14 March 2008 ~ 2 Comments

Fat Loss

You type this term into Google and return over 6 million results. You don’t have time to devour all of that information, and I bet 90% of it says the same thing in a different way. However, I am going to cipher through the BS and tell you what you need to know to lose fat, not just weight.


There is only one way to lose weight, calories in have to be less than calories burned. You are just wasting your time if you spend hours in the gym and keep your eating habits absurd. The best way to determine what your diet should be like is to find your basil metabolic rate . That tells you how many calories that you need to eat to stay at the same weight.

Once you figure out what that is, decide how much weight you want to lose a week. For me, I wanted to lose very little weight a week to improve my chances of holding on to most of my muscle. So I decided to do 500 calories below my basil metabolic rate. Since there are 3500 calories in a pound, that would average out to me losing a pound a week based only on my diet. Now that you know how many calories to eat, you must decide when to eat them.

The most effective method to guarantee an active metabolism and muscle retention is to eat frequently. It is recommended to eat every 2-3 hours to ensure this. This averages out to be from 5-8 meals a day. I generally eat about 7 times in a given day. So I divided my new caloric intake (which was 2900 after subtracting 500 from my BMR) and came up with roughly 410 calories per meal. This is just an average, and you probably shouldn’t consume that much every meal, but instead prioritize your important meals (breakfast and post workout) to contain slightly more. For example, my breakfast usually came out to be about 600 calories, so my second and third meal is about 300 calories to accommodate the average. Now that you know how often to eat and when to eat, you need to know what macronutrients should be in your meals.

It is a good rule of thumb to increase your protein during cutting cycles for a few reasons. One is that you want to do your best to keep what muscle that you have, so you don’t want to have your body running in low supply of protein. Another is that it takes your body twice the amount of energy to metabolize protein as it does carbohydrates. I recommend that 40%, of your calories should come from protein (it usually comes out to be ~ 1.5g / lb of bodyweight).

Another important macronutrient to be in control over is your carbohydrates. The important thing to note here is that you should only consume your simple carbohydrates after you workout. All of your other carbohydrate sources should come from low GI foods such as fruits and vegetables (learn more about carbs in our article about Low Carb Diets). This will keep your energy levels stable throughout the day and keep you from craving food all day long. Some people drop a lot of carbohydrates for a cutting session, but I usually keep them as about 35% of my diet. One thing that you don’t want to happen when cutting is to have extremely low glycogen levels in your muscles. This is bad news because then your body burns muscle as an energy source. Carbohydrates quickly replenish these stores and save your muscle from catching the catabolism bug.

Don't fear healthy fatsThe last macronutrient left is fat. Believe it or not, fat helps to aid in losing weight. However, not all fats are created equally. The fats that we need in our diet are ones that contain Omega 3, 6, 9, monounsaturated, and polyunsaturated fats. These are the healthy fats for you and are found in foods like salmon, nuts, olive oil, flax seed, peanut butter and tuna. They are important for many different health benefits which include a healthy heart and brain functioning. I recommend that 25% of your diet come from these fat sources.

Really take a lot of time in developing a feasible diet based on these guidelines. Plan a day’s worth of meals that would meet these guidelines. Don’t worry about calorie counting to the exact number, but try to stay consistent and within limits. I find it better to plan your day’s meals ahead of time so that you aren’t making it up as you go along.

So now that we know how to eat, let’s plan our workouts to assist these goals.

Training for Fat Loss

An important mistake that a lot of people make is that they often replace workouts with cardio sessions. This is not the way to effectively keep muscle and burn fat. In fact, you should do the antithesis.

While we may burn more calories for the duration of a workout doing cardio, we burn more calories, fat especially, throughout the course of a day by lifting weights. The reason for this is because after we workout our metabolism has been boosted for the remainder of the day. Do you ever wonder why you eat more after your workouts than before? This is why it is popular for people to lift weights early in the morning, it means they will ultimately burn more for the course of their day.

Knowing this, it is probably a wise decision to increase the amount of weight lifting sessions that you perform during a week. However, don’t let that mean that you should overtrain your muscles. The best way to do this is to adopt a 5-7 day split. When I am bulking, I usually workout 3-4 days a week, but when I am cutting I increase it to 5-7 days a week. However, I work out each muscle the same amount of times during the course of a week for both strategies. I just spread it out to reap the benefits of an accelerated metabolism to help me burn fat.

Are you surprised that I haven’t spent hardly any time talking about actual cardio sessions? Good, because cardio is not as important as many believe when cutting fat. You could lose it just fine by having a well-structured diet and weight lifting program. However it is still a good idea to add some cardiovascular exercise.

Don’t start running 10 mph on the treadmill just yet though because some cardio is better than other forms.

Cardio for Fat Loss

There are many different ways that people use cardio to help them lose fat, however I believe that the most effective strategies are High Intensity Interval Training and low intensity cardio.

