I am Arch. This is my weight loss program for people who have a lot of trouble losing weight. It’s several years old; this is the revised version.
You probably already have some ideas about weight loss, so let me correct a couple of potential misconceptions before I say anything else:
1. By “lose weight” I mean “lose fat.” No one gives a shit about water weight or glycogen stores. I am using “lose weight” just because this is the standard stupid term for it, but we should be using words like “fat” instead of “weight.”
2. Being able to lose weight is not what makes you a fitness expert. Not even close. I am not a fitness expert — while my knowledge is at the expert level, until I can put my physique or strength alongside professionals like Menno Henselmans and not look stupid, you should not treat me as one.
3. Losing weight is the aspect of fitness everyone thinks they need expert help to do, which is amazing, because it’s really not that hard. Not only is not hard, it’s the easiest fitness thing to understand. This sounds harsh if you’re fat. I would know. I used to be. But: by acting like the easiest thing is the hardest thing, you are saying the people doing the actually hardest things in fitness aren’t really doing much. Further, you don’t deserve someone telling you falsehoods. People who talk about fat loss as if this makes them experts just because they dropped a bunch of poundage are charlatans; they ride the wave of difficulty normal people have with weight loss and present it as expertise merely because they’ve done what normal people can’t.
Learning how to build muscle and strength optimally is far more complicated, because weight loss doesn’t carry as many variables. I’ve read strength training research in studies and textbooks for years and it took me at least a full year for everything to click, and that was long after I had read the NSCA’s Strength and Conditioning book cover-to-cover. Weight loss took something like two weeks of research to “get”, and that’s two weeks of research by the standards of me as a college freshman, not a grown-ass man used to professional scholarship.
The downside is you might be thinking “wow, I suck.” But the upside to this is that you can do it. You’ve just colossally oversold how hard your goal is. The simplicity of fat loss means that there are only one or two things you might be doing wrong, as opposed to ten things you could potentially be doing wrong. You have certainty on your side. That’s not the case almost anywhere else in exercise science.
Diets are simplifications like “when a man and woman love each other they make a baby.”
Virtually all diets are just shortcuts for calorie counting. Keto, Paleo, Primal, Raw Food, whatever — if they work, it’s because they caused you to get the calories right even though you weren’t paying attention. You could save a lot of time and effort by just looking at the calories.
“I tried X and it didn’t work.” Okay. In all variations of this sentence, the answer is the same: your calorie totals were off.
In other words, you don’t need to follow a “diet” in the sense of some overall eating strategy. A diet prescribes certain foods that the creator thinks will allow you to get into caloric deficit if you follow the guidelines. This is why keto works — lean meat is some of the most filling food, so people who eat meat all the time eat less and inadvertently allow themselves to go into caloric deficit, which in turn helps them lose weight.
Weight loss is only temporary if the principles you use are temporary.
This is something people who know a lot of things about fitness don’t need to explain. As in, if you said this to a bunch of fitness experts it would be insultingly obvious. But since you’re here, there is a small but nonzero chance you’ve been tricked into believing some bullshit like “if I lose weight I’ll just gain it back.”
Tell anyone who says “diets don’t work” to preheat their oven to 400F and stick their harddrive in it; they have no business evaluating studies they don’t understand. There is an entire Instagram account for dramatic, permanent transformations. Diets worked for all of these people. You can insist otherwise, but after a certain point, it becomes easier to just try shit than to deny reality.
Weight loss studies about diet failure — and they are numerous, and authored by people without a background in exercise science — are studies that evaluate ADHERENCE, not physiological effectiveness. In other words, they measure how well people control themselves, not how well the stuff you’re doing actually works to achieve what you want. Diets don’t suck; people suck. If you return to fat people eating habits after a diet, you will get fat again. Lots of things are hard. Stochastic calculus is pretty hard. This isn’t hard.
Your metabolism is NOT “slow.”
