How to actually lose weight.
So you want to lose weight? Great you’re in the right place.
Well you’re not alone, nor are you the first to have this thought. In fact, there has been a multi billion dollar industry built on and around this very problem. The issue is most of it is utter lies and at best mis-information. The good news for you is you’re here reading this article, and it’s about to change your life. Firstly lets clear up this “lose weight” thing and get the terminology right. You’re probably not actually wanting to lose any muscle tissue, skin, bone, hair or body water stores. So lets call it what it really is, you’re wanting to reduce or lose your excess body fat.
What’s the first thing you think of when you want to lose body fat? I bet something like this pops into your head – “If I burn more calories than I consume then I will lose weight”. And I bet its quickly followed with “I can do this by eating less food and spending more time on a treadmill every day.” The very next day you join a gym (or take up running) and for 1-2 hours per day, every day, you’re either on a treadmill, elliptical or rowing machine. Or maybe you take up classes like body attack or body pump. You probably also start “eating less” on some new diet plan the latest fitness mag or celebrity has sold to you. And effectively torture yourself in order to lose weight. It’s horrible. You hate it. You then throw in the towel after a week. Rinse and repeat.
What if I told you there is another way, and it actually works? Your first step is to stop believing the following 8 lies. Only then will you be able to have any real lasting success.
Lie #1 – You need to only eat salads and be hungry all the time to lose body fat.
Truth – Not eating enough of the right food is actually going to increase your fat stores over time.
Diet is the most important aspect of fat loss. 80% of your success is going to be due to what you eat. So if you were to severely limit your intake and starve yourself you wont achieve any success, you will actually add more fat to your body in the long-term. This can be explained very well by this flow chart to the right. The dieters cycle, it’s nasty and self-perpetuating. If you haven’t seen this before it probably explains why you never seem to be able to lose weight even though you have dieted in the past.
Chances are if you want to lose body fat then you need to change your view on food. Food shouldn’t ever be consumed as a reward for exercise or without thought and intent. Food is fuel for your body. Whilst you’re trying to lose body fat this is how you need to start thinking. Fat loss is achieved by maintaining a balanced nutritional deficit with natural whole foods. In order to do this follow the steps below.
1. Download an app on your phone called “My fitness pal” for tracking what you eat.
2. Weigh yourself first thing in the morning.
3. You’re then going to work out your calorie requirement per day with this calorie calculator use the 0.5kg per week estimate.
4. Record everything you eat into the app for the next week. I mean everything. Weigh it all exactly.
5. Weigh yourself at the exact same time and day as step 2 in the following week.
Did you lose weight? Great stay at that calorie intake until you reach your goal.
Didn’t lose weight? Drop the calories by 10%
Gained weight? Drop calories by 20%
You have to be honest with yourself when doing this otherwise it wont work. Normally when I ask people what they should be eating they respond with “yeah I know what I should be eating, salads and stuff”. The best advice I can give you for what you should and shouldn’t be eating? Well that’s also simple, nothing that is processed. Fresh meat and veggies only. That means no grains (eg. bread, pasta or rice) no dairy (eg. milk, cheese or yogurt), cook everything from scratch and drink plenty of water. As long as you don’t go over you calories each day you will have success.
Nutrition and what to eat is a very large topic and I have plenty more suggestions. I will write another blog post on it in the coming weeks, so once its finished I’ll link it here. In the mean time i offer nutritional consultations for a small fee, please email me for more details and to book in for one.
For a brief idea on a meals for the dat you could follow something like the below (obviously the amount of each food would be dependent on your caloric intake limits);
1. Eggs & Mushrooms
2. Smoothie (Banana, Raw Egg, Spinach, Oats, Almond Milk)
3. Mini Quiche
1. Chilli Con Carne with Cauliflower Rice
2. Stir fried chicken, bacon, spinach, avo and sweet potato
3. Lamb skewers with steamed veggies and green salad
1. Steak with grilled green beans & spinach
2. An omelet stuffed with capsicum, red onion, spinach and radish
3. Mexican spiced beef mince & veg, stuffed into a baked capsicum
1. Handful of natural almonds
2. Bag of microwaved frozen veggies
3. Protein shake or bar
4. Fresh Carrot
Please don’t take this as what you should eat exactly, this is just to give you an idea of the possible foods and meals you could cook. But to ensure you continue to lose body fat I highly recommend that you start a regular excise program consisting of, but not limited to, free weight training and interval based cardio. Keep reading for more information on those topics below.
