Tag Archives: fat loss

Quick and easy short term fat loss

If your goal is to lose fat quickly, stop over-analyzing and cut carbs. It doesn’t matter what the critics say. It doesn’t matter if eating carbs is good or bad. It doesn’t matter if there are other ways that “might” be better. We’re talking purely short term fat loss here.

When you want definite results, you rely on the data you have. And the data we have today says low carb works for short-term fat loss. So for the next 4 weeks, save yourself some mind-space and do the following.

  • Dump all kinds of sugar – honey, dessert, all fruit juice, soda, chocolate etc.
  • Restrict grains to only the meal after working out. Have lentils/beans instead during other meals.
  • Reduce fruit consumption to 1 medium fruit a day. Size? A grape is too small and a jack fruit is too big.
  • Eat 2 cups of vegetables with every meal but stay away from roots and tubers for the most part.
  • Do exactly as said and don’t try to find loop holes or work arounds.

For more, here is some fat loss information overdose.

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No sacrifices. No compromises.

Here is the deal…

There are no compromises. There are no sacrifices.

Whatever it is that you are doing you are doing it for yourself. Be it going grocery shopping to feed your family or wining & dining that person you are interested in or finding a house that you love or dealing with the shit your family (who, let’s not forget, you love) gives you or losing fat so you can look awesome.

Take fat loss for example.

I know you’ve given up gluten. I know you don’t eat at McDs anymore. I know you use very little oil in your cooking. I know eating out with friends is a challenge. I know you’ve forgotten what an ice-cream sandwich tastes like. And I know you talk about these ‘sacrifices’ to everyone you meet.

Here’s what I have to say – shut up!

If YOU want something YOU gotta work for it.

You want green in your bank every month? You got to go to work. You want the bliss of victory? You’ve got to train like your life depends on it. You want a PhD following your name? You’ve got to excel in school for years and years. You want to look awesome? You’ve got to consistently train and eat right for weeks or months or even years.

Listen. You’re giving up blahblah (or doing whatever the hell you call a sacrifice or compromise) not for someone else’s benefit but your own. So suck it up and stop talking about it like it is a big fuckin deal ‘cos it isn’t.

Once again..

There are no sacrifices. There are no compromises. There are only actions and results. Your actions dictate your results. Nothing more and definitely nothing less.

Quit making a whiny list of sacrifices and start taking responsibility for your actions. Suddenly, everything will make a whole lot of sense.

Adios!

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. 

– – – – – x – – – – – 

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.
Adios!

What is the best rate to lose fat?

Why am I losing only 1kg per week? How can lose more weight faster? How much longer before I reach my ideal body weight? By when can I expect to lose X kgs? 

These are all questions I get from clients and readers all the time and are questions that truly reek of desperation. Being an advocate of sensible and sustainable transformation, I thought it is best that I address the issue in detail while keeping the text as simple as possible.

This is what happens after 12 days on the die-on-the-13th-day diet

Truthfully, everyone wants to go to bed looking like Fat Albert and wake up like Will Smith. But, as fate would have it, the human body doesn’t function thataway. Fat loss is a very complex process that involves changes from the cellular to the organ level… but a process that is triggered by some very simple actions.

Unless you are clinically obese and/or have serious hormonal imbalances/autoimmune diseases, it is unacceptable that you are ‘unable’ to lose fat. In other words, if you are overweight and have been unsuccessfully trying to lose fat for a while, you either have something wrong under the hood (think: hormonal imbalances, micro-nutrient deficiencies or other physiological we don’t understand right away) or you’re not doing the right stuff (think: wrong diet, stupid training, stressful lifestyle etc.).

Fat loss for dummies

So what is so simple about fat loss? I’ll try to explain fat loss in 3 (overly simplified) steps.

  1. When you take in calories (i.e. eat food) you utilize (burn) the required calories and store the remaining calories for future use (in fat cells). These extra calories are stored as body fat.
  2. Consequently, when you take in lesser calories than you require, you utilize all the calories that you take in via food and then get the remaining of what is required from what is stored. That is, you burn the fat and fuel the machine (your body).
  3. So, irrespective of who you are, you need to be utilizing more calories than you consume in order to lose fat.

So, if you are overweight and are having trouble losing fat, it could only mean one thing – you are not utilizing your fat stores to fuel your activities. While this is easily perceived in a healthy body without any systemic derangement, even in the case that something is metabolically wrong (hypothyroidism, leptin resistance, insulin resistance, compromised fat oxidation capabilities etc.), what really happens is that the metabolic handicap restricts you from either mobilizing and/or oxidizing the energy (fat) and hence results in forcing you to stay fat. There is, of course, much much more to fat loss and the many mysteries behind fat loss, but that is beyond the scope of this article.

