Why Does It Seem SO Hard to Achieve Fat Loss?
Fat loss… everyone wants it, but it seems like we can’t ever get enough of it. You’ve been working REALLY hard in the gym. You feel like you eat NOTHING tasty, delicious and bad for you. You even lift weights. BUT, you still look at yourself in the mirror and see little or no definition, flabby upper arms, love handles and thighs you’re embarrassed to show off. What gives? Why is the fat clinging on for dear life even though you’re working so hard?
Fat loss is a funny, scratch that, FRUSTRATING thing. A lot needs to go right to lose fat while maintaining that lean, hard muscle mass. Most people don’t know the first thing about fat loss. For example, when I ask people what their plan is for losing fat, so many of them tell me all about how they’re going to eat salads and run every day (sigh). While a diet change is likely in the near future, and cardio does burn calories, it’s not that simple. Fat loss is as much a hormonal thing as it is a calorie thing, and hormones can be VERY complicated. With that said, there are some known facts about fat loss that you NEED to know. They’re crucial to your transformation and your tone and definition depends on them! Read on to learn more about the 5 most misleading facts about fat loss!
The 5 Most Misleading Facts About Fat Loss
1. Creating a calorie deficit of 500 calories per day will results in 1lb of fat loss per week – Losing fat isn’t as simple as calories in and calories out. While you do need to create a calorie deficit, too many other factors come into play, like hormones and your macronutrient ratio. Your body releases hormones all the time for different reasons. The type of exercise you perform, the foods you eat, and your daily activities all play into which hormones are flowing through your body. Rather than focusing on 500 calories per day, focus on activities that produce fat burning hormones. Activities like weight training, High Intensity Interval Training and leisure paced cardio (walking, cycling, etc) all have a positive hormonal effect. Similarly, non-starchy carbs like veggies, high protein foods and high fibers foods are all great options for keeping fat storage turned off.
2. Doing Ab Exercises Leads to a Six Pack – Resistance training does burn calories and over time can help lead to fat loss. In fact, heavy weight lifting can induce Excess Post Exercise Oxygen Consumption. However, in order for your six pack to show through, you need to lose the body fat that covers it. Research has proven that you can’t target a specific area for fat loss. While ab exercises like crunches, planks and leg raises do burn calories, the quickest way to a six pack is through the right nutrition program. We all actually have a six pack already (score!). It just happens to be covered by a layer of body fat. If your goal is a six pack and your body fat percentage is over 20%, focus more on your diet than doing crunches and other ab exercises. You’ll see a lot more progress.
With that said, having a strong core is important for overall health. Full body exercises like planks are great for developing a stable core. Multi-joint exercises like deadlifts and squats also give a killer core workout while working a lot of other muscle groups as well.
3. Running Every Day is the Best Way to Lose Fat – Steady state cardio, whether on the treadmill, elliptical, stepper, etc, is a good way to burn calories. There’s no doubt about that. But is it the best way to burn fat? Definitely not. Think about marathon runners and sprinters. Which one would you rather look like? They’re both elite athletes in incredible shape, but the type of training they do is vastly different. If you’re very de-conditioned, cardio is important to help you burn calories and improve your cardiovascular capacity. It reduces risks for things like heart disease and stroke, but it isn’t all that effective for losing stubborn fat. The reason is hormones, more specifically, Cortisol. Steady state cardio increases Cortisol levels which puts your body into a fat storing state. This is why so many people spend hours and hours running but still have the belly, arm and thigh fat. The reason sprinters don’t experience the same thing is because high intensity exercise like sprinting releases anabolic hormones. These hormones include growth hormone and testosterone.
Steady state cardio is fine to mix in for a good calorie burn, but when it comes to fat loss, it might be holding you back. Try some interval training and be sure to do a lot of leisure paced cardio as well.
4. Just Eat Healthy – For a lot of people, the problem isn’t knowing which foods are good or bad for you. The problem lies in overeating them. If you’re already overweight or you eat a lot of processed, sugary, high-starch foods, then you’ll see good results from changing your eating habits. This change should include moving towards foods like fruits, vegetables, lean meats and natural, “from the Earth” foods. Avoiding things like processed foods, artificial sweeteners, and fast absorbing carbs will be a great way to start your transformation.
With that said, eating too much healthy food is still too much when it comes to fat loss, especially if your body fat percentage is fairly low. Clean eating is important for having a healthy body, but too much clean eating is still too much. This goes back to the simplest part of fat loss – creating a calorie deficit. If you eat too many calories, it’s going to be near impossible to lose a lot of body fat. So eat healthy, but in the APPROPRIATE amount of healthy food.
5. Fat Loss Aids – Fat loss supplements need to be thought of as an accelerator, not a crutch. There are A LOT of fat loss supplements out there. Many of them are useless, but many of them do provide fat loss benefits. However, NONE of them will magically make you lose fat by just popping a pill, mixing up a drink, or putting on some kind of wrap. None of them will be beneficial without a great exercise program and the right nutrition program for you. If you have these two things, a fat loss supplement may accelerate your progress. Many of them rely on hormonal changes to help your body burn more fat, but if you’re not working out efficiently and eating for fat loss, no amount of pills can help you long term.
Focus on learning how to lift weights correctly and efficiently, and learning how to eat properly for your body. Once you have these two things down, you can start considering supplements.
These are the most common misleading “facts” about fat loss that I hear. Avoid these pitfalls and you’ll be one step closer to changing your body for life.