Gained ‘Isolation’ Fat? Lose it Fast!
Here at Magnifaskin we don’t just provide beauty treatments. We care about your health too. We offer health-focused treatments such as Spectracell Micronutrient Testing, IV Therapy, Blue and Red Light Therapy, and Vitamin Therapy. Beauty starts on the inside, with a healthy body and a positive mindset. In fact, a good case can be made for the idea that it all starts with our mindset. Our body will follow where our mind leads. A positive self-image and confidence in ourselves compel us to make healthy choices and to better look after ourselves. When we feel good about ourselves, we project that to others. In fact, our body image is the number one factor in our self-esteem. While studies on this vary, most show that 70 – 80 percent of adult women are dissatisfied with their bodies. Now, with summer fast approaching, we know that this year is going to be extra stressful for those of us trying to get our beach bod ready. Self-isolation and stress from the Coronavirus pandemic have caused many of us to pack on pounds at a time of year when we’re generally striving to lose weight. Now that life is getting back to normal, with many businesses (including ours) re-opening over the coming weeks, we’ve invited our guest diet and fitness blogger, Will Dove, to show us two methods to lose weight fast while doing so in a healthy and sustainable way.
The Truth About Obesity: It’s Not What You’ve Been Told
Will has written several articles for us in the past. If you haven’t read them we highly recommend his 3-part series on how we’ve all been set up to fail at our body-image goals by the high-sugar, processed foods diet. You can read Will’s previous posts here:
Thx, Christy. It’s a pleasure to be invited back to help your clients once again to understand their body better, in order to make healthy changes.
Who Am I, And Why Should You Listen To Me?
I’m not a doctor or a nutritionist. But I have been a bodybuilder and fitness model for many years. I’m now 54 and still modelling from time to time. I’m not telling you that to show off but so you can understand that the advice I’m going to give here transcends both age and gender. If I can be healthy, fit (and thin!) in my mid-50s so can you, no matter how old you are. Also, while I know I look like a bodybuilder, my focus over the past 10 years has mostly been on healthy methods for controlling body fat. While obesity is not a disease, but rather a symptom, the fact remains that the diet that leads many of us to being overweight is not just unhealthy, it’s toxic. To learn why please read my previous posts.
Shedding Those Isolation Pounds Fast
While I would love for more people to understand exactly how the industrialized diet is poisoning us, I get that’s not why you’re reading this. You want to know how to lose those extra pounds in time for summer. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with that, and I genuinely hope this post will set you on the right track, not to just getting your body bikini-ready in time for summer, but doing so in a way that’s healthy and sustainable.
What Not To Do
There are two things I can tell you right now you shouldn’t do. The first is diet. The second is excessive cardio exercise. I know. You’ve been told your whole life that these are the keys to losing weight. Too bad that the first is bad for you, and the second simply doesn’t work.
To understand why diets are bad you’ll need to read my previous posts, as I don’t have space to cover that here. Suffice it to say they are extremely unhealthy, don’t work literally 99% of the time, and a ‘successful’ diet is a metabolic disaster for your body due to the muscle mass you will lose. Note that throughout this post I’m going to be using the word ‘diet’. Most of the time I mean diet in the sense of what we eat every day, and not a temporary reduction in calories, which is ‘a diet’.
As to cardio exercise, while I’m obviously a big proponent of regular exercise, as the list of benefits for your health and life fill whole books (one of the best is Spark by Dr. John Ratey) exercise is almost completely ineffective for weight loss. I know the fitness industry would love you to believe otherwise, but aside from those who are very advanced in their body manipulation (fitness models and bodybuilders) cardio exercise simply won’t have enough of an effect to be worth your time and energy. Once again, I’m not telling you not to exercise. I’m just driving home the point that if you’re expecting it to help with weight loss you will be very disappointed in the lack of results.
One other thing I would really advise you not to do is use diet pills. Diet pills are really nothing but large amounts of caffeine and other stimulants that speed up your metabolism. In my opinion, the few extra calories you will burn from this method are simply not worth the metabolic stress on your body, or the added anxiety you will almost certainly suffer from taking such high doses of stimulants.
What Does Work!
There are two methods for losing weight fast that are both healthy and effective. I’m going to cover both in greater detail below but I want to start with the commonalities that make both of these methods highly effective.
The reason we gain weight so easily has to do with our industrialized, high-sugar diet. Once again, I can’t cover here the exact metabolic reasons for that, but if you read my previous 3 posts you’ll understand how that diet is setting us all up to be fat and sick. It’s almost impossible to be healthy and lean on a high-sugar, processed-foods diet. The two methods below work largely because they are low (or no) sugar, whole foods diets. So if you’re used to eating pre-prepared foods, you’re going to have to accept that shedding those extra pounds is going to require a lifestyle change.
