The fastest way to lose fat is not a long gradual journey, it is a series of steps, alternating between rapid loss and no change. You will learn discipline and healthy eating by following the long gradual approach that can help you maintain the results once you’ve achieved your goal. I recommend the long gradual approach to everyone because of the lifestyle management and educational opportunities it presents. But if the goal is to get the weight off as quickly as possible, a repeating cycle of 4 weeks of intense exercise and then 1 week of recovery will get you there faster that anything else.
The body adapts to change very quickly and will become more efficient at maintaining a state the longer it is held in that state – doing 45 minutes of cardio three days a week while eating 500 calories fewer per day will achieve the most weight loss during the first few weeks. Soon after, the rate of loss will drop off and then stabilize. This makes sense from a survival point of view because you need the body to function on as much energy as is available in the environment and you need it to adjust to conserve energy when there is a shortage and burn more when there is a surplus.
Intense exercise can be regarded as a shortage of food as you are creating a caloric deficit through motion vs. food restriction; intense exercise also increases the BMR with leads to a further deficit. Just like a real food shortage, the body will adapt over time to function more efficiently with the lower number of calories. The goal of cycling the exercise in 4-week blocks separated by 1 week of rest is to minimize this adaptation and then reset the body to function under normal caloric conditions. This is what will generate the fastest weight loss because it eliminates the body’s powerful ability to adapt to changes in the environment to conserve energy.
It’s also important to remember that the rest week will help to keep your immune system functioning at a normal level. Extended periods of a sustained caloric reduction have been shown to dramatically suppress immune functioning.
I am not advocating that people take this approach to weight loss, I’m just saying that this is what works the fastest. Lifestyle and behavioral modification are the safest and more effective ways to long-term weight management but if you aren’t interested in that, here’s the solution you’ve been looking for.