The Worst Way to Lose Weight

The Worst Way to Lose Weight

Unfortunately, the worst way to lose weight is also the most common. Don’t make the same mistakes.

Muscle loss…horrible food cravingsmetabolic damage…depression…All this and more is possible when you do all the wrong things to lose weight.

What does this fabulously bad weight loss method entail exactly?

Well, it’s recommended by “experts” around the world, including bestselling authors, celebrity trainers, and fitness “gurus.” We all know someone that has used these terrible weight loss methods, and maybe even have tried a few ourselves.

It’s this article I want to share with you how to lose weight in the worst possible way, explain why it’s the worst, and help you understand what to do instead.

So, let’s get started with step 1…

Step 1:
Severely Restrict Your Calories

worst way to lose weight fast

To lose weight very quickly, and unhealthily, you should severely restrict your caloric intake. (In case you don’t know, a calorie is simply a measurement of energy in food.)

What is a severe caloric restriction?

When you feed your body less than 70% of the energy it burns daily (create a caloric deficit over 30%), the problems can begin. The lower you go, the worst things get.

To put this in perspective, consider the following:

  • A 140-lb woman exercising 3-5 times per week will burn approximately 1,600-1,700 calories per day.

If such a woman ate less than, ~1,100 calories per day, she would be entering the problem area.

  • A 200-lb man exercising 3-5 times per week will burn approximately 2,500-2,600 calories per day.

Anything less than ~1,900 calories per day would be under-eating for such a man.

Many starvation diets have you eating anywhere from 30-50% of the energy you burn daily, and these qualify as severe caloric restrictions.










Why is this bad, you ask? Don’t you lose weight quickly when you do this?

Yes, you do…BUT…

When someone loses 6 pounds in a week, at least 50%, and as much as 75-80% of it is water, and could actually be gained back within 1-2 days of overeating.

As you lose muscle, your body not only begins to take on that amorphous “skinny fat look,” but your metabolism slows down, your bone health decreases, and your risk of disease increases.

Your energy levels plummet, you battle intense food cravings, you become mentally clouded and even depressed, and more.

 So, while severely restricting calories is great for losing weight quickly…it’s ultimately a bad way to go about losing weight.

Much better is to maintain a moderate caloric restriction of about 20% (eat about 80% of the energy your body burns every day).

By doing this, you’re able to lose 1-2 lbs of fat per week while preserving your metabolic health, energy levels, mental balance, and mood.

Use this workout and flexible dieting program to lose up to 10 pounds of fat and build muscle in just 30 days…without starving yourself or living in the gym.

Step 2:
Remain in a Caloric Deficit For Too Long

tips to lose weight

The longer you remain in a caloric deficit, the more weight you can lose.

But it also means…

I often get emailed by people that lost significant amounts of weight using severe calorie restrictions, and because they have been eating too few calories for too long, their metabolisms adapted to that low level of intake. This, then, created the frustrating situation wherein they are currently eating very little every day, yet not losing weight anymore.

They then have a dilemma of either further reducing calories or increasing exercise, and both would simply exacerbate the problems they’re already having.

The priority with these people is always to increase caloric intake and repair the metabolism, not further restriction calories to induce more unhealthy weight loss. And you avoid this problem altogether by not remaining in a caloric restriction for too long.

Generally speaking, I recommend that people diet to lose weight for up to 10-12 weeks at a time, and then increase calories to a maintenance level (eat 100% of the energy your body burns every day) for 2-3 weeks. 

By doing this, the metabolism is sped back up, the hormone profile improves, cortisol levels come down, and the body can generally just “reset” from the negative effects of calorie restriction.

If, after the first 10-12 weeks of weight loss and 2-3 weeks of maintenance, one wants to lose more weight, he/she can then go for another 10-12 weeks (if necessary), and repeat this cycle over and over until the desired weight is achieved.

Step 3:
Don’t Eat Enough Protein

fastest way to lose weight unhealthy

A low-protein diet is great for accelerating muscle loss while in a caloric deficit.

High-protein diets, on the other hand…


The abundance of research available on high-protein dieting makes it very clear that it’s simply a superior way to diet for weight loss, and especially if you’re exercising as well.

How much protein should you be eating, then?

Research has shown that protein should comprise approximately 30% of your daily calories, but going as high as 40-50% is okay as well. For most people, that comes out to be about 1 – 1.2 grams of protein per pound of body weight.

(In case you’re wondering if a high-protein diet is bad for your kidneys, this myth has been thoroughly debunked.)

Step 4:
Don’t Do Any Resistance Training

quickest way to lose weight for men

Resistance training while dieting to lose weight preserves, and can even build, lean mass.

This is why it should be part of every weight loss regimen, even if you’re not concerned with building your muscles.

You want to minimally retain the muscle you have while you lose fat, and resistance training plus a mild caloric deficit and a high-protein diet accomplishes this.

Step 5:
Do a Ton of Cardio

fastest way to lose weight

Many people equate cardio with weight loss, and figure the more they do, the more weight they lose.

While cardio does help burn calories and thus fat, and while doing more will result in more calories burned, it’s a big mistake to do an excessive amount of cardio while dieting to lose weight.


Why? There are two primary reasons:

  • Because your body is already under stress due to the caloric deficit, it’s easier to overtrain when you’re dieting to lose weight. 

We experience overtraining in several ways: “burnout,” general fatigue, depression, decreased immunity, and more. It’s no fun.

Well, research has shown that intense, prolonged endurance training is a particularly effective way to induce overtraining.

These reductions in metabolic rate are one of the things that makes it hard for many people to maintain their new weight after losing a significant amount of fat.

Because their metabolisms have slowed down, and sometimes by quite a bit, they can no longer eat as much as they were used to eating before dieting without gaining weight.

This negative “metabolic adaption,” as it’s known, is accelerated by doing excessive amounts of exercise, and particularly cardio, when you’re in a caloric deficit.

So, while cardio is an effective tool for aiding weight loss, doing a lot of long-duration, steady-state cardio is not the best way of going about it.

Much better is to focus on “high-intensity interval training,” which has you perform shorter, higher-intensity exercise. It’s not only more effective than steady-state cardio for losing fat, but also for preserving muscle.

Personally, I never do more than 4, 25-minute sessions of HIIT per week when I’m in a caloric restriction, and I usually keep it to 3.


What do you think about these weight loss mistakes? Have anything else you’d like to add? Lemme know in the comments below!


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Leave a Comment!
  • Gal Ezra

    One point definitely left out that I’m sure is a mistake is a, “no-carbs diet” to lose weight… true?

    • Michael Matthews

      Good question.

      You can certainly lose weight on a no-carb diet (so long as your daily caloric intake is correct) but it sucks–you have no energy for workouts, and many people have intense carb cravings.

      I was looking at some recent research on low-carb dieting and there’s a case for low-carb dieting for obese people (they can lose weight faster and it helps with insulin sensitivity), and especially if they’re not also exercising.

      • Gal Ezra

        Awesome… Very interesting.

        • Michael Matthews


      • Michael Mitcheson

        No carb diets eventually lead to commiting carbicide on a massive binge =D. Always love reading your advice and tips Mike.

        • Michael Matthews

          Hahah true. Thanks Mike.

      • Lori Fisher

        hmm, I found low carb (not no-carb) a very useful way of achieving a deficit and I have to disagree about the cravings. For me it is the other way around, if I do eat too many carbs in one sitting I end up tired and sluggish for the rest of the day.

  • Rhys

    Great stuff as usual Mike. I’m currently bulking but will certainly focus on this advice when it comes to the dreaded cut.

    • Michael Matthews

      Thanks Rhys! Hope the bulk is going well and if you just follow the cutting advice in the book, you’ll do fine.

  • Stuart Cullinan

    Great article. I’ve just started a bulking cycle after a 3 month cut and I’m battling to increase my appetite to get the required calories in. Is this the adaption you talk about or is this just normal? Any tips on how to increase my appetite?

    • Michael Matthews

      That’s very common. Bulking properly can actually be a challenge in terms of eating enough.

      What I like to do is focus on eating a bunch of calorie-dense foods. Here are my favorites:

      Red meat

      Grains like brown rice and quinoa

      Oils like coconut oil and olive oil


      Whole-fat dairy

      Multi-grain pasta and bread

      Almonds and almond butter


      White and sweet potatoes

      Hope this helps!

  • Mike Rebel Carman

    Good job…

    • Michael Matthews


  • Bob

    Why dont your books mention cutting for 12 weeks then maintaining for 3?

    • Michael Matthews

      It’s something I’ve been using more recently and it’s going well. I’m going to add it in the next update to the book.

  • Isaiah OCDS

    Clear, concise, and convincing, Mike, as usual. What does a skinny-fat 65-year-old male do, getting back to the gym, to lose the gut and pack on muscle on the limbs and all the rest? I’m afraid “normal” eating will just add more to the spare tire! Thanks.

  • Leo

    Interesting read. Does the cons mentioned in the article concern everyday caloric restriction or does it also refer to intermittent fasting diets?

    • Michael Matthews

      Thanks Leo! Yup, IF doesn’t negate the negative effects of being in a caloric deficit.

  • Gus G.

    Great article Mike, as usual. Ok so want your thoughts on my cardio routine if you get the time here. I climb the mountains a lot and it is high intensity while climbing and then you have to completely stop and wait until the heart pounding in your head subsides and then you do it again. So you go from high intensity to total stopping again and again. Of course when you reach the top of the mountains then you get a lot of flatter, lower intensity walking for a good span and then you climb another mountain etc. and I will do this for a whole day (probably burning off like 5 billion calories a day haa). Then I eat about as much food as I can (some of the food is not very good for me, like tv dinners and chunky soup etc.), Anyhow whats your thoughts on using this for a cardio routine (except for making better choices on my eating)? I love doing this for it is absolutely beautiful and of course I’m breathing the great mountain air too. Anyhow kind of wondering about the high intensity and totally stopping and resting and then back to high intensity, is that good or bad for a person? I know it seems I gain strength in a hurry doing this, legs, heart and lungs.

    • Michael Matthews

      Thanks Gus!

      As long as you eat enough you should be totally fine. Personally I would bring snacks and sandwiches and whatnot to ensure I get enough food…

  • Tony Dulaney

    Hey Mike,
    First, thank you for all the time you put in for our benefits. My question is does it matter were you protien comes from? i know you say lean protien, ie chicken, but i also use whey isolate to increase my levels. my major problem is when i come home on my weekends. i eat horrible from just having so many cravings. During my work week, im on the road, driving a truck across country, and i eat great. chicken, salads, brocolli, nuts ect. i also snack on Kashi Go Lean.

    • Michael Matthews

      Thanks Tony! Glad you like my articles. 🙂

      Supplementing with whey is fine, but generally speaking I recommend you get at least 50% of your protein from whole foods. And in terms of building muscle, meat is best. I guess you could live off supplements and such, but my stomach would freak out…

  • David

    Absolutely scary article Mike… but not for its content! I’ve just coincidentally embarked on a journey into a quick-as-you-can fat loss regime and had a massive deja vu reading this article! Don’t know what that’s about!

