“A Major Diet Mistake You’re Probably Making” by James Barnum

“A Major Diet Mistake You’re Probably Making” by James Barnum

In this article, you’ll learn a process by which you can lose fat while maintaining lean mass, as well as strength. Before I get into the details, however, I’d like you to understand a few key points.

First of all, the person in this example is STABLE – they’ve been Eating To Perform for about 90 days, which is what we ask in “Met Flex for Fat Loss,” and they’ve seen some good results – fat loss, muscle gain, and PR after PR.

Second, you need to realize that a dramatic fat loss strategy is NOT sustainable. If you’re an active person, this is something you can do for a short while and see good results BUT THAT’S IT.  Continuing to reduce Calories is one of the biggest mistakes people make when trying to lose body fat – it’s just unnecessary!

I repeat, this is NOT a sustainable long-term solution and you’ll see why in just a bit. Now that I’ve got that out of the way, let’s move on.

Standard Recommendations

Make no mistake about it – how much you eat is the determining factor in whether or not you lose weight on a diet. If your goal is to lose body fat, you need to create an energy deficit. The issue, however, is that most people reading this engage in high intensity training or exercise several times a week. Some days you need more energy than you need on others. Performance matters! So how do you accomplish fat loss without sabotaging your training?

The answer is to shift between “loading days” and “control days.” This is the basis of Eat To Perform – eat more calories/more carbs some days; eat fewer calories/fewer carbs on others. What does that look like?

Here’s an example for a 5’6″, 150 lb. woman at 35% body fat who trains 4x a week. She’ll load on her training days and control on her rest days. I’ve estimated her TDEE (the calories she needs to maintain body weight) at 2120:

WEEKLY CALORIES: 14,195 calories


  • Calories: 1905
  • Carbs: 150g
  • Protein: 150g
  • Fat: 80


  • Calories: 2120
  • Carbs: 200g
  • Protein: 150g
  • Fat: 80

This is a 10% reduction between loading and control days – PERFECT for someone who wants to train hard and go through a slow, gradual recomposition without sacrificing performance. This is how you should begin if you’re just coming to ETP – take 90 days to eat well, train hard, and get your metabolism in proper, working order.

Getting Aggressive

So you’ve put in the work, you’re strong, you feel great…How do you achieve dramatic fat loss without ruining your gains? It’s really quite simple – you just eat less on your control days and take MORE control days.

Let’s stick with the same example, but have her train 3x a week:



  • Calories: 1495
  • Carbs: 100g
  • Protein: 150g
  • Fat: 55


  • Calories: 2120
  • Carbs: 200g
  • Protein: 150g
  • Fat: 80

If you were adhere to this cycle – a 30% reduction between loading and control days – you’d see some really good fat loss. I hear you though:

“How can I take this a step further and lose even MORE fat?”

Honestly, I’m sorry to burst your bubble, but I don’t recommend going further.

Why Aggressive Fat Loss Isn’t Sustainable

Here’s where things get ugly. If you continue to reduce calories on your control days, you’ll end up eating somewhere around 1,000 calories on those days. That’s a bad idea for ANYONE – especially someone who trains hard several times a week! So what do we do? Where do we take calories from? Loading days have to be reduced.
I’m going to repeat myself again, but I have to – I do NOT recommend doing this.

Why not? Well, at first, things will appear to go fine. The fat will melt off, and you won’t notice too much of a difference in your workouts. As the weeks go by, however, that will change.

The simple fact of the matter is that by the time you start removing calories from your loading days, you’re putting yourself into a chronic energy deficit. This means that you’ll be consistently under-fueling your body. As a result, you’ll eventually start to under-recover. If you’re coming to us from a calorie restricted, “Eat Less/Do Less” background, you already know what this will get you:

  • Muscle/bone loss
  • Lethargy
  • Endocrine diseases
  • Metabolic disorders
  • Increased potential for injury

Overall, you’ll feel like crap!

After a while, (it’s hard to say how long) you WILL stall, you WILL start to see the negative effects of being chronically underfed, and you WILL need to increase your calories. If you follow the principles we lay out in Met Flex for Fat Loss and hang out in the ETP Science Lab Forum and webinars, you’ll know exactly what to do to get things back to normal without putting on all the fat you just took off, and that’s the answer – MORE food, not LESS!