How to lose fat!
Losing fat is very simple. There are 3 key elements to getting into a better shape, they are easy once you figure out what works best for you. The 3 key elements are diet, physical activity and hormones. So very briefly, diet is all about finding what works best for you because everyone is different and has a different lifestyle. So a part of what I will cover is a few types of diets that are not a “fad” diet, they actually work, just experiment and find what works best for you! The next is physical activity, now this ties perfectly in with diet and hormones. The more physical lifestyle you have whether it’s from exercise, your job, hobbies or whatever else you choose to do, the more likely you are to decrease health risks, likely to have more optimised hormone levels and optimal body fat levels and stable moods. The last is hormones which can ultimately determine every result as it is a major part of our body. The most important hormone for males are testosterone and for females it is oestrogen and progesterone. A hormone very valuable to both is human growth hormone. All of these can be affected by our health levels, physical activity and diet. Now lets get into it all.
Everyone being different, everyone requires a different required calorie amount, macro and micronutrient ratio combination and nutrient timing to suit both genetics, lifestyle and body manipulation. Let’s start with talking about what calories, macro and micro nutrients are. Calories, to basically put it is energy, which is then divided into carbohydrates (primary source of energy), fats (secondary source of energy) and protein (least preferred source of energy). Micro nutrients are your vitamins and minerals which I will not really cover much of but I will say and stand by you need to add variety of vegetables, dairy, grains, nuts, legumes, fruit and meat to your diet with lots of leafy greens as vegetables to get sufficient amounts of all vitamins and minerals. Now to delve a bit deeper into the nutrients, here is a table to quickly summarise the different types and what foods match with what.
- Complex Carbohydrates (slow digesting)
- Simple Carbohydrates (fast digesting)
- Simple Carbohydrates (refined sugars)
Complex: Sweet potato, brown rice, wholemeal pasta, wholemeal bread, beans, grains and starchy vegetables.
Simple: White potato, white rice, pasta and fruit.
Simple (refined): Lollies, chocolate, biscuits, pastries, mainly sweets!
- Essential Amino Acids
- Non-Essential Amino Acids
Essential: Meat, seafood, dairy, eggs and poultry.
Non: Plant proteins (grains, cereals, nuts and seeds).
- Essential Fatty Acids
- Non-Essential Fatty Acids
Essential: Omega 3 & 6. Nuts, whole grains (flaxseed very rich in omega 3), fish (salmon or fish oil) and vegetables.
Non: Saturated and trans fat (saturated should be kept to a minimum and trans fat avoided all together) and finally omega 9. Foods rich in omega 9 are olive oil, avocado, macadamia nuts and almonds.
Now that the macro nutrients have been broken down, lets get into the diets now. So we will start off with calories in versus calories out. This is very simple, if you want to lose weight you burn more calories than you put in and that is through either exercise, diet or both. If you wanted to gain weight, you would eat more calories than you burn. Now, 1 gram of carb and protein is worth 4 calories each where as 1 gram of fat equals 9 calories per gram. Generally, this is how you work out your calories for maintenance This is a very general way of doing this so please contact a nutritionist or dietician to be specific for your needs. So here is how you would work out your caloric needs to maintain your bodyweight.
Now for males if you were to weigh 90kg which equals 200lbs.
200 x 8 = 1600 (carbs)
200 x 4 = 800 (protein)
Add the total calories for carbs and fat together 1600 + 800 = 2400
Now divide the calories by 0.3 (30% of your calories will be from fat which is a small to moderate amount)
2400 x 0.3 = 720
Add them all together, 1600 + 800 + 720 = 3120 calories.
Now for females you do the exact same except for carbs you just do times 4.
Here is an example of the formula:
200 x 8 = 1600
1600 x 0.3 = 480
1600 + 480 = 2080 calories.
That is a very general rule and a good starting point for your transformation, to then determine whether you want to gain or lose weight. Either add, or take away 500 calories. If you wanted to gain weight it would then be 3620 calories for males or 2580 for females. If you wanted to lose weight for males it would be 2620 calories or 1580 for females.
This is also where macro counting and the low carb versus low fat approach comes in. Now, a great app available online on your Laptop, Desktop or your iPhone or Android device is called myfitnesspal. It is very easy to use to track your calories and macros using this as it can be on your mobile to be taken anywhere, you can either enter foods in manually or scan barcodes and it has a massive database of foods so nothing should be missing!
So now that you have got your calories, if you wanted to try different types of diets all you need to do is use percentage to calculate your macros (carbs, fat and protein) given your caloric number.
Here is an example for a basic performance type diet with a ratio of 50% carbohydrate intake, 30% protein and 20% fat for a 90kg male as shown above.
