What does it ACTUALLY take to lose 20 pounds?

At the time of writing this it’s late March, which means the majority of people who made a health-related New Year’s Resolution have fallen off the wagon. One of our Core Values is honesty. As a coaching staff, we’ve taken a hard stance against the misinformation in the fitness industry. There is no “perfect workout”, supplement, ab routine, diet plan, or superfood that will unlock the secret to weight loss. I’ve opted for “losing 20 pounds” as our case study because it is the most often-cited exercise goal I’ve heard from people first starting an exercise routine. So, let’s examine what that will actually take. Honestly.

Simply put, you can lose 20 pounds in several months by eating fewer calories than you do now and exercising vigorously for three to five hours per week using resistance training, interval training, and cardio training. Simple enough, right? So why, then, does everyone who sets out to lose 20 pounds not succeed? Because the truth in weight loss – and pretty much anything you wish to achieve – is that the process is incredibly simple (eat less, move more), but undoubtedly difficult.

This is your litmus test – if your weight loss solution involves a complex “system” or “plan” with anything short of complete sacrifice and lifestyle modification on your part – it probably won’t work. Let’s examine what it actually takes to lose 20 pounds.

How can we help?

Before you continue, I’d like to throw out an offer: Come in, meet with a coach, and receive a complimentary Body Composition Scan. No pressure. No sales. We’re here to help you navigate the confusing, frustrating world of weight loss.

Schedule Your Discovery Session >


Eating less seems simple enough. But, truth is, a healthy diet permeates more of your daily habits than you might think. Here are a few examples:

  • Buy, prepare, pack, and eat raw vegetables at every meal
  • Eat food that you prepared for each meal
  • Spend time every week doing meal preparation
  • Men – drink 5 or less alcoholic drinks per week. Women – 3 or less
  • Minimize or eliminate sweets – especially around the office or when you’ve had a “hard day”


Move 3-5 hours a week. Simple enough. Why is it so rare that people actually stick to it? There are plenty of factors that contribute to non-exercise – schedule, not knowing what to do, difficulty forming a habit, losing interest, and budget. Here are some examples of what it actually will take to stick to an exercise routine:

  • Chances are, you’ll need to hire a coach or trainer. Most access (“globo-gym”) facilities are set up to where less than 5% of people paying a membership actually go. Read: You probably won’t either.
  • You’ll need to wake up early. Meaning, the first number on your alarm clock will probably be a 5.
  • You’ll need to pack a gym bag everyday. If you go home before the gym, you probably won’t make it to the gym.
  • Childcare – you’ll need to make arrangements.
  • Be proactive – block out your workout time in your schedule. Leaving it up to chance means it won’t happen.


Underpinning every truth in weight loss is consistency. Using our 20 pound example, you can expect to lose this weight in five months. Four if you’re incredibly diligent. Two if you plan to gain 30 pounds back (read: crash diet and over-exercising). When was the last time you stuck to something for five months? Truth is, most folks can maintain for 3 weeks.

There will be sacrifice. You will need to plan. You will need to adjust pretty much every part of your day. Your likelihood of success goes up with someone in your corner. Find a trainer, a coach, friend, or significant other. Behavior change happens in the context of relationship. Losing weight is behavior change FIRST, diet and exercise second.

Here for you.

Did you know most people who lose 20 pounds end up gaining it back? Here’s a promise: we’ll never promote a fad diet or exercise plan that is unsustainable or unhealthy. Our goal is to help you feel your best for a lifetime.

Schedule Your Discovery Session >

188 Replies to “What does it ACTUALLY take to lose 20 pounds?”

  1. I was searching for months online and watching videos, reading forums, but nothing seems to help me.
    I like to lose 30 pounds in a month but it seems impossible for me. Trying so hard but cant see results.

    I found some books online but they can’t help me. Like your post, i see results now.

    1. Thanks for reading, Monica! Your frustrations are understandable and very common. The issue is that weight loss that occurs that rapidly is typically not FAT loss. Losing 20 pounds in 20 days or 30 pounds in 30 days makes for a flashy headline, but the “weight” lost is largely muscle and water. At the end of the crash diet, your metabolism is slower than when you started which is why you’ll generally gain MORE weight after the “diet” is over. To understand the difference between WEIGHT loss and FAT loss, here’s a good resource: https://crossfitmemorialhill.com/ditch-the-scale-body-composition-testing-at-the-hill/

      1. If you are losing weight at 2 pounds per week, in 2 months you will have lost 20. 1-2 pounds is healthy, so you will not gain 30 back if you lose it in 2 months. Not to mention exercise, proper dieting, and more.

        1. 100% correct here, Cameron. In the original comment from Monica, she mentioned wanting to lose 30 pounds in 30 days.

          In any scenario it is important for people to remember that in order to lose 1 pound of fat you must create a 3,500 calorie deficit.

          So I always ask: what is the most sustainable way to create this deficit? And 1 pound per week seems to be sustainable in the 20-30 pound loss range. 2 pounds per week seems to be sustainable in the 30 pound+ range.

          1. This is so accurate, i lost 20 pounds exactly in 5 months. As the post says i was not perfect but consistent and that is what matters to keep the weight off in longer run. I eat everything but in moderation once or twice a week.

        2. I agree. I lost 20lbs in 33 days so far on 75 Hard. Although not a weight loss program its a discipline program. I’m eating lean protein low fat and moderate carbs. No alcohol or sugar except fruits like watermelon amd pineapples and yogurt.

          1. So my issue is I’ve lost about 50lbs in 7 months and am having a very hard time dorping more. I’m currently 5’9 220lbs. I still have to loose another 40lbs to be at my suggest body weight. My nutrition is in check and I’m working out for atleast an hour 6-7 days a week, I do weights and cardio. I feel like I’ll never be under 200lbs

          2. Congrats on your weight loss so far, Kyle!

            What you’re experiencing is very common. This is for a few reasons:

            1. You likely cut out some sugar, salt, and other inflammatory foods. As a result, your body is not retaining as much water as it once did. This is why you’ll lose the most amount of weight when you first start a new nutrition plan.

            2. It was actually DIFFICULT to maintain the excess weight. Believe it or not, it takes just as much effort to maintain excess weight as it does to lose the excess weight. So by taking ANY steps toward weight loss you essentially pulled the escape hatch on the extra pounds… resulting in faster initial loss.

            3. The thing that helps you lose the first half of the weight is NOT the thing that will help you lose the second half.

            Let’s dive into #3 for a path forward…

            ADAPTATION: Just as your body became accustomed to holding an additional 90 pounds, it seems to have found another plateau at your current weight. If you want to continue to lose weight, I’d recommend you vary your approach somewhat.

            This can be a little trial and error, so you should start off with some accurate measurements. At your stage in weight loss I recommend that you STOP weighing yourself daily and transition to a weekly or bi-monthly weigh-in. As a part of this new protocol you should get some body composition scans done. You want to know how much of your weight is water, muscle, and fat. A simple InBody scan will give you these numbers.

            Next, try a varied approach to your nutrition. Protein is generally a good place to start. You didn’t mention your age or bodyfat percentage so I can’t give you a really accurate number. But 175 grams of protein a day would be a good place to start considering your activity level. Track your protein intake for a week to see if you’re eating enough protein to support your metabolism during this time.

            IMPORTANT: This is why you should stop weighing yourself during this phase. Once you eat to support your new, lean tissue you may actually see an increase in your weight. That’s OK… you’re building new lean tissue. This lean tissue is what will fuel your metabolism during the times you’re NOT working out. It’s this metabolism change from increased muscle mass that will help you lose the remainder of the body fat.

            WORKOUTS: You will also need some variance in your training. I’d recommend that you incorporate some high intensity (HIIT) training into your regime. If you don’t like HIIT, then add some variance in your weight/cardio routine. Instead of squeezing both weight training AND cardio into the same session, split them by days. 4 days of heavy weight training + 2 days of 30min of steady state cardio, for example.

            And – per the weight training – you want to ensure that you’re increasing your volume week-over-week. Meaning, add a couple reps per set or add 5-10 pounds to the lift each week. Remember: your goal is to avoid adaptation. You’ll want to bump up the intensity, volume, and weight as you progress to avoid any plateaus.

            Good luck and let us know how this goes!

        3. Now that I am in my early 30’s it takes time to lose a significant amount of weight. It literally took me nine months to lose 23 pounds I am in the gym six days a week! I think stress factors and height play a role as well.

          In my college years, I was in the 120 range at a 5’6-5’7 frame. I did a lot of emotional eating not realizing it I would eat when I was in a stressful situation or whenever I was sad. I was a vegetarian since 20, but was eating larger portions and not always raw veggies and fruits. I reached for salty or processed foods.

          I made the decision to do some self-care in 2020. Meditate, start a small business from home, go to the gym everyday, and road cycle.

          162lbs(Dec 2020) to 139.8lbs(August 2021) and still have 15 pounds to go. It’s exhausting. I started off the first six months exercising once a day but it wasn’t enough. I go twice a day to see faster results. I also cycle to the gym and take longer walks with the dog. I stick to Vegetarian-Pescatarian-Keto since i needed more protein and omega 3,6. Intermittent fasting!

          There is no way in hell I am gaining the weight back because that was an exhausting weight loss journey. I rather eat small portions and raw veggies/fruits then go through that again.

          2 hours a day
          6am Gym and afternoon/evening session – 2 liters of water

          My diet regimen is also very clean.

          -Chobani Greek Yogurt, granola, strawberries, 1 or 2 boiled eggs
          -A piece of watermelon
          -herbal tea or green tea

          -Tuna salad or Salmon with arugula in a low carb multigrain wrap
          -Slices of Avocado
          -Sparkling water flavored

          -Stir fry with garlic sauce/sesame oil, broccoli, mushrooms, tofu, carrot
          or chicken breast for meat eaters.
          -sparkling flavored water

          snacks that helped
          -cinnamon applesauce- 90 calories
          -popcorners — 120 calories for 17 chips
          -larabar- 210 calories pre or post work out
          – Dark chocolate and peanut butter
          – Walnuts and sunflower seeds
          – Vegan cheese and black bean whole wheat quesadilla using earth balance
          – Small portion of tortilla chips and 365 whole foods salsa(Hot)

          takeout once a month only
          Chinese food-lunch portion between 12pm and 3pm
          No rice, extra steamed veggies on the side or brown rice

          1. Hey there!

            Congrats on your progress so far! You should be very proud of your consistency and — most of all — the sustainable approach you’ve taken for weight loss. In looking at how you’ve undertaken your weight loss, I’m certain that you have created a habit and lifestyle… and you most certainly will not gain it back!

            Now I’m unsure if you’re happy with the pace of things or frustrated by how long and difficult the road has been. If you want to make a few tweaks to your current routine, you can try these. You may not be interested in switching things up, which is totally fine. Your current plan is rock-solid.

            Weight Training:

            Sometimes weight loss starts off very fast with cardio alone. Then, it will stall once your body has adapted to the cardio. This is why most folks end up adding more and more miles + workout sessions to see the same results.

            You can try to incorporate some HEAVY weight training 3 times per week. This will really ramp up your resting metabolism and your body’s ability to burn carbs through increased glycogen stores in your muscles.

            Nuts & “healthy fats”:

            Many plant-based eaters use nuts to get additional protein. They also help you feel full since they trigger feelings of satiety. But it’s important to remember that nuts aren’t a great source of protein, but they’re a great source of healthy fat. Since they are primarily a fat, they contain over TWICE the number of calories by volume compared to carbs and protein.

            What does that mean?

            It means that it is very easy to consume excess calories from nuts and nut butters. The same is true for avocado (also a great fat source).

            If you find your weight loss slowing down, try to count how many calories of nuts and avocados you consume in a given week. If it accounts for more than 300 calories per day you may want to consider other options.

            This is especially difficult if you eat veggies roasted with oil or salads with an olive oil dressing. Accounting for cooking and dressing oils, it is very common for plant-based eaters to consume 1,000+ calories per day from fat. This will certainly slow down the weight loss process.

            Hopefully these tweaks are useful if you want to speed up your progress a bit. But you’re 100% on the right track. Keep it up & let us know when you hit your goal!

          2. Keto works, but if not weened off properly and still maintaining a low carb diet you’ll gain it back. It’s inevitable

          3. Not necessarily.

            Many studies are now emerging showing the VAST majority (some 90%+) of folks on a ketogenic diet aren’t actually in ketosis. The adaptation phase for endogenous ketone production can take months and months.

            Even then, something as low carb as ONE baby carrot can kick you right back into glucose-burning.

            In fact, the difficulty of a true ketogenic diet seems to be so dramatic that I won’t recommend it to someone who is not using it to combat a serious illness. It seems to be a very effective solution for folks with auto-immune disorders. The alternative has to be so much worse than the diet, in my opinion.

            I have 15 years of consistent training and nutrition under my belt… never more than a week off for vacation. And I don’t think I have the ability to maintain true keto. So I can’t recommend something I wouldn’t have the willpower or ability to do myself.

        4. 0% correct Cameron. If you lose 2 pounds a week. In 2 months you would have lost 8 pounds. If you’re following the 4 weeks to a month rule.

        1. I do 35 min HIIT video at home 6 days a week, also keep calorie intake under 1400$ low card, lost 20lbs in 2

          1. HIIT 6 days a week? that’s not really HIIT then, should only be able to sustain 3-4 max times per week

          2. @Devon: Yes and no. While one couldn’t do a daily, anaerobic workout at max intensity 6 days/week there are other metabolic pathways that can be trained while still considered “HIIT”.

            A well-structured HIIT program can create enough variance across the anaerobic, glycolitic, and aerobic pathways with varying work-to-rest ratios that allow for intra-week recovery.

            Plus you also need to consider the training age of the participant. It takes many years to develop the ability to do HIIT to a degree where one would need to vary training across a week of programming.

            But, in general, you’re right. A well-structured program for an experienced trainee should be 2-3 days of HIIT, 2-3 days strength, and 1-2 days cardio.

        2. Hi Eduardo. Thanks for the question.

          The truth is that you don’t NEED to workout at all to lose 25 pounds. To lose 1 pound of fat your body must lose 3,500 excess calories. You can achieve this by eating ~500 less calories each day or by burning 500 calories more each day.

          The most sustainable approach is a combination of the two: exercise and diet. I recommend 2-3 days per week of heavy weight training + 2-3 days per week of 30 minute light cardio. This along with a balanced diet with plenty of protein and veggies will have you down 25 pounds in ~ 5-6 months.

        3. 4-6 days of HIGH intensity cardio . You must also weight train , that burns fat . Your works outs should be no more than an hour . 30 on the weights 30 cardio . Go at it Hard . I started on 6/7 /21 and my weight was 348.lbs . I was tired all the time , sluggish . No sex drive . I ate sugar and fast food . Now I am 315 . I have an abundance of energy . My drive is back and I’m looking to hit 280lbs as my goal . I figure by Jan I will or at least die trying! 😁.. Good luck 🍀

    2. I have lost 20 pounds in 5 days at the most intense conditioning camp I’ve ever done, I did this and I was not even over weight, 4 hours of training a day plus it was technically 6 days, because I did an 1 1/2 hour run Saturday in the morning. Don’t be a retard

      1. Douche of the year award!

        Congratulations on your water loss. We’re all saoooooo proud of you for doing what junior high wrestlers have been doing for decades.

        Now, back to science…

      2. That’s great that works for you. Some of us that are large, it simply doesn’t work that way. A lot of people out there believe the cartoons they saw since they were little kids and the way the media portrays fat people. I’m here to tell you it just simply doesn’t work that way for us. Our bodies fight against us. I don’t think retardation has anything to do with it.

        1. Hi Elaine,

          Max is a troll. Ignore that nonsense.

          And you’re right. In the same way Max was unable to appeal to his higher intellect, people who are on a journey to lose weight often feel a pull between years & years of one habit and the new habit they want to create.

          I don’t know if you’re a coffee drinker or not, but consider this:

          Changing habits that will lead to weight loss is the equivalent of waking up and NOT wanting a cup of coffee after spending decades as a coffee drinking.

          Of course that would feel like your body is betraying you!

          But just like giving up coffee (why on Earth would someone do that?!?!), we can eventually become accustomed to anything. After 4 or 5 months of no coffee all of the sudden the cravings go away.

          The problem with weight loss is that we falsely believe that our habits will magically change just because we want them to. But in reality, it takes months & years of consistency to bring one’s “body” in line with what one’s “mind” desires. The more we can bring those two together, the more we can achieve our weight loss goals – or any goal for that matter.

          Thanks for stopping by and sharing some positivity and insight.

        2. You can’t bullshit other fat people who lost the weight. You’re lying. You’re not special, you’re not different from any other fat person who lost the weight. Your body is not fighting against you, it wants you to lose weight. Stop making excuses. I lost the weight and I’m not special. You can lose it too but you have to stop lying to yourself first.

          1. I understand the sentiment, Jan. But I don’t think it’s useful.

            Trust me, I’ve heard millions of excuses from 10,000 people I’ve trained. I found myself becoming bitter and impatient.

            But something that helped was for me to identify areas of my life where I made similar excuses. While I may have my diet and exercise pretty dialed in, how am I with relationships? Keeping in contact with my parents? How to I let my “busy schedule” interfere with things I should be doing for myself?

            There’s a balance in there of tough love and compassion.

      3. Max, what are you…all of 8 years old? Either that, or you’re vocabulary skills are lacking. Really? The “R word?”
        PLEASE don’t EVER procreate…I hope you haven’t yet. If you do, God forbid your offspring is anything like you. People who have a disability that you are referring to aren’t stupid. You, however, most certainly are. You also exhibit classic signs of a sociopath.

        1. There’s a lot of whine in this comment…someone clearly woke up on the wrong side of the bed to stoop from their pompous pedestal. First time looking at this board, and I could tell who the non objective pollutants are on this board. Some seemingly take it tough hearing a truth consensus I see.

        2. Hi Sarah, I would be delighted to procreate with a woman who is so beautifully articulated and intensely passionate when ignorance, rubeness, and blatant abuse is shared online xx

  2. Losing 20 lbs in 2 months isn’t that rare. That doesn’t mean you’ll gain it all back. An over weight person who starts a good diet and workout regimen will probably probably drop 10 lbs inside of 3 weeks just from that change alone. Of course weight loss is not linear but those first 20 lbs are the easy ones. Stop writing about weight loss. You don’t know what you’re talking about.

    1. Thanks for reading and for the comment, Mike. You are correct on all fronts: weight loss is NOT linear, yes you CAN lose 10 pounds in 3 weeks, and the first 20 ARE the easiest.

      Where you may be misguided: Weight loss is not inherently non-linear biologically. It is non-linear because behavior modification is non-linear (the point of this article is that behavior change trumps everything).

      You CAN lose 10 pounds in 3 weeks. It is almost certainly NOT 10 pounds of body fat (some simple math will show this at the end).

      The first 20 are the easiest because new habits are easy to start, but difficult to maintain.

      WEIGHT loss vs. Fat Loss. Weight can be water, muscle, fat, hair, or a body part. But let’s say your weight loss goal is to improve your health. In that case fat loss has the highest correlation to improved health markers.

      What does it take to lose 1 pound of fat? To lose a single pound of body fat you must create a 3,500 calorie deficit. Let’s use your example of losing 10 pounds of fat in 3 weeks.

      10 pounds of fat = 35,000 calorie deficit
      3 weeks = 21 days
      35,000 calories/21 days = 1,666 calorie deficit per day.

      In order to achieve your claim of 10 pounds in 3 weeks, here are some potential scenarios:

      1. Go from a 2,000 calorie diet to a 334 calorie diet
      2. Run for 2.5-3.5 hours per day @ a 12 minute mile pace (calories burned depends upon size, but this is a typical range)
      3. Combination of the two: reduce calories by 1,000 (eat 1,000 per day) AND run for 1 hour @ a 12 minute mile pace.

      It is clear that none of the above scenarios is safe, sustainable, or advisable. We advocate for science when it comes to health. Fat Loss and Weight Loss are two ENTIRELY DIFFERENT THINGS. And I will heed your advice to never write about WEIGHT loss. It is anti-scientific and irresponsible to do so. I will continue, however, to spread the message of body composition change done in a healthy, sustainable manner.

      1. You have some very strange numbers here:
        I have lost 10 pounds in 15 days.
        I reduced my diet to an average 1500 calories + exercise burn aiming for a slightly negative number daily (-50 to -200, but not more). Some days this means I can consume 2500+.
        I added in 30 minute high intensity workout or 1 hour endurance workout.
        I increased my water intake.
        It’s not hard if you accountable to yourself, and your outrageous numbers of 334 calories does not make any sense.

        1. So the numbers aren’t actually that strange if you define WHAT it is that you’re losing when you say “losing weight.”

          Someone could lose water, muscle, or fat and still be losing weight.

          Let’s say you’re training for a wrestling match and you needed to make weight. If you’re a healthy bodyfat % already then you should lose water weight leading up to weigh-in. Because you probably don’t want to lose muscle leading up to physical activity.

          Make sense?

          Now let’s say that you want to lose FAT. When people say “weight loss” they generally mean “fat loss”

          Still with me?

          1 pound of bodyfat has an energy equivalent of 3,500 calories. This is a law of the universe that is unavoidable. Google “Thermodynamics” if you want to learn how matter and energy works.

          So, to lose 1 pound of FAT, you need to create a TOTAL negative calorie of 3,500.

          So when you created a -50 or -200 calorie count in a given day you were contributing to the 3,500 needed to lose 1 pound of fat.

          -200 calories per day means you’d lose 1 pound of fat in 17.5 days (3,500 divided by 200 = 17.5).

          You lost 10 pounds in 15 days. This is true.

          You did not lose 10 pounds of fat in 15 days.

          Does the difference between those two resonate? This is why I encourage people to do body composition testing vs. using the scale alone.

      2. Matt, you are correct because i was sick once and dropped 18 lbs in a month and my clothes fit exactly the same. I will add this to what you say though, a person that is very overweight can do a 35,000 calorie deficit in three weeks because often people that are very overweight eat about 3000 to 4000 calories a day regularly. i know because i did that. so if a person drops 1666 calories a day for a few weeks, they are still eating maybe 1600 calories and will drop the weight. however, after a few weeks their body will be used to less calories and it will only do this in the very beginning.

        1. You nailed it, Miranda. The only snag here has to do with appetite and stomach size. Going from 4,000 calories/day to 1600/day can leave some folks feeling absolutely miserable.

          Then, they will need to move to a “maintenance” calorie phase if they do not want the weight to come back. So that would look more like: 4,000kcal // 1,600kcal to lose // 2,000kcal to maintain. Regardless, the ultimate question to ask is: “what is the best way to consume 2,000kcal every day for the next 50 years?” Not: “For how long can I white-knuckle 1,600kcal?”

          The latter has a lower success rate. Which is why I always steer folks toward a decades-long goal vs. a short-term loss.

      3. your first number is the false premise. which fat person has a 2000 calorie diet? if it’s 2000, they are losing weight already. i just lost 20lbs in 28 days. of course some of that was water weight because I was intaking too much sodium so my body was retaining the water to keep things in balance. Since I have started eating better I eat less sodium and hence less water retained. But to someone losing weight,weight is weight.
        The positive weight loss is very important. ANYONE who loses weight , OF COURSE the early loss is water weight. I can’t stand when people feel the need to poopoo the weight loss as, OH that’s JUST water weight. STFU, it has to start somewhere. Anyway i’ve lost two inches in my waist. Feel great, not starving and never hungry. My daily calories are between 1200 and 1500. I eat all regular food. It’s not hard if you eat the right food in the right proportions and drink lots of water.

