Weight loss is one of the biggest goals I see as a strength and nutrition coach.
Most people come in wanting to look better, feel better, and lose their gut gained over the past few months or years of life.
Weight loss is often confused with fat loss, with many people not understanding that to change the way your body looks you need to focus on losing fat and NOT losing muscle. To do this, you need to make sure the weight you are losing on the scale comes primarily from fat, which comes down to your diet and workout program.
In this article, I will share with you my recommendations on how much weight loss you can expect to lose in 60 days, and share 18 steps to take during your 60-day weight loss challenge.
How Much Weight Can You Lose in A 60-Day Weight Loss Challenge?
Most people should aim to lose 0.5-1% of their body weight per week. This means that in a 60 day period, you could lose between 4-8% of your body weight.
- Related Article: How to NOT Lose Muscle During a Diet (Here’s What the Research Says)
For example, someone who is 250lbs could expect to lose anywhere between 10-20lbs of weight in a 60-day period.
The exact amount of weight loss will vary from person to person, based on how aggressive they are with their diet and training, how consistent they are with the program, and how much body fat they have to lose (leaner individuals will lose weight slower).
How Much Body Fat Can You Lose in 60 Days?
Remember I said that weight loss doesn’t necessarily mean “fat loss”…
It’s inevitable that when you’re dieting you’ll lose a combination of both fat and muscle. The key is maximizing our fat loss and minimizing your muscle loss.
The rate of fat loss can be expressed as an overall percentage of loss relative to your weight loss (number on the scale). The goal would be to have 75% of every pound lost come from fat loss.
When lifting weights and losing weight slowly, most people will find that for every pound lost on the scale, 75% of that will come from fat loss (the other 25% from muscle loss).
The more drastic the weight loss is (a more aggressive calorie deficit), individuals could lose as much as 50% of every pound from fat and muscle, which is especially the case if you’re not strength training.
This is obviously not ideal.
When looking to lose body fat, you need to understand that the rate at which you lose fat should be slow and steady, to allow for the weight you lose to come primarily from fat loss (and not muscle loss).
Weight Loss Vs Fat Loss – What’s Better?
To illustrate this concept, let’s take two men who embark on a 60-day weight loss challenge…
Chad and Mark both embark on a 60-day weight loss journey.
Both of them ended up losing 20 lbs of weight through dieting and exercising (and both were roughly the same height, body weight, and had similar amounts of lean muscle mass).
- Related Article: Muscle Weight vs Fat Weight – What’re The Differences?
Chad drastically cut his calories every week to try to lose as much weight as he could, and while he was extremely hungry, he still maintained to stay consistent with his diet.
Chad did cardio 4 times a week (60-minute sessions), but did not focus his workouts on preserving or building muscle via resistance training.
He also tried to get in 10,000 steps a day most days of the week.
Over the course of 60 days, Chad lost 20 lbs, with 50% of it coming from fat loss and 50% of it from muscle loss (Chad lost 10 lbs of fat and 10 lbs of lean muscle tissue).
Mark, on the other hand, was also consistent with his diet but wasn’t as aggressively slashing calories week to week.
Rather, Mark dropped his calorie intake methodically, understanding he wanted to lose only body fat and preserve as much lean muscle as he could during the diet phase.
He knew that to maximize muscle retention and growth he needed to prioritize lifting weights (4 days a week) in addition to getting 10,000 steps a day outside of the gym.
At the end of the 60-day period, Mark lost 20 lbs, with 80% of that coming from fat loss and 20% of it coming from muscle loss. Mark lost 16 lbs of fat and 4 lbs of lean muscle tissue).
Chad vs Mark – Final Verdict
- Both Chad and Mark lost 20lbs on the scale
- Mark lost 60% MORE FAT than Chad
- Chad LOST 2.5X more muscle than Mark
- Mark would look leaner and more defined.
The moral of the story is, you need to be very clear on why you want the weight on the scale to go down…
Is it because you want to lose body fat and have more muscle definition and tone?
Or do you want to simply be smaller, and are not concerned if you have the same level of leanness as long as the number on the scale is smaller?
