How Fast Can I Lose Weight and Get the Body I Want?

Be honest, you’ve said the following sentence before:

“I want to lose 20-50 pounds, and I’d like to pack on some muscle too…but not too much! Can I do this in 2-3 months? How long will this take?”

I know you have, because I certainly did when I started training.

Men want to know “the secret” to a thinner waistline, but also get bigger arms and chest.

Meanwhile, women ask how they can lose weight while getting more toned, without getting too bulky. And apparently, according to that magazine cover above, how to get a firm butt in 22 minutes.

That is an incredibly specific amount of time. Anyways!

If you’ve had those same thoughts, then today’s article is for you.

Today we’re going to dive into these goals, and how to best go about them.

Spoiler alert: if you want to get in shape and lose weight the RIGHT way, and actually keep the weight off, there’s no “secret formula” or shortcut.

There IS, however, a strategy you can implement that can help you get the results you’re after in a healthy way.

We created a 10-Level Nerd Fitness Diet that takes reality and your behavior into account, because we know how tough it is to stick to a diet long term. Grab our strategy guide when you sign up in the box below, pick the level you’re comfortable with, and then follow the instructions and start leveling up!

What We’re After

toned abs

I know why we have those goals of “smaller waistline and bigger/toned muscles.” 

We’ve been listening to and following the image put forth by the infomercials, magazines, and advertisements that in just 30-90 days with a few workouts (or one key piece of equipment) – we can accomplish everything we want:

  • Shredded, six pack abs!
  • Lose stubborn “belly fat!”
  • Bigger chest and arms!
  • People will find you irresistible

For women, the message is only tad different:

  • Lose stubborn “belly fat!”
  • Tone your hips, butt, thighs, arms!
  • Get that bikini body!

Regardless of which camp you fall into, you see these commercials full of professional fitness models and genetically flawless dudes, and then we look at ourselves in the mirror…and we decide enough is enough: we want to look like them!

And here’s a program that tells us we can get there in just 20 minutes a day, 3 days a week, for 90 days.

And thus we get started…

90 days later, if we actually stuck with our brutally restrictive diet, we’re MAYBE closer to our goal, but we didn’t build a lot of muscle and we only lost a bit of weight.

So we freak out: “those other people got results, but I only lost a few pounds and I am miserable. What did I do wrong?”

Forgetting the fact that the actors/models in those ads definitely did not use the program they’re advertising to get fit, these programs aren’t even designed with you in mind.

Don’t worry, we CAN turn you into a superhero. I

t’s just going to mean going about things a bit differently…

HOw can I lose Weight Quickly? How fast Can I lose Weight?

I’ll just get right to the point. As I lay out in my “Which Diet is right for Me” article:

If you want to lose weight quickly:

#1 – Eat fewer calories than you burn every day.

#2 – Want to also be healthy? Eat mostly real food.

Full stop.

Want to KEEP the weight off?

Add #3: Do those two things consistently for a decade.

How MUCH weight will you lose? That really depends on your current weight, how much “calorie restriction” you do (through eating less and moving more), and how consistent you are with it.

If you are diligent with your food, and maintain a 500 word calorie deficit each day (meaning you burn 500 more calories each day than you consume), you’ll lose roughly 1 pound (1/2 a kilogram) per week.

Cut back even more on calories or exercise more, you can push that number higher – with more of a deficit, your body is forced to burn more and more fat stores to provide the fuel for your body to function.

This can result in 1-3 pounds of weight loss per week. Depending on your size and your changes, this could be a healthy amount of weight loss (or not).

If you’re used to eating 5,000 calories per day and weigh more than 300 pounds, then switching to a diet of 1500-2000 calories per day could result in dramatic weight loss in your first few weeks on a diet.

I bet it’ll also result in you being hangry (hungry + angry) all the time, miserable to be around, and your body will hate you.

However, if you normally eat 2500 calories per day and cut down to 500 calories per day (we in the biz call this “Starving yourself”), you’re going to be losing weight in an unhealthy fashion and your body is also going to hate you.

