Trying to lose weight can be frustrating.
Especially when that douche from your work says, “Just eat less and move more!”
No s**t, Sherlock. Never thought of that.
If you are training hard and watching what you eat, but still not seeing those scales move, hearing generic and vague weight loss advice can make you want to bang your head against a brick wall. I’ve been there myself. So today I am going to give you 10 weight loss tips that work.
Stuff you can actually use.
These are all tips that my male & female clients have applied over the years.
So whether you’ve hit a sticking point, or are just trying to shift those last few stubborn pounds, or maybe you’re just starting out right now, there will be something in here to get you moving in the right direction again.
Apply 2-3 of these tips and you’ll see results.
1. Calories Are King
Everywhere you turn, there’s talk of superfoods, macros and other nonsense.
People have a tendency to over-complicate things, but when it comes to losing weight there is one simple rule which over-rides them all – calories are king.
There’s zero point in moving on to step 2 before you’ve taken care of step 1 because if you are eating too many calories (regardless of whether they come from ‘healthy’ or ‘unhealthy’ foods) you will not lose weight. (1)
So the first step on any diet is to set a realistic calorie goal that you can a) hit without gaining weight, and b) hit without wanting to stab all of your friends in the face.
There are two ways we can do this.
The generic way is to take your target body weight in lbs and multiply that figure by 11. The better way is to use a free app like MyFitnessPal to track your current calorie intake, then reduce it slightly.
2. Optimize Your Calories
“But Russ…. Shouldn’t we be eating a certain number of grams of carbohydrates and fat to lose weight?”
Simply reducing your total calories will be enough to get you started.
But once you have got the hang of staying within a calorie deficit, it’s true that you can take results a notch higher by getting a little more in-depth. This is where we optimize where the bulk of your calories are coming from.
There are three macronutrients:
Protein helps you build and retain lean muscle, so it should be of utmost importance if you’re trying to look leaner and more toned. Fat regulates the body’s hormones, and carbohydrates are the body’s preferred energy source.
There’s lots of pseudo-science out there from quacks looking to sell you on the latest fad diet (i.e. don’t eat fat, don’t eat gluten, don’t eat sugary carbs, don’t eat carbs, don’t eat anything starting with the letter C), but the simple truth of the matter here is that the best diet is the one you can stick to.
Research shows that when total calories and total protein are controlled, there is no significant difference in weight loss results from going with low carbs/high fat, moderate carbs/moderate fat, or high carbs/low fat. (2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7)
It really just depends on the foods you like eating.
The current body of research suggests that around 1g protein per lb of you goal body weight (and maybe as high as 1.5g if you really want to push it) is sufficient to provide maximum results.
The rest of your calories should come from a healthy split of carbohydrates and fat that you can actually stick to for long enough to see results.
3. Avoid Fad Diets At All Cost
On your journey, you’ll undoubtedly come across silly diets that promise you can get ripped by eating nothing but rhinoceros foreskin.
(Okay, maybe not that, but you get the picture.)
Fad diets are big business in the fitness world, and it’s hard to resist the lure of their easy promises.
I’ve known friends to get stuck in this cycle of silly diets for years, looking for the next big thing, and never losing the little bit of weight they set out to lose in the first place.
So let me make this really clear:
All fad diets (cabbage soup diet, the mono diet, juicing diets, detox diets, weight loss shake diets, and any others) work by getting you into a calorie deficit as shown in step 1.
But they often drop calories so low that you feel like you’ve been hit by a bus, causing the diet to become unsustainable and lead to binge eating, which sees you pile any weight lost straight back on and end up in a worse place than when you started.
Another common trend among fad diets is the need to vilify certain foods and place the dieter on a rigid list of so-called ‘good foods’, which can lead to deficiencies due to missing out on crucial vitamins and minerals, as well as creating a very unhealthy relationship with food.
Finally, remember my words above about the best diet being the one you can stick to. You can’t realistically expect to follow a fad diet for the rest of your life, therefore it’s not a good route to go down.
The next time your friend at work tells you to get on the latest celebrity crash diet, tell them to f**k that s**t.
4. Do HIIT 3x Per Week
If you’re trying to lose weight then you’ve probably already started exercising.
In which case, you’ll know that cardio is about as much fun as being stuck in a lift with a Herbalife rep.
The good news is you should be taking the stairs (because that’s cardio) and also that high intensity interval training (HIIT) will help you burn more calories in less time, as well as providing you with a more challenging and fun training session.
Heck, a study published in Medicine & Science In Sports & Exercise back in 2011 showed that subjects performing HIIT were able to burn twice as much fat as those performing regular cardio, despite the fact that the HIIT group trained for less than half the time! (9)
Unlocking these results for yourself is simply about manipulating your heart rate, with short bursts of high intensity training output interspersed with short recovery periods to catch your breath.
But one of the most important things to remember is that more does not necessarily mean better.
