Fat Loss Explained
Fat Loss for the Average Client:
Written by Richard Jones
Level 3 Personal Training, Advanced Nutrition Methods, Sports Nutrition BSc Hons, Master’s Degree (MA)
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All supplied photo’s are Richards & Team Leans clients
Before I progress with this article it’s important to stress that there is no right or wrong way to approach fat loss. However, in my opinion some methods are more fruitful than others in terms of promoting health at the same time. As a good coach or trainer this is critical as the health and wellbeing of your client should be the most important consideration.
Firstly I want to distinguish the difference between weight loss and fat loss. Unfortunately both terms are used interchangeably throughout the industry, even though they are two separate things altogether. Weight loss in my opinion is only useful when looking to provide an additional progression variable for a client who is either obese, or close to being obese. It can then be used a motivational tool. Fat loss however is by far a better measure of progress, as this ensures the weight lost is that of fat and not water, muscle or other variables. In most cases I urge my clients to bin their scales as I measure success on body fat, progress pictures and physical fitness tests.
As mentioned earlier there are several approaches you can take to initiate fat loss, I am however going to explain my approach which I call the common sense approach. The first thing I do with any client is screen them thoroughly analysing their lifestyle and food diary. From this I begin to design my plans based on their goals. With the majority of clients who come to me and are looking to shred some fat, build a little muscle and ‘tone up’ I generally don’t calculate their BMRs as in my opinion it’s unnecessary. If I evaluate their food diary accurately and in enough detail I already have a rough idea of their current calorie intake, which is far more accurate and specific to that client than a generic BMR calculating formula.
In my opinion to initiate fat loss with clients who have excess fat to lose, there is no need to adopt an extreme method such as the Ketosis diet, Carb Cycling or the ever popular 5:2 diet (which in my opinion is just nonsense…. The 5:2 diets originated to help breast cancer patients in remission and the suppression of oestrogen. As a by-product the patients lost weight – which when in a calorie deficit is inevitable and then became popular through media exploitation). I generally follow these key principles and in the majority of cases your clients will start to lose fat almost immediately:
– Increase water intake to a minimum of 0.5L per 50lbs of body weight. I also insist on bottled water as tap water in the UK is full of metals which contribute to our deficiencies in minerals such as zinc.
– Remove all dairy including lattes, cappuccinos, milk, cheese and cream. The qualities of dairy products in the UK are poor and can cause inflammation of the GI tract.
– Remove gluten and yeast based products. The reason for this is their inflammatory capabilities. Also, most people can’t digest yeast and until they remove it they don’t realise the bloating effect it can have.
– In most cases I also encourage the supplementation of Omega 3 fish oils as this will generally help with any inflammation of the GI tract / Gut and help with the general Omega 3 : Omega 6 imbalance.
– limit caffeine intake to just prior to training. Coffee in excess causes distress on the body which results in excess cortisol secretion (stress hormone). Not what we want for fat loss.
– Increase green vegetables to almost an uncapped amount, Green vegetables are packed with macro-minerals and are excellent for helping with cortisol and oestrogen suppression which in time will make fat loss easier and muscle gaining more efficient.
– As a rule of thumb (this can vary between clients) I usually set protein anywhere between 1.5-1.8grams per kg of body weight as a baseline. Also, there will be a source of complete protein at each meal.
– Over the years I have concluded from experience that most clients can’t handle carbohydrates. They have become insulin resistant and as a result their high carbohydrate diets over the years have resulted in poor cellular permeability resulting in consumed carbohydrates being stored as visceral fat. Therefore as a rule of thumb I reduce carbohydrates dramatically initially and increase their dietary fats (staying away from trans-fat) to ensure they are consuming enough total calories. This approach however can’t be adopted for long term use as a low carbohydrate diet over a long period of time will reduce testosterone which will make building muscle even harder. Therefore once they have become more insulin sensitive I gradually increase carbohydrates post training to help with recovery and muscle building.
– Build as much muscle as possible. Greater amounts of muscle result in a higher metabolism, increase insulin sensitivity and ‘turn over’ food quicker rather than storing it.
NB: it’s worth noting that although I remove dairy and gluten initially in the majority of cases, this is not a long term approach as the removal of any nutrient source from a diet long term is not beneficial or healthy for the client.
I’m a big believer in keeping things simple. There is no need to complicate things with the average client who just wants fat loss and to look good on the beach. However with more ‘advanced’ clients or clients who are aspiring to reach a sub 10% body fat composition I may introduce various methods as outlined above. My favourite methods are the Ketosis approach, Carb cycling and Carb back loading. In most cases I used a mixed method of carb cycling and carb back loading but that’s for a different article.
I hope you’ve enjoyed this article and that you manage to take something away from it. If anything, keep it simple guys, the more complicated you make it the more things that can go wrong.