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In numbers, the calorie estimations should be within ~10% IF you are honest about your activity level. If someone needs about 2,300 calories per day, the calculator could be off by 230ish calories. Over the course of 1 month, this is equal to ~7,000 calories (2lbs). Most people, however, overestimate how much they work out (ie they choose 'Heavy Exercise' when they should choose 'Light Exercise'). You should use the TDEE calculator as a reasonable estimate to start with, and adjust your calories up or down based on your weight change over time.

First order of business: We need to understand what creates fat loss.

Self-proclaimed fitness gurus with good marketing tactics and a desire for quick cash have, unfortunately, misdirected people.

We’ve been sold a million lies about what causes fat gain, and what we must do to lose fat. But there is a simple and proven formula for dropping fat.

Eat fewer calories than your body burns, and you enter into an energy deficit. Your body is forced to make up the energy deficit from somewhere. So, it taps into its own fuel stores.

The fat stored inside fat cells is shuttled into your bloodstream to be used for energy. This depletion creates fat loss. If you consume more calories than you burn, you go into storage mode, adding fat back into those cells.

The goal is to get your body to burn fat, maintain — and even build — muscle and maintain a strong metabolism, along with keeping hunger at bay.

Let me repeat that. A perfectly designed shredding program will allow you to:

  • Consistently drop fat
  • Maintain or build muscle
  • Maintain a strong, healthy metabolism
  • Keep you satisfied
  • You're eating too many calories. If you were eating at a sufficient deficit, you would have lost weight. For starters, you need to start using a food scale and tracking your calories with precision. Most people are blown away by how far off their estimates are compared to reality. Also, be aware that losing weight takes time, so be patient and pay attention to how many calories you are eating per day - and decrease your daily calories if you haven't lost any weight for 4 weeks. It's also true that your weight loss can stall. When your weight stalls, increase your calories to your maintenance calories for a few weeks and allow your body's hormones to normalize. I advocate eating at your maintenance calories once per week when you're cutting to keep your hormones in check, then creating the caloric deficit during the other 6 days of the week.

    There is no "best" macronutrient ratio, but what's important is that you eat enough Protein and get the vitamins and minerals that your body needs from real, whole foods. High protein is important particularly on a cut, and most people I've met enjoy eating high protein diets better anyways. If you're an athlete looking for peak performance, then sticking 100% to a proper diet will be more important for you.

    I recommend a calorie split of about 27 percent protein, 33 percent fat and 40 percent carbs. Make no mistake: This ratio does not have to be exact. It can be anywhere between 25-30 percent protein, 27-35 percent fat and 35-45 percent carbs. In the beginning, I recommend tracking your calories and macros using an app like MyFitnessPal. It's free, you can use it on both phones and computers, plus it has virtually every kind of food (and nearly every brand name as well) that you could possibly eat — and it's updated constantly. Eventually, you will be able to eyeball what you eat and go by feel, but best to play it safe to start out and get an exact reading of what you're consuming.

    But Carbs Will Make Me Fat, Right? Remember, if you’re in a calorie deficit, you will be forced to burn fat already stored in your body. Carbs do not make you fat. Eating too many calories make you fat. Carbs are highly beneficial. They are directly involved in building muscle. Carbs restore muscle glycogen and promote anabolism. They boost insulin and reduce excess cortisol. Carbs also increase energy; so you can train harder. Furthermore, carbs help increase serotonin production, which helps with sleep. When you go low-carb, sleep usually suffers big time. Adequate sleep is crucial for optimal recovery and keeping cravings at bay.

    The Magic Is in the Balance I truly believe the ideal way to eat is always going to be a balance of protein, fats and carbs. The fitness industry always loves to demonize a macronutrient or food group. But it never works long-term. In fact, throughout the last several decades, we’ve gone through mainstream fads of low-carb, low-fat, anti-sugar, anti-meat and everything in between! This is a distraction from what is really required to promote a great looking and performing body: Eat the proper number of calories and macros and you will feel (and look) amazing.