Lie #2 – Eating fat will make you fat. Eliminate as much fat from your diet as possible.
Truth – Healthy fats are an essential macro nutrient and without them you will never feel full.
This has got to the biggest contributing factor to the current obesity epidemic we now face as a society. It all started back in the ’70s with the McGovern Report funded by the American government, which published the Dietary Goals for the USA. They suggested that carbohydrates comprise 55% of peoples diet and fat comprise 30%, with a focus on limiting saturated fat intake and limiting cholesterol to lower than 300mg. However, the report chose to ignore a lot of the conflicting evidence at the time and was published mainly due to political pressures to been seen doing something rather than nothing. It’s also worth noting that the emphasis placed on carbohydrate consumption aided America’s agriculture and sugar production, therefore boosting their economy.
I’m sure by now you’re thinking “But that’s America, not Australia”. Well our government guidelines are influenced by America so we adopted the same approach. Basically what you need to know is that the dietary guidelines were established with inconclusive evidence and not for the better health of everyone but primarily to focus on only one disease, heart disease. Here are two studies 2009 Joint FAO/WHO Expert Consultation & 2010 Oakland Research Institute that both conclude pretty much the same thing “that there is no evidence to support that dietary saturated fat is associated with an increased risk of cardiovascular disease”. There are many many more of these studies from even earlier than the 1970’s report. So the main focus ( to decrease the risk of heart disease) was actually never achievable with their guidelines!
People were then told to avoid all fat and load up on ‘heart healthy whole grains’ but the worst part of that advice is that it’s those very grains, sugars and other highly processed carbs that have made you fat. The Australian Guide to Healthy Eating was updated recently in 2015 and it’s pretty much the same advice as they have been giving for the last 40 years. They are still ignoring the overwhelming evidence contrary to their guidelines. I’ll explain below.
Eating a meal which is high in carbohydrates yet low in fat and protein means that it will be absorbed very quickly by your body, resulting in an insulin spike. This then causes your body to store the energy mostly as body fat. With no healthy fats in this meal it will cause you to become hungry a lot sooner, as fat helps makes you feel full, satiated. The craziest part of all this is that carbohydrates are your body’s main energy source, so after the insulin spike has caused all this fat storage it leaves very little energy left for your body. This then causes your brain to signal for more carbohydrates therefore you get hungry again.
“High insulin levels — caused by our modern processed diet and other influences — have programmed fat cells to take in and store too many calories, leaving too few for the rest of the body. So we get hungry, and metabolism slows down. Eventually, fat tissue develops chronic inflammation, setting the stage for diabetes and heart disease. Cutting back calories on conventional diets doesn’t solve the fundamental problem: “hungry fat” stuck in calorie storage overdrive. The best way to calm down fat cells is a higher fat diet, with the right balance of protein and natural, slow digesting carbohydrates”
Healthy fats vs Trans fats
You of course still need to avoid trans fats (partially hydrogenated oil) as this stuff is, quite literally, the devil! Foods that contain it are margarine, vegetable oil, anything deep-fried, icing, microwave popcorn, biscuits, crackers, supermarket cakes etc. Basically if the label has “partially hydrogenated oil” in the ingredients list, drop it on the floor and move away very slowly.
You should keep and/or increase your intake of healthy fats as these are actually good for you. Think butter, coconut oil, olive oil, eggs, nuts, avocado, cheese, grass-fed meats like beef and lamb, and the holy grail of foods – bacon.
To summarise: healthy fat is not your enemy, it’s your long-lost friend. It’s time you throw down your arms and embrace it! If you need an enemy in your nutritional life I have a suggestion – *points over at sugar and fast digesting carbohydrates, both of which have sheepish looks on their faces*. Those jerks are not your friend, try to limit your time with them. Your body and health will thank you.
Lie #3 – You need to spend an hour a day doing steady state cardio to lose body fat.
Truth – Steady state cardio isn’t an effective training method for achieving fat loss.
