One surprising thing you can do to make your weight loss efforts more effective
People who go to the gym are generally there for one of two things.
- To change the way they look
- To improve athletic performance
With summer around the corner there will be lots of you wanting to “trim up”, “lean down” and get “six pack ready” which is a great goal if that’s what you want to aim for.
The trouble is that so often I see people going about it completely the wrong way.
To make your dieting efforts easier, more effective and ultimately more sustainable try eating more!
Eat more to lose weight
No, I’m not flaunting the rules of physics, we all know that you need a calorie deficit to achieve weight/body fat loss so you will still need to eat fewer calories than you are burning but let’s compare these two scenarios.
You require 2,000 calories a day to maintain your weight, you add in some extra training and this goes up to 2,300 calories a day. Following the latest plan and diet trend you cut your food intake down to just 1,300 a day which is a 1,000 calorie (44%) deficit.
Great, at this rate 1Kg a week weight loss is guaranteed…except it isn’t. Hormone changes, reduced overall activity levels and decreased effort in the gym mean that your calorie requirements for the day are now back down to 2,000. Cortisol increases due to the extra stress you are experiencing mean you hold on to more water and before you know it your weight/fat loss efforts have plateaued, your miserable to be around and your appetite is voracious…not ideal.
You require the same 2,000 calories a day as above but this time you set yourself a moderate calorie deficit and aim to eat 1,800 calories a day. As above you increase your exercise so that you are expending 2,300 calories putting you at a 500 calorie deficit. In this scenario your energy levels stay high, you train hard and are feeding the body what it needs to recover. Your cortisol levels are much lower and although you predicted weight loss is only 0.5Kg a week (compared to the 1Kg above) you are enjoying yourself more and sticking to this plan is a breeze.
After 8 weeks of training I know who I would back to be in better shape.
Who should follow a more rigid diet?
Extreme dietary restrictions, whether by cutting out a food group completely or drastically reducing calories are only really appropriate in very short-term bursts or in very particular population groups.
- People with a lot of weight to lose
- Those who are already very lean
The more weight you have to lose the easier it is to cut back your calories and not suffer from psychological effects and physiological adaptations. If you are already very lean (<10% BF) and competing in a figure sport then rigid dietary rules are needed to reach those low digit percentages.
For the average trainee who wants to reach a low body fat % (10-12% for men, 20-22% for women) a flexible approach to dieting will allow you to reach your targets and still live your life!
The 80/20 rule
Pareto’s principle states that 80% of your results come from 20% of the work you do. Unless you are in a very specific situation, the minor details aren’t worth worrying over.
Focus on getting your basics right:
- The correct number of calories
- The right amount of protein
- Managing your hunger levels