The one thing people ask me for day after day… How do i lose this? (then the point to their belly, bum, legs or arms- insinuating that they need to lose fat from these areas.
The first thing I say to them is: You cannot spot reduce fat.
It comes from everywhere or nowhere. That’s it.
Now this won’t be a guide on how to lose fat. That will come soon but I wanted to take some time just to re-frame what we understand as fat loss, how it works and why, even though you might be doing the ‘right things’, you don’t seem to make long-term sustainable progress.
Please also bare in mind that this isn’t written for everyone. This piece is specifically for the people who ask for my help the most. The 35-65 year old men and women who feel as if they have let themselves go and don’t know what to do despite trying everything.
The usual advice
The usual advice goes like this:
Eat 500kcal less than you burn to lose fat.
And because you’re a 65kg woman who has an office job, you guess you burn 1400kcal and then eat 900kcal a day.
You do lose weight. Maybe 4 or 5lbs in a week!
YOU HAVE FOUND THE ANSWER!
Then because your calories are so low you either get poorly, burn out or fall of the tracks when the 2pm donuts come out (Thanks Alan, the office clerk).
The cycle repeats on Monday.
What you should consider before committing to a regime.
When I take on a new client, I try and understand their previous diet and training history as much as I can.
I ask about:
And so many many more.
What I am aiming to get an understanding of, is how efficient their body is at adapting to stimuli and then what training and nutrition I can program that will get them to their goals the most efficiently.
Usually with people who have tried and failed on diets there is a certain amount of metabolic adaption. This means that when you restrict your calories and do lots of exercise, your body adapts by making you efficient at living within those variables. So your body will adapt quickly to 900kcal and 3 hours of exercises per day.
Your body doesn’t know when it will resume getting a lot of calories so it decides to go into what some people call ‘starvation mode’. (The real name is adaptive thermogenesis). Your bodies basic mission is then to protect the vital organs… For men, fat is stored around the heart (moobs) and abdomen (fat tummy). For women, it’s the reproductive organs (so fat goes on legs, bums and tums first!).
So how do we counteract this?
With clients who come to me looking for fat loss, I like to spend a few weeks raising calories by 50 or 75 a day each week. Your metabolism adapts to this new level but because the calorie increase is very slight, your fat levels do not change very much. So after 10 weeks, your body maintains your current weight while you are eating 500-750kcal more per day.
Once your metabolism is really firing, weight loss should be a lot easier because your body is more efficient with those calories.
When you then work on your gut health, sleep and stress – THE FAT MELTS OFF AND YOU FEEL LIKE A SUPERHERO ALL THE TIME!