Fat loss. Take a minute and Google this. When I did, Google came back with about 1,080,000,000 results. The truth is this shouldn’t surprise us. This is probably the number one reason people give when asked why they exercise, join a gym or go on a diet. Well, in actuality, the number one reason is probably weight loss (which gets used interchangeably with fat loss but is actually not the same). Why is this? Why is this the one of the most searched topics in fitness? Especially when you consider the fact that most of us know on a gut level what we should be doing if we want this to happen? Well, I will tell you in a minute, but before I do that, let’s go over the stuff you already actually know.
- You need to regulate your food more. You know this. If fat loss is your goal, then your fork is your primary weapon, not a treadmill. (Side bar– I didn’t say diet for a reason. More on that later.)
- Yes, you need to move more. Driving to work for an hour, working for 8-10 hours behind a desk and then driving home for another hour is not helping you any. Btw, it also goes against the very function your body was designed for. You were made to move.
- You need to sleep more. All kinds of good and wonderful things happen when you sleep. Growth hormone and testosterone levels normalize when your sleep is right. These things are pretty helpful if fat loss is in your goal set. Not to mention, that if you sleep more, you will recover from your workouts better. You will also make better food choices during the day. So shut off your phone, stop scrolling Facebook and go to bed.
- Drink more water. Yes, it’s that important. Drinking at least two liters of water a day can help boost your metabolism. Not to mention, the more water you drink, the less other stuff you will consume. In addition, dehydration can be mistaken for hunger. So drink up.
Pretty simple list right? And let me guess, none of this is new? So, why aren’t we doing more of these four things? I’m about to give you my answer, but before I do that, let me reassure you that I say this with love. I’m not trying to be preachy or snarky so please don’t take it that way. We all okay here? Good, here’s my answer. You’re not ready.
If you are ready, then I just gave you the most simple and broken down approach possible. If you aren’t ready, then you’re all fired up and want to ask questions like:
- Which protein supplement should I be using after my workouts?
- Is fruit bad for me when I’m trying to lose fat? (Side bar 2– Nobody ever got in trouble with their weight eating a bag of apples. Just sayin.)
- Are white potatoes bad for me?
- How many calories should I be eating?
- Can I go for a run?
- Do I have to run?
- Will pilates help me lose fat?
- Should I be eating acai berries?
- Should I cut out dairy?
- Should I eat all organic?
If you fall into this category, then you are still gathering information. You’re teetering between the “Contemplation” stage and “Preparation” stage of behavioral change. But here’s the thing folks. Nothing changes until you act. And yes, I know it’s hard. Change is hard. But that’s life. And yes, I know you have reasons why you haven’t. But, again I say this with love, we all have reasons. You have to find reasons to change if that’s what you want. Stop finding reasons not to. If you actually want to change, then you have to do the work. Look at that list of four things above and start working on them. Now. Are there more details to flesh out? Yes, but if you’re still hung up on that, you’re missing the point! Figure out a way to start working towards these things TODAY.
Now, I hope you don’t feel like I am beating up on you because I am not. I just want you to stop thinking so much and just go and do something. Take that first step and then figure out the rest as you go along. Now if you are moving forward and still need some more details, here are a few things that you might not know.
- Diet with as much food as possible. If you are going to reduce your caloric intake, do it in small, slow chunks. Don’t go to the chopping board and cut out heaps of calories. Taking out big chunks is a quick ticket to rebounding. You’ll make quick progress, but eventually you will stall and your only option will be to cut out more. Follow this path long enough and you either run out of food or your crash and burn. Guess which option your body will most likely drive you to? Here is a pretty easy approach to nutrition to follow:
- Eat protein with every meal. 1-2 palm size portions should do the trick.
- Eat plenty of fruits and vegetables. Use fruits in place of previously starchy snacks. Eat vegetables liberally. They are nutrient dense and low in calories.
- Drink at least two liters of water. Half your body weight in ounces is ideal. Avoid drinking your calories. Protein shakes don’t count here but yes, beer and wine do. Sodas too.
- Choose whole food or at least whole grain starches. Potatoes, sweet or white, barley, brown rice and whole grain pasta work here.
- Adjust your portion sizes. How you do this is up to you since we are really just talking about reducing your intake. Fasting works for some and is currently my (as in for me personally) preferred approach. Small plates work for others. Meal prepping is also a good tool here. Figure out which path you want to take and then follow it for a while (meaning weeks). You can then adjust accordingly.
- Get stronger. More strength, across all rep ranges, means more muscle. More muscle means a higher metabolism. A higher metabolism means you can eat more food. This means that even when you are eating at a deficit, you will still be eating a pretty good amount of food. If you get bigger with weight training instead of leaner, is it possible that your increasing your food intake to deal with the extra energy demands of the muscle and the taxing workouts that build it? Again, this bears repeating, muscle raises your metabolism. That means that if your caloric intake stays the same, as you gain muscle, your body will look for those extra calories from somewhere. Fat is nothing more than stored calories. Are you picking up what I’m putting down here? No weight lifting pun intended.
- Get your heart rate up. All things being equal, interval training is a more effective approach to fat loss than steady state work. That’s not to say that steady state(think continuous movement) work doesn’t have it’s place. The choice here comes down to what you can recover from. If you are finding yourself having a hard time recovering from your strength training workouts (see above) then some brisk walking might just be the low-stress calorie burner your body needs. However, if you feel like you can do more than just a brisk walk, find a place to do some sprints. Bust your tail at it and then call it a day. Short and sweet (oh and hard) is the name of the game. This isn’t the place or plan for your marathon prep.
- Start small. But start. The failure for a lot of people intending to take action is that when they do, they try to do too much. Find the one thing that you can work on today to get you closer to your goal and go do that. And just do that for now. Give it a couple of weeks and then layer on the next thing. Or you could progress thing number one to a higher level if that’s appropriate. But again the key is to start.
So, I hope you have found this informative and most importantly, I hope you do something with it. And please remember everything I have said here, I say with love. I want you to succeed. You got this.