There are only really three reasons to do hours of steady state cardio:
1. You actually enjoy the activity. And it actually makes you very happy.
2. You want to improve your cardiovascular health.
3. You’re training for a marathon, triathlon or an iron man event.
Fat loss is not one of those reasons, that’s because steady state cardio is ineffective at burning fat. When you first start you will initially see some weight loss, but after only a very short time your body will adopt to the training and that will then cease. There are more effective and lasting methods you can use instead. The best way I have found is pairing high intensity interval training (HIIT) with a periodised weight training program.
HIIT is far superior to steady state cardio, working with the tabata protocol which has a 20s work phase and a 10s rest phase. The idea is to go as hard as you can in the work phase (hence high intensity) and slow down or stop (depending on the exercise) during the rest phase. Tabata rounds last just 4-8mins with a single exercise. This can be done with pretty much any form or type of cardio exercise. 1996 Izumi Tabata – Japanese National Institute of Fitness and Sports.
There are many different forms interval training can take, 30:30, 40:20 or 50:10. Each of those being work phase vs rest phase respectively and these longer intervals can be performed with pretty much any exercise known. The key pointer with all interval training is that the work phase is a maximal effort.
Yes that’s right – weight/resistance training will actually help you lose body fat. And before you say it (I hear it all the bloody time) please read the next heading. I think it will answer the age-old concern of women everywhere “I don’t want to lift weights because it will make me look bulky”.
Lie #4 – Lift only light weights for high repetitions to “tone” as heavy weights will make you “bulky”.
Truth – Moderate to heavy weight training is the most effective method of training for fat loss.
Weight/resistance training is the key to losing body fat and keeping it off long-term. I really have no idea why it gets such a bad rep within our society, as it really is one of the most effective ways to achieve not only fat loss, but improve pretty much every health ailment known to us. This is due to what happens to your body when you stress your muscles with a form of resistance, in this case lifting a weight a certain number of times.
Post training a process called muscular hypertrophy occurs. Without going too far into the science and biology of this process, it effectively causes very small tears within the muscle fibre which are then repaired by the body over 48 hours after exercise. This is important for a few reasons. Firstly, that during that 48 hours post workout your body will be burning more energy at rest. This is because the muscle tissue is trying to rebuild bigger and stronger so that next time you move that weight it’s easier for you. Obviously the muscular increase day-to-day is very very small, this is why it can take months and/or years of consistent hard training to achieve a body builder physique.
Secondly, increased muscle tissue results in an increased metabolism, therefore greater fat burning at rest. This is because muscle tissue requires lots of energy to be maintained. In other words if you have heaps of muscle, you’re going to burn loads of energy whilst doing nothing. The other added bonus of this type of training is that it has been proven to also increase bone density at the same time. The benefits of increased bone density are probably more far-reaching than you know. I’m talking about reducing effects of both osteoporosis and arthritis later in life.
I’m sure you’re now sitting there wondering how you do this “hypertrophy” that I speak of. The best way to start is by doing a whole body program using a repetition range of between 6-12. Perform 3-4 sets of roughly 5-8 compound exercises covering each major muscle group (e.g. squat or any multi-joint exercise). It is advised to train a minimum of 3 times per week, but you will also need to monitor your food intake and ensure there is enough protein in your diet to allow for muscle growth. It’s best to employ the services of a fully qualified and experienced personal trainer. They will assist you with program design and teaching you the fundamentals and correct exercise technique. I know a good one, send him an email here 😉
Lets talk about “tone and/or toning”
This is one of my most loathed terms in the whole industry and I let out a very loud groan whenever I hear it. Here is why. In their minds when people say “tone” they are talking about either changing the shape of the muscle or they point to some fat on their body and say “I would like to tone this specific area”. They are actually talking about two different things. The first is increasing the size of the muscle (which we discussed above) and the second part they are talking about is fat loss (aka lose weight).
So the next question is this “would you like to increase your muscle mass, or would you like to reduce your body fat?”
The training for both of these goals isn’t too dissimilar, but it’s more the nutrition side of things that will need to change. So ask yourself which is your goal?
