She is literally one of the hardest working human beings I have ever met. She is kind, she puts her all into what she does no matter what it is, and she, much like you, was searching for hours on end to figure out how to get a toned stomach.
As you can see here from her insane progress pictures, I think it is safe to say she has done just that.
Want to know the best part about this?
In between these two pictures, she is actually up two lbs.
She gained 2 lbs in between these 2 pics.
But Eric, how could that be?! She looks amazing!! Shouldn’t the scale go down?!
Let’s talk about it.
Losing Fat & Building Muscle
There is something called body recomposition. This is essentially when you lose fat and build muscle at the same time.
And before you ask, no, muscle does not weigh more than fat. Muscle weighs the same as fat.
1lb of muscle weighs the same as 1lb of fat. Just like 1lb of feathers weighs the same as 1lb of bricks.
The composition is different though.
Muscle is more dense than fat, so it takes up less space on your body.
Therefore if you lose say 3lbs of fat while simultaneously gaining 3lbs of muscle, the scale ain’t gonna move honey.
Yet your body will look different, your measurements will go down, your clothes will fit different, etc.
This is exactly what Christina did above, as well as what my other online coaching client Bremer did here below.
As you can see, Bremer completely did a 180 with his physique.
Now, this dude literally followed the program to a T the entire time he was with me. Like legit, barely even wavered once. He’s an animal.
But none the less you can look at his stomach and physique to see how much of a change he has made.
What am I getting at?
Stop Focusing On The Scale
If you truly want to know how to get a toned stomach, stop focusing on the scale is the first and most important part.
You don’t care about the number on the scale, you care about how you look.
The scale is not going to tell the whole story of how you look. Measurements and progress pictures will do that for you.
I would still encourage you to take your weight. In fact, all of my clients weigh in every single day.
Why? Because like I mentioned above, it is just data.
But as you have seen it is by far not the most accurate form of data when it comes to changing the way your body looks.
It does not tell the whole story.
So before you even dive into the workouts or nutrition of things, you need to understand first and foremost the scale is the last thing you should be looking at.
It might not change that much or it might even go up! Yet remember, this is about you looking good naked, not just weighing a # on the scale.
That number is now irrelevant, got it?
Seriously, don’t f*ck around here. I need you to get this because if you don’t you will never win.
Stop letting that scale control your life. Start taking measurements every two weeks and progress pictures every 4 weeks.
Monitor the progress and I promise if you then follow what we are going to talk about here, you are going to see tremendous progress.
How To Get A Toned Stomach : Nutrition
More Muscle Building , Less Fat Loss
When it comes to how to get a toned stomach, you just saw above that the scale is not the end all be all.
You also saw learned that building muscle and losing fat is what you want to accomplish, like my clients did above.
I am going to break down two different scenarios for you in regards to what you should do with your nutrition.
The first scenario is going to be if you are that “skinny fat”, or if you think you have “the last 5-10lbs to lose” (major eye roll there.. That is my biggest pet peeve).
Skinny Fat, Have 5-10 lbs to lose
So if you were like one of my clients above in those pictures where you don’t really have a TON of weight to lose, but you want to get rid of that stomach, this section is for you.
Here is what you should do.
Eat right around your maintenance calories, eat around your bodyweight (in lbs) in protein, and lift heavy weights to build muscle (we will cover this more in the workout section).
Do that with 85-90% consistency week after week, month after month.
First, if you don’t know what your maintenance calories are, you can head HERE to my 100% free calculator to figure out how many calories to eat.
Second, if you weigh 150lbs, try to get around 150g of protein.
Third, why should you do this?
You have probably heard if you want to lose fat you have to eat in a calorie deficit!
Yes, this is true. 100%.
Yet two things here.
Number one, if you eat around maintenance calories, while eating the protein suggested, and following a structured workout program like the one we will talk about below, here is what will happen.
You are going to be able to build lean muscle mass. This is going to do two things.
Number one it is going to improve your body fat percentage and help you “look” the way you want to lose.
Remember, body fat % is not just the body fat you have. It is in comparison to your lean muscle mass that you have.
If you don’t have any or low lean lean muscle mass, then you aren’t going to look the way you want to look or have a good body fat % no matter what.
Number two is by building this lean muscle mass, you will actually increase your metabolism as well.
Therefore if you are eating around maintenance calories, it will probably push you into a slight calorie deficit.
Now you are going to think “well then why don’t I just start in a deficit form the beginning?!”.
Because, if you go too low in calories, you won’t be able to build muscle. Then you will not get the positive benefits of what we listed above.
Eating right around maintenance calories is going to help optimize muscle definition, which can help you look the way you want to look.
Both pics you saw of my clients above ate right around their maintenance calories and saw the tremendous progress they did.
I am not lying to you here, trust me. Do it.
If You Have 10+ Lbs To Lose
Now the second scenario is going to be if you have 10+lbs to lose.
In this scenario what I want you to do is eat in a calorie deficit to lose body fat.
Yet not too low because again, if you go too low, you won’t be able to build lean muscle mass, which you need to look the way you want to look.
If you need to know how many calories to eat so that it isn’t too low, head HERE to my 100% totally free weight loss calorie calculator.
Second, still hit the same amount of protein as suggested above.
Third, still do the same with workouts as suggested above (and more so below).
Finally, I want to show you this.
This is one of my online coaching clients below Maricela.
Maricela, like my other clients, works hard as HELL.
She has literally been 90% + consistent since we started together, and it clearly shows.
She came to me wanting to “lose weight”, but then we soon found out she really just wanted to get strong and changed the way she looks. The scale was irrelevant if she was seeing progress in other areas.
Guess how many lbs she lost in those pics above.
But look how freaking insanely different she looks.
Her measurements went down, she lost fat and built muscle, and she looks freaking amazing.
This is continuing to show, the scale, is not the end all be all. I don’t care how much weight you do or don’t have to lose, you need to track other forms of data than just the scale.
How To Get A Toned Stomach : Workouts
Move Away From The Cardio
In a world where HIIT cardio and ab workouts galore run the internet it seems, I am here to tell you that is not the most optimal way to go about your workouts if you are looking to get a toned stomach.
Tons of cardio and super low calories isn’t going to get you where you want to be, I can promise you that.
As you have learned thus far one of your main focuses should be building muscle.
That is what your workouts should be based around.
In this short article I am going to cover what to eat on a calorie deficit.
I am also going to cover what not to eat on a calorie deficit.
You may have heard that to lose weight you need to be in a calorie deficit (and if you don’t know that, don’t worry we will cover it here!).
Yet just knowing this is often times not quite enough.
We need more context on what your days worth of eating should actually look like in order to make progress.
Yet the only way you are going to leave this article fully understanding what to eat on a calorie deficit is if you read it in it’s entirety.
Top to bottom. Side to side.
Slow scrolling my friend. Take in every word.
This way you can be sure you know exactly what to do from here on out.
Got it?! Yea yea Eric we get it, let’s get on with it!
Alright alright, before I have cabbage thrown at me, let’s get started.
What To Eat On A Calorie Deficit
Wait, What Is A Calorie Deficit?
Before we dive into exactly what to eat on a calorie deficit, let’s briefly refresh ourselves on what a calorie deficit is.
A calorie deficit is not a “diet”.
It is not like keto, or fasting, or some diet where you only eat 800 calories a day (not going to name which one but wow that is dumb).
A calorie deficit is simply just an energy balance equation.
Our bodies use and burn energy to stay alive.
Energy for us humans comes in the form of calories.
The old adage “food is fuel!” is kind of right. Food is much more just than fuel, but yes scientifically speaking, food is your bodies energy source.
Your overall calorie intake plays a role in your body composition changes, whether losing fat, building muscle, or maintaining weight.
Therefore when it comes to a calorie deficit, a calorie deficit is simply just eating less calories than your body burns.
You are in a negative energy balance equation. Your body does not have enough energy coming in (calories) to maintain its current weight, so therefore it is going to use its stored energy (body fat).
This is how you lose body fat.
This is the only way to lose body fat.
I don’t care what “diet” you do, I don’t care what Instagram influencer tries to sell you on their diet product.
I don’t care what time of day you eat or how many carbs a day you eat.
The only way to lose weight is through this calorie deficit. Period. End of story.
If you need some extra help on calculating your calorie deficit, you can head HERE to my 100% totally free calorie calculator.
What To Eat On A Calorie Deficit : Can I Eat Whatever I Want Then?!
Now that we know as long you are in a calorie deficit you will lose weight I know this question is going to pop up so let’s cover it.
The question is “Well, since calories are all that matter, can I just eat whatever I want and lose weight?!”.
The answer is going to be technically, yes, you could.
You could 1500 calories of big macs and twizzlers (man those things are good) and lose weight.
Now, this can be used in a good or a bad way.
Let’s first talk about the good!
Knowing this can be a very empowering thing because this automatically eliminates the fear most people have when starting a “diet” to lose weight.
Having to only eat “clean” foods or cutting out all of your favorite foods to lose weight.
Now that you know you can literally eat any food you want and as long as you are in a calorie deficit you will lose weight, that can be a weight lifted off your shoulders.
You now know there are “good” and “bad” foods. This creates a much healthier relationship with food, reduces a lot of binging tendencies , and makes it so you don’t have to fear or cut out any one food.
Because no one food or food group makes you fat (keto people do you hear me?). The only way you would gain body fat is by eating too many calories over an extended period of time.
So great! This is a huge positive that comes from knowing this!
Yet, be aware.
This Doesn’t Mean You SHOULD Eat Whatever You Want
Just because you technically could eat 1500 calories of big macs and twizzlers, doesn’t mean you should.
Let’s be honest, you know that. You have enough common sense to know that.
Yet I have to say it and I have to explain why.
Let’s say you ate 1500 calories of said food above.
First off, that is not going to be that much actual food volume. If a big mac is damn near 600 calories, and a king size pack of twizzlers is 525 calories.
Well hell, with those two foods just in one setting is going to be 1125 calories.
What are you going to eat the rest of the day? Air?
You are getting a ton of calories for not a ton of food. This makes it harder to fill up, be satisfied, and keep your hunger at bay .
This then makes it harder to stick to your calorie deficit, which if you can’t stick to your deficit, you won’t lose weight.
Second, you are going to have massive health complications.
Food boils down to total calories yes, but within that food there are other things like vitamins, minerals, micronutrients, etc.
If you are eating nothing but processed, sugar, junk foods 24/7 365, even if you do lose weight, man is your health going to take a toll.
Which if your physical health isn’t there, you can lose weight but another issue is going to come up!
When it comes to what to eat on a calorie deficit, let me put it to you like this.
A Calorie Is Always A Calorie.. But
When it boils down to it, a calorie is just a unit of measurement of energy.
1 calorie is always going to be 1 calorie.
Therefore 100 calories from a big mac is the same as 100 calories from spinach.
They both have 100 units of measurement of energy.
There is no denying that. This is once again why there are no “good” and “bad” foods or foods that inherently make you fat.
It all comes down to total calories.
Yet think of it like this.
The calories can be equal, but the composition can be different.
Let me explain with two scenarios.
Think about 1lb of bricks versus 1 lb of feathers.
Both of those two things are 1lb, correct?
Yet the composition is massively different. You are going to have literally millions of feathers piled up to get to a lb of feathers.
While maybe less than 1 brick is going to weigh 1lb.
They are both a lb though, the composition is just different.
Here is another one.
Let’s say you ran a mile on the pavement, swam a mile in the ocean, and biked a mile in the forest.
At the end of the day, you still went a mile.
The composition was different. The pavement, the ocean, and the forest.
Yet a mile is always a mile. Just like a lb is always a lb. Just like a calorie is always a calorie.
The Composition Is Different
A calorie is always a calorie, the composition can be different.
For example 100 calories from a big mac and 100 calories from spinach are the same calories, but massively different composition.
You might get one or two bites of a big mac to reach 100 calories, while you could have literally 6 bowls full of spinach to get 100 calories.
The spinach will give you so much more food volume for the same amount of calories.
The big mac is not going to provide as much nutrition like vitamins, minerals, etc as the spinach would either.
Therefore as you see, while all calories are created equal, the composition of those calories can be massively different.
When it comes to what to eat on a calorie deficit, you have to take this concept into consideration.
The 80/20 rule has been a massive game changer in my clients sustainable * success over the years.
Notice how I said sustainable.
Remember, this is all about losing weight in a manner that is going to allow you to actually keep the weight off.
If you are reading this right now you probably have lost weight before. You probably have lost it doing very unsustainable things.
Cutting out all sugar, cutting out carbs (why? Just why.), only eating 1000 calories a day, only eating “clean” foods.
You may have lost weight but I can almost assure you you gained it all back.
How do I know?
Because whatever you do to lose the weight is the same thing you will have to do to keep the weight off.
Therefore is what you are doing to lose the weight is unsustainable, ie what I said above, then your results will be unsustainable as well.
Therefore this is why I am not going to sit here and tell you to only eat clean foods, never eat foods you enjoy, never have a big mac or twizzlers.
I am simply going to tell you to follow the 80-20 rule.
What is the 80-20 rule exactly? Let’s go over it.
80 / 20 Rule
The 80/20 rule goes as such.
80% of your calories from the day should be coming from nutrient dense whole foods.
These are foods like
These foods are basically one ingredient foods.
Think of oatmeal, that is ONE ingredient. A banana, that is ONE ingredient. Chicken breasts, that is ONE ingredient.
Now you could mix these foods, you could put a banana in your oatmeal. You could have chicken breast with potatoes.
But the point being they are minimally processed, nutrient dense, whole foods.
I tell my clients to think of it like this as well.
swam in the ocean
Roamed the earth
Flew in the sky
Grew from the ground
That falls under the 80% category.
If it was made up in a lab, that does not fall under this category.
Now, 20% of foods can come from foods you enjoy!
Whether it is
Whatever it is that you enjoy.
Remember the goal of any sustainable dietary plan is to include foods you enjoy in moderation while still losing weight.
Not to completely restrict yourself and cut them out all together.
That is going to backfire every single time and normally lead to a restricting – binging cycle that is all around not fun.
Let’s say your calorie goal that you got from my calculator was 1800 calories a day.
Following this 80/20 rule, 1450 calories would be coming from nutrient dense whole foods.
360 calories would be coming from treats and things you enjoy.
If you are skeptical about if you can still eat foods you enjoy or treats in general, take it from one of my online coaching clients Mary.
Mary ate a dessert every single night on her journey to lose 80+lbs. She saw these results because guess what, she did it while being in a calorie deficit!
That would be one prime example of still incorporating foods you enjoy in moderation while still losing body fat, improving your health, and reaching your goals.
Protein Is Kind Of Important
When talking about what to eat on a calorie deficit I would be doing you a disservice if I did not talk about protein.
Listen protein is massively important when it comes to being in a calorie deficit.
I did a whole video on why protein actually helps you burn fat, you can check that out HERE if you want .
But in short it helps you
Build / retain lean muscle mass which is going to increase metabolism even more
Therefore making sure you hit your protein goal each day, on top of this 80/20 rule, is going to have you optimize your calorie deficit that much more.
If you want to know how much protein to eat in a day, there are a few calculations you can use, but one of my favorites is simply
Take your goal body weight (in lbs) x .8-1.2
Anywhere in between that range. I would try to get closer to the goal body weight in lbs x 1, but anywhere in that range above is going to massively help you with your calorie deficit and weight loss.
Now I know protein can be a struggle to get, that is why I can help!
I am going to link two resources here for you. The first is going to be a video on how to eat more protein, the second is going to be another article I wrote here on my website to help get more protein.
Foods To Avoid
I hope I made this clear enough but if not let me touch on it now.
There are no inherently “bad” foods. No one food automatically stores fat. There are no foods you should inherently “avoid” when looking to be in a calorie deficit.
Because remember, total calories in the driver. As long as you hit your calories, you are golden.
Here is what I will say.
Whenever someone asks me this question this is my response.
The foods you should avoid are the foods that
make you feel like sh*t
Are foods you know you cannot control yourself with
Those are the two biggest things and those will be different for everyone.
For example, there used to be this oatmeal squares cereal I got from the grocery store.
Man, was that puppy some kind of good. Tasted amazing. Loved it.
Yet I stated to notice about 2 hours after eating it every time I was going to the bathroom, and not going #1.
I took it out for a few days and noticed that the bathroom visits stopped.
I added it back in, the bathroom visits came right back.
So for me? That is a food I am going to avoid.
I threw it out and am not going to have it ever again because I know it makes me feel like shit!
If you have a food that you know you just cannot control yourself with for the time being, like peanut butter for example.
Okay well it may be in your best interest to avoid that food for right now as you work to get your health and fitness in check.
Not to say you can’t ever have it again, but maybe keep it out of the house for right now.
Those are the foods you should be avoiding in your calorie deficit, not carbs or specific foods that random blogs or fitness influencers tell you is “bad” for right like white rice or whole eggs.
Optimize Your Calorie Deficit
I mentioned this in the paragraph above but wanted to touch a bit more in depth on it.
We know that to lose weight you have to be in a calorie deficit. When it comes to what to eat on a calorie deficit, you want to think about what is going to optimize that calorie deficit as efficiently as possible.
Not saying you can’t ever have foods you enjoy or you can’t ever eat a bit more calories under your “treats” section because listen, we are all humans.
Yet your goal with your foods should be to optimize what you are doing.
Eating high protein foods to keep you full.
You should be eating high volume, low calorie foods like spinach, watermelon, or strawberries.
Your calorie deficit can be optimized by maintaining good health through eating nutrient dense whole foods.
Losing weight is hard enough as it is, I think we can both agree on that.
So why put yourself behind the 8 ball anymore?
Use these strategies above to help yourself win as much as humanly possible.
What To Eat On A Calorie Deficit : Final Word
Well there you have it. You got the entire low down on what to eat on a calorie deficit.
Remember that it all comes back to total calories. As long as you are in a calorie deficit you will lose weight, you just want to be sure you are doing what you can to optimize that calorie deficit.
Because why make things harder than they have to be?
Hope you enjoyed the article.
If you are interested in having me help you through your journey, feel free to head HERE to see if we may be a good fit for coaching.
Not being able to eat whatever you want whenever you want in whatever quantity you want
Taking time to workout
Taking time to meal prep
To name a few.
Now, some benefits to those costs may be.
feeling confident in your own skin
Getting off blood pressure medication
Improving the quality of your life now and for years to come
Fitting into a bathing suit with confidence
Having your spouse or friends notice your weight loss
To name a few.
It works both ways yet one of the most researched parts of behavior and life change is that people who successfully make a change in their life, the benefits always out weigh the costs.
They truly believe that no matter what the costs, the benefits are more important.
You can tell me, but I think taking 5 minutes a day to count your calories is worth you feeling confident in a bathing suit.
I think workout out for 45 minutes 3x per week is worth getting off your blood pressure meds and living an extra 15 years for your family and kids.
I don’t know for sure only you can answer that, but it is just a hunch.
The reason I am saying this is because sometimes during your journey you may need or remind yourself of this.
It can get tough at times and there will be days you don’t feel like doing it, but if you can remind yourself that it is going to be worth it in the end and you can truly envision yourself standing 6, 9, 12 months down the road.
Down 50 lbs, in great shape, created a whole new lifestyle for yourself.
I think you will remember that the benefits outweigh the costs, and that right there will kick your butt in gear to keep things moving.
How To Get Motivated To Lose Weight : Final Point
If there is one thing I want you to take from this article on how to get motivated to lose weight it is that motivation does not magically happen.
I know it is not what you want to hear or what is going to be the most “sexy” to sell you on.
Yet this is the truth so you actually win. I need you to be fully prepared for this journey ahead of you so when these times do come, and trust me they will, you are ready.
You know how to tackle them, expect them and can conquer them to change your life forever.
I hope this article helped. If it did, feel free to let me know or share it with someone who you think may need to hear it.