Disclaimer: This is my own personal experience and recommendation. I am not a certified health professional. Take this information as advice and not a set in stone plan.
Can’t seem to get rid of that last bit of belly fat? Need to lose 10,20 or even 30+ pounds of fat Well you’re in the right place. I’m going to show you the exact protocol you need to reach your fat loss goals. Let’s roll right into it, firstly by distinguishing between weight loss and fat loss
Weight loss vs Fat loss
Our body consists of so many different organs and elements that all affect our weight. When you step on the scale in the morning, it gives you an indication of how heavy you are. However, it does not indicate where that weight is distributed. The weight is distributed between muscle, fat, organs and even water! Hell, the scale doesn’t know whether you are a human or a bag of rice. This is precisely why it is extremely important to use the scale as a guide but never use it as a sole measurement of progress.
A few things need to be considered when using the scale as a solitary measurement of progress:
- The scale can cause an inaccurate indication of progress: You’ve lost 5lb of fat and gained 5lb of muscle, the scale is indifferent. You are disappointed yet you have achieved so much more than you perceive. Tip: stay off the scales! use the mirror as a more accurate guide. In the end, how you look and feel is so much more important than the weight on the scale
- The scale can create an unhealthy mindset: By solely focusing on the number on the scale you can very quickly create a very unhealthy mindset. I mean, it kind of sounds a bit silly if you need a number on the scale to make you happy. I’ll say it again, base your progress on how you feel and how you look, not by a number on the scale.
As you can see by the two examples above; it doesn’t matter what that number says on the scale. Rather, we want to focus on fat loss.
How do we measure this?
- Visually: Look in the mirror, do you have seemingly more muscle definition? If the answer is yes then you have most likely lost fat, and/or gained muscle.
- Mentally: Have more energy? Mental clarity? If you answered yes to this then there is a good change that your body is burning fat. How do we know this? Well, as you decrease calories to an acceptable level (5-10% below maintenance) your body will in turn access stored fuel for use as energy from either one of two places: muscle or fat. If we have adjusted our calories correctly then ideally a good portion of this ‘weight loss’ should come from fat
- With various body fat apparatus: Equipment such as: Body fat calipers, DEXA scans (being the most accurate) and body weight scales (use as a tool, not a sole source of measurement) can be extremely use in giving you a guide as to how you are progressing. Body fat goes up: decrease calories and/or increase cardio. Body fat steadily goes down: keep calories and/or cardio constant until you hit a plateau
- Evaluation: This essentially ties into the previous notes, wherein by measuring our overall progress we can then proceed to evaluating our current status and adjust our activity level and/or calories according to how much and how fast progress is being made.
Determining your calorie requirements
Now that you know exactly how to go about losing fat rather than just focusing on weight loss; we are now going to dive into precisely how to go about working out just how much you need to consume in order to reach your fat loss goals.
There are a few ways that we can go about determining this specific requirement including but not limited to:
- Using an online calculator: This is by far probably one of the most utilized tools when it comes to determining your calorie requirement. These calculators work from different formulas to estimate roughly your TDEE or total daily energy expenditure (Fancy phrase for ‘how many calories you burn in a day). Taking into consideration your age, gender, current weight, height and activity level, online calculators produce a rough ball park figure for you to use as a starting point. Again, these calculators are not 100% accurate so adjustment based on progress is required here.
- Using trial and error: This will essentially lead on from the last point regarding the online calculator. Once you have a number, you’ll then proceed to use that number for a good week. At weekly intervals you’ll want to evaluate your progress using trial and error to either bring that number up or down based on your current progress within that week. Rinse and repeat until you hit your desired goals.
Note: As previously mentioned, a calorie drop of 5-10% below maintenance is all that is required to kick start steady, realistic fat loss. For example, if your maintenance (the number we were given) is 3000 calories; then a 150 to 300 calorie drop is all that is necessary.
Every time you plateau; drop your calories by only another 100 calories at any given time to ensure slow steady fat loss. Aim for 1-2 pounds of total weight loss per week (obviously will be more if you are overweight).
What are macros?
Macros is the term given for macro nutrients.
Macronutrients are the components necessary to provide us with energy and also make up the basis of our calories. The 3 macro nutrients are fat, carbohydrates and protein.
Let’s go into a little more detail as to the function of each macro:
Fats: Fats also known as ‘lipids’ are a combination of three molecules bound together to form a triglyceride. Fats are an extremely important aspect in many functions across the human body. A few of the benefits of fat include:
- Keeping the skin healthy
- Absorbing certain vitamins such as A, D, E and K
- Important for heart health
- They taste damn good!
Note: Fats are categorized into 3 types (unsaturated fat which is derived mostly from plant foods. Saturated fat which is from animals. Last but not least are trans fats; which are widely known as additives included in packaged and processed foods)
Examples of high fat foods: Avocados, salmon, tuna, almonds etc
Carbohydrates: Carbohydrates or ‘carbs’ our essentially our bodies main source of fuel. Carbohydrates are widely found in starchy, sugary or fibrous foods. Carbs help maintain your blood glucose levels combating fatigue and keeping energy at optimum levels throughout the day.
Example of high carb foods: Sweet potato, brown rice, pasta etc
Protein: Protein/s are the most complex yet important macro nutrient responsible for:
- Building muscle
- Regenerating hair, skin, nails etc
- Growth in children
- Regular hormone function.
Examples of protein rich foods: Chicken, turkey, steak, fish etc
Remember how I said each of these fuels our body to some extent? Well yep you guessed it! each of these macro nutrients consists of calories as follows:
- Fat: 9 calories per gram
- Protein: 4 calories per gram
- Carbs: 4 calories per gram.
My rough guidelines (which vary from person to person: again trial and error here) in terms of macro breakdown to hit your calorie target goes as follows:
- Fat: .4 grams per pound of body weight
- Protein: 1 gram per pound of body weight
- Carbs: Remainder of your calories after protein and fat requirements have been met
An individual who weighs 180lb and has a TDEE of 3000 calories would have a structured macro breakdown that would look something similar to this:
Fat: (.4g x 180 = 72) therefore consuming 72 grams of fat. Now 72×9 (9 calories per gram) would equate to 648 calories. Subtract this from his total calories (3,000-648 = 2,352 calories remaining)
Protein: (1gx180 = 180) therefore consuming 180 grams of protein. Now 180×4 (4 calories per gram) would equate to 720. Subtract this and our pre calculated fat number from the total ( 3,000-648-720=1,632)
Carbs: Our remaining calories (1,632) will be now divided by 4 (4 calories per gram) to calculate his carbohydrate goal in grams. (1,632 divided by 4 = 408)
Now we can create a meal plan based on the information we have discovered. Our 180lb man needs 3000 calories; of which: 72 grams are of fat, 180 grams are of protein and 408 grams of carbs.
Note: These numbers will change as weight loss occurs.
Putting it all together
By the end of this guide, hopefully you now have the tools to enable you to successfully reach any fitness goal. Obviously these numbers attributed to weight loss but they be very easily adjusted up for weight gain. Many of the same principles apply. If this guide has been useful; don’t forget to share and I’d love to hear your comments.
Till next time remember, we rise together