Five Simple Fat Loss Tips for Consistent Progress


Jan 18, 2023
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I was going to title this “Five Simple Fat Loss Hacks For Consistent Progress,” but I don’t believe in hacks, at least not in the context of fitness. Unfortunately, there are no shortcuts in physiology, and we can’t outsmart the human body, despite what many fitness gurus want you to believe. However, there are a few easy tips we can employ to help the fat loss process along. My goal in writing this is to provide you with a few highly practical items to start implementing today.

You will notice I left a few basics off the list simply because if you are in a fat loss phase, I expect you to have them ironed out. Of course, things like being in a caloric deficit and resistance training are top priorities. These five tips are the icing on the cake. Let’s dig in.

1: Weigh yourself at least three times per week.

I think it’s important to recognize the scale is nothing more than a tool we use to collect data. I realize it’s hard to remove the emotional connection we have to the number, but it’s just that, a number.

The scale is not the end all be all, but if used right, it does provide us with valuable data during a fat loss phase. The hard truth is, under most circumstances, fat loss requires weight loss. Yes, it’s possible to build muscle and lose fat at the same time (in some cases) but, that is the exception, not the rule.

Weigh yourself first thing in the morning, after you have gone to the bathroom but before eating or drinking anything.

Weighing yourself multiple times per week serves two purposes.

1- Accountability

2- Consistency.

If you only jump on the scale once per week, it doesn’t tell the full story. Daily weight fluctuations are normal. The day you step on the scale may be your heaviest or lightest day of the week, neither of which will provide the data we want.

The most accurate way to track your body weight is by having multiple data points throughout a week to create a weekly average. This average is what we will use to determine progress.

Fat Loss Checklist

Step 1 – Set a goal [be specific with weight and time domain].

Step 2 – Figure out the weekly weight loss average needed to reach the goal. Typically, between .5-1% of body weight per week.

Step 3 – Track bodyweight every morning (or 3x/week).

Step 4 – Analyze the weekly average every two weeks.

*In step 4, take a look at your weekly rate of progress and adjust if needed. I recommend analyzing the data (weigh-in averages) every two weeks. Remember, progress is not always linear week to week. Sometimes it takes two weeks for adjustments in nutrition to take shape.

2: Track Daily Steps

Tracking daily steps is something I have talked about a lot over the past year. During a fat loss phase, our goal is to create a caloric deficit. We do this primarily through nutrition. However, to keep calories as high as we can, adding in cardio to assist can help.

The famous equation still applies: CALORIES IN vs. CALORIES OUT

So, why track steps? Well, the biggest reason is that most of us live sedentary lives. We sit on our butt all day long except for the hour or so we are in the gym. The lack of physical labor is a nice first world problem to have but, we need a way to work around our general lack of activity.

The issue with adding cardio is that it fails to account for the rest of your day. You can add a significant amount of cardio but, if you end up being less active during the day, the extra cardio is useless. Research has shown the longer you diet, the less active you get subconsciously. So, even if this phenomenon does not affect you in the beginning, it will at some point.

Here is the action step: start tracking how many steps you take per day.

The iPhone makes it as easy as possible with the Health app. Whenever your phone is on you, the app is tracking your activity. Of course, it’s not perfect, but it can be good enough for what we need it to do. You can also use a different app or even a watch that tracks steps as well if you want something more accurate.

If you are in a fat loss phase, 8,000 steps per day should be the minimum. For some of you with an active lifestyle, 8,000 steps per day will be a joke. However, for my fellow sedentary folk, 8-10k is a real challenge.

3: Build your diet around protein and veggies.

The third tip we are going to talk about is arguably the most important – build your diet around protein and veggies.

All calorically restricted fat loss diets perform about the same as long as protein is equal. What that means is, as long as you are eating fewer calories than your body needs to maintain your weight (along with adequate protein), it doesn’t matter if you do low carb, low fat, intermittent fasting, or any other “named” diet, it will perform about the same.

The key, of course, becomes your ability to adhere to the diet. (More on that in a minute)

So, why protein?

Protein has a ton of structural benefits. It helps to build and maintain muscle, recover from workouts, etc. However, for fat loss, we want to look at two qualities in particular – satiety and the thermic effect of eating.

Out of all of the macronutrients, protein creates the most satiety, and satiety is huge while on a calorie-restricted diet because hunger is going to be our biggest roadblock. More protein equals an enhanced feeling of fullness.

Secondly, protein has a higher thermic effect than carbs or fats. When you eat, the process of digestion requires calories, and protein requires the most. It’s not a huge difference, but over time it can add up.

So, why veggies?

When it comes to veggies, specifically green veggies, it’s all about fullness and food volume. For the number of calories you get compared to the amount of food volume, green veggies become your best friend on a diet.

I recommend one big green salad per day while dieting. As a bonus, green veggies (aside from iceberg lettuce) are loaded with fiber and micronutrients to help round out a balanced diet.

