Muscle for life

How to Lose Weight Without Counting Calories

How to Lose Weight Without Counting Calories

Yes, it’s possible to lose weight without counting calories. This article will show you how.


If you’re looking to lose weight, chances are you’ve heard a lot about counting calories.

Some people say it’s crucial for weight loss, others say it doesn’t work, and others still say it depends on your body and circumstances.

Well, I want to start this article with the following:

Counting calories in and of itself accomplishes nothing, and is not vital to losing weight. 

Count all the calories you want, but if you don’t know why you’re counting them, and if you’re not planning your food intake properly, you’ll never lose any weight. And ironically, you also need to fully understand these same things to effectively lose weight without counting calories.

So, then, let’s start with these fundamentals of weight loss, and how they relate to calories, and then we’ll look at 6 strategies for losing weight without counting calories.

Weight Loss 101: The Physiology of Fat Loss

The first step to unshackling yourself from the perceived restraints of calorie counting is to gain a complete understanding of how and why the body burns fat–the physiology of weight loss.

We’re going to start with this:

What is a calorie?

That is, can you properly define the word? If you can’t, don’t sweat it. Most people never thought to look it up in a dictionary. So, here’s what it is:

When we’re talking food, a calorie is the amount of energy required to heat up one kilogram of water one degree Celsius.

It’s nothing more than stored (potential) energy.

Foods that contain more calories than other simply have more potential energy. Certain types of foods have more calories per gram (weight) than others. For instance, a gram of protein and a gram of carbohydrate both contain about 4 calories, whereas a gram a fat contains about 9 calories (over double the potential energy as protein and carbohydrate, per gram).

Now, your body requires a certain amount of energy to stay alive. I’m talking basic organ function here, not including any physical activity. This is known as your “basal metabolic rate,” or “BMR.” When you add the energy you burn from exercise to your BMR, you come to your “total daily energy expenditure,” or “TDEE.”

If you’re curious what your TDEE is, this calculator will show you:


So how does your body get this energy to stay alive? It has two sources:

  1. The food you eat.
  2. Its energy stores, mainly in the form of fat and muscle.

If your body has energy available from food you just ate, it doesn’t need to tap into its own energy (fat) stores.  

This “fed” state wherein the body runs fully on energy from food can last anywhere from 3 – 6+ hours after you eat.

Now, when you eat a meal, you’re giving your body far more calories than it needs during that time. You might eat 600 calories in 5 minutes, and in that period, your body burned maybe only 25 calories.

What does it do with the rest of the calories you ate? You got it: it stores a large portion of them as body fatSo, after you eat food, your body runs off the energy from the food and stores a portion of the excess energy as body fat. 

What happens once that energy source runs out? Once the nutrients from the food have been fully absorbed and burned up?

Well, the body must then turn to its energy stores to continue running. That is, it must start breaking down body fat into molecules the cells can use for energy.

This brings me to an important point most people don’t know: the body is constantly storing and burning fat every day. You eat food, it stores fat. It finishes burning and storing the energy from the food you ate, and it then switches to burning fat. Back and forth the body goes, 24 hours per day.

Even if you grossly overeat for a day, your body still has periods throughout those 24 hours where it runs out of food energy and thus must burn fat. The amount of fat stored that day will be greater than what it burned, though, and voila, weight gain.

This hints at what we have to do to reduce the amount of body fat we carry: we have to get our body to burn more fat than it stores every day. 

How do we do this?

By regulating the amount of energy we give it.

If the body stores excess energy as body fat, which results in gradual weight gain, how do we get the opposite? How to do we cause gradual weight reduction?

Yup, by regularly feeding the body less energy than it needs.  This is known is creating a “calorie deficit.” 

No calorie deficit, no losing fat, period.

When you feed your body a little less energy than it needs every day, what happens is the amount of fat it stores from your eating is less than the amount of fat it burns when it doesn’t have food energy to live on. This is all weight loss is: fat stored < fat burned, over time.

When it comes to weight loss, it’s only a numbers game. WHAT you eat doesn’t determine whether you lose weight or not…HOW MUCH does. 

Weight loss does NOT require you to only eat certain types of food, avoid other types, combine types in various ways, or any other quackery. It only requires that you regularly feed your body less energy than it burns.

  • Sure, some calories are healthy and some aren’t, but you can even lose weight eating junk food if you maintain a calorie deficit.
  • No, carbs don’t make you fat. Eating excess calories does.
  • Yes, some people’s metabolisms are faster than others, and some do better with calorie deficits than others, but all of our bodies come with the same types of machinery.

Calorie Counting and Weight Loss

Let’s now address the primary matter of this article: calorie counting and weight loss.

As you have probably already concluded, calorie counting is nothing more than a simple way of regulating your energy intake. By tracking how much energy you’re giving your body, you can ensure you give it a bit less than it needs, which will result in fat loss. 

This of course assumes you know how much energy you should be eating, though, which is where many people fall down with calorie counting. If you give your body all the energy it needs every day, or more, it doesn’t matter if you count those calories–you’re not going to lose any weight.

