The latest version of the Bugatti Veyron — the Super Sport — is the fastest production car in the world, with a top speed of 268mph.
I’m going to use the Veyron to illustrate an important point about why getting your body fat percentage into single digits (the minimum requirement for “ripped” status) is going to take longer than you think, which I’ll get to in a minute.
What prompted me to write this was an e-mail I got from JM, a reader who was frustrated with the fact that his rate of weight loss had slowed down.
“I have lost a considerable amount of fat over the last two months,” wrote JM.
“But in the last 3-4 weeks I’ve really struggled to lose the last little bit to reveal my abs. I feel like I’m doing everything right, but things seem to have slowed down to a crawl.”
“When I watch The Biggest Loser on TV, I see the contestants losing anywhere between 5 and 10 pounds a week. And that’s after the first week, when early fluid losses have been taken into account. Does fat loss slow down over time, or should I be doing things differently?”
Here’s what I told JM…
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People who are very overweight or obese (i.e. your typical Biggest Loser contestant) can lose fat a lot more quickly than someone with an average physique who just wants to drop 10 or 15 pounds to look good on the beach.
There was a study published a while back that attempted to put a number on the maximum amount of fat you can “burn” in a day without losing muscle.
The author came up with a theoretical figure of 290 kilojoules (69 calories) per kilogram of fat per day, or 31 calories per pound.
What this means is that over the course of a week, you’ll be able to lose around 6.2% of your initial fat mass without dipping into muscle stores (31 x 7/3500 = 0.062).
Let’s say you weigh 190 pounds with 18% body fat. That means you have 34 pounds of fat. Using the figures I’ve just given you, over the course of a week you’ll be able to lose a maximum of 2 pounds of fat (34 x 0.062 = 2.1).
Over the course of the next 6-8 weeks you lose 10 pounds with no loss of muscle. You now weigh 180 pounds with a body fat percentage of 13%. But now you only have 24 pounds to lose.
As a result, you’ll be able to lose a maximum of 1.5 pounds of fat (24 x 0.062 = 1.488) without dipping into muscle stores.
Because the amount of fat available to lose has gone down, your maximum rate of fat loss has dropped from 2 to 1.5 pounds per week. And it’ll carry on dropping the leaner you get.
Of course, these numbers are not set in stone and there are a lot of estimates and assumptions being made.
You might be able to lose a little more. Or you might lose a little less. Like most things, it depends on the individual.
What does all of this have to do with a Bugatti Veyron Super Sport?
The top speed of the original Veyron was 253 mph. To increase the speed to 268 mph — an increase of just 15 mph — the horsepower of the engine had to be increased from 987 to 1184 bhp. That extra 200 bhp by itself is a lot more than you’ll get from a lot of cars.
Why so much extra horsepower for such a small amount of extra speed?
Aerodynamic drag increases exponentially with speed. Ignoring the effect of rolling resistance, if 100 bhp would push a car 100 mph through the air, doubling the speed to 200 mph would require not just 200 bhp but 400 bhp in order to overcome air resistance. A speed of 300 mph would require 900 bhp.
To put it another way, the faster the car goes, the harder it is to go even faster.
And that’s exactly what happens when you’re losing fat. The more fat you lose, the harder it gets to lose even more.
As an example, an overweight or obese guy will typically be able to lose somewhere between 2 and 5 pounds of fat per week. But someone who is lean and wants to get even leaner will need to be happy losing 1 pound of fat every other week.
In short, you should expect your rate of fat loss to gradually slow down the leaner you get. It’s quite normal and doesn’t mean you’re doing anything wrong. But it will mean that getting a six pack will probably take longer than you think.
If you want less flab and more muscle when you look down at your abs (or where they should be), check out The Flat Belly Cheat Sheet.
It's a quick guide, which you can read online or keep as a PDF, that tells you exactly how to lose your gut and get back in shape. To get a FREE copy of the cheat sheet sent to you, please enter your email address in the box below, and hit the “send it now” button.