A slow metabolism is an inefficient metabolism. You do not have a slow metabolism in any way that would make a difference. I know this because there is a drug that simulates this to the point that does make a difference: DNP.
DNP the most dangerous drug I’ve ever come across; it’s in another league from drugs you typically associate with danger like cocaine, heroin, and so on.
“Of the side effects the most concerning is death. We actually mean your heart stopping and you living no more.”
The website I just linked is a steroid website, meaning the kinds of people most likely to have taken it themselves or known others who have are the same people writing the description there. Steroid vendors themselves will not typically sell it, usually because of the dramatically increased risk to the end-user and the sense of guilt if someone were to die from it.
It’s also the most effective weight loss drug known to humanity; you can lose a pound of fat per day. The drug works by making your body inefficient at transferring energy. As a result, your body heat increases dramatically; like MDMA, but worse. You are extraordinarily lethargic. You will get winded from climbing up a flight of stairs. You are cognitively useless. You are constantly hungry. You will need to supplement vitamin C, vitamin E, ALA, and T3 to not feel horrible and get ideal results. You will need to check your temperature every two hours to make sure you’re not dying of hyperthermia.
The above is what you’d feel like if you could “eat all the time and not gain weight.” If you’re remotely functional as a person, at all, this not you. In fact, you are significantly overweight your metabolic rate is probably faster than the average person’s because your BMR is primarily a product of your age, height, and weight — among other things, but mostly those things.
Some things can influence your metabolic rate and cause individual variation by 100-300 calories. Some things will also influence the muscle/fat ratio of your weight loss. These things are a big deal when you’re a bodybuilder and you need to lose exactly 1lb to 2lb of fat per week. This is NOT a big deal if you’re 30lb (or more) overweight and trying to lose weight fast. Being concerned with nutrient partitioning if you are 30lb overweight and have failed multiple weight loss programs is like stressing over being unable to do Calculus in your head when you’re in remedial Algebra. If you are a bodybuilder, you do not need this guide whatsoever and you know this already.
I am being extremely general here, because certain metabolic factors can cause variation in calories by up to 300 or even 500 per day when determining what 1lb of fat means.
However, in general, the following things are true:
3500 calories = 1lb of mass
1 gram of carbohydrates = 4 calories
1 gram of protein = 4 calories
1 gram of fat = 7 calories
BMR = the amount of calories your body burns doing jack shit
TDEE = your total calories burnt in a day (i.e. BMR + whatever else you did)
An average woman’s BMR is around 1300-1600 and an average man’s BMR is around 1700-2000. Depending on what you do during the day, your TDEE might be 1500 or it might be 4000.
But this point is important: if your TDEE (calories burned) is greater than your calories consumed, you are in caloric deficit and will lose fat or muscle or both.
Here is a BMR calculator (useful for fat loss, since many people overestimate TDEE): http://www.myfitnesspal.com/tools/bmr-calculator
Here is a TDEE calculator (useful for our purposes): http://iifym.com/tdee-calculator/
How you lose fat depends on factors like:
(a) what kind of macronutrients you’re eating (some unsaturated fats are known to be better for weight loss than saturated fats, but you don’t need to care about this)
(b) what kind of anabolic activities you’re doing (weight training is anabolic and to an extent high-intensity interval training is too, but low intensity cardio is not), and
(c) how much testosterone you have.
Women can bring their testosterone levels substantially higher by supplementing DHEA, which will aid muscle growth and weight loss by biasing the body to burning fat instead of muscle. In fact, DHEA has enormous benefits for women besides just exercise. Unless you have an adrenal gland issue — and almost none of you will — if you’re a woman, you should probably be taking DHEA at 25-50mg/day; benefits occur after about two weeks. (Start at 50mg and drop it down to 25mg if you experience any unwanted issues.) Most women I know use Natrol, which you can order from my affiliate link here.
If you burn 3500 calories, you have burned one pound of mass. Unless you’re eating to extreme caloric deficit, most of this will be fat. I’ve posted this before, but this study outlines nutritional recommendations for bodybuilders losing fat while optimally preserving muscle.
