BowTied Ox

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Fat Loss 101

Welcome. Let’s talk about the most misunderstood topic in all of health and fitness—fat loss. I’m going to say 99% of everything you’ve ever heard is tragically wrong. The information circulating on fat loss is an atrocity that can and will hinder your goals.

This is because fat loss is a simply targeted goal. Ideally, your calories should be lowered to create a deficit to reach your fat loss goal. That’s it. You do not need to change anything else—just eat less and move more.

Now that the main issue is out of the way, let’s take a dive into the process of fat loss, and get a game plan going on how you can discover better results.

What Causes Fat Loss

This is a beginner level post, so I’ll stay away from discussing lipolysis and how your body uses adrenal hormones, called catecholamines, to facilitate fat loss.

What you must know and understand is your body requires a certain amount of calories to sustain day-to-day activities—this is your Base Metabolic Rate (BMR). BMR is the amount of calories you’d burn if you never moved or were in a coma. Everything else is Total Daily Energy Expenditure (TDEE)—we will focus on this for the intent of this topic.

TDEE will be the biggest determining factor in losing fat. If you eat less calories than you expend during the day, you will lose fat. Simple.

The hard part here is getting a baseline for your TDEE and executing a plan to create a caloric deficit.

In this post I mention how to calculate your TDEE. I’ll leave the basics below:

BMR x 1.5 for sedentary individuals (desk job or less than 5000 steps a day)

BMR x 1.8 for Moderately Active individuals (job involving walking around or 5000-7500 steps)

BMR x 2.2 for Highly Active individuals (Manual labor or on feet all day 10,000+ steps)

In a healthy individual (meaning no underlying hormone or metabolism issues) fat loss will come down to calories in vs calories out. If calories in are less than calories out, you WILL lose fat, this is the law of thermodynamics.

Diet

Eating foods that will fuel performance and facilitate a caloric deficit is the biggest point to be made while discussing this concept.

There is no answer in method, just preference and goal.

A lot of people are quick to attack carbs, and this is actually counterproductive if your goal is to maintain muscle mass and performance—which go hand in hand.

Focus on getting enough protein, around 1 gram per pound of bodyweight, and you can eat the rest in whatever configuration of fat/carbs you like. I suggest to get at least .3 grams of fat per pound of bodyweight for efficient hormone health.

Beyond this you will want to make sure the foods you are eating are dense in nutrients so your body can be in an optimal place to facilitate fat loss. These are foods like:

  • Eggs
  • Berries
  • Leafy Greens
  • Red Meat
  • Greek Yogurt
  • Organ Meats
  • Fatty Fish (w/ low mercury count)

There are a variety of more options, but you get the baseline. You’d be supremely healthy if you ate all of the above in whatever macro nutrient allocation you desire as long as it fits your daily calorie allotment.

Activity

When it comes to sustainable fat loss, diet will be the determining factor, but activity will be the predictive factor. This is because the more you move the more energy/calories you will expend—this, as you know, will facilitate fat loss and keep the fat off.

You cannot outrun a bad diet, but you can ensure that you have a little more flexibility. Muscle is very metabolically active, the more muscle you have, the higher you BMR. This is why it is easier for people with more muscle to burn body fat, they simply have a higher metabolism because of the demand to maintain muscle.

By lifting weights 3-5x a week, doing cardio 3-7x a week, and aiming for over 10K steps a day, you are essentially creating a furnace for fat loss to take place.

You will be able to eat more food while dieting, but it’s directly because you’ll be replenishing what you are burning.

Staying active will have a more pronounced effect on the cellular expression within your body and create more pathways for food to be used by the cells/muscle rather than stored as energy (fat). Part of this is insulin sensitivity, this means your body is better at using insulin and will shuttle it towards the muscle and cells for repair—rather than be stored.

Supplements

This is optional, this is also not a fix to your problem but rather a way to get maybe a 10% edge on your fat loss. There are certain supplements that will aid in the increase of your metabolism.

Caffeine will give you more energy, this will make you move more and increase your NEAT (Non Exercise Activity Thermogenesis, stuff like fidgeting, pacing, etc.) Caffeine can also increase your performance in the gym which means more caloric output—this is huge especially when you’ve been dieting for a while and are tired.

Yohimbine is an alpha reception antagonist. This targets your “stubborn” fat by signaling your body to increase blood flow to those receptors. If you’re going to do morning cardio, especially fasted, this can be a way to turn it up a tad.

Berberine is a supplement that can increase insulin sensitivity, and this can trigger your body to shuttle carbs into the muscle. This is also a very good supplement if you have higher insulin resistance. A lower carb diet would help if your resistance is high, but this will help nonetheless.

Putting It All Together

First and foremost calculate your daily caloric needs and calculate your TDEE. This will not be 100% accurate so adjust over time accordingly (you’re at maintenance when activity stays the same and the scale doesn’t move for a significant amount of time, think a couple weeks).

When you’ve established your TDEE, simply subtract 300-500 calories. This will have you cutting a little over half a pound to a pound a week, a sustainable rate that will preserve muscle mass.

With your diet, keep protein around 1g per pound of body weight and fill the rest of your diet in with nutrient dense foods that fit within your calorie allotment. Consistency is key here.

Lift weights 3-5x a week and keep cardio and steps as an additional tool for increased expenditure and health.

Supplement if everything else is on point to further facilitate fat loss and keep performance high in the gym.

This is it on the basic level—this is more than enough to ensure that you are losing fat and maintaining health and preserving (even building if you are newer to the gym) muscle mass.

There are no special tricks or gimmicks—you can fast if you’d like, do keto, carnivore, whatever method, as long as these general principles are followed, you will have success.