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Everyone wants to lose fat fast, but most of us lack the patience for steady, safe fat loss. Desperate to lose weight, athletes resort to crash or fad diets to move the dial on the scale. While crash diets or sudden calorie cuts will make us lose weight, the losses come predominantly from water weight, muscle glycogen (fuel for athletic performance) and muscle mass—but not actually much fat.
We know that calories matter when it comes to fat loss. To lose weight, you essentially have to burn more calories than you ingest. For example, you consumed 1,600 calories, but your resting metabolic rate (the number of calories you burn just by being alive) is 1,800. You ran 15 sets of 40-Yard Sprints after a hard lifting workout. Let's say you burned 800 calories from that workout. You are now 1,000 calories in deficit for that day, roughly one-third of a pound of fat loss (3,500 calories in a pound of fat).
Basic mathematics tells us to cut calories to lose fat. However, we need to know what kind of calories to cut and how to trick our bodies into thinking we're still operating on normal calorie levels. If you cut calories for too long, your body will slow down its metabolism and potentially burn valuable muscle tissue for fuel. The good news is that you can trick your body and prevent this from happening.
The best way to lose fat fast is to keep daily protein intake high, while keeping calories low. I like to go on seven-day cycles of the following program. I combine it with daily weight training and interval workouts to keep my muscle mass stimulated, thus making my overall calorie burn extremely high.
This is a fun day. You want to elevate your hormones, so eat whatever you want, all day long!
Eat four to five small meals per day consisting of protein and "free" vegetables. Protein options include eggs, chicken, beef, Greek yogurt, whey protein, cottage cheese, pork, turkey and/or bison. If you are a vegetarian, eggs and whey protein are your best bet.
Each meal should include plenty of free vegetables—broccoli, romaine lettuce, spinach, tomatoes, carrots, kale, cauliflower, peppers, bok choy, onion, zucchini, eggplant, mushrooms, turnips, radishes, cabbage, etc. Vegetables help fill your stomach, providing fiber, loads of antioxidants and very few calories.
Days 2-6 Sample Meals
- Breakfast: Three-egg omelet filled with mushrooms, spinach, tomato and green pepper
- Lunch: Spinach and mixed greens salad, chopped tomato, cucumber and carrots, one can of solid white tuna in water and two tablespoons all-natural balsamic vinegar dressing
- Post-Workout Snack: Shake with 25-50 grams of whey (depending on your weight), a cup of unsweetened almond or coconut milk and a half cup of blackberries
- Dinner: One wild-caught salmon filet or one to two turkey burgers, side salad with mixed greens and two cups of steamed broccoli and cauliflower seasoned with crushed red pepper, black pepper and garlic
For daily protein intake, a general rule of thumb is to match your body weight in grams of protein. Since we want to cut calories, I like to take this to around 75 to 100 percent of body weight in grams of protein. Make sure those grams of protein have high "bioavailability"—a fancy word that means how well a protein is absorbed into the body. Whey protein and eggs are extremely high in bioavailability, as are all animal proteins.
Cycle through this plan for no longer than four weeks. You should lose some serious body fat, especially if you are a high school athlete. Make sure you eat every meal, because being undernourished is not safe. Stick to this plan and find yourself enjoying a new waistline!