However, if you are the average overweight person (or obese), this is overkill to the extreme. These recommendations are for people who find controlling their nutritional intake exceedingly easy; if you are a weight significantly beyond what you’d prefer, by definition you don’t have these principles down.
Instead, most people who are obese or overweight respond best to extreme caloric deficits — I’m talking like 800 or 1000 per day or more. Why? Because if someone is overweight or obese, they obviously cannot exercise the kind of dietary control that a bodybuilder would yet.
They are at a beginner stage where they don’t even have a calibration for their caloric intake.
They don’t know what rapid weight loss is like.
A person like this needs to go balls-to-the-wall for a while to feel what rapid weight loss is like, then dial it down once they have a feel for it.
Weight loss = counting calories
Anyone who told you not to count calories to lose weight was full of shit or thought you were a gigantic pussy who would stress out too much over doing basic arithmetic. Alternatively, they think you attach emotions to food and are incapable of quantifying it, but that’s a subcategory of “thinking you’re a pussy.” Either way, don’t listen to this person.
IF YOU WANT TO LOSE WEIGHT EFFECTIVELY YOU NEED TO COUNT CALORIES OBSESSIVELY AND MONITOR HOW MUCH FAT, PROTEIN, AND CARBOHYDRATES YOU ARE TAKING.
YOU CANNOT AVOID THIS IF YOU WANT THIS TO BE EFFECTIVE. YOU NEED TO LOOK AT LABELS ALL THE TIME. I CANNOT EMPHASIZE THIS ENOUGH.
You will not need to do this forever. But for a period of a month or two, until you have an intuitive feel for calories — yes, you will.
Programs like keto say you don’t need to count calories because they inadvertently bring you into caloric deficit. You could count calories and know when you’re in caloric deficit anyway and eat a wider range of food.
Why does this matter?
You can lose weight on anything. You can lose weight on fucking ice cream if you want. Several fitness experts have done it just to prove a point.
It does not matter if you eat organic food.
It does not matter if you eat vegetables.
It does not matter if you eat fruit.
It does not matter if you fast food.
It does not matter if you eat “whole foods”, raw foods, or whatever the fuck else.
It does not matter if you eat meat, or are strictly vegetarian/vegan.
It does not matter if you eat carbs.
THE ONLY THING THAT MATTERS FOR WEIGHT LOSS IS YOUR TOTAL CALORIC INTAKE. CALORIC DEFICIT = WEIGHT LOSS. CALORIC DEFICIT = WEIGHT LOSS.
Yes, this is not true in an absolute sense. Once you’re into “knows a good deal about fitness” category, things like fat quality and carb quality and meal timing and total protein intake all of that become concerns. But the people who this guide is for will fail weight loss if they concern themselves with that shit.
If you want to lose 30lb, you are not at a stage where those little things will help you. This is like asking how to maximize the aerodynamic advantage of your car when you can barely keep the engine running, or how best to invest your money when you only have $200 in your bank account. You need to work on caloric management FIRST before you start getting into the nuances of weight loss.
How does this program work?
The logic behind this program is twofold:
(a) extreme calorie restriction, to understand what rapid weight loss feels like and to be able to moderate it accordingly
(b) nutritional supplementation to make calorie restriction safe
What should I actually eat?
To start with, use the Sweet/Soft rule, which is a rule of thumb I made for a blind person who couldn’t look up calorie numbers: the sweeter something is and easier it is to chew, the more calories it’ll probably have. The reverse is true too: the harder it is to chew and less sweet it is the less calories it’ll have. Tuna and broccoli have hardly any calories. Soda, which is ludicrously sweet and involves no chewing, has a ton of calories. Fruit and bread will probably have more calories than you think. Add “very oily” and “very creamy” to consistencies you should look out for and you’ll probably have most things covered.