    I started 6 days ago but will be exercising for the first time tonight. I’m taking nearly all the main weight loss & muscle-aiding supplements you recommended in other articles and your books. So far, I’m incredibly 7lbs lighter but I’m certain and as you have just said (unfortunately!) that most of it is water. I don’t look as bloated or fat that’s for sure.

    I am actually on a low-carb diet BUT not intentionally: My focus is to eat every 3 hours, making sure each meal is between 30-50g of protein and 200-250 calories. This obviously doesn’t leave much space for carbs or fat but finding salads and celery soup can be nice!

    My calorie deficit has probably been too low but I’m going for a one month holiday in just 6 weeks time and I’m 30lbs overweight so I’m DESPERATE! Of course I’m not expecting to lose all that weight but what I am trying to do is lose as much fat as quickly as possible without losing too much muscle.

    Then once on holiday, I’m hoping to do a bodyweight workout in the morning thus hopefully preventing the pounds piling back on during the holiday!

    Your article has really said it all. I know I should eat more and will probably over-train somewhat but I’d rather be a little extreme but only until I go on holiday.

    I do have one important question which I hope you can help me with Mike. Would you recommend that I have a cheat day (slightly more than my daily needs?), let’s say the seventh day with simple carbs (without neglecting protein of course) with the hope of boosting leptin levels? Do you think it could make a difference with this kind of diet?

    Thanks very much for the article. Very helpful.

    BTW, my energy levels have never been better but the test will start from tonight! Remember, I’m desperate!

    • Michael Matthews

      Thanks for sharing David!

      Well, you will lose weight on 800 calories per day. Make sure you don’t gorge on the holidays though or you’ll just gain it all back.

      Sure, a refeed day could help. I would make it moderate calories–1 gram pro per pound, 1 gram carb per pound .4 grams fat per pound.

      Hope this helps! Lemme know how it goes!

  • marka

    Hey Mike, u r spot on. I just came off a 30% restriction after 16 weeks. Whilst I have lost a lot of fat, I was gutted on the last electronic measurement to find out that the final 2kg loss was muscle, and not fat, and my BF% had gone up not down as a result. Just did a one off marathon off road session on the bike today (over 2,500 cals burnt!!) so I am eating like a horse to refuel. Thanks for the advice.

    • Michael Matthews

      Thanks! Arg yeah that will happen, especially when you add a bunch of cardio. The good news, however, is that it’s easy to correct.


    Hi, I’m 59 and 5 weeks into a UK medical research diet (the very low calorie diet research @ Newcastle University). I eat no more than 800 calories a day for 8 weeks in three balanced shakes and half a pound of veg. The diet is an already researched and proven cure for type 2 diabetes. See: http://www.ncl.ac.uk/magres/research/diabetes/reversal.htm
    Like you I was sceptical about the value of this.
    I have lost 21 pounds in 4 weeks (below average) by sticking to the diet. My blood pressure medication is now halved and will go diwn again soon. These are not temporary changes but can be maintained with the type of dietary maintenance you are recommending.
    I feel great and have trained most days with kettlebells and have managed to maintain a 255 pound deadlift (SMR before was 305 pounds). The training has been key to maintaining muscle mass, but I have lost strength…I hope to get that back with quality muscle-building rather than help from sheer bodyweight which I think I’ve had up to now.
    I am not in any way trying to contradict what you are saying, just adding another perspective. Obviously the 2 weekly medical checks and support are key…but they have never had someone exercise this much before!

    • Michael Matthews

      Thanks for sharing! That’s great.

      One thing to consider is how overweight you are will have a HUGE effect on how severely you can restrict your calories without suffering adverse consequences. And how long you can remain in a deficit for.

      In short, the more body fat you have, the more you can restrict your calories, and the longer you can remain in a severe restriction, without any major issues.

  • jrring

    Hi Mike. Loving the site. Wealth of great useful knowledge without the hype or sales pitches. My copy of BLS is ordered and should be here soon.

    I am overweight. Guess I would be classified as obese, but I’ve been whittling away at it for the last 3 years. I’m currently at 290, down from 360.

    My question is, when involved in proper dieting and resistance training with cardio (been an advocate of HIIT for years thanks to John Stone Fitness) at what point does weighing yourself become pointless, due to building muscle mass while burning off fat. Reason being, I’ve been hovering at 290 for the last 4 months, but I just dropped another pant size. I know how much you weigh is only a small factor in being fit, with body aesthetics and general well-being being the other factors (for me).

    I’d like to hear your views on the matter.

    • Michael Matthews

      Thanks so much! I really appreciate your support.

      Great job on the weight loss so far. That rocks.

      Very good question and in my experience it varies from person to person. In your case, you should be seeing a steady reduction in weight every month. You CAN build muscle while losing fat, but when you have a lot of fat to lose, you can drop 2-3 pounds per week whereas it’s impossible to build 2-3 pounds of muscle per week.

      Your pants dropping a size is great and indicates fat loss, so my guess as to why your weight has remained the same is that you haven’t lost much fat in the last 4 months, and that weight that you would have dropped has been offset by muscle grown and water retention.

      Now, going forward, the goal should be to steadily reduce your weight. What are your diet and exercise routines like?

  • disgusted

    think before your write, too much misinformation. do not work hard, eat lots of food, who are you kidding???????????????????????????????????????????this is the message you send, and then put buzz words like metabolic damage in their heads. stop manipulating people with this treachery.

  • Mike

    Hi Mike,

    My wife seems to be at a standstill on 1,100 clean calories..she strength trains and does some walking..3-4 days per week..her job is desk…another variable is that she is just recovering from cancer some months ago..
    so her levels have been off a good bit as they have tried to adjust her medications..she’s taking synthroid as her thyroid has to be removed (where the cancer was)

    I’m not sure how else to help her at this point other than to get her blood monitored again and see if things correct…normally someone would be losing on this amount of calories..she’s 5’2″ and 146 pounds at the moment..her goal is to get back to 130. We are going to do her bodyfat next week to see where she’s at..I’m at a loss, unless there is food intake I don’t know about, which I don’t think there is..ideas? Thanks..just saw your interview on youtube with Greg OG..enjoyed it a lot while I trained.

    • Michael Matthews

      Thanks for writing! I’m glad to hear your wife is past the cancer scare.

      I suspect that her metab has just slowed down too much as she should be able to lose weight on a bit more than 1100 per day. Going lower is not advisable.

      The focus should be on speeding the metab back up, and the best way to do this is as follows:

      1. Increase weightlifting to 5x per week if posssible.

      2. Lift heavy weights (6- 8 or 8 – 10 rep range).

      3. Focus on compound lifts like squats, deadlifts, bench press, and military press.

      4. Include some HIIT cardio, 2-3x per week for 25-30 min per session to begin.

      5. Eat a high-protein diet.

      6. Increase calories gradually to reach what SHOULD be her maintenance (1700-1800 per day if she were to lift 5x and HIIT 3x per week).

      Hope this helps! Glad you liked the interview with Greg! 🙂

      • Jburn15

        Hello Michael im a boxer so I try to stay away from heavy weights is it ok to still lift with moderate weights or body weight resistance training and still lose weight

        • Michael Matthews

          Sure, totally fine.

  • Clara

    I’m currently 17 and slightly underweight, like I’m 183cm and 59 kilos (and I always weigh myself after my big meals so that’s like my maximum weight) and although I have a toned body (I do muscle training 3-4 times a week at a moderate then high intensity for about 45 minutes) but I don’t know why my lower belly although it is smaller than that of most girls, proportionally to my upper belly it’s really big and I don’t know what to do because I don’t want to lose more weight at this point

    • Michael Matthews

      Thanks for writing! Cool on your stats and that’s great you’re already exercising regularly.

      Hmm well my first question is do you know your body fat percentage?

      • clara

        not too sure, but last time I checked they were like 18-21 around that area

      • clara

        I’m definitely alot leaner than I used to be, I used to have a 31 inch waist (middle of summer) and im now at a 25

        • Michael Matthews

          That’s great. Are you currently tracking/counting your food intake? If so, how many cals per day?

          • clara

            usually about 1000, I don’t really eat many high cals things but I do eat a good amount of things, usually a fruit salad in the morning, followed by a balanced meal at lunch and a chicken salad or salmon salad for dinner
            I also do the 24 hour fast twice a week and 19 hour fast twice as well

          • Michael Matthews

            Ah okay. 1k per day is quite low. You’re slowing your metab down too much.

            I would first focus on speeding it back up. Given your weight and exercise you should be able to eat around 1500-1600 per day without gaining any fat…

          • clara

            I don’t work out everyday though only about 5-6 times a week, the only thing is I eat very healthy so I eat alot of low cal food, especially because I come from Asia and so I grew up learning how to cook nice and healthy food, so I know how to like substitute the fat stuff for the non fat stuff while still being as full and as nice, like instead of adding loads of sauce and oil in my meat like alot of people in my school do (I go to a boarding school) I would marinate it then steam it in lotus leaf, and like for starches in like sushi and stuff I was taught many tricks to replace them with other things (especially since my brother own a sushi retaurant in hong kong the chefs there have taught me alot) and instead of having pasta with very fattening sauces I tend to have rice noodle with some clear soup (depending on what I feel like I could have fish or chicken soup) and on my salads instead of like the ceasar dressings or things like that, my brother gave me before I left hong kong (I go to school in the uk) some sauce which the chefs in his restaurant mixed which is neither high in salt nor sugar or calories or fat or anything and I add some sesame seeds to it and loads more little things like that
            so I’m not really restricting myself like in food, I just go for other options which are much less fattening

          • Michael Matthews

            5-6x per week is PLENTY. That’s what I do.

            Great on eating healthy.

            Do you count your calories? Are your sure you’re at 1,000 per day and not more?

          • clara

            yep I do the 24 hour fast twice weekly and the 20 hour fast 3x and on other days I do the 16 hours fast which limits my calorie intake
            like yesteday I had:
            -breakfast: 75g of organic raspberries with no fat greek yoghurt (100g which is about 60 cals) and some ground cinnamon which in total adds up to a maximum of 200-250 cals I think
            -lunch: 85g salmon sashimi (which I slightly grilled like around the surface, and marinated with garlic and ginger for a few hours, and added some sesame seeds so to avoid using soya sauce) which I dont think exceeds 300 cals, followed with some cucumber and cherry tomatoes (both organic) I think should be 150 calories at most (I didn’t have alot just enough to fill one hand)
            -dinner: activia coconut yoghurt 120g which is 121 calories

          • Michael Matthews

            Thanks for the info.

            Well my recommendation is to increase your calories. You’re simply not eating enough–it’s not good for the body.

            Your metab is going to slow way down and you’re in an age where energy is especially needed for growth.

            I would jump to 1200/day for 1 week. Then 1400/day for 1 week. Then 1500/1600/day from there on out…

            High protein will be good too. Shoot for 130 grams per day.

