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Google “how fast should I lose weight,” and you’ll get the same answer pretty much everywhere:
One pound per week.
And that’s not bad advice.
You’ve probably heard that a pound of fat contains 3,500 calories. To lose a pound of fat per week, then, you just need to eat 500 fewer calories per day than you burn (500 x 7 = 3,500).
Simple, easy to remember, and doable for most people.
There’s just one problem with this little weight-loss heuristic:
If you have 25, 50, or 100+ pounds to lose, losing one pound per week means you’ll be dieting for months if not years.
That’s a long row to hoe, especially if you’ve tried and failed to lose weight many times in the past.
Now for the good news:
If you’re very overweight (25+% body fat as a man or 35+% as a woman), you can probably lose a lot more than one pound of fat per week.
In fact, if you know what you’re doing with your diet and training, you may be able to safely lose two, three, or even four pounds of fat per week.
Of course, this strategy isn’t without downsides.
You’ll be more hungry, you’ll have to be more strict about your diet, and you’ll probably need to do some exercise, too.
The payoff, though, is that you can lose fat two or three times faster than most personal trainers, dietitians, and weight loss gurus recommend, without risking your health or losing large amounts of muscle.
So, if you want to learn how fast you can safely lose weight when you have a lot of weight to lose, you want to keep listening.
In this podcast, you’ll learn …
- What “safe” weight loss really means
- How fast you can safely lose weight
- Whether or not you should try to lose weight as fast as possible
- How to lose weight as fast as possible
- And more …
Let’s start by taking an honest look at what constitutes “safe” weight loss.
6:49 – How much body fat can I safely lose per week?
12:39 – What should be my target rate of weight loss and why?
Mentioned on the show:
What did you think of this episode? Have anything else to share? Let me know in the comments below!
Hello, and welcome to muscle for life. I’m Mike Matthews. Thank you for joining me today to learn about fat loss. And in this episode, I am going to answer a question. I get fairly often from people who have a lot of weight to lose, and that is how fast can they lose weight safely and healthily, or how fast should they be trying to lose weight?
And this is not the same for people who have a lot of fat to lose as it is for people who have a lot less fat to lose. If you Google around, you’ll find a lot of mentions for example, of one pound per week. That should be the. Target that more or less, everyone should shoot for dropping body weight about a pound per week, which is going to mostly come from body fat after your first week or two or three.
And that works well for people who are in the middle. It works well for people who are not particularly overweight or particularly lean looking to get really lean. So for example, if you are a guy. Let’s say 15 to 20% body fat or a woman from let’s say 25 to 30% body fat, then sure. A pound a week works fairly well for the first while, until you get leaner.
At which point you want your rate of weight, loss and fat loss to slow, because if you continue being aggressive, too aggressive, then you also will start to lose muscle. And of course, Is what we want to avoid more than anything else. As far as our body composition is concerned when we are cutting, because while it is easier to gain muscle back, that we have lost thanks to muscle memory, it takes work and it takes time.
Ideally, when we cut, we lose basically all fat water and glycogen, which is a form of carbohydrates destroyed in the liver and in the muscles and as little muscle. Actual lean muscle tissue as possible. Now keep in mind when you do lose water and glycogen out of your muscles, that would register as lean mass loss.
Even if you were to get DEXA scan, for example, it would look like you are losing quite a bit of lean mass, but that is not the case. It’s just that the water and the glycogen stored in the muscle tissue is registering. Lean mass. It is not distinguishing between lean muscle tissue and the fluid components that I’m talking about.
And so what we want though, is to preserve as much lean muscle tissue as possible. And of course the. Two major factors that determine how well or poorly we do in this regard are the size of our calorie deficit. How much are we restricting our calories and our protein intake? How much protein are we eating every day?
I would say a third factor that is definitely worth highlighting is how much cardio are we? Because cardio certainly helps you lose fat faster, but if you do too much, it will start to accelerate muscle loss. And so in this episode, I am going to share with you very straightforward weight loss targets that.
Are based on your current body composition. And that of course will change as your body composition changes. So for example, if you are someone with, let’s say 30, 40, or 50 pounds of fat to lose in the beginning, you are going to be able to lose quite a bit of weight every week safely healthly and probably even enjoyably.