But that’s just to start. You will not get out of your rut by just doing that.
Familiarize yourself with the glycemic index. This is an index of how the food affects your blood sugar; in effect, it’s a fullness index. Low GI foods are usually more filling than high GI foods. There are some exceptions, but as a general rule this is the case.
You want to eat foods that are dense, if this is not clear by now.
Lean meat is one of the most, if not the most, dense foods you can eat. I don’t mean marbled steak. I mean bland as fuck chicken, lean tuna you get out of a can, etc. — have you checked out the calories on a can of tuna sometime? Do it. It’s less than a soda.
Meat has protein. Protein helps maintain your muscle. Look at the legs of non-bodybuilder women who are vegan or vegetarian and very skinny — their muscle in their legs has completely atrophied; their asses are flat; they have calves like sticks. When you don’t eat good amounts of protein and lose lots of weight, a lot of what is lost is muscle.
Try to eat at least 75g of protein a day if you’re a woman and 100g of protein a day if you’re a man. At least — but don’t excuse it by eating shit like fried chicken. Remember: bland as fuck lean meat. If you’re working out and doing a lot cardio — as in at least an hour or two a day — eat your bodyweight in grams if protein, so 200lb = 200g and so on.
You want to do a fair amount of cardio while losing weight, but that’s like the fourth or fifth thing you should be concerned with. It’s far more important that you lift weights. Heavy weights. Lifting provokes an anabolic response which encourages your body to retain muscle and discard fat. There are so many beginner lifting programs that I don’t even know where to begin. I wrote one, but I think starting strength is better if you’re trying to lose weight. It doesn’t matter if you do it partially wrong. It matters if you do it.
Here’s the hard part:
You are going to SEVERELY restrict what you eat.
Calm the fuck down though, I don’t mean like anorexia.
If you weigh 250lb at 5’10” and you’re not obscenely muscular, your eating is not restricted. Thermodynamically that is impossible. Your body needs to power itself; organs need to work, body heat needs to be maintained, etc — it uses calories to do that. The more mass you have, the more that needs to be powered. If you restrict calories you restrict your energy source and your body needs to get it from somewhere else.
If you are 30lb overweight or more, eat 1000 calories per day every 2-4 days, then have a “cheat” day after your restricted days. But don’t get too comfortable. By “cheat” day I’m still referring to dramatically less food than what you’re probably eating right now — 2000 calories or less — so this will probably still feel restricted. But eating this way replenishes your leptin levels, which you don’t need to worry about right now, but know that they help you lose fat and make this process way easier. In bodybuilder jargon this is called a ‘refeed’; google it if you want.
Is this unhealthy? Not in the short term — in the long term, absolutely. But you’re not doing this in the long term, because this is meant to be followed for a month or two at most and then moderated to something you can handle. More importantly, being obese or very overweight is far worse, health-wise, than following this plan for a month or two. If you wanted the perfectly healthy way to lose weight, you’d go at a slow and steady moderate pace of 2lb/week. There are plans that do this. But you are here, and if you’re 30lb overweight or more we have concrete proof you’re not using the healthiest fat-loss method very well, so some humility is warranted here. Suggesting moderation is pointless until you know HOW to moderate caloric deficits. You need to experience rapid weight loss first before you know what moderation is like.
Once you lose the weight you want, go back to something more moderate — like 1500 to 2000 calories per day, depending on your weight. THIS DOES NOT MEAN you can retain your old eating habits. You will need to make a permanent adjustment in the types of foods you eat.
Anyway, a typical day might look like this:
– coffee with cream (50 calories)
– bland chicken (200 calories)
– bland tuna (140 calories)
– banana (120 calories)
– bland chicken (200 calories)
– spinach (75 calories)
– bland chicken (200 calories)
Weight training: -200 calories
Cardio, 1 hour: -400 calories
total ingested calories: 985
Caloric deficit: 1500 (or 0.4lb)
Foods like these are depressing, but they are effective. Do you know how much fucking chicken I’ve eaten over the course of my life? I don’t even regard it as a food at this point so much as a nutritional supplement. I am far from the only one. Nonetheless, what works takes priority over whatever emotional attachment you might have to food. Are you going to prioritize some meal you’ve craved for 10 minutes, or the body you’ve wanted for 10 years? You’re here because you have some conflict between these two impulses, so be realistic: you want the second one, and the first one is an excuse.
