cal peanut butter 15gfat 7.5g carb 3.75gprot 120 cal celery 0000. I like variety in my evening meak and this leaves me enough carb/fat/cal for then. (I train in the morning) however I am really struggling with 150g protein. I would need 4 steaks to hit this – any ideas?

    • Michael Matthews

      Thanks for writing!

      Hmm my favorite sources of protein are:

      Red meat

      Chicken & turkey

      Eggs

      Dairy

      Nuts

      Grains like quinoa

      Protein powder

      How would any of those work for you?

      • Kirstie

        Thanks. I like all of those, it just seems like a lot. I’m still 60g after my evening meal (stirfry with chicken pork beef and prawns) I will have to rely more on powders I think. I have recommended your site to my little brother who is looking for advice on gym nutrition

        • Michael Matthews

          Oh okay cool. Well yeah, if you just include a bit more protein in your current meals or add 2 scoops of powder, you’ll be good to go.

          You might find this article helpful:

          http://www.muscleforlife.com /the-best-protein-powder-for-women/

          And thanks for spreading the word! You rock. :)

  • Glenn Cook

    Great article. Can’t wait to read the second and third posts. I have a question (forgive me if this has already been asked and answered.) As I’m working on this plan do I need to readjust my numbers as I lose weight? If so, how often should this be done?

    • Michael Matthews

      Thanks Glenn!

      You may or may not need to adjust. It depends on how much weight you lose and on your metab (some people’s metabs slow down less than others’).

      The simple way to know is if you get to a point where your weight loss has stalled for 7-10 days, you probably need to change something (move more or eat less, or both).

  • Ted

    Question… In your example of calculating your own TDEE, you ended up with 2900 calories and subtracted ~20%, resulting in 2300 calories. Because the number of hours you spend exercising was factored into calculating this number, I assume that you don’t need to adjust/add anything additional for the amount of calories you spend Lifting Weights. But, what about any additional cardio you may do? If, in addition to the 5-6 hours I spend lifting weights over a week, I burn an additional 500 calories or so 3 times a week, should I eat those calories back? I guess a related question would be, are the activity level multipliers dependent in any way on whether your activity is weightlifing or cardio?

    • Michael Matthews

      Nope, I don’t like the method of BMR + addition and subtraction based on activity. It makes it unnecessarily complicated.

      I don’t do extra cardio really but if I did, like let’s say I played some football with friends, I COULD add a couple hundred calories in but probably wouldn’t.

      I just go with hours of total exercise because you’ll burn a bit less calories while lifting than doing most cardio, but more in the “afterburn.” It more or less evens out and you always use your body’s progress as the final say.

      • Ted

        Cool, thanks!

        • Michael Matthews

          YW :)

    • John

      I’ve been thinking about this lately, too. My BMR is roughly 1700. If I do cardio of say 300 calories should I just add that giving a total of 2,000.
      If I did no cardio (or weights), just stick to my BMR?

      • Michael Matthews

        TDEE is a bit higher than BMR even without exercises because we do inevitably move around a bit. BMR x 1.1-1.15 usually gives a good idea of TDEE if we’re more or less sedentary throughout the day.

        So in your cases, TDEE + 300 calories of cardio would probably be around 2,200 calories for the day. And 1,900 when you don’t do cardio.

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  • Matthew Mitchell

    Hi mike, currently reading (and really enjoying) bigger strong leaner, I’m 163 lb and my macronutrients breakdown for cutting is 195 protein, 163 carbs and 33 fat but the method above comes out at 202 protein, 90 carbs and 70 fat – quite a difference in fat and carbs daily allowance – which method should I follow?
    Many thanks

    • Michael Matthews

      Thanks Matt! Remember this article is a lower carb approach, which I actually don’t recommend unless you need to drop weight as quickly as possible. Low carb means your workouts will suffer.

      So, IMO, start with the BLS formula and let’s see how your body responds.

