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Articles > Weight Loss > Fat Loss in Time for Summer
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With winter winding down, spring in the air and summer coming, everyone will be looking to lose fat and tighten up!

Many people don't want to just look good on the beach; if you're a bodybuilder you will also need to look good on stage. So where do we start? The very first thing is to determine how much fat you want to lose and for those more mainstream folks out there, understand the difference between fat loss and weight loss. It's far too common to hear a ton of misinformation about "dieting" or "weight loss". One look at typical mainstream dieters and its clear there's a lot of mistakes. From statements like "Want to lose weight? Just don't eat!" to the long list of weird diets and the misconception that weight loss equals fat loss. Weight loss means a loss of total body mass: fat, muscle and water. Wait! Did I just say muscle? No bodybuilder or
athlete wants that! The average mainstream dieter doesn't seem to care, what they fail to realize is weight loss means you'll just be a smaller fat person when you get done. Fat loss, on the other hand, means fat loss only! Sure, some water as well but by no means does it mean muscle loss. This is important because muscle requires a greater number of calories to maintain it or in other words, add muscle and you increase your metabolic rate, this in turn means you can eat more food! Not to mention you will look like a lean person if you only lose fat. For the bodybuilder, this is exactly what we want – the loss of fat results in an illusion, you look bigger than you really are because of a small waist. Take this one step further, if you focus your training on width – shoulder, lat and thigh – you carry the illusion even farther.

There are various calculations out there to determine your current body fat %, you can use calipers but many of us simply go by the mirror – how do I look? The first place your eyes go to is your midsection – is it flat or flab? While you should know where you are percentage wise, going by the mirror may be better because you tend to judge progress by how you look more than a number. However, you need a goal to shoot for, so I advocate taking pictures, measurements (waist, chest, arm and thigh), recording your current weight and at the least employing a calculation to determine body fat in pounds and as a percentage. Here are some calculations for this purpose:

Body Fat Formula For Women
(Total body weight x 0.732) + 8.987
Wrist measurement (at fullest point) / 3.140
Waist measurement (at naval) x 0.157
Hip measurement (at fullest point) x 0.249
Forearm measurement (at fullest point) x 0.434
Lean Body Mass: Factor 1 + Factor 2 - Factor 3 - Factor 4 + Factor 5
Body Fat Weight: Total body-weight - Lean Body Mass
Body Fat Percentage (Body Fat Weight x 100) / total body-weight

Body Fat Formula For Men
(Total body weight x 1.082) + 94.42
Waist measurement x 4.15
Lean Body Mass: Factor 1 - Factor 2
Body Fat Weight: Total body-weight - Lean Body Mass
Body Fat Percentage (Body Fat Weight x 100) / total body-weight




Now that we know where we stand in terms of fat, let's set a goal of around 2 pounds fat loss per week, any more that this will result in muscle loss. Total fat to lose is up to the individual and again should go by how you look. With this in mind, we now need a meal plan, so let's look at calorie intake. It's important to set up the proper ratios of macro-nutrients: protein, carbs and fats. Protein intake should be at minimum 1 gram per pound of body-weight, 1.5 grams is better still. You will be eating 6 times a day – small meals eaten every 3 hours that take advantage of correct protein timing. As far as I'm concerned, protein is the major macro nutrient in terms of gram intake, I do not feel you can really over-eat protein – within reason ,with proper timing and choosing low fat sources of course. Of the three macro-nutrients, protein is least likely to be stored as fat. It's also critical to help maintain an anabolic environment and promote muscle growth or at least muscle maintenance as it's hard to build muscle while on a calorie restricted meal plan. Carbs – they are not as evil as they have been made out to be... to a point. They are the body's preferred source of fuel, this is a basic need you must meet from your calorie intake. However, too many carbs beyond what you need and the body stores them as fat. Additionally, there are primarily two types of carbs: simple and complex (there is a little more to it than that but for this point we'll go with two). Complex carbs fall into different categories but this is the main type of carb you want to eat. Fibrous carbs, a form of complex carbohydrate and including such as veggies can eaten as much as you want,it takes more calories to digest them than what's actually in the food itm. Simple or sugary carbs are the real villain. While important for breakfast and during/ post workout due to their fast absorption, beyond those uses you want to avoid them completely.

