As I promised in my blog yesterday, I am going to start discussing some of the things I've discovered that work for me (and will work for you) in my quest to lose fat.
Disclaimer: I am not a doctor or a nutritionist. I am just a guy who did a lot of research into losing fat and found techniques that worked for me and WILL work for others.
Ok, now that we've got that out of the way, let's get down to business. The first thing you will notice is that the title of this blog is "Losing Fat", not "Losing Weight." You need to stop thinking about getting in shape as "Losing Weight". This is the wrong attitude. In fact, losing weight can be a bad thing! Your goal is to lose the useless fat on your body without losing the useful part of your body (muscle). Now, if you are significantly overweight, you will likely see a drastic drop of weight at the beginning. This will not last forever, though. You will reach many points where your weight loss stops for a significant amount of time. Do not be discouraged by this. You MUST keep at it. While you may not notice your weight changing much, you will likely notice other signs of success. Signs such as decreased resting heart rate, decreased blood pressure, lower cholesterol, etc.
The human body does not want to lose fat. It is genetically designed to store fat and preserve it at all costs. It's a sort of genetic 'survival instinct'. In ancient days when Man had to hunt down and kill his next meal, it was normal to go long periods of time between meals. Hence the human body evolved the ability to store and preserve fat as a way to keep the body alive between times when you are able to find something to eat. However, in these days of supermarkets and fast food restaraunts on every corner, the availability of food is no longer a problem. The evolution of our bodies has not caught up with this relatively recent development of easily available food.
Because we are fighting our body's own genetic tendency to preserve fat, it is difficult to lose the fat. You have to do things very precisely to get your body to the point where it's burning fat, but not muscle. Because our body is so hardwired to preserve fat, it will preserve fat at all costs. This includes at the cost of muscle. Many people go on these crash no-carb diets in order to 'lose weight'. What many don't realize is that much of the weight they are losing is muscle, not fat! Your body will actually consume your muscle mass before it consumes your fat stores. This is one of the main reasons that you MUST work out regularly when trying to lose fat. By working out, you strengthen and thereby increase the size of your muscles. This offsets some of the muscle loss side effects of losing fat. I will have some choice words as to why these no-carb diets are incredibly UNHEALTHY in a future blog.
Another reason working out is critical, is because by building more muscle, your body will be burning more calories (and hence more fat) just by sitting around doing nothing. Fat is dead weight on your body. Your body does not have to exert any energy to maintain it. Muscle is different. Muscle is metabolically active. This means that your body has to burn a certain amount of energy to maintain that muscle mass. The more muscle mass you have, the more energy your body has to burn to maintain it. This causes your body to burn more calories, just to maintain itself. Combine this fact with a reduced calorie diet and you cause your body to go into a caloric deficit. This means you start burning fat, which is the ultimate goal here.
Let's go back to my comment earlier about how you might gain weight and that this would be a good thing. What I mean by this is that you will be gaining weight in muscle mass. The factor you should be looking at to determine the success or failure of your attempt to lose fat is your body fat percentage, not your body weight. If your body fat percentage is going down over time, this means you are succeeding. Now don't think that this extra muscle weight is going to cause you to be a 'fat muscular' person. It won't happen. Muscle is a much more dense material than fat is. A pound of muscle takes up considerably less space than a pound of fat. This means that if you lose a pound of fat, but gain a pound of muscle, you will actually get skinner, since the muscle takes up less space than the fat does. This means that you will find your waistline shrinking, despite the fact that you are apparently not losing weight. Also, don't bother with those body fat percentage scales you can buy in the stores. In my experience, I've found these scales to be VERY inaccurate. Join a gym (which is a requirement for getting in shape). Most gyms offer free or low cost body-fat readings as part of the membership. Take advantage of this. Have a body fat reading done once a month and plot your progress.