So you want to drop body fat? Start Here

Want to start losing fat start here | Fitness Revolution RowlettDisclaimer: This blog is intended for the beginner NOT the advanced gym rat or seasoned fitness buff, when you have several years of successful dieting under your belt you think differently because your circumstances (athletic performance could be one) are different. This is step one of many to get a beginner to where you are at now. We are just trying to master one thing at a time.

The nutrition world is SO overwhelming.

Even I say that, and I’ve been in the industry for a number of years, so I know the beginner is just freaking swamped with trying to figure out what to do.

Many people that come in our doors just don’t know what to do with all the conflicting info out there, and I mean, its no wonder.

Do they do Atkins, Paleo, Low-Carb, Low-Fat, Not Eat after 6, or was it 7, do time zones matter? What about whole grains, ever hear of IIFYM, South Beach, North Beach, WEST SIDE!, Mediterranean, is butter a carb…?

$hit the list goes on!

Personally I feel this is why so many beginners just give the big middle finger to “dieting” and eat whatever they want.

After talking to so many people I decided to help clear the air of all of these “diets” and start with the bare bones science of this world to help YOU have the best idea of where to start. After that we will get into the nitty gritty of this world.


Number One Diet Rule

-Calories matter-

Yes, this IS a calorie game. No matter how you look at it it is about eating less and moving more.

If you burn more calories than you consume then you WILL lose weight.

That rule RIGHT THERE is the cornerstone of most diets, no matter how they try to spin it at the end of the day, it is about eating less than your body needs.

Before some people get all butt hurt about me forgetting macro breakdowns, meal timing and supplements, this is NOT about that. Yes, they DO have a part of the picture but in the end NOTHING comes close to diet success as in eating less calories.

If you take a look at popular diets such as IIFYM (If It Fits Your Macros) and IF (Intermittent Fasting), Carb Backloading, or whatever, they will still have you eating less at the end of the day.

That point right there brings me to the next most popular question.


How Many Calories Am I Supposed To Eat?

There isn’t a magical number out there for everyone, so I can’t give a one size fits all number, but I can tell you how to find YOUR number

Oh your gonna hate this, but it’s how we do it for all of our clients here at FR. You are going to starting calorie counting.




Well, I hate looking at my bank account some months but I have to in order to keep from going broke, get over it.

You are going to get a calorie counting or food tracking app (MyFitnessPal is one of the more popular ones) for your phone and track what you eat, and I mean everything you put into your mouth, for as far back as you remember AND for at least 7 days; also you need to either weigh yourself or get a pair of skin calipers to get some measurements.

Don’t worry about inputting your workouts or exercise, just focus on the calorie number.

From there I want you to average out the amount of calories you eat on a daily basis and compare it to the scale OR the skin calipers from your starting measurements to the final ones.

Side Note: 7 days is the minimum I recommend for getting a base line number of calories I typically get a better idea at around 14 days.

If you lost weight OR skin caliper thickness then you are on the right track with the amount of calories you are eating.

If you stayed the same then that is the amount of calories you need to maintain your current look.

If you gained size, well you know what that means.


What To Do Now

From there if you find that you are gaining fat then I recommend cutting 15% off your average calorie number, if you are holding your current weight or measurements then I recommend cutting 10% of your average calorie number.

Example: If you find that you are GAINING size and averaging about 2100 calories a day then we will take 15% of 2100 which is 315 calories. 2100 – 315 = 1785 (I’ll just say 1800 for easy math)

Example: If you find that you are MAINTAINING size then you want to cut about 10%. So if you are eating 1900 calories you will take 10% of that number which is 190 calories and subtract it from your average calorie number. 1900-190 = 1710 (or just 1700 for easy math)

Could you cut more or a larger percentage? Yes, but you’ll feel it and I find that it’s harder to maintain that vs. a 10-15% calorie cut.

What you will do is maintain that calorie amount until your body stops progressing and then cut 10% AGAIN.