        1. Ben – you bring up an interesting point about weight loss. Of course — all people are motivated differently.

          I have worked with people who experience rapid weight loss early on — water or otherwise — say, 10 pounds in 2 weeks. Now, we can assume that 8 of these 10 pounds lost are water & bloat. But — as you outlined in your comment — sodium and water eventually normalize. Then, we’re right back to the tried-and-true, scientific 1-2 pounds per week.

          This slow down in weight loss doesn’t bother some people. But — in my experience — this slowdown is a huge de-motivating factor for 95% of people trying to lose weight.

          But there are exceptions to every rule. In your case, feeling more energetic, having looser fitting pants, and gaining some confidence is all you need to push past the slow-down.

          Which brings us to a place of agreement. The first question I ask anyone who comes to me saying they want to lose XX pounds is: “What will it feel like when you lose the weight?”

          Then, we focus on whatever those feelings happen to be and try to ignore the scale en route to the weight loss. So if someone answers the question: “I will feel more confident when I lose the weight” we focus on activities that build confidence: getting your first pull-up, climbing a rope, hitting a personal best on a deadlift, etc.

          So if someone goes into a weight loss journey understanding basic biology and math; knowing the time it will take to achieve and maintain their target weight, then I won’t “poo poo” their water weight loss. I never want to shit on anyone’s parade.

          The purpose of this forum is to dispel all the “gurus” and hucksters out there promising to help you lose “30 pounds in 30 days.” I would bet everything on the fact that more people have lost weight, gained it back, and felt shitty about themselves as a result of the dishonesty this approach. But I’m always willing to acknowledge the rare exceptions of human motivation — as you’ve pointed out here.

          Keep us posted on your journey!

    2. Matt,

      I encourage you to continue to write about this topic. In my opinion, you are a subject matter expert and I found your content to be insightful and accurate. Just because you are conveying information that people may find difficult to accept, doesnt mean you should stop sharing useful information with individuals like myself who appreciate the articulate manner in which you present this important data.

    3. He’s probably talking about the last 20 pounds which take forever to loose I lost 90 pounds in 6 months but after that couldn’t lose the last ten pounds for like 8 more months

      1. So, increase your caloric intake with sensible foods for a few days (No junk foods, sweet soft drinks or cookies). Same as always just a couple 100 more calories, then drop back down again. . It tricks your body/metabolism into kick starting itself out of the plateau. DO NOT GIVE UP! All that amazing work you’ve done and all the healthiness you’ve attained will get better and better. Muscle weighs more than fat, so the plateau could be the switch from fat to muscle especially if you’ve been vigorously exercising. Remember that every move you make is exercise/energy. For support Google the free App, CRONOMETER. I’ve lost 30 lbs using it since Feb 26. It definitely can be done. It’s a journey. 🤗

        1. 1 lb of fat weighs the same as 1 lb of muscle… 🙂 Sorry couldn’t resist! 1 lb of fat is bigger, than 1 lb of muscle by volume.

  3. Hey! I don’t know if you’ll see this or not but 30 pounds in a month would be a little unhealthy. I lost 30 pounds 2 years ago and what helped a lot what small things… Like leaving cast at home while I commuted from school to work so I wouldn’t stop and buy on the go chips (approx: 500 cal) I didn’t drink more water ut I heard this is helpful too. I always joined a team and club to hold me accountable for exercise. Calorie counting and using smaller spoons, plates, and eating slower helped me feel full with less food. I was 152-155 and went down to 118-122… Depending on how active I was and such… Hope this helps

    1. Hey Camilla,

      Absolutely we see this! Thanks for your response and congratulations on finding something that works for you. It can be really confusing and frustrating to find weight loss strategies that work and are sustainable. Nice work!

    2. How long did it take you to get down to 118- or 122 because that’s exactly my starting wieght and my ending weight goal. I’m just curious 🙂

    3. Can you tell me more about your journey? I have gone from 224 to 155 and now no weight is moving. Your insight would be appreciated. Thank You

      1. I believe she meant “cash” since it was in reference to buying chips from a vending machine & “h” is close to “t” on the keyboard.

    4. 20 lbs -30lbs typically is tough AND not usually the best because it also taxes the kidneys. Fat stores toxins, and the breakdown of that adipose tissue also exposes your excretion systems to those. Honestly I say, for someone working out often- aim for a particular body fat percentage over the generalized standard of weight. And try to make exercise, moderation of consumption, and raw foods a part of your daily/ weekly lifestyle, that way you’re able to easily suppress the poor effects of the other “irresponsible/reckless” areas of life when you succumb.

      I notice there’s a lot of reckoning & denial on this board from individuals who don’t want to accept that it’s a step by step journey (& battle) to rectify the poor choices that led them to this point of their lives. But…you can get past it. Just own up, step up, & remain CONSISTENT.

      1. Hey there Lee. Thanks for stopping by. I want to correct a few errors in your scientific logic in case someone misunderstands your comment:

        “Fat stores toxins, and the breakdown of that adipose tissue also exposes your excretion systems to those.”

        Toxins… “toxins” became a buzzword over the last couple decades. My guess is that it made complex chemistry easier to understand by creating a “bad guy.” There are certainly toxic substances (asbestos, nerve gas, lead, and other naturally-occurring poisons). But, by definition, a “toxin” is an antigenic poison or venom of plant or animal origin, especially one produced by or derived from microorganisms and causing disease when present at low concentration in the body.

        In the common vernacular of weight loss, a “toxin” is not actually a thing. I often times ask naysayers to show me the chemical formula of a “toxin.”

        Which brings me to adipose tissue (body fat). A human fat cell is made up of stored triglycerides (3 fatty-acid molecules attached to a glycerol molecule). The chemical makeup of a human body fat cell is identical to that of olive oil, for example — same color, same density, and the exact same chemical formula.

        HOWEVER, that’s not to say that there are no risk factors related to adipose tissue & kidney function.

        But the risk is not in the LOSING of body fat but in the STORAGE of excess body fat:

        “Increased visceral adipose tissue leads to renal glomerular hyperfiltration and hyperperfusion, which may lead to glomerular hypertrophy, proteinuria, and CKD development.” https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8014972/ for more reading.

        The fear in kidney problems from fat loss may come from a misunderstanding of WHAT actually happens to fat when it is lost. 84% of fat loss actually occurs through the respiratory system, NOT the kidneys. As O2 demands are increased by increased muscle mass, resting metabolism, and cardiovascular exercise, fat is excreted in the form of CO2 through exhalation. The remaining 16% of fat loss occurs through sweat, feces, and urine… none of which expose one to “toxins.”

        And regarding “reckoning & denial” — yeah, you’re right. Ideally, we’d all have a raw self-awareness to be able to admit when we’re wrong and course-correct.

        But just yesterday I had really shit end to my work day. I spent two hours dealing with a “Karen”, getting frustrated at a software malfunction, and left nearly all my tasks incomplete. I spent the rest of the night grumpy and stewing over the incident. I wasn’t present with my family and lost several precious hours that I could have enjoyed.

        Was I reckoning and in denial? Absolutely. I let external factors dictate my attitude and actions — both of which I control.

        Overweight and obese people — in my experience — are some of the most emotionally-intelligent and empathic people I encounter. They often are in charge of caring for people in distress (nurses & teachers have some of the highest rates of obesity by profession). Food is a way to control the chaos of so much empathy.

        After many years in this profession, I’ve found that the most effective way to help someone is to give them the empathy they give to others. And, to see my blind spots in them. Maybe I don’t struggle with food but I certainly struggle with being caring and present… perhaps the struggle is the same and the manifestation is different?

        Turning back to the “toxin” idea… if my goal is for people to have a better understanding of scientifically-supported, sustainable fat loss which would have been a better route: To call you out on your misunderstanding of basic chemistry or to take the time to patiently walk through the science?

        If our goal is to open our minds and change our habits, my guess is that patience and empathy win most of the time.

    1. Thanks for the question, Alexandra.

      tl;dr: Technically, yes, it is possible to lose 40 pounds in 2 months. Will it stay off? No. Will it be mainly water weigtht? Yes.

      However, there are two key things you should consider when you think about 40 “pounds”

      1. What type of “pounds” do you want to lose? For example, wrestlers and body builders will “cut” weight to qualify for a certain weight division in competition or leading up to a show. They will cut weight very quickly; often times up to 10 pounds the day before an event. This weight is primarily water. Losing water weight will make you *appear* leaner for a day or two but, ultimately, your body will either become severely dehydrated or return to a normal level of hydration. Many fad diets and crash diets show rapid weight loss. This weight is largely water.

      2. How do you lose fat? When most people talk about losing weight they’re actually talking about losing body fat. Losing body fat is pretty straightforward and simple, but it certainly is not easy. Whether your goal is to look better, feel better, have a better immune system, or have more energy — losing fat, NOT weight — is the thing that will get you there.

      As I mentioned, losing fat is simple but not easy.

      1 pound of fat = 3,500 calories

      For each pound of fat you lose, you must create a 3,500 calorie deficit (reduction).

      There are 3 ways to create a calorie deficit and you should do all 3 for the quickest results:
      1. Eat less calories
      2. Burn more calories through cardio and HIIT exercise
      3. Increase your metabolism by lifting weights

      For 1: Most people can reduce their current calorie intake significantly (~400-500kcal) by simply eating a big handful of vegetables at every meal. They fill you up with a bunch of fiber, making it difficult to overeat at meals.

      For 2: Find something safe for your cardio – biking, hiking, elliptical, etc. You want to breath moderately for 20-30 minutes 2-3 times/week. Find a gym and try a HIIT class if you’re bored on the elliptical. Avoid running at first since it has the highest injury rate of any exercise.

      For 3: Find a trainer or a class setting where you’re moving some heavier weights around. This will build up your lean muscles and increase your metabolism while you’re resting and even sleeping. You’ll be burning “free” calories all day & night just by increasing your lean body mass.

      By doing all 3 of the above you can expect to lose 1-2 pounds of fat per week. By following this protocol you’ll be certain that the weight you’re losing is fat, not water. You’ll also be confident that this “weight” (fat) will stay off.

      1. I’ve read about this far in your comments and am satisfied to say YES! Losing “weight” is not the right way to look at it, losing fat, maintaining muscle and health is!! It’s not a fad, or a diet, or a quick fix. Peoples bodies are built different, so the only way to look at it is to create a healthy lifestyle. This means eating Raw, exercise within your ability, and maintaining these life choices for a longevity. I so appreciate your patience in your responses and knowledge in the matter. Maybe don’t use ‘retard’ bc the person might not be a ‘retard’ but he might have just made a uneducated comment. Thanks for these tips! Trying hard to put them in place for the long term.

  4. Hi Matt,

    Just found this blog and am loving your advice. What are you thoughts on a Keto diet for weight loss?

    1. Any diet that results in someone consuming less calories over a period of time will result in weight loss. Some diets are more or less sustainable and some affect performance and brain function. If keto results in weight loss, no adverse side effects, and can be sustained for years on end then it’s a great solution. I always try to steer folks toward an evidence-based approach which is pretty simple: Eat lots of different, real foods; mostly plants & not too much. This keeps your diet open to any hurdles life may throw at you and is backed by a lot of science.

      1. I just hit 20lbs since early May. The last few pounds were tough, first 10 or so very easy (I wasn’t particularly overweight, just wanted to get cut again). It was almost completely due to my diet. Heavily restricted calories (200-400) cals for breakfast, not a large dinner, nothing else). I don’t get how you say that it’s just behavior that makes the weight loss non-linear. I maintained the same caloric intake (800-1200 cals) each and every day for the last month and a half (also was mainly eating Lean Cuisine so calories aren’t just estimates). I did a very small amount of exercise due to a torn shoulder and then pulled achilles while running. I also did research and adjusted my diet in order to minimize muscle loss. Aiming to lose 5-10 more the next few weeks.
        Along with my extremely consistent efforts contradicting your position that the non-linear weight loss is due to behavior changes, I don’t get how you say that it’s mainly on account of water loss either. I’ve been staying very hydrated the whole time. Unless you’re talking about the water stored in fat, in which case that’s still weight due to fat so idc. 23 yo male, 5’10”,183->163, ~45 days.

        1. Thanks for the questions, Charlie.

          Did you do body composition testing to monitor your weight loss? Some examples of Body Composition testing are Bod Pod, DEXA scan, InBody, or submersion.

          If you only used a scale to monitor your weight loss, it’s an incomplete picture to help steer you in the right direction.

          When you “lose weight” you could losing various substances: water, muscle tissue, waste, and fat. Keep in mind that water loss doesn’t necessarily mean hydration from drinking water. Inflammation can cause water retention, for example. Menstrual cycles can cause women to retain up to 10 pounds of additional fluids for another example.

          Losing water weight does mean one is dehydrated. It could mean you have a lower sodium diet which is causing you to retain less water as well. This is often a by-product of one “cleaning up” their diet.

          Lastly, the behavior part of non-linear weight loss occurs because of adaptation. Your body is designed to adapt to whatever circumstances it routinely experiences. For example, someone could start running a mile a day as a way to lose weight. If someone is carrying around extra weight (body fat), their body will shed the extra weight to allow it to adapt to their 1 mile-a-day routine. At a certain point, the body weighs exactly what it needs to in order to run a mile. If the runner wants to keep losing weight, they will need to change something about their routine. They could run 2 miles, run 1 mile faster, or reduce calories.

          The reason that weight (fat) loss is non-linear is because the person losing the weight will need to introduce new stimuli into the calorie-deficit equation. Eating more or less food. Working out more. Working out at a greater intensity. You get the idea.

      2. Hi Matt, your advice is good for these people who are struggling. I can tell you love what you do and want to help. Yes lifestyle changes are important. Included in that is raw vegetables as a big part of that WHOLE foods that is what our body needs. Yes calories are important and so is effective workouts. And yet, some people have problems with resistance to fat loss because of a set point from insulin resistance and thyroid issues. For them and a lot of people they need to go beyond the traditional eat less and workout more formula. They need to do intermittent or time restrictive eating. This involves not a “diet “ per say, but eating the same amount of calories in a day but go longer without food to give the digestive system a break and training the body to be a fat burner vs a glucose burner. The body is more likely to turn to fat stores and burn the fat and in the process heal the body from alot of dis -eases. Here are just a few of the science based results from intermittent fasting:
        Raises HGH
        Body becomes insulin sensitive
        Stem cell production increased after 3 day fast
        Burns body fat
        Thyroid free T 3 and TSH starts to normalize
        Other body functions start to normalize- blood pressure , triglycerides etc

        As you can see our genetics are devised to fast and have periods of feasting. With using intermittent fasting and eating Whole Foods instead of sugar and junk food and other poisons we can support our bodies to do their job and lose those pesky pounds .

        Keep up the good work Matt in helping people. And all of the rest of you, just know that you have the power in you from your creator and it’s your right to be happy and healthy

        1. Great points, Mary.

          For folks who have had a consistent, documented routine for 12+ weeks and have not seen their desired results, it is a good idea to get blood work done.

          But – and I can’t stress this enough – DO NOT self diagnose thyroid or insulin resistance. Get the blood work from a licensed functional medicine physician. Your body is an ever-changing network of complex chemistry that is impossible to evaluate on feeling alone.

          So before going down the road of elimination diets, keto, IF, etc… get your blood work checked. The current literature on the effectiveness of Intermittent Fasting and keto (claims of “fat” and “glucose” burning) are highly dependent on genetics.

          In the example of ketogenic diet, there are 5 single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) associated with individuals who experience weight loss on the ketogenic diet. Why start such an extreme diet without knowing if your genetics would respond well? https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7841814/

          Thankfully we live in a time when we can answer these questions with technology and science. Always get your blood work before and every 12 weeks (or whatever your doc recommends) when starting any elimination, fasting, or no-carb diet.

  5. Hi Matt, I don’t if you will see this. I’m 145 lbs and i want to go down to 121 lbs. I would want it as soon as possible, but not if I’m just gonna gain it back. I want to lose the fat. I go for a run everyday 30 mins its a hilly area so there are a lot of ups. I then workout for an hour, floor exercises mainly like crunches, sit ups , mountain climbers, bur pees, etc. Its very hard for me to do push ups . I try my best though. Once school reopens in august , I’ll be going to the gym so I can do some weight lifting too. I’m drinking more water. Eating healthy. I eat 800 to 1200 calories every day. I don’t know when i should start seeing results, because i get really demotivated when i don’t see any and then i don’t wanna continue. Please Answer 🙂

    1. Hey Mary! Thanks for reaching out with your questions.

      First, let’s take a look at the science behind your goals.

      If you want to lose 30 pounds of body fat, you’ll need to create a 105,000 kcal deficit. You create this deficit in 3 ways. It seems that people have success when they put equal effort in all 3 areas. They are:

      1. Eat less
      2. Burn more calories by doing cardio
      3. Increase your resting metabolism by lifting weights & doing HIIT

      Next, let’s set some expectations on a timeline. For most who aren’t in the category of having 100+ pounds to lose, a reasonable expectation is to lose 1 pound of body fat per week.

      So let’s say you start today. You can expect to reach your goals by February or March. Let’s assume the standard holidays and time off, you may be pushing that back to April.

      That’s a long time.

      So, the real question YOU need to answer is: “Do I LOVE the way I’m going about this?”

      You’ll really need to fall in love with the process. Find a workout routine you love and makes you feel proud. Learn about cooking healthy food that tastes amazing. Buy a nice kitchen knife… you get the idea.

      Now let’s look at some specific items you brought up.

      1. At 145 pounds, we could assume (this is something you should absolutely get tested though… I’m just making an educated guess) that your Basal Metabolic Rate is around 1300-1500 kcal.

      2. You mentioned you work out for 90 minutes per day. Let’s assume this results in an additional caloric load of 600. Again… a rough estimate without measuring but you’ll see my point.

      3. Let’s combine your Basal Metabolic Rate with your exercise calories and estimate that your total daily caloric requirement is 2,000. But, you’re only eating 1,000.

      4. Based on these numbers you should be losing 2 pounds of body fat each week. 1 pound of fat = 3,500 calories.

      5. If you are NOT seeing a 2 pound per week loss, then we need to look elsewhere:

      5a. You may be consuming more calories than you think.

      5b. You’re not consuming ENOUGH calories. Believe it or not, your body will “hold on” to excess body fat if it is underfed. This is a survival mechanism that allows us to survive a pretty long time without food.

      5c. You might be too cardio-heavy in your workouts. We see this in a lot of older endurance athletes – they run & bike like crazy but keep adding on weight. This is because the caloric requirements of cardio are very high, so endurance athletes tend to have a big appetite. But cardio does not do a good job of burning calories while at rest. HIIT & weight training help you burn more calories while at rest and while you’re asleep.

      Take a look at those factors and see if you don’t start to see the results you’re after. You’re not alone when it comes to getting demotivated. This is key in my experience. To find the things about the journey you LOVE. You’ll wake up one day a year from now and realize that you DID lose those 30 pounds. Like a watched pot, a watched scale never changes.

  6. What a discouraging article. I just recently lost 20 lbs through just diet alone. It took me 3 months. 0 exercise. Just eating a little better and picking the times I eat worked just fine. You don’t have to do half the crap you said. Lol

    1. LOL… Yes. You’re absolutely correct, Christopher. You don’t need to work out to create a calorie deficit. As I mentioned, this can be done through burning calories in cardio. Increasing your metabolism through weight training. Eating less calories.

      Obviously, by combining these efforts you can lose weight quicker than by only using 1 strategy.

      In my (anecdotal) experience training several thousand people through weight loss I’ve found that exercise is a good catalyst for people to think about eating better. You’re in a rare category of people that change their eating habits consistently and sustainably through weight loss. You should be proud!

  7. Thank you for the article Matt. As someone whose weight has fluctuated her entire life due to crash diet, I appreciate your realistic and sustainable approach. What most people lack is patience and consistency, which are both extremely hard to adopt. I hope people understand that although you can lose weight fast (which I have too, several times), it comes with a cost of slower metabolism and mental health problems with food.

    1. Thanks so much for your perspective! You’re spot on and your experience is very common. The most successful – and lasting – weight loss experiences tend to be ones where the person “forgets” that they’re trying to lose weight; that they almost wake up and realize “huh… I lost that 40 pounds without realizing it.” It’s all about loving the process.

  8. Hello, I have lost 4 pounds in my first week and im worried about rebounding this weight, I cut to about 1000 calories each day and exercise (cardio) for half an hour. I want to lose 20 pounds and im enjoying this process so far but I dont want to risk gaining it all back and more soon after I lose it, I started at 69.5kg. (I’ve been this weight for about two years) and im now 67.4kg, I understand that this may mostly be water weight but im not too sure what to do now, I dont want to affect my metabolism harshly as im 19.

    1. Congratulations on starting your journey. A few things to think about as you continue through weeks 2 and beyond:

      1. Manage expectations: Plan for 20 pounds to take you between 4-6 months. Also plan on losing your motivation in about 5 weeks. What is your plan when you no longer feel motivated? Finding a weight loss or workout buddy seems to be a way to double your likelihood of success.

      2. Cutting calories: How many calories were you consuming prior to your cut to 1,000? If you were eating 1,500 or less on average, then a cut to 1,000 may be sustainable. 500 kcals/day reduction is about the max you want to make for sustainability.

      3. Weight training: Try to add in some heavy weight training 2-3 days per week and keep cardio the other 2-3 days. Seeing as you’re still young, you’ll respond very favorably and quickly to weight training. This will increase your metabolism due to adding lean muscle mass. You’ll also have the added benefit of increasing your bone density early on in life… something especially important for women. But be sure to do BODY COMPOSITION testing if you go this route. You will gain weight when your lean mass and bone density increases. Don’t let the scale be a deterrent here.

      Keep it up, Jane. You got this!

        1. You’re correct, Kat. A low Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR) of 1,000kCal (+/- 200) would generally be applicable to either very, very small older adults (think: less than 5′, 100 pounds, over 50 years) OR larger toddlers in the 30-45 pound range.

          Things that affect BMR are: age and tissue surface area (fat and muscle).

          More muscle mass = higher metabolism.

          So a 150 pound adult with 9% bodyfat will have a higher BMR than the same adult with 35% bodyfat.

          And – counterintuitively – the adult with 9% bodyfat will actually need to consume MORE calories than the 35% adult to maintain their lower bodyfat % because the additional lean tissue requires more calories to maintain. The 35% adult has more stored energy to sustain their lean tissue and can get by on less calories.

          If someone’s BMR is 1,500, for example, consuming 1,000kcal per day as a “cut” is not out of the realm of possibility. A 500cal deficit is pretty reasonable. Now, this person’s “cut” will likely result in more lean tissue through lifting weights. More lean tissue = higher metabolism. Higher metabolism = higher calorie requirements. So the 1,000kcal daily intake shouldn’t be a permanent one if someone is doing it correctly (lifting weights, eating lean protein).

  9. Hi Matt: Not sure you can help me at all because your commenters all sound young. I am 79 this month and currently weigh 150 pounds, 5 ft. 2 inches tall and have weighed between 147-154 for a long time. I have good muscle mass in my legs and arms, have been active most of my life. I’m motivated to lose 10% which equals 15 pounds, no set timeline. I have several physical issues that would prevent me from your cardio suggestions. I’m most bothered by lumbar scoliosis (late life) which is painful at all times. I was a runner in my late 30’s to my 50’s and have been a walker for over twenty years,I try to walk for 30-45 minutes 3-4xwk. After retirement I put on about 15 pounds, my doctor recommended I lose wt. to improve my hemoglobinA1-3 numbers which are pre diabetes 2, adult onset. I have educated myself thru the years on nutrition and diet so I can’t claim ignorance of what a good diet consists of, but sticking to it is difficult. I also have hand/wrist joint problems so lifting weights is out, except for my 3 pound hand weights I use about 4xwk. I would appreciate any comments or suggestions you might share with me.

