Join 220,000+ Fitness Fans

Share your name and email and I'll send you a FREE copy of my eBook - The 10 Forgotten Rules of Weight Loss. Plus, you'll get exclusive articles not found on the blog.

The Ultimate Weight Loss Cheat Sheet

woman holding jump ropeIf you’re ready to lose weight, but feel overwhelmed with all the info out there, I have you covered. Below is a weight loss cheat sheet you can refer to often whenever you are starting to feel confused.

Whenever you need some reassurance that you’re doing everything right, pull this out and give it a read. It will keep you focused on what’s important so that you can continue on the path towards reaching your goals.

The Ultimate Weight Loss Cheat Sheet

  1. Set calories to 10-12 times your body weight. Start with the higher number and come down only when necessary. Check out the BodyMedia FIT armband for a more accurate intake.
  2. Eat .6 – .8g per pound of body mass in protein.
  3. Make sure you are getting in your essential fatty acids (EFAs). Here are 33 surprising health benefits of EFAs and the foods that have them.
  4. Healthy fats should make up at least 20-30% of your calories for optimal hormone production, vitamin assimilation, and other vital body functions.
  5. Carbohydrate intakes will vary based on activity levels. 50% of calories is a good starting point, but if you are less active or have a sensitivity to carbs, dropping down to 40% of calories might be necessary.
  6. Try to eat veggies at every meal.
  7. Eat the number of meals a day that best fits into your lifestyle. If 3 suits you better – great. If 5 is sustainable, have at it.
  8. Focus on changing the quality of your food before cutting calories. Until you have 80-90% of your nutrition coming from whole foods, it can be detrimental to cut calories to an already bad diet.
  9. Pay attention to portion sizes.
  10. If you are carb sensitive, try timing your carb intake to your first meal of the day and post workout. Read more about how to implement nutrient timing.
  11. Plan to lose .5-1% body fat every 1-2 weeks, with the lower number being more realistic.
  12. Don’t stress if you gain weight at the beginning of an exercise program. Intracellular water retention can cause weight gain even if you are losing fat. Working out but gaining weight? Here’s why.
  13. Don’t focus on weight loss. Buy some body fat calipers and measure your fat loss progress. Here’s a cheap pair of calipers for you to use.
  14. Make cheat meals work for you – not against you. Eat what you want, but don’t wipe out a week’s worth of progress in a single day. Here are your cheat meal guidelines.
  15. Water should make up 90% of your liquid intake.
  16. Surround yourself with people that support your goals. Block out the negativity and ignore the criticism.
  17. Remember that weight loss is a side effect of living a healthy lifestyle. Focus on being a healthier you.
  18. Don’t compare yourself to others. This is a personal journey. Strive to be a better YOU each day.
  19. Choose exercise you enjoy. Don’t fall into the trap of forcing yourself to do exercise you don’t like. Read the 6 biggest exercise mistakes you’re making.
  20. Make small changes to your lifestyle. Pick 1-2 unhealthy habits to change at a time, and keep working at them until they are healthy habits. Then pick 1-2 more. In time, they add up.
  21. Be patient. Your weight will not be a straight line down. It will be a zig-zag from point A to B, but given enough time, B will be lower.
  22. Don’t be afraid to fail. It’s going to happen. Use these failures to learn and make yourself stronger. See why failure in fitness is necessary.
  23. Work out with intensity. Force your body to make changes. Here are 9 reasons you should increase your workout intensity.
  24. Find a way to add resistance to your exercise. Building muscle makes the weight loss process 10 times easier.
  25. Discover your relationship with food. Find ways to cope with your emotions outside of eating.
  26. Work at overcoming your processed food addiction. Restricting processed foods to 10% of your diet will net you 90% of your results.
  27. Get in the habit of reading food labels – specifically the ingredients section. Here’s your guide to reading labels.
  28. Forget about supplements. They aren’t needed. Put your money towards whole foods instead.
  29. Use compound exercises whenever possible. They are the most efficient muscle builders and fat loss movements. Find out why compound exercises are the key to building muscle.
  30. Don’t forget to rest and recover.
  31. Don’t push too much too fast. Work your way up to more exercise. Let your body adapt to the new workloads.
  32. Eat beef, poultry, fish, eggs, dairy, legumes, tubers, fruits, veggies, nuts, seeds, and whole grains. Any of these 100 healthy foods are good to eat.
  33. Your weight might not change for weeks. Take solace in the fact that you are still making great changes to your body from the inside out.
  34. Try not to get so caught up in the day to day aspects of weight loss. Getting fit and healthy is a rest-of-your-life thing. Try to see the big picture.
  35. Last but not least – smile. You can do this. The only thing that’s holding you back is your thoughts. Change your thoughts and you’ll change your world.
  • Mathilde Bollier

    hy i think im really stupid but i dont get it when you say “you need 8-1g of protéin/per lean body mass” so:
    -does that mean 8 gr(thats sounds too much) or 1gr of protéin?
    -i’m so lost, about protein needs, i ve seen evrything from 0.8gr to 2gr
    thanks for your help ;)