      • Matthew Mitchell

        Thanks mike for replying will stick with book and let you know how I get on!

        • Michael Matthews

          Great, sounds good! Talk soon!

  • Hank

    Hey Mike,
    thanks for those articles, you’re doing a great job and actually I am under the impression that you are one of just a few ;)
    Your recommendations really helped, though there is one further question I would like to ask:

    so far, I do 3 times cardio und 4 times weight lifting per week. You once mentioned that meal timing would be up to us, but do you support some experts saying you shouldn’t eat 2 hours after training? Is that good advise or also one of those myths?
    Thanks in advance and all the best to you.
    Greetings from Germany ;)

    • Michael Matthews

      Thanks Hank! I really appreciate it.

      Your schedule sounds good and I believe you SHOULD eat within 2 hours of lifting. I eat within 1 hour. I talk about why here:

      http://www.muscleforlife.com /guide-to-post-workout-nutrition/

      The claims about not eating after training to maintain high levels of GH are completely irrelevant.

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  • John

    Mike, in this Quick Fat Loss, how much muscle would you expect to lose in relation to fat?

    • Michael Matthews

      If you’re lifting 3-5x per week, and training properly, little to none.

  • Kt

    This was so helpful…. It was broken down so I could understand it and figure out everything… Thank you! I look fwd to the newsletters!

    • Michael Matthews

      You’re welcome! Thanks!

  • Matt B

    Great read, very easy to understand and informative.

    Thanks

    • Michael Matthews

      Thanks Matt!

  • Raydiance

    Hello, I bought the book Thinner, Leaner, Stronger and have my nutrition plan set up. It was very well laid out and easy to understand. Thank you! I use a polar heart rate monitor when I work out. I’d like to know if I can eat the extra calories I burn if I ate my limit for the day but am still hungry? If so, how should the macros look?

    • Michael Matthews

      Thanks on the book! I’m really glad you liked it.

      No, you don’t want to eat any more. You want to stick to the macros in the book;

      The key to keeping your diet in is creating a proper meal plan that you stick to every day–that is, one that meets your daily numbers and lets you eat foods you like.

      Here are a few examples of meal plans we make for people. They should help you:

      https://docs.google.com/file/d/0B4Jm09OF3tkYNjQwaTJTUTQ1NUU/edit?usp=sharing

      Hope this helps! Let me know!

  • Samuel Sander

    Hey Michael, thanks for the article! :Got me thinking on a couple of things. Perhaps you can shed some light on them :))

    1) Should I progress with weights when cutting? Or only try to progress in weights when bulking? I’m assuming this depends on how long one has weight trained as well?
    2) Weekly calories > Daily Calories? For example, if my TDEE-10% is 2000 kCal – is it ok if on for example on Monday I eat 2200 kCal and on Tuesday 1800 kCal? This also reminds me of the leangains protocol where one would eat more on a training day and less on a rest day. Not sure if it would make any difference.

    Many thanks in forward!!
    Sam

    • Michael Matthews

      Thanks Sam! Glad you liked it.

      1. Yup always try to progress. Many people on my program get stronger through a cut. Personally I only see my strength plateau when I’m cutting to get really lean (5-6%) and after the first 3-4 weeks.

      2. Don’t like this. It just doesn’t work well in terms of real word results.

      • Samuel Sander

        Thanks for the reply! :)) I’ll keep that in mind and try to add more weights on the bar when cutting. So basically, unless you’re an advanced weightlifter – you’ll still be able to gain muscle even if you’re on a calorie deficit (as long as you get enough protein and weight-train properly – heavy, compound movements in the 4-6 rep range)
        Your bodies ability to create muscle proteins isn’t what it would be if bulking, but then again you’re losing fat, so it’s a win-win.

