How to Lose Body Fat Fast | The Definitive Guide (2021)

Written by Tihomir Stefanov | 02 November 2019

This is the definitive guide on how to lose fat fast.

In this guide, you’re going to learn research-backed (easy to read) tips and insights which include:

  • What the biggest weight loss factor is
  • How to lose weight quickly (yet sustainably for the long term)
  • Takeaway weight loss tips you can use every day
  • Plus a lot more

Losing weight will make you look and feel better. So if this is what you want, you should get a lot of value from today’s guide.

Let’s get started, shall we?

hero image of how to lose body fat fast

Contents:

  1. How does the body lose fat?
  2. What’s the next step once you’ve worked out your TDEE?
  3. How do you burn fat healthily?
  4. What is the healthy rate of weight loss?
  5. Protein, fats, and carbs – creating a caloric deficit
  6. Do you need cardio for fat loss?
  7. HIIT vs. Normal cardio
  8. Does the body fat percentage matter?
  9. The ketogenic diet for weight loss
  10. Eating meals frequently

    11. 9 actionable weight loss tips:

  • I. Avoid sugar and sweetened drinks
  • II. Reduce your stress levels
  • III. Drink green tea
  • IV. Drink coffee
  • V. Take supplements
  • VI. Eat soluble fibre
  • VII. Incorporate weekly resistance training
  • VIII. Consume apple cider vinegar
  • IX. Intermittent fasting
  • X. Slow down when you are eating your food

Key Takeaways

An apple with 'summary' text indicating the conclusion of healthy principles lose belly fat fast article

1. Maintain a lower total daily energy intake

If you want to let the body tap into the fat reserves, you can’t go about it without a caloric deficit.

Consuming less food than your body requires to maintain its weight, is the first and most important step when creating a weight loss plan.

It’s simple thermodynamics.

Then again, the caloric deficit must be moderate and not aggressive, as the body tends to lose both fat tissue and lean body mass, during a period of eating at a caloric deficit.

The optimal caloric deficit forms at about 500 calories per day, or, 1-2 lbs of weight loss per week.

If the individual is excessively fat or obese, the rate of weight loss can go up to 4-5 lbs weekly.

However, the rate goes back down to 1-2 lbs as the person gets back into a normal body composition.

2. Have a higher protein and fat intake

These are the two essential macronutrients for the body.

The caloric deficit must never be created at the expense of proteins.

Proteins will ensure optimal recovery and help you retain lean body mass.

Total daily calorie & protein intake are the primary determinants for body composition.

Optimal protein intake falls in the broad range of 1.8-2.6g per kilogram of body weight, when the goal is muscle retention.

Note that the more trained you are and the more muscle you have, the more protein you will require.

On the other hand, you have fat intake.

Severe depletion of fatty acids will lead to many dysfunctions and a drop in hormonal levels.

This is exactly why sufficient daily fat intake must be present in a weight loss diet.

Optimal fat intake forms at about ~1 gram per kilogram of body weight.

3. Lower carb-intake

Though carbohydrates are on number 3 of this list, they are very important and must not be excluded completely.

Carbs are non-essential and their lack doesn’t really lead to any severe health issues, which is exactly why you should create the deficit mainly at the cost of carbs.

Overall, you need a balanced calorie intake and carbohydrates should still be present in your day to day nutrition because they’re the easiest and most efficient source of fuel for your workouts.

Low carb intake has been shown to hinder sports performance, which is exactly why, after having calculated protein & fat intake, you should give the rest of the calories to carbs.

Ultimately, a sufficient carb intake will allow you to perform better in the gym and hence, maintain more lean body mass.

4. Create a suitable meal pattern & sustainable diet plan

So, how many meals should you consume your food in? 2? 8? Every 2 hours?

Should you do intermittent fasting?

Well, truth is that lean body mass can be retained in a wide variety of meals – As low as 2 per day and as high as 6.

As to the diet type, go with what you prefer and what you can ADHERE to.

This is the BIGGEST problem with diets are that other people can’t adhere and stick to them!

If you really like intermittent fasting and can sustain it without causing stress, then go with it!

Ultimately, the goal for you should be creating a SUSTAINABLE PLAN which is one that you can stick to.