    1. First off, Mary thanks for the question & comments! And I want to congratulate you on taking such a proactive approach to your health and setting a great example for how we can get the most out of life in retirement. I firmly believe that quality of life should be consider just as much as quantity. Kudos!

      As far as exercise goes, keep up your current routine! That sounds great. Doing something you love that is pain free is the best medicine.

      I’d only add one thing for your workouts… Find a good personal trainer or physical therapist. I think it’s really important for adults in retirement to maintain basic range of motion and strength. This will help you navigate your home independently for as long as possible while reducing fall risks and consequences should they happen.

      You don’t need to see a trainer everyday because that can get expensive. Even if you saw a trainer once a week or twice a month they can give you “homework” to do between sessions. They’ll help modify movements so you can do them pain-free. You can supplement 2 days/week of strength training to your current walking routine.

      As far as weight loss is concerned that will be primarily determined by nutrition. There are 2 main additions that you can make to your diet that will dramatically improve your body composition & overall health. First, make sure that 1/2 your plate is covered in non-starchy vegetables at every meal. Get as many different colors as you can. Secondly, make sure that you’re eating adequate amounts of lean protein each day. Things like chicken breast, fish, and lean cuts of meat. You should be consuming 3-4 palm-sized pieces of protein each day. I’d be wiling to bet that those 2 tiny changes to your diet would yield incredible results.

      Let us know how it goes!

  10. Hey. I am a very big basketball athlete. I workout everyday and play basketball everyday. I am 5’9″ and weigh 164. I want to drop this weight by 20 pounds. I want to do it asap but in a healthy way. I do have a ton of muscles and am fit but I want to get skinnier. Can you walk me through the fasted way possible to loose those 20 pounds. PLEASEEEEEEEEEE RESPOND!!!!!!! I HAVE BEEN SO WORRIED ABOUT MY WEIGHT!!!!!!!!!!

    1. Hi Kathline,

      While it may sound strange, worrying about your weight will most certainly have the opposite of your desired effect. No matter what diet or exercise routine you start, doing so out of worry almost guarantees failure.

      What’s a goal that you want to achieve? What will that weight loss allow you to accomplish? How will it make you feel?

      The psychological challenges of weight loss are more difficult to tackle than the biology. I’ve found that — by channeling an activity or feeling — weight loss happens as a by-product. For example: let’s say you would feel more confident if you lose those 20 pounds. What else would make you feel confident? Try a new sport, travel, learn to do a cartwheel or climb a rope, buy some new shoes. Whatever you can think of will work. The key is to find things that make you feel the way you imagine weight loss will make you feel and to do them while you’re on a path to weight loss. But one thing is certain: Fixating on weight loss NEVER leads to weight loss.


      Let’s answer the question at hand: “Can you walk me through the fastest way possible to lose those 20 pounds?”

      First follow up question: Do you have 20 pounds to lose? Is this realistic?

      Here’s some info I’d need before I could answer your question:

      – Your age
      – Body fat %
      – Lean muscle mass
      – Activity level
      – Current calorie intake

      5’9″ and 164# is a very healthy weight, especially for a very athletic & active person. But, not knowing your specific body composition it’s tough to tell. There are some potential scenarios, however. Again, go get body composition testing and chat with a professional.

      If you are training twice per day (working out + bball) AND your body fat % is on the high end for female athletes (over 25%) you may be UNDER eating. This is a common occurrence for very active females who do multiple daily training sessions. As strange as it sounds, by eating MORE food on a daily basis these athletes end up dropping body fat.

      A second scenario if your body fat % is on the high end for athletics is that you may be doing too much cardio and not enough resistance training. If your “workout” session involves hard breathing THEN you play basketball, this is likely the case. We see this in a lot of triathletes & endurance runners. Lots of cardio gets your body used to burning glycogen (sugar) stores during training sessions but then your metabolism would slow WAY down in your non-training times. Doing equal resistance training to cardio + adequate protein intake will boost your resting metabolism.

      But keep open the possibility that you may be way too hard on yourself… especially if you’re still in high school or your early 20s. You’re an athlete with a genetic gift to be great at basketball. Focus on that, no matter how difficult it may be. Who do you want to drop 20 pounds for? Is it yourself and your performance? Will it improve your game? Or is it because you’re comparing yourself to others?

      Chances are the people you’re comparing yourself to don’t have much going on elsewhere. In 10 years they’ll be sad and average. Channel your gifts and develop some grit on the court. You’ll be amazed at what that will do for your future. If losing 20 pounds is something you still want, that grit will be the key ingredient. If it turns out not to be what you want, you’ll have developed to the tools to do whatever that is. Keep it up and go easy on yourself.

  11. Hi Matt, I’ve read your answers and they all seem amazing. I want some advice for my weight loss journey. I am 160pounds,170cm,22 yr old female. I am a bit muscly naturally and have broad bone structure. I was wondering what’s a realistic weight loss goal for me? I don’t want to slow down my metabolism. For this I am consuming high protein diet and about 1200 calories. Further, I do body weight training exercise (from Google app) 30 minutes per day 4 times a week. And 15 minutes cardio 3 times per day.
    How much should I expect to lose? Can body weight training be substituted for weight lifting? Thanks for reading 🙂

    1. Thanks for the questions, Ped.

      First off, you should begin by getting a body composition scan. There are two small things you mentioned in passing that would be good to put really tangible numbers to: “I am a bit muscly naturally and have broad bone structure.”

      Now, you may mean this positively; as a source of pride in an athletic, capable build. Unfortunately, women rarely mean this in a positive light. In order to gain some insight into how we perceive our bodies, I strongly recommend you put some tangible numbers to “muscly” and “broad bone structure.” The scans will be able to measure your bone density AND muscle mass. Then, you can see how this compares over time and to other people who are your same height, weight, and age.

      The other benefit you can get from a body composition scan is your Basal Metabolic Rate. This is based upon your lean muscle mass, weight, and age. Without knowing that number, I cannot comment on whether or not 1200 calories is an appropriate deficit. If you are, in fact, an athletic build then 1200 calories is likely too few calories to see fat loss without other adverse affects. As a general rule you should subtract 500 calories from your Basal Metabolic Rate + activity. Here’s an example using my Basal Metabolic Rate:

      My BMR = 1850
      90 minutes of intense exercise = 600kcal
      BMR + Activity = 2450
      2450 – 500 = 1950kcal

      Keep in mind these are very rough numbers and simply an estimate, but you get the idea.

      By creating this 500 calorie deficit, one could expect to lose 1-2 pounds of body fat each week – the rate at which the fat will stay off. If you’re losing more than that, you’re probably losing water and muscle… and the weight will come back.

      To answer your exercise questions:

      For something to truly be considered “cardio” you should be training in the 25 minute+ zone. 2-3 cardio sessions/week would be plenty during the early stages of fat loss. Try to work at a level where you’re breathing heavily yet still able to speak full sentences. As you get in better cardio shape you’ll need to ramp up the pace of your cardio to keep the same “breathing hard but still able to speak” stimulus. Keeping track of your times & splits can help keep you accountable to this goal.

      Body weight exercises can TOTALLY substitute weight training — especially if your gym is closed due to quarantine. The only downside to not using weights for your resistance training is that your body will adapt to the stimulus fairly quickly. The benefit to using weights is that you simply swap out the weight for something heavier after a few weeks of the exercise. But, you can still achieve a new stimulus using body weight exercise. Here are a few ways I like to vary the same movements so that I still get good results:

      – Speed up the reps
      – Slow down the lower phase of the rep
      – Do more repetitions
      – Create a dynamic phase of the movement
      – Vary your rest periods

      Let’s use the bodyweight squat as our example here and create a 6-week squat workout using the above variations:

      Week 1: 4 sets of 15 Bodyweight Squats with 2 minutes rest b/t sets.
      Week 2: 4 sets of 25 seconds of as many bodyweight squats as possible with 1 minute rest b/t sets. Go hard and fast.
      Week 3: 4 sets of 15 squats with a 4 second SLOOOOW descent into the bottom, 3 min rest.
      Week 4: 3 sets of 30 squats, 2 min rest.
      Week 5: 5 sets of 8 jumping squats, 90 sec. rest
      Week 6: 3 sets of 40 squats, 5 min. rest

      Hopefully that gives you a general idea of how you can change things up and still see results without needing weights. But remember: weights will NOT make you “bulky” or more “muscly.” As a general rule, weight loss is easier using weights so they shouldn’t be avoided unless they’re not accessible to you.

      Lastly, “How much should I expect to lose?”

      You should expect to lose 1-2 pounds of body fat per week until your body reaches an ideal composition for your genetics & activity level. Again, it’s tough to say exactly how much without having more information about your current body composition. If you’re 160lbs with 12% bodyfat… you shouldn’t expect — nor attempt – to lose any weight. That’s a VERY low bodyfat % for someone your age. If you’re able to get a composition test complete, come back and let us know the results so we can provide a little more guidance.

      But – above all – aim to make the process enjoyable. Find something you love to do for exercise and learn to love your body for its capabilities above appearance. You’ll wake up one day and find you’ve accepted your body and will feel more motivated to achieve your composition goals. Keep it up!

  12. Hello, I have a question:)!! I really look forward to hearing back from you. You seem to be giving out great advice! So I’m currently 25, and I weight 187. It’s the biggest iv’e ever been my entire life. I feel pretty disgusted with myself and really want to get down to 118-120. I am a full time student as 2ell as working full time so I developed some pretty bad eating habits and want to get back to where I was before. I have heard alot of great things about keto, and want to give it a try. I have downloaded an app called carb manager, which I feel is very supportive and helps me stay on track because I input everything.
    The app is telling me that at 5″5 and my current weight of 187, I should be having 1400 calories, and this is with the idea that I will be sedentary. Now my question is, there is an option to lower my calorie deficit to -35% calorie deficit which then says I will be cutting my calories to 1243 a day. At this rate it says I will loose aprox 5.1 pounds a month. Now I personally altered my calorie deficit to that amount which was the lowest I was able to go while following a ketogenic diet. Is that bad that I am not following what the app recommended and decided to only consume 1243 a day. The app also said it would adjust my calorie intake according to my updated weight, but I wanted to loose 5.1 pounds a month versus 2.6 pounds a month like the app recommended. My last question would then be, if I follow a 1200 calorie deficit from the beggining will that stall my weight loss sooner? And if I choose to excersise while following the 1243 calorie deficit, will that be bad as well? So essentially should I follow what the app is suggesting which is have 1450 cals a day or can I follow 1243 and still keep the weight off. Once i am done keto for 10 months i plan on slowly incorporating carbs back into my diet, while still exercising and intermittent fasting. I look forward to hearing back from you !:)))

    1. Thanks for the questions, Christina! I’ll try to unpack them as best as possible:

      “I feel pretty disgusted with myself”

      There are some instances where some negative experiences or feelings push us to make positive changes. Think of a bad breakup or the loss of a loved one. Sometimes these tragedies are just the push we need to get our shit together.

      But more often than not, negative motivation expires within 2-3 weeks. Feelings of “gross” or “disgust” result in what we refer to as a shame spiral. There will be slip-ups on this journey that will elicit a negative feeling… that feeling is OK. However, you must have a positive goal to re-direct your actions. Otherwise, the shame of a slip up will result in you completely falling off the wagon.

      So, I’ll challenge you: what is something positive you will look toward as your weight loss goal? Is there an event in 6-months you could look forward to? A beach vacation to look forward to? A test you want to be your best for? Graduation? The reason that brides-to-be are nearly 100% successful in their pre-wedding weight loss is that there is a positive goal on the horizon (they also gain the weight back because they don’t create a new goal after the wedding).

      Keep in mind that any other strategies will fail unless you can find more positive feelings about yourself. Now, on to the tactics:


      Keto is an elimination diet. As with all elimination diets, there are benefits and drawbacks. The main benefit of elimination diets is that there are very clear-cut rules to follow. These “rules” create bright lines of pass/fail to ensure adherence. Elimination diets usually have an economy around them, too. There are products, apps, gurus, and influencers that create an ecosystem around selling aspects of the diets. This often results in an echo-chamber of people claiming the universal benefits of the diets.

      There are some potential drawbacks to a ketogenic diet, however. The Keto diet is based upon some evidence that your body will produce ketones in the absence of glucose (carbohydrates) to fuel your body’s major organ systems. Unfortunately, there is not much evidence to demonstrate that EVERYONE produces these ketones at the same rate. The evidence seems to show that these ketones are produced in adequate levels in people with northern European and nordic ancestry.

      Why is this important?

      Your brain’s preferred fuel source is glucose. And your brain consumes about 20% of your daily calories… so glucose is a very important resource for your brain function. Keto supporters will say that your body adapts over the course of a month or so to deliver a glucose substitute to help your brain. It seems that this only happens for a small percentage of people who have a genetic adaptation to high-fat diets.

      That being said, if you do plan to remain sedentary and you DON’T experience brain fog… Keto may be a great option for you. As a student, it will be important that you keep an eye on your mental sharpness. This is an indicator that your body is NOT producing adequate ketones to fuel your brain. This is NOT something that you should “push through” as the keto gurus will say.


      Start off by getting a body composition scan and Basal Metabolic Rate if you’re serious about weight loss.

      If you’re sedentary, reduce your basal metabolic rate by 500 calories and you will lose 1/2-1 pound per week. Any more than that and you’ll likely gain it back.


      There are two things that are a big red flag when it comes to gaining the weight back:

      – Elimination diets
      – Big calories cuts

      Since you’re considering doing both of these, my strong recommendation is to not do either. But if you must do one… only do one.

      If you’re set on the keto route, do the 1400 cut. If you opt to eat reasonable portions of veggies, meat, and minimal starch/fruit you can do a more aggressive calorie cut since you’ll have a wider variety of nutrients to fuel your body. And if you decide to add in some exercise, you’ll be able to add back in some calories so you’re not as hungry throughout the day.

      But I hope your main takeaway (and I mean this will a ton of love) is that you have the trifecta of failure brewing: Negative self-talk, fad diet, and extreme calorie cut. Sometimes folks can be successful with 1 of these. But never with all 3.

      Can you think of any ways to approach your goals with more compassion and sustainability? Trust me – you’re worth it.

    1. 1. Get a body composition test every 4 weeks
      2. Lift heavy weights 2 days/week
      3. Do 25 minutes of cardio 2 days/week
      4. Eat plenty of protein and a ton veggies
      5. Plan to do all of the above consistently for 6 months

      You’ll lose 20 pounds GUARANTEED and you’ll feel amazing. Good luck & let us know how it goes!!!

  13. What’s up Matt,

    First, I’d like to say that I love all of your feedback to everyone else. You hit all their talking points & answer all of their questions. You seem very intelligent and have a great understanding of fitness and nutrition!

    I know that I can lose 20 lbs OF FAT in 20 weeks. So my question to you is can I expect to lose 20 lbs of fat in just 10 weeks? (by mid December?) and also, can I safely eat bacon everyday without harming myself??

    To give some insight on my current situation: I just turned 26 years old this September. I am a 5’8” male & I currently weight 192 lbs. I weigh myself every morning right after I use the bathroom and I record my weight in my phone. I have a scale that tells me my BF% (I know, not the MOST reliable lol) but I have also used other methods like the picture method (comparing yourself to other BF photos), I have used measuring tape to record the measurements of my neck, wrist, waist, hips, chest, etc. to compute on multiple online BF calculators and it seems that I can assume to be anywhere from 17%-20% BF (probably on the higher end of that range being honest with myself). I do have a pretty ‘fit’ looking physique, especially with clothes on, but I want to get lean and have that body building look WITHOUT clothes on. I carry most of my excess fat above my quads & below my shoulders. I would probably feel confident with my physique at around 12% body fat.

    As far as my workout routine, I do know my way around the gym, but now I would consider myself somewhat of a detrained athlete since COVID. The gyms in my state just opened Sept 1st & I haven’t lifted (or worked out at all for that matter; no HIIT, no LISS, no nothing) since March before my gym closed. Needless to say, I had horrible DOMS my first 2 weeks back from going too hard way too fast. My recovery has been much better now since the re-acclimation. Because I am so out of shape, I lift 6 days per week, doing a push/pull/leg split. So I train chest/shoulders/triceps Monday & Thursday, back/biceps/traps Tuesday & Friday, quads/hamstrings/glutes Wednesday & Saturday, then rest Sunday. I lift fairly heavy (8-12 rep range) during my high volume days (Monday/Tuesday/Wednesday). 3 days per week I perform light cardio immediately after my workout on my lighter volume days (Thursday/Friday/Saturday) which consist of treadmill walking on an incline set to 15 for 10-15 minutes or cycling on a incline set to 15 for 10-15 minutes. All & all I find myself in the gym on average for about 1 to 1.5 hours per day. I enjoy lifting weights.

    So you might have guessed my problem now! yes, my diet sucked. That’s why I gained soooo much weight during quarantine. In mid-March I weighed in at 173 lbs, and I was decently lean to the point where you’d definitely consider me an athlete. My issue before was that I couldn’t get any bigger, but during quarantine I was eating everything in sight and not training at all so I put on 20 lbs. I never really cared about losing fat or cardio because I was always naturally skinny. I still have skinny wrists and ankles, but now I’m carrying so much more fat than I’m used to. A lot of my pants don’t even fit me anymore. I didn’t realize how bad it was because I still look fit for the most part and my strength in the gym has actually increased since March but that may just be due to the extra weight I’m carrying now.

    So for the first time I have started tracking calories and macronutrients. Using online calorie calculators I believe at my current height, weight, and activity level I burn about 2800 calories per day. (maybe more, but I’d rather go with the lower denominator to ensure I lose weight since that is my goal).

    I want to cut my daily caloric intake to 1800 calories in an effort to lose 2 lbs of fat per week to get back to where I’m satisfied with my physique as quickly and safely as possible. However, everyone that I explained this to in a different online forum basically screamed at me because apparently my deficit is too drastic, which is why I am seeking your opinion. I have done a decent amount of online research on weight loss and it seems that 2 lbs of body fat is a realistic goal if your diet & workout routine is in check.

    The diet I had planned would be 1815 calories per day (for week 1) consisting of 194g Carbs(45%), 164g(35%)Protein, and 40g(20%)Fat. I as my weight decreased I’d probably shed off 10 calories per week in the form of carbs. The diet also consisted of things that are easy for me to make like bacon & eggs everyday for breakfast, (yes I got yelled at for that too lol) but even eating exactly 2 scrambled eggs, and 2 strips of bacon per day my diet consisted of 64g sugar, 630mg cholesterol, and 3305mg of sodium. I have no prior health complications nor do they run in my family, I live a very active lifestyle, I’m young, and I drink 80 oz of water per day, so is bacon every day(2 strips of Oscar Meyer uncured bacon) really that big of a deal?

    I’m sure I ranted plenty but I wanted to be as thorough as I could about my situation. I apologize for making that so long winded, but if you make it to the end and can address my main concerns about 1.) if I can realistically lose 2 lbs of fat with that kind of deficit and training regimen and also 2.) if eating 2 measly strips of bacon every day (that does fit into my macros) will kill me lol.

    Sorry again for the long novel I wrote you, but I don’t hope you see it and get back to me. In the mean time I’ll be eating 2260 calories per day, with roughly the same macronutrient percentages to ensure that I’m still working towards my goal, but if you agree that it’s ok try a steeper deficit then I’ll go ahead with my original plan because I really want to get in shape as quickly as possible, and everywhere I search up online tells me 2 lbs of body fat is a plausible weight loss expectation. Ok I’m rambling again, I’m just going to publish this now & hope you read it all lol.

    1. AWESOME question and details, Chris.

      let’s start off where you’re kicking ass:

      – Lifting heavy weights in the 8-12 rep range.
      – Macros look great.
      – You’re consistent in your training.
      – Great mindset.

      So don’t change anything there!

      Let’s dissect a few things:


      In order to achieve the fat loss associated with cardio you’ll need to be working in the 20-25 minute zone. While the 15 minutes of walking will certainly help with the DOMS it is doing very little for your cardiovascular system nor your fat loss.

      If you only have 15 minutes, consider doing a HIIT or Tabata-style workout during that time. While you may not be breaking any 5k records you will experience EPOC – Excess Post Oxygen Consumption. For conditioned folks (like yourself) HIIT can have the same fat loss benefits as cardio. BUT the tradeoff is that – in order to achieve these benefits – you do need to PUSH it during the working periods of your intervals. So you can either add 10 minutes to each cardio session OR do a 9-15 minute INTENSE HIIT session a few times per week. Mix it up and keep it fun.

      Enjoy! As long as it fits in your macros and you have no genetic predisposition to hypertension you should be all good. The sodium could be a concern for hypertension so just keep that in mind. Remember to track, however. Fat is the most calorically dense and tastiest of the macros. So folks tend to go over their caloric intake in fat if they don’t keep a close eye. Dietary cholesterol and heart disease linkage seems to be up for debate in the literature as of the last few years with no direct causation.

      And now – unfortunately – I need to poke some holes in your plan.

      If you were 100lbs+ overweight and sedentary then I would be more comfortable with the 2 pounds/week plan. Seeing as you’re trying to get cut, stay strong, and be active you may be doing more harm than good. Remember, there are 3 ways you can create a caloric deficit:

      – Eat less
      – Move more
      – Increase your resting metabolism

      You’re currently doing all 3… nice work! But you have placed a heavy importance on #3, which is a solid route to take. But remember: in order to increase your metabolism you need to add muscle. In order to add muscle, you need to consume just the right amount of calories to fuel growth without excess bodyfat. In looking at your training regimen & volume, a 1,000kcal deficit would most certainly have a wasting effect. The result will be a lower muscle mass (lower metabolism) + a hangry, moody Chris. No bueno for anyone.

      So try this:

      – Stop weighing yourself daily & opt for weekly weigh-ins.
      – Create a 500kcal deficit for 4 weeks.
      – If muscle is going up at the 4 week mark, you can create a more aggressive deficit but only in 100kcal increments for ~2 weeks at a time.
      – If your muscle growth stalls, go back up in calories to the 500kcal deficit.

      Remember that by fueling lean growth you’re in effect creating a “macro-deficit.” So you may be still be at a 500kcal deficit from your original cut but your Basal Metabolic Rate will go up as you add lean tissue. So you may be actually creating a new, 700kcal deficit while only eating 500kcal less. Does that sort of make sense?

      Think of it like this:
      I want to chop down a tree over the course of the next month but I can only work on it for 30 minutes after work. I can use a hatchet and complete the job in a full month. I can use a full-sized axe and get it done in 2 weeks. Or, I can use a chainsaw and get it done in 2 days. I can also run my truck into it at 50 MPH and knock it over. Each method gets the job done but each has unintended consequences. The 1,000kcal cut would be like the truck method. Try to find a sweet spot combination between the chainsaw and the full-sized axe.

      Good luck and keep us posted!

        1. Yes you will most certainly look skinnier when you lose 20-40 pounds of water weight. Body builders, wrestlers, and brides-to-be do this all the time.

          But they do it for an event. An event that takes place over the course of a single day. But the pictures or medals last a lifetime 🙂

          So if you want to look skinnier for a day, you can work with someone who really knows what they’re doing to cut water over the course of about a week leading up to that event. You risk serious kidney damage when you do this so I STRESS: Work with a professional.

          Kidney and liver damage along with brain “fog” are common side effects of chronic dehydration. Since these three are all vital organs your body will begin to retain more water, crave salty foods, and find a balance point again. You’ll gain back the water in a month or so. You will likely gain back MORE than before because your body will retain more and more water as a reaction to the dehydration.

