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Holistic Weight Loss: A 14-Step Guide

Ronan Diego exercising

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Summary: Mindvalley's Lifestyle Consultant gave 14 research-based weight-loss and muscle gain techniques to the team. Now we are sharing it with you.

You are about to discover the official 14-Step Guide for Accelerated Holistic Weight Loss & Muscle Gain developed by Mindvalley’s Human Advancement Lab (HAL) and WILDFIT.

HAL is an internal initiative at Mindvalley designed to turn our team members into top performers in terms of their mind, body, soul, and the impact they create.

WILDFIT is Mindvalley’s official partner for health and nutrition transformation.

This document was crafted for the Mindvalley team based on the top 14 science-based fitness principles so they can reach their ideal weight and maintain a well-toned body. We decided to make this public so others could benefit as well.

Here are the 14 steps:

Food and Nutrition

1. Break Up With Sugar And Carbohydrates
2. Eat Sufficient Protein
3. Take Fiber-Rich Foods
4. Stay Well Hydrated
5. Increase Your Fat Burn With Caffeine
6. Don’t Get Hungry

Physical Activity

7. Strength Training
8. High-Intensity Interval Training (HIIT)
9. Work out in a fasted state

Sleep and Mindfulness Practices

10. Sleep Minimum 8 Hours Every Day
11. Meditate Your Stress Away
12. Visualize Your Ideal Body

Social Influences

13. Develop A Buddy System
14. Seek The Advice Of An Expert

Read on to learn more about the story of how this guide was born. 

About the Guide

How would you rate your body confidence and appearance on a scale of 1-10?

This is how a session starts with Mindvalley’s in-house fitness expert. We don’t want to know how many kgs or lbs you want to lose; rather, what your ideal body composition is that would make you feel good about yourself.

Isn’t that why we’re doing it in the first place?

Personal growth is not just about the mind & the soul. Nowadays, we have all the necessary equipment and nutrients to rapidly turn our body fat into muscle mass. Today, getting into our desired shape can be achieved faster than ever. 

Yet, currently more than one in two adults and nearly one in six children are overweight or obese in the OECD area. The health & fitness industry is an $80 billion business but it seems like most of its systems are failing us. This is why we decided to take things into our own hands and get our team members super fit.

It all started when Vishen Lakhiani, the founder of Mindvalley turned 40 and realized that he wasn’t meeting his fitness standards anymore. In order to get into shape again, like always, he turned himself into a human guinea pig.

One of the first things he did was to go on the WILDFIT program by Eric Edmeades. WILDFIT focuses on using behavioral change psychology to shift your internal dialogue around food. Within 9 weeks, he went through a massive transformation. Vishen’s body fat percentage went from 22% to 15%. He had to alter every shirt in his wardrobe to fit his new body.

Following his own success and witnessing powerful transformations in others, he decided to bring the program to Mindvalley: Since then, thousands of people have gone through WILDFIT via Mindvalley’s Quest app and experienced incredible changes by integrating healthier eating habits into their lifestyle.

The change in their health and psychology around food was the first step toward their transformation from an average look to a toned body.

But it wasn’t the end. In fact, for most people, it was only the beginning. Many people, after completing WILDFIT, find themselves wanting to improve their condition even more. Further, they also discover that they have the extra energy and motivation to make it happen.

In other words, after becoming healthier and more conscious about their food choices and body, they were ready to put on some muscles. That’s when Mindvalley took its Human Advancement Lab to the next level. We decided to create our own in-house strength and muscle-building program based on the latest science on fitness. 

What we found is that most exercise programs are rooted in outdated science and they’re often over-hyped. We took a purely scientific approach by adopting methods based on quantitative measurement. We ran experiments on our own on test groups of up to 80 people and we tracked around 50 different variables on each individual.

We wanted something that could be integrated into the lifestyle of a busy CEO easily while bringing outstanding results.

The results were huge when we discovered the Super Slow Method popularized in the book “Body by Science.” 

What we were able to deliver was a 25% average strength gain from the Big 5 weight training exercises in an average of 117 mins a month of workout time (that’s 30 mins a week in the gym).

