How Fat Loss Works
Just recently, I had a discussion with a client about how fat loss works. He had been struggling with losing body fat despite eating a low amount of calories per day and exercising three times per week. After our metabolism and physiology lecture, I told him I would write a post to simplify things in 5 key steps or less. Here they are:
1. Have a small calorie deficit.
In the number of calories in (food) must be less than the number of calories out calories out (resting metabolism + exercise) in order to lose weight. There is nothing more simple than that. Your body is comfortable with having a smaller deficit (300-500 calories), but red flags will be thrown up for a 500+ calorie deficit. The common “eat less and exercise more” initiative usually ends up in a larger deficit with way too few calories in and an overexerted calories out, which can alter hormones and affect metabolism, leading us to number two.
2. Have a balanced metabolism
Your metabolism is always trying to break even in all cases. As with example one, creating large gaps in calories send off red flags. If you have a 500+ calorie deficit, it would be very logical that they would lose weight (and very short term they may). However, your metabolic hormones will adapt to only burning as many calories as you take in to break even. It takes your body only a couple of days to adapt to a very low calorie diet, and it usually brings metabolism to a slow crawl. Too few calories or too little exercise can lower metabolism. If you under-eat (which is actually more common than not) eat more calories and make sure you exercise. If you over eat, cut back on food and increase exercise.
As a side note, there are many other hormones that regulate metabolism even if calories are sufficient; a blood test can usually detect these.
3. Be in a healthy state
Your body is much less likely to give up on excess body fat if you have a lot of other health issues going on. It is a basic survival technique where the body will do what it feels to be most important. Getting plenty of fruits and veggies, potentially a multivitamin, and plenty of quality carbohydrates, fats, and proteins while getting regular exercise will assist the body in letting go of some extra fat.
4. Perform inefficient exercise
Exercise will fall in the calories out equation. With the body’s wonderful ability to adapt, the same exercises will continually burn less and less calories than before. Weight training and high intensity intervals are two favorites, as they can be manipulated and periodized to keep the body guessing. Walking and or running may be a great place to start for some people, but the adaptations will come quickly. Which ever you decide to do, change it up every 4-6 weeks.
5. Focus on food quantity and quality.
These last two concepts are difficult for a lot of people. We live in a time where food is fast, cheap, and usually depleted in nutrients. That being said, there are a lot of good healthy options and we have to do the best we can with whats available. Is the non-GMO grass fed pasture raised organic food X going to be the best for you? YES. Is it going to be available and affordable? Probably not. You’ll also find these two go hand in hand. Its very hard to get 800 calories worth of chicken and broccoli, but easy to down a 1200 calorie #3 and X Fast Food place.
This wraps up the post on fat loss. Each section could be a 10 page paper in itself, but the basics are there for you. Please post or ask questions. I’m here for you.