So, 3120 calories is the amount needed to maintain a 90kg males bodyweight.
Here is how the macros are calculated, it’s very simple.
3120 (calories) x 0.50 (percentage) divided by 4 (calorie per gram of carb) = 390g of carbohydrates
3120 x 0.30 divided by 4 = 234g of protein
3120 x 0.20 divided by 9 = 69.3g of fat
So there is your macro count! If you want to lose weight you to the same, except you take 500 off of 3120, which I will quickly show below.
3120 – 500 = 2630 calories
2630 x 0.50 divided by 4 = 328g of carbs
2630 x 0.30 divided by 4 = 197.25g of protein
2630 x 0.20 divided by 9 = 58.44g of fat
So that is how you calculate if you wanted to lose weight, if you want to gain weight you simply do the opposite by adding 500 onto 3120!
So now you know how to calculate your calories and percentages, here is a short list of diets that actually work! They are not fads and have science and evidence to prove it and back them up, here are the macro percentages below.
Low carb/high fat/moderate protein: 20/50/30
High carb/low fat/moderate protein: 50/20/30
Ketogenic diet carbs/fat/protein: 10/70/20
Moderate carb/low fat/high protein: 30/20/50
The above are the recommended ratios for those diets. Everyone is different, everyone lives a different lifestyle, react differently to different foods, sleeping and eating patterns, exercise etc.
Now that types of diets are covered in a general manner (I haven’t gone into the science or logic behind them which I may do in further articles) I will now get into nutrient timing and diet strategies. So I will give a general cover of some diet strategies that they help you to suit your lifestyle or to simply suit your body type better.
So to quickly get into an overview of what nutrient timing is, it is basically eating the nutrients when your body needs them most or to manipulate your body to work a certain way. To explain nutrient timing, I will just go over the nutrients and when they are a necessity.
Carbs: Only needed before and after training. To provide energy and then to restore any lost glycogen within the muscles. Slow digesting carbs are best before your workout, roughly 2 to 3 hours, then fast digesting carbs like fruit 45 minutes to an hour before. Slow digesting carbs like sweet potato, brown rice, beans, oats are great 2 to 3 hours. Fast digesting carbs like white rice and white potato, even mix it in with a slow digesting carbohydrate so you get the best of both. Another sub-macronutrient is fiber which is a type of carbohydrate. The average goal for fiber is 30g a day, great sources of fiber are dark leafy greens, grains, beans, sweet potato, brown rice and also unrefined cocoa powder.
Fat: Healthy fats are great for consumption in every single meal although it needs to be very limited when mixed with carbohydrate sources because once they both hit the blood stream and carbohydrates raise blood glucose and insulin levels it will then push the fat to it’s respective cell and get stored. Healthy fats are great for brain function, hormone balance, heart health, immune system health etc. Healthy fats are essential to your body hence why they are needed and are very important and should not be taken out of your diet or kept to a minimum! It is best to get a variety of healthy fats from various sources to ensure you are getting sufficient amounts of fat and all of the types of healthy fats. Foods containing healthy fats are nuts such as peanuts and almonds, whole eggs, fatty fish like salmon, avocado, chia seeds and grass fed dairy products.
Protein: Protein is also another nutrient that should be consumed in every meal although the amount will depend on your goal and lifestyle. If you are an athlete of some sort you will require larger amounts, if you are someone who just wants to eat better, it is recommended to have a fist sized portion. Great sources of protein are chicken, beef, turkey, eggs, seafood and some plant based foods such as beans, grains and dark leafy vegetables also add up to ample amounts of protein when combined. Protein is essential for muscle cell growth, function, growth and and regulation of the bodys tissue and organs.
I will start off with carb cycling. This can be done in many ways and it is widely known that carbohydrates is the human body’s preferred source of energy so an excess consumption or consuming carbs and not using the energy is just going to result in fat gain right? Correct, so the strategy behind carb cycling is to consume carbs when they are needed most. Carb cycling is an advanced way of dieting, it is extremely low on low carb days which some people cannot tolerate and function on and also very high on high carb days which people would love. Ways to carb cycle are:
- High carbs on the days you train, low carbs on non training days.
- Low carb for 5 days and high carb for 2, usually 2 days low, 1 high, 3 low and then another high.
These are the two most basic, straight forward strategies for carb cycling which will produce the best results.
The next and last diet is intermittent fasting. With intermittent fasting you can incorporate any other type of diet so it could be carb cycling, high protein, low carb, low fat, keto, calorie counting, macro counting and nutrient timing. Also, some of these can be infused together so you can use macro counting for calorie counting or to count carbs, fats, protein individually or together, keto etc.