You probably won’t experience much in the way of side effects for at least the first month or two. And even then. When side effects do become noticeable, they will be mild. And of course you can manage them. You don’t ever have to suffer regardless of how lean you want to get. That’s not entirely true if you’re a guy and you wanna get to 4% body fat, or if you are a woman and you want to get to 10% body fat, you’re gonna have to suffer, but that’s like bodybuilder stage chances.
You don’t ever want to be that lean. You just want to be fit. You wanna look athletic. You want to be, if you’re a guy you wanna be in the range of maybe 10 to 12% body fat, if you’re a woman maybe around 20% give or take a percent or two, and anybody can do those things and they can get there without too much fuss.
It is not too much of a hassle. There are certain aspects of course, of dieting and even maintaining a low amount of body fat that are a little bit obnoxious here and there. You don’t have to stretch too far. You don’t have to develop an eating disorder or an exercise disorder or a body image disorder.
You can get to that type of physique and stay there for as long as you’d while also maintaining your. Also, if you like what I am doing here on the podcast and elsewhere, definitely check out my sports, nutrition company Legion, which thanks to the support of many people like you is the leading brand of all natural sports supplements in the world.
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But there is good evidence to suggest that having many servings of artificial sweeteners in particular every day for long periods of time may not be the best for your. So while you don’t need pills, powders, and potions to get into great shape. And frankly, most of them are virtually useless. There are natural ingredients that can help you lose fat build muscle and get healthy faster, and you will find the best of them in legions.
Products to check out everything we have to offer, including protein powders and protein bars. Pre-workout post workout, supplements, fat burners, multivitamins, joint support, and more head over to www.buylegion.combilegion.com. And just to show how much I appreciate my podcast, peeps, use the coupon code MFL at checkout, and you will save 20%.
On your entire first order. So again, if you appreciate my work and if you wanna see more of it, and if you also want all natural evidence based supplements that work, please do consider supporting Legion. So I can keep doing what I love, like producing more podcasts like this. Okay. So let’s start this discussion with some good news, if you are fairly overweight.
So let’s say you are at 25% body fat or above. If you’re a man or 35% or above as a woman. And if you know what you’re doing in the kitchen, in the gym, You can safely lose two, three or even four pounds per week. And most of that is going to be from body fat, if not all of it, once you really get into the swing of things.
And if that is raising red flags in your mind, because you’ve heard that rate of weight loss constitutes starvation dieting, and that is going to wreck your metabolism and scramble. Hormones and Jack up your hunger that can happen if you go about it incorrectly, but it does not have to happen.
You can lose several pounds per week without any negative side effects to speak of. You are gonna feel like you are not eating as much food as you would like to. Maybe you are going to be hungry now. And then, and that’s totally normal. Hunger is no reason to panic. It’s just a natural reaction to. Not eating quite enough food.
Of course, when we restrict our calories, we are mildly starving our body. That actually is what we’re doing. And our body doesn’t understand what our plans are. Our body doesn’t know that we’re just going to limit calorie intake until we can see our abs. And then we will start eating more. All the body knows is if this situation continue.
We’re dead. That’s it. If we lose too much weight, eventually our heart will stop and the show is over. And so our body has counter measures that it can deploy to decrease energy output and encourage more energy input to encourage more eating. And as we get leaner, We feel the effects of these defensive measures more and more when body fat levels are very high, the body knows it has large energy reserves.
The body knows it can survive for a long time case in point is a case study. I like to talk about, or at least I like to mention now. And then in the context of large amounts of weight loss, and in this case, there was a man. Who weighed about 400 pounds and he worked with a doctor. So this was a medically supervised experiment.
I do not recommend this to anyone who has this much weight to lose, or at least I don’t recommend you just doing it at home by yourself. So what this guy did though, is under medical supervision. He did not eat food for a year, one year, not a single meal. He drank water and they gave him vital nutrients to keep him alive, but no food.
And in a year he lost. Of his body weight. He lost 200 pounds in a year and every meaningful biomarker related to health improved. So he cut his body weight in half and he got way healthier by eating nothing for an entire year. Now, chances are, you don’t have anywhere near that amount of. Fat to lose or to live on, but it just goes to show how energy dense body fat is.
