The Worst Way to Lose Weight (And What to Do Instead)
Muscle loss . . . food cravings . . . metabolic damage . . . depression . . . all these woes and more are possible when you try to lose weight the wrong way.
Fortunately, losing weight the “right” way isn’t complicated, but it requires you to go against the advice of most fitness magazines and “gurus.”
In this article, you’ll learn the worst ways to lose weight, why they’re so pernicious, and what you should do instead to build a body you can be proud of
- Table of Contents
- The Worst Ways to Lose Weight
- 1. Eat a very low-calorie and low-protein diet.
- 2. Do lots of cardio.
- 3. Don’t lift weights.
- The Best Ways to Lose Weight: Diet
- 1. Use an aggressive (but not reckless) calorie deficit of about 25%.
- 2. Eat a high-protein diet.
- 3. Take supplements proven to accelerate fat loss.
- The Best Ways to Lose Weight: Exercise
- 1. Do a lot of heavy, compound weightlifting.
- 2. Strategically use cardio to burn fat faster.
- 3. Stay active.
The Worst Ways to Lose Weight
Most people’s weight loss plans miscarry for three reasons: they eat a very low-calorie and low-protein diet, do lots of cardio, and don’t lift weights.
In other words, they make two crucial dietary missteps and emphasize the wrong type of training.
We’re going to look at each of these separately, but if you’d like to skip all the background about what not to do with your diet, and just want to know how many calories, how much of each macronutrient, and which foods you should eat to lose weight, no problem!
1. Eat a very low-calorie and low-protein diet.
Most popular weight loss diets have two things in common:
- They provide very few calories.
- They provide very little protein.
And this works well—follow that plan, and you’ll lose weight fast.
What’s more, your hunger will skyrocket after a few weeks, leaving you primed to binge back much of the weight you lost.
This is because there’s a point of diminishing returns when it comes to calorie restriction. Reduce your calorie intake slightly, and you can lose weight consistently without excessive hunger, cravings, or muscle loss.
Try cutting calories too much, though, and all of those problems can spiral out of control.
These problems are only made worse when you also don’t eat enough protein. Several studies show that people who follow a high-protein diet lose less muscle, experience less hunger, and burn more calories when they restrict their food intake.
2. Do lots of cardio.
While doing cardio can help you burn calories and thus fat, doing too much can do more harm than good.
What’s more, research shows that excessive amounts of cardio increases hunger, which makes it easier to accidentally eat too much. Overeat often enough and you’ll not just prevent fat loss, but cause fat gain.
3. Don’t lift weights.
Many people think weightlifting is only good for building muscle, not losing fat.
This is wrongheaded because weightlifting has several unique weight loss benefits. Specifically, it . . .
- Burns a considerable number of calories, which makes it easier to stay in a calorie deficit.
- Helps you build muscle, which is beneficial because muscle is a more energy-hungry tissue than fat, which means you burn more calories moving a muscular body than you do a similar-sized fat one.
- Helps you maintain good metabolic health, which reduces your risk of numerous metabolic diseases that can negatively affect your body composition.
- Increases your RMR (resting metabolic rate), which means you burn more calories at rest.
- Causes subtle shifts in the expression of certain genes that accelerate muscle growth and fat burning.
The Best Ways to Lose Weight: Diet
If you want to lose weight like clockwork while preserving muscle and without struggling with hunger, cravings, or lethargy, here’s what to do with your diet.
1. Use an aggressive (but not reckless) calorie deficit of about 25%.
Research shows that eating 20-to-25% fewer calories than you burn every day will help you lose fat lickety-split without losing muscle or wrestling with excessive hunger, lethargy, and the other hobgoblins of low-calorie dieting.
If you want to know how many calories you should eat per day to lose weight, use the Legion Calorie Calculator here.
2. Eat a high-protein diet.
High-protein dieting beats low-protein in every way, especially when you’re dieting to lose weight.
Specifically, you should eat about 1-to-1.2 grams of protein per pound of body weight per day.
And if you’re very overweight (25%+ body fat in men and 30%+ in women), this can be reduced to around 40% of your total calories per day.
3. Take supplements proven to accelerate fat loss.
The best supplements to help you lose weight quickly are . . .
- 3-to-6 mg of caffeine per kilogram of body weight per day. This will raise the number of calories you burn and also increases strength, muscle endurance, and anaerobic performance. If you want a clean, delicious source of caffeine that also contains five other ingredients that will boost your workout performance, try Pulse.
- 0.1-to-0.2 milligrams of yohimbine per kilogram of body weight before fasted training. This increases fat loss when used in conjunction with fasted training, and is particularly helpful with losing “stubborn” fat. If you want a 100% natural source of yohimbine that also contains two other ingredients that will help you lose fat faster, preserve muscle, and maintain training intensity and mental sharpness, try Forge.
- One serving of Phoenix per day. Phoenix is a 100% natural fat burner that speeds up your metabolism, enhances fat burning, and reduces hunger and cravings. You can also get Phoenix with caffeine or without.
(And if you aren’t sure if the supplements discussed here are right for you or if other supplements might be a better fit for your budget, circumstances, and goals, then take the Legion Supplement Finder Quiz! In less than a minute, it’ll tell you exactly what supplements are right for you. Click here to check it out.)
The Best Ways to Lose Weight: Exercise
Exercising isn’t essential for weight loss, but it’s the single best way to preserve and build muscle while quickly losing fat. Here’s how to exercise properly for rapid fat loss.
1. Do a lot of heavy, compound weightlifting.
If you want to maximize the fat-burning effects of weightlifting . . .
- Train three-to-five times per week.
- Focus on doing compound exercises such as the squat, deadlift, and bench and overhead press.
- Lift weights that are 75-to-85% of your one-rep max (weights that you can do 6-to-12 reps with before failing).
- Strive to add weight or reps to every exercise in every workout (also known as progressive overload).
(And if you want an exercise program that’s proven to help you gain muscle, lose fat, and get healthy fast, then check out my best-selling fitness books Bigger Leaner Stronger for men, and Thinner Leaner Stronger for women.)
2. Strategically use cardio to burn fat faster.
The best way to include cardio in a weight loss regimen is to do as little as needed to reach your desired rate of weight loss and stay fit, and no more.
For best results do . . .
- At least two low- to moderate-intensity cardio workouts per week of 20-to-40 minutes each.
- One HIIT workout per week if you enjoy it.
- No more than 2-to-3 hours of cardio per week.
- Cardio and weightlifting on separate days. If that isn’t possible, lift weights first and try to separate the two workouts by at least 6 hours.
Although you’ll often hear fitness gurus tout HIIT as the most effective kind of cardio for fat loss, this isn’t true. Moderate-intensity, steady-state cardio is just as good at fat-burning, easier to recover from, and doesn’t sap your motivation or energy as much as HIIT, which is why I recommend you do it for the majority of your cardio workouts.
3. Stay active.
You don’t need to do formal exercise to speed up fat loss. You can significantly increase calorie burning by staying physically active whenever possible throughout the day.
Every little helps, including taking the stairs instead of the escalator, doing household chores, and parking further away from work than normal, so try and find as many ways as you can to “sneak” in activity throughout each day.
These little spurts of activity might seem trifling, but research shows they can add up to hundreds of calories per day.
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