T Nation

Personal Weight Loss Help


So I’m a big guy 6’2" 280lb 30-40% bf. I’ve been lifting for about 4 years now and can tell by my strength that it is working, but I do look fatter. My Dr wants me on a 2200 calorie, low carb, high cardio diet. Is this really what is right for me? I am 38 and He said my health is great I just need to lose the fat.


What does your daily consumption look like? Write out what you eat daily.

I’d also download my fitness pal or Lose it and track your daily consumption for the next three days. Don’t do anything different diet wise. That way you have a bench mark for where you are at.

I’d then take a systematic approach - each step lasting a week or so - removing unnecessary crap.

  1. Soda or other non-alcoholic drinks that have calories (replace with water)
  2. Desserts
  3. Replace fast food with better food choices
  4. Drop alcoholic drinks to once a week and limit to lower calorie options (whisk(e)y, wine, etc)
  5. Reduce Calorie intake

For cardio, no harm in adding 20-30 minutes of incline walks, twice a week, keeping the heart rate between 110-130


A few things jump out to me here:

  1. 30-40% bodyfat isn’t great health. It mightn’t be killing you right this minute, and currently your body might have its shit together (blood pressure, resting heart rate, cholesterol levels, etc) but over time that’ll change. So your doc is spot on, you need to lose the fat because it’s a timebomb.

  2. Setting calories that low to start is a bad idea because it’ll suck horribly. You’ll drop weight fast for a short time and then stall. At 280 lbs your maintenance is between 3900 calories/day and 4700 calories/day without taking into account body composition. Nonetheless, even then 3500 cal/day would very likely kick you into losing weight slowly. Now, your lean body mass is around 182 lbs (280x0.65, given your bodyfat is 30-40%). Maintenance for your LBM is between 2500 and 3100 calories. That 2200 calories is a significant deficit even for your LBM. If you drop your calories to that low a level, it becomes a free for all in terms of what your body uses for energy and you’ll most likely end up losing muscle almost as much fat.

  3. High cardio is probably unnecessary. If you can walk briskly for 30 minutes each day on top your barbell work, you should be sweet. As you get used to it, add time, pace or load; or start adding in a session of shorter, higher intensity work. Keep training to get stronger, but try shortening your rest between sets and maybe do some higher rep work at moderately heavy loads too.

Low carb may well be the way to go, because it does seem to work well for people with higher bodyfat. Personally I would think if you set you calories at 3400 per day to start with, you’ll be in a good position. That’s 500 calories below the low end maintenance for your scale weight and not much above the top end maintenance for your LBM. This gives you PLENTY of room to adjust calories down without risking muscle retention.

Very broadly, I think you would do well to start at 3500 calories and get around 70% of them from lean meat, vegetables and good fats (olive oil, eggs, avocados, etc). That other 30% get from complex carbs (oats, rice, yams, potato, etc). On average, shoot for your scale weight to go down about a pound a week. When that stops happening, drop your calories to 3300 per day, and when that stops your scale weight dropping go down to 3100 calories/day, etc. Use the mirror and tape measure too. If you look leaner and your waist is smaller, you’re on the right track even if the scale isn’t moving.

Once you hit around 20-25% bodyfat you might find you do better upping carbs and dropping fat, but you may not need to.


I would suggest some sort of low impact interval training (like a bike or Elliptical) rather than steady state cardio. It will save you time and will keep your strength. Also cutting carbs too much will limit what you can do in the gym.


I eat a pretty steady diet as is and went to the Dr because I was still gaining weight.


Sample day would be shake after workout 7 am then 2 boiled eggs and an orange with ZMA and fish oil around 9 then two turkey patties and a bag of streamable broccoli for lunch around noon I’ll have 22 almonds and an apple at 3 and dinner is meat green veggies and rice or sweet potato. I take in a gallon of water a day and try not to eat after 7


Not sure what kind of Doctor recommended that caloric intake to you, but that’s pretty much a “starvation diet”, which is counterproductive after your initial quick weight loss. On a “starvation diet”, your body goes into “starvation mode”, which does not lead to long-term, sustainable weight loss.

Use this as a better estimator of how low you should go: http://www.bmi-calculator.net/bmr-calculator/

I like to keep it simple: no liquid calories, no dessert.

And when you are on a very limited, just above maintenance diet, pretty much every food you ingest needs to be “nutritious”.

