A sustainable way to lose fat in 10 steps

 (On average, our successful clients lose 20 lbs in 12 months)

Today I am going to show you exactly how our clients have found a sustainable way to lose fat that gets them results like this:

  • Down 9 pounds of body fat in 3 months.
  • Down over 20 pounds of body fat in 10-12 months.
  • Their clothes are fitting the way they want them to!
  • And finally, they just feel comfortable in their skin again!

This case study will show you exactly how they did it with raw facts.

Let’s dive right in!

Sustainable Way to Lose Fat Results

The chart above is actual data from our clients that have stuck with our personal training & nutrition program for over a year!


Expectations on what a sustainable way to lose fat looks like

Step 1

Set expectations on what a sustainable way to lose fat looks like

Step 2

Identify your goal and why it is important.

Step 3

What does your typical day look like?

Step 3 Baseline Measurements

Step 4

Take in depth baseline measurements of body fat, muscle mass, water weight, etc.

how to eat CLEAN

Step 5

Review how to eat C.L.E.A.N

review major macronutrients

Step 6

Review the major macronutrients.

Step 7

Review how to build a balanced meal.

review custom meal plan

Step 8

Next we review the client’s custom meal plan that is customized to provide a sustainable way to lose fat.

Action Steps and Short Term Goals

Step 9

Set action steps and short term goals.

Ongoing Nutrition Coaching

Step 10

Ongoing coaching, follow up & accountability (this is the most important!)

Step 1

Set expectations on what a sustainable way to lose fat looks like.

This part is very important. Why? Because fad diets, diet pills, social media and everyone in the world preaches that you can lose 30 pounds in as little as 30 days.

Here is what we believe is sustainable with our clients:

  • 1.65 lbs of bodyfat per month
  • 0.5% -1/0% of body fat % per month.

And the proof is in the pudding.

Let’s review the data!

Expectations on what a sustainable way to lose fat looks like

Under our program of eating real whole food in proper proportions throughout the day we have noticed a few things,

Of our long term successful clients:

  1. Body fat tends to drop like a rock in the first few months.
  2. Afterwards, change comes at a slower pace.
  3. The average body fat loss over the initial 12 months period is 1.5lbs per month!
Average body Fat Loss in Pounds

Why is this so? Well because most new clients are consuming a high amount of processed carbohydrates and sugar.

By eliminating that we see drastic change.

In addition, we speed up their metabolism by getting them to eat a balanced meal every 3 hours!

But after the initial 3 months, they have to continue to dial it in to continue to see results.

The low hanging fruit has already been clipped.

And our Nutrition Coaches help them do that!

Some clients let those cheat meals sneak back in after the first few months of success.

Hey we have all done it!

But that is why our nutrition coaches are there to help!

To get you back on track.

More on that later.

Our client’s data also tells us, the average loss in body fat percentage has been about 0.63%.

I will precursor this with the fact that the majority of our clients tend to be older and metabolism is a bit slower than the general population.

We have seen averages of as high as 1.5%-2.0% of body fat percentagle loss per month for some of our younger clients. 

Average Body Fat Percentage Loss

So what is the point of all this?

Well if you are looking for a sustainable way to lose fat, you are going to have ups and downs!


Metabolism How Often Should You Eat


Is it because our program is like all the other diets.


It’s because life happens. Stressors happen. You will trip up. Our clients have tripped up. I have tripped up. But it’s important to get back on track.

That is why in all of our consults we are pro-active and identify stressors that are coming up so we can get in front of them.

Hint this is where an ongoing nutrition coach comes in handy (More on that in step 10).


Step 2

 Identify your goal and why it is important?

Goals are great, they get us started but a goal is just a statement.

Question is:

How do you set a goal that is going to help you lose weight for the long term?

When we start with a new client we help them set S.M.A.R.T. goals.

Let me explain!

We want our clients’ weight loss goals to be SMART or:

  • Specific – “I want to lose weight” is good, but “I want to lose 20 pounds of fat in a year” is best.
  • Measurable – “I want more energy at the end of the day.” is good. But “I want to run the Baltimore Marathon” is best. See what I mean? Having “more energy” is subjective. Finishing a race is measurable
  • Attainable – Is your goal attainable? Losing 20lbs is doable and our clients are able to do it over the long term. But losing 20 lbs in a week is not realistic or safe.
  • Realistic – See above…it’s about setting realistic expectations as we discussed in Step 1.
  • Time Sensitive – We have noticed that when clients come in with a goal that has an exact date, such as a wedding, they are very successful. Deadlines make things happen!

