Have you ever tried to get s a six-pack and failed?
Do you know someone who has busted their ass on a diet only for results to come to a screeching halt after a few weeks?
I’m going to explain why that happens.
After all, if weight loss was simply a matter of Calories In Vs Calories Out, weight loss should be mathematically exact and predictable. But we all know from experience that it isn’t.
There is one main reason why fat loss slows and stalls despite your best efforts…
…DOING TOO MUCH TOO SOON!
If you are “too keen” to see speedy fat loss, you’ll actually end up sabotaging the whole process.
The first reason for this is a slowing in you Resting Metabolic Rate.
RESTING METABOLIC RATE
Your RMR means the amount of calories you’d burn all day if you just lay on a bed and did nothing.
The “Calories Out” side of the equation is the combination of your RMR plus whatever activity you do.
However, if you cut too many Calories from your diet and/or increase activity too soon, your RMR slows i.e. “Calories Out” decreases to compensate from the decreased “Calories In”. And it can be fairly drastic.
We all know a guy or girl who thought it was a good idea to start eating less than a thousand Calories per day and start cranking up their cardio in a vain attempt at quick weight loss. How long did that work for? A few weeks? But how can someone eating 800 Calories and day and doing some form of cardio 5 days a week NOT lose weight?
We are living, biological systems that want to stay alive. If you make the above blunder, your body will adapt by slowing its RMR and preserving as much of its energy stores as possible. You’ve decreased your food intake and increased your activity drastically and, after some initial weight loss, you lose…nothing! Not a single pound. Aside from feeling miserable due to not eating much, the lack of results can drive some people to despair.
It gets worse. There’s more…
Cortisol is a “stress” hormone. It’s usually seen as a “break down” hormone, in contrast to an anabolic hormone, but it’s not all bad. We need it. For example, rising cortisol levels help wake you up in morning.
But people who engage in the type of weight loss strategy indicated above produce CHRONICALLY high cortisol levels – not good.
Basically, the body becomes very efficient at storing fat. The body is seeing what you’re doing as a threat to its life and survival mechanisms kick in. This partly explains why when people go back to eating normal levels of food again, they don’t just put the weight back on, they put MORE back on. The body is great at protecting itself, eh?
High cortisol levels can also cause water retention, which will make you heavier and skew your readings when you step on the scales.
And then we have leptin resistance. Leptin is another hormone. It signals to the brain that you’re full and to stop eating and start burning energy. But chronically high coritsol levels can cause the brain not to “see” the signal i.e. leptin resistance. The result is that it becomes harder and harder to get into a fat-burning mode and you increasingly stay in a fat storage mode. Again, it’s all about survival.
So now you know why your crash diet (that caused you to feel miserable) didn’t work. It was doomed to failure from the outset.
HOW TO SUCCEED
What you need to do is a “step down” approach as I call it. It’s the secret to fat loss success. Taking too many steps at one time produces the above result.
Ongoing fat loss is produced by taking one step at a time. It starts with a modest caloric deficit and weight training. No cardio is needed to begin with. As time passes, calories can be gradually reduced, some cardio added, scientifically-validated supplements introduced. There’s always somewhere to go with this method. For more details on this approach, read my post on it here.
A graduated step-by-step system equals success. Of course, this is built into my fat loss system known as Total Six Pack Abs, and is only 1 of the mechanisms that has produced jaw-dropping transformations in people all over the world! (see the before and after pics of people who took this approach). The following is from a section of the TSPA page…
Your body actually WANTS to give up its fat stores.
THINK ABOUT IT…the only reason the body stores fat in the first place is to be USED AT A LATER DATE.
The problem is that the vast majority of people eat in a way that sends the WRONG HORMONAL SIGNALS to the fat cells; their bodies stay in fat-storage mode as they try desperately to run further, eat less, take fat-burning pills….uurrrgh! Enough of this!
You get it? Your body WANTS to give it up, you just have to work WITH it.
WHAT TO DO IF YOU’RE CURRENTLY STALLED
If you’re actually in this position, don’t keep going round on the hamster wheel! It’s over. What you’re doing WILL NOT WORK. But there’s hope.
Here’s what you need to do…
Take 2 weeks off from dieting and eat at maintenance calories or above. If you’re a woman, eat at least 2000 Calories per day. This will crank up and RESET your metabolism. It’ll also normalize the hormonal environment inside your body.
Surprisingly, you might even find that you lose weight over these 2 weeks – I’ve seen it happen.
Now, go back and cut again, only this time sensibly with a step-down approach.
Are you not cutting at the moment and just want to pack on muscle like these guys did? Download the free THT workout for free here…
Got questions? Let me help you. Ask below…
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Thanks for this Mark. My wife has been doing this. I knew it was wrong but couldn’t put it as well as this. I’ll pass it on for her to read. Then we can enjoy dinner together for a couple weeks LOL!
lol Enjoy your steak, Piotr!