Note: Both Chad and Mark lost some muscle mass during the weight loss phase, however, Chad lost significantly more muscle than Mark during this period. Some muscle loss is common and often unavoidable during a weight loss phase, however, you can minimize the muscle loss by following the diet and workout tips below.
- Related Article: How to Lose 5lbs in One Month
10 Steps for Planning a 60-Day Weight Loss Diet
Below are 10 steps you should take when following a 60-day weight loss diet plan.
It is important to point out that these steps should be taken to not only maximize weight loss, but also to minimize losing muscle.
If you, like Chad, do not care about not losing your hard earned muscle tissue, you could then drastically cut your calories and crash diet (however we do not recommend this at all).
1. Know Your Total Daily Energy Expenditure (TDEE)
The first step (and primary) to weight loss is to place yourself in a calorie deficit (consuming fewer calories than your body needs to fuel itself during the day, workouts, and at rest). To determine that, you need to first calculate your total daily energy expenditure (TDEE).
Your TDEE is an estimate of the total amount of calories you should consume to maintain your weight (to not lose weight or to not gain weight).
From there, you will want to eat ~10% less calories than you TDEE per day, and adjust it as needed based on your rate of weight loss (see tip #2).
2. Track Your Weight Loss Twice Per Week
Tracking your weight loss is critical during a diet because it will help you adjust your calorie intake week to week. I prefer to have clients weigh themselves every Monday and Friday, and I will only compare Monday weight check-ins to Mondays, and only compare Fridays to Fridays.
The key here is to understand that weight fluctuations are normal, especially during the week (usually people are lighter later in the week than they are earlier). People tend to also have a weight spike on Mondays due to weekends being less regimented.
Whatever the reasons are, just stick to comparing Monday to Monday and Friday to Friday, and don’t even worry about Monday-to-Friday weight fluctuation (unless you are not losing weight on a 7-day basis).
3. Adjust Your Caloric Intake As Needed
If you are losing .5-1% of your body weight per week (Monday to Monday, or Friday to Friday), then you do not need to decrease your calories for that week. If however, you are not losing weight at that rate, then you will want to decrease your calories by another 10%.
You will repeat this process on a weekly basis. It is important to note that if you have decreased your starting caloric intake by more than 50% over the course of a diet, you may want to slow down your calorie restriction as it could have a longer negative impact on regaining weight.
Lastly, it is not recommended to decrease your calorie intake by more than 10% in a week’s time. This will ensure a slow and steady weight loss.
4. Focus on Lean Proteins, Vegetables, and Whole Grains
You will want to focus on eating lean proteins, vegetables, and whole grains as these foods can help you retain (or even build muscle), get plenty of fiber and nutrients, and provide long-lasting energy to fuel your body.
During a diet, protein plays a critical role in muscle retention and hormone production. Since you are in a calorie deficit, you will need to be sure to provide your body with ample protein (1g per pound is a good aiming point).
For vegetables and whole grains, eat as much as you can and still stay within your calorie allowance.
The vegetables will ensure you are getting enough vitamins and minerals (something that is often an issue when you’re not eating a lot of calories).
The whole grains (carbohydrates) are essential to fuel the muscles for hard workouts and to maintain muscle energy stores (when they drop, you are not able to build or maintain muscles as easily).
Related Article: How To Eat When You Are Not Working Out
5. Drink More Water
Aim to drink one gallon of water per day. While there is no exact number as to what you need to drink, most people should drink more (maybe even 1-2 gallons depending on your body size and how much you sweat).
Ideally, you should be drinking enough water so that your urine is more clear than yellow (mainly clearish).
Staying hydrated will also help you fight hunger (most people are thirsty, rather than hungry), help you train harder, and can provide you energy throughout the day.
6. Avoid Liquid Calories Like Alcohol, Soda, and Fruit Juices
When dieting, liquid calories are tricky because they provide calories yet do not offer you a ton of long, lasting satiety (fill up room in the stomach). Often, people will drink their calories, and still be hungry. This can be a very big issue in fighting hunger pains in a diet phase.
Additionally, liquid calories typically come from poor nutritional sources, ones that are often high in sugar (natural or processed) and ones that spike blood sugar levels.
