by Robert Maxwell
The majority of guys I advise on strength and fitness start off overweight. Sometimes seriously so. Although I’ve coached a few skinny guys, for most, losing serious amounts of body fat is the first step to improving their bodies, strength, and confidence. With all the diet books, personal trainers, and fitness centres in the world, you’d think finding methods of stripping off excess pounds would be easier than ever. Maybe it’s just that food is so delicious, but this simply isn’t the case. Ultimately, I think the reason boils down to a lack of motivation. When I first got interested in strength, fitness, and understanding nutrition, it didn’t take me long to start finding the knowledge I was after. My desire to learn, and to put into action my new found knowledge on my own body drove me to continue researching, even when I was tempted to give up. The internet makes this sort of self education not only possible, but quite easy. That’s why I don’t think lack of information is a valid excuse for lack of fitness anymore. That said, sometimes the same knowledge presented in a different way can galvanize some people into finally taking the first step to better health. That’s what I hope to do with this article. In it, I’ll explain the best way I’ve found to lose excess body fat, and if it’s your thing, achieve the lean, chiselled physique many guys are after.
Step one – drastically reduce carbs
Yes, I know - this sucks. In addition to being the body’s main energy source, carbs are delicious. Trouble is, nothing packs on body fat quite like excess calories from loads of carbs. If you can’t see your way clear to saying no to Krispy Kremes, bagels, and stuffed crust pizza, you’re probably not going to lose a significant amount of fat. If, on the other hand, you’re ready to make a serious change and reap serious benefits, this article’s for you. Replace the rich, doughy carbs in your life with complex carbs found in vegetables. Eat lots of zucchini, broccoli, bell peppers, tomatoes, and any other low-calorie, healthy veggies you enjoy, or at least can stomach. Truth is, not much is going to happen in your weight-loss journey if you don’t develop the ability to say no to food you love and yes to foods you don’t.
Drink plenty of water
Advice this simple might seem like a cop-out, but I assure you it’s not. For health and fitness in general, and especially on the weight-loss journey, drinking lots of water is crucial. If you’re not hydrated, nothing in your body’s going to work very well. Sucking back lots of water has the added benefit of making you feel more full, too. Chances are if you drink as much as a gallon or more a day, you’re not going to be craving unhealthy, sugary snacks nearly as often. If you don’t have a personal water bottle that you carry around with you everywhere, get one. Find out precisely how much water it holds, and set a daily water drinking goal for yourself. If you’re a big guy, that goal should probably be at least three or four litres per day. This might sound extreme if you’re not used to drinking enough, but your goal is to stay properly hydrated for the physical activity I’ll be mentioning in the next paragraph. Chances are you’ll be peeing a lot more than you did before, but this is a small price to pay for being properly hydrated, having healthier joints, and feeling fewer unwanted food cravings.
Work out at least three times a week
Yeah, I know - you’ve heard me preach this sermon before. Thing is, if you’re not working out yet, you need to hear it again. A regular training routine is vital for everyone, but especially guys losing weight. Why? The fact that you’ll be in a caloric deficit when you’re losing fat. A deficit means you’re burning more energy than you’re taking in through food. Doing so allows you to burn the excess energy stored in the form of unattractive and unhealthy excess fat. Trouble is, if you’re not using your muscles regularly, your body will start burning those away, too. Not good. This is the reason marathon runners are so skinny. If running marathons is your thing, great. But chances are if you’re on this website, you’re at least a little interested in gaining some strength and muscle, rather than burning it. That’s why resistance training is so vital. Even if you’re in a calorie deficit, as long as you’re eating sufficient protein and training regularly, your body will get the message to keep the muscle and strength it’s got, and maybe even build some more.
Adjust as needed
Weight loss isn’t rocket science. If you’ve done everything mentioned above and are losing weight at a satisfactory rate, great. My work is done here. If not, you’re eating too much. Eat less, exercise more, or both. There’s no mystery. Time and time again I get the same questions from new trainees. “I’m 5-foot-8, 210 pounds, and want to get down to 175. What’s the best diet and exercise plan?” If you ask a question like this, you’re missing the point. There is no “best” plan. You just need a caloric deficit, adequate nutrition, and a training routine. Anything else doesn’t really matter. Stop nitpicking, and start working towards your goals.