The other part of this convoluted “toning” idea is that lifting a light weight for 15+ repetitions will help “shape” your muscles. It’s just not true, that type of training is for what’s called muscular endurance. This is the ability to perform an exercise over and over again with as little fatigue in the muscle as possible. This method does not increase the size of the muscle. Take a look at a sprinter’s body vs a marathon runner’s body. This shows you how different forms of training produce different results in your body. The distance runner wants to be as light as possible yet capable of the distance required – muscular endurance. The sprinter needs to be able to cover a short distance as quickly as possible. Without going into the difference between the ATP-CP and aerobic energy systems within the body, they are effectively doing different training to achieve their goals.
So which body are you training for? The super thin body with very little muscle, but muscle which can allow you to run massive distances? Or are you after the larger more explosive muscles, which allow you to move quickly for a short time? Or are you training for looks? Well some people may disagree with me on this, but the sprinter looks far more healthy and strong to me.
Lie #5 – You can lose weight rapidly, 10 kg in 4 weeks is easy just use insert product here.
Truth – Sustainable weight loss takes time. Anything more than 0.5 kgs per week is exceptional.
Once again this one comes from weight loss companies trying to sell you something. And equal blame can land on consumers wanting instant gratification and/or results. Everybody wants everything right away. Fat loss takes time and hard consistent work, there is no magic pill or diet. In order to lose that 10kg in a sustainable way I would say its going to take more like 5-6 months. Keeping in mind that some people have more weight to lose than others and may have a more dramatic decline initially.
I mentioned above that one of the best ways to lose body fat is to increase your muscle stores. Muscle is more dense than fat. 1kg of fat takes up more space in your body than 1kg of muscle tissue. So when taking this approach to fat loss the scales aren’t going to give you the whole picture. Because as you burn body fat you will be increasing your muscle tissue as well. When I started training many moons ago I was 72kg with a body fat percentage of around 20%. After a full year of training I still weighed in at 72kg but my body fat percentage was more like 10%. So if judged by my weight alone, it looked like I had made no progress. This is where girth measurements become important in telling your fat loss story.
Girth measurements mean measuring the circumference of a specific part of the body and recording the number. You then take the measurements again after a month or so to compare the results. Another way of doing this which is very easy, is how do you clothes feel against your body. Do they feel less tight? More flowing? That’s a good indicator you’re reducing body fat stores.
So shift your focus from the scales to how your clothes feel. How you look in the mirror. Monthly measurements by the same skilled and accurate trainer will be a far more telling estimate of your achievements so far.
Lie #6 – You can spot reduce body fat, do more sit-ups and crunches if you want a flatter stomach.
Truth – Fat is reduced as a whole, your body chooses where and when it takes it. You have no control over this.
Another one that seems to be stuck into peoples minds is that you can burn fat from a specific area of the body. This isn’t helped by hundreds of fitness magazines claiming that if you do insert exercise here you can target that stubborn fat on your belly. Or saying that in order to reduce that fat layer from under your arms (‘batwings’) you need to do more tricep extensions. Well I’m sorry guys and girls but it’s just not true.
There are no exercises that target specific fat stores on your body. Anyone or anything that tells you otherwise is lying to you, and more likely than not trying to sell you something. Body fat is reduced as a whole. Your body choses where to take it from, there is nothing that can change this or affect this. If there was such a thing in existence you would know about it, it would be all over the news and you would know the now wealthy inventors name.
Don’t just take my word for it, here are two studies from 2011 Southern Illinois University & 2007 University of Connecticut which conclude the same thing – you cannot target fat loss and spot reduction doesn’t occur.
Lie #7 – You need a gym membership to lose weight.
Truth – All you really need is some open space on a floor in your house or some grass in a park.
All the information I have passed on to you in this article is completely free; I believe that people have a right to know how to lose weight. And to also know that its not rocket science! The weight loss waters have just been muddied by people and companies that profit from you remaining overweight and unhappy. Not many personal trainers or fitness professionals will ever tell you what I’m about to say next.
You don’t need to be a member of a gym or own gym equipment to lose weight. You don’t need to really spend any extra money to achieve it either. And better yet in the summary below I’m even going to give you a free program you can do in your own home. Resistance training can come in the form of using your own body weight or general household items. And for HIIT all you really need is a timer, most people have smart phones these days and guess what they have built into them? 😉
Obviously there are benefits to specifically designed equipment and hiring a personal trainer. I may be biased but its always worth looking into or at least doing periodically, so that you can refresh your program and learn the proper exercise techniques. But you don’t need a treadmill, a cross trainer or any cardio equipment . Just yourself some open space and the will to do it.
