Fat Loss Simplified
Since there are so many fat loss experts in the United States, it doesn’t really make sense that we’re one of the most overweight countries in the world. It’s very common for people struggling to lose weight to be constantly looking for the magic pill that won’t yield real results. This demand for shortcuts, creates a supply of bunk products and systems designed to trick you into thinking there’s an easy way out. There’s no easy way out. Change in body composition requires a change in lifestyle, that’s just how it is, and always will be. If you want to change your lifestyle and become a happier, healthier person, you’re in the right place. This guide was made to give you the simplest strategy to change your body and your life.
It’s all about calories
Weight loss, in theory, is extremely easy. In practice, it’s difficult, and takes discipline. Change in muscle and fat mass is dependent on how many calories you eat, versus how many you burn. If you burn more calories than you eat, you lose weight. This is known as a calorie deficit. If you eat more calories than you burn, you gain weight. This is known as a calorie surplus. Many weight loss “experts” will say to avoid certain types of foods completely if you want to lose weight, the most common false-culprit being carbohydrates. In reality, you can eat plenty of carbs and still lose weight, as long as you’re still in a caloric deficit.
Many people believe water cuts are a viable strategy to lose weight. Cutting water weight can make a huge difference on your scale weight, but it doesn’t actually affect your body composition. Water cuts only cut temporary water weight, this is not fat loss. If you water cut one day but eat plenty of salty foods and drink water later that day, your weight will bounce back or even be higher than before the water cut. This strategy is only really useful to athletes in weight-classed sports, such as wrestling or powerlifting, and is not sustainable for long term weight loss. Also purposefully dehydrating yourself is just unhealthy.
Though calories are extremely important for weight control, we do need more precision in our diet. Counting macronutrients is where you’ll get the best body recomposition results. There are 3 main types of macronutrients, which are your source of calories. These are proteins, carbs and fats. One gram of protein has 4 calories, same with carbs. One gram of fat contains 9 calories.
In short, protein is used by the body to repair cell tissues. This includes organs, bones, ligaments and muscle. When you train you need protein to help your muscles recover and grow. Carbohydrates are the easiest macronutrients for your body to digest and use as energy. Fats are used for long term energy use, energy storage, and nutrient absorption. All three of these macronutrients are extremely valuable (and required) to be in any healthy diet.
How do you know how much of each macronutrient to intake? You should start with determining how many calories you need. If you’re trying to lose weight (which is likely why you’re here) a good mark to start with is 12 calories per pound of bodyweight. So if you weigh 200 pounds, start with 2400 calories per day. From there we get more specific, by sorting out how many of each macronutrient we need.
For females, 0.6-0.8 grams of protein per pound of bodyweight will be sufficient, for males 0.7-1.0 grams will be plenty. If you’ve never eaten a protein rich diet, this will feel like a ton of protein. Start on the lower end of the protein range, and work your way up to the top. Multiply your number by your bodyweight and you have your protein intake for the day. In this case (200 pounds of bodyweight), a female would eat 120-160 grams/protein daily and a male would eat 140-200 grams/protein daily. Since one gram of protein is 4 calories, multiply your daily protein intake by 4, and this gives you how many calories worth of protein you eat. Save this number, we’re going to need to use it later.
Next we need to determine our daily fat intake. Personally, I like to eat as many carbs as possible, so I eat the minimum amount of fat daily, which is around 30% of your total calories. To calculate your daily fat intake, multiply your total daily calories by 0.3. This will give you the calories from fat. Again, keep this number, we’ll need it later. Divide that number by 9, and you’ll have fat intake, in grams, for the day.
To determine daily carbohydrate intake, take your daily calorie intake, subtract your calories from proteins and calories from carbs. Divide your answer by 4, and voila! Daily carbohydrate intake. Now you have your daily protein, fat, and carbohydrate intake.
If you’re not losing weight on 12 calories per pound of bodyweight per day, reduce by 200 calories every 2 weeks, by reducing carbohydrate intake. If you feel awful when intaking this low amount of calories, add 200 calories to your diet in the form of either carbs or fats. However, I do not advise any female to ever go under 1000 calories, or any male under 1500. If your calorie intake is 1000, the goal should be to increase metabolism, not decrease caloric intake.
Increase your metabolism
Another significant part of body recomposition is increasing or maintaining muscle mass. Keeping muscle on, or gaining muscle mass, keeps your metabolism working at full speed. There is a positive correlation between muscle mass and metabolic rate. More muscle equals faster metabolism equals more calories burned. This is why strength training is always important, whether you’re trying to bulk up or lose weight.
People often do extra cardio when trying to lose weight. This is a good strategy to burn calories, however the impact from activities such as running are actually very hard on your joints, especially when compared to strength training*. Along with that, a hard strength training session will burn just as many calories as a run, when exercise time is equated. So not only do you burn just as many calories per session, but strength training also increases your metabolism in the mid-long term because you’re also increasing your muscle mass, and saving your joint health at the same time. Lift some damn weights.
Eating strategies to reduce hunger and cravings
In a perfect world, you wouldn’t get hungry when you diet. However, hunger is what keeps most people from following their diet. People overeat calories because they’re not satiated from their restrictive diet, or snack habitually. There are many ways to increase satiety from eating, and many ways to reduce snacking. Here are some strategies to follow if you have either (or both) of these problems.
The most obvious answer here, is to eat more satiating food. It’s really easy to overeat calories when consuming foods that are calorically dense, such as pizza or ice cream. Adding lots of fruits and vegetables to your diet can do wonders to keep your hunger satisfied, as well as limit snacking. You can also replace calorically dense foods with less dense ones, for example rice is very dense in carbohydrates and potatoes are much less calorically dense. Replace your rice with potatoes and you will be able to eat a lot more without increasing your calorie intake. Fruits and vegetables are extremely filling, because of their high amount of fiber. Another strategy is to replace your high calorie snacks with other snacks. Quitting cold turkey is extremely difficult for most people. If you are a midnight snacker, replace that snack with something low calorie, like popcorn. I like to get 100 calorie microwave bags of popcorn. Popcorn is actually very satiating when considering how many calories you’re eating. Another strategy is to drink a glass of water 15 minutes before eating. This will begin satisfying your hunger pangs before you even start eating, so you will be satisfied sooner and your portion will be smaller. On top of this, make sure you’re mindful when you’re eating. Take your time, chew your food thoroughly, and don’t let yourself be distracted by a tv or work when eating. If you sit and take your time, your meal will be much more satisfying.
Do your best to be consistent on meal timing and sleep timing. This, of course, can be difficult or impossible for shift workers. But if you are able to wake and sleep at a regular time, do it. This includes weekends. Your body will get used to eating at certain times of day, and your sleep pattern helps regulate this as well.
Setting up your meal plan is easy. However, that doesn’t mean following through is a cake walk. Lifestyle change is difficult, it takes time, and plenty of discipline. Nothing in life is truly rewarding without first putting in hard work. So put your head down, trust the process, embrace the difficulties that come your way, and become a better, more disciplined, more fulfilled person.
*This is not to say to rule out cardio altogether. Point is, if given a choice between cardio and strength training, with the goal being body recomposition, strength training should always come first.
**In case you want to see a macronutrient formula:
Find P, F, and C
P = daily protein intake F = daily fat intake C = daily carbohydrate intake BW=Bodyweight
P = 0.8xBW Pcal = Px4 F = 0.3xBW Fcal = Fx9
Dcal = 12xBW
Ccal = Dcal - Pcal - Fcal C = Ccal/4
Dcal = total daily caloric intake Pcal = calories from protein
Fcal = Calories from fat Ccal = Calories from carbohydrates