Carbs and Fats

Once you have the base of your diet filled up with protein and veggies, you can make up the rest of your diet with carbs and fats. At this point, it comes down to personal preference. What is going to make it easier to stick to the diet? What is going to require less willpower to maintain?

For those interested in performance, I tend to favor a lower fat/higher carb approach but again, it comes down to personal preference.

Remember, adherence and consistency are what is most important.

During a fat loss phase, aim to have a significant protein source and green veggie with each meal.

Veggies: Spinach, Romaine Lettuce, Broccoli, Green Peppers, Cucumbers, Asparagus, Green Beans, Brussels Sprouts, Cauliflower, etc.

Protein: Any fish or seafood, chicken breast, turkey breast, eggs, egg whites, lean red meat, protein powder, low-fat dairy, etc.

4: Consistency

Consistency is probably my favorite tip on the list, and it’s the one I talk about most. Success comes down to developing productive habits that we can repeat over and over. I try to do this with every aspect of my life, not just fitness. I live by the Dan Gable quote, “if it’s important, do it every day. If it’s not important, don’t do it at all”.

When it comes to fat loss, there are a few things we need to be consistent with to get the best results. Those are as follows:

Meal Times

Remember, back in the day, when everyone thought eating six times per day sped up your metabolism and caused you to lose more fat? I do.

If you think about it, the thought process is logical. The body loves routine, and one of the things that happen when you eat more frequently is your body starts to get hungry more often. If you start eating every two hours, eventually you will get hungry every two hours. The problem is, getting hungry does not mean your metabolism sped up.

Hunger adaptation is the same reason why intermittent fasting works well for some people. At first, skipping breakfast is hard, but after a week or two, you stop getting hungry in the morning.

So, what is the point? Find a meal frequency pattern that works best for you and stick to it.

Food Selection

Ok, this is where I might lose you. For years I was known as one of the flexible dieting guys. Trust me, I still believe in flexible dieting and tracking macros. However, I find that most people do better on a fat loss diet when they limit their food choices. Essentially, this means to create a sample meal plan that fits your daily macros, and stick to that as best you can. Be very, very consistent with it.

If you are consistent with a sample meal plan 80-90% of the time, you can use the remaining 10-20% to fit in more fun foods, more variety, or even go out to eat.

Workout Time

This tip is more just to make sure you get the work done. I think a big reason why fasted cardio can work for some people is that they remember to do it. Fasted cardio is not more effective than fed cardio, but if you do cardio first thing in the morning, you have less of a chance of skipping it.

Look, you can lift and do cardio at any time during the day but, find what time works best for your schedule and be as consistent as possible with it. Make the time you workout habitual.

Sleep [bed time / wake up time]

Last but not least, sleep. Sleep is always critical, but during a fat loss phase, it becomes more important.

To get the best sleep possible, be consistent with what time you go to bed and wake up. Some apps make this easy for you. I have my iPhone set up for not only an alarm each morning but one reminding me to get to bed as well. Both of those are set for the same time each day.

I have found that real discipline comes from what time you go to bed each night, not what time you wake up. Aim for 7-9 hours per night. I am not someone who takes naps, but if you are, an afternoon nap is probably not a bad idea either!

5: Drink Diet Soda

Last but not least, the final fat loss tip is to drink diet soda or other calorie-free flavored drinks. This is the one tip that may surprise you because of all of the misinformation surrounding artificial sweeteners.

The truth is, there is not any research that supports the notion that artificial sweeteners are unhealthy or prevent weight loss when consumed in a reasonable amount. Research has shown that the replacement of sugar-sweetened drinks with artificially sweetened drinks results in reduced calorie intake and improved fat loss.

Read that last sentence again.

Fat loss is not rocket science. Diet soda or other calorie-free flavored drinks allow us to satisfy our sweet tooth without the consumption of extra calories.

Sometimes people like to bring up the fact that diet soda can “trick” the body into thinking it’s consuming sugar, therefore causing an insulin response, but this has also been shown not to be the case.

I still recommend getting most of your fluid intake from just plain old water. However, when you are dieting, load up on some calorie-free beverages up to once or twice a day to help you satisfy your cravings while still sticking to the diet!

I like to organize my favorite drinks into the ones that contain caffeine and the ones that don’t. The caffeine drinks help a little more when dieting due to caffeine’s ability to act as an appetite suppressant. However, for late-night cravings, go with the caffeine-free variety.

Contains caffeine: Coffee, PR Breaker Materia (5-10 calories), Monster Energy Drinks (~10 calories), Coke Zero, Diet Dr. Pepper, and Diet Moutain Dew.

Caffeine-free: PR Breaker Materia Zero (10-15 calories), Diet Sprite, Diet Ginger Ale, Gatorade Zero, and Vitamin Water Zero.