That’s why the most important part of a proper meal plan is working out the right amount of calories you’re supposed to be eating every day, and then turning that into the right ratio of macronutrients (but that’s another discussion, which you can read about here).

This then brings me to a bottom-line, non-negotiable weight loss rule:

Whether you count calories or not, the only way you will lose weight is by regularly feeding your body less energy (calories) than it burns. 

If you don’t want to count calories, you can lose weight. If you also don’t want to pay attention to and regulate your food intake, you will never lose weight. It’s that simple.

The “secret” behind many popular weight loss diets that call for eating certain types of foods, cutting out others, eating only at certain times, etc. is nothing more than they bring about a calorie deficit. That’s the whole picture, regardless of whatever marketing bullshit they spout.

For instance, if I told you you’re allowed 3 meals per day, and all you can eat for those meals is meat, veggies, and fruit, I can pretty much guarantee that you’ll lose weight. Why?

Because given those restrictions, it’s almost impossible to eat more calories than you burn. Especially if you’re exercising. Low-fat forms of protein and all veggies, especially fibrous veggies, are low in calories and extremely filling. Fruit is inherently low in calories, and fibrous fruits like apples are also quite filling.

The point is by simply not allowing you to eat calorie-dense foods, I can force you into a calorie deficit.

So, know that there is nothing inherently special about my tips for losing weight without counting calories. They will simply help you maintain a mild daily calorie deficit, which will bring about gradual weight loss.

6 Tips for Losing Weight Without Counting Calories

Alright, we’ve arrived at the actual tips for losing weight without counting calories.

Remember that these strategies do nothing more than help you restrict your calorie intake, thus creating a daily alorie deficit and weight loss.

1. Eat a High-Protein Breakfast

Research has shown that simply eating eggs in the morning, as opposed to a grain-based breakfast like bagels, can help you lose weight. 


Very simple: people that eat eggs for breakfast end up eating fewer calories at lunch, for the rest of the day, and according to one study, even for the next 36 hours.

Oh and in case you’re worried that eggs raise your “bad cholesterol” levels or otherwise increase your risk of heart disease, more recent research has completely debunked these long-standing claims.

Eggs are cheap, healthy foods that we should all enjoy.

Skip the grain breakfast and opt for a high-protein breakfast option like eggs.

2. Eat More Protein in General

When it comes to losing weight, protein is your best friend.

Study after study after study has confirmed that a high-protein diet results in more fat loss than low-protein diets, even when eating until fullness, as well as less hunger, and a greater metabolic boost.

There are two primary reasons for these benefits:

1. Protein costs quite a bit of energy to metabolize. About 25-30% of its energy is utilized in the process, as opposed to only ~5 – 15% of carbohydrate’s energy utilized in its processing, and ~5% of fat’s.

What this means is when you eat protein, there just isn’t as much energy left over to use for fat storage than when you eat carbohydrate or fat.

2. Protein is more filling than carbohydrates or fat, which helps reduce total daily calorie intake. In one study, increasing subjects’ daily protein intake to 30% of total calories resulted in an average daily reduction of 441 calories.

A high-protein diet has another major weight loss benefit: it reduces the amount of muscle that you lose while restricting your calories.

Include a serving of protein with every meal, and you will find it much easier to lose weight without counting calories.

3. Eat Plenty of Low-Calorie Fibrous Foods

Fibrous foods with a high water content, like most vegetables and some fruits, are great weight loss foods.

Why? Because they’re filling, but without all the calories. Increasing fiber intake is a simple way to increase fullness, which leads to an overall reduced daily calorie intake. 

Here are my favorite fibrous fruits and veggies:

  • Raspberries
  • Pears
  • Green peas
  • Broccoli
  • Apple s
  • Bananas
  • Brussels sprouts
  • Spinach
  • Oranges

Eat a few servings of fruits and vegetables every day, and you’ll find it easy to feel full and satisfied without eating a lot of calories.

4. Reduce Your Carbohydrate Intake

No, there’s nothing inherently fattening about carbohydrates, but restricting carbohydrate intake is a very easy way to significantly reduce total daily calorie intake.

The fact is most people just abuse carbohydrates, eating far too many every day. This is partially because carbohydrates aren’t very filling, and of course because a lot of the tasty stuff we like to enjoy is high-carb.

The easiest way to cut back on carbs is to eliminate sugars, sweets, and sodas, and limit your intake to starchy foods and grains (bread, pasta, potato, etc.) to 0 – 1 servings per day (and if you’re going to have 1 serving, make it small–no bigger than your fist).

Instead, rely on the fruits and veggies given above for your carbohydrates. If you do this, your carbohydrate intake will be somewhere between 50 – 100 grams per day, which will not only keep your calories under control, but will also help you drop water weight and reduce bloat.

An easy way of reducing calories is cutting out the cereals, rices, grains, breads, pastas, and other “comfort carbs,” and replacing them with the fibrous fruits and vegetables. 