Intermittent fasting can be followed in a few different protocols with the most basic being 16/8. So that is 16 hours fasting and 8 hours eating. So generally you would try and fit this in with your training or your work schedule if you don’t train. If you were to train in the afternoon or early night, you would stop eating from 8pm at night and then you would sleep and then you wouldn’t begin to eat until 11am the next day and then repeat by stopping at 8pm the following night. This is the only way of intermittent fasting I recommend as it is the most realistic to follow and is backed by science. The benefits of intermittent fasting are your insulin levels drop which leads to the burning of fat, elevated hgh levels which also results in fat burning as well as muscle growth, stronger bones, increased growth etc. It can help reduce stress and inflammation as well as other health and longevity benefits.
That is all I will be covering for diet today, there is much more to go into and to discuss but they are the basics plus a bit extra.
Physical activity being the second topic I will discuss on how to lose weight. This ties in with diet, it is very, very hard to out train a poor diet but the two work hand in hand together. Physical activity can be increased in many ways whether it is hitting the gym and weight training, cardio or both, it can be going for walks, runs, hiking, bike riding, sport and any other physical activities. The physical activity that burns the most calories is weight training, it exerts the most energy, uses the most muscle glycogen and depending on the persons training intensity can get a very high heart rate and maintain it for a long time thus burning the most calories.
Weight training can be completed in many ways, full body workouts or in body parts, it can then be completed in straight sets or exercises, supersets, tri sets, quad sets or circuits.
I will not go much into weight training or physical activity but they are just ways you can increase physical activity to burn more calories and in turn burning more fat.
Hormones are a massive part of growth, mood, health, burning fat and building muscle. Hormones within your body can be altered by genetics, diet, physical activity, mood, sleep and body fat percentage.
Starting off with genetics, usually you cannot do too much to change the ultimate composition of hormone levels or profiles within the individuals although can be altered to a certain degree. Genetics can be more prone to certain things and depending on the individual may be more likely to develop certain diseases, illnesses or cancers. You can alter your genetics my following a correct sleeping, training and diet regime suited to your needs, as well as maintaining a consistent mood and being in a healthy body fat percentage range.
Diet, going back to nutrient timing, you can alter your hormones by when you eat and what type of foods you eat. If you were to get a blood test, you can get your blood type tested at your local GP. There are different types of foods related to different blood types. My blood type is A, the A blood type diet is mainly vegetarian, seafood with little chicken. I should be consuming little to no dairy and red meat. So eating the right types of food suited to your blood types should only cause positive reactions and effects within your body. With timing the nutrients so no carbs from the moment you wake up until you training, just protein and fats will ensure your blood sugar levels are low and you will be burning fat as fuel. Eating slow carbs before your workout will keep them at steady levels and provide enough energy for your workout and consuming quick digesting protein and carbs after will ensure cortisol is limited and your body is refuelled again. Also eating fats and protein before bed will keep blood sugar low and the body building during it’s sleep and with healthy fats it will help maintain proper hormone and body function.
Physical activity, a great tool to increase hormones. Again, coming back to weight training having a massive increase in igf-1, testosterone and growth hormone which results in increased muscle gain and a decrease in body fat. Also it has an increase I metabolism which helps your body burn through food and calories. Another way to increase metabolism is HIIT training, it is a form of cardio training that is short and sharp and can be done in anywhere. HIIT training stands for High Intensity Interval Training. An example I will show you can be done in your own back yard and it only takes 10 minutes. All you need to do is run flat out for 30 seconds and then walk or jog for 30 seconds and do this 10 times each and then you have completed your own HIIT workout!
Mood, is another massive factor in hormone changes. Generally whether your get angry, sad or stressed, it releases a hormone called cortisol. It is highly linked to fat gain around the torso. This can then lead to many other issues as fat gain then can lead to decreased in good hormones such as hgh and testosterone in men and progesterone and oestrogen in women. Having low levels can decrease metabolism, increased mood swings, depression, low energy levels etc. Keeping a level head and a positive attitude has a bigger affect than you would have thought. Keeping cortisol levels to a minimum is essential because it is detrimental to your happiness and results.
Now, the last one, sleep! Sleep is the period for your body to do it’s magic. It’s time for your body to reset, recover and grow. Everything important happens while you sleep and it is important that you get the adequate amount of sleep so your body can function to it’s maximum potential. If you do not sleep, your body will not function correctly and that can lead to the same as above, low hormone levels which increases your chances of fat gain, increased mood swings, mental illnesses, low energy levels etc. Make sure you are getting the adequate amount of sleep and be consistent with it to ensure your body is recovering, repairing and growing to it’s maximum potential.
I hope you have found this article very informative and understanding, it is quite long but I hope it helps!
Thanks for reading.
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© 2017 Thomas O'Dwyer-Richards