Achievable fat loss... in the real world.
As I move closer towards turning 36 I will have been weight training for 24 years. It makes me think retrospectively about how much I've learnt over the years with regards to training and nutrition. I look back to the 'wasted' years where I was training for 'fun' and wished I knew then what I know now. How much further could I have progressed? The thing is, I'm looking at this from an athlete's perspective. I've competed in natural bodybuilding to a world final standard for over a decade and it can take the fun out of training and eating. The rules that I live by, and the way I manipulate food is inconceivable for most normal people, which made me think about what is really important to succeed in fat loss.
I have a training company where I'm qualified to teach people how to be a personal trainer or fitness instructor. Arrogantly, I've scoffed at the content of the course as it is very basic and have always thought it doesn't teach you very much. But this is my point. If you actually absorb the information the real answer presents itself and it is incredibly simple. The problem that we're faced with is that there is so much information out there that most people are so confused that they feel like a rabbit in headlights when it comes to how to go about dieting. Don't get me wrong, I love the rocket science, and I can bore the life out of you for hours discussing the pros and cons of a multitude of diets or training approaches, but, how much does it matter to the average person?
I recently listened to a lecture that was explaining the importance of a person's acid base balance on hypertrophy and mitochondrial adaptation. For anyone suffering from insomnia I recommend it. However, once the lecture was concluded the take home message was eat plenty of vegetables and everything will be fine. This prompted me to write down what I believe is actually important, what works, and what is irrelevant.
Case study one: - A person is not obese but has a high body fat - high fat to lean muscle ratio; i.e. Thin fat. Relatively sedentary in their job and doesn't really exercise. Diet is sporadic through the day mainly relying on whatever you can get your hands on quickly i.e. coffee and croissant or sandwich and crisps. You are unfit, lacking in energy and steadily gaining weight year on year.
How to fix this: - Have 3-4 feeds per day to raise your metabolism. Eat whole foods and try to incorporate some protein and vegetables in each meal. Stop buying convenience foods and prepare your own meals. Switch out most refined sugars and carbs for fruit and vegetables. Have oily fish 2-3 times per week. Control intake of starchy carbs to smaller portions and try to consume them near to or after exercise. Exercise at least three times per week using resistance training and high intensity cardio. Work hard enough that you're tired. Increase calories if you're still hungry and not gaining body fat. This will increase lean muscle mass and depending on calories will reduce body fat.
Case study two: - A person is largely obese and heavy set. You have a high calorie intake as you're probably over consuming and eating junk and comfort foods. You leave long gaps between meals then gorge when you do eat. You have a sedentary lifestyle and maybe the start of metabolic illness and joint pain. You'll have poor insulin sensitivity and very low fitness.
How to fix this: - Limit starchy carbs and refined sugars in place of protein, quality fats, and vegetable meals. Eat little and often. Get moving at every opportunity. Find a level of exercise you can do, and week on week try to do a little more until you're able to train hard. When you can train hard you can bring some starchy carbs back in. This will improve insulin sensitivity and will start to let your body burn some fat. You have a long road of fat burning. Try to do something 5-7days a week and even twice a day i.e. walking fast and gym work.
Case study three: - A person is lean and very slightly muscled. You eat 'healthily' and train often but you struggle to put weight on. You are quite weak but fitness levels are good. You don't have much appetite and possibly suffer from poor sleep.
How to fix this: - You need to increase your frequency and volume of your feeds. Look to eat 4-6 times per day with protein and complex carbs in each meal. Have quality fats too but load these more at the start and end of the day to support hormonal fluctuations. If you struggle with volume of food look to reduce vegetable servings and increase calorie dense foods like rice, pasta, and red meat. Use protein supplements to augment your calorie increase. Train heavily as possible with weights 3-5 times per week and train intensely. Limit or stop cv work unless you're gaining body fat too quickly.
None of this is complicated. Most individuals fit loosely into these categories. The key is consistency. Your body takes 3-4 weeks of doing the same thing to show and change. If you do it for a week or two and decide it doesn't work, it won't work. If you don't really adhere to it, won't work either. I believe we can all do this, and I believe that this is not that hard, it just takes strength and the will to carry on.
If you would like a more personalised approach, nutrition and training advice or coaching you can contact me on Ali@FatAlsGym.co.uk