Losing Body Fat
In the last two years of me working with individuals looking to improve their nutrition or recent personal training, around 90% of those people desired to lose bodyfat. I’ve literally gone through my history of working with people and found that about 90% of these people came to me with goals around the objective of losing bodyfat.
Thinking about it outside of statistics too it’s definitely something that seems many other people desire, through general interaction with whomever I can.
When I’m talking to people in the gym they’re looking to ‘tone up’ or ‘lose bodyfat’. ‘Lose bellyfat’ or ‘reveal more of their abs’. ‘Create more definition’ or ‘lose dress sizes’. In nutrition coaching often it’s to look ‘beach ready’ or ‘drop bodyfat to make more efficient in performance sports’. Yes, some of these can relate to building muscle as it definitely helps drive these goals, but all of these are also driven through a decrease of bodyfat too.
The issue nowadays is we’re all very eager to lose bodyfat when we identify the moment, but we go about it in the wrong manner.
Often we use uncontrolled, emotionally driven reactions to ‘lean up’ or lose as much bodyfat as we can in as short a period of time. And we know how this turns out – the weight more often than not comes back on and we end up bouncing from one diet to the other blaming our relapses on ‘that diet wasn’t for me’ or ‘that diet didn’t work’.
It’s important to understand that a diet is any nutritional strategy designed to produce a calorie deficit. You could very simply diet by reducing 100 calories a day and hold for a long period of time to create amazing results! Sadly, this is a patient game and we all wanted results YESTERDAY, myself included.
Where you may previously have gotten results…
You may have seen amazing results in previous diets you’ve undertaken. If so, fantastic – actually it’s a great sign that your body is very adaptive and you’re in a great position to be able to lose bodyfat.
But sadly there is ZERO shortcut to losing weight.
There is NO killer diet that trumps them all.
There is no optimal way of eating that will promote extra bodyfat loss. This may seem like a slight tangent but it’s important to highlight these next facts before we look at SIMPLE changes you can do to promote bodyfat loss.
A diet, as we discussed earlier, is ANY nutritional strategy of which it imposes a calorie deficit on your body – you eat less than you burn in a 24 hour day so you lose weight! It is that simple.
The reason why a previous diet would have worked for you wasn’t because it was labelled ‘Keto’, ‘Gluten Free’, ‘Low Carb’, ‘Low Fat’ or ‘Intermittent Fasting’, it was only because you changed your way of eating so that you were eating less calories than you burn!
It’s impossible to go against the laws of physics. You quite simply cannot add more weight to your body if you’re expending more energy than you’re putting into your body in that day. And vice versa, you won’t lose weight if you’re eating more calories than you burn in that day.
There’ll be fluctuations for sure but a lot of this will be to fluid balance (hydration) and a few other variables based on your activity in the days leading up to today.
You sadly can’t change the laws of physics and lose or gain weight spontaneously.
My point is this – previous diets may have worked but only because they’ve all created a calorie deficit somewhere in your body.
For instance the ketogenic diet works by eliminating one whole food group (carbohydrates) and having our primary fuel source come from fat. Bodies in a western society like ours our very carbohydrate dependant so it’s a shock to our body to all of a sudden try metabolising fat as a primary fuel source. This as well as a HUGE calorie reduction from eliminating all carbohydrates and sugars in your diet is the main reason why you’ll be losing weight on this diet. You’ve essentially gone from 2000 calories a day of protein, fat and carbohydrates in your diet to maybe 1400 through eliminating carbs…
You can’t break physics.
Same with a low fat diet. Somewhere along the line we vilified fats back in the 80’s/90’s. This worked to get a huge amount of the population back below obese levels but actually it was pure and simple fear mongering to promote a huge drop in calories.
Fats are very calorie-dense, coming in at 9 calories per gram of fat consumed, compared to carbohydrates and protein at 4 calories per gram.
Simple by removing all fats from our diet we can immediately see that we’re creating a HUGE calorie deficit just from removing this whole food group. It’s no surprise you’re going to lose weight. I eat 100g of Fat a day, if I went ahead and got rid of that i’d be removing 900 calories from my total of 2600, immediately putting me in a calorie deficit for sure.
