Today begins a 3-part series introduction to fat loss. (Edit from the fuure: The blog gets a little long mathy/sciency, be ready to calculate some numbers to figure out what your metabolism looks like)
The purpose of my focus for the next month is going to be focused on weight loss while kick starting your metabolism. Here’s my personal experience. My initial motivation when I started training was to look like Rocky. I was a pudgy little athlete who had no idea how to pick up weights but I could have probably beat you in video games. I decided one day I wanted a shredded physique with abs that could take a punch. The drive to become ripped and see abs sort of became an obsession. It started innocent enough – eating healthy foods, more protein, lifting weights, doing cardio. I kept finding myself staying strict but never saw the ripped obliques, the awesome serratus anterior definition and had the hardest time figuring out how to drop bodyfat.
I like to experiment. I’ve gone paleo, I’ve done intermittent fasting and I enjoy being a lab rat. And here are some pictures of when I got skinny. And below that is how I figured it out.
It is a confusing world out there. What to eat, when to eat, how to eat. The world is a clusterf*ck of confusing discussion and broscience. For each article out there touting the effectiveness of a specific diet, there’s an equally confusing article describing the ill effects of adapting that same diet.
Cut the BS. I’m tired of the 21-day fixes. The gluten-free diets. The cayenne pepper and sugar water is not sustainable and most of all, not going fix your relationship with food.
Nutrition and diet begins with your goals. Your body. What are you doing to it and where do you want to go with it? Are you looking to lose weight? Put on muscle? Or a little bit of both?
It starts with metabolism. Simply put, metabolism is the act of your body breaking down, storing and using nutrients. Your metabolism is specific to you – each individual has a different metabolism than the next and a lot of that is dependent on the food choices we make. Some people are seriously sensitive to sugar, some to eggs. Some people can’t handle fiber well while you see others eat McDonald’s cheeseburgers for a shredded 6-pack. Each person breaks down and utilizes energy in a unique way. That said, there are some nearly universal truths when it comes to life and metabolism. Your first step begins with what you take in…
How to Calculate your Energy needs
A few different factors come into play when you are calculating the number of Calories your body needs. They include gender (males burn more than females due to different muscle mass and hormone release), age(younger folks burn more than older) and activity levels (The more you move, the more your body needs). The three ways you burn energy are through your basal metabolic rate(your body’s energy needs purely to sustain life – 60-70% of your daily expenditure), the thermic effect of food (the process of digesting food – 10-15% of your daily expenditure) and the energy expenditure of your physical activity (30-40% of your daily expenditure).
To calculate your body’s energy needs, start with the following equation:
BMR = 66 + (6.23 x weight in pounds) + (12.7 x height in inches) – (6.8 x age in years)
BMR = 655 + (4.35 x weight in pounds) + (4.7 x height in inches) – (4.7 x age in years)
The number you come up with is an estimate of your total Caloric needs if your body was at rest 24/7 and ate zero food. In order to get a realistic estimate of your daily total, use the number you got and multiply it by one of the following factors:
Sedentary. Little to no exercise Daily calories needed = BMR x 1.2
Mild activity level: Intensive exercise for at least 20 minutes 1 to 3 times per week. This may include such things as bicycling, jogging, basketball, swimming, skating, etc. If you do not exercise regularly, but you maintain a busy life style that requires you to walk frequently for long periods, you meet the requirements of this level. Daily calories needed = BMR x 1.3 – 1.375
Moderate activity level: Intensive exercise for at least 30 to 60 minutes 3 to 4 times per week. Daily calories needed=BMR x 1.5
Heavy or (Labor-intensive) activity level: Intensive exercise for 60 minutes or greater 5 to 7 days per week (see sample activities above). Labor-intensive occupations also qualify for this level. Labor-intensive occupations include construction work (brick laying, carpentry, general labor, etc.). Also farming, landscape worker or similar occupations. Daily calories needed = BMR x 1.7
Extreme level: Exceedingly active and/or very demanding activities: Examples include: athlete with an almost unstoppable training schedule with multiple training sessions throughout the day or a very demanding job, such as shoveling coal or working long hours on an assembly line. Generally, this level of activity is very difficult to achieve. Daily calories needed = BMR x 1.9
When you get your number, write it down. This is the estimated amount of Calories your body consumes on a daily basis. If you eat more than that number, you will gain weight. If you eat less than that number, you will lose weight. I recommend a deficit or surplus of 500-1,000 pounds per day for weight loss as well as weight gain. Keep track.
