How to Burn Fat & Get Ripped Eating One Meal a Day
Eating one meal a day is one of the best ways to burn fat and get ripped.
Sounds crazy, but it's true.
And in this article, I'm going to prove it to you.
In fact, I do it every year. It allows me to lose 10 pounds in 30 days.
But before I go on, let's keep in mind that if you want to lose fat, you have to eat less calories than your body needs. (yes, you can even eat Twinkies and still lose weight)
Now, the biggest challenge for most people is how to eat less than they need.
Our kitchen cabinets are stuffed with food.
Our fridges are overflowing with things to eat.
Fast food restaurants are everywhere.
And almost every social gathering, work meeting, or family get together is centered around food and drink.
Needless to say, it's hard to eat less when you're surrounded by food.
So people think that they need to exercise more to counter their consumption.
But here's the thing, exercise doesn't burn as many calories as people think.
In fact, running a marathon burns about 2200 to 2800 calories. (1 pound of fat is 3500 calories)
So you can't even burn 1 measly pound of fat by running a marathon.
So yes, exercise helps, and is actually necessary, but it's not nearly as effective as controlling what you eat.
So you have to come up with a plan that actually allows you to burn fat without going crazy.
**Click below for my ultimate list of fat-burning recipes... You can cook them quickly and they taste amazing**
Let's Do Some Math BEFORE Explaining Why Eating One Meal a Day Is So Useful
Here's a scenario for you:
Since 1 pound of fat is 3500 calories, everyday, you'd need to eat 500 fewer calories in order to lose a pound of body fat per week.
If you want to aggressively lose fat (roughly 1.5 to 2 pounds per week), you'd eat 750 to 1000 calories less than your body needs.
How many calories does your body need?
Well, an oversimplified method is to take your bodyweight and multiply it by 14 - 16.
So let's say you're 200 pounds. You would need about 3000 (200 x 15) calories per day just to maintain your current weight.
Obviously this isn't exact, but it's a good starting point.
So if you want to lose 1 pound of fat per week, you would eat 2500 calories. If you want to lose 2 pounds per week, you would eat 2000 calories per day.
So let's say you're 6 feet tall and weigh 200 pounds.
As you can see, based on your age, height, and activity levels, your Basal Metabolic Rate is about 1900 calories. That means if you were in a coma, you would need 1900 calories a day just to support your body.
Then depending on my activity levels, you would add an activity multiplier. That accounts for daily activities like taking the stairs at work, walking to the store, playing with your kids, going to the gym, etc.
Unless you work a strenuous job in construction, landscaping, or some other form of manual labor, you should choose "lightly active".
So when I choose that, it says that you'd need about 2550 calories per day. So you would need approximately 2550 calories per day if you wanted to maintain your weight.
Now here's the thing, calorie calculators are great at giving you an estimate, but one of the most frustrating things is to exercise and eat right and STILL not lose any weight. If that happens, don't worry. Just go back and re-do your calculations, but this time choose "Sedentary"
If you choose "Sedentary" first, you won't have any room to go down if you notice that you aren't losing weight fast enough.
Now, if you work at a computer, and drive 2 hours per day, you might choose sedentary. But it's better to start higher and then go down if you aren't losing enough weight.
Now since you're on a diet, it's critical that you lift weights to maintain your muscle mass. The reality is that whenever you lose fat, you'll also lose some muscle (and when you gain muscle, you inevitably gain fat as well).
In order to prevent muscle loss on your diet, you'll need to lift heavy weights. At least 3 times per week. It doesn't matter what program you choose. Wendler 5/3/1, StrongLifts 5x5, or Starting Strength. But you want to do compound movements and workout your entire body
On those days, you should eat closer to your maintenance calories. Now to be clear, you won't likely get much stronger on this workout, but that's not your goal. You're laser focused on losing fat.
So here's a chart showing how much you should eat:
This tool that I used allows you to change how much you eat depending on whether you worked out that day or not.
According to the LeanGains method, you eat more on weight lifting days and less on rest days.
We're going to workout 3 days a week, but we're going to eat the same amount on lifting days as rest days.
You won't build muscle or get much stronger this way, but you will lean down and preserve your muscle mass.
Here's the thing... eating 2000 or even 1800 calories per day is NOT that hard. Especially if you have access to food all day long.
You'll quickly go over that if you don't pay attention to what you're eating all day (and drinking)
That's why eating one meal a day is so effective.
You can stuff your face without going above your daily caloric needs.
13 Reasons Why Eating One Meal a Day Is So Effective
1). Hundreds of Millions of People Already Do It
Every year, hundreds of millions of people across the world fast from sunup until sundown in the Islamic month of Ramadan.
They'll often wake up before dawn (as early as 3:00am) and eat a small meal and drink some water.
Then at sundown, they'll break their fast with dates, water, and a large dinner.
I do this every year and consistently lose 10 pounds without doing any exercise.
So if you're worried about eating once per day, don't. There's lots of research proving that it's safe and healthy. Anthony Mychal wrote a GREAT article a few years ago proving that Muslim athletes that fast in Ramadan perform remarkably well. Elliott Hulse has a bunch of good videos on the topic as well.
