Fat is loss is the number one reason why people choose to begin a training program. Decreasing the fat on our bodies can help lead to a better life, not only from a health perspective but also a confidence level. Higher fat has been linked to diabetes and heart attacks, but has also been linked to things like depression. So where do we start with losing fat?
The Three Pillars of Fat Loss
1.) Training- The first rule of fat loss is you must lift weights to maximize results. Say that again to yourself. This is not my opinion or something that I just like to write down, this is a non-negotiable fact of maximizing your fat loss goals. Muscles are metabolically more productive when they are stronger and bigger. What does this mean? It means you burn more calories while watching HGTV if you are stronger.
So how should you attack a strength program? Prioritize big lifts that use a lot of muscle tissue at the beginning of your workouts. Things like cleans, snatches, squats, deadlifts, kettlebell swings, or chin ups come to mind.
- To improve your overall body composition, try to stay in a rep range of 8-15. Once again this is for people looking to drop fat, not necessarily become the world’s strongest person.
- Work fast- don’t confuse this with being an idiot and doing really high rep stuff with no rest, as fast as possible, all while trying to beat a clock, while at the same time trying to set a PR and take a selfie.
- Rest time- keep the rest time between 60-90 seconds. This will allow you to keep the intensity at a good level, and allow you to keep the metabolic purpose in the workout
2.) Nutrition- If lifting weights is the first rule of training, then the first rule of nutrition has to be you cannot out train a poor diet. Actually, I hate the word “diet”, because when people say diet it becomes synonymous with eating less. Eat better not less. One more time, eat better not less. I hate when I see people who give everything they have in a training session only to throw it away on cheesecake and gushers (first two I thought of, I’m not sure why). Let’s throw out some facts and try to unveil some truths about nutrition.
- You’re not as dumb as you think you are. Should you eat great beans or fried okra? Should you drink water or drink a soda? Should you eat pasta with light sauce or load it up with cheese, alfredo sauce and Italian sausage? We all know the answers to these, use your common sense.
- We must be in a caloric deficit to lose fat. Let’s talk more about this one though because I don’t want people to have this mindset of “eat less and workout more= good results”. The less we eat the slower our metabolism will be. For most people, I have had the chance to work with their diets are usually very low protein, high carb, and the fats fall somewhere in the middle. Easy solution here is to sub some of those carbs with some more protein.
- Try your best to slowly make a caloric deficit through exercise, not by eating less.
- Can you take certain things out of your diet? For example, most specialty coffees at Starbucks are over 300 calories. If you drink one Monday through Friday that is an additional 1500 calories a week that are not needed and do no benefit your body.
- When counting calories or counting macros don’t “forget” the small things. Ketchup, salad dressing, mayo, and any other condiments you might add to your food all add up.
Nutrition is far from my expertise, and I know there are people who spend tireless hours studying this stuff just like I study the training aspect, but don’t cancel out your hard work in the gym with a poor diet.
- Write your food down
- Count your macros
- Weigh your food if you need to get an idea of portion size.
3.) Recovery- This is the middle child, the forgotten aspect of training. If I hear one more motivational speech telling people not to sleep because that’s how you “grind” I may have to rip my toes nails off with pliers. First rule of recovery is you must sleep. For most individuals, this is going to fall in the category of 7-9 hours a night. Why? Our bodies recover during this period, this is like asking why not just leave your car running all night? I don’t want to make this too complicated but our nervous system is made up of two responses. Sympathetic (fight or flight) and parasympathetic (recovery). For our bodies to maximize recovery we must get into a parasympathetic state. Lacking the ability to recover can increase blood pressure, make our blood sugar go up and down, and cause our immune systems to get weaker. The easiest way to get into a parasympathetic state is to get rid of stress that you can get rid of, aka let go of the bad stuff in your life. Money stress, may or may not be going anywhere, but if you have a money problem stop spending it on random stuff. Relationship stress, dump that fool and move on, just remember “it’s me, not you.” If you have high stress at night here are a couple of things to do:
- Take a hot shower
- Pet a dog- unless your dog bites then don’t pet a dog
- Get off social media. Yes, that includes snap chat. If you can’t sleep it’s not going to help by flipping through videos of old college friends partying at some rave yelling “YOLO” into the camera.
Conclusion: To maximize fat loss we must address all three pillars. Expecting results while only doing one or two of these things is kind of like wiping your butt before you use the restroom, it just doesn’t make sense.