Active Recovery Ultimate Guide: What Should I Do on Rest Days?

This dog is chillin on it's off day. Smart move.

“Steve, what am I supposed to do on days when I’m not training?”

It’s a great question and one we receive quite frequently here at Nerd Fitness.

With our coaching clients, not only do we create workout schedules for them, we also help them utilize “off days” with active recovery. 

Today, we’ll share with you the exact same lessons (click to jump to that section): 

Proper Push-Up Ultimate Guide: How to Do Push Ups with Correct Form

Rebel Leader Steve doing a push-up near some water.

The push-up is one of the best exercises on the planet.

It’s a foundational movement in strength training, and an exercise EVERYBODY should be doing regularly.

However, it’s also an exercise that about 95% of people get wrong and do incorrectly.

A push-up is one of the exercises we really focus on with our Online Coaching ClientsWe make sure each client has great form, and use the exercise as a gateway to many other strength training exercises! 

Fortunately, after reading today’s ultimate guide, you’ll know exactly how to do a proper push-up with correct form:

6 Beginner Gym Workouts: How to Work Out in a Gym The Right Way!

These Troopers get to work out in the Death Star's gym. You might have to buy a membership.

Welcome to the Ultimate Beginner’s Guide to the Gym! 

As part of our Strength 101 series, this guide will dive deep into everything you need to know about working out properly in a gym.

By the time you finish reading, you’ll never have to wonder “what should I do in the gym?”

I bet I also make you laugh once or twice with bad jokes or perfect gifs.

This Muppet knows strength training will help him gain muscle and lose fat.

We’ve helped thousands of Online Coaching Clients build confidence and start strength training in the gym, so I worked with our coaches to create today’s Ultimate Beginner Gym Guide!

Okay, time to start working out. Let’s hit the gym and explore the following:

The Ultimate Guide to Losing Fat and Gaining Muscle (At the Exact Same Time)

Is Vader on the right track to lose fat and gain muscle? Let's find out!

There’s an argument in the fitness world that you can either choose to lose fat OR gain muscle.

They just can’t be done at the same time.

To this, I say, “Hogwash!”

We have tons of success stories from our online coaching clients who have been able to do both simultaneously:

And that’s what we’ll cover in today’s guide!

Plus, I have tons of sweet LEGO photos and silly gifs on their way, which is always a good time. 

How to Do The Front Squat: A Definitive Guide

The barbell front squat is a fantastic exercise for strength training

The front squat is a fantastic alternative to the traditional barbell squat

In this guide to front squats – part of our Strength 101 series – we’re going to be covering everything you need to know about how to perform the front squat.

Teaching people how to do squats is one of my favorite things about our 1-on-1 online coaching program!

We build workout routines that help people get strong as hell, check their form via video, and even help them get their nutrition dialed in too.

If you’re ready to jump into this guide on front squats, simply click on the sections below to get to the good stuff:

Oh, and if you like this guide, we have an entire Strength 101 Guide that you can download free when you join the Rebellion (our free community).

I’ll send you the ebook when you sign up in the box below!

Healthy Eating Ultimate Guide: Start Eating Healthy Without Being Miserable

Is this breakfast part of a healthy diet?

So you want to start eating healthy…

Amazing!

We’ve helped hundreds of thousands of people like you transform into the best versions of themselves, and we focus on proper nutrition to do so.

These are the exact strategies we teach our 1-on-1 Online Coaching clients, and we’ve used these tips to help them lose weight and get in great shape without being miserable.

Plus, we use fun LEGO photos and gifs to keep you entertained.

In this Ultimate Guide, we’ll cover everything you need to start eating healthy today:

How to Find a Good Personal Trainer or Coach: 5 Mistakes to Avoid!

Two Legos about to workout together.

Before you fork out some cash for a personal trainer, read this guide!

It’ll help you spot the difference between a bad personal trainer and an AMAZING trainer. 

And trust us, having the right trainer can make ALL the difference in the world.

There’s nothing worse than spending 6+ months in a gym (and thousands of dollars) with a trainer, only to step on the scale and realize that you haven’t made any progress.

It’s the worst.

A bad personal trainer is the worst

I’ve worked with good trainers and bad trainers over the past 15 years, have worked with the same online personal trainer since 2014, and we have a team of 15 personal trainers on Team Nerd Fitness.

Long story short, we know our stuff, and we’ll give it to you straight.