And when you have a lot of it, how much wiggle room you have in terms of a calorie deficit. So he went with the largest possible calorie deficit, which is no food whatsoever. Light activity. He wasn’t doing intense workouts, but he was moving around. He wasn’t just sitting in a bed all day. And so my point was saying all that is, unless you are lean wanting to get really lean.
So unless you’re a guy around, let’s say 10% body fat who wants to get to seven or 6%. And in the case of women, it would be probably around 20% wanting to get down to maybe 17% or so your cutting phases should never get to grueling. They should never really drag you down again. You are going to experience some hunger.
You are going to experience cravings now, and then, and you probably are going to feel like you would just like to eat a bit more food, especially if you have been at it for, let’s say anywhere over two months. That’s really, when I start to feel it, if I’ve been in a deficit for about two months, I don’t get much in the way of hunger or cravings.
I just feel like I’ve been undereating for a while. I feel my body asking. Politely, if it could just have some more food, please come on. Just take a few more bites of this or that. And this is where diet breaks can be very helpful by the way, where you just raise your calories up to your current maintenance.
So wherever you’re at in your cut, you check out your body composition and you estimate your total daily energy expenditure and you raise your calories to that. I like to do it with carbs. I just raise my carbs and you eat that larger amount of food. About five, maybe seven days, I do five days. And then you get back into your cut and that five day reset.
So to speak, it improves various physiological mechanisms and factors as well as psychological. It’s just nice to have a break. It just feels good to eat a bit more food. And again, there is some physical stuff in play, as well as some psychological stuff. And if you wanna learn more about that, just head over to Legion athletics.com and search for diet break.
There certainly is an article on this. I feel like I’ve probably recorded a podcast on it, but I’m not entirely sure if I have, it will pop up on the website though. And so if you have a fair amount of weight and fat to lose, take heart, because again, it may take a bit longer than you would like. But for the most part, it should be a fairly enjoyable experience.
It should be fairly straightforward. It shouldn’t be something that you look back on with horror. All right. So now let’s talk about rate of weight loss rate of fat loss, what you should be targeting for and why now many people talk about safe versus unsafe weight loss. And I will use these terms sometimes just because they are familiar.
To people and they meet people where they are at. But when I’m talking about the quote unquote safety of weight loss, I like to educate people a bit more because it’s not accurate to say that any rate of weight loss is quote unquote unsafe. That’s the wrong term because it implies there’s some great danger to losing weight too quickly.
And. There’s not, if you are eating too few calories and you are eating a lot of junk food, then you definitely can develop nutritional deficiencies, which if you allow them to remain for long periods of time can definitely hurt your health. And of course, that’s easy to avoid though, by not starving yourself and making sure that you were eating plenty of nutritious foods when you’re cutting.
And you can also mess up your body composition by failing to eat enough protein or by also. Eating too few calories, even if you are eating enough protein and doing too much cardio, for example. And if you do that, you are going to have a rough time when you’re cutting, you are not gonna feel good and you are certainly going to lose muscle.
And that’s not good, especially if you continue to do this over and over as you get older, and then you further accelerate the muscle loss that. Occurs with aging, which can become a big problem as we get older, because it increases our chances of physical limitations and accidents and disabilities. And it also just worsens our health and our longevity.
The more muscle we have as we get into our golden years, the. More resilient. Our body is going to be the less likely we are to die from all causes. And again, these associations are strong in the literature. We want to be strong and functional as we age. And so back to this safe versus unsafe weight loss point, I think that’s the wrong frame of reference.
It’s a little bit too black and white and the connotations are a little bit too extreme. I think we can soften it a little bit and talk about optimal versus non-optimal or smart versus stupid, maybe because there are ways of going about losing weight that produce the best possible results. Those would be the optimal and the smart ones.
And then there are ways that produce the worst possible. Results, which are still results. You still will lose fat, but they are the worst possible results and they are stupid. So what does that optimal, smart way look like? Let’s start with a simple statement of what we are trying to achieve. What is our goal?
