So, you want to lose body fat… join millions of people across the world who set out to do just that. What’s the popular recipe for fat loss? Tons of cardio and extreme caloric restriction. Everyone wants to lose weight fast and this is one way to do it. What most don’t realize, is that this could be a recipe for disaster for your body. Although high amounts cardio does burn the most calories, it also makes your body more efficient with calories. This means your body slows down its metabolism because you don’t need the calories while being a lighter body weight. Then on top of that you eat less food. Your body creates a new “set-point” of calories and when you bring calories back up and don’t keep up with high amounts of cardio, your body will store the excess calories as body fat. Nobody wants to lose weight and gain fat. There are ways to prevent this from happening AND set yourself up for consistent fat loss. So, here are 5 rules to follow for fat loss over time!
1. Prioritize Resistance (Strength) Training Over “Cardio”
This is EXTREMELY important. For consistent fat loss, you must prioritize strength training over cardio. Why? Your body adapts to cardio VERY easily. That means your body is becoming more efficient at doing it leading to less calories being burned. In order to burn more calories, you’d have to do EVEN MORE cardio. This isn’t optimal for losing body fat, or overall health. This can put a big strain on your nervous system which will jack up your hormonal system. Not good. It can also impact metabolism in a negative way if you’re doing too much cardio. With your body becoming more efficient, it lets go of muscle it doesn’t need, therefore when your body is at rest (because you have less muscle) you burn less calories because your body doesn’t have to work as hard with less muscle. We want to prioritize strength training. When you strength train and focus on getting stronger, your body adapts very slow and speeds up its metabolism. You will gain muscle and will be able to use many different training variations over time so you never get bored AND most importantly, it is very hard for your body to adapt. This is ESPECIALLY true when you have excellent programming and a coach with you along the way. You can have your training 100% individualized to your goals/lifestyle/needs by filling out my online coaching application HERE. With more muscle, your body burns more calories. This means more fat loss over time.
2. Improve Food Quality
Plain and simple: most people are eating entirely too much processed foods. This is no secret. Chronic illness is higher than ever before and this is largely to do with inactivity and poor food quality (and too much damn food and not enough movement). One way we can surely set ourselves up for consistent fat loss is improving food quality. But, if you’re not eating any veggies and expect to throw yourself into a “quick fix” templated nutrition plan or cut out a whole food group, you’re setting yourself up for failure. This needs to be a slow transition by setting small goals on a daily and weekly basis. Along with that, downloading a tracking app like MyFitnessPal and tracking your calorie intake is very powerful for building awareness of what you’re eating. What many people find is that they are eating high amounts of sugar and processed fats OR severely undereating for the amount of activity and stress in your life. Proper nutrition can be challenging, and many times having accountability is KEY for seeing consistent progress. You can fill out my nutrition coaching application HERE to have your nutrition 100% individualized to your goals/lifestyle/needs. We want to aim to eat whole minimally processed foods 80–90% of the time. I also have a list of food AND how you can figure out maintenance calories in my eBook The Results Triangle. If you haven’t gotten a copy yet, shoot me an email firstname.lastname@example.org and I’ll send one right to you (it also includes a 4 week training program).
3. Have Room for Flexibility
If there is no room for flexibility in a nutrition protocol, there is typically only a short window of adherence. I see this constantly with people who try popular dieting fads. Cutting out whole food groups, thinking they “can’t” have certain foods. What you have to realize is that you can have those foods, it just needs to be in moderation when trying to lose body fat. Since processed foods like cookies, ice cream, pizza, pasta, bread etc. are higher in calories and lower in micronutrients they will be less filling. These foods are meant to taste great and they are easy to overeat. The key is to begin to build awareness. How do we do this? We begin to track our food intake. Just making small changes in the beginning, for example, adding in a serving of vegetables after tracking for a week and realizing you eat none is a great place to start. These small factors begin to add up and have an impact on how we view food. Not only does our relationship with food improve, but we find out how to fit in foods we like in moderation while still losing body fat. The general rule of thumb is that 80% of the time we should be eating whole, minimally processed foods… BUT 20% should be available for flexibility. One cookie isn’t going to derail fat loss. A lack of awareness will.
4. Be in a Calorie Deficit MOST of the Time
To lose body fat, you need to be in a calorie deficit. This can be through nutrition or a combination of nutrition and exercise. BUT many people run into issues because they ignore other physiological factors in their life and stay in a calorie deficit for too long of a period. This can have a negative impact on hormones and can damage biofeedback like sleep quality, energy levels, mood, motivation, sex drive etc. This is what we call metabolic adaptation and when you add calories back in, you gain body fat rapidly because your body has adapted to the new caloric set point you’ve given yourself. There are many ways we can structure a fat loss protocol, but being sure you’re tracking biofeedback on a weekly basis is very important (you MUST have accountability for this, fill out my nutrition coaching application HERE). One of the most popular studies done recently is the MATADOR study. This study took obese individuals and one group was in a consistent calorie deficit, the other was in a calorie deficit for 2 weeks, and then 1 week at maintenance calories. The study found that the group that interrupted calorie restrictions with calorie maintenance “rest periods” lost more body fat than the group that was just in a consistent calorie deficit. This makes sense when we think about the hormonal system and biofeedback. Two weeks into a dieting phase and biofeedback starts to decline, coming out of that calorie restriction to upregulate hormones and improve biofeedback will lead to more adherence and sustainability over time.
5. Hire a Coach (Seriously)
Talked about accountability a little earlier but this is something that HAS to be hit on again. The biggest reason people fail when it comes to health/fitness/nutrition is a lack of accountability. Motivation can get you to the gym after the New Year, but motivation doesn’t last. This is a temporary, just like any other emotion. What people need is accountability. A coach that is going to check in with you on a weekly basis to see if you’ve been attending your training sessions, if you’ve been adhering to your nutrition protocol and tracking biofeedback. If you have a coach and they’re not doing this, fire them. If you don’t have a coach and you’re looking to lose the body fat you’ve always wanted to lose (so you can finally feel comfortable in your swimsuit) fill out this application and let’s get started!