“Tom Venuto is talking about ‘effortless’ fat loss now? Isn’t Tom the fat loss coach who has preached for years about hard work, persistence and self-discipline while speaking out against gimmicks, fads and “quick and easy” fixes? What gives? Has Venuto crossed over to the dark side?”…
No, don’t worry, I’m not claiming that you can melt away fat with no work. However, I do have two tips for you today and I swear it’s true that it will make your fat loss feel more effortless even though you still have to get up and do something. It may only seem ‘effortless’ on a psychological level due to lower perceived effort combined with feelings of enjoyment and satisfaction, but that’s the whole idea behind these two tricks…
1. Make Your Training Fun
At the age of 42, my friend John transformed himself from what he described as a “240 pound physical mess with 41% body fat” into a 175 pound bodybuilder with mounds of muscle and six pack abs. The most surprising part is, he never did “cardio” – at least not formal cardio like on a machine in a gym.
You see, John lives in the red, rocky hills of Arizona. In addition to his weight lifting, John mountain biked, sometimes for an hour a day (even longer on the weekends). Was he burning a lot of calories? You bet. Was he “working hard?” I suppose that depends on your definition of “work.”
Sometimes recreation and fun hobbies can become your biggest calorie burners. So it’s like “fun work.” (That’s no more of an oxymoron for exercise work as it is for career work). I feel the same way about hiking. I’ve covered more than 4,000 miles, including on the Pacific Crest Trail and the Appalachian trail, since 2016.
Did that produce effortless fat loss? Well, let me put it this way: Was hiking up the mountains with a heavy pack physically hard? Yes, of course. Did I love it? Also yes! Would I rather have been on a treadmill? Hell no! Did I lose fat? Are you kidding? On longer backpacking treks, the fat was falling off me. I couldn’t eat enough!
If you believe fat loss can only occur by doing a certain mode or type of exercise, such as cardio machines in a gym or High Intensity Interval Training/HIIT, (even if you hate it), then you haven’t grasped the importance of the energy balance equation yet and you’e limiting your choices, which can easily lead to boredom and dropout.
The fitness industry wants you to believe that there’s there’s one type of magic fat burning exercise that you must do. (The one they’re trying to sell you, right?) But your body doesn’t care HOW you burn the calories, you just have to burn them. Stop looking for magic. Look for something you like, or love.
And remember, exercise is not just for burning calories and fat loss – exercise makes you fitter (it’s nice to not be sucking wind every time you climb a flight of stairs). Exercise is also like magic for your health – and there are in fact, added benefits for both mental and physical health when you opt outside and exercise in nature.
A specific type of exercise (that is perhaps recommended, or even pushed on you by a trainer) might be effective and efficient, but if it doesn’t suit your preferences or if it’s too extreme (or boring) to adopt as part of your lifestyle, it will fail you in the end. Hard work is always necessary for success, but for some people, the line between work and play has been blurred because they enjoy their training so much.
In some cases, the enjoyment even turns into passion. I know for a fact this is true for hikers and cyclists because I’m friends with so many of them. Even indoor training can be more fun and engaging than ever with Zwift and Peloton and so on. When you add on the gamification and social aspects of exercise technology today, you can stay inside if you want to, and no longer dread it (and some people definitely like to stay inside in the summer if they live in the desert).
Here’s a good question: What could you do – indoors or outdoors – to burn a lot of fat, get fitter, get healthier, and have fun in the process? Your choices are virtually unlimited: martial arts, ballroom dancing, team sports, group exercise, swimming, surfing, hiking, mountain biking, spinning, beach volleyball?
Let me repeat myself: There is no magic fat burning exercise, so stop looking for “the one.” If it burns a lot of calories, it will help you get leaner. If it’s even moderately intense, it will improve your health. Start thinking out of the box.
2. Make Low-Calorie, Healthy Food Taste Good
If you think that fat loss requires a diet consisting of bland rabbit food that tastes like sawdust, you couldn’t be more mistaken. Fat burning food can taste absolutely delicious! I know as well as anyone because for years, not only did I believe you had to eat 100% “clean” to get lean, I also believed that you had to eat plain, bland food to the point of self-sacrifice and self-punishment. (I was wrong.)
Truth be told, I do actually prefer a fairly plain, simple, and consistent meal plan, at least compared to most people’s standards. As a bodybuilder, it’s just the way I’ve gotten accustomed to eating. Eating a lot of the same foods also does help with more automatic calorie control. But I do like tasty food and I enjoy a flavorful meal as much as anyone.