Whether or not you want to check out our 1-on-1 Online Training Program, this guide is going to help you with all the details.

In this guide we’ll cover the good, the bad, and the ugly when it comes to personal trainers – both in person and online:

How to Get in Shape Quickly and Safely: 4-Step Beginner Guide

This Stormtrooper is ready to get in shape!

This step-by-step strategy guide will tell you everything you need to do to lose weight and get healthy starting today.

I know you have lots of questions, and I promise I’ll answer every single one of them (yes, even that one).

These are the exact strategies we tailor to each 1-on-1 Online Coaching Clients, and I’m excited to share them with you today.

In this guide we’ll discuss:

Four easy steps to obtain the Nerd Fitness “Triforce of Winning!”

“But Steve, ‘tri’ means three…”

…don’t worry about that, because Triforce!

Nerd Fitness Triforce of Winning

Either way, you got this.

You can read our overall philosophy below (which has helped hundreds of thousands of people), and help you get started today!

The 42 Best Bodyweight Exercises: The Ultimate Guide for Working Out Anywhere!

Deadshot does his bodyweight training, in between "jobs."

Here are the 42 best bodyweight exercises you can do to build muscle and burn fat, no gym required! 

These are the exact exercises we start our coaching clients on and I’m pumped to share them with you today!

We’ve organized the exercises by major muscle groups (click to jump to those movements):

Plus, we’ll pull it all together at the end so you can create a complete bodyweight workout routine!

Let’s get to it.

3 HIIT Workouts for Beginners: Start Interval Training and Sprint Running!

This biker loves interval training.

This High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) guide is probably the best interval training guide in the galaxy.

My justification for such a bold claim?

We’re really good at this stuff, AND we have dinosaurs and Muppets.

Plus, lots of great gifs:

This runner can't do interval training.

We build custom interval training programs just like the ones in this guide for our 1-on-1 Online Coaching Clients, including workouts for at home, the gym, or even while traveling.

In this Ultimate Guide to Interval Training, we’ll cover:

How Many Calories Should I Eat Every Day? A TDEE Calculator for Total Daily Energy Expenditure

These LEGOs are learning about their BMR and TDEE so they can calculate their calorie needs.

“Steve, how many calories should I eat every day? I have goals!”

Great question.

Knowledge is power, so today, we are going to make you more powerful by calculating your Total Daily Energy Expenditure (TDEE).

Of course, “knowing is half the battle.” The other half is what you actually DO with your TDEE information! 

Surprised monkey is not sure what to do with his Total Daily Energy Expenditure

Fortunately for you, we’ve helped thousands of Online Coaching Clients lose weight and get healthy, and TDEE is just one of many factors we consider when building a specific strategy for somebody’s goals.

Okay FINE, I’ll share the other factors and strategies below too.

Simply click on the section below for quick reading, though I’d recommend you read the whole enchilada to properly apply your TDEE to your life:

How Many Sets and Reps Should I Do? (Building The Correct Workout Plan)

If this plot asked how many reps and sets should he do, what would you tell him?

If you’ve ever asked yourself “Am I doing too little or too many reps and sets?” then this guide is for you.

This article is part of our Strength 101 series, and we’ll show you exactly how to determine the number of repetitions and sets for specific exercises, so you can build your own workout routine.

It sounds easy, but depending on your goals, the answer to “How many reps and sets should I do?” can vary greatly.

This Muppet knows strength training will help him gain muscle and lose fat.

We work hand-in-hand with our Online Coaching Clients to create the correct workout program that suits their goals, needs, and available equipment

In today’s guide on workout programing, we’ll cover (click each to get right to that answer):

15 Circuit Training Routines: Try These Fast Workouts Anywhere!

circuit training is awesome, even dinosaurs love it

This circuit training guide is gonna give you EVERYTHING you need to do your first kickass circuit training workout today.

I mean come on, it has dinosaurs in it.

These workouts are similar to the custom programs we build for our Online Coaching Clients who work out at home, on the road, and in outer space.

Okay FINE we don’t have any clients in space (yet). But we do have clients in Antarctica, and multiple aerospace engineers. Close enough?

If you’re hoping circuit training will maximize your results in a minimum amount of time, one of the 15 circuits below will do the trick:

Strength Training & Weight Training 101: Why You Need to Get Strong.

Strength training is for everyone, including this robot!

Strength training will change your life.

If you want to lose weight, gain muscle, and/or just look and feel better, strength training will do just that.

