For the vast majority of you who weigh more than 120 pounds, 20 pounds of recomposition (which I'll define below) will make you look and feel like a new person, so I suggest this as a goal. If you weigh less than 120 pounds, aim for 10 pounds; otherwise, 20 pounds is your new, specific goal.
Even if you have 100+ pounds to lose, start with 20.
The term "recomposition" is important. It does not mean a 20-pound reduction in weight. It's a 20-pound change in appearance. A 20-pound "recomp" could entail losing 20 pounds of fat or gaining 20 pounds of muscle, but it most often involves losing 15 pounds of fat and gaining 5 pounds of muscle, or some blend in between.
Designing the best physique includes both subtraction and addition.
The 100-Unit Slider: Diet, Drugs, And Exercise
How, then, do we get to 20 pounds? Imagine a ruler with 100 lines on it, representing 100 total units, and two sliders. This allows us to split the 100 units into three areas that total 100. These three areas represent diet, drugs, and exercise. An equal split would be 33% diet, 33% drugs, 33% exercise.
It is possible to reach your 20-pound recomp goal with any combination of the three, but some combinations are better than others. One hundred percent drugs can get you there, for example, but it will produce the most long-term side effects. One hundred percent exercise can get you there, but if injuries or circumstances interfere, the return to baseline is fast. The better bet is to opt for 60% diet, 10% drugs, 30% exercise.
If you're unable to follow a prescribed diet, as is sometimes the case with travel or vegetarianism, you'll need to move the sliders to increase the % attention paid to exercise and drugs (for example: 10% diet, 45% drugs, 45% exercise). The numbers need not be measured, but this concept is critical to keep in mind as the world interferes with plans. Learning diet and exercise principles is priority #1, as these are bedrock elements. Relying too much on drugs makes your liver and kidneys unhappy.
Tim Ferriss is author of the #1 New York Times and Wall Street Journal bestsellers, The 4-Hour Workweek, The 4-Hour Body, and The 4-Hour Chef. He is one of Forbes Magazine’s “Names You Need to Know."
Photo: Via H&M.