The Truth About Fat Loss (3 Stages)

Losing weight is not a linear process.

You may think if you keep doing the same things that helped you shed the first 10 pounds, the next 10 will come off just as quickly.

But rarely does it happen that way.

This past week, one of my successful past clients — we’ll call him Curtis because that’s his name — came to me with a question.

So I gained 4 pounds over the last week or so that I can’t seem to shed. Body hasn’t changed much other than some more leg and arm muscle. Gym on a regular basis still. Did I hit that stand still point? Is it muscle? I’m lost.

For a frame of reference, he’d lost more than 20 lbs and a pant size in 8 weeks as part of my Mansformation 2.0 challenge.

He could wear clothes he used to be able to fit into but hadn’t in some time.

His fiancé noticed he was walking around shirtless – even in the winter (this aversion to shirts is a common side effect of Mansformation 2.0)

But what was happening now?

There’s less room for error as you progress. And as we said earlier, weight loss isn’t linear.

Many think that with just a little more time, the abs start popping and the super hero physique emerges.

Curtis is not alone in that perception – but reality tells a different story.

There are two lines of thought when it comes to fitness…

  1. With just a few changes to one’s diet and exercise routine, you can look like a magazine cover model.
  2. It’s either all or nothing. Getting into shape requires sacrifice, restriction, and mountains of broccoli.

The truth is somewhere in the middle. 

Many people need fitness in their lives. How much of it will depend on your goal (and which stage of fat loss you’re striving for).

Data reported on by Precision Nutrition says the average American is about 28% body fat, and the average woman is 40% fat.

Research suggests men should be sub-20% bodyfat for optimal health, while women should be in the 20-30% range.

Visual representation of bodyfat percentages courtesy jasondoesstuff.com

If you aren’t in that healthy range, how do you get there?

Here are some simple guidelines to follow for each stage:

STAGE 1 (Under 20% for men, 30% for women)

  • Adopt some form of exercise 3 times per week and be consistent over months
  • Emphasize protein and veggies with every meal (fill up half your plate)
  • Eliminate liquid sugary drinks and moderate your alcohol intake (i.e. no binge drinking)
  • Home cooked meals 80% of the time and watch your portions

STAGE 2 (Under 15% for men, under 25% for women)

  • Exercise daily (not necessarily weight training, but sweat daily)
  • Go out of your way to get in extra activity (step counter, take the stairs etc.)
  • Sleep consistently 7 hours a night and manage stress
  • Limit alcoholic beverages to 1-2 nights a week at no more than 2 drinks per sitting
  • Home cooked meals 90% of the time and measure your food (or at least have a good idea of calorie intake)

STAGE 3 (Under 10% for men, 20% women)

  • Resistance training up to 6 times per week plus regular cardio
  • De-stress daily through meditation or self care (massage, steam room)
  • Adopt hunger management strategies (gum, coffee) as you’re fighting tooth-and-nail with your own biology at this point
  • Limit cheat treats to once per week (prepare own meals 95% of the time and measure every ounce of food that goes in your pie hole)

STAGE 1 (20%/30%)

Guidelines

  • Adopt some form of exercise 2-3 times per week and be consistent
  • Emphasize protein and veggies with every meal (fill up half your plate)
  • Eliminate liquid sugary drinks and moderate your alcohol intake (i.e. no binge drinking)

For most, simply changing some foundational habits will help you get to this level of leanness. Of course, it takes time and relentless consistency, and everyone progresses at different paces. This isn’t a quick fix.

But you cannot go wrong starting with three whole body weight training workouts per week, reducing your sugar and alcohol intake, and prioritizing protein and veggies in nearly every meal.

If you’re looking for a place to start, get instant access to my FREE Diet Secrets 2 Page Guide (past participants lost anywhere from 5 to 12 lbs of fat in two weeks) >> click HERE <<

Get the Diet Secrets FREE!

How do you know things are working in Stage 1?

Keep a close eye on visible changes through scale weight, waist circumference and bodyfat % (if you have tools available to assess).

Most importantly, as you lose weight and enter Stage 1, you’ll experience a number of benefits that you may not have experienced at a heavier weight.

You have more energy.

Are you slogging your way through the day? Midafternoon, you need a caffeine and sugar hit to keep your eyelids propped open and the only bar you’re getting under after work is the one in your basement that holds the liquor. If you have plenty of buzz to play with the kids after 5, you’re on the right track.

Your clothes feel just a little looser.

Adding muscle is a big priority in my programs, and for good reason. Muscle looks great, building it can help raise your metabolism and help your clothes fit better.  That old beer t-shirt doesn’t fit (fortunately or unfortunately?), because your chest and arms are now too muscular for it.