          Furthermore, women can experience up to a 10 pound fluctuation in fluid retention throughout normal menstrual cycles. So – by using water weight as a metric – women risk aiming at a moving target without accurate measurements (i.e. body composition scan).

        2. Hi Matt,

          So I’ve actually lost 20.4 lbs in about 2.5 months simply by making drastic, initially difficult, but now enjoyable lifestyle modifications. This is due to several factors occurring simultaneously- a job change allowing remote work, a dramatic shift in financial capacity that has allowed for signing up to multiple fitness centers, hiring a personal trainer, and enlisting the help of a post-workout recovery center (cryo, sauna,, hyperbaric, massage, etc) to enable both positive reinforcement and increased socializing. I was also obese (and am still overweight, though no longer obese in terms of BMI) due to poor nutrition, lack of exercise, and poor sleep.

          New regiment:
          0630 – 0715: F45 circuit training (daily)
          1800 – 1830: Personal Training (Tuesdays and Thursdays)
          1840 – 1900: cryotherapy M, W, F
          1800 – 1900: sauna T, Th
          Weekends- massage, hyperbaric chamber, stretch therapy

          Supplements: multivitamin, avmecol, d3, k2, fish oil, coq10, probiotic
          Water intake target: 64 oz

          Caloric daily target: 1500-1800 cal per day (I’m a small guy)
          Apps: myfitnesspal, fitbit, mindbody, trainerize

          Starting weight on Jan 26: 180 lbs
          Current weight (Apr 6): 159.6 lbs

          Starting body fat %: 32%
          Current body fat %: 23.4%

          It was a gradual approach that started with going to circuit training 1x per week, then 3x, and now daily (scaled over about 3 months). I think it takes much more than many realize (money, freedom, time, lifestyle, genuine desire, and certain personality characteristics), as well as negative social reinforcement as many of your peers fight against change…including the positive type.

          Fwiw I feel better than I have since I was in college, the bloodwork has dramatically improved, and I’m really looking forward to the next few months of progress. Note that every step of my process is closely monitored by my docs and trainers, which imo is really important. Feel free to reach out for more details and info, I’d be happy to share!

          1. That’s the good stuff, Richard! So happy to hear of all the progress you made and especially happy to hear that you’ve invested in your health. I wish more people had a better gauge of how expensive poor health can become later in life. It’s one of the safest and most profitable investments one can make.

            Also — I really appreciate how much you referenced how great you FEEL. Most people don’t realize that the path may suck at first but after 4-5 months you will realize how great you can feel in your day-to-day. Or, more accurately, how shitty you felt in your day to day previously.

            I would be interested to see what a slight (300ish) increase in calories does to your progress. I’ve seen instances where folks are doing multiple daily, intense training sessions and actually saw their progress SPEED UP by increasing caloric intake (specifically carbs around workouts and +25g protein). It tends to have an increased metabolic effect.

            But at any rate, thank you so much for sharing and I’d love to keep up with your progress.

  14. Hi, I’ve seen the amazing advice you’ve given people and wanted to get your advice for my situation. I am a female at 5’5″ and 135 lbs. I am not interested in gaining a lot of muscle but I know that lifting weights one of the most effective ways to lose weight because there is more muscle able to burn more calories. Two years ago I was at 125 lbs and managed to lose 10 lbs with intermittent fasting. However, I gained even more weight than I lost and I no longer fit into the clothes I used to wear. Even though I want to go to the gym, I have a busy schedule that doesn’t allow much time to exercise. How will I be able to lose the weight?

    1. Thanks for your question, Yun!

      You are the PERFECT candidate for body composition testing. With a weight range between 115-135 at 5’5″ your bodyfat/lean tissue could be all over the place. So it is a bit tough to dispense decent advice. Check out some local supplement shops and see if they have a bioelectric impedance scanner so you have a decent reference point on your lean muscle mass.

      There’s a clue in your question: “I am not interested in gaining a lot of muscle”

      We should, first, identify how much muscle you currently carry. Keep in mind that lifting weights is only about a 10-15% factor when it comes to how much muscle you’ll carry. Your genetics are the primary factor and your diet is the secondary. I’ve found that the women who have the genetic pre-disposition to put on A LOT of muscle (i.e. “bulky”) played college sports. And, if that’s the case, they are typically more in to what their body is capable of doing vs. how “muscly” it looks.

      If you’re in your 20s or 30s you may find that 135 pounds and 20% body fat has you feeling great and looking great. Bonus: with a little extra lean tissue your metabolism will be sky-high, leaving a little extra wiggle room for dessert or mimosas 🙂

      You only need 90 minutes of intense movement a week to see significant benefit.

      So start here:
      – Get your body composition tested.
      – Arrive at a bodyfat % goal (NOT weight)
      – Eat plenty of protein (100+ grams/day)
      – Report back and let us know the results.

      1. Hi Matt I lost 80 lb and three and a half months and I didn’t even know that I had lost it yes my clothes were getting big but I had so much stress I wasn’t paying attention to people started telling me oh My gosh is that you and there I said yes it’s me Barbara they couldn’t believe it I was going through a very stressful time with a family member that was using alcohol everyday and living with me and had to move out cuz it was too much for me I don’t drink it all and during that time that’s when the weight came up and I’ve been having most of my life what would cause this weight loss like this was it really stressed the only thing I can keep thinking of because I was still eating yes not as much because of the stress I was drinking pop and I wasn’t drinking as much as I used to that was another factor I guess to consider all that sugar is putting in my body that’s for sure but I’m just confused by when you have stress how your body can lose that much weight in that little bit of time what was reason for this. Thank you for listening

        1. Hi Barbara,

          Thanks for sharing your story with us. Wow… it sounds like it’s been a stressful year.

          Our bodies are surprisingly well-adapted to stress. In fact, a LOT of chemicals and hormones are released when we’re going through stressful times. Ghrelin (the hormone responsible for making us hungry) gets all out of whack. Sometimes this makes us very hungry and sometimes it makes us not able to eat at all. Cortisol is also released at very high levels. This hormone can give you energy and even shut down some functions that are considered non-essential in life-or-death situations. And that’s not even considering sleep deprivation — probably the worst by-product of stress.

          For tens of thousands of years, this stress response kept us alive in fight-or-flight situations. It would allow us to run far and fast from danger, burn excess energy, or even store excess fat for times of starvation.

          But we don’t live in a fight-or-flight world anymore. Our stress response was designed for physical danger. Not emotional, financial, or relational danger.

          Which is why it’s so important for people to understand the rate at which it is healthy to gain — or lose — weight.

          If you find yourself gaining or losing weight at a rate greater than 2 pounds per week — it is cause for concern. Thankfully, our bodies gain and lose weight pretty early on in the stress cycle. This should be a signal to seek professional medical attention. Especially considering that there are other indicators that will come later on that can be life threatening; cardiac issues being chief among them.

          If you’re still experiencing such rapid weight changes I’d highly encourage you to seek out professional medical advice from a MD. Keep up the good fight and be sure to care for YOURSELF as much, if not more, than your loved ones. Good luck!

  15. I came across this blog completely by accident. I was researching if my fat loss goals were unrealistic. I read your advice and it is exactly what I have been advised to do. I’m turning 50 in November of 2020. Most of my life I have worked out and stayed pretty fit. Then I turned 46 and premenopause hit. I had been having some personal issues and frankly just stopped caring. I was eating bad and not moving my body. I literally went from my bed to the sofa with constant stops to the fridge. I’m 5”1’ and I gained 28 lbs. None of my clothes fits, I didn’t even recognize my face in the mirror anymore, I was depressed and it was aweful.
    One day I was shopping and I saw my old workout partner from 15 years ago. She is a retired pro bodybuilder and owns a gym now with her husband. I saw her and was immediately embarrassed. I didn’t want her to see how fat I had gotten. I weighed 153lbs and at 5”1’ that shit was not healthy or cute. I walked away before she saw me and almost made out to my car before I started to cry. That was it for me. That was the day the switch flipped. I walked back into the store and found her. We started talking like no time had passed. I asked her for help. I told her I wanted to lose 20lbs by my birthday in November, it was August.
    On August 28, 2020 I walked into her gym to start my fat loss journey. First I got weighed, measured, and my body fat was calculated. I was at 40% body fat. I literally cried right there on the spot. How did I let myself go like this.
    We made a plan. I workout 6 days a week. 2 days are weight training with her. I have a 3rd day of weight training if I want. She made all my workouts. I do cardio 6 days a week, 30 minutes on the elliptical 3 days a week and the other 3 days; I do 25 minutes on the treadmill on a high incline and then I do the 30 minutes on the elliptical ( I do the 55 minutes of cardio on the days I don’t weight training. The days I weight train I only do the 30 minutes of cardio).
    I’m eating between 1400-1600 calories a day, with 40% being protein.

    Its Oct 13, 2020 and to date I have lost 7 lbs and 3 inches in my waist and hips (this is wear I carry my weight). In 6 weeks I have gain muscle in my legs and arms and my clothes are starting to fit again. My body fat is down to 36%. Now that I’m 6 weeks in I can clearly see I realistically won’t lose 20lbs of fat by November and I’m fine with that because I am seeing results. I made a life style change. I realistically will hit my fat loss goal of 20lbs by the end of January.

    I wanted to share my story because everything you are sharing with people is real. It is hard work. You do have to make it a habit. It doesn’t come off as fast as you put it on. But it will come off. I’m on my way now.
    I had a friend who did keto lost 30lbs in 2 months. She gained it all back 2 months later plus 20 additional pounds. All she did was keto no exercise. She said your not supposed to workout your first 2 months on keto. What?? Who is telling people to do this?!

    Thank you for this wonderful blog. I will keep you posted if you want know when I hit my goal


    1. Wow, Gina! Thanks so much for sharing your story. As someone who has coached hundreds of people through weight loss I can tell you with absolute certainty that your story is very common. Especially for women who hit pre- and peri- menopause. I wish that the industry would do more to speak to women during this time. (Men, too, as their testosterone levels dip in middle age). What’s often times brushed off as depression, lethargy, or even laziness is actually a dramatic change in brain and body chemistry. The hormonal changes going on during this time are just as drastic and jarring as puberty. But, unlike puberty, we don’t have as many people supporting and mentoring us during hormonal changes that occur later in life. Perhaps that’s because middle aged adults are raising kids, managing employees, and have A LOT of people relying on them. So, good on you for prioritizing yourself when I’m sure it was incredibly difficult to do so.

      Here’s my favorite part of your comment: “to date I have lost 7 lbs and 3 inches in my waist and hips (this is wear I carry my weight). In 6 weeks I have gain muscle in my legs and arms and my clothes are starting to fit again. My body fat is down to 36%. Now that I’m 6 weeks in I can clearly see I realistically won’t lose 20lbs of fat by November and I’m fine with that”

      THIS. IS. IT.

      People will actually see results when they stop looking for the result. It’s counterintuitive, I know. But in your case you feel better, more confident, stronger, and your clothes are fitting differently. This is the end goal anyway, right?

      Anytime someone would come to the gym asking about losing 20 pounds my follow up question would be: “How would that make you feel?” Then we establish a goal of those feelings instead of the 20 pounds. Because — you’re absolutely correct – 20 pounds will take A LOT longer than anyone is prepared for. But, you can feel confident, accomplished, proactive, and in control after just one workout and one healthy meal. That’s the “secret” of weight loss.

      Another thing that jumped out: “It doesn’t come off as fast as you put it on.”

      While this isn’t exactly the case, I see where you’re coming from. In your case, you gained 28 pounds in ~ 4 years. You’ll DEFINITELY lose those 28 pounds in less than 1 year if you stick to your current routine (probably a lot sooner). The reality seems to be that weight gain fades into our subconscious a lot more than weight loss. The gain is sneaky; a little treat because I had a hard day or starving myself all day in public only to lose complete control once I’m home by myself. The key – it seems – is to create a weight loss routine that fades into the background just as much as the weight gain did.

      So I exercise because it helps my work. Or I’m looking to set a new mileage goal on the treadmill. Or I’m trying to PR my dead lift. Or I’m trying out a new recipe with a loved one. Each of these activities are building toward weight loss but have value on their own. This will help you stay on track if progress slows down.

      We’re knocking on the door of the holiday season. By going into the holidays with a solid foundation you know that your progress may slow down a touch. But that’s OK because all of these other habits are now a part of who you are.

      Lastly, great job reaching back out to your friend. I can confidently speak for most fitness pro’s in saying that the judgement you felt was only in your imagination. That discount your feelings but hopefully helps others realize that there are so many great professionals out there who genuinely love to help people. Your friend is fit because it makes her feel better about the world. And I’m certain she wants nothing more than to help others feel that same thing.

      Please keep us posted, Gina! Keep it up rockstar.

  16. Hi I am looking for a realistic goal for me to lose 20 pounds. I am a 22 year old 5’4” woman that weighs 145 pounds. I have had 2 kids in 2 years and my baby is 6 months old now.
    I hate having my body be unrecognizable to me. I want my belly fat especially targeted. I hate that my clothes don’t fit and I feel like a fat milk cow all day.
    The problem is, I am breastfeeding so I know I need to eat more to keep my milk supply up. Also, due to breastfeeding and a toddler, I get very little sleep, and I’m mostly raising my kids by myself. I know sleep deprivation and stress also add on the pounds.
    I started eating much healthier, not any snacks during the day and cut out the chocolate and other cravings I constantly have, about a month ago. I have noticed no difference, in fact I have gained 5 pounds!
    I started using the Nike Training Club App to do beginner HIIT workouts about 2 weeks ago. I can generally squeeze a half hour work out and a half hour stroller walk with the kids in a day. I try to work out 6 days a week.
    I keep my calories by using MyFitnessPal app. I put in 1800 calories a day to eat and usually I never eat more than that.
    So my question is, how do I target my belly weight and get down to a heathy weight for my body, without losing my milk and to keep the weight off?
    It is very important to me so I don’t spiral into a body shaming depression and I want to feel stronger and look good by June 2021 at max!

    1. Thanks for the questions, Karla.

      I’ll start off by addressing what everyone else is thinking: Ease up on yourself! You’re doing great and you’re in the midst of a lot of hormonal changes. Be patient and graceful with yourself.

      To provide a little perspective:

      You’re a very young mother. This is great because your body will be able to move and exercise and do so many things that it wouldn’t be able to do if you were 10 years older. You can be thankful for this!

      BUT you also didn’t experience a slowing metabolism that occurs naturally in your late 20s. So you’re experiencing both a changing metabolism and new motherhood all at the same time. Most women will experience a slowing metabolism around 27-30 years old. But, you have a 5-year head start!

      Also – because you’re breastfeeding – your metabolism is CRANKED. This is a good thing! It means that you don’t need to do a TON of working out to lose weight. Milk production can burn around 500 additional calories each day.

      So you have a lot of things working in your favor despite all the craziness I’m sure you’re experiencing at the moment.

      At this juncture you’re primary goal should be to eat well, consider food your fuel, get rest when you can, and workout to feel better. There will be PLENTY of time for weight loss in the future.

      But for some practical tips:

      – Monitor your protein intake using MyFitnessPal
      This is a shot in the dark without any further body composition data, but you should aim for ~120 grams of protein in a given day. You’re likely around half of this. I recently came across some interesting research that suggests carb & sweets cravings are actually your brain’s way of regulating low protein intake. As example: Tortilla chips contain small amounts of protein. My brain’s constant chip-cravings may actually be a way of getting adequate protein intake by way of over-consuming carbs. I came across this via an evolutionary biologist… so the guess is that this is a survival technique. So check your protein intake and try to get more. Give into your chocolate cravings, but just include and equal amount of protein with it: beef jerky, deli meat, whatever sounds good.

      – Targeting belly weight
      Unfortunately, this is not a real thing. This is one of the gross, misleading things that the fitness industry uses to sell bullshit. There’s no food or exercise that “targets” where you lose body fat. Where you gain or lose fat is entirely genetic. As you lose body fat your brain can’t say to your metabolic system “hey use all the stored energy between your waist and your chest first.” But this doesn’t mean that belly fat CAN’T be lost! As you achieve a healthy body composition your body will continually pull from stored energy (body fat) as it needs. Eventually, the only fat left to use will be from the midsection. This is why CONSISTENCY is the #1 rule of weight loss.

      If June 2021 is your goal, you’ll hit it NO PROBLEM!

      You have a very realistic timeframe. Here’s how I’d go about it:

      – Start monitoring and eating plenty of protein
      – Start lifting heavy weights without a ton of focus on HIIT or cardio (1-2 days/week is fine) until you’re nearing the end of breastfeeding
      – Don’t weigh yourself until you’re done breastfeeding because you will gain muscle during this phase

      You shouldn’t have an adverse affect on milk production and your metabolism will be SUPER high doing into a weight loss phase.

      Once you’re done breastfeeding:
      – Do a body composition test
      – Keep up the protein
      – Lift heavy 2 days/week
      – HIIT 2 days/week
      – Cardio (25 min+) 1 day/week
      – Do a body composition test after 8 consistent weeks of all of the above and see if you’re losing body fat

      And go easy on yourself! You’re feeding a child and raising a toddler. That’s an AMAZING accomplishment that you should be very proud of. While it doesn’t feel it, you’re sooo young with sooo much time to re-gain confidence in your new body.

      Hopefully some other Moms read this and chime in with some words of wisdom from their real-life experience. Keep it up, Momma! You’re kicking ass!!

  17. Great blog and Q&A Matt. Great to read and understand (finally!) the maths and science behind achievable and sustainable goals. Am a month into a plan that ticks the boxes you talk of; am seeing results, feeling better and as such, positive to continue this healthier me and lifestyle. Thanks 🙏 Your patience in answering questions on repetitive comments and qs is fab. Keep doing what you do 👍🏽

  18. hi! i just read through this whole thread and i’ve been wondering. it all appears to be adults and i know it mayb not be your field of expertise but, i’m below the age of 15 (don’t really want to specify for reasons) and i’m 5’2 and i weigh 145. it’s not very obvious but i feel disgusting every time i sit down. i’ve already had a slight history with eating disorders and i started binge eating after fasting recovery. i feel so lost on what to do. i don’t eat very much and i don’t track calories, but i do my best to exercise (probably only an hour-3 a week which is not good and i know that) i’m just really stuck and nothing i’ve been trying has lowered my weight and it’s starting to really impact me mentally again. do you have any advice…? and sorry if this is a bother. don’t feel the need to respond i just want a plan i guess. i’ve tried doing so myself and nothing really works…

    1. Hi Lumi,

      Thanks for reading and thank you for posting here.

      I’ll share my personal experience…

      I was a chubby kid. When I was younger there was a boy’s clothing section called “husky” in most department stores. This is where I bought my jeans. I’m not sure if that’s funny or tragic now that I look back on it…

      As I got older and began to have some awareness of how my body looked compared to others. It really started to bother me. I did so many ridiculous things to lose weight. I quit drinking soda around age 11. I did the Atkins diet for a year when I was 12-13. When I was in high school I would do these “cleanses” that often resulted in my nearly or actually shitting myself. Nothing really changed the way my body looked. Or at least how I perceived my body to look.

      About 6 months ago I completed one of my regular body composition scans. I was at 11.5% bodyfat… give or take 2% for machine accuracy. It was the lowest my bodyfat had ever been in my life. But here’s the weird thing: I still see a chubby kid in the mirror. Not theoretically or an illusion, but it is literally what I see. I’ve weighed 185 pounds (I’m 5’8″) with a TON muscle mass while powerlifting and I’ve weighed a little as 153 when I first started doing martial arts. The person in the mirror legitimately looked the exact same in both instances.

      Most experts would call what I experience body dysmorphia. Some researches suggest it’s a by-product of depression, obsessive behavior, or anxiety. I’m not really sure.

      I’ve actively participated in therapy for the last 10 years along with a mindfulness practice for the last several. Those things haven’t changed what I see in the mirror but they’ve really helped me be aware that what I see isn’t necessarily reality. Does that make sense?

      But here’s the #1 thing that helped me actually lose the weight…

      I found active things that I enjoyed doing. I quit “working out” and started training. I started doing Olympic Weightlifting when I was a sophomore in high school and it changed my world. I could now direct my efforts on increasing my Clean and Jerk and focus less on how it affected the way I look. I became obsessed with feeling strong, more confident, and capable. I loved that I could do chores that required heavy lifting. From there I found CrossFit, Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, Powerlifting, Mountain Biking, Hiking… all sorts of amazingly fun, beautiful activities. Now my diet and “exercise” are all directed toward having fun and appreciating what my body can DO instead of how it LOOKS.

      It was a long journey and one that I wish I had been aware of at your age. I’d encourage you to talk to someone… a parent, aunt, teacher, or someone else you trust. They’ll be able to point you in the right direction. And if you don’t know anyone you can talk to, please send me an email and I will connect you with a professional.

      Hang in there. To be fully open with you — you’re at stage in your life that can feel pretty shitty. I can’t even imagine going through my teenage years with social media. But hopefully this is a glimmer of hope for you:

      – Most of the people that are cool now will be losers in 10 years. Like, almost 100% of them.
      – Do epic shit. Take in as many real experiences as you can. You’ll begin to see that most shit people care about is lame.
      – Remember that whatever state you’re in, how you feel about your body… all of this is temporary. Very temporary. Give yourself some grace and time and you’ll be amazed at where you’ll be in a few short years.

      Keep us posted…

  19. Hi Matt,

    I can’t fathom how much time it must have taken to reply to everyone in the past few months. You’ve been very encouraging and very reasonable. I’d leave a five-star review if I could.

    I like your mindset of setting positive goals. If only it was easy to keep sight of them. I want to feel confident being able to protect myself (self-defense). As a sub-5ft female with 33% body fat, I feel like I’m not built to reach that goal. I’m afraid I’ll never make progress, so I give up shortly after I get started.

    I’m not sure how to stay motivated. Common advice is to work with a friend/partner, but as an introvert in covid times, I can’t find anyone. How can one pursue their fitness goals when it’s hard to stay positive alone?

    1. What’s up, Hailey!

      Thanks for your kind words. And thanks for the questions!

      First off, it sounds like you have a very realistic view of what achieving your goals will look like. From my experience working with people this is the most difficult aspect of achieving your weight loss and fitness goals. So you’re already halfway there!

      Let’s dissect a few things:

      1. I want to feel confident being able to protect myself (self-defense).

      I think this is such a great place to start. If someone wants to lose weight I always try to find something to “distract” them from this goal. This can mean getting stronger, getting your first pull up, or – in your case – learning to defend yourself. Since self-defense sounds like an interest to you I would zero in on this as your activity. Brazilian Jiu Jitsu & Krav Maga are two phenomenal self-defense systems that incorporate fitness, cardio, AND very practical self-defense tactics.


      As an introvert you may feel uncomfortable walking into an academy. You’re not alone in that. I’ve recently fallen in love with Brazilian Jiu Jitsu and have been doing it for almost 2 years now. When I first stepped into my academy I felt very self-conscious. And this is coming from someone who has lived in the gym for the last 15 years!

      But just remember that the uncomfortable feeling you have going into it isn’t because of your height, weight, or fitness level. This nervousness is there because it is something NEW. You’d have this feeling whether you are walking into a martial arts academy or stepping on a plane headed to a new city.

      I encourage you to try 3 classes at 3 different places. Most will have a free class or introductory week at a lower rate. Gyms & martial arts schools vary widely in their culture. So don’t stop until you find someplace that gives you good vibes. A lot of places will have a womens-only class. Definitely start there if you’re at all nervous. The badass women in those classes are supportive AF.

