5 Factors For Fat Loss
Jade Teta ND, CSCS, Metabolic Effect.com
One thing we at Metabolic Effect are frequently confronted with is people who desire real body transformation but who are unwilling to make the change. The problem is that these individuals rarely realize they are unwilling. They are often completely unaware of what it really takes to see true body change. We certainly don’t blame them. It is usually just a matter of helping them understand what will be required of them and to explore what blocks they may have. Change is hard in any arena, and body change is no different. However, when people know exactly what is required of them they are far more likely to do what needs to be done. In my experience, there are 5 key factors a person must master to see real change. Obviously, there are more, but these are the ones that make the biggest difference in my opinion.
1. Diet. Hands down your diet is the single biggest change needed. Too often people think if they switch from corn flakes to oatmeal or from a fast food hamburger to a turkey sandwich they are going to see big changes. Whether you include or fore go butter on your popcorn is not the issue. The issue is much bigger than that. The must frustrating thing for me as a physician, personal trainer, and health coach is the damage the calorie model has had on people. People everywhere still believe that leaving mayonnaise off their sandwich, or getting vegetable pizza instead of peperoni, or switching from fruit loops to cheerios is going to change their bodies. It wont. Some of these changes may make you healthier, but they wont drastically change your body. It is important to understand that a healthy diet does not equal a fat loss diet. However, a fat loss diet is almost always a healthier diet. In order to see dramatic change in the body, there has to be dramatic change in the diet and this change has to be adhered to upwards of 90 to 95% of the time. Switching from cereal to egg whites, from sandwiches to salads, and from chips to protein shakes is more in line with the changes needed in the dietary regime. Without these type of changes you are playing the weight loss game not the fat loss game and you will be frustrated by your results or soon hit a plateau you cant break. Diet is the single most important change you can make in a fat loss lifestyle and accounts for probably greater than 75% of your initial results. In my experience, a person will need to make a drastic change that is sustained for 90% of the time for eight to twelve weeks. As you can see, this approach, while it works is not something most people are willing to do.
2. Exercise. Many people make the mistake of starting an exercise plan thinking that alone will be able to change the body. It is a great start, but without changing the diet it frequently will lead to maintenance rather than loss. Here is the thing about exercise that is so important. A diet without exercise is like getting a tune up in your car without changing the oil. You will see some benefits to the engine, but they will not last and may do damage in the long run. This is because a diet is relatively indiscriminate in terms of the weight you lose, meaning you can easily lose muscle as well as fat. Exercise, at least the right kind, assures that you are burning mostly fat rather than mostly muscle. This brings me to another major issue with exercise. Aerobic exercise is NOT the best form of exercise for fat loss because when used alone (without weight training) it will burn fat AND muscle decreasing metabolic efficiency in the long run. A good exercise program should combine weight training and aerobic training. The resistance training should be heavy enough to allow between 6 and 15 reps and aerobic exercise should be shorter and more intense (interval training) or longer and lower intensity (brisk walking). This is because of the complicated biochemistry of exercise. There are many indications that long distance moderate intensity aerobic exercise (i.e. jogging, biking, etc) may set up a negative hormonal situation. At metabolic effect we intermix aerobic interval training with weights to maximize caloric burn as well as hormonal fat metabolism. My experience tells me the people who get the best results will put equal emphasis on weight training as they do cardiovascular exercise, they will workout 5 to 7 days per week, and they exercise intensely. The other key element is progressive overload. Like anything in life you want to master, you must encounter challenge. Too often exercise is not challenging enough. People think showing up is good enough. It is not. There are four goals you should have in each workout, get breathless, get your muscles burning, get your muscles straining (lifting heavy weight), and heat your body up (i.e. sweat). To often, none of these goals are reached by the average exerciser.