We do NOT recommend extreme calorie restriction.

Personally, I believe that rapid weight loss at all costs is a horrible strategy, and I bet you’ve tried it before (read: every other diet you’ve ever been on that didn’t stick).

It’s going to be on you to determine how much weight you are trying to lose balanced with how miserable you want to make yourself, and if you can actually stick with it!

Instead, I would advise the following:

  • Track your calorie intake currently. See how you eat every day, and how many calories you’re eating on a regular basis.
  • Go for walks, and start to cut your calorie intake back by 300-500 calories per day for 2 weeks and see how your body responds: are you hungry, miserable, unhappy? Or is it sustainable, are you feeling good, and are you starting to see results?
  • No results? you’re still eating too much. Weigh your food and make sure you’re actually tracking your food accurately! Repeat and track your progress.

As we lay out in our Beginner’s Guide to Healthy Eating, to get the most caloric bang for your buck, you want to focus on eating enough protein and minimizing empty calories that don’t fill you up.

That means lots of protein and veggies. Yup, even if you hate veggies, you can learn to like them.

This also means you only have so many calories you can eat per day. So make them count! Load up on food that fills you up and avoid the food that is calorie dense but won’t satiate you:

  • Liquid calories like soda, sports drinks like Gatorade or Powerade, and juices (they’re just sugar water). Some people can lose 20+ pounds in a year by cutting out liquid calories.
  • Processed carbs and processed grains like bread, bagels, pasta, pizza, etc.
  • High calorie sauces and condiments, deep fried or breaded foods, etc.

The more strict you can be on how you eat, the more likely you’ll be to lose weight quickly – if you can stick with it. Outside of counting calories and tracking your changes, you can also get a bit more extreme and follow popular eating options:

You most likely WILL get results quickly with the options above, but unless you can stick with the changes permanently, you won’t get permanent weight loss results.

Can I lose fat and gain muscle at the Same Time?

ChangeAllTheThings

If you are trying to lose ‘belly fat’ and also get bigger and stronger, it’s incredibly difficult to do both at the same time. It’s just how our bodies work:

  • Gaining weight (be it fat or muscle) requires eating more calories than you burn every day.
  • Losing weight requires burning more calories than you eat.

Which then might lead to your next question:

“Well, Steve, I want to gain muscle and lose weight, but I have no muscles and I have a gut. What do I do first?

WHY CAN’T I JUST DO BOTH AT THE SAME TIME!?”

If you have these two goals, it can feel as if you are watching a battle of tug-of-war. If you try to do both at the same time, neither side can get an advantage and you’ll struggle to see any discernible results in either direction.

OUR RECOMMENDATION: For most people, the first thing we recommend is to drop your body fat percentage: put the focus on fat loss (notice I didn’t say weight loss) and maintain the muscle you already have.

Once you get your body fat percentage down to a specific level, you can then turn your focus to packing on muscle.

Here’s why we recommend this:

  • Carrying extra body fat isn’t healthy: if you’re already overweight, packing on MORE muscle and fat is going to push you farther away from a healthy body fat percentage (which is our ultimate goal).
  • You won’t need to buy bigger clothes, only to then have to get rid of them. If you bulk up and need to buy bigger clothes, only to then slim down and need to buy smaller clothes, you’re gonna spend a lot of money. Drop the fat first, and then build the muscle slowly on top of it!
  • Build momentum early. Losing weight, for most people, is an easier and faster process than building muscle. When you get rid of the body fat covering up the muscle you already have, you’re going to build up emotional and mental momentum.
  • Create a great starting point: Physiologically, when you get rid of excess body fat and are down to a level that you’re happy with, you can adjust your training and nutrition so that your whole body, all the way down to the cellular level, is now dedicated to a single cause: BUILD MUSCLE!

