Feb 24th, 2015
Author: Ben Brown
In part one of “How your Scale is Holding you Back”, we touched on two very important points regarding effective fat loss:
Scale weight is an unreliable indicator of fat loss and/or muscle gains. Instead focusing on the two independently, through body fat assessment techniques, like pictures, how your clothes fit, fat calipers, and circumference measurements, are the key to tracking successful changes in body composition.
Both having muscle mass and the process by which one attains muscle (lifting heavy weights) has a multitude of hormonal benefits, from improving the body’s blood sugar handling mechanism to simply burning more calories at rest.
In this part 2, we’ll lay out some basic exercise and nutritional components that, if followed consistently, is sure to fire up some serious fat loss. Because ultimately, when you can move past analyzing what the scale says and focus entirely on what is happening with body composition, only then, can you can truly track progress.
Here’s what you need to know
Losing body fat is not always easy, but with consistency and the right mindset, can be very realistic for just about anyone. Here are a few guidelines that we have complete control over in our daily lives that can easily contribute heavily to optimizing body composition:
Try to accumulate 60 minutes per day, at least 5 days per week. Surprisingly, this is one of the most neglected aspects of those trying to improve body composition.
It doesn’t all have to be done at one time and can easily be spread throughout the day, as in, a 30-minute weight training session in the morning and a 30-minute walk after dinner at night. If you haven’t been doing any exercise, then simply do some (maybe 10-15min per day?). And if you’ve only been doing some, then step it up a notch!
For faster fat loss: strength train (lift heavy weights) at least 4x per week focusing on major muscle groups, like the legs, butt, chest, shoulders and back. Couple this with “cardio” involving short bursts of intense efforts followed by longer recovery in between. For example, using the upright bike at a moderate resistance (after doing a 3-5minute warm-up), “sprint” as fast as you can for 10-20 seconds. Take the remaining minute to do a slow recovery pedal and repeat for 20-30 minutes.
Replace your grains with greens
Adding more colorful and leafy green vegetables to every single meal throughout the day is a fantastic way to improve the nutrient density of your meals. Exchange those breads, pastas, rice, oats and potatoes for more fibrous vegetables, which will ultimately add far more vitamins and minerals (and fiber) with far fewer calories.
If you can envision your plate being more than half full of vegetables at every meal, then you’re on the right track.
For faster fat loss: a good general rule is to eat far more vegetables than fruit and save your grains and starchy vegetables (breads, pastas, rice, sweet potato, etc.,) for after intense workouts when your body is primed to utilize those sugars. If you haven’t exercised, then you’d better stick with veggies or get your butt to the gym and earn those carbs!
Achieve adequate protein intake
Protein is essential for fueling metabolism, improving muscle mass and recovery and stimulating fat loss. Without adequate protein intake throughout the day, body composition will suffer, plain and simple.
Protein dense foods (lean meats, fish, eggs, dairy, and beans) should compliment the predominant serving of vegetables on the aforementioned plate. Men need more protein than women, and those that strength train need more than those that don’t. The quality of the protein source, i.e., free-range, organic, grass-fed, etc., matters significantly, so choose your proteins wisely.
For faster fat loss: To keep things very simple here, women should aim for one serving of protein per meal (20-30g), while men should have closer to two (40-60g). A serving of protein is often described as roughly the size of a deck of cards (4oz). The more muscle mass you have, or want to have, the more protein you will likely need to consume at every meal.
Compliment your plate with healthy fats
The majority of your plate is now filled with mostly vegetables, and one or two servings of lean protein. Don’t forget the fat sources; whether it is cooking with coconut oil or butter, or the use of raw olive oil, avocado, and/or nuts and seeds. Either way, you’ll be adding healthy fats to help with vitamin absorption as well as the production of necessary fat burning hormones.
For faster fat loss: The importance of adequate dietary fat is beyond the scope of this article, but it is the author’s opinion that if you want to maintain fat loss and improve hormonal function, especially as you age, then you should be very wary of eating “low-fat”, especially for a prolonged period of time.
Having a better idea of the differences between weight loss and fat loss now allows you to put our goals into more complete perspective. Using exercise and nutrition as your fat loss tool, while tracking change along the way, is the very best way to learn about what your body needs and how it responds to change, regardless of what the scale says.