So why did I even mention all this? Today, thanks to the media, the word fat loss (or weight loss) has been so misinterpreted that…

  • we don’t quite know what it truly is and the complexity involved in its happening.
  • we don’t understand how simple actions can initiate fat loss resulting in long term sustainable results.

And as a result, we end up doing extremely complex actions to initiate (what we think is) a simple process and expect drastic results within a very short period of time (think: zero carb diets, oil-less cooking, detox, raw diets, fat burners, appetite suppressants  etc etc). This is either due to an insufficient understanding of the mechanics of fat loss or due to the baseless belief that if results require actions then awesome results require complex actions or both.

In other words, this is the equivalent of wanting to go from point A to point B using your car but hoping that a certain magical combination of gear shaft movements will potentiate the car to fly and hence reach your destination in record time. Sadly, a lot of people just end up sitting in their cars for years and years trying out the trillion possible gear shaft combinations that would make them fly while all they need to do is to displace that shaft left and up and start moving towards their destination.

Are we there yet?

So now, let’s assume you ‘understand’ fat loss and finally start driving to your destination. How long of a drive is it really? How long will it take you to reach your fat loss goals?

Honestly, I have no idea! But, sticking to the same analogy, the duration of travel and your rate of fat loss depends on a lot of things.

  • How far is your journey? How much fat do you have to lose?
  • Have you been this route before? Do you have any experience with trying to lose fat?
  • Are you taking the long comfortable route or are you taking the short crazy route? Are you planning on losing fat the slow and healthy way or are you looking to go on a (crash) diet?
  • How many unexpected traffic jams are possible? How many forced deviations (vacation, birthdays, business travel etc.) are possible?
  • How often do you take a detour? How often do you deviate from what needs to be done wrt nutrition and training and sleep?
  • And most importantly, how good is the vehicle? Does it have issues under the hood that you are unaware of that might slow you down or force you to stop a few times? Does your body have issues (hormonal imbalances, insulin resistance etc etc.) that you are unaware of that might affect the rate of fat loss?

With so many variables no one can ever tell you how long it will take you to reach your goals or exactly how many pounds of fat you can lose every week. And if someone does promise you a number, then the person is possibly hoping for weight reduction by means of making your wallet skinny.

Estimated rate of fat loss

That said, there is always an estimate. This estimate generally takes into account all these variables and is fairly relevant for the majority of general public. This estimated number holds true for rate of fat loss as it does for speed. If an estimated 30 min drive took you 3 hours, then there is something seriously wrong somewhere and if it took you only 6 minutes, then there is something very unsafe about it. You see my point?

Jumping off the analogy for a bit (only a little bit ‘cos I know you love this!) and talking purely fat loss, the general rate of safe fat loss per week for a generally healthy person is about 0.5-1% body weight per my observations. That is, if you weigh 150 lb (68 kg) and are looking to lose fat, a fat loss rate of 0.75-1.5 lb/week (0.35-0.7 kg/week) seems to be ideal. At this rate, it seems to be possible to continually lose mostly fat without risking loss of lean tissue or starvation.

While your rate could be higher or lower depending on your variables, this serves as a yardstick. Anything much more than this and you’re losing weight too fast which means you’re burning plenty of muscle and possibly pushing your body into a starvation mode. Anything much lower than this and you are best served taking a more critical look into your nutrition and/or training and/or thyroid. (Note that if you are just starting a fat loss phase and are losing a lot more than this, it could be due to water loss and is nothing to be worried about. Your rate of fat loss will eventually drop down and fall within this range)

So if you are losing at a rate that is within this window, smile and keep fighting the good fight for as long as it takes ‘cos you definitely are on the most optimal route to reaching your fat loss goals.

What is the reward?

I don’t want to take the analogy too far (if I haven’t already) but everyone’s travel time is different and it depends on too many variables, some of which you have control over and some of which you don’t. But once you realize that irrespective of how long this takes, this is your trip and you need to do this to look forward to a better future, the boring long “are we there yet?” trip becomes a journey! A journey during which you learn so damn much about yourself, your body, your physical capabilities, your mental toughness and much much more!

So instead of acting like the kid on the back seat constantly asking ‘How much longer?’, frowning, whining and sulking, be the kid that is super excited to be on a journey and has his head out the window! Make it count, make it memorable and make it something you’d remember for life ‘cos at the end of the day it is what you learn about yourself during this transformation that matters. In other words, the journey is the reward!

Peace out.

Success Story: From overweight to awesome

Note: Read my previous article ‘How to go from overweight to awesome‘ first and understand what it actually takes to make a change this significant.

In March 2011, I got an email from this person…

Divya (October 2010)

… and it read –

Hello Raj!