Even healthy people who reach for “healthy, low-fat options” such as cereals, “organic” fruit juices, or berry yogurt bowls can have significant spikes in blood sugar (similar to that of diabetics).
7. Cook Your Own Meals
Cooking your own meals is one of the best ways to know exactly what is going into your mouth and body.
When you eat prepared meals (either from a restaurant or even from the store), you have no control over what was put into your foods, where your foods came from (food quality), and if there are any additional oil or calories that it was prepared in.
Most people who succeed with diets tend to source most of their own meals, cooking at home and controlling portion sizes and ingredients.
Some easy meal options that are also cost-effective are:
- Eggs and oatmeal
- Rice and lean protein
- Greek yogurt and berries
- Salads with lean protein
The possibilities are endless as long as you prepare them with minimal fat or extra calories (and don’t have a bunch of added calories by way of dressings and condiments).
You could make a huge impact on your results, just by cooking for yourself (as well as saving a ton of money).
8. Plan Your Meals Ahead of Time
Failing to plan is planning to fail, and that has never been more true with your diet. Having a predetermined plan or at the very least an outline of what you will eat for the majority of the day is key to weight loss.
If you are eating as you go, with no planning or preparation, it is easy to overeat, undereat, skip meals, and lose all willpower at the end of the day.
I tell my clients to break their day into 4-5 meals, which could be a combination of meals and snacks (usually 3 meals and 2 snacks).
80% of these need to be the same, every day (or at least they have a few alternatives).
For example, they eat the same breakfast and pack the same lunch every day. Snacks are always the same as well. Dinner can vary based on work or social outings, but they always eat a snack 1-2 hours before going out and always stick to higher protein, lower calorie options.
9. Get At Least 8+ Hours of Sleep
Sleep is key for all of us, but even more so during a diet. Most people should aim to get 8-9 hours of sleep per night.
When you are under consuming calories (which is necessary to lose weight), the body has less energy to run on. This also means that the body will need to recharge more through sleeping.
Without adequate sleep, not only do your hormones get all messed up, you may actually be setting yourself up to overeat, increase body fat stores, and ultimately derail your weight loss.
10. Take a Probiotic
This is something you may be taking already, but if not a probiotic will just help with normal gut function and digestion.
When dieting, you are eating less food, which means you are usually not pumping as much throughout your digestive system.
This can actually be a good thing to give your body a break, but having a probiotic will just help ensure things don’t slow down too much.
8 Steps for Planning a 60-Day Weight Loss Exercise Plan
1. Lift Weights At Least 3 Days a Week, Preferably 4-6 Days
Lifting weights is key to building and preserving muscle mass. Ideally, you will train at least 3 days a week with weights.
If you are more advanced or have more lean muscle tissue to preserve, you will want to ramp your weight workouts up to 4-6 days a week.
One might ask, what about cardio? Well, keep reading, as the answer to cardio may shock you…
2. Walk at Least 7,500 Steps a Day
Adopting an active lifestyle outside the gym can have a huge impact on your weight loss and overall health and wellness.
Researchers found that those who walked more lost more weight, especially over longer periods of time.
While most people have heard of 10,000 steps a day, even hitting a target of 7,500 steps a day has been shown to decrease risks of metabolic disease, diabetes, and even death.
3. Train Muscle Groups No Less Than 2x Per Week, Sometimes More
While training muscles once per week is better than nothing, ideally, you will hit a muscle group twice a week to deliver enough stimulus to ensure the muscle is retained during a diet.
When dieting, the body needs to adjust to its new energy balance, often trying to determine what systems or functions can be put on hold, and what ones need to remain active.
By training a muscle group twice per week (or even more), you are able to deliver contrast stimulus throughout the week to ensure muscle retention.
For example, let’s say Monday you train your legs hard, and Tuesday and Wednesday you are sore.
By Friday, your body is recovered and ready to use the leg again.
If you did not train them, they would then spend 3 days (Friday, Satufa, and Sunday) in a state of non-use, which could be just enough time for the muscles to not be provided with enough stimulus.
