The most important notion to understand in dropping body fat comes from a physiological standpoint.
There needs to be a difference in the amount of energy consumed vs the amount of energy expended.
This in turn creates a negative energy balance which forces the body to convert stored in the form of fat into energy into usable energy (usually in the form of glucose).
If your body doesn't go into a state of 'negative energy balance', it will not pull fat out of storage and you will not change the way your body is composed.
So, let's look at the two principle ways to make this energy (calorie) deficit take place.
1. Your Food Intake
2. Your Total Daily Energy expenditure (TDEE)
By all means, focusing solely on 1 of these will work, however, it's not as efficient nor effective.
So do yourself a favour and focus on both.
1. Your food intake.
You can try whatever "strategy" you want in order to deliver the underlying principle of fat loss, however, you just have to respect the PRINCIPLES of energy balance.
Whether your try keto, vegan, fasting, low carb, high protein...whatever.
Your daily and weekly calories need to be less than what your Total Daily Energy Expenditure (TDEE) is in order to force your body to use stored fat for energy and therefore reduce the amount you hold.
Think of it like driving around with 2 x Gerry cans in the back of your car. You want to deplete some of your main petrol tank so that you can start to use the fuel stored in the Gerry cans.
If you only every use what's in your main petrol tank and then re fill it each day, you're never going to tap into the extra storage inside the gerry cans.
Too many of us get caught up in the 'strategies' of dieting and advocating which approach is better, and forget that all diets point to one underlying theme of reducing calories whilst maintaining protein levels.
This is the principle of how a fat loss diet works. You reduce the amount of energy you're consuming, whilst aiming to maintain muscle mass. (since muscle mass is directly correlated with metabolism and therefore your TDEE)
Despite everyone having a self proclaimed "good diet", the proof is literally in the pudding and if you aren't where you want to be with your body composition, then something has to change.
We recommend knowing your Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR) and your TDEE so that you have a set of numbers that you need to hit. You can do this using myfitness pal or any other google related search to TDEE / BMR.
Then start tracking your food consumption by using an app like myfitnesspal.com so you can learn and understand the values that are attached to food and how they will influence your energy balance and your body's composition.
(Yes it seems hard and overwhelming, but it will literally be the make or break and fast track your results). + once you get started and realise that its not that bad, you'll start to enjoy it.
If you're reading this and want to change your composition, you have 2 take-away tasks I'd like you to complete. Using MFP
1. Get within 10% of your weekly calorie target
2. Get within 10% of your weekly protein target.
2. Total Daily Energy Expenditure
I know this sounds super simple, but the more you move, the more energy you will utilise.
Which means 1 of 2 things.
1. You will drop weight faster if you maintain the same amount of energy consumed.
2. You can eat a little more whilst still staying in a calorie deficit. Think of it like a little buffer system to make sure that you have more wiggle room.
There are so many strategies you can implement to increase the amount of energy you expend.
The most obvious and our favourite is a structured strength and conditioning program because of the efficiency it provides in building lean muscle mass and dropping fat mass.
The strength component allows you to develop lean muscle mass which is directly correlated to metabolism, so the more lean muscle you have, the more energy you will utilise at rest.
The conditioning component means you can burn a bunch of calories in a short amount of time, as well as the EPOC benefits you receive, also known as "the after burn" effect.
You can definitely put yourself in a calorie deficit by completing hours of cardio, however, your body is so amazing at reaching homeostasis, that each day you would have to increase the amount of actual time spent doing the activity, just to see the same result.
Not to mention you won't be increasing your muscle mass so by the time you lose all of your fat, you will just be a skinny rake who has a low basal metabolic rate (BMR).
So not only will you not have the desired body image you wanted, you are now very vulnerable to putting fat back on because you've got a low metabolism and therefore low TDEE.
Your aim should be to increase your TDEE, not reduce it. So you'll need a strategy to make that happen.
Think of it like compounding interest. The more you have in the bank, the more you'll accrue bonus points, except these will be in the form of calories.
So next time you slip up and have a burger or a glass of wine, it won't be so detrimental because your body will be a metabolising machine who munches through calories because of the hard work you've put in.
Your key take aways
1. Track your calories (just for a week or 2)
2. Hit within 10% of your weekly calories and protein goals.
3. Increase your training volume and make sure you're hitting a large volume of strength training.
4. It needs to be enough of a strength stimulus so that your body warrants an adaptation
5. Increase your NEAT (non exercise activity thermogenesis) by walking 10,000 steps a day and being as active as possible.