I see hoards of people come to the gym with one goal in mind, fat loss. They can be categorized into two types. Type I, utterly fail at losing fat, get discouraged, and are never seen again. Type II, lose weight initially, and then stall out for 8-10 months with no results.
They grow to harbor wrongful, defeatist beliefs about their body’s functioning. Everyone has heard “I can’t lose weight, I have a slow metabolism.” Or “I’ve been to the gym 6 times this week, but I still cannot lose weight!!!” I know how these people feel because I used to be one of them.
Unless your bodily function is severely messed up, which is highly unlikely, there is no reason you cannot lose body fat and become a healthier, happier, sexier, more confident version of yourself. I understand the bombardment of fitness information that is out in the media today. (I read most of it shaking my head late into the night) One person says this, another says that and you want to smack ‘em all with a baseball bat.
Most of the information is flat out inappropriate for you or trying to sell the latest hype supplement, fad diet, or workout system. If your struggling with fat loss, apply my tips for a few weeks, it will work, you will lose fat. Then apply my tips for life.
You Are What You Eat
“You are what you eat.” Well, most people are eating crap, so it’s not surprising when they look like, well… crap. Diet is 70% of losing body fat and it seems everyone has an opinion. A new diet guru seems to pop up every week. Then another will pop up saying the opposite.
Once and for all, all diets work in theory, not all diets will work for you. If you follow a diet based on rational science, to the letter, it will work. However, diets don’t work, this is proven.
The typical diet cycle goes like this, people go on a diet, lose some weight, then eventually stop dieting and their weight goes back up, often higher than it was before they decided to go on a diet. The best advice I can give you is to make your own diet, something sensible that you can stick with 90% of the time.
Follow these guidelines and you will set yourself up for success. 30 days per month, 90% of those days with good dieting, will allow you 3 days of partying, clubbing, birthdays, stress food, and mom's delicious cooking per month. This is roughly a one-off diet day every 10 days.
No one can be perfect all the time. Life happens. You don’t need to be an antisocial recluse who never gets to have any fun. That’s boring, lame and well video games lose their charm after a while.
Here are some guidelines for creating a diet.
Reduce grains – Pastry, pasta, bread, wraps, cereal, and many more. There is growing bodies of research that indicates that humans do not process grain well. Remember how bloated and gross you felt after that big pasta dinner, or when you ate all that pizza. Sure it tasted yummy, but it’s not good for the tummy.
Humans aren’t evolutionarily adapted to eat grain products. You’re human. Don’t make it a regular part of your meals. The more you avoid grain the better. This is without mentioning most grain products are processed products that contain nasty stuff like transfat and are processed so heavy that the only fiber and vitamins these products possess are the ones added back in after processing!
Get colorful – Add fruits and vegetables to your plate. Instead of a chicken burger, you’re now going to eat something like chicken, a green salad, and an orange. Beyond eating fewer calories in your meal, it is also going to be packed with vitamins, minerals, fiber, antioxidants, and phytonutrients that you weren’t eating before.
Making simple substitutions like this is the key to your losing weight. Envision two meal options and pick the healthier, less caloric version. You will amaze yourself with some of the meal combinations you can come up with even when options are limited.
Limit yourself to a fist full of fruit as it typically contains more calories than most vegetables. Other than that eat until you’re full. You will be mostly filling up on vegetables and protein so go nuts.
Hydrate! – There you stand dripping in sweat after a hard, intense workout. You are proud because you worked hard today. You shower up and step on the scale. Wow, you lost 3 pounds in your workout today. You feel like a champ, now don’t act like a chump. The weight you lost was water. (Bubble bursting)
You sweat out 3 pounds of water, an amazing feat. Without a doubt, you were working hard and you deserve credit. Now put the water back in! That’s right, replace the weight you lost in water, plus some extra. 2 pounds of water in a liter, you lost 3 pounds, so you need 1.5+ liters of water to rehydrate.
The common 8-10 glasses of water/day recommendations are great if you happen to be sitting on the couch in an air-conditioned house all day. However, you are going to get a lot more active than this so you need a lot more water.
Dehydration influences your fat loss indirectly. You will get tired, be sorer after workouts, it will make cravings more prominent, not to mention reduce brain activity (always good for students). These factors will make you sabotage your diet and exercise efforts.
Get some protein – Lean fish, beef, chicken, and wild game are great sources of protein because they contain a full amino acid profile. Amino acids are needed for almost every process and system within the body. If you don’t eat protein the body will still get the amino acids it needs, but it will steal them from the amino acid storage system, your muscles!