You’re sleeping better.

There can be many reasons for poor sleep: stress, aging, hormonal changes, being a new parent, getting too much light late at night, jet lag, and so on.

But nutrition and exercise can play a role. For instance, if you over-eat heavy meals late at night, it can cut into your sleep. I usually recommend one of my client approved meals 2-3 hours before bed and one of the recommended snacks only if needed.

Alcohol and caffeine can have a negative impact. I usually recommend caffeine be eliminated before 5 pm (some people metabolize it slower than others and I push the deadline up) and alcohol no more than 2 hours prior. You know those nights where you drift into an alcohol-induced slumber and feel partially awake all night? Deep sleep is compromised.

Take home point: Realistically, you could get into Stage 1 of fat loss and work to maintain it and be perfectly healthy (in general terms). But many get here and think “What’s next?”

They want to get a body that turns heads… which takes us to stage 2.

STAGE 2 (15%/25%)

Guidelines:

  • Exercise daily (not necessarily weight training, but sweat daily)
  • Go out of your way to get in extra activity (step counter, take the stairs etc.)
  • Sleep consistently 7 hours a night and manage stress
  • Limit alcoholic beverages to 1-2 nights a week at no more than 2 drinks per sitting

Curtis (our example above) was entering this stage and finding it harder to get results. That’s common.

You’re now pushing your body beyond its comfort zone and further from its set point. Achieving a bodyfat percentage below 15% for men (25% for women) is no easy task, and is definitely harder for some than others. Genetics are a B after all.

Depending on how long you were overweight, it may be a struggle at first to maintain this level of conditioning. You’ll have to make the gym a big part of your routine, prep meals for the day ahead and really hone in on your sleep and recovery (sacrificing some social engagements in the process).

STAGE 3 (10%/20%)

Guidelines

  • Resistance training up to 6 times per week plus cardio
  • Limit cheat treats to once per week
  • De-stress daily through meditation or self care (massage, steam room)
  • Adopt hunger management strategies (gum, coffee) as you’re fighting tooth-and-nail with your own biology at this point
  • Often performance drugs or stimulants required

This is an area reserved for the…

  1. 1% who can maintain this condition with little consequences (likely not you)
  2. Elite bodybuilders getting ready for a contest and models getting ready for a photoshoot (plus normal humans who want to look great for a short moment in time)

The process required to drop to single digits in bodyfat goes against biological cues.

You’ll be hungry. Irritable. Fatigued. On the verge of throat punching that door-to-door salesman. You know, side effects of being “hangry” but, like, all the damn time.

Again, these symptoms aren’t universal but they impact the majority of my clients who approach this goal naturally with average genetics.

We’re not talking juiced up college kid or Chris Hemsworth here – average joes here.

So, for normal humans, chasing a six pack can negatively impact your sex life,  work life and everything else that goes with it.

Sure, if you have a photoshoot or wedding and want veins coming out of your dress shirt, then maybe Stage 3 is worth your time. But I warn you to exercise caution and only go for it if it’s what you truly want.

Many turn to steroids to achieve this look. Others choke down stimulants (nicotine, ephedrine) by the handfuls to curb hunger along the way and suffer anxiety, disrupted sleep and a tanked hormonal profile. Some also sacrifice relationships and become a hermit to get there (I’ve done it).

Look, here’s me at my leanest a few years back. About 11-12% bodyfat.

I just looked skinny with a shirt on.. really flat, but the abs photo on my About page was taken at the end of this diet.

Cool. I had some semblance of abs. But I also had low libido (partly from the diet and partly from ephedrine), poor energy and hated life at times.

Interestingly enough, the last month of the diet I had a massive cheat day every Saturday, complete with 600+ grams of carbs (think kid’s cereal, pancakes, sweets) just to keep my metabolism from tanking.

But I hated the other 6 days of the week.

So, with that said… it’s on you to decide. Which stage do you want? Review the bottom section below to guide you.

What’s Next?

  • Figure out your goals and priorities. Do you want to be healthy and full of energy or do you want to be shredded? Rare to achieve both for any considerably length of time.
  • Decide which stage you want to strive for. Make sure what you can realistically commit to the guidelines that align with the stage you’re focused on getting to.
  • Need a place to start? Download my free Diet Secrets fat loss guide to simplify the whole process and get you started.

Get instant access to my FREE Diet Secrets 2 Page Guide (past participants lost anywhere from 5 to 12 lbs of fat in two weeks).

Get it FREE!

 

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