In this comprehensive series, we’re going to cover EVERYTHING you need to know about getting strong.

By the way, hi. I’m NF Lead Female Coach Staci Ardison with a 455 pound deadlift, and strength training has changed my life.

You can see in these images how strength training transformed Staci.

Here’s that deadlift by the way (at a bodyweight of 150 lbs): 

A deadlift like so is a great way to strength train. Don't start with 400 pounds though!

I help men and women get strong with our 1-on-1 Online Coaching Program, and in addition to this strength series, I’d love for our team to help you get strong too:

In this introduction to Strength and Resistance Training, we’ll cover:

This is also quite a lot to absorb, so we’ve combined this article along with the rest of our strength articles into a “Strength Training 101: Everything You Need to Know” guide.

Grab it free when you join the Rebellion by putting your email in the box below.

How to Lose Weight (Without Dieting): 5 Rules of Weight Loss

Can you eat that croissant if you're trying to lose weight? We'll find out!

Ugh, it’s time for yet another attempt at losing weight.

For some, losing weight is as simple as just looking at a vegetable.

For the rest of us mere mortals, it feels like running through quicksand.

For some, trying to lose weight is tougher than trying to escape quicksand.

Fortunately, helping people lose weight in a way that doesn’t suck is what we do!

And gosh darnit, we’re really good at it: we have thousands of success stories and 1 million+ people tune in each month for advice on this stuff. 

We help our Online Coaching Clients lose weight without dieting, and these are the exact tactics we use.

I’m going to cover EVERYTHING you need to know about losing weight quickly, sustainably, and without hating everything. Click below for more help:

Why Diets Don’t Work

This LEGO is super bummed that his weight will come back now that he stopped doing the Keto Diet for weight loss.

If you’re reading this guide, you probably:

  • Have gone on a diet in the past.
  • Are on a diet right now. 

From popular ideas like the Paleo Diet to Keto, or Plant Based (no prob) to Intermittent fasting (I do it), to terrible ideas like the Military Diet, juice cleanses or the Cabbage Soup Diet, we’re all looking for that master key that unlocks effortless weight loss.

Some of these diets are certainly more effective/healthy than others, but they all come down to two truths for losing weight:

Truth #1: Nearly every diet works in the short term.

Truth #2: Nearly every diet fails in the long term.

So why does every diet work in the short term? 

Pooh wants to lose weight, but isn't sure if a diet will help him in the long term.

Every diet you have ever tried has a clever way of restricting calories which leads to weight loss[1]

99% of the reason why these diets result in short term weight loss is that they get us to eat fewer calories. 

The problems arise when we get to Truth 2: 

“Nearly every diet fails in the long term.”

Put another way: “Temporary changes create temporary results.” 

If somebody “goes Keto” for 60 days, they’ll probably lose weight, and might even feel healthier.

This is cool. 

HOWEVER.

If they spend those 60 days dreaming of carbs, counting down the days until they can “go back to eating like normal,” they will put all of the weight back as soon as they stop their diet.

The weight loss you obtain through diet will only stick as long as you stay on that diet.

This is why I hate the term “diet” or “going on a diet”: In order for a diet to create permanent results, the diet needs to be adopted PERMANENTLY! 

You’ll achieve weight loss in the short term with pretty much any diet you pick, as long as it gets you to eat significantly fewer calories.

However, today we’re going to focus on weight loss with 2 important conditions

  • Permanently: No more yo-yo dieting. No more rollercoaster on the bathroom scale.
  • Enjoyably: We’re not miserable and hating our lives while making these changes.

So, as you read about the 5 rules of weight loss below, I want you to be honest with yourself. You need to make changes you can stick with for at least a year. 

If a change seems too drastic, or giving up a food seems too scary, make the “win scenario” smaller. 

Yep, small changes will help with sustainability, our goal in weight loss.

Here’s how we help our coaching clients: we work with them to pick ONE change per week that we can implement: one less soda, try one new vegetable, etc. 

In other words, we STOP thinking about “How many pounds can I lose in a month?” and instead “What can I do today that isn’t scary, but will make me better off a year from now:

Rule #1: Lose Weight Without Dieting

Buddha isn't trying to lose weight. But he's also zen about you trying to.

There’s only ONE big-ass rule you need to follow when it comes to weight loss:

Eat fewer calories than you burn.

(Yes, I realize this article has 5 RULES, but the other 4 all build on this one.)