5. Drink More Water

Research has shown that increasing water intake is an effective way of increasing fullness, thus helping you reduce your total calorie intake. 

Drinking just two glasses before a meal is enough to confer this benefit.

Furthermore, research has also shown that increasing water intake actually speeds up your metabolism.  Scientists found that after drinking approximately 2 cups of water, subjects’ metabolic rates were elevated within 10 minutes of water consumption, and reached a maximum elevation after about 30 to 40 minutes.

How does water have this effect in the body? Well, at least 40% of the increase in basal metabolic rate is caused by the body’s need to heat the water to body temperature (no, colder water doesn’t give you a bigger boost–room temperature is fine).

It’s interesting to note that salty fluids negate this metabolic boost because they interfere with cell fluid mechanisms that play a vital role in the metabolic acceleration.

Increase your water intake to about 1 gallon per day, with about two glasses at each meal, to help your weight loss efforts.

6. Get Enough Sleep

Did you know that getting inadequate sleep raises the risk for obesity by 89% in children and 55% in adults? 

Yup, it’s true. Poor sleep messes with hormones related to hunger, causing an increase in hunger and cravings.

So make sure you’re making time for adequate, good sleep.

Get enough sleep every night and you’ll be naturally less hungry, and have fewer cravings.


What do you think of these stragies for losing weight without counting calories? Have anything else you’d like to share? Let me know in the comments below!


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I'm Mike and I'm the creator of Muscle for Life and Legion Athletics, and I believe that EVERYONE can achieve the body of their dreams.

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Leave a Comment!
  • Soberal

    Thank you for the info

    • Michael Matthews

      You’re welcome! 🙂

  • António Alves

    Hi Mike,

    I’ve implemented my cutting diet last week, though I have not lost weight at all, only like 0.2 pounds. There have been 2 days where my diet was not perfect one meal I had dinner somewhere else, and another I had a cheat meal. Other than that, I have been following it precisely I believe. It is a 1887 calories diet. I know the answer might be that I am either not counting them properly, or not weighing them properly. One significant fact is that I have not done any cardio. I could’ve done it this weekend but my legs were really sore after the infamous leg day(romanian deadlifts are great!) that it would be painful to do HIIT. Nevertheless, this weekend I’ll push through it if I have too, but that would leave me with 2 cardio days, and I wanted a couple more.

    This would involve getting up really early on working days, and go to sleep early which is not always possible.Sleep could be a factor, since I don’t get a lot of sleep indeed, but is it enough to halt fat loss? I am trying to do this to keep the cardio as far apart from the lifting as possible. Regardless, what do you think this could be? Even if it were lack of cardio, being in a deficit wouldn’t I lose fat regardless?
    It seems that cutting calories even further would be somewhat unhealthy since I don’t think that less than 1800 calories for a young 155 pound guy is that good.

    I wouldn’t blame it on water retention since I drink a lot of water. What changes should I make?


    • Michael Matthews

      Hmm let’s give it another week or so and see how your body responds. Make sure you’re sticking to your plan and not sneaking in any calories. Weigh your food properly–don’t estimate portions unless you’re very familiar with them.

      You can still hold plenty of water when you drink a lot. Sodium and potassium intake play a role:

      https://www.muscleforlife.com /water-retention-and-weight-loss/

      So, let’s go another week and let me know what happens. If your weight is still more or less the same, we should add in cardio after your lifting.

      • António Alves

        Hey Mike,

        I weighed myself at the beginning of this week and I had lost around 2.4 pounds. However, I did one day of cardio and there were a couple of days where I skipped some short meals. I guess I shouldn’t have, but I was just anxious to see some changes.

        Things I now know I probably did wrong:
        I believe I was measuring using the bf caliper in the wrong place, and in this new spot which I think is right one I have around 16%. Previous results gave me smaller percentages but since they were taken in other spots I might have indeed lost bodyfat.
        When doing calorie calculations, I chose the 1.35 option, but I have not done that much exercise, so it clearly was the wrong option. The 1.2 one would result in eating 1600 calories a day.

        I felt demotivated, because like you said in another article that to have success it is important that you see quick results, I didn’t really see any, and even though only one week went by I started fearing that it would never work for me. I didn’t see a big physique change, and I couldn’t lift more weights than the previous week and in some exercises (like the bicep curl) I had to lower the weights. This is possibly because I didn’t eat any carbs before the workout, and I don’t know if I should.

        I’ll take a picture and put it here afterwards, but I weigh 156 pounds and the skinfold measurement says that I have 16 % bodyfat, which unfortunately seems right, branding me a “skinny fat”.

        I don’t know what to do, I really don’t want to go below 150 pounds, so after the holidays are over I could keep cutting, but when I reach that weight I’ll probably bulk (always staying in the 150-165 range). What do you think?
        Bulking might be a necessary phase since I have a friend that’s 140 pounds doesn’t really have visible abs, so cutting might not be of any greater use, since like you’ve said previously building muscle is key. I guess I am just obsessed with getting a six pack.