5. Consider supplements

There is no solid evidence to prove that a certain supplement will account for a better rate of fat loss in the long term.

No product can compensate for the lack of a sustainable diet plan, which is exactly why you should pay more attention to the above-mentioned points, rather than the newest fat-burners.

Now, of course, some supplements can help you at times when you need a good amount of protein but don’t have time to cook, however, your main focus should be on your diet & training.

An important final tip: resistance training is one of the best ways to maintain lean body mass whilst also losing weight.

Introduction

When it comes to losing that excess body fat fast, many people undertake extreme approaches to dieting and exercising with expectations for quick results.

The undesired excess fat does not just look bad for most people, but in the long run it can lead to issues, such as heart disease.

Now, before you learn how everything works, you need to remember this valuable insight:

The body is a complex biological machine, which does NOT like drastic changes.

In other words, if you go crazy on your diet and lose, say, 10 kilograms in a month, the body will adapt in a way that will eventually lead to 100% or more weight regain in TWICE AS LESS time.

You can’t outsmart your body and you can’t sustain an aggressive diet for a long time.

Well, maybe you can, but that will be at the cost of mental and physical performance.

For this article, you’ll get the EXACT approach to sustainable, quick weight loss, which is based on proven principles.

First and foremost, let’s see what fat is, why the body accumulates it and how it can be lost.

How does the body lose body fat?

The body is a complex biological machine, in which, you have a flurry of physiological processes occurring all the time.

Every living organism on planet Earth requires a certain amount of energy to sustain those processes and weight in space.

For humans, that energy is derived from food and is measured in calories.

That is to say that your body requires a certain amount of food DAILY to maintain weight and proper functioning, as well as fuel for physical and mental activities.

This daily amount of energy (number of calories) is known as the “Total daily energy expenditure (TDEE)” and depends on a variety of factors:

  • Basal metabolic rate (BMR, the number of calories required to maintain weight and functions AT REST)
  • Gender
  • Age
  • Height
  • Weight
  • Non-exercise activity (NEAT)
  • Exercise output
  • Thermic effect of food (The amount of energy your body burns during digestion)

Now, for each of these variables, there is a mathematical formula.

However, instead of working out the math for yourself, you will be able to use this trusted calculator which has all the formulas integrated.

If you’re following the logic so far, you’d know that each and every one of you has your own individual body needs, which is why there is no unified diet plan for fat loss.

However, calculating your TDEE is the first and most important step toward your goal of weight loss.

What’s the next step once you’ve worked out your TDEE?

total daily energy expenditure for losing fat

After you know how much energy you need to MAINTAIN your body weight daily, there’s just some simple math that you have to do.

If you consume LESS than your TDEE (Being in a calorie deficit), you will allow your body to tap into its fat storage, which the body burns during a deficit.

And on the other hand, if you consume MORE than your TDEE (extra calories), that will lead to weight gain.

Why? Because the body won’t allow unused energy to go to waste and will make sure to store it for later.

As human beings, that storage is the ugly fat you may have had at one point or another.

Calories in vs calories out

Calories in vs calories out is the MAIN factor for weight loss.

People get fat and/or obese because they consistently consume a greater amount of food than their bodies require to maintain weight and proper functioning.

“What about hormones? I don’t care about calories, I have hormonal issues!”

Well… Guess what regulates the endocrine (hormonal) system…?

That’s right, your eating and exercising habits!

Not only that but exercising will also help you burn calories which is part of the big picture.

How to burn fat healthily

Okay, you now know that the primary determinant for the changes in your weight is your energy input & output.

Again, an input greater than the output will lead to gain and an output greater than input will lead to fat loss.

Following this logic, you could say that the more you restrict the body of food, the better it is for weight loss, right?

Well, not really.

You need to acknowledge the fact that when losing fat, you’re in a form of “controlled starvation”.

With this controlled starvation, many changes, such as a slowdown of the metabolic rate occur.

When you’re in a caloric deficit, required to burn body fat, you’ll not only lose fat tissue, but also lean body mass (LBM) and furthermore, the metabolism slows down to preserve energy.

Note that lean body mass is not just muscle mass, but rather every other tissue in the body except for fat.

