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Hey, Mitko here and today I want to discuss a topic that pops up quite a bit when it comes to fat loss.

More precisely, I want to clear up any confusion you might have regarding the mechanism of fat loss in order to answer the question “can you get lean without working out” once and for all.

Can You Get Lean Without Working Out?

Ask any person you know how to get rid of the beer belly and get a six-pack, and they’ll tell you that successful fat loss efforts consist of a good diet and regular training.

And they’d be right. For most of us it’s intuitively obvious that if we want to get in the best shape of our lives it would take a combination of proper nutrition and lots of exercise. But do we really know why that is the optimal route to a great physique? And can you get the same results with just a proper diet?

In order to answer these questions we’ll have to take a look at how weight (and fat) loss works. Don’t worry, I won’t go super scientific and nerdy, but rather give you the easy-to-understand, simplified version. I don’t want to bore you to death after all 😉

Anyway, in order to lose weight and in order to make sure you preserve your lean muscle mass as much as possible, what you need to do is:
1) enter a caloric deficit i.e. burn more calories than you consume
2) consume at least 0.82 g of protein per pound of body weight (i.e. 1.8 g of protein per kg of body weight)

So once you’re at a significant enough caloric deficit (10%-20% below maintenance), you will start losing fat.

Now, there are 3 ways to go into a caloric deficit: either eat less, work out more – or both.

So the answer to the big question is a resounding “yes”. You, in fact, can shed the fat and get lean without working out if you get your nutrition right.

Next I want to discuss why you might still decide to add exercise to your fat loss efforts.

Weight Loss With Training vs. Weight Loss Without Training

can you lose weight without working outAs stated above, in order to kick-start the fat loss process you need to go into a caloric deficit. To do that you’d obviously have to restrict your caloric intake and that, of course, would bring along some hunger issues even if you’ve set up your nutrition right (i.e. eating lots of protein since it’s the most satiating macronutrient, eating lots of colored vegetables since they take up a lot of space but are low in calories per gram, etc).

On the other hand, you could just go to the gym regularly and that way you’d burn some of those calories instead of having to restrict your caloric intake too tightly. See the point?

But the benefits of exercise (resistance training in particular) when it comes to fat loss don’t stop there. Hitting the weights at the gym regularly (along with eating sufficient amounts of protein) will help you preserve the largest amount of lean muscle mass possible while your weight drops.

Also, the more muscle you have, the higher your basal metabolic rate (BMR) is. Simply said, your BMR is the amount of calories that you burn in a 24-hour period by doing absolutely nothing. So the more muscle you have, the more calories you burn just by existing, again meaning you don’t have to restrict your caloric intake that tightly. Plus muscle makes you look better anyway!

And let’s not forget all of the other benefits of exercise such as a boosted immune system, more energy, etc. To sum up, you’ll basically look and feel better – in a shorter period of time – if you do decide to add exercise to your fat loss efforts.

In conclusion…

While you can shed the fat and get lean just by dieting, obviously adding in resistance training to the mix is the optimal way to go. Of course, you should make this decision after taking into account your priorities in life. If you’ve got a business to run and have a newborn to look after, and chiseled abs aren’t such a big priority for you, but you still want to lose the beer belly and get lean, then it would be totally understandable to stick to proper dieting and leave the weight training for another time.

On the other hand, if you’re very into having a jaw-dropping physique and want results fast, then obviously you’ve gotta be ready to sweat it out at the gym and put in the work.

And of course, whichever category you might find yourself in, I’d be glad to lend a helping hand with your nutrition – and training.

Stay strong,
Mitko Kazakov

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