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An A-Z of fat loss…
A is for Adherence
It seems rather poignant to kick off our A-Z of fat loss with perhaps the most important facet to any fat loss endeavour: Adherence.
Research has shown time and time again that the number one indicator of fat loss success is adherence; whether that individual can sustain, and stick to, the fat loss protocol they’re undertaking.
Whatever fat loss method you choose, make sure it’s something you can stick to. Not something you can just about cling to for six weeks, or even six months.
In order to avoid ‘dietary fatigue’, you need to pursue a nutrition and training approach you can follow for six years, or even for the rest of your life.
The quicker you can grasp that changes need to be made for the long-term, and not just until this diet has ‘finished’, the better chance you’ll give yourself of not only losing body fat but keeping it off as well.
Ensuring you enjoy what you’re doing, it fits in with your preferences and schedule, you’re implementing nutritional periodisation techniques, and you’re seeing results will enhance your chances of success.
So, the next time you have a decision to make, habit to master, or fat loss plan you decide to attempt, just stop, and ask yourself the question: ‘Can I see myself sticking to this plan for the long-term’?
B is for Boredom
Are you boring? I hope so.
Not in the ‘bed by 9pm, watching Countryfile, monotonous storytelling kind of boring’ but the same routine, consistency, and discipline kind of boring.
You see, fat loss rewards the tedious.
Sometimes the same foods, at the same times, in the same amounts, can work wonders. Just ask anyone who’s super lean – very rarely do they change their routine.
Mapping out your diet and foods for each day, just once, takes the thinking out of everything on a day to day basis, so you can spend more time preparing and eating those meals consistently.
Fat loss can be a long, arduous, repetitive, boring, endeavour. There won’t be many highs and there won’t be many lows.
The problems start to arise when people don’t experience these highs or lows; they think something is wrong.
What do they then do? Give up.
So, this is me warning you: If you decide to embark on, and succeed with, your very own fat loss expedition, don’t expect your journey to be anything but repetitive and laborious.
C is for Calories
Whether you track them, ignore them, get them from just protein and fats, or pretend they’re tiny creatures that live under your bed and sew your clothes a little bit tighter every night, calories count.
The ‘calories in vs calories out’ equation essentially means that the energy going into your body minus the energy that comes out will equal a change in the body’s energy stores.
It’s a law. You can’t argue with it. So don’t.
Whatever dieting approach you assume – whether it’s the ketogenic diet, intermittent fasting, low fat, or paleo – you’re still adhering to the ‘CICO’ rule.
You don’t have to count them, scrutinise them, or even care about them, but you’re still going to be following this particular law of thermodynamics, whether you like it or not.
There are many additional factors that must be considered, but the laws of thermodynamics (the effects of work, heat, and energy) state that a calorie deficit is necessary for fat loss to occur.
If your number one goal is to lose body fat, the amount of energy entering your body needs to be less than the energy going out.
D is for Detox
‘Detoxing’ is BS. Well, in the modern, money-making sense of the word; detoxification is real, just not the in the way many would like to believe.
Many are convinced we need to ‘de’ from some form of ‘tox’. The hundreds of gurus lurking behind their keyboards believe we’re inundated with harmful levels of ‘toxins’ that are engulfing our lives and ruining our health.
Unfortunately for those money-grabbing juice cleanse companies, there is literally NO evidence to suggest our bodies are subjected to an onslaught of toxins, and furthermore, that we are actually being harmed by these chemicals at all.
What’s more, there is not one clinical study showing that any currently available detox diet or treatment successfully removes these toxins.
And hey, if we did need to rid ourselves of these ‘damaging’ chemicals, we’ve got the trusty – and most importantly, free – liver, kidney, and digestive systems to help with that.
Detoxing is sexy. It’s short, it’s meant to ‘kick-start’ weight loss, and it’s conveyed as a healthy jolt to your newfound pure life.
While I’m not denying there are toxins out there, I’m just not convinced the latest kale, ginger, and wild blueberry concoction you have to create is going to un-poison, and save, you.
The whole detox industry is built on nothing but an ever-melting foundation of BS, and I’d much rather you saved your money and spent it on, say a healthy meal, than the latest juicer you need to purchase for £99.99.
E is for the Eighty/Twenty Rule
While quantity, and therefore energy balance, is the overarching factor pertaining to successful fat loss, it’s important to note that quality also matters.
While the ‘if it fits your macros’ concept is a nice mantra to follow, unfortunately, it isn’t that easy. Just eating whatever you want seldom works. For two main reasons:
Consuming a diet of just hyper-palatable foods (all those irresistible foods) causes you to eat more. The Bliss Point (the optimum makeup of sugar, salt, and fat in certain foods) will not only trigger overeating but will mean it’s harder to stay satiated and subsequently hit your macro targets.
Your body still requires healthy, nutritious foods to function properly, and while the idea of eating whatever you want to win at fat loss seems appealing, your body won’t take too kindly to being ploughed with ‘unhealthy’ foods when it struggles to work effectively.
