How To Effectively Lose Body Fat
Health and fitness is ‘in’ right now. Each day it seems we are seeing more and more people dressed in fitness clothing… This is great, but there is one small problem. There still seems to be a lot of confusion over the answer to a very big question: How do I lose weight?
DEFINING WEIGHT LOSS AND FAT LOSS
Weight loss essentially refers to a reduction in overall mass. If you worked out how many calories you burned per day and then created a small deficit on this through the calories you take back in, it’s impossible not to lose weight. Even if you create this deficit and don’t exercise, you’ll still lose some fat, some muscle and probably some water. If you do exercise it’s likely that you’ll lose more fat, but crucially, less muscle. I’ll explain this in more detail shortly.
But of course when most people say they want to lose weight, what they’re really getting at is they really want to shift the FAT that’s knocking their self esteem, causing anguish and in some cases, physically affecting their health. By ridding yourself of excess fat, you will begin to notice aesthetic changes to your body as opposed to fixating over a number on the scales… after all it’s just a number. If you weighed more but were happy with your appearance would you be happy? The answer is probably yes.
SO WHAT CAUSES FAT GAIN?
Despite the myths, you can eat carbs after 6pm, you don’t have to kill yourself through exercise and eating a bunch of super foods in excess won’t make you thin (quite the opposite!). These sensationalised golden theories are brought about through the media, magazines and some self proclaimed ‘health experts’ and will lead you to believe fat loss is somehow optimised through their own magic breakthroughs such as; the 5:2, juicing, paleo, low carb, low fat, 6 meals a day, intermittent fasting, killer workouts, cleanses and so on…
The truth is that these probably do evoke some degree of fat loss because there is calorie restriction involved. But the truth is also that it can be much simpler than all these unnecessary extremities.
Excess fat has accumulated for a reason. You need to identify the reason and stop it – instead of jumping on the next golden ticket to fadsville. Here’s a few reasons why fat can accumulate:
- Simply eating too many calories in comparison to calories you burn over a significant period of time is probably the biggest reason. If you can imagine a gradual topping up each day you put in more than you get out.
- Eating too many processed foods lacking in fibre and slowing down digestion.
- Food binges resulting in extortionate calorie intake. Why do you binge? Is it emotional? Is it a result of poor meal planning?
- Do you move enough? Could you walk instead of drive?
- Do you have enough muscle mass? Studies show that those with more muscle mass will burn more fat at rest than those with less muscle mass.
IS CALORIE RESTRICTION THE BEST WAY TO BURN FAT?
Not necessarily. Whilst a reduction in calories will trigger fat loss, excessive restriction is actually harmful. We also need to remember that we burn fat just by being alive. As I mentioned above, various scientific studies support the simple fact that eating less calories than you expend each day will lead to some degree of fat loss – this won’t ever change. But we still need to fuel our body and give it the energy and nutrients it needs to be healthy. When energy stores are low, it’s actually muscle that begins to waste away before fat because, believe it or not, fat is actually more valuable to us in terms of survival, as opposed to muscle which serves us to enable our limbs move more efficiently.
So there’s little benefit from starving yourself or massively restricting your calories. The likely outcome will be loss of muscle which will debilitate your ability to burn more fat at rest and result in less energy to move to burn more fat in the first place. Excessive calorie restriction may also lead to food binges.
SIMPLE CHANGES THAT GET RID OF FAT
Whilst in scientific terms, it literally comes down to calories, a greater deal of importance needs to be placed upon what foods are eaten as opposed to just considering how much food is eaten. The problems lie in the decision making process. Here’s a few simple methods you can introduce to your diet to help with fat loss:
- Eat nutrient dense foods. These are more likely to fill you up and prevent you from reaching for the chocolate biscuits.
- Eat more protein. Studies indicate that per kg of body weight, we should be eating between 2g and 3g of protein. It’s the most filling macronutrient and keeping protein levels high will ensure your muscle mass remains.
- Eat breakfast. Literally skipping breakfast doesn’t make you fat. It’s the panic binge eating by mid morning or double portions at lunch of high calorie/high sugar foods that that can make you gain fat. Energy is so low you need an instant pick up. Sugar is the instant hit, but it’s not a nutrient and won’t fill you up.
- Move more. Whether it’s a 15 minute walk at lunchtime or a spot of gardening, these are legitimate forms of exercise. If you move more, you burn more fat. Simple.
- Avoid processed foods. Foods heavily processed usually aren’t nutrient dense. Therefore it’s unlikely they will fill you up, meaning you have to eat more to be satisfied and thus increasing your calorie intake beyond what it should be to maintain or lose fat.
- Vary the food you eat. You’ve heard ‘balanced diet’ and ‘everything in moderation’… nothing has changed. Variety will make sure you get a broad array of nutrients, keep things fresh and stop you from consuming too much of one thing.
WILL EXERCISING BURN MORE FAT?
Yes. You don’t need me to tell you that exercising is going to burn more calories in a day than not exercising. Simple walks, gardening and washing the car are all legitimate forms of exercise. But is there a form of exercise which burns more fat than others? Scientific evidence suggests there is… So what is it?
Weight training. Various studies suggests that calories burned during resistance training is on a par if not higher than cardio (non resistance) training, but it’s what happens afterwards which is interesting. There is evidence to show that resistance training causes a continual burn of calories higher than basal metabolism (burning calories at rest) for up to 6 hours after a resistance session has concluded. This is why I’m such a huge advocate of weight training for people who want to lose fat.
Normally we associate the weights room with those that are looking for muscle gains and whilst muscle will be developed, fat will also be burned and continue to burn… Much like topping up fat by eating too much food each day. Contrastingly, consistent weight training will actually top up your ability to cut down fat levels. So you potentially burn more calories during, burn more calories for hours after and increase muscle mass to ensure you burn more fat the rest of the time. It’s a no brainer… and no you won’t look like the hulk!
MESSAGE TO TAKE AWAY
So it’s not necessarily all about the calories. Focusing on the process, decisions and consequences by which you make up the calories is also important. These are the simple challenges behind changes to body composition and ultimately achieving fat loss. If you take care of the simple scientific process, make small changes and remain consistent then the calories will take care of themselves, and so will fat loss.
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With over 70 delicious recipes, eating & exercise structure, tips on how to plan your success and understandable pieces of nutrition science, this guide is a real way to change things for the present and forever.
Also… don’t forget to check to check out some of my healthy, lean recipes on Instagram too! Just search for ‘fitnesschef_’