That is to say, you need to give the body enough energy for sustained healthy functioning, LBM retention, as well as physical and mental activities.

If you go aggressive on a diet, you will lose lean body mass and eventually reach a physical and mental burnout, due to the enormous deficit of energy.

Not only that, but when you get back to eating more food sooner or later, you will gain all the fat (if not more) back in less time than it took you to lose it.

What is the healthy rate of weight loss?

The optimal rate of weight loss depends on your starting point.

Generally for non-obese individuals, the optimal rate of weight loss, that will optimize LBM retention and healthy functioning, forms at 0.5-1 kg per WEEK.

Such a rate of weight loss can be achieved at a caloric deficit of about ~500 calories DAILY.

Individuals who have substantially more body fat and/or are obese can lose up to 2-3 kg weekly in the initial phase.

However, for those people, decreasing the deficit is required, as they get back to a normal body composition.

Protein, fats, and carbs – creating a caloric deficit

image of four different foods high in protein and fat. These include almonds, avocado, salmon, and an egg

All weight loss requires is a sustainable caloric deficit, which will allow the body to tap into its energy reserves and sustain healthy functioning of daily activities.

Now, though this is the first and most important thing, there is another determinant when it comes to body composition & hormonal balance.

That is namely your protein & fat intake.

Let’s take a closer look.

Protein

The word “Protein” itself is derived from the Greek “Protos”, meaning “Primary/first”.

Your entire body is made up of different proteins, which is exactly why your protein intake is one of the primary determinants for successful lean body mass retention.

Not only that, but protein is also involved in a vast variety of physiological processes.

This is why you MUST grant a relatively high-protein diet to the body, given that you want to lose fat and retain lean body mass.

Optimal protein intake for muscle retention in low-calorie conditions forms at the broad range of 1.5-2.5 grams per kilogram of body weight, per DAY.

Note that the more trained you are and the more lean muscle mass you have, the more protein you will require to maintain it.

That is to say, if you’re just starting on your training and don’t have much muscle whatsoever, 1.5 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight daily will do the job.

If however, you’ve been doing resistance training for some time and now have more muscle, you’d have to be on the upper range of that spectre, to maintain your muscle.

Fats

Protein & fats are the two ESSENTIAL macronutrients for the body.

In other words, if you severely deplete your body of those two, you will not only experience loss of muscle mass & energy, but also hormonal disbalances.

A low-fat diet is not recommended, as it will lead to disbalances of many types. Some studies have shown hormonal changes in individuals who were severely depleted of fat

Ultimately, fat should make up about 20% of your daily energy intake and you should make foods like red meats, avocados & olive oil, your preferred source of dietary fat.

The optimal fat intake for maintaining hormonal processes forms at about ~1 gram per kilogram of body weight and should be derived from sources of healthy fats.

Carbohydrates

So far, you’ll now know that the three most important things for sustainable weight loss, are the following:

  • Calories in vs. Calories out (Moderate deficit)
  • Protein intake (Sufficient daily protein to sustain LBM retention)
  • Fat intake (Sufficient daily fat to sustain hormonal balance)

But what about carbohydrates?

Well, unlike protein and fats, carbohydrates are non-essential, as the body can produce glucose (the end product of carb metabolism) on its own, in a process known as ‘Gluconeogenesis (GNG)’.

What this means is that when you are creating a caloric deficit, you MUST create it mainly at the cost of carbohydrates.

Cutting carbohydrates may contribute most to the fat-burning processes, required for you to lose that unwanted belly fat and retain muscle mass.

However, it must be noted here that although carbs are non-essential, they must not be completely excluded.

As a matter of fact, they’re a VERY important aspect of your nutrition plan, as their end product (Glucose & glycogen) will be the MAIN fuel for your workouts.

A study has shown that carbohydrates are still very important for high-intensity exercise and their severe depletion will lead to suboptimal workout performance.

Suboptimal performance, in turn, means less lean muscle retention, and that’s not what you want.

So, you see, it’s about creating that fine balance, without going to extremes.

The best sources of carbohydrates are whole grains, as they do not spike blood sugar levels quickly, like plain sugar does.

