One of the hardest body battles many face is shedding fat. Millions of people every year embark upon fad diets, extreme exercise regimes and even resort to over the counter weight loss pills. Unfortunately, the majority of these options won’t work as a sustainable measure.
But why is this? Some people may see great initial results from fad diets, but the weight often rapidly rebounds and leaves them back at square one.
Part of the reasoning behind this is simple biology: once fat cells are created by the body, they stay there forever. They can be depleted through a calorie deficit, but if you return to your old ways then the body uses these fat cells to store energy causing you to gain all that weight back quickly.
However, it’s not all doom and gloom. You’ll be pleased to hear it is possible to lose fat and keep it off for good. But it requires lifestyle changes, dedication and of course, patience. As I frequently say – but it can never hurt to reiterate – this is a marathon, not a race.
What is fat?
First of all, let’s take a look at exactly what fat is.
Fat, also called adipose tissue, is found in many places around the body. Some fat is located around the organs, but the vast majority – and the part most want to lose – is located is underneath your skin. This is called subcutaneous fat.
Men vs. Women
The amount of fat you hold, and the places you tend to hold it in differs depending on whether you’re male or female. Men tend to hold more fat around the chest, abdomen and buttocks, whereas women tend to hold fat in the breasts, hips, waist and buttocks.
Most people will have heard of insulin. Many diabetic people all around the world regularly take insulin to regulate their blood sugar and keep them healthy. But what does it do, and why is it so important to consider when trying to lose fat?
Insulin is an essential hormone that the body uses to regulate blood sugar, but it also causes the fat cells in your body to store excess calories. This is obviously something best avoided when dieting. Luckily there are a few easy steps to help you with this
1. Eat low GI carbohydrates such as brown rice and oats, instead of high GI carbohydrates such as white bread, white rice or sugar.
2. If eating high GI carbs, try to limit them to before or after a workout, and combine them with a protein rich food such as chicken or a whey protein supplement.
3. Consider sugar free alternatives to your soft drinks, or ideally drink water instead.
The reasoning for favouring low GI carbs is because they cause a lower insulin spike than their high GI counterparts. They also release energy gradually, causing more stable, less fat storing insulin levels.
But how do I actually lose the fat?
Now we’ve covered how to avoid putting it on, you need to learn how to get rid of any excess fat.
Don’t be afraid of dietary fat
Many products are now marketed towards people trying to lose weight with promises of low fat content to help shed pounds. However, moderation is key, and a diet totally free from fat will be counterproductive to weight loss.
Dietary fat is essential for regulation of hormone levels such as testosterone and oestrogen – if enough fat is not consumed in your diet, you will feel lethargic, generally unwell, and will likely retain excess fat and water. Try to aim for at least 50g of fats from healthy sources per day, such as nuts and olive oils.
Don’t starve yourself
It is a common misconception that drastically reducing the calories you take in is a great way to quickly lose weight. Whilst this works in the short term, it is very a dangerous and unsustainable way of dieting.
If calories are reduced too low too quickly, the body will enter what we commonly call ‘starvation mode’, where it holds on to as many calories as it can to burn for energy when it needs them. These calories are of course stored in our fat cells.
Instead of starving yourself, aim for 500 calories under your daily maintenance. The weight loss will be slow, but over the course of a couple of months the difference will be hugely noticeable, and you are far more likely to keep the weight off for good. This is by far the best method for weight loss, and one that I have seen so many have amazing success with.
Finally, keep yourself as active as possible. If you have an active job, this will be far easier for you than those who have a desk job and burn very few of their calories off.
Try to add in some high intensity cardio for 15 to 30 minutes a day, or consider fasted cardio on a morning to force the body to use fat reserves to fuel the workout. Weights are also an amazing calorie burner, if you can maintain a high intensity, low rest style of lifting.
In conclusion, if you’re serious about losing fat and keeping it off for good, you need to prepare for a long journey. It requires a lifestyle change that many people would rather avoid, instead turning to dangerous and expensive fad diets. Remember that transforming your body takes patience, but in the end the results are always worth the wait.