          • clara

            thank you very much 🙂 what about my workout routine?
            its usually:
            -monday: Hiit( 2.5mins warmup, 22.5 minutes of 30secs bursts and 1 minute low intensity, 5 minutes 20secs bursts 10secs low intensity, 2.5minutes low intensity, 7.5minutes 30secs bursts and 1 minute low intensity, another 5 minutes 20secs+10secs then 15 minutes with 1minute bursts and 2 minutes low-medium intensity) then 30 minutes steady state, then muscle training for about 1 hour (I train all muscle groups at first at a medium-high intensity for about 5-10 minutes, then at a v.high intensity for the rest) then I end with another Hiit workout (this time 5 minutes warmup 15 minutes of 30secs bursts and 1 minute low intensity then then 10 minutes cooldown at a medium intensity then high for a minute then low)
            -tuesday: due to my academic committments I do less on that day and I just do like 45 minutes of steady state cardio at a medium-high intensity
            -wednesday: same as monday but with more muscle training
            -thursday: usually that’s the day where I don’t do much, I walk to lessons and sometimes go on a run in the morning for about 30 minutes.
            -Friday: same as monday but without the muscle training and instead more Hiit or steady state
            -saturday: same as Monday, but if I have more time I would do more
            -sunday: same as Friday + swimming
            usually I burn about 800 cals in a fasted state, and about 1000 normal state

          • Michael Matthews


            Honestly I would have you doing a lot more weightlifting and less cardio. This will not only build a better body (curvier while lean), it will speed up your metab and allow you to eat more food.

            Lemme know what you think.

          • clara

            yeah I know like I sometimes do it on sundays as well but the only thing is I have only recently started doing muscle training and moved up quite fast to quite a high intensity and my muscles are usually very sore the next day, I’ll try to see how it goes though 🙂
            and I kind of go for the steady state cardio option on tuesdays because I have lessons like within 30 minutes after and when I do muscle or hiit I am knackered for a good 3 hours
            what could you recommed for like abs? I usually do alot of weight lifting which require like a wide range of movements, I do alot of squats and weighed squats, I do the plank and side plank but other than that. its basically it

          • Michael Matthews

            Yeah I understand.

            My recommendation would be lifting 4-5x per week and cardio 3x per week.

            I like weighted cable crunches, hanging leg raises, captain’s chair leg raises, and air bicycles.

            Planks aren’t very good.

          • clara

            I did strength today so that’s 4th time this week ill try to do the same tomorrow 🙂
            ooh never tried weighed cable crunches or captain’s chair leg raises I”l try those tomorrow
            I do hanging leg raises as well! and air bicycles
            I also do some hockey, but I don’t count that in the “workout schedule” like my school when we have matches sometiemes put me down if they’re short on people

          • Michael Matthews

            Awesome, great job! What type of weightlifting are you doing exactly?

            Cool on the abs. Lemme know how it goes.

            And great on the hockey. It’s intense cardio. I used to play as a teenager.

          • clara

            I do hockey like only once a week though, when there’s a match then twice and really intensely for about like 1:30h well matches are shorter, but much more intense and sometimes there are 2 matches back to back
            dumbell bicep and tricep curls, weighed squats, pull ups (no weights) barbell curl, hammer curl, stability ball chest presses, pushups, those are usually what I do, I do some other ones sometimes though!
            today I did a bit of muscle (at high intensity though) for about 30-40 minutes then power walked on the treadmill for about 45 minutes, I was too tired after yesterday to do more

          • Michael Matthews

            That’s cool on the hockey.

            Great on the lifting and cardio.

            Keep up the good work and keep me posted!

          • clara

            I did an hour and 10 minutes of muscle today again! I did it in the morning during my 18h fast, then I waited 4 hours to do hiit cardio for about 1:30h just so my muscles had some times to rest
            I was wondering, because I’m in a boarding school in the north of England it will start snowing and getting quite icy soon, and since the gym is quite far from my boarding house and at the top of the hill whilst mine is at the bottom I may not have as much time to make my way up as often (maybe just 4-5x a week at most) what could you recommend to do at home which doesn’t require equipments?

          • Michael Matthews

            Cool! Did you have BCAAs before training though? Remember you don’t want to exercise in a fasted state without BCAAs (or leucine in particular).

            Regarding home training, check out this post of mine:

            https://www.muscleforlife.com /the-ultimate-bodyweight-workout-routine/

          • clara

            I’m not really sure what BCAA is, like I read your post but I’m still not too sure…
            I work out in a fasted state about 2-3 times a week its useful but extremely tiring especially when doing hiit+ I’m severely flat footed so I do some balancing excercises every morning in a fasted state

          • Michael Matthews

            Here’s BCAAs:

            https://www.muscleforlife.com /recommendations/supplement-recommendations/strength-growth-and-recovery/mrm-bcaag-reload/

            You don’t want to train in a completely fasted state. I talk about why here:

            https://www.muscleforlife.com /the-truth-about-stubborn-fat-and-how-to-get-rid-of-it/

          • clara

            I just did those and omg I can feel my abs so much right now! but it feels great! and for weight lifting like for shoulders, biceps, triceps, back and squats I went up 2kg which was difficult but feels great 🙂 I’ll see how it all goes

          • Michael Matthews

            Haha great! Keep it up!

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  • Toni

    Wow. This was me about two years ago. Too much cardio and too little calories. Took me about a year to correct the damage I had inadvertently done to my body. More people need to read this article and take this to heart.

    • Michael Matthews

      Many women are in the same boat. Let’s help them! 🙂

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  • Adam

    Hi Mike – great article, but I’m caught in a dilemma. I’m overweight by around 50lbs. So, I want to lose weight. I want to lose 50lbs.
    I’m an ex-Rugby player, heavy set and not averse to shifting some heavy weights.
    I understand the logic behind cutting daily calorific intake by 20% – what I’m struggling to get to grips with in my head is resistance training to lose weight. In my playing days, I only ever put weight on with weight training.

    I’d really appreciate your help in setting me off in the right direction please.

    Many thanks

    • Michael Matthews

      Thanks Adam!

      Cool on your stats. You will not gain weight lifting–lifting actually helps you burn fat faster. I talk about this here:

      https://www.muscleforlife.com /7-ways-to-kick-your-metabolism-and-fat-loss-into-high-gear/

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  • Rebekah Glidewell

    I realize this is an older topic, but I’m researching how to increase my calorie intake and still lose weight.

    I started in September at 176 and my fitness pal told me to eat 1200 calories a day. After training myself this became easy. I was stregth training from day one, but nothing too extreme. I lost weight fairly quickly.

    I’m now sitting at 149 and until 2 days ago was still eating 1200 or less.. I am on week 3 of Beta on T25 and have been doing half hour additional weights workout after. I do all in home and have dumbbells and a barbell.

    It was brought to my attention that I’m starving my body and after using iifym,I guess I am. So now I’m told to eat around 1700 calories and 150gs a day of carbs and honestly I’m freaking out. I still have a good amount of fat to lose. I’m 14 pounds from my goal weight of 135 and I love strength training.

    I guess my question is, did I completely ruin my metabolism? Is the scale going to jump back up due to my sudden calorie increase? I still fell about a hundred calls short of the 1700 the last 2 days and honestly find it hard to eat that much and even harder to eat that many carbs. Also, I had not been eating carbs after lunch, but was told I should be spacing them out and including some at dinner..

    I’m asking myself if I workout intense enough, lift enough, to justify all these new additions? I realize it’s a mind game and I have to retrain my mind, but a little solid backing that I’m on the right track for continued fatloss and muscle gain would be great.

    Just for reference, other than my T25 and weights, I’m pretty low activity. I am also starting Insanity in 3 weeks.

    I eat mostly clean, my calories are definitely from healthy sources.

    Any advice would be greatly appreciated!

    • Michael Matthews

      Thanks for the comment! Check this out:


      You haven’t caused any permanent harm and you’re already fixing it. You will need to eat more food though, yes. Going from 1200 to 1700 is too much of a jump, however.

      • Rebekah Glidewell

        Thanks for the reply.. If that is too much of a jump, where should I be? I have yet to hit 1700, though I’ve only been at the new macros for 3 days. I’m averaging 1500, give or take a few. I will definitely read up on the link you posted. Thanks again!

        • Michael Matthews


          Check out the article as it explains how to do it correctly.

  • Thylicia Britt

    Man I’ve been guilty of them all. Glad I know better now.

    • Michael Matthews

      Nice. 🙂

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  • hello

    hi michael, you said that doing hiit can preserve muscle, but some article said that it burns muscle. Does it burn muscle?

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  • Fernando

    The excessive running would explain why I lost so much muscle mass after I kept joining cross country.

    • Michael Matthews


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  • Guest

    What great information. I have been searching for answers and
    information behind those answers to explain every piece. I have over
    100lbs still to loose and even though I’ve been busting myself at the
    gym and eating properly (really!!) I’m not loosing and its been 12+
    weeks. After talking to my trainer we are upping calories and
    continuing the healthy food. I sure hope this works. I’m out of

  • Megan

    What great information. I have been searching for answers and
    information behind those answers to explain every piece. I have over
    100lbs still to loose and even though I’ve been busting myself at the
    gym and eating properly (really!!) I’m not loosing and its been 12+
    weeks. After talking to my trainer we are upping calories and
    continuing the healthy food. I sure hope this works. I’m out of

    • Megan

      I’m 38yr old and even though my body is older, I should be seeing some changes other then how I feel. I do like that a lot but it isn’t enough! I’m praying these tips work! I don’t want to resort to weightloss surgery!

      • Michael Matthews

        I totally understand! I think we can figure it out!

    • Michael Matthews

      Thanks! Let’s first take a look at your diet:


  • Joey

    Great article! I’m on block 3 of p90x3, and have lost about 8 pounds so far (currently 5’10, 155lbs), and am seeing my abs for the first time (which is awesome!!!). I’m thinking about incorporating jogging (with running intervals) and short HIIT workouts in the morning, while doing p90x3 in the evenings, but I’m wondering if that would be overdoing it? My goal is to get truly defined abs. As for my diet, I am eating a very clean diet, heavy on proteins: whole bran cereals and coffee in the morning, fruits and nuts as snacks throughout the day, two meals with lots of vegetables and lean meat, with a protein smoothie after my workouts. I also drink tons of water and green tea (I don’t even crave pop anymore 🙂

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  • Anthony Jesse

    I’ve been e-mailing you recently about how I’ve been gorging my self on my kids pop tarts lately. I think I’m doing it because I’ve been trying to lose weight for too long. I was dieting for way longer than 10 weeks. I did lose 60 lbs though:) I think I might try bulking for 10-12 weeks then try losing the extra 10 lbs of fat that I need to lose to get to 10% body fat. I never considered doing both in short cycles.

    • Michael Matthews

      Ah okay well let’s do a reverse diet first:


      • Anthony Jesse

        Thank you so much for the advice. I could definitely eat a little more;). I’ll give reverse dieting a try.