Do you need cardio for fat loss?

two female friends running on a sunny day, trying to lose some weight

A commonly asked question is: how necessary is cardio for weight loss?

Well, contrary to popular belief, cardio is NOT necessary for weight loss.

As mentioned above, in order for you to allow the body to tap into the energy reserve, which fat is, all you need to do is create a caloric deficit.

This can be done through either decreasing food, or increasing activity (Move more), or both.

What we’re trying to say here is that at equated caloric deficits, there will be virtually no difference between someone who’s creating the deficit with cardio and eating more food, and someone who’s eating less but not doing cardio.

Cardio is no magic, however, it is a good tool to use, if you’re trying to create a caloric deficit.

Now, as mentioned, when dieting down, you also need to preserve lean body mass.

This is where one specific type of cardio can become a powerful ally for that goal – That is, HIIT, otherwise known as “High-intensity interval training”.

High-intensity exercise at a higher heart rate will more likely retain your lean body mass.

Let’s have a look.

HIIT vs. Normal cardio

High-intensity interval training essentially implies doing normal cardio, with bouts of high-intensity intervals.

For example, when running at a moderate pace, every 40 seconds try a 20-second sprint, then return to the same moderate pace.

This type of intense, short-burst movement is good for a couple of reasons:

  1. It activates the fast-twitch fibres
  2. HIIT increases the rate of fat oxidation
  3. It gives an “After-burn” effect – The body burns more calories for hours after the workout

What this means is that HIIT and sprints, in general, are a more intense activity, which makes the body release more anabolic hormones, as opposed to normal cardio.

As you should know, anabolic hormones are constructive hormones, meaning that you’ll simply maintain more muscle mass.

Now, though the rate of fat oxidation is increased and you burn more calories for hours after the workout, you still need to make an important note here.

That is namely the fact that at EQUATED caloric deficits, a faster rate of fat oxidation simply won’t mean more fat burnt.

Though that is the case, rest assured that HIIT will make you feel way better and lively.

lady running during sunset

Does the body fat percentage matter?

It seems like numbers have become an obsession for many trainees – bicep & waist circumferences, weight on the bench, and in your case with fat loss: numbers on the scale & body fat percentage.

Though your body weight and body fat percentage may be a reference point to check on your progress, they are not everything.

A person can look very different at a given weight, simply because body composition changes over time.

You must acknowledge that your ultimate goal should be looking better visually and performing better physically.

That is all that should matter to you unless you’re an athlete competing in a certain weight category.

If you obsess over numbers, odds are that at one point or another, the scale will stress you out as the weight fluctuates.

And stress is the last thing you need on a diet because stress hormones like cortisol literally SHUT DOWN your immune system & growth.

Again – Track how your body changes visually and don’t give much attention and energy to the body fat percentage & scale.

However, you should definitely use the scale to monitor the rate of weight loss and adjust the diet as needed.

For example, the scale can tell you if you’re losing too much or too little and whether you should increase or decrease food.

The ketogenic diet for weight loss

Ketogenic diet health benefits infographic

Credit: My Keto Kitchen

The ketogenic diet is very high in fat, moderate in protein, and very low in carbohydrates.

It is proven weight loss diet because as you increase the consumption of fat and decrease the consumption of carbs you will be put in a metabolic state [1, 2].

This metabolic state means your body is better equipped to turn fats into ketones which are molecules that supply energy to your brain.

As your body becomes better at increasing the number of ketones (known as ketosis), you become better at burning fat for fuel [3, 4].

This is why the ketogenic diet is an effective weight loss tip.

From my personal experience, I feel fantastic using the ketogenic diet because I feel so full from the high-fat, high-protein foods which I eat.

I enjoy one massive meal in the morning and another at lunch.

When lunchtime comes around, I feel like I don’t need any food.

Sure, I miss out on delicious pastries and cakes, but my body doesn’t crave this type of food any more due to healthy bacteria in my gut (explained in this brilliant video below):

How Bacteria Rule Over Your Body – The Microbiome

But…

A ketogenic diet is a diet often portrayed as “the only way or the high way”.

This is not the case.