This is due to their tie-in to insulin, a major anabolic hormone that's like a double-edged sword – anabolic on the one hand but tends to promote fat storage under the right conditions on the other. The "right conditions" are constant spikes caused by sugary foods eaten all day long as is the case with typical, mainstream food choices.

If you look at the food industry and what they shove down our throats as "food", it's an outrage. What's sadder still is that the average person has no concept of good and bad food or even what the fundamental functions of food are. Food is not for enjoyment! It provides fuel for the body and in our case, the basic materials necessary for muscle growth as well as basic body functions - maintenance and repair. If you consider that we are primarily water and protein, and that protein, in it's broken down form – amino acids – is responsible for thousands of fundamental daily functions in the body, the importance of the right calorie choices becomes clear, instead of choosing sugar, fat and sodium loaded crap.

Fats come in two basic types: healthy and unhealthy. Here is a break down of the different types of fats:

Unhealthy fats:

* Saturated fat. This is a type of fat that comes mainly from animal sources of food. Saturated fat raises total blood cholesterol levels and low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol levels, which can increase your risk of cardiovascular disease. Saturated fat may also increase your risk of type 2 diabetes.
* Trans fat. This is a type of fat that occurs naturally in some foods, especially foods from animals. But most trans fats are made during food processing through partial hydrogenation of unsaturated fats. This process creates fats that are easier to cook with and less likely to spoil than are naturally occurring oils. These trans fats are called industrial or synthetic trans fats. Research studies show that synthetic trans fat can increase unhealthy LDL cholesterol and lower healthy high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol. This can increase your risk of cardiovascular disease.

Healthy fats:


* Monounsaturated fat. This is a type of fat found in a variety of foods and oils. Studies show that eating foods rich in monounsaturated fats (MUFAs) improves blood cholesterol levels, which can decrease your risk of heart disease. Research also shows that MUFAs may benefit insulin levels and blood sugar control, which can be especially helpful if you have type 2 diabetes.
* Polyunsaturated fat. This is a type of fat found mostly in plant-based foods and oils. Evidence shows that eating foods rich in polyunsaturated fats (PUFAs) improves blood cholesterol levels, which can decrease your risk of heart disease. PUFAs may also help decrease the risk of type 2 diabetes. One type of polyunsaturated fat, omega-3 fatty acids, may be especially beneficial to your heart. Omega-3s, found in some types of fatty fish, appear to decrease the risk of coronary artery disease. They may also protect against irregular heartbeats and help lower blood pressure levels.

Now that we understand calories, here is a calculation that will allow you to determine total daily calorie needs:
Women: BMR = 655 + ( 4.35 x weight in pounds ) + ( 4.7 x height in inches ) - ( 4.7 x age in years )
Men: BMR = 66 + ( 6.23 x weight in pounds ) + ( 12.7 x height in inches ) - ( 6.8 x age in year )

To determine your total daily calorie needs, multiply your BMR by the appropriate activity factor, as follows:
1. If you are sedentary (little or no exercise) : BMR x 1.2
2. If you are lightly active (light exercise/sports 1-3 days/week) : BMR x 1.375
3. If you are moderately active (moderate exercise/sports 3-5 days/week) : BMR x 1.55
4. If you are very active (hard exercise/sports 6-7 days a week) : BMR x 1.725
5. If you are extra active (very hard exercise/sports & physical job or 2x training) : BMR x 1.9

Once you know your calorie requirements, we can take steps to reduce them. One of the more important principles is to not merely reduce them but cycle them and we will do this by manipulating our carb intake.

