When it comes to fat loss, there is no one perfect program; no blanket approach that is going to work for everyone. There are a lot of different methods out there that will get you results.
And while many different fat loss programs work, the best ones all share common traits that make them stand above the rest. When creating or searching for a program, these are the traits you have to look for:
The Ten Commandments of Fat Loss
- Thou shall be in a caloric deficit. Anyone who says you can lose fat without being in a caloric deficit either doesn’t know any better or is trying to sell you something. YOU CANNOT LOSE FAT WITHOUT BEING IN A CALORIC DEFICIT. End of story. It doesn’t matter how clean you eat, or how hard you paleo, if you are not taking in fewer calories than you burn, you will not lose fat.
- Thou shall eat your protein and veggies. When it comes to fat loss, prioritizing the consumption of lean protein and high fiber veggies will go a long way towards helping you reach your goals. Both are highly satiating, so they will help keep you fuller and blunt hunger. This leads to less snacking, eating less at meals, and consuming fewer calories overall.
- Thou shall not fear fat. For years fat was vilified and made out to be the Darth Vader of our health. Thankfully, we know now that this is not true, and fat is actually essential for our bodies to function.
Fat is an essential player when it comes to hormone production, especially testosterone production. Fat is also responsible for regulating things like blood pressure, inflammation, vitamin absorption, and assists in brain function.
- Thou shall not fear carbs. Carbs have now replaced fat as the cause of obesity. Many “experts” say if you want to lose fat, just cut out carbs and BOOM, instant fat loss. But the problem is, carbohydrates actually provide our body with a ton of benefits.
When broken down in the body, carbs are converted to glycogen, and stored in the muscles, liver and brain. These stores help fuel the muscles for physical activity and help aid in brain function. Plus carbohydrates make up some the tastier foods out there so why would you want to cut them out?
- Thou shall lift heavy-ass weights. For fat loss, just being physically active is important. However, for optimal fat loss, lifting heavy weights is more important.
If you are trying to lose fat, in addition to being in a caloric deficit, you should be resistance training a minimum of two days per week. And when I say resistance training, I don’t mean arms and abs. I mean doing large, compound, multi-joint exercises like the squat, deadlift, bench press, overhead press, rows and chin-ups.
These movements work the most muscle, burn the most calories and provide huge hormonal benefits such as an increase in testosterone and growth hormone, both of which help build muscle and burn fat.
- Thou shall be flexible. The downfall of most diets is that they are too rigid and ban you from eating certain foods. The problem with outlawing certain foods, for most people, is it just makes you crave them more. By being flexible with your diet and allowing yourself to have treats or your favorite foods occasionally, you make the diet much more enjoyable, less stressful, and easier to stick with.
- Thou shall not do crash diets, detoxes, cleanses or fixes. These are money-grubbing scams that are not necessary, sustainable, healthy, safe, nor teach you anything about how to eat and maintain a healthy diet. Don’t do them!
- Thou shall manage your expectations. Most people want to lose weight and they want to lose it yesterday. Unfortunately, too many people fall victim to diets that promise you can “Lose 30 pounds in 30 days” or something like that.
For most people a reasonable rate of pure fat loss is 1-2 pounds per week. Any more than that and you risk losing muscle as well as fat. It may not seem like a lot, but fat loss is a marathon, not a sprint. Slow fat loss is not only more sustainable but will make keeping the weight off easier.
- Thou shall be forgiving. No one is perfect. You are going to screw up at some point. You may eat a bit too much one day. You may miss a workout or two. It happens. Trying to be perfect all the time will just stress you out and make it that much harder to reach your goals. It’s important to realize that if you are consistent in your diet and training efforts, the occasional screw up will not hurt your progress.
- Thou shall live your life. One of the first things I tell my clients when they sign up to work with me is that a diet and training program should compliment your life, not control it. Yes, you will have to make some lifestyle changes if you want to lose fat. But that doesn’t mean you have to give up everything fun and awesome either.
You can go out to eat with family, or grab drinks with friends. You can go on vacation without worrying about if you can train or not. If you’re miserable because you are always concerned about working out or your diet, you probably aren’t going to be able to stick to your program anyway. Allowing yourself some freedom will go a long way.