In anticipation of the enquiries and the barrage of questions we’d be facing relating to fat loss – it being January and all – last week we held a seminar at the gym focusing primarily on, you guessed it, fat loss. We touched upon nutrition, training, supplements and other factors such as sleep and stress etc, but most of the content was about what, why and when to eat. We also also had one of our members who is a chef knock us up some menus in keeping with our ‘green list’ – more on that later.
We did our best as always to keep things simple. In hindsight, we tried to cram to much in in such a short space of time – we get carried away – so as promised here is a brief summary of what was covered. Apologies for the delay….. it’s January, and there’s the usual influx of people coming through the doors with new goals and New Years resolutions!
In the interest in keeping things brief (ish) we’ve got for five key points in each area. Some of these are simple and certainly won’t gain us column inches for the next ‘new’ diet, but they work – consistently.
Fat Loss Blueprint
1. Goal setting
- Set measurable short-term goals. Fat loss needs to be sustainable, definitely – but it’s best achieved when attacked in short and highly focused (unsustainable perhaps) bursts. We’ve found 28-days to be optimal – it’s about all most people with other stuff going on in life can commit/stick to 100%.
- Commit 100%. 52-week long, half-arsed fat loss programs don’t work. Focus for 4-6wks and do exactly what is required. If you get to where you want to be, great – if not, go back to ‘moderate’ living for a couple/few weeks, and do it again. Repeat this process three or four times per year if necessary, just stopping doing it half-cocked all year every year. It hasn’t worked and it’s unlikely to!
- Shift your goal from an ‘outcome’ goal to a ‘process’ goal. Most people fail when they align their goals to a particular outcome, Eg. ‘I want to lose a stone’. They are much more successful when they set process goals, Eg ‘I will go to the gym three times per week, every week and I will eat foods from W10’s green section of the pyramid for all but two meals, every week’. Forget about the outcome, just follow the steps it takes to get there and it will happen as a matter of course.
- Measure progress. Weight alone isn’t a great marker. Skinfold readings, photos, circumference measurements or an item of clothing are far better indicators of progress. Whatever it is, get some marker.
- Find a social support network. Do it with someone, make yourself accountable by telling as many people as possible and hang around with like-minded folk. Don’t kick around in a health club with all the other demotivated and uninspired souls – the environment is not conducive to getting results.
- Train with purpose. Turning up and going through the motions won’t cut it. Fat loss requires that you create significant metabolic disturbance and you’ve got to train accordingly. Be prepared to work hard for it.
- You need to train four times per week consistently – three minimum – to see significant results.
- Stick to full body strength training programs – body part split routines are not the best choice for fat loss. And big multi-joint exercises like squats, lunges, push-ups, chin-ups, etc are where it’s at if you want to shed fat.
- Keep your workouts short. Under an hour including mobility/movement prep & flexibility work. Cutting carbs, caffeine, calories, and other ‘feel good’ things from the diet will cause an initial stress response (as will food separation anxiety!), don’t add to this considerable cascade of stress hormones by smashing yourself in the gym for several hours, several times per week.
- Add some short, sharp conditioning blocks to your strength training for more rapid results – either at the end of your workout or as separate sessions. Include metabolic resistance training (bodyweight included), interval training, hill sprints, sled work and so on to massively accelerate fat loss.
- Eat clean. Follow the Food Pyramid (soon to be published on the site) and eat from the green list. Avoid Category B vegetables and excess fructose (fruit) for an initial period of 14-days.
- Eat regularly. Three meals and two snacks is often the preferred approach, and that’s fine, but based on experience we find people do better with four small meals (Eg 7am, 11am, 4pm & 7pm). This could be breakfast, lunch, mid-afternoon protein shake (if you struggle to find time to eat mid-afternoon) and dinner. (Get a quality protein supplement – we stock Solgar).
- Include adequate amounts of protein. This doesn’t mean that you’ve got to gorge on an abbatoir quota of meat a la Atkins, but most people are ‘under-proteined’, which is fat loss suicide. There’s a reason – multiple actually – why many diets favour protein over other macronutrients….
- Eat from a relatively small base of foods. Most people don’t do well with choice – we have to make too many of them already. I can’t tell you how many people we’ve given the Food Pyramid to who still look at us and ask “well, what do I eat”. I used to think it was them. I know realise that it’s just more to have to think about and incorporate into an already busy life. Many people do very well when they pick three breakfast, three lunch and three dinner options and they rotate these twice through the week – Sunday when they typically have more time being the one day the make other choices.
- Keep a food diary throughout. Not only does this keep you accountable, it also creates awareness of what you eat and what makes you feel good or otherwise. An irritating thing to keep perhaps, but those who keep a diary throughout get the best results.
- Supplements are exactly that – supplementary to a clean diet. Don’t live off frankfurters and cage raised poultry/eggs whilst spending the US defence budget on supplements – thats backward.
- Buy reassuringly expensive. Many products bought from mainstream high street outlets cost you more to process and eliminate than they actually give you. It’s better not to take supplements than it is to take cheap crappy products.
- Different people need different things. Biosignature Modulation works well, but before we go down that road, let’s get all of the five nutrition and training points in place.
- Protein supplements are not just for meatheads and knuckle-draggers. For most people they help them get the levels of protein that are essential to their fat loss goals without the bind of meal preparation time. Yes, ideally we should definitely eat all of our food, but protein supplements come into their own when time is short, say first thing in the morning or when mid-afternoon nutrition doesn’t fit in with work schedules. Be sure to buy a decent quality brand (we stock Solgar).
- Supplements should be taken with meals (the exception being neural stimulants). Digestive supports (probably the most important of all supplements for most people), omega 3 fish oils, greens drinks/multi-vitamins and other ‘staples’ should always be taken with food.
5. Other factors
- Mindset. If it was easy, everyone would be lean and you wouldn’t be reading this.
- Sleep. Probably one of the most important things you can do for your health and hormonal balance, and thus fat loss efforts, is to get regular quality sleep. Afternoon naps are great also if you have that luxury.
- Relaxation. Not TV, not Playstation, and no, not your gym workouts. We’re talking dog-walking, fresh-air induced, loved ones included, genuine relaxation. Most people just do not do ‘nothing’, but doing ‘nothing’ occasionally is important.
So that’s it – hopefully some useful points.
Going forward we want to make the nutrition aspect of fat loss and indeed general health far less complicated and easy to combine with a busy schedule, so we’re working on a few things we’ve come up with – our own aligned with seasonal menus, recipes and video tutorials one we’re particularly excited about. Any suggestions, recommendations and ideas from both a practical and personal experience perspective would, as always, be greatly appreciated!
We help our members with a nutritional programme that works for them, if you’re struggling, give us a shout at our gym in Richmond and try out our personal training in London and we’ll help you work out a plan that suits you.
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- The Best Ways to Train for Fat Loss