A serving of protein is about the size and thickness of your palm.
*The 4 oz serving is for an uncooked piece of meat. Cooking reduces about 25% of the weight, bringing it down to about 3 oz.
When building a plate, aim for the following amount of protein:
Dudes: 1-2 servings (6-8 oz or about 170-228 g): two palms
Dudettes: 1 serving (3-4 oz or about 85-114 g): 1 palm.
PART B) HALF OF YOUR PLATE SHOULD BE VEGETABLES: Veggies can be the difference between weight loss success and failure.
Vegetables are nutrient-dense but calorie-light, which means you can eat lots of them, you’ll feel full, but you’re unlikely to over-consume calories (remember that mountain of broccoli was only 200 calories!).
A serving of veggies is about the size of your fist, and 2 servings of veggies should take up ½ the plate!
Here’s a quick, non-complete list of veggies that can fill your plate:
Which brings me to the most important form of exercise for weight loss:
Rule #5: Strength Training For Weight Loss
#3) Strength training is the prizefighting champion when it comes to weight loss.
You can find studyafter studyafter studythat shows you the benefits of strength training for weight management when combined with “calorie restriction.”
Let me explain it here quickly, borrowing from Harry Potter:
(You know, the wizard.)
At the Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, when each student arrives they put on the “Sorting Hat,” an actual hat that determines which House (group) that child will join for his/her time at Hogwarts.
The hat acts like a traffic director:
“Harry, you will go to Gryffindor! Draco, you will go to Slytherin!”
Your body operates in a VERY similar fashion: every day, it receives new calories (when you eat), and it needs to decide what to do with them!
It’ll sort those calories into one of three Houses:
A: Burn for Fuel.
B: Rebuild Muscle.
C: Store as Fat.
There’s a number of calories your body burns each day just existing: to keep your liver functioning, your heart pumping, your brain operating, and so on – it burns a good chunk of calories just keeping the lights on.
BRINGING IT ALL TOGETHER: Doing a strength training workout 3 times per week is the most efficient way to lose the right kind of weight and look better naked.
Adding in intervals or fun exercise on your off days is a fantastic supplemental activity to strength training.
Want help learning how to strength train? You can absolutely build your own workout, or you can work with one of our coaches who can create a custom program that’s specific to your goals and lifestyle.
We’ll even make sure you’re doing the movements correctly via video, because we’re nice like that 🙂
25 Tips to Supercharge Weight Loss
The 5 Rules Above give you the best chance to lose weight in a way that doesn’t suck.
Changing your nutrition is like playing a video game: if you attack too many high-level bad guys at once, you’re going to lose.
Instead, you’re better off picking 1-2 smaller bad guys (changes) that you know you can win, and level up slowly.
THAT’S how you make changes that stick.
No more temporary dieting for temporary results!
Permanent changes create permanent results.
Here are 25 other quick tips that are supplementary to the above important ones!
1) Consider low-carb OR low-fat diets. Studies show BOTH low-carb and low-fat diets will result in weight loss, IF you can stick with it.
Many people tend to have more success faster on low carb, but they’re also more likely to abandon the diet. You don’t need to do Keto or Paleo if you don’t want to, and instead, just work on reducing carbs overall.
2) Consider intermittent fasting. Fasting helps you keep your caloric intake under control by eliminating or narrowing your eating window – it simply means skipping a meal or occasionally doing 24-hour fasts.
It affects men and women differently, but has tons of benefits and is backed by science. Read our Guide on Intermittent Fasting. I’ve been skipping breakfast since 2014!
3) Minimize liquid calories. Beverages with calories in them are probably sabotaging your weight loss efforts.
Cut out the sodas and lattes and high-calorie smoothies (unless you account for them in your calorie goal!). Stick to sparkling water, black coffee or tea, or other zero-calorie beverages.
4) Cut back on alcohol. Yes, you can still drink alcohol and lose weight, but you still need to account for the calories, of which there might be many!
