In today's world there is a barrage of diet plans, information and advice overloading our senses causing much confusion and possibly sabotaging our best intentions to fight fat.
Its no secret that obesity levels amongst adults and children are on the rise and action is needed. However looking for advice or the right plan to battle the bulge can be daunting. There is an infinite amount of diet advice, diet plans and diet supplements offering the best, quickest and easiest way to lose weight.
In this article I outline some solid foundations for starting any plan which will ultimately lead to winning that fat loss fight.
Before you start..
The fact is losing fat takes patience, dedication and consistency, however everyone can do it with the right structure and support. Don't measure your progress or successes against others, everyone is unique, what works for one person may not work for you. It's important to focus on fat loss and not weight loss.
In a fat loss plan you are looking to drop body fat and retain your muscle mass. Muscle mass is your best friend ! It will keep your body healthy by protecting your bones and maintain a higher metabolism. That's why in a fat loss its best to compliment it with some form of strength training exercises and be conscious of your lean protein intake. In programs where calorie deficit is the only focus muscle mass can deteriorate.
Take a vow and commit
Know that if you have body fat to lose there is no magic formula, there is only one way to do it - burn more calories than you consume.
Before you start, really commit to your goals. If you do it half-heartedly it will not only cause you frustration and displeasure, but it will influence your behaviour and approaches to future goals. Do not allow your mind to trick you or rationalise underachieving this goal.
The fact is apart from a very small minority for specific medical reasons, everyone is capable of losing fat and getting healthy. Be realistic, we all want to look like our best photo-shopped selfie or worse someone else's photo-shopped selfie. Accept we all come in different shapes and sizes, don't seek a skinnier you, you want a healthier you.
Your goal should be to become the best you can be! For me this means being strong, living long with a good quality of life, being independent and being able to run and jump and play with our kids and their kids in years to come.
There are ultimately two routes;
Big change, speedy results.
Gradual change, slower results.
Firstly decide which one will work for you:
If you are good with big change, have good discipline or need to see results fast to stay motivated then "Big Change, Speedy Results" is a good approach for you to choose. However if you find change difficult or it makes you miserable then a slower approach is a better.
When making big changes be aware of those changes, when you reach your target, its important you don't reverse the good work by slipping in to old habits. The slower route means the changes become more habitual to you.
Both routes will lead to your end goal, but choosing the right one means it will be easier for you to adhere to your plan.
Choose the right formula
Once you've decided how you are going to approach your Fat Loss, then you need to decide which diet formula will work for you. In a simplified world there are 3 types of diets to choose from, all diets fall into one of these categories. Some use a structured meal plan approach others use supplements along with structured plans, but what they all have in common is a calorie deficit, meaning when on the plan you consume less calories than you burn. Some plans lead with a greater deficit than others by imposing strict guidelines or offering supplements to act as an appetite suppressant in one form or another with a promise of "Never Feel Hungry". Anything too extreme is likely unhealthy and should be avoided.
The three formulas:
Calorie control; no strict management of macro-nutrients i.e. Carbs, Fats and Protein and focuses on a calorie allowance.
Low Carb; focus is on the reduction of starchy carbs from the diet and concentrates on high protein and fats.
Low Fat; focus is on the reduction of fat intake with a concentration on consuming carbs and protein.
The Calorie Counter
A Calorie control diet allows the dieter to eat what they want but calories must be tracked closely. This works for dieters that struggle to limit food groups, particularly sugars and fats. Some diet plans simplify the tracking by using a point system and free foods etc. This approach facilitates process foods in the diet more so than the other options. As a diet approach it has many success stories, but also has its drawbacks. It requires strict adherence to the calorie allowance. The allowance must be adjusted as the body fat decreases. The intake of sugars and sweeteners can create food cravings for the dieter as the blood sugar levels continually adjust to correct spikes and lows. Cravings have a ripple effect increasing our desire to eat more foods.
March the Starch
The low carb diet comes in varying extremes, but the healthiest of them is to reduce starchy carbs and obtain carbs from vegetable sources. The dieters nutrition focus shifts to fats, proteins and vegetables from carbs. This type of diet normally increases the consumption of micro-nutrients found in vegetables, creating a knock-on effect by improving energy levels, health and wellbeing. Studies have shown that there is a greater adherence to a low carb diet, namely because there is greater satiety from eating protein and fats. Some people struggle to limit their intake of starchy carbs and there is a requirement to eat a lot more vegetables , particularly leafy greens which some people find can cause problems for their digestive systems.
The low fat diet looks to reduce and eliminate as much fat as possible from the diet. Historically it was thought that fat makes fat. We now know that this is not strictly true as excess calories cause us to gain body fat. Dietary fats are necessary for energy. Processed or manufactured fats are unhealthy and bad for our bodies. It’s important to recognise that fatty foods are higher in calories and that in itself could be responsible for a surplus, thereby reducing them will support a calorific deficit for the dieter. The drawback to a low fat diet is in the absorption of other nutrients. If the level of fat intake is too low it will have an negative impact on the absorption of vitamins A, D, E & K. Additionally processed fat free foods can contain increased sugar levels. Fat free foods are often seen by the dieter as free foods which ultimately can lead to overeating and sabotage good intentions.
Good versus Bad
When discussing fats we need to address the topic of "Good Fats", which can cause confusion. It is important that dieters understand they cannot consume an unlimited supply of "Good Fats" and hope to lose body fat. Calories must still be controlled. Excess calories need to be used so the body doesn't create its own man made fat on our bodies.
Once you choose a diet formula it’s important to avoid mixing the disciplines from the other categories. Stick to the guidelines of the plan you decide to take. Give it some time. If there is no progress or the progress is slower than you expected keep a food diary, this helps increase focus. If there is still no movement then it’s time to seek expert advice to understand what is happening.
Build in some activity
Losing body fat solely through dieting is SO 80's. Research shows that by keeping healthy and fit it will extend your life, keep you independent, reduce your chances of serious illnesses such as sarcopenia and cancer to name a few. Focus on making a happier and stronger you ! To give yourself the best possible chance in life build in exercise, any exercise, but something you will stick with. Including exercise as part of your fat loss plan will optimise your results.
Focus on the healthy habits you are creating
When you are working through a fat loss plan be aware of the new choices you are making with food and exercise. Humans are creatures of habit so build a routine for yourself, the more you stick to the routine the more normal the new choices and behaviours become. Surround yourself with like minded people and a support network to help you increase your commitment to the cause. Focus on your behaviour and efforts and use this as the foundation for life post-fat loss. Use the positive feelings and experiences to reinforce the new choices. It takes 21 days to build a habit, use this and don't give up before day 21. Believe in yourself.
Plan your maintenance
Maintenance does not mean reverting to what you did before. What you did before caused the need for fat loss in the first place. Maintenance is taking a little of what you had before, using a lot of what your learned during fat loss and combining them so you are eating in a more nutritious manner and maintain your position. In maintenance it’s as important to stay in control of the nutrition and calorie intake to avoid yo-yo-ing. It’s also important to recognise that maintenance needs adjustment. As we age our metabolism slows so partaking in some form of physical activity to use calories and burn energy is a useful way of helping to manage your body fat as you age.
Life in the real lane
Remember a diet is an interim state to get you to a desired position. It is a short term discipline. Once your desired position has been achieved then you have achieved your goal, earned your badge, got the trophy, Well Done, You're an Achiever ! No one wants to give back the trophy so work on building and strengthening healthy behaviours. Remember you want to be the best you can be !
At Fitality we offer various plans to support you with any fat loss or healthy habit building program. We can help you identify your goals, structure a plan to achieving them and getting you Fit for Life.
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