        • Michael Matthews

          YW. Great LMK how it goes.

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  • Cat Preston

    Hi I’ve started a 800 cal diet today it says to only do weights at gym no cardio is this right

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  • kassandra

    Wow I’ve done all these incorrect things for years no wonder..
    I will begin to correct such mistakes to be at my prepregnancy weight. THANKS

  • Rachel L

    I definitely did the whole not eating enough and stalling my weight loss thing. I started eating more calories (now I’m consistently between 1800 and 2000). I want to attempt to lose weight again but I’m scared to get back into the same predicament as before! Where should I start? I should note that according to charts for height/weight/activity level (I calculated on the IIFYM website) my maintenance calories are supposed to be around 2400… But I had a hard time getting to where I am now to be honest. I make sure to eat the amount of protein the IIFYM plan proposed for me at 1900 cals, but the carbs are always less and the fat is usually a bit more. I’m a 26 year old woman. Help!

  • Jules

    Hi Michael I’m currently 116 lbs 5’7 and I am 24 % body fat. I have done exactly what you listed above for about 5 months, i only ate 1 meal of 4oz of chicken and romaine laettuce for 5 months, maybe some froyo once in a while and excessive cardio. I was miserable and (going through a hard time dealing with a close family members illness) What do I do now? I have barely any muscle and a lot of body fat. I would love to heal and gain muscle, please tell me what program for fitness and eating I should follow? I feel so idiotic and as if I can’t gain muscle … Where do I go from here? I’m 25 years old and a female btw
    Thank you so much

  • luke

    Good Afternoon Mike,

    I hope you don’t mind the message, Firstly let me introduce
    myself.. My names Luke Ritchie and I am a 15 stone, 5ft 10, 25 year old male.

    I am currently in the process of trying to lose some serious
    weight and gain some serious lean muscle. I have been back on and off training
    for around 4 months now (sometimes its hard due to work commitments) I have
    managed to lose 1 stone 7 since June and have begun to notice my shape coming
    along until 2 weeks ago when I have not been able to get into the gym (Although
    still trying to do cardio when possible)

    I am just looking for some advice on my current diet / exercise
    plan as I have spent all day trawling the internet and find everything a little
    hard to understand being new to all this.

    I am meant to be eating around 1500 calories a day according to
    my fitness pal app that I use to track my weight loss and calorie count. I am
    an office worker so do very little calorie burning during the day although I try
    to walk to and from work which is a 10 mile round trip. I have been eating
    between 1400-1850 calories a day consisting of a high protein yet varied diet
    including some fresh fruit and vegetables and a mixture of meats / fish. With
    the cardio I am currently doing some days say a 10 mile walk at about 3.5mph
    burning say 1000 calories then going to the gym and burning maybe another 600
    calories on a cross trainer machine and then maybe a hour of weights ( the
    weights I don’t log calories burnt as I don’t know how to quantify them ) I am
    burning say 1600 calories.

    If I am only eating 1500 calories a day and burning 1600 and I doing
    harm to my body / weight loss / progress. I would be please to read anything
    you could advise me with or point me in the direction, something preferably
    that is easy to understand and to that point J !!

    If you have time to get a reply back to me it would be greatly

    Kind Regards

    Luke Ritchie

  • Vic7toria

    Great article! So much information. No trainer at the gym will tell you this.
    After long years of yo-yo dieting, losing and gaining, and ending up 60lb up on 5’4 frame (the highest i’ve ever been), and NEVER reaching the level of leanness i wanted or the body i dreamed of! I’ve been blessed to meet a great coach and exercise specialist. The first thing he did -put on a 2500 cal diet of healthy carbs, proteins and fats, and 30 min a day WALKING! As Im looking at the macros I am literally freaking out. For a female with screwed up dieter’s mentality (and a “stairmaster cardio queen) it a VERY difficult thing to grasp. But i keep telling myself that its all worth it in the end to get in the optimal shape and health possible. God give me patience and strength to stay on this path of righteousness. LOL Wish me luck guys.

    • Michael Matthews

      Thanks! Glad you liked the article.

      Hmm that’s a LOT of calories. Why so high?

      Check this out:


      You’ll like this as well:


      • Vic7toria

        That’s what i thought as well. He told me it’s around 2200. 30cardio and 1hr lifting. He told me eating like this for 3-4 weeks will get my metabolism going, and hormone levels in check so i can build muscle and drop weight w/o going into a deep calorie deficit. I eat fats and protein with every meal (nuts, olive oil, avocado), and complex carbs with 3meals out of 5 ( 1/2 cup). Lots of veggies, limited fruits. Plus a post work protein. Pretty high on fats.

        Thank you the links. I’ll check them out. 🙂

        • Michael Matthews

          He’s over-simplifying the reverse diet. Check this out:


        • BlahBlahBlah

          Just chiming in here. The most weight I ever lost was when I was on Jenny Craig at grandparents dls a day and did 45 mins of cardio 4-5 days a week. Now, I dont advocate JC or Nutrisystem or cardio only. I was just shocked that I lost weight eating so much. I was used to starvation diets which failed miserably.

          I kept the weight off for four years and put it all back on and then some after my grandparents and dad died in the same year. I quit working out and started drinking three or so bottles of wine a week and eating junk food. Im 5 feet tall and got up to 173 . I sobbed when I got on the scale and my dr. said I was obese 🙁

          Now, Im back to counting calories (about 1560 a day) and doing t25. I am at 155 now.

          Eating more calories is still hard for me to accept. Most of my friends are on hcg or ideal protein and lose weight quickly.

          • Michael Matthews

            Thanks for sharing. Starving yourself to lose weight is unnecessary misery.

          • Vic7toria

            I definitely know what you mean. Its a tough thing to wrap your head around especially all the people around doing all the wrong things. Keep doing what you’ re doing. Im in the same boat as you are. We can do this.

  • mark

    if you don’t mind me asking you Michael? What kind of weights are you lifting? Deadlifting/squating 2X your body weight? More or less? Just a rough idea. Thx

    • Michael Matthews

      Hey Mark,

      My recent bests were:

      Squat: 345 or 350 for 2-3 (don’t remember exactly and don’t have logs with me)

      Dead: 435 for 2-3

      Bench: 295 for 2

      Military: 225 for 2

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  • Austin

    Hey Mike I am 5’10, 155 pounds around 12% bf and have found I am generally unable to lose body fat at 1800 cal a day which is a 20% deficit with one refeed day a week at 2400. So I cut my calories down by 200-250 to 1550-1600 with one refeed day a week still at 2400. I am not particularly hungry or tired and am maintaining and or increasing my lifts still. Is this ok, that amount of calories? I find I generally have to eat at 10X bodyweight to lose roughly a pound a week.

  • Adam Roman

    Great Article Mike especially the 10-12 weeks in a caloric deficit point. I was losing weight at a nice steady clip but at the 3 month mark I hit the wall. The last 7 weeks have been a grind with very little success. For the next 3 weeks I am going to hit maintenance numbers then drop back down again. Thanks!

  • jeg

    Mike, I train on a limited schedule (3-4 days of strength, including hiit cardio on same day, different time). I’m following the macro recommendations from BLS. Should I reduce macros on days I don’t train since I’m not training 5-7 days a week? It would seem like the 3-4 days I don’t train would be essentially refeeds, what do you think.

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  • kelly

    Hi mike, Ive just finished reading your book Thinner Leaner Stronger (which I loved due to your no BS approach! ) & am following the training programme and have also cut my calories from 1600 per day to 1300 per day whilst I train for a bikini contest. I weigh 105lbs and am 5ft tall. Im eating around 145g protein, 65g carbs and 50g fat per day but am really struggling tp not go over my carb intake, I usually go under on calories and fat but over on my carbs, but not only that, Im absolutely starving on an evening! Its only my 3rd day, should I expect this or am I doing it wrong? Any help much appreciated, thank u, from Kelly in the UK

    • Michael Matthews

      Thanks for reading my book and writing! I really appreciate it.

      Those calories sound about right given your size. We could adjust:

      120 pro
      100 carb
      45 fat


      • kelly

        Thanks for your reply, past couple of days I’ve probably gone over on carbs by between 5 and 20g per day but under on my calories by upto 200. But yes I’ll try the 120 protein, 100 carbs and 45 fat and see how I get on with that, thanks again. Also really enjoying the training programme, trained my back today and it was the first time I’ve ever done a proper deadlift! haha felt good 🙂

        • Michael Matthews


          Okay cool let me know how the macros go. Glad to hear you’re doing well! Keep it up! 🙂

  • Daisy

    Hello! Just read this article and I totally understand where your coming from and agree with what you are saying, but my dilemma is that I have a wedding to go to at the end of Febuary month. I need to lose 10-15 pounds. I have looked for ways to do this on the internet but I only can find diets that are 1000 calories. Can you please help! After reading your article, I’m confused as to how to lose the weight quickly.
    Thank you

  • Tammy

    I am a 49 yo female, very active. Working out with weights 5 days per week and cardio. Started taking a Dark Matter BCAA powder supplement after I workout and I have gained 2 lbs. What s happening? I am following a high lean protein diet, few lean carbs, veges, fruits. Thank you

    • Michael Matthews

      Great on what you’re doing.

      You’re going to gain weight when you start lifting simply because your muscles are going to store more carbohydrate (glycogen) and water, but you may be eating too much as well.

      Check this out:


  • Jay

    Hi Mike ,
    I had some questions about weight loss , since I’m in my senior year and I have a lot of stuff to do I didn’t have time to exercise. So I got T25 because it’s not that time consuming ! And I’ve been on a strict clean eating diet plan ( no fried foods, fast foods, sweets) which is high is protein !
    I just finished my 3rd week of alpha , my body started to get toned but I gained weight , I’m guessing it’s muscle mass …
    But I wanted to know should I expect to lose some weight or not ? And if so what else can I do in order to lose weight ?
    Thank you

  • Sid

    Hi mike .. I am 87kg and 170cm ..i do resistance training 1.5 hrs and around 20 min cardio speciffically trademill..3-4 days a week …my aim is to shape my body…but i am confused with my diet plan as i am a vegetarian ..need help

  • Michael Matthews

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

    Feel free to comment below if you have any questions. I do my best to check and reply to every comment left on my blog, so don’t be shy!

    Oh and if you like what I have to say, you should sign up for my free weekly newsletter! You’ll get awesome, science-based health and fitness tips, delicious “guilt-free” recipes, articles to keep you motivated, and much more!

    You can sign up here:


    Your information is safe with me too. I don’t share, sell, or rent my lists. Pinky swear!

  • martin

    Hi im currently a 208lb male about 30% body fat .5ft 9inch.ive worked out i should be eating 1671calories as i train 4-5 times a week (strength and cardio)work as a mechanic.does that calorie count sound about right?and also could you plz tell me what percentage of carbs protein and fat would be best for fatloss.im looking to get down to about 180.thanks

  • Fletcher Donovan

    Hey there. Just a quick question as I would like to clarify this from a different source than those I’ve sought in the past: If I am a 27 year old male weighing 157 pounds around the 14% body fat range, doing t25 6 days a week for exercise- what do you suggest for a daily caloric intake to not restrict my calories too much, but enough to lose fat at a steady reasonable rate?

