The fitness industry has, for many years now, found its relevance in addressing the one big question:
"How do you lose a lot of weight in a short span of time?"...
Many so called experts in this industry- from coaches to nutritionists have tried to tackle this challenge through a multitude of workout regimes, and fancy diets.
However, what's the best way to approach this?
In order to understand weight loss, or more specifically, "Fat Loss", let's first dig into some fundamental concepts associated with it.
The difference between Fat loss & Weight loss:
The weight that we view on the weighing scales is a measure of the following: Bones+ Muscles+ Fat + Water;
What most of us mean by 'weight loss' is a reduction in the overall fat percentages in our bodies;
The reason why weighing scales do not help with measuring 'Fat Loss' is that they do not measure the fat percentages;
Training in the gym (strength training) leads to a decrease in the fat percentage and an increase in the lean body weight (bones+muscles). This is a positive outcome;
However, the decrease in fat, and the increase in strength do not happen at equal/ comparable levels;
Therefore, most of us end up thinking that we are making little, or no progress while we are moving towards a positive training outcome.
Caloric deficit- what's this?
When it comes to weight loss, a well tested mantra is 'caloric deficit'- you are often advised to eat in a deficit;
Caloric Deficit occurs when you consume fewer calories than what your body needs to maintain its current body weight;
Alternately, a deficit can occur when you expend more energy than what's taken in;
How should you follow a deficit diet?
Being on a deficit diet does not mean 'depriving yourself of good food';
It doesn't mean having 'one meal a day', or having meals that cut out carbs/ fats/ other vital nutrient(s);
Caloric deficit diet means experimenting with yourself by cutting down calories in small portions, and checking to see if this deficit works for you;
If you feel tired while on a deficit diet, it means that you need to 'up' the calories a little bit and so on;
There is no 1 size fits all; a deficit diet for each individual depends on a lot of factors such as:
Current Body weight
Activity levels/ Lifestyle
Food preferences etc.
Therefore, you need to experiment with yourself by starting with small calorie cuts, and progressively moving forward while also ensuring that the body is not deprived of its essential nutrients.
So, now that we get the basics, let's explore some myths surrounding fat loss:
Myth 1: Lose 10 kg in 20 days!
Sustainable fat loss can't happen in a short span of time. Let's measure this now (measures are approximate only):
1 kg= 7700 cal;
This means, 10 kg=77,000 cal;
In order to lose 10 kg in 20 days, you need to expend =3850 cal / day;
This means you need to eat 3850 cal fewer / day; alternately, you could expend 3850 cal through a combination of exercise+ diet;
However, this is not practical;
Expending 3800 cal will lead to exhaustion, and is hardly sustainable!
Myth 2: Fancy Diets that promise Fat Loss!
A plethora of fancy diets that recommend things such as one meal a day, or cutting down on carbs, and other essential nutrients- DO NOT work on a long term basis.
When it comes to fat loss, the key factor is sustainability and this means an ability to stick to the food habit on a long term basis.
When you deprive yourself of essential nutrients, the hormones that depend on these nutrients get impacted; this in turn leads to a dip in metabolism among other things; a dip in metabolism means a decrease in the body's ability to burn fat; this in turn works against achieving fat loss;
Myth 3: You should push (read punish) yourself hard in order to achieve fat loss
We hear a lot about avoiding high fat meals such as fried bajjis, samosas, and so on;
Very often we find ourselves saying 'No' to these insanely delicious snacks on account of maintaining a strict diet;
However, it is ok to indulge in these delicacies once in a while;
Here's where the 80-20 rule can be applied:
Stick to a healthy meal 80% of the time, and allow yourself a certain level of indulgence 20 % of the time;
You need not feel guilty about eating that 1 snack- once in a while;
Importantly, you don't have to run on the treadmill (and track the 1000 calories burned) immediately after having this snack; yes
Deprivation often leads to increased feeling of hunger, and provokes us to eat multiple smaller meals; this in turn may lead to increased caloric input rather than sticking to a deficit diet for weight loss.
Myth 4: More Cardio means more fat loss
Cardio burns calories during the time of the activity- yes.
However, blindly following a cardio-only regime without focussing on body composition will lead to loss of muscle mass (read strength), and this is not a desirable outcome.
While weight loss is directly related to calories, 'fat loss' is about maintaining the body composition too.
Here, let's understand that the toned look (that most of us desire) comes with strong muscles.
A cardio-only regime overlooks the importance of building strong muscles; therefore, it is important to focus on 'Strength Training' too while on the fat loss journey.
Long story short: Body composition (Fat, Bone, Muscles, Water) matters while training for fat loss!
The fitness industry is rife with fads, and myths that are far from being useful;
These fads target the insecurities of people- promising outcomes that are neither sustainable, nor healthy;
However, fitness is, and is more than the exercises carried out in the gyms- it is a lifestyle that is important for healthy living;
Therefore, we need to start viewing it from a long term perspective- something that we are able to stick to, on a long run;
Be it the diet, or the workout plan- it needs to progressively prepare you for better health;
In order to achieve weight loss, or rather, fat loss, it is imperative that we follow some good practices such as eating a wholesome diet, including strength training in our workout plan, and so on;
The most important thing however is viewing Fat loss with patience- after all, 'slow and steady wins the race'!