2). Eat (almost) As Much As You Want
Imagine being able to eat greek yogurt with chocolate covered almonds, buffalo chicken, chocolate milk, and pizza... and still lose weight.
Look at this picture showing some of the exact foods I like to eat:
Calories matter, and if you eat too many you'll gain fat. But based on the scenario we discussed above, you should know how many calories you should be eating.
Eating them all at the same time gives a sense of satisfaction, allowing you to comfortably to go sleep at night.
And don't worry about "eating clean". Josh wrote a great article here debunking the myth of clean eating. I eat my share of cake, cookies, and brownies.
3). Boost HGH
Growth hormone is produced by the pituitary gland in the brain and primarily fuels childhood growth and helps maintain tissue and organs throughout life. It's not the fountain of youth that it's touted to be, but it does have multiple benefits including:
- Increase in bone density
- Increase in muscle mass
- Decrease in body fat
There are synthetic versions of it available, but fasting is one of the most effective natural methods to increase growth hormone production.
JackedFactory has a good article summarizing the research on how fasting boosts growth hormone. And here's one from AnabolicMen titled Increase Human Growth Hormone by 2000% in 24 Hours.
4). You Feel Less Hungry
This seems counter-intuitive, but I'm actually less hungry when I don't eat. I know that if I eat breakfast at home, I'm starving by 10.
Maybe it's because my body doesn't "expect" food, so my hunger pangs aren't triggered.
And it's not just me that feels this way. Read this post about hunger and intermittent fasting
And if you are hungry, you can drink coffee to help reduce your hunger pangs. You can even add zero calorie sweetener.
There is some research on this, but it's also my personal experience. Drinking black coffee with cinnamon does seem to help, as well as drinking lots of ice water.
Lastly, here's a great article on "emotional hunger" vs physiological hunger, and how to tell the difference between the two.
5). You're MORE Productive
I work in an office, and when I eat a big lunch, I'm very unproductive in the afternoon. Lots of people feel the same thing.
On the other hand, I notice that I'm more focused and productive when I'm a little hungry.
Again, this is personal experience.
6). You Can Focus on Intense Workouts
I noticed that when I don't eat before a workout, I feel stronger.
Now this may just be the placebo effect in action, have noticed the same thing. Just read this article on Greatist about exercising on an empty stomach
And people like Alan Aragon, Martin Berkhans, and others have mentioned it as well.
In fact, bodybuilders have used fasted cardio as a simple way to lose weight for decades.
I will say that if you're lifting weights, you might want to use some branch chained amino acids before hand to prevent muscle loss.
7). Satisfy Your Cravings...
When I fast, I make a list of the foods that I'm craving.
Buffalo chicken. Peanut butter and jelly. Turkey with garlic aoli mustard. Chocolate covered almonds.
I like Victor Pride's notion of eating like a lion
8). Save Money Eating Out
Eating once a day helps you save money also.
I noticed that I can easily spend a few hundred dollars a month eating out. And the food usually has too many carbs and fat, and not enough protein.
So eating once per day, at home, saves money because I use whey protein, greek yogurt, and canned salmon as my main protein sources. That leaves me plenty of room to eat rice, cheese, ice cream, and bread as my carb and fat sources.
9). Enjoy Your Social Life
Eating one meal per day allows you to go out with friends and enjoy yourself.
I have kids and we get invited to a lot of birthday parties. So I'll usually drink coffee and water at home.
Then when we go to the party, I'll eat pizza and cake without feeling like I've messed up my diet.
Then I'll come home and make sure that I eat enough protein (usually a buffalo chicken salad with greek yogurt and chocolate covered almonds) and I'm good.
10). Flexible Workouts (kettlebells, bodyweight, barbells; you decide as long as you do full-body workouts)
Honestly, any workout will do, so long as you focus on preserving muscle mass.
Contrary to what people tell you, it's very hard to burn fat and build muscle at the same time (it's possible for beginners) Hypothetically, it can be done, but you need to have your diet so precise that it's really hard to do.
That said, make sure that you do heavy (85% of your 1 rep max) compound lifts. Things like squats, deadlifts, bench presses, overhead presses, rows, pushups, pullups, and dips.
By working your muscles intensely, you'll help preserve mass on a diet.
11). Classic Bodybuilders Used This Same Approach
Some classic bodybuilders have used the technique of eating once (or twice) per day to maintain low levels of bodyfat and preserve muscle mass. Here's an article from the Wall Street Journal describing Jack LaLanne's diet when he was in his prime.
Serge Nubret (who famously competed against Arnold Schwarzeneggar) used to eat once or twice a day.
And Zabo Kaszewski would eat the same way as well.
Getting lean is hard.
You're going to have to learn how to deal with hunger.
But if you need to get lean, eating one meal a day is probably the easiest way to do it.
I've done it time and time again.
And I've shared as much info as I could to help you do the same.
So get it done. Just commit to it and do it.
Check out my favorite recipes by clicking below...