And that brings me to a vital point.
A temporary change in your eating habits will produce a temporary change in your body.
Period. Full stop. This is why diets don’t work. They are by their very nature temporary. Over 99% of people who lose weight on a diet gain it all back within 5 years. Why? Because they went back to eating the way they did before. The only way to achieve a permanent change in your body is to adopt a permanent change in your lifestyle.
Lose Weight Fast – Method 1: The Secret BodyBuilder’s Diet
Of all athletes, bodybuilders understand more about losing fat while keeping muscle than anyone else. For decades now, bodybuilders have used the following method to shed fat fast for competitions while keeping the majority of their muscle. This includes the ladies.
The secret is to reduce calories below your body’s maintenance level (not a diet as I will demonstrate later in this post) while keeping your metabolism high and turning your body into a fat-burning machine. The image of me above was achieved using this method, and it is the same method that is used by almost all bodybuilders and fitness models, both male and female.
How Bodybuilders Eat
The method is simple. Small meals eaten every 2 to 4 hours. Large meals spaced wide apart, which is the way we’ve all been taught to eat, cause huge insulin spikes after every meal. Insulin is the hormone that tells your body to store fat, so if you eat this way, even if you cut calories, you’ll burn more muscle and retain more fat. Yes, it is actually possible to lose weight but gain fat! By eating small meals close together you keep your insulin level steady so you’re not triggering fat storage. By keeping the portions small you avoid the energy drop that comes when your body thinks it’s starving. This method works because of the combination of the following factors:
- No insulin spikes to prompt fat storage
- Less than maintenance calories so your body is forced to burn fat to make up the deficit
- Frequent meals keep your metabolism high, prompting even more fat burning
- One major advantage of this method is that it requires less self-discipline than the Intermittent Fasting method I’ll discuss below.
To learn more about this method I strongly recommend Tom Venuto’s book Burn the Fat, Feed the Muscle. You can consider this book the bodybuilding diet bible. It is highly detailed and will take some time to read, but I promise if you apply Tom’s methods you will succeed in achieving your body image goals.
Lose Weight Fast – Method 2: Intermittent Fasting
Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the past couple of years, you’ve heard of intermittent fasting. IF comes in a number of forms but they all have in common long periods without any food at all. Something amazing happens to our body when we go without food for more than 12 hours. Our body depletes its supply of glucose and shifts to burning almost pure fat for energy. This is called ketosis as our cells stop burning glucose and start burning ketone bodies. Ketone bodies are produced in our liver from fat stores and are not just an alternative energy source for our cells, but a more efficient one.
As an added bonus to this method you will also experience greater mental alertness, more energy, and for many people a mood boost as well.
While this method is not for everybody, as some people have a harder time than others adapting to long periods without food, it is very effective. It’s important to note though, that it is neither more nor less effective than the bodybuilder’s diet discussed above. The two methods are different and both will work. Use what seems right for you.
The Best Form of IF?
If you get into intermittent fasting you will learn quickly that many different methods are proposed, from long fasts lasting a week or more to daily fasting where food is only consumed within a narrow window each day. I’ve experimented with them all. While this is completely based upon my own experience, I feel that daily fasting is the best method.
Most people start out with a 12/12 cycle. That is, eating for 12 hours, then fasting for 12. Since you’ll spend a lot of your fasting hours sleeping, many people find this a good way to get used to IF. It can be as simple as skipping breakfast, provided you break your fast with healthy food. You can then gradually narrow your eating window to what works best for you. I fast almost every day, and after a year of IF, I now eat in a 3-hour window, from 5 to 8 p.m. I feel great, and maintaining my weight is effortless.
What To Eat
Regardless of which method you use, eating healthy foods is essential to success. If you eat high-sugar, processed foods these methods will not work. That diet is toxic and virtually engineered to make you fat. You absolutely must cut out all processed foods. A diet high in protein and vegetables is best. To add variety cheese is good (but other milk products are not recommended) as well as some fruit, although fruit should be kept to a minimum due to the high fructose content. For energy you can eat whole grains.
Whole Grains Does Not Mean Bread!
I must be very clear on what I mean here. Whole grain does not mean whole grain bread or bread products of any kind! Bread is a processed food. In fact, it’s the original processed food and the daily consumption of bread was the primary reason ancient Egyptians had as much of a problem with obesity as we do. Don’t believe me? Google it. Their hieroglyphs were stylized representations. Most Egyptian adults were overweight. Our body turns processed grain into glucose very quickly. If I haven’t been clear enough let me say it again. Don’t eat bread. Ever. This includes all products made from grain such as crackers, granola bars, cookies, cake, and so on. If it contains flour, don’t eat it.