Start by incorporating no more than 3 HIIT workouts per week into your routine, and keep them short for maximum effectiveness. This allows plenty of time for a full recovery between each workout, prevents the body from adapting to your new routine as quickly as it would like to, and leaves room for you to also lift weights without sacrificing time or results.
Try this on a stationary bike, you’ll be hanging off by the end:
- Set the timer for 15 minutes.
- Use the first 5 as a warm-up.
- At the 5 minute mark, perform a 30 second sprint on a high level of resistance.
- Recover for 30 seconds before performing another sprint.
- Keep following this 30/30 approach until your 15 minute timer expires.
5. Do Your Big Lifts
Gone are the days when weight training was thought to make us big and bulky.
Thankfully, we live in an era where most women are aware of the benefits of weight training, and know they needn’t worry about turning into a female version of The Hulk.
But most people still under-estimate the fat burning benefits of weight training.
Particularly compound exercises, like barbell squats, deadlifts, and barbell cleans.
These big lifts fire up your heart rate in much the same way as HIIT, causing you to burn more calories while you train, and they utilize several different muscle groups at once to help you get more done in the gym in less time.
6. Train With Intensity
Lifting weights and performing HIIT is great.
But two people doing the exact same training program can achieve completely different results depending upon the level of intensity they apply to their workouts.
Most guys slouch over on their bench between sets, like an Oompa-Loompa on a sugar comedown, scrolling their phone before half-a**ing the next set too.
Taking less rest between sets enables you to burn more fat and boost your fitness levels, and we can take things up a notch further by introducing active recovery protocols like cardioacceleration from time-to-time. (10, 11)
I want people to look at you as if you’re crazy.
That’s when you’re training for fat loss the right way.
7. Don’t Ban Any Foods
Whenever I tell my clients not to eat clean, they look at me with a confused expression on their face.
After all, #EatClean is all we see on social media these days.
But it’s complete bulls**t.
The phrase ‘clean eating’ has no meaning (clean is supposed to mean healthy, but what is deemed clean to a bodybuilder would be dirty to a vegetarian, and what is deemed clean to a vegetarian would be dirty to someone doing paleo, etc).
Besides, there is no such thing as ‘clean’ and ‘dirty’ foods. They do not exist!
This gets back to what I mentioned a little earlier regarding fad diets, and how they create an unhealthy relationship with food.
As soon as most people start placing foods onto a ‘good list’ and a ‘bad list’, they fall victim to one of the oldest myths in the fitness industry. It’s the myth that any one type of food can inherently make you gain weight.
Not donuts. Not pizza. Not chocolate. Not whey protein.
I’m not telling you to be a d**k. But the only thing that can make you gain weight is a calorie surplus, so providing you can stay within your total calorie intake (or, even better, within your total calorie intake and also within your daily macronutrient targets from step 2) you can eat any food along the way.
My clients use something I call The 80/20 Rule.
This means that 80% of their foods come from good, nutritious sources (plenty of lean meat, green vegetables, fish, basically the stuff we already know is great for us and we should be eating more of), and the remaining 20% coming from whatever treats they fancy along the way.
And the reason it works is because it teaches you that a diet is not the best way to lose weight. A lifestyle change is.
During a 2002 study published in Appetite, researchers found that following a rigid, so-called “clean eating” diet caused regular displays of eating disorder symptoms, mood swings, and excessive body confidence issues, whereas following a more flexible dieting plan did not. (12)
So enough with the ban hammer.
There is a difference between self-control and self-torture. Learn it.
8. Stop Having Cheat Days
Cheat days, or just weekends in general, are the scourge of weight loss success.
The majority of people at your local gym will be falling into this trap without realizing it – they’ll train hard and watch their diet pretty well all week, then ruin it with two days of over-eating, leaving themselves no further forward when they return to the gym on Monday morning.
And it’s very easily done.
If you maintain your weight at, say, 2000 calories and you decide to reduce that to 1500 to lose weight, you will have saved up a 2500 calorie deficit by Friday night. Well done, you.
But if you then smash a pizza, alcohol, and whatever chocolate is left in your house, you’ll have already wiped that deficit out. And chances are it’s still only Friday f**king night!
So despite the fact you’ve tried really hard to stay under your calorie target all week, you finish the week over.
This is normal human behavior, and you’re definitely not alone if you do this (I even talked about it in more depth in my article Last Supper Syndrome). But it is ruining your progress and you know it.
It’s another negative behaviour trait I associate with clean eating, as we begin to make a false association between the hard effort of the working week with our diet, and the relaxation and fun of the weekend with not dieting, Which inadvertently causes us to f**king hate our diet.
But the truth is, you could have eaten that Mars Bar on Wednesday afternoon if you’d really wanted it (as discussed in tip 7), you didn’t need to binge on all your kids’ chocolates and them tell them some bulls**t story about the Easter Bunny going rogue.
9. Ditch The Diet Whey
Maybe this is a controversial one.