    Regards, Fletcher

  • Mary

    Hey! I had weight loss surgery 4 years ago and lost 110 pounds. I have plateaued out at 205 pounds(5’6″ female). I know I need to be around 160 but the scale won’t budge. I am eating around 1800 calories a day and doing some HIIT 5-6 days a week. My RMR is 1800 and I am burning around 2500-2600 a day. For the last year I have done T25, 2 rounds of Insanity, P90X and I am now doing Insanity Max:30. I am eating 80% clean. I am so very frustrated. The doctor doesn’t believe me when I say I am really trying to lose the last 40 pounds. I have recently come across articles like yours about eating too few calories. In the last two weeks I have increase to 2100 calories a day and still NOTHING. I am still fluctuating the same 2-3 pounds. What gives?

  • Fay

    Hi Mike, I’m so grateful I came across this article. I went from
    196lbs to 130lbs in about 10 mo by focusing only on my eating. I began to exercise when I reached goal weight. I began running a few miles followed by swimming, sometimes a couple times a day. I consulted a dietitian who suggested I increase my protein and caloric intake to maintain.
    Now, 1 year later I am at 147lbs, working out 6 days/week (4 days resistance/weights & light cardio, 2 days running 6-8 miles) & Would really like to see the scale move down to 135lbs. I feel stuck! I don’t want to decrease too many calories and then lose the muscle I have gained & I also don’t want to continue to slowly gain more weight. Do you have any suggestions? Btw, I’m female, 5’5.

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  • Abbey

    I am 5’2″ female and weigh 115 and stay active as long as I’m not in school/studying. I’ve been looking into a nutrition plan that suggests a high protein diet of around 1600 Calories a day. However there is controversy as to wether or not this is a healthy long term diet. Or if it is actually a starvation diet which will result in metabolic damage–> increase in weight in later years. But according to this article that doesn’t seem to be the case. Any thoughts?

  • Stephanie

    Hey Mike! Great Article, my question is I’m 148 pounds and 5′ 6″ but my bf% is around 19-20 so i have a good deal of muscle for being my weight. I just want to strip off some of the fat around them and make my muscles stand out more and have that clean separated look. I tried upping my calories but I just ended up gaining more fat I think. I eat around 1500 cals a day and work out 5 or more times a week depending on how my body is feeling. My training is weight and HIIT based but also I am a cyclist so some cardio from that.

    Have any ideas for me to get leaner without sacrificing my hard earned muscle?

  • Matt

    Great article! can anyone help me?

    I have made a mistake over the last few months and severly decreased my calories and now have a skinny fat look. I do low-impact full body exercise 3 days and week and do cardio about 3 times a week as well. At the time I didnt realize what I was doing as wrong, I just saw the number on the scale getting smaller and it clouded my judgement. From what i’ve been reading on the internet I am at at the minimum average weight and shouldn’t loose anymore but I still have belly fat, love handles and other parts of my body that also have stubborn fat.

    What can i do to correct this? Should i slowly increase my calories over time? Any help would be greatly appreciated!

  • Rob

    Hey! I just recently started working out again. I am cutting right now as well. I am eating about 1840-1980 calories a day. The problem is tho I am 6’3 and 325lbs…my chaloric deficit says it should be 2745 calories. Am I hurt in myself by doing this?

    • Great! That’s a little low but you can get away with it because you have a lot of fat to lose. You’re eating at least 150 grams of protein per day right?

      • Rob

        Yes i am. I believe im getting more or less 200 grams a day.

  • JM

    My issue seems to cover quite a few of the low stages covered in the article. I just can’t lose the fat once I get to 200 lbs. I gain strength fine, gain muscle as well. But I can’t for the life of me figure out why I can’t drop the fat like every article says I should. Calories and macros hit without fail. Tried different levels when in a deficit. Even tried to “Reverse diet” to fix any metabolic damage I may have caused. Still stuck. Really don’t know what else to do. All of these articles and postings make it sound so easy and cut and dry. I just want to know what I’m doing wrong and fix it. I feel like I’m wasting my time and money every month that goes by and nothing changes. All the while everyone else seems to be making gains with less effort than I put forth. I lift 5 days a week, every week.

  • Malia

    So I’m trying to estimate how many pounds I can lose in four months. I will be doing four days of leg weight training for an hour alternating with three days of upper body weight training, as well as doing T25 Alpha every day. I am twenty years old, female, 5ft7, and will be eating no more or less than 1,500 clean calories a day, no dessert or fatty meats, small portions of carbs. I currently weigh 178lbs, if I do the above for four months can I expect to lose 2 pounds a week?

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  • Karma Police

    Great article! I’m having problems getting enough calories, after converting to a whole-foods diet. I had been on a strictly garbage fast-food diet for many years, then recently went 100% “real” foods and find it very hard to even eat enough to not fall into these traps. I’m only hungry enough to eat twice a day, about the size of my fist – and I’m never hungry in the morning, so skip breakfast everyday.

  • Sam

    Hi Mike, awesome informative articles! good job. I am new to weights, and was able to drop fat by about 3% (to 20%) and increase my muscle mass by about a kg in my first 3 weeks. I was lifting weights in the morning (5/week) and doing 20-25 mins HIIT in the evening (2-3/week). After the initial 3 weeks, the measurements reversed – put in some fat and dropped muscles. I stopped the evening HIIT sessions suspecting overtraining. Thereafter, in last 2 weeks, I am kind of hovering about the same measurements without any progress..
    What am I doing wrong? I work-out monday to friday and mostly rest in the weekends, sometimes taking a walk or mild jogging

  • Natalie

    Hi Mike, love your articles! I was hoping you could help me out here..long story short, always weighed 65kg, developed an ED, got down to 55, then recovered however experienced binge eating, now 70-75kg and can’t get any lower than 70kg! My set point was always 65kg I believe and I just can’t budge it now.. I exercise regularly, incorporate weights (could do a lot more) and eat less. I sometimes wonder if I need to eat more as some days I barely scratch 1200-1500 calories because I’m not hungry!

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  • Dominick

    “Generally speaking, I recommend that people diet to lose weight
    for up to 10-12 weeks at a time, and then increase calories to a
    maintenance level (eat 100% of the energy your body burns every day) for
    2-3 weeks.”

    What if my previous caloric deficit became my new maintenance? im 5’7″ 160lbs at 1900cals. been eating that much for about 3 months and im ready to go into a deficit again for another 5lbs which is my ideal weight. once you reach your goal weight why would you increase calories again unless your ready to lean bulk?

  • Antonio

    Hi Mike! Thanks a lot for posting this article it is very informative. I am doing basically all the mistakes you mention undortunately because I am in a situation where I must lose a ton of weight (25kg) in a relatively short amount of time (less than 3 months).
    Until 3 years ago i was training (professional judo) 6 days a week 3 hours a day and I was 87kg of muscles, little heart problem made me stop and one month ago I was 98kg of not muscles. I started a crush diet of an average of 1000 calories a day. I keep it balanced at 50% carbs, 30% proteins and 20% fat. No junk food, no sugary drinks or soda no pasta, 1slice of wheat bread in the morning, no rice, no fried stuff..
    Unfortunately I have little time for training because of my job but I walk(step counter app) an average of 10000 steps a day at fast pace and I do a little bit of weights in the evening 10×3 25kg each arm and 10×3 squat 30kg. No food cravings, no depression, clear mind. I drink a ton of water and green tea. I dropped in 1 month from 98 to 84kg, than the impossible happened. I trained a little bit more one day and the day after i had sore limbs and 4kg more… I cannot understand why… I dropped 2 sizes of trousers my arms, chest and shoulders are slighly bigger, waist slightly smaller. But I cannot understand these 4kg extra… I am 1.73cm, 88kg, 20cm wrist (big bones) I am in a caloric deficit of more than 1000 calories a day. I really cannot understand the 4kg weight increase in 1week. I log all the food in a food journal, there are no extra calories sneaking in. Theoretically i should be losing weight, the wrong way, but not gaining weight…

    Do you have any idea?

    Sorry for the extra long comment

    • Your body “fights” against large calorie deficits in various ways. Check this out:


      I don’t recommend starving yourself. Why try to lose weight so quickly?

      • Antonio

        Hi Mike!
        Thank you very much for your reply.
        It might sound silly but I have to attend an event in July that can possibly change my future, at least for what business is concerned. Certain circles give a lot of importance to appearances, the way you look.. also in the next couple of months I will have to attend to three weddings, including my own.. and a little weight loss could help.

        Anyways since my last post I have increased my calories intake to 1500 cals every other day and I added a more fatty day (still 1000 calories but I eat more good fat). I dropped 3kg from the 88.6 to 85.4. Let’s see how it goes this way.

        Thank you very much for the link to the article.

        • YW!

          Oh okay well I understand. Make sure you’re eating plenty of protein. 1 to 1.5 grams per pound of lean mass.

  • xanton

    Are you sure about the HIIT is preferably over Steady state? HIIT impeds the ability to recover at far larger degree than steady state cardio. I would recommend do cardio as little as possible but enough to sustain health benefits, although if you keep rest times mostly to 1-2 mins on the weight routine you get the benefits anyway.

  • Calzone

    What if there is some type of exercise you really happen to enjoy?

    For example, I’m an avid mountain biker (and I’m utterly unable to estimate how many calories I’ll burn on a 1-1.5 hour ride unfortunately (normally I go with 800 but who knows)). There are long, slow, grueling climbs involved. They will last 5-10 minutes (or more in a few cases), normally interspersed with brief all out efforts to overcome obstacles and steep inclines, along with less intense inclines and even the occasional flat or minor downhill… So it’s not really HIIT, although it almost can seem that way.

    As a rider, you slog through the climbs to get to the top of the hill, and then you get the reward of bombing downhill (not taxing on the heart anymore, but you have to spend most of the time squatting and absorbing shocks with your legs, not to mention the mental demands).

    I love doing this. Often. 3x a week if I can. Heck, sometimes I’ll do it 6 days in a row if I have a mini vacation. Sometimes I’ll take trips somewhere special and spend all day mountain biking (or hiking).

    So, how do you incorporate this into your program? To be honest, I’d rather not use the biking to try to lose weight. I just love doing it. So should I offset the biking with exact calories in carbs? Fats? Proteins?

    As for weight loss, I still want to engage in HIIT as per your program. I’m just asking how you account for people that engage in extracurricular exercise from time to time. I’m sure there are guys who surf, or play volleyball, frisbee, tennis, etc.

    How do they fit these into the program without messing it up?

    • Hmm the long answer short is it depends on your body. Some people are able to do a lot more cardio and lifting than others without overtraining.

      I’ve worked with quite a few marathon runners and what we usually have to do is taper lifting down as cardio ramps up. When they’re pounding the pavement 6-7 days per week we usually have lifting down to 2-3 x per week.