So, what should your game plan be? Here are a few strategies to drop weight while retaining as much muscle as possible:

  • Focus primarily on eating fewer calories, specifically calories that fill you up. Whether you do Keto, Paleo, Mediterranean, or Intermittent fasting, it’s 100% up to you.
  • Always eat enough protein (lots of chicken, fish, and a protein shake here and there).
  • Eat slightly more calories on days you work out (right after your workouts) and fewer calories on days you are resting.
  • Get enough sleep!
  • Consider working out in a fasted state – as explained in our article on Intermittent Fasting.

I know all of the above is much easier said than done. We know we need to eat healthier, we just can’t get ourselves to do it! Which is why we created our free 10-Level Nerd Fitness Diet strategy guide, that takes all of that into account. Grab yours now when you sign up in the box below and Join the Rebellion:

Next, after fixing your diet, pick one (or all) of the three types of exercise below:

When you strength train, your muscles are broken down and need to recover. The calories you are consuming during this period are used to rebuild those muscles and recover, keeping them strong. When you walk (especially first thing in the morning, in a fasted state), you don’t tax your body enough to need to pull from your muscles’ fuel stores.

Instead, you pull from the fat you already have.

Everybody wins!

ONCE YOU’VE DROPPED YOUR BODY FAT LOW ENOUGH (somewhere between 10-15% for guys, 18-22% for women), you can adjust your diet to consume more calories/carbs on training days and start building muscle – making adjustments along the way.

How much weight can I actually lose OVer all?

Athena Final Before and After

For most people, the first step should be to cut down your body fat percentage by combining healthy eating with strength training. 

If you happen to be super skinny, you can probably skip straight to the “how to get big” article!

Your next question might be, “Just how quickly can I lose the fat then?”

We’ve shared tons of success stories here on Nerd Fitness where people have lost 100+ lbs in a year, and even one story where Anthony lost 200+ pounds in a year:

Before After Anthony

Or Leslie, a single mom and one of our coaching clients who lost 100+ pounds:

Whenever we post these stories, we receive a few dozen emails from people saying “But that can’t be healthy to lose all of that weight so quickly.”

Our response is always the same: every person will react to strength training and healthier eating decisions differently.

If somebody is incredibly overweight and they switch to a healthy diet and proper exercise and stick with it for months and months, their transformation COULD be drastic and also completely healthy.

In this nerd’s humble opinion (and I am not a doctor), any day spent 200+ pounds overweight is unhealthy, and the faster we can get a person down to a healthy body fat percentage, the better (provided it’s done in a sustainable, healthy way).

We encourage people to NOT starve themselves, to NOT overexert themselves with exercise, and to listen to their bodies.

The Nerd Fitness training and diet philosophy involves healthier eating decisions, building exercise habits, and months and months of small dedicated changes.

Depending on your situation, you could lose anywhere from .5 lbs to 5+ lbs a week and be completely healthy. Everybody is different, so if you are concerned about your rate of weight loss, be sure to check with your doctor.

One BIG factor here: If you are strength training and actively trying to preserve the muscle you have, the weight will drop off more slowly than if you solely focused on eating better and eating less and exercising as much as possible at all costs. However, in the long run, we believe most people find this route preferable.

Again, our goal is not pure weight loss. It’s building a body that is healthy and gives you confidence. Don’t just focus on the scale, but the big picture.

If you want to learn more about getting started with strength training (our recommended method for training to help you build the body you want), we created a free guide that virtually holds your hand through the entire process: Strength Training 101: Everything You Need to Know. 

Grab our guide free when you join the Rebellion in the box below:

What’s really possible?

steve push ups

Here’s the truth: we’re human beings.

Yes, we are capable of freaking amazing things, whether it’s Joe transforming, or Saint getting in incredible shape for his wedding, Anthony dropping 200 pounds, or Bronwyn becoming an actual superhero.

Unfortunately, unlike in superhero movies, there’s no super serum we can take to turn us from Steve Rogers into Captain America in a matter of minutes – or even in a matter of months! No matter your desired level of superhero status, it’s gonna take hard work! And a crazy amount of patience and dedication.