Study[2] after study[3] after study[4] shows that our bodies obey the laws of thermodynamics and that in order to lose weight, we need to burn more calories than we consume regularly.

Yes, science is great, and the law of thermodynamics can help us understand weight loss.

Every day, our body needs a certain number of calories to carry out its daily functions: making your heart beat, your brain function, getting your body to move, and all sorts of other stuff. 

This is called your total daily energy expenditure, and you can calculate your TDEE here

  • When you consume more calories than you burn, your body tends to store those extra calories as fat (weight gain).
  • When you burn more calories than you consume, your body will pull from fat stores for energy (weight loss).

So, in order for us to lose weight, we need to find a way to tip the energy balance in favor of “burn fat, sucka!”

We need to tip the equation to burn fat, like we added a flame thrower to the scenario.

Simplifying this really complex topic, we need to eat less and/or move more to get our bodies to start using our fat stores for energy.

Unfortunately, that’s where the problems start. 

We humans are REALLY good at:

  • UNDERestimating how much we eat
  • OVERestimating how much we burn

When we accidentally eat more calories than we realize, and then burn fewer calories from exercise than we assume, we think we “can’t lose weight” because of our metabolism or genetics.

Nope. 

It’s because we are eating too much.

This eagle doesn't want to believe he eats too much for weight loss.

And as we lay out in our MASSIVE Healthy Eating Guide, the most important factor in nutrition is eating fewer calories than you burn on a regular basis.

The best way to do that is to focus on the right kind of food:

  • Protein: meat and legumes. 
  • Fresh fruits and high fiber vegetables.
  • Healthy carbohydrates: rice, quinoa.
  • Healthy fats like almonds and olive oil.
  • Occasional cheese and dairy.

These foods tend to be lower in calories than processed foods that have been designed to be overeaten[6]

They fill us up but aren’t overly calorie-dense.

Which means we feel full and yet consume fewer calories than we used to. 

If we can do this consistently and sustainably, we will lose weight.

Woot! A calorie deficit is a sure fire way to sustainable weight loss!

To drive the point home, here are two foods, both in 200 calorie increments (courtesy of wiseGEEK):

200 calories worth of a bagel:

This picture shows you 200 calories worth of a bagel, which is about 2/3 of one.

…and 200 calories worth of broccoli:

A pic of 200 calories of broccoli

Which one do you think you’ll be more likely to accidentally overeat? 

The bagel, duh.  Who eats only 2/3rds of a bagel? Literally zero people.

So here’s how we’re going to lose weight: eat fewer calories without realizing it, and then burn extra calories without being miserable:

  • Prioritize protein and vegetables on your plate: target 2 fist-sized servings of vegetables, and 1-2 palm-sized portions of protein on the plate. 
  • Learn portion sizes of fat and carbs: If you aren’t losing weight, these are the culprits. Cut back on the one you’re eating more of. 
  • Exercise for weight loss: Strength training is the most efficient way to lose fat. Strength train 3x per week, and then mix in fun cardio and move as much as possible. 

Let’s dig into these 3 things next:

Rule #2: Prioritize Protein and Vegetables

If your meal plate looks like this, you're doing a lot of the heavy lifting for weight loss.

If our plan is weight loss that doesn’t suck, we’re gonna build better meals full of foods that fill us up and make us feel good. 

PART A) PRIORITIZE PROTEIN FIRST: Protein is fuel for our bodies to rebuild muscle. It’s also delicious and nutritious and can satiate us with an efficient number of calories.

How much protein should you eat? As we cover in our Protein Guide, aim for 1g per lb of bodyweight (2g per kg) every day (with an upper limit of 250g). 

Protein can come from any number of sources, including:

  • Meat (steak, bison, pork).
  • Fowl (chicken, turkey, duck).
  • Eggs![7]
  • Fish and shellfish (salmon, tuna, shrimp).
  • Legumes (black beans, chickpeas).

Not a meat-eater? Read our massive plant-based guide!

A serving of protein is about the size and thickness of your palm.

A serving of protein should be about the size of your palm, like so.

*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 the key to healthy eating.

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!

A serving of veggies should be the size of your first (or greater).

Here’s a quick, non-complete list of veggies that can fill your plate:

  • Broccoli
  • Broccolini
  • Cauliflower
  • Spinach
  • Kale
  • Spaghetti squash[8]
  • Brussels sprouts
  • Zucchini
  • Cucumber
  • Carrots
  • Onion
  • Asparagus

“But Steve, I don’t like vegetables…yet!” 