      2. As a sub-5ft female with 33% body fat, I feel like I’m not built to reach that goal.

      I’m not sure exactly what you mean here but I’m guessing it partially means one of two things (likely a combination of the two):

      – I’m too small to be able to defend myself
      – I’m short and that makes weight loss difficult

      The reason I recommend Brazilian Jiu Jitsu & Krav Maga is that they’re both designed for smaller-statured people to be able to defend themselves against a larger attacker. By using joint manipulation and core strength, smaller people can do SERIOUS damage. It’s pretty cool to see.

      You are partially correct if you feel that weight loss can be more difficult for people with shorter stature. But it would be more accurate to say that weight GAIN visually appears greater on those of us that are vertically challenged. But weight LOSS is no different for folks of different heights.

      I try to think of it on the bright side though. Taller people generally have weight gain “sneak” up on them, so they won’t feel a need to change their habits until later in life. While a shorter person may see a 10 pound weight gain when their metabolism slows in their mid-to-late 20s a really tall person may not even notice 10 pounds. Hell, they can often times gain 20-30 pounds without changing a dress size! But the downside comes later down the line – they may notice a difference when they gain 40 or 50 pounds; which is much harder to lose than 10!

      3. Common advice is to work with a friend/partner
      The research shows that people who set out on a new goal alone fail ~80% of the time. This failure rate flips with a group, personal training, or training partner situation.

      If you’re hesitant to train during COVID restrictions or you live in an area where gyms are still closed find someone online. Either a friend or a stranger. Diet Bets (https://www.dietbet.com/) are INCREDIBLY effective if you do them correctly. Studies show that we’re WAY more motivated if we stand to lose something we already have than to gain something we don’t. Meaning, if your goal is to get to 20% bodyfat you’re 5x more likely to get there if you have to pay me $100 if you DON’T vs. me giving you $100 if you DO.

      Another cool way to do this is:
      – Find a friend or 5 to do a challenge online.
      – Everyone puts 10% of 1 month’s salary in a pot.
      – Everyone chooses their favorite charity.
      – Everyone chooses a goal and a timeline (12 weeks is a good one).
      – Divide your buy-in by your timeline.
      – Each week or month you “earn back” your money by reaching your milestones.
      – All money left in the pot goes to the charity of the winner.

      Let’s say you want to lose 10 pounds of fat and your buy in is $120 and your challenge is 12 weeks. 10 pounds over 12 weeks = ~.80 pounds of fat each week.

      Each week you lose at least .8 pounds you earn back $10. If you lose 10 pounds of fat over 12 weeks you get all $120 back.

      Keep us posted on your progress!

  20. Hi again, Matt,

    That’s very actionable advice! I have a lot of new things to consider after reading your reply.

    What I meant by not being “built” for my goal is people like me (especially starting with less lean mass and more extra weight) have physical disadvantages. Women and smaller people build less muscle, slower. We have less potential for strength. …Gotta remind myself it’s not about having MORE power, but enough to execute your strategies well.

    I think “folks of different heights” do have a difference — fewer Calories available to reduce, and working harder/longer to burn the same amount. With equally good guidance, a 5’10 male will lose 20lbs faster than a 4’10 female… Though it’s true that a 20-pound loss makes a bigger difference for shorter people!

    I already sighted a Krav Maga facility near me; thank you for the suggestion to investigate more than one place (and for your personal insight on Brazilian Jiu Jitsu; glad to hear you’re loving it). I didn’t consider online goal collaboration. I’m excited to look into different academies/facilities, DietBet, and any similar resources I find.

    Thank you so much for your thoughtful reply. I’ll check in again if I ever have progress to report 😉

  21. Hello Matt,

    I am 18 years old, 150 pounds, and 5’9″. I played basketball daily and consistently worked out 3x a week for 2 years until recently. I’ve tested my body composition in the past, and I’m currently most likely 17-20% body fat. My basal metabolic rate is about 1550 kcal. I want to lose about 7% of fat (10.5 pounds) without losing any muscle mass in the shortest amount of time possible. Assuming I have no issue following any diet and workout regimen consistently and religiously, what should I do to achieve this goal?

    1. Hey there Ash,

      Thanks for throwing me an easy one 🙂

      To achieve your goal of losing 10.5 pounds of body fat you must create a TOTAL caloric deficit of 36,750 (10.5 pounds X 3,500kcal/pound). You have several ways of doing this but here are a few rules that fall in line with your additional goal of “not losing any muscle mass”:

      – Do NOT cut more than 500kcal per day
      – Lift heavy weights in the 6-12 rep range 3 days/week
      – Continue to play basketball or do another form of cardio for at least 25 minuntes 3 days/week

      This is a ROUGH estimate. Do another body comp test before starting to be certain.

      Consuming ~1750kcal on workout days should create a 500kcal deficit for.

      Start w/ a 40/30/30 macro breakdown. This is:

      700kcal (175g) Carbs
      525kcal (130g) Protein
      525kcal (58g) Fat

      Do another body comp test after 8 weeks of this. If you’re maintaining or gaining muscle keep the macros the same. If you’re losing muscle, increase all of these equally by ~5-10% then test again after 4 weeks. If you’re gaining BODYFAT along w/ muscle, decrease your fat macros by ~10% and test again in 4 weeks.

      You will lose 10.5 pounds of FAT in 11-14 weeks with this protocol. You may also gain a slight bit of muscle mass with this protocol depending upon what your current protein intake looks like.

      If you’re keen on a slight lean muscle increase, aim to consume the majority of your carbohydrates in an hour window on both sides of your workouts.

      Keep us posted!

  22. Hi!

    I’m restarting my fitness journey at 54 yrs old and I’ve hit 240lbs – YIKES! I hike and stay somewhat active but my eating habits are horrible.

    I needed to read your comments and realign my expectations and mindset. This will be bookmarked as a reminder. I’m currently jobless so have time to focus on health, ironically it’s been harder to do so than usual with the stress.

    I’ve focused on little things, which are really big things. Getting to sleep on time, making space for active pursuits, and cutting the crap foods.

    This road started just a few days ago and I was looking for a quick fix. I know to stop that thinking and to keep walking down the more reasonable road. I’m now thinking a couple of years out.

    Planning little goals a few weeks out is what I’ll do later today. That was a great suggestion.

    Thank you for being a voice of reason, I was listening.

    1. Hi Donna and congratulations on restarting your health journey!

      You’re correct in saying that it is strangely more difficult to keep up good habits when we don’t have as much going on in our schedule. A lot of people went into shut-downs thinking that they’d find the time to get healthier only to find the exact opposite is true.

      Our brains seem to do better with routine and schedule. It is rare that someone can have total freedom and find the time and motivation to do something good for themselves.

      With that in mind, have you set out a daily schedule?

      Set a workout time each day that you’ll never miss. Even if the rest of the day goes to crap, you’ll at least have that time of success for the day.

      Then, you can begin to build habits around it. After your workout, you eat a meal that you cook yourself. You can set aside a full 20 minutes to eat this meal… and only eat the meal. No phone, TV, books, or other distractions.

      I think that with just these 2 tiny habits – 25 minutes of activity a day and eating every meal without distraction – you’ll begin see great results within a few weeks.

      Resist going overboard in this stage. Don’t go on a diet or meal plan just yet. Maybe in 6 months you can get more targeted with nutrition. For now, follow this simple rule as it relates to nutrition:

      – Eat ANYTHING you want. I mean ANYTHING. Brownies, cookies, hamburgers, french fries… anything goes. But here’s the catch: you must cook it yourself.

      So if you want cookies for dessert, have them! You just need to bake them yourself. Hamburger & french fries? Yep. Just make sure you form & cook the patty yourself and cut & fry the fries from whole potatoes.

      This strategy will help you develop some mindfulness around food. This is the first step of weight loss – to remove “auto-pilot” from eating & nutrition. And the best part about this strategy is that you have full freedom over WHAT you eat; you never need to deprive yourself of the foods you love. What you’ll find is that a lot of food choices are sub-conscious. By bringing those to mind you’ll find yourself wanting to make better choices without feeling like you’re sacrificing tasty treats.

      let us know how it goes!

  23. Hey Matt I’ve been on a weight loss journey for about a year and a half. I’ve lost 105lbs and I have about 30lbs to go. I feel like I’ve hit a plateau on my weight loss. I run about 15miles a week, two to three 30min body weight workouts per week and if weather permitting hiking in the weekends. Do you have any suggestions on how to get to the finish line? I’m just not feeling much progress anymore and I’m feeling a bit discouraged.

    1. Hi Erin,

      First off… congrats on your progress so far! You’re right in the home stretch!

      I’ll give you some practical suggestions for the last bit of your journey. But there are a few ground rules that I encourage for folks in the 100lbs+ weight loss club. It’s my favorite club, BTW.

      #1 — Now is the time that you want to begin to space out your weigh-in’s by at least 6 weeks.

      Why: It’s actually very hard for your body to maintain an excess 100lbs+. For this reason, even the smallest caloric deficit will result in rapid weight loss. Your body couldn’t wait to get those first 105lbs off. Now it’s “on the fence” as to whether it should hang on to the extra energy stores. So “progress” will certainly slow down (see #2)

      #2: Consider throwing away your scale and doing body composition testing.

      Why: In this last stage of changing body composition you begin to settle into your genetic potential for body composition. Up until this point fat and excess water loss was the clear path for your body’s performance. At this stage your body will begin to add lean muscle mass, increase bone density, AND reduce body fat. In some months this may mean that the scale won’t budge a single pound even though you could have lost a few pounds of fat.

      #3: What got you to this point won’t get you to the end point.

      Why: We’re you’re looking at 50-120 pounds of weight loss, simply walking and cutting down on sweets will result in significant weight loss. People on larger weight loss journeys tend to get addicted to cardio because it’s what worked for — sometimes — up to a year. But the issue is that you need to keep adding minutes and miles to your cardio to keep up the weight loss. This is often when injury occurs.

      And now for how to tackle the last “30 pounds”… that’s in quotations because you may not actually lose 30 “Pounds”… you’ll certainly lose more fat but you’ll probably increase your lean mass and bone density in the process.

      I’m certain you’ve tracked calories and tried to eat healthier over the last year. Now that you have that habit down, begin to track your protein and vegetable intake. Shoot for ~70% of your weight in grams of protein. This will encourage lean tissue growth, increasing your resting metabolism. That way you’re burning more calories when you’re sleeping and not working out. Veggies will have you feeling full when your appetite increases due to a higher metabolism.

      Let’s use an example to illustrate the “cardio trap”: I want to lose 100 pounds. I start by running 1 mile each morning. That 1 mile burns 500 calories that I didn’t burn the day before. After 1 week of this I lose 1 pound. After several weeks of this I have lost enough weight to where my metabolism now accounts for that 1 mile. My progress halts. So I run 1.5 miles each day and start to lose 1 pound every 2 weeks. This continues on as I add more miles to my run.

      At a certain point I will run out of time in the day for the requisite miles to continue progressing. So I’ll need to mix it up in order to keep progressing. I can run 1 mile 25% faster. I can run 1 mile in four, 400m sprints with 2:00 rest between. I can run 16, 100m sprints. I can run 1 mile at the same pace with a 20 pound vest on. Each iteration will result in a novel stimulus, generating continued weight loss.

      So I believe now is a great time to vary your workouts. Here’s are some replacements you can try:

      Running days:
      Do 2 running days per week. On one of those days, complete a 25-30 minute run at ~65% effort. On the other running day, complete 30 minutes of sprint or hill work. Do all-out sprints (be sure to warm up A LOT) that last between 10-30 seconds apiece. Rest for 2-3 times longer than the sprint lasted between sets. Mix it up – hill sprints, 100m sprints, and 400m sprints.

      Bodyweight workouts:
      Your two running days will deliver plenty of cardio. Take these workouts and begin to replace them with weights. If you’re doing 2 of these per week, choose one day where you use VERY heavy weights and complete reps in the 3-6 range. On the other day use moderate weight in the 12-15 rep range. Don’t be afraid to fail when lifting weights. Your last 2-3 repetitions should feel like you will fail… and you should experiment with where that actually happens. If you’re choosing these programs online or through an app, none of the movements should pose a huge risk. Things like dumbbell press & bent over rows have built-in fail safes because you can’t compensate with your “big movers” like your hips & quads.

      tl;dr – mix it up!

      Let us know how it goes!

  24. Hi Matt,
    Great article. It’s was very informative and accurate. After having 4 children I was still pretty fit. It took 6 months on a medication for me to go from 140lbs to 180lbs. This was a game changer. I tried dieting, exercising and everything under the sun…it didn’t work! After reading your article, I adjusted my weight loss vision to losing 40lbs in 10 months. I am 5 months in and I weigh 160lbs. Thank you!!! This article was the smoking gun to my weight loss journey!!!

    1. Thanks for reaching out, Toni, and congrats on your success so far.

      You also bring up good points that I failed to mention in the article and has yet to come up in the comments: medication and medical conditions.

      Weight loss should be very predictable. We can easily measure how many calories a person burns at rest. We have a very good idea of how many calories are burned during exercise. And, we can easily calculate the amount of calories consumed from food and drink. Each of these variables is predictable within a very small margin of error… maybe less than 5%.

      So when I hear things like “I’ve tried everything” or “I just have a slow metabolism”… usually the person hasn’t taken the time to gather accurate data.

      Or when a fad diet purports to “boost your metabolism” or “torch belly fat”, I know that the numbers won’t add up. The science just isn’t there.


      There are exceptions to every rule.

      In the case of scientifically-validated weight loss, the exceptions are medication and medical conditions.

      Many pharmaceutical interventions carry a side effect of weight gain and water retention. Similarly, hormonal changes from medical conditions can drastically change one’s metabolism.

      We can even take it a step further to look at the psychological effects of serious medical conditions. For example, cancer survivors in a trial program we ran several years ago would report feeling as though their body was “no longer on their team.” Almost as though their body and mind were in a battle and the body decided to join the other side. This often resulted in reluctance or hesitation when it came to body composition change. And there’s a lot of emerging research to support this fear or hesitation isn’t just “in your head” — that the body “remembers” trauma and will avoid discomfort in certain areas.

      But I digress…

      The point is that – if one suspects that medication or a medical condition is the culprit for delayed or no progress — we can also evaluate these factors scientifically and with an appropriate medical professional. Blood tests and hormone tests are widely available in most areas and pricing can be negotiated for cash payments to make it as affordable as possible. Many hormone tests can now be administered in the home through saliva samples. You can talk with your physician or a pharmacist regarding weight gain side effects of medication.

      So for anyone who can honestly say they’ve tried everything consistently (consistency = at least 12 weeks of the same routine), blood tests and talking to a physician regarding medications is a great next step.

  25. Hi Matt,

    I loved reading your article, very informative. I also love all of your advice in the comments section that you’ve been giving everyone.

    I wondered if you could give me any advice for my fat loss goals. I am a 26 year old 5’5” female eating at 120-P, 205-C, 55-F and currently weigh 145 pounds. I weight train 5 day’s per week with 2 cardio sessions of 20-25 minutes (I do either easy going stationary bike rides or HIIT training).
    I’ve been able to lose 11.5 pounds in the last 5 months, but it’s been a very slow process and pretty frustrating to be honest. (I slowly lowered my macros until I was eating around 1400 calories but my progress stalled and I became food focused. So I slowly increased them again until I felt better and am now seeing slight results on the scale again).
    I was wondering if you had any advice as to how I might boost my rate of fat loss so my progress is a little more rapid. I know patience is key, but I feel that for me, fat loss has been incredibly slow and I want to look more lean so show off all of my hard work in the gym.

    Thank you so much in advance!


    1. GREAT question, Taylor. Lots of solid, practical stuff in here.

      First off – you’re doing body composition scans, right? If not, that is priority #1. I’ve found that fat loss that is achieved with 4-5 days/week of resistance training + 2-3 days of cardio is the most sustainable method to get there. However, it comes with with periods of homeostasis and shifting fat/lean tissue changes. There’s a chance you could be experiencing your most rapid FAT loss right now while your body is finding a lean tissue balance. This is super common and can be very frustrating if you’re only looking at the scale.

      Second – It appears as though you’re closing in on a very healthy body composition. I usually encourage people who have their macros & training schedule dialed to begin to space out their weigh-in’s. If you’re hopping on a scale daily, it’s time to stop. Space your weigh-in’s in 2-week increments and (preferably) ditch the scale for a body composition scanner. A lot of supplement stores now offer an InBody scan for free or very cheap.


      What do your weight training days look like? How much variation have you created in the last 5 months?

      Remember that variation in your training is how you’ll continue to see results. If you’re working with a trainer or taking classes, this is usually built in. Often times folks doing weigh training on their own settle into a routine of the same exercises at roughly the same weight, reps, and speed. It can be intimidating to try something new, but this is where you’ll find results.

      If you’re hesitant to learn new movements or to use new implements (like a barbell or kettlebells), here are some ways that you can vary the same weight training routine:

      – Increase the speed of the repetitions.
      – Take 3-5 seconds during the eccentric (“lowering”) phase of the movements.
      – Go to failure on your last set of a movement. If you get more than 12 reps, increase the weight the next time you come around to that movement.
      – Do sets of 3-5 reps HEAVY with a LOOOONG (4-5 min) rest period.
      – Do sets of 12-15 with short (30s-60s) rest in between until you cannot complete a set.

      Also, you may be a good candidate for HIIT training. Cardio is a great fat loss tool for relatively untrained athletes but HIIT will give you the benefit of increased metabolism for 24-48 hours after training.

      Keep us posted & good luck!

  26. Hi, I hope u see this and answer my question 🙁 .
    just wanted to ask about something and it’s really something that’s important for me.

    I am an 18 yr old guy with a Height of 5’6 or 5’7 and is roughly 185 pounds or based on my most recent check of weight, I am 84 kilos. I am also someone who didnt have the privilege of going under surgery when I broke my left arm so I was refrained from doing any exercise that requires pushing for example like push-ups and the best i can do is wall push ups. and in the gym all i can do is all the workouts involving pulling. i am very limited of my workout routines. My goal is to loose at least 35 to 40 pounds and be healthy again just like before. Ever since having this injury I really let myself go and now I am also affecting my mental state due to overthinking, anxiety and insecurity. I just wanted to know what should I do and how long will it take for me to reach my goal? I often go biking for around 40 mins and jog for 20 mins and that’s about it. Please help.

    1. Hey there, Dave. Great questions.

      I’m on the tail end of a very lengthy neck injury rehab. So I feel your pain. I went from easily doing 25+ push ups in a row to now… 3.

      Let’s first start with some general guidelines:

      1. As an 18 year old male you are in your prime years for developing a healthy physique that you’ll carry with you for the rest of your life. I CAN’T STRESS THIS ENOUGH: Begin a weight training routine NOW. You will create mobility, muscle tone, bone density, and pain prevention that will be the base you carry well into your 40s and 50s. If you think progress is slow now, wait 10 years. The time it takes to see results will be twice as long. Please, please… start weight training TODAY.

      2. Sleep, sleep, sleep. At your age you will release a considerable amount of testosterone at night while in a deep sleep. Testosterone = lean muscles + less fat. You really want to maximize this part of your training. Go to bed at the same time every night, create a routine, and set an alarm for ~ 9 hours after your bedtime. Stick to this religiously. You’ll see the most weight loss from this part of your training.

      3. PROTEIN: If you begin a rigorous weight training routine, you could easily be eating anywhere between 150g – 200g of protein a day. Shoot for lean, whole sources. And no more than 2 shakes… think: chicken breast, fish, lean cuts of beef, etc.

      4. Move real weights. Barbells, kettlebells, dumb bell, sandbags. Any heavy object that you grip, lift, pull, or push. Fill a backpack up with sand (10-20 kg) and walk around with it for an hour. Get creative, but move some heavy, real weight.

      5. Get creative with your movements & focus on your lower half. You don’t need to do a push up to lose weight or gain muscle. If you can’t hold anything in your broken arm — just hold something in the other arm until your broken arm heals. Here’s a list of exercises you can do 1-handed or, hell, no-handed. Get on youtube and search these:

      – bulgarian split squat
      – weighted lunge
      – safety bar squat
      – front squat with straps https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fsMgDDMrnio
      – step ups
      – box jumps
      – dead bugs
      – Y’s & T’s with small, 1kg plates

      These are just off the top of my head. There are thousands of things you can do other than biking and jogging that will accelerate your weight loss.

      – MENTAL STATE –

      I’m typically not very matter-of-fact with situations that I haven’t personally experienced. However I’ve been an overweight, depressed teen/young adult so I understand the experience well.

      And here’s the truth: real confidence comes from something you earn. Whether that’s weight loss or a decent GPA, anything worth having will be VERY, VERY difficult. So put that in your head before you start anything.

      How long it takes you to lose 40 pounds is irrelevant. Because – if you’re doing the things that will ACTUALLY lead to weight loss – you’ll continue to do those things for the next 20, 30, 40 years. The weight loss isn’t the destination. Resilience, longevity, and mental toughness are the REAL rewards that come with weight loss.

      If you can take those feelings of anxiety & insecurity and use them to wake up and hit the weight room everyday you will certainly lose the weight. But you’ll also create a skill set that will lead to a better career, more money, and better relationships.


      Trust me here. Most folks don’t experience significant weight gain until their late 20s/early 30s. By then they have a family, career, and social life. They have to integrate a new routine into a very complex life.

      You are going to learn lessons through this weight loss journey that will place you YEARS ahead of your peers.

      Embrace it. It’ll suck and you’ll find a million excuses.

      Here’s a little trick: take a rubber band a keep it on your wrist. Every time you look at it remember the commitment you made to yourself. When you begin to talk yourself out of that commitment, snap the rubber band as a reminder that not even a broken arm is reason enough not to pursue your goals with everything you have.

      Go get after it and keep us posted.

  27. I’m @ the end of a large weight loss journey … Barring catastrophic injury, maintaining a healthy weight shouldn’t be an issue for me as i’m fairly athletic and train MMA 5 days a week + workout and play basketball. I’ve cut from 265 to 175 currently, with a current goal weight of 155. To drop these last 20 lbs I’ve reducee my daily calorie to 1,500 calories coupled with kickboxing, jiu-jitsu and i also jog about 150 miles a week and lift weights. I also supplement my protein intake with whey powder so as to avoid major muscle mass while executing this cut. My daily calorie deficit lately is generally -3,000 calories a day and i drink a gallon+ of water per day. I give myself a cheat day once weekly to enjoy myself and to try and avoid my metabolism going into starvation mode, and one day of active recovery to promote muscle growth and avoid overtraining. I eat mostly vegetables and lean meats and avoid sweets and alcohol. I supplement with vitamin tablets to avoid malnutrition. I would like to cut 20 lbs of fat within 5 weeks using this method, does this sound feasible to you? Thank you for any feedback.

    1. What’s up G?

      The best part about this question is that it seems like you’ve found some activities that you REALLY enjoy. Doing a “cut” or going on a “diet” is a million times easier if you’re chasing activities you enjoy vs. simply trying to look better in a bathing suit. Although that’s not a terrible by-product!

      I do have a follow-up question for you that will greatly change my answer: Are you cutting weight for a match in 5 weeks?

      If you are cutting weight for a match:
      To lose 20 pounds you’ll want to create a 70,000kcal deficit over a span of time (3,500kcal/lb fat x 20lb = 70,000). This would shake out to a ~2,000kcal deficit per day to reach that goal weight in 5 weeks. You could stand to eat a little more (500-750kcal/day) and still make weight. This will help your performance leading up to your match while still having plenty of wiggle room to make weight.

      If you’re NOT cutting for a match:

      A 3,000kcal daily deficit is too aggressive. While it may seem like you’re taking measures to prevent muscle wasting and metabolic damage, you’re simply eating too few calories to prevent either of these. Let’s look at the numbers (these are all very, very rough estimates… but you’ll get the gist).

