So what’s the difference here?
This is the key – the key to looking lean, strong and fit as opposed to skinny, emaciated and un-well.
The key is to lose fat and not just weight.
We’ve already established pure ‘weight’ loss can be achieved from a reduction in calories – that is – simply eating less than your body burns.
Eating less than your body burns will reduce your body weight. Body weight will be taken from both fat mass and lean tissue…. not what we want.
No matter your goal or age, lean tissue needs to be preserved to keep your strength levels up, metabolism running smoothly and looking fit.
So how do we look to target just fat?
– Eating at a moderate deficit level (same principle as weight loss)
With a couple of extras…
– Consuming optimum levels of the three main macronutrients
– Incorporating muscle sparing exercise.
Calories are broken down into three main macronutrients; Fats, Carbohydrates and Proteins.
What’s the optimum intake of each?
This is where most will say ‘oh you can’t possibly give a blanket once size fits all approach, we’re all so different’…
Well… last time I checked we’re all human – a pretty bloody huge commonality. So drop the nonsense – it’s BS like this which adds to the confusion and paralysis in taking action.
Principles can be applied across the board to get fat shifting in the right direction. We all need to start somewhere.
Let’s first understand the vital roles each macronutrient plays:
Protein supports healthy bodily function, promotes cell reproduction, preserves and builds muscle. Higher protein levels also help with preventing hunger throughout the ongoing deficit. Eaten in excess will indirectly be stored as Fat.
Carbohydrates regardless of their origin (complex or simple) are all ultimately broken down into the same basic energy source –glucose. Carbohydrates are the most readily accessible source of energy for your body to use. There is no need to cut these out (contrary to popular belief). Carbohydrates are predominantly used for energy production. The glucose obtained from digested carbohydrate is used by the muscle and brain for energy to function. Glucose that isn’t immediately used for energy is stored in both the muscle and liver as glycogen (for future use). Excess of this is stored as fat.
Dietary intake of Fat’s are used as a secondary energy source to carbohydrate and are essential for regulating proper hormonal function. Eaten in excess (just like carbohydrate and protein) will be stored as Fat.
The energy value (as used by the body) for each is broken down into the following:
Protein – 4 calories per 1 gram
Carbohydrate – 4 calories per 1 gram
Fat – 9 calories per 1 gram
Now this is the point at which most stuff you read stops – there are zero further dietary recommendations….
That isn’t how I like to do things.
So here it is – a very effective basic template that can get things moving for you. This – coupled with a consistent, effective workout regime to spare your muscle mass will ignite your fat stores.
Number crunching time.
Calculate your daily calorie expenditure. There are many online calculators for this – but the one I’ve found works really well (from a basic standpoint) is to simply multiply your bodyweight in lbs by 15.
This will give you your approximate daily expenditure (represented as calories) to maintain your weight.
To lose 1lb of fat per week – research and personal experience shows that we need to be consuming at a weekly deficit of 3500 calories (under baseline weight maintenance level).
This means our daily deficit to lose 1lb of fat per week must be 500 calories below weight maintenance (3500 / 7).
Lost you yet? Bare with me!
‘Why 1lb of fat per week? I want to lose it quicker than that!’
1 lb of Fat loss per week is a safe level toconsistently achieve. Of course, depending on how much fat needs to be lost – it’s not uncommon to lose more than this initially for the first few weeks.
130 lb women
Weight maintenance calories (assuming consistent exercise): 1950 calories
1950 – 500 = 1450 calories per day.
This figure now needs to be broken down into correctly balanced levels of macronutrients (Protein, Carbohydrates and Fat).
This is where individual variance and lifestyle choices come in. For someone doing heavy weight training three times per week – the protein needs will be drastically different from someone wanting fat loss through walking three times per week…
Regardless to the above- the muscle sparing part of this equation is covered by keeping Protein intake higher – this is an unchanging variable.
That leaves us with Carbohydrates and Fats to tinker with. This is the area where individuality and ‘optimum’ levels come into play.
Let me establish these two vital points…
There is nothing wrong with higher carbohydrate diets unless in an individual case – it’s eating these foods to excess – which leads to excess calories – which leads to weight gain.
There is nothing wrong with higher fat diets unless in an individual case – it’s eating these foods to excess – which leads to excess calories – which leads to weight gain.
At this point – the calorie quota is set for your daily deficit. It’s just a case of figuring out what works better for you. Some people prefer high fat, low carb. Some people prefer higher carb, lower fat.
The only thing to take note of here is that the body requires fat as a necessity to function properly. Initially – try setting daily fat intake at 30% of daily total calories – this will be enough to keep your body ticking properly.
Now we have 70% left to obtain from both Carbohydrate and Protein.
If you’re simply ‘active’ and doing light exercise three times per week, protein doesn’t need to be so high – shoot for say 30% of your calories from protein. The remaining 40% from Carbohydrate.
On the other hand, if physical training is more structured around resistance based workouts – protein will need to be higher to rebuild and maintain the very active muscle tissue. Flip it to 40% protein and 30% carbohydrate in this case.
This is a great template to start with and if done correctly – should get your body optimally burning fat stores whilst retaining vital muscle and mental sanity!
I love to hear from you. Please do tell me if you have any questions / experiences around Fat Loss diets or issues. If you want more information or help just message me – I’ll always get back to you!
All the best