losing weight is simple when you know what you're doing.
The weight loss plan below is a six-week journey that includes three phases of diet and exercise, as well as tips on how to customize the plan based on your goals. It's important to note that this will not be a diet where your goal is just to "lose weight" -- these are tactics that have been proven effective for lasting results. If you're looking for something more temporary, this might not be for you.
Phase 1: Fat Loss
In the first week of Phase 1, you will follow a very low calorie diet. You will cut your daily caloric intake to 800 calories per day. This is an aggressive cut, so you must make sure to keep your water intake high and increase your salt intake by adding extra salt to food (e.g., salting your vegetables). The purpose of this phase is not to lose weight as much as it is to deplete glycogen stores and deplete fat stores. Glycogen is what keeps us "full" and fat is what makes us feel lethargic and sluggish. Between depleting those two things, you won't be able to help but lose weight.
This phase is not dangerous at all if you are eating clean food and not exercising. The first week of this phase, you will be hungry and grumpy (if you're not used to calorie restriction), but stick with it. You will also notice that any excess water weight will just "disappear" as well.
The second week of Phase 1 involves a refeed day. You get to have one day where you can eat whatever you want, so long as it's healthy food in moderation. This refeed day is key for keeping yourself from feeling like this diet is restrictive, which could lead to binging or quitting altogether. Use this day to your advantage. Eat slowly and savor every bite, making sure that you are eating until you feel full (not overly stuffed). It might take a bit of practice, but eventually you'll learn to enjoy the feeling of being stuffed.
This phase is also critical for keeping your metabolism from slowing down. If your metabolism slows down, then you'll find it more difficult to burn fat in the later rounds of this plan.
Just like the previous phase, in Phase 2 you will once again deplete glycogen and deplete fat stores. You will also continue to eat healthy food and ensure that you are getting in your recommended daily intake of protein.
Phase 2: Build Muscle
Now we're getting into the meat of the plan. This phase, again, isn't about weight loss so much as it is about building muscle and seeing results. You will eat 3 meals and 2 snacks per day with a serving size of between one-to-three ounces (1-3oz feedings are recommended). In addition to this, you will begin working out consistently (1-2 days per week) while still eating clean food.
During this phase, you will still be eating 800 calories per day. You will also be getting one refeed day per week, just like the first two phases. This is because it's important to maintain that metabolism boost throughout the six weeks.
You will also see strength and muscle gains during this phase, which is the goal. If you don't see these results, then you need to assess what you're doing and make sure that your diet is clean (meats, veggies, fruit) and that your training program is effective.
The final week of Phase 2 is called "Transition Week." This means that you will move from an 800 calorie a day to a 1200 calorie a day diet. In addition to eating more food, you will also work out 3 days per week and eat one refeed day.
In Phase 3, you will shift your focus to burning fat. You will continue to eat 1200 calories a day and work out three times per week. In this phase, you'll get one refeed day per week as well. This is a good thing, because it allows you to maintain your metabolism but also helps prevent any hunger pangs while eating 1200 calories per day (which can be tedious).
All in all, this six-week plan will help you lose 10-20 pounds while building muscle.
Phase 3: Fat Loss / Maintenance
This phase is all about maintaining what you have lost. You will continue eating 1200 calories per day, workout three times a week with a weight program that is effective for your goals, and get one refeed day per week.
There are a few options for how to move forward from here. If you followed the previous plan and were able to lose the target amount of weight, then it should be easy to stay lean and not gain back any weight. If you were not able to lose the weight, then you should modify this phase just slightly. Reduce your calories by 200 calories per day, and ensure that you are still eating healthy food and training effectively. Again, the key is to make sure that you stick to this plan for at least six weeks and don't go back to eating junk food.
This phase is all about living a healthy lifestyle -- not losing weight or building muscle. You will continue eating 1200 calories per day at three meals and two snacks per day. If your goal was to tone up and build muscle, then this phase will keep you from gaining back any weight while helping maintain your current level of strength or muscle mass. If your goal was to lose weight, then you will see a loss in fat mass while still maintaining lean muscle.
Phase 4: Fat Loss / Maintenance / Increase Muscle
If you reached your goal weight during the fat loss phase, then this phase is all about getting leaner. You will continue eating 1200 calories per day at three meals and two snacks per day. If your goal was to tone up and build muscle, then this phase will keep you from gaining back any weight while helping maintain your current level of strength or muscle mass. If your goal was to lose weight, then you will see a loss in fat mass while still maintaining lean muscle.
At this point you are ready for Phase 5 .
Phase 5: Transition to Maintenance
In Phase 5 , you are transitioning from a caloric deficit to a maintenance plan. You will still be eating 1200 calories per day (3 meals and 2 snacks) with one refeed day per week. You will also be working out three times a week with an effective weight program.
Phase 6: Maintenance / Transition to Fat Loss / Increase Muscle
If you reached your goal weight during the fat loss phase, then this phase is all about getting leaner. You will continue eating 1200 calories per day at three meals and two snacks per day. You will also be working out three times a week with an effective weight program.
You are now ready for Phase 7 .