The "rules" say that when your goal is to lose fat, you should take it nice and slow. I disagree. I prefer faster fat loss approaches.
Conventional wisdom says you should lose body fat slowly to build sustainable long-term habits, prevent metabolic adaptation, and fight muscle loss. But I think aggressive, 30-45 day fat loss phases are better than the long, slow, and steady approach. Here's why:
1 – You lose momentum.
Staying in a caloric deficit is an additional stressor to an already stressed-out society. This leads most people to fall off the wagon and get stuck in the endless cycle of yo-yo diets and quick fixes followed by binges, guilt, and quitting.
You can't discount momentum and the human element when it comes to fat loss. Go hard for a limited period of time, then get back to a sustainable maintenance or lean bulk phase.
2 – Every day that you're dieting, you're not building muscle.
It takes much longer to build appreciable amounts of muscle mass than it does to lose fat. And if you're constantly dieting down because you "can't find a diet that sticks," you'll get stuck in the purgatory of yo-yo dieting.
Focus on fat loss and go all in. Yes, it'll be brutal and you'll get hungry. Suck it up, then get back to the muscle-building process. Not only will it be easier to build muscle without fat, but in the long-term more lean muscle will provide a "dietary" buffer due to an increase in resting metabolic rate and an increased ability to store food as muscle glycogen.
How Can I Set Up An Aggressive Fat Loss Diet?
First, continue to train as heavy as you would when building strength. The primary driver of fat loss is diet, but you can add an extra conditioning workout or two, or start walking each morning for a small boost in fat loss.
For your diet, research has shown a caloric deficit as big as 20-25% to be enough to maximize fat loss without serious detriments to performance and lean muscle. Keep your protein at or above 1 gram per pound of bodyweight to maintain lean muscle mass, and dietary fat above 20% of total calories to keep hormone levels from jumping around too much.
Here's an example of what this could look like for a 200 pound man:
- Maintenance calories: Bodyweight (pounds) x 14 = 2800 calories
- Aggressive deficit: 2800 x .75 = 2100 calories
- Protein: 200 grams (800 calories)
- Carbohydrate: 200 grams (800 calories)
- To find grams of fat: 2100 - 800 - 800 = 500 calories. So, 55 grams of fat
So, a 200-pound man would eat approximately 200 grams of protein, 200 grams of carbs, and 55 grams of fat each day.
Focus on hitting your calories first, protein second, then eat carbs and fats based on your preferred eating style. With this approach, you have an aggressive plan to lose fat, a short-term plan to maintain momentum, and the end in sight to help you stay consistent.