      – At 175lbs, my guess is your basal metabolic rate is around 1,800kcal
      – 90 minutes of MMA requires ~ 750kcal
      – 60 minutes of jogging requires ~ 600kcal
      – Basketball, weight training, walks, misc. movement, etc ~ 500kcal

      This puts your daily maintenance calorie requirement at this activity level ~ 3,650 (again, rough estimate).

      If you’re consuming 1,500kcal daily, you’re not even supporting your basal metabolic needs. Which is OK if you’re cutting weight. A 1,500kcal daily intake would even be OK if all you were doing was the jogging.

      But with the other, higher-intensity activities you’re waaay under-fueling.

      My guess is that your currently experiencing some muscle wasting and certainly not recovering optimally.

      Remember, an aggressive fat loss protocol is 2 pounds/week. This is usually only feasible for folks with a lot of body fat to lose. Now that you’re in the final stretch, 1-1.5lbs/week of FAT loss is more reasonable.

      What if you started doing body composition testing every 2 weeks and slowly increased your daily calorie intake to 2,000/day. If you’re gaining muscle, continue to bump it to 2,500. Keep an eye on it to ensure you’re still gaining muscle (not fat). Continue on this protocol until your muscle gain slows or stops. At this point you will have a new, higher basal metabolic rate (bmr). Then, you can create a 500kcal daily deficit based upon your new BMR and you’ll lose a pound of fat per week.

      AGAIN – this all changes if you need to make weight for an event. If you simply want to look and perform better, my guess is that you’ll end up looking and performing better at a higher WEIGHT (muscle) and you’ll ultimately arrive at a lower bodyfat %. If this is for an event, it’d be worth talking with your coach about the trade-off of walking around at a higher weight and doing a more strategic cut leading up to your match.

      Hit me up with some more info and we’ll continue to troubleshoot. Good luck!

  28. Hi Matt!

    Thank you for this amazing blog, and all of the on point information! I luckily never struggled with my weight, and was always able to eat whatever I wanted without weight gain. I’ve never had a solid workout routine either. Well, I just turned 40 a few weeks ago, and I can see the changes in my body. I am 5’2 @ 127 pounds. This is the heaviest I have ever been (thanks, 40). Needless to say, I realize that I am going to have to make some changes and put some effort in. I am on day 3 of spin workouts of 30 minutes each, and I have been doing some kettlebell and resistance training. All brand new to me as of this week. So far I am loving it! It feels great to move! I am choosing healthier foods and drinking greens. I was hoping you could give me some advice on achieving my weight goal of 110, and staying motivated. Thank you so much!

    1. Hey there! Just wanted to let you know I saw this and responded to your email (in case you wanted to remain private). Keep us posted!

  29. Well you are not taking in account scale. Hi gh BMI will lose fat (not just water) faster and then taper. In at 54 in 2014 lost 105 pound in a year. Stated out Over a pound a day for a month and the slowed to about a third of a pound at the end. Two 30 minute jogs on the tread and about 1000 day calorie intake. Lots of low cal ways to fill a plate. Always felt fine and medical numbers were all perfect at the end.

    1. Yes you’re absolutely correct here, Stephen. And the scale of high BMI is not necessarily causal in rapidity of fat loss. It is correlated because of the caloric excess required to maintain a very high BMI. So, in the same way that 3500kcal deficit loses a pound of fat, a 3500kcal maintenance is required to maintain or gain a pound of excess fat.

      Meaning: there is a point of excess body fat where it is actually more difficult (costly) metabolically to maintain the excess weight than it would be to lose the excess weight. Which is why minimal effort to lose = rapid loss for very high body fat %. Then, as BMI normalizes, the scale tips to where it is more difficult to continue the fat loss.

  30. you also seem to be fixated on water. I increased water ans tea a lot and stayed fully hydrated from day one. Fat people burn more calories thats all.

    1. The water references are generally for people who are 20ish pounds overweight and lose it all in 3 weeks. Body composition tests never support this weight loss as fat loss.

  31. Hi Matt,

    I am 55 years old and in menopause. I’m 5’6″ tall and I weigh 157 pounds. I have gained 45 pounds over the last 18 years. 17 of those pounds as been in the last 12 months. The weight gain is from the waist up. I take medication for hypothyroidism. I am gluten intolerant and I am pre-diabetes and showing signs of fatty liver as well. My blood test also revealed that luckily I not leptin resistant. I try to walk most days as I also have degenerative osteoarthritis and my joints can’t take anything too aggressive. I try to lift light weights a couple of times a week.
    Losing 20 to 25 pounds would put me at a healthy weight and I would feel so much better. My goal is to be healthier and to lose at least 20 pounds. How do you suggest I do this?

    1. Great questions, Lisa.

      First off I’d recommend you get a full metabolic panel of blood tests. You may need to seek out a Functional Medicine doc to help you manage this since most primary care physicians and/or insurance plans do not have a lot of experience in a holistic look at blood work. Look up Dr. Carrie Jones online — she provides a great primer on understanding hormones during menopause.

      But – as far as universal advice – you can start here:

      – Increase your weightlifting routine to 3-4 days per week. It would optimal if you could hire a trainer once or twice per week to give you ideas and guidance. Then, you can ask them to write a program for you to complete on the days you do not see them. You’ll notice your arthritis symptoms subside, which will eventually open the door to more cardio options.

      – Diet: start by taking a picture of everything you eat or drink for two full weeks. Don’t change anything; just gain an awareness of what you’re eating and drinking. You’ll likely see some simple changes that can go a long way.

      – Eat anything you want… but the only rule is that you MUST cook it yourself. Not necessarily from scratch, either. For example: eat cookies as often as you want. But they must never be able to be consumed right out of the package. Make it so that you’d need to pre-heat the oven and mix up some ingredients to eat the cookies. The goal here is to put at least 20 minutes and some movement between craving and eating.

      With those small steps you’ll find yourself making better health choices – most importantly – feeling great. That great feeling will be the spark you need to make more and more good choices.

      Keep us posted!

  32. Great advise…I was just going over l the comment. I believe there’s a huge mental aspect to losing weight , as it’s as if you need to change your lifestyle….not temporary….but for good……and enjoy that lifestyle. I struggled for years living like a rockstar, and the booze and drugs took they’re toll….at 43 now, I spin daily on my Keiser, and make healthier food choices….I feel after 3 months now…..I’m finally accepting and liking who I am…..I’m 6’4″ and down to 225 from 245…….enjoy the journey……you want it to feel like a lifestyle you enjoy…..Good luck everyone….:)

  33. I am a 55 year old male and not overweight (diabetic for 25 years). Was in the 145-152 lb range for a long time. I am 5’7″. In December, I decided to lose weight as my weight inched upto the 150 lb ceiling again. Doing intermittent fasting, cut food intake by a considerable amount. I do drink tea in the morning, a large cup of coffee w/ milk around noon. Eating a fistful of almonds, an apple, a pure protein from Costco (for lunch). Generally a couple of cups of oat meal plus beans and vegetables for dinner (lifelong vegetarian). I did lose 8 lbs relatively quickly. But since the it has been much slower going. It is disheartening when you eat so little and the next day the meter says your weight went up by a pound! 🙂 Anyway, now I am down to 138-139 lbs range. I am now losing ~2lbs a months. I do walk 5 to 6 times a week for 45 min to 60 min, but that is my only exercise. I have been working from home (white collar), so I lead a sedentary life otherwise. I don’t think I can do any better than this and if my weight does not go down anymore, so be it. I did have the goal of going down to 130 lbs, my weight in college. I still have a layer of fat around tummy otherwise, I am quite skinny. It is the tummy that bothers me and not sure what I can do about it. Thanks. BTW, since I began this new diet, I have not had any episodes of hypoglycemia which I used to suffer occasionally prior to the diet which is interesting to me. I was afraid a reduction in food intake would lead to low blood sugar but that is not happening (I am on a bunch of diabetic meds. Also, my most recent A1C declined by 1 full point with the new diet, so I am happy about it)

    1. Hi Kevin. Thanks for the comments and questions.

      First off, at 5’7″ and ~140lbs you’re certainly in a healthy weight range. In fact, I’d say that your college weight of 130lbs may have been somewhat underweight.

      But, regardless, it seems as though you’re seeking a more “toned” look above-and-beyond a healthy weight. And this is totally OK.

      A few easy tweaks that may yield some decent results:

      1. First off — at 55 years old it may be worth considering getting some bloodwork done. Specifically a metabolic panel and/or hormone testing. As I’m sure you’re aware, testosterone decreases with age which can lead to lower muscle mass and higher levels of visceral fat. Might be worthwhile for you.

      2. Weight training — I would DEFINITELY incorporate some heavy weight training in place of your walks 2-3 days/week. Think: deadlift, squats, bench press, shoulder press, weighted lunges. 3 sets of 6 reps of each, increasing the weight each week. This will have a profound impact on your metabolism and may get you closer to your goals. BUT you will see the scale increase by doing this. So opt for body composition testing over the scale if you go this route. Your weight will go up but your belly fat will go down and you’ll look more like how I imagine you envision.

      3. Alcohol intake — you didn’t mention this in your daily nutrition breakdown. But just in case, it could be the culprit to the excess belly fat you mentioned. Granted, WHERE we hold excess weight is primarily genetic. But, second to genetics, I see alcohol as the greatest contributor to fat around the midsection.

      Let us know how it goes and if you have any other questions! Keep up the great work, Kevin.

  34. Hi Matt you are amazing, I wants to ask you for advice on how to loose 25 pounds. I weighted myself a week ago and I was so upset. I weight 185 this is the biggest I have ever been. The gyms where I live are still closed. And the only one that is open is an hour away where I live. I don’t mind driving there after work.

    1. Hi Marisol,

      Don’t fret! You don’t need a gym to lose weight. If you’re keen on dropping a few lbs, here’s where I would start:

      1. Stop weighing yourself and find somewhere where you can get body composition scans every 2-3 months.
      2. Snap a quick picture on your phone of every meal you eat and everything you drink for 2 weeks. This will give you a good launching off point for your diet baseline.
      3. Walk briskly for 30 minutes per day.

      With just these 3 things you’ll begin to find small tweaks here and there that yield positive results. If you find that this is difficult to stay accountable on these 3 easy steps then maybe it would be a good idea to find a personal trainer or some type of coached fitness studio to help you stay on the path.

      Keep us updated!

  35. This post for older people like me. Matt’s advice here helped me so much, if I lived in KC I would be training with him every single week. Go virtual! You have so much knowledge, compassion, and no gimmicks. I am a 5’5” small frame 59 y.o. Woman who was never fat, then injured my foot in a marathon in 2009. Crept up from 115 to 167 in that time. When the pandemic started I felt out of control, I live with and care for two senior parents and a handicapped husband and I do everything for everyone. I bet a million women have my story. I was just tired of being tired. This crappy imp on my shoulder just whispered “why try, you will just fail, give up and sit on the couch with me.” Started walking, telling the imp to STFU, and made it to 153 by New Years but stalled. The advice in here has helped me get going and make it to 138. I do love to walk and am guilty of too much cardio, but it’s “me” time, so, that is valuable for non diet reasons. Now I also interval walk, track my heart rate in the fat zone, do one or two days of slow jogging intervals, and one day a week I am actually able to slowly jog most of my 5 miles (at the embarrassing 13:30 pace, who cares). I added jump rope and strength training. I wish I could go back to the gym, my parents are vaccinated but not me. I don’t eat meat and have a tree nut allergy, so I got an RD to help me figure out what to eat so I wasn’t slowing my metabolism or starving. I eat mostly veggies, some fruit, fat free yogurt, cottage cheese, oatmeal, eggs, olive oil, occasional peanut butter, and that great Dave’s bread. I had to give up some healthy things (Triscuits?) because if it’s in the house I will eat the whole box. I do not think I will ever get back to my marathon runner weight and level of fitness, But I don’t want to be a weak old fat lady. Seeing my Dad? Being able to get back up when you are on the ground is a critical, vital skill we should all practice and keep. All the advice anyone needs is in these comments. Find an exercise YOU love to do, a healthy diet YOU will eat, and trust the process and be patient. Kick something around or to the curb when you reach a plateau, get a trainer to kick you back up, or talk to an RD to evaluate your diet. I’ve had three major eating cheats that weren’t too bad, but I don’t use “bad day, tired” or “random day in some month” as an excuse to scarf a plate of nachos. I still have a long way to go, but I see this is working. When I feel even a little falter-y I reread this page again, some new idea always pops up. Thank you Matt, over and over. I threw those fat pants AWAY.


      You are doing all the right stuff, Sara. Super proud of you.

      For anyone else reading, here are some key takeaways from Sara’s journey:

      1. “Me time cardio” — There is way more value in doing an exercise that makes you feel great vs. doing something you feel you “ought” to do. I wish more people gave themselves permission to move in ways they love.

      2. Talking to a professional — Sometimes people are dealt a tricky hand (tree nut allergies) and sometimes people BELIEVE they were dealt a tricky hand and use that belief to stall out. There are professionals out there who have dedicated their entire life to understanding this stuff and they really want to help. Seek them out.

      3. Great balance of tough love and compassion — This is where it’s at, Sara. We all have to walk that tight rope between “STFU” and self-care. You’re doing it beautifully.

      Keep up the great work. You’re an inspiration to us all and to your family.

  36. From age 18 to 45 I weighed a consistent 125, give or take 5 lbs. I never dieted, counted calories, or even thought about my weight. I ate whatever I wanted, but I prepared the vast majority of what I ate. By age 50, I seemed to have settled in at 130. Then I hit menopause, and over the next 8 years, I watched the scale inexorably creep towards the 150 mark. Despite the fact that I was already working out with a trainer twice a week, rode a bike, was active and had a good diet, the pounds just kept piling on. I looked ok, but I was starting to feel fat, something I’d never felt before.

    Two years ago, at 147 lbs. I knew I had to do something, but there weren’t really a whole lot of changes I could make. So I stopped drinking soda, and I stopped adding sugar to my daily coffee or tea. That’s it. Still no dieting, no calorie counting, and no intense exercising. Just my normal workout. And I still enjoyed a cookie with my nightly glass of milk.

    But then, I stopped thinking about it. I didn’t weigh myself daily, or even weekly, celebrating each pound lost and agonizing over every pound put back on. I just got used to the taste of coffee sans sugar.

    My doctor weighed me today, and I am 127 lbs. with my clothes on. Even through the pandemic, I did not gain weight, and those pounds show no sign of trying to return. I understand that a lot of the people here are interested in rapid weight loss, but I was not, as I do not believe that rapid weight loss is healthy or sustainable, as evidenced by the number of people who say the weight returns. Menopausal weight gain is notoriously difficult to lose and my 20 lb. loss took 2 years, not 2 months, but my 20 lbs. are never coming back.

    The other day, I stopped at Starbucks for a caramel macchiato, something I used to enjoy regularly, but hadn’t had in a long time. I even told the barista to use half the normal amount of syrup. But you know what? It didn’t even taste like coffee to me. It tasted like what it was: sugar. Sugar is the culprit, folks. It’s poisonous and it’s addictive. Cut that out, and you are halfway there.

    1. Hi Michelle!
      I am so happy to hear that those minute changes made such a difference in your life!
      Personally, at the end of highschool I was teetering into the 200’s (yikes!). I was tired, depressed, and overall felt gross with myself. And guess what…. my monthly Starbucks tab racked up to about $60 a month! You were right about what you said, sugar is poison. I am now down to the 170s on my way to the 140s, and now whenever I get Starbucks, i get espresso on ice with a splash of almond milk and sometimes a half pump of sugar free vanilla. GAME CHANGER! I only get this a couple times a month now, but ordering this vs the other indulgent drinks they offer has made me realize no one should be drinking that much sugar/fat in one sitting, just no reason for it. And now, I don’t even crave it anymore.
      Crazy how weight loss and healthy eating puts so many things in perspective you completely ignored before

    2. Congratulations on achieving your goal, Michelle. That’s a well-deserved celebration.

      And — you are correct — most of us have 200-250 calories in our diet that could very easily be removed each day. If your goal is fat loss, of course.

      Granted, cutting out 250 calories of sugar in this case would mean the weight loss may be slower than a 500 calorie daily deficit. But the benefit to cutting out these small things is that you hardly notice they’re gone! And by eliminating 250 calories of sugar — let’s say — you can predictably lose 1 pound of fat every two weeks.

      Now I must hop with a science caveat: there is nothing inherently wrong or bad with sugar, per se. In fact, anything we eat that is not meat or fat turns to sugar once digested. Even something as healthy as a carrot is converted to sugar once we eat it. But here’s the rub: You’d need to eat about 200 carrots to get the same amount of sugar as a Starbucks. So it’s not that sugar is bad or unhealthy or addictive. It’s that sugar (that is sugar in it’s natural, undigested state as in cookies and ice cream) is much easier to over-consume by volume. Sugar that is hidden in very fibrous foods like carrots and apples is much more difficult to over-consume because the fiber fills up your belly so much that you simply can’t cram enough in there to overeat it.

      Keep up the great work and thanks for sharing, Michelle!

  37. Hi Matt,
    I have lost 20 pounds since starting Feb. 23 of this year (so almost 3 months), with my SW at 196. I work out 6-7 days a week on a treadmill, with a combination of running as well as walking/jogging with inclination, and am not on any specific ‘fad’ diet, just eating cleaner and in moderation. (splurging occasionally on carbs since sweets aren’t my thing, I’m a sucker for all things bread! lol)
    I want to be down in the 140s range by the end of 2021, which I feel is a sustainable amount of time for healthy weight loss. I have been sitting in the mid 170s for a couple weeks now, and I am not sure why (maybe a plateau?)… so my question is, how do I get out of this slump? Or what other techniques can I utilize to get the ball rolling again?
    Any input is appreciated! Thank you:)

    1. Hi Jezebel,

      A few places where you can look to get you off the plateau:

      1. Weight training. Cardio is great for your first 20 pounds. But you’ll need to increase your resting metabolism if you want to lose the final 30. Heavy weight training is the best way to boost your metabolism. Think: big movements with a heavy barbell. Find a trainer or some YouTube tutorials if weight training is new to you.

      2. Body composition testing. Set a fat loss goal, not just a weigh loss goal. The scale can be deceiving. And, would you be just as happy if you weighed 155 but you looked like a BOSS and felt amazing? Sometimes our “goal weight” can differ from our goal “look” or “feeling”. Chase the look and feeling, not the scale. Knowing your body fat and lean tissue % will help you more.

      3. Protein. Most folks under-eat lean protein, which can stall progress. You should be eating 3-4 servings of lean protein the size of your hand each day. I’d be willing to bet you’re at about 1/2 that amount.

      Try these out and let us know how it goes!

  38. Hey Matt,

    I stumbled on this blog by searching “How to lose 20 pounds in 5 months. I have to say, you are very encouraging. Anyhow, I have a sedentary job, diabetic, solidly built, but I am overweight by a lot. I weigh 222.4 pounds and I am 5’3. I joined this program at work that helps to motivate healthy eating and weight loss. I started 1 month ago and haven’t done anything significant but weighed in today and gained 3 pounds from when I started (new weight above). I have to be 199 pounds by mid October (5 months from now) to complete the program and meeting the goal (10% of what my starting weight was). Anyhow, what do you suggest for me to meet this goal by the target date? I of course what to loose way more than that, however, I need to do this in increments because I want to be able to maintain. I do have a whole body composition and it is not pretty. Here it goes:
    fat% – 50.6%
    Fat Mass – 112.6 lb
    FFM – 109.8 lb
    Muscle Mass – 104.2 lb
    TBW – 79.8 lb
    TBW% – 35.9%
    Bone Mass – 5.6 lb
    BMR – 6632 KJ
    Visceral Fat – 14
    BMI – 39.4
    Degree of Obesity – 79.1%
    Ideal weight is 124.2 lb

    What can you suggest for me to get started? I have to say, I was so disappointed to weigh in and see that I gained 3 pounds in 1 month and I didn’t even feel it happening. I actually thought I lost at least 1-2 pounds. I’ve walked more and ate less.

    Please point me in the right direction. Thank you in advance. Diana

    1. Hi Diana,

      Well you’ve already taken my first piece of advice and established some accountability with your colleagues. This is HUGE! Find a way to maintain this after the work challenge is complete.

      Next, there are two simple things I want you to do:

      1. Briskly walk for 25 minutes/day. You should do this first thing in the morning to ensure it gets done and you feel you have accomplished something amazing each day. (You’ll eat better throughout the day, too).

      2. Snap a picture of everything you eat and drink everyday for 7 days. Don’t change anything at all. Do what you’d normally do. Just take a picture of it first.

      That’s it.

      You’re at the stage in weight loss where you need to learn how to start a new habit. This should be all you focus on for a good 3 months. Routine & habit. These are the foundations to a healthier weight. Once you have them in place, you will be able to implement changes in diet and exercise. But if you implement a change without learning a habit, you won’t stick to it long enough to see the results.

      So, again: Walk 25 minutes every morning & snap a picture of 1 week’s worth of food and drink.

      Check back in soon!

  39. It is very rare to find a level headed viewpoint about weight loss and healthy living on the internet! I found this article very helpful. I’m not sure why so many comments are negative. I think you are on point! One problem I’ve experienced is not losing weight through exercise alone. I started running last year and was certain the pounds would fall off because I am heavier, but I did not change my eating or drinking so I lost nothing. I guess I was getting hungrier after exercising. Oddly enough, I lost 23 pounds in about 4-6 month period after I quit running! It was accomplished primarily through change in diet and I have kept it off for 4 months so far. I found that slowly transitioning my focus to wholesome foods and cutting back on processed carbs, sweets, and deep fried foods did the trick for me. I did not count calories which caused a real change in habits that I could maintain. I also credit my switch to eating vegan to my weight loss but I know that isn’t right for everyone. I chose vegan for ethical reasons but it also helps me eat a lot more fruits and vegetables and whole grains.

    I’m now starting a journey to lose another 20 pounds and I am incorporating exercise this time. I plan to follow a lot of your advice. I like the idea of cutting back to 3 drinks per week. I know a lot of my calories come from alcohol and I’ve been wanting to cut back cut other personal reasons as well.

    It seems that your advise is very sound – based on science and your observations from helping people lose weight. Thank you!

  40. Matt is seriously not taking in all the variables like trt and p.e.ds and maybe sarms. That can protect your muscle while you operator on a deficit, if your a man past their 30’s with children hop on trt and eat protein, vegs & drink water stay within 1000-1200 calories 8-12 weeks mix in 3 good 1 hour weight training sessions with 20 mins of hit cardio prework out a week and I bet you will peel off 30-40 pounds of fat and water and I have lab results to back up my claims.

    1. LOL… yes, you are correct Zee. I should never assume that some things are a given. But since you brought it up:


      All kidding aside, low testosterone can negatively affect weight and body composition. Absent other circumstances like poor diet, lack of adequate protein, lack of weight training, hormone testing is a viable path for folks as they age. I support talking to a reputable physician if necessary. But not some bro-science idiot on the internet like me 🙂

  41. Hi Matt!
    Thanks for the above. It was a bit of a read, all in all, but exactly what I needed today.

    I’m wondering if you’ve had any experience working with postpartum/nursing mothers. My little guy will be 6 moths soon, and I’m looking for a safe (and baby-feeding-friendly way) to lose some weight.