Finally, and this may be the most important, is you need to fully understand your WHY! And it must have an emotional attachment.

When a goal has a deeper meaning the success rate is very high.

Wanting to lose 15 pounds is a goal.

But wanting to lose 15 pounds because you hate the daily struggle of getting dressed in the morning and how your clothes feel is your WHY!

Step 3

What does the client’s typical day look like?

Next we like to find out what a typical day looks like for our clients.

 This is important because we need to meet our nutrition clients where they are at. 

Here is the kicker though.

Our client’s tend to have a few different “typical days”

 During this step it is important to establish a baseline and listen.

We want to know not only what they are eating but when and if they are eating the following meals

  • Breakfast
  • Lunch
  • Dinner
  • Snacks (preferably two)

The most common thing we see with clients just starting out is they are skipping breakfast and barely eating until lunch. Then late in the day they binge eat on carbs.

We call this hibernation mode. You are teaching your body to hold onto everything because you will only eat 2-3 times a day.

Check out what Signum’s Head Nutrition Coach Emily has to say about the timing of meals in the video below.  

Metabolism How Often Should You Eat

We also want to know some other important things such as:

  • Alcohol & water intake. Just consuming 60oz-80oz a day of water is enough for most to rev up their fat burning machines.
  • How often they workout.
  • How often they like to eat out.
  • Do they have experience in logging their food.

This is not the entire list but they are important metrics we need as we build out their custom nutrition plan. (MORE ON THAT BELOW)

Step 4

Take Baseline Measurements

We measure things like:

  • Body weight
  • Body Fat
  • Body Fat %
  • Skeletal Muscle Mass
  • Water mass
  • And finally measurements in their chest, arms, hips, waist and thighs.

    We track data and here is how we do it!

Step 3 Baseline Measurements

First we review with the client their body composition of water, dry lean muscle mass, as well as fat.

InBody Body Comp Analysis

Then we review how much total fat loss is recommended by the World Heath Organization based upon the person’s weight, height, gender and age.

Metabolism How Often Should You Eat

Next, we review their skeletal muscle mass (SMM) and body fat. All are stated in pounds.

We dont focus too much on body mass index (BMI) but we do track body fat percentage (BF%)

Metabolism How Often Should You Eat

This can be a lot of information to digest at first so we like to use the “C-I-D” Method for clients trying to find a sustainable way to lose fat.

1) The “C” is where most clients start. It is a high amount of body fat relative to bodyweight and muscle mass.

2) The “I” occurs when total weight is dropping due to a loss of body fat and not muscle mass.

3) Finally the client achieves a more toned “D” shape. Weight has dropped entirely due to a sustainable way to lose fat.

Why all this data? Because the data most people are used to looking at , a.k.a the dreaded scale, doesn’t tell the entire picture.

Especially in those first couple months when it is so critical.

For example check out the analysis of this client below.

After 1 month the scale was showing a 4 lbs increase in weight.

This is enough to discourage anyone that is trying to find a sustainable weight to lose fat. And this client was paying attention to the number on the scale and became discouraged. 

But upon further analysis the client actually gained 2 lbs of muscle working with one of our online  personal trainers.

Body fat stayed relatively flat and the rest of the increase was due to water weight. The client is now drinking 80oz of water a day!

Metabolism How Often Should You Eat

Step 5

Review how to eat C.L.E.A.N

Before we get into the details of our program we go over some basic principles.

 We teach them that our program will get them eating CLEAN!

Here is what we mean.

How to Eat Clean

C: Consistency – We aim to have our clients eat within 1 hr of waking and consistently every 3 hours.
L: Liquids – Water is HUGE when it comes to weight loss. It is KEY to metabolism and breaking down fat. We aim for 60-80 ounces per day. There are a couple strategies:

  • Use a water bottle with a straw.
  • Adding fruit or mint to your water bottle.
  • Set alarms.
  • Use rubber bands around your water bottle to remind you of how much you have had.
  • A game changer is cutting out sodas and juices.

E: Eating Out – Beware of all the sodium and fat added to foods to improve taste when eating out. It can cause you to gain additional water weight. We focus on the plate method when eating out.
A: Adequate Calories (too much or too little) – Tracking your food helps you stay accountable to yourself. Clients who track their food have a much higher success rate than those who don’t.
N: Nutritious Foods (Quality Macronutrients over quantity) – You want to focus on whole foods not food products. Try and shop the perimeter of the grocery store. Look at the ingredients label – we teach you what to look for.

Check out what our head nutrition coach, Emily, has to say about it.