If however, you trained them Friday, you would take the weekend to recover and continue your training cycle throughout your diet plan, always providing stimulus and recovery to the muscle and minimizing muscle loss.
4. Train in the Moderate to High Rep Ranges
Training in the moderate to higher rep ranges will still allow you to build muscles, however, they will also help you stay moving in our workouts to maximize calories burned while still building muscle.
For some movements, train in the 8-15 rep range, whereas for others you can train in the 15-25 rep range. Training both rep ranges will also help you maintain some basic levels of strength as well (especially their 8-15 rep range).
- Related Article: Best Rep Range for Cutting Weight
5. Keep Rest Periods Between 60-90 Seconds
Keeping rest periods shorter (60-90 seconds) will help you stay moving throughout your workout while also still allowing recovery between sets to build muscle with weights.
Resting longer will help you build muscle and strength, but may decrease the total amount of calories you burn in a given workout (or if you only have an hour, you won’t be able to get through as many sets and exercises).
Resting too short will let you move fast throughout a workout and burn calories, but won’t provide you with enough recovery to train the muscle hard enough (with enough loading) to grow muscles (or retain them).
6. Program Supersets, Circuit Sets, and Other Time Efficient Workouts
You can also use supersets and circuit sets to really boost your workout efficiency and further fuel muscle growth.
These are advanced training techniques that have been previously (supersets vs circuits) and should be incorporated to help you stay moving while also training a ton of volume (total work) within a workout.
7. Adding Cardio Can Help a Little, But Don’t Replace Weights for Cardio
Most people assume they need to do cardio to lose weight, however, research shows that weight loss can be done without any cardio, and in fact, excessive cardio can actually result in more muscle loss during a weight loss diet.
If you are already training with weights and are looking to burn a few more calories, then adding some cardio can be helpful, however, it is important to remember it is not necessary (and should never steal workout time away from doing weights).
- Related Article: Cutting Fat Without Cardio (What Does the Science Say)
8. Use a Pre-Workout Caffeine to Boost Your Workout Energy if Need
Supplementing with a pre-workout caffeine may be helpful during weight loss simply because your energy levels may be low.
When eating less, we have less energy. This can also be compounded if you are not sleeping enough.
While caffeine should not be used as a crutch to solve poor sleep (as it can also contribute to it if taken later in the day), it can be helpful in increasing energy levels, focus, and even performance during your workouts.
Sample Weight Loss Meal Plan
Below is a sample 1800-calorie day.
This meal plan is set for an individual who has followed the steps above and found their TDEE to be ~ 2200 calories.
The plan below is by no means a diet plan to follow, but rather an example that you can use to adjust based on your own numbers.
You should also refer to the steps above to determine how to adjust your intake week to week.
Sample 1800 Calorie Meal Plan (180g or Protein)
Breakfast (~500 calories, 27g or protein)
- 3 Whole Eggs
- 2 Egg Whites
- 1 Cup of Berries
- 1 Cup Cooked Oatmeal, prepared with water
Lunch (~500 calories, 35-40g protein)
- 2 Slices of Whole Grain Bread
- 1 T Mustard
- 1 Slice of Tomato, Onion, and Lettuce
- 1 Banana
- 4-6 oz Low Fat Turkey Deli Meat
Dinner (~500 calories, 30-35g protein)
- 1 Cup Steamed Broccoli
- 1 Cup of Cooked Rice (white or brown)
- 4-6 Oz of Lean Protein (Fish or Chicken)
- ½ Avocado (small avocado)
Snack 1 (300 Calories, 35g Protein)
- 1 Whey Protein Shake
- 1.5 Cups of Skim Milk
- 1 Apple or Banana
Sample Weight Loss Exercise Routine
Below is a 5-day workout routine that trains all major muscle groups at least twice per week.
All rest periods should be between 60-90 seconds unless otherwise noted.
Most of the exercises below can be found in the Fitbod app, however, the exact workouts are not.
You can use this 5-day program as a template to build your own inside the Fitbod app.
Lastly, if you need to customize this based on your own gym, you can do so by finding alternative movements in the Fitbod app.