It’s no surprise at all in this situation you’re going to lose weight, especially as the bare minimum my body uses a day before ANY sort of activity is 1800 calories to just live, before moving or exercising or anything else.
This is why you lose weight. It’s often the complete removal of a food group which will promote weight loss. Even going gluten-free where it’s not necessary you’ll be attempting to remove all wheat (and potentially all carbohydrates) from your diet – we know how this will go…
Besides strict calorie counting, what can we do?
If I had it my way I’d have everyone counting their calories because it’s amazing to our self awareness of how much we eat, but also allows me to monitor it over time. I genuinely believe I’m not obsessive in any way with my diet, but actually very driven to my end goal of increasing muscle mass and strength. On the flip side, it’s important to allow the beginner or someone who has predispositions to addictive tendencies to learn better habits.
On that side you CAN very easily create great habits in your diet and exercise routine which will promote body fat loss without even thinking about counting calories or smashing a treadmill for an hour.
After all, if we can create a simple change it’ll most likely stick as it’s sustainable and we can do it for much longer and help see longer lasting results, so let’s discuss 6 things you can do to promote an extra bit of bodyfat loss.
1. Simply increase the amount of colourful vegetables at every meal.
This is by far the simplest thing you could do besides calorie counting for you to propel you towards new body composition goals.
What do we mean here? Just simply increase the amount of vegetables consumed as well as the variety and colours of them.
Doing this allows you to consume a much wider spectrum of vitamins and minerals that will help to regulate all our important bodily process such as growth and repair but also important for fat loss processes. The variety of colours especially helps this as we’re now consuming a much wider array of vitamins and minerals as a result, something our body most likely craves for optimal performance.
Throw in the fact that consuming much more veg increases the amount of fibre consumed in our diet then we’ll feel fuller for longer, consume less as we’re feeling less hungry but also create a healthier digestive tract through our foods being digested better. If you can’t increase veg across all meals look to increase from where you are now, even if it’s one meal…
2. Remove processed foods from your snacks.
I get it! Food is damn right addictive, I have snacks I go to every day to allow me to function – dark chocolate for instance, pretty much a bar every 3/4 days. Removing heavily processed snacks from your diet is a great way to reduce calories consumed as, often, heavily processed snacks like sugary treats or junk food are hyper-palatable and more often than not lead to over consumption.
Removing hyper-palatable snacks from your diet gives you room to add a quality, fibre filled snack such as fruit (yay) or nuts, or even vegetables.
If you don’t want to be so strict on ‘quality’ or removing processed and have raw food like that, have some dark choocolate instead. It’s much more fat from cocoa mass than sugar like regular chocolate so the added fat is a good hit to keep you full and a couple of squares is all you need to satisfy that choco-sugar craving I always get!
Become aware that hyper-palatable, that is – addictive, ‘just one more bite’ – foods are a sure way to increase calories consumed then an east change is to remove snacks which make it much more tempting and replace with quality.
Crisps are damn right moreish, I could eat three packets, maybe 500 calories worth and noit bat an eyelid, give me a banana and a square of dark chocolate and it’s probably 300 and i’m full for two hours until my next main meal…
3. Drink more water
Hydration is a sneaky one. Our body is finely balanced and simply becoming 1-2% dehydrated is enough to send our body into disarray. Performance in sport drops significantly, hunger increases, blood pressure drops, energy levels slump. This is a recipe for reaching to foods in an attempt to give energy to overcome what thirst is doing to us.
We subconsciously are aware of a drop in energy levels, blood sugars or performance as a result of being dehydrated so we naturally crave higher glycaemic foods – ones that will spike our blood sugar the quickest, such as sugary treats or processed foods.
Drinking enough water will not only give your body the optimal environment to perform but also remove some of the sensations of hunger as a result of our body being in a more optimal balance. Give it a go, take a 2L bottle of water with you wherever you go and make an effort to drink it across the day. I BET you will eat a tiny bit less!
4. Identify habits in your day which aren’t benefiting your goal.
One habit I’ve noticed recently is my lunch pretty much every day. I’m always on the go, so I LOVE to stop off at a supermarket next door to a starbucks and relax with a sandwich and a coffee. Only when I think back do I realise one place I really can improve my diet IS my lunch.
