Simplifying fat loss
Losing body fat can seem a lot more complicated than it needs to be. There are so many different sites, accounts, articles all saying different things and providing you with different diets and routines. It comes down to two main things - exercising and eating. I’m going to be talking about losing FAT rather than weight, because you can lose muscle if you don’t workout for a few weeks and lose the muscle mass you had which will show a decrease in your weight (number on the scale), but if you’re wanting to lose fat, it’s got nothing to do with that number on the scale.
There is definitely no one diet that works across the board, how I digest carbs will be completely different to how you do, for instance I could eat the exact same diet as another person whilst doing the exact same workout routine with the exact same output of energy and still not lose as much weight or gain as much muscle as the other person does. Our bodies are unique and we need to treat them that way. I could give you my macros, but they’re not going to work for you the same way they work for me. Why? Because my macros are tailored to my current weight, height, activity level (in the gym and normal daily routine i.e do I sit down a lot for work or am I in an active job where I get a lot more steps up in a day) and age. You can read more about macros in another blog post I wrote here. Please note, this is what has worked for me! Our bodies are unique and respond in different ways, and in different time periods. This isn’t a quick fix, losing fat takes time especially if you want to do it sustainably (keep it off).
The basics of losing fat:
In order to lose fat, you need to be in a calorie deficit - meaning you need to be burning more calories in a day than you’re consuming. This can be (healthily) done in two different ways.
- By reducing how many calories you consume in a day
- By upping the volume you workout and thus burning more calories
I like doing a combination of the two. For some people, purely doing it through diet works for them, for others this restriction is harder to stick to, so smashing it in your workout works best. For me, I like to stick to my macros and eat a set number of calories a day (currently 1600) and in a day I’ll end up burning between 400-1200 calories over that - so 2000-2800 calories a day (this is based on my Fitbit Blaze which I wear all day everyday, it tracks my cals burned in a workout, daily steps, heart rate etc). I achieve this by working out most days and you can also add in things like step goals to get your burnt calories up - I aim for 10,000 steps a day which as someone who sits down for work is a really decent amount. Maybe you need to achieve 15,000 steps or more if your work required you to be on your feet all day.
Eating for fat loss
That’s right, losing fat isn’t about not eating, it’s about eating the right foods! You want to make sure you’re eating the right foods (i.e good fats vs bad) that will ensure you’re not messing up your hard work training.
Carbs are your friend (they give you energy to smash your workouts) but opt for complex carbs like sweet potato instead of potatoes, multigrain bread instead of white bread, brown rice or quinoa over white rice.
Fats, good for brain function + hormones (hormones can totally mess up your weight loss so this is important) I love avocados, nuts, peanut butter (be careful it’s really easy to go over your fat intake so always be aware of your portion sizes).
Protein is my favourite as it helps to build muscle, and the more muscle you have the more fat you burn while you’re not working out (true story). It also helps to repair the muscle after an intense workout. I love fish, steak, chicken, egg whites & protein shakes (I use Women’s Best protein powder with some almond milk).
To ensure I’m eating in a calorie deficit I track my macros (fats, proteins and carbs) each day using My Fitness Pal iPhone app.
Working out for fat loss
Cardio - if you like cardio.. well you’re weird, but that’s great! Most people don’t love it, I’m not talking about a walk to the park with your girlfriends, you’ve really gotta push yourself so you actually get that high heart rate, fat burn! Here are my favourite cardio options:
High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) - two intervals, a rest period and a work period, the work period is 100% MAX effort you wanna be on the floor by the end of this session. Pick a time like 10 minutes and an interval 30 seconds work 30 seconds rest and smash it. I love deadmill sprints (running on the treadmill turned off), stair or hill sprints, box jumps, burpees etc.. aim for 1-2 sessions a week for 10-15 minutes each.
Moderate Intensity Steady State (MISS) - you wanna be able to continue the same pace for this entire workout (25-40 minutes) good for burning cals without sacrificing too much muscle tissue. Think running, rowing machine, walking on an incline, stair master etc.. (for recovery purposes this is really good, try 1-2 times a week)
High Intensity Resistance Training (HIRT) - A combination of weights and cardio with little to no rest in between sets = huge calorie burn and out of breath experience if done right. Try this:
I also like to add on some finishers after my weight days like kettlebell swings, squats, burpees, deadmill sprints & battle ropes.
Weight training - my suggestion would be to go for heavy weight training (low rep/ longer rest period). In my training at the moment I aim from anywhere between 4-6 reps to 8-12 reps depending on the movement, and take rest periods of 60 seconds or two minutes if I need. For example deadlifts I’ll do 4-6 reps for 4 sets and try to go as heavy as possible so each set I’m slowly decreasing the amount of reps I’m able to do (i.e set 1 = 6 reps, set 2 = 6 reps, set 3 = 5 reps, set 4 = 4 reps) with 60-90 seconds rest after each set.
Why it’s not working
Sometimes you can be doing all the right things, and you’re jut not seeing the weight shift, or you see some shift, but not much, or it doesn’t stay off. This can be so frustrating, and I’ve been there. I thought I was eating the right things for my goals - lean meats, steamed vegetables, not many carbs, no alcohol etc.. turns out I was eating way too many carbs (despite being the good ones), too many fats and not enough protein! My portion sizes were all out of whack. I was also doing cheat meals 1-2 times a week but over indulging so my calories for the week still ended up being in surplus rather than deficit.
Also before starting your losing fat journey, I’d recommend going to your doctor and getting a general check up of your hormones (thyroid among others) can mean it’s that bit harder to shift the fat.
Other reasons it might not be working for you:
- Consistency, an inconsistent routine or diet makes a huge difference
- Your diet isn’t sustainable causing you to binge
- Figuring out the volume (minutes/hours working out) that works for you
- You’re expecting results too soon, they take time!
- Alcohol, can significantly impact your results
- Not getting enough sleep
- Not taking rest days and allowing your body to recover
- Your heart rate isn’t in the fat burning zone
Keeping it off is another thing, if you follow the above you'll be losing weight sustainably - meaning your approach will be healthy and become a lifestyle choice rather than a crash diet, or fad. The important thing here is consistency! And if you start to run out of motivation or enthusiam, you can read my top tips for motivation here.
Once you reach your fat loss goals, you'll need to focus on repairing your metabolism after eating in a deficit for a long period of time. But that's a whole new blog post about reverse dieting!
I could go on and on about this, but it’s already quite a long one so if there are any questions I’ll do a follow up post and cover those too!
Peace out + happy burnin!