Fat loss is a hot topic especially at this time of the year, and everyone claims to have the answer as to how to shed the Christmas pounds as quickly, and with as little effort as possible!
With every website providing different advice, it can be very confusing to know what to follow. We find the trick is not to overcomplicate things, so here we have provided you with a simple recap on what is required to lose body fat, as well as 8 easy steps to kick start your fat loss journey
HOW TO LOSE BODY FAT?
We eat food because our bodies need energy to survive and stay healthy. The energy value of food is measured in calories. This is a measure of energy just like a meter is a measure of distance. Whether you lose or gain weight is determined by the energy balance, which simply means calories consumed minus calories burned.
Energy balance = calories eaten - calories burned
When this equation = zero, you will neither lose or gain weight, as the energy balance is neutral. If this number is positive, you’re in a calorie surplus and you will gain weight. If the balance is negative you’re in a calorie deficit and you will lose weight
For more detailed information, see our article on how energy balance works.
These 8 steps will help you to manipulate your energy balance equation in order to reach your fat loss goals.
1 - Make an estimation of your calorie needs
How many calories you need depends on your body size, body composition and how active you are. Calorie requirements can vary a lot from person to person, and one of the mistakes people make is in tending to underestimate how much they eat and overestimate the amount of calories they burn with exercise. If you spend most of your time sitting, like many of us working an office job do, you’ll need to be conservative with your estimation. There are many websites that can calculate your calorie needs for you, including our own order form - simply enter in your details here selecting the Fat Loss goal, or ask or the FFF team.
2 - Apply a calorie deficit large enough to make a difference but small enough to be sustainable
As previously mentioned, the energy balance is the most important factor when it comes to fat loss. So once you have made an estimation of your daily calorie requirements, you need to eat less than that to lose weight. Now it may sound like a good idea to just eat half the calories required, because then you need to stick to your plan for a shorter period of time, right? Theoretically, yes. The reality is that you may be able to live off minimum calories for a day or 2 maybe if you’re very strong willed, but in the long run it is not sustainable. As a rough guide, a deficit of 20% is sustainable for most. This means that if you burn 2000 kcal on any given day, your calorie budget with a 20% deficit would be 1600. The more overweight you are, the larger your deficit can be.
Even at 20%, a calorie deficit can be tricky to stick to, we know, we’ve tried it. We therefore have ample tips on how to stick to a deficit even when it seems impossible.
3 - Make a plan that works with your lifestyle and preferences
Most diets out there ‘work’ in the short term, but are not sustainable in the long run. The problem with most of these is that they are too restrictive or don’t fit in with your lifestyle, or align with your preferences. Therefore we recommend finding a diet that suits you and your body. So whether you create your calorie deficit by going vegan, intermittent fasting or eating like a caveman.. that is entirely up to you as long as you adhere to the one rule of eating less than you burn.
4 - Exercise can support fat loss by creating a calorie deficit, but is more important to maintain health
You can increase your calorie budget by exercising. However, people tend to overestimate how many calories are burned during exercise so be careful not to use this as an excuse to double your food intake! That doesn’t mean it is a useless way to spend your time because exercise is important to stay healthy, it helps to build muscle, as well as reducing the risk of cardiovascular and bone disease. And don’t panic if the gym is not your thing, your body does not differentiate between exercising in a gym or anywhere else. Find an activity that you enjoy and that can be anything, running, walking or playing tennis. You’re more likely to sustain the activity if you enjoy doing it.
5 - Focus on eating whole foods
Eating a diet based on whole foods resolves a lot of issues as to why people gain weight in the first place. It is more difficult to overeat on whole foods (nobody overeats broccoli, but it’s very easy to eat a day’s calorie budget with chocolate). Whole foods will satiate better than processed foods and they provide vitamins, minerals and fibre to support your overall health too.
6 - Incorporate foods you love, occasionally
Everyone fancies something delicious every once in a while and trying to make these foods forbidden fruits for the rest of your life is not realistic, no matter how motivated you were on January 1st. It’s also unnecessary. As long as you keep your portions in check, it is possible to enjoy treats on a fat loss diet. There are ways of doing this sensibly. If your favourite food is carrot cake, don’t go and buy a whole carrot cake with the intention of eating only one slice, because chances are you probably won’t stick with one slice. Rather than buying a whole cake, go to your favourite coffee shop, order one slice and enjoy it. Successful weight loss involves controlling your environment, because motivation can only take you so far. Having a carrot cake lying around in the fridge will not make your life easier.
7 - Measure, because you’re not as skilled at counting calories as you think
As mentioned earlier, we tend to underestimate how much we eat but we’re also not very good at estimating the calories in food. So when you first begin dieting, it is really useful to start keeping track of what you eat. There are many handy apps available such as My Fitness Pal to help you do just that. Try this for a week religiously and once you have a better understanding of calories in food you’ll be able to make better choices without having to track everything all the time.
8 - Stick to your plan, monitor progress and adjust accordingly
Once you have created your nutrition and training plan, tailored it to your lifestyle and tastes, then tracked your meals for a while so you know what you’re doing... here’s the magic tip: stick to it. Understand that it takes time to shift weight. Nobody ever gained weight from overeating for one day and similarly you will not lose weight from eating one healthy meal. Losing weight is a gradual process achieved by consistently making the right choices. As long as you are moving in the right direction you are doing well.
If you have any questions on fat loss or any other nutrition topics, jump onto our Twitter and ask away, be sure to hashtag #ASKROBIN, and you'll questions will soon be answered!
Twitter - @Fresh_Fit_food
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