You’re not looking for weight loss. What you want is sustainable fat loss.
Note the difference there, weight implies fat and fat-free mass (muscles, water, bones). Whereas fat is just fat. It’s a subtle difference and I honestly think it’s just most people using the wrong term but it is a huge difference.
An example of weight loss is where MMA fighters need to make-weight by losing 10lbs overnight (yes I’ve seen it). They may use a sauna and different methods to lose water weight, make-weight for their fight and then re-hydrate and bring that weight right back to where it was. Unhealthy!
Another example of weight loss, albeit something that isn’t sought after and I wouldn’t wish for anyone is getting sick. We’ve all been there, having a cold/flu and being bedridden for a few days. The numbers on the scales are bound to come down. Again not what we want. Again unhealthy!
Most of you want to lose some extra pounds of fat. This is what will actually positively impact your health.
An example of fat loss is someone losing a few kilos on the scale but looking a lot leaner, having a reduced waist circumference and being able to pinch less. Images and calipers would be another way you’re able to track this reduction in body fat.
At this point you should understand my initial statements.
You ideally want fat loss which doesn’t reappear after a short ‘transformation’ period of 8 weeks. You want a flexible lifestyle intervention which doesn’t allow you to keep yo-yoing up and down with your body fat. You want to increase muscle mass and energy so you feel great day-to-day and keep off fat in the long-term.
The way you do that is with the following:
- focusing on slowly improving your eating habits as opposed to searching for a ‘perfect diet’, adding a portion of vegetables and a serving of protein to each meal is a great place to start.
- focusing on resistance training 2-5 times per week and in an effort to increase muscle mass. This increased muscle mass means a higher metabolic rate (burning more calories at rest) and looking a lot better in your clothes.
- increasing your daily activity (or NEAT) through walking more. Aiming for a step count is a good idea. I recommend 10,000 steps.
- consuming 1.4 – 2g protein per kg body-weight. Going up to 2.2g per kg may be beneficial too (especially for those of you who are meat free).
- focusing on an 80-20 rule for nutrition with 80% being whole foods and to plan but room for 20% enjoyment foods. By going ‘completely clean’ you run the risk of crashing and giving up as there’s less chance of adherence. It’s about being flexible.
- paying attention to how you feel, how your clothes fit, daily energy, strength in the gym, measurements at certain body parts instead of just scale weight.
Calories wise it’s suggested to begin with small 250 calorie deficits from maintenance. Nothing too drastic, it’s important to take your time. In doing so you will protect hard-earned muscle mass and build strength.
Most people find themselves with alarm bells ringing a few months away from a big event and then trying to take drastic measures. I would suggest planning in advance. The unwanted body fat didn’t accumulate over a month and therefore won’t be lost that quickly.
As a qualified personal trainer this is something I’m always approached about and I’m forever encouraging long-term habits and how to do things properly instead of crash dieting and rapid losses.
In closing I just want to say, fat loss can be very annoying, you’re not eating as much as you want to eat or what you want to eat at certain times, therefore I would encourage diet breaks and taking your time. Both of these encourage better long-term results. Long term results and sustainable fat loss have been the theme of this post, I hope that comes across.
These pointers form the foundation of what I work on with my clients.