It’s not yet released to the public in full yet (we have another 100 participants to test it on) but for now we call it by the codeword “10X”.

Here, for example, is our CEO, Vishen Lakhiani’s transformation.

Vishen combined WILDFIT with our Super Slow Strength Training Protocol.

First, WILDFIT took him from 22% body fat to 15% body fat in 90 days. Then in February 2017, he started 10X.

He only spent an average of 40 minutes per week in the gym while his chest size went from 98cm to 103.5cm. Besides the looks, he achieved a 50% strength gain in the five main exercises of the training.

Mindvalley’s Human Advancement Lab now combines WILDFIT with 10x, our muscle-building protocol, and both programs have been incredibly transformational for our employees.

Here’s a picture of Jason Campbell, our Head of PR & Business Development. Jason dropped close to 30 lbs and went from tummy to 6 pack.

The good news is that you actually need to spend less time in the gym to achieve your fitspiration body — less than 120 minutes per month on average, to be exact.

Here’s the 14-Step Guide To Accelerated And Permanent Fat-Loss with a quick introduction by the author.

The Complete 14-Step Guide to Accelerated and Permanent Fat-Loss

Lorenzo Delano, Chief Fitness R&D expert at Mindvalley and Vishen Lakhiani’s personal fitness consultant explains how to use this list of 14 points to get the most out of this guide.

Food & Nutrition

Contrary to popular belief, 80% to 95% of your weight loss and muscle gain results depend on your eating habits overruling exercise, and other elements of your lifestyle.

Vox explains the science in this remarkable article. Don’t believe the lie that you only need to exercise to lose weight or that weight loss is based on a simplistic calorie in – calorie out model.

Food companies love to push that out there so that people feel like they can eat whatever they want as long as they burn it off. It doesn’t work that way.

Since this is the most crucial category, let’s start with the 6 science-based principles of nutrition that will improve your health and accelerate your weight loss and muscle gain.

1. Break up with sugar and carbohydrates

If this is the only agreement you make with yourself, you are already halfway through the race. Sugar is the ultimate enemy, and it comes in various forms.

If you check the product labels in the supermarket, you will find that almost everything on the shelf has sugar or artificial sweetener in it, often the top three ingredients. Even food that you wouldn’t even think contain sugar.

The surest bet is to eat only fresh, unprocessed food, in other words, food that looks like it did when nature made it.

healthy salad

Besides focusing on removing what’s harmful from your plate, it is even more important to add as many leafy greens to your diet as you can.

Cut out carbs gradually (especially bread, rice, pasta, and potato) and fill your plate with nutritious vegetables, meat, and egg. Keep some healthy snacks near while you work so that you won’t turn to unhealthy ones when your sugar cravings kick in.

At Mindvalley, we developed a free 7-day program rooted in behavioral psychology that conditions you in 10 minutes a day to break up with sugar — for good. You can take the program on Mindvalley’s Quest App. It’s called “7 Days to Breaking Up with Sugar” and it’s free.

In terms of carbs, there are three levels of intake to consider if you’re aiming to lose weight.

Ketogenic or “WILDFIT Deep Spring” 

By eating less than 25 grams of carbs per day, you can put yourself into a fat-burning or keto state that supports accelerated weight release. That means, if you’ve eaten a banana or a bowl of cashews, you already reach the limit.

Intense? For sure. But extremely efficient as well.

Low carb or “WILDFIT Spring” 

Eating between 25 and 100 grams of carbs per day still supports holistic weight loss for most people, particularly if they combine that with an excellent workout routine.

“WILDFIT Summer”

If you are not concerned with losing much weight, you have more flexibility and can increase your carb intake to between 100-150 grams.

2. Eat sufficient (high quality) protein

Protein is misunderstood and vital. It is actually not protein that we need but, rather, the amino acids that it’s made of.

Proteins are complex molecules that do various biological jobs in our bodies. We eat proteins to get amino acids and then we use those amino acids to make the proteins our bodies need.

The good news for you is that digesting most protein takes a lot of energy so you may be burning more calories than you’re taking in. This also means that protein has a lower risk of being converted into body fat.

What does this have to do with a six-pack?

