Losing and Gaining Weight
Know how much to eat.
Eat for your goal of getting bigger or smaller.
Truth is, weight loss or gain is all about calories in vs calories out over time. You don't strictly need to exercise to gain or lose weight, you just need to eat more or less. But what exercise does do is make weight loss much more manageable and achievable, and helps to yield significantly better body composition results when both losing and gaining weight. And not only will it make you look better, it also makes you much healthier. Diet and exercise always work best in synergy.
Use the calorie calculator below to find out how many calories you should be eating daily. Try to make sure your diet has something from each of the different food categories in the food guide (with the exception of processed foods and refined grain products) to provide a good balance of everything. If you want a more specific ratio of optimum carbohydrates, protein, and fats to aim for with this calorie goal, use the nutrition calculator. This is highly recommended as the right protein intake for your activity levels and body mass is a vital key to getting results from both diet and exercise.
Remember, it's not an exact science.
Remember even the calorie calculator and nutrition calculator are just a guides based on formulas, not an exact science for your own personal body. Although they are excellent sound starting points and it's highly recommended that you use them, listen to your body's feedback. Some can eat slightly more, some slightly less. Start with the recommended amount and adjust accordingly to your body's feedback and your personal goals.
If you want to lose weight you have to create a sustained calorie deficit. That is, you have to burn off more calories than you consume over time. Is that it? Is it really that simple? Yes...and no. Although it is true to say yes, it can also be completely ignorant of people's life circumstance or mental state. Losing weight takes dedication, hard work, and sacrifice. It is hard, especially in the beginning. And for some it is harder than others. Especially if they have no reason to believe that it will make a difference. Also large frame endomorphs will naturally find it harder to lose weight than small frame ectomorphs who will naturally find it harder to put on weight. Mesomorphs may find it relatively easy to go up or down in weight by comparison. Everyone is different. Everybody's body clings to fat in different places and by varying amounts and some people just have more naturally athletic builds than others. But what ever your natural frame, weight loss only ever need be temporary if done efficiently. Once you have achieved your goal you will no longer need to be in calorie deficit mode as you wont actively need to lose weight anymore. You will be able to eat many more calories per day, and be able to treat yourself more, and still not put on weight provided you maintain your exercise and eat a healthy balanced diet inside the new calorie limit for your new lean lighter body. In the end, all you can do is focus on doing the best you can in making the right choices for your body to get it in the shape you want it to be. In the end, your only opponent is yourself. The choice is yours to take control of and embrace, no one else's.
Losing weight fast.
To lose weight efficiently you need to create a 500 calorie deficit to lose 1 pound a week or a 1000 calorie deficit to lose 2 pounds a week for your activity levels. Although you should never drop your calorie allowance below 1200 per day. A 20% to 25% calorie deficit is a good place to start. You don't need to starve yourself. HIIT, as well as strengthening and shaping your muscles, and improving your heart, lungs, circulation, blood pressure, and insulin sensitivity, burns more calories than any other kind of exercise in the same space of time. This allows you to eat more and still be in this healthy calorie deficit. This means more nutrition and energy, and less hunger, as well as receiving great aerobic an anaerobic health benefits at the same time. And this means not only more chance of success, but more chance of accelerated success as your body's metabolism becomes more and more efficient by the day.
It is not uncommon for people doing HIIT in a calorie deficit to lose much more than 2lbs per week. It has been known to result in large, yet incredibly healthy sudden drops in weight. Initially a large calorie deficit will always kick start weight loss. However, if you're in a high calorie deficit for a prolonged period of time, weight loss will always slow eventually as your metabolism slows as a defence mechanism to your shrinking body mass and calorie deficit. The trick then is not to increase your calorie deficit further but to reduce it, gradually over a few days, until you are back at maintenance levels again for a few days to a week. This will speed up your metabolism again and get your fat cells producing leptin again. It's like resetting your system. Then after a few days back at maintenance levels, re introduce a calorie deficit back into your diet again. This is known as a refeed or reverse dieting and is a successful tactic employed by body builders to strip fat. You can lose weight by diet alone, but diet and exercise together gets infinitely better, faster, and healthier results. HIIT is the most effective form of exercise for assisting weight loss.
Reducing fat intake is the most efficient way of creating a calorie deficit, not because fat is bad for you, but because fat has 9 calories per gram to carbohydrates and proteins 4 so you can make good initial headway with less changes to your diet. You should also look to cut right down on saturated fats, added sugar and salt in your food. It's a good idea to consume natural carbohydrates over processed carbohydrates and to cut out processed foods in general, including cartoned and bottled fruit juice and alcohol. This will help make weight loss even more efficient not just by reducing your calorie intake, but by helping you to avoid hunger and sugar cravings, and by reducing the promotion of fat storage by keeping blood sugar levels lower and stable.
Be mindful that when you lose weight, you lose both muscle and fat as your body size shrinks. To lose weight healthily, you want to minimize the amount of muscle lost and maximize the amount of fat lost as you lose it. Protein and keeping your strength up to let your body know that your muscles are still needed are the main stimulus for retaining muscle. Thanks to the anaerobic benefits, testosterone, and growth hormone generated from doing HIIT, routines that include plenty of strength moves such as The 4 Minute Max Outs, are the perfect method for retaining muscle mass whilst burning maximum fat when losing weight.
On the other hand, if you are trying to put on weight to bulk up, this can also be hard. You have to eat more calories than usual to gain mass. Again depending on your natural body type, it will be much harder for some than others. Everybody is different. And while you do have to eat more, nobody wants to get fat. So how do you gain muscle and not get fat?