So what do you eat? For energy and fiber you can’t beat whole oats. I make my own muesli with whole large flake oats, raisins (although not too much as these contain sugar), sunflower seeds and nuts (use whatever kind you like – I prefer walnuts). A small serving of this sugar-free homemade muesli will keep your blood sugar from dropping too low, which will negatively affect your energy and mood.
How Much To Eat?
Here we get to a very important concept that I alluded to earlier. In order to lose weight fast you must reduce your calories below your body’s maintenance. There are 3500 calories in a pound of body fat. To lose one pound a week you would need to consume 500 calories per day less than your body needs. This is the inescapable math of weight loss. But how do you know your maintenance, and why isn’t this a diet?
It’s Not a Diet, If…
I’ve already categorically stated that diets are very bad for you. Never diet. Ever. And so about now you’re probably really confused. After all, isn’t cutting calories below maintenance what a diet is? Well, no. It’s only ‘a diet’ if you’re both cutting calories below maintenance and the change to your eating habits is temporary. If you do this right, the change you make will not be temporary.
Step 1: Calculate Your Required Calories
There are many calculators available online that will tell you how many calories you need in a day to maintain your weight. Too bad they are all wrong. Calculators that use BMI are especially bad. Body Mass Index is completely unreliable for any calculation. A BMI calculator will tell you that I’m obese. Hmmm.
While no calculator is perfect there is one kind that will serve as a very good starting point. It’s called a Total Daily Energy Expenditure calculator, or TDEE. The best one is the Katch-McArdle. You can find a good one here. Note that this calculator requires you to know your body fat percentage. If you’ve never had your BF professionally measured then use one of the visual estimators below. Do not go by the electrical impedance calculators you find in gyms and some doctor’s offices. Those measure water, not fat. They are horribly inaccurate. There are visual charts that are a better quick method to estimate your body fat.
For men (Ladies, don’t use the female images on this page. The mid-range body fat images are simply wrong. Use the one above).
Once you’ve estimated your body fat percentage, you can use the TDEE calculator at the link provided above. This is a good starting point, however, due to differences in muscle mass, the efficiency with which your body runs, and other factors it’s only a starting point. The only way to accurately know how many calories your body burns in a day is through extensive experimentation. If you keep track of your calories consumed long enough and track your weight loss, you can do some simple math. But it takes a long time. A couple of weeks will not produce an accurate number.
Calculating the Goal
Now that you know (roughly) how many calories you are burning daily now, you can use the body fat images and the TDEE calculator to figure out how many calories you need daily to achieve your body image goal. Simply adjust the body fat percentage and weight in the calculator to get this number. You will need the first calculation as well. More on that later.
Why It’s Not a Diet
Now that you know how many calories you need to consume to get the body you want, rather than the one you have, it’s as simple as reducing your daily caloric intake to that level. This is why it’s not a diet. This change is not temporary! Once you learn how to eat to maintain your ideal weight, this is the way you will eat for the rest of your life. You must have that very clear in your mind before you even start. You are adopting a permanent change to your lifestyle. Why? Because a temporary change in your lifestyle will result in a temporary change in your body. What is the point of doing all this if it’s going to be temporary and you’ll just have to do it again and again throughout your life? All that yo-yo-ing of your body weight and eating habits is unhealthy and psychologically damaging. I promise that if you approach this as a permanent change you will not only be healthier, but much happier.
Once you reduce your caloric intake to the maintenance level required for the body you want, rather than the one you have, you need simply stick to the plan and your body will eventually conform to the plan. And the change will be permanent.
Lose Weight Fast – The Accelerated Plan
So about now you’re thinking, “OK, but this sounds like it will take a while? I want to be lean by beach season.” I get that. So here’s what to do. The following is an accelerated plan that will get you thinner, faster, but without setting you up to fail in the long run. The first concept you need to understand is ‘reset days’.
Why a Reset Day is Not a ‘Cheat’ Day
Some diets recommend cheat meals or even cheat days. What I’m about to propose might sound the same but reset days are an entirely different concept. When you reduce your caloric intake below your body’s current maintenance requirements, your body will see that as starvation. It will handle this fine for a day or two, but then it will respond by lowering your metabolism. This is a survival mechanism that is built into our bodies. So you have to trick your body into believing it’s not starving. The way to do this is to have a reset day every 4th or 5th day (I personally believe every 5th day is ideal but you may need to work up to that). On a reset day you eat the maintenance calories for the weight you are now, not for your goal weight. This will ‘reset’ your metabolism and you will actually burn fat faster over the long run than if you kept eating below your maintenance every day. You will also avoid the energy drop that frequently comes from a prolonged reduction in caloric intake.