And if you make poor food choices while drunk, it’s going to be tough to lose weight. Read our guide on alcohol and stick to low calorie beer, whiskey neat, or vodka with club sodas.
5) Know your condiments and cooking oils. Just because you’re eating grilled chicken and vegetables doesn’t mean you’re guaranteed to lose weight!
If those foods are smothered in sauces or covered in 1000 calories of healthy olive oil, the calories still count! Keep an eye on the sauces and oils you use to cook with.
How much weight do you need to lose? Somebody who needs to lose 250 pounds will be able to lose more weight than somebody who needs to lose 10 pounds, simply because there is more weight to lose.
How big of a caloric deficit below your TDEE are you doing? If somebody normally eats 5000 calories per day and switches to 1500 calories per day, they’ll lose weight faster than if they switched to 4500 calories per day. Now, reducing calories significantly can create all sorts of “I’m miserable and hate everything” feelings as our body learns to stop expecting a ready supply of food and has to start burning fat instead.
Are you going low-carb like Paleo or Keto?As you’ll see below, cutting out carbs can create significant weight loss in the first weeks due to a reduction of ‘water weight and bloat.’ But cutting out carbs might also make you miserable!
First Week Weight Loss Expectations: Depending on how poorly you eat now, if you swap out unhealthy food for protein and veggies – reducing your calorie intake significantly – you might lose upwards of 5-10 pounds (5kg) in your first week.
It’s awesome to see the scale drop by that much in the first week, but it’s important to note that this type of weight loss won’t be typical week to week.
If you normally eat a lot of carbs and sodium, your body is carrying a lot of extra bloat and water weight. When you switch to mostly protein and veggies, you’ll lose TONS of water weight and some fat initially.
We’ve seen many Coaching Clients lose 5-10 pounds in their first week, again mostly due to the reduction of water weight with SOME fat loss.
First Month Weight Loss Expectations: Depending on how strict you are with your nutrition – you can lose 1% of your body fat, or 1-3 pounds per week after that (heavily dependent on how much weight you have to lose).
We have seen people (who have a lot of weight to lose) lose 20 pounds in their first month, mostly due to large water weight reduction in the first week, with a steady consistent drop after that.
I’ll leave you with some final words of wisdom: this is NOT all or nothing.
If you can implement just ONE change and stick with it, that’s a victory. That’s better than doing 10 things and giving up after a month.
I realize I threw a LOT of information at you, but I hope you can implement this stuff in your day-to-day decisions, because these rules WILL change the scale, and they WILL change your life.
If you are looking for more guidance, support, and instruction, we have 3 options for you to level up:
#1) JOIN OUR COACHING PROGRAM: We provide nutritional guidance, constant feedback and support, customized workouts for your goals, and keep you accountable wherever you are.
We are really good at this stuff and would love to help you reach your goals.
#2) If you want an exact blueprint for how to eat better and get in shape, check out NF Journey. Our fun habit-building app helps you exercise more frequently, eat healthier, and level up your life (literally).
Try your free trial right here:
#3) Join The Rebellion (it’s free)! Sign up for our biweekly newsletter and join the Nerd Fitness Rebellion!
I’ll send you tons of free nutritional guides and bonuses to help you get started on your journey today.
Sign up below:
Download our free weight loss guide
THE NERD FITNESS DIET: 10 Levels to Change Your Life
Follow our 10-level nutrition system at your own pace
What you need to know about weight loss and healthy eating
3 Simple rules we follow every day to stay on target
If you were just trying to start building healthier habits and lose weight sustainably, instead here’s what I would do:
Make 1 change per week.
Change ONE meal a week, or cut back on ONE soda. Make a change that’s so small that it doesn’t make you sad or scared.
And then repeat.
What’s the ONE change you’re going to make this week to make your weight loss journey SLIGHTLY easier?