      We also don’t want them in a calorie deficit during this period.

      If I were you I’d start with adding 3 x lifting to your weekly schedule and see how your body responds. If all is good you can bump to 4, see how it is, etc.

      You’re going to need to eat a lot of food though. This will help you:


      • Calzone

        I already have been lifting for some years. I found myself spinning my wheels just like you several years back. I really appreciate what you have figured out and committed to page for the world. I just bought BLS and am reading it while I try to figure out getting back to healthy TDEE balance before doing a cut the right way. The way you recommend.

        I’m at 17% and got to 15% at best and was utterly unable to cut further. You recommend cutting to 10 before attempting to bulk which makes a lot of sense. So I’m using the BLS program from now on.

        I’d love to be 190 (5’11) and sitting between 7 and 10% in the future. That’s my dream goal.

        But I love mountain biking and it really confounds calorie and macro calculations for me. If I had to choose, I’d favor getting the body I want over mountain biking, but I hope that’s not necessary. I also figured there must be a lot of other guys in my boat who are “weekend warriors” of some type of athletic activity who might benefit from a systematic approach.

        • I hear you.

          Honestly you’re right that too much biking just screws a lot of stuff up. It directly hinders muscle growth and makes meal planning a complete craps shoot.

          That said, you may be able to make it work. It’s probably just going to require a bit of self-experimentation…

          • Calzone

            I’m following BLS 5x/week with 3 cardio sessions, using 1.3 as my multiplier; reverse dieting until I get to TDEE balance before I start the BLS cut routine.
            So let’s say I get 700-900 calories worth of biking in on a day when I would normally do my 20-30 minutes of HIIT… how should I make up for the calorie difference? Can I eat more fat then? Or does it need to be all carbs? Same ratio? Would I really need more protein?

          • Cool I like it. Yeah you can eat a bit more on those days. Calorie expenditure is kind of a guess with those things though FYI.

            You could eat more fat sure.

          • Calzone

            So, if I may try to summarize:

            1) Recreational exercise, above and beyond what is prescribed by the program, could become detrimental to progress, especially if not calorically balanced to maintain the optimal cut or bulk.

            2) To prevent any detrimental effects, one should increase caloric intake for the day in question, to account for the extra exercise and skip one normal HIIT session for that week.

            3) If 1 normal HIIT session is skipped, subtract the HIIT calories from the recreation calories to determine amount of make-up calories needed for that day.

            4) Assuming you are hitting your protein requirements, there’s no need to eat more protein. Make-up calories can/should come from fat and carbs, preferentially in the same ratio as a normal day, but this is basically flexible.

            5) Observe effects of recreational exercise and make-up calories on fat, weight, and muscle composition over several weeks to assess if calculations are off in one direction or the other.


            HIIT Calories
            If we’re following BLS, which means 5 1hr lifting sessions per week, plus 3 20-30 min HIIT sessions, and using a 1.35 TDEE multiplier, how many of those 0.35 calories are accounted for by the lifting and how many by the HIIT? HIIT calories can vary quite a bit. I estimate my 20 min aerobic HIIT sessions to be worth 205 calories, but my 30 min stationary cycle sessions claim to be 380 calories.

            Other calories
            Depending on lifestyle we may burn many more or many less calories. Does the 1.35 multiplier assume a totally sedentary office person who drives everywhere (no exercise other than the BLS program)… or a city dweller who walks everywhere and works a job where he’s standing and much of the day?

            At what point do we consider extra activity as something that should be accounted for by our TDEE multiplier so make-up calories are spread out as regular daily calories instead of treated as one-off exceptions? And how would we determine an optimal multiplier?

            Bottom line, I think this is some important territory here for you to explore/address in a blog or even a whole book: there are lots of adults who engage in athletic recreation, (or who have physical jobs and lifestyles) yet still have problems with losing fat/gaining muscle. I realize there’s no one-size-fits-all answer, but I think there are some basic formulas and realities that it would be helpful if we could better understand them. A systematic approach like you use everywhere else would really help.

            I’d sure buy the book 😉

            Side note: I’ve noticed that when I go mountain biking, it normally causes at least 1 lb of weight loss (for about 1-2 days). Obviously due to water/sodium loss. Obviously this also means not to make the mistake of assuming the weight loss is fat/muscle and panic and start piling on more calories.

          • Right on your summary.

            Unfortunately the best way for you is going to be approximating every day’s TDEE using standard estimation methods.

            You have BMR x basic movement of maybe 1.1 and then approx cals burned lifting that day, HIIT cardio, etc. Recreational cardio would be calculated on its own days.

            Then you have your total weekly burn and you can set daily accordingly. You don’t have to change daily but you want to be at about 80% of total burn for the week and not go below a 25% deficit on any individual day.

            Would make a good article yes.

  • Pingback: The Definitive Guide to Why You're Not Losing Weight | Muscle For Life()

  • Robin Hubbard

    So here is my story. i am 32 female 5’10 and 160
    i have been atuck for nearly 2 years. I feel like i have entered into a vicious circle of eating disorders. I have tried everything. First of all i was overweight all through highschool. Was 263 at my largest and now i am down but im skinny fat
    i do intermenttent fasting and it is not working anymore here is what a day looks like

    I eat at 1130 am its usally an apple cut up with almond milk and flaxseed and berries. For an afternoon snack its plain crackers and pickles

    Dinner is usually salad followed by the protein i have made for dinner. I also crave chips..i try not give in but if i must i do plain baked chips.
    week of training is like this
    monday is leg day so i do gymaholic and shredded workout combining them
    tuesday is cardio so about 40-45 minutes on treadmill with the highest incline
    Wednsday is arm day
    thursday is cardio treadmill 45 minutes incline
    friday is full body about 1 hour
    Saturday is a 1.5
    sunday is a break day if im not feeling fat. Most days i feel bloated and the more i work my legs, the more i cant wear my jeans. I also do hiit qorkouts MWF.. im exhausted and frustrated..any suggestions?

  • Robin Hubbard

    So here is my story. i am 32 female 5’10 and 160
    i have been atuck for nearly 2 years. I feel like i have entered into a vicious circle of eating disorders. I have tried everything. First of all i was overweight all through highschool. Was 263 at my largest and now i am down but im skinny fat
    i do intermenttent fasting and it is not working anymore here is what a day looks like

    I eat at 1130 am its usally an apple cut up with almond milk and flaxseed and berries. For an afternoon snack its plain crackers and pickles

    Dinner is usually salad followed by the protein i have made for dinner. I also crave chips..i try not give in but if i must i do plain baked chips.
    week of training is like this
    monday is leg day so i do gymaholic and shredded workout combining them
    tuesday is cardio so about 40-45 minutes on treadmill with the highest incline
    Wednsday is arm day
    thursday is cardio treadmill 45 minutes incline
    friday is full body about 1 hour

  • Shaneen Lim

    Hi , you’ve got a great article here. I’m basically here because im quite depressed over my BMI. Ive lost some weight recently , feel good , but yet when I step on the scales, I’m considered very overweight because my BMI is 25. I’m already looking pretty ‘ flat ‘ since loosing the weight , and now im not sure if im doing anything wrong. fyi, the only weight training im doing is the les mills body pump classes 2x a week. im so depressed..

  • yessy

    hello friends

    If you really want to lose weight and reduce your waistline watch this

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    You will learn a new method for weight loss without
    neglecting your work or rearing your children-.,.

  • Ondrea Sirianne

    Loving all these articals..

    PLEASE READ MICHAEL….Here is the deal. I need help, not just mentally !!

    Had my 2 baby 11 months ago. I am 155 and 5’2 .. very mushy! After my 1st, I lost 65 pounds being on a candida diet because I get obsessive , but it was bad so weak and emotional all the time, but I did it with insanity and Jillian dvds..

    Recelty Tried jillian dvd and 1200 cal diet. I was a mess. I was hungry.

    Moved to body beast on beachbody, more cals and no cardio… Then thought I should go paleo… Can barley work out with out feeling weak…

    Now I am eating anything, mostly healthy but large portions.. and love chocolate everyday after meals. I have been doing hot yoga 2 a week though…

    I have a salon in a gym and wondering .. Trainer? Classes? What kind of diet? I am very stressed all the time with three inches of belly fat..

    I am scared to buy another meal plan and work out regimen…

  • René Nobelen


    Great article. I’m not sure what to do in my situation. I’m 30 y/o, 189cm tall, 79kg, b/f recently dropped to 14%. I work out 4x a week (heavy weights), and try to get 3 cardio sessions of 30 mins per week in.

    I used to be quite fat, 101kg and untrained. I have never been lean in all my life. I was always chubby. At last im getting to the point where I really want to be and that’s in a lean shape. However, I can’t seem to shake off those last pounds of fat, so I still have this tube of fat around the stomach area. It’s really frustrating as I’m very happy with how the rest of my body looks like.

    My TDEE should be approx. 2600 kcal, so I’m now in a 400kcal deficit at around 2200 kcal, also carefully watching my macro’s (35% prot, 45 carb, 20 fat). I have been in this deficit for approx 3 months.

    What should I do? Increase calories for a while and then try again?

    Any help is appreciated! Thanks.

  • Christopher Jackey

    Hi, I like the article. I have a question though, I have a fatty liver and my Dr. sent me to a dietitian and they said that I need to do a 1800 calorie a day diet. She also said to do weight training 2 days a week and up my cardio. I currently do 3 days of weight training and 30-35 min. of cardio. before working out. Should I change anything?? Thanks.

    • Thanks! I like what you’re doing with your exercise. Have you tried the diet?

  • Sufian

    Awesome article as always.

    Would cycling my calorie intake would help to prevent problem in Step 2 as long as i still in 20% calorie deficit weekly? (High cals in workout days, lower cals rest days but when adds up, still in 20%calb deficit)

    • Yeah you can do that if you like. Even in that case, you don’t want to do it for too long though because ultimately, you’re still in a deficit.

  • Austin

    Hey Mike I only have about 8Ibs of FAT that I want to lose to hit my goal body fat of 8% but I have been spinning my wheels for months and months with impatience (Because I am so close) sabotaging me, I need some real positive momentum what do you think of Lyle McDonald’s Rapid Fat Loss? I know it is EXTREMELY aggressive aiming for pushing 2.5-3 pounds of pure fat loss a week even for people who are relatively lean but I figure doing it for 7-10 days could give me that positive momentum I am looking for by quickly burning several pounds of pure fat. Do you think it would cause any harm to do for 7-10 days before going back into a regular deficit?

  • Vespin

    Hey Mike, this is the situation:

    I don’t have a car so the gym is about a 17-20 minute jog back home after I’m done. I go to the gym 4 times a week, lifting heavy with low reps. Now is it alright for me to jog back after my weightlifting sessions(Because I also want to reach home ASAP.Haha)? Or will it impair my muscle growth?

    And if it is okay, will it be alright for me to do some HIIT on the other three days? I’m 19, at 14% body fat and I really want to reach that 10% body fat-shredded look.