        Regarding bulking and cutting, this is the ideal way, right?
        Bulk (TDEE+10%) ==> When bodyfat get’s up to 15%, start cutting ==> Cut (TDEE-10%~20%) ==> When bodyfat drops to 10-12%, start bulking ==> Rinse and repeat until you’re absolutely satisfied with overall size and then cut below 10%.

        Thanks again for all the great information!! Really appreciate it!

        • Michael Matthews

          YW!

          You can build muscle while losing fat if you’re still in the “newbie gains” phase. On my program, this seems to be the first 6-8 months. After that, the goal is simply to maintain muscle and strength while cutting.

          Yup, that’s the exact plan. Bulk can be TDEE+20% for people with faster metabolisms, but most do really well with +10%.

          • Samuel Sander

            Awesome, thanks again man! :))

          • Michael Matthews

            YW! :)

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  • Jordan

    Sweet article! Question on Cutting though as I see a fairly big discrepency. In your book you mention that you’ve got to be pretty dang strict and stick to your macro’s and calorie targets. Here is what I calculate for myself using BLS @ 235 lbs:

    282 g protein (1.2 g protein per lb)
    235 g carb (1 g carb per lb)
    47 g fat (.2 g fat per lb)

    Here is what I calculate using the Katch-Mcardle formula above with 26% body fat:

    BMR of 2,037 x 1.35 (will be working out 5 days a week) = BMR 2,700
    2,700 x .8 = 2,200 calories/day

    245 g protein (45% of 2,200 @ 4 kcal per g)
    110 g carb (20% of 2,200 @ 4 kcal per g)
    85 g fat (35% of 2,200 @ 9 kcal per g)

    Those are drastically different numbers! Where did I go wrong and what should I follow?

    • Michael Matthews

      Thanks Jordan!

      Yes remember this article is a low-carb approach for maximum weight loss at the expense of some performance.

      I’d recommend something in the middle for you:

      200 g pro
      200 g carb
      60 g fat

      Per day.

      • Jordan

        I didn’t catch that it was a low carb approach, thanks for the clarification…

        I recently got tested in the bod pod and it came out at 26%. The technician was shocked and said that something must be wrong and tested me again. It came out at 26.2%. I went home and told my wife that I was technically obese and she started laughing and said maybe I’m a little overweight, but not obese. At my physical last week I told the doc that I was bod pod tested at 26% and she said “no way” and pulled out her hand held device. She said, “I do this everyday and I’m going to guess you’re about 19%”. Her device came in a 18.9%. Is there that much descrepency in methods?

        That said, I’m not so much concerned with performance right now… I just want to strip off fat and pounds. I’m only 6’1” and would love to be in the 190′s but am currently 235. Is the low carb approach the best for me or should I stick with the middle road 200/200/60?

        Thanks Mike!

        • Michael Matthews

          My pleasure.

          Wow odd on the measurement. AFAIK the Bod Pod is quite accurate but that machine might have been on the fritz.

          Have you seen this article of mine?

          http://www.muscleforlife.com /how-to-measure-body-fat-percentage/

          Try the BLS formula first. You’ll do great on it and have good workouts…

          • Jordan

            I’ll take read… thanks for the help!

          • Michael Matthews

            YW!

  • Enriq

    Hi Mike! One question:
    Q:When calculating macros and having already our final diet, shall we also remain protein grams from carb and fat sources like rice, sweet potato, oats, almonds, broccoli….? Or must we only count our proteins from sources like meat, whey, milk, cheese, fish? I think that since those proteins also have kcals we should remain them, but I don’t know if there must be a ratio between protein types in order to obtain better protein quality. Thanxs!!!

    • Michael Matthews

      You can count protein from all sources. It adds up! I personally don’t worry about ratios of types of proteins because your protein intake will be high enough for it to just not be an issue.