        • Michael Matthews

          You lose 2.5 pounds in the first week? That’s perfect. Some water and fat. What were you expecting for week 1?

          • António Alves

            That is a follow-up to my previous comment. This was week 2, and I am not disappointed that I lost 2.5 pounds, the thing is I believe I didn’t lose that much fat or maybe I did. What I was trying to say was that I think that cutting even more won’t do anything good. Do you agree with my opinion that some people can be skinny and have low levels of body fat but have invisible abs? I think that cutting even more will not get me visible abs(which is my definition of lean/low body fat), due to lack of muscle.

            I was wondering what you think of me maybe trying an IF slow bulk instead, to gain muscle and then cut. At the end of this 5 month process (until the start of June), I would have an improved physique where I have ab definition. What do you think?

          • António Alves

            Sorry for the repost mistake.

          • António Alves

            That is a follow-up to my previous comment. This was week 2, and I am not disappointed that I lost 2.5 pounds, the thing is I believe I didn’t lose that much fat or maybe I did. What I was trying to say was that I think that cutting even more won’t do anything good. Do you agree with my opinion that some people can be skinny and have low levels of body fat but have invisible abs? I think that cutting even more will not get me visible abs(which is my definition of lean/low body fat), due to lack of muscle.

            I was wondering what you think of me maybe trying an IF slow bulk instead, to gain muscle and then cut. At the end of this 5 month process (until the start of June), I would have an improved physique where I have ab definition. What are your thoughts on it?

          • Michael Matthews

            2.5 pounds in 2 weeks is perfect and you definitely lost some fat. It’s just not enough to see yet.

            Yes, some people’s abs are very underdeveloped but if you get lean enough, you will see SOMETHING, you know?

            Sorry if I’m just forgetting but what’s your current body fat %?

          • António Alves

            With proper measuring with the Accumeasure I got 16%, and I did measure previously but I think I was measuring it the wrong way, and now I haven’t been working out because I’m on vacation. I guess that I would see something, but perhaps it would be more motivating to go on a bulk and get bigger arms and move up the weights to prove to myself that it is possible.

            Do you think that a clean IF bulk would be ok? This guy by his stats seems to have gained muscle and burned fat at the same time, and I assume that was through some kind of bulk.
            Thanks for answering all these follow up comments!

          • Michael Matthews

            Ah cool. Honestly I would still recommend cutting to the 10-11% range and chances are you’ll build muscle along the way if you’re following my program.

          • António Alves

            Thanks for the advice! Just a quick side question, which I’ve asked before in another article but maybe you’ve missed (no worries, I see that you answer many people on a daily basis and you already answer many of my questions ! ).

            Can teenagers take creatine? The legion creatine supplement like most creatine supplements say something along the lines of “not intended for people less than 18 years old”.

            Plus, assuming that I can take creatine, is it ok to mix it with other supplements I’m taking i.e. whey post workout (creatine post workout better right?)?

            Thanks a lot!

          • Michael Matthews

            Yeah, I don’t know of any reason why teenagers can’t take creatine.

            The warning is just a standard requirement, but if you look at the science, I’ve yet to see any reason why they couldn’t.

            Yes, you can mix it with whatever.

  • juan

    I noticed that. Not too much weight loss but I started meassuring my fat% with a calipper and thats where I noticed the difference.

    • Michael Matthews

      Body composition is definitely more important than weight.

  • Dragos

    You can even lose weight
    eating junk food…

    Hi Mike, thank you very much for
    sharing this post, I really enjoy your posts. And I already got two of your
    books. In my experience when attempting
    to lose body fat (not weight only) I was very successful when even though I
    didn´t reduce calories I changed the foods I ate (much less junk food and more
    natural-unprocessed-unrefined food). I know calorie counting is important and
    perhaps fundamental but every time I reduced calories and ate junk food I lost
    weight but increased body fat. I believe certain foods have an influence
    over the body composition. Thanks again
    for your articles.


    • Michael Matthews

      Thanks Dragos! I’m really glad you like my work.

      Great job on the weight loss, and yes, the types of food you eat will affect your body composition. For instance, restricting calories while eating little protein will result in more muscle loss than restricting calories while eating plenty of protein.

      Keep up the good work!

  • Danuta C

    Another great article and very helpful too. Thanks Mike.

    • Michael Matthews

      Thanks Danuta!

  • Danuta C

    Hi Mike. Is there any chance that your Legion products will be for sale in Australia in the near future…please.

    • Michael Matthews

      Hard to say Danuta. I will start looking for distributors soon though so maybe!

  • Manish Arya

    Mike, if weight loss is all about calories in vs calories out, why is it that advocators of ketogenic diet say that one can eat as much as 5000 kcal and still lose fat?

    • Michael Matthews

      Sure, you can do that if you’re burning more than 5,000 calories per day through physical activity and such….

