I’m going to go out on a limb here and say that if you’re reading this you could probably lose a few lbs. Before we jump in to how to lose body fat and keep it off for good though, I have a question for you. Is this the first time you’ve ever tried to get fit? If you’re like most people, the answer to that question is a resounding hell no!
You see, over the last 17 years of being a personal trainer, rarely has someone come to me for help getting fit and it was there very first time embarking on a journey to lose weight. Most people, by the time they get to me, have tried everything from pills, to home exercise videos, gyms, zero carb diets, to veganism and with little to no luck getting permanent results. There’s actually this arbitrary statistic that floats around the fitness world that
95% of people who lose weight end up gaining it back.
Now that stat comes from some study done about 60 years ago and I can’t say that it’s entirely accurate. But in my experience, I would have to say It’s pretty close. That means that only 5 percent of the people who begin a weight loss program will keep the fat that they lose off. That doesn’t say a lot about your chances. As a matter of fact,
the average adult American begins an exercise plan or diet at least once per year yet over half of the U.S. is overweight or obese.
So this begs the question, if most people want to be fit and most people are trying to be fit, why is that so many people are having such little luck losing weight and keeping it off?
I’m fond of making the analogy that trying to reach a fitness goal, or any goal for that matter, is like trying to get to a destination. For example, let’s say you’re in Los Angeles and you want to take a road trip to New York. You’re going to get a map right? What would happen if you just drove east without a map, or gps? Sure you may get there someday by trial and error. But chances are you’d end up driving in circles, lost, pissed off, and run out of gas money before you ever got there. It’s the same principle with getting fit. The problem is, most people don’t have a plan. They basically go about exercise program like this (tell me if this sounds familiar), they move more and eat less. They join a gym or start jogging, biking, hiking, or something, and just try to not eat so damn much. There’s no real rhyme or reason for why they’re doing what they’re doing. They’re just doing, which by all accounts is better than sitting on your ass doing nothing, but it doesn’t ever seem to get them to their goal. It’s essentially the equivalent of just “driving east.”
If you want to lose weight, and burn body fat naturally, you have to have a plan. And this is what your plan needs to include.
The 5 step plan for permanent fat loss
Step 1: Resistance Training
Many people believe that the most important activity you can do to lose weight is cardiovascular exercise. Guess what.. It's not!
The most important activity you can do to lose weight and burn body fat and keep it off is resistance training
Here’s why. According to Dr. Michael Roizen MD, after the age of 35, we typically lose about 5 percent of our muscle mass every 10 years if we don’t anything about it. Why is that important? Muscle burns calories. The amount of calories that muscle actually burns has been a subject of debate, with some studies citing muscle burning as much as an additional 50 calories per day per pound and others citing as little as 10 calories per day per pound. But whatever the amount is, muscle burns calories. The more of it you have, the more calories you burn while resting. The less of it you have, the less calories per day you burn while resting. The easiest way to prevent your metabolism from declining and to increase it is by lifting weights. If you don’t lift weights, year after year your metabolism will continue to decline, which means if you want to keep fat off, year after year you’ll have to continue to do more cardio and eat even less, which isn’t exactly a sustainable method for success.
(READ MORE about how to naturally increase your metabolism)
Step 2: Nutrition
Nutrition is 80 percent of your results and you cannot outwork bad eating habits. Just in case that wasn’t clear enough for some of you out there, you cannot eat bullshit, and expect to “work it off.” I could quite literally go on for hours about the intricacies of nutrition and how it affects hormones, your microbiome, blood lipids, so on and so forth. But since most of you out there just want your belly to not jiggle when you’re brushing your teeth and you aren’t trying to be a pro athlete...
I’m going to keep this as simple as possible to help you burn body fat faster
- Burn more calories than you take in
- Eat natural foods that come from the earth and not out of a box, or a fucking doughnut
- Cut out the sugar, eat high protein to recover from your workouts, eat animal fats, and keep your carbs low.
- Eat high protein to recover from your workouts
- Eat animal fats
- Keep your carbs low
(READ MORE on how to create the best nutrition plan for you)
Step: 3 Cardio
While resistance training is the most important activity you can do to lose weight and keep it off, cardio does still have value. It’s just important to make sure that you’re spending your time wisely when doing cardio. What do I mean by that? We’ve all seen that person just ho-hum walking along on the treadmill while reading a book or texting right? That is the fucking opposite of spending your time wisely while doing cardio. So what is the best cardio to do?
HIIT training or High-intensity Interval Training has shown to be the most effective form of cardiovascular training
or subcutaneous and abdominal fat-loss. For those of you who don’t know what HIIT is, simply put, it’s short bursts of intense training alternated with short rest periods. Examples would be sprints, jump roping, or alternating high resistance with low resistance on a machine such as a stair stepper. CrossFit for your Crossfitters, this is where you come in.
Step 4: Program Specificity
When it comes to having a plan that includes the 3 elements mentioned above, not just any plan will do. It’s important to make sure that your plan is based on your individual body and your specific goal. Just like you wouldn’t get some generic map of California for our road trip from LA to New York, we don’t want to use a generic plan. Unfortunately, that’s precisely what most people do. Whether it’s the latest magazine article about how The Rock got jacked for Fast and Furious 36 or how Beyonce lost her baby weight, most people are just blindly following something workout plan written for someone else whose body is completely different and whose goals are completely different. Make sure you know exactly where you’re at, weight, body fat %, muscular imbalances that could lead to injury, etc. and make sure you know your specific goal, such as exactly how many pounds of fat you would like to lose, how much muscle you want to gain, or how many inches you would like to lose off your waist.
The importance of taking inventory of where you are and setting a specific goal of where you would like to be cannot be overstated because it’s impossible to create an effective plan without them.
Just like it would be impossible to create an effective map for our trip without know where we’re starting and the destination we’re trying to get to.
(READ MORE on how to create an accurate and easy food journal)
Step 5 Systematic Progression
Have your results from your exercise plan ever plateaued? If you’re like most people, this is the main reason you’ve quit working out in the past. I can’t blame you either, who wouldn’t. I always say, going to the gym, dieting, and not seeing results is sort of like going to work and not getting paid for it, only an asshole would keep going back. The main reason that people plateau is that they fall into a bit of a routine. It’s easy to do, you go to the gym and do the stuff you like to do rather than the stuff that is a little more difficult or the exercises you aren’t as experienced or confident in.
When you fall into a routine your body begins to adapt to your exercise program and it stops changing.
It’s important to remember that the whole reason we get in better shape or stronger when we workout is because of this evolutionary survival response that’s built into our DNA. We workout and our body sort of says,” I’m not strong enough or fit enough for that, I need to be stronger and more fit so that I don’t die.” Then you get in better shape. Well if you do the exact same thing the following week your body goes, “I survived that last week so I don’t need to change.” It’s important that our plan systematically progresses and changes from one week to the next, each week building off of the previous week in order to continue to progress.
I’m not sure whether that statistic about only 5% of people reaching their fitness goals and staying there is correct or not. I do know this though. A lot of people fail over and over again. They get no results, some results, or just yo-yo back and forth between fit and fat. The big problem is most people don’t believe they can finally get fit, and stay fit. I’ve seen it hundreds of times. They decide they want to lose weight, they’re all excited, then they decide to do some fad diet or generic workout built for the masses, but they don’t have a specific plan as outlined above, so they ultimately fail. Then the next time they decide to lose weight they walk into it going, “I really want to lose this weight, but I failed before, so I probably won’t be successful, but I really hope I am.” They’ve built up this pattern of failure in their heads that usually turns out to be a self-fulfilling prophecy. If this sounds like you I want you to know,