When we enter a cutting phase, our goal is to lose fat. As quickly as possible without losing muscle and without having to suffer. Now, some people recommend a different approach. Some people say that you should slow cut instead of using an aggressive, but not reckless calorie deficit. What I would recommend you should probably cut that in half and use a.
A much smaller deficit that will make it take longer to reach your body composition goal, but will make it a lot easier because it is a smaller calorie deficit. That’s the pitch, at least. And in my experience, that is not how it works. And I wish it did. I wish that using a 250. Calorie deficits it’ll say is a daily calorie deficit made dieting twice as easy as a 500 calorie deficit.
So with the 500 daily deficit, that’s the standard target for losing about a pound of fat loss per week, because a pound of fat contains about 3,500 calories. And if you do use a 250 calorie deficit, if you’re like most people you’ll find that it feels more or less the same, maybe it feels a little.
Nicer a little bit easier than the 500 calorie deficit, but it’s certainly not going to feel 50% easier. And so then what happens is you have now set yourself up for a much more difficult cutting phase because instead of reaching your goal in, let’s say two or three months with the larger deficit you have.
Cut the rate of fat loss in half. So now you’ve doubled the duration of the cut to let’s say four to six months, but you have not made it significantly easier to stick to your diet. It is not going to make as much of a difference in your workouts, as you might think. And it is not going to make as big of a psychological or an emotional difference as you would hope.
And so all you have really accomplished here is you’ve made. This cutting phase a lot harder than it needs to be. You have made it less likely that you are going to reach the finish line and the exception to that. However, the situation or the scenario where I would recommend slow cutting, and I agree with slow cutting.
Is when you have someone who is very muscular, who has a lot more muscle than average and who is already fairly lean and who needs to cut and get very lean. So I’m talking about bodybuilders and physique competitors. Mostly I’m talking about guys who start a cutting phase around, let’s say 15% body fat at most.
And in the case of women, let’s say 25% and they need to end if we’re talking about the. 4% or 5% and women, probably 13, 14%, maybe even a little bit leaner. And that is a completely different game. And that is something that you need to stretch out over a long period of time, if you are going to do it naturally.
And if you are going to minimize muscle loss and preserve workout performance, as much as you can and minimize the. You are going to feel pain, but slow cutting will cap the intensity. If you try to do that quickly, you might reach a nine or a 10 out of 10 in terms of just overall unpleasantness. But if you do it.
Using a slow cutting approach. You might reach only a seven or an eight, which is still bad, but you are also going to preserve a lot more muscle, which of course is the whole point. If you are a bodybuilder or physique competitor, it’s not just to step on the stage with strided glutes. In the case of bodybuilders it’s to step on the stage with muscular big STR glut.
So for most of us, when we cut, we just wanna lose fat as quickly as we can, without having to pay a big price for it right now. What does that look like in very specific practical terms? Let’s start with an interesting study that was conducted by scientists at the university of Los Palm drun, Canary, where scientists had 15 overweight men aged 18 to 55, follow a backbreaking.
Diet and workout program for four days. And you’re about to understand why it was only four days. So in this experiment, the participants were put on a diet that provided just 10% of their total daily energy expenditure and they had to work out. And this program involved walking eight hours per day.
Which is a lot of walking. If you remember back in the day, when we used to travel and we used to go to cities and walk around a lot, I’m a pretty fit person. And four to five hours per day of walking was noticeable. I would feel it when I was going to bed at night. So eight hours a day of walking and then 45 minutes of a hand cranking machine.
What that did, is it put these people in a 5,000 calorie deficit, daily deficit, 5,000 calories. And after four days they lost on average, about 4.4 pounds of pure body fat. Now, of course they lost some muscle to two pounds. Which again, I will note that is not going to be all lean muscle tissue, water, and glycogen lost from muscles is going to register as a loss of lean mass, but they certainly lost some lean tissue as well.
And they probably wouldn’t have, if there would’ve been some resistance training and if protein intake would’ve been higher, but based on. Study, you could hypothesize that an upper limit for fat loss. We’re talking about a physiological ceiling is about a pound per day. In other words, that no matter what we do, we cannot physically burn more than a pound of fat.