That’s cool, I didn’t eat vegetables until I was 22. Now, they’re a main staple of every meal I eat. 

If this is you, read our guide on “how to make vegetables taste good.”

RECAP: In our quest for weight loss that doesn’t suck, we need to focus on foods that have lower amounts of calories but still make us feel full and satiated and happy.

Always start with protein and vegetables, and then the rest of your plate can have fats and carbs. 

Speaking of which…

Rule #3: Know Your Carbs and Fat Portion Sizes.

This LEGO knows that if you want to lose weight, you have to have portion control of your carbs.

If 3/4ths of our healthy plate is occupied by protein and vegetables, where do fats and carbs fit in? 

You can still lose weight by consuming fat and carbohydrates, when consumed in the right quantities

Remember how I said earlier “we UNDERestimate how many calories we eat every day?” 

Fat and/or carbs are almost ALWAYS the culprit.  

Batman is curious on how carbs and fat factor into weight loss.

Let’s discuss.

PART C) HEALTHY CARBOHYDRATES FOR THE WIN. Everybody loves carbs, but most people overeat this macronutrient without realizing it.

Here are some examples of healthy carbohydrates that are less likely to be overconsumed:

This is a list of REAL foods, minimally processed, that also have plenty of fiber[9]

Which then puts them in the “healthy carbs” category: when consumed in proper proportion, these are great foods that can help you feel full and give you energy and all that jazz. 

Just make sure you know your portion sizes!

EVERYBODY accidentally overeats carbohydrate-heavy foods, even healthy ones, and then wonders why they aren’t losing weight.

To help you get better at eyeballing carb serving sizes:

Showing you a serving of carbs

1 serving of a starchy carbohydrate is 1 cupped hand (uncooked), or two hands forming a cup (cooked). 

Here are some images to help you learn proper portion sizes (thanks to SafeFood):

This picture will help you determine proper serving sizes for carbs!

PART D) DON’T FORGET ABOUT FAT! 

Fat used to be vilified, but now it’s considered a superfood by many. 

Here’s the truth: fat is neither a superfood nor evil. 

Fat can be part of a healthy diet, and is not evil, to the frustration of Dr. Evil.

It’s just a macronutrient that we can eat that can help us lose weight when consumed in the right quantity, or keep us from our goals if we eat too many calories of it.

Healthy fat can be found in foods like:

  • Avocado 
  • Almonds 
  • Walnuts
  • Macadamia nuts
  • Olive oil
  • Almond butter 
  • Peanut butter

Saturated fats – consumed in moderate quantities[10] – can come from things like:

  • Whole milk
  • Full fat dairy
  • Coconut oil
  • Grass-fed butter
  • Lard
  • Fatty cuts of meat

To help you gauge: a serving size of fat is roughly the size of your thumb!

A serving of fat should be about your thumb!

THIS is a single serving of almonds (162 calories):

Knowing the correct amount of almonds to eat can help you with your calorie goals.

THIS is a serving of olive oil (119 calories):

This shows the serving size of olive oil, which is very dense calorie wise.

What about cheese? Cheese is fine, provided you consume a proper sized portion of it! 

This is a portion of cheddar cheese (116 calories):

A serving of cheese is about the size of four dice

So bringing them all together, here’s the healthy plate for weight loss (from our Healthy Eating Guide):

If your meal plate looks like this, you're doing a lot of the heavy lifting for weight loss.

If you can prioritize protein, fruit, and vegetables, and keep your carb and fat intake under control, you are going to lose weight. 

“But Steve, what about low-fat diets? Low-carb diets? No-carb diets?”

Low carb diets like Keto and Paleo are all the rage right now, but are they healthy and will they help you lose weight? 

Will a low carb diet help you lose weight? Maybe!

Maybe!

It depends on how your body regulates glucose (blood sugar)[11]:

Studies show that people who follow EITHER a low-fat OR a low-carb diet will lose weight, as long as they are in caloric restriction and can adhere to the diet for at least a year[12].

So, it comes down to: “which strategy are you more likely to stick with for a year or longer?”

If you think you can go Paleo or Keto or follow another low carb/low fat strategy for over a year, go for it.

Otherwise, make small changes!

MY ADVICE: Stick with changes that aren’t too scary. Work on reducing portion sizes or adding a new vegetable each week, and don’t get dogmatic, all-or-nothing about your diet! 

