Updated: May 18, 2022
Hi I’m Brooks. If you’re new here I spent most of my early twenties attempting to find the “best” and quickest way to lose weight. I tried just about every fad diet out there, exercised 6 days a week, and was in a constant state of being way too restrictive Monday-Thursday and then canceling it all out Friday-Sunday.
About 4 years ago I finally found a diet that worked. You know what it was? Consistency and finding something I could actually sustain long term. In this article I’ve outlined my step by step guide for weight loss that sticks.
Step One: A sustainable calorie deficit
Bet you thought I was going to hop right into the best workouts for fat loss right? Well no...because workouts are great but the NUMBER 1 thing needed for weight loss that sticks is to be in a calorie deficit. You need to be consuming less calories than you’re burning. It’s truly that simple.
So how do you determine what a calorie deficit looks like for you? Easy. Think about your “goal” weight. Don’t overthink this. It can change over time. This is just a weight that, right now, you think you’d feel your best and most comfortable at.
Got your goal weight? Awesome, now multiply that by 12. This is your daily calorie target to remain in a deficit.
For example...say your goal weight is 140. You’re going to do:
(140*12) = 1,680 daily calorie target.
The goal is to hit that daily calorie target as consistently as you can. Shoot for 80-90% consistency. That means in a 30 day month you should hit 1,680 calories/day 24-27 days.
Calorie cycling vs. same cals every day
What if you’re someone who prefers to eat more on the weekends though? Or you have a weekly pizza night that you still want to fit in? We can make that work! Let’s look at calorie cycling.
What is calorie cycling? Calorie cycling is using high calorie days and low calorie days to come out to an average daily calories that falls right within your calorie target. You should shoot for 3 high calorie days and 4 low calorie days a week.
For instance, sticking with that example of a 1,680 daily calorie goal, 4 days a week on your low calorie days you would shoot for 1,500 total calories. 3 days a week on your high calorie days you would consume 1,900 total calories. This averages out to 1,671 or about 1,680 calories/day.
A sample week may look like this:
Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday Saturday Sunday
1500 1500 1500 1900 1900 1900 1500
This method can work really well if you like to go out to eat with friends on the weekend, have a few drinks one night or just need some flexibility in your calorie counting. I recommend planning which days will be your high calorie days in advance and which will be your low calorie days. You don’t want it to be Wednesday and you’ve already used up all your high calorie days and you still have a work HH and a friend’s bday coming up over the weekend.
Alright you’ve got your total calories down, nice! This is not an article about macro counting so we’re not getting deeper into how to calculate individual macronutrients for your calorie target. However, we'll touch on protein since it's very important for fat loss a few reasons:
It helps you stay full and satiated for a long time (necessary when you’re in a deficit!)
Getting protein in is key to still being able to build muscle while in a deficit
How to know how much protein to be eating? Again take your GOAL bodyweight (that same one you used to set your overall calorie target) and multiply it by (0.7-1). So for example 140lbs(.70) OR 140(1) = 98-140g of protein per day to shoot for.
Again this is key to still be building muscle while in a deficit AND to keep you full and satiated. Eating enough protein can make the deficit seem more manageable and help the weight loss stick.
Another way to make your deficit feel a little bit easier? Eat high volume foods. What are high volume foods? Put simply, volume foods are foods you can eat in high quantities for a low amount of calories, thus feeling more full without having to consume more calories. They’re also typically high in fiber and water which contributes to feeling fuller for longer.
Some solid high volume foods to add to your rotation to find weight loss that sticks? Popcorn, watermelon, spinach, mixed greens, peppers, oatmeal, mushrooms, cauliflower and broccoli. This is by no means an exhaustive list but it’s a good starting point.
Step Two: Strength training
The next key to weight loss that sticks? Strength training! Lets outline how to build a strength training program. To keep it simple we’ll start with a 4 day a week training program.
We’re going to follow the following split: Lower body, Upper body, REST, Lower body, Upper body
Now it’s time for exercise selection. Each workout should consist of 6-8 exercises. The first 1-2 exercises of your workout should be your “core” lifts. These will be compound lifts that utilize multiple muscle groups. Think squat, deadlift, chest press, push up, pull ups, row, etc. The rest of your workout should be made up of a mix of compound exercises & accessory work. Think glute bridges, bicep curls, tricep dips, good mornings, glute kickbacks, core work, etc.
Once you have your workouts designed you’re ready to hit the gym. DO NOT BE AFRAID of the weights!! Weights will not make you bulky. They will however, help with you achieve weight loss that sticks, change your body composition to get that toned look, help improve posture, bone density, and much more.
Still feeling a little lost or like this program isn’t personalized to YOU? I’d love to help, sign up to work with me here and I’ll develop a customized program just for you.
Do you need cardio for weight loss that sticks?
Short answer: no. As we discussed the #1 factor for fat loss is being in a calorie deficit. As long as you’re eating in a calorie deficit you’ll lose fat. Is cardio useless then?
Absolutely not. Cardio has a ton of benefits for cardiovascular health, can improve working output, and CAN help get you into a deficit a little easier (especially if you have a sedentary job).
Can extra cardio make up for a poor diet? Absolutely not. Calories burned from exercise will be minimal compared to calories you’re taking in from your diet. The easiest (and best way) to ensure you’re in a deficit is to control it with your nutrition. Find a few types of cardio you enjoy and mix them into your routine for the added benefits, NOT to get you into a deficit or make up for your diet.
Reminder: cardio does not have to be running. It could be walking, the elliptical, riding your bike, hiking, etc.
Step 3: The non-negotiables for weight loss that sticks
Things will not always go to plan on this journey. It’s OK. You need to be prepared for when an unplanned hurdle gets thrown your way. Overslept and couldn’t get your workout in? No worries, can you walk for 20 minutes later in the day?
You’re starving and have no motivation to cook the dinner you planned? It's fine. What easy options do you have in your freezer or cabinet you can whip up that still fits within your calorie target?
Things will not go to plan. What matters more than being perfect is how you handle the unexpected setbacks.
Consistency is more important to fat loss than any perfect program, nutrition plan, or anything else. It’s great if you have the “perfect plan” but it’s not great if you’re only executing on that perfect plan a few days a week. You need to be extremely consistent to get this to work. If you mess up, get right back to it at the next meal. You don’t have to wait for the next day, Monday, month, etc. You can get right back on the consistency train. You got this.
This. will. take. time. Probably longer than you think. Sorry but it’s the truth. Be in this for the long haul. 30 days from now you might be getting frustrated and thinking you should be further along at this point. If you’re being consistent with your workouts & nutrition I promise the changes will come. Slow progress is more sustainable than quick progress. Quick fixes and speeding up the process are tempting but they won’t get you to where you want to be long term. Wait it out. Learn now.
There you have it. The step by step guide to weight loss that sticks. Have more questions for me? Shoot me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org. I’ll respond within 48 hours and I’m always happy to help.