PLEASE NOTE: We are undergoing a name change. Unleashed Training is now Sprint Ninja. We still offer high quality strength and conditioning along with personal training, with our specialty being sprint training.
Subtracting fat has been a major topic of interest for humans for at least several hundred years. Now more than ever people are looking at ways to permanently lose weight, which by the way is ambiguous and should more accurately be focused on losing fat specifically. However it seems that we are fighting an uphill losing battle when it comes to fat loss. In modern times humans have become fatter than ever. At one point not too many decades ago being overweight or obese was outside the norm. To be overweight was seen as something relatively rare by today's standards, even though obesity still existed at this time.
PLEASE NOTE - Read all the way through. At the end is a summary, including step by step actions for subtracting fat.
With obesity and fat related disease on the rise it has become a pandemic issue throughout the entire world. Instead of obesity being unusual and relatively rare it is now the standard average for society to be at least 10kg overweight, most often more. Good health, fitness and a low body fat profile is now a rarity.
So what are we to do about this problem? There is little that can be done for society as a whole when we're thinking on global terms. The responsibility for change lies in the individual that is carrying the extra weight. Trainers such as myself provide the tools for people to access and make those changes, but I can't force people to eat right and move more. What I can do is ensure that people have access to strategies that are effective and can be easily adhered to.
This is a training guide for fat loss. Here we will look at fat loss and overall body composition objectives and some effective methods and systems for dealing with the problem on all levels. This guide on subtracting fat will cover a simple system of both training and nutrition, with other supporting lifestyle factors. It really should not be complicated, people just need to be educated as to what works, what does not work and the most efficient and effective way for achieving it.
Establishing a Baseline and Tracking Progress
When it comes to subtracting fat there is little use in embarking on your mission without first knowing where you’re starting from. A vague statement such as “I need to lose weight” is a hit and miss, pointless endeavour. In order to lose fat you need to know how much fat you’re currently carrying, where you’re carrying it etc.
The first step towards subtracting fat is to analyse your current body composition. The more measurements you track the better. Remember, what gets measured gets managed. Start with girth measurements such as waist circumference, hips, thighs, upper arms and bust/chest. In addition to girth measurements it is useful to track body weight and body fat percentage. Along with the initial analysis it is advised to measure actual performance related benchmarks by conducting fitness tests that are relevant to the type of fitness being used to assist with subtracting fat. Lastly, an initial dietary analysis is recommended by keeping a seven day food diary in order to assess current nutritional habits and identify areas that need to be changed. the more components that are analysed the more distinctions you can make. More distinctions means more changes can be made and overall a greater result is achieved. Measuring, analysing and tracking ensures that weak links are strengthened.
One Small Change
Subtracting fat is not only the most sought after fitness and health goal of the general population, it is also one of the most difficult things to get started in terms of making changes and being psychologically prepared for those changes. Quite often the issue is that people attempt to alter every one of their negative habits that have contributed to their weight gain. This is overwhelming because a person is going from poor eating in multiple areas, lack of movement etc all the way to consistent and intense exercise and a complete nutritional overhaul. The entire process becomes something completely foreign and uncomfortable. The end result is that most people tend to give up because it’s perceived as too hard. And so starts the vicious cycle of finding fast and easy methods, failing and then searching for something else.
It has been shown time and time again that people do not adhere to a sudden and extreme overhaul of dietary and activity habits. Yet the next revolutionary programme inevitably makes an appearance through magazines, internet, TV etc.
So what’s the solution to this issue? Subtracting fat does not need to be difficult, and by the same token does not need to be completely arduous and uncomfortable. The key is making small changes, one thing at a time. It is easy to change one small habit per day or week. Most often the small change is barely noticed. Things like eliminating sugar for three days, adding a single exercise session a few days later, changing one meal per day a few days after that etc. Each small change is exactly that, a small change, something only slightly noticed. The key is to maintain the change when it’s time for the next change. Over time all the changes necessary for long term fat loss and body composition maintenance have been made and they become automatic and sustainable.
If you’re not used to exercising it is almost guaranteed you will fail if you suddenly plunge yourself into a lengthy and intense training regime. As with making one small change at a time it is recommended that you just start moving, no matter what that means. Start with something simple and ensure it is scheduled in like an appointment. Make it a priority.
The activity you choose to engage in at the start will depend on your current physical condition, health, age etc. Begin with something simple like a short brisk walk or a simple light strength session. Don’t go out guns blazing and burn out within weeks.
By far the most important aspect of subtracting fat is nutrition. Exercise plays a small role. Remember, you cannot out-train a bad diet. The following are some nutritional guidelines that will make a major impact on fat loss…
- The biggest impact can be made by controlling insulin. Insulin is the hormone that is released to control blood sugar levels. It regulates how much energy is released and used during activity and how much is stored as either glycogen or body fat. Insulin is stimulated most by carbohydrate based foods, especially sugars and processed foods. Control insulin by eliminating ALL sugar. That includes fructose from fruit, lactose from milk, sucrose (table sugar), hidden sugars in manufactured foods, everything. Secondly, control carbohydrate intake and limit it to quality sources such as legumes, vegetables and a small amount of whole grains. Eliminate or at least limit heavy carb foods such as rice, pasta, bread, corn, white potato, pastry, biscuits etc.
- Eat primitively. I don’t mean become an advocate of a completely paleo diet. What I do mean is that you should pretend you are living off the land. If it can’t be grown or killed and eaten from a natural state then you don’t eat it. In other words, if there was any manufacturing process involved you shouldn’t eat it.
