Read time: 5-minute read

I am going to start this article by telling you that losing weight is generally not that hard.

But, how do you keep it off? I want to help you understand the foundations, as this is where the problems come in.

We often hear the term ‘all diets fail’, or ‘diets don’t work’. Diets do work, it’s our approach that is the problem, as we often lean on quick fix solutions, trying to lose the weight as soon as possible. Other issues that arise are; 

  • We don’t intend on maintaining the lifestyle once the diet is ‘over’
  • We simply can’t’ maintain what we are doing once it’s ‘over’
  • We lost more weight than we needed to, and now the body is concerned about your safety (a competition prep, for example), 
  • We lost weight too quickly or pushed calories too low, and now the body is concerned for your safety, or 
  • We didn’t work on the underlying issues whilst doing the diet, so the behaviour that led us to becoming overweight returns as soon as the diet is done. 

So the problem is not in the diet.. The problem is perpetual dieting, a lack of personal growth and leaning on quick-fix solutions that add more stress to the body overall, and diets that make us so miserable that we can’t wait to get off them.

Now that you know why they ‘don’t work’, let’s look at what is essential for all fat-loss processes to be successful.

We will start with how to lose weight if you’re just aiming for general weight loss – that is, you just want to be smaller, and are not concerned with muscularity in the end.

If you are concerned with looking lean and muscular, and want to build a body that looks strong and fit, then all these principles apply, but there are an additional two tips I will cover afterwards.

What do we need to focus on if we are to lose fat, and keep it off? 

A healthy metabolism

This is the number one thing – your metabolism needs to be healthy. Without a healthy metabolism, fat loss is impossible and if it is, a metabolism can turn on you and your body goals, causing you to put all the weight back on.

There are two ways you can ‘damage’ a metabolism; 

  • Excessive dieting, and
  • Excessive stress

If you have dieted your whole life, then it is likely that your body believes itself to be in a famine, that is – undernourished and starving for food. This can also happen if your diet is high in junk food, as you aren’t getting your essential proteins and fats (not I didn’t say essential carbs, as I hate to break it to you, they aren’t essential). If you want to know more about this topic, read the article, or check out this video.

If you have excessive stress, this disrupts your hormones, which include hunger and satiety hormones, and can disrupt your gut. When in stress, the blood is focussed on pumping blood to your arms and legs so you can run, and in this case your digestion takes a back seat.

Excessive stress also means excessive cortisol, and this hormone blocks fat loss when it is chronically high. It makes adherence difficult, as it upregartultes your desire to eat carbs (as they support the lowering of cortisol), and it disrupts your sleep.

Additionally, trauma can impact how you metabolise food, in particular, carbohydrates.

So, you want to have healthy stress levels and resilience in order to have a healthy metabolism. And you want to stop dieting and eat at maintenance calories for a while if you’re someone who is chronically dieting. This signals to your body that it is safe, so when you go on a deficit, which is the next point I am going to highlight, the body does not freak out.

Calorie deficit

You must be in a calorie deficit. This means you must eat less food than you burn off per day. A 400-500 calorie per day deficit is enough to trigger fat loss, but this number can’t be dropping below what your body perceives to be essential to your survival.

Note that the lengths you can push a body into fat loss depends on your genetics, but also how much your body knows about the process. Our determination or willpower can sometimes be so strong that it overrides the body signal to stop dieting as well (in the case of eating disorders, for example).

A body that diets for the first time will not have a conditioned response to it, so it is likely you will be able to push it further. Once it works it out however, you’re toast, and it will become harder each time if you don’t take a structured and measured approach.

You must also know your maintenance calories if you are to have any idea what your deficit calories are. So this means you need to eat the same amount of food per day as you burn off for a while, pushing that number up until you reach a point where you’re relatively full, feeling good and energised, and not gaining or losing weight.

Once you find this number, you can subtract 400-500 calories/day off your maintenance calories via activity, less food or a combination of both, and the body will make up that difference with your body fat. 

Track your food

If you don’t track, you won’t lose weight and keep it off because you have no data to fall back on.

