by Paul Dexter, copyright dextertraining.com
Losing fat is not easy. It is a battle. If it was easy, everyone would look like a fitness model, right? I don’t think anyone has a spare tire or saddle bags by choice?
With that being understood, and fat loss is your goal, you should commit to it like a job, a chore, a war… because it is a battle!
I’m living proof that maintenance is not easy. I have done a dozen competitions and have had to lose between 50 and 75lbs every time. You may ask, “Paul, why did you make it so hard on yourself and put all that weight back on after you got yourself in the best shape of your life?!”.
The answer is simple……I LOVE PIZZA!
So, my point is, when I made up my mind to lose the weight – I committed to it, and did it. It is much harder to try to maintain it, because you switch gears and let yourself cheat here and there. I don’t compete anymore, but at least I’m not 50lbs over my ideal bodyweight any more either (moral victory J). But, to be honest…. I have been trying to lose 20 lbs for the last 5 years! I lose 15, gain 10, lose 5, gain 5, up, down, up down. Haven’t done it yet.
Even though I’m a fitness professional for a living, I’m not perfect. I sympathize with my clients and understand that it is hard eating good all week, and fight the temptation to “reward” myself on the weekends. Trust me, 2 bad days will ruin 5 good ones! Fortunately, I love to exercise (just the dieting that troubles me), and that does help me from gaining those extra unwanted pounds.
My clients have heard me say it a thousand times…. “working out is like brushing your teeth, you may not love it, but because of the consequences, you have to do it!” Staying consistent with your exercise program will not allow you to eat whatever you want, whenever you want, but it will give you slightly more room to give into temptation from time to time.
A great quote that provides the right mindset for fat-loss is the following…
“Fat loss is an all-out war. Give it a month- only a month. Attack it with all you have. It’s not a lifestyle choice; it’s a battle. Lose fat and then get back into moderation.”
It basically means….don’t be wishy-washy. You can’t diet for 5 days on and 2 days off. Just suck it up, work hard, focus, and reach your goal and then get back to moderation at your new weight.
The following are the 5 levels (with examples and proven research) on how to accomplish fat loss productively…..The Hierarchy of Fat Loss!
#1. Correct Nutrition.
Like I said before, there isn’t much that can be done to out-train a poor diet. You simply
create a caloric deficit while eating quality macro-nutrients. No way around it!
#2. See #1. (yes, it’s that important!)
#3. Activities that burn calories, maintain/ promote muscle mass, and elevate metabolism.
The bulk of our calories burned are determined by our resting metabolic rate (RMR). The amount of calories burned outside of our RMR (through exercise, thermal effect of feeding, etc.) is a smaller contributor to overall calories burned per day.
We can also accept that RMR is largely a function of how much muscle you have on your body- and how hard it works. Therefore, adding activities that promote or maintain muscle mass will make that muscle mass work harder and elevate the metabolic rate.
This is your number one training priority when developing a fat loss program.
Example- Metabolic Resistance Training… (strength training)– yes, the #1 way to burn fat is weight training, not cardio!!!!! (why?… re-read above).
Not only do you burn more calories during a weight training session, but it is the cumulative effect of the “after burn” post exercise and the increased metabolism as a result from getting stronger.
Studies have shown that metabolism will stay elevated as long as 38 hours post-workout!
Research- Study conducted in 2002, tested a full body workout that was completed in less than 60 minutes. Metabolism was elevated for 38 hours post-workout! If you trained from 9-10am on Monday morning…..you’re still burning more calories at midnight on Tuesday!
#4. Activities that burn calories and elevate metabolism.
These are activities that burn up calories and requires a “recovery process” that also requires more calories to be used even post-exercise.
Example #1- High Intensity Anaerobic Interval Training (anaerobic = HR above 80%).
Burns more calories than steady state cardio and elevates metabolism significantly more than other forms of cardio. Only downside is that it’s not easy!… Can’t throw an “Us Weekly” in front of you and just zone out while you catch up on the latest season of the “Bachelor”.
Research- Study conducted in 1994, compared 20 weeks of endurance training against 15 weeks of interval training. The interval group showed 9x greater subcutaneous fat loss than the endurance group! Interval training is proven to be a better tool in your fat loss arsenal.
High Intensity Aerobic Interval Training (aerobic= HR between 70%-80%).
Research- Study conducted in 2006 showed that High Intensity Aerobic Interval Training increases the capacity for fat oxidation. Meaning, it is not as productive as the above example of Anaerobic Interval Training, but proves that it does “upregulate” our fat burning enzymes.
#5. Activities that burn calories but don’t necessarily maintain muscle or elevate metabolism.
This is the least effective tool in your arsenal. These are activities that burn minimal calories while doing them, don’t have any effect on metabolism, and stops burning calories once the exercise session has stopped.
Steady State High Intensity Aerobic Training. This is just hard cardio work.
You are burning calories, but nothing to increase metabolic rate, or caloric expenditure once exercise is done. But, calories do count…. So, better than nothing.
Steady State Low Intensity Aerobic Training. Bottom of the totem pole for fat loss. Just everyday activities, like walking dog, gardening, etc. Doesn’t burn many calories, and will definitely not increase metabolic rate, or caloric expenditure when done.
Research- There hasn’t been any studies to show any post-exercise benefit of any form of Steady State Cardio Training. But, it burns calories (albeit minimal) while you are doing it, and burning calories does add up on a weekly basis. Not your top choice, but helps in the grand scheme of things.
The most important study that makes my point is one that was conducted in 1999. Overweight subjects were assigned to 3 groups:
The diet only group lost 14.6 lbs of fat in 12 weeks.
The diet plus aerobic group lost only one more pound (15.6).
The diet plus aerobics and weights lost 21.1 lbs of fat!
That’s almost 50% more fat loss than the other two groups! The proof has been laid out for you. Not only should weight training be the cornerstone of your fat loss program, but you can’t neglect your nutrition or the intensity of your cardiovascular work.
Time is something all of us can use more of. So with time being so limited…. Don’t you want the most “bang for your buck” when it comes to losing fat?
So, follow these steps for the most productive methods of fat burning.
Please don’t hesitate to ask myself or your trainer for a properly “designed” program that fits your needs!