PS: Make sure you check out the rest of our Sustainable Weight Loss Content:
Fiber is a carbohydrate that can’t be broken down by the body, so it travels through you relatively intact. However along the way it can do all sorts of good stuff! For example, increased fiber intake can help reduce blood glucose levels.
In case you’re worried about saturated fat, here’s a systematic review that found no link between saturated fat intake and a greater risk of all-cause mortality.
Low-Fat or Low Carb for Weight Loss? It Depends on Your Glucose Metabolism: Pubmed
And no, I wasn’t born this strong (that would be strangely awesome). It’s only after discovering a love of strength training that I learned how to handle weight like this.
Obviously, we won’t start you out lifting that much at first. But we will set you up on a path that if you want to, one day you’ll be able to.
Before we get to it, if you’re in a hurry, I want you to know we’ve compiled all our strength training material into a friendly guide so you can read it at your leisure (I’m picturing you reading the guide poolside, sipping a lemonade).
Download Strength Training 101: Everything You Need to Know when you enlist in the Rebellion (that’s us!) below:
Download our comprehensive guideSTRENGTH TRAINING 101!
Everything you need to know about getting strong.
Workout routines for bodyweight AND weight training.
How to find the right gym and train properly in one.
Should Women Lift Weights? (Why You Should Start Strength Training)
Everyone should start strength training: people of every sex and gender, the young, the old…everyone.
#1) When you’re stronger – life is easier. No need to call for help to get that 50lb bag of dog food off the top shelf, or carrying an air conditioner unit up a flight of stairs. LIFE is easier when you’re stronger.
#2) Less injury risk – when you build strong muscles, you’re also building stronger bones, ligaments, and tendons, making you less prone to injury doing things you love (like playing in a quidditch league).
#3) Helps combat age-related muscle loss, allowing us to remain independent longer as we age:
#4) Muscle is harder to maintain, which means you need to eat more just to hold on to it.
#5) Reduce pain – having a strong body makes living easier on your joints, as well as allows you to hold a better posture and reduce back / hip pain.
#6) Appearance – this is a personal preference! Some women like to have a lot of muscle, and some don’t. While you can’t spot reduce fat, you can choose to build more muscle in specific areas, changing your body shape. Growing up, I was an extreme pear shape, but due to strength training, I now have more of an hourglass shape.
#7) Live longer – want to spend more time on Earth? Strength training and growing muscle will help you do just that.
Although strength training is one of the best things you can do for your health, it’s estimated that only about 20% of women do it, far below that of our male counterparts.
It’s part of my life’s work to reverse this trend and to do so, I’m going to need your help.
Is Strength Training Different for Women?
Here’s something that may shock you: there’s no reason everybody – of any gender or sex – shouldn’t strength train the same way!
Yep, you don’t need 3-pound pink dumbbells, unless you like 3-pound pink dumbbells! You can train with free weights and barbells just like everybody else at the gym.
Yes, there are biological differences between the sexes. For example when strength training, people with typical male anatomy will produce more type IIa fibers than people with typical female anatomy, who will in turn produce more type I fibers than men.
The American College of Sports Medicine doesn’t differentiate between sexes in their strength training recommendation. So neither shall we.
So what exactly is strength training, you may be asking?
“Strength training” of any kind can be explained by two things:
#1) Movement of any weight (including your body weight) – Doing ANY exercise that pushes your muscles outside of their comfort zone, forcing them to rebuild stronger to prepare for the next challenge.
#2) Progressive overload: exerting slightly more effort than last time (lift a heavier weight or do 1 more rep) consistently. Your muscles will constantly have to adapt and will constantly be rebuilding themselves to get stronger.
Coach Jim walks you through different strategies for progressive overload in this video:
Before we get into the ins and outs of strength training, I need to address a question we get over and over from the women in our coaching clients:
Will I get bulky if I lift weights?
If you see a woman who is incredibly muscular and at an extremely low body fat percentage, I guarantee she has been working her butt off for a very long time with the very specific goal of building muscle and looking that way.
