According to formal, dictionary definition, the term ‘fitness’ means “good health, especially good physical condition resulting from exercise and proper nutrition.” And yet, many of us perceive fitness as something purely training-related, dropping the nutrition part entirely.


As famous Vince Gironda, known as “The Iron Guru”, used to say, “Fitness is 80% nutrition!” Can we really measure the impact of each factor in such a precise manner? Probably not, and why would we, given that n reality, you absolutely cannot separate nutrition and training, no matter what kind of goals you’ve set for yourself.

You can’t expect an expensive, top notch race car to run on crappy fuel – it will eventually break down just because of that, no matter how well it was engineered and put together originally.

The same applies to your body – if you’re fuelling yourself with low-quality foods, do not expect to perform well physically or mentally, as imbalanced diet always fails to address our needs appropriately. In other words, good nutrition is a foundation for a happy, healthy life, connecting body and mind and helping you succeed.

Staying healthy, energetic, productive and positive is especially important if you are trying to loose some weight, as this kind of journey requires dedication, revising the majority of your habits and overcoming a lot of difficulties. A healthy, nourishing, satisfying diet is a must to keep you on track.

Putting together an appropriate fat loss nutrition plan can be tricky – that’s why we’ve put this step by step guide together for you. It’s not just your regular guide though, as we proudly present to you the ultimate fat loss pyramid! Much like foundation, pyramids are built from the ground up. Start from the bottom level and gradually work your way up – and you’ll hit your goals in no time.

If you have any questions, make sure to contact your personal trainer for help and even more weight management tips.

Step 1: Create a Calorie Deficit

When it comes to fat loss, everything ultimately revolves around a simple “calories in vs calories out” concept. Basically, in order to shed kilos, you need to expand more energy than you consume – which, in fancier terms, means you need to create a calorie deficit [1].

But maintaining the right level of calorie deficit may be tricky, as there is a thin line between prompting your body to start using it’s own resources and depriving yourself of important nutrients and energy. Being overly eager and consuming less than you need for baseline functioning is a very bad idea in a long run, as this is simply not sustainable.

An appropriate calorie deficit is roughly 300-700 calories a day, leading to safe, sustainable weight loss of up to 1.5 pounds a week. Don’t attempt to speed up the process, as it increases the risk of muscle loss and undermines your hard work.

To calculate how much you need, first you need to establish your base metabolic rate – these days it’s easy thanks to freely available online software (e.g. http://www.bodybuilding.com/fun/macronutrients_calculator.htm). Keep in mind, however, that the numbers you’ll get are only estimates, as all bodies are slightly different. Monitor your weight closely in the next 7-10 days – if it drops slightly (see the guidelines above), you’re right where you want to be. Otherwise, adjust accordingly.

Step 2 Calculate Your Macros

Now that you’ve established how much you need to consume, it’s time for a reality check – calculating your energy intake. We get our energy from three main macronutrients, or simply macros – carbohydrates, protein, and fats [2]. Using the calculator we’ve recommended above, you’ll get a pretty good starting point for those.

Also, by tweaking the calculator you’ll notice that “Maintenance” and “Fat Loss” modes are very different in terms of calories and macros, which is consistent with what we’ve discussed earlier. You may also notice an interesting thing if you compare the two closer – while fat and carbs drop, protein intake stays intact, even if your goal is weight loss.

Maintaining appropriate protein intake of around 0.8-1.25 grams per pound of body weight is extremely important to minimise unwanted muscle wastage while boosting fat loss [3].

Don’t go overboard and keep yourself within limits though – if you had more protein than required, compensate by consuming less carbs or fats on that day. If you want to fine-tune the numbers you get from the calculator further, adjust them to an optimal weight loss 35% protein/40% carbs/25% fat energy providing ratio, keeping in mind that:

  • 1 g of protein provides 4 kcal/17 kJ
  • 1 g of carbs provides 4 kcal/17 kJ
  • 1 g of fat provides 9 kcal/37 kJ

Calculating energy intake and macros can get a little inconvenient and overwhelming, but doing this is a very good idea – at least at the start. Over time, especially if your diet remains more or less consistent, you’ll be able to estimate your intake without using the calculator as much – we promise.

