The Rules of Fat Loss

couple running-rules of fat loss

couple running-rules of fat loss

The Rules of Fat Loss

I think you would agree with us when we say that almost everywhere you look on the internet, especially on social media, there are all kinds of nonsense from “experts” claiming they know the best way to lose fat. In reality, these “fitness influencers” have never actually had to lose a good amount of fat themselves or have any professional training in the fitness field. We’ve seen things like fasted cardio to eating six times a day, from avoiding carbs to juice cleanses…it’s all just a lot of misinformation.

Here at Attack on Fat Loss, we base most of our posts on reliable data. Samples were collected from various sources and not just by a naturally fit person on Instagram. Through research and application, here is what we found most important when it comes to the best way to lose fat and improve body composition.

Don’t know where to start? Check out our articles on how to lose weight and macros for beginners.

Non-Negotiable Rules of Fat Loss

A Calorie Deficit

We will keep this simple: If you aren’t on a calorie deficit, you will not lose weight. Period.

Highly Advisable Rules of Fat Loss

Tracking Food

  • A study by Willbond SM et al. put 16 people (8 men and eight women) through a 28 and 44-minute walking workout (1).
    • The subjects were not allowed to know for how long they walked or how many calories they burned.
    • The 28-minute group burned 200 calories, while the 44-minute group burned 300 calories.
    • At the end of their workout, they were asked how many calories they thought they burned by exercising.
    • Then they were told to eat as many calories as they believed they had burned during the exercise.
  • The Results:
    • The 200-calorie group thought they had burned an average of 825 calories, with some people estimating burning as much as 4,000 calories.
    • The 300-calorie group believed to have burned an average of 865 calories, with some people estimating burning as much as 3,000 calories.
    • What does this have to do with tracking food?
    • When participants were told to eat as much food as their estimate of calories burned, the 200-calorie group consumed an average of 556 calories. In comparison, the 300-calorie group ate an average of 607 calories.
  • What does this mean?
    • These results mean that not only are we bad at estimating how many calories we burn through exercise, but we are also awful at estimating how many calories we eat.

Make your plan as easy to stick to as possible.

  • You have to be able to sustain whatever you are doing to lose weight. There’s no point in going to the gym at five in the morning if you hate waking up early. There’s no point in eating salads twice a day if you hate eating salads. Make it easy to stick to. As long as you are on a calorie deficit, you will lose weight.

Consuming an adequate amount of protein

  • These are some of the benefits of a high protein diet:
    • It builds muscle.
    • Consuming protein can reduce calorie intake and improve satiety.
    • People who have lost weight and kept it off have higher protein intakes.
    • Your body uses more energy to digest protein (~30%) than carbs (5-10%) and fat (0-3%).

Lift Weights

  • Why resistance training?
    • You will gain lean body mass.
      • Resistance training boosts your metabolism, which helps you burn more calories, which means…
    • You will lose more fat.
    • Resistance training will improve your mood.
    • Improves your cardiovascular health.
    • It improves your athletic performance.
    • Resistance training helps you reduce the risks of injury and arthritis.
    • It helps prevent and or manage type 2 diabetes.

Keeping an active lifestyle

  • You go to the gym. Great! But what about the rest of the day? I’ll be the first to admit that I was guilty of this. I would go to the gym for almost 2 hours, five times a week, yet I still was not seeing any substantial results. I finally realized that despite working hard at the gym, I would go home, sit down, and watch TV. To the point where I wouldn’t even get to 3,000 steps on my fitness tracker. No Bueno.

Prioritizing nutritious foods

  • Prioritize lean meats, fruits, vegetables, and foods high in fiber. Do you want to eat a Lunchable? That’s fine. Just make sure that most of what you eat comes from whole, satiating, and minimally processed foods.

Sleep between 7-9 hours

  • We have annoyed you with the importance of a good night’s sleep. It’s effortless: if you do not sleep enough, you will not make your weight loss journey easier. For example, a study in 2010 by Nedeltcheva et al. divided two groups of people. One group would sleep for 5.5 hours while the other would sleep 8.5 hours. The researchers found that the group who slept for only 5.5 hours lost less fat, more fat-free mass, and had a slower metabolism than those who slept for 8.5 hours (2).

Shit, most people Don’t Need to Worry About

What diet is the best

  • The best diet is the one you can adhere to. There’s no magic diet. If you are on a keto or paleo or whatever diet, but you aren’t on a calorie deficit, you will not lose weight. Peek at some of the pros and cons of the most popular diets.

How many meals you should eat

  • How many meals you eat is entirely irrelevant. Eating 5, 6, or 7 times a day has no metabolic advantage over eating  2, 3, or 4 times a day when calories are the same. (3)

Your carb-to-fat ratio

  • A recent meta-analysis compared the effects between a high-carb diet and a low-carb diet in which the participants ate the same amount of calories. Researchers determined that as long as your calories and protein are equal, you will lose the same amount of fat regardless of eating low carb-high fat or low fat-high carb.

Calorie cycling

  • Calorie cycling is a strategy in which you alternate high-calorie days with low-calorie days.
  • You can calorie cycle all you want, but you won’t lose any weight if you don’t end up in a weekly calorie deficit.

