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The Ultimate Guide to Weight Loss and Getting Lean in 4 Questions

I have spent a lot of time reading about weight loss, and even more time trying to lose/gain weight in order to achieve my fitness goals.

I think there's a huge amount of misinformation out there because there is a lot of general confusion about which questions are actually worth answering.

I believe I've managed to come up with a foolproof strategy that works and requires the minimum amount of effort.
Keep in mind that it still requires a lot of effort! There is no free lunch!

I'll structure this list using a series of questions that I'll give my answers to.
The Ultimate Guide to Weight Loss and Getting Lean in 4 Questions

    1. Is your goal to lose weight or to be healthier?

    This is by far the biggest source of confusion that prevents people from making progress and gets them to focus on unnecessary details.
    Being healthy and getting in shape are somewhat related but require different things.

    Is your goal to be healthy?
    If so that's great, but I don't know how to help you, and this post does not address this question! From my experience, if you want to be healthy you should follow common-sense advice. Don't eat too much, don't eat a lot of sugar, eating an apple is better than eating a bag of chips. Anything more than that seems quite controversial. Is wine good or bad for you? is coffee good or bad for you? Is being vegan better than being a carnivore? It all seems very unclear to me and very few of these claims usually have strong scientific evidence for or against them.
    I understand that being healthy is very important and it's somewhat correlated to being able to lose weight. However, if you want to just lose weight/get lean, the steps to take are very clear and uncontroversial.

    Is your goal to lose weight?
    If this is your goal, then I can help you. I'll describe the few steps that you need to follow to achieve your weight loss goal. I'll only discuss the most fundamental steps that actually matter and not all the fluff that people get distracted by.


    "Calories in and calories out" is the only thing that matters when it comes to gaining or losing weight.
    If you consume more calories than you burn, then you'll gain weight.
    If you burn more calories than you consume, then you'll lose weight.
    It's as simple as that!

    Now we just need to figure out how to achieve this calorie deficit.

    2. How many calories should I consume and burn?

    From the previous point, we established that you need to have a 200-500 calorie deficit. So now we need to decide how to achieve this.

    A good starting point is calculating your Total Daily Energy Expenditure using this website:

    After entering your weight, height, etc, it will give you a reasonable estimate of how many calories you burn every day.

    Let's assume it said you consume 2000 Cal/day. Then, to lose weight, you'll need to lower that number to 1500-1800.

    How can you do that?
    Go to the next question!

    3. Do you like doing cardio and exercising?

    The calorie deficit needs to come from either consuming fewer calories and eating less or by burning more calories and exercising more.
    Which one is easier for you?
    If you love exercising, then some sort of physical activity is perfect for you.
    If you hate it, then just eat fewer calories.

    Just keep this in mind though: two Oreos have around 100 Cal, and to burn 100 Cal you need to walk around 30 mins.
    A burger and fries are likely around 2000 calories, so burning them off will take a long time.

    These are not exact numbers, but the general idea is that much easier to eat less than to outrun a bad diet.

    4. Do you care about maintaining/growing your muscle mass?

    If you don't then all you need to do is to achieve the aforementioned calorie deficit in any way that works for you.
    If you want to exclusively eat pizza and french fries, that's fine, as long as you keep within your calories.

    But, if your goal is to LOSE FAT, and not just lose weight, then you need to pay attention to what you actually eat, and how you exercise.

    The rule of thumb to maintain as much muscle mass as possible, while losing fat, is to do these 2 things:
    - eat 1g of protein per lb of lean body weight
    - do some weight training, ideally incorporating progressive overload

    Progressive overload just means to train harder than last time.


    - Calculate how many calories you burn each day on and subtract 250-500 calories
    - Decide how to remove those extra calories from your lifestyle, either through eating less or burning more calories through exercise.
    - If you want to maintain your muscle mass, eat 1g of protein per lb of lean body weight, and do some weight training.

    If you follow these 3 simple steps and keep it up consistently, you're guaranteed to lose weight.


    6. Extra Tips

    These are general habits that have helped me through getting lean:

    - Drink a lot of water (makes you full)
    - Drink a lot of coffee (appetite suppressant)
    - Eat the same food every day (makes it harder to cheat)
    - Weigh your food with a scale (that one tbsp of peanut butter that you put on your toast is actually way larger than one serving)
    - Weigh ALL of your food (one tbsp of oil that you lettuce your salad with is 120 calories, and the lettuce is 30)
    - Sleep 8 hours every day (just good overall)
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