Well firstly you need to be doing some form of resistance training coupled with a form of cardio for health. Cardio sessions are required with the resistance training to keep your heart, lungs, and cardiovascular system healthy, and keep your LDL cholesterol levels down as these are not worked at all with resistance training alone. Neglecting cardio is always a mistake from a health point of view. The 4 Minute Max Outs with the right focus can combine both strength training and cardio training together, or focus on each separately. Rather than weights, the resistance comes in the form of your body weight and leverage. The optimal efficiency of lifting very heavy weights for stimulating protein synthesis is one thing, but accessibility is another. Bodyweight strength training is still highly effective and works a wider range of muscle fibres plus you can do The 4 Minute Max Outs anywhere with no equipment required. Even if opting for the optimal option of lifting heavy weights to promote greater gains in muscle mass, The 4 Minute Max Outs can be used in many ways to augment results from weight training, mix up your training, and provide that all important HIIT cardio aspect of your training. Plus it always pays to have a portable back up strength training plan for those times you can't get to a gym.
Once you have your resistance training routine sorted, you need to eat more than usual to promote anabolic processes that build body mass whilst gradually monitoring your body's feedback for changes, increasing the resistance in your programme each week and adapting your routine each month to continue to stimulate more growth. But you don't want to eat to get fat, you just want a little higher than maintenance calories, after taking into consideration your workouts calorie burn, to ensure anabolic effects are being promoted efficiently. Diet wise, use the nutrition calculator to find a food ratio that suits your preferences, ensuring that you are consuming at least the optimal level of protein. Protein is the most vital aspect for growing muscle mass. That cannot be stressed enough. But that also doesn't mean overdo it. Having enough carbohydrates ensures maximum intensity in your workouts and that protein is reserved for muscle building, and enough fats ensures the necessary production of hormones optimal for muscle growth to occur. Remember, the ratios are just a starting point, not a golden rule. Everybody is different. You need to listen to your body's feedback and adjust the calories and ratios accordingly over time.
This task is made much easier if you start from a relatively lean healthy condition. So if you are very overweight and out of shape, you might want to consider burning fat and toning up before attempting to bulk up. Remember, you need to eat more to bulk up efficiently so if you are starting from being overweight, this won't do your health much good. You should think of getting leaner before trying to bulk up as first ensuring you have laid solid stable foundations before attempting to build your house. Or even better, stripping down a damaged building to the core so you can rebuild it stronger and better, rather than just trying to patch up the damage that is already there.
As a rough guide and assuming you are starting from a relatively lean body weight, 3 to 4 weeks after initially commencing on your diet and routine to bulk up, make any necessary changes to your diet and then continuously monitor weekly or fortnightly, making changes again if necessary. Use the tape measure around the waist over the belly button. Monitor strength gains. Use the mirror. You need to ensure weight gain is muscle and that you are not making your self fat from the changes. This is done best by taking it slowly and finding the right balance between diet and exercise for your body. Although you want to be in calorie surplus for your size, you don't want the surplus to be too big or you will accumulate body fat much faster than muscle. Aiming for 2 pounds a month is a good rate.
Again, as a rough guide, if you are losing weight, you can't be eating enough, so add 500 calories to your daily allowance. If your weight is the same, you are not achieving your goal, so add 350 calories to your daily allowance and review your progressive overload strategy. If your gains are too slow, add 200 calories to your daily allowance and review your progressive overload strategy. It's not just about calories, it could be you need to mix up your workout routine or increase your overload. If your gains are spot on, stay as you are. If you feel you are getting fat, drop your daily calories by 250 and or consider upping the cardio / HIIT in your routine to increase your calorie burn. If you find it very hard to put on weight, you can add another 150 to 200 calories to those additional calories above. So basically, after the first 3 to 4 weeks you should keep monitoring your body's feedback weekly or fortnightly and adjust your calories and workouts according to your end goal if required. Don't make adjustments every week just for the sake of it. Only do it if you need to, that is, if you notice that you are putting on fat very rapidly or else you are losing weight consistently as these show that you are straying from your target goal. Try to give your body a couple of weeks to adapt to changes.
Gaining weight fast.
You don't want to gain weight fast. It is a fast track to getting fat. Your body has a threshold on the amount of protein it can process every few hours and testosterone can only be boosted so much naturally. So there is a limit as to how much protein synthesis you can stimulate to build muscle naturally. Muscle gains are fastest for beginners (the rate of gains reduces with every year of solid resistance training), people that have have had greater muscle mass before but have since lost some (muscle memory), and those in the late teens / early twenties (testosterone levels drop as you age). As a point of comparison, Arnold Schwarzenegger stated that in his stint of compulsory military service as a younger man, he gained 25 lbs in the 12 months he was there. That works out as just over 2 lbs a month on average, and this works out at around 10% above your maintenance calorie requirements inclusive of your activity levels. If you think you can do better than him then by all means go for it. Listen to your body's feedback over time and add or remove calories as required depending on your gains or lack of. Gaining weight at around 2 lbs a month is a good target if you want to build muscle and not fat and you should be proud of that if you manage to achieve it. After a point, building muscle always becomes a much slower longer term process than burning fat. However, burning fat always gives the illusion of super fast muscle growth as it makes your muscles look much more shapely and defined as they have less body fat over the top of them.
Many people think that all you have to do is pick up some weights and start throwing them around and a few weeks later you'll be stacked full of muscle. It's not that easy. Building muscle when gaining weight can take just as much dedication as losing weight and some will find it much harder than others. But, as with losing weight, never let anyone tell you you cant do this, because it can be done by anyone.