One of the fundamental principles of weight loss is that the body is using more fuel then we are taking in. This concept is known as energy balance and in order to lose weight, we need to create an energy deficit. There are two main ways in which we can create an energy deficit: Firstly, by increasing energy expenditure through increasing our activity, such as using exercise, and secondly, we can reduce the amount of energy we take in through reducing food intake.
The fact is, from a pure weight loss perspective, this concept of energy balance is the only thing that matters. However, we also don’t just want weight loss, we want fat loss. This is an important consideration as making sure we keep muscle when trying to lose fat is crucial, as muscle contributes massively to our metabolic rate. If we don’t protect muscle on an energy deficit, then we increase the risk of losing it. This means that our metabolism slows, it becomes harder and harder to lose fat and it is also not great from a health perspective either, considering muscle plays an essential role in protecting our joints and organs.
So how do we get fat loss as opposed to just weight loss? Well firstly, we can make sure we have adequate protein in the diet and secondly, we can combine this with forms of resistance exercise to stimulate the processes that allow muscle to grow and be preserved. It is also important to remember that it is better to lose 5lbs of fat and maintain muscle, than it is to lose 8lbs on the scales but 4lbs of fat and 4lbs of muscle. This is one reason why although weight is good for monitoring progress to a certain extent, measurements and visual monitoring of progress are much more important to keep tabs on your progress… The scales can lie!
Once we make sure we are eating enough protein, then we also need to consider how we fuel our body. This comes down to how much carbohydrate and fat we consume and this would make up the rest of the calories we require. The amount of carbohydrate in the diet will vary from person to person and the skill of any trainer is to be able to sit with a client and work out what foods sources they enjoy and to tailor a diet that supports fat loss, performance in the gym, proper recover and in the context of someone’s lifestyle.
Obviously to a certain point if someone has had poor eating habits due to lack of nutritional education or the sheer amount of confusing information out there, then there will need to be some form of ‘sacrifice’ to start the process. This does not mean massive reductions in food intake or hours of training, or restricting certain foods groups or foods, but it does mean making better food choices, including lots of ‘clean’ foods that contain essential vitamins and minerals that promote health and support healthy fat loss and an understanding of the calorific content and composition of different foods so that when you do have a treat, you can account for this in your daily calorie intake. Education is a key thing that is important to inform food choices and create long term lifestyle changes for sustainable results, which is ultimately what we want. Our goal for our clients after a fat loss phase is to make them self-reliant to go on and lead active, happy and healthy lives.
In summary, you can lose fat in a way that does not require you to go cold turkey on some of your favourite foods, as long as there is an awareness of calorie content and macronutrient profile and for a large part learn how to make some more positive food choices. This may seem daunting at first, but with the right support through the fat loss process you will eventually get the hang of it. If you would like to know more about anything we have covered here, or if you want to know how I can help you reach your goals, then please don’t hesitate to get in touch.
Thanks for reading,