The trick, therefore, is to strive for somewhere in between the two. Adhering to the ‘80/20 Rule’ is a good starting point for most people.
F is for Fasting
Intermittent fasting (IF) seems to be the rage these days. I mean, we all usually fast from 10pm-8am, but some people decided to go one step further, add a sexy name to it, increase the window of not eating, and call it the ‘next best thing’ for fat loss.
There is a plethora of intermittent fasting options: alternate day fasting, meal-skipping, eat stop eat, and leangains, to name but a few. And the supposed benefits of fasting are seemingly endless: reduced blood lipids, reduced markers of inflammation, increased growth hormone release, improved appetite control, and improved blood sugar control.
But is everything all it’s made up to be?
Not only is the research wildly inconclusive, but there’s still open debate as to whether simply eating fewer calories than you burn and minimising the amount of processed foods you eat will offer most of the same benefits as IF.
Having said that, I’m a big fan, for some people, of intermittent fasting. It reduces the amount of time people have to think about food and, as I always say, it’s easier to say no to food in the morning than it is during that 3/4pm lull in the afternoon.
There’s nothing inherently magical about intermittent fasting – there’s no special rule it creates – it simply helps people reduce their calorie intake which will create fat loss.
G is for Goals
Mainly because they’re so big and seemingly impossible that you end up doing nothing but stare into the abyss wondering how the hell you’re going to get started.
Not only that but you as soon as you need to adjust things, or introduce new steps into your plan, you feel like you’ve reached the end, but because you haven’t completed your task, you feel like a failure.
When most people set themselves goals it’s often about the outcome. ‘I want a six-pack in six weeks’. ‘I want to lose 10 kilograms’. ‘I want to weigh what I did when I lost my virginity’.
While outcome goals can be useful, these numerical or quantitative targets aren’t as motivating as they appear to be. Nor are they exclusively within your control.
Setting outcome goals often compounds the feelings of failure you experience when you fail to reach your target.
The people who successfully achieve their goals are more in sync with process goals. Process goals focus on the behaviours that generally lead to your outcome goal. These are the little things you do have control over and are the little targets that all add up to create your bigger goal.
These goals are easier to achieve, smaller to break down, and within her control. Start focusing on the process, not necessarily the end goal, and you’ll start to find yourself living a leaner lifestyle.
H is for Habits
Habits are the small decisions you make and actions you perform every day. Your life – and in this case, body shape – is the sum of all your habits.
What you repeatedly do (i.e. what you spend time thinking about and the behaviours you consistently execute) ultimately forms the person you are, the things you believe, and the way you look.
Most people aiming to win at fat loss rely on willpower and motivation. This, however, is a flawed approach.
The more you have to concentrate on enduring the ordeals of the new ‘diet’ you’ve undertaken, the greater chance you have of failing. This is why cleanses, juicing, four-week crash diets, and unsustainable eating patterns seldom work.
As much as we like to think we can outsmart ourselves when it comes to refraining from reaching for the biscuit tin, we just can’t. Relying solely on self-restraint to get through life won’t conquer bad eating behaviours.
The answer, therefore, is to perfect your habits.
I is for Insulin
Let’s get all sciencey for a moment:
Insulin is a hormone that increases when blood glucose rises and acts to reduce blood sugar by putting it into cells and increasing its usage.
It is known as an ‘anabolic’ or storage hormone and, once insulin is in the blood, it transports carbohydrates, amino acids, and blood fats into the cells of the body.
If these nutrients are shuttled primarily into muscle cells, then the muscles grow and body fat is managed. If these nutrients are shuttled primarily into fat cells, then muscle mass is unchanged and body fat is increased.
Insulin possesses a phenomenon known as ‘insulin sensitivity’. The more insulin sensitivity you have, the less overall insulin you need to exert the same effect.
It seems logical to assume, therefore, that as carbohydrate and sugar consumption spike insulin release, and as insulin’s job is to help store nutrients, these two are the sole driver of fat gain. That insulin simply ‘shuts down’ fat burning.
But wait, not so fast: Insulin is not good or bad. Insulin is insulin.
It’s been found in numerous studies that fat gain is probably from added overall calorie intake, not any special properties in carbohydrate or sugar.
Add to that, protein can also spike insulin, it’s safe to conclude it isn’t necessarily ‘bad’.
It has certain roles to play within the body and while some may want to utilise its effects, others may not see much benefit.
Stop fearing insulin as your reason for weight gain.
J is for Journal
A food journal is your not-so-secret secret recipe to success.
No matter how clever or how good at weighing things with the trickery of your brain you believe you are, you’re just not that good at guessing not only the weight and size of food portions but also their calorie content.
It’s been shown on numerous occasions that people suck at reporting their calorie intake.
This can result in more calories being consumed, subsequently less fat loss, and the infamous saying ‘I’m only eating 1200 calories a day and not losing weight!’
Accurately tracking your food intake will give you a greater understanding of the quantity, and quality of food, you are consuming.
