We Need To Talk About Weight Loss

Updated: Oct 2, 2018

We need to talk about weight loss. Now, by weight loss I probably mean fat loss, because that’s really what most people mean. No one, unless their sport requires it, wants to be specifically 10 stone, they want to look a certain way. I could show you two 16 stone guys, one an average office worker who doesn’t train, and the other a professional rugby player, and the chances are they’ll look wildly different. But I’ll refer to it as weight loss, because unfortunately, as with many bastardised terms in this industry, that’s what people know it as.

If I had a pound for every time someone has said to me, “Oh I’ve tried this diet, and I’ve tried that diet, and I always end up back where I start,” yeah, of course you do!! Because you haven’t actually made any long-term changes to your lifestyle. Let’s say you were eating 3000 calories a day, and you’re putting on weight, and you get to the stage where you decide, “Right that’s it, that’s enough, I’m done, I’m on a diet, I’m eating 1000 calories a day for however long until I reach my goal.” Your body will react, and you will probably get there, because you’ll be eating at a calorific deficit (more on that later), and you reach that target weight. Boom, success, done it, wonderful, but then you go back to what you were doing before… You go straight back to eating the same 3000 calories, you go back to eating the foods that are probably lower in nutrients, higher in calories, and the weight all starts to come back. Except with the damage you’ve now done to your metabolism, because of this extreme dieting, yo-yo dieting, suddenly you find you’re putting even more weight on. And next time, it’s even harder for you to lose the weight, so you’re doing an even more extreme diet, or you’re doing it for longer. It’s a vicious cycle. You lose weight to a level, but then you put all the weight on and more. Then you lose weight to a higher level now, not the lower weight from before. And then you put all the weight on and more. And the cycle keeps moving higher. All the while your metabolism is being further damaged, resulting in this inability to lose weight as effectively, rather than just working off a straight line, a constant, that’s easily adjustable, room for slight bumps, it’s manageable.

You haven’t made any serious lifestyle changes. And they don’t have to be extreme, in fact you need to stop thinking in terms of extremity. You don’t need to go cold turkey from everything you enjoy for a certain amount of time, and then smash it all back in at once. You need to think about moderation, think long term. Your changes should probably be small initially, because it’s more likely that not only will your body be able to handle them, but your mind. Small changes can have great effect, and you’re less likely to consciously notice them, and fight them or rebel against them. And your body is able to adapt to them much better than extreme ones.

There are four key elements to weight loss; a sensible calorie deficit, protein, sleep, and exercise. In that order. Think of them as a pyramid, the large, most important foundation is eating less calories than you burn. The next row up is eating enough protein, I’d say at least 2 grams of protein per kilogram of your body weight every day, and work your calorie target back from that. The bonus with protein is that it sates your appetite as well, so you don’t get hungry as much. Sleep is important, because it’s sleep. It’s a time for your body to sort itself out, but also technically a time when you’re not eating either!! Personally, I find sleep to be subjective, so whatever amount works for you. I prefer 6 to 7 hours, but I know people who need longer. And the small tip of the pyramid, the least effective, but important nonetheless, is exercise. It helps burn some calories, but it also helps shape your body, and keeps your body working for longer. And the more muscle you build, the more calories your body will burn every day anyway. But, losing weight is about 70% diet, 30% exercise, you can’t out train a bad diet. If you want to lose weight, make small changes to your diet, have a sensible calorific deficit, maybe 100 to 200 calories less a day, assuming you’re starting from a reasonable amount to begin with. And plan for the long term, differences that maybe get you to your goal slower, but will last much, much longer.

I’ll cover each aspect in more detail individually, because the topic is so vast. Keep an eye out for those on my social media, but thanks for listening.

Dan Miller

Body Fuel Personal Fitness Trainer