Side Note: I am NOT factoring in the benefits of exercise here because if you do exercise you’d be surprised that you may not have to do too many calorie cuts before you hit your goal. So my advice is to WORKOUT and workout hard. The results are so much better that way.

That’s it! Seriously it’s that easy. Just find YOUR calorie number and cut 10-15%. Track your food and you will start dropping (assuming that you don’t have massive cheat meals)

With all that said people always want to look for short cuts or loop holes through this, ways to with allow themselves to eat more food or ways to go faster. Everyone does it, heck so do I!  Below I have several of the most common beginner loop hole questions when it comes to faster ways to drop fat or eat less calories.

What about the 1200 Calorie Myth

I’ve done intensive internet research and website trolling to really find the history of the 1200 calorie myth and to be honest I didn’t find anything that holds merit or let alone makes sense.

In my opinion it is what it is, a myth.

NOW I am NOT saying go off and eat 1200 calories or less for maximal weight loss, NO! Generally I have found people that do well on those few of calories are small framed people (there is a big difference in the amount of calories a sedentary 5ft 100 lb person needs verses a 6ft plus 250 lb bodybuilder), and elderly people.

Look at weight loss like throwing a ball, the harder you throw it down (the faster you cut your calories) to the ground the higher its going to rebound. This is why crash diets have such nasty rebounds and very little likelihood of sticking. Lets say though, in that ball metaphor, that if you lobbed the ball down then the rebound is minimal.

What about calorie burning drinks?

I wish I could think of a clever metaphor for this one but, alas, I can not without coming across as an idiot. Anecdotal evidence and personal experience shows me that what people tend to drop with those drinks are just water weight and NOT fat.

Scale weight and fat weight are two different things. You can drop 10 lbs of water weight and look the exact same but drop 10 lbs of body fat and you’ll look VERY different.


Does Meal Frequency Matter?

For the beginner just starting out it does not matter. At the end of the day it’s the total calories consumed, not how many meals you ate. So you can eat as many meals as you want as often or infrequent as you want just as long as your hitting YOUR calorie number at the end of the day.

If you don’t want to eat breakfast, then that’s ok ,don’t. If you want to only eat 2 meals a day, that’s ok, just make sure your not breaking the 15% rule. Again, at the end of the day it’s the total amount of calories consumed.

I’m sure you have heard that meal frequency matters, but for where you are at now, just starting out, let’s not worry about it and make it harder on you. Let’s just worry about the calories first, then we can go from there.


Staring on Monday

One more time here is what you need to do.

-Get a calorie tracking app

-Get starting measurements

-Track at LEAST 7 days (preferably 14 days) of calories

-If you are gaining then cut 15%, if you are maintaining that only cut 10%

-Track your numbers daily

-Track your measurements every two weeks

-if you stop losing weight cut another 10%

People have a hard time believing that this is all it takes, the tracking your calories is really the solution to help when you drop weight. Well it is. There has been such an information overload, that you can see how easily it is to confuse someone who is just starting out.

In the next blog I’ll go over macronutrient breakdowns and how they, if done correctly, can help you with fat loss for when you are ready for it.


In Health and Awesomeness,

Travis Signature 300x62 Worlds Shortest Blog Post

Travis Merritt, BS, CPT, (and other cool letters behind the name) is the Owner of Fitness Revolution in Rowlett, TX.

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  1. LOVE the post and the principle has held true for me! I lost 75 lbs counting calories — eating less & moving more. People always ask me how I did it and when i tell them it’s as easy as that – they immediately tell me they could never do that, it’s just too hard. SERIOUSLY?!! Working out is hard. Not eating Oreo Creme Pie is hard. Counting your calories regularly? NOT hard. Thanks for being honest!

  2. Juli-Anna Mullins says

    I’ve been fighting this battle with myself for over 20 years! I will not quit, I will win this battle! 😉

  3. i have been using my fitness pal for over a year. It say I should only have 1330 calories. I do very well to stay close to that. I do have Hadhimotos (hypothyroid) but I don’t want to use that as an excuse. Should I cut 10% of that?

