04 May The Fat Loss Blueprint
Fat loss. Something a lot of people are searching for. But how can you lose fat? More importantly, how can you lose fat, and not put it back on again?
While it may seem complicated and difficult to do so, it really isn’t, with the right mindset.
So, let’s start with the basics……
- Get, and set your goal
Finding a goal may seem easy, and initially it can be. Say for example you want to lose 2 stone in weight. That’s great. Well done for having a good goal. But what happens after 3 weeks when you’ve only lost 3lbs? Will you start to lose that motivation that you had in abundance at the start of your fat loss goal? My guess is probably yes. So how can you combat this? Set a smaller goal initially. Yes, still have the longer-term target of 2 stone loss, but why not aim to lose say just 1lbs per week. It may seem small, but it you accumulate the 1lbs loss every week for 7 weeks, that ½ a stone right there! So, by setting smaller targets to reach you main goal, you will be able to keep and sustain your motivation. And sustaining motivation is such a massive part of fat loss.
- Download MyFitnessPal
This is something that will be crucial to fat loss. Unless you are an absolute whiz with eyeballing how many calories food has, you will need to track them via an app. There are a few apps around that do this, and do it well, (my app included), but I find that MyFitnessPal is the best and most efficient around, with the largest database of foods and their nutritional value. When you download the app, you will find that it has a seemingly unlimited knowledge of foods (you’ll do well to find one not in their database), as well as a bar code scanner which allows for even more efficiency. What’s more, is that once you have used the food once, it is automatically saved in the app. So, there’s no excuse really. It doesn’t take much effort at all.
- Calorie Deficit & Start tracking your calories
In order to lose fat, you will need to be in a calorie deficit. You’ve probably heard the term calorie deficit before. But its importance cannot be underestimated. If your caloric intake is imbalanced with what your goal is, you won’t get anywhere. A calorie deficit is when you consume less calories than your body used each day, meaning you will start to use excess fat reserves to make up for the lack of calories you are consuming. As you do this consistently, you will start to see a reduction in body fat. But how can you determine how many calories you should eat? Well, there are numerous calorie calculators on the internet, but the majority of the time they calculate your calories too low, meaning you will be very hungry a lot of the time, and far more likely to binge eat now and again, un-doing all your hard work. So, my advice is to use a calculator that has a slight deficit, for a more achievable, sustainable way of fat loss. Its far better to lose gradually and keep losing, than it is to lose fat fast, and then overeat and put it back on because your diet isn’t sustainable. Once you find your calorie deficit, you can then track your calories to fit appropriately with your goal. Do this for a week, see how you feel, then adjust accordingly. If you need help with this ask your PT or someone who has experience with this.
- Allow for some ‘Treats’
One of the main problems with any fat loss nutritional plan is that ‘treats’ are restricted too much. Yes, we all know that if we eat too much chocolate or crisps it can, and most probably will, result in an increase in body fat, but if you allow them into your diet now and again, not only will it help you keep your sanity, you’re far less likely to binge on these foods, and then over consume calories, again un-doing all your hard work. So how can we fit these foods into our diet? What I do is allow a couple of hundred calories every day (yes, I said every day) in order to have a ‘treat’ if and when I’d like one. This way, if I want a treat, I can, and still be within my calories. If I don’t want a treat, even better, and I’ll be well within my calories for that day. Finding the right balance will be critical to sustainability, and you won’t even seem like you’re on a ‘diet’. The majority of foods will have to be nutritious, but don’t completely deprive yourself.
- Don’t count calories burned onto your calorie allowance
I hear this a lot from clients who add the calories they have burned onto their calorie intake goal for the day, only to find that they aren’t seeing the results as quickly as they would like. This is because a lot of the time calories burned on smart watches are very inaccurate. So, my advice is to ignore them as much as possible. MyFitnessPal can also add these calories onto your calories target if it is linked to your fitness tracker, again making the whole counting calories more complicated. My advice is to switch off the calorie tracker on MyFitnessPal, and to only use your fitness tracker for steps and reading your heart rate when working out. Calories burned will take care of themselves during exercise. All you should focus on is the calories you consume.
- Be Active
There is a lot of emphasis around being active to burn body fat. Which is important, but also not 100% necessary. You can effectively lose body fat and not exercise. This can be done. But what exercise does offer is a vast array of benefits. Not only will it increase the speed of your fat loss, it will help you to feel better and more energetic. You will feel more mobile, you will see improvements in your skin, hair, general mood as well as a change in your physique. Being active will help reduce stress levels and help you get a deeper sleep. Exercise is brilliant. And a target of 10,000 steps per day will be a great way to get active and give you a daily goal to keep you motivated. You can track your steps on a fitness tracker and also your smartphone. The idea of 10,000 steps is to get people to move more. Not take the bus to work but walk instead. Use the stairs instead of the escalator. Keeping on your feet and on the move will help burn more calories than you realise. Something as simple as that!! So, while you can burn fat without exercising, I strongly recommend you incorporate this alongside your calorie target to speed up results and feel and look fantastic in the process.
- Lift weights
Whenever I say this to people they always feel they will get bulky and build big muscles, just because they lifted a 5KG dumbbell for 3 sets of 12 reps. THIS WILL NOT MAKE YOU BIG. But what it will do is to help build lean muscle and give you a more toned, defined and leaner look. When we lift resistance, you will start to increase the muscle tissue around the body in the area you are lifting resistance with. This increase in muscle tissue will help to burn more calories while at rest, so even when you are not exercising, you will still be burning calories, which is great for fat loss. Also, as you start to lose body fat, you will be able to reveal the more toned muscles, giving you a leaner physique. Lifting weights has many benefits, including helping your posture, bone density and functional movement. So, don’t skip lifting weights, it will help aid your fat loss journey more than you think.
- Be Patient
This is a problem I encounter a lot as a Personal Trainer and Coach. Humans in general want things now. We are impatient creatures. Which is some circumstances is great, but when it comes to fat loss, not so much. If you want quick results in fat loss, I’m afraid it’s either not sustainable, or it’s just not going to happen. With any rapid fat loss comes a bounce back to weight gain. This is largely due to restriction of foods and over exercising. Which is a bad combination for long term fat loss. If you want to lose fat and keep it off for life, then you will need an element of patience. My advice is to keep chipping away at your goals (like I mentioned in point number 1). Keep working at your fat loss every week. Tweak and adjust when things don’t go well. Keep things the same if they are going well. The whole process is about learning how your body works, and how your body responds to calorie control and regular exercise. Everybody is different, and it will be a bit of trial and error at times. But with patience and some persistence, you will be able to get there.
In summary, fat loss can be a very achievable and sustainable thing with just a few changes to your lifestyle. Start tracking calories and staying within your calorie deficit, start being more active in terms of physical exercise, lift a few weights now and again to create a toned physique, and be patient. These can all help with fat loss, but more importantly with your health. By combining these elements into your life, not only will you see a decrease in body fat, but also your internal and external health will improve also. Resulting in a much happier, mobile and enjoyable lifestyle!