    • Your gains will be fine. 🙂 I don’t recommend the HIIT on the other 3 days though. That’s too much cardio.

      Let’s just stick to the cardio running back from the gym 4 days a week. Sound good?

  • Elle

    I’m on week 7 of T25 and have reduced calories to 1200 and lost no weight at all and I don’t understand. I need to lose 25lbs and eat lots of fruit and veg and smoothies, dramatic change from before but no losing weight. Is it I’m not eating enough?

  • Firsticous Lastilicous

    Excellent article, thank you! A+

    Would you recommend 10-12 high intensity training or 3-5 or 6-8 reps? Haha! For best results that is, I know all will work. I got allot of muscle packing on me @ this point and wish to sacrifice less than 5 pounds over the 3 month period.

    My current workout is 2 weeks hypertrophy 1 week strength (3-4 reps).

    I’m leaning toward doing 3 reps while losing weight so that way I would still get stronger (not bigger with cal deficiency I’m aware) and lose weight. Your excellent experience would be appreciated.

    • YW!

      Good question. Check this out:


      LMK what you think.

      • Firsticous Lastilicous

        I’ve been doing 10-12 reps hyper trophy and 3 reps strength (both mainly compound). Your article made me realize that when dieting I should be doing the “same” routine to maintain
        IIA & X fibres so it did help ty!.. I’ll give it a try anyway hah

        I’m 5’9 220 pounds now. I got low bf but will start dieting when I hit 240. I’m 100% natural. Don’t believe in the DNA limitation science, I believe genes mutate just as our muscles do to keep up with growth. I was 200 pounds before, stopped working out for 2 years, lost it all and I just regained it and 20+ pounds in less than 7 months! (Muscle memory till 200 pnds); your in an excellent shape but that’s a little bit of motivation story since your natty! I read so many articles that it is impossible this and that to gain “x” amount of lean mass and I was super skinny/crappy genes when I started working out.

        I recommend organic source whey, big difference vs chemical whey. I got me some fat gripz now I would recommend them as well. 2+ tips that will make a difference in gains for you! ;p

  • Kai

    Thank you for the detailed article. I’m just finishing a 12 week course of 35% calorie deficit with a 10 lb weight loss. I am about to go back up to maintenance calories for your recommended 3-4 weeks; however it seems that all other recommendations suggest slowly reintroducing calories by 50-100 each week, which contradicts this article.

    Can you give some more details about your plan? If you can link me to some other resources, I’d appreciate it. I’m trying to devour all the info I can so I can make this a permanent change!

    Thank you,

  • Ashleigh

    Hi Mike,
    Thanks for a great article.
    I am a passionate mountain biker and I have been trying to lose this very annoying bit of fat around my thighs. I am a female, 165cm tall and 55kg (sorry I’m South African) I have good muscle tone but just don’t have the athletic build that I want. I do weight/strength training 3 times a week and then I cycle up to 6-8hrs a week. Since I have found your website, I have realized where I have been going wrong in a few areas of both my diet and my training but I still enjoy competing in MTB races, therefore I obviously need to put in the hours on my bike. My question to you is can I still lose the fat if I incorporate HIIT, a good diet (your recommended way of eating) and strength training on top of keeping racing fit. I have also started training in a fasted state but I’m now so nervous of losing too much muscle.

  • Buddy

    Hi mike,
    I think I have been going about getting back into the gym all the wrong way and I’m in desperate need of some help on how to get back started without killing myself. I I have tried all kinds of diets lots of cardio with lots of short term success (loosing 30lbs and than hitting a plateau and loosing interest in the gym) but I’m now looking for a much more long term plan that will help me live a much healthier life.
    I’m currently quite over weight (33YO, 5’11-330LBS) and a lot of my weight sits in my stomach area. I would eventually like to see myself at around a healthy 240LBS. I grew up playing sports and being very athletic my whole life, until I injured my ankle in the military and got it fully reconstructed in 2003. Ever since then it has been just weigh gain after weight gain.
    in the past I have done the low card lots of cardio or the high protein lots of cardio. but with some research and friendly advise I been told to lower my cardio and do more weight training. I just started working out 3-5 days a week again and I’m hoping I’m going about this right. I start my day off with; 1 mile on the elliptical, 2k meters on the row machine, two upper body workouts (dumbbell bench, shoulder press dumbells, lap pulls or dumb bell curls), then off to a short 3 rep full body circuit 10 pushups (most the time on my knees), 20 squats (my body only), and 30 sec planks with a 90 sec break in between each full set. do you have any suggestions for an entry level individual like myself? is this a good start or is this a bad idea?
    For the most part my current diet consists of a 2 egg whites and cheese omelet with 1 piece of bacon for breakfast, syntha-6 protein shake for lunch and either fish and rice, chicken breast and rice, or steak and rice for dinner. I probably need to start counting my calories better but I work in a remote place where I don’t cook my meals. Any suggestions for that?
    and last but not least is there an all in one APP you would suggest to help me keep on track? thanks for your time hope to hear back from you

  • OKD

    if I was cutting in a 20% deficit and I am still working out etc…..If I played a round of golf would I need to increase my calories for that day as otherwise It would put me into a too aggressive deficit and I would start burning muscle ?

    • Nope, no need to increase cals. It’ll just help accelerate fat loss. 🙂

  • Andy Taylor

    Hey Mike, I live in thailand, very humid so drinking gallons of water, just started diet and excersice, at 250lbs want to drop 50, cycling 1 hour a day 4 days a week and gym 3 days for 45 mins plus swimming a mile twice a week (slow swim)calories down to around 1800 a day, only 1 week so far but no loss at all?

  • Josh Smith

    Mike – thanks for pointing me to this article, really helpful! There’s so much more to all of this than I ever imagined… So just to clarify, if my BMR suggests that I’ll burn 1900ish calories per day doing nothing and my recommended calorie intake should be 3400 calories based on my lifestyle/training intensity does that mean I should be intaking roughly 2720 calories per day in my effort to continue losing weight regardless of if I train harder one day than the next or have a rest day or 2 inbetween? I’ve done 50 days at this point averaging 1,000-1,500 calories a day training 3-6 times a week a mixture of cardio and weights training as I mentioned earlier. Apologies, just wanting to get really clear 🙂

    • NP!

      If your TDEE is 3400 then yes, 2720 is good for a 20% deficit and that’s what you’d eat daily. Your weekly activity is taken into account when calculating your daily intake. You can make sure your calculations are correct here:


      However, if you’ve been eating only 1000-1500 cals a day, you’ll need to start with a reverse diet. Check this out:


      LMK what you think!

      • Josh Smith

        God damn you’re a jedi man… Those links were a big help, changed things too, my original numbers would have been off. My original BMR was close but my TDEE was like 1,000 cals a part based on your calculator… Your info says that I should probably be around 2,000 cals a day so I’ll start reverse dieting up towards that and see how I go.

        • Haha thanks Josh! Glad the links were a help, and you were able to correctly calculate your TDEE and BMR.

          Sounds good on the RD. LMK how it goes.

          Talk soon!

  • Scott Thomas Curry

    Ok So Mike let me get this straight. I weigh 181lbs. 5’11” 44 years old. I am around 13-14 BF I am guessing based off pictures. If I am trying to get rid of the stubborn fat around belly area where most of is. The quickest way to do this is a 20-25% Caloric deficit staying within your guide lines 1.2 Protein, 1.0 Carbs, .2 fat 1924 cal VS my 2575 BMR? I do HIIT & IF together and have been for a while so it wont be a shock to my system to go into a deficit. I wont gain muscle but preserve it and should lose fat doing heavy 4 rep style work outs? Am I on the right track? Also, If wanted to gain muscle I would take in about 10% more calories than my 2575 to 2832? Thus fat lose would be minimal to none but Muscle would increase? Want to make sure I have this right? Do you have a suggestion to monitor my food calories such as an app that works best? myfitnesspal, Fitday,…ect? Thanks your Awesome!!!

    • You want to be in a 20-25% deficit from your TDEE–not BMR. I generally don’t recommend going below BMR.

      The macros should be 1.2g protein per pound of body weight, .2g fat per pound of body weight and the rest should come from carbs.

      Otherwise, you’re on the right track!

      Yep, the goal while cutting is to maintain muscle and strength. If you’re new to this style of training, you can actually gain muscle while losing fat. Check this out:


      For bulking, same thing. 10% surplus from your TDEE. And yeah, when bulking properly, there wouldn’t be fat loss.

      MFP is decent. I like using sites like Calorieking.com and Caloriecount.com.

      My pleasure! 🙂 Hope this all helps!

      • Scott Thomas Curry

        Oh I see, I made a mistake it was not BMR it was TDEE when I used your calculator. It says TDEE 2586 & BMR 1916. So to be -25% from TDEE would be 2328 cal? Thanks for the Calorie guide sites. I tried Myfitnesspal and is confusing and hard to navigate, I will give one of these a try to make sure im following the Calories right.

        • Ah okay. No worries!

          If your TDEE is 2586. A 25% deficit is 1940. I’d recommend starting with a 20% deficit. The 25% deficit puts you too close to your BMR. So your cals should be 2070.

          What do you think?

          NP for the calculators and guides! 🙂

          LMK how it goes.

          • Scott Thomas Curry

            Thanks Mike you know your shit and I have been researching and studying this stuff for many years and your making more sense than the stuff I have learned. I seem to forget the body is a machine based off cals in cals out and the chemicals within the body and how they work.

          • Welcome! I appreciate the kind words.

            Yep, it all comes down to energy balance. 🙂

      • Scott Thomas Curry

        Awesome Caloriecount works the best and easiest to use than the others. So big question how do I know if I should be cutting or bulking based off my current stats. 181 lbs, 5’11” approx. 14% BF. I think the newbie gains are history at this point even though I have recently changed to 4-5 reps ultra heavy compared to the magazine 8-10 rep workouts, been working out for years but on and off but no long breaks.

        If I wanted to get down to 8% by summer mid-June 2016 what would I weigh and is it possible with IF & fasted /weight training amd or HIIT with 20% CAL deficit? Need to know what direction I should go in at this point?
        Thank for your support!!!,

        • Thanks!

          I recommend you start with a cut. Here’s why:


          If you’re new to this style of training, you can still make some newbie gains. 🙂

          It is definitely possible to reach your goal by then. With proper training and dieting you should be losing 1-2 pound a week while cutting. So, you should be able to reach your goal in 6-12 weeks.

          These will be good to keep in mind while cutting:



          Welcome! Hope this helps! Talk soon!

          • Scott Thomas Curry

            Hi Again, I am a little confused about moderate bulking, which I want to do for about 2 months then cut from March to June 2016. The TDEE calculator with 10% surplus says 303g protein/ 303g carb/ 67g fat, total daily calories 3027. Yet in your article on “The Ultimate Guide to Bulking Up (Without Just Getting Fat)” it says 1g of protein per pound (181g)???? and increase carbs only around 150 calories and fat keep the same 20%… The numbers are waaaaaay different!!! which way should I be going here? Also do you only use Fat burner, HIIT, intermittent fasted workouts when cutting and not when bulking? Explain because it would seem counter productive and wasteful to use cutting tactics when bulking… thanks again, Scott

          • Hmm that protein is really high. Unnecessarily high. If you weigh 181, then yeah, around 180 g protein is good.

