So I get asked by clients, friends & family, “How can I lose this?” while they’re pinching whatever area they are unhappy with. While no two people are exactly the same, there are a few general tips that I can share with you to set you up on your journey to becoming leaner and healthier than ever.
If you weigh 75kgs and are only eating 1,000 calories a day, you are not eating enough. That doesn’t mean break out the doughnuts, that means you need to increase your daily intake. You need to look at your diet and find the gaps. For those who train multiple times a week, an increase in protein consumption would be highly recommended if you’re not hitting your daily calorie needs.
A general guide for calorie intake is your bodyweight (in pounds) times ten to twelve. Example: 165lbs (75kg) x 10 = 1650 cal.
(1 pound = 0.45kgs) Get your weight in pounds.
Use this daily calorie calculator to help you find your number.
This isn’t going to work for everyone, this is simply a starting position for someone who has no idea what number to aim for. If you use this number for a few weeks and you are not seeing results, that’s when we make changes. Trial and error is the key as it isn’t easy hitting the magic number on your first attempt.
You will need to be aware that this ‘magic number‘ will not stay the same forever. As you gain lean muscle the number increases, and as you lose lots of body fat and maintain your current muscle mass the number will decrease.
Now, most of you have probably just seen that 1650 calories and are probably thinking this is a lot of food, but it is not.
Women have been taught that starving themselves will make them lose weight. In reality, we don’t just want to be smaller, do we? Don’t we want to be leaner while maintaining lean muscle, too? I’m not saying bodybuilding lean and with crazy amounts of muscle, but enough to see some definition in your arms, back and abs. Most women would answer me with a very loud, “Yes!”
To acquire that desired lean beach bikini body, there are many components that come into play. In the following paragraphs, I will touch on a few of them to get your weight loss journey started by helping you lean down and build lean muscle without putting your health at risk by attempting crazy crash diets.
Calorie intake is just one component of many that go into this machine we call our body. The body is much smarter than the average person. You may trick it once or twice, but it will learn how to overcome what you are trying to do to it. The body will combat under eating by hoarding everything you feed it. Then you jump on a piece of cardio equipment and pedal your little heart out for extensive amounts of time, and still – nothing. Why is that? Keep reading!
Do not completely eliminate them; doing so would only set you up for failure. Do you even know how many you get in a day? An important part of achieving your goals through slightly reducing carbohydrates is logging and monitoring your diet through a food log or logging on apps like MyFitnessPal.com or Loseit.com. If you aren’t keeping track it will be very difficult to gauge whether you are actually reducing carbs consistently each day. As we have all heard, consistency is key. 2 days of slightly lower carbs, unfortunately, doesn’t have a massive impact on our overall physique, but over a number of weeks it will start to accumulate, bringing you closer to your dream body.
Do you know what foods are considered high in carbohydrates? Another important aspect is being educated and being familiar with what amount of each macronutrients (carbs, fats, protein) are founding in foods you consume, and what ingredients are in the food products you buy.
The big killer in the carbohydrate category to avoid is sugar. This includes candy/lollies, cakes, chocolate, sports drinks, sauces, some tinned foods like spaghetti and much more. It also includes fruit. I hear so many people say how healthy they eat and then proceed to tell me they load up on fruit. Some fruits are very high in natural sugar. Natural sugar is still sugar, and it will still lead to an increase in fat if you eat too much of it. Obviously, fruits contain loads of essential vitamins and minerals, you just need to be cautious that you aren’t self-sabotaging yourself.
Another misconception is that brown rice, brown pasta and whole grain bread are completely different to their regular white counterparts when it comes to calories. Truth is – they aren’t. They just have a little more fiber and digest slower, so you don’t get quite the same insulin spike, but they are still a carb and they can still cause fat gain if you overeat them.
So what we have learned is slowly reduce carbs down until you start to see the results you’re after. Be patient and take your time, you don’t need to just cut all carbs because its Monday and you’re pumped to get shredded for Friday. Week by week reduce amounts of carbs to find the amount that works for you. This will also help you maintain your precious muscle.
If someone wanted to go on a low carb diet I would start them out at 25-30% of their daily calories from carbohydrates in their diet and assess from there. This is going to depend on your current diet. If you are currently getting 50-60%+ of your calories from carbs, you starting goal may be to just get that amount below 50%.
