The fact is, weight loss is easy. Getting lean and in shape, now that is a different game entirely.
Eat less, do more, and you will burn off weight. It really is as simple as that. However, as any good lifter knows, losing weight is not the same as getting lean. The act of weight loss is simply defined as mass being taken from your body and broken down into energy, but this is not always a good thing.
The common thought is that we need calories to live and function. If we do not get enough of them we starve. If we eat to many of them, we get fat. Seems simple doesn’t it? While this thought is largely correct, as with all things, if it seems to too good or too easy to be true, then it probably is. Losing weight is the unbiased break down of mass, and that includes muscle tissue. This is the last thing that we want, and here’s why.
Muscle is the most metabolically active tissue in the body with a caloric demand of 50Kcal per Lb, and that is just at maintenance level. We want your body to be as metabolically active as possible and to have as much active functional muscle as possible to make sure that your metabolism is as high as possible. The moment you start losing muscle, you are literally losing cylinders from your metabolic engine and this is why fat loss tends to stall when you simply reduce calories.
Now, by contrast the act of getting leaner is the reduction in the level of the bodies adipose (skin level) fat cells. This is done via proper fuelling of the body, dependant on its activity level and the gentle decrease of calories. This is far more maintainable from the standpoint of you and I as average people but does require the insight of a fitness professional, or more research into how to properly fuel your body. Alternatively you can click here to receive a free nutritional e-book.
To make life a little easier, I have put together a few top tips that I think will help you get leaner, rather than just lose weight.
1 – Train for hypertrophy!
As we said, muscle is the most metabolically demanding tissue in the body and as such having as much of it up and working is what we ultimately need in order to raise your base metabolic rate. This means that you are going to be burning more calories at rest, leading to a greater number of calories burnt daily, month, and annually. To do this, make use of traditional hypertrophy training programs such as 3 x 10, 5 x 8 etc. This greater volume when matched with proper nutrition on your training and non training days will lead to an increase in muscle and number of calories burnt per session.
2 – Increase your protein intake
Protein is the building block of life. It provides 4kcal of energy per gram. Protein is stored in the body as muscle and is only used for energy production when carb stores are deleted. Proteins need to be broken down into amino acids and converted into glucose by the liver if they are to be used for energy production. This process is known as gluconeogenesis.
Protein is synthesised into your body in order to begin the repair or development of your cells. As such your protein intake is one of the primary factors in your bodily development, and should be included to one degree or another in every meal. Protein is also highly thermogenic regarding its nutritional density. It takes calories to digest food to get more calories. Protein has a huge caloric requirement for breakdown relative to its size and if you are working out the majority of the broken down amino acids will be put to work building more muscle. To start make sure you are taking in 1.2 – 1.5g of protein per lb of lean bodyweight and adjust as necessary.
3 – Address food quality before calories
Jumping straight into calorie counting is one of the worst ways to get yourself into trouble when trying to lose weight as it is highly inaccurate, and mentally draining. This is not to say that calories are not important, because they are. However, addressing issues of food quality are the first port of call when looking to get people losing weight. Educating yourself on what it means to eat according to your goals is going to to create a long lasting understanding of good nutrition, and good nutrition is for life. Diets are not.
4 – Don’t dive bomb your calories
Dropping your calories should be the last thing that you address when you are going down the garden path of weight loss. Managing your calories is something that should be done in relation to your macronutrient needs, and once that is addressed then we can start thinking about dropping calories. However, this should be done at a slow rate. As with prescription medication, we want the maximal response from the minimum dosage. Dropping your calories substantially will lead to a point of plateau from which your metabolism will start to take a dive, and in response your body, being the survival machine that it is, will start to take break down the surplus muscle tissue and the metabolic demand that goes along with them. Keep your calories as high as possible, for as long as possible, so long as you are still meeting your goals.
5 – Don’t go it alone!
This is the most important aspect of the whole journey. Make sure that you have a support network. Getting lean is a long process and can be stressful if you go it alone. The reason why weight watchers and other programs of that nature are so successful is that they bring you into a community that creates a sense of society and accountability. Get a group of friends, a page on facebook, or hire a trainer, because the more support your have, the more accountability you have to those around you and as such you are more likely to stick to game plan rather than go native with a box of Reese’s Pieces.
These are some tips that I hope will make things easier for you on your journey to a leaner, sexier you!
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Good luck and, remember: