Small Rant on Fat Loss
We all know that in order to burn body fat, we have to provide some sort of caloric deficit (calories in must be less than calories out) to do so. Despite what many people claim, they are not the lone exception in all of human history that defies the laws of thermodynamics. As I have stated before, “you’re not that special.” I often find it comical when someone will just assume that their lack of progress (as far as fat loss) is due to a “buggy” thyroid, when in fact, a closer look at their daily diet and/or activity level tells us a completely different story.
A few quick thoughts:
1. It stands to reason that you have probably heard or seen the mantra that in order to lose a lb of fat per week, you must provide a caloric deficit of 500 kcals per day. The rationale is that because one pound of fat equates to roughly a 3500 kcal surplus, reducing your caloric intake and/or increasing your caloric expenditure by 500 kcal per day will result in one pound of fat loss per week. Let it be known that I HATE this approach (for a plethora of reasons that I won’t get into here), but for the sake of argument I will use it since this is what most people are familiar with.
How do most people try to pull off a 500 calorie deficit? If you’re like me, you wrestle polar bears for fun or fight global warming by washing your clothes on your abs (you know, cause it saves water). Since everyone can’t be me, lets assume that most (read: not all) trainees will revert to copious amounts of steady state cardio. How long do you think it would take you to burn 500 calories walking/jogging on a treadmill? For most it will take anywhere from 45-60 minutes. From a time efficiency standpoint, that doesn’t make much sense. We could spend an hour on the treadmill everyday OR we could just not eat that piece of homemade apple pie or that bowl of cereal that has been calling our name. Either way we provide a 500 calorie deficit, however from a time efficiency standpoint, not eating the piece of pie or bowl of cereal makes much more sense.
2. I can’t stress enough how important one’s overall nutrition is in regards to fat loss. As I have stated on numerous occasions, you can’t out train a poor diet. However, if I had to choose, in the beginning, I’d much rather see trainees increase their activity level through exercise to provide a caloric deficit (preferably lifting weights) than reduce their caloric intake to levels that would make Keira Knightely think you’re crazy.
In a nutshell, exercise (again, preferably lifting weights) is a metabolism booster, while continually reducing calories for an extended period of time is a metabolism killer. Many trainees make the mistake of reducing calories too low for too long and then are perplexed why they haven’t made any progress for weeks on end.