In my many years of being a fitness professional, that is the most asked question. Fat seems to be the most important part of people fitness journey, or should I say how to get rid of it! Well, let me tell you, there are no magic pills, there are no special exercises, and there is not one rule that works for all unfortunately! Well, perhaps there is one rule*…but I’ll get to that later. Losing fat makes you feel better no doubt about it, it makes you look leaner and feel fitter. It’s healthier for your body to have a good balance of muscle and fat. Too much fat can lead to all sorts of health complications.
So how do we lose fat?
Excess Fat is stored energy. When your body has used up all of the energy it needs for its daily routine any excess will be stored for when it next needs it. When the body doesn’t have enough energy to perform its activities it will dip into the reserves, thus you will lose fat. So, Calorie deficit (*That’s the one rule that will work for all!) is what ultimately achieves this fat loss. Now, the best advice I can give you is that you need find a way of finding a small calorie deficit that you can sustain for a long period of time.
In my experience most of us will try to drop too many calories in an effort to gain fast fat loss. This almost always doesn’t work in the long term as it is not sustainable. With an aggressive calorie deficit, you will often feel terrible, lose concentration, want to binge eat and generally feel quite poor whilst lacking in energy. A small deficit is all that is needed, say 15% of your total daily maintenance amount. Simply speaking your maintenance amount is the number of calories your body needs to maintain your current weight. The best way to find this out is to track your food intake and your weight. A period of 1-2 weeks is a good length of time to do this.
If your weight stays the same, then what you eat and what you expend is equal. If you put on weight, you’re in-taking more than your body needs, and if you drop weight then you’re giving your body less than it needs, so therefore, you are in a calorie deficit. This sounds pretty simple, but still so many of us struggle.
Ok, so let’s take weight on the scales or the ‘sad step’ as many professionals call it! Is weight really a good indicator? It can be, but only if you feel comfortable with the ups and downs, and if you understand what they say. The number in the scale is likely to change during the day, with liquid intake, food intake, menstrual cycles etc.
So, stepping back to the original goal of losing fat, this is NOT the same as losing weight!
Losing fat will dramatically alter your body composition, as will losing weight, but in a different way.
So, let’s say you start an exercise program and start to add a little muscle. Chances are you’ll see the scales rise. But one of the best ways to aid losing fat is to add a little more muscle! So, in the gym, my recommendation is most definitely an all over progressive weights routine that will help you add muscle, especially if the goal is fat loss. Combine this with a slightly increased protein in-take and you have the start of an excellent plan.
Your body burns approximately 70% of its calories whilst keeping your body functioning at rest. This is your BMR (basal metabolic rate). You could stand still all day, and this is what it would burn. The rest is made up of your formal activity (the exercise plan) and your NEAT, which simply put is all of the exercise you do that is not planned, for example walking to the car, climbing the stairs etc. So, to Increase your BMR you need to add muscle as it needs more calories to maintain, your gym program needs to be about adding muscle with a well-executed plan, and finally you need to move a lot more in your normal day! These are the keys to losing fat.
Every individual is different so there’s no one plan fits all, but it is our job as professionals to help find the right balance for you, and your lifestyle.
Get in touch. Tell us your goals. Let us help you. Info@fitnessrepublic.co.uk. 01530 413330.