Fat lThis week at our first of the Mini Nutrition Workshops for 2018, we talked about the order of priority when it comes to Fat Loss and in particular the things that people often get the wrong way round! When people make the decision to lose weight, or essentially look to lose some body fat, they naturally think they need to do two things; 1) embark on a strict very low calorie controlled diet and 2) run, either on the treadmill or around the streets. Actually this is the exact opposite of what they SHOULD be doing and is a really backwards approach to successful fat loss. Very low calorie controlled diets suck, are miserable and leave you starving and grumpy - and very few people can successfully sustain them. And cardio type training is NOT the most effective way to support Fast Loss.
So, here is the Hierarchy of Fat Loss.
1. NUTRITION. Your diet is ultimately the most important factor when it comes to Fat Loss. You can be running like Mo Farrah but at the end of the day you may as well be running on the spot if your diet isn't dialled in. First and foremost establish you total daily calories to ensure you are in a slight calorie deficit. Secondly, in order to maintain what muscle you have and ideally build more, eat PROTEIN as a priority with EVERY meal. Aim for approx 30g per meal (or 1g per 1lb of lean tissue) - which is roughly the equivalent of a chicken breast.
2. STRENGTH TRAINING. If Fat Loss and looking LEAN is your goal then you should absolutely 100% be lifting weights. Together with eating enough protein is the key to helping you maintain muscle and maybe building some, to allow you to shed the fat. Losing weight with a calorie controlled diet only means you will likely lose muscle and look flabby & skinny. not a good look. LIFT weights 3 - 5 times a week if possible and learn how to Squat, Deadlift, KB Swing, Push Up & Pull Up your way to lean.
3. SLEEP & STRESS. Do not under estimate the massive effect that both a lack of regular quality SLEEP and too much STRESS can have on your fat loss. It can be a big factor in why someone isn't losing fat (IF they are dialling in their nutrition & training!!) and not seeing results. Lack of sleep and too much stress make you crave high calorie, high fat & sugary processed food, plus they effect your appetite making your hungrier AND they sabotage your hormones and energy levels. The big take home here is; SLEEP 7 -8 hours every night, and eliminate as much stress from your life as possible, or at least find healthy ways to control or manage it!
4. CARDIO & CONDITIONING. This should come after you have the first 3 priorities in check. NEAT (see previous BLOG post) or cardio is less effective at supporting Fat Loss but can help if you have the nutrition, strength training sleep & stress dialled in. Cardio burns much fewer calories than most people like to believe, but walking and conditioning is good for your heart health and waistline and is ultimately better than sitting on your ass eating so aim to do 10,000 steps a day as a good measure.
If FAT LOSS is your goal, focus your energies on the priorities in order of the hierarchy and you WILL move the fat from your body. As always consistency & patience is key, cutting calories too low and draining energy is a recipe for disaster and yo yo dieting so don't be tempted to be extreme. A solid nutrition plan, with regular strength training and adequate sleep, stress management is the most effective solution for long term. successful RESULTS. Fat Loss is a lifestyle not a destination.
Things I’ve been asked by members this week so thought I’d share a quick blog ;
“I’ve been on this diet for a week, I’ve lost 3 lbs., but I don’t see any change in how I look."
“I’m getting so frustrated. I’ve been on my Nutrition to a TEE for the last 3 weeks, and although I can feel my measurements are going down I don’t look ripped and I don’t really see anything going on."
Ive heard variations of those comments from many-many-clients over the years. I’m sure some of you guys have heard yourself at some point when following a certain diet or approach to nutrition.
Truth? Typically no progress is fast enough, particularly if you have a long way to go and a lot of excess BF and a history of following fad / yo yo diets!
Take the Paper Towel Analogy and the picture of the two paper towel rolls - one is a before picture at your heaviest and unhappy and the second is you, 12 weeks in having decided to do something to change your poor lifestyle choices and having lost some fat. As you start losing fat (or tearing off sheets of the towel roll) you might not immediately notice any change but as time goes on, the more fat you lose (towels you lose) the more noticeable it becomes and then all of a sudden other people begin to notice and you can see it!
