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  • Are Restrictive Diets Stopping You From Losing Body Fat?

    The 3 Truths about Dieting & Losing Fat in the Long Term

    The first word many people think about when they decide to start or restart a journey to a lighter, slimmer, healthier version of themselves is DIET.

    That’s right, the dreaded “D” word.

    With the fast pace of society today where people want results FAST, it’s no surprise that there are almost as many different ‘diets’ out there as there are Kilojoules in a McDonald’s Big Mac Meal.

    However, the longevity of the results experienced when utilising these fat-loss tools, does make me question if they’re really worth it. Are the results most people see actually hurting your ability to lose stubborn fat more than helping it?

    Let’s take a look at a very common diet that a lot of people are trying these days: The low/no carb diet.

    I can hear some cries through my computer screen from some of you after just reading those words. Yep, some people actually restrict themselves from eating pasta, rice, bread, potato!

    Crazy or not, this particular diet has helped many people lose weight in the short term. That said, carbs are often not the real problem here.

    To make things clearer and to get to the bottom of what’s really going on when you take on a restrictive diet like the low carb diet, here are the 3 truths about dieting & losing fat in the long term:

    1. Most weight-loss experienced on a low carb (or other restrictive diet) is a result of eating less Calories than you would if you ate normally.

    This is probably the most important take away from this article and because of that you need to look up and read that again before continuing.

    Eating less total energy than you’re burning is the most important factor when it comes to losing weight. Even more so than exercise! [2]

    That’s often what begins to happen (in a big way for some people) when they cut out carbs. For a lot of people, carbohydrates make up a massive portion of their total food throughout the day. That’s why it’s only logical that people start to miraculously lose weight when carbs are dropped low.

    1. Restrictive diets are often just a short-term fix to a long-term problem

    We all want to look sexy yesterday. But we all want to look sexy tomorrow and next week and next year too right? This is exactly the reason that any changes to our diet or training routines in an effort to achieve the body of our dreams should be sustainable in the long term.

    You may well lose some weight but cutting out carbs from your diet for a month or two. However, what do you think is going to happen when you add them back into your diet after depriving yourself from them? What I’ve seen happen in the past is often one of two likely scenarios:

    • Your weight will return back to a similar point it was at before you started since your total calorie intake is back to where it was.

    OR

    • You will in fact gain more weight than you lost whilst doing the diet because you vacuumed up a whole packet of Tim Tams, 7 subway cookies and a whole loaf of bread because you craved carbs so bad.

    … carbs are addictive, I get it.

    Whenever you decide to take on a new diet, always consider the longer term as well as the short-term desire to look sexy in that new bikini when the weather is hotter next month.

    1. Excessive restrictive dieting can make it easier to put fat back on

    One of the most commonly overlooked dangers of yo-yo dieting with methods like the low carb diet are that if calories are reduced too much too quickly, this can hurt your metabolism [1]. For example, if you’re eating approximately 1600 Calories per day but you decide to take on a new diet where you’re eating 1000 Calories, then this could result in problems down the road.

    That essentially means that if done too frequently, restrictive diets can make it easier to put fat back on after losing it.

    The main reason this occurs is because when we eat less food, our metabolism slows down a bit but when we eat slightly more food, it speeds up. This is all in an attempt to keep our body at a certain weight where it feels “comfortable”. This comfortable point can also be referred to as the ‘body fat set point’.

    After coming off a period of lower total calories like many people do when they try a low carb diet, their metabolism has slowed down a bit to try and avoid moving from the set point too quickly. Once, they’ve finished their diet and switch back to higher calories, many people will overindulge a bit.

    Since, it takes some time for your metabolism to readjust back to normal levels, excess calories won’t be burned as quickly and thus you may even end up heavier than when you started your diet.

    At the end of the day, restrictive diets are just one method to help people improve their eating habits and start to fuel their body with the right things it needs. This article isn’t saying that restrictive diets can’t help people to drop body fat and achieve the body of their dreams. It’s more of a warning to people thinking that all they have to do is follow the diet and their problems are solved.

    As the great Nutrition PHD Layne Norton once said: “For every gime, there’s a gotcha”.

    The best nutrition or training plan for YOU, is and always will be the one that YOU can stick to.

    If the biggest problem when it comes to burning stubborn fat for you is not knowing where to start, how much food you should be eating or even the best kinds of foods for your goals, then you may want a little more help.

    The Alpha Fitness team are always happy and willing to help with whatever it is that’s holding you back from having that amazing, head-turning bikini body you want, this summer.

    Drop us a message and let’s get started ASAP.

    That’s it for now from Jake and the Alpha Fitness team,

    Happy toning!

    Jake is passionate about helping women reach their full potential by rapidly transforming their bodies through holistic methods. To find out more, visit www.alphafitness.com.au.

