Fat Loss vs. Weight Loss

I am against the biggest loser mentality because I think it encourages the wrong approach to fat loss.  A person’s goal shouldn’t be to lose as much weight as possible in the shortest amount of time.  It should be to lose fat and build muscle on a continual basis. Emphasizing muscle gains will yield the greatest long term results.  The key phrase  is long term.

There are quicker ways to get more immediate weight loss results than the approach I prescribe, however, rapid weight loss often equals having a worse body composition (body fat % vs lean muscle %) than what you started with.  Let’s examine why.

If your program is simply focused on weight loss you are most likely not doing things very conducive to building muscle or at minimum maintaining muscle and that is where the trouble begins.

Losing muscle is a bad thing for long term results because every ounce of muscle you can gain, you raise your resting metabolic rate.  That’s right; with more muscle added to your body you will burn more calories each day right out of the gate.  That is why having a strong muscle building component to your program is critical for fat loss.

Following Max-OT style training will set you up to build muscle, lose fat and really transform your body.  That means you may not see much movement on the scale initially and that is OK.  We are concerned with long term results and over time there will be a downward trend with your weight but it will not happen over night.  For this reason I don’t encourage frequent weight checking.

Here’s another cautionary tale for scale addicts.  Contrary to popular belief muscle does not weigh more than fat.  That is like saying a pound of bricks weighs more that a pound of feathers.  A pound is a pound.  Muscle is, however, more dense tissue than fat.  That means the same volume of muscle will weigh more than the same volume of fat therefore you could be a few pants sizes smaller and yet weigh almost the same as you did when you were carrying more fat. You see how that works?  This is a prime example why the scale is not the best way to measure progress.

I believe a better indication of progress is how your clothes fit or if you want to get more exact you can chart inches lost or measure your actual body composition. Another good tool is visual assessments and the use of photos to see the changes made over time.

The moral of this story is concern yourself with fat loss and not simply weight loss because they are two different things.  Be patient and execute a smart plan that has an emphasis on building muscle.


  1. avatar
    Dino Vuckic

    Hello Jeff Willet, i have just one question regarding the Max OT style and fat loss + gaining muscles.

    During the training, are you supposed to feel a burning state in the muscles while training, or is the whole point circling around just wearing out your muscles?

    /Best Regards.

    • The goal is to overload the muscle with a heavy weight in a 4-6 range and not approach muscle fatigue. So with that in mind you will not feel muscle burn with Max-OT training.

  2. Hi Jeff,

    I go to work x5 a week. I get to work riding my bicycle on a hilly road which takes around 20 mins from one side, that means I get 40 mins of cardio a day x5 a week. Going towards the gym takes another 5 mins one way.

    Do you think its possible to work out how many calories I need to gain muscle and lose fat at the same time?

    That being said, how could someone measure their fat loss and muscle gain?

    FYI, im not working in the low rep range. I have had a few injuries so i have decided to go for higher reps in a slow mo. i will also be low on glycogen levels by the time i reach gym, so thats another reason for not working in low rep range.


    • This is approach is very different from what I recommend. Best way to measure body composition would be a bod pod if you have access or skin calipers if you have a skilled professional take your measurements.

  3. Hi Jeff,

    When I was watching i want to look like that guy, stuart concludes 1/3 way in to the film stating that you’ll gain muscle and lose fat without dieting (just keeping a mindful eye on the foods) following max ot weight training and cardio.
    He also displayed figures which were 8% fat loss and 8lbs of muscle gained during the 18 week period – PHASE 1.

    My question is, how many weight lifting and cardio sessions a week did he perform when he was doing this?


    • He was doing 5 days a week of lifting Max-OT style and I believe the target was 5 days a week of cardio.

      • what was his nutrient ratio’s and could you please also tell why you chose 2590 kcal instead of say 2700 or 2900 kcal?

        Thank you

        • Nutrient ratios are generally around 50% protein, mid to upper 30’s% carbohydrates and low teens% fats. His starting caloric intake was an educated guess based on a few factors and based on my experience. There isn’t a real scientific way that I get the start point. I just need to get in a reasonable ball park to establish a sensible starting intake and then adjust from there.

  4. Hi Jeff,

    The workout has worked great for me. I went from a 16 percent body fat to now 9.5 percent. I have seen great gains in my body; however, I still have love handles that are very hard to get rid off. Why is it so tough to get rid of these?

    Thanks JEFF!


    • That’s great! Nice job.

      Everyone has the last areas where they hold fat and for men it is usually around the mid section. It takes time and progressive calorie cuts for this to go away. It will go eventually but you just have to be consistent with your execution and implement gradual calorie skims along with increasing cardio frequency.

  5. Hi Jeff,

    you know when you workout, are you supposed to keep the tension or are you supposed to pause for one second at the top and continue from there?

    I watched your video and when you Bench Press and perform lat pull downs, you usually pause at the top, is there a reason why you do this?

    Also, why are we supposed to stretch at the top anyway because i thought you are supposed to keep your muscles under tension?


    • I don’t purposely pause during any movement. I focus on muscular control throughout. I also don’t try to stretch at the top of any movement. I try to keep tension on the area.

  6. Hi Jeff,

    I had an injury a few months ago around the elbow region when performing my ez bar skullcrushers on a bench for my triceps as suggested by AST. it was that one rep that i felt something had went wrong as if a piched a nerve on that area but i ignored it for that one day only.

    Every time I do perform an exercise involving my biceps and triceps, it hurts, e.g, doing bench press or bicep curls or anything involving press or pull movements. i went on high rep workout with good execution for about a month and then when i started to do max ot, the pain is still there. when i dont do max ot for my tri and bi but continue with major muscle gps, most of the time the pain is not there.

    but performing lateral raises max ot style heavily increases the pain. wht do you think i should do?


    • You have to modify the exercises and the approach as you are doing to avoid the movements that cause pain and aggravation to the area.

      • Thanks for your feedback. One last query, Do you think it would be beneficial to work back + biceps together and chest + triceps together as during these exercises, the upper arm gets worked out and warmed up.

        If you did say yes, would this prevent me from gaining maximum strength because I would have worked the major muscle group involving upper arm but I wouldnt be able to lift much weight doing biceps or triceps workout at the end of workout?

        Thank you

        • I think it is OK either way. I’ve done Max-OT workouts that group those body parts together and I’ve done them separately and had good results either way.

  7. avatar
    Amjad Dokhan

    Dear Jeff,

    I’ve been following the MAX-OT Program and cutting my calorie intake to 1500 cals , I weigh 164 pounds but I still have 24.5% body fat . I strive to get mroe intake of protein but I just can’t take more than 80-90 grams max . its too expensive and out of my budget , I am losing weight faster than I’m losing body fat , do you really think I should get more protein than that ? and how necessary do you think are creatine and glutamine .best regards .

    • Quality protein is a very critical part of the equation. I also believe creatine and l-glutamine are important pieces of the puzzle too.

  8. Hi Jeff,

    My triceps are smaller compared to biceps and not growing much. I think the reason is because i have always wrapped my index finger on the barbell marking(the ring) which is wider than shoulder width to work my chest and shoulders.

    Which finger do you think i need to place on the mark on the barbell?

    Also, when im benching, should i flare my elbows out wide or do i need to bring my elbows closer to my body making a 45 degree angle from the side body to my arms?

    Thank you

    • I don’t think such a small difference in grip width would have any big effect. You should grip the bar where you feel strongest and most natural. And as a rule of thumb you want your forearm and upper arm to form are right angle as you are in the down position. Not too wide, not too narrow – comfortable, strong and natural is the key.

  9. Jeff,

    I am a 428lbs man. I was a former athlete that never stopped eating like one. I WILL enter a bodybuilding competition(?????). I cant make a competition date because it would probably be 1.5-2 years from now by using online calculators from varied websites(AST-ss.com, bodybuilding.com, etc.). I know I have approximately 120lbs+ of fat on my body. I know you are an advocate of Max-OT cardio——should I perform Max-OT cardio daily, 2X daily ? Performing 1 hr LISS cardio estimates approximately a year to look like a normal person…..I don’t understand how Max-OT cardio would make a difference. Please help and thank you. -Gino

    • Short duration/high intensity cardio will have a bigger effect on elevating your metabolism and keeping it elevated longer after exercise. I much prefer Max-OT style cardio for fat loss compared to long duration/moderate intensity. Plus Max-OT style cardio has less of any negative impact on the muscle building process. Let’s not forget that muscle building/maintenance is going to be a big part of you achieving your goal. Every ounce of muscle you can build or at minimum maintain, you will be increasing your resting metabolic rate and thus aiding the fat loss process.

  10. Dear Jeff,

    Thank you very much for your blogging.

    I have some questions about max-ot cardio:

    Should i eat before max-ot cardio and immediatelly after or should i wait some time?
    Can you give your recommendation about eating food (carbohydrates,protein) before/after max-ot cardio.

    What do you think of doing max-ot cardio with jumping rope?

    My goal is to loose some weight and to gain some muscles…

    • I think it makes sense to follow Max-OT cardio with a post workout drink similar to after weight training. You certainly don’t want to do it first thing in the morning on an empty stomach but if you are performing it in the course of the day I think it is OK to fit it in between meals and not necessary to eat/drink directly before.

      I think it is probably better to get on a cardio machine where you can track your distance and try to beat it.

  11. Jeff,

    I wass wondering what a good nutritional plan a person with an endomorph body type be.

    Thanks, Sean

  12. Hey Jeff,

    Just a quick question, should I ride the bike to warm up before the Max ot routine or just to the warm up with the weight acclimation sets?

  13. avatar
    arya rohan

    my question how can i burn my chest fat(man boobs) with MAX OT..i woulda appreciate it if you answer my question because im searching for a convince answer for years. pls help

    • You can’t spot reduce fat. Fat loss is an overall body process best achieved with strict attention to nutrition along with frequent high intensity cardio. The other component is Max-OT weight training to promote muscle building.

  14. HI Jeff,

    How many pounds per week should one aim to lose? Also, how many calories should one aim to skim and after how long?


    • I don’t like to set any goals with specific weight numnbers either for losing or gaining weight. Since the goal is muscle gain and fat loss I think the specific numbers are less relevant and we should look for long term progress over the span of months rather than week by week. When I skim I like to do 150 – 200 calories at a time and follow the adjusted level for 1 or 2 weeks before considering the next skim.

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