What does it mean to eat CLEAN

Step 6

Review the major macronutrients

Next we educate clients along the way about proper nutrition.

That starts with answering the question of “What are Macronutrients?”

The common misconceptions are:

  • “All carbs are bad.”
  • “Fats are right up there too”
  • “and protein is the only thing we should eat.”


But that’s just not true. Here’s why. 

major macronutrients

We address the role of macros in more depth in our post What Are Macronutrients (macros) & Why Should You Care?

But here is the gist. 

Role of Carbohydrates

Carbs are the body’s main source of energy. So much so that the brain runs almost exclusively on carbs.

But not all carbs are created equal.

We focus on low glycemic carbs that won’t spike blood sugar and insulin levels.

Role of Protein

Protein is often thought of as macronutrient that can do no wrong. The more protein the better right? Not really

Yes, protein is essential for building muscle.

But more and more protein does not simply equate to more and more muscle. The average person can only absorb about 30 grams at one time.

Too much protein can put a lot of stress on your kidneys.

However we do find that most are not eating enough protein right after a workout along with a simple service of carbs.

Role of Fats

Fats are essential to our brain and the functioning of the nervous system.

The body can also use fat as fuel. Some diets are predicated on this. A la keto. But research has shown it is not as efficiently as carbs when it comes to post workout recovery.

Healthy Food Options Guide

Generally speaking we focus on only consuming mono & poly unsaturated fats.

This can all be confusing and leave your head spinning.

So we just give our clients this nice guide as to what is good and bad.

Gravitate towards the green, avoid the red and moderate the yellow.

Healthy Food Options Guide

Step 7

Review how to build a custom meal as a sustainable way to lose fat.

OK you made it this far.

This is where the details and minutiae happens

Get your pen and paper out, this is going to get technical.

how to build a custom meal plan

At Signum we recommend a caloric intake mix of 40% carbs, 30% protein, and 30% fat. That is across all meals.

The first thing we do is determine the client’s body fat % using our InBody machine.

From there we also factor in the client’s current body weight as well as how much they currently exercise (aka activity factor).

From this we calculate how many servings the client needs to consume as a sustainable way to lose fat.

Zone Block Calculation Graphic

For example, in the pictures, a 165lbs client with a body fat percentage of 25% and an activity factor of 0.65x

Activity Factor Calculation

should consume about 12 servings each of protein, fat and carbs.

The following is the math on how we got to that number

So in our example we have a 165lbs person that has 25% body fat. Therefore, their lean body mass is 124 pounds [165 x (1-25%)].

Next we need to apply an activity factor. In our example, this person exercises about 1-2x per week for about 30 minutes.

This person is just a beginner so we are assuming they go out on walks and maybe one of those workout sessions is a treadmill or strength training with weights.

Next we multiply the activity factor x lean body mass to get the total number of grams of protein per day this person will consume.

In our case it is 81 grams or (124lbs x 0.65 activity factor).

Next we divide 81 grams by 7 to get a total of 12 servings of protein in a day.

The final step is to calculate the total servings of carbohydrates and fat as well. And it’s simple.

It’s the same as the protein!

Therefore, in our example, this person will need to consume 12 servings or protein, 12 servings of carbohydrates and 12 servings of fat in a day!

We now apply the math that 1 serving of carbs is 9 grams. 1 serving of protein is 7 grams. And 1 serving of fat is 3 grams. Therefore, in this example, this person will be consuming:

  • 108 grams (12 x 9) of carbs
  • 84 grams (12 x 7) of protein
  • Finally 36 grams (12 x 3) of fat.

And not to confuse you any further, protein and carbs both contain 4 calories per gram, whereas fat contains 9 calories per gram.

So the daily caloric intake across the 3 macro groups is:

  • 432 calories of carbs (108 grams x 4 calories/gram)
  • 336 calories of protein (84 grams x 4 calories/gram)
  • 324 calories of fat (36 x 9 calories/gram)

Total caloric intake per day for this individual is 1,092.

Low and behold the calorie intake is split at 40% carbohydrates, 30% protein & 30% fat!

Have you gone cross eyed with that explanation? It’s ok.

That is also why we often skip the math because we dont wan’t our clients getting discouraged. 

Step 8

Review the clients custom meal plan

For many of us all the math reviewed in Step 7 can be daunting!

We become paralyzed by numbers, calculations, etc. What is a macro again?

How many grams of fat make 1 serving?

Where is a vegetable? Is it a carb or protein?


“Nutrition shouldn’t be this complicated!”

review custom meal plan

Forget this!

