The two paths to fat loss heaven

I know I owe you guys one more post in The Gluten(free) Myth series, but I’m in the midst of some gluten based experiments and will need a few more weeks to collate my findings and create a post out of it. Thank you for your patience. 

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Sure there is plenty of talk about not focussing on fat loss and instead focusing on health and welness and blah blah. All that is awesome but truth is that most people today can benefit from some fat loss. That being the case, why do most people struggle to get the chub off? Well, ‘cos most people half-ass the efforts. They either do the wrong thing or do things wrong. Let me explain.

I have already discussed in detail about what the right thing is here, here, here, here and everywhere. If you have any questions about what the right thing is wrt fat loss, read up first. So, moving on from doing the right thing to doing things right, there are two ways, and only two ways, to getting lean.

  1. The crazy way
  2. The not-so-crazy way

And the best thing about these two ways is that they are both legit and they both work marvelously and one is no better than the other. It all depends on which is better suited for you.

The crazy way, and my preferred way to fat loss, is nothing short of an all out battle. You lock (in your goals), you load (up your eating and training plan) and fire!

This is for you if you…

  • Have a legit goal. Eg. You need to lose a few pounds and look good for an upcoming event or you need to drop weight for a competition.
  • Are truly disciplined and can commit to a not interesting (but not necessarily boring) food life for a period of 12-16 weeks.
  • Enjoy training and can commit to 4-5 days of focussed training per week.
  • Are bold enough to say no to yourself or anyone else who tries to get you to deviate from your nutrition or training plan.

And this is what you need to do.

  • Set a (short term) goal. Based on what your bodyweight is, figure out your optimal rate of fat loss (per this article) and come up with how much weight you can lose in 12-16 weeks. For instance, I’m about 150 lb (68 kg) at 10-12% BF and if I want to get lean, I’d aim to lose 5-6 lb (2-3 kg) in 12 weeks and hope to end up at about 146 lb (66 kg) at 8% BF.
  • Come up with a training plan or find someone who can help you with one. You don’t need anything fancy. The basic movements for strength work 2-3 times a week, sprints or sled drags or hill sprints 1-2 times a week and 50-60min of super low intensity cardio (i.e. walking or enjoyable swimming) everyday is all you need. You can follow a plan like the “how to look awesome naked” plan or a few 4 week plans like this one or create your own plan.
  • Come up with a nutritional plan you can sustain for about 3 months. As a general rule for fat loss, up the protein and fat and eat carbs (starch and fruit) only immediately after your workout. About 1 gm of protein, 1/2 gm of fat and 1 gm of carbs per lb of target bodyweight is a good place to start. Eat more (protein) if you’re losing more than you should and eat less (carbs) if you’re not losing enough. For more read the “free stuff”.
  • Have a cheat meal every other week. The term cheat meal, here, means eating foods that aren’t allowed in your 12-16 week plan OR eating more of the allowed foods. Figure out what you need (the dessert cheat for sanity or the excess calories for more energy) and do it.
  • Do nothing more and do definitely nothing less. Stay true, real true, to the plan for a short 3-4 months. Make no deviations. Grab the bull by the horns and get shit done!

The not-so-crazy way, is by contrast a chilled out, gradual and slow approach. You set some basic ground rules and go about living your life.

This is for you if you…

  • Have a vague goal. Eg. You need to lose some weight or you need to improve your health/fitness.
  • Are not dedicated enough to stick to a very strict training regimen or nutritional plan for more than a few days.
  • Don’t really enjoy working out but do it ‘cos you need to lose weight (or improve your health etc.).
  • Are prone to “falling off the wagon” fairly easily when tempted or hungry or stressed.
  • Are 50+, not athletically inclined and are doing this purely to stay healthy/pain free.

And this is what you need to do.

  • Set a (long term) goal. For eg. decide to lose 5-6 kgs in the coming year. If you lose 7 don’t eat a restaurant and if you lose only 4 don’t jump off a cliff.
  • Forget training plans and find a way to increase your activity level. You don’t necessarily have to join a gym or sign up for any programs, but make some lifestyle changes. For eg. find someone who will walk with you 3-4 days a week, swear to never use the elevator/escalator, carry your groceries, swear to not take the car for anything under a 15min walk, find a sport you like and play twice a week, do some home workouts with involve just bodyweight squats, pushups, lunges etc, or create your own training plan as instructed here.
  • Forget diets and nutritional plans and set yourself some food rules. Eat dessert only once a week and limit yourself to a small portion. Always leave the table when you’re still a tiny bit hungry. Eat more vegetables and meat and less starch and fruits. These 10 simple food rules will do the trick real well.

And here are some special cases…

  • If you are grossly overweight or clinically obese or have anything more than 25 kg to lose, you definitely want to go the not-so-crazy way. Your run is a marathon and you need to tackle it appropriately.
  • If you are just a few pounds away from reaching your happy body, then the crazy approach is your friend. Suck it up for a couple of months and you’re good to go.
  • If you’re an athlete (or wannabe elite athlete) capable of controlling your bodyweight fairly well, then the crazy approach it is.
  • If you’re considering making a chance in your parents’ lives by helping them shed some weight, the not-so-crazy way is definitely what you want to consider.

As complicated as you want fat loss to be, it really is that simple. Not easy but truly very simple. The reason most people fail in their fat loss efforts is not because they chose the wrong diet or wrong workout program but because they choose the wrong approach (for their type). Sure there is no way to say which exact type you are, but the key is to try both. If you have tried one and that didn’t work, maybe you should give the other approach a shot.

After all, insanity is nothing but doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result each time. So mix it up a little and instead of wondering if the grass is greener on the other side, hop in and check it out for yourself.

One response to “The two paths to fat loss heaven

  1. Pam June 12, 2012 at 2:43 am

    Thanks! Yours is the only article that says to not eat or at least control the amount of fruit to eat. It is so easy to over do fruit snacking because of all the sugar. Thxs

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