  • Jess

    Hi Mike, I’m reading Stronger, Leaner for women now and am enjoying your book. I’m that girl that’s lived 1/2 her life in the gym doing the wrong thing – cardio, cardio, cardio and I’ve always thought if I could burn more calories, I’d get leaner and show more muscle tone. So thanks for pointing me in a new direction. One thing I’m struggling with is figuring out whether I need to lose weight or just work on reducing my body fat and building muscle. Do you have a guideline for this? I imagine that much of this is determined by personal preference. From looking at the pictures you show of women at different percentages of body fat, I’d like to eventually get to around 18% body fat. I would guess I’m around about 20-21% now (from looking in the mirror and some body fat analyzers I’ve done in the past). I’m almost 5’2 and weigh about 113. The diet I’ve calculated for weight loss, is about 1200 calories, which I know I can do (as I’ve done this in the past) but I’m having a pretty difficult time also keeping my protein, carbs, and fat within the specified ranges, but that’s besides the point. If I need to lose weight I’m willing to keep working on tweaking my diet and figuring it out, but I don’t want to focus too much on this if my time will be better spent focusing on maintenance and strength training. Do you have any suggestions?

    • Michael Matthews

      Thanks Jess! I’m really glad to hear you’re escaping the cardio grind. 🙂

      If you’re around 20-21%, you’re in a good place to focus on building muscle. If you were around 25%+, I would recommend cutting first.

      What do you think?

  • Bob

    Mike, these articles are excellent, however isn’t this calorie theory somewhat flawed? A high GI calorie from carbs (eg. fruit, ice cream) will make you fatter than a low GI calorie (eg. Fish) because of blood sugar impact. If I eat 2000 calories a day from ice cream vs 2000 from fish it’s obvious what will make me fatter. The article above (and your books) should address this

    • Michael Matthews

      Thanks Bob!

      There actually isn’t scientific evidence for those types of claims. To the contrary, research has shown that overfeeding causes predictable weight gain regardless of where the calories are coming from.

    • AMD

      Ice cream is 143 calories for .5 cup (or 66g). In order to eat 2000 calories of ice cream you’d have to eat 923 grams of it, or 2 pounds.

      Fish is 106 calories for one filet (122g). In order to eat 2000 calories of fish you would have to eat 2301 grams or 5 pounds.

      But there’s a problem here. 5 pounds of fish is a LOT to eat in comparison to 2 pounds of ice cream. That’s the point. Fish takes up more room in your stomach for less calories therefore keeping you full longer.

      Sure you’d be less HEALTHY from eating 2000 calories of ice cream vs 2000 calories of fish, but in terms of weight you’d probably be the same.

      • Michael Matthews

        Thanks for the comment!

  • Jonas

    Ive bought your book, its awesome!
    Now that im working out in te style of your BLS-Book, i also want to give my father a chance to finally get the body he desires, as he is a classic cardio and machine-workout guy.
    However, he is at an age of 51 now, lost already 10kg only by eating in a primal/paleolish way ( i know you dont really swear by it, but it worked for him, probably beacuse of his caloriedeficit that came from restricting carbs, and because he now is eating in a healthier and more responsible way…

    So im wondering if that kind of training would also be appropriate in his age, also he had a meniscus rupture four years ago, which now isnt that much of a problem now, however he is a bit worried about the Barbell squat and the way this will affect his knee. I told him, if his form is perfect, he probably shouldnt get any trouble, well, his muscles even would get stronger as well as his tendonds, which would be obviously good for his knee.
    What do you think? Should his training be adapted in any way for him?
    His main goal is losing body fat, but of course he doesnt want to look like a coach potato when his “body fat-coat” is finally shed off.
    Any tips beside having that caloriedeficit that could help him achieve his goals? 🙂

    Now you see, because of your help already two of my family are on the way of getting fit, healthy and attractive 😉
    Thank you !

    • Michael Matthews

      Thansk Jonas!

      I’ve emailed with hundreds of guys in their 50s and 60s and many were surprised at how well they could do the program as laid out in the book. We did make a few tweaks, however:

      1. No heavy deadlifting or squatting unless the person was an experienced weightlifter. If you have any lower back issues, don’t deadlift at all unless instructed to do so by a PT. If you have any knee issues, no squatting unless instructed to do so by a PT. If you have no such issues, start your deadlifting and squatting in the 8 – 10 rep range and stay there until the exercises feel very comfortable. You can then move into 6 – 8 rep range and work with that until it feels completely stable and comfortable. You can then move into the 4 – 6 rep range, but it’s not mandatory. You have to see how your body feels.

      2. No heavy bench pressing or military pressing if you have shoulder issues. If you don’t have any, start these exercises in the 6 – 8 rep range and work there until they feel very comfortable and stable. You can then move into the 4 – 6 rep range.

      That’s it. Some guys had very particular circumstances that required further tweaks, but that was it for most.

      Nothing needs to be changed on the diet. The metabolism doesn’t slow down due to age nearly as much as most people think. My metabolism is, at best, only a few hundred calories per day more efficient than yours. (Ultimately your progress will dictate if anything needs changing, and I can help you tweak things if necessary.)