There will come a point in your at home or park training that you will need an extra push or challenge. Things like monkey bars and benches at playgrounds and parks are great to help build initial strength. This would be when I would advise investing in some basic equipment like thera-bands or adjustable dumbbells or kettle bells. And hey, if you’re up for it maybe look at visiting a gym every now and then to help increase that basic strength.
Lie #8 – I don’t have time and/or I cannot afford a personal trainer .
Truth – If its a priority you will make time, and its not as expensive as you think (if you find the right trainer).
If you’re reading this and thinking “but I don’t have any time to workout or cook my meals”, I need you to take a long hard look at your daily and weekly life. If you don’t have any time in your day and losing weight is a priority for you, then you need to MAKE time. Being busy is an excuse. How much time do you spend watching tv? What time do you get up in the morning, and when do you go to bed at night? How much time do you spend on facebook or the internet?
1 hour out of each day is more than enough time. 1 hour. Most people sleep for about 7-8 hours of their day and work another 8. That leaves 8 hours of extra time each day. Of course, some of this time will be taken up with other things such as commuting, feeding the kids etc. But what this all comes down to is your priorities. If you want to lose weight you will make time. If you want to keep making excuses go nuts, but just know that nothing will change. You will most likely only increase in size. It’s your choice – make the right one now!
Personal training shouldn’t be expensive as long as you find the right trainer. My services cost $50 per 45min session. Or you can attend my group fitness classes for as little as $10. It really comes down to what I was saying above, if you want to do it you will find a way. You will tighten your belt elsewhere. For example, by not eating out every day at lunch you can save up to $60 per week. If you limit your drinking during the week and the weekends you can save potentially $100’s of dollars. Pre-planning your meals for the week and purchasing the ingredients from a local market will save you even more money. Tip: visit the Queen Vic Market on a Sunday afternoon to get some great deals! Chances are as you get fitter and start eating better you will minimise your medical visits as well.
Investing in your health is probably the smartest and most rewarding investment you will ever make. I kinda know what I’m talking about, as I have been through all this myself. Please feel free to read my story here.
Your action plan
- Read the above points, and then stop believing the lies you have been told about weight loss.
- Start tracking everything you eat, eating good healthy whole foods, nothing processed, no sugar and reduce your alcohol intake.
- Start a whole body resistance training program that features some moderate to heavy weight with compound exercise. Minimum 3 days per week.
- Insure the program utilises HIIT for your cardio, not steady state. And make sure its done post resistance training.
- Strongly consider investing in a personal training session at least once a week.
- Consistency is the key here. One salad wont make you skinny, nor will one burger make you fat. Its about making the right choices more regularly than the wrong choices.
- I’m not expecting or asking for perfection, you’re human no doubt living a busy life. Certain events, distractions and challenges are unavoidable. Just make the best choice available to you in that moment.
- Always have a goal you’re working towards. The moment you reach one, set another no matter how big or small. Something as small as “i will attend the gym three times a week for a month” or something a little larger “i would like to have a rippling six-pack”. Whatever it is keep going until you get it.
- The most important step in any journey and arguably the hardest is the very first one you take.
As mentioned above I’m going to provide you with a sample workout you can perform anywhere and at any time, providing you have some open floor and a few basic house held items. It’s quite simple entry-level program that anyone should be able to perform. I’ll endeavor to film some video tips on how to perform each exercise. Until then if you need any assistance perhaps think about booking in for a one-off session with myself.
Leg swings, hip rolls, shoulder circles, trunk rotations, star jumps, high knees, gluteal activations.
Squats – 4 sets of 10 repetitions, rest 30-60 sec
Alternating Lunges – 3 sets of 20 (10 per side) repetitions, rest 30-60 sec
Pushups – 4 sets of 10 repetitions, rest 30-60 sec
Bent over Broom Rows – 4 sets of 10 repetitions, rest 30-60 sec
HIIT – 2x 40:20s of each – Burpee, High Knees, Star Jumps, Mountain Climbers
Core Circuit – Perform 3 times.
Russian Twists x 20 reps
Bridges x 10 reps
Kneeling Supermans x 10 reps
X Body Crunch x 20 reps