Sprinting is Great For Boosting MetabolismRemember how I was telling you about the extraordinary benefits that a weight lifting offers in regards to losing weight? Well this form of cardio capitalizes on that side effect by utilizing anaerobic exercise to complete this goal. HIIT consists of extremely hard, short spurts of cardio (such as sprints) for about 15 minutes. This brief session has the same aftermath as working out, basing most of its fat burning effect on the fact that your metabolism is more efficient throughout the remainder of the day. An example of a HIIT session is doing 10 sets of 30 second wind sprints. Don’t take this very ephemeral cardio session for granted though, it is tough and you will earn every calorie that you burn.

The other method that I prefer is low intensity, long duration cardio. I always like to play it safe when it comes to conserving muscle, and this is by far the safest method. When I do cardio, I usually burn ~400 calories because, again, I want most of the weight that I lose to be fat and not muscle. If I do a moderately intense exercise, like jogging at 7 MPH, I will burn 400 calories quicker than if I walk. The important difference is that only about 40% of those calories will be taken from fat sources and the rest will be derived from carbohydrates. However, if I walk longer and burn 400 calories, about 65-70% of the calories that I burn will be from fat sources.

But why does it work out like this?

To convert fat to an energy source that we can use, it requires oxygen. When we are jogging, we don’t have enough oxygen to enable this process to occur as much, in regards to how much energy we need, as it would if we were walking. This is why walking burns more fat calories, percentage wise, than a more intense cardio session. Also keep in mind that your carbohydrate levels will already be low because you have cut them out of your diet. You want to make sure that what carbs you do have goes to supply your glycogen stored in your muscles. Doing more intense cardio will hinder your recovery and eventually cause muscle loss!

Ok, so now your diet and training is in check, but what about fat burning supplements?

Fat Burning Supplements

There is a reason why I chose to talk about this as the last topic when discussing fat burning. That is because the best weight loss pills are not even necessary. If you have everything else in check, then there is no reason why you should be considering using a fat burner. However, it is not up to me to make decisions for you, that is your call. I simply want you to make the best decision when purchasing one.

Diet Pills are not Miracle PillsFirst, I will reemphasize that there is no magical diet pill. All fat burners do the same thing; they increase energy, stimulate the metabolism or thyroid, or help to suppress the appetite. They will not just melt away your fat and do all of the work for you. Have you ever read the disclaimers that they add to their product labels? One is “results not typical,” another is “combined with a healthy diet and exercise program.” Do you think that half of the people who buy diet pills have a good diet and exercise program? Chances are if they did, they wouldn’t need one because they would already be fit. So how do they get these amazing results? Simple, they put someone who has a lot of weight to lose on a diet and exercise program (which accounts for most of the weight loss) and have them take their product. Then they record the results and claim that their product was responsible for it. Don’t be fooled by these clever advertising campaigns and “studies.” Ok, I’m through attacking the multi-billion dollar diet pill industry.

There are many different types of fat burners out there: Thermogenic fat burners, non-stimulant fat burners, thyroid regulating fat burners, carb blockers, fat blockers, appetite suppressants, and cortisol blockers. I will briefly explain the purpose of each of these types of burners and leave it up to you to do further investigation on the one that seems most appealing.

Thermogenic fat burners are by far the most popular of any of the ones listed. They are also known as stimulant fat burners. The purpose of Thermogenic fat burners is to use chemicals and herbs to elevate the body’s temperature. This will increase the metabolism and thus its fat burning effects. However, be careful to monitor your caffeine intake when supplementing with these potentially harmful stimulants. Too much caffeine could mean trouble.

Non-stimulant fat burners are pretty self explanatory. They are the safer alternative if you are scared of the effects of gambling with stimulants. The only downside to these is that they will not work as rapidly as its counterpart, and if you decide to buy a fat burner the chances are that you want results now. This is probably why they are a far cry from giving much competition with stimulant-based fat burners.

Thyroid regulating fat burners focus on increasing your thyroid glands. The thyroid gland is largely responsible for the regulation of your metabolism which converts all of our food into energy. When you are in a calorie deficient state, your thyroid gland is less efficient (but not much less) than when it wasn’t. By stimulating the thyroid, you can increase the likelihood that fat is burned and decrease the likeliness that fat is stored.

The purpose of fat and carb blockers is to prevent these macronutrients from being absorbed into the body. Certain chemicals bind to them and keep them from being used or stored. This may be helpful to those of us who can’t give up certain foods. Maybe this would be useful when going out to eat with family or friends and you don’t want to regret anything later.

Appetite suppressants, also known as anoretics, just help keep you from being hungry all of the time. And example of this type of supplement is Proactal, and you can check out a Proactol Review here.

Lastly, cortisol blockers block the stress hormone cortisol. This hormone causes us to do two things, increase appetite and store fat. This hormone probably helped back when food was scarce and winter was coming, but now it can have damaging effects to our aesthetics.

Ok so there you have it, a complete guide to losing fat, not just weight, and getting ready for the summer! Hopefully you now have enough information to make fun of the people who lose 10 pounds of fat and 15 pounds of muscle to get cut.

2 Responses to “Fat Loss”

  1. vince 2 January 2010 at 11:42 am Permalink

    Nice looking blog. Plenty of useful information on fitness. Keep up the good work. Job well done.