      • Jonas

        Alright , got it all, but ive been surprised that you recommend to slowly progress to the 4-6 reps also with military press and benchpressing.
        I mean, hes some years older than me, but still not another human.
        Should that mean that ive should maybe also had been introducing myself slowly to the 4-6 reps range?
        Because ive hopped right in, lol.
        (Though had some experience in working out before…)

        Now theres something that is confusing me :
        youre always speaking of different rep ranges.
        In the bodyweight article youre speaking of 8-10 reps, then again of 4-6 reps which are great, but 5-7 then again could work again, or maybe even 6-8 reps now.

        How do i know where to go now?

        • Michael Matthews

          Yeah but older people that aren’t accustomed to heavy lifting can run into issues if they just jump right into it.

          You don’t have this issue.

          Focus on 4-6 and you’ll do great. Don’t worry about other rep ranges until you see my advanced BLS program coming in my next book.

          • Jonas

            Thank you Mike!

          • Michael Matthews


  • TASan

    I agree with most of this, but why would you limit whole grains to 0 – 1 servings per day, and no bigger than your fist? You get a lot of important vitamins and minerals from whole grains, and I think they should be included in any diet. One of the studies you mentioned also found that the high protein group had higher fatigue ratings, and that could come from the low amount of carbohydrates. 50 – 100 grams of carbohydrates seems unsustainable on any hard workout regimen, and carbs are also protein sparing. Why limit them to such a low number? Why not just move more in our daily lives?

    • Michael Matthews

      Because they’re usually very calorie dense, and not always filling. You can get plenty of nutrients from other foods that are more filling.

      • TASan

        Whole grain bread has plenty of fiber, and a lot of nutrients most people would not get from any other source, as far as I know.

        • Michael Matthews

          You can get all the same nutrients from various types of veggies and fruits.

  • oliviajoness

    For women,is better to drink protein like gejner or eat more eggs,meat etc ?

    • Michael Matthews


    • Sam

      Protein is always best from real food sources like eggs and meat/fish both for men and women.
      Shakes are a great way to bump up the protein without adding too many calories, or to be able to have a quick uptake of protein i.e. pre/post training.

  • Melissa

    Another fantastic article! Thank you! I do have one question however… I have tried a low carb high protein diet (quite a strict one at that) which required me to eat 60-70g carbs per day for 4 weeks.. Then gradually increasing my carbs over a period of 2 weeks to then hit the “maintaining period” although I found this extremely successful and had great results.. 1 month on that stubborn belly fat had returned and I feel all my results have been lost. I have continued to eat in a very similar way and I am concerned that eating like this as my lifestyle has in turn made it more challenging to loose any of the fat unless I restructured myself again in such a way. This is a very frustrating thing for me but I’m determined to reach my goals! Any advice would be greatly appreciated. Thanks again, Melissa

    • Michael Matthews


      Hmm it’s probably just a matter of eating too much and moving too little.

      If you want to guarantee results, make and stick to a proper meal plan and make sure you exercise enough. Check this out:


      • Emma

        But this takes me to a page explaining how to determine calorie needs … I thought we were learning how to lose weight without calorie counting? 🙂

        • Right but you have to learn the underlying mechanisms so you can figure out what’s going wrong.

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  • Lolita Cakes

    Hi! Great article btw! have been trying to lose weight and I just don’t understand this whole BMR thing. I’m a 25 y.o female I’m 5 10 210 pounds and in also breastfeeding a little one. Now I’ve tried dozens of BMR calculators and most of the give me a appx 1700 and the. I heard that I should add about 500 because my body needs it to produce milk. Now I also exercise 5 to six days a week. 30 minutes of cardio then some weight training. My question is this. Should I eat 2200 kcals a day? Or should I eat less? Should I eat more than that because of my exercise

  • Lolita Cakes

    Hi! Great article btw! have been trying to lose weight and I just don’t understand this whole BMR thing. I’m a 25 y.o female I’m 5 10 210 pounds and in also breastfeeding a little one. Now I’ve tried dozens of BMR calculators and most of the give me a appx 1700 and the. I heard that I should add about 500 because my body needs it to produce milk. Now I also exercise 5 to six days a week. 30 minutes of cardio then some weight training. My question is this. Should I eat 2200 kcals a day? Or should I eat less? Should I eat more than that because of my exercise? Should I be eating back all or half of calories burned? Sorry! That’s more than one question.

  • Lolita Cakes

    Hi! Great article btw! have been trying to lose weight and I just don’t understand this whole BMR thing. I’m a 25 y.o female I’m 5 10 210 pounds and in also breastfeeding a little one. Now I’ve tried dozens of BMR calculators and most of the give me a appx 1700 and the. I heard that I should add about 500 because my body needs it to produce milk. Now I also exercise 5 to six days a week. 30 minutes of cardio then some weight training. My question is this. Should I eat 2200 kcals a day? Or should I eat less? Should I eat more than that because of my exercise? Should I be eating back all or half of calories burned? Sorry! That’s more than one question. This all just so frustrating just wanna lose weight I would like

    • Michael Matthews

      Thanks! Considering the fact you’re breast feeding about 2,000 per day sounds like a good place to start if you’re also exercising 5-6 x per week.