    • I’m no expert with Hadhimotos (I’ve worked only with a handful of clients that have that) but I would probably increase your activity level first before decreasing calories.

  4. I know you have a lot of letters after your name, but real life experience trumps that any day. Dozens and dozens of women I know have lost substantial amounts of weight and have kept it off for prolonged periods of time by following an eating plan with a main premise of separating carbs and fats by 3-4 hours (ie: breakfast is eggs fried in butter with bacon, lunch is a baked sweet potato and lean chicken breast, etc.) We don’t count calories, we eat butter, heavy cream, bacon, sausage, etc. and still lose. Our bloodwork numbers are amazing. We are off prescription meds. I could go on and on, but the fact is that we, along with the thousands of other women who follow this eating style, lose weight without counting a single calorie.

    • Calories still exist even if you don’t count them, so your plan sill has them eating calories than what they needed at the end of the day.

  5. What do you suggest if my weight is going down, but the skin calipers are staying the same? I’m working out 5 days a week, 2 with a trainer. I can’t imagine I’m losing muscle with all of the increased workouts for me?

    • Sounds like you are dropping water, food, glycogen and gut waste; I doubt your losing muscle since your as active as you say. Keep going though the body has to drop some of that trash weight first before anything else happens

  6. It’s “anecdotal evidence.”

    But nice article.

  7. great article! This is where I am stuck at ” what the heck do I do”.
    This makes sense

  8. Tamara Cramer says

    I enjoyed your article. Question: what are your thoughts on body sculpting? I have an apple/inverted triangle shape. 5’2 150#. I would like to lose 20# but I have diet/exercise commitment issues, trying not to blow it this time. I would like to try to re-proportion, is that even possible? Broad shoulders, kinda thick middle, narrow hips & flat butt? How do get there? I’m tried of looking like a football player!

    • Shooting you straight Tamara, that’s a very detailed question that you may get an better question speaking to a trainer in person. I can tell you that SOME re-portioning is possible through targeted training but there is a genetic factor in there as well that has determined your natural build. I would start leaning you out to a lower bodyfat level so that you could get an better idea what muscles need to come up vs. go down and work off that.

  9. Thank you for simplifying weigh loss for me and my fiance!! We have tried so many different “DIETS” with no results or temporary results. With all these diet and exercise revolutions out there today we never knew which way to turn and would get aggravated and just stop! I see so many people on the Paleo Diet or “Caveman Diet”, do they not know the life expectancy of a caveman is anywhere from 35-50? Hmmm, that would only leave me about 8 good years to live! I I love cheese, milk, bread/grains, potatoes, nuts, and everything else I can get off our earth! Our ancestors that grew their own food and lived mainly off what was produced off their farms, never had the luxury of processed foods and/or fast foods, mostly lived a long, healthy life! Now I see people my age contracting and dying from heart disease and all different kinds of cancers, due to too much meat, processed food, and fast food! I say with us trying to keep your calories in count we will be looking to eat mainly fresh foods and smaller portions of meat, therefore makes this an easy road! This won’e be a diet, but a lifestyle change all in the name of our health!

  10. I’m what they call “skinny fat.” After having 3 babies in 3 years, I have lost all my baby weight but have been left feeling absolutely depleted of all strength, energy, and muscle tone. I know my body fat % is very high but I do not need to lose anymore weight. I’m 5’10” and 140lbs. How do I cut body fat percentage without dieting? I would appreciate any advice. Loved your straight-forward article. It really is all about input vs. output. Thanks!

    • I would recommend that you start lifting, you need to add some muscle to that frame of yours; with “skinny-fat” people they don’t need to really drop much body fat, more just getting stronger more developed muscles. I would recommend finding a trainer in your local area that can help out with that.

