To most experts and fitness professionals the prescription for fat loss is pretty simple:
“Do more and eat less”
And almost everyone that trains for body transformation purposes at least, tends to believe this. Although this is true to some extent, and the energy balance equation (calories in versus calories out) is correct; this is a prescription for “weight loss” and not “fat loss”. Big difference.
When you lose weight you lose muscle mass, body water, muscle glycogen, and even bone sometimes. During fat loss, you lose fat, just fat.
The “do more and eat less” prescription is a recipe for weight loss, where you’ll inevitably be dropping muscle mass along with your fat. If you take it too far you’ll also be lucky if you don’t end up losing an organ, or two!
Okay, you’ll not be losing an internal organ, but you’ll be sacrificing lean muscle. Muscle that’s important for strength, for function as we get older, and to give our energy systems a machine that it needs to fuel.
This is especially important for those that crash diet to understand; every time you crash diet and drop muscle you’re reducing your bodies need to use calories for fuel, as your muscle machinery is getting smaller. This is what people sometimes refer to as when you’ve messed up your metabolism through years of dieting.
Too much volume in training (i.e., doing more) can lead to excessive fatigue and muscle damage, as well as a drop in motivation. The key when it comes to working out is to be doing the most exercise that you can still recover from. Your calorie and food intake will obviously influence your ability to recover from a workout. Another reason why doing more exercise and eating less food all at once is a bad recommendation.
How do you know how much exercise you need to be doing, or how much less food you need to be eating? You don’t, you’re just guessing based on a few recommendations, and what’s worse is that you’re doing it all at once.
So let’s just assume that nobody reading this wants to be losing any hard earned muscle, so we’ll forget about the recommendation to “do more and eat less”.
Here’s what you should do
The key is to take baby steps. This might sound to you like a frustrating answer, since we live in a world where everybody wants a quick and instant solution. But just remember the key to long-term body transformation is making sure the plan is sustainable. Sorry to sound so boring, but that’s the truth. Body transformation is definitely a marathon and not a sprint, meaning you’ve got a lot of time to adjust things as you go along. Most people fail somewhere around the first few miles, or towards mile 20 when it comes to body transformation. This is how you ensure you cross the finish line at mile 26 and still be running, if you really wanted to.
Step 1: Find your baseline body composition (fat mass and lean mass).
Step 2: Either do more OR eat less.
Step 3: Revaluate your body composition and gauge your progress. Are you happy with the rate of progress?
Step 4: No? then repeat Step 1 again. Yes? Then keep doing what you’re doing. Weight loss too fast? You’re losing fat so back down the exercise or increase the food a little.
Step 5: Repeat the process, making micro adjustments week by week.
Forget about doing it all at once; take baby steps, be strategic, and make the smallest adjustments you can get away with. Use this system and you’ll be sure to hit your fat loss targets, whether you’ve got a way to go with it, or trying to get cover shoot lean. This simple system will get you over that finishing line.