      This will help:


      Your BMR is basically the normal calculation + 500 BTW.

  • Martin

    I don’t know when this article was written, but it’s severely lacking in up-to-date facts about nutrition and the processes of the human body.

    First and foremost, “a calorie isn’t a calorie”. What I’m talking about is, it’s not just about the difference in input and output when it comes to food consumption. The type of macronutrient you’re getting from the food matters a lot, both from a health perspective as well as a weight loss perspective.

    Carbohydrates don’t readily turn into fat. This means: sugar doesn’t turn into fat (under normal circumstances). Reference to a relevant study: http://www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/NEJMoa1203388

    Fat is what makes you gain unwanted weight. I bet no one who gains muscle or increased overall energy would be complaining, but when it comes to fat, it’s what most want to avoid gaining (and rightly so).
    The fat you eat is the fat you will wear. The body gladly stores the fat you eat, but will go to great lengths not to have to convert carbohydrates into fat (unless the diet is completely lacking of fat, you have an abnormal condition, etc).

    So in addition to “counting calories” in the way of seeing that you get enough carbohydrates (around 75-85%), and keeping protein and fat intake very low (protein around 10-15% and fat around 5-10%), make sure you don’t add fat to your meals (animal fat, vegetable oils – any fat, really). This will let you lose fat and still be healthy.

    Telling someone to eat a low-carb diet is an outright detrimental thing to do, since the human body needs lots of carbohydrates to stay alive and be healthy.

    I don’t doubt this article’s method works, I’m sure it does, but it doesn’t give you all the facts you should be getting for anyone to make a more conscious decision about their lifestyle.

    • Michael Matthews
      • Maggie

        Both articles written by Michael….kind of biased. Carbs are what your body primarily needs to live on. Look at the cultures throughout history that survived on diets of mainly rice,corn, and potatoes. No fattys there.

        • Michael Matthews

          I wouldn’t say your body needs carbs to live on (keto dieting), but they’re good for energy, yes.

    • Kurt

      This guy is a moron…sounds like he’s purposefully putting out incorrect info. Dumb a$$.

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  • Brigita

    My sis lost 200 lbs. (yes, you read write, that’s not a typo) when she decide to quit doing diets (she’d tried many) and decided to do a change of lifestyle. (Kaip sumažinti apimtis)

  • Thanks for stopping by and checking out my article! I hope you enjoyed it.

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  • Naveen Singh

    Count your caloric intake with Free Online Calorie Counter

  • yessy

    hello friends

    If you really want to lose weight and reduce your waistline
    watch this video here: >> http://burnbellyfatnow7.blogspot.com/

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  • Emma

    Why would anyone not listen to what Michael says? Have a look at him! I will do whatever he says LOL!

  • Omar Abdulaziz

    I have been doing this before reading this topic, I feel so much good that people do actually do that rather than keeping on calculating and measuring stuff; thanks Micheal a lot for putting time on writing it; it just helps people who really like to exercise and dream to improve there body without keeping on doing math everyday.

  • foryou


  • Tim

    Hey Mike,

    While following these rules is it still good to have one cheat meal or cheat day per week? I’m 16 so I’m not sure if because of my metabolism this would make a difference.



    • Yep, if you’re losing weight, you can have one cheat meal or refeed per week. Enjoy it. 🙂

  • Marc

    What’s happen if you accidentally undereat without counting calories? There is some way to fix it by scale?
    For example if i see the weight is dropping to much, have une big day to balance all… Can be a solution?

  • Taylor Kuzik

    I don’t count calories because it’s time consuming and takes the joy out of life or eating. Your life becomes a numbers game and eventually you break. Unless you’re prepping for competition, counting calories is antique and leads to failure 94.5% of the time.

    I eat until satisfied most of the time it’s the usually the holidays that I eat more than usual. I bust my ass off in a workout to burn off those extra calories the next day. I don’t overeat that much anymore and whatever weight you do gain is temporary, mainly water weight that can be resolved in a day or two.

    I have recently started using smaller plates to reduce portion sizes.

    I adjust my calorie intake on the weekends because that’s where I am less active to recover from the work week. Of course I still get up to get blood flow going through my limbs.

    • Hey Taylor! Thanks for the comment.

      I hear what you’re saying regarding counting calories. Intuitive eating can work for some and if that’s your case, awesome! Keep doing what works for you and gets results. However, most people’s appetite far surpasses their TDEE so for those people, eating intuitively won’t work.

      • Taylor Kuzik

        Been using smaller plates for breakfast and lunch and now planning doing it for dinner. I am thinking of getting the improved version of the shredded chef book but I don’t know if I should get the physical copy or download it from Google Play. Want to add some variety meals including snacks deemed no-no from health “gurus”. Plus it could help develop my cooking skills.

        Besides it takes about 3,500 calories to gain just one pound of weight and it’s almost impossible to do so even with healthy eating because you’d get sick before that happened. The nutrition labels and daily values on food need to be updated because virtually all of them are based on 2,000 calorie diet. They don’t take in factors like physical activity.