So often, in the beginning when you are putting in the effort to make good choices and lifestyle changes and being consistent, you might think that nothing is happening, it just takes a while to see it, this is particularly true when you are heavier and have a longer way to go. Unfortunately we live in a world where we expect immediate gratification. And fat loss doesn’t work like this.
Stay consistent, be patient and trust the process. Dont get frustrated and think its not working, it is! and you will never see the RESULTS if you always give up before you give yourself time.
You CAN DO THIS!!
I hope that by now, after the first two Nutrition Workshops in the series you are beginning to understand the simple basic rules of PROGRESS Mode, in that;
To LOSE weight (i.e. fat) you need to be in a consistent calorie deficit. This might mean that from time to time you will feel hungry. And guess what? Thats Okay!
To GAIN weight (i.e. muscle) you need to be in a consistent calorie surplus. Which means that sometimes you will feel full and you still need to eat, even if you're not hungry. And guess what? Thats totally fine!
If you are in FAT LOSS MODE then your focus should be to eat LOW CALORIE, NUTRIENT DENSE whole foods. Why? Because they provide essential nutrients & vitamins to fuel your body to move & train, its the most effective way to blunt hunger, they can be created into tasty meals which satisfy you & prevent cravings for sugar & shit, and they will fill you up, whilst remaining in a calorie deficit. This can include, but is not limited to: Oats (yes, I did say CARBS, because you can eat carbohydrate and lose fat!), Green Soup (CARBS), Strawberries/Blueberries (FRUIT also CARBS), Fish (PROTEIN), Poultry (PROTEIN), Eggs (PROTEIN), Greek Yoghurt (PROTEIN), Cottage Cheese (PROTEIN), Spinach/Broccoli (GREENS).
If you are in trying to GAIN more lean muscle mode then you should eat HIGH CALORIE and not very filling foods so that you can eat more, without feeling like you're going to explode and maintain your calorie surplus. This can include, but is not limited to: Avocado (FATS), Nut Butter (FATS), Quality Red Meats (PROTEIN), Rice (CARBS), Granola (CARBS), Full Fat Milk/Yoghurt (FAT).
Thats not to say that these lists are exhaustive, or that you can/can't eat things in the other camp. One of the reasons I avoid giving clients prescriptive Nutrition plans where I tell you exactly what to eat is because rather than tell you what to do, I prefer to help you to understand HOW it works and that whatever is 'best' for the individual largely depends on you then individual, because despite what social media might have you believe ONE SIZE definitely doesn't fit all. There isn't really a RIGHT or WRONG way, some people choose to eat meat, others are vegan. And thats cool. There are no BAD or CLEAN foods - be careful with health food halos, that would have you believe that because you bought it in a Wholefoods store and its organic/gluten free/vegan its also healthy and calorie free. Nope.
Take home message here? Stick to the basic principals for whatever MODE you're in. You can eat carbs and fruit if you're trying to lose fat as long as you maintain a consistent CALORIE DEFICIT. Protein sources and fats fit well on both sides. Finally, its not fancy. Its not magic nor does it guarantee FAST results (or Jessica Enis abs in a week) in 7 days. But it is realistic and sustainable. And it works.
More to come...
How big is your spoon?
One of the reason why I advise using MyFitnessPal to track your daily nutrition is because even if you're eating good quality, real, whole foods its still very easy to gain weight. Actually its also possible to eat crap food and lose weight if I'm being honest (although I would strongly advise against this method if your health is important to you). Either way, what I'm saying here is that ultimately if youre looking to drop body fat ratio and/or lose weight - it comes down to calories. The calories you consume on a daily basis (food & drink) vs the calories need to survive (NEAT, sleep, live & your activity level). Im a big advocate of eating REAL whole foods but you also need to be calorie conscious if you don't want to get fat. Simple. I can't just eat what I want, unlike many people would like to think, I have to nail both what I eat to fuel my busy lifestyle AND how much I eat to maintain the physique I own. The good news is that it IS POSSIBLE to eat a decent amount of good food every day, feel full & satisfied, feel strong and healthy. But portion control is the key. Some might call this will power, either way, it matters and its the difference between seeing the results and not. Take the picture above for case in point. a level tsp (15g) of Nut Butter is 94 cals. I sometimes add it to my greek yoghurt and it nicely rounds up my fats for the day. 1 heaped tsp of Nut Butter (30g) is around 188 cals, and this will push me over my daily maintenance calories, to the point where if I do this consistently, over time I will gain weight. So while I encourage including healthy fats in your nutrition, you need to be mindful of the portion size you're eating especially when you're goal is to lose weight! Its these kinds of incremental changes that can make BIG differences and sabotage your results. Its the equivalent of adding in an small, extra snack every day that you don't account for a food. Nut butters are often referred to as health foods, but eating a whole jar in a week is going to fuck up your fat loss, if you don't make allowances for the additional calories, which you probably wont. The reason I advise eating real food over snacks in general, is because you can eat much more food for the same number of calories, which means you're more likely to be satisfied and less likely to be miserable or binge. The take home lesson here is, when it comes to high calories treats, even if deemed 'healthy', be mindful about how much you eat and how often - stay accountable and then you will reach your goals without having to sacrifice or cut out the odds you enjoy.