Reset days apply to both methods, the classic bodybuilder’s diet, and intermittent fasting. But with IF, note that you add those extra calories into your eating window, rather than extending the eating window.
Remember, It’s Not a Cheat Day!
Don’t eat junk! Even if you limit your calories to your maintenance, eating junk will cause you to store most of it as fat rather than burning it. Aside from the obvious problem that you’ve lost ground, you also didn’t reset your metabolism. Because your body stored that junk food as fat (due to the huge insulin spike it gave you) it wasn’t available for energy, so your body still thinks you’re starving.
I’m not saying you can’t indulge once in a while but as a general guideline I would suggest no more than one unhealthy treat per week. This means a small ice cream cone, a modest slice of cake, or a few cookies. Any high dose of sugar is going to mess up your metabolism. For long-term success you need to get to a point where your body craves healthy food. This takes time, but the more you avoid the junk and eat healthy, the sooner you will get to the point where you would rather have a devilled egg than a bag of potato chips.
How to Use the Accelerated Plan
Let’s say you’ve done your calculations and found the following:
Current maintenance calories: 2100
Daily maintenance calories for your target weight: 1800
So if you were to take the longer approach you would simply reduce your daily caloric intake to 1800 calories and in time your body will catch up to your diet. But this is going to take longer than you would like.
So, in this example, we would reduce calories to 1400 per day. This is a 33% reduction from what we’ve been eating and 33% is the most I would recommend anyone do for extended periods. It will also result in an initial weight loss of about 1.25 pounds per week or 5 pounds per month. This is about as fast as it is possible to lose fat and do so in a healthy way. Now add in your reset days, but remember that you’re losing fat, so you need to gradually reduce the number of calories eaten on your reset days as you close in on your goal weight. If you forget to do this you’ll end up overeating on those days and losing hard-earned ground.
Second, as your goal weight approaches, you’ll need to gradually increase your daily caloric intake. Weaning your body off the extreme calorie deficit slowly is vital for long-term success. Otherwise you’re likely to hit your goal weight and binge, undoing all your hard work. While this does mean that progress will slow down the closer you get to your ideal body, it will do that anyway as the gap between caloric deficit and maintenance calories narrows. Weaning off slowly makes long term success much more likely.
How Long Do I Have to Count Calories?
There’s no question that counting calories is tedious. You need to measure or weigh everything to get accurate numbers, and accurate numbers are very important. So here’s the good news. Most of us only need to do this for a couple of weeks. We tend to eat the same foods over and over again. After a couple of weeks of carefully counting calories you’ll get pretty good at estimating how many calories of each thing you are consuming, and counting calories can be reserved only for new foods or those you don’t eat very often.
A Final Word About Exercise
After all the effort I put in early in this post to convince you that exercise is useless for losing weight, I’m now going to urge you to exercise regularly while following this plan. Here’s why.
We know that our body can easily become chemically dependent on any of a variety of substances, from caffeine to nicotine to alcohol. And while most of us aren’t addicted to these substances many of us are addicted to sugar. And it’s a physical addiction. Sugar lights up the same areas of the brain as cocaine. It is highly likely that you, yes you, are a sugar addict!
This means when you switch to healthy whole foods you’re going to experience withdrawal. Your brain wants its hit of sugar. Addictions work by hijacking our serotonin and dopamine systems, and the urges can be both overpowering and relentless.
Exercise is by far the best method known to man to balance these neurotransmitters. Many studies have shown that exercise is better for regulating mood and self-control than any drug ever made. If you want long-term success at anything, there is nothing you can do that will prime your brain to be your partner rather than your enemy that will be more effective than regular, intense exercise.
I know this is a very long post and if you’ve read this far you’ve already shown greater dedication than most people have. Now it’s time to implement whichever method you feel will work best for you, or experiment with both and see which you prefer.
I genuinely wish you success, but I’d also like to remind you that the real goal is to be healthy and to feel good about ourselves. Before you even begin, be sure your goals are realistic. If they’re not you’re just setting yourself up to fail. Ask yourself if having a body that looks like it belongs on the cover of Cosmo is really that important to your long-term happiness. Don’t listen to media representations of beauty or even other people in your life. As long as you’re healthy, fit, and happy you, and only you, get to decide what your ‘ideal’ body is.
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