 

Step 3 Manipulate Your Training

Now that the nutrition part is sorted, it’s time to adjust your training to achieve the best possible results. The following strategies will speed up your progress in no time:

  • Using compound exercises. The fancy term hides a simple concept – compound exercises are those that use multiple muscle groups at the same time, unlike isolated exercises. Using several muscle groups simultaneously boosts metabolism and triggers a cascade of anabolic hormones, making this type of exercises excellent for weight loss [4].

  • Periodization programs. To achieve consistent progress, you need to train consistently. By using periodization programs – which simply means planning and cycling training sessions – you will optimize the workload, avoid injuries and battle overtraining [5].

  • HIIT Training. HIIT stands for high intensity interval training, which involves performing high impact exercises continuously for short periods (usually up to 1 minute) with little to no breaks between the bouts. This approach will sure make you sweat and lose fat much faster compared to steady state cardio.

  • Personal Training. If there is any shortcut to reaching your goals, it’s definitely personal training. A professional personal coach will help you achieve any goals you have much faster by developing an individualized routine, providing ongoing motivation and support when you need it and giving you amazing tips based on latest evidence! It doesn’t get better than that.

Step 4 Supplement for Fat Loss and Energy

Between high intensity training and calorie restrictions, it’s extremely hard to recover adequately – especially given you’re likely to have other stressors attacking you in everyday life. To overcome these difficulties and even speed things up a little, you may want to consider additional supplementation.

We are not talking about random drugstore weight loss pills – those are usually more harm than good. However, there are some scientifically proven supplementation options widely recommended by knowledgeable personal trainers:

Caffeine. Nice and simple, caffeine is an excellent pre-workout supplement. High quality caffeine supplements have been demonstrated to improve the rate of fat breakdown and reduce perceived exertion during exercise [6].

Green Tea. In addition to benefits of caffeine (green tea contains quite a lot!), EGCG, the primary ingredient in green tea extract, has been shown to considerably boost metabolic rate [7]. For even greater results, unless you have medical contraindications, consider combining green tea extract with another caffeine-containing supplement.

L-carnitine is a substance synthesised in the body from the amino acids lysine and methionine. Additional supplementation of L-carnitine has been demonstrated to promote rapid fat loss [8], so it’s a good idea to add this wonderful supplement to your arsenal.

BCAA stands for branched chain amino acids, and this is one of the most researched supplements on the market. This is an excellent, well-proven aid for muscle mass maintenance while you are working on melting fat, and ingesting this supplement will also prevent muscle soreness [9].

Conclusion

Achieving fat loss requires a lot of initial strategic planning, but the further you get in the program, the easier the journey becomes. Just stick to your goals and keep building your fat loss pyramid, and all the obstacles will be defeated!

References

1.         Norris, S.L., et al., Long-term effectiveness of lifestyle and behavioral weight loss interventions in adults with type 2 diabetes: a meta-analysis. The American journal of medicine, 2004. 117(10): p. 762-774.

2.         Calculate Your Macronutrients Intake! Bodybuilding.com, 2016.

3.         Phillips, S.M. and L.J. Van Loon, Dietary protein for athletes: from requirements to optimum adaptation. Journal of sports sciences, 2011. 29(sup1): p. S29-S38.

4.         Rini, D., Compound Vs. Isolation Exercises. Bodybuilding.com, 2014.

5.         Strohacker, K., et al., The use of periodization in exercise prescriptions for inactive adults: A systematic review. Prev Med Rep, 2015. 2: p. 385-96.

6.         Arciero, P.J., et al., Influence of age on the thermic response to caffeine in women. Metabolism, 2000. 49(1): p. 101-107.

7.         Nagao, T., T. Hase, and I. Tokimitsu, A green tea extract high in catechins reduces body fat and cardiovascular risks in humans. Obesity, 2007. 15(6): p. 1473-1483.

8.         Center, S.A., et al., The Clinical and Metabolic Effects of Rapid Weight Loss in Obese Pet Cats and the Influence of Supplemental Oral L‐Carnitine. Journal of Veterinary Internal Medicine, 2000. 14(6): p. 598-608.

9.         Ra, S.-G., et al., Additional effects of taurine on the benefits of BCAA intake for the delayed-onset muscle soreness and muscle damage induced by high-intensity eccentric exercise, in Taurine 8. 2013, Springer. p. 179-187.