Losing Body Fat
This article is aimed towards a specific audience--the overweight and obese (e.g. those with body fat percentages in the mid 20s and higher). First off, let's be honest with yourself and each other. You are fat because you eat too much. You don't have a slow metabolism, you're just eating too much, plain and simple. Now, you're reading this because you're at least toying with the idea of doing something about it. Congratulations! Admitting you have a problem is the first step to recovery. The reason(s) for obesity is no different than most addictions. Get that through your head and get it through now. Your cravings for a double cheeseburger and fries are a lot like a smack head dreaming of that next hit.
Is my goal it put you down or make fun of you? No and far from it. My goal throughout this post and many posts to come is to help you lose body fat by providing you with fitness calculators and solid advice from someone who has done it first hand. Moreover, you're going to take it off, keep it off, and become stronger in the process. And guess what? You don't have to shell out your hard earned bucks to do it, you're going to get some free non-sense education from someone with first hand experience. In my opinion, the main culprit for widespread obesity is ignorance. Many people think they'll have to run their asses off in the gym for hours or eat nothing but salads to lose fat and that's just plain wrong.
The Secret to Losing Body Fat
Eat less and move more! Is that not what you wanted to find? Well, that's what it's going to take to lose that excess fat. However, the secret is how much less and how much more. To uncover this secret we have to look at how the body works. I think many people take this for granted and don't stop to think about what happens when you move, eat, etc. I consider myself a fairly intelligent person but somehow I still managed to get up to ~40% body fat by age 24. This must be due to losing sight (for one reason or another) of what was really going on with my body. Put simply, your body is an engine. You give it fuel (food) and it performs some tasks (moving, thinking, sleeping, etc.). So, that's how your body works in a very easy to swallow way. But what's fat? Why and how is it stored? Put this in your mind and keep it there: fat is stored excess energy. Years of evolution (or a very intelligent creator, whatever you believe, I don't care) has caused our bodies to adapt. Our bodies need fuel but its fuel source (food) may not always be around so our body essentially says "Hey, I don't know if I am going to have access to food the next time I need, I only need *this* much for now, I'll store the rest for later!" Now say hello to your love handles. There'll be (very near) future articles that talk about how the body utilizes and stores fat and why some macronutrients (protein, protein, protein) should be heavily favored during fat loss efforts but for now all you need to know is fat is stored energy. Also, a quick distinction here: the macronutrient Fat IS NOT the fat in your body. Fat is stored excess energy and it doesn't matter if your excess comes from protein, carbohydrates or fats, you will still gain fat in your body. Each macronutrient is important (as I will write about later) and shouldn't be skipped.
So, now you know that fat is stored energy for your body and it was created because you were in a calorie surplus. Let's apply some logic here: I ate more than my body required so I put on fat. If I eat less than my body requires, will I lose fat? You bet your fat ass you will! When you consume fewer calories than your body requires you are in a calorie deficit and your body looks to fat stores as an energy source. Now to the ever important question: "How much?" Lots of people say there's no magic formula but there actually is, sort of. There was a very interesting study done which shows that your maximum calorie deficit with minimal muscle loss is approximately 30 calories/pound of body fat. I'm going to spare you the scientific research and study data (if you care that much, you'll find it on your own) but that's the answer to "how much?". Just apply some simple arithmetic to your stats and you'll have your target calorie deficit. But this isn't the end of it. To get this number and for it to be useful, you have to be able to accurately estimate your calorie needs as well as your body fat percentage. Take a look at the fitness calculators I have written to get a good idea of some of your stats.
Diet is key, Cardio is Optional
Finally some good news from The Cyco! And despite what anyone else tells you, it's very true. You do not need to do insane amounts of cardio to burn fat when you're significantly overweight. Let's apply some deductive reasoning here. Let's assume Joe Fatbody is 30% body fat. He looks pretty bad but honestly is probably smaller than 1 out of 4 at any diner in America. Think about what "30% body fat" means. It means that when you take Joe's total weight including water, organs, and complete skeleton, 30% of that weight is nothing but fat (stored energy). How does the body look at this when it's in a calorie deficit? It sees free fuel! This is why it's very easy to burn fat the higher your body fat percentage. As your body fat percentage decreases, you burn less fat in comparison but about the same relative to body fat content. As you get leaner, your calorie requirements decrease and therefore you then have to supplement fat burning efforts with some cardio. But, you can go from looking like total crap to looking pretty decent by doing nothing but eating less. A small caveat, though. Cardio is optional for fat loss while you're significantly overweight, true. However, it does promote an overall healthy and fit lifestyle and that's what is important here--a lifestyle change. What you read from me will not be a quick fix, it will not be a fad diet, it will however be a roadmap to success.
You know how the body works and why you're storing fat. You know what you need to do and you have a good idea how to do it. Next, I'll be writing about diet/fat burning specifics and some sample meal plans I use myself as well as some ideas of small things you can cut from or replace in your every day diet that add up to some large results.