    • Coach Calorie

      Hi Mathilde, you’ll need to measure your lean body mass first using body fat calipers. If you are 150 pounds with 20% body fat, that means you have 120 pounds of lean body mass. From there you just multiply the number by .8-1 to get protein grams.

      I don’t like using weight because body fat compositions can wildly vary, which could mean some people end up eating way too much protein.

  • shari l.

    hi!! i have been doing a life style change (not a diet) for 18 months, i have lost 22lbs and went from a size 9-10 to a 6. My question is, over the last month and a half i am slowly gaining , up 3 lbs then down 1 then up 5 and down 0. what the heck?? it is so frustrating after working so hard with exercise and watch what i eat. i am so after of gaining anymore?!?

  • Tammy Hockman Snapp

    Just found you website and love it and already put it in my fav folder! Thanks for all the great advice. I need to learn not to beat myself up when I gain and not lose!

  • kel

    i have a general fitness question. In regards to being sore the day after working out (not from an actual injury, but more from not being used to working out), is it better to work out again the next day? Or give your muscles a break until they aren’t as sore?

  • Jodi

    First off, Thank you!!
    2nd, I love how you ended this list….Last but not least smile. My thoughts ARE holding me back.
    I recently thought of going to see a therapist about my relationship with food. I have lost 80lbs in the last 2 1/2 yrs, but the last 3 months started putting weight back on due to stress. I’m having a hard time getting back on track and getting in to my positive mind-frame. I just read your article “overcoming your food addiction”, then talked with my husband, cried a bit and now made the decision. I WILL be better at taking action and I WILL smile and I WILL change my thoughts.
    Thanks so much for your thoughts on everything!

  • kpaquette0831

    Hi CoachCal,
    I have to say I LOVE reading your blogs! Every morning at work- I open my email account excitedly anticipating the new days post from YOU! You offer solace, comfort, encouragement, and KNOWLEDGE! I LOVE to read everything you have to say! I have been on my life-change journey for almost a year now and it has been a struggle but it has been a wonderful, challenging, awesome one! I have learned SO much- and you have been such a huge part of that! I wish you could post more than just one entry a day! Have you written a book yet? Have you thought of writing a book? I know I have so many questions in my head that I want to ask you but right now I can’t think of them.. I just want to express to you how grateful I am for your wise words and your guidance. After work this last Friday, I went grocery shopping to get a few items from one of the guest blogs off Deanna’s list of “6 blog sites that will change your life” (amazing by the way, I made the homemade wheat mac and cheese and homemade chicken nuggets from 100 days of Real Food- INCREDIBLE!!) and I couldn’t help but sneak a peak at the grocery carts that whizzed past me. So many people had magazines that read “detox yourself thin” or “reduce your thighs and spot fat reduce your gut” and they had things (not food) like low fat frozen pizza and fat free stouffers frozen dinners… THEY NEED TO READ YOUR BLOG!!! THAT IS NOT FOOD!!!! Food should be untouched by man until you cook it! Food should be delicous and nourishing. Food should NOT be beige!! CoachCal, please keep writing- every day… Keep doing what you do because you have reached and are reaching SO many people- including me… and there are STILL so many people left to reach. People who are trying to starve themselves on 800 or 900 calorie a day diets filled with low fat and fat free crap that is not doing one tiny bit of good for their body, heart, or mind.. People who are stuffing their faces because they are miserable and they just don’t know better… People who are lost in this world looking for a better way. People willing to try something new but just don’t know what the correct way to go about getting HEALTHY and getting FIT is… There are few people with something GOOD to say in this world. Keeping talking Coach Cal…

    • Coach Calorie

      What a nice comment. I appreciate you taking the time to let me know how the site is helping you. It’s comments like these that keep me pushing forward.

      And yes, there is a book in the works. The goal is to have it published this year. :)

      Thanks again!

    • Luana

      I love what kpaquette wrote!! It sums up my thoughts exactly!!! I’m not scared to eat anymore knowing what I know now thanks to the coach!!

