All men want to boost their fat loss — we all want to get lean, get ripped, and sculpt an awesome body. We won’t be able to show off a defined chest, a six-pack, or sculpted arms until we burn the layer of fat covering everything.
But how important is diet? And what are the biggest mistakes people make? What should we focus on? Whether you want to peak for an event, hit your physique goals, or just feel confident about yourself, it’s vital to have the right strategies for fat loss.
In this roundtable, I asked five of the best fitness experts for their tips and thoughts on fat loss and getting a lean, sexy body. No more spinning your wheels. Get advice from the guys who’ve coached thousands of clients, turned them into fat-burning furnaces, and got them the results they dreamed of.
As always, if you have any questions/comments, leave them below and we’ll help!
The biggest mistake you see people doing for fat loss is _______
Focusing only on exercise and not taking nutrition into account at all. Guys especially think they will magically get lean and ripped if they do a certain type of workout, when the workout itself is really not nearly as important as creating a calorie deficit through eating properly.
Not eating enough. People equate a big caloric deficit with fat loss – that will get weight loss going, but you’re going to lose muscle too. They think if they cut a bunch of stuff from their diet, it’ll be good enough to make it happen, but that’s just weight loss and that’s something totally different.
Trying to out-train a poor diet.
Listen man, I’ve been in the fitness industry for 15 years now. I have personally trained hundreds of people, and have advised thousands more. I’ve worked with pro athletes, natural bodybuilders, bikini girls, fitness models, busy professionals, entrepreneurs, strippers, and crazy people alike.
There has been only one universal theme. The clients who used diet as their primary weapon in the war against body were the ones who obtained the best results. They won — swiftly and quickly. The clients who tried to use exercise to offset a poor diet obtained mediocre results at best. They tried to out-train a poor diet. They are still fighting a battle they will never win.
The biggest mistake people make is thinking that more exercise is always better. They want to see results fast so they do more and more which eventually leads to burnout.
Avoiding the reality that you have to cut calories. I believe in bringing down your carbs and I think fasting has benefits, but you still need to keep some kind of track of what you’re eating and make sure it’s less than last week.
More important for fat loss: dieting or exercise? Why?
Dieting is the bigger part of the equation if only because people only have time to train for an hour or so any given day. When I was a trainer, my clients used to say they felt so good and happy after a workout. “Right,” I’d tell them, “but that was one hour – you now have 23 to fuck that all up.” There’s just so much more time and planning that goes into diet, which is why it’s a bigger part of the equation.
Easy man. Diet. Talk to anyone who has ever been ripped, and I guaran-damn-tee you they will tell you diet was by far the most important factor to slashing fat and looking awesome.
Think about the opposite – professional NFL offensive linemen that are superior athletes, perform vigorous training sessions multiple times a day, and could certainly throw me a severe beating. But the majority have a bunch of extra junk with their in the trenches funk. Why? Poor diet baby.
Or contemplate this. Lets say you are not a crazy, obsessive fitness person and have a reasonable exercise plan of 4 days a week. Lets also say you eat the traditional 3 meals a day. That comes out to 4 vs. 21 times to make a difference, or 16% vs. 84%. What do you think has a bigger impact on reaching your goals?
Sorry, my nerdy Asian side loves statistics.
Dieting. If more calories are consumed than expended, there is no chance of losing fat and it’s easier to create a calorie deficit by eating less than exercising more. Of course, the goal is to lose fat without losing muscle, so diet + exercise is when the magic happens.
I would say diet by far. Exercise is important, but when you consider that one Snickers bar can wipe out the majority of calories you burned in your workout, diet comes out ahead. I also think people have a harder time with diet than exercise in terms of consistency making it that much more important to focus on.
Diet. You can easily eat more calories than you could ever burn with exercise so you have to control your intake.
The best exercise to burn fat is ________
Learning to cook well. In all honesty, I think that is important, but if I went with a more traditional exercise, I would say either deadlifts or sled work.
I like exercises that require work from many muscles at once, such as a squat or deadlift.
That’s a really tough one, but as a method I would say strength circuits, as a specific exercise I would say sprinting up hills. The afterburn effect will likely be very significant running up hills and the body will burn a ton of calories.
Sprinting, on a real track, outdoors, not on a treadmill. If you look at Olympic sprinters – yes – they’re doing some strength and conditioning work, but the reason they look the way they do is because of all that sprint work.
A good diet, hahaha. See a Miyaki-style theme developing here. As Van Wilder once said, “You might want to write that down.”
But yeah, other than that, I’d say due to the hormonal benefits and just the overall efficiency of your training program, focus on the big, free weight compound lifts – deadlifts, lunges, pull-ups, rows, and presses. These are a few of my favorite things.
What is your opinion on crash diets for fat loss?
I love them as much as the infomercials. Nah, just kidding. People need to look beyond just 8 weeks, or 4 weeks, or 7 days, or whatever. What are you going to do after your crash diet to fool people with your Facebook profile photo? Just get fat again? That’s what generally happens. And it’s not just because of laziness. It’s physiology. Crash diets are disastrous on the body.
I don’t want to put people to sleep with science, but here are some of the things that can happen when you crash diet – muscle loss, lowered metabolic rate, impaired thyroid production (specifically T4-T3 conversion), lowered testosterone, lowered leptin levels, etc. Basically, you are metabolically and hormonally setting up your body for a huge weight rebound, even with just normal calorie levels. That’s why people yo-yo on and off crash diets.
I think they are damaging to the metabolism, a bad idea. Eat well all the time and you will never have the need, or desire to go on a crash diet. The entire concept is unhealthy and I would recommend that a person who is considering a crash diet reevaluate their current approach to their health and well-being.
They might work, but absolutely expect the pendulum to swing back other way. You need a slow build to be sustainable – and that’s not just for training or dieting. If you lose weight too quick, it’ll swing backwards.
They don’t work long-term and set the person up for failure.
It’s a bad idea. You can lose a lot of weight fast by eating next to nothing but you can’t keep it off.
More challenging: Packing on 10 pounds of muscle or shedding 20 pounds of fat? Why?
I’d say packing on muscle. Eating enough clean food to gain that much muscle vs. flab is a herculean task for most. On top of that you have to train hard and heavy and get plenty of sleep. Losing fat is so diet-dependent that you could skip workouts and blow off cardio and still make good progress.
Depends on the person and their genetics, age, sex, and fitness level, but generally I would say 20lb of fat is easier to lose. Losing 1.0% of body weight in fat per week (typically 1-2lb per week) is very achievable, whereas 0.5-1.0lb of muscle gain per week can be very tough.
It’s harder to gain 10 pounds of lean muscle because there’s so much more planning involved to gain muscle without much fat. It’s really a high-wire act, if you look at what bodybuilders have to do to affect that outcome. If you’re just trying to burn fat, you’re just pushing yourself in one direction – it might not be easy, but it’s easier than trying to gain 10 pounds of muscle.
It is one of those annoying, 5-round championship fights that end in a split-decision draw. Why? Well, we always want what we don’t have. So the hard-gainer wants to put on muscle and the person with the slow metabolism wants to cut fat. Both people are working against their natural physiology. And that requires hard work, consistency, and discipline. But with that championship formula, anything can be accomplished.
Depends on their body type, but I would say packing on 10 pounds of muscle. For most folks, shedding 20 pounds involves restriction and reallocation of calories and macros. Packing on 10 pounds of muscle requires intense eating and extremely consistent training. In my opinion, it’s easier to shift macros than up calories by 1,000. At some point, you get sick of eating.