(part of the “do this” directives)
1. Educate yourself.
Understand how to read nutrition labels.
Learn from experts who are credible (evidence-based + real-life experience), people-centric, and are genuine in their actions over time.
Hire a coach to hold you accountable and mentor you.
2. Focus on the process and behavior change, not the outcome.
An outcome goal = lose 20 lbs.
A process goal = eat 500 calories at your next meal; eat 150g of protein per day; eat at least one serving of fruit or veggie at each meal.
Losing fat and keeping it off comes from sustainable behavior change. Don’t make too many changes too quickly.
Add, don’t subtract. Add one serving of vegetables at each meal; add an extra liter of water per day; add 30 minutes of walking per day. Psychologically, this works better than saying you “can’t” have sweets, alcohol, or fried foods.
Every meal/workout is another opportunity to make the right choice towards your goals.
3. Create a calorie deficit.
When in a hypocaloric state, consume 0.8-1.2g of protein per pound of bodyweight, erring towards the higher end for maximum muscle retention and hunger satiation while dieting.
Carbohydrates are extremely powerful tools to prevent muscle loss and enhance anabolism via insulin production and muscle glycogen usage during exercise. When in a hypocaloric state, consume a minimum of 1.0g of carbs per pound of bodyweight on training days and 0.3g/lb on rest days.
Fats are essential for vitamin absorption, hormone regulation, and overall health. When in a hypocaloric state, consume a minimum of 0.3g per pound of bodyweight.
Focus on nutrient-dense, whole foods 80% of the time. To ensure this, consume at least 25g of fiber from food per day. The other 20% can come from less nutritious but highly enjoyable foods.
4. Use the gym to grow muscle, use your nutrition to lose fat.
Don’t workout to lose fat, as it is a less efficient use of your time (e.g., burning 300 calories with an hour on the treadmill vs. not eating that 300 calorie donut in 10 seconds).
Strength train at least 2-3 times per week to maintain and build muscle mass.
Focus on multi-joint lifts and their variations (bench, squat, deadlift; DB bench, goblet squat, Romanian Deadlift (RDL)).
Get stronger than you were last week/month/year.
5. Add cardio only when necessary.
Use cardio as a mood enhancer, to burn more calories, and/or to improve overall health.
Cardio is not required for fat loss, so slowly add it in as your progress starts to plateau and your calories are already too low to eat any fewer.
High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT), Moderate Intensity Steady State (MISS), or Low Intensity Steady State (LISS) all work. Pick which one you can recover from and adhere to the longest.
A good start would be 30 minutes of brisk walking on your rest days.
6. Track your progress.
Don’t “guess” and “feel” your way towards fat loss. Use objective data as feedback.
Research has shown weighing yourself more frequently to be associated with greater sustained weight loss. Weigh yourself at least 4 times a week (including one weekend day)—after you wake up and use the restroom, but before you eat—and take the average of those weights to find your “actual weight.”
Focus on weekly trends of averages, not day-to-day fluctuations. Aim for a weekly weight loss of 0.5-1.0% of your bodyweight (lbs). E.g., 180 lb x 0.5% = 0.9 lb average loss per week.
Use your food log, weekly weight averages, waist measurements (2 fingers above your naval, at your navel, and 2 fingers below), and pictures every 4 weeks to determine if you’re heading in the right direction.
Track your weight, sets, and reps in the gym. Try to beat what you did last week by improving at least one of those indicators (more weight, more sets, or more reps).
Compare yourself to who you were yesterday, not to where someone else is today.
7. Don’t be an asshole (to yourself or others).
Aim for 7-9 hours of sleep.
Drink less alcohol and do less drugs.
Related: How to gain muscle.