    Here are some of my favorite foods to put on my shopping list:

    Recommended Proteins

    • Chicken breast
    • Extra-lean ground beef
    • Flank steak
    • Sirloin steak
    • Egg whites and whole eggs
    • Low-fat shredded cheese
    • Cottage cheese (2 percent)

    Recommended Carbs

    • Potatoes
    • Sweet potatoes
    • Bread
    • English muffins
    • Pop chips
    • Tortillas
    • Rice
    • Pasta
    • Fruits (apples, bananas, etc)
    • Veggies/Greens

    Recommended Added Fats

    • Butter
    • Oils for cooking (coconut oil, olive oil and macadamia oil)

    Here are even more types of foods, beverages, condiments and sweeteners you can have to hit your macros …

    (Quick Tip: get the majority of your calories from nutrient-dense foods. Use the 80/20 principle: 80 percent nutrient-dense foods, 20 percent foods that are calorically empty, aka foods that are not normally allowed on a meal plan.)

    The "80 Percent Foods"
    • Chicken breast
    • Turkey breast
    • Ham
    • Hamburger
    • Steak
    • Lamb
    • Venison
    • Bacon
    • Sausage
    • Shrimp
    • Tuna
    • Salmon
    • Halibut
    • Cod
    • Scallops
    • Lobster
    • Avocados
    • Lettuce
    • Kale
    • Bell peppers
    • Brussels sprouts
    • Spinach
    • Broccoli
    • Asparagus
    • Peas
    • Green beans
    • Mushrooms
    • Cucumber
    • Carrots
    • Celery
    • Baked potatoes
    • Sweet potatoes
    • Eggs
    • Fruits (apples, bananas, cherries, blueberries, watermelon, pineapple, cantaloupe, mango, kiwi, grapefruit, strawberries, berries, grapes, oranges, plums, peaches, pears)
    • Low-fat yogurt
    • Low-fat cottage cheese
    • Seeds (pumpkin, sesame, sunflower)
    • Almonds
    • Cashews
    • Peanuts
    • Beans (navy, garbanzo, pinto, kidney)
    • Bagels
    • Pasta
    • Breads
    • Oats
    • Oatmeal
    • Barley
    • Brown rice
    • Quinoa
    • Coconut oil
    • Olive oil
    • Butter
    The "20 Percent Foods"
    • Chocolate
    • Cookies
    • Cake
    • Muffins
    • Candy bars
    • Ice cream
    • Fast food
    • Donuts
    • Full-fat cheeses
    • Whipped cream

    Pick some that you want daily but remember: Use these in moderation! They add up quick.

    Zero-Calorie Beverages
    • Water (best recommendation)
    • Black coffee
    • Sparkling water
    • Tea
    • Diet sodas
    • Flavored water
    • Zero-calorie energy drinks
    Caloric Beverages
    • Milk
    • Soda
    • Juice
    • Alcohol

    You can have beverages with calories, but make sure you track them accurately. Again, these should not be consumed during your fasting period.

    Next up — condiments. You can't forget to track the condiments you're using. These are the little filler calories that actually add up to a decent amount of calories if you're not careful. Plus, there are some great tasting zero-calorie condiments and zero-calorie sweeteners.

    Recommended Condiments (Zero or Low-Calorie)
    • Hot sauces
    • Mustard
    • Salt
    • Pepper
    • Dried spices
    • Lemon juice
    • Lime juice
    • Salsa (some are ok, but read the label to find an awesome low-cal option)
    • Soy sauce
    • Zero calorie sweeteners (Stevia, Equal and monk fruit extract)

    Try to have a mix of each macronutrient (protein, carbs and fats, veggies, added flavor) at each meal. This will help with satiation, aid in recovery and give you an overall variety with your meals.

    For most people, at least 1 of the formulas should be reasonably accurate. But just like with BMI, the more muscle you have compared to the average person, the less accurate it will be. Don't stress out about this number, it's a general estimate for populations at large, not individuals.