In this day and age we see all sorts of crazy information on how to lose weight. Some tout diet pills while others tout shakes and teas. Then, of course, you have those who are hellbent on a particular diet and will not budge. They claim their diet is THE ultimate diet and any other diet is inferior. I bet you’ve come across at least one of these situations, but probably more. And let me guess – you’ve tried some or all of these, not seen any results, and quickly gave up. Sound about right? Before I get into the magic equation for fat loss, let’s talk about a few things first.
While this may sound like it’s the same thing, it isn’t. At least in my opinion they are not the same thing. let’s start with weight loss.
To me, weight loss is losing weight and becoming a smaller version of yourself no matter which way. This is driven by eating less calories than your body is burning (known as a caloric deficit), but not necessarily paying a ton of attention to the foods you’re eating. You are solely focused on making sure you hit the calories you need to hit. It could mean doing so using healthier options or it might not. You’re just happy to hit your calories.
By hitting your calories, you lose weight but you do so at a cost. You generally lose water weight, muscle, and probably some fat, too. That may be all you care about and if so, great!
Losing fat, by contrast, is just that. Ensuring your weight loss is primarily fat and water weight. In fat loss, your lean muscle is preserved, which is a great thing. Just like I explained above, you still need to eat less calories than your body burns. The difference here is you ARE paying attention to the types of foods you’re eating. More than anything, this means you are ensuring you’re eating enough protein to preserve the lean muscle you have. There are more benefits to consuming more protein, but I’ll save that for another post.
Knowing that, let’s move on to the magic equation for fat loss!
Ah yes! It’s the moment you’ve been waiting for! The super secret, incredibly amazing magic equation for fat loss regardless of diet!
You ready?! Here we gooooooooo
Caloric Deficit with adequate protein + Lifting Weights + time/consistency/patience = Fat Loss
I will break down each of these to explain why they are important. I’ll add that sleep can and technically should be added to the equation as rest and repair are necessary, but as long as you have the elements I listed above you’ll lose fat even if you’re not getting the greatest sleep.
Let’s get started.
This is easily the most important part of losing fat. I alluded to this above, but in order to lose fat you need to eat less calories than your body is burning. This is a non-negotiable.
Once again, it’s important to consume enough protein to ensure you lose minimal muscle during your fat loss phase. By not eating enough protein you risk losing muscle. Would you rather your weight go down due to mostly losing fat or due to losing a combination or muscle and fat? My guess is mostly fat.
Protein recommendations range from .7-1g of protein per pound of bodyweight. If you’re 200lbs you’ll want to consume 140g-200g of protein per day. That may be tough if you’re not used to eating that much protein daily. If that’s the case, aim for the lower end of the range and work your way up to the higher number over time.
Once again, there are more benefits to eating enough protein than just preserving your muscle, but I will cover that in a later post.
Adding any kind of exercise during a fat loss phase is a good first step. I won’t knock you for your choice in exercise, but lifting weights is the optimal for fat loss. Lifting weights will give you the definition you’re looking for more than any other type of exercise. Lifting will also ensure you are preserving your lean muscle tissue as opposed to losing it. This is another reason why it’s important to consume enough protein. Here’s a bonus equation you weren’t expecting:
Lifting Weights + Adequate Protein = Muscle Preservation
While you will likely lose some strength during a fat loss phase due to a decrease in overall calories (which we need to fuel workouts), you’ll be much better off lifting than not.
While these are all important factors that warrant their own category, I’ve lumped them all into one since they all play nicely together.
First and foremost, no fat loss journey is linear. As much as we’d like to see a solid line that slopes down, it rarely ever happens. Life gets in the way. There are dinners out, happy hours, late nights or early mornings at work, vacations, and any number of other factors. This is why time and consistency are important.
Eating right most of the time is what will allow you to navigate those times that are a bit tougher. You don’t need to be perfect, but you *do* need to be consistent. Being consistent over time is what will get you results.
That, of course, requires patience. You will not be where you want to be overnight. My general rule of thumb? Take however long you think it’ll be to achieve your goal and double it, possibly even triple it. This gives you plenty of time to learn the process, develop good habits, and allow yourself some wiggle room for any slip-ups. If you need or want to learn more about how important patience is in your fitness journey, check out this post I wrote on Monday.
Boom. Time/Consistency/Patience. Learn them, love them, practice them.
So there you have it! The magic equation for fat loss revealed! All diets create a deficit no matter which way you shape it. Questions, comments, or want to get started on your journey? Let’s talk!