After writing my last blog '5 Things To Avoid For Fat Loss' I got a lot of feedback asking for a blog on how to aid fat loss. Firstly, I just want to explain the difference between weight loss and fat loss so we're on the same page.
Weight loss= This is what people think they want when they start exercising and eating better. However, weight refers to a number of elements within the body that add up to your total 'weight'. Your bones, organs, muscles, fat, skin etc. all have a weight value so simply saying you want to 'lose weight' isn't representative. Fat loss = This is what you actually mean when you say you want to 'lose weight'. Fat loss (along with muscle gain) is what changes the shape and composition of your body. This refers to losing actual fat rather than just losing water weight, bone density or muscle mass.
I hope this has given you an 'ah-ha' moment but if it hasn't please feel free to message me if you are still unsure about the difference between weight loss and fat loss and I will be happy to explain further because I believe this is a crucial mindset shift when it comes to understanding fat loss. I'm a bit of a nerd and realised I could go much further into detail and get all science-y on your as$ so have decided I might write a blog dedicated purely to fat (what it is, different kinds of fat etc.) so you can understand it a little better :) Please leave me a comment on my Instagram or below this blog if you would like to see a blog specifically about fat.
Anyway, 5 things to aid fat loss! Here it is!
1. ENERGY IN vs. ENERGY OUT
Let me be honest with you here, I get really nervous talking about calories and macros etc. because it really isn't what I stand for and I myself don't count calories/track my macros. Instead I'm all about listening to my body and intuitive eating...however, that being said, I appreciate that perhaps for some people the kickstart they need for fat loss is a basic understanding when it comes to the science of it. So here it is:
BMR= Basal metabolic rate (this is the amount of energy you burn by just being alive. Breathing, digesting, sleeping etc. all burns calories so before even thinking about how many calories you need to be eating in a day, you have to take your BMR into account)
TDEE=Total daily energy expenditure (this is the amount of calories you burn daily through activity and exercise. E.g. walking to work, taking a class, standing/sitting at your job etc).
Calories in > calories out = weight gain
Calories in < calories out = weight loss
Calories in = calories out = weight maintenance
Basically, if you consume more energy than you expend you will gain weight and visa versa. However, this is just a surface level basic understanding. It is not just guess work when it comes to working out what your calorie intake should be and each person will be totally different (and this is even before breaking it down into macros). Also, please remember that other things can influence fat and weight gain/loss including but not limited to hormonal fluctuation or imbalances, certain illnesses and health conditions, stress, sleep quality, genetics, time of the month, hydration levels and so on.
A sensible, safe and maintainable loss is 1-2lbs (0.5-1kg) a week, which will mean you would need to be in a calorie deficit of around 500-1000cals a day (this varies for everyone) as a 3500cal deficit over a week equates roughly to a 1lb loss. If you lose weight much faster than this there is a much higher chance that you will just put the weight (and more) back on so although it is tempting to lose as much weight as you can, as quickly as you can, it is not advisable for a healthy lifestyle. Please never undergo a serious calorie deficit without the guidance of a health professional as if not done properly it can be damaging to your longterm mental and physical health whilst also being counter productive to your goals.
There's no two ways about it. For a healthy and sustainable fat (not just weight) loss, you've got to move your body. I know this sounds simple and obvious to some but I wanted to clarify it for those that it may not be so obvious to. 'Good' nutrition alone will not always result in fat loss (yes, it will make you lose weight because you're eating less, but it won't necessarily change the composition of your body which is generally what my clients tell me they actually want once we dig into it). So yeah, you've got to move ya booty.
Now I know you don't want to hear this but there is no magical style of exercise for fat loss. Sorry! There is no single exercise you can do to lose fat in a certain area (this is called spot reduction and I'm afraid it's a myth). There is also no single 'right way' to exercise for fat loss so I encourage you to do something you enjoy! However, here is what I do recommend for optimal health and fitness when it comes to fat loss. I advocate a mixture of cardiovascular and resistance training as each have their own unique benefits but are more effective when used in conjunction.
Cardio: - Improves your cardiovascular health (makes your heart and lungs stronger for now and when you're older)
- Reduced risk of heart disease and other serious illnesses
- Supports fat loss
- Releases endorphins (happy hormones)
- Improves and increases bone density (which reduces the risk of osteoporosis and similar bone issues when you're older)
- Supports the body and reduces risk of injury from everyday activities
- Builds lean muscle which creates shape and definition in the body
- Makes you feel like an absolute boss
By combining these two elements of training you will feel faster, fitter, stronger, healthier and just all round amazing. Ultimately, the best way to exercise for fat loss is by doing something you enjoy as you are far more likely to stick to it and maintain it as part of your lifestyle. Find what suits you and mix it up to keep it interesting and fun! And of course, ensure you support whatever exercise you choose with an appropriate recovery programme. This involves stretching, foam rolling, rest, appropriate nutrition and if it is within budget, the occasional sports massage. Please remember rest is equally as important as the exercising itself as this is where your body processes the work you have done to manifest the results. No rest=no results. However, you can't out train a bad diet which leads me to my next point...