In fact, many studies have found eating frequent, well-balanced meals throughout the day is another brilliant way to stay full and prevent overeating…

I introduce to you:

Eating meals frequently

Not all diets are created equal, one person can respond differently to another due to past eating habits and biological differences.

What we know is that increasing your meal frequency may improve blood markers (such as LDL cholesterol and insulin), improve lipid oxidation, decrease nitrogen loss, and decrease hunger [5].

Increasing your meal frequency is a very well-known weight loss technique which has proven to be sustainable for various athletes and individuals.

While discipline is the most important factor on this or any diet, an increased meal frequency can be used to successfully help you lose weight.

This diet has also worked for me in the past.

Over three years ago I would spread my meals out across the day.

For example, every day I would eat:

  • A very small bowl of porridge every morning before my workout
  • Have a 400 kcal protein smoothy right after
  • Enjoy a normal-sized lunch (usually 3 eggs, salad, and toast)
  • Have a large handful of walnuts and raisins
  • Enjoy a nice normal sized dinner (steak with greens and sweet potato)

I was also allowed a delicious high-fat, high-sugar cheat meal once every two weeks.

However, this diet was horrible in the beginning because I was wanted to eat more. But I stayed disciplined and bought less food until…

It became a habit.

Then, it became the norm and I went from 12st 5lbs to 11st 1lb in three months.

This diet can work, but you’ve got to stay disciplined.

Let’s find out how you can stay disciplined with these take-away weight loss tips:

7 actionable weight loss tips

1. Avoid sugar and sugar-sweetened drinks

These are the worst things you can put in your body as a high-sugar diet (which you probably already know) can lead to weight gain [6, 7].

Now, excessive consumption of sugar not only leads to weight problems -- but health problems [8, 9].

You’d think it is logical that sugar would fill you up because it is high in calories.

But the brain doesn’t process sugar like normal food [10].

What does this mean for you?

It means that when you consume sugar or sugary drinks, you will feel less full in comparison to eating normal non-sugary foods.

Which is why it is best to avoid sugar (completely if possible) from your diet.

2. Reduce your stress levels

We know that bad stress isn’t a good feeling both mentally and physically.

Science shows that excessive stress can increase muscle tension, headaches, depression, and anxiety [11, 12].

But studies also show that stress can lead to weight gain [13, 14].

This is because we have a hormone known as cortisol which gets released by the adrenal glands with increased stress.

Cortisol is an appetite stimulant which is why you can reach for more comfort food when you’re not actually hungry at all [15].

How do you reduce the amount of stress?

This can be hard for some of you.

But some of the best ways you can detach from your worries is through:

  • Meditation: I recommend headspace by Andy Puddingcombe – see his TED talk here
  • Yoga: Yoga is a form of meditation due to its relaxing breathing techniques and muscle flexibility
  • Exercise: A proven stress reliever which can be really fun both when performed in a group or on your own
  • Reading: Reading increases your brain’s ability to learn new things and researchers at The Mind Lab found that six minutes of daily reading can reduce your stress by as much as 68%
  • Plus lots more you can find here

3. Drink green tea

Green tea is has a number of healthy antioxidants which can help you burn fat and lose weight (although the research shows it doesn’t make a massive impact) [16].

What makes green tea a helpful drink for weight loss?

One of the biggest reasons is its caffeine content.

One tea bag accounts for 24–40 mg (coffee is 100-200mg in comparison) of caffeine.

Both its caffeine content and an antioxidant known as epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG), help increase your metabolism and thus improve your bodies ability to burn fat.

4. Drink Coffee

Coffee is a drink that contributes to your ability to lose weight.

This is because coffee contains caffeine and an antioxidant known as polyphenols which decrease your appetite and increase your metabolism and this will help you lose weight [17].

5. Take supplements

Supplements are another effective weight loss tip you can incorporate into your weight-loss strategy.

This is because they can reduce your appetite, reduce your absorption, and increase your metabolism [18].

Particularly useful supplements for weight loss include:

Gluconnama: A plant-based fibre which absorbs water, increases your feeling of fullness and helps you eat fewer calories
Omega-3’s: Some studies show omega 3’s reduce hunger and appetite although it can vary based on your health status and diet [19]
Probiotics: Probiotics help fight obesity by reducing GLP-1 (appetite-reducing hormone) and increasing ANGPTL4 which decreases the number of stored fats [20]

6. Eat soluble fibre

Studies show that eating soluble fibre can help you lose weight [21].

