Why isn’t this easy?

“Your body hates you.
-Lyle McDonald

We all want a magic pill. Or a shortcut. Or someone to do the work for us.

I’m the same way. I spent a lot of years trying to figure out the easy way to get less fat. And there are extreme/crash diets that actually work. But what happens after you lose 20lb in a month?

Well, the first thing that happens is you immediately gain back at least 5lb the day after you start eating like a normal human again. Guess what? That 5lb that the scale told you you lost? That was water weight. You’ll probably gain back another couple of pounds in glycogen in the coming days too. Probably half of or more of the actual mass that you lost will be muscle, rather than the fat that you were trying so hard to get rid of.

Why should you care about losing muscle along with the fat? Go google heroin chic. … That’s what I thought. Unless you want to be mistaken for a third world waif on one of those unicef commercials, you want to have some muscle mass on your frame.

So you actually lost a little body mass. And now you go right back to doing what you did before. Which means you get where you got before. Fat again, or probably more so than you were before, and that’s no fun. So now you’re fatter, and depressed, and frustrated, and now you are going to DIET EVEN HARDER THIS TIME AND GET SO NOT FAT!!!!?!???? … You see where this one is going.

I’m not saying that crash diets don’t have their place. They do. But realistically, if you don’t have a very specific reason for doing so, there are most assuredly better ways to go about fat loss. Maintainable ways.

I’ve done the yo-yo dieting thing, and trust me, it’s really not great. You end up going nowhere fast.

Think about it this way: it probably took you a fairly long time to get fat, right? It didn’t happen over night. It accumulated so slowly you most likely didn’t even know it was happening. Well, that’s basically the way your body likes to do things. As Lyle McDonald http://www.bodyrecomposition.com/ puts it, your body hates you. Or rather, it loves you so much it wants you to never have to worry about starvation so you can pass along your genes and keep the human race going. That means, as you have probably guessed by now, that your body loves gaining and hates losing body fat.

The good news is that you can lose fat a lot faster than you probably put it on in the first place. The bad news is that it is never fast enough. But if you persevere you will make it.

If you aren’t severely obese, you can probably expect to lose about ~2lb per week of pure fat mass. More than that and you will be losing muscle along with it.

Are there shortcuts? Yes. You could get liposuction. You could develop an all-consuming cocaine or amphetamine addiction. There are other similar options out there, but they are about as healthy as these ones.

The most powerful fat burning drugs that you can get which are legal and safe for human consumption may increase your whole body thermogenesis by about 2%. Which for most people is equivalent to eating two less Oreo cookies. Per week. Supplementation is far beyond the scope of this post, but is something we will cover in the future.

So, wrapping up. For most people, you can expect to realistically and sustainably lose about 1% of your body mass, per week. That means for a morbidly obese person at 400lb, 4lb of fat per week isn’t a terrible thing to shoot for. For your average person of 150-200lb, that means about 1.5-2lb per week as a sustainable upper limit. And as you get leaner, that number goes down.

Anyone who tells you that you can strip off more than that is definitely selling you something, but also probably hoping that you don’t understand the difference between scale weight and body mass.

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