From Cardio Queen to LEAN Machine...
When it comes to fat loss its important to establish your goal at the outset. If you don't have a destination that you want to get to, how can you expect to go in the right direction?? Once you have a clear idea WHERE you want to get to, its important to know where you are now, i.e. your starting point. Only when you have the two clear in your head, can you begin to map out what you need to do to get there. Destination CHECK - Current location CHECK - Route Map CHECK.
Taking the time to understand where you are now will help you to workout HOW you bridge the gap to get to where you want to be. Its no different to planning any journey - and one size approach doesn't fit all.
My recommendation is to change one or a few of your current behaviour /habits at a time from your current lifestyle. Do enough to make a change but don't try and do too much or you'll be less likely to succeed or stick to it for the long term.
GOAL ONE 'I WANT TO LOSE FAT & WEIGHT'
If your goal is to lose weight AND drop body fat then achieving a calorie deficit is key. If you are over weight for your size/age and also carrying a higher ratio of fat to lean body mass, your priority must be NUTRITION as number one. The best nutrition plan for you to follow is simply the one that you can stick to over the long term. Your training should simply support this goal and is the second priority after your nutrition. Move more (NEAT - see previous BLOG post), such as daily walking or do something formal that you enjoy. In the gym RESISTANCE training (lifting weights) should be your priority - not necessarily to burn calories but also to maintain lean muscle mass, as ultimately the more lean muscle you have the faster your engine/metabolism is to drop weight and help you get leaner.
GOAL TWO 'I WANT TO LOSE FAT AND LOOK MORE TONED'
If you want to lose fat and look 'more toned' it is all about improving you overall body composition. its possible for slim people to carry too much overall body fat ratio - often referred to as 'skinny fat'. You might have a healthy weight for your size/height and to the normal eye not look overweight but when you're naked you might have areas of stubborn body fat, often around the belly, upper arms. Dieting hard isn't the goal here. And doing more cardio activity or classes isn't the solution! instead you should follow a smart RESISTANCE training programme that challenges you. Focus on getting quality protein in your daily neutron to support our lean muscle building, help recovery and remove junk from the diet that is contributing to the fat deposits. Calorie wise aim for maintenance calories or just very slight;y below, nothing drastic.
GOAL THREE "I WANT TO BE THE BEST I CAN BE'
If you are small and light, not overweight with a petite frame, you might simply want to improve your overall fitness and improve how you feel about your body. Or you might have succeeded in dropping weight and reducing your body fat percentage and now want to continue to maintain the results. The key for you in the gym is lifting weights and progressive/steady over load. Your nutrition should support your training as fuel rather than the other way around. Eating enough for improved performance and progress is key! Build the engine for a fitter, leader, stronger and happier healthier life!
Remember whatever your personal GOAL, change is a process not a destination. Your goals will change over time and how you look/feel /perfrom will also evolve over the process as you continue to learn about yourself and progress in your training.
LOSE FAT & WEIGHT = calorie deficit + NEAT + lift
LOOK LEANER = calorie maintenance or small deficit + meet preen needs + less cardio more lift
MAINTAIN FOR LIFE = Lift + eat to fuel + meet protein needs for recovery