  • Coach Calorie

    Hi Jodi, I love what you just said. I know you are going to make a change. :)

  • Coach Calorie

    Thanks for bookmarking the site Tammy. Hope it helps you on your journey!

  • Coach Calorie

    Hard to say Shari without knowing the complete picture. Has anything changed in your life in the last month?

  • Coach Calorie

    I’d let them rest. In time your muscles won’t be as sore and you’ll be able to go more frequent. Until then, work your way up to more exercise.

  • Elly333

    Hi CoachCal,
    I have a question about my personal fitness. I have been counting calories for several months now and lost about 20 lbs and now (going off simple tape measuring methoids) have about 7% body fat. Recently I have been eating about 1200 calories a day (usually 20g of healthy fats, 190g carbs mostly from starchy vegetables and fruits and 80-100g of protein) I weigh 110lbs am 5’3 and 20 years old. I walk on the treadmill at a high incline (burns roughly 500 cals) 5-6 times a week and do 15 to 20 min of weight training about 4 days a week. Recently I have been feeling very easily fatigued, simply walking to class or climbing up steps can be exhausting.I don’t feel like i’m starving myself or not eating enough (if I’m hungry I’ll eat something) and I’m getting plenty of sleep. Is my fatigue the result of malnutrition or is it something else. I have a very slow metabolism and I’m afraid increasing my calories too much may lead to weight gain. Please help!

  • Diana


    This site is truly life-changing- thank you. I have 2 questions from my reading…Recently I started implementing intermittent fasting (conservative- 16/8) and I have been eating between noon and 8 p.m.. If I wanted to start working out in the mornings, would it be better to eat earlier in the day or can I still eat between noon, which fits best into my schedule? Also, does decaf green tea increase insulin sensitivity like its non-decaf counterpart? Thank you very much for your help.

    • Coach Calorie

      Hi Diana, in a best case scenario you’d have the eating window shortly after your workout. If IF doesn’t fit into your lifestyle, don’t force it. However you choose to eat, it needs to be sustainable long term.

      As to the tea, I’m not 100% sure. That would take some additional research on my part.

  • uigs

    I love your articles! They are really going to help me move my weight loss and fitness goals forward. Before finding your site, I lost 24 lbs. slowly, 1/2 lb a week on avg. with walking and changing my nutrition. I have another 25 or so to lose but like you say, I will focus on body fat % because that is what I realized I was most dissatisfied with. I had some tests done and my cortisol was on the high level of normal, testosterone on the low level, and glucose normal but close to being pre-diabetic. So I am learning a lot in reading the articles as they relate to improving these numbers and my body. What are your thoughts on the kettlebell workout? I joined a 3 month group class for 2x a week and it’s intense so it’s just 30 min. It was a great workout though and the teacher is also a martial arts instructor so it’s no games! I used a 17 lb. weight but for some sets where I am weaker I used an 8 lb. weight. I am new but as I get stronger I can use heavier bells. Do you think this will be good for fat loss and the muscle building/toning that you discuss? My walking routine is about 2 miles at a time 4-6 days a week. I also take yoga 1x week, and am adding in pilates 1x a week. I like that for in-between the kettlebell and for de-stressing but I find it also is toning even if not muscle building. I appreciate your articles and thoughts on this. Thanks,

  • Regina

    I just found your website & love the practical advice! I’m trying to lose the dreaded last 10-20# (lost 75 a many years ago and I still want better body composition). More important than the scale number, I want to build muscle and lose body fat. I’m interested in the suggestion to eat 10-12x body weight. I notice this number doesn’t use age in the equation. I’m 52 yrs old, female, 29% BF, HIIT 2x/wk, weightlifting 3x/wk. At my age, do you still recommend 10-12x body weight to lose fat?

  • Coach Calorie

    If I were you, I’d up my calories to around 1700 for a couple of weeks and back off a little on the exercise. Build up some energy and recover, and then push forward again.

  • Coach Calorie

    If you enjoy kettle workouts, and you can make them full body and intense, then by all means continue doing them. Pay attention to your nutrition and you’ll reach your goals. Good luck!

  • Coach Calorie

    Yes I do. Realize that those numbers are just starting points, but they are fairly accurate unless you are very overweight. Start high and come down as necessary.