Greetings from Sydney!  I came across your blog via the Jugalbandi blog, and was very impressed with your own story, the diabetic client’s story and so on.  Needed some advice, and perhaps you can help!

I am an almost 40 year old South Indian living in Sydney. I am currently a stay at home mom with  a  one year old daughter. I have always been overweight (obese per the BMI index calculations), although no noted medical problems.  I have had a typical sedentary lifestyle being in IT.  I am a staunch  vegetarian (no eggs, avoid cheeses that are made with rennet etc.) I do however love my milk, curds, ghee, paneer etc!

About 3 weeks ago, I felt bloated, uncomfortable and without energy. I decided to change my lifestyle, and slowly began cutting down on grains, and started some moderate 30 min work outs – with the Biggest Loser XBOX game.

Last week my med report showed  5.8 on the Total/ HDL Ratio. and the GP’s suggestion was ” get some cardio exercises”  and “watch your diet – dont eat fried stuff”.  I do know that typically the only cholesterol source that I have is the dairy products, so the last one week I have done away with dairy, have negligible oils, but landed up not watching the grains!!

I know from your blog I have to go  ‘grain free’. However with cholesterol do I have to give up dairy as well, or will the grain free diet be enough to correct the imabalances?  I dont mind swallowing fish oil if I have to …but really cant eat eggs, salmon etc! 😦   I want to stay fit as long as I live and have an active life …I dont want to run marathons etc!!  I lost two approx 3 kilos in 3 weeks and currently weigh 82kgs (my height is 5.2′), and want to get to 70 kilos for now.  Please advice!

Thanks  and Regards,

Divya

Realize that I get too many emails like this and 1) I’m not going to play doctor and give them specific health advice and 2) Is it worth my time? How many of these people are truly going to make a change? To want is one thing, but (as many of you know real well), to do is a whole different ball game. So I replied with general information that could possibly help her. Very similar to what you would find on my Nutrition Cheat Sheet.

I love helping people who are committed to make a change and I always give them a choice between…

Here is the general information I can give you. You can start here and continue making iterative improvements. I’ll help you as much as I can without getting into specific details.

and

If you are not comfortable doing this by yourself, then (and only then) we can consider an online consult.

I have certain rules when I work with people. I always urge people to make changes by themselves before ever getting into a consult with me since there is a lot one can do using the information that is on this site. Its never about the money. Its about the commitment. I don’t have enough time to consult with everyone who contacts me but I do have the information that could help pretty much everyone who reads this site. So why not use it right?

Anyways, after that initial email exchange, Divya kept sending me updates with plenty of questions and concerns. Soon, I realized she was not the usual ‘Help me now!!!‘ fat loss enthusiast but the unusual ‘I had a wake-up call and I’m ready to make a serious change!‘ fighter. Our interactions grew and we moved on from general recommendations to more specific recommendations as and when she shared more specific details with me. It had been 2-3 months since we started interacting and Divya was seeing some great results mainly because she was making every effort possible to eat real food irrespective of whether she was traveling or working or whatever. Only at this point (mid-May ’11) we got into a consult and we got into a more regimented approach with respect to nutrition and working out.

Slowly but steadily we worked our way up to 150+ emails. And this is what we have in the end after 10 months, here is what we have.

Part 1 – Some random emails

Exhibit A – An update email dated 8th June ’11

Hello Raj – Weighed and measured my self today.  Before starting the workouts my weight was already down to 71.65kilos!  I was 75kilos when I filled out your questionnaire.  Was thrilled to find that today’s reading was 70.40kilos!

Exhbit B – My reply

Divya,
You know why this is so awesome? Because on March 6th when you first wrote to me, you said…

“…I want to stay fit as long as I live and have an active life …I dont want to run marathons etc!!  I lost two approx 3 kilos in 3 weeks and currently weigh 82kgs (my height is 5.2′), and want to get to 70 kilos for now.  Please advice!

Thanks  and Regards,
Divya”

And in 3 months you have lost ~ 12 kg and reached your goal. All this while you slowly made changes to your diet and while you traveled to India and while you were a vegetarian! And guess what… you have just started consulting with me and your journey toward fitness has just begun!

Very very proud of you!

Keep pushing hard… its all going to be great!

Exhibit C – A not so unusual OMFG email dated 14th November ’11

Hi Raj!  I feel like I betrayed my good body!  I cooked and cooked and cooked for my little girls bday party. Sugar, Fat, Wheat, Deep frying etc etc! The food was a hit, and I did land up eating a lot – in the name of tasting etc. But my weight is down to 60.85 today!! Maybe yesterdays sins will catch up tomorrow!!