It’s not something that happens overnight, or by mistake.
We simply don’t have the same amount of testosterone as people with male anatomy to get there easily. It’s something we cover in great detail in our guide on How to Build Muscle as a Woman.
If you’d like to build muscle, but not as much as a professional bodybuilder – don’t worry, it’s not something that happens by accident.
So strike “I don’t want to get bulky” from your vernacular.
Alright, let’s talk about how to actually get started strength training.
Strength Training Level 1: Bodyweight Workouts
If you’re just starting your strength training journey, our first stop will be a bodyweight workout.
Bodyweight training is simply doing an exercise in which your own body is the “weight” you are “lifting.”
This is the BEST place for anybody – regardless of weight or age – to start their strength training journey.
Why is this the best place to start?
Here are two big reasons to do bodyweight training:
#1) You always have your body with you (unless you are a ghost, in which case, this is awkward). This means you can work out ANYWHERE with bodyweight training:
If you’re following along at home, you just did your first full-body workout using weights!
Want a custom-built dumbbell workout? Something designed for the weights in your apartment’s gym?
Our Nerd Fitness Coaches can do just that! Plus they’ll scale your workouts as you grow stronger, turning you into a superhero!
Strength Training Level 3: The Wide World of Barbells
You made it! It’s now time to start training with barbells!
This is going to help you become ultra-powerful and strong.
It’s how I transformed myself into the person I am today.
The reason barbell training is so important is that it allows you to pick up heavy weights and do movements that recruit every muscle in your body. This is great for building powerful, strong muscles in your core, legs, glutes, and so on.
The simple to learn but tough to implement answer: lift enough so that you can get through the set, but not too much that you have NO fuel left in the tank at the end.
And then, try to lift sliiiightly more than last time.
How much weight should I start with?
If you are using dumbbells or a kettlebell, always err on the side of “too light” versus “too heavy.” You want to learn the movement correctly and build correct form.
If you are training with a barbell, ALWAYS start with JUST the bar, no matter the exercise (as a reminder, a standard barbell weighs 45 pounds).
“How fast should I add weight to the bar?”
Here’s what we teach all of our coaching clients: add the minimum amount of weight each week you can, even if you THINK you can lift more. It’s better to finish a workout full of momentum and say “I can do more!” than defeated and saying “that was too much, crapola.”
Think of it this way, even if you are adding just 5 pounds per week to the bar, within a year you would be lifting 300+ pounds!
So go SLOW. Team NF’s Steve even bought little half-pound weights and increases many of his lifts by just 1 pound per week.
Oh, what’s that? You just want somebody to tell you exactly how to train for your body, and how to eat for your goals?
Check out our 1-on-1 Coaching Program – it’s helped hundreds of women lose weight through strength training – and proper nutrition. We work with you on habit building and lifestyle design to actually get stuff done!
The Best Strength Training Exercises for Women
The best strength training exercises are universal. No matter your size, shape, sex, gender, age, or whether you love Star Trek more than Star Wars, these are the best exercises to build a great physique.
I’m going to share with you the 9 best strength training exercises that every beginner should master (scroll down for full video and explanations!):
Push-up: uses every push muscle in your body (chest, shoulders, triceps)
Bodyweight squat: uses every muscle in the lower body (quads, hamstrings, glutes, core)
Bodyweight row: works every “pull” muscle and helps prepare you for a pull-up!
Pull-up or chin-up: the best “pull” exercise in history! Everybody should have a goal to get their first pull-up.
Bodyweight dip: advanced “push” movement that targets your push muscles (chest, shoulders, triceps) in a different way than push-ups.
Barbell squat: the best bang for your buck on muscle building. Recruits nearly every push muscle in your whole body, and a great core workout.
Barbell deadlift: the favorite exercise of every coach at Nerd Fitness. Uses every “pull,” leg, and core muscle in your body.