     

    References

    1. Stiegler P, Cunliffe A: The role of diet and exercise for the maintenance of fat-free mass and resting metabolic rate during weight loss. Sports Med. 2006, 36: 239-262. 10.2165/00007256-200636030-00005.
    2. Kerksick, Chad et al. "Effects Of A Popular Exercise And Weight Loss Program On Weight Loss, Body Composition, Energy Expenditure And Health In Obese Women". Nutrition & Metabolism1 (2009): 23. Web. 16 Oct. 2016.
  • I'm just getting started. What are the most effective exercise machines to lose fat and will I get hungry?

    Since you are expending more energy as a result of your exercise, your body is going to be crying out for additional nutrients - hence why you are hungry.  This is a perfectly natural response and your body will require additional nutrients to compensate for the added energy expenditure.

    Meanwhile, it's not so much the type of exercise that will lose the most weight, it's all about intensity.  Find a cardiovascular machine that you enjoy - whether it's a treadmill, bike, elliptical, rower or recumbent bike, they will all do a very effective job in losing the weight.  A great idea is to rotate between several machines to keep variety in your workout.  The reason why I suggest that you find a machine that you enjoy is so

    a) you will be more likely to stick to your cardio regime in the long-term
    b) you will most likely push a little bit harder and thus increase the intensity - which means RESULTS

    The "intensity" factor is crucial.  Begin at a pace that you feel comfortable with and don't overdo it.  There is nothing worse than pushing yourself too hard right from the get-go - this can be extremely discouraging (since you won't feel too great after your workout) and this can also be dangerous if your body hasn't yet adjusted to the exercise demand.

    Over several weeks, increase the intensity as your body becomes fitter.  This could mean running faster, higher resistance, a greater incline, a faster RPM etc.  If you fail to do this, your body will have no need to continue adapting to the increased physical demands.

    There are a few key articles that may be of interest on my website:

    Getting Started – A Guide For The Obese Individual 
    Getting Started In The Gym 
    The Art Of Adaptation (an article I just had published in Australian IronMan Magazine)
    You Can Always Perform At A Higher Standard 
    The Fat Burning Zone (another article published in several Aussie Fitness/Bodybuilding magazines)

    These would be a great starting point for you.  I also highly recommend that you read a number of Q&A's on the website - particularly those in the "Fat Loss" section.

  • How do I lose my butt?

    If you are seeking to build muscle around your buttocks (ie. your glutes), the following resistance exercises are excellent:

    - Squats
    - Leg press
    - Incline leg press
    - Lunges

    If you are seeking to lose fat from your buttocks, all you need to do is some cardiovascular exercise.  Unfortunately you cannot choose where to lose fat from - your body does the job for you.  Hypothetically, you could perform 200 repetitions of leg press (in a cardiovascular style of training) yet lose more fat from your stomach than your bottom.  Spot reduction is a complete myth.

    Worth noting, be very careful with squats.  Whilst squats are an excellent lower-body exercise, squats can be very dangerous if not performed properly.  A good idea is to begin on a more basic exercise, eg. leg press.  Once you have gained more experience in the gym, squats may be a more viable option.

    Any form of cardiovascular exercise will assist in losing fat from your entire body - treadmill, bike, recumbent bike, rowing machine, walking, sports, leisure activities etc.  Introduce a regular cardiovascular exercise regime into your lifestyle, along with a sound diet and watch your butt (and fat from the rest of your body) disappear!

  • I am on a low carbohydrate diet. Will I be able to build significant muscle?

    There are two key factors when it comes to building muscle mass - training and diet.  Both are essential parts of the equation.  If one is not up to scratch, then you're wasting your time.

    It is possible to cut down and build significant lean muscle mass simultaneously.  However, for an adult male to do this on an extremely restricted carbohydrate (and calorie) diet, this is not a realistic goal.  The reason being that carbohydrates will facilitate protein synthesis (ie. assist building muscle).  By depleting yourself of carbohydrates (and calories) you will lack energy and your ability to recover from sessions will be severely hampered.  If your body cannot recover effectively, then it will not be able to build lean muscle mass - period.

    The primary goal of ketosis is to lose fat, not to build muscle.  For an adult male, once you reach a certain carbohydrate daily consumption threshold, you cannot realistically expect to build significant amounts of lean mass.  I am speaking both from theory and experience when I say this.

    Also just for your information, all muscle is built outside the gym - lifting weights is simply a tool to stimulate this biological process.

  • Is it possible to lose fat and gain muscle simultaneously?

    For the vast majority of us, burning fat whilst at the same time building muscle is possible to achieve. How much will greatly depend upon your genetic makeup - whether you are more prone to fat loss and/or muscle gain.

    Generally speaking, the more fat loss you experience, the more of a calorie deficit your body will endure. This will discourage protein synthesis. So at the end of the day, you need to find a happy medium between fat loss and gaining muscle.

    Speaking from personal experience, about a year ago I entered in a 12 week competition where I lost 9.9kg of fat mass and gained 0.8kg of lean mass (as detailed here).  This was achieved by a sound eating plan, alongside consistent high intensity training.

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