    Some particulars: I’m 30 years old, 5’ 4”, and weigh just shy of 150 lbs. I don’t own a scale, (one of my siblings struggled with body image problems as a child, so I threw away our family scale and have never owned one since) and to see that number come up at a checkup was both discouraging and a bit alarming. This number has not dropped much since having the baby, and it seems like I will need to take a much more proactive approach to lowering this number back into a healthy range than I needed after my previous babies. Your article caught my eye, because weighing 130 lbs (20 lbs down) would put me squarely in the “normal weight” BMI category. I don’t have a set timeline in mind, but being able to fit back in my prepregnancy clothes by the fall would be awesome!

    My main concern is this: if I try to cut back calories, it very quickly affects my milk production. I am concerned that excessive exercise will have the same effect. My lifestyle is nowhere near sedentary at the moment, and I spend almost all day on my feet. (Walks, park visits, chasing after kids.) As such, I feel like I need to start engaging in some higher intensity activities to lose the weight.

    Any advice on how/where to start? I used to run cross-country competitively in high school/college but that was 6 years, 3 kids and 1 ACL surgery ago… However, getting back into running is still a dream of mine. My husband (and very supportive accountability buddy) is into weightlifting, so I have access to some equipment, but neither of us know how or when to safely start some basic weight training. All fitness centres/classes in our region are still closed, and will remain that way for the foreseeable future.

    I realize that this is a bit of a specific situation, but any insight you could offer would be so greatly appreciated. Many thanks!

    1. This is a great question and one I get a lot.

      First off – congrats on the new addition to your family!

      Secondly – your body just went through A LOT. Your hormones, metabolism, and cells are all fully-focused on feeding your son right now. While it is certainly difficult to bring your mind’s goals in line with your body’s right now, your body’s will always take priority.

      With all that being said, I will defer to your pediatrician on calorie intake. I know from my experience working with new moms that your metabolism is burning right now and your calorie intake will be through the roof. Make sure you’re eating whole foods, adequate protein, and lots of both! Once you’re on the back-end of nursing you can begin to explore a small calorie deficit as part of a weight-loss tool.

      Now that’s not to say that you can’t begin to use exercise as a tool right now. But I do have one major rule when it comes to postpartum exercise: Find something you can fall in love with that makes you feel great. NOT something you’re doing to fit into certain clothes.

      So if you love running, it gives you energy, and you can’t wait for your next run — do that! If that’s yoga – awesome! If you’ve always wanted to try weight training – now’s a great time.

      Rule #1 comes above all else.

      Now, as far as specific recommendations go, I will always, always, always encourage women to lift heavy weights. It’s incredibly important to retain bone density as you enter your 30’s. And – especially for mom’s – lifting heavy weights will increase your resting metabolism immensely. This increased resting metabolism provides busy moms a buffer against the inevitable fast-food run or quick microwave meal during those scarce quiet, nap-time moments.

      Start with basic, full body movements: Dead lift, front (or goblet) squat, bench press, lunge, and rows. Start off with 3 sets of 12 repetitions as heavy as possible with 2-3 minutes rest between each set. Choose 3-4 movements each day and rest a when you feel excessively sore. Increase your weight by 5-10 pounds each week. “Starting Strength” by Mark Rippetoe would be a great book to reference as you’re just starting out.

      And perhaps this can be a good bonding time for you and hubby? Maybe you could get a whiteboard and write your week’s lifting sessions by your weight set. Then, you can keep track of how much weight and how many repetitions you complete week-over-week. It will be very fun and rewarding to watch each other’s progress.

      But the rules still apply:
      – don’t worry about weight loss until your through nursing… it’ll happen when your body and your son are ready for it to happen.
      – find something you love and gives you energy.
      – lift heavy weights ONLY if it falls in line with the above two points.

      Please come back and give us a status update. You rock, mama!

  42. Hi,

    I really appreciate this article and everyone’s comments. I’ve been slim and active my whole life until I contracted a chronic illness that affects movement and sleep quality. I don’t drink, hate soda, rarely eat sweets or snacks, make all homemade food yet I’ve ballooned to 160lbs at 5’2 and can’t lose any weight. I eat around 1200 cal per day naturally as I don’t have a big appetite. What can you suggest for someone with chronic pain? It’s so frustrating to have no results as someone who was slim naturally for 30 of my 47 years. My activity is capped at about a 15 walk per day pain-wise. I’m taking no meds that slow my metabolism or contribute to weight gain. I can’t even lose 1 lb and being this big is worse for my mental health than my chronic pain. Anything you can suggest for fat loss in my situation?

    1. Great questions, Annie. And it sounds very frustrating to say the least.

      Let’s start with the math and work backward from there:

      Using some very rough numbers from your post one could assume your Basal Metabolic Rate is around 1,400 cal/day. Combine that with your 15 minute walk + some household chores and it’s safe to say you require about 1,700 cal/day to maintain.

      So a 1,200 cal/day diet would put you at a healthy 500 cal deficit, leading to 1 pound of fat loss every week… without any additional exercise.

      So your first course of action should be to do a really thorough food and drink log for 2 full weeks. I’ve trained some folks who have a different routine Mon-Fri than on the weekend. So there may be some extra weekend calories you’re not accounting for. Remember: fat loss occurs as an average over many many months. If you consume an extra 1,000 calories on the weekends (not that difficult to do!) that brings your daily average up to over 1,340.

      Try that first to get a very accurate accounting before you escalate to the next point.

      If your strict food log still shows an average of 1,200 cal/day I would suggest that it is time to get some blood work done and take a more thorough look at medication side effects (I couldn’t tell if your post meant “I’m not taking ANY medications right now” or if you meant “I’m not taking anything for which weight gain is a common side effect.”)

      Medications can sometimes have downstream effects that lead to weight gain even if it’s not expressly stated as a direct side effect.

      So I’d encourage you to seek out a Functional Medicine Doctor (ideally on recommendation from the MD treating your chronic illness). They will be well versed in triaging various blood panels to isolate potential causes of the weight gain.

      Now for the movement/exercise piece, this is a tough one. On one hand “chronic pain” is rarely caused by structural issues in the body. For example, someone may have chronic lower back pain even though an MRI doesn’t show any evidence that would prevent that same person from working out.

      Other chronic pain causes – like neuropathy – can cause some issues with balance and spatial awareness, requiring many exercises to modified for safety.

      But in nearly all cases, movement and exercise alleviate the symptoms of chronic pain considerably. It’s just a matter of choosing the right exercise for safety and creating positive associations with movement while choosing them.

      To expand on “positive associations”: Let’s say that every time you go for a walk you’re thinking “this is gonna hurt”, “this is all I can do”, “I’m never going to lose this weight”. Your body will reinforce pain signals for that particular movement. Let’s say that you go to the pool for exercise and – as you’re in the water – you take deep, steady breaths. You breath with your movement. You enjoy the way the water feels as your hands and arms move through it. You’re now creating positive associations with that movement.

      I know it sounds pretty hippy-dippy “woo-woo” energy to think of movement that way. But there are a lot of very compelling peer-reviewed studies that arrive at this conclusion. Foam rolling, for example, has been found to not necessarily “loosen muscles” but rather it’s been found to be a primarily neurological “release” by creating new, positive pathways to the affected areas.

      So, to recap:

      – 2 weeks strict food log
      – If you were correct in your calorie assessment, get some blood and hormone testing.
      – Find some calm, positive movements that you’re excited about

      And, of course, come back and give us an update!

  43. Hey, I am only 13 years old and almost 200 pounds. I really want to lose 20-30 pounds over the summer. What would be the best way for a kid to lose weight? I am pretty active, but I love food! I swim ‘vigorously’ 3 days a week for an hour and a half. I play softball 3 days a week for about an hour. I also am outside constantly. Any advice would help!
    P.S. actual weight: 189, also I might be heavier because I am 5 foot 9.

    1. Hi Alli,

      Thanks so much for the question and for reaching out.

      First off – it’s important to realize that at 13 years old your body is going through a LOT of changes. (No crap, right?!)

      But just so you understand: Currently your hormones are delivering a lot of nutrients to your bones and muscles. Your bone density is increasingly A LOT and your muscles will begin to grow and develop at a VERY fast rate.

      Think of it like driving a car: When you’re driving a car as fast as it can go it will burn a TON of fuel. If you’re driving along at a steady 55 mph, you’ll burn very little fuel. If you’re driving as fast as the car can go and guzzling a lot of gas, you’d want to stop more often at gas stations to fuel up… you wouldn’t want to get stranded, right?

      Your body is currently going through something similar. While your body is delivering nutrients and protein to your bones, muscles, and connective tissue it will tend to keep it’s “gas tank” fuller than when it’s coasting along. So you’ll often times see kids and young adults add weight leading up to a time of bone & muscle development.

      So the important thing to understand here is: respect where your body is at this stage and be patient. I know that can be very difficult — especially at this age. Trust me – I was a really “chunky” kid until I was 16-17 years old. It wasn’t until I was done with puberty and started to lift weights that I felt at least halfway comfortable in my own skin.

      NOW… that’s not to say that you shouldn’t care about your HEALTH. But health and weight loss are two very different things.

      So a couple really simple things you can do from a diet perspective:

      1. Limit soda to 1 per day, if any.
      2. Limit pre-packaged sugary snacks to also 1 per day.

      But the most important advice I can give a 13 year-old is to find physical activities that you LOVE! Try as many as you possibly can: rock climbing, basketball, golf, martial arts, weightlifting… sky’s the limit. And it sounds like you really enjoy being active which is great!

      Then once you’re obsessed with FUN physical activities try to use nutrition to fuel those activities. If you have a crappy swim session, take a look at what you ate and drank leading up to it. Or maybe try different foods and snacks that seem “healthy” and determine if you swim faster or longer with those options.

      But I want you to not think of this as dieting. Think of it as performance; as trying to be awesome at the activities you love. And don’t think of physical activities as a way to lose weight (how f’ing boring). Physical activities and exercise should make you feel like a badass, not a punishment.

      You stick to that and you’ll really enjoy your teenage years and forget that you even wanted to lose the weight. Then, you’ll wake up one day and notice that you “accidentally” fell in love with what your body can DO and then you’ll have a healthy relationship with what your body looks like because you’ll be proud of your accomplishments.

      Keep up the great work. You’re a rockstar.

  44. I’m battling the over 50 overnight weight gain. Nothing I did in the past is working. I eat about 1000 calories. No carbs, very little sugar, do not snack at all. When I do eat, its all healthy. I try to walk as much as I can but my back is an issue. Any other secrets you can think of for this difficult category?

    1. Ah yes… this is a tough one, Anna.

      What I’ve often seen is that the habits of weight loss become more difficult to adopt later in life. In a weird way, younger people who struggle with their weight almost have a hidden blessing: They had to learn the habits at 25 years old. At 50, EVERYONE must learn the habits.

      So as far as “secrets” for weight loss go, there really are none. It’s best to think of them as the “habits” of weight loss. So, the habits that you’ll want to eventually adopt are the following:

      1. Eat whole foods, mostly plants, and adequate protein… that you prepare.
      2. Eat all the “treats” you want, but you must make them yourself (no packages).
      3. Lift heavy weights 2 times/week.
      4. Get your heart rate going for 25 minutes 2 times/week.

      These will be tough habits to adopt for the long term. Most people can do it for 2-3 weeks but you won’t see any results in that short of time.

      Now, for specifics:

      – 1,000 calories/day. Unless you’re 5’00” and 110 pounds, these are way too few calories for your metabolism to operate properly. Instead adopt this method for “calorie” counting:

      For each meal x3/day, your plate should be:
      – 50% colorful veggies: broccoli, leafy greens, bell peppers, asparagus, etc.
      – A portion of lean protein the size of your hand
      – 25% starchy vegetable (potatoes, cauliflower, beets) or rice

      Another way that my over 50 population accidentally consumes way too many calories of “healthy” foods is with nuts. They’re healthy, right?! Yes they are absolutely very healthy, but nuts are not a substitute for protein and the serving size is very, very small. If you like to grab handfuls of almonds, etc. try substituting it with a beef jerky or other easy protein source.

      Next, you will definitely want to hire a trainer for 8-12 weeks to provide some instruction and accountability. Eventually you can transition to some group exercise or doing it on your own. But you’ll need the accountability starting out. I recommend that you start off 2 days per week with the trainer lifting weights – dumb bells, kettlebells, barbells, and sandbags. The trainer will ensure that your back doesn’t bother you during the movement. Over time you’ll find that strengthening your back will pretty much eliminate symptoms – this is almost universal barring any structural issues.

      On the two days that you’re not lifting weights try to find a lower-impact cardio movement that you enjoy. This can be a stationary bike, rowing machine, or a road bike. My guess is that your back prevents you from jogging or walking fast enough to elevate your heart rate into a “cardio” zone. So you’ll need to find something that you can use for cardio while your back strengthens.

      But, again, the habits are the most important. If someone reaches 60 without weight gain it means that they either have a job that has incredible physical demands OR they’ve been preparing their own meals everyday for years and working out 3-5 days a week for decades. It’ll take some time but there’s no better time to start!

      Keep us posted, Anna.

      1. Hi Matt. I played college football and my coaches had me pack on a ton of weight. I went from 220 to 280 freshman to senior year. Now I’m needing to lose that weight. I get married next April 2022. Is it possible to get down to 220 or even 240 by end of year or March? 24 yrold male. 5’9 currently 280 would love to get down to 240 or 220. Thanks

        1. Great question, Wes.

          At 24 years old with weightlifting history, this will be an easy one. And your timeline is very reasonable. I’m confident you’ll hit this goal.

          First thing you’ll want to do is do some bodyfat testing. Instead of shooting for a target weight, I’d encourage you to shoot for a target bodyfat %. At your age, somewhere in the 15% range +/- 2% would be great. You’ll feel better and lighter but it’s not such a low % that you are miserable leading up to the big day.

          My guess is that – as a collegiate athlete in an explosive position – you have a pre-disposition to retain a higher amount of muscle density. So you may head down the road of “weight” loss and actually still weigh more than you want but with a lower bodyfat %. But you’ll look and feel great in your tux.

          FOR WORKOUTS:
          – You’re a great candidate for CrossFit or some other HIIT type training (i.e. Orange Theory, Boxing, Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, etc.) Find something you enjoy that allows you to compete with yourself. My guess is that you currently don’t train with the same enthusiasm you did while playing football. There are lots of options out there. Try a few, keep your ego in check, have fun, and stay injury-free.

          – If you’re self-motivated and prefer to hit the gym solo, here’s the plan:

          1. Do all your standard barbell lifts – bench, dead, squats – in as many variations as you can imagine (dumb bells, barbells, hex bar, front squats, back squats, overhead squats, etc.). Do 3 sets of 12 reps of 2-3 major lifts at a moderate but challenging weight 3 times per week. Then do 2-3 sets of 15 reps of 2-3 accessory lifts after the major lifts. Think: triceps extensions, pull-ups, biceps curls, reverse fly’s… light weight, quality reps. This routine shouldn’t take more than an hour.

          2. For the 3 days/week that you’re not lifting, do 30 minutes of sustained cardio. Biking, jogging, elliptical, trail running, etc. Make sure that you do it at a pace that you can maintain for the entire 30 minutes and speak in full sentences at any time during the activity. This moderate pace will be crucial for your fat loss.

          Diet is where you’ll see the most fat loss leading up to your wedding.

          The challenge is that you’ve spent so much time eating meals in a way to maximize calorie intake for sport. So you have many years of positive reinforcement for eating as much as possible for each meal. Your stomach has likely grown to accommodate so much volume.

          My advice to former linemen looking to lose weight is to find some vegetables that you love. Brussels sprouts and roasted broccoli seem to be some favorites.

          When you eat a meal, it should look like this:

          – Lean protein the size of your palm (1.5 chicken breasts, 14 oz lean steak, etc)
          – 25% of your plate should be a starch – potato, rice, etc.
          – As many vegetables as you can stomach. Eat until you’re stuffed.

          And – I recommend you use your experience gaining weight as a tool to lose weight (fat). My guess is that you grew accustomed to an eating routine while playing ball; likely eating the same thing for every meal. If you don’t mind that strategy and neither does your fiance, it’s a very effective one. Find a breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snack that fit the parameters above and just eat the same 4 meals each day. Once you get the hang of it, you can branch out.

          Good luck, Wes, and let us know how it goes!

  45. Hi Matt. When I played football in college my coaches had me pack on weight. I was a defensive lineman and 220 out of high school. I went from 220-280 by senior year. Now that I’m getting married in April 2022 I’d love to lose that weight and get down to 240/220 by end of year or March for that matter. I loved reading your article and your reply’s. Do you think this goal is feasible in this time frame? I’m 5’9. 24yrold male

    1. I have been jumping off a “low carb” diet , after many years. I always scoffed the idea of Vegan as pure BS. I`m in mid 50`s now at 185 cm, 108kgs at writing ( I was 81 kgs and super fit at 21 yrs old and only got fat through poor drinking, eating and no exercise ~ mainly due to business) In June 15th,this year of 2021, I changed to Vegan just to see.

      Result at just over 1 month out is: a) 1 kg weight loss, b) Bad breath gone and regular bowel movements are back, c) Energy levels up d) Drinking more water, e) Pains in joints gone, f) Complexion has improved. g) Blood Pressure has dropped from an average of 165/110 down to 140/90 so far,with zero meds. h) I eat as much fruit and veggies and nuts as feel like, take no sugar, no dairy, no meat ~ do occasionally take in wild roasted or raw fish. Note i do around 1 hours cardiac exercise every day except 2 days a week.

      History Weight went from 81kg to 134kg from 1988 to 2009. Then from 2010 in 6 months it went from 134kg to 121kg after hiking 2 hours every second day for 6 months , then stabilised for 5 years. Low carb for last 2 yrs took off weight down from 121kg to 114kg. Heavy carb restriction and 1 hours exercise a day reduced it from Jan this year to end of March from 114kg to 110kg. In last month , this Vegan diet has pushed it through to 107kg so far.

      My conclusion so far is that Vegan approach or rather Fish- Vegan may be the best. Reason is the feeling is better, its easy to keep on and I feel the long term approach maybe be workable.

      My target is 85kg by December..I know it’s tough but feel it’s doable.

      2 big factors, I believe is working at least for me, is to increase to as much exercise as possible each day ~ at least an hour over each day ~ do anything you feel sustainable for yourself ~ but no less than 30 mins a time. Eating ~ eat as much as feel like and when feel like, but not after 7 pm

  46. Hi I’m 4’11 and 125 lbs. I do exercise almost everyday and do cheer. I only drink water and tea, rarely milk. I eat healthy meats but I do eat pasta. I don’t eat a lot of sugar. I drink a smoothie every morning; banana, blueberry, peach and milk. I would like to be down to 105 which is normal for my height. But I just do not understand why I can’t lose anything the majority of my uncomfortableness (fat) comes from my lower stomach, arms and legs and face. I’m not chubby nor and I skinny but I would love to be slimmer any tips ?

  47. Hi Hayley… thanks for stopping by and for your questions.

    Based upon the fact that you mentioned that you Cheer, I’m going to guess that you are less than 22-23 years old. My answer would have a few more caveats if you are in the 15-16 year old range. Check out the post above from June 14th from Allison for those thoughts ^

    Let’s start out with diet…

    “I eat healthy meats but I do eat pasta”

    Remember that there is nothing inherently wrong with carbs & pasta if you’re trying to lose weight. The reason that avoiding carbs has been an effective strategy for a lot of folks is that it is easier to OVER eat pasta than it is to OVER eat grilled chicken, for example. I mean… pasta tastes waaay better, right?!

    But you should realize that — as an active person — carbs help support that activity. Plus, carbs are enjoyable! Don’t feel like you need to label foods “good” and “bad” as you’ll see in the next point.

    “I don’t eat a lot of sugar. I drink a smoothie every morning; banana, blueberry, peach and milk.”

    This is a great example of how labeling a food “good” or “bad” can actually work AGAINST your goals. The smoothie you described probably has somewhere between 65-75 grams of sugar. A 12oz McFlurry w/ Oreos has 71 grams of sugar.

    Granted, your smoothie has WAY more fiber and micro-nutrients than a McFlurry but the calorie and sugar content is the SAME. Remember, weight loss is primarily based on calories… not “good” foods or “bad” foods.

    Another great example of how labeling food “good” or “bad” can cause weight gain is nuts. People know that nuts are “good for you”, right? They 100% are good for you, but they are also very dense with calories. It’s easy to eat several handfuls of almonds in one sitting without realizing that you just ate 600 calories. “Good” or not, and extra 600 calories a day will lead to weight gain.

    Some easy diet changes that will be helpful:

    – Keep the smoothie in your diet. But add ~25g of whey protein and drink 1/2 of it 45 minutes before your workouts and the other 1/2 within 30 minutes of completing your workout.

    – Skip the smoothie in the morning and replace it with 5 eggs and 1 piece of fruit (don’t turn the fruit into a smoothie.. chew it).

    – For your other meals of the day make sure that you’re eating a hand-sized serving of lean protein, 1/2 your plate full of veggies, and 1/2 your plate of pasta (YES!) or some other starchy carb.


    I imagine that Cheer practice is very cardio-focused. I imagine you do calisthenics, jogging, and plenty of aerobic activity. If that’s the case, there’s no reason to add extra cardio to your non-cheer workouts.

    Instead, add 2-3 days/week of HEAVY weight training. Try to find a gym with barbells, dumb bells, and kettlebells to do some serious lifting. Do sets of 6-8 repetitions of major lifts (squats, dead lifts, kettlebell swings, presses, etc), increasing the weight every week until failure. Continue to add weight until you’re unable to complete the reps in a given set, then go back and increase your reps at a lower weight.

    You might be hesitant to seriously lift weights, but this is the best way for you to increase your resting metabolism. While there’s no exercise to “target” certain “uncomfortable” areas (belly fat, primarily), increasing your muscle mass will torch fat while you’re resting… especially in these areas.

    To recap: eat more lean protein, save the smoothie for around your workouts, and lift heavy weights. You should see those 20 pounds start to melt off after 5-6 months of this consistent routine.

    Let us know how it goes!

  48. Hi Matt!

    Your advice is amazing and I really appreciate reading all your replies. Can you help?

    I am 29 yo female who recently lost 20lbs with intermittent fasting (OMAD or 16/8) but still wanted to lose another 40-50lbs. I am around 180 lbs right now and have been training for a month so far, 5x a week, doing 30-45mins power walking plus 30-45mins weight training (mostly upper body, some light weights for the legs) but not really losing much weight, maybe 1kg? However, I think I am a bit leaner. I am avoiding the squats, deadlifts etc as I am naturally rather muscular although holding a lot of excess body fat (I have large biceps when flexed, even with no working out whatsoever). I also have chunky legs :(. I would really like to lean out properly, any advice? Should I implement heavy weights anyway? Are my fears unfounded? Also, is the brisk walking sufficient cardio for my goal? I am avoiding running right now as I was running some 5ks and 10ks in Jan to Apr and managed to get runners knee in my right knee. Whilst running I leaned out a good amount, but put it all back on. Is there some low impact HIIT I should be doing? Please help!

  49. I am a 48 year old woman who gained 20 lbs during covid. I now weigh 165. I just this week started to spend some time and thought on me (after a year and a half of working remotely, remote schooling two kids, and helping my disabled husband.) I stopped drinking (was going through 3 or 4 glasses of wine a night), am eating a big green salad with a hard boiled egg for lunch, and a big glass of water with lime after dinner instead of snacking. And I started going for a half hour walk with my husband each morning. I was looking on the internet for some kind of encouragement or plan or sense of whether I’d ever fit back in my pants, and I found this page. I read all the questions and answers and I have to say, Matt, that your kindness and compassion and generosity and intelligence shine like a beacon. It’s been so lovely to spend “time” listening to you. I don’t even have a question, really (you answered it – if I stay consistent I will lose the 20 lbs over a few months), But wanted to say thank you for your positivity, and let you know that I am sending good thoughts and energy your way.