At this rate of weight loss, you’d lose about 2.5lb/week or 10lb/month. You can do more cardio if you want to go even deeper into caloric deficit. The most I’d recommend is 15lb in a month. The most I’ve personally done is 30lb/month. Do not do this unless you are extremely overweight, in the sense that your BMI puts you near “obese”.
You can burn fat at a rate that is so fast that it burns muscle, and you almost certainly will. This is to be expected. But this is not that concerning; if you’re 30lb or more overweight most of what you burn is going to be fat by an overwhelming margin because your body has so much excess fat to begin with. The people who have to be concerned about losing muscle are bodybuilders or gymrats who are 15% bodyfat or less. Being 30lb or 50lb overweight, depending on your height and sex, translates into something like 20-35% body fat, so you can go into rapid deficit without the same issues.
You need to take multivitamins and eat spinach or some other high-density nutrient green (kale, collard greens, whatever) every day. This is to prevent the loss of nutrition you’d otherwise get from eating so few calories. You will get sick otherwise.
More importantly: YOU NEED TO GET AT LEAST SEVEN HOURS OF SLEEP. I’d recommend even more than seven, but seven is a minimum. Not only does sleep affect whether you lose muscle or fat, it also affects your immune system. Calories power your body, including your immune system, and you will have less of them. Low calories means your immune system is going to be functioning less efficiently than it normally does. If you get a solid 7 hours or more of sleep, you should have no issues, but if you get 5 hours for 4 days in a row there’s a solid chance you might get sick and derail your whole program. (And if you do get sick, return to eating normally. Eating with low calories while sick will just prolong your sickness.)
Why are you so aggressive?
Loudness communicates emphasis and urgency. If your friend is texting while driving and about to drive into a concrete wall, 90+% of people would shout “STOP” at the top of their lungs. They would not default to “hey, have you considered stopping?” because this does not sufficiently communicate the perceived importance of the information.
When I am writing a guide, I assume the reader wants to get results and is willing to put in whatever amount of effort to do it. But I know for a fact the target reader here has a problem that is in part related to discipline, and in part related to the information they’ve been given. Due to the misplaced sense of politeness from people around them, the readers of this guide are coming in with misconceptions about what works and what doesn’t, and I need to be unmistakably clear about these misconceptions. Certain points I need to drive home more than others, and if I presented all information with equal importance or measured tone, the reader might get the impression that calorie counting is a footnote or something.
What happens after I lose the weight?
Get on a muscle-building program. More muscle = you weigh more = your basal metabolic rate is faster = it’s easier to keep off fat. Plus, the food you eat will be *used* for something, as opposed to getting deposited as fat.
I recommend PPL.
“Just wanted to say that I’ve read your “Balls-to-the-Wall Weight Loss Method” and I was like, “haha, look at this prick putting random numbers and stats together like it would magically work or something. Then for laughs I swapped what I eat for more fat/protein/carbohydrate and less random stuff and guess what, I had the energy to get the weight down so, I got it under 200 lbs which I have never been since forever. I don’t think it would have happened without reading your thread and following what it says. Very happy to see that once in a while, simple but life-changing things can be found here, on a “mere rhythm gaming website”. TLDR; Thanks for sharing knowledge that affect others positively.”
— some guy, after trying this
This is not an ideal program, in any way. It’s not the healthiest, nor the easiest, nor the most effective.
But it works, and if you’ve had weight loss issues in the past it may be your last resort before giving up.
Sometimes you will need a brute-force solution for your problems in life. This is one.