Per day. And that’s of course, interesting to know, but not very practical because nobody is going to be able to do what those people did. Maybe you don’t need a 5,000 calorie deficit to accomplish that every day, but you’re gonna need upward of a 4,000 calorie deficit. And I would not recommend that to anyone under any circumstances really.
So what can we do? There’s another study that lends insight to this, and it was conducted by a man named Seymour Alpert. And he is a professor at the university of New Mexico. And based on his analysis of data from previous studies that involved people losing weight, in a calorie deficit.
Where body composition was also measured. That’s key Alpert found what he believes is the maximum threshold of calories that the body can extract from body fat per day. And what he found is 30 calories per pound. Of body fat per day seems to be the limit. And that is a very useful formula because we can use it to find out how much fat we can lose per week.
Before we start to lose muscle, we can get an idea of what our physiological ceiling is now to do this. You first have to determine your body fat percentage. For example, let’s say you’re a dude and you are 225 pounds. And you estimate that you are about 40% body fat. How you would determine the amount of fat on your body is you would multiply two 20 by 40%, which would give you 88 pounds of fat.
And then you would multiply. The 88 pounds of fat by 30, according to Alpert’s equation to find how many calories of fat you could conceivably lose per day before you’d start to lose muscle. And if we do that math 88 times 30, we get 2,600. And so that means that theoretically, you could maintain a calorie deficit set of about 2,600 calories per day.
Losing muscle now, what does that mean in terms of weekly fat loss? Let’s multiply that calorie deficit by seven days. So let’s go 2,600 times seven, 18,200. And then let’s divide that by 3,500, which is again, roughly. The number of calories in a pound of body fat. And that gives us about five, 5.2. So about five pounds of fat loss per week is what our 225 pound obese buddy could aim for.
Could target. Now that doesn’t mean that he must do that or that. He even should do that per se, because that’s a very large calorie deficit that will require a lot of physical activity. And depending on what that activity is, it might cause too much muscle damage and tissue damage in the body. And the body may not be able to recover from that much activity.
And so it may be more reasonable to go down to let’s say a 1000 calorie. Deficit a daily calorie deficit of 1000 calories, which allows for lower levels of activity. Of course, we would still want some activity, but allows for lower levels of activity and a bit more food and will result in rapid fat loss.
Now, if you’re not sure. What your body fat percentage is just head over to Legion athletics.com, search for body fat percentage. And you will find an article that explains what body fat percentage is as far as a definition goes, and it talks a bit about body composition, and it also has a calculator that will allow you to quickly estimate your body fat percentage as well as.
Images that work well too for just quickly referencing. And don’t get too caught up with trying to pinpoint your exact body fat percentage, because no matter what method you use, you’re never gonna know exactly. We just want to know roughly though, we don’t need to know whether we are. Actually 17% body fat or 19% body fat.
We used to need to make sure that we don’t think we are 17%. If we are actually 27% or vice versa. Now Alpert’s equation working the way that it does suggests that as we get leaner, We won’t be able to maintain the same rate of fat loss without losing muscle as when we were fatter. And that is what many studies have shown that the leaner we are, the more susceptible we are to muscle loss when we’re cutting and that the size of the calorie deficit is the primary factor.
We can’t hack that by eating a lot of protein or getting extra sleep or taking a bunch of creatine again, I wish we could, but we just have to accept that as we get leaner, we are going to have to dial back the rate of fat loss. We are going to have to dial down the size of the calorie deficit. If we also want to preserve maximal muscle.
And of course, then strength and performance in our workout.
If you like what I’m doing here on the podcast and elsewhere, definitely check out my sports, nutrition company, Legion, which thanks to the support of many people like you is the leading brand of all natural sports supplements in the world. So by way of example, let’s go back to our 220 pound volunteer for today’s podcast.
And let’s say he starts out very aggressively and he loses 30 pounds in six weeks. This would be an absolute best case scenario and not even what I would necessarily recommend, but let’s just say that he really goes for it. And now he. 58 pounds of fat left because he has a lot less fat than when he started.