Diet whey is one of the most popular whey protein supplements on the market because it is aimed at people who are trying to lose weight.
In this day and age where supplements are generally accepted as safe and effective, it’s one of the first things we pick up before starting a new weight loss diet.
Now, I’m not going to go all New Age on you and proclaim that “all doze supplements are bad for ya”. Because they’re not. Whey protein is perfectly safe. (13)
But you can do better than Diet Whey.
My reasons are three-fold:
- Diet Whey is expensive
- The fat burning matrix they include is ineffective
- They don’t do a great job of suppressing appetite
The reason Diet Whey is expensive is because it contains the word “diet” in it.
The reason it contains the word “diet” is because manufacturers often include a little formula of fat burning ingredients inside each scoop, so alongside whey protein you’ll also get a little caffeine, acetyl l-carnitine, and green tea extract among other ingredients.
The problem here is that the dosages of these so-called fat burning ingredients are so low you’d need to consume a heck of a lot of Diet Whey to see any results from them (so much you’d go over your total daily calories, which would then render them useless anyway!).
The final problem is that Diet Whey formulas often contain a bizarre amount of sugary carbohydrates, which have been included purely to make the product taste nice as it’s being aimed toward a mainstream audience, and the main form of protein used is whey. Sugary carbs and whey are fast-digesting, which means Diet Whey products aren’t going to fill you up very much.
If you’re trying to lose weight, you’d be better served opting for a protein blend which keep carbohydrates and fat really low, and combines whey with other forms of protein (like casein, egg, or soy) because they digest at different speeds, and therefore keep you feeling satisfied for longer. Try this one.
Or in cases where you really want something that’s going to fill you up (and therefore keep you under your calorie targets), shoot for casein.
10. Stop Giving A F**k What People Think
It’s inevitable that you’ll p**s some people off on your journey to building your best body.
If you are in this for the long haul (and I think you are, because you’re reading my website) you need to stop giving a f**k what other people think.
Don’t post about it on Facebook, though.
That’s a sure sign that you absolutely do give a f**k.
Bonus Tip! Drink More Water
Well done for making it all the way though. You get my bonus tip, which is to drink more water.
When we feel hungry, most of the time we are just thirsty.
Our body draws water from food, so staying on top of your daily water intake is a great way to once again keep your total calories in check. But there are multiple other benefits to be had here.
You’ll get a better pump in the gym when you lift weights, you’ll perform better in each set (because a muscle which has been dehydrated by only 2% can lack almost 20% contraction force!) and you’ll feel like you have a spring in your step.
Aim for 3-4 liters per day.
If you have enjoyed my article “10 Weight Loss Tips That F**king Work” drop a like at the end of the article, and jump onto my free email newsletter for future tips from me – straight out of my gym!
- Howell, S., et al. “Calories in, calories out” and macronutrient intake: the hope, hype, and science of calories. Am J Physiol Endocrinol Metab. 2017.
- Leibel, R.L., et al. Energy intake required to maintain body weight is not affected by wide variation in diet composition . Am J Clin Nutr. 1992.
- Golay, A., et al. Similar weight loss with low- or high-carbohydrate diets . Am J Clin Nutr. 1996.
- Golay, A., et al. Weight-loss with low or high carbohydrate diet . Int J Obes Relat Metab Disord. 1996.
- Luscombe-Marsh, N. D., et al. Carbohydrate-restricted diets high in either monounsaturated fat or protein are equally effective at promoting fat loss and improving blood lipids . Am J Clin Nutr. 2005.
- Raatz, S. K., et al. Reduced Glycemic Index and Glycemic Load Diets Do Not Increase the Effects of Energy Restriction on Weight Loss and Insulin Sensitivity in Obese Men and Women. J Nut. 2005.
- Johnston, C. S., et al. Ketogenic low-carbohydrate diets have no metabolic advantage over nonketogenic low-carbohydrate diets. Am J Clin Nutr. 2006.
- Bandegan, A., et al. Indicator Amino Acid-Derived Estimate of Dietary Protein Requirement for Male Bodybuilders on a Nontraining Day Is Several-Fold Greater than the Current Recommended Dietary Allowance. J Nutr. 2017.
- Lemon, P. W., et al. Run Sprint Interval Training Improves Aerobic Performance But Not Max Cardio Output. Med Sci Sports Exerc. 2011.
- Ratamess, N. A., et al. The effect of rest interval length on metabolic responses to the bench press exercise. Eur J Appl Physiol. 2007.
- Lopes, F. A. S., et al. The effect of active recovery on power performance during the bench press exercise. J Hum Kin. 2014.
- Stewart, T. M., et al. Rigid vs. flexible dieting: association with eating disorder symptoms in nonobese women. Appetite. 2002.
- Buckley, J. D., et al. Supplementation with a whey protein hydrolysate enhances recovery of muscle force-generating capacity following eccentric exercise. J Sci Med Sport. 2010.