    1. Hi Rose!

      Well the good news (as you can see in the comments) is that you’re not alone. Thanks for your inspiration and dedication to feeling your best. Please keep us posted on your journey!

  50. Hi Sandra! Thanks for the questions!!

    First off — losing 20 pounds in a month is great! You’re in a common category of people who make an initial healthy lifestyle change. It’s easy to lose weight quickly when you make that first habit change… in your case it’s the switch to intermittent fasting.

    But I think it will be wise for you to re-frame your expectations of the time it will take to reach your goals. As you can see from all the previous comments, you can expect to sustainable lose 1-2 pounds per week. Anything more than that will not be fat loss and — therefore — will likely be gained back.

    So, as far as a timeframe is concerned, plan on the remaining 50 pounds to take at least 6 months… but likely 12.

    If you like intermittent fasting and think you can sustain it consistently for another year – keep it up! But if it becomes too much of a burden to fit into your daily and social life, just remember that i.f. works for weight loss PRIMARILY because it results in fewer calories consumed. Your stomach can only hold so much food before you feel full. So by restricting the timeframe you’re eating you are more likely to be full during the hours your “allowed” to eat. There is no drastic change in thermodynamics that occurs through fasting. Some people feel like they have better focus and energy while doing it, which is a good reason to continue. But there’s no magic here. A pound of fat still contains 3,500 calories of energy, regardless of when you eat.

    To answer your other questions:

    Is the brisk walking sufficient cardio for my goal?

    It’s tough to say without knowing your resting heart rate and your brisk walking heart rate. But since cardio for weight loss is achieved through exhalation of CO2 a good gauge should be your breathing rate while walking. You should be breathing hard enough to where it’s a challenge to speak a complete sentence without a breath. But you should be breathing slow enough to say a few words uninterrupted. At 29 y/o, however, I’d say that the walking is not sufficient. If your joints bother you while jogging, I’d recommend you find a bike, ski erg, or some other implement that allows you to breath moderately as described above for 25 minutes straight. No need to go much longer than that.

    Should I implement heavy weights anyway?

    Yes. But before you do, PLEASE go get a body composition test so you can attach a number to whatever you’re doing. Often times we can feel like our bodies are changing in a certain way but in fact the reality is very different.

    In all reality, the amount of testosterone required to “get bulky” from lifting weights is quite high. Most women who fall into the “bulky” category from lifting weight competed as collegiate athletes… meaning, their genetics pre-selected them for high-level sports competition. If you weren’t a competitive collegiate or professional athlete I wouldn’t worry about getting bulky. But get your body composition test so you can keep an eye on how much muscle mass you’re gaining.

    Serious weight training will boost your resting metabolism greatly. This is a common problem with runners & cardio enthusiasts — they lose their initial weight through cardio so they keep going down that road. But, eventually, you need to increase your cardio so much to maintain weight loss that you either run out of time or you get injured. Without weight training in your routine your only option to continue to lose weight with cardio is to keep adding mile after mile after mile. Eventually it all comes to a halt.

    “Spot welding”

    Your genetics are the #1 determining factor as to where you gain fat, lose fat, and gain muscle… and in what order each of those happen. There’s no magic exercise to do or to avoid in order to spot-train your “problem” areas. Your body will burn it’s excess fat in the order that mother nature intends based upon your genetics.

    So turn your focus away from “problem areas” and toward the process. The problem areas will be taken care of in their own time. I’d encourage you to find some workout routines that you get excited about getting better at… learn to dead lift and squat and push to improve your performance in those lifts. Set brisk walking goals – distance, time, etc. Learn to ride a bike, kayak, or hike. Learn some fun recipes that are protein-rich and tasty.

    Fall in love with the process and you’ll wake up one day at your goal weight. And the best part: you will have forgotten about the weight goal because you’re now the type of person who loves herself, her health, and her new routine.

    Keep up the great work and don’t forget to check back in with your progress!

  51. I am trying to lose another 10 lbs – have lost 10 already. I was just browsing some articles and like to read comments. I was not planning on commenting anything, but after reading the comments I have to say I am BLOWN AWAY by the way Matt responds to both trolls and earnest commenters with LONG, thoughtful responses! This must take up most of his day! Matt, you are truly doing a service to people and many times, not getting a client or anything in return. Please, know that you are making a difference and it is recognized!

    1. Hey there Elizabeth,

      Thank you so much for your kind words. And — honestly — this is my favorite part of my week. I spent nearly a decade feeling like crap about myself and my physique; chasing down every fad diet, supplement, and workout program I could find. Each time resulting in failure and more negative feelings.

      It wasn’t until I found a nutrition program and active lifestyle/workouts that I enjoyed that I finally stopped beating myself up. And — as you can imagine — I actually achieved my body composition goals. But the best part is that I no longer cared about the scale. I cared about having fun, using my body, and eating in a way that makes me feel my best. I truly believe that everyone can have a similar experience — regardless of age and starting point.

      Keep it up… We’re all rooting for you on the final 10, Elizabeth!

  52. Many people are not over weight they are grossly overweight. Myself included. My BMR for my weight, height and age was 1,838 calories. Multiply that by 1.2 for a sedentary life style and it became 2,206 calories to MAINTAIN my 210 weight. My “normal” weight should be 154 pounds. At 155 lbs, I was defined as “overweight and at 186 lbs as “obese”. This really hit me hard. The 154 lb “normal” BMR for sedentary was 1787 calories. That is over a 400 calorie difference. All I had to do was hydrate myself with 2-3 pints of water per day. By the end of the week I had GAINED 2 pounds but I understood it was water my body needed. One of the main impacts of being dehydrated is craving sugars. Late night sweet craving. Just this alone reduced my sugar intake by 95%. I don’t feel like I gave up anything, I just don’t crave them anymore. I’ve reduced my coffee intake from 3-4 12oz cups to 2-3 cups a day. Also reduced my cigarettes from 50-60 to 30-35. The water significantly reduced my stress levels. I make an effort to do yard work as this will burn calories for free. I have lost 15 lbs after 8 weeks. I may exceed the 154lb goal of 1787 calories twice a week but rarely exceed the MAINTAIN calorie threshold. You do not have to go extreme, you just need to strive to be normal. I have 45 more pounds (6 months) to go and when I get there maintaining my weight will be easy as I have already become accustomed to eating <1,800 per day without feeling like I am missing out on anything. MY goal is 1 12 oz coffee per day and to quit smoking with out ballooning it weight. I have tried to slow down or quit smoking but nothing has impacted that goal like drinking water.

    1. Hi Ray.. thanks for stopping by!

      I’m right there with you on the coffee! I went from 50+ oz. per day to 12oz. For me, I needed to make the change for better sleep. And, damn, was that hard! Now — on the other side of it — I could never go back because of how much sleep has helped me maintain body composition.

      I want to applaud you for using water to curb your appetite. Granted water isn’t nearly as effective as cigarettes for appetite suppression. But it sure is a much healthier alternative!

      On that note — I’d be remiss if I didn’t address the profound effect of cigarettes on a weight loss journey. Perhaps it would be helpful to think of your journey as two separate endeavors: quitting smoking and weight loss.

      As I’m sure you’re aware, cigarettes greatly reduce your appetite and the nicotine can have a slight metabolic effect. As you continue down this road I think it will be important for you to understand that your weight loss will fluctuate quite a bit as you reduce your cigarette consumption. You will most definitely see the scale move up as your tobacco intake goes down. This is completely normal and should be expected.

      While your BMR may be concerning to you, tobacco in this case, should be your focus. But don’t let it deter you in your weight loss journey.

      For what it’s worth, I’ve worked with a handful of cigarette users in the gym. They’ve all reported that the best tool for quitting was getting involved in a fun, high-intensity workout regime… things like CrossFit, HiiT, Jiu Jitsu, Boxing, etc.

      “Fun” is the important piece here. The new activity should be so engaging that you *want* to quit in order to participate more fully. Of course — clear everything with your doctor before jumping in head-first.

      You’ve chosen to embark on a difficult path here, Ray. I speak for everyone on this page in saying that we admire the shit out of you! But here’s the amazing part: the lessons you learn on this path are lessons you’ll keep for life. It isn’t only about your health or weight loss. It’s about doing the difficult thing when no one is watching; you’re taking positive steps for your future self, for your career, and for your relationships. ALL aspects of your life will benefit from the habits you create now. You’re a badass… you got this!

  53. Hi Matt,
    I am 57 , 5ft 5 with a post menopausal midriff , 140lb but the scales say I am obese with 33% body fat and frankly I don’t like how my body has changed! I run a couple of 5ks a week but currently have a hamstring injury after I extending the length of my runs to 14k too quickly. Th injury is getting better slowly. Feeling a bit lost on how to get rid of my belly and reduce my body fat whilst not running. It’s probably simple but can’t get it out of my head that its going to be very difficult because of my age. What would be a good approach for do you think?

  54. Hi Matt,
    I am 57 , 5ft 5 with a post menopausal midriff , 140lb but the scales say I am obese with 33% body fat and frankly I don’t like how my body has changed! I run a couple of 5ks a week but currently have a hamstring injury after I extending the length of my runs to 14k too quickly. Th injury is getting better slowly. Feeling a bit lost on how to get rid of my belly and reduce my body fat whilst not running. It’s probably simple but can’t get it out of my head that its going to be very difficult because of my age. What would be a good approach do you think?

  55. Great question, Jacqui. And it illustrates a great point that we’ve seen crop up on this forum many times: Using cardio only for weight loss almost always results in either injury or weight gain.

    Cardio is great weight loss tool initially, but it doesn’t raise your resting metabolism. So in order to continue to see weight loss with cardio alone you must continue to add mile after mile until there’s a break in the system.

    So in order to see more sustainable and less injurious weight loss you need to incorporate workouts that increase your metabolism. These two workout types are: High Intensity Interval Training (HiiT) and Strength (heavy weight) training.

    HIIT is done by completing a high intensity period of work followed by a rest period. The more intense the work, the more rest you must include. An example of this may be: 100m full sprint followed by 00:30 of rest for 8 rounds.

    HIIT increases your metabolism through Excess Post Oxygen Consumption. Your body consumes more oxygen during the day following a HIIT session. Through increased O2 intake, your body sheds more Carbon Dioxide — the “car” that bodyfat drives on its way out of your body.

    Strength training is lifting progressively heavier weights in sets of 6-15 with 2-3 minutes rest in between. It’s most efficient when you do large, full-body, compound movements. Things like barbell squats, dead lifts, bench press, shoulder press, kettlebell swings etc.

    The important thing to keep in mind here is that you must continually increase the weight you lift and you must not be afraid to go to failure (do so under the supervision of a trainer at first if you have no experience). Most people will grab light dumb bells and do a body building routine (biceps curls, triceps extensions, shoulder raises, etc.). This is not effective for weight loss because these are generally accessory and body building movements that must be done at extremely high volume in order to see results. While it may sound counterintuitive most novices will see results from big barbell movements (like the deadlift) vs. small, single-joint movements like the biceps curl. This is because it takes many years to develop the tolerance and tendon strength to experience hypertrophy from these traditional body building movements.

    Strength training increases your metabolism by increasing your muscle tissue and bone density. These oxygen-consuming tissues require more energy to maintain, thereby gobbling up calories while you’re at rest and asleep even.

    Lastly, diet/nutrition:

    There’s no need to overthink things here. The principles are fairly simple but will require some mindfulness:

    1. Eat whole, real foods that you prepare yourself.

    If you cooked it from it’s raw ingredients you can eat it! Even if it’s cookies… make sure that you make them from scratch and you’ll likely be moderate with it.

    2. Protein.

    I’d bet good money that you’re not eating enough protein. Protein is the building blocks of your muscle tissue and tendons, which is why it will help increase your metabolism.

    Based upon the info you shared (granted, I’d prefer a full body scan but this is general enough to be applicable) you should be consuming around 100-110 grams of lean protein per day. I’d bet you’re somewhere around 1/2 this amount. Try to consume 3 protein portions the size of your palm each day. You can supplement with a post-workout whey protein shake.

    3. Your plate

    With each meal your plate should be 1/2 veggies or leafy greens, 1/4 starch (potato, white rice, cauliflower, etc), and 1/4 lean protein (fish, lean steak, chicken, etc.)


    And since you brought it up we can address the age issue. While there are very real biological and hormonal changes that occur while we age, my practical experience tells me that this is NOT the reason folks struggle later in life.

    Habit and belief. While it’s pretty simple (not easy!) to lose weight, starting a new habit is the hardest part. And belief that you can make a change is the first hurdle to start the habit.

    But I’m confident in your situation, Jacqui. It sounds like you already make time for exercise and I’m certain you’ve made some nutritional considerations to support your running. Now you just need to take the habits you’ve built and shift them to some new methodologies.

    Be patient… these things take time. And the difficult piece will be mindset and habit. So address those early on and you’ll be successful in no time!

  56. There is no secret formula to lose weight (fat), just as there’s no secret formula to gain weight (fat) !!

    I always reflect on my past habits with the food abuse, the lack of activity and the total neglect of the basics that my body craved for (water, vegetables, fruits etc). Over the years I have learnt to “listen to my body, my emotional needs and requirements because they are so heavily entwined with each other. For and example, some days I just crave a full plate of bright, mixed coloured vibrant blanched vegetables. I take a breath, become present which allows be to achieve more balanced and healthier state of mindfulness……….and I “listen” intently. My self is screaming out for all the benefits that vegetables provide that I have neglected.

    I also truly believe that it has to be a complete lifestyle change in how we lived our lives in the past through neglect and abuse (alcohol, sugary soda’s etc). However, this change is so very rewarding and it doesn’t take much time to achieve. I also believe that the number 1 reason why people stop exercising is due to boredom and repetition. We are able to implement such a vast array of physical activities and exercise routines, with proven positive results, into our workouts. The importance of workout variation also cannot be underestimated. If you perform the same routines day in, day out, your body becomes “bored” and you become “bored and stale”. Try and shock your body with incorporating and switching routines up; weights, cardio, HIT, boxing bag, cycling, skipping…….only ourselves and lack of imagination prevents us. I try out some completely random, sometimes weird movement. Sometimes it works and feels absolutely fantastic, other times it’s a dud and I embarrass myself (actually I don’t care what I look like and what people think of me, I’m way to involved, optimistic and pumped up for life to care ;))

    The hardest thing about exercising is the actual “thought of exercising”. Over many years I have learned to shut these thoughts and feelings out, and my thoughts and focus is on how good I feel after the workout and a wonderful, almost ice cold shower to exhilarate my whole body and general wellbeing.
    Wow……….I’m off for a run xx

  57. I did it! Started a new routine in April (5 months ago). I bought a VR headset called a Quest 2 and an Apple Watch. I only play games that make you stand and move for around 60-90 minutes a day, every day. I track move and exercise goals in the apple watch. Anytime I use the VR headset I track it as a VR workout. My eating – I haven’t changed much other than making sure I don’t over eat. Also I try to avoid soda and supplemented it with tea or Arnold Palmer ice tea that I make. As of today I’ve dropped 20 lbs and I plan on keeping this up until next year. It hasn’t been that hard because I’m not really giving anything up anything and its SO much fun. Most of the time I end up using the VR around 9 pm. So after the day settles down when I would normally start watching tv. If I’m on vacation and I don’t have it with me I just try to get some walking in and hit the goals that way. The one rule I have is that I try my best never to skip a day. Which is were I always failed at the gym. I would decide to go 3 – 4 times a week and something would happen and I would stop going. After 4 months of paying for a membership and going once or twice I would cancel the membership.

    1. YO CK!!!

      This is great. I’m so thrilled when I hear someone find something that works for them… and even better when it’s something as unconventional as VR workouts. I have one myself and I LOVE it! My favorite workout game is Thrill of the Fight… it’s one of the toughest cardio workouts I’ve ever done!

      I also want to highlight the principles of your success so anyone reading this can apply them to their own goals and interests.

      1. FUN: When I train coaches I always tell them that a workout must be FUN, then SAFE. This might seem counterintuitive to some. But who is going to come back to workout if it wasn’t fun?!

      You MUST find something about the process that you love. Whether that’s a VR headset or ultra-competitive workouts. There has to be something that keeps you coming back day after day that is NOT related to the weight loss goal. Weight loss takes a long time of incredible consistency. If you’re only focus is the weight, you won’t stick to a program long enough to realize the weight loss goals. If you truly love the process you’ll lose the weight without needing to overly focus on the weight.

      2. RULES: I like your rule of never skipping a day. These small micro-goals help build momentum toward the larger, long-term goal.

      I have a major sweet tooth. Sour Patch Kids are my kryptonite. So whenever we have them in the house I try to make a rule where I have to eat the same amount of calories of lean protein as I do candy. I’d eat a couple SPK’s followed by some beef jerky.

      But keep up the great work, CK. I’m so stoked to hear of your success so far. Check back in, please!

      1. Thank you so much for you’re reply!. Yes I agree Thrill if the Fight is absolutely terrific. The first time I played it I went 1 round and felt like a fish out of water gasping for air. Since then I’ve gotten a lot better and I can do 4 or 5 rounds with no problem except a ton of sweat everywhere 🙂 I think the game motto is, “The game doesn’t level up, you do!” or something like that.

        If anyone is interested here are some of my favorite workout / active games. I cycle through them, so I might play one nonstop for a while and then switch back to another or mix it up during a week:
        Thrill of the Fight
        Pistol Whip
        Until you Fall

  58. I am currently 5’2 and 140 pounds. I aim to lose 20 pounds in half a year or 1 year at most. I only have 40-50 minutes of spare time to exercise each day, but I maintain a fairly healthy diet (peanuts, walnuts, pistachios and milk in the morning, a lettuce, carrot and tomato salad with shredded cheese and an apple for lunch, and a chicken leg with 4 fistfuls of carrots, some broccoli, and a glass of milk for dinner). When I started my diet, I started losing 1 or 2 lbs on the first few days, then I rapidly gained them back for no particular reason in the following days. Any help?

  59. This is a really great question, Cindy. Thanks for posting.

    The first piece to understand here is what occurs when weight is gained or lost rapidly.

    You mentioned that you lost 1-2 lbs the first few days then rapidly gained them back.

    Whenever I hear of someone losing & gaining weight this quickly, it usually means one of two things:

    1. You fasted for 24 hours+ and you simply don’t have 1-2 pounds of food in your body during that period of time.

    2. Keep in mind that your weight will fluctuate 5+ pounds in a given 24 hour period, regardless of diet. You may have weighed yourself at different times of day. When you first wake up, for example, you’ll weight significantly less because you are dehydrated & you have not eaten since your last meal.

    3. You lost water weight because you quickly reduced your carbohydrate intake. Your muscles store water that is transported using carboHYDRATES. this is called glycogen store. When you immediately eliminate or greatly reduce the number of carbs you consume the water stores in your muscles become depleted. In the short-term you lose water weight because your tissue has de-hydrated. But you’ll eventually reach a homeostasis where insulin will re-adjust the amount of glycogen it transports. That’s when you’ll see the weight gain.

    “for no particular reason”

    The purpose of this article and thread is to help people understand the science behind weight gain and weight loss. If you take medication, chronic disease, and some genetic factors out of the mix weight gain and weight loss is pretty simple.

    Although it is a simple process, it is a VERY difficult one. “Simple, not easy” is a very common phrase I use when talking with folks about weight loss.

    There are 2 potential and likely reasons why you gained the weight back. It could be one or both:

    1. You lost water weight through carb restriction then gained it back when your body adapted.

    2. Your new diet is clean & “healthy” but contains more calories than your body needs right now.

    We’ve already addressed #1.

    In looking at your typical day of the new diet, here’s what I estimate:

    1. peanuts, walnuts, pistachios and milk in the morning: 75% fat / 20% carbs / 5% protein

    2. a lettuce, carrot and tomato salad with shredded cheese and an apple for lunch: 60% fat / 40% carb

    3. a chicken leg with 4 fistfuls of carrots, some broccoli, and a glass of milk for dinner: 40% protein / 40% carbs / 20% protein

    Please note: these are VERY ROUGH estimates to illustrate a point about macro-nutrients.

    As you can see your diet is very low on protein and very high in fat and moderate in carbs.

    Granted, fats are a healthy, essential macro-nutrient. But they are also the most calorie-dense of the macro-nutrients clocking in at 9 calories per gram compared to 4 calories per gram of protein, for example.

    In short: a diet heavy in fats is a diet where it is very easy to over-consume calories to feel full.

    I typically recommend a macro-nutrient ratio of 40% carbs / 30% protein / 30% fat.

    I’d guess your current ratio is 35% carbs / 10% protein / 55% fat

    Try boosting your protein intake to where a typical meal looks more like the dinner you described. Cut the nut intake by at least 1/2 and replace it with a palm-sized piece of lean protein at each meal.

    You’ll feel just as full as you do now, but will be consuming about 350 less calories each day. You’ll meet your weight loss goals in the timeframe you described with this calorie deficit.

    Try it for 6 weeks then post your results here. Good luck!

  60. I agree with some of this but some of what you’re saying is actually the reason why people fail: “exercising vigorously for three to five hours per week” to lose 20lbs in 5 months and that you’ll likely need to hire a personal trainer. These are both complete exaggerations. For a rate of 20lbs in 5 months you do not need to exercise that much. For people starting out on a weight loss journey thinking they need to do this is what sets them up to burnout and fail. Weight loss in the kitchen fitness in the gym is key for 20lbs in 5 months. Move your body more (as simple as going for a walk each day) and watch what you’re eating but don’t restrict. It doesn’t need to be more complicated than that.

  61. You are 100% correct, Ali.

    By the numbers to lose 20 lbs of bodyfat you must create a 70,000 calorie deficit. Across 5 months, this amounts to about a 470 calorie per day deficit that can be achieved by eating a little less or moving a little more… best if a combo of the two.

    You can achieve this deficit with a 5 mile per day walk or by cutting out something as easy as a daily sugary coffee drink.

    So — yes — by the numbers, it’s pretty straightforward. And you certainly don’t need vigorous exercise and a personal trainer to hit these numbers.

    But what you must do in order to hit these numbers is to do your walk or cut your calories EVERY SINGLE DAY for 150 days. No stressful days, tough weeks, or busy schedules can get in the way.

    And that’s the tough part, isn’t it?

    I’ve probably used this example several times in this thread already but it’s worth highlighting again:

    Flossing your teeth.

    1. EVERYONE knows it’s the most important thing to do for oral hygiene.

    2. It only takes you 45 seconds to complete.

    3. It costs less than a penny a day.

    4. It is an investment that will save you thousands of dollars in the future.

    No brainer, right?

    Yet only 30% of Americans floss daily.

    So it can’t be cost, time, or lack of potential upside that would convince one to floss daily.

    Which brings me to the point of this article: Habit.

    By the numbers and known science, weight loss is a very simply formula. Not nearly as easy as flossing but just as straightforward.

    But most folks go into their weight loss journey underestimating how unprepared they are to formulate new habits. And — being New Years Eve and all — it’s noteworthy that 80% of New Years resolutions will be given up by mid-February.

    So my hypothesis (and anecdotal experience with a sample size of 2,000+ people I’ve trained) is that accountability, not formulas, leads people to higher rates of weight loss success. Accountability need not come in the form of vigorous exercise or personal trainers, either. I do believe that both provide a tenfold likelihood of success but certainly not necessary.

    I would take it a step further and say that my experience proves that repeated solo attempts + failure to lose weight is a greater risk of burnout. Engaging, vigorous workouts and a coach who really gives a damn about your progress is rarely a source of burnout.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *