Burn the Fat: Why no progress?

BURN THE FAT Questions & Answers WITH TOM VENUTO, Fat Loss Coach


Dear Tom,

I've been going to the gym for the past year now, but I have only lost 2 pounds. I eat about 1800 calories a day and I do 3 cardio and 3 weight training sessions a week. I am 5 feet 5 inches and 128 lbs. I would like to be at 120 lbs. To lose 8 lbs isn't a lot to ask, but I'm really frustrated. I've been VERY persistent, and I rarely cheat except once each weekend, but at this rate, it will take me another 4 years for me to reach my goal! Please help!


P.S. I love reading your emails for their usefulness and honesty!!!


Hi Vicky,

Don't worry, it won't take another 4 years! In fact, you will reach your target weight (100% fat loss, no muscle loss) within the next month with a few changes to your nutrition and training.

However, it's important that you understand how a year could go by with almost no progress.

Question: Have you been doing exactly the SAME diet, calories, cardio and workout for the entire past year with no changes? If so, then you shouldn't be suprised that you've continued to get the SAME results (almost none).

If you do more of the same, you usually get more of the same.

For example, you're on 1800 calories. If that's clean food spread through the day in small meals, then that's great because most women don't eat enough and it results in a sluggish metabolism, muscle loss and low energy.

However, calories have to be calculated and customized for each individual in the beginning and then adusted continuously during the course of a fat loss program based on actual results.

Just because you start at 1800 doesn't mean your caloric intake should stay there forever. Calories may need to be increased or decreased depending on whether your goals change and depending on your weekly progress (or lack of).

1800 is high for some women, and in fact, the majority of women your height, weight and activity level lose fat safely and successfully on 1500-1600 calories per day.

At the end of the day, fat loss boils down to calories in versus calories out, so you may need a simple calorie reduction.

Better still, you can use the "zig zag" method and decrease calories to 1500 or even 1400 for 3 days, then have a higher calorie "re-feed" ("carb up") day every 4th day of 1800 or even 1900-2000.

Even though your calories will be low for 3 days, the high calorie day re-stimulates your metabolism and fat burning hormones, and prevents a permanent drop in either.

This "zig zag" or "re-feeding" method is described in great detail in my Burn the Fat e-book and I have to say it is one of the most effective methods I have ever found to break a plateau, even if you've been stuck for an entire year!

As for your cardio program, 3 days a week of cardio works for many people, but usually, I would consider three weekly cardio sesssions a maintenenance workout or at best a starting point for beginners.

When fat loss flatlines, one way to get the body fat burning again is the decrease in caloric food intake. The other is a gradual and systematic increase in cardiovascular activity.

Example: This week, you could increase your cardio from 3 sessions to 4 sessions. If you combine the changes in calories with an increase in calories burned through cardio activity, that will almost certainly get you losing fat again.

If it does, then stay with 4 days a week of cardio. If not, the next week go up to 5 days a week. Repeat this simple "feedback loop" process as necessary, making decisions about your training duration, frequency and intensity based strictly on results.

Remember the old saying, "to keep doing the same thing over and over again and expect a different result is defined as insanity?" It would be good to remember that one..

Although this seems like common sense to some people, what happened to you is really quite common and it does appear that you're doing everything you're "supposed to be doing" with perfectly good intentions. You may be following a popular fitness program to a T: You're exercising (weights and cardio). You're on a healthy diet, and you've been disciplined and consistent in following it.

The trouble with most diet Programs and "experts" these days is that they are too dogmatic, unlike Burn the Fat. Their entire program may revolve around "X" number of calories, "X" days per week of cardio and "X" days a week of weights.... and you're not "allowed" to tamper with their "holy grail" formula.

I can understand the rationale for a simple diet and exercise prescription for a beginner in order to not confuse them with too many choices, but what if it doesnt work after a month, three months, six months, A WHOLE YEAR? What if there are no options, what then?

HOW COULD a single program without any flexibility work for everyone anyway?

The truth is, the person with the most flexibility is the person with the most chance for success, and thats what's so different about the burn the fat program - it's flexible!

Burn The Fat tells you what to do when you're not getting results... it gives you options and choices for breaking plateaus, and that's important because plateaus happen to everyone - ME included!

Plateau's are natural - they are simply the way the body adapts to stressors in order to maintain homeostasis.

Chapter 4 in Burn the Fat, Feed the Muscle teaches the process for getting feedback and showing you how to adjust your diet and workouts on a weekly basis, so you can get back on track quickly.

There is absolutely no reason to allow even a few weeks, let alone an entire year to go by without results. But you can't expect to get different results if you continue using the same approach.

Be persistent, but also be flexible. If you want to learn how to individualize your program for best results, to change your program to break plateau's, and make continuous progress as fast as safely possible, then I'd highly urge you to take a look at my e-book Burn the Fat, Feed the Muscle. .

Your friend and coach,

Tom Venuto, CSCS, NSCA-CPT Author of Burn the Fat, Feed the Muscle.


What I like about Tom Venuto's Burn the Fat is that it is not a "one size fits all" approach. Like Dr. Superko, Tom Venuto sets out his reasoning, taking on the role of teacher. Tom provides guidelines in Burn the Fat, but he also shows how to adjust the guidelines. This approach transfers the knowledge to the trainee who can then discover how his or her body responds to different combinations of diet and exercise.

Fred Colbourne