The two previous years were not the best time for weight loss and building muscle. Pandemic restrictions at the gyms and high stress and anxiety levels took their toll. Many people have moved their “Lose weight” goal from 2021 New Year resolutions to the 2022 to-do list.
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To help you succeed in the year to come, we have composed a comprehensive plan for weight loss. See our recommendations on diet, supplements, and workouts, and get the body of your dream!
The peculiarity of weight loss for men is that they pay more attention to the body fat percentage than a number on the scales. As Unimeal coaches and dietitians say, based on their experience, women’s requests often sound like “lose 10-20 pounds,” and men usually want to “get abs” or “look shredded.”
What’s the healthy body fat percentage that will reveal your muscles but will be not too low for your health? The essential(1) body fat among men is 2-5%. However, this is not enough for good health. It is considered that a male should be at least 8% body fat to have all his inner functions in proper condition. In actual fact, this number often should be even higher.
Overall, 15-20% is considered a good body fat percentage for men. With this amount of fat, you will have a body composition that will allow you to show off some muscle. But it won’t make your diet overly restrictive. Keep these numbers in mind to set realistic goals for your weight loss journey.
There are two approaches towards fat loss and muscle growth: An old-school cut and bulk cycling(2) used by bodybuilders and a more modern body recomposition(3). Both can be used as a men's weight loss workout routine. What should you choose?
Some fitness coaches state that particular individuals are more prone to see benefits from a body recomposition approach. These are:
If you’re one of them, try the body recomposition routine. Along with lifting weights and working out, you will have to follow the calorie cycling protocol. As a rule, this means that you will have to eat in a 10% calorie deficit on days when you don’t work out and consume 15% more calories on gym days.
Cutting and bulking cycles are simultaneously more manageable and more challenging to follow. You will have several months’ periods (usually eight to twelve weeks) of cutting, aka, eating in a calorie deficit. And if you decide to build more muscle, you will have bulking periods when you eat in a calorie surplus.
Body recomposition doesn’t force you to be in a calorie deficit for a prolonged period. This means that you will have lower chances to break off your diet, and you won’t feel as deprived as on a traditional low-calorie diet. On the other hand, body recomposition might take you more time to lose fat.
You will lose fat faster during the cutting period of cut-and-bulk cycling, but you will most likely feel exhausted and won’t build muscle.
Summing up, body recomposition might be a more sustainable approach if you want to lose fat and build muscle at the same time. Cutting your calories will be a better option if your main goal is to lose weight fast.
Any kind of physical activity boosts your metabolism by increasing the number of calories you need every day. However, some exercises are more beneficial for fat loss, and some are helpful in building muscle.
Aerobic exercises like running, biking, or swimming are very efficient for burning calories. But instead of traditional cardio sessions, you can also do some sports like dancing, boxing, kayaking, or hiking. Or, you can incorporate cardio elements into your heavy lifting workouts. Aerobic exercises speed up your heart rate and make you burn more calories than during heavy lifting sessions.
If you don’t want to cut your calories too much, you can incorporate more cardio sessions into your routine to lose fat faster. In interviews, Hollywood celebrities with perfect bodies tell that they do half an hour of fasted cardio every day. That is not easy. You can just walk more, and this will stimulate your weight loss.
Compound movements are exercises that incorporate large muscle groups in your body. Among the most popular compound movements you should add to your workout routine are:
To make your muscles grow, apply the progressive overload(4) approach to lifting. This means you should progressively increase the weights you’re lifting week after week and month after month.
Isolated exercises work on particular joints or muscles. They should comprise 20% of your workout, while the other 80% should be given to compound movements. Isolated exercises burn fewer calories than compound movements. However, they can be safer, as they’re less technical and usually incorporate machines. They’re also recommended to people who have weak joints or injuries. These are some examples of isolated exercises:
Pay special attention to isolated exercises that make your joints stronger. Do hyperextension to work on your lower back, use adduction and abduction machines to improve the mobility of your pelvis. Isolated exercises are not only about a good physique. They’re about the health of your joints and their mobility.
The answer to this question highly depends on your fitness level and the amount of time you can spend in the gym.