For a healthy, lean body, your goal is not to lose weight but to lose fat, which is an important distinction. It is actually possible to lose fat, lose inches, and gain weight all at the same time because muscle is denser (smaller) than fat.

Simply put, the more muscle you have relative to your body fat percentage, the sexier you look. But it doesn’t necessarily mean that you lose from your overall body weight.

The key is to combine a nutritional plan that will support both the release of fat and the building of muscle with a workout program that will speed up that process. And protein is key to that.

There are two ways to calculate the right protein intake in your diet.

  1. About 25% of your total calorie intake should come from protein including everything you eat and snack during the day.
  2. You should consume approximately 1 to 1.5g of protein per kg of your body weight. This means that if you weigh 75kg right now, you will need to have at least 75 grams of protein a day.

If you are a vegetarian or vegan, you may find it challenging to meet these criteria but high-protein nuts, seeds, and legumes will help you reach a good balance in your diet.

3. Take fiber-rich foods

Both soluble and insoluble fiber can contribute to releasing weight and developing a leaner body.

Soluble fiber can help reduce your appetite and while soluble fibers are technically a carbohydrate, they don’t absorb as sugars in the digestive system.


According to research, soluble fiber can enhance weight loss by decreasing the level of glucose and cholesterol in your blood. It dissolves in your stomach and slows down your digestion so that you can feel full for a longer period of time.

Fibrous vegetables, fruits, legumes, grains, and flax seeds like chia are sources of soluble fiber.

Insoluble fiber, like the cellulose found in many vegetables, is another carbohydrate that is not absorbed as sugar. Instead, it turns into a jelly-like substance in your belly, supporting the natural gut bacteria that help you digest your food.

4. Stay well hydrated

Your body needs water to make muscles. Staying consistently hydrated means that as your body works to make muscle, it will be well-stocked in one of the most important ingredients: water.

Further, thirst is one of the 6 Core Hungers that drive all of our eating decisions. Staying hydrated can help to keep cravings at bay.

5. Increase your fat burn with caffeine (optional)

Caffeine, when used carefully (and not by those who are sensitive to it), can help with releasing weight. It increases heat production in your body and thus, helps you break down fat faster. It releases excess energy by lowering your triglyceride levels, the main constituent of body fat.

Though coffee and tea enhance fat burning and has a positive effect on your mood and energy, it needs to be taken in mindful moderation. We often consider it as a socially approved addiction but consuming caffeinated beverages daily can lead to tolerance and often to dependence.

caffeine for weight loss

Balance, as always, is the magic word for managing your weight and your energy level at the same time.

If you are a coffee-lover, make sure you release that extra energy in exercise or other physical activities to avoid anxiety. Make sure you get enough quality sleep so that your body can recover during the night.

An occasional caffeine detox also helps reset your tolerance level to normal. Make gradual changes in your volume of intake so that you can avoid the discomfort of side effects.

Get coffee from sources you trust; we recommend both Bulletproof and Purity for fresh, high-quality, ethically produced, and mold-free coffee.

6. Don’t get hungry

Hunger is, effectively, scarcity. When the body feels scarce, it will be reluctant to spend any energy on building additional muscle mass, and, worse, it will send out emergency messages to eat.

WILDFIT founder Eric Edmeades explains this as a survival mechanism. The hungrier we get, the more flexible our food rules become.

This way, as our regular food sources are limited, we would be motivated to turn to alternatives. This leads us to eat things that are convenient in the short term, even when they are detrimental in the long term.

By avoiding hunger and having healthy snacks around, we can tell our bodies that it is safe to release excess weight and build healthy muscle.

Physical Activity

Now you know that exercise is not the number one contributor factor to weight loss. But it’s important to emphasize that losing weight is also not the only benefit of working out.

Physical activity is a key component of a healthy lifestyle: among other benefits, it enhances your mood, your brainpower, and your overall mobility.

However, if your sole aim is to create a better body composition, you actually don’t need to work out a lot; you just need a better system for exercising. Here are three insanely effective workout methods for quick weight loss and muscle gain.

7. Strength training

If you want to look better, lift heavier. Strength training is the single most efficient way of converting your body fat into muscle, especially when you’re already in a calorie deficit. While you are perfecting your diet and eating in moderation, this workout will preserve your muscles.