Recording everything you eat is not something you need to do for the rest of your life, but is an essential task to undertake at the beginning of your journey. Without it, you’re simply guessing.
It’s important that when tracking your food, you’re not guessing, you’re still entering what you have at the weekends, and you’re as accurate as possible with weights and quantities.
K is for Kitchen
We’re not expecting you to get all Michelin star on us, but learning how to utilise the benefits of your own kitchen is an enormously underrated skill. Especially when it comes to maximising fat loss results.
Learning how to follow a recipe, utilise a variety of ingredients, and produce a hearty meal that hasn’t just been stuck in the microwave for four minutes, will quickly diminish any bad and damaging eating habits you boast.
Studying the fundamentals of cooking will not only open your mind to the fact that eating ‘healthy’ doesn’t have to be mind-numbingly boring, but will make you more self-sufficient at other areas in your life.
The lure of a cheap and convenient takeaway won’t be as tempting either.
Cooking opens up your world to infinite possibilities in taste and satisfaction, and will inadvertently help escalate those fat loss results.
Buy a straightforward recipe book, carve out some dedicated time to cook a nutritious meal, follow the recipe, keep it simple, and keep practicing.
L for Loopholes
We’re all susceptible to mindset fallacies. The arguments, explanations, and reasons you prescribe yourself to justify behaviours you know you shouldn’t really be engaging in.
You see, your mind has this uncanny ability to convince yourself of things that just aren’t true.
These inaccurate thoughts assure you your actions are rational; however, they’re only really serving to keep you from feeling bad about yourself.
These distortions, or fallacies, cause you to perceive reality erroneously. That whatever you’re doing isn’t too bad, or it’s not that unusual, or things will work out in the end.
The Moral Licensing Loophole
Have you ever whispered these words to yourself: ‘After the stressful day I’ve had I deserve a nice glass of wine with dinner’ or ‘I’ve helped a lot of people this week so I deserve to treat myself this time’?
Falling for this ‘moral licensing’ mindset fallacy means we permit ourselves to do something ‘bad’ because we’ve been ‘good’.
We reason that we earned or deserve something following a particular action, or that a ‘good’ behaviour has offset a ‘bad’ behaviour.
Before you indulge in a particular food or activity that you think you’ve ‘earned’, ask yourself whether this new behaviour will get you closer to your goal or further away from it, rather than trying to rationalise it.
The ‘I’ll Start Tomorrow Fallacy’
You’ll start soon right? ‘I’ve got a big meal out with friends today, so I’ll start my diet tomorrow’
The ‘I’ll start tomorrow’ mindset is the belief that now doesn’t matter because you’re going start following better habits later.
People use this fat loss mindset fallacy to justify poor decisions; as if tomorrow is going to be a magical day when the clouds are going to align, everything is going to fall into place and eating, exercising, and living a healthy lifestyle is somehow going to become a lot easier.
Unfortunately, your body doesn’t know the difference between a Sunday and a Monday, nor does it know the difference between you being supposedly ‘good’ and ‘bad’.
Avoid the mentality of assuming the right time will come. It won’t.
M is for Macronutrients
‘Macros’ are short for ‘macronutrients’ and are essentially a type of food. There are three main macronutrients: Protein, Fat and Carbohydrates.
Protein is perhaps the most essential macronutrient and is vital in helping to build and preserve muscle mass. No wonder you keep hearing every fitpro incessantly bang on about protein.
Due to its slower digestive rate than other macronutrients, protein can also help to control appetite, curb cravings and will probably burn more calories through the digestion process than any of the other macronutrients.
The best sources of protein include red meat, poultry, fish, eggs, Greek yoghurt, whey protein, legumes, cottage cheese etc
Fats, albeit recently much-maligned, can assist in vitamin absorption, hormone regulation, brain function, a stronger immune system, stronger bones and many more.
They’re far more important than given credit for and should certainly not be shunned from your diet.
Unrefined animal fats, fatty fish, nuts and oils are examples of good sources.
Carbohydrates are the body’s main energy source and serve as a direct fuel supply during daily activities that require energy. They are essential for the body and brain to function at optimal capacity.
Carbohydrates seem to be the first thing people cut out when looking to lose body fat, but this central macronutrient can play just as an important role in fat loss as all the others.
Fruit, vegetables, grains, sweet potato, rice, quinoa are examples of good sources of carbohydrates.
How To Win At Fat Loss
Download my FREE eBook on How To Win At Fat Loss and you’ll learn…
- Why everyone usually fails when it comes to trying to shed body fat
- Why you should be lifting weights
- Why calories are so important
- Why weighing yourself is a no-no
- Why mastering nutritional habits are the key to success
All so you can…
- Finally stop failing and start winning at fat loss
- Finally shed inches, drop dress sizes, and actually see a change for once
- Finally transform your body and mind so you’re not constantly battling those dieting demons
- Finally figure out how to lose the fat, keep it off, and flaunt the figure you’ve always dreamt of displaying