- Forget what you know about nutrition. Much of what has been promoted over the past few decades has been either false or at best only partially true. Just to name a few; eating a low fat diet is not conducive to fat loss. Fat itself does not make you fat, unless you’re eating far too much of it. Fat is necessary for hormone production and regulating insulin, among other things. Be generous with fats (within reason), especially good fats from plant sources and fish. Eating six meals per day is not best practice, the body needs a break from eating in order to let insulin levels flatline, stimulate growth hormone and kickstart the fat burning process. Fasting is a good counter to this, which is covered in the next point. There is no need to sacrifice taste and food enjoyment in order to lose fat. There are so many diets and fat loss plans out there that list meals involving eggs whites, chicken and broccoli. Although these things are useful in the subtracting fat process they are not rigidly required to such an extreme. There are other ways to become completely lean.
- Eat LESS frequently, not more. We’ve all seen the frequent eating method. The idea is to stimulate the metabolism by eating frequently but keeping meals very small. This is not best practice. The body needs a break from eating, it is not meant to be kept in a constant and steady state of digestion. There are several scientific and relevant points that support intermittent fasting, too numerous to name here. It is recommended to fast for periods you find comfortable. There are many methods around, which can all be found online, specifically by clicking HERE.
There are a lot of models out there for best practice when it comes to subtracting fat. However these methods are often constructed as a unique selling point for a new “revolutionary” fitness system. You often find yourself hearing contradictory information. Some methods state that interval training is best, others will state that in order to lose fat the bet method is by building muscle mass, while others still abide by the aerobic training model.
In order to effectively change your body composition permanently there must be multiple physiological adaptations made. Training should not be complicated, but it also should not be too focused on one component. Every little difference contributes to a greater overall change. The following are a few points to note about training for subtracting fat…
- Keep it simple. There is no need to go to the gym and do 40 different exercises. The body does not recognise what machine you are using, it only recognises the stimulus. Keep your overall training programme simple and avoid including too much variety. Stick with major movements that have the greatest impact on the desired adaptations.
- Strength training must be included in order to make the greatest impact on body composition. Many people might be concerned with gaining too much muscle mass when their objective is to lose fat and get lean. An increase in muscle mass contributes to the greatest amount of change physically. Muscle is also highly metabolically active, meaning that even a small increase in muscle mass will result in an increased basal metabolic rate.
- High intensity intervals are more efficient than long distance cardio. Interval training has a range of benefits, including increased energy expenditure in the hours following the session and the fact that high intensity training at a low volume does not result in muscle loss or significant secretion of stress hormones that promote fat storage.
- Don’t overdo it. Remember, training for fat loss is not about the number of calories burned while exercising. If you look closely at the figures it does not look very promising. Exercising for subtracting fat is a matter of adaptation. It’s not about burning energy and losing fat during an exercise session. Focus on quality over quantity and stop counting calories burned. Exercise creates a complex cascade of responses from the body, including hormonal and metabolic changes that result in a body that uses energy more efficiently as opposed to storing it as fat.
Change Your Thinking
This is hard to really get a grasp on and is difficult to explain. Quite often the difference between lean people and those carrying a lot of extra body fat is the way they think and live. Challenge and question your own beliefs such as the belief that your fat gain is genetic and unavoidable. Change the way you think, change your priorities. By thinking like a fit person you will more easily become a fit person.
Putting it into Action
There is a lot of information here, and I have done my best to word it in a way that most people will understand, regardless of knowledge and experience concerning fitness and fat loss. Here are just a few quick actions steps for getting started and producing lasting results…
1. Establish a baseline, take some measurements, conduct fitness tests etc, and record your results. Revisit these tests and measurements at regular intervals of 4-6 weeks. Once measurements are taken you must be 100% clear on what specific goals you want to achieve. The more specific the better.
2. Come up with a broad action plan. How are you going to get from where you are now to your final goal? What smaller and more regular benchmarks are you going to aim for and how will you achieve them? This is not a highly specific plan, this is simply a broad outline of what you will be doing, which can include things like a schedule, broad nutrition plan etc.
3. Plan out your small, step by step changes. what will you change first? What will you change after that? And so on. When and how often will changes take place?
4. Construct a nutrition plan. Even though you are only making a small change at a time with regard to both eating and exercise you need to know what the final product will look like. My advice is to keep your diet simple, adhere to the guidelines and be repetitive.
5. Schedule in your training and know what you’re going to do. Remember, keep it simple. I recommend doing two heavy and intense strength sessions per week, but keep them short and sweet and use only 3-4 major compound exercises. Twice a week perform a short and intense interval session. This can be done after your strength sessions or it could be done on separate days.
6. Do it. Simple as that. Follow your own broad action plan and put it into action. Take the initiative and start making the necessary changes. Your plan should be constructed in such a way that it is simple to understand and follow for you.
Subtracting fat does not need to be a complex task. The body indeed goes through many complex adaptations when it comes to fat loss, but you don’t need to understand them all. This guide was written for the purpose of simplicity, using very simple terms. Keep in mind that this is just a guide, it’ not a complete and specific plan. It is simply designed to assist you in your fat loss journey.
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YOUR COACH – Chris Lyons
Chris Lyons is an experienced strength and conditioning coach, having trained athletes of all ages and levels since 2002. Chris specialises in coaching athletes for speed and power specific to fast-moving sports such as rugby league, rugby union, soccer, Aussie rules football etc. Since 2002 Chris has conducted close to 15,000 hours of training and coaching directly with athletes and members of the general population. From this experience comes Sprint Ninja, based on tried and tested training methods combined with up to date research. Chris continues to challenge himself not only as a coach, but also as an athlete, competing in sprinting events, strongman and Olympic-style weightlifting.