  • HoldensGirl

    Hi Mike! I absolutely loved this article! I’ve got a few concerns and hope you can advise me. After about 5 years of being overweight due to health problems I was able to start losing weight effectively last year, and went from 245 lbs to 204 lbs right now. I’m female, 5″6, 37% body fat, and I work out at least 4 times a week. I’ve changed my eating habits significantly and have been using a weight loss app that puts me at 1,434 calories per day in order to lose 2 lbs a week, the calorie budget the app has had me on since I began last year has of course changed whenever I’ve lost weight and it really worked for the first 35 lbs or so, the weight just fell off every single week. But since hitting those 35 lbs I’ve been losing about 2-3 per month as opposed to per week, and I’m not sure why. All that to say, I calculated everything as instructed in your article, and at the end it’s put me at a 1,700 calorie deficit. Considering that I’m struggling to lose weight with 1,434 cals, it makes me nervous to add even more calories to my daily budget, it seems like eating more calories would just set me back. I’m hoping you can give me some advice on this? I would love to follow what’s stated in your article, I’m just worried it wouldn’t work considering what’s already been going on with my weight loss journey.

    • Michael Matthews

      Thanks so much!

      Great job on the weight loss.

      This is a metabolic issue and I will actually be talking about it in a video I’m uploading to YT!

      We will want to change your training and eating a little. Keep an eye out for the video and let me know what you think…

      • HoldensGirl

        Thank you, will do!!

        • Michael Matthews

          YW!

  • HW

    Hi Mike! I absolutely loved this article! I’ve got a few concerns and hope you can advise me. After about 5 years of being overweight due to health problems I was able to start losing weight effectively last year, and went from 245 lbs to 204 lbs right now. I’m female, 5″6, 37% body fat, and I work out at least 4 times a week. I’ve changed my eating habits significantly and have been using a weight loss app that puts me at 1,434 calories per day in order to lose 2 lbs a week, the calorie budget the app has had me on since I began last year has of course changed whenever I’ve lost weight and it really worked for the first 35 lbs or so, the weight just fell off every single week. But since hitting those 35 lbs I’ve been losing about 2-3 per month as opposed to per week, and I’m not sure why. All that to say, I calculated everything as instructed in your article, and at the end it’s put me at a 1,700 calorie deficit. Considering that I’m struggling to lose weight with 1,434 cals, it makes me nervous to add even more calories to my daily budget, it seems like eating more calories would just set me back. I’m hoping you can give me some advice on this? I would love to follow what’s stated in your article, I’m just worried it wouldn’t work considering what’s already been going on with my weight loss journey.

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  • smsazzy

    If you find yourself at the end of the day below your calorie target, due to missing a meal or snack or something, is it better to eat something before bed, or just skip the calories that day? Should you make them up the following day to avoid metabolic damage?

    • Michael Matthews

      Up to you. Being too low for one day won’t do anything good or bad. Personally I would just eat a snack unless I was really full from my last meal.

  • Tony Rivera

    Hey mike I enjoyed reading your books and also this great article, but I still have some trouble finding what’s good to eat, how many Calories should I put in my body and how to work out the right way. I want to feel good and be healthy. I want to be lean and fit and also be prepared for boot camp because I would like to join the military. To make it all clear I’m afraid to start out wrong, any advice?

    • Michael Matthews

      Thanks Tony! I appreciate it.

      In terms of foods to eat, check out these articles:

      http://www.muscleforlife.com /guide-to-vitamins-and-minerals/

      http://www.muscleforlife.com /how-to-eat-healthy-foods-on-a-budget/

      In terms of how to work out, what do you think about starting my BLS program?

      • Tony Rivera

        Thanks mike for the articles and I tried to do the math but really I don’t know my fat percent, also I sometimes don’t know how much I weight I should lift and how to properly handle them

        • Michael Matthews

          YW!

          Oh okay well it sounds like you might want to look into my custom meal plan service and custom workout plan service (coming soon).

          Then my team and I could really dig into your circumstances and find what works best.

          • Tony Rivera

            Thanks so much mike! Really hope I put effort to my goals, I thimk I’ll start out by writing out why I want to look the way I want to be and for what perpose just like what your books said. If I came across another question I’m sure I’ll stop by to ask.

          • Michael Matthews

            YW! Awesome please do keep me posted on how it goes!

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  • buffinmyfluff

    I just read this article. I actually understand what you are saying so I ordered the book- looking forward to being a
    thinner,leaner stronger female, and gaining more knowledge to take
    control of my body. I just gave up group body pump classes to started weights/hiit on my own last week. I need more instruction-especially with figuring out calorie/macro control. 5 mo. ago I joined a gym lost 10lbs,with not knowing much about what I am doing.

    • Michael Matthews

      Thanks so much! Let me know how you like the book! It will definitely show you exactly what you need to do…

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  • rasha

    Quick question are we talking total carbs or net carbs, imtrying to add in my protien bars and they have 25 carbs each but the package says only 4 net carbs. Which should i follow? Thanks in advance!

    • Michael Matthews

      I stay away from bars but in that case net carbs is what you count. The rest are not processed by the body, like fiber.

  • António

    I go to the gym 5 days a week and spend around 1h every time, does this mean that my multiplier would be 1.35?
    Thanks!

    • Michael Matthews

      Yeah, start there.

  • Erica Lancaster

    Thank you for this!!! I just created my first meal plan woohoo! It takes some work but I can tell this is what I need and then to just follow it! Thanks again! I’m still working on your book! :)

    • Michael Matthews

      Awesome! Let me know how it goes!

  • Erica Lancaster

    Thank you for telling me about this!!! I’ve got my first daily meal plan finished and I think this will be the perfect finish to my low carb diet! I was getting results but I was definitely eating waaay too much fats (nuts, avacodo…) Now I have a clear plan of what I need each day and how much! It does take work to plan these out but the efforts will be greatly rewarded I can tell! This is awesome and I’m still working on your book! Thanks again! :)

    • Michael Matthews

      YW and perfect, let me know how it goes! I hate low-carb dieting. It’s totally unnecessary.

      Keep me posted on how everything goes!

      • Erica Lancaster

        lol I thought I would hate it too but surprisingly I feel great :)

        • Michael Matthews

          You’ll like the carbs for lifting. :)

  • Alex

    Hi Mike, I wanna cut my belly fat, I have around 25% of fat in my body. So can you please help me in workouts. I do exercises for 5 days in a week in a local gym. I weigh 160 pounds, height 5’8″. There is some financial problem also with me which restricts me in using fat burner or any other such supplement. I have controlled my diet and now consume less fatty food. I’ll be grateful if you can suggest me some good exercises for it.

    • Michael Matthews

      Yeah you should just follow my advice in this article series! It will be perfect for you…

  • Molly A.

    Hi Mike,

    I’m a 19 year old female, 5’1 and currently 111 Ib. I’ve lost about 27 pounds in 10 months by eating 1000-1200 calories a day and now I need to eat more as my doctor said I’m underweight. I want to gain muscle weight and not fat so I’ve started doing body pump 3 times a week and I do cardio 2-3 times a week also. I want to start doing iifym but I keep getting different numbers from different sites. What do you recommend I eat so I can put on lean muscle mass?

    thanks!

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  • Christine Sutherland

    Mike I think that issues like (for example) leptin resistance also come into play. I’m 5′ 2″ and cannot lose weight on 1000 calories a day, even though I do martial arts (each time with a challenging cardio and core workout for 30 minutes before the 1-hour training session) 6 times each week. I don’t eat junk of any kind (not from deprivation – I hate the stuff) and meals consist of lean meat with salad and no dressings. Snacks are an apple or 6 blanched almonds.

    I am currently 10 kg overweight, and can reduce only by going down to 750 calories a day, which I achieve by using protein shakes (210 calories) as a meal replacement for breakfast and lunch, and having a small evening meal. I am certainly experiencing some mild hunger, as well as tiredness and grumpyness, but at least I am finally seeing reasonably consistent weight loss week to week, of 0.5 to 1 kg.