When soluble fibre enters your digestive system, it mixes with water to transform into a gel-like substance which decreases the time in which food is released into the gut.

This helps you prevent weight gain because it presents more healthy gut bacteria which can help you lose weight.

In fact, a study has shown that a 10-gram increase of soluble fibre decreases the risk of weight gain by 3.7% [22].

You can increase your soluble fibre intake by eating dark, leafy green vegetables and fruit. Although…

Fruit is also high in sugar so limiting your intake would be best if you want to lose body fat.

Furthermore, beans and legumes are very high in fibre as well as protein, which helps you feel fuller for longer.

7. Incorporate weekly resistance training

Any form of exercise is very helpful when losing weight because it increases your energy expenditure (calories out) which means you can eat more and thus sustain a weight loss plan for longer.

Now, while exercise itself is very important, resistance training (strength training) is another proven weight loss technique [23].

This is because strength training both burns fat and increases muscle.

What happens when you have greater muscle mass?

That’s right, your Total Daily Energy Expenditure (TDEE) increases. Or, in other words: you burn more calories during the day by doing nothing at all.

To build muscle effectively, try incorporating weekly resistance training at least 2-3 times per week.

8. Consume apple cider vinegar

Apple cider vinegar contains acetic acid which may promote weight loss in several ways.

For example, apple cider vinegar:

  • Reduces fat storage [24]
  • Decreases insulin levels [25]
  • Suppresses appetite [26]
  • Lowers blood sugar [27]
  • Improves metabolism [28]

Furthermore, Apple cider vinegar increases satiation due to delayed stomach emptying which may lead to lower calorie consumption and lower insulin levels [29].

Including it into your diet may improve insulin, blood sugar, cholesterol, and Polycystic ovary syndrome [30, 31, 32, 33].

9. Intermittent fasting

Intermittent fasting is another helpful weight loss tip [34, 35].

This is because fasting:

  • Reduces insulin levels
  • Lowers blood sugars
  • Lowers blood pressure
  • Changes gene expression
  • Increases human growth hormone
  • Enables your body to digest old or damaged cells
  • Sends norepinephrine to fat cells which then break down body fat for energy

Primitive humans would go days between eating because it was hard to get.

It is quite natural and healthy for humans to go for long periods without eating.

Today, there are a few options you can try:

Option A – The 16/8 Method: This involves skipping your breakfast and eat one-two meals between 12 noon to 8 pm.

Option B – Eat-Stop-Eat: Fast for 24 hours once each week. For example by not eating from lunch one day until lunch the next day.

10. Slow down when you eat your food

Slowing down when you eat food is a very helpful tip which researchers have found to be effective [36, 37].

I always focus on chewing my food at least ten times when eating because not only does this slow me down, but it also reminds me of what I’m eating and how delicious it is.

When I am halfway through my meal, I am already quite full and this really helps me from reaching for seconds.

Let us know in the comments if you’ve experienced a similar thing!

Conclusion

Losing body fat fast can be very difficult, which is why creating a sustainable eating and training plan is the first pillar to a successful loss of fat.

Excessively quick fat loss is not recommended, as the body doesn’t like drastic changes and will adapt in a way that will allow it to quickly regain the suddenly lost weight afterwards.

This is exactly why you should rather change your eating and training habits, instead of looking for a quick and easy way out.

Ultimately, training and nutrition are a form of art (though a functional one), which is exactly why you should consider becoming the master artist of your body & your kitchen if you haven’t done so already.

Now we turn it over to you:

What strategies are you going to try to help you lose body fat fast?

Could it be including more high-intensity interval training?

Or perhaps – increasing the level of protein and fats whilst decreasing your amount of carbs?

Let us know by leaving a comment below right now!

Tihomir Stefanov

Tihomir Stefanov (Tisho) is a qualified personal trainer and content writer with a dedication to helping fitness enthusiasts around the world. In his spare time, he enjoys rock climbing, photography, and working out at the gym.