The ONLY Way to Lose Body Fat and How to Start
Keto, paleo, the whole 30, weight watchers, low carb, the mediteranean diet, atkins, the carnivore diet, the military diet, and the list goes on and on. The number of “diets” out there is endless and chances are you have tried at least one of these, and maybe even had a little success too.
All of these claim to work and to be the end all of your diet woes but each of these come with their own set of restrictions and how to’s that can cause some headache and not be as effortless or as easy as they claim to be. Most often than not they are not sustainable long term and more restrictive than they are effective. There seem to have too many rules.
I’m here to tell you that dropping those extra pounds and feeling better in your body doesn’t have to be so complicated. It’s quite simple actually!
The MAGICAL answer you’ve been waiting for...
A calorie deficit. Yes. It is that SIMPLE.
I know, I know you are probably screaming that it can be that easy but it actually is. I’m living proof of that.
I spent years in and out of fad diets, supplement stores and weight loss clinics looking for the “answer”. Only to regain what I lost each time. I managed to lose 140lb (still going!) just by being in a calorie deficit, making healthier choices and exercising. No BS here babe.
The magical answer to your weight loss problems is calories in vs calories out. The ONLY way you can burn body fat is burning more calories that you take in through food. Of course, there are many factors that can affect the rate at which you burn those calories such as hormone issues, past dieting history, medical conditions, injury, etc. These issues may make it more difficult but not impossible, and may require more advanced help but either way you still need to be in a deficit.
The simple truth is that it doesn’t matter what method you use like any of the above diets, as long as you are in calorie deficit, you will burn body fat.
Now keep in mind, not every method is created equal and you do have to pay attention to which method works best for your lifestyle and what your body responds best to. Some individuals prefer a ketogenic diet (significantly high fat, moderate protein and extremely low carbs), Paleo or just keeping their protein/fat/carb ratios fairly equal. Again, it really doesn’t matter which of these you choose, just as long as you burn more than you consume.
So now you may be wondering, how do you find out what those numbers are? You may have to do a little math but just for keeping things fairly simple, here is the EASIEST way to get started.
Track your current daily intake.
To get an estimate of how many calories you are taking in, you will need to track your food intake for 3-5 days. You can use a simple tracking app like My Fitness Pal, or Macros+. Make sure it is as accurate as possible. Don’t adjust it to be “healthier” because you are tracking. Keep it real and honest. This doesn’t mean you have to weigh everything, just search for the food and put in how much you ate of that food (for example, if you ate a cup of almonds, track 1cup almonds).
To get the best result, weighing and measuring would be helpful to get a more accurate idea but not necessary.
After you have tracked a few days, take the average of that week. So if you see that you mostly eat around 3,000 calories, you will use 3,000 calories as your starting point.
How much of a deficit?
Science shows that in order to burn 1lb of body fat a week you must be in a calorie deficit of 3500 calories over the week. That works out roughly 500 calories a day less you would need to consume in order to lose 1lb of body fat a week. If you wanted to lose 2lb, it would be 1000 calories less per day. Now, 1000 calorie deficit right off the bat is pretty extreme (unless you are morbidly obese), and we don’t want to restrict ourselves too soon. We should be able to continue our fat loss phase for a period of time, so calorie reduction should be done slowly.
This is where exercise comes in. We burn calories by eating less and moving more. So if 2lb a week is your goal, that means you need to burn an extra 500 calories right? So get moving! Walking for 1 hour a day, a bootcamp class, or my preferred method, weight training, will increase your deficit. So that means you've reduced your calorie consumption by 500 calories, and now you have increased your deficit by aprox 500 calories through exercise. Boom, you created a 1000 calorie deficit in a healthy non restrictive way.
Now let us do the math based on those numbers.
How much protein, fats and carbs?
When I am creating macros for my clients, I like to do the long math way because it gives me the most accurate macros for that person and a little intuition is involved. It’s pretty in depth procedure, to keep your eyes from burning I’ll explain to you an even easier way to get you going.