3. NUTRITION KNOWLEDGE
Knowledge really is power. How can we fuel our bodies appropriately and effectively is we simply have no clue about what we are feeding it? As I mentioned in my previous blog it's not just as simple as calories in vs. calories out. Whilst, yes, if you eat fewer calories than you expend you will lose weight, it doesn't mean you are losing fat and this doesn't make it a healthy weight loss. Not all calories are created equally! Let's take this as an example:
You have worked out that you want to consume 1900cals a day which will result in a weight loss. You could a). eat 1900cals of junk food or b). eat 1900cals of nourishing whole foods. Whilst both will technically result in a weight loss if you choose to eat 1900cals of junk food you will most likely feel like utter rubbish. You will feel lethargic, groggy, bloated, dehydrated, your skin might break out and even though you might be losing weight, you are probably doing a lot of harm to your insides and increasing your chances of serious medical conditions such as diabetes, heart conditions etc. However, if you choose to eat 1900cals of nourishing whole foods you will most likely feel full of energy, more satisfied, lighter, happier, less bloated, 'healthier' in general and even sleep better. This is because these foods are nutrient dense and giving your body the vitamins and minerals that it needs to function effectively and efficiently. So it's not just about how much you eat, it's also about what you eat. We've all heard the saying 'you are what you eat' and I really do believe that is true to a certain extent. If you eat processed junk food you will feel rubbish but if you eat nutrient rich food you will feel awesome!
'But how do I know which foods are more nourishing for my body?' I hear you say. That's where nutrition knowledge comes in. My best advice would be learn how to read labels and packaging so you can at least understand what is actually in a product. Personally I don't like to label food as 'good' or 'bad' because I don't think there is such a thing. I do however think certain foods have more nutritional value to our bodies than others, but ultimately all foods can be enjoyed in moderation. If you are serious about supporting your health through nutrition then I highly recommend getting Rhiannon Lambert's book 'ReNourish'. She is a qualified and registered Nutritionist (you might already follow her on Instagram @rhitrition) and I have included a link at the bottom of this page where you can buy her book :) It's fab and a must read for everyone whether you are on a fat loss journey or not.
4. MINDFUL EATING These days we are so used to having 24/7 immediate access to food and drink at the touch of a button and personally I believe this is causing an override to our hunger signals. We eat for the sake of eating because 'its there' rather than actually listening to our body and understanding what hungry actually feels like (by the way I'm totally guilty of doing this from time to time as well because I'm human). I think overall we need to raise the awareness of what we are putting into our bodies because what we put into our bodies goes into our cells and becomes us.
One way of increasing this awareness is through tracking macros (macronutrients: carbs, protein and fats). Personally this is not something I do (although I have done in the past) but to be honest I find it too time consuming and just a bit of a ball ache. But that being said if you find this a useful tool for raising your awareness and helpful to assisting you in your journey to becoming happier and healthier, then go for it gal. Another way to raise awareness is something I mentioned in tip 3; learning to read labels. By having an understanding of what you are consuming you will become more aware of what you are actually putting into your body and be able to understand how this will affect how you feel and your health. For example, what portion size are you eating? Are you eating the recommended portion size, or 3 times that? Are you aware of any 'hidden' or 'empty' calories in a product? (I'm looking at you fizzy drinks). Are there ingredients in there that you can't even pronounce? (I go by a rule that if I can't pronounce it, I don't eat it because if I don't know what it is how is my body supposed to recognise it?)
I've had clients that say they don't eat much throughout the day and then wonder why they get bad headaches. Equally I've had clients that don't understand why they aren't seeing changes in their body and are feeling like crap all the time, when in actual fact, they are out eating and drinking alcohol every other night of the week. This is down to a lack of awareness of what they are actually eating. Mindful and conscious eating isn't something that just happens overnight, it's a skill. So here are some tips to encourage mindful and conscious eating:
- Eat at the dinner table rather than on the sofa/on your lap
- Avoid screens whilst eating (focus on the food on your plate rather than watching tv or scrolling Instagram)
- Actually taste the food you are eating. What flavours can you taste? What are the textures?
- Properly chew your food (this promotes proper digestion)
- Avoid rushing your meals
- Create balance through your food habits so you don't binge at weekends
Ultimately, remember you can't out train a bad diet and what you eat now will effect your health in the long term. When you love yourself enough you will want to nourish your body.
5. LISTEN TO YOUR BODY If you are tired, rest. If you are hungry, eat. If you are thirsty, drink. You get the gist...
Build your self-awareness by tuning into how you actually feel. Notice when you feel hungry. Notice when you feel too exhausted to train. Notice when you're body is trying to tell you something. And on from this, actually do what you body is telling you! It's no use listening to your body telling you 'I have a headache' and then doing nothing about it, drink some bloody water!
By listening to your body, you will realise there is a purpose for everything you do rather than just winging it or doing something a certain way at a certain time with a certain brand just because that's what Instagram says. At the end of the day everyone's body is completely different and no fat loss journey will look the same. What works for one person, may not work for another. What takes one person a month to achieve, might take another 6 months to achieve. What worked for you before, may not work for you now.
So remember, be kind to yourself, be patient and learn what works for you.
I hope you found this blog useful, if you did then I would love it if you could share it with a friend so we can get the message out there and help as many people as possible. I understand that a fat loss journey can be frustrating but just know it is normal to want to give up at some point during your journey. Don't. THE TIME WILL PASS ANYWAY. Keep going. Stay strong. And enjoy the process!