He now is only able to lose up to this. Isn’t what he should necessarily go for. But up to three and a half pounds of fat per week before he really starts to lose muscle and. If he didn’t know that, or if he was just wanting to try his luck and he kept trying to lose five pounds of fat per week, it wouldn’t work.
He would lose three, three and a half pounds of fat. And the rest of the weight would come from muscle. Or at least most of it would come from muscle. Okay. So if 30 calories program of body fat per day is the absolute most your body can do. And the absolute most you should ever shoot for. What should you actually shoot for?
Here is a pretty simple rule of thumb. If you are obese, if you are a man at 25% body fat or higher, or if you are a. 35% or higher, you can set your daily calorie deficit anywhere from 15 to 25 calories per pound of body fat. And that is not per pound of body fat. You want to lose it is total body fat, and most people I’ve worked with over the years.
Who fit that bill who have a lot of fat to lose can do quite well with a large deficit in the beginning, something around 18 to 20 calories per pound of body fat. And just to put some numbers to that. So let’s say you are a 190 pound woman, and you are at 40% body fat. And that means you have about 76 pounds of fat.
And that means then that your daily calorie deficit could be between 1100 and 1900 calories. And if you were to go with, let’s say a thousand on average for your daily calorie deficit, that would produce about two pounds of fat loss per week. And if you were to go with the highest number, a 1900 daily calorie, Deficit that would produce nearly four pounds of fat loss per week.
Now, of course, if we’re just talking about fat loss, four pounds is better than two pounds, but the four pounds is going to be harder to accomplish because we wanna make sure that we are also preserving muscle. And that means that we not only have to eat enough protein. We have to make sure that we are not eating too few calories.
And then of course there is the experience of the diet. It’s great to lose fat quickly, but if you feel terrible all of the time and all you can think about is eating food, maybe we should shrink the deficit a bit. Let’s still lose fat rapidly, but let’s allow you to do it in a sustainable way. And so my rule of thumb here is.
You don’t want to start your cut at or below your resting metabolic rate, which is the amount of calories you burn essentially at rest, not bedridden, but not moving around or doing much think the laziest of Laz Sundays. Now why do I not want you starting your cut? With too few calories. As you get deeper into a cutting phase, you usually have to reduce your calorie intake.
You can only increase activity levels so much. You can only exercise and move around so much and you will plateau. You will reach periods where your weight loss has stalled and the only solution is to eat less. And what you’ll find is if you start eating. Than your resting metabolic rate, these side effects can really become pronounced.
And so the best way to manage your calorie intake is to start your calories as far from your resting metabolic rate, as you can. And you do that by. Doing plenty of exercise and having plenty of physical activity, let that drive a large portion of your calorie deficit and you maintain that level of activity throughout the cut, or maybe you don’t start at maximum activity.
You just start at a healthy amount, a good amount of activity that allows you to start. Ideally, at least. I don’t know, a couple hundred calories above your RMR. And then you, when you reach your first weight loss plateau, if you can add more exercise and more activity without causing problems related to muscle loss or falling behind in recovery, then you do that and that will get the needle moving again.
And then when you stall again, if you can no longer. Activity which my general recommendation is no more than four to six hours of resistance training per week when cutting and no more than half of that, whatever you are doing in resistance training. No more than half of that in cardio and no more than probably an hour of high intensity cardio per week.
So once you’re doing that, the only other option is to eat less food. And what I like to do is reduce my daily calorie intake by about a hundred, maybe 150 calories. And see if that unstick things. And you really just have to rinse and repeat then the reduction of your calories until you have either reached your resting metabolic rate, or you have reached your goal.
Now, if you reach your RMR and you have not reached your goal yet you can stay there. And then when you plateau, you can eat less than your RMR. It’s not like that’s a switch, a self destruct switch that you are now flipping on. I just personally, don’t like to dip more than, let’s say one to 200 calories below my RMR.
And I don’t like to do it that whether it’s at 100 or 200, I don’t like to be below my RMR for more than a month or so. That really is the end of the cut. At which point I would probably take a nice diet break, probably two weeks. If I haven’t reached my body composition goal yet, and then I would get back to cutting.
It would be another round of cutting. And of course I’d have to start with a smaller calorie deficit this second time around because I will have lost quite a bit of fat from the first time. And I would be keeping PERTs information in mind and I would carry on until I have reached my body composition.