    My theory is that once I’ve been able to shed fat, my body should have a chance to move into better functioning, and I should be able to eat normally once that’s achieved.

    I guess I don’t have a lot of faith in the mathematics of weight loss, given my own experience.

  • Hoan tran

    Hello sir. This article is full of useful information. Thank you so much. I was introduced to this article by my personal trainer. I’ve been working on the new diet every day. However, i have a few questions related to this diet: (by the way here are my numbers: protein 139 g, fat 47 g and carbs 62 g)
    1) can i consume a bit more than what i am supposed to consume every day, for exampl instead of consuming 62 g of carbs, can i do 65? does it always have to be exact or approximate around those numbers?
    2) doing this diet helps me realize that my body is not used to it, and it causes me hungry and headaches sometimes. is that a bad thing? sometimes i cheat by eating an apple or a banana, once in while though? when can we have a cheat day?
    3) I am a group exercise instructor and im also following a workout routine set out by my personal trainer. i go the gym pretty much everyday, and i would say that im very highly active. does the diet give me enough calories and energy to conduct such high activity level?

    Thank you,

    • Michael Matthews

      Thanks!

      1. So long as you’re within 100 calories or so you’re fine.

      2. Your calories are too low. How much do you weigh?

  • Paul Fisher

    Awesome article! Mike , I suck at Excel, do you have your meal plan template available? Or know where to get an Excel template like this? thanks

  • marsa

    hi again
    I calculate your TDEE for test.I input 192 for your weight and 7%-8% for your fat percentage .it was 2119.46.then multiply it by 1.5.it was 3179.19 not 2900.am I wrong?

    • Michael Matthews

      I never use 1.5. That’s too high.

  • marsa

    another question! isn’t dangerous to eat under 1500 calories a day? and fat shouldn’t be more limited than carbs? thanks a lot.

    • Michael Matthews

      No, not necessarily. Some people are very small. A 100-pound girl won’t really ever need more than 1,500 cals per day unless she wants to bulk and really push her metab as high as it can go.

      Elaborate on the fat vs. carbs question?

  • Dan

    Mike,

    I’ve been on your BLS plan for about 2 1/2 Months. So far, I’ve gone from 195lbs to 185. However, for about the last month, I’ve been stuck at 185 lbs and a 37″ waist, and I don’t know what to do? I’ve have had strength gain on all muscle groups during the last month. Does this mean I’ve lost fat equal to the muscle I’ve gained? And is it possible that all the fat that I’ve lost this month has come from other parts of my body (i.e. Thighs, Butt, Chest, Arms)?

    • Michael Matthews

      Wow, great job!

      Yes, it’s possible that you’ve built muscle while losing fat, and yes it’s definitely taking from those parts before your lower abs. :)

      Are you looking leaner? If not, it sounds like we just need to adjust your diet or have you move more.

      • Dan

        I do feel more muscular, especially in my legs. When I go intense on the bike during my 25 minute-HIIT sessions (5 x a week), my heartrate is 165-175 bpm, and I’m eating 38g fat, 190g carbs, 228g protein. What changes do you recommend I make?

        • Michael Matthews

          That’s good. Let’s drop to this:

          200 pro
          170 carb
          40 fat

          (per day)

          Let me know how this goes.

          • Dan

            Thanks Mike. Is there any other reason that you can think of that would explain how my muscular strength is increasing without any increase in total body weight?

          • Michael Matthews

            Muscles can “learn” to contract harder, thus increasing strength. That only goes so far though–eventually more fibers are needed.

  • marsa

    Thanks mike.yes I want to know specially about fat’s role in a dietary habits. I used to think it must be completely limited.

  • marsa

    thanks again mike.I ask a lot.it’s kind of u to answer my questions.

