Thursday, February 12, 2009

The Fat Loss Formula

Now that Julie is on her fat loss crusade, I wanted to reiterate the basics of fat loss and improving body composition for everyone else. I hope you realize that it is just the opposite of what you hear from the media.

First of all, you need to develop a moderate, long-term energy deficit (expending more Calories than you eat). There are no two ways around it. If you don't, you won't see much change in your body composition. It is hard to accurately develop a moderate Calorie deficit without knowing your resting metabolic rate ( or how many Calories your body burns at rest just to maintain and repair itself over 24 hours; depends on body size, muscle mass, and other factors. Could easily range from 1000 to 2000 Calories per day). You can find your resting metabolic rate if you know your body weight and percent body fat.

A big pitfall for a lot of people is that they cut Calories too dramatically. They think if a little is good, then a lot must be better. Don't get caught in this trap. It will guarantee failure. Starvation is very stressful on your body. You can bet your hypothalamus (part of the brain that regulates appetite and controls the release of stress hormones) will go crazy with extreme Calorie restriction. Not only will you feel horrible, but you will lose muscle and bone mass; not good.

What is the biggest issue people have when cutting Calories? Feeling hungry all the time. So, the trick is to make you feel full with less Calories. You could have your stomach stapled, but that has it problems. Instead, try eating food with a low energy-density (more whole, unprocessed foods, fruits, vegetables, etc). Also, it means eating foods that cause your stomach to release hormones that tell your hypothalamus that you are full- these would be foods with protein and fat. That is right, you need to eat fat. The often-maligned dietary fat, is important for fat loss! If you choose a low-fat diet you will more likely feel hungry. Because carbohydrates do not stimulate your stomach to release appetite-suppressing hormones like fat and protein do.

I will continue this topic and discuss the other side of the equation- energy expenditure.


Julie said...

And what is the point of that disgusting photo?

Dan Hubbard, M.Ed., CSCS. said...

They are rubber models of five pounds of fat and five pounds of muscle; showing the differences in densities of the two tissues.