The Dream Body Equation – Analysis Part 1: Slight Caloric Deficit

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After years and years of doing the wrong thing, I feel confident that I’ve “hacked the code” to general health and well being.

But it truly did take a really long time.  It was frustrating, to say the least.

There’s nothing worse than starting a new regimen, getting results, stopping (for whatever reason), and watching that weight creep back on.

It makes you feel defeated.  Weak.  Pathetic.  Useless.

I’ve been there.  For years and years and years.  And it wasn’t for a lack of effort.

Those blessed with premium genetics seem to think the overweight are simply lazy, impulsive, and without will power.

And that’s the most ridiculous thing I’ve ever heard.

In actuality, the complete opposite is often true.

The overweight have plenty of willpower.  Lots of desire.  A huge amount of tenacity.  

So, what’s the difference?  Why haven’t they figured it out yet?

If this is you, if you haven’t quite figured out how to master the physical yet, or those of you who aren’t blessed with “stud DNA”, the secret can be found in ……………………the Dream Body Equation:

Slight Caloric Deficit


Heavy Resistance Training


Consistency Over Time

Your Dream Body

In my experience, being able to master those three variables will give you your dream body.  Period.

And I really want this to sink in, so it deserves repeating:

I am not talking about this will give you “20-less pounds” or “a new belt notch”.

I’m talking Your Dream Body.

Guys, I’m talking pecs and bis and lats and shredded abs.  I’m talking 8-packs and calf muscles.

I’m talking being “that guy” at the gym who won’t stop looking at his own abs in the mirror behind the dumbbells.  (Don’t be that guy, please.)

Girls, I’m talking about having that hourglass figure.

That J-Lo booty with Carrie Underwood’s legs, and Gwen Stefani’s mid-section.  (How’s that for the total package?)

I’m talking about being the girl that others look at and say, “Holy God, how did she get her body to look like that?”

And the best part?  You can probably smack around most of the dudes you encounter on a daily basis.

Ladies and gents, we are talking Your Dream Body.

A body you wouldn’t trade for anything in the world.  A body you can be proud of.  And most importantly – a body you can do ANYTHING to.

Once you learn this equation and how to manipulate its parts, you can begin to tinker with it in order to produce the desired effects on your own person.

This post is the first in a three-part series breaking down The Dream Body Equation.

Let’s take a very close look at that first variable:


Variable #1:  The Slight Caloric Deficit


So, how do we go about creating a deficit?  What does a properly designed deficit look like?  What exactly is a “deficit”?

A caloric deficit is defined, literally, as taking in less calories than you expand.  And that’s it.  

If this is done, then weight will be lost.

But we all know how to lose weight.  I’m assuming.  I’d imagine there isn’t one, single human being in our industrialized world who has never lost 10 pounds due to eating less and/or exercising more.  Don’t eat, lose weight, as easy as that.

But if only it were truly that simple.

If we decide to starve ourselves, bad things are going to inevitably happen.

Our hormonal profiles will get screwed up.  

Our bodies will rebel.  

Our Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR – or the baseline amount of calories we require) will drop – over time our bodies will go into starvation mode.

And please check out the “over time” part of the last sentence.  I’m talking after weeks of doing this.  Not a mere 16-hours as is recommended through intermittent fasting.

Ever seen somebody exasperated by their inability to lose any more weight?

They aren’t in the shape they desire, they want to continue to blast away the pounds, and they simply can’t.

They elliptical (bad choice), run, and cross-train themselves into the ground for hours on end, barely eating 600 calories of tuna fish or grilled chicken per day.

By all means, they should be dropping massive amounts of weight………..and they’re simply……………..not.

That sort of approach will work – at first.  Don’t believe me?  Go buy P90x.  Do it every day.  Eat 1,000 calories per day.  Do it for 90 days.  Weigh yourself.

Just kidding.  Please don’t do any of that.  It’s a terrible idea.  And it’s not sustainable long term.

I’m adding clients on a regular basis.  Do you know what the most popular program my current clients “used to do” is?  P90x.  

And that’s not a coincidence.

So, let’s calculate a “slight caloric deficit”.

First off, go here.  Plug in your information.  Set the “activity meter” to “Little/No Exercise”.  It’s better to underestimate than overestimate.  Hit calculate.

Round down to the nearest hundred to work with a nice, round number.

This is your estimated daily caloric maintenance level.  

Subtract 500.

Eat that many calories per day.