  • Crystal Foster

    Hi coach cal! I recently signed up for your emails & love the great advice. I wanted to see if you thought I was on the right track to decrease my bf percentage. I lost all of my pregnancy weight plus an extra 7 about a year ago. I did this by restricting my daily cals to 1200 a day along with lots of cardio & light weights (not a lot of fun). I only had 5-10 pounds more to go to get to my goal and decided to start eating 90% paleo, crossfit 3x per week & 1 day of sprints. All at around 1300 cals per day with 2 cheat meals per week. 6 months of this and I’ve gained 5 pounds. I know this could be muscle but I constantly feel bloated and my clothes are snug. I read your article about increasing calories and started to increase my cals to 16-1700 per day 2 weeks ago. No results yet but I’m sticking to it. I’m currently 5’7″, 135 pounds with 21% body fat. Any advice and am I on the right track?

  • Coach Calorie

    Hi Crystal, what were the results of your increased calories? If you raised them up and didn’t experience a weight gain or loss, then I’d drop them back down to your previous levels and see if that picks things back up. Sometimes raising your calories for a while can “reset” your metabolism and prime it for when you drop cals again. Keep cycling between those levels when you feel things are stalling out. Pay close attention to those cheat meals too!

  • Stev Lee

    Morning Coach.

    12 x my body weight works out at 2,016 a day for me, i’m 6’1″ 168 lbs and recently toned up and lost 21lbs consuming 1850 calories a day.
    The figure above seems a little low for me maintain my weight, does metabolism come in to play and lifestyle (eg I sit on my backside all day at work)?

    Also, i’m trying to put on weight (muscle would be nice) and am training 4-5 days a week, so far the measuring tape is showing progress but have only put on 3lbs in two months, this is on 2,760 calories a day, which again using the calculation above would mean I should be piling on pounds,

    I follow your site and agree with most of what you say and am a fan, I just need a friendly nudge and some advice on the calorie calculator because as yet I can’t find the figures that seem to match my needs

    many thanks

  • Alex Byarugaba

    You say forget about supplements, bit I lost 1 inch off my waist in just one week while taking probiotics 50 billion without changing anything else.

    • Coach Calorie

      Hi Alex, I didn’t say they don’t work, only that they are unnecessary. 1 inch through a probiotic in a week is a lot. How much of that was fat and how much was water? Did you continue losing inches from your waist using that supplement? I consider probiotics a health supplement and not a weight loss supplement. The latter is completely unnecessary and can cause more harm than good.

  • kpekk

    Thanks for another great motivational and informative article! I just started reading your blog after doing an internet search for ‘How to lose 10 pounds in a month’ and have been inspired by everything I’ve read. I’m using a food tracking app and your suggestions for HIT workouts- I’m really energized after reading your articles!

  • Coach Calorie

    Hi Stev, the 12 x body weight is for weight loss, not maintenance. Maintenance is usually in the 16 x body weight range.

    If you’re trying to gain weight, you can go up to around 20 x body weight, but realize building muscle is a slow process. 3 lbs in two months (if it’s all muscle) is great. That’s 18 pounds in a year, which is amazing.

  • Mandy

    What is lean body mass when figuring protein needs?

  • Coach Calorie

    Lean body mass is the amount of non-fat mass you have on your body. For example, if you are 200 pounds with 20% body fat, you have 40lbs of fat on you and 160lbs of lean body mass.

    200 * 20% = 40 lbs fat

    200lbs – 40lbs of fat = 160lbs LBM

  • B.

    Hy,Great tips! I have a question tough. When you mean set calorie goals to 10-12 times body weight you mean in lbs or kg’s ( I live in europe)?

    • Coach Calorie


  • KC

    Ummmm… Are you serious about 10-12x body weight? I’m 46 yr old female….I weigh 210 and trying so hard to lose weight. I’m consuming 1250-1350 calories right now and struggling b/c I feel it is too high. I’m comfortable at about 900 a day but have been told strongly by several people how bad that is for me and my already sluggish metabolism. But up to 2000 cals a day just freaks me out. :)

  • Coach Calorie

    Yes, you should be able to lose weight on 10-12x body weight. However, if you have been eating sub 1000 calories for a long time, you might have damaged your metabolism. To fix it, I’d suggest you check out this article –

  • Stef

    I have had the same issue! I too lost just about 80lbs over a similar period of time through a slimming club and hard training (weights, circuits, spinning, zumba, running & walking) and over the past few months began binge eating. As a result of this and overeating in general I have regained about 20lbs. I really don’t want to go back to where I was but my mentality is so negative right now I don’t enjoy training like I used to. This means I train less which means my mood is awful! I eat, I feel bad, I eat some more, I feel worse… vicious circle. Anyway I have been seeing a counsellor and I’m slowly coming out of the depression. But it is slow and I’m not very patient! I just want to fit into my clothes and start enjoying life again!!!