Man lifting free weights and getting into shape at 40

Another amazing benefit of lifting weights is the so-called afterburn effect. Strength training will dramatically increase your basal metabolic rate and your body will continue burning fat for several days after your exercise is over. This also means that you don’t need to go to the gym every day: go once or twice a week and push yourself beyond your limits.

Research has shown that by lifting heavier weights, you can burn hundreds of calories more than by using lighter weights. Just make sure you increase the pressure gradually so that you won’t injure yourself.

8. High-intensity interval training (HIIT)

The single biggest myth in the health and fitness industry is that the more you work out the more weight you lose. I know this might sound shocking so let me say that again.

Increasing the time you spend on exercise won’t get you better results.

The hourly rates of gyms and the way we structure our calendars fooled us into thinking that we are supposed to exercise for 60 minutes. Which is fine if you want to do some physical activity for fun, but not if you want to get into better shape.

HIIT workout

HIIT workouts can last as little as 4 minutes up to a maximum of half an hour and they have been proven repeatedly more efficient than low-intensity steady-state cardio, aka traditional exercise plans.

A study conducted by the University of Western Ontario, they found that people lost more fat doing 4 to 6 30-second sprints (with 4-minute rest periods) than 60 minutes of incline treadmill walking.

So if time has been preventing you from hitting the gym, this is good news for you. Just start with a 4-minute daily Tabata workout and refine it as you go. These 4 minutes will increase your metabolic rate lasting up to 24 hours until you get ready for the next set.

9. Work out in a fasted state

When you exercise with your insulin at a baseline level, your body is able to burn more fat during your workout than when your insulin level is high.

After you finish a meal, it normally takes anywhere between 2-6 hours for your insulin level to drop again depending on the type of food you eat and your hormone level in general. Avoid food for a few hours before working out, and your weight-loss speed will go up.

Even though you might not be able to maintain the same physical intensity for so long as you could with a fed belly, it should not be a problem if you stick to your High-Intensity Interval Training.

The only risk involved in working out in a fasted state is potential muscle damage: If you are working out with heavy weights after a long fasting period, we suggest you take HMB (β-Hydroxy β-Methylbutyrate) which is a supplement that prevents muscle breakdown.

Sleep & Mindfulness Practices

Our minds control our bodies. The subconscious mind is not only responsible for digestion and the immune system but it can even shape the way we look.

At the same time, binge eating is one of the most common addictions today and most people who overeat have little or no awareness of it. If we try to eat ourselves to fulfillment and happiness, no amount of food will cure our feeling of emptiness.

This is why we need to cultivate mindfulness about not just what’s going on inside our bodies but inside our heads as well. Here are the three most important steps we can take toward your desired body composition.

10. Sleep a minimum of 8 hours every day

Even though this might sound simple, I cannot emphasize how important this is for maintaining a healthy weight and body composition.

When we sleep, our bodies completely shift from the fight or flight state of our everyday hassles to a rest and digest state. It is when we give rest to our bodies that we digest most of our food intake and build muscle.

Scientists found that when participants in the study had less than seven hours of quality sleep during the night, they started gaining weight. Lack of sleep for an excessive period of time also increased the chance of obesity for children with 89% and for adults with 55%.

adequate sleep

Poor sleep habits also increase your appetite and cause you to take more impulse decisions — including the ones responding to your cravings. All in all, the less quality sleep you get, the more weight you gain. And the more weight you gain, the harder it is for you to sleep, which can turn into a vicious cycle.

The best way to prevent this is to establish a bedtime routine for healthy sleep. Set a reminder for an hour before your planned time of sleeping and eliminate all digital devices and strong light from your environment. Invest in a comfortable pillow and dark curtains.

Relaxing herbal tea blends and magnesium as a supplement can also contribute to a good night’s sleep without any side effects.

11. Meditate your stress away

While meditation is rarely associated with nutrition and exercise, this might be one of the most transformative habits of all. Stress is one of the main contributors to weight gain, and what is the best solution for long-lasting stress release? Meditation.