It’s really as simple as that.

Now, if you’ve been paying attention to the fitness community, you may have noticed a trend – “macro” counting.

Maybe you’ve heard me talk about “hitting your macros”.

While this is a fantastic idea for compliance, long-term success, and maximized results, it’s not 100% necessary for weight loss.  Weight loss will rely, primarily, on caloric intake.

Now, does this mean I think you should disregard your macros?  Not at all.

Especially when we begin talking about variable number two – Heavy Resistance Training.  Once we begin to look at that aspect of the Dream Body Equation, the macronutrient numbers become much more important.

So, how do we “set our macros”?  (This is a simplified approach.  A full, complete “how to” for macro setting is found here.)

1.  Protein –

Your protein should be no lower than 1 gram per pound of lean body mass (LBM), daily.

If you’d like to estimate, I give clients this article by Leigh Peele.  Most people UNDERestimate their body fat percentage by a significant amount.  Which is totally fine.

There’s almost no such thing as too much protein – especially when on a “cut” (trying to lose weight.)  Find your approximate body fat percentage.

Multiply your current weight by this percentage in decimal form.  (Example:  I weigh 230 and I’m 10% body fat.  230 x 0.1 = 23 pounds.)  This is approximately how much fat you have on your body.  Subtract your fat from your total weight.

This number is considered your “LBM”.  It will be useful for our purposes.  Protein has 4 calories per gram.

2.  Carbohydrates –

Your carbohydrate number can be relatively varied.

Usually it’s seen as “the rest” of the calories after you’ve met your protein and fat.

In general, you want to have a few carbs before your workouts and most of them after your workouts in order to facilitate growth and recovery.  They aren’t needed much, if at all, on days you are not working out.

I personally wouldn’t go any lower than 0.5 grams per pound of LBM on training days.  

If on an aggressive cut, carbs can be “set” at zero on rest days.

(**Author’s note:  Although carbs are “0”, that’s pretty much impossible – especially if you’re eating lots of veggies, as I instruct my clients to.  “0” simply means no starches, pastas, breads, sugars, fruit, etc.  There will certainly be a few carbs in your meals.  It’s unavoidable.)

Carbohydrates have 4 calories per gram.

3.  Fat –

Your fat number remains fairly constant.

Fat tends to be higher when you are actively “cutting” – mostly due to the overweight being insulin resistant (bad) and enjoying the satiety (fullness) that fats provide.  

Fat also tends to be higher on rest days due to the lack of carbohydrate calories and lower on training day due to the extra carbohydrates needed to fuel and recover from your workouts.

A good starting point seems to be around 0.5 grams per pound of LBM on rest days, and “the rest” on the workout days.  (Your protein and carb numbers have already been set on training days if you followed along on #1 and #2.)  Fat has 9 calories per gram.

So, lastly, what constitutes “slight”?  For most people, I wouldn’t aim much more than that 500 calorie per day deficit.

 That equates to 3,500 calories per week, or roughly a pound.

If you’ve got a good deal to lose (>25% body fat for males or >40% for females), you might be able to eek out 1.5 or even 2 pounds per week.

But after a few months, it’s good advice to taper off even that large of a deficit.  But a deficit of around a pound per week is doable, sustainable, and with a properly designed eating plan, will nourish you and keep your hormones firing as they should.

The goal is always to strip the fat and keep the muscle.

Counting macros is the first piece of the puzzle that ensures this occurs.

Our body needs proper amounts of each macronutrient – protein, carbohydrates, and fat.  After you set your macros, check your caloric percentages.

None of the macronutrients should compose any lower than 20% of your weekly caloric intake.

If one of them is lower than that, you need to adjust accordingly.  It’s not fashionable, but moderation is key.

Gentlemen, you won’t have to worry about any muscle being lost as long as you train hard and heavy and you keep that deficit right around 1 pound per week of fat loss (3,500 calories).

It isn’t until you start to venture into the single digits that you will even need to worry about it.  When does that happen?  Right around the time your girl starts asking you to wash her fine unmentionables on your abdominal region.

For real.  If that happens, let me know.

Follow these instructions, set those macros, use some trial and error, and master the first part of the Dream Body Equation.  It’s arguably the most integral part.

Check back often, as my next post breaks down variable number 2:  Heavy Resistance Training.  You won’t want to miss it.  If my commercial, big-box gym is any indication, many of you need some SERIOUS pointers………….




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