Thanks for this Mark. I am in this very situation. I have read up on alot of your stuff and others and I have the knowledge of what I should be eating, but somehow I just get lazy and end up consuming far too few calories. I guess my mind set was that I was not eating badly, just not eating sufficiently, so cant be to bad. But I have just realised that my chronic fatigue, sleep deprivation, being sick all the time (weeks now), and short temper is due to this!!
I am going to have to step it up and get more disciplined about my eating habits!! Summer is around the corner for me, need to get my ass into gear!
@Shaun. It’s not just having a negative impact on you, but to others around you due to the irritability. Onwards and upwards from here on in!
WOW! Thanks for this article. Your articles always seem to come out exactly when I’m looking for answers. This is exactly what was stalling out my weight loss was an extremely stressful situation. Its nice to read the science behind it. I was doing everything right but going nowhere. It absolutely makes sense stress would slow the process. I also noticed once that situation had ended, weight loss came back.
Thanks again Mark.
i have been a fan of your work!
i am about to start tspa
and i was making the diet plan
i want to ask can i use pasturized or boiled milk??
does it lose its calories of boiling??
and do we count both soluble and insoluble fibre for calories?
and mark if you ever get time,could you do an aticle about sample menu for a octo-ovo vegetarian for tspa because as i have seen many people here too with tspa failed to hit their macros.
your work is highle appriciated!
@Tony. Great! Glad to see you moving in the right direction.
@abishek. I think you’re talking about UHT milk as we call it.Yes it’s ok. I keep a few cartons on stand by myself for when I run out of fresh milk. It doesn’t lose any calories.
You don’t count any calories from any type of fiber.
I don’t have expertise in vegetarianism unfortunately. Maybe someone reading this who has done TSPA and is a vegetarian could help out?
@abhishek. I did TSPA on a vegetarian diet over the summer. Diet was primarily eggs, various types of cheese, tofu, nuts, ‘soy chunks’, soy flour, soy etc., and lots of protein powder. Just use these ingredients to form the protein and fat portion of your macros (use lots of spices to make it enjoyable to eat), with rice, crackers, etc. making up the extra carbs (the soy flour and nuts might cover the carbs by themselves too!). Fat flush days are horrid though… basically just protein powder on the menu for that.
Mark – I have been living a hybrid carb cycling/IF existence for about 6 months now (moderate exercise – but no cardio and no weightlifting). I have done okay with this type of eating…. I will eat approx 2000 calories a day high protein/high fat and low carbs. Then I will switch to high carbs, high fat and moderate protein on the weekends. However every single day I skip breakfast and lunch and usually eat in an 8 hour window in the evenings…. Like I said, I did well for a while and now my body composition and weight essentially is the same week in and week out.
Initially I did this in preparation for tspa, but I never quite got around to the tspa part (which is about to change)…
Can I have your thoughts on IF before I start tspa please? Thanks.
Male 39 years BF ~ 16% no supplements.
by the way
you are the best 😉
keep up the good work bud
I m sure this will help
I will give it a go
@Yash. Thanks for sharing 😀
@Nick. My thoughts on IF are not whether it works or not, because I’m sure it does to a degree, but is it necessary? Would it produce better results than a normal cut? I don’t think so, so at the moment I see it as making life hard unnecessarily. But diet doesn’t seem to be the issue with you, I would strongly advise you to start lifting and abandon whatever other form of exercise you are doing. You’ll build muscle, the protein you eat will go towards building muscle, some carbs will go to replacing lost glycogen out of the muscle. It’s just a much better way for you to reach your goals. So the TSPA diet in combo with the workout will produce the best results for you. Just make sure you are measuring results to include BF% as the scale weight may not change by a whole lot since you’ll be adding lean muscle.
And if you’ve been under-eating for a while, it would be best to do the 2 weeks at maintenance I mentioned in the article to reset your metabolism first.
And once you’ve made permanent positive lifestyle and eating changes, get JnR and work that into your life.
After 8 weeks of insufficient food, no training and 4 weeks of fasting inclusive, I’m on week 2 of jnr and have gained back 4 out of the 8 kilos of lean mass that I’d lost.
Still sporting a six pack, regaining strength rapidly, and enjoying the process. I couldn’t be happier. Thanks and God bless 🙂
@Muhammad. Thanks for sharing. So happy for you 😀
hi Mark, very helpful article.
i always wonder about a very interesting subject related to fat loss which is the skin condition after fat loss, it’s obvious that when people get fat and creates or expand their fat cells their skins get stretched to contain and surround the new volume, my question is what’s happening to that skin after a weight loss, and especially a fast one ( i think that’s why fat loss should be a “take the appropriate time” process like you mention in this post), is it really shrinks to suit the new size after weight loss, or the loose skin should be reformed by gaining muscles with resistance training to replace fat volume, and how much time it takes? all i know is that is possible cause we’ve seen it over and over again in transformations stories. i would like to know your thoughts about this. thanks.
@Younes. Within reason, the skin can shrink back no problem. If there was moderate amount of fat loss (dozens of pounds), it will shrink back but often leave stretch marks. And if there was a lot of weight lost (over 100), then it oftentimes doesn’t shrink back well and there is loose skin. As far as I know the only thing that can be done about this is surgery to get it removed.
Hope that helps.