    • Michael Matthews

      My pleasure. :)

  • Carl Leek

    Hi mike, loved your book just a quick one I’m 168 lbs and around 20 % body fat (a bit flabby) would you recommend me to start bulking before i cut or should i start cutting right away? Thanks in advance.

  • Ginny

    I think you are the BEST nutritional info center of the world I have found to date! So thank you!!! I’m trying to gain weight… muscle. Without getting fat lol so I’ve read your books I read your emails and I’m implementing this into my life to see if I can add/gain some muscle !!

    • Michael Matthews

      Wow thanks so much! I really appreciate it.

      Definitely keep me posted on your progress and write anytime if you have any questions or run into any difficulties. I’m always happy to help.

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  • http://fieldusa.org/blog/ Phillip Longmire

    Working on this as we speak…I wanted to give a shout out to your cook book. It makes the process a lot easier to plan meals…plus the food is really good…making the jalapeno lime chicken today. Great stuff

    • Michael Matthews

      Thanks man! I’m glad you’re liking the book.

  • Melanie Hill

    Thankyou for sharing how to do this you make everything so easy to follow! My husband and I have been trying to work out our macros as we are new to this. This helped us a lot!

    • Michael Matthews

      My pleasure! LMK how it goes!

  • dana

    I’m obese i weight 75 kilos and my height is 155 cm. I am also a teenage girl. Shouldn’t i follow the extreme fat loss to lose weight rather the normal fat loss according to my calorie calculator?

  • Kay Russell

    Hey Mike.
    I’ve read many of your articles and I just ordered your book Thinner Leaner Stronger from Amazon. I look forward to reading it. In the meantime, I have a problem. I tried using the Katch McArdle BMR calculator and I’m getting what I feel is an unrealistic number, and I don’t know why.
    For some reason, the actual calculator is not working for me on my computer. It says “loading…” and then never loads anything. I can handle some math so I just decided to do that math myself given the formula on the calculator website. Here’s my math (in case that’s what I’m doing wrong):
    I weigh 177 lbs (in Google’s conversion table that’s 80.3 kg)
    Last time I checked it using a scale (I know they’re not the most accurate but it’s what I have), my BF% was around 41%. I know this is no longer accurate because I have put on some muscle but it’s the only calculation I have and it should be relatively close.

    Okay, so Lean Body Mass = (80.3 x (100-41))/100 = 47.38 kg
    Given that, BMR = 370 + (21.6 x 47.38) = 1393 calories

    That just seems really low to me. If my body at rest only burns 1393 calories per day, I would have to eat around 1115 calories to maintain a 20% deficit to lose weight. I realize this doesn’t even bring exercise into play as far as negative calories but still, that amount of calorie intake would put my body into starvation mode. Am I doing my math wrong?

    Thanks

    • Michael Matthews

      Thanks Kay! I really appreciate it.

      That sounds about right on the BMR. Lean mass is really what drives it up and you don’t have much muscle, that’s all.

      Most women are surprised to learn how little their bodies actually burn.

      You wouldn’t eat 20% less than BMR–you eat 20% less than TDEE. Check this out:

      http://www.muscleforlife.com/healthy-meal-planning-tips/

      • Kay Russell

        Thanks! I misread it. I’m currently using MyFitnessPal and after calculating my TDEE and then 80% of that, the app is pretty close. I’ve been going to the gym 3-5 times/week consistently for 2 months and I know my BF% has to have changed, I just don’t know by how much. My weight has not gone down but I’ve lost 10 inches overall so far, and I feel much stronger!

        • Michael Matthews

          MFP’s macros suck. Don’t use them. Work out yours using the article I linked and set custom goals on the site.

          Wow great job! That rocks!