3. Schedule. I can tell you from experience watching and training top level athletes, as well as working with physique athletes (bodybuilders, fitness models, figure competitors), that rigid adherence to a schedule is a key factor in success. The reason a schedule is so important is that even the most scientifically sound and proven fat loss program will not work if it is not adhered to. I beleive in order to truly assess whether a program is valuable or not, a person must adhere to that program 90 to 95% of the time. The only way that is possible is by scheduling it as a priority in the day. Not only should a person know exactly what time they are going to eat everyday, but they should also know exactly what they are going to eat. The dietary plan and schedule needs to be laid out and prepared for. The most successful strategy I have seen for scheduling a diet is having a day set aside for preparation of food for the week. Sundays are the day that seems to work best. This is a day where the food needed for the week is usually purchased, prepared, separated into individual meals, and placed into Tupperware for easy travel and reheating. Flying by the seat of your pants will not work and rarely will help you reach your goals for fat loss. The same attention to detail is key for exercise. Exercise should be carefully mapped out for the week. Are you going to exercise first thing in the morning Mon-Sat and take Sun as a rest day? Or are you going to exercise Mon-Wed-Fri immediately after work and Tues-Thur-Sat first thing in the morning? Just as the scheduled times and days need to be mapped out, the workouts need to be decided as well. When are you doing upper body vs. lower body, when will you do interval training verse a weight focused workout? Are you going to break the body into body parts focusing on chest and back one day, arms and shoulders another day, and legs on another day? This is all stuff that needs to be thought out and adhered to. Finally, dont forget about scheduling the things that make a difference in your ability to stick to a schedule in the first place. Sleep is a key issue here. If you don’t schedule an early enough time to sleep or enough sleep, the early morning workout you scheduled is much more likely to be put off or skipped all together. Likewise, if you don’t schedule stress reducing activities, you are likely to be pushed out of balance through stress. Not taking time for meditation, a relaxing movie, sex, a warm bath, massage or other stress reducing habits will lead you to abandon your fat loss schedule more often then you should.
4. Sleep. I mentioned it above, but sleep is a huge part of fat loss. This is because sleep directly impacts the ability for the body to recover from stress. Sleep can be prime fat burning time or prime fat storing time depending on your habits. The thing to know about sleep is it has great influence over fat burning hormones. However, you need to understand how sleep works to use it to your advantage. You can think of sleep like the reset button on your computer. When your body (the computer) crashes, sleep is like hitting the restart button. Sleep is analogous to restarting a computer after downloading a new piece of software. Ever notice how when you load a new piece of software on your computer it takes time, and things need to be done in sequence? After it is finished, you must restart the computer. However, if something goes wrong, or you do things out of sequence the computer will crash and you have to start over again. With sleep, the software you are downloading is software that suppresses stress hormones like cortisol, and elevates muscle building and fat burning hormones like human growth hormone (HGH). However this takes time. There are several key things the body needs to properly load this software. It needs seven to nine hours of sleep, it needs complete darkness, and it needs normal blood sugar levels during sleep. These three elements can be achieved by focusing on protein and not starch before bed, avoiding food a few hours before sleep, going to bed by 10pm not 12am, and making sure you sleep in complete darkness. This is because stress hormones are released in response to light, changes in blood sugar, and staying up too late. Research has shown that two groups of people who sleep the same amount of hours with one group going to bed at midnight vs. 10pm have different waking stress hormones. Those who go to bed later have higher cortisol levels and lower nighttime HGH secretion despite sleeping the same amount of time. This is because their hormonal “download” did not have time to complete. Light and higher than normal blood sugar levels at bedtime are the major reasons many people store fat rather than burn it at night.
5. Supplementation. Nowadays it is impossible to live a fat loss lifestyle without functional foods and good quality supplementation. The major reason for this is the super fast paced world we live in. Not many people will be able to prepare all the meals they need for the week without some quick food options such as protein shakes or bars. Likewise, even the most healthy among us have difficulty eating all the vegetables we require. In addition, there are factors beyond our control that have made it necessary to supplement. Omega 3 oils from fish are absolutely essential not only for our health, but to burn fat. However, farm raised fish and contaminated oceans mean many fish either have the wrong fats or are contaminated with mercury, both of which will throw a wrench into fat loss. Stress hormones and foods containing caffeine not only zap our energy, but deplete our brain neurohormones, making it so hunger and cravings win the willpower game. To help with this I usually recommend all my fat loss clients take 1. Metabolic Complex ( a multivitamin specifically formulated for fat loss). 2. High Potency Omega 3 (a molecularly distilled, pure fish oil) 3. Crave Control (a specially formulate product using a 10 to 1 tyrosine to 5-HTP ratio to control cravings, balance mood, and improve motivation). 4. The Meal (an ultra pure whey protein based meal replacement supplement from grass fed cattle). 5. Fat Burner Complex (a potent thermogenic aid) that works in overlapping mechanisms to elevate fat burning, control cravings, and improve energy without the dangerous stimulant effects of other fat loss aids. Supplementation can no longer be taken for granted and as much as I would like to say all this is possible with real food, it just is not in today’s high-stress, fast paced world. If you are interested in learning more about any of these supplements, you can learn more at the link here. Does this mean you have to get only the supplements listed above from Metabolic Effect? Of course not, there are many supplements on the market, some good and some bad. The point is to make sure you have these bases covered and are consistent in supplementation. Ask your doctor or nutritional adviser what they think is best, keeping in mind the average MD knows next to nothing about nutrition.