In fact, over the last several years, healthy, high-protein cooking has become one of my favorite hobbies. I now have over 240 recipes which I’ve saved in our Burn the Fat Meal Planner Software (available at Burn the Fat Inner Circle).
What’s more, I recognize that most people want tasty food as well as nutritional variety more than I do and that any diet that requires foods that taste… well, tasteless… is not going to be sustainable for the majority of people.
For the better part of my first four decades, I couldn’t cook to save my life. I was “that guy” eating nothing but chicken and broccoli – not just because I thought I had to for getting ripped, but I didn’t know how to prepare it. If I added salsa on top of my egg whites, that was a fancy breakfast “recipe.” But eventually I learned, and it wasn’t that hard. All I had to do is make up my mind to do it.
The problem was, for most of my life, I kept telling myself “I can’t cook”, as if being able to cook were some kind of genetic gift, so no wonder I wasn’t motivated to learn. (“I can’t cook is a terrible affirmation”). If a former kitchen dummy like me can learn how to cook hundreds of delicious, low-calorie healthy foods, then anybody can. I must have at least two dozen ways to make chicken (and I even heard there’s a book called 365 ways to make chicken), so why people still complain that chicken is boring, I don’t know.
The turning point for me was some years ago when I surveyed my readers and inner circle members about what fat loss help they wanted the most, and a large majority asked for recipes that were tasty but also healthy, high in protein and low in calories. That’s when I finally decided I was going to learn and that’s why I’m pretty good at it now. It was a double win because now I love the way I eat, even if I’m dieting for fat loss, and I’ve also been able to share hundreds of recipes with others.
And guess what what? Learning to cook for fat loss and muscle gain was a lot easier than I thought! It doesn’t matter if you eat low carb, high carb or anywhere in between, you can create delicious meals every single day, even if you’ve never cooked a meal in your entire life. You just have to A. Decide, then B. start. You can experiment and get creative later if you want, but all you have to do to start is learn to follow a recipe.
The best part is, when you choose your own food and you cook most of your own food, it makes it seem like your fat loss is effortless, not only because you’re in control of your calories and macros, but also your diet becomes enjoyable. You look forward to your meals when you’re the one who chose them. Following a meal plan dictated by someone else, based on their preferences in food is the worst thing you can do.
So far, I’ve been sharing all of the Burn the Fat, Feed the Muscle recipes with our Inner Circle members and installing them in the Burn the Fat Meal Planner software. I’ve shared a small handful of them here on the blog, but you can look forward to a lol more recipes and tips on healthy and delicious cooking in upcoming posts. For now, I simply wanted to make a point about how learning to cook can make your fat loss effortless.
If you choose a diet that offers no variety or forces you to eat food that tastes like sawdust, it doesn’t matter how effective that diet is for burning fat in the short term, it won’t be very conducive for helping you to stick with your program over the long haul.
Make your training fun and make your food taste good. Just two simple tips. You’ll be amazed at the difference it makes!
What do you think? Post in the comments below… or post on the Burn the Fat Facebook page here.
Train hard and expect success,
-Tom Venuto, Author of, Burn the Fat, Feed the Muscle (BFFM)
Author of, The BFFM Guide To Flexible Meal Planning For Fat Loss
Founder of, Burn the Fat Inner Circle
PS. Even though I didn’t cook back in the days I was bodybuilding competitively, I did actually (don’t laugh) know how to make ONE recipe I depended on for many years and shared with all my readers. It’s the world-famous high-protein apple cinnamon oatmeal pancake. I must have made that one a thousand times. If you’re new here at Burn the Fat Blog, or if you missed this classic, you can see it here: High-Protein Apple Cinnamon Oatmeal Pancake.
PPS. I could start posting chicken recipes. But then again, how about high protein dessert recipes? The newest one I made (#241) was strawberry protein ice cream (only 4 ingredients, 4 minutes to make, 0 sugar, 0 fat. If that sounds good, let me know and I’ll post here on the blog next week.
About Tom Venuto, The No-BS Fat Loss Coach
Tom Venuto is a natural bodybuilding and fat loss expert. He is also a recipe creator specializing in fat-burning, muscle-building cooking. Tom is a former competitive bodybuilder and today works as a full-time fitness coach, writer, blogger, and author. In his spare time, he is an avid outdoor enthusiast and backpacker. His book, Burn The Fat, Feed The Muscle is an international bestseller, first as an ebook and now as a hardcover and audiobook. The Body Fat Solution, Tom’s book about emotional eating and long-term weight maintenance, was an Oprah Magazine and Men’s Fitness Magazine pick. Tom is also the founder of Burn The Fat Inner Circle – a fitness support community with over 52,000 members worldwide since 2006. Click here for membership details