          • Kay Russell

            Hey thanks! If you go on the MFP website there’s a way to customize your goals including the percentages of your macros so that’s what I did. Currently my macros are set to 40/40/20 (Carbs/Protein/Fat). I set them after reading one of your articles so it should be correct (I think?). I got your book in the mail today while I was at work so I plan to go home and flip through it after the gym! :)

          • Michael Matthews

            Perfect! That’s correct. Let me know how you like the book!

  • dalia

    Hello I was so frustrated by not getting the body you want.

    It was not until I found this video that finally body conditioning, and
    helped me get started with the training, and the results shocked me, I totally
    changed my body and my life.

    After doing the program I realized that before I was doing almost
    everything wrong and was too complicated.

    I am fit and best of my life. I’m so happy, I’ve never been
    happier

    I leave the video here: http://tinyurl.com/kxpwhlp

  • Sly

    Hey Mike, so unless I’m doing something wrong, Mcardle reckons my daily clorie requirements are 4500 calories, that got me head scscratching and I’ll review later. I currently consume 2300, weigh 184.6 with 10.2% BF and my goal is circa 8% bf at 46, I achieved 9 doing just what this article covers and gained it back and then some so I’m doing 1lb a week sometimes less. What do u think about cycling Creatine whilst cutting?? Great book and site by the way, wish I found it last year ;)

  • Akshay Ahlawat

    Hey Mike, around a little over 2 months ago I started taking a very low calorie diet to lose more weight. I succeeded in doing so and lost around 11-13kgs. But after reading this article, I realised that I had probably lost muscle and maybe damaged my metabolic rate. So I decided to follow the suggestions you’ve given on this article. Calculated my BMR, TDEE, daily calorie deficit and everything. But now I find I’ve gained 2 kgs in around 3-4 days. Is that normal? Should I continue with this diet for a week or two and see where it gets me or am I doing something wrong?

    • Michael Matthews

      No worries we can fix you up. You want to start with a reverse diet:

      http://www.muscleforlife.com/how-to-speed-up-metabolism/

      • Akshay Ahlawat

        Wow, I couldn’t get a definite answer from anyone for my problem. Thanks a lot for this. It would seem like you have the answers to every problem one could face while trying to get into shape. Reading your articles really helped in removing many misconceptions I had about exercising and keeping fit.

        • Michael Matthews

          My pleasure man! I’m glad I can help!

  • dalia

    Hello I was looking for a program to lose body fat and get a good
    result. I found your website your ebook. Before starting the program I weighed
    80 kilos and my waist was 42 inches. After 11 weeks I still weigh about 80kg
    but my waist size is now 35 inches. 7 inch loss in 11 weeks! Since my weight
    stayed about the same, that means I gained muscle while losing 7 inches of fat
    from the waist!

    I am truly excited after starting your program. After reading
    through all your information, I can not believe how many things I was missing…..

    Here you can download the book: http://tinyurl.com/nlg7xcd

  • Melissa

    Another fantastic article! Thank you! I was in denial I think (as I love my nut butter and almonds) but I now realise I really am eating too much fat (even though it’s all good fats.. It’s still too much) and this is probably one thing hindering the loss of my absolute stubborn belly fat. Thank you! I have left another comment after another article regarding my concern about eating very low carb. However, I eat around the same amount as this calculator has worked out for me (70g). I do still have the concern that this is too low for an every day lifestyle.. Although I know it does work for my body so maybe I just need to accept that instead of listening to all the skeptics about low carb diets? Thanks again

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  • Sean D.

    Hey Mike, I just started reading BLS and am slowing trying to get a 3-day weight lifting regiment going. I am 6’2″ and weigh 240 lb. I would like to get down to at least 200 before I start thinking about bulking. What macros would you recommend for the cut. Besides working out I run 2-3 days a week ( mainly for cardiovascular reasons, former smoker) and usually do a 2-hour strenuous hike on the weekends. Thanks in advance.

  • Bekka Taylor

    why am I already below BMR plus 20% and not losing weight (gaining fat actually)
    Eat totally clean btw

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