Exhibit D – My reply…

Youre good dude. Its your little ones bday and you had some fun. Chill out. Havent you realized that youre not the crash dieting type? You are all about lifestyle changes and thats why you are at 60kg today… far far away from where you started! You are adream client Divya! Dont feel bad about the party and please dont call it a sin. Food is nourishment for the most part and celebration rarely. Embrace it. You’re good dude… you’re good!

Smile… cos its all good!

Exhibit E – The final update dated 30th January ’12

Hi Raj! Didn’t realize its been over a month since my last update!!!  Well I got down to 56kgs and then did some mega cheats over the holidays!  I also landed up not working out for a week as I was down with a severe cold &flu!  Re-started my strict routine last week!

Part 2 – Some random thoughts from Divya

Note: I wanted to keep this real (like I always do in this blog) and hence didn’t want to Divya to write a  testimonial or anything. I asked her to jot down whatever she could come up with when thinking about the last 10 months and this is what she had to say. Again, everything is quoted verbatim.

* I have always been overweight / obese. I have tried a few diets and programs earlier. It’s always been a losing battle that left me demoralized.   I never realized health and fat-loss  is so unbelievably simple until I started reading Raj’s blog, and began trying his approach. am convinced that this lifestyle is one of the best, and I can very easily follow it for the rest of my life.

* Something clicked when I felt his no-nonsense approach. Fat-loss, not weight-loss. Nutrition, not skimpy diets. Minimal effective exercises, not boring cardios. Great Health, nor merely great looks.

* I was obese, had messed up cholesterol figures, sleep-deprived, stressed, irritable and totally unfit. I shot off a mail to Raj, not expecting him to reply to a random blog reader. To my pleasant surprise, with two days, I received not just a  reply, but  clear and concise guidance on what to eat, what to avoid, what supplements to take and how to begin exercising.

* I started feeling better, happier and healthier  almost immediately after I began following his advice on eating clean. What had always seemed a Herculean task, was suddenly so easy.  Weight seemed to fly off effortlessly right from week 1.

* Raj’s blog is a wealth of information for anybody.  His customized nutrition and exercise program even more effective. It  is easy to follow, and filled  with sample diets, exercise videos, inputs on what supplements to take and so on.  He understands where you are in life, and plans what’s just right for you, and directly addresses your goals.

* The nicest part –  he even tells you how to have your ice cream cheese cake sundae, without beating yourself up about it!

* Raj’s facebook group of likeminded people is huge support, in a world that still largely believes whole grains, low fat food, heaps of fruit  and expensive gym memberships are key to good health!

* I used to find simple day-to-day household work tiring. When I wasn’t at the office, I was zoned out on my bed in front of the TV, for entire weekends.  These days, I am nearly always out all day – Beaches, Parks, Swimming,Dancing, Music, having the time of my life with my toddler.  I am raring to go even after the part is over.

* Motivation  is key. It’s not enough just to want and wish to be fit. Healthy lifestyles cannot be just a choice. I believe it’s the only way to live.  I am in my 40s, and I found my motivation with the arrival of my little girl.   I HAVE TO BE physically and mentally young and healthy in order to be a good parent, for many many  more years to come

* Socializing, partying, travel is not so difficult, and becomes easier and easier once you learn how to choose the right foods within the options available.

* About Familial and social pressures – What I have realized, is that people who care about you, are happy with your choices when they see the good it’s doing you. The others who mock your choices or refuse to see reason  –  I couldn’t care less about!!

* Interactions with Raj – Always honest, factual, no-nonsense and very prompt!

Part 3 – The before and after

I work with so many overweight/obese folks and they all complain about how long a journey they have ahead of them. What they don’t realize is that a year or two of fighting hard results in 30 or 40 or even 50 more years of bliss!

Divya realized that and here she is showing us what (a short) one year of investing in health and fitness can do for you…

January 2011                                                         January 2012

Thank you Divya. Thank you for being awesome! You inspire me and I’m sure you will continue to inspire many many more folks who see, hear and learn about you!

Summary

So a 40 year old vegetarian (who doesn’t even eat eggs) was able to lose 60 lbs in 10 months and literally changed her life around. All this she did by just eating real food and working out 2-3 days/week for less than a total of 2.5 hours/week. I’m sure a lot of you eat ‘cleaner’ than she does and workout for much longer than she ever did, but there is something she did that you didn’t do – she stayed the course! Divya was very very consistent and lived true to her goals. And that is exactly why she is where she is today.

So I have nothing different to say other than stop complaining, quit whining, forget shortcuts, throw your excuses into the bin and start making a change already! But what do you have to say? Why are you not making the change? Is it motivation? Do you not have the resources? Can I help you in any other way? Let me know in the comments section.

Peace out.

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