Now you are probably wondering how to estimate your resting metabolic rate, head over to Legion athletics.com search for metabolic rate, and you will find an article that is titled a simple and accurate BMR calculator and how to use it. Now that’s BMR basal metabolic rate, as opposed to RMR resting metabolic rate basal metabolic rate is the average amount of calories your body requires.
So just keep. Organs running to just stay alive. And it is essentially the same as RMR in terms of calculations. Like for me, my basal metabolic rate comes out at about 1,850 calories. And my resting metabolic rate comes out at about. 1,880 calories. And, by the time you are hearing this, we may actually have an RMR calculator article as well.
It is definitely on the list, but in case it is not live yet, you can just use the BMR calculator and think of it as synonymous with resting metabolic rate. Okay. So that covers people who have a lot of fat to lose guys at or above 25% body fat and women at, or above 35%. What about people who are just overweight?
What about guys around 20% body fat or gals around 30% body fat. How should they calculate the size of their daily calorie deficit? In this case, I recommend a daily calorie deficit of 15 to 20 calories per pound of body fat. And to put some numbers to that, let’s say we have a guy at 190 pounds, 20% body fat.
He has 38 pounds of fat. If he were to go with 15 for. Daily calorie deficit, that would be 570. And that 500 daily calorie deficit is like the default go-to that is often recommended because it produces about one pound of fat loss per week. And if he’s gonna be more aggressive about it, and if he’s gonna.
Go up to 20 calories per pound of body fat for his deficit. That would be a daily calorie deficit of 760 calories. And that would produce about one and a half pounds of fat loss per week. Now, if I were coaching this guy, and if we’re off to a good start at, let’s say the 20 calories per pound for the deficit, and he wants to squeeze a little bit more fat loss out.
His week and his workouts are fine and he’s sleeping fine. And he’s feeling fine. I would be okay. Going a little bit higher. I would be okay if he is starting out at, let’s say 21, 20 2% body fat, let’s go for that two pounds of fat loss per week. Let’s enjoy it while we can, because before long. He will be lean enough to where he has to shrink his deficit.
Now the female equivalent of what I just explained is 30% body fat. So if a woman is around 30% body fat, then I would recommend the 15 to 20 calories per pound of body fat for a daily calorie deficit. And to ride that until we reach the next milestone, which for men is around 15% body. And for women around 25%, at which point I would recommend 15 to maybe 17 calories per pound of body fat for a daily deficit.
And just to put some simple numbers to that, let’s say our guy who was 190 pounds and 20% body fat with 38 pounds of fat to lose, he was aggressive in the beginning and he lost. 10 pounds. And now he is 180 pounds and he has 28 pounds of fat to lose. Now, of course, it doesn’t work out this neatly, but this is fine for an example, right?
So our guy is now at 180 pounds, 28 pounds of fat, which puts him right around 15% body fat. And so if he got there, let’s say riding 20 calories. Per pound of body fat, it would be time to drop that it’d be time to drop to anywhere from 15 to 17 calories per pound of body fat. And so as he has 28 pounds of fat, that means that his calorie deficit should be between four and 500 calories per day.
And then the next important threshold is about 10% body fat in men and 20% in women. At which point I recommend a deficit, no larger than 15 calories per pound of body fat. And so in the case of our shrinking volunteer for this podcast, let’s say he loses another 10 pounds of fat, which means he’s now 170 pounds.
18 pounds of fat left putting him right around 10% body fat. And therefore, if he wants to get leaner, he shouldn’t use a calorie deficit larger than about 300 calories. 18 times 15 is 270 calories. Of course he doesn’t have to shoot for exactly a 270 calorie cut off. We will let him round. But I would no longer recommend the go to 500 calorie deficit.
If he or she, if we’re talking about a woman who is now 20% body fat wants to continue getting leaner and wants to preserve as much muscle and performance as possible. Now you might be wondering why I don’t recommend the maximum amount of potential fat loss as identified by Albert. Why don’t you just recommend everyone run a daily calorie deficit of.