It decreases the level of the stress hormone called cortisol in your body, which affects your insulin sensitivity, and thus, your metabolism. At the same time, it prevents you from stress-eating as well.

When you stop and listen inward, your mind is able to reflect on what you really need. And so, if next time you ask yourself: Do I really want that cookie? You can say: Nah, I’ll just go and hug someone.

It’s all about making it a habit. You can get started with this free course, the 6 Phase Meditation and take up this successful habit in less than a week.

12. Visualize your ideal body

In 2008, researchers conducted an experiment on hotel maids and asked them how much they exercised. Even though these women did heavy physical activity on a daily basis, some of them said that they didn’t exercise at all only because they were not aware of it.

After some of these women were reminded of the fact that they live an active lifestyle, the results were astounding: Within a month, the maids who were educated about the effects of their work lost weight, decreased their waist-to-hip ratio, and even their blood pressure dropped.

This is just one of the experiments proving that our consciousness can even shape the way we look.

Visualizing your muscles working hard during your exercise routine can multiply your results. In addition to that, ask yourself the question: What kind of person do I need to become to reach that optimal body composition?

Is it about planning a more nourishing diet, saying confidently no to temptations, or sticking to your workout schedule? Is there an emotional block you need to overcome? Visualize yourself having all of these achieved and develop the mindset that will get you closer to your ideal shape.

Once you think like the person with your desired look (and take actions accordingly), that extra weight will simply melt away.

Recommended for you: Hypnosis for Weight Loss: Work With Your Mind to Transform Your Body

Social Influence

We are like the 5 people closest to us and this usually applies to our weight as well: A study from 2007 showed that the friends we are surrounded with literally influence our waist size.

The people we are attached to has an impact on many of our personal choices and habits including our dietary preferences and our workout routine. In other words, if you are the thinnest person in the room and if you want to lose weight, you are probably in the wrong room.

If peer pressure is standing between you and your beach body, here’s what you can do.

The A-fest community after working out together
The A-fest community after working out together

13. Develop a buddy system

One way to go about it is to spend time with people who are thinner than you. Observe what they are doing differently as a part of their lifestyle and try to adopt a few good habits!

On the other hand, you can partner with an accountability buddy or with someone who is willing to train with you and discuss your weekly progress together. According to a 2005 study from Brown Medical School and Dartmouth University, partnering with someone who is serious about dieting (and therefore successfully slims down) increases your chance for weight-loss success.

14. Seek the advice of an expert

Nowadays, it is easier to find a personal trainer or dietician than the right sports shoes. If you don’t have the time to do the necessary research, tracking, and goal setting and you’re serious about getting fit, hiring a coach may be a good option for you.

Remember, learning without implementation won’t get you the results you desire. Start taking the first step towards your ideal weight and body composition now, and track your daily commitments. The more you work your way down the list, the sooner you will see your desired outcome.

What’s your biggest challenge when it comes to toning your body?

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Written by

Tatiana Azman

Tatiana Azman is the SEO content editor for Mindvalley and a certified life coach. She brings a wealth of experience in writing and storytelling to her work, honed through her background in journalism. Drawing on her years in spa and wellness and having gone through a cancer experience, she's constantly on the lookout for natural, effective ways that help with one's overall well-being.
Picture of Tatiana Azman

Tatiana Azman

Tatiana Azman is the SEO content editor for Mindvalley and a certified life coach. She brings a wealth of experience in writing and storytelling to her work, honed through her background in journalism. Drawing on her years in spa and wellness and having gone through a cancer experience, she's constantly on the lookout for natural, effective ways that help with one's overall well-being.
Lorenzo Delano, co-founder of Mindvalley's 10x Fitness Quest
Expertise by

Lorenzo Delano, co-founder of the 10x Fitness Quest, began his journey in health and fitness at age 16 after his brother’s preventable death due to an unhealthy lifestyle. With over a decade of academic research in exercise and body science, Lorenzo has developed 10x as the culmination of his findings for optimal fitness.

He collaborates with top educators like Ben Greenfield and Ken Wilber to create transformational programs and frequently conducts 10x-based training sessions for a diverse audience, including students and teachers. His dedication to advancing fitness education is reflected in his innovative approach and the impact of his programs.

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