With that, let's set up our baseline macro nutrient ratios:

Protein: 40 to 50% of total calories – yes, that's right, as high as 50%.
Carbs: 30 to 40% but this will cycled and there will be low days
Fats: 10% but will tend to trend upwards due to cycling

However, with that let me say that I would rather focus on grams per meal than actual calorie intake. If you take your desired protein level – we'll go with 1.5 grams – and multiply that by your body-weight and divide that number by 6, this is your average protein intake in grams per meal. This does not include your post workout shake, by the way. This intake should never fall any lower. Carbs can be cycled as follows: always more carbs surrounding the workout, lower carbs on off days, for fat loss no carbs before cardio. So, we could set it up as: two days of 50-75 grams, about 150 grams on workout days, we'll say 4 days a week (this means weights and cardio) but fluctuate that 150, go as low as 120 and as high as 180 and finally one "free" day to eat as much as you want ( within reason, no "Man vs. Food" extremes). A couple of notes: the above example assumes you hit the weights 4 days a week and follow that with cardio or do cardio at a different time of the day. You want a little more carbs going into the weight workout to fuel the weight training otherwise you will not do justice to the weights. Any day you do cardio only, do it with no carbs beforehand but do have some protein prior to and even during if you like ( sip a drink like SciVation - Xtend while doing cardio). Going back to the idea of carb cycling, it's important to realize that the body wants to always keep a balance; this is called "homeostasis" which means "the ability of the body or a cell to seek and maintain a condition of equilibrium or stability within its internal environment when dealing with external changes". It's for this reason we adjust to our training programs, it's for this reason we see progress on a typical diet slow or stop after a while. This is why fluctuation is one of the critical components of progress. Mixing up your training keeps results coming; like wise cycling calories through primarily carb manipulation promotes progress.

OK, so we now know how we will set up our calorie intake. Here's some food lists for each macro nutrient so we know what foods we should be eating:

Protein:
Lean red meat such as top round, very lean ground beef (95%) , chicken, turkey, fish, low fat dairy, protein powder
Carbs:












When it comes to carbs, there are two guides to help you tell the absorption rate of various carb foods: the Glycemic Index and the Glycemic Load. The Index breaks down the rate of digestion with pure sugar being the baseline, the lower the number the better the food. Example – a rating of 55 or less means a low GI and includes things such as many fruits, beans and so on. A medium rating is 56 to 69 and includes sweet potatoes and whole wheat, as two examples. Anything beyond this you want to avoid, the range is 70 and up and includes processed foods such as white bread. The glycemic load (GL) is a relatively new way to assess the impact of carbohydrate consumption that takes the glycemic index into account, but gives a more complete picture. A GI value tells you how rapidly a particular carbohydrate turns into sugar but it doesn't tell you how much of that carbohydrate is in a serving of a particular food. You need to know both things to understand a food's effect on blood sugar. That is where glycemic load comes in. The carbohydrate in watermelon, for example, has a high GI. But there isn't a lot of it, so watermelon's glycemic load is relatively low. A GL of 20 or more is high, a GL of 11 to 19 inclusive is medium, and a GL of 10 or less is low.

So when choosing carb foods, you should use these tools as reference points, given that here is a list of good carbs choices:

  • Oatmeal
  • Sweet potatoes
  • Whole grain bread, rice and pastas
  • Vegetables
  • Fruits such as apples, oranges

Also some good Fat choices:

  • Cold water fish
  • Nuts, such as almonds and peanuts
  • Olive oil
  • Seeds, such as sunflower seeds

This list is by no means all inclusive but is a great starting point as far as being able to set up meal plans. As far as supplements, protein powder, a good multi vitamin and a good thermogenic are great additions to your fat loss program. Let's look at each one:

Protein Critical for those times when you need a fast absorbing protein, such as in the morning and after the workout, and for those times when you can't get to a meal. A supplement allows you to get to your protein goal without a lot of extra calories and with limited fat and carb calories.
Multi Vitamin Consider this health insurance. A lack of even one vitamin or mineral can have negative effects on your health and training efforts. You can't possibly get all the nutrients you need every day unless you know the complete nutrient profile of each food and purposely set up your diet to cover the intake of each individual vitamin and mineral. How easy does that sound? Take a good multi and that's it, no more worries!
Thermogenic I have believed in these since Day # 1 on the market – if you can speed up your metabolism you burn more calories, it's that simple. "But they aren't safe" I can hear someone say. Take as directed and there will be no problems. Problems occur when products are abused, it's as simple as that. In this day and age, the better products also provide thyroid support. This is important since the thyroid controls the metabolism.