Barbell benchpress: as basic and powerful as they come. Uses every “push” movement in your upper body and can get you strong as heck!
Barbell press: press the bar above your head! Targets shoulders and triceps more than chest.
Click on any of these exercises to get a FULL explanation of the movement, step-by-step:
1) The Push-Up: The best exercise you could ever do for yourself when it comes to using your bodyweight for push muscles (your chest, shoulders, and triceps):
2) The Bodyweight Squat: This exercise serves a dual purpose as it’s the foundation for building strength AND helps build proper mobility. If you are going to ever do barbell squats, you need to work on hitting proper depth with a bodyweight squat first!
3) The Inverted Bodyweight Row: Until you can get your first pull-up or chin-up, these exercises are GREAT to start building your pull-muscle strength (back, biceps, and forearms).
5) The Bodyweight Dip: As you start to get stronger with push-ups and need to find a way to increase the challenge, consider doing dips. Warning: these are very advanced, but incredible strength-building exercises.
And now we’re into the best weight training exercises:
6) The Barbell Squat: Probably the best exercise when it comes to building strength and muscle throughout your whole body. It also burns crazy calories and makes life better. This is a MUST:
7) The Barbell Deadlift: Maybe the best exercise of all time. Actually no, it IS the best exercise of all time. It’s certainly the most primal: “pick the weight up off the ground. Done.”
This is a very technical lift, so make sure you read our article on how to do it with proper form:
8) The Barbell Press: Press a barbell above your head. This recruits all of the muscles in your chest, shoulders, and arms in order for you to lift the weight over your head.
As a bonus, you need to really flex and brace your core, which gets those muscles working too.
9) The Barbell Bench Press. Lie on a bench, and lower a barbell until it almost touches your chest. Pause, and then press it back up towards the sky. Repeat! And get strong.
Your mission, should you choose to accept it: commit to trying ONE of these movements in the next week. Use 20 seconds of courage, recruit a friend who has lifted or trained before, and try your best.
And if you want somebody to help you put these into a workout program, teach you HOW to do these movements properly, and have the confidence to know you’re training correctly for your goals…
A Meal Plan for Strength Training (Healthy Eating 101)
So far, we’ve been more or less just talking about exercises when it comes to strength training.
This is logical, because this is in fact a guide on how to perform certain exercises to grow strong.
However, we constantly remind our coaching clients that 90% of their success or failure on their fitness journey will come down to what they eat.
“Success” in this context really comes down to your goals.
Are you looking to bulk up? You’ll need to eat more calories than you burn.
Are you looking to slim down? You’ll need to eat fewer calories than you burn.
At this point, you might be thinking “Staci, how many calories do I need?”
To answer that question, it’s time for the Nerd Fitness Calorie Calculator!
4 oz (113 g) of chicken has around 30 g of protein.
4 oz (113 g) of salmon has 23 g of protein
4 oz (113 g) of steak has 28 g of protein.
Want to get more protein? Consider protein shakes. Rebel Leader Steve and I both supplement with shakes daily to meet our protein goals.
Whatever you do, make sure you’re getting enough!
Whenever we speak with new Online Coaching Clients, protein is the macronutrient we begin every discussion with! It’s THAT important when it comes to either weight loss or building muscle. I’m not kidding when I say it should make up a portion of every meal you eat.
The Top Frequently Asked Strength Training Questions for Women
Here are some of the most common questions we receive from women beginning their strength training practice in our 1-on-1 Coaching Program.
#1) Will I get bulky lifting weights? I really don’t want to.
I have GREAT NEWS!
Strength training will not make you bulky, UNLESS you want it to!
You get to pick how you want to look, so you do you.
Just remember that women who compete as bodybuilders didn’t start looking like overnight:
They have eaten, trained, and potentially taken supplements specifically so they can look like that! Which is great. Good for them.
They’ve been working towards that goal for years, probably decades.