Macro-nutrients are the substrates plugged into processes that allow you to eat, sleep, breathe and move. They make up the Calories we put in our bodies, each with a specific purpose when it comes to your daily movements and processes. When your body demands energy, your body runs through either Anaerobic metabolism (doesn’t use oxygen) or aerobic metabolism (uses oxygen). Carbohydrate, fat and protein are the only truly useful macro-nutrients that can be plugged into either of these processes. (another macronutrient does exist – Alcohol. It can be used but since you are reading this, you need to know that alcohol use is counterproductive to making your body a fat burning machine).
Macronutrient can measured in Calories – our favorite unit of energy.
Protein – 1 Gram = 4 Calories
Protein simplified is the basic building block of cells in your body. Your body doesn’t to use protein as a fuel source. It can, but it is only responsible for 5-10% of your energy expenditure on a daily basis. When your body does use it too much as a source of energy, muscle will waste from your body and will have a negative effect on recovery as well as bodyfat. Overconsumption can also have a bit of an impact on the kidneys, so don’t adopt a protein only diet.
Protein is in charge of repair when muscle gets broken down, has a great ability to help you feel full and is VERY important when it comes to recovery. The recommended amount of protein (on the high end) for individuals is anywhere from 1.2-1.7 grams per kilogram of desired lean body mass (NSCA). There have been studies that show supplementing your protein around your workout increases fat free mass (muscle and lean tissue) compared to ingesting at different times or all at once. So after you crush a hard HIIT/strength session be sure to nab a shake or some kind of fast-digesting protein (whey and egg protein are the best – do a google search for proteins high in leucine).
Carbohydrate – 1 Gram = 4 Calories
Carbs simplified are your main source of energy. Carbs break down into sugar. The two types of sugar we store are in our muscle (called muscle glycogen) and in our liver as glucose. When you go through a tough strength workout, your body utilizes the muscle glycogen first. It runs through either anaerobic or aerobic metabolism then sends a signal to release glucose after the glycogen stores begin to get depleted. There is a saying that resonated with me throughout school when we were understanding the Krebs Cycle – ‘Fat burns in a carbohydrate flame’. Simply put, you should consume carbohydrate relative to your day’s activity levels. If you hit a hard training session earlier in the day, don’t be afraid to eat a crap ton of fruit, veggies, sweet potatoes, etc.
Carbs are hugely important in recovery. After exercise, you should concoct a mixture that contains a 4:1 ratio of carbohydrate to protein. Carb choice post-workout should be something high in the glycemic index – some type of simple sugar that your body will easily absorb. My recommendation would be to blend some fruit, throw in a scoop of protein powder and chug. That or a glass of chocolate milk.
Fat – 1 Gram = 9 Calories
Fat is the most calorically dense macro nutrient of the three. It contains the most Calories per gram, meaning that it’s easy to take in a lot more energy with a higher relative fat consumption. With that said, fats are generally in charge of hormone release, assist greatly in energy expenditure and are vitally important in carrying out an efficient metabolism. There is a great push toward eating Omega 3 fatty acids – fats that actually help in burning fat, lowering blood pressure as well as cholesterol. Keep track of fat consumption – when you have a rest day, lean toward a higher fat, lower carb diet for the day.
With all this information, my brain starts to fatigue. It gets much deeper. But I don’t want to go too far down the rabbit hole. If you take home one message from the former, ALL OF THIS MATTERS!
In summation, the following are some action points I have set up to help you lose weight and fat.
1)Calculate your body’s energy needs. If you goal is to lose weight, choose a Calorie count 500-1,000 Calories per day less than your calculated energy demands.
2)Log your food for a least a week. Quantity, quality and Calories need to be known. If you don’t want to count Calories in the long run that’s ok. But you HAVE to hold yourself accountable for a period of time in order to see change.
3)Energy expenditure on a given day should dictate carbohydrate and fat consumption. If you are going to be hitting the gym hard, a higher carb, lower fat day is necessary. If you are taking the day off, go for lower carb consumption and a slightly higher fat count for the day.
4)Be consistent. Plan your foods, plan your days and be prepared. I had a client who lost half of her bodyweight because she didn’t allow herself any excuses. She literally carried around cans of sardines in case she had to go somewhere or do something unexpected! Think about the excuses you can make and prepare yourself to battle the excuses relentlessly.
5)Be realistic. Sure, you can lose 50 pounds in 25 days in theory, but should you? Prepare for the long run and keep your focus on the next day/week/month of programing!
Comment, ask questions and hit me up with suggestions!!