            Check this out:


            I only use fat loss supplements when cutting. As you said, it’s pointless when bulking because it just means you’re going to have to eat more food to maintain your surplus…

          • Scott Thomas Curry

            Ok so my TDEE is 181lbs., 14BF, 6+ hours activity level. It shows TDEE 2752 when you add 10% for bulking, Im 3027 cals. So in order to get there with 181 grams of protein the Carbs will be around 400 grams? Recap- Protein 181g/ Carbs 400g/ Fat 67 g? Does that look right? Thank again

          • Close! It should be like this: Protein: 181g Carbs: 450g Fat: 54g.

            LMK what you think. My pleasure!

          • Scott Thomas Curry

            Thanks again just saw this….

          • NP!

  • Bella

    Firstly, I would like to thank you for the article, lots of helpful info!
    I am someone who has always struggled with her weight.I have always been quite ‘chubby’ and knowing that made me feel very depressed so this summer holidays, I decided to do something about it. In August, I started eating more healthily and exercising but things soon ‘got out of control’. Unfortunately, I started restricting more and more calories. The thing is, I got used to eating less quite quickly and stopped feeling hungry. I’ve also never felt “out of energy” and because I was losing weight and for the first time, feeling great I just carried on. I have been eating about 700kcl (sometimes 500kcl, other times more but never exceeding 900kcl) per day since September until today. The problem is,I know this was a mistake because everyone keeps telling me that as soon as I “start eating enough again, I will put all the weight back on”. But I don’t want it! I am 1.64m (female) and weight 57 kg and I love the way I look right now.. I managed to gain muscle as well so I don’t look “skinny fat”. But I now it’s time to start eating more because I exercise everyday and because of how little I’m eating, I cant stop losing weight (and I want to stop losing weight). I would like to know your opinion because I’m very confused – for what I understand, my body is on “starvation mode” so now if I start eating more again I’ll just put the weight back on straightaway, and especially water weight, is that true? What do you think I should do? Should I increase calories slowly over time or just start eating “all the calories” at once? Because Im very scared of getting fat again, now that Im finally happy about my body! I know it might sound futile or ridiculous but I’m so scarred of losing my flat stomach or seeing a sharp increase of weight…
    Thank you so much in advance and sorry for the long description but I’m desperate… Any help would me much appreciated…
    Thank you,

  • Ava Denise

    Hey Mike! I’m just getting started with your program so appreciate your help with this question while I’m figuring things out! I have been following your eating/exercise advice for about 2 weeks and seem to be seeing results already, but still need to lose about 20 lbs of fat before doing any bulking.

    I am getting ready to head on a 3 week ski camp and wondering how you’d figure that in to your overall plan. it will be about 5-6 hours of exercise a day for that 3 week period. Is it a bad idea to be in a large calorie deficit for that long? I was hoping to use these three weeks to get most of that excess weight off and hopefully have less to lose when I return to a normal life routine.

    Thanks in advance!

    • Thanks Ava!

      Yeah let’s not have you run too large of a deficit while skiing. You’ll want the energy for what you’re doing.

      30 to 40 hours of exercise per week is insane, of course, and to estimate caloric expenditure I’d probably look online for an approximation of calories burned per hour. I would assume something like 1,000?

      And that will tell you that you will need to eat a LOT just to avoid being in too large of a deficit. I would probably shoot for something around 4,000 calories per day with a LOT of carbs… Maybe even 5,000.

  • Alex Hernandez

    Hey Mike! I really appreciate the article. They are so detailed and down to the science so well that I can’t believe I actually found a website as good as yours. I wanted to ask you for advice because there is so many bs out there on the internet that I wanted to get a straight answer as possible. I’m 5’11 and 181 pounds. I’ve been working out with weights split 5 days for 2 weeks but now I decided to do bodyweight training instead because I don’t want any early injuries plus I feel it’s better for me. Here’s the thing. I do body weight training but I can’t do very much push ups like 3 sets of 2 push ups after trying negative chin ups . . I can’t do chin up but I am practicing negative chin ups . I do 3 sets of failure. And I do squats.I’m trying to increase it the reps little by little and try to get a full chin up. I workout 4 times a week. I’m starting with the very basics. I’m eating around 1400-1600 a day. I’m trying to get it as close as I can to the 1600 cals as much as possible a day.my bmi is 1938 but I don’t know how to considered the activity level since I can’t do very much regardless. It last around 20 minutes . I do feel sore though on my back mostly which I guess is why I can’t do those workout correctly. I probably need more back muscle to be able to do them.i feel full throughout the day eating around that much .

    Do you think that is good for what I’m starting with? I am a beginner by the way and I’m hoping my so called “noob gains”. Kick in to get rolling on the ball. Thank you in advance. Hoping to hear from you.

  • m.m.

    I used to be a RN so I have much of the same knowledge about the body as you do. I am so impressed by the information you’ve provided here because it’s all absolutely correct! If more ppl would follow this great strategy we would really attack our obesity problem in our country. So many websites are offering misinformation to ppl who are looking for the answers to weight/health issues but this one is spot on! I have followed these exact strategies to my own 30 lb loss last year after a thyroid problem left me less fit than I wanted to be. I used an even smaller deficit (15%) and shorter time periods before maintenance time (6 weeks/1week) and I still got my loss done in 7 months at age 37. Not bad! You have to go slow and easy to be successful long-term!

    • Thanks and completely agreed!

      Awesome job on the weight you lost my friend. 🙂

      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.

  • Shelley Brackenbury

    Fantastic article! Many thanks

    • Thanks! My pleasure. 🙂

      • Shelley Brackenbury

        Cheeky question but Michael have you ever come across a bulging vein in the forehead, I have one pop up today. Someone told me I may have overtrained? I’m 50. 🙈😁

        • Haha I’ve only heard of things like that from powerlifters.

  • Elias

    Hey Mike,

    So I’m coming off a bulk and been cutting for a week now. However, I weighted 190lbs. and after a week I’m 184lbs. Should I be worried? I’m eating 2,000 with a fat 20%, protein 43%, and carbs 37%, with a four day split and two HIIT cycling routines of 25 minutes.

    • What I’ve seen in myself and others is that you can have pretty big weight swings due to water weight (and food weight). Whenever you start a diet you lose a lot of weight quickly at the beginning because less food means less water retained (even muscles deflate a bit, etc).

      So I would say don’t focus on a big drop from week 0 to week 1. It should taper off now. Weigh yourself every morning after using the bathroom and look at your rolling average week to week.

    • Hey Elisas! Yep, you can have some rapid weight loss the first few weeks due to water and glycogen. After the first couple weeks, the goal is to lose 1-2 pounds a week so adjust intake accordingly.

      Hope this helps! Talk soon!

  • Priscilla Addison

    Hi Mike, thank you for being this detailed at your site… came here to read one article on strength training and ended up reading other articles for about 2 hours straight! Such insightful and interesting reads that I didn’t even realize the time until now… My question is I am 5ft and 135lbs now so I am hoping to shed off at least 20lbs after which I plan to maintain. I initially didn’t do any changes to my diet but only started cardio workouts and wasn’t seeing much results so I resorted yesterday to cut my calorie intake but my plan was to listen to my body and only eat when I feel hungry. The problem with this plan is I can go the WHOLE day without feeling hungry!Granted, it is only the start so maybe my body is adjusting; eg. today even after I run for about 30 minutes this evening as I am writing this question about 4 hours after, I still don’t feel hungry… I have literally only had one banana and some nuts today but I still do not feel hungry. I don’t plan to starve myself but listen to my body but I am worried if this continues I will push my body to the slow metabolic state… but eating without feeling hungry is what got me to this weight in the first place. Is this weird? Have you seen it happen before? What do you suggest I do please? Thanks.

    • YW! Hope you enjoyed them all. 🙂

      Cool on your goal to lose 20 LBS. Let’s make it happen!

      Yep, some people are just like that. Not sure why that is.

      Instead of eating when you’re hungry, I recommend you calculate your cals/macros for cutting and stick to a meal plan. You can set it up here:


      That way, you know exactly what to eat to reach your goals.


      My pleasure!

  • Rollo76

    Hi Mike, Im 6’5 205lbs.. around 14% body fat. lift weights 4x a week, was just finishing up a stronglifts 5×5 program. I have lower belly fat (4 pack)and lower back fat i cant get rid of. I also have not done cardio at all for past 3 months. What kind of routine should i get into? HIIT? or should i be eating calorie deficit? my eating was 2000-2500 during Stronglift program.
    Thanks for a great site and advice/

  • Sam

    Hi Mike!
    I started lifting heavy 2 weeks ago. I do cardio maybe 2x a week and I’m on a 1200 calorie diet, which feels way too low…and I sometimes end up eating more like 1500-1700 on those days where hungers intense. I’m a 5’8 153, 25 yo female. Trying to get down to 135ish depending on what looks good. In 2 weeks I lost 2 pounds, but that was pretty initial. Should I just try to stick to the 1200 cal?

  • Ashley Johnson

    Hi, Mike!
    I’m 20 years old, 5’6, and weighing in at 162.8 pounds. I exercise 2-4 times per week. For the past two weeks I’ve been consuming 1630 calories a day, to lose 1 pound per week, to reach my goal of 154 pounds. I find I am pretty tired, even on days when I don’t work out, and I’ve over eaten three times during these two weeks. Am I at a calorie goal that’s too low? If not, how can I gradually ease into cutting to reach my goal?

  • Joey

    Heya Mike!
    My plan is to lose weight in three 10-week sessions – 8 weeks of caloric deficit and 2 weeks of maintenance for each session. I’ve been losing about 2 pounds a week pretty steadily, and now I’m on my 7th week of caloric deficit for my first 10-week session. I’ve read your ‘Reverse Dieting’ article too, and I was wondering if this would apply to the 2 maintenance weeks I’m going to have soon. Would I need to slowly work back up to maintenance calories during these weeks, or is it safe to go straight back up to 100% TDEE levels?

    • Joey

      To give some more details, I’m 5’10, 165 pounds and I’ve been eating an average of 1800 calories per day (roughly 80% of TDEE). My maintenance is 2250 calories; would it be safe for me to go straight back up to eating 2250 calories per day for those two maintenance weeks at the end of my 10-week cycle?

  • i know the benifits of HIIT but if you can’t HIIT you should still do some form of cardio… cause it’s better than doing nothing. that’s the only thing i disagree with when it comes to these articles. and it’s funny how many sites say “don’t do cardio” then say “do HIIT” when in fact HIIT is a form of cardio… lot of people are hearing that they shouldn’t do cardio and skipping over the part about HIIT…

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