People rarely eat enough protein when they execute a typical diet. If the diet works, they look like a smaller version of their fat selves because the weight they lost was 60% fat and 40% muscle. Follow your diet using my guidelines and you will look like a better, smaller version of yourself because the weight loss is 90% fat.
Protein is necessary to stop muscle loss. If you have low protein in your fat loss diet, you will lose muscle mass. Muscle mass burns lots and lots of calories at rest. In general, the more calories you burn, the more weight you lose. Eating protein ensures the weight you lose is not muscle tissue. It ensures you are going to lose fat.
No liquid calories – This includes things that will melt in your mouth and throat. Liquid calories are processed differently by the body than regular food. Most of the time caloric drinks are composed of sugar, water, and flavoring and that’s it. They possess no fiber and are devoid of vitamins, minerals.
You are saying to yourself “what about juice?” Juice sucks. Eat the fruit itself. The juice is little more than the sugars and water from the initial piece of fruit. Juice often has as much sugar as pop. Sugar spikes insulin levels, insulin is a storage hormone. When insulin spikes it makes fat loss impossible on a cell to cell basis.
That liquid drink just ensured you will burn no fat for energy until your insulin levels come down. THIS IS THE EXACT OPPOSITE OF WHAT WE ARE TRYING TO ACHIEVE. Also, the juice is plain wasteful, 2 cups of apple juice need 8 apples to produce. You are far better off eating 8 apples and you will feel a lot fuller. Avoid liquid calories like the black plague.
Go Big Or Go Home
Exercise big areas of the body. I see way too many people bang out 8 sets of curls in the gym with a face that screams intensity. They believe what they are doing is going to make them look good. I laugh in my head at most of these people (sometimes out loud). Doing curls for fat loss simply sucks. It’s like setting fire to damp wood with a box of matches when you have military-issue flamethrower at your disposal.
Curls don’t activate enough muscle to make the exercise worthwhile for fat loss. Meaning they don’t burn many calories. The more muscle mass used in your exercises, the more calories you burn. Why? A greater percentage of your body mass is doing work.
This makes logical sense yet many people are so misinformed they defy logic in their training. Someone new to the training needs to seek out a gym mentor. Simply put, new trainees need help, so ask for it. If you do not know how to properly perform an exercise you need to learn.
Whether you get a personal trainer, enlist the help of a gym rat, or ask the staff at The Forge you need to admit to yourself “I don’t know.” Swallow your embarrassment and pride and ask for help. I’m going to recommend exercises that are hard. When performed correctly these exercises use most of the body. They allow you to lift more weight then you are probably used to, you should have instruction before performing them.
Here they are:
- Deadlift/Stiff Leg Deadlift
- Bent-over Row
- Bench Press (not on the machine)
- Power Clean
Adding these lifts to your workout routine will burn more calories. Do not be afraid of doing hard work in the gym. There is no diet pill or training system that can replace hard work.
Work Harder in your Cardio Sessions
There seems to be a common belief that cardio work doesn’t have to be effortful. This is just wrong. I do not care what you do for cardio. I care how you do it. The “fat-burning zone” approach to cardio is an old way of thinking. Yes, a greater percentage of fat is used for energy during your session, but you also burn fewer calories than more intense work in the same time period.
If you burn calories, despite the fuel used, it creates a bill in the body. That bill must be paid at some point. If you have 15 minutes set aside for cardio work would you rather burn 200 or 400 calories? And by the way, intense exercise gives the heart a better workout anyway.
To illustrate how bankrupt the “fat-burning zone” is realizing that the best fat burning zone is when you are asleep. You burn almost exclusively fat while you sleep at night. So why don’t you wake up thin? You were burning fat all night? Well, you only burned approximately 400 calories in 8 hours.
If you insist on avoiding hard work you will have to be at the gym for a very long time to burn the calories of someone willing to work hard. And one other thing, the harder you work the more calories you burn after your done exercising. This is very clear. The body, like society, rewards hard work.
Summing It Up
Three things you need to take away from my article.
- Work harder at the gym.
- Clean up your diet.
- Ask for help when you need it.
These tips should get you well on your way to losing a significant amount of body fat. However, this is not all there is to training and diet. When fat loss slows down you will need to tweak your exercise program and diet. If you cannot figure out a solution, you need to seek help from a knowledgeable source. It could be a doctor, personal trainer, fitness model, nutritionist, and many more, but you need to ask for help when the time comes.
Don’t let your results go to waste because you were too nervous, shy, proud, or embarrassed to admit: “I don’t know.”