Eat less, move more. Stan Efferding (google him) very recently did a YouTube rant on this, very good overall insight.

Keep your plan simple, so you will follow it, and most importantly, be consistent with it.


Feel you brother. Quick glance estimate at calories on your food says you prob eat enough. Good maintenance. Any junk or eating out?

Anyway, the problem is you need more than maintenance strategies to lose this weight.

You should consider simply adding in some daily cardio. Like everyday, even just a walk.

I just dropped 30# in 2 years, it took some oomph with cardio but worth it


You are gaining weight at 280 lbs with this food intake? Either you’re leaving stuff out, or your portions must be gargantuan.


I appreciate all the guidance. My diet has been decent but not perfect. I’ve been on a 3000 cal diet for a couple weeks before seeing the Dr in the first place. I was gaining weight at that. Maybe I should have been eating more and adding in some intense walking Or HIIT.


If you want to lose weight you gotta exercise everyday. Not everyday is pedal to the metal, but something everyday.


How long have you been eating this way?

What does not perfect mean? Does that mean perfect 5 days a week, but on the weekend you’re not? Or a meal, couple times a week that isn’t great?

Do you drink soda? Or calorie containing drinks?


Current PRs? (Out of curiosity, and for context).

A high cardio-low calorie combo is a great recipe to end up flabby and weak. That’s why it’s sometimes necessary to just nod 'n smile when doctors give diet/exercise advice.

I agree that we could use more info to give more specific advice, like what’s in that morning “shake”, how big a portion the meat/rice/potatoes are at dinner, what’s your training look like, etc.

At your current size, it won’t take much to drop fat. Like the guys said, very basic and consistent cardio and dialing in the diet are the first steps.


Congrats on lifting and wanting to get healthy.

According to this TDEE calculator https://tdeecalculator.net/result.php?s=imperial&g=male&age=38&lbs=280&in=74&act=1.55&bf=35&f=1 you should be eating 3,400 k/cal per day to maintain weight based on moderate exercise. That means at 2200 k/cals, you should be losing more than 1.5 lbs per week. If you’re not, then something in the equation is wrong, and it’s probably your estimated calorie intake.

I too think your doctor is off base. If I were you, I would get MyFitnessPal for your phone, and a set of kitchen scales and measuring cups and religiously track your calories for two weeks and make adjustments from there.

I’d start at 2700 calories and see if you lose a pound a week on that. I wouldn’t do any cardio except perhaps some LISS, or maybe a half hour of conditioning, twice a week.

See what happens and adjust from there.

Good luck.


Thank you all for the advice. On my diet I mess up a meal hear and there weekly but still track it on lose it at 2700-3000 cals a week Normally. I also have an occasional piece of candy or mint. I haven’t had a Soda in two months. I drink a ON shake one scoop, and my meat portion is somewhere between 8-10 ounces for dinner my potatoes or starches I try to keep two a cup or less.


I’m in the gym 3-4 times a week
At first I thought it may be just water retention but after gaining two weeks in a row is when I went to the Dr. This week though I am down 4 lbs from last on the 2200 cals with more cardio just not super intense.


As far as PRs go I’ve never maxed out really but on bench I was at 275 4 sets of 6-8 and squat 245 4 sets of 10. I haven’t deadlifted real weight since before my back injury in 2009 that why I have gotten so out of shape.


You know these are a little off, right? For example, my max bench was 205 and my max squat was 290 @ 195 pounds. I’m pretty weak BTW.

I’d avoid the intense cardio at a severe calorie deficit, which 2200 is. There are really two ways to lose weight - low calorie and no cardio or high calorie and high cardio. Those are gross generalizations, but worth following.

Lifting adds muscle, jacks up testosterone and IGF, especially compound lifts like squats and bench. Muscle burns more than fat. At your weight, you can probably lose a pound a week and add some muscle, like a recomp.

Just keep plugging! Number one, keep lifting!


And, check out this thread Do Meatheads Dream of Iron Sheep?

He’s over thirty five, 287, and strong AF.


Heavy-ish lifting at a fast pace will get the fastest results try one of these…


If try the 10x3 swap skipping on the off days for 45min interval type work on the bike/cardio machine.

Keep the calories up/close to mainteneace to support heavy training and you should lean out pretty fast

Cut out the candy completely