If you can find a way to reduce your total calorie intake without being miserable, you WILL lose weight over time, AND keep it off. 

There’s one other piece of the puzzle I HAVE to address.

Rule #4: Exercise for weight loss (Strength training and cardio)

For exercises, the important thing is you enjoy it. Like this LEGO enjoys football.

Although exercise isn’t necessary for weight loss (nutrition being the most important part), I would HIGHLY recommend you exercise. 

There are three forms of exercise that I’ll cover when it comes to weight loss, and ALL three of them are important:

#1) Fun cardio is doing any sort of exercise that gets you off your butt and moving.

Carlton knows any kind of movement is beneficial for weight loss, including his signature dance!

It makes our heart healthier, AND it can serve as a reminder that we’re doing things differently now, and that we need to eat better so we don’t ruin our efforts!

(Whatever you do, DON’T say: “Welp, I exercised – and thus I earned this donut and Coca-Cola” – you’d have been better off NOT exercising and skipping the donut and Coca-cola).

Here are 40 fun ways to exercise without realizing it. Feel free to do a fun activity as often as you can! 

#2) High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) burns more calories per hour than steady cardio, so you get more “bang for your buck” when it comes to efficiency. 

If you’re limited on time and trying to burn more calories, 20 minutes of HIIT burns more calories than 20 minutes of steady jogging. 

Here are 3 HIIT workouts you can do today, no gym required! 

Captain Marvel is pumped she doesn't have to head to the gym to do a HIIT workout.

Both of these activities can help tip the energy balance in favor of “weight loss” when combined with calorie restriction. 

When you’re in a “caloric deficit” for weight loss, the hope is that your body will mostly pull from fat stores, though depending on how you are exercising it will also break down muscle too.[13]

Said again: when you are eating a caloric deficit, your body will pull from both its fat stores AND existing muscle for energy.

Yes, if you're not careful you can lose fat AND muscle while losing weight.

From a physique and health standpoint, obviously we’d prefer that we don’t break down muscle when in a caloric deficit, and instead get our body to use ONLY fat stores.[14]

Your goal in fitness shouldn’t only be “weight loss,” despite the common vernacular used.

The goal instead is to reduce body fat while also keeping the muscle you have (or even building more muscle).

Which brings me to the most important form of exercise for weight loss:

Rule #5: Strength Training For Weight Loss

Of course Batman Strength Trains. Fighting crime is tough work.

#3) Strength training is the prizefighting champion when it comes to weight loss.

You can find study[15] after study[16] after study[17] that 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 is a lot like the Sorting Hat.

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.

A beating heart requires calories, which factors into your calorie needs.

Here are two quick examples (from our TDEE calculator!):

  • A 6’, 34-year old male weighing 250 pounds burns 2,300 calories a day just by existing.
  • A 5’5”, 40-year old female weighing 140 pounds burns 1,350 calories a day just by existing.

When you start strength training, actual wizardry starts to happen.

When you do push-ups and pull-ups or do a strength training workout, your muscles are “broken down” during the exercise itself, and then they rebuild themselves stronger over the next 24-48 hours.

Guess what happens during those 24-48 hours?

Your body diverts as many calories as possible to “Rebuild Muscle!”

It also diverts additional calories to “Burn as Fuel” to handle this increased “muscle rebuilding” activity.

Which means two amazing things:

  • Rebuilding muscle is a calorie taxing activity!
  • Your metabolism is revved up for this period of time, burning more calories than normal.

There are significantly fewer calories available for “Store as Fat.”

AND THEN IT GETS BETTER.

This man wants to know more about strength training for weight loss.

When you consume fewer calories than your body burns each day, strength training will cause your body to get even more efficient. 

Your body can pull from “Store as Fat” to make sure all the work still gets done, including your daily functions as a human, and rebuilding the muscle. 

This is the Tri-wizard cup[18] of physical transformation victory:

This would be a “win-win-win” according to Michael Scott, Regional Manager, Dunder Mifflin Scranton.

So NO, you don’t need to lose weight first before you start strength training.  

You will lose weight BY strength training (and keep the muscle you have).

Here’s how to start with Strength Training:

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. 

Gonzo knows strength training will help him lose weight. That's why he recruited his chicken pal!

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 🙂

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25 Tips to Supercharge Weight Loss

This LEGO knows if he follows the tips in this article, he'll gain weight successfully.

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. 

Making too many changes at once is a sure fire way to lose momentum in weight loss.

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.[19]

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. 

