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Friday, 13 January 2017

Conquering Bodyfat

By Pete Ryan

This time of year a lot of people are on the fat loss hunt. Looking to cull some of the fat they have accumulated over the last few years (or even decades!).  The dream of achieving leanness for some is an elusive goal. So, maybe we should run through one way to achieve your goal. Not everyone is the same, but there are a few basic rules that are common to virtually everyone.
The fatter you are, the easier you will lose fat (at the start).
If you have 25% bodyfat and you are a male you will be able to drop to 20% bodyfat much easier than a male at 20% bodyfat trying to drop to 15%, dropping from 15% to 10% or below will depend on a tough program to reach those goals.
Females naturally carry a little more fat and so if you add 5% fat to each of the above scenarios, then they are about comparable. So, a female with 30% fat can get to 25% with a few changes, while a female trying to drop from 25% to 20% will find things a little bit harder, and usually getting from 20% bodyfat to 15% or under is a very much harder proposition.

Stage 1: A male getting from 25% to 20% bodyfat or a female trying to get from 30% to 25% bodyfat.

A 25% bodyfat male or a 30% bodyfat female is usually considered overweight.  The usual reason for this is a bad diet and/or excessive calories along with a lack of exercise. This fix is relatively simple. Simply pick one or two bad habits and change them. So, stop drinking sodas and switch to herbal tea, find a slightly less calorie dense meal or choose a healthier dessert.  Along with that add a little exercise, like a short 10 minute walk after each meal, or similar.  You do not need anything too harsh to drop this weight normally.  However, if you have stuck with it for a month and the weight hasn’t shifted, simply add in a few more changes and see how that affects your body fat levels.

Stage 2: A male getting from 20% to 15% bodyfat or a female trying to get from 25% to 20% bodyfat.

This is what most people would consider a healthy range. So, your body is most comfortable hanging around these fat levels. To get a change you have to start making different changes to get fat loss continuing.  The first suggestion is to tighten up the diet a little more.  This can be trickier than the earlier fat loss as you may have removed most of the regular foods that are associated with fat loss.  Some people may need to work on portion control (the size of the plate), or really refine their food choices for some of the meals to hit their goals. In terms of exercise I would keep the walking in and add in weight training.  I would use a faster paced workout (once the exercises are mastered), resting very little.  You are not going for lifting the maximum you can, but to accumulate fatigue and ramp up the metabolism if you are interested in a routine to get you started, let me know below and tell me what equipment you have available and I will see if I have time to get a routine sorted out for you.
So, your diet improves again (you are about 70% healthy whole foods and 30% other stuff) at this point.  You can still have that slice of pizza or a glass of wine when you go out for that weekend meal, but much of the time you are eating healthy, mainly whole foods.

Stage 3: A male getting under 15% and a female getting under 20%

This is when you need to dial in your diet and exercise. Many people dropping to these body fat levels are athletes or into fitness.  To achieve this you should keep up everything you have included before, but you should be exercising with weights 3 times a week as well as walking or jogging for cardiovascular health. Your diet will also have to get tighter.  You should be aiming at 80-90% healthy whole foods and 10-20% other food.  So, you do not go without foods that are not ideal, but you do limit them. This might vary from person to person.  One person may need to be stricter than another, but everyone will need some discipline with their diet and exercise to achieve these goals.

Stage 4: Once you are there

Once you have reached your goal bodyfat levels, whether this is 18%, 14% or whatever, you have to move towards a maintenance diet.  This does not mean returning to how you ate before, but you do not need to be as strict to maintain as you need to be to lose bodyfat.  You can slacken the diet slightly, but do not forget to eat a large percentage of healthy, whole food. The lower your body fat, the more strict you need to be to continue to maintain that fat level, otherwise the fat levels will begin to climb again.
So consider this when you set your goals.  If you are a guy and you want 10% or less body fat, then remember you might have work to maintain that, while at 15% you may hardly notice any effort at all. Obviously there are outliers, those who find it super-hard to lose fat and those who find it super-easy to stay ripped, but for most of us staying around the 15% bodyfat for males and the 20% bodyfat for females is relatively painless once you get there.
Hopefully this brief guide will give you an insight into how you should approach your fat loss. I will leave you with this saying.  I cannot remember who originally said it, but I’ll paraphrase it below:

Usually you need to wait to receive the benefits from good things and often the immediate result isn’t the most pleasurable.
Usually you get immediate pleasure from bad things, but later there is always a price.

An example explaining the above saying can be working out, or making good food choices.  The immediate result is a hard workout or not eating something very tasty.  The later result is increased healthy and vitality.
You could also just lie in bed instead of working out and eat cake.  The immediate benefit is snuggling down in a soft quilt and enjoying the cake.  The later result is reduced health, tiredness and an increased risk of chronic illness.
So choose wisely.

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