        • You don’t need to be eating 3500cals to gain weight. All it takes is a small surplus over TDEE for it to creep up on you.

          • Taylor Kuzik

            I make sure not to exceed that limit 90% of the time.

          • Nice!

          • Taylor Kuzik

            Though I’ll admit there are times where I tend to have relapses where I eat a bit more than usual. I’m not bulimic or anorexic thank god. Strangely enough, I find myself doing it to get my metabolism a reboot because being in a caloric deficit for a certain period of time and your metabolism will adapt and that’s something you do not want. That’s where cheat meals or re-feed days come in. Personally, cheat meals work better for me than a re-feed day because the carbs are concentrated in that cheat meal. However, I make sure that protein is there as well. Carbs don’t have the same satiety effect that protein does.

  • Yehudah-Dovid Ben Ya’acov

    What about things like beans and lentils?

  • Taylor Drennan

    Ok so ive been doing this calorie counting thing since last October and it has gotten to the point where im obsessed with it. Im skinny fat right now and i need to recomp my body but the calorie counting is starting to control me and i just want to be happy and healthy again. What do you recommend i should do?

    • Hey Taylor, I suggest that you stop counting. Set aside an hour and create a few meal plans you can easily follow and enjoy. With everything counted for you already in the meal plan, there’s no need for daily counting. If you need help doing that, our meal planners can help out. 20% off on custom meals plans right now!

  • Valerie

    Hi Mike!

    I’ve read your LTS book and have been trying really hard to track my calories & macros via MFP.

    BUT first of all, I find it extremely difficult psychologically as I tend to think about food constantly since I need to plan and measure every single bite that enters my mouth. Plus, it’s very hard to follow such a restrictive diet plan where I always have to remember that I can’t eat most of the foods I like or the delicious meals that my family has. It’s pretty hard for me to get enough proteins too. All of these makes me worried that I might develop an eating disorder by being so obsessed with tracking 0_0

    The worst part though is that my weight has been standing still for 2,5 weeks now which is incredibly dissapointing. I am 5’2 and my current weight is 172 lbs.
    I follow a 1300-1400 range and do 3 strength workouts & 3 half an hour cardio sessions per week + one yoga class.

    I’m not sure how to approach my weight loss anymore. I keep finding motivation, then hit a plateau and get frustrated..so I break my diet (usually with some sort of a binge).

    I’m confused and could really use your advice right now. Thanks!

    • I understand how frustrating dieting can be. I suggest that you stop counting and instead create a meal plan to stick to and enjoy. That way, there’s no need for daily counting. If you need help doing that, our meal planners can help out here:


    • Miroslav Kovar

      Of course you binge – your calories are way too low for your activity level. You shouldn’t go below 2000 and take weight loss slow and steady, don’t put your body through so much stress.

      • It’s definitely true that one of the causes of bingeing could be dieting too hard. However, it’s not a hard and fast rule that you shouldn’t eat below 2000 calories. You need to be in a calorie deficit to lose fat, and for many, that is below 2000 cals

        • Miroslav Kovar

          Yes, but 1300 cals given her activity level is insane. She has better chance of keeping the wieght off by doing incremental chances, not something as drastic.

          • I agree her calories should be higher. Her TDEE is probably somewhere around 2,000, so meaningful weight loss will occur below that. 1300 is below her BMR, which is not something I recommend, so at this point, her best bet would be to reverse diet. I always recommend eating as much as possible while still hitting a reasonable rate of fat loss 🙂

  • Hey Mike, solid stuff as always.

    A couple of questions:
    1. “Protein costs quite a bit of energy to metabolize. About 25-30% of its energy is utilized in the process, as opposed to only ~5 – 15% of carbohydrate’s energy utilized in its processing, and ~5% of fat’s.” Doesn’t that go against the idea of “calories in – calories out”? For example if my TDEE is 3000 kcal, doesn’t thin mean I can actually eat ~3150 kcals of fat, ~3333 kcals of carbs, or ~4000 kcals of protein (in theoretical lab settings where I can eat 100% of one macro nutrient and 0% of the others, for the sake of example)?

    2. “An easy way of reducing calories is cutting out the cereals, rices, grains, breads, pastas, and other “comfort carbs,” and replacing them with the fibrous fruits and vegetables.” – what about the fibrous variants of the former carbs? all-bran cereals, brown rice, whole-wheat/rye/spelt bread, whole wheat pasta etc?


    • Thanks!

      1. No, it’s still overall caloric intake and energy balance that matters. The thermic effect of food does play a role in how much energy you burn, although it only accounts for about 10% of your TDEE. Your resting metabolic rate plays the largest factor. Check this out:


      2. Those can work fine. The idea is that fruits and vegetables are less energy-dense than cereal, rice, pasta, etc., so they’re much harder to overeat when you’re not counting calories.

      • 1. Thanks, I’ll check it out 🙂
        2. That’s a great point!

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