Now, let's look at exercise. I see no need to stop lifting heavy as you normally would but your actual poundage may drop due to lower calories. What we'll manipulate is forms of cardio, we'll use basic steady state cardio, HIIT cardio and circuit training that combines weights with cardio. Right of the bat you want to make sure you're weight training as if you were trying to add mass. No super light weights for super high reps to "get defined". Using compound exercises for heavy weight and reps in the 6-8 range will allow you to hang on to your mass while you work on getting lean. For those mainstream people that fear weights will "bulk you up", fear not. If you are exercising, I suggest a more moderate approach to the weights, after all you're a beginner. Lower poundage and a more moderate rep range, say 10-12, is the way to go here. If you're a mainstream dieter that does not want to exercise, you will get much better results if you rethink that idea.

For fat loss, we have three main options: steady state cardio, high intensity, interval style cardio and a circuit approach combining weights and cardio. Steady state cardio simply means long duration ( as in 40-60 minutes), same speed throughout. This can have it's place especially for beginners needing to get in shape before moving on to more intense versions. but it's been shown that interval style is more effective at fat loss and that it keeps your metabolism elevated for quite a while afterward. Here's an example: after warming up, you run all out for about a minute ( depending on your conditioning you'll either have to work up to this or you can exceed one minute if you like), then you walk long enough to get your breath back (usually half the time spent going all out), then you do it again. Twenty minutes , 3-4 days a week is the average for this type of cardio. Circuit training can be done in more than one way: you can run through a weight circuit of 7-10 exercises two, three or more times and then do cardio, or you can do a set or two of weights, then do a minute of cardio and go back and forth for like this for twenty minutes. Originally, circuit training was devised as a stand alone fat loss method – you did 15 exercises in a row without rest using light weights and moderate reps, often doing the circuit several times before stopping. As cardio has evolved, circuit training has fallen somewhat out of favor but has seen new use when combined with cardio as described above.

Here's some routines that lay out some of the ideas presented above:

Routine #1 - Fat loss circuit: 1st cycle is a warm up

Squats
1x 15 reps
Bent rows
1x 15 reps
Power cleans
1x 15 reps
Pull-downs
1x 15 reps
Bench press
1x 15 reps
Power cleans
1x 15 reps
Overhead press
1x 15 reps
Curls
1x 15 reps
Extensions
1x 15 reps
Power cleans
1x 15 reps

Perform three more cycles, add weight, drop reps to 12, the weight should be a challenge but do not take any sets to failure. Power cleans, a demanding exercise, are used throughout to elevate the heart rate and keep it elevated. Each cycle is to be done with no rest, rest only 30 seconds between cycles.

Here's a routine I haven't seen in to many places:

Limit carbs the evening before and day of doing this routine

Do the above routine for 6 cycles with as little rest as possible to deplete glycogen stores as much as possible. Once you are finished, drink a BCAA drink like Xtend, rest about 5 minutes and proceed to do 30-40 minutes of cardio. Tailor your cardio choice to your conditioning level. By depleting glycogen stores you will burn fat as fuel when you do cardio and by drinking a drink like Xtend, you will spare muscle tissue.

Here's an example of cardio mixed with weights:
(use a light to moderate weight on all excercises)

Cardio warm-up
5 min
Bent rows
1x10
Cardio
1 min
Bent rows
1x10
Cardio
1 min
Bent rows
1x10
Cardio
1 min
Bent rows
1x10
Cardio
1 min
Bench press
1x10
Cardio
1 min
Bench press
1x10
Cardio
1 min
Bench press
1x10
Cardio
1 min
Bench press
1x10
Cardio
10-15 min

This routine is tougher than you might think. As far as exercise choice, you can really use any exercise combination, you can use as written but add 1-2 more exercises if you like. I've done it as written and find it to be a good routine. Routines like this allow variety in your training as opposed to the same thing day after day. Variety is a key to progress whether it's fat loss or muscle mass.

So there you have it, a complete program for fat loss. Implement these strategies and you'll be happy with the results.

Email me at sb5660@windstream.net with questions or comments.

By: Jim Brewster


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