Focus on the fundamentals above, and be aware of these advertised shortcuts:

1) Those magazines, DVDs, infomercials, and books that promise amazing results in minimal time and with minimal effort are often designed to prey on your insecurities about your body, and paint an unrealistic picture of what you can accomplish in a few short months. Not cool! They don’t want to get you healthy; they want to sell products. If they got you healthy AND taught you how to keep going, you wouldn’t need them anymore! If you LOVE these DVDs, great! As long as you are also fixing your nutrition, then any form of exercise can help you in your quest for a flatter stomach or slimmer body.

2) Unless you’re a member of the X-men (if you are, let’s hang out), or on steroids, it’s brutally difficult to build lots of muscle while simultaneously losing fat. As explained above, to build muscle, you need to eat a caloric surplus so the extra calories go into muscle building.

To lose fat, you need a caloric deficit so your body is forced to burn fat for energy. How does one eat too much and too little at the same time? It’s kind of like trying to thread a needle while riding Space Mountain after eating a gallon of Dippin’ Dots.

Not impossible, but certainly no walk in the park.

Fortunately, if you are just getting started with strength training, you can make some SERIOUS strength gains (which is not the same as muscle gains) while simultaneously losing weight. We’ll explain that in Thursday’s article.

3) If you’re trying to lose weight and the scale went up, you probably did NOT build muscle. We get this quite a bit too, from people that are overweight and in their first two weeks of attempted weight loss.

The conclusion they come to, thanks to what we’ve been told, is “muscle weighs more than fat, so I must have put on muscle AND lost fat!”

Building muscle is not as easy as you’ve been told, so it’s likely that you either:

  • Put on fat because you are still eating too much (a caloric surplus), OR
  • Are carrying additional water weight, or your first weigh-in was inaccurate. Remember, the scale lies. Increased carb/sodium consumption for a few days, menstrual cycle for women, or any number of factors can give you a totally inaccurate starting weight, or progress weigh-in.

If you are overweight, the scale should be trending down if you are eating properly and exercising. If after a month you’re not seeing results, or the scale is going up, we’ll need to make some small adjustments to your diet (look at your total calories and the sugar/grain consumption).

Yes, you can EVENTUALLY accomplish each goal if you have a solid plan to follow, and you’re dedicated. Becoming Captain America, Black Widow, or Katniss Everdeen is possible. It just depends on how badly you want it, and what you’re willing to give up to get it.

I can tell you building a body to be proud of is absolutely worth it, but you’re much better off building that superhero frame one step at a time, instead of all at once!

But I’m ready to see Results now

alarm clock

I hear ya! Look, I would LOVE to get you in killer shape for your wedding in two months and help you lose 50 pounds, and give you a bigger chest and arms (or ‘toned’ arms and legs), and make you look like Daniel Craig in James Bond or “famous action star in big movie.”

Unfortunately, here on planet Earth, in a place we call “reality,” we have to attack this differently than in Hollywood.

We’re much more interested in getting you down the proper path, with a strong, solid base, that sets you up for year after year of success (rather than for 15 minutes during a movie shoot).

I want this article to become a resource for the Rebels who are confused about weight loss –  so let’s hear your questions!

I guarantee if you have one, there are a dozen others with the same question, too. It’s why we created a ton of free resources to help you too.

Grab our 10-Level Nerd Fitness Diet strategy guide and our Strength Training 101 guide free when you sign up in the box below, and let us help you get started on transforming like Optimus Prime today!

If you’re curious, there’s another side of this coin that we’ve delved into as well: “how fast can I build muscle?”

What else can I answer for you about healthy weight loss? What tips do you have for your fellow Rebels?

-Steve

PS: We have 650+ free articles and dozens of free workout plans on Nerd Fitness, but if you’re looking for a comprehensive course that covers all of this stuff, check out our 1-on-1 Coaching Program – work with a coach from Team NF who will custom build a workout program for you, guide your nutritional choices, and keep you accountable!

You can schedule a free call with our team when you click on the box below:

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photo source: WeightlessRay Sawhill: Tone your butt, Ray Sawhill: 22 minutes

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