Whether to do fasted cardio or not

  • Performing fasted cardio has no metabolic advantage over fed cardio when calories are equal.
  • In a 2019 study by Edinburgh et al., two groups exercised in either fasted state or fed state. Researchers found that both groups had the same TDEE or total daily energy expenditure.
    • However, the fasting group consumed fewer calories than the fed group.
    • Use fasting as a calorie restriction tool (if you don’t like to eat breakfast) as there’s no evidence that it boosts your metabolism.

At what time of the day you should eat

  • You should eat when you are hungry or most convenient for you.

What to eat and when to eat after your workout

  • “Twenty grams of protein within 10-minutes of finishing your workout!” “No, forty grams and gummy bears within the minute after working out!” “Bro, you’re gonna lose all your gains if you don’t get some protein right away.”
  • So, use this as a guide: There is approximately a 4-6 hour window around training, including pre-and post-workout meals. If you eat a pre-workout meal within 1-2 hours of your workout, and this meal has protein, you are good to go for a few hours. Because you already have amino acids (proteins are made of amino acids) in your system from your pre-workout meal (4).
  • What should you eat? If you haven’t eaten in a while, a whey protein shake is good. However, if you had a good pre-workout meal, you could eat a regular meal.

At what time you should workout

  • You should work out when it’s most convenient for you. Whether that’s in the morning, afternoon, or evening. (5)

Shit, you should avoid like the plague.

Unnecessary food avoidance

  • Avoiding certain foods is where most people get in trouble. Yes, you can eat 1 or 2 Oreos if your calorie and macronutrient goals allow for it. There’s no reason why you should deprive yourself of certain foods just because they are deemed as “bad.” I got news for you there’s no such thing as “clean” or “unclean” foods, and that’s what a lot of people don’t seem to understand. You can gain weight by overeating healthy foods, just as you can lose weight by enjoying a cookie or two a day.
  • Multiple studies have shown that people who are more flexible with their food choices are more likely to keep their weight off in the long term than those who follow a stricter diet. (6)

Cheat meals

  •  We have all been there. We have been so good all week and therefore deserve a treat. The problem is that the “treat” is in the form of 25 wings, brownies, and ice cream (Don’t judge me). And then we wonder why we don’t lose any weight.
    • Let’s use this example: If we were supposed to eat 11,200 calories a week (1,600 calories a day). Our maintenance is 14,000 calories per week (2,000 per day). We have hit our calorie goals all week, and we decide to treat ourselves with a “cheat meal.” We end up eating and drinking 4,500 calories. That means that our weekly total is 14,100 calories. We went from a weekly calorie deficit to a surplus. So much work for nothing.

Juice cleanses

  • The reasoning behind juice cleanses is to “detox” your body from all the “bad foods” you eat. But, as you might know, there’s no scientific evidence that juice cleanses do anything besides make you miserable waste your time, money, and sanity.

Weight loss teas

  • Nothing has infuriated me so much as weight loss teas. A scam if I have ever seen one. There’s ZERO evidence these things promote weight loss, ZERO! Furthermore, most of them are made with Senna leaves, which are a laxative. So, if you want to shit your brains out, then by all means.

Self-proclaimed quick fixes

We have seen many “experts” advertise their products as a way to prey on the weak and the desperate. They say things like “lose 15 pounds in just 21 days” to have you cut all carbs from your diet and make you perform hours of cardio.

That isn’t very sustainable. You will lose weight. A diet that is so restrictive and an insane amount of cardio will allow you to lose weight. But, what they don’t tell you is what happens once you go back to your old eating and exercise habits. In the words of our dear leader, Scar from the Lion King, “Be prepared!!”

False promises

  • Stay away from “experts” who claim a specific diet is better or that somehow they can make you lose 20 pounds in 3 weeks. Weight loss doesn’t work like that. Look at it this way. It didn’t take three weeks to become 30, 40, 50 pounds overweight. It sure won’t take three weeks to lose all that weight. And, I know that this sounds like I’m exaggerating. But I have seen it. Go on, Pinterest. You’ll find all kinds of crazy shit in there.


Being in a calorie deficit. I don’t want to hear that you aren’t losing weight on a caloric deficit when you don’t know how many calories you eat. Therefore you should track how many calories you consume. Lift weights and eat enough protein as both of these things build muscle and keep your metabolic rate up. Get enough sleep, as lack of sleep can derail all the hard work you put in. Stay active. Something as easy as marching in place while watching TV can help you burn a bunch of calories. And, of course, prioritize nutritious foods. Eat foods that make you feel satiated. Make most of your choices lean meats, fruits, vegetables, and foods high in fiber. Can you have a treat? Of course!! Provided you have enough calories to hit your calorie goals. You could have a Snickers every single day if you want to.

Remember, the best way to lose fat is to make your fat loss journey a sustainable one.

We hope that with this information, you can make sound choices when it comes to losing fat and getting in shape.

Are you struggling to lose weight? “The complete fat loss guide” teaches you how to lose weight and how to keep the pounds from ever coming back.