  11. I love reading your blog! Thank you for sharing this today! I have started working with a trainer 5 days a week and need to loose 50 or more pounds and while I love the working out part and it’s even becoming addictive I sometimes wreck my progress in the kitchen! That is the hardest part! I am going to try your suggestion starting today! Keep blogging please!!!!!

  12. Thank you for this article. Really, really good! I have been making a very huge effort to work at becoming more healthy in general. I have goals to try to drop 20 lbs by May. I have made a huge push to get it all right and in check since the start of the year. I have been working out more than I ever have, doing at least 5 days a week, in addition to making sure I hit 12000 plus steps on my fitbit and burning about 2500 calories a day. I have been using myfitness pal and love it. Counting calories is a have too, and it is not hard for me. I record everything. But it seems like I have been working real hard to stay exactly the same. Following MFP recommendations it has me at 1200 calories for what I am wanting to achieve. So, this whole time I have been worried about the myth, am I not eating enough etc. etc. So after reading this, I went and pulled up the reports of what I have been inputting on my calories. Turns out, I have not been as obediently staying at 1200 calories. The reports show I have went over 1200 calories about 90% of this month. Plus a lot of times it was over 100 calories more too. Although, I still honestly feel that I am certainly burning way more than I am eating but no excuses time to make an adjustment! THis weight loss thing is hard work; emotionally and physically. I have been super overwhelmed with all the information that is out there. This article has certainly helped me at just keeping it simple!!!

  13. I’ve always struggled getting a direct answer to this question from web searches- in My Fitness Pal when you enter in your exercise you ‘earn’ those calories back in food. So it says my intake should be appx 1800 cals but if I workout it adds cals so I’m actually consuming anywhere from 2000-2500 cals in a day. Is this how it’s supposed to go- or should I consume 1800 regardless of exercise?
    I’m not looking to lose a lot of weight (maybe 10 lbs- have already lost 100 total)- I’ve been lifting for awhile now & need more muscle. I’m also a fitness instructor and have noticed since adding back unprocessed grains (was paleo) & increasing my cals (was at 1500) I’ve had way more energy and less burnout but I’m still struggling with this whole calorie business to keep my weight loss & energy balanced.
    Thanks for any advice! 🙂

    • That answer ALWAYS depends on your goals, if you are trying to drop another 10lbs I would NOT factor in the exercise. Personally I never factor in exercise because, to be honest, it’s too difficult to get an accurate measurement of how many calories you actually burned. My fitness pal is NOT the site I would follow for accurate measurement on how many calories I burned in a workout AND even heart rate monitors are subpar at best. So after all of that rant I would NOT factor in exercise in your dietary needs via myfitnesspal or any other tool.

      NOW… what I would say is pick one goal. If you want to add muscle then you’ll have to bump your calories up a bit until your adding about half a pound a week OR if you are wanting to lose the last 10lbs then cut your calories until your dropping about 1lbs a week (reason you want to go slow is so that you don’t want to cannibalize any muscle).

  14. Virginia Brooks says

    I’ve been wondering about IIFYM and how it all works. Thanks for breaking it down for us! I was completely lost. I’m one of those which “diet” should I do people.

  15. Virginia Brooks says

    Great blog…very informative…

  16. Hi Travis, great article. I really battle the weight. I have completely changed the way I eat and I do count calorie and I try to run 2 miles 4-5 times a week but The scale is not moving. I have lost 23 lbs since September. I’m 5’4 and weigh 173, my goal is to loose 50lbs by the time I’m 50 which will be in September. I did have my thyroid removed and take synthroid daily. What would you recommend?

    • I would always recommend to add in weight training as often as you can in addition to your running if you are not doing so already, and continue the path you are on. You are making great progress and at the current rate you’ll get your 50lb 🙂

  17. I enjoy reading your articles. You sound very intelligent and honest and not once does it seem like you are blowing smoke up anyone’s ass. Just the fact. I like it!

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