How are you going to do that if you don’t know how many sugars and carbohydrates are in what you’re eating? Start logging your food on one of the sites I mentioned above. And you must take responsibility for what goes in your mouth.
INCREASE PROTEIN AND DONT FEAR FATS
Increasing your protein may help maintain the lean mass (muscle) you already have. If you need a refresher, my article, HOW MUCH PROTEIN TO YOU REALLY NEED will explain the amounts required for your activity level. Protein also has the ability to increases your metabolism, which means your body burns more of the calories you consume. This is through the thermogenic effect of food.
Adding a little more lean mass is usually a good thing. Once again this will increase the number of calories your body burns on a day to day basis, without you having to do anything! As a general starting point, I think 30-40% of your daily calorie intake should be from protein. I have seen great results with this.
The media and government have been demonising fats in the diet for decades, making large unscientific claims about it leading to dramatic health consequences, including obesity, heart problems and much more. What is now becoming much more widely known, is companies with invested interests have been known to fund certain studies and skew the findings to dimish the effects of their products, while vilifying others’ products. Perhaps the most notorious of them all is the sugar industry.
Lucky for us all, however, updated and more accurate studies are emerging and debunking the myths and misleading information regarding fats in the diet. These include studies assessing the effects on weight loss through various diet techniques, such as low carb, and low fats. A study in the New England Journal of Medicine even concluded that subjects that were placed on a low carbohydrate diet lost considerably more than those who were placed on a low fats diet over a six month period.
Ladies, listen very closely: you will not become the hulk after 3 weights training sessions! Even males with considerably higher amounts of anabolic hormones such as testosterone even struggle to put on muscle, which helps explain why so many seek out supplementation assistance from anabolic steroids, but that’s an article for another day. If you start getting bigger, it is most likely because you are also eating more. You may put on a little lean mass, but it should not cause your quads to start popping out of your jeans. If you know what foods are suitable for weight loss, and you consistently stick to your nutrition goals as well as consistent resistance training, you should be getting smaller and leaner. This is due to the muscle being much denser (1kg of muscle takes up much less space than 1kg of fat). So as you reduce body fat and replace it with muscle, even if you stay the exact same weight, your waistline will be getting smaller.
Here are some of the proven benefits of resistance training.
– Improved muscle strength and tone
– Weight management
– Prevention and control of health conditions such as diabetes, heart disease and arthritis
– Pain management
– Improved mobility and balance
– Improved posture
– Decreased risk of injury
– Increased bone density and strength
– Reduced body fat
– Boosted metabolism
– Improved sleep patterns
– Increased self-esteem
– Enhanced performance of everyday tasks
With everyone chasing the leanest and sexiest physique physically attainable, it is easy to go overboard with cardio in the attempt to strip yourself of body fat.
Cardio is amazing for both physical and mental health but over doing the cardio can block you in your path to becoming lean and aesthetic.
During large bursts of cardio, your body can start to become catabolic, which means it starts to eat muscle for fuel instead of food recently eaten and fat stores.
Try not to overdo your cardio. By keeping it under 45 minutes you can help minimise muscle breakdown. Also, make sure to get your dose of resistance training in. This will ensure you maintain your precious muscle and can continue to increase your BMR.
Becoming catabolic also happens when we don’t eat enough. Starving yourself will only make you carry more fat. When you can’t stand starving yourself anymore and go back to “normal” eating, don’t expect a positive result. All the scam diets that tell you to drink nothing but shakes or eat only five hundred calories a day, they make you catabolic and set you up for failure. Don’t be lazy. Take control of your body.
It all comes back to being balanced and approaching your health and fitness from a variety of angles. You need to display self-control to achieve your goals, but you also need to make sure it’s sustainable, and if that means you have 6 strict days and 1 bad day, so be it. The eventual outcome will still be much greater than someone who has a perfect diet for 2 weeks, then gets over it and goes back to 7 days of bad food choices.
While these guidelines are general, they work and they are a great place to start whether your goals are athletic or aesthetic. Cardio, strength, and nutrition are all important and all build upon each other. Focusing too much on any one aspect while leaving others at the wayside won’t have you be the best athlete you can be.