Remember that tracking app? You’ll need it. Depending on the app you use it may be a little different in figuring this out, but for the sake of this article we will use MyFitnessPal as our example.
Take the calories you calculated by your weekly average minus the 500 calories. In our example we used 3,000 calories minus 500 equals 2500 calories as our starting calorie deficit via nutrition.
In the app there is a special section that allows you to change the ratios of protein, fats and carbs depending on your preference. If you like to eat more carbs in your diet you can do that, if you like more fat based you can adjust it. The one thing that will always stay the same until you drop in weight, is your protein. For females, your protein should be around .8g-1g of protein per pound of body weight. We will use .8g here. If you weigh 200lb you would multiply 200 x 0.8 = 160g protein. You would then divide the rest of your calories between fats and carbs depending on your tastes.
Make sure to enter your deficit calories, set your protein as close as you can to your target protein goal and then use the app macro percentage dial to divide the rest of your calories between fats and carbs.
Keep in mind this is just your STARTING macros. Your nutrition is very trial and error. This will give you a baseline to start with and then you can adjust until your body responds. In order for this to work you must be consistent with eating at these calories for 2 weeks without cheats and junk. It is important to see how these macro ratios work for you to get an accurate idea of what to change.
My suggestion is to continue using the app to track your calories so that you can have an idea of how those foods affect your progress. This will also help you determine what to adjust down the road (that is a blog post for another day). If you find you are bloating or having stomach issues after eating certain foods, you’ll be able to see a pattern in what your body has intolerance to.
*note about MyFitnessPal: the app will try to calculate your macros for you and make sure you turn off the function to add your exercise calories back in to your daily total in the settings. You don’t want to eat the calories you burned during exercise because that would cancel them out and your rate of fat loss will be slower.
During this time you will also increase your calorie deficit you will also have to increase your physical activity. If you were sedentary before, any form of activity will work. Walking, swimming, biking, elliptical, etc. Just get moving! If you are already active, keep your activity level during the 2 weeks, and see how your body responds to your new nutrition. If no changes in 2 weeks of consistency, then bump up your activity by 5-10mins on your active days, or add in an extra day of activity.
At the starting Line… again!
For many of you if you were like me, this isn’t the first time you’ve attempted fat loss but hopefully this information has helped you understand that weight loss and getting healthy isn’t as complicated as it seems. The weight loss industry is a billion dollar industry that thrives on the general public’s lack of knowledge with nutrition and exercise. Their business models rely on you failing in your attempts so that you keep coming back looking for “The Secret”. All of these diets and companies do have one thing in common is the high rebound affect of fat regain after the program ends. While these companies, diet programs, and clinics make it look easy and effortless, their methods are actually far more restrictive than the simple method we talked about today which has been proven time and time again to WORK. Short cuts are meant for short term success but will have long term negative affects on your health, putting you in a worse position than when you started every single time you attempt them.
Hopefully, if I have done my job correctly here, I have helped you see there is no magic secret. Just good old fashioned science, consistency, hard work and accountability whether that is to yourself, a loved one or your coach.
I won’t sugar coat that no matter what losing weight and getting healthy isn’t an easy feat with temptation in our faces every single day. This does take work, and consistency but you just have to START. There is always a solution. If you don’t see results right away, it doesn’t mean it’s not working, it means there are other factors that may need to be addressed.
If you find you have disordered eating I highly suggest reaching out for advanced help or if you require accountability and 1:1 guidance you can contact me through the contact page on my website.
Your Boss Babe in Health,
*Disclaimer: the information in this article is not intended for individuals with medical conditions that may inhibit weight loss. If you suffer from diabetes, thyroid issues please consult with your physician first before attempting any nutrition plan or adhere to the guidelines of your registered dietician.
Jana Roller is a CFES Certified Personal Trainer & Certified Fitness Nutritionist.