Whenever a friend asks me about some new fad diet, juice, cleanse, or detox, I either (a) seriously question our friendship or (b) consider impaling myself with a No. 2 pencil.
Gentleman, are you trying to look good before your wedding? Feel like transforming your body before the big day? Want to drop ten pounds and get lean the right way?
I’m not going to lie: it takes a lot of hard work build a great body. But at GroomBuilder, we don’t screw around with new diet tricks that would make the folks at TMZ proud — we focus on the true fundamentals for fat loss that you should always honor. Why?
Because they always work.
That’s how we get great results.
Read on for five of our very favorite fat-loss rules.
Calories Out > Calories In
Of all Asian people I know, I could be the worst at math. But don’t let that fool you — fat loss is still simple mathematics.
If you burn more calories than you eat, you’ll lose weight.
The problem is, however, that guys still underestimate how much they eat and overestimate how much they burn. Then, after a few weeks of what they think is a diet, they’ll step on the scale, look at their weight, and angrily shake their fist at the sky while yelling, “WHY?!?!”
Stop guessing and keep an actual food journal — just for a few days ONLY — to see exactly how many calories you’re taking in. You may be surprised.
Then, use the Cunningham equation calculator, which uses a special formula that factors in your lean body mass, protein intake, and exercise levels, to determine how many calories you actually burn per day. To lose fat, eat 500 less calories than that number; if you’re still not seeing results, slowly reduce your calories even more.
Eat More Protein
I hate clichés, but this one is true:
You are what you eat.
And when it comes to fat loss, protein is key. First, it keeps you full, which prevents you from raiding the cabinet at 2am. Second, it increases your metabolism because protein takes more energy to digest compared to carbs or fat. Third, it prevents any potential muscle loss that could happen from a diet.
Key takeaway: eat roughly one gram of protein per pound of bodyweight and get your protein from whole sources like lean meats, nuts, eggs, and quality protein powders.
Eat More Healthy Fats
Like a teenager who takes perverse joy in telling the neighborhood kids there’s no Tooth Fairy, I’m going to tell you a fat loss secret that goes against everything you’ve ever heard:
Fat doesn’t make you fat.
Really. The truth is that fat can actually help you get leaner and more muscular because healthy sources of fat — like real butter, coconut oil, animal fats, nuts, avocados, etc. — keep you full and optimize your testosterone levels.
If you don’t get enough fats, however, your results will decline both in the gym and in the bedroom.
Also, eating more healthy fats will allow you to lower your carb intake — especially if you’re on a diet — and get you to eat more protein. (It sounds weird, but we show you exactly how to do it with your fat-loss meal plans in the GroomBuilder Fitness Program.)
Key takeaway: get roughly 25% of your calories from good sources of fat. And avoid artificial trans fats like a disgruntled Justin Bieber.
I don’t know why, but a lot of guys still think the key to fat loss is cardio.
Okay, sure, cardio can help you burn a few extra calories, but it does zilch to build the muscles underneath your fat and avoid that “skinny-fat look.” Worse, too much cardio — along with a diet — can make you weaker.
Guys, if you want to get lean, you need to lift weights and build strength. You’ll maintain and even add muscle while dieting, which will further improve your body composition (muscle-to-fat ratio).
Key takeaway: Each week, do at least one workout involving big exercises like squats, deadlifts, and presses for 4 – 8 reps and go heavy.
Sleep At Least 8 Hours Per Night
To borrow from Ron Burgundy, “I love sleep. Sleepy, sleep, sleep.”
If you’re training hard in the gym, don’t sabotage yourself by skipping the easiest thing you can do to drop fat. Cutting back on sleep increases your cortisol levels, which creates stubborn belly fat. In a study of over 6000 participants, Japanese researchers found that shorter amounts of sleep were associated with higher BMI levels and larger waistlines in men. Sleep deprivation also wrecks your muscle gains because it interferes with recovery and growth hormone production.
Key takeaway: get at least eight hours of good sleep every night. If you have trouble sleeping, stop drinking caffeine after mid-day, limit your alcohol (which ruins sleep quality), and create a pre-bed ritual to get your body and mind ready for sleep.
Looking for more tips to lose fat and transform the way you look for your wedding? Visit GroomBuilder and sign up for our FREE 5-day mini-course delivered right to your inbox to feel your best on one of the biggest days of your life.
Anthony J. Yeung, CSCS, is a fitness expert featured in Golf Digest, AskMen, Men’s Fitness, and Muscle&Fitness and the founder of GroomBuilder, the 8-week fitness program to transform the way you look for your wedding.