Diet. One of the most hated words in the English dictionary… probably (not scientifically verified).
Last week I looked at Muscle Building 101. This week I want to focus on Fat Loss and what you need to do in order to see that reduction in body fat that so many are looking for.
The word “diet” probably brings up feelings of dread and fear as it has become associated with restricting certain foods or macronutrients, fads and slimming groups. However, one’s diet simply refers to their nutrition and the kinds of food that they habitually eats. It is an individual’s diet that will determine whether or not they see changes occur with body composition not whether or not they join Slimming World or start the latest fad diet.
Do I need to go on a diet to lose weight?
Simply, no, and here are the reasons why…
The Calorie Deficit
You don’t need to sign up to any slimming group or start a radical diet in order to see change. You’re probably overthinking it as it’s really a lot simpler than that.
Consume less calories.
What is a Calorie Deficit and what purpose does it serve?
Being within a calorie deficit means that you consume less calories than your body requires per day. For example, if my body requires 2500 calories per day and must consume less than 2500 calories per day in order to be placed within a calorie deficit.
The body must be within a calorie deficit over a prolonged period of time to create what’s called a negative energy balance. This means that the body cannot use carbohydrate, obtained from the diet, as it’s primary energy source and will begin to use stored body fat instead. Over time this will cause body fat breakdown and thus reduce overall body fat percentage.
Creating a Calorie Deficit
In order to create a calorie deficit you must first work out your Basal Metabolic Rate (or BMR). Your BMR is the amount of calories your body will burn at rest. I’ve already been over this in the Muscle Building 101 post but it is useful to recap.
This handy link uses something called the Harris-Benedict equation to calculate your BMR. Give it a try!
My BMR is estimated at 1792 calories. This figure indicates how many calories my body requires per day. Theoretically I could lose weight without even exercising. If I were to consume less than 1792 calories and rest all day I could expect to see change in terms of my body fat. That’s not to say I recommend this approach.
Having calculated my BMR I must then use the BMR Exercise Multiplier in order to calculate my daily calorie requirements as I do exercise approximately 5-7 x per week.
Therefore, I must multiply 1792 by 1.725.
BMR = 1792 x 1.725 = 3100 calories per day
As a result, to efficiently place my body in a calorie deficit I must fall beneath this figure (3100 calories). The standard recommendation is to reduce your calorie intake by 250 calories. Therefore, I would require approximately 2850 calories per day to be in a calorie deficit.
Once you’ve determined how many calories you must consume per day you should then begin calorie counting each day. It would be extremely difficult to try to figure out how many calories are contained within each meal you consume every day. To make life easier you can download a health app, such as MyFitnessPal, which will do all the hard work for you. You can set you daily calorie target and then all you need to do is search for the food you’ve eaten during the day and the app will estimate how many calories you have consumed. Doing this every day is a sure way of ensuring that you consume the adequate amount of calories to keep the body in a state of calorie deficiency. It is extremely important to adhere to this and be honest about the food you are consuming to see whether or not you are falling within the set calorie targets.
“Diets” can be extremely restrictive
Time and time again people start different and sometimes odd diets in a desperate attempt to shed the pounds. More often than not the individual will start strong and stick to their diet initially, however as time progresses and the cravings for unhealthy food increases they eventually give in to temptation and often return to their old eating habits.
My advice would be not to entirely cut out these unhealthy foods that you enjoy eating, first and foremost because a restrictive diet is often not an enjoyable one which is why so many diets fail. Instead, incorporate these foods into your diet but within moderation to help fight cravings whilst ensuring you still fall within your calorie targets.
Quick Fix Diets
“Drop a dress size in just FIVE days!” … “Use this 30 day detox diet to shed a pound a day”
You may have heard similar claims and people advocating the use of such diets. These diets do work, undoubtedly. Just take a look at shows such as “Biggest Loser” and “Fat to Fit” to see the incredible amount of weight that an individual can shed in a short period of time.
These individuals are put through punishing workouts and are given a highly restrictive diet in order to bring extreme change – some contestants have even lost up to 50% of their body weight in a very short timeframe! The calorie deficit was so low that fat burn was rapid. However, if you read into the stories of numerous contestants you will find that after the show they quickly began to put the pounds back on again.
So what caused this?
If the calorie deficit is too drastic, the body responds by slowing down its metabolism (BMR) in order to save energy. Therefore, when an individual comes off a radical diet and begins to eat normally again (increasing calories), quick weight gain will occur as a as a result of this slowed metabolism. This is also a cause of “Yo-Yo Dieting” or “Weight-Cycling” where an individual will experience cycles of weight loss and weight gain.
Unfortunately there is no “quick fix” when it comes to weight loss. Instead, focus on a lifestyle change. Body fat reduction needs to be gradual to ensure long-term, sustainable change. Patience is key.
Detox and Fad Diets
“My friend lost 2 stone through a detox diet” … “I finally lost weight with a low-carb diet”
Again, let me just stress that there are no magic diets or formula’s to help you lose weight. Yes, it is very possible that your friend lost 2 stone through a detox diet or you managed to lose weight using a low-carb diet however, this is not the driver of weight loss. The drop in calories associated with that particular diet caused the compositional change and was not as a result of the “detox” or low-carb intake.
(If you’re unsure what is meant by Macronutrients have a read of my blog on Nutrition!)
It is not absolutely essential to track macronutrients within the fat loss phase diet as the focus should primarily be on calories, however that’s not to say it can’t or shouldn’t be done.
You can estimate how many macronutrients to consume using this link.
Top Tips for Effective Weight Loss
– Reduce portion sizes
– Drink water before meals (helps to avoid overeating)
– Ensure you include calories from drinks (especially alcoholic drinks)
– Try to avoid snacking as much as possible
– Eat lots of fruit and vegetables which will help you feel fuller for longer
– Plan your meals in advance