Calories per pound of body fat. Mostly because it is hard to do. If you have a lot of fat to lose again, you have to be very active. If you are also going to keep your calorie intake above your RMR slash BMR and not everybody has several hours per day to exercise or do active things. And it can also be difficult if you are fairly lean wanting to get lean, or if you are lean wanting to get really lean.
Because again, the leaner you are, the more sensitive your body is to the calorie deficit. And so if you are a guy between, let’s say 15 and 20% body fat, or if you’re a woman between 25 and 30% body fat, you can get away. Daily calorie deficit that is closer to Alpert’s maximum without any major downsides.
However, if you’re a guy at 10% body fat or a gal around 20% body fat, and you’re looking to get quite lean, you can’t unfortunately, and this is an exception actually, to something I had said. Earlier in the podcast. And that is when you shrink the size of the calorie. Def sit from, let’s say 500 to two 50.
It usually doesn’t make that big of a difference in terms of how you experience the day to day calorie restriction. The exception is when you are lean wanting to get really lean that’s when you actually can notice the difference between a 500 daily calorie deficit and a 250 daily calorie deficit.
But that is the only exception that I know of. So long as you’re eating enough protein and you are managing your exercise and your sleep and your recovery properly. If you are not lean wanting to get really lean. You can use a daily calorie deficit of at least four or 500 calories. And if you have a lot of fat to lose, you can make that number a lot larger.
Now, one final bit of information I should share. One question you might have is how often you should recalculate your calorie deficit. How often should you adjust it? There are different opinions on this out there, but I like to keep it simple and just tie it back to these body fat milestones. So if you’re a guy and you are above 25% body fat, then you can revisit the calculations when you reach 25% body fat, and then you can do it again when you reach 20% body fat.
And then again, 15 again, 10 for women. The numbers are just 10% higher. So 35% and up you can work your way down to 35%. Revisit 30 revisit 25. 20 revisit. And that way you don’t have to fiddle with numbers and meal plans too often, while also making sure that your calorie deficit shrinks proportionately to your total body fat stores.
And that’s all folks, you now know more about fat loss than most people ever will, including trainers. So I hope you use your new found powers responsibly, and I have a lot. Interesting stuff coming your way. I have an episode coming out next week where I share four evidence based ways to stop procrastinating.
I have an episode coming on how to use exercises to reduce or even eliminate low back pain can’t promise, but it certainly can help. I also have an interview that I did with the one and only mark Reto, where we talk about the merit or lack thereof of. Exercises that most people don’t do rack poles, Romanian, deadlifts halted reps, overhead squats, and more.
Oh, and just to give you a quick update on the new second edition of my book for experienced weightlifters beyond bigger leaner, stronger, all the work is done. It is ready to. Go and we are officially launching it next month. I’m sorry for the wait. I didn’t want to do it this way, but because of the agreement that I made with Simon and Schuster on this book that I’m doing with them for the 40 plus crowd, I had to rush to get science explained out and launched first and then beyond bigger leaner stronger.
And so that. That the BLS 2.0 launch will officially begin on October 5th. And I have a couple of weeks of podcasts, which are material from the book, which I hope you enjoy and which I hope make you want to get the book and follow the program and let me know how you do with it. All right. That’s it for this episode.
I hope you enjoyed it and found it interesting and helpful. And if you did, and you don’t mind doing me a favor, please do leave a quick review on iTunes or wherever you’re listening to me from in whichever app you’re listening to me in because that not only convinces people that they should check out the show, it also increases search.
Ability and thus it helps more people find their way to me and learn how to get fitter, leaner, stronger, healthier, and happier as well. And of course, if you want to be notified, when the next episode goes live, then simply subscribe to the podcast and you won’t miss out on any new stuff. And if you didn’t like something about the show, please do shoot me an email at Mike muscle for life.com, just muscle or life.com and share your thoughts on how I can do this better.
I read everything myself and I’m always looking for constructive feedback, even if it is criticism. I’m open to it. And of course you can email me if you have positive feedback as well. Or if you have questions really relating to anything that you think I could help you with. Definitely send me an email that is the best way to get ahold of me, Mike, at multiple life.com.
And that’s it. Thanks again for listening to this episode. And I hope to hear from you soon.
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