Fat loss is what most of my clients are looking for. Sure, getting stronger would be cool, and being able to get up a flight of stairs without doubling over gasping for breath at the top would be nice, but really, it’s fat loss they are looking for.
Those who are the most successful realise that fat loss is a long term goal, one that comes with long lasting changes in 4 areas, and not a short term sprint of deprivation and sadness that sees any progress undone in a couple of weeks of going back to eating “normally”.
The four areas that you need to make changes in area as follows, along with some general recommendations based on what my most successful fat loss clients have found to work for them.
Pillar 1: Nutrition
In order for fat loss to happen, you need to eat fewer calories than you do at the moment. Fat loss (and weight loss, they’re not the same thing) require you to burn more fuel from your fat stores, gradually reducing them over time, making you smaller (weight loss) and ideally leaner (fat loss).
If you are a calorie counter, this would be around 22-24 calorie per kilo of bodyweight. If you weigh 80kg, your calorie target would be 1760 – 1920 kcals/ day. This is just a starting point and you will have to adjust as you go.
If you aren’t a calorie counter, then you need to pay attention to 2 areas:
- portion control, and
- stopping eating when you are satisfied, instead of eating until you’re packed full.
Here is a great guide from Precision Nutrition on how to portion out each macronutrient for your needs.
With your total calories on point, you need to (probably) increase your protein intake. There is a massive difference between eating to avoid a deficiency and eating adequate amounts to maintain and/or add lean muscle mass. The general recommendation is to aim for between 1.6 and 2.2g of protein per kilo of bodyweight per day. So our 80kg example from above would aim for between 128 and 176g of protein each day. If you barely consume any protein just now, anything more than your current intake is going to be a step in the right direction. Over time though, you should be looking for ways to add a little more protein to your meals at each opportunity.
Clients who have taken care of these 2 points have always seen great results. A reduction in total calories pushes your body to use stored fuel aka fat, and increased protein improves satiety and helps preserve lean mass. Taking care of these 2 factors means that whatever is left of your calorie total after protein has taken its share can be split into carbs and fat in whatever ratio you prefer. There is no inherent superiority in either low fat or low carb approaches. Simply use whatever you feel is best suited to you and your needs.
Pillar 2: Training
To help improve the amount of weight you lose from your fat stores, it’s vital to maintain and if possible, build more lean mass. This is where training comes into play.
Resistance training stimulates muscle protein synthesis at a much higher rate than increasing your protein intake does. It’s also kinda cool to be able to lift heavy things with ease.
The best way for most people to train is to use either full body sessions, or upper/lower splits, that way you are less likely to miss out entire body parts if you miss a day. (i.e. mysteriously having an “unexpected meeting” pop up on leg day…)
Focus on compound movements, those that require multiple muscle groups such as deadlift and squat variations, rows and presses, and of course loaded carries. Aim to get stronger at these, adding a little more weight or performing a few more reps whenever you can.
For cardio I usually prescribe shorter, higher intensity finishers. These take 4-10 minutes and are easier to fit in at the end of a session or can be done on non training days as short, standalone cardio sessions. If you have time, and are so inclined, you can also add in longer duration cardio on alternate days. Just make sure you can recover enough to see the benefits.
You can get a sample workout here – session 1 and session 2. Simply alternate between the 2 sessions for 2-3 weeks. Then progress to a 3 day program and make slight adjustments to your exercise selection.
Remember to check back in next week for part 2 of the 4 pillars of fantastic fat loss, and if you have any questions in the meantime, just get in touch