Do you feel this way right about now. I mean you are just trying to find an easy, sustainable way to lose fat!

That is why we create custom meal plans for our clients.

We take the guess work out of it.

Sample Meal Plan

The sample meal plan above is written and backed by Healthy Steps Nutrition, a Registered Dietician that we partner with.

On top of that, we have a Registered Dietician on the team here at Signum!

Only Registered Dieticians can legally write and prescribe custom meal plans.

So simply copying this plan for yourself may not be the best strategy.

Included is a shopping list as well as a link to the recipes on our site on how to make the highlighted items.

We create these custom meal plans for all of our nutrition clients.

There are even vegetarian and gluten free options.

Do they have to follow the plan to a T for it to work? No!

But, here are some strategies to create a sustainable way to lose fat:

  1. Set aside a day to grocery shop.
  2. Set aside a day to meal prep.
  3. If you are starting out don’t try to both on the same day.
  4. If you don’t mind eating the same thing for breakfast just pick one breakfast in the week and prep that.
  5. #4 goes for lunches as well
  6. You dont have to follow the meal plan to a T. You can swap out a breakfast for another breakfast or a lunch for a lunch.

Step 9

Set Action Steps and Goals for the Next month

“A goal without a plan is just a wish”

This can be said of anything, especially nutrition related goals.

That is why we create action steps for our clients to tackle over next 4 weeks.

And they are little goals. Things that are achievable.

You have to set manageable and achievable goals in the short term so that clients can see them as possible and take action.

Taking action is the biggest barrier.

Action Steps and Short Term Goals

But not everyone’s action steps are the same. Our nutrition coaches meet client’s where they are at.

For example, Client A may be great at meal prepping but drinks too much soda. While Client B skips breakfast but is great at drinking 80oz of water a day. So their action steps will be different.

But here are just a few of the hundreds of action steps we have set with our nutrition coaching clients over the years:

  • Drink 60oz-80oz of water a day
  • Try to start eating a breakfast
  • Include protein and a simple carb in your post workout
  • Include at least 1 vegetable a day. Next month we will try for 2.
  • Cut down to 1 soda a day. Next we will try to cut it down to half a soda before completely getting rid of it.
  • Start including 1 snack a day to speed up your metabolism. Next month we will try for 2 a day.
  • Use the plate method when eating out with the family on the weekend.

And some of the more advanced action steps are:

  • Log your food in My Fitness Pal (MFP) so we can review it in our App
  • Try to build your own meal plan using MFP
  • Start meal prepping for the week.

The action steps we create are not set. It is important to meet our clients where they are at.

If you want to create a sustainable way to lose fat for a client you can’t ask someone that eats fast food and soda every day to start meal prepping and logging their food.

It’s too high a barrier.

You have to start with something more simple to show them success.

Then build upon that success.

Which leads us to the final and most important step in finding a sustainable way to lose fat.

Step 10

Ongoing Nutrition Coaching, Follow Up & Accountability

Rome wasnt built in a day.

Steve Jobs didnt build Apple to what it is today over a “12 Week Challenge”

The same can be said for the majority of people looking for a sustainable way to lose fat.

You need to be prepared to work over the long term.

You need someone to be accountable to!

Ongoing Nutrition Coaching

I have shown you how our clients do it. This is literally our system! But it is the accountability and follow up that a nutrition coach provides from month to month that get’s the job done.

short term client nutrition results

It all starts with mindset. We used to make nutrition only a 3 month commitment. And guess what we found?

Those clients werent getting the same results even in those first 3 months that our long term clients were!

So we stopped talking about 3 month plans & started talking about how long it will actually take!

The mindset has changed dramatically for new clients looking to lose weight!

We tell everyone that wants to lose 15+ pounds that it will take up to a year to do it.

Some may take longer depending on where they are starting at.

But notice that not one of our clients was able to get there in a 3 month time frame.

This is not a quick fix or fad diet.

This process is a SUSTAINABLE WAY TO LOSE FAT over the long term.

Every month our nutrition coaches sit down 1-on-1 with their clients to discuss:

  • What went well over the last month
  • What were their struggles
  • Take weight, body fat, muscle mass & other measurements.
  • Identify upcoming stressors and roadblocks (i.e. travel, vacations, etc) so that we can be proactive and plan for them.
  • Review their goals and create new action steps.

The ones that stick with working with a nutrition coach on eating real whole foods in proper proportions are the ones that have found a sustainable way to lose fat!

Did we miss anything?

Now we would like to hear from you!

Maybe we forgot to mention something that works very well for you!

Leave us a comment below!