Kimmy is relieved she doesn't have to do strict Keto for weight loss.

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.

It should go without saying that chugging maple syrup will not help with weight loss.

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.

This dog uses plain soda water as his mixer for weight loss.

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.  

6) Know your next meal. Most of our coaching success stories plan in advance what their next meal is.

Because it’s a pre-made decision, it removes emotion and makes them less likely to make a bad choice while hungry, sad, or angry.

Think of it this way: you can still eat unhealthy foods with this strategy because you plan ahead and can eat a healthy meal before and after. No harm done!

7) Look at restaurant menus before going. Restaurants give out notoriously large portions of food, often with hundreds of hidden calories.

Give yourself the best chance to succeed by looking up the menu online before going and decide BEFORE you get there.

Do yourself a favor and look at the menu BEFORE you arrive if you're trying to lose weight.

Also, consider taking HALF the entree and boxing it up for an additional meal.

8) Eat the same foods over and over. The healthiest, most successful coaching clients we have tend to eat the same handful of meals over and over.

Once you learn portion sizes and calorie counts of your favorite meals, you’re much more likely to eat within your goals for the day.

9) Learn to batch cook. Read our guide on batch cooking! If you can prepare all your healthy meals ONCE at the beginning of the week, you are setting yourself up for success.

Once you get good at batch cooking you'll feel like the Swedish Chef.

Why? Because now your default, easiest, laziest option is to simply reheat and eat the food you have at home – much less work than ordering takeout or driving to fast food! Win-Win-Win.

Here’s how I batch cook chicken for the week:

 

10) Employ the “Never 2 in a Row” rule. If you ever eat an unhealthy meal, simply make the next one healthy.

One bad meal doesn’t ruin a day, so letting an unhealthy breakfast derail you for the rest of the day isn’t smart. 

Simply eat a healthy lunch and get right back on track.

11) Ask “What would Batman do?” If you’re not sure what you should eat, ask what would Batman do.

A study showed that children were more likely to pick an apple instead of candy when instructed to ask this question.[20]

Batman is stoked kids want to eat apples instead of junk food.

And we’re all kids at heart, right?

12) Track your calories. If you can’t lose weight, it’s most likely because you’re accidentally eating more calories than you realize. Use an app or spreadsheet and track your food for a week.

I bet your intake is 20-40% higher than you realize! You can calculate how many calories you burn every day too. 

13) Weigh your food (advanced): STILL not losing weight? It’s time to get your portion sizes fixed too.

Get a cheap food scale and weigh your food for 2-3 days. Doing this, I discovered I was eating an extra 400 calories without realizing it. 

14) Eat more slowly!

Like this turtle, try to eat slow for a weight loss strategy.

If we’re not careful, we can eat more than we realize because we eat too quickly for our body to understand it’s full!

Tactics to help with this include consciously working on chewing your food more frequently before swallowing.

Studies show eating slowly led to decreases in energy intake within meals in healthy women.[21]

15) Use smaller plates and forks! If we have big plates and big utensils, we’re more likely to pile more food on our plate AND consume it more quickly.

Throw out your big plates and get smaller ones. Get smaller utensils, and you’ll trick yourself into eating smaller portions without realizing it.[22]

16) Don’t “Eat AND [activity].” Just “eat.” We eat more food if we’re eating while doing something else (watching TV, scrolling through our phones, etc.).[23]

Why don’t you try JUST eating? Enjoy each bite. Savor the food. Make it an experience. You’ll tend to eat less.

Arnold knows not to watch TV and eat for weight loss.

17) Stop snacking. All calories count. Instead of snacking throughout the day, why not eat 3 regular sized meals that you truly enjoy?

As we cover in our Guide to Intermittent Fasting, it doesn’t matter WHEN  you eat, it only matters HOW MUCH you eat. Not snacking between meals gives you more leeway during your actual meals!

18) Seek professional help! If you have an emotional relationship with food, consider speaking about it with a therapist or doctor.

We believe mental health is really important here at Nerd Fitness, and we know food can be an emotional trigger for lots of people that struggle with their weight. You don’t have to do this journey alone! 

19) Fidget more! From tapping your toes to getting up frequently, fidgeting (small micromovements) can account for up to 350 additional calories burned per day.[24] It all counts. So get wiggling!  

20) Move more. From parking farther away at the grocery store to taking the stairs instead of the elevator, do whatever you can to MOVE MORE!

