The Recipe for Fat Loss
Definition: “a set of instructions for preparing a particular dish, including a list of the ingredients required.”
Just like a recipe for a tasty meal, fat loss requires a recipe consisting of all the right ingredients, none of the wrong ingredients, and the right ingredients in the correct amounts.
I’m going to lay out the recipe for fat loss today!
There are 3 categories you have to address. Address all 3 and do so consistently over time and you will win. Guaranteed.
But fail to address all 3 categories and your chances of success are slim.
So what are the 3 categories?
Cardio and Daily Steps
I’m going to tell you what you should be doing with each category AND I’m going to explain what the benefit of each category is.
It’s important to Strength Train at least 2x per week for 45 minutes. Sometimes 2x per week is all you really need. That being said, some of you might benefit from training 3, 4, and on rare occasions even 5x per week! The important thing is training enough to create a stimulus but training little enough to allow recovery between workouts.
By the end of the week you want to have trained every muscle group at least once! This is almost always accomplished by doing some sort of Squat, Hinge, Push, and Pull exercise. Often times we’ll toss in some arm, shoulder, and ab exercises. But the primary goal should be using good form and getting as strong as possible on your “main lifts.” The lifts like Squats, Deadlifts, Bench Press, Press, and Rows.
It’s critical you understand WHY we Strength Train. Understanding the why guides your workouts and ensures you’re focusing on the right things. You can put 2 people through the same workout and achieve very different results based on their form, how they do each rep, and how much (or little) rest they’re taking between sets.
The goal of Strength Training is to build strength and muscle. That’s it!
The goal is not burning a bunch of calories. Though, fat loss is an indirect benefit of Strength Training.
The goal is building strength and muscle because that offers us a whole host of benefits. Some are fat loss related. Some are not. But all are awesome!
Strength Training will reduce stress. It gives us the lean, toned, defined look we want. It increases our energy and as a byproduct we move more during the day which does lead to fat loss. It also increases our metabolism (more fat loss- yay!) And it prevents injury. Nothing is worse for fat loss than getting injured!
As you can see there are a lot of downstream effects of Strength Training that lead to fat loss.
But it’s important when Strength Training that you not rush between sets or let your form get sloppy. Use great form every time. And focus on lifting as much weight as possible every set you do. And part of that requires taking plenty of rest between sets. It’s not uncommon to take 2-3 minutes rest between sets! More rest leads to being able to lift more which leads to more strength and muscle.
Everybody knows diet is important. That’s why there are a million diets out there. The problem is a lot of these diets are fad diets. Most are unsustainable, and most give you rules that…quite frankly…just don’t matter.
I’m going to make this very simple.
We focus on 4 main things when it comes to nutrition:
Here’s the deal.
Calories are for weight loss.
Protein is for body composition.
Eating real food is for health.
Balancing Carbs/Fats improves energy, health, and recovery.
When it comes to losing weight, the only thing that truly matters is your calorie intake. You have to eat fewer calories than you burn to lose weight. By under-consuming calories, your body has to pull the energy from somewhere in your body. Most of the time your body pulls this energy from fat. That’s exactly what fat stores are for!!
To drive my point home, you could literally eat nothing but 1,000 calories of twinkies per day and you would lose weight. Quickly. You could achieve your weight loss goals with twinkies alone.
Now this is a terrible idea to actually implement because you’re going to be hungry, have blood sugar highs and lows, and you’ll probably end up in the hospital due to lack of nutrition. BUT hopefully you see my point. Calories are what matter for weight loss.
Now the next layer is to make sure you’re eating enough protein. Combining a good protein intake with a good calorie intake ensures that you lose weight AND that most of the weight you lose is FAT and not muscle. This, in combination with Strength Training gives you the lean, toned, defined look you want.
In theory you could drink nothing but protein shakes, and eat nothing but candy bars, and as long as your calories and protein are dialed in and you’re strength training, you’ll end up with a really great physique. Seriously, you would! However, this would likely end up in another hospital visit due to a lack of good nutrition. So don’t try it!!
That’s why the 3rd thing to focus on is eating real food! Single ingredient food. Things like meat, fish, eggs, cheese, fruit, veggies, rice, potatoes, etc. Eat mostly these foods and minimize super processed foods like oreos and sodas. Eating plenty of real food keeps you full longer and stabilizes blood sugar which helps keep calories low. But it also provides plenty of nutrition so you can be healthy!! It’s no good looking great and being unhealthy.
Finally we focus on finding the right balance of carbs/fats. Now this will not give you some kind of special fat loss advantage. There’s nothing magical about reducing carbs or reducing fats. Calories and protein determine how much fat you lose!
But dialiing in the amount of carbs and fats you consume can help boost recovery, energy, and health. Generally speaking a moderate intake of carbs and fats is best. Carbs and fats both offer unique benefits to our health and energy levels. However some people do really well with a lower carb intake or a lower fat intake. This takes some experimentation but it’s worth figuring out what’s best for you!
Cardio and Daily Steps
Remember, calories are the #1 determining factor for weight loss. And protein plus strength training is the #1 determining factor of much fat loss. Doing cardio and getting plenty of daily steps definitely burns some extra calories, thus directly contributing to additional weight loss. However you typically don’t lose fat much faster directly from the added cardio/steps. The extra calories burned might lead to an extra 1-2 pounds of fat lost per month. That’s significant. But it’s nothing crazy! Especially compared to nutrition which can contribute to 4-10 pounds of fat lost per month.
So why do cardio?
Sure, you can do cardio for the benefit of faster fat loss from the extra calories burned.
BUT cardio and increasing daily steps offers a lot of benefits that indirectly help with fat loss! I’ve found when my clients and I are doing cardio and/or getting in plenty of steps we have more energy, faster recovery between workouts, and more stabile blood sugars. All of which allows me to eat less and Strength Train harder which leads to lots more fat lost!!
As you can see, there are unique fat loss benefits that Strength Training, Nutrition, and Cardio and Daily Steps offer. Do 1 and you’ll almost certainly fail in your pursuit of fat loss. Do 2 and your odds of success are better, but still not great. Do all 3 and you will absolutely, given enough time and consistency, hit your goals. I guarantee it.