What's the best way to lose fat? This is a question that has been asked time and time again, and the answer is not always clear-cut.
But that's just because there is a ton of new, 'promising' products and dieting schemes that seemingly grant quick and effective results.
In this series of blog posts, we will explore the basics of fat loss – what it is, how it works, and how you can achieve your own personal goals.
More importantly, in part two, we will tell you more about how you should go about keeping the fat off!
Stay tuned – the journey begins!
Why Do We Gain Fat?
In order to understand how to lose fat, perhaps it is best to reverse-engineer the entire thing and first answer an important question.
That is, why do we gain fat in the first place?
The answer, it turns out, is quite simple: we gain fat because our bodies are designed to store excess energy.
In an ancestral environment where food was scarce and physical activity was plentiful, this made perfect sense.
Our bodies would store energy in the form of fat and use it when needed.
But in today's world, where food is plentiful, and physical activity is often scarce, this mechanism works against us.
When we consume more calories than we expend, our bodies convert those excess calories into stored energy in the form of body fat.
To put it simply - the fat you want to lose is, so to speak, your body's spare tire.
If you consume more energy (calories from food) than your body needs to maintain its weight and functioning, you gain fat.
Simple as that.
Here comes the question - how much energy does the body need to maintain its weight?
Well, this is strictly individual, as it depends on a variety of factors, including:
- Non-exercise activity
- Exercise activity
- Food consumption (yes, food also expends energy during digestion)
There is a mathematical formula for each of these variables, but luckily for you, all the formulas are well-integrated into the so-called “Total daily energy expenditure (TDEE)” calculators.
In my experience with clients (and myself,) the most accurate TDEE/Macro calculator is on the following website - https://www.traininginthebay.com/macro-calculator/
On there, you can input your individual characteristics and get a pretty accurate reading of your TDEE.
The Inevitable Rule
Okay, you know your TDEE. Now what?
Well, now you have to follow the inevitable rule of fat loss. The rule that no pill or magical diet will bypass.
That is, namely, the rule of “eating in a caloric deficit.”
As you learned, you gain fat because you consume MORE energy than you use (more than TDEE.)
Logically, the only way to lose fat is to USE more energy than you consume.
This is what we refer to as “eating in a caloric deficit.”
However, in this case, more isn’t always better - aggressive caloric deficits will quickly slow down your metabolism and hinder fat loss.
This is why we recommend losing about 1 lb/week, which would happen in a caloric deficit of about 500 calories per day.
For instance, if the calculator shows that your TDEE is 2500 calories, you should aim for about 2000 calories per day.
Note, however, that the calculators are not 100% accurate, so you should instead adjust by the results you’re getting.
If you’re eating 2000 calories a day and you maintain your weight, well, that is your maintenance, regardless of what the calculator says.
This is why the goal should be to ultimately lose 1 lb/week.
Lean Body Mass & Macros
A period of weight loss can feel like a battle between the body and the mind.
On the one hand, you're trying to achieve a healthier weight; on the other hand, your body is fighting against you, trying to hold onto every last bit of fat.
In this battle, one of the key battlefields is lean body mass (LBM).
LBM is basically every other tissue besides fat, including muscle tissue, bone tissue, organ tissue, etc.
When you're trying to lose weight, your body will lose both fat and LBM.
Logically, you want to mainly lose fat and minimize LBM losses.
This is why it's so important to consume plenty of protein during a weight-loss period - protein helps to preserve muscle mass.
Quality dietary fat is also essential, as it's needed for optimal hormonal health.
By consuming the right nutrients, in sufficient quantities, you can help ensure that your body loses mostly fat, not muscle.
The general recommendations are as follows:
- Consume 0.8-1g of protein per lb of bodyweight per day
- Consume ~0.45g of fat per lb of bodyweight per day
- Give the rest of the calories (after calculating protein and fats) to carbohydrates
Non-Linear Fat Loss
When it comes to fat loss, there's no such thing as a one-size-fits-all approach.
What works for one person might not work for another, and that's why it's important to experiment and find what works best for you.
For some people, a linear approach is the best way to go.
But for others, a non-linear approach (taking diet breaks) can be more effective.
A diet break is a period of time during which you consume enough calories to maintain your weight.
This doesn't mean making drastic changes to your diet or workout routine or ditching them altogether.
Rather, it's simply a period of maintenance.
Diet breaks can be done every 3-4 weeks for a period of up to two weeks.
This can be beneficial because it prevents your body from adapting to your diet and plateauing.
Again - a diet break doesn't mean saying 'screw it' to your diet and indulging.
You're still counting calories, but you eat a bit more food than usual so as to maintain your weight.
When we’re talking fat loss, there is no single magical pill, program, or piece of advice that can bypass the inevitable rule of the game - eating in a caloric deficit!
If you’re trying to lose fat, this is what you have to do.
Consume fewer calories than your body needs to maintain its weight, and you will tap into your fat stores and burn the fat once and for all!
Setting up a moderate caloric deficit and a balance between all 3 macronutrients is an important part.
More importantly, though, after you lose the fat, you need to, well, keep it off!
How do you do that? Stay tuned for part 2 of this article series, where we’ll explain just that!