Spring is exactly two months away – March 20th to be exact. Warm weather is just around the corner and “shirts off” season will be here before you know it. What’s all that mean?
It means that in order to achieve your fitness goals, you need to get spring fever now. Everyone desires to look their best when summer is in full swing but most people simply wait too long.
For most people, the problem of not achieving optimal body composition is usually a result of two factors:
- Most individuals don’t have the knowledge to achieve fat loss.
- Most individuals don’t believe in themselves enough to think they can achieve the level of fitness they truly desire.
Listen up – you can do this! Despite the half-zillion mixed messages you hear on fat loss, it’s not quite the rocket science it’s made out to be.
First of, it’s important to understand how fast you can lose fat – and it’s not as fast as most want to believe, but don’t let that discourage you because anyone can do this.
Let’s take a look at the basic fat loss formula using our good friend, Joe, as an example.
Joe weighs in at 220 pounds. He graduated high school at a mean, lean 180 pounds but he feels certain that getting back to 190 pounds would make him feel every bit the young thoroughbred he once was.
Joe must first determine how much body fat he has. He can order a pair of calipers from Amazon for under $10 and test this himself or for a more reliable method, he can stop by any local gym and get a body fat analysis done.
Joe is told that he’s at 23% body fat. That’s fairly average for a guy in his 40’s who doesn’t eat everything in sight but doesn’t really watch what he’s eating.
Joe wants to see his abs again. He knows they’re under that fat somewhere but it’s been a while since he’s seen them. He would love to no longer be able to rest his beer on his stomach during float trips. It’s entertaining and everyone is laughing with Joe, but deep down inside, Joe doesn’t feel it’s quite as funny as he might be letting on.
Abdominal muscles start showing at about 12% body fat for most guys and then really start coming in nicely at 10% or less.
So far, we know that Joe is 220 lbs and he’s 23% body fat. 220 x 23% = 50.6 pound of fat that Joe is carrying around. If he’s like most guys, the majority of that is hanging around his lower belly and love handles. There’s no way to target fat loss though – the first place that fat is stored on your body is the last place it will leave.
Joe has already disclosed that he would like to see his abs again. He doesn’t feel that he needs to be shredded and looking like a body builder. This means that 12% body fat is a great goal for Joe.
Joe’s lean body mass is 170 pounds (220 – 50 pounds of fat). Since Joe desires to be at 12% body fat, we’ll divide his lean body mass by 88% (he wants to be 12% fat).
170/.88 = 193 pounds. This is the weight Joe must achieve to be at 12% body fat.
How To Approach Fat Loss
Joe has already beat one huge obstacle to losing fat. He has acquired the knowledge of knowing how much fat loss must occur to achieve his ideal body composition. He now needs to understand the method of achieving fat loss.
He must first calculate his TDEE. He does this by understanding how many calories a day his body uses. This is his Basal Metabolic Rate or BMR. He must then calculate in his daily energy requirements. How many calories a day is Joe expending? Use the Daily Energy Calorie Calculator on that same page to arrive at this number.
Joe now knows how many calories a day his body is using and he must eat less calories than that every day.
Now here is where people often struggle and see a lot of hard effort go to waste. They will reduce calories every day, all week long, and they’ll have achieved a deficit of 1500 – 2500 calories by week’s end. That’s ideal and it means that fat absolutely had to be burned – assuming Joe is applying resistance to his muscles a few times a week. Resistance ensures that loss of muscle doesn’t occur and the calories burned all come from fat.
But Joe is hanging out with some friends on Saturday night and they want pizza. Joe’s been doing great all week – he’s lifted weight five different days and hit the cardio four times. He’s feeling better than ever. He decides that one night won’t hurt and he hits the pizza buffet with his friends.
One slice of Pizza Hut Meat Lovers is 420 calories. If Joe is eating the buffet in addition to normal calories he’s already consumed throughout the day, he’ll completely erase the week-long deficit he achieved in only four slices of pizza from the buffet – not exactly a difficult amount to eat for the average guy.
Having trained hard all week, he’s improved his fitness and he’s maintained all his muscle and he’s probably even firming up in places he didn’t remember being firm – but if it’s fat loss Joe is after, he’s wasted a week.
The obvious solution here is to plan ahead. If Joe wants to have a weekend night and feast with friends (and he definitely should), he should avoid calories in the earlier part of the day. Fasting for a few extra hours is actually a great way to expedite fat loss – and it has several other benefits in helping to rid the body of toxins from a constant influx of calories.
The other option is for Joe to expend more calories in the week, or that day, in preparation for the surplus of calories that evening. A couple 45-minute sessions of fast-walking on the treadmill can easily add up to 1,000 calories or more.
At this point, Joe has learned the rules. He understands how to eat for abs and he’s making sure to maintain a caloric deficit every week but he still wants to know how long it will take to lose 27 pounds of fat (220 – 193)?
Maintaining a caloric deficit of 2-400 calories a day will see most people lose 1-2 pound a week. That number sounds disheartening to some but up to eight pounds of fat loss in a single month is significant and quite an accomplishment! In the case of Joe, he’s looking at achieving his goal by May if he starts today and remains dedicated.
The good news for those who haven’t been working out or just made a decision to do so again, is that these individuals will achieve fat loss at a much faster rate.
Dieting is necessary to lose fat but once your desired weight is achieved, you can go back to eating your daily allotted calories without the deficit – just don’t go back to the old ways or the fat will quickly return. A few months of hard work and dedication can change your life – including your mood and your attitude. All you need is a specific set of goals, relentless commitment toward those goals and a simple understanding of how the fat loss formula works.