I could definitely get more wholefoods in my diet, I could VERY MUCH increase my vegetables here too. The issue is it’s a habit I’ve held onto – I think because it’s my tiny bit of escape by myself to sit outside or in my car whilst on the go and contemplate with a coffee and easy food I’ve not had to cook.
Quite the legitimate excuse i feel 🙂 Does it drive my goal though? Not 100%. Can it be improved to drive my goals. Yes. I could meal prep and get wholesome foods which will keep me fuller, as well as promote growth and repair more. I’ve identified this as an area to improve and I’m trying somewhat to improve it. We’ll see if that happens.
One of your habits might be to pick up a KitKat as you walk in through your door after a long commute home. You may not notice it or seem to think it makes a big difference, but a near 200 calorie sugary treat every day is 1400 calories over the week – calories which could be filled with whole foods (I challenge you to eat 200 calories of veg a day – it’s hard) or calories which could be removed and promote fat loss instead. Identify, attempt to change it if it’s hindering you, progress…
5. Slow down when eating your food.
I’m guilty here too. I love wolfing down my food, barely waiting to breathe in between the bicep curls of fork to mouth… It’s difficult to slow down when eating especially when we’re distracted with TV or work or being on the go. But I think it’s time we take control and appreciate the break of allowing us to nourish our bodies with the fuel we need to go about our day.
We’ve all heard it takes about 20 minutes for our stomach to recognise we’re eating and our hunger impulse to down regulate. This is pretty much accurate. Our hormones play a part in telling us when to eat and when we’re full. This isn’t an instantaneous change though – it’s a gradual change that our body makes in our hormones. Slowing down when eating allows our satiety hormones to fully activate and signal we don’t need to eat as much.
In fact, slowing down whilst eating and listening to that fullness or hunger response is more of your natural capacity for what food you need. Wolfing food down in 8m 47s (a PB for my spag bol) is a surefire way to actually feel really full after our meal because our satiety hormone hasn’t had chance to catch up. As a result, it takes a bit longer for us to notice we’re actually full and by this time our stomach is over filler and we’ve over consumed more than necessary…
This could be the difference between eating 300-400 calories in a big meal, and if done every day you won’t even notice you’re eating less because you’re giving your body EXACTLY what it needs.
Chew slow. Put your cutlery down between every bite. Savour it. All help to slow down.
6. Have ‘higher-fat’ snacks.
This may seem counter intuitive but be aware I don’t mean go and chomp on loads of high fat food. I simply mean put a small bit of fat into your snacks. We discussed before fat has a higher caloric density. As a result it is also harder to digest due to it being more dense.
You may notice when you have a high fat meal – one like burgers or pizzas, BBQ food, buttery foods, foods with lots of oil – you may not initially feel full, give it 30 minutes to an hour and you feel like you’ve consumed not just your meal but you table’s meals as well as the general combined total of food per capita of Manchester too.
Fat as a slightly delayed response in digestion due to it’s density, so having a high fat snack is a great way to tide you over till your next meal. Now, don’t go silly though, it’s easy to over consume fats, but simply having a handful of nuts which is 100-200 calories will be more than enough to tide you a few hours, just give your body time to register it and you’ll notice the hunger fade.
Foods such as nuts, oil on salad, peanut butter, butter with soreen, deli meats, all contribute fat – it’s not bad fat either. Have a small amount, be patient, let your body register it and you’ll be surprised how your body feels after it. This will put you over to your next meal hopefully but at the same time still be in your system come a main meal and feel you need to eat less due to the length of time it takes to digest.
These are 6 EASY changes you can make if you want to promote burning off extra calories throughout your day.
Personally and professionally, nothing beats tracking your food on a calorie tracker to learn what you could change or even just realise how much you’re eating in a day, 99.9% of us when putting on weight are going to be over consuming without realising, sadly.
If tracking is too hard for you then these are some huge changes you could implement so to keep fuller and potentially eat less.
Realistically it is ahrd eating in a calorie deficit, we’re not designed to run on less calories than we need – it’s possible for sure, but we’re not as efficient as we used to be at it.
Getting a few of these changes into your diet are a simple way of increase fullness, getting more quality foods into your diet and creating a healthier eating environment.
Give them a go and tell me what you think!
Perhaps you have an idea that’s worked really well for you!?
Let me know!
Until next time, have a great week.