Here’s the truth: when you pick up heavy things (like barbell training), your muscles get STRONGER (but not necessarily bigger).
If you actively eat for the goal of building muscle and getting bigger, you CAN build muscle and size.
Again, if you want bigger arms or stronger glutes, AWESOME. You do you.
Let’s talk about the reverse: If you pick up heavy things and eat a caloric deficit, your muscles will get stronger and denser; you will burn the fat on top of your muscle, and you will lose weight and get that “toned” look that many women are after.
Sir Mix-A-Lot was wrong. Don’t do side bends and sit-ups, because you’re wasting your time!
Side bends don’t get rid of love handles. They will simply strengthen your side muscles without actually reducing any fat there, potentially making you bigger around the waist unless you change your diet as well.
Sit-ups will not remove belly fat. They can also wreak havoc on your lower back, and are an incomplete exercise.
Your body cannot spot reduce fat in specific locations. If you have flabby arms or a big stomach, doing thousands of bicep curls and thousands of crunches won’t help.
Your body is genetically predisposed to storing fat in certain locations in a certain order.
When you start to lose weight, your body will lose the fat you currently have in a certain order as well – it might come off your arms first, then your legs, then your belly, then your chest, and THEN your butt.
Or in a different order, depending on your personal genetic makeup.
No amount of targeted exercise will change how that fat disappears.
Big compound movements that recruit lots of muscle (and thus force your body to rebuild lots of muscle, which requires extra calories burned, even after the workout is done). Our section on the best strength training exercises for women would be good examples of compound movements.
#3) How many days a week should a woman lift weights?
Unless you’ve been strength training for years and know what you’re doing, we recommend that you pick a full-body routine that you can do 2-3 times a week.
You build muscles while resting, not working out, so you generally want 48 hours before engaging the same muscle group again.
If you made it up to our “The Wide World of Barbells” section, you can do the DAY A workout on Monday and the DAY B workout on Thursday. That’ll give you plenty of time to recover.
Want more? Maybe on the weekend, you sneak away for a short hike.
So if you’re tired of the same ole same ole and you’re ready to start strength training, you’re in the right place!
Not sure what to do or how to get started?
1) Check out our 1-on-1 Coaching Program! Our philosophies help women like Leslie above and they can be the philosophies that help you become strong inside and out.
Click on the image below to schedule a call and see if we’re a good fit for each other!
2) If you want a daily prompt for doing workouts at the gym (or at home), check out NF Journey. Our fun habit-building app helps you exercise more frequently, eat healthier, and level up your life (literally).
Try your free trial right here:
3) Join the Rebellion! Our free community numbers in the hundreds of thousands scattered throughout the globe, and we need good people like you!
You can join by signing up in the awesome yellow box below, and I’ll send you a bunch of free guides and printable workouts, including our Strength 101 guide!
Download our comprehensive guideSTRENGTH TRAINING 101!
Everything you need to know about getting strong.
Workout routines for bodyweight AND weight training.
How to find the right gym and train properly in one.
4) Do a strength training workout this week! The most important step you can do is to actually start.
I know what it’s like to hate exercise, and ALSO want to lose weight and see results. Ugh.
We’ve built an entire company and community around helping people overcome these obstacles – our Online Coaching Program helps people find exercises they love, and also how to make the right nutritional choices.
We are all on a unique journey and we’d love to help you with yours!
If you’re interested in training with gymnastic rings (which you are, ’cause you’re here), you may want to try our new app! It contains workouts that will have you level up to working out with rings. No guesswork needed, just log into the app and follow the next steps.
Today we’re going to tell you exactly how to restart your fitness journey.
Whether this is the first time you’ve had to “respawn” or the 50th, you’re in the right place.
We help folks restart their exercise or nutrition routines as part of our 1-on-1 Online Coaching Program…and we’re really freaking good at it! Today, we’ll share with you the same strategies we deploy with them.