Simply select the muscle group that is trained by the movements below, and insert an exercise that you have access to based on the recommendations from Fitbod.
Day 1 – Chest, Back, Arms
- Barbell Incline Bench Press: 4 sets of 8-10 reps
- Machine Chest Fly: 4 sets of 12-15 reps, then go directly into push up
- Superset with bodyweight push up: 4 sets of 10+ reps
- Machine Assisted Pull Up: 4 sets of 8-10 reps
- Lat Pulldown: 4 sets of 12-15 reps, then go directly into straight arm pulldown
- Superset with Straight Arm Pulldown: 4 sets of 12-15 reps
- Preacher Curl: 5 sets of 8-10 reps, resting only 45-60 seconds between sets
- Dumbbell Skullcrusher: 5 sets of 8-10 reps, resting only 45-60 seconds between sets
Day 2 – Lower Body, Abs
- Back Squat: 4 sets of 8-10 reps
- Leg Press: 4 sets of 12-15 reps
- Romanian Deadlift: 4 sets of 8-10 reps
- Lying Hamstring Curl: 4 sets of 12-15 reps
- Walking Lunge: 3 sets of 30 steps
- Decline Sit Up: 5 sets of 10+ reps, resting 30 seconds between sets
Day 3 – Shoulders and Arms
- Machine Shoulder Press: 4 sets of 8-10 reps
- Dumbbell Lateral Raise: 4 sets of 12-15 reps, then go directly into upright row
- Superset with upright row: 4 sets of 10+ reps
- Machine Assisted Dip: 4 sets of 8-10 reps
- Triceps Pushdown: 5 sets of 12-15 reps, resting only 45-60 seconds between sets
- Dumbbell Hammer Curl: 5 sets of 12-15 reps, resting only 45-60 seconds between sets
- Dumbbell Incline Curl: 5 sets of 12-15 reps, resting only 45-60 seconds between sets
Day 4 – Lower Body, Abs
- Deadlift: 4 sets of 8-10 reps
- Lying Hamstring Curl: 4 sets of 12-15 reps
- Leg Press: 4 sets of 8-10 reps
- Seated Leg Extension: 4 sets of 12-15 reps
- Walking Lunge: 3 sets of 30 steps
- Sit Up: 5 sets of 10+ reps, resting 30 seconds between sets
Day 5 – Chest, Back, Shoulders
- Barbell Bent Over Row: 4 sets of 8-10 reps
- Machine Row: 4 sets of 12-15 rep
- Smith Machine Incline Bench Press: 4 sets of 8-10 reps
- Machine Chest Press: 4 sets of 12-15 reps, then go directly into push up
- Superset with push up: 4 sets of 10+ reps
- Dumbbell Lateral Raise: 4 sets of 12-15 reps, then go directly into upright row
- Superset with upright row: 4 sets of 10+ reps
Looking for a workout program? Try using the Fitbod App, which will design your program based on your logged training data and goals. The workouts will adapt automatically to your levels of recovery and rate of progress. With over 600 movements and exercises videos, you can be sure to perform the movements correctly for optimal results. Take the guesswork out of your workouts. Try Fitbod for free.
What To Do After 60 Days
After the 60 days, you will first want to ease your way back into non-dieting.
Most people make the mistake of eating a ton of food to celebrate their success, and quickly gain weight or even regain all of the weight back.
You will want to spend 2-4 weeks slowly incrementing your calorie intake, through a process of “Reverse Dieting”.
This means that in the first week post your 60-day diet, you will only increase your calorie intake by 5-10%.
You may have a slight gain of weight, but it should not be more than ~10-20% of your total weight loss.
If you are gaining weight too rapidly, you need to eat less as you are not OVER eating.
About The Author
Mike holds a Master’s in Exercise Physiology and a Bachelor’s in Exercise Science. He’s a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist (CSCS), USA Weightlifting Advanced Coach, and has over 10+ years of experience working with collegiate athletes, national level lifters, and beginners alike. Mike is Founder of J2FIT Strength and Conditioning, a growing global training company with gyms in New York City, Cincinnati, and online offering personal training, online custom coaching programs.