Get a cheap fitness tracker and try to get more steps than you normally do.

Our Fitbit trackers can help us with analyzing trends and getting in more steps.

Don’t rely on the tracker for calories burned (they’re all notoriously inaccurate), but it’s a great ‘trend tracker.’ Do more than you did before and you WILL get results.  

21) Find ways to exercise in a fun way! ANY sort of movement helps, so check out our 40 ways to exercise without realizing it.

Dance, yoga, wrestling with your kids, rock climbing, hiking, it all counts! Just like your parents told you when you were a kid, “Go outside and play!”

22) Get strong as hell. Pick up heavy weights.

This Muppet knows strength training will help him gain muscle and lose fat.

Our bodies have to burn tons of calories to recover from a heavy strength training session.

Plus, you get to keep the muscle you have and burn the fat on top of those muscles. That’s how you lose weight AND gain muscle at the same time

23) Hack your Batcave: We are creatures of our environment, so use that to your advantage! Stop relying on willpower, and instead get smarter.

Increase the steps between you and the activity you’re trying to avoid (eat junk food), and decrease the number of steps between you and the NEW activity you want to do more of (eat healthy):

  • Throw out your junk food so you don’t need to waste willpower not eating it. 
  • Put a bowl of fruit on the counter so your default activity becomes “eat fruit!”

24) Surround yourself with people who are healthier than you. We’re the average of the 5 people we associate most with.

Two people just realizing they are the average of the 5 people they spend the most time with.

Join a running club. Eat lunch with healthier people than you at the office.

We subconsciously adopt the traits of the people around us, so use that to your advantage! 

25) Forgive yourself. We are all flawed. If you eat a bad meal or have a rough weekend, who cares?!

The month is not ruined. Make the next decision a healthy one and get right back on track. Remember “never two in a row.” 

I know this is a lot to absorb, so don’t beat yourself up if you’re totally overwhelmed! 

If you want help implementing these tactics and supercharge your weight loss journey, that’s what we do bestClick below to learn more!

How fast can I lose weight?

Now you know that any kind of movement is beneficial for weight loss, including tossing a football.

There are MANY factors that are involved in how quickly you can lose weight, but here are the big ones:

  • 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. 

The Tick is stoked you are having losing weight 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. 

(Curious how quickly you can lose weight? Use our Total Daily Energy Expenditure TDEE Calculator.) 

There’s nothing wrong with losing weight quickly, provided you’re doing it in a healthy, SUSTAINABLE way – like following the rules and strategies laid out in this article. 

Quick weight loss doesn’t guarantee long term success. 

It comes down to making PERMANENT changes!

If somebody reduces their calorie intake by 1000+ calories a day, they might be so damn hungry and angry all the time that they abandon their journey after a week or two.

This is bad news bears.

Malcolm just realized temporary changes create temporary results.

They would have been better off reducing their calories by 200 calories a day for 6 weeks, and then by another 200 6 weeks later, and so on.

We want sustainable changes, and sustainable weight loss, creating permanent progress. 

So it doesn’t really matter how much weight you lose in your first week or first month, but rather how much weight you have lost after 1 year, and how you feel after that year. 

As we cover in our “Why can’t I lose weight?” guide, this is a lifelong journey, and one you should be thinking about as a lifestyle adjustment and not a temporary diet change.

Put your focus on building the habits and fixing your environment. Focus on the changes you can make on a day to day basis, and with each meal. 

And over time, your weight WILL drop in a way that’s sustainable and healthy.  

How to Lose Weight Quickly

Move wherever, even on the beach, it'll help you lose weight.

“STEVE JUST TELL ME EXACTLY WHAT TO DO TO LOSE WEIGHT QUICKLY.”

Fine! But you don’t need to yell at me like that! 

Here’s what I would do if I needed to lose weight quickly but ALSO didn’t want to hate life:

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.

Our coaching program helps people start losing weight

#2) The Nerd Fitness AcademyOur self-paced online course that helps you through the first 6-12 months of your fitness journey!

It has 20+ workouts to follow, boss battles, a 10-level nutrition guide, and even quests to complete in real life so you can level up your character.

Oh, and the most supportive online community in the galaxy.

#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:

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. 

Wayne is stoked that he made his small change for weight loss.

And then repeat. 

What’s the ONE change you’re going to make this week to make your weight loss journey SLIGHTLY easier? 

-Steve

PS: Make sure you check out the rest of our Sustainable Weight Loss Content:

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