There may be an exception to this rule, being that if you’re overweight, say 120kg and you simply change to a whole food diet, it’s highly likely you’ll lose weight without tracking, but for most women I meet this is not their struggle. They’re generally slightly overweight, just enough that it is uncomfortable, and in this case, calories need to be tracked.

You can use an app like MyFitnessPal, ensuring you’re eating the same amount of food each day which is a deficit, so the 400-500 calories per day under than your maintenance calories (which you will have established before your diet). 

You also learn a lot about food! Like how 1 tbsp peanut butter can be up to 200-calories, and how you may be easily eating 1500 calories per day of snacks and cappuccinos, without even realising it.  

Eat whole foods

When you eat whole foods you ensure the body gets all of its essential proteins and fats for the energy day person, and also carbohydrates for an active person.

You also ensure your hunger hormones remain healthy, as when you eat processed foods they are designed to override these signals. The more fat cells you have from eating junk food, the more out of control the situation with food cravings becomes.

We also have gut bacteria like Candida for example, that often overgrows in women who have high stress levels and eat too much sugar, and as these critters feed on sugar. They are so clever they can send signals up through your enteric nervous system to the brain, telling it to eat more sugar (for their survival, not yours). These things generally don’t occur in a whole food diet.

Whole foods also ensure you are more satiated in a deficit, and have less cravings.

You want to have a consistent routine which is repeated week after week. 

For a fat loss routine, it’s important to do the same thing over and over, week by week. Check in once per week, and so long as it’s working, you just repeat. There is no way to ‘speed it up’ and if you don’t keep it consistent it is confusing to the body and it will likely backfire on you. It’s also confusing to you (and me, as a coach).

Get in a good rhythm and repeat, over and over, until you have a two weeks plateau in measurements and weight, then you want to change something (generally, increase the deficit as the metabolism has adapted).

So, those are the essentials for any fat loss goal. If you want to take it further, and see changes in musculature or finish your fat loss with a ‘toned’ look, you must also; 

Lift weights 

Lifting weights ensures you gain muscle in maintenance phases, and maintain muscle in fat loss phases. Cardio is catabolic, so too much cardio will actually have the opposite effect. It also increases cortisol, which as you now know is problematic in fat loss pursuits.

If you do fat loss without weight training, you will be smaller but soft. If you don’t care about muscle, this is totally fine! For many of you though, you want to look toned and if this is the case, you must lift weights.

Track macros, so protein is really important 

You must also track macros, rather than just calories. This means you eat a consistent amount of carbohydrates, fat and protein on a daily basis, with protein being the key nutrient that must remain consistent.

Protein is the body’s building block, and this should come mostly from animal protein as it is the most anabolic (meaning, it has the highest amount of Leucine, an amino acid that is essential for building skeletal muscle).

So within your calorie targets you want to hit protein, fat and carbohydrate targets. This is exactly how bodies are built, as different macronutrients have different effects on the body’s health and aesthetic. This is also why I love bodybuilding, as we use these macronutrients to create bodies that look like masterpieces!

I hope that helps you to understand what it required, and quit chasing after the quick fixes!

If you’re trying to lose weight and aren’t doing any of those things, I suggest you start to take the process more seriously and either enlist some professional help, or if you’re knowledgeable in this area create a long term plan.

Always remember that your body is smarter than you and being lean is not its number one priority

Just a couple more things to add! 

  • You want to be patient. Some weeks you will drop, others you may go up in weight. 
  • You want to track measurements as well as weight, as weight is unpredictable. 
  • For body recomposition if you’re a healthy weight, your focus is on LOOKING different. Not lowering the number on the scales. This is a focus if you’re trying to lose excess body fat. 
  • 400gms per week is a really healthy amount of weight loss, where it’s not a big enough deficit that it triggers a binge, and just enough weight loss that you are seeing results from week to week. 
  • You want to hire a professional if you’re not educated in this area

So that’s all on how to lose fat and keep it off. 

Want to master this topic? Check out my super-affordable mini-course on Fat loss

There is a video version of this too, if you would like to learn more!

 

 

 

 

 

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