The only thing we highly recommend is don’t do seven workouts a week right off the bat. Your body needs to get accustomed to the new load of exercises. If you start working out as a professional athlete without the proper background, you have a high chance of getting injured. Start slowly and take some time to learn the appropriate technique.
Monday: Leg workout, 30 minutes and 30 minutes of running on a treadmill
Tuesday: Chest and quadriceps workout (push day) for 40 minutes and 30 minutes of stationary bike
Wednesday: Back, glutes, and hamstring workout (pull day) for 40 minutes and 20 minutes of rowing machine
Thursday: Rest day or some low-intensity exercises like long walking or yoga class
Friday: Leg workout for 30 minutes and 30 minutes of running on a treadmill
Saturday: Whole body workout (push-pull day) for 60 minutes
Sunday: Long walk or a one-hour running or biking session
Getting a shredded body is more about nutrition than working out. Of course, physical activity is vital for your health and building muscles. However, the world won’t see your six-pack if your body fat percentage is too high.
To lose weight, you should pay attention to your eating habits. You can lose fat only if you burn more calories than you consume. If you want to maintain or build muscle while losing fat, you will also have to count your macros.
A massive randomized trial(5) on protein consumption has demonstrated that people get the best results in building muscle when eating 2.4-3.4 g of protein per one kilogram of body weight a day. On average, this equates to 30-40% of calories coming from protein.
Traditional approaches in nutrition and dietary guidelines(6) from the WHO offers to eat 0.8 to 1 gram of fat per day to stay healthy. This amount will comprise 20-35% of calories coming from fat.
The rest of your calories can come from carbohydrates. Remember that carbs are crucial for good performance at the gym.
Low-carb diets and the keto diet are not only buzz words; they are truly efficient for weight loss. However, cutting off carbs is not necessary for weight loss. You will lose weight without severe restrictions. Just create a slight calorie deficit and stay consistent with your diet.
Here are some examples of breakfasts, lunches, and dinners you can try to keep your protein intake high and control your calories.
Studies(7) show that a high-protein breakfast is a tool to manage your weight. It reduces your hunger and can decrease your daily calorie intake. Whatever breakfast you choose, add some protein sources to it. Here are some examples of high-protein breakfasts:
Whatever meal you choose, try to fill half of your plate with vegetables, a quarter of it with lean protein sources, and another quarter of your plate with starchy vegetables or grains. Combine these ingredients in different ways, and you will create an immense amount of ideas for lunches and dinners:
Pay attention to the amount of oil you use while cooking and the nutrition facts of your salad dressing. Fats are essential for health, but they are very high in calories. That is why it’s better to bake your meat or fish instead of roasting it and to make your own salad dressing instead of buying a highly-processed mix of sugar, salt, preservative, and fats.
First of all, you don’t need supplements if you’re not an elite athlete who has three workouts a day.
You don’t need supplements if you eat a balanced diet filled with protein, amino acids, vitamins, and minerals.
However, in some cases, supplements might help. We’re talking about 5-10% improvement in particular performance indicators. Here are some safe, well-studied supplements with proven efficacy.
Casein, whey protein, or chicken breasts works the same on your body. They provide you with building blocks for your muscles.
Does protein make your muscle bigger if you don’t work out? Nope.
Is it necessary if you eat enough protein with food? Also, nope(8).
However, powder protein in dietary supplements is a very affordable source of protein. It is also a must-have for vegans who don’t consume animal protein and can’t get enough of it from plant-based sources.
Caffeine is proven(10) to be efficient in improving performance in endurance and high-intensity sports. More studies are needed to indicate the protocols of taking caffeine as a dietary supplement; however, you can sort out if caffeine works for you by drinking a cup of espresso or americano before your workout.
Branched-chained amino acids might help(11) with recovery after intense workouts. However, if you consume chicken, eggs, or fish, you probably don’t need them as a supplement, as you already have enough, thanks to your diet.
Note that nutrition supplements do not fall under the same harsh certification procedure as